Monday, January 13, 2014

Too Much Haassle

Maybe we need to look to the Middle East to understand what's going on up North, now that Richard Haass has gone home. David Goldman has a Spenglerian view of identity-driven conflicts:
The idea that everyone's problems can be solved by rational means is the dominant ideology of liberalism... My argument is that you cannot solve the problems of most people because most people don't want their problems solved. They'll cling to their prejudices, their ethnicity, their ideology, and eventually disappear. And the norm for peoples is to disappear. And most peoples disappear because they lose the will to live. That is typical of history. To survive is atypical. In my book I attempted to call attention to the facts that most peoples die because they lose the will to live; not because Emanuel Kant or some other genius did not come up with a solution to their problems. But this is antithetical to liberalism.
As Sinéad O'Shea put it:
It is hard for unionists not to conceive of this as a loss in a zero sum game, especially for the working class Protestants centred in areas such as east Belfast. They are also keenly aware of the demographic change eroding their majority. They feel as if they are in decline. In many ways they are. 
It is impossible to underestimate the psychological effect of lost power, the sense of lost prestige. It has made the tradition of conducting militaristic marches through Catholic areas and the right to fly the Union Jack on a daily basis all the more integral to the unionist sense of self.
Unionism for too long was defined by what it was not (not Irish, not Catholic, not Republican), and they've probably left it too late to forge a more positive identity - one that'll keep the flag protesters on board anyway.

Still, it could be worse. At least we don't have Goldman's worries about a hostile near-neighbour getting hold of the bomb...

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