American And British Exceptionalism In The Age Of Trump And Brexit

There is definitely a brand of US exceptionalism that assumes superiority and entitlement to invade, blockade, embargo and infiltrate other countries. This is not incompatible with a feeling of historical or cultural inferiority with respect to some European states, just as arrogant, bullying and domineering behaviour of an individual is far from incompatible with the same individual’s sense of inferiority.


Renegade Cut is rapidly becoming one of my favourite YouTube channels for its commentary on the modern crossover between politics and culture. Specifically, popular culture. A recent video includes these observations on the issue of “American exceptionalism” which could be equally applied to another ostensibly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant and English-speaking union that believes itself to be unique by virtue of history and nationality, and which is also undergoing a wave of populist sentiment:

American exceptionalism is the belief that the United States is not only different from the rest of the world but uniquely positioned to lead the world.

Exceptionalism states that the US follows of path of history different from the laws and norms that govern other countries.

American exceptionalism is the belief that the US is not only bigger and more powerful than other nations but that it due to its uniqueness, it need not follow said laws…

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Diarmuid Breatnach


Some people are saying Maduro is a dictator and ruling undemocratically. Those people seem to be mostly from the imperialist media and the Right but still … The claim seems to rest on the fact that although his party won the 2013 general elections, Maduro now rules without the support of the majority of the legislature in Venezuela.


The Venezuelan Opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself President, quoting a Constitutional provision and quickly got the support of the US and European powers. Brazil’s neo-fascist President Bolsonaro is also vociferously backing Guadió. Cuba and Bolivia support Maduro, as does Russia and China. Well, we kind of get used to the European powers being on the same side as the US in international affairs, and of Russia being on the other. And Cuba and Bolivia are biased against the USA, having often accused their powerful neighbour of meddling in the affairs of countries in Latin America.

And as it happens, history supports their accusation. Since the decade after WW2 alone, the USA have intervened, directly by invasion or less directly (i.e by instigating coups), in the following Latin American countries:

  • Argentina (coup 1976 and subsequent support for right-wing dictator)
  • Brazil (coup1964 and subsequent support for right-wing dictator)
  • Chile (coup 1973 and subsequent support for right-wing dictator)
  • Costa Rica (coup-civil war 1948 and many measures since)
  • El Salvador (coup 1975 and civil war to 1992)
  • Guatemala (coup-civil war 1954)
  • Nicaragua (support for right-wing dictator and running terrorist group 1979-1990s)
  • Panama (assassination of President 1981 to support replacement, subsequently military invasion 1989)
  • Paraguay (coups 1954, 2012)
  • Peru (CIA-sponsored governments 1990-2000)
  • Uruguay (coup 1973)
  • Venezuela (coup 2002, supporting opposition to Chavez, ditto with Maduro, inciting military coup [unsuccessfully to date]).

Well even if these methods were subversive and undemocratic, perhaps the USA was intervening to support democracy? After all, isn’t that what its spokespersons say they want in Venezuela?

Well, sadly no. The regimes the USA has supported in power as well as those brought to power by coups, have been military dictatorships and right-wing governments, repressing democratic freedoms, jailing trade unionists or murdering them, banning opposition media, torturing detainees, making hundreds ‘disappear’, and generally, according to many human rights organisations, with appalling civil and human rights records.

In fact, some of the statements of US spokespersons recently revealed interests that had little to do with justice or human rights. A Guardian report (see References and Links) quotes the USA’s national security adviser John Bolton complaining about Russian support for Maduro: “This is our hemisphere. It’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering.” Apart from the fact that this sounds like the USA’s Latin American policy from the 19th Century, one can’t help wondering when in the 20th or so far in the 21st Century, the USA has ever limited its operations to ‘its own hemisphere’.

Apparently, on May 1st, the Venezuelan Opposition leader tried to stage a coup. He sent out a tweet calling on people to mobilise to unseat Maduro and, though at one point he said it would be peaceful, had himself photographed with a few armed men in Army uniforms. Some opposition people did mobilise and the Army, apparently still loyal to Maduro, confronted them and injured many (none apparently with live rounds, thankfully). Where was Guaidó? It’s not clear but certainly not among those confronting (or being confronted by) the Army.

The US Secretary of State Pompeo claimed publicly that Maduro had a plane ready to fly to Cuba when the coup attempt began but was talked out of it by Russia. Evidence for this? He didn’t produce any and Venezuelan officials accused him of trying to undermine the Venezuelan Army’s confidence in the regime.

Almost certainly there will be other attempts. The US feels it has a good chance of destabilising the regime and bringing in one more favourable to itself. And of course, there’s all that oil.

Do I support Maduro? I don’t know him or his practice well enough to do that. But I do know the USA and whatever they are up to there, I am against them. And I think we should all be.



US interventions for regime change in Latin America since WW2:

US policy towards Latin America in the 19th Century:

Recent US statement on sphere of influence:





Unionism, Culture and Division in the Highlands: The Historical Context.

A good piece here on oppression of Scottish people, especially of the Highlands and Isles.

Of course we had the “bata scoir” here too and the macaronic song An Trucailín Donn relates an encounter between a colonial policeman in Ireland and small carter who has the name on his cart in Irish. in the 14th Century the Norman-English took the Norman-Irish to task for being “degenerate English” who had become “more Irish than the Irish themselves and in 1367 passed the Statutes of Kilkenny forbidding them from speaking Irish, dressing in Irish style, playing Gaelic games and submitting themselves to Irish law and traditional custom.


imageTo me, the land of my father’s ancestors; Suaineart (Sunart) – one of the most picturesque, idyllic regions in the Scottish Highlands has always been a place of mystique with a deep memory of shared ancestors and an extensive folklore. I have always held its native elders; my people, with much reverence and have made a concerted effort over the years to glean whatever information I could from these characters with whom I have such an affinity.

Amongst the stories I have picked up over the years are those of a greedy landed elite who were never hesitant to put their own financial gain and social standing within the British Imperial program in front of the welfare of the indigenous tenantry who were considered to be an inferior class of human. Their attachment to the ‘barbaric’, ‘backward’, ‘uncouth’ and ‘inferior’ Gaelic language and its culture defined them as something ‘other’, something ‘primitive’.


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Bloodshed in Mullingar: Civil War Begins in Co. Westmeath, April 1922

Interesting account of incidents of the Irish Civil War in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

Éireann Ascendant

Attack on the Hibernian

The 24th January 1922 was a quiet Tuesday for the town of Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, what with it being a half-holiday and almost all business closed for the day. An exception was the Hibernian Bank and even that was nearing its closing time of 3 pm when three armed men entered.

With one of the new arrivals standing by the doorway with his revolver and the second holding the staff at gunpoint, the third entered the manager’s office where an accountant had been talking with a customer. After cutting the telephone connection, the third intruder demanded the keys to the strong-room, only to be told by the accountant that the keys were with the manager who was away.

Frustrated, the raider left the office and proceeded to the teller’s box which he quickly cleared of its contents. Having seized the most they could get, the…

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Drumcondra journey over snow

Diarmuid Breatnach

     The heights around Phibsboro and Glasnevin were reported snowbound so I decided to head down to the Tesco post for my shopping. Bundled up warm and with boots coated in dubbin, I stepped out into snow powder whipped up by the icy wind.  I had to close my eyes to slits when it blew against my face.

Heading towards Drumcondra Tesco station

A whistle woke the dogs and they came out of their snow-holes, shaking themselves and trotting over. Handing out small pieces of meat which they wolfed down, I called Buck to follow me over to the sled, where he sat supervising while I put the other dogs in harness. They were eager to go, skittish, whining, tail-wagging, occasionally growling at a perceived trespass by a team-mate. Buck stared down the most fractious but ignored Bríd altogether. Lately she’d been getting at Buck, undermining him. I didn’t know what to do about it. I couldn’t put her in the lead as, apart from that reversing the problem, the team probably wouldn’t follow a bitch. A dog team is like a wolf pack – there can be a dominant male and a dominant female but in almost all cases the male is the lead, the top dog.

Heaving the sled to left and right a couple of times I broke it free of its ice, took the leads and, with my shouted “Mush!” we were off.

A little later, going down towards the frozen Tolka, I had to apply the brakes a little to ensure the sled didn’t run into the hindmost dogs. They all felt the drag and then the jolt as the left brake hit something hard frozen under the snow, canting the sled momentarily to one side. Buck looked back at me reproachfully. You think dogs can’t look reproachful? Many can … and Buck is a master at it.

“Sorry, Buck, couldn’t help it … couldn’t see it.”

But he was already turned away, his shoulder muscles bunched, pulling along, leading. We crossed the Tolka no trouble despite one of the hindmost dogs slipping for a moment, righting himself some what embarrasedly, continuing. The sled runners hissed from the snow, then a grating tooth-gritting high-pitched scraping and then a low hiss across the ice.

Crossing the frozen Tolka

“Up boy, pull away!” I shouted but Buck was already bunching himself for the slope of the far bank, pulling steadily, all dogs in the traces pulling together. As soon as the sled was clear of the ice I jumped off and ran alongside it, one hand on the sled. As it gained the top of the bank, the dogs already over, I jumped back on and mushed them on to the Tesco post, the wind whipping ice powder towards me, sometimes higher than my head but often only at knee height.

There was another sled there, hitched to the rail outside the post, its dogs still in traces, huddled down against the wall. Swinging the team around by pulling on the leads, I got the sled in near the other dogs with my team furthest away. I didn’t want to come out to the aftermath of an argument between that team and mine.

Hitching the sled to the rail, I walked up to the front entrance, scraped the snow off my boot soles on the steel scraper and slapped it off where I could reach on my fleece-lined jacket. Opening the door, I stepped in quickly on to the mat and closed the door behind me.

Arnka Flaherty was on duty at the register and flashed me a smile.

“Fuar go leor duit?” I enquired.

“It is, yes it is cold enough,” she replied, still smiling, the blue eyes and curly hair looking a little out of place on her broad Inuit face. But her smile would light a dance hall.

I saw a few pairs of snowshoes by the door and guessed some customers had hiked it in. Not too bad really at the moment with snow only a foot to two feet deep most places, though in some hollows you might sink up to your waist in drifts.

Bart was there, a big Dutchman from over Santry way, as I already knew. I’d recognised his sled and some of his dogs outside.

“Bart”, I nodded.

“Diarmuid,” he nodded back.

“Looks like getting worse,” I said.

“Yes, says on the Internet.”

“Best get supplies in then, right?”


So saying, we went about our separate business. In that little exchange, we had enquired without the exact words about one another’s mental and physical health, whether we each had enough fuel and food. And said that we cared about one another and would help, were it needed.

Going through the aisles picking up my items I nodded to the other customers, a spry old woman who must have snowshoed in and two young students from the college not far away, a male and a female, perhaps a couple, perhaps not. Their winter clothes looked on the expensive end of the range.

I picked up some tins of fish (though I might catch some fresh later, hole-fishing through the Tolka ice), frozen meat for the dogs, a bag of tatties and a smaller one of rice, a parcel of briquettes, a bag of porridge oats and laid them in front of Arnka. Then I went back for milk powder, beet sugar, frozen butter, olive oil, frozen greens and a butane cylinder.

Arnka raised her eyebrows at the latter. “Where’s the empty?” she queried.

“I forgot and left it at home. I’ll bring it in tomorrow. I promise.”

She said nothing and started to tot up my account. Perhaps she minded, perhaps not. It was hard to tell with Arka. I paid, bid her slán on my second trip outside with the last of my supplies, waving to Bart and to the old lady on the way.

Outside, the wind had died down below but up above the clouds were moving fairly fast, leaving a clear starlit night. Beautiful but cold and soon to get colder. The dogs were already on their feet, shaking themselves, some whining. I loaded up the sled, pulled by scarf across my nose and mouth and we mushed back homeward, the dogs glad of the exercise and knowing they’d be fed soon. We crossed the Tolka ice, now glittering in the starlight or ghostly shining in places and up the opposite bank, the dogs straining, me pushing the heavy sled this time and trying not to slip ….

Then clear and pulling away up the rise into Drumcondra proper and soon to be home. Hot food and warmth for me, defrosted meat for the dogs and their own holes in the snow, curled up inside and soon warm with the snow piling up around them.


The Lark

The Lark

Diarmuid Breatnach, London, May 1981.

Bobby Sands, Officer Commanding Provisional IRA prisoners in H-Blocks before hunger-strike (Image source: Internet)

Last night, from afar, I watched the Lark die

and inside me, began to cry,

and outside, a little too.

There’s nothing more that can now be done,

to save the life of this toilers’ son;

another martyr – Bobby, adieu.

Imperialism takes once more its toll,

another name joins the martyrs’ roll

and a knife of sadness runs us through.

But sorrow we must watch,

for it can still,

yes, it can kill

the song that Bobby listened to.

And if his death be not in vain,

let’s fuel our anger with the pain

and raise the fallen sword anew;

and this sword to us bequeathed:

let its blade be never sheathed

’till all our foes be ground to dust

and their machines naught but rust ….

Then will the servant be the master

            and our widening horizons ever-vaster

                  and our debt

                       to Bobby


                                 as due.


(Written in London as the death of Bobby Sands was imminent or had just occurred, after the author had attended pickets and demonstrations in solidarity with the hunger strikers in attempt to avert their deaths by pressurising the British Government to accede to their just demands. Bobby Sands died on 5th May 1981, to be followed by nine others in the weeks and months that followed. The struggle was one for the human dignity of Irish Republican political prisoners of Britain in the Six Counties British colony).

Senior Metropolitan Police officer accompanied by Constables harass Sands solidarity protesters in London
(Image source: Internet)
Skylark in Flight
(Image source: Internet)
Gates Long Kesh
(Image source: Internet)




Comrade Hessy Phelan murdered in New York 21/01/1996


Hessy Phelan who was murdered this day in 1996. Hessy had escaped the SAS bullets that claimed the live of his comrade Colm McNutt in 1977 only to be murdered by a thug member of the NYPD two decades later.

Hessy was a former member of the IRSP and the INLA and long term political prisoner prior to moving to New York.

On 21 January 1996, a friend of Hessy’s, a bartender at a New York pub, asked her boyfriend, a New York cop with a record of excessive force complaints, to take Hessy to his apartment.

Once there, according to witnesses and trial testimony, the boyfriend shot Hessy in the head, and was convicted of manslaughter in 1999.

With many thanks to the: James Connolly Association Sydney, Australia

Below is a copy of the Irish Times about his murder

NY policeman on charge of killing Derry immigrant

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