Sunday, April 08, 2007

High Treason
I do not love my country.
Its abstract splendour
is beyond my grasp
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pine woods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history,
(and three or four rivers).

This is always a difficult time of the year for me. As a devout Marxisante I'm religiously opposed to nationalism in any way, shape, or form. But as an Irishman, Easter always has significant emotional connotations for me, as it does for countless Irish people. Connotations that can't be resolved in just any old materialist dialectic.

I hate nationalism. I love my country. The sense of being Irish and proud was ingrained in me early on. When I was making myself sick on too many chocolate eggs the names of Padraig Pearse, James Connolly and the rest of the mad bastards who wandered out to take on the British Empire at Easter in 1916 would be raised as a reminder that the season was about more than a Smarties egg or some bloke in Palestine being nailed to a cross.

Nationalism represents a major dilemma because however much you try to separate your Marxist analysis from your heart, if you're an Irish Marxist there's a level at which you can't escape this historical equivalent of the club versus country debate.

So I shall do as I have done for many a year now. I shall wait until the speeches are over, the flute bands have shagged off to the pub, and the wilted Easter lilies have been put away until next year. I shall wander alone up to Kilmainham Jail and then onto Glasnevin where I shall pay my respects to a Jock, a Scouser, and a Big House toff whose legacy of struggle and inspiration was swiftly pushed aside in the rush to nationhood after 1916.


Is it just me? said...

I couldn't agree with you more Liam.
My father used to take us to Kilmainham Gaol as children (we didn't have cineplexes, thankfully) and the stories he told us about the characters imprisoned there stay with me.
You've just inspired me to go back there with my boys...hopefully the sanitising crew haven't made a feck of the place and added a thrill ride.

Liam G said...

It's a hard place to sanitise fortunately(??) I just opted out of the full blown Easter thing a few years ago when I came to live here because of the way that nationalist ancestor worshipping seemed to over-shadow/erase completely the lost radical social promise of 1916 in so many people's minds.