Thursday, 17 July 2008

Irish nationalism and fascism

Gombeen Man spent some years living amid the Sassenachs during the 80s and 90s. Economic migration was something that we Irish did back then, out of a desire to improve our lot - or, indeed, through outright necessity.

Sometimes, I look at the “Polish Scum out” and “Niggers Out” graffiti in and around my locality and am reminded of those long-gone days in London, when British National Party / National Front fascists referred to the Irish as “bog-wogs” who came to take the jobs of the indigenous. Even the work-shy.

Which makes me ponder the subject of Irish nationalism. There are some who maintain that there can’t be an Irish form of fascism due to Ireland’s colonial past. Indeed, in the North, the murder gangs of the UDA, the UVF and the LVF had links with British far-right parties (scumbag Johnny Adair being an example). But is this surprising, given that loyalism was a local form of supremacist British nationalism?

Does it automatically follow then, that - leaving aside the issue of methods - the cause of Irish Republicanism was a progressive one? Many people were drawn into Republicanism because of discrimination and a desire for social justice (Derry had a nationalist majority, for instance, but thanks to gerrymandering had a unionist council). Catholics found it hard to get work and housing, civil rights activists were attacked by the police. Even Trimble admitted that Northern Ireland was a “cold house” for Catholics.

What about the Republic, though? Is the narrow, exclusive, conservative Irish nationalism found here any better informed than that of the NF and the BNP? Is the motivating “philosophy” not much the same? If not, what progressive qualities does it possess over its British counterpart? After all, both concur on an exaggerated sense of worth and allegiance to the nation. Both share a narrow definition of what constitutes truly belonging to that entity, in terms of bloodline or culture. Both are socially conservative – Sinn Fein’s coyness on full abortion rights being an example.

The acid test in both countries then, is how those of a nationalist persuasion treat foreigners. In Britain, which has had net migration for decades - the Irish being particularly well represented – the NF came to prominence in the 70s. Ireland, however, has only recently switched from being a country of net emigration to one of net migration. So, it could be said that the more disagreeable aspects of nationalism here have yet to surface - but there is evidence that this is happening.

During Lisbon, for instance, some group with a Gaelic name campaigned on a platform of “keeping Ireland Irish”. In working class areas the “no” vote had an anti-foreigner element. Even laughable groups who consider themselves left-wing such as Eireugli (something like that – they have a green star as a logo rather than a red one) have protested outside Croke Park against “foreign games” taking place in that taxpayer-funded citadel (one famously wearing a Celtic shirt while doing so).

Crucially, younger people’s nationalism is unhindered by any desire for justice and equality that existed during the Northern conflict – they are simply unabashed anti-foreigner, little Irelander, nationalists. If you won’t listen to me, see this link, with its good Gaelic name: Craobhgalgreine
Watch out for more of this “type of thing” as the recession bites, and the Celtic Brats become more vocal and less inhibited as they seek someone else to blame.

You’ll see that narrow nationalism is much the same, wherever it exists.

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Anonymous said...

Hi, same guy who just responded anonymously on the Gaelscoileanna thread.

It was members of Republican Sinn Féin, not Éirigí, who protested against 'foreign games' outside Croke Park while wearing Celtic shirts, displaying a level of ideological confusion that would make a cat laugh.

I think there is a hard-right, Catholic, Irish language anti-immigrant section in Irish society. You only have to read Hibernian or look at Cóir (The group you're referring to) and see it.

Not sure left republican groups are involved. They tend to be very good on refugee and migrant issues in my experience, both personal and professionally working in the area.

Ciarán said...

Speaking of éirígí and that Lisbon vote:

“One of the greatest and most dangerous myths being peddled by the Yes side is that the massive numbers of working class people who voted No did so as a result of some sort of latent racism. Brian Cowen took the opportunity of his address to the EU Council of Ministers on Friday (June 20) to suggest that one of the background factors in the rejection of the Treaty was the issue of immigration. Indeed, his colleagues on the Yes side had already taken to peddling this lie to the media.”
- Blueshirt Claims Defy Reality

The Gombeen Man said...

I hold my hands up! I had it in my head it was Eirigi - but now you say it I think it was RSF. Thanks for the correction.