not a member? click here to sign up
I predict a riot
What the Dublin disturbances tells us about society.
aka BootBoy, 14 Mar 2006
The feral youth of Ireland prowl the streets of our capital again. An explosion of hate, and it makes world headlines. I had a graphic taste of it from abroad watching the video footage and reading the persuasive reportage and analysis on indymedia.ie. I found it upsetting and disturbing.
I’ve been interested in what pushes men to violence for a long time. I am not sure what happened that Saturday was easily classifiable as “political” or “sectarian” or “fascist” or “class-warfare” or “anarchist” or (disingenuously) “mere” hooliganism. (The word of course has Irish origins. How could it not?)
How we describe problematic phenomena gives us clues as to how we can solve them. I am sure that 99% of those adrenaline-pumped hoodied lads had never been to the Falls Road or the Bogside, and probably had never been to the North or clapped eyes on an Orangeman or a British soldier before. If it was sectarianism, it was of the television kind, so it must have been true. Although, seeing the hate seething away on some republican bulletin boards, perhaps cyber-sectarianism is more apt. Some people really seem to believe the cause of the riots to be the parlous physical state of O’Connell Street itself, almost as if they were boisterous children let loose in a dangerous playground by negligent teachers. The authorities “out there” are to blame, we are not responsible: it wasn’t me that broke the window, Miss, it was him. He just fell into it, honestly, over them bricks.
We Irish are masters of the blame game, because it allows us the indulgence of playing our most familiar, most comforting, most sentimental, most rebel-song/poor-mouth/mine’s -a-pint/arrafuckthelotovyiz role: victim. And once you get attached to playing victim, it’s as hard to be prised away from it as a limpet from a rock. Victimhood gets reified, everything gets filtered through a lens of ossified pain and hate: a virtual shrine to suffering, which needs constant homage. Suffering is an insatiable god. Serving it calls for Matt-Talbot-like doses of masochism, because such misery perpetuates, feeds on itself. Like a needy narcissistic Irish Mammy training her young ones from day one to dance to her needs and feel ashamed of their own; she’s only doing exactly what her mammy had done, before her.