Joined up thinking for the Irish Left
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NAMA Wine Lake >>
Irish Holocaust Denial and the campaign against "Sinn Féin/IRA"
The denial of genocide as a modern political weapon
Irish Holocaust denial, or genocide denial, which refers to itself as revisionism, has evolved over three decades of propagandising as an important "cutting edge" ideological weapon in the ideological war against the IRA after 1969.
"The political commentator, the ballad singer and the unknown maker of folk-tales have all spoken about the Great famine, but is there more to be said? If man, the prisoner of time, acts in conformity with the conventions of society into which he is born, it is difficult to judge him with irrevocable harshness. So it is with the men of the famine era. Human limitations and timidity dominate the story of the Great Famine, but of great and deliberately imposed evil in high positions of responsibility there is little evidence."
Editors R. Dudley Edwards and T. Desmond Williams writing in "The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History 1845-52"
"Firstly the Great Irish Famine is not a generalised illustration of the dangers of "unrestrained" capitalism, rather it was a freak natural occurrence that was in many ways exacerbated by flawed government policies. Secondly, the Irish Famine was very different from the tragedies which have recently being witnessed in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thirdly, the fundamental cause of famines in the late twentieth century is not Western "injustice" and "indifference" but are rather the actions of third world governments and their armed political competitors.
On a superficial level the proximate cause of the famine can be readily identified; the fungus phytophthora infestans which destroyed a large portion of Ireland's potato crop over the period 1845-9. Indeed it has been convincingly shown that the pre-famine Irish economy did not contain the seeds of its own destruction and that there was nothing inevitable about the famine had the potato blight not occurred. The famine was an unpredictable ecological freak; in words of the Dutch historian and scientist Peter Solar it was a case of "Ireland as having been profoundly unlucky" rather than being the inevitable product of market forces run wild (or of unrestrained population growth)."
Learning the Wrong Lessons: Governments, Hunger and the Great Irish Famine By Gareth G Davis
Irish Holocaust denial, or genocide denial, which refers to itself as revisionism, has evolved over three decades of propagandising as an important "cutting edge" ideological weapon in the ideological war against the IRA after 1969. While appearing on the surface as a scholarly challenge to the well-established record of English genocide against the Gaelic nation since the Norman invasion, Irish Holocaust denial serves as a powerful theory uniting otherwise disparate groups (e.g., Ulster Unionists, Southern Neo-Unionists, 26 county free staters, the British establishment, British public opinion, etc.).
On the surface, Irish Holocaust deniers portray themselves as individuals and groups engaged in a legitimate, dispassionate quest for historical knowledge and "truth." Dressing themselves in pseudo-academic garb, they have adopted the term "revisionism" in order to mask and legitimise their enterprise. After all, the ongoing challenge to and revision of previously accepted historical interpretation is one of the hallmarks of the professional historian's craft.
These so-called revisionists assert that the premise that the British Empire engaged in a premeditated campaign of genocide against the Gaelic people of Ireland is one that does not stand honest scholarly scrutiny.
They do not deny that the British government engaged in persecution of and discrimination against the Gaelic population. They even admit the frequency of famine and prevalence of discrimination in occupied Ireland. They assert, however, that the anti-Irish actions of the British government were in large part a legitimate response to Irish misdeeds and disloyalty. As such, the measures taken were not qualitatively different from similar actions of European powers of the time.
Irish Holocaust deniers seek to plant seeds of questioning and doubt about the Irish Holocaust in their mass audiences. While Holocaust denial has become an article of faith among many in the 26 county establishment, its success does not depend upon conversion to that faith among the general public. The spread of scepticism about the scope and historicity of the Irish Holocaust among a critical mass of public opinion would be considered to be a significant ideological triumph in and of itself.
Genocide denial has been widely embraced within the otherwise disparate contemporary Neo-Unionist movement because it serves as an ideological cement that meets a very contemporary political need. In particular, it provides a sanitized envelope for the latter-day occupation of the six counties of north eastern Ireland by seeking to show that the heinous crimes ascribed to British rule in Ireland never took place. As such, much of the barrier preventing the legitimisation of contemporary British rule in Ireland from making a strategic breakthrough by appealing to a more mainstream audience would be removed. Accordingly, Holocaust denial provides contemporary legitimisation through posthumous rehabilitation. It is no accident that some Southern establishment parties are avid propagators of genocide denial ideology. The core message of the Irish Holocaust deniers is even more insidious.
They recognize the fact that most people believe that the Irish Holocaust / Artificial Famines were man made. (There were nine "famines" between 1740 and 1880. And incredible amount of pure incompetance, timidity, or profound bad luck?) How can it be, they ask, that the great majority have come to accept as truth an historical assertion which is in actuality a total falsehood?
They answer that most people have come to accept uncritically the story of the Irish Holocaust because they have been systematically propagandised with deliberate lies for over one hundred and fifty years. These lies include materials inserted by De Valera into the educational curriculum; the content of Holocaust-related folk lore and song; a vast Irish Holocaust literature; public rituals of genocide remembrance etc.. They picture a vast shadowy conspiracy, led by Sinn Féin/IRA and Fianna Fáil dupes that manipulate the institutions of culture in order to disseminate a false mythology.
The purpose of this genocide mythology, they assert, is the delegitimisation of the British state in Ireland and a legitimisation of the IRA campaign. This legitimisation is used to advance the IRA agenda of Irish Unity and total independence from England.