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Old February 28th, 2012, 12:43 PM   #21

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Very glad to see you formulate your thoughts on this subject a chara, it cannot be denied that you show a writing skill beyond all other members of the forum. I've seen one or two of the paragraphs before, and we've discussed this matter many a time. Indeed, I need hardly say anything on this issue - my chosen title makes it all too clear. The idealism of Fenianism in general before Michael Collins got his hands on the movement leads me to believe there would never have been victory otherwise. Prior to MC, the idea was always in the mould of Pearse - To die for the cause. If we win, well and good, if we lose even better. Those unfamiliar with Irish history might think this is poetic exaggeration - it is not. Pearse wanted to die as a sacrificial lamb of the Irish Republic. That he got his wish will surprise nobody. Indeed the old IRA was beset with Extremism, which is why the Army split as badly as it did in '22. Without someone who actually saw wining as an ultimate goal, Fenianism has returned to its aimless ways, to its detriment.

My thoughts on the subject occupy thousands of words elsewhere. I'll leave at this : Without Fenianism, "Ireland", that is an Irish Ireland, would not exist. And Ireland may still need Fenianism to complete the national revolution.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 12:53 PM   #22

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Gile there are no blacks and white here, only shades of grey.
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Old March 10th, 2012, 10:00 AM   #23

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The Penal Laws in Ireland were self-evidently outrageous measures (in a comparative European sense and specifically) foisted upon a thoroughly subjugated and defeated people and were adopted to buttress the power of a mainly imported and culturally alien oligarchy (the influential Old English preferring to retain their Catholicism and thus also excluded from power and patronage); which consisted of post-Tudor Cromwellian mercenaries, zealous Protestant reformers and land speculators of every ilk who cared not a farthing for the indigenous culture and who proceeded to turn the screw on the native majority in such impressive fashion during the 18th century that after the Napoleonic era, and in between the potato harvest, famine-like conditions were the regular lot of up to 2 million Irish smallholders, cottiers and landless labourers - a situation which pertained uncorrected and unameliorated right up until the (retrospectively, we can now say, man-made) catastrophe of Black 47, despite let it be said, countless government reports and inquiries which forewarned of the vulnerabilities (Devon Commission etc).

The re-emergence, dominance and eventual success of the physical force tradition (ie Fenianism in the form of the Irish Republican Brotherhood) in the midst of the third and highly predicted scuttling of the Home Rule Bill (chased bewilderingly to the exclusion of all else by the virtually innocuous post-Parnellian Redmondites) and culminating in the sacrifices of the Easter Rising - is just about the only historical development that could've saved the majority of latter-day Irishmen from the corrosive, identity denuding self-analysis that dwelling on the ignominy of their shared subjugated past would inevitably entail, a nation of drones and sheep robbed of collective pride otherwise - and few Irishmen to boot with any shred of dignity could fail to be swept up in the tide of nationalist feeling which this fateful event spawned; which is why particularly, present day squawkers, begrudgers and decontextualisers as in sundry Indo and academic revisionists make me wish to reach for the nearest available bucket and hurl my day's ingestion therein.

The north only became the statelet it has become because it's boundaries were circumscribed thus so as to admit a majority loyalist consent to stay within the Union. Were the entire country canvassed, which should have been the natural and logical expedient we would today have an undivided Ireland. In fact, I often think Unionist bluster should have been met at the time with a two-pronged war - one against the presiding British authority, the other against Carson's loyalists; but alas we can only inhabit the land history has bequeathed us and if any section of this country has been royally screwed by that history it is the Northern Catholics who suffered almost fifty years of second class citizenship and virtual apartheid within their own country until some of them took up the gun and defended violence with violence - hence today's power-sharing executive, presided over in majority on the nationalist side not by the accommodation-seeking SDLP of John Hume but by the political branch of the Provisionals; today's physical force tradition.

It is an unfortunate fact that the most concrete progress achieved towards independent nationhood happened to occur under the behest of the men of violence. That's simply what has happened historically - even the last act of Catholic Emancipation getting O' Connell into Westminster in 1832 was done under the threat of a mass revolt which Peel and Wellington did wise to counsel. After 1798 the stomach for armed rebellion was sorely lacking and there's every reason to expect that O'Connell was not alone in his generation as never wishing to see the brutality of that era repeated which is why the more radical elements within the Repeal movement on the eve of the famine were the younger generation of Smith O' Brien and Mitchell - they had the fire in their belly for the enterprise that needed to be carried out but the O'Connellite pacifism which was fully endorsed (as always) by the Church deprived the movement of the necessary populist support. Meanwhile, what did Repeal ever achieve after the reorientation of O' Connell's politics in the 1830's? Absolutely nothing.

The advances of the Land League during the Parnell era relied on aggressive agrarian secret societies which threatened landlords into compliance and these were the greatest gains on the nationalist front right up until the Easter Rising - where it took nothing short of a blood sacrifice to mobilise the consciousness of the majority. Most of the nationalist leaders during the 19th century were Protestant (Parnell, Davis, Mitchell etc.) and their priority was for concrete political gains with Irish language preservation always a seemingly remote concern until the Gaelic League and the cultural revival - again spearheaded by Protestants.

The Phoenix Society which grew out of the famine and which eventually became the backbone of the IRB is the true lineage for the physical force tradition and O' Donovan Rossa and others connected to it were native Irish speakers - it's no coincidence I think that it was this strand in Irish nationalism (and which Pearse consciously tapped into) which eventually predominated when the necessary conditions were in place - not the pacifist parliamentary strand supported by the sympathetic sections by the Protestant gentry.

It is often argued that Irish people going to the polls in 1918 hadn’t yet seen the methods that would later be employed by the Irish Republican Army (formerly the Irish Volunteers) to gain independence and that had they known beforehand they would have voted alternatively for the pacifist methods of the Irish Parliamentary Party led by John Redmond. However, I think people knew exactly what they were voting for. They wanted a party who would deliver independence; by peaceful means if possible and by violence if necessary. Sinn Fein's electoral campaign for 1918 had a clearly defined four point programme;

(1) withdrawal from Westminster
(2) establishment of a constituent assembly that would have 'supreme national authority'
(3) an appeal to the (Paris) Peace Conference 'for the establishment of Ireland as an independent nation'

and

(4) 'making use of any and every means available to render impotent the power of England to hold Ireland in subjection by military force or otherwise'

It's pretty hard not to interpret this as a mandate to prosecute a war if necessary and I don't think that anything like the eventually secured dominion status (Free State) could have been achieved in any way other than through the tactics adopted. DeValera for instance was completely divorced from this reality while in America and many of the other Sinn Fein notables clearly kept their head down and their mouth shut when it came to them. It was a nasty business, no mistake about it, and some were so good at it you may ask whether some disposition in their nature was being satisfied by the exigencies of the times. My grandfather's brother was, by my own father's account, 'a vicious bastard' who had to be pulled screaming and roaring from the Four Courts after Collins had it pulverised. Before the Anglo-Irish Treaty, his gang, in order to spare their bullets, used to take out RIC, Tans, Auxies (and anyone else who happened to get in their way I suppose) by cracking their heads between door posts and railings. Clearly, some of this stuff wasn't for the faint-hearted and most people I'd imagine would sooner elect to keep their heads under the blankets and just wish it would all go away.

Then again, you had others who were for the most part not naturally disposed to violence - I would count Ernie O' Malley and Tom Barry in this bracket - who held fast to certain principles of engagement and had their own (generally, very clearly evolved) ideas of the purpose and tactics of guerrilla war. This is where Collins role is all the more remarkable being at the epicentre not just of the myriad forms by which the violence manifested itself (and the various types of characters that were under his command) but to manage to keep himself sufficiently human and not lose contact with the opportunity for disengagement when it presented itself.

But the violence wasn't the whole of the story - the local government reforms and the acceptance of the Dail courts, the successful raising of loans, all indicated an increasingly permanent feel to the new regime. What was offered as Home Rule was a desultory terminus to over eighty years of campaigning with control of finance and foreign affairs ceded to Westminster and this prospect couldn't sustain itself in comparison to the Republic of the Proclamation. I see the Irish nationalist body politic at this period as a type of biological organelle with different functions allotted each of the players - everyone appeared to have something to do and to be able to contribute in some fashion - Cumann na Mban and the ex - Gaelic Leaguers despite their proscription (or maybe even because of it) were invited into the drama and these pre-existing networks were used as “sure” channels to bypass the Castle spy network.

By the time the Dail was outlawed no man had a right to remain in the Royal Irish Constabulary and expect himself not to be fair game; it's common knowledge that given their embeddedness in the community the RIC would be the principle channel through which counter-revolutionary intelligence would be gathered. Knowing this of course many of them resigned in their droves and this explains one dimension at least of the recruitment surge which brought the Tans and Auxillaries. Kevin Myers and other commentators of the revisionist stamp can call them 'sectarian' assassinations of course - as they are ideologically predisposed to view the notion of armed revolt against British rule in Ireland as reprehensible (for whatever reason) and this designation ably undermines the motives of nationalists by imputing a crass religious/tribal divisionalism but the vast majority of murders that took place didn't follow the us/them schematic of Catholic vs. Protestant but the us/them schematic of Crown vs. Republic.

This doesn't make the murders any less grisly or even provide any greater consolation to the families affected but it more accurately conveys the realities of the times and the emotions which propelled people into the Volunteers in the first place. Many people today seem to have a difficulty getting their heads around the fact that many in Ireland back then genuinely believed that an independent Irish Republic (and particularly the one proclaimed in 1916) was not only worth dying for, but was actually worth becoming something even worse in order to achieve it - a “blood thirsty” killer reduced to ambushes and cold-blooded assassinations.

We were a deeply religious people back then and invocations from the pulpit, such as the many calls from the Bishops that continuance of the policy of ambushes would lead to excommunication led to much soul-searching. Tom Barry gave all the men in his brigade the option of giving up the struggle there and then but none of them did. And I don't blame the physical force tradition (the hardliners in the IRB) for what I would certainly view as the necessity of that transformation but rather the general mode of British administration in Ireland which consistently misread all the signs of the nationalist awakening.


The OP question can be formulated as follows;

Was Fenianism, that is to say the physical force approach to resolving Ireland's difficulties, the morally correct political action to take under the circumstances?

Or do we discount morals altogether and simply assert that might (the Empire) or cunning (the resistance) is right as the case may be?
Fenianism=Nazism, plain and simple. Everthing else is the Irish Nationalist delusion.

Redmond, John Hume and co were good and fine men who wished a peaceful separation of Ireland from the rest of the UK, something always ruined by fenians. The RIC/DMP were good and fine men who simply wished to enforce law and order in a free and democratic society. After partition they served in their thousands in the Garda and enforced the law which did not change one iota. The idea that they deserved to die to being 'counter-revolutionary' is simple facism, if you oppose my revolution, do I have the right to kill you? Maybe smash your head in on a fence post in order to save bullets? The Northern Catholics suffered discrimination because of Michael Collins and his ilk, whatever Southern Unionists were left suffered much worse. Lord help you from those dreadful 'revisionists' and their obsession with little details like 'the truth'!?

Feniainism is facism, plain and simple, the idea that you can slaughter your neighbours because they're different

Bares posting in full, how many points does this topic hit in the IND?

Irish Nationalist delusion

1. Despite all the massive evidence to the contrary (Ireland electing the government along with every other part of the British Isles and being treated equally in every concievable way) Ireland is an oppressed English colony which can only be liberated by force of arms. To question this assumption in any way whatsoever is an unforgiveable act of heresy and a betrayal of the Irish Nationalist identity. Southern Ireland is independent of the rest of the British Isles because the Easter Risers/IRA slaughtered thousands of Irish Unionists not because the Irish Parliamentary Party persuaded Parliament to pass the Home Rule Bill which would have given it to them anyway in the same way as Canada, Australia and New Zealand without a drop of blood being spilt. Northern Ireland is independent of the rest of Ireland because of Ulster Unionist bigotry not because they didn't wish to be governed by people who denied their right to exist and had murdered their famillies.

2. There is no such thing as Britain, there is only England, references must always be made to the English Government, English army etc despite the fact that neither exist. To show any dissention to this assertion is to betray Ireland to England. It is perfectly permissable for Irish Republicans to ally themselves with anyone from Hitler to Colonel Gadaffi in pursuit of 'The Cause'.

3. You cannot be Irish and British, they are two entirely different concepts and mutually incompatible. Irish Unionists therefore have no right to exist and must therefore either be intimidated into giving up their identity or exterminated entirely. They are not just ordinary Irish people whose 'crime' is simply to be different and not conform to the IND but a living, breathing attack on the very concept of the Irish Nationalist utopia. Killing them is therefore not a cowardly act of murder and genocide against helpless and innocent people who refuse to conform to an extremist ideology but a valiant blow against the might of 'British Imperialism' All Irish Unionists are directly descended only from those who came to Ireland in the Plantation and Norman Conquest whilst no Irish Nationalists are, the racial purity of the 'true' Irish people having been miraculously preserved over thousands of years.

4. To be truly Irish you must be Catholic, Gaelic, Republican (at least after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie removes any possibility of the restoration of a Catholic monarch) and evoke constant hatred of Britain and everything it stands for. The ideal for Ireland is for it to be a wholly Catholic, Gaelic-speaking Republic with no ethnic minorities such as Unionists, Protestants etc and no link to the rest of the United Kingdom

5. 'Freedom' is of paramount importance. However freedom is defined only as Ireland 'free' of 'the British', real freedom of conscience, speech, human rights etc are meaningless and anyone who opposes the Irish Nationalist utopian view should be denied them utterly.

6. 'British justice' is a contradiction in terms and must be abused and derided as 'biased' and a 'whitewash' at all times EXCEPT when it works in favour of Irish Nationalism when it is valid and must enforced to the utmost degree. Whilst the victims of Irish Republicanism deserve no justice the victims of Loyalist revenge attacks and killings by the security forces do deserve justice even if they are mass murderers and that killing them saves countless lives. Concern must always be for Republican murderers and never their victims who are worthless. With Loyalists however, the reverse is true. Republicans are at war until it suits them and common criminals when it doesn't. Loyalists and the security forces are never at war and always common criminals.

7. Democracy is only valid when it works in favour of Irish Nationalism and must be ignored when it detracts from it. It is perfectly permissable to elect people via democratic means who have no belief in democracy but brazenly exploit it in their pursuit of a blatantly undemocratic objective. That Britain’s belief in freedom, justice and democracy hinders its’ fight against Irish Republicanism does not mean Irish Republicanism is wrong but that Britain is weak and foolish.

8. To oppose Irish Republicanism in any way and aid the security forces in catching mass murderers and prevent further murders is to be an 'informer' and punishable by death. Irish Unionists must show total and utter devotion to the Republican cause even though it denies their right to exist and murders their friends and family. However, to provide information or evidence that allows Loyalists or members of the security forces to be prosecuted by the British justice system is entirely laudible. That this is hypocrisy is not denied but anything is justified in the course of 'The Cause'.

9. Members of the security forces are not human and must show a supernatural degree of restraint and professionalism at all times. They should not care about themselves or their friends being killed or horrifically injured but show the utmost concern for people who profess nothing but hatred for them and even do their utmost to murder them. Fault must always be found with whatever the security forces do and they must always be criticized for not protecting Irish Nationalists from the Loyalists even if they cannot protect themselves from Republicans. They have no right to fight back when attacked and should just allow themselves to be murdered/injured without resistance. By contrast whatever the security forces of Southern Ireland do is forgiveable even if it is infinitely more ruthless than their British counterparts.

10. Irish Nationalism must always consider itself the victim and either deny the facts or simply not care about them. It does not matter that something is not true as long as they wish to believe that it happened in order to reinforce their prejudice. Therefore in both fictional and factual accounts of 'The Struggle' events unsympathetic to IND viewpoint can not only be disregarded or omitted but invented entirely in order to cast Britain in a bad light. However, were the reverse to happen with the Loyalists or security forces this would be treated with outrage. That there is one rule for Irish Nationalism and a different rule for Irish Unionism is not denied but hypocrisy is fully justified in pursuit of 'The Cause'.

11. Irish Republicanism is fully allowed to launch surprise and unprovoked attacks on Irish Unionism but these will be retroactively fully justified when their victims eventually retaliate even if they are infinitely more merciful and restrained and those they bring vengence upon are clearly guilty of heinous crimes. Loyalists do not actually exist but are instruments of British Colonialism/Imperialism rather than just seeking revenge for what Republicans have done to Unionists.

12. Despite the Irish Nationalist assertion of hatred for Britain they should never hesitate to move to Britain in order to gain financial advantage. This should not change their mind about hating Britain and they should have no sense of gratitude whatsoever. Any dislike towards them because of their attitude and deeds should will always be blamed on inherent prejudice towards them rather than the inevitable result of their own bigotry. All Ireland's problems can be blamed on the Union and the fact that poverty and emigration increased markedly after partition is something that should be ignored as an inconvenient truth.
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Old March 10th, 2012, 10:06 AM   #24

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Oh dear, the Irish Nationalist Delusion is back. I see straw men everywhere ...

Quote:
Fenianism=Nazism, plain and simple.
More unsubstantiated rubbish from Ormonde, should we be surprised?
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Old March 10th, 2012, 11:32 AM   #25

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirOrmondeWinter View Post
Fenianism=Nazism, plain and simple.
What a stupid statement!
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Originally Posted by SirOrmondeWinter View Post
the idea that you can slaughter your neighbours because they're different
That is what Britain did in Ireland for centuries.
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Originally Posted by SirOrmondeWinter View Post
Democracy is only valid when it works in favour of Irish Nationalism and must be ignored when it detracts from it.

When was there democracy in Britain? Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of national self-determination in 1918 and Imperialist Britain ignored their democratic wishes because it detracted from its imperialist policy.
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To be truly Irish you must be Catholic, Gaelic, Republican

Rubbish, man! Get a grip! Republicanism is all inclusive and non-sectarian. It recognises that all men are born equal and possessing natural inalienable rights. On the other hand, over the past 30 years the world has clearly seen the divisive and disgustingly sectarian nature of Unionism/Loyalism.

Your so-called 'Irish Nationalist Delusion' is a product of your own wishful thinking. Do you imagine that Ireland, a small country at Britain's doorstep, achieved independence against the might of the British empire from a position of nationalist delusion?
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Old March 10th, 2012, 11:44 AM   #26

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Originally Posted by Garry_Owen View Post
.............................

Rubbish, man! Get a grip! Republicanism is all inclusive and non-sectarian. It recognises that all men are born equal and possessing natural inalienable rights. On the other hand, over the past 30 years the world has clearly seen the divisive and disgustingly sectarian nature of Unionism/Loyalism.


................................
Well perhaps the same can be said for you? sectarianism is only a Protestant/Unionist thing?

Republicanism may ideally be all inclusive and non-sectarian but Irish Republicanism has often fallen well short of that ideal. Even the United Irishman perhaps the origional Irish Republicans and with many protestants in their ranks found that the 'revolution' often slipped into sectarian violence.
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Old March 10th, 2012, 12:00 PM   #27

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Is anyone suggesting that one side were exclusively angels, at any time?
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Old March 10th, 2012, 12:06 PM   #28

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Is anyone suggesting that one side were exclusively angels, at any time?
One poster said that sectarianism was a unionist thing (which many were) I would say that many supposed 'Republicans' either lost sight of ,or perhaps never understood, the ideals of Republicanism and were equally sectarian.

Some 'Republicans' may well have believed in a military dictatorship-- hardly a 'republican' attitude.
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Old March 10th, 2012, 12:14 PM   #29

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Quote:
One poster said that sectarianism was a unionist thing (which many were) I would say that many supposed 'Republicans' either lost sight of ,or perhaps never understood, the ideals of Republicanism and were equally sectarian.

Some 'Republicans' may well have believed in a military dictatorship-- hardly a 'republican' attitude.
Or Monarchy, or other forms of government, true enough. But then again, Irish Republicanism is a mix of Irish Republicanism (obviously) and Irish Nationalism, and at certain times one or other group has been stronger. The break up of the IRB was brought through because it was almost exclusively Nationalist, rather than Republican. Michael Collins himself was a Nationalist, not a Republican. Republicanism had its peak with Wolfe Tone and Napper Tandy, but it has had a controlling stake in Irish Nationalist movements (Sinn Féin, IRA, dissident groups) for some time. In to that mix you have members of both groups interested in varying degrees of Fenianism (i.e. the use of arms) and the extent to which Cultural Nationalism should be an arm of the movement. It's all quite detailed, and certainly the vulgar dismissals of the movements as Nazis or deluded do not bear even the slightest relation to the fact of the matter.
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Old March 10th, 2012, 01:31 PM   #30

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Originally Posted by Kevinmeath View Post
One poster said that sectarianism was a unionist thing (which many were) I would say that many supposed 'Republicans' either lost sight of ,or perhaps never understood, the ideals of Republicanism and were equally sectarian.

Some 'Republicans' may well have believed in a military dictatorship-- hardly a 'republican' attitude.
I believe that was what Tim Pat Coogen said of Michael Collins?
That he wanted to be a miliary dictator.

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