Monday, August 18, 2003

An Obituary To Ireland

'If Ireland is to become a new Ireland she must first become European', said James Joyce in exiles. Many other travails await the country as she creeps out of her comfortable but decrepit slumber. She is so desperate in many ways, blind to social causes save golf club socials, and depoliticised and antipathetic to the point of non-existence. Ireland, Connolly's 'mix of chemicals', has lost itself, lost its way, and fallen victim to the global greed bug.

Europe is the great socialist experiment. Not traditionally left wing, nor indeed centrist, its driving force has always (until recent times, at least) been a truly ideological common good. Forged in the aftermath of war and terrible conflict, ideology was elevated in a desperate politic, and an anxious people. Europe needed leadership away from the awful past and into a future that was replete with compromise, but far more promising than the past. Its time has past, the war is long forgotten, and socialism has been replaced by aggressive ambition, most acutely represented in the accession states.

In typically simplistic American style, the ‘New Europe’ label could easily have been the ‘New America’, just as America was once upon a time Europe’s ‘New World’. It is a place apart, yet the same. It will be colonized. Indeed, America was Europeanised so that some Americans post colonization could well have called themselves more European than the Europeans themselves. They became what Europe might have been but for the albatross of legacy, or from another perspective they developed what Europe’s history had saved it from. They became rich - wildly rich, exploiting the land, and being opportunistic. Defending their stakeholdings from marauding bandits and Indians (sic), the New Europeans of the 18th and 19th centuries developed plantations and businesses, owned property and livestock. They were not subservient to a king, nor did they acknowledge a social order (the white folks in any case – slavery is a whole other thing).

Europe, in Joyce’s time, was aristocratic, socially stratified and orderly. Sure, there were wars and violent uprisings, but these were merely a political extension, things that were necessary. Ireland needed to join that order of nations, to join that grouping, aligning herself with an acceptable if somewhat uncoordinated order. And now, having joined that order, Ireland finds herself a part of the New Europe. Ireland is New Europe, supporting the US for political expediency, while doffing the cap to beef trading nations like France (and Iraq, until recently). Supping with Germany to maximize CAP handouts and voting rights, while welcoming Poland as a new and bright star from the east. Ireland has become European, New European, and American. Ireland, the political whore, has betrayed herself and her people. She is dead now.

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