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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Right, the Need to Resist

Mick Hall • 12 July 2006

It was only a matter of time before the re-writing of the history of British Imperialism —which is currently so prevalent in the UK media, due to that nations current involvement in the military occupation of parts of Iraq and Afghanistan— would get around to Ireland, and it was always going to be apologists for British involvement in the north east of Ireland such as John Lloyd who would lead the way, as he is a man who has always been ready and willing to excuse the British State almost any obscenity or crime committed in maintenance of their wretched little statelet in the north east of Ireland, whilst being only too keen whenever the opportunity arose to condemn Irish Republicans for asserting their right to take up arms to force the British State to the negotiating table.

When Priyamvada Gopal wrote her timely article in the Guardian, The story peddled by imperial apologists is a poisonous fairy tale, she may have had someone like John Lloyd in mind. What Lloyd and his ilk seem oblivious too is that the English have never had a God given right to rule over other peoples countries. Lloyd's attempt to lessen the negative impact of foreign domination, by trotting out, Monty Python like, a handful of benefits which have flowed in the wake of the Empire builders down the years would be pathetic, if it were not part of a devious scheme to dismiss the massive suffering British Imperialism inflicted on those who suffered under its yoke.

He could just as well have mentioned straight roads on the part of the Roman Empire, or Railways that ran on time in the British Raj, the good it would do him, for such things matter not a jot to those being oppressed. Those who suffer occupation, especially by force of arms, will never welcome their oppressors (bar the odd local satrap on the make), but rage silently against the injustice that has befallen them and, if no political avenues are open to them to oppose this humiliation, then the bravest and boldest amongst them have a perfect right to take up arms to assert their right to national independence and a life free from foreign rule.

Most impartial observers, the more so if their country has experienced foreign invasion and occupation within living memory, understand perfectly those who resist do so from a position of weakness in comparison to their oppressor's military prowess. So they understand clearly that mistakes will be made by Resistance Movements that may have unintended and often tragic consequences; but they also realize that, in the main, the circumstance that lead to such tragedies lays not with those who resist, but their tormentors. Not so the likes of Mr Lloyd, who cries 'a plague on both your houses', having concluded that the violence of the oppressed is equal with, if not worse than, that of their oppressor: never considering the obvious fact that there would be no violence between the two sides if, in the case of Ireland for example, the English had not first invaded and then occupied that land.

Indeed it is difficult not to conclude that in the warped perspective of people like John Lloyd when an occupying army commits crimes in the process of enforcing their will on the local population, it is those suffering under their yoke who are to blame, as they should have known better than to fight militarily against their more powerful tormentors. Is it any wonder those who have, or are currently experiencing occupation, often find common ground, whether it is the Irish, the Palestinians, or the Iraqis? Of course it is no coincidence that so too do those who occupy other people's lands by force of arms, such as the United Kingdom, USA and the State of Israel, for like the forty thieves such governments like to huddle together in morbid self justification.

Lloyd implies patronizingly in a recent Guardian article, that far from being radicalized by personal experience, the young people who joined the Irish Republican Army to fight the Black and Tans in the Irish War of Independence (21st January 1919–11th July 1921) were mere saps, manipulated by Republican Godfathers. To get a better understanding of why generations of young Irish men and women risked all to remove the British army and the State it represented from their shores, it might have enlightened Lloyd if he had asked some of today's middle-aged residents of West Belfast what made them join the Provos back in the 1970s. I guarantee that nine times out of ten they will reply, to hit back at the likes of the Paras who had regularly kicked the shit out of them on their way home from school, work or the dole office. Something similar will also be true of their grandfathers who took part in the Tan War in the post WW1 period, and it will be equally true of the young Palestinians who resist Israeli occupation on the West Bank or those Iraqis who oppose the US monolith in their tortured land.

But the truth is not on Lloyd's agenda nor on that of any of the other pro-imperialist pens for hire, for their task is to muddy the waters so that history is all the easier to distort and mould into a mirror image of today's power elites, so that those who resist occupation and oppression today can be portrayed as mere stooges or unrealistic fools who refuse to recognize the political reality of their situation. Take Lloyd's comment that Irish Republicans back in 1919 demanded of Irish youth the following, "A nation's young men were being encouraged to see their lives as forfeit to the great national cause." Perhaps, although I doubt few Irishmen and women would have seen it that way, not least because every IRA soldier who answered the call to rid their country of foreign domination was a volunteer, free to make their own mind up as to whether they would partake in the struggle for national independence.

Something Lloyd fails to mention, nor did he show an ounce of shame about his failure to add, that only three years previously the British State used this very justification to CONSCRIPT millions of young men into the Charnel House that was the trenches of northern France during WW1, where almost two million of them either perished or were maimed for life. These young Tommys had their lives stolen by the British State in a war that was fought over the spoils of imperialism that benefited the English Establishment alone. The more so after January 1916 when conscription was introduced due to the British army's inability to replace those who had been killed or wounded with volunteers. First it was for single men only, but by May 1916 conscription was made universal, although Ireland was excluded from the scheme and the government pledged not to send teenagers to serve in the front line, a pledge they quickly forgot as a walk through any military cemetery from this period will attest to.

Yet Lloyd feels no need to mention this horrific fact, but is ever ready to condemn Irish Republicans for calling to arms the nation's finest to remove the English yoke which had been about the Irish people's necks for 800 years. A war, incidentally, that cost the lives of 550 members of O'glaigh na hEireann, 650 civilians, 363 RIC and 261 members of the British Army. True, every one was a personal tragedy, and a heartache for someone, but compared with the mass carnage of World War One it was small beer, for in that totally unnecessary slaughter, 1,179,000 young men from the Great Britain and Ireland alone were killed, and approx. Ten Million in the war in total. Plus, it left a bitter legacy that poisoned most of the 20th Century, not least because the political and military leaders of the nations who fought in WW1 sold their sons' lives so cheaply in the fields of Flanders, on Gelibolu Peninsula (Dardanelles) and the burning deserts of the Middle-East.

Today we are going through a historical period without precedent in living memory which is reminiscent of the days prior to World War One. Once again the oppressor is being portrayed as the hero and the oppressed become the villains of the peace, the more so if they refuse to bend the knee to US hegemony. Thus the truth has become a priceless commodity which must be defended at every pass without exception. Those who represent politically the wretched of the earth must not lie, even if it is for political expediency. For if they do, it will return to haunt and harry them as a weapon in their enemies' armory. Those who oppose oppression must do so where-ever we find it, having international solidarity with the down-trodden as our benchmark, and remember the barbarism that cursed the 20th Century did not flow from a backward or third world state, but began "in a country that was the pride of western civilization in the arts, philosophy and sciences; a country that before the hysterical propaganda of WW1 had been regarded as a model of democracy." (Failed States by Noam Chomsky)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Index: Current Articles



19 July 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Dupe Process
Anthony McIntyre

Heatwave Won't Affect Cold Storage
Dr John Coulter

Hanson's Handouts
John Kennedy

Israeli State Terror
Anthony McIntyre

Judgement Day
John Kennedy

Israel, US and the New Orientalism
M. Shahid Alam

The Right, the Need to Resist
Mick Hall

An Invitation to My Neighborhood
Fred A Wilcox

Prison Fast
RPAG

Death Brings Fr Faul
Anthony McIntyre

Risking the Death of Volunteers is Not the IRA Way
Brendan Hughes

Principles and Tactics
Liam O Ruairc

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Preliminary Hearings Cont'd.
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Rupert's Reward
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Rupert's Inconsistencies
Marcella Sands

Blast from the Past
John Kennedy

An Elegant End
Seaghán Ó Murchú

West Belfast - The Past, the Present and the Future
Davy Carlin


9 July 2006

Father Faul Saved Many Lives
Richard O'Rawe

Richard O'Rawe, PSF, and Events in 1981
Gerard Foster

Looking Back on 1981
Anthony McIntyre

Haughey and the National Question
Maria McCann

Brits Not to Blame for Haughey
David Adams

Greenfest
John Kennedy

Euston Manifesto: Yesterday's News
Mick Hall

Considering A Multi-Faceted Approach to the Middle East
Mehdi Mozaffari

Book Better Than Its Title
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Crowning Mr Unionist
Dr John Coulter

Extra Time Will Not Be Decisive
David Adams

'Pretty Much a Busted Flush'
Anthony McIntyre

Orangefest
John Kennedy

Just Books Web-launch
Jason Brannigan

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Omagh, David Rupert, MI5 & FBI Collusion
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Preliminary Hearings
Marcella Sands

Jury Duty Free State
Dolours Price

Even the Obnoxious
Anthony McIntyre

 

 

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