Web Site http://theploughblog.
Vol 5-No 14
22 December 2008
E-mail newsletter and blog of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) Thoughts for Christmas
3) PSNI/RUC –What’s the Difference
4) IRSP Oppose Second Referendum: But Urge A No Vote
5) Back On The Plantation
6) Are We All Barmy?
7) éirígí- New Zealand interview
As 2008 draws to a close it is usual to reflect on what has past and make new resolutions for the New year. Much has changed and much remains the same.
Capitalism is in crisis. The so-called “credit crunch” gets the blame for the crisis. This of course is a good way to shift the blame on to the consumers who spent too much and created such debt that the system started to collapse. So ironically in order to save the system those same consumers are now being encouraged to spend! spend! spend!! Right -wing Governments are all but nationalising the banks, pouring billions into their coffers and calling on the workers to tighten their belts, accept reduced wages, and reductions in their living standards. While there are greedy bankers, investors etc the crisis is not the result of their greed. Crisis is inherent in the capitalist system. Marx was the first to really analysis the system of capitalism and today all over the world many are going back to the writings of Karl Marx to make sense of the world system.
“In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs would have seemed an absurdity – the epidemic of over production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation has cut off the supply of every means subsistence, industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? (“The Communist Manifesto” Karl Marx- http://www.marxists.org/
Take the car industry today. There is massive overproduction and yet the Bush administration wants to bolster the car industry by pouring billions of taxpayers money into subsidising that industry while reducing the wages and conditions of the workers in that industry. So much for the “free market” espoused by the capitalist classes for the past thirty years. Capitalism itself creates anarchy in production, sponsors wars and in pursuit of profit distorts and destroys the very world we live in and ignores the appalling poverty it causes. (See Thoughts for Christmas below)
The claims of the apologists for capitalism, that it is democratic and egalitarian, is absurd. Democracy is ignored when the results go against the interests of the capitalists .(See IRSP Oppose Second Referendum below)
Much has been made of the concept of equality particularly in relation to the Northern Statelet. The Provisionals in rewriting history managed to place “ equality” as the main focus of the armed struggle. However equality is grossly overrated. For example both the rich man and the poor man have equal rights to sleep on the streets. Do you thinks they equally exercise that right?
The full power of the media is also used to get what it wants. For example Irish News Columnist Tom Kelly was one of the key figures behind the British Government’s manipulation of the conduct of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. Writing in the Irish News Dec 22nd 2008 he justifies the ban on Republicans in the media imposed by Conor Cruise O’Brien in the 1970’s
“ No one –not even the media has the right to be complicit in advocating the rights of anarchists or insurrectionists in a democracy-”
So the message from these advocates of capitalism is no free speech for those want to change systems. No chance of the likes of Tom Kelly raising awkward questions for the PSNI and its attack on political activists ( See PSNI/RUC –What’s the Difference below)
Another change has been the election of the First Black President to run the USA. Amidst all the enthusiasm for Barack Obama it should be remembered that in the words of a former President “ the business of America is business”
Obama’s mission is to reform capitalism. (See “Back On The Plantation” below) Those who place great hopes in him are doomed to be disillusioned.
Marxists analysis the world we live. That analysis explains how capitalism works. But it is not a religion. It is a tool to be used. Unfortunately the inability of many socialists to avoid making petty sectarian attacks on other socialists alienates many working class people from the ideas of socialism. There are socialist sects who genuinely belief that they and only they know true revolutionary path. They reserve their fiercest criticism for other socialists and soft pedal on their criticism of the system they are supposed to oppose.
These sectarians provide great ammunition for other republicans to take a standoff approach to working class issues. We believe that in this they are mistaken. The IRSP has always advocated that republicans must take a leading part in the struggles of the working class. Over the past few years we have increased our involvement in those struggles while never losing our radical anti-Imperialism. We recognised, before many others, that the Good Friday Agreement was a severe defeat for Republicanism. That defeat only strengthened our belief that it only through the working class that genuine liberty can be achieved.
“Seasons greeting to all our readers”
Thoughts for Christmas
In a report published on 20 October to the UN's International Network on Water Environment and Health (INWEH) stated that 2.5 billion people (a third of global population) has no access to proper toilets (ie which are free from diseases) and 1.2 billion other have no access to toilets at all and have to either relieve themselves wherever they can (resulting in 200 million tons of shit ending every year in rivers causing pollution etc) or sometimes have to queue up to half an hour to wait for their turn in collective toilets.
The health impact is considerable: diseases linked to diarrhea kill 1.8 million people every year, including 5000 children every day. 88 % percent of those deaths are related to the lack of proper toilets. The UN estimates that it would only cost 38 billion dollars to give everyone access to proper toilets. (Herve Morin, L'acces aux toilettes, enjeu mondial de developpement, Le Monde, 30 October 2008)
Terry Eagleton wrote that it would take a transformation of the political economy of the entire planet to make sure every one on it had access to clean drinking water....
Parallell to this UN estimate is that the number of people suffering from hunger has increased from 848 million in 2005 to 925 million in 2008.
PSNI/RUC –What’s the Difference
Another IRSP member from Strabane was arrested on December 17th in the morning under the ''Terrorist Act 2000'' in connection with alleged membership of the INLA and the killing of drug dealer and suspected PSNI agent Brian McGlynn. The CID took his wife into a room and proceeded to question her and put a number of propositions to her asking her to work for them and that they would relocate her and her family if she would provide evidence/information on Willie Gallagher and another IRSP man who was arrested last week. They also asked her if she had any information on the Republican Forum meetings held in Toome. She couldn't get over the audacity of them and told them to fuk off!
On Tuesday 9th DecemberWillie Gallagher was arrested at 7.00am under the same Act and same allegations and taken to Antrim PSNI station. Also on the warrant was seizure of all mobile phones and computers. During the raid they allowed his two young sons aged 8 and 5 to go to school. At the end of the raid at approximately 10.45am when they couldn't locate any mobile phones they threatened to arrest his wife if she didn't tell them the whereabouts of mobiles and stated that they were going to take the two sons out of school to search them. The school was contacted and it was stated to them that under no circumstances were the PSNI to be give permission to take them out or search them. A relative of Willie Gallagher then went and took them out of the school.
The solicitor acting on behalf of Willie Gallagher was present during all of these so-called interviews during Tuesday and Wednesday and stopped the interviews several times during both days to make a written complaint to the station inspector that nothing was being put to WG. and that there was no grounds, outside of a PSNI publicity stunt, for his arrest. At one time, during one of the suspensions, he asked the inspector if there was a Human Rights Commissioner as he wanted to make contact to complain about the nature of W.G.’s arrest. He was told to make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman to which he replied that he felt that his complaint went beyond the Ombudsman’s remit. The PSNI were also accused during these interviews of deliberately leaking the name of WG. to the local radio stations and press and they didn't dispute the fact that many people equate arrest with guilt and that was the real purpose of his arrest.
It is also worth mentioning that before each interview the PSNI gave the solicitor a written form which they call “disclosure[ and they ask questions on that particular disclosure. At one stage in one of these disclosure documents it stated that they wanted to question W.G. about his association with named individuals. In the solicitor’s consultation room WG pointed out to his solicitor that one of the names was wrong and that person was dead. They probably meant the name of a person who had arrested a fortnight before. Within 30 seconds there was the running of feet towards the consultation room and the detective in charge asked to see the solicitor and told him they made a mistake with one of the names. The solicitor then entered the consultation room laughing quite loudly stating that they weren't shy in making it obvious that the consultation room was bugged.
During the second day of WG’s detention the PSNI arrested another IRSP man from Strabane, Andy Connolly and during his two days in Antrim his solicitor also made similar complaints. Both of the arrest warrants were issued on the 27th November but they didn't effect them for almost a fortnight. They raided Andy's house when he was present in between those two dates. WG was released the following evening and Andy was released a day later.
The arrests cannot be viewed in isolation and that there is a wider context. It is the vilification, demonisation and marginalisation of anti-GFA republicans in general and in this instance the IRSP in particular The state forces are also using a compliant media in their strategy. Only recently the PSNI claimed that they uncovered £10k of controlled drugs connected to the INLA during searches in Strabane and Derry. They were forced to backtrack when the only newspaper, the Strabane Chronicle, challenged the PSNI for evidence and details of the find in which they refused. The IRSP later found out that steroids were seized in Derry and had nothing to do with raids on the IRSP.
Even more alarming was the case of a Strabane man called Paul Madden who on the 30th November was pulled in by the PSNI at Belfast airport when returning from Poland. He was asked to work for them, was offered £100,000 to do so and it was put to him that he had access to both A. C.'s and W.G.’s house and that he could ''plant evidence'' in both houses.
At one stage they asked him what was in his bags and he jokingly replied ''two kilos of coke'' and they stated that if he agreed to work for them they would give him ''safe passage'' through the airports with whatever he wanted if he agreed to work for them and do as they asked. He told them to fuk off and contacted the IRSP that night about what happened and appeared badly shook up by his experience.
Paul Madden and Willie Gallagher did an interview with the Strabane Chronicle on the 8th December told them his story and informed them that he was going to his solicitor to make a formal complaint and that he was also going to complain to the Police Ombudsman. The very next day Willie Gallagher was arrested. Thus does policing work in the new “reformed” Northern Ireland. Provisional Sinn Fein must be proud that they “put manners” (to quote Adams) on the PSNI.
Common practice for the PSNI now seems to be
Ø The bugging of solicitor’ consultation with clients,
Ø The planting of evidence,
Ø Turning a blind eye to drug dealers,
Ø Arresting children
Ø Harassment of political activists
Ø Lying to the Media
Ø Using the media to discredit political activists who don’t accept the current political settlement.
Ø Spying on legitimate political meetings
IRSP Oppose Second Referendum: But Urge A No Vote
The Irish Republican Socialist Party are opposed to any second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The people have already voted on this issue last June, 2008, and rejected the advice of the establishment and their parties and kicked Lisbon out. Now because things did not go the establishments way they, and their political masters in Paris and Brussels, have decided that the people must vote again and this time, from their view point, get it right. There is one thing for certain if, last June, the outcome of the first referendum had been favourable towards the establishment parties and Lisbon was accepted there would have been more chance of finding rocking horses running at Epsom than a second referendum. The establishment are going ahead with this insult simply because they can! It can be reasonably argued that this issue, following a precedent being set after the Nice Treaty was re-run, signals the beginning of the end for the Irish Constitution. Referenda are all well and good provided they go the establishments way and when they don’t, try again. If the voice of the people is as sovereign as we are led to believe Lisbon would be dead and buried. It would appear that treaties in Ireland are similar to Brams Stockers character Dracula, the people think the beast is dead only to find it risen from the dead.
Recently our political leaders came back from Brussels with some half- baked tale about promises “of legally binding guarantees” which are meaningless. They are not even guarantees but merely “promises of guarantees” which are certainly not the same thing. Even the promises they have are not priority issues. The issue of a commissioner was sited by around 2-3 percent of respondents when surveyed as to why they voted no! Things which really matter to people, such as the possibility of public services going out to private tender, and workers rights, didn’t even warrant a “promise of a guarantee”. Any workers rights will be subject to the needs of capitalism and the bosses being served adequately first meaning, the bosses will still have the right to trample all over workers except with the Lisbon Treaty behind them. The European elite gave some vague recognition of respecting Irelands neutrality while at the same time continuing to speak of “Battle Groups”. For what it is worth at a meeting, which the IRSP attended, at the offices of the European Commission in Dublin on Monday 15th December a speaker representing the Fine Gael party, Lucinda Creighton, when questioned by a representative of the Irish Anti War Movement on Irish neutrality said Ireland “was not neutral”. Fine Gael are supposed to be the party of opposition in the Dail. However when it comes to defending the class interests of the bourgeoisie there is no opposition. When the IRSP representative questioned Joe Costello, Labour Party, at the same meeting about his party’s apparent change of heart regarding a second referendum he was unable to give a straight answer. The question was put to Joe that “the Labour Party were against a second referendum after the defeat of the first one” he answered “we are opposed to a second referendum in the same format, asking the same questions”. When the Chairperson of the forum, Kevin Rafter, pushed the labour speaker asking “if you had to vote tomorrow which way would you vote” to which the beleaguered Labour TD again could not give a straight answer.
As far as the IRSP are concerned there should be no second referendum as it has already been decided by the people. However given the fact that there is going to be one we, along with our colleagues in the Campaign Against European Union Constitution, will be campaigning for another rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Lisbon mark one was essentially the ill-fated European Constitution, rejected by the French and Dutch electorate which was why these people were not allowed to vote on acceptance or rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Just as Lisbon mark one was of no noticeable difference to the European Constitution, so too will Lisbon mark two be of any consequential difference to its ill-fated predecessor.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party would strongly recommend another rejection, not that there should be a re-run in the first place, of the Lisbon Treaty. We would warn people who may be undecided that any “promises of guarantees” are a far cry from written guarantees and must not be taken in the same light. Even if the government do manage to get something more concrete on the area of a commissioner how much importance would you, the people, place on this issue? Also do not be misled with such clap trap as “we have received a declaration” from the European Commission because, like “promises of guarantees”, declarations are meaningless. They are not protocols, they hold no legal weight no more than do promises.
Finally we might remind people of the words of former French President Valery Giscard d Estang on the Lisbon Treaty, in order to deny the French people a referendum, the treaty should be designed to “head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary”. This was echoed by the Belgium Foreign Minister, Karel de Gucht, who said “the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable”, in other words don’t let the people have a clue what they are voting on. There will be no fundamental difference in Lisbon mark two to that of mark one, simply because it can’t be changed without rewriting the whole document and it has taken too long for the European bourgeoisie to concoct for that to happen. The bottom line is there will be no change in the meaning or content of the Lisbon Treaty, make sure there is no change in the outcome of the vote. When the time comes vote NO .
Back On The Plantation
There were two kinds of Negroes. There was that old house Negro and the field Negro. And the house Negro always looked out for his master. When the field Negro got too much out of line, he held them back in check. He put ‘em back on the plantation. --- Malcolm X
It’s truly a historic moment that a black man has been selected President of the United States, a country with a long and deep tradition of de jure and de facto institutional racism, bigotry and violence both here and abroad.
It’s also important to bear in mind however that the same mostly white Anglo-Saxon Protestant power elite (a.k.a. English-Americans) that have been running this country since 1776, and who are largely responsible for that racism, bigotry and violence, could put a chimpanzee up for the job and get most of the people to bark along like trained circus seals at a mantra mumbling show.
So although I don't expect much from this tame trimmer Obama or from any other elite tribune, I do hope American law, politics and economics don't get any worse which isn’t quite the same as saying things will get any better.
For instance, Obama is appointing Congressman Rahm Emmanel, a first class Zionist citizen of Israel and son of the Irgun, as his Chief of Staff in the White House. Jewish terrorists and oppressors of Palestine couldn’t be happier! Watch for AIPAC pardons.
Worst still, rumors are floating regularly in the usual media that Obama will also keep Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on board in what surely will be a continuation of the Bush-Cheney-Exxon oil and gas land grabbing policies in the Middle East.
Ralph Nader was right! Obama must answer the question: Uncle Sam for all the people or Uncle Tom for the wealthy and powerful? Hundreds of thousand dark-skinned peoples’ lives depend on it to say nothing about all the working class white lives that will be risked to kill all those working class black and brown lives.
There is no such thing as a friendly face of imperialism or colonialism. That’s just a fraudulent mask for more of the same occupation and subjugation to extract other peoples’ natural resources.
And this imperial process, with masks or without, just generates blow back for the rest of us in the form of among other things suicide bombers and pilots. Talk about this as a clash of civilizations is just corporate financed academic and media speak to divert citizens at home from seeing the real cause for among other things the planes-into-buildings effect.
Fact is American foreign policy hasn’t changed much since the days of the Plains Indian Wars. All kinds of government excuses and lies were used then and now to eradicate or subjugate Native Americans while stealing their land and resources. And so it goes.
Even when Native insurgents successfully strike back as the Lakota and Cheyenne did in 1876 when they wiped out General George Custer’s 7th Cavalry (a 19th century US Army roving death squad), the usual business backed government and media are able to distort their own war crimes as heroic and their dead soldiers as victims of savage barbarity. The power of myth by power!
That’s why long time house negro Colin Powell was able to launch his longer than expected US Army career by making public relations excuses for the US Army’s mass slaughter in My Lai, Vietnam. He was simply lying and myth making in service to that same power as he always has ever since.
Now try and imagine what a career stopper he would have gotten had he told the truth about My Lai (that there was at least two My Lai massacres a month during the US Army’s Operation Speedy Express) or had he incinerated white people in 1989 Panama or 1991 Iraq.
Instead, he and Condolezza Rice got paid lots of money and tribute as the chief blacks up front to lie the US into war against more dark skinned people for Bush & Cheney & the oil companies. So don’t believe for a moment that they were set up by them.
The way of the ass kisser is easy, so easy in fact that if Robert Gates doesn’t stay on in Obama’s Cabinet then watch for Colin Powell to replace him.
To be fair though to Barack Obama, all American Presidents either hail from the ranks of the elite or bend over backwards to serve them like house Negroes on a plantation.
And any candidate who starts to even think about reading from his own script will go the way of Nixon or Kennedy fired from or fired on.
It was ever thus. Article 2 of the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers by Madison, Hamilton and Jay explaining same couldn’t have been clearer: the Presidency is the hand picked guardian of the elite hence their Electoral College. He is their step and fetch it Constitutional dictator. It has always has been this way, and always will be until most of the rest of us start copping on and stop barking along.
And that dear readers, is the only hope we can believe in.
(24/11/08 by Eoghan O’Suilleabhain)
ARE WE ALL BARMY?
For those who are not yet aware, the economic, for want of a better word, system we are forced to endure, is in crisis. The minority who own and control society, the bourgeoisie or capitalist class, and their puppet governments around the globe are trying to work out what to do. The unfortunate truth is they don’t know what to do and even if they did there would be no real hurry because these people, we for some reason of obscurity, refer to as ’they’ haven’t suffered any real decrease in their standards of living. They are not exactly loosing money but aren’t accumulating quite as much. To offset this, what they term as a loss, workers must loose their employment, homes and in many cases family. Those members of the large employing class who cannot offset these losses sufficient to compensate their reduction in profits through job losses simply shut up shop and in many cases retire. It is the working class and small business’s, petit bourgeoisie, who bear the brunt of capitalisms instability.
People in many areas of working class life are asking what are they going to do?, once again whoever they may be, the question should be when are WE going to do something about it? This system even when it is working, if that is the correct term, is in a permanent state of instability. Gone are the old maxims of ‘a job for life’, ‘security of tenure’ and many other what seems like ancient confidence boosting orations which would appear now condemned to the dustbin of history. The modern equivalent of laissez faire economics, known affectionately as the unfettered free market is in fact exactly that, unfettered. There would appear to be no hands on economic policies by various governments as the market is allowed to find its own level. The result of such political folly is precisely what we are witnessing on a daily basis every week and month. This imbecile system could be likened to driving a car, or more to the point not, using the clutch, gears and accelerator and not using the steering wheel and brakes!!! Yes you would be asking for trouble wouldn’t you? Particularly if you were on a motorway, you may even wonder why and how, if you survive, you’ve managed to crash into a juggernaut lorry. Liken this scenario to the hands off policies regarding the economy pursued by various governments on behalf of their indigenous ruling classes and the picture may become a little clearer. Even though recently such fancy jargon as “re-capitalisation” have been mentioned it does not substitute a more hands on approach to economic policy.
Of course there is an alternative to this mayhem and its called socialism. Under this system the economy would be planned, goods and services to be produced for the needs of the people and not the greed of the minority capitalist class. A hands-on approach to the economy would replace the “free market” and the only employer would be the state with the means of production under workers control. Instead of our imaginary car careering along the motorway with no brakes or hands on the steering wheel it would be under competent control. Under socialism there would be only one bank, in the case of Ireland it could be the State Bank of Ireland again with a hands on approach. Peoples jobs, homes and in many cases families, which under capitalism is no more than an economic unit, would no longer be subject to the uncertainties of the ‘market’. The car would have a driver capable of steering it in the correct direction, thus avoiding the dreaded juggernaut lorry.
The issue is that capitalism would have to go. Socialism, not to be confused with labourism, can not co-exist with capitalism. It is one or the other and as capitalism doesn’t work for the majority of us, unless my imagination is playing tricks and the news reports are just one big party game, it is that system which must become our dearly departed preferably through peaceful means.
Disposing of capitalism, which I doubt will go away voluntarily, will only be achieved through the harnessed power of the organised working class hopefully dragging the progressive elements of the petit bourgeoisie with them. To anybody within these ranks who naively believe that capitalism still works or, that they owe the boss class something ask yourselves, is a system where the security, happiness and health of the majority is dependent on the wealth accumulation of a tiny minority really worth hanging onto? If after this examination people still think the present system is the best attainable then the sanity of us all must be seriously in question.
Irish Republican Socialist Party Dublin
We came across the following interview in the web site of the Workers Party in NewZealand. We thought it might be useful to share with our readers
éirígí- New Zealand interview-
Building an alternative movement in Ireland <http://workersparty.org.nz/
The Spark December 2008 - January 2009
The organisation is called éirígí; its chairperson, Brian Leeson, was interviewed by Philip Ferguson for The Spark.
Philip Ferguson: Could you tell us how you first got involved in political activity?
Brian Leeson: I suppose I first became politically active in the summer of 1989 when I attended a large protest in Dublin that was demanding a British withdrawal from occupied Ireland. It was called to mark the 20th anniversary of British troops being re-deployed onto Irish streets back in August 1969. For a few months before the demonstration I had been becoming more politically conscious, particularly with regard to the war that was then raging in the occupied Six Counties. What struck me most about that day was the contrast between the sheer size of the protest and the tiny amount of media coverage it received. Despite the fact that more then 20,000 marched that day, it hardly registered on the political landscape at all. Of course, this was at a time when state censorship by both the London and Dublin governments excluded republican spokespeople from the airwaves. Within a couple of weeks of that demonstration I had taken a decision to become politically active. I applied to join Sinn Féin, but at 15 years of age I was too young. Instead, I started to sell the An Phoblacht newspaper each Saturday morning outside of the General Post Office on Dublin’s O’Connell Street - a building which fittingly had served as the headquarters of the 1916 Rebellion. From then on I became ever more involved in the republican struggle and the Provisional Movement, which I remained a part of until early 2006. PF: How and why did éirígí come into existence? How would you explain your pretty rapid growth?
BL: éirígí was formed as a socialist republican campaigns group in April 2006. Initially, there were just seven members and the organisation was based solely in Dublin. In May 2007, at our first Ard Fheis (national congress), the decision was taken to constitute éirígí as a political party. Since 2006, éirígí’s membership has grown steadily, to the point where we now have ciorcail (branches) all across Ireland. As to why éirígí came into existence; what was then a small group of people thought it was time to make a new beginning in terms of socialist republican politics. We believed there to be the political space for a new socialist republican organisation. The growth of the party since then has confirmed that our original analysis was correct. There is clearly a significant number of people who were basically waiting for a credible vehicle to emerge for them to join or support. I think this fact, along with the hard work of our activists, explains our relatively rapid growth.
PF: What is éirígí’s view of the current situation in the north?
BL: The British occupation of the north of Ireland is as real today as it ever was. In July 2007, there was much fanfare surrounding the ending of the British Army’s 38-year-long Operation Banner campaign in the Six Counties. What wasn’t mentioned was that, on the very day Operation Banner ended, a new British army campaign began in the north - Operation Helvetic. Under Helvetic, 5,000 British troops remain garrisoned in the Six Counties. These troops can be deployed at will by the British Government. In addition, much of the “temporary” repressive legislation that the British Government introduced to suppress the republican struggle had now been made permanent. Also in 2007, the British Government’s spy agency, MI5, was appointed as the chief gatherer of intelligence on Irish republicans. To facilitate this, a massive MI5 base has been built on the outskirts of Belfast. This facility will also serve as the main headquarters for MI5 in the event of an attack on their London headquarters. On the front line of the occupation is the PSNI - formerly the RUC. The PSNI remains a highly sectarian, paramilitary police force. Since its name change the PSNI has added CS gas and tasers to its arsenal of lethal plastic bullets. These “less lethal” new weapons are in addition to the standard issue handguns and assault rifles routinely carried by members of that force. On the socio-economic front, nationalists remain two-and-a-half times as likely to be unemployed as unionists and, in some areas, nationalists make up 83% of those on the housing waiting list. All of this compounds a deeply unequal society where working-class people generally, and working-class Catholics in particular, are exploited and denied basic rights. In short, the Six Counties remains a highly abnormal state and necessarily so in order to maintain the British occupation.
PF: The south of Ireland, the Twenty-Six County state, is often held up in New Zealand as a model of “social partnership” between the state, the bosses and the unions. What are things really like for workers in the south?
BL: That may be so, but it should be also noted that the Twenty-Six County state was the first in Europe to enter recession earlier this year. Socially and economically, the Twenty-Six County state now rates second only to the United States in terms of inequality within the ‘developed’ world. This fact is a massive indictment on the class of politicians and business people who have decided policy in the south to the detriment of the majority of the population. The Twenty-Six Counties, Ireland as a whole and the rest of Europe are now in financial meltdown due to the manner in which our economies have been structured and mismanaged by political parties and corporations that have only their own interests at heart. Fianna Fáil (the main and near permanent party of government), their coalition partners and their friends in big business are at the top of the guilty list in this regard. They have allowed a chaotic, greed-fuelled auction to take centre stage in this country over the last 15 years and labeled it the finest economy in the world. Yet, as soon as this “fine economy” implodes, the hundreds of thousands of people who actually work to generate the wealth are expected to foot the bill to save those who mismanaged it. Instead of harnessing the wealth of recent times to create first-class health, education and transport systems, the Dublin government has provided us with rising unemployment, mass privatisation and endemic child and fuel poverty.
PF: Is there much of a challenge to the class collaborationism of the union leaderships? What role does éirígí see for itself in challenging this collaboration?
BL: The whole carefully-manufactured “consensus” that lauds “social partnership” as a panacea for all our ills in now beginning to fall apart. It is falling apart because the brutal realities of the capitalist economic system are becoming ever more obvious. According to the “social partnership” narrative, everyone was a winner - workers, bosses and the state. This narrative cannot survive the utter failure of the system that “social partnership” was designed to protect. Now that the economy is in crisis, it is clear that everyone isn’t a winner. Once again, it is working class people who are being told to tighten their belts, while the wealthy secure their gains and are supported by massive government bail-outs. éirígí has stated from day one that there is an alternative to this dog-eat-dog economic madness and it is one based on cooperation, solidarity and participatory planning, i.e. socialism. It is the job of every left-wing organisation, including éirígí, to fill the vacuum of ideas that exists in terms of how to deal with the economic crisis with socialist politics.
PF: One of the key things that has bedevilled Irish republicans, including socialist republican’s since Connolly’s time is the relationship between the class and national questions or, put another way, the class and national aspects of the Irish revolution. How do you see that class and national relationship in Ireland being linked?
BL: Connolly believed that the relationship between the class and national questions is fundamentally indivisible. What has bedevilled Irish republicans since that time is how to build a movement that effectively deals with both. éirígí shares Connolly’s analysis that the Irish revolution has two aspects - the national and the social. To resolve one, you have to resolve the other. The key to socialist republican thinking is to understand that the military occupation of Ireland and the denial of political democracy that it represents is just one aspect of what Connolly referred to as the “conquest of Ireland”. The social aspect - the replacement of the collective ownership laws of the native population with private property relations, particularly with regard to the land - was what provided the material incentive in the English invasion of Ireland. Any successful re-conquest of Ireland must remove the social and economic system that the English imported to Ireland. In éirígí’s opinion, any revolutionary movement in Ireland must have the resolution of the national and social questions as its core objectives.
PF: The other issue that has bedevilled the movement in Ireland is the relationship between military and political activity, or party and army. How do you view the issue of armed republican activity?
BL: Any population that has the misfortune to find itself under foreign occupation has the right to use armed force to remove that occupation. Whether it was the French resisting the Nazi occupation or the Vietnamese resisting Franco-American aggression, the principal is the same. And that principal also extends to the Irish context. However, while any people may have a principled right to use armed struggle, it may not always be tactically or strategically the correct option. We believe that there are other, more effective ways to challenge and defeat British rule in Ireland today.
PF: What possibilities are there for uniting anti-imperialists, at least around particular projects and maybe into some kind of ongoing coalition? Is éirígí working along those lines or do you have a different view?
BL: Since its foundation, éirígí has been working with anti-imperialists and other progressives on a number of issues. The first of these was the “Shell to Sea” campaign which is resisting Shell Oil’s operations in County Mayo. This was closely followed by éirígí joining the Irish Anti-War Movement, which is made up of a broad coalition of groups opposed to Irish collaboration in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently, éirígí has worked within the Campaign Against the European Union Constitution, which was one of the lead organisations in the recent defeat of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty. We believe the building of a new progressive social movement to be an essential step on the road to transforming Ireland’s socio-economic system. Such a movement will need to encompass trade unions, political parties, community groups, campaign groups, residents’ associations and non-aligned individuals. Similar movements have played an important role in the recent move to the left within a number of South American countries. éirígí believes there are lessons to be learned from these countries that could be applied to the Irish context.
PF: There are also a number of explicitly socialist-republican currents, such as the Irish Republican Socialist Party. What is éirígí’s attitude to the idea of trying to regroup all the socialist-republicans into a single organisation?
BL: While, theoretically, the ideal situation would see a single socialist republican party we have to recognise that the conditions for such a party do not yet exist in Ireland. The reality is that there are a number of organisations, including éirígí and the IRSP, that profess a left republican analysis. These various organisations have come into existence for a range of different historical reasons, some of which still exist today. While, at a superficial glance, these differences may seem surmountable, a more comprehensive analysis reveals much deeper tactical and ideological separation. To prematurely attempt a merger or coalition of these groups and parties may well damage the tentative growth that radical politics in Ireland is currently enjoying. In éirigi’s opinion, a better option at this time is for groups of similar outlook to work together on single-issue campaigns, similar to those outlined above. Over time, the conditions for a single socialist republican party may well emerge.
PF: How does éirígí see things in Ireland developing over the next, say, decade? How do you see éirígí developing in that context?
BL: The discourse in Ireland, both north and south, over the last decade has been dominated by an “end of history” type analysis. The aim of this propaganda was to promote the idea that all forms of popular struggle were finished. According to this view, the economy, although fundamentally unequal, was fundamentally sound and needed nothing but minor tinkering with. Meanwhile, the national question was settled, with the British occupation continuing indefinitely. In éirígí’s view, the next 10 years will be about exploding these myths. The truth remains that the economy is not fundamentally sound - it is on the point of collapse due to the way it was managed in the interests of the wealthy few. Already, we have seen tens of thousands of people taking to the streets of Dublin to protest about government cuts. The Six County state is not functioning as it was supposed to under the normalisation agenda of the British government and it never will. The communities that always opposed British rule are witnessing the failure of British rule on a daily basis. In light of this, I think the next 10 years are going to see a rejuvenation and popularisation of the struggle for an independent, socialist Ireland. It won’t be easy, but we’re determined to get there.
PF: Is there anything you’d like to add?
BL: I’d like thank you for giving éirígí the opportunity to explain its ideas to people in New Zealand. Communication and solidarity between peoples involved in struggle is essential in the fight for a better world, and long may it continue.
An IRSP Response to “Building an alternative movement in Ireland”
Whilst it is certainly heartening to see a small resurgence in radical politics though groups such as Eirigi; it is equally demoralising when they hold demostrations on issues that are collectively agreeable and ask other groups/parties to leave their banners at home.
Brian also mentions ideological and tactical separation in a throwaway manner without divulging to the rest of us what exactly these are.
One difference that i can think of is that the IRSP has always rejected the GFA as a blueprint for Irish National self determination and socialism and didn’t adopt this stance after an inevitable decision by PSF to support and endorse the PSNI/RUC.
There are real moves being made by the IRSP and 32CSM as well as the Republican Network for Unity to come together and find commonality of purpose that allows us to by pass “ideological and strategic differences” to co-operate on single issues to greater effect.
Eirigi have consistently been invited to take part in the Republican Forum to debate commonalities and differences but have as yet to take part citing the ideology strategy line.
For the release of Mustafa Atalay
Mustafa Atalay is one of the five accused in the §129b trail in front of the higher regional court in Stuttgart. “I`m a journalist and a socialist- no terrorist.” was his response to the charge of membership in a foreign terrorist organisation.
Mustafa Atalay is 52 years old and lives in Germany since 2000 as a political refugee. Since November 2006 he is non- stop in detention awaiting trail. Most of the time he was isolated and he has a strict special conditions arrest.
Mustafa Atalay is suffering from a heart condition. 2006 h. He had a bypass-surgery in which he got three new bypasses. He was arrested out of hospital. Two bypasses are occluded again. During the imprisonment more cardiac-surgeries would have been necessary. He takes 8 till 10 drugs because of cardiac and circulation problems and other diseases.
Mustafa Atalay was in Turkish prisons for over 15 years. He was tortured and suffers from bodily diseases now. An expert who was called by the court made out a stress disorder. Mustafa has to be released now!
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