Plumb Lines

March 17, 2009

St. Patrick’s Day and Capitalist Plots

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Schaengold @ 10:22 am

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I have nothing against saints’ days, but I do have something against days devoted to celebrating ethnic tribalism. Ethnicity is the least interesting of the various unchosen loyalties presented to us upon our arrival in the world. Worse still, loyalty to an ethnicity comports psychologically with loyalty to purely fictional “nations.” These fictions lead to nation-states (that is to say, governments predicated on a lie), which have led to such disasters as the Peace of Westphalia and the First World War.

This is true even for garden-variety ethnicities like Walloons, Bulgars and Tamils. Irish ethnic pride in the United States is still less redeemable. American Irishness is an ethnicity that makes no demands of its membership. There are only feast days for the American Irish, no fast days.

And what a feast day is today, where for twenty-four hours Americans of all colors and creeds, egged on by the American commercial engine, quaff pints of beer produced by a corporation with a market capitalization of almost thirty billion dollars, adorn themselves with kitsch fabricated in China, and celebrate an ethnic tradition so thoroughly manufactured that its only sacred text is the Kiss-Me-I’m-Irish t-shirt.

-David Schaengold

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2 Comments »

  1. “Worse still, loyalty to an ethnicity comports psychologically with loyalty to purely fictional “nations.” These fictions lead to nation-states (that is to say, governments predicated on a lie), which have led to such disasters as the Peace of Westphalia and the First World War.”

    I will deal with you later.

    Comment by P. Langdale Hough — March 17, 2009 @ 10:26 am

  2. The fact that Irish culture has been marketed and monetized by no means makes it manufactured. Its real traditions remain, though wrapped in tinsel and shrink-wrap.

    Comment by Matthew Schmitz — March 17, 2009 @ 2:17 pm


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