There is much talk about national identity and culture in the news which appears to have come to a head with the vote to leave the EU.It’s a fact that the very idea of a “national identity” is a fairly recent construct anyway. The whole idea of having a country or even a nationality to call your very own ,ruled by a democracy or a king or dictator, peopled by individuals who cleave to a nation state who are entitled to self-determination is a curiously recent idea in world terms, but you’d think it had been set in stone forever by such bodies as the United Nations.It’s best to remember that no matter how much you might feel to be “Irish”, “English” or “French”, there’ll be someone in the world who will never have heard of your country of origin and in fact your country’s name might only be a passing phase anyway. It may be changed or forgotten within another couple of hundred years. Before we had countries there were a variety of tribes with such exotic names as Lombards, Suevi, Franks, Burgundians, Franks, Siling Vandals, Asding Vandals, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Thuringians, Bavarians, Alemanni, Saxons, Angles,Jutes, Danes, Norwegians, Normans,Icelanders and Swedes
There’s talk that England wants to reclaim its individuality ; Scotland is straining for another referendum to break away as a separate entity.In Ireland we have two states , each divided by agreements and sub-divided within those same agreements into sub-sects of cultural aspirants , such as monarchial unionists and republican nationalists. In this respect ,we appear to have more and more peoples wanting to exert their group identities within nations.We hear of Russian expansionism and ISIS wanting to re-set the clock to Day Zero and create their very own new country.
The EU attempted to transcend all of that by gathering the disparate grouping beneath the banner of a united identity.People kick against subsuming their “identity” into such a group.Their belief is that by doing so they’ll lose part of themselves or their”culture”
Questions are also being asked whether or not the “nation state” is really such a good idea given that economies operate on a global reach now and many economists and political scientists are questioning whether this is the best set-up for running the planet’s affairs in coming times ,when feeding the world’s growing humanity needs to be tackled on a global scale .As David Attenborough has already pointed out , some kind of control over fecund humanity’s wont to procreate , will have to be tackled if we are to feed ourselves adequately in the near future.As a species we have actually been too successful for our own good and we might yet starve ourselves to death if we cannot slow down and re-learn how to distribute foodstuffs to the peoples of the world and possibly put some kind of constraint on our breeding.Humanity has risen from about 2 billion people when I was born in 1952, to over 6 billion in 2016 ,some sixty four years later . This is happening mostly in developing countries but it only a matter of years before there’ll be a need to feed them all. At this rate , within another forty years there will be 10 billion people living on earth and we’ll have to manage both them and our environment.We humans have atendency to make an awful lot of mess, so it will have to be cleaned up.
The fact is that local, “national” needs ,many times, push the global needs to one side as though a nation’s responsibility was simply to itself and not to worry about anyone else.Well..we’ll have to worry about them soon otherwise we’ll be subsumed in a mountain of human waste.
It’s a fact that the idea of being in a “nation” is an idea which is roughly only about 200 years old .Before that there was no such thing as a passport to travel the world. Only the very rich could do such a thing anyway. The world was smaller for everyone and most people lived their entire lives within a very narrow range which may have only encompassed a small village or a small town .After all , the horse was the only means of conveyance.If you travelled in Europe, by coach, there were no passport checks at borders and “borders” as we would recognise them didn’t really exist.People had cultural and ethnic differences and identities , mostly shaped by the landscapes and climates where they lived,their skin- colour and facial sculpting gradually carved by the climate and the weather they faced over eons of time, the foods they ate or could grow or obtain locally.Those things didn’t define in any way the “political place” they lived in, though; just their diet , customs, physical shapes and forms of language.
Human’s earliest politics were founded when ancient humanity began to cooperate to defend themselves and that really only happened 10,000 years ago when hunting and gathering became the earliest farming and grain had to be stored and defended .Grain was literally the first “gold” and a means of currency.Politics and price -fixing began right there, when people settled into stable farming communities and began to trade.Religions were added to the recipe to instill social cohesion and a form of control. That’s how economic and cultural alliances were first made.
During conflicts for more lands and more expansion ,peoples adjoining were absorbed by the winners of battles , conflicts and wars, so ,in turn , groupings or “nations” grew bigger under the control of the most successful chieftains. These chieftains operated and interacted with a small hierarchal group, which made liasons further down the chain. Larger land grabs needed even more liasons and so politics grew. and social complexity grew with it.Food storage was the main thing .Food was always needed to feed everyone , which is why wars are usually fought.It always comes down to food.
In all of this expansion, there were nothing that we’d ever recognise as “nations” or “nation-states”.The winners simply added those conquered peoples to their ever-growing empires , never giving regard to any sense of identity or nationality.In those societies, if farming wasn’t successful , starvation would follow so they were mostly self-governing except when some kind of law -enforcement was required.That’s what people paid their local governance for ….protection against crime and land disputes.That’s all they needed government for.
Right up to the 17th , 18th, 19th and right into the 20th century, rulers didn’t really do much “ruling” except to gather taxes and gather up men when they wanted to fight wars.Most people had no real notion about the push and pull of kings.Many that emigrated to America in the 19th century might have known the name of their local village but had no real notion from which country they actually hailed, because they weren’t educated.In Russia the Czar had no real notion of how his subjects lived and in the 18th century the Swiss and the Dutch never needed any kind of central government at all.
Nowadays we have maps of the modern world with all sorts of lines on them that no one would have recognised . The Romans developed the idea of an empire of the conquered known world and the French, Spanish and the English followed that template about a thousand years later but there were still no “nations” grouped into neat little boxes.There was constant warfare but when rulers realised that, as trading grew, it was better to accrue wealth than to waste it on wargames. That required political negotiation. It was only at that point in the 16th century that sovereign states were finally “set in stone” but there was still no sense of a “national” identity for a “people”.That’s not really very long ago. There were kings or rulers and then there were all the rest of the lesser beings under that king’s “protection”.Some of these kings assumed a “Divine Right To Rule” and believed it was their divined destiny…because…well it just was ….and it suited them very nicely to believe that.Someone like Henry V111 almost made that notion into an artform, such was his personal belief in his “place” in the scheme of things.
The Industrial Revolution was the real game -changer which gathered people together on a grand scale to drive the wheels of the new empires.Industrialists were dutifully awarded, feted and honoured for owning coalmines , steel factories, woollen mills and breweries ,so you had to become politically aware. Being in business gave you political power because you were the master of men and you could supply the raw materials for driving both the nation’s needs and the paraphanelia of war.
Changes appeared in the 17th century revolutions in America and France. There were no “Americans” or “French” before those upheavals. Nobody in France considered themselves “French” in 1800 and about half of its residents didn’t speak French at all , but a century later by the time Queen Victoria was on her deathbed in England, at the beginning of the 20th century , everyone in France though of themselves as French.The “English” had a much greater sense of a national identity even though their kings and rulers were already mixed through with German and French bloodstock. In Russia, the revolution of 1905 put paid to the ages-old rule of the Czars entirely.Centuries of a particular kind of life ended immediately.When Italy unified in the mid 19th century a tiny percentage of its people spoke Italian; something like two or three percent.There was no sense of a “nation”…just a collection of individuals speaking many languages.
The World War of 1914-18 broke down all those empires such as the Hapsburgs that had been built from many diverse peoples and then the maps were re-drawn along mostly lines of the language spoken in areas, specific regional ties, or perceived social stereotypical oddities. This was the real start of the idea of a “national identity” for most people.
You might say that “nationalism” is a modern way of thinking which after a couple of centuries, has also become obsolete in the modern 21st century, where Facebook “friends” across the planet probably outnumber the number of local alliances any one person might make locally, in a country, on a day-to-day basis.
Newspapers once standardised the public response for any event ,for a controlling elite and gave a sense of jingoistic cohesion to subjects and citizens, especially when there was an immediate need to recruit them for the latest war or politically -enhancing economic adventure, but this has fast begun to break down with the encroachment of technology , the internet and its multi-faceted opinion -makers. There are many opinions out there. Modern governments also have a stake in educating the public in their”care” to mould them into thinking the same as they do. To the modern mind this can be intrusive We’ve taken to calling this the “Nanny State” and even the neo- BrewDog Post -Modernist Brewery have taken to brewing a non-alcoholic ale calling itself by that same ironic name.
The very idea of “policing a border” came as a result of Prussia’s need to apply citizenship papers in the late 19th century . These, in turn ,were the prior result of establishing the first unemployment benefits scheme for the dwellers of its villages.There was a need to establish exactly what a “Prussian” actually was so that when they eventually emigrated across the land to work they could prove their “national identity”. This also led to a census being taken and the establishment of border- controls.Bureaucracy had arrived and bureaucrats began to multiply exponentially as governments exerted greater and greater control over the everyday life of the citizenry. It was at this point that the idea of the “State” actually being your own identifier, became the norm .The State became the teat at which we all suckled and which we now expected to care for us.It appeared in Europe first but soon everyone wanted a piece of this action too, but it never really changed the facts that across the globe ethnic mixtures and multi-lingualism is still very widespread, while cultures and races blend into each other continuously .
The idea of the single homogenous “nation” falls flat on its face when the diversity of people in any land is considered and the fact there have been about 200 civil wars waged across the planet during this past fifty years alone …from Ireland to Iraq, Syria and Israel.There have been fractious successes too such as in Australia and America where many diverse immigrants became new “nations” , shoving aside the indigenous inhabitants ,albeit relinquishing their former alliances to the land of their forefathers’ births to do so and in the process becoming something else….nationalists in a newly- named nation.
What’s left of nationalism or nationhood in the early 21st century amounts to a concocted nationalism revolving around sport such as football, dire droning anthems and possibly football chants and even awful kitch fabulations such as the Eurovision Song Contest, which appears to be as contrived to promote a sense of nationalistic competition much as a Barnum and Bailey Circus once did.
It is a better substitute than the wars that previously provided that same competitive urge in the previous century, but that’s about the best that can be said.
The strange thing is that something like the European Union has better demarcated these relatively recent nation states than anything else and in doing so has now offered profitable economies within the world’s largest marketplace. It might not inspire a flag-waving fervour of belonging , but strangely enough , those small states which were too small to be individual competitors could now compete on a relatively equal basis even though their smaller sizes should not have merited it otherwise. In the end though , it was certainly better than the war that had riven Europe into shreds some short seventy years previously.We’d come a long way.
Anyone embracing this new/old pre- Industrial Revolution form of networking might think it spells the end of “nations” as we’ve recently come to know them, but it should be realised that we have just spent the longest possible time of non-violence internationally ….with a few exceptions which are beyond the control of the European states ; There is also as our own Irish/British debacle , which the EU, very recently ,helped at least in part, to defuse if not totally resolve.
There is an alternative scenario , of course , in that the EU might begin to self -destruct and return us to a competitive system of competing “nations” which might ,in theory, lead us down the road to wars, economic or otherwise, once again, but essentially the idea of individual nations and nationhood has been broken on the anvil of worldwide interconnecting technology anyway and the next century might well prove just what a chimera that idea of individuals making up parochial nations , always actually was.
Our nation …our birthplace….. and place in it, is essentially an accident of birth in any case.
Nations have existed since humans lived together in communities.
An agreement between nations especially economic, security and social arrangements are also good things.
Where they turn bad is when it evolves into one nation state controlled invariably by one nation within it.
England controlling the UK for example. I don’t want to be part of the UK as it is currently, most of Scotland doesn’t either and it now looks as though Wales doesn’t either
Why, because it is blatantly obvious that England rules the UK unequally, especially since the Brexit referendum.
So why did the EU which started as a good thing turn into such a divisive thing. When it started to transform itself into a single nation state run by lets face it Germany, who’s interests in using free movement to dominate industrial growth in the EU to its own advantage and using the low borrowing rates to get weaker nations up to their eyes in debt so they can assume fiscal control over the whole EU state.
“but it should be realised that we have just spent the longest possible time of non-violence internationally”
I take it you mean in Europe, and that was from cooperation between nations, once we go down the road of consummation of nations it has the opposite effect.
A single EU state will inevitably end up at war with Russia and start WW3 when it has a second front via Turkey and a land border with the middle east.
When has there been so much rising dissatisfaction between so many nations in Europe all at one time.
We are about to blow WW1 out of the water and cheering it on in EU parliaments.
And by the way, my children’s births in Ireland we not accidents, I wanted them and wanted them born in Ireland which is my right which no EU has the right to deny me or them.
National identity is an inalienable right one that remains important to many. I know you know the story of the red hand of ulster.
Everyone’s birth in a particular place is an accident brought on by a series of previous incidents leading to that point. You …. or they…. could as easily been born in any corner of the world, depending on where your parents lived .In that respect none of us has any real choice or control of our nominal nationality. That’s why I can say it is an accident of birth. My first grand-daughter , for example is a little English girl.Her mother is Irish and her father is Welsh but she was born in England .There you have her nationhood in a nutshell. A future English woman whose is of mixed parentage. Go back far enough in anyone’s time-line and you’ll find all sorts of origin stories. Nationalism as a flag to wave as some medal of honour makes me slightly uneasy at how readily that notion can so easily be manipulated .Nobody earns “nationalism”. It is placed on them at birth unknowingly.
I wouldn’t agree that nationalism has anything to do with where you are born Harry.
Would you say James Connolly was not a patriotic Irish nationalist even though he wasn’t born in Ireland? It wasn’t an accident of birth, it was his choice having lived in Ireland and experienced a close bond with the Irish people. Same with Wolf Tone and many other great Irish patriots.
I am a very patriotic Irish nationalist and that is my choice, more from my experiences growing up in Ireland than an accident of birth.
Had I been born in Dublin then quite possible I would be a lot less patriotic having not had the same experience of foreign occupation and usurpation of national identity.
The French and the Americans are also patriotic, and I doubt they would say it wasn’t by choice.
There have been enough patriotic Irish men and women throughout history before we had a nation state of our own, to say the Irish nation is greater than any nation state, it is the spirit of freedom for the Irish people to own our own land on our own island and to govern ourselves and make or own way in the world as a people.
It will not be given up lightly to the UK or EU or anyone else, not while there is blood in my veins and breath in my body.
Excellent article Harry. Well written and explained, I found it very informative.
Thank you Scott….all part of the service of human happiness…
people had cultural and ethnic differences…….exactly.
our nation..our birthplace…….exactly.
Not exactly Billy…the whole quote you refer to reads…
“People had cultural and ethnic differences and identities , mostly shaped by the landscapes and climates where they lived,their skin- colour and facial sculpting gradually carved by the climate and the weather they faced over eons of time, the foods they ate or could grow or obtain locally.Those things didn’t define in any way the “political place” they lived in, though; just their diet , customs, physical shapes and forms of language.”
…which is a way of saying that people had no real control over their ethnicity because it was a product of things that shaped them. It did not mean that they had a sense of “nationhood”…just the notion that this was the way their tribe had been shaped by the world…by their relationship with the sun or the cold… and the products of their local environment. They might have seen themselves as a “tribe” or an extended “family” but they had no real notion of being part of a “nation” or come to that …a “country”.The whole abstract notion of belonging to something as nebulous as a “country” simply wasn’t in their mindset.
yep,we were all born without permission i never ask to be born but i was born here,so my nation,my birthplace.right
Harry, such a magnum opus dezerves ,at least, to be read. If only because it must have taken most of your day and caused you to neglect your housekeeping duties. Having expressed your unhappiness with ‘nations’ – from theLatin ‘to be born’ – you have to remember that eons ago, the Mac Dhuibhinnse tribe ran about in a conglomeration of individuals intent only on rape, pillage and other men things. However as they and society matured they joined with others to form a nation. As this maturity continued, the nation state formed to formally protect and develope the nation. The next obvious step is to form alliances with other states for mutual trading and protection benefits. So are you saying that this maturity is a bad thing and that the desire to defend, develope and improve one’s state is a bad thing?
Not at all fiosrach…I’m saying it is a transient thing…and yes you’re only reading this , as i explained to Jude at an earlier date, because the rain outside drove me away from my other chores and allowed me a few moments to scribble away.Since then , I’ve been away sorting out Daughter Number Two’s front garden…..!
The basic problem here is a lack of definition of the term nation; but beyond that, what is proposed as an alternative to nation is something we call Empire, and the notion of Empire is directly linked to the idea of conquest – and I thought Ireland had had enough of that.
But I respond to a few of the issues raised:
“Before we had countries there were a variety of tribes…”
Which were also nations – because we don’t have to think of nations in terms of the modern notions of a political state.
“The EU attempted to transcend all of that by gathering the disparate grouping beneath the banner of a united identity. People kick against subsuming their “identity” into such a group.Their belief is that by doing so they’ll lose part of themselves or their”culture””
Well of course they object to group identity, they have different identities.
“Questions are also being asked whether or not the “nation state” is really such a good idea given that economies operate on a global reach now…”
This can be easily managed by inter *national* cooperation.
“As David Attenborough has already pointed out , some kind of control over fecund humanity’s wont to procreate…”
Forced population management is an extremely dangerous idea. If the rich nations of the world were more generous we’d solve a lot of these problems.
Anyway – this is not necessarily connected to the debate about the validity of nations.
“It’s a fact that the idea of being in a “nation” is an idea which is roughly only about 200 years old”
I can’t possibly weigh the validity of that statement unless you define ‘nation’. As far as I’m concerned, tribes (both historical and modern) are as much a nation as any of the world’s political states.
“Before that there was no such thing as a passport to travel the world. “
Passports are not synonymous with the idea of a nation.
“People had cultural and ethnic differences and identities , mostly shaped by the landscapes and climates where they lived,their skin- colour and facial sculpting gradually carved by the climate and the weather they faced over eons of time, the foods they ate or could grow or obtain locally.”
Hence tribes and nations.
“Those things didn’t define in any way the “political place” they lived in..”
That may or may not be true, but you seem to be using the word “political’” in a modern bureaucratic way – tribes have had customs and cultures and rules and forms of governance for thousands of years.
“…there were nothing that we’d ever recognise as “nations” or “nation-states””
That is simply not true, unless your definition is intensely narrow.
“Many that emigrated to America in the 19th century might have known the name of their local village but had no real notion from which country they actually hailed, because they weren’t educated.”
Scots-Irish; Irish American; Famine emigrants; Pilgrim Fathers etc. all knew who they were – all we have to do is to look at the place names of the USA.
PF…. The assumption being made is that communications and education were the same then , even one hundred years ago ,and that surely wasn’t the case. It certainly wasn’t the case two hundred years ago .People, unless they were rich, worked from dawn until the light faded.There wasn’t even a regulated time , which only came into being with the advent of inter-connecting trains. Clocks the length of the land told different times . That had to be regulated when trains began to run.
It’s worth remembering how different society and the world was. People lived in a world of constant toil in small isolated communities that had precious little information filtering down to their individual families . There may have been one person in a village who could read and write .He might usually have been a priest of some kind. The idea that people had a notion of a nation, across the world, in such isolation just doesn’t stand up. It was on the level of a tribe .
Many arrived in America ,unable to write their own name, never mind know much about the outside world.They made an “X”. How could a man who couldn’t read ever know in any detail , much about the wider world? Many had a vague notion about America but that was the size of it . Immigrants arrived there and took on the names of the towns and villages they had left as their own. Take that notion back several hundred years and there was even less connectivity between people across Europe.
“Many arrived in America ,unable to write their own name, never mind know much about the outside world.They made an “X”.
First of all, they knew where they came from, and they knew who they were (you don’t have to be able to read and write to know that) – but maybe you are trying to suggest that 18th and 19th Century Ireland had no concept of being a nation – although I can’t see that being the case.
“How could a man who couldn’t read ever know in any detail , much about the wider world?”
Oh that’s easy:
Speaking, listening and pictures were the main ways.
Here’s and example of the use of pictures in Ireland:
But you still have not defined a nation in any way other than a modern beuracratic state – which very much suits the EU agenda.
And you’ve effectively ruled out the Celtic Nations as Nations – which is odd, to say the least. The second line of this piece is also worth a read.
PF…..I think we got off on the wrong tack somehow. It is not just the EU which finds their agenda suited .Any government who readily wants to control its citizens and transport them into wars are also the first to wave the flag in an effort to cry “Your Country Needs You!” (when they require ready cannon-fodder)…They too want to define nations and nationalists.
It is the idea of a nation’s belief in a “sovereign state” that we are ultimately talking about and some are questioning this. The very abstract idea of it has not had such a long pedigree. Peoples were spread too thin to adjust to the new concept.
There is actually a social limit as to how many friends or local allies any one human being can contend with.Studies have been made in the area of social interactions among primates and specifically humans and have established that any one person has a limit as to how many people he or an other individual human being can keep track of in social interactions .The number is 150, top limit. That’s how exact the number is. Beyond that figure a person would have grave difficulty keeping track.All of that is based on evidence gathered over time in villages, small towns and even army units throughout the world.
The main reason for having more “friends” than that number is ….not so strangely…. war. Simply put, in small scale societies ten to sixty percent of male deaths were attributable to warfare, so it makes some sense to have as many allies as possible. War was suggested as the main driver in increasing the size of political enlargement.Losers were absorbed by the victors.
The making of heirarchies was the answer to this limiting problem which meant that larger groups could coordinate easier by proxies.If one group adopted this system , so too had its neigbours, to survive.This led to wars being won and more people being organised and fed. This behaviour was the seedbed that cities and kingdoms grew on .Empires followed from there, but these were not “nation states”.They were just a lot of people gathered together loosely as the result of being consumed by a king or conqueror by whom they then identified themselves.Anything more complex such as believing they belonged to a “society” or a “nation” was not on the cards .
That kind of thing is a relatively modern way of thinking and as I said , some are asking whether or not it is the best way to conduct affairs in a rapidly changing modern, future -world. The very idea that we should cleave to specific countries simply by being born in them when it is the entire world we need to encompass as the very idea of “society” and “nation” rapidly changes.
All I have been trying to do is to note that the word ‘nation’ means more than “sovereign state”.
That is a point I maintain, and whatever the politics in a changing world, and whatever the makeup of “specific countries” in a global context, people will continue to experience similarities related to language, culture, and geographical location – hence ‘nations’ – however connected the world.
Once again I find myself in total agreement with you PF
If my memory serves me correctly, when I first started to post on this blog you told me that some have said you are not a ‘Republican’; do you realise you could be one of the only Irish Republicans posting here?
Either way, it is plain that we share an admiration for peoples and their historic cultures – that’s a good thing.
And for the sake of clarity, I’m not against global cooperation, I’m against globalisation: global cooperations which are nothing short of monopolies often dictating to democratically elected governments, global culturalisation, and the very often undemocratic super-political organisations which follow.
Nations can guard us against such a concentration of power and can therefore protect our individuality and our global diversity. (Which is irony, if ever there was irony.)
I would say there would be many who would disagree.
I only see myself as Irish. I grew up in what was considered a republican community. And my life experiences would be from that perspective but other than that I make my own decisions and usually torture the life out of everyone here with them. 🙂
I would have been a supporter of the IRA during the conflict, I disagreed with the GFA at the time but couldn’t vote against it, so didn’t bother, but later Sinn Fein convinced me peace was more important and the conflict had to end. I supported them for quite a while after that also but recently I have become disillusioned with politics and feel it is all so pointless. I am totally against violence and all for uniting our people, but I call a spade a spade and unionism did support violence or at least tolerate it and we will only move on by accepting one another warts and all.
Like it or not a lot has changed and things need to be put right.
The most soul crushing thing for me was the vitriol towards my community in the recent southern elections.
It has scarred me emotionally having been foolish enough to believe Ireland was united as a people if not as a single state, all my life. It was at one time, but the republic has changed and I am no longer a part of it and never will be.
It is a new Ireland or nothing and us northern Gaels, like you and me need to be a part of putting it right and that means everything is on the table
Maybe I should explain what I mean by Irish Republican.
I suppose it also includes some anti-British sentiment, but I’ll move beyond that.
My understand, albeit a perception gained from experience and understanding of Irish history, of which I’ve read a little, is that Irish Republicanism is primarily concerned with establishing a parliamentary democracy for the people of Ireland, founded on the notion of individual rights (Wolfe Tone), Republican ideals (France, Presbyterian and America), and within a primarily Celtic cultural outlook.
Obviously it became much more complex and problematic than that with various alliances and counter-alliances being formed, and with varying national allegiances and issues of religion thrown in.
On the face of it, however, there was nothing essentially wrong with the idea. (No more than, I would say, self-determination for the Ulster-Scot.)
In contrast to this, contemporary Republicanism (and again I’m side-stepping our Troubles), looks more like any other centre-liberal-left social and political movement which has more in common with English Blairism, globalism and a European Union than it does with ‘Nationalism’.
It’s for Ireland, yes, but it’s an Ireland diluted and subsumed within just another empire. Incidentally in my view, the UUP tend to a similar outlook: British, yes, but a Britishness subsumed within just another empire.
On your other point of everything being on the table, it strikes me that if there ever is to be a United Ireland then it cannot simply be the dissolution of Northern Ireland, which is then blurred into the current Republic. If, and it’s a big if, it is to happen, both countries must be dissolved.
I would say it is more simple than that even PF. We were ruled by England and were seeking a means of uniting the people in a way that would get a majority of Irish people supporting an independent nation.
The French revolution and the change from monarchy to republic hit a nerve with Irish people at the time, but it is nothing more than that.
I doubt there is any possibility of a return to a monarchy based system, and some form of republic is probably the only alternative but it is the additional meat on the bones that needs to be fleshed out.
The impending collapse of the UK and the impact that the leaving of Britain from the EU will have on Ireland will change things significantly on this island.
I believe England has already prepared for a breakup of the UK and the subvention from the Barnet formula will not survive once Scotland has independence which will happen. I just don’t believe they will be in the EU without England – that would be madness.
I also believe once it suits Dublin economically, they will become supportive of a united Ireland and likewise will leave the EU.
“On your other point of everything being on the table, it strikes me that if there ever is to be a United Ireland then it cannot simply be the dissolution of Northern Ireland, which is then blurred into the current Republic. If, and it’s a big if, it is to happen, both countries must be dissolved.”
For starters, Northern Ireland is not a country, nor is the Republic of Ireland. Our country is Ireland, the whole of the island, it always has been and always will be. If you mean the northern state sucked into the current ROI state, I agree with you, both need wiped out and start again.
I think I have made my feelings on the republic quite clear, I despise it and would vote against being tagged onto it believe it or not (or more likely keep to form on such things and just not bother voting).
I am ashamed of the current republic and how they have failed and even backstabbed their own citizens in the north.
That being said, the republic is an actual country, it does have bonds and can borrow with all of the trappings of government in place. It would be madness to think these will not remain in place. What needs to happen is an agreed form of government on this island that will build on what exists to suit all of the peoples needs going forward.
It is probably time we started thinking about what type of Ireland we want it to be. But I would no more be interested in being ruled by the shitheads south of the border as it is currently than I would from the EU or London.
In fact, a lot of people in the south have done quite well out of England and dropped us without a second thought.
It would please me no end to see the Brexit hurt their pockets significantly. If there is any justice in the world it will but they will most likely find someway of protecting themselves at someone else’s expense.
That’s all well and good and it suits many people to believe they are part of a nationhood…a benign gang of like -minded souls usually encompassing an idea of a country and a shared culture, but it is not seen that way by many as a viable way of seeing the world in coming future times , given that modern “culture” is such a homegenous thing now anyway…and has become even more so in this past fifty or sixty years. There are fewer differences in peoples across the globe now than there ever were and that’s probably going to continue apace.How that will affect sense of identity and place has yet to be seen .
“That’s all well and good”
It’s not only well and good, it’s a fact.
“it suits many people to believe they are part of a nationhood”
Not only do people *believe* they are part of a nation, they *are* part of a nation. You are completely missing (or choosing to miss) the fact that people were already like minded (as you put it) due to location, language, praxis etc.
” but it is not seen that way by many as a viable way of seeing the world in coming future times ,
That’s neither here nor there – the differences remain – another fact. And anyway, even if differences are being diluted to the degree you say they are, people will simply replace them with some other kind of identity – human beings are identity seekers. In this technological and economic age, probably their favourite company or product. And I can’t see how that’s an improvement.
“given that modern “culture” is such a homegenous thing now anyway…”
Is it? just because people wear Western clothes, carry smart phones, use the same, and often enforced, politically correct phrases, and listen to the Beatles doesn’t mean modern “culture” is homogenous. Anyway, most modern “culture” is a poor substitute for the wealth of cultures forged over hundreds of years.
“How that will affect sense of identity and place has yet to be seen.”
If not what I suggested above, people will simply be required to replace their national identity with some other kind of global expectation and allegiance – and in that case I’d be more concerned with what we might loose – the Twitter mob, for example, is already a good example of the denial of free speech. (As was Ireland’s requirement to vote twice to please the EU.)
Nations, even modern bureaucratic states, are not perfect, but they do give us greater opportunity for local accountability, local democracy, and greater input by the ordinary person. I’m in favour of small nations, small government, personal freedom and responsibility, and communal and international cooperation. All of that is possible.
If you really think that globalisation is going to protect us from tyranny, please think again.
Can I assume that you do not consider yourself to be Irish?
“And anyway, even if differences are being diluted to the degree you say they are, people will simply replace them with some other kind of identity – human beings are identity seekers.”
No, we will fight and kill to defend them, that is in our nature unfortunately.
We may have great intelligence and ability, but we are still primates underneath it all.
“Nations, even modern bureaucratic states, are not perfect, but they do give us greater opportunity for local accountability, local democracy, and greater input by the ordinary person. I’m in favour of small nations, small government, personal freedom and responsibility, and communal and international cooperation.”
Human beings revolve around family and are comfortable in small homelike environments.
We are also intelligent and understand the benefit of cooperation which leads to community and civilisation.
Like it or not, globally we are at different stages of evolution and not all peoples share the same ideals. In some parts of the world, a man raping or killing a woman is not as big a deal as it is in other more developed civilisations.
A key part of this is creating an environment which we want to create for our children who we will teach and pass on our culture and beliefs to.
We need to control our environments and we need to cooperate internationally as you say.
Globalisation will indeed do quite the opposite, it will shake the foundations of our core sense of community, our primal instincts will gradually emerge and we will do what is in our nature.
Colonisation has always led to war, the EU has turned into one major colonisation project. I am in no doubt if it is allowed to continue it will lead to another world war.
Sure , I’m Irish. I was born here but that doesn’t necessarily mean that my take on culture is entirely of this island or whatever being Irish is supposed to mean.Very simply put, it isn’t the whole story at all.In my world “culture” ,art, music and literature may in part be of local emphasis but creativity does not necessarily respect cultural or land borders across the world. That’s why I can appreciate the Chieftains as well as Ravi Shankar or some South-American music, or why l can appreciate a Jack Yeats painting at the same time as a Picasso or a book by Christopher Hitchens or William Burroughs. These things don’t demand whether or not I am Irish or possibly Chinese or French.So if we want to talk about what being an Irishman or a Welshman means , it is going to mean a different thing to every single one of us . I love the land and the landscape of Ireland but do I share the “culture” of ….or sense of a “nation” of an Irishman such as Gregory Campbell , Gerry Adams or Gawdhelpus …a Willie Frazer…well I don’t think I actually do , to be perfectly honest.So you might say that I am an Irishman to my core but the place doesn’t define my thought -processes or even me as an individual. As far as a political outlook, I would be by nature somewhat left-wing but whether or not that is a viable political belief in the very conservative Irish world which we are dealing with in these present days gives food for thought and I don’t see too many inventive or imaginative political thinkers out there .
Because I was born in the northern part of the island there are even some who would prefer to view me as not completely “Irish”. These live both in the north and in the south. By their reckoning my “Irishness” is somehow diluted by being ruled by Britain , whether or not I have control of that or not. I know that has been the case of many unionists, for example who would turn themselves inside out rather than admit to themselves that they were born in Ireland and were actually Irish to the core in the eyes of the greater world outside.I think that they are deluded if they think otherwise , but do they think culturally on the same plane as me …? I don’t think so.Do a lot of people who proclaim to be Irish republicans think that way? I don’t think so either.Sometimes I ask myself do they know what a real socialist republic would actually mean….or do they even think what the shape of it would look like.
So what else does it mean for someone like yourself to be an”Irishman”,besides having been born here ? Would you be the same kind of Irishman if you had the wherewithal to live in several places across the world at different locations and move about according to the season as some rich folks might do?
As for me I know I am Irish but it’s not something that I get hung up on.It doesn’t make me a better person…a better writer or painter ,for that matter. It doesn’t help me to walk on water and it certainly doesn’t make me a better guitar player!