Strange Days Indeed

It is election time both in Ireland and the USA. And from every podium an index finger is protruding. Someone is being blamed for something and, of course, the person to whom that finger belongs is the panacea to all harm done. This has always been the way of candidates at election time but on this occasion the audience has changed. There is a distinct scepticism of politicians and, indeed, of the democratic system itself.

Some say it's because we're a more educated electorate and that we possess a greater ability to analyse the various manifestos. Then there are those who have concluded that it's the result of endless broken promises from politicians that has given way to this apathy. Others believe that we have reached a time of "mass awakening", an evolutionary upgrade in collective consciousness that enables us to see that beyond the veil of democracy to the real wielders of power. The very notion of the latter brings me back to a scene in the original Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy's little terrier, Toto, pulls back the curtain to reveal that the mighty Wizard of Oz was in fact a vulnerable old man. The old man roars "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Maybe it's time to pay attention to the power broker beyond the shallow veil of democracy? Is the modern political machine really a carousel of puppets who, when elected, turn to obey the faces of those that wield authentic power?

In 2007, Ireland was forced to assume responsibility for a debt that belonged to a conglomerate of wealthy private investors. Apparently, they could not bear the loss of such a bad gamble. In the 10 years previous to the 2007 crash, these same prospectors had both gambled and won handsomely on the Celtic Tiger. Strangely enough the citizens of Ireland did not share in the consortium's profits when it was riding high. How much power does is take to persuade the governing body of a "free western nation" to take responsibility for private debt without even as much as a referendum?

The aftermath of this enforced agreement has plummeted Irish citizens into an unjust age of austerity that will be felt for many future generations. No wonder the electorate is increasingly examining the integrity of the political, banking and corporate establishment that has left Ireland akin to a scavenged carcass in the Serengeti. The stench, however, is not emanating from the decay but rather from the insatiable greed and avarice of the super rich. We have almost regressed to the age of Charles Dickens and his novel "Hard Times". In US or European society do characters like Bounderby and Gradgrind ring a bell in today's context or perhaps the impoverished outline of Sissy Jupe?

Who knows whether it is education or a mass spiritual awakening that has caused this unease in the electorate. Surely, reflection and reform is required at all levels if freedom and civilisation, as we know it, are to endure.