Monday, 9 July 2012

In the new spirit of reconciliation and freedom from history ...

... between the English and the Irish ...

... may I make the polite request that those who would have historically considered themselves most ineffably opposed to the English anti-Catholicism with which it unfortunately became mixed up (Sinn Fein voters, Celtic fans - come on, it's not as if anyone else will be able to win the SPL for the foreseeable future) - make a conscious effort to reclaim the tradition of autumn bonfires?  They are, after all, part of their own tradition, part of the Celtic pagan inheritance.  They got mixed up with the Protestant revolution and all the unnecessary hatred and bloodshed, lasting well into my own lifetime, that resulted, and they were (unforgivably, and almost certainly hastening their decline in England) misused by certain Mail or Express-reading types to suggest that all Irish people were potential terrorists.  But that does not change their origins, nor does it change their immense potency and power, their evocation of things beyond normal human understanding, their sense of - ultimately - life and death.

More to the point, it has become necessary to champion them simply as a means of detracting from the imposition of American-led commercialism on the process of the seasons for all of us in both the islands, and of undermining the ludicrous pretence of some in Ireland (who really, really should know better) that a victory for US big business is in some sense a victory for them (when in fact those commercial forces menace the autumn traditions of Ireland just as much as they do those of England, and for very much the same reasons and with - thus far - seemingly as little serious resistance). Autumn bonfires were a means of marking the change of seasons centuries before the Gunpowder Plot.  They can and should be so again.  The divisions and hatreds that have turned families and brothers against each other for centuries - and thus the inability, until now, to create a unified front for all the peoples of the two islands against the forces of exploitation and degradation - have been a significant factor in the forces of global commerce laying waste to the traditions of all parts of the two islands, and exploiting the arguments of the left (which it would not otherwise care about one iota) to present them as "racist" or "backward" (when what it really means is that it cannot make enough money out of them).  Now that those old hatreds are seemingly - finally - dissipating and being recognised as impositions and restrictions which hold us all back in a way that can no longer be afforded, could this also be a moment for the English and the Irish to come together in favour of autumn bonfires, for whichever reason you want them and whoever or whatever you want to commemorate or not, as against the Americanised version of the festival which the Irish and Scots once thought was theirs?  That festival and autumn bonfires share the same origins.  It is time to use the reconciliations of 2011 and 2012 in both parts of Ireland to bring them together again.

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