Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Easter Rising: violence begets violence

I had intended post a long entry on the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, but the best laid plans and all that.

Perhaps it is no bad thing, since I suspect that those who read this blog don’t share my interest in the subject. But I do recommend this article by Ruth Dudley Edwards from the Irish Independent. For me it raises wider issues about the way in which we (ie people with progressive liberal views) are inclined to look at ethnic and national conflicts, not just in Ireland, but in the Middle East or former Yugoslavia etc. One side is labelled good and progressive, the other reactionary and anachronistic.

Yet there are usually shades of grey, right and wrong on both sides. For what it’s worth, I’m inclined to take a less negative view of the Easter Rising. Irish Catholics, an overwhelming majority on the island, had voted solidly for a separate Irish Parliament over 25 years and seven consecutive general elections. Although home rule was on the statute book by 1914, its implementation was suspended for the duration of the first world war. So it was understandable if many felt that constitutional nationalism had failed. But it is certainly the case that the Easter Rising has left a malign legacy in appearing to give precedence to physical force over democratic mandates.


Angus J Huck said...

Both "sides" in the Irish conflict are composed of religious fanatics who seek supremacy over the other. Both are capable of terrorism and unconsitutional behaviour, though historically the Roman Catholic side has the worse record.

The one good thing about the Ulster Unionists is that they wish Northern Ireland to be part of the United Kingdom (though run by them Stormont-style, it has to be said).

Nationalism is almost always poisonous and repellent, and is generally fulled by historical fictions which outdo Irving even on an off day.

I think we should all celebrate that ETA has finally thrown in the towel. Few Basques support this bunch of thugs, even those who despise everything Spanish and hold racist opinions about their neighbours (as many do).

The old ETA had a legitimate role in resisting the clerical-fascist Franco dictatorship, and I can remember cheering when they assassinated Franco's annointed successor, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco.

With the advent of democracy post 1975, however, the excuse for terrorism evaporated. Those ETA combatants who refused to move into peaceful politics are basically just bullies, and their support in the Basque Country, always meagre, is slowly draining to nothing.

But there is one useful thing ETA could have done before they layed down their weapons. They could have blown up the Itoitz Dam. This monument to ethnic cleansing and environmental and cultural vandalism is an affront to the values of modern Europe.

Those who might be inclined to underplay the power of the ballot-box should look at what happened in Italy last week. One of the most corrupt governments in post-war Europe was removed by the people.

Berlusconi is out of office, and no-one had to die in the process.

Iain said...