Where some earlier “progressives,” including the French Jacobins, the Bolsheviks and the Khmer Rouge, believed that humanity might be changed for the better by eradicating, or radically altering, the Christian calendar, their successors including in the soft underbelly of the same leftist gene pool, seem to be of the view that constitutional amendments are the way to go.
Of course, they are on a bit of a roll in Ireland given their victories in the referendums to legally change the traditional and time-tested definition of marriage and the protection of life. Perhaps then, they cannot be blamed for believing that any other notions they might have for the “improvement” of us all can also be expedited by similar means.
This project is bolstered by the citizen assemblies which have become a cherished means of getting a lot of randomers into a room, giving them free grub and bringing in lots of experts, the vast majority of whom favour whatever change is being proposed, to persuade the flattered audience that whatever the latest fad is can only be good for them and for everyone else, no matter what their common sense might be telling them.
Ideally, this can then be used as evidence of popular demand for a referendum for whatever the initiators want to do. Recent governments have been particularly prone to this device as it firstly avoids them having to bite the bullet until so pressed, and secondly it that it allows the flabby blancmange of the “centre right” to be moulded into whatever strange shape is desired by various bands of activists who have been adroit at mobilising these means to their own end.
Sometimes, ministers simply forget, it seems, to oppose whatever the latest scheme is. But mostly because they are so bereft of any ideas of their own that they are easily persuaded that those who shout the loudest must be the most progressive and most correct.
Thus, on Tuesday, there were seven almost identical questions asking An Taoiseach if he had, like, any plans for more referendums. Six of the seven questions were from leading members of the left opposition, and one from Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe who perhaps believes that if he does not keep up, large sections of progressive youth might spurn him at the next hustings.
It is all a bit like the kids in the back of the car demanding to know when you will be stopping at McDonald’s. But of course, behind it all there is the astute belief, bolstered by extensive lobbying from various interest groups, that this is indeed the best way to get stuff that nobody was actually elected into government to deliver.
In their follow ups, the various questioners outlined that stuff: housing for everyone, equality for everyone, “gender neutral language,” nationalising water (which is already nationalised but that’s beside the point), a national “conversation” about stuff, something I think to do with legalising certain types of drugs (McAuliffe), and so on.
In his reply, the Taoiseach said that he would only love to have more referendums, especially on gender equality – which one suspects and one would be correct in suspecting will have nothing to do with equality between men and women – and even one on housing.
The Gold Star for pushing out the referendum envelope for this week must, however, be awarded to Green TD Patrick Costello who wants to know if his party colleague, the Minister for Making Everyone the Same and Happy, Roderic O’Gorman, will propose a referendum to the constitution that will embody “gender neutral language.”
Specifically, he explained, as it effects “the articles on the role of the President.”
Now hold on a minute pal, a chap or a gal, might say, have we not had two women as Presidents? In what way did the constitutional articles which mention “he” and “his” referring to that office impede or impact in any way good or ill on their being nominated or elected to that office as women? And you would be correct, but Costello seems to believe that it did in some bizarre post facto manner.
However, his primary point seems to be that it might put off anyone who was considering a run at the Áras who “may be non-gender binary.”
None of this requires the whole rigmarole of a constitutional amendment for the simple reason that it would have no practical effect whatsoever on how the office of the President operates, nor who can be nominated or elected to that office. If someone who styles themselves as Costello describes wishes to throw their hat into the ring, then there are no criteria other than those which apply to anyone else that would prevent them doing so.
O’Gorman refused to rise to this, but instead used the opportunity to reiterate the government’s commitment to other “gender equality” amendments by referendum, none of which likewise impact on how citizens of either or non-determinate gender are treated under the law of the state.
Possible referendums on other issues such as housing, and whatever else there might be proposed once that is gotten approval, do have the capacity to fundamentally alter the exercise of other rights, such as the right to property including the right of people to own their own home. Better that we not be too much distracted by the more ludicrous examples.
The danger of rolling constitutional amendments is that, as we saw with the abolition of the constitutional protection of the life of the unborn child, a particular ideology – and all the implications of that ideology – can be imposed through changing the basic constitutional rights of citizens.
That danger was understood by the French “reactionary” De Maistre in the 18th century when he stated that fundamental rights, as established under Christian civilisation, pre-exist any written law, and more to the point that the multiplicity of alleged constitutional protections only weaken the protection of those rights. The reason for this is that fundamental rights are made the target of arbitrary amendment, or even abolition, as in the case of the unborn child.
The Left long ago lost the battle in its project to enforce an equality of outcome that goes against the crooked timber of humanity. It has only ever been capable of imposing those fallacies through violence enforced through the power of the state. The post socialist left for the most part has realised that socialism or a popular socialist revolution as a supposedly benign means to achieve a nebulous egalitarianism of the anthill is a busted flush.
It has replaced any project for economic equality by attempting to impose its “values” through capturing existing institutions; the so-called “long march through the institutions.” The constant efforts to alter lived reality by acquiring the means to impose those values through the educational system and the mass media is of a piece with their unending demand for constitutional change through referendum.