HISTORICAL EVENT

I was sent this by a friend Bob Cotton. I was unaware of this response but am impressed by the restrained yet firm message which highlighted the Irish determination to defend their Independence and make their choices based on the needs of Ireland rather than England.

Eamon de Valera: Response to Churchill’s criticism about neutrality – 1945

16 May 1945, broadcast, Ireland

Three days earlier, in his Victory in Europe speech, Winston Churchill had been critical of de Valera and Irish neutrality in WW2.

“I have here before me the pencilled notes from which I broadcast to you on 3 September 1939. I had so many other things to do on that day that I could not find time to piece them together into a connected statement. From these notes I see that I said that noting the march of events your Government had decided its policy the previous spring, and had announced its decision to the world.

The aim of our policy, I said, would to keep our people out of the war. I reminded you of what I had said in the Dail that in our circumstances, with our history and our experience after the last war and with a part of our country still unjustly severed from us; no other policy was possible.

Certain newspapers have been very persistent in looking for my answer to Mr. Churchill’s recent broadcast . I know the kind of answer I am expected to make. I know the answer that first springs to the lips of every man of Irish blood who heard or read that speech, no matter in what circumstances or in what part of the world he found himself.

I know the reply I would have given a quarter of a century ago. But I have deliberately decided that that is not the reply I shall make tonight. I shall strive not to be guilty of adding any fuel to the flames of hatred and passion which, if continued to be fed, promise to burn up whatever is left by the war of decent human feeling in Europe.

Allowances can be made for Mr. Churchill’s statement, however unworthy, in the first flush of his victory. No such excuse could be found for me in this quieter atmosphere. There are, however some things which it is my duty to say, some things which it is essential to say. I shall try to say them as dispassionately as I can.

Mr. Churchill makes it clear that, in certain circumstances, he would have violated our neutrality and that he would justify his action by Britain’s necessity. It seems strange to me that Mr. Churchill does not see that this, if accepted, would mean Britain’s necessity would become a moral code and that when this necessity became sufficiently great, other people’s rights were not to count.

It is quite true that other great Powers believe in this same code-in their own regard-and have behaved in accordance with it. That is precisely why we have the disastrous succession of wars-World War No. 1 and World War No. 2-and shall it be World War No. 3?

Surely Mr. Churchill must see that if his contention be admitted in our regard, a like justification can be framed for similar acts of aggression elsewhere and no small nation adjoining a great Power could ever hope to be permitted to go it own way in peace.

It is indeed fortunate that Britain’s necessity did not reach the point when Mr. Churchill would have acted. All credit to him that he successfully resisted the temptation which, I have not doubt, may times assailed him in his difficulties and to which I freely admit many leaders might have easily succumbed. It is indeed; hard for the strong to be just to the weak, but acting justly always has its rewards.

By resisting his temptation in this instance, Mr. Churchill, instead of adding another horrid chapter to the already bloodstained record of the relations between England and this country, has advanced the cause of international morality an important step-one of the most important, indeed, that can be taken on the road to the establishment of any sure basis for peace.

As far as the peoples of these two islands are concerned, it may, perhaps, mark a fresh beginning towards the realisation of that mutual comprehension to which Mr. Churchill has referred for which, I hope, he will not merely pray but work also, as did his predecessor who will yet, I believe, find the honoured place in British history which is due to him, as certainly he will find it in any fair record of the relations between Britain and ourselves.

That Mr. Churchill should be irritated when our neutrality stood in the way of what he thought he vitally needed, I understand, but that he or any thinking person in Britain or elsewhere should fail to see the reason for our neutrality, I find it hard to conceive.

I would like to put a hypothetical question-it is a question I have put to many Englishmen since the last war. Suppose Germany had won the war, had invaded and occupied England, and that after a long lapse of time and many bitter struggles, she was finally brought to acquiesce in admitting England’s right to freedom, and let England go, but not the whole of England, all but, let us say, the six southern counties.

These six southern counties, those, let us suppose, commanding the entrance to the narrow seas, Germany had singled out and insisted on holding herself with a view to weakening England as a whole, and maintaining the securing of her own communications through the Straits of Dover.

Let us suppose further, that after all this had happened, Germany was engaged in a great war in which she could show that she was on the side of freedom of a number of small nations, would Mr. Churchill as an Englishman who believed that his own nation had as good a right to freedom as any other, not freedom for a part merely, but freedom for the whole–would he, whilst Germany still maintained the partition of his country and occupied six counties of it, would he lead this partitioned England to join with Germany in a crusade? I do not think Mr. Churchill would.

Would he think the people of partitioned England an object of shame if they stood neutral in such circumstances? I do not think Mr. Churchill would.

Mr. Churchill is proud of Britain’s stand alone, after France had fallen and before America entered the War.

Could he not find in his heart the generosity to acknowledge that there is a small nation that stood alone not for one year or two, but for several hundred years against aggression; that endured spoliations, famines, massacres in endless succession; that was clubbed many times into insensibility, but that each time on returning consciousness took up the fight anew; a small nation that could never be got to accept defeat and has never surrendered her soul?

Mr. Churchill is justly proud of his nation’s perseverance against heavy odds. But we in this island are still prouder of our people’s perseverance for freedom through all the centuries. We, of our time, have played our part in the perseverance, and we have pledged our selves to the dead generations who have preserved intact for us this glorious heritage, that we, too, will strive to be faithful to the end, and pass on this tradition unblemished.

Many a time in the past there appeared little hope except that hope to which Mr. Churchill referred, that by standing fast a time would come when, to quote his own words: “the tyrant would make some ghastly mistake which would alter the whole balance of the struggle.”

I sincerely trust, however, that it is not thus our ultimate unity and freedom will be achieved, though as a younger man I confess I prayed even for that, and indeed at times saw not other.

In latter years, I have had a vision of a nobler and better ending, better for both our people and for the future of mankind. For that I have now been long working. I regret that it is not to this nobler purpose that Mr. Churchill is lending his hand rather than, by the abuse of a people who have done him no wrong, trying to find in a crisis like the present excuse for continuing the injustice of the mutilation of our country.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Churchill has not deliberately chosen the latter course but, if he has, however regretfully we may say it, we can only say, be it so.

Meanwhile, even as a partitioned small nation, we shall go on and strive to play our part in the world continuing unswervingly to work for the cause of true freedom and for peace and understanding between all nations.”

MY COMMENT

The Irish leader highlights the need for England to recognise its own history and behave responsibly. I think the march of time will result in the island of Ireland being reunited and I very much hope this will be achieved in a peaceful manner. An outbreak of genuine democracy from Westminster for the process, without any breaches in the Northern Ireland Agreement will go a long way to securing that outcome. Likewise I would encourage England to learn from the mistakes of the past and not repeat them with regard to Scotland whose rights to self determination are also clear and urgent. We of course currently lack the leadership and drive required to make progress. I hope readers can discern from this article the type of determination and principle needed when dealing with London.

I am, as always

YOURS FOR SCOTLAND.

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44 thoughts on “HISTORICAL EVENT

  1. I have no wish to be first, but I feel a different viewpoint. Other neutral nations were less fortunate. Denmark, Belgium and Holland for instance. Eire had the fortunate geographic location of being shielded by the UK from invasion from Europe.

    Sending his condolences to the embassy on the suicide of Hitler shows the man’s self-righteous pomposity.

    But that’s only an opinion. I feel the need sometimes to read a biography, one that is neutral or critical of de V. If anyone can suggest…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was not giving anyone a pass on their entire lives. The point I was hoping to make was the determination to put Ireland’s interests first and to have the courage to state that reason openly.

      Liked by 16 people

    2. Can you explain the difference between the English ( the bulk of the history was English occupation) invasion and abuse of the Irish by force and the expansion by force throughout Europe by Germany.?

      Ireland was not shielded by the UK. They were emerging from several hundred years of being under the brutal boot of London. Try to see through their eyes that little difference existed between London and Berlin. Thousands died under London Rule and their Nation was divided by the threat of force of arms. The had suffered no threat or abuse from Germany.

      England has been an aggressive war mongering Nation for a thousand years. For the majority of that period the English Channel protected Europe from England.

      England aggression was cultivated by a wealthy minority greedy to increase power and wealth across this planet.

      The Irish should never trust them again and neither should we because the superiority and greed are so engrained that it dominates their every decision. Brexit being one example and WMD another.

      I suggest you study the history of this group of Islands before you make a fool of yourself.

      If a Nation today did what England did to Wales, Ireland and Scotland the World would be outraged.

      It is unfortunate that so many think that events that happened several hundred years ago are somehow to be excluded from the debate.

      As England build it’s Empire to Rule a quarter of the Planet it did not do so driven be kindness and benevolent thought. It was Wealth and Power.

      I suggest you read the article again now.

      Liked by 14 people

      1. I can’t justify or take responsibility for “a wealthy minority greedy to increase power and wealth across this planet.” They had treated my own ancestors, first the Anglo Saxons, later the Midland peasants evicted by the Enclosure Acts, more recently the industrial workers of the Great Depression, all in much the same manner.

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    3. It probably isn’t possible for an Irish person to write objectively about Dev, just as it’s probably not possible for a non Irish person to write an account of the man that might meet the approval of all of the Irish. Good luck to you, anyway.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I didn’t think the article was about Dev!
        I thought it was about a Nation emerging from colonisation with their own voice.

        Liked by 8 people

    4. “Other neutral nations were less fortunate. Denmark, Belgium and Holland for instance.”

      The historic mass genocide and mass population displacement of Ireland’s people and the extreme brutal forms of colonialism and racism imposed on the Irish over centuries at the hands of England’s elite landgrabbers and its enforced laws was arguably far more extreme than anything the Germans inflicted in 5-6 years occupation of Denmark, Belgium or Holland, or even France or Norway. Moreover, a people are never ‘shielded’ by their oppressor. That is a bizarre misunderstanding of reality.

      The historic mass displacement of the Scots (losses of 3-4 million people since the union) and our colonial oppression and exploitation over a prolonged period, now three centuries of more, should be viewed in a similar vein. Let us imagine a Denmark today that was still occupied and ruled by Germany, with Denmark’s politics and economy controlled from Berlin not Copenhagen, with the Danish language banned and the German language imposed on all Danes, with all the top jobs in Denmark advertised primarily in Berlin’s press, and Denmark’s property market and business sector and essential utilities open to exploitation by its much larger neighbour, to whom Denmark’s economy and resources must focus its supply. There you have Scotland in all its wretchedness which is ultimately why Scots seek independence and hence liberation from oppression.

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  2. An important message for Scotland, on account of the many parallels in our reslationships with England. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Iain. If only our elected representatives had the same courage and principles as those in Ireland had 70 years ago.
    The phrase that stands out for me is ‘a small nation that has never been got to accept defeat and has never surrendered her soul’.
    There have been many times in the past when Scotland has stood up to her stronger neighbour and not accepted defeat but I fear in our present circumstances that we are in greater danger than ever befiore as our leaders seem to be in the process of crushing the soul of Scotland and allowing an alien culture to destroy it.
    We cannot allow this to happen.

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  3. Like many De Valera had his foibles. He was arrogant in his more youthful days – as he openly alludes to in this speech – and his role in fermenting agitation against the newly formed government of the Irish Free State (under Michael Collins) leading ultimately to the (very bloody) Irish Civil War is to be regretted.

    However, this speech is masterful. He points out, calmly but firmly, the hypocrisy of Churchill and the English/British of in attempting to take the moral high ground vis-a-vis Ireland for standing firm against the Nazi tyrants but refusing to recognise the hundreds of years of brutal subjugation and attempted cultural cleansing that Dev’s people suffered at the hands of the invaders from he other side of the Irish Sea.

    The Independence movement in Scotland needs to take a similar stance and call out Westminster’s colonial bullies for what they have been and still are.

    And then act to set our own people free.

    Liked by 14 people

  4. But that is the whole point you were unaware. You were probably unaware of the Emergency. You probably never heard of Dev’s Comely Maidens Speech or saw the old fraud in his Rolls Royce with the Chauffeur sitting out in the rain. The man who gave Ireland the Civil War having sat out the war of Independence in America. The problem is that too many Scots of good will are unaware of Irish History and make platitudes about Ireland being reunited.

    We can blame the UK establishment all we like for the mess in Ireland, but for the past 100 years politicians in the Free state/republic have been copper bottoming partition because if the North was a cold house for the Catholics. the prospect of a united Ireland was a freezing prospect for the Northerners, and I say that, having spent 4 years in Dublin in the 1960s at University, and my wife’s mothers family are from the South and I have an Irish passport.

    Remember that before there is any prospect of Irish Reunification it is necessary for Northern Ireland to be less divided. Ironically Brexit might just do that Northern Ireland voted Remain more enthusiastically than England voted Leave. Apart from the Unionist Politicians it appears from what my friends in Ulster are saying that the protocol is actually good for commercial and employment Ulster.

    Always remember that Northern Ireland suffered a murderous attack over the past 50 years. The vast majority of people killed were killed by the various Republican paramilitaries. While some of the Catholic community have done very nicely, the Protestants have lost out as the traditional industries where they had hegemony have all but disappeared and too many of them have poor academic records and are low skilled.

    Rather than looking back to the Ireland of Dev we have to look forward to what Ireland could become and how to do it.

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    1. There was very, very few Protestants in the North of Ireland. The English planted them there to cause division. This is the re-writing of history once again. The Plantation by London created the troubles. Selecting a decade for your argument while ignoring the full history is a distortion of fact.
      Those planted on Ireland took the best land and pushed the “Irish” up the hill to farm and when they managed to survive they divided their land into 4 plots. The incomes had a English Army in support.

      The attempt to make the debate personal by attacking an individual is deflection. Why not mention Churchill’s drug habit or his use of a Scottish island to test anthrax as a weapon.

      The bottom line is one nation was occupied and held under the boot for several hundred years. They came out of that as a dignified open European Nation. All current issues are a legacy of Colonial Rule.

      I also have an Irish Passport via my Protestant Grand Parents from the North. However I can still see that the culture of the North was the same poison of the well that London left in the Middle East and India – Division

      Liked by 13 people

      1. There were very few Protestants anywhere before 1519.
        The problem has actually lain with the Normans, and the Welsh knights invading Ireland. Remember that they also interfered in Scotland and attacked the
        It claim that the plantation of Ulster was an English affair demonstrates a lack of knowledge. The first plantation post the O’Neill war was Hamilton and Montgomery in the Ards.
        We can debate Irish history till the cows come home. the important thing is how Ireland will develop in the 21st century. the Unionist community is in ulster and tehy are stuck there unless you want to drive them out.
        Actually a lot of us have left over the past 50 years.

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    2. By the way sitting out the American War of Independence and being in Ireland at the start of the 20th. Century would involve time travel!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I think he meant that not many Irish took part on either side of the American colonies, while English and Scots and Welsh did. Many Scots who had fought the English in 1745, took their side against the Americans and paid the price by having to move to Canada. It’s a richt auld kirn, history.

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      2. He sat out the Irish War of Independence in America (because he was an American citizen born in New York so he could be the Irish Representative in the US and not deported).
        While he was in the US, Michael Colins was supporting Dev’s wife and children from the funds of the movement and visiting them in Greystones. I always wonder what personal tensions between Colins and Dev can be traced back to this period.

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  5. What a shame we no longer have leaders but simply populist media celebrities who have shitloads of soundbites and no principles. How I wish I could find some Irish ancestry,

    Liked by 11 people

  6. Unfortunate that the point of the article is being lost due to those determined to make the topic about a person to distract the debate.
    The UK did not enter the Vietnam War. Does that suggest they let America down and that Australia didn’t. Can a Nation who didn’t fight communism be seen as having double standards when they have been critical of Ireland regarding the War on Fascism?
    Korea good, Vietnam bad? OR mind your own business?
    The article was from a Nation coming out of the shadows of an Imperial warmonger and politely affirming Nationhood.
    Do not let others push the topic into the gutter by the same old Unionist tactics.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. Churchill did, apparently, offer De Valera the six counties (NI) in exchange for Ireland’s coming into the war on the side of Britain, in 1939. He did not, however, offer it free of Unionist control or with any guarantee that it would not be subject to future problems with Britain. De Valera was not stupid: he would never have accepted such a bargain. Before the setting up of NI (1921), Michael Collins did bring his army north and almost certainly would have taken back control of NI, and Irish history might have been very different today. However, De Valera and his supporters called him back: perhaps he envisaged a long and protracted war with Britain, although that seemed unlikely, given the losses sustained during WW I, and I’d reckon it had more to do with a power struggle between the two men, most of the problems coming from De Valera. It is more likely that Collins and his army would have overwhelmed the NI forces under Craig and become a hero in Ireland. When you look at the subsequent history of NI – the persecution of the Catholics north of the border and the Troubles, all of which added up to a death toll in excess of 3000, you have to wonder whether Collins was not the better judge, and a swift, clean contained battle to take back the six counties would not have been the more sensible path in the longer term, with considerably fewer deaths and subsequent misery for both parts of Ireland.

    NI is not important to the UK – and never really was – in the way that Scotland is, and I doubt that we will be allowed to go without a destructive spoiler placed in our midst. The real difference between NI and here is that the Scots (no, we are not clean tatties here) and English settlers in NI tended to be concentrated in one part of Ireland (albeit earlier settlers in Ireland proper had been instrumental in leading the fight for independence throughout Irish history, starting with the Normans) while those who have come north to Scotland from rUK are scattered within every community from the Shetland Isles to the Borders. That this has been deliberate policy – at least, from the point of view of doing little to highlight the long-term implications for our independence, culture, languages, etc., – can be laid squarely at the door of the SNP, under whose watch, the greatest migrations north have come. Nothing that happens does not have consequences. Peoples have struggled throughout the ages to establish their independence from brutish oppressors and colonizers, and many have been forced to live out their existence in conditions of misery as a result (the Australian Aboriginals, the Native Americans, the Amazonian tribes, to name just a few) and others have not survived at all (the Tasmanian Aboriginals, wiped out by British colonialism). This kind of brutal suppression and genocide has been practised by many races and empires.

    Some peoples, such as the New Zealand Maori, although by no means living lives free from prejudice and poverty as a result of being colonized, have, to some extent, managed to exist side-by-side with their colonizers. It must be hoped that Scots can do the same because we really have little choice now. In time, we will probably create a new Scotland, containing all races and ethic origins, but it remains to be seen whether Scottish culture and languages, law and everything else that makes this country Scotland survives.

    England is very different from the other ‘Celtic’ nations with whom they share these islands: albeit, they were once tribal, warrior societies, with much in common with the now-English British areas of the UK, the influx of the Angles and Saxons, then the Normans, forged a different kind of country – one that was predominantly aggressive and expansionist, and our mutual histories reflect that reality. England has tried to invade and has invaded all of the other three nations at some time in its past. In doing so, it caused uncounted deaths, destruction and long-term suffering, famine, poverty. It cannot reasonably expect all the other parts of the UK to trust it unquestioningly. Not even 300+ years of Union has made Scotland any more amenable to diktat from south of the border, and, even today, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are wary of any rumbles emanating from England’s direction. The 2014 referendum result simply proved to many Scots that too many English people are as colonialist-minded and heedless of their sensibilities and rights of their neighbours as ever they have been for nearly a thousand years. It is for those from rUK who now live in Scotland to show that they are Scots of English heritage and not simply English of English heritage and mindset. That 2014 referendum result did not offer much hope.

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    1. When I appear to say that the SNP are to blame for encouraging migration north, I mean that they have not spelled out the long-term consequences, as they should have done, given that they are the party of independence. Their absolutely inertia on independence has encouraged more and more migration north, and. by sticking to the S30 route, and by refusing to look at any other, they have created a time bubble that will allow for Scotland being unable, through being run-down even as powers are reduced. The Internal Market legislation is our death knell, and the SNP leadership and hierarchy must know it, yet they still fiddle while Rome burns. The party is completely infiltrated and taken over by people who have no real interest in independence. That should be obvious to even the dimmest light bulb now. Platitudes and nonsensical policies that actually contravene the laws of nature and science are their babies now. The Sturgeon era has been one of sell-out on all fronts. De Valera or Collins, she ain’t. None of them is or ever intend to be.

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    2. Problems that the killings in Belfast immediately before the truce came into effect and the actions of the specials spooked Collins who reckoned that if the free state in any source got involved in the North it would be counter productive. There has not been a lit of research about the North in 1922/23. I heard some anacdotes in Fermanagh but no documentation. There may be some stuff released under 100 year rule.

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      1. The information I had was that Collins wanted to prevent the Partition, and that it was De Valera who was squeamish about the possibility of British involvement. I do think that De Valera did the right thing with Churchill, taking into consideration all that Ireland had been through at Britain’s hands, but I don’t believe he was, overall, a good thing for Ireland, with his very conservative Catholicism which delayed Irish development as a nation and which certainly gave the NI Protestants a great deal of propaganda ammunition. Collins had his faults, too, of course – which of us doesn’t?

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      2. You have to remember the post Swanzie pogrom in 1920 which demonstrated the vulnerability of the Catholic community. Remember there were over 50,000 Pro partition troops of one sort or another in NI in the spring of 1922. Remember that NI was set up before the treaty so the idea of stopping partition is chronologically wrong.

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  8. It seems self-evident, that Johnson (a great admirer of Churchill) is happy to pursue the same intent – “…Britain’s necessity would become a moral code and that when this necessity became sufficiently great, other people’s rights were not to count.” Indeed, he has already been doing so for some time.

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    1. Just as Unionist Scots here are the actual main source of anti independence sentiment, so the NI Unionists are the main source of partition in Ireland. They are the foundations of the Westminster anti independence and pro partition policies. In NI’s case, Westminster would quite happily see Ireland re-united because, apart from being a handy source of back-up when things get sticky (still waiting on the last instalment, aren’t they?) neither the Tories nor Labour have any real strategic or economic interest in NI. In Scotland, although I am quite certain that, if things changed tomorrow, Westminster would cut Scottish Unionists loose without any conscience, the strategic game is still on: Faslane and Coulport, oil and gas, electricity, water, etc. Huge new initiatives have been announced for England, and, until they come on tap, we are still in the frame. Wales is also in a situation where its water to England is necessary, so it will not be let go of easily either.

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  9. Without blanket endorsement of his views or even of his use of English (I prefer his Irish) I would draw attention again to the website of Feargal McCluskey / Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh for his robust contextual analysis of Ireland, historical and contemporary. Here is a sample passage from his current blogpost (17 Oct 2021) —

    “This callous, racist, inhumanity is hardwired into British history and society and as a result into Irish society as well. By coincidence, it happened this week that Noam Chomsky gave an interview for the Irish Times, which argued that the Irish State had robbed poor working people of tens of trillions of dollars. The journalist, Hugh Linehan, then asked the trillion-dollar question: ‘People might say that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and that nations and states do whatever they can to gain a competitive advantage.’ I will quote Chomsky’s answer at length so that the self-satisfied liberal ****** who tut-tut about Patel etc. can grasp the direct causal relationship between their unqualified ‘common sense’ support for neo-liberalism and the barbarous geo-political order that forces poor people to risk the lives of their children to create some sort of life in the West.  
    ——————
    Chomsky:  « Hitler would have greatly approved. It’s one way for states to act. Germany did pretty well on it. Almost conquered Eurasia. So, yeah, when nations are out for themselves, that’s what you find. 
    That’s why Britain became very rich. It started in the Elizabethan era with piracy. But then it turned to the most vicious forms of slavery in human history. First in the British Caribbean islands, then the American South. That’s why Britain pretty much supported the Confederacy. When they lost that, Egypt, then India. Then England turned to the largest narco-trafficking operation in human history, conquered more of India to try to monopolise the opium trade.  
    So take a look at British wealth – robbery on the high seas; a hideous system of slavery, narco-trafficking. A very wealthy country. So, yeah, what you’re saying is right, that’s what states do. Attila the Hun was doing the same too. It’s one way to behave. »
    ——————
    For anyone struggling with the layers of inference here – let me spell it out. We in the Liberal West owe a responsibility to these economic and political refugees because we have asset stripped and bombed their countries to oblivion as part of a four-century old economic system based on inhumanity.”

    https://blosc.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 10 people

      1. It was Indian opium to China in return for tea. A Million addicts thanks to the Private company running India for the Empire. Queen Victoria did very well financially as Empress of India.

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    1. Thanks for that clarification regarding the India reference, Clootie. Very helpful. Apologies to Chomsky. Any addlement is mine alone.

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    2. Fearghas: all of humanity behaves, and has always behaved in this way. Some nations made it and others didn’t, but all, at some point, are willing to use the most inhumane methods to advance themselves. Let’s not stop there, though, because individuals behave in precisely the same way, always on the look-out for the main chance – usually at someone else’s expense. It is just a fact of life that genuinely decent, good-hearted people, or those who put others first, or anywhere at all, actually, do not tend to thrive in the way that b******s do. The emptiest vessels have the loudest voices and the most charm, and superficially, they get it all. Just watched a programme the other night with David Attenborough. In it, he featured chimps and explained how the most aggressive and pushy male alpha chimp who screams and threatens manages to keep the females corralled and with no say in the mating game. At least, that’s the impression they give. In reality, young males who are not alphas make friends with the female chimps from childhood, and they groom each other and remain friends, the males even going so far as to babysit for the mothers. While the alphas fight and brutalize each other, the females sneak off and mate with the kinder non-alpha males. The moral, of course, since we are just big chimps, is in the fact that kindness and decency and mutuality can go a long way to achieve what you want – both non-alpha males and females. The biblical homily: the meek shall inherit the earth is perhaps, not far wrong. Neither is: empires come and empires go. Or: every dog has its day. Some day, we might have learned enough to understand that the aggressors, the war-mongers, the brute strength warriors are not the only way

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      1. Lorncal,

        Of course, as you well know, “decent, good-hearted people” down through history have done rather more to help ensure society survives “the aggressors, the war-mongers, the brute strength warriors” than just to hope that “Some day, we might have learned enough”. Democracy is built on the establishing of laws (national and international) which at best defend the weak against brute strength, or at least provide some kind of recourse. Certainly a problem arises if the judiciary itself is hijacked.

        In reference to Chomsky’s above remark: “That’s why Britain became very rich. It started in the Elizabethan era with piracy“, it is of interest to note the early law-thinking of Hugo Grotius (1583-1645). His fellow Dutchman Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) writes: “Hugo Grotius in his famous book ‘Mare liberum’ (1609) denied with good reason the claims of England to the propriety of the open sea, just as in his earlier treatise ‘De jure praedae’ he denied the same claims of Portugal.” (Unilateral “policing” of world oceans and territories, anyone?)

        A noble thread in Scottish history is that which stretches back, through many constitutional thinkers, to John Duns Scotus and his influence on the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320. The question addressed was “When, and in what manner, is it appropriate to rebel against unjust government?” This is the existential question which Scotland now faces afresh. Our constitutional heritage would suggest that a democratically elected lower-tier of government is the appropriate conduit of resistance against a higher tier which mocks democracy. The ultimate embodiment of the latter is of course the (brute force) totalitarian state which recognises no (international) law above it.

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      2. Absolutely agree, Fearghas. Down through the years, we study philosophers to try and make sense of our world, our place in it and the forces that drive it. Most philosophers offer something positive (even the ones that have the reputation of being negative in some aspects of their philosophy), something to take us forward even if just an inch. Going backwards is the speciality of the war-mongers and aggressors, the selfish and self-interested, trying to drag us back to barbarism and control for their own ends. The first thing they think about is destroying the safeguards: the laws that protect us all. Basically it is a case of: this is what I want and these laws are preventing me from having it all my own way, ergo I must chop them down. Sometimes, they don’t actually chop them down, but create the conditions where they are no longer viable, just as they create the conditions for making democracy unviable.

        I agree with jgedd, too, if I am right in interpreting what is being said: that we are hard-wired to follow our instinctive enlightened self-interest; and that following the unenlightened variety leads us down paths that are dangerous to our species’ survival. We know, for instance, that it makes no economic or social sense for the female of the species to be kept in an (economic) unproductive prison because in the poorest societies her children will die of starvation or be denied schooling to improve their lives, in turn, yet, we see, from Afghanistan, for example, that this mindset drives the Taliban to create a society that is pushed back to the Stone Age. Female emancipation is related directly to economic success among many other things. The Taliban here are the equivalent of the alpha males in chimp and lion society, for example, who narrow the gene pool to the detriment of the species.

        What we are witnessing in Scotland now will eventually, if allowed to continue unchecked, lead to the economic and social disintegration of our society. On the one hand, we need independence to survive the nosedive that the UK, as a whole, is taking, but, since it is England that is first and foremost in all things, it stands to reason that Scotland will suffer even more in the coming years – because our politicians did not act soon enough or decisively enough or with the necessary courage to take us out of the Union. On the other hand, the SNP government has allowed itself to be hi-jacked by people who have no real interest in independence: their area of influence is sexual inasmuch as they are gripped by a desire to force our society to accept Queer Theory under the guise of equality. The methods employed by Stonewall would make a Taliban general blush. We are besieged by aggressive, unenlightened self-interest on all sides. Scots Law is under greater pressure than it has ever been to conform to English Law masquerading as British Law because of Brexit and the Internal Market legislation, and sexual offences laws will not survive the onslaught of public autogynephilia/paraphilia/fetish of aggressive male sexuality with which they will necessarily clash. We are at a crossroads in Scotland, teetering on the edge of totalitarianism.

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      3. (Often when I read something of yours, Lorncal, I think it is something I could have written myself but didn’t, of course! Are you my lost twin?)

        The observation above about the behaviour of Congo chimpanzees seemed to animal behaviourists and anthropologists to have some relevance for their close relatives, humans. While to earlier observers such as Konrad Lorenz, the violent domination of the male chimpanzees conveyed a dark message from evolutionary history and resulted in his assertion that the violent propensities of chimpanzee society were present inherently in early hominids, our ancestors, so that we were were inescapably murderous. His book ‘The Killer Ape’ set out his theory and for a time was very influential.

        However, later anthropologists disagreed with his partial reading of the behaviour of chimpanzees and his theory of The Killer Ape was discredited. As you say, the powerful, aggressive alpha males who seemingly dominated submissive females, were taken to presage the society of early hominids too. The observations overlooked the more subtle interactions of young chimpanzee males, ostensibly kept from the females by the aggression of the alpha male, who were actually having clandestine meetings with some of the females, where they used more sensitive and ingratiating behaviour to win the attention of the females. ( This kind of behaviour has been observed in gorilla groups also where, unobserved by the great silverback, members of his harem will slip away to have assignations with younger males in the forest.)

        All of these possible behaviours existed then and if successful in an evolutionary sense, are passed on to succeeding generations, so that more subtle and complex combinations of behaviour can be utilised, all of it available to human society – the aggressive and dominating, the more empathetic and altruistic – the full palette of human motivations and emotions. All of it is based on self-interest, ‘ getting what you want’ if you like, but often using more beneficent and consensual methods leading perhaps to the elusive ideal, ‘everyone gets what they want’ – enlightened self-interest if you will.

        For most of human history, unfortunately, competition for resources was primarily dominating and aggressive. If powerful elites are in charge, then violent competition is usually what you get since like the alpha chimpanzee they want to commandeer everything. There has always been, however, the struggle for a more just and kinder society. Amusing to think that the drive for fair access to resources and control of same, might have come from those rustling, secretive meetings in the forest. ( I might have digressed into the behaviour of the bonobo Chimpanzees whose social behaviour is very different from the Congo Chimpanzee and experiments which show that a sense of justice is present in Capuchin monkeys but I’ve already gone on too long, also the suspect motivation of Konrad Lorenz to find Humans were Killer Apes was probably down to politics, but….)

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  10. @Iainlawson27 10:31

    That was a direct reflection in reply to Bruceb who who wrote: “I feel the need sometimes to read a biography, one that is neutral or critical of de V. If anyone can suggest …” My post had nothing, whatsoever, to do with your article, if indeed you were replying to my comment. That your comment at 10:31 appeared underneath my comment lead me to believe, quite understandably, that it was. My apologies, if justified, are, of course, duly extended.

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  11. A fine speech by the Irish premier of the day, I suppose we strive to be as independent as Ireland, which has suffered greatly under British oppression.

    “that by standing fast a time would come when, to quote his own words: “the tyrant would make some ghastly mistake which would alter the whole balance of the struggle.”

    The above sentence in relation to Scotland, not Ireland, saw, our great opportunity (Mistake by England) which was Brexit, alas we did not take that great escape route out of this union.

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  12. Your comments said it all Iain, I too hope for a velvet divorce from the UK (We do not need a referendum) but it certainly will take a better leader than the present one. I tuned in to PMQ today, I normally do not listen to such rubbish, but I thought there might be a word or two about St Fergus, there was, of course, St Fergus is in Scotland (and why it has been scratched from the list,) Little matter that it is the perfect site, and would go a long way to having a continuation of work for so many men being paid off as a result of the rundown in the oil industry in Aberdeen. Can this be a catalyst – getting through to the NS fan club, allowing the scales to fall from their eyes?

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