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Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.
Karl Kraus (1874–1936), Austrian satirist.
The Good Stuff: Generally speaking, Irish people are respected and acknowledged worldwide for their overall sense of community and family. Relationships between various family members; brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents form the basis of many a successful social event or business arrangement, and it is of course quite natural that things should tend to operate this way - especially in a small country like Ireland, which still maintains so many of the ancient tribal characteristics which helped to shape today’s unique Irish culture. In those old tribal cultures, the ‘virtues’ of loyalty and unquestioning obedience were paramount, and those who adhered to these ‘virtues’ were rewarded with positions of power and authority. In this manner, the tribe protected itself and ensured it’s own survival in the face of hostile others. Inasmuch as the nation was indeed divided up into multiple warring tribes and clans at the time, that system - in that particular scenario - actually worked …at least for the winning tribes. Unfortunately, if you were on the losing side, you and your tribe faced a very bleak prospect indeed - usually oppression and slavery - if not death. Thankfully, we have since left tribalism behind and have embraced modern democracy, and now live in an open and transparent society where suitably qualified persons ascend to positions of power and authority on merit - and not purely on one’s family or social contacts. Indeed, we even have laws prohibiting such practices as nepotism and cronyism, and a whole raft of rules, regulations and codes of conduct which are robustly enforced by reliable, Independent Regulators, as well as our various Statutory Oversight Bodies such as the Ombudsmen and the Courts. Or, ….do we really?
The Not-So-Good Stuff: Tribalism is all well and good when you are facing a mortal threat from another tribe, because in life-or-death situations one has to know that one’s colleagues can be trusted, and perhaps even more importantly, one has to know that the Chief’s orders will be followed without question. However, there is an important distinction to be made between ancient tribes facing mortal threats and our modern political parties, who, amongst so many of our compromised national institutions, take the shameful lead in showing utter and enduring contempt for the ordinary citizen and for the principles of democracy and meritocracy. In effect, Ireland today is a mish-mash of ancient tribalism and modern democracy. On the outside we declare our adherence and respect for democratic principles, whilst on the inside, those in positions of power and authority knowingly indulge in the same old discredited tribal practices. While the ordinary citizen and the public in general are misled into believing we are living in a Democratic Republic, ‘the powers that be’ remain acutely aware that in modern Ireland, all that really matters is that you are ‘connected’ and that you are willing to abjectly serve the leader, the boss, your superiors etc., and that you will turn a blind eye to the wholesale corruption all around you in return for your own personal piece of the pie. The trouble of course is that for each extra piece of pie being consumed by the overfed amoral elite, another ordinary citizen suffers. Greed and corruption lie uneasily on the minds of truly moral persons.
The Really Bad and Depressing Stuff: There is a reason why Ireland, per capita, has more quango’s and semi-state bodies than any other modern country. Many of these quango’s have no real purpose for existence other than as pseudo-legitimate platforms wherein ‘the connected’ receive monetary awards for their unquestioning loyalty and support. The same can be said of many other positions of power and authority including the so-called ‘statutory oversight bodies’ and even the Courts - where 5 out of 6 Irish judges are ‘politically appointed’. Likewise, many of those appointed to State Boards have absolutely no pertinent experience or qualifications and carry out no useful functions whatsoever other than to rubber-stamp their sponsor’s wishes. It is all, purely and simply, part of the gravy train. The result is an Ireland today that comprises three main groups comprising; (i) ‘the-powers-that-be’, (ii) ordinary citizens, and (iii) workers in State institutions. Generally speaking, it can be said that ‘the powers-that-be’ see ordinary citizens as a source to be deceived and exploited. By populating State institutions with cronies and supporters - and by coercing or blackmailing the rest into compliance - they ensure a ring of defence - a veritable ‘buffer zone’ between themselves and the ordinary citizen. In this manner, through the appointment of cronies and through the subsequent wholesale corruption of our laws and Constitution, the tribe of the ‘connected elite’ ensures its own survival. Meanwhile, the ‘tribe’ of ordinary citizens suffers.