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com examines Irish society through its norm-creating as well as its norm-breaking agencies. These include the Church controls of Ireland’s State -- its Schools, Law, Police, Courts, Prisons, Media and much more...
Sociology and Irish Law:
9a.) The sociological imagination.
In this Webpage we need to do three things.
First of all we need to say something about our understanding of The Sociological Imagination as well as what it means in Irish terms. A first and second year undergraduate’s acquaintance with writers like C. Wright Mills, Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim and others is presumed. We then give an example by way of an Extract from A Description Of The Criminal Justice System, 1950-80 And while bibliographies of every hue and description are readily available on the website these days, we nevertheless direct interested persons to a select Bibliography The Sociological Imagination Sean: But where to begin – that’s the question. Maybe we can reserve the obvious questions and go by way of Spinoza and try and establish what Sociology is not? But let’s stick to The Sociological Imagination. How would you characterise it? Seamus: In a nutshell I suspect it means making an effort to think in ‘cobwebs’ rather than thinking‘ linearly’ -- and allowing that cobwebbed thought-process to sink into the social landscape, particularly into the native Irish social landscape. Our present concern, therefore, is by way of invitation to think in cobwebs. A detective thinks in cobwebs but a lawyer by and large doesn’t. By this is meant that when one thinks about‘ law’ or any aspect of it, one does not think causally as a lawyer does, or proceed to prove this point or that point within a legal context, which goes to the veracity of what the lawyers in criminal matters call the ‘ actus reus’ and the ‘ mens rea’. And in fairness to the lawyers, they are often induced when introducing a persuasive text to lead on with more than one example. In other words, when proving a point by reference to case law; they ought
to do so by referring to more than one solitary case. And of course they invariably refer to reams and reams of them, depending upon the nature of the argument and the importance of the matter in hand. In this way one’s arguments are shored up by reference to more than one authority, but by a nexus or a ‘cobweb’ of such authorities. Thinking in cobwebs about social matters signifies contemplating several social lines of enquiry at the same time concerning the topic in question. Being interested in ‘’this point’ and ‘’that point’, lawyers are, as we all know, generally concerned to think in terms of linear causation, or what used to be called‘ billiard ball causality’. And whether the matter be one of precedent, factual argument, testamentary rules or credibility, the causal line of authority goes by way of consensus, first to the Judge of trial, then by way of appeal to a similar but higher authority, and, in our time, to a similar and higher authority in Europe. Sean: Before proceeding further, what do you mean by what you call ‘cob-web’-like thinking? Can you demonstrate its particular significance to me? Seamus: Certainly. But I should say that despite the many inferior works that claim a ‘sociological’ perspective and the like, there is no real mystery about thinking sociologically. In many ways it is the same as thinking like a detective, rather than like a priest, a lawyer, an economist or a psychologist. Much can be made both of the subject matter about which a sociologist thinks as well as the manner in which he thinks about it. The real difference, if you accept the difference in how a detective thinks from others, lies in the sociologist’s social concerns. Accordingly, being concerned with social issues, and because he works on the notion, whether by induction or conviction, that all such phenomena have a social cause or origin, he becomes habituated to a practice that we identify as sociology – and that is why we call him a sociologist. Now, how he thinks thereafter is best served by thinking like a detective and by making constant comparisons as well as historical reviews of his material. In this sense you can see the relevance of the reference to ‘cobwebs’ and to detectives. Moreover, whatever science one embarks upon in a systematic way, it will become apparent – to most people at any rate – that value judgements have to rest upon something prior to themselves, not just in time, but in scope, in depth and above all else in historical integrity. So, whoever you are, if you want to appraise something, or, indeed, comment on it, or, indeed, open your mouth, without a philosophic base, your underwear is bound to show. Let ten men speak for five minutes in the Dail – thereafter they may as well sit down, for their interests – nay, their character – is perfectly apparent. And if you got them to admit their Bank Balance, their Date of Birth, and the number of people in their immediate family, coupled with the accent, you might come to believe that you know everything about them. As to examples, the best think to do is to read Weber’s work, especially The Protestant Ethic for his particular use of the Ideal Typical Construct. You could equally read Marx’s Work or Durkheim`s work, or, indeed, have a gander at Michael gnatieff’s treatment of John Howard in A Just Measure Of Pain. We will have recourse to Ignatieff again ( See WebPages 14 and 15), but for another purpose. Here you will find a very skilful analysis of Howard’s personality, the approach to which you will observe examines his times, his psychological makeup, as well as the social environment and attachments he makes, the significance of religious (Quaker)-cum-penal notions, and all with a critical eye to the contemporaneity of such a confluence of values. Here you have a rather neat and compelling nexus (‘cobweb’) of social relations examined in a sociological manner and an expert assessment made of the man and the reformer. Sean: But surely a Sociological Imagination means more than one thing? C. Wright Mills thought of it as essential. Seamus: Of course, but as conceived by Mills and other sociologists it can be conceived in several ways. As I said it practice it means conceiving of things in cobweb-fashion. Of itself it is best understood as an appeal to philosophy -- a philosophy that necessarily includes a view of the philosophy of history. Why is this? All sociologists – Mills no less -- know only too well that one cannot understand the parts unless one can configure the whole. The great contributions made to economics and the manner in which Western democratic States are run is grounded to a great extent on a consensus derived from a macro (or total) view of economic phenomena. In other areas, a similar notion of the ‘whole’ makes partial policies meaningful and invariably makes it necessary for the sociologist to trace its way back to some view of history. So, even in works like A Description Of The Criminal Justice System, 1950-1970, a local matter seeking comprehension, or The Last Of The Betagii, the last execution of a woman in Ireland, the phenomena attaching to
both items are, on the one hand traceable to a work-a-day totality, but their further significance must be seen in their respective histories. This, I think, is one way in which C. Wright Mills understood the Sociological Imagination. In this respect he makes it plain that human beings cannot be understood apart from the social and historical structures in which they are formed and in which they interact. This led him to great types of analyses. In The Power Elite (1957), for example, (with some whiffs of Thorsten Veblen’s The Vested Interests and the Common Man some forty years earlier) he talks about the levels of power in American society. Under the power elite, two others prevail. At the bottom are the masses: these are unorganized, ill informed, and powerless; they are controlled and manipulated by the power group. Mills depicts how the disorganized masses (in America) are not only economically dependent and exploited but are quite removed from the very organizations, which hold the key to power. Sean: And his sociology? Seamus: He placed great emphasis on sociology as a discipline, particularly on what I might be permitted to call the societ - isation of personal problems. I think what he meant by this came from an understanding that when we speak of nature, we tend to forget that we are – qua humans – part and parcel of nature, human nature; and that, therefore, what befalls us personally -- and our personal reaction to adversity -- is the legitimate subject-matter of social enquiry. This disciplinary viewpoint – although obviously different from other disciplinary viewpoints -- is every bit as valid as the study of law, economics, theology, mathematics, etc. The great difference is that when one considers what befalls oneself as the subject- matter of social inquiry, one is quite likely to fall into the quagmire of egoism and -- even worse – boredom. Sean: But surely there is as much sociology as there are sociologists! Seamus: Were it not for philosophy, Sociology would – it is true -- be the most fractured of the social sciences. As such, it is not easy to advance well-established truths on its behalf without controversy. Having said that, however, there are Dictionaries, Handbooks and Websites dedicated to sociology as a discipline, as well as websites dedicated to separate and individual sociologists. Suffice it for our purposes in criminology, if we say something about its three most popular advocates, Durkheim, Marx and Weber. Why we have specified these three may well pose its own problems, to avoid the worst of which might I recommend the following Socio Site (Www2.fmg.uva.nl/sociosite), not just because philosophs like Habermas and Adorno, Horkheimer, and Popper, anthropologists like Malinowski and Levi-Strauss, and social historians like de Tocqueville and Foucault, and a host of others refreshingly find themselves thrown into the common sociological heap, but an interesting and convenient bibliography and online reference that attends them all. There is also a useful sociological timeline since 1600, not to mention a rather unexpected introduction to the extensive and lamentably overlooked sociology of crime by Ferdinand Toennies. Toennies. According to Mathieu Deflem at (Deflem@gwm.sc.edu; www.mathieudeflem.net, and at http://www.cas.sc. edu/socy/faculty/deflem/ztoen.htm) Toennies published no less than 34 works on crime (22 papers, three books, and nine review articles) and 17 related methodological papers on criminal statistics. Moreover, Toennies had worked on his criminology for some four decades – which gives him a prominence that is all too often forgotten with his theory of Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft. Although isolated in the 20s Toennies became a respected criminologist. ‘With Georg Simmel and Max Weber’ says Deflem, ‘he founded the German Society for Sociology in 1909, serving as its president from 1922 until 1933 when he disbanded the association in protest against the rise of National-Socialism. For these reasons alone, this site is well worth visiting and is highly recommended for its online references as an addendum to any shorter bibliographies compiled. Sean: Is there any simple way to begin to understand sociology as a discipline? Seamus: Maybe we should just begin with a sense of time, or, better still, a sense of history – or, better still, a sense of anthropology or a sense of evolution. Since we have said so much about the need for a sense of history, maybe we can drive the point home by pointing out the colossal mistake of discarding it. In is extension of Durkheim`s theory of Anomie, Robert K. Merton devised a very famous and attractive typology of criminals in America. Accordingly, when the methods
available to Americans to achieve social mobility conflicts with the desired social goal, the participants understandably react in various ways. Merton characterised these reactions into five typical adaptations, namely, conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Laurie Taylor, however, in reviewing this elaborate and – as I have said – quite attractive typology, draws the reader’s attention to the whole schema’s lack of any sense of historical perspective. (See WebPages 14 and 15) – upon which lack, let me add, the whole schema as criminology collapses into intelligent journalism or, at best, narrative and monograph. As to the historical sense, if we listen to Comte or even Aristotle we begin to grasp it by way of pondering on what Aristotle conceived as life’s struggle to reach higher forms. In other words all life can arguably be seen -not just as an effort to rise, but arguably, as a progress of sorts. In good Whig-historical and Christian fashion, we say, then, that we all struggle to do the best we can for our families, our football and hurling teams, our villages, towns, countries, our country, and ourselves. It is interesting to know that when I was young, no one would have said what President Kennedy said, when he exhorted people to ask not what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country. It is true, the sentiment was widespread, but people more practically thought that one should play for one’s club before one’s county. Certainly, if you played for any of the country clubs, the rule was ‘ your club before your county.’ By extension of this logic, what was at hand came – and should come – first; what was removed in space and time or abstraction came – and should come – later. Nevertheless, as persons and societies, we all struggle, as persons and societies, to move in Aristotelian fashion from formless matter-tomatter less form. Whatever we did, however bad it became, it could still be classed sub specie boni as trying to reach the ideal of formless matter, to shuffle off the increasingly unwanted coil of yesterday’s superstitions and advance to the scientific utility of greater and higher wants and needs. This ascent is both logical and constant in everything we do: it contains an obvious evolution into which many histories can be fitted. In formless matter, we have earth, clay, of which we are all made. Memento homo quia pulves es, et in pulverim reverteris. This church-Latin you will hear from any priest who, at the graveside of your friends and neighbours or some other poor Yorick, will recite the same obvious truth – the recycle of clay to clay. In Shakespeare we find it in the man that ate of the fish that ate of the worms that ate of the magnetic, etc. What Joyce called metampikeosis. At least this is a little more exciting than the obvious growth of the organism, the plant, the animal, etc. And at the other end of the Aristotelian spectrum, we have matterless form. This is not just a woman slimming, or an artist trying to catch a concept, or the rest of us reaching all the time for a higher form (in the Durkheimian sense). It is the triumph of spirit. The philosophers conceive of it as the thought of thought, or, if like Aquinas, you wish to regard it as God, then here it has its place, above and well removed from clay. In any event we have an evolution with which to begin. Sean: But this is just a beginning – right? Seamus: One has to start somewhere – and sentient beings prefer to begin with themselves and reach out to understand where they are, who they are, why they are whom they are. To do this we must sooner or later come to realise that light and life pass through us, that we are not the alpha or the omega, neither the beginning nor the end of anything, not even ourselves. We receive and we transmit energy, life, and genes, whatever the point is that we are in society and in history. Moreover, as we have been at pains to demonstrate this process in Webpage 2.b The Criminological History of Ireland, our view of ourselves must be modified by the fact of our historical consciousness. And whether we look at history as consciousness (Collingwood), or as reflection upon past events (Philosophy, Freud) or as independent critical though (Voltaire) or as universal spirit (Hegel) – or howsoever – we still must begin to come to terms with an historical view of society and science in order to appreciate The Sociological Imagination. Sean: You have already referred (in Webpage 2 History/Anthropology) to the importance of Comte and his concern to document the hierarchy of consciousness through the history of the sciences. And I do not want to go back over old ground. But it is significant that it was also Comte who in this very historical light coined the word Sociology. Seamus: Comte wanted to discover the series through which the human race was necessarily transformed. Now Darwin would never use that language, but he was doing something similar in another way. Both men were concerned to understand how civilised Europe evolved – particularly from a family of apes. Darwin’s work resulted in
the Ascent of Man and we are widely aware of his findings, which (except for Catholic Ireland and the fearful side of America) are accepted by the scientific community one way or another. Comte’s widespread work, on the other hand, is neither so well known nor so acceptable. Comte’s answer came in the form of what he called The Law of Human Progress, according to which each branch of the known sciences purportedly passes through three stages, hence The Law of Three Stages. These stages not only parallel individual human development, but just as we are passionately devout in childhood, critical and unaccepting in adolescence and positively philosophic in manhood, so, too, do all our sciences pass through three definite and separate epistemological phases. The first is the Theological or fictitious state, which gives way to the Metaphysical or abstract way of knowing, which in turn gives way to the Scientific or positive way of knowing. Now these conditions of consciousness or ways of knowing are cumulative in that each stage is reached only after a period of entering, realising and destroying the stage prior to it (not unlike the Hegelian dialectic, perhaps). In the first or theological degree, men seek and are content with supernatural causes for phenomena that they cannot explain. First and final causes are ascribed to all kinds of things and anyone brought up in religious belief will appreciate the firm adherence to the supernatural cause, a cause without sensual extension, human understanding or philosophical discourse. The supernatural belief is invariably dogmatic. Religion resists the limits as well as the onset of further human understanding. In the second phase, the metaphysical state, abstract and personified forces are posited as the driving and creative forces of the universe and its phenomena. And, eventually, in the final or third phase, absolute answers are abandoned as vain and, indeed, unnecessary, and are replaced more realistically with their laws, that is, the invariable relations of succession and resemblance. Sean: In some ways it is helpful to regard Comte (with Saint Simon) as a founding father – if sociologist’s belief in such things as ‘fathers’. But to ransack a man’s imagination one must study him in his time, in his ambitions, efforts, and successes as well as in his limitations and failures. For this a critical faculty is required as well as a comparative facility. Otherwise we cannot know how others like Marx, Weber and Durkheim, who had an even greater influence on the discipline, differ from each other – which is really why I asked if you regarded the discipline as one sociology or a collection of sociologists’ writings? Seamus: I think sociology is better regarded as both. There is what such writers have in common as well as how they differ from each other. Sean: What, if anything does Marx, Weber and Durkheim have in common? Seamus: Well, for one thing it seems to me that they all owe an extraordinary debt to Hegel. Durkheim and Marx took from his ability to align logic with world events and, indeed, an objective world dialectic that carried things historically and necessarily forward. Further, his treatment of logic, for example, was brilliant and his explanation of explanation. Also extraordinary was the manner in which former philosophers were (according to himself) encapsulated in his own ingenious schema. Others did not overtly make such a boast, but it lies implicit in Marxism. Then there is the theory of universals. Hegel managed to extend and re-categorise the Kantian modules or categories through which, like rose tinted glass, Kant claimed we invariably reason. Categories such as quantity, quality, modality, etc. Hegel, supporting a special allocation and significance to what he calls the more ‘sensuous universals’, reads the philosophy of history as a logical process, that is, a process of development that is historical and dialectically necessary given its ontology to date. In some ways the logical necessity in history is a quality of all sociological writers, at least of the grand theorists. Moreover, Weber, like Hegel, cannot be easily pigeonholed into either the "materialist" camp of the Marxists or the "idealist" camp of the traditionalists. When you pit Weber alongside Marx and Durkheim, it seems that Weber in some ways is not a sociologist, but rather a social psychologist. Sean: And what about their differences? Seamus: Sometimes differences are more a matter of focus than anything else. In Durkheim and Marx the overriding interest is on the mediation of society downwards, whether the mediation be through hierarchical norms, which makes him so attractive to the Americans and the Irish and any other Western religion you can find, or through class, which made Marx more attractive to those
developed countries in which the class formation was well delineated or, as the case may be, was threatening to become so, Weber stayed with the subjective ordering of everyday reality and announced differentia rather than similarity as the goal of sociology. You must remember that Max Weber’s sociology conceives of social action -- the science of social action. As such it serves as a refreshing counterpoint to the sociologists of structural-functionalism, and in some ways hearkens back to some of the ambivalence in Hegelian philosophy. Where Hegel saw ‘Napoleon on horseback’ as a symbol of the Universal Spirit, Weber is interested more on Napoleon’s rational behaviour and less on the Universal Spirit. The universal spirit, by the way is the universal version of history, and it is most interesting that ‘spirit’ and ‘history’ sometimes coalesce, such that when one thinks about it, there is little or nothing between them. Similarly, where Marx focuses on the ‘material’ mode of production, and historicises it accordingly, Weber focuses on the ‘ideal’ or the ‘ideal typical’ type of production and examines the rational possibilities humanly sprung within an historical ensemble. Durkheim, on the other hand, focuses on what he specifically defined as ‘the social fact’, the collective or the ‘social norm’ and, as we have demonstrated in his theory of Crime and Punishment, he sees human history developing as a tree grows. Notwithstanding this conspectus, he is apt, at the same time, to depict moral history as between two (unsatisfactory) polarities, the primitive and the modern. These respective notions are easily separated when we think of the overall focus of each thinker. One of Durkheim`s main concerns, following Comte, concerned Social Cohesion and how it is preconditioned in antiquity and more importantly concurrent with the industrial revolution. Marx’s concerns are focused on the creation, structure and trajectory of conflicts surrounding the phenomenon of social class. No one appreciated the preconditions of capitalism or the release of power concurrent with it more than Marx, and yet sometimes in his analysis of Ireland one wonders if the was fully aware of its merely stratified. Of course, Ireland was part of Britain then and the real social and religious makeup of Ireland was to change utterly with the emigration of some 50,000 Protestants from the Southern State. Nor was he wrong in predicting an early ‘revolution’, but he could never conceive that that ‘revolution’ was one towards the far right. In speaking of these men one could well feel guilty about not mentioning Proudhon, who, more than any other, comprehended the weaknesses in Marxology, and I am still uneasy about treating Marx as a sociologist simpliciter. But putting aside these considerations and shortcomings we can agree with Weber when he predicted that "socialism would in fact require a greater degree of formal bureaucratization than capitalism” – a statement, which still remains, uncontradicted. At this juncture I would like to pose some concerns of my own. These are as much by way of hypothesis as they are of affirmation. I can’t imagine what Marx would say to this kind of observation of Weber’s were he still alive, but I feel that the focus on bureaucratisation takes us somewhat from the dynamism of action which was so trumpeted by Weber. But he wasn’t the only sociologist of action – Marx (if we admit his as sociologist) was also a sociologist par excellence. Indeed, some contemporary nations hailed him with forgivable predictability as one who relished in the notion of arma virumque cano. That said, however, the end of revolution does not turn simpliciter into bureaucratisation but also into a bifurcations of internal and external forces. What was implicit has and becomes more explicit in the forms of crime ordinary and crime political. Just because the revolutionary forces have left the paddocks of the Nation State – this does not mean that the world has emptied itself out of its historical forces, such that all we will be concerned with hereafter is the inordinate number of pins we annex to the infinite pagination of human applications, or the digitised storage of them. This trite description of Weber’s bureaucratisation may help to imagine its savage otherness in the relationship of citizens of the world to the world. Already we see crime ordinary and crime political poised apart as if reflecting each other in a Bush/ Blair/Bertie Ahern coalition. Already, too, crime ordinary has let slip its leash into the streets, domestic violence rages, soccer hooliganism leaves off where personal vendettas and impartial riots begin, and mental aberrations enough to kindle a more expanding profession of psychologists than that of the medieval priesthood. On the political front Anglo-America has created in a few unwise yet pushy decisions a totally unstable and crime-prone world, as if crime, to meet the new configuration of political aggression, now assumes an international character and resonates the same arguments even when locally defined. Far from the dead hand of bureaucratisation, we see the very pro-activity of corporate corruption and personal alienation as never before. It isn’t a matter any more whether our governments are corrupt or not; it’s only a matter of when and how we find out about their corruption. The Americanisation of world politics carries a new aggression to areas that no one could hitherto comprehend. Moreover, the oft quoted soft words like ‘democratisation’, ‘freedom’, ‘women’s liberties’ pale into their opposite when we consider that for all the blather about democracy, one man in the guise of Clinton and Bush, can suddenly, unimaginatively and unpredictably, rearrange the world In this personal characterisation of
American and world change, what we see is the materialism since the Spanish Civil war revisit the world as a whole. And how we see it is in the silent and stealthy manner that most European and other countries have taken on the role of Governor for the US. We watched Tony Blair drop everything domestic and run around the world for Mr Bush and even after waging an unjustified war, still persisted in defending the world’s new Caesar. And we are grateful for Bush as well for indicating like never before where Irish charm left off and Bertie Ahern’s governorship of Ireland began. Other countries, of course, have followed suit. And the eventual and messianic role of the Christian Church in returning Caesar was most instructive. The American Bishops, notwithstanding the fact that the Pope ‘came out’ (not too loudly) against the war on Iraq, punished Massachusetts (no doubt for their enlightened policies on clerical paedophiles) and others by returning the enfant terrible to office yet again. From without, from political and international attitudes, we find the new power-materialism resonating in the streets, as if an old fascism, the terrible offspring of the Christian conquest, was making a comeback. Sean: That analysis is rather messianic in itself. No one doubts but that the constant conversation between what is within and what is without confirms itself anew with each generation. We might more appropriately take up this question again when we come to talk about Sinn Fein/IRA in this context in 13.b. Crime And Irish Politics Might I hearken back to what you said about Weber’s use of the Ideal Typical construct? How useful do you think it is to Weberian sociology? Seamus: The ideal typical construct is a brilliantly contrived simplicity and it represents an intensification of logical integration at the centre of many of Weber’s demonstrative arguments. It is the inference made syllogistic or, in other words, the logical representation taken to an approved logical completion, from which it is easier to retreat somewhat to demonstrate the probability of several hypotheses. But this does not mean that it is more real – on the contrary, it is meant to be abstract and in some ways unread; for in this way it allows Weberian analysis to focus upon and articulate a spectrum of social reality, to allocate categories to it, to formulate hypotheses about it and generally to know it by comparison with other competing formulae. It proceeds on the lines we have mentioned, not as to their truth but as to their plausibility. It is enlisted in aid of our understanding of sociology and the thought- ordering process of empirical reality In some ways I think Marx uses it to delineate the modes of production in history: only with Marx they are never represented as ‘ideal typical’ but as time and modes-of-specific-production. Sean: Give us an example, an Irish example, of what you mean? Seamus: All Irish Catholic marriages are the marriage of the Priest and the Nun. This statement could be developed into a good example. The ideal typicality of the marriage between a Priest and a Nun specifies their shared beliefs and conventions over any other historical input into such a relationship. It assumed a relationship existing despite traditional fears and the sacral hierarchical allocation of counter-values to the notion of sex and reproductively. These exaggerated notions in the Priest and in the Nun have at once to be negotiated by a non-secular institution and sacra mentally fixed not so much by the State as by the RC church. And in our ideal typicality of the union we have gone the full 100% to promote our examination of the difficulties involved for the parties. How do they negotiate sex, for example? More particularly, how do they negotiate enjoyable or pleasurable sex, when they are traditionally against it entirely? When it is anathema to them? How do they view and educate their children? How many children with the couple have? Who decides on this matter? Must the traditional wife submit to the traditional husband and accommodate his wishes? Are these things meant to be pleasurable or dutiful? Must the priest be consulted? And why is the Nun not consulted at all? And so on, and so on…. Sean: But we never know how people behave, do we? So, how can we talk about these matters? Seamus: Because, contrary to what you say, we know precisely how people behave or ought to behave -- people in authority and people who forever declare their intentions by way of ritual and sacred declaration. I don’t just mean the priest who takes vows of poverty and obedience and remains blind to the wealth of the institution he belongs, or the Judge who swears to uphold the Constitution, but has already made his more devotional vows to Opus Dei, or the Banker who declares for accountability and transparency but has entered a secret cabal to exploit his
customers, or the Policeman who swears to act without fear or favour and has put his name down in the party and clerical register, looking to give favours to those who will favour him, or the teacher who claims to be one with the sisterhood , but has run down to the Labour Court to squeeze some advantage out of it behind all their backs. I mean taking people at their best, at their ideal typical. And from this we know approximately what matters would bother such persons. Surely, every wife would like to know that she is going to have children, how many she is expected to have, how they are to be educated, fed, etc.? Of course she would, but we also know in the ideal typical type who makes these decisions and how they can affect the typical believing Hausfru. The use of the ideal typical concept as a sociological tool is probably best seen in Weber’s use of it in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. In many ways it’s use presupposes a cultural and/or a philosophical underlay. It also presupposes a critical faculty, which, with its philosophic remigrations, is negatived because answered in religion. Sean: Are you saying that the methodology surrounding the ideal typical concept affords one the opportunity of either a philosophic or a religious background? Seamus: No. You must understand that philosophy only becomes possible in a culture where religion is no longer accepted as a holdall dogmatic answer to contemporary problems. The ‘choice’ as you call it calls to mind the chalice that one has to consume either pears or apples; but philosophy only becomes objectively possible in that society which has reached the stage of religious questioning, the one following the other objectively. Sean: Could I go back to what you said about Weber being a social psychologist rather than a sociologist? Admittedly, he is different in his approach and in his methodology to both Marx and Durkheim --who are each different to the other also. But I still don’t see where that leads us in the longer term or in the Irish context? Seamus: With C Wright Mills we have the socialising of individual phenomena. According to him most -- if not all -- of one’s personal problems are social problems. This position is so because you are part and parcel of a particular type of society at a particular time. So the conjunction of social and individual are devoutly to be explained in any policy-orientated explanation of social phenomena, whether it is the divorce rate, the murder rate, or whatever. Since the need with Durkheim and Marx is to explain the outer (social) causes of inner (personal, individual) phenomena, there remained an ancillary need to connect society with the individual denkende man – a lacuna that is resolved respectively through the use of the psycho-social concepts of Anomie and Alienation. Anomie, you will recall, was advanced by Durkheim to explain the onset of behavioural normlessness in society when it was both high in boom as well as low in gloom, both socially determined conditions coinciding generally and effectuated by the business cycle. On the other hand Marx uses the psychosocial concept of Alienation as something that is propelled within the cumulatively developing division of labour within structural capitalism. Weber, by contrast, has no recourse to any other psychosocial concept that he might enlist to brook the gap between the social and the individual. To the contrary, Weber ab initio has no such gap apparent in his logic; for his, as I have said before, is not a sociology, but rather a social psychology of action, engendered by thought ordering individuals who think the empirical world through the mediation of their own subjective values. Sean: What about its relevance to Ireland? Is the Protestant Ethic the antithesis of the Catholicism? Seamus: I notice that you didn’t ask: Is the ‘Protestant Ethic’ the antitithesis of the ‘Catholic Ethic’? Is that because you believe the Catholic Ethic – whatever it is, -- is not action or work-oriented? One might do well to remember that the antithesis in Weber’s Protestant Ethic is not polarised between Protestantism and Catholicism or a society so persuaded, but between Puritanism and a traditional type of society, that is (by comparison only) a society that is guided and swayed by customary habits of thought. Such a society – as in the Irish instance – may well become weighed down with such customary habits of thought and suffer from it by way of a particular form of paralysis about time and consciousness. Indeed, Joyce’s description of Dubliners is a perfect example of such a society -- one that is almost un-rescue-able! But that does not say that a
colonial Protestant society is not also by deviation from the parent culture, given more or less to rely upon customary habits of thought. And in this connection one might well recall the practice of Maria Edgeworth’s father, who, as Landlord, was more apt to reward those who had ideas of improving upon their responsibilities rather than submitting to the needs of long-rerm tenants or to the more sentimental or traditional norms or attachments. (I have to say that notwithstanding this ever so interesting analysis, I am still a hopeless traditional sentimentalist in all these personal respects! And I understand the communists – at least the ones I knew in post-protestant Denmark – to be of a similar mind. The Protestant Ethic to work or the communist influence to over humanise the work place did not, in other words, either impress them. In defence all I can say is that in some respects I differ with C.Wright Mills in that, as I have said before, what is personal is not always social, and what is social is not always personal – at least as far as validation is concerned. And even to the present day I am still drop-dead grateful to my parents never to have contemplated sending me to a public school.) As it happened, and in fairness to Whitaker and Lemass, there had been some prodding of that paralysis since the mid sixties (when, incidentally, the incidence of crime takes off and Irish individualism is in the ascendant), so that the grants from Europe made an enormous stir in Irish paralysis. As one might imagine, the initial social costs of these injections were – and are -- violent and unprecedented. Look at the number of ‘corrupt ‘ and ‘corrupting’ institutions we have. There are far too many of them for them not to have a social cause or a fundamental rearrangement of the values at the base of our social consciousness. Sean: Surely sociology must have more bearing on Irish society than with respect to disciplinary possibilities in the universities? Seamus: Maybe. But the universities are of primary importance. What, indeed, do you think universities are for, if it isn’t to mediate knowledge, opinion, science and understanding to an otherwise witless people. In the case of Ireland and sociology, the reverse happens. The universities are here to stop enlightenment being mediated. They are – and have been ab initio the Free State -- owned and managed by the RC church and, through the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and other similar bodies, they repress enlightenment in order to propagate the faith, their faith. There is no Harriet Martineau in Ireland who wants to make sociology an established academic discipline, but there are innumerable Buttiglione-types infesting the universities with the knowledge of the gospel. Against this medieval knowledge there is nobody I know who wants to marshal Comte’s ideas of the historical and social sciences into some order to which the intellectual repository of Irish life can relate. From my own certain knowledge the largest college in Dublin, DIT (The Dublin Institute of Criminology), with ambitions to become a university, never quite rose to distinguishing the social from the natural sciences, without which guiding light there can only be the administration of the asylum. The U.S., with an even worse grasp of history than the Irish, has come to appreciate something of the discipline of sociology. So, the application of this or that sociology to Irish concerns is already prefigured by the bigger concern of Ireland concern with the discipline as a whole… Ireland’s (The RC church’s) attitude to sociology is the same as it was to the Jews. “Don’t let it in, then you don’t have to deal with the consequences.” Sean: Well, what about Marx? Marx and Engels had much to say about the Irish. Seamus: Marx never had a bearing on Irish society. He was a talking shop for the Irish (and not so Irish), who had never seriously analysed either Irish society or Irish history (See WebPages 13 and 14). Words and borrowed notions about socialism made the Catholic Irish appear to have European and International correlates that they never really had. Marxist talk allowed us to think that we had class-monsters to hate, whereas all we could hate were English people, the AngloIrish, who were sick to death of the place (Beckett preferred to fight in France rather than vegetate in Ireland, and Joyce couldn’t run out of it fast enough), and an aristocratic church that everyone was—and is – afraid to think of in any light other than serene beauty. There was no way that the Irish ‘left’ could see its navel, much less question or comprehend a Marxian revolution. (By the way, do you know who represented Arthur Scargill in Ireland, when Margaret Thatcher sought to seize his funds internationally? Michael McDowell!) Arthur might as well have surrendered himself up to Opus Dei. But do you think such insights have any meaning or consequence for the Irish – not a jot of it!
Sean: Well, surely Durkheimian sociology resonates in Ireland. Haven’t you yourself written an exegesis on his work on crime and punishment? Seamus: It is true that Durkheim, coupled with the American Talcot Parsons, became the most loved by Maynooth and the Irish. Why? Because on the face of it, America rather than Europe was chosen by the Church to learn something of the social sciences. One couldn’t surrender to the Protestant ethic, could one? Or the brilliant Scottish social scientists? The RC church despised Marx more than they despised Darwin and Freud. So, what were they to do? At least Durkheim was safe and their infant Republican State would be protected from the ravishing questions of a Marxist type of sociology. And if such an animal as an Irish-type-sociologist appeared on the scene – and several to my personal knowledge did – they hadn’t a hope in hell of passing through the Jesuit filters in the universities. So, they emigrated, never to return to the chim -emerald oil of Saints and Saints. Moreover, and quite significantly, once you ignore Durkheim`s atheism, you almost have an Aristotelian holdall for Catholicism, at least not as anyone without a keen sense of criticism and history would notice. And who in Ireland had either! Durkheim, remember, was a Jew --- and compare in terms of belief what the Jews borrowed from Zoroastrianism with what the Christians borrowed from the Jews, and you will see the continuation of the Judaic-Christian way of being in Durkheim. You might well argue that Marx was also a Jew. True, but Marx was not a repository of Judaism as was Durkheim. On the contrary, Marx – as the Americans say – was something else. Both Durkheim and Marx were, of course, devout atheists. But once the Sociologists SJ debunked Durkheim`s atheism, they could and did quite easily adopt the rest of Durkheim`s thesis, and harnessed it in toto to the Christian weal. It then became a kind of improved version of Thomas Aquinas – a cheap if clever way of moving the RC church into modern times, especially when the move came from America through Parsons and others! Much of Durkheim is quasi mediaeval in outline, especially his conscience collective – and that’s why all the Jesuits were instant Sociologists, and every Irish university is weighed down with departments of holy roman spies. That, in effect, is what an Irish university is – they are planning on another New Golden Age, when the Irish will yet again deliver to Europe everything that Europe has long discarded. And these days even TCD is in on the act and operates the same as UCD, UCC and UCG – all unfortunate replicas of Maynooth and all green in thump and craw. Sean: Is Weber, therefore, the real challenge in our time? Seamus: I’m not convinced of it. We know that the ‘individual’ is on the march in Ireland. For the first time since the sale of Ireland by way of Laudabiliter, the Irishman is going to be individuated by the process called capitalism. But the Irishman comes to high capitalism in the same practically as the Australian aborigine or the American Indian. The jump is from third world to Anglo-America in one television/EU/generation. An Irish bourgeoisie is about to be born under the aegis of the RC church – keep an eye out for Labour’s front bench and other Opus Dei operatives – where all the parties actually discover that they are really – and always have been – set it to music – members of the same political party in the mystical body of Christ! The One True Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Brotherhood of Bourgeois Irishmen ever made anywhere! Sharing in the new privatisation of everything Irish. The RC church owns Southern Ireland: that’s why there had to be a partition – otherwise the RC church would own the whole island and everyone and everything in and on and out of it, including the Protestants. At least that was the crises scenario once portrayed by Connor Cruise O’ Brien. In the south the RC church has held total control of the Constitution and the Rules of the game. Many things have been farmed out, like the land, the air, the sea and those areas that cannot be totally controlled without the assistance of those who own or inherited the materials of the natural sciences. Otherwise the RC church has filtered out Irish law and justice through Opus Dei to its most obedient servants, the boys from the Catholic colleges with a couple of Civil Servants and the Opus boys – ex-priests and the like – to keep an eye on them. The RC church’s most docile sisters privatised childcare long ago. Irish universities by the same token were licensed out by the Jesuits to Opus Dei, who filter the recruitment of ex-priests, ex-nuns and other seconds, thirds and fourths, down the line of the hierarchy. Entry to an Irish university should read: ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here.’
Sean: Aside from these more superficial differences in respect of the application of sociology – or any particular brand of it to Irish life – is there not a much more fundamental difference to be perceived in its
resistance in Ireland? Isn’t it more important to highlight its absence in the warp and weft of Irish life than to try and delineate how this and that sociologist’s thought effects Irish development? Seamus: This is true – but absences are hard to point to. It’s like trying to recall an experience that you are not conscious of. The modern developments of the industrial revolution, which Durkheim and Marx addressed, do not appear to be part of Irish society in such measure that any of their concepts or analyses are directly applicable. And, while one could compare Northern and Southern Ireland for a resonance of the Weberian Protestant Ethic, one feels any such analysis would get bogged down in tribal antagonisms before it could be developed. This is not a simple way out of the necessity of such comparisons, but if you remember what it was like before the Republic got its ‘tiger’ from Europe, most mention of the Protestant Ethic was designed to make a tribal statement that rarely countenanced the debilitating or class consequences of progressive Northern industry.
Sean: Let us try to be more specific then -- How is the Sociologist epistemologically different to that of the other social scientists? Does the real difference between the sociologist and others rest in the method or in the subject matter employed by the Sociologist? And is it not these differences that highlight the influence the discipline has – or ought to have – on Irish society? Seamus: How one thinks (as between lawyer, economist, philosopher or sociologist) is every bit as defining as the nature of the concerns of these respective disciplines. Between the traditional manner of thinking of the lawyer and the sociologist there is hardly a meeting point, especially if we remain with practical matters. The sociologist doesn’t particularly want to know about this case or that – unless, of course, it is such a one that stands so central to so many social concerns that it cannot be denied as an object of great sociological merit from the outset.
Sean: Like the trial of Socrates? Seamus: Exactly, or the trial of Oscar Wilde, the Piggott Forgeries in the Parnell case, the case of Roger Casement, etc., etc. Or, today, for the younger folk, the trial of Michael Jackson, their idol. His trial for them is one of enormous import. It has to do with the nature of trust and betrayal – not in the ordinary or Treasonous way, but -- by way of affection. Perhaps a bit likes the trial of Socrates also. I know there is no comparison between Socrates and Michael Jackson, but I only know it in the Biblical way of academia. I do not know it otherwise. As a matter of fact the control or responsibility over the ‘beloved following’, the ‘adoring flock’, is not just Socratic, but resonates in the contempt for parents in the ‘60s, the establishment’s fear of Elvis and the Beatles, especially John Lennon, and the special position of the RC church world wide, not just in the confessional but in education and amongst children generally. These other trials, easily distinguishable from the trial of Socrates, are nevertheless cases in point: and to some extent they have more than a tinge of Victoriana about them which keeps them in a kind of category of their own, and not just because they have to do with Ireland. At a later date we have Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and a host of criminal as well as civil cases, which mark out this or that domain as typical. It isn’t just these cases, which, because of their public hype, cannot fail to become causes celebre. I was thinking of the historical meaning of the fourteenth century case of Alice Kyteler (See Webpage 2.c. Alice, the Irish Witch), the social and sociological implications of which to my mind have never been examined. Or a ton of nineteenth century – or any-century cases. Or, indeed, the case of the last hanging of a woman in Ireland, that of Mary Daly, of Doonane in 1903. Here we have the Holy Family on trial (See Webpage 10.1 Last of the Betagii). While the criminologist has a more particular concern for these matters – most of which are better left to a crime reporter – the sociologist of law is more at home if he has wider and deeper fish to fry. It is just that having referred to these matters, we need to retract from the diversion you have created by the mention of ‘the trial of Socrates’. The sociologist is more concerned to know how criminal and civil law originated, how is the law administered. Much of Rawls’ concerns with ‘distributive justice’ would be of sociological concern. How do the incidences of criminal and civil law compare and contrast with each other over Irish time? How do they compare internationally? And what is a civilising function? In other words, what is the meaning of the criminal/civil ratio? The criminologist is, of course, a sociologist with an interest in criminal matters – what is made criminal and what is not? Who is punished, and who is not? And what does it mean that if you are a Northern Terrorist you can sign up to an agreement (the NI Agreement) and walk away from murder? What kind of a society condones such things while, at the same time, punishing people for making love in public? What
kind of a society is it that pays compensation for paedophiles that are amongst the richest and most privileged and the most powerful people in the world? What kind of a Criminal Justice System do they think they have? If I say to you that you can get off with murder in Ireland – all you need is to be a member of a political party. How would you feel? Maybe we should stop asking what kind of a society Ireland North and south is – or is – and asks more pertinently, at what stage of civilisation
Sean: Two things. Your concern with linear thinking is not just confined to the lawyer, or even the psychologist or the priest, but to anyone who does not think sociologically. Secondly, for the most part you consider history, sociology and culture in terms of an Irish historical personality, don’t you? Seamus: Taking the second point first, when we speak of the creation of an Irish historical personality; I feel it must be in terms of Anglo- America that we think. And when we speak of Sociology and Irish law, they as disciplines must be in terms of that personality. In this respect, then, our first concern should be with what C. Wright Mills has called the Sociological Imagination. We might bear it in mind that a Sociological Imagination is not simply God’s gift to sociologists. Far from it: philosophers, economists, psychologists, novelists and house painters may also be blessed with it. But in general it is best understood as a discipline and distinct from those other disciplines whose domains differ from the domain of sociology.
Sean: Even the philosopher? Seamus: It is true that the philosopher, who perhaps because of the richness and historical content of philosophy, is more apt to embrace sociological concerns than those who think linearly. But this does not necessarily mean that he thinks sociologically. Having said that, however, it is quite apparent that had sociology not solved some outstanding matters of a philosophic nature, the discipline would be much less attractive or convincing. Again, it is up to the philosopher to speak for himself. Remember, most clergymen study philosophy for considerable periods, but this does not make them either philosophers or creative thinkers. It makes them priests and sometimes theologians. In some respects Aquinas (and, to a lesser extent, Aristotle) have nothing of a sociological dimension about them? The problem with thinkers in the biblical tradition is that they deny any primacy to history. They prefer biblically fixed reflective man to that of the historically reflective man. As you can see, Aquinas and even Dante -- a faithful recorder of the scientific notions of his day -- are both a long way removed from Darwin, from Marx and from sociology. Nor am I saying that either Darwin or Marx is a sociologist. Both to my mind, being special, stand outside the sociological conspectus.
Sean: Can a theologian think sociologically? Seamus: Of course he can – in the same way as you or I can think mathematically as we walk down the street, wondering how to measure the height of this house, that gable end or that church, from facts and angles measured and calculable by us without the use of a ladder. And if we have accustomed our minds to thinking in this mathematical way, then, with some training and industry, we will over time become mathematicians. Bearing the Kantian distinction (between synthetic and analytic knowledge) in mind, sociologists become sociologists in much the same way: and it is unquestionably preferable if the apprentice has a natural proclivity in the direction of his chosen avocation, or – what is much the same thing – if he is convinced that he has. It is on this point that C. Wright Mills speaks of the 24-hour sociologist as contrasted with part-time or professional others. One has to admit that there are such persons, people like Socrates, Bernard Shaw and Beethoven, who, where the pursuit of knowledge is concerned, are not perturbed in the slightest by the downpour of the Athenian rain, or the late hour in which a book must be read, or the unperturbed fascination and formulation of musical shapes and sounds, keys and cadences, eve before one note is committed to paper. These are all 24-hour-a-day men.
Sean: Convincing as this argument is, isn’t there something missing? Isn’t it somewhat absurd to think that while most sociologists are atheists – the founding fathers at any rate -- our sociological departments are all in the hands of orthodox theologians, Jesuits in fact, who are hardly in the habit of thinking sociologically, are they -- whether they do so 24 hours a day or not?
Seamus: Well, I’m already on record for calling them Holy Roman spies, so you’re question is somewhat misguided, except for this. Obviously there are people in this country who think that theologians are sociologists or can be competent ones. I do not. There was a time when they even convinced themselves (or the public, more like) that they were Marxists – and not just in Cuba! If we consider the end of theological thinking and the end of sociological thinking, we can see the error in such thinking. Remember it wasn’t until quite recently that men discovered “ that the best study of mankind is man”. In the sociologist’s case, it is social man, or society. In the hands of the theologians, the best study of mankind is and ever will be God. These two quite separate and different orientations create a great social gap – a gap that has been remedied elsewhere by civil and secular society at large, but which has been crippled in its development here by the religious. (Most of this argument is apparent from webpage 2. History/Anthropology) In antiquity the Greeks were concerned largely with Mathematics, in the middle Ages the focus turned to Theology, and in our time it looks to Sociology and the related social sciences. The RC church had its heyday in the middle ages, but unfortunately continues where it can get a foothold and, indeed, impairs development wherever it can. In Ireland it is – and has been for far too long -firmly in areas in which it is totally incompetent and has remained in usurpation with impunity and without any resistance – childcare is but one of such areas. The Bible was the blueprint for Christian knowledge, and you know how scientific (and productive of material things) that made the Irish! In effect we couldn’t scratch to keep ourselves warm. But prayer? Did we pray! We must have prayed for upwards of fifteen hundred years without changing either our minds or the tune we prayed in. And to what avail? Just to make some barren Roman celibates monstrously wealthy in the world at large! Generations of old, young and gaunt, have long since gang-aft-agley into the earth… for what? On one level, and even to the present day, the Catholic mind cannot come to terms with science; it finds science (apart from a Timony Tank) anathema; and: getting Opus Dei into all the Technological Colleges is as near to science as the faltering if grasping medieval mind can come. Fetishistically owning the technological colleges for the Opus and CORI is at one level as near to science as the Holy Roman mind can come. By stuffing the place with ex-priests and ex-nuns into the most responsible academic lacunae, frustrates any sense of secular society, but it also frustrates any hope of progress. And remember, in the Irish case, apart from the imports (Jackie Charleton again), we are talking about mere technology – never science. At another level, our distance from Sellafield is as near as we physically get to what science can do for good and ill: and, by the same token, we are fetishistically not one bit apprehensive of it. Why? Because, in our holiness (and infernal simplicity), we do not understand science. I do not want to go back to the example of Galileo to fix the Irish quandary with religion and science. Suffice it to say what is known to any Irish sociologist who is in the least speculative and in the least honest and in the least concerned is that the Catholic mind’s reaction to science is totally reactionary and since the time of Galileo has remained that way in Ireland ever since.
Sean: Maybe we’re not that great at science, but how is it possible that a theologian cannot think sociologically. For years the Jesuits have been calling themselves sociologists. Indeed, there is – or was – hardly a college in the country where they did not set up camp and control the social sciences through all those Sociologists SJ. Seamus: Precisely!
Sean: Precisely what? Are they not as qualified as anyone else to know and impart sociological insights? Seamus: No.
Sean: Why not? Is it because they are celibate -- because they have no experience of woman, or the world of family life through woman? Is that the reason? Seamus: I don’t think you should set the intimate experience of woman at nought; it is not to be underestimated, even as an epistemological means of communication. And when compared with celibacy, it is to be positively asserted --- for the first time, let me add, since the burning of Adam
Dubh O Tuathaill by the gangs of Holy Romans, which is a thousand years ago. Did you ever hear anyone in Irish life actually exhort the wonders of sex? Ever? I’m over sixty and I never heard anyone in public life actually say ‘I love sex with a woman’. It’s beyond the Catholic lexicon. So, can I join my most pagan forebears and reiterate the glory of simple sex and the horror of celibates and other self-castrati.
Sean: I’m sure these are important original observations you make, and that you suitably delight in them; but could we get back to the business at hand? Why do you say Theologians are unqualified to be Sociologists and own a private department of their own in all our would-be universities? Seamus: No; but in itself it is a very good reason for claiming that they are inadequate and possibly unhealthy as well. And if not unhealthy, at least they are biased – and must be so in their judgements. Moreover, they make very bad role models for young healthy Irish men. They are secretive, mischievous, celibate, un-forthcoming, political, manipulative, solitary and misogynist. Imagine being celibate, as a young man in your twenties? Then celibate again as a young man throughout your thirties. Year after year you forego the natural bent of your mind and body. It’s absolutely vile. And then throughout every year of your forties, you remain celibate, probably sporting a cilice or flagellating yourself and others to keep away the desire to consummate the common clay out of which we are all made. And there you stand, defiant to the end, with your prick in your hand, whistling at the wind and making your mind take turns it never dreamed of … And then, more of the same throughout your fifties, your sixties and until life’s fearful fret is finished…. Don’t tell me such a man is healthy. Don’t tell me such a man is the captain of your ship, the light of your universities, the father of your nation. Please don’t try to inspire me with the utter nonsense of the Holy Roman Imperial project. Like Ossian, Adam Dubh O Tuathail, Joyce, Edna O’Brien, Dermot Morgan, I cannot abide the bullshit! I am much too pagan to embroider these endless nonsensical snares of the Mediterranean myth. It is unfortunate that they have been introduced so universally into Irish life, such that the social sciences cannot breathe. No wonder the suicide rate is so high among young men, if these are their role models!
Sean: Ok, Ok. I am just trying to figure out why you say that a Theologian who masquerades as a Sociologist is a fraud – Seamus: Not only that, but he must needs convert everything he touches into a shelter, a hiding place for himself, wherein he can practise his mental gymnastics on an unsuspecting and uncritical subject. However shameful it may be to exclude what I would consider as a ‘proper regard’, either spiritually or sexually, for the other half of the human race – and claim to have universal truths – it is not the main trust of my argument. As I have said the theologian has no questions to ask of the world the answers to which he does not already know. He knows all about how it is made. His job is essentially one of propaganda, that is, of spreading the truth about the Gospels and the Bible. His greatest enemy is the philosopher (Kant, Nietzsche, Voltaire, and the Sociologists) as well as the scientists (like Darwin and Marx). These are his enemies for the basic reason that they question what the theologian believes he and the Bible has already answered with certainty. For the theologian God and God alone made the world. Moreover, God is the sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth and of all things, including the holocaust, the Tsunami disaster, and the aids epidemic. Moslems have a God as well, but they have the wrong God, so those who know true truth about God, the real God, the Christian God, must penetrate East Timor and elsewhere. Moreover, only the communities with the Christian God are allowed to have and to use weapons of mass destruction. Their job then, even as defined by their Church, is one of propaganda, and when – as with the Jesuits, for example – they happen to think for themselves and disagree with the Order, then they are expelled. In this very real sense individual men who are Jesuits (Sociologists SJ) are not free to hold this or that conviction; they are essentially members of a body which already believes in a set store of knowledge and their receipt and agreement with such knowledge, coupled with their oath of obedience, is a sine qua non of their membership of that Order And when they disagree, then they have to leave. It’s as simple and as savage as that. They are, rather, repulsed from the body of the Order, as heretics or other forms of banished rejects. These days, due more or less to the laws provided by secular humanists, more conciliatory pursuits are provided and ex-religious are fixed up in reasonably respectable but not too noticeably central jobs
– maybe as Teachers in colleges like DIT, UCD, UCC and even TCD. It is here that the Opus and CORI spring into action. These days they are all over the place in Ireland, especially within the Civil Servants, the Dail and Seanad, the Bar Library, and other places close to and oscillating under the long shadow that is cast between the poles of power enjoyed by Pope and Prince, by Bishop and Minister, by Episcopal and Parliamentary secretaries. Rarely do they leave to become sociologists, simply because such prominent (and in the eyes of both the hierarchy and, ipso facto, the Minister for Education, dangerous) pedagogic positions are reserved for the orthodox theologians, such as the Jesuits and the like. The free confederacy of open minds is, therefore, anathema to the Irish mind and is nowhere present in any Irish ‘university’. But if, for argument’s sake an ex-religious did become a sociologist, a necessary adjustment in his thinking would be required. Now they would have to accept --a bit like Galileo – that God is not the centre of the universe -- but rather that society is. In other words, the sociologist is concerned to enquire into a domain of knowledge, which asserts that reality is primarily sociocentric, whereas the theologian is dogmatically concerned with spreading his received knowledge about the certainty of a Theo-centric world. The one is quite contrary and for most upright purposes irreconcilable and mutually exclusive.
Sean: I see the distinctions you are making -- a socio-centred world is quite apposite a Godcentred world in ways that cannot be denied by mere words or descriptions. If I believe in a supernatural force – much less a supernatural personal God – I cannot explain phenomena, social or personal, in terms of such a supernatural force as well as in social terms, for both not only contradict each other, but conflict with each other with respect to the manner one ought to proceed in one’s enquires as well as the type of solution one seeks to arrive at. I know what you are saying and I cannot fault it. I just think it needs enormous embroidery to sell to the ordinary man. Remember the common man has had the pulpit in his ears time out of mind. He cannot hear new things and he certainly hasn’t the time to think for himself. The most one can say about Ireland is that because class has never been realised, the common man is equidistant from the pulpit as are the more privileged stratified groups. And while this has a false equality about it, in that being equidistant means simply that – it does not mean that the message is elevated to the higher order of class-consciousness or those materialist concerns that define class-content. On the contrary, the message is pre-capitalist and, by definition, more primitive. When class dawns and classconsciousness follows, the equi-distances of the church gives way to further aisles and absences, to hardening interests, secret societies gathered outside the church and removed to the sacristy and other venues set by the Bishops, the Army and the King, if there is one. But while the distances between the classes grows, the subject matter of their concerns becomes more materialistic and more real, such that the equi-distance of a former religious age – as the Irish still experience in their parishes – is seen and known and acknowledge in a body of thought and consciousness that knows it to be more simple and primitive – a state in which they, the unprivileged groups, see themselves as exploited, as against the privileged groups gathered around the polarities of power who enjoy the spoils , sacred spoils, of their exploitations. Which makes one think, sometimes, that established truth is not more than the beefed up repetition of eternal lies by those who have the wherewithal to repeat and repeat and repeat the same old dead Biblical arguments. By the way, what do you mean by ‘upright purposes’? Seamus: Like any good common-law or cannon-law lawyer, one knows one can twist and turn anything into its Protean opposite very easily, and the clergy are gifted in this cannon-law tradition of twisting things as they please. They are so adept, indeed, that I am sure there will be a body that will convince themselves that God and Society are -- and always have been -- one and the same thing, and that the Bible actually confirms it. Certainly the Irish clergy can say and get away with anything – and I think I know how and why they can do it. Some of them, despite the defectors at Uxbridge, even claimed Marx for the Christian cause, and they have bandied Joyce about as well. To my mind none of it is upright or authentic.
Sean: I don’t like being sidetracked but I have to hear why it is that you think you know why people – especially the clergy – can say anything in Ireland and get away with it? Seamus: It’s a question of time?
Sean: This should be good! What on earth has time got to do with it? Seamus: Interesting that you should say ‘what on earth?’ The words themselves have a time dimension to them and while the original meaning of the expression I can’t immediately fathom, I bet it has something to do with ‘What on Earth – and not in Heaven’ or ‘What on Earth –and not in Hell, in Space, in Other Time’ or something to that effect.
Sean: This gets better! You’re pulling my other leg now, aren’t you? Seamus: No. Heidegger (and Wittgenstein) had this idea about the absolute origin of words and the irreplaceable notions that then attach to them. From this we know the obvious fact that time enters our behaviour as judgment, in that whether we are totally conscious of it or not, we know mortality in the various degrees to which age affects us. The child doesn’t really care about his parents. If you take a two- or a ten-year-old, give him plenty of ice cream and make their lives as comfortable as they were, they are apt to assume you as their parents and not so gradually accept you as such. The life force in the young is really strong and focuses forth, as if there is no death or mortality in sight. Children in this sense also move between rooms; they never quite move between countries. So, you see, one has to be adult, educated and refined to suffer the real sense of loss when someone close to us dies. A child is immune from this. It is only the more humanised adults – those who feel what has gone behind and what is in store -- who feel the full brunt of mortality. So, too, to confront another culture can be a trial and an ordeal for cultured adults. Children just move their toys and their dollies into the next room and are really enamoured at their new environment – not totally or forever, but in general!
Sean: What on earth has that to do with an explanation of why people in Ireland can say the most outlandish things with impunity? Seamus: Because the Christian religion is the dominant mode of thought in the Republic of Ireland (and Northern Ireland as well), there is a this-world/next-world polarity always at work. And since the next world is valued sometimes moreso than this world, those who share the same or a similar this-world/next-world syndrome can understand irrational things said about this world with this polarity of worlds in mind. In this inexplicit way they understand them to be rational.
Sean: Examples! Examples! Seamus: During the Great Famine when Irish people were eating grass to survive, do you know what John O Donnell -- the brother of the broth-of-a-boy himself -- said ?
Sean: No, what did the brother of the broth-of-a-boy say? Seamus: He said: “ I am proud to belong to a nation of people who would rather starve than steal” And not too long ago didn’t our own wee President say something unusual about Protestants and Nazis, at a commemoration ceremony of the Nazi Holocaust victims no less. The difference between both statements is that the first was false poppycock arising out of religious poppycock, while the other was true poppycock arising out of being momentarily and not intellectually moved.
Sean: Elaborate, please. I thought there might be some truth in her statement, but it was otiose to compare Northern Protestants with Nazis. Seamus: Well, which is the more otiose, her comparison of Northern Protestants with the Nazis, or her ignorance of the part played by the Catholic church in the Holocaust and after – despite the
number of Catholics who were also sacrificed, as in Dachau! She seems to be unaware of the fascist origins in Franco’s Spain and the treacherous role of the Spanish Catholic Church in bringing back their pit-bull general to sort out the anarchists. Trust the RC church to betray the people! Moreover, President McAleese seems singularly unaware of the measures taken by the RC church to repatriate the Third Reichers. Something else: it is curious that no one so far as I am aware has mentioned anything about the Catholic church in Austria. Under some misleading sense of sanitation, a crowd called ‘Juventum’ – or some such name – went out during the 30s and 40s and took the children off the gypsies on ‘moral’ grounds – in very much the same way as the Nazis – and refused into the seventies to allow the children to know or contact their parents. And if it hadn’t been for the revelations made by Stern, who eventually took up the case of the Austrian gypsies, we would never have known of this. I remember a full television programme about it and the shocking similarity in Catholic attitudes at the time to those of Nazi Germany. It was only after a great struggle with the Catholic authorities that Stern Magazine broke the obdurate back of Catholic resistance to releasing any identifying papers for these children – then adults. What business the Catholic Church had in treating people so callously is only part of the picture of its imperialist and immoral mission. It’s a pity Mrs McAleese had not seen this account of the Catholic church in Austria before she condemned our -- and her --Northern Protestant liberators!
Sean: I expect that it must have been quite painful for the Protestant Northerner, to have to hear that from a Roman Catholic (from the North, but come South to seek her Buttiglione fortune) – the black Protestants who opened their veins and let their blood like run like water -- to keep us speaking Latin rather than German! Seamus: The Holy Roman mind is something else! Personally I think she was just moved, made a mess of what she wanted to say, and then compounded it by standing firm, then capitulating like a deck-of-cards. But none of this was as bad as her ignorance of the role of the Christian conquest in the Holocaust. There used to be a running argument in the New Statesman concerning the Christian nature of the Holocaust. I don’t think anyone in the end had any doubts of it s Christian – almost Witchcraft and heretic origins. And that’s what makes Mary McAleese’s statements so hurtful. You see, being Irish she has no history; they did the same thing to her own race, but she couldn’t possibly conceive of that…. Buttiglione, Buttiglione, Buttiglione… It is the Southern Catholic that should be more offended by Mary McAleese than the Northern Protestant….
Sean: I want to go back to our argument. On the one hand you say that sociology is no more than the work of a good detective with a historical nose and a modern sense of social morals. But you exclude Theologians from the sociological imagination; you also dismiss lawyers, economists and psychologists. How can you do that? Seamus: Caution. I do not dismiss them entirely. It really depends upon how they approach their discipline. Put simply, a group of children come into the room and each has the same toy tractor under his armpit. You ask the first one: ‘What is it you have there?’ Child 1 replies. “ It is a Christmas toy made of 2 part tin, three parts clay, one part copper, etc., etc.” Child 2 replied to the same question: ‘It is a toy gift which my father purchased for money or for money’s worth, the same he alienated to me by way of gift on the occasion of my birthday.’ Child 3 replied: ‘it is the gift I have always wanted; because when I grow up I am going to be a farmer, like my grandfather. And I have stopped bed-wetting since I received the tractor.’ Child 4 replied: ‘it is a toy tractor that my parents gave me for my birthday. They gave it to me to encourage the circulation of money in our little economy’ Child 5 replied: ‘ It is a gift from God’. Child 6 replied: ‘It is the gift that made me and my parents so happy that now I am going to have a sister.’ Child 7 replied: ‘ It is an imaginary toy representing a gift that is used to frame a fictional question in order to demonstrate some moral or other for your friend, Sean.’ Now, which of these 7 children, do you think, answered the question?
Sean: Obviously, they all answered. Seamus: But which of them answered exhaustively, such that when he answered there were no further questions that one could ask him regarding his tractor?
Sean: None answered exhaustively, if, indeed, there is such a thing, except in Hegelian logic. Children 1 to 5 respectively answered as one might expect a natural scientist, a lawyer, a psychologist, an economist, and a theologian to answer. Child 6 is remarkably precocious and must be the sociologist. Seamus: Why?
Sean: Because he answers in terms of his society. Being a child, his society is predominantly Mom, Dad, him and his new sister. But the last child, child 7 has me stumped. Who or what is he meant to represent? Seamus: Child 7 is unusually precocious. He gave us an answer that was not so much the truest answer – for they all answered truthfullybut he did answer more circumspectly, more conscious of what he was being asked as well as who and why he was being questioned. He was in a word more philosophic because he not only thought like the others about giving an answer to the question but, unlike the others, he was reflective of what it was he was doing when he was answering. It wasn’t enough for him to answer the question in the ordinary way, but he was reflective of the activity that surrounded it. Child 7 is a philosopher.
Sean: I see what you mean. At least when compared with the other answers, we can distinguish quite clearly between them. And as, I am sure, you intended, each child answers in terms of a scientific discipline. Seamus: Precisely. But none of them answer for sociology, except child 6 and he did so with reference to a child’s society, that is, his family. We could also have child 8 answering in terms of all the foregoing answers, with one exception. Child 8 could add all the other answers together in an all inclusive way and to some extent this is open to children 6 and 7 to do likewise, but children 6 and 7 cannot at a real level incorporate the answer of child 5. It will also be observed that Child 5, the theologian, can, of course, incorporate all the other answers, but as we demonstrate hereafter, he cannot conceptually or really acknowledge the supremacy both of society and God at the same time. He must chose to be either a sociologist or a theologian, but not both at the same time – as most Irish theologians do. And they do it because the can do it. They have made sure that there is no Pulpit, academy, school, or social space, left for anybody else to contradict them. Two further points arise: 1. If we rank ordered these disciplines not so much in terms of their excluding logics as their widening and more inclusive capacity of conceptualisation, we would find that Child 5, the theologian had the widest concept -- not the most sensuous concept, as in some Hegelian logic, but the widest or most inclusive. This is so because, if we do not organise ‘God’ into an organised religious way, we have a holdall for ‘everything-and-nothing.’ Every organisation of this concept ‘ God’ is a lie and an appropriation, not least because we all know, do we not, that there can be no ‘God’ separable from the concept of ‘God’? For sociology, then, there is no ‘God’, only the concept of ‘God’. 2. Sociology is not an organisation of God, but an explanation of Him in philosophic, historical and social terms. Finally, Sean, let me ask you a question.
Sean: Certainly. Seamus: What should we call Child 9 who replies: ‘This tractor is a toy given to me by Santa Claus.
Sean: You are, of course, talking for every child in Christendom. Indeed, you might be talking about Christendom. Seamus: What’s your answer?
Sean: There is only one answer: he’s a liar! Seamus: There is an alternative.
Sean: What? Seamus: He is a child.
Sean: Meaning? Seamus: He is a child. He is the receptive vessel of received wisdoms – as in education --, some of which are simply downright lies.
Sean: Now that I know what you mean by the sociological imagination, could we get back to the application of sociology to Irish crime. Although what you say has great reason to it, I still need to know in what measure a lawyer or a priest or a psychologist is wrong in their habitual accounts of crime? Seamus: If we talk about this crime, this murder, this rape, everyone can have a justified opinion, the lawyer as to the legalities involved and the requirements of a State prosecution, etc; the priest as to the immorality of the act and consequences; the psychologist as to the psychic trauma and, indeed, as to the makeup of the perpetrator as well as the effects upon the victim. We can see this kind of rationale quite clearly. Mind you, even at this discrete level of crime, the respective foci can be accommodated, but they still remain within their own domains. So whatever explanation of crime is anticipated from such discrete disciplinary accounts, they still remain somewhat impoverished. That’s why over the past thirty years there has been a cry for multiple-disciplinarity in criminology. Put another way, none of these disciplines can individually explain this crime or that, and if they could they certainly cannot explain an infinitely more complex phenomena dealing with crime rates, mortality rates, marriage rates, etc. in terms of either religion, psychology, law or economics (although economics or political economy would be closest). A rate is something quite different from the incidents of which they are made, and if these disciplines could explain them, then there would be no need for sociology, or an explanation in terms of all of these things synchronised intelligently. A crime rate is not amenable to personal or an individual explanation. And where it is, you can rest assured that you are not seriously coming to terms with the subject matter. Moreover, where, as in Ireland, the religious influence is overwhelming, one can appreciate the overall antagonism against any form of social science. Organised religion is a narcissistic flower and will, ever and always, protect itself by attracting only itself or similar types to its court. Moreover, organised religion or its allies shall never explain social phenomena – poverty, suicide, violence, Northern Ireland, marriage, divorce, etc –in terms of social phenomena and, therefore, are themselves more at one with the problem than with any possible solution. Why economics is less inimical to criminology than the other social sciences is because of its dexterity in dealing otherwise with social phenomena. Moreover, economists, unlike the general run of lawyers and priests, are numerate and anticipate a quantitative and action-orientated reality. There is also the fact that economics -- especially macroeconomics -- is for all intents and purposes sociological in character. As a matter of fact, it is a poor sociologist who has not studied economics, although the reverse is not invariably true. Sean: Yes, I can see where we are going a little clearer now. But the differences need to be lead out, don’t they? Seamus: Yes, and even then they are not total or complete. It is sufficient to understand, I think, that the psychoanalyst, is primarily concerned to restore the patient’s psyche back to health, or, in any event, to have him liberate himself from the infantile or experiential blockages that cause the instant pathology. He is not concerned with rates of psychological pathology – at least not
generally or professionally. And if you are a lawyer, you are equally involved with the proof of guilt against this defendant. Of course you may have much more to say, but you will not ordinarily be able to explain a crime rate or a suicide rate by reference to either some defendant’s guilt or some patient’s pathology. Another dimension is required, and that all depends upon the person involved. So with all social phenomena, as distinct from personal phenomena or personal thoughts of social phenomena – like the suicide rate, crime rates, and the like – they can’t be explained with reference merely to my psychological concerns. The discipline of examining social phenomena arises, as you have said, out of the customary and habitual practices of the discipline of sociology. Neither would it be necessary or sufficient if the theologian explained soccer mania with reference to the Bible or to God. Such an explanation would, of course, be necessary and sufficient for him as theologian, he being a believer. Sean: I see where you are going. You are back again where you were: social phenomena, or sociological phenomena, ought to be explained in terms of social phenomena? Seamus: Yes. Sean: And that’s why sociologists are required in the universities. It is your concern also to affirm the poverty of Irish colleges because of the inordinate control religious groups has on curricula, appointments, and on successive Ministers for Justice, Education, etc? Seamus: Yes. Far too often the RC church exhibits a terrible ignorance – sometimes an insufferable if strategic obscurantism -- in the main areas of enquiry and an unspeakable negligence in the areas of social engineering, that is, the areas in which government ought actually to govern. We are all too painfully aware of the Reformatory and Industrial schools, but few if any are aware of the ordinary schools and the church’s accepted face of universal brutality. If you forget about aids/contraceptives in Uganda, and nearer home take the general topic of ‘ crime in Limerick’. It is as if the ‘departments of criminology/sociology’ are as utterly useless and silent here as they were with Church and State corruption. They are so phlegmatic, so uncritical, so uninformed, so uninvolved, so foreign, so privileged, so ‘academic’, so paralysed, and so-so empty! Sean: They really annoy you! Seamus: Yes; they do; they are so smug and at the same time so indifferent or ignorant – I’m not sure which? They wallow in the pious prickery of Irish academia. Anyone who knows anything about Limerick will know of the disproportionate distribution of wealth as between the old ‘working class’ areas (depicted a little by Angela’s Ashes, but well known to the police and criminal lawyers) and the new bourgeoning Irish (and imported) ‘middle class’. The gap between tribal Ireland (the Cathedral) and the nouveau riche (the Castle) may be a new gap, but it is not the criminal gap. The real gap lies still between the guy standing up with a crucifix and the guy kneeling before him. No social mobility can exist here; it is a medieval relationship. Between the allpowerful priest and the all enslaved penitent there is no movement because there is nothing by way of a social ladder or the division of labour between them. This is the awful medieval gap in modern Limerick. Crime is its statement – a statement concerning the gap, their place in the universe, not just the universally corrupt Irish universe, but the Bertie/Blair/Bush universe as well. But to use the contorted language of the time, even if we accept something that approximates a Limerick middle class, there is no middle class like it, simply because it is never quite makes the grade as a middle class. There is just poor and enormously rich, powerless and enormously powerful: that’s all: and both are recently self-realised in a most remarkably confrontational Angela’s-Ashes’- way. We just use the phrase middle class or bourgeoisie to give it a European reference. But even this is to be grande in ways that Limerick isn’t Grande. But it would be wrong to skirt any outward analysis of Limerick’s crime problem without understanding the role of religious ignorance in a secular society (or a society pretending to be secular) as well as the expression of all these frustrations in the modern felt need for drugs. The personal need for drugs in Limerick, on the estates, is tremendous. The ostensible headline-catching crime occurs in the management of the felt need for drugs and the geography of that need. It is built upon the city’s plan for the poor and unemployed of the city. The newly enriched of Limerick are not really organically part of the society of Limerick. I don’t think Limerick
is a ‘society’. Like the rest of Ireland, it approximates the horde as much as the herd, and the Church, which is its total base, is an aristocratic throwback trying still to look mendicant. But for the purposes of argument (for we can find no terms suitable to describe Limerick accurately. No dictionary of the social sciences can describe that stratification (or ‘class’) that has occurred so late in the twentieth century. And even if we call it the sudden growth of the middle class, with an immediate conscious response on the part of the otherwise working class, we have to concede that there is no middle class so raw as that which is newly hatched, hatching, and to come… Yet, given these circumstances, any notion of sociological analysis is reserved to the most inexpert, usually to irate judges, anxious lawyers, penitential priests, partial reporters, silent and ignorant criminologists appointed by the Opus, and a department of Justice, etc., whose view of the Criminal Justice System is so abstract, (we have it in book-form), that it satisfies every thing that an Irish leprechaun could wish for. I think the department of Justice is an extension of the Bishop’s house and that has never recovered from the days of Berry-Berry. I think they’re all gentlemen there: a new breed of old saints who want to be scholars, or is it the other way around! Sean: You’re saying they could surely have done something about Limerick – maybe with a pinch of the money they spend on being nouveau riche. Seamus: In the social sciences, money is neither a problem nor an issue – save in so far as it determines the basic class unfairness that the Irish are inevitably, unalterably, and uncontrollably experiencing. Class, in the climate of Anglo-America, has to realise itself in Ireland! Otherwise, we will be talking medieval nonsense for another fifteen hundred years, while our offspring do themselves to death. And even if it is unbearably, hideously, ugly, petty, and puisne, it is the central theme of Irish life right now. In that sense, of course money is important. But otherwise, that is, as we address what this petty and puisne class could be doing while they are working towards their new middle-class status, is deflating and removing the social tensions in Limerick. And if they can for a moment get the primitive church and its ridiculous and obscurantist views off their back, they can come up with a million ways of relieving that tension. Then Limerick can begin on a history of its own; there may even be Irish talk between Irish men that does not come censored the way of the pulpit or any other Roman way, the way Biddie Early existed, the way Mackay and Ringy hurled – directly, paganly, humanly, action-orientedly towards the society that is in pain. Limerick belongs to someone, but apart from the priests, who now run in silence after the mess they created in Hospitals, Schools, Parliament, etc., I don’t think anyone knows who that someone is. The young are seizing and emptying the vacuum, and the lacuna created in 1603, since the Parish Priests took the place of the native chieftains has come back to haunt Limerick. I cannot imagine the middle ground the Cathedral and the hovelled streets. There are no Limerick men who act as a role model for either the people or the county. Priests have been doing it for ages, at their own behest, because they have driven everyone else away, and they are essentially misleading and inauthentic. So, who else is there, who identifies with Limerick men, Limerick history, Limerick in the raw and in the splendid, and is not at the same time a newly made up keep-a-way-from-me millionaire lawyer or inauthentic Priest?
Sean: Whom do you suggest one can read on these matters? Seamus: What a wonderfully primitive suggestion. It should be followed by: Is there anyone Irish who understands anything Irish? If we had authors of our own, then we wouldn’t have the obsolete church we have. Nor would we be in the mess we are in. Nor would you be asking for someone to read. We, as ever, are in uncharted waters, and the church-made paddles we have are as useless as the deadwood they are made of.
Sean: But how is Limerick different than elsewhere? Seamus: Only at the margins, and in matters of focus and emphasis. Otherwise it is no different that elsewhere in Ireland. It’s just that in asking that question, there is an implicit assumption that ‘elsewhere’ is somehow better or less violent. And that is what is meant by ‘at the margins’, and ‘matters of focus and emphasis.’ Put it another way, in Limerick there is nothing that is sacred, no value to which the people as a whole can point and say: ‘Ah1 Yes! That is off limits, for we all
unanimously agree that that is sacred.’ Now, it may be a game, like the Munster Final, or a graveyard, or a group of persons, or Sean-nos singers, or whatever. Such might constitute a fundamental vale, or set of values that Limerick people share at the level of the sacred. But there is nothing sacred in Limerick, neither life nor death nor religion nor money nor authority nor love nor hate, or anything that we know of. Why? Because there is nothing sacred amongst the Irish. Our church is rotten, and the buggers get off because they are Holy our State is rotten and the robbers get off because no one can catch them. Not all the talking shops in Dublin can put away one sharp operator. And the whole ensemble is rotten, because you can even kill the State’s men, and each Irish government will do a deal. We are not repulsed by the sacred priest buggering our children – neither are the bishops. If we were repulsed by that crime, there is no way on this earth that we would pay for their damages or allow them to bend the criminal justice system or to go without ‘naming and shaming’; them, no matter how much catholic criminologists and the department of Justice, etc want it that way. Neither are we repulsed by murder or capital murder; because if we were then no one would get off because they merely belonged to a political party. So, you see, we are not really a society; we are some kind of horde that has served the Holy Roman Empire, but has never developed our own garden. We have no discourse with ourselves, either with Protestants or with Catholics inter se. All Irish discourse comes through the Pulpit and is necessarily a homily. And the only dog to bark is Holy Roman. In such circumstances, any discourse is of necessity secular. And this, under the auspices of the church, has never been allowed to happen. And even today the Opus is back in to stop and curtail its development. We not only have nothing sacred among us, but we cannot freely talk to each other. This isn’t just Limerick; it is Ireland: and Limerick is just the small place where we can see it happen most. And the response is every bit as acculturated as the need for drugs and drug-gangs; it is the response of the Christian conquest, the priest, the judge, the lawyer, and the journalist.
Sean: Surely they are not all as barren as you make them out to be. I know that when you speak of the sciences you really refer to science as it applies to the Catholic mind, or, more accurately, as the Catholic mind approaches science. The Protestants have not problems here, and whether we distinguish between the natural sciences and the social sciences, the Protestants come up trumps. Moreover, Protestantism in general has no difficulty with philosophers either. Consequently, Irish culture for the Protestant mind means something much richer and more malleable and alive than it does for the Catholic. Surely the sciences have not passed Catholic Ireland by completely?
Seamus: But now you bring in a more difficult question. The Catholic mind, being a-historical and being medieval, has enormous difficulties with any notion of history. That’s why I said (exaggeratedly, of course) that the secret of the Irish – meaning the Irish Catholic – is that we have no history. It is not just the notion of history that is the problem, but also the fact of history. Those societies who experienced a Renaissance, a Reformation and an Industrial Revolution didn’t just learn how to produce greater wealth from an augmented division of labour; they had to evolve historically to both the appreciation of materialism as well as the division of labour that facilitated such a development. In these processes, therefore, we have the development of new personalities; for generations do not succeed each other as clones, or if they do, they do not leave the world as clones. Your grandfather, whatever his and your beliefs, had a personality that is totally different from you – and not just because of time, but because of the moving parts of society that neither you can understand for him, nor could he envisage for you. And you understand your father at the same distance as your son will understand you, but neither of you will understand the social circumstances of your lives in the same way. When the Catholic mind, as a social construct, meets the modern world, it is afraid of science. And that is partially why Opus Dei went into operation – but Opus Dei suffers from even greater infirmities than the regular church in this regard. That’s why they can own the colleges of technology, own the banks and infiltrate all our institutions; but, in truth, they merely privatise our public institutions by trying to govern them with cadres of secret-society incompetents. And this is precisely the response of the Catholic mind to the natural and social sciences – ownership and control without accountability or creativity. Put another way, when the Catholic mind leaves its medieval base, the most it can envisage by way of ‘freedom’ or ‘development’, is the exchange of goods and services – and even here it has to relax so many of its rules and regulations that it can hardly digest the new circumstances. It is a lot like a primitive communist country that never quite faces it condign dissolution: so it hangs on to power
by meshing everything in order to slow it down to the requirements of its own digestive tracts. Unlike communism, it won’t face the music of destruction and rebirth; it prefers the denial and barrenness of the a-historical Bible. And even when the countries or societies it dominates, perforce of necessity, move forward on the ladder of production, the Catholic mind resists it, and its most secular or daring parts, when given free rein, can, nevertheless, only abide by small gradations of change in the direction of the free confederacy of services. The larger notion of laissez faire capitalism is still too much to cope with. The Catholic mind is therefore organically prevented from travelling too far along the line of consumer or productive freedom. The most it can do is attract to itself nearby fellow travellers. It can only make pacts with those who are not too forward or too backward from its contemporaneous position. It must of necessity attract people to whom it is ethically disposed. In this sense the Catholic mind can only attract the mediocre mind after the fashion of The Dermot MacMurrough Syndrome.
Sean: But what then about Irish people who aren’t Catholic or Protestant? Seamus: Such persons are still going to have the institutional problems that the Christian conquest lobbies have created in the work place, the schools, the civil service, etc. Although these institutional things don’t go away – you may be an Irish atheist, but if you listen to RTE, you are still going to hear the Angelus. So, whether you are free in your own mind or not, does not allow you to escape the norms and rules and regulations set up by the dominant religious interests. The only consolation for such people is in their own knowledge. If they have set themselves free from the dominant norms, then they are clever enough to acknowledge it, and some, by being perfectly silent or diplomatic, may even rise to whatever great social heights there are available in Irish society. So far as I am aware, however, the Opus wouldn’t be long about tracing their religious pedigree. So, their diplomacy and tact, if they are unorthodox, would want to have begun at a rather early age – and what’s more awful, would have to be sustained as a lie throughout their entire lives. Who would want advancement at such a price or under such conditions? On this reasoning, then, we may be assured that those who have risen in the ranks of Irish society are not atheists and are genuine believers and, indeed, zealous of the values cultivated and inculcated by the established church (as).
Sean: But on another level, is there anyone we can look to relieve us of these awful contrasts? There must be someone we can read, who can alleviate us of the worst aspects of being Irish? I’m serious. Seamus: If we have to go foreign, wouldn’t Freud be a start?
Extract from A Description Of The Criminal Justice System, 1950-80 Population and Litigation, 1950-1980 (Extract from Chapter 1 of 7. Crime and Punishment in Twentieth Century Ireland Volume 2: A Description Of The Criminal Justice System (CJS), In general the population within the national jurisdiction fell from 3.2 million in 1901 to 2.8 million in 1966. Since then it has tended to increase to 3.4 million in 1981. The total volume of litigation in the courts per thousand of population has, in general tended to fluctuate upwards. (Table I.I) More particularly, it can be estimated that cases contemplating litigation increased from 229,190 in 1936 to 626,297 in 1979, an increase represented an increase per thousand of population from 77 litigiable cases in 1936 to 186 in 1979. Year 1981 (and 1980) is somewhat unrepresentative when compared with earlier years and marks for this period the nadir of litigation in the High Court with the hitherto unprecedented issuance of almost 32,000 summonses at that time.
It must be emphasised that Table I.I is not a record of cases heard annually by the courts; it is rather an estimate of conflicts arising between citizens inter se and the State, in which a judicial determination of these conflicts is contemplated. Courts, Estimates and Jurisdictions. In general the courts exercise three broad jurisdictions, namely, the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court. Each of these courts is controlled by appropriate rules, and each exercises a civil as well as a criminal jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the lower courts from the point of view of legal practice and procedure is quite limited; its numbers are used here simply because of its numerical preponderance and statistical convenience. 1. The High Court. The litigation-estimate of High Court is based upon the number of summonses (Plenary, Summary and Special) issued for selected years. As such they are a gross exaggeration of the number of cases actually heard in any given year. Nevertheless, the hierarchical and proportion-ate nature of the several jurisdictions is apparent in Table I.I. With the exception of 1979 and 1981, and given the increase in number of summonses issued since 1961, the jurisdiction of the High Court accounts for less than 2% of all cases litigated. 2. The Circuit Court. The litigation-estimate for the Circuit Court, based on the number of ‘new cases entered in each Circuit Court’, accounts for an increase of 22,964 cases between 1936 and 1979, that is, an increase of 1549%+. Between 1979 and 1981 Circuit Court litigation almost doubled in an unprecedented manner. Between 1936 and 1979 the court’s share of litigation has remained stable at not less than 5% and not more than 3% of all litigation. 3. The District Court. By far the greatest volume of litigation occurs in the lower or District Courts. The administrative work in this jurisdiction, with the exception of 1981, has remained at a constant high level of over 90% of all cases annually listed. Between 1936 and 1979 annual litigation increased from 210,144 to 576,123 cases, an increase of 365,979 or 174%. This estimate is based on the number of ‘charges, summonses, processes and applications entered for hearing’ in each level year. Of course the jurisdiction of the respective courts changes from time to time in accordance with the hierarchy of cases litigated. Throughout the seventies, for example, when inflation was raging the District Court jurisdiction was, broadly speaking, limited in civil matters to £250, the Circuit Court to £2,500, and damages in excess of £2,500 (except by consent of the parties) had to be sought in the High Court. These jurisdictional limits, fixed by the Courts Act 1971, bore little or no relation to the increasing inflation-ary conditions operative throughout the seventies. Consequently, between 1974 and 1979, for example, High Court summonses issued and Circuit Court cases entered for hearing respectively increased by 10%. And between 1979 and 1981, a short period of two years, High Court summonses almost trebled while Circuit Court cases increased by 63.6% Understandably, therefore, the latest change in jurisdiction under the Courts Act, 1981, expanded these jurisdictions. The District Court jurisdiction was increased generally to a ceiling of £2,500, a tenfold increase in jurisdiction; the Circuit Court’s jurisdiction was increased generally £15,000, leaving claims in excess of £15,000 to the jurisdiction of the High Court. This meant that the 50 thousand civil cases ordinarily arising in the Circuit Court (as in 1981) thereafter fell to the jurisdiction of the District Court. It also meant that a considerable, if incalculable, number of High Court cases simultaneously, though not commensurately, fell to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court. This reshuffle of jurisdiction also means that when the backlog of cases pending in the High and Circuit Courts in 1982 had been dealt with, pressures on both these jurisdictions – particularly on the High Court, where long delays in getting cases on for hearing was becoming the norm – were relaxed until inflation again enhanced a substantial number of actions ordinarily arising in the District Court and drove them again into the Circuit and High Court jurisdiction. Apart from the interest, which legal practitioners and administrators might have in this major reshuffle, it also holds an interest for court personnel and, more indirectly, the public at large. Any redefinition of jurisdictions contains a converse effect. While the higher courts are relieved of excess pressure, the lower courts are obliged to administer the added and cumulative workload. And notwithstanding the resistance of the District Court clerks to operating the provisions of the new Courts Act, and the High Court’s concern to have the law implemented, there is a third dimension, which needs to be noted. As administrative work in the lower courts increased, particularly the number and volume of cases allocated for trial in those courts, there is an
assumption that, ceteris paribus, the average case heard must be dealt with more expeditiously than heretofore. On this reasoning deterioration in the quality of cases heard must necessarily ensue. We shall have occasion to return to this aspect of lower court pressure more than once throughout this enquiry. For the moment, however, we will try and describe the incidence of litigation. The Rate of Jurisdictional Litigation As we have already stated, the rate or litigation per thousand of population rose form 77 (in 1936) to 203 (in1981). This is a national rate, and, like all general notions, it tells us little about how the incidence of litigation is distributed and less about the causes of its increase. Obviously, to test any litigation or, indeed criminal theory, we need to know more about the composition and distribution of litigation cases. But because of the poverty of the material available, the most we can do at this juncture is to describe some demographic movements and their possible connection with litigation. The Republic at the time was divided up into 23 District Court areas and 8 circuits. The District Court returns, however, gave no information as to their geographical composition. As a result therefore, we must fall back on the Circuit Court figures, and these are very limited. All we can hope to do, then, is sketch a partial outline of litigation in terms of possible industrial development. Although the State substantially intervenes in the economy, the Constitution countenances a freeenterprise system. The population, within these outer limits, are thereby induced and self propelled to maximise their own selected individual and group economic interests. From this it can be broadly inferred that the demographic features of Irish society are, at any given time, no accident. Indeed, it is to be nationally expected that the population will follow the uneven composition, combination and distribution of capital itself. And since we have two dominant forms of capital, land (requiring a lower division and intensity of labour) and industry (requiring a higher division and intensity of labour), it follows that in population terms the former must decrease with the onset of the latter. On the basis that the formation of capital, in effecting job-prospects, ultimately affects Irish demographic movements, and that the movements of capital as well as people affects the incidence of litigation, we can describe the incidence of litigation in terms of very broad demographic shifts. Until recently Irish society was characterised by high emigration, that is, the reproduction of people in excess of productive requirements. Roughly speaking, less than half a million people emigrated between 1950 and 1962. Assisted by the Land Commission, whose activities range from those of a rent-fixing body, to a tenant-purchasing agency, and increasingly to a ‘great purchaser and distributor of land mainly for the relief of rural congestion’, 9,000 persons per annum left the land between 1961-66 and 9,9000 left per annum between 1966-74. During this period, therefore, the dispossessed had one of two broad options – emigration or urbanisation. Further, with the increasing combination of industrialised capital, just like the concentration of land capital, not only does more property go to fewer, if more efficient, hands, but also Irish labour, with a high dependency ratio, must increasingly lock future generations into urban employmentexpectations. Despite former emigration, “a proportional status quo has been maintained over the past 20 years between the Dublin area and the next 19 towns in the national hierarchy; but although comparability in growth rates has occurred, the absolute size disparity between Dublin and the major provincial cities has increased substantially”.23 And since the Government’s Regional Policy envisages (since 1972) at least the “development of Dublin to be such as to accommodate the natural increase of its existing population”24, a constant or increasing return of litigation to the scale of urbanisation is to be expected. By 1990, according to the most recent forecasts, Dublin County should rise to a population of 1,140,500. The fastest rate of increase is forecast for Dublin County (i.e. a rate of 4.4% per annum compared with a national average of I.I). Litigation on the eight circuits reflects in an inexact manner this national demographic phenomenon (Table I.2). These figures comprise the only court statistics available on this issue – that is, except for the crime statistics, which also demonstrate the urbanised nature of litigation. Between 1946 and 1979 the Dublin rate of litigation – always above the national rate – increased over four fold, while the remaining circuits, excepting the Eastern and South Eastern (and Western
which starts from the smallest base) hardly doubled. For years 1966/71//79 the Dublin circuit accounted progressively for 27.65, 28.65 and 29.25 of the national population and simultaneously accounted for 45.5, 53.45 and 51.15 of all Circuit Court litigation. In 1966 the combined Dublin, Eastern and South Eastern Circuits represented 51.2% of the population and 66% of the Circuit Court litigation; in 1979 they represented 53.9% of the population and 69.5& of Circuit Court litigation. But another way, if w e compare these eastern and industrialised Circuits with the other five, we find in aggregate that the litigation rate per thousand of population for years 1966/71/79 in respect of the former was 10.6, 14.1, and 14.5 respectively, while the rate for the latter was 5.6, 6.0 and 7.2. For the legal year 1981 the three eastern Circuits accounted for 52.6% of national population, 62.6% of Circuit Court litigation, or 21.4 cases per thousand of population. The remaining five circuits accounted for 47.4% of national population, 37.4% of Circuit Court litigation, or 14.2 cases per thousand head of population. Although the amount of Circuit Court cases is overshadows by the preponderance of litigation in the District Courts, this circuit distribution, in the absence of similar figures for the High or District Court business, is an instructive indicator of future expectations. Under no circumstances, however, can the Circuit Court jurisdiction be taken as representative of the overall civil/criminal ratio. Indeed, the criminal content of new cases entered in the Circuit Court is invariably low (245 in 1979), even though the greater share of criminal business is entered in the metropolis. Table I.3 and Table I.4 respectively show the number and distribution of civil and criminal business throughout the circuits for selected years from 1950 to 1981. In 1979 the combined Dublin, Eastern and South Eastern Circuits accounted for 66.85 of civil litigation and 77.9% of criminal business. In 1981 they accounted for 62.85 of civil and 64.6% of criminal business. These tables also show the metropolitan bias towards litigation, particularly in criminal matters. The Civil/Criminal Ratio25 The Civil/criminal ration is interesting for several reasons, some remote and some immediate. As we have already stated, anthropologists and evolutionary theorists like Spencer, Darwin, Durkheim and Hobhouse have had much to say about law thus analysed. In his ‘Ancient Law’, possibly the first attempt at a socially scientific explanation of law, H.S. Maine observed in the early history of the Teutonic code, a preponderance of criminal measures and sanctions over the number of civil remedies. From this he maintained: “The more archaic the code the fuller and minuter is its penal legislation”. Since this is not a simple nor an agreed matter26, it is first advisable before examining criminal matters to enquire as to what part the State plays in the overall scheme of litigation. That is, before attempting to establish a civil/criminal ratio, we find it necessary to examine more closely the classifications of litigation in the lower courts. District Court business has been traditionally divided into three categories, summary and indictable cases, civil proceedings and ejectments, and licences renewed (Table I.5). Unlike the Circuit Court jurisdiction, the District Court administers to a very high and increasing criminal content. Between 1936 and 1981, for example, this criminal content increased from 126.5 thousand cases to 479.4 thousand, an increase of 352.9 thousand cases or 279%. In 1981 these criminal cases accounted for 79.1% of the workload of the lower courts. In 1946, immediately following the Second World War, crime controls increased significantly and civil proceedings dropped by 37%. During the emigration years of the fifties crime control decreased while civil proceedings and the renewal, crime controls increased and, for the most part, civil proceedings and licences renewed (except for 1971) declined. There are several other points to be noted regarding the distribution of work in the District Courts. With the exception of years 1961/66/81 the number of licences renewed and issued has steadily increased over the period. For the purposes of establishing a civil/criminal ratio, however it is difficult to know to categorise licences. Applications for such renewals constitute the more mechanical, if administrative, side of litigation. Should they, therefore be inclined as civil or criminal cases?
By their nature, whether they are liquor-licensing applications, licences for hawkers, gam-ing, dancing, auctioneers or turf accountants, licences are administered by the courts on behalf of the State. The parties to these applications, in so far as there are parties at all, are, respectively, the applicant and the State. Such applications are instituted unilaterally and, if opposed, a competing party with the same or a similar interest to that of the applicant or a defendant in a civil action does not oppose them.27 The more ‘active’ civil proceedings and ejectments have remained, in numerical terms, comparatively stable over the period between 1936 and 1981. It would seem, therefore, that the major influence on the increased litigation figures has come from the criminal input. In this regard, it should be understood that the criminal figures include summary as well as indictable offences. This distinction between indictable and summary offences is of primary importance and should be noted.28 For the moment the difficulties in calculating a civil/criminal ratio are several. The High Court, for example, has an annual criminal content in the criminal jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, and Court of Criminal Appeal. The Supreme Court also contains a criminal content. But we have no exact data on what this content is. We have already shown that civil litigation in the High Court, exaggerated in numerical terms by the expedient of counting the annual number of summonses issued, accounts historically for less than 2% of all litigation. Should these High Court figures be included at all? Similarly in the Circuit Court, there is the difficulty that a great proportion of cases, both civil and criminal, arise there by way of appeal from the District Courts. Moreover, those which do not enter the Circuit Court lists by way of original jurisdiction will have already been counted and heard in the District Courts. Should the Circuit Court figures, therefore, be abandoned in favour of the District Court returns which annually account for over 90% of litigation cases? And if we rely totally on the District Court returns, should the figures for Licences Renewed be classified as civil, criminal or neutral in calculating the civil/criminal ratio? Table I.6 attempts to overcome some of these difficulties by giving five different readings based on five different computations. Computation A includes all litigation in the High, Circuit and District Court; Computation B ignores the High Court figures and the number of Licences Renewed in the District Court returns, computation D ignores the number of Licences Renewed, and computation E treats the number of Licences Renewed as if they were criminal cases. The most conservative reading of Table I.6 (i.e. a reading of row A) accords the criminal content of national litigation in 1936 at least a greater than half share of judicial business. For years 1971/76/81 the criminal courts dealt with 72.0%, 71.6%, and 70.3% of litigation business respectively, or, converted into a more legible ratio, one civil action per 2.6/2.5 and 2.4 criminal offences. Viewed in this way, it can be argued that, despite the economic revival of the late fifties and early sixties, the criminal content and the State’s controlling interest has tended over the period to revert to what in was at the end of the Second World War. The least conservative and more disturbing reading of Table I.6 accords the criminal content in 1936 a 73.4% share of judicial business, or one civil action per 2.8 criminal offences. Again, by gradations, this criminal content rose to 88.1%, 87.4% and 90.0% in respective years 1971/76/81, or, receptively, one civil action per 7.4, 6.9, and 9.3 criminal offences. Indeed, this is an extreme interpretation, and ought not to be relied upon except as a measure of general State intervention in judicial litigation and, of course, social control. Less extreme results occur if we accept either B or C computations. Computation B, which ignores the number of Licences Renewed and comprises returns for both the Circuit and District Courts, shows a criminal content which exceeds that based on computation C for every year up to and including 1979. Thereafter computation C, which comprises lower court litigation only and includes the number of Licences Renewed as civil actions, exceeds that of B. In 1981, there was a criminal content of 79.1% or one civil action to 3.8 criminal offences, litigated in the District Courts. If we choose to ignore the number of Licences Renewed, that is, by treating them as neither civil nor criminal matter, then the criminal content becomes much more pronounced, as is evidenced by computation D. Indeed, throughout the seventies the civil/criminal ratio exceeds what it was in either 1946 or 1951.
We can see that the criminal business of the courts throughout the seventies (on whatever reading we choose) has never been less than 70% of contemplated litigation. And at no time since 1936 has the annual number of civil actions exceeded the number of criminal offences listed in the courts. Obviously our interpretation of the criminal content and the civil/criminal ratio (the one being a more direct way of recording the other) will reflect our preconceptions of the role of the State. As an index, it not only records the amount of State control and the number of interventions necessary to police civil society, whether real or merely imagined -- but it also reflects the quality of Irish civilisation. Were the number of civil actions to exceed the number of crimes processed by the courts, then, necessarily, there would have had to be a qualitative social change from repressive measures of social solidarity to restitutive ones. In Durkheimian anthropology the civil/criminal ratio, coupled with an elaborate classification of restitutive and repressive sanctions, is used to indicate change in the social sphere (between mechanical and organic solidarity), in the criminal sphere (between religious and human crimes), and in the penal sphere (between the severity of punishment and the use of imprisonment). For these purposes, however, it is sufficient to note that, since Licences Renewed exhibit neither the use of a restitutive nor a repressive sanction, the number of repressive sanctions has considerably outstripped restitutive ones throughout the seventies (Computation D). Indictable and Non-Indictable Offences It is advisable at this stage to distinguish between certain types of crime. This may, perhaps, mitigate the more sinister side of the civil/criminal ratio. For our purposes it is sufficient for the moment to classify offences into three broad types: indictable offences, minor (or summary) indictable offences, and non-indictable offences. Generally speaking ‘indictable’ means ‘more serious’ and, consequently, triable by judge and jury. /Minor (or summary) indictable’ means ‘less serious’ and, consequently, under certain conditions, may be tried before a District Justice. ‘Nonindictable’ means ‘even less serious still’ and, consequently, these offences are always tried before a District Justice. Non-indictable offences comprise a vast array of regulatory wrongdoings, e.g. offences in connection with dog-licences, the liquor laws, vagrancy, begging, motoring, highway offences and such like. These regulatory offences are of an expanding nature and since our accession to the EEC have witnessed enormous proliferation in respect of areas like vehicular traffic and travel, drink and drugs, computer crime and all sorts of documentation both national and international. Indictable offences, by contrast, and no less expansive, are offences which the law regards as more serious, and the Constitution prescribes that offenders so charged should have the right to be tried by a judge and jury. These offences range from the more serious crimes of murder, manslaughter, rape and armed robbery, to the most venial crimes of larceny and receiving. It can, of course, be equally argued that non-indictable offences range from the most venial type of offences, e.g. failing to display a Road Fund Licence, to the most flagrant offences of careless or dangerous driving. Though convenient for statistical purposes, this classification and the legal reasoning which supports it is, as we shall see, by no means simple. The difficulty arises when we come to distinguish between ‘indictable’ and ‘minor (or summary) indictable’ offences. Since all criminal cases begin in the District Court and are either heard there or sent forward for trial, for sentence, or an appeal, we cannot accurately distinguish between indictable and nonindictable offences from the District Court returns. From the Gárda Commissioner’s Annual Report, however, as well as from The Statistical Abstracts, the number of indictable offences recorded by the gárdái and the number of non-indictable offences in which proceedings were taken can be compiled (Table I.7). There was a decrease in non-indictable offences between the early and late fifties, after which they increased continuously. Between 1951 and 1955 there were, on average, 125 thousand such offences proceeded against per annum. This average more than doubled for the period 1976/80, and in 1981 474.9 thousand were proceeded against, an increase of 280% on any year between 1951/55. Indictable crimes recorded, on the other hand, showed a marginal increase throughout the fifties, and have in general continuously increased at a faster rate than non-indictable offences. Non-
indictable offences, however, have always occupied a much broader base than indictable offences. On average between 1951/55 for every indictable offence recorded there were 8.9 non-indictable ones proceeded against. Between 1976/80 this ratio fell to I/5.6. And in 1981 there were almost half a million non-indictable offences proceeded against or 5.3 offences per indictable offence recorded. Even within the non-indictable category, some types of offences have increased at a faster rate than others. Of those selected (Table 1.8) the fastest rate of increase occurs with motoring insurance offences. Between 1958 and 1960 less than two and a half thousand of such offences were proceeded against. By 1981, no doubt due in part to the use and popularity of motoring at this time, this type of offence has arisen to almost 48 thousand offences. Insurance offences were followed by offences related to drinking and driving. Minor assaults and dangerous and careless driving offences shared the same general increasing trends, though neither type of offence increased at the same rate as those related to insurance and drunk driving. In 1981 there were 67.2 thousand non-indictable offences committed by motorists and cyclists solely in relation to driving and insurance. This figure only accounts for 15% of all non-indictable offences in 1981. For the same year there were a total of 89.4 thousand indictable crimes recorded by the gárdái, most of which related to property offences. Given these magnitudes it is perfectly arguable that non-indictable offences are in most respects every bit as serious and deserving of our attention as property offences. In this respect it is to be noted that for the three-year period 1979 to 1981 there were 1,589 fatal traffic accidents on Irish roads, arising out of which 1,749 persons died. Notes 23 “The counties surrounding Dublin will also experience rapid increases with Kildare rising by 2.8% a year, Meath by 2.3%, and Wicklow by 2.2%. It is also anticipated that the labour force of the Republic will grow at an annual average of 14,300. See Census of Population of Ireland, 1981” (Preliminary Report), CSO, Government Publications. See also B. M.Walsh: The Structure of Unemployment in Ireland, 1954–72, ESRI, Oct., 1974; NESC, No. 63, July 1982; National Economic and Social Council: Urbanization and Regional Development in Ireland, No. 45, The Government Publications Sale Office, Dublin, p. 32 The Dublin Metropolitan area now extends between Howth and Greystones in Wicklow with over a third of the national population. See also Telephone Directory 24 24 Ibid. 25 25 See the author’s Emile Durkheim On Crime And Punishment: Dissertation. COM, 2002, chapter 2 et al. 26 H.S. Maine: Ancient Law (ed. F. Pollock, John Murray, 1930, p. 368). See also Engels, Frederick: Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats (1st ed., 1884) in Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels Werke, vol. 21, Berlin, Dietz Verlag, P; 25-173); Maine, Henry Summer: Lectures on the Early History of Institutions, (London, John Murray) 1875; Vinogradoff, Paul: Roman Law in Medieval Europe (London, Harper & Row), 1909; Posposil, Leopold: Anthropology of Law, A Comparative Theory, (Harper & Row), 1975, chapter 5. 27 See Woods: District Court Guide, Vol 11, Naas, 1977; Part 11 Licensing (pp. 93–227) 28 For an update of the distinction between Indictable and Arrestable Offences, See Section 4, The Criminal Law Act 1997. See also Walsh, Dermot: Criminal Procedure (Round Hall, Dublin, 2002); Woods, James: District Court Practice and Procedure in Criminal Cases (James Woods, Limerick, 1994). Table 1.1
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