“‘Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,’ the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. ‘Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.’” —Robert E. Howard, Beyond the Black River
“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats” – H.L Mencken, Prejudices First Series
“Never weep, let them play,
Old violence is not too old to beget new values.” – Robinson Jeffers, The Bloody Sire
Following the unrest in Dublin on 23 November 2023, the word ‘scum’ abounded the mediascape. The efflorescence of this term called a number of questions to mind.
Do the media have the moral right to denote a socio-economic demographic with the pejorative ‘scum’? And if so, why should they restrict themselves to patently classist language?
Are the blacks who rioted following the shooting of George Nkencho deserving of similar opprobrium? If so, Newstalk should hire me as a consultant – my CV speaks for itself, I have 20 years of experience as a stochastic terrorist.
It’s been said to death, but nevertheless truthfully, that the system’s apparatchiks are liable for the creation of a double standard.
Per the media: following the shooting of the aforementioned Nkencho, blacks, spurred by hatred of the Irish and, undoubtedly, variables too primaeval to explicate without expressing oneself in coarsely racist terms (we at The Burkean are gentlemanly in our racism), who assaulted and jeered Whites in West Dublin are expressing the language of the [insert cringe MLK quote here].
In contrast, inner city youngsters, descendants of tenement dwellers, who are instinctively loyal to their race, are, according to the media, a coterie of far right radicals, leeches, and opportunists. Americanisation, and the anti-racist malignant vogue which accompanies it, has worked its magic on Irish opinion-makers.
Classist language is used to de-humanise those involved in the unrest. “Scum” is thrown around wantonly in middlebrow media discourse to paint the picture of a demographic which is less than human, and thus not deserving of the same respect and dignity as you and I (well, they’d probably include me, despite my Yacht collection, amongst the ranks of the latter).
Interestingly, the invocation of terms that serve the cause of dehumanisation creates a distance between the mainstream and the ‘scummy’ other that is analogous to the socio-economic distance between media commentators and the urban working class. Our chattering class are blind to this, naturally.
Another question came to mind regarding the events of the 23rd: is this not the quandary of the lumpenproletariat? In English editions of the Communist Manifesto, the lumpenproletariat is usually translated as “social scum”—note the recurrence of this word. In contrast to Marx’s condemnation, Bakunin looked to the lumpenproletariat as a revolutionary actor:
“that eternal ‘meat’, […] that great rabble of the people (underdogs, ‘dregs of society’) ordinarily designated by Marx and Engels in the picturesque and contemptuous phrase lumpenproletariat. I have in mind the ‘riffraff’, that ‘rabble’ almost unpolluted by bourgeois civilization, which carries in its inner being and in its aspirations […] all the seeds of the socialism of the future”
More on the lumpenproles later. I then began to think about Alan Clarke’s oeuvre. Clarke — notable for being the auteur of the sober, dispassionate depiction of anonymised assassination during the Troubles in Elephant — is well known in his native country for two films. One being Scum, which portrays life for juvenile offenders in a Borstal-esque institution.
Life for the institutionalised is a composite of Hobbesian enmity, feudal dues, and incessant surveillance of youth by the guards, albeit not in a panopticon fashion — the cold rationality of a Benthamite carceral is tempered by the all too humanness of the guards, exemplified by the arbitrary beating of a black inmate; racism is humanism — death to AI and CCTV.
The strong exercise a centripetal influence on their peers; concentric circles of loyalty develop, and the nature of the reciprocal relation with the centre, viz. the leader, varies depending on one’s place in the hierarchy. The weak are at risk, especially those who fall outside the bounds of the leader’s protection; relegation to the role of catamite, the fate of one youth in the film, is among the consequences for violating the unenumerated laws of this concrete jungle.
Racialism is a theme throughout: the races align into distinct and competing factions, whether it be in a game of football or on the yard. Race plays a more pronounced role thematically in Clarke’s later work Made in Britain, starring Tim Roth (Roth, it should be noted, is a gentile whose father changed surname out of admiration for Jewish communists) as an adolescent neo-nazi—ironically, one whose petty misdemeanours are carried out in conjunction with the very people he abhors: immigrants.
The opening features a rousing UB40 track – UDA alumnus and roid-head Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair was shot in the head at a UB40 concert—that overlays a scene which features a transfixing close up of Roth’s swastika face tattoo and spiteful countenance as he marches to court.
Beyond surface level distinctions, both films, especially Made in Britain, are undergirded by Clarke’s polemic against post-Atlee social democracy.
The insidious spirit of this political horizon — shared by its American counterpart, progressivism; Paul Gottfried’s insight in After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State is germane — is the postulate that government, guided by the object of eliminating purportedly (and arbitrarily identified!) maladies in the body politic i.e. racism or sexism, has the duty to re-model man via therapeutic and other means.
A presupposition of this worldview is human plasticity: “you are nothing but putty to be re-made in our image”. This is the danger of leftism. The rightist despot, pursuant to his own worldview, is circumscribed by the bounds of religion, heritability, history, and other factors outside his control. For Robespierre, you and the nation are a tabula rasa —his limit is his will, nothing more.
American progressivism, and to a lesser extent social democracy, possessed heterodox commitments before the Nuremberg consensus. FDR’s New Deal, the bête noire for conservative historians in the States, is scrutinised on account of its intellectual and practical flirtation with eugenics.
Since the outcome of WW2, its unorthodox bona-fides have been shorn, and it has easily acclimatised itself to the egalitarian and anti-racist consensus; its therapeutic and top-down proclivities vis-à-vis the body politic are now oriented toward the cessation of nativism and the creation of a deracinated commune comprised of a panoply of backgrounds within a mixed or heavily nationalised economy.
Tolerance, their credo, is applied selectively —to avoid inducing nausea and boredom, I’ve opted not to digress down the path of explaining Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance. The antinomian for them varies by context: in America: rednecks and white ethnics; in the UK: Deanos and Geezers; in Ireland: youngfellas. For a regime committed to tolerant universalism, the subaltern is an embodied paradox.
It goes without saying that their vision for society is gay —like, extremely homo. They long for an effeminate and raceless adult crèche with Popper’s characteristics. And it is this which Clarke’s subject, simultaneously the product of modern society and the actor destined to enact vengeance against it, revolts against.
This is expressed best in a scene from Made in Britain, wherein Trevor, the juvenile delinquent protagonist, argues with his social care workers. He expresses his discontent with their condescension, the affected familiarity of their language, and their faux-xenophilia.
“You can lock me in here, but you cannot take away the hate inside my head —I can still hate you in my head. Don’t like that, do you?”
In the face of vociferous instinctive nativism, the demarcation line between leftist and liberal increasingly blurs. Their commentary recurrently invokes the image of the scumbag for a reason. It stems from subconscious fear. Fear of what their policies and values ineluctably lead to —personified in the gormless expression of a Canada Goose-adorned Dublin lumpen.
The Irish working class’ environ is populated by illicit drugs and junkies, apathy toward the transcendent, decline in former social organisation undergirded by the Catholic faith, single motherhood, a dearth of education, waves of immigration and the ill-effects that flow therefrom, and readily accessible gaudy and base consumeristic trinkets, but deprivation when it comes to the material prerequisites necessary to form a normal family life (i.e. a house).
Social reform has left the Dubliner hollow. His singular asset (other than his fresh fade and scrambler) are his instincts. This is his immunity to hegemony; his key card which allows him to unlock the truth. And the great truth of our age, never spoken but always bellowed, and with the force of millennia of racial instinct, is: GET THEM OUT.
Like the archetype central to Alan Clarke’s films, Dublin’s working class found themselves confronted with conditions beyond their complete comprehension; encapsulated by the fateful stabbing of children by an Algerian migrant. Yet they nevertheless (in this respect too they mirror the protagonists in the above mentioned films) gleaned enough to understand that it was an affront to themselves, their families, and future of their children.
Blaming the unrest on the far right is comical —the organised far right in this country, lamentably, is burdened by disorganised schizophrenics prone to bickering and fatalism. The fleeing of Gardaí and the burning of vehicles was a product of Dubliners’ lived experience of being the community most acutely impacted by mass immigration.
It’s a cope too. The left is too scared to face the obvious truth that the working class has turned against them. After the events of Thursday, to a leftist capable of reflection and ideological introspection, it’s obvious that the tactics employed heretofore — moralising lectures, insinuating de-territorialised American victim narratives in an Irish context etc.—will not work to win over the Irish working class.
You’ve lost Dublin’s working class, and thus the streets. The days of austerity protests and shutting down PEGIDA marches are over —2011 is a fever dream, the 23rd of November 2023 is our new reality. As Marx was to the industrial proletariat, I will be to Dublin’s youngfellas.