Conor Cruise O’Brien went off the rails towards the end of his career, adopting increasingly bizarre positions on Northern Ireland and uncritically supporting Israel. Few of his admirers followed him in these courses, yet for old times’ sake perhaps, they were reluctant to criticise their leader.
Some people in the 1960s worried about Germans buying up Irish land. In the previous decade, however, an Irish government had set about seriously trying to attract German industry. If the immediate fruits were modest, an organisational model was established for future success.
The Congo Free State, a territory in which Belgium’s King Leopold II ran a hugely murderous regime of exploitation at the turn of the twentieth century, had been called ‘darkest Africa’. On this darkness, not of course innate, the campaigner ED Morel shone a strong light.
Multiculturalism has encouraged a rollback from frank discussion, substituting carefully monitored speech in which the identity of the speaker, not the truth-value of what is said, is paramount: candid observation tends less to stimulate debate than fury and grotesquely exaggerated reaction.
Lovers of the plain, the spare, the rational should perhaps avoid Bruno Schulz, an apparently ‘modest teacher’ from a Polish provincial town in whose stories matter has infinite fecundity and we are invited to feel for a table hammered together from ‘alien races of wood that hate one another’.
The Christian commitment to the core elements of a flourishing society is shared by civic republican philosophy ‑ the secular outlook which ought to underpin and shape the republic which is established in Ireland. It is time for the two to come together to provide an alternative to neo-liberalism.
Tara Westover’s childhood was dominated by her father’s apocalyptic beliefs. She was born at home, and never had a birth certificate. She never went to hospital, or to a dentist, or school. Eventually she escaped, but realised that she knew nothing – or nothing that is true – about the world.
The idea that even if injured we keep going is at the emotional core of Mark Roper’s new collection – a book of poems which is persistent in laying bare both the pain and happiness of being alive, while always looking to the forces of the natural world for guidance.
It is often suggested that humans’ large brains set them definitively apart from other animals. However, the most important factor in the success of Homo sapiens may well have been human culture, the ability to accumulate knowledge and adaptation skills over generations and to cooperate.