September 24, 2014

The vivisected Northern Ireland

Cartoon if Isaiah Berlin
For the committed anti-sectarian and anti-tribalist in Northern Ireland, I give you Isaiah Berlin and his explanation on monism and why the belief in one unalloyed, fixed, unchangeable doctrine leads, inevitability, to the vivisection of society:
"There is little need to stress the fact that monism, and faith in a single criterion, has always proved a source of deep satisfaction both to the intellect and to the emotions… [However] it is bound, provided it is inflexible enough, to encounter some unforeseen and unforeseeable human development, which it will not fit; and will then be used to justify the a priori barbarities of Procrustes - the vivisection of actual human societies into some fixed pattern dictated by our fallible understanding of a largely imaginary past or a wholly imaginary future."
Also read Kenan Malik on multiculturalism here. Newton Emerson on a vivisected Northern Ireland, he said:
"Census figures for the Upper Ormeau Road… is 57% Catholic and 27% Protestant, yet just 36% describe themselves as "Irish", with the remainder evenly split between British and Northern Irish. So what can explain the DUP’s betrayal of an area that epitomises Peter Robinson’s stated vision of a Northern Ireland "at peace with itself" and "for all of us, not them and us".
Cowardice in the face of loyalism must be a partial explanation, and it is quite some cowardice, as the upper Ormeau Road are believed to barely number into double figures. Electoral calculations in Belfast and more widely against the TUV will also be a factor. However, this retreat from its own policy and constitutional objective implies so much short-sightedness, spinelessness and stupidity that there has to be a deeper explanation.
Is the DUP really envisaging a Northern Ireland that depends on Catholic support which would in turn depend on tolerance, neutrality and equality? The fact that the party sees no value whatsoever in protecting places like the upper Ormeau Road suggests its true vision is a retreat into a patchwork of ethnic laagers, with Northern Ireland becoming a Catholic Bosnia overlaid with a Protestant Republika Srpska. What other explanation can there be when ten loyalists with a ladder outweigh the 40% of Catholics in upper Ormeau who, even now, have made their peace with partition. 
What the DUP wants or fears is not necessarily what will come to pass. Council reorganisation still points more to a “Belgium on the Bann” scenario, with an Irish west, a British east and an uneasily shared capital. But that less-than-ideal future is the best we can hope for and every step the DUP takes to the right brings the Balkans closer into view."
Read more about the divided Bosnian city of Sarajevo here:
"Nineteen years after the war ended, Bosnia operates as two "entities", the predominantly Muslim and Croat Federation, and the overwhelmingly Serb-dominated Serb Republic (RS). The highly autonomous RS was recognised by the peace settlement. Many Muslims regard it as the product of ethnic cleansing, while for Serbs its existence is a guarantor of peace."

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