"Going forward"

Many commentators proudly presented modern, confident, prosperous, liberal Celtic Tiger Ireland as having left the dogma of faith and belief in the past. It might be more accurate to say that some dogmas were traded in for others. For in a country where government seems to be incapable or unwilling to shift from the orthodoxies that have caused such damage, tacking the phrase 'going forward' to a sentence is really a kind of prayer.

Place your faith in market cosmology, and don't ask for anything that might offend the mystical forces we never see, but that know our every move (bond holders). Ritually incant sacred phrases, preaching the promised land of the knowledge society and the smart economy. Choose your human sacrifices, because somebody has to take the pain. And the responsorial psalm is, 'going forward'.

What's wrong with the phrase 'in the future'? Well, the political actors who hocked the future obviously can't discuss it, and certainly not in terms that invite dissent, debate, real participation and collective action. 'Going forward' is one of those phrases that take root because influential currents in our public culture refuse to engage with visions of how else life can be lived and society organized beyond the fog of neoliberal assumptions. Having gone forward to the edge of an abyss, what's the mature and joined up thing to do?

We need to insist on politics and on questions of power, and prevent the constant reduction of our realities to the cosy, simplistic metaphors that take the power and the politics out. Ireland is gripped by a political-economic crisis, but politicians frequently present it as a psychological or even spiritual one.

Not only are people in Ireland struggling to deal with the consequences of The Adjustment, but they are also expected to humour a range of politicians and commentators playing Dr Phil to the nation. We are a creative nation, going forward, and at our best when our backs are to the wall stepping up to the plate. So ask yourself this Citizen: are you dealing with this maturely? Are you ready to stop playing the blame game and pull together? To stop the negativity and think positively? Are you, as Barry Andrews asked most recently, sucking this up with enough humility?

It is easy to mock the word salad tossed together in an environment of incessant communication and spin. But it is also important to question why, in the midst of a fundamental crisis of state, political communication depends so heavily on the language of self-help. To be 'mature' is to accept that there is no alternative to the neoliberal articles of faith and discredited policy options that brought us precisely to "where 'we' are at". To stop playing the blame game is to accept that those principally responsible for hocking our collective welfare to the merry japes of casino capitalism can be trusted to 'secure our future.' To accept the hysteria of positivity is to accept that a sustained examination of failures in governance is not a central dimension of political-economic reconstruction.