Chesterbelloc versus No Logo

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You know what I miss on the TV these days? Really rigorous intellectual debates. There is a particular one I remember, where Butt-Head, who was obviously a follower of Nietzsche, argued cogently that stuff that sucks is necessary if one is to appreciate stuff that’s cool. (Beavis seemed unconvinced, but then Beavis always struck me as more of a Kierkegaardian.) It is in that spirit that your humble correspondent approaches the regular task of reading the political press. It’s only grinding your teeth through the latest Socialist Worker and snoring through The Socialist that can put you in the right frame of mind to enjoy Gerry McGeough’s monthly organ, The Hibernian (“For Fascism and Our Lady”).

And enjoy it I do. I think it’s a pity that more people on the left don’t read The Hibernian, because in many ways it’s the most compulsive political journal in the country. Lively writing, an eclectic selection of topics and some truly hair-raising opinions combine to make it a real pleasure to read, as long as you don’t take anything in it remotely seriously. It’s like having an Irish equivalent of the Weekly World News. Where else can you read trenchant commentaries on the morality of the nation, tributes to republican martyrs, conspiracy theories and bizarre pseudo-science all between two covers?

To read The Hibernian is to enter into a whole new world of perception, and it’s a treat if you’ve ever read a book on Irish history and been struck by tantalising footnotes about Ailtirí na hAiséirighe or Maria Duce. For the uninitiated, Ailtirí na hAiséirighe (“Architects of the Resurrection”) was a small and eccentric political sect existing in the early 1940s, which mingled Gaelic revivalism with a philosophy of “Christian corporatism” derived from Salazar’s Portugal, and a virulent hostility to the Jewmen and Masons who were doing Ireland down. Maria Duce was a movement that turned up a little while later, campaigning for Jesus Christ to be proclaimed King of Ireland. These groups are remembered today, if at all, for their formative influence on Seán Sabhat, of Wolfe Tones rebel song fame. Most republicans who know of this background are a little embarrassed by it, but not Gerry McGeough, who seems to be single-handedly trying to revive this milieu.

Anyway, on opening this month’s Hibernian magazine you will first be confronted with Gerry’s editorial, which berates the debauched Southern electorate for failing to support the Christian Solidarity Party, and gives a plug to the magazine’s National Rosary Crusade. But this is all par for the course. What I’m interested in is the big article at the back critiquing Naomi Klein’s No Logo. Well, nobody ever said The Hibernian was first with the news.

Right, so we start with the proposition that lots of idealistic young people are alienated by the effects of globalisation. I don’t share the premise that globalisation, and in particular the satanic European Union, are part of a nefarious conspiracy by the Illuminati, but let’s leave that aside. Our author is worried that alienated young people will be seduced by the arguments of No Logo. However, Klein provides a false alternative in that she merely operates as a cuddly and unthreatening front for godless communism, which itself is just another manifestation of the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy. By heck, these Illuminati are clever chaps.

But there is a real alternative on offer! So what contemporary thinker sets out this alternative? Er, GK Chesterton. Now this I find rather puzzling. Not puzzling because Chesterton and Belloc’s Distributism is one of those intellectual fads, like Guild Socialism, that one might have expected to have died out about a century ago. The Hibernian has never been shy in promoting unfashionable ideas. What puzzles me is that Chesterton and Belloc were so quintessentially Sasanach – if they hadn’t existed then Somerset Maugham would have surely invented them – that they sit a little uneasily amongst the Irish Irelandism of The Hibernian.

Trouble is, I suppose, that Irish social thinkers are exceedingly thin on the ground, even in the specialised terrain of Catholic corporatism. I know Gerry has been banging the drum for the socio-political philosophy of Fr Denis Fahey, but then Fr Fahey is a bit esoteric if you want to try and derive a programme from him. Chesterbelloc, on the other hand, have the great advantage of Anglo-Saxon practicality. But still – Chesterton?! The mind boggles. Come on Gerry, let’s have some really interesting thinkers brought into your illustrious pages. I’d love to see how d’Annunzio speaks to the needs of modern Ireland. And, if I may put in another request, some in-depth coverage of the Bilderberg conference.

7 Comments

  1. ejh said,

    June 13, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Where else can you read trenchant commentaries on the morality of the nation, tributes to republican martyrs, conspiracy theories and bizarre pseudo-science all between two covers?

    I assume that last bit was put in to forestall the answer “on the internet”?

  2. Idris of Dungiven said,

    June 13, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Hibernian is still coming out then? Who buys it? Arguably, one of the mysteries of Irish politics is the failure of a hardcore semi-fascist Catholic right party to take off. Or perhaps those who argue that are merely doing the kind of misreading of the position of religion in Irish life that you were talking about in ‘Notes from the Grimpen Mire Part 3’.

    Oh and speaking of the publications of weird cults, I once saw the Falun Gong paper on sale in a newsagent in Castlebar.

  3. splinteredsunrise said,

    June 13, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    It is deeply weird. And one of the weirdest things is that every so often you get these little semi-fascist Catholic movements popping up with no encouragement at all from the institutional Church. In fact you read Hibernian and see the bishops getting blasted all over the place for not being mad reactionaries of the Hibernian type.

  4. Idris of Dungiven said,

    June 13, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Splintered, do you remember that non-party far left Irish paper Z that came out for a couple of issues in (I think) the mid-80s. It was excruciatingly bad, and folded after two or three issues. Why hasn’t Hibernian folded? Is it being subbed by the Dark Forces, or something, do you think?

  5. splinteredsunrise said,

    June 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    That’s going back a while… Hibernian obviously has a bit of money behind it, even on cheap paper. Where that money comes from, I have no idea. For all I know, somebody’s Lotto may have come up.

  6. Bill said,

    October 12, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Maybe people buy it?

  7. Craig said,

    May 27, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I’m a bit late entering this debate, but Chesterton wrote a book on Ireland and his visits there, so he isn’t a totally unrelated “sassanach”. Distributism and what people are deriding as the “semi-fascist” Hibernian (which admittedly is a pretty weird publication) are no more esoteric than parties like the Socialist Workers and their ilk. But far-left esoterism is so much more trendy, isn’t it.


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