Dissembled Fascism: The Irish Blueshirts and the Battle for Nationalist Legitimacy.
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis looks at the Irish Blueshirts, a fascist organisation that appeared in Ireland in the 1930s. By examining the wider historical context of Irish Independence (1921) and the ensuing Civil War (1922-1923), I hope to shed light on the way in which post-colonial and fascist ideology interacted in the emergence and failure of this movement. In this thesis, I look at the way Irish political identities were historically constructed and how these devolved into a rehearsal of colonial dialectics in the civil war and during the formation of the Irish Free State. Dispute over the Anglo-Irish Treaty that brought independence led to civil war, leaving a deeply ingrained oppositionality in the politics of independent Ireland: pro-treatyite against anti-treatyite. In the 1930s, the resurgent anti-treatyites peacefully took power and the Blueshirts represent a desperate attempt by the pro-treatyites to challenge the increased dominance of their opponents. By exploring the role of colonial dialectics in the emergence of the Blueshirts, I argue that the palingenetic mythic core of fascism was used in an attempt to challenge the monopoly anti-treatyites had achieved over the Irish nationalist tradition of revolutionary republicanism. My examination of the Blueshirts reveals opportunistic motivations behind the embrace of fascist aesthetics and rhetoric by the pro-treatyites, but also the limitations of fascism as a tool to marshal populist support. Through a discussion of why fascism failed in this particular case-study, I hope to offer a better understanding of fascism as an ideology and the post-colonial construction of Irish political identities.