Politics of Illusion
A Political History of the IRA
5 1/2" x 8 1/2" • 320 pages
ISBN 9781897959312 • paperback • $24.95 •
"Subtle and authoritative"-New York Review of Books
This is the first comprehensive study of the IRA's attempts to create a "social republicanism," a marriage between militant nationalism and the politics of the left. From agitation among the peasantry in the 1920s to efforts in the 1990s to add a political dimension to purist nationalism in the form of Sinn Fein's "peace process," Henry Patterson analyzes the various failed attempts to marry two fundamentally incompatible ideologies.
Friend and foe have described the IRA as "socialists," "Marxists" and "fascists" or simply as militaristic and murderous thugs. In this highly praised work the author steers us through the complex, schismatic and inevitably secretive history of both the Provisional and Official IRA, Sinn Fein and the various organizations with which they have been associated. He teases out the meaning and significance of the twists and turns in republican policy, which at different periods have involved working with trade unions, collaboration with Nazi Germany, support for tenants fighting for better housing, hunger strikes, and, of course, both urban and rural guerrilla warfare.
This fully revised and updated new edition takes the history of Irish republicanism beyond Sinn Fein's best ever performance in the 1997 elections in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK to the IRA's renewed ceasefire. Henry Patterson's conclusion is that "physical force" or militarist nationalism and the politics of the left make uneasy and, when the rhetoric is cleared away, self-deluding and illusory bed-fellows.
Henry Patterson is Professor of Politics at the University of Ulster and the author of numerous books and articles on Irish history, including Class Conflict and Sectarianism.
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