President Michael D. Higgins is very much against any concentration of power that might lead to “an absurd form of dictatorship.” Oh, and that “you don’t have to be a mad left wing person to believe that.”
Where would you even start?
Perhaps Higgins was engaging in the sort of “playful” irony beloved of the likes of the now much lesser quoted Michel Foucault – to whom he has referred to on at least one occasion in his magisterial pronouncements on this that and t’other.
In a speech at the Galway International Arts Festival in 2018, Higgins boasted about having introduced Foucault to the curriculum at Galway University and how students had said that the President’s use of Foucault’s concepts of gender and class in the social sciences had “taken it all apart for them.”
Which, as the best critiques of Foucault have shown, is really what Foucault was interested in. Taking things apart, discovering what he claimed were the oppressive bases of western civilization and seeking to destroy them. I don’t recall that he ever suggested that there was anything better with which to replace them. Quite the contrary.
Which led Foucault himself variously on a journey from the Communist Party of France, through admiration for the violence of the Maoist Cultural Revolution to initial support for the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Not to mention his own individual contributions, it would seem, to subverting norms.
Of course, Higgins is not responsible for Foucault, but in the spirit of intellectual rigour much beloved of the post-modern Left (some post-modern irony coming at ya there …) Foucault’s disciples ought to be interrogated about the actual meaning and intent of his ideas. Ideas incidentally, as Higgins himself once noted., which were in turn deeply influenced by Martin Heidegger whose legacy, as Higgins noted, “continues to be haunted by his monstrous moral failings in the 1930s and the 1940s.”
As indeed they ought to be. Just as a whole raft of the other icons of the post modern post socialist left ought to judged by their “monstrous moral failings” which range from the type of political and other actions of Foucault, to Sartre’s lifelong apologia for Stalinism, and to the contemporary Left’s failure to confront the continued monstrosity of Marxist totalitarianism where it still dominates the lives of those unfortunate to live in places like China, or North Korea, or Cuba.
Speaking of Cuba. When Fidel Castro died in 2016, Higgins eulogised the dead dictator whose regime had killed tens of thousands and imprisoned and tortured countless others over the course of Communist Party dictatorship as “a giant among global leaders.”
He also referred to the myth that Cuba has a health service which is “one of the most admired in the world,” “100% literacy” and low levels of inequality and poverty. This is the sort of crap I used to believe when as a teenager I read that every Albanian had 1.75 colour TVs and that every East German girl was studying quantum physics.
Anyone who has met a Cuban who managed to escape socialism, or read accounts of the lifestyle of the Castro gang with their private island, jets and bank accounts, will know that the only equality that exists is the equality of grinding poverty and repression outside of the ruling elite. There are Irish republicans who have been beneficiaries of the opulence of the Castros which has been likened to that of Roman Emperors.
Higgins’ paean to the dead dictator led to his being invited in to visit Cuba in 2017 by Raul Castro who took over the family business after the Capo di tutti I Capi’s departure. While there, Higgins was photographed happily in the company of the armed forces that have imposed Communism and protected the cosseted and vastly wealthy Communist elite for generations.
The armed forces and police and Party apparatchiks who at that very time were engaged in intensified repression that followed the death of Fidel. It was estimated that there had been an average of 827 political detentions a month following his death. That led to some of those detained going on hunger strike.
They included three members of the Leyva family who were being held in Havana while Higgins was apparently chatting about human rights with Raul. They had been sentenced in January 2017 for counter-revolutionary defamation and had embarked on a hunger strike on March 7. Their mother had refused to allow the prison doctors to force feed them. Echoes of Thomas Ashe and Terence MacSwiney. I don’t need to surmise whose side they would be on.
The Leyva siblings and other Cubans, including black and gay activists associated with the San Isidro movement, continue to be subject to arbitrary detentions and beatings at the hands of the regime. Not once, ever, has any of our sanctimonious leftie chorus made a peep about any of this. You would have to resort to the deplorable Gript to find any mention here of their plight.
“Former hunger striker Adrian Curuneaux Stevens.” https://directories.org/news/9851939
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Apart from all of that, the Irish Left’s moral objections to the dominant role of billionaires in the world of social media or in influencing contemporary discourse is frankly risible. There is not one single leftist entity in this country that does not benefit in some manner, big or small in financial and other logistical ways, from the support of these people.
One of their greatest “achievements” was the legalisation of abortion on demand. It is probably their only achievement as the Irish left has had no part in any of the practical state measures over the past century to create the sort of public provisions that are genuinely attributed to the British Labour Party or the Scandinavian social democrats for example. The Irish equivalent of that was Fianna Fáil for 30 or 40 years before it lost its bearings like the rest of them.
It is clear that a large part of the “achievement” was the left liberal dominance not only of mainstream media, but the manipulation of the public debate by social media. Social media owned by “good billionaires.”
So, when someone from the Irish Left bangs on about billionaires and dictatorship and what not, they really ought to be “called out” on it.