Revenge Strategy, wasting the power of your hate on the guiltless (XXXI): Eamon de Valera, an Irish for Érie.
Have a happy weekend!
Have a beautiful Friday. Today we kick off a new month, November. Everywhere in the world, November is treasured by the word “preparation”.
Preparation for the end of the year and Christmas. Settling things with tons of deadlines. If you are employees, the majority will be involved in filling descriptions and records of what we did during the year, or with strategic planning meetings and calls. And we will see requested report documents back and forth overflowing our desks. If we are entrepreneurs, we start to shuffle our strategic outlining, we scuffle our pockets for the Christmas season, and we commence mixing-up our budget projections for next 2020. In consequence, this is one of the most hectic months for any industry, trade, finance companies and anything connected to the global business cycle. I crave your strength for all your end of the year activities.
Today´s goal is to end the Anglo-Irish Economic War theme. Next week I wish to dedicate 2 publications for the penultimate saga theme: the trade war over genetically modified food (2010–2011).
Ireland history has been a roller coaster. Wretched Ireland has been invaded for centuries, and its past shows religious and political conflicts that are innumerable. Ireland has swung between a strong desire for autonomy and centuries of bullnecked belonging inclination to Britain. At the time of this conflict, Ireland represented a clear example of how two regions with different religions and production systems were not able to strategize their own sovereignty together as a whole land during the XX century.
Who was Eamon de Valera? (Source Britannica.com)
I have done a tiny summary of Eamon (Edward) de Valera´s life, using my favorite source reference Britannica.com.
Eamon de Valera was born on October 14, 1882, in New York. He was one of the most prominent politicians in Ireland. He served as Prime minister in 3 periods (1932-1948), (1951-1954) and (1957-1959). Finally, he was elected President of Ireland between 1959 to 1973.
Eamon de Valera started his political life as an active revolutionary in 1913, later he became president of the political party Sinn Féin in 1917 and subsequently, he founded the Fianna Fáil party in 1926.
De Valera never stopped to study, he was academically well-grounded to launch his country as a “sovereign state”, Éire or Ireland in 1937. During his early years´ life, De Valera became an Anti-British colonization activist, suffering prison several times, for trying to resist opposition to the British. When he was elected president of the revolutionist Sinn Féin party in 1917, he was able to collect funds from the Irish residents living outside the Island. When he returned back to Ireland, he took place in the Irish War of Independence (Anglo Irish Civil War). Even though he was against the partition of Ireland (the southern Irish Free State and Northern Ireland), he was wise enough to concede this was the first step for its full independence from Britain. He was clever to sort out the divisions of his original party (Sinn Féin), persuaded his followers to create a new party Fianna Fáil (Soldiers of Destiny), entered as a winner to the Dáil (Irish Assembly) and started his path power strategy. “De Valera, Prime Minister, withheld payment of the land annuities to Britain, which in return utilized a revenge strategy by augmenting tariffs. De Valera replied back the same. De Valera developed his program of austere national self-sufficiency in an Irish-speaking Ireland while building up industries behind protective tariffs. In a new constitution ratified by referendum in 1937, the Irish Free State became Ireland (in Irish, Éire), a sovereign, independent democracy tenuously linked with the British Commonwealth (under the External Relations Act of 1936) only for purposes of diplomatic representation”.
De Valera´s was able to succeed ruling the Éire, by re-getting the naval bases which were in hands of Britain in 1939. During WWII, De Valera kept Ireland as a neutral country, but he was skillful enough to make strategic alliances to assist both the British and the Americans. By avoiding the burdens and destruction of the war, de Valera achieved relative prosperity for Ireland in comparison with the war-torn countries of Continental Europe, and he retained office in subsequent elections.
After the end of World War II, De Valera was able to keep his leadership with ups and downs, regardless of other parties’ intentions to access the Government. In 1959 de Valera agreed to stand as a candidate for the presidency. In June he was elected president, and he was reelected in 1966. He retired to a nursing home near Dublin in 1973 and died there in 1975.
De Valera is an example of an evolutionary mindset. He was adapting and evolving. Probably no one remembers his revolutionary roots, but he was able to adapt, improve, accommodate, fell down and re-emerge. He constantly nurtured his leadership for the benefit of Ireland.
What was Ireland doing to survive economically before WWII?
Preeminently, to answer this question, we must effectuate Ireland’s economic activities as a nation at the time of the Anglo-Irish Economic War, what was Ireland doing to survive economically before WWII?
We must situate ourselves in the context of two countries in one. An island with a maximum length of 484 km, and a maximum width of 280 km, which was divided into two pieces, each with a different government and organization. The southern catholic part composed of 32 counties, called Ireland Free State or Ireland (Éire) with its capital Dublin; and the second protestant part, the up-north little one with 6 counties, called Northern Ireland; which was considered part of the United Kingdom; with its capital Belfast. Before 1921, all the island belonged to the United Kingdom, remember this was the year of the partition.
Ireland has always been blessed with an abundance of vegetation. Everywhere in the country, you can find green colors and flowers. Rain is rich and plentiful, even though the virgin forests from its antiquity disappeared. By the time of the Anglo-Irish Economic War, Ireland was an agricultural country. And its main industry was cattle. Cattle has been the main resource of living for the Irish. Every single rural family dedicates its life to cattle farming, breeding pigs, hens-ducks, beget horses and produces cow subproducts as butter, milk, and cheese. Between 1851 and 1911, arable land in Ireland halved from 1.8 million hectares to 0.9 million. Simultaneously, grazing increased dramatically. Many railways were built in the famine period, as part of work schemes, and these allowed live cattle exports to Britain to increase. An abundance of cattle requires pastures to feed them. From 50,000 animals in the 1820s, exports reached 200,000 during the 1840s. This rose to 400,000 by the 1860s and 800,000 by the 1900s.
In consequence, the cattle industry was the main source of exports, particularly to Britan and Scottland. All cattle were exported alive. Milk was converted into butter, pigs were processed to sell bacon, barley and hops were used in the beer industry. The agriculture offer was limited to oats, potatoes, sugar beets, cabbages and other cereals as barley, rye, wheat, and hay.
Other industries were emerging in the Northern part of Ireland, such as cotton fabrics, tobacco clothing, wood products, paper, agricultural machinery, vessels´ manufacturing, depending on raw materials that were imported from other countries.
By 1845 (before the potato crisis famine) the Irish population had more than 8 million inhabitants; by the time that Eamon de Valera was exercising power, the Irish population was reduced in half in less than a century. The emigration of Irish people was the norm.
How and Why did the Anglo-Irish Trade or Economic War happen?
According to Wesley Johnston and Patrick Abbot writings about Ireland History, once Eamon de Valera arrived in power, he analyzed the main issue or pain´s cause for the Irish people. And De Valera immediately acted upon it. He decided to kill the Irish most terrible pain. The “land annuities”. The land annuities caused the most contention between Ireland and Britain. The annuities were money that the British government had loaned to Irish farmers before the Government of Ireland Act of 1921 and which the farmers had agreed to repay. Part of the Anglo-Irish treaty was that the Irish Free State government would collect these debts and return the money to Britain. When Eamon de Valera refused to do it, Britain was so furious with the Irish for keeping the money, that they imposed a 20% tariff on trade with the Irish Free State. The Irish found that they could no longer sell their cattle (livestock) to Britain or Northern Ireland and so they retaliated by imposing a tariff in the opposite direction. This prevented Britain from selling coal to Ireland. However, Britain did not depend on Ireland as much as Ireland did on Britain, and this seriously crippled the Irish economy. After 5 years, in 1938 (one year before the WWII starting point) the two countries signed an agreement to end the trade war. Under this settlement, the Irish Free State gave Britain £10,000,000 to pay off the annuities and in return, Britain pulled out of its naval bases in Ireland.
In detail, during the year 1936, de Valera abolished the British King’s right to interfere in Ireland´s Free State affairs, although he was still recognized as the Head of Commonwealth. This abolition, imposed via the External Relations Act, coincided with the abdication of King Edward the 8th so that Britain did not have time to object to it. In 1937 de Valera introduced a new constitution, replacing the one agreed after the formation of the Free State. It included a number of issues: (a) The Irish Free State was to be renamed “Eire” (b) the Prime Minister was to be renamed the Taoiseach (c) the Éire head of state would be an elected President, not the King (d) [article 2] declared that Eire’s boundary consisted of the whole island of Ireland (e) [article 3] declared that the Eire government had the right to pass laws for the whole island although only enforcing them in the 26 counties. The new constitution was put to a referendum and was narrowly accepted by the people.
Why did an economic war happen after the political-Anglo Irish guerrilla war?
Eamon de Valera knew that the only straight way to change Ireland’s policies was through power attainment and Government leadership. He was a revolutionary activist. He suffered from prison. He was exiled. He saw the destruction of WWI in Europe. And he knew civil wars always hurt the populations, particularly the poor. Villages´recoveries take decades to convene, and given Mr. De Valera´s past experiences, he knew that it was insane to provoke another civil war to win the autonomy to Britain. What he did was to enlist his ascendance to power and kept the control to use trade policies, in his favor. The WWII preparation context helped De Valera to negotiate reasonable measures with Britain, otherwise not reachable by any other means. Sometimes an economic trade war triggers civil wars. Sometimes it is the other way around.
Final Reflection. Was the revenge strategy planned by Eamon de Valera a good thing for Ireland or not?
I will leave this question to answer by yourselves. Please read Ireland´s history after WWII. It will help you to see the legacy of the Ireland partition, beyond the Anglo-Irish conflicts.
Thank you for reading to me. Stay tuned for next week. We will continue with our next example: the trade war over genetically modified food (2010–2011).
Source references utilized to write this episode:
Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.
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