The essay “Is Irish Nationalism Lacking an Aesthetic” by Ulick Fitzhugh raises many interesting ideas and opens room for further reflections. The central question being asked is does Irish Nationalism need an aesthetic to aid in its success. In short, the answer is yes, in the same way that any ‘subculture’ needs some broader appeal if it wishes to become more mainstream. An aesthetic in this sense should not only consider the interests and culture of a nationalist movement but also a presenting face and style. As Ulick rightly points out “an aesthetic form has the potential to convey a worldview’s essence better than hundreds of exhaustively detailed essays”, echoing the cliché of a picture painting a thousand words.
However, it is my opinion that Ulick’s vision borders on an unrealistic “eternal appeal of the warrior poet”. While the appeal is certainly eternal, we must be cognisant of Heidegger’s concept of Dasein. In brief, for Heidegger, Dasein or ‘being-there’ is a fundamental consideration necessary for discussing man’s nature. It is impossible to discuss man without understanding the time and place that they are in, their culture, their language, their history, their religion, and their zeitgeist. In this vein, we need to be concerned about modern Irish culture (if it even exists independent of Anglo-American degeneracy). The culture of today will shape the culture of tomorrow. This is where the importance of the Irish Nationalist aesthetic comes in, the aesthetic should aim to impose itself on the dominant culture and change it in a direction more congruent with our worldview.
Back to the warrior poet, while it is eternally appealing to men —especially those of a more traditional mindset— it is not so realistic in the Ireland of today. Poetry, in its traditional form, is just not palatable for the youth of today, with most of them never having read any outside of schoolwork. Moreover, even if there were a great modern poet who can “touch on themes and motifs that are congruent with our worldview”; who is likely to read it let alone understand it? It is more pragmatic to aim for a singer-songwriter who can be a voice of the age, something akin to Varg Vikernes as mentioned by Ulick.
Ulick envisions some future success if the Irish right could produce a figure who draws on “universal, yet rarely enunciated, negative sentiments regarding modern Ireland that abound our people’s collective zeitgeist”. If this is the goal, then I think a figure reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen could be a homerun. Despite what you may think about his mediocre singing and guitar playing, one cannot deny that Springsteen, more than anyone, was cued into how the forgotten White American Christian male was feeling at the time. Many of his songs portray the struggles of forgotten White Americans left behind by offshoring and the decimation of the middle class while idealising what America used to be and could’ve been. Songs like ‘The River’ really bring this home and the nostalgia for youth and those glory days when things were better.
Almost all early Springsteen records have a similar tone to them, and a lot of songs follow a similar formula; there is something to be said regarding his repetition of themes and the influence it has on the listeners attitudes and worldview. A song like ‘Backstreets’ really articulates those feelings of loss, and the negative sentiments abound regarding modern America. We see it in the first few lines as he says: “Trying in vain to breathe/ The fire we was born in” highlighting the toxicity of modern American life and culture, something he sees as distinct from Americana as nostalgia, a theme highly prevalent in Springsteen.
Do we not have similar feelings and ideas here in Ireland regarding the path our Nation has taken in the last century, is Ireland today what men like Pearse and Collins would have imagined it to be? Later, he articulates a feeling prevalent among many Nationalists who see how their country is today: “with a love so hard but filled with defeat”. Nationalists certainly love their country but feel some animosity towards how it is today. Like Springsteen they look at their country’s past and feel a sense of longing for an idealistic view of how their country used to be, regardless of the truth of their vision. As is quite often the case, perception is more important than reality.
Given Ireland’s ancient and prolific history of poetry it does not seem impossible that a voice of the age will arise in her time of need. While singer-songwriters may be a more modern version of a poet, the ancient tradition of poetic storytelling can surely be used in the modern age to rekindle the fires of tradition and Nationalism. This is not to say that we should promote and embrace a crude imitation of a previous icon, but rather we should seek to support someone who brings something new to the scene; whether such a figure will organically arise I cannot say. Ulick warns that the artform should not take on an openly political front so as not to risk “sacrificing culture for the sake of the message.”
Again, Springsteen comes to mind. While he personally may be like every other celebrity hack who tows the official globalist liberal agenda, the worldview his early music implanted in his listeners doesn’t follow him. While anecdotal, a friend of mine assumed Springsteen would have been a MAGA type Trump supporter based off a misunderstanding of ‘Born in the USA’. While the song is not overtly political is does demonstrate a certain type of American nationalism and worldview that a listener could begin to believe. I’m sure if someone began to sing of the roaming hillsides of rural Ireland and the atmosphere of a village pub many listeners would assume a rural and nationalist worldview on behalf of the songwriter. There must be some creative in Ireland who can take influence from Pearse, Yeats, and others to reawaken that romance which surrounds the way our ancestors thought of our Nation, our Land, and our People in a style that is appealing to Irishmen and women.
In terms of a fashion or style aesthetic Irish Nationalists should take care in how they present themselves. Far from appearing as the stereotypical ‘racist scanger’ dressed in tracksuit and trainers we should be more formal and stylish in our appearance. It might not be feasible to reach out to Hugo Boss for a distinct style and timeless uniform, but other options do exist. It’s possible that we could rely on the stereotype of the Irish farmer, a picture which paints a thousand words regarding a political and cultural worldview.
I believe if Irish Nationalism were to decide on some fashion aesthetic it should seek to differentiate itself from the modernist globalist scene in the same way that our politics is inherently divergent from mainstream modernism. This is not to say that we should all be wearing tweed or Aran sweaters (although I wouldn’t be against this) but we should certainly be more formal or mature in how we present ourselves.
Walking around almost any major city in the world you will see the dire effects of globalism in how people dress. Almost everyone wears the same clothes, hoodies, tracksuit bottoms or at best jeans, and gaudy Nike trainers. However, we should be careful not to all conform to the same style ourselves to become just another shade of the unthinking masses, or to be too exuberant in bringing back a more traditional Irish menswear look lest we be accused of larping. This would provide ample ammunition for our enemies to accuse us of being brainwashed and just following a crowd or a fad.
The problem which commonly occurs among sub-cultures with a definitive fashion sense such as the Mods and Rockers of the British 60s was sarcastically mocked in The Who’s album ‘Quadrophenia’ (an album certainly worth listening to which tells the tale of Jimmy who searches for his own self-worth and identity inside the Mod subculture) when the question is asked:
“It’s easy to see that you are one of us
Ain’t it funny how we all seem to look the same?”
In essence, Irish Nationalists should seek to dress well and take care of their appearance not only for themselves but for the benefit or all Irish Nationalists. How often have we seen the lying-press smear all of us for the actions of a few crackpots or schizos. Another benefit of not being too stringent when it comes to a fashion aesthetic is that it is not so easy for state provocateurs to sabotage any event that may take place. Think of the Proud Boys in America and how easy it is for anyone to buy the same shirt and chinos and then go commit crimes to destroy the reputation of the group.
In closing, I think it would be a good idea for Irish Nationalists to exert their influence in the cultural sphere which is adjacent to politics. As politics is downstream from culture, if Irish Nationalists could use some aesthetic to become more popular it could only assist us in our aim of changing Irish politics. Taking the words of Carl Schmitt as inspiration “If a people no longer possesses the energy or the will to maintain itself in the sphere of politics, they will vanish from the world. Only a weak people will disappear.”