But they’re extremists, not like us

Musings elsewhere: “Sanctimonious distaste for the supposedly ‘outlying’ views of the ‘extremists’ mask the fact that both parties are as much a part of the endless peace processing project as their forebears in the UUP and SDLP. The growth of the once fringe parties does not represent a polarisation of politics as much as it represents a total retreat from actual politics into a primarily cultural space where loud but meaningless sham battles function as proxies for the conflict of the past.”‘Right-thinking’ people tend to view the DUP and Sinn Féin as equal and opposite. Supporters, of course, say this untrue – the DUP didn’t have an armed wing and Sinn Féin is significantly more socially liberal. Whatever. That’s not my point. What I am interested in is two things:

– The presentation of the DUP and Sinn Féin as ‘extremists’ is demonstrably untrue and covers the parties massive moves
– It seeks invalidate the votes of an awful lot of people and does nothing to try and change these voters minds

Traditional Unionist Voice, meanwhile, is regularly denounced as neanderthal, but is it not just, well, traditionally unionist? On the republican side, I recently watched some éirígí videos on Youtube and was surprised at how old-fashioned they were. Not in terms of production values, but in how they presented their case.

Amid all the talk of sectarianism, real though it is, appears to be a snobbish distaste for people and not much in the way of attempts to change their minds through genuine political argument.

, ,

  • wild turkey

    ‘The growth of the once fringe parties does not represent a polarisation of politics as much as it represents a total retreat from actual politics into a primarily cultural space where loud but meaningless sham battles function as proxies for the conflict of the past.’

    Jason, at least for the past 25 years the Shinners and DUPers could hardly be described as fringe parties. Hairy assed hillbillies? far be it for me to even speculate. I always thought the UUP and the SDLP were the fringe parties as at least some members had beguiling Laura Ashley fringe cuts (with tasteful pashmina shawls).

    Be that as it may.

    Question. Ah just what would ‘actual politics’ look like in Norn Ireland? I am not being a smart ass asking this, I am genuinely curious.

    Would ‘actual politics’ be the horse trading and pork barreling endemic to many/most ‘democratic’ states? Would ‘actual politics’ be a superficial left v right class based politics? Would actual politics be social progressives v conservatives/regressives? Would ‘actual politics’ be competing cults of personality?

    For one, after 30 years, I have grown so acustomed to the Hatfield-McCoy feud that I wouldn’t recognise ‘actual politics’ here if it jumped up and bit me on the ass.

    happy thanksgiving y’all

  • Jason Walsh

    wild turkey

    “for the past 25 years the Shinners and DUPers could hardly be described as fringe parties”

    True. ‘Fringe’, not fringe. What I mean is that despite their popularity they are viewed in the media as though their rise was verging on inexplicable and that they hold ‘extreme’ views. Clearly their views are commonplace.

    “what would ‘actual politics’ look like in Norn Ireland?”

    What form it might take, I have no idea. I’m not even sure it’s actually possible. What I’m interested in, though, is that both the DUP and Sinn Féin play a kind of ‘identity politics’.

  • OC

    Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War. And as Aristotle demonstrated, the saving grace of democracy is making bad things happen the slowest – like Tribunes of the Plebes, MLA’s can veto.

  • Mr Brightside

    Are you claiming that popularity allows one to shed the label of extremist?

    I agree that simply labelling them extremist fails to address why they command support, in the same way that simply dismissing the BNP as racist (though they are of course) does not get to the crux of their appeal.

  • Jason Walsh

    Mr Brightside

    The latter, mostly.

    On the former I think it’s extremely complicated. Take Sinn Féin, for instance. They’re not extreme at all: for the most part they are standard issue left-of-centre social democrats. Obviously the Provisionals is the factor that saw them labelled as extreme. When will that fade?

    Similarly, the DUP is ideologically pretty right-wing but in practice it’s just another right-of-centre party.

  • Mr Brightside

    I suspect the Provo blemish will fade when SF is populated by people who never fired a gun in misdirected anger. That will clearly take at least a generation.

    As for the DUP I would say they are to the far right ok as per views on climate change, homosexuality, abortion etc.

    Of course all this is on a spectrum and it just depends on how many standard deviations from the mean you wish to take.

  • L H Oswald

    Mr Brightside: Wel lsaid. Homosexuality, abortion and climate hcange are the key issues. Let’s not ever forget how oppressed homosexuals are. More gay saunas and nore subsidised sex toys are the answer.

  • Jason Walsh

    MrB

    Why? SFTWP was in government in the South when the OIRA was still up to all sorts. No worries about “political hygiene” then. Serious question.

    “As for the DUP I would say they are to the far right ok as per views on climate change, homosexuality, abortion etc.”

    CC isn’t a left-right issue by any standard. Plenty of greens are seriously right wing, from conservative right on across the spectrum. Plenty of socialists don’t care about CC.

    Abortion is muddy in Ireland. No-one openly argues for it.

    Homosexuality the DUP doesn’t like, but it doesn’t do anything about it. It can’t, even as the largest party in gov’t.

  • Mr Brightside

    In my opinion to be ‘right wing’ requires subscription to a collection of political positions. Look at it like overlapping sets in a Venn Diagram.

    So although individually they may not be left-right issues if one is Pro-Life (hate that term btw), thinks CC is a liberal conspiracy and homosexuality a mental illness, they are (to me) right wing. And the more of these stances an individual holds the more extreme one is.

    Thats probably as clear as mud.

    Don’t know about your Southern example. Moral zeitgeist?

  • Reader

    Mr Brightside: Look at it like overlapping sets in a Venn Diagram.
    It’s (at least) two dimensional – lot’s more from this site.
    http://www.politicalcompass.org/ireland

  • For another DUP, and maybe a vision of its future, see http://freshmeat.net/projects/dup#release_308765

  • Dread Cthulhu

    OC: “Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War. And as Aristotle demonstrated, the saving grace of democracy is making bad things happen the slowest – like Tribunes of the Plebes, MLA’s can veto.”

    Feh. “Jaw-Jaw” is only better than “War-War” if both parties are interested in “Jaw-Jaw.” Munich, the negotiations used to mask the attack on Pearl Harbor, just about any negotiation between the Genghis Khan and his victims — these are all examples where “Jaw-Jaw” was as empty as the heads who simply mouth slogans like “Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War.” Sometimes, “Jaw-Jaw” is simply a smoke-screen, the saying of “nice doggie” while reaching for a big rock.