Book Review: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism – Shoshana Zuboff

It is a hefty tome, but it gives an understanding, essential to all those who engage online with social media, and the ubiquitous smartphone. Shoshana provides a scary insight into how Facebook and its ancillaries, work to condition and modify our behavior.  There is no hiding place from this intrusive online power; it provides entertainment while at the same time, cleverly manipulating every human instinct of curiosity, status, and social empathy. Functioning to gather information on our every thought and action, our every friend and foe, our every like or dislike. It mines our facial recognition and voice. It already is established in smart cars and will extend to every item, smart TVs, household appliances; it will be the matrix, the internet of things. “Google is to surveillance capitalism what the Ford Motor Company was to mass-production.” The company’s pioneering model of spying on our every action has been so interwoven into the fabric of everyday life; the practice has become expected and invisible. For Zuboff, it is time to put up resistance.

All the genius and money of the internet and its tools are not focused on making the world a better place. They focus in particular, on keeping young users plastered to their smartphones, like bugs on a windshield.  This synthetic hive is a devilish pact for the young – if they turn away, they are lost. They must now live in the gaze of each other, their status and instant happiness dependant on scoring an accumulation of ‘friends’ and ‘likes’.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and a host of apps are designed to exploit the human needs for belonging and acceptance, tuning behaviour with the rewards and punishments of social pressure. In terms of historical media, none of this shepherding is entirely new. It is just a more efficient type of dog that drives the sheep. The book compares the west with its herding, for commercial gain and acceleration of capital concentration. In China, the behaviour modification of the net nudges its users towards a more socially compliant collective. The book proposes regulatory extensions as the only road to contain its worst excesses. Social media and the net are modifying everyone who reads these comments. It is better to have some understanding of the waters we are swimming in, to survive.

December 4th, 2020|0 Comments

Radio Show 5

RADIO SHOW SCRIPT  No. 5    13/04/2019

Welcome listeners, – to the fifth airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – continues, looking at any subject or event from my hopefully different point of view. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text to; 083 4681472

This evening  I will look at;

The interaction between critical thinking, morality and religion. Much of the ideas expressed here emerged from my early reading of a book by British philosopher Bertrand Russell. ‘Education and the social order’ and recently  ‘Society without God’ by Phil Zukerman and extracts from my book ‘The Republic of Reason’

  • A sea adventure of yesteryear.
  • The possibilities for Ireland being an advocate of peace being compromised by events in Shannon Airport.
  • A word On Julian Assange
  • And of course some excellent music.



In my first programme, I described how; early in my life, I always felt compelled to step outside my comfort zone exploring and questioning every belief and every social structure; I told my story of beliefs and ideas lost and found.

The Republic of Reason – both book and this programme: springs from a perception of poverty. A Poverty Of Philosophy: an epidemic of poor, ill thought out, or contradictory viewpoints. A lack of critical thinking.  The first intellectual confrontation I spoke of was baptism. The concept that a newly born baby could be guilty of some sin which needed to be washed away left me bewildered…And this bewilderment has intensified as I realised that the sin that needs to be washed away was knowledge and that the main pursuit of religion appears to be the suppression of knowledge….  The very pursuit that I was engaged in, It is not surprising that most humans appear to spend their lives in a perpetual state of confusion and attempting to escape by shutting down any or most of their investigative thought processes.

The human brain structure is composed of some distinctive parts which evolved during our human development. The oldest part, the instinctive reptilian brain developed about 500 million years ago, this is mirrored in each new human at conception.  Its function is breathing, movement, balance and replication.

The next levels are the Hippocampus which compares new and stored information and the Amygdala the emotional part, care, pleasure, rewards emotion sex and security instinct. These sections of the brain originally evolved about 150 million years ago are also instinctive and are common to all mammals.

They form the vital loving attachments between animals and their young and in human terms between children and their parent’s smell, the sound of voices, security. This time lays down a foundation of emotional security essential to the construction of a well-ordered human.   As the child approaches the development of the most advanced section of his or her human brain the thinking prefrontal cortex –  which originally evolved about two million years ago they are at their most vulnerable state they have total trust in their parents and teachers, They are absorbing information and learning patterns at an astonishing speed.

Children are pliable and can be shaped very quickly at that time, but once shaped the mix of ideas that did so will last far longer than the interactions that shaped them. They will generally be a copy of that which has gone before, I ideas ranging from a language to religion to a concept of a social order….

On the positive side, religion provided comforting answers when science could not, it still provides comfort to many at death an as an explanation of life. It contributed to social cohesion when society had one unified religion. But now, belief systems have split on doctrinal and governance issues; international migration has brought new religions.  So the argument for cohesion by faith no longer exists.  Now religion contributes to division and conflict, it may not be the main reason,  but it certainly does not help.  Christianity split into Catholic, Orthodox, and many protestant factions. Islam is split into Sunni and Shia, Judaism in many factions.  All of this certainly does not help the cohesion humanity seeks and desperately needs. Our own Northern Ireland is a case in point

In parallel with that problem, science has been providing a stream of answers which the dogmas of thousands of years ago can no longer resist, a round earth, planetary circulation, evolution.  Into this mix now arrives the new global religion of global consumerism. Its temples of worship are the vast shopping malls; its icons and saints are multifarious must-have brands. This brainwashing streams out every second of the day from screen, radio and print media…. It begins to overwhelm and replace religions. We will get back to that later in the program.


Speaking of religion – Music a great deal of wonderful religious music emerged during the height of the Classical period this is a three minute section from the Mass written by JS Bach in 1733. One might ask why an atheist like myself would play a Mass, written and performed by us humans it is a beautiful reflection of what we can achieve…. Thus, Bach’s Mass in B-minor…


This is Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM community radio with the Republic of Reason. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text;  083 46 81 472.

The battle between faith and reason is dealt with in more comprehensive detail in  –  My book – The Republic of Reason– it is still jumping off the shelf at John Burkes Kinvara supermarket….. must be well on the way to be on the bestseller list – well….maybe  Kinvara’s best seller list.

So back to the discussion in hand—- the connection between religion and a child developing the most advanced section of his or her human brain, as I said, children are at their most vulnerable at that age, they have total trust in their carers and are absorbing information and learning patterns at an astonishing speed?

At this vital juncture, the parents and guardians have a challenging choice to make. They can, and mostly do,  go with – the easy option, they pass on the unexamined inheritance and allow the child to go with the flow.  In a Catholic primary school- and that is over 90% of all schools – the child spends this critical year preparing for their first holy communion.  At this interface between their developed instinct and emerging intellect, their first prolonged encounter with focused learning is instruction in supplication and a suppression of curiosity.

Teachers get vulnerable children to accept a stream of anti-scientific, illogical beliefs. When the children accept these ideas without question they are rewarded with – a pleasure rush of – gifts, new clothes, money, parties and given huge family and social acclaim. Thus security in belief and pleasure are burned into the instinct, their ability to think critically in the future is often fatally damaged.  In later life, it is very difficult for reason and science to dislodge these beliefs. In religious parlance, the Jesuits said – give me the child, and I will show you the man. There were not joking they knew precisely the time to capture a man for life. In their ethos – by the way – Females hardly figured in this misogynist ethos.

The alternative and there is and Alternative – is for parents to take a different route.  Ensure that this vital time of about the seventh year is spent encouraging children’s questioning and curiosity. If natural curiosity and critical thinking can become part of their physic at this stage, it will see them through lif; they will seek out self-education. This is more important in a changing society, for they may have to make their own work, that will require innovative thinking a mind that can range outside the box – outside the social norms.  A critical thinking mind will save them from charlatans and help them distinguish fake and real news and be vital in the creation of a more progressive and egalitarian social order.

When I became the father of three children over forty years ago – my wife and I, despite being raised as Catholics, decided that the children would not undergo any of the rituals of faith, we would encourage the children to access information on every religion and non-religion. We also agreed that when they matured as adults if they decided to take the sacraments or any religious path or even become a priest or a nun – we would stand by them… Thankfully that did not arise.

Most people say that schooling is the key to our individual and collective futures, but, more often it is just training to pass a test and get a job.  The policy is; Bright enough to do the work – but not to question it.  Whatever an education is, it should make a unique individual, not an inheritor of unexamined ideas. It should furnish one with a spirit to tackle the big challenges, allow the development of moral values. It should encourage children to deal with what is important, how to live and how to die. That is Humanism – The person should be the centre of philosophy and be responsible for their morality – not Gods.


After this break for music we will ask – can we have morality without religion?




As humanity moved away from the dark ages of church power in Europe in the renaissance hints of light and confidence in humanity began to form this was expressed powerfully in Beethoven’s ninth symphony  this is a section of the finale….



Every day we witness the collapse of the moral order; Gastly stories of sexual abuse, the treatment of unmarried mothers and their children,  the corruption amongst politicians, the civic Guards, banks, finance, insurance fraud, has undermined our confidence in morality. This to me proves that the wxisting religious based moral order has failed. The existing belief system is so flawed that people are embarrassed by the beliefs them selves. If were to explain to a child in front of its parents precisely what the sacrament of communion was and how it came about… methinks! I would be quickly asked to exit. Thus the mainstream philosophy is never openly discussed – this in turn blocks access to any alternative moral thinking


As an Architect (ret) the important thing one must have – is good foundations  – no matter how beautiful the building one constructs, if the foundations are crumbling, all will be lost.  In that context any attempt to form children or society with a secure morality are flawed. The foundational documents are not ethical – Bible and the Koran, they are products of their time and reflect the values of the period.. fair enough I say ….well then OK,  let them be rewritten to reflect the values and ethos of our time. Cut out the bloodletting, the gross misogyny, the arrogance of gods demanding constant sublimation by the living people and their continuous demand for revenge and punishment. How would one begin to structure these as guides for a moral life?


Go to the street and question any passing stranger about their empathy and their innate desire to forgive and ask would they plunge anyone into everlasting hellfire? …. Extremely unlikely … No the vast majority of people would have far higher levels of natural morality than the gods, Christian or otherwise.


This takes us to the book  “Society Without God” by Phil Zukerman.  What the Least Religious Nations can tell us about contentment.


The book shows what non-belief looks like when it’s mainstream in a country. It argues that Religious faith is not necessary for a healthy peaceful, prosperous and moral society. Most residents of  Denmark and Sweden do not worship any gods or give any credence to religious dogma. They also happen to score at the very top of housing, health care at all social levels and the happiness index.


The determining factor in morality is how one relates to fellow humans, animals and all aspects of nature. The key word is respect, honesty openness and in a word – love. The deciding factor in a moral society is how it orders itself and the welfare and needs of its people. In almost every example the most religious countries score the worst – the non-religious countries score the best. These also are the conclusions of Phil Zuckerman’s book…. A worthwhile read for those pressing for the secularisation of Ireland or indeed who might be fearful of it It might Perhaps – lead to a higher morality.


But there is another phenomenon taking place that has the potential to threaten society with another false dawn;  A philosophy that is replacing the pleasure and security of religion and working against the possibilities of an advanced social democracy…..it peddles the comfort and the security of ownership – of things – consumerism.  It could be a society jumping out of the fire and into the frying pan…we will get back to that after a bit of a sea story – a blast from the past.


A story of a voyage by river and sea.  58 years ago…In 1961 at 15 years.  I built a PBK 22 canoe of marine plywood cross frames and laths of light timber all glued and brass screwed together. The Hull skeleton was covered in rubberised canvas.  I got so excited building it, I designed and built a longer slimmer single seat version as well. After the inter-cert exam early summer myself and a friend with canoes and camping gear, were dropped into the river Blackwater near Mallow.  For days we paddled downstream. My memories of the river are of its great beauty, overhanging trees with the ruins of ghostly castles shadowing the water and gentle sparkling rapids. We rough camped every evening cooked on a primus stove surviving on spuds, bread, tea and sausages. After four or five days we passed from the beautiful Blackwater out to the sea at Youghal, and paddled west along the coast.

The going got a bit rough and with, no chart, forecasts, we were forced ashore in some tiny deserted cove. Before a rising tide, we had tp bury our kayaks in stone and fled up the cliffs with our camping gear.  We waited out the weather system for a day or so, on a soggy headland in flapping tents and watched the wild sea running east. The weather cleared, we emptied our craft of stone and water and proceeded west. Off Power Head we paddled hard but made little progress for many hours, we had given no credence to the tide.  But time passes and tides turn, and we finally reached the haven of Poul Gorm. We rang our parents who may have been relieved to hear from us after been effectively missing for over a week ….a world before mobile phones.

I retrospect, I’m not sure if they ever figured how we got from Mallow to the mouth of Cork Harbour. My companion departed, and I stayed in a tent above Poulgorm for another month or more making a living from bumming and hawking. I would ring the Cunard office in Cobh and find out when liners such as the SS France, The SS America, the Queen Mary and I think even the green Mauritania. The massive ships would anchor outside the harbour, circling these leviathans in my kayak, I would persuade generous-minded passengers to throw down boxes of cigarettes and Californian oranges. These I would sell in the local pubs. My parents couldn’t figure out how I lived so well on a living allowance of 10 shillings a week.


This lullaby brings back that lovely sense of drifting down the Blackwater River. Memories of its great beauty, overhanging trees, the ruins of ghostly castles casting shadows over dark pools and –  gentle – sparkling rapids.  The song contains the resonating plea of protection from –  “ dread spirits of the Blackwater and Clan Owens wild banshee…..O’ sweet water and the melancholy of youth. – The Castle of Dromore.


This is Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM community radio with the Republic of Reason. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text;  083 4681472.

Before the break, I had been hinting at a society perhaps jumping out of the fire and into the frying pan…  Perhaps I am too pessimistic, I must force myself to see the glass half full rather than half empty.

One hundred years ago in Irelands revolutionary times, the future looked exciting, for the New Republic, as it broke away from the shackles of English domination. The people were Free, Free, Free …well not for long – the Irish Bourgeoise quickly realised that if a free Ireland meant free critical thinking for the mass of people is would become a disaster for them. So as quick as a light – they proved the prods right, home rule became Rome rule. The new sate enmeshed itself with the conservative church of Rome and ensured the full force of intellectual suppression was unleashed on schools, hospitals, colleges and indeed every institution of the state. We had jumped out of the fire and into the frying pan. As soon as we stopped kneeling to King of England, we started kneeling to a king of Rome.

Thus, the struggle for intellectual and spiritual progress against this new anti-intellectual octopus became the norm.  For a hundred years every progressive move was resisted, from mother and child care, divorce, contraception, abortion, gay rights, battles against censorship – and on and while the fight for reason is progressing, many skirmishes are left, mainly for the mind of the child.

Now, a new monster appears.  The neoliberal agenda, consumerism, a sort of poisonous lotto mentality that money triumphs over everything, this permeates all sectors of society — an anti-intellectualism in its own right. Its bells ring out a religion of thinks, to consume every second of the day from screen, radio and print media. Buy, shop, buy, replace… every thing is a commodity, while we once kneeled at the foot of the Kings then the church many worship at the temple of mammon.

Maybe one could argue that this new global religion of secular consumerism has the potential to unite the world, perhaps, but it may do other things as well…

It has been growing for some time. College graduates, emerge believing the same dogmas and holding the same attitudes they held at lower levels. Professors no longer make any attempt to teach students how to evaluate ideas or even the importance of doing so. Education has become vocational training to get a job.  Only conventionally believed Ideas are taught.  The concepts of private profit and wealth are pushed over public wealth and gain. While a million thoughts for new entrepreneurs,  goodies and services flow,  no new SOCIAL ideas emerge from such a culture, and human social progress is stymied. We are bombarded with trivia–entertainment, sports, cars, the lotto and technological toys. Some have called this an addiction to materialism; it is more addiction to ignorance, especially ignorance expressed as a belief in a moribund social order.

All the while  –  challenging spectres are knocking at the door. Irreconcilable contradictions,  Capital concentrates, relative poverty expands, and revolutionary explosions are inevitable. Secondly, infinitely accelerating population and production growth become pitted against a finite world and the shadow of climate change grows darker.

Solutions Solutions will spring only from a liberated youth, Young people with open and critical minds that can and will challenge the social order. While most organs of the chuch, state and media will combine with a million diversions of entertainment and do all in their power to strangle social inovative thinking. My plea is  – do not to be afraid, I believe that the instinctive desire for a worthwhile life for humanity and its fragile planet will win the day.


Music time – Written by Gustav Holst about 1915 from the suite  ‘The Planets’ Mars the bringer of War…..


This is Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM community radio with the Republic of Reason. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com  or text to; 083 4681472.

My book The Republic of Reason is jumping off the shelf at John Burkes supermarket….. must be on the way to be on the bestseller list well….maybe  Kinvara’s best seller list.


Throughout the ages a state through a combination of luck and resources, expand outside their original borders and construct an empire. The Romans, The Ottoman empire, the British empire, the Third Reich, They come and go leaving trails like snails behind them. The world latest empire builder is the Washing Wall Street consensus its protector and enforcer is the military of the United States of America and its claim made by Obama of its Exceptionalism!!

Ireland cannot in any military sense confront the forces of the USA. But we can in an intellectual sense, we can be an international advocate for peace, after the resolution of Northern Ireland wars we may have a legitimate claim as a venue for world peace conferences. To do that effectively we must preserve our neutrality.

However, our neutrality is compromised by the use of Shannon Airport to refuel and transit the US Military Machine.  I have been involved over the years in protests at Shannon Airport  – the second Sunday of every month from 14.00 to 15.00. A few weeks ago we were joined by veterans for peace from the USA two of whom were arrested and jailed. My following letter was published in the Clare Champion on the 29th March;

Dear Sir/ Madam,  Shannon Airport is a perfectly placed flight hub to serve the people of the Mid-West of Ireland. However, a growing consensus feels that to achieve full potential it should divest itself of any connection with the transit of military personnel and munitions.

As the death and destruction in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraqi and Syria begins to be understood, people sense a growing disquiet at the relationship between the Airport and the military forces of the United States. I feel the discomfort myself when I use the airport, to those who work there permanently this unease must be constant.

The majority of the men and women of the US military who transit Shannon are polite likeable people, unfortunate young actors who find themselves tragically at the interface between US imperialism and the resistance that emerges when people are occupied, bombed and shot.  The destinations of the military aircraft transiting Shannon have seen millions killed, horrific destruction and a brutalised people fleeing as migrants to Europe. The only beneficiaries appear to be the manufacturers of military weapons.

Any argument that Shannon Airport gains financially from the situation would be untenable and would only add to the general disquiet. The reestablishment of Shannon Airport as a solely civilian air hub would invigorate the airport. It would allow the management, staff and passengers to go about their lives free of internal conflict. As a neutral civilian airport with a new sense of purpose, it should be upgraded to serve all corners of the globe. Restored and marketed as a place of peace and neutrality – travellers would transit with a clear conscious.

This conflict of purpose was recently highlighted when two retired members of the American military who have seen at first hand the death and destruction of war, were arrested at the airport. It is challenging to equate how these honourable men of conscious who protested against the use of Shannon Airport for war purposes should be detained while thousands of soldiers equipped with arms for killing are allowed to pass through the airport unmolested. It is beyond argument that Tarak Kauf and Ken Mayers both US veteran’s for peace should be immediately released from prison and Shannon Airport be restored as a civilian airport.


I have met both Tarak Kauf and Ken Mayers, wonderful men who have experienced and seen up close the horror of US imperialism. I got a beautiful postcard the other day from Ken in response to a letter I sent while they were in prison. These men are presently out on bail but are obliged to remain in Ireland as their passports are held by the forces of our state. Their trail may not come up for years, so they are effectively being punished before they are found guilty.


If anyone wishes to support these peace makers, please google up ‘Veterans for Peace Ireland.’ A fund has been opened in a Limerick bank.


Music to smooth out these conflicts and dilemmas.  Written in 1892 by the wonderful Russian – Rachmaninov Prelude for piano in C minor.


Now a related storey. Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism or how the Media are being Destroyed.

There is nothing new about fake news every war battle, strife, or strike, the vanquished and the victors all have their own version of events for information enhances support or opposition to any cause or action, it is a tool of war. President Bill Clinton destroyed the independent US media when he permitted 90 per cent to be concentrated in six mega-corporations that were in the entertainment and not in the news business. This destroyed the reliance placed on a free press to keep government accountable to the people. This trend has become the charging horse of the worldwide neo-liberal agenda; no country is free from its effects, including our own cowering media.

Julian Assange is the Australian founder of Wikileaks—a website dedicated to the public’s right to know what governments are doing. It posts revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behaviour that results in wars and other man-made disasters. Because its very existence encourages “leaks,” government officials fear the website and particularly dislike Julian Assange.

Having identified alleged official misconduct, Wikileaks seeks to acquire and make public – overwhelming amounts of evidence—sometimes hundreds of thousands of documents at a time—which journalists and other interested parties can draw upon. This is a major public service.

That is not how most government officials see the situation. They assert that government cannot be successful unless aspects of its behaviour are conducted in secret. The fact that those aspects lose any accountable connection to the public is discounted. The assumption is that most citizens trust their governments to act in their interests, including when they act clandestinely. Historically, such trust is dangerously naive. Often government officials, even the democratic ones, feel no obligation to their citizens in general, but rather only to special interests.

To cripple Wikileaks and have their revenge on Assange, the United States and the United Kingdom (UK), with the cooperation of Sweden, first sought to demonise Assange on a sexual assault charge. This failed, Assange was still left liable for jumping bail in the UK in order to avoid seizure and deportation to the U.S., where he would certainly be put on trial for truth telling. He escaped to the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Two days ago he was evicted from the embassy.

Assange has ardently supported the notions of free speech, free press and the public’s right to know. Nonetheless, as the documentary filmmaker John Pilger,  has noted, “There has been no pressure [in support of Assange] from media in the United States, Britain, Australia, Ireland or pretty much anywhere except social media … outside the mainstream. … The persecution of this man should horrify all free-thinking people.” Unfortunately, there never have been so few brave free-thinkers about.

Many news outlets are willing to use the documented evidence made available by Wikileaks they will not publicly defend the “whistle-blower” who makes the information public.  Assange will have defenders, but they will be outside the mainstream—because truth itself is also outside the mainstream. That is their predicament, and ours as well.


My next programme; the last of the series in the Republic of Reason will concentrate on Russia. A story that could be as long and with all the twists and turns of War & Peace.

Thank you for listening, I will sail away with Spartacus by Khachaturian.




April 25th, 2019|0 Comments

Radio Show 4 Script

Radio Show 4

Welcome listeners, – we sail into the fourth airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – continues with an unending quest for Critical and innovative thinking, looking at any subject or event from a different point of view. If any listeners have comments positive or negative, I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the program at kinvarafm@gmail.com

In this Program We will look at;

  • Drugs and some misunderstanding on addiction and referring to a book by Johann Hari “ Chasing the Scream.”
  • A sea story about radios
  • Review and comments on a Book by Naomi Klein “The Shock Doctrine”.
  • And of course some excellent music.


Drugs. Today we question some aspects of this problem. Viewpoints which never appear to be dealt with in the MSM, but there are signs of improvement.

We will keep to drugs in within the common parlance and not – at least at this stage, stray into all the solace and pleasure-seeking activities that we humans can and do become addicted; smoking, Alcohol drinking, Eating chocolate and sugar, gambling, religion, critical thinking, sailing…I think all the things that give us pleasure and excape…. I’m stuck in there in a few of them… but for the most part we will be discussing illegal drugs as commonly understood….

Every day the media reports a seizure of drugs by the Gardai, huge caches worth millions and millions in cars, flats. This war against drugs carried out by in Ireland and indeed almost worldwide has been going on as long as we all can remember.  All the time the value of the drugs increases and the seizures get more significant, regardless ….. the quantity of drugs available and coming into the country appears to be constantly increasing.  The enforcing authorities, such as the police, customs, and here and abroad are failing over and over again in this so-called war against drugs. They must eventually admit the war cannot be won and change direction?

Q1. Who is buying these millions of euros worth of drugs, this vast quantity of drugs constantly? Is it the middle class, the rich, the poor, it would appear that drug consumption is fairly widespread throughout all strata of society? So there is no doubt that a huge demand exists.  And with that demand – a market and big money can be made. Then it’s a business opportunity to make a stack and this will be met by the street businessmen, the importers, the dealers, the bankers and the enforcers. A mirror image of the legit ones only OK they don’t get IDA, grants and but then again they do not have to pay tax.

2; That leads directly to the next aspect, competition – the turf wars, the shootings, the massive amount of police time spent on surveillance, arrests, charging, courts, and then a whole prison system. For example, in the USA of the 2.3 million people in jail (the biggest incarceration in the history of humanity) in the USA 21% are drug-related.

  1. Yet another aspect is the amount of harmful, dangerous drugs on the markets, unregulated the dealers can and do throw any spiky muck together to beef out ‘pure’ heroine, coke or weed – or bright and en.tre.pre.neur.i.al college chemistry students churn out designer drugs. One major reason that young students take a risk by swallowing these unknown, mind-blowing and sometimes mind destroying drugs is cost, … it appears to be cheaper to get stoned on drugs than drink. Speaking of mind-destroying, I once was the unfortunate witness of a young man I knew going to the US for the summer and returning a totally changed zombie after a BAD trip…a tragedy which makes me sad.

Now, all these three major problems might be solved in one fell swoop by legalising, taxing and regulating all drugs. Is this crazy one might ask, or  may I just be looking for a hit.. NO Personally, except for a bit of weed back in seventies I haven’t indulged myself.. yet,… I’m waiting for my 90th birthday.  We will return to this subject after a break for …


Music time – for a piece of drug-related music it would be hard to beat the Beatles “Lucy in the Sky – with diamonds” Far out man this is from the first take..Hence the loose introductory chatter…


But joking aside, and there are no jokes for a perfectly lovely young boy or girl who loses their mind on a BAD trip…from a BAD drug. However, All in ALL … We must recognise that the existing approach has not worked and is causing more problems than it solves.

I refer now to a book called Chasing the scream by Johann Hari. It is certainly the best and most humane explanation I’ve ever read on drugs, I encourage anybody who is interested in this topic (Parents, Guards Included) must make it their business to read this book. (SPELL – JOHANN HARI) Go look him up and do read the book. PS I’m not related or connected.

The book is subtitled  “the first and the last day of the war on drugs” The book, describes how this war against drugs started in America over 100 years ago. At that time, as in most countries, drugs were freely available to buy. He describes how many drug importers wanted to make drugs illegal as they would run forced monopolies to make a fortune. In 1914 drugs were made illegal in the US and that spread worldwide and since then the so-called war on drugs has intensified, the figures relating to deaths from drug-related death are enormous as well as the costs to contain it

Promises are made continuously by politicians about a drug-free future for our children….about the same chance as what I spoke in my last programme about a porn free future for children…forget it.

Consider what happened when prohibition came to the United States, speakeasy ’s sprung up overnight. Gangs formed to run them and with the brewing of illegal liquor, there was a huge increase in bad drink so manufactured that it could kill and it did. When alcohol was again legalised, the production was regulated and safer. The state collected taxes. Alcohol was not sold to minors… the gangs disappeared, or….. switched to drugs.

The arguments…. as one can see… whizz around in many directions   One of the main and continuing arguments against drugs is that they’re perniciously addictive and highly destructive. I have even heard it said on many occasions that the reason people are on the street –  destitute and homeless are that they are addicted to drugs.

But is that true? OR are they addicted to drugs because they are homeless and on the streets?  To help resolve this question let us refer some experiments carried out on rats…

In the late 1970’s It was found that when a rat is put in an empty cage alone with food and 2 water bottles one normal and one laced with drugs, The rat got addicted to the drug water and eventually died of malnutrition.

This experiment was touted as proof that drugs are uncontrollable and it laid the foundation for 40 years of drug policy with rehab centres using strict laws focused on withdrawal and a massive state war on drugs. The whole emphasis was making it clear that drugs are bad, bad bad.

Johann Hari in his book refers to a fascinating further development of this research experiment.   He says and I quote;  “ what most people don’t know is that in the same decade of the lonely rat experiment….another scientist professor Bruce Alexander thought it was obvious that lonely rats in boring cages would choose drugs over water. He then built and put the rats in a rat park – a lush cage with food and lots of other friendly male and female rats where they could have sex and little rats, they could play and scurry about and have fun to their heart’s content. They still had access to the choice of drug-laced OR plain water. Surprisingly his rats chose not to use the drugs. The researcher even took the study one step further and kept rats using drugs for 57 days in the lonely cage until they became heavily addicted. He then placed them in the rat park and astonishingly the rats gradually reduced their drug use until they stopped altogether and lived the rest of their lives drug-free.

Putting the rats aside for the moment what about us humans? Experiments like these happen to humans all the time.  One example is in hospitals were badly injured patients are given a medical form of heroin, heroin that is much stronger than the heroin used by street attics. Despite months of use these medical users stop when they go home to a life where they are surrounded by a loving family. A similar drug used for the same length of time would turn the isolated and lonely into street users who would continue to remain alone, disconnected and unhappy into desperate addicts.

The rat park experiments did not show the chemical addictions don’t exist but it showed that they are not the only thing that matters in drug abuse. What appears to be far more important is a person’s access to functioning social life respect, a degree of status a house and family, to be connected to other individuals and to society as a whole.  This is where the resources of the state should be spent and not continuing a useless and failing war on drugs. Many countries throughout the world Ireland included,  are beginning to listen and are moving away from the war on drugs to care, connection and love …far more effective in human terms and in cost terms.


Speaking of DRUGS real legal Drugs… this is one of mine ….Lets take some minutes of the first movement of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 2    this musical masterpiece. This particular performance is played on the Piano by Yuja Wang and I will spell her name Y-U-J-A—W-A-N-G as I must urge you to view this performance on Youtube… one seldom sees such raw human energy as when this Beautiful Chinese pianist engages in a passionate mén.age. à. trois with, the  Verbier Festival Orchestra, a piano to the stunning music of Rachmaninov…


Now for sea stories, or maybe a radio stories.

On the first offshore venture of the old Pylades – Dublin to the Isle of Man via Carlingford in July 1982, the boat had no radio communications except for a trusty transistor to get the BBC shipping forecast. This resulted in an interesting meeting in Carlingford lough….A British naval boarding party started waving what looked like a radio mic at us and finally verbally shouting at us to stop in that they might board –not stopping we yelled back… as the Vire two-stroke inboard was very sensitive to being taken out of gear and changing its revs  .. We helped them aboard anyway as we steamed along at a cracking 4 knots. However, the staring faces of three children looking at them unnerved the force and they withdrew…

After a further incident off the Chicken Rock, the SW point of the Isle of Mann, we began to realise that perhaps a VHF radio, for safety… might be a good idea.  27 years later when Katherine and I planned to circumnavigate we thought that the installation of a single sideband radio might be a good idea for similar reasons.

Katherine volunteered to sit the mandatory Department of Transport test for a Radio Operator’s Long-Range Certificate of Competency.  To turn our little ship into a ‘radio station’.

To get on a training Course was difficult, but Katherine, being Katherine found a place and headed off alone to Carlingford in County Louth on a dark Sunday in October 2008. She checked in as the only – lonely guest – in a silent hotel.  The course was five full days 09.00 until 20.00 on the last two, with the exam on the fifth day.  She was the only female amongst the 7 students. The other six were all skippers of fishing boats from Portavogie in Northern Ireland.

Katherine found the going harder than expected but the friendliness of the skippers helped as the week slid by. However, stress levels also began to rise —  the skippers of fishing vessels, found the ‘classroom’ to be an alien place. The night Katherine rang me to describe how the instructor had clattered one of the skippers on the head – I knew then that things were rougher than expected.

On the morning of the exam the hotel dining room Katherine found it occupied by a single other people, a lonely man—-the examiner.  Eating breakfast in silence, they met again shortly after in the examination room.

Much later that day the the flags were out in Dooneen as Katherine arrived home with Radio Operators’ Long-Range Certificate of Competency’

The SSB proved very valuable in our safe routing around South Africa & the Cape. We were assisted by a group of amauter radio operators who ensured we dodged the ferocious little depressions that jumped off the African continent and blew contrary to the Agulas currrant …”22ft square waves you won’t survive it mate” (I cant do a south African accent),,,we took their word and did what we were told.This is a short clip of Katherine action in the Indian Ocean calling up a sailors net with the other minute a routeing exchange with the famous  ocean weather router Herb Hilgenberg


SSB Radio clip>


Herb now retired, provided sailors with invaluable information and guidance as a hobby throughout the Atlantic routing small craft away from dangerous weather systems. Our most extended communication on the SSB was between Herb based in Ontario, Canada to Pylades about twenty miles short of Dingle about 2600 nautical miles.

We were so appreciative of his services we sent him the following poem  drafted on route from the Azores 12/06/12, which we understand is hanging in his radio  shack;

His call sign was Victor X-ray 49 eight  his boat – southbound 2

Sailors plying on Oceans deep

With weather worries, poorly sleep

The pressure fall is steep and fast

And lows pursue, the dice is cast.


Crawling from a restless bed

They stare, the dawn is crimson red.

The sunset has been black and gold

The wind is belching hot and cold


A storm spins down, a sailors fate!

Last hope is, Victor – X-ray, four nine eight.

On radio waves a Hertz invention

The crackling static seeks attention

Bad propagation, but a voice breaks through

“OK, this is, Victor – X-ray, southbound Two.”


Now push south, then east, then west,

It will be tough but that’s the best.

Another ship escapes its fate.

Due to Victor X-ray four nine eight.


In all safe harbours near and far

Where sailor’s tales enrich a bar

There grows the legend of a router great.

It’s Victor X-Ray four nine eight.




Speaking of Weather forecasts one of the most evocative pieces of music was the intro to the BBC shipping forecast as we jammed our ears to the headphone of a RDF a radio direction finder or a damp TRANNY… now generally gone from the knowledge of the modern sailor.   Sailing by.


From the heady freshness of the ocean to Economic Havoc and Ruin. Let us look at The Shock Doctrine a book by the Canadian writer Naomi Klein.

Many writers have pointed to the havoc and ruin that have accompanied the imposition of free markets across the world. Whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America or post-USSR Europe, policies of wholesale privatisation and structural adjustment have led to unbalanced economic activity and social dislocation on a massive scale. Anyone who has watched a country lurch from one crisis to another as the bureaucrats of the IMF imposed austerity and cut after cut pursuit of the holy grail of privatisation will recognise the process the Canadian writer Naomi Klein describes in The Shock Doctrine.

There are very few books that help us understand what is gong on in the world. The Shock Doctrine is one of those books. Ranging across the world, Klein exposes the strikingly similar policies that enabled the imposition of free markets in countries as different as Pinochet’s Chile, Yeltsin’s Russia, and post-Saddam Iraq. Part of the power of this book comes from the parallels she observes in seemingly unrelated developments.

But has the free market experiment failed? As Klein sees it, no, free-market shock therapy may have succeeded in achieving its true objectives. Post-invasion Iraq may be “a ghoulish dystopia where going to a simple business meeting could get you lynched, burned alive or beheaded”. Even so, Klein points out, Halliburton is making handsome profits – it has taken on many of the traditional functions of the armed forces in Iraq. An entire society has been destroyed, but the corporations that operate in the ruins are doing rather well. Klein’s message, then, in its own, profit-centred terms – disaster capitalism can work.

But the neo-liberal order is facing intractable problems. The Iraq war may have allowed another experiment in shock therapy, but a failed state has been created as a result of which Gulf oil – “the jugular vein of global capitalism” – is less secure than before. Faced with defeat in Iraq, the US administration seems to be gearing up for an assault on Iran – a move that would magnify the catastrophe many times over. At the same time financial crisis has reached into the American heartland with their amazing ability to get away with vast “quantitive easing” (printing money). It is impossible to predict how these crises will develop, but it is hard to resist the suspicion that larger disasters are in the making.

I had been involved in dozens of protests In London and Dublin supporting the Anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Actions in the worldwide struggle against the Apartheid system. For 27 years Mandela had been in jail the ANC kept fighting.  When Mandela was freed and the white government agreed to end Apartheid there were great celebrations elections were held. a new democratic government of the people came to power. All was well …not quite! Naomi Klein describes in frightening detail the how people were allowed political power…. but were hoodwinked out of economic power the revolutionaries were good at war but hopeless in economics.

Want to redistribute land? Impossible— the negotiators agreed to add a clause to the new constitution that protects all private property, making land reform virtually impossible.

Want to create jobs for millions of unemployed workers? Can’t—hundreds of factories were actually about to close because the ANC had signed on to the GATT, the precursor to the World Trade Organization, which made it illegal to subsidize the auto plants and textile factories.

Want to get free AIDS drugs to the townships, No That violates intellectual property rights commitment under the World Trade Organisation WTO which the ANC joined with no public debate as a continuation of the GATT – General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.

Need money to build more and larger houses for the poor and to bring free electricity to the townships? Sorry—the budget is being eaten up servicing the massive debt, passed on quietly by the apartheid government.

Raise the minimum wage to close the apartheid income gap? Nope. The IMF deal promises “wage restraint.” And don’t even think about ignoring these commitments— any change will be regarded as evidence of dangerous national untrustworthiness, a lack of commitment to “reform,” an absence of a “rules-based system
An anti-apartheid activist described the trap in stark terms. “They never freed us. They only took the chain from around our neck and put it on our ankles.” business was saying, ‘We’ll keep everything and you [the ANC] can have political power, you can have the façade of governing, but the real governance will take place somewhere else.’” A process that is common in so-called transitional countries—new governments are, in effect, given the keys to the house but not the combination to the safe. But a section of ANC ledership were poisoned by money and helped fool and repress the people … All very familiar stuff to us in post revolutionary Ireland.

Though the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 may have been regarded as a positive event by Western historians and ideologues, a victory for and validation of liberal democracy, its impact on the lives of Russian people was devastating.

Before we go into –The Neo-liberal attempt to eat Russia in 1991 we shall play.




The grand Finale of the 1812 overture by Tchaikovsky with the Danish Philharmonic — Written to celebrate the Victory of the Tsarist forces over Napoleon and his ridiculous attempt to take Russia, While the music is abit Nationalistic and Militaristic  It kind of a warning..… As an American General said the First rule in the Military hand book is  Do Not Invade Russia.


Naomi Klein sets out in forensic detail how the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s was used as a laboratory by American free-market think-tanks, gurus, and economists.

They came from the economics department of Chicago University, The major influence was the late Milton Friedman, the man credited with devising neoliberal economics.  An economic model which places a focus on controlling the money supply as a way to anchor inflation, which he and his co-thinkers viewed, and still view, as the enemy of economic growth.

In her book, Klein places the economic and social shock therapy administered in Russia in historical context.  The primary aim of these economic “hit men” was the destruction of any last vestige of state involvement in the nation’s economic life. Rather than the arbiter of social justice and guarantor of economic stability, the government would be reduced to the role of facilitating and protecting the interests of international investors, shareholders, speculators, and corporations. This involved the deregulation of the economy and banking system, the removal of social programs and safety nets, the lifting of price controls and the privatization of all state-owned sectors of the economy, which were sold off at a fraction of their true value to speculators.

President Boris Yeltsin who had been supported by vast quantities of American dollars and glorified as man of the year on the cover of Time Magazine had applied to join the IMF and was an eager convert to free-market orthodoxy. He and his friends saw what loot they and the freebooters of the world could get and they went for it. The economy was near bankrupt, and the creditor nations of the G7, exploiting Russia’s vulnerable state, made a condition of their cooperation in rescheduling the debt that the IMF should play a central role as a policy advisor, lender, and coordinator of assistance. As the Harvard academic Daniel Pipes, wrote at the time: “It is desirable for Russia to keep on disintegrating until nothing remains of its institutional structures.”

The impact of this economic medicine on Russian society was devastating. Most Russians consumed 40 per cent less in 1992, after a year of shock therapy, than they did in 1991, while a third of the population had fallen below the poverty line. By 1994 the suicide rate had doubled, drug use had risen to record levels, and violent crime had increased by four times its previous rate during the Soviet era. Russia was on the precipice of disaster with the State Duma and President Boris Yeltsin, in full-blown civil war – a consequence of the chaos that had beset the country.

When we sailed from Kinvara to Russia in 2017 we certainly found that things had greatly improved. The Russians held Putin in some respect, despite him being a participant in a grab of the people’s wealth and being a shrewd capital accumulating businessman, he nevertheless appears to have been instrumental helping Russia recover from those dark years of economic rape. He has led a re-establishment of national sovereignty, moved the country away from the internal economic vandalism and blocked off external international speculators and reestablished state control over the banks.  More distressing for Washington he has overseen the rebuilding of the Russian Military forces and alliances with China.

It is a recovery the Washington Wall Street consensus has never forgotten or forgiven. The Republic of Reason must return to the whole fascinating history of Russian and its story again.


The next programme  The Republic of Reason will deal amongst other things with the Vexed question of Belief, faith-based and non-faith based. We will look at books such as Phil Zuckerman Society without God and perhaps … Some Bertrand Russel  and his early Book ‘Why I’m not a Christian.’  Well have a great Paddy day and weekend I’m off the Shannon Airport at 2 pm on Paddies day to protest the Use of Shannon by Trumps Military We are to be joined by some US Veterans for Peace who have served in Iraque and Afghanistan…should be interesting. Thank you for listerning …Keep well




March 21st, 2019|0 Comments

Radio Show 3 Script

Welcome listeners, – we sail into the third airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – The Republic of Reason: continues with a quest for truth and like Don Quixote the occasional tilting at windmills.  If any listeners have comments positive or negitive I would be delighted to hear them…. Email the programme at kinvarafm@gmail.com (Kinvara with one R)

In this Program We will look at   ;

  • Valintines day and its connection with

The Selfish gene, published in 1976 by Richard Dawkins

  • The state of Sex education in Irish schools
  • An event at sea
  • Fake news and how to spot it.
  • and of course some excellent music.


Two days ago, we celebrated the festival of what is now called St. Valentine’s day. It is believed that this Christian festival had its roots in pagan Rome.  Priests would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. There the priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification, the sacrificial blood would be smeared on young women in the belief this would make them fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, the young women in the city would place their names in an urn. The city’s bachelors would pick a name and pair for the year with the woman. Matches that often ended in marriage.

This festival – Lupercalia was outlawed after the rise of Christianity, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 was now to be St. Valentine’s Day. During the Middle Ages, it was believed that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, adding to the idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance and sex. And that introduces us to the main theme of the programme, sex.

 Our instinct for reproduction is second only to that of survival. The forces related to reproduction and how we resolve them are a major contribution or otherwise to status and dignity. When sex and passion rear their head, most rational thinking flies out the window, perfectly normal people are prepared to throw caution to the wind and risk marriage, status, reputation and money for the life-affirming adrenaline of  – sex.

The book which throws a different light on this subject is, The Selfish Gene a wonderful book published by Richard Dawkins in 1976. At that stage Dawkins was a little-known lecturer in zoology at Oxford University.  On its publication is was an extremely influential book and caused quite a stir and it still is very relevant.  It rapidly became very influential and of course controversial.  But the author had done his research and well and it has held its own against all commers for over forty years. I read it about 10 years ago, in fact I read it twice and a few of the chapters even more so, —– as I struggled to grasp the concept of the “selfish Gene”. The book which I highly recommend is a brilliant description of the immortal gene as the driver of life —- life for its own sake passing from one generation to the next, using each individual human as a temporary survival machine, driving our brain and body to reproduce and pass the gene onto the next temporary home, – our children.

Like instinctive breathing and the beating of the heart, sex did not have to be taught; particularly In the days before the rise of human consciousness, the gene could not take such a risk.—- It could not take the risk that the survival machines – us humans- that were the carries of the gene would somehow forget how to procreate.  Therefore the gene built-in powerful chemical and drivers into our system to ensure — we got on with it….to ensure we produced children to carry forward the gene. Recently — and when I say recently I mean approximately about two million years since the rise of the conscious mind and particularly since the emergence of written historical record many power structures and religions have been trying to control this instinct with strictures and suppression. However, regardless of what barriers are ranged against it, it has a thousand tricks to fulfil its destiny.

The fact that we now have over seven billion people on the planet endangering our collective future and environment is a testimony to the success of that clever driver of sex – pleasure,  the power of the gene and its lack of foresight. The fact that such a basic powerful instinct could have become so caught in the modern turmoil and confusion between eruption and suppression is a fascinating topic which I will deal with shortly in a new and hopefully most enlightening manner when I get to Sex Education.

Most philosophical and religious viewpoints, the Catholic Church’s in particular, have little or no understanding of how powerful that sex drive is. In its attempted control of sexual behaviour, it has brought misery to millions, to its own priests and in its stubbourness on these issues it is likely to help in its own destruction. The attempt to repress sex with prayer and threats of damnation was a hopeless task. The legacy of oppression has made it a subject difficult to discuss even among educated, enlightened people. We are unique as a species by mostly engaging in sexual activity in private, which has to some extent further contributed to perceptions of shame and inhibition.

Another source of reticence is that humanity assumes itself to be a superior species, sophisticated and far removed from all other animals, it is a perpetual shock to our human collective ego that our sexual features and methods of copulation are basically the same as other animals.. However, unlike animals, and particularly since the evolution of consciousness over ninety-nine per cent of human sex is not for reproduction but for pleasure, recreation and bonding. All in all —we humans have developed a fraught and ambiguous relationship with reproduction.



My beloved wife at times points out to me that I can get fixated on a project—– it used to be design and build of pubs, housing and even a boat. Then it became the writing of ‘The Republic of Reason’, now with a new book in the offing —-working title ‘Trouble in Eden’ and many associated diversions, the passions continue. In an attempt to shut me up and bring me back to earth —- Katherine quotes the Poet, Paul Durkan to me —- a poem which mocks and captures the dilemmas of the driven and perhaps partly insane….Raymond of The Roof tops. Read by None other than Paul Durkan himself…


This is The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM your local community radio. I would be delighted with any response to the show positive or negative, Contact me by email; kinvarafm@gmail.com

That poem would nearly knock the most ardent Scribe off his perch, but I shall plough on.

The origins of why we wear clothes are not that easy to discern, evolving hairlessness, protection from the cold and abrasion. However, I believe that the key factor was the emergence of consciousness itself, the explosion of thought will I believe explain a great deal of why we have such a fraught relationship with sexuality. We will get to that in more detail and the dilemmas in the Garden of Eden anon, under education.

Over time wearing clothes became a cultural norm, bolstered by religions and law. Clothes themselves became statements; statements of attraction, exaggeration of features deemed to be attractive, statements of availability, arousal and status. Dress codes signal group identity, from the slum garb of baggy trousers and shiny tracksuits to the exposed braces and power dressing of the city. Some, such as high-heel shoes, tight skirts and fascinators of female dress have become an object lesson in style, worthy of anthropological investigation. If a raised heel and tight skirt were emphasising a lengthening leg and sensual bottom and deemed to increase attraction, then every additional heightening of the heel and tightening of the skirt might perhaps be deemed even more so. Leading eventually to a situation where a woman is barely able to walk in astonishingly high shoes and hobbled by a skirt, altering the image from a sensual elegance to submissive helplessness. Perhaps this is a parody on the foot binding of an older China or a form of submissive bondage at a time of falling feminine confidence and the phenomenon of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. One way or another— attraction – clothes and fashion are a multibillion-pound industry

The battle within sexuality is the infernal selfish gene pushing for sex with multiple progenies, the church countenancing it but within strict parameters and only in the context of reproduction. The developing knowledge of science brought the worst nightmare to the gene – contraception. For the first time, humans could have pleasure without the consequences, the unplanned pregnancy, in one stroke both the strategy of the selfish gene and that of the social order, mainly the church— were thwarted. After all the battles about rights to Contraception the war is won ….it is now off the agenda. But many struggles remain.

The uncomfortable paradoxes of sex continue, children generally do not want to know their existence to be conditional on their parents having had sex. That realisation pushes such an act into a deep recess of the mind. Nevertheless, copulation with another is at the forefront of the same mind, perhaps such contradictions are at the root of much human neurosis. The term ‘protecting the innocence of children’ endorses a principle that sex somehow is not innocent. This explains why gods that became man arrived via — virgin birth, a story universal to many religions…..this is so the god could arrive ‘pure’ without any link to that ‘awful sex stuff’. Thus, we somehow have to protect the innocence of the gods and their pure virgin mothers as well as that of the children.

Suppression of sex in the general population has led to widespread ignorance and unhappiness. In situations where drink has diminished inhibitions unprotected, irrational or forced sex takes place with the result that approximately one in every 10 pregnancies is unwanted leading to large numbers of pregnant women having an abortion- a traumatic situation for everyone concerned. Those who genuinle want to campaign against abortion must activle campaign in favour of comprehensive sex education in schools.

The encouragement of open dialogue between sexually active people and throughout society would substantially reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies an approach has been proven in the more liberal societies of Scandinavia.

In music, almost every three-minute popular song is about the quest for love, the implications of its loss, jealousy and love again. This complex but rather delightful instinct for love and companionship and reproduction is part of an evolutionary programme wired into the brain. There is a delight in comprehending why and how it all works and enjoying this wonderful experience that we call life. The level of dignity we carry through life is greatly influenced by how we deal and exist with our fellow humans on a sexual level. While this powerful force, like most others, is neutral in neither being good or evil, it can thankfully, in the majority of cases, enhance life and well-being. However, it can also lead to oppression, exploitation and fear through rape and abuse.

A recent manifestation of sexuality is the very accessible internet pornography. Exploitative in many senses, it is a relatively shy industry and therefore difficult to identify reliable statistics. About 30% of web searches are deemed to be for erotic content. A recent study in the United States could not find any college male not using porn sites. Looking at porn releases dopamine, a pleasure drug enhanced by novelty, causing addiction to novel experiences. The web is a place where a man can see more receptive females in 10 minutes than his ancestors could in multiple lifetimes. This, however, comes with a price for it can become an addiction, making it more difficult to maintain normal sexual function with a stable partner. Little scientific evidence is available at present to draw definite conclusions as to long term affects, but no doubt in time, it will. The easy access to internet pornography by children, who will develop a virtual perception of sex that distort expectations, may alter the whole debate in the near future, whether to negative or positive effect, remains to be seen.


With all that talk of eroticism let us listen to the first movement of the magnificent Erocia Symphonie no. 3 by Beethoven. 5.5 min


“Teaching young people about sex should not be viewed as a set of problems to be managed, but as an opportunity to empower them as happy well-adjusted and contented sexual citizens.

The research I have done on sex education points out very clearly that in Ireland it’s in an appalling condition and needs immediate radical reform. I have proposed a way forward which I believe will greatly enhance the Relationship and Sexuality Education in Primary Schools yes Primary schools. In all the research and reading I have done over  a lifetime I have never seen this vital subject previously approached as a battle between the instinct and the intellect.

Hundreds of recent revelations of child abuse and the historical treatment of women with unwanted pregnancies indicate our failure to deal with these issues comprehensively. The most recent publications [i] from the Department of Education Ireland are helpful but over-cautious, lengthy and vague. This proposal is to inspire a sharper debate on the subject and ascertain a response from persons involved in the parenting, protection and education of children

No parent wants to think about their child viewing pornography, but it will happen, the average age of first exposure is now less than 11 years old [ii].  It is our responsibility to ensure that children understand what a respectful, mutually-agreeable, sexual relationship is, BEFORE the beginning of puberty and BEFORE exposure to pornography. While children need to understand the instinctive pleasure that gives rise to eroticism, they should also appreciate how pornography can create unrealistic sexual expectations and could become a driver of exploitation, intimidation and assault.

In schools the involvement of parents and carers need to be considered. Parents and teachers may have to explore views and opinions that are not usually held. It is important that teachers can achieve a confident, factual and compassionate approach to the teaching. While most parents will be supportive, it is unlikely to be universal.

Mutual respect, consent and a full understanding of pregnancy, should be the basis for the moral regulation of sexual activity as children grow into adults. Discussions on postponing sexual activity might be worthwhile, but any suggestions which develop shame prove counterproductive. The enormous power of the sex instinct will overcome inhibitions. Alcohol and other mind-altering substances will be used to suppress inhibition and shame, sex in such circumstances is much more likely to be careless and unprotected, resulting in unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted disease.

Honest dialogue within RSE will develop transparent relationships and behaviours where children can assess and manage risk. The mature confidence of an individual’s sexuality is a vital component of self-esteem in all aspects of life. It is also essential that RSE be inclusive of gay relationships and reach out to those not confident in their gender identity, as any mental isolation on these issues can lead to tragic consequences.

The teaching of RSE needs to be within the context of who we are as humans, our evolution, and our two most powerful instincts, survival and replication.  It needs to be about human intimacy, happiness and its contribution to mental and physical health. Sex is the essential mechanism for the survival of our species, it can be exciting, pleasurable, fun and it colours our entire life. It is the basis for human perceptions of beauty and almost every drama of humanity; it is the engine of emotion and love, it is the lyric of every song and the goal and triumph of our existence.  Unfortunately, it can also be a driving force of disrespect, exploitation, jealousy and hatred.

WHAT IS EXPLICIT: The Department of Education and Skills States that:

“It may not be appropriate to deal with some explicit questions in class. Teachers may choose to say that it is not suitable to address that question at this time. When deciding whether to answer questions the teacher should consider the age and readiness of the students, the RSE programme content and agreed policy”.

The concept of what is ‘Explicit’ may pose more difficulties for adults rather than children. The advent of neuroscience with its understanding of the segmented brain structure (see BRAIN PARTS sketch) explains the embarrassment humans have with Sex and Sex education.

The ancient instinctive brain together with Amygdala and the Hippocampus, are the drivers of sexual reproduction and have no embarrassment with explanations of sex or nakedness. The more modern thinking brain and the social order tries to control this instinctive force. This conflict between the instinct and the intellect is the human condition and is the story of the ‘fall’ in the garden of Eden, “having eaten from the tree of knowledge they saw they were naked and covered themselves”. . I am prepared to meet any group to explain the logic of this proposal.


Let us for a moment, leave the trials and tribulations of solving the sexual problems of the world ….  Let us fly away on a sailing voyage.  A sailing story….. away from the dramatic….storm swept coasts and the beautiful curtains of rain that sweep Burren hills …..Let us go to a time and a place quite different But somehow —– it is still connected with the sensual and the romantic.

This is The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM your local community radio. I would be delighted with any response to the show positive or negative, Contact me by email; kinvarafm@gmail.com

On the 10th June 2010—– Katherine and myself found ourselves wandering under sail through the heart of French Polynesia. Having reluctantly exited Rangiroa one of the beautiful lagoons of the Tuamotus we sailed 210 miles, south west until we arrived into Papatee Harbour in Tahiti.  Having secured our ship we went wandering the town…..  but to put the whole evening  in somewhat of a setting our Log a takes a piece from a book by Paul Theroux on Polynesia and I quote :

“ In 1768 a bare-breasted Tahitian girl climbed from her canoe to a French ship under the hot-eyed gaze of the French sailors who had not seen any woman for over six months.  She stepped to the quarterdeck where, pausing she slipped the flimsy pareu from her hips, and stood utterly naked. smiling at the men. In that moment the myth of romantic Tahiti was conceived. Like Venus rising from the waves – that was how the naked girl was described by the captain of the ship, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the first Frenchman in Tahiti, who believed he had discovered heaven on earth”…

Well here we were some 300 years later in that heaven on earth and browsing through the streets of Papatee.  We came across a little slightly run down restaurant, it was called Les Cafe des Négociant’s ….. we sat at a table on the street outside planning to have a glass of wine or two and watch the passing action on the streets, Frederica the waitress came out and started chatting to us, not to be trifled with, she was an engineer on a French naval vessel and a charming girl she was full of sea going stories. The maître D of the café was a slightly stern-faced lady, one imagined she had spent an eventful young life in the French Resistance.  Many couples were now sitting around tables and a small jazz band set up  and began to play. In the slow course of the evening time seemed to wind down and even begin to go backwards — couples started to rise and shuffling into each other arms began to dance, some elderly and drink worn, some in faded suites with the air of card sharps….all were like visions out of a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec.  Two girls joined us at the table, very beautiful and charming and they told us of their trip to Tahiti from their home in Paris, as the music and the fine wine took a grip of the situation they cast off their shoes and danced bare foot on the street, they were trained dancers and moved with a silken grace.  Waves of nostalgia and all the emotions that make us human washed over us, it penetrated our very being. Katherine and I could no longer resist. and we too danced that night under the stars in Papatee.

We both carry vivid memories of that evening and dream those dreams of times past on Pylades sailing expeditions.


To attempt to capture that very French moment nothing can match the little sparrow….. Edith Piaf            2.14 min


After that foray into nostalgia and sensual sound we must get back to the Education proposition in hand.

Relationship and Sex education begins with friendships, feelings and families, proceeding to puberty, relationships and reproduction.  There is, no inappropriate stage to start these discussions, children do not have the inhibitions of parents and teachers. Preserving the innocence of children is akin to preserving the ignorance of children which facilitated so much historical child abuse.

 RSE is to become compulsory in all UK schools by 2020.  In the Netherlands[iv], such education and information about sexual diversity are already compulsory. As a leader in the field, the Netherlands have shown that an open climate, comprehensive sex education and a non-judgmental attitude toward young people’s sexuality contribute to the postponement of intercourse, low rates of unintended pregnancies and the lowest level of abortion in the world. Incidentally — It also scores as one of the happiest countries in the world.

  • The most important thing in any person’s life is their body.  A vital part of a child’s education is to understand how its personal biological machine works and how to enjoy, protect, and take good care of it.

Children need to understand their bodies and have the resources to deal with puberty, pornography and the power of sex as part of a regular RSE programme. The age for puberty appears to be lowering[v], and the average age of exposure to pornography is now less than 11 years old[vi].  It is our responsibility to ensure that children from a young age understand how their bodies work and what a mutually respectful, joyful, sexual relationship is – before these events occur.

TO ACHIEVE THIS; schools need to Build RSE, not as an isolated programme, but holistically integrated with evolution and as part of the whole biology of body and brain. It should be normalised and not dealt with by one-off ‘specialist’ discussions.

  • Children need to understand the reasons for and the power of attraction.
  • They need to understand how the forces of instinct act on them can overcome rational thinking.
  • Children need to understand female menstruation and male ejaculation before they occur.
  • Children need the resources and confidence to discuss the nature and the extent of any unwanted sexual encounter, or any future desired sexual encounter.
  • They should be free of inhibitions that in the future will need screening with drink or drugs to permit them discussions within relationships or sexual activity.
  • They should acquire the resources to control their growing sexuality through empathy, consent, respect, and understand the consequences of any sexual act through critical thinking.

I have developed a poster which could be displayed in schools to normalise sexuality and RSE and assist in its demystification; it would break away from the concept of the occasional ‘sex talk.’ Open familiarity with the body would enable ongoing normal discussions on the subject.

‘OUR BRILLIANT BODIES,’ is a cartoon type, humorous drawing, it shows the common and different parts of both sexes in Irish and English. The poster also indicates associated Lessons: 1. Survival, 2. Intellect & Instinct, 3. Reproduction, 4. Why two Sexes?

(This poster arose from observing a similar, but clothed poster in a school naming body parts but not referring to any genitalia, an approach that associates these unnamed body parts with problematic shame and embarrassment at a vital time in a child’s education.)

 The poster and studies need of course to be enlivened by a teacher in class. Lessons which integrate evolution, biology and fun would negate the embarrassed obscurity in which this subject is often held.   (NOTE: the subject matter is vast, and under constant scientific review thus the study explanations and the BRAIN PARTS sketch are greatly simplified and abbreviated)

Lesson Plans The objective of these lessons is that children in primary school; are helped into adulthood with the resources and skill sets to achieve happy and fulfilling consensual relationships. Also, that they will be prepared for the challenges of puberty and pornography. (see BRAIN PARTS sketch)

Example of approach – LESSON 1. SURVIVAL

Survival is our most powerful instinct. We need food, both solid and liquid. In front of our Brain, are a mouth, nose and eyes, these are grouped specifically in this position and order to check out what we eat. A lesson on this major survival function: (fun!) Request a volunteer, a child to lie face down on the ground. Place an apple, perhaps covered, 2 meters in front. Ask the child to put its arms behind its back and with their legs bent forward from the knee and wriggle on their bellies to the apple. Their eyes will scan the food, looks OK, then their nose will smell – OK, then bite and taste – OK. The brain has used the eyes, nose mouth and taste to check out the food for consumption.

As the food passes through the machinery of the body, its energy is extracted. At the bottom of the body, the waste, both liquid and solid are dumped. If the forward moving child were to come across this deposit, it would not look or smell good – they would never get to the tasting stage. Then ask the child on the floor to crawl on hands and knees, then on its hands and feet, then stand and walk.

As well as explaining the energy gathering – survival mechanisms of most animals and fish, the child altering its forward movement from slug-like slithering to walking on two legs, would demonstrate about 500 million years of evolution.

LESSON 2. Instinct & Intellect

LESSON 3. Reproduction


General; encourage class discussion and organise anonymous written questions on an ongoing basis. Children’s curiosity must be answered with honesty and openness.

I have a simplified sketch of human BRAIN PARTS is to demonstrate the evolutionary time difference and conflict between Intellect and Instinct.————

I believe it is important to bring this novel way of understanding sex and its education to a wide audience of teachers, parents and most importantly children. To this end I am willing to meet any local group, discuss and make a presentation of this proposal; Contact me by email; kinvarafm@gmail.com Or through my website at www.the republicofreason.ie

I will finish this Valentine type talk — of sex, Love And Emotion, and slide into some reflective music. And there is nothing better I believe in the music of love then the piano concerto no 21 by Mozart  completed on 9 March 1785 it taps into perfect synergy with the human condition, It upstaged Bo Widerberg’s art-house film, Elvira Madigan, in the 1960s which I —  as with countless others sat through with streaming tears as love turned to tragedy. This is the second movement of one of Mozart’s—— most profound works.


Music Mozart Piano Concerto 21. Second movement      6.5 min  FADE


In the final piece of the programme I move from Love to FAKE NEWS AND PROPAGANDA

Being such a lover of freedom, it pains me greatly to see anyone suffering in jail, but to see a brave journalist suffer so is even worse.  Julian Assange founded Wikileaks in late 2006 in order to expose war criminality. His first major breakthroughs was the publication of US Army whistle-blower Chelsea Manning’s leaks on atrocities committed by allied forces in Iraq.  Mainly the video of a helicopter gunship casually murdering people on the ground.  Since then, WikiLeaks has exposed the grim realities of the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, campaign fraud in the United States, intelligence agencies spying on innocent civilians and even fellow world leaders, economic corruption and illegal political meddling by the US into the affairs of sovereign nations.

Crucially, not a single item that Julian Assange has published has ever been challenged on a factual basis a record of which Assange can be proud. And yet instead of being granted a Nobel Peace Prize Assange is effectively imprisoned in a small room in London.

It must never be forgotten that Hillary Clinton remarked, now it was only a remark, but – that “Assange’s execution should be conducted with a military grade drone.” Imagine if Putin said that even in a joke about a dissident journalist?

Assange has not been in the light of day for nearly seven years. The mainstream media, in Ireland, Europe or the US are on their knees to the agenda of the Washington Wall Street war consensus and dare not step out of line in demonising him. Even papers that used be regarded as left liberal have gone out of their way to constantly poison the air about him. The spurious sex charges that were brought against him despite being dropped almost two years ago are still occasionally brought to the surface by the MSM.

One can see immediate similarities with the case of Sargeant Maurice McCabe who by whistle blowing against the Garda establishment was maliciously accused of being a paedophile. Totally innocent, it is hard to fathom the depths to which the establishment will go to demonise truth tellers and obscure the truth.

Let us cast our minds back a little to recent instances where the MSM engaged with fake news. News and the slant of news is in fact a weapon of war. Our side – the good guys disseminate news, The other side – the bad guys only have propaganda…..

Vietnam;  The fake Gulf of Tonkin Incident… The US went to war and 3 Million Vietnamese were killed, 58,000 young Americans, were codded and killed. Massive chemical war – agent Orange, against the people, the crops and forests.  At that time it must be said the MSM were much more divided in their opinions – now they would be far more supportive of the US.

Afghanistan; NATO and the US invasion, despite the fact that the attackers of the twin towers were Saudi ….but that whole business is so mired in doubt, its hard to go there.

Iraqi — Colin Powell – definite proof of weapons of mass destruction (and the entire Bush administration). Those lies were taken up by most of the media pack who howled out their joy at shock and awe and a half a million are killed, a country was reduced to ruins and US corporate interests got the oil.

Libya is now rarely mentioned in the western mainstream media, which is not surprising because the place is a catastrophic shamble as a result of the US-NATO Operations.  As Hillary Clinton the heroine of MSM … said of Gadhafi “We came, We saw, He died”  Not surprisingly people are attempting to flee these now ruined  countries and reach Europe. Who does our MSM blame — people smugglers?

Russia: now that is the big baddie. In 1991 at the collapse of the Soviet Union a Russian General was reported to have said to an American General, “Well now you have a big problem… you have no enemy – how will you or the Industrial Military complex justify your huge war machine?” So if you do not have an enemy- you make one. Thus, NATO and the US broke every agreement, pushed their armies to the Russian border and do all they can to goad, and demonise. Every offer of reconciliation is thwarted and all the MSM faithfully reproduce without question every demonizing press release of Washington and NATO.

SO how do we find what might be true or false in the news. Start with 1. local media, RTE, Irish Times, BBC, etc. (as that will be the same as all western press news). 2. a mix of Russia Today and Aljazeera, the International Clearing House.  then social media… After gathering the conflicting information, one must pot oneself in the position of a judge – weight up all the evidence – Judicial thinking and be a detective. What does a detective do at a crime scene, the first question is—- Who Benefits? Follow the Money. From all that one may get as close to the truth as one can.

Between Valentine’s day, Sex, Sailing and Fake news Methinks that might be enough for today.  In the next show I hope to get to talk Johann Hari’s book, “Chasing the Scream” about –  Drugs and the war on drugs. Also, perhaps “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein.

This is The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM your local community radio. I would be delighted with any response to the show positive or negative, Contact me by email; kinvarafm@gmail.com

Thank you for listening and again I leave with the signature tune …Spartacus by Khachaturian


February 23rd, 2019|0 Comments



Email; fergusandkay@outlook.ie

Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) for Primary Schools

This proposal for teaching sexuality differs from previous approaches as it takes cognisance of recent developments in neuroscience[i], it underlines the necessity to understand the conflict between instinct and intellect.

The submission consists of:

Introduction, Poster and Lesson plans, Support evidence, References and BRAIN PARTS sketch.


Hundreds of recent revelations of child abuse and the historical treatment of women with unwanted pregnancies indicate our failure to deal with these issues comprehensively. The most recent publications [ii] from the Department of Education Ireland are helpful but over-cautious, lengthy and vague. This proposal is to inspire a sharper debate on the subject and ascertain a response from persons involved in the parenting, protection and education of children. I am prepared to meet any local group to explain the logic of this proposal.

No parent wants to think about their child viewing pornography, but it will happen, the average age of first exposure is now less than 11 years old [iii].  It is our responsibility to ensure that children understand what a respectful, mutually-agreeable, sexual relationship is, BEFORE the beginning of puberty and BEFORE exposure to pornography. While children need to understand the instinctive pleasure that gives rise to eroticism, they should also appreciate how pornography can create unrealistic sexual expectations and could become a driver of exploitation, intimidation and assault.

Family and school roles; involvement of parents and carers need to be considered, and a consensus needs to be agreed with the objectives and content of the RSE scheme. Parents and teachers may have to explore views and opinions that are not usually held. It is important that teachers can achieve a confident, factual and compassionate approach to the teaching. While most parents will be supportive, it is unlikely to be universal.

Morality and regulation; Mutual respect, consent and a full understanding of pregnancy, should be the basis for the moral regulation of sexual activity as children grow into adults. Discussions on postponing sexual activity might be worthwhile, but inculcations of shame prove counterproductive. The enormous power of the sex instinct will overcome inhibitions. Alcohol and other mind-altering substances will be used to suppress inhibition and shame, sex in such circumstances is much more likely to be careless and unprotected, resulting in unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted disease (STD).

High-quality, honest dialogue within RSE will develop transparent relationships and behaviours where children can assess and manage risk. The mature confidence of an individual’s sexuality is a vital component of self-esteem in all aspects of life. It is essential that RSE be inclusive of gay relationships and reach out to those not confident in their gender identity, as any mental isolation on these issues can lead to tragic consequences.

Context; The teaching of RSE needs to be within the context of who we are as humans, our evolution, and our two most powerful instincts, survival and replication.  It needs to be about human intimacy, happiness and its contribution to mental and physical health. Sex is the essential mechanism for the survival of our species, it can be exciting, pleasurable, fun and it colours our entire life. It is the basis for human perceptions of beauty and almost every drama of humanity; it is the engine of emotion and love, it is the lyric of every song and the goal and triumph of our existence.  Unfortunately, it can also be a driving force of disrespect, exploitation, jealousy and hatred.

EXPLICIT QUESTIONS: The Department of Education and Skills (IRL) states that: [iv]

“It may not be appropriate to deal with some explicit questions in class. Teachers may choose to say that it is not suitable to address that question at this time. When deciding whether to answer questions the teacher should consider the age and readiness of the students, the RSE programme content and agreed policy”.

The concept of what is ‘Explicit’ may pose more difficulties for adults rather than children. The advent of neuroscience with its understanding of the segmented brain structure (see BRAIN PARTS sketch) explains the embarrassment humans have with Sex and Sex education. The ancient instinctive brain together with Amygdala and the Hippocampus, are the drivers of sexual reproduction and have no embarrassment with explanations of sex or nakedness. The more modern thinking brain and the social order tries to control this instinctive force. This conflict between the instinct and the intellect is the human condition and is the story of the ‘fall’ in the garden of Eden, “having eaten from the tree of knowledge they saw they were naked and covered themselves”.

CONTENT; Relationship and Sex education begins with friendships, feelings and families, proceeding to puberty, relationships and reproduction.  There is, no inappropriate stage to start these discussions, children do not have the inhibitions of parents and teachers. Preserving the innocence of children is akin to preserving the ignorance of children which facilitated so much historical child abuse.

 RSE is to become compulsory in all UK schools by 2020. In the Netherlands[v], sex education and information about sexual diversity are already compulsory in schools. As a leader in the field, the Netherlands have shown that an open sexual climate, comprehensive sex education and a non-judgmental attitude toward young people’s sexuality contribute to the postponement of intercourse, low rates of unintended pregnancies and the lowest level of abortion in the world. It also scores as one of the happiest countries in the world.


  • The most important thing in any person’s life is their body.  A vital part of a child’s education is to understand how its personal biological machine works and how to enjoy, protect, and take good care of it.

Children need to understand their bodies and have the resources to deal with puberty, pornography and the power of sex as part of a regular RSE programme. The age for puberty appears to be lowering[vi], and the average age of exposure to pornography is now less than 11 years old[vii].  It is our responsibility to ensure that children from a young age understand how their bodies work and what a mutually respectful, joyful, sexual relationship is – before these events occur.


Build RSE, not as an isolated programme, but holistically integrated with evolution and as part of the whole biology of body and brain. It should be normalised and not dealt with by one-off ‘specialist’ discussions.

  • Children need to understand the reasons for and the power and nature of attraction.
  • They need to understand how the forces of instinct acting on them can dominate their mind.
  • Children need to understand female menstruation and male ejaculation before they occur.
  • Children need the resources and confidence to discuss the nature and the extent of any unwanted sexual encounter, or any future desired sexual encounter.
  • They should be free of inhibitions that in the future will need screening with drink or drugs to permit them discussions within relationships or sexual activity.
  • They should acquire the resources to control their growing sexuality through empathy, consent, respect, and understand the consequences of any sexual act through critical thinking.

The poster below should be displayed in schools to normalise sexuality and RSE and assist in its demystification; it would break away from the concept of the occasional ‘sex talk.’ Open familiarity with the body would enable ongoing normal discussions on the subject.

‘OUR BRILLIANT BODIES,’ shows the common and different parts of both sexes in Irish and English. The poster also indicates associated Lessons: 1. Survival, 2. Intellect & Instinct, 3. Reproduction, 4. Why two Sexes?

(This poster arose from observing a similar, but clothed poster in a school naming body parts but not referring to any genitalia, an approach that associates these unnamed body parts with shame and embarrassment at a vital time in a child’s education.)


The poster and studies need to be enlivened by a teacher in class. Lessons which integrate evolution, biology and fun would negate the embarrassed obscurity in which this subject is often held.   (NOTE: the subject matter is vast, and under constant scientific review thus the study explanations and the BRAIN PARTS sketch are greatly simplified and abbreviated)

Lesson Plans

The objective of these lessons is that children in primary school; are helped into adulthood confident in the knowledge of their bodies and with the resources and skill sets to achieve happy and fulfilling consensual relationships. Also, that they will be prepared for the challenges of puberty and pornography. (see BRAIN PARTS sketch)


Survival is our most powerful instinct. We need food, both solid and liquid. In front of our Brain, are a mouth, nose and eyes, these are grouped specifically in this position and order to check out what we eat. A lesson on this major survival function: (fun!) Request a volunteer, a child to lie face down on the ground. Place an apple, perhaps covered, 2 meters in front. Ask the child to put its arms behind its back and with their legs bent forward from the knee and wriggle on their bellies to the apple. Their eyes will scan the food, looks OK, then their nose will smell – OK, then bite and taste – OK. The brain has used the eyes, nose mouth and taste to check out the food for consumption.

As the food passes through the machinery of the body, its energy is extracted. At the bottom of the body, the waste, both liquid and solid are dumped. If the forward moving child were to come across this deposit, it would not look or smell good – they would never get to the tasting stage. Then ask the child on the floor to crawl on hands and knees, then on its hands and feet, then stand and walk.

As well as explaining the energy gathering – survival mechanisms of most animals and fish, the child altering its forward movement from slug-like slithering to walking on two legs, would demonstrate about 500 million years of evolution.

This lesson can expand in many directions;

  • How should we care for our bodies, discuss the quality of the food we consume?
  • How the intake of food should balance with the energy, we expend.
  • Breastfeeding, why is it a good baby food, does it also build a bond with the mother and provide an inheritance of love and empathy in the child, why is breastfeeding seen so rarely?
  • Addictive foods, pleasure rush! Sugar, salt, alcohol, gambling, gaming,  drugs, smoking.
  1. Instinct & Intellect

A lesson on conflicts within the brain. Ask the children to stop breathing; this will demonstrate how the mind cannot control a powerful instinct. What part of the brain tried to stop breathing and what part ensures you breathe? Likewise, explain how the instinct of fear protects you from dangerous situations, for example – falling into water, climbing too high. What part of the brain brings fear? What part can overcome fear by thinking?

Intellect; overcomes the fear of water by learning how to swim or wearing a life jacket. It can overcome a fear of heights by learning how to navigate in the mountains or learning rope technique to overcome difficult obstacles. What part of the brain does this thinking?

  1. Reproduction

After survival, our second most powerful human instinct is to make other humans, this strong gene-based instinct emerges as puberty approaches, it brings a growing desire to interact with the opposite sex. These events will trigger concerns with body image and status amongst peers and a pervading desire to fit in and be accepted; it will also bring a curiosity to see and understand the naked human body. The nerve-based intellect and the social order attempts to control this instinctive force, a conflict that can lead to psychological distress. An understanding of this conflict  is a pathway to its solution.

Lesson; Discuss; attraction, fashion, hairstyles, clothes, makeup, status. Conflict; “I’m going to the disco”.  “NO, you are not – and certainly not dressed like that”. Biological and emotional drives and conflict brought to the surface with humour would be very beneficial. Discuss; respect, safety, consent, sexting, pornography. Discuss attraction; male-female, male-male, female-female, the high emotions, pleasure rush – dopamine, expectations and disappointments connected with first love. What part of the brain drives the sex instinct, what part might decide to use contraception?

  1. WHY two SEXES? 

Most creatures use sex to reproduce. If they reproduced themselves continuously by cloning, they would pass on parasites and mutations which would accumulate in every generation, stunting and perhaps destroying the species. Sexual reproduction provides for a healthier variation by mixing the genetic material at each mating. The human female has a fixed number of eggs – about 500 which will ovulate during her reproductive lifetime; unfertilised eggs will pass out the vagina at the end of each menstrual cycle.  From puberty, the male continuously produces millions of sperm, tiny compared to the female egg, when It fertilises a female, it determines the sex of the potential child and adds the father’s genetic information. Lesson: discuss; spontaneous male erections, wet dreams, female ovulation, periods and hygiene protection, tampons and pads, virginity, masturbation.

General; encourage class discussion and organise anonymous written questions on an ongoing basis. Children’s curiosity must be answered with honesty and openness.



Some of the notes are derived from the Relationships and Sex Education program at Cale Green Primary School, UK[viii]  endorsed by the Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted) as an example of effective RSE.[ix] Reference is also made to the UK introducing a compulsory programme in 2020, the Netherlands, the guidance document from UNESCO[x], and points arising from my life observations. REPORT FROM CALE GREEN PRIMARY SCHOOL;

Teachers and parents articulated that, although they sometimes found the content of the RSE programme challenging, they fully understood its importance and supported the scheme. They expressed the need for more RSE, information, support and guidance, particularly on talking to their sons about puberty, the changes that boys experienced, and their responsibilities.
In response to this desire for more information and guidance, the school set up a lending library of resources to help parents understand the issues their children are facing and to reinforce at home the learning which is taking place in school.

NOTE: In some other schools surveyed, the biggest difficulty in implementing the program appeared to be the unwillingness of teachers to engage with the course.

  • What the children say about RSE at Cale Green

‘If you need to ask a question, but you don’t want to say, you know you will get the answer when the teacher has thought about it.’
‘Everyone is given a chance to ask questions – even silly ones!’
‘It is still really important for boys to know what is going to happen to girls and the other way round.’
‘My mum said it was good I was learning because I needed to know all the facts for when I’m older.’
‘It would be worse to learn it at high school when things were already happening.’
‘The teacher told us about puberty factually and calmly.’
‘We were allowed to laugh but had to use the proper words which were a bit embarrassing.’

  • What the parents say about RSE at Cale Green
    ‘When we hide something from them, they become more curious.’
    ‘This meeting is good for parents to know how to start a conversation with our children.’
    ‘It’s made me think about what and when I will say to my daughter. I understand now we need to talk about this before she starts her period. It’s not enough to leave it and let her find out from her friends as I did.’
    ‘I didn’t know you talked about feelings and things. It’s good to speak of this especially for boys because they keep things to themselves.’
    ‘It’s changed my thinking. We need to talk to our children before they ask us.’
    ‘This has been good. I have learnt about how important this is when you teach my child about these things. I want to know the words I need to use now.’

The following very simplified sketch of human BRAIN PARTS is to demonstrate the evolutionary time difference and conflict between Intellect and Instinct.



[ii] https://pdst.ie/primary/RSE

[iii] https://fightthenewdrug.org/real-average-age-of-first-exposure/

[iv] http://www.loretofermoy.ie/introducing/policies/relationships-and-sexuality-education-policy/

[v] https://dutchreview.com/featured/sex-education-in-the-netherlands/

[vi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3383190/

[vii] https://www.njherald.com/20180408/kids-are-seeing-porn-sooner-than-adults-think#

[viii] http://www.calegreen.stockport.sch.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Ofsted-Good-Practice-Case-Study-Spring-2015.pdf

[ix] http://www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/resources/advice-guidance/principles-good-rse

February 8th, 2019|0 Comments


The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara Community Radio 92.4

Welcome listeners, with that wonderful intro music; Spartacus by Khachaturian – I sail again into the second airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – The Republic of Reason: continues with my ongoing and evolving quest for truth and attempts to understand empathy or the lack of it between humans and towards our planet,

This programme we will look at;

  • Problems in our garden – Our little blue planet;
  • Escaping to sea
  • Why I play so much Classical music.
  • and of course some excellent music.


Climate change; We humans have an illusion of some privileged position on our oceanic planet, that we can do what we like, that we can keep burning the carbons, that we can fly anywhere, send and receive products to any part of the globe, that our race can keep expanding by 220,000 people per day… and yes we can, we can, this generation can eat, drink and party for tomorrow we die, it will not affect us, but it may well have bad consequences for our legacy.. our descendants

Very recently on RTE radio, there was a report on a new runway verses a new Airport in Dublin, this was followed by and burst of commercial / adds/ or is it propaganda ….to get easy money and buy a new car… followed by a dramatic report on the dire consequences of climate change and a moving speech by the wonderful Richard Attenborough. Was any connection made …. did any on radio link the three items …. Not a hope.

After Attenborough’s frightening talk, I listened for the reaction ….. the stock market reports …. Did they fall, not a smidgen. The driver of economics and controller of the social order is the market, and the market only concerns itself with the market. Maybe the only saving of the planet will be, if the market can make profits.

One thing that bugs me …well many things bug me …Electric cars, me thinks we are are constantly codded about electric cars, yes a big reduction in city pollution, however a whole new generation of new cars have to be manufactured a massive expenditure of carbon, and they still need power, and while  wind energy, wave energy, solar power are all definitely worthwhile pursuing – experimenting with, but can they really replace – coal, gas, oil, ?  when you work the energy requirement figures, they are not really adding up. The only one that works …will be the dreaded nuclear power!!!!

So no matter where we turn we are facing many dilemmas. Many think the planet is huge and can contain and absorb all our waste material, gases, and dirty water. But the good news is that more and more are questioning and acting….many of the young with more of a stake in the future are beginning to think.

Each of us relates to the world in a very self-centred way. While we depend on the earths resources— and interaction with our fellow humans for survival …that is generally not how most of us think.  While the products we use link us to our fellow humans who live and work in the far reaches of the world, in China, Bangladesh, everywhere. We generally as humans do not think of links….goods just arrive in a shops.

We relate to people in a series of expanding circles of dependency, our self, expanding out to family, relations, tribe, nation, and out to all humans of the world, with the strongest ties at the centre and weakest at the periphery. Our perceptions of time, also, are self-centred. We live in the here and now, our history and memories stretch back only a few generations, looking forward only as far as our grandchildren. We depend on exploitation of the planet for our survival, we relate in what and how we take from it and we certainly take more than we give or conserve. Programmed as we are for immediate existence, we do not engage with the long-term prospect.

The attempt to secure a sustainable future for ourselves and fellow species depends on our intellectual ability to break this mould, to learn lessons from the effects of our existence on the planet and to imagine our existence into the future. Biologists examining the life cycles of various species frequently observe that exponential expansion is often followed by extinction.

The Earth’s population is now over seven billion and growing at more than 220,000 net every day, the equivalent of a city of a million people every five days, all of whom need to be fed, housed and supplied with manufactured goods. Each new person requires an acre of cultivated land to provide the food for survival, an area that increases as living standards rise, the numbers of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry escalate in unison. The space under grain, corn, wheat and rice is expanding and so are yields, but the limits of expansion in both land and yields are being reached. At the same time there are accumulative problems with water, fertiliser and carbon fossil fuels, all essential for food production. Basically, we have an infinitely expanding population and demands for economic growth in contradiction with finite resources. Previously wild species-rich environments are shrinking to allow more cultivation.

Scientific America claims we are destroying over 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest and losing 135 species every day, that is 4000 football fields per hour, I find that very hard to believe…lets say that again – Scientific America claims we are destroying over 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest and losing 135 species every day, that is 4000 football fields per hour. Don’t believe me – look it up .

What a huge loss humanity will suffer if, we destroy something like the Amazon rainforest with its thousands of diverse species and only preserve disjointed bits in zoos and arboretums. The recent election of right-wing candid – Jair Bolsonaro indicates that things are about to get a whole lot worse for the Amazon.

Some contend that the Earth can only support two billion people on a sustainable basis. Others argue that advancing technology and slowing population growth may turn the tide. Population expansion occurs on two fronts – the actual growth in numbers and increasing longevity. The impact of expansion is not just in the numbers, but in the growth of consumption as living standards rise, this will have a particular impact in the high-population countries of India, China and others as they seek parity of wealth with the first world.

For example, private motor car ownership in China is 50 vehicles for every thousand people, (1000) while the world average is 120 and in the United States it is 740. If China were to achieve the same number of cars per head as the United States, the country would have to pave an area equal to the land it now plants in rice and would need 99 million barrels of oil a day. The entire world currently produces 89 million barrels per day and may never produce much more.

Reproduction, our second most powerful instinct, is regarded as a world apart from economics or the environment, an untouchable facet of our being. But the gene that drives reproduction is blind; it has a selfish, laissez-faire attitude, its only slogan is ‘the more survival machines (humans) the merrier’. It does not see or care where it is going. The only reason for production and economics is to supply the necessary food and energy for the survival of these human replicators. The present competitive, market mechanisms of industrial production are the same as that of the gene. Both are driven by inherent and similar blind forces, their motivation is growth, neither recognise the limitations of expansion and the finite resources of our planet. Only by the application of science and a philosophical approach to controlling the instincts of the gene can humans exert control over their fertility. Likewise it is only through science and a philosophy of sustainability can humans exert control over production and economics. Thankfully, some of the gene’s more rational survival machines, are attempting to do just that. The inherent blindness of reproduction and present-day economics are capable of being rolled back by logic and advancing technology. Politically this requires groups of people that can agree on a clear agenda for survival, who can influence and change the political and economic structures.

For example, a broad-based movement gaining ground in the USA – Defining a transformative Green New Deal (NOT MY WORDS) and I quote

The Green New Deal, as a tool to address climate change and economic insecurity, could be transformative in many ways or it could reinforce current systems. Our political system is inclined towards programs that do the latter, so it is critical that the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice and peace is clear about what we mean by a Green New Deal.

At the heart of the issue is capitalism, a root cause of many of the crises we face today. Capitalism drives growth at all costs including exploitation of people and the planet. It drives competition and individualism instead of cooperation and community. It requires militarism as the strong arm for corporations to pillage other countries for their resources and militarised police to suppress dissent at home.

Capitalism was in crisis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when, like today, there was great inequality and a political system that catered to the wealthy. Progressive, populist, labour and socialist movements were pressing for significant changes. This came to a head in the depression when tens of thousands of Bonus Marchers occupied Washington DC during the summer of the 1932 presidential election demanding their bonus pay from World War I. The newly-elected President Roosevelt was forced to act, so he put reforms in place called the New Deal.

While the New Deal brought relief to many people through banking reform, Social Security, jobs programs and greater rights for workers, it was not transformative. Some argue that the New Deal was essential to save capitalism. It relieved suffering enough that dissent quieted but left the capitalist economic system intact. In the decades since the New Deal, monopolisation, inequality, and exploitation have again increased with the added crises of climate change and environmental destruction.

This time around, we need a broad Green New Deal that changes the system so there is greater public ownership and democratisation of the economy. It can also be used to address theft of wealth from Indigenous, black and brown communities. And it can set us on a path to end US imperialism in the least harmful manner. END QUOTE.  So hopefully some progressive shifts are underway.


And here is some who was trying to cry halt to this madness some time ago Go Joni Go—— minutes 2.15

MUSIC- what music can one play after that —yes of course; Joni Mitchel ‘They paved paradise’   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94bdMSCdw20


While natural selection still applies in the wild, it does not apply in domestic species and plants. These are refashioned to be more useful to us through selective breeding and genetic engineering. Evolution, as it once applied to humans at the raw level of prey verses predator, whilst still proceeding under the rules of sexual selection, has also been usurped by science and medicine. Humanity and its domestic dependants have become a distinct group, separate from the wider wild world, all under the erratic human intellect.

Farming in Ireland is now supported by substantial subsidies; these can be up to 80% on beef farms in many cases the subsidy exceeds the market income. The Irish State and the European Community maintain these subsidies for social, political and strategic reasons that stretch back to food shortages during the war. It ensures a steady supply of cheap food and provides the authorities with some leverage to encourage sustainable land use, water quality and habitat management. It is interesting that while the farming community at present might be regarded or regard themselves as a bastion of conservative social and economic values, they are in fact involved in a vast taxpayer-funded social enterprise to maintain a life-style with some environmental considerations.

There is growing pressure by free marketeers to remove all such supports allowing the amalgamation of farms to a more viable size through commercial pressure.  A move that would also encourage deregulation and a more laisse fare approach to the environment. Either way, pressure will continue to expand the size of farms, for thousands of cattle in conveyor-fed rows, supplied by mile-long fodder fields, such industrial farms without ditch or hedge are more viable. That of course depends on the environment – not been taken into consideration.

Another issue is the concentration of stock makes the herd more susceptible to a disease requiring intensification of monitoring and antibiotic inoculations which creep into the food chain. Their waste, both on pasture or in wintering sheds, can result in severe problems with groundwater. The world’s 1.5 billion cattle are responsible for up to 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, more than cars, aircraft and all other forms of transport. Their stomach gasses and manure emit more than one third of emissions of methane gas, which has an affect 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. ( I did not have time to read and comment on to-days report on meat eating in the Lancet magazine- wow… that sounds like a bit of a hit)

Biologically one cannot extract nutrition from grassland at present intensities without intensive fertilisation.  Despite these problems and the fact that we are stretching the limits of production, the world continues to produce enough food to feed its people for many years. However, the gap between food production and consumption by its seven billion consumers is becoming smaller and more fragile. While we can produce the quantity required, we do not have an equality of distribution, for as with the potato famine in Ireland, many countries whose people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, export food. Food and nutrition are not perceived as a right, but as a free-market commodity. Food is a political and economic question.

Globalisation and the neoliberal agenda allow that the entire Earth to be exploited with all its resources of land, forests, hunting and fishing grounds. All that matters objectively to investors are crop, stock and fodder. All else is pest, – whether it be bird, plant or parasite – to be controlled by gun, machine or pesticide and this intensifies as we move from small holding to industrial farming.

Conservationists act to hold back the relentless tide of arable land expansion and preserve wilderness, a position difficult to defend coherently while poverty and hunger are sold as alternatives. How can one attempt to stop desperate farmers from burning rainforest and creating arable land, which is precisely what we the inhabitants of Western Europe and Ireland did?.  Only a coordinated international response, offering paid guardianship of the forests to the farmers would work, but in a world of competition and corporate interests, co-ordinated international responses are not easy to come by.

Let’s look at China for a moment;  when the government saw that the population was rising faster than resources they made a large-scale intervention  with the regulation of family size. Couples were encouraged by cash, housing incentives and penalties to comply with the ‘one family – one child’ policy. Its implementation had anomalies, it not apply in Tibet or to some ethnic minorities, in rural areas it allowed another child if the first was female. Despite its many problems the majority of people in China support the policy. Its contribution to population reduction to-date is in the order of 350 million, which is more than the population of the United States.

However, with the policy in operation, the population still grew over the period, doubling from circa .65 to 1.38 billion. This was due to the increase in average lifespan which had risen from 44 to 75 years since the revolution. The policy had unintended consequences such as a preponderance of 120 males to 100 females, for despite being illegal, there is or was a higher abortion rate on girls, a tendency that may self-correct, for a daughter has now a higher chance of finding a partner and is a better bet for ensuring the continuation of the family genes. Another consequence of the policy is that parents with one child concentrate their resources into his or her education and many of these children go on to reach third level. When these children in turn form a family, they are allowed two children and having been high achievers themselves, will insist on similar for their own children, leading to accelerated educational gains throughout the state.

The policy is now being relaxed, as the increased level of wealth and education, particularly of women, is now the main element that regulates family size. A paradox  for the environment is that as income and educational growth are determining factors in slowing the population growth, they will be the same factors that increase consumption. For example, the dwelling space for each inhabitant in China has grown almost three-fold over the period. Looking at the problem through climatic rather than humanist eyes, it is a win some, lose some situation. If the vast populations of the north Pacific Rim reach the standards of education required to reduce population growth, they will seek a standard of living familiar in the west and prolong their longevity, thus increasing the demands on resources and climate. This is the first time such numbers will combine the dual pressures of population and economic growth. Humanity is caught in ‘the red queen effect’. The faster we run, the faster we need to run, just to stand still. The developed countries of Europe and the United States where conspicuous consumerism is rampant, are in no position to lecture against other people attempting to achieve similar standards of living. One way or another by the end of this century ten billion people are expected to live on the planet.

Lessons for humanity may be found where the remnants of once-magnificent civilisations lie, with cities crumbling back into the dust. The poet Shelley in his Ozymandias tells of a once proud and splendid settlement fit for a king of kings, who proclaimed his great and everlasting works: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” But now, nothing beside remains: round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away. Who, we might ask, in their right minds would have built a city here? What could possibly have brought people to settle on such a desert location?

But imagine a time of a green and bountiful forest, populated by game and fowl and watered by bubbling spring and brook – a paradise, perfect for settlement. A clearance is made and the timber is used for construction and fuel. The game is hunted and the bountiful land is cleared for farming, life is good. The city, its people and its rulers grow in power and stature. Every day however, the trek to get timber from the forest increases; every day the game gets a little scarcer; every day the tilled soil gets a little more depleted. The rains, which were held in the sponge that was the forest and shielded from evaporation by the dense vegetation, now evaporate quickly in the thin soil which starts to blow away.

As prosperity crumbles, the once powerful army, fed on a plentiful surplus, now succumbs to poverty and like the city, capitulates before any predatory force. The once bountiful and fragile land blows into desert dunes, awaiting the return of a wetter cooler climate to re-establish a delicate foothold. This scenario is, best captured in Jared Diamond’s book ‘Collapse’. The book describes various civilisations, such as the Fertile Crescent formerly Mesopotamia now part of Iraq, a foundation of civilisation, once a paradise of wooded valleys, abundant water, game, grazing and with sufficient resources to build a great civilisation. But relentlessly the forests were cut down, the land over grazed and the waters squandered. Some environmentalists would argue that the militarised states of the Greek and Roman civilisations required huge timber, agricultural, water and fishing resources to maintain their cities and were destroyed, not just by the fortunes of war and ambitious over-stretched armies, but by depleted land and ravaged forest.  Has any such human destruction ever come to our land…..travel no further than a few mile to the west and see the Burren.

Imagine a time of a green and bountiful forest, populated by game and fowl and watered by bubbling spring – a paradise, perfect for settlement. A clearance is made and the timber is used for construction and fuel. The game is hunted and the bountiful land is cleared for farming, life is good. The sea is close for shell and swimming fish.  Every day however, the trek to get timber from the forest increases; every day the game gets a little scarcer; every day the tilled soil gets a little more depleted. The rains, which were held in the sponge that was the forest and shielded by the vegetation from movement, now wash down into the valleys below. Thus, the life and people who lived on the hills follow the soil to the valley. The only direction that one can look in the Burren that is not the result of human interference, is to stand on its seaward cliffs and look out to sea.

Speaking of the sea is a good time to lighten the tone of this programme and take ourselves out to sea…. a need for a spiritual enrichment, a contemplative mindfulness that leads my wife and I out into the restless waters of the Atlantic, and beyond.

The modern jet powered air liner is no doubt a miracle of science and engineering, epitomising the genius of our species in defying gravity and by cruising at 480 knots, it shrinks the planet.  Many have suggested to us sailors that it just might be a better way to get around.  It can cover over 11,000 Nautical miles in 24 hours; we get excited on our sailing boat Pylades if we can cover 150 Nautical miles in the same period.

But for some obtuse reason a small body of our species, chose to engage with this very contrary method of travel. We go to sea in small boats, an activity we carry out in a rather reclusive fashion.  Our best goals are scored, unobserved, far offshore, in darkness reefing sails and riding some squall ripped sea.  Our best points are scored arriving in a marina with half a gale blowing, cross currents, no one in sight surrounded by shinny brand new show boats and you think that maybe your insurance has run out.

Leaving the protection of Parkmore Kinvara and beating 22 miles out to the Aran Islands from these eastern reaches of Galway Bay against a stiff head wind, and is always seems to be a stiff head wind can consume about 7 hours of one’s life. But sure, as you slide past Straw Island light in a soggy state the thoughts of the first pint in Tig Joe Mac, warms the very inner self and so it comes to pass that as the pints kick in, the dreamer within us emerges, a longing for out of the way places, the talk, becomes, big talk, the impossible becomes possible.  The plans and the horizons expand.

Thus, time unfolds, and we find ourselves far far out on the back of a vast surging ocean entering a dream world, a dream world of boundless horizons. In daylight we scan the sky for those the elusive, small, white puffy clouds that might indicate the trades.  At night we are transfixed with the shifting rhythms that play on sea and sail, our furrowing of the deep disturbs a billion luminescent swimmers…. who stream away from the stern in sheets of fading phosphorescence?

Through brilliant star fields we stare out to the far constellation of Andromeda, back through two and a half million years of time, thinking deep and no doubt, very profound thoughts.  We can then see not just us but the earth itself as a very small stage, a lonely speck in this vast cosmic arena. Debris hurtles in from the ether streaking green across the night sky, the flash of a falling star.

On gale filled nights when all is obscured by dark low scudding rack.  Visibility is slashed by sheets of rain, we can barely see the glow of our own masthead light and we doubt very much if anybody else can.

Squall lines which show their presence by day can now sneak up on us undetected, laying us over in spray furies while we skirmish with reefing lines.  Frustration visits when confused seas overcome a failing wind throwing the rig and slating sails with a ghastly, rolling, twisting motion.   This is all part of how we travel.

Time is counted by the waxing and waning of the moon, the passing of fronts, the occasional sighting of a ships lantern.  But most of all by coming and going of our own giant nuclear furnace the sun, oft in blazing colour and the odd green flash as the slow spinning sphere creates its measure of day and its own shadow of night.

The rhythm of the voyage rolls on in splendour like a Beethoven symphony for days and indeed weeks.  Then a faint flashing light or smudge becomes apparent on the horizon and despite all our new found gadgetry and surety with navigation a call of the watch might well be raised as it has been for generations, LAND AHOY!.   And so whither that land be our own Fair Isle or ones first south sea island of French Polynesia, our hearts race with exhilaration and anticipation.

But still, we search our minds for the meaning of it all.  What is the climax?  Is it the planning?  Is it the beginning?  Is it the arrival?  Is it the sailing or is it the voyage itself? But whichever it is, deep within our being….. We know ….WHY we travel ….THUS.

Why is there romance in – and why does my heart pound at the words, the Hebrides this brings me back to one of my first adventures into the – The Sea of The Hebrides.

Music; Fingal cave and the Sea of the Hebrides.        3.47min

That was Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘The Hebrides’ written after his visit there in 1829 he captured the wild and sombre atmosphere of the sea in a musical landscape.


How can we get action on climate change? Scientists are screaming from the rooftops that climate change isn’t just a bit of warming and some storms. There has to be an alignment if interests between the forces that drive production, the mass of people and the environment.

People who dwell in cities lose knowledge of food production realities, their perception is that goods and food just arrive in supermarket shelves. This results in a diminished responsibility for any damaging interaction between food production and the natural world. There are no famines in this world of plenty; cost is the only criteria with copious consumption driven by blanket marketing. The cities, worldwide, united by logos and brands become indistinguishable, blending into a superglobal organism. There are no divisions in the world of consumption, no nationalism, no sectarianism, no racism, no sexism. This is a dichotomy for a while the philosophical interests of capital does everything to maintain its power with divisions and diversions, its commercial agenda wishes for the United consumer. There are of course sections of the so-called third world where there is little to consume and where people dream of our western abundance.

Despite humanity’s record on the environment, we can be intelligent social mammals with the potential to negate our impact. A need for regulation might be boosted by a growing realisation that there may not be any choice.

The macro problem can only be tackled on an international basis and as solutions impinge on the dominant force – capital. Humanity do not have any effective worldwide organisation to regulate such a powerful force, the UN has been bought off by capital.  But never the less worldwide international forums are now more than ever required – just at a time when they are most under threat, the EU, the UN and in the Americas, But until these conglomerates are philosophically committed to serving the interests of the people. It will not happen until we the people force an alignment of interests between government and people. This, of course, entails an extension of democracy over economics, in the race that pits demands for reform and regulation against the destruction wrought by CAPITAL,— capital is winning hands down.

We now throw vast quantities of carbon dioxide, previously buried, back into the atmosphere at speeds faster than can be absorbed by nature. If any industrial power agreed to reduce its use of this energy, it would give a trading advantage to its rivals. Any governments trying to mitigate carbon use, by the introduction of carbon taxes, face a hostile reception from an electorate whose short term standard of living would fall, they would be voted out of office by parties promising the abolition of such taxes and lower fuel prices. The media which is instrumental in any electoral process is owned and controlled by the very forces that require to be contained. The issue will be and is clouded with obscuring data.

Selling of short-term gains for political advantage is a major impediment to progress on that front. Perhaps a more dictatorial approach issuing top-down decrees might achieve more, but historically such regimes have always aligned on the side of capital, with the top echelons benefiting from even greater levels of exploitation. International attempts to get agreements are constantly thwarted by corporate lobbying or avoidance. Once a regulation is in place, be it a tax or environmental law, the first incentive of the corporate board, its legal and economic advisors, is how to mitigate or circumvent that law. This will continue until catastrophic climate events or an army of angry environmentalists bang so loudly on the door that they can no longer be ignored.

Green energy solutions offer many false dawns. Images of giant wind turbines on a beautiful mountain landscape promising a clean bright future can be deceitful.  While all alternative energy sources must be fully explored, it should be ensured that any cost-benefit analysis includes: the carbon cost of manufacture; transport and erection; reduction of visual and habitat amenity; down time for maintenance; percentage time of windless conditions with back-up power plant. life and replacement time of the installation; removal of all plant, recycling, and reinstatement of the site. It is essential that any government authority ensures that the operator is bonded to cover the removal of installations and the reinstatement of the site in the case of liquidation. Most cases of ‘alternative energy’ looked at to-date fail on many of these counts.

While events at Chernobyl do not engender any great affection or complacency but nuclear power is still an option. France with over 90% of its electricity emanating from nuclear or hydropower claims energy independence. It has fairly lowcost electricity with an extremely low level of CO2 emissions per capita. The message is that, as yet, there are no miracle, alternative energy systems. Energy optimists predict a major technological break-through in power generation and they may be right. One must be aware of the following statements of W. Thompson, first Lord Kelvin, an eminent man of letters and science. He declared the following facts to be true:, ‘the world is far too young to have allowed for evolution, radio has no future, x-rays are a hoax and heavier than air flying machines will never be possible’. Perhaps new technologies of nuclear fission and hydrogen-fuelled engines are around the corner, and that humanity’s ingenuity will triumph and discover everlasting clean energy.

Energy saving is an easier route to travel and good progress is being made. Engines of all kinds have become far more efficient and the insulation of buildings against heat loss has improved dramatically. We might even overcome our fear of the dark and our need to light every street and motorway.  but we are again at the ‘red queen effect’. The faster innovation and efficiency rises, the more population and economic growth negate our efforts.

Perhaps one can be overly pessimistic, but the growth of consumption and the concentration of wealth can lead to startling conclusions. The top ten per cent who own and control the vast bulk of wealth have the most power and influence. They are the forces directing and gaining the most from production, consumption and expansion, but will suffer the least from environmental degradation. The rich and poor will not suffer equally, for the wealthy have the resources to relocate where the impact is least and will continue to afford the benefits of energy long after it becomes unaffordable by the majority.

To tackle global problems, a global unity is required. Science-fiction writers were correct when they implied that mankind would unite against an external threat such as an invasion of aliens from space. But the enemy is already here, knocking loudly on the door and so far the sound is being drowned by the clamour of the individual, national and corporate self-interest and hymns of delusion. The enemy at the door is a troika of population growth, resource depletion and climate change.


Speaking of climate change and grim reapers knocking at the door  None sounds better than the first movement with the Fate knocking at the door, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony…… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRgXUFnfKIY 2.15 min


I have been often asked why do I almost exclusively play and listen to classical music; Having been privileged to spend three years studying architecture in the Cork School of Art at that time I lived at home in Cork,  the final two years were in Dublin. I and many other rented a flat in 12 North Gt. Georges street, I think for about £4.00 a week…it may have gone up since—- There were three of us lads sharing one flat with fabulous big windows overlooking the street., there was no TV, but there was a record player,  I had no music, but one of my fellow students had a collection of Tom Jones, and the other had a collection of classical records.

I quickly grew to hate Tom Jones – not personally you understand- but his music with a passion. But I became totally and irrevocably smitten by the world of classical music. It was 1969 and  to this day I remain grateful for that to the boundless world of joy and imagination…… However, it did leave me with unfortunate inability to tolerate ..most of commercial pop. I became a cranky musical snob…. It has had interesting consequences in that over the years as people dumped their LP record collections …they bequeath them to me, and I now have a nice little collection. I have a reasonable manual vinyl player and when working – writing or other – I listen a great deal to these amazing spinning repositories of music, they also force me to get off my ass every 20 minutes or so – to turn the LP, what strenuous exercise. Well it all helps. Also, when children call, that is anyone under 45 they are amazed at these large vinyl discs spinning about making noise, somehow their clicks and scratches enhance the memories. There are my lifeline to the great art of fine music, this most wonderful creation of humanity.

Back to sailing for a moment; during our circumnavigation on our way to the Panama Canal, we anchored in Cartagena. On the evening before we left that glorious city, we went to the main square in front of the Cathedral, as dusk fell, thousands had gathered to join a full choir and orchestra for a magnificent tearful concert. – we will play out with — Mozart Requiem;

Mozart Requiem  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78KtEjdAszw


February 2nd, 2019|0 Comments

Radio Talk 2

Radio Talk 2

February 2nd, 2019|0 Comments

Radio Show Script 1; for Kinvara Community Radio 92.4FM


The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara Community Radio 92.4

Welcome listeners, with that wonderful tune; Spartacus by Khachaturian – I sail into the first airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

The Republic of Reason: reflects my ongoing and evolving quest for truth and my attempt to understand empathy or the lack of it between humans and towards our planet.  This programme can be no more than a thought-provoking romp through;

  • How I came to questioning,
  • The beginnings of human conscientiousness,
  • Exploitative society,
  • A book review – Capital in the 21st century by Thomas Piketty
  • and of course some excellent music.

Early in my life, for some reason, I always felt compelled to step outside my comfort zone exploring and questioning every thing and every belief; This is my story of beliefs lost and found.  I distrust certainty and look at it with sceptical eyes and from different perspectives: I crave for answers to fundamental questions. Questions, such as: where did we came from? Why are we here? Where are we going?  And how are we treating this wonderful planet, this could be paradise, our Blue Dot spinning around our personal nuclear furnace …the sun?

The Republic of Reason: springs from a perception of poverty. While there are far too many instances of needless physical and material poverty in this world of plenty, the poverty I speak of in this instance is; A Poverty Of Philosophy: a dreadful epidemic of poor, ill thought out, or contradictory viewpoints. A lack of critical thinking.  However, we must remember that most ideas are relative, an idea or action which can brilliantly serve the interests of one person or group can bring harm and havoc to another.

To some, this pursuit of reason might seem like a dreary chase; I do not see it that way. I find exploring the complexities of the world, life and the mind of humanity, most satisfying.  Well then! After all this time! Do I have all the answers? Most certainly not.  Perhaps I did when I was Twenty One but since then its downhill all the way.

I was born in Cork in 1946 into a warm Catholic family; an early memory was being brought by my mother to the local School, where, as my mother and the principle were talking, I slipped off home, there was some fuss as they searched for me. Perhaps I foresaw that my period in schools would not be a joyful.

During my early years in Cork, there was an outbreak of polio, which proved fortuitous to me, if definitely not for those affected. To get away from the epidemic I was sent to stay with relations on a farm in Mournabbey Co.Cork. A place as happy and free, as the school; was stultifying and confining. On this mixed farm of cattle and cows, dogs and sheep, pigs, geese and horses, I learned so many real and practical things, such as; If you want something – make it, if something breaks= fix it.

You could swim naked and fish in the river, tackle horses and drive tractors – all unsupervised. Two wise uncles of few words guided me, as youths during the war of Independence they had shot and dodged imperial soldiery while raiding local police stations. I started to think and question.

The first intellectual confrontation I remember concerned – of all things …baptism. I could not accept that a newly born baby could be guilty of some sin which needed to be washed away. I bombarded my unfortunate parents with questions, They, unable to provide satisfactory answers sent me off to talk with priests.

This did not improve the situation; Even at the age of twelve, I found their answers to be vague and wishy-washy, I felt they were trying to lose me by searching for words, words I could not understand. At one stage during a convoluted discussion which included a definition of sainthood. I came up with the logical summation that if I shot a load of newly baptised babies, they would all go straight to heaven, whereas the logic went that If I let them live they might all sin during their lives and go to hell. I too, the killer, would be assured a place in heaven, as now, in saint definition terms I had guaranteed a place there for so many little souls. O Dear, O Dear the trouble we can get ourselves into when we stray from science  and   reason.

Nevertheless, I went on to be an altar boy and learned most of the mass in Latin.  But my progress through a Catholic upbringing; was to say the least – erratic. There was a constant lurking alter ego whispering questions in my ear; perhaps it was the devil. I realised eventually that any real challenging logic and critical thinking by humans had throughout the ages been classified as the devil’s work. Examples of critical thinkers, of which there were thousands, would range from Socrates – to Copernicus – to Dawkins.

In my late teens I came up with the toilet roll analogy– think of each sheet of paper as part of my inherited beliefs, religious, political, economic, I examined each one, and if they did not stand up to rational scrutiny, they were discarded. In time I was left with a hollow cardboard tube – when I looked through it was empty. My belief systems were running on almost empty, I was scared. Nihilism abounded. I tried to lose myself in the interests of the world such as sport, rugby, football, hurling and the hundreds of other diversions I might involve myself. None grabbed my mind and soul except walking the mountains or paddling the rivers… or girls, but that is instinctive, and that is another story.

Having been a very average student, I struggled through the horrors of primary and secondary training – there were, of course, a few teachers who’s bright enlightenment was the exception. They shone even brighter due to the general surrounding darkness. Then through a series of chances, I managed to get into the Cork School Of Art to study Architecture, it was like stepping into heaven, I loved it, I thrived, I could think in four dimensions and express myself ..perhaps for the first time.

During that period, I went to London every summer for about three months to work and  help with my upkeep and fees to, assist my parents somewhat. London was very good to me in so many ways, a city, bursting with life, love, intellectual freedom, good people and great memories, a city I still love and enjoy.

As a very earnest architectural student, I prowled the city with pencil and pad sketching up details and images of structure. One faithful day I found myself sitting in a small Christopher Wren designed church, through the haze of time I can not recall its name, but it had a balcony with a magnificent organ. As I sat there alone in this very quiet contemplative space, thinking no doubt great philosophical and architectural thoughts, I heard a slight rustling of papers from somebody unseen in the overhead balcony. Then suddenly with a crash, the space exploded with the sound of a mighty organ. I was transfixed.

(2min) MUSIC burst. Toccata and fuge by JS Bach

As I emersed myself in the music It became a moment of transformation and clarity. Everything began to make sense. The stone for the church had been quarried, carried and laid in place by hundreds of skilled workers and artisans. Likewise, the beautifully detailed timbers had been felled, sawn and crafted into countless elegant carvings, pieces of furniture and structure. The architect had drawn the plans and details, countless others in workshops and on-site had assembled the myriad of materials into the elegant building in which I was now seated.

Likewise, someone had designed, and others built the magnificent organ. I found out in due course that the music that crashed over my head was The Toccata and Fugue composed by Johan Sabastian Bach, he had written down this amazing music, this was now being read and played by my unknown and unseen musician in the balcony overhead. With deep emotion I let the sound play out.

As I slowly left the building I relooked at the city of London and indeed the world, I realised that all I saw and heard had been produced by the genius of collective humanity, and I was extremely proud to find myself now part of that. My species had produced everything; I had a philosophical ownership of everything ….. but it came with a large price…. Responsibility, yes the onerous burden of responsibility.

We need some soft music to celebrate this awakening………….. Morning Mood —by the Norwegian composer Edwerd Grieg written in 1875.

This is The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM your Local Community Radio. Please email with any comments positve or negitive at;   kinvarafm@gmail.com (kinvara with one R)


I ended the last part of the programme with responsibility…Responsibility needs  –  consciousness , let us plunge – briefly- very briefly – into the birth of human consciousnes. I will presume that my listeners are well past debates on evolution Vs creation. I liken that to engaging with a flat earth proposals; so we won’t go there. There is a livelier and more challenging discussion by engaging with the rise of human consciousness and some key questions;

How can we humans be so kind and caring, and or why can we be so cruel and violent?

  1. Are we born with savage animal instincts which require control by law and religion?


2, Are we born with loving and caring instincts which are changed for the worse or corrupted by our social structures?

If the answer is 2…. Then we humans have the potential to create a more contented society and one which would care for the planet ….. by altering the social structures.

These questions and contradictions forge our intellect and social order. I begin on the premise that we all strive for survival, for peace, for happiness and contentment, for paradise, in this life – or the next!

When the word paradise and hope raise their heads, we never associate them with things, with possessions, with work or even money, When we lie on our deathbed, we never look back and wish that we had accumulated more things or had spent more time a work.  ….. Our dominant wish and theme always appears to be; some social achievement or Love;

We long for love; Almost all our songs are about love, love lost, love gained, the quest for love – in poetry, music, and religion is relentless, it reflects the core of what we as humans are. While survival and replication are our two most powerful instincts, love and caring are the underlying themes, to love and be loved is the mainspring of happiness, it is——a unifying self-less-ness which we struggle to explain.

After the big bang; a chaotic universe organised itself into stars, planets and galaxies. On earth, combinations of chance, environment and natural selection integrated atoms into molecules, elements into organisms and multicellular organisms evolved eventually into humans.  The continuous formation of material, social and intellectual life into more complex forms, provides a purpose and meaning to life. It implies that in the formation of larger entities, the welfare of the compound unit, is considered above that of its parts.

Understanding this may give us the hope that the present chaotic and contradictory nature of our human existence may be resolved by a natural movement towards the welfare of the compound unit …humanity and its planet.

We have evolved an intellect that enables us to comprehend our past, present and perhaps secure OR destroy our future; we can (with at times some doubt) claim to be the most advanced animal form. We are the only species to have this consciousness and the only beings able to understand the relevance of our existence within the evolutionary train of chemistry, biology, intelligence, culture and technology.  This knowledge can make or break us.

Our DNA links us to primates such as bonobos our ape ancestors 12 to 4 million years ago, creatures motivated solely by instinct. When brain power evolved, we became human.  This gradual change occurred over a very long time; there was never the last primate or a first human. As our intellect developed, it brought awareness and delight, we saw the beauty of life on earth and began to comprehend its origins and complexity.  However, it also meant that we could for the first time understood our mortality.

It is vital to understand that all our conscious thoughts, including what we would refer to as our spiritual side have a physical material basis in chemistry and the microscopic details of neurones. Our understanding of the human brain is growing rapidly. The intellect is all-embracing,  striving to comprehend everything from the cosmos and all its workings to the creation of art and music. It is very hard for many to accept and a bit scary that our most ethereal emotions such as love or the appreciation of music dwell within the remit of such ‘mere’ chemistry.

The fact that everything is material and that the machinations of the mind spring from material foundations, place all ideas, feelings and love within the realms of science. For the first time, we can begin to grapple with our minds and spiritual feelings on a rational basis. We are in a position to scientifically understand and measure human emotions, love and the longing for love, the origins and strength of religious beliefs, and the longing for paradise. We can uncover what lies in our ancient instincts. We can explore these instincts, embedded in our physic and discover if they host the ‘voice’ of our conscience, a sense which – when now linked with our intellect offers the clearest definition of humanity and its morality

The human brain, our repository of memory and creativity remains one of the most incredible mysteries of nature. Imaging studies have recently shown its general organisation and how different regions of the brain react to and regulate certain tasks. This knowledge combines with the world of paleo-an-thropology [science of hominid fossil] and links the development of these various sections of the brain to stages of our evolution.

This following interpretation of the brain is very simplified, an approximation by a non-expert in the field.

  • Reptilian area, which evolved to support multi-cell structures as they moved from plant to animal life form. It tends to be rigid, compulsive, repeating the same behaviours, it controls muscles, balance breathing, heartbeat, and replication.
  • The middle brain’ seeks the avoidance of pain and the repetition of pleasure, associated with social bonding and nurturing, Formed during the late period of our primate ancestors, within a matriarchal period of society.
  • Finally, the ‘newly’ evolved neocortex, a cluster of brain structures concerning itself with reason, invention, planning and abstract thought. This evolved only about 200,000 years ago.

These areas of the mind originated at different stages of evolution, they resemble three interconnected biological computers, each echoing the function and time of their development, but mainly interact.

The interaction and at times conflict between these brain sections are a fundamental aspect of the human condition. These three stages of growth by our evolving species are mirrored within each of us as we develop from a child to adult.

Animals such as we were, are creatures mainly of instinct, Instincts which drove our survival and replication. The instincts in the ‘older’ section of our brain are a legacy which still act within us.  Until recently, the dominant belief was that we had inherited ‘savage animal instincts’ which needed control by the laws of society or the regulations of Gods.

However, evidence now indicates that we evolved from a caring and social primate comparable to the present-day Bonobos. Such a precursor developed due to a set of fortunate circumstance; they had a vegetarian diet with little or no competition for resources, no visual predators and no dominant fighting males. They had a surplus of vegetarian and fruit food.  In comparison with other animals, Bonobos spend a very long time nurturing and training their young. This extended care and nurturing occurring as it did over a long evolutionary period was the foundations of our instincts.

Fossil discoveries of the period show evidence that the ability to walk upright would have been a factor in a long love-indoctrination process, one which would have occurred while our ancestors were inhabiting ideal nursery conditions. The discovery of small canine teeth in early hominid fossils is crucial. It indicates a general lack of aggression within the group; it also points to unique attributes within the social structures. Male competition for mating is common within many species. Such competition would be indicated by a heavier build and pronounced fighting teeth; this does not appear to be the case.

Canine teeth reduction could be enhanced by female sexual selection to mate with non-aggressive, more cooperative males who would play a role in a social order focused on the welfare of infants. These fundamental indicators appear in our ancestors before they had enlarged brains and began the use of tools.  Present day observation of existing bonobos supports this evidence from the past. These, our closest living relatives, are seen to be nurturing, peaceful and matriarchal.

While genetic traits have to be ‘selfish’ to survive, from the infant’s perspective, long-term nurturing appears unselfish. The mother provides her offspring with food, warmth, shelter and protection for apparently nothing in return. A child immersed in such prolonged infancy and unselfish love will be indoctrinated with that ethos and grow up behaving accordingly. Such conditions lasting millions of years through the formation of our species would entrench these instincts for sociability, cooperation, sharing and love.

The transition of an aminal motivated by loving caring instinct into a thinking conscious human who began to negate these caring and loving ways – is seen In Biblical analogies as a loss of innocence by the gaining of knowledge, this was the fall, the taking of the forbidden fruit. A storey may be, but the conflict between the old instinct and the new intellect resonates deeply within the human psyche.

The emergence of the human intellect brought profound change. The cognisant human is aware, it can plan, it can see cause and effect,  it has the sense of “I am”, the realis

ation and fear, of death. Where previously, our species had instinctively cooperated in gathering food, the evolved human could now intellectually collaborate. It was a great leap forward, leading to the emergence of agriculture. Organised agriculture was a far more efficient way of food production; this led in turn to a stored food surplus. 

The following piece of music; The ride of the Valkyries by Wagner perhaps signals the conflicts ahead……


This is The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM your local community radio. I would be delighted with any response to the show positive or negative, Contact me by email; kinvarafm@gmail.com (Kinvara with one R)

PART 3    935 words ( 7.24 min)

Back to food surplus…. This food surplus and the land that produced it became the first wealth which required guarding against other groups still engaged in hunting-gathering or animal predation. The guardians eventually developed into a full-time army with leadership that in due course claimed ownership of the surplus and the land that produced it; private property was born.

The element required to clear the ground, work the land and create the surplus was labour. The surplus was Capital, a value created by workers. Stored grain was akin to stored labour, a tradeable commodity. Wealth and an exploitative society were born. These developments did bring two changes to the human species as a whole;  I. the overall productivity increased,  and 2. for the first time it permitted an upper class to exist, this upper-class was liberated from work, this allowed the pursuit of knowledge and ultimately the emergence of science. But it came with a price; it required the labour, and the bondage of the majority.

The rise of an exploitative social order marked the rise of military patriarchial leadership and the fall of the matriarchal society. This Military /King class felt it essential to pass the benefits of their ownership and conquests to their heirs; they had to know that their assumed sons and daughters were actually theirs, and theirs alone. This in turn required the privatisation, ownership and control of the female. Thus was introduced, the institution of marriage.

Henceforth, the economic and social order would be patriarchal, motivated by competitive greed and wealth would spring from the exploitation of human labour, nature and resources. The ruling status quo established the state to enforce and protect this new situation by carrots food and shelter and stick – punishment, imprisonment and execution.

AS I said, this order allowed the rise of a class that could devote time to the development of mathematics, art, literature, science, law. However, human intelligence and curiosity constantly stimulated questions that science was not at that stage able to explain; thunder, lightning, rain, sun, moon, birth and death. Humans gathering around their castles and campfires filled this void of knowledge by creating answers with stories. Stories were eventually personalised by the creation of Gods; these gods and fear helped the creation and imposition of rules to guide the individual and society. For of course – the benefit of the status quo. These gods also provided a conduit back to the instinctive memory of a happy – caring time embedded in the older human brain, a lost paradise, the garden of Eden, heaven. This place of happiness became the location where life everlasting would exist. Thus beliefs formed to confront the realisation of death and indeed banish death itself with promises of paradise and life everlasting. These ideas linking back to memories held deep within the older primitive instinctive brain could well explain the resilience of religious concepts in the face of reason and science. Perhaps the maxim of the  Jesuits “give me the boy and I will show you the man”, might well be applied to all humanity – “give me young humanity, and I will show you humankind”.

So here we have the kernel of the issue that affects individual humans and society in general; Born with instincts that are caring and loving but now forced to live in a dog eat dog society. Conflict and alienation were the results.

So we humans, are torn between our embedded instinct of empathy and love and the reality of needless death and destruction of war, the poverty, the unfair and unequal culture that surrounds us. We are forced to participate in a society driven by competitive greed, and exploitation.  We are bombarded by propaganda to consume, consume, consume, in a society riven by divisions of class, colour and creed. For whether one is being exploited,or one is exploiting others, it brings alienation, an alienation that is the root of stress. The realisation that we have constructed our economy and social structures in such a way as to reduce almost everything, including ourselves to a commodity is indeed tragic realisation.  Most individuals experience guilt about their role in the society, but consciously or unconsciously negate it, the matrix of media, mass entertainment, commercialised sport and all manner of mind-altering substances help in this quest.

Most teenagers go through a difficult time deciding how to deal with these conflicts. The majority manage to find a comfort zone within the existing social order.  About the same time, they become conscious of their mortality they seek to escape in a million diversions, drink and drugs. In extremis, it can lead to depression, which can drive some, unfortunately, to take their own life.

Most people, as I said find a comfort zone, they build self-esteem and status by seeking the respect of society and their peers, part of that struggle will be establishing a sexual identity which links to attraction and the driving forces of replication.  They strive for peer group approval, for social status and success, through money, possessions, cars, fashion and trophies. Many fall for a frenzy of consumerism fuelled by debt. Others seek approval and peer bonding with their group through sport, drugs, tattoos, driving fast, and fashion — some more positive than others. Either way, most will try to avoid the problems of the human condition. By their early twenties, most will have control of their turmoil and found a recipe for survival.

Some, having seen and understood the problems will try to resolve them. That in itself does not provide a life free of angst, but it does provide a degree of satisfaction, as does any engagement to form society in a more equitable, non-divisive and sustainable direction.

We now need some beautiful music to smooth our way…..

The Gadfly, was a novel by Irish writer Ethel Lilian Boole born in Cork in 1864. Almost unknown in the west the book sold over 5 million copies mainly in the Soviet Union where it was made into a film. The score was written by Demetri Shostakovich, Played here on violin by the inimitable Nicola Benedetti, she takes my breath away…..once there is music like this, there is hope, hope indeed for all.

This is The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara FM your local community radio. I would be delighted with any response to the show positive or negative, Contact me by email; kinvarafm@gmail.com (Kinvara with one R)

PART 4.  1338 words ( 15min)

Das Kapital was written by a fairly impoverish Karl Marx in London. Published in 1867. It was a foundational text in materialist philosophy, economics and politics and was, one of the most import books of the last century. It put the basic elements of society under scientific scrutiny. The book influenced dramatic economic and political changes which still resonate. It was a work I did not find easy to digest. But regardless, the conflict between Capital and Labour of which he spoke and the concentration of capital have not gone away they have intensified.

The accelerating accumulation of wealth in the hands of fewer people will bring growing anger over the coming decade unless action is taken to reverse the trend. An alarming projection by the House of Commons library suggests that if trends seen since the 2008 financial crash were to continue, then the top 1% will hold 64% of all the world’s wealth by 2030. The wealth of the richest 1% has been growing at an average of 6% a year – much faster than that of the remaining 99% of the world’s population.  This trend is likely to be accelerated by robotics and Artificial intelligence.

But wealth is more than money in a bank; for it allows control over every facet of the social order, it controls all – media, politics, law and builds the state as its protector. Thus the 1% support with all their resources the politics and politicians who support the existing system. They use their resources and media to demonise any politician or social effort to redistribute that wealth.

But there is resistance; the workers with trade unions, left-wing political parties and mass movements of all kinds and at time bloody revolutions. See the events in France.

The battle is to extend democracy, not just over politics but over Capital continues.  The status quo cries foul and fights for ‘freedom’ freedom of capital.  It is imperative for them to do everything they can to disguise the true nature of the conflict.  But a class battle goes on – labour vs capital which brings me to a book I have recently read and is bang up-to-date.

Capital in the 21st Century is written by the French economist Thomas Piketty, at 680 pages its quite a weighty – but worthy tome. It is well worth the effort for those who might wish to understand modern corporate capitalism. Published in 2013, it became an unlikely bestseller.  It prompts debate on the outlook for global inequality.

It argues for a pronounced shift in the focus of government economic policy toward redistribution and points out some dire consequences if this does not happen. The book draws a decade of research by Piketty, detailing historical changes in the concentration of income and wealth. It sketches the evolution of inequality since the beginning of the industrial revolution. In the 18th and 19th centuries western European society was highly unequal. Private wealth dwarfed national income and was concentrated in the hands of relatively few rich families all within – a rigid class structure.

But wealth breeds arrogance, and when that arrogance combined with Nationalism, it almost brought about the destruction of their entire system. In Europe and beyond the ruling class squabbled over access to foreign resources and wished to extend their wealth and power.  With control over education, the church, the media, and state they persuaded millions of young men to march off to war. The call of the communists for peace and- “workers of the world unite” was overcome by nationalism, and with artillery, gas, machinegun and bayonet the workers of the world were led out and slaughtered each other on an industrial scale. Capitalist- imperialist greed brought The First World War. And the deaths of about 20 million people.

But the masses were not fully compliant, socialist and democratic ideas were everywhere,  anti-imperialist movements flourished.  In Russia, the Tsar fell in the face of a bourgeois revolution, which was quickly followed by a socialist one. The Russian Imperial army left the trenches and went home, that army then mainly became the Red Army fighting in a civil war and against 16  foreign armies who invaded and were attempting to recover the lost investments of their masters. However, they were routed and failed to defeat the Revolution. In Germany, the socialist revolution failed, but it did result in the declaration of a Republic and huge democratic gains. In Ireland, an anti-imperialist revolution succeeded.

The spectre of communism was haunting Europe, fear if not terror gripped the ruling classes. Millions of unhappy hardened soldiers were returning from the trenches. To prevent the spread of socialism, the rulers made democratic concessions everywhere, health and education services improved, mass housing was instigated. Massive transfers of wealth took place from the top down. Governments imposed high taxes on wealth, inflation, bankruptcies and the growth of welfare states caused the affluence of the few to shrink dramatically; it ushered in a period in which both income and wealth became distributed in a relatively egalitarian fashion.

But the enemies of Socialism never sleep! The class war in Germany raged on until the status quo faced with the prospect of a new Lenin or Hitler opted for the latter – and fascism, a form of national capitalism on speed took power.  Thus with God is with us’ on their uniforms the German army conquered most of Europe before it turned its attention on Soviet Russia, for its main objective was the crushing of socialism, a move that was to be its downfall. The Second World War caused about 63 million deaths.

The Soviet Union which lost 25 million people in the Second World War became the USSR had been seriously injured by the war and by the following cold war – tragically collapsed in 1991. With that, the philosophy of socialism suffered a terrible blow. Capital now saw its chance to regain all it had lost. From the Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, a conservative revolution began to assert itself.  Deregulation of economics became the order of the day – the philosophy was – that the unfettered market would solve everything. This ideology has now gripped the majority of countries including Ireland. The progress made against capital of the early 20th century faded, labour power has diminished, relative incomes, job security, holidays, quality of life – all fall. Competitive greed is now the accepted driver of the economy; the greediest and most competitive arrive at the top, wealth is then supposed to trickle-down to everyone else, (it doesn’t) but it is a theory that is accepted by our main political parties.

However, it transpires that if and when the bankers and bondsmen gamble for high stakes and loose, the people will pick up the tab?  Modern capitalism certainly works very well – for the few. We can see the appalling result everywhere, corruption – rough sleeping, housing shortages, rack-renting, the crisis in hospitals, education, shoddy privatisation. etc. After the last misfire of capitalism, the crash, well-paid government ministers managed to bequeath every last one of us, including newborn babies a debt of €42,800 per head. But as they control the compliant media, who in turn control the mind of the people. We will continue to elect them and pay ..…look up the;  www.nationaldebtclock.org/ Ireland…..and watch your wealth flicker away, you may not be amused.

Piketty points out that the main driver of wealth accumulation is the tendency for returns on capital to exceed economic growth. But he also points out the while public wealth appears to be zero, private wealth in Europe is at an all-time high. The nations of Europe have never been so rich, but this is distributed very unequally. Private wealth rests on public poverty; we pay so much on interest it weighs heavily against our ability to spend on the people’s real needs, housing, health, education and welfare.

Capital in the 21st century, calls for debt reduction by a progressive tax on private capital, an extension of democracy over Capital. But of course, such a move would be thwarted, for private high capital is protected by the very brightest of accountants and lawyers, it would be quickly moved to offshore accounts. Thus, to be successful, any taxation must be globally agreed and globally enforced. To those who might argue that the rich deserve their wealth gained due to hard work, he refers to Lilian Bettencourt who inherited L’Oréal, between 1990 and 2010 her wealth increased from €1.7 billion to €22 billion. Or about €2.8 million per day in interest and capital accumulation. Not bad for a person who never worked a day in their life.

Capitalism has been successful in harnessing labour to produce what is no doubt – a vast array of consumer goods. The system dazzles us night and day, to buy, gamble, escape, spend, be happy – borrow.  Against the natural empathy, of humanity, it seems to spread a poisonous promise that happiness comes from shallow achievements and the procession of things! It brings about an unprecedented rise in alienation.

But another problem is knocking ever more loudly at the door.  Our beautiful blue planet is calling for help. When I was born, 3.5 Billion people were living on earth, that has now grown to over 7 billion, that is 220,000 new people every day, with all their attendant animals and crops, all-consuming and all-dumping.  Also within this finite world, there is an infinite unsustainable drive for new markets, new products that flood our houses, our land and our seas. Capitalism with its inbuilt dynamic for growth and expansion is the antithesis of what is required.

What is required;  Is a social order that extends democracy over economics, a shift from expansion to redistribution,  then we need to achieve a universal responsibility for the planet and to achieve that, to get everyone, in on the act we need to develop political and economic universal ownership.

For will not any capitalist say that ownership is the only thing that ensures responsibility.

O’dear –  So many challenges…so many solutions, to which I hope to return,,,,  My book “The Republic of Reason & The poverty of Philosophy .”  is available through the website; www.therepublicofreason.ie or in Mr.Burkes local Kinvara Londis supermarket.

I would welcome any comments or questions on the programme, positive or negative and would love to discuss them; please email me at kinvarafm@gmail.com  (That’s kinvarra with one r)

But time is knocking on my door here at your local Kinvara community radio, so goodbye for now and thank you for listening. I will sail off as I sailed in ….


Music exit as intro;  Spartus adgio by Katachurion.


Other programmes would be themed by the reviewed books;  SUCH AS:

The Shock Doctrine; Naomi Klien – international politics, economics and war,

Chasing the scream; Johann Hari – Drugs, drink, addiction,

The Selfish Gene; Richard Dawkins – the power of replication, sex education.

Society without God;  Phil Zuckerman – Humanism.



December 28th, 2018|0 Comments

Neutrality under threat


AT SHANNON AIRPORT, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney are dismantling our neutrality; they risk the future of our children and the dignity of our nation by aligning Ireland’s foreign policy with that of Trump’s Washington Wall Street war consensus which insists that US interests are exceptional and must be free to dominate every corner of the globe. Any country that attempts to extend democracy over capital or US interests will be destroyed, by media demonisation, internal meddling, sanctions and war. Thus, from plundering the resources of the world and the use of munitions and arms sales in endless wars, blood-soaked money pours back to the 1% of the world’s wealthiest.


Our government ministers grovel to this power; they want to be a part of it and get a few crumbs from the table, an invitation to the White House, a smile, a pat on the head. While the ordinary passenger at Shannon Airport is harassed, their bags and person searched, the government insists that our Guards and Army turn their back on planeloads of troops and munitions.

The US military uses Shannon Airport on their way to and from wars all over the Middle East and Africa, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and now the Trump administration is ferrying military hardware to help Saudi Arabia in its dreadful slaughter in Yemen. A few days ago, on the 5th November, a US military Globemaster No. 9212, passed through on route from Tel Aviv to Washington, a flight that makes us complicit in the slaughter of the Palestinian people. Close to 3 million US troops and their weapons have passed through the airport since 2002, with over 60,000 transiting last year. It is also very likely some of the aircraft passing through Shannon Airport ferry kidnapped victims to CIA torture centres. But again, our authorities refuse to look; they do not want to know. It would generally be the function of an honest and independent media to keep people informed about the situation in Shannon; itis unfortunately outside their comfort zone to do so.

Shannonwatch holds peace vigils at Shannon Airport on the second Sunday of every month from 2 to 3 pm, please come and join this ongoing campaign to end the US military use of Shannon Airport. Contact your local representative and insist that Ireland regain its neutrality. From a strong neutral position, Ireland could and should be a robust voice for peace on the international stage.

NOTE; This article and cartoon are free to copy, please forward on or republish; please contact with any comments positive or negative.


November 7th, 2018|0 Comments

Pope Francis

The Burren



The problems, the solutions and the positive;

Opinion column; Fergus Quinlan

The visit of Pope Francis has focused attention on two glaring problems facing the Catholic Church. The problem of child abuse, and the legacy of how the church, supported by the state treated women who became unmarried mothers. On these two subjects, most conversations refer to the exposure of guilty priests, nuns and their institutions, find culprits to blame for their actions and conspiracies to cover up these crimes and avoid punishment.  There is no doubt that society has progressed in the exposure of perpetrators and even in the collection of some retribution. However, while the exposure and banishment of perpetrators are necessary and provides a form of closure to the abused,  that approach does not deal with the underlying issue, the wellspring from which all this evil, hurt and abuse has emerged.

These problems arise in the Catholic Church due to a fundamental defect in its underlying philosophy. The church does not, or perhaps does not want to understand the conflict between the human instinct and intellect.

Our first powerful instinct is for survival; the next is our sexual instinct for reproduction. The church has adopted many ways over the centuries to control the sexual instinct. The first is through shame and guilt, the only depictions of the naked or semi-naked human forms in Christian art have been the tortured body of St. Sabastian festooned in arrows, the bloodied and crucified Christ or scores of the damned being herded into hell by sword-wielding angels.

The elevation of the Virgin Mary,  “O Mary conceived without sin.” As an icon of the church, negates and confuses, it most certainly does not assert the joy and fulfilment of the normal sexual actions of women who give normal birth. Countless statues of the sexless Virgin Mary promote this unattainable contradiction as an ideal, in schools all over Ireland, it confuses both girls and boys; it undermines the whole feminine ethos of girls, in boys, it promotes the idea of the ‘slut’ regarding any girl who behaves in a normal sexual way. These contradictions highlight the clash between the church doing all it can to suppress sexuality with shame and ignorance and the powerful sexual instinct itself.

One must have an understanding of the ‘predator priest’, often young boys persuaded into seminaries at a young age, had their sexuality, either heterosexuality or homosexuality ignored and suppressed, masturbation was a sin, even sexual thoughts were sinful. Prayer, penance and fear of damnation were the suppressing weight placed on the heads of the seminarians, the priests, brothers and nuns lived a lonely, unnatural life of celibacy. In many cases the suppression worked, in others, it failed, the sexual instinct burst forth like a boil. The frustrated religious then express their sexuality with the vulnerable and most available boys and perhaps the young female housekeeper, all educated in schools, run by the same clerics. Schools, which maintained and in the majority still do, a deliberate ignorance of sex and sexuality. If the girl became pregnant, she, like the thousands of others at the time who became pregnant while unmarried, was likely to have her child taken from her and incarcerated as a laundry slave under the care of the Sisters of Charity.

The solutions

If the pope is serious about the continued existence of the church, he will have to understand the primacy of instinct, support and celebrate the life force of sexuality, change the celibacy rule for priests, allow female priests, remove the whole damaging idea of virgin births and conception without sin. He will have to recognise that the intellect, instead of suppressing sexuality can in a constructive way, guide it to acts of mutual respect and love.

It is essential for the safety of children that they are aware of all aspects of their bodies and are introduced to sexual awareness from the age of reason. While discussions on postponing sexual activity might be worthwhile, any inculcation of shame and guilt have proved counterproductive. The enormous power driving the instinct for sex and replication, as we have seen, will overcome all obstacles. Inhibitions and suppression on sexuality stemming from whatever source will encourage young people to negate these hang-ups with alcohol and other mind-altering substances.  Sex in such circumstances is much more likely to result in unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted disease.

An open sexual climate, comprehensive sex education, and a nonjudgmental attitude toward young people’s sexuality will reduce, if not remove these inhibitions. It is essential that young partners can discuss sex openly  – before they engage in such an important act, such confidence and the ability to have an open dialogue will contribute to low rates of unintended pregnancies and lower levels of abortion. High-quality, honest sex education and dialogue within schools and homes will help create an ethos of healthy sexual relationships where growing children can assess and manage risk. Sexuality is central to the self-esteem of every human, confidence within an individuals sexuality will contribute a self-assurance which will flow into all aspects of life.

Pope Francis – A positive viewpoint;

The church and religion are under severe pressure in Ireland, this is indicated, amongst other things, by the reduction of young people attending mass and a dearth of new priests. While there would be positive aspects to the demise of religion, such as perhaps the unifying of all education under a secular format. The collapse of any remaining spirituality may accelerate the rise of unfettered material insatiability. Thus, there arises the spectre of an intensifying religion of material greed and consumerism. For those of us who wish to see democracy extend over Capital, we look for any allies in such a worthy struggle; here we have unlikely cohorts in W.B.Yeats and the present pope, W. B. Yeats in his poem, titled 1913;

“What need you, being come to sense,

But fumble in a greasy till

And add the halfpence to the pence

And prayer to shivering prayer, until

You have dried the marrow from the bone…….

One hundred years later, Pope Francis raised similar issues which are as relevant to politics and economics in Ireland today:

“The worship of the golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.”

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system.”

In a speech in Bolivia 2015, he said: “Behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench ‘the dung of the devil’, an unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”

“Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labour is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment.”         Pope Francis

NOTE; The author is open to join or chair any open forums on any of the challenging issues raised above;

August 23rd, 2018|0 Comments

1917 – 2017 The Bolshevik Revolution

Centenary of the Russian Revolution


The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 came at a time when the divisions between a tiny minority of the very wealthy and the great mass of people was at the level it now approasches. The dramatic changes usered in by the revolution brought hope and confidence to a vast international social movement. The benefits that accrued to the majority of people throughout Europe were enormous and have yet to be acknowledged. Its success contributed to improvements in education, health, and living standards worldwide, with a shift of wealth to the majority.  It is only since the collapse of the USSR has the flow of wealth and power again been in favour of the rich and the few.

Post 1917 the reverberation of the events in Russia, combined with the return of millions of men from the First World War, conversant in the use of arms, sent a chill through the ruling class of every country where capital was king. They realised what an organised people could achieve and the potential that existed for such actions to spread. Fear, that great advisor of survival, ensured that concessions were made to the workers throughout the world and on all fronts.

Socialist ideas had led the great struggles of the twentieth century; the emancipation of women, the fight against fascism and racism, they gave hope to the disposed worldwide. The anti-colonial wars of many peoples, from Southeast Asia to the Americas, were supported by socialist states. The collapse of the Soviet Union brought a decline of confidence to the socialist movement and instigated a roll-back of previous social gains which continues to this day. It gave buoyancy to unregulated capital and the concentration of wealth intensified as did every facet of the alienating order.


Innovations in science or business start with research, a hypothesis and chance. Similarly social revolutions require a concept or a plausible dream for the construction of a better future. In both cases, the conditions must be right but even then either may experience the risk of dead-ends and failures. Social history is generally perceived as a series of unconnected events – an almost circular movement of humanity, the coming and going of monarchs and their various battles and conquests. It ill serves an establishment to show any pattern of progress in history, for interpolations might lead to unwelcome conclusions. An emotive issue is the role of class contradictions in the formation of every economic system and state. It is the relationship between the owners of the means of production and those whose labour power is necessary for production; these forces determine the nature of an economic and social order. The ultimate resolution of the class conflict is when the producers have the ability and responsibility to take ownership of the means of production.


The hundredth anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, the formation of the USSR and its legacy will sharpen discussions on whether history can be progressive. The 80-year experiment with socialism in the Soviet Union will be used as an example of failure. Some will and have argued as they did at the time, that it is impossible to build socialism in one country and thus the experiment was doomed from the start. Many socialists agree that what happened in the USSR was a socialism which distorted under isolation, external aggression and internal paranoia. A related issue is a lack of understanding most people have of the aggression by the forces of capital against the Soviet Union, both at its formation and during the Second World War. A war which is often falsely seen as a battle between Germany and the UK on the one hand and Japan and the United States on the other. A more balanced history from pre-revolutionary Europe, through the events of 1917 to the collapse of the USSR gives an understanding of the main players on the world stage and how they got there.

The oppressed have always yearned for a society in which their lot would improve. Slaves dreamed they might escape and return to an abundant hunting and gathering ground. Serfs in a feudal society wished freedom to farm their own plot of land and control their lives. Workers dreamed of a society without exploitation, thereby gaining and sharing the fruits of their labour, to this end they organised into socialist and communist parties. But communists were not the only dreamers of the time. Fascists from Spain to Germany were the militant face of capital and the church, they realised that democracy and internationalism threatened the rule and riches of this elite, as was evident from the events in Russia. The main objective of fascism was the crushing of all working-class organisations and any democracy that might extend power over capital. They were the front line protagonists of their sponsors – the remnants of aristocracy and owners of industry. Their dream was the establishment of a permanent ruling class, bathed in the light of xenophobic nationalism which brooked no discussion or opposition. The German fascists or Nazis coupled such ideas with a notion of an Aryan master race and an empire that would dominate Europe for a thousand years. Had it succeeded it would have been an enormous setback for civilisation. This explosion of dysfunctional capitalism caused the death of over sixty million people leaving a huge section of Europe in ruins. It did unfortunately succeed, for the unparalleled devastation that came in its wake sowed the seeds for the destruction of socialism and postponed any possibility of building a communist society.


The revolution of 1917 came not, as was predicted, to an advanced industrial state such as Germany or England but in a relatively backward feudal one. The invasions sponsored by international capital seeking to regain its wealth that immediately followed the revolution weakened the state and contributed to internal paranoia and a diminution of democracy.  An objective history of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union has not yet been written and may never be, as there are perhaps too many subjective agendas. It never progressed beyond beginning the construction of a socialist state and certainly never came near being a communist society, as no state ever has, or independently can. We will never know if in different conditions it could have evolved into a truly communist, egalitarian society. But in any event the transparency, the checks and balances and constant democratic input from the bottom did not prevail. All of this and more would have been required to maintain the confidence and support of its people. While there might be the possibility of building a socialist state within a national boundary, such could not apply to the construction of a communist society, which by definition would require the withering away of state enforcement structures. That could only emerge if it were international and without internal or external threat.


Since the immortal opening lines of the Communist Manifesto written in 1848 – “A Spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism” – a certain unease has lurked deep in the minds of the holders of power and privilege. Their nightmare, that great hordes of the dispossessed, the people who sell their labour to exist, were thinking revolutionary thoughts and organising revolutionary parties to take power. In almost all cases the only reason organised workers become revolutionary is because they were given no choice, their demands ignored and democratic movements suppressed. An early revolt of that nature was the Paris Commune of 1871 when municipal elections led to the formation of a commune government. It followed the French Revolutionary tradition with a programme that called for an end of support for religion and a limited number of social measures such as a 10-hour working day. It was short-lived, ending in suppression by the national armies of the elite. The French bourgeoisie took the challenge to their power and privilege very seriously and over 35,000 communards were slaughtered. The red flag, the workers flag, was raised in France for the first time about February 1848 and came to symbolise what was to be the recurring fate of those in the lower orders who dared seek equality. ‘For though their limbs grow stiff and cold, their hearts’ blood dyed its every fold’ [song-The Red Flag- Jim Connell, Co. Meath].


The century leading up to 1914 was relatively peaceful in Europe with a concentration on industrialisation, colonial expansion and the consolidation of nation states. The Industrial Revolution in Britain and beyond expanded the available consumer market and likewise the numbers of producers competing for those markets. It brought massive increases in productivity and great disparities of wealth, it brought the working class and class conflict. It stimulated alternative, socialist philosophies which questioned state and church power as never before. As an antidote to the growth of international socialism and to aid colonial expansion, nationalistic feelings were promoted within each country. Superiority over other nations was preached and the dangers they posed were embellished. European nations, especially France, Britain, and Germany, joined in the rush for overseas colonies. Industrialisation and superiority in arms allowed them to seize land almost unopposed world-wide and build colonial empires. By the turn of the century most colonisation had taken place intensifying competition for the remaining areas.

The industrialised countries of Europe applied taxes on imported goods, prices increased, and trade declined. The masters of capital and politics sought scapegoats, blaming competing states which led to a spiral of tariffs, lower trade, rising unemployment and unrest. The unification of Italy and most especially that of Germany and its rapid rise as an economic and military power alarmed its neighbours. Nations reacted by building their respective military strength and forming alliances. France allied with Russia and England. Germany with Austria and Italy. Wealth, greed and competition became a toxic combination within and without the national borders of Europe. With the major powers in opposing camps, danger lay in any two members of opposing alliances coming into conflict, resulting in the possibility of a major war.


The awesome power of capitalism was being demonstrated by the creation of new technologies which, as trade and production of consumer goods declined were diverted into the armaments industry. The mass production of weapons, such as the machine gun, long-range artillery, mortars, submarines, and battleships, triggered an arms race such as the world had never seen. This poisonous cocktail combined with the arrogance of national chauvinism and plunged Europe into the First World War.

Nationalism like religion has the power to overcome the common interests of humanity and gather it into opposing groups. In each country the national press demonised any internal opposition and blackened the people of opposing countries into vile caricatures. Most socialists were persuaded to abandon their internationalism and join the army where they trained to kill their fellow workers. Christian priests and pastors preached to both sides that god was with them. With much singing and flag-waving the armies marched off to war, all assured of their superiority, and that victory would be theirs within a few months. Both sides were almost equal in armaments and the armies bogged down in trench warfare and unbelievable carnage. On the 1st of July 1916 at the Somme, with the aid of mine, mortar and machine gun 65,000 young men lay dead by the end of that single day. Most did not die clean, but screaming in disbelief and searing pain as they looked at their own scattered limbs or intestines. Millions of young men with common interests had been persuaded to support King or Kaiser and over four years slaughtered each other. By the end of the war, a war driven by competition and greed for markets and power between the giants of capital, 16 million were dead and 20 million injured.


On the eastern front, the autocratic rule of Tsar Nicolas II, the despair of Russian troops in a stalemated war, combined with radical movements at home to create a revolution. Russia was an unlikely place for this event, a land of approximately 170 million, where the majority of the population were peasants on a meagre existence with more than 60% illiterate. As Tsarist rule collapsed, many variants of politics briefly existed before the Bolsheviks took power. That organised workers and peasants were able to overthrow the Romanovs and extend democracy over economics brought hope to millions of the oppressed and fear to ruler’s worldwide. The rebellion took place in conditions of extreme scarcity for, in addition to the privation of Russia’s people, the war had aggravated food shortages and disease. By October 1917 the country was under the control of councils of workers, farmers and soldiers.All productive property and land was brought under the ownership of the people. The Russian army, as promised, was withdrawn from the slaughter of the front.

The first phase of any new project has an exciting quality, a hypothesis that mankind could build a society without exploitation, with equality of gender and race, where the combined productive capacity of society could be harnessed to serve the common good. It was a watershed historical moment and an inspiration to millions as they witnessed economic power pass to its producers. But it was also a watershed moment for those who were losing their land, mines, railways and investments. It was a dangerous and threatening time for capital and the ruling elite worldwide who mobilised all the power and propaganda they could muster against this new state, for if this socialist revolution was not strangled at birth, it could spread. They were determined that it had not just to be contained, but reversed.


Thus external capitalist powers invaded Russia trying to regain their investments and crush the revolution. Germany invaded from the west, American, British and French forces from the north, Japanese and American troops landed in the east. All these forces combined with the internal counter-revolutionaries forces as the old order of Russia fought to regain power and privilege. As many as 255,000 troops were involved from 14 different countries, capturing large sections of the country. It was November 1920 before the Red Army finally defeated all the invaders, subdued the internal opposition and secured the country. However, the invasions had brought devastation, economic ruin and famine. Those who had failed to bring down the revolution with direct military intervention now concentrated on blockades, propaganda and isolation.

The security of the revolution in Russia depended on its spread to advanced capitalist countries, in particular to Germany, where despite five years of revolutionary upheaval, the revolution failed. The new socialist state was left isolated, struggling internally with reaction and under attack from external forces. Consequently, instead of being able to concentrate on improving the well-being of the people, huge resources had to be squandered on defence. When the leader of the revolution, V.I. Lenin, was shot in 1918 this act further poisoned the atmosphere, substantiating the belief that there were enemies of the state everywhere and increasing the paranoia. Lenin’s health deteriorated and he died in January 1924, but the struggle to build socialism went on. There is no greater school than a revolution and it is not surprising that some of the most innovative and successful literacy campaigns are those born when a mass of people fight for a better society. In such periods ideas matter as never before and the spread of literacy becomes a prime liberating endeavour. Education was massively overhauled with a tenfold increase in expenditure. Free and universal access was mandated for all children from the ages of three to sixteen years, and the number of schools doubled within the first two years. Co-education was implemented to combat sex discrimination and for the first time schools were created for students with learning and other disabilities.


Revolutionary ideas in Europe were reflected by a surge of radical architecture and art, two centres of this movement emerged, the Bauhaus in Germany in 1919, a year later Lenin announced the establishment of the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops – VKhuTEMAS. The aim was to use the visual arts in the training of technically, politically and scientifically educated architects and designers in all disciplines. It became a laboratory of modern architecture and art, in which diverse artistic ideas such as classicism, constructivism and futurism came together.The oppressive forms and pompous decoration of imperial grandeur were stripped away. During the ten years of its existence, it was a leading light in the Russian and European avant-garde. The ethos of the school- which had a close association with the Bauhaus- was to develop an architecture and art of socialised man and the machine age. It was a time of promise and endless possibilities, ‘less is more’ was the catchphrase. Both schools were to flourish for ten years and have a lasting international impact. However, in time the architecture and art of a growing autocracy in Russia could not escape its own reflection, nor could the free spirit of Vkhutemas and by 1930 the school was closed. During the same period, the Nazis saw the Bauhaus as un-German, degenerate and Marxist. Its links with VKhuTEMAS in Moscow did not go unnoticed; it was also closed.

Mass literacy was seen as crucial, for it is hard to propagate social ideas and develop an economy in the midst of illiteracy. Economic conditions did not help, they were described at the time: “Hungry children in rags would gather in winter around a small stove planted in the middle of the classroom, whose furniture often went for fuel to give some tiny relief from the freezing cold; they had one pencil between four of them and their schoolmistress was hungry.” Over the next 16 years despite a diminution in democracy, progress was made in industrialisation, agriculture, science, education and social care. The emergence of the Soviet Union bolstered the confidence of trade unions and left-wing movements worldwide, allowing gains in living standards and social democracy. However, this was not happening unopposed. The enemies of socialism never sleep and fascism was emerging throughout Europe. In Spain a democracy emerged and subsequent elections established a republic but this was crushed by a right-wing army and ruling class revolt. This movement against democracy received support from reactionaries throughout Europe, including Germany, and from some within the Republic of Ireland. Thankfully, for our historical dignity 275 Irish volunteers fought with the International Brigade and many died in the unsuccessful defence of the Spanish Republic.


In Germany, the rising Nazi party received its support from the ruling elite, not because Hitler was going to ‘solve’ the Jewish, gay or gypsy ‘problems’ but because he was going to destroy the organised workers, the trade unions, and communists. Fascism was the embodiment of competitive greed and ‘might is right’. It gained support by opposing the reparations demands of WW1 and by fomenting a populist hatred against the Jews, a policy that led to a most appalling, organised genocide, the Holocaust. It provided a diversion, a cry from a prophet Hitler, who was persuading his followers that if the Jewish, gipsy and gay ‘problems’ were solved, all would be well. But the main antagonists were at large, the spectre of communism was haunting Europe. The worker’s revolution had consolidated power in Russia and the great fear was that it could be repeated in Germany. The main aim of fascism was to thwart socialism in theory and practice. As early as August 1919, Hitler was lecturing returning German prisoners of war on the dangers of Communism and pacifism, as well as democracy and disobedience. He also delivered tirades against the Jews that were well received by the weary soldiers who were looking for someone to blame for all their misfortunes.  The title of the fascist party, the National Socialist Party, while being a total corruption of everything socialism stood for, caused confusion. The promotion of xenophobic ideas, such as the superiority of the Aryan race and German nationalism, undermined international class unity, as had happened in the First World War. Thus the left in Germany was thwarted by the rise of the Nazi party who were supported by the ruling class terrified that they might suffer the fate of the Russian elite. Hitler was seen as a better option than another Lenin.

Historians and obscurants often equate fascism and communism as equal terrors of the time. The majority of leading intellectuals of the day and throughout most of the twentieth century were often criticised for their support of the Russian revolution while condemning fascism. This is not surprising for, as the fascists were scheming for nationalism, division, conquest, dominance and the negation of democracy, communists were dreaming of the international solidarity of humanity as well as negation of class divisions, equality, universal education and democratic control over economics. The call of the ‘International’ to unite all men and end the nightmare of war, was by far the most attractive governmental cause engaged in by our species to date. That the Russian revolution and the Soviet Union did not or perhaps could not reach fruition, is the major human philosophical, social and material tragedy of the last century.

When Germany invaded Poland in1939, England and France stood by their allegiance and war was declared. The German army then swept west over-running everything in its path until it reached the English Channel. It was assumed the conquest of the United Kingdom would occur within a few months. However, air superiority was required to invade across the channel. The heroic air conflict ‘The Battle of Britain’ was a victory for the Royal Air Force and changed the tide of war on the western front. Those in Ireland of thoughtful mind and democratic bent breathed a sigh of relief, for had the Third Reich occupied England, Ireland would have quickly suffered the same fate. Even if the Nazis had not invaded they would have ensured a proxy government of their liking Socialists, trade union leaders and Jews would have suffered the fate in the UK and Ireland as their European counterparts.


If we in Ireland thought English occupation was rough it would have been a picnic compared to the Third Reich. Resistance would have been dealt with the same brutality as that suffered by the village of Lidice outside Prague where when a Nazi officer was assassinated, 173 men of the village were shot, any Aryan looking children were sent to ‘good’ German homes and the remaining children, together with 183 women, were sent to the death camps. The village itself was levelled. The Republic of Ireland has often come under criticism for remaining neutral in the Second World War, but it was weary from the war of independence and a civil war. Besides it did not have an industrialised army to contribute and there still existed a sentiment amongst the population which was hostile to the UK. An ambiguity towards fascism had been strengthened by the support given by the Church and media for the crushing of the Spanish Republic. However, while Ireland remained officially neutral an estimated fifty thousand Irish men and women served with the Allied and UK forces. Furthermore, Allied airman downed over the Republic were returned to their bases within a few days while Germans who suffered the same fate were confined for the duration of the war.

In the east, Hitler and Stalin had signed a non-aggression pact which fooled no one, least of all the Soviets who immediately started to move their armament factories east of the Ural Mountains. It was to be a short-lived respite. ‘Operation Barbarossa’ – called after the Holy Roman Emperor who led a crusade in 1189 to free the ‘Holy Land’ from Islam – began in June 1941, a crusade to free the world from socialism. It was the biggest military operation of all time; a mainly German invasion of the Soviet Union with three million men and 3,500 tanks, this was more than two and a half times the number of German troops operating on the western front. This invasion was planned not to be a war of conquest but a war of annihilation, to form a space for the expansion of Germany. In the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, there is a plaque which reads:

On June 22 1941. Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The rapidly advancing tank forces helped the Wehrmacht to make massive territorial gains. At the end of 1941 the German army stood before Moscow, certain of victory. Yet the Red Army’s counter-offensives in snow and frost halted the advance on the capital. In the summer of 1942 the Germans once more seized large areas of the southern section of the front, but were soon forced to retreat. The war in the East, unlike that on the West was carried out as a war of annihilation. The primary aims were to suppress Bolshevism, seize Lebensraum, living space, exploit the occupied areas and make use of the population as forced labour. The East was to provide the German Reich with food and to be colonised by Aryans. Hence the death of many millions of Soviet citizens was an integral part of the plan. Captured Red Army soldiers were deliberately left to die of hunger. Mobile killing units operating behind the front lines – the Einsatzgruppen – systematically killed the Jewish population along with Roma and Sinti as well as communist functionaries. The entire Soviet civilian population suffered from the terror of the occupation, which led them to retaliate with bitter guerrilla warfare. By 1945 the Soviet Union had more than 25 million dead to mourn.

Hell had travelled east and every village, town and city taken by the German forces was destroyed. By August 1942 they were at the gates of Stalingrad. Initially the Luftwaffe reduced much of the city to rubble with a massive bombing campaign. Then German armour and infantry fought street by street driving the Red Army defenders back in constant close combat. In November with the deepening of winter and in freezing conditions the Red Army counter-attacked and surrounded 265,000 Axis troops, mainly German but also Hungarian, Romanian, Italian and Croatian, who had been forbidden to surrender by Hitler. All were eventually overrun and the entire course of the war turned. Stalingrad is now recognised as the most decisive battle of the war; it lasted just under six months. At the end of the fighting there were almost two million causalities on both sides. It had been the biggest and bloodiest single battle of not just the Second World War, but ever in human history.

The Red Army, having broken the back of the Wehrmacht, started its push west and by May 1945 reached Berlin and the war was over. The Soviet Union paid a very high price with 25 million of its people dead, 70,000 villages and 1,710 towns, together with thousands of factories, power plants, libraries, schools, hospitals destroyed. To place the scale of the Allied losses in context, the United States lost 420,000, mainly military personnel, in the Pacific and European conflicts and suffered no damage to its industrial base. The UK lost a total of 450,000 military and civilians. Total German losses were over 7,000,000 and the country was in ruins. In the countries where the Red Army pushed back fascism, socialist governments were established. At the Yalta conference, the Soviet delegation demanded a sphere of political and military influence in Eastern and Central Europe making the point that this bulwark of allied states was an essential aspect of its national security. This effectively partitioned Europe between the western capitalist economies and the eastern socialist ones. The power and wealth of US capitalism was then directed to rebuilding the economies of Western Europe in a mode to suit the free reign of capital. Huge amounts of aid under the Marshal Plan were poured into rebuilding West Germany. The decimated USSR was not in any position to match that reconstruction in the east. In the world of free capital everything was done to promote anti-socialist thinking and contain the influence of socialist ideas. By 1950 the red scare and McCarthyism were in full swing in the United States, the part played by the Red Army in WW2 was being written out of history. An intellectual iron curtain was drawn down on socialism and the physical border between the two systems in Europe became another. The cold war developed.


Towards the end of the war with Japan, the United States had demonstrated how two nuclear bombs could immolate a city and 130,000 people in a flash. This forced Japan to surrender but it also forced a now very nervous USSR to divert a vast amount of its resources from badly needed reconstruction and social projects to nuclear deterrence and defence. The United States was bolstered by a flourishing arms race. This forced the Soviet Union with its much damaged economy to do the same, thus seriously impairing the building of socialism. The fear of external attack forged its strategic thinking regarding the states that lay between it and the perceived threat from the west. While Soviet Russia had rendered anti-imperialist support to many countries worldwide and respected their self-determination, it would and did intervene to ensure that states adjacent to its border remained under its sphere of influence within the Warsaw Pact. This paranoia of external attack and persecution effectively prevented the flourishing of socialism in the Soviet Union and any chance of building a communist society was doomed. To this day the fear of external aggression dominates Russian military thinking, it will go to great lengths to maintain influence on its neighbours to ensure they remain allies or at least non-aligned.

By way of comparison, on September 11th 2001 after the destruction of the World Trade Centre and the death of 3,000 by hijacked airliners, the United States was gripped by paranoia. The war on terror commenced, and countries that were completely innocent were invaded and destroyed. Suspects were collected worldwide and flown to Guantanamo Bay to be held without charge and tortured. Imagine the reaction of the United States if an actual ground force invasion had occurred and 25 million Americans had been killed, 70,000 villages, 1,710 towns, thousands of factories, power plants, libraries, schools, hospitals had been destroyed.

Up to 1991, the USSR made erratic progress in production, health, education and living standards. However, the investment in armaments was to prove ever more crippling. That such a relatively backward state could, after so much destruction, match the United States in nuclear firepower, achieving a capability of mutually assured destruction, speaks volumes for the organisational ability of a people under pressure. Unfortunately the building of socialism and securing the well-being and happiness of a people requires a very different environment, a problem that highlights the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of building socialism in a single country, particularly a threatened one. Deep governance problems arose, a lack of balances and transparency within the system allowed power to move away from the worker councils and fall excessively into the hands of the Communist Party and leadership, finally concentrating in Stalin. Inherited characteristics of supplication from the legacy of Czarism and religious orthodoxy re-emerged, a cult of leadership flourished with a leader who was both feared and adored. Nothing could be further from the foundations required to build socialism from the bottom up. Huge mistakes were made in the economy. Corruption, bureaucracy and inefficiencies grew. Finally in 1991 the contradictions of external pressure and internal betrayal brought about a coup by President Yeltsin.


When it became evident that he would lose the next election and knowing he had support from the IMF and with billions in aid promised from the US Congress he abolished the constitution and dissolved parliament.  Having doubled military salaries, he surrounded the parliament building with troops and ordered an attack. About five hundred were killed and a thousand wounded, democracy was effectively crushed and the socialist state was replaced by a corporatist one. Naomi Klein says in her book The Shock Doctrine, ‘former communist party apparatchiks and a handful of western fund managers ….teamed up with Yeltsin’s Chicago boys and stripped the country of nearly everything of value, moving profits abroad at the rate of $2 billion a month’. Never have so many lost so much over such a short period, the pillage required terror and oppression and the country that strove for egalitarianism now languishes with an elite of billionaires and a bulging poverty.

The collapse and the break-up of the USSR was grotesquely celebrated by the western media and the elite worldwide; they were relieved when a fistful of men grabbed the wealth of the USSR and became multi-millionaires overnight. The spectre of communism was at least temporarily over; the world could now perhaps be free – free for the dictatorship of capital. With the collapse of this intrepid peoples experiment, went the confidence and influence of left-wing movements worldwide. Capital regained its confidence and accelerated deregulation and further accumulation at the expense of the majority, its global range and power increasing in inverse proportion to the diminishing power of national democracies. Workers international solidarity diminished with it a growth in divisions amongst people through nationalism and religion. Most movements against oppression which had previously been led by secular left-wing forces had been subverted and splintered into divisive religious fundamentalism, toxic to reason, but ultimately of no threat to global capital. Nonetheless the innate desire of humans to build a just egalitarian society, a co-operative internationalist community will not go away.

October 23rd, 2017|0 Comments

Left, right and Centre in Trump Times

Also published as; The Burren POP-UP-PRESS  

An opinion column by Fergus Quinlan

Left, Right and Centre in Trump Times

Life should be a battle against one’s ignorance, not an obsession with the ignorance of others. The only way the world will improve is if more people try to understand it, one is knowing why divisions among groups who have the same objective interests arise.

In the United States, the sight of white males shouting fascist slogans imparts a sense of foreboding, a group of anti-fascists shouting back does not relieve it.  The dynamics of the issues affecting the USA are similar to those throughout Europe and are worth understanding.

In the US, large sections of workers have been let down by the Democratic party which had appeared to serve their interests. However, over the past forty years, the Party’s collaboration with the corporate financial sector has been total; they have whittled away any remnant of democratic control of capital. After Bill Clinton signed away the Glass Steagall Act, they participated in a spree of deregulation, they watched trade union power diminish, and the pay and job security of workers decline. What exaggerated the situation was that the form of capitalism was changing, it was not that which grew slowly through the funding of industry, infrastructural projects and housing. It was the ’Free’  liberalised capital springing from ‘quantitive easing’ [printing money] that went spinning through a circle of hedge funds, leveraging, futures, bondsmen and a thousand other bits of financial wizardry that accelerated the accumulation of capital but without engaging with production. While this was happening, the actual production of goods moved to low wage high-profit economies.

This new neoliberal capitalism heralded a significant development within the United States and world wide. The alignment of interests between government and international financial institutions, ‘the Washington Wall-Street Consensus’, an alliance that has become a conspiracy against the people of the US  and a lethal force against peace and democracy throughout the world.

As the living standards of the once, best-paid workers in the world fell, they were showered with credit to continue buying goods and services, cars, houses, college fees. Now, in debt bondage, trapped and frightened; they see their factories rust and their world decline. They had been betrayed by the left; they turned to the right. Trump promised to bring home jobs, stop immigrants undercutting wages, and to build a wall to keep them out, they cheered. Many of these workers had been brought up in bible belt religion, drenched in beliefs that they were the good white race, they had won the west, they had been either a rebel in the Confederacy or defended the Union, they had with flags and drums marched off proudly to serve their country. They had shared the pain, with those who now oppose them as they watched thousands of their children arriving home in coffins from various wars, but they clung to their culture and beliefs. For their self-worth, they cannot bring themselves to believe that the wars they fought were not for the freedom of America,  but for the enrichment of the few.

Now, their world and confidence are falling to ruin; The indigenous,  Blacks, Women, Muslims, Jews, Gays are all deemed as equals, their ego and their perceptions, past and future are under threat. Removing their statues is akin to pulling down the Blessed Virgin at a Catholic parade.  Angry and frightened the ‘alt-right’ cry, ‘blood and soil’, ‘our streets’, against what they see as a betrayal, forces acting against their ‘dearly’ held interests. The reaction of the left was predictable; they took to the streets to face down them down, clashes and death were inevitable. But this ‘Alt-right’is not the real danger; it is not the real enemy, it is but a diversion, the real enemy is the system as protected by the ‘real news’ of the corporate media. Commenting on the chaos, it can now paint itself as the voice of reason, the middle ground; it works to support the ‘reasonable’ voice of the Democratic Party. The party aligned with the wolves of Wall Street that is decimating their lives. The party which directs the Washington War machine as it destroys any country that does not kneel before its interests.

The media, while it has the occasional independent voice, is, in general, a united, well-controlled force owned by international corporations,  well represents their interests. It endorses the freedom of capital to do as it wishes worldwide. Government agencies, such as the CIA,  acting as agents of capital, carefully stage and report on events. This copy passes to the main media outlets and like a rolling wave spreads to every acquiescent TV station, and newspaper in the world. A lie repeated often enough becomes ‘the truth’ and all else deemed as fake news. These are the forces presently demonising tens of millions of Trump voters.

The confrontation at Charlottesville appeared to have been allowed to occur by the authorities, the question one must ask is who benefits from such unrest. The beneficiary appears to be the Democratic and some in the Republican Party who are conspiring to remove the glitch that is Trump and get back to the status quo. The campaign to link Trump and Putin as fellow conspirators plotting against Hillary Clinton is a case in point.  When Trump attempted talks with Russia, it caused an uproar as any diminution of tension between the superpowers is opposed, for tension breeds fear and fear keeps people subservient. The population becomes more compliant to surveillance, the expansion of security, policing and mass incarceration. The threat of war allows the state print money and gather trillions in taxes, which instead of providing a health service, housing, and education, buys more profitable weapons from their supporters in the military-industrial complex. The money flows upwards, enriching the rich, while the frightened, confused and exploited, grow poorer and more alienated. To dehumanise large swaths of the population assists the ‘Deep State’ to intensify divisions and reaction leading to internal wars and chaos, a situation which could give the military the opportunity to bypass the electorate and allow the generals replace democracy in the interests of homeland and national security.

Hopefully, there are plenty of decent, conscious people who understand the dangers and are willing to improve the situation. The consciousness of a socialist alternative is spreading.  It’s important that the empathy and inclusiveness evident in many within the United States attempts to include the frustrated white male of middle America.

People in Ireland and worldwide are interested in America; it is the country that poses the greatest threat to humanity regarding war and climate change. The economic ideology emanating from Friedman’s Chicago School has poisoned the US and every part of the globe it touches. The future of the USA may well determine the future of the world if it starts to believe the rhetoric as used by Obama, the concept of ‘American exceptionalism’, a belief that the United States is the biggest, strongest, smartest, richest, and most-deserving country on Earth. This arrogance is dangerous enough, but any further rightward shifts could bring the world as we know it, to ruin. Any action people may take, any arguments they may make, must not concern a Tweedledum or Tweedledee of US presidents, but the system itself and that must be from an internationalist perspective.

Book and Blogs at; https://www.therepublicofreason.ie                            

August 31st, 2017|0 Comments

The Battle for Aleppo

Is the battle for Aleppo coming to an end?

The six-year narrative on Syria has been a criminal propaganda project deployed against a sovereign nation, its people, its state and its national army.

The prolonged dehumanization of the Syrian people, the exploitation of their children as cynical props to further the NATO & Gulf state geo-political objectives in the region, the overt and covert endorsement of NATO State-proxy terrorism, the tacit endorsement of economic terrorism via the illegal US/EU sanctions against Syria, all amount to crimes against Humanity and the Syrian people.

The “regime change” push by the Washington/Wall street Consensus is seeing their pyramid of lies being dismantled stone by stone, by the very people they have been claiming to “protect” for almost six years.

The civilians are fleeing their four-year imprisonment in East Aleppo, subjugated by various militant factions, funded by NATO states and led by Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda.  Their words will be sullied by the corporate media reporting and accounting of events, as they desperately try to resuscitate their expiring Aleppo chronicles.

They are saying God bless the army and they send their greetings to the army. They also said that there was no food and water where they were in eastern Aleppo between terrorist groups, they also said that terrorists treated them very badly and that the army helped them get out to safe areas. They also showed very big happiness seeing the interviewer who is a famous war reporter for Syrian official TV.”

The following images were taken of the fleeing civilians in the last 24 hours.

Today, more civilians exited terrorists held areas, and reached to Hanano & Al-Sakhour which are under SAAcontrol.

Sarah Abdallah, analyst and commentator, notes the following:

“Syrian Arab Army’s remarkable east Aleppo advancement continues: Four more districts freed today, including the pivotal region of Sakhour. In the last 48 hours alone, 12 east Aleppo districts have been liberated. From one area to the next, the “moderate” terrorists are melting down. Most important news today though is the SAA’s recapture of the Suleiman al-Halabi Water Pumping Station. The Aleppo water crisis is over! Since 2012, Turkish-backed “jihadists” have withheld water from Aleppo’s residents as a means of blackmailing them into supporting the “revolution”. This has led to unprecedented levels of sickness and malnourishment. But now, the SAA has restored water to more than one million people as it moves ever-closer to freeing Aleppo entirely.

November 30th, 2016|0 Comments

Fidel Castro & Cuba

“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past- 

 They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”

 “I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating… it causes war, hypocrisy and competition”

“The revolution is a dictatorship of the exploited against the exploiters- The revenues of Cuban state-run companies are used exclusively for the benefit of the people, to whom they belong”

“No thieves, no traitors, no interventionists! This time the revolution is for real!”               Fidel Castro



 On the death of Fidel Castro, President Michael D Higgins issued a statement “expressing his great sadness, saying that he will be remembered as a giant among global leaders. His view was not only of freedom for his people, but for all the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet”.

Fidel Castro the 90-year-old iconic leader of the Cuban Revolution was an inspiration to all people struggling against oppression. Having completed the overthrow of Batista, on January 8th 1959 his revolutionaries triumphantly entered Havana. There he delivered his first major speech before tens of thousands of Cuban people at the vanquished dictator’s military headquarters. He inspired his country with strength and symbolism, an inspiration that echoed with all oppressed countries and peoples.


Socialism is a dream of extending democracy over economics, for revolutionaries that means taking existing industries and resources under democratic control to serve the interests of society rather than the few. Many revolutionaries who take power under such ‘Socialist’ slogans quickly adopt to the realities of the existing world order and cut deals with it. Then under a new national – revolutionary flag, they, like the power overthrown enrich themselves and persuade their fellow revolutionaries to become the new police, the new army and maintain the essence of the old order.  They become the guardians of capital.


From the moment it became apparent that Castro Aand his revolutionaries meant what they said, the Washington / Wall Street Consensus, were determined that the revolution must be strangled. In some ways, they unfortunately succeeded.

Socialism is more than just extending democracy over economics, for a socialist state to succeed, its power must come from the bottom up, this democracy must be transparent. The mass of people must feel that power, they must feel ownership of everything and be willing to carry that responsibility. The wealth of their production must be seen to come back to the people. But most of all, for Socialism to work, there must be peace.  Socialism is indeed a delicate flower and delicate flowers are easy to poison.

  • PROGRESS NEEDS PEACE. An emerging socialist state can be stifled by encircling it with an army, threatening it, invading it. Even if the invasion fails, the pressure will force the country to build and maintain a huge standing army. That will bleed the country’s wealth away from schools, hospitals, housing and the welfare of the people and channel it into military hardware and the expense of maintaining an army.
  • If the adjoining state in this case the USA is very powerful and antagonistic to socialism, it can and did strangled it economically, cut it off from international trade. Its products were blocked from being sold on the international markets and vital goods were blocked from entering the country.

In addition to the problem of funding a large standing army, Cuba was forced to become militarised. Such countries, like the army itself must be organised and run in a pyramidal top down command structure, thus effectively undermining the emergence of a socialist democracy.

Every state has an internal opposition, in Cuba’s case it was those who lost their estates and their rights over resources and those who wanted the return of a society where they were free to profit on the labour of others. These external and internal forces who wished for and worked to roll back the revolution were funded and supported by the USA.

After the USA sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion, Fidel Castro survived over 600 attempts by the gangsters of capital to murder him. Despite Castro laughing off these attempts to kill him, internal paranoia grew in proportion to the threat to the state and it leader. These events further stifled the development of socialism and worked to limit democratic expression.

Despite all these trials the Cuban revolution oversaw vast improvements in the provision of basic services throughout the country, such as health care, education, welfare and housing. Unprecedented advances in literacy were made across the island.

The revolution provided military and social aid to struggling countries all over the world and was the first to respond to natural disasters. But most of all, it upheld the dignity of humanity world-wide, it held aloft the possibility, the idea, that a small Caribbean society of 11 million people could exist without being on its knees before the Washington / Wall Street Consensus.

Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution defied the United States for nearly half a century, and survived 11 American presidents One can only hope that the capacity of the Cuban people to resist ‘Americanisation’ can go on until the people of the United States of America and indeed the world come to understand that they too might extend democracy over economics. That they too, might try to build a society not based on the poisonous cocktail of greed and competition, but one where the happiness of society and the dignity of people were paramount.

A book of condolence will be open at the Mansion House to-day to allow people to pay their respects. The book is open from 11am to 4pm on Monday and Tuesday.

November 28th, 2016|0 Comments

President Trump, the good, the bad and the future.

The people of the United States of America, have made their choice. The establishment media, here and world-wide have been rattled, they cannot believe that their confident predictions of an establishment victory did not come to pass. They cannot believe that from a population of 319 million Donald Trump was the chosen one.

Trump came across as a blatantly sectarian, misogynist and divisive racist. Hillary Clinton as a representative of the corrupt Washington establishment on the side of the wealthiest 1% and in the pocket of Wall Street. She was also a dangerous warmonger. Both Hillary and Donald were united by the noxious cocktail of wealth, greed and power in a land where the greediest and most competitive rise to the top, they both did. They were a perfect reflection of a social order that is the advanced capitalism of the United States of America.

Since I was a young man, the military forces of the USA have been killing poorer less armed people world-wide. Any attempt by the people of south America to use their natural or produced wealth for their collective benefit has been destroyed repeatedly by the connivance or direct intervention of these forces. The young men and women of the military acting under illusions of patriotism and freedom have become the rent collectors and the enforcers of the Washington / Wall Street consensus.

When the people of Vietnam wished to established their independence and social system it was not to the liking of Washington or world finance. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was staged to allow a full-scale war against its people. Three million people were murdered in by a wild spree of bombing, machine gunning and the ghastly chemicals produced by Dow and Monsanto. Thankfully, the USA lost this war to a lightly armed but highly motivated people, an unfortunate consequence being the death of 58,000 young men and women of the USA, most of whom were drafted, needed a job or were promised an education, some genuinely believed they were defending freedom and their homeland.

While but pausing briefly to lick its wounds, US imperialism returned to the fray with the destruction of secular governments in Iran and Afghanistan, the wholesale destruction of Iraqi and the killing of a million of its people, the destruction of Libya. The interventions against any government or people particularly in South America, but world-wide who made any attempt to extend democracy over economics.

Are the people of the USA natural born killers? No, they most certainly are not. The economic system of capitalism has been running in the USA since its foundation, born in the blood of its indigenous people and fed on the free wealth of slave labour, it thrived. The flood of millions of diverse hardworking immigrants to its shore boosted its wealth and power. Over time its wealth concentrated in fewer hands.  The theory of capitalism is that the expanding wealth of the few will trickle down through society and all will benefit, for a period when trade unions were strong and a more balanced Keynesian approach was in vogue, a large wealthy middle class emerged.  But as capital further concentrated and the ideas of Milton Friedman began to hold sway, regulation on capital was abolished, this new economic philosophy more than any before looks on all people and the entire world as its field of plunder.

At the same time in poor countries under the domination of the USA, labour – which would not be allowed to organise – could produce food, goods and services at a fraction of the cost that would be the case in the USA. Thus the production core of the US was stripped out and moved abroad for bigger profits. Thus the income and security of the middle class has been falling for forty years. These abandoned blue collar workers voted for Trump. Those who perceived that their wages were undercut by cheaper migrants, voted for Trump. Those who believed that every one would be killed by jihadists, voted for Trump.

The collapse of the USSR signaled the decline of socialist ideas world wide which coincided with the demise of trade union power. The Capitalist powers of  the Unites State combined with Europe and now unopposed, took to war, they needed war. The state collects taxes, persuades its  people there is an enemy, buys billions of dollars worth of killing equipment which makes vast profits for the few and persuades the unemployed they have a duty to their country and can make a living by killing ‘brown’ people somewhere. If there is not a war or an enemy, they will manufacture both.

This plundering and killing instinct emerges not from the people of the United States who like 99% of people in all the world just want to get on with their lives in peace. It emerges from the objective need of the 1% who want their capital to be free to plunder the world at will. Any person or state who stands in the way of that agenda will be vilified, any opposition within those states preferable inane mullahs, will be funded and armed. Internal and external pressure will be applied until the regime is changed – usually in a a bath of blood – to become a kneeling supplicant to the Washington / Wall Street consensus. Over recent years the Clinton’s  had been cheerleaders for such endeavors. When  bewildered and broken veterans returned from the wars, they were discarded. Many of them voted for Trump.

The philosophy of this Washington / Wall-street consensus dominates the media in the USA and effectively controls the collective mind of huge swaths of its people. In an economy driven by the poisonous cocktail of competition and greed, the greediest and the most competitive rise to the top. The people drained of their own self worth sought a leader, a Saviour, they saw that in Donald Trump, they perceived him to be outside the establishment. The establishment which had betrayed them over and over again. While it will not make a great deal of difference who becomes president in the sham democracies of Tweedledum and Tweedledee Dee, as the real power lies in the dictatorship of capital. The President can, however, influence a trend.

How should we respond to this result?  With tears or joy, either would be a bit over the top. From the perspective of the the safety of the world, Hillary, would I believe have been the most dangerous, as she had been focused on another regime change in Syria, one in a chain of regime changes and destruction’s. To that end, she was the most likely to try and ‘take on’ Russia and China. Agreements by the western powers not to expand NATO and its war machine to the borders of Russia were broken. Countries around Russia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Ukraine have been broken, Russia knowing it is next, is nervous. However, these are not the usual ‘brown’ people that Washington kills so easily. They are very capable nuclear powers, and as Putin said recently, (generally unreported); “The last time an army came over our borders we lost 25,000,000 people, it will not happen again, the future war will be fought by men pressing buttons, Russia may be destroyed, but so too will Europe and the United States”. Trump said he would talk with Putin, he would talk with anyone rather go to war. He said the US should withdraw from NATO, if this talking were to come to pass it could set the United States and the world on a safer and saner path.

Trump’s victory will be hard on the liberal heart and soul of the United States, it will encourage racism, sectarianism, sexism and an inward-looking nationalism. But the realities of power and time will mitigate these sentiments. On the economic front, he will ignore the $19 trillion debt and continue to borrow and print money ‘quantitative easing’ and start rebuilding the cities and attempt to drag manufacturing back from abroad, directions that go against all the precepts of the Republican Party. That promise of economic engineering gave him votes, note also, the huge support that Bernie Saunders had in the primaries, he was no great socialist, but had he run instead of Clinton, I believe he would now be president. There is a great deal more linking him to Trump than meets the eye, they were both on the surface at least, anti-establishment.

We in Ireland are adopting the same economic thinking, have growing inequality and have a controlled and timid media. This hides the fact that we are following the economic and social footsteps of the USA.  Perhaps, the outcome of the election and the intellectual desert, ‘The Poverty of Philosophy’ that was shown to be rampant during the election will alert us to its foreboding presence here. Maybe it will galvanise the good people of the USA  and ourselves to take an entirely more progressive path towards a  ‘Republic of Reason’. One way or another, we all live together – but – briefly on this tiny spinning sphere, we have no choice but make the best of what we’ve got and strive for its improvement.

November 7th, 2016|0 Comments