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May 3, 2018 | Surrounded on All Sides…

Is an American author of books and articles on economic and financial subjects. He is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, and author of the daily financial column, Diary of a Rogue Economist.

PORTLAW, IRELAND – Not much to report on from the financial world.

Nothing much happening.

But when the news restarts, we predict it will be bad.

In the meantime…



Living By Myths

Remember, we live by myths. We are afraid to pass up a penny on the street or step on a crack.

We think democracy is good and that voting is a “civic responsibility.” Some people even believe that we should try to export our democracy to other countries whether they want it or not.

We think murder and theft are bad. We think “giving back” is good… and that there are “terrorists” whom we must defend ourselves against.

Often, we believe in myths that contradict each other. We think “deficits don’t matter.” But we also think we should “save for a rainy day.”

We think people should be direct and honest; but we appreciate people who have the good grace not to tell us what they really think of us.

Children should be spontaneous and “natural,” but they should be taught to say please and thank you.

And yes, we should “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”

But our generosity of spirit gives out quickly.

We vote for a man who promises to “hit back ten times as hard”… murder the families of terrorists… deport Mexicans… and execute people who sell illegal drugs.

We can never prove that any of these myths are “true.” But for all their uncertainty, ambiguity, and gainsaying, we make our decisions based on these notions.

They give our lives meaning… and direction.

But which of them – like a parable engraved on an ancient stone – offer useful instruction, condensed wisdom, and distilled experience?

And which are just convenient claptrap… campaign slogans… and flattering lies, tossed about like day-old bread to a starving mob?

We promised to tell you.



Closing the Exits

But today, we keep you in suspense; rather than attack our prize directly, we will round on it… exploring both the sacred and the profane… and close the exits as we go along so that it cannot escape.

Myths claimed two famous victims in Youghal, Ireland in the 17th century. We learned about poor Florence Newton already; she was tried as a witch (and presumably executed… the records are incomplete).

The second was Dominic Collins: soldier, adventurer… and finally… a Jesuit brother. It was in this last role that he was hung in 1602.

One of the major myths of that era was that Catholics and Protestants couldn’t live peacefully side by side. One would get up to no good. The other had to protect itself.

Another important related myth was that Catholic Ireland, on the English rear, represented a threat.

These two myths led to invasions, wars, battles, uprisings, executions, mass murders, and so forth… much like Afghanistan today. Or Syria.

But the myths were useful… to some.

And here, the difference between useful myth and pernicious myth begins to come into focus.



Siege of Dunboy

To the ambitious Englishman, Irish land and labor were too attractive to ignore. Soon, there were English “plantations” all over Ireland, much like those of colonial Virginia. In Virginia, the native Indians were pushed back, marginalized, or exterminated. In Ireland, it was the Irish who got in the way.

And so it was that Dominic Collins found himself in Dunboy Castle, allegedly taking care of the spiritual needs of 143 Irish soldiers who were surrounded by 4,000 English troops.

This was not going to end well. Irish forces, under Red Hugh O’Donnell and Hugh O’Neill, had been beaten at the Battle of Kinsale earlier that same year.

Red Hugh O’Donnell had fled to Spain in hopes of getting more help from the Spanish. He died soon after at age 29, never seeing his native Ulster again. No relief for the Irish at Dunboy was going to come.

The English captured the castle in short order. They hung all the Irish soldiers. But for Collins, they had another plan. They took him back to his hometown.

There, the idea was that he would renounce his Catholic faith in front of the townspeople. In return, the English would let him live.

What went wrong, we don’t know. But when Collins addressed the crowd in Youghal, he did so in Gaelic.

The English must have been puzzled, especially as the attendant spectators seemed to grow more hostile. The hangman ran off, fearing mob violence.

Then, Collins explained in English, cheerfully, that he had no intention of giving up his faith and that he would happily die for it.

A fisherman was quickly put to work by the English. He put the rope around the Jesuit’s neck and kicked the stool out from under him.

Collins was proclaimed a martyr by Pope John Paul II in 1992.




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May 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Bill Bonner's Diary

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