leaping from the 19th to the 21st century and bypassing the 20th altogether..

Today’s Guardian editorial is worth reading, in particular the final paragraph..That final paragraph

Yesterday it almost felt as if Northern Ireland politics was suddenly leaping from the 19th to the 21st century and bypassing the 20th altogether. Long experience – and the personalities involved – nevertheless counsels caution. Yesterday, not May 8, was supposed to be the date when Northern Ireland’s two big parties began to work together in a devolved government. No agreement by March 26, no devolution, said the law passed by Westminster last year. In the end, not for the first time but hopefully for the last, the law in Ulster took second place to politics. As a result Mr Paisley can display another concession to his own sceptics. But it would be naive to think that yesterday marked the end of brinkmanship. There will still be spats and standoffs aplenty to try the patience. It was a day to remember, but still a day for two hearty cheers rather than the full-throated three.

The 20th Century risks being a closed, and sealed, book with only précises of selected chapters being made available.

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  • belfastcouple

    Has anyone read O’Farrell’s piece in tne New Stateman. Good stuff and with a bit of mirth thrown in for good measure

    http://www.newstatesman.com/200703260078

  • 2050

    Ian Paisly showed courage, leadership and vision yesterday and it was great to see.

    I didnt think I’d see it for a few years but he delivered for us all. Credit were credit is due.

    Not forgetting Gerry to. Well done to all in the DUP/SF for finding away through a simple but complex problem.

  • Sorry, but I think that my explanation in Albert Venn Dicey: The Man and his Times is much more germane to why the 20th century in Ireland was only much mayhem, though I admit that there is nothing to laugh about in it.

    Dicey, in trying to help gain passage of Home Rule for Charles Stewart Parnell’s Nationalist Party, decided that he had been hoodwinked by the Clan na Gael, the Physical Force party at the time, in doing so, and he took his revenge by mounting the Parnellism and Crime campaign which not only prevent its passage but also destroyed the Irish leader in the process. See p. 101ff.

    It was all downhill ever afterwards until Adams, McGuinness, ‘Steak knife’ et al. fought the Britsh to a negotiated settlement.

  • Token Dissent

    Maybe the Guardian could enter this new era of consensus and give Big Ian a Comment piece.

    But then Paisley isn’t a ‘progressive’ revolutionary of the kind the paper has a sneaking regard for, like Castro, Chavez, or…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2043565,00.html

    The above is an astonishingly banal article, which appears to have been published just to prove that Gerry is, shock horror, a human being with feelings! (I don’t think Gerry will like the comments below the article.)

  • mickhall

    Of course leaping over the 20th Century is just what the Neo- liberals are all about, thankfully it is not on, not least because many of us do not buy the lie that the Russian revolution, 1916 and the struggles of the liberation movements etc were regressive steps, but helped mankind take a progressive road. Which is the very reason why the advocates of unbridled exploitative capitalism wish the human race to put a blindfold on and as the Guardian piece said jump over them.

    How a mockney administration led by a man who has spent his whole life spiting bigotry and religious mumbo jumbo is a good thing is a mystery to me. How low some set their bar when self interest is at play.

  • foreign correspondent

    Mickhall, I consider myself to be on the left but I personally feel incapable of defending the Russion Revolution knowing that it led to millions of people perishing in the Gulag etc for many decades afterwards.

  • Token Dissent

    “How a mockney administration led by a man who has spent his whole life spiting bigotry and religious mumbo jumbo is a good thing is a mystery to me.” Mockney – what you mean?

    Dear oh dear your understanding of history is appalling. 1916 was a disaster for democracy, pluralism and the socio-economic future of Ireland. And, Jesus, don’t even mention the Russuian Revolution! You criticise Paisley for his belief in “religious mumbo-jumbo” but you too dear friend appear to have a groundless faith in martyrs, historical determinism and the use of ‘democratic’ elites.

  • circles

    foreign correspondent: Religion has that effect on me.

  • mickhall

    dear friend appear to have a groundless faith in martyrs, historical determinism and the use of ‘democratic’ elites.

    Token defense
    And your evidence for this is?

    foreign correspondent,

    By condemning the Russian revolution in such a blanket manner, is like a supporter of capitalism condemning it because at times it led to gulags slavery starvation etc throughout the world.

    As some once said about the French revolution on being asked if it was a success, “it is to early to tell” and the same goes for the Russian Revolution. Admittedly it did not in the end turn out well, never the less we do know it had a major effect in making many of the more liberal nations accept social democracy as legitimate politically, and the welfare state, universal health care and education that it propagandized for.

    It also acted as a spur to the liberation movements within the main European empires and helped their leaders to carry through their own struggles. For example the post WW2 ANC is clearly a child of the Russian October Revolution and it is possible apartheid or something like it would still exist today without Feb 1917.

    The October events are questionable as they were clearly more of a coup that revolution, but even so where I do agree with the Trots is that it was the isolation of the revolution post October which allowed the authoritarian and bureaucratic elements to come to the fore within Russian socialism.

    Finally without the RR, the defeat of the Nazis would have been far more difficult as they would in all probability been able to over-run the old Russia as the people would hardly have defended it with the same vigor. [imo]

    All the best.

  • merrie

    This is the best commentary in the mainstream British press that I found. The others were rather biased. And so was the London Telegraph’s clip of the historic meeting yesterday.

    I don’t think anyone said that Paisley did not have much choice but to go ahead. All those cliches fit the DUP’s situation: a rock and a hard place, the devil and the deep blue (Irish) Sea – etc.

    The end of Ulster was in the DUP’s hands. But Paisley did go ahead with some style.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “It also acted as a spur to the liberation movements within the main European empires and helped their leaders to carry through their own struggles. For example the post WW2 ANC is clearly a child of the Russian October Revolution and it is possible apartheid or something like it would still exist today without Feb 1917. ”

    Yes… and the liberation leadership has done such a marvelous job in Africa ever since. Why, Mugabe has taken the bread-basket of Africa and reduced it to the Basket-Case of Africa. The leaders of South Africa are best known for flogging their ignorance of germ-theory, whilst, on a bad week, they still eat the pygmies in the Congo. Such a lovely record of achievement there, not to mention Lenin and Mao’s mismanagement, Stalin purges and other atrocities, Pol Pot and those darling little “liberation movements,” such as the Red Army Faction… charming folks, one and all.

    mickhall: “Finally without the RR, the defeat of the Nazis would have been far more difficult as they would in all probability been able to over-run the old Russia as the people would hardly have defended it with the same vigor. [imo] ”

    Yes, a NKVD officer threatening to shoot anyone who so much as takes a step back does have a certain impact of one’s fervor. I believe it was Stalin who said that it was more dangerous *not* to be a hero in the Red Army. Likewise, even with these thugs driving the peasents, it took General Winter and US Lend Lease to keep them in the war long enough for the T-34 to be sufficiently available for a credible counter-stroke. Given Stalin’s shock at the German invasion and ineffective initial response, had Barbarossa not been put on hold to deal with Albania and Yugoslavia, the War in Europe might have ended on a much more sour note. As it was, it was only German mis-steps that prevent the Ukrainians from aiding the Germans against the Russians — the Wehrmacht was welcomed as liberators, a testament to the quality of Russian leadership.

    A communist is someone who reads Marx. An anti-communist is someone who understands Marx.

  • Datz reit

    I must say I’m bemused by all the boundless optimism on this website, it’s a real tribute to the human spirit in a way, that the obvious contempt that people from both sides of the conflict have for each other can melt away like frost in the mid-morning spring sunshine because two party leaders agreed to sit beside each other for an hour or two and have a couple of photos taken before going their separate ways.

    Unfortunately I cannot share this optimism. I really, really hope I’m wrong but I can’t imagine that either extreme or mainstream unionism – and it’s obviously all the one, as evidenced by the volume of UUP support which deserted and flocked to the DUP over the last 4-5 years – have changed their spots.

    It may seem like a cynical view but essentially there is no appetite for powersharing with Nationalists within the Unionist community. This has also been shown by the reluctance to make previous assemblies work when the so-called ‘moderates’ were in power and the collapsing of said assemblies at every available opportunity, and the necessity for Unionist parties to have to be harassed and cajoled and bribed into sharing power.

    So without wanting to appear in any way sneering or triumphalist, yesterday represents a significant defeat of sorts for all unionists insofar as the statelet of Northern Ireland has always had, as its raison d’etre, Unionist dominance. Trying to present or spin it otherwise is a pointless exercise.
    The position within mainstream and extreme Unionism is, I’m afraid, the same as it was 40 years ago and 75 years ago i.e. NO FENIANS ABOUT THE PLACE, EVER.
    What will happen over the next 6 weeks is that the DUP will go off and try to think of another reason to come back and refuse to share power in 6 weeks time, and don’t think for one second that they won’t find one – or at least pretend to have found one. Either way, at the very least what you will see is an excuse of some sort being trotted out to give them another couple of weeks, by which time Blair will be on the eve of a very long, cinematic, emotional departure from No. 10, Bertie will be facing into a very tough-to-call election, the two govts will have to put NI on the backburner for a couple of weeks at least; the summer holidays will come along and hey presto, all of a sudden you’re talking about October, November for the DUP to come up with yet more reasons not to have any Fenians about the place, probably because some 15 yr-old unidentified hoodie with a Glasgow Celtic Scarf was caught on CCTV throwing stones at an Orange Order parade.
    The Doc is going to wait out Blair’s resignation to see if brown is any more sympathetic to the Unionist cause. And even if Blair were going to see out his third term in full, Paisley would still stall and delay until the day of his departure had come and gone. And if Brown doesn’t appear more interested in NI (which he won’t be during his ‘first 100 days’ at least, so that gives them another 3-4 months), he’ll find some way to stall until the next general election, desperately hoping that Cameron will ride in on his great white steed and save the Union.
    And on and on and on it will go…

    Let’s be honest – the ‘troubles’ didn’t break out for no reason. People were denied equal rights in NI because they refused to accept the partition of the state which they viewed as unlawful. They dominant section of the population i.e. the Protestant/Unionist community refused to accept that Catholics had a legitimate right to protest the partition AND the fact that they were denied equal rights as some form of ‘punishment’ for their legitimately held beliefs and aspirations. The two communities clashed, violently, the violence was hopelessly mismanaged by a fading former colonial power and everything escalated, spiralling into 30 years of chaos and bitter civil conflict(TBC)…

  • Datz Reit

    (Cntd)..Whether or not people accept this version of history, it is what happened and nothing can change that now. I, like everyone else, hope that the divisions can be laid to rest but I have my doubts.

    But today, deep down Unionists(I’m assuming) understand perfectly well that if NI becomes a normal society – which it is some years away from being yet – then gradually people down south will lose their fear of the place, and eventually people from Dublin, Cork , Galway, Limerick and all over the rest of the island will start to look north for opportunities, new careers, apply for college places in Northern Universities etc., and eventually a steady pattern of South-North migration will emerge. That, coupled with the increasing population of immigrants from further afield, will be the real ‘beginning of the end’ for the Unionist community’s superiority in terms of population.

    Unionists have always been paranoid about the fact that they have had to physically share this island and that even thought they were in a substantial majority in the first quarter of the last century, that majority has been steadily dwindling ever since. What has, ironically, helped the Unionist Community sustain that majority, is that essentially, for the most part Southerners are afraid to go up North. 2-3 generations of Southerners have grown up watching images of people being blown to bits, shot at, petrol-bombed and literally punched and kicked to death in the streets of Belfast, Derry and other towns across the North for the last 35-40 years and as a result, have no inclination whatsoever to go there. I barely know anyone from the South who has ever been to the North, let alone anyone from the South who lives there. (Yes, yes, I’m sure there are loads, I just don’t seem to know many/any, and not only that but I don’t know many who know any).

    Over time, the inevitability is that this will change, and as life up North calms further and further, people will associate it more with short-break holidays, stag weekends and ordinary, day-to-day run-of-the-mill events, rather than the grim apocalyptus it has been portrayed as over the last 4 decades. And eventually what we will end up with is a de facto UI.

    The six counties may ultimately still be a nominal part of the UK 40-50 years from now, but it will be a limited, piecemeal, lip-service association, probably given some special status within the Commonwealth, dressed up & paid due ceremonial deference by the Irish & UK govts in an attempt to keep Unionists from fomenting unrest. There will probably be a festering civil tension in the North for decades to come, but this is the way things are starting to turn now and Unionists, unless they have their heads completely buried in the sand, are well aware of this.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    I guess “Datz Reit” has only the one post, which they transfer from topic to topic, regardless of subject matter…

  • Datz Reit

    Well Dread, everyone’s having such a premature ejaculation of excitement about yesterday that they seem to be rushing from one thread to the next without even reading the comments… I’d be interested in reading a response, but it seems nobody’s got one, they all jusy want to pretend that everything’s absolutely hunky dory now and that everything is going to end happily ever after, which I find pretty astonishing…if people in the North truly have such sunny dispositions, then why did the last 35 years of grief have to happen?

  • protorious

    Datz Reit: “I’d be interested in reading a response, but it seems nobody’s got one, they all jusy want to pretend that everything’s absolutely hunky dory now and that everything is going to end happily ever after, which I find pretty astonishing…”

    Are you accusing us Northerners of sticking to ridiculously idealistic conclusions that ignore the complexities of our political surroundings?

    How dare you!

    We’ve never done that…

  • Aldamir

    “I guess “Datz Reit” has only the one post, which they transfer from topic to topic, regardless of subject matter…”

    If he/she just said “It’s all the Orange B@st@rds’ fault” it would convey the same message without the pretentious verbosity.

  • mickhall

    Dread Cthulhu

    My comment centered on the Russian revolution, I admitted that things did not turn out well, something which you choose to ignore in you attempt to blanket me in with Stalinism. By the way if you can name a leading Stalinist who was fluent in Marxism or even read Capital I would be interested.

    Most leading military historians these days recognize that the USSR played the main role in defeating the nazis militarily. I do not really see how anyone can logically argue against that. By the way, it was not German missteps which drove the Poles and Ukrainians into the Soviet war camp, but nazi ideology which regarded them as sub humans. The fact that nazi ideology never regarded the Finns in this way all but proves this point.

    [Hitler invaded Eastern Europe for living space and its natural resources, it would not have mattered a fig to him if the locals had cheered his army on, they were all for the chop for the reasons I have given, they were surplus to his demands, hence the sub human nonsense.]

    Your views on the newly independent african nations and the liberation struggles borders on racism, you quote Mugabe and the Congo as if that is the whole continent. It is like saying the European renaissance was responsible for German fascism and all that flowed from it, which is totally illogical.

    Your arguments about post apartheid SA are also silly, the SA president may have some odd and harmful opinions about aids, but no more that George Bush claiming God spoke to him over Iraq or our own UK PM who believes he can spread freedom and prosperity by dropping tons of high explosives on to innocent Iraqis, whilst he apologies for slavery. Now that is more than odd do you not feel?

    What the BM\German Red Army faction has directly to do with third world liberation movements is beyond me, as it was a small nilistic terrorist organization.

    Best regards

  • Datz Reit

    Yes Good Man Aldamir. Go straight to the default “HE’S A BIGOT!” response. Well done.

  • mickhall

    Datz Reit

    You are absolutely correct in much you write, for how can the divisions be laid to rest when the injustice which lay behind them remains the same today as it has since 1922. It will take more than a smile into a camera and an individual bending the knee to write this wrong.

  • Dats Reit.

    Interesting and well written piece. You may or may-not be right, time will tell.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “My comment centered on the Russian revolution, I admitted that things did not turn out well, something which you choose to ignore in you attempt to blanket me in with Stalinism.”

    Not at all… I do believe I made mention of Mao’s mismanagment of the economy, Pol Pot’s more innovative approaches to retroactive birth-control and believe I at least implied Lenin’s initial economic fecklessness — if I did not, I certainly apologize.

    mickhall: “Most leading military historians these days recognize that the USSR played the main role in defeating the nazis militarily. I do not really see how anyone can logically argue against that.”

    And I did not argue the point. I merely pointed out if not for other factors, the Soviet’s very well could have been a non-factor. Stalin’s panic attack, after having purged or exiled just about anyone he considered a potential rival, left Moscow in the hands of yes men for weeks. Had a less crippling winter happened, or had anti-communist or isolationist feelings carried the day in Washington, the Soviets would have not had either the opportunity or the material to resist the Nazis.

    mickhall: “By the way, it was not German missteps which drove the Poles and Ukrainians into the Soviet war camp, but nazi ideology which regarded them as sub humans. The fact that nazi ideology never regarded the Finns in this way all but proves this point.”

    Not wholly accurate, as the Nazis varied some of their occupation policies when it suited them. The Ukrainians did welcome the Germans as liberators, only to fall back into the Soviet camp when more “politicall reliable” formations became involved. Also, I would point out that the Finns were co-belligerants as a result of Soviet aggression against them, as opposed to a nation firmly in the Nazi sphere of influence.

    mickhall: “Your views on the newly independent african nations and the liberation struggles borders on racism, you quote Mugabe and the Congo as if that is the whole continent.”

    No, I simply point out the most apparent and appalling cases to make a point, just as you selectively pick your evidence, mick. “Racism” when criticizing Africa is a sad tactic, since all it hopes to do is shame folks into silence, rather than addressing the continent’s failings or rebutting the points made. Have you no healthy counter-examples that you must hide behind such tactics?

    Mugabe has taken arguably the most prosperous African nation and turned it into a basketcase. The current leadership of South Africa has eschewed science and is one step above calling for a ju-ju man to deal with the AIDS crisis, although I believe the president of another African nation is claiming a miraculous new cure for the problem. Lastly, the Congolese do not see the pygmies as human and, when more natural food is scarce, have been known to indulge in a little “long pig.” I can go on — the Sudan, Nigeria, etc.

    In practical terms, liberation has not been all that and a bag of crisps for the average African on the street… let alone the odd Congolese pygmy. As for the rest, last I checked, Bush doesn’t rule an African nation, so your whataboutery is a little off topic. You also might want to check your hyperbole — If anything, my points on Africa are a soft-sell — I’m just dealing with the last five years or so.

  • I thought that this thread was alluding to the fact that Ireland could have had at the end of the 19th century what it is only getting now – peaceful negotiation of its sectarian differences so that it can enjoy self-rule.

    Instead, as usual, we get everything in the book to the alleged advantages of the Russian Revolution to the meltdown in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

    Is everyone here simply incapable of sticking to the subject?

  • mickhall

    Africa has been independent within the current Nation states for approx 50 years, if we were to look at Europe in its early years, or even during part of the 20th century, would it appear any less shambolic that Africa today, I doubt it.

    In your criticisms of that continent you are correct in some of the things you point out, but you are not comparing like with like, and you are totally ignoring the role the west has played in this situation. After all who bankrupted much of Africa by giving massive loans to crooks and charlatans like Mugabe.

    I doubt even you, [although I am not certain] would suggest it would be better for the average African to return to the colonial yoke, let alone those of us who live in the West. If I believe racism is present I do not use it as a tactic but a fact. Your continuos praise for southern Rhodesia, as I said not only ignores the majority of the peoples appalling standards of living etc within the country at the time, but borders on either racism or provocation, probably the latter.

    I do not agree calling someone racist shames them into silence, as sadly far to many people are proud of being racist these days, thus they deserve to be shamed for stupidity alone, as to make judgments based on race is foolishness.

    Your correct about the Ukrainians and Finns but I never said otherwise, you could have added the Baltic states, what I said was the Russian revolution was a progressive and beneficial event, all you have done is brought up the aftermath of the revolution, understandable even pertinent, but is not the point I was originally making.

    The problem we have on Slugger is that no one blogs from a left wing socialist/communist perspective, thus arguments/debates like this can only come about by going off thread, which is a shame

    Must go for now, enjoyed our debate, cheers.

  • Wish I could say the same about our ‘debate’ Mick Hall, but, as usual, I cannot.

    You disrupt more threads than anyone I know, but, of course, I have to go to.

    If you want to talk sense about the topic, though, please let me know as I shall be most happy to do so.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “Your continuos praise for southern Rhodesia, as I said not only ignores the majority of the peoples appalling standards of living etc within the country at the time, but borders on either racism or provocation, probably the latter. ”

    Beg pardon? Criticism of Zimbabwe does not equate to praise of Rhodesia, any more than pointing out the squandered opportunity Mugabe has botched in an attempt to be Zimbabwe’s dictator for life is praise for European colonialism in Africa. Your cries of “racism” is just a clumsy effort to silence criticism of the corrupt government of the continent. It does not take an economic genius to recognize the advantages of scale. Bad governance is bad governance, regardless of the practioners.

    As for the state of the average African in Zimbabwe, if you look at most measures, such as inflation (up to 1700%) and life expectancy (crashing down to 37 years today), in the case of Zimbabwe, a case could be made. Again, this is not praise for Rhodesia, but a look at the statistics, pre and post liberation.

    mickhall: “Your correct about the Ukrainians and Finns but I never said otherwise, you could have added the Baltic states, what I said was the Russian revolution was a progressive and beneficial event”

    But it wasn’t, because you artificially cherry-pick the results of the event, trying to edit out Stalin from the results of the revolution. One could argue a great many things were “progressive and benefical” if they were allowed a great eraser to remove certain events and consequences from consideration.

    The revolution led to starvation even under the relatively more benevolent Lenin, following into an openly totalitarian Stalin, who killed millions in his purges and his engineered starvations. His lunacy has echos even unto the present, with Russians trying to argue that the Baltic states joined the USSR voluntarily in 1940. He was followed, in turn, by a collection of apparatchiks until the system collapsed under its own weight as a failed experiment.

    Social democracy owes a far greater debt to the United States security guarantee, which allowed most of the NATO nations, along with a few associated free-loaders, to experiment with socialistic policies by reducing their military spending.

    mickhall: “The problem we have on Slugger is that no one blogs from a left wing socialist/communist perspective, thus arguments/debates like this can only come about by going off thread, which is a shame

    Must go for now, enjoyed our debate, cheers.”

    Keep the flags of discontent flying, mickhall.