Cold, Dogmatic Rage

On the 29th March, 1951 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage. Their conviction was the culmination of a concerted campaign in the United States to root out communist subversives. The paranoia and rage at that time was unrelenting and unforgiving, and the Rosenbergs were given the death penalty for divulging official secrets to the Soviets. It is difficult for us now to imagine the atmosphere of paranoia and fear and anger at that time in history.

However in 1971 the American novelist E.L Doctorow expertly captured these harrowing events and their repercussions in his ambitious historical/allegorical novel “The Book of Daniel”. The main protagonist is Daniel Issacson, the son of Paul and Rochelle Issacson. These fictional characters are loosely based on the Rosenbergs.

The narrative switches between Daniel’s memories of his parents’ political activism and the political fervour of the late sixties and early seventies. Feelings of persecution threaten to overwhelm him and he feels as though he is heading towards martyrdom.

He finds a clear affinity with the Biblical Daniel, cornered into the den of lions. It is patently clear that his parents’ fanaticism has damaged him psychologically. All of his childhood memories were marked by the invidious nature of their influence.

He concludes that his father’s politics were the product of his bitter envy and the sense of his own failure to thrive in a purely capitalist society, as he states that,

“Social justice was a way of living without envy…It was a way of transforming envy into constructive outgoing hate”.

Daniel and his sister Susan live in parallel worlds. The moral order of school contrasts violently with the amoral disorder of their parents’ milieu. Daniel manages to suppress his anxieties but Susan experiences an unsettling instability that is irrevocable.

In the later narrative, Susan is living in a long term psychiatric institution while Daniel is navigating life as a young husband and father. In these later scenes he ruefully reflects that,

“My father was skinny, nervous, selfish, unreliable, full of hot radical passion, insolent in his faith, loyal to Marxism-Leninism, rude eyed and tendentious. He scared me. (My mother) was as unstable as he was. In her grim expectations. In her refusal to have illusions. In her cold, dogmatic rage”.

The pitiless nature of his parents’ conviction and sentence is laid bare. When the children say their final farewells to them there is a distinct lack of sentimentality, there is instead an overpowering bathos.

The book is a salutary reminder that there is nothing romantic or glamorous about revolutionary politics. At this juncture it is worth reminding ourselves of the wise and prophetic words of the German writer and philosopher Oswald Spengler.

Spengler correctly predicted that the unique moral and spiritual character of Russia would be ruined after the revolution and advised the “West” to resist the allure of this toxic progressivism, claiming that it,

“..has an immense appeal for the fomenting intellectuals of our cities. It has become a hobby for tired and addled brains, a weapon for decaying megalopolitan souls, an expression for rotting blood”.

The only real and true expression of the Russian soul remains in the lustrous fiction of Dostoevsky.

Spengler regarded Dostoevsky as a saint rather than a “romancier”, as this crude appellation is purely ascribed to him by Western commentators who had no insight into the culture of pre-revolutionary Russia. Ironically, the USA is regarded as the apotheosis of Western civilisation but is now on a determined mission to undermine itself and its achievements.

It is a great paradox, to observe that the more a society seeks to modernise itself the further it sinks into primitivism. Progressive activists should be aware of this reality and appreciate the past rather than trying to destroy it.

Saints and Scholars

Tomorrow will be Saint Patrick’s Day, an annual celebration of Irish culture. This is a unique and distinct culture which has had a tremendous impact all over the world, but due to rampant commercialisation the Irish identity is in danger. Even very recently the notion of Irish nationality has disappeared, and the meaning of Saint Patrick’s Day itself has been lost.

Ireland prides itself as the “land of saints and scholars”, as most of Europe descended into the Dark Ages, Irish monks like St Columba pursued in their mission to enlighten and educate. The brothers established monasteries across Ireland which became centres of learning for many generations. This is a piece of history that should be preserved and remembered but rather disappointingly far too much emphasis is placed upon the darker episodes of Ireland’s past.

Ireland’s long struggle to claim independence from the British has overshadowed an occasion which should be a day of joy. The relentless focus on Ireland’s “Troubles” has imbued a misplaced feeling of shame in almost every British person. This is the fault of the propagandists who have presented and disseminated a distorted view of Ireland and Britain respectively.

Crude caricatures of the Irish and the British people are unfortunately present in contemporary films like “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Titanic”. In “Ryan`s Daughter” the Irish peasantry are simple minded fools, almost recreations of Huxley’s trope of the “Noble Savage” living amidst the supposed barbarism of the British. A similar cartoonish situation is presented in “Titanic” with the poor, oppressed Irish toiling below deck while the British nobility play cards on their luxurious upper berths.

It might seem silly and laughable, but the effect of films like the ones I mentioned can be serious. They actually demean and dehumanise real people. The Anglo-Irish author J.G Farrell was acutely aware of this when he wrote his tragi-comic novel “Troubles”, set during the 1919 Irish War of Independence. It is written as a kind of meta novel, the characters are deliberate stereotypes. The narrative takes place in the crumbling Majestic Hotel, a relic of British imperial hegemony.

The imagery is stark, allusions to parasites abound in the opening scenes, with even once harmless plants and vegetation threatening to destroy the building. Yet again the Irish are presented as simple and superstitious people, while the British are cold, humourless and brutal.

It presents common prejudices back to the reader, while the Irish seem hot headed but poetic, the British are emotionless and immune to any romantic sensibility. One British officer’s overtly pragmatic character made me think about Sir Francis Drake coolly finishing a game of Bowls before returning to the fight against the Spanish.

Eventually the Majestic is destroyed in a conflagration and by default the British Empire itself is steadily being dismantled, as devastating news from India is relayed to the British residents. Farrell had a rare insight into both worlds and he succeeded in his ambition to show the terrible effects of enduring historical misunderstandings.

Daughters of Eve

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th to acknowledge the economic and cultural contribution of women across the world. It has always had an overtly political message as it was initially established in the early twentieth century to advocate for women’s equality. Campaigners argued that women had equal rights and opportunities in terms of education and employment. Since then women, at least in the developed world have achieved full equality with men. Prejudice and discrimination is still perpetuated, but most people understand now that sexism is unacceptable.

However the inherent dignity of women was never considered in ancient cultures. It is often forgotten that pagan societies did not perceive women as equally human and it was in fact Jewish and Christian cultures that raised the status of women. The Biblical story of Adam and Eve has been distorted by secular commentators to imply that women were created to lead men astray. However the story illustrates that Eve was imbued with a distinctly female intelligence and insight. She ensured that Adam felt self-conscious as a man, and not an animal driven by instinct.

The pure animal passions of men have been acknowledged as damaging to women, and it is women themselves who have had to exercise their own rationality to curb them in their most destructive form. One fact is undeniable. Monogamous marriage has had a civilising effect for many centuries, it has led to stable families and homes. Feminine values like kindness are integral to this success.

Modern feminists have distanced themselves from the moral and religious arguments for women’s equality. Since the sixties the new feminist movements have sought to deny the clear biological differences between women and men. Consequently an entire generation has been forced to imbibe toxic messages about sexuality, these messages have infiltrated big corporations and state education and health systems. Young women are being damaged all over again with the falsehood that they are the same as young men, and have the same sexual desires.

The effects of this are stark, there is much more mental illness now. It is a direct result of the modern feminist movement, who advocate increasingly for such horrors as unlimited abortions and transgender surgeries. All of these are crude methods to erode femininity and uniquely feminine roles in society. This women’s day we should celebrate women for being women, and try to suppress malign influences that seek to erase us.

The Rose of Memory

Lent is a season of penitence and prayer, a solemn occasion marked by reflection. It is a time when Christians focus upon their human frailties. Many decide to forgo worldly indulgences. The imposition of ashes is a pertinent reminder that Adam was created from mere dust and thus confirms our own insignificance in this life. Pride and vanity are symptoms of our uniquely human folly and are quickly banished when we are reminded that we were fashioned from something that now seems so ordinary.

T.S Eliot began to write poetry in a quest to find the meaning of things, he was an erudite man with a vast intellect, studied philosophy including Indian philosophy and learned Sanskrit. However he was deeply troubled by a world that he believed had lost its moral purpose. In 1927 he was confirmed into the Church of England, the religion of his ancestors. This helped him find an anchor to a once lost culture and a heritage.

Three years later he composed “Ash Wednesday”, the most moving evocation of his calling to faith. It is a poem filled with stark imagery, and unforgettable symbols. It illustrates how he wrestled with his conscience, and conflicting desires. The agony is plain from the beginning,

“Because I do not hope to turn again

Because I do not hope”

Eliot`s humility becomes much clearer in the second stanza,

“Because I cannot drink

There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is

nothing again”

In the second section of the poem Eliot venerates a “Lady”, which clearly alludes to the Virgin Mary. He pays homage to this holy figure in a profoundly affecting style that is reminiscent of the Rosary prayer,

“Lady of silences

Calm and distressed

Torn and most whole

Rose of memory

Rose of forgetfulness

Exhausted and life-giving

Worried reposeful

The single Rose

Is now the Garden

Where all loves end

Terminate torment

Of love satisfied

End of the endless

Journey to no end

Conclusion of all that

Is inconclusible

Speech without word and

Word of no speech

Grace to the Mother

For the Garden

Where all love ends.”

The notion that silent reflection can hasten a greater understanding of humanity than the loud proclamations of the verbose isn`t recognised by society today. It is unfashionable to be thoughtful and quiet. In Eliot`s time the humble parson was a familiar part of life, but now it seems only shallow characters preach from secular pulpits. They promote ideas that only perpetuate misery. There is only short term satisfaction living purely for wealth, status or influence.

In the final section of the poem Eliot makes a plea to God to,

“Teach us to sit still

Even among these rocks

Our peace in His will

And even among these rocks

Sister, mother

And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,

Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.”

Eliot`s pleas deserve to be heeded in a culture that only reveres the proud egoists.

Here the Crow Starves

On the 13th February 1692 the people of Glencoe, Scotland experienced one of the worst episodes of state sponsored violence when 40 members of the MacDonald clan were massacred. The murders were carried out by Scottish Government soldiers who sought to punish subjects deemed to be disloyal to the new monarchs of William III and Mary II.

Many Highlanders felt betrayed as they believed that their “true” King was James II and they resented having to pledge allegiance to a King and Queen who did not represent them. This dissatisfaction was at the root of the Jacobite rebellion in 1689 when Highlanders fought to restore King James to the throne after he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution.

The battle in the Highlands brewed for over a year and cost many lives. The Scottish authorities were concerned that military resources were being wasted on this internecine conflict when they could be utilised for the Nine Years War in Flanders. The Jacobite clan chiefs were offered £12,000 to swear their allegiances but there was widespread confusion amongst them about how the money was to be distributed between the clans. The MacDonald clan were singled out by some of the others as troublemakers, and blamed for the delays in the entire process.

A military unit formed from the Earl of Argyll’s regiment was dispatched to Glencoe in late January 1692. The unit was composed of representatives from the Campbell clan, rivals to the MacDonalds. The Campbells had clashed for many years but that winter was especially harsh and the MacDonalds were magnanimous enough to offer them shelter for twelve days. However as dawn approached on that cold, inhospitable February morning the soldiers attacked the MacDonalds with swords. 38 clan members were killed outright others succumbed to the cold as they staggered out into the frozen mountains in their search for clemency.

The Glencoe massacre was a shocking event in British history and it has never been forgotten. The culture of the Highlanders is still perceived as separate from mainstream Scottish, and indeed British identity. It remains a strong thread in the struggle for a distinct and independent Scottish nation, which declares loyalty to its own ancient heritage.

These historical struggles have created a kind of folk memory, which has imbued literature and art. In David Clement-Davies allegorical novel “Fire Bringer” a family of deer are called upon by their chief stag Rannoch to reclaim their historical inheritance and land that was previously usurped by a rival tribe of deer. Rannoch is appointed clan leader as he was born with an oak leaf upon his forehead, a sign that he was destined to fulfil the prophecy.

The promise is indeed fulfilled, and the story of an oppressed but dignified species of animal searching for their ancestral home is incredibly powerful. It is redolent of Richard Adams` “Watership Down” , that stirring tale of rabbits seeking their original home. Both novels illustrate a strong desire for family and a shared moral and religious purpose, akin to Zionism. This natural yearning to return to an ancestral home is something that continues to reverberate all over the world.

Living on a Thin Line

Three years ago, the acclaimed author Jeanine Cummins played an unwitting part in a literary outrage. The outrage was wholly confected. It was an absurd argument which centred upon the rights and wrongs of authors imagining other lives beyond their own within their work.

Initially the publication of her book “American Dirt” was celebrated as a necessary and humane analysis of the border crisis that was costing numerous lives on that dangerous frontier between Central America and the USA. However one reviewer took exception to the book, but for an entirely spurious and dishonest reason, namely that Cummins was a “white” woman and misunderstood Hispanic people.

Unfortunately this one review sparked an unnecessary and toxic campaign against Cummins herself. She even received death threats from angry and offended people, supposedly speaking on behalf of the entire Hispanic community. It is unclear whether any of these agitators actually had the time and patience to read the book in its entirety, or perhaps they in fact felt entitled and arrogant enough to leap on a bandwagon. Nonetheless the row reflects a fundamental ignorance about the purpose of literature, which is to reflect reality and to allow the reader to empathise with other people.

Cummins was inspired to write the book when she saw a young wheelchair bound man from Honduras living in a refugee camp on the Mexican border. He had attempted to cross into the USA by riding upon the roof of a freight train but fell underneath, and lost both legs. She was so moved by his desperate plight that she spent time acquainting herself with the other migrants and their harrowing stories.

The resulting novel is a deeply disturbing tale that centres upon a young woman caught up in the deadly drugs trade. Her husband is shot by an individual involved in a cartel, and as a consequence has to flee her home town. In fear of her life she has few options. She becomes yet another victim in the extortionate business of people smuggling, and encounters the worst elements of human behaviour.

This is perhaps what these activists objected to, that some people are not motivated by morality, just money. Despite the authenticity and veracity of the characterisation Cummins` reputation was almost destroyed by unfair accusations of cultural appropriation and even racism. This highlights the narrow minded prejudices of individuals who only exist because they have a certain political axe to grind, and have very little regard for artistic expression.

The book was not designed to be overtly political, it was just written in response to a contemporary dilemma. In a wider context the issue of representation has reared up again, and whether supposed “sensitivity readers” should be gainfully employed by publishers. Once more, this is another misunderstanding about writing. Writers do not need to use sensitivity readers because that is the whole point of their craft, to rouse sensitivities.

The truth remains that as soon as difficult feelings and situations are expunged from literature the art will die because it will bear little resemblance to the human experience and reading will become a lifeless and sterile pursuit. The identity of an author should not preclude that writer from writing about other identities. Stereotypes aren`t “offensive” they are just examples of bad writing. A proficient writer knows that these things are to be avoided in order to be taken seriously. Literature should illustrate human folly and flaws, as well as the more positive aspects because that is life.

The Invention of Reason

On the 1st February 1851, the English novelist Mary Shelley died. She was just 53 years old and had succumbed to brain cancer, an illness that she had endured for many years. She was buried alongside her beloved mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, who had passed away shortly after her birth and with the heart of her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley who had drowned on an Italian boating trip in 1822.

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Mary Shelley conceived the story of “Frankenstein” at an alarmingly precocious but also prescient stage of her life. It was 1818, a year when political and social conventions were being tested across Europe. The old order of feudalism and natural hierarchy was clashing with a new, enlightened philosophy which maintained that human reason must triumph over superstitious beliefs.

However the proponents of pure reason censured any notion of human sentiment, in fact they could not conceive that the human soul existed as there was no scientific evidence to prove its physical existence. This radical, progressive ideology that spawned the French Revolution, meant that individual human life had no real significance beyond his or her material manifestation on Earth. This was how, in the wake of the Terror, these supposed rationalists could coldly dispatch any ideological enemy beneath the blades of the Guillotine if they were deemed inimical to the cause.

The rationalists maintained that society was the primary influence upon human character, and if society became more ethical human beings would behave more ethically. They seemed unaware of other elements that shaped the character, namely inheritance which could never be altered whatever society that person lived in, but it is difficult to prove whether this ignorance was wilful or real. Coincidentally new scientific ideas emerged alongside the political foment, and these ideas were a source of fascination for the Shelleys and their contemporaries.

Science conjectured that human life was a purely physical process and that there was no divine intervention involved. Mary Shelley argued that if a human being had no soul then his body was merely expendable. She imagined that a scientist like Victor Frankenstein could be so swayed by his own hubris to create a human being, not in the traditional way, but through his own experimental methods. The fact that the “creature” proves to be a destructive force suggests that the application of science and rationality cannot create perfection.

All human ideas are our own invention, something that we frequently ignore, often due to our own arrogance and complacency. The trope of “Frankenstein” has become embedded within our cultural consciousness. It is cited whenever a crude and unethical science is engendered. It is sometimes necessary to heed Shelley`s warnings for the future.

The Worth of Freedom

On the 24th January 1913, the Czech-German author Franz Kafka stopped writing “Amerika”. This would be his last novel, and it remained unfinished. The uncompleted book, however, is a haunting memorial to a reluctant and enigmatic writer who after his untimely death epitomised the cruel absurdities of the human condition. A word was even created, “Kafkaesque” to describe the frequently stifling and oppressive situations that characterise human life.

“Amerika” is, on the surface, a simple narrative about a young man sent abroad to live with his uncle. He is sent to America as his parents are scandalised by his love affair with a young woman who is now expecting his child. However there is a deeper meaning beneath the surface story, chiefly there is a running theme about liberty and the author questions whether the concept of freedom actually exists in reality.

The main protagonist, Karl Rossman, is just sixteen years old and from a humble Central European country. He has rarely ventured outside his home village and has never been abroad. The veracity of his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend is cast aside as he is forced on to the ship bound for America. This is the country of liberty, exemplified by the statue at New York Harbour. His life as a poor European immigrant is harsh and unforgiving. He accepts a menial job as a lift attendant at a prestigious hotel but is disillusioned and degraded. He finds companionship, and promise of better work, but in rather tragicomic circumstances, in a travelling circus.

The circus seems a rather apt metaphor for humiliation and disappointment, something that the author experienced in his short and painful life. Franz Kafka was born in Prague, in 1883 to Jewish parents. His mother and father worked in fashion retail and were often absent owing to the demands of the family business. Kafka felt controlled by his father throughout his life, and uncertain of his future plans decided to train as a lawyer to please him.

Kafka met Max Brod at law school. Brod shared the same interests and had a similar outlook on life. Both were voracious readers and had secret literary ambitions. However law provided a steady income and once qualified he began work in an insurance office.

It is remarkable that in spite of the long and punishing hours he spent working, he still found time to write. However it wasn`t long before he became stricken with tuberculosis, and he spent the rest of his life in sanatoriums. He died in 1924. He was only 40 years old, was unmarried and left no descendants.

His feelings of shame and inadequacy, both personal and professional, were imbued in his writing. He had long love affairs with women but was convinced that he was physically inadequate and lacked charm. His mundane job also left him feeling that his life had no meaning.

He had no confidence in his writing ability, and he destroyed a large proportion of it. He also instructed Max Brod to burn all of his manuscripts after his death, but Brod refused that request. He published several of his works between 1925 and 1935, and as the Nazis rose to power in Europe he secreted the rest in a suitcase before escaping to Palestine in 1939. “Brod`s Editions” of Kafka`s work grew in popularity, especially after the horrific events of the Second World War and were a major influence on modern writers.

Kafka`s life was rooted in Central Europe, in a lower middle class Jewish family, but his literary vision is universal. It is astonishing that he had never visited the USA but his depictions are eerily accurate. His imagination and empathy was profound and it is the reason behind his international literary legacy that continues to endure.

Brutalities of Progress

On January 27 two self confessed white supremacists will stand trial for criminal damage. The pair of students are alleged to be behind the attack on the Victor Hugo statue. The statue stands in Hugo`s home town of Besancon in Eastern France. It was created in 2003 by the Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow, but was restored in November last year.

The restoration is at the centre of the controversy, and some say provoked the crime. The restored artwork was commissioned by the local council. Besancon council is an overtly left-wing administration. The values promoted by the leadership have clashed with elements of the populace who possess a more culturally conservative outlook.

The council`s restorers were accused of deliberately blackening Hugo`s face. This raised ire and reawakened old grievances, and ultimately spurred the two accused men to commit their crime. The two, named as Theo and Etienne threw white paint over the sculpture and attached a sign that read “white power”.

There is a bitter irony behind this entire saga. Hugo himself was a fierce critic of French colonialism and bemoaned the actions of his countrymen in Algeria. His life’s work was dedicated to restoring the dignity of all human beings. However, the supposed race conscious motives of the council in restoring the statue are just as crass and misguided. The original work was an accurate depiction of the late author, and the sculptor, who died in 2016 did not intend to create an image of a black man. It is extremely patronising to assume that a black artist can only depict other black people in their work.

Nevertheless this impending court case has opened up a necessary conversation about the universal function of art, whether it is literature or sculpture, or any other creative representation of the human experience. It is perfectly reasonable to make the case that human consciousness is the same wherever you are in the world, whether that is Africa or Europe, or any other continent on Earth.

Unfortunately bad actors in politics, both right and left have conspired to distort this view. This is a relatively modern phenomenon. It is a dramatic departure from Enlightenment philosophy which openly declares that all men and women are equal from birth. This was a given until 2020 when a nefarious and shady outfit called BLM exploited the tragedy of George Floyd to stoke an unnecessary culture war, and in turn provoke a puerile campaign to “decolonise” any artistic or intellectual endeavour.

The writer and journalist Graham Hancock has pondered the nebulous concept of human consciousness for many years. His tireless quest to prove that all human minds think alike has meant that he has received abuse and condemnation from academics, scientists and cultural commentators. The very fact that he has continued to pursue his own inquiry proves that he has more determination and courage than his detractors who are simply defending their tenure and reputation, and lucrative source of income.

Hancock was a correspondent for The Economist and had written extensively from the frontline of Ethiopia`s vicious and bloody civil war. Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian civilisations outside of Israel so it was perplexing for him to witness a once homogeneous and peaceful culture descend into barbarity. His beloved father also endured a painful battle with cancer. These two experiences motivated him to forge his own investigation into why modern man felt compelled to express himself through art, and question his unique place on this planet.

Hancock also argues that religious belief is not just a quirk of a more primitive phase of human development, it is a sign of a sophisticated species more attuned to the natural world. The latter part of Hancock`s writing career has been devoted to proving the maxim that the human brain is objectively the same, and this is manifested in the art that has been created throughout the world.

The criticism that he has received is not justified because his detractors have a purely materialist perspective, and negate the importance of mystic or shamanistic experiences of the world. Predictably, these same critics scoff at such interpretations, but this is arrogant and reveals a distinct lack of imagination. The dull philistines who propagate this brutally utilitarian and materialist view of the world ignore how much of human civilization owes to the magical thinking of the seers and prophets. They have shaped our world and inspired the sublime works of art that still provoke and inspire.

A Bird That Lives

On the 10th January 1984 Reynaldo Bignone, the ex-president and general of Argentina was arrested. The arrest was part of a bitter and protracted campaign to bring all of the instigators of Argentina’s “Dirty War” to justice. Argentina had endured over a decade of totalitarian rule, any dissent from the regime was met with the most severe consequences.

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Dissenters were imprisoned, tortured, raped and killed. The victims were euphemistically described by the dictatorship as “the disappeared”. It would take many years for their restitution, and for democracy to be restored. However their desperate plight was not forgotten by the Argentinian writers living in exile, they were their fiercest advocates, and the loudest voices calling for truth, freedom and justice.

It is not known how many of the disappeared were actually killed, it is only an estimation. It is believed that there were at least 30,000 people murdered in the course of the Dirty War. The exiled Argentine poet Juan Gelman was personally and directly affected, as his son and daughter in law were two of the disappeared. Gelman`s sorrow and grief for their loss, and the despair that enveloped him about the political course that his country had taken was channelled into his work.

His poem “Epitaph” illustrates this perfectly,

“A bird lived in me. A flower travelled in my blood. My heart

Was a violin. I loved and didn`t love. But sometimes I was loved.

I also was happy:about the

Spring, the hands together, what

Is happy. I say man has to be!

Herein lies a bird, a flower, a


Gelman evokes the spirit of freedom, encapsulated in the metaphor of the bird. The modern post-colonial nation of Argentina is just like a bird, in that it is a perfect and apt representation of the buccaneering personalities of the early European settlers.

The first wave of immigrants sought their fortunes in this outpost of the Spanish Empire, driven by promise and opportunity. They believed that the vast open spaces of land could herald riches. However, like all imperial projects, this was not a totally seamless or peaceful transition from the old and familiar world to the new world that awaited them.

There were bloody battles fought between the European nations and between the colonial powers and the colonised peoples. It is an inconvenient truth that any nation created through conquest and subjugation will face struggles to define itself, or reconcile with its history.

This is something that we have had to reflect upon in our contemporary world, whether it is actually possible for a country of many cultures and identities to succeed and thrive upon the modern cultural and political stage.