Brighton Grand Hotel after the IRA Bombing
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As soon as we are shown something old in the new, we are calmed.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 551.
‘To think that I can contemplate such a terrible act and yet be afraid of such trifles,’ he [Raskolnikov] thought, and he smiled strangely. ‘Hm … yes … a man holds the fate of the world in his two hands, and yet, simply because he is afraid, he just lets things drift – that is a truism … I wonder what men are most afraid of … Any new departure, and especially a new word – that is what they fear most of all … But I am talking too much. That’s why I don’t act, because I am always talking. Or perhaps I talk too much just because I can’t act …’
Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment. p.1.
The Sun will not overstep his measures; otherwise the Erinyes, ministers of Justice, will find him out.
Heraclitus, attrib. [Plutarch, De exilio, 11, 604a.].
(1.1) Notwithstanding the pompous puff of our Parliamentarians – violence worked, and it’s working again.
(1.1.1) Let us face facts. It’s difficult, painful to admit; but let’s admit it. Let’s say it – The IRA won.
(1.1.2) Jim Prior, Margaret Thatcher’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the early 1980s, said in a BBC Northern Ireland documentary on the 29th of September 2014 – ‘Violence probably does work, it may not work quickly and may not be seen to work quickly, but in the long run, one has to look back and say it did work.’
(1.1.3) Norman Tebbit, whose wife was paralysed in the Brighton bombing, said – ‘I have no sympathy for those who declared the war but having said all that, one way or another, a ceasefire was achieved and to that extent it was a price that was worth paying.’
(1.1.4) This was not some gutless capitulation by Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone – It was a surrender by John Major’s Conservative Government.
(1.2) On the 10th of April 1992, the IRA blew up the Baltic Exchange. It was the biggest detonation on mainland Britain since World War II. It killed three people, and injured 91 others
(1.3) On the 24th of April 1993, the IRA blew up Bishopsgate. One person killed, and 44 injured.
(1.4) Sometime between the 10th of April 1992 and the 6th of April 1994, John Major’s Conservative Government surrendered. They gave up the charade and surrendered. They gave in.
(1.5) On the 6th of April 1994 the Provisional IRA announced a three-day “temporary cessation of hostilities” to run from Wednesday the 6th of April – Friday the 8th of April 1994.
(1.6) Five months later, on Wednesday the 31st of August, the Provisional IRA announced a “cessation of military operations”.
(1.7) This was a strange cessation. It wasn’t a ceasefire – So what was it?
(1.7.1) On the 9th of February 1996, a truck bomb was detonated on Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands. Two people killed; more than 100 injured.
(1.7.2) On the 15th of June 1996, the IRA detonated a truck bomb in Manchester city centre.
(1.7.3) On the 15th of August 1998 – four months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement – the car bomb in Omagh killed 29 people and injured some 220 others. It was the deadliest single terrorist incident of the IRA campaign in Northern Ireland.
(1.7.4) And everyone ignored the fact that the naked emperor’s k**b was dangling in front of their noses.
(2.1) And now we learn that – despite all of her pompous puff about not talking to terrorists – Margaret Thatcher’s representatives were in talks with the IRA in the 1980s.
(2.1.1) According to an account published in the Guardian (18th of March 2008), a Londonderry businessman, Brendan Duddy, and a series of MI5 and MI6 officers conspired to allow clandestine communications between the Labour and Conservative governments and the IRA leadership between 1973 and 1993. The Guardian tells us – ‘It is very hard for democratic governments to admit to talking to terrorist groups while those groups are still killing innocent people. Luckily [!] for this process, the British government’s back channel to the Provisional IRA had been in existence whenever required from 1973 onwards.’
(2.1.2) The surreptitious link was used to negotiate an IRA ceasefire in the mid-1970s; again during the first IRA hunger strike in 1980; and in the stages leading to the surrender of 1994.
(18.104.22.168) Despite her public denunciations, Margaret Thatcher gave her personal approval to these meetings.
(22.214.171.124) In one of her final acts before being deposed as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, after consultations with MI5, allowed Peter Brooke, her Northern Ireland secretary, to talk to the IRA through her secret “back channel”.
(126.96.36.199) Regardless of Thatcher’s ostentatious rhetoric about never talking to terrorists, she also authorised talks in the same year that her friend and close colleague, Ian Gow, was murdered. According to The Guardian (16th of October 1999), a former official concluded, ‘It is rather ironic that it was Thatcher who gave the go-ahead, given her ferocious language at the time.’
(2.2) Most, if not all, of the Tory grandees at that time had had an ‘old fashioned’ education, and if challenged in private – and after a few drinks – they’d probably have invoked the Platonic concept of the “Noble Lie” (Republic, 414b), or even the Buddhist concept of Skill in Means (Saddharmapundarīkasūtra, 3). But the Thatcher-Major contrivance was just a lie. It sprang from no more than an ignoble and craven Hobbesian desire for order and security and quiet at all and any cost.
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[Ed: This essay comes in four parts. Part II will be published tomorrow, Parts III and IV on Monday and Tuesday.]