Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The British Empire and Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 01:31:14 AM EST


The British Empire and Ireland

A chara, - Professor Nigel Biggar writes: "If colonialists can `other' the natives, essentialising them into contemptible stereotypes, nationalists, too, can `other' the imperialists." This is a classic case of "both sides do it" as if there is an equivalence between the actions of the oppressor and the oppressed. The slave is not equally guilty of slavery as the slaver, even if he has reconciled himself to his fate, and ends up working for his enslaver.


The Irish literary and language revival was an act of opposition to colonial rule, not an expression of it, as Prof Biggar seems to imply. The fact that there were many outstanding individuals, some earning their living as servants of the empire, who did not subscribe to the "imperial project" and indeed ameliorated its worst effects, does not alter the fact that the main thrust of UK government imperial policy was one of domination and suppression.

History is complex, with many interwoven narratives, but to try to obscure its main thrust with anecdotes about those few people who swam against the tide is hardly an "ethical remembering". It demeans the achievements of those who stood out against the worst aspects of imperialism and uses them to justify or mitigate the acts of its worst perpetrators. Far from constituting a balanced historiography, it is a shocking washing of hands by a professor of moral theology. - Is mise,


The Irish Times, much to the annoyance of may of its commentators, continues to publish the views of a wide range of British academics, journalists and politicians on Ireland's role in the British Empire, in Europe, and now as part of the British Isles. In the meantime it employs only a handful (of admittedly very good) correspondents in Europe: Naomi O'Leary in Brussels, Derek Scally in Berlin, Paddy Agnew in Rome, and Lara Marlowe in Paris.

So we had disgraced former Labour MP Denis McShane telling is that we are part of the British Isles, and that our prosperity is very much linked to that of the UK. Newton Emerson claimed that Irish Europhilia is just displaced anglophobia. Finn McRedmond chiming in with the Telegraph that The Irish president has a cheek lecturing Britons about history. And Finally yesterday we had Nigel Biggar, Regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford, telling us that our  President's view of British empire is too one-sided.

Hence my letter published today and copied above, which attempts to rebut his central thesis that Britain can be proud of much of its imperial history. The Irish Times omitted the third paragraph of my letter, which read:

Neither does the British empire's war against a rival wannabe Nazi empire do anything to justify the British imperial project, it was merely two military empires fighting each other for dominance. The fact that the Nazi empire turned out to be even more evil in perpetrating of the Holocaust, does not excuse the only slightly more passive British imperial project of starving almost half the population of this island to forced emigration or death.

But the overall sense of my letter remains: That Imperialism is not something any nation should be proud of, even if some empires were marginally more humane than others, and many individuals strove to alleviate the its worst effects. Nigel Bigger has form in defending imperialism: A group of over 50 Oxford academics recently felt compelled to disassociate themselves from his views:

Ethics and empire: an open letter from Oxford scholars

A group of Oxford academics has written the below letter following the debate surrounding an article in The Times entitled "Don't feel guilty about our colonial history" by Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford.


We are scholars who work on histories of empire and colonialism and their after-effects, broadly understood. We teach our students to think seriously and critically about those histories and their contemporary legacies. We write to express our opposition to the public stance recently taken on these questions by Nigel Biggar, also an academic at Oxford, and the agenda pursued in his recently announced project entitled "Ethics and Empire".

Professor Biggar has every right to hold and to express whatever views he chooses or finds compelling, and to conduct whatever research he chooses in the way he feels appropriate. But his views on this question, which have been widely publicised at the Oxford Union, as well as in national newspapers, risk being misconstrued as representative of Oxford scholarship. For many of us, and more importantly for our students, they also reinforce a pervasive sense that contemporary inequalities in access to and experience at our university are underpinned by a complacent, even celebratory, attitude towards its imperial past. We therefore feel obliged to express our firm rejection of them.

Biggar's media interventions have been spurred in defence of a discredited polemical opinion piece by American political scientist Bruce Gilley. This advocated a "recolonisation" of parts of the world by Western powers as a solution to misgovernment in the global south. His own call for British "pride to temper shame" in the assessment of empire is similarly intended to fortify support for overseas military interventions today. Such prescriptions not only rest on very bad history, they are breathtakingly politically naive.

Biggar apparently approves of Bruce Gilley's article "The case for colonialism" which argued that western nations should recolonise the the third world because the natives were doing such a bad job of running their own countries. It seems as if the established church in Britain is not done with colonialism yet. No wonder the Brexiteers dream of re-establishing a "global Britain" at the head of a commonwealth of right thinking nations. I think we in Ireland will be giving it a miss.

Display:
Jesus's most difficult to obey injunction is 'to suffer fools gladly'. But to paraphrase 'fools you shall always have with you.' This seems especially true at the top of church hierarchies, the current Pope being a notable exception.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 02:31:13 AM EST
...the main thrust of UK government imperial policy was one of domination and suppression

The main thrust of Imperialism is exploitation* and do that requires domination and suppression.

* meaning: steal everything that isn't nailed down and bring on the crowbars for what is

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 06:13:46 AM EST
Imperialism and morals. Up there with friendly fire and military intelligence.

Like economics, the revision of history to comfort the rich is a profitable exercise. It just requires a certain...ah, refinement of attitude aka moral blindness

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 08:24:37 AM EST
You have to respect anyone who believes the UK should recolonise its empire because its current incarnation is such a perfect epitome of excellent government.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 10:11:25 AM EST
In a United Ireland, North could be benefit rather than burden
Prof Mike Tomlinson
While heads were turned for the Budget at Westminster last week, the swagger of British sovereignty struck another blow against the implementation of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol. This was less about the substance of the delayed implementation of the Irish Sea border and more about attitude. Nor does it matter whether Gove or Frost is in the driving seat: the point is the UK Government took unilateral action outside the procedures painstakingly agreed in the Protocol.

This is hopeless for the trust that any international agreement requires for successful implementation. But the real danger is that the latest UK move heralds a strategy of wrecking the Protocol. If the EU is unable to secure UK cooperation in defending the integrity of the single market at the Irish Sea border, then there is the possibility of drawing a new border between Ireland and mainland Europe.

This is the glint in the eye of the Brexit Ultras: the prospect of peeling Ireland away from the EU and back into Britain's orbit. The whiff of Empire 2.0 is back in the air.

This is a good piece by Prof Mike Tomlinson on the origins of N. Ireland's financial dependency on Westminster and the role it plays in the English imperial project. He argues that the subvention N. Ireland receives from England would not have to be as great in a united Ireland, and that it would result in a more equal and progressive society. His conclusion is that "It is time to stop thinking of the North as a burdensome basket case and instead to imagine what the North brings to the piece. "

But he doesn't actually make a case for what N. Ireland would bring to a united Ireland, beyond the need for a slightly reduced subvention from the Irish, as opposed to the British exchequer. The benefits of improved integration in an all Ireland economy or reduced duplication of administrative services is not discussed. But most importantly, there is no discussion of the economic and financial benefits of public policies more attuned to the actual needs of N. Ireland (as opposed to English public policy imperatives) that could be enacted in an all Ireland context.

Ireland has done many things badly, but it leads the world in attracting foreign direct investment and making the most of the EU Single Market. N. Ireland's heavily agriculture based economy is also more suited to benefit from EU CAP policies than what are likely to be applied in post Brexit Britain. The Westminster bubble is famously remote from the needs of the regions within the UK. Might a Dublin based government with ample N. Ireland representation and involvement not be expected to be more closely aligned with N. Ireland's needs?

A discussion which is really only beginning...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 10:20:28 AM EST
Letter to the editor, Belfastmedia.com
Prof Mike Tomlinson has written a good piece on the origins of N. Ireland's financial dependency on Westminster and the role it plays in the English imperial project. He argues that the subvention N. Ireland receives from England would not have to be as great in a united Ireland, and that it would result in a more equal and progressive society. His conclusion is that "It is time to stop thinking of the North as a burdensome basket case and instead to imagine what the North brings to the piece. "

But he doesn't actually make a case for what N. Ireland would bring to a united Ireland, beyond the need for a slightly reduced subvention from the Irish, as opposed to the British exchequer. The benefits of improved integration in an all Ireland economy or reduced duplication of administrative services is not discussed. But most importantly, there is no discussion of the economic and financial benefits of public policies more attuned to the actual needs of N. Ireland (as opposed to English public policy imperatives) that could be enacted in an all Ireland context.

Ireland has done many things badly, but it leads the world in attracting foreign direct investment and making the most of the EU Single Market. N. Ireland's heavily agriculture based economy is also more suited to benefit from EU CAP policies than what are likely to be applied in post Brexit Britain. The Westminster bubble is famously remote from the needs of the regions within the UK. Might a Dublin based government with ample N. Ireland representation and involvement not be expected to be more closely aligned with N. Ireland's real needs?



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 10:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The case for colonialism
Bruce Gilley, department of Political Science, Portland State university, Portland, OR, USA
ABSTRACT

For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts. The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it. Anti-colonial ideology imposed  grave  harms  on  subject  peoples  and  continues  to  thwart  sustained  development  and  a  fruitful  encounter  with  modernity  in  many places. Colonialism can be recovered by weak and fragile states today  in  three  ways:  by  reclaiming  colonial  modes  of  governance;  by  recolonising  some  areas;  and  by  creating  new  Western  colonies  from scratch.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 01:07:22 PM EST
I recently read Late Victorian Holocausts that methodically goes through the holocausts caused by British colonial rule mainly in India.

To sum up, during 190 years there was:

  • numerous starvation disasters, directly related to the economic model enforced by the colonial rulers
  • during these disasters aid was intentionally insufficient and private collections for aid was banned. The results - millions, sometimes tens of millions dead - was simply denied.
  • essentially no economic growth
  • essentially no population growth (though starvation was blamed on Malthusian population growth)
  • vast fortunes made in Britain were all surplus was sent

Highly recommended book.
by fjallstrom on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 03:34:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When the UK colonised India it was one of the richest countries in the world. By the time they left it was one of the poorest...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 06:25:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Question is how it would have been in the 1920s if Ireland had not been partitioned, in comparison to how it has been for the past century. Maybe it would be better to jump into the deep end now and deal with it, hoping not to be still stuck in 2120.
by asdf on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 06:22:41 PM EST
I think a unionist/nationalist civil war would have been almost unavoidable in 1922, and it would have been long and bloody had Britain or unionist sympathisers supplied arms to the unionists.

There is no "jumping in the deep end" without a majority both North and south supporting it, and while that may be getting closer, we are still some way off getting there.

Crucial to getting there will be the development of a plan with a realistic prospect of at least maintaining current living standards, with guaranties for (unionist) minority rights, and local and devolved political structures capable of maintaining local identities and feelings of belonging.

The discussions that would have to happen to make that possible - between the British and Irish Governments and between the various parties on the islands - haven't really started in earnest yet, and will be continually frustrated/blocked by unionists and their conservative allies.

If Brexit turns out to be a disaster and Scotland votes for independence the political momentum in that direction will become unstoppable, whether the unionists cooperate or not. But we are not there yet.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 06:36:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The island as a whole has yet to experience full decolonization.  The Republic is only now at the beginning of the end of economic domination.  The North is still in the beginning of that process as it has yet to experience the overthrow of political and economic domination by the ethnic group placed in charge and economically, politically, and militarily supported by the colonial power.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 06:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Sinn Féin becomes the dominant political force in N. Ireland with the power to enforce its will on many matters in the devolved administration, many moderate unionists may well turn to Dublin to bail them out. The same applies if post Brexit fiscal pressures force the imposition of a large measure of austerity on N. Ireland, with the subvention becoming squeezed.Most unionists do know what side their bread is buttered, and some are derisively described as being more loyal to the half-crown than the Crown...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 07:13:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Courtesy of the Monday Club.
by Bernard on Sat Mar 13th, 2021 at 05:59:04 PM EST
The Labour Party had a slogan "The seventies will be socialist".

It was mostly socialism of the smoked salmon vaiety.

And anybody who thinks (Labour Minister) Conor Cruise O'Brien was a socialist need sa brain transplant!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 13th, 2021 at 08:39:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not exactly a surprise, but the stakes may be getting higher.

`Shamrock diplomacy' shows Biden backs Irish nationalists on post-Brexit trade rules

DUBLIN -- U.S. President Joe Biden's administration just tied the defense of Northern Ireland's peace accord to the success of the EU-U.K. trade protocol for the region. Such "shamrock diplomacy" has deep and influential roots -- and it's bad news for Northern Irish unionists trying to wreck the protocol.

A joint statement issued late on St. Patrick's Day by Biden and Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said support for the U.S.-brokered 1998 peace deal requires "good faith implementation of international agreements designed to address the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland." Their declaration followed an unexpectedly long 80-minute video chat.

Ireland for decades has enjoyed unique annual access to the White House, where the fountain water and floodlit building once again turned green for the occasion. Such cultural and political ties are seen as particularly powerful given that Biden bills himself as the most Irish-American president since John F. Kennedy.

Biden and Martin's new joint position underscores that the U.S., like Ireland, expects the British government to intensify EU customs checks on British goods arriving at ports in Northern Ireland -- which, unlike the rest of the U.K., remains subject to EU single market rules.

by Bernard on Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 06:41:13 PM EST

EU launches lawsuits against UK over Irish border

In a letter sent by the EU to the UK, Brussels began an "infringement procedure" that may end up, after a lengthy process, before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which may impose fines.

The UK has 30 days to respond to the letter or otherwise see the legal proceedings go one step further.

A second letter could activate a separate dispute settlement mechanism, on the grounds that the UK has not respected international law by delaying the border controls.

This could see the UK, also after a long process, inflicted with tariffs and other retaliatory measures within its trade deal with Europe.

by Oui on Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 07:47:25 PM EST
by Oui on Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 09:37:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, the Irish economy continues to disengage from Britain, with Irish imports from Britain declining by 65% and Irish exports to Britain declining by 14%.
Imports from Britain fall by two-thirds in wake of Brexit
Imports from Britain fell by almost two-thirds in January after the UK left the EU.

The latest trade statistics from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal an immediate Brexit impact in January as the UK's Brexit transition period came to an end, with the value of imports falling by 65 per cent - from €1.4 billion to €497 million - compared to the same month last year.

The falloff was driven by declines in imports of food and live animals (down 75 per cent to €62 million) and mineral fuels (down 71 per cent to €57 million). There were also declines in chemicals and related products from Britain, and in machinery and transport equipment.

The CSO said a combination of factors contributed to the large reduction in imports from the Britain in January, including the challenges of complying with customs requirements.

Other factors included the stockpiling of goods in the final quarter of 2020 in preparation for Brexit, the substitution with goods from other countries, and a reduction in trade volumes due to the impact of Covid-19.

Exports from here to Britain were also hit, falling by 14 per cent to €946 million. Exports to Britain accounted for 7 per cent of total exports in January.

Globally the CSO figures show goods imports decreased by €907 million (12 per cent) to €6.6 billion in January compared with the previous month.

The value of Irish goods exports, meanwhile, increased by €188 million (1 per cent) to €13 billion.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 08:25:58 PM EST
Meanwhile, the Irish economy continues to disengage from Britain

Seeing how the EU-UK relations are deteriorating, particularly with regard to NI (but not only), this looks like a wise move.

by Bernard on Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 09:06:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Threat of no-deal Brexit remains, peers say, as EU relations sour | The Guardian |

Its chairman, Lord Kinnoull, says there are "noises" coming out of the EU that it may delay ratification beyond the current target of 30 April, risking a further escalation of the row over the deal signed less than three months ago.

...
While the UK has exited the EU, the trade deal is only operational because of an emergency procedure on the EU side, with ratification by the European parliament due by 30 April to make it permanently legally binding.

While no one expects the deal to be ripped up, the peers, including the former chancellor Lord Lamont and the former national security adviser Lord Ricketts, say the disputes over Northern Ireland "reflect and compound a broader breakdown of trust between the UK government and the EU".

"The European Union committee warned in December 2017 that it was difficult to envisage a worse outcome for the UK than a `no-deal' Brexit. We are therefore concerned that recent developments have so undermined trust that the possibility of `no deal' - in other words, a failure to ratify the trade and cooperation agreement (TCA) - has now resurfaced," says the report.

Beyond Brexit, the Institutional Framework, is the final publication in the 45-year history of the Lords EU select committee, which is now shutting up shop, mirroring the fate of the House of Commons Brexit select committee, which was axed earlier this year.

International Agreements Committee's views on the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)

by Oui on Fri Mar 19th, 2021 at 04:04:06 PM EST
by Oui on Fri Mar 19th, 2021 at 04:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 08:30:18 PM EST
Thank you for including a link to Portland State's posting of Gilley's article.  It allows for anyone here who hadn't already read it to see for themselves just how morally and intellectually bankrupt this wanker is.  He's found himself a nice, little academic niche pandering to the Reich Wing Fear and Hate Machine (cf. Paul Cassell) by employing the usual "Help, help, I'm being oppressed!" routine.  That Biggar is backing his play is just more justification, as if any more were needed, for the course of action many US Episcopalians (Yours Truly included) would prefer, namely bombing Canterbury into the Stone Age, the principal problem with that plan being that Canterbury is already there.
by rifek on Mon Mar 29th, 2021 at 05:39:31 PM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries