Ramblings on Republicanism

I can’t quite nail my voice on this one. Throwing it out in the hope that I can sharpen the argument a bit.

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    Our freedom must be had at all hazards. If the men of property will not help us they must fall; we will free ourselves by the aid of that large and respectable class of the community – the men of no property.

Those were his words, but Wolfe Tone was not a socialist. It was impossible for him to be one; even the word socialisme did not appear in the French language until over 30 years after his death. He equally had no knowledge of the 1916 Proclamation, the programme of the 1919 Dáil or the 1937 Constitution. This is somewhat of a problem if Mark’s definition of an Irish Republican is applied.
The mistake is a simple one. Mark confuses the products of Republican principles with the principles themselves. The 1916 Proclamation itself may contain a succinct declaration of Republican principles in its middle passage, but it was intended as the rallying call for a revolution. The 1919 democratic programme (if it was ever intended to be enacted) was policy written for an Ireland long gone. De Valera had to deal with competing pressures in writing the 1937 Constitution, and it contains a fairly clear strain of Catholic Nationalism. All these things are product of own their time and place, and cannot be perfectly transplanted outside them.

    The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

I could have equally quoted the Declaration of the United Irishmen, or the writings of the Young Irelanders. Similar sentiments abound throughout the Republican cannon. Republicanism encompasses a belief in sovereignty, in democracy, and in equal opportunity and treatment. It is government for ordinary times, not just extraordinary times and so lays on us the requirement to improve the lives of all Irish citizens. But it does not tell us how to do it, it simply trusts in our ability to figure it out. The Irish right can make claims to the above declaration as much as the Irish left. And that is how it must be, if Republicanism is a creed for all Irishmen.

    We who hold his (Wolfe Tone) principles believe that any movement which would successfully grapple with the problem of national freedom must draw its inspiration not from the mouldering records of the past, but from the glowing hopes of the living present, the vast possibilities of the mighty future

James Connolly died in 1916, long before the failures of Marxism became apparent. If he had been born a few generations later, would he have still been a socialist? We cannot say. But he was clearly a man who thought about the world. He took the principles of Tone and married them to socialism, believing it to be best way for those principles to be expressed, unafraid of altering or adding to the cannon. He looked forward, and not back. His heirs are men who have given up thinking. Instead they chose to set the ideas of the past as unshakeable axioms, while berating others from straying from the one true path. Regardless of circumstance or evidence, they reach for the same prescriptions, proclaiming we haven’t believed in the magic hard enough. In a dark irony, they now most resemble the right of the US Republican Party they most despise.

    If our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom, then our children will win it by a better deed

Better deeds require better ideas. Generations of Irish Republicans have hoped for better men to follow them to progress where they could not. The tragedy of the dissident movements is not that they are wrong, or in a tiny minority. Within those movements are people who are inspired by great figures of the past, concerned with inequality and injustice, and committed enough to give up their time to try and make a difference. Their tragedy is by setting the legacy they were given in stone, they dishonour that which they most wish to protect.

Mark asks Can ideologies really alter through time? Can definitions change?

Republicanism has been married to Socialism, Capitalism, Militarism, Ethnic Nationalism, Parochialism and more. The challenge is to pass on that which is best from the past, disregard that which is wrong and add something worthwhile to the legacy we have been given. Ireland is a living nation. It cannot be served by a Republicanism that is dead.

  • Good stuff Kensei. I don’t want to argue Tone was a socialist, but we should bear in mind that a thing can exist before the name we put on it has become fixed. So Gracchus Babeuf, a contemporary of Tone (whose diaries clearly reveal him to be socially radical), is usually called a communist, even though the word didn’t really exist then either. In the same way, liberalism is usually recognised as existing in this period, even though the word emerges during the 1820s. Same with the Enlightenment. Equally, Britain was often spoken of as a republic in the eighteenth century, though it clearly wasn’t by our lights.

    I agree republicanism needs to evolve. In fact, Connolly has a great line saying that the greatest lesson to learn from the United Irishmen is that they imitated nobody and thought for themselves. Having said that, there are certain principles that without which, one cannot claim to be republican. There is also the issue of whether republicanism, for want of a better way of putting it, represents the revolutionary spirit of equality. If that is the case, then those who remain dedicated to formations of equality formed in the late C18th – i.e. civic but not social – have fallen out of touch with the republican tradition.

  • Kensei

    Garibaldy

    Things can indeed exist before the name was put on it, and there are proto-Socialists just as there were proto-Nationalists, but without Marx more than anything else the comparisons are moot. Connolly died before “socialist2 and “communist” really started to diverge.

    I think Irish Republicanism has always stood for progressive politics. But there is the progressive and libertarian right, as much as there is the progressive left. Who could claim that Ireland has not become more prosperous and more secular over the past 15 years? Republicans should be thinking deeply on how to improve people’s lives — and that includes dealing with issues such as inequality. but it needs dne in a forward thinking matter, and with reference to successes, rather than ideas that have bailed in practice and have been theoretically undermined.

  • Well the thing is that in the middle of the current crisis, the present system doesn’t look too infallible. And I don’t think socialism has been tried in Ireland yet. For you, the experience of the old socialist countries invalidates all Marxist-based models. For others, there were the product of a certain set of conditions in concrete historical circumstances that cannot be repeated, and so the mistakes produced by those conditions need not be repeated.

  • Kensei

    Garibaldy

    What type of car do you like? What colour? What about the interior, what’s it like? CD Changer or iPod dock? Now consider everyone else will like a bit different. How do you allocate the resources to produce cars? How do you then allocate resources for cars, versus say grain?

    Centralised control cannot answer those questions. It doesn’t matter how well run a Marxist state is run, it hits these problems. The practical failures are predicted by theory.

    We may be talking at cross purposes. There are places where the use of markets may be inappropriate; there are areas where profit might not produce goods we deem desirable. The railways may be a good example. There is a sound argument for public ownership here. But it is one basedon market failure.

    “Socialism” can be used to refer to social democracy, or Communism. There is mileage in the first but not the second. Dissident Republicans are Marxists, as was Connolly.

    There are big questions to be answered in the wake of the current crisis: how do we regulate markets? How do we ensure greater equality and fairer income distribution? What’s the best way to encourage growth? How do we deal with spiraling health and pension costs?

    The left will have things to say on those issues. But if it says only what was said 80 years ago, it’ll be crushed by forward thinking on the right. We need to adapt the ideas and ideology for a new year. Forward looking, not back.

  • Brian Walker

    The preoccupation with Irish Republicanism as any kind of living ideology seem to me to be the result of the tradition’s isolation from mainstream Europe post 1918 and especially WW2. At its source, France, old-style republicanism was largely dying post-war and dead after 1969. Some battles notably over secular education had been won; other elements had been absorbed into the system, notably human rights in a written constitution. To make it even more complicated, communist/socialist struggle was added to the mix, leaving France politically deadlocked by the Popular Front of 1936. By the 1950s the French seemed to realise that they could not afford the terrible divisions that made them even weaker after the huge sacrifices of WW1.
    The American revolution after independence did not reproduce the ideological divisions of Europe.
    On balance the truncated Ireland after independence was lucky. Yet still it clung to a narrower and narrower debate along theological lines fanned by civil war rivalries, almost for want of anything else to do. It should be evident that the one leg of republicanism that really caught on in the north, a vision of a unitary State created by revolution is nonsense and that the pidgin marxism of Sinn Fein is no more than embarrassing populism. It has to be shed if they are ever to aspire to a major role. Maybe it’s time now to move on to social democracy v liberal democracy? But how to get there when Ireland’s unique political history since 1922 inhibits it and a modern theory of Irish unity is glaringly absent? Starting with ” if only Connolly were alive today” is just a game.

  • Kensei

    Brian

    Way to completely miss the point. The point absolutely has nothing to do with “if Connolly was alive today”. The point is that he thought about the world, and he linked Republicanism with Socialism. Republicanism wasn’t the same after Connolly as it was before. Those on the left who make claim his mantle, however, want Republicanism to be the same now and for all time. Do you get it?

    Second, I primarily concerned with answering Mark and the dissident left’s claim to the Republican legacy and it’s definition in a narrow sense. The vast majority of men and women on this island are Republican, so please, spare me the waffling. Republicanism in the South is, for the most part so ingrained as to be invisible but push the right buttons and you can see it come out. Suggest the Republic be reintroduced to the Union, try amending the constitution without a free vote, or suggest some of its fundamental statutes be repealed and see what reaction you get is. It is still a worthwhile thing to proclaim republican ideas, and to measure ourselves against them. It should simply be in times when it is endangered that should be expressed. I wish Ireland was more like America in this respect.

  • Kensei and Brian,

    Do you really believe that the Provos were ever a Marxist organisation, as you both seem to suggest? I think that there were some who thought that way, but they were never more than a small percentage, and never representative of the people pulling the triggers or the leadership (Brian Keenan might be considered an exception).

    On Kensei’s point about the importance of meeting consumer needs, I absolutely agree. Any future socialist society will have to find means to be much more responsive to people’s wants than the eastern European regimes were. I think that the growth in technology, and our much greater experiences of consumer society, offer possible ways forward.

    Of course the left needs to address the points Kensei raises. And frankly it hasn’t been successful in doing so. But there are short term and long term goals. In the short term, the aim of socialists of all stripes should be to defend and expand the welfare state, and to ensure that the banks and speculators can never again behave like this and be bailed out. That will require smarter taxation, better regulation, and the better use of government investment. The market is in crisis and failing. The power of the state has been demonstrated in vivid fashion. Let’s use it positively.

    The implicit assumptions in both Kensei’s and Brian’s posts is that socialists are automatically locked into the past. I don’t think this is so. There are places in Portugal where the local authorities are run by the CP where they have started novel and effective job creation programmes for example. The main lesson I draw from Connolly personally is the one I quoted earlier – the need to think imaginatively and flexibly, but always keep the interests of the ordinary citizen at the forefront.

    On Brian’s points about republicanism. He might find Robert Gildea’s new book Children of the Revolution of interest, which argues not that WWI healed the divisions in France behind the Republic through the sacrifices in the war. I’d disagree that the US never saw the type of ideological splits that Europe did. During the era of the French Revolution they had exactly the same arguments as Europe, though as you say the different conditions and culture there saw their politics diverge. It seems to me Ireland north and south is in need of a good dose of old-fashioned, militantly secular republicanism to fully secularise the place, and create a sense of common identity. This seems all the more important with the significant immigration into the south.

  • Brian Walker

    Kensei,
    “Waffling”, “rambling” the words are yours, I leave then to you – not my style. It may not be quite your point, but these were thoughts. I didn’t mean to hurt you over the Connolly ref but I seem to have. Sorry if I offended. I did get the point as I thought was obvious.
    You now say:
    “Suggest the Republic be reintroduced to the Union, try amending the constitution without a free vote, or suggest some of its fundamental statutes be repealed and see what reaction you get is. It is still a worthwhile thing to proclaim republican ideas, and to measure ourselves against them. It should simply be in times when it is endangered that should be expressed. I wish Ireland was more like America in this respect.”

    Fine, if by republican you mean the written Bunreacht Na hÉireann and its amendments, absolutely fine. I’m not sure though how it moves much on. These are basic democratic values held throughout Europe. All our states are de facto if not de jure republics now and try to be mutually reinforcing. That is one one long thread of a legacy of the French revolution. Great point of history.

    However we could do with a new theory of Irish relationships that doesn’t beg the question of unity or deny it. That’s the main point for me.

    btw, when did America last measure itself against a danger? 9/11? And today? Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to another spate of America First protectionism from President Obama… Over-reverence for a constitution has it’s dangers..

  • perry

    Lovely stuff Kensei. Fits neatly with the enlightened thinking of those non-subscribing presbyterians amongst the United Irishmen.

    They were “non-subscribing” because they refused to subscribe to standardised articles of faith (in particlular the Westminster Confession), instead holding that as “revelation is not closed” – we’re called to exercise our reason and conscience in a spirit of free enquiry; developing inherited tradition in the light of current observation.

    Perhaps the very definition of republicanism is, as you say, the sovereignty of the present generation. Trying to bind the living with a duty to the dead (usually articulated by those whose argument lacks sufficient authority otherwise) may be the antithesis of proper, rational republicanism.

    Puts me in mind of Collins’ speech to the Daíl regarding the acceptance or otherwise of the treaty.

    “Deputies have spoken about whether dead men would approve it, and they have spoken of whether children yet unborn will approve it, but few of them have spoken as to whether the living approve of it….I think the decision ought to be a clear decision on the documents as they are before us….don’t let us put the responsibility..upon anybody else. Let us take that responsibility ourselves and let us in God’s name abide by the decision.”

  • Dave

    The obvious problem you have trying to inject new meaning into Irish republicanism in the south is it has been tainted (probably beyond redemption) by ethnic nationalists in Northern Ireland masquerading as republicans. I think that Irish republicanism should be reclaimed from those who have misappropriated it, mainly because those who are wrongly seen as republicans are under the control of those who have a selfish agenda to undermine the Irish nation and its claim to statehood, not consolidate it. It is not in the Irish national interest that Shinners should be seen as the keepers of that flame.

    I’m a liberal nationalist, and my view of republicanism is classical rather than informed by the Irish movements you have alluded to. A republic is the ideal organisational model for liberal nationalism. I’m wary of ethnic nationalism, and Irish republicanism in NI is ethnic nationalism. Admittedly, not being ethically Irish, I have a vested interest in a civic model of nationalism as opposed to being bound by bloodlines to “all the dead generations.” Liberal nationalism essentially means that any citizen who is loyal to the state, irrespective of what nation he originates from, enjoys full membership of the ‘Irish’ nation. The Republic of Ireland has always been closer to the model of liberal nationalism rather practicing any form of indigenous Irish republicanism. Insofar as they are Irish republicans at all, it is only because they are Irish and reside in a republic.

    Ireland is the only de jure republic in Europe. In all of the other countries, sovereignty is invested in the state and not in the people. Those states have the power to literally separate the nation from the state, giving all democratic and sovereign powers to third parties. Foolishly, Irish people have considerably diluted their sovereignty by choosing to allow others to formulate their law, design their rights, and order their lives without any right to formulate and live by their own code. So, must of Irish nationhood has already been lost by neglect, and it’s quite possible that they will squander what little remains in the next referendum and the simultaneous transfer of sovereign powers to unelected bureaucrats in the EU by the Europhilic quislings in the Dáil. Insofar as Irish republicanism has only been used as a device to secure the right to self-determination for Irish people, it may yet be revitalised again for that very purpose!

    And, one last shot at the Shinners: you cannot be republican (of any hue) if you do not abide by the principle of self-determination. As the Shinners showed only contempt for the principle of self-determination (by acting against the will of the Irish people), it follows that they were not republicans.

  • Harry Flashman

    “How do we ensure greater equality and fairer income distribution?”

    You see, if that’s your definition of socialism then straight away you’re banjaxed. What you are seeking to do by “ensuring” equality and “distributing” income is trying to impose an equality of misery, that is why socialism fails every time.

    It’s akin to running a race and at the end of it seeing that one particular runner is faster than most of the others, well you can’t make the other runners run any faster so what do you do to ensure equality and fairness? Yes, of course you break the faster runner’s ankle, simple.

    By adopting such a system you immediately destroy any incentive to improve one’s life, why study hard at school? Why work hard in your career? After all you won’t receive any reward. If you do manage to achieve something extra for yourself and your family you will have created inequality and it will be incumbent upon the state (who is now all powerful because you have surrendered your individual liberties to the government “for the greater good”) to step in and redistribute this inequality to the people who don’t have what you achieved.

    Until socialists get over their obsession with equality of outcome and instead concentrate on equality of opportunity they can never possibly hope to achieve a more equal society. But that is too difficult, it is much easier to cut down the tall poppies than to help nurture the weaker ones.

    An example, state run comprehensive education, in and of itself it is not necessarily a bad idea. However for it to work the state needs concentrate on making it the best and ignoring the private options, they must make state run education so damned good that no one in their right minds would mortgage their entire possessions to pay ludicrous fees to have their children privately educated. But that would be too difficult, that would require state schools to be excellent and also would require them to be actual schools as opposed to political youth indoctrination centres (the brainwashing of youth always being a big idea among socialists given that persuading the parents is so damned hard). No instead the socialists prefer to rail against the private schools that must be shut down in order to ensure equality.

    It is the same with the health service, rather than provide a better service than that provided by the private health system the socialists prefer simply to ban private health care. Instead of having the confidence to put out their ideas in the open market (forgive me for using the term but it’s appropriate) the socialist will always reach for the easy option; coercion.

    Find yourself unable to win elections? Ban any opposition. Can’t seem to make the collective farms work? Jail the farmers. Don’t like it when your opponents point out your mistake? Shut down the free press.

    Sorry, but if you continually seek to impose equality rather than provide the opportunities for equality to freely develop then there can be only one logical outcome; the secret police, the walls and wire, the gulag.

    Not for nothing is socialism described as the road to serfdom.

  • DK

    Republicanism is simply “Brits Out”. The definition fo “Brit” varying from HMG armed forces to anyone not a republican. The ideology is not progressive, simply append on whatever ideology is anti-british at the time, from Boneparte to the Kaiser through Hitler to Stalin and now the PLO.

  • aquifer

    Socialism seems to have been a story ethnic insurrectionists sold to their volunteer soldiers.

    Monarchy is elaborated warlordism, clan chiefs elevated to human symbols of state commanding the respect of all tribes in a territory. Elite irish separatism could be trying to conjure a similar trick, complete with puffs of smoke.

    Ironically, the assembly has its own ‘human symbols of state’ in the civic offices of the First and Deputy First Minister. Sovereignty could therefore be said to have passed ‘to the island.’

    The practice of civic democracy is a frustrating and diffuse thing compared to the thrill of allegiance and conflict and the comfort of religious solidarity, but Ireland clearly prefers it, its history having demonstrated the limitations of the alternatives. Britain warred against one european alternative in living memory.

    The practice of violent blackmail immediately exposes the lack of popular support for irish ethnic separatism.

    Sorry not to have mentioned noble Republicanism by name, but like the multiple claims of true Socialism by militant fractions and secular cults, it is not the repetition of the term which defines it, but its relationship to other real things.

  • Kensei

    “Waffling”, “rambling” the words are yours, I leave then to you – not my style. It may not be quite your point, but these were thoughts. I didn’t mean to hurt you over the Connolly ref but I seem to have. Sorry if I offended. I did get the point as I thought was obvious.

    So did I, which makes the complete willful misrepresentation of it even less understandable. I’ll leave that to you — not really my style.

    Fine, if by republican you mean the written Bunreacht Na hÉireann and its amendments, absolutely fine. I’m not sure though how it moves much on. These are basic democratic values held throughout Europe. All our states are de facto if not de jure republics now and try to be mutually reinforcing. That is one one long thread of a legacy of the French revolution. Great point of history.

    No, that’s the type of wholly “they are all the same” thinking that got Bush voted in. It is the type of wholly thinking that Robinson pushes, suggesting that somehow we have the best of both worlds. No. Government from elsewhere is always malign. Even if it is extraordinarily benevolent it does us a disservice by disempowering us of our ability to make decisions for ourselves. It’s debilitating.

    Britain’s unwritten constitution with limited checks and balances is not equal to Ireland’s written one. Britain’s monarchy and established church are similarly not equal. No, it still matters — the differing approaches to Europe and the role of the people in deciding it stems directly from the power flowing from the top in the UK, and in the bottom in Ireland.

    Moreover, it extends far beyond simple written documents. Irish attitudes and British attitudes are different on a range of issues. The point I was making is that sometimes you have to scratch the surface to see it, but don’t be fooled.

    However we could do with a new theory of Irish relationships that doesn’t beg the question of unity or deny it. That’s the main point for me.

    Yes, because you are a bloody Unionist. If I have one point of agreement with dissidents, it is that the sovereignty ball was dropped a bit over the course of the GFA negotiations. Republicanism should have been for more sovereignty in Irish hands. It is one of thsoe fundamental things Garibaldy was talking about.

    btw, when did America last measure itself against a danger? 9/11? And today? Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to another spate of America First protectionism from President Obama… Over-reverence for a constitution has it’s dangers..

    Perhaps, but as Bill Clinton said everything bad about America can be cured by everything good. What pulls them back every time they veer into intolerance? The power and respect for their Constitution, which remains one of the most incendiary documents ever written. It shows the value of holding on to those ideals, even when they seem universal, because the eventually will be challenged.

    HF

    I didn’t say the list was prescriptive. I also said distribution, not redistribution (though not opposed to that per se). And even the right believes in equal rights, but argues over how far they should extend.

    Dave

    Tell it to “the Republican Party”.

    DK

    Yeah, thanks for that.

  • I must be missing something because I have always thought that a republican was one who believed in a republic – i. e., a state with an elected chief, unlike a monarchy which has hereditary ones.

    The United States is a republic because it has an elected chief of state but he is also its chief executive, making the office doubly powerful as we can see in today’s most messy world.

    The United Irishmen wanted a separate Ireland, one which didn’t have the British Crown as its head, and with all the hangers-on who went with it.

    “Tone’s desire to ‘break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country,'” George Boyce wrote in a recent article, quoting from Professor Marianne Elliott’s biograph of Tone, “and his hope of substituting the ‘common name of Irishman, in the place of denominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter’ became, as Elliot observed’ the most quoted passage of Irish history.’ ”

    So let’s not expend our energies by discussing later ideologies when the subject should be about republicanism.

  • Brian Walker

    Kensei,

    You quote me first and add: “However we could do with a new theory of Irish relationships that doesn’t beg the question of unity or deny it. That’s the main point for me.

    “Yes, because you are a bloody Unionist. If I have one point of agreement with dissidents, it is that the sovereignty ball was dropped a bit over the course of the GFA negotiations. Republicanism should have been for more sovereignty in Irish hands. It is one of those fundamental things Garibaldy was talking about.”

    The tone (“bloody Unionist”) deliberately stops a debate that ought to continue sometime, whether about unity or the virtues of a written constitution, the point of it being to help us live in a world that actually exists, rather than in the silo of our dreams. This isn’t at all to claim that the union is in any fundamental sense better, just that one day, people will have to stop playing the old zero sum game and claiming too much idealism for either. You start by stopping arguing directly from history.

  • PaddyReilly

    The ideology is not progressive, simply append on whatever ideology is anti-british at the time, from Boneparte to the Kaiser through Hitler to Stalin and now the PLO.

    Is the PLO anti-British? I thought it was just anti-Israeli. Like Hamas, it operates from London. Also Stalin was Britain’s ally. He didn’t get a lot of Irish republican votes. There were and are a lot more British Hitler fans than Irish ones. And the Kaiser had his Ulster fans too: “If Protestant Geordie won’t help us, Protestant Billy will” was their motto.

  • Mayoman

    HF: “It’s akin to running a race and at the end of it seeing that one particular runner is faster than most of the others, well you can’t make the other runners run any faster so what do you do to ensure equality and fairness? Yes, of course you break the faster runner’s ankle, simple.”

    A new model of socialism must address this point. Your analogy, though, misses the really important point. In society today, its not who’s the fastest, but who’s placed further ahead when the race starts! We see the product today of letting greedy, intellectually-bereft right-wing businessmen run the economy. These, I presume, are your ‘fast runners'(is your race the first to the edge of a cliff?). The revised aims of republican socialism should be to eradicate totally any form of discrimination that holds a section of society back. Two/three-tier education systems, two/three-tier health systems, blind negelect of social issues in ‘deprived’ areas. Let an equal playing field be created, then let the market do its work — and not just lip-praise to these objectives. Re-distribution of wealth by ensuring that every single citizen has an equal chance of accessing and benefitting from the market.

  • Reader

    PaddyReilly: And the Kaiser had his Ulster fans too: “If Protestant Geordie won’t help us, Protestant Billy will” was their motto.
    They were wrong though, weren’t they? What they actually got was Casement.

  • RepublicanStones

    Food for thought Kensei. Republicanism has indeed been linked with various elements on the politcal and economic wheels. However, I feel that the central tenets of republicanism, those of Locke and Rousseau’s visions – sovereignty invested in the populace, seperation of powers, revolution if needed, egalitarianism (where the anti-monarchism ideals rest) can be applied to more than just one socioeconomic model. If I remember correctly you espouse a form of republicanism whilst containing these elements does not advocate the bolted on Marxist/Socialist tendencies so prevalent among many of the irish republicanism tradition. I would tend to agree. Whilst I do favour Beveridge’s ‘cradle to the grave’ in respect of health and i would advocate the same for education, I would also take a more laissez-faire attitude in respect the economy and business. Republicanism is attractive to me because it is established upon the sovereignty invested in the most important asset any nation/country has – its people. Everyone has a vested interest in electing good people to government, and as such the laws passed by said govt have legitimacy because they come form the authority bestowed upon the legislators by the people they work for -the populace. While never perfect, if the old adage ‘power corrupts…’ holds true, the right to revolution, indeed the obligation (as Locke put it) is there as a safeguard. The anti-monarchist element of republicanism stems not from an inherent hatred of power or percieved ‘betters’, rather from a love of fellow man and the belief that each man is born equal. Therefore monarchy is incompatible with the central tenet of egalitariansim. Many would also seek to instill fear through the mis-interpretation of the term ‘egalitarianism’. It does not refer to equality of output (where some marxists might gain succour) rather equality of opportunity.

    Anyway…good thread.

  • Brian Walker

    Garibaldy, Thanks for the Gildea book ref. I called the Provos “pidgin” Marxists which is probably unkind to pidgin. On the US, I’d hoped I was clear that European splits didn’t feature much after the revolution, although of course it was much inspired by the ferment of the Enlightenment, Montesquieu, the other Encyclopedists etc., the comparisons and contrasts being brilliantly described by Tocqueville in Democracy in America.

  • kensei

    Brian

    The principle of the sovereignty of the Irish people is fundamental. To suggest a Republicanism without it is to suggest a Republicanism that is worthless. So, yes, I’d cut off the suggestion we can somehow have Republicanism without sovereignty resting in the Irish people.

    JFK was described as a pragmatic idealist. That is where I’d like to be, and I will hold tightly to my dreams and principles thankyouverymuch. I’m interested in change so that Republicanism can better shape the world around it, and better express its vision. I’m interested in removing those things that got attached to it but are not truly Republican, and do not belong. I’m not interested in arguing to abridge those principles so that it better reflects a world that is imperfect and makes Unionists happy. There is much more for Republicans to do than simply get unity, and I hope to do something on that. But it will always “beg the question”.

    If you want to have a debate on whether an unwritten constitution is worth the paper it’s written on, then you can start a thread on it and I’ll tell you why it isn’t.

  • Brian,

    I reckon it wasn’t really til the 1820s or after that America seriously diverged. The Gildea book is well worth a read. Excellent.

    Tocqueville. An interesting read, though at bottom I can’t really see it as anything other than an attempt to work out how the French aristocracy could neuter democracy as far as possible to ensure their continued domination of French politics and society. It would not, of course, be until the Third Republic that the bourgeoisie successfully neutered the social threat posed by the spirit of equality (or ressentiment as Nietzsche would have put it). America as the future for Europe. Thanfully not.

  • Brian Walker

    Kensei

    “The principle of the sovereignty of the Irish people is fundamental.”

    To you and many others fine, (whatever “fundamental” means exactly), but that is a private or sectional matter and it no longer applies even in theory to the whole island since the GFA. This is not a little aberration in some greater reality. If it was, it would mean your sovereignty was recognised as superior to another’s and that is not the case. What is “fundamental” as distinct from aspirational is the principle of mutual consent. That principle can of course accommodate unity. To join the mainstream debates about the future of Ireland, this needs to be acknowledged although everyone has a right to reserve their ideal position. It would be a pity if you opted out but as Tony Blair once said: ” the train will leave without you.”

    “Sovereignty” in any case has become a more limited concept in a multipolar age. I look forward to “much more for Republicans to do.” Your description of republicanism is more promising than your “fundamental” so there’s hope in that. I don’t need to be “told” about written or unwritten constitutions, though I’m happy to discuss them, thanks. Private dialogues about sectional interests are ok and it’s nice when other people can join them.

  • Brian,

    I’m not sure that is an accurate reading of the new articles two and three. Which as far as I can see still regard the whole island as the ultimate object for the constitution, but state that this will not be so until the majority in the north agrees. I think I understand the point you are making, but it risks echoes of the old attitude that people who would prefer unity must accept the constitution before they can be treated with as equals. That attitude got us August 1969.

  • PaddyReilly

    They were wrong though, weren’t they? What they actually got was Casement.

    They weren’t so much wrong, as successful in their attempt to blackmail the British Government into giving them what they wanted. Or rather, not giving then what they didn’t want.

  • kensei

    To you and many others fine, (whatever “fundamental” means exactly), but that is a private or sectional matter and it no longer applies even in theory to the whole island since the GFA. This is not a little aberration in some greater reality. If it was, it would mean your sovereignty was recognised as superior to another’s and that is not the case. What is “fundamental” as distinct from aspirational is the principle of mutual consent. That principle can of course accommodate unity. To join the mainstream debates about the future of Ireland, this needs to be acknowledged although everyone has a right to reserve their ideal position. It would be a pity if you opted out but as Tony Blair once said: “ the train will leave without you.”

    The train doesn’t go anywhere without a majority of Nationalists, Brian. We’re driving the train just as much as Unionists. Mutual consent is accepted in the sense that it is accepted that there is no viable way forward, and likely never to be any viable way forward without the consent of everyone here. That is the pragmatic half of “pragmatic idealist”. But the principle that power over Irish government should be Irish hands is fundamental, and Republicans should be doing everything within viable frameworks to ensure that is the case. What I cannot accept is that the Irish people can ever give up their sovereignty, any more than a man can sell himself to slavery.

    “Sovereignty” in any case has become a more limited concept in a multipolar age.

    No, it remains fundamental. In some instances it has been more dispersed.But Ireland could pull all of its sovereignty back to itself if it so choose. In practice it is more free by allowing a little of it to be merged with other entities.

    I look forward to “much more for Republicans to do.” Your description of republicanism is more promising than your “fundamental” so there’s hope in that.

    I look forward to going to patronise someone else.

    I don’t need to be “told” about written or unwritten constitutions, though I’m happy to discuss them, thanks. Private dialogues about sectional interests are ok and it’s nice when other people can join them.

    I don’t believe I’ve managed to shut you up. I tend to agree, though it helps if they don’t gatecrash and announce “it’s all a pile of nonsense anyway” without any attempt to understand where the debate is at or where people are coming form. Seems somewhat boorish to me.

  • Harry Flashman

    So how is Irish Republicanism defined?

    Was Gerry Fitt an Irish Republican? Was Paddy Devlin? Was Michael Collins? Was Eoghain O’Duffy? Was Charles Haughey? Is John Hume?

    The US political party which seems to evince the most hatred on this forum goes by the name of Republican. To me they understand better than their opponents, who tellingly refer to themselves as Democrats rather than Republican, what a Republic actually means. This is no mere case of splitting hairs, the two concepts are not necessarily the same, you can be a democrat without being a republican and you can be a republican without being a democrat.

    Is Sinn Fein really republican? Is Fianna Fail? Is Fine Gael? Is the SDLP?

    Frankly the way the terms are usually bandied about it is quite clear that in actual fact most people haven’t a clue what being a “republican” or indeed a “democrat” or a “socialist” or a “liberal” actually mean.

  • consul

    The definition of republicanism. Yeah, certainly not so easy to give one that enjoys universal consensus, as like many things out there, it can be all things to all men (or women) depending on their respective worldviews. In the age of the media, spin, or bs if you prefer is the order of the day and no issue escapes. So all anyone can do is give their own opinion and speak for themselves.

    For me republicanism means every citizen in the state holding equal rights and equal responsibility. It means equal opportunity for all. This means that regardless of a citizens means, they should be entitled to the same healthcare for example as any other citizen. It means that children coming from meagre beginnings should get access to the same standard of education as children coming from more comfortable circumstances. It does not mean however that the thoroughbreds should subvent the donkeys of society and keep them in the same style.

    That’s where socialism falls flat on it’s face in my opinion, because as suggested earlier in the thread it stifles any incentive to achieve. Republicanism is the vehicle which allows for the people of a republic to choose the nature of the state. Socialism is but one choice open and in Ireland’s case it has been left on the shelf, with most people being right of centre in their outlook.

    So republicanism is really power for the people to shape their society and it is only recently that we have seen the real value of this when the government and opposition showed themselves to be sadly lacking in their resolve to uphold and represent the will of the people.

  • Harry Flashman

    “This means that regardless of a citizens means, they should be entitled to the same healthcare for example as any other citizen.”

    Is that really the definition of republicanism?

    In other words if a dictator took control of a nation on behalf of his family and enriched themselves enormously, so long as decent healthcare was provided for the masses then that would be an acceptable republic?

    Saddam, Suharto and Castro might think so, others might disagree.

  • consul

    Harry I submitted that as one of the aims of a republic. I did not intend to suggest that as long as this one end was achieved that all other problems in society were acceptable. I would hope that you would not take issue with the idea that everyone should have equal medical care.

  • aquifer

    Kensei

    “The principle of the sovereignty of the Irish people is fundamental.”

    Is that all the people on the island?

    Do they have to be sovereign all at the one time or can they do it in groups?

    If an Irish armed gang takes over the whole lot, and refuses to have an election afterwards, that is sovereignty too, right?

    Or do you mean separation rather than sovereignty?

  • kensei

    aquifer

    Is that all the people on the island?

    Yup.

    Do they have to be sovereign all at the one time or can they do it in groups?

    If you count yourself part of the Irish nation, then you are subsumed into that sovereignty. If you don’t, then they have a competing claim.

    If an Irish armed gang takes over the whole lot, and refuses to have an election afterwards, that is sovereignty too, right?

    Don’t be ridiculous. They are usurping the Irish people’s sovereignty, are tyrants and need overthrown by any means possible for a government that is democratic.

    Or do you mean separation rather than sovereignty?

    No, I mean sovereignty.

    Garibaldy

    You suggest that technology could get around Marxism’s information program. With my computer science hat on, I can tell you there is no program ever able to be right that can either 1. figure out what people want 2. figure out how to properly allocate resources without a human telling it how at some point in the process.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Don’t forget folks, Thomas Paine’s writings on Republicanism which strongly influenced the American revolutionary founding fathers, the French revolution as well as the United Irishmen!

  • Sure Kensei, I meant as a way of allowing people to communicate their desires to the government, tracking purchase choices etc. The sort of stuff Tesco etc get accused of doing, except with people knowing about it. It’s obviously a sketchy thought as opposed to a fully developed plan.

  • Harry Flashman

    “I would hope that you would not take issue with the idea that everyone should have equal medical care.”

    If it could be achieved voluntarily I would certainly have no objection but if equal medical care was achieved by denying people health care to which they could legitimately aspire then most certainly I would object.

    Your use of the word “should” indicates coercion, so once again you’re coming back to the equality of misery agenda; if joe soap can’t afford good health care then john doe should not be allowed to have it either.

    It is better to be a free individual in a land with poor government welfare than to have your every need provided by a state apparatus which ultimately owns you and your family.

  • It is better to be a free individual in a land with poor government welfare than to have your every need provided by a state apparatus which ultimately owns you and your family

    Though that statement is assuming (or at least from the earlier posts infering) that socialized medicine ultimately leads to totaltarianism. Now Canada may be many things but a police state it is not. Nor is a country with poor government welfare any more inclined towards having a “free” populace.

    And as for your 3:18 post. Well its called context and you’ve been around long enough to know that.

  • pfhl

    Republicanism encompasses a belief in sovereignty, in democracy

    Posted by kensei on Oct 16, 2008 @ 10:59 PM

    As we all know there are many on the island of Ireland who do not count themselves as part of the irish nation. How do we preserve their democratic rights, while being irish republican, if we believe in their democratic right for which they vote, which would be the continuation of the union?

    Although irish republicanism does call for a sovereign nation in nearly any group that claim the name, how do we reconcile that with a respect for the democratic mandate that unionism holds which stands in the way of the nation republicanism calls for?

    Say we do vote for unification at some time in the future, what form of input from britian will be allowed for to accomadate all those british people up here? Would it be something along the line of the cross border bodies we currently have between north and south? Could irish republicans accomodate a parliament that had a british input? This would be because, although a minority, a significant number of the electorate would not wish to cut themselves of from britain. Surely their democratic wishes must be respected if all the children of the nation are to be treated equally.

    I would love to think that everybody could see themselves as irish but as a Ballymena man I could not see this happening, It won’t happen here for a long time. The reality is many will only see themselves as british even if reunification happens.

    You have quoted a paragraph from the proclamation of 1916 which starts with,”The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman.” and ends with the line,”oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”

    The first line is a clear assumption which is a bit out of date. Why should people place their allegiance to a republic that had not been democratically voted for? The second line does have some truth in it but in reality is far from the complete picture of the divisions in Ireland with sectarian tensions clearly playing a part. These did not all come from Britian whether we like to admit it or not.

    Irish republicans must accept we will not have a 100% irish island of ireland for a long time after reunification if it does happen as divisions will not disappear when London hands over control of taxation, defense and whatever else they take care off . It is the republicans challenge to see what democratic institutions must be put in place to safeguard the interests of unionism. Only then can republicans show that Tone’s words were not meaningless. The trouble is though it flies in the face of the sovereign nation idea as britian would still have an input.

    “oblivious of the differences”

    Could a sovereign Irish republic be respecting democracy if they are oblivious to the clear differences that exist? They would be very important differences that a government could surely not be oblivious to if we are to respect their democratic wishes.

    What is more important for irish republicanism as an ideal? Would it be a sovereign nation or a democratic one? One must be compromised on if there is to be a sovereign nation that includes the whole of Ireland.

  • Dave

    “Would it be a sovereign nation or a democratic one?” – pfhl

    Democracy and sovereignty are inextricably interlinked – they are not alternatives. Sovereignty is the power of the State to make decisions and act upon them, and democracy is the process by which the Nation selects those who will exercise that sovereignty. There is no point electing people to make decisions if you have transferred the sovereignty to third parties that you cannot elect, is there? You cannot separate sovereignty from democracy. As in the case of the EU, transferring the power to make decisions about how you live your life without acquiring a mandate from you or being in any way accountable to you is an an abdication of democracy.

    For example, Ireland has transferred sovereignty over its transport policy to the EU. In 2010, an EU directive will be imposed that requires all vehicles to drive at all times of the day with the lights on. This is intended to lower fatalities in those EU member states that are in a different time zone to Ireland. However, it will have the effect on Irish roads of making motorcyclists considerably less visible, as we require that they stand out from other vehicles by driving at all times of the day with the lights on. This EU directive will lead to an increase in fatalities among Irish motorcyclists, but as we no longer have sovereignty, we must act in a manner that will lead to an increase in deaths among that group. Another example: Ireland transferred sovereignty over its monetary policy to the EU in 1999. The EU’s ECB set interest rates at 2% at a time when they should have been set by the Irish Central Bank under the Taylor Rule at 6%. We knew that low interest rates would cause rapid house price inflation, but we did not have the power to set our interest rates at a level that was appropriate to the needs of the Irish economy because we transferred that power to third parties, so we traded a solid growth economy for a boom-and-bust economy. As it stands, over 70% of all laws passed in Ireland are imposed by the EU.

    Your independence is already squandered, and deciding that you should compromise it further by granting the UK control over it in some format in order to appease a tiny minority of British citizens who will always correctly deduce that their sense of national identity will be better served by remaining a part of the UK really isn’t very smart thinking – even if it is the Redmondite agenda that the UK is keeping in reserve in case the Unionists ever turn native, as implicit in the GFA.

    “As we all know there are many on the island of Ireland who do not count themselves as part of the irish nation. How do we preserve their democratic rights, while being irish republican, if we believe in their democratic right for which they vote, which would be the continuation of the union?” – pfhl

    Very easily done: since you have accepted, by signing the GFA, that you (assuming you are a Northern Irish nationalist) do not have a right to self-determination, but have an aspiration toward it that is conditional of the whims of those not of your nation, you accept that you were born British and will die British. Either that or start up the Troubles again and go for a repartition outcome. Anyway, what about the Poles? Surely their president should have a role in your bizarre view of things if the British get a constitutional role?

    Ireland already guarantees the rights of all of its citizens, Poles, Chinese, British, Japanese, et al. All of them become Irish under Ireland’s model of civic nationalism. That’s the advantage of liberal nationalism over the ethnic nationalism of the Northern Irish.

    Eventually you folks will catch-on that the GFA is about integrating you into the UK, and you’ll realise that it isn’t in any way intended to serve an Irish unity agenda.

  • Dave

    By the way, you have to love that line of thinking: how do you make the British vote to join the Republic? Why you dismantle the Republic and replace it whatever the British want. Never mind the citizens of the Republic in all of this – they love parasites so much that they’ll work harder and pay an extra 10 billion in taxes just or the privilege of turning Ireland into a replica of Northern Ireland. Lay off the drugs, kids, as my friend Bob De Niro said, “They turn your brains to mush.”

  • kensei

    Although irish republicanism does call for a sovereign nation in nearly any group that claim the name, how do we reconcile that with a respect for the democratic mandate that unionism holds which stands in the way of the nation republicanism calls for?

    Currently, the vehicle is the principle of consent.

    Say we do vote for unification at some time in the future, what form of input from britian will be allowed for to accomadate all those british people up here? Would it be something along the line of the cross border bodies we currently have between north and south? Could irish republicans accomodate a parliament that had a british input? This would be because, although a minority, a significant number of the electorate would not wish to cut themselves of from britain. Surely their democratic wishes must be respected if all the children of the nation are to be treated equally.

    No, the British government should have no input in internal Irish affairs. There is space for supporting cultural expression, exchange programmes, dual nationality and excetera. It’s not really much different from what Unionists demand now.

    The reality is many will only see themselves as british even if reunification happens.

    Of course they will. I am arguing for who makes our laws, not demanding insight into the hearts of men or imposing some kind of cricket test. Many British people live quite happily in Ireland.

    Could a sovereign Irish republic be respecting democracy if they are oblivious to the clear differences that exist?

    Government has to be oblivious to differences otherwise some people are more equal than others.

  • consul

    It seems you’re determined to misrepresent me Harold. In both your posts that take issue with mine you have twisted my words to make out I’m saying things that I never said at all. If you really want to pull me up on something I would prefer if you stick to what I actually said and not what I didn’t say. If you’re in the mind-reading business I would advise you to try something else because you’re not any good at it.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Now Canada may be many things but a police state it is not.”

    Not yet but oddly enough Canada is the developed nation most advanced in applying thought crime legislation to criminalise “unacceptable” political ideas, which combined with its excessive welfarism is no coincidence.

    consul

    I don’t mind read, I don’t need to, I simply quote the words you actually write. If you don’t mean what you say then don’t say it.

  • consul

    In other words if a dictator took control of a nation on behalf of his family and enriched themselves enormously, so long as decent healthcare was provided for the masses then that would be an acceptable republic?

    Your words not mine.

    if equal medical care was achieved by denying people health care to which they could legitimately aspire then most certainly I would object.

    Again your words not mine.

    Your use of the word “should” indicates coercion, so once again you’re coming back to the equality of misery agenda; if joe soap can’t afford good health care then john doe should not be allowed to have it either.

    It is better to be a free individual in a land with poor government welfare than to have your every need provided by a state apparatus which ultimately owns you and your family.

    Once more you’re telling me what I’m saying and what my words indicate. You come up with a conclusion that does not bear any resemblance to my view on that matter at all. It is all a figment of your imagination. If you believe that your interpretation of my words are more accurate than mine, then I believe there’s not much hope of reasoning with you.

    It is highly likely that you’ll try to refute this as you’re another one of these last word merchants. So knock yourself out, you can have your last word. I’ve had enough of your nonsense.

  • HF,
    And yet here in America we’ve had an administration that has done many things that violate civil liberties and International Law and yet because the state doesn’t think that its their business to provide healthcare we’re some how more free?

  • In regards to Canada. Are you referring to the fact that the government has added sexual orientation in regards to hate crime laws?

  • pfhl

    Dave

    There is no point electing people to make decisions if you have transferred the sovereignty to third parties that you cannot elect, is there? You cannot separate sovereignty from democracy. As in the case of the EU, transferring the power to make decisions about how you live your life without acquiring a mandate from you or being in any way accountable to you is an an abdication of democracy.

    People do not have to vote for a party that firmly supports putting more power in the hands of the EU. By electing an EU friendly party, the irish people show they are okay with handing over more powers? They can also vote for a party that would leave the EU if they were that annoyed. They do not choose to do this. In other words people can use their democratic vote to oppose those decisions taken in the EU for Ireland.

    Was Nazi Germany not sovereign, but you surely would not argue it was democratic.

    Your independence is already squandered, and deciding that you should compromise it further by granting the UK control over it in some format in order to appease a tiny minority of British citizens who will always correctly deduce that their sense of national identity will be better served by remaining a part of the UK really isn’t very smart thinking

    The problem is they are a significant minority and have as much right to their views as I have. I would rather Britian did not have an influence but I must respect the views of a significant proportion of this island are as legitimate as mine. I also do not see it as the UK having control but acting as advisors on a body which will work for the protection of unionist interests. I am sure we could also address issues that affect both Britian and Ireland such as fishing, Drugs trafficking, off-shore energy and any other similar interests where our Islands share common challenges.

    “Anyway, what about the Poles? Surely their president should have a role in your bizarre view of things if the British get a constitutional role? ”

    Would you really suggest that the relationships with poland and britian are the same. It is ignorant to think that their is not a special historic link between the islands as our histories are so similar. Dublin was the second city of the empire at a time and many irishmen fought for king and country. Even the great O’Connell talked of king and country.

    In relation to point 15, where have I suggested making the republic of Ireland into a replica of northern Ireland, I just simply think there should be special safeguards in place or good will shown to unionism. I say this because I believe that it is an irishman’s job to end the sectarianism on this island and we can achieve this by acts of good. I believe good will gestures that could even be seen as positive discrimination could be in place for a while.

  • pfhl

    kensei

    “Currently, the vehicle is the principle of consent.”

    I know that’s we currently have but I was suggest after re-unification. Do we treat it as saying, “we won, put up with it our get out?” Should there being any special arrangments for those who still consider themselves british?

    “No, the British government should have no input in internal Irish affairs. There is space for supporting cultural expression, exchange programmes, dual nationality and excetera. It’s not really much different from what Unionists demand now.”

    That is less than nationalists in the north enojoy now. I am only talking about cross border bodies where co-operation on key isues is encouraged. As we have many similar concerns due to our proximity and shared waters, surely it is beneficial to work together. I realise this happens in Brussels but would it not be beneficial for both to work together on issues that affect us more than they would other parts of Europe. We could hold a common voice regards fishing, off-shore energy, similar drug trafficking problems and the enviroment of course.

    “Of course they will. I am arguing for who makes our laws, not demanding insight into the hearts of men or imposing some kind of cricket test. Many British people live quite happily in Ireland. ”

    The difference is however they have moved to Ireland, the people we are talking about may have lived in Britian for 60 years then due to a vote their lawmakers are now Irish and preside in Dublin. This could be a very difficult change for some and I suggest offering them safeguards that if their interests are ignored in a new Ireland they do not feel cut off. I personally do not see why their culture would not be respected as the present government has been genourous to the orange order in the past. That is why I propose a British-Irish body not that I think it is needed but I believe it would be a sweetener to unionism that they can fall back on Britian.

    “Government has to be oblivious to differences otherwise some people are more equal than others. ”

    Surely no government with a progressive tax rate is oblivious to difference. They discriminate against the rich. Governments everywhere discrinate in law between age and sex. Governments anywhere must discriminate between what areas need help and those that don’t. A government anywhere must search for differences anywhere they occur and see people are treated fairly. Governments can not be oblivious to differences or they wil not know what needs fixed. I am quite happy that people should treat pensioners better because their age is different. Equally the young as they require guidance.

  • Dave

    “By electing an EU friendly party, the irish people show they are okay with handing over more powers?”

    No, Article 6 of the Irish constitution sovereignty declares resides with the people, not the government. As I said earlier: “Ireland is the only de jure republic in Europe. In all of the other countries, sovereignty is invested in the state and not in the people. Those states have the power to literally separate the nation from the state, giving all democratic and sovereign powers to third parties.” That is why we have referendum to determine which sovereign powers the people are willing to give away. As 160 of Ireland’s 166 TDs supported the Lisbon Treaty and a majority of the Irish people opposed it, it is self-evident that electing pro-EU parties does not equal support for the transfer of sovereign powers to the EU.

    “They can also vote for a party that would leave the EU if they were that annoyed.”

    I respectfully suggest you acquaint yourself with what a treaty means in international law. There is no legal mechanism for Ireland to reclaim sovereign powers from the EU. Once you have assigned those powers to others, you lose all legal claims to them. It’s possible that the EU would permit us to reclaim those powers if we requested and were granted their permission to withdraw from EU membership. That, however, is entirely at the discretion of the EU. They may simply claim in the case of some of the various treaties that we have signed, such as assigning all fishing rights in our territorial waters to the EU, that they’re not prepared to return those rights for assorted reasons – they’re worth hundreds of millions of Euros to other EU member states and they could argue that those countries who have been assigned the rights to fish in our waters would suffer financial loss amounting to billions of Euros as a result of Ireland’s arbitrary action.

    “In other words people can use their democratic vote to oppose those decisions taken in the EU for Ireland.”

    Sure, it’s also called pissing in the wind. Irish people have voted against the Lisbon Treaty, but the Irish government discarded the result of that free and fair vote and is currently in conspiracy with the mandarins of the EU to reverse that “democratic vote.” In the EU parliament itself, the Irish vote will be 0.8%. That means that you have 0.8% control over the making of laws you live by. Having 0.8% sovereignty over our internal affairs when we should have 100% sovereignty over them within our national legislature is not democracy.

    “Was Nazi Germany not sovereign, but you surely would not argue it was democratic.”

    Democracy and sovereignty are inextricably interlinked. Ireland, under the control of the EU, is neither sovereign nor democratic – it merely has the carefully contrived appearance of both. Perhaps it’s better to say that you can have sovereignty without democracy but you can’t have democracy without sovereignty. Germany was sovereign, but its people were not. It’s the Statist versus the Republican. Where there is no democracy, then the people must use force to overthrow the illegitimate regime. I go with the superior Irish and American models where the people alone are sovereign as opposed to the inferior European models where the state is sovereign, not the people.

    The American Declaration of Independence states:

    [i]“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” [/i]

    The Irish Proclamation of Independence states:

    [i]“We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”[/i]

  • Dave

    [b]Continued[/]

    The declaration is that country belongs to its people, and that they alone must elect their government and determine their own law. Like our Americans cousins, I hold that they people do not have any right to give away the powers of the state to third parties. The right of a nation to self-determination does not include the right to terminate the right to self-determination. To argue otherwise is to argue that a country is not held in trust by a people for future generations but is the property of a current generation. This is not a sound basis to argue powers may be legitimately given away by one generation since it follows that the next generation have been deprived of their rightful inheritance and must act to reclaim that which is rightfully theirs. It is an act of treason to transfer the sovereign powers of the people to foreign entities.

    “The problem is they are a significant minority and have as much right to their views as I have. I would rather Britian did not have an influence but I must respect the views of a significant proportion of this island are as legitimate as mine.”

    The right of the British people to self-determination is already granted: an entity called Great Britain already exists wherein they may freely pursue that right. There is no basis in international law for the granting of two homelands – not even the Jews claim that right.

    What you are actually arguing for is that the right of the Irish people to self-determination should be qualified so that its expression is subject to the veto of those who are British. In other words, that right to self-determination of British people should be left intact and the right to self-determination of Irish people be removed. Sorry, kid, but you deserve to be hanged for that kind of treason.

    In international law, the right to self-determination is stated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Ireland is the sovereign territorial entity by which Irish people “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

    “Would you really suggest that the relationships with poland and britian are the same. It is ignorant to think that their is not a special historic link between the islands as our histories are so similar. Dublin was the second city of the empire at a time and many irishmen fought for king and country. Even the great O’Connell talked of king and country.”

    As much as I like the English and admire the many fine buildings designed by British architects in Ireland, etc, such sentiment and history are not reasonable grounds for granting them any form of sovereignty over Irish affairs.

    “In relation to point 15, where have I suggested making the republic of Ireland into a replica of northern Ireland, I just simply think there should be special safeguards in place or good will shown to unionism.”

  • Dave

    Sorry about the bold font in part 2; and here is part 3:

    [b]Continued[/b]

    The problem you have is that you were set up by the GFA to undermine the Republic of Ireland. You did not try to sell Ireland to the British. What happened was that you declared that Ireland could never guarantee the equal rights of all of its citizens and that, ergo, it must be disbanded and replaced with an entity that could. That was deeply insulting to the Irish nation and to the Irish Republic. Our constitution guarantees equal rights for all.

    The superior British diplomats played you for a bunch of dumb hicks. Now that you have conceded that Ireland must be disbanded and also conceded that you have no right to self-determination, you are forced into a situation where the only hope you have of ever getting those who hold a legitimised veto over your destiny to grant you ‘freedom’ from that hold is to de facto extend the political conditions that exist in Northern Ireland to all of the island, uniting the island under a Redmondite agenda of Home Rule.

    As I pointed out, even that back farce won’t make those who are British vote for Irish unity because they’ll always understand that their interests are best served by remaining within the UK and that they’ll have more power as 50% of NI than they’ll ever have as 15% of a UI. All that will happen via those dismal GFA shenanigans is that you will serve your master’s agenda and actively seek to undermine Irish nationalism and the Irish nation-state.

    By the way, I suggest you read the part of the GFA that imposes a legally binding obligation on any post-unity (never happen) government to act with “rigorous impartiality” between the two competing nationalisms of Irish and British. In case that little clause has no meaning to you: a government that is legally bound to act with “rigorous impartiality” between Irish nationalism and British nationalism is not a government that is capable of being partial to Irish nationalism, and, ergo, can’t be the government of an Irish nation-state – it is a government where every second decision it tries to make ends up in the courts while Irish nationalists realise that partition is the only workable option and hastily shunt the troublesome Brits back across the border one final time. I hope that that madness never comes to pass, because it will be tragic for all concerned if people are ever hoodhinked into it by media propaganda and paid quislings such as the Shinners.

  • Kensei

    phfl

    I know that’s we currently have but I was suggest after re-unification. Do we treat it as saying, “we won, put up with it our get out?” Should there being any special arrangments for those who still consider themselves british?

    Yes. None of them should involve any British Government in the running of Ireland. Those people are not powerless either — they would make up a quite considerable voting blovk in the new state. I’m not actual sure in any new state Unionists would want England interfering anyway — half the time the DUP is more “mind you own business” than SF!

    s could be a very difficult change for some and I suggest offering them safeguards that if their interests are ignored in a new Ireland they do not feel cut off.

    I agree, there should be safeguards. Internal ones. There can of course be intergovernmental links too., But they should not violate sovereignty.

    Surely no government with a progressive tax rate is oblivious to difference….

    We are talking at a constitutional level, not in terms of policy. Everyone should have equal rights. No one should get any extra.