The Irish Radical’s Manifesto

The Irish Radical's Manifesto

“The schools we go to are reflections of the society that created them. Nobody is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.” 

– Assata Shakur

Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.” 

– Dorothy Day

A spectre is haunting Notre Dame—the spectre of radicalism. Catholics, of course, are no strangers to ghosts. Indeed, if we turn to our friends on the Catholic right, it’d seem like all the powers of the radical left have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcize the Holy Spirit from campus life. Not to worry; we on the Left are not represented by a student group with a $170,000 budget, comparable with that of ND Right to Life and its fiscal allocation. Nor do we own a freshly renovated, $5.6 million multi-story residence, akin to the Windmoor Study Center. And we’re not yet bankrolled by a cohort of wealthy, politically motivated alumni, like the Sycamore Trust, which will always ensure that their own right-wing ideology is thoroughly propagated across this campus. On the border of India, Alexander the Great wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. The challenge facing the right at Notre Dame is the same: what is there to do when you’ve already won?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Idle hands, after all, are the devil’s workshop. They’ve busied themselves with fashioning a politics of identity, idolizing an inflexible, monolithic interpretation of “Catholic character,” one which does little justice to the profound intellectual diversity of this tradition. This identity is slotted into a Manichean worldview, where the multi-million dollar infrastructure undergirding conservative values at Notre Dame is somehow constantly imperiled by a few Gender Studies professors. Yet as our liberal friends often say, there is truth on both sides of the aisle. 

The rational aspect of right-wing melodrama is their diagnosis of cultural crisis. Conservatives—albeit through a glass darkly—can at least perceive the corrosive effects of capitalism on our collective social life. Any genuine conservatism, any real respect for tradition is impossible in an economic system based upon the constant revolutionizing of production where “all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.” In the face of those liberals who cannot comprehend, and far less imagine, an alternative to Notre Dame’s turn to neoliberalism, the radical right rightly laments as the academy decays into an optimized accreditation machine. 

But as Marx once noted, to be radical is to grasp things by the root. Radicalism, then, compels us to see the cultural crisis, the dissolution of human qualities, and the meaning across social institutions as one aspect of an emerging, generalized crisis of capitalist social life. 

Is it any coincidence that this cultural crisis is taking place alongside a labor crisis, where workers in entertainment, industrial, and service industries are organizing against a four-decade-long, $50 trillion upward transfer of wealth? 

Or a crisis in plutocratic governance, where the neoliberal consensus has been disrupted by populists on the left and right? 

Or the crisis of alienation, disconnecting us from each other and from ourselves as hyper-individualism in an increasingly atomized society is glorified to justify the capitalistic steamrolling of culture and community?

Or a livelihood crisis, with costs of living spiraling out of control and leaving an increasing number of Americans crushed with insuperable debt?

Or the ecological crisis, highlighting the profound discrepancy between natural limits and the demands of capitalist production as the Third World suffers from the West’s gluttony?

And so on and so on…

To be worthy of our name, The Irish Radical seeks not only to identify the roots of crisis in capitalist society, but to articulate a critique which points beyond it. We proudly align ourselves with the tradition of radical struggle that has always emerged in opposition to the unjust hierarchies at Notre Dame, from the protests against Dow Chemical and the CIA during the Vietnam War, to the movement to divest our university from the apartheid government of South Africa. Like the best of the Church, we seek to be in, but not of, the world. Both past and future struggles for a more just university will always involve working with the institutions and power structures we have inherited. But we at The Irish Radical are not destined to be a product of these institutions, as every critique and social struggle contains the outline of a better world. 

The absence of such a space at Notre Dame for discussing critiques of the existing system calls for a radical change in our literary, academic, and artistic culture. We hold to the aphorism of Bertolt Brecht, believing that art is not a passive reflection of society, but rather a hammer in which to shape it. We strive to not only serve as the leading voice for critical analyses of the status quo but also, at our core, to represent the perspectives and socio-political discourse of the People. As an open-source project, we believe that education enriches the sinews of society, and by making the publications of the Proletariat free and accessible to all, we aspire towards proactive conversations about unity and progress. Our aim is to forge bonds of genuine solidarity through the articulation and dissemination of these principles, planting the seeds for a more robust and vibrant community of intellectuals and radicals, or radical intellectuals, alike. Every revolutionary movement begins with organization at the most elementary level; The Irish Radical seeks to provide a fundamental infrastructure on which to build a movement whose fruits will bring about change at this University, in our South Bend community, and across society at large.

The Radical publishes all works—essays, poetry, and all other visual and artistic representations—across the tri-campus community that embody the spirit of our manifesto. Large-scale publications will be released intermittently throughout the year, along with a more constant stream of articles aimed at time-sensitive or important news and other information. All of our publication history can be found on our website irishradicalnd.com. We invite anyone interested in submitting content, joining our team, or learning more to contact us via email at irishradicalnd@gmail.com.

18 Comments

  1. Bravo! Your publication advances an important tenet of the mission of the University, “to cultivate a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many.”

  2. As an expat South Bender and ND alumna (MAT ’68), I salute your mission and look forward to supporting your endeavors to open doors and minds to new and alternative perspectives.

  3. When looking at any institution that wields the power of an endowment the net worth of Notre Dame’s nearly 2 BILLION and climbing, or the incalculable worth of the Catholic Church itself, their problem becomes the priority to maintain that wealth. Radicalism, outlining ideas, thinking outside the box doesn’t flourish in the midst of the all-consuming, enormous pressure to forever maintain and increase that wealth. The ability to maintain the ideals and untainted intellectual honesty is fraught with pitfalls in such an environment. Add to that, the authoritarianism of the Catholic Church’s Tomism, and it is an environment that will not welcome radical thought . Armon Hennacy, one of the original founders of The Catholic Worker Movement along with Dorothy Day, used to hammer this idea home again and again — the easiest way around the entrapment of wealth, is to follow the admonition of one J. Christ and Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (Francis d’Assisiu) , and sell what you have and give to the poor (you know, that eye of the needle difficulty thing). That was something that immediately got the Catholic Worker in NYC to be the target of an all-out assault by Francis Cardinal Spellman who tried to discredit them as “communists.” What else could a group that would advocated pacifism and dared to open welcoming houses of hospitality with soup kitchens in the poorest sections of the city, while the Catholic churches kept the doors of their churches locked most of the day and night. The push-back can be fierce from institutions that by nature are biased by their own wealth; it motivates their thinking and even their theology. This is the kind of power any kind of radical approach to thought will be up against. But you are a new generation; you still have the strength that comes with idealism and conviction and that will be needed to stand up against the soul-crushing, right-leaning power of capitalism that envelopes Notre Dame. It can’t help itself but to inevitably lean right. It needs a counterweight. Be that.

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