The Return of the Militants: Violent Dissident Republicanism

That’s the title of a report just issued by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) — but it may not be about what you might think it’s about — depending which side of the Atlantic you’re from.

It’s about “dissident republican groups in Northern Ireland – such as the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA, who continued to oppose the peace process”. And the phrasing of the title makes a neat illustration of Bernard Shaw’s aphorism about “two countries divided by a common language”.

I’m “divided by a common language” myself, as a Brit who has been here in the US more than half my life. And yes, I know, technically “Republicanism” should mean the sentiment that led to the War of Independence — but I checked with some American friends, and they reassured me that there’s “usage” of the phrase to refer to GoP philosophy…

Myself, FWIW, I’m a monarchist. Which I suppose makes me “conservative” — another divided word in our deliciously divided common language.

8 thoughts on “The Return of the Militants: Violent Dissident Republicanism”

  1. A true Burkean would be a monarchist in regard to the UK and a republican in regard to the USA. In each case our habits and sentiments have evolved to fit the system we have, and to change it would probably be a change for the worst. What most people don’t realize is that a republic, to be successful, requires habits of mind every bit as much as a monarchy. The past century is littered with republics that weren’t democracies; I don’t see why in such a world democracies that aren’t republics should be considered a problem.

  2. Monarchy is a terrible system because ability is not hereditary. The current crop in England more than proves the point.

  3. The whole point of constitutional monarchy is that it has evolved a system in which ability is not a prerequisite for success in that position. Sort of like the American Vice-Presidency.

  4. Hi Locomotive:

    Some liked Bush and some like Obama — but almost nobody seems to think voting gives reliable access to ability, either.


    Indeed. I’d say I’m a monarchist because I consider tradition, ritual and liturgy to be important sources of community.

  5. So what’s the point of a monarch? Community organizer? They’re pretty expensive for that.

    Regardless, in the US we occasionally get someone competent. Or at least we get balancing incompetents.

  6. There is no particular point to monarchy. The whole idea of trying to devise political theories that deliver a single best solution to governance that applies to all cultures is, I think, fallacious, and every attempt to impose such theories universally has been disastrous. The best we can do is try to derive some very broad rules of thumb, such as , “in strong civil societies, it is better to have some means of representation than not”. The track record of constitutional monarchies in English-speaking societies has been pretty good, all things considered. The track record of constitutional republicanism in the USA was pretty good for most of our history. I can’t think of any point in the past hundred years where a British Republic would obviously have had a better outcome than their current system, and an American monarchy probably lost its last window of opportunity when George Washington failed to have male offspring. The French have had pretty much similar outcomes whether they had Kingdoms, Empires, Republics, Directorates, or…well, whatever.

  7. “technically “Republicanism” should mean the sentiment that led to the War of Independence — ”

    Charles, I think that “republicanism” (small r) is taken to mean the sentiment and “R”epublicanism refers to activities that reflect the mainstream Republican Party’s ideas.

  8. I don’t see why in such a world democracies that aren’t republics should be considered a problem.

    Representative republics have some democratic attributes that are beneficial. Perhaps a true democracy would be OK as long as one doesn’t have to live in it. The USA is now suffering from a surfeit of democracy. Philistineism, corruption, and degradation of the population result when “all men are created equal” is interpreted to mean “all men, when they individually come to fruition, are equal”. Unfortuantely, for democracies, it just ain’t so.

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