Every now and then some idiot will tell you that schools should stay out of politics and just teach facts. Of course, some time later we’ll have some politicians like John Howard saying the trouble with state schools is that they don’t teach values and he’ll send out a pretty poster of that illegal immigrant Simpson with his donkey listing the values which every school should teach. A few years after that some politician – strangely on the same side as John Howard – will announce that schools shouldn’t be teaching values and that they should stick to the facts and not all this rubbish about equality and rights and…
Anyway, it seems whatever history or values schools teach, you’ll always have someone lamenting that we shouldn’t be teaching this or we should be teaching that, and isn’t it terrible that kids today have never heard of a Petrarchan sonnet, let alone studied one well enough that they can write one instead of all this gangsta rap or whatever kids are into these days and…
So, I’d like to add my voice to all those who say isn’t it a shame and say, “Isn’t it a shame that we don’t learn about the Irish potato famine of 1845 to 1849?”
Of course, when I use the phrase “Irish potato famine”, I’m suggesting that there was a famine that was somehow caused by the Irish or potatoes or something like that but in actual fact what we had was the failure of capitalism in a major way. Or rather, the success of capitalism.
Ok, let me explain. To the Irish, it was the great hunger and a million people died and further million people decided that they’d better move somewhere else so that they could eat. Now, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert here and give you a long history of the potato blight that wiped out crops in Europe and led to problems where farmers relied on a single crop, but there is one point that I think is worth pointing out.
Even as people were starving, potatoes were still being exported because of the various arrangements to do with absentee landlords and rent and…
Ok, I know, I know. We don’t want a black-armband view of Irish history here.
On a completely different topic, isn’t it funny that gas is in short supply but we still have enough to export?
Maybe we could find a way to use potatoes as an energy source… but if we did, we’d probably find that there was a shortage.
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