Marx on 19 th Century Colonial Ireland: Analyzing Colonialism beyond Dependency Theory (NIRSA) Working Paper Series. No. 36
Slater, Eamonn and McDonough, Terrence (2008) Marx on 19 th Century Colonial Ireland: Analyzing Colonialism beyond Dependency Theory (NIRSA) Working Paper Series. No. 36. NIRSA - National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis.
In this article, we explore the possibility that Marx had a far more complex understanding of the colonialization of Ireland than can be accounted for by Dependency theory. This insight is provided by an examination of Marx’s 1867 Report of the Irish situation during the height of Fenian activity in Britain. We propose that Marx’s crucial conceptualization in this theoretical work is to see colonialism as a regime, which originates at the political level within its various institutions and that the character of this regime changes over time. Accordingly, Marx systematically explores the evolution of the colonizing regime from the Plantations to the middle of the nineteenth century. However, Marx also explicates how the process of colonialism moves out of the political level and subsequently penetrates into the other levels of social and economic activity that make up Irish civil society. These levels include the legal, the economic, the social and the ecological. Consequently, we attempt to articulate this penetration of the other institutions of the Irish social formation by the colonizing regime as a social process which subverts those institutional structures to the colonizing agenda. And in the concrete situation of Ireland, from the Plantations up to the 1860s this agenda meant buttressing a Feudal landlord caste, whose material conditions involved reproducing a Feudal mode of production. From this perspective, the Capitalist mode of production is neither the cause nor the consequence of the colonialization of Ireland by the British.
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