Not many people realise that Nationalism is a relatively new phenomenon. Most think that it has a long history dating back centuries if not millennia. It’s common to hear modern people draw a connection between themselves and ancient people and nationalists often consider themselves following the footsteps of historic heroes. How many times have the Irish been called a proud and ancient race, with traditions dating back thousands of years? Historic battles and leaders are painted in national lines, even though people at the time wouldn’t have recognised the terms or given them much notice. Most believe that nations have always existed, after all didn’t the Irish always know they were Irish? What else could they consider themselves?
Yet not many realise that nationalism is a 19th century invention and that before that, there was no shared national identity linking people together. Before the Industrial Revolution, people only had loyalty to their family, their village and their lord, there was little concept of a nation. There wasn’t a common national culture, history or even language. But if people weren’t French, Irish, German etc, then what were they? Continue reading “The Invention of Nationalism”
In two weeks time, on the 23rd of April, the people of France will vote for their new President. This major event has gained added significance in the aftermath of Brexit and the election of Trump, and could prove decisive for the existence of the European Union. The election raises fears of a surge in nationalism, anti-immigration and anti-Islam support, and will be a test of how strong these feelings are. The result will have a major impact on the rest of Europe (and possibly the world) with regard to immigration, refugees, the Euro, European co-operation, trade, economics and a dozen other areas. So even if you’re not French, the result will probably affect you. Continue reading “The Simple Guide For Foreigners To The French Election”
The first time I ever heard of Cultural Appropriation, I thought it was a ridiculous notion. How can it be wrong to copy another culture? What’s wrong with taking inspiration and emulating other nations? The idea that some cultures belonged to only one people seemed incredibly regressive, narrow-minded and almost racist. If some music and fashion belongs only to black people and white people can’t use it, then does that mean that there are some fashions and music that only belong to white people? Continue reading “Cultural Appropriation, Plastic Paddies and Irish-Americans – Who does culture belong to?”
Across the West there has been a growth in support for the far-right and a surge in the number of votes they’ve received. New Fascist political parties have been increasing in size and influence and even the mainstream conservative parties have been pulled further right. Anti-immigrant sentiment can be seen in the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the threat of Marine Le Pen.
So far Ireland has stayed completely clear of this rising tide. There is no New Fascist presence here and little anti-immigrant activity. There have been attempts to create a far-right party (Identity Ireland and the National Party) but neither of them got off the ground. A google search shows that their party launch was their only activity. Out of all the candidates in the 2016 general election, only a single one could be called far-right and he only received 183 votes.
So is Ireland safe? Does the far-right simply have no appeal here? Is there something about Irish society or politics that prevents the extremists from being popular? Or are we just as susceptible as the rest of the West and might one day too have to face far-right extremism? Can it happen here? Continue reading “Could The Far-Right Be Successful In Ireland?”
I’ve noticed that most discussions about the refugee crisis discuss the issue in a very abstract way. The proposals are spoken of in a technical and hypothetical manner relating to various treaties, agreements and EU regulations, as well as figures about what may or may not happen. The discussion revolves around quotas and flows, as if refugees were something that come out of the tap. Even worse still, many opponents to refugee resettlement take a simplistic view of “Us versus Them”. “We” have a common culture and heritage that is apparently under attack. “They” are a strange foreign thing, incompatible with us. Continue reading “Restoring Some Humanity To The Refugee Debate”
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of those articles complaining about people who don’t use the standard or official form of English (I don’t do that myself). My aim isn’t to mock and insult everyone who speaks differently than me. Nor I am someone who thinks English should conquer the world and crush all other languages underfoot (I even speak Esperanto!). I support language diversity and think it’s good when people maintain local words and accents, as a world where we all spoke the same bland accent would be very boring.
However, sometimes the support for local languages goes too far. For centuries local dialects and languages were suppressed and discouraged in favour of English and other major languages. As if to compensate, the pendulum has swung the other way and all forms of local speech are studied, celebrated and supported. However, I feel the pendulum has swung too far and now some local differences are being exaggerated and put on a pedestal where they don’t belong. Continue reading “Scots and Ulster-Scots Are Not Languages”
Across Europe and America there is a surge in support for far-right politicians which has led some to fear a resurgence in Fascism. Donald Trump in particular has been labelled a Fascist and accused of normalising Fascism in America. A book review of the rise of Hitler lead many to draw parallels with the rise of Trump (whether it was written that way or not). The night he was elected president, my article “How Fascism Takes Over” received a surge in views, receiving a months’ worth of views in two days. Some wonder if we will see a rise of Fascism across Europe.
Yet others see this as merely hysteria. Many believe that Fascism died in the Second World War, that the age of uniformed thugs attacking Jews no longer exists. That Fascism is a mere insult that has lost all meaning. That to worry about Fascism is to cry wolf and nothing more than an attempt to smear your opponents. So does Fascism still exist? Continue reading “Does Fascism Exist Anymore?”