(Hope everyone has had a good Christmas and New Year, I'm currently mired in January Examinations for my part, sorry for the lack of activity)
I speak a great deal on this blog about the need for a solid and assertive national identity, however at times I find myself restraining from going overboard, from being too nationalistic and descending into the dangerous pit of nationalistic chuvanism. This is not to say I view all cultures as equal and that I should watch my words lest I offend my fellows. Certainly not, I describe myself as a Nationalist Monarchist for good reason, after all. What I mean is that we should neither seek to overly accomodate the cultures of minorities in our nation to the point of self-defeating sycophancy, for we have seen the failures of multi-culturalism in the practices of our neighbours' governments and the long, shameful displays of newstime entertainment they have provided on the airways trying to contain their race riots. However, I do not want to foster a form of nationalism on par with that of the rabid nationalism of certain groups in Europe and elsewhere that thrive on hatred and persecution of minorities, and, more to the point, driving out such groups from the nation. Because fundamentally, such hatred is un-Irish. Let me elucidate.
I am a Culturalist. Meaning I see the collective cultures, civilizations and histories of the human species as a grand, interwoven tapestry of colour that we can never fully see from a God's eye view. No culture is truly equal to another, just as some coloured thread is used more often then others in the tapestry's patterns. It is this inequity that tells the story of human existence and truly expresses the beauty and tragedy of the human experience. But while certain all cultures are not equal, cultures, like human life, have value. I enjoy spending my free time looking into a country from a certain time period and finding out their cultural mores and ways of doing things. Naturally of course there is values dissonance, as beautiful and elegent as Chinese culture could be towards the end of the Qing dynasty, I found the practice of binding womens' feet to be unconscionable and barbaric. But I have learned that while a true understanding of another's culture can breed respect for it, it can, when truly studied, breed a further respect for your own and a desire to make your own culture great. Let me give you the example of Tsar Peter the Great, in his travels of Europe he returned to Russia to seek to modernize it, while of course this meant the visible destruction of some ancient Rus traditions, he sought to use his understanding not to Change Russia into something it was not meant to be, but to change Russia into something it could be, the great Empire it was when he left it. Shining, terrifying, powerful and yet distinctly Russian, despite the innovations and influence of Europe. It is for this reason I would call Tsar Peter a culturalist.
I think its safe for you to assume where I am going with this, even if my words are not the best at articulating this concept. Compare this understanding of the inter-relationships of culture in the past to the modern socio-philosophical heresy of Multi-culturalism, where all cultures are equal and should be expected to co-exist side by side, whether they like it or not, and whether one culture is in the majority or not. This barbaric understanding of culture devalues all cultures, they are treated as commodities, a curio in the numbers book as the political class ticks off its checklist as to which bloc they can manipulate into class warfare so they can win the next election. Is it any wonder why this understanding has led to an insane paradox, where in places like Britain and France where minorities, whose youths feel entitled by their protected class status as minorities, abuse their fellow countrymen, usually natives or smaller minorities, while simultaneously losing sense of their old national identity and replacing it with one that porports a vapid "us vrs them" mentality. One in which they no longer care what their differences are and couldn't articulate it if they did they just know they hate eachother? This is the twisted genius of multi-culturalism and it is why it will always lead to national suicide, by forcing cultures to be treated equally socially, (nevermind legally), it has inadvertedly made the cultural differences mean less while at the same time emphasising the differences to further propagate the multi-cultural ideals, leaving a population divided by racial and ethnic hatred with nobody truly understanding why they hate the man down the street. This is not counting religious clashes of course, but here in the west religion isn't controlled or forcibly restricted by the state (yet).
Getting two groups of people in a city with differing cultures to co-operate at the least has, throughout the history of humanity, always been difficult, and multi-culturalism has utterly failed in this respect, and has justified things like nationalism in their assertion of national identities. Multi-culturalist point to examples such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the past as examples of functional mullti-cultural societies, or even the Ottoman Empire, pointing to things such as tolerance of other cultures within the city of Constantinople, or the Roman Empires of the Past. This is a failed interpretation of history, all of these examples have been examples of culturalist societies, not multi-cultural ones. In all of these examples, there is a clear dominant culture represented in the state and often a clear dominant national religion, and often all of the minorities take on characteristics of the dominant culture along with the remnants of their own minority identities. Nowhere in the past is there seen the destruction of national culture in the favour of a constructed non-culture that has resulted in the social confusion and chaos seen in the social democracies of Modern Europe.
Monarchists, especially European ones, will most likely identify with the culturalist model, especially after studying history of monarchies in Europe (which has never been perfect and there have been examples of social persecution of minority cultures), but it has always been hard to articulate this understanding without sounding like a proponent of secular multi-culturalism, or perhaps that may just be me.
So how does this relate to Ireland?
Throughout Ireland's own history we have been an example of a culturalist society, and a remarkably strong one at that, to the point where even those who conquered us were assimilated into our native culture, as was the case with the Normans who were so thoroughly assimilated into Irish culture that Surnames such as Fitzgerald are now indistinguishable in terms of Irishness to surnames such as O'Brien. They only thing that has ever proven effective at halting our ability of assimilating minority cultures peacefully has been religious differences. In modern Day Ireland, in true Irish Fashion, we have arrived late to the local meta-cultural storm that is Multi-culturalism, (This is actually something of a historical Anomaly, Ireland has always seemed to 'arrive late' to the dinner table of whatever fashion happens to be on offer, we 'arrived late' to the 60s to the point where the full force of the cultural upheaval was not as pronounced in Ireland as it was elsewhere), and despite trying its damnedest, the Irish state could not engender anything more then mild apathy to Irish national Identity when trying to promote multi-culturalism. Indeed I remember during my college days my geography teacher, while we were discussing a poster on the wall depicting Ireland as an amalgamation of hundreds of differing foreign flags representing the 'spoken languages in Ireland' (and before you ask, no, the Irish tricolour was not present), my teacher was trying to impress upon me Ireland was a multicultural society, at which point I recall myself posing the question; "How can we be a multicultural society if nearly all of those languages are being spoken by less then 8% of the Island?" Certainly I was not impressed at the time by the notion that Ireland was 'multicultural' and I didn't meet anyone who really was, except for later when the Lisbon treaty made the European Union an issue among students. However this remains a concern, Ireland still hasn't technically put a stop to its multicultural policies even after public announcements by the leaders of our neighbours about how such policies have failed their nations. And, in my rage against secularism and multi-culturalism I try to engender a deep abiding love of Irishness and a sense of national Identity I often have to stop myself.
Am I reacting in a fashion of a culturalist? Am I promoting Irishness and the need for public recognition of Irishness (Gaelige being spoken in the Dail, Gealige promotion in schools and Irish Media, an appreciation for ancestry and history and masculine patriotism, etc, etc) for the good it will bring? Or am I simply reacting in blind anger and engendering in my readers a fear or loathing of minorities in Ireland and potentially putting the blame of the destruction of Irish culture partially on them? I live in Northern Ireland, and people here know the dangers of tribal mentalities of two cultures that have existed for centuries in the same area, let alone foreigners.
Certainly I am in favour of a robust and assertive native culture and I'll break the jaw of the first man who claims I do not. But I do not want to create an oppressive Ireland where our minorities will live in fear of an assertive majority, instead I want to create an Ireland whose distinct Irishness is attractive enough to allow assimilation. That when people emigrate to Ireland, they do not tribalise but seek to integrate into Irish society and Irish culture, whatever their origins, not simply out of sheer economic attractiveness which many people seem to think is the only thing that matters these days. Even on top of all the other needs of Irish society these days, like being able to have University students honestly put forward 10 things they associate with Irishness, (our politics tutor gave us that challenge to prove a point in a seminar one day, sadly he proved his point well), and I feel we will need to articulate this difference better if we are to defeat the prevailing cultural attitudes.
Slan go Phoile