Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Neo-devism: a Manifesto

I wrote this post a few weeks ago but I'm only publishing it now.

We live at a time when the winds of change seem to be blowing through the political landscape, when the landscape itself seems to be shifting. For my entire life, the main political debate on both sides of the Atlantic was between libertarianism (with some sprinkling of social, religious and cultural conservatism) on the right and liberalism on the left. Individualism was the fundamental dogma of both, and raising the standard of living was the basic goal of both.

Eamon De Valera
Today, that seems to be changing. Tradition, heritage, community and other intangibles seem to be live political issues again. I welcome the new dispensation, while acknowledging the dangers that accompany it in some cases.

This also seems to be an era of manifestos and new -isms, and I would like to add my own new -ism to the brew; Neo-Devism. (So spelt because the eye struggles with Neodevism.)

Neo-devism is a distinctively Irish social and cultural philosophy. "Dev" is, of course, Éamon De Valera, who dominated Irish politics in the twentieth century, and the entire philosophy is based on his much-derided St. Patrick's Day speech of 1943:

The ideal Ireland that we would have, the Ireland that we dreamed of, would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit – a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live. With the tidings that make such an Ireland possible, St. Patrick came to our ancestors fifteen hundred years ago promising happiness here no less than happiness hereafter. It was the pursuit of such an Ireland that later made our country worthy to be called the island of saints and scholars. It was the idea of such an Ireland - happy, vigorous, spiritual - that fired the imagination of our poets; that made successive generations of patriotic men give their lives to win religious and political liberty; and that will urge men in our own and future generations to die, if need be, so that these liberties may be preserved. 

Please note that Neo-Devism does not base itself on the political and social outlook of Eamon De Valera. It simply takes the above text as an inspiration. I might come up with a better name than Neo-Devism, anyway.

I also recognize that Neo-Devism is Cloud Cuckoo Land material at the moment, since Ireland would have to be a robustly Catholic nation again to make it possible. This is, to use the vogue expression, "blue sky thinking".

These are the distinctive features of Neo-Devism:

1) It is entirely democratic in its agenda and methods.
2) It is unabashedly Catholic in spirit, while guaranteeing freedom of religion to all faiths.
3) It is unabashedly Gaelic in its cultural aspect, while respecting a reasonable pluralism.
4) It is firmly traditionalist, while also seeking to foster genuine progress where it is appropriate.

Here are some of its particular elements:

1)  Religion shall be respected and supported by the State. All Catholic holy days of obligation, as well as other important days in the Catholic liturgical calendar, shall be public holidays. Every religious tradition that meets a threshold of adherents in Ireland will have official representation in the Senate and on selected Dáil committees. The state broadcaster will provide religious broadcasting for every faith, proportionate to its number of adherents, to a greatly expanded degree.

2) The protection of human life from conception to natural death will be a national priority, as will be the protection of home and family life. Marriage shall be between one man and one woman. The State will do everything in its power to enable households to flourish on one income.

3) The role of parents in raising and educating their children will be protected as far as possible, with minimal interference by the State.

4) While freedom of speech and assembly will be guaranteed, the State preserves the right to protect public morals and morale from culture, advertising, and entertainment which is indecent, blasphemous, nihilistic, or otherwise injurious. The National Lottery shall be abolished, and commercial gambling shall be prohibited. Local lotteries with prizes capped at reasonable levels shall replace the national lottery. The State shall not patronise avant-garde art of any sort.

5) The office of President shall be abolished and Ireland shall cease to be a republic. A committee shall be established to determine a suitable monarch for the Irish nation, whose descendants or closest relatives will remain the nation's monarchs in perpetuity. The monarchy will be mostly ceremonial in function. The re-introduction of historical earldoms will also be investigated; these will be purely honorary. An honours system to recognise outstanding contributions to national life shall be instigated.

6) Economic freedom shall be protected, but key utilities such as public transport, postal service, electricity, and gas will be fully nationalised.

7) Ireland shall leave the European Union. Neutrality will be more strictly observed. The Irish army's sole purpose shall be the defence of Ireland. Ireland will not join any other supranational organisations, and will take a highly conservative approach to the signing of international treaties and conventions.

8) The centres of all major cities will be fully pedestrianised.

9) The Gaelic Revival will become the official cultural policy of the State, extending to public art, sport, currency, stamps, language, advertising, commerce, architecture, and every other sphere of cultural life. "Gaelic" here is understood as a cultural rather than an ethnic term, and will be considered the common heritage of all the State's residents regardless of ancestry or history. Artistic freedom and cultural pluralism will be respected; the State will seek to promote a Gaelic idiom, which is open to a great degree of creative interpretation, through patronage and promotion rather than prescription, although some prescription may be practiced.

10) The State will make it a fundamental priority to preserve and restore Ireland's natural and cultural heritage; the Irish language, the Gaeltacht, Irish rural life, local tradition, the culture of the Irish Travelling community, Irish wildlife, and so forth. The State shall strive to stop and reverse urban sprawl.


  1. Definitely not society as we have today.
    Without claiming to know much about it- I actually didn't think the Presidency ever served Ireland too badly, although, one or two may have used it in modern times to push their own world-order agenda which is not what it's about.
    I've been reading a December 1929 edition (there were evidently five reprints in as many months) of Hillaire Belloc's Richelieu. I never knew much about the man except as a footnote. What is interesting is that Belloc speaks against nationalism, but obviously a different nationalism to what you're suggesting.
    [ you're probably familiar with it but, he writes about Richelieu putting the interests of France (and his career) before religious identity(he didn't want the French to consider themselves Catholic/Protestant , monarchist/minor nobility-the state comes first). Belloc conjectures that Protestantism may have worn down to irrelevance in Europe had Richelieu put the catholic cause first;but the Hapsburgs sat on most of the European thrones, except France,so...]
    It shows how much had changed, even in the years since it was written. He didn't make suggestion of this being a forerunner out a secular state, perhaps that's more relevant to our own time.

    1. I haven't read that particular book but I read Belloc's views on nationalism in 'Survivals and New Arrivals'. Chesterton also thought that nobody at the time of the Reformation would have expected the religious divide to continue for centuries; the Protestants expected Catholicism to disappear, and vice versa.

      I've thought a lot about the danger of nationalism becoming idolatry. It's definitely there. I do think the Faith always has to have first place, and unambiguously so.

      As for the Presidency, I think it's a bit of a muddle to have a republican substitute for a monarch. Either have a real monarch or nothing!

  2. I wonder is it still available?
    This particular copy belonged to a"Holy Family Academy"in Chicago.
    The book might be considered archaic by some, as he parallels Richelieu's France with the Germany of his time, but most of Belloc's histories can be considered archaic but, paradoxically, relevant at the same time.
    The first paragraph reads "a man surveying Europe today discovers a great anomaly: It is one great culture, yet it is at deadly issue with itself. It is still precariously what, for so long it was triumphantly-the head of the world; yet it has within it the principles of disruption which have already shaken it sorely and may destroy it at last"

    1. Well, Belloc predicted the resurgence of Islam so he deserves kudos for that.

      But I'm not a big fan of his writings, to be honest. I find them very dry and heavy.

  3. I do like his writings, but I've only ever read in small doses, one book every blue moon. Sorry for length of comments (not trying to steal your thunder)

    1. Goodness, no need to apologise. I wish I got more comments.

  4. my wife and I had just been thinking back. about forty years ago she used to perform some domestic duties for a Lady-capital L-in some sort of manor. it was in Phoenix park vicinity. we were trying to figure out how a titled lady came to be in the republic at that time or what was the property's history. Lady was a Roman catholic, we'd see her at mass

    1. I suppose there's nothing to stop anyone using a title if they want to, Republic or no. I guess a Republic simply doesn't award titles. I'd imagine her title derived from the British crown.