Athol Books Magazine Articles


All Articles
Articles By Author
Articles By Magazine
Articles By Subject
Full Text Search

Athol Books

Aubane Historical Society
The Heresiarch Website
Athol Books Online Sales
Athol Books Home Page
Archive Of Articles From Church & State
Archive Of Editorials From Church & State
Archive Of Articles From Irish Political Review
Archive Of Editorials From Irish Political Review
Belfast Historical & Educational Society
Athol Books Secure Online Sales

Other Sites

Irish Writer Desmond Fennell
The Bevin Society
David Morrison's Website

Subscribe Securely To
Athol Books Magazines

Church & State (Print) Church & State (Digital)
Irish Foreign Affairs (Print) Irish Foreign Affairs (Digital)
Irish Political Review (Print) Irish Political Review (Digital)
Labour & Trade Union Review (Print)
From: Church & State: Articles
Date: January, 2021
By: Angela Clifford

Nation-Building? Editorial

[part of the editorial:]

President Biden, when carrying through President Trump's agreement with the Taliban to withdraw the American Army from Afghanistan, said that the United States should stop trying to re-make other peoples in the American image.

Re-making other peoples in order to make them fit neatly into the order of the world as you wish it to be, is called nation-building. A more accurate name for it would be cultural genocide.

Five years after the United States invaded Afghanistan, the Rand Security Research Division published "The Beginner's Guide To Nation-Building" [!]. A more accurate name for it would be "To Cultural Genocide". It was a brilliant notion: a set of Leggo instructions for the building of standardised human collectives that would be called nations, and that would fit together like a dream.

End Of History?
About fifteen years before that, an American intellectual with a Japanese name published a book that might have been called The End Of History but wasn't quite [Francis Fukuyama: The End Of History And The Last Man]. Its message was that, with the United States having won the World Cold War and the Soviet Union collapsing, the world would fall naturally into a set of contentedly liberal capitalist states or societies in which nothing much would happen. He announced that the era of the Last Men had arrived.

It would be a soporific world—the kind of world apparently envisaged as an ideal by Fergal Keane—the BBC one, who does international affairs for it. But the author must not have been familiar with Ferghal Keane, because the example he gives is the Last Men as depicted by Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra:

"They are clever and know all that hath come to pass, so that there is no end of mockery. They quarrel yet, but are soon reconciled—lest their stomachs turn.
"They have little lusts for the day and little lusts for the night: but they have regard for health.
"We have discovered happiness, say the last Men, and they blink…"

But it didn't happen. There was a great campaign to replace tobacco with cocaine but the world did not become Lotus Land—a world envisaged by Tennyson before Nietzsche—a world "in which it seemed always afternoon".

A Historical View
History has not ended, except for the time being in the Irish Free State under the influence of Professors Dermot Keogh and John A. Murphy of Cork University and their political protégé, Micheál Martin.
Joyce is famous for saying that history was a nightmare from which he was trying to awake. Wake up to what? Lotus Land!
History is time. Time is awareness of the succession of events. The alternative to time is Eternity. Eternity seems to be a condition of unchanging contentedness in which nothing happens. The world of the Beatles' song, Imagine!

Joyce escaped to Trieste, an out-of-the-way place in the Hapsburg Empire which seemed to get left behind when Britain broke up the Hapsburg Empire in 1919 and re-made it into a series of nominal nation-states with inadequate national foundations, which were compelled to engage in frantic nationalist development in order to catch up with their premature formation into nation-states.
In the obscurity of Trieste, Joyce mulled over—in increasingly subjectivist language—an instant in the life of the Jesuit-educated stratum of the Dublin middle-class at the moment when he left. That was his Eternity—his escape from history. But history continued without him. It did not feel the lack of him. And presumably he was content to be out of it.

A book was published a few years ago with the anti-Joycean title, Exit Into History. It was about Eastern Europe in recent times. The title was so brilliant that one was disinclined to read the book lest it would not live up to it.

Europe, by and large, became fascist after 1918 in order to keep itself going amid the wreckage brought about by the totalitarian war fought by Britain against Germany. (The British war method was described as totalitarian by the architect of the British Welfare State, Lord Beveridge, in 1939 when another war of the same kind was in preparation.

Fascism was the means by which capitalist civilisation was saved from Communism in the 1920s and 1930s. Winston Churchill said so—and he must have known, mustn't he?

By 1939 Britain judged that Fascism had saved Europe too well from Communism. Europe had become Germanic and Germany was back in business as a rival, so Britain made war on it in alliance with the embers of Republican France.
The British and French armies were routed in the first battle. France was occupied as a direct result of losing the War it had declared, and it made a settlement with Germany. Britain, made secure by its naval dominance of the world, refused to make a settlement, and it condemned France for settling, and made war on it. The Franco/German settlement could not be put into effect while Britain refused to settle, and spawned sabotage in France.
Britain continued the state of war without any prospect of winning it. It nibbled at the edges by means of the Navy and it did some bombing in order to keep Europe in an unsettled condition. It appealed to the United States to come and help it—in reality, to take over from it. The US, remembering the travesty of a settlement made by Britain in 1919, took no heed.

It is, in any case, highly doubtful that the US could in 1941 have done what it did in 1944.

The only realistic alternative to making a settlement with Germany—of "surrendering", in the War it itself had launched, was the British way of putting it—lay in a German/Russian War.
The German Generals reckoned that Britain would settle promptly if the Russian possibility was scotched. It was assumed that this could be done easily, as it was generally agreed that Stalin—by means of senseless purges of the officer corps of the Red Army—had undermined its fighting powers.
So Communist Russia was invaded, and was seized upon by Britain as its Saviour—until it drove through to Berlin in 1945, and was denounced as the basic enemy of all civilisation.

In 1940, when Britain was pleading with the US to come back and save it from the consequences of its own actions—to take up again where it left off in disgust in 1920—a demand was raised for a Union (or a re-union) of America and Britain: an ending of the separation of 1783. It met with little response in either Britain or America. In one of its publications, Union Now, the following appears:

"Democracy gives a people greater enduring and inventive powers and makes for better morale than does autocracy, because it gives each citizen a direct and equal interest in the war. It is his war, not his ruler's war…
"Conversely, autocracy to win must make its initial blows decisive… It must gamble to win in a war's early period. For then it is at its peak because of its very nature: its disregard for human life and honour, its ruthlessness and terrorism, its secrecy and concentrated power. Dictatorship is a sprinter, not a distance runner, and it must keep the race short if it is to win" (C.K. Street, Union Now With Britain. 1941, p139).

That is certainly the rationalism of the matter, on the assumption that democracy's advertisements of itself expressed the realities of things. But it did not prove to be the case.
The mass of the people were far more actively engaged in the Fascist and Communist systems than they were in the capitalist systems that were run politically in the medium of party conflict that was held to be the democratic norm.
. . .