Malachi O’Doherty: UK and Ireland are so alike that a unity poll would be pointless
When the British divided India, they hoped to leave behind two new nations largely inspired by the British way of doing things. The two countries were divided for sectarian reasons, so there was appalling violence at first, but the intention among political classes in India and Pakistan was for them to develop into democratic and secular nations with modeled parliamentary systems. on Westminster.
their chief heirs had been educated in England. They wouldn’t be monarchies, of course, but neither would Britain, really.
Ireland asserted its independence from Great Britain with the dream of being different. Like India, it had developed a British-style civil service and formed a British-style parliament, but the founding myth of the new state was that it was Catholic and Gaelic and clearly non-British.
De Valera, like Pearse, was wary of modern industrialization and somewhat resembled Mahatma Gandhi, who envisioned a self-sufficient, if not agricultural, India eschewing modern medicine. Gandhi would have been an anti-vaxxer.
India has gone against Gandhi’s vision and Ireland, over time, has gone against de Valera’s.
India and Pakistan have been separated from each other for 75 years. Chronologically, they are as far from the score as we were in 1996.
India, which began with the intention of being democratic and secular, has become staunchly Hindu and sectarian. Pakistan is Islamic. Both parts of the home country are nuclear powers, often on the brink of war.
Ireland has moved the other way, to be more like Britain, and was on track in the 1990s to shed its old chauvinism.
There was a time in the 1960s when the liberalization of British social legislation seemed to make Ireland and Britain very different in core values, but Ireland now has the same or similar laws, making contraception easier. , divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage.
The old chauvinisms of Gaelic / Catholic republicanism and Protestant unionism are the local cultures that differentiate us, but they are in decline on both sides of the border.
The Sinn Fein movement traces its lineage through Pearse to the Fenian movement, but he would be embarrassed to have him as a member now. He would be more comfortable in Aontu.
Paisley, as he was in the 1970s and 1980s, would be an embarrassment similar to the modern DUP, as the DUP itself is an embarrassment to many – perhaps most – who appreciate the Union.
This is particularly a problem for the DUP, which must choose between party growth and preservation of the potentially conflicting Union.
But it is also a potential problem for Sinn Fein, which must argue before the Irish electorate on social issues, rather than end partition, the aspiration that justifies its existence and its bloody past.
I wonder what voters there think about the party’s commitment to an Irish language law when the experiment of restoring Irish as a mother tongue has failed so painfully.
Of course, there are differences between modern Ireland and Great Britain. The accents are different, as they are different in the Irish and UK regions.
There are still the remnants of a smug class system in England that throws morons like Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
We, as Irish, can be convinced that we would rather not be ruled by England in a Union, because part of the Union, England, is larger than us and will ultimately decide the big questions for us.
But such problems could, in a parallel universe, have been solved by devolution of regional power, or Home Rule, as it was called in the 19th century. Yorkshire, Lancashire and Scotland feel pretty much the same as we do about southern England.
Even when Scotland contemplates independence, it does not talk about preserving cultural distinction or designing a separate system of government.
It’s really about getting rid of Eton. It is not so much the desire to build a nation as it is to manage a jurisdiction and its economy.
One big difference is that Ireland is whiter. It hasn’t absorbed so many migrants from the former British colonies, but no Republican would stand up today to say that preserving a white Ireland is desirable.
Migration to Ireland does not bring the embarrassing reminder of colonial atrocities and failures, but perhaps it should since we have provided so many infantry and even senior colonial administrators.
If, after the departure of the colonial rulers, countries evolve to become more themselves and do things their own way, then India and Pakistan have become more traditionally Islamic and Hindu and Ireland has lost much of it. its distinction from Great Britain.
So what was Irish independence for? What is the Union for? Unionism, in seeking to be distinctly Irish, succeeds in being non-British at the same time, because Ireland and Britain are now so culturally similar.
The reunification of India and Pakistan has become unthinkable as the countries drift further apart culturally, as the two parts of Ireland gradually resemble each other.
There is no longer any argument that they need separate jurisdictions for the preservation of distinct cultures.
On the flip side, perhaps their best argument for Union is that uniting Ireland would make so little difference – culturally, that is to say – that it is of no use. to worry about it.
What if we hadn’t had a war for independence a hundred years ago. Would we have one now?