Ireland: “It’s simply not a country you can admire…”

This is just a clip from a fantastic long interview of the late Nuala O’Faolain by Anthony Clare… It was recorded just two years after the first divorce referendum… Here’s a short except from the rough recording above:

NO’F: It’s not, I don’t think, a morally admirable country…

AC: In what way?

NO’F: Well I don’t think standards of citizen are extremely high. That is as mildly as you can put it.

AC: Give me an example?

NO’F: Well I mean people are loyal to their families and loving to their families and sometimes to their mates. But that’s about it. I think if there wasn’t PAYE I don’t think anyone would pay taxes. I mean it is not a country you can sit back and admire the way you can admire Holland. And there’s the north. It’s simply not a country you can admire. What it is is a country you can endlessly enjoy. But you see yourself that that’s a bind. You should only enjoy what you can admire.

AC: Is it a country that endlessly provoked you to try and change it?

NO’F: Yes. It is a country in which you want influence.

AC: To do what?

NO’F: To draw attention to strokes and corruption. Or to draw attention to utterly double faced ways of thinking. I mean not that you want to give out all the time.

But do watch the whole thing whilst it’s there on RTE…

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  • Alias

    “I think if there wasn’t PAYE I don’t think anyone would pay taxes.”

    Very true, and the more post-nationalist they become the more they will resent the concept of a nation promoting and protecting its collective interest. This is why nationalism needs to be reborn.

  • Alias, civic duty and nationalism are not the same thing.

  • carl marks

    Alias
    “Very true, and the more post-nationalist they become the more they will resent the concept of a nation promoting and protecting its collective interest.”

    so whose interest do you think a nation promote and protect if not that of it’s citizens.
    Is it just tax you object to or all those OAPs and children and those bloody sick taking your hard earned money.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew Gallagher

    ‘…civic duty and nationalism are not the same thing.’

    True, but the Republic of Ireland provides compelling evidence that, when the intellectual culture of the country becomes obsessed with the denigration and defamation of nationalism, and an insistence on the inferiority of the country in question (the title of this thread is both typical and telling, not just of Slugger but of Irish intellectual culture generally) you shouldn’t be surprised to find civic duty going by the wayside too.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    As in, they’re not the same, but they can’t be divorced either.

    It wasn’t civic duty that defeated the Nazis.

  • BP,

    Post-nationalism is a recent thing, whereas the lack of civic duty appears to have been around for quite some time. If you have any evidence that the two are correlated, I’d love to see it.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    What on earth is ‘post-nationalism’?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I ask that only semi-facetiously.

    ‘Nationalism’ is basically ‘anti-imperialism.’

    ‘Post-nationalism’ is anti-nationalism for weak-minded nationalists, who allow themselves to be manipulated by imperialist memes.

    It’s a lot of seminar-room bunk.

    You never hear people talking about ‘post-unionism,’ or ‘post-imperialism’ for two simple reasons.

    1. Unionists and imperialists control the intellectual culture and institutions of these islands, and are constantly manufacturing memes to defame nationalism.

    2. Unionists are much too thran to fall for that kind of nonsense anyway.

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    Orwell on Nationalism (not Irish nationalism in particular I hasten to add) – seems to apply equally well to most of Nationalists and Unionists on this site from what I have seen of the endless ‘whataboutery’ that passes for discussion here.

    “A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige. He may be a positive or a negative nationalist — that is, he may use his mental energy either in boosting or in denigrating — but at any rate his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the upgrade and some hated rival is on the downgrade. But finally, it is important not to confuse nationalism with mere worship of success. The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side. On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him”

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Orwell’s observation is a good description of a particular kind of tendency, certainly. In this case, it’s the kind of imperialist expansionism, fused with nationalism, that was prevalent in the 1920s and 30s, when you had a bunch of former imperial powers that had recently been humbled and were not ready to let go of their imperialist ways.

    It is not, however, a description of, say, Gandhi, the foremost nationalist leader of the day.

    It clearly doesn’t work as a description of Irish nationalism, which is incomparably weaker than the forces to which it is opposed, and always has been.

    Orwell’s description also demonstrates the absurd promiscuity with which the word ‘nationalist’ is used, usually by those who wish to denigrate a particular kind of ‘nationalism’ by conflating it with another, however far removed it may be.

    If both anti-imperialist resistance and imperialist expansionism are both to be defined as examples of ‘nationalism’ then we can assume that the word ‘nationalism’ is so broadly defined as to be practically meaningless.

    Which is not to say it isn’t a useful curse word with which to defame anti-imperialists – ironically, by conflating them with imperialists.

  • Jimmy Sands

    ‘Nationalism’ is basically ‘anti-imperialism.’

    ‘Post-nationalism’ is anti-nationalism for weak-minded nationalists, who allow themselves to be manipulated by imperialist memes.

    And dictionaries are presumably for intellectually stunted people incapable of inventing their own definitions.

  • Alias

    The only ameliorating dynamic that comes with a sense of civic duty is good manners and abiding by law. As O’Faolain already pointed out, law is the only dynamic that compels others to pay their taxes. That is the limit of civic duty that she lamented.

    Without nationalism, there is only begrudging compliance with law.

  • Nationalism is the belief in the nation as the basis of political legitimacy. One can believe in the legitimacy of the state as derived from other sources without resorting to nationalism.

    As on the other thread, we again see nationalists promoting their own belief system as the only one capable of nurturing civic virtue.

  • Alias

    “One can believe in the legitimacy of the state as derived from other sources without resorting to nationalism.”

    You can beleive in fantasy all you like but it isn’t the basis for a single one of the world’s 197 states. They are all predicated on Article 1 of the UN’s ICCPR.

  • Jimmy Sands

    They are all predicated on Article 1 of the UN’s ICCPR.

    How on earth did mankind muddle through without it?

  • Zig70

    Where does it say paying tax is morally right?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Where does it say paying tax is morally right?

    Mark 12:17

  • Mick Fealty

    Jimmy, behave!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Saucer of milk for Mr Sands!

  • Alias, if you watch the whole interview you’ll hear her compare the lack of civic responsibility with a lack of personal responsibility, and both she and the interviewer are working on the assumption that it’s nothing new. I can’t find the reference now, but I think it was Michael D who lamented that Ireland lacked a sense of civic duty, due to its long history where “the system” was traditionally seen as the enemy.

  • Alias, plenty of the world’s states predate the UN. The UN derives its legitimacy from its members, not the other way around.

    Political legitimacy derives from the consent of the governed. If the governed do not consent, then there is no legitimacy. If the governed consent out of a sense of shared nationhood, then fair enough. But it is not the only method.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew

    ‘Nationalism is the belief in the nation as the basis of political legitimacy.’

    Yes. And? Doesn’t this include just about everyone? Is there a post-Westphalian exception?

    ‘One can believe in the legitimacy of the state as derived from other sources without resorting to nationalism.’

    Yes. The divine right of kings is one source that has historical precedent. Religion might be another. I suppose one might suggest political ideology too, though I’m sceptical that there is any real example of that in history.

    Can you suggest others?

    Certainly, civic virtue is a key component of any healthy society. Indeed, civic virtue is practical, day-to-day nationalism / patriotism.

    But I think the idea that states are held together by civic virtue is, frankly, rather Pollyannaish. Which is why I broke my usual rule, earlier, and invoked WW2.

    I happen to think the Brits have a greater sense of civic duty than the Irish. It’s something I admire in them. And it’s something one associates with powerful, wealthy states, where people have much to be grateful for.

    But if you look at Britain in 1940, and its cultural response to its great moment of existential crisis. It’s pure nationalism, Henry V on steroids.

    And quite right too.

    Incidentally, it’s worth noting that the Germans have an even greater sense of civic duty than the Brits, in my experience. They don’t even jaywalk, ffs.

    Yet, for some reason, British people still revere Churchill – and not for his ultra-imperialism when on the attack, but precisely for his ultra-nationalism when on defence.

    ‘As on the other thread, we again see nationalists promoting their own belief system as the only one capable of nurturing civic virtue.’

    Not so. I’ve acknowledged the divine right of kings, religion, possibly ideology, as well as nationalism.

    Nothing, however, is more poisonous to civic virtue, than colonialism.

    Always, without exception, colonialism involves the rule of a corrupt client class, and the consequent – and rightful – utter cynicism of the rest of the population.

    It takes postcolonial countries generations to get over colonialism. Ireland, as bad as it is, is one of the better ones.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jimmy

    ‘How on earth did mankind muddle through without it?’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westphalian_sovereignty

    Before this: kings and emperors and war.

    Nationalism was a major advance in human affairs, as it put forward the proposal that an imagined community took precedence over an individual despot. Though its rise, nationalism has equipped those imagined communities with some of the tools necessary to resist their despots.

    Even yet, it is still the most potent weapon in the armory of the poor and oppressed of the world, and the one that imperialists – the wealth and power of the world – most fear. (Which is why so much anti-nationalist meme manufacturing goes on in western intellectual culture.)

    To say, as people often do, that nationalism causes war, is to suggest that war is a post-Westphalian phenomenon.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Billy,

    You imply that nationalism replaced despotism. Nationalism has been far more adept at equipping the despots than their communities. And let’s not even begin to discuss the fate of those considered insufficiently “national”.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Even yet, it is still the most potent weapon in the armory of the poor and oppressed of the world, and the one that imperialists – the wealth and power of the world – most fear. (Which is why so much anti-nationalist meme manufacturing goes on in western intellectual culture.)

    Ayee Billy,and you were the one arguing against intervention in Syria.

    Go figure ?

  • Jimmy Sands

    HG,

    I suspect in the Syrian example we’ll find that Assad is the nationalist and the Red Cross/UN are the ant-nationalists/imperialists.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jimmy

    ‘You imply that nationalism replaced despotism.’

    I imply nothing of the sort. I made my point as clearly as I could. It’s there in black and white. Can’t you be honest enough to deal with what I have said, rather than what you suppose I have ‘implied?’

    (And your interpretation is absolutely not implied by what I said.)

    ‘Nationalism has been far more adept at equipping the despots than their communities.’

    Any substance to that assertion, or are you just going to leave it at that?

    Is it really true that communities and nations were better off in the days of the divine right of kings, than in the era of nation states?

    Is it really the case that pre-Westphalian despots (presumably pre-nationalist, in your view) had less power to tyrannise their populations, than those who came later?

    I doubt it.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Gentlemen, man-playing is forbidden around these parts.

  • Alias

    “How on earth did mankind muddle through without it?”

    Without Article 1 of the UN’s ICCPR>, they muddled through in servitude to foreign power. That is where they will return if they are led by useful fools to embrace post-nationalism.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Is it really true that communities and nations were better off in the days of the divine right of kings, than in the era of nation states?

    No, but you are conflating correlation with causation. Democracy can exist without nation states and nation states can certainly exist without democracy. You may as well try and take credit for electricity or indoor plumbing, neither of which were commonplace prior to the Risorgimento.

    Are you seriously asking me for an example of a despot who has made use of nationalism as an ideological tool? It would be harder to think of one who didn’t.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Without Article 1 of the UN’s ICCPR>, they muddled through in servitude to foreign power.

    It came into force in 1976. You quite sure about this?

  • harpo

    “I mean it is not a country you can sit back and admire the way you can admire Holland. And there’s the north.”

    What do they have against Donegal?

  • harpo

    “Nationalism is the belief in the nation as the basis of political legitimacy. One can believe in the legitimacy of the state as derived from other sources without resorting to nationalism.”

    Andrew:

    The problem with many nationalisms – Irish nationalism being a good example – is that the idea of ‘the nation’ becomes one of territory as opposed to what it should be – a set of people.

    We see this with Irish nationalism where Irish nationalists aren’t so concerned about the set of people who constitute the nation as much as the teritory that they have already decided belongs to ‘the Irish’.

    Some Irish nationalists start with the island of Ireland being ‘the nation’ and then define anyone living on the desired piece of territory as being part of the nation, whether or not all of those people agree with that outlook.

    Many political disputes/armed actions/wars have of course broken out where 2 or more different sets of nationalists all decide that some piece of territory belongs to them.

    Take the Nazis for example. They decided what territory constituted German territory and went after it. The whole of Austria thus became part of the Reich because the Nazis had decided that Austria was actually German territory. And all of the Austrians became Germans never mind if individual (or even a majority of) Austrians disagreed with the Nazis.

  • harpo

    If the Irish state isn’t a country that can be admired, what does this say about the republican form of government?

    As a unionist I’m often told that the republican form of government is superior to anything else, but given the state of the ROI these days is that an absolute truth?

    Surely the state of any country is more about what the people do with the power they have as opposed to the particular form of government involved.

    I trust that this will be responded to with a stream of stuff about West-Brits and Free State imperialist lackeys, but it is a genuine question.

    The Irish state has had 90 years of freedom from the UK and look at it. Where did republicanism get it?

  • Alias

    “It came into force in 1976. You quite sure about this?”

    That was the date it became de jure international law.

    “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.”

    It became constitutional law in Ireland in 1937:

    “The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.”

    Notice that the UN’s international law is a virtual copy of Ireland’s constitutional law, and both are awarded pride of place as Article 1? That is an achievement that Irish nationalism can be proud of.

    It appears much earlier in the Irish Proclamation of Independence as “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.”

    It is now the foundation stone for all of the world’s 197 states.

  • cavanman

    “The Irish state has had 90 years of freedom from the UK and look at it. Where did republicanism get it?”

    It gave us to freedom to f*ck things up ourselves but given the alternative to the utterly inept governance up until then, I don’t think you could argue that we would have been any better continuing to tolerate a British administration.

    Ireland is a country with miserable faults but this site is not inclined now or ever to discuss the truly beautiful aspects of the nation with an atom of generosity or balanced rhetoric. The community ties, the peaceful life that is a given in 99% of the borders, the natural beauty and a value placed on human interactions. These might not slot neatly into a society model that holds taxation and civic duty as the pinnacle, but I would judge that Ireland has it’s priorities right over a lot of it’s European neighbours.

    Carry on with the negativity as this url holds as it’s sole goal.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good stuff… I’ve no wish to interrupt the flow, but the interview is incredibly rich in other material too… For any who haven’t watched it all, do take the time before it disappears again…

    O’Faolain’s grace, intelligence and good character shines through most of the interview not to mention her sympathy and acute observation of the Irish character as she sees it..

    The above is not an out and out attack on that character, it’s part of an honest homage, if you like… The thing that strikes me that after all the years that have followed, in its civil life, the Republic is still manfully struggling with those shortcomings…

    I think a point she makes that’s relevant to this discussion of generic nationalism, comes in the wake of the divorce referendum. She remarks upon the incapacity for many to understand the right of certain individuals to access divorce even though (or maybe even because) they were a religious minority.

  • harpo

    “I don’t think you could argue that we would have been any better continuing to tolerate a British administration.”

    How do you know that?

    What’s this “a value placed on human interactions” thingy? That sounds very vague.Do you see that as uniquely Irish?

    I don’t see that civic duty is a bad thing, if you claim to be a nation in the first place. Surely it means doing your best to be a contributing member of the nation.

    In recent items I’ve seen many Irish “human interactions” of the ‘you West-Brit banker c**t’ or ‘you Free State c**t’ variety when certain folks interact with certain other folks. Is that the sort of thing that you value?

  • Mick Fealty

    Cavanman,

    I missed your post. I’ve heard you say that before, and I really, really disagree.

    It reminds me of the criticism some Gaeilgeoiri of my acquaintance like to reserve for their loyalist critics. In my view, I never heard fiercer criticism than from my (Catholic, if you’re asking) class mates at school who resented every minute they spent trying to get their heads round odd sounding irregular verbs and erratic declensions,,,

    The Republic gets a nightly kicking on VinB and for many long years, on radio and television, from people like Gay Byrne. Some of it deserved and some of it not. But then again why can’t Nordies express their view? If the south cowpes it will affect us too. Is it cos’s we’s Nordies?

    Where I do agree with you is that the south’s experience of independence has taken it a long way towards self reliance and even in this current crisis its people have a far more acute awareness of the political commercial and economic dynamics abroad in the wider world than Northern Ireland and even, to some extent, the rest of the UK.

    This is something that should give some of the Republic’s more glib and unthinking critics pause for thought. No one in Northern Ireland had responsibility or oversight of the regulation of banking for instance.

    Light touch regulation may have been common across the banking world, but Dublin has: one, had to hold its hand up to giving in to it; and two will have to demonstrate to wider society (inside and outside of the country) that it has understood those problems and has acted to put in place adequate solutions.

    No politician in Northern has anything like that degree culpability/responsibility.

    That said, try not to be so thin skinned in face of people you disagree with. No one here has automatic right to the last word…

  • summerhill

    After watching this interview, people should read Nualas book ‘Are You Somebody?’ , especially for the manner in which she treated her long term partner Nell Mc Cafferty. Might have a very different perspective on Nuala afterwards.

  • cavanman

    Considered points Mick and the expression of the Northern view on Southern affairs is essential. There’s no way I can say this without slightly playing the man/site, but I’ve been lurking on this site for a number of years and it was the sheer frustration at the slant of the majority of Ireland posts and comments that prompted me to register.

    Cynicism breeds on internet forums and while Slugger has it’s fair share of grindingly pragmatic issues to deal with, I don’t see uninformed sneering as something that should be tolerated any more than inaccurate facts or inflammatory language.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, I agree with that. Cynicism is the bane of my life if truth be known… Not to mention Ireland’s (north and south)…

    My only advice (glib as it may sound) is to look beyond the cynicism and get your own spake in…

    Night all… It’s been a long, long day… (first post was at 5.20 this morning…)

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Is the lack of civic pride based in that we never had a state which all of us bought into in the way most other European countries do? Even the main political party had a semi detached relationship to the institutions of state. We may have had loyalty to country but the state was a different animal and many of us have never felt a full sense of ownership of the state in the way many other European countries do. There is no national day to celebrate the state or independence because it was only a half baked independence and people didn’t buy into it because for various reasons it wasn’t what they wanted and they didn’t feel part of it and thus, they elected politicians to serve sectional interests rather than those of the state. Thus, civic pride was a concept which was always on stony ground

    British rule was simply replaced by that of far away ‘Dublin’ in the eyes of rural Ireland whilst ironically Dubs themselves thought the state and the public service was dominated by culchies. Republicans were hostile to the compromises reached at the start and even many who went to FF and even served in govt never fully reconciled themseves to the institutions of the state. As of course for vastly different reasons did many former Unionists who if they stayed became semi detached from the state. Those sections of society who wanted radical economic or social changes were alienated by the innate conservatism. In areas where radical change was attempted as in the attempts to revive Irish, it failed not because it was attempted but because the state did it badly. Then of course, independence did not cure emigration and widespread poverty remained for decades. Thus, hardly surprisngly the state that evolved was tolerated rather than celebrated (though of course it never got so bad that anyone suggested the British be brought back!).

    However, whilst there is a lack of civic pride at times there is still a strong sense of community, a sense of place which I don’t think exists to the same extent in most other countries. Harness this on a wider level and we may be onto something.

  • harpo,

    The problem is that nations and states in general do not coincide. If you are lucky enough to have a monoethnic territory, nationalism can give you a ready-made demos on which to build your democratic state. But most territories are not monoethnic, and the farther from this ideal the less well nationalism works. You can have a Greater State including the entire nation but also lots of discontented minorities, or you can have a Rump State which is close to monoethnic but leaves many outside looking in. You can try nation-building but this is a slow process and can often backfire. In the meantime somebody has to pay the teachers and the policemen.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “Take the Nazis for example. They decided what territory” constituted German territory and went after it. The whole of Austria thus became part of the Reich because the Nazis had decided that Austria was actually German territory. And all of the Austrians became Germans never mind if individual (or even a majority of) Austrians disagreed with the Nazis.”

    You obviously miss the total irony of that post, Harpo. So let’s simplify: what exactly is your opinion about the British taking so long to get out of Southern Ireland when they were asked many times yet still tried to claim the entire island as ‘British’ territory? Would you call them ‘Nazi-esque?’

    And carrying on your dismay of nationalism claiming territory and ignoring the people who live on the territory, what is your opinion of Fermanagh and Tyrone being part of the NI state when the people living in them were nationalist even back in old 1921?

    “The Irish state has had 90 years of freedom from the UK and look at it. Where did republicanism get it?”

    Indeed, we should be like those wise Unionists in Northern Ireland and shamelessly get bailed out by Englishmen every single year. But it’d be ok as long we waved Union Jacks and kneeled to an English Queen, of course. There would be no shame in it then.

  • Reader

    Alias: Notice that the UN’s international law is a virtual copy of Ireland’s constitutional law, and both are awarded pride of place as Article 1?
    The UN version doesn’t refer to a ‘nation’. I think you would miss that term a lot if it disappeared from the Irish Constitution.

  • Harry Flashman

    Nationalism was certainly a noble idea except when it came down to the nitty-gritty of who constituted a “nation”.

    Were the Yugoslavs a nation? Up until 1990 we would have accepted that without demur, then suddenly we had Slovenes, Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, er, ok they’re nations. But the Bosnians are they the same as the Kosovans, or are the Kosovans Albanians? And are the Macedonians Greek or are the Greeks Macedonians?

    What about the Turks, are they a nation? Of course they are except for the Kurds of course who are Iraqi and Iranian, or are they? And the Turkic peoples of Central Asia are they Turks?

    I remember reading about the Irish delegation desperately trying to get an audience at the Treaty of Versailles. They buttonholed President Wilson asking him why Ireland’s national claim wasn’t being considered.

    Wilson who had campaigned for the rights of self determination for years told the Irish delegation that all those years he had been calling for national self determination he’d had no idea of how many peoples regarded themselves as ‘nations’ in Europe. The old fool was now parsing and analysing the rights of Thracians and Montenegrans and Gallicians and Transylvanians but apparently he’d never come across the Irish claim to nationhood in his travels.

    Anyway, nationalism, it was a reasonable stab at settling borders but somehow looking at the ethnic faultlines and religious disparities in Africa and Asia I don’t think it will be the be all and end all in the twenty-first century.

  • wee buns

    It’s the first time I’ve watched & listened to O Faolin & must say she comes across well in person, as she was an extremely intelligent woman but from her books, unhappy, possibly from the point of view of her background which she never quite managed to lick.

    Her observations are insightfully non polemic – in Ireland ‘all good things intertwine with bad’.

    Civism while being true is lacking on national level is still very strong on a local level out with family life; understandable given the long held struggles with governance and communities tight knit through necessity.

    I liked her point about verbal diversity and fluency, which gets ‘flattened’ outside the island. My son & I watched a documentary last night about bare knuckled fighting amongst travelers, complete with English subtitles (they were speaking English), which was quite extraordinary to read how much meaning & richness of dialogue was altered & lost.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew

    Ironically, you’re guilty of the same thing that the very worst nationalists are guilty of – that is, confusing ethnicity with nationality.

    If ‘nationality’ were based on nothing more than ethnicity, it would be a nasty, tawdry little thing. But of course, it is (usually) based on much more than just that.

    A ‘nation’ is an imagined community, an idea. That idea may well be based on ethnicity, at least partly, but there are infinite other possibilities. Indeed, nationalism is frequently the most effective method of transcending ethnic differences.

    Take the United States, for example. It’s home to one of the most nationalist cultures on earth (think of all those flags flying over lawns) yet it’s also probably the most ethnically diverse nation on earth. Indeed, in the US, there is a strong emphasis on nationalism precisely BECAUSE it’s such an ethnically diverse place. It is the idea of ‘America’ that transcends the divisions of race, culture, ethnicity, religion etc.

    Harry mentions Yugoslavia – in fact, it’s a very good example. That state was held together and was actually very strong, prosperous and independent during the Tito era. After Tito’s death, it lasted barely a decade. What changed? Well, Tito was a very strong nationalist – a Yugoslavian nationalist. He constantly and consistently styled himself as a Yugoslavian, to the extent that it wasn’t even clear what his ethnicity was. (Half Croat, half Slovene, I believe.) After he died, it wasn’t long before ethnic rivalries re-emerged.

    So the failure of Yugoslavia does not represent an example of too much nationalism; it’s just an example of various ethnically-based nationalisms overcoming a non-ethnically-based nationalism.

  • Harry Flashman

    “an example of various ethnically-based nationalisms overcoming a non-ethnically-based nationalism.”

    The UK?

  • BP,

    Fair enough, I was being sloppy.

    Yugoslavia is a good example of the failure of a nation-building project. One of the problems with such projects is the tendency of the ethnic “nation” and the compound “nation” to be presented as a (false) dichotomy. Also, if the compound nation is associated with authoritarianism and misrule it can easily become deligitimised, as it lacks historical depth.

    Switzerland on the other hand is a good example of a successful nation-building project. In this case the nation was forged through a shared resistance to foreign rule, which can be seen in its politics to this day. The US is exceptional – mass immigration to an existing, sparsely-populated state is not the norm, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say that its sense of nationalism and exceptionalism is essential to hold its diversity together. Interestingly though, the Americans don’t use the word “nation” consistently even among themselves – they constantly refer to the US as a “nation” rather than a “country” (“state” having a distinct meaning over there), but they also refer to their indigenous peoples as “nations”.

    I try to avoid using “nationality” wherever possible, as it is both a loaded and a subjective term. Whether a particular group of people forms a “nation” depends strongly on who you ask.

  • (double post, sorry)

    It also depends on the politics of the speaker – because “nation” and “state” have become so firmly linked in the popular mind, the decision to call a group a “nation” is dependent on whether the speaker believes in the right to self-determination of that group. The idea that states should be based on nations is thus turned on its head – “nations” are just as often based on preconceived political ideology.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew

    I think we’re largely in agreement on all the points you raise in your first post, except that, in my experience, Americans use the words ‘nation’ and ‘country’ quite interchangeably, and I’ve never know it to cause controversy. The fact that they refer to indigenous ‘nations’ too is but a tiny footnote.

    With the second post, I think you greatly overestimate the semantic sophistication at work when people use words like nation, country and state – don’t you find that they’re usually used quite interchangeably, except on the rare occasions that the speaker wants to make a point? I know I do.

    I found the last paragraph of your first post very interesting.

    ‘I try to avoid using “nationality” wherever possible, as it is both a loaded and a subjective term.’

    Yes, but who has done the loading? I think that, here, you acknowledge – perhaps unwittingly? – the strong imperial bias that exists in western intellectual culture.

    Imperialists hate nationalism for the same reason Superman hates Kryptonite.

    It’s the historic task of intellectuals to serve power. But since ‘imperialism’ is a fairly damaged brand these days, even in imperialist countries, western intellectuals have to shy away from explicitly pro-imperial memes and be a bit more circuitous in their thinking. (There are exceptions – Niall Ferguson comes to mind.)

    Fashionable variations on imperialism such as ‘liberal interventionism,’ ‘containment of communism’ or ‘Wilsonian democracy’ come and go, but the manufacture anti-nationalist memes remains the bread-and-butter of western intellectual culture.

    The effect is that very smart people like yourself run a mile from a word like ‘nationalist’ – when in fact, one should regard it as an honorific.

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    Right Billy. So if the U.S. is a strongly national culture who the feck are these ‘imperialists’ you keep banging on about?

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    *nationalist culture

  • BP,

    Nicely done, painting me as an imperialist stooge. I almost believed you myself. 🙂 Nationalism is the enemy of imperialism, therefore if imperialism is bad, nationalism must be good. None of this admits the possibility that imperialism and nationalism are both flawed.

    Unquestioning acceptance of any -ism is the enemy of reason. It is the job of intellectuals to (constructively!) question society’s basic assumptions – that is the only way progress can be made. The idea that intellectuals are there to serve power is a blinkered one – conservatives and revolutionaries have both recruited intellectuals to their cause.

    The fact that “nation” and “state” are used interchangeably by the general public is part of the problem. They are distinct concepts which through sloppy language and woolly thinking have become automatically linked. Habit then becomes its own justification.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    NoAttachmentToDust

    ‘So if the U.S. is a strongly national culture who the feck are these ‘imperialists’ you keep banging on about?’

    Er, they’re nationalists at home, imperialists abroad.

    You might think this is a contradiction. I don’t. I just think it’s hypocrisy. The basic principle is: it’s fine when we do, but it’s evil when others do it.

    I’d hasten to add that the US is far from unique in this respect.

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘Nationalism was a major advance in human affairs, as it put forward the proposal that an imagined community took precedence over an individual despot. Though its rise, nationalism has equipped those imagined communities with some of the tools necessary to resist their despots.’

    Not Libya/Iraq/Afghanistan………

    Indeed,yet you vigorously oppose the UN helping Syrian Nationalists against a despot ?
    (Er, they’re nationalists at home, imperialists abroad.)
    They’re not the only ones,it seems ?
    (You might think this is a contradiction. I don’t. I just think it’s hypocrisy. The basic principle is: it’s fine when we do, but it’s evil when others do it.)

    Indeed,the US is far from unique in hypocrisy and double standards.

  • Greenflag

    @ BP ,

    Imperialists hate nationalism for the same reason Superman hates Kryptonite.

    Well said BP.

    Superman also has a problem with this problem 😉

    http://www.npr.org/2012/03/07/148129721/close-enough-for-govt-work

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    BP, I don’t think that this is necessarily hypocrisy; just a very clear example of how the world doesn’t fit into neat little binary categories like nationalist and imperialist. If the world’s greatest nationalist culture can also spawn the world’s current imperialist force then that’s not much of a recommendation for nationalism and rather undermines your argument, don’t you think?

  • Greenflag

    @ BP ,

    ‘The basic principle is: it’s fine when we do, but it’s evil when others do it.’

    Thats been the mantra of every Empire in history from the Roman to the recent European imperialist era and to the current American model of financial services led ‘imperialism .

    It’s fine for the USA to have 20,000 plus nuclear weapons (note the only country ever to have used this weapon on people )

    It’s fine for the UK , France ,Russia, China, India , Pakistan, North Korea and Israel to have nuclear weapons .

    But it’s not okay for Iran ?

    Now if that isn’t hypocrisy what is ?

    It’s about power folks plain and simple and access to scarce resources and control of trade and seeking competitive or military advantage .

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘Nationalism was a major advance in human affairs, as it put forward the proposal that an imagined community took precedence over an individual despot. Though its rise, nationalism has equipped those imagined communities with some of the tools necessary to resist their despots.’

    You know,it’s all fine and dandy to write that rubbish,but when it comes to supporting the people of Libya,Iraq,Syria…..irish Nationalists support the Imperialist Despots ?

    Go figure……

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew

    ‘Nationalism is the enemy of imperialism, therefore if imperialism is bad, nationalism must be good.’

    It’s completely uncontroversial, indeed goes without saying, that nationalism can be bad, very bad. Nowhere have I suggested otherwise.

    But remarkably, it seems to be highly controversial to suggest that nationalism can be good. That observation always seems to provoke tremendous consternation. This should tell us something about the intellectual culture in which we live.

    ‘None of this admits the possibility that imperialism and nationalism are both flawed.’

    I’d have thought that was a given.

    ‘Unquestioning acceptance of any -ism is the enemy of reason.’

    Who is unquestioningly accepting any –ism here? Not me, that’s for sure.

    In fact, I’m not sure anyone, ever, ‘unquestioning accepts an –ism’. I suspect this is little more than a caricature that we project onto enemies – in contrast, of course, with ourselves, the free thinkers.

    Soviet propaganda used to say the same thing about westerners. They were at least as right about us as we were about them.

    ‘It is the job of intellectuals to (constructively!) question society’s basic assumptions…’

    It’s interesting how you interject with the word ‘constructive’ here. ‘Constructive’ to what end? Who deems what is ‘constructive’ and what isn’t? What happens to those who aren’t deemed ‘constructive’ in their questions? (Say, Socrates.) How do we describe them? (The Athenians called it ‘corrupting the youth.’ In the west, we lauded the Soviet variety as ‘dissidents.’ Closer to home, we use many names: crank, conspiracy theorist, terrorist, anti-semite are a few examples.)

    Even as you attempt to rebut my observation about the ideological role of intellectuals, doesn’t your use of the word ‘constructively’ implicitly acknowledge the truth of it?

    ‘The idea that intellectuals are there to serve power is a blinkered one…’

    I say this with the most genuine respect, but I’m not the one who’s blinkered here.

    Intellectuals have always been there to serve power. They are the flatterers at court, and their task has always been to provide the intellectual basis for power to do what it wants to do, and will do, anyway. There are honourable exceptions, people who genuinely ‘question society’s basic assumptions’ but they are exceptionally rare, and almost never to be found in the positions of prestige and plenty with which the flatterers at court are rewarded. They may even be in gaol, or worse.

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    “Intellectuals have always been there to serve power. They are the flatterers at court, and their task has always been to provide the intellectual basis for power to do what it wants to do, and will do, anyway”

    Nothing like an enormous sweeping generalisation to save the day when your argument is full of holes and sinking rapidly.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    NATD

    ‘I don’t think that this is necessarily hypocrisy; just a very clear example of how the world doesn’t fit into neat little binary categories like nationalist and imperialist.’

    I never suggested for a moment that the world ‘fits into neat categories like nationalist and imperialist.’ In fact, I think a fair-minded reading of my posts would conclude that I’ve been very clear about the complexity of all these things.

    The only thing, I think, that I’ve been really forthright about, is the observation that imperialists hate the nationalism of those they are trying to dominate (though they may be very nationalist themselves) – and for good reason, as nationalism can be a powerful tool of resistance.

    And I have argued that western intellectual culture is strongly anti-nationalist – or, I should clarify, that it is strongly opposed to the nationalism of others.

    ‘…rather undermines your argument, don’t you think? … your argument is full of holes and sinking rapidly…’

    Just for a laugh, but could you sum up exactly what you think my argument is? Because, I sense some confusion in your posts as to what I’m actually saying.

    (Though I’ve been as clear as I can be, and I appreciate that much of what I’m saying may strike you as novel.)

  • Greenflag

    While O’Faolain hits on many of the aspects of Irish life which in her words are not admirable she also confesses herself at a loss to ‘understanding ‘the young people of Ireland at the time this interview took place which was almost 25 years ago or a quarter century .

    She was interviewed in 1989 which was shortly after or amid the then aftrmath of the self inflicted economic crisis brought about by the ‘free for all politics’ in vogue since 1977 and the ensuing inevitable public sector expansion which became too big for the country’s tax base to afford and thus the about turn which led to the Celtic Tiger years .

    AS for Holland being admirable as per Ms O’Faolain well yes it was and is but again that was’nt always the case . there are millions of inhabitants of the East Indies who have less than pleasant memories of Dutch Imperialism . And then there is the fact of the entire Dutch economy collapsing and going into default over ‘tulips’ 😉 At least in the Irish case it was ‘property ‘ and not tulips 😉

    And then the German printing presses churning out Reichmarks denominated in trillions ? And the British trying to rule a sub continent of 500 million people with a few thousand administrators ? And the Russians with their Gulags for millions or the Americans with their 3 million dead Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands now in the Middle East and theres McCain eager for more with large sections of the power structure chafing at the bit to be let loose on Iran a country which can claim to have had more than it’s share of western interference going back to the 1950’s when they the Iranians first attempted to ‘nationalise’ their oil industry .

    All told and with respect to Ms O’Faolain’s points in the “Admirable League ‘ Ireland doesn’t do too badly even if in recent years we’ve slipped a few notches .

  • HeinzGuderian

    All told and with respect to Ms O’Faolain’s points in the “Admirable League ‘ Ireland doesn’t do too badly even if in recent years we’ve slipped a few notches .

    Why all the incessant whinging then ? 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Orwell btw fought against the Spanish nationalists /international fascists but he also fought against British imperialism if not in deed then by word as anyone who has read of his experiences in the colonial Burmese police .
    During the war Orwell worked in the BBC along side others in the propaganda war against Nazism . Ironically the Minister who hired him was Brendan Bracken the Minister for Information whose family were founder members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the GAA .

  • Greenflag

    Whinging ? You should know by now I’m not a ‘unionistt’. Just the facts Heinz with a little perspective than you might be used to 😉

  • BP,

    I used “constructively” in the sense of personal motivation, not external judgement.

    And you appear to have pretensions of intellectualism yourself. Obviously you’re one of the ones nobly suffering in prison right now. :-p

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    BP

    “Just for a laugh, but could you sum up exactly what you think my argument is? Because, I sense some confusion in your posts as to what I’m actually saying.”

    Yes, succinctly. You argued that nationalism is anti-imperialism. You then went on to illustrate a point by arguing that the US is the one of the most nationalist cultures in the world, whilst simultaneously being the current dominant imperial force in the world. You tried to argue that there was no contradiction in this, because they were “nationalist at home and imperialist abroad”. As if there could be any other kind of imperialism? So, if nationalism at home translates to imperialism abroad, it’s not really anti-imperialism is it now?

    …and I’m the one who’s confused apparently.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Andrew

    Ouch!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    NATD

    ‘You tried to argue that there was no contradiction in this, because they were “nationalist at home and imperialist abroad”. As if there could be any other kind of imperialism?’

    If there is any other kind, I’m not aware of it. I said that the US was far from unique is this respect. I should have gone further. I should have said that if there’s an exception, I’m not aware of it.

    ‘So, if nationalism at home translates to imperialism abroad…’

    No, that’s not what I’ve argued. There are plenty of strongly nationalist countries that have no imperial ambitions. Switzerland, for example. But I don’t know of any empire that doesn’t or didn’t have a strong nationalist core, at the centre of the empire. Do you?

    ‘…it’s not really anti-imperialism is it now?’

    If it’s part of a struggle to kick out an imperial power, it probably is.

    ‘Nationalism’ is the proposition that your country should not be externally controlled, and that no other country should have the right to exercise sovereignty and control over yours.

    Of course, there are those who insist that while they should be free from external molestation, they should also have the right to externally molest others.

    This is not because they are nationalists. It is because they are hypocrites – as all imperialists are.

    And as Greenflag notes, it’s all really just about power: who has it, and who doesn’t.

    Imperialists hate nationalism because it tilts the balance of power back towards those who don’t want to submit to external control.

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    BP

    “You tried to argue that there was no contradiction in this, because they were “nationalist at home and imperialist abroad”. As if there could be any other kind of imperialism?’

    If there is any other kind, I’m not aware of it. I said that the US was far from unique is this respect. I should have gone further. I should have said that if there’s an exception, I’m not aware of it”

    It was a rhetorical question, it’s implicit in the definition of the term.

    ‘…it’s not really anti-imperialism is it now?’

    If it’s part of a struggle to kick out an imperial power, it probably is.’

    So, your argument is that nationalism is anti-imperialist when it’s trying to kick out an imperial power. Brilliant deduction there.

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    Actually Billy, you know what? I’m doing exactly the thing I was originally moaning about others doing on Slugger, which is arguing a fixed position pedantically and not listening to alternative views. You clarified your point and handled yourself with good grace (mainly!) and I understand where you coming from, even though I don’t entirely agree with your analysis.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Wow.

    Fair dues, NATD.

    (Intrigued by the name, by the way. A Philip Pullman reference?)

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    It’s – slightly pretentiously – the title of a short story in a book on Zen Buddhism I happened to be reading when I signed up to Slugger a while back. I just dug it out again out of curiosity to see what the story was about…here’s a line that caught my eye…

    ‘censure yourself, never another. Do not discuss right and wrong’

    If everyone on Slugger followed that particular piece of advice it would be a pretty quiet place I reckon 🙂

  • HeinzGuderian

    kum ba yai my Lord,kum bai yai……..

    (apart from the glaring hypocrisy)

  • NoAttachmentToDust

    HG

    The Kum ba yai bit made me laugh out loud, so thanks for that. The rest of it you can feck right off mate. Oh… I almost forgot your favourite emoticon 😉 You’re welcome.

    Back to the trenches then is it?

  • Harry Flashman

    “there are millions of inhabitants of the East Indies who have less than pleasant memories of Dutch Imperialism .”

    There aren’t actually, no one has any real memory of the Dutch in Indonesia today other than a few octogenarians, most of whom have rather fond memories of the “old days”.

    The Dutch are figures from history books but have diddly squat to do with Indonesian contemporary life which thinks that anything from more than ten years ago is ancient history, such is the pace of change in Asia.

    By the way the Hapsburg empire wasn’t all that bad was it?

  • Greenflag

    ‘There are’nt actually’

    Thats a good one HF . Full marks for the ostrichism .

    Here’s a reminder

    Reba Lewis, author o fIndonesia: Troubled Paradise, tells how when she and her husband, a doctor with the World Health Organization, decided to move to Indonesia in 1957 from his post in India, there was only one doctor for every 60,000 people. In India, which was itself a land full of beggars, struggling to emerge from the yoke of colonialism, there was at this time one doctor for every 6,000 people.

    InWestern Enterprise in Indonesia and Malaya, a British economic history by no means sympathetic to the Indonesian revolution or its national aspirations, authors G.C. Allan and Audrey Donnithorne remark, “In 1940 only 240 Indonesian students graduated from the high schools and only 37 from the colleges. In that year out of over 3,000 higher civil servants there were only 221 Indonesians, and even in the middle ranks a larger number of posts were held by Europeans and Eurasians, who counted as Dutch.”

    The full article is at http://www.workers.org/indonesia/chap3.html

    And then there was the Rawagede massacre only the second worst of the ‘known ‘ massacres . News blackouts and censorship ensured others never made it into the press /media of the time.

    http://indonesiadutch.blogspot.com/2008/01/tragedy-of-rawagede-massacre-december-9.html

    ‘By the way the Hapsburg empire wasn’t all that bad was it?’

    Not if you were an Austrian and also good although not so good if you happened to be Hungarian . And from then on as one descended the multifarious subject peoples things became progressively less good , Czechs , Slovenians , Croats , Slovakians , Ruthenians , Polish , Ukrainian Montenegrins, Serbs , Italians .

    But of course the Viennese coffee shops were always wonderful and even Sigmund Freud was known to have enjoyed them . And the legal system brought in after 1867 was very progressive for it’s time .

  • Greenflag

    @ HG

    ‘kum ba yai my Lord,kum bai yai…….’

    Which reminds me

    Someones crying Lord
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17292554

    RIP

    And someone’s laughing Lord

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-17299967.

    This financial services criminal gets 14 yrs? No doubt he’ll be out in seven 🙁 Free to plunder again ?

  • Harry Flashman

    Greenflag you may know more about Indonesia than I do but I somehow doubt it.

    I stand over my original post that modern Indonesians don’t have any recollection of Dutch rule, other than what they read in their history books at school, and have little or no animosity towards Holland or the Dutch. They simply don’t care about something that ceased to exist before most of their grandparents were even born.

    Unlike other colonized peoples (mention no names) Asians have shown a remarkable ability to forget about the distant past and move on to the future.

    The Croats, Slovenes, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Montenegrins etc fared a lot better under their distant, rather tolerant, Habsburg rulers than they were to do under many of the Godawful regimes that succeeded them.

  • Greenflag

    Perhaps the thought may have struck you Harry that they’d rather not remember that far back .

    And then there was /is of course more horrific recent events to forget such as the after effects of the US-backed military coup of September-October 1965, General Suharto, his military clique and countless Muslim religious cadres killed an estimated 500,000 to 3 million people – Indonesian Communists, left-leaning intellectuals, union leaders, artists, teachers, but also members of the Chinese minority whom they accused of being connected to “Red China”. Consequently, everything Chinese was banned, from their language – both written and spoken – films, literature, even dragons and cakes.

    Leading Indonesian historian, Asvi Warman Adam from LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Science) explained for this article: “Only the tiny group of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia had been privileged while the Chinese minority as such had been discriminated against since the colonial era and the events of 1965 just reinforced this discrimination. The regime portrayed the Chinese in a negative light so they could have a scapegoat – a target – whenever the masses got angry. Those Chinese tycoons who refused to applaud Suharto’s rule, such as the owner of the Astra Trading Company, were forced into bankruptcy. Those who accepted were rewarded – like Liem who got a clove and flour monopoly.

    And we all know that following the US led invasion of Iraq there was a huge escalation of ethnic conflict between Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds and ditto in Afghanistan where conflict between the Pashtun , Tajik and Hazara is never reported in the western media .

    You could do worse than read Amy Chua ‘s World on Fire ” ‘ How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (2003), explores the ethnic conflict caused in many societies by disproportionate economic and political influence of “market dominant minorities” and the resulting resentment in the less affluent majority. World on Fire — which was a New York Times Bestseller, selected by The Economist as one of the Best Books of 2003,[5] examines how globalization and democratization since 1989 have affected the relationship between market dominant minorities and the wider population..

    As to your comment

    ‘The Croats, Slovenes, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Montenegrins etc fared a lot better under their distant, rather tolerant, Habsburg rulers than they were to do under many of the Godawful regimes that succeeded them.’

    True . Empires come in all shapes and sizes . Some professed ‘good intentions ‘ but sometimes too late in the day when the damage was done .

    ‘Asians have shown a remarkable ability to forget about the distant past and move on to the future.’

    So have the Irish 🙂 And we can or most of us can even laugh about it even the recent past .

  • Harry Flashman

    “Harry that they’d rather not remember that far back .”

    Nonsense, it’s taught in school, it’s just that no one cares about it.

    “the US-backed military coup of September-October 1965”

    Ah yes, as I suspected profound ignorance of Indonesian history. What US-backed military coup in October ’65? There was none.

    There was however an attempt by Communist sympathising, pro-Sukarno, almost certainly Chinese backed, senior army and air force officers to wipe out the pro-American army high command, killing five western sympathizing generals, is that the event to which you refer? They failed in their attempt and the army took revenge on the people who had tried to wipe them out, as one does in war.

    Make no mistake what occurred following the coup attempt was an all out civil war where one side had to kill the other or be killed by them. The Commies lost, thank God, and the huge popular anger of the Indonesian people, who justifiably loathed and feared Communism, undoubtedly led to shocking scenes of violence. The death toll was nowhere near as high however as left wing apologists for Communism have tried to make out. It was all over in a matter of months.

    The Chinese community suffered, they always do when things go tits up in Indonesia but they survived and prospered under Suharto’s rule to the point where they hold enormous wealth today. Suharto’s business cronies were for the most part Chinese, especially his old golfing buddy the tycoon and scoundrel Bob Hasan.

    Not sure where you got the dodgy info about Astra’s bankruptcy, it’s a huge corporation today and the billionaire founder died last year, peacefully and extremely rich, in contented old age.

    I like the Indonesian Chinese, remarkable people, chose the wrong side in ’65 mind you.

  • Harry Flashman

    Check out this page on Astra’s homepage; milestones in the company history;

    http://www.astra.co.id/index.php/profile/detail/3

    1969, two years after Suharto became president, Astra got the Toyota franchise, a year later Honda and Fuji-Xerox, no sign of any difficulties with that company. Three years later it signed up Daihatsu.

    Today it manufactures and sells hundreds of thousands of Toyotas, Daihatsus, Hondas, Cherys (up and coming Chinese car company) and actually exports cars from Indonesia to Japan. There’s talk they’ll be building BMWs soon.

    A massively successful company with no sign of bankruptcy at any time in its history.

    Greenie try reading history books instead of leftist, anti-American propaganda tracts.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nice to see a good long thread… Why the piece flared up for me relates to an interview I did with a guy who headed a taught PhD course at Queens on corporate governance about ten years ago. He predicted at the time that Ireland’s poor corprate safeguards were known the length and breadth of the world and that it would come home roost soon enough.

    I’m not sure nationalism or imperialism as very much to do with this state of affairs. I suppose Denmark has an imperial past (and present if you include Greenland) but the answer to their close attention their own corporate affairs has as much to do with their cultural mores (in education and the nature of their wider civil society) than their politics as a constitutional monarchy

  • Greenflag

    @ harry flashman,

    Greenie try reading history books,

    I don’t try HF I actually do and I’m aware that some history tomes are not as ‘objective’ as they purport to be -that said if you read a few from across the spectrum you’ll end up with a better and less subjective view than if you say get your info solely from the Daily Mail or Fox News . As to

    ‘What US-backed military coup in October ’65? There was none.’

    I could cite you 50 links at least but we are already way off thread topic here but here’s a short visual and the American historian at the end is worth a hearing . I’ll not mention the American role in East Timor . Nice picture of Sukarno and Nikita Khruschev .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnbTnbW2d14

    As to the Indonesian automobile market I’m aware its now become a major export market for car manufacturers. And of course Indonesia now lies at the crossroads of Chinese expansionary influence and the second after Taiwan line of American ‘defence ‘ against such Chinese expansion which is why you read about the increased deployment of US strategic forces to that part of the world .

    Let’s hope the Indonesians are capable of becoming neither a pawn to the Americans or the Chinese .

  • Harry Flashman

    There is no historical dispute about it GF which can be debated, there simply was no US-backed military coup, there was an attempted leftist coup against anti-Communist generals which failed.

    The particular youtube clip you post is risible in its inaccuracy (Sukarno was not prime minister he was president), the coup was not carried out by a “lone” soldier, that is absolute balderdash. It was a huge operation sanctioned at high levels within the army, airforce and communist party, with the knowledge of the Chinese and almost certainly with a nod and a wink from Sukarno himself and involving thousands of troops, airmen and Communist cadres.

    It has long been a cherished myth on the left that it was all really a CIA inspired plot which is so absurd as to be almost laughable in a country where the US was restricted to a skeleton staff in its embassy, which President Johnson actually wanted to close so pointless was it. The US mission was confined to the embassy, daily harassed by Communist mobs who harassed the few remaining staffers at work and at home.

    The idea that this tiny group of US personnel could infiltrate the left leaning conspirators behind the coup and manipulate the president and Communist party into a plot which would see the last remaining American allies in Indonesia wiped out overnight is so absurd as to not merit discussion.

    But I’m glad you brought it up as I now understand where you get your worldview from and the sort of sources you rely on. They are so hopelessly inaccurate, biased and ridiculous that I now realise you actually haven’t got the faintest idea what’s really going on in the world.

  • Greenflag

    @ Mick ,

    ‘ He predicted at the time that Ireland’s poor corporate safeguards were known the length and breadth of the world and that it would come home roost soon enough.’

    A shrewd observer of human nature then . The politics of corruption and the prosperity of the nouveau riche in a competitive world economy ? Sounds like a thesis subject .;)

    In retro it was more than just Ireland that experienced poor corporate safeguards particularly in the financial sector and the headless chickens did indeed come home to roost along with the worldwide meltdown and property bubbles from California to Florida to Ireland to the Costa Del Sol to Iceland and possibly now China .

    ‘I’m not sure nationalism or imperialism as very much to do with this state of affairs.’

    Not in the traditional interpretations of these terms . Irish property moguls may have gloated at buying the London Ritz and Icelandic property developers reveled in buying 25 million dollar New York penthouse suites with panoramic views of Manhattan but in both cases and other the prime motive was money power or a sense of achievement fulfilled only by the acquisition of more and more etc .

    Denmark is probably the wrong example to take as an ‘imperialist ‘ power in this case but you have a point re the ‘mores ‘ of Danish and indeed other Scandinavian societies . Their modern day ‘mores ‘ would however have been very much impacted by their longer histories of ‘political ‘ peace , strong economic development and the tradition of social democracy . Which was’nt always the case as anyone knowledgeable of European history in the 17th century would attest .

    Ireland (North and South ) still retain cultural mores which retain much more complex attitudes to the State a legacy of colonial and semi colonial rule and partition and recent violence etc . This added to the complex multi seat proportional representation system and the surge in economic growth rates in the CT years were all factors in making ‘clientalism ‘ a basic tenet of political survival for those who chose political careers ..

    Which is of course where the lack of corporate governance has much of it’s origination. The result of the 2011 general Election has however shown how the electorate has chosen to impose some new ‘mores’ on the politicians and the churchmen which will not be to either the latter or the former’s liking. Hopefully it will be a spur to better performance.