The Burkean

Gaslighting is nothing new in modern politics. Day after day, massive media and political institutions both downplay the importance of certain elements of world history, while massively inflating others. 

For those of us critical of the contemporary world, this is hardly news. One has come to expect that the story presented to you on a variety of topics are warped to a nigh unrecognizable degree. 

And yet the lengths to which the worldwide media has gone in trying to erase the existence of Irish slaves still shocks me. 

Simply putting in the terms ‘Irish Slaves’ into Google reveals nothing but gaslighting articles speaking out about how the very idea of an Irish slave is a ‘white supremacist’ myth. Of course, the authors of these pages more often than not are the descendants of groups who directly benefited from the mass exploitation of the Irish, but let’s leave that to one side.

So, were the Irish slaves? Before I answer this question, I will set myself a ground rule. Purely for the sake of argument, I will not consider ‘Indentured Servitude’ as a form of slavery in this article. While this barbaric practice would constitute a form of slavery to any reasonable person, for my mostly Anglo interlocutors, it does not.

From what I can see, this is due to the fact that the abhorrent fate of an indentured servant was supposedly not something inherited by one’s children. Never mind the fact that those children would have been deprived of their homeland and their culture by the practice. For the privileged writers at the Irish Times, such a loss is apparently trivial, and as such ‘Indentured Servitude’ cannot be considered a kind of slavery.

But that’s okay. I don’t need to cite the awful experiences of the Irish in North America. Or in Jamaica. Or Australia. While my personal belief is that this handicap imposed on me by our so-called ‘intellectual’ class is an unjustifiable one, borne largely out of anti-european hatred, it is nevertheless a handicap I can live with. 

So, without further ado, let us take a brief look at the history of Irish slaves.

Irish slaves have existed in one form or another since the genesis of Irish as an identity. Celtic Ireland had a slave caste in the form of the daer fuidhir. These people were not entitled to bear arms, nor to recompense if a family member was murdered. It was also not uncommon for these slaves to be sold off to labour in Roman Britain.

However, the daer fuidhir caste wasn’t utterly inescapable, and the prospect of a family moving up the caste system was far from unheard of. As such, perhaps our beloved ‘intellectuals’ may not want to call this a form of slavery either. 

Slavery in Ireland only really hit its height with the arrival of the Vikings. This warlike foreign force was fond of their thralls, slaves they took from the people they raided and conquered. Dublin served as a significant hub for the sale of Gaelic slaves both domestically and internationally. Such slaves were so prolific throughout the Norse world that a significant proportion of Scandinavian DNA can be traced back to Irish slaves. This goes especially for Iceland, where the DNA of the average resident is around 30% Gaelic. 

To say the life of a thrall was brutal would be a massive understatement. Both physical and psychological abuse was common for these slaves. In fact, it appears that, upon their master’s death, thralls were often ritually sacrificed in order to follow their master into the afterlife.

Arab explorer and theologian Ibn Fadlan describes one such sacrifice in gruesome detail, writing that a female slave was raped by multiple men, stabbed, and finally throttled, before burning with her master and the rest of his grave goods. While such 3rd party accounts of indigenous traditions should always be looked upon with a certain degree of skepticism, the archeological record strongly supports Ibn Fadlan’s account. It is rather common to find beheaded bodies alongside sans any grave goods alongside the remains of an important Viking. 

However, perhaps the plight of the thrall occurred too long ago for the ‘intellectuals’ in our society to actually count it as relevant to our discussion. If such is the case, then I will turn our attention towards the Barbary slave trade.

From the early 16th to late 18th century, Barbary corsairs were a near constant threat on European shorelines. These pirates primarily traded in slaves, capturing unsuspecting people in coastal villages and selling them in their base cities of Algiers, Tripoli and Tunis. White slaves were of particular value to these pirates, with caucasian females often fetching far higher prices within the Ottoman trade compared to women of other backgrounds. Historians estimate that up to 1.25 million people of European descent were abducted and sold into slavery by these pirates.

The Sack of Baltimore in West Cork is perhaps the most famous of these Barbary raids. Led by famous Dutch Muslim convert and pirate, Murat Reis the Younger, Barbary pirates abducted the entire population of mostly Protestant settlers in a single night. As a result, Baltimore was abandoned until the 18th century.

The Barbary slave trade made up a small part of the much larger slave industry within the Ottoman Empire. Unlike other civilizations, the Ottoman Empire was truly built on slavery. Between a fifth and a quarter of the population of Istanbul at one stage were slaves, consisting of labourers, concubines, and even bureaucrats. Quite famously, a significant part of the Ottoman Empire’s military were made up of slave converts, taken from non-muslim families as boys and molded into the Empires most elite soldiers.

In conclusion, the Irish were most certainly slaves, and any attempt to say otherwise is blatantly false. So why do so many powerful people, institutions and publications make this claim?

One response I am expecting is that no one is making this claim. Instead, these people are making the claim that the Irish were never slaves on the American continents. However, this response does not stand up to the most basic scrutiny. 

If all the articles calling out the ‘white supremacist myth’ of Irish slavery were merely ‘refuting’ the idea that there were Irish slaves in the US, then every single article would feature two things. First, they would be clearly marked as saying that the Irish were not slaves specifically in America. While some articles do indeed do this, they more often than not only passively mention the fact they’re talking about America only, with most not even mentioning the geographical limit at all.

Secondly, they would also clearly point out that the Irish were slaves in other areas of the world at various points in history, just as I have in this article. None of the articles ‘refuting Irish slavery’ do this. Instead, they will blather on and on about how ‘Irish’ people have benefitted from slavery, using the term to refer to the protestant ascendency of the island. Victim blaming at its finest.

With that argument out of the way, let us return to the question of why so many people, institutions and publications claim the Irish were never slaves. My answer is as follows.

Firstly, it is a result of the reduction of the Irish race into the construct of ‘whiteness’. While the throwing around of the term social construct is usually the sole remit of the modern progressive, the dogmatic denial of Irish slavery is actually the result of such a social construct. 

With the overwhelming dominance of the United States in the 21st century, the contemporary intellectual class wishes nothing more but to emulate their perceived center of the world. As such, the issues of this land are being examined more and more through an American lens.

As a result, ethnic groups that have spent thousands of years fighting each other are not only reconciled, but conflated in the mind of the modern ‘intellectual’. In the minds of these people, a Protestant landlord was no different than his Gaelic serf. Why? Because they were both ‘White’, and they were both ‘Irish’. Therefore, the sins of one are the sins of the other.

Another consequence of this americaphilia is the denigration of the reality of events that occurred outside of the United States. For these ‘intellectuals’, the only history that really matters is American history, and the history that was impacted by and had a direct impact on the American continent. This is why when the likes of Boko Haram kidnap an entire village, such an event is given next to no coverage, but when a police officer kills a black man in the US, mass protests are warranted, even during a deadly pandemic.

When it comes to the Irish slavery question then, all that really matters is what happened in North America. Since no Irish people were slaves in North America, then Irish slavery is, by definition, a myth. The existence of Irish slaves outside America at the exact same time is of no consequence, as the only events that are truly real are those that happened in America.

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