Are the British and Irish really ” two different civilisations?”

If you want a break from the Robinsons as I do – although keeping one ear on Nolan’s mawkishness in spite of myself – try this from that Slugger favourite John Waters in the Irish Times, who makes the provocative case for saying that future trends in Ireland “ can be picked up from Radio 4. ” That is, what happens first in Britain happens next In the Republic. Is this a local version of the old saying, when the US sneezes, we in these islands catch a cold? Or is Waters arguing something more? Extracts below the fold. “We are, though profoundly interlinked and in some ways similar, two different civilisations. For understandable historical reasons, we tend to overlook the profound impact our neighbours’ politics has on ours. Unconsciously, we follow trends set “across the water”, not so much in the realm of ideas and isms as in the demeanour of the political animal. We had no equivalent of Thatcher, but nevertheless, from the mid-1980s, Irish politics took on something of her certitude as, of all people, Charles Haughey adopted something of her thinking in addressing the mess that he had contributed to making of the Irish economy. We misnamed it, as I remember, “monetarism”.
The leadership style of the Tiger years, similarly, seems to have gathered its inspiration from Tony Blair: the matey affability of Bertie and Enda seeming to arise from an unconscious desire to emulate Blair’s successful reworking of the JFK brand.

This, of course, is a general election year over there, so the next four months there may have more far-reaching consequences for Irish politics than anything happening on this island in the same space of time.”

  • granni trixie

    Brian – the Robinsons story is about serious corruption and sleeze.. ..a petty affair story is the least of it. You imply you are above such stories why would that be?

  • Totally agree with you on this. The difference, if there is one, is that we want to be seen as different. The history is largely shared, even though often from opposite sides.

    As for Tony Blair, the US now has its version of him and they are welcome, let them find out the hard way, the Brits had to.

  • Scaramoosh

    What we have seen over the last ten years is the Daily Mailisation of Ireland.

  • Mack

    Is that view a little anglo-centric? Thatcher didn’t invent ‘Thatcherism’ she was following Friedman and Regan..

    In so far as Radio 4 are themselves picking up trends from the global cultural hegemon, his thesis may be correct, but would it not make more sense to say that powerful trends are often forged stateside?

    There is enough difference in the detail to suggest that within the broad sweep Ireland and Britain forge their own paths..

  • Mack

    I’d also have thought Clinton was a more immediate role model for Blair, Bertie etc..

  • Brian,

    Obviously I would be arguing, for more than just Novel Innovative Change, that those on the GB mainland follow an/the emerging Northern Irish way of doing things, for the Good Common Folk there in the North of the island of Ireland, are QuITe Unusually and even Exceptionally SMART and Street Wise and can easily think and articulate on pressing and engaging matters for themselves, and are not easily bullied by fools to follow a corrupted Establishment model, although many’s the fool who does try, just because it is there and old and therefore presumed and assumed to be of significant value, as they strive to build a Master Template for Good Governance themselves from First Principles and which they can then export/share and set up for others in other troubled conflicted lands and recovering traumatised administrations.

    The Future has Opportunities which are unheard of in the Present and were never available for Implementation in the Past, and you can be assured that All that IT has to Offer is being Offered to them, for them to Use at their Leisure and Pleasure/Work, Rest and Play …… FOR THEY DESERVE NOTHING LESS.

    And I would refer one and all to ….
    [b]Re : It is odd[/b] …… Posted Friday 8th January 2010 00:12 GMT …. [/quote] …. for a little more, admittedly cryptic information/intelligence on such a broad band of wide ranging matters.

  • Chuck Loyola

    Are the British and Irish really ” two different civilisations?” No. They’re two distinct sub-groups of Western civilisation.

  • Greenflag


    ‘ Thatcher didn’t invent ‘Thatcherism’ she was following Friedman and Regan.’

    That’s correct up to a point . Thatcher actually refused to implement some of the more boot in the balls economic policies foisted on the South American guinea pig countries -Argentina , Chile , etc by Friedman and his band of destructive brothers in Chicago . Thatcher implemented only a minor form of the economic medication which though it led to 4.5 million unemployed in the UK and speeded the destruction of what was left of British manufacturing and engineering did not lead to tens of thousands dead and missing as happened in South America . The NHS was not touched despite the then baying of the extreme right to return Britain to a Victorian age standard of health care where the poor and weak do the decent thing and just die and cause no expense on the public purse

    Pass the Harvey’s please old boy what what ;(?

  • Greenflag

    ‘They’re two distinct sub-groups of Western civilisation.’

    Well if they were clearly and measurably distinct we probably would’nt have the political issues we have . Are they as distinct as say Portugal is from Spain? or Germany from Austria ? or Sweden from Norway ? People in Northern Ireland experience distinctness and similarity often at the same time .

    Rather than use the word ‘civilisation’ I’d use the words market economy and consumer society and in that respect there is hardly a wit of difference . The people in both countries pay heed to the great mammoniser in the living room or as my mom used to call it the ‘eejit’s lantern’ (TV) and that was when that only the BBC, ITV and RTE were available .

    The Irish would probably have remained part of the UK had they been granted Home Rule during Gladstone’s time . Although the House of Commons voted for the measure the House of Lords voted against and the Unionists of course pursued their opposition to Home Rule based on the mantra that it was Rome rule . In retrospect they had a point although it could be conjectured that had Ireland obtained Home Rule the Rome Rule aspect would have been severely curtailed from the beginning .

    With Rome rule now in retreat the Irish are becoming ever closer to their English counterparts in respect of secularism and consumer trends . This does not mean that anytime soon the Irish will replace the Pope as Head of the Church with the Queen . Although in terms of the real economic and social issues facing the country it would’nt make a discernible difference to the lives of the vast majority.

  • BelfastYid

    Mr J, I’m sure they would if the Brits would fuck off first lol