Whose Side Are You On?
War is in the news. Both the “mainstream” media and the “alternative” media have been saturation-bombing us with Russia/ Ukraine “content” for weeks; the official outlets with NATO propaganda, the alternative outlets with Putin propaganda. Does anyone care about the Ukrainian people? Maybe somebody does. But in this news-war the only thing that counts is what sports team you have backed or what power bloc you wish to install as regional hegemon. Geopolitics is the flavour of the month.
We in Ireland have no control over this situation. The only thing which could have possibly prevented it would have been “normal” relations between the United States and the Russian Federation. But those relations have been far from normal. They have in fact been deteriorating for decades. And since those relations are unlikely to be improved by a “limited” victory for NATO or a “limited” victory for Russia in Ukraine, we cannot talk even about limited aims. On some level this event in Eastern Europe is being treated as a total war for western civilisation, to be settled now or later. The only thing which can satisfy the Atlanticist Powers is the destruction of Putin’s Russia. The only thing that can satisfy Putin’s Russia is the insulating of itself completely from the West.
The arguments too and fro are by the way. As Irish nationalists, we have little sympathy with NATO’s agenda which is simply an extension of cold American power. “An Empire whose sword is ever drinking blood in some part of the world poses as the champion of the nations against the doctrine of force.” So wrote James Connolly of Britain’s posture in the First World War. At the same time, we have too much respect for history to become mere Russia-apologists. Whether Putin’s challenge to the uni-polar American world is “good” or “bad” in the long chain of conquests, is not sufficient reason to make us cheerleaders for any side.
The present is merely a chaos opening onto a void. Here we sit, on the edge of Western Europe, firmly in the shadow of the American Empire. Like our forebears, who in 1914 hoped for British overseas humiliation, a part of us longs for the fall of the Atlanticist Powers. At the same time, we must respect the fact that were we living in Eastern Europe, in the shadow of perennial Russian empires, we might not be so cavalier.
History is long and the newscycle is short. The people cheerleading on the sidelines of conflict will soon move onto something else, the next “big news story”. But the people on the ground will not be so lucky. A proxy war is being waged in Ukraine and the consequences of it will be rough going for the human beings involved. Wars are not like sporting events. To takes sides in wars of empire is a dangerous game. Wars are not always “over by Christmas.” They may go on and on. People who commit themselves to wars, commit themselves to what they do not know. People who hope for quick victories may be disappointed in their hopes.
There is no doubt of course which side the “Irish” State is on. They have committed themselves deeply and without deep reflection. There are only two choices: the “white hats” and the “black hats”. The “Liberal West” and the “Russian Hun”. To take the side of Ireland in all of this is officially impossible. It is not an option that’s even on the table. So in either case we side against ourselves.
The most striking thing of all is just how superficial our civility really is. That is how quickly a society, seemingly so soft in the belly, gears up for the old “barbarism”. How does it all end? The complacent prosperity, the mountains of debt, the dreams of technocrats, the liberal order? Does it end with a mushroom cloud? The greatest myth that our society propounds is the myth of our own “niceness”, which we see presented in slick emotional slogans, bright colours, rainbow flags, political posturing, vacuous soundbites, and of course in self-congratulation. Many civilisations in many times have presumed themselves to be righteous. But it is a distinction of our civilisation that it believes itself to be “nice”.
Witness Ireland’s final genuflection before the alter of Finance Capital, as our leaders become the willing accomplices to geopolitical power games. The particular “transmutation of values” that has occurred over the last three to four decades in Irish society, now has its inevitable conclusion in war. The sugar-coated language of equality, progress and liberation (sold to us by the merchants of “universal peace”) now demands its adherence in titanic civilisational conflict. Whether it be this war or the next war, Ireland’s youth will be made to fight.
The dust has not yet settled on the lockdown-mania of the last two years but the new age of extremes continues unabated. Gone is the pretence of Irish “neutrality”. Our alliance to the powers of global liberalism conscripts us into future bloodbaths. We have sided in a war of empires. Not a square inch of our country, not an atom of our persons, is safe now from the meat-grinder.
Not for the first time in my lifetime, war is here. Terrible and unnecessary. But never before in my lifetime has Ireland drooled at the mouth to join in the carnage. Admittedly, the use of Shannon Airport as an aircraft carrier for globalist wars, was an ill omen, and yes we got a taste of the Irish media’s bloodlust when they greased the wheels of a NATO invasion of Syria that never came to be. But that was nothing to the spectacle we see today. War is here and to the losers goes the blame.
The Greek playwright Aeschylus has Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, justify the Trojan War with the words: “They raped our queen, so we raped their city. And we were right.” So it is that every war is justified in the end, and with it the burning of cities, the massacre of civilians, the plantation of homelands, the seeding of vendettas. In the last century two world-consuming wars, which were in fact the same war, burned Europe to a cinder. And when the wars were over, the winners said that everything they had done was right. In Ireland there is controversy over both rounds. Controversy over how the men who died at Flanders and Gallipoli should be assimilated into national memory and controversy over our staying out of the second round altogether.
At the present hour, our leaders such as they are, seem determined to have us “in” this one. They don’t want any controversy this time. They just want blood. If that means Irish people going to fight and die on foreign battlefields, I have do doubt that that will happen, in this conflict or the next. The current tone of Irish public discourse is something akin to Iraq War era Fox News. And there’s no kidding around this time. The last humanitarian crisis, which was facilitated by Obama and Clinton’s destruction of Libya, was just a warming up act. After two years of lockdown, there is nothing they think the Irish won’t cave in for. One plantation deserves another. So this time we’re not getting a few thousand but 100,000 refugees! That’s more than the population of County Kilkenny. We’re getting in deep this time.
Neutral No Longer?
War, P.H. Pearse tells us, is not the worst of things, that is in comparison to slavery. But there is a great distinction between he who risks war for national assertion and he who risks war for a pat on the back from Churchill or Lord Grey. At various times, movements for liberty in our country have welcomed foreign armies, and in so doing taken sides in broad civilisational conflicts. In 1315 it was a Scottish force led by Edward Bruce, in 1579 a Papal military expedition of Spanish and Italians, in 1601 the soldiers of Catholic Spain, in 1798 the soldiers of Napoleonic France, in 1916 a German submarine off the Kerry coast. Our “gallant allies” usually came too early or too late, usually too few in number and sometimes in the wrong place. But they represented a will to take sides for a cause that would free us of England. War was risked but not for nothing.
Even in the 1940s there was a significant number of Irish republicans who would have welcomed a German invasion of Ireland for the purposes of expelling the British army from the six counties, but these hardline republicans were not in power. De Valera was in power and he opted for neutrality. He opted on that occasion to not visit upon us the hells of war, so the IRA spent the “emergency” in the Curragh.
Just as everything that was is now turned on its head, that stance of neutrality has become just another heresy. Another idiosyncrasy from our past that must be overturned so we can take our place at the table of modern western capitalism. We must spill blood for the empire and secure our baby chair at the victory banquet. As in 1914, the cause of “small nations” is the pretence for escalation; the honour of neutral Belgium replaced in this instance by the larger Ukraine.
One should be very slow to take sides in such conflicts, however worthy or unworthy. Especially when you have nothing to gain. Consider the accidents of war. Even if neither side is crazy enough to deliberately use nuclear weapons, for instance, accidents happen. “World War I” might have been a limited affair had England not chosen to join the fray. The reason they did so was simply because the financial interests of London could not live with a strong Germany. The escalation which resulted caused or facilitated, among other things, the Russian Revolution, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the political career of Hitler, the Second World War and you might even throw in the Cold War that followed. That’s not even mentioning our own glorious Easter Rising!
W.B. Yeats once wrote, “You that Mitchel’s prayer have heard. `Send war in our time, O Lord!’” Whether in the time of Hugh O’Neill or John Mitchel or P.H. Pearse, the Irish in those days had something to gain in the possibility of warring empires, and they knew it. But now? Now we risk unforeseen consequences, not for the hope of national assertion but just to fit in. These unforeseen consequences are very dangerous indeed. Like a scrap on a GAA pitch, the real carnage is often done by the players who join in late.
Now as in 1914, the Irish commentariat is hungry for war, even as they fill our screens with humanitarian rhetoric. A state with scarcely an army is being led step by step towards the front lines of global cataclysm. And what is it that is being dangled before us as a lure? Nothing! Not even the false prospect of Home Rule! Nothing but a facade of niceness and keeping up appearances. Nothing but the usual virtue signaling nonsense. Words seem cheap until the bill has to be paid in human suffering. Deaths and casualties, fuel and food shortages, hunger and poverty.
Between Such Witnesses
Irish people who wish to empathise with Putin’s “denazification” of Ukraine or with NATO’s equivalent attitude to Russia, can be my guest. Go and fight for these causes if you so wish. There’s a sucker born every minute. But we know what “the freedom of small nations” is worth in the great game of geopolitics.
Ireland does not live in the shadow of Russia, so it is all too easy for us to make-believe in Putin as a force for good or evil. It is for exactly that reason that we should be cautious. Living so long in the shadow of England, we know too well what bad neighbours can be like. We know what the legacy of plantation is. We need not be naive about imperial designs, especially those that we do not have to live under.
At the same time, we undoubtedly live in the shadow of the American Empire and its NATO arm. We know them for what they are. Hypocrites and liars who are usually up to no good. With friends like these who needs enemies? We know from our history what it is to be used. We know what it is to be cannon fodder in other people’s wars. There is nothing for us to gain in this conflict: no glory, no satisfaction, no just conclusion. Only noise. Only newspaper reports from foreign battlefields. Only speculation, lies and manipulation.
All we have on our side if we join this thing, is the belief that we are nice and our enemies are not. But that belief which was enshrined at Nuremberg is perilously close to its expiration date. For two decades the West has allowed China to rise while treating Russia as a pariah. We will look back on it perhaps as one of the greatest geopolitical missteps in the last thousand years. That is if we live to look back! The would-be conquerors of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, would have us make believe that they are the righteous defenders of mankind. But they merely “kill with kindness”. They bomb civilians for equality whereas the others are “bad men”. Between them and Putin, trust nobody. God be with the ordinary people of Ukraine, for nobody else is.
Pearse tells us that “individual Irishmen sometimes fought under other standards” but that “Ireland as a whole” only ever fought under one. Let it be known then. The Irish Republic never went to war for International Finance Capitalism. Not in 1914, not in 1939, not in 2022… not for the “freedom of small nations”, not for lies and false promises, not for governments used and discarded by “Great Powers” in games of empire. The 26 county state that calls itself Irish may do what it wants. But we will not be used. We will not be deceived. We will not be betrayed.
This article was submitted by a National Party member. If you would like to submit an article for publication on the National Party website, follow this link.