The DUP and mainstream Unionism: More Christofascist than Unionist?

Christofascism: The observation that in the West (particularly in the United States), there are demagogues who seek to replace the established secular governments with theocracies built on their version of Christianity.

I often wonder, do the DUP (and considerable elements of the UUP) seek a continued Union with Britain on the basis that it genuinely prefers its politics and culture; or is the root of its support for the Union to do with maximizing the power exerted by ultra-conservative Protestantism?

I feel this is a pertinent question because Northern Ireland – an area which according to the DUP fanatically supports all things British – is the only region in the British Isles that does not fully recognize the right of its people to marry.

Despite Queen Elizabeth giving same-sex marriage Royal Assent in July of 2013 – with Stephen Fry remarking that she regarded being able to do as “wonderful” – the forces of Ulster Unionism at Stormont overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in April 2015.

However you want to look at it, such a reality is deeply ironic. Mainstream Ulster Unionism often invokes its profound loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen, yet its analysis of same-sex marriage gives no consideration to the fact that their symbolic figurehead enabled its passage into English law nearly two years ago.

The Queen approved – reportedly with a sense of enthusiasm – the fruition of same-sex marriage in England and Wales, but with the exception of four MLAs, Stormont Unionism emphatically said no to such change occurring in Northern Ireland.

Now Unionism has historically portrayed the Republic of Ireland as an anti-Protestant conspirator, yet in line with the British government, the people of Ireland very clearly declared in May’s national referendum that they too recognized the right of marriage for all adult members of society.

Thus in effect, Ireland is psychologically closer to Britain on the matter of marriage equality than Irish Unionism (whose entire premise for existence is to draw Ireland closer to Britain both culturally and politically).

On the matter of same-sex marriage in the British Isles therefore – and this will extend to other future attempts to strengthen the presence of equality in the UK – Northern Ireland emanates the image of the “black sheep”.

Irish Unionism takes pride in the contentious six counties being perceived as “British”, but it is oddly Unionism itself that often reduces Northern Ireland to a fundamentalist Protestant cabal; showing very little of the secular qualities that continue to be fostered just across the sea in the “mainland”.

Consequently, what one cannot be condemned for theorizing is that the major Unionist parties (note: there are elected Unionists like Danny Kinahan and John McCallister who absolutely defy this broad tendency) are less motivated by objective arguments for the Union – i.e. economics, security etc. – and are in fact exponentially more concerned with preserving the influence of the teachings of their brand of Christianity (which is vastly different in nature to the most significant Christian force in the UK, the Anglican tradition).

Just consider the private attitudes Ian Paisley had toward the notion of British government interference in Northern Irish affairs. We have heard from numerous sources; including his OFMDFM partner Martin McGuinness, that despite presenting himself as a Unionist, Dr. Paisley was adamant (almost nationalistically) that Northern Ireland was for Northern Ireland to govern.

Essentially, Paisley broadly identified as unionist, but he was also cognizant of Britain’s rather liberal commitment to the doctrine of literalist Christianity; and so his sense of unionism was quite rudimentary in the sense that he acknowledged the British framework was of greater overall benefit to his religion, but he was not overtly politically British in the manner you would expect of a credible unionist.

The DUP’s sense of Unionism (again, the UUP often fall foul of this) is selective and ultimately artificial because in a choice between extending British change to Northern Ireland or upholding radical interpretations of the Christian Bible, Paisley and his successors always opt for the latter.

Thus, there is quite a compelling quality to the analysis that mainstream Irish unionism’s support for the Union is not centred upon its objective merits, but because strategically it is of most benefit to its real concern–the political, cultural and social prevalence of fundamentalist Christianity.

 

  • Smash Nihilism

    Christianity is an evolution of Greco-Roman culture.

  • Robin Keogh

    Nail on head

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Try harder for what? To understand those sections of our community that live in some dark Disneyland of fundamentalist dreamtime? Is this really a worthwhile activity, when such prejudices simply inhibits our flourishing into a mature community with a genuine pluralism that will encourage people having a “real” life? What are you actually defending? The right of a tiny but influential group within our community to force its opinions on others simply because it can hold the bogy of a United Ireland over their voters hands when they are making crosses on paper every five years?

    But I’m glad you do not have to confront what most English people I’ve met (from whatever background) really think of a community that habitually elects parties such as the DUP.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    I’m glad you noticed.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Oh, I thought it was Middle Eastern in origin. That it transferred its centre of power to Rome was more to do with political power than theology. It’s odd that Christanity took about 1,000 years before it rediscovered Greco-Roman humanism while adopting Islamic humanism after resisting both. But all world movements undergo phases of transformation.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Tremendous advantages, oh yes, that’s why the conquered peoples could not get rid of the Imperial powers quickly enough. One of the advantages that Ireland, for example, received was an Gorta Mór and a culture of continual emigration from a situation so privileged. Imperialism is a many faceted thing, and its many and varied disadvantages were as real as its “benefits”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you kindly, Robin!

  • Chingford Man

    It may be difficult for an Irish nationalist to grasp this, but changing the composition of the multinational state that is the UK just doesn’t occur to most people in Great Britain, with the obvious exception of the 45pc of Scotland. Do you have problems understanding that?

    If you do disagree, then find one recent survey of public opinion where the removal of Northern Ireland is rated as an important issue.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “45pc of Scotland”
    You do realise that’s getting on for half the population?

  • Mike the First

    The point being made here (and by the way I support equal marriage) is utterly ruined by a really very childish fallacy – that Unionists, or anyone giving their allegiance to the UK, must support all legislation passed by Parliament, because it has received Royal Assent (as all legisation passed by Parliament does – it’s simply a rubber stamp, as surely the author must know). And that therefore Unionists in the devolved countries must therefore automatically support the extension of English legislation to the devolved countries.
    Darren, would you question the validity of Welsh Labour’s or Scottish Labour’s pro-Union credentials simply because they decided not to support the replication of the Conservative UK Government’s legisation for England into Wales/Scotland? The Health and Social Care Act for instance?

  • Croiteir

    Can you define what is that sovereign state?

  • Niall Chapman

    And what did Christianity have to do with the Industrial Revolution or the Enlightenment, the greatest advances happened in spite of Christianity not because of it

  • barnshee

    Quicker the better

  • james

    I’ve heard it said that Stephen Fry is a stupid person’s idea of what an intelligent person is like. And I think that’s fair.

  • Korhomme

    Well, the 1967 Abortion Act was not extended to N Ireland where there was a devolved Parliament at Stormont with a Unionist majority. Nor was the 1967 Act to decriminalise homosexual acts between adults. In both cases the Stormont Parliament chose not to pass similar legislation here. More recently, both the Westminster and Edinburgh parliaments have not adopted the ‘Nordic’ model in relation to trafficking and prostitution, though the Assembly did—and got the Royal Assent for it. N Ireland hasn’t changed the libel laws recently, as England did. So, we sort of have a ‘mix and match’ or ‘pick and choose’ form of legislation here; is this an expression of local ‘independence’?

    Yet, if the devolved Assemblies are supported by unionists (dubious in Scotland) and are sort of expected to copy-cat Westminster legislation, what’s the point of a local Assembly?

  • Mike the First

    Actually, the legislation in the Assembly which criminalised paying for sex in Northern Ireland is a great example.
    Presumably, according to Darren Litter, because that bill was given Royal Assent, then David Cameron as an avowed unionist is obliged to replicate it in England.
    Is that the “logic”, Darren?

  • Carl Mark

    If you look at the history of Fascism you will see that most if not all Fascist leaders claimed to be religious (Hitler, Mussolini. Franco) indeed many claimed thy were about god work, and in Franco’s case the Catholic Church viewed him as a protector of the faith from the communist threat.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    I think it would be more in terms of the type of society and how it can function to better itself. Christian morals and honesty and caring for others. Compare straight forward practical European society to the middle east and India. The culture there is to avoid responsibility. Appearance is more important than reality and the focus is on the self. A national health service would never be created in India! All these countries would be in the middle ages if it wasn’t for western organised culture that arose in Christian societies.

  • Niall Chapman

    You’re incredibly mistaken, you’re trying to use the “what have the Romans ever done for us” argument but in the interests of Christianity. Altruistic and communal societies existed all over the world before Christianity and they will exist long after Christianity is gone. Most Christian countries behaved abhorrently across the world but this was not due to christianity it was due to people being c*nts, which is unavoidable anywhere and in any age

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, by the way not actually “jet”. I drive down when I can, don’t use planes any more than I really need to (Australia is along drive…). Have you noticed just how the high standards of the airlines have been plummiting the last twenty years?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Much deserved “good vibes”, Darren. Please keep up the good work of reminding these people just what they are actually voting for over and above that big “look kittens” distraction “the Union”. Union, perhaps, but entirely on their own terms. When Victoria displeased some of the local “protestant interest” in the 1870s some of them even spoke of “Kicking the Queen’s Crown into the Boyne.”

  • Darren Litter

    Turgon, the extent of your intellectual snobbery is truly astounding.

    Instead of insisting ad nauseam that my writing isn’t of Slugger O’Toole calibre, why not deconstruct what I have to say and move on?

    It is simply your opinion that my writing is poor. Many, both here and on Slugger’s social media have expressed a view to the contrary. It seems to me that you are confusing your own personal contempt for my analysis with poor writing. You have no time for my analysis – fine. But playing the pretentious “this writer is bringing Slugger’s reputation into disrepute” card is redundant and easy.

    Let the collective readership determine who are and aren’t worthy writers. As far as I’m aware, you have never been elected the “Intellectual Guardian” of Slugger O’Toole.

  • Chingford Man

    Along with your spelling.

  • Carl Mark

    CH you rarely offer anything to a debate beyond wild claims and personal attacks.
    forgive us if we take little notice.
    Darren great thread, the abuse that you are receiving shows that a nerve has been touched.

  • mac tire

    Intellectual snobbery by some sounds about right, Darren, as far as I’m concerned.
    If a person feels confident enough to write a post then fair play to them. The post may not be 100% factually correct or may not be up to the standard that some others set – but, hey, it’s a person’s opinion and they wrote it.
    It is in the comments where the argument can stand or fall. Everyone is entitled to an opinion – and for that opinion to be challenged. But this “sufficient quality to merit inclusion” is arrogant and pompous.
    I’m sure Mick and his team want to give as wide a voice as possible (within the site rules) to as many as possible. That’s being inclusive. As I said, their argument will stand or fall, irrespective of ‘sufficient quality’.

  • Darren Litter

    Many thanks, Sean!

  • mac tire

    Careful, Seaan! It seems you have prejudices where CM has ‘opinions’ – on the same subject, no less.

  • Darren Litter

    Thank you, sir.

  • Turgon

    It is not simply my opinion. It is also Pete Baker and Mick Fealty’s it would appear.

    To deconstruct your analysis as you say:

    You reference Mr. Fry’s claims about the Queen’s alleged comments and use that as argument. Second hand hearsay claims from a deeply biased source – Mr. Fry.

    Next you describe Christian fascism but then say it is not actually fascist. In other words the term is a simple insult to mainstream unionist politicians.

    Then you base your whole analysis on one policy: homosexual marriage.

    Finally as has been noted previously you seem to require unionists to support a given issue supported by the Westminster government lest otherwise they not be unionists – that is a non sequitur.

    It is not worth deconstructing it any further so poor is the article. This is not about intellectual snobbery it is about the fact that what you have written is intellectually incoherent nonsense: a point made by a number of people who actually write here. Though of course as Pete says you seem to value the twitter sphere, Facebook and the likes of Mr. Keogh’s opinion much more highly.

    Hopefully for your sake come your final exams at Queens (you seem keen to tell us all that you are a QUB student – and then call me an intellectual snob: the irony is rich) you will either produce better or else the twitter sphere, Facebook and Mr. Keogh will be doing the marking. The former (you writing something better) is one hopes for your sake more realistic.

    Would you really submit this sort of thing as an essay at university: if so dear help you; if not then do not inflict this rubbish on us.

    Incidentally up voting everyone who says anything nice about your piece is slightly pathetic.

  • Turgon

    Chingford Man,

    You must understand your (and all of our) social inferiority to SeaanUiNeill who has had a spectacularly successful career in advertising. He also has friends and family members who have been leading members of the establishment, judiciary, military etc. etc. All of course unchallengable “evidence” for his views.

    As such of course he knows so much better than you about … well everything. All this or else he suffers from what might be called Walter Mitty syndrome by proxy (or by association / relative) which is a variant of trolling.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Why and how have you deduced that I’m an irish nationalist?

  • Carl Mark

    do you remember the Scottish referendum where the no campaign told Ni unionists and the OO to stay away because their presence would only make things harder for the no camp.
    that seems like proof to me, if they think unionists are damaging to the union seems fair to assume they would get rid of the place at the first opportunity.
    Of course micro groups like the BNP and UKIP like the whole flag-waving, little Englander thing that unionists/loyalists do so well, but as I say they have little influence .

  • Englishman Abroad

    Well I am an Englishman and have spent most of my life in England. And from my experience the average a Brit thinks about Northern Ireland not at all. It is beyond the consciousness of most people of my acquaintance. And when they are obliged to think about it they think: to hell with all of them.
    A pity really. It’s a lovely place.

  • Carl Mark

    “thou shalt not bear false witness”
    Unless you have any actual facts to back up that little bit of vitriol, then I believe you just broke the above rule!

  • submariner

    Man playing methinks.

  • Turgon

    No pointing out that appealing to assorted supposed sources of evidence / authority which are unchallengable / uncheckable is not a valid form of evidence: rather it is really simply trolling.

    SeaanUiNeill has a recurrent tendency to use this sort of “evidence” to provide support for his claims: he suggests his own career or his relatives as this sort of “evidence”. As I said above it is not valid evidence and pointing this out is not man playing.

  • Darren Litter

    You are worryingly invested in the truth of your own opinion, Turgon. I’m sorry, but Pete Baker and Mick Fealty agreeing with your opinion doesn’t elevate it to the status of absolute fact. It merely means that your opinion is shared by others – as is my own (see the readership response both here and on social media for evidence of this). Chris Donnelly and Ian Parsley – two well-regarded political commentators – both clearly felt my article was interesting enough to share it on their personal Twitter. Has that led me to get on some intellectual high-horse and sneer at any view that is contrary to what I have written? No. I am conscious that my article is merely MY analysis – and fallible – irrespective of who potentially feels there is merit to it.

    You are still fixated on my inclusion of a quote by Stephen Fry. Once again, the evident personal animosity you feel toward Stephen Fry is your own prerogative. If you are sceptical of the credibility of his claim – fine. But the core point of the article, which you are continually overlooking, is that there is a glaring juxtaposition between British and DUP/the majority of Stormont Unionism attitudes toward landmark legislation pertaining to British social change.

    Yes, Christofascism and fascism are not the same thing. Not sure why that needs explaining?

    The other areas where the DUP have placed the social prevalence of fundamentalist Christianity over wider British trends has been documented and discussed ad nauseam (Korhomme has kindly listed them again for those that are conveniently forgetting). I wanted to talk about the most pertinent instance of this; same-sex marriage.

    No, I have never suggested that Irish Unionism should readily accept every move made by Westminster. What I am highlighting is that in regard to landmark legislation that challenges Irish Unionism’s sense of religion, the latter opts for personal faith over extending widespread British change to Northern Ireland. The (apparent) ultimate allegiance of Paisley Unionism is how it feels God would feel; based on its readings of the Christian Bible.

    Robin Keogh is a writer here. As is Korhomme. As is Chris Donnelly – who as I said RT’ed the Slugger tweet featuring my piece. So as you can see, the Slugger jury is not out.

    But more importantly, let us not allow some sort of self-appointed Slugger hierarchy (Mick and the other editors aside) to determine what is and isn’t a worthy piece. Is the aim of Slugger to have a mutually agreeable think-tank, or an engaged, multifaceted readership? I say let the Slugger faithful decide who is and isn’t intellectually qualified to contribute.

    I stated my alma mater in my “about” (you know, where you give key details of your life). Do explain how that constitutes me being “keen” to declare myself as a QUB student. The only people to bring that up in this thread are you and Pete.

    What I have written is an opinion piece and not a University assignment.

    So be to clear: not only are you the Intellectual Guardian of Slugger O’Toole, you are also my Head of School. Interesting.

    How many times have you thrown the word “pathetic” around now, Turgon? I upvote and respond to positive feedback on my article because I am thankful for it. What’s wrong with that? I also welcome and take note of constructive criticism – which out of a sense of intellectual snobbery you and others are unwilling to fully offer.

  • Chingford Man

    Good to see you here, albeit a little late. I was wondering how we would manage without your wise counsel.

    Darren isn’t taking abuse; he is seeing his flimsy article shot to pieces.

  • Turgon

    I mentioned Mr. Fry because his view is the centre piece of your article.

    You persist in using the term Christofascist and claim it is different to fascist.

    You persist in describing something called “Irish unionism”. That is about 100 years out of date. It does, however, display your own prejudices.

    I do not feel the need to reference any qualifications or education on my page: unlike you.

    Even you now admit now that your piece would not be worthy of academic discussion yet you publish it here.

    Mr. Keogh is indeed a writer here (actually I suggested to Mick he be invited) but his level of support for a subject is directly proportional to its attack on unionism: not especially convincing evidence of quality.

    You have had constructive criticism but have rejected it.

    To try again: do not reference third hand hearsay evidence.

    Do not base an argument on a concept (Christofacism) you are the arbiter of and which you claim is not related to its most salient component part – fascism.

    Do not base an argument about a major political movement in Northern Ireland on one minoritarian social policy issue.

    I doubt you understand the difference between those Christians who advocate the position that Biblical Law is largely for the church and those who regard it as much more generalisable. I tend to the former position as is classically Brethren but also many mainstream Presbyterians / CoI / Methodists and indeed many in some of the smaller denominations.

    Yes your article is pretty pathetic and your continued support of it is weak. I do not oppose you blogging here, rather I welcome it, but I would suggest you try a bit harder and not simply try to find things you do not like and attack them. A good way to start is to begin by blogging about political or social positions you support or at least are neutral on and defend / analyse them rather than attack those you oppose. Being intellectually coherent in attacking something you oppose is much more difficult than justifying something you support. People have noted that my best work is about unionism and my weakest about republicanism and that is probably fair.

    There: that is an attempt to be constructive. If you want anything more I would be happy to help either in public or private: the email account is real. Keep going but try to write about things you support at least at first.

  • mickfealty

    Boys,

    Can we stick to arguments here. I think we get where you are both coming from. As Mac Tire has said, I want a broad range of views both above and below the fold.

    And life and living here should be difficult otherwise we’re probably not doing our job. Give both Turgon and Darren have blogging rights, I’d prefer it if you guys could let it go for now, and give others a chance.

    It’s turning to a bit of a Gladiator’s Challenge, and no doubt no small amount of entertainment for others.

    If could suggest a little homework, Francis Bacon’s Idols of the Cave is a good place to start: http://www.sirbacon.org/links/4idols.htm. I would also recommend purusing any good list of cognitive biases too.

    When you blog, you have the privelege of having the first word. Though I’m as argumentative as any man or woman here. But it’s always good diplomacy to the readers have the last word…

    (Oh, and no one, however forcefully they look for it, can reasonably expect you to answer every individual question they ask you.)

    So for now, horns in lads…

  • james

    When Robin Keogh comes to your defence, you know your argument is lost.

    Oh my….I think we have a new version of Godwin’s law here! Excellent. I’m calling this the Chingford Rule 😉

  • james

    I could claim to look like Brad Pitt, but that don’t make it so.

  • murdockp

    the paying for sex laws are bonkers when on considers that people trafficking is more profound in the restaurant trade.

    technically a northern irish man can be jailed if he buys his wife jewelery and she subsequently consents to sex. a messy divorce is going to drag this scenario in front of the courts.

  • murdockp

    just to stoke the irony fire a bit more, if catholic faith is practised correctly it has more in common with evangelical protestants than most liberal catholics

  • murdockp

    unionists are in perfect tandem with British political thought……so unionists are secretly pining for a united Ireland. …that is a suprise…

  • murdockp

    a minor role…….the Americas north and south and the caribe an and Australia all bear the scars. that is a third of the earth’s land mass. hardly a minor role.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I keep running into this with people who disagree with me, mac tire. I suppose that after Freud’s discovery of the unconscious and unconscious motivation none of us can ever again claim that shining grail of total objectivity, as that noted Derry historian and biographer of Parnell F.S.L. Lyons told us. So I suppose I do have prejudices, like everyone else, but I cannot see how simply quoting the what I’m being told by people who could be considered to be serious opinion formers in England displays prejudice.

    But perhaps he’s simply referring to my aversion to flying in anything I’m not piloting myself!

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: I have very well meaning English friends constantly asking me “How can you live in that terrible and benighted place?”
    And what is your answer?

  • Reader

    Surely you can see for yourself that SeaanUiNeill’s evidence on this topic is unverifiable? And if you didn’t like what he was saying you would call it anecdotal.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, CM, about that spelling thing, I remember my uncle telling me that Winston Churchill could not spell, as an attempt to make my semi-Elizabethan attempts at spelling somewhat more palitable for me. But as my grandmother was one of the Unionist women who attempted to turn over Churchill’s car in February 1912……………..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Turgon, my comments were offered as anecdotal evidence to answer similar anecdotal evidence offered by Chingford Man. Such comments were made by both of us, I imagine, “in good faith”. Nothing I’m saying here is in any way unverifiable in its essence, as any reasonable person actually acquainted with politicians and the media in London would readily note. I should also feel that CMs comments could find verification should anyone speak with those polite British people he seems to know.

    Should you disagree with what I’m saying, please, as you tell others to do, argue with the actual points I’m making rather than sinking to the use of inuendo to dismiss what are actually serious isssues without even attempting to answer them. The fact that most Unionism has entirely discredited itself in front of “real people” over the water is something that anyone who really cares for the Union must confront honestly. It will not vanish simply because you choose not to engage with it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Turgon, as Carl says here, you are not in a position to catagorically state that what I’m saying is in any way untruthful. Accordingly, the emphasis you are putting on this is unquestionably man playing.

    Even if my evidence, offered entirely in “good faith”, may be weak (admittedly, in terms of the verification of the anecdotes), your response is entirely without any evidence beyond your own entirely unsupported opinion. What I’m stating is simply the common expereince of anyone meeting with the politicians of any of the three significant Westminster parties, most of the media, and can be easily encountered by anyone interested enough to sample the opinions of professional classes in the south of England. Do you have any proof that this is not so? I’m simply giving this my characteristicly personalised flavor in my comments, but it is easily open to proof by anyone who cares to try!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d call it anecdotal myself, but offered “in Good faith.” Unverifiable as anecdote, Reader, but the general gist of it can be very easily verified by anyone who actually takes the trouble to speak with anyone holding any responsibility in politics, the media or the professions over England, anyone who even thinks about us that is.

    I offer such material entirely “in good faith” in that it is my experience, but considering too that it can easily be verified as a common experience by anyone taking the trouble to look into the matter seriously. And, I should note, it was offered in response to Chingford Man’s own anecdotal point. I should also note that Englishman Abroad [above] appears to back me up rather.

    The manner in which most Unionism in general and the absurdities of the DUP in particular have acted alongside SF’s inability to be otherwise than “economical with the truth” to entirely discredit our local political culture in front of “real people” over the water is something that anyone who really cares for the Union must confront honestly. Simply blind eyeing it with wishful thinking is a very dangerous response.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    One side of my family, Reader, has been here since the early years of the plantation, another from even further back. When my grandson visits I can show him ruins in Fermanagh built by our ancestors. The “terrible and benighted place” is in my blood, and I actually care about what a happens here, and see much to actually commend across the entire community (most politicians excepted).

    A few begin to understand, some think me hopelessly romantic, most wonder why I do not just go somewhere warm and dry enough to not rot my library…………..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    That’s my experience of my English friends, EA, simply tired of the eccentric behaviour of our politicians of almost every hue.

  • kensei

    The title is clickbait, but the article itself has a wider discussion of how Unionists are out of sync with wider British values and there is definitely something to a section of Unionism being more concerned with religious values.

    Plenty to be getting on with.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Turgon, I’m totally at a loss to see how you are using the term “trolling” in respect of my contributions here. It appears to me to be simply an argumentum ad hominem, considering what I’m doing in being anecdotal or personal in my comments is also done by almost every other contributer to Slugger including yourself. I’d value a full unpacking of what you are actually referring to, something that would stand up to serious public scrutiny, or perhaps a fulsome apology.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Playing the man, Ching and James. Not debate, personal abuse.

  • npbinni

    The term ‘Islamofascist’ I can understand, but to use the term Christofascist for those who hold to a traditional biblical view of marriage is very insulting and deliberately offensive. If the DUP was participating in the beheading or murder of homosexuals or inciting violence against them, the author might have a point, but to equate sincerely held Christian views with the extremes of Hitler and Mussolini is grotesque.

  • Mike the First

    Darren, you’ve carefully selected which posts to reply to below – any prospect of you answering my questions regarding exactly what your argument is in relation to Royal Assent?

  • Kev Hughes

    Hi Darren,

    I have not had the pleasure of reading the comments here yet so apologies if I’m repeating what’s been mentioned by others.

    I have to fundamentally disagree with a number of your key assumptions on unionism in the North. The thrust of your argument is that mainstream political unionism cannot claim to be unionist as they disagree with public and most political opinion on what they’d refer to as ‘the mainland’, which is a bit of a specious argument. It relies on believing that public opinion on ‘the mainland’ is homogenous, it ignores devolution and it’s point (ie, to allow decisions to be made at a more local level) and it makes the fundamental error of allowing you to reverse engineer your own opinion on to what unionism should be, not what it is.

    As an FYI, I’m an Irish nationalist and even I found your arguments and jumps in logic amazing folly.

    Whether the queen thought signing marriage equality (which I’m for) into law is neither here nor there nor should it affect public opinion elsewhere on the matter. It doesn’t make northern unionism any less loyal for disagreeing with her, after all, their forefathers did disagree with other monarchs before, though I can understand why you’d use that argument seeing the kind of personal cult worship some unionists have for the queen.

    Then your points on Paisley:

    ‘but he was not overtly politically British in the manner you would expect of a credible unionist’

    Well, do tell us, what would a credible unionist do? Exactly what someone in London says? If so, that sounds more like you’re advocating unionist political reps merely ape their London equivalents and dispense with political discourse, but as you haven’t defined what a ‘credible unionist’ is, we can only speculate.

    For the record, this line of argument I the North, used to basically beat one tribe with the stick of ‘you’re not a real unionist/republican/whatever when we compare you with the nation you identify with’ is bollocks. It’s a disservice to the nation in question as it assumes public opinion there is homogenous, it assumes that politicians here and those who vote them in merely wish to ape what is happening in the other areas of the nations they identify with and it ignores the fact that local decisions are made here (sometimes, though not often enough) owing to local circumstances.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ben, there was quite a bit of Marxist Analysis of working class Unionism carried out within the local Communist party and amongst those Republicans recently converted to Marx during the 1960s and 1970s, much of it rather unhelpfully “ideological”, but the discovery of Gramsci and of the early work of Marx himself on alienation by a few Neo-Marxists threw up some very apposite ideas pregnant with possible development.

    Indeed such an analysis carried out by someone more familiar with Marx than myself might offer many insightful leads! I find Gramsci’s engagement with Croce and his rejection of pure Materialism particularly helpful in the primacy (and consequent empowerment) it gives to human agency. I’d feel that ironically it is in there objectivism and the displacement of agency to a higher authority (“God” or “Determinist Materialism”) that many evangelicals come closest to Marx in facilitating their own self-disempowerment.

  • Kev Hughes

    Hi, my earlier comment remains as ‘pending’, any particular reason why?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Mick has been endlessly clear about his desire to encourage a broad range of opinion on the site. As he says below:

    “As Mac Tire has said, I want a broad range of views both above and below the fold.”

    I’d never read his rebukes or his upvoting on any posted comment as a pointer to a policy of exclusion, something he can simply effect in a moment if he believes that any comment compromises the integrity of the site. If I’m wrong in this reading of him, perhaps Mick would correct me. But certainly I’d never imagine that he would be comfortable for his views to be used to authorise the exclusion of any genuine opinion.

    Darren is raising the very important issues of how our politicians parochial fixations are viewed by “real people” over the water and, most importantly, just how far serious collective divergence from a broad culture discredits claims on common identity. Exactly why, if people’s values are so very different to those of the general consensus of the UK currently, should they wish to have anything to do with any community subscribing to views they may consider abhorrent or even sinful? This is not in any way a demand for anyone to conform to the unacceptable views of others, simply a confusion about what the Union actually means to many Unionists who from their pronouncements must find modern Britishness as grossly offensive as Irishness. These are the things that really need to be honestly addressed and simply telling the person raising these troubling issues to get out of your face “in the name of Mick” simply avoids facing the glaring contradiction he has spotlighted.

  • Darren Litter

    Kev, thank you for your thorough and well-thought-out response. I have no idea why your comment had to pend as it did. Perhaps comments are now being approved so as to limit the further growth of quite a large and at times heated debate!

    When you do digest all of the comments, you may find that I have indeed addressed some of the issues you raise with my piece.

    As I’ve said quite a few times already, no, the core point of the article is not that Unionism should “enthusiastically rubberstamp every move made by the infinitely wiser Westminster” – or something to that effect. The point
    rather, is that Stormont Unionism is often more akin to Christofascism (i.e.
    approaching landmark social legislation through the lens of fundamentalist
    Christianity) than Unionism when it comes to extending what is frankly major British change to “British Northern Ireland”. The DUP’s (apparent)
    ultimate loyalty is to the God its decision-makers have in common; rather than the British framework it so colourfully pledges its allegiance to. Thus I have suggested that DUP (and significant elements of the UUP) are in effect more (as evidenced by the knee-jerk reactions of some, more clearly needs emphasized) Christofascistic than Unionist – as Britain is ultimately subservient to Stormont Unionism’s sense of Protestantism on political matters that could affect the social prevalence of the latter.

    I did not say that the Queen giving Royal Assent to same-sex marriage was of broad significance or that she carries a general political authority which should affect popular opinion. I simply highlighted the juxtaposition between a right-wing government and monarch performing their individual roles in legalizing same-sex marriage; while in Northern Ireland, a political force that speaks passionately of its regard for the same British establishment emphatically said no to such change. Look: a Conservative government (very significant in this context) oversaw the legalization of same-sex marriage in England and Wales, the Queen provided Royal Assent, and 6 months later the Scottish parliament also voted overwhelmingly in favour of their own legislation on the matter. Yet in Northern Ireland, despite sweeping British change on the issue, Stormont Unionism couldn’t have been more emphatic about the fact that it did not support such social change being extended to Northern Ireland – which is doubly questionable given the findings of this recent poll: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/poll-finds-overwhelming-support-for-gay-marriage-in-northern-ireland-despite-political-opposition-10370521.html. The notion I have proposed therefore is that the Paisley era of political Unionism – note: this is not an analysis of NI Unionism as a whole – is not truly Unionist because as the UK’s commitment to doctrinal Christianity wanes to an almost negligible level, the DUP unravels instead as the “according to the Bible” Party.

  • Darren Litter

    “The term ‘Islamofascist’ I can understand, but to use the term Christofascist for those who hold to a traditional biblical view of marriage is very insulting and deliberately offensive.”

    But you see, I did not use the term Christofascist to describe those that “hold a traditional, Biblical view of marriage”. If somebody wants to marry a woman because they feel that is what the Bible says – fine. If an LGBT person does not want to get married to their partner because they agree with that view – fine. If somebody wants to point out to two people in a gay marriage that they are in violation of their sense of Christianity – then they are free to do so.

    I use the term Christofascist in the context of Stormont Unionism using its political power to reject a legal change that appears to be well-supported in Northern Ireland, and is already in effect in the rest of Britain; despite political Unionism holding Britain up as the only desirable framework.

    Also, you equate religious fascism exclusively with violence – which is erroneous.

  • Kev Hughes

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for your reply and apologies for the delay with mine.

    “the point rather, is that Stormont Unionism is often more akin to Christofascism (i.e.
    approaching landmark social legislation through the lens of fundamentalist
    Christianity) than Unionism when it comes to extending what is frankly major British change to “British Northern Ireland”.”

    You see, I disagree with this, as you have not actually defined what Unionism is. For me, plain and simple, it is a desire for your constituent part of the “Union” to be ruled or joined with England, Scotland and Wales, the part about being Christofascist or Protestant Nationalist is neither here nor there as an Irish Nationalist from North Armagh; it’s merely the norm. And whether you like it or not, devolution means that constituent parts of any part of the UK may decide to sit out certain decisions, including (sadly) marriage equality legislation. Does this make them any less Unionist? For me, no; it merely makes them somewhat narrow minded.

    “The DUP’s (apparent)ultimate loyalty is to the God its decision-makers have in common; rather than the British framework it so colourfully pledges its allegiance to.”

    But we all know that. They are self-interested, pure and simple, and this is nothing I wouldn’t expect. You are going down the tough road of asking these guys ‘if you have the choice between a UI and going on your own, what do you choose?” Also, what is the ‘British framework’ that you’re noting there?

    ‘I simply highlighted the juxtaposition between a right-wing government and monarch performing their individual roles in legalizing same-sex marriage; while in Northern Ireland, a political force that speaks passionately of its regard for the same British establishment emphatically said no to such change.’

    That’s all very true. I have noted the near personality cult some in Unionism have for Liz Windsor, but I also note that this would not preclude them from disagreeing with her and the government of the time which is right wing. Again, their forefathers have disagreed with monarchs they loved before.

    ‘The notion I have proposed therefore is that the Paisley era of political Unionism – note: this is not an analysis of NI Unionism as a whole – is not truly Unionist because as the UK’s commitment to doctrinal Christianity wanes to an almost negligible level, the DUP unravels instead as the “according to the Bible” Party.’

    You see, the great failing I see in your analysis is that you have not defined what ‘Unionism’ actually is. You appear to me to be saying the differences Unionism has with its ‘Mainland’ equivalent, which is all well and good, however, if you do not put up an actual definition of what Unionism actually IS then there continues to be something of a flaw in your argument. In essence, you’ve pointed out it’s a Protestant Nationalist party which I don’t disagree with, however, you have to tell us why this is not also to be considered as Unionist.