Monthly Archives: May 2007

POWER WITHOUT GLORY


“This time last May I predicted that the story of the General Election was going to be Sinn Féin”-said Gerry Adams.

Gerry Adams blind ambition for his party to gain a share of governmental power within the Republic of Ireland, by entering as a junior partner a Fianna Fail led coalition, has resulted in SF being forced by the southern electorate to
sacrifice many of the political gains it has made in the southern State over the last decade.

Sadly but not surprisingly, instead of a thoughtful analyses as to why SFs lost a seat and failed to move forward in the
recent parliamentary election in the RoI, all the wrong signals are coming out of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of Gerry Adams as to the reasons for this undoubted set back for their Party. Far from drawing the logical conclusion that the party should cease its mad rush for power at any price, and stop bending over backwards to accommodate the southern
bourgeoisie, who are never going to vote SF in any numbers. The SF leadership now look like continuing down their opportunist path by filleting the party program of its socialist and progressive content and re positioning SF as a party of the populist centre.

Those whom the media, the British State and the Adams coterie have branded Irish Republican Dissidents,  have pointed out time and again that SF’s membership should ponder the fact that their party’s current strategy would end with the party losing, not gaining seats in the Dail and so it has been proved. Yet this fact does not seem to have diminished Mr Adams ardor for a minority share in governmental power. His thought process being that if his party membership will tolerate sharing power in the north with an arch conservative and somewhat bigoted political Party like the DUP, how can they oppose his love in with the political centre in the south of Ireland.

The center/right political ground in the RoI is already taken and has been since the civil war, it belongs to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and now the Irish LP is also increasingly moving in that political direction. If SF is to have any lasting impact on Irish society, it must aim to become the radical voice of the dispossessed in town and country;  the Irish working classes. That is the political representatives of the people who have provided the physical muscle for the Celtic Tiger, yet have benefited least from it. If SF is to prosper beyond a minority party and play a real part in building an Ireland based on fairness, equality and prosperity for all, then it must cease fawning too; and tail-ending those who have benefited economically most from the Celtic Tiger, often at the expense of their fellow citizens; and their political representatives like Bertie Ahearn.

Gerry Adams nonsensical attempt to position the party policy wise on the left, whilst masquerading to the electorate as moderation incarnate who had no intention of implementing their manifesto commitments, has been revealed by the electorate’s rejection of SF in all its duplicitous shallowness. The core historical lesson of Irish Republicanism coming out of a period of armed struggle has been that once the weapons become silent, the movement believing it is acting pragmatically,
jettisons many of its core beliefs and moves dramatically to the right in the belief that it will attract mass support by doing so. True FF managed to pull this trick off, but since FF formation, no preceding generation of Irish Republicans have managed to prosper on the centre/right of Irish politics.  The founder of Irish Republicanism Wolf Tone, understood only to clearly that its bedrock are the men and women of no property and so it is in the 21st century.

Sinn Fein still has the metal to avoid the fate of previous generations of republicans who put away the guns, but only if Mr Adams leadership clique returns the movement to democratic accountability and stops being blinded by over ambitious middle class boys and girls looking for a political leg up. Having said this I am of course not suggesting middle class youngster should not be welcomed into SF, but the political ground should not be moved to accommodate them. Even the
most loyal member’s of SF are questioning why a movement that was built into a formidable force by working class men and women, today has almost no working class youngsters moving through the party into leadership positions, whilst the Mary Lou’s are becoming a dime a dozen.

SF has been at the fore of the campaign to bring more women into active politics and leadership positions within Ireland, but unfortunately in tandem with this, the party leadership has concentrated on bringing along sharp middle class youngsters to the detriment of young workers. This cannot but have an influence on the type of party SF will and to a degree has become.

To conclude, the main flaw in Sinn Fein’s southern election campaign had little to do with the current Party program, as much as it lacks fine detail; and all to do with how it was propagandized to the electorate and by whom. To use Gerry Adams as the
front-man was naive in the extreme and very arrogant. When he failed so dismally in the Party Leaders debate, all his own and his party’s short comings were brought to the fore, not least that SF was a party whose leader felt so little of the southern State that he himself was not prepared to put himself before the electorate. He was exposed as
an ill informed politician who was touting for the votes of the citizens of a State, the governmental machinery of which he had little grasp of.

 The fact that he was not a candidate made the electorate immediately spot the democratic deficit at the heart of SF’s electorally campaign.  Which in realty meant Mr Adams was asking the Irish electorate to give him power without having to prove himself at the ballot box. Being extremely careful with their democratic freedoms, the electorate rejected Mr Adams offer as not being to their liking in its current packaging..

Perhaps the  membership of SF should now question this desire for power without principle, and consider whether one can achieve real and lasting change with what amount to a strategy of power without glory.

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The Irish Proclamation and I

Whilst having been a strong supporter of Irish Republicanism for most of my life, when comrades from Eirigi, a Dublin based Republican Organization asked me to write a short piece on what the Proclamation of the Irish Republic means to me, I was somewhat taken aback.* Not being Irish and having spent the greater part of my life living in the heart of Perfidious Albion, I wondered if I was up to this task and if by attempting it, would I not be in some way usurping something that is precious to millions of Irish people and their descendants around the world. But I quickly placed such thoughts to one side, for this short document is not just the property of the Irish people. For since it was first proclaimed by Padraig Pearse, from the steps of Dublin’s main Post Office on Monday 24th of April 1916, to mark the beginning of the Easter Rising, it has had an enormous influence upon freedom loving and oppressed people in almost every corner of the world.

Coming as it did at approx the half way stage at what was to become known as World War One, only added to the Proclamation’s significance. For that bloody conflagration which engulfed the whole of Europe and beyond was being waged over the future spoils of Imperialism; and would leave its filthy skid marks across the whole of the 20th century. It was a time when the fault lines of the British Empire were becoming increasingly obvious to all who toiled under it’s yoke. Thus the Proclamation became a spur for National Liberation Movements the world over, many of whom were then experiencing the throes of their birth pangs. Few of the founders and foremost leaders of these Liberation Movements, who were in time to rock both the French and British Empires to there core and eventually bring about their downfall, would not have read the Irish Proclamation of Independence.

It was Vladamir Illich Lenin from his Swiss exile who was amongst the first to articulate the importance of the Easter Rising, when he observed the events of 1916 and wrote: “The misfortune of the Irish is that they rose prematurely when the European revolt of the proletariat had not yet matured. Easter week was not a proletarian revolution. It was a national rising in which a new factor appeared – the working class was no longer content merely to provide man-power, but participated as a separate force with its own organization, leaders and outlook”. **

What Lenin means here is the very presence of James Connolly as one of the Proclamations Signatories; and the amalgamation just prior to the Easter Rising of the ITWU’s Citizens Army with the Irish Volunteers, which resulted in the establishment of Óglaigh na hÉireann, was a clear signal that the Irish working classes were staking their claim to not only Nationhood, but a major say as to what type of Nation an independent and free Ireland would become. The fact that the Rising was accompanied by such an eloquent call to arms which demanded a better life for all, only added to the Proclamations international impact amongst those Frantz Fanon sympathetically called the wretched of the earth.

Beyond Irelands shores, it was amongst the dispossessed of the British Empire, the men and women of no property, where the Easter Rising and the Proclamation which heralded it was to have the most dramatic impact. The news of it the events of Easter 1916 spread throughout these distant lands like red hot volcanic lava. The Proclamations message was also not lost on the millions of Empire troops then fighting on behalf of the ‘mother country’ in the trenches of northern France, the desert’s of the middle east, or along the shore of the Dardanelles. [Galllipoli] For they had been recruited on the pretense of fighting to defend small nations from the Hun. But if those who lived as the Irish did in the heart of the Empire, regarded it as less than a privilege and were prepared to risk all by Rising against the English Crown, then why should they, who came from the four corners of the Empire continue to shed their blood, only to return home to live in poverty and as second class subjects of a far away Monarch.

It is impossible to read the Proclamation without seeing James Connolly’s finger prints all over the document. Connolly understood clearly that the removal of the British State and its military enforcers from Ireland would only be the half way stage of the freedom struggle. For an Irish Socialist Democratic Republic was the end game for the working classes if it was to achieve freedom with equality. As Connolly new full well from his work as a Trade Union activist, there would be Irish men and women from the bourgeois classes who would be only to willing to step up to take the place of the English satraps, who had oppressed and exploited the toiling masses of Ireland for centuries. Connolly understood that if this were not to happen, the working classes must be independently represented at the Nations top table; and if necessary in the field, by their own organizations and leaders. By placing himself and the men and women of the Citizens Army who he led at the fore of the Rebellion, he was laying down a marker in blood as to the role of the working classes within any future Irish Republic.***

Like millions of others, when I went to school the history I was taught revolved around the reigns of English Kings and Queens and the rule of great men, according to this infantile version of history all historical acts came about via the Great and Good; and the Irish Proclamation of Independence, written by a school teacher at a minor Irish school and proof read and bettered by a working class man, born of Irish blood in an Edinburgh slum was not something to be taught to working class boys who were destined to be the pack animals of Capital, it might give them ideas above their station in life.

But read it I did and to understand the words were written by men who lived much as I did, in humble circumstances and among their number was a man like James Connolly, who like millions of working men and women, then and now had little formal education.**** Was an inspiration and a spur to educate myself and understand the iniquity of those who felt that they, due to their economic might, have an absolute right to manipulate and chart the course of billions of peoples lives; and for no better reason than to enrich and empower themselves. The Irish Proclamation of Independence also taught me, along with countless others that once you understand the inequalities of the world, the point is to change it.

*http://www.eirigi.org/latest/index.htm

**Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 22, 1964, pp. 320-360

*** James Connolly on the Irish capitalists, “Therefore the stronger I am in my affection for national tradition, literature, language, and sympathies, the more firmly rooted I am in my opposition to that capitalist class which in its soulless lust for power and gold would bray the nations as in a mortar”. And again, “We are out for Ireland for the Irish. But who are the Irish? Not the rack-renting, slum-owning landlord; not the sweating, profit grinding capitalist; not the sleek and oily lawyer; not the prostitute pressmen – the hired liars of the enemy. Not these are the Irish upon whom the future depends. Not these, but the Irish working class, the only secure foundation upon which a free nation can be reared.” Labour in Irish History, 1910.

**** See also, http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/index.htm

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Sınners to Saınts


From sınners to saınts ın the blınk of the eyes of two Prıme Mınısters and a newspaper baron.

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Colluding in Silence


Colluding in Silence

Mick Hall •

These days, hardly a week goes by without an article appearing in the newspapers in the north of Ireland about the high level of criminal collusion, which is alleged to have taken place between members of the British security forces and Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries. Greg Harkin, who co-authored the best selling book Stakeknife with the former British Army Intel NCO, ‘Martin Ingram’, wrote the latest piece to catch my eye.

In it he alleged that the murders in 1981 by a unit of the PIRA of the Reverend Robert Bradford, Ulster Unionist MP for South Belfast, and Ken Campbell, the 29 year old caretaker of the Hall in which the Rev Bradford was holding a political surgery, took place despite the British Security Forces having been fore-warned, three days prior to the shootings were to take place, by an informer within the Provisional IRA of the exact time and place that these killings were to occur. Mr Harkin went on to claim that according to his sources, the security forces chose to allow these killings to take place as they wished to protect their informers within the Provisionals. To quote one of Greg Harkin’s sources, a former soldier in the British Army Intel Regiment, “I believe the hit went ahead to save agents’ lives.”

If true, it is a preposterous justification for the State to allow two of its citizens to be murdered —not least because if the Security Forces truly wished to maintain the safety of their informers, all that would have needed to happen was for the agencies who handled them to pull them out; after all they had three days before the assassination took place to do so. That they chose not to implies that they were playing a deadly political game, not just using their highly placed informants to gain actionable information. Surely the raison d’être of running informers should be that the general public’s safety should be paramount, not that of informers, agents of influence or security service personnel.

Like most of the information which has come into the public domain of late and which centers on the criminal collusion which took place between northern para-militaries and officers of the RUC Special Branch, MI5 and British Army Intel, [FRU], Harkin’s latest article has been all but been ignored by the politicians, whatever their political persuasion and whether they are based in Belfast, London or Dublin.

As far as the northern political parties are concerned, their silence is sheer political opportunism. The leading Unionist party, the DUP, in the process displays gross hypocrisy, as it has built its support base on support for the police and rule of law. Yet it seems when it is the forces of the UK State that breaks the law, it raises not a squeak. This is from a party whose leader declared that the litmus test for Sinn Fein would be its support for the PSNI and the rule of law.

As for SF, a party that has undoubtedly lost members to the criminal collusion that has taken place between the security forces and paramilitaries, and whose MPs and MLAs have had countless constituents murdered in such circumstances down the years, their sudden silence on this issue can only be described as grubby opportunism and political cowardice. In the past they were at the forefront of the campaigns to highlight any wrongdoing on the part of the British security forces. Now that they are a leading component of the Stormont administration and it has become self evident that their own organization was infiltrated up to leadership levels by various organs of the British security services, they are less keen for any inquiry to take place for fear of what might emerge.

What of the politicians who were the Rev Bradford’s parliamentary colleagues at Westminster, and sit as MPs for constituencies in the rest of the United Kingdom? One would have thought they might at least show some interest when a leading newspaper within the UK publishes an article that states that members of MI5, the British army and the RUC Special Branch were aware that one of their number was to be murdered, yet they failed to warn him and allowed the crime to happen, using the excuse that the safety of an informer in there pay was paramount, a man, I might add, who may well have played a role in the MP’s murder. But no, not a word is heard from the noble members in defense of one of their own who was brutally slain whilst going about his business as a member of the House of Commons. Workers in a pickle factory would have shown more concern were it to have been one of their number who had been brutally gunned down on the day in question.

As to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, in the week following these revelations he chose to go before the UK Parliament’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and tell them: “We are spending an awful lot of money on the past.” He went on to tell MPs that more than £200m was being spent on investigations and around half of that was on lawyers’ fees. While agreeing that inquiries had to be carried out, he questioned whether the province wanted to continue paying out to examine events over recent years or if it wanted to invest in the future instead. It seems as far as Mr Hain is concerned it is better to draw a curtain across the past and allow those who have committed crimes up to and including murder to get away stock free, otherwise something nasty might emerge. So here we have Mr Paisley, Mr Adams and the representative of the UK State in the north east of Ireland, Peter Hain, all siding with the criminals against their victims, and they are the very people who have recently demanded of the people of the north of Ireland that they must all respect and obey the rule of law.

One does not have to be a conspiracy theory geek to conclude that there is a centralized plan of silence amongst the British government, Unionist politicians and the leadership of SF, with self interest being the motivating factor, the purpose being to convince the people of the six counties and to a lesser extent the rest of the United Kingdom that any inquiry into State Collusion in criminality or indeed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be against their best interest.

As someone posting under the handle ‘The Dubliner’ wrote on the Slugger O’Toole web site, “the vested interests have convinced the people that truth and reconciliation is not in their best interests and so they to are opposed [to any inquiry].” Perhaps, but it is early days and one can but hope these revelations about UK State collusion in criminality which are appearing in the media will continue, and politicians will eventually emerge with the courage to stand against the aforementioned powerful forces who wish to consign all talk of an inquiry or Truth and Reconciliation to the shredding machine or the vault deep within the bowels of MI5’s new Irish HQ.

This is not only a matter of history, as important as that is. Without a Truth and Reconciliation Inquiry, how can people truly move forward? It is difficult to see how the two communities within the north can be reforged in friendship and tolerance if truth and reconciliation is not in their best interests. The simple answer of course is they cannot be. I am not suggesting people should be legally punished, but they need to go before the people who will be represented by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and admit and answer for their past mistakes and crimes. If there is no Truth and Reconciliation, to put it bluntly the stables will not be cleaned and that will in all probability mean the very people who carry a grave responsibility for the death, destruction and human suffering of the last four decades will be responsible for administering the northern Statelet for the next twenty years, whether they be politicians or members of the secret state. The very thought should enrage all decent people.

This article was first published in The Blanket.
http://lark.phoblacht.net/index.html

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Scottish Left must reunite in new Socialist Party!


Until very recently the existence of the Scottish Socialist Party had been a beacon of hope for not only the Scottish working classes, but also for left wing socialist militants throughout the rest of the UK. It had led the way in mapping a realistic path out of the sectarian ghetto that has passed for Party Political left wing politics since Militant were driven from the LP by the servants of Capital; and the CPGB imploded. When after much hard work the Scottish comrades founded the Scottish Socialist Party, and took its program to the Scottish electorate, they proved what many had been claiming for decades, that working class people will respond at the Ballot box to progressive politics if they believe the Party who are offering it up are genuine in their commitment to the class and a real player in the political process, and not just a bunch of mockney revolutionaries or single issue propagandists.

Thus the SSP were able to build a support base that eventually materialized into a dynamic political force which managed to attain six SSP members of the Scottish Parliament.[MSP] The presence of these MSP’s allowed the SSP to use the Parliamentary Assembly as a platform to spread socialist politics throughout Scotland; and in the process help many of the victims of Neo-liberal economics via MSP’s surgeries etc, which in itself helped to spread the word of socialism. For the first time in decades the presence of dynamic SSP socialists like Tommy Sheridan and others forced the media to take note of socialist politics.

Then disaster struck and the SSP imploded; with the full results of the of May 3rd 2007 Scottish Parliamentary elections now in, the fall out from the events which took place back in 2006 and before have finally struck home with shocking reality, of the six SSP MSP’s that were elected in 2003, not a single one remains, all have been sent packing by those workers who only 4 years ago were prepared to give socialism a chance.

I am not going to go over old ground and re-analyze the reasons that led up to the split within the SSP, out of which two separate socialist organizations emerged. For as far as working class people are concerned it will serve no purpose and in any case if there is a piece of land that has been continuously ploughed over yet to this day remains fallow it is this. It is enough to write that the SSP and Scottish Solidarity came into being, both targeting the same section of the electorate and without a political difference worth any salt between them. Understandably the Scottish working class wanted neither of them, not least because since the implosion the memberships of both Parties have spent much of their time throwing personal insults and brickbats at one and another, often using the harshest of language, which is almost always based on personality clashes not political differences which might resonate with the Scottish working class.

If the radical left in Scotland is to regain the ground it has lost, it must attempt to regain the confidence of the class and this will not be easy, but then coming together as the SSP was never a cake walk. First comrades whether members of Scottish Solidarity or SSP should cease attacking their former comrades, after all they do not have any political differences worth arguing over and personality clashes are unworthy, especially for the left who often claim the higher ground; and the working class know it and react accordingly. The leaders of both organizations should show some leadership and remind their members of the negative impact all the sniping has had on the electorate.

It is very likely that to much putrid sewage water has flowed under the bridge for this generation of left wing leaders to come together in a single organization once again. But that does not mean that Scottish socialists should continue to attack their former comrades as if they, and not the representatives of Capital are the main enemies. It is time to reflect on what has been lost and to recognize that the SSP originally came into being by the joint efforts of many comrades and left organizations and the only viable option open to the left is to return to the comradeship and sensible compromises that enabled this to occur.

The alternative to this is there for all to see; a return to the political ghetto, or being eaten up whole by George Galloway’s Respect Party, which is already eyeing up Solidarity much as Private Equity asset strippers did to Boots the chemists. Whilst if nothing changes a majority of the SSP membership may well decide to bolt for Alex Salmond’s SNP.

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Unity is Strength!


I often wonder if there is something within the psyche of Left-wing
political activists which makes it inevitable that the Left is either
doomed to cling to dud Reformist or mockney revolutionary
organizations; and much like a cuckolded partner continuously have
their core beliefs betrayed; or cling precariously to the political
fringes in the hope that some unforeseen and miraculous event will
point the masses in their direction.

For if it were energy, commitment and self sacrifice alone that
counted, the EU left, post the implosion of Stalinism would have been
a mass party long ago, were it not for its Achilles heal, its almost total
lack of political acumen. For the word compromise does not exist
within its dictionary and if a comrade dares to point this out and
suggest its inclusion, a split will occur before one could say
Vladimir Illich Ulyanov.

Take the first round of the 2007 French Presidential elections, Left
Party candidates polled approx 10% of the votes, unfortunately this
was not for a single Left wing candidate, for if one includes the
Greens, which I do, there were a grand total of six candidates
standing for left wing progressive political parties, all of whom were
targeting the same section of the electorate. Yet on the main
political issues of the day, the struggle against Neo-liberal
economics and the ever widening gap between the economically rich and
poor, defense of the welfare state, secular education and the
nationalized industries such as the French railway system, opposition
to the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and its UK
minion, the environment and global warming, there was hardly a
political difference between the six of them..

Yet despite this commonality in the policies that really matter to the
people who make up the lefts core electoral base, French left parties
were unable to come together and select a single candidate from within
their number. Instead they concentrated on what divides them which is
often obscure political difference that first emerged in the distant
past and in some case have evolved into personality classes and the
subconscious belief amongst many of those who belong to these leftist
organizations that it is better to be a big fish in a very small pond,
rather than take their chances amongst the masses.

If they had stood a single candidate who had managed to gain 10% of
the vote, they would have been in a position to make demands upon the
Socialist Party candidate in the second round Ségolène Royal. That
they refused to do so will mean that Ms Royal will ignore the left in
the run in to the second round, whilst making concessions to the
center- Right in the hope of gaining the votes of the mainly middle
class supporters of François Bayrou. Few would be surprised if she
also promised him a position in her first government, that is if her
opponent in the second round Nicolas Sarkozy has not got his offer in
first. As to the defeated left wing candidates they will return to the
political ghetto to argue amongst themselves about the minutiae of
left wing politics.

If this were the full picture about the left within the EU then it
would be extremely depressing but their have been chinks of light. In
Germany a new ‘Left Party’ is in the process of being forged between
leftists and trade unionists who were previously members of the SDP
but left in disillusionment with the Gerhard Schröder Government,
members of the Party of Democratic Socialism (Partei des
Demokratischen Sozialismus, PDS) and a number of groups and
individuals who came together under the banner of WASG. Some thing not
dissimilar happened in Italy when the Communist Refoundation Party
(Partito della Rifondazione Comunista, PRC) was forged out of the
remnants of the CPI and the anti globalization movement.

As the old leftist slogan used to proclaim, Lutta Continua!
— – – – –

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