Kevin Myers and postcolonial place names.

Following my recent post about Kevin Myers, I thought I’d share this letter which I wrote in response to this article. It wasn’t published by the Irish Independent. 

 

In his rush to decry ‘PC name-changes’ Kevin Myers makes numerous mistakes. Peking is not the Cantonese name for Beijing but is merely an obsolete transliteration. Beijing is a more accurate rendition of the cities name and has come to be the predominant one in use since its official adoption by the Chinese government following the second Chinese revolution. Mumbai meanwhile, was always known by that name to speakers of the native Marathi language and the name change was an effort to promote Marathi identity within the multi-ethnic nation of India. His criticism of the use of native pronunciation of place names is also misleading as the name of the city of Mumbai officially changed as opposed to cities such as Torino which we Anglophones have merely persisted in calling by the wrong name for so very long. His comparison of the place names such as London and Cologne with those like Mumbai is insulting- Britain and Germany have not been colonized for quite some time whereas India has very recent memories of brutal British control. Besides, if the British or Germans wish to rename their cities then that is their business- I request he extend the same respect to India and China. Mr Myers would do well to research such countries such as India and China to avoid embarrassing himself by writing any more of this vaguely imperialist nonsense in future.

More lies from Kevin Myers.

Its very rare that Kevin Myers writes a column that doesn’t provoke in me a strong desire to send a scathing letter to the editor of the Irish Independent. I usually restrain myself by noting that Myers thrives on controversy- perhaps his proudest achievement was managing to fill the entire letters page with angry responses to his notorious article on foreign aid to Africa (An article since removed from the newspapers website). Sometimes however I simply cannot contain myself, particularly when he makes comments which are simply untrue. In these cases I respond in an effort to correct the lies which Myers is spreading, but I fear that I do it so often that the Irish Independent have grown rather weary of publishing my letters. Therefore I’m going to make do with criticizing him here on this blog, for all the good that will do for anyone.

Kevin’s latest piece of absolute nonsense combines many of his favourite topics. He sets out to criticize the ‘moral secretariat’ who he describes as ‘the left-liberal cultural forces that govern European policy-making today’. As always he takes considerable liberties with the truth. In a rambling and incoherent article he attempts to portray the Third Reich as an example of ‘united socialist Europe’ engaged in a struggle with the rival force of ‘Soviet socialism’. On would think that attempting to taint the left by taking the name of the ‘National Socialist Party’ would grow old but it appears not. Such slander is easily rebutted of course, as the Nazi’s were at all times hostile to any movements with a genuine socialist ethos, and were a party supported primarily by reactionaries and the bourgeoisie. The party was at all times vigorously opposed to Marxism meaning that comparisons with the (allegedly) communist state of the USSR are incorrect.  It is also obvious that the USSR was itself not truly a socialist state as control of the means of production remained in the hands of a minority, whatever the original intentions of the Bolshevik revolutionaries. Kevin also misrepresents the Spanish Civil War as a straight conflict between the Soviets and Fascism, ignoring the many other left-wing groups involved in the struggle who were brutally repressed by the increasing powerful Spanish Communist Party resulting in the disintegration of the revolutionary movement and the loss of international support for the Spanish Republic.

Such historical misrepresentations or blatant lies are par for the course with Myers. What particularly disgusted me about this column however, were his remarks on legalization of male homosexual acts in the Unites States. Apparently the Christian Right ‘warned that legalising homosexual acts would cause a VD epidemic’ and were proven correct ‘as AIDS caused a quarter of a million deaths’. This allegation is not only deeply offensive but also blatantly untrue. Many US states did not legalize homosexual intercourse until the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v Texas.  Also, to view AIDS as a ‘gay plague’ in this manner is a ludicrously outdated notion as it has become evident that the disease is by no means restricted to the gay community. Historical factors brought about a  tragically high rate of deaths from AIDS among gay men in the United States but high rates of infection have also occurred in many predominantly heterosexual communities. Many African states suffering from an AIDS epidemic retain laws banning same-sex relationships which have clearly not aided in preventing the spread of the disease. Once again Kevin Myers has spread obvious lies in an effort to promote his reactionary agenda and proven the Irish Independent to be a sorry excuse for a newspaper.

Tired arguments for JobBridge.

Of all the con-jobs the government has pulled in recent years, I’d have expected JobBridge to be the most blatant and despised. Sadly, this isn’t the case. A lot of reactionary individuals praise the scheme, enthusiastically stating that all the ‘wasters’ should work for their money. It is of course easy to say this when you’re in the privileged position of having a job and do not have to resort to what is essentially unpaid labor for a private company in order to gain some extra money. However, all too many sensible people who should certainly know better, continue to praise the scheme based on faulty arguments. Here are a few of them which I’ve heard on numerous occasions-

‘They’re paying back some of what they’re taking out of taxpayers money’

This argument doesn’t really hold up as, according to the official JobBridge website, 67% percent of JobBridge internships are with private companies. The scheme provides free labour for these companies and actually costs the state fifty euro exta per week for every person who takes part in an internship. You could of course argue that they are paying back ‘society’ as a whole but that’s not really true either as we shall soon see.

‘Internships will help the unemployed gain experience’

This argument may be true for a limited number of internships. Some individuals seeking specialized careers in careers such as law or journalism may indeed benefit from taking part in an internship which will allow them to further their prospects. But many of the companies taking advantage of the JobBridge scheme are large multinationals engaged in blatant exploitation of workers by offering internships which promise little gaining of actual relevant experience. The most notorious example is Tesco who sought to take on two hundred interns for manual labour positions (Irish Times,September 20th, 2011). Such companies are gaining free labour at taxpayer expense. 

‘They will probably be taken on full-time when the internship is over’

Fewer than four hundred people out of seven thousand had been kept on by their employers following a JobBridge, as Joan Burton admitted earlier this year. (Irish Times, May 10th, 2012). 

 

There is one enormous problem with the JobBridge scheme, far more destructive than any I have already mentioned, and one which the schemes supporters seem perfectly happy to ignore entirely. When it is brought up in debate it is almost as if they stick their fingers in their ears until I have finished speaking. This problem is the plain fact that JobBridge does not in any way promote job creation. When companies are being offered free labour, subsidized by the Irish state, why should they seek to create actual paid jobs? I am not merely speaking about such companies as Tesco. Despite my earlier comments about the potential benefits of an internship with a legal practice or newspaper, I still harbour suspicions about their use of the programme. In particular, I have never kept secret my absolute hatred of the legal profession, a group I believe to be a blight on modern society. When one considers the fact that unpaid internships (‘devilling’) are considered an integral part of becoming a qualified barrister it would come as little surprise that they too are abusing the system.Incidentally, I have always thought that ‘devilling’ was a  fine method for the upper classes to retain control of the legal profession by ensuring only those who could support themselves through a year of unpaid work would be able to qualify as a barrister. it would come as little surprise that they too are abusing the system. But I’m digressing on a rant, perhaps one I’ll continue another day. 

In conclusion, I don’t feel that JobBridge can be justified by any sensible person. The only possible honest justification can come from the businessmen who are lining their pockets as we speak. Any other defenses of this exploitative scheme are hollow excuses for such profiteering.