Politics And The Internet

I was never really been convinced by the argument that The Internet will change Politics.
While I still think that firm believers in the New Technology are over-selling the importance, my own assessment that the Internet will be as influential an invention as the Hula Hoop….that might be wrong.
Of course it is true that the Printing Press changed History.
The Reformation was perhaps a direct result.
Literacy. An opening up of Discourse.
And breaking the monopoly of the Church on “books”.

Of course it is obvious that the Internet has broken the monopoly of Newspapers and other Media but has it really changed or is it really changing Politics itself?
For at least five years now, we have been told that “this” election will be fought on the Internet…and the advance of Facebook and Twitter seems to make that more likely.
But that really only supports my point that BLOGGING is not nearly as important as BLOGGERS seem to think.
The Blogger likes to think he is putting forward some kind of reasonable argument.
But Facebook and Twitter is where it is really at. Thats where REAL Internet Politics is.And YouTube and Photoshop.
Not particularly coherent and reasonable but Facebook one liners and Twitters 140 characters is actually much more significant than any Blog.
Politics is held to ridicule. Just look at the viral videos on YouTube.
All good photo-shopped fun.
Which brings me to the current state of unionist politics.
It all seems very good natured at the new party NI21. Basil McCrea and John McCallister seem like genuinely nice guys and seem to have surrounded themselves with even more nice guys and girls but something about them lacks gravitas. They put the “Party” into “Party”.
Recent GOOD performances by Mike Nesbitt of UUP seem to suggest that he is trying to disconnect himself from the worst elements of loyalism. Mike Nesbitt is far too sophisticated and too educated to want anything to do with the types of loyalist who wrap themselves in flags and shout “No Surrender”.
On the other hand, Peter Robinson has spent almost his entire adult life in a senior role in a political Party…the DUP…which has flirted with street politics and protest politics.
The DUP grew out of Ian Paisleys Free Presbyterian Church and in 2013, its dominance means that it has two wings….one which is Religious and the other Secular.
It has a nasty streak.
There is an element that plays to the Mob. And it all makes Robinsons half-hearted attempts to reach out to Catholic voters risible.
It has used the Mob …and now the Mob in Royal Avenue has become leaderless.

Sectarianism has been used by Unionism. Its their Dirty Little Secret.
The fact that the Mob cannot be controlled is testimony to the lack of leadership.
Shouting sectarian slogans on the Shankill Road is normal behaviour. Going into the city centre is somehow different.

But I am thinking that this street theatre is taking place LITERALLY on the streets.
And also being played out in the figurative street of the Internet….Facebook and the like.
There is a battle being played out on the Internet.
The vilest sectarian abuse, dressed up as loyalist CULTURE!!! has been appearing on Facebook for months. “Shared” postings reveal the old truth that racists and sectarian people are of course incredibly stupid. Respectable unionists have walked away.
I think all Republicans like to see loyalists make themselves look stupid.
Happily for Republicans, the advent of camera-phones means that loyalists love to record themselves looking like idiots.
And Republicans happily share and photo-shop the Stupidity.
We all enjoy the Loyalists Against Democracy Facebook Page.
It is a parody.
Loyalists photoshopped to look even more stupid.
Screen-prints of the HateSpeak on loyalist websites.
The Camera is not kind to loyalists.
The Internet is not kind to loyalists.
Barely 24 Hours after the Royal Avenue Riot, a video from LAD appears on YouTube.
“We Didnt Start The Riot” is a classic.
It begs the question.
Is there a Parity of Culture? Is Nationalism actually more cultured in terms of Music, Art, Drama, Poetry and Internet than the dour Ulster-Scots?
The Loyalist mob complain that they are disenfranchised (they are not), marginalised (certainly…but at least in part, they marginalise themselves).
Leaving aside the complexity of compromise between Nationalist and Unionist, Justice with Injustice….perhaps the greatest challenge is to facilitate Intelligence and Stupidity.
In the interests of a better Society, would it not be better to marginalise the sectarian mob even more?
What is the extent of our obligation to facilitate Stupidity to make a “shared future” theme park.

All political movements can deal with CRITICISM.
Few withstand RIDICULE.
Is it not simply a case where our patience is exhausted and we are entitled to heap as much RIDICULE and CONTEMPT on loyalist culture as we possibly can?
This might not be the high-minded Internet Politics of Citizen Journalists in which Bloggers believe. But it is REALITY.

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31 Responses to Politics And The Internet

  1. bangordub says:

    Oh I enjoyed that.

  2. Apartheid-era South Africa was doomed when the Afrikaners finally reached the stage of becoming objects of hate, loathing and ridicule in the collective consciousness of the West. Their leaders realised that they were leading their people to extinction by becoming one of the Western world’s bogeymen (they even turned up as baddies in a Lethal Weapon movie for heaven’s sake).

    The British Unionist minority in Ireland were largely protected from that same level of global opprobrium by the British government and its considerable propaganda powers and the willingness of the British media to follow the party line. While British soldiers were fighting and dying in the streets and fields of Ireland the British media and people were prepared to overlook the more repellent aspects of their allies. Now that has changed and the British, from the government downwards, simply wish “Northern Ireland” to go away. And unlike in times past the vibe from the London media-shapers is one of hostility to Unionism (in Ireland!) and at least a tolerance of Irish Nationalism/Republicanism.

    The political leaders of the British minority community in Ireland are leading their people down the same route as the Afrikaners in the 1980s or the Serbs in the 1990s. They are willingly tarring their own people with the brush of ethnic and religious fundamentalism, of being a European “Uniban”. It is madness and though I see some signs of a recognition of what is happening (NI1921, etc.) I suspect it is too little too late.

    • The Internet makes it all different.
      Im old enough to remember 1960s British attitudes to Southern Africa…English Cricket and Basil D’Oliveia not being on English team to go South Africa….or good ole Smithy in Rhodesia…and I can even remember “Sir” Roy Welensky (sp) in Rhodesia and Nyassaland as it was then.
      Turning point….wonder if its cultural….”Free Nelson Mandela” song or if its political….Thatchers grudging Kruger Rand moment.
      For me…its RIDICULE….that Spittin Image song… ” Ive Never Met A Nice South African”.
      That was maybe 25 years go.
      We are locked into a syndrome where we have to tolerate the CULTURE of Norn Iron loyalists…as nasty as anything in South Africa

      • I looked up that song from Spittin’ Image and yes, that summed it up exactly, that feeling in the West of universal loathing outside of right wing and conservative cranks. Hating White South Africans was positively popular.

        I noticed on some of the British media sites that permit Comments that there is an observable shift against the British minority community in Ireland. Yes, there is that old “a plague on all your houses” but you can certainly see an anti-Unionist sentiment not visible before. It took me by surprise.

      • I think the Spitting Image song was a “game-changer”
        From the attitude of “our kith and kin” to “two sides to every story” ….there was I think this moment where people actually said “no theres not two sdes to the Sputh African Story…they are extremely nasty people”
        Is it the same with Loyalists Against Democracy?
        From BBC Ot ITV News peddling “two sides of the story” to the Comedy series “Give My Head Peace” doing a basically letsgetalongerist ” one side is as bad as the other” we now have the Internet going beyond that and pouring scorn on the loyalists.
        Can BBC and UTV really cover the Twelfth in the traditional way again?

  3. factual says:

    What I find is that a lot of what passes for discussion on the internet isn’t really very rewarding to engage with, because of (i) basic lack of civility, and (ii) a low quality of comment. I am thinking here of You Tube comments, or comments on Slugger O’Toole. People are not nice to one another, and the less educated people seem to shout down anyone who has any level of subtlety. I’m also pretty sure that those “pissing contest” discussions on You Tube or Slugger make very little difference come election time. I have always approached slugger in the following way: read the articles but don’t go into the sewer that is the comment zone.

    • Its not entirely Sluggers fault.
      it is a broad based message board and naturally the discourse will be wider and at times nasty.
      its never nasty here. partly because its a meeting point for SDLP, SF and other nationalist/republican minds and it works that way because I discouraged contributions from Alliance supporters.
      Frankly there are too many MEN on the Internet.
      That doesnt help.

  4. factual says:

    It will be interesting to see how the loyalist and broader unionist community in East Belfast respond to the whole imbroglio surrounding flags and parading. I have a feeling that Alliance will lose a MLA seat and the PUP will regain theirs. The PUP seem to be quite active. They have the advantage of opposition: they are not part of the Executive and there is a lot of anger against the Executive. At MP level, Alliance will probably lose their seat there, but I have no idea who it will go to: some unionist no doubt. Michael Copeland might stand a good chance. Some argue that the street politics is a consequence of an all-party Executive, with no party speaking for those who oppose. Now Alliance is in that Executive too. We in Dublin find that Labour, PDs, Greens, etc suffer when they are in an executive as ministers as junior parties and there is I think something like this going on north of the border. Hence I expect Alliance to suffer and NI21 and PUP to be able to exploit this.

    • I think its far too early to say.
      at this point in time Alliance will lose East Belfast at Westminster.
      but Id say that would spark a Leadership Election and oddly Long if she stood in East Belfast might be capable of holding two Assemly seats there.
      Without Long…Alliance have no chance of retaining two seats there.
      Lyttle and Cochrane are deadwood.

  5. Fear Feirsteach says:

    Plenty of LADettes around these days. Long may it continue!
    Tiocfaidh ár LAD.

  6. Fear Feirsteach says:

    fitz, I must commend you on a cogent and well-reasoned post. Let’s hope ridicule and contempt does the job. Everything else appears to have failed.

  7. factual says:

    My impression is that the DUP will win back East Belfast at Westminster, but it will not be Peter Robinson, it will be a new MP. I think they may also have North Down next time too.

  8. Pingback: Has the new media revolution changed anything about the way we do politics? « Slugger O'Toole

  9. Political Tourist says:

    TV certainly helped the Civil Rights back in the 1960s.
    TV brought NI and it’s dodgy politics right into peoples homes across the world.
    The Internet is just an massive interactive extension of the old two or three TV channels.
    Losers from the net are as you say, the newspaper industry.
    Would the net change my politics?
    No chance.

    • yes….and TV helped US Civil Rights movement.
      I think that politicians, conflict resolutionists,police, journos have been pussy-footing around the loyalists for months.
      But in the name of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, nobody has really said what they are really like.
      Chhief Constable Baggot talks about prisons being full but surely a handful of community policemen wold have no trouble identifying people.
      LOYALISTS AGAINST DEMOCRACY is succeeding where others have failed.

  10. factual says:

    Basically the Net should allow people to interact – get to understand and respect one another’s point of view. Let a thousand flowers bloom and all that.

  11. factual says:

    Hope everyone got the leaving cert result they were hoping for!

  12. factual says:

    On politics.ie the perceived childishness on the thread dealing with Northern Ireland was so boring, that it has been sectioned off, so that people commenting on other issues never see those topics, unless they actively opt in. I suspect that those not from north of the border never read things on You Tube, Twitter, or Facebook, unless they have an unusual interest in that direction, as it will be perceived to be childish and sterile, and many of the posters (who under other circumstances might be nice or interesting) develop a kind of “red mist” when posting that makes them unattractive to engage with.

  13. Pingback: Loyalists Against Democracy. Enjoy . - Page 3

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