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'Restless revolutionaries': "Britain's 'lost' republican history"‏

category international | history and heritage | other press author Monday May 02, 2011 13:52author by Mark Fischer Report this post to the editors

Mark Fischer interviews Clive Bloom on his new book 'Restless revolutionaries'. A book which examines the legacy of Republicanism in British history. Full text at url.

You talk about the history of republicanism’s “crushing failures” in the book. One way that these struggles are crushed, of course, is that the victor writes the histories ...

Exactly. You have to unearth these histories, the documentation. You have to search for the graves where these people are buried - there are no monuments to guide you. More than that, you have to reconstruct the politics of the time to understand these rebellions in their context.

In the case of William Courtney and the 1838 rebellion in Dover, for example, there is a plaque on the church wall commemorating the dead. But why, when this guy turned up preaching as he did, were people prepared to believe it and to die for it? When we understand that, then history comes alive for us and speaks directly to how we live now, the struggles that surround us in today’s world.

Obviously, a discussion of historical republicanism is very relevant to us, given the royal nuptials. Clearly, the monarchy is an institution that ruling elites of various types have found very useful.

Yes. From 1688 and the notion of a constitutional monarchy it was found that keeping the king in place gives them authority. What particularly interest me are the legal and other fictions which keep a society in a certain mode and which act to disperse the revolutionary alternatives to it.

For example, the institution of monarchy itself that - by definition - underpins a notion of subjection. So, from queen Victoria onwards, the monarchy is a bulwark of the modern notion of family. Similarly, the royal wedding of Will and Kate is everyone’s, and princess Diana’s ‘fairytale’ marriage was absolutely ‘universal’ in the reactionary dreams and illusions it appealed to and bolstered.

Conveniently therefore, the fact that the royal family stands for things that can be detached from the state and government facilitates keeping the social fabric intact, especially in times of crisis. It reinforces the notion that history proceeds through dull, incremental change to what already exists, has existed ‘for 1,000 years’ and will stretch into the future.

Related Link: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004373
author by temporary cynicpublication date Mon May 02, 2011 15:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is it only me or are some of the, how would i describe, i suppose non republican left in Ireland only getting their finger out on the whole royal visit thing when their 'leaderships' in Britain say its ok, or put them to shame with their vocal stance They are more concerned not to get tarred with that dastardly irish republican rabble that are against it. I read in one anarchist site that the royal visit and whole monarch question should not be debated on a nationalist argument (obvious) following that it is not between irish people and english people, again fairly obvious, i feel that a lot of them have an idea that there is some disillusioned element in ireland that are against this because its british and they are more concerned to position themselves away from a made up bunch of non existant (obviously right wing reactioary) nationalists who will be opposing this . What 'nationalists' does anyone know of in ireland that has come out against the royal visit and is not from a civic, secular or left perspective. I just wonder really. Any Nationlist sentiment of the irish people that i know that will be protesting will be directed in a civic republican way and will of course pose the historical injustices committed on this geographical space, which is an island, by the elite of England.

author by sambam - none, just winding publication date Mon May 02, 2011 18:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I misquote someone better qualified than I so I don't claim credit for this thought.

"That the most republican act in Irish History was to close the gates of Derry in the face of the English King and shout "no surrender"."

Hopefully this should start some interesting debate ;)

author by pat cpublication date Mon May 02, 2011 19:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The gates of Derry were shut by Presbyterian apprentices in the face of a foreign monarch. Those lads were acting in defence of civil and religious liberties.

Sadly however dissenters like themselves also suffered under the penal laws. This isn't what King Billy wanted, he was always tolerant when it came to religion but its what you get when the King is answerable to parliament. Which was a step forward from King James, the aabsolute monarch.

In this case the parliament was composed of Anglicans who wished to repress all other christian sects. Apart from Scotland where Presbyterianism was the established religion. (It would have been too much hassle to have a war just over religion.)

author by temporary cynicpublication date Mon May 02, 2011 19:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the above book is a great read in regards dissenters , the unitarian church, radical protestants and of course their involvement in the United irishmen. I always find it interesting that protestanism to a degree can be linked to two polar opposites , Webers study of the protestant work ethic and its joint development with capitalism and on the other hand the great inquiring radical doubters who went on to be the founders of republicanism, which of course then came out other progressive traditions. hope im not off topic

author by Laural and Hardy Brigadepublication date Mon May 02, 2011 19:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It always struck me that the Orange Order here revised a lot of this radical tradition from within 'their' community. Can anyone pin point a time and place when they started to love queen and country cos I dont think you would last long on an Apprentice Boys march these days if you started to bad mouth the royals Or was the founding of them a way of diverting protestants away from progressive politics at that time. Its mad that religion is wrapped up in so much of these other power struggles. fookin dividin and conquerin feckers.

author by posterpublication date Mon May 02, 2011 23:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

some one i used to work for had a story that the origins of the 12th of july bonfires was actually republicans celebrating bastiele day and that the orange order similar to christians celebrateing there festivals on pagan festivals and sort of taking over well thats what the orange order did.

never seen that story else where so don't know how true it is but would imagine some sort of process where a new naritive slips in and over time becomes accepted. if the orange order was founded around the time of 1798 act of union suppose it didn't become dominant straight away, would have taken a few years. though seen irish imagrants to new york after the famine where having faction fights on orange and green lines so it would have become a force with in a generation anyway.

suppose the point of an organisation like the orange order is to highlight the differences so suppose they attempted to re evaluate the history straight away.

interesting point about the gates in derry being a republican act never thought about it like that. though in the vain of the previous poster have wondered about republicans ditching there history in terms of the battle of the boyne in that it was a battle against an abosoulte monarch. surly the limited rights of concious of the reformation and those wars where a stage post to the french revolution etc. why they never saw it as part of there tradition. maybe wolftone hope and drennan where trying to expand on or continue the fight for rights at the boyne if so its a part of the republican tradition. suppose republicans look at it from the point of view 'that britain had no right in ireland never had and never can etc' understandabe though they may be looseing something in that thinking.

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