There is a great history timeline on BBC History site. It is well worth visiting and spending some time on. The internal links are excellent and the extra material is smashing!
Coming Anarchy has a fascinating post about the strange borders that make up the modern Malaysia. The comments offer some interesting bits too.
Whereas my last post on Irish history discussed the 90th Anniversary of the first Dáil, and the post previous to that talked about WT Cosgrave, this post deals with a man whose life and views impacted both the career of Cosgrave and the very formation of the Dáil; Arthur Griffith.
In many ways Griffith’s ideas about how freedom might be best achieved for Ireland had a subtle and under-appreciated impact on Irish affairs.
His promotion of passive resistance and the non-recognition* of British imperial instruments while not directly responsible for it, was a powerful force in shaping the policies that led to the first Dáil, solidifying the democratic mandate of the independence movement and creating a moral legitimacy that became difficult to overcome and which was important in swaying public opinion both domestically and internationally.
By creating that legitimacy (which worked on both national electorate and international opinion levels) the Dáil was better placed to act as a national government and to negotiate with the British Cabinet when the opportunity arose. It also gave the republican courts their legitimacy and reinforced the sovereignty of the democratically elected chamber over the military men.
That primacy of politics over military prowess was crucial in saving Ireland from the threat of military dictatorship. The Free State government was briefly threatened by the ascent of Collins, whose position in the weeks before he died was at the very least questionable in democratic terms.
But it was also threatened by the militaristic trend in teh anti-treaty forces and again after the cvil war by the Free State Army as it struggled to come to terms with its relegated position within a democratic state.
But the Free State government had the legitimacy of democratic process, established since 1919 and reinforced by three elections since to back up their position. In many ways, that was exactly what kept the country democratic, that and the steadying hand of WT Cosgrave as discussed elsewhere on this blog.
Some have suggested that Griffith’s contribution to Irish history has been ignored and I think this is to a degree true. His views do not chime with the founding myth of the Irish State, nor was his position on the treaty palatable to the Republican ethos of the Fianna Fail government hat came to power in 1932 and so effectively claimed the mantle of the state and shaped the founding myth in its created image.
Griffith warrants much more academic and popular attention and I suspect that he will benefit from it over the next few years as we approach the centenary of many critical events.
Campaigning? Maybe a little!
* Which he did through his writings like: The Resurrection of Hungary: A Parallel For Ireland
** I found this picture on the wonderful UCC Multitext site, a fascinating project worth visiting.
Visit Gongblog for a series of great graphics on China and India’s role in the world economy. For while I have been annoying one of my good friends with the idea that China has traditionally accounted for about 30% of the world economy and will over time return to norm. Its a nonsense notion in one sense but seems to be emerging as truth. Of course it could as easily not have happened this way since 1920 or so but it has. Interesting.
Lost and Found. One of the best documentary movies I have ever seen. I lost the address, got the address and finally got around to posting it. and sending an e-mail I’d love the answer to be positive on!
Sweet! Stanford University iTunes lectures. Download-a-go-go! [Launches iTunes]
A line to unsettle you on a bank holiday Monday:
. . . she delighted in the sensitive dreamer’s nature of her second son, Maximilian, who was to dream himself to death before a firing squad in Mexico.
I picked up rather nice edition of this in hardback when I was in the US a while ago but I have only started reading it recently. A few great lines already and the historian’s biases are fairly open an clear. It is well worth reading.
Bookshops and booksales
I spent a lot of time over the weekend and the early part of the week in bookshops. They are crazy. It feels like christmas has started early. There is no evidence to support this really. Maybe it will show in the bookscan figures next week but overall Bookscan doesn’t seem too hectic:
But all the same the piles are high, the big books seem to be released already. Walking around the bookstores I was struck by the incredible array of titles, the strength of everyones books and the feeling that the January sales would be truly excellent next year. Because there just cannot be as many winners as there are books. There are some great titles that will fail. This year is going to see a very competitive struggle I suspect.
I can only hope that Mercier do well, though with its great Christmas list I suspect it will. Here’s my favourite:
Enjoying a rush (the thrill of the game perhaps)
– All the world’s botox is made in Westport
– The MAC Store in Dublin Airport is the 6th biggest MAC store (by revenue) in the World
– We are now the biggest foreign property investors in the UK
– Last year we invested 60 tomes more overseas properties than we did in high tech start ups
I think this book will go well too!
It is a good series.