Thursday, December 23, 2004

Magill Fails the World Politics Test

I see that the editor of the relaunched Magill, Eamon Delaney, is peddling the Reform Movement line on the advantages of membership of the Commonwealth introducing some interesting facts that I hadn't mentioned before in my last comment on Kevin Myers' pitch. Personally, I think if we need some dull German Lutherans to rule over us, we might as well just cold call those listed in the Almanach de Gotha.

According to Delaney, who as a former diplomat, should know his world geography better than George W Bush does, "This is a formidable grouping, which comprises 30 per cent of the world's population, many millions of whom claim Irish descent."

That's funny! I hadn't thought that among the 1.8 billion people in Commonwealth countries, that Indians (1,100 million), Pakistanis (150 million), Nigerians (134 million), Bangladeshis (141 million), South Africans (45 million) Malaysians (25 million), who account for about 1.65 billion of that total, have their roots in our rainy island home.

The weakness of the demographic argument is that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and indeed the UK itself, are all dominated not by Irish immigrants, but others in the four traditions whose persistent cultural characteristics David Hackett Fisher traced in "Albion's Seed". He argues and Huntington agrees that these cultural legacies still drive American politics today, with the irascible and militant low church Scots-Irish - otherwise known as the southern evangelical Republicans - being particularly important at the moment. A cursory examination of Irish history since at least the Great Rebellion of 1641 might tell us that fellow-feeling is particularly elusive among us and them and it provides a poor basis for constructing lasting diplomatic alliances.

Eamo must be one of these arts graduates who doesn't know very much: I'm a bit worried that foreign policy should be in the hands of such people. He writes: "And there's a further motivation. Twenty three per cent of world trade takes place between Commonwealth countries . As with the Anglosphere, there are practical everyday reasons for these closer links...By re-joining, the Irish State [Why the strange title and capitalisation? Is he thinking "Free State"?] would find itself with a new forum for dealing with economic ....matters of mutual interest".

Nonsense! The WTO regulates world trade and the European Commission negotiates there on Ireland's behalf. In many instances, Ireland's interests runs counter to those of the Commonwealth countries, since we benefit from agricultural protectionism, strong intellectual property protection for pharam and IT industries and unrestricted trade in services. The Commonwealth plays absolutely no role in trade or finance, except as another forum for third-world countries to play the beal bocht. Britain's turning its back on its legacy of imperial protectionism in favour of Europe ended the Commonwealth's economic role.

I see they're arguing for this concept of the anglosphere too, which I also think is another bad historical overgeneralisation that provides no rational basis for Ireland's international posture.