|Something that calls itself humanism, or humanitarianism, is the ideology of post-Christian England, and therefore of post-Christian Ireland. Ireland has become a follow-on from England, and it is therefore post-Christian too. It is ill at ease with the things about itself that are not English.
Would-be Senator Martin Mansergh who, as adviser to Taoiseachs helped Fianna Fail along the path to ruin, has declared that England is not a foreign country. And the Sunday Independent has proposed that Ireland should remedy the mistake its electors made in 1918 by applying for re-admission to the United Kingdom.
Regardless of all of this, England is a foreign country, and Ireland is never less English that when it is apeing England. To anyone who appreciates what England is, Irish mimicry of it is not impressive. It is embarrassing.
In its post-Christianity, Ireland is not post its own Christianity. It is post-English Christianity. It is post a Christianity that never struck root here, despite the help of centuries of Penal Laws. Its humanism is a blurred echo of the purposeful English post-Christian humanism. The vital forces of English life are beyond its comprehension. It just tags along.
England is a post-Christian country indelibly marked by its own Christianity—by the religious frenzy that overtook it around four hundred years ago. It broke with Rome strictly for reasons of State—the absolute Tudor State that failed to breed an heir to its Crown and broke with the Pope because his own difficulties at the time did not allow him to dissolve Henry's marriage so that he might try again with a new wife.
The casual break with Rome led to the suppression of the Roman religion for ongoing reasons of State, and the State left the middle class without a religion. Over a couple of generations the middle class made up its own religion in a free and direct relationship with the Bible. And the religion it made up was, of course, Millenarian.
English Christianity was Millenarian. And so, therefore, is post-Christian English humanism.
Jesus said he was going to come back again and establish universal uniformity as a preliminary to bringing the world to an end. The duty of Christians, therefore, was to begin the work of establishing universal uniformity in preparation for the Second Coming.
Last year Fintan O'Toole of the Irish Times discovered Captain Rock. He was shocked. And he was appalled when he was told a little Millenarian cult sprang up among the revolting Rockite peasants in the Cork-Limerick borderland for a couple of years in the early 1820s. It explained to him what is wrong with Ireland.
(Fintan lives in a permanent condition of moral shock. It is what he is paid for.)
Millenarianism is Protestant. One could almost say it is English Protestant. If there actually was a Millenarian cult among those who tried to improve their lot by agrarian terrorism in the early 1820s, it was mushroom growth, and if it was here today it was gone tomorrow. Serious and durable Millenarianism in Ireland occurred in the Belfast middle class, and also in strata of the Dublin Protestant middle class. Belfast was a Millenarian city for a generation around 1800.
The greatest expression of religious enthusiasm ever seen in Ireland happened in Protestant Ulster in 1859. It is an event that Southern historians, authentic or revisionist, take no notice of, but Protestant Ulster is still marked by it, and is scarcely comprehensible without it. If it was not formally Millenarian, it was next door to it.
Millenarianism, and the Protestantism that generates it, assumes that the world is wrong, that it needs to be saved, and that the saving of it will bring it to an end, or will accompany its ending. The ways that the world managed to exist, and make people contented with it, during the uncountable ages before Calvin read the Gospels, are things to be got rid of. Tradition is bad: authority based on tradition is abominable.
Catholicism is—or was until very recently—a religion that carried a welter of traditions along with it, and was guided by an authority based on tradition. The baggage that it carries with it goes back to the Roman Empire and beyond. Jesus has his place in it, but only his place. It does not believe in the Second Coming, but does not repudiate it either. It does not prohibit Millenarian beliefs, but it stamps on them when they threaten to run loose. It is a religion of an ongoing world. In a world of religions, it is a normal religion.
English Christianity—the Christianity that England produced in the course of making itself what it is—is a rogue religion produced by a rogue State. It is absolutely intolerant of the diversity of the world and is committed to ending it by means of imposed uniformity. And who will impose this uniformity? Who else sees such a thing as the purpose of its existence? England is still in the business of saving the world, but it now relies on its Puritan offspring across the Ocean to do the heavy crushing.
The 1688 compromise that proved to be world conquering established a modus vivendi between a sceptical but ambitious gentry and an essentially Millenarian populace. Neither would have had much effect on its own—the scepticism would have been powerless and the Millenarianism brainless. It was the combination that was deadly.
The two elements meshed and yet remained distinct. The scepticism had to manipulate and direct the enthusiasm. It became impossible to tell whether the gentry believed what they said or were saying it for effect. And so it remains.
Post-Christian humanism is Imperialist humanitarian military interventionism, whose purpose is to save the world by making it uniform after a fashion which is serviceable to those who are saving it.
Humanism in general—abstract humanism—has no actual content. There is no one way of living, no particular culture, that follows inexorably from human existence. There are a great many ways of being human. That is something that Catholicism had at least some appreciation of, and therefore was not exterminationist. But an acceptance that there are many ways of being human, and that the world is quite capable of going on without being saved, does not tend to generate fanaticism. And it seems that the world is in for another bout of being saved by the fanaticism generated in England four centuries ago. And, if it happens to be destroyed in the course of being saved, that would not be out of keeping with the Millenarian vision.
Vox Pat: (Two Protestant Leaders Elected; The European Court Of Human Rights; Bishop Lucey; Pope Benedict; Ritchie Ryan Recants; A Convent In Belfast; New York's Mayor; Darwin Day; Shavianism; Father Feeney; Abbot Hederman)
Le hAis na Siúrach
Eoghan Ruadh Ó Súilleabháin
The Great Eoghan Ruadh (Part 3)
Séamas Ó Domhnaill
My New Curate (Canon Sheehan)
Introduction by Séamas Ó Domhnaill
The Trinity College Estates (Part 2 of Trinity, Its Works & Pomps)
The Vichy Trial Of 1942 At Riom
1611: Style And Substance
The Book Of The People
War And Greed
The Self-Confidence Of The Gaels
Pogrom. It's A Wild Life In Mesopotamia
Wilson John Haire (Poems)
Evolving From Better To Worse
A Scientific Digression (1) (Politics Of Darwinism, Part 4)