The Myth of Irish Particularism

statsman

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An interesting essay in this month’s Dublin Review of Books caught my eye. It’s Not So Very Different by Kevin O’Rourke, who is the Chichele Professor of Economic History at All Souls College Oxford. In essence, his argument is that the economic development of Ireland since 1922 is broadly what you would expect and, despite our view that we’re different, more or less the same as other countries in a similar position.

To quote:

When I was a young boy in primary school, we were taught that post-independence Ireland was poor but uniquely virtuous. Today, we are taught that it was poor and uniquely wicked. Both positions are misguided: we were never as different as people have made out. Those traditional rural values that we once correctly celebrated can still be found in agricultural communities around the world; meitheal is not a uniquely Irish phenomenon. And the Magdalene laundries that we now correctly condemn have their counterparts elsewhere as well. The past, it turns out, is a foreign country everywhere.
O’Rourke goes on to discuss the legacies and effects of 19th C emigration, 20th C protectionist policies and shows that they really weren’t any more important for the development of the Ireland than they were for other countries. He’s also interesting on the economic liberalisation of the period from 1958 onwards, much in the news due to the recent death of its prime architect, TK Whitaker, pointing out that despite the changes in policy, the economy underperformed significantly in the years between 1960 and 1973, ‘Europe’s Golden Age’. In fact, our performance was similar to that of Wales and the North.

So, what happened in 1973? Accession to the EEC meant that our economy began to perform at expected levels, if you look at other developed world countries of a similar size. O’Rourke is very strong on the importance of our position as an independent member of the Community:

It seems clear, not only that the European Union was fundamental in transforming the Irish economy, but that Irish independence was essential in exploiting the opportunities which the European Union afforded. We would never have done anywhere near as well as we in fact did had we remained a mere region of the United Kingdom.
Overall, a very interesting read.
 


ruserious

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Good argument for Scottish and Catalan independence?
 

Deadlock

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An interesting essay in this month’s Dublin Review of Books caught my eye. It’s Not So Very Different by Kevin O’Rourke, who is the Chichele Professor of Economic History at All Souls College Oxford. In essence, his argument is that the economic development of Ireland since 1922 is broadly what you would expect and, despite our view that we’re different, more or less the same as other countries in a similar position.

To quote:



O’Rourke goes on to discuss the legacies and effects of 19th C emigration, 20th C protectionist policies and shows that they really weren’t any more important for the development of the Ireland than they were for other countries. He’s also interesting on the economic liberalisation of the period from 1958 onwards, much in the news due to the recent death of its prime architect, TK Whitaker, pointing out that despite the changes in policy, the economy underperformed significantly in the years between 1960 and 1973, ‘Europe’s Golden Age’. In fact, our performance was similar to that of Wales and the North.

So, what happened in 1973? Accession to the EEC meant that our economy began to perform at expected levels, if you look at other developed world countries of a similar size. O’Rourke is very strong on the importance of our position as an independent member of the Community:


Overall, a very interesting read.

A very interesting OP - thanks.

It strikes me as interesting that we will now see the reverse process in respect of Brexit in the UK - especially interesting in respect of what some consider the UK recovering its particularism outside of the Community/Union context.
 
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ruserious

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Is it? We were the poor relation of the UK; the Catalans are the economic engine of Spain.
Membership of the EU for an Independent Catalonia might unlock further economic benefits.
 
D

Deleted member 48908

Membership of the EU for an Independent Catalonia might unlock further economic benefits.
Per the essay, we first applied in '61 and got shot down by de Gaulle. Went back to the drawing board and reduced tariffs to reverse our protectionist stance in '65. Eight years later in '73 we got accepted.

I'd imagine whoever would be in charge in Madrid would veto, at least, the Catalan first application. Could Catalonia survive eight years in the wilderness?
 

statsman

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Membership of the EU for an Independent Catalonia might unlock further economic benefits.
It might, but they might lose much of their existing Spanish market.
 

statsman

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Per the essay, we first applied in '61 and got shot down by de Gaulle. Went back to the drawing board and reduced tariffs to reverse our protectionist stance in '65. Eight years later in '73 we got accepted.

I'd imagine whoever would be in charge in Madrid would veto, at least, the Catalan first application. Could Catalonia survive eight years in the wilderness?
The world has changed so much since 1965, it's hard to see how any small country could.
 
O

Oscurito

We have an over-abundance of drama queens - even when it comes to analyzing current events. There are people on this discussion board who will stomp into a thread roaring that we're the most corrupt, poverty-stricken, useless, failure of a country EVER!

You know who you are. And calm down.
 

McTell

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No
Fourth (his 1st para) - it most definitely wasn't worth killing anyone about.

All the best-selling blow by blow histories of the killing here after 1918 amount to a complete red herring end if you are looking for our real modern history. No-one did the math.

That didn't help new investment from the UK in the 1920s, and increased paranoia in the north.

The religiosity from the 1920s was important. Poverty was seen as virtuous then, but we can say it was making a virtue out of an inevitability.

I saw a rerun of a TK Whitaker interview the other day. Seemingly he advised the government in the late 1950s that if his plan wasn't adopted, "we might as well give the keys back to Britain".
 

statsman

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Fourth (his 1st para) - it most definitely wasn't worth killing anyone about.

All the best-selling blow by blow histories of the killing here after 1918 amount to a complete red herring end if you are looking for our real modern history. No-one did the math.

That didn't help new investment from the UK in the 1920s, and increased paranoia in the north.

The religiosity from the 1920s was important. Poverty was seen as virtuous then, but we can say it was making a virtue out of an inevitability.

I saw a rerun of a TK Whitaker interview the other day. Seemingly he advised the government in the late 1950s that if his plan wasn't adopted, "we might as well give the keys back to Britain".
Yes, Whitaker did advise that the alternative to liberalisation was to reapply for membership of the UK. Not that he favoured this course of action, but he wanted to male the case as strong as it could be.
 

McTell

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No
Per the essay, we first applied in '61 and got shot down by de Gaulle. Went back to the drawing board and reduced tariffs to reverse our protectionist stance in '65. Eight years later in '73 we got accepted.

I'd imagine whoever would be in charge in Madrid would veto, at least, the Catalan first application. Could Catalonia survive eight years in the wilderness?

Yes. Is the EU and Spain going to place an embargo or sanctions on it? That would be so dumb.

Catalonia is critical contributor to Spain's economy
 

blokesbloke

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Membership of the EU for an Independent Catalonia might unlock further economic benefits.
Depends if the rest of Spain would be considered an existing EU member if it left. If it did, Spain would veto Catalonia's application.
 

parentheses

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Interestingly he contradicts one myth which is often repeated here on Politics.ie


Importantly, protectionism probably helped maintain employment at a time when jobs were scarce everywhere
When it came to quantitative barriers to trade such as quotas, which are more damaging than tariffs, Ireland was the second-least protectionist economy in the OEEC in 1950, behind only Switzerland.

Not So Very Different
 
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former wesleyan

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Anyone who has read Christ Stopped at Eboli or Banfields The Moral Basis of a Backward Society - accounts of peasant society in Italy - would know that Ireland was actually a relatively prosperous country in the 1950's.
 

ruman

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Membership of the EU for an Independent Catalonia might unlock further economic benefits.
Depends what "membership of the EU" involves in the future.

A free trading block has proven beneficial for all, a union run for the benefit of Germany with catalonia a peripheral region would be less beneficial. In fact it would be similar to what is causing them to look for independence from Spain, just on a grander scale !
 


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