Jim Carroll

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John Lydon was wrong: anger is not an energy

Over the last few months, the Irish nation has morphed into Howard Beale. We are, as Beale roared, as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more. With every passing week, every passing live current affairs …

Tue, Nov 10, 2009, 15:39

   

Over the last few months, the Irish nation has morphed into Howard Beale. We are, as Beale roared, as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more. With every passing week, every passing live current affairs show, every passing protest march, the anger mounts.

This anger is applied indiscriminately left, right and centre. We’re angry with politicians, highly paid TV presenters, unions, highly paid union leaders, rich folk, folk who used to be rich, poor folks, builders, developers, emigrants, immigrants, public sector workers, private sector workers, bankers, footballers, football pundits, the FAI, Morrissey, neighbours, relatives and friends. Oh, and journalists too. It’s an equal opportunities kind of anger.

But the problem with anger is that it doesn’t get you anywhere. You vent, rant and fume but, when you’re finished venting, ranting and fuming, you’re still in the same pickle that you were in when you began. It may be entertaining to watch someone go off on one (as last night’s episode showed), but it does absolutely no good whatsoever.

Some would argue that this anger is part of a cycle of coming to terms with the demise of the boom. We’re already had the denial and we should be preparing ourselves for bouts of bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. It’s going to be a long wait.

Anger won’t get rid of this catastrophe of a Fianna Fail/Green Party government or bring your job back or eliminate this recession or reduce the pay of your favourite broadcaster. Anger won’t bring more people out on the streets to join unions marching up and down our grey boulevards. Indeed, it’s obvious that protest fatigue is beginning to set in as people realise that marching is not actually getting anything sorted. And then they’ll get angry about that.

You wonder if those we’ve elected to govern this little nation and those who try to run government departments have any idea how to deal with this. Are they simply waiting for the anger to die down and move on? Do they envisage this anger actually turning into the kind of mass action we’ve never had in this country (drunken Celtic fans going a bit loopy on a Saturday morning does not count)? Do they believe that the Irish people are happy to fume and roar and shout, but will never go beyond that? Eventually, they think, life will go on. Budget cuts will be made, certain taxes will be increased, public services will be sliced, but life will go on. The anger will pass.

Or, as usually happens, the public rage will find a new target. There will be another set of reactions as opposed to actions. Cue more calls to Liveline, more outbursts from the audience at a TV show, more ROFLOL online reactions to all of the above. No-one ever learns. Unlike Beale, we keep on taking it.

Maybe it’s time for this to become the new national anthem

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