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|From: Church & State: Editorials|
|Date: July, 2018|
England : Ireland : Popery
|It is only forty-five years since this magazine, at the outset of its career, gave offence by publishing a series of articles under the title, The Rise Of Papal Power In Ireland. It found favour with neither the Church nor the stratum of furtively anti-clerical journalists in Dublin. The Church Hierarchy did not wish to be subjected to historical understanding, and the anti-clerics had careers to attend to and they judged it best to maintain a public silence about mattes on which they felt deeply in private.
The message of The Rise Of Papal Power was that it was a mushroom growth of the 1850s. It was new, brash and brittle. It has now collapsed—leaving what heritage behind it?
There is an English idea that Ireland is obsessed with its history. It would be a bad thing for England if Ireland was even moderately interested in understanding how it had come to be what it is. There is far too much English input of a certain kind into Irish history for England to be complacent about it now, in the era of the European Union and Brexit.
England lives in English history, while advocating cosmopolitanism for others. That is why there is Brexit. England does not intend to be nondescript European in a Europe of vigorously alive nationalities. It is not a nationality in the European sense. It sacrificed its national joie de vivre to the business of world conquest. It disciplined itself, Puritanised itself, re-constructed itself for the purpose of "teaching the nations how to live"—as Cromwell's Secretary of State, John Milton, put it. It set out to save the world from its abhorrent frivolities, most of which were generated by the idolatrous levity of Rome. And it came remarkably close to succeeding.
Its false step was its unnecessary war on Germany. But it was a step it had to take. It understood itself in racial terms and classified itself as being of German stock. But the Germans, from being fragmented in 50 petty kingdoms at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, had constructed themselves into a nation state in response to the French invasion of Prussia in 1870, and had become a rival by 1900—not a major rival yet, but one that needed to be dealt with soon.
But England dealt with the Boers first. It conquered the Boer Republics and was immensely proud of itself. The Boers were close to being of first rate stock. They were Dutch, and therefore almost German. There was great satisfaction in beating a people of the first rank after all those wars to subdue Fuzzy Wuzzies and the like. So England looked forward with confidence to the final war that would end war by making England supreme—and undermined itself because the Germans, with less than half a century of statehood behind them, proved to be all too German.
England did win the War, but it was not quite itself anymore after all that had been necessary to win it.
The world became complicated for it. It was not alone with its inexorable will any more, and it did not like not being alone.
Doubting itself in the chaotic world it brought about by the Great War, it resorted to a makeshift foreign policy in which it helped the Nazi regime to restore Germany to the status of a European Power, and then suddenly made war on it again. That second War brought about the end of the Empire within a generation. England was a spider without a web. And the shattered states of Europe formed themselves into an economic combination that was intended to become political. An element in that European will to combine was a determination that England should never again be able to play balance-of-power politics against European states.
Edward Heath, a petty-bourgeois Tory with experience in the winding up of the Empire, appears to have been genuinely of the opinion that Britain's future was to be a European nation state. Europe, disarmed by his manner, accepted his application for membership of the Common Market. His successor, after a period of Labour government that did not quite know what it thought about Europe, was Margaret Thatcher, who was gripped by the vision of separate English destiny. But the most striking thing in that line was the question asked by Roy Jenkins, a senior Labour Party leader: Were the glorious thousand years at an end?
Communist Russia, having been invaded by Germany, Italy and Finland, with contributions from many other countries, and having broken German power, took control of Eastern Europe in a form that has been described both as liberation and conquest. (The matter is delicate and has prevented the European Union from producing a historical account of its origins.) That set limits to the expansion of the EU until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. And it was about then that the London Times reviewed the situation editorially and observed that European political development was endangering Britain's existence by depriving it of the possibility of the balance-of-power policy towards Europe on which it had oriented itself for so many centuries.
The message was that it was necessary to curb European political development and restore a national structure in Europe. And that is what the Tory Party has been working towards ever since.
Amidst all the bric-a-brac of current affairs, a national will has been operative in British politics. It grinds on relentlessly, periodically bringing the Tory Party to what seems to be the brink of disintegration. And political dispute has a long backward reach. As this is being written it hinges on the action of Robert Peel in 1848.
England lives in its history. It draws on it for purposes of the moment. It sometimes misrepresents it brazenly. But it is all kept there for use as a medium of thought. England mulls itself over. It knows itself. It is capable of purposeful action in the long term because it has memory.
There is living memory, and there is historical memory. In English culture the one blends in with the other. Living memory is historically shaded: there is no tabula rasa of a detached present.
In public life in Ireland today there is not even living memory. A short lifetime is too long to be remembered.
What use is memory anyway? All that needs to be known about the past—which is the whole of time up to yesterday, or the day before at most—is that it was dreadful and must be denounced, without being too mindful of what it is that is being denounced.
The past was a dreadful mistake, so why poison your mind with it?
Pleasant thoughts in the present are all that should occupy the mind.
Does Mary McAleese remember what she was yesterday?
She is now intent on abolishing the religion in which she was an activist not long ago.
Viewing what she was then from the vantage point of what she is in this fleeting moment, should she not denounce herself for having been a spiritual terrorist?
She now condemns the normal Catholic practice of two thousand years—and they were not only Catholic practices—in terms that used to be reserved for Communist Russia or Nazi Germany. Infant baptism is enslavement to a cult.
The child should be allowed to grow up without religion so that he (it?) can discover what its religion is.
There is an anecdote about the Emperor Charlemagne. He wondered what the natural human language was and he arranged for some children to be brought up without having any language imposed on them in order to discover what language would come out of them. (Of course there was none.)
Human beings come about by being immersed in customary practices from the moment of birth. If customary practices were not imposed on them, they would not become human beings. And there is no ground to suppose that there is any particular variety of customary practice that is particularly in tune with the infant's potential to become human.
The Irish in the 1950s and 1960s baptised their children, ate fish on Fridays, went to Mass on Sundays, made secret Confessions once a year, and took Communion occasionally according to an impressive ritual. That way of life was not experienced as oppressive. But a culture has now been generated which requires that it should be experienced retrospectively as having been oppressive.
Granting that the Irish were intolerably oppressed for a century and a half by a misogynistic, authoritarian, human-hating Roman Church—contemporary intolerance obliges us to grant that—where did this dreadful Church get the power to invade us and terrorise us into submission to its abhorrent doctrines and practices?
Stalin asked: How many Divisions has the Pope? The answer, of course, was, Not one!
William of Orange had many Divisions. And he had the support of the Pope of Rome. And he imposed an authoritarian Church on us by force of arms: the Anglican Church; the branch of the Church of England that was called the Church of Ireland. And that Anglican Church saw us as idolatrous savages, and it took upon itself the burden of oppressing and tormenting us into becoming civilised. (There was nothing paradoxical in that. It was the way of the world, and of the Reformationist world, that became a world force in the form of the British Empire, most of all.)
The Anglican Church monopolised military, political and economic power in Ireland for more than a century. And it failed utterly to gain purchase on the population beyond the limits of its monopolies. It had Trinity College on the site of a monastic foundation, and Tithes, and Estates, and Livings galore, and commissions in the Army, and a vast propaganda apparatus, but its impact on the idolatrous Irish was negligible beyond the sphere of physical exploitation.
The liberation of the Irish from Anglican thralldom began when the English Parliament bought out the exclusive Parliament of its Irish colony in 1800. Shorn of its own independent political power in Ireland, the Anglican colony that had refused to act as a centre of Irish national development began to wither.
A system of strict religious sectarianism in the governing of Ireland began when the Glorious Revolution of 1688 imposed itself on Ireland in 1690. For more than a century thereafter the Anglican Church was an apparatus of the Protestant State in the Protestant Kingdom of Ireland.
Various Protestant monopolies remained in being from 1801 to 1829, but the demolition by the British Parliament of the separate ad independent Protestant State in Ireland in 1800 increased the freedom of action of the Catholic population considerably.
Because Britain oppressed the Irish as Catholics, the Irish had to free themselves as Catholics. That was a necessity imposed by English sectarianising of politics.
Substantial Protestant monopolies remained in Ireland after Catholics were admitted to Parliament in 1829. These might conceivably have been tackled within British party politics if O'Connell—who had begun as an English Whig utilitarian—had taken the enfranchised Catholics into Whig politics. But he didn't. And it is not surprising, in the light of continuing Protestant saturation of English political rhetoric, that he didn't.
He transferred the momentum of the Catholic Emancipation movement into a national movement against the Union.
In the course of the next sixty years, tithes were abolished; the Anglican Church in Ireland was dis-Established, Local Government was made representative; and the Williamite land expropriation began to be phased out.
The Catholic Church—which was made a subversive institution of the populace by the terms of the Williamite/Hanoverian system—played a part in these developments, but it was not by any means the moving force in them.
And it was in common usage the Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic Church. It was always 'Roman' to Protestants because it was not nationalist like the Anglican Church. And yet, what made it most objectionable was that it actually was Irish nationalist and Whitehall attempts to get Rome to use its authority against its Irish nationalist tendency always failed.
The Anglican Church was a State institution directed by the Government. The Roman Church had no State to be an instrument of—not until it got the minuscule Vatican State in the 20th century. It was a cosmopolitan body made up of a great variety of peoples, bound by Treaties with many states, and having a great number of semi-autonomous Religious Orders within it. It was in no position to give instructions to its component parts and enforce them, as a State Church such as the Anglican might do.
In European states Roman spiritual authority over the local Catholic church was limited by Treaty (Concordat). In Ireland the Stuart monarchy was the political authority that was intermediary between the Church in Ireland and Rome. When the Stuarts were overthrown in 1688, Rome continued that relationship with the Stuart Pretenders.
It was really only in 1829 that the Catholic Church in Ireland became Roman, in the sense of coming directly under the authority of the Pope, without any intervening conditions imposed by the State.
In 1808 Henry Grattan, who had failed to persuade the Irish Parliament to be the centre of an authentic Irish national development, proposed at Westminster that Catholics should be admitted to Parliament, on the condition that the Government should have a veto on the appointment of Catholic Bishops. This would have meant that the Pope would not appoint priests to which Whitehall had political objections to be Bishops. There was nothing unusual in the proposal. It would have established normal relations between the Church in Ireland and Rome. The Irish Catholic Hierarchy had already agreed to it.
But the Dublin Catholic middle class rose up in protest against it. The measure was killed. The dispute amongst Catholics about it ran on into the 1820s. British politics became more aggressively Protestant with the development of the middle class franchise reform movement and would not soil its hands by having negotiations with Rome. And so, when it became necessary to admit Catholics to Parliament in 1829, it was done unconditionally.
It was not until twenty years later, with the appointment of Cardinal Cullen, that systematic streamlining of the Irish Church in accordance with the Roman ideal began. And against this there arose an anti-Cullen literature, and the lax practices that had developed under the Penal Laws continued in many areas until Vatican 2 in the 1960s.
Now, what power had Cullen to enforce these changes? Nothing but the power of public opinion. The 'Famine' had removed half the population and shocked the remaining half into purposeful activity with a view to survival. Survival required discipline, and Cullen's reforms were one of the means by which the population disciplined itself—and destroyed the great hopes that the Government placed on its engineered 'Famine'.
Strange as it must appear to Mary McAleese and Mary Lou McDonald, self-discipline can be a source of satisfaction.
Cardinal Cullen was not the agent of any external power. He brought no power with him, except the power of exhortation. His message was received more or less, here and there, according as the need of it was felt.
The social mechanism of Gaelic Ireland had been broken by repeated English conquest and then by the intentionally destructive action of the Penal Laws.
A writer in the Veto dispute, Theobald McKenna, who was Secretary of the Catholic Committee around 1790, when the Committee itself set limits to the authority of Rome, contributed some pamphlets in 1808 to the Veto controversy, as a Vetoist (meaning that he accepted that the British Government might veto Papal choices of Bishops). In one of them, Views Of The Catholic Question, he summed up in a vivid sentence the social condition to which the populace had been reduced by the action of the governing system: "We multiplied like the cattle on the coast of South America, by neglect and plenty".
The "plenty" was produced by the potato patch that kept body and soul together, and fed the pig who paid the rent.
"The potato", he wrote, "is probably an inadequate diet for a healthy and hard working man, but it answers well for that period of life in which there is no obligation to labour". And what purpose was there in labour under the rack-rent system? So the Irish bred rapidly in short generations.
The "neglect" was ensured by social surgery. The Army of the merged Irish/Norman nobility, that defied the Glorious Revolution, was finally bottled up in Limerick by the Williamites, and it agreed to take itself off to France and Austria in exchange for guarantees, quickly broken, that the new regime would be tolerant. The emergence of a Catholic middle class was prevented by law. The structure of the Church was criminalised. Land owned by Catholics could be "discovered" and seized by Protestants. Until 1760 there was an official presumption that the King had no Catholic subjects. In 1760 a new King agreed to receive a Catholic Petition of Loyalty but the Penal Laws continued to the ending of the Protestant independence of Ireland, and beyond.
Pearse, a century after McKenna, summed up the history of the 19th century as "The desperate attempt of a mob to realise itself as a nation". It was O'Connell who raised the social wreckage described by McKenna to the status of a mob.
England today does not want nationalist Ireland to have any historical sense of itself, and therefore it tells it that it is unhealthily obsessed with history and should drop it. And the demoralisation of Fianna Fail under the leadership of Jack Lynch, combined with a very effective English patronage system in Ireland, has made academia in Ireland comprehensively subordinate to English academic interest. (England is an effective democratic State of which its Universities form a part.)
The German philosopher, Schopenhauer analysed the world in terms of Will and Idea. He described music as an art which is a direct expression of the Will. And it seems today that Irish national will exists almost exclusively in music, and is bereft of ideas.
Intellect operates on national culture destructively. It is merely destructive. It does not modify what it criticises, leaving it still functional. The word "Humanist" is used, but the actual tendency is Nihilist.
There was a disagreement between Haughey and Conor Cruise O'Brien about Liberalism in the Sunday Press—a publication which has been destroyed Nihilistically. Haughey asserted that there could be no such thing as Liberalism as a general condition of social existence. He argued that O'Brien was presenting it as a substance when it could only be a mode of a substance. O'Brien's subsequent career bore out Haughey's criticism. It now seems to be conceded by the very few who think about such things in contemporary Ireland that O'Brien was a sham, though Haughey is not given the credit for seeing it when it was a live issue.
(Insofar as Liberalism ever existed as a substance it was as a name for laissez-faire capitalism. The Whig Party, after the 1832 Reform which enfranchised the capitalist middle classes, changed its name to the Liberal Party. And for about seventy years it stood, against the Tories, for unrestricted capitalist freedom.)
Erasmus is often referred to as a great European Humanist. But he was not a Humanist but a Catholic. His Humanism was a mode of his Catholicism, and it not deny that other modes were legitimate, and least of all did it try to detach the mode from the substance.
Humanism as a general system could only be a condition in which all impulses are given free play. That is not a practical possibility. And, if consistently applied to infants from the moment of birth, it would most likely put an end to the human adventure.
Humanism and Liberalism, erected into general systems, lead to Nihilism—to the Nihilism depicted by Turgenev, rather than that depicted by Oscar Wilde. Turgenev's Nihilist will take account of nothing but ascertainable fact. And there is very little of that in the cultures in which human nature—or human natures—have been created from time immemorial.
How does nationalist Ireland suddenly find itself on the brink of Nihilist emptiness—its ideologists do, at any rate? Is it all due to Charles Haughey?
Gene Kerrigan (a Sunday Independent columnist and a kind of Leftist), said a generation ago, when public opinion was still very much in tune with the Church, that there was no need to take issue with the Church because the development of globalist capitalism would overcome it. Well, he was right, wasn't he?
Advanced Capitalism requires abortion on demand, dissolution of the institution of marriage as it has existed throughout history, and the official abolition of the family as the basic unit of society and its replacement by the individual.
But that was predicted by Marx long ago, when the propagandists of Capitalism were accusing Socialism of undermining the family. He said that it was the spirit of Capitalism that would destroy the family, but he did not say it approvingly. The great change is that Socialists are now to the fore in driving this development.
In Ireland there was not a gradual adaptation over a long period to the requirements of advanced Capitalism. Finance Capitalism came suddenly, introduced by Haughey's minority Government, when the Taoiseach's Office became the State for a couple of years, while Haughey was being reviled by the media—especially venomously by the Irish Times—with the encouragement of members of all parties.
If Finance Capitalism is "progress", then Haughey brought Progress to late 20th century Ireland. And he did so amidst a hate campaign directed against him by the progressives. And then there was a lot of catching up to be done at breakneck speed.
The paragraph of the Constitution restricting abortion, which has now been repealed by referendum, was inserted by referendum not very long ago.
The Leader of Sinn Fein says that the paragraph that has now been repealed was wrong. Well, it was adopted democratically—and in fact rather more democratically than was its repeal.
It was democratically adopted, and then it was democratically repealed because a change of circumstances led to a change of opinion by the electorate. Was the electorate just as entitled to put it in as it was to take it out? Or is this a mater of absolute right and wrong, beyond the competence of a democratic electorate to decide?
In the North there is a national community that has been developing out of itself for four hundred years. This was possible because it began as a British colony, but was not part of the official Anglican Colony that was established as the Kingdom of Ireland by the Williamite conquest. It was not parasitic. It did not wither away under the Act of Union as the Ascendancy did, but it has declined somewhat under the devolution that was imposed on it by Westminster in 1921. It does not want abortion on demand—but Sinn Fein says it must have it whether it wants it or not.
There is a demand that it should be introduced by the Imperial Government, because it is right. A suggestion that the matter should be put to referendum in the North has been condemned on the same ground. The voters would probably reject abortion on demand, and they have no right to be wrong.
If a national electorate wants free abortion and wants the institution of marriage to be dissociated in principle from reproduction it is entitled to do so. But, if these things are done as the implementation of Universal Right, with the implication that a state which refuses them is a rogue state, that is another matter. It is the modern form of Imperialism. Militant humanism has already been used in justification of destructive invasions. And what used to be nationalist Ireland seems to be shaping itself to act as a spearpoint in the business.
England : Ireland : Popery. Editorial
The Atrocity Victims Pope Francis Forgot. Tim O'Sullivan (Letter to the Editor)
A Change To Birth Certs. (Report of Juliet Holmes Letter)
Irish Rights, Wrongs And Realities. Brendan Clifford
Vox Pat by Pat Maloney. Belloc; Irish Universities; Maureen O'Carroll; Gay Neighbours; Church for Sale; Deportations; Asylum-Seekers; 1 7 8 6; If You're Irish . . .; John Francis D'Alton; Evolution By Selection; Marian Anderson; Holidays! Spoiled Brats of Europe
A Grieve Observed. Stephen Richards (Part 2)
First World War Munitions Production—the Irish experience. Eamon Dyas
Solzhenitsyn's Two Centuries Together. The Derzhavin Memorandum . Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Alexander Dugin And The Russian Question. Part 10. Peter Brooke
Daniel O'Connell (Part 6) Jules Gondon's Biography. 1847. Cath y Winch (First English Translation)
Enthusiastic Sommetry! Manus O'Riordan
Re-Routing Old Injuries! Wilson John Haire (Poem)
The Veto Controversy by Brendan Clifford. An account of the fierce dispute among Irish Catholics, between 1808 and 1829, as to whether the appointment of Irish Bishops by the Pope should be subject to a degree of Government influence, as was generally the case elsewhere. Includes Thomas Moore’s Letter To The Roman Catholics Of Dublin (1810) and extracts from polemical writers on either side: J.B. Clinch, Dr. Dromgoole, Bp. Milner, Denys Scully, Rev. Charles O’Conor etc. 203pp.. €18, £15
Wolfe Tone: An Address To The People Of Ireland On The Present Important Crisis—1796. Also includes Walter Cox’s Supposed Speech Of Bonaparte To Irish Parliament (1811). Intro. by B. Clifford.. €6, £5
The Origin Of Irish Catholic-Nationalism, Selections From Walter Cox’s Irish Magazine: 1807-1815. Introduced and Edited by Brendan Clifford. 136pp. €14, £11.50