Of Hares and Hounds of History
What if Covid is intended to be the final-phase accelerant on a programme of neo-colonialism, this time of the entire world, and Ireland, due its unique history, holds the key to resisting?
(This essay/article borrows from two previously published reflections of mine on related topics in First Things and frontpagemag.com)
If you cast your mind back to this time last year, when the BLM rioting in the guise of demos was at its zenith, it might begin to strike you — now that we’ve advanced perhaps one quarter of the way into the ‘Covid project’ — that there was something anomalous and dissonant in all that statue-tumbling at a time when a form of hitherto undreamt of colonialism was in the process of being imposed on the world. Was it not strange that, in a time when masked or unseen forces appear to be attempting the enslavement of the world by means of a globalised neo-colonialism under cover of healthcare, the left was taking to the streets to protest the residual consequences of the last great wave of colonialism and its close relative, slavery? A case of misdirection, methinks — a case of the left hand knowing plenty well what the right hand intends to do next.
And, if you reflect on it at this remove, what better cover for the introduction of the full blown colonisation of the entire world then a controlled explosion of ‘protests’ against the earlier, ‘pilot’ schemes? It goes with saying — at least it ought to by now — that BLM is as much owned and controlled by the Combine as RTE or the Irish Times (and they both are). There was, therefore, nothing ‘spontaneous’ about the eruption of BLM violence in the summer of 2020. Like the food shortages of 2022, it was all part of the plan, written a long time ago. Having the former imperial world subjected to reminders of its dubious past was a good way of keeping the lid on any grumbling about somewhat lesser apparently unavoidable impositions in the present. And how better to sneak in the mother of all colonialisms on the former colonising nations than by accompanying that initiative with reminders of the original model?
If we wish to understand what is happening to us, we need to look deeply into our own history and the history of the world. There is nothing new under the sun. We Irish have been here before. We wrote the playbook on being conquered and occupied. What we deal with here has been an all but constant presence in Ireland’s history for a millennium.
There are signs concerning this new cultural contagion that have not yet been diagnosed but which remind me of an existing condition, of which our country, Ireland, has had an intense historical experience. When I speak of a contagion, I do not mean Covid-19, nor the virus that allegedly causes it, SARS-CoV-2, but the psychosis it has unleashed upon the world, a psychosis definable as something like a cross between mass hypochondria and Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome. What is happening now ought to be familiar to us, if only via the mystical channels of Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance. We have been here before, had we the capacity to remember or reimagine it. Had we come to know our history truly, something would have been nagging at us for the past 17 months. These symptoms are indicative of a condition that we were unaware of, but which may have persisted for a considerable time — the recent widespread indifference to the loss of freedom observable in, for example, the fervent mask-wearing; the outright irrationality concerning the absence of real evidence; the bizarre public elbow dances; the snitching up of neighbours and so on. All these suggest the presence of pathological antibodies, which distinctly resemble the conditions to be seen in populations historically afflicted by the experience of colonisation as witnessed to and diagnosed by Dr Frantz Fanon.
Indeed, we are fortunate to have two historical guides — one Irish, one other — who have paid attention to the relevant phenomena, one from a global perspective, the other in the instant context of Ireland, its culture, ways and beliefs. The Irishman I have in mind is P. H. Pearse, to whom we shall return in a while; the other is the Caribbean-born psychiatrist Dr Frantz Fanon, the great diagnostician of colonialism, who was born in French colonial Martinique, in the Caribbean archipelago, in 1925. Having spent some time in France, he fetched up in Algeria, where he became intimately and crucially involved in the war of independence of the 1950s. If we wish to understand the nature of colonialism in the world — at the psychological, psychiatric and psychic levels — Fanon is the one man we absolutely need to read. Dead now for six decades, he is perhaps the only man, alive or otherwise, who has shown himself capable of seeing to the heart of the most ominous and perplexing difficulties of the present situation.
In essence, his life’s work as a theoretician and writer might be characterised as the breathing of full life into Hegel’s master-and-slave dialectic, set out in Phenomenology of Spirit. Drawing on his work as a psychiatrist, Fanon constructed a compact but comprehensive body of work based on the idea of colonialism as a source of pathologies that infect history, wounding its human quotient and paralysing their capacity to be human at all. Fanon understood many things that the contemporary political world has seemed determined not to know. In our present situation, perhaps no body of literary work requires more urgently to be read and reread than the handful of books he dictated between patients in his short career, as though produced to give voice to the experiences of slaves but in truth also directed at the good of the former masters, who needed to read them with an equal urgency in order to reclaim their own humanity.
A close reading of Fanon’s work might well be our salvation in this moment — the salvation, paradoxically, of the continents he excoriated, as much as those he urged towards revolution. For, notwithstanding all his vehement denunciations, he was anxious above all to impart truth, to teach about reality, to bring the ‘Europes’ of the world as much as the wretched of the Earth to an understanding of the facts of life. In Fanon’s indictment, there were already two Europes: the eponymous continent and the ‘monster’ that was America. He urged Africa not to become a third Europe, but to birth itself as a different kind of human reality. ‘Let us,’ he declared, summarising his personal mission, ‘try to create the whole man, whom Europe has been incapable of bringing to triumphant birth.’
Fanon belongs centrally to Africa as much as to his native Caribbean, both entities having histories of occupation and slavery followed by half-awakenings and revolutions. But Fanon is also a thinker for the universe eternal, for as long as men seek to exploit and enslave their fellows. The understandings he arrived at were things that had, for the most part, remained inexpressibly in plain sight, mysterious phenomena of human incapacity, lassitude, cruelty and atrophication. Fanon brought the colonial condition to life in words.
It is odd, though perhaps not, that the very essence of what Fanon represented is today barely alluded to in Western discourse. This situation will not have been helped by the fact that there has latterly been a great contamination of his work as a consequence of its appropriation by gender, queer and feminist theory — now instruments in the hands of the would-be neo-colonisers. For if things were as they ought to be — if the young were hearing Fanon’s sulphuric words of pure reason in their proper context; if we were all reading his incendiary pleas for deeper thought about the deepest relations of men, we would surely by now have arrived at a different understanding of our present situation.
If you go online looking for highlighted quotations from Fanon’s greatest work, The Wretched of the Earth, you will find a series of what seem like incitements to bloodshed, together with dislocated urgings that might be clipped from the nondescript notebook of a student of Karl Marx: dropped clichés about the class system or the urgency of redistributing the world’s wealth. As a result, it seems, Fanon is understood — when he is acknowledged at all — as a conventional leftist ideologue, a typical insurrectionist, an advocate of violent revolution, urging his people to see that they have nothing to lose but their chains. But these quotations are no more than nods to the axiomatic, and to a high degree misleading as to Frantz Fanon’s overall thought. His intricate dissections of the nature of colonialism went way beyond the conventional, exposing its subtleties, paradoxes, booby traps, double-binds, all the profound pathologies on which it trades. Fanon saw the roots of racism and slavery as though snaking to the very centre of the Earth. He was no Marxist, other than as dilettante — his occasional invocations of socialist doctrines requiring to be read in the context of a much more elaborate denunciation. His intention was to foment rebellion, yes, but he did it always in a context rich in understanding of the deepest human impulses, be they ever so dark or painful. Reading his great works, it is impossible to sit still, for every sentence is crammed with an energy that is not purely intellectual. His observations are not merely original to him, but comprise some of the most fundamental understandings elaborated from encounters with real subjects — sometimes his patients, twiddling the cords of their dressing gowns; sometimes settlers and torturers seeking to understand their own undertows.
And sometimes it seems that here was a man who did not see the physical world, merely the pathological and the spiritual. Like a Cherokee brave, he could perceive dead things in plain sight, and to his eye, the world as it lay before him, home of masters and slaves, was already decomposing, beset by rigor mortis, doomed — unless we learned to think straight, though sometimes he ran close to running out of unlesses. His time in this world was short — dead at 36 of leukaemia, and at a certain moment: as the 1960s rolled out to provide a rhetorical camouflage of peace and love to conceal the true nature of things.
Fanon was no mere tinkerer with the material or the mental. As far as we know, he was an atheist (he did not speak much about himself) but his project from the beginning was the resuscitation of the human soul, buried deep under the layers of mimicry and self-hatred imposed by the settler tyrant. ‘Let us waste no time in sterile litanies and nauseating mimicry,’ he urged his fellows in Africa, where he spent his sterling years. ‘We must shake off the heavy darkness in which we were plunged, and leave it behind.’ We should absorb these sentences, all of them, no matter what our colour, ideology, present situation. If our situation is poor, we should read them to see what is possible; if our situation is better, we should read them for their cautionary content. For these sentences are about our and our children’s hopes for any kind of life on Planet Earth as we plunge towards the heart of the 21st century.
Fanon constructed a compact but comprehensive body of thought based on the idea of colonialism as a source of pathologies that infect history, wounding its human prey in manifold ways. At the core of his thinking is a hard-centred idea: that man is easily persuaded to take leave of himself, of his nature and personality and culture, and only with extreme difficulty find his way back. This process of dislocation from the truth of the human can occur under the force of the will-to-power, of greed and sadism and inhumanity, or it can occur from the experience of being looked upon or spoken to as though an animal or an object. These two distortions of the human, seemingly pointing in different directions, ultimately lead to the same degradation. They are engaged in a symbiotic dance of hopelessness, even when in apparent discordance they have constructed civilisations that became the greatest conceits of the world.
Colonialism, then, created two kinds of pathology or wound. One is the inflicted wound of those who became persuaded by the indictment of their alleged pre-colonial savagery that they ought to vacate their backward culture and embrace ‘civilization’; the other was the pathology of sadism necessary to inflict this lie and make it stick. As a practitioner, Fanon spoke with equal solicitousness to each, but in his judgements found sympathy for only one: the put-upon wretch with his face beneath the boot of the planter. The two pathologies are interdependent, however, those of the master and the slave, the sadist and the masochist, each depending on the other for its continuance, which in both cases becomes a form of addiction.
The first thing the coloniser did, Frantz Fanon tells us in his greatest work, The Wretched of the Earth, was to ‘plant deep in the mind of the native population the idea that before the advent of colonialism, their history was one which was dominated by barbarism.’ This may be the most important understanding he gives us: that colonisation is something the native ultimately does to himself, having been persuaded of his own inadequacy. For this reason, freedom cannot be regained by negotiation; only by a redemptive act. The violence that is the occupation of lands and minds can be answered only with violence of the heart and hand.
His writing has the suppressed energy of a coiled spring but delivered in the style of a love letter – intimate and raw and burning with knowingness. The Wretched of the Earth is his love letter to Africa and its people, as though to a woman he seeks to convince to leave her violent, exploitative husband and come with him to a future that can be different in ways he cannot particularise but yet can promise of their essence because they – together – will become new actors making their own history. ‘We must leave our dreams and abandon our old beliefs and friendships of the time before life began,’ he writes. He tells her exactly what she has come to; what she has surrendered of herself; what trades-offs she has made, what tricks she has succumbed to. He lays it all bare; then he tells her how to set herself free in such a way as to avoid subsequent complications. She must tear herself away — no mere physical act but a deep sundering of her mind from the hitherto seemingly stronger mind of the other, a reinvention rather than a rediscovery of herself, because her self is no longer a certain thing, having being polluted and infected with alien impulses which now lay claim to being part of who she is. Freedom is action followed hard by an act of the imagination.
In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon writes: ‘It would be easy to prove, or to win the admission, that the black is the equal of the white.’ But his purpose was quite different: ‘What I want to do is help the black man to free himself of the arsenal of complexes that has been developed by the colonial environment.’ Fanon’s remedy was a process of what he called ‘tearing away’ from the influence of the coloniser. By negating the sense of inferiority the native felt about himself and his own culture, he could recreate himself in such a manner as one day to become capable of embracing his erstwhile master as a full human being.
Fanon was aware, having looked into the minds of many of his own people, men and woman equally, that this was not a straightforward matter. The germ of self-doubt had grown in each of those minds to become an almost insurmountable obstacle to action. And the native had an even deeper problem: he was no longer himself; could not find himself; could not know himself other than through the imposed descriptions of the coloniser.
Fanon wrote always as a totally free man. This is what makes his sentences so urgent: that he is not negotiating or pleading for freedom, or seeking to appeal to reason. He is describing understandings that for him are coherent, unsurprising, irrefutable. He is warning about the vengeance of history, of the limits of human tolerance and the consequences to be unleashed when these limits are breached. He writes sentences as though not so much telling but excavating — tapping into some common well of knowledge and experience and drawing its contents out in words that are not necessarily his own. He is a poet, and he knows it. Some of his writings are not like this — in his academic papers and many of his articles, the words sometimes lie heavy on the page — but in his two great books, the words are airborne with feeling and meaning, so that it seems incredible that almost everything he wrote was dictated to others. His sentences can be complex, multi-layered and allusive, but they are always coherent, as though verified with a spirit level. One explanation is that they are not entirely his sentences, but dredged from the collective consciousness of his people: ‘I came into the world imbued with the will to find a meaning in things, my spirit filled with the desire to attain to the source of the world, and then I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects.’
Coming from Ireland, which endured such an experience for many centuries, I have noted in recent months both the intensification here of symptoms of self-abnegation and surrender, and remarked on the extent to which these symptoms are present also in other societies, including the United Kingdom, which came as no small surprise.
What this may be telling us is that the psychic conditions diagnosed by Fanon from his work in Algeria in the late 1950s, may now be present throughout the modern world, for reasons we can only begin to comprehend — that something about the modern world — perhaps globalism, perhaps mass technologization, perhaps saturation propaganda and the resultant entrancement of whole populations — may be engendering something like the same pathologies in conditions that have erupted in the midst of what not long ago was taken for freedom. More immediately, what is happening may be confiding, in pointed fashion, that the subjugating impulse of man is on the march again, and that this time it just might be terminal.
Yet, ‘colonisation’ is a word we may be hearing too much of these days, in all the wrong contexts, with all the wrong resonances — a pretext for unfocussed rage and ideological finger-pointing by new generations of would-be flower children acting as proxies for the New World Order. Indeed, it is as though this is precisely how we are intended to hear it: as something past and gone, something to be indicted in the past, made reparation for — all the better to conceal from us that it is happening again, this time on a total scale.
In his short blog essay of last year, Biosecurity and Politics, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben suggests that ‘so-called “social distancing” will become the model of politics that awaits us’, and summons up a not too distant future process by which worst-scenario ‘health terror’ becomes the instrument of soft tyranny. He cites Patrick Zylberman in 2013 describing what may well have been happening to us in recent months as we sat ‘cocooned’ in our homes, awaiting orders from our governments. It becomes more plausible that what we are experiencing is indeed ‘a new paradigm of governance of men and things’, involving ‘the total organization of the body of citizens to strengthen maximum adherence to institutions of government, producing a sort of superlative good citizenship in which imposed obligations are presented as evidence of altruism and the citizen no longer has a right to health (health safety) but becomes juridically obliged to health (biosecurity).’ Thus, an entire conceptualisation of human rights is flipped as though by a deft conjurer of human reality.
This is accompanied by an unprecedented meddling in the human imagination — by which men, women, children are being taught to look at one another as humans never have within civilisation before, and for good reasons. The blanking out by face masks of the human face and gaze — the ‘window of the soul’ — the transformation of our perceptions of our fellow human entities to the basest animalistic, biological, not to say bacterilogical and virological understandings, opens possibilities for redefining the human that have not occurred in the internally-directed imagination of the West in thousands of years. By these we are nudged towards becoming, in each other’s eyes, humanimals, all in the name of ‘health’. Even the conventional meaning of the word ‘community’ has been corrupted by being subliminally attached to the word ‘infections’.
Whereas, before, ill-health was deemed to be an occasion of sympathy and compassion, it becomes now a matter of suspicion and hostility. I must ’take responsibility’ for my own health not merely by maintaining good habits but by coming to regard myself as, in essence, a biohazard who represents a danger to others, who in turn are to be regarded as representing a danger to me.
Agamben concludes: ‘It is legitimate to ask whether such a society can still be defined as human or whether the loss of sensible relations, of the face, of friendship, of love can be truly compensated for by an abstract and presumably completely fictitious health security.’
In this we see very graphically a context in which the concept ‘the common good’ may be seen as unexceptionable up to a point, and then, abruptly and radically, the antithesis. We can, as acutely, see how the very nature of virtue, of solidarity, even of a version of ‘love’, may be weaponised to enslave not merely the ‘other’ across the water, the border, in some land which democracy never blessed, but also the human person who has been born into the most evocative ideas of freedom the world has ever heard.
For the Irish, the idea of Ireland’s place in the broader world — has historically been ambiguous. This is perhaps mostly because our principal ‘community’ — the relationship with our neighbouring island — was for us also nearly always a tyranny. This ambiguity or ambivalence is epitomised by a phrase in common use in the national conversation of recent years, a phrase which appears to have been lifted from the lexicon of Communitarianism, by which we speak of our ‘shared history’ with Britain — colonialism as cooperation, as though our historical experience of occupation and genocide amounted to a minor misunderstanding, a drunken scrap, a prang at the traffic lights.
Do not fret: I am not going to fly to London on Saturday to tear down the statue of Oliver Cromwell from outside the House of Commons in Westminster. I merely insist on describing truthfully our history — radically marked by the absence of ‘sharing’ — not from an attitude of vengefulness, not in search of retribution, not to seek an impossible ‘justice’, nor even to vent a grievance — but because I want us all, Irish and British, to have good, i.e. well-functioning memories concerning very bad memories, very bad events, especially in the moments and years that lie ahead. I insist on bringing it up because the historical phenomenon of colonialism, in particular its psychic effects on the colonised, and our own direct experiences of these phenomena, may have much to tell us about where the globalist project is taking us now, and what we might to do confront it.
Nations and people colonised by great powers tend to become infantilised and culturally enfeebled. They lose their sense of internal equilibrium, and also the thread of their own true culture. They become imitators — master-imitators — but also demoralised, alienated, emasculated, deracinated, atomised, privatised. They surrender not merely their political independence but also the existential independence of each of their individual members. And the most pathetic thing of all is that, at the end of all this, they remain convinced at the deepest psychic level that their condition and situation are almost entirely their own fault, that the best efforts of their colonisers have failed to rescue them from their unworthiness. There is more than a hint of these tendencies in the recent talk about individual responsibility for health and the insinuation of sickness as a kind of secular original sin. In both instances, our attention is drawn to something fundamental in us, requiring radical reform, something dark and dangerous in our bodies or beings, a kind of inversion of the presumption of innocence concerning what was once regarded as the misfortune or curse of ill-health.
Underpinning the historical mission of colonising the untamed world was an ideology of progress that insisted on there being just one way of advancing into the future, the One Best Way. And this was sustained by the non-disprovable implication (and inference) that the claim might be true, which meant in turn that, despite all external appearances, the intentions, at least, of the colonists were often deemed virtuous, even by their victims. But of course what we survey in such a history is external interference as a programme not of gifting an endowment of civilisation but of imposing the rule of one civilisation upon another, supplanting the other’s culture with your own, subduing human beings for no better reason that they exist to be subdued. Here, in this 2021 moment, power over communications, propaganda, the capacity to impose mass entrancement — mass indoctrination in the form of mass hypnosis — means that the claims of the new occupiers of our hearts and minds may become unassailable also. Unless. Unless what? This is the question.
Covid-19 is an instrument of neo-colonialism, this time of the whole world at the same time. The package, incorporating various forms of camouflaged terror, operates on the global population by the same logic by which famine was applied to Ireland up to the 19th century: as an accelerant on programmes of control deemed to be too slow-moving on their own for maximum effectiveness. Covid may be a subtler instrument, but it has the capacity to subdue human beings by making them feel themselves to be sub-human and unworthy. And let us not naively ‘forget’ that by means of sterilisation programmes imposed by stealth via mandatory vaccinations, not to mention the capacity of these pseudo-vaccines to cause death in the most direct and unexpected fashion, they have the capacity also to radically reduce the population over both the short and the long run.
I came across Fanon about 25 years ago, when an Irish academic mentioned him in an article about Ireland. He used just a few phrases, and his tone was ironic, if not sceptical, as to the plausibility of the comparisons he was essaying. But something in what he touched on struck me as true. I sensed immediately that there might be in this man’s work a treasure trove of understandings about my own country and its history, even though Fanon had never set foot on its soil.
I read The Wretched of the Earth, which describes in such a clear and coherent way the mechanism by which the slave is taught to maintain his own slavery, and how this impacts the culture he breathes in every day. It is a formidable book, written as its author hurtled towards death of leukaemia, a torrent of rage and reason that had burned off of itself every spare and dubious thing.
Ireland was never, technically speaking, a colony of England, but was nevertheless colonised in all the ways Fanon diagnoses and condemns. It was robbed, starved, beaten and tortured; it suffered slaughter and famine. It had its language destroyed, and came close to losing its faith. In many parts of the country, the indigenous culture was all but eradicated by the famines of the 1840s — practically everything but the music, which survived, but patchily.
Our experience exhibit profound similarities with those of many African countries, with one difference: our skins and the colonisers’ were the same colour, making subtly different the nature of the master/slave relationship.
There is, it is true, a difference between persecution and slavery, and Fanon, in speaking of slavery in Africa was treating of a literal fact. In Ireland there was slavery, but for the most part in the sense of a whole people enslaved by another, their lives and loves disregarded in the service of men who believed themselves to exist on a higher level of the human. It was, therefore, as in Africa, an experience of racism.
After independence, a native ascendency assumed the political, cultural, economic and administrative roles of the coloniser. The colonial mentality continued. The Irish mind, though ostensibly freed, repressed those aspects of its culture it had been taught to despise. Thus, the ‘tearing away’ became impossible, for two reasons: We failed to reclaim our own culture completely, and the torch of abusive occupation transferred to domestic entities, the ‘native settlers’ who stepped into the shoes of the departed colonisers.
Fanon tells us: when the coloniser is finally driven out, unless there occurs this cultural process of separation, the liberated nation simply internalises the colonial condition and continues as before but with the outward appearance of independence. To shake off the pathologies requires a knowingness and openness that is unavailable unless the culture first acquires the knowledge and the means to ‘tear away’ from the colonial influence. Failing this, the ‘freed’ natives lack the objectivity to see their situation clearly. This certainly has been the situation in Ireland, where the historical hangover is generally treated as though a minor prang between an ass cart and an English Land Rover at a shorted-out traffic lights: both parties shaking hands and undertaking to do their own repairs. There is, in other words, zero understanding of the possibility that the last 850 years of history may have imposed psychic consequences on the present, which are now being leveraged again in a new process of enslavement.
If you look at the nature of Irish life, politics, economics and culture in independence, you may begin to spot patterns: the rush, having achieved freedom, to enter another dependency by joining what is now the EU; the structure of the ‘Irish’ economy, which lives off the small crumbs of transnational tax-vagrant corporations availing of one of the world’s lowest rates of corporation tax; the disdain that exists in Ireland for our native music and language; the almost hysterical recent attempts to portray Ireland as The Most Liberal Country in the World; the pride taken in the totalitarian empires of Facebook and Google cynically (for tax reasons) having Dublin as their European headquarters; the fake internationalism that overrides Irish nationhood to serve the interests of the globalising elites, and so on and on.
All these are symptoms of the condition diagnosable by the Fanon method: dependency, mimicry, self-hatred, the loud and constant assertion of ‘modern’ impulses when the real issue is an inability to stand for values that are yours uniquely. Some 850 years after the Norman invasion, we continue to insist that we are not barbarous, that we are human. But still we wish, deep in our souls, to be accepted as the equals of our former masters, because only this will render us ‘civilised’.
Fanon came too late for Ireland, though it is doubtful if we would have listened anyway, for the same ideas already existed, half-formed, in our own inheritance, in the work of Pádraig Pearse, the leader of the Easter Rising of April 1916, executed a fortnight later in perhaps the most destructive act even inflicted upon the Irish nation. Pearse, like Fanon, had understood the scale of the cultural construction that must follow a snatched independence, but that knowledge drained away with his lifeblood in the yard of Kilmainham Gaol on May 3rd 1916.
Pearse, like Fanon, was a philosopher and natural poet, who wrote several books of poems, short stories and essays. Colonisation was his great theme too. He spoke of Ireland’s historical servitude, using the word ‘slavery’. For Fanon this was a literal description, for Pearse a quasi-metaphor.
Sometimes it seems that Pearse and Fanon are the same mind, the same man. In a series of essays written just before the 1916 Rising, Pearse outlined in detail the specifications of true freedom, and the process by which it would have to be attained. In The Murder Machine, about the effects of the English education system in Ireland, he outlined the precise nature of the colonial mechanism: ‘Certain of the slaves among us are appointed jailors over the common herd of slaves. And they are trained from their youth for this degrading office. The ordinary slaves are trained for their lowly tasks in dingy places called schools; the buildings in which the higher trained slaves are trained are called colleges and universities.’
It is not such a good idea to read Fanon before reading Pearse, because then you will miss the continuum, the sense of an expanding collective unconscious to which each of these men in his time acquired access. In Pearse, the understandings are relatively inchoate, half-formed; in Fanon they are whole, as though in the decades between the death of Pearse and the emergence of Fanon the earth had breathed out in richer form that which it inhaled as the whispered intuitions of Pearse’s ultimate written thoughts.
In our experience of colonialism and Pearse’s dissections of it, we Irish have been afforded a preview in live conditions of the workings of the world 2021, and may therefore have something to offer by simply recalling our own historical experience. For in a relationship that is capable of being taken as benign, we can observe the ways tyranny operates to avoid as much as possible getting its hands dirty, which is to say bloody. For the most part, however, and ironically, observation of this must in general be conducted by outsiders, since it is another symptom of the colonial experience that its objects are rarely able to recognise the symptoms in themselves.
Ireland, having escaped one nasty experience of ‘community’, began almost immediately — a century ago — to look around for another. In 1973, we found it, joining what was then the European Common Market, which shortly became the European Economic Community.
Once colonised, a people tends to enjoy servitude, and so becomes increasingly easy to enslave again and again. Quantities like self-hatred, alienation, demoralisation, are handed on as though genetically. In the past five decades, Ireland has not limited its self-abnegation to throwing itself at the feet of the European Union — which we did even when that body was openly robbing our resources, autonomy and sovereignty, and pauperising our children’s children with unwarranted debt. The arrangement was, however, so beneficial for those calling themselves our leaders — because all they had to do was to obey their exterior masters, which they were more than happy to do — that, in time, for good measure, these ‘native settlers’ invited in innumerable other entities with similar or other ambitions for appropriating Ireland’s resources, sovereignty and goodwill. This has translated into our becoming, in modern times, a corporatocracy. Remember, too, that Benito Mussolini intriguingly declared corporatism a synonym for fascism.
One of the things that happens when a post-colonial country is subjected to such invasion is that its system of governance ceases to be democratic, in the sense of catering primarily for the needs of citizens. The question of national survival ceases to relate to the people, and becomes solely a matter of survival of the elites.
Among our new masters, then, are elements of Big Pharma, Big Tech, Big Data — but also of course other transnational entities like the UN and the WHO, the World Bank and the IMF. For good measure, we also reached out and offered slices of ourselves to the Climate Change industry, Islamic Sharia, the Chinese Communist Party and, to assist us in quelling any dissent from these relationships, Antifa, BLM, and the like, who stand by to bully into silence anyone seeking to dissent from all this. These relationships are predicated on assisting our ruling class with implementing over the heads of the Irish people the only model of functionality they are capable of operating, and of course at the same time facilitating the asset-stripping of Ireland by the alien parasites and predators who seek to prey upon her. One of the characteristics of the situation I describe — I mean the journey of a post-colonial country from subjugation to superficial freedom and back again, an inevitable trajectory in the absence of a thorough renewal of the national psyche — is that it throws up, in place of leaders, administrative functionaries who carry out the will of external agencies seeking to plunder the resources of the confused and increasingly corrupted post colonial statelet.
Today, what is called the ‘Irish’ economy is no such thing. We live off the crumbs of our cuckoo-in-the-nest economy of transnational tax-avoiding corporations. Our principal industry is fiscal prostitution, or 12.5 per cent corporation tax, our red light to the world.
Post-colonial nations tend towards forms of corruption that benefit external predators. Because the colonial state has been by definition extrinsic, colonised peoples came to see government as an extraneous phenomenon. Since all power previously resided in the metropole, to which all resources were promised and destined, government is seen as something arbitrary and alienating.
The American anthropologist Rebecca Hardin has written about the importance in such societies in Africa of ‘concessions’ — formal legal arrangements by which foreign actors are enabled to manage and exploit land or other natural resources, this being the sole method by which a post-colonial elite can continue to function in conditions where total self-realisation has not been achieved. The inability of the indigenous elite to exploit their own country’s resources directly renders them open to doing deals with outsiders. This creates a false notion of self-sufficiency, when in reality independence is siphoned off in parallel with the resources being plundered. An example is the manner in which Ireland, now apparently one of the leading producers of pharmaceuticals in the world, first attracted this type of industry back in the 1970s: by selling off its then virgin landscape, which the prospective renters were told had an almost unlimited ‘absorption capacity’ to soak up pollution.
The extent of what our political class sells off our country is imaginative indeed; they trade, in effect, the very essence of Ireland: its resources, yes, but also its values, culture, uniqueness, weather, laws, Constitution, natural rights, landscape, particularities, citizens’ rights, citizenship, passports. The stealth insurgency over the past two decades of hundreds of thousands of migrants, many of them masquerading as asylum seekers and refugees, is yet another example of such concession-granting: the transnational tech and chemical corporations, from which the Irish political class obtains its lifeline trickle of financial run-off, need low-cost labour to ensure its business models operate to maximum efficiency. Many of these companies — which were supposed to hire Irish workers — are now overwhelmingly staffed by imported labour.
Take a look at this article from the Irish Independent two years ago:
In his 2019 book on mass migration into Europe, The Scramble for Europe, Stephen Smith described this phenomenon in operation in Africa, but his words are a precise description also of modern Ireland.
‘What is fascinating in this political alchemy is that it transmutes incapacity into profits, or base metal into gold: the less the state can act on its own, the more it has to offer to external partners.’
But the resources we trade are not merely mineral or material: they are also cultural, existential, psychic, metaphysical. When, at the behest of our presumptuous tenants, we hold a referendum to dismantle the institution of marriage in Ireland so that gays can claim ‘equality’, it is because a partnership of Big Tech and Big Gay, acting at the behest of the Combine which desires to see the end of the Irish Constitution, has ordered it so. But each instance of ‘progressiveness’ is invariably a further imposition, calculated to diminish long-standing aspects of the host culture, under the constant threat of revision on account of being ‘outmoded’, ‘backward-looking’, ‘sectarian’, ‘homophobic’, ‘racist’. Soft concepts of conjured ideological realities are employed to conceal that what is being promoted by way of ‘diversity’, ‘community’, ‘inclusivity’ and ‘progress’ is inevitably being promoted at the expense of existing, established and well-cherished values that are downgraded and devalued in inverse proportion to the extent to which the new, ‘positive’ values are valourised. Each step of the way involves a dismantling and discarding of existing structures. What emerges is, always, a form of moral inversion, with the filth rising to the top, and with each step Ireland progresses to the nightmare condition prophesied by Thomas Davis: that of a ‘sand bank’ upon which loyalty-free actors criss-cross in pursuit of meaningless ends. As all these conditions escalated in the Ireland of the past two decades, we Irish were told to shut up and simply ‘enjoy’ that we were now among the Most Liberal Countries in the World.
By the same token, when we declare a Covid lockdown, it is because the Combine, operating through the WHO and Big Pharma, deems this essential to its own future plans. Ireland or its people are no longer entitled to nurture plans.
For the most part, however — and ironically — observation of all this must in general be conducted by outsiders, since it is another symptom of the colonial experience that its objects are rarely able to recognise the symptoms in themselves.
I need hardly spell out that these are ideal conditions for the corporatocracy into which the world is currently being transformed. For what we have been experiencing, especially in the past 17 months, is the introduction by stealth and false-pretences of a new form of colonialism that seeks to commandeer the whole world in one fell swoop and snatch it from under the feet of its inhabitants.
In the modern world, almost all losses of autonomy, sovereignty and liberty arise not from invasion or violent insurgency but from attacks on the very spirit of a people. As a result of the accelerating reach of Big Tech and Big Data, almost everyone, every mind, every heart — everywhere — is occupied now. And this makes the world increasingly amenable to being subjugated, plundered and ethnically cleansed. The world had been but vaguely aware that, the formerly colonised nations had bred acute cultural pathologies — extreme suggestibility, docility, the absence of a collective sense of proprietorship necessary to truly functioning cultures, societies and economies. But these conditions may now be quasi-universal, revealing a world ripe for exploitation by forces moving under cover of soft concepts like ‘caring’, ‘solidarity’, ‘community’ and ‘the common good’. Among the aims of the ‘Covid Project’ is to plunder the creative resources of the human race so that their contents may belong henceforth to the Combine, who would deny their rightful owners a dividend of the shift from industrial society to the era of artificial intelligence. The same moment will initiate the transhumanist phase of human existence, in which humankind will be incorporated into the electro-mechanistic world, the better to track and control every human being, removing man from the realm of freedom, punishment from the realm of justice and law from the realm or democracy.
There is an important coda to be inserted on the history to date of Ireland’s relationship with colonialism and the Third World. The Irish experience of colonialism was not all one way traffic. We have been both hare and hound. Ireland was never an imperial nation but it did play a walk-on role in the colonial adventuring of other nations, supplying the missionaries whom Frantz Fanon encountered in Africa and repeatedly included in his denunciations of colonialism. It may seem implausible that such missionaries may have contributed to the subjugation of peoples, but Fanon would here shake his head sadly before nodding. He believed the missionaries provided the moral alibi for those seeking to plunder and torture.
It is not an entirely implausible idea: that while we Irish may not have mounted our own occupations of the lands and minds of other peoples, we supplied many of the spiritual accomplices to the adventuring of others, providing tyranny with a gracing aspect. For us to say that what they carried with them was the Truth — essentially in the form of the Gospels — is merely, to many African ears, a tautology of the notion of the One Best Way.
And, because we have been both a hare and hound in history, we Irish might readily succumb to either misplaced guilt or misplaced victimhood. Already, we show signs of succumbing to both, but one is as dangerous and futile as the other. Our history provides us with a virtually unique vantage point at this moment, when the initiative to capitalise on the lessons of history reach their culmination in the attempt by the smallest imaginable number of putative humans to colonise the overwhelming majority of the globe’s population by taking advantage of hitherto unnoticed vulnerabilities for an unimaginably short time.
A pronounced warning sign has been the behaviour of the Catholic Church, in Ireland and beyond, which has sought at every turn to ally itself (again?) with the would be neo-colonisers, abandoning their flocks from the outset of the ‘pandemic’ and returning to their posts only to attempt to subject the Catholic faithful to a programme of bullying and moral blackmail designed to force them to accept an experimental gene therapy masquerading as a vaccine, which has at an early stage shown itself to be lethal to many thousands — perhaps even hundreds of thousands — of perfectly healthy people.
At this moment, then, we have the potential to fall again into the mode of victimhood which has enslaved us in the past to two tyrannies, London and Rome. Or, on the other hand, might we rise as one man and, bearing witness to the full truth of our history, be the voice of shouting Stop!?
There are special elements and circumstances in our present situation which both resemble the original patterns of colonialism and also differ from them. The actual coloniser is not physically present this time, is actually invisible, as his will is implemented by local dogsbodies, a combination of state functionaries and politicians whom we elected in the belief that they would represent our interests. The relationships being carefully cultivated between these puppets and the people are essentially abusive but disguised as protectiveness, with the tyrannical aspects rendered ambiguous by what might pass in a bad light for a desire to protect people from their own carelessness or weakness. This tyranny is passed down via a chain of command from the misty cloud-shrouded lair of the Combine, so that, on the ground, we encounter only the domestic flunkies, albeit vested with the total potential powers of the Combine, augmented with the laws and coercive powers of the domestic state. Hence, the police force, An Garda Siochána, the judiciary, the medical authorities, the politicians and health tzars — the ‘Leos’, ‘Tonys’, ‘Simons’ and ‘Micheáls’ — represent that which we require to ‘tear ourselves away’ from, if we are to follow Frantz Fanon’s advice. The first step to becoming free is to repudiate the power, authority and influence of all these entities, together with the power and influence of the media, celebrities and others whose words and actions would serve to keep us in our chains. Having described them as they are, we become free of them, immune to their power and influence.
Our mixed history enables us to stand up in this moment and be the ones to put down the line in the sand, beyond which this tyranny will not be permitted to advance. Our unhappy history provides us with a fund of experience and understanding that has the potential to put shape on what is happening now, to describe it in its granular detail the way Frantz Fanon, after Pearse, described the earlier version of colonialism. This moment, indeed, might comprise the entire meaning of our history, had we but the courage and character to perceive and grasp it.