History as the Foundation for Local Government Reform in Ireland
Like fish that are unaware of the water they live in, when we seek to reform our political systems, we often find them hard to visualise. They are big, abstract and it is therefore difficult to imagine how the systems around us could be different.
so we must use contrast to highlight by comparison with other systems
most commonly and what is used is other countries. A valuable excercise, but it could be improved
The problem with foreign systems is that they are foreign, and may not be suitable to our own circumstances.
So even good ideas must be translated for our particular circumstances. how is this translation to be achieved?
The answer to this is that as well as comparison to modern countries, our analysis should also be based on a comparison with our own past.
Firstly, reform is impossible if we do not understand how our system has evolved to be as it is,
This extra dimension is particularly important in a colonised country in which development has not necessarily been in the interests of the colonised country but in those of the colonising power.
The past is another country, but it is one that has led to this one, and therefore contains within it the origins of our cultural, territorial and political systems. Traditions are different in different areas, for a reason
analysis that must be deeper than is commonly supposed
the history of a country affects its psychology, in a mass sense, a factor that makes certain solutions more or less suitable to a people.
There are natural economic and cultural regions that have grown up over thousands of years ones that we must suspect represent the optimum in balance.
reform plans should take account of this information
We should use foreign ideas and inspiration by all means, but in order to apply these most effectively and with maximum sensitivity and sophistication, they should be blended with historical perspectives.