The year is 2021 and sectarian violence is once more front page news. Images of flaming wreckage fill our television screens on a nightly basis. But there is an air of make-believe to the way these riots are spoken of in the Irish media. Twenty-three years on from the Good Friday Agreement, this new outbreak of low level conflict is framed as an anachronism; something totally out of place in the Ireland of 2021. James Joyce put in the mouth of Stephen Dedalus the words: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” And to a large extent, the cultural influencers of our time pursue that attitude towards the past. Our history is full of “dark”, “tribal”, “atavistic” forces which modern society presumes to have outgrown… or at least outrun. But in running away from these things, our society runs headlong into them again, for they do not pass out of existence, they exist within us. We cannot outrun them.
Liberal Ireland desires to view these riots as an anachronism and yet if we look across Europe we see that riots of this kind are no such thing. One of the most common terms you hear nowadays in relation to social problems across the continent, is the term “parallel communities.” Isn’t that the very thing we see in the six counties? And aren’t the basic causes more or less the same? What then does our past —the past Liberal Ireland wishes to escape —tell us about the future we are creating?
Engineered multiculturalism rarely ends well. Diversity and division are quite often one and the same. What we see on the streets of Derry and Belfast at the moment is nothing new. Twenty-three years may be a long time in news broadcasting but it is a blink of the eye in the history of this affair. The 17th century and the 21st century are not as far apart as some people would like to think.
A basic problem that modern society has in dealing with these kinds of conflicts is dishonesty. What modern society really wants is for these things to just go away or die off. It is a dishonesty about what makes human beings tick in the first place. Whether you credit Brexit or Covid or both for the outbreak of these riots, they are not reducible to any news-cycle. The media may trivialise them as transient sociological problems but nothing exists outside of history. The contradiction in modern society is that governments try to universalise humanity at the same moment they deny human nature. The contraction leads to misunderstanding. The attempt to eradicate conflict leads to conflict.
Reality often falls short of our ideals. This we know by experience. The Irish Republican tradition holds out the promise of reconciliation between Green and Orange but we are far from the day when such a reality will manifest. What is more, we live in a society which believes not so much in the reconciliation of difference as in the assimilation of difference into one global ideology. A natural consequence of this is the ghettoisation of rooted communities.
The assumption made by media commentators and political spokespeople is that the answer to these riots, as to all problems, must lie in Liberalism itself. Liberalism, we are told, is the answer to poverty, violence, sectarianism, alienation etc. etc. The answer to all ills. In short, we need people to give up their rooted identities, we need the State to pay off certain sections of society, and then everything will be fine. Except it won’t be fine.
We are twenty-three years on from the Good Friday Agreement and rooted identity hasn’t gone away. Indeed it never will. Human tribalism will only vanish when humans vanish. As Irish nationalists we must understand the world for what it is, not as the commentariat would like it to be.
The gamble of Liberalism is that human nature will blink first. The calculation is that everything and everyone can finally be bought off or assimilated. Some people may resist but the assumption is that they will fail in that resistance and that human nature will come to heel. With the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin became confederates in this gamble. They embraced the Clintonite/ Blairite world order. They traded allies like Muammar Gaddafi for the regime which would bring about his murder and the fall of his country. We are a good few years and a good many wars on from the optimism of the late-1990s, but Sinn Féin continue their course and their gamble. Now they are the Party of abortion and transgenderism; a Frankenstein’s monster of Left Republicanism and Californian Liberalism.
Their promise to their legacy supporters is that they will crush Northern Unionists, not with bombs but with slow demographic change and with “progressivism”. Demographic change seems to be on their side, though having now embraced abortion north and south, that is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. The laughter of children requires children after all. Their Liberalism is of course a gamble as we have said, because Liberalism does not only weaken your enemy but also weakens yourself. The things which Sinn Féin claim to believe in now are not the things which ensure national survival. In fact they are the very opposite. The monster they hope will devour Loyalism is also devouring Republicanism.
The one lesson that Liberal Ireland does not and cannot derive from these riots is that multiculturalism fails. Mary McAleese said in 2019 that “today, 17 per cent of our population comes from somewhere else. The last time that happened was probably the Plantation [of Ulster]. But this has been a different kind of absorption, and I think in general we have done a really, really wonderful job.” Absorption of peoples however is not something we measure in years but in centuries. The real consequences are still before us. The ultimate outcome of Sinn Féin’s pact with globalism will be the demographic destruction of the Irish people across the island; a plantation at least as impactful as that of the 17th century, this time justified on the grounds of “free movement” and “capital”, defended on the grounds of “diversity” and “equality.” Whether in Belfast or Blanchardstown, rioting is something we can expect to see more of. It is a nonsense to complain about parallel communities in the six counties while promoting policies that create parallel communities across the island. It doesn’t matter how well intended or badly intended your plantation is. You cannot alter a country’s demography in such extreme ways without creating centuries of conflict.
Loyalism has not gone away. It is damaged, demoralised and its back is against the wall. These riots may be interpreted as a show of strength or a show of weakness but violence is here and it is only a matter of time before people die. They have one advantage, in the midst of all their disadvantages, and that is the fact that they see themselves, increasingly, as an entrenched minority targeted for extermination. The rest of Irish society is far more complacent. And it may be that in the long term, Republicans will fare badly for their complacency despite all their advantages. Sinn Féin have promised a great deal but they have sold their soul for it and it still might not be enough. What would their attitude be if the British decided to plant a large number of Hong Kong migrants in the six counties? Owing a debt to the British government, would these new voters not be as loyal to the British Crown as any Loyalist? But Sinn Féin would have to smile and call it diversity.
The final victory for Irish nationalism can only ever come about through an appreciation of human nature and what is actually required for national survival. It will not come by assimilating all parties into Global Liberalism for in that scenario, you are left with no country to unite. Greater progress will come through calling things what they are and facing facts. Respecting traditions, respecting the concept of ethnicity, treating cultures not as disposable but as innately valuable, treating human beings as human beings, not as clients or consumers. Irish unity can only ever come about through an appreciation that political unity is only a part of the sum. The precondition for political unity is a People to unite. A Nation is a People, not a location on a map. These things are beyond the comprehension of contemporary political ideology, which is short-sighted, materialistic and cut loose from history. The human desires and emotions which lie behind the Green and the Orange will go on as long as there is blood in the veins of their adherents. The settling of accounts by peace or by war will not be affected in the end by Californian notions but by Irish ways and Irish means.
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