In Conversation with David Langwallner | Cassandra Voices

In Conversation with David Langwallner

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London-based Barrister David Langwallner, the founder of the Innocence Project in Ireland, responds to the latest interview with Edward Snowden.

He distinguishes between private concerns and socio-economic rights; with the latter more urgent than ever during this period of crisis. By comparison, he says, privacy considerations are not essential: ‘the most important human rights are food, shelter and housing.’

Langwallner also addresses the increasingly blurred lines between our real and virtual selves asking: ‘once we have de-humanised social interaction how are we really to know one another?’

He reckons people are over-reacting, ‘in a state of shock,’ and losing all sense of proportion: ‘Yes it is a crisis, but it is a hyper-inflated, neo-liberal world pandemonium that has taken place and the danger is that you lose sight of the bigger picture.’

He fears, ‘they’ll bail out the bankers, but small businesses will be screwed,’ and asks, ‘will the Germans finally step up to the plate?’

Langwallner traces many of our current problems to a technocratic style of governance that has overtaken many institutions, such as the European Union. He says: ‘I don’t like textbook people – they are useless and shouldn’t be in decision-making positions.’

‘What the press should pay attention to,’ he says, is the melting of the largest glacier in Antarctica which could raise ocean levels by five feet.’

As regards the threat of the virus, he reckons more people will die from mental illnesses, as a collective de-humanization occurs. Yet he reserves hope that Boris Johnson’s brush with death could engender a more compassionate conservatism. He hopes that within Britain there is enough of a social democratic consensus, but isn’t so hopeful about Ireland.

Langwallner also revisits his stern criticism of post-modern philosophy which is helping extremists get into power. Neo-liberalism has failed as an idea he says: ‘we require a Keynesian New Deal and prohibition of vulture funds, as well as the introduction of basic income.’

He fulminates against a media that reports on the speech of ‘corporate monsters’ such as Michael O’Leary who has denied climate change.

As regards the forthcoming U.S. Presidential election he urges Americans to support Joe Biden against Trump for the sake of a global consensus on climate change.

Coronavirus is like the symptom of an underlying disease. It is the toxic combination of ecocide and neo-liberalism … If you are very rich you can self-isolate, but most of us have to interact with the public

He closes out with a call for people with an interdisciplinary approach to take control, the abandonment of neo-liberalism, and a radical response to climate change. ‘There is hope, but there is real danger.’

Interviewer: Daniele Idini
Mixing: Massimiliano Galli
Video: Fellipe Lopes

Apologies for the poor sound quality in parts of this conversation. We aim to improve!

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About Author

David Langwallner

David Langwallner is a human rights lawyer and founder of the Innocence Project in Ireland. He was previously Dean of Law at Griffith College. He was made Pro Bono & Public Interest Team/Lawyer of the Year at the AIB Private Banking Irish Law Awards 2015.

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