“Ireland had clung to her youth, indeed to her childhood, longer and more tenaciously than any other country in Europe, resisting Change, Alteration, and Reconstruction to the very last.”
― Seán Ó Faoláin
Ireland: Between the Idea and the Reality
Oftentimes Irish-Americans both liberal and conservative alike are chastised by us modern Irish for holding preconceived notions of the old country. The stereotypes lie at the tip of the tongue, an arcadian Ireland defined by a strictly essentialist notion of Gaelicism and Catholicism, materially poor, but nevertheless abounding in cultural richness and warmth.
Despite the castigation of my countrymen these assumptions made by Irish-Americans are to me, at least a sincere representation of an Ireland which was the idealised goal of the Irish state following the break with Britain in 1922, even if it didn’t exist beyond John Ford films. For this reason, the euphoric scenes of Ireland’s openly gay half-Indian Taoiseach greeting youthful crowds after the landslide referendum for abortion liberalisation would have floored anyone not yet conscious of the changes that have occurred in Irish life.
The scenes witnessed on May 26th 2018 were not as Leo Varadkar described ‘a quiet revolution’ but the culmination of a 50 year reprogramming of the Irish psyche to make it malleable to the modern world. Ireland post-1945 existed as something of a cultural outlier, as Europe became inundated with liberalism, it was still avowedly Catholic and at the surface level loyal to a brand of conservative nationalism that our liberal intelligentsia have been consistently disdainful of. They were always angered by the apparent lack of change made by the Irish from their old ways.
By the 1980s the Irish elite were largely sold on the idea of globalism but still had to perform a clean-up operation on a population that was at least nominally conservative. The overthrow of the constitutional restriction on abortion this summer by popular vote marks the victory of that operation.
For those on the conservative Right, we are entering into a war of occupation, and for that reason we must take upon ourselves the mantle of cultural and political guerrilla fighters amidst a population drenched in liberalism. What has and is occurring to Ireland at present is the template for how traditional societies the world over will be brought into line by globalism. Naturally this creates a need for analysis, to examine what has and is occurring in Irish society.
Death of the Old Republic
Both Irish and non-Irish alike should have no illusions regarding the Ireland of old, thinking of it as some sort of pre-modern golden age which can be rebuilt. The Ireland of our parents and grandparents may not have been in the vice-like grip of globalism, but it created the conditions which allowed globalism to triumph. In the economic sphere, attempts to carve Ireland out as an economically self-contained unit through protectionism backfired and were unable to stem the devastating tide of outward emigration that demographically bled the country dry for most of the 20th Century.
If social liberalism can be said to go hand in hand with economic liberalism, then the economic liberalisation commenced in the 1960s under the Lemass administration marked the apex upon which Ireland slid towards liberalism and old hierarchies began to dissolve. There is no escaping the fact that the old protectionist regime failed, and arguably was always going to fail considering the geopolitical realities of Ireland and the relatively small size of the country.
Outside of the realm of economics, the corruption of the two traditions that formed the moral foundation of the Irish state; Catholicism and nationalism, help explain the Ireland we see today. The slow-boil sectarian conflict in the northern six counties had the unusual effect of almost discrediting nationalism as the state ideology, while Irish nationalism itself in the North infamously embraced Marxism – styling itself as a mere franchised version of a global proletariat revolution.
By the 1990s, as Irish republican leadership became aware that military victory was unlikely, the Good Friday Agreement was signed as a de-facto peace deal. While seemingly harmless on the face of it, the Agreement had the rather pernicious effect of putting the entirety of the island on a post-nationalist footing where identity mattered little in a globalised world. The 30 years of violence also had a more complex effect on the Irish public, bringing with it a sense of fatigue which brought disrepute to nationalism on the whole, with many seeing it as linked to the bloodletting.
The collapse of Catholicism as a defining force of Irish life is a much simpler story, but its effects much more profound. As bemoaned by Irish intellectuals, the vacation of British power opened a vacuum into which Catholicism entered – taking control of a good deal of the apparatus of the Free State and imbuing it with a visibly Catholic ethos.
This was largely welcomed in a country recovering from the revolutionary period and anxious for Catholicism to play a role. With the formation of such an overtly Catholic state the tide could only go one way as the decades progressed. President De Valera’s 1961 speech at the inauguration of Ireland’s first TV station highlighting the potential of a traditional society to be undermined by mass media was validated in the years to come, as Catholic Ireland gradually reached its cultural zenith.
The 1979 Papal visit in which quarter a of the Irish population attended a single open air Mass, and subsequent securing of a constitutional ban on abortion in 1983 can be seen historically as the last triumphs of an old order that was about to expire in the next decade or so. The revelations of unforgivable industrial scale child abuse in the 1990s shattered Church prestige and sent Irish life into a moral tailspin from which it has yet to recover, and from which the forces of liberalism profited greatly.
Similar to the economic failures of the state, the abuse committed and hidden away by the Church acted and still acts as a legitimising narrative for the new liberal Ireland – with any dissent attached to wanting to take Ireland back to an era of child abuse and poverty. Certainly by the early 2000s the cultural defence mechanisms of Irish life were gone, leaving the Irish populace highly vulnerable whether they knew it or not.
Ireland the Clintonite Stronghold
As the façade of 20th century Ireland was denuded, so came into view a new Ireland built upon the dialectical inversion of the values of tradition and insularity that defined the old state. This Ireland is more akin to a Californian coastal city, with its brand of hedonistic liberalism masking the fact that the Irish economy exists merely to launder the profits of multinationals.
It can be summarised to outsiders as if living in a world where Clinton not only was victorious in 2016 but was able to refashion all of American society in her image from Silicon Valley to the Appalachians. Similar to Clintonism, Irish liberalism is a thin veneer masking corporate control of the country, with endemic problems of housing and corruption being left unsolved.
The abortion referendum was a testing ground for big data in the form of Facebook and Google to tighten the leash on populism after 2016 via their regulation of social media, which was allowed by the closeness of multinationals to the current Irish government. While denouncements of the old clerical Ireland are commonplace and rather akin to Orwell’s ‘two minutes of hate,’ Ireland is perhaps a much more regulated society than it ever was.
In conclusion, anyone looking to Ireland as an enclave of Christian morality are sadly mistaken. Regardless, pessimism should never be in the vocabulary of anyone with any patriotic sentiment. The story of Ireland is the story of fighting a cultural and political occupation welcomed by a large portion of the population for centuries on end.
However awe inspiring, the levels of social engineering which have occurred in Ireland will come to an end as surely as liberalism is receding across the West. So too it must end in Ireland, inviting a glorious opportunity for the nation to live up to its potential.
A brilliant assessment. I would like to add however while the Catholic orthodoxy was fading in the early 1990’s the vacuum was filled immediately by the left liberal orthodoxy. Working in tandem with the media the new church of the left insisted on more tolerance along the lines of race and sexuality and deserves credit for this.
However the one thing it forgot to tolerate was opinions and information which fail to conform and yield to it’s new found zeal. It also gave two generations an even more black and white view of the outside world than the sectarianism of the Catholic church. Israel/Palestine, U.S. politics, the Balkans and man made Climate change are clear examples this new religious dogma.