The Blanket

Stalinville and Gratitude

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium
of expression for the world view and mental habits of Ingsoc (English Socialism), but to make all other modes of thought impossible. - George Orwell ("Newspeak," an addendum to 1984)

Seoirse McLaughlin • 7 June 2003


Be grateful, friend. "Stalinville" is, by far, the best thing you have ever written. So be grateful. You are beginning to sound like a republican Jonathan Swift, and that's good. You are pulling out all that buried language in metaphors and similes and analogies, filled with satirical litanies and ladders of adjectives and adverbs that years in her majesty's prisons and university have formed in you. Be grateful to her highness for giving you such a deep education that until recently you could not fathom its poetic intensity. But you must remember to also be grateful to the lieutenant of Animal Farm whose seemingly ambiguous tirade brought you to the apex of your expression.

And what better topic could it be? The thought police are always conscious of enforcing unconsciousness,. No matter what its form, they will be liberal about it. No matter what its irrational nature, they will honor it. Rarely do they try to inspire us out of what they hope to be an endless sleep. And so it was that this lieutenant put his foot (or hoof) too far into the pen. A major mistake, but the complexity of cause and effect may be beyond his personal pale, without the sufficient training at the Ourselves Will Never Be Alone headquarters.

I remember a similar encounter with this esteemed city councillor at the height of the hunger strike 22 years ago. In my role as chairman of the New York H-Block/Armagh Committee, I had brought Ramsey Clark (former attorney general of the US) and Father Dan Berrigan to the north to try to put pressure on the English government. Both men spoke at a rally in Belfast as I stood waiting my turn. When I reached for the microphone, the same lieutenant who confronted you on the Andersontown Road pulled it from my hands and barked at me, "You'll never speak here." I suppose I had indicated too many times to too many of the thought police along the way that I believed that all animals are equal, but some of them were not more equal. It hurt me, but it taught me too, and it gave me a new voice with words that gobbled out of me with a mysterious resonance and novelty. I am grateful for that.

And so, friend, be grateful that the chance meeting on the Andytown Road took place. It has found a new voice in you and we are listening to it more than ever.


Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives





Letters of interest to local and international media, as well as letters sent to the webmaster of The Blanket will be posted here.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
- Hubert H. Humphrey





The Blanket



Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices

To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to: