Remember loyalists smashed up the city centre? Here's a critical reflection on that event. Northern Ireland is a diverse, tolerant and cosmopolitan country. The modern generation - ambitious, well-educated, internationalist and outward looking - have made it this way. But we in Northern Ireland are not truly free. Like James Joyce said 100 years ago, history is the nightmare from which we are trying to awake.
No matter what bone fide efforts are done to better Northern Ireland, the stability and fortune of the province is forever tied to and dependent on the mood of delinquent extremists. Chinless throwbacks always ready to restart the religious wars of the 17th Century that ravaged Europe but still linger here; always ready to plunge us back into chaos; always ready to shame our name.
A jackboot lunatic class who keep the young and ambitious hostage and prisoner to a totalitarian anarchism, fuelled by no more than base ignorance and mindless idealism.
Yes, young people in Northern Ireland aren't truly free. Religiosity and violence has retarded our education system, segregated communities and minds into green and orange, and viciously retarded the economy.
To paraphrase Epictetus the Greek philosopher, only the educated and those with a good job are truly free. Many of the most capable and the most intelligent cannot get a job in Northern Ireland. I despair for them and shed even more despair for the less-capable, less well educated. For they are not truly free. Just as the young, educated middle classes in the Maghreb states, Eastern Europe and Asia are subjugated by autocratic dictators, so it is that the young, educated, middle-class in Northern Ireland are subjugated by "barbaric sectarian leaders" and the feral communities that they play-out to.
But there's an important difference here: The educated middle classes around the world are standing up and saying no. Just read Andrew Sullivan here and Francis Fukuyama here. It's happening: a global middle class uprising. It's real. Except in Northern Ireland it's not. We, the middle class in Northern Ireland, are a stoic, accepting, over-tolerant, fatalistic lot, devoid of critical faculties.
Ready to put-up and shut-up as opposed to stand-up and put-out. But this silence and inactivity can't go on: Delinquent loyalists and republicans cannot be left to shame and defame Northern Ireland. Their shame is Absolutely NOT to be done in my name.
I want to make a few points on how the moderate, ambitious, cosmopolitan classes can push back against the reactionary throwback politicians and street thugs that continually soil the good name of Northern Ireland.
My first point. People in Northern Ireland are well known and reputed for their enduring cynicism and skepticism. A particular condition to the people of Northern Ireland. We pride ourselves on our modesty, our civil tongue and reticence. But Northern Ireland young people need to rid themselves of this tired, old cloak of endless cynicism and skepticism.
This congenital tendency for cynicism is deeply tied down by the traditional Northern Ireland culture that has said "step in line, know your place". But nowadays we live in a changed world: One where opportunities and resources abound. And so we must change our minds to the new world; we must believe we can do anything, anytime and at any age. Mark Zuckerberg didn't need a degree, internship, masters, PhD or apprenticeship to create a multi-million if not billion dollar company in his bedroom.
We can't rely our educators and universities to properly prepare use for the job market for as the Harvard Business Review said, 'Our Future Workforce Is Stuck in a Pattern of Mediocrity.' Young people need to start thinking for themselves, use their initiative and realise they can achieve anything. As Thomas L. Friedman said in the New York Times: 'Need a Job? Invent It'.
We must combat and resist the status quo and the associated tragedy of cynicism; for the cynicism buttresses and reinforces the prison walls that the delinquent classes have erected for functional society in Northern Ireland. As Selwyn Duke said in the American Thinker: "What the cynic mistakes for the walls of his fortress are really the boundaries of his prison."
My second point. We need to look again at what's happening across the Muslim world and the changes bedding down in that land. In the Muslim world the traditional split has been between Sunnis and Shi'ites, a deadly warfare going back 13 centuries.
But alongside this traditional split has emerged the modern societal split: One between theocracy and modernism. Explaining what has and is happening, James Lewis said in the American Thinker:
"Modernism comes up for every Muslim who can turn on the television or surf the web. It is spreading because science and technology are spreading, and secretly, it is undermining the Dark Ages of the Muslim priesthood. People named Mohammed are being indoctrinated in ancient madrassahs against the modern world, but they are also beginning to do first-rate science, and those two belief systems are not compatible. The modern world is now invading even the most medieval minds."
The quote above applies perfectly to the backward looking people and communities of Northern Ireland. Young people all across Northern Ireland are being indoctrinated with haunting bigotry against the modern world. Watch the video below, of young children all in the single-digit age bracket spouting naked bigotry and sectarian cliches which can only have been heard from parents and older family members.
In the face of this we need to spread enlightenment ideals and help to invade and broaden their minds and horizons. We can see how well the broadening of minds has serviced the Muslim world already. It can be done here too.
My third point. We need to study and emulate the anti-communists who liberated Czechslovakia under the banner of the Charter 77 movement. A movement spearheaded by Václav Havel who tore down the lunacy and absurdity of the communist dictatorship without lifting an arm; but through dissent expressed through satire, poetry, irony and humor.
This peaceful dissident campaign can be typified by the W. H. Auden poem, 'The Ogre' which captures both the horror as well as the inherent weakness of that system:
'The ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for any man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The ogre can never master speech.
About a subjugated plain,
Among the suffering and the slain,
The ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.'
We need the same publicly minded and spirited citizens that coalesced under the Charter 77 movement. The same brave and responsible citizens of Czechoslovakia that showed the naked and corrupt power structure.
We too in Northern Ireland need freedom from the ever present tyranny of loyalist and republican ogres who impose a way of life that is totally unacceptable to functional 21st Century life.
To conclude. What we saw of Northern Ireland on televisions across the world was the doings of the backward forces of pre-history. These people do not represent majority Northern Ireland. These people represent the worst in society. Yet they do it time after time after time after time. The same stupid, narrow, shortsighted minority fighting their stupid but vicious, venal and venomous turf war.
It will never end if we let them behave like this. So we must stand-up, put-out and battle for tolerance, just as other subjugated, non-free young people are doing the world over.
[This was written by Brian John Spencer and originally published on The Huffington Post UK]