Monday, April 30, 2012

From the Blurb of "Prolife?: The Irish Question" by Michael Solomons (1992)

Beginning with intimidation of a pharmacist in the 1930s, the national record is one of persistent, Church-inspired, state interference in the most private areas of personal and family concern, coupled (until quite recently) with a reluctant provision of public health facilities for women...Scandals abound, from statistics of mortality in the late 1930s, through to the 1976 banning of Guide to Family Planning as indecent or obscene, and the rise of Youth Defence, the physical wing of a metaphysical movement. If there is such an entity as "the national psyche", then it's worth asking if obsessive concern to protect the unborn is not, in some unconscious way, a reaction prompted by guilt feelings about recent patriotic slaughter.

I love this kind of "heads I win, tails you lose", join-the-dots logic. You can prove anything using it, or at least you can call on it to buttress any argument. It's the kind of logic that led Christopher Hitchens to argue that Stalin and Mao's massacres were not, as they seem on the face of it, black marks against atheism, but in fact yet another crime to be laid at the feet of religion-- since the Stalinist and Maoist cults of personality were a kind of secular religion, and since Stalin and Lenin were heirs to the power of the Romanovs, who had invoked the divine right.

Or again it is the kind of logic that denounces the Catholic Church as being anti-sex and obsessed by sex at the same time. Or that accuses the Catholicism of preaching docility and resignation when it urges its flock to fix their hopes upon heaven rather than this passing world, but also-- since the charitable works of millions of nuns and priests and lay Catholics are too obvious to simply be ignored-- accuses it of slapping band-aids on capitalist/imperialist/patriarchal society, in order to stave off the Revolution.

I like the idea of a national psyche. But there is so much guff and unverifiable, unfalsifiable nonsense posited about it that-- well, come to think of it, the guff can be quite entertaining, too, in its place. Let's just not take it any more seriously than it deserves. Save it for the pub.

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