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|
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.