Sunday 26 February 2017

Kevin Myers: Communal self-harm is a regular practice in Irish life and falls into predictable cycles

Kevin Myers

YESTERDAY, I was writing about the lethal dangers of irrational pessimism. Today's offering is an attempt to show how our recent self-inflicted woes are not in themselves unprecedented. Indeed, communal self-harm is and has been a regular practice in Irish life and almost falls into predictable cycles.

Central to these destructive cycles is a reverence for heroes who have embodied the principles of social self-harm. The archetype of these is Wolfe Tone, who far from uniting all Irishmen, set Irishman against one another in bloody warfare and ended his great political ambitions with a botched suicide.

Those who make Wolfe Tone the template for a national hero seek neither success, nor intellectual consistency. Which is probably why he is revered by the parties who have repeatedly visited ruin upon this county: the extended Fenian constituency of Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein. Yes, I have said this kind of thing before: but I am not making an anti-nationalist harangue here. I am talking about cycles of destructiveness that are perpetuated, either consciously or sub-consciously. While we remain in ignorance of their power, they are certain to return.

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