The Populism Chronicles, Part Two: Croke Park and its Discontents

Cunning Hired Knaves

A large part of Ireland’s imagination appears gripped by the controversy concerning Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park. One hears weeping and gnashing of teeth from people whose dream of seeing Brooks play live may be dashed, and from people who see the dispute as a source of some kind of national shame, or at least profits foregone.

The controversy provides a good opportunity for looking at populism in the Irish context. Last week, using the example of Stephen Collins, I tried to show how populism, in the eyes of the political and media establishments, means an opposition to orthodox good sense and prudence in economic management that is expressed through appeals to collective passions. As I also tried to show, this orthodox good sense and prudence, which dictates that saving the financial sector is a precondition for any other political action, must hold sway against popular strivings and…

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