The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, October 29, 2021

The Great Dying: Ireland as a Distant Mirror

After a series of six posts on the "age of exterminations" (one,  two,  three, four, five, and six) I wrote that I was moving to different subjects. But then I stumbled into this video on the Irish famine of mid 19th century. It is so fascinating (in a certain sense) that I can't avoid sharing it with you. (note: the full movie was available on YouTube when this post was published. Now, only the trailer is available. It still provides a good idea of what the movie is about and watching the whole thing is strongly suggested)

You may know something about the great Irish famine that began in 1845. History tells us of millions of deaths, but the whole thing for us remains remote. We don't really realize who the victims were, how, why, what exactly happened. But I strongly suggest you to watch the 2020 movie "The Hunger: The Story of the Irish famine" (trailer). 

It is a hit to the stomach. After having seen this movie, I don't know how to describe it. A nightmare? A horror movie? A Flemish painting of the triumph of death? Munch's Scream multiplied by one million? Just imagine for a moment what it might have been like to live in those years for the Irish. No food, no money, no possessions, no power, no friends, and no hope. Even burying the dead became a daunting task: you can still see in Ireland the mass graves of the time where the bodies were thrown in thousands. The film doesn't mention cannibalism, but there are reports that it happened at least in two cases. Surely there were many more. 

What's really horrifying is how the British government treated the Irish. Think about it for a moment: the Irish were citizens of the United Kingdom, at least theoretically. You could define them as "second-class" citizens. But they were not treated as such. Not even as non-citizens, they were treated as not belonging to the human race. Do you remember the "Untermenschen"? The "subhumanity" of which the Nazis spoke? That's what it was. 

It's true that the Irish made their mistakes, but if they were as poor as they were it was because the English had exploited Ireland in a way that cannot even be described by the metaphor "to the bone" - they had exploited it all the way to the marrow, and then they had devoured that too. The Irish didn't even own the land on which they built their shacks. They had nothing but their potatoes. With the potatoes gone, they had no choice but to starve to death.

All in all, it wouldn't have cost the British government that much to save the Irish, or at least reduce the damage. The film shows how in the rest of Europe the loss of the potato crop did not cause major famines. It was because outside Ireland people were much less dependent on potatoes and because governments were acting seriously to manage the food emergency. But the English government did almost nothing. It is likely that many people in England thought that it was a good idea to "thin out" those lazy Irish. 

I said in a previous post that governments are the most dangerous thing in the world if you count how many people they have directly killed with wars and various exterminations. But the damage they have caused indirectly in cases like the Irish famine is also appalling. Today, governments have much more power than they had at the time of the famine. They have your digital money, they have electronic surveillance, they have drones, they have weapons, they have everything. And you, like the Irish of the  19th century, have nothing. Not even potatoes.  


  1. It seems I can't get rid of advertising on this blog. Sorry about that. I tried to remove in all possible ways, but it is still there. At least, I keep seeing is. Do you folks see the ads, too?

    1. I am in Australia,and don't see any advertisments. On the right is 'popular posts', plus 'The Empty Sea' ,blogroll,and archive.

    2. No. Desde Bilbao, España. Con Wds10 y Kaspersky.

  2. I don't see any ads--great blog though, please continue writing.

  3. Still no advertising for me. Maybe because I am signed in to my Google account?
    Any way, some version of violence,hunger,and/or disease gets a certain proportion of us every year . The forth horseman is different ... he gets all the rest.

  4. Ugo
    The web version of the article is shot through with ads but I don’t see any on the compacted version of the site that appears on my iPhone browser.

  5. I don't see any, I responded a few minutes ago too. BUT, I just remembered I use an adblocker, so that is probably why I don't.
    If you get some $$ from the ads, leave them. If people are bothered by them, they can use a free adblocker like me. (I love it, it blocks ads on youtube too which is great)

  6. By 1845, Europe has seen America is lacking the population density to exploit it, and Ireland pushed to live the softly-forced mass migration - a likely an early rehearsal of Huxley's Over-Organisation...

    Earlier, South America needed migrants and humans forcefully pushed into it from Spain - after Columbus...

    Millions have been forced to migrate from the Middle East to Europe, since 1914 - which might be no more than another pre-planned, forced, soft Islamisation of the continent, too...

    As fossil fuels deplete and go away for good, National States revert back to pre-WW I reality - there is no borders - by Physics...

    The trauma in Israel recently from how treatments for the pandemic have been badly conducted - is a prelude for Peace by Physics between Arabs and Israel:

    Since Babylon, Jews have always been living between Baghdad and Marrakesh, Aden and Alexandria protected by Arabs - and so they will be in the future after fossil fuels are no more.

    Soon, after the fossil fuels age is gone, let a human make it travelling between nations on feet or on the back of an animal - in one piece - and then putting checkpoints at any national borders can be justified, if ever again...

    Fossil fuels were immensely energy-dense, entirely socialised and traded cheaper than water as if looted - distances between geographies seemed a non issue for humans...

    Fossil fuels have killed the natural future for humans, by the agency of Huxley's Over Organisation - forced mass-migration has become a common practice..

    Especially when humans are pushed now into the vicious Energy Musical Chairs Game...


  7. Yes they are there. I just ignore them. I will watch this film tomorrow. I fear for the future

  8. Good morning Mr Bardi,

    There are no adds from my side as I read your excellent blog... but I use AdBlock, which, informs me that it has blocked 6 adds on your page.



  9. There is and advice for every post, but only one for each one.

  10. i see advertising of funny clothes. With the frequency with which i buy clothes they are probably wasted on me...
    I see also the advertising apparently about a gothic fiction "The empty sea"!!

  11. Popular English joke from the 1700's:

    "What is the world's greatest invention? Why, the wheelbarrow, of course! It taught the Irish to walk on their hind legs!"

  12. Every European should watch this movie. The calamity is just around the corner. Overpopulation with resource depletion and food scarcity are in itself enough to create the necessary conditions, but when the government's criminal mismanagement is added to the formula, the disaster is guaranteed. Europeans lived in relative prosperity for the last several decades, but things can change quickly and for worse.

  13. 10Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle c and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

  14. Ugo, I am sure you know that the Brits also did this to the Indians...wouldn't even allow them to use their own grain...and I think to the Persians...pre WWI or II?It wasn't even a population issue...just took it for the war effort I think. Mike Davis's excellent book: Late Victorian Holocausts is worth mentioning. All of these pieces have been excellent and I thank you for writing them. Christine

    1. I know. Not well enough to make a post out of these events, but, yes, extermination by famine is a common strategy against all "untermenschen"

  15. I read Davis's book long ago and don't own it, but checked this to see if my memory was correct:
    The description jolted me because in many ways it mirrors what's going on now with The Great Reset.

  16. Thanks for sharing the link to this history lesson. I think it is a very good example of how ideology drives decision making. The free-market-for-us religion was dominant then, and it is coming back now.
    The 1840s had also seen the First Opium War, which was a similar example of ruthlessness unto another (supposedly inferior!) people, justified by The Right Christian Faith and Free-market-for-us religion.
    I guess the de-humanization of the other is necessary, if you want to build an empire.

    Every group that claims some kind of "exceptionalism" is prone to this myopia. I think that's why most kings who were called "The Great" throughout history led the largest genocides. And we all know what the "American Exceptionalism" has led to during the last fifty years...

    I think that what is happening in Gaza the last 20 years is another example of the same mindset. And Xinjiang.

    Famine based on otherness and dehumanization is never far away, and it can come back and hit us hard.

    Regarding the foolishness of relying on one crop - now we rely on Diesel for probably 99% of the harvest and processing.


  17. ... and of course how we treat Africa as a whole.


  18. It was very touching when I learned about how the Choctaw Nation had given money to the Irish during the Famine when they hadnt much themselves.
    Very fitting that last year during the pandemic we returned the favour.

  19. There is also a great multi part documentary from arte that came out quite recently :
    english :
    (ah but it looks it is the same one ! :) )