other day, while inflicting on myself the latest gushings
from Ireland's small crew of "bloggers"
(it can be a dirty job, but someone has to do it),
the following piece of pomposity caught my eye:
bloody Féin, with their standard stale rhetoric
tweaked to suit the occasion. Aonghus Ó Snodaigh,
a Shinner whose thuggish visage I particularly detest,
started his speech in Irish, saying that this was
a great day because the whole island of Ireland
stood together in opposition, and I twitched in
disgust. How dare he hijack this criminal war for
his outmoded, pathetic nationalist ideals?"
ja: West Britain is alive and well. I suppose "West
Britain" is a bit harsh, since our writer doesn't
appear to be Irish. But note how she feels entitled
to lay down the law to us nonetheless. Note as well
that, while it's alright for *some* to comment on
this "criminal war", not least our friend
here, and -- dare I say it? -- even "hijack it"
to serve their own ideological ends, God forbid that
Paddy should even *think* of doing the same. One law
for them, another for us. Same as it ever was in Ireland.
It's our own fault of course, though that doesn't
make it any easier to bear. If this were merely the
rantings of one stranger, it wouldn't be so bad. But
it is symptomatic of the state of modern Ireland,
a place ruled by the will of anonymous foreigners,
whether of the left or right.
the PDs to the SWP, solving Irish problems in an Irish
way has never been less popular. For example, we are
told by leftists that Gerry Adams shouldn't have meet
Mr. Bush in Washington recently (a bizarre mirror-image
of the media spin before the visit, that Mr. Bush
would refuse to shake Adams's hand?). Forget about
the continuing crisis in the peace process, forget
about the US government's important role in same --
Iraq must take precedence over Ireland. Business as
usual. What marks the Irish left and right, brings
them together, is their diminution of and contempt
for the Irish national struggle. The right are quite
happy with overlordship. If it can't be British, then
they'll settle for Washington or Brussels. The left
support Irish resistance only on condition that it
fits into their pre-formed, "made elsewhere"
mould. God forbid that we should go our own way, actually
take the words "Sinn Féin" seriously.
"Ourselves alone", as a slogan, is a damn
sight better than "Neither Washington nor Moscow,
but the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers'
Party (of Britain)".
the political parties merely reflect a broad consensus
in the land. Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of
people in Ireland are now making their voices loudly
heard over a war which they haven't the faintest chance
of averting or affecting the course of. Where were
all these people when there was a war forty miles
up the road, in their own country, which they had
a damn site more chance of affecting? Well, some at
least made their voices heard just as loudly then
-- in condemning the army of the Irish Republic. National
freedom is great, just so long as it's not at home.
Why is this? I think at the root of it is what Malcolm
X called "the slave mind". We can't do anything
without the Master's nod. Everything we have is worthless,
unless the Master finds it of worth. So we sneer and
laugh at Irish nationalism and national ideals, because
to the Master these are meaningless. We dress up like
dee big Boss, wrapping ourselves in his cast-off rags
and his stove-in top hat, making ourselves look ridiculous.
Like a cargo cult, we wait for the hand-outs and the
goodies, inventing little rituals and phrases that
we hope will attract them. And so, opposition to the
invasion of Iraq is legitimised for us by the fact
that there is opposition in America and Britain, in
the lands of the Great White Gods From Across the
are Sinn Féin really all that different? The
irony is that, for all our guest's outrage at "outmoded,
pathetic nationalist ideals", there was precious
little evidence of those ideals to be found in Ó
Snodaigh's utterance. Not only is the rhetoric stale,
but you'd be damned hard-put to it to call it *Republican*
rhetoric. And it's not just him. To judge by their
press releases and party paper, SF is situating itself
as a left social-democratic party, presumably because
that's what wins votes. Its nationalism seems rapidly
to be going the way of that of Fianna Fáil
before it: left in the front parlour for the odd visitor
to look at, not actually used to anything. As you
reap, so shall you sow. If we have no guiding principle,
no definition of Irishness and what it means to be
Irish, if "Irishness" is merely a matter
of lifestyle choice or an accident of birth, then
we shall one day find that "Ireland" is
a nation no longer, but only a geographical expression.
And if what seems is, then for God's sake what was
all the killing about these last thirty years? "Civil
rights"? I'll paraphrase a veteran Republican
(I think it was the late Seán Mac Stiofáin),
and say that "parity of esteem" wasn't worth
killing anyone for. Excuse me if I sound naïve,
but I thought the IRA were fighting for national freedom;
for an Irish Ireland; for a country "united,
Gaelic and free"; and all the rest of the Republican
litany. Has this now been ditched as so much impedimenta?
If so, then SF are indeed heading fast down the slippery
slope to Stickydom, as the likes of Anthony McIntyre
having been telling us for years now.
I remain hopeful. The political process Sinn Féin
has set in motion in the Good Friday agreement is
bigger than that party, bigger than any one party
or all the parties put together. By breaking the log-jam
of the military stalemate, by exposing the bankruptcy
of Unionism and the difficulties of an "internal
settlement", it gives the Irish a chance at building
a new national movement to replace the one destroyed
by Truce and Treaty. If SF don't take up the challenge,
then are there not others who will? For God's sake,
can we not leave aside the great Irish past-time of
knocking a man when he's up, leave Gerry to hob-nob
with the great and good if that's what he wants, and
get on with trying to build this movement? We have
a long ways to go, but the longest journey starts
with a single step.
to get back to the war. Am I not against the war myself
then? Well, indeed I am. I think the sovereignty of
small nations is a principle well worth defending.
It's just that, when I see all this hullabaloo in
the South about the the violation of Iraqi sovereignty,
I wonder why that same principle isn't thought to
be valid at home too. The quotation from our friend
above is the epitome of all that's wrong with the
anti-war movement in Ireland. To quote the same passage
from Paul Mattick yet again (I won't stop until ye've
all memorised it!):
find their inspiration not in the developmental processes
of their own society but in the heroes of popular
revolution in faraway countries, thereby revealing
that their enthusiasm is not as yet a real concern
for decisive social change."
fact, I am perhaps being over-optimistic in presuming
that the violation even of Iraqi sovereignty means
anything to most anti-war campaigners. They seem rather
to adhere to a simple and simple-minded pacifism,
less Wolfe Tone than Boy George: "War is stupid/And
people are stupid...".
to end, a quote found on the weblog of an anonymous
Iraqi (whom I pray is still alive):
West won the world not by the superiority of its
ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority
in applying organised violence. Westerners often
forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
Paddy should take less note of his geographical location,
and more of his history. He might then realise the
import of those words for himself. A true opposition
to this war can only start when we are willing to
stand up for our own national sovereignty as well
as that of others.
Paul Dunne's weblog, The
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