Strange Days – Revisited

26 June, 2010

One of my favourite writers is Francis Wheen, who gave us How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered the World and a well-received biography of Karl Marx.

I’m currently enjoying his overview of some of the darker aspects of the 1970s,  Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia. And in Chapter 12 I found highlighted a quotation from the Italian writer and political theorist Antonio Gramsci (1891 – 1937) which Wheen felt was apposite to Britain’s situation in the mid-Seventies:

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms.”

It struck me that Ireland in 2010 is experiencing such symptoms, and we are perhaps in an interregnum of our own.  I live in hope that the era of corruption and incompetence (of which Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fáil was the paradigm) is coming to an end, and a more honest and mature society will evolve.  But in the meantime, we witness our own circus of “morbid symptoms”: the banking crisis, the property crash, NAMA, the rise of Labour, the bizarre success of Joe Higgins, and execrable politicians such as Willie O’Dea, John O’Donoghue, Ivor Callelly, Mary Coughlan and Brian Cowen.


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