Let’s be honest about Oil and Human Rights.

It's our oil too.

It's our oil too.

There’s a standard whinge that goes around about how the West doesn’t really care about human rights as much as it cares about oil. It’s true. We don’t, and we should at least admit it. And when I say we, by the way, I’m talking about the Irish and the Americans and the rest of the western world.

Because, you see, there’s the big ugly wart at the heart of western democratic society, the one that makes Roger Cole and Richard Boyd Barrett cry. That, given a choice between cheap oil in steady supply, and human rights in some faraway country, western working families will quietly slip into the polling booth and vote for the “Keep bombing and keep that oil flowing” party.

Don’t believe me? Just look at how non-existent Shannon has been in the last two general elections. If the Irish people had to choose between NATO membership and a sharp rise in oil prices, if we had to deploy troops to secure our share of the global oil supply, we’d do it. After all, even RBB needs to use the bus to get to demos. 

2 thoughts on “Let’s be honest about Oil and Human Rights.

  1. My point, I suppose, is that given a concrete choice between real suffering (ie, oil rationing caused by refusing oil supplies from countries with poor human rights records) and the status quo I believe most Irish people will tacitly accept oil from torturers. Yes, we’ll have some Iraq style demos, but as Shannon proved, it does not amount to a hill of beans. The US is still using Shannon, and Government policy remains the same “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” policy as under FF.

  2. *shrugs* Maybe.

    I don’t think people make a conscious choice, or at least not an informed one. Make human rights in a far away place a less abstract thing, or get more coverage, and people tend to do better. Look at the march against the Iraq War in Dublin, or just people giving money to charities anywhere.

    People are prepared to give a shit, it just has to be a bit more real.

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