Friday, March 9, 2012

Ireland and England

(Published in Gerarchia, February 1942)

By Lidio Cipriani

According to the English, peace and happiness always reigns over the British Empire; according to them, only under the shadow of the Union Jack can the greatest governments of the world flourish for all eternity. In saying this, they do not realize how it is continually refuted, beginning with the territory that is geographically closest to them: Ireland. Subjugated in 1169, anti-British sentiment grew stronger with each passing century because the Irish, in addition to losing their freedom, found themselves treated as an inferior race, unable to valorize their own land. The persecution intensified in the nineteenth century, and of the 8.5 million people living in Ireland in 1845, about 4 million of them sought salvation in emigration during the next fifty years. Almost all of them sought shelter in the United States. Among those who remained in Ireland, condemned to miserable conditions, marriages decreased and mortality reached frightening figures. An interesting phenomenon was that their births showed an unusually high percentage of males. It should not be surprising, therefore, if the so-called "Free State" of Ireland doesn't count more than 3 million inhabitants while the Irish in the United States alone reach 6.5 million. A nice balance after eight centuries of English domination!

In the irreconcilable dispute between Irish and British one can not discount racial motivations. Besides all the deeper differences, anyone can note that the English are generally tall in stature, blond or blondish, with clear eyes, long faces and heads, non-vivacious and inclined to insincerity; the opposite of the Irish, who, for the most part, have physical features and characteristics similar to the Mediterranean peoples, with a medium stature, dolichocephaly, dark hair and eyes, with a loyal and lively spirit. Arrogance is also an inseparable characteristic of the Englishman, while the Irishman loves to treat his peers equally and with generosity. It should also be noted that the Irish are intransigent Catholics, while the English are Protestants and ready to make every shady accommodation of conscience. According to many Irishmen, their darker complexion and more passionate nature are due to a climate turned more mild by the warm Atlantic current, while the cold climate of England “iced the heart and brain of the Englishmen.”

The diversity of the population of the British Isles from remote antiquity contributes in explaining the contrast. It is known that in 55 BC the Romans found a completely barbarian people, so barbaric that, according to authoritative statements and archaeological confirmations, they practiced cannibalism, covered their bodies with fur and painted their faces. Caesar said they nourished themselves with milk and meat, did not plant grains, and lived in crude huts made of mud and grass.

On the other hand, the most ancient information on Ireland indicates men of a flourishing Iberic civilization already during the Neolithic era in Western Europe. These are the people of the dolmen and the cromlech that are so common in the west of the island and especially in the counties of Kerry and Sligo. In the 4th century BC, the Celts arrived in Ireland, a bronze civilization, navigators and builders of great wooden houses. Tradition, however, claims that this arrival dates back the 2nd millennium BC, and more specifically in 1300 BC with the Milesian tribes. There are counted 118 Celtic kings which succeeded one another until 432 AD, an important year for the island because that signals the era of St. Patrick and the conversion of the inhabitants to Catholicism, signaling their entry into the history of Europe.

Catholicism is also responsible for the impulse and tenacity with which they resisted British arrogance throughout the ages. One can already observe it especially in the 16th century, when Great Britain decided to separate from Rome and adhere to Protestantism. Ireland, despite everything, remained rock-solid in their attachment to the Roman faith. This faith became the symbol of resistance against the orders of the English government, which consisted, among other things, in their exclusive imposition of colonists who were faithful to their new religion on lands taken from the Irish. The native Irish used Catholicism to distinguish themselves from these colonists, the only ones to whom political and social power was recognized and who, due to this privilege, believed themselves entitled to treat with Irish with supreme arrogance. This atrocious attitude has never diminished since the enslavement of Ireland began in 1169. The overlords were in turn repaid with cordial contempt and with all kinds of difficulties. No merger occurred between the two peoples, and even to this day, after eight centuries of servitude and despite the boasted pretense of making Ireland an English island, there are still cities with Irish quarters alongside British ones without relations between them.

In reality it was the English who initiated this separation, but the retaliation they received was beyond what was expected, because it was against oppressors as well as against people of a different race and religion. Among the British laws with this objective was the one of 1361 which banned unions between English and Irish, designed to maintain the prestige of the English elite. Other memorable laws include the one of 1497 which extended to Ireland the validity of all laws passed in England and imposed the requirement of the approval of the ‘Private King’s Council’ for any special law asked by the islanders. It should also be noted that similar laws were adopted by the English throughout their entire empire, regardless of the differences of peoples and cultures: a system that clearly indicates the inability of the British to distinguish various situations and realities. For this precise reason the American War for Independence erupted and the sympathies of India, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland all became alienated from the “mother country”, leading to those heinous crimes woven into British history. Not for nothing did an Englishman write that all one needs is to look at the history of Albion in order to be ashamed of being British. This can be demonstrated just by looking at Ireland alone. After a succession of tyranny, the only generosity was the decree of December 6, 1921 which made southern Ireland a “Free State” under the condition that it remain a British dominion!

Ireland did not cease to suffer because of this decree. Although it did not have excessive resources, England pushed to prohibit any important industry or permitted only what could be used for its own advantage, allowing the Irish only to be shepherds and to have an agriculture mostly limited to potatoes and oats. The few businesses which existed in Ireland had to cling to England in the East due to dependence on English coal. The wool industry and the development of electro-metallurgy, which could have affirmed itself in the West, were stopped in order to prevent competition with England. All of the wool from Irish sheep, which is among the best quality, was annually confiscated, substituted with the sale of a low-quality short-fiber wool. Of importance, but in the North and not in the Irish Free State, were the linen and whiskey industries; in the rest of the island, fishing and the production of beer. Nevertheless, England absorbed even these products and sold them on its own accord, prohibiting Ireland to have its own direct clientèle. At the same time, it obstructed the development of Irish ports, railways and roads.

No less terrible was the perpetual policy of land confiscation, which forced the islanders to move to regions that were most unfavorable. Even today the legitimate descendants of most of these downtrodden people—generally impoverished—continue to claim rights to lands which have now been in English hands for centuries. With every revolt, new lands were confiscated until gradually, under Queen Elizabeth, James I, Oliver Cromwell and William of Orange, the old social structure of Ireland, founded on property, was annihilated. This systematic seizure of property, it should be noted, was promulgated by England via a pseudo-Irish parliament seated in Dublin. In 1650 England was able to affirm that only “three beasts” were left to destroy: the wolf in the mountains, the Catholic priest who preaches revolt, and the Tory, driven from his lands and waiting to vindicate himself.

In an oppressed country like Ireland, the rise of secret associations was only natural. Among them were the Fenians in the 19th century, and Sinn Fein, which still exists today. The malaise also brought about the already-mentioned enormous migration. From the American group there is De Valera, President of the Free State, the man to whom the Irish entrust the salvation of their Fatherland. Although in practice he is a dictator, he claims to be democratic and therefore against totalitarian regimes. He loves to repeat that his only ambition is to do the will of the people, and says he is ready to retire into the shadows as soon as he loses a majority vote. An initiative nursed by him was the revival of the ancient Irish language, Gaelic, once again the national language. Also of note are some acts of the De Valera government which, despite the political opposition, seem to denote a desire of close loyalty to England. Numerous times after 1936 he has repeated that the territory of the Free State will not become the base of a foreign power to attack England, thereby not closing the path to a possible move by the United States. He does not show any sympathies for the Axis Powers and does not seem to understand that the English will stubbornly continue with their old habits unless a cataclysm throws them completely to the ground. He will probably change his attitude after our victory gives a deserved equilibrium to Ireland