Intellectuals and the Ideological Hijacking of Fine Gael, 1932-1938
This book covers a unique, yet virtually ignored episode in Irish history-the efforts by intellectuals to influence and shape in a radical way the policies and direction of a major political party. Between 1932 and 1934, Michael Tierney and James Hogan, both university academics, exploited the opportunity offered by the formation of the Blueshirts and Fine Gael to promote their views for an alternative social, economic and political order. This order was inspired by Catholic social teachings, in particular those enunciated by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, issued in 1931. In it the pontiff had advocated a social system which sought to reconcile the conflicting interests of capital and labour by essentially giving representation to the various economic interests in society by organising them according to their vocational groupings. With ideas rooted in contemporary Catholic social and political philosophy, especially Catholic corporatism or vocationalism, Tierney and Hogan intended that Fine Gael become the vehicle for the promotion of their ideas. In effect, they virtually hijacked the objectives of the party. Under their influence and that of others, including Eoin O'Duffy and Ernest Blythe, Fine Gael adopted corporate principles and began the process of formulating policies to give practical expression to them. Among those the party produced was a detailed labour policy. The advocates of corporatism, though always a tiny minority within the party, enjoyed a disproportionate influence. They contributed, however, to divisions within Fine Gael during a turbulent period in Irish politics. Moreover, the party's opponents in Fianna Fail and the labour movement successfully characterised it as advocating fascism. Their ultimate failure has obscured the significance of the achievement of Hogan, Tierney and their allies. They transformed Fine Gael into a political party with a radical and distinct ideological programme and succeeded in giving Irish politics, for a brief period in the 1930s, a new dimension and vibrancy.
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