The distraction of blame

The Yellow Jacket movement in France was a failure; the metoo movement was a failure, the water protests in Ireland was a failure. You might be thinking that these statements are not true: the Yellow Jacket movement achieved its goal of rolling back the tax increases, same with the water protests in Ireland, and that the metoo movement has highlighted problems in Hollywood and working industries in general. Why then are these failures? The solutions are only temporary, the real solutions is a total system change; unfortunately, it is easy for politicians to roll back their policies before implementing different tactics. And these tactics are helped pushed through by the distraction of blame.

Firstly, it is important when discussing blame in politics to try and not add to blame; when reading about the politics of blame, it is easy to notice that writers get mixed up in by what they want to highlight. How blame is used for political gain needs to be examined to understand the conversation of what is happening politically. The politics of blame begins in fear, a fear that has expedited by globalization. Problems globalization creates for working-class are real, and complex to solve, rather than face those difficulties and uncertainties, it is simpler to blame.

Blame has played a big role in politics leading to events such as Brexit; blame was also a factor of Donald Trump’s presidential platform. The blame of the other played a big role in the outcome of these votes. Every conflict has two opposing parties argue over who is the victim and who is the perpetrator; there is very little room for nuance: the left and the right, the rich and the poor, pro-life and pro-choice. This allows politicians to garner support for their policies; we saw this in more recently through the rhetoric of blame manifesting itself through the failures of previous governments, corruption scandals, in those who can afford a home or not. The use of blame allows a justification for any number of cutbacks to social programs promoting movements like the Yellow Jackets and the metoo etc…

Looking at the 2011 general election in Ireland, it seemed that Ireland was going to move towards a change not really seen in Ireland. The most notable outcome of the election was the collapse of Fianna Fáil. It was the largest crash experienced by a major party in the history of parliamentary democracy. Fianna Fáil went from being the largest party in the state (a position it had held since 1932) to being a bit player in Irish political life; It had never received so few seats (12 percent in the lower house) or such a small vote share (17.4 percent). Today Ireland has an unelected official representing the country and slowly there are continued cuts, a mounting housing crisis, and a failing health service.

In politics, blame provides the illusion of control without actually facing and solving the underlying problem, we see that with Brexit through the rhetoric of taking back control of our borders, our laws and so on. The average citizen has an interest in accepting conflict resolutions because it allows the majority to feel blameless and requires no self-reflection or changes to the social order. It is tempting to blame each other as an excuse for the lack of headway in changing policies being implemented by the government. Blaming one another causes a loss in perspective of what we are up against: we overlook the very purposeful complexity and diversification of the power of the state and are tempted to think it would be simple to disassemble if we would all just work together and do one or two things differently. It is easy to blame others; it is easy to implement policies that distract from implementing real change and real solutions.

In recent years, it has become more prudent to recognize the power of coming together to implement change, the water charges and the subsequent protests, the awareness surrounding the importance of the marriage referendum and the movement to get younger voters involved, and of course the abortion referendum. We saw the power of protest in France with the yellow vest movement and the governmental rollback on taxes on the poor and raise wages for workers. This is not enough. Not seeking the truth of who is at fault when problems arise is also necessary for leaving blame behind; instead, our primary aim could be a rich understanding of the people involved: their intentions, motivations, experiences, histories, and limitations. This approach could inspire communities to think of every conflict as social in nature, problems we need cooperation to understand, analyze, and remedy. Real change happens with real solutions, not by pointing the finger.

By Robert Geoghegan



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