When the true Russian revolution occurred, when the Communists, the Soviets, the KGB and all the repressive machinery of the Russian Empire fell apart, for a few months, a very few months, hope sprang to life in a hundred million minds, a hope which declared, ‘the State does not own us, we are individuals, we do not owe anything to the State!’ I do not need to explain the huge repressive machinery, the KGB, the NKVD, the very Russian Armed forces themselves, all part of the Soviet package which kept the Russian people in slavery-conditions for over fifty years; this all fell apart as the Satellite States, themselves governed as tightly as the Russians, began to flex their own muscles, the urge for freedom which was irreversible, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of East Germany and the inevitable collapse of a whole system which was built on a tissue of lies, backed with guns and tanks.
The freedom did not last long, the the KGB got itself a new name, the Russian Federation became repressive, now controlled after a short space of time by unreconstructed old-school Communists, but now with many more super-wealthy people at the very top, all supporting the nearly-dictator Putin who has so far invaded Georgia, Ossettia and now the Crimea, but at least the idea that the State is the ‘provider’, and therefore the ‘owner’ of people has disappeared.
Travel West a few thousand kilometres, and you end up in the Republic of Ireland, which for many, many decades was run under a similar system to Soviet Russia, but this Government was not of material things, but of the mind and indeed the very soul of all things Irish. I do not write of the Governments imposed by Great Britain, which ended when Partition was declared and the island was split in two; nor do I write of the Government of the Republic of Ireland, which has governed since Independence was declared. I write of the ‘Invisible Government’, which, to all intents and purposes, was the real ‘Government’, I write of the Bishops, of the Parish Priest, whose very word was akin to Law; and of the enormous bureaucracy and wealth of the Catholic Church, which told people what they should read, or write, or even to think and to behave, in and out of wedlock; all according to the traditions and rites of the Roman Catholic Church. Of a ‘Government’ which routinely connived at the issue of passports and travel documents so that small children, the illegitimate sons and daughters of usually illiterate and certainly ill-educated young women who had committed the grave ‘sin’ of having sex outside of marriage, and therefore had borne the very ‘Spawn of Satan’ could be routinely packaged, and sent off to America as they had literally been sold by the convents and homes where they had been born, in false and fake adoptions to ‘good Catholic Families’ in the United States.
As I recently wrote, I watched the documentary by Martin Sixsmith entitled ‘Ireland’s Lost Babies’, which attempted to discover the routes by which literally thousands of babies and tiny children were routinely trafficked, mainly but not exclusively, to widespread dioceses in the United States, and ‘adopted’ for a large ‘donation’ to that same Church, by Catholic families. I place the word ‘adopted’ in inverted commas, because, in most cases, the convents and homes were neither authorised to act as adoption agencies, nor did they question or otherwise check out the suitability of the prospective family units; the only two questions asked was whether the family were ‘practicing Catholic’, and the second question was whether the donation would be cash or cheque? Meanwhile, the mothers, now forever deprived of their children after ‘signing away’ their rights to hold that child ever again, were forced to work as near-slave labour in the Magdalene-like laundries which made another wonderful profit for that same, beneficent, Catholic Church.
I also watched the fantastic film ‘Philomena’, which was the source for the Sixsmith documentary. Yes, it was a fictionalised account of one of these ‘fallen women’ who, after fifty years of grief and trauma, found the courage to speak of the illegitimate son she had given life to, and to attempt, with Martin Sixsmith’s help, to trace her son in America. She, played by the remarkable Judi Dench, had attempted many times to gain knowledge from the convent where she had lived and slaved. The story went from Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan, being a cynical unbeliever of Philomena’s story, to both actually tracing the adoptive parents and finding that that small boy had become a successful lawyer who advised Presidents. They also discovered that Philomena’s son was dead, as he had succumbed to the ravages of AIDs, because he was a homosexual. But the saddest piece of the film was to follow, because the journalist and the grieving mother discovered that her son’s lover had actually taken her son’s remains back to Ireland, and he was buried at the back of the convent where he was born.
There were some remarkably funny moments in that film, but the one piece which shall stay with me for a great many days was when Philomena confronts the aged nun who had not only sent her child away, but also had routinely denied the very fact that the convent knew anything about her son at all. Philomena asks why she had been denied her son, and the old nun shrieked that ‘her child was the result of the grave sin of ‘carnal incontinence’, and what was done; was done!” That, although just a few seconds of a feature fiction film, says it all as far as this commentator is concerned. The Church had ordained that the girls had sinned, they would be punished, and the children, property of the Church, were disposed of as was seen fit. The film may have been made to tell a story, and hopefully make a profit, but it also carried a message, that the Church hasn’t even begun to apologise to those it had routinely abused, betrayed and lied to, and that message grows louder by the day!