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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: .. ‘Irish writer’ normally means a writer of fiction.. Ireland loves fiction.. An Irish writer who engages his mind creatively with reality is a rarity, and most of the few who do so emigrate or die frustrated.. Uniquely in Europe, Irish magazine shops do not offer a home-produced magazine of ideas.. There are plenty of ideas about the contemporary West in my new book.. Third Stroke Did It: The Staggered End of European Civilisation.. In the title essay, I argue that, after the rejections of European civilisation by the Russian Revolution and the German Nazi Revolution, the third blow struck against it by the new American liberalism since the 1960s will finish it off.. The American sledgehammer striking Europe on the book’s cover illustrates this graphically.. That essay is followed by others on President Truman’s refusal to repent for Hiroshima; the West’s historical Campaign for World Mastery brought up to date; the Defeat and Co-option of Feminism; the West’s soft version of Totalitarianism; the Special Position of the Jews; the Unloved European Union; and—turning to Ireland—the Irish Bias against Thought; the Humanism of 1916; the Catholic Church’s Self-injury; and the Disintegration of the Nation that Carried Out the Irish Revolution.. You can get the book by.. clicking here.. Apart from that, I invite you to read or print off the following essays:.. The Irish Revolution as It Really Was.. Putting the Irish Nation Together Again.. On Thinking in Ireland (full text).. The Real History of Europe.. ‘The Renaissance’ in European History.. The West’s Reigning Ideology: A Critical Analysis.. All my writing is an attempt, not to reform the world—I leave that to others—but to see it clearly.. Comments via the.. Contact.. facility are welcome.. I need feedback to see more clearly still.. Link to lecture on Thinking.. Part 1 of 3.. My Last Book.. Written in Maynooth 2007-2008.. Ireland After the End of Western Civilisation.. (2009).. [This book like my other books in print can be purchased by using the appropriate.. Link.. or.. Amazon.. co.. uk.. ].. The West's present system of rules for individual, interpersonal and international behaviour has replaced that of European civilisation.. A utopian experiment that originated in and emanated.. from the USA, it is a western parallel to the similarly post-European Soviet experiment of recent memory.. Being, like its Soviet counterpart, a rootless ideological construct, it does not make sense to westerners as a framework for life, but pains and frustrates them.. It has lasted until now merely owing to the constant increase of.. the power to buy things and do things.. which it has been providing to states and consumers.. When that dual increase ceases, it will dissolve into social chaos, leaving the task of building the widely desired new.. civilisation.. to a future generation.. Those are the bare bones of Desmond Fennell's ground-breaking account of the recent history and present condition of the western world - an account which is given pressing relevance by the West's economic crisis.. It is also the context in which - in a series of essays dated and set in the weeks leading up to the Lisbon Treaty referendum of 2008 - he discusses the referendum campaigns; the European Union; the soft totalitarianism of contemporary western government; the decline of Irish Catholicism; Terry Keane and Charles Haughey;.. Irish Times.. and Irish people; confusion in Dublin's art museums; and the Dundrum Shopping Centre.. Belfast: Athol Books,.. www.. atholbooks.. org.. ISBN 978 08034 120 1, pp.. 102.. Written in Anguillara and Dublin 2004-06.. About Behaving Normally in Abnormal Circumstances (2007).. Ireland in my early years constitutes the abnormal circumstances of the title essay.. Having reached adulthood with a normal interest in the world at large, a compulsion to write about it, and an assumption that the Irish were normally human, I found myself at odds with the established writing practice of my compatriots, academics included.. For them, it seemed, an unwritten law had decreed that they should write only about Ireland and its affairs, past and present.. Fate had rendered the Irish a special people, set apart from mankind.. After recounting how I lived through and tackled this abnormal situation, I proceed on my accustomed way.. In essays, ranging from meditative to perhaps startling, I explore Irish history and the Irish present, early Italian painting, Winckelmann s myth-making, Europe s history and its present plight, the defeat of feminism, the special position of the Jews, and the birth of Amerope.. Finally, in a diary where I relate the backgroundto many of these essays, discuss the Irish lack of enterprise, and end up in Maynooth, I offer a view of the author as worker and private man.. Belfast: Athol Books, www.. org ISBN 9-780-85034-116-7.. Other Books Since 1996.. Written in Seattle 1995.. Uncertain Dawn:.. Hiroshima and the Beginning of Postwestern Civilisation (1996).. The USA was never a dependency of Western Europe but it was a product of its European civilisation and until World War II a junior partner in the shaping of modern  ...   is immoral and.. forbidden.. The new collection of rules and related values is chaotic, does not make sense.. So life, as presented to people, lacks sense.. People find sense, mainly, in the constant increase of spendable money, public and private, and of the things that money can buy.. This dependence for sense on something that can easily end makes the Ameropean system fragile; as fragile as the Soviet system in its last decade.. To prevent a collapse into chaos when the money stops increasing - to preserve the essence of what we have - we must transform the system into a civilisation: organise its values and rules as a coherent hierarchy, and win authority and acceptance for this new manifestation of sense.. Two things threaten the success of such an effort.. The present chaos of values, rules and interpersonal relations suits the rulers, preachers and capitalists who jointly control the system; it feeds their collective power.. In the US unhappiness has been increasing about the endorsement of Hiroshima - the moral decision on which our postwestern world, from its nuclear armament to its rules and values, ultimately rests.. London, Minerva Press, ISBN 0 75411 145 8.. (distributed by Veritas, www.. veritas.. Written in Anguillara 1999-2001.. The Turning Point:.. My Sweden Year And After (2001).. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, through his journalism, books and pamphlets, Desmond Fennell acquired a wide and varied readership.. Immersed as he was in the affairs of Ireland - the art scene in Dublin, the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, the restatement of Irish identity, the completion of the Irish Revolution, decentralisation of government, solving the Northern problem - it became apparent to readers that they were dealing with an unusual kind of Irish intellectual, not readily assignable to any of the usual Irish categories.. In The Turning Point, Desmond Fennell reveals the story of his intellectual development from his teenage years in Dublin to the 1990s in that same city.. The book s focus, however, is on his thirty-first year, 1960, which he spent largely in Sweden.. Sweden was to have been the culmination of eight years spent by Fennell in Europe and Asia enlarging his knowledge of the world and mankind.. Sweden was then the avant-garde country of the western world, the place where the future was being pioneered, and he went there believing that he would relish that future.. But the reverse occurred, with a result that shaped his life in the following decades.. Disappointed and shocked by what he found there, his worldview fell apart.. Returning to Ireland, he was faced with the task of reconstructing a view of the age that corresponded with its reality.. In his final chapter, The Rest of My Life So Far , Fennell recounts his battle against the tide in a Republic of Ireland that, far from completing the Revolution, was becoming a province again.. The Turning Point is an extraordinary piece of vivid narrative and searching introspection by one of Ireland s most creative thinkers, who now lives in Italy.. Dublin, Sanas Press, !SBN 0 9522582 3 4 (hbk), 0 9522582 5 0 (pbk), distributed by Veritas, www.. com.. Written in Anguillara 2000-02.. The Revision of European History (2003).. In this conversational book Desmond Fennell provides three.. things in one:.. a critique of the standard History of Europe as found in textbooks and works of reference, on the grounds that it is distorted by imprecise designation and victors history and does not make sense for Europeans in the twenty-first century;.. a manual which enables readers of the standard history , wherever encountered, to note the main distortions and make appropriate mental corrections;.. an outlined new history of Europe which would be true and clear and make sense for Europeans living in the twenty-first century (see page 79).. Athol Books, Belfast www.. org ISBN 0 85034 104 3.. Written in Dublin and Anguillara 1994-2003.. Cutting to the Point:.. Essays and Objections 1994-2003 (2003).. For almost forty years, Desmond Fennell has written lucidly and cogently on a variety of issues concerning Ireland and the wider western world, often clashing with the Irish liberal-revisionist ascendancy.. This book comes ten years after his last collection of essays, Heresy: The Battle of Ideas in Ireland.. In this new collection, Fennell s subject matter ranges from Graham Knuttel s paintings, Irish Studies in the United States and the European dialect of Lingua Humana to a Rilke poem, the relationships of religion and nationalism, Irish literary studies in Italy, and the personal story of a new friend suddenly lost.. Other essays are entitled A Provincial Passion: Cleansing Irish Literature of Irishness , The Recent Birth and Chequered Career of Rural Ireland , Three Views of Reality: The Poetry of Higgins, Kavanagh and Heaney and News for Dublin 4: God Is Alive and Thriving.. In an Epilogue, The Author as a Dublin Liberal Problem , Fennell deals analytically and definitively with his treatment by the liberal-revisionist Correctorate.. Dublin: The Liffey Press, ISBN 1-904148-35-2..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: Born in Belfast in 1929, Desmond Fennell attended school in Dublin, where he learned Latin and Greek and in the Leaving Certificate Examination won first place in French and German.. With a Scholarship in Classical Languages he entered University College, Dublin, and there and in Trinity College studied history, economics and languages.. He researched his MA thesis in Modern History at Bonn University.. In 1991 the National University of Ireland awarded him its highest degree in the humanities, D.. Litt.. , for his published work.. He has lived and worked in Spain, Germany, Sweden, the USA and Italy - adding three more languages to his repertoire - and has travelled in Asia.. Living  ...   nationalist approach to the Northern problem, laid the intellectual basis for the peace process of the 1990s.. From 1976 to 1982 he taught History and Politics at University College, Galway, and from 1982 to 1993, English Writing at the Dublin Institute of Technology.. His books and journalism have dealt with Irish and international culture and politics, and with history, travel, religion and literature.. From 1997 to 2007 Fennell lived in Anguillara on Lake Bracciano, near Rome.. In the latter year he returned to Ireland and summed up his recent findings in two essays available on this site.. Click here.. to return to the home page.. You may comment by using the Contact facility..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: LINKS.. Athol Books Online.. Veritas Distribution.. The Liffey Press.. Bob Quinn, cara a thug freisin faoi eachtraí in imigéin..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: CONTACT DESMOND FENNELL.. If you would like to contact Desmond, please.. click here.. , or use the form below.. Your Name:.. Email Address:.. Your Message:..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: History Ireland.. Sept/Oct.. 2012.. I believe that the Irish Revolution has not yet been narrated in its full and true reality.. I want to make some suggestions about how this can and should be done.. Such well-narrated historical processes as the Roman, French and Russian revolutions allow us to identify the common traits of a revolution as distinct from a.. coup d’état.. or similar change of regime.. I believe that the Irish Revolution had all these traits, but that this has so far not been recognised by historians with the result that we have been given a shrunken and untrue account and lack a telling of the Revolution as it really was.. With an eye to those common traits of a revolution, I would describe a revolution in the following terms.. An assorted group of ideologues have a vision of a state of affairs in their political community that would be morally and materially superior to the existing one.. They act to bring that better order about.. Their actions have the following characteristics successively: Effort to Acquire the Central Government Power; Acquisition and Augmentation of the Central Government Power; Cultural Reform (involving Establishment of New Values and Rules and Moral Purification); Missionary Dissemination of the Revolution’s Values; Completion of the Revolutionary Programme.. (This last stage, as, for example, with collectivisation in the Russian Revolution, may take twenty or more years to occur.. ).. As I have suggested, the Irish Revolution followed that pattern.. In order to narrate it so as to make that evident, the historian would need to do a number of ancillary things which can be enumerated as follows:.. 1.. Explain the situation in Ireland before the Revolution began.. In particular, among other things: that the population was divided into two ethnic-religious communities, the much larger one Catholics, the other Protestants, with the latter predominating in the Northeast; the historical origins of these communities and the nature of their present relationship, including the fact that the Protestants generally were loyal to the British state, most fervently in the Northeast, while the Catholics generally espoused an Irish nationalism that had two supreme values—the.. Irish nation.. (understood as consisting essentially of themselves while open to other adherents) which they wanted to acquire liberal-democratic self-government, and.. Catholicism.. (its faith, devotions and morality) which they wanted to flourish.. (A footnote here might state as follows: ‘Neither the Catholics nor the Protestants constituted a sect, and neither described matters pertaining to itself or to the other by the derogatory term “sectarian”, though Irish historians after the mid-twentieth century acquired the inaccurate and unhistorical habit of doing so.. ’) And, continuing the account of Ireland before the Revolution: that there was a secret society, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, ramifying mainly among the Catholics, which held, and was pursuing, a single value and vision: an Irish Republic (meaning sovereign, liberal-democratic state) comprising in fraternity all the inhabitants of Ireland, Catholic and Protestant, the latter having replaced their British allegiance with allegiance to Ireland; and finally, that there was a Gaelic-revivalist movement gathering force.. 2.. Narrate how at Easter 1916 the Effort to Acquire the Central Government Power began.. In particular, among other things: that the Rising amounted to.. a public fusion of Republicanism (proclamation of the Irish Republic) with an overtly Catholic intention.. The latter, signalled by the choice of Easter for the Rising, had been declared or intimated beforehand by several of the leaders (most explicitly by James Connolly) as an intention to redeem the Irish people through the effusion of blood in imitation of Christ on the Cross.. (Here a footnote might say: ‘A “redemption by blood”, not a “blood sacrifice”—a British term  ...   another purported to show the moral superiority of the new regime over its predecessor.. ).. 6.. Narrate the Missionary Dissemination of the Revolution’s Values.. Namely: that a great and growing Irish Catholic missionary movement started with the foundation of the Maynooth Mission to China in 1916; and that many of its men and women had taken part in the War of Independence and brought, together with the Christian message, opposition to imperialism and colonialism to many African and Asian peoples, with frequent impact through missionary schools and hospitals on nascent independence movements.. (Here a footnote might state: ‘In view of the full treatment given to the first Irish missionary movement—that of the 5.. to 7.. centuries—in the standard history of Ireland, and of the inclusion of the British missionary activity of the 18.. -20.. centuries in standard British history, the virtual omission of this second great Irish missionary movement from the standard academic history of Ireland has been, to say the least, eccentric.. An unfortunate result is that much human and written testimony to this major aspect of twentieth-century Irish history in Africa, Asia and elsewhere has been permanently lost to Irish historical research’.. 7.. Narrate the Completion of the Revolutionary Programme.. in.. the 1930s.. In his book.. The Evolution of Irish Nationalist Politics.. and elsewhere, Tom Garvin shows that the Irish Revolution belongs to the category of 20.. -century anti-colonial independence movements and shares the characteristics of such movements.. Among these characteristics are that the movement divides, not along European left-right lines, but into two wings more or less accommodating to the metropolitan power; and that after independence is achieved, governing power in the colony is exercised initially by the more accommodating wing and subsequently by the less accommodating one.. Applying this to the Irish case would show the Republican wing, tinged now with Catholic Nationalism, passing in the 1930s from parliamentary Opposition to Government and in that role completing the revolutionary programme by attaining full sovereignty and an Irish republic in all but name.. The above is the merest sketch, open to amendment in detail, of what I imagine as the Irish Revolution finally receiving its deserts in historical narrative.. AMERICAN LEFT LIBERALISM IN IRELAND.. Letter to the Editor of.. March/April 2013.. Sir,—It is normal for national historians, in the narration of the history of their nation, to mention or recount, in due place, the intrusion, progress and influence of a foreign ideology or worldview.. Irish national historians have done this, successively, in the case of the arrival and impact of Christianity, the Anglo-Norman invasion, Continental Catholicism, Protestantism, the English legal system, French republicanism, British classical liberalism, Victorianism, Catholic Ultramontism, and socialism.. Hence my puzzlement at the absence of any treatment, in the Irish historians’ accounts I have seen, of the principal foreign ideological penetration of Ireland in the past half-century.. I mean that of American left liberalism which, with its new worldview and rules of do’s, don’ts and do-as-you-likes for behaviour, thought and language, has become—with the support of Irish and EU legislation—the Republic’s reigning ideology.. The fact that since the 1960s-70s this American ideological colonisation has produced the reigning ideology of Western Europe, generally, takes nothing from the fact that its arrival initially via London, and gradual takeover in Ireland, have been a substantial part of our recent national history.. Omitting an account of this from our historical narrative has been equivalent to Romanian or Hungarian historians failing (unimaginably) to recount the arrival and implementation of Russian Communist ideology in those countries from the 1940s to the late 1980s.. Can anyone, beginning with our historians, explain this remarkable omission from the Irish historical narrative? Yours etc..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: Irish Political Review.. , January 2012.. For those of us for whom Ireland itself is a fundamental value, it is not sufficient to be sour about the anti-national ideology that is now in the ascendant in Dublin or about the actions or inactions of the Irish State that are inspired by it; or about.. The Irish Times.. ,.. historical revisionism.. and so on.. All of these trample on our disintegrated nation, true; but a more constructive approach to that disintegration is also needed.. Mere direction of sourness at the agents of the Counter-revolution amounts to casting their victory in stone.. The Ireland that we value is the Ireland that the leaders of the Irish Revolution expressly aimed at.. That was and remains an Irish nation that would be intellectually self-determining; sovereignly and democratically self-governing; economically self-sustaining; and culturally self-shaping.. It is what Daniel Corkery, in 1931, in.. Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature.. , called ‘a normal nation’.. I cite the entire passage:.. It was.. Lessing who did a man’s part in giving the German nation confidence in itself and in its star.. Ireland’s present condition is incomparably worse than Germany’s ever was, and not one but a whole battalion of Lessings would be needed to establish a normal state of mind among us.. One can but predicate not one Lessing nor a succession of them, but rather a succession of nationalistic movements, rising and falling, each dissolving into a period of reaction, of provincialism, yet each for all that leaving the nation a little more sturdy, a little more normal, a little less provincial than before.. Obviously by a ‘normal nation’ Corkery meant ‘normal’ in the context of the Europe of that time; something like what, say, Norway or Denmark were at that time.. He meant a realised nation.. such as those nations were and such as the leaders of the Irish Revolution had aimed at.. A realised nation is characterised by freedom, cultural integrity, dignity, creativity in all spheres, confidence in its dealings with the world, and the power to transmit those qualities to its citizens.. It is constructive to recognise that we, or more precisely, our parents or grandparents, did not bring that about enduringly for the Irish nation; in other words, that the Irish Revolution largely failed, as Corkery more or less predicted it would.. True, as he also predicted, it has left us some degree of national realisation: two nationally useful things that we did not have before it.. We have a formally sovereign and democratic system of government, albeit with no due allocation of power to the nation’s communities.. The fact that we have pooled most of the state’s sovereignty with that of other European states does not take essentially from this; we could also take it back.. But our nation is now neither intellectually self-determining nor economically self-sustaining nor culturally self-shaping, and is therefore far from being the normal nation that the Irish Revolution aimed at.. Obviously, and Corkery assumed this, a nation can exist in a form far short of normality or realisation.. It can exist as a mass of people who are vaguely aware that they are a social unit of mankind who have shared a common course through history.. But to become a realised nation, existing actively in the world, that mass needs to acquire, as a first step, what Corkery calls a nationally ‘normal state of mind’.. I have spelt that out as ‘intellectual self-determination’.. The first act of that self-determination is to create a shared idea of the nation’s defining and distinguishing characteristics and values.. Only then, with that defined notion and consciousness of its distinct self, can the nation set about realising itself factually—acquiring the other attributess of normal nationhood.. During the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth the Irish nation performed this seminal intellectual act of defining its distinguishing characteristics and values.. It came to see itself, and to present itself, as an ancient, essentially Gaelic, Catholic and rural nation, which had fought a long freedom struggle, was opposed to all imperialism, and adhered to liberal democracy as the method of acquiring and exercising political power.. Those were not only what the Irish nation perceived as its defining characteristics, they were at the same time what it regarded as its defining set of values which together made it a thing of great value.. Moreover, four of those valued characteristics—ancient, Catholic, rural, and pursuing a long freedom struggle—were the features which in the eyes of Europe and the wider world characterised the Irish nation.. In the decades preceding the Revolution some of those who would lead it identified another characteristic of the Irish nation which was not a value but the opposite.. This was its ‘slave soul’ or, figuratively speaking, its bent back; in plain language, the self-doubting psychological condition inflicted on the nation, collectively and individually, by the centuries of alien mental colonisation.. (Much later, academic study would give great importance to this national characteristic, as in Raymond Crotty’s.. Ireland in Crisis: A Study in Capitalist Colonial Undevelopment.. , 1986, and RTĒ Radio’s Michael Littleton Lecture 2010 on ‘The Role of Malignant Shame in the Rise and Fall of the Celtic Tiger’, given by Dr Garrett O’Connor of the Betty Ford Institute.. ) The revolutionary leaders saw the Revolution as directed as much against this ‘slave soul mentality’ as against British rule.. Equipped with that defining view of itself, the Irish nation fought its Revolution.. After achieving a moderate independence, it activated its identity in some of the terms defined before the Revolution, and set about trying to add to those characteristics ‘fully sovereign, economically self-sustaining and culturally self-shaping’.. Over a twenty-year period it made itself by degrees fully sovereign by taking a series of actions culminating in its declaration of neutrality in the Second World War.. Achieving economic self-maintenance meant, in effect, producing mainly through Irish enterprise sufficient saleable goods and services to pay for a standard of living sufficient to retain the existing population.. This was made very difficult by the abnormally low level of economic enterprise in that same population.. The State contributed electrification and in the 1930s established semi-state enterprises (Aer Lingus, Bord na Móna), encouraged tillage rather than pasture, and nurtured private industry by imposing tariffs on imports of the relevant goods.. During the Second World War, the  ...   East Germany.. From London, its European centre of diffusion, the new American liberalism was introduced to Ireland by Irish sympathisers; first, tentatively, in.. The Irish Times,.. then through RT.. By the early 80s the Irish ideological pluralism of the Dublin mass media was being replaced by a left-liberal orthodoxy.. The Irish liberal Correctorate (every West European country had one) made clear its aversion to treating the historic freedom struggle as a national value.. Accordingly, it was strongly hostile to the ongoing armed strugggle of the Northern nationalists.. The Irish neo-liberals also preached that the nation’s Catholicism (or indeed any religion) was not a national value and should therefore not influence the Republic’s affairs.. On both these matters, they used the co-ordinated Dublin media daily to create a substantial public that was similarly minded.. The Correctorate was de facto displacing the Catholic Church as moral teacher of the nation.. The legislators were conforming to it as diligently as they had to its predecessor.. In 1985 a visiting Australian writer, William Buckley, noted the new public orthodoxy in his book.. Memory Ireland.. and sketched it as follows:.. Ireland is not a nation, once again or ever, so the new story runs, but two nations; maybe several; it does not have its characteristic religion—or, if it does, it ought not; it does not have its characteristic language, as anyone can see or hear; it has no particular race or ethnic integrity.. Ireland is nothing—a no-thing—an interesting nothing, to be sure, composed of colourful parts, a nothing mosaic.. It is advertising prose and Muzak.. But it was not until 2003 that Ireland’s new condition was affirmed symbolically in the centre of its capital city.. For years there had been public debate about what should replace Nelson’s Pillar at the centre of Dublin’s O’Connell Street, opposite the GPO.. The Pillar, honouring Admiral Lord Nelson, hero of Britain and the British Empire, had been blown up by republicans in 1966.. Prominent among the suggestions for its replacement were a statue of Pearse or Connolly or statues of both, to join the other statues lining the street; a monument honouring the Easter Rising; or a monument commemorating generally the ultimately victorious Irish freedom struggle.. In the late 1990s Dublin City Council decided to erect instead a spire of stainless steel, 221 metres high, three metres wide at the base, 15 centimetres at the apex, manufactured in England.. and signifying—literally, how right William Buckley was!—Nothing.. Completed in 2003, it affirms the nation’s condition and identity then and today.. So while the ancient, rural, Gaelic, Catholic nation, heir of a long freedom struggle, recedes in memory, we live amid the furniture of national nothingness.. Irishmen who died fighting Britain’s wars being commemorated on a par with those who died for Irish freedom.. The nation speaking, never mind not Gaelic, a foreign English shaped largely by American films, tv series and pop songs, with some input from British television and newspapers.. The Irish Catholic Church, discredited by its tolerance of paedophile priests, under verbal attack from anti-Catholic ex-Catholics echoing the Ian Paisley of old and the old Ascendancy.. Those two cardinals of the Correctorate, O’Toole and Browne, in print and on the airwaves, habitually using the adjective ‘Irish’ with the same negative connotation as did Englishmen for centuries, while exploding variously, like cartoon English Majors, into ‘appalling’, ‘outrageous’ ‘horrific’, ‘disgraceful’.. Of our expòrts, the healthiest part of the Republic’s economy, 90 per cent coming from foreign-owned firms.. Uniquely in Europe, and for the first time in a century, Irish magazine shops not offering a single home-produced magazine of ideas.. A government passive in the face of the world, going now along with some action led by others, and, now again, following other leaders.. It is easy to be sour and to snipe, but it is not sufficient, changes nothing, confirms national defeat.. The needed response is to ponder and discuss what to do.. Is it to try again? Our first attempt to make Ireland a normal nation was not, its economics apart, a bad effort; might a second attempt, with some lessons learned, succeed?.. First, let it be said that no normal European nation has gone through history with its initial act of intellectual self-determination fully intact.. I mean with the valued distinguishing self-identity that was defined by that act maintained fully intact.. As history progressed and circumstances changed, every normal European nation has adapted that valued and distinguishing self-identity while retaining its essential core.. Think of such experts in this high political skill as England and France.. That is not to say that, given appropriately skilled leaders, Ireland might have done this at some point in the wake of the Revolution.. On the one hand, we were beginners, mere amateurs, and acquiring and transmitting that adaptive skill takes several generations.. On the other, we were subjected to a foreign ideological invasion that valued nothing of what Ireland stood for and that had the power of the post-war American empire behind it.. ‘Trying again’, even with the acquired benefit of an existing Irish state and functioning democracy, does not seem practicable now.. It would require us, as did the first attempt, to identify a set of valued distinctive characteristics of the existing and imagined Irish nation for which there is a general consensus.. And such a consensus is now simply not there; nor even the nucleus of it, Indeed, there is no consensus that even in some undefined way Ireland is a value, except in international sports events because it is ‘our side’.. I may be wrong, and would be glad to hear other views.. For myself.. I take solace from William Buckley’s modification of his ‘nothing’ judgment: ‘an interesting nothing, to be sure’, he said, ‘composed of colourful parts’.. I agree about the ‘colourful parts’.. Ireland is full of them, many of them not only colourful but, because of their confidence and initiatives and the pleasure they take in being themselves, inspiring.. What we have been talking about, is the common roof, the gel, the collective pride and power of all the parts, that would give the Irish a proper shared home in the world and a confident voice in it.. What to do in these disintegrated days? While encouraging the most promising of the disintegrated parts, to keep in mind that ultimate objective and to ponder it..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: ON THINKING IN IRELAND (Full text).. 2009.. In the coming period in Ireland precedence should be given to intellect over imagination.. George William Russell (A.. E.. In my review of Thomas Duddy’s book.. A History of Irish Thought,.. (I entitled it ‘The Irish Problem with Thought’), I reported something which the author recounts in his Preface.. When he had mentioned to people in Ireland, and in London where the book was published, that he was working on it, he met with incomprehension or scepticism.. Surely, people said, there wasn’t such a thing as ‘Irish thought’, at least ‘not in the sense in which there was English, French or German thought’.. This reaction is easily explained.. In the first place, the words ‘Irish’ and ‘thought’ had seldom if ever been used together.. Many educated people would know there had been a Scotus Eriugena, a Toland, a Berkeley and a Burke, but would not be aware of—because there has been no such thing—a more or less linked succession of well known Irish thinkers through the centuries into the present day.. What is meant, of course, in this context by ‘thinkers’ is creative thinkers, offering new, arresting, argued visions of a broad aspect of human, cosmic or supernatural reality.. The second reason for that reaction to Duddy’s book title is that the works of creative thought which Irishmen have produced in recent times have been absent from the image of Irish writing that is presented by the Irish mass media to Irish people and foreigners.. Insofar as these media—print media, radio and television—publicise or discuss Irish creative writers, they confine themselves to writers of prose fiction, poetry and plays; that is to say, to fictive writing as distinct from creative writing about the real.. And about Irish fictive writing they make a loud noise, so that the impression is given at home and abroad that this is the only kind of Irish creative writing that exists.. Add to this general characteristic of the Irish media the fact that they do not include, as do the media of many countries, one ormore magazines of ideas in which Irish thinkers might present themselves and their antecedents to readers at home and abroad by publishing new essays, debating with each other, discussing their antecedents, and having their books reviewed.. Nor is there any approximate equivalent on radio or television of such a magazine.. This overall state of affairs has a result that can be exemplified with reference to some important works of Irish thought published in the last few years.. The works were by Richard Kearney, James Mackey, Philip Pettit and William Desmond, in each instance in continuation of a long line of previous books.. The educated reading public in Ireland is generally unaware that Kearney has recently published a trilogy named.. Philosophy at Its Limits,.. which comprises.. On Stories (Thinking in Action), Strangers, Gods and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness,.. and.. The God Who May Be: A Hermeneutics of Religion.. A similar general Irish ignorance applies to Mackey’s two recent books.. Christianity and Creation: The Essence of the Christian Faith and its Future among Religions.. Jesus of Nazareth: The Life, the Faith and the Future of the Prophet;.. to.. Pettit’s.. A Theory of Freedom.. :.. From the Psychology to the Politics of Agency.. Rules, Reasons, and Norms: Selected Essays;.. and, finally,to Desmond’s.. Is There a Sabbath for Thought? Between Religion and Philosophy.. and.. Art, Origins, Otherness: Between Philosophy and Art.. These four writers, have spent the larger part of their careers abroad; in America, Britain or Belgium.. Three of them live permanently abroad.. Having largely published in America and Britain, they are known to thoughtful readers there, but also elsewhere, partly through translations.. However, any incidental awareness those readers might have of the Irish nationality of one or other or all of them, individually, would not outweigh the factors mentioned above which suggest that there is no substantial body of work, past or present, amounting to ‘Irish thought’.. Apart from Scotus Eriugena, Toland, Berkeley and Burke, there have of course been other Irishmen through the centuries who produced sustained creative thought.. Duddy’s book was the first to search them out and give some account of them.. His selection is shaped and limited by the fact that his point of view and criterion is that of a teacher of philosophy in a university (Galway); but he does find space for William Thompson and for some elements of Swift, Yeats, and even Oscar Wilde.. No neglected genius is brought to light except perhaps Augustinus Hibernicus in the seventh century.. Most of the thinkers treated are from the seventeenth century onwards and are predominantly Anglo-Irish Protestants.. The final chapter entitled ‘Irish Thought in the Twentieth Century’ deals with Yeats, J.. O.. Wisdom, M.. O’C Drury, Iris Murdoch, William Desmond and Philip Pettit.. With the exception of Yeats, all those thinkers have in common that they spent—or have so far spent—most of their working life abroad and published all or most of their books abroad.. The omission of the late Raymond Crotty and Tom Barrington reflects the professional limits of Duddy’s choice.. But their inclusion would not alter the ‘largely abroad’ message which Duddy’s twentieth-century selection, added to the similar characteristic of Kearney’s and Mackey’s work, conveys.. In the Republic of Ireland a combination of factors discourages the formulation and expression of sustained independent thought.. Not only does the public discourse conducted by the mass media ignore such writing, while informing abundantly about Irish fictive writing and discussing it copiously: that discourse also celebrates the fictive writing hugely, with the implication that it is the only kind of Irish writing that deserves notice or celebration.. When occasionally contemporary thinkers do figure in the Irish mass media, they are foreigners who have won fame elsewhere—more precisely in London and New York—whom we are invited to attend to.. The media’s discriminatory celebration of fictive writing is reinforced by the cultural policies of the Irish State as implemented through the three agencies it has established to honour and fund Irish creative individuals.. Aosdána, a self-electing institution, defines such individuals as ‘artists’.. Since its foundation in 1981, it has elected to its membership, which is limited to 250, practitioners of visual art, musical composition and literature.. Of late it has added architects and choreographers.. It pays annual stipends to those members who prove their financial need.. Inasmuch as it caters nominally for what it calls ‘literature’, one might expect to find in its membership creative writers as various in kind as those who make up the canonical literatures of, say, England, France or Germany.. But Aosdána at its foundation formally and eccentrically defined ‘literature’ as consisting of only the fictive kind, that is, prose fiction, plays and poetry.. Thus while Aosdána admits photographers, it excludes philosophers, regardless of their literary merits.. Because Plato, Kierkegaard and Freud created merely new visions of human.. reality.. , they would not, if living in Ireland today, qualify for election to Aosdána.. In the matter of publication the Arts Council discriminates similarly.. On the grounds that sales might well be relatively small, Irish publishers are reluctant to accept works of thought.. To obviate this objection in the case of prose fiction, plays or poetry, the Arts Council subsidises the publication of such works.. The only possibility of similar facilitation for works of thought arises if the thinker is an academic; his academic institution can subsidise publication of his work.. But those thinkers who, like many of history’s most influential thinkers, are not professors of philosophy, lack even that recourse.. (Indeed, the curious situation exists that an Irish thinker of that ilk can on account of some self-published work be awarded the degree of D.. Litt (Doctor of Literature) by the National University of Ireland and still have his work refused by the University’s college presses on the grounds that it is not academically accoutred and peer-approved!).. A third state-funded agency, Culture Ireland, is charged with promoting and subsidising Irish culture internationally.. With the difference that it has no branches abroad, its nominal role is similar to that of the British Council, the Goethe-Institut or the Alliance Française.. In the year 2008 it subsidised 282 Irish cultural events; mainly Irish events abroad but also some international events at home in which Irish people participated.. All these events fell under the headings of theatre and dance, film, music, visual art, literature and architecture.. And the ‘literature’ in question was again solely of the fictive kind.. In other words, the 282 events included none—not one—in which Culture Ireland subsidised an Irish thinker addressing a foreign audience about some aspect of reality; perennial, contemporary or past.. Thus ‘Irish culture’—note the agency’s name—is officially represented to the world as a culture lacking any notable thought.. What these discouragements, taken together, seem to amount to is the Irish establishment and its subordinate tiers working to confirm that very English notion, notably articulated by Matthew Arnold, of the ever so imaginative, thoughtless Celts: gifted entertainers of their pensive Saxon masters cogitating on how to run the world.. Certainly our past history plays a role in this.. The Republic of Ireland was not born out of thin air.. The objective discouragements which it presents to creative thought both grow out of, and reinforce, a subjective inherited discouragement present in many of its citizens.. To see something, to see a circumstance, differently from how your friends, neighbours and colleagues see it, differently from how the accepted experts in that field, at home and maybe also abroad, see it; and then to search for and find grounds and arguments to support the truth of your vision of it; and to write all that down and offer it to those around you as the reality and truth of that circumstance—this requires confidence in your ability and right to discover truth independently.. But the legacy of centuries-long mental colonisation of the Catholic Irish—the great majority, the conquered ‘natives’—by the English, their colony in Ireland, and the Catholic clergy (disproportionately influential for lack of a native government), deprives many of us of that dual confidence.. On the one hand, the training of generations of our ancestors in the belief that it was only ‘others’—the Anglo-Irish, the English, the priests—who had that ability and right has left an inherited ingrained mark in many.. On the other, thousands of those so marked are active in the Republic’s mass media, government, schools and seats of learning, and subliminally delivering a similar doctrine, with the ‘others’ now located outside Ireland.. Accepted subconsciously, that confidence-destroying doctrine renews in the upcoming young the colonised mental inheritance.. This goes far to explain why, when the Catholic Irish ultimately achieved the chance to call the shots, they created a republic that within its own territory discourages creative thought, and makes its sustained expression there a guerrilla enterprise.. In view of the substantial sequence of creative and speculative thinkers which Duddy’s book reveals among the Anglo-Irish in Ireland from the seventeenth century into the twentieth, it is likely that in an Irish republic fashioned by the Anglo-Irish the case would have been different.. But we have what we have.. This combination of discouragements has militated against the Irish achieving, in its intellectual aspect, the aim of the Irish Revolution: that they would become again a ‘normal’ nation—to cite Daniel Corkery’s succinct description of that aim.. Normal, in the sense of being in every respect, like other free nations, a collective human adult, exercising autonomously all the faculties of a full-grown human being.. Those faculties include the formulation, publication and digestion of argued independent thought.. While the Catholic and post-Catholic Irish continue to frustrate the exercise of these faculties in Ireland, Irish life, conducted on the basis of unscrutinised derived thinking, falls short of adult life; resembles that of minors guided by what adult elders elsewhere think.. Daniel Corkery,.. A Study.. Cork University Press, 1931, p.. 242.. In an intellectual field adjacent to philosophy, the following detail illustrates the persisting absence in Ireland of adult normality.. While there have been many histories of Ireland written by Englishmen, not one Irish historian has written a history of England, the nation that has most impinged on Irish history.. But then, today, within that national life of minors figuratively speaking, what guidance do or can the actual minors receive from the senior generation in the matter of avoiding undirected lives? As we witness, distressed, the swollen numbers of young suicides and the regular or occasionally spectacular nights of self-destructive youthful frenzy, a voice is sometimes heard saying: ‘Now that in great measure our young people lack the guidance previously given by the Catholic Church operating through believing parents, teachers, clergy and religious, and transmitted through society generally and its laws and customs, what a shame that we have not inherited a thought-out philosophy of life and ethical behaviour, with the result that we lack such a philosophy now!’ What is not added is: ‘and that we do everything we can to prevent its production’.. That is not added because, being so intrinsically a part of how our republic operates, it is not noticed.. And, while not noticed or put in the way of remedy, Irish post-Catholic moral minors (adult in shape and size) continue clueless in the face of their own (literally speaking) minors, and undirectedness of that emerging generation grows and spreads.. 2.. I know what I am talking about.. Since my student days in Dublin I have been in a modest way, never reaching soaring heights, a creative thinker.. I hesitate to say ‘philosopher’, but since the 1960s that description—in the broad sense of looking and thinking beneath and around the representations of things and writing accordingly—has been applied to me by others.. In pages 46-55 of.. Beyond Nationalism: The Struggle against Provinciality in the Modern World.. (Ward River Press, 1985) I give an account of my reluctant development into a ‘philosopher’.. in the 1960s, and of the discomfort this elicited in those around me.. I also summarise a remarkable essay by J.. C.. M.. Nolan, then a postgraduate student of philosophy, in the student magazine.. St.. Stephen’s.. for May 1961.. Mr Nolan’s main argument was that the continuing task of ‘creating the Irish nation’ had reached the point where a ‘philosophical initiative’ by way of ‘personal perspective’ was required.. Neither metaphysical nor divine reality, but the worldly or historical kind, has been my field.. It is the field in which Tom Barrington, Joe Lee, Raymond Crotty, Brendan Clifford, John Robb, Richard Kearney and Dónal Ó Brolcháin to mention some—have been occasional or enduring Irish colleagues.. Working always in the essay form (even when the book was a travel narrative) I have used, apart from books and pamphlets, Irish newspapers before the dumbing down; magazines of ideas (Irish when there were still such); and in recent years my website.. A recurrent experience through the years has been private communications from young Irishmen which expressed interest in or gratitude for something I had written.. Frequently I was told that I was providing a quality of insight not easy to come by in Ireland.. I sensed a curiosity as to how I, another Irishman, came to be thinking and writing this way.. Sometimes there were questions about, or disagreement with, something I had written.. I answered the questions, dealt with the disagreements.. I always replied.. And then when each brief correspondence ended, I often thought about the young man in question, wondered was he trying to think out the world or some part of it for himself, trying to emulate my way of seeing and thinking but not wanting to take up more of my time by further correspondence.. An effect of this was to make me aware that by thinking and writing as I was doing I was encouraging others to try to do likewise.. Arrived now at eighty years of age, and with no further challenge to think beckoning me, I want to add to that encouragement by example the encouragement of a brief tutorial.. Naturally, it will amount to directive advice drawn from my experience of thinking in the ‘worldly’ or ‘historical’ field, as distinct from the fields in which strictly philosophical thought or the theological kind operates.. And it will reflect my own particular way of tackling worldly themes, as distinct from other ways in which these might be and are tackled.. But I believe that starting to think creatively, and continuing to do so, is a more  ...   it by others, that your version of the truth is fundamentally wrong? You accept this as well as you can, knowing that you made your best effort in a good and worthwhile cause, and intend to try again, having learned much.. 3.. I return to Aosdána, specifically to its founding rule that excluded from its membership Irish creative writers about human reality.. Let me point out in passing that some Irish creative persons of all kinds find a certain superior satisfaction in.. not.. being part of it, in not ‘joining the throng’.. But it remains a fact that, as the principal embodiment of official Ireland’s dealing with Irish creative individuals, Aosdána’s behaviour towards such persons has a symbolic significance.. To be precise and to clarify: in accordance with Aosdána’s practice, it was not the institution as a whole that formulated that rule barring philosophers, but its body of writers—about a hundred in number, the largest organised grouping of Irish writers—acting for the whole.. It was these men and women, collectively, who decided that an Irish Plato, Kierkegaard, Freud or Marx, if he should appear, was not eligible to enter their fellowship or to receive the stipends many of them receive.. And when I say an Irish Plato, Kiergegaard, Freud or Marx, I could equally say an Irish Pascal or Nietzsche, or a Marcuse, Fukuyama or Habermas, or a Roger Scruton or John Gray.. Even Berkeley or Edmund Burke,.. redivivus,.. would be barred.. I return to the matter in order to discuss and interpret a curious detail I did not mention earlier, namely, that in the course of the last ten years the Aosdána writers have breached their rule on eligibility in two individual instances of the same kind.. The first breach was for an Englishman, long resident in Ireland, who has made splendid maps of Connemara, the Burren and the Aran Islands, and written step-by-step accounts of those landscapes in elegant prose.. The second breach, five years later, was for another Englishman, long resident in Ireland, who is mainly known for a weekly newspaper column on the doings of Nature around his West of Ireland home, but who has also written several books of Irish natural history.. In short, an English writer about Nature and, five years later, with deliberation, another English writer about Nature.. What can this new departure mean?.. I believe it throws light on what kind of writer the Aosdána writers had fundamentally in mind when they made that rule excluding writers who offer a new thought-out and argued vision of some important aspect of reality.. I believe it was not writers about the real, in general, that they had fundamentally in mind.. As it was gradually borne in on them that that meant excluding many good writers, and that this was absurd, they decided that some correction was necessary.. So on two successive occasions, separated by five years, they allowed that two good English writers about Nature were indeed eligible.. Pondering on this very deliberate and repeated choice from among all kinds of writers about the real, I have recalled something I wrote six years ago.. And recalling it has led me to identify the real, though perhaps only subconscious, intention of the excluding rule.. Though in appearance broad in reference, it was motivated fundamentally by abhorrence and fear of what seemed to that body of Irish fictive writers the most daunting (and properly non-existent) kind of writer about the real, namely, the Irish Philosopher.. To give this conclusion its explanatory context I reproduce that earlier piece of writing below.. The passage in question occurs in the course of my arguing (in 2003) that ‘no Irish prose.. fiction since Joyce has supplied a notable (i.. e.. iconic) depiction of the contemporary human condition’.. To elucidate what I meant I had cited many instances from contemporary English and American prose fiction which had supplied such icons of the contemporary, either in the form of ‘worlds’ (Graham Greene’s, Philip Marlowe’s, Nineteen-Eighty-Four, etc.. ) or of individual characters (in writers from Bellow and Donleavy to Updike and Le Carré).. I continued:.. 5.. From the essay ‘A Provincial Passion: Cleansing Irish Literature of Irishness’ in.. Cutting to the Point: Essays and Objections 1994-2003.. The essay had originated as a paper read at the Kerry International Festival of Living Irish Authors, Tralee, 1997, and appeared in successive, amended versions in.. Éire-Ireland.. (Morristown, New Jersey, Samhradh/Fomhar, 1997 and in.. InCognito,.. Dublin, Vol.. 2, 1997.. It seems to me that apart from notable representational skill and subtle insight what qualifies fictional writing to be notably contemporary, by the measure I am using, is its.. contemporary adult theme.. By that I mean, roughly,.. a recognisably contemporary adult person or persons involved in typically contemporary preoccupations and activities.. Given that most westerners alive today, in Ireland as elsewhere, are such people, this is a theme category central to the consciousness and interest of our times.. (True, I am using the word ‘adult’ to refer to something more than mere age without troubling to define exactly what more, trusting that rather to be understood.. What Irish writing continues to be notable for, and most valued for, both abroad and in Ireland, is its occasional, strong depiction of life that is sub-adult, sub-literate, offbeat, weird, poor, and possessed of a naïve, occasionally hilarious, charm.. Life, in short, which is an.. attractive marginal oddity.. This is, of course, an age-old stereotype of Irishness in the English-speaking world.. I am thinking, most immediately, of the recent, simultaneous success—abroad and by definition in Ireland—of the novelist Roddy Doyle, the memoirist Frank McCourt and the playwright Martin McDonagh.. Frank McCourt, whose remembered depiction of life in Limerick slums, and of those awful Catholic priests and nuns, was extracted, prior to publication, in.. The New Yorker.. , went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, and is being advertised in London—I saw the posters—with this quote from a review: ‘Out Roddy Doyles Roddy Doyle…It is amazing’.. London Irishman Martin McDonagh, launched by the Druid Theatre in Galway with his play.. The Beauty Queen of Leenane.. , went on to scale the heights in London, and will soon be big in New York, with plays entitled.. A Skull in Connemara.. ,.. The Lonesome West,.. The Cripple from Inishmaan.. The titles adequately reflect the content.. But I am also thinking—in terms of theme only, let me stress—of the other Irish novels and plays that have drawn most hype and acclaim in recent years in Britain, or in Britain and America, and therefore, of course, in Ireland.. Dermot Healy’s.. A Goat’s Song.. , with its trumpeted bucolic title and mainly West of Ireland setting, where the narrator’s central concerns—when lonesome without his woman or despairing in her company—are whether something alcoholic is left over from the night before, and which pub is the best one to begin the day’s drinking in; Patrick McCabe’s.. The Butcher Boy.. , about a curious, violent, idiot-boy, seeing visions of the Virgin, begorrah, and other marvels in a moronic Border town; John McGahern’s.. Amongst Women.. , about the dour peasant, Moran, patriarching his womenfolk in a timewarp Irish rural scene set in timeless Irish amber; fascinating book-at-bedtime reading—‘Really quite remarkable people, the Irish, and what beautiful writing!’—for the folk, jaded with contemporaneity, who heard it ‘at bedtime’ on BBC 4.. And for good measure, Brian Friel, with his tales of Ballybeg peasants, and above all his great international success,.. Dancing at Lughnasa,.. where those Donegal wenches get up and jig like mad on the kitchen table and chairs to the music from the old steam radio.. These are the sort of fictional works for which Ireland remains notable.. All of them are valued by the contemporary English-speaking world as icons of Irishness, which define by their contrast the adult normality of that world.. This valuation translates into a demand for such works.. Partly in response to it, partly because of the happy chance that many Irish writers like depicting such ‘Irishness’, the representation of it has been, and remains, the dominant tendency of Irish fictional writing….. It is reflected on the level of television soaps.. Although Irish television is centrally situated in the English-speaking world, it has failed in its forty-one year history to make TV soaps which other countries want.. The only serial drama it has exported outside the domestic or ethnic-Irish markets is.. Glenroe.. , which has been shown on Australian television.. An excellent drama series, Glenroe is set in a recognisably contemporary Irish rural village, and mingles serious human matters with the charm of the simple life.. By contrast, Australian television, which is hardly advantaged over Ireland by its situation in the English-speaking world, sends a flow of TV dramas around the world, including Ireland.. These include, to mention two we have seen on our screens, soaps with such contemporary adult themes as Australian harbour police going about their duties (.. Water Rats.. ) and doctors using planes to bring medical services to remote rural communities (.. Flying Doctors.. ).. Irish television, as it happens, has never made a soap with such typically contemporary, adult themes.. The weakness of Irish fiction with regard to the adult contemporary is reflected in the reading habits of the representatively contemporary people who inhabit Ireland.. True, in the last ten years, Maeve Binchy, Patricia Scanlan and Deirdre Purcell have successfully supplied mainly female readers with an Irish near-equivalent of contemporary popular fiction elsewhere.. But men who require popular fiction with a contemporary edge, and all sophisticated readers of both sexes, look mainly to British and American writers to supply novels which reflect their lives: mentally, emotionally, occupationally; in a word, circumstantially.. And this is small wonder when, to mention only the most obvious, there is almost no notable fiction reflecting the life and work of well-to-do Dubliners in recent decades—their dramas of money, power and rivalry, of sex, politics, morality and the spirit, their gyms, health-food shops, dress designers, call girls, and tribunals of public enquiry.. On the evidence presented by Irish fiction, one would not know or believe that Dublin, a few years ago, liked to think of itself as ‘the night-club capital of Europe’ or has lately been priding itself as the powerhouse of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.. One could also instance the lack of an outstanding novel by an Irish novelist on the Northern Ireland conflict and its international ramifications.. Postscript.. [as the above written in Italy]:.. A few months after I had completed this essay, an American woman to whom I showed it questioned my statement that no Irish prose fiction since Joyce had become a ‘representative icon’ of contemporary adult experience.. The fictional world of Edna O’Brien had attained this status.. I accept that—it slipped my mind.. It is true of that part of O’Brien’s fiction that has non-Irish settings.. But this exception doesn’t affect the general rule that Irish fiction specialises—with success—in the ‘sub-adult, sub-literate, weird and charmingly primitive’.. The examples multiply.. In a recent interview with Thomas Kilroy in the magazine.. InCognito,.. Kilroy tells us that his forthcoming novel is about ‘an innocuous little man in a small Irish town who starts to have visions’.. In Rome, where I am living, the two latest Irish books to appear in translation are.. Angela’s Ashes.. and Seamus Deane’s prize-winning novel.. Reading in the Dark.. On the cover of the former is a little girl, on that of the latter a little boy.. The rule running through current Irish fiction—including the fictional memoir and drama—seems to be a central character, or characters, that are ‘less’ in age, physical stature or mental/moral development (or all three) than the author and the people he associates with: in their own minds contemporary grown-ups in every sense.. Consider now, in contrast, the philosopher.. Thinking, as is his main role, about human reality in general or about a particular collective embodiment of it, his thought is of necessity about human beings.. And needing—for his thinking about these to proceed—to assume some norm in their regard, he assumes that they are adult humans, in possession of all the human faculties, whether using them all or not.. And because the humanity presented to him in the first place is contemporary, and he wishes his thought to seem relevant to his audience, his writing will allow his familiarity with the contemporary human condition to show in what he has to say.. Now suppose that the philosopher is Irish, and you have the bogeyman of the Aosdána writers.. Imagine the discomfort, and even terror, which the prospect of having such an Irish writer among them inspired in the Aosdána writers as they framed the rules of membership for their comity.. An Irish writer of that ilk would brush aside the clouds of accumulated fiction, home-produced and foreign, which envelop the Irish human reality.. Writing about it, with first-hand knowledge of it, he would reveal its real condition.. Given human adulthood as his norm, he would make evident that while sub-adulthood does occur in Ireland, it is.. not,.. characteristically, a matter of smallness, childhood, mental deficiency, naiveté or antique rurality.. He would show it to be, rather, a characteristic of the Irish collectively due to the insufficient public exercise among them of the thinking faculty and their insufficient nourishment by such home-produced thought.. And not only would he, by writing in these terms, make those Irish—including the Aosdána writers—who consider themselves grown-ups uncomfortable and embarrassed; he would undermine those writers’ favourite and lucrative fictive construct of the Irish condition.. He would thereby, in short, be a being who, strictly speaking, ought not exist; a sort of monster.. Nothing more natural, then, than that the Aosdána writers should construct a firewall excluding.. all.. creative writers about reality, no matter how creative, lest by any chance the discomfiting and feared kind might slip in.. But then as knowledge of other nations and how they define ‘literature’ and ‘creative writing’ spread among them, and as the absurdity of their blanket rule was occasionally pointed out to them, they made a decision.. They decided that to save face, and appear less abnormal among the nations, they must amend that catch-all ban on writers about the real.. So with great caution, keeping in mind the sort of writer about the real who must forever be barred, the feared one, they decided to open the door a chink.. He must not be a writer about human reality, for that would be giving the feared one a terrain to exploit; nor Irish for that was the first word of the two that make up the description of him.. The solution, they concluded, was to open the door, first to one, then to another, good.. English.. writer about.. inanimate Nature.. resident in Ireland.. That, among writers about the real, was the remotest kind they could plausibly think of from, God save all here present and bless the mark, the Irish Philosopher!.. *.. I have dealt here with how the Irish mass media, the Irish State through its cultural agencies, and the Irish university presses, discriminate against Irish thinkers and thus discourage them.. To conclude positively, I propose seven steps towards remedying this nationally impoverishing state of affairs.. Replace Aosdána (retaining the name) with a self-electing body that has the same broad terms of reference as the French Academy but a much larger membership.. Replace the Arts Council with a Council for Cultural Promotion.. Have the agency Culture Ireland include Irish thinkers in its promotion of Irish culture abroad.. Have the Irish university presses establish jointly, alongside their lists of academic books by academics, a list which, twice yearly, publishes a book characterised simply by ground-breaking, non-academic thought.. Let the Royal Irish Academy take example, annually, from the Académie de Dijon whose national essay competition on a prescribed theme in 1750 was the occasion of launching Rousseau into his writing career.. Find funding to transform the magazine of history and ideas.. Church and State,.. edited by Pat Maloney from Cork and sold by subscription, into a fortnightly magazine of ideas available in all newsagents.. And let RTẾ have a weekly one-hour radio discussion among Irish intellectuals debating some brain-stretching theme.. If those measures were taken, Ireland would have again an intellectual life: more precisely, an intellectual life of the quality it had during the revolutionary years.. Thus equipped, we Irish could in due course help to found the coming new civilisation as many of our learned and holy predecessors helped to found Europe..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: My first book, 54 years ago, was a travel book that began its itinerary in Vienna.. In those days it was rare for Irish people to travel on the Continent let alone write about any but its southern, Catholic parts.. In the Preface, reflecting on the relationship between the Irish and modern Europe, I wrote: “We Irish are regarded as an ancient people, but we are also very young and new.. The modern world has made itself without our asking.. ” One of the respects in which Europe has done this is in the work of giving European history a shape.. Between the seventeenth century and the early twentieth, a standard narrative was established which has remained essentially unchanged.. Irish historians, involved defensively in domestic history, played no part in that work.. So if now, at this late stage, an Irishman who is an ardent lover of Europe and its history challenges Europe’s standard manner of narrating that history, and wants it somewhat differently done, it should not be surprising.. I believe that Europe, like the civilisations that preceded it which left behind sufficient historical records—like Rome, Greece, Babylon, Egypt, China— deserves to have its story told straightforwardly and as truthfully as possible before it, in turn, passes into history.. In this respect we have not been served well by those contemporary historians who entitle their books ‘History of Europe’.. If we are not presented under that title with an account of the land and climate between the Atlantic and the Urals, and a story of what happened in all of that from prehistory to the twentieth century—that can happen, it happened a few years ago in a big book published in London—we certainly have the following experience regularly.. We open the book to an account of something called in every European language ‘The Middle Age’ (in English, eccentrically, ‘Middle.. Ages.. ’, but no matter).. Formally this is the start of the story but its self-description says it is the middle of it.. Is the story to be told perhaps in the manner of a modernistic novel with the middle of the narrative coming (clever!).. before.. its first part? A brief investigation finds that this is not the case.. The first chapters deal mainly with Goths (Visi- and Ostro-), Vandals, Huns, Avars and others, peoples with whom Europe in no period, let alone its middle one, had anything to do, Nor, indeed, do these chapters appear to be recounting the ‘middle age’ of.. any.. history known to man.. The ‘middle age’ in question turns out to be simply the way that orthodox European historians name the thousand years.. between the end of the Roman Empire in the West in the 5.. century and the end of the first age of European history around 1500.. In the matter of serving intelligibility or logic of the historical narrative, they might as well have called this stretch of historical time the ‘humpty-dumpty age’! Clearly, if we are at this late stage to have a real history of Europe, one which is in fact what it purports to be, the first step will be to get rid of the narrative boorishness that, beginning with something called ‘The Middle Age’, arrives after centuries of extraneous narrative at.. the beginning and first age of Europe.. Pressing also for removal is that recurrent feature of the conventional history of Europe that presents myths as reality.. Nothing wrong with myths in themselves: they are a device by which people who want to give special importance and meaning to an event, prehistoric or historical, do so figuratively rather than literally.. But they are by definition not history, not what a great historian called.. wie es eigentlich gewesen.. —‘as it really was’.. Beginning in northern Europe in the eighteenth century, but preponderantly in the nineteenth, backward-directed historical myth-making worked powerfully.. Its agents were Protestants and classical Liberals who, having created or accepted the myth of Modernity and Progress, wanted to show themselves and their era as heirs to modernising and progressive pioneers whose heads touched the sky; men who by their action and their minds liberated mankind from the thraldom and darkness of the Pope, the Catholic Church and clergy of any hue, along with Superstition and Tradition of all kinds.. To this end, as historians of Europe, or simply as writers about that history, they created a ‘post-medieval’ European history that had been launched, liberatingly for Europeans and mankind, by three mythical events: ‘the Renaissance’, ‘the Reformation’ and ‘the Enlightenment’.. As an endeavour by those who engaged in it, it is understandable, but its creations are useless to real history.. It is not true that, first in fifteenth-century Italy, then in Europe generally, there was a rebirth of high culture, artistic achievement and intellectual vigour after a long.. dark period when these were absent.. It is not true that ‘the Reformation’ was an event in.. European.. history: that at a certain point in the sixteenth century Europe rejected the Pope and opted for a Protestant reform of Christian faith and practice more in keeping with the Gospel.. And it is not true that from the end of the seventeenth century to the French Revolution, leading European minds experienced a degree of insight equivalent to that which the Buddha achieved and which pious Buddhists aspire to.. So it is necessary in the real telling of European history to eschew a narrative which presents or suggests those untruths.. Primarily this would be so as to keep to the true story.. But it would also render more acceptable to the rational reader a story that in narrating the French Revolution must mention its savagery, and in narrating twentieth-century Europe must advert to the fact that this great civilisation produced the century most destructive of human life in human history.. In both instances a story to be  ...   brief civil war, Charles, Lothair and Louis agreed in the Treaty of Verdun to divide the empire into three kingdoms.. The divisions, longitudinal from north to south, produced West, Middle and East Francia.. Lothair, as the eldest and king of the middle kingdom, bore also the title of emperor.. Through several subsequent generations, revised partitions together with territorial breakaways would transform West Francia into the kingdom of France, East Francia into the kingdom of Germany, and erase Middle Francia as an entity.. At the same time, a ‘rebalkanisation’ into lordships of various sizes and kinds was occurring.. In the latter part of Charlemagne’s reign sea-faring warriors and traders from Denmark and Norway, called Vikings or Norsemen, had become an aggressive presence in the North Sea and North Atlantic.. They travelled in distinctive longships which had a shallow draft that made them easy to beach and usable in rivers as well as on the sea.. Their lightness made them easily portable.. In England, Scotland, Ireland and northwest France, the Vikings raided monasteries for their treasures, often killing the monks.. Emboldened by the death of Louis the Pious in 840 and the quarrels that ensued, they attacked Rouen and, using the Seine as a highway, besieged Paris until they were bought off with gold.. It would be the first of four attacks on the city by the Norsemen.. Ultimately the West Frankish king Charles the Simple, tired of buying them off, would agree to yield to the Norseman Rollo the territory thenceforth called the Duchy of Normandy on condition that he would be baptised a Christian and guard the estuaries of the Seine from further attacks.. From Ireland, the Isle of Man and eastern England to Iceland, France and Scandinavia the Vikings established a network of trading settlements, often trading in slaves, many of whom they brought back to their Scandinavian homelands.. This western trading network was linked with an eastern one, established mainly by Swedes called Varangians, that reached through the lands of the Eastern Slavs to the Middle East and Constantinople.. In the course of this eastern penetration a principality called Rus after a Varangian people was established in Kiev.. Converted to Orthodox Christianity, it would ultimately, after an invasion by the Mongols, become the Russian zardom centred on Moscow.. In 924 the Frankish imperial title had fallen vacant.. Thirty-eight years later, in Rome in 962, Pope John XII crowned the German king Emperor of the Romans, thereby initiating a quite different story.. Making a secure space for Europe.. Throughout the tenth century Viking aggression, with attendant settlements, continued.. in the West.. Both would continue well into the eleventh century.. For a time, from 900 to 955, even more serious disruption was caused by a Central Asian people, the Magyars (also known as Hungarians), who after a long migration had settled in the Pannonian Plain on both sides of the Danube and raided westwards.. Clearly, before any new civilisation could be established, stability must be restored.. The Magyars defeated a Bavarian army and a Frankish army led by the then emperor.. In the following years they made powerful looting raids into Germany, through France as far as Spain and into Italy.. In 955 their incursions into the West were stopped by a decisive defeat at the Lechfeld near Augsburg at the hands of Otto I, Duke of Saxony and King of the Germans.. It was as a consequence of this that Pope John XII conferred on Otto the vacant Roman imperial crown.. Thereafter, the Magyars, having withdrawn to their base territory, roughly present-day Hungary, concentrated on building a Hungarian state.. In 1001 their leaders accepted Christianity, made Stephen I their first king, and were confirmed in their territory by the Pope.. About ten years before that, beginning in Aquitaine and than spreading to other parts of France and beyond its borders, the Peace of God movement had emerged.. Bishops and abbots summoned assemblies of villagers, lords and knights to meet in the presence of saints’ relics.. The assemblies were made to swear to keep the peace.. the nobles to refrain from killing unarmed clergy and civilian men, women and children.. As this movement continued into the eleventh century it was seconded by a Truce of God movement which became one with it.. The Truce of God was a commitment to refrain from fighting on holy days and on Fridays.. In Germany efforts were made to ensure that the Emperor’s duty to maintain the.. Landfriede.. or peace of the realm became more fact than theory.. In Anglo-Saxon England similar efforts were made to make the legally stipulated ‘king’s peace’ a reality.. All these efforts failed to produce decisive results, especially in France; but they at least made commonplace the doctrine that violence could not run rampant and that there were ethical limits to what powerful armed men might do.. A decisive reduction of wars among the nobles had to wait until the summoning of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II in 1095 induced many knights and their retinues to set out for Jerusalem.. In the course of the eleventh century Viking maritime activity diminished and gradually ceased.. Many Vikings had settled permanently abroad, merging with the local Christian population where such existed and in Iceland founding a new Norse nation.. Others remained in Scandinavia to enjoy their accumulated wealth.. Christianity had been making inroads there, and now strong Christian monarchies emerged in each of the three nations.. The fact that these nascent nation-states forbade the enslavement of Christians removed much of the incentive for trade.. In 1066 the now French-speaking Norse of Normandy invaded and conquered England and established a ruling dynasty.. Growing in the form of Latin Christendom was the community of nation-states that would make Europe.. In 1095 even Scandinavia sent contingents to join the first European joint venture, the First Crusade..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: ‘The Renaissance’ in European History.. From.. The Revision of European History.. , 2003.. ‘Renaissance’ is the most glamorous piece of shorthand in historical language.. J.. R.. Hale.. Philosophy is a struggle against the fascination that words exert on us.. Ludwig Wittgenstein.. Much revision has been done on ‘the Renaissance‘ as a concept and designation, but confusion and misunderstanding remain prevalent.. I begin with the simplest questions.. Does 'the Renaissance' refer to an event in Italy or in Western Europe generally? It refers to both or to either; when the Italian location is intended, it is short for 'the Italian Renaissance'.. Used on its own, it leaves the hearer or reader guessing.. When did the Renaissance occur? Consulted in sequence, works that refer to it or deal with it leave one puzzled.. Concise Oxford Dictionary,.. without specifying a location on the planet, says: 'in the 14th-16th centuries'.. Peter Burke of Cambridge University, in.. The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy.. (1999) treats his subject as occurring in the fifteenth and in most of the sixteenth century.. In.. A History of Music of the Western World 1100-1980,.. a series of taped lectures published in Britain and the USA in the early 1990s, the tape entitled 'Music of the Renaissance' has the dates 1480-1620 appended.. The lecturer, Anthony Rooley of Oxford University, introduces his subject with the words 'Europe in the sixteenth century.. ' Norman Davies, for his part, in his.. Europe: A History.. (1996) treads a well-worn path in having the Italian Renaissance begin 'circa 1450' and continue through the first half of the sixteenth century.. The title of a book by J.. R.. Hale of University College, London, published in 1971, surprises:.. Renaissance Europe 1480-1520.. , a mere forty years? Or is it intended as a snapshot of a longer period?.. By an established convention of historians, the Renaissance and the discovery of America marked the beginning of the ‘Modern Age’ in or around 1500 or in the latter part of the 1400s.. Conventionally, ‘modern’ connotes among other things ‘post-superstition, enlightened’.. But the modernity of the Renaissance in that sense has latterly been called in question on the.. From.. , Belfast, Athol Books, 2003.. grounds that a notable feature of the Italian culture of 1450-1600was an increased interest in magic, alchemy and witchcraft.. Accordingly, modernity’s blessed dawn would need to be brought forward to the Scientific Revolution or the so-called ‘Enlightenment’! But that would make the Renaissance 'medieval', when in the accepted scheme of historical ages it was.. post.. -medieval; came.. after.. the 'Middle Age'.. Indeed, the already cited.. Concise Oxford Dictionary.. —and it is not alone in this—also clashes with that scheme of ages by placing the start of the Renaissance in the by all accounts ‘medieval’ 1300s.. That apart, the dictionary’s vague three centuries – 14.. -16.. – with their many variations of circumstances and mentality, is hardly a satisfactory temporal designation for something that is presented as an ‘event’ in European history.. In passing, be it remarked that 'the Middle Age' is, like ‘the Renaissance’, a term coined by the victors in an ideological struggle.. So it, too, calls for scrutiny of its designative accuracy.. At least in a chapter-heading in his history of Europe, Davies takes the overdue step.. of removing the eccentric and blurring plural that has afflicted it in, alone among languages, English.. I have the impression that, whereas it originally stood for the period between the fourth or fifth century and 1453 or 1500.. , we have come to understand ‘medieval’ as referring roughly to the years 1000 to 1500.. Provisionally, I will use ‘the Middle Age’ in this sense, while intending to return to the matter and to discuss the preceding centuries, which used to be called in English ‘the Dark Ages’.. (Correction, I have just noticed that term in Davies’ book!).. Gordon Leff, in his book.. Medieval Thought.. , writes:.. It has become so much a habit to describe any sudden growth of culture as a renaissance that we are in danger of depriving the expression of any meaning.. That sentence comes at the start of Leff's chapter on the (genuine) Carolingian Renaissance.. in the ninth century.. The point he is making, implicitly, is that 'renaissance' means, properly and only, a rebirth; in cultural matters, a fresh start of creativity and innovation after a period when they have been absent or scantily present.. And in fact,.. pace.. Leff, 'renaissance' still does convey that meaning—even when it is misapplied as in the case of ‘.. the.. Renaissance’! That.. I am referring to the first uses of ‘Middle Age’ (.. medium aevum,.. Mittelalter}.. with a pan-European denotation, which occurred in Holland and Germany in the 1600s.. When the Italian enthusiasts of ancient Rome had used such 'middle' terms, beginning in 1469 with.. media tempestas,.. the reference was to a (variable) period of.. Italian.. history.. term is generally understood to mean an epoch-making return of culture or, more precisely, of high culture – first in Italy, then in Europe generally – after a ‘Middle Age’ when it was absent or in meagre supply.. (That age had, in its latter centuries, produced Italy’s greatest poet, Dante, and most eminent philosopher, Thomas Aquinas – not to mention Bologna and Padua universities, Francis of Assisi, Giotto, Petrarch, Boccaccio and St Catherine of Siena.. ) Also generally believed is that the cultural rebirth in question included, or was actually caused by, a revival of studious interest in Graeco-Roman culture after a long period of neglect or ignorance of it.. Oxford Dictionary.. definition reflects both aspects of this received belief: 'the revival of art and literature under the influence of classical models.. '.. Peter Burke records simply a new 'enthusiasm for classical antiquity' without any revival except that of Italian vernacular literature at the end of the fifteenth century.. Before that, he tells us, for nearly a century, antiquarian enthusiasm had caused most poetry to be written in Latin.. In painting as in sculpture a vogue arose for a naturalism inspired by surviving Roman sculpture and literary descriptions of ancient painting.. For those who regarded the new painting as proper painting and ‘Italian’, as opposed to the non-naturalistic ‘Greek’ or Byzantine style which had been prevalent in Italy, this was a revival.. But the models for the music came, not from the past, but from Flanders, which in the fifteenth century and into the sixteenth was the leading centre of European music.. Flanders also contributed oil-paints and stretched canvas to Italian painting.. Flemish painting had been naturalistic from the start.. Anthony Rooley, for his part, in his tape on ‘The Music of the Renaissance’, relays the 'cultural rebirth' idea whole.. 'Europe in the sixteenth century,' he says, 'was a vigorously creative place.. There was a rebirth of inspired artistic activity in music, painting, poetry and sculpture that spread like wildfire through Italy, France, Spain, Germany and England.. ' Perplexingly, the tape previous to Rooley’s has described the 'inspired' musical culture of the Middle Age, especially in northern France shortly after the great cathedrals had been built, and when Paris was Europe's first intellectual centre.. With the widespread notion of the Renaissance as a cultural rebirth goes the suggestion that in all European history there has never been anything so culturally splendid.. The titling of the series of tapes just referred to reflects this.. The lectures on medieval music are presented soberly as 'New Arts for Old, 1100-1480', and those dealing with the Viennese music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven prosaically as 'The Sonata and the Creative Ideal: The Classical Period 1750-1830'.. But the two Renaissance lectures are trumpeted as 'Musick's Feaste'—the playfully antique spelling contributing to the implied celebration of a special excellence!.. Such kneejerk glamourisation of anything connected with 'the Renaissance' is commonplace.. Two further instances are the notion of 'Renaissance man' as a many-skilled genius, and the flatteringly ambiguous use of 'humanist' and 'humanism' in the Renaissance context.. For 'Renaissance man', Peter Burke finds little evidence in the historical facts.. For the general purposes of his study, he uses a selection of 600 members of the Italian creative elite from the late 1300s into the 1500s: painters, sculptors, writers, 'humanists', scientists and musicians.. Of these he finds eighteen who practised three arts or more, fifteen of them architects.. Remarking that architecture at the time was a bridge between science, sculpture and 'humanistic' studies, he adds that 'apart from Alberti [one of the eighteen] these many-sided men belong to the.. tradition.. of the nonspecialist craftsmen rather than that of the gifted amateur' (.. italics added.. 'Humanist' came into English from the Italian.. umanista.. in the sixteenth century.. It meant simply a student, teacher or scholar of 'the humanities' as distinct from 'divine' matters.. studia humanitatis.. comprised grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history and ethics.. The teaching was done in Latin and was based entirely on classical authors.. In other words, a 'humanist' was what we now call a 'classicist'.. That was still what Dr Johnson had in mind when in 1755 he defined 'humanist' in his Dictionary as: 'A philologer; a grammarian'.. But in the course of the nineteenth century, that sense of the word faded from ordinary language, and 'humanist' began to have the philanthropic, philosophical meaning it normally has today.. It was joined in that new sense by 'humanism', taken from the German (where it had originally denoted only classical education).. Later, both words acquired yet another meaning denoting, in civil affairs, the sufficiency pf human rational effort and hostility to interference by religion.. he effect, without as much as a hint to the unwary, was to dress all the Latin and Greek scholars of the 1400s and subsequently in the livery of 'humanists' and 'humanism'.. in these new senses vaguely combined.. Once established, this ideological and misleading representation of the Renaissance classicists has persisted, both in academic books and in popular history, into the present day.. Hand in hand with the glamourisation of the Renaissance has gone a progressive denigration of the preceding Middle Age.. Despite a century of historical writing aimed at correcting this, its correction in narratives of ‘the history of Europe’ has not been so diligent.. Partly for this reason, in the minds and speech even of educated people, 'Middle Ages' and 'medieval' continue to connote at least a primitive and ignorant condition, at most a barbarous one.. More, the notion persists that West European life in those centuries was qualitatively inferior to that of ancient Rome and Greece.. In part these resistances to a more realistic view of the Middle Age flow directly from the glamourisation of the Renaissance.. Abandoning the 'dark' view of the Middle Age would detract from the 'bright' view of the Renaissance - and from the aptness of the word itself.. In order to present a true, clear view of 'the Italian Renaissance' and 'the Renaissance' generally, and to integrate this into a true, clear history of Europe, it is necessary to sort out what took place around that time in Italy and in Western Europe generally; and to examine why it has come to be represented in an unhistorical and confused manner.. In providing my own corrective account of these matters, I am aware that I will in part be making points which have been made in previous critiques of the 'Renaissance myth'.. In the Bibliography of the book by Peter Burke that I have referred to, I notice an entire work of such criticism: Bullen, J.. B.. ,.. The Myth of the Renaissance in Nineteenth-Century Writing.. (1994).. And indeed, in another short book by Burke himself, called simply.. The Renaissance.. , the first chapter is headed 'The Myth of the Renaissance'.. But I am writing about European history and I cannot take for granted that all who are interested in that are also familiar with critical writing on ‘the Renaissance’ in particular.. For the sake of argument, I shall follow Davies’s well-worn track and regard the ‘Italian Renaissance’ as beginning around 1450 and continuing to around 1550.. I define the movement in question as one of heightened innovation in the arts and in scholarship and worldview.. It was preceded in 1400-50 by what is often referred to as the ‘Early Renaissance’; a general growth of interest in the Graeco-Roman past – with the emphasis on Roman and the Greek element secondary - that was centred mainly in Florence, together with remarkable artistic innovation in the same city.. In 1450-1550 the Florentine movement expanded throughout Italy; Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were active; the Graeco-Roman revival reached and passed its zenith; vernacular literature re-emerged strongly; and the movement as a whole impinged on European generally.. Cultural renaissances do occur; we know what they are like.. In Charlemagne's Frankish empire, under the guidance of Alcuin, there was indeed, after two particularly barren centuries, a brief renaissance.. A great and sustained re-emergence of high culture – the first such in Western Europe since the fall of Rome – occurred in France in the twelfth century and extended into the thirteenth.. Embracing theology, philosophy, architecture, classical Latin, vernacular literature and the plastic arts, it deserves to figure in European history as ‘the Renaisance’ if this term is to be employed.. (It does not so figure because the Italian antiquarians of the fifteenth century rubbished its achievements and its legacy and exalted their own movement as the true rebirth; and northwestern European historians in later centuries took them at their word and inflated it.. ) Then again, in Germany in the final third of the eighteenth century there was an outstanding cultural renaissance.. And in many small nations, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries , there were lesser ones.. By all these measures, in the fifteenth century in Italy no cultural renaissance is discernible, rather a culmination of the high culture of the preceding two centuries and its gradual transformation into a high culture of a different kind.. European civilisation around 1450 was still young as civilisations go, but in its most developed areas it did not compare badly with its Roman predecessor.. Understandably, in some material respects, such as road-building and hydraulic engineering, it was inferior to Roman civilisation at its height.. But in most kinds of structural engineering it equalled Rome and in the Crusades it had shown itself capable of using military force successfully at a great distance and holding the conquered territory for a time.. It still lacked Rome's ability to make such distant conquest on an extensive scale and to maintain it for centuries.. Europe's monotheism, on the other hand, and its related morality based on neighbour-love, were superior to the religion and morality of Rome.. And while European intellectual life fell short of the Graeco-Roman world in its range of enquiry, within its narrower scope it was intense and ambitious and—because Europe had invented universities—better organised.. Between 1100 and 1400, in a succession of styles that were in turn described as 'modern', new kinds of thought, poetry, prose, painting, music and architecture had flourished.. Institutional creativity in city-states and kingdoms was on a par with that of the ancient world.. And again, while Europe was in some material respects inferior to Rome at its height, in other material ways which favoured productive power, military effectiveness or the amenity of everyday living it was in advance of it.. Wheelbarrows and big shafted carts favoured facilitated carrying.. The invention of the head-collar for horses had tripled their drawing capacity.. Specially bred ‘cart horses’ pulling all-iron ploughs had increased agricultural yield.. Eye-spectacles had greatly lengthened the productive life both of scholars and of such artisans as needed keen eyesight.. Thousands of windmills and water-mills served multiple purposes; the water-mills were used for, among other things, the manufacture of paper.. Mechanical clocks measured time in hours of equal duration.. Ships were equipped with fixed rudders and guided by compasses.. The biggest ships, carrying multiple decks, two or three masts and great expanses of sail, were capable of long ocean voyages.. Stirrups giving foot-purchase to sword-wielding horsemen, the deadly shots of cross-bows, and gunpowder put to use in firearms and cannon, made a few hundred European soldiers more than a match for a Roman legion equipped with its conventional artillery.. Cities helped finance themselves with public loans.. Arabic numerals with their zero sign, and insurance and paper money backed by bankers, facilitated trading.. Among the well-to-do, everyday life was enhanced by such innovations as buttons, gloves, underpants, table forks, and fireplaces with chimneys.. In helping the poor and alleviating misfortune, pawning establishments subscribed to by the well-to-do supplemented the charity of monasteries.. In all these aspects of contemporary West European life, Italy was either typical or to the fore.. Many of its cities, moreover, were works of urban art containing buildings and art works of great beauty.. In the centuries preceding 1450, Italy, along with northern and southern France and northern Spain, had had the most continuously flourishing high culture in Europe.. In the following hundred years the developing Italian high culture reached a splendid culmination.. The notion, first, that this culmination was, in fact as distinct from rhetoric, a cultural renaissance - and then that it was.. ‘the.. Renaissance’ of European history – arose centuries later, north of the Alps.. It derived, initially, not from the great art of the period, but from the simultaneous antiquarian movement.. It is instructive to observe how this happened.. The Graeco-Roman movement inherited and shared in a restorative ideology which had been present in Italian culture since the early 1300.. In each new generation, dissident intellectuals had seen ‘resurrection’, a ‘return to life’ or ‘rebirth’ occurring in their time.. In Rome Cola di Rienzo had made an abortive attempt to restore the Roman Republic politically.. Successively, the revivalist intellectuals had lengthened the previous period of alleged barbarism or darkness In the first such instance, it was merely the hundred years preceding Dante’s.. Divine Comedy.. By the 1400s it was the thousand-year ‘middle age’ between the fall of Rome and the present.. Among the alleged forces of barbarian darkness that thwarted true culture and oppressed.. Italia.. were the 'Greek' style of painting, French 'Gothic' architecture, 'barbarous' English logicians, Parisian physics, the ignorant treatment of ancient authors, the scholastic.. distortion of Aristotle and the neglect of Plato.. Apart from ‘the Greeks’, these offences were attributed variously to 'the moderns', 'the Goths', 'the Germans' or 'the Franks'.. France, because of its previous cultural dominance, figured as the principal centre from  ...   city, Martin Boheim had made the first terrestrial globe.. Nuremberg was then the main European centre for the publication of books on mathematics and astronomy—translations from the Greek and new works—and for the manufacture of instruments used in astronomy and navigation.. It had a close connection with the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese navigators.. The 'history of Europe' does tell us of Copernicus and his sensational announcement of a sun-centred celestial system that made earth and man peripheral.. But because it does not present Copernicus in his cultural and intellectual context, it fails to convey a related historical fact of almost equal importance: the foundation of European as distinct from Graeco-Arab mathematics in Germany in the 1400s.. Copernicus, before he latinised his name, was Nikolaus Koppernigk, born in 1473 in a German town in Pomerania that had recently come under Polish suzerainty.. His theory of the heavens derived more from mathematical calculation than from accurate observations.. When dedicating his main work.. De Revolutionibus.. to Pope Paul III, he described its findings as 'mathematical truths' [which] 'can be judged only by mathematicians'.. So he in fact profited by, and contributed to, a mathematical movement that had begun before his birth, in Austria with Georg von Peuerbach.. Contemporary concern about the disorder of the calendar gave the movement a bias towards astronomy.. Von Peuerbach's interests ranged from arithmetic and algebra to the motions of the planets.. He compiled the first European ephemeris, a table predicting the daily positions of celestial bodies.. His pupil and collaborator, Johann Müller, a Franconian—he used the Latin name Regiomontanus—was the leading mathematician of his time.. He compiled the almanac of astronomical data,.. Tabulae Directionum,.. used by Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci in their transatlantic voyages in the 1490s.. As Copernicus would later do more successfully, he grappled with the problems raised by the Ptolemaic system of the heavenly bodies.. Around the time of the transatlantic voyages, Copernicus, at Cracow university (he later attended three Italian universities) was studying Regiomontanus's.. Tabulae Directionum.. and a work by Peuerbach.. Much later, in 1539, when he had completed.. but was hesitating to publish it, a posthumously published work on trigonometry by Regiomontanus,.. De Triangulis.. caused him to revise his own book's trigonometry.. had been brought to him at Frauenburg in East Prussia by an admirer, Georg Joachim von Lauchen, a mathematician teaching at Wittenberg university.. Von Lauchen, also known as Rheticus, persuaded Copernicus to publish.. He arranged to have.. printed in Nuremberg in 1543.. The developing mathematical skills also helped in depicting the earth.. In 1507 Martin Waldseemüller from Baden led an upsurge in improved map-making which culminated in Germany with Mercator and in Flanders with Ortelius.. In the printed maps of the world which Waldseemüller published in that year, he named the newly-discovered continent's southern half 'America'.. Mercator (Gerhard Kremer), in 1538, applied the name to the entire continent.. I have said sufficient to make several things clear.. Innovation north of the Alps was providing an abundance of new useful tools which signalled the new age and shaped it: for example, the techniques of oil-painting and book-printing, pocket-watches, advanced mathematics, mariners' almanacs and navigational instruments, terrestrial globes, improved maps of the world and a radically improved cosmography.. On a different plane, Luther launched the strain of Christianity which, as Protestantism in its various manifestations, would best express the spirit of the new age until the eighteenth century and beyond.. And before the 1500s ended, Germany had given Europe, in the Faust legend, the myth that represented the age's essence.. There is therefore something seriously unbalanced about presenting contemporary Italian culture as the birth of European 'modernity'.. Its elevation to this role appears to reflect the aestheticist bias and romantic nostalgia the northern Liberals who elevated it.. In line with the historical scheme they created, the coeval German cultural scene is generally presented as ‘the German Renaissance’ with the emphasis on that country’s classical ‘humanism’.. and pictorial art.. Talk of Procrustean beds: the art in question, far from being 'Renaissance', in the conventional meaning, is in fact a final crowning development of the Gothic, with a sprinkling of contemporary Italian influence!.. But the imbalance is not only a matter of failing to give an adequate account of innovation in Germany and Flanders.. While such figures as Raphael, Brunelleschi and Pico della Mirandola are presented in their cultural context and therefore with adequate intelligibility, innovators such as Gutenberg, Copernicus and Luther who had much profounder historical influence are not.. Given the focus on Italy, there is a suggestion of their being marginal, isolated figures from the northern, still Gothic forests, when in fact—like the unmentioned Henleins, Boheims and Müllers and the new map-makers—they were central shapers of the new age; innovators participating in a modernising culture where no one preferred ancient Rome or decried a barbarous intervening period.. The suggestion of northern marginality persists even when we are told, as the standard history more or less does tell us, that in the years after 1500 the house of Fugger in Augsburg was the financial centre of Europe, controlling copper production from Hungary to Spain and using the new sea routes to trade with the East Indies.. Here is not the place to develop the matter apart from pointing out that in 1450-1520, in western and southern Germany and in Italy from Rome northwards, two high creative movements were in progress—diverse, independent, communicating, and to some degree engaged in the same or similar pursuits.. Add to this what was happening then in Flanders, Spain and Portugal.. There is an exciting prospect for the historian of Europe who, recognising these facts, depicts this period as the culmination of the first, and the multiple beginnings of the second age of Europe.. But to return to the matter we left.. Jakob Burckhardt's.. , published in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, offered a view of the Italian phenomenon not so much as a rebirth of high culture, but as the birth, rather, of individualism, realism and secularism.. After a slow start, the book ultimately reached and held a wide readership, not least because it conveyed an enchanting message.. With the help of much learning, it suggested that in the ('individualistic, realist, secular') men of Renaissance Italy – which for Burckhardt begins in the early 1300s - Modern Man first appeared.. To many Liberal and Protestant bourgeois around 1900 and many uprooted intellectuals in the following half-century, this offered a beguiling image of their spiritual origins.. Criticism has shown that with regard to 'individualism' Burckhardt exaggerated.. Even in the years around 1500 most Italian city-dwellers still regarded themselves as members of corporations of various kinds.. Peter Burke quotes Burckhardt in later life as admitting in private that he no longer believed what he had written about the matter.. 'But I don't say so,' he added, 'it gives people so much pleasure'.. Certainly what we call 'individualism' was growing in Italy as in Western Europe generally, but around 1500 it was more notably evident in the transoceanic activities of Spaniards and Portuguese, and of Italian mariners in foreign service such as Columbus, Vespucci and the Cabots.. And it was in Germany in 1520 that a clarion.. The omission of these world-discovering Italian navigators from the conventional account of 'the Italian Renaissance'—from a place alongside Michelangelo, Leonardo and Ariosto—is part of the tendentious misrepresentation of this Italian high creative period as a lofty phenomenon of spirit, art and learning, quite separate from the innovatory practical activity of contemporary Europe.. call was issued to all Christians to think and act, individually, as responsible, priestly members of the Church.. For people to be 'secular' in mind or action, they must first be conscious of a clear distinction between the sacred and the secular.. Apart from the long-standing legal distinctions between clergy and laity, that was as little the case throughout most of the ‘Renaissance’ period as it was in ancient Rome or Greece.. But that said, it is true that, in Italian art and thought between 1450 and the 1520s, what we would call realism and the secular increased their presence.. This, taken together with other phenomena of the Italian high creative period after 1450, points to what is in fact its primary novelty and its principal epoch-making feature.. Add to those 'thisworldly' tendencies in the arts the increased interest in 'human' studies as distinct from 'divine' ones; the spur towards high secular achievement provided by the Graeco-Roman revival; the new emphasis on the dignity and potential of man; the appearance of analytical writing of Italian history; the splendid and scandalous worldliness of the popes and the papal court; the emergence of Christian activism among secular clergy and among laymen; the first European theorising of 'the State' as a natural entity and some pioneering instances of state absolutism; the ruthless expansionist war and politics of such as the Viscontis, the Sforzas and Cesare Borgia; and the titanic self-confidence, capacity and ambition of Michelangelo, Alberti and Leonardo.. All these point to a substantial refocusing of minds and wills in a thisworldly direction.. It is a 'secular turn’; a lunge of the restrained secular commitment of Europe’s first age into aggressive confidence and vigour.. Burke cites, as one of the few possible means of measuring that progress, a study that quantifies Italian paintings with 'secular subjects' as roughly five per cent in the 1420s and twenty per cent in the 1520s.. Add the fact that that, along with this increase in 'secular subjects', there was also, both in Italian and in Flemish religious paintings, an increased depiction and celebration of objects and surroundings redolent of material well-being.. In this general context it is interesting to note that the Italian universities had never been notable—as were Oxford and Paris—for theological studies.. Their forte lay in law and medicine.. No country was more predisposed than Italy to take the lead in Europe’s secular lunge.. René Huyghe in.. Art and the Spirit of Man.. attributes 'the discovery of matter' to the Flemish rather than the Italian painters, whose realism he finds intellectual.. In Italy in the 1520s, the uncontested ascendancy of realism ended.. Inspired initially by German Late Gothic art, non-realist, anti-classical styles emerged.. Art historians who identify ‘the Italian Renaissance’ with classical naturalism see it as ending here.. I find Davies generally convincing when, in his treatment of ‘the Renaissance’, he locates its main defining feature in the sphere of mind and feeling and describes it in the following terms:.. The principal product of the new thinking lay in a growing conviction that humanity was capable of mastering the world in which it lived.. The great Renaissance figures were filled with self-confidence.. They felt that God-given ingenuity could, and should, be used to unravel the secrets of God's universe; and that, by extension, man's fate on earth could be controlled and improved.. Here was the decisive break with the mentality of the Middle Ages, whose religiosity and mysticism were reinforced by exactly the opposite conviction—that men and women were the helpless pawns of Providence, overwhelmed by the incomprehensible workings of their environment and of their own nature.. Surprisingly, coming from the usually measured Davies, that last sentence exaggerates the contrast between the emerging mentality and the one that had prevailed for centuries.. In the ‘Middle Age’, as in contemporary Islam, 'mysticism' was one thing, ‘religiosity’ quite another.. 'Helpless pawns of Providence, overwhelmed' by their circumstances was not how the kingdom-building monarchs and empire-building emperors, the commercial imperialists of the Hansa, bankers of Florence and Antwerp, roistering Paris students, Venetian doges and courtesans, crusading Norman barons or Teutonic Knights had seen themselves.. It is true, however, that in the first age of Europe which was now ending, the human and material world and man's ability to master it had been valued less than the supernatural reality centred on Christ, and man's ability to participate in it.. With that difference of valuation went the belief that only the spiritual power conferred by Christ was absolutely good and desirable, inasmuch as it enabled people to live in God's grace and ultimately to dwell forever in heaven.. In comparison with that power, which enabled people to 'overcome the world’, the intellectual and ultimately physical power that enabled people actively to master the world was of little account.. What had now emerged among the Italian elite—and among some other European elites, but in an exemplary manner in Italy—was an increased valuation of man and the world and a corresponding belief that not only was he capable of mastering it, but that such mastery was of great account.. It represented a value almost equal to the absolute value of being able to live eternally in heaven.. From this it followed that it was incumbent on people, collectively and individually, to develop and use to the maximum, within the guidelines of Christian truth and morality, the potential for control and remaking of their circumstances that lay within them.. In the context of this emerging avid will to collective and personal secular power for its own sake, the antiquarian obsession with world-conquering Rome, and with the most gifted personalities of the classical civilisations, makes sense.. An erroneous cliché long opposed a 'Christian' Renaissance in Northern Europe to a 'pagan' one in Italy.. Mainly this sprang from lighthearted Italian play-acting with ancient pagan symbolism and allusion—it occurred even in papal circles—being taken too seriously by North European sobersides.. But it is also a fact that in the secular turn that manifested itself in Italy around 1500 there was a small, unrepresentative 'left wing', so to speak, which was not committed to pursuing the secular enterprise within the guidelines of Christian truth and morality.. Some surviving writings and other evidence show this.. The unformulated belief of this minority of the elite seems to have been that the intellectual and ultimately physical mastery of the world were goods of.. absolute.. value, so that securing them justified breaching, in effect, the Christian limits on thought and behaviour.. Machiavelli is the most notable example of this tendency; but even Machiavelli received the Last Sacraments before his death.. The argument of this essay with regard to the Italy of 1450-1550 can be summed up as follows.. A realistic account of this Italian period would be along the following lines:.. In the mid-fifteenth century, stimulated by some cultural developments in Florence, Italy entered a high creative period which lasted until well into the seventeenth century.. Among the features which characterised the early part of this period were a Graeco-Roman revival animated by a myth of 'rebirth by return to origins'—the period has often been naively called 'the Italian Renaissance'—and a passionate secular turn directed towards mastery of the world by human effort.. In the sixteenth century this flourishing Italian culture, especially its Graeco-Roman revivalism, its architecture and painting, vernacular literature and worldly spirit, influenced European culture generally.. It did this partly by offering innovations which were readily accepted or strongly resisted, but mainly by strengthening already existing cultural trends.. The way would then be open to elaborate on that last sentence, allowing each of the other national cultures its true and different story, as distinct from trying to force them all into a mould called 'the Renaissance' just because that mythical mould exists.. Davies hints at this truer kind of narrative by using the plural 'renaissances' in the title of his relevant chapter.. But there still remains the shadow of the Procrustean mould.. In England, but later, under Elizabeth I and particularly after the defeat of the Spanish armada, there was indeed a renaissance.. But it was not part of any general European movement; and much of what has been called 'Renaissance' in sixteenth-century England and in Europe generally is simply 'Italian influence' and more accurately described as such.. Ideally, however, as I have suggested above, the account of Italy in 1450-1550 would move in the context of simultaneous innovative movement on both sides of the Alps.. Apart from the arguments I have already made for this, there is this clinching one.. The stereotypically 'Italian Renaissance' activity of searching for and finding forgotten Latin manuscripts was carried out to a large extent in the monastic libraries of Switzerland and of western and southern Germany by Italian and German scholars.. in colleaguely collaboration.. Dismantling the myth of ‘the Renaissance’, and acquiring an approximate view of the true course of Italian culture in those years, has taken a greater length of words than I expected at the outset.. The obvious reason is that the myth of the Renaissance, entangled as it is with the myths of the Middle Age and Modernity, is the foundation on which the.. ideological.. History of Europe was consolidated in the nineteenth century.. It was on that basis, with the Renaissance poised between a debased Middle Age and an exalted Modern Age, that the ensuing mythical sequence 'Reformation, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, Rights of Man, (liberating) Industrial Revolution, (civilising) World Empire' was constructed to represent the European Path of Comprehensive Liberation and Progress – not merely of Europe, but through Europe of Man.. So in dismantling 'the (Italian) Renaissance' one encounters the entire matter of European history and is obliged to deal with it to some degree.. In particular, one encounters that mythical notion of Europeans constantly advancing in mental and moral quality beyond those who preceded them.. True, this myth boosted morale and thus encouraged achievement; but it also produced in its believers an ugly kind of behaviour.. So recurrent as to typify the mental set of Europe's second age, it was a behaviour which will not redound to our credit when others, in a future time, come to write our history.. Robert Musil in.. The Man without Qualities.. satirised it in a jokey manner: 'The present looks proudly down on the past, which, if it had come later, would have looked proudly down on the present'.. But it is not really much of a joke to see snobbish elites in one generation after.. If this historical scheme of European Progress had been formulated in the late twentieth century, it would have had to conclude with ‘The Bloodiest Century in Human History’!.. another saying in effect: 'Our ancestors, who were poorer and less powerful than we are, were stupid and vicious to boot.. ' It is a sort of generational racism, in which – to cite the most glaring instance - 'medieval Europe' comes to figure as the first 'Dark Continent' of the European imagination..

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  • Title: Desmond Fennell
    Descriptive info: I.. During the last 90-odd years three revolutions have rejected European civilisation and attempted to permanently replace it: the Russian Communist revolution, the German Nazi revolution and the American left-liberal revolution.. The Russian attempt lasted 70 years, the German attempt was thwarted by military defeat; the American effort, ongoing since the 1960s-70s, has been increasingly shaping life in the West, Ireland centrally included.. In each case the revolutionaries believed that European civilisation was, in differing ways, oppressive and unjust and saw their envisaged new construct as a righter of those wrongs.. A.. civilisation.. is essentially a citied community whose rulers and ruled over a long period subscribe to a grounded hierarchy of values and rules that covers all of life and makes sense.. ‘Over a long period’ (unless a natural or military disaster overwhelms it) because the community is motivated to keep reproducing itself by the sense, and therefore goodness, that it finds in its set of rules, its framework for life.. The rules derive from the values.. Many of them are adjustable or replaceable as the centuries pass and circumstances and mentalities change.. The essential rules are those whose continuous acceptance is necessary for the civilisation to remain itself.. They form its defining core.. European civilisation was constructed in western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries by Latin, Germanic and Celtic Christians; it later crossed the Atlantic and other seas and lasted, with its essential rules intact, into the twentieth century.. Among its essential rules were the following:.. The West is a Christian community of Christian nations.. Its divinity is the Christian God.. Whether on religious grounds or for secular motives, national and international law generally subscribe to the Christian principles of interpersonal and international behaviour.. Connection with the West’s Roman-Greek-Judaic roots is maintained through the educational system and educated public discourse.. An educated man knows Latin.. Art is work which has a formal crafted beauty.. Frugality and chastity are admirable virtues.. Reason takes precedence over instinct, feeling and desire.. Private property is protected by law.. Charity of the rich to the poor and kindness of the healthy to the infirm are moral duties.. Massacre is grievously wrong and strictly forbidden.. Sexual relations are legitimate only in the monogamous betrothal and marriage of man and woman.. Homosexual relations are unnatural and abhorrent.. Abortion is a heinous crime, pornography a degrading evil that must be denied circulation.. Adults do not foist sexual awareness on children.. A girl who bears a child without a committed father is a disgrace.. Human nudity and bodily intimacies are not for public display, but nudity may be represented decorously in art.. Men’s work and women’s work are different.. Men have authority and legal preference over women; they accord women social pre-eminence and physical protection.. Age has authority over youth.. On the evidence it is clear that that set of rules, that framework for life, made sense to our ancestors for nearly a thousand years.. While affirming and reaffirming it, they increased their numbers many times over, created a great intellectual, artistic and scientific culture, and made Europe and the white race leaders and masters of the world.. Liberalism, in the consumerist form in which we have been experiencing it since the 1960s-70s, evolved from the American left liberalism of the 1930s.. Those left-liberal idealists called themselves simply ‘liberals’, ignoring the meaning which this word had had for over a century in the ‘classical liberalism’ of Europe: a meaning which, linked with democracy, had given us in Ireland as elsewhere ‘liberal democracy’.. These new arrivals on the ideological scene wanted to better by state action the condition of the American working class and to end discrimination against minorities of all kinds.. Regarding humanity as a society of individuals, all with a moral claim to equal legal rights, they aimed at a society and a state whose rules would recognise this.. Their first requirement for the radical reforms they sought was an all-powerful state, such as they saw had been achieved in the Soviet Union.. They began to get this in the 1930s when the Great Depression induced President Roosevelt to believe that the American state required greatly increased powers to tackle its economic and social ravages.. Those powers increased again during the Second World War.. In 1945 the acquisition of the atomic bomb made the US state a superpower.. The official justification of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic massacres was the first indication that America, in the pursuit of more power, was prepared to break with and replace the rules of European civilisation.. In the late 1960s, when the US state acquired additionally, the power to put a man on the moon, and the liberal President Johnson was in office, the liberals won control of the legislature and had a sympathetic Supreme Court.. This enabled them to start getting their programme of new social rules made into laws.. The ascendancy of their view of the inherited culture was reflected in the.. Partisan Review.. for Winter 1967, where Susan Sontag, high-priestess of the American intelligentsia, expressed the triumphant passion of those years with the following ringing phrases:.. If America is the culmination of the Western white civilisation, as everyone from the Left to the Right declares, then there must be something terribly wrong with Western white civilisation….. The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets, et al.. , don’t redeem what this particular civilisation has wrought upon the world.. The white race.. is.. the cancer of world history.. Sontag was in tune with the subsequent liberal-inspired outbreak of anti-Europeanism and anti-whitism on university campuses where the DWEMS, the Dead White European Males, were declared the historical oppressors of mankind.. Years later, in 1997, the feminist writer Naomi Wolf, in her book.. Promiscuities,.. remembering her childhood in San Francisco, wrote of 1970: “There were whispered arguments between our parents while we watched TV—arguments about changing the rules, we gathered, that applied to all of us, the dads and moms as well as the kids.. ”.. The liberal agenda.. The liberals wanted an end to the tacit role of the Christian religion as chief determinant, alongside the Constitution, of America’s behavioural rules.. All citizens must be equipped with buying power and have access to education and health services.. Categories of citizens who were legally or otherwise unequal must be raised or lowered to legal equality, so as to create a fraternity of self-determining, mutually-respecting individuals, equal in law, in their treatment by their fellows, and in opportunity for advancement.. Implicit in that programme were ample social welfare; Black civil rights and radical feminism; normalisation of homosexuals and of unmarried mothers and their offspring; political and financial empowerment of young people; maximal empowerment of the physically deficient; invalidation of intrinsic personal authority such as that possessed by clergy, men, parents, teachers and the aged; recognition of instinct and desire as legitimate components of the human person with consequent unshackling of sex and of pornography; the legalisation of abortion; and a blank cheque for science.. The new rules affecting behaviour, thought and language which would be required to implement this programme would be combined with some European rules that did not clash with the new ones.. Opportunistically and with decisive effect, the American government and manufacturing industry supported the liberal programme.. Both saw in it a means of obtaining through increased consumption increased revenue or profit.. The government required more money to pay for putting a man on the moon, for a big extension of social welfare, the production of thousands of atomic bombs and long-range missiles, and the financing of the war in Vietnam.. Manufacturing industry with the help of new technology was producing more goods than it could sell.. As a result of this support from business and the state, left liberalism became, as well as a revolution in social.. mores,.. a force driving consumption and therefore effectively consumerist liberalism.. The active teachers of the new liberal values and rules came to function, tacitly, regardless of which political party was in power, as a sort of secular state church or informal, doctrinally paramount ‘Party’ on the analogy of the supreme teaching organ in Communist states.. Because its role had to do with defining correct thought, speech and behaviour, to call it the ‘liberal Correctorate' seems appropriate.. Pressure from the USA via London began the imposition of this new state-liberal system in America's West European satellites.. Added to the motive of increasing consumption was the.. realpolitik.. aim of countering with the display of increased individual liberty and general affluence the Communist indoctrination of Eastern Europe.. In each West European state, mass-media sympathisers with American liberalism—in Ireland first in.. , then tentatively in the new television station—began preaching the new rules-to-live-by.. (The media, being simultaneously businesses and preaching organs, constituted the intersection between left-liberal idealism and capitalist enterprise.. ) National correctorates took shape.. Ultimately the media as a whole, losing their previous ideological pluralism, conformed to the new doctrine; ‘the media’ became a singular collective entity and noun, paralleling the univocal media of the Communist East.. Progressively, the  ...   that is, the conception and birth of children and the raising of them to adulthood by their father and mother.. If that cluster of rules seems unfavourable to reproduction, then,.. a priori.. the entire framework fails the test of sense.. The liberal element in the new hybrid rules system was not only unfavourable to reproduction: it communicated disregard for it.. Invariably, in this zone of behaviour, the basic rules are those which apply to the use of the reproductive organs.. The Correctorate's new rules ran as follows: provided that minors and adults used their reproductive organs separately, that if more than one user is involved there is mutual consent, and that a contraceptive is employed unless conception is intended, do as you like in private, or in public to gratify an internet audience.. The ideological outgrowths from the rule changes made the disheartening message about reproduction clearer still.. Out of the humane decriminalisation of homosexuality had grown an aggressive celebration of it; out of the decriminalisation of abortion, an imperious assertion that its legal availability was a necessary characteristic of a good society and that it was a good thing if a woman chose it; out of the opening to women of careers previously closed to them, had grown public celebration of any kind of female achievement or public service except that of good motherhood; and out of the ending of legal preferment and privileges for men had issued a downgrading of fathers as educators of their children.. Add that the ending of social disapproval of sexual intercourse outside marriage had metamorphosed into the ubiquitous representation of sexual intercourse as primarily a recreational activity.. Small wonder, then, that only in the aftermath of the greatest wars of the past did so many households consist of a mother living alone with young children.. Talk of liberated women! Over the past half century, as every Western woman knows, the spaces and times in which a woman can move safely alone have been diminishing.. How the senselessness took its toll.. For this combination of reasons, white westerners, sometimes consciously, but mainly subconsciously and therefore uncontrollably, experienced the new rules system as senseless.. They experienced it as senseless in that depth of their being where countless generations of human beings before them had trained them by heredity to assess—in a combined act of reason, feeling and intuition—any presentation purporting to be a framework for life.. And that encounter, when their minds and hearts were seeking sense, sent distress pressing into their consciousness.. Consciousness of the rules-to-live-by that were presented to them was accompanied by a pain of soul; a feeling of offence that sense in life was not being provided to them by their society.. Nothing more natural, then, than that they should want, as individuals, to annul that pain and, collectively, feel little desire to reproduce that white western life.. Sensitive young people, on the threshold of life, are particularly attentive to the framework of rules presented to them.. Little wonder then that many of them practised various methods of annulling the pain.. Many, mainly females, did so by superficial self-injury, in an effort to manage the pain by transferring it from soul to body.. Male and female, they sought the desired annulment, recurrently, through a temporary or partial annihilation of consciousness.. Recurrently, they did this through binge-drinking or drugs or reckless sex, through motorised speed or shrieking self-immersion in celebrity pop concerts or hours-long frenetic dancing; or, ubiquitously, by means of personal stereos or mobile phones feeding distraction, suspending reflection.. Or else, as we know well in Ireland, they increasingly opted for annihilating consciousness permanently; if female, often irresolutely and unsuccessfully, if male, usually with full resolution and success.. Monthly, from Afghanistan, Columbia, Mexico and other producing countries, tons of mood-altering and hallucinating drugs arrived to dull the West's pain.. To the manifold efforts of self-help were added two phenomena characteristic of the age: an unprecedented profusion of professionals of various ilk offering to cure or alleviate psychic distress, and massive production by the pharmaceutical industry of medicaments with a similar purpose.. Those were the years in the history of Europe when women stopped singing as they went about their housework, and boys stopped whistling in the street.. There was also a more protracted reaction.. Motivation to reproduce the given life flagged.. Faced with a senseless life, what seemed, rather, to make sense was a protracted collective suicide.. Significantly, by the early 2000s, among the ethnic groups in the USA, white people had, after the American ‘Indians’, the lowest fertility rate.. For the European Union that rate had fallen to 1.. 5 children per woman, well below the 2.. 1 needed for maintenance of the population.. Several of the larger European countries were expecting sharp declines in population in the next twenty-five years.. The demographic situation of the white West repeated that of Russia in the latter decades of the Soviet Union.. There, the similarly utopian change of rules system under Communism had produced rampant vodka addiction with a steep lowering of male life expectancy, Russians noted with dismay an increasing fall in their fertility rate in contrast to that of the Union's Asian republics.. In the foreseeable future they would be a minority in the Union.. Ersatz sense countering the hunger pain.. The idealistic, money-making liberal system included an effective means of countering, if not the famine of sense, then the conscious impact of the hunger pain.. As a result, most westerners most of the time managed to suppress consciousness of it.. On top of the training they had inherited from the generations before them in assessing for sense the life presented to them, another skin-deep training was now superimposed.. From tender years onwards, the consumerist economy, and the Correctorate's teaching, conditioned them to accept an ersatz sense in place of the real sense they craved for.. This substitute sense was provided, fundamentally, by the.. continuously increasing power to buy things and to do things.. which the consumerist economy supplied to the consumers.. The persuasive force of this increasing power to buy and do—power to do and ever more of it being an innate craving of the human heart--was actualised for the consumers in two interlocked ways.. Repeatedly it enabled them to acquire more, bigger or costlier things, and these included the powers of new tools that enabled them to do more things than they previously could.. Among the many derived powers thus conferred were the ability to pause a television programme while answering the phone, to use mobile phones for many things besides phoning, to fly through the air to a holiday resort and - with the help of advancing medicine - to live lives increasingly longer than those of their ancestors.. While such benefits, in the eyes of most people, gave material sense to the life on offer, a central message of the Correctorate's teaching furnished it, for some, with moral sense.. This message, constantly repeated, told them that those who thought and lived in accordance with the Correctorate's rules lived a freer, more just and kinder life than the western generations that had preceded them and than all the other peoples that had inhabited, or that now inhabited, the planet.. The net result was that most consumers, most of the time, believed in the surface of their minds that this current life of westerners was a pretty good life, better certainly than the life that had preceded it.. ‘Stress’, everyone recognised, stress of body and soul, regularly accompanied the living of it.. But stress with recurrent depression, most westerners resignedly accepted, was an inevitable condition of living a life which despite occasional distresses was a pretty good life.. When the ersatz sense ends.. As the new millennium arrived, that was the situation.. For as long as the power to buy and do of governments, corporations and consumers kept increasing, and the teaching that this new western life was morally the best life ever, continued to have force for some, the West's post-European system would continue to function.. Dating its launch from that first, momentous rule change of 1945, it still had some years to go before it would match the life span of its more conservatively post-European Soviet counterpart.. That the American system could last as long as that seemed possible.. That it could endure much longer was excluded by the extreme fragility of its life-support mechanism.. Inevitably, within a matter of years, there would be an end to the continuous increase of the power to buy and do, and with that the main source of the system's ersatz sense and social glue would vanish.. Ipso facto,.. its vaunted moral superiority would become an irrelevant twaddle.. Nothing would then remain to prevent the direct and continuous impact of its senselessness on the consciousness of westerners, nor to make the system's senseless and unloved life framework seem a good life.. Bereft of its life-support mechanism, the anti-human chaos of its utopian values and rules would translate into a violent social disintegration for which the only effective remedy would be the eventual slow emergence of a new, sense-providing civilisation relegating Europe’s to history..

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    Descriptive info: The form was not submitted for the following reasons:.. You are coming from an.. unauthorized domain.. Please use your browser's back button to return to the form and try again.. This form is powered by.. Jack's Formmail.. php 5.. 0..

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