How the blood sacrifice of 1916 bequeathed independent Ireland to “the till-minders and crawthumpers”

I like the opening of John Waters’ column today

You have to hand it to Enda: at least he has courage. I have in mind “courage” in the Sir Humphrey sense – as on the occasion when minister Hacker announces his determination to go through with some “principled” proposal of his, in the face of the warnings of his executive advisers.

Having listened patiently, Sir Humphrey declares: “Very courageous, minister”. The word “courageous” triggers a note of panic in Jim Hacker’s response: “Wha-wha-what do you mean ‘courageous?”

Anyone going into Irish politics with unbreachable principles is entering an area of extreme danger. In this case, Waters is talking less about principle and more about Enda’s announcement that he intends to make it through the last possible days of his mandate, ie, the early Spring of 2016:

Other nations remember their epic moments as a matter of course, but for us 2016 presents a host of impossible dilemmas which freeze us in our tracks.

We might well have wondered if anyone would have the imagination to take us beyond the idea of a line of politicians standing on the steps of the GPO, gazing at soldiers marching past. Until Tuesday last, the merest intrusion of the question provoked consternation and dismay, causing the issue to be avoided by anyone with the remotest means or power of delivering even the most modest proposal to save national face.

But then, imagining himself to be announcing that the Government would run its full term, the Taoiseach confirmed the form of the commemoration: an election which will pit the political class of 2016 against the heroes of a century ago.

He goes on…

The test to be applied will not be, as Mr Kenny and his compadres appear to believe, whether Ireland has “emerged from the bailout” and “returned to the markets”. Instead, the election will place every candidate in an implicit comparison with the deeds and ideals of the past.

And…

Perhaps what we most urgently require to recall about 1916 is not the heroism but rather the fatal loss of vision which it finally amounted to. In getting themselves shot, Pearse and the others denied posterity the quality of intelligence which their continuing presence would have brought to the independence project.

In the aftermath of their absence, Ireland was left to the tender mercies of till-minders and crawthumpers, and the consequences can still be heard on the radio any morning, as politicians and self-describing “experts” seek to define the existential difference between €2.8 billion and €3.1 billion.

Finally…

The same consequences can be observed in the Fine Gael poster urging a Yes vote in the referendum to abolish the Seanad. Instead of idealism, Fine Gael offers constitutional vandalism and promises “fewer politicians” as an answer to national degradation.

Far from nation-building, the self-styled inheritors of the mantle of Michael Collins propose to dismantle the institutions for which the blood of past generations flowed in rivers. Instead of leadership, they seek to appease the mob by offering the depletion of their own numbers without benefit of firing squad.

And since they put it like that, it might seem churlish of us – when the opportunity next arises – to refuse the offer.

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  • Most countries have the luxury of celebrating their centennials by a few fireworks shows, speeches, and essay contests about the founding fathers of the nation and the ideals of the revolution. Ireland was cursed by its founders with an irredentist agenda that ignored demographic and political reality. Fine Gael divested itself of that irredentism in order to focus on economic development in the Republic and Fianna Fail did as well in exchange for peace in Northern Ireland. Ireland should not be commemorating foolish blood sacrifices by those like Pearse, but rather the statesmanship of those like Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. Maybe in another century the country can celebrate FitzGerald, Reynolds and Ahern as well (while quietly overlooking the corruption of the latter figure).

  • Mick Fealty

    I think Mr Waters is implying that when it lost the Pearses it also lost it vision…

  • megatron

    I can see where John Waters is coming from but I suspect that the real problem was the reactionary elements in official Ireland establishment who used all available levers to curb any radicalism.

    It is hard to believe (well its a very low probability) that all the 20th century visionaries Ireland would produce were all in the GPO (notwithstanding the numbers who were apparently there!)

  • Harry Flashman

    Ireland did not lose its visionaries with the death of Pearse, on the contrary Ireland has always had men such as he.

    Men who see a particular vision for Ireland; a thirty-two county, independent, sovereign Irish Republic. Men who, despite being in a tiny minority and despised by those who would settle for less, are willing to take up arms against the British forces and fight and die until their vision has been achieved.

    In Pearse’s time they were called “rebels”, then a “murder gang”, then “irregulars”, then “subversives”, then “terrorists”.

    Today we call them “dissidents”.

    This vision thing can be a bit uncomfortable when looked at up close.

  • Republic of Connaught

    “Ireland was cursed by its founders with an irredentist agenda that ignored demographic and political reality.”

    I always find this “irredentist” claim baffling. In 1921 Fermanagh and Tyrone had a nationalist majority; so it is actually a lie to claim the Irish Republic was making “irredentist” claims over those those two nationalist counties, at least.

    In 2013, 30 of Ireland’s 32 counties most likely have a nationalist majority. Yet still some casually use the word ‘irredentist” in relation to Irish nationalism and yet not British unionism claiming sovereignty over majority nationalist west Ulster counties.

    Again I say, baffling.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “In getting themselves shot, Pearse and the others denied posterity the quality of intelligence which their continuing presence would have brought to the independence project.”

    Through the Theosophist and Gaelic enthusiast from the Antrim Road, James Cousin, Mohandas Ghandi came into contact with the origional “Irish Ireland” theories that envisaged the development of a strong independant culture through simple non-engagement with the dominant culture, what we in the 1960s used to call “dropping out.”

    I often wonder what richer cultural posibilities there might have been for Ireland as a whole if the heros of 1916 had simply continued along this road not taken here. And yes, anyone who reads Pearce’s essays in “A Significant Irish Educationaalist” cannot but mourne the loss of such a brilliantly creative intellegence.

  • Harry Flashman

    A minor point perhaps but what, inherently, is so bad about the till minders?

    When they’re minding their tills they’re not bothering anyone else, they’re not planning the murder of their next door neighbour, they’re not organizing genocide or riots, they’re not making bombs or plotting red revolution. They’re just providing an excellent and vital service to their community by supplying essential goods and services.

    Why are they so despised and the maniacal idealists always held up for veneration? Are we really such adolescents?

    Look at Venezuela today, a country not short of idealists and visionaries and who had to send in the army to run the country’s toilet-paper factory so inept are they at running basic services. Put a till minder or two in the government and I dare say you’d soon have all the bog roll you needed.

    In the serialisation of Damien MacBride’s memoirs today we see a vivid illustration of the vital and unappreciated role till minders play in keeping society going. Gordon Brown at the time of the Lehmans’ collapse describes the chaos that would automatically follow a major bank collapse, people would go to Tesco (the ultimate till minders) and find they couldn’t buy anything and mass anarchy and looting would result. Brown would have to call out the army.

    So let’s have a little less bashing of the till minders, as a former till minder myself I know how badly society needs us, particularly when the poets, visionaries and idealists are out shooting our customers and staff and blowing up our shops.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Alas, Harry, when the till minders at the top end of the Banking Pyramid get their greedy hands on a state (or the appendages of those who are elected to run a state) they are actually bothering us. As can be seen from the mess made of our poor old land by the other “till minders” that these bankers loaned the contents of their tills to, who wanted to pave Ireland with middle range housing estates without any concern for the supporting infastructure. Or need.

    The till minders who have taken over the country since 1916 are hardly “providing an excellent and vital service to their community by supplying essential goods and services.” Rather, their crazy greed has been the indirect trigger for possible future “genocide or riots” even if they are “not making bombs or plotting red revolution” they kind of know someone who does, like Cameron or Obama.

    As, I hope, one of the “the poets, visionaries and idealists”, but one who has handled multi-million budgets as honestly as I could in the face of these “till minders” whose idea of profit is screwing all they could get out of anyone vulnerable and in their power, I cannot but feel that if we had had St Endas as a model for our education system, we would not have been trying to sew fur back unto the shaved Emerald Tiger these last few years.

  • Barnshee

    ” British unionism claiming sovereignty over majority nationalist west Ulster counties.”

    AU CONTRAIRE Unionism would be delighted to see the back of “majority nationalist” west ulster ASAP -please!

  • SDLP supporter

    Good post from Harry Flashman.

    PH Pearse was creative and innovative, but in some matters seriously weird and he wrote at least one dodgy poem about young boys. God knows what he was sublimating and I often wonder about his relationship with his father, an Englishman (who, incidentally, did the monumental work on sculpture on St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Donegall Street) and who seems to be a total blank in his life.

    I should add, in fairness, that Pearse appeared to lead a totally blameless private life and was almost certainly celibate.Whatever one thinks of Pearse, his memory was only demeaned by Bertie Ahern citing him as one of his heroes and putting his portrait up on the wall of his office.

    Whatever about the minders of the greasy till, that great line from Jonathan Swift says it all:

    “Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together”,

  • Gopher

    Don’t really understand the opening post, I’m sure that is entirely my fault but I kinda think 30,000 dead was a sadder loss for Irish idealism than around 70. I would even go as far to say the number killed in the Irish Civil war would have been a greater blow to Irish idealism unless of course you buy into a very narrow idealism which I understand people on this forum are wont to do. It is interesting how that narrow process is replicated into the 21st century with regards the last skirmish on this Island.

  • antamadan

    Yeah unionists, revolution let the catholic hierarchy in with too much influence, which took till recently to correct. I accept.

    Of course up to that date the Irish heirarchy wereselling out to the Brits on the irish language and irish republicianism for being allowed a seminary -Maynooth- (albeit pragmatism after hundreds of years of British rule)

    Also, unionists were against evolution, fair play etc, and so revolution happened.

  • denogla

    The title of this posting seems to be misinterpreting Waters’s claim, which is the old one that Ireland’s political elites since 1922 have consistently failed the 1916-ers…

    P.H. Pearse, a remarkable man by any standard, may have been the mind of the men of the Rising and those who followed in 1919-1921, but the simple fact is that it was ’till-minders and crawthumpers’ and other such types who were the mainstay of the national movement. Perhaps it’s time we accepted it. If Pearse and/or Connolly had lived they could not have changed that reality, and to think that they could or would is just a different way of putting them on the pedestal that two or more generations of historians and opinion-formers have been trying to push them off.

  • “I always find this “irredentist” claim baffling. In 1921 Fermanagh and Tyrone had a nationalist majority; so it is actually a lie to claim the Irish Republic was making “irredentist” claims over those those two nationalist counties, at least.”

    @Republic,

    Let me give you a language lesson. Irredentist comes from the Italian “terra irredenta” or unredeemed land. It refers to longing for land held by another that one considers to be one’s own by right.

    I have never seen an Adams or McGuinness speech in which they call for a 28-county republic or a 30-county republic but it is always a 32-county republic as in the “32 County Sovereignty Committee.” If the IRA or INLA had made their case that Tyrone and Fermanagh should be part of Ireland because of the majority of nationalists in them, they would have had a reasonable case. But they didn’t. They always rejected ANY British sovereignty on the emerald isle. As part of the 1921 treaty there was a boundary commission that held hearings on the boundary. Republicans did not make a case then to adjust the border based on demographic majorities in individual counties. They boycotted the whole exercise.

  • Harry Flashman

    I take your point Seaan however I think it very unfair to till minders to call the boyos in charge of the Irish banks ’till minders’ as the one thing they most certainly were not minding were their tills.

    When they indulged in a bout of speculation that would have made a drunken duke in a Reno casino look tight-fisted by comparison they left behind any pretense of men who were prudently keeping an eye on the shop. Like the poets and visionaries such bankers sneered at the dull provincial shopkeeper mentality which would have reminded them that you have to look after the pennies first before you can indulge your whims and fantasies.

    I grant you that a nation of shopkeepers would be a tedious land but much happier, safer and more prosperous than a country where idealists, poets and dreamers are in charge.

  • Republic of Connaught

    tmitch57,

    It is misleading to use the term ‘irredentist’ in relation to Irish nationalism and the six northern counties when one knows full well the sharp demographic disparity from west to east Ulster.

    It would be more factual to qualify the remark in future by stating that, technically, the only irredentist claims made by Irish nationalism are on Antrim and Down, which are the only remaining unionist majority counties in all of Ireland.

  • aquifer

    Blood Sacrifice giving rise to some kind of entitlement?

    Forty virgins perhaps?

    Depending on whose blood is spilled by whom this may conflict with common law in these parts.

    Sounds like a manifesto for people with crap manifestos.

    Shot dead poets and propagandists as lost leaders?

    A clever theory, because it is impossible to disprove.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hello Harry, no offence to any literal “till minders”. I’ve been one myself when I worked in second hand bookshops during my holidays from Art College. But the term as is being used in the title I’m reading as a figurative echo of Yeats’ “September 1913”:

    What need we, being come to sense,
    But fumble in a greasey till
    And add the halfpence to the pence
    And prayer to shivering prayer, until
    You have dried the marrow from the bone?
    For men were born to pray and save:
    Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
    It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

    The “Till Minders” aludes to the practical hard men who wanted cynically “realistic politics” in the interests of pure commerce in 1913, and would be a decent pre-run for the bankers and oh so modern politicians of FF and FG who thought they (and their Banker/Developer allies) were creating a New “Emerald Tiger” Ireland before they ran it head on into a brick wall. And for all the Boys on the Hill who wrap themselves in flags while ensuring the sucess of the interests of the bankers and developers lobbies.

    And I know that we are on the same page about these boyos and about the problem of useless “revolutionary” violence both. Although perhaps not about the notion that a land built on market forces would be “much happier, safer and more prosperous” than a land with some real cultural vision that would temper the tendency of pure materialism to render life rather pointless.

    The real issue I feel is that those who were shot in 1916 had a great deal more creativity that could have deeply enriched the developing culture of Ireland had they lived. Unfortunately they were simply drawn into their definitive gesture by the dominant zeitgeist of their time. The seduction of violence and of self sacrifice was far from the personal property of Pearse and his friends in that year. Other idealists from other European nations were participating in a general orgy of slaughter across Europe at the same time. But the loss to Ireland of such passionate creativity was irreplacable. Anyone actually reading through Pearse’s educational essays will soon recognise the loss.

    “The Murder Machine” in particular describes how an education system that is tailored to societies purely material and commercial needs develops a form of society where life is hardly worth living. Something that is still an important issue, and certainly not in any sense “Historically Situated.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Just seen Ed Vulliamy’s article “Development Hell: how the upmarket vandals ruined my childhood streets,” in todays “Observer.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/22/notting-hill-development-hell

    Very much an excellent “coming to a house beside you” Jeremiad which describes the cutting edge of the “Till Minder” elite’s, I quote: “absolute hegenomy of selfish greed and impunity of money.”

    The real problem is still that the advocates of our Brave New Ireland are mesmerised by the success (and illusory wealth creation) of the London bankers and their pals: “They spend it like they made it —’To hell with you all, I’ve got the money, get out of the way.’ ”

    The high handed take over of important planning decisions by OFMdFM is just a tiny current in this flood, although Attwoods’s bleats against the injustice of it all were highly compromised by his own record with the Runkerry fiasco among many other things.

    A little bit of Pearse’s communitarian “idealism” on behalf of the powerless and politically disposessed (all of us suckers once we’ve voted our “representitives” into power) would hardly go amiss in all this.

  • Gopher

    Would Pearse’s vision be that different than Dev’s? The thread is fluffy nonsense. I don’t really think you can evolve as a people if you think everything is defined by one event in which 70 people died. Yup and that is why the 12th is ludicrous too or
    “facticious” as one of my favorite Historians describes it.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Unfortunately they were simply drawn into their definitive gesture by the dominant zeitgeist of their time. The seduction of violence and of self sacrifice was far from the personal property of Pearse and his friends in that year.”

    Indeed not, the violence committed by the rebels in Dublin pales into insignificance compared to the holocaust that was being unleashed in Europe at the same time.

    I have to admit to a certain degree of schizophrenia (like the Irish state itself) when it comes to Easter 1916. The men themselves were clearly committed patriots who wanted the best for their own country and were willing to fight and die for it.

    They armed and trained themselves in the open, clearly identified themselves, wore uniforms and fought a gallant battle under the flag of their country and were entitled to much better treatment than that which they received when they surrendered honourably.

    It is remarkable how a civilised nation like Britain could lose all sense of reason when it came to Ireland and execute prisoners of war, for like it or not that is what those men were, yet treat captured German officers, guilty of heinous war crimes, with due respect and military decorum.

    Having said all that Ireland can not forever be beholden to the shades of Pearse and his comrades. They fought honourably and with admirable courage for an ideal which ultimately the Irish people weren’t prepared to fight for with as much courage and dignity.

    It is wrong to hold them up as the pure ideal and dismiss the rest as craw-thumpers, till minders or sell-outs. That way, as Europe subsequently learned to its cost, leads ultimately to fascism.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi denogla, “the simple fact is that it was ’till-minders and crawthumpers’ and other such types who were the mainstay of the national movement.”

    Not so before 1922 and “independance”! The Cultural Revival, which was much more important as a broad spectrum opinion former before 1916 that the minority political movements we all pay such attention to in our Canonical Histories today, was made up of ne’er do wells and Bohemians like Pearse and co, and the money boys only really showed up when there was a buck to be made from buying and selling real political influence in a newly formed Free State. Idealism seldom offers the £14,000,000 bonuses.

    Check out Gellner’s “Nations and Nationalism” for a model of how ALL political nationalism (as opposed to Culture and identity movements) are motivated with what Gellner describes as “perpetual economic expansion.” The political movements are always a parasitic form that “use” (often unconsciously) the cultural movements to achieve power and then discover that the economic development of their state has quite divergant interests from the Cultural movements.

    Despite what we are told (North and South) about the commercial potential of the “Culture Industry” the real culture that people and their communities make themselves seldom produces real tax revenues for their elected masters.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Harry, I agree with just about everything you say, but would balk at describing Pearse as swiming in the same waters as old Adolf. Quite a number of people who fought against Hitler and Stalin would have had the same mental landscape as Pearse. Gellner ( whom I remember wandering around Putney Sainsbury’s, Auden like, in carpet slippers) identifies the real culprit as the soft gradation between “nation as culture” and “Nation as Politics” (the capitalisation is quite intentional). Politics and its devotees is what produces the real horrors.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hiya Gopher, just a bit more fluffy nonsense! Try reading what Dev wrote and then look over some of Pearse’s writings. Note the differences.

    And the one thing Pearse, (inspirational, but no politician!), could never have been is a “Cute Hoor.”

  • Gopher

    Symantics I imagine, which would not reflect the practical resources on hand.

    Pearse so I’m told died so that Irishmen could be free. I wonder if that freedom extended to second guessing his intentions a century later rather than the freedom to make decisions without “fluffy nonsense”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    From someone who frequently mis-spells words myself in my rush to get it all down, Gopher, just one wee correction: Semantics, pronounced “se·man·tics” [ sə mántiks ].

    And another semantic query, just what does the word “free” mean in your sentence? When I say the word I mean some area of choice carved out of the determinism I find all around me, but often when I hear a politician or one of their fans say “free” it comes over as a portmanteau term used to pull a number of disparate and contradictory impressions together in order to persuade the innocent listener that the politicians intentions and the listeners intentions are on common ground.

    The significant link here in “died so that Irishmen could be free” is “Irishmen” and “Free.” Pearse was concerned that a people comprised of individuals should be free to develop their own rich culture, not that individuals born arbitrarily on an island by the Atlantic should be free turn it into a tenth rate Globalised version of the City of London for their own benefit and to the detriment of their fellows lives and of the culture in general.

    No need to “second guess” poor old Padraig’s intentions, its all clearly stated there in his writings. I would be deeply reluctant to suggest that you are commenting on Pearse without reading his work, so I imagine that you have simply forgotten what he said about these things in your own honest rush to get your comments down.

  • “It would be more factual to qualify the remark in future by stating that, technically, the only irredentist claims made by Irish nationalism are on Antrim and Down, which are the only remaining unionist majority counties in all of Ireland.”

    What is the basis for your claim that nationalists are a majority in Co. Londonderry and Co. Armagh?

    But in any case it is irrelevant to the basic argument, because the leadership of NI republicanism has always resided in Belfast. Adams et al. would never argue in favor of making the referendum on a county by county basis as this would delay by decades the point at which Down and Antrim would switch sovereignty.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Waters appears to be suggesting that rivers of blood were shed for the Seanad. Is he quite sure about this?

  • Gopher

    My apologies for the spelling errors. Free I always assume means free and not tethered to an interpretation like when people have no rational argument they invoke some nonsensical tradition like gun nuts in the States. I like to call tethering second amendment politics. Times and reality change making invoking Padraig by enthusiasts bemusing for my humble self in the 21st century. Something stands or falls on its merit in 2013 not because the British shot someone in 1916. Claiming otherwise is “fluffy nonsense”.

    I have never read Pearse and have no interest to, again my fault the lure of Jutland or the Somme is just too pressing on my time when I think of 1916. I’m happy for people to have heroes but a belief that utopia was lost with a mans death flies in the face of historical physics.

  • Kensei

    While Ireland undoubtedly lost something important in the leaders of 1916, I have a two fold problem with this

    1. It’s essentially the great men theory of history, whereas systems tend to matter a lot more over the long run. Ireland’s politics are parochial because the system encourages it to be so; some of it is as a result of the electoral system, but it’s the combination of the whole structure that causes it. How true to the Republican principles would the leaders of 1916, especially given that a full republic in one steps was highly unlikely, and the result would have initially been some sort of Dominon status within the British Empire? We can’t see what they would have done, or what Collins would have done .
    It’s the same with the short term questions. What could they have got out of the British? Could they have have dealt more adroitly with the North? Could they have avoided Civil War? We’ll never know.

    2. It’s unfair on a lot of the leaders that the Republic had. Dev had a multitude of faults, but it’s hard to argue he didn’t have a vision for the country. Rightly or wrongly avoiding entry into WW2 took a lot of courage. Lemass in particular clearly had big ideas that moved the needle in the country beyond parochial concerns, and despite the disaster of the previous FF government can you really say they lacked a big idea? The what can only be termed as corruption that crept in after the revolutionary generation is a character problem of a different kind, I think.

    There is this longing in some part to think that if only we had different, better leaders then Ireland would not have been quite as poor or insular or in thrall to the Catholic Church. But it’s a stretch I think – a lot of those arose directly out of the state of the country at partition and the fundamental beliefs of the people. The Catholic Church didn’t take over the country – it had influence because the people were largely pious, and its root were deeper than Republicanisms. Strong leaders might have managed to plot a somewhat different course, but if the politicans that exited in Ireland 100 or 80mn years ago didn’t exist, another party would have invented them.

  • Harry Flashman

    I was in no way comparing Pearse to Hitler, although both at the time were mere soldiers fighting for their respective countries with honour, there is no way of knowing what lay ahead in 1916.

    I was simply saying that holding to the ideals of the 1916 Rising, or any other national cause, and promoting them as the only way forward irrespective of the actual wishes of the majority of the nation leads to fascism.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh and as regards till minders, wasn’t the ideological father to the Rising, Tom Clarke, not a modest till minder himself?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hello Gopher, one of the great problems about the mass of comment on Pearse is that few of those who comment know him from his own work. People read books and absorb the opinions of others without actually going there and judging everything from what a man actually said and thought. As I’ve said about a year ago regarding our own Ulster impresario of the Cultural Revival, Frank Bigger, possibly the least interesting thing about Pearse is his overt political involvement. The cultural work, with the Irish language and with St Endas, is much more interesting and pregnant with value for the new Ireland that it might have enriched. And I might even agree in a longer discussion that much (although not all) that has been written and thought about Pearse is “Fluffy Nonsense.”

    And just a note on “Jutland and the Somme.” My grandfather, who met Pearse before 1914 in cultural circles, fought on the Somme as a front line soldier directing the 107th Trench Mortar battery. He never ceased to honour Pearse’s memory. Its from his response to the “real” Pearse that I derive my impressions of a man whose work he valued highly.

    I’d still be most interested in an actual description of what you might think “Free” means in a positive rather than a negative sense. Anyone can say “NO” like dear old Lord Bannside (I use “dear” in the financial sense) but when you begin to try and describe “Free” as a presence rather than an absence it will teather you to something you care about. Real love for something other than the self is what defines the characteristics of communities and cultures.

    And Harry, no personal criticism intended. I thought virtually all your comments on Pearse were measured and thoughtful. I remember my grandfather saying of Pearse and Casement, that their great passion in all they did was for the dignity and honour of Ireland. And the comments of a young English officer attending Pearse in his confinement, that he was “the kind of decent, honourable man that any country needs at this time.”

    And yes, Tom Clarke was a tobaccanist with a greasy till (at least Yeats thought it so) but I’m still using “Till Minders” figurativly for the Banksters and their Lackeys that Ed Vulliamy’s article (I mentioned it above) describes. And Tom Clarke was a bit of a bohemian himself, despite the till-fumbling.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Tmitch57:

    “What is the basis for your claim that nationalists are a majority in Co. Londonderry and Co. Armagh?”

    The 2011 districts of NI by majority religion and the Ulster’s Doomed demographic blog.

    “But in any case it is irrelevant to the basic argument, because the leadership of NI republicanism has always resided in Belfast.”

    Adams and McGuinness will be retired and most likely dead in 20 years when these matters are coming to a head. So I wouldn’t invest energy discussing what they have to say about the long term future of Ireland.

    We in the Republic will get a vote on what type of unification can occur too, remember. And if a few hundred thousand unionists/loyalists concentrated in Antrim and Down reject unification, you won’t find many down south desperate to take on that almighty pain in the arse,

  • Gopher

    As I said I am quite happy for people to have heroes Seaan and am even quite happy that representatives I have elected attend the 1916 commemorations but that’s what it is a commemoration, not a seance to transpose a dead mans intentions to 2013 like the Divine quoted in the opening post. How many “Devine’s” are there? Which ones can divine the true intentions?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Not divination, Gopher, just reading the works of others and taking what is best from them to illuminate our understanding of the present. It’s usually called “having a culture.”

    As Cicero said “Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur?”

    Which may be loosly translated as;

    “Not to know anything of what happened before you were born is to remain in the condition of a child forever. For what is the value of time for any man, except that through reviewing its riches we may sink ourselves in a memory of those ancient things from a superior age?”

    And I would seriously recommend that you read Pearse’s “The Murder Machine” at least, if only to see how nothing changes.

  • Greenflag

    @ ROC ,

    ‘And if a few hundred thousand unionists/loyalists concentrated in Antrim and Down reject unification, you won’t find many down south desperate to take on that almighty pain in the arse’

    There’ll be no if about rejection from hundreds of thousands of unionists/loyalists in such an eventuality the only significant question will be whether they will or won’t respect the result of a democratic referendum.

    Some will , some won’t , some will leave and some will just carry on . There’s no good reason why a small British minority of 10% or so cannot live as citizens in a United Ireland . There has always been since earliest times British in Ireland in fact thats where the earliest inhabitants on this island came from circa 6,000 BC and over the centuries since .

  • Greenflag

    @ Sean Ui Neill.

    ‘we may sink ourselves in a memory of those ancient things from a superior age?”’

    With all due respect to Cicero and Marcus Aurelius and Plato and Socrates but I ‘ll pass on their superior forms of slavery and helotry and I remain unimpressed with their ‘superior ‘ dentistry . Great builders though 😉

    Most modern people haven’t time to remember yesterday never mind the distant past and those that do find that much of the past they read about was’nt the real past but a sanitised and agenda serving version to suit the haves of whatever era be they the Soviet Comintern or Wall St or the City of London .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    While one cannot but abhor the presence of Slavery as an institution in the ancient world, Greenflag, how are we, with our more casual “Slavery-lite” arrangement where peoples lives are entirely taken up with morgage and general debt repayments and the relentless grind of opressive work to get money that other people get to hold onto, how are we any freer than the slaves of the Classical era in any truley meaningful sense, really?

    Try reading Plato, or Cicero (nor Robert Harris or Steven Saylor) or Marcus Aurelius for a real vision of what positive human freedom actually means. Or try reading Pearse. They’ve been mana for the have nots of all ages, a window out of the dark cellar.

    But perhaps you agree with Georges Sorel ( google him, the influential non-marxist socialist author of “Reflections on Violence” who inspired Mussolini) who felt that the people who compelled Socrates to drink the hemlock were entirely correct. He was after all persuading people that questioning all sacred cows (like Democracy) and thinking things out for yourself was a good thing to do……….

    “Most modern people haven’t time to remember yesterday never mind the distant past and those that do find that much of the past they read about was’nt the real past but a sanitised and agenda serving version to suit the haves of whatever era be they the Soviet Comintern or Wall St or the City of London.” So perhaps not!

    But the only way out of that quagmire is to read the texts and not what other people think of them. As I’m suggesting Gopher might just do for poor old much misunderstood Pearse. It’s worth a try!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “He was after all persuading people that questioning all sacred cows (like Democracy) and thinking things out for yourself was a good thing to do……….”

    “He” here is Socrates, not Sorel.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Don’t just tell them to read “The Murder Machine”, Seaan, put up the link:

    http://www.eirigi.org/pdfs/irish_politics/Murder_Machine.pdf

    And, Greenflag, simply add “Banksters, Developers, Thatcher Nostalgics and General Globalisers” every time Pearse uses “England” and you’ll see how significant his comments are today.

    “There have been States in which the rich did not grind the poor, although there are no such States now; there have been been self-governing democracies, although there are few such democracies now; there have been rich and beautiful social organisations, with an art and a culture and a religion in every man’s house, though for such a thing today we have to search out some sequestered people living by a desolate sea shore or in a high forgotten valley among lonely hills — a hamlet of Iar-Connacht or a village in the Austrian Alps.”

    Not even there any more!

    “And is not the precise aim of education to ‘foster’. Not to inform, to indoctrinate, to conduct through a course of studies (though these be the dictionary meanings of the word), but, first and last, to ‘foster’ the elements of character native to a soul, to help to bring these to their full perfection rather than to implant exotic excellences.

    Fosterage implies a foster-father or foster-mother, a person as its centre and inspiration rather than a code of rules.

    Modem education systems are elaborate pieces of machinery devised by highly-salaried officials for the purpose of turning out citizens according to certain approved patterns. The modem school is a State-controlled institution designed to produce workers for the State, and is in the same category which a dockyard, or any other State-controlled institution which produces articles necessary to the progress, well-being, and defence of the State. We speak of the ‘efficiency’, the ‘cheapness’ and the ‘up-to-dateness’ of an education system just as we speak of the ‘efficiency’, the ‘cheapness’ and the ‘up-to-dateness’ of a system of manufacturing coal-gas.”

    Just a wee taster……..

  • Gopher

    I’ll give it one last go Seaan. The opening post was about some person apparently who believes just like all Scooby Doo villains if it were not for those pesky kids or in our case the course of History things would be just great. Has the person quoted in the opening post still got his Che Tee-shirt? Does he imagine if Alberto Korda had only photographed the right revolutionary heaven would appear on earth? Seriously its fluffy nonsense, its political superstition at its worst.

    Like I said I kinda prefer to read about Jutland or the Somme. I 100% guarantee that nobody (not even some thick unionist) will stand up and say if the dead of the Somme were alive today we would not have had a banking crisis and they outnumber the Easter dead 60000 to 70. Go figure how many artists, economists, writers, philosophers, linguists oh and Poets etc were among them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh Gopher, the world would have been different if the dead of 1916 had lived, even if just through the children they would have had had they lived.

    And anyone developing a crisp social analysis whose life was prematurely cut short would, living, have continued to think and influence. I remember a Californian graffiti some years back “the people who are destroying the world have names and faces.” For the world we are living in is never the creation of reifications such as “politics” or “the economy.” It is formed by a composite of individual wills and efforts made by the actual people who operate or comment on these things.

    So while the utopian final solution version, “it would all have been alright if…” may be “fluffy nonsense”, (I agree), the present is formed, quite directly for those of us who have not yet developed alzheimers or willingly dose ourselves with rohypnol, by the manner in which our minds articulate the immediate past and the effect the thoughts and emotions of the living and the dead have on this internal process.

    So, had the dead of 1916 lived, we would not be living in the kind of Ireland we are living in, although it is highly unlikely that the Ireland that would have developed would actually have been in any sense “perfect.” But it would have been to some degree different. And you’re not going to tell me that the mess we have been herded into by our materialist masters could not be improved?

  • Greenflag

    @Seanui Neill ,

    I agree Pearse is often misunderstood and for reasons which have nothing to do with his educational ideas. As to what would have been different had the brave men of 1916 lived implement their idealism?

    Given the political world of that time and Ireland’s relative isolation and tiny economy the scenarios based on actual historical events that happened in the aftermath of other smaller nations uprisings ? Unless of course you think that somehow we Irish are not as other men and are impervious to the influences cultural , economic , political of the wider world then I would have to say that Pearse’s idealism could have led to a Soviet Republic or a later Fascist one party state or a successful democracy or a bankrupt Albania .Who can tell ? Events in other lands changed history in Ireland post 1914 just as they do today .No nation /state is immune from the current globalised world economy .

    And until such time as the world’s major economic powers including the USA ,UK, Germany ,France and others put an end to both off shore and in shore tax avoiding entities then the power of elites in all the above mentioned countries to do what they want and where they want will continue .This means of course that the tax starved democratic overnments of all of the above mentioned states will have to tax or cutback social programs for the weakest sections in their societies .This will continue until eventually the pips begin to squeek and theres nothing left for the majority of people in the aforementioned states except recourse to revolution and blood on the streets .

    Interestingly the German Election result included the demise and near extinction of the German Free Market -pro business , deregulation , no minimum wage Party which dropped fro near 15% last time out to less than 5% and thus saw it’s representation in the Bundestag cut to zero .

    Presumably the Germans took a long view at the experience of both the USA and the UK as they pursued such policies for the past couple of decades and they have been unimpressed with the results .

    And yet the former Communists managed an overall average of near 10% with over 20% in much of the former East with some constituencies even reaching 40% plus .

    Indeed the former communists have depeleted the Social Democrats (think Blair’s Labour Party of a huge number of votes which has seen the SPD drop below 30% .

    While the Wall St Journal and the City of London may ‘gloat ‘ over the victory of the German “Conservatives ” that would be an ideological mistake for in political terms the German CDU /CSU new government is to the left of the present American Democrats and even British Labour .

    The fact that the German economy thrives etc etc and they the Germans above all fear political instabilty on a scietal scale is something that American and British and indeed Irish politicians might take note of .

    As for taking on the off shore (Cayman Islands /Bermudas etc_ or the inshore Luxembourgs , Liechtensteins Switzerlands and yes alas Ireland the politicians will run a marathon to avoid having that little known but very important part of todays multinational method of financial operation and currency/tax rate maniipulation and tax evasion -dealt with . In this alas our so called democratic leaders are in cahoots with the worldwide criminal fraternities of Russian and Italian mafiosi , Mexican drug cartels , African warlords and of course the former Enron which in it’s worlwide ‘extortions ‘ managed to form some 800 offshore ‘entities so that it could process it’s version of the “Double Irish ” and or “Dutch Sandwich ”

    Even Pearse himself much less De Valera or even the bog trotter Brookeborough might not have coped with today’s level of financial services complexity , lack of transparency that large multi national corporations enjoy at the expense of the majority of their home countries citizens .

    Once upon a time people were encouraged to vote for somebody who had what was called a stake in the country . In simpler times this meant somebody whose personal prosperity would rise or fall in line with the prosperity or lack thereof of his native land .

    Those days are now passe . It matters not at least in the short to medium term whether they prosper and the majority of their fellow countrymen are pauperised . For they can ‘escape ‘ off shore or even inshore and maintain their in many cases( not all) ill gotten wealth safe from their governments . And the government
    s response to this situation ? The only response I’ve been able to see reported I think in the latest Economist is that governments around the world are competing against each other to lure those with capital to invest and will offer these people citizenship for a ‘price’

    Was it for this that the men of 1916 died ? or for that matter any other revolution back to Wat Tyler’s in these islands over the past several centuries ?

    We live in different times we have to adopt different solutions if we want to protect and defend the limited democratic achievements that have been won to date be they in Ireland , the UK or USA or elsewhere .It will come down to them or us on a global scale and as of now the power is in the hands of ‘them ‘ and don’t you forget it 🙁

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It saddens me Greenflag to have to keep coming back to you with new points. I’m not really at odds with you on anything you have to say about the problems we face today. We entirely agree about the nightmare of globalisation and how the unscrupulous scum of the new rich surf the criminal opportunities it offers. But I think I’ve noticed what the problem is:

    Seaan: “As I’ve said about a year ago regarding our own Ulster impresario of the Cultural Revival, Frank Bigger, possibly the least interesting thing about Pearse is his overt political involvement. The cultural work, with the Irish language and with St Endas, is much more interesting and pregnant with value for the new Ireland that it might have enriched.”

    As my old mentor Ernest Gellner so often pointed out political nationalism leads to “modernity” (ie: the drive to develop an entirely commercial society) and under political (as opposed to cultural) “nationalism” lies all the “fluffy nonsense” that begins to be used by the hunter gathers of the financial markets and their tame politicos to gull the innocent into supporting the needs of these wolves who feed of their lives. I simply do not think that the answer to this lies in any political direction I can see actually in play nowadays.

    Greenflag: “We live in different times we have to adopt different solutions if we want to protect and defend the limited democratic achievements that have been won to date be they in Ireland, the UK or USA or elsewhere.”

    These achievements were nineteenth century liberal gains that actually are “passé” today. They rely on being able to trust Representatives to (gulp) actually represent us honestly! You cannot “defend” them as it will never be in the interests of the predators and the scoundrels who we vote into their tame governments to let you. I fully agree that “we have to adopt different solutions” but to even think outside the box we need to begin to hold our conversations with people (usually dead) who thought in an entirely different way to the slick salesmen of the utterly culpable “modernity” project (see Gellner for an unpacking of this idea). I’m just as angry as you, simply more inclined to look rather further afield for my answers. But good luck with pulling down the great criminal conspiracy we confront with its very own toys. As you say, “now the power is in the hands of ‘them‘ and don’t you forget it.”