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|From: Irish Political Review: Editorials|
|Date: October, 2018|
Ideology And State
|The Pope came and his presence was not ignored as the State wished it to be. The backwardness of the country—the heart of the country?—came out to welcome him. The head of the country had nothing memorable to say about it.
The Taoiseach said that the relationship of Church and State must be different in future from what it has been in the past. In fact, there is no relationship between Church and State. The Church is independent of the State. O'Connell's ideal of "a free Church in a free State" was realised when the Irish state was formed.
A change in the relationship of Church and State, therefore, could only be brought about by the establishment of a connection between them. And, in practice, in present circumstances, it could only be a relationship which subordinated the Church to the State in some way.
The freedom of the Church from all connection with the State in Ireland made Ireland exceptional in Europe. The Christian era began in reality, not in AD 1, but in AD 313 when the Roman Empire accepted Christianity, with it subsequently becoming the State religion, and Christianity shaped itself to the structures and needs of the State. That is how things remained for twelve centuries. And, when England seceded from Roman Christianity, it formed its own Christianity to be a subordinate instrument of its new Imperial State.
We commented about 45 years ago on the anomalous position of the Catholic Church in the Irish State and suggested that it might be regularised by means of a Concordat which would establish a connection between them. The Church did not welcome the suggestion. Neither did the furtive anti-clerical element that hoped that the Church would somehow collapse and did not want there to be any State support around it to hamper its fall. And so it remained a Church entirely free of the State.
Ex-President and ex-Catholic Mary McAleese reveals that, when she was a very Catholic President, the suggestion of a Concordat was raised by the Church. She said nothing about it in public at the time. Presumably in her extreme Romanism then she wished to keep the Church free from State shackles. And presumably she reveals it now as a barb to throw at Rome.
The proposal had practical relevance when the she kept silent about it. Today it has none. The political parties, and such intelligentsia as there is, are all intent on trampling the Roman Church in Ireland into the dust, and they even have the ambition of striking at it in the Vatican too, on the pretext that the Vatican was responsible for clerical sex abuse in Ireland.
The only foundation for the position of the Catholic Church in Irish life was the opinion of the people.
The Catholic Church held no feudal tracts of land that enabled it to dictate terms of life to a dependent populace. It was the Protestant Church that was in that position for centuries.
The Catholic Church held no privileged position within the structure of state that enabled it to disfranchise the populace in national or Municipal affairs. That too was the Protestant Church.
All the laws that exerted oppression on the ground of religion in Ireland were Protestant laws—not just laws serving Protestant interests, but laws imposed by the official Protestant Church which was part of the Legislature. The laws against homosexuality, for which the Taoiseach recently made an apology, were Protestant laws. And the Poor Law system, under which the secular authority enlisted convents to fill gaps in secular state provision, was Protestant—the English State, which governed Ireland for centuries, and bequeathed its basic structure to it when leaving, being Protestant.
So why is the Pope so hated, and why is so much of the Protestant history of Ireland attributed to him? We take it that the reason is that what Pearse called The Murder Machine—the educational system. Irish History was abolished by Fianna Fail under Jack Lynch and Patrick Hillery in the 1970s. The 'Troubles' in the North were blamed on it, instead of on the undemocratic system of government that was conferred on the North by Britain, and the re-education of nationalist Ireland was put in the hands of Oxford and Cambridge.
An eminent Irish academic, Professor Crotty, declared that Irish academic history was bankrupt and appealed to the British ruling class to come back and show the Irish how to think. (See his article in the London Times, Eire: A Land Where Emigrants Are Born, which was reproduced in Irish Political Review in February 2012, along with commentary by Brendan Clifford and John Martin.) Oxbridge could hardly refuse The Murder Machine was back in business, and more destructively than in Redmond's time. And Professor Crotty helped the work along by founding the Irish Sovereignty Movement as an anti-European movement.
There has been only one Irish Government since the 1960s that was informed by Irish interest as seen in the light of Irish history. That was the universally-hated government of Charles Haughey. One begins to wonder in hindsight whether it was a mirage! It was a minority Government, condemned by all the established organs of national opinion, but it shifted the state onto the financial track along which it has evolved ever since.
The state now exists merely because it exists. If it did not exist, a will to bring it into existence would not cause it to exist. It was made by others in the past, which is another country. It is clearly felt by many of its contemporary functionaries to be a burden—an obstacle. John Bruton is unusual only in giving frank expression to this feeling.
It exists. It was taken into the EU along with Britain. Britain is leaving the EU, but the EU treats Ireland as if it had not been an appendage of Britain in European affairs for forty years (apart from the Haughey interlude). It is recognised as a competent state with interests of its own which it is capable of attending to. And, like the beggar who finds himself recognised as a Lord at the beginning of The Taming Of The Shrew, it begins to think that it must must be what it is recognised as being.
And so, because it has the form of a state, it will probably be obliged to re-acquire the substance of a state if Brexit goes through. There is no enthusiasm for it, but only the tail-end of Professor Crotty's Anglophile Sovereignty Movement has come out against with an Irexit policy.
The Pope came, provoking waves of hatred amongst the enlightened. He was welcomed by the ignorant mass—by what in the French Revolution, and also in the Russian, were known as the "former people"—people who should have been conjured away by the Spirit Of The Age, but somehow haven't been.
The only incident worth recalling is an interview on BBC's Newsnight with the Bishop of Derry, Dónal McKeown. The singer, Mary Coughlan, appeared with him and in effect demanded the abolition of the Vatican, and could not bend her mind to any lesser reform.
The Bishop agreed that there was a lot of anguish about. It was "part of a bigger picture". And he set out the bigger picture:
"The ideology of any society is the ideology of the ruling class, as old Karl Marx said. There's a new ruling class in place. And clearly a new ideology in place. And all the scandals have clearly contributed to the dominance of that new ideology, and to the huge embarrassment and humiliation of the Church in many quarters. That I don't think is a bad thing. It may be painful but I don't regret that happening at all" (25.8.18).
That's the voice of the free Church in the free State—the Church that does not live with the assistance of any institutional power of State but by the influence which it can exert on popular opinion by use of its wits.
The change of ruling class is an interesting way of putting it. The old ruling class which is being superseded is the property-owning democracy of the countryside, which sustained the independence movement for about three generations after the 1890s. It existed in an easy relationship with the Church, both supporting it and controlling it.
The rural population was then the majority population. It existed in small property units. There were no great propertyless masses. The new system is that of capitalism in the cities, predominantly Dublin, where the populace consists of proletarian masses. Dublin is a city of the colonial aristocracy of the 18th century that was abandoned when the aristocracy moved to London along with its Parliament after 1801, and the Church tried to fill the vacuum left by the aristocracy. The urban relationship of church and people was essentially different from the rural relationship. And Dublin never developed the form of secular politics appropriate to a large city.
The ideology of the new system is an ideology of scandal. There is no proposal for a functional relationship with the Church. The Church is to be undermined by sensationalising the scandals that proliferated because of the abnormal condition of Dublin as a capital city.
Gene Kerrigan said long ago that monopoly capitalism would destroy the Church, so there was no need for a reformist engagement with it. The implication of this is that Christianity is to be ground into the dust, leaving nothing in its place. What is indicated is an era of disintegrating ideological drift.
We have seen no sign of interest in the Emperor Julian, as in other countries where Christianity became suspect. Julian was the nephew of Constantine who made Christianity the established religion of Europe. Julian published a penetrating critique of Christianity and used his power to dis-establish it and give renewed currency to the religion which it displaced. He was killed soon after beginning the work, but it seems doubtful that he could ever have succeeded.
We are sure that the Bishop of Derry is culturally connected with Europe right back to its origins with Constantine and Julian. Anti-Catholic Dublin is just disconnected and resentful—just as Pat Murphy described it sixty years ago, when it carried on a furtive existence in a few snugs. Its entry into the Corridors of Power has not changed it much.
Ideology And State. Editorial
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Fault Lines In Syriza And Greek National Development. Dave Alvey
Readers' Letters: Was The 'Great War' China's War? Why Were Chinese Workers Dying In Europe? Donal Kennedy
Anti-Semitism! David Morrison
Es Ahora. Julianne Herlihy: Clair Wills And The Story She Tells (Part 4)
Some Reminiscences. Jack Lane
Industrial Schools And Welfare Benefits In Britain And Northern Ireland. Wilson John Haire
Palestinian And Kuwaiti Rights Discussed At A Dublin Meeting. Dave Alvey
The Lemass/DeV Defiance Of Britain's Wartime Starvation Threat. Manus O'Riordan (Lemass, Part 3)
September Brexit Summary. Dave Alvey
The Russian Revolution. Brendan Clifford (100th Anniversary, Part 10)
Andy's Midnight Runners. Lt. Col. John Morgan (retd.)
Biteback: Why Not A Centenary General Election This December? Dr. Brian P Murphy osb
Does It Stack Up? Michael Stack (Normans in Ireland; Cormac Mac Airt; Censorship and Revisionism)
Labour Comment: 100 Years Ago! 'Armistice' Centenary