Zero Sums

I am of course grateful to Mick Fealty of Slugger O’Toole for drawing attention to this blog a few days ago. irritated surprised or not at all surprised that he quoted part of bathe blog”A Bad Marching Season Is A Good One”and asked the pointed question “Do All Nationalists Think Whats Good For Us isBad For Them” or whatever.

A few points. First off why ask that question only of nationalists? Well…perhaps to answer my own question, I should emphasise that this was on Slugger O’Toole. And is that so surprising? After all what is good for the Conservative Party isBad for the Labour Party. What is good for American Democrats is bad for Republicans. What is good for Fine Gael is bad for Fianna Fail. It’s science rocket science.

Of course I was blogging about marching seasons. That a “bad” marching season is in fact a good one…for nationalists. Surely in light of Drumcree….this is self evidently the case. The net result of three years of chaos mainly in Portadown was a diminished Orange Order and no Orange Parade ever setting foot on Garvaghy Road again.

In the jargon of Norn Iron, this is called zero sum politics. For some peculiar reason, it is thought to be a bad thing.

We have a Conflict…which has ended without a winner or loser. The Conflict has ended without being “resolved”. No bombings, no shootings….but can we be shocked that the Conflict continues thru Politics.

Is there actually a MATHEMATICAL alternative to Zero Sum politics?

Well there is Splitting the Difference….the arbitrary middle ground between two positions. Is it really morally superior to refuse to look at an issue critically…just go for the middle ground.?

And is the favoured MATHEMATICAL solution of Conflict Resolutionistfind finding the lowest common denominator…on issues such as Flegs so much better?

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19 Responses to Zero Sums

  1. factual says:

    The alternative to zero sum is win-win.

  2. bangordub says:

    Mr Fitz,
    Something has played on my mind over the past few days. I was going to blog on this and indeed had a blog written. I have held off publishing for a number of reasons not least of which was to await the reaction. Apologies if I am off topic but I have to ask the question. The essence of my blog post was:
    There is something of a history of semi retired politicians stirring pots and to some extent pissing off their heirs. I have a lot of time and respect for Brid Rodgers. Why then choose this time to bring up the point of the SDLP adopting an opposition role in Stormont? Is there animosity regarding Patsy McGlone or the party leader? What is to be gained right now by this sudden point of principle by an ex minister in the same legislative structure that she was, herself a part of? It makes no sense to me and I believe she should expand upon it if, indeed, it is not a feint as I suspect it may be.
    If this comment needs further expansion I am happy to publish the full blog

    • bangordub says:

      It appears the deputy leader has tonight backed this position. Is this a challenge to the Leader’s position? Is this an internal putsch or is this a move to undermine Patsy McGlone as it appears to me?

      • Well Dolores has already stated this in a speech at the Party Conference in November 2012. Indeed I have that very speech…autographed by Dolores. Fair to say that Dolores is Brids protégée.

      • factual says:

        Good point FJH. Don’t think this is a leadership putsch, the timing is because its an issue that has been in the news a lot, because John McCallister is promoting the idea.

  3. hoboroad says:

    Just a thought FItz you know the thumbs up thumbs down thing BD has on his great blog any chance of you enabling it on your own blog? It’s been a runaway success on BangorDub’s site. I mean who would have thought SammyMac was so popular!

  4. And, ahem, getting rather self-consciously back to the actual subject of FJH’s post, I wrote up my views on this nearly ten years ago (

    “Gerry Adams, for example, has suggested loyalists should stop ‘trying to work out some kind of obscure notion of Irish Protestant culture’ and embrace Irishness.”

    “Some unionists believe nationalists will change their minds, given a little more effective persuasion. Such notions should be subverted by a simple restatement of the truth. People cannot be reprogrammed or driven away.”

    “There are two communities: a large Protestant one; and a Catholic one only slightly smaller. Both are staying put. The defeat of one by the other is neither possible nor desirable.”

    “Northern Ireland’s dilemma has no end point. The two communities must continue to live together, even though this is unlikely ever to *feel* perfectly comfortable for either side.”

    FJH is perfectly correct in expressing a natural discomfort with the post GFA, post hallucinatory (and psychotic) reality of Northern Ireland. There will be lots more misadventures in trying to accommodate Northern Irish Nationalists to the British state.

    As Gurdjieff famously put it, “Only conscious suffering is of value.”n At the moment too much store is put on the transfer of pain to unionism by the use of ‘feck you’ stratagems like the stuff over the flag.

    But most of these will be doomed to failure until Nationalist comes to terms with the fact that the road of out of ‘Babylon’ will be longer and harder if he refuses to play a leading role in finding common solutions to our problems.

    Far from requiring an end to nationalism/Republicanism, it demands some form of renewal for a new post conflict age of politics.

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