The Cold War, or at least the First Cold War, is now long over. Curiously, it ended without a war. Afterwards, the US global hegemony that some predicted failed to materialise. As in other areas, victories in history don’t always amount to as much as was expected. Meanwhile the debate seeking a credible explanation for the implosion of the Soviet Union continues.
In 2004 a majority endorsed the removal of the right to citizenship of children born in Ireland to non-Irish parents. Along the way, pregnant women legally seeking asylum were cast as illegal immigrants abusing Irish hospitality. A new book argues that an intersection of racism, sexism, and a ‘heteronormative’ ideology lies behind Irish immigration policy.
Neoconservatives have argued that liberty and democracy tend not to exist in the absence of markets and free enterprise, and that they in turn are dependent on a vigorous middle class. But the middle class has not been, everywhere and in all circumstances, unambiguously wedded to democracy.
At a time when the Bible’s importance is no longer at the centre of secular cultures, it is timely to consider the contribution of the Norton Critical Edition of the King James Bible. Detailed, yet accessible annotations demonstrate its continuing literary and artistic significance.
If Sweden and Ireland are ever compared, it is almost always to the detriment of the latter and many on the left entertain the notion that we would be a lot better off if we could be more like the Nordics. Yet there are curious similarities between the dominant parties that have been in power for most of the modern history of both countries.
Nationalist women in early twentieth century Ireland had a sometimes difficult relationship with the conservative mainstream. Yet while they were often quite bohemian they were alive to the need to build a constituency and, as it were, advance with a Lee-Enfield in one hand and a loaf of soda bread in the other.
Czesław Miłosz lived through a century in which many thought they could take History by the scruff of the neck, for the aggrandisement of their own nation or the betterment of mankind. The notion at one stage half-appealed to Miłosz too, but he was to learn to be less ambitious.
Our acts of remembrance in this decade of commemoration should perhaps include some consideration of the failures of the past as well as its successes, and indeed the failures of the present. And might this not be a good time to have done with militarism once and for all?