dear! What an intelligent article, I thought, as I
started to read OBradaigh versus Adams:
Classicism versus Historical Consciousness by
Father Sean McManus (The
Blanket 14 January 2003). Then, CRASH, straight
down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.
views reality in terms of the immutable, the never
changing. It uses the deductive method of reasoning:
from the universal to the particular. This is best
illustrated by the following syllogism, which was
taught in Scholastic logic to every student for the
priesthood, up to the mid 60s: All human beings
are rational. Seamus is a human being. Ergo (therefore)
Seamus is rational. Classicism uses the DEDUCTIVE
METHOD of reasoning. It seeks conclusions that are
always true, in all situations: If it was true in
1962, it is true in 2002.
Historical consciousness uses the INDUCTIVE METHOD
of reasoning: from the particular to the universal.
The conclusions it reaches (from the ground up, so
to speak) will be based on changing circumstances
As he has given us one syllogism I will offer another.
All republicans are Catholics. Seamus is a Catholic.
Ergo, Seamus is a republican. Actually Seamus
might be a member of the NI Police Service, or would
like to be but is afraid that republicans will murder
him, or his family. Or he might be a member of what
the Shinners term the Stoop Down Low Party
has struck me, over the years, that this is also the
best way to understand the shift in Irish republicanism
- as typified by Ruari OBradaigh (classicism),
former president of Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams (historical
consciousness), current Sinn Fein president.
Adams can be seen as the leader of the new
theologians (historical consciousness).
Is that so? When the IRA and Sinn Fein split into
the Provisionals and the Officials, OBradaigh
and Adams were in the Provos. Using Father McManuss
terminology, the Provos were the Classicists
and the Officials were in the Historical Consciousness
camp. And we know what the Provos thought of the Sticks.
McManus further illustrates what he means by classicists.
So for example, the classicist will argue English
rule was the problem in 1962. There is still English
rule on the island of Ireland in 2002. Therefore nothing
has changed. If we believe McManus, Gerry Adams
belongs to the historical consciousness
school of thought. It follows from this reasoning
that Gerry Adams no longer believes that English rule
is still the problem. In other words Gerry now lives
in the land of the Sticks.
McManus understands why Ruari OBradaigh belongs
to classicism, and Adams to historical
consciousness. Location, location, location.
Before and since that time, OBradaigh
has lived in the South of Ireland. Adams, on the other
hand, has lived all his life in Belfast.
Ergo, Adams knows what he is talking about and OBradaigh
doesnt. Which leaves us wondering about Father
McManus who lives in the USA, not to mention John
Stevenson, the John Stevenson who was born in London
to an English father and an Irish mother, brought
up in England, moved to Ireland after a spell in the
RAF, changed his name to Sean MacStiophan and became
the C/O of the Provisional IRA. On the Fathers
reasoning John, or Sean, didnt know what he
was talking about either.
Trimble too, despite living in Northern Ireland, is
also a classicist. After the Good
Friday Agreement was signed, David Trimble declared,
Nothing has changed, the Union is safe.
Which brings us to the proverbial question. Which
do you want first, the good news or the bad news?
else (wonders the philosopher father) are the Unionist
Parties/Unionist Paramilitaries trying to force the
IRA into breaking its cease-fire?
Now why would Unionists want to do that? The impression
they give is that they want the IRA cease-fire to
be made permanent. Instead of enlightening us with
the answer to his own question, Father Sean McManus,
armed with historical consciousness, then
goes on about Cuba. Perhaps he suddenly realised that
the problem was that the English (British) reigned
but did not rule. They left ruling to Unionists. If
they had carried out their obligations to the people
of Northern Ireland there would have been no need
for the campaign for civil rights which preceded the
emergence of the Provisional IRA.
To demonstrate his grasp of the subject he adds a
final flourish. If Ed Moloney had understood
these matters better he might have written a real
history of the IRA
Our Father who art in Washington, for gods sake
stay there and read some books on straight and crooked
thinking. And dont even think about criticising
Ed Moloney, (who lived in Northern Ireland until fear
of the Provos taking revenge for his book caused him
to move to the US), before you do.
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