Northern Ireland: the Troubles continue

The IRA’s disarmament doesn’t mean the end of the Troubles, as the NYT’s Brian Lavery reports today. The “loyalist” paramilitaries continue murdering one another. It’s time to re-read a classic of the Irish struggles, Liam O’Flaherty’s 1925 novel The Informer, which made a profound impact on me when I read it in my adolescence. It is one of the works that has most helped me understand how the struggle for liberation can turn the combatants into monsters. It happens over and over. Somewhere, probably in the Svendborg poems, Bertolt Brecht remarks about the terrible personal cost, the distortion of one’s own capacity to love and be generous, that comes in long struggle, even when the objective of the struggle is to free mankind from something as horrible as Nazism.

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