[Marxism] Re: Is the struggle to unify China an expressionof"Great Han chauvinism" today?

James Daly james.irldaly at ntlworld.com
Wed Mar 9 08:15:14 MST 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Edward Crawford" <tcrawford at revhist.datanet.co.uk>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition" 
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2005 6:23 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Re: Is the struggle to unify China an 
expressionof"Great Han chauvinism" today?

I am grateful for Philip's knowledge and scholarship about Quelch.

The disgust at British social chauvinism towards Ireland goes back of 
course before Lenin to Marx.  In Marx's day it took the form of 
insisting that the Irish were part of the British nation, which was 
referred to as England (cf the Queen of England).
One of the forms it takes now is the two nation theory, which goes 
back to the canonical "Whig interpretation" of the historian Macaulay, 
and the editorials of the pre-First World War London Times.  As the 
founders of the Irish Free State said in the Twenties, at first the 
British said there was not a separate nation in Ireland, and when that 
ploy looked like failing they said there were two -- a feckless 
Catholic one congenitally incapable of self-government and a sturdy, 
thrifty Protestant one, eminently capable of self-government.  They 
were represented in the "humorous" journal Punch as the upright, 
Grecian nosed, sober tweed-suited yeoman and the ragged, drunken, 
jigging, clay-pipe-smoking, chimpanzee-faced clown -- who could in the 
twinkling of an eye become sinister and dangerous.
It was in this context that Kipling wrote that "Ulster will fight and 
Ulster will be right", in support of the threatened right-wing British 
coup which was backed by the finance capitalists of the City of 
The strict idea of a second Irish nation has melted away, largely at 
the insistence of the Protestants of the North that they are not Irish 
at all but only British.  In this they are unlike the English, the 
Welsh and the Scottish, who claim to be British but also to be 
English, Welsh or Scottish.  Their 1912 leader Edward Carson, a Dublin 
Protestant who wanted to defeat the movement for Irish home rule 
(which Connolly supported), unproblematically recognised himself -- as 
all Irish republicans also recognised him, and still do -- as an 
Irishman.  But the Orangemen of the North, who claimed, as Connolly 
said, "We hold this country [Ireland] for England", after settling for 
partition, have since behaved more and more like colons.  "Ulster is 
British" is the equivalent of "Algerie Francaise".  Even weather maps 
show the border, and northern ones do not show the weather in the 
south, whereas southern ones wistfully show the weather enjoyed by the 
fellow Irishman in the north.

In a recent e-mail correspondence I wrote:

I think most people adopt the two nations theory to keep the midnight 
police away from their door.  The Whig (e.g. Kautskyan) ideology 
(fatalistic evolutionary progress) makes it easier. As does *identity 
politics*, in which the harshest judgment is "There's bad on both 
sides."  This is the line of least resistance to the bourgeois status 
quo, and hence seductive.
On the part of John De Courcy Ireland [a prominent "Official 
Republican" (Stalinist) "intellectual" who in 1974 went over to the 
two-nation hyper-Stalinist BICO [British and Irish Communist 
Organisation] which later liquidated into the 26 County Labour Party] 
it was pure ascendancy (Brendan Behan's "horse Protestant" as opposed 
to working-class Protestant) arrogance.  De Courcy Ireland was the 
head of the *Royal National* (!) Lifeboat Institution, which did not 
change its British name when it came to organise in Ireland.  There 
were close maritime ties between Britain and the Republic of Ireland, 
in which he was involved.

My correspondent replied:
As for the rest of what you say, I agree totally. The 'pox on both 
houses' approach is not only conservative (as you say), and 
historically/factually wrong, it is an ideological luxury many cannot 
afford. Just thinking about it, I suppose the 2 nations 'theory' 
chimes in pretty well with the 'both
sides are as bad' line. That is to say, for a two nations 'Marxist' 
(or anarchist or whatever) it is quite easy to fulminate against the 
evils of any nationalism (whilst tacitly supporting 'British' 


Edward Crawford-- like Quelch according to him-- "in fact did not 
really commit himself [to a two nation theory], "he just put the 
arguments down!"

Edward also viewed them in a confusing light:

This [the first word of his post! -- but *what*?!] is a more general 
problem [kerfuffle] as it relates to [kerfuffle] the whole question of 
[kerfuffle] self-determination in awkward cases [making a confusion of 
principles and their applications in hard cases -- which notoriously 
make bad laws -- the purported unified topic, a "whole question".]

As Edward also writes:

the criteria Quelch used [in 1912], and many use [in the present??], 
for the right of self-determination seemed to apply to them. that is 
they were a clear majority within a clearly defined contiguous area 
(ulster) [Ulster is nine counties, not six].

[Quelch did not have the benefit which we do of Lenin's later theory 
of the liberation of oppressed nations from imperialism.  Edward also 
seems to accept the empiricist, mechanistic language of Quelch's 
time -- e.g. contiguity.  Hence:]

Of course you can [in the present?] arbitrarily [post-modernism?] 
change the boundaries and say the definition should be the whole 
island of Ireland to which it could be countered that the boundaries 
should be the British Isles where the Irish Catholic nationalists were 
in a minority.
 [Why not *arbitrarily* include France, The Low Countries, Germany...? 

Home Rule = Rome Rule was the *slogan* in 1911 [my emphasis: it would 
not have been the *reality* of a 32 County unpartitioned Ireland] but 
that is clearly not so true today.
 [The 26 counties' reformed sexual legislation is making it worthy of 
joining the six, and of uniting with Ian Paisley to Save Ulster from 
Sodomy and to ban line dancing.]

It is a pity that Quelch's stuff is being put on the Marxism Internet 
Archive.  As Einde said when I protested offline at earlier two nation 
stuff, there is a policy of not editorialising about the contents.  As 
a result, future seekers after marxist enlightenment will find instead 
pro-imperialist arguments.
James Daly

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