Breaking Britain’s psychological domination of Ireland

Joe Lee looks at the many myths about the 1916 Easter Rising in a fascinating piece in the Times. He begins by quoting India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who wrote from his prison cell in 1935 that the Rising “proclaimed to the world that no physical might could crush the invincible spirit of a nation” and concludes by arguing that the power of domination derives more from capturing the minds than the bodies of the conquered.

  • Brian Boru

    “They were outraged at the thought of being subject to the majority rule of their hereditary inferiors”

    “Hereditary inferiors”? I imagine that is how they saw it. Confirms my views on the issue.

    “It was that psychological domination above all that the Easter rebels set out to break.”

    And it worked.

  • willis

    One of the best pieces I’ve read, problem is that the punch is at the very end, which given The Sunday Times crappy structure, takes work.

    Here are the last two paragraphs.

    The power of domination derives more from capturing the minds than the bodies of the conquered. Part of the genius of British domination skills in Ireland was to disguise the fact that their firepower determined the framework within which Irish politics operated. The skill of their control techniques meant that British guns in Ireland were somehow purged of any association with violence. Conquest was not violence, but resistance to conquest was. The clue to British success was that their superiority in guns was so big, they didn’t have to be used.

    This flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that the imaginative Celts were masters of propaganda compared with the stereotypically stolid Saxons. The truth is that, crass though individual pieces of British propaganda were, they occurred within a framework of psychological domination. They captured many Irish minds, not just through repression but also through seduction.

    It was that psychological domination above all that the Easter rebels set out to break.

    Awesome!

    BTW

    If you did not read the print version of this, I salute you. I wouldn’t pay money to Murdoch either. However I saw a copy courtesy of my fine brother-in-law.

    What amazed me, oh go on then, I wasn’t that surprised, was that both the Sunday Times and the Observer (shock!) were guilty of O level howlers in the photo captions they used for pictures to illustrate Joe Lee’s article and the reaction pieces to Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s article from April 9.

    In the case of the Sunday Times a picture of 4 volunteers (probably IRB) was captioned

    “Sinn Feiners on the roof of Liberty Hall”

    Were Sinn Fein involved in the Easter Rising, I think not!

    The Obs managed to caption a Getty Image of UVF volunteers circa 1912 with the caption

    “Unionist paramilitaries train during the Easter Rising”

    I do not know the men involved (5 off, tastefully arranged around motorised machine gun.) but I suspect that in 1916 they were getting ready for the Somme.

    I was a bit surprised by the Obs, but the Sunday Times were true to form.

  • joinedupthinking

    This was a very good piece as also was Alan Ruddock’s within which it was framed.

  • willis

    Dunno about the Alan Ruddock. Too much of the GW about it

  • mike

    Joe Lee is the academic equivalent of Danny Morrison

  • Fintan, Portlaoise

    I wonder is Joe Lee coming out of his revisionist phase, or is it still flavour of the month? There is nothing original about his insight that “The power of domination derives more from capturing the minds than the bodies of the conquered.”

    Lyndon B. Johnson put it much better: “When you’ve got them by the short and curlies, their hearts and minds will follow.” He was wrong, as the British are also slowly learning.

  • Rory

    Whoops there, Fintan. LBJ does not say Nehru’s saw more “down home” – he totally contradicts it.
    Nehru says that the spirit cannot be crushed completely by crushing the body, LBJ says that it can.

    LBJ’s philosophy is a crude bedfellow of social Darwinism and yet even that great proponent of social Darwinism, that self proclaimed socialist and yet premature pro-fascist, the author Jack London, might have taken issue with LBJ on the effect of attempts to cower dogs by brutally.

    Those of you who have read “White Fang” or “Call of the Wild” or, better still – the short story “Le Batarde” will know where I am going.

    Those who haven’t now have an opportunity to discover.

  • topdeckomnibus

    Refuse the subvention ?

    Moan about someone other than the Brits.

    Either way, psychologically dominated or psychologically codependent, that might send a message any Brit migh actually gove a sh-t about !

  • Merrie

    Willis:

    > Dunno about the Alan Ruddock. Too much of the GW about it

    Can you let me know what “GW” means

    Thx

  • susan

    My May newsletter from the County Cork B.P. & P Association of New York contained the following two choice quotes: (Don’t be deterred by the fact that you have no ties to County Cork and do not live in New York — neither do I, neither do I)

    “I suppose it would be fair to describe him as the Brad Pitt of Irish scholarship” – New York consul general, Ambassador Tim O’Connor describing Professor Joe Lee following the latter’s delivery of his 1916 lecture at NYU

    “Keep sending me the Cork newsletter.” – Professor Joe Lee, Director of Glucksman Ireland House at NYU, former Professor of Modern History at University College Cork