Saturday, March 25, 2023

Changing Society: Nature, Life, and Resistance in Culture Today

Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) and White Tiger (2021)   (Spoiler alert)

Book cover of The White Tiger (2008)

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free

― Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe,  (Elective Affinities, Die Wahlverwandtschaften, 1809)

What kind of culture do we want? What kind of culture do we need? Our culture reflects our fundamental ideologies and these ideologies are rooted in patriarchal religion and neoliberal politics in the main.

It's a culture that depicts the class system, war, and in general, people dealing with the system in its many different facets, through drama, adventure, comedy, terror, horror, etc.

The origins of our culture are thought to go back thousands of years when, for example, (in the ideas of James DeMeo) "climatic changes caused drought, desertification and famine in North Africa, the Near East, and Central Asia (collectively Saharasia) and this trauma caused the development of patriarchal, authoritarian and violent characteristics" about six thousand years ago.  

The coming of the Kurgan peoples across Europe from c. 4000 to 1000 BC is believed to have been a tumultuous and disastrous time for the peoples of Old Europe. The Old European culture is believed to have centred around nature-based pagan ideologies.

Some believe the rise of patriarchy was due to the sexual division of labour about 2 million years ago, while others believe it was due to the later development of agriculture and private property.

Christ as Martyr and Master
Jan van Eyck (before c. 1390 – 9 July 1441)
Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych, c. 1430–1440.

However, these changes led to the growth of patriarchal religions that underpinned the ambitions of warring rulers, for example:

"In Christianity the rulers had a religion that assured their objectives. The warring adventurism of the new rulers needed soldiers for their campaigns and slaves to produce their food and mine their metals for their armaments and wealth. Thus, Christ was portrayed as Martyr and Master. In his own crucifixion as Martyr he provided a brave example to the soldiers, and as Master he would reward or punish the slaves according to how well they had behaved."

The privatisation of property, extractivism, the necessity for food-producing slaves and a warrior class sustained and further extended the aims of elites throughout feudalism and capitalism up to the wars of today, and who are now competing for power and resources on a global scale. The terminology has changed but the fundamentals have not.

The exploitation of nature continues unabated with the ongoing destruction of the Amazon and wildlife, the global and mass use and abuse of animals, transnational polluting industries, chemical-driven industrial crop land, and factory ship over-fishing emptying our seas. The wars have also gotten greater with two world wars in the twentieth century and a third one hanging over our heads constantly threatening our very existence. The elites are a smaller group of people now but control ever-growing global monopolies.

Thus, looking at culture in general from this perspective, there are two important aspects of modern culture: the destruction of nature combined with death (war) and a culture of slavery (escapism, diversion, etc.).

The antithesis of these two aspects are respect for nature and life, and resistance to slavery in all of its forms. While we are surrounded by the culture of war and escapism, it is not easy to find an oppositional culture.

Yet it does exist, and two good recent examples are the Korean TV series Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) (pro-nature), and White Tiger (2021) (anti-slavery), a film based on an adaptation of Aravind Adiga's 2008 novel of the same name. These two fine dramas show us that alternatives to the current system and ideology can be produced.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”
― William Drummond  (Academical Questions, 1805)

Nature and life - Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)

Extraordinary Attorney Woo is the story of Woo Young-woo, an autistic lawyer who is raised by her single father. She finds it difficult to get a job despite graduating with the highest distinction. However, she eventually gets a job in a top Seoul law firm, Hanbada, using her father's connections. Over time she learns to become an excellent lawyer and her colleagues grow to respect her. The series becomes a platform for progressive social, political, environmental and ethical issues fought out through the courts. Furthermore, the environmental theme is highlighted by her love of whales and dolphins especially when she "analogizes situations she faces in her professional and private life with the lives and characteristics of whales and dolphins [that] often surprises and confounds the people who surround her."

Promotional poster for Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)
By Naver, Fair use.
These situations are often combined with beautiful, if surreal, photography of whales swimming past windows or combined with court scenes. Woo is also seen demonstrating with a colleague against the treatment of dolphins in a local aquarium.

However, Attorney Woo's fellow rookie colleague, Kwon Min-woo, approaches their supervising lawyer Jung Myung-seok, angry at her sometimes unorthodox behaviour which he feels she is getting away with because of her disability. Jung Myung-seok reacts in a slightly annoyed tone:

"Attorney Kwon, you must really like penalties. [...] When you experience a difference of opinion or a conflict at work, you need to talk with your colleagues and solve it.  Giving rewards or punishment over who is right or wrong for every single thing, that's not like how I like to work."

Here Myung-seok advises that conflict in life must be resolved through discussion, not by 'giving rewards or penalties', moving away from the authoritarian methods of the master.  

Attorney Woo naturally reacts to selfishness, corruption and discrimination but she gradually learns that the pursuit of truth is a difficult path to carve out. Apart from Woo being a symbol of logic and reasoning in the service of truth, her connection with nature is direct and not mediated by a negative, consumer-orientated culture.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
― Henry David Thoreau (from his journals, 1847)

Resistance to slavery - White Tiger (2021)

White Tiger tells the story of Balram Halwai who relates the ups and downs of his life in a letter to Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. Balram was an intelligent young boy in an isolated village who aspires to work as a chauffeur for the son of the rich village landowner, Ashok, who has just returned from America with his American-Indian wife, Pinky. Ashok and Pinky go to Delhi to bribe politicians to reduce his family's taxes and Balram joins them as their driver. Although they have liberal ideas about their servants, as soon as things turn bad they treat him like any other wealthy, entitled masters. Balram is asked to drive Ashok with a huge sum of money for a bribe and then decides to escape his servitude by murdering Ashok and stealing the money to make a better life for himself. He then sets up a taxi company in a different city where he treats his drivers well and helps them when they get into the kind of troubles he experienced himself as a servant.

Promotional poster for White Tiger (2021)

Balram believes "that the Indian underclass is trapped in a perpetual state of servitude, like chickens in a chicken coop."

He states that "The greatest thing to come out of this country in its ten thousand year history: The Rooster Coop. They can see and smell the blood. They know they’re next. Yet they don’t rebel, they don’t try and get out of the coop." He asks why the workers are so honest in their relations with their masters. "Why? Because Indians are the world’s most honest and spiritual people? No. It’s because 99.9 percent of us are caught in the Rooster Coop. The trustworthiness of servants is so strong that you can put the key of emancipation in a man’s hand and he will throw it back at you with a curse." He describes the main problem of Indian society: "In the old days, when India was the richest nation on earth, there were one thousand castes and destinies. These days, there are just two castes: Men with Big Bellies and Men with Small Bellies."

The writer of the original novel (The White Tiger, p254, 2008) Aravind Adiga, noted in the novel that:

"I won't be saying anything new if I say that the history of the world is the history of a ten-thousand-year war of brains between the rich and the poor. Each side is eternally trying to hoodwink the other side: and it has been this way since the start of time. The poor win a few battles (the peeing in the potted plants, the kicking of the pet dogs, etc.) but of course the rich have won the war for ten thousand years."

Balram's escape from slavery, his resistance to the master, comes with tragedy as his extended family is murdered by the village landlord. He believes that he is a White Tiger, a symbol of freedom, because he escaped slavery and ultimately encourages his own employees to do the same:
(monologue and description from the screenplay)

"Balram speaks directly to his Drivers as he gathers them and brings them outside to the front of his business.
BALRAM - Now, what happens in your typical Hindi film about murder? A poor man kills a rich man and then gets nightmares of the dead man pursuing him screaming: “Murderer! Shame!” It doesn’t happen like that. The real nightmare is the other kind - where you didn’t do it, that you didn’t kill your master, that you
lost your nerve, and that you’re still a servant to another man. But then you wake up, the sweating
stops, your heartbeat slows. The nightmare is over. You did do it. You killed your master.
Balram steps away from them and speaks directly into the camera:
BALRAM (TO CAMERA) - I have switched sides. I’ve made it. I’ve broken out of the coop.
He exits frame, leaving a wall of drivers, servants, perhaps new White Tigers, ready to strike, confronting the camera, confronting the audience..."

Balram takes chances and resists slavery. He may be wealthy now but he does not feel part of the wealthy class. He has broken out of the coop and 'switched sides', and he has no problem enlightening and even encouraging his drivers to do the same. In a way he plays the rich at their own game: using their tactics of murder and disloyalty to escape from their binds.

“Happy slaves are the bitterest enemies of freedom.”
― Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (Aphorisms, 1880/1893)
 Of diets and glaciers

Given the current state of the political and financial crises of late capitalism. i.e., the possibility of an all-out global war and the worsening destruction of the environment (upon which our sustenance is based), the constant re-examination of our culture is of utmost importance. For many people the movement for change seems glacial and leads them to live out their lives on the cultural diet created mainly by producers whose primary motive is profit, not social and political change.

However, the illusion of peace and freedom created by this timeless culture is situated in real historical conditions that are constantly changing. Over time and with different forces underneath, even the slowest of glaciers can suddenly break apart and form cracks. The greatest aspiration of cultural producers today would be to show that happiness does not consist in diversion from worry but in confronting the sources of our current ills instead, and to remember what Leonard Cohen wrote, "Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in."

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Every St Patrick's Day, Everywhere, All at Once: A Disaster for Ireland

March 17 is traditionally St Patrick's Day, a day when 'Irishness' is celebrated all over the world. This date is traditionally held to be the date of the death of St Patrick  (c. 385 – c. 461), the patron saint of Ireland. It is marked by parades through the main cities and towns of Ireland, and in recent years it has become popular as a festival around the world with famous buildings being lit up green and major rivers being dyed green.

However, in recent decades the symbolism of St Patrick's Day has changed dramatically and promotes negative stereotypes (e.g. leprechauns) of the Irish people to a world audience. This is not good for Ireland or the Irish people.

It must also be noted that St Patrick is seen as the patron saint of Ireland because he defeated pagan ideology in favour of Christianity. However, pagan ideology had a strong connection with nature and the cycles of nature that resulted in seasonal festivals such as Beltaine (1 May), Lughnasadh (1 August), Samhain (1 November) and Imbolc (1 February).

Patrick banishing the snakes

St Patrick

Not a lot is known about Saint Patrick except he is believed to have been a Romano-British Christian missionary who was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland as a slave. After six years as a shepherd he went home and became a priest. He then returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. He is famously believed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland despite the fact there is no record that Ireland ever had snakes.

It is more likely that the snakes refer to the pagans themselves:

"Scholars suggest the tale is allegorical. Serpents are symbols of evil in the Judeo-Christian tradition—the Bible, for example, portrays a snake as the hissing agent of Adam and Eve's fall from grace. The animals were also linked to heathen practices—so St. Patrick's dramatic act of snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence."

It is believed that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. It is also believed that the date is suspiciously close to Ostara, a pagan holiday:

"It wasn’t arbitrary that the day honoring Saint Patrick was placed on the 17th of March. The festival was designed to coincide, and, it was hoped, to replace the Pagan holiday known as Ostara; the second spring festival which occurs each year, which celebrates the rebirth of nature, the balance of the universe when the day and night are equal in length, and which takes place at the Spring Equinox (March 22nd this year). In other words, Saint Patrick’s Day is yet another Christian replacement for a much older, ancient Pagan holiday; although generally speaking Ostara was most prominently replaced by the Christian celebration of Easter (the eggs and the bunny come from Ostara traditions, and the name “Easter” comes from the Pagan goddess Eostre)."

St Patrick's Day Parade

As a child I remember being brought to the parade and seeing a very dignified parade of marching pipe bands and symbols of the Irish state and nation such as the Irish army. By the 1980s it had been reduced to low levels of commercialisation (such as multiple floats advertising a major security firm). Later, the influence of Macnas took over and a kind of Celtic primitivism became very influential.

St Patrick's Day, Downpatrick, March 2011

The commercialism of the St Patrick's Day Parade also resulted in Irish people dressing up as red-bearded and green-hatted leprechauns:

"Films, television cartoons and advertising have popularised a specific image of leprechauns which bears little resemblance to anything found in the cycles of Irish folklore. It has been argued that the popularised image of a leprechaun is little more than a series of stereotypes based on derogatory 19th-century caricatures."

Along with this negative stereotype came a change in terminology as St Patrick's day became known as Paddy's Day, a derogatory term for Irish people (Paddy). The festival has become an excuse for all-day drinking and riotous behaviour, feeding into the negative stereotypes of 'drunken paddys'.

St. Patrick Parade, Fifth Ave., New York 1909

In a way the St Patrick's Day parade of recent years does symbolise the Ireland of today just as the content of past parades represented the prevalent ideologies of their day too. The colorful, brash, internationalism of the parade now is similar to other major festivals around the world (such as Brazilian Carnival) and, similarly, has more of a feeling of public catharsis than a celebration of national identity.

The kind of drinking and self-mocking celebrated now on St Patrick's Day has more in common with the work of the Roman satirical poet, Juvenal (c. 100 CE), who wrote that "the People have abdicated our duties [and] now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses."  Public palliatives for societal woes only temporarily cover up the real problems facing Irish people today as the housing, energy and financial crises deepen.

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. This is what is really needed now, the rebirth of the politics of social justice, and the renewal of our deep connection with nature and life - a movement away from the theology of death.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.

He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Dubai Superlatives: The Power of Excessive Wealt

Questions From a Worker Who Reads (Bertolt Brecht 1935)

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ?
And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ?
In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?

Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

Maybe the closest we can get to Elon Musk's vision of Mars is a visit to Dubai. Imagine an alien planet where you can only live in the base settlement with a breathable atmosphere: a comfortable place and a comfortable temperature.

In the hottest months of the year in Dubai, temperatures rise to 50 degrees so people move from air-conditioned apartments to air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices to air-conditioned shopping malls.

Of course, they are very nice cars, apartments, offices and shopping malls. Dubai deals in expensive property and large scales: the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (829.8m, 2,722ft), the tallest hotel in the world under construction (Ciel), and the foundations laid for the tallest construction in the world - the Dubai Creek observation tower which will be 1.3km (1,300m, 4,300ft) high.

Workers gardening near Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

This should keep Dubai on the superlative lists into the next decade. Here the hierarchies of height determine your wealth. For example, the entrance to the Burj Khalifa is a luxurious shopping mall which also contains a massive food hall for the workers, servers and shop workers. The more money you have to spend, the higher up the Burj Khalifa you can go. The extremes of wealth mean that it is likely that most of the people who work in the mall have never been up the lifts into the stratospheric heights of the tallest building in the world. While many eat in the cheap food mall at the base, only a few have tea and coffee in the lounge and outdoor observation deck on the 148th floor (named At the Top) which is so high that it is more like looking down on Dubai from a plane than from a building. This contrast is certainly symbolic of the incredible extremes of wealth that exist in Dubai.

Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?
Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ?
Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?

I read a comment somewhere that if Dubai were described as a book then the front cover would be Cosmopolitan Magazine and the inside would be The Big Issue (homeless magazine). Starting life as a poor village in the desert beside the sea, Dubai has come on in leaps and bounds ever since. For example,"in 1822, a British naval surveyor noted that Dubai was at that time populated with a thousand people living in an oval-shaped town surrounded by a mud wall, scattered with goats and camels." By the 1930s Dubai was known for its pearl exports but "the pearl trade was damaged irreparably by the 1929 Great Depression and the innovation of cultured pearls. With the collapse of the pearling industry, Dubai fell into a deep depression and many residents lived in poverty or migrated to other parts of the Persian Gulf." However, oil was struck in 1966 and this all changed. While Dubai had already started a period of infrastructural development and expansion in the 1950s based on revenue from trading activities (such as the trade in gold), the discovery of oil offshore set the tone for a new rapid growth in building projects during the 1970s.

This growth was fueled by revenues from oil and gold but depended mainly on cheap labour from developing countries. The treatment of the many thousands of workers in Dubai has been the subject of many reports and documentaries, such as Human Rights Watch (living conditions  described as being "less than humane") and the documentary, Slaves of Dubai (2009).

In an article titled  "What is Modern Slavery in Dubai and How Does it Affect You?" it is stated:

"More than 88.5% of UAE residents are foreign workers, with South Asian migrants constituting 42.5% of the UAE’s workforce. [...] These migrants, usually illiterate and from impoverished, rural communities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh [...] Eager to move to Dubai and begin earning money that they can send home to their families, they take out loans of up to $3000 from unscrupulous recruitment agencies to pay the exorbitant ‘visa fees’ (which is actually illegal – the recruitment agencies are supposed to cover these fees) and board flights to Dubai, excited for a new life in the glitzy Emirate. When they touch down in Dubai, however, it’s a different story. Driven to squalid shanty towns on the outskirts of Dubai, where 45 men share one outdoor bathroom and 10 or more people sleep in a room, their passports are confiscated and they are told that they will actually be working 14 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week, in the desert sun."

The cramped living conditions and low wages has led to high suicide rates too.

City Centre Deira, mall worker, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

The International Institute for Global Strategic Analysis has reported that the kafala sponsorship system has played an important part in the exploitation of workers:

"Kafala is a system popular in Gulf countries that gives private citizens and companies responsibility and oversight over workers. The kafala sponsorship system is used to monitor migrant labourers, working primarily in the construction and domestic sectors in Gulf Cooperation Council member states. The kafala system involves withholding labourers’ passports to regulate their residency and employment, which gives employers near-total control over migrant workers’ salary, living conditions, nutrition, ability to work elsewhere, and even their ability to return home."

The treatment of citizens is very different to the situation for expatriate workers:

"It is estimated that in 2018, there were seven million workers in the UAE alone. Over 90 per cent of the private-sector labour force is comprised of expatriates while UAE nationals continue to be employed in stable and relatively well-paying jobs in the country’s vast public sector. Although citizens face restrictions on their human rights, the state offers them a wide range of social benefits, including generous housing benefits, access to free education and medical services, preferential treatment in the workforce and higher salaries."

It was also reported that "domestic workers are exposed to multiple forms of exploitation and violence, including sexual, physical and psychological abuse".

Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ?
Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.
The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ?
Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ?

The conditions for workers and the rapid building growth and expansion of Dubai is tied in with tourism as many projects are dependent on sales to foreign tourists and investors. However, many apartments are also sold off the plans, and then resold upon completion without the investor even visiting Dubai. Every shopping mall has selling points with sophisticated screens using 3D maps of Dubai and the properties for sale. The sales assistants are usually from Eastern Europe. There is no shortage of potential customers as Dubai has become one of the "world's leading tourism destinations" and tourism is now one of Dubai's main sources of revenue. The city "hosted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016" and "in 2018, Dubai was the fourth most-visited city in the world based on the number of international visitors."

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?  
Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ?
Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?
Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ?

Workers districts
By far the most interesting areas of Dubai are the areas where the workers themselves live, work, and shop. Deira, for example, is a historic district where the population consists mainly of Pakistan and India natives. Deira has many markets: Murshid Souk, Spice Souk, Deira Covered Souk, and Gold Souk. There are leather shops, shoe shops, supermarkets, barbers, butchers, cafes and family restaurants with dining areas on the city pavements. Compared to the soulless atmosphere of the wealthier districts, Deira is full of life with friendly shop assistants and large groups of African, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers and their families enjoying the convivial atmosphere of the restaurants indoors and outdoors.

Deira, Creek, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

So many reports.  
So many questions.

The Future of Dubai
There is no doubt that Dubai is the creation of a particular set of circumstances economically, geographically and geopolitically. It has made good use of its central position in relation to Europe, Africa and Asia as a cosmopolitan meeting point for international trade and travel. Dubai has benefitted from the UAE's diplomatic moves to play down differences regionally:

"The UAE is revisiting its foreign policy goals with the aim of boosting its global trade partnerships and ensuring its security and political stability, by replacing robust military intervention and proxy politics with dialogue and diplomacy.[...] Differences between the UAE on the one hand and Iran, Turkey, and Qatar on the other remain strong. However, the UAE is beginning to realize that the lack of a healthy bilateral dialogue with regional powers will make progress towards de-escalation much harder. The country acknowledges, after a decade of regional conflict and proxy politics, that the divergent policies of regional players should not prevent diplomatic cooperation."

However in an era of rising temperatures and rising seas, it must be asked how much hotter can Dubai get, and how will this coastal city deal with erosion and flooding? The continued existence of Dubai is dependent on heavy power consumption to maintain air conditioning, trains and services for very large buildings, many more of which are being planned at the moment for future development.

Deira, Creek, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

Even the locals have always had an uncomfortable feeling about the future of Dubai. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (ruler from 1958 till 1990) is believed to have said: "My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel".

One cannot help but feel that a major collapse of oil prices and/or the economies of the West will have a profound effect on the future of Dubai. As the quote (with as obscure an origin as Dubai itself) that 'the Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stones' has noted, new technologies will substantially decrease our reliance on fossil fuels in the future. All these potential changes do not augur well for the future of Dubai's dependence on trade in tourism, oil and gold. If Dubai is ultimately an unsustainable vanity project instigated by a tiny minority of the super rich, as some believe, then the city could be deserted (in more ways than one), and Dubai itself could become the largest open-air museum in the world.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.