"Rebels, infidels , and savages" Why killing the Irish and others was deemed O.K.

Malcolm Redfellow

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This stems from a "find" in an Oxfam Book Shop. It is a 2012 reprint of Sven Lindqvist, A History of Bombing.

Lindqvist's is an eccentric book: 399 discrete segments, plus an afterword. I'm reading it as a straight text, front-to-back. Alternatively, one might jump from one numbered section to the next link, which gives a more direct narrative.

So, I find in section 27:
1625

At the age of 36 the Dutchman Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) was captured after a military coup and condemned to life in prison and the loss of his entire fortune. After two years he managed to flee to France, where he eventually became Sweden's ambassador, one of the few non-Swedes ever to serve in such a capacity. During his time in prison and exile he wrote the work that forms the basis for the modern rules of war: Three Books about Law in War and Peace (1625).

While he was writing, the Thirty Years' War between Catholics and Protestants laid waste to Europe. Grotius coolly asserts what everyone already knew — that in this war, everything was allowed. No law protected anyone, even children and old people, from slaughter.

But, he continues, everyone also knows that there is much the law permits that nevertheless is wrong. First of all, anything that happens in an unjust war is naturally unjust. And even in a just war, "One must take care, so far as is possible, to prevent the death of innocent persons, even by accident." Children and the elderly should always be spared, and women as well, as long as they do not take the place of men as soldiers. Grotius created the vision of an international law that as yet did not exist.
I recall deploying Grotius in a previous thread, on the way to defining "genocide". There's a .pdf of Grotius here. In Michelin guide terms, at least two stars and "worth the trip".

That Lindqvist Section 27 then directs me to continue to Section 30:
1762

The Enlightenment expanded Grotius's vision of protection for civilian populations. Charles de Montesquieu in his The Spirit of Laws (1748) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in The Social Contract (1762) maintained that was is a contest between states and not between individuals. The violence of war ought therefore to be aimed exclusively at the state and its military, not at the peaceful inhabitants of the country. The ideal would be for the people in warring countries to be able to go on living as before, leaving war to their respective ruler and his soldiers. This thesis goes on the assumption that the rulers are the type of depot that ruled the continent at that time, and not the government by the people that was developing in England. It also assumes a conflict involving the land armies of the continent, rather than Great Britain's most important weapons: the navy and trade blockades. The effects of blockade could not be limited to the enemies' armed forces. Thus the English considered peaceful trade and unhampered production to be military goals.

There were horrifying exceptions to the 18th-century humanisation of war. In particular, three types of opponents were excluded from the process: rebels, infidels, and savages. According to the English, the Irish belonged to all three categories. A number of scholars have pointed out the connection between the merciless methods used by the English to put down rebellion in Ireland and those used by the English colonists against the natives of North America. French and English soldiers treated one another as equals when they fought over their American claims — but Indians could be put down by any means necessary.
Just saying' ...
 


Cellachán Chaisil

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Did the same apply to the highlanders?

Still quite hard to believe that 18th century Irish were still considered savages.
 

JCR

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Did the same apply to the highlanders?

Still quite hard to believe that 18th century Irish were still considered savages.
Sometimes I find it harder to believe that the 21st century Irish are not considered savages. Humanity is still in a dark age with delusions of grandeur.
 
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PeaceGoalie

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Technological advances and high unemployment, leading to more mercenaries, also led to the casualties of the 30 Year's war, where Spain, having defended civilisation against the Muslamaic threat, took on the Protestant usurpers.
There had always been rules of warfare: no poisoned arrows, respecting ambassadors and so on but their codification was and is a long process. And guys like Julius Caesar were frothing genocidal maniacs who, like the criminals of today, wrote his own Fake News about hisdd war crimes in Gaul. Britain and the USA commit war crimes to this day and most of their leaders deserve the rope and more.
Rousseau was one of history's creeps. It was wrong that the scum of the Enlightenment got too name an era in their own honour. They were embittered lightweights who have a case to answer.
 

GDPR

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I think Highland Scotland and Ireland were fundamentally different in terms of culture and social organisation from England and so that led to them being regarded as "savages" ie non-civilised.

The religious difference played a part too - though clearly Roman Catholicism per se wasnt the issue, if the French were treated like "officers and gentlemen" so Im not sure what "infidel" actually means here.

Rebellion was certainly considered to be desperately serious. Think of the Monmouth Rebellion - and the Bloody Assizes of Hanging Judge Jeffries.
 

Telstar 62

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This really is grievance mongering victimhood dressed up in
pseudo intellectual 'historical' horse sh it.....

Five pages at most.....;)
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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I think Highland Scotland and Ireland were fundamentally different in terms of culture and social organisation from England and so that led to them being regarded as "savages" ie non-civilised.

The religious difference played a part too - though clearly Roman Catholicism per se wasnt the issue, if the French were treated like "officers and gentlemen" so Im not sure what "infidel" actually means here.

Rebellion was certainly considered to be desperately serious. Think of the Monmouth Rebellion - and the Bloody Assizes of Hanging Judge Jeffries.
I don't see how the social organisation could have been different in the 18th century between the two countries.
 

pedagogus

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Did the same apply to the highlanders?

Still quite hard to believe that 18th century Irish were still considered savages.
Not really when you consider that Winston Churchill argued in the early Twentieth Century that the laws of war did not apply to "uncivilised peoples" such as the Pathans (Pushtuns) and that it would be acceptable to use gas on them.
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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This really is grievance mongering victimhood dressed up in
pseudo intellectual 'historical' horse sh it.....

Five pages at most.....;)
You don't like historical fact, do you telstar?
 

Don Wan

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Not really when you consider that Winston Churchill argued in the early Twentieth Century that the laws of war did not apply to "uncivilised peoples" such as the Pathans (Pushtuns) and that it would be acceptable to use gas on them.
Churchill. A serial racist.

“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against the uncivilized tribes… it would spread a lively terror.” – Churchill on the use of gas in the Middle East and India"

Churchill wrote that his only “irritation” during the Boer war was “that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men”.

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English” – Churchill

https://crimesofbritain.com/2016/09/13/the-trial-of-winston-churchill/
 

former wesleyan

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Did the same apply to the highlanders?

Still quite hard to believe that 18th century Irish were still considered savages.
Compare what was happening in Ireland with what was happening in Britain. It's perfectly usual to portray your enemies as barbarians.
 

occams_butterknife

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I know you're 'just sayin' as you put it, and that this is the history forum, and that it is good for people to be reminded of the mistakes of the past, and that it was an interesting post, and yet I'm not feeling it at the moment...

As the Corbyn vote shows, English culture is changing, in profoundly positive ways (IMO) when it comes to militarism. I can forgive all the darkest elements of English history in Ireland and elsewhere if they continue in that direction.
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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Not really when you consider that Winston Churchill argued in the early Twentieth Century that the laws of war did not apply to "uncivilised peoples" such as the Pathans (Pushtuns) and that it would be acceptable to use gas on them.
I don't think the two are comparable since the Irish were theoretically under British rule in the 18th century and had their social model forced upon them. The Pashtuns were still outside the Empire and would remain so.
 

GDPR

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I don't see how the social organisation could have been different in the 18th century between the two countries.
Im not referring to the British administration but to social and cultural practices which persisted among the Gaelic-speaking Irish. These could and would have been regarded in certain lights as evidence that they were a very different type of person, and therefore inferior.

You can read Sir Phillip Sydney, from a couple of centuries earlier, on just what a "culture-shock" the Ireland of the Chieftains was to British residents.
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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Compare what was happening in Ireland with what was happening in Britain. It's perfectly usual to portray your enemies as barbarians.
But they never did so with the French, for instance.
 

Cellachán Chaisil

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Im not referring to the British administration but to social and cultural practices which persisted among the Gaelic-speaking Irish. These could and would have been regarded in certain lights as evidence that they were a very different type of person, and therefore inferior.

You can read Sir Phillip Sydney, from a couple of centuries earlier, on just what a "culture-shock" the Ireland of the Chieftains was to British residents.
But we're referring to the 18th century here. At this stage Ireland had been under British rule for at least a century and had British social-organisation forced upon them.
 

firefly123

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Churchill. A serial racist.

“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against the uncivilized tribes… it would spread a lively terror.” – Churchill on the use of gas in the Middle East and India"

Churchill wrote that his only “irritation” during the Boer war was “that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men”.

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English” – Churchill

https://crimesofbritain.com/2016/09/13/the-trial-of-winston-churchill/
I take that last quote as a compliment
 

GDPR

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But we're referring to the 18th century here. At this stage Ireland had been under British rule for at least a century and had British social-organisation forced upon them.
You misunderstand me. The fact that the Irish behaved differently from the British, and still in many parts spoke a different language, and had been reduced to a condition of economic servitude by the British which did little to elevate them in British eyes would all be used against them to justify the notion that they were inherently "other" and "savage".

This really isnt difficult to understand. Even in the c19, the Anglo-Irish upper classes who went to public school in England had a reputation for "wildness". Read Kiplings "Stalkie and Co."
 


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