Some years back I blogged on the essence of what this thread may have been intended to address: why did the likes of SeŠn O'FaolŠin fall out of love with de Valera? That was prompted by the serendipitous discovery of a copy of The Bell .
Permit me to repeat myself (with improvements).
SeŠn O'FaolŠin and Peadar O'Donnell founded the The Bell in 1940. O'FaolŠin was the editor until 1946, and O'Donnell continued it until 1954. Anyone with the complete series has a compendium of Irish writing by authors of stature (and some neophytes): Paddy Kavanagh, Mary Lavin, Flann O'Brien, Frank O'Connor, Brendan Behan, Denis Johnson, and many more.
The magazine achieved an importance that was crucial. Imagine an early Granta transported to the Liffey's quays, struggling with ferocious censorship, championing social and ideological change against clerical and institutional conservatism, perpetually underfinanced, and under paper rationing.
The moment of its foundation was itself significant, following de Valera's new Constitution and contemporary of the intellectual and political "know-nothing" isolation that went with the Neutrality policy.
O'FaolŠin was born in 1900, the son of an RIC man in Cork. He was seized by the enthusiasm of the Irish League, and became an IRA man in the War of Independence. He achieved a world view through study at Harvard and a time in London. When he returned to Ireland it was with the conscious intent to wake:
His hopes for the accession to power of de Valera in 1932 were soon disillusioned. In 1938 O'FaolŠin published King of the Beggars, and with it challenged the romantic nationalist dream of the rustic nation of Gaels and Catholics.... this sleeping country, these sleeping fields, those sleeping villages.
O'FaolŠin's most immediate target was his former teacher, Daniel Corkery, the Professor of English at UCC, who sought to channel Irish education and writing into a sterile and conservative nationalism:
For Corkery the "normal" was not the world of Yeats, Synge and O'Casey, but a narrow and inbred culture:In a country that for long has been afflicted with an ascendancy, an alien ascendancy at that, national movements are a necessity: they are an effort to attain the normal.
From 1931, still in print and frequently cited, usually as an awful warning (present company not excepted).If one approaches 'Celtic Revival' poetry as an exotic, then one is in a mood to appreciate its subtle rhythms and its quiet tones; but if one continues to live within the Irish seas, travelling the roads of land, then the white-walled houses, the farming life, the hill-top chapel, the memorial cross above some peasant's grave -- memorable only because he died for his country -- impressing themselves as the living pieties of life must impress themselves, upon the imagination, growing into it, dominating it, all this poetry becomes after a time little else than an impertinence.
O'FaolŠin saw Gaelic Ireland dead at Vinegar Hill, and irrelevant to the emancipation achieved over the century since Daniel O'Connell:
O'FaolŠin was far ahead of his time. He had a happy prescience (as in this extract from October 1936) which is only being now achieved:... the Irish fisherman and the Irish farmer and the Irish townsman is the result of about one hundred and fifty years of struggle. And that, for history, is long enough for us. To us, Ireland is beginning, where to Corkery it is continuing. We have a sense of time, of background: we know the value of the Gaelic tongue to extend our vision of Irish life, to deepen and enrich it: we know that an old cromlech in a field can dilate our imaginations with a sense of what was, what might have been, and what is not; but we cannot see the man ploughing against the sky in an aura of antiquity.
__________________________________________________ _______________English-speaking, in European dress, affected by European thought, part of the European economy, of the rags and tatters who rose with O'Connell to win under Mick Collins -- in a word this modern Anglo-Ireland.
I now await in full expectation that there will be the usual bigoted howls of incomprehension of what O'FaolŠin meant by that last phrase. It will neatly mark out those with a disconnect between brain and mouth.
what exactly was the alternative some hodge podge socialists? I cant see any scenario where a modern , or intellectually robust consititution would have been enacted followed by enlightened institutions of state. One way or another an petty insular and conservative State was on the cards.
I have never really bought into the idea that the Irish Revolution was some radical project hijacked by conservatives. Ireland for the most part was made up of conservative Catholic rural dwellers and SF wasn't a radical party instead it was wide coalition built around the Irish Question rather than any real social vision. I don't think it could have gone as far as some of the posters on this thread wished it had done.
Like McCann you get your facts and analysis from, the Komrades on the ' mainland ' I suppose Which is it, the Communist Party of Britain, Millitant or whichever bunch of Trots/crackpots ???
Unfortunately this is the starting point of a lot of the critique that is offerred for why stuff does not work in the institutional state.
I mean China has an urbanized peasantry, and it achieved 8% growth rates for over two decades.
To be honest O'Faolain's "urbanized peasantry" jibe is rooted in a lot of the failed intellectual constructs that cause the problem. The Jesuit educated lazybots who decry the peasantry or even an urbanized peasantry for being a disappointment whilst they themselves sit on their arses.
The strange thing is that the critique itself is loaded up with the sort of contempt that is undermining any form of societal harmony, and is straight out of gombeenism.
We need to go above this also. We need to go above the various absurd roadmaps provided which only ensure a continued espression of state unaccountability, power, and institutionalized privelege.