“All my life, until 1980, I was told to see myself as the end of one thing and the beginning of another.” Fintan O ‘Authour wrote. Authour’s new book “We Don’t Know Yourself: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958” is rich in content, authoritative and full of incisive opinions. From the unique perspective of the life course of himself and his family, he made a detailed observation of modern Ireland and made a profound and wonderful analysis of various changes in Irish history.
Ireland, he wrote, “entered a rapidly developing world after the war as a stagnant and insignificant image”. Ireland has a high immigration rate, but a surprisingly low marriage rate. During the period from 1949 to 1956, the GDP of European Common Market countries generally increased by 42%, that of Britain by 21%, and that of Ireland by only 8%. In 1961, the population of Ireland fell to the lowest level in history, only 2.1 million. At that time, Ireland was faced with a choice: “whether to accept and open up free trade or continue to maintain a protected but increasingly isolated region.”
In 1958, that is, the year when Authour was born, T·K· Whitaker, the then finance minister, who was called “the architect of modern Ireland”, wrote a document entitled “Economic Development”, with the aim of pushing the Irish economy from trade protectionism to open free trade, so as to obtain. In theory, this move should lead Ireland to the road of comprehensive modernization, but in fact, this plan only helped Ireland realize economic modernization. Facts have proved that a plan alone is not enough to lead the whole country to the future.
“We don’t know ourselves” [h/] If there is a theme in Authour’s book, it is that it is difficult to make a simple distinction between everything, and any fact is not necessarily worth believing completely. Similarly, any lie will not be completely false. If it is found that some politicians have said something completely contrary to his previous remarks, Authour wrote: “As for those political lies, there is always some truth waiting to be discovered somewhere, and lies are just the opposite of the truth.” But this kind of lie is just a free floating entity, and truth and lie are just two opposing conceptual symbols, with no real reference. Referring to a strange political scandal involving murder and the resignation of the Minister of Justice, he wrote: “The truth itself lacks credibility.”
In Ireland, young politicians who support economic reform are not credible on other issues. In 1962, Charles Haughey, then regarded as a reformist politician, visited the Archbishop of Dublin and said that he was “very disgusted and resisted” Edna O’Brien’s novel Lonely Girl. In this regard, Authour wrote: “Howie’s mastery of hypocrisy has reached the point where it can be used very subtly and authoritatively, which is really fascinating.
In this book, Authour clearly analyzes the strange relationship between Ireland and the United States. When Ireland had its own TV station in 1961, more than half of the TV programs were imported from the United States. Therefore, American entertainment programs and characters, such as Cisco Kid, donna reed, Mr. Ed and masterson the Bat, entered the Irish Dream. In June 1963, when John F. Kennedy attended a garden party at the Irish presidential residence, the crowd surrounded him. A newspaper at that time reported: “This is simply a sign of rudeness, impoliteness, ignorance and lack of education.” Authour wrote: “At that time, the Irish middle class was rising, and I didn’t know what kind of behavior was appropriate, so it formed a force that was almost out of control.” John Kennedy visited Ireland in 1963. Source: JFK Library
Although the economic situation has improved, the bottom people still feel heavy oppression. Authour quoted the testimony of an unmarried pregnant woman in court: “I learned that babies born in my capacity are usually put in brown paper bags and then abandoned in the toilet, and I decided to do the same.” So, I began to carry a coin with me, ready to go to the toilet to have a baby at any time.
However, when the change really comes, it presents a contradictory form. When Authour was a student studying Irish, he went to West Cork, where he met Irish musician Sean Riada. The musician led the local choir and devoted himself to changing the traditional Irish folk music: “Their music has a long and continuous melody. Because it is a chorus, it sounds very simple. ” But when you continue to listen carefully, you feel that the melody is gradually released, showing a soft but restrained decorative sound, and then returning to the previous slow and long linear melody. At the same time, American country music and western music swept across Ireland, and music from Nashville, the City of Music and the latest pop songs were basically playing in the ballroom. By the mid-1960s, nearly 700 professional bands in Ireland made a living by touring dance halls.
“At that time, we believed that the south was free,” wrote Authour, “while the north was not free. “However, any sentence that appears in this book like this is intentionally ironic or ambiguous. When Irish feminists launched a protest movement for the right to contraception in the south, they found that the north had been several light years ahead in these areas.
Authour realized that, because he was far away from the nationalist movement, he had a more direct experience of the changes that took place in the wider social groups in southern Ireland in the first 20 years of 1980. He wrote: “Ireland has changed from an agricultural economy with cows as its lifeblood to almost becoming a part of the international industrial order. In 1972, Ireland exported electronic products worth 35 million pounds; By 1982, the export value of such products had reached 1 billion pounds a year.
The changes in Ireland’s economy are almost entirely driven by foreign investment. In 2017, “the stock of US direct investment in Ireland totaled US$ 457 billion, exceeding the total stock of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden. However, it is never easy to collect statistics in Ireland, especially those based on annual GDP. In 2015, Ireland’s GDP increased by 26%, but as Authour wrote, “It was a mirage.
But according to Authour’s analysis, the miracle itself is a mirage. Strangely, other statistics are reliable: for example, Ireland’s total exports did double between 1995 and 2000, and the number of employees in Ireland also doubled between 1988 and 2007.
At the end of the book, Authour wrote: “The old system is collapsing, but the new form has not yet been fully born. “His book found the power that led to the internal collapse in Ireland, and provided a reasonable and interesting way to understand the complicated situation and chaotic order in Ireland in the past 60 years.