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Unhealthy Scepticism In The North

9.26.2005

I
There are, quite necessarily two parts to this post. The first is to herald the current but soon to be old news of official disarmament of the IRA. Statements this afternoon from De Chastellain and the decommissioning body, confirmed what had been apparent for some time to those close or even even moderately aware of actions within the movement.
I am however, only moderately immersed in the fact at the moment and without doubt the volume of stuff over at slugger (1, 2, 3, 4, and on and on )and the quality is well worth spending some time over in order to get some idea of where we appear to be at.
II
Which brings me to the second part of the post, I am struck by the contribution of Michael McDowell on The Last Word and DUP MLA Gregory Campbell on The Right Hook. Since the time of the classic philosophers, scepticism has been a constant thorn in the side of public discourse. The contribution of Scepticism in promoting better and tighter arguments is clear in the statement "healthy scepticism". Yet up north it seems that the role of scepticism has begun to move from promoting clearer and better knowledge and better means of discourse (a la Hume and Descartes).
The north has taken scepticism and turned it a sickly shade of consitpated. Ian Paisley Jr, in the background here on The Last Word is underwhelmed, the IRA have failed the 'sincerity test'. As if provided from above, the very real example of the strangulation of progress through debilitating scepticism is here on our radio.
Plato made a famous, in my view, coherent argument that scepticism is self-refuting by nature of its scepticism about truth.
This paradox exists up north equally, we have a scepticism about what we know (The DUP's belt and breeches approach, photos and Clergymen) and scepticism about what can be known (We dont even know how much weaponary they have).
Now we have reached a point where the only answer to sceptic questions is deeper and more damaging scepticism.
The point is that it is making little or no material benefit to the current political process, well it doesnt, its not supposed to rather its a ploy to hinder progress behind the search for unassailable and irrefutible truth.
In politics, such truth is rarely forthcoming in stable societies let alone one as divided as the north. The dead end that is the search for total truth, will paralyse the process if it is allowed to do so.
So Reg Empeys willingness to move toward the decomissioning as a positive note sparks the opportunity for a renewal of working politics. The DUPs position is unsustainable both politically in a north screaming for leadership and progress and philosophically as a destructive and crude attempt at hollow logical premises.
The responses of Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are constructive in the extreme, is the General and are the clergy independent? Well who knows? The point is that the volume of evidence before our eyes supports the thesis that the IRA has moved into its new phase.
Past crimes must be dealt with in new and non-traditional forums.
How do we know they destroyed it all?
WE DONT. The next step, like all major steps in politics, is one based on faith. Clinton let Adams into the U.S. on faith in reynolds' word. All of the northern movement toward peace is a step of faith.
So without grounding in reason, pure and simple, we must call for ends to unhealthy and indefensible scepticism, acceptance of need to forge a new reality and progressive in our attitudes. The Military Guard is gone. Significant it is. Get on with the jobs you were elected to carry out boys.
RR
Those looking for some excellent debate, here.

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