This book explores the issue of a collective representation of Ireland after the sudden death of the 'Celtic Tiger' and introduces the aesthetic idea that runs throughout. The focus is on the idea articulated by W. B. Yeats in his famous poem 'The Second Coming'. The book also explores the symbolic order and imaginative structure, the meanings and values associated with house and home, the haunted houses of Ireland's 'ghost estates' and the fiscal and moral foundations of the collective household. It examines the sophisticated financial instruments derived from mortgage-backed securities that were a lynchpin of global financialization and the epicentre of the crash, the question of the fiscal and moral foundations of the collective household of Europe. A story about fundamental values and principles of fairness and justice is discussed, in particular, the contemporary conflict that reiterates the ancient Irish mythic story of the Tain. The book suggests correspondences between Plato's Republic and the Irish republic in the deformations and devolution of democracy into tyranny. It traces a red thread from the predicament of the ancient Athenians to contemporary Ireland in terms of the need to govern pleonexia, appetites without limits. The political and economic policies and practices of Irish development, the designation of Ireland's 'tax free zones', are also discussed. Finally, the ideal type of person who has been emerging under the auspices of the neoliberal revolution is imagined.
‘What rough beast?’ Monsters of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland
Kieran Keohane and Carmen Kuhling
The history of Ireland is one of fighting with monsters and in the process becoming monsters ourselves. Blood-sucking, bloated monsters should belong to a bygone era. Jonathan Swift had identified them as the Anglo-Irish aristocracy of the eighteenth century. To kill this monster, just as with Dracula, Enlightened Reason would have to become alloyed with mysticism, passion and violence, and the vampire slayers would risk becoming monsters themselves. Patrick Pearse, leader of the 1916 Rising and author of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, knows that to kill the monster he has to enlist the forces of the underworld, he has to raise the dead. Pearse's un-dead men carry on, even when their work is done, and the Republic of Ireland has lived in the shadow of the gunman. But the gunman is not the only shadowy figure haunting modern Ireland. A much more insidious fiend is the 'gombeen man'.
All societies have their own household gods, and Irish household gods figure prominently in David Creedon's Ghosts of the Faithful Departed, an award-winning collection of photographs of abandoned houses in the Irish countryside. The home, Bachelard says, is always a maternal space. Hestia (Gr.) Vesta (Rm) was the Classical mythological goddess of the home. The iron cage of rationalized acquisitiveness, Weber says, thoroughly disenchanted and systematically cleansed of all higher spiritual values, is 'haunted by the ghosts of dead religious beliefs'. Creedon's photographs taken in 2005, three years before the economic collapse, are in a sense images taken at Samhainn, the period in the pagan Celtic calendar. Celtic Tiger Ireland emerged under the auspices of the spirit of Hermes' free market. The free market of Hermes the Trickster is the source of the nihilism that has been at the heart / hearth of Celtic Tiger Ireland.
In Ireland all of the ancient forms of settlement - dun, rath/lios, cranog, clogheen/clachan are round, and they are the prefixes of geographical placenames which are also the names of ancestral households. A related etymological cluster is found in 'comharsa', which may be translated as 'neighbour'. Vesta's temple in Rome was round, like the huts of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Tiber valley and surrounding hills. The value of the house can be understood in terms of what Georg Simmel formulates as The Conflict in Modern Culture between the hypertrophy of objective culture and the relative underdevelopment of subjective culture. The value of real estate resonates with deep-seated needs of the household's domestic economy of emotional and material asymmetrical reciprocal relations of interdependency.
The collective dream-house of United Europe is similarly a materialized constellation of gods and goods, peace and harmony amongst historical enemies governed by Reason and legitimated by democracy. Its 'dark side', its barbaric aspects, include democratic deficit, technocratic instrumental rationality and the uber-bureaucracy of the supra-state. All subsequent EU treaties and referenda are elaborations of the Treaty of Rome, clarifying and consolidating its constitutional and legal basis, streamlining and rationalizing its complex decision making and executive functions. In Rome: The Book of Foundations Serres uses the vast and rich diversity of archaeological, historical and mythological trackings and tracings of the origins of Rome to demonstrate an important point of epistemology. Throughout the years of the Celtic Tiger, Ireland, was one of the EU's non-committal provinces. 'The history of the modern state is the history of taxation, the bureaucracy of the treasury the true core of administration'.
The space and time of the story are the mythic world of authoritarian neoliberal globalization, a world of giant corporations and epic conflicts, of local heroes and (eco) warriors pitted against dark powers. The Corrib gas story in an ancient Irish mythic cycle, the Tain Bo Cuailnge, a story about the fundamental importance of gift relations and of principles of fair trade and reciprocity, these relations become corrupted by trickery. The story of Shell and Corrib gas, 'The Great Gas Giveaway' as it has come to be known, is a Vichean recurrence in that the story resonates with and reiterates an ancient Irish story, the Tain Bo Cuailnge, the Cattle Raid of Cooley. Both stories concern the pursuit of wealth and moral-practical relations of gift and theft, and they hinge on the fulcrum of justice and fairness.
The genealogy of neoliberalism as an economic theology is that it was born in circumstances of crisis and responses to emergencies. The Celtic Tiger is the formula of 'authoritarian liberalism' and sharpened 'friend-enemy' distinctions that Carl Schmitt advocated in the 1920s as an antidote to Weimar Germany's economic depression, cultural decadence and political drift; a 'political theology. Ireland, the success story of neoliberal globalization, was amongst the first and worst casualties of the global depression. Carl Schmitt's interventions, Of the Political and Political Theology, were intended, like James Joyce's, to clarify transcendental/ fundamental principles upon which order and meaning could be restored. Ulysses employs myth to achieve clarity against the prevailing chaos of modernity. Nelson is a prototypical modern Schmittian leader-cum-dictator because he incarnated an authority superior to the law by his will to power in deciding on the exception and by his relentless clarity in defining his enemy.
Love is an entirely private individualistic, psychologistic matter for the subject as existential monad pursuing his/her individual self-interested actions in an unlimited market of possible partners. In the Aristophanes' formulation anticipates the mass psychology of neoliberalism, the utilitarianism of the 'present circumstances'. P. Sorokin's thesis in The Crisis of Our Age and The Ways and Power of Love is remarkably similar to Taylor's A Secular Age. In the immediate aftermath of World War II Sorokin established at Harvard the Research Centre in Creative Altruism. Stephen's method of the artist/priest is that of cultivating abilities for apprehending the integratis, harmonia and claritas of the radiant ideal. Radiant ideal appears in epiphanic beautiful moments of immanent transcendence, a method that he systematically applies in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
Plato's Republic can be read as a treatise on the social pathologies of contemporary civilization in general and the contemporary state of the Irish republic in particular. In the diseased city questions of justice and the good society are undermined by the recurrence of pleonexia. Republic is Plato's political science, political economy, political psychology and political anthropology. Always latent, pleonexia emerges and becomes de-contained when laws are weakened and virtues cannot be formed. Pleonexia is amplified and intensified in the wake of crises. Pleonexic greed is therefore most decidedly not 'good', as neoliberalism proclaims it to be, but a social pathology of civilization, pathogenic to social and bodies politic, and with a corresponding idea-typical pleonexic subject. A system built predominantly upon unrestrained greed, anger, envy and pride will not, by definition, be virtuous, but degenerative, unstable and ultimately self-destructive, if not put down by its victims first.
The construction of any human dwelling requires an anamnesis, a 'naming', the calling of a divine power instituting a centre of the world. In cargo cults world events and new ideas are assimilated into natives' traditional Holy Dreams. This anthropological tale of a cargo cult from the South Pacific seems at first to be exotic and bizarre, and to have nothing remotely of relevance to an understanding of the development of modern Ireland. One person who understood the strange ways in which the cargo cult dreams of modern visionaries can turn into nightmares was Brian O'Nolan/ O'Nuallain. O'Nolan's At Swim-Two-Birds is a modernist-surrealist proto-postmodernist representation of the Irish idiomatic and idiosyncratic phantasmagoria of Progress. In his 'Cruiskeen Lawn' column in the Irish Times, Myles reports a typical moment from his contemporary surreal Ireland.