Conventional states of mind and vocational politics denied

How do you show by actions Northern Ireland is not a legitimate entity or constituent part of the British state (UK)?

I’m suggesting three simple check points of which hitting at least one might be needed to demonstrate you reject Northern Ireland as a legitmate. I will set out some reasoning later but am not claiming a definitive list by any means.

• You reject International agreements in place as a result of British involvement in Ireland
• You reject governance of the State
• You either directly support/engage in violence carried out by agencies not of the State or agree the State does not have a perpetual monopoly on violence

Northern Ireland, eh!

The term that cannot cross an Irish Republican’s lips for fear saying it might mean facing it does seem to actually exist? The north (little n), the North (big N), the six, the Occupied six, the North East….take your pick, not saying its name doesn’t make the structures less real.

It has been called the ‘failed Orange statelet’, but what of its position in political theory and International law? Of course most Irish republicans will claim they reject any view that defines Northern Ireland as other than a disconnected part of a legitimate Irish state.

But what are states and how does the rejection of Northern Ireland as legitimate fit with those definitions?Congress of Vienna:

It declared only established states could recognise other states (the British were signed up to this at its outset)

The Montevideo convention

• A permanent population – NI check
• Defined territory – NI check
• Government – NI check
• Capacity to enter into relations with other states – NI check (Westminster enters them, Stormont enacts them – see all EU legislation)

OK, so Montevideo wasn’t broadly adopted. What else?

Recognition by the UN

UK incorporating NI fully recognised. (Only the 32CSM are actively disputing this via the UN and I doubt even they think it will be successful)

Social theory

Well you can’t do much better than Max Weber

His definition – the state must retain a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. In Northern Ireland the majority demand the only legitimate uses of violence must be within the law or through agents of the state (armed forces or police).

So under the broad definitions above how do republican political actors reject NI as a legitimate political state?

Those in administration could refuse to recognise international agreements concluded by the state (UK) and they and others could recognise that violence is not solely legitimate in the hands of state forces or under state law.

This has been distilled down to a State will maintain its own internal security and protect its borders. So again, if you support the State – support its forces of law and enforcement of those laws and abide by international agreements that legitimise the State.

It is very easy to see ways to reject British State legitimacy over a northern ireland in the UK through the above. It is equally easy to see those recognising Northern Ireland as a legitimate part of the UK by their actions.

  • Paddy

    When did the term UK come into general acceptance? Leading terrorists like Churchill did not use it. He spoke of Britain and “this island” standing alone.
    I think the term comes with branding: Posh Spice, Big Brother that sort of thing.

    The Union is not under pressure now. The way to put it under pressure, I feel, is to reject republicanism (an 18th century Masonic idea, harking back to the res publica) and put pressure on its supporters, especially the Dublin 4 set.

    If one rejects the ways internationals laws are made (Big Bully rules) then one can reject the Orange state.
    If one wants to make an omeletee, crack eggs or Orange skulls. The latter is ok if you can live with it.
    One of the reasons RIRA etc are not liked is because new cowboy outfits might do new things, eg engage judges, paedophile MPs and their supporters.
    The people of the 26 cos voted for the GFA because they did not want violence. No stomach for it. PIRA were unusual that way in that they were game.
    For now, we must dump arms and wait for better days. Ireland will only be united when the uniters have a stick.

  • Paddy

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/foyle_and_west/8563846.stm

    Looks like RIRA are taking a leaf out of Shining Path’s book.

  • joeCanuck

    Mark,
    You would seem to be arguing that the only action which can be used to deny the state’s legitimacy is the use of violence. Is that it? Political action doesn’t count?

  • Cormac mac Art

    As you can see on another thread, something like this is evoking passionate discursion (see the Davy Adams article).

    Even if a significant majority of NI wish to join the republic, an equally significant majority will wish to stay in the union. Bringing them into Ireland will result in the troubles all over again, just in reverse.

    And as demonstrated by low levals of support for SF in the south, unification is not a priority for the republic. Even less so as they know that all they will be doing is transfering the problme from the UK to Ireland. Like we don’t have enough problems.

    • You reject International agreements in place as a result of British involvement in Ireland
    • You reject governance of the State
    • You either directly support/engage in violence carried out by agencies not of the State or agree the State does not have a perpetual monopoly on violence

    Northern Ireland, eh!

    The term that cannot cross an Irish Republican’s lips for fear saying it might mean facing it does seem to actually exist? The north (little n), the North (big N), the six, the Occupied six, the North East….take your pick, not saying its name doesn’t make the structures less real.

    It has been called the ‘failed Orange statelet’, but what of its position in political theory and International law? Of course most Irish republicans will claim they reject any view that defines Northern Ireland as other than a disconnected part of a legitimate Irish state.

    But what are states and how does the rejection of Northern Ireland as legitimate fit with those definitions?

    Congress of Vienna:

    It declared only established states could recognise other states (the British were signed up to this at its outset)

    The Montevideo convention

    • A permanent population – NI check
    • Defined territory – NI check
    • Government – NI check
    • Capacity to enter into relations with other states – NI check (Westminster enters them, Stormont enacts them – see all EU legislation)

    OK, so Montevideo wasn’t broadly adopted. What else?

    Recognition by the UN

    UK incorporating NI fully recognised. (Only the 32CSM are actively disputing this via the UN and I doubt even they think it will be successful)

    Social theory

    Well you can’t do much better than Max Weber

    His definition – the state must retain a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. In Northern Ireland the majority demand the only legitimate uses of violence must be within the law or through agents of the state (armed forces or police).

    So under the broad definitions above how do republican political actors reject NI as a legitimate political state?

    Those in administration could refuse to recognise international agreements concluded by the state (UK) and they and others could recognise that violence is not solely legitimate in the hands of state forces or under state law.

    This has been distilled down to a State will maintain its own internal security and protect its borders. So again, if you support the State – support its forces of law and enforcement of those laws and abide by international agreements that legitimise the State.

    It is very easy to see ways to reject British State legitimacy over a northern ireland in the UK through the above. It equally easy to see those recognising Northern Ireland as a legitimate part of the UK by their actions.

  • Mark McGregor

    Joe,

    If you think I’m advocating violence as:

    a)the only way of rejecting British legitimacy in Ireland
    b)an even slightly wise decision

    ..you haven’t been reading many/any of my entries.

  • Cormac mac Art

    “For now, we must dump arms and wait for better days. Ireland will only be united when the uniters have a stick.”

    What kind of stick, Paddy?

  • Framer

    It is all about the right to self-determination of nations and what then constitutes a nation.

    The right to self-determination entirely depends on how you define the national territory.

    Republicanism relies on the salt water concept of nations.

    This is belied by Haiti and east Timor (much loved by baroness O’Loan) for starters, but is universally accepted by those less than versed in international relations, especially the English.

    Anyway whoever gets to define the unit of self-determination is the winner.

  • Mark,

    I confess that although I have been reading your posts for some time here it took me several readings to work out what you are getting at here.

    What I think you are arguing is that the hard-line Republican analysis of the Northern Ireland situation is flawed on theoretical and practical grounds. I certainly agree, but if you will forgive me for saying it, you could probably have expressed the point with more clarity.

    In Europe at least, the Montevideo criteria are still necessary but no longer regarded as sufficient for recognition of sovereignty. The Helsinki Final Act, and subsequent EU conditionality in the cases of the former Yugoslav, Soviet and Czechoslovak states, added very significant burdens to those who wish to establish or dispute international borders on this continent. You don’t mention these considerations above.

    Any supposed analysis of the legitimacy of Northern Ireland in international law which does not also address the questions of Abkhazia, Kosovo, the Åland Islands, or indeed the South Tyrol, is not worth engaging with.

  • joeCanuck

    Mark,
    I do read all of your blogs but this one confused me. Perhaps as Nicholas says, you could have been somewhat clearer. I know you do not espouse violence.
    As for Max Webster’s definition, it suffers in that violence is indeed justified by forces other than the state, when the rulers of the state deny people democracy. Perhaps there might be confusion between “state” and “government”.

  • I recognise a desperate attempt to stir enthusiasm on a slow-blogging day, but Paddy @ 07:13 PM actually does capture my interest:

    When did the term UK come into general acceptance?

    It did not seem common after the Union with Scotland, but obviously it must predate the 1801 Act of Union, hmmm?

    Well, yes and no. Here it is in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1737 (page 609):

    I have more Reason to oppose it, than any Man in this House, nay perhaps than any Man in the United Kingdom.

    That’s the Duke of Argyle (thinly disguised with dashes, and the young Samuel Johnson turning a crust writing a Parliamentary non-report).

    The name gianed legal status in Act 39 & 40 Geo. III, c. 67. 359:

    The said Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland shall … be united into one Kingdom, by the name of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

    Like it or not, that’s still the main basis for the continuation of “Northern Ireland” in 1920. Yet, look carefully, and we discover a curious differentiation in Act 2 & 3 Will. IV, c. 75 §1:

    That part of the United Kingdom called Great Britain, and … that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland.

    Even then, never the twain should meet.

    Indeed, Paddy @ 07:13 PM is justified in his point. As far as I can see, the term “United Kingdom” remained little more than a bit of legalese until 1921. The Treaty itself was:

    Articles of Agreement between Great Britain and Ireland.

    Even in 1948, the language was significant: the Republic did not break its tie to the “United Kingdom”, but to the “Commonwealth of Nations” (the formula invented for the Government of Ireland Act of 1920).

    That leads us back to the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. The more one considers that phrase, the more the last three words seem an awkward appendage. Famously, Berwick-on-Tweed was only formally incorporated into England, and then only by default, with the Local Government Act of 1972 (though English law applied in Berwick because of the Wales and Berwick Act of 1746). The continued existence of those three extra words constantly reminds us that NI is “semi-detached”. Which is hardly the best basis to claim statehood.

    Yeah: I’m a nerd and a wonk.

    But north-east Ulster was, is and remains an unsustainable entity.

  • Mark,

    Surely any individual can demonstrate that they reject the legitimacy of the state simply by saying they do.

    If you’re asking what actions that they can take that will demonstrate the actual illegitimacy of the state, I’d suggest that there isn’t anything they can do apart from to propaganidise (including ‘propaganda of the deed’ as Malatesta framed it) for it until the general will rejects that state as it is currently constituted.

    Perhaps your question is ‘how do we work out what ‘the general will’ is? Everyone in NI would fall out about the geographical catchment area and the method of weighing it all.

    My own definition of ‘republicanism’ – as opposed to Republicanism (and you may say its idiosyncratic, but I think it’s consistent with the general understanding of it) is that you refuse to *inherit* your constitutional settlement. Of course, the problem with this is that most people may say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and they may *choose* the broad constitutional framework that they have already.

    But whichever way you look at it, NI’s legitimacy is directly tied to where it stands in comparison to other polities in terms of the quality of democratic governance.

    I’d say it’s a great deal more ‘legitimate’ than any part of Italy, for instance.

  • Mark McGregor

    Nicholas,

    First up – Jebus I can’t believe my actual psephology hero commented on something I wrote – serious nerd swoon.

    Next – its a conversation starter, not a thesis. If people disagree with my ramble I’m happy to hear it.

  • Davros

    As renown political theorist Frank Zappa once said ‘You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.’

  • Coll Ciotach

    Just to throw more fat on the fire –

    “The Renunciation Act of 1783 is still the law, and since it is the law the King of England so
    long as he govern the country through the British Parliament is not the constitutional King
    of Ireland, and all recognition of him as such is an offence against the Constitution”

    Arthur Griffith’s The
    Resurrection of Hungary: A Parallel for Ireland