War & Pieces

 “Oh, every bullet has its billet.”

Vaska Denisov (Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace)

With the French artillery walking into firing range, a few Russian Troops, eager to prove their valour in battle, rode out to burn the last bridge standing between the opposing armies.

Captain Vaska Denisov*, commander of a Hussar squadron, when asked not to put himself at risk gives the above refrain. A better way of expressing the common refrain, “every bullet has a name on it”.

In the same moment, further up the field and out of firing range, Prince Nesvitsky is bemoaning the loss of life certain to come, saying “The hussars will get it hot… he shouldn’t have taken so many men”.

To which his subaltern, the always jesting Zherkov replies, “Ah your Excellency… if they do get peppered, the squadron may be recommended for honours and he may get a ribbon”.

“The currency of current affairs radio, is journalists expressing contempt for politicians”

                                                                      Terry Prone

On Newstalk, Terry Prone went on to tell Jonathan Healy that “What the Jeremy Corbyn thing proves, is that you can have a success that makes everything disastrously worse… Corbyn, I regard as the most dangerous thing to ever happen in Britain…”

Well Terry, the currency of public relations is spin masters politely expressing contempt for the electorate. The hubris and vanity of the above quotes remind me of T.E. Lawrence’s (Laurence of Arabia) famous admission of folly.

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Lawrence realised his errors and his role in the deception of the Arab people. Terry hasn’t seen the error in her assessment. She thinks it is the Labour members who have betrayed the political establishment, not vice versa. The problem, she infers, is that democracy hasn’t limited democracy enough!

The Corbyn detractors, the same crowd who in Ireland spend a great deal denigrating Social Democracy as the loony left, should be uncomfortable with their comfort in constantly sniping at the democratic voice of people they don’t like. But, rather than face their own shortcomings, they’ve doubled down on the dumb electorate narrative.

Terry has a wonderful soft tone and such a pleasant delivery that she seldom gets challenged for her incendiary statements. Imagine had she said that the unelected Prime Minister of Britain, Theresa May, was a the most dangerous thing to happen? Imagine if Paul Murphy had said it? Dawn raids and trumped up charges, perhaps? But in an era, when a bowl of Skittles passes for witty (racist) political discourse, we shouldn’t be surprised.

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I think of the “young, delightful fellows” Lawrence “went up the Tigris (river) with”. Young men “full of happiness” that “we cast by the thousands into the fire” to ensure “that the corn and rice and oil of Mesopotamia might be ours”.

He might as well have being writing about The Donald’s recent pledge to “take the oil”.

The media are horrified that the public haven’t been horrified enough about striking bus drivers. The media are horrified that 46% of people think the government should have taken the Apple €13-19bn. The media are beside themselves with fear that the “squeezed middle” aren’t blaming the poor for their predicament and are instead looking at the Corporate Gouging and Political waste. Seriously, what is the criminal welfare fraud of €40m per year, when put along side the corporate tax avoidance of billions?

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The squeezed middle, the coping classes and the working poor want fairness. And they are not buying the line that the reason their taxes are so high is because someone on minimum wage isn’t paying enough. They know it is because their “overly progressive” taxes, instead of aiding public services, are wasted on new (repackaged) world class plans, that will form a world class planning task force. In the meantime, the various crises get worse.

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We had the longest general election campaign in history, leading to months of political inertia.We then had 70 days faux sparring of government formation. Add to this the 10 weeks holidays and it’s no wonder people have lost faith in the political system.

Paddy, as the last election showed, isn’t fooled by plans and promises. Paddy wants to see action. He knows Citizens Assemblies, Public Forums and Commissions of Inquiry are booming under the New Politics. But he also knows that none of these constructs will change archaic legislation, lift anybody out of poverty, put a sick patient in a bed or deliver enforceable findings against the culprits of corruption.

Jonathan Healy did tell Terry that politics is broken all around the world. Nobody mentions that this fragmentation has come about by The Age of Austerity. The near decade of stagnation, the race to the bottom and the erosion of hard won workers rights. People have been sacrificial pawns in the war to save markets. People “we cast by the thousand into the fire” to restore market confidence.

People stepped up, drank their share of bondholder brew and waited to be Retrospectively Recapitalised for their sacrifices. Only to discover that the war was for nothing. And I can’t help think it’s not Right vs Left; it is Right vs Wrong.

I’m reminded of what Prince Nesvitski said as he watched the Russian Hussars fall to the French cannons – “If I were Tsar, I would never go to war”

 

Tony Groves September 2016

 

*Denisov couldn’t pronounce his R’s and told his subaltern Rostov that he worked like “wegular bwicks”, I’m more of a wegular pwick.

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