Flocking to Success – Immigration

For me, this essay brings up an enduring question throughout much of history: “What to do with immigrants or newcomers?” It also leads to the follow up question: “Who should be doing these actions?” The fact is that when a country starts becoming successful, like Germany in the late twentieth century and like the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, people will flock to that nation. For them, it represents the possibility of opportunity or escape from a potentially bad homeland (refugee). The same thing will happen domestically: if a city starts to boom, and create more job opportunity, people will generally flock to that city. According to this article, Germany is having to face these questions now. As the nation furthers itself as an economic powerhouse, more will want to join in on the bandwagon. In some cases, a newly booming economy needs this flocking in order to keep the momentum going. Germany is not too far from Eastern Europe, and therefore, a large percentage of mixed ethnic populations. For a nation with such a troubled racial past, it can be challenging for them to determine what to do. In the not too distant future, leaders in Germany will have to decide whether they want to assimilate immigrants, allow immigrants to stay but retain their culture, or simply disallow immigration into Germany. The difficult thing is, all answers to the question have their merits; it’s a moral dilemma.

It was a problem for nineteenth-century U.S., and now it is a problem for Germany. Are there any other parts in history that may experience this problem? Perhaps Irish immigration into Britain? Or perhaps North African immigration into Spain?

The Proclamation of the Irish Republic

Authors: The Proclamation was written by 7 men: Thomas J. Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada,Thomas MacDonagh, P. H. Pearse, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett.  Thomas Clarke, the most influential of the 7, was a extreme revolutionary, borderline terrorist.

Context:  Written in 1916, in the middle of World War I, the Irish rose up in the Easter Rising.  In which, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a devout faction to Irish Independence.

Language:  The document uses simple diction, as it was to be read to the masses.  It also has a militaristic tone, due to the fact that the uprising was violent.

Audience:  This was written to the people of Ireland as a persuasive piece to join their cause for an independent Ireland, separate from the United Kingdom.

Intent: The Proclamation of the Irish Republic was written in order to evoke nationalism within the populous, and to encourage others to rise up with the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Message:  The Proclamation established a number of new orders that are to be brought out once the nation is independent including universal suffrage, equal rights to men and women, and that the government is to be a republic.

The Proclamation of the Irish Republic

Author(s): Irish Citizen Army, Thomas J. Clarke, Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, P. H. Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett. Thomas J. Clarke was most responsible for the rising and the writing of the document. All seven signatories of the proclamation were later executed by the British military for treason in wartime (World War I).
Context: 1916, World War I. Members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood organized an insurrection in the spring of 1916, while Britain was involved in the war in Europe. Ireland was still controlled by Britain, and was far outmatched by the British military. The resulting conflict lasted just six days, before the leaders of the insurrection agreed to an unconditional surrender.
Language: The language of this proclamation is defiant and confident. It is not difficult to read, and is fairly straightforward.
Audience: The Irish people as well as the British government and royalty.
Intent: To declare independence from England and to emphasize the will of the Irish people to continue to seek sovereignty and independence. “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of the Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”
Message: The authors and signatories of this proclamation aimed to inform the British government and the Crown that Ireland would be independent and sovereign, and they would continue to seek independence until it was achieved. The only way to stop the Irish people from seeking independence was to stop the Irish people from existing altogether. This proclamation is also a call to arms for the Irish people; it claims the allegiance of every Irishman and woman, and calls the children of Ireland “to sacrifice themselves for the common good.”

The Menace From Within and the Art of Obfuscation

I found the Madness from Within deeply misleading. The documentary begins with the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which ended the Irish War of Independence, created the Irish Free State, and gave Northern Ireland the permission to remain under British rule. At first, this may seem reasonable, considering the high concentration of Ulster Unionist Protestants in Northeastern Ireland. We must consider this event’s relation to the spirit of the times, reflected by the redistribution of territory halfway around the globe, in the Balkans and the Middle East.

As we saw in Mazower, the aftermath of the First World War saw the creation of numerous artificial borders and states. The League of Nations did not exist solely to prevent the resurgence of widespread armed conflict; it also served the interests of the former Allied powers, notably England and France, who, believing themselves to have “won” the First World War, wished to dictate the conditions of the world’s newfound peace. This process would form the basis of the modern Middle East, which continues to wrestle with the consequences of the Ottoman Empire’s fragmentation. The French began by dividing Syria into smaller parts. These included modern-day Lebanon, Alexandretta, Alawi states in the north, and some Druze states in the south, while Damascus and Aleppo acquired the status of city-states.[1] Lebanon’s Christian majority, who insisted on remaining independent from the rest of Syria, facilitated France’s endeavor. Meanwhile, a seemingly constant stream of Arab nationalist revolt plagued the rest of French Syria.

The British adopted a much more favorable, if inconsistent, stance in regards to Arab nationalism.  At first, they allied themselves with the Hashemite family of Jordan –then headed by Hussein bin Ali- who ruled over the independent Hejaz region. However, when bin Ali claimed to be the caliph of Islam, the British Foreign Office felt threatened and allowed the Saudis to take over the Hijaz in 1924.[2]  When British Iraq needed to contend with an Arab insurrection in 1920, they installed Faisal I in power to restore order.[3]

As I noted earlier, the creation of a British-ruled Northern Ireland might appear quite reasonable, considering its high proportion of Protestants. However, we must not forget the many Catholic inhabitants of Northern Ireland or the desire of imperial powers like Britain to maintain control of their subjects, even if that meant redrawing borders and playing religions and ethnicities against one another. To deny the Catholics the right to their own nation for the sake of a regional Protestant majority that remained a national minority constitutes an act of imperialistic aggression. Of course, one can argue that the Northern Irish Parliament voted on the issue. Yet, I find this argument unconvincing. Page 8 of David MccKitrick and David McVea’s book, Making Sense of the Troubles reveals the extent of the Unionist assault on Northern Irish democracy:

“In 1922 the voting system known as proportional representation was abolished. Its removal was by no means simply a technical adjustment, since it had been built in both as an actual safeguard for Catholic and Protestant minorities in the two parts of Ireland and also as a symbol of respect for their views. The first past-the-post system introduced in its place, together with the highly partisan redrawing of local government boundaries, was of huge benefit to the Unionist Party. As a result of the changes, nationalists lost their majorities in thirteen of twenty-four councils they originally controlled.”

To ignore this information and act as if no manipulation on the part of Northern Irish Protestants and British Loyalists influenced the separation of Northern Ireland from the Free State constitutes the height of intellectual dishonesty. We should also ask ourselves if the establishment of a separate Northern Ireland, like France’s partition of Syria, ostensibly for the sake of Lebanese Christians, might not represent a British effort to prolong strife in Ireland by partitioning it, thereby undermining any hope for a completely unified Ireland and  giving them an additional reason to station troops and bases on the island. The documentary fails to consider this plausible explanation, painting those who continued fighting for total Irish independence as “impractical”.


[1] Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. A Concise History of the Middle East. (Westview Press: Boulder CO, 2002), 207.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Cultural Sustainability

My favorite definition of sustainability that I found was from the Free Dictionary.  Sustainability was defined as “to keep in existence, maintain.”  This definition was my favorite because it was the most inclusive one I could find.  Many other definitions spoke specifically about the environment.  While sustainability is most commonly used in reference to the environment and a “green” lifestyle, it can also be used in an economic or cultural sense as well.  I will be focusing on the cultural definition of sustainability.

In terms of culture, sustainability refers to maintaining certain cultural markers, such as language, traditions, ancestry, and religion.  Some of these can be very positive, such as keeping a language alive, or participating in a family ritual.  A negative example would be forbidding intermarriage as a way to continue “racial purity.”

Since the English began to rule Ireland, the Irish Gaelic language has been in steady decline.  Even in the Victorian Era, James Joyce wrote about university students enrolling in Irish classes to keep the language alive (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). Today, according to a census reported in The Guardian, about 25% of the Irish population speaks Irish, which is odd, considering it is officially the country’s first language.  While some of the Irish refuse to speak a language other than English, in Irish speaking parts of Ireland, Irish Gaelic is taught in schools.  According to the Irish Central website, the number of Irish speakers is on the rise.  This is due to people wanting to preserve this language, an example of cultural sustainability.  Just as we try to conserve natural resources, Irish speakers are trying to conserve their language.  

The other example of cultural sustainability I will use is quite different.  This is because it is a movement to revive something that has been arguably gone for thousands of years.  The pagan revivalist movement is a movement dating back to the 1950s, that is attempting to revive the various world pagan religions that disappeared after the rise of Christianity.  Religions such as Druidry, the ancient religion of the Celts, or Greco-Roman beliefs are being followed by some people in modern society, particularly in the UK and US.  Some people are trying to revive these old religions because they identify with the culture that used to practice them.  For example, a German or German-American may worship the old Germanic or Viking gods.  Others just find a spiritual truth in these ancient practices.    While this example is not the most well-known, I find it extremely interesting, because it is a movement to resurrect a religion believed to be extinct.   Which brings up a question:  Does sustainability encompass not just keeping in existence, but bringing back to existence?

So, while one can maintain resources and economic structure, one can also maintain languages and religions.