An Irish Revolution Without A Revolution
There is a conventional view among Irish historians that a revolution occurred in that country between the passing of the Third Home Rule Bill of 1912 and the end of the Civil War in 1923. The violence of those years, the collapse in support for the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), the meteoric rise to power of Sinn Féin, a new sense of meritocracy, a greater sense of democracy and a widespread radicalism; all are seen as elements of a major change in Irish politics and life, a ‘Revolution.’ Drawing on Gramsci's notion of a “revolution without a revolution”, this paper seeks to understand the events in Ireland of 1912-23, not as a sudden rupture with the past but as the culmination of a much longer period of (often British-backed) capitalist development in post-Famine Ireland. This paper argues that Irish nationalist politics in the decades before 1912 is better understood via categories such as class, gender, capitalism and the pervasive power of the British state. As such, as well as pursuing a reassessment of the project of Irish historical development and state-building, this paper also seeks a reassessment of the project of (an equally statist) Irish historiography.
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