Declan Lynch: ‘Recreational nationalists: they just can’t say no’

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Declan Lynch: ‘Recreational nationalists: they just can’t say no’



Let us call it ‘recreational nationalism’. Like the recreational use of Class A drugs, it is a major phenomenon but rarely gets the kind of attention we give to the hardcore element, the addicts who have nothing else in their lives – the ones we call terrorists, to distinguish them from the ones who used to be terrorists, or who would support terrorism in certain circumstances.

It is a false distinction, because really they all want the same thing, but then it has to be said that the recreational nationalists want that thing, too.

They all want a united Ireland of some kind, just like the recreational users of cocaine at dinner parties want the same thing as the irredeemable obsessives scoring the really bad stuff in the alleyways.

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Maybe the recreational users want a better type of cocaine, or they don’t want quite as much of it, and they’re not sure if they’d like it every day, and they would prefer on the whole if thousands of people didn’t have to be murdered in some faraway place just so that they could be getting what they want – but still they want it.

Likewise, the recreational nationalist wants to enjoy the vision of a united Ireland, with all the bad things about the united Ireland taken out – and this was obviously difficult last week when Lyra McKee was murdered in pursuit of their particular vision of a united Ireland.

But the recreational users managed it anyway, because on the Monday after that murder, #UnitedIreland was trending on Twitter.

For a moment I had the distant hope that #UnitedIreland was trending because anyone who had ever entertained that notion had finally decided to jack it in, and never to speak those words again. But deep down I also knew that this hope was in vain.

No, it was more a kind of a sorrowful meditation by various tweeters on their own #UnitedIreland journey, which still continues, with here and there another false distinction being made between Saoradh and the “old” IRA – the Provos, who were, of course, once a “new” IRA in their own right, to distinguish them from the Old IRA, which no doubt didn’t start out Old, but was itself “new” at the time.

There was fierce criticism, too, of the IRA/Saoradh, by those who are totally against the “physical force tradition” but who are not against the #UnitedIreland dream, to which they are still somehow emotionally connected.

And they are not alone in this, because polls are suggesting that up to 70pc of adults would favour a united Ireland – if you’re asking. They’re not demanding it, as such, not like the Provos or Saoradh or the various IRAs which were once New but are now Old – but if you ask them, they’ll tell you that’s what they want.

So that would be more of the recreational nationalism there, made somewhat more disturbing by the fact that younger people are more in favour than older types. But then how could they not be?

They didn’t live through the last atrocity exhibition brought to us by the Provos, but they know a lot of people who did, and very few of them seem to be any less in favour of #UnitedIreland as a result. No, they still enjoy the little luxury of the occasional toot on the old green powders, though, of course, they wouldn’t want anything really bad to happen along the way – they wouldn’t want thousands to be killed the next time.

Indeed, how could young people be against it in large numbers, when urbane fellows such as Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney are in favour of it – under the right circumstances, of course?

It reminds us a bit of the footballers who say they still like a good drinking session but only “at the right time”. Again, all just recreational.

Yet for all their fastidious efforts to distance themselves from the addicts, as it were, the recreational users in the Republic have always been vital to the business of nationalism in general.

They have kept it going, with their understated support. They can’t bring themselves to just give it up and so they keep suggesting the problem is not the #UnitedIreland as such, it’s just the way it’s been done.

Then they reach that point where they encounter the roughly one million people in Northern Ireland who don’t want #UnitedIreland and they glide over that one by suggesting that those people are sadly mistaken and when they realise how great it would be, they will be fine. Oddly enough, a similar argument used to be made when this Republic was destitute, with a gulag to rival anything from Solzhenitsyn, but sure, they’ll get past that too.

It will hardly ever occur to the higher caste of dinner party Republicans that the problem is actually the #UnitedIreland. That if so many astoundingly disgusting things have been done in its pursuit, maybe it’s the pursuit itself that is wrong?

There was one fine tweet on the subject though, which went: “I think nationalism, unionism, religion, are some of the worst constructs ever created by our species.”

The tweeter had just four followers – make that five.

Red Fred hardly sends dread to opposition

It is only when you are wanting Manchester United to win, that you realise just how grave the situation has become for them. For one night only, Liverpool fans found themselves in the strange position whereby a good result for Man Utd against City would be a good result for Liverpool, too.

In truth, we knew it could not end well.

For them, the thought that they might do Liverpool a favour, even if they were also doing themselves a favour, was probably too much to bear. Even if they weren’t quite bad anyway, to be carrying this weight around in their subconscious for weeks must have been a terrible burden.

They were in this strange new psychic territory, in which their natural ineptitude might be confused with their equally natural desire not to assist Liverpool in any way. Because that is all that is left to them.

Liverpool themselves have been there, of course, to the extent that some have questioned the sincerity of their performance in a similar situation a few years ago, when they might have done United a favour against Chelsea, but couldn’t find it within themselves – though again, the Liverpool of that time was perfectly capable of losing any game, in a variety of ways, some of which had never been seen before.

Indeed, it is not just the decline of United itself that is breathtaking, it is their determination to do all the things that Liverpool did wrong for about 25 years – if Sir Alex Ferguson is still available for corporate events, sharing his thoughts on success and failure, he has all the material he will ever need about the failure, in the disintegration of his own empire.

Indeed, he may also be part of the problem, with United looking for “continuity” by appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the kind of “continuity” that comes from the Gunnar’s deep knowledge of the Ferguson regime – yet Fergie himself never had much time for “continuity”, except the kind of continuity that came from continually winning all your games and then continuing to do that continuously.

Liverpool were great men for the “continuity” as well, until they reached that point which United have reached – a point when everything becomes so dysfunctional you can look at a long list of players they have signed, and you can be completely bewildered by those names, and how little they contributed to the cause.

And poor though so many of them are, there is something definitive about the name of ‘Fred’.

Nothing wrong with the name itself, but when it’s attached to a Brazilian footballer, it will never look right. If you’re a Brazilian footballer, and the best they can call you is ‘Fred’, in all likelihood, you are not the man to turn it around for United. Indeed, to sign a Brazilian called Fred, on general principles, is so obviously wrong, the fact that they paid £53m for him seems relatively trivial.

Best, Law, Charlton, Giggs, Keane, Cantona, Ronaldo… no good will come of evoking those great names.

The truth must be faced.

It’s all about Fred now.

Shameless hacks have a go at Greta

The various criticisms of Greta Thunberg during her visit to Britain last week were mostly the kind of shameless hackery that is directed at the issue of climate change in general – with a few personalised twists just for Greta.

They had a great laugh about the self-importance of this teenager reminding the serious people in the Houses of Parliament of their responsibilities, the same great laugh they had at the multi-millionaire Emma Thompson for coming over to London from Hollywood to “lecture us” about global warming and the like.

There is nothing that the shameless hack likes more than to represent the voices of “normal, sensible people” having their patience tested by these privileged know-alls – though in the case of Thunberg, it got a bit strange when her privileged upbringing was linked to the news that her mother had once represented Sweden in the Eurovision.

Which gave us an actually funny line from Willard Foxton Todd, who wrote: “If someone could explain why Greta Thunberg’s mum being a Eurovision singer is in some way helpful to her I’d like to hear it. It’s not like Bucks Fizz are on panels at Davos every year.”

More in sorrow than in anger, there were suggestions that Greta has been exploited by adults, used as a conduit for these apocalyptic messages – it was just assumed that the apocalyptic messages are drivel, that there’s nothing in this climate change thing for normal, sensible people to be concerned about, except perhaps that Greta is encouraging other young people to mitch.

It was Andrea Leadsom, the Brexiteer, who started that one a few months ago, when kids across the UK walked out of school to call on the Government to declare a climate emergency. “That’s not a strike, it’s truancy,” she said, which was probably the first time anyone had heard the word “truancy” since about 1971.

Leadsom’s impossibly small-minded line brings us to the most grisly feature of these slaggings of Greta Thunberg – the majority of them coming from supporters of Brexit, which is clearly one of the worst ideas in human history. And still they don’t know that, still they feel free to be mouthing their gibberish.

They know nothing.

Sunday Independent

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