David Lloyd, Ireland After History (Cork UP 1999), viii, 141pp.

Quotes A. T. Q. Stewart: ‘Violence would appear to be endemic in Irish society … as far back as history is recorded.’ (The Narrow Ground: The Roots of Conflict in Ulster, rev. edn. Faber 1989, p.9); ‘Much less attention has been paid to the regularity of the froms in wich Irish violence is expressed … The primary pattern which emerges from the background of Irish violence is that of the secret army, the shadowy banditti “on its keeping” in the mountains and the bogs, whose lineage is traceable from the wood-kernes of the sixteenth century to the provisional I.R.A. … Time and time again, in describing the woodkerne. English observers remarked on the difficulty of coming to grips with them. After a raid on a planter’s dwellings they simply melted away into the wood, or were metamorphosed into contented peasantry till the land or herding cattle.’ (Ibid., p.115). Lloyd comments: ‘Striking in Stewart’s assertion of transhistorical regulatiy is the evident contradiction between that assertion of formal continuity and the representation of discontinuity in the form of the “fading” of the guerrilla. This historiography grasps as discontinuous and gapped the recurrence of social and cultural forms which cannot be fully represented within its perspectives. What escapes it is the logic of the subaltern insurgent’s reation to a continuity to which s/he returns and whose reproduction occurs through narrative forms that are as incommensurable with the official historian’s as the forms of community are to the state.’ (Lloyd, Ireland After History, 1999, p.56. A ftn. compares Stewart’s figure to the Phillipino banditti described by Ileto.)

The official coding for this transmission of recalcitrant matter is attavism, an atavism that significantly emerges in Stewart’s haunted understanding as being remarkably at home in the domestic and cvil institutions that look like those through which, normatively, the state would seek to interpellate and reproduced citizens. (Lloyd, p.57).

At an early stage of the Ulster troubles, it became apparent that attitudes, words and actions which were familiar and recognisable to any student of Irish history, but which seemed hardly relevant to politics in the twentieth century, were coming back into fashion. This was not to be explained by the deliberate imitation of the past; it could be accounted for only by some mysterious form of transmission from generation to generation. In many ways it was a frightening revelation, a nightmarish illustration of the folk-memory of Jungian psychology. Men and women who had grown to maturity in a Northern Ireland at peace now saw for the first time the monsters which inhabited the depths of the community’s unconscious mind. (The Narrow Ground, p.16; Lloyd, p.58). Lloyd remarks, ‘… He falls back here on the recurrent obverse of the progressive ideology of modernity, an obverse required in order that the state project remain necessary: human nature never changes and civility is constantly arrested by atavism. (Idem.)

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