1916: it’s about the present and the future …

Sunder Katwala is general secretary of the Fabian Society, He’s also a second generation Corkman, who was born and raised in Britain with Indian heritage through his father. He argues that Wheatcroft and Morrison have have in their quite separate ways sought to bring the complexity of the post 1916 narrative of the island down to brash certainties which ignore the cultural complexties that have risen in the intervening years. Read him at Comment is Free.

An alternative approach makes us products of our histories, and of the mutually defining contacts between them, but not prisoners of what we inherit. At its best, this can root patriotisms which are the more secure for not needing to falsify their own pasts. These can, in turn, provide the foundations for a secure and rooted internationalism. It may sound like some post-millennial fantasy. But it is not a new idea. As Sunil Khilnani says of Nehru’s post-Independence idea of India:

Indianness was constituted out of internal diversity, but in Nehru’s vision it was equally an international identity. Nehru turned around the language of victimhood: instead of portraying India as a martyr to colonial subjection which had to turn inwards to find and repair itself, he affirmed India as a self-confident actor in international politics. The decision to remain in the Commonwealth, but as a Republic, is only one instance of this sensibility, of Nehru’s commitment to an idea of a layered past, and of his refusal to purge or purify historial connections. Equally it showed an unsentimental determination not to be enthralled by this past but to adjust it to suit India’s present interests.

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  • Brian Boru

    Is the links supposed to connect to the full article? Because it doesn’t.

  • Pete Baker

    Until Mick gets the edit sorted, Brian..

    Here’s the full [and excellent] article

  • Brian Boru

    I agree with him that we should be not prisoners of our past. Unfortunately the border acts as a constant reminder thereof.

  • Mick Fealty

    Brian,

    Amended now. I should have something on that very issue tomorrow/weekend.

  • Crataegus

    Brian Boru

    “Unfortunately the border acts as a constant reminder thereof”.

    Only if you let it. Relax chill out and remember all things come to he who waits.

  • Jacko

    Excellent piece.

  • aquifer

    Poor Morrison. He cannot admit partition, a tragedy for northern catholics, came about largely through the actions of his own armed separatists and their political avant gardists. i.e. It was not all the Brits fault. Devalera conceded partition, over Collin’s head, as the price for his cultural colony. The Irish concluded a treaty of non-aggression with the irishmen in the North and then worked hard to subvert it. e.g. Despite the vulnerability of the Catholic population, a young fenian student from Dublin was sent to Belfast to board in Catholic big houses while shooting up trams to stir up sectarian conflict, as the IRA in Belfast were not deemed aggressive enough, or given the vulnerability of the catholic population, irresponsible enough. Collins was content to have hardliners wage a guerilla border war against the North so that he could hold the southern state against the separatist fundamentalists in the South. Their militarist adventure failed, and the embittered North endured and entrenched, its state facing a cultural cold war with the nationalists and the catholic church. All that’s in the past now tho’

    The Brits don’t seem to care to dominate any more, Balfour’s land acts having created a stable property owning democracy, and lately ROI providing an economic aircraft carrier for launching marketing attacks by the US on Europe. The socialist stickies superceded by the sectarian provos, Ireland is saved for capitalism, and the border is saved for posterity.

    What possessed Connolly to go out with those nutters?

  • Keith M

    Brian Boru “I agree with him that we should be not prisoners of our past. Unfortunately the border acts as a constant reminder thereof.”

    Indeed and I don’t see the people in the Republic voting to re-join the U.K. anytime soon.

    Regarding 1916 one of the more interesting insights might come from a documentary which RTE is showing next Tuesday night regarding the aftermath created by the rebellion. It never ceases to amaze me how much time is spent looking at the events which led up to the rising and how little time was spent looking are the far more important events that happened in the following year.

  • Brian Boru

    “Poor Morrison. He cannot admit partition, a tragedy for northern catholics, came about largely through the actions of his own armed separatists and their political avant gardists. i.e. It was not all the Brits fault. Devalera conceded partition, over Collin’s head, as the price for his cultural colony.”

    What? Dev never conceded partition. Dev had no role in the Treaty talks. He sent Collins and others as plenipotentiaries.