pageok
pageok
pageok
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Enjoy this version of "A Nation Once Again," voted the world's most popular song by BBC listeners.

This great and timeless song fills me with joy about nations such as Ireland, Israel, and the United States, which have won their independence, and with hope for Taiwan, which seeks to perfect its independence. May the great example of the Irish freedom fighters of 1916-21 (and in the centuries before) give strength to the all the opppressed people around the world--in Tibet, Darfur, and many other places--who still seek their right of self-determination, and to live in peace in the community of nations.

The Irish revolution was inspired by the American Revolution, and, as "A Nation Once Again" illustrates, by the brave Spartans at Thermopylae ("three hundred men") and by the Roman story of Horatio at the Bridge ("and three men"). "A Nation Once Again" was written by an Irish Protestant, showing that Irish nationalism at its best, is non-sectarian and inclusive, as the Proclamation of the Republic affirmed. The great liberation, from the Exodus to the present, is the common heritage and the common hope of all freedom-loving peoples. God Save Ireland, and God Bless America, "For, Freedom comes from God's right hand, And needs a Godly train."

Interlocutor (mail):
I've always wondered, and I ask this with no political ax to grind, how we should know when an independence movement is legitimate. I take your reference to "repressed people" to mean that their aspirations for independence are legitimate. I obviously agree that repression is a legitimate reason to desire independence in some circumstances, but I doubt that it's necessary or sufficient. NAMBLA may claim that pedophiles are repressed, but of course no respectable person believes they should be given their own country.

And I believe that the rebellions/insurrections/revolutions/independence movements that are discussed in the main post are legitimate. But how do we differentiate? For example, how do we decide (on objective grounds) that the South's call in the 1860s for a separate nation was illegitimate? (I don't support secession, or racial discrimination of any sort.) Or Chuck Norris's call for Texas to secede?

Is this a purely political issue, with the victor determining history? I'm sure there is a wealth of political science literature on this issue, and I would be truly grateful if fellow conspirators would point me in the right place. I just don't feel capable of evaluating the differences b/w these movements without turning to whether I like or don't like the particular movement.

FWIW, the same goes for the Chechnya situation, the issues in the Balkans, the issues in Finland, the issues in Canada, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Kashmir — not that they're all the same, but I feel like I lack an objective, analytical framework for analyzing all of them consistently. I am grateful for any suggestions.
3.18.2009 2:16am
Jay:
At what point in the pre-British-rule past was Ireland "a nation?"
3.18.2009 2:29am
kdonovan:
Jay - I would say it was a nation but rarely if ever a (unified) state - a people united by language, religion, culture, etc. Also my understanding is that up until Cromwell (and after the Restoration for a while) Ireland was governed as a kingdom that was a separate legal entity from England (whose king was the same person) - it had its own army, courts, parliament, etc., albeit one that was politically subordinate to England.

Kevin
3.18.2009 5:32am
kdonovan:
Interlocutor - I think the answer to when an independence movement is legitimate comes from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence (and the Continental Congress's diplomacy) - when a group can convince the rest of the world that they ought to be independent for reasons of both morality and geopolitics. Not a very satisfactory answer from your questions' POV but any objective answer is just a rationalization disguising the sordid reality of international politics.
3.18.2009 5:39am
Wallace:

At what point in the pre-British-rule past was Ireland "a nation?"


In a BBC poll, this was voted the best question not to ask in a Belfast pub.
3.18.2009 8:11am
Asal_Eater:
It's an open question as to when anywhere was a nation: according to Eugen Weber, for example (Peasants into Frenchmen), France didn't really become one until the 1850s or thereabouts. But Ireland was certainly a political entity with a High King, Brian Boru, at the time of the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. That solidly predates the arrival of the first Normans from Wales in 1169.
3.18.2009 9:32am
Joe T Guest:
The Irish revolution was equally inspired by the French Revolution. See, e.g. Wolfe Tone.
3.18.2009 10:23am
Guestsubciter:
Timestamp?
3.18.2009 10:32am
ShelbyC:

At what point in the pre-British-rule past was Ireland "a nation?"



They've always been a "nation" in the sociological sense


how we should know when an independence movement is legitimate.


Well, if a group wants to succeed because the main political body wants to prevent them from owning their fellow countrymen, it's probably not legitimate.
3.18.2009 11:00am
Joe McDermott (mail):
Are the Irish really ready for self-governance?
3.18.2009 11:02am
Interlocutor (mail):
ShelbyC,

I agree. I tried to make that clear in my original comment. I wasn't intending to advocate moral relativism in an attempt to justify southern secession. I just think there must be a better answer than "we don't like those people, so their decision is illegitimate, but if we liked them we'd celebrate it."


kdonovan - I agree that's right as a practical matter, and i appreciate your response. I was just hoping there was a more objective approach that someone had advocated at some point.
3.18.2009 11:14am
DangerMouse:
Happy Saint Patrick's day? You mean Shamrock Day. The libs want to change the name of this holiday also, because it's "offensive."
3.18.2009 12:20pm
Bama 1L:
I, too, celebrate St. Patrick's Day as an anti-imperialist holiday. But Interlocutor raises a good point.

Suppose I rewrote the first sentence of the post as:

This great and timeless song fills me with joy about nations such as Ireland, China, and the United States, which have won their independence, and with hope for Palestine, which seeks to perfect its independence.


(China being understood to have won its independence from nineteenth- and twentieth-century foreign imperialists and their lackeys.)

I don't mean to start an drawn-out argument on the merits of particular anti-imperialist causes. But I do wonder how you choose. To pick on the glaring example once more, Israel is widely viewed as an imperialist power occupying Palestine and a continuator of British, Turkish, and Crusader imperialism. I am not going to defend that view of history because it's quite deficient, i.e., "wrong," but that's what an awful lot of people think.

Oh, and I hope we can all agree that the Wolfe Tones rock!
3.18.2009 12:29pm
Richard A. (mail):
At that point in the pre-British past was Great Britain a nation?
3.18.2009 12:36pm
DG:
{ To pick on the glaring example once more, Israel is widely viewed as an imperialist power occupying Palestine and a continuator of British, Turkish, and Crusader imperialism.}

Bama 1L - Once again, my choice of Auburn is vindicated. People can say whatever silly things they want. On the VC the bloggers get to give their opinions. While the above quote is both offensive and historically inaccurate, so if your example of China - they always had a state, albeit a weak one for several centuries. Of course, that interregnum was brief compared to the long history of the Chinese nation-state.
3.18.2009 12:39pm
Seamus (mail):
I first heard that song in 1964, when "Paul's grandfather" defiantly sang a line from the refrain to the cops at the police station in the Beatles' movie "A Hard Day's Night." (The grandfather, a self-styled "a soldier of the Republic," is convinced that the policemen are "villians" with "fists like mature hams for pounding poor defenseless lads," not to mention "the kidney punch and the rabbit clout, the third degree and the size twelve boot ankle tap." ) Good times.
3.18.2009 12:40pm
Nick P.:
Richard A.

Could you unpack that a bit? I know you are shooting for a snarky response to Jay, but it just looks like gibberish to me.
3.18.2009 1:25pm
Ken Arromdee:
To pick on the glaring example once more, Israel is widely viewed as an imperialist power occupying Palestine and a continuator of British, Turkish, and Crusader imperialism.

I think the conditions under which it's legitimate to occupy a country are different from the conditions under which it's legitimate to annex one (or to keep one as part of your territory).

As for the Confederacy, I would say that the South had a right to become a country but the North had a right to invade countries for human rights reasons, so it could legitimately invade the South to end slavery. If the South renounces slavery and still wants to be independent afterwards, let it.
3.18.2009 1:46pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Here's another song for the day, a bit more to my liking. Written by Phil Colclough, performed by Dick Gaughan (here), Mark Black, and others...

Cheers,
3.18.2009 2:29pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
@ DangerMouse,

I'd be glad to celebrate Shamrock Day, but St. Patrick's Day doesn't do much for me, not being interested in Catholic Saints in any way, shape or form.

HGB
3.18.2009 3:32pm
Richard A. (mail):
Sorry, that was a typo. It should have been:

At what point in the pre-British past was Great Britain a nation?
3.18.2009 4:53pm
Frater Plotter:
As for the Confederacy, I would say that the South had a right to become a country but the North had a right to invade countries for human rights reasons, so it could legitimately invade the South to end slavery.
But the express motivation of the North in entering the war was to maintain the Union, not to end slavery. Lincoln expressly disavowed the idea of invading the South to end slavery in his first inaugural address.
3.18.2009 5:00pm
Nick P.:
I still don't get it (and I hadn't noticed the typo).

...or maybe I do. Is your point that Ireland is part of the British Isles, so talking about a pre-British past for Ireland is as silly as talking about a pre-British past for Great Britain?

Fair enough, I suppose, but "pre-British-rule" was clearly referring to rule by government based in Great Britain. In the context of a song entitled "A Nation Once Again," it's a meaningful question to ask about Ireland but doesn't make much sense when applied to Great Britain.
3.18.2009 5:09pm
DangerMouse:
HGB,

Get your own holiday. Don't crib off of others.
3.18.2009 5:26pm
anotherpsychdoc (mail):
Nice links and Merry Christmas to HGB. The Michael Collins story leaves me proud of his manhood and a pacifist. Boxed in, he would, I wish, have come to the US like so many others. The saving grace for the viewer is that scar on his chin; suggests he led with it. (And, HGB, the better Jesus would have gone to Greece. The conversations might have been more intellectual).
3.18.2009 8:13pm
New Pseudonym:

"A Nation Once Again" was written by an Irish Protestant, showing that Irish nationalism at its best, is non-sectarian

Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmett, the Great Liberator, Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal. Protestant patriots have a prominent place in Ireland's history. The Protestant v. Catholic conflict is a product of the political propaganda of Randolph Churchill and his attempt to retain the industrial north for England against the inevitable independence of Ireland at the end of the 19th century.

Sinn Fein!
3.18.2009 9:09pm
iolanthe (mail):
A popular slogan among fenian (northern) veterans of the civl war was apparently "Now that the union's done and sealed for ever, we now have a union still to sever." They obviously recognised the incongruity of preventing the South from going its own way while supporting the Irish doing the same. How they reconciled this is not clear, perhaps both causes seemed so obviously right as not to require justification.
3.18.2009 9:28pm
cognitis:
Rome instituted Laws, Municipalities, Imperial Government in Britannia having neglected Scotland and Ireland; Rome introduced writing to few British aborigines in order to use them in administering Roman institutions, and it thereby converted aboriginal British tribes into imperial Roman citizens. Irish and Scottish aborigines, neglected by Rome and thus defective in civilization, remained barbarians until the Norman conquest. The time between the Roman occupation and the Norman conquest defines in part today's various British cultures.
3.18.2009 9:43pm
Ken Arromdee:
But the express motivation of the North in entering the war was to maintain the Union, not to end slavery. Lincoln expressly disavowed the idea of invading the South to end slavery in his first inaugural address.

Then in the absence of the slavery issue, the North didn't have a legitimate reason to take over the South.

(Of course, Lincoln may have wanted to end slavery and just couldn't say it in that political climate.)
3.18.2009 10:12pm
Richard A. (mail):
My point was that Britain is not a nation at all, in the literal sense deriving from the etymology of the word "nation" and its ties to the notion of a common birth. It is a state the Romans cobbled together, then including the nations of England and Wales, and later after the Romans left, Scotland and Ireland.

In other words, Ireland was and is much more of a nation than Great Britain, though not quite as successful a state, I'll grant. This of course is obvious, since Britain at times included such far-flung areas as Australia and the American colonies, which could not fit into any possible definition of a nation, though they were indeed part of a state.
3.19.2009 1:14am
Latinist:
the Roman story of Horatio at the Bridge

Is that the one where he's defending the bridge, and then he sees the ghost of Hamlet's father in the middle of the Etruscan army?
3.19.2009 11:08am
Brendanav (mail):
"I'd be glad to celebrate Shamrock Day, but St. Patrick's Day doesn't do much for me, not being interested in Catholic Saints in any way, shape or form.
HGB"


Then stay home, lad. you won't be missed.
3.19.2009 5:15pm
Don Meaker (mail):
I wonder if the Horatio story about the Romans was a propaganda story to paint the Romans (who could stand victoriously with 3 men) as a Century better than the Spartans with 300. Livius' linking Rome with Troy would then be of a piece with the story of Horatio.

Any historians know? The Romans seemed to have a cultural inferiority complex vs. the Greeks, and like many short men, tried to over compensated.
3.19.2009 9:15pm
Don Meaker (mail):
The US government made war to prevent the south from rebelling. The South contributed over 50 regiments to the cause of Union. The southern rebels who started the war made rebellion in an attempt to make the world safe for slavery. That is a different goal than that of the very brave southern soldiers. The southern rebels were so insecure in their expectation of southern support for rebellion, that they resorted immediately to conscription, without which the US government was able to fight for years.

Again the 50 southern regiments that fought for the US government were all volunteers. Consider that quietly.
3.19.2009 9:26pm
TGGP (mail) (www):
My father used to sympathize with the IRA and named me after a character in an Irish novel killed by the hated English, so I'm allowed to say that there's nothing at all admirable in the murderous Irish independence movement. I can only hope in the future we'll regard them as just another deranged nationalist movement that afflicted the 19th and 20th century.

I can't even say I think the American war of independence was a good thing.
3.20.2009 12:08am

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.