I was never really been convinced by the argument that The Internet will change Politics.
While I still think that firm believers in the New Technology are over-selling the importance, my own assessment that the Internet will be as influential an invention as the Hula Hoop….that might be wrong.
Of course it is true that the Printing Press changed History.
The Reformation was perhaps a direct result.
Literacy. An opening up of Discourse.
And breaking the monopoly of the Church on “books”.
Of course it is obvious that the Internet has broken the monopoly of Newspapers and other Media but has it really changed or is it really changing Politics itself?
For at least five years now, we have been told that “this” election will be fought on the Internet…and the advance of Facebook and Twitter seems to make that more likely.
But that really only supports my point that BLOGGING is not nearly as important as BLOGGERS seem to think.
The Blogger likes to think he is putting forward some kind of reasonable argument.
But Facebook and Twitter is where it is really at. Thats where REAL Internet Politics is.And YouTube and Photoshop.
Not particularly coherent and reasonable but Facebook one liners and Twitters 140 characters is actually much more significant than any Blog.
Politics is held to ridicule. Just look at the viral videos on YouTube.
All good photo-shopped fun.
Which brings me to the current state of unionist politics.
It all seems very good natured at the new party NI21. Basil McCrea and John McCallister seem like genuinely nice guys and seem to have surrounded themselves with even more nice guys and girls but something about them lacks gravitas. They put the “Party” into “Party”.
Recent GOOD performances by Mike Nesbitt of UUP seem to suggest that he is trying to disconnect himself from the worst elements of loyalism. Mike Nesbitt is far too sophisticated and too educated to want anything to do with the types of loyalist who wrap themselves in flags and shout “No Surrender”.
On the other hand, Peter Robinson has spent almost his entire adult life in a senior role in a political Party…the DUP…which has flirted with street politics and protest politics.
The DUP grew out of Ian Paisleys Free Presbyterian Church and in 2013, its dominance means that it has two wings….one which is Religious and the other Secular.
It has a nasty streak.
There is an element that plays to the Mob. And it all makes Robinsons half-hearted attempts to reach out to Catholic voters risible.
It has used the Mob …and now the Mob in Royal Avenue has become leaderless.
Sectarianism has been used by Unionism. Its their Dirty Little Secret.
The fact that the Mob cannot be controlled is testimony to the lack of leadership.
Shouting sectarian slogans on the Shankill Road is normal behaviour. Going into the city centre is somehow different.
But I am thinking that this street theatre is taking place LITERALLY on the streets.
And also being played out in the figurative street of the Internet….Facebook and the like.
There is a battle being played out on the Internet.
The vilest sectarian abuse, dressed up as loyalist CULTURE!!! has been appearing on Facebook for months. “Shared” postings reveal the old truth that racists and sectarian people are of course incredibly stupid. Respectable unionists have walked away.
I think all Republicans like to see loyalists make themselves look stupid.
Happily for Republicans, the advent of camera-phones means that loyalists love to record themselves looking like idiots.
And Republicans happily share and photo-shop the Stupidity.
We all enjoy the Loyalists Against Democracy Facebook Page.
It is a parody.
Loyalists photoshopped to look even more stupid.
Screen-prints of the HateSpeak on loyalist websites.
The Camera is not kind to loyalists.
The Internet is not kind to loyalists.
Barely 24 Hours after the Royal Avenue Riot, a video from LAD appears on YouTube.
“We Didnt Start The Riot” is a classic.
It begs the question.
Is there a Parity of Culture? Is Nationalism actually more cultured in terms of Music, Art, Drama, Poetry and Internet than the dour Ulster-Scots?
The Loyalist mob complain that they are disenfranchised (they are not), marginalised (certainly…but at least in part, they marginalise themselves).
Leaving aside the complexity of compromise between Nationalist and Unionist, Justice with Injustice….perhaps the greatest challenge is to facilitate Intelligence and Stupidity.
In the interests of a better Society, would it not be better to marginalise the sectarian mob even more?
What is the extent of our obligation to facilitate Stupidity to make a “shared future” theme park.
All political movements can deal with CRITICISM.
Few withstand RIDICULE.
Is it not simply a case where our patience is exhausted and we are entitled to heap as much RIDICULE and CONTEMPT on loyalist culture as we possibly can?
This might not be the high-minded Internet Politics of Citizen Journalists in which Bloggers believe. But it is REALITY.