The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

I Don't Get Angry Anymore

Anthony McIntyre • Fortnight, April 2003

George Orwell was seldom short of something to say on most matters. His discourse would come to be incessantly plundered by a posterity hunting pearls of seemingly universal wisdom. When Gerry Kelly first introduced me to Orwell’s work in the cages of Long Kesh in 1978 I found a lifelong friend - George, not Gerry. Along with the intro came a recommendation that I should approach Orwell as a means to understand all political leaderships, which if not challenged and held to account will screw their rank and file. Since then I have constantly revisited writings like 1984 or Collected Essays for purposes of reflection. I have never felt disappointed.

Five years ago as we watched the Stormont political class chatter, waffle and disempower us behind our backs I was ineluctably drawn to the closing words of Animal Farm where the author described the beasts standing outside the Manor in which the real decisions were being made. Gazing ruefully from man to pig they could no longer discern which was which. Observing what for the most part were the same old faces up at Hillsborough today trying to burrow their snouts even deeper into the gravy train I sought refuge in Orwell once more who in a review of a book by Professor F.A. Hayek offered the following insight:

Socialism necessarily gives power to an inner ring of bureaucrats, who in almost every case will be men who want power for its own sake and will stick at nothing in order to retain it.

If he had substituted for ‘socialism’ the word ‘republicanism’, the reading eye would not have broken its stride, the text apparently seamless. Throughout my years in prison, one of our nightmare scenarios was of the British being able to secure precisely what republican leaders are seeking to achieve today. So anathema was it that one had to enter a state of intellectual Hades to even entertain the notion - the stuff of nightmares not revolution: a partitionist terminus where our leaders would gleefully disembark from anything remotely radical, surrender and then celebrate being allowed to administer British rule as part of a new internal solution. In the H-Blocks, we were much too close to the sacrifices of the hunger strikers to be able to swallow ignominy like that over tables with our new buddies - the Brits, and their old buddies - the unionists. For years we refused to wear any clothing that the establishment sought to sew us into. The merest hint of a suggestion that the uniform of the establishment would come to fit our leaders like a glove was treasonable.

But as it turned out Christopher Hitchens, the author of a recent work on Orwell, could have easily been writing about our leaders when he aimed his pen in the direction of other former radicals:

They’re just another self-interested faction with an attitude toward government and a hope that it can get some of its people in there. That makes it the same as everyone else - only slightly more hypocritical and slightly more self-righteous.

Still, it is hard to get too worked up about the shenanigans at Hillsborough. For years Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern have played handmaiden to the collective vanity of all our politicians. For half a decade we have witnessed ultimate deadline by endless postponement, a sure incentive for our political class to carry on grooming and preening itself in front of the cameras, making ever more meaningful Emily O’Reilly’s barb that the only thing that will normally come between a politician and media exposure is ‘sudden death'. For five full years they have foraged in and drained the public purse as they have led us down linguistic mazes only to come back to the very same point, the same issue, the same allegation and accusatory tone. The affected horror at the other camp having supposedly reneged on this or that meaningless political point has induced in us the affliction of a permanent yawn. In their uncurbed vanity they have sought to persuade us that each new crisis was the greatest yet to face humanity; they have tried to stupefy us into thinking that Stalingrad, Rwanda or El Salvador were mere historical footnotes compared with our global shaking conflict.

I don’t get angry about it anymore. It no longer has the same meaning for me. Not being part of a struggle long since concluded is nothing to despair over. Our leadership waged a successful war against the physical force tradition and will soon secure the dissolution of the IRA and the reform of the RUC. Evidence that Orwell still matters. But If one death or one day in prison was all that was required to change it and put us back on the right track, I would feel it was a death and a day too many. What is done is done. The dusting alone remains. But there is no reason to celebrate defeat.


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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

21 February 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Easter Message: "A lick of the Oglaigh Stick"
Jimmy Sands


Why do we Commemorate 1916?
Liam O Ruairc


I Don't Get Angry Anymore
Anthony McIntyre


Imperialism It Is
Davy Carlin


Dispose of "Killer Peaceniks" and Distribute Space-Age Prosthetics to the Rest?

Karen Lyden Cox


19 April 2003


Rivers Change Their Course Sometimes but Always Reach the Sea

Anthony McIntyre


The Raytheon File: The Campaign against Raytheon in Derry
Liz Curtis


Republicans' Big Risk Redux: Walker Stumbles Too

Paul Fitzsimmons


A Tribute to Andy Barr
Joe Bowers


Rejecting Stereotypes
Liam O Ruairc


The Daily Uprising
Seaghan O Murchu




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