A country not owned by the rich and fashionably sophisticated
One of the main concerns of members of middle classes anywhere, and not just in the West, is to appear rich and sophisticated. Sometimes fidelity to this appearance does lead to a genuine gentleness of spirit; to an engagement with art, and culture and music and the idea of enlightenment neither as an affectation nor snobbery but because they hold the hope that souls can be opened and made generous.
It's fashionable on the left to demonise the middle classes and to hold dear to working class roots of the sort I have. It always has been. Yet so many give their lives as teachers, as people who genuinely think that they are doing good and some of them are, in quiet dignity. I know others don't, but that's true of many classes and all people sometimes.
People shouldn't be blamed for their backgrounds anymore than they should really be applauded for them. Over fifty per cent of the people of this planet now are urban, a greater percentage are divorced from agriculture for the first time in human history. A farmer is now alien to most. Yet farmers, and urbanites, and middle class people and working people all have their place in a decent society.
It is one of the features of our times that both those who uphold and those who seek to change existing orders spend a great deal of their time attacking and confronting others. It has become a political affectation to divide, to sneer, or to push away.
In my darker moments I think such things an offence against the Holy Spirit and against a basic rational humanity to which we should all commit ourselves. It's a sort of catholic laziness, I suppose; to divide one's mind into the idea of a secular, rational ideal of public respect and a private understanding that all but love and god passes away.
We should bring people together, find common ground, and only push away the stupidity and brutality that stops us realising that we are all in the same boat and headed for the same place, in the end. Sometimes, of course, that means pushing away people. I understand that, but I don't like it.
Still, I can't help but be pleased on account of one of my countries tonight--because, though England made me, I am a citizen of Ireland too--after the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty. All those pretend sophisticates in the pale, and the soi-disant European federalists have left is a general condemnation of ordinary people.
It may well be that ordinary people in Ireland are being provided with a platform by American millionaires. It could be that their votes are tied to vague misapprehensions or to local concerns. Yet voters have this way of, as a group, getting big questions right.
When they can do so and annoy the usual middle-class and sophisticated groups (in many cases an institutionalised and vulgar gang afloat on credit) and remind people that they own their country because their families died for it, in the face of all their politicians, what can you do but applaud?
An awful lot of guff has been talked and written about the vital amendments of the Treaty of Rome which would have been effected by the now-defunct constitution and its attendant regeneration in the form of the Lisbon Treaty.
As far as I can see, they represent a sort of wishful streamlining of a congeries of treaties, and agreements that in their proper form do not do that much harm and do lawyers well without undermining the European Convention on Human Rights, the really important document. That collection of treaties is clearly more than workable, and I really have to wonder who weeps for the amendments?
Who after all needs to cast the European Union as some sort of American-style continental Empire? Who needs to imagine a new, Roman-with-dvds-Europe into existence by depriving small states of their commissioners and extending majority voting where it need not go?
If the ultimate outcome of what around thirty per cent of the great, extraordinary Irish people lucky enough to live in that country outside of west Britain have done is to create a multi-speed Europe, all the better. As my regular reader knows, I've thought for over a year and a half that a euro break-up was more than likely, that the strains in attempting to create a twentieth-century style order would split the union. Why should people in Donegal and Clare not see that? The Germans who are only using euro notes with x-serial numbers, because they aren't issued in the South, can see it, but journalists don't understand what they are doing so we don't get the same level of sneering.
What the ordinary people of Ireland have done is to make a freer Europe possible, without undermining the achievements of the community in trade and economic regulation. They have also reminded their elites who it is who runs and owns the republic.
England, so long as London is not separated by self-government from the rest of the country, will probably not be allowed that voice by all the rich and sophisticated concentrated in the metropolis, occupied defining sophistication for everyone else. It is still vital that it was done, however, and I'm glad the Irish voters did it.
The icing on the cake is that this keeps Ireland out of any mad European army, which, though not in the treaty, was the obvious next step. If the bag and baggage of great-power lobbying and the pretensions of a 'democracy' stretching across nearly thirty peoples, dozens of languages, and elite driven voting systems that produce the likes of Mary Honeyball MEP and Bernard Kouchner, inter alia, is gone too, great.
If a Union with a border on Iran and Iraq, extending to the mad escapade of Turkish or Libyan membership must now be reconsidered, and supplanted by less arrogant accommodations of those states, all the better.
What a weekend. People like David Davis discovering their principles; potential solutions to the oil crisis; Ireland standing up and being counted; the Supreme Court of the United States finally discovering the light switch of the law again; it all makes me smile.
So of course, I will wake up tomorrow from my particular narcissistic bubble to find that we are still in the descent pattern and that those who think themselves in charge have made sure the nose is pointing down.
Still, tonight I'm happy. God bless Ireland, though in truth he doesn't need to. Not twice.