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The Partition of Ireland

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Monday August 16, 2004 12:53author by Workers Solidarity Movement Report this post to the editors

The Workers Solidarity Movements July 2004 conference agreed a new position paper on 'The Partition of Ireland'. This replaces our old position paper on 'The National Question' and reflects both the changes brought about by the peace process and changes in our analysis after a long period of internal debate. The text of the new paper is below. Further papers from this conference will be made available on our web site over the next few days.

The Partition of Ireland

1. As anarchists, we oppose imperialism and believe it cannot play a progressive role. In Ireland we have always opposed British imperialism. In opposing it we see no form of nationalism as offering a definitive solution to either the working class in Ireland or the working class across the globe. In the final analysis nationalism argues for a common interest between workers and bosses of one 'nation' against the workers and bosses of another. As anarchists we stand for international working class solidarity against all bosses.

2. However as anarchists living on the island of Ireland we have to deal with rather than ignore the divisions in the working class that exist based on communal identity in the north and the issues of state repression that continue around them. When we talk about "communal identity" we acknowledge that not all Catholic are nationalists, not all Protestants are unionists, and not all nationalists and unionists are religious believers. There are, however, two main communal identities, which can be summarised as Catholic/nationalist on one hand and Protestant/unionist on the other. In this paper the terms 'communal identity" and 'religion are used interchangeably

3. We reject the idea that there are any differences between workers from different religions on the island that make partition either desirable or inevitable. Rather we see partition as the main reason why conflicts based on religious divisions continue to exist.

4. All sections of the working class have lost out as a result of these religious divisions. In the north the divisions in the working class make it more difficult but not impossible to unite against the bosses. In the north the divisions have historically meant that workers from a catholic background suffered state discrimination and were often the targets of loyalist and Orange attacks. In the south, the birth of mass socialist politics in the working class has been delayed for decades, Southern workers were subject to a theocratic state regime which not only denied abortion rights but also subjected the vulnerable, in particular children, to brutal regimes of 'discipline' based on physical and all to often sexual abuse.

5. It is important to realise that partition is not a historic accident but rather the result of centuries of imperialism and struggles against imperialism. From the reformation onwards the British State encouraged religious conflict in Ireland in order to divide and rule.

6. The 1798 rebellion offered the greatest opportunity to simultaneously remove the British rule and to unite all the Irish people regardless of creed. Its defeat and the process though which it was defeated resulted in centuries of sectarian conflict. Most importantly was the encouragement of the Orange Order as an instrument of counter-revolution aimed at physically suppressing Catholics and radical protestants alike.

7. The partition of Ireland in 1922 was carried out in the interests both of British imperialism, which maintained military bases as a result, and of the northern bosses as it provided a weapon to divide the working class. At the time the economic interests of northern and southern bosses were opposed. The north was well developed with export orientated industry (linen and shipbuilding) and needed access to English markets. The south was underdeveloped and for industry to develop southern capitalism would have to be protected from cheaper English imports, partition therefore favoured both sets of bosses.

8. The north was created in such a way to ensure a permanent unionist rule by tying Protestant workers to their bosses in return for marginal privileges in a 6 county rather than a 9 county "Ulster". These privileges were maintained by northern bosses (e.g. Brookborough's famous statement about employing 'good Protestant lads') and meant Protestant workers can be mobilised against Catholic workers demanding a fair share under Northern capitalism or unity with the republic. Examples of this in action can be seen in the Loyalist and police attacks on the nationalist ghettos in 1969 in response to a peaceful civil rights movement demanding basic democratic rights, in the 1974 unionist strike against power sharing and in the mass demonstration of Protestants against the Anglo-Irish agreement.

9. British troops were not sent into the North in 1969 in order to keep the peace but rather to provide a breathing space for the northern security forces and to stabilise in the interests of the British ruling class what they thought could have became a revolutionary situation. This remained their role, which is why we call for "Troops out now". In addition they were used also to break the back of any mass peaceful reform movement through actions like Bloody Sunday in 1972.

10. Loyalism is a reactionary ideology in all its forms including those that try to appear socialist. It serves only to maintain sectarianism and Protestant privilege and protect the interests of the British and northern ruling classes.

11. Republicanism is a petty-bourgeoisie ideology and not a socialist one. Even those brands which claim to be socialist preach a theory in which workers must submerge their own interests and fight alongside their Catholic bosses until a united Ireland is achieved. Nevertheless it has considerable working class support in the north, but because of its stages theory where labour must wait it has little attraction for Protestant workers and has no strategy for approaching Protestant workers.

However, republicanism unlike loyalism often developed significant left strands within it because, at least in theory, it was based on the 'equal rights of all' rather then the 'god given destiny of the chosen people'. After the rise of Leninism however these strands were deeply contaminated with authoritarian socialist ideas. Still they sometimes, as with the Republican Congress movement of the 1930's, could win support from the northern protestant working class around the slogan of the workers republic. Although we and other anarchists have used that slogan as in the past, it is no longer a useful shorthand for why we have different politics to republicans, so we prefer to simply say that we are for 'an anarchist Ireland'

12. The tactic of armed struggle, as carried out by the Republicans was never capable of achieving a solution as it was incapable of delivering a military victory over the British army. In addition the British ruling class cares little for the deaths of individual soldiers in its army. Furthermore a 'commercial bombing campaign' will always, whether deliberately or not, cause civilian casualties and heighten sectarian tensions.

13. The armed struggle was also faulted because it relied on the actions of a few, with the masses left in either a totally inactive role, or one limited to providing intelligence and shelter to the few. It is claimed that it did serve to maintain the gains made in the 60s and early 70s. The mass campaigns (civil disobedience, rent & rates strike, street committees, etc.) would have been a far greater protection for the gains won than the elitist militarism of a few.

14. The British state is responsible for the long history of armed conflict in the North. As long as the British remain in Ireland there is likely to be armed resistance, especially when there is no mass movement to demonstrate an alternative to militarism. Every generation has thrown up a new group of people willing to physically fight for "Irish freedom". Permanent peace can only come about after British withdrawal. When the 1994 ceasefire was declared we welcomed it because the ending of the armed struggle opens up real possibilities for revolutionary politics. We have opposed the republican armed struggle because it was an impediment to working class unity. It was based on wrong politics, it was a wrong strategy and it used wrong tactics. However we refused to blame the republicans for the situation in the six counties. Their campaign was the result of a problem and must not be confused with its cause. We have been clear that, in the final analysis, the fault lies with the continuing British occupation.

15. We did not see the IRA ceasefire as a sell-out. Rather it is merely the natural progression of nationalist politics, which was always going to lead to a compromise with imperialism.

16. The IRA is not responsible for the creation of or the continuation of sectarianism. Rather it was re-created in 1969 as a response to the sectarian attacks by the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries on what had been a peaceful civil rights movement.

17. We condemn all sectarian actions (i.e. those carried out because of religion) including any that may be carried out by republicans. We combat sectarianism not by appeals to the state forces for protection but by calling for workers to act through strikes, demonstrations etc against such outrages.
We condemn without reservation the 'punishment' beatings and shootings of people accused of 'anti-social behaviour' or drug dealing carried out by both republican and loyalist paramilitaries. These actions are nothing more than a crude attempt by these groups to maintain control over what they view as 'their communities'. They are authoritarian thuggery. It is no justification for these groups to claim that there is a 'policing vacuum' or that the communities are pressurising them to act. None of these groups have any mandate to enforce their 'rule of law'. They certainly have no right to set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner.

18. The Good Friday Agreement came about as the culmination of Sinn Féin's strategy for over a decade which was aimed at building various broad fronts around different issues in an attempt to gain respectability by pulling in Fianna Fáil members and church figures. This involved dropping all references to socialism to maintain unity with "the broad nationalist family". This strategy was never going to deliver a united socialist Ireland, or any other significant improvements apart from those associated with "demilitarisation". It represents instead a hardening of traditional nationalism and the goal of achieving an alliance of all nationalists - Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, SDLP, the Catholic Church and "Irish America". Such an alliance has nothing to offer working class people, North or South, and we oppose it outright.
The Good Friday Agreement offered nothing except a sectarian division of the spoils and in fact copper-fastened sectarian divisions. We called for an abstention in the referendum on this deal, refusing to align ourselves with those calling for a 'no' vote, pointing out that they have no alternative to offer, just more of the same conflict that has ruined tens of thousands of working class lives. The republican forces of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, the Real IRA, Republican Sinn Fein, Continuity IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army has nothing but increased communalism and sectarianism to offer. The loyalist opponents-whose rallies were attended by vocal supporters of the Loyalist Volunteer Force death squads -wanted a return to the time when Catholics lived on their knees in fear.

The Assembly set up under the 'Good Friday Agreement' demonstrates quite clearly the fact that the net effect of this agreement is to copper-fasten sectarianism, with elected members having to declare themselves 'nationalist' or 'unionist' in order for their votes to count. The political parties have shown that they are capable of plenty of agreement on economic issues - with no disagreement over budgets or spending plans, but issues such as what flowers should be put on display in the lobby or what flags should fly over Ministerial buildings are used to hype up the divisions between the two sides

19. The huge vote, North and South, in favour of the agreement -whatever else it might have indicated - showed quite clearly that the vast majority of people do not want a return to pre-ceasefire violence. Any return to armed struggle will deliver only more hardship and repression for working class people in the six counties.

We reiterate our view that permanent peace and an end to sectarianism will only come about after a British withdrawal and that working people from both communities must be convinced of the need to make the fight one for anarchism, not for 'national rights'.

20. When the potential exists we should argue for northern workers to refuse to handle any work for the security forces. We are opposed to any military campaign aimed at workers who do handle security force work.

21. On occasions where the potential exists (e.g. the 1981 hunger strikes) we should argue for the creation of a mass movement playing an active role through demonstrations, strikes etc and against any attempt to turn such a movement into one of passive support either for the military campaign or for the electoral one.

22. Sectarian divisions continue in the north today. We recognise that many of the protests that take place around these divisions are intended to inflame them and further divide the working class rather than solve them. Often this is for the electoral gain of local politicians or to provide a continuing role for paramilitaries.

We are not neutral on these issues. We do not support the right of any group to determine who may or may not live, work or pass through 'their area'. The one exception we make to this is the parades of the Orange Order and related institutions because of the role they continue to play sentence "in inflaming sectarian hatred. But we argue opposition to the Orange Order must be built on a class rather then religious basis. This means great efforts should be made to winning workers from a protestant background to opposing the order.
We generally support all calls for public enquiries and all attempts to limit police powers even where we disagree with the politics of those who are the victims of the repression.

We argue for integrated housing and schooling and the removal of all religious and nationalist symbols from public buildings and streets by those who use them. We argue for the ending of any clerical input into any school or hospital that receives public funding in the north just as we do in the south.

23. As anarchists we work for unity both between Catholic and Protestant workers and between British and Irish workers. The potential for unity has been demonstrated on a number of occasions in the history of the north including the 1907 Dockers strike and the outdoor relief strike of 1932 when the Falls and Shankill rioted in support of each other. More recently we have seem united actions in defence of the National Health Service and against sectarian intimidation. Smaller examples of such unity are constantly thrown up in workplace struggles in the north.

24. We recognise that although Protestant workers have marginal advantages over Catholic workers these are far outweighed by the disadvantages faced by the division of the working class which means northern workers, both Catholic and Protestant are worse off in terms of housing, unemployment and wages then any comparable sized area in England. These are the fruits of partition.

25. It is therefore in the interests of Protestant workers to break with their Protestant bosses and loyalism and fight alongside Catholic workers both in day to day industrial struggles and for an anarchist Ireland.

26. In the past the national question has been used before by northern bosses to split common struggles of Catholic and Protestant workers. It is therefore not possible to maintain the unity won in economic struggle without breaking the Protestant workers commitment to loyalism and committing them to the fight for an anarchist Ireland.

27. Our strategy should be geared toward involving ourselves in the struggles of Northern workers and in the course of these struggles breaking the loyalties tying the workers to the bosses of either religion and so enlisting them in the fight for an anarchist Ireland.

28. In order for this approach to succeed we must never hide our opposition to repression and our anti-imperialism, we must attempt to link these with the on-going struggle.

29. The struggle to achieve workers unity in the North can not be separated from the struggle to build an anarchist workers movement in the south. Such a movement in the south attacking both capitalism and the dominance of religious law will be a great spur to winning over Protestant workers in the North. The Catholic Church's position of power in the South has been severely weakened over the last decade. However it still maintains a dominant role in crucial areas such as education and health. The complete smashing of this dominance will help in the building of common links between northern and southern workers.

30. We should aid British anarchist groups in developing a clear perspective on the national question committed to breaking British workers from any support for the Rule of the British State in Ireland.

Short Term Perspectives
1. The political organisations linked to loyalist paramilitaries have become more active since the 1994 loyalist ceasefire. While the Progressive Unionist Party claim to be socialist it is important to remember where they have come from. They are the public face of the UVF, which waged a blatantly sectarian war against the nationalist population of the six counties for two and a half decades. Unless and until they renounce these actions, they cannot be considered part of the socialist movement.

We do not, however, agree with the position that socialists should not enter into debate with members of these parties. It is only through such debate that the ludicrousness of their position of claiming to be socialist while at the same time pledging loyalty to a monarchy can be exposed. In order to win Protestant workers in the six counties to the fight for anarchism we must first convince them to break with the sectarian ideology of loyalism/unionism.

2. Reform of the 6 county state.
We previously held that the 6 county state was irreformably sectarian. However the current peace process may result in a state apparatus that is divided into feuding sectarian forces on the one hand and the encouragement by these politicians of communalist sectarian conflict on the other. It appears that capitalism being unable to step forwards has stepped side-wards in a manner that does nothing to resolve grassroots sectarian conflict but overall results in a 'parity of intervention' by the state in these conflicts.

July 2004

Related Link: http://struggle.ws/wsm
author by Khalidpublication date Mon Aug 16, 2004 16:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It a more progressive document then those put forward by others o the left that only put forward dead end nationalism ie SWP and SF etc. In saying this I hve to raise a couple of differences I would have. Its not a fully thouhgt out reply just a couple of things that I have seen.

In Paragraph 3 you state "3...Rather we see partition as the main reason why conflicts based on religious divisions continue to exist." Here you are saying that the reason that sectarian division exists is because of partition. This is rubbish. It is essentially a nationalist position as you take the view that working class Protestants will are being duped by the British ruling class and would see the liht and reconcile themselves with their 'irishness' if they were living under an Irish state. Partition is not causing division in the northern working class, capitalism is causing that division. Under capitalism the bourgoisie wil always try to divide the working class, they will us religion, gender, sexual orientation, language etc etc. If tomorrow there was a united Irish state, if it was a capitalist state, we would still have sectarian division. All that would change would be that instead of the British ruling class doing the dividing it would be the Irish ruling class. A capitalist solution to the national question is no solution, we will still have division the only way we can permaently end the conflict is with socialism and the working class taking power in Ireland, Britain and internationally.

I also feel your docment neglects to recognise that there is a potential to build support for socialism and working class politicsamong the Protestant working class. For example in paragraph 11 you seem to completely write off the protestant working class as a reactionary mass that can't be won over

"11. ... republicanism unlike loyalism often developed significant left strands within it because, at least in theory, it was based on the 'equal rights of all' rather then the 'god given destiny of the chosen people'."

This paragraph is in my view isneglecting the fac that there is a left strand within the protestant working class, you rightly point out later,

"The potential for unity has been demonstrated on a number of occasions in the history of the north including the 1907 Dockers strike and the outdoor relief strike of 1932 when the Falls and Shankill rioted in support of each other. More recently we have seem united actions in defence of the National Health Service and against sectarian intimidation. Smaller examples of such unity are constantly thrown up in workplace struggles in the north"

How ca you square this statement with the previous ones that seem towrite off the protestant working class as a reacionary mass?
I also think that you misanalyse republicanism. Republicanism is also a reactionary ideology, it is an ideology of the petty bourgeoise NOT the working class.

That's just a few comments for now.

author by Raypublication date Mon Aug 16, 2004 16:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But I think you've misread some of the paper...

"For example in paragraph 11 you seem to completely write off the protestant working class as a reactionary mass that can't be won over

"11. ... republicanism unlike loyalism often developed significant left strands within it because, at least in theory, it was based on the 'equal rights of all' rather then the 'god given destiny of the chosen people'.""

The paragraph you quote is talking about _loyalism_ as an ideology, not the protestant working class.


"This paragraph is in my view isneglecting the fac that there is a left strand within the protestant working class, you rightly point out later,

"The potential for unity has been demonstrated on a number of occasions in the history of the north including the 1907 Dockers strike and the outdoor relief strike of 1932 when the Falls and Shankill rioted in support of each other. More recently we have seem united actions in defence of the National Health Service and against sectarian intimidation. Smaller examples of such unity are constantly thrown up in workplace struggles in the north""

These examples are not examples of Protestant workers expressing their loyalism through working class unity. Loyalism, as an ideology, runs counter to the idea of unity because it maintains that there is a difference between 'the chosen people' and everyone else. Republicanism contains a conflict between the idea of 'equal rights for all' and the all-too-common practice of 'a catholic nationalist chosen people, instead of that lot'

"How can you square this statement with the previous ones that seem towrite off the protestant working class as a reacionary mass?"

I think the paper is saying that the protestant working class is not in itself reactionary, but it is often tied to a reactionary ideology. You have to break with the idea that you are a part of the chosen people before you can build working class unity.
The catholic working class have some great slogans about equality and unity, and some terrible ideas about labour having to wait, and uniting with your catholic boss instead of your protestant workmate. This tension has meant that republicanism has developed very left-wing strands, as well as very reactionary ones.
As anarchists and socialists we should be building equality and unity. Its a big break from either tradition, but its something that loyalism, as an ideology, doesn't even pay lip-service to.

author by Khalidpublication date Mon Aug 16, 2004 17:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i understand you are not a WSM member but it'd be interesting to have this discussion any how.

I accept I may have misread or misinterpretted what you wrote in the paper. But I still think that the document fails to ppint to the fact that there is a long tradition of left wing and working class politics in the Protestant working class. For example in recent times at least half of the workers on strike in the FBU dispute and currently on strike on the NIPSA strike are Protestants. Historically the NI Labour Party, which did claim to be socialist, traditionaly got more votes from the Protestant working class. I could go on for hours with examples of a left wing and working class tradion among protestant workers. Unfortunately no being originally from Ireland they don't come readily to mind.

On the other and probably more important point I made, I'd be interested in seeing what you thought about my point about capitalism and not partition being the cause of secatarianism.

author by Raypublication date Mon Aug 16, 2004 17:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"For example in recent times at least half of the workers on strike in the FBU dispute and currently on strike on the NIPSA strike are Protestants. "

I don't see why you think this contradicts the paper, which does say that there have been examples of workplace unity between protestants and catholics.
It argues that loyalism, the ideology, is not progressive, which is difefrent from saying that protestant workers can never be progressive.

"I'd be interested in seeing what you thought about my point about capitalism and not partition being the cause of secatarianism."

Primary causes and proximate causes are different things. We could agree that, in the final analysis, sectarianism, racism, sexism, and nationalism are all products of capitalism. But we could also agree that one of the ways capitalism has fostered sectarianism in Ireland is through partition.

The basis of partition is that catholics and protestants were two different groups of people, and that they must each have their own state. This is an argument that is bound to lead to sectarianism, north and south, because each new state would have a minority who has just been defined as alien and out of place.

To go back to your original post,
"It is essentially a nationalist position as you take the view that working class Protestants will are being duped by the British ruling class and would see the light and reconcile themselves with their 'irishness' if they were living under an Irish state."

Its not a nationalist argument, its an argument that partition itself creates an 'irish' identity which excludes protestants, and a 'northern irish' identity which excludes catholics. Rather than try to convince protestants that they should learn to be good irishmen in an irish state (or convince catholics to sing God Save the Queen in the north), we have to reject both of those limited identities.

The solutionto the problem of sectarianism is not to construct societies where each sect can go on in splendid isolation, any more than the solution to racism is to construct racial homelands. We're not telling protestants to get comfortable with 'irishness' any more than we're telling black people to try to 'pass' as white. We're trying to create a society where your religion (if you must have one) is as irrelevant to others as the colour of your skin, your gender, or anything else capitalism uses to divide us.

author by Chekov - WSM - personal capacitypublication date Mon Aug 16, 2004 19:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Firstly, I'd agree with pretty much all of Ray's explanations above (what an ex-member!) - I'd just like to expand on our thinking in relation to the quote:

"Rather we see partition as the main reason why conflicts based on religious divisions continue to exist."

It is my understanding that conflicts based on religious divisions within the population of a given area tend to decrease over time unless they are nurtured by political power.

In support of this point, I'd cite the examples of catholic-protestant antagonism in Britain and Australia - at one stage very strong in both cases. In both cases the state came gradually to a position where this division was superceded by the division between the established population and newer immigrants and thus the state ceased its practice of maintaining it. Within a couple of generations the religious sectarianism has largely died away in most areas and the few areas where it remains such as Glasgow and Liverpool are pale shadows of the situation in Northern Ireland.

In contrast, if you look at situations where the state has a continued interest in religious sectarianism, as a result of a partiitionist solutions, like in Ireland, Pakistan/India and the Lebanon, religious sectarianism has often got worse over time.

One of the things that we were trying to express in this revision of our position is the idea that the partitionist solution to communalist tensions lies at the heart of the current problem. This is opposed to our former paper where the deeply sectarian orange state was probably viewed as the root of the problem with much less focus on the effects of partition on the 26 counties. The cultural desertification of the 26 counties between the 1920's and 1950's in the south is as much a result of the partition of the island into two plausibly homogeneous nations as is the bigoted, nakedly-sectarian nature of the orange state.

Far from saying that the backward prods should just sign up to the Southern state, we are saying that the rotten, priest-ridden nature of the Southern state was actually a consequence of partition as well. When you adopt a partitionist solution to ethnic or religious tension, the working class loses out in the long run as it is much easier for the ruling class to construct a narrowly defined concept of national identity with which to bind their workers to themselves.

Finally, Khalid, thanks for putting the time into reading the paper and formulating some serious responses.

author by docpublication date Mon Aug 16, 2004 19:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A quick response
Republican response to recent WSM document on partition.
1. As anarchists, we oppose imperialism and believe it cannot play a
progressive role. In Ireland we have always opposed British imperialism.
In opposing it we see no form of nationalism as offering a definitive
solution to either the working class in Ireland or the working class
across the globe. In the final analysis nationalism argues for a common
interest between workers and bosses of one 'nation' against the workers
and bosses of another. As anarchists we stand for international working
class solidarity against all bosses.

Ultraleftist tripe. Firstly to opposed imperialism it is useful to engage in organised resistance - unless we are to go around in singular terroristic activities. Secondly, nationalism in a colonial context is entirely different to nationalism within an imperial context. Nationalists fighting imperialism are acting objectively against the interests of global finance capital. Nationalist anti-imperialist struggle is not fundamentally introverted. It can link with other progressive nationalisms in countering a common imperialist aggressor. One, two many vietnams!!

2. However as anarchists living on the island of Ireland we have to deal
with rather than ignore the divisions in the working class that exist
based on communal identity in the north and the issues of state repression
that continue around them. When we talk about "communal identity" we
acknowledge that not all Catholic are nationalists, not all Protestants
are unionists, and not all nationalists and unionists are religious
believers. There are, however, two main communal identities, which can be
summarised as Catholic/nationalist on one hand and Protestant/unionist on
the other. In this paper the terms 'communal identity" and 'religion are
used interchangeably

Again, in this paragraph no understanding that political-cultural groups are maintained by the action of British imperialism in Ireland. As such, there is not so much a need to 'dealing...with divisions in the working class...and the issues of state repression that continue around them' rather there is a need to see these divisions in the context of ending the root cause of the national-liberation struggle - the denial of national self-determination to the Irish people. Anarchists may have just as well tried to deal with divisions between the working-class coloured and 'pied-noirs' of Algeria. Even worse, they might not have recognised the innate progressive nature of that country's peasant and lumpen elements in the struggle against imperialism.

3. We reject the idea that there are any differences between workers from
different religions on the island that make partition either desirable or
inevitable. Rather we see partition as the main reason why conflicts based
on religious divisions continue to exist.

This is okay - aside from the need to progress from rejecting an idea to actually doing something about it (oh but I forgot that would involve organising - pending spontaneous outbreaks of working-class activism).

4. All sections of the working class have lost out as a result of these
religious divisions. In the north the divisions in the working class make
it more difficult but not impossible to unite against the bosses. In the
north the divisions have historically meant that workers from a catholic
background suffered state discrimination and were often the targets of
loyalist and Orange attacks. In the south, the birth of mass socialist
politics in the working class has been delayed for decades, Southern
workers were subject to a theocratic state regime which not only denied
abortion rights but also subjected the vulnerable, in particular children,
to brutal regimes of 'discipline' based on physical and all to often
sexual abuse.

What planet are these people on? Workers from both backgrounds 'uniting against the bosses'!!! As if they were serious. There's more chance of workers here uniting against the GAA then there is about the bosses. Would these same self-proclaimed revolutionaries await a pied-noir proletarian response to their own bosses - if only the damned coloured would stop blowing them up!!

5. It is important to realise that partition is not a historic accident
but rather the result of centuries of imperialism and struggles against
imperialism. From the reformation onwards the British State encouraged
religious conflict in Ireland in order to divide and rule.

Okay...

6. The 1798 rebellion offered the greatest opportunity to simultaneously
remove the British rule and to unite all the Irish people regardless of
creed. Its defeat and the process though which it was defeated resulted in
centuries of sectarian conflict. Most importantly was the encouragement of
the Orange Order as an instrument of counter-revolution aimed at
physically suppressing Catholics and radical protestants alike.

So the anarchists too claim the heritage of 1798!!

7. The partition of Ireland in 1922 was carried out in the interests both
of British imperialism, which maintained military bases as a result, and
of the northern bosses as it provided a weapon to divide the working
class. At the time the economic interests of northern and southern bosses
were opposed. The north was well developed with export orientated industry
(linen and shipbuilding) and needed access to English markets. The south
was underdeveloped and for industry to develop southern capitalism would
have to be protected from cheaper English imports, partition therefore
favoured both sets of bosses.

Aside from the fact that partition also suited the interests of the southern bosses, this also develops the idea that capitalists' interests were counterpoised in Ireland. That's clearly not true as most of the old bourgeois class were all for continued Irish unity. It was the nascient petit-bourgeoisie which were for independence. Just read the old Freeman from the 1920s! The statements on economic development in Ireland are hugely oversimplified. As usual, there was uneven development. Both sides of Ireland needed access to British markets. Both sides wanted to have protectionist measures but the domestic market was too small to really worry about for big business. That's why the petit-bourgeois/bourgeois split.

8. The north was created in such a way to ensure a permanent unionist
rule by tying Protestant workers to their bosses in return for marginal
privileges in a 6 county rather than a 9 county "Ulster". These privileges
were maintained by northern bosses (e.g. Brookborough's famous statement
about employing 'good Protestant lads') and meant Protestant workers can
be mobilised against Catholic workers demanding a fair share under
Northern capitalism or unity with the republic. Examples of this in action
can be seen in the Loyalist and police attacks on the nationalist ghettos
in 1969 in response to a peaceful civil rights movement demanding basic
democratic rights, in the 1974 unionist strike against power sharing and
in the mass demonstration of Protestants against the Anglo-Irish
agreement.

Ok.

9. British troops were not sent into the North in 1969 in order to keep
the peace but rather to provide a breathing space for the northern
security forces and to stabilise in the interests of the British ruling
class what they thought could have became a revolutionary situation. This
remained their role, which is why we call for "Troops out now". In
addition they were used also to break the back of any mass peaceful reform
movement through actions like Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Standard analysis.

10. Loyalism is a reactionary ideology in all its forms including those
that try to appear socialist. It serves only to maintain sectarianism and
Protestant privilege and protect the interests of the British and northern
ruling classes.

Again, standard Republican analysis.

11. Republicanism is a petty-bourgeoisie ideology and not a socialist
one. Even those brands which claim to be socialist preach a theory in
which workers must submerge their own interests and fight alongside their
Catholic bosses until a united Ireland is achieved. Nevertheless it has
considerable working class support in the north, but because of its stages
theory where labour must wait it has little attraction for Protestant
workers and has no strategy for approaching Protestant workers.

These guys reckoned that Lenin, Trotsky, Mao and Guevara were all petit-bourgeoisie. Of course they were but they all led socialist revolutions in the end up. No understanding here of why in 1922 Lenin and the rest of the comintern adopted the idea of running with united fronts in colonial situations. No idea that defeating imperialism sometimes requires not passing away whole classes of potential allies (i.e. domestic petit-bourgeoisie). The use of bosses rather than the scientific formulations of grand-bourgeois or petit-bourgeois covers a mass of ideological problems. As for the stages theory, this reads like some critique of Stalin/Lenin/Mao on revolution. The problem is that the theory of permanent revolution has been proven wrong three times in history: Russia, China and Cuba. To name but three. There is a 'smooth growing over' of the national-democratic to the socialist revolutions. If Protestant workers can't realise that British imperialism not Republican national-revolutionaries are their greatest enemy then its their own problem. I personally would find much more in common with the brutality against the settler urged by Fanon than with such ideological niceties as wooing the Protestant workers by alienating pro-nationalist petit-bourgeoisie.

However, republicanism unlike loyalism often developed significant left
strands within it because, at least in theory, it was based on the 'equal
rights of all' rather then the 'god given destiny of the chosen people'.
After the rise of Leninism however these strands were deeply contaminated
with authoritarian socialist ideas. Still they sometimes, as with the
Republican Congress movement of the 1930's, could win support from the
northern protestant working class around the slogan of the workers
republic. Although we and other anarchists have used that slogan as in the
past, it is no longer a useful shorthand for why we have different
politics to republicans, so we prefer to simply say that we are for 'an
anarchist Ireland'

This last line is perfect. The Workers' Republic isn't sectarian enough so they group behind 'an anarchist Ireland' to ensure that they alienate everyone. Also nice about the 'contamination' by 'leninism' within Republicanism. Maybe this needs some dialectical explanation as opposed to just a typically anarchist attribution. Why did Leninism appeal more to militants busy fighting British imperialist forces on the streets and in the fields than namby-pamby middle-class anarchism? Why is this the case right the way around the colonies of the empires? Was it that there was some subtle gravitational pull towards 'contamination' or were these revolutionaries 'bought' to come on board by the Soviet Union or China - or was it that something approaching organisational clarity is needed to pursue a guerilla war?

12. The tactic of armed struggle, as carried out by the Republicans was
never capable of achieving a solution as it was incapable of delivering a
military victory over the British army. In addition the British ruling
class cares little for the deaths of individual soldiers in its army.
Furthermore a 'commercial bombing campaign' will always, whether
deliberately or not, cause civilian casualties and heighten sectarian
tensions.

So this bunch of dedicated hard-core revolutionists seeks to preach the lessons of history. Of course an armed struggle could have succeeded - just as it did in Vietnam. It doesn't always - but does that mean that it was a waste of time? As for the deaths of individual soldiers - they may not care but did the Americans care about the deaths of their boys in Vietnam? What nonsense is this? The commercial bombing campaign was arguably the most successful element in the Republican campaign - yet they don't criticise its impact rather its cost on the inhabitants of the imperial centres and on the settler population!

13. The armed struggle was also faulted because it relied on the actions
of a few, with the masses left in either a totally inactive role, or one
limited to providing intelligence and shelter to the few. It is claimed
that it did serve to maintain the gains made in the 60s and early 70s. The
mass campaigns (civil disobedience, rent & rates strike, street
committees, etc.) would have been a far greater protection for the gains
won than the elitist militarism of a few.

This is typical anarchist tripe. The armed struggle against massive occupational forces in the north and border counties was possible only because of mass-involvement. That this is true is reflected in the huge levels of popular support for Republicanism today in those areas. Indeed, most nationalist areas might now be termed living within a Republican cultural hegemony (as recently George Galloway said). Elitist militarism indeed. These guys actually did the fighting and dying - how many brave anarchists have I ever heard of? The lessons of history to 1972 was that unarmed progressive movements would be met by force. Only an idiot or an anarchist would suggest that revolutionaries sit back and fail to engage in this.

14. The British state is responsible for the long history of armed
conflict in the North. As long as the British remain in Ireland there is
likely to be armed resistance, especially when there is no mass movement
to demonstrate an alternative to militarism. Every generation has thrown
up a new group of people willing to physically fight for "Irish freedom".
Permanent peace can only come about after British withdrawal. When the
1994 ceasefire was declared we welcomed it because the ending of the armed
struggle opens up real possibilities for revolutionary politics. We have
opposed the republican armed struggle because it was an impediment to
working class unity. It was based on wrong politics, it was a wrong
strategy and it used wrong tactics. However we refused to blame the
republicans for the situation in the six counties. Their campaign was the
result of a problem and must not be confused with its cause. We have been
clear that, in the final analysis, the fault lies with the continuing
British occupation.

This is all very well but again - who are these self-professed people who sit in judgement of the heroes of the national-liberation struggle?

15. We did not see the IRA ceasefire as a sell-out. Rather it is merely
the natural progression of nationalist politics, which was always going to
lead to a compromise with imperialism.

If SF was just about nationalist politics then this would still be untrue. This is a completely undialectical understanding of what a compromise represents. Some may have said that the agreement entered into by the Vietcong in 1973 was a compromise with imperialism - a natural progression of nationalist politics!! But settlements are never stable so long as the revolutionaries are a growing force - thesis and antithesis leading to a new thesis...

16. The IRA is not responsible for the creation of or the continuation of
sectarianism. Rather it was re-created in 1969 as a response to the
sectarian attacks by the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries on
what had been a peaceful civil rights movement.

17. We condemn all sectarian actions (i.e. those carried out because of
religion) including any that may be carried out by republicans. We combat
sectarianism not by appeals to the state forces for protection but by
calling for workers to act through strikes, demonstrations etc against
such outrages.
We condemn without reservation the 'punishment' beatings and shootings of
people accused of 'anti-social behaviour' or drug dealing carried out by
both republican and loyalist paramilitaries. These actions are nothing
more than a crude attempt by these groups to maintain control over what
they view as 'their communities'. They are authoritarian thuggery. It is
no justification for these groups to claim that there is a 'policing
vacuum' or that the communities are pressurising them to act. None of
these groups have any mandate to enforce their 'rule of law'. They
certainly have no right to set themselves up as judge, jury and
executioner.

Again, these (no doubt) comfortable revolutionaries condemn genuinely working class responses to crime, criminality and the British presence. Just what are we to do when a granny gets her house robbed on the Falls? Call in the British PSNI?
If Catholics on flashpoint roads were going to wait for the ICTU (NI) to call a general strike in their defence then they certainly wouldn't have any houses to go back to. The northern TUs are characterised by the most craven aristocracy of labour in Western Europe. Not once have they protested against continued occupation by British forces - in order to not alienate Protestant workers no doubt!!

18. The Good Friday Agreement came about as the culmination of Sinn Fin's
strategy for over a decade which was aimed at building various broad
fronts around different issues in an attempt to gain respectability by
pulling in Fianna Fil members and church figures. This involved dropping
all references to socialism to maintain unity with "the broad nationalist
family". This strategy was never going to deliver a united socialist
Ireland, or any other significant improvements apart from those associated
with "demilitarisation". It represents instead a hardening of traditional
nationalism and the goal of achieving an alliance of all nationalists -
Sinn Fin, Fianna Fil, SDLP, the Catholic Church and "Irish America". Such
an alliance has nothing to offer working class people, North or South, and
we oppose it outright.

The alliance again must be understood dialectically. The Stoops are crushed. Radical Republicanism stands at the head of demands for equality and unity. The lie that Republicans tried to gain FF members and church figures should be justified. Only one councillor went to the party from FF - and he was a genuine progressive. Only one church member came into the party as a councillor - and he was a Seventh Day eventist. Clearly, the anarchists have no liking for accuracy in their prognostications!

> The Good Friday Agreement offered nothing except a sectarian division of
the spoils and in fact copper-fastened sectarian divisions. We called for
an abstention in the referendum on this deal, refusing to align ourselves
with those calling for a 'no' vote, pointing out that they have no
alternative to offer, just more of the same conflict that has ruined tens
of thousands of working class lives. The republican forces of the 32
County Sovereignty Committee, the Real IRA, Republican Sinn Fein,
Continuity IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army has nothing but
increased communalism and sectarianism to offer. The loyalist
opponents-whose rallies were attended by vocal supporters of the Loyalist
Volunteer Force death squads -wanted a return to the time when Catholics
lived on their knees in fear.

Yet, they couldn't adopt a Yes vote? The most important referendum in modern Irish history and they couldn't decide which way to plump? Anarchists - I tell you!

> The Assembly set up under the 'Good Friday Agreement' demonstrates quite
clearly the fact that the net effect of this agreement is to copper-fasten
sectarianism, with elected members having to declare themselves
'nationalist' or 'unionist' in order for their votes to count. The
political parties have shown that they are capable of plenty of agreement
on economic issues - with no disagreement over budgets or spending plans,
but issues such as what flowers should be put on display in the lobby or
what flags should fly over Ministerial buildings are used to hype up the
divisions between the two sides

This hardened wart again? Quite how declaring yourself in favour of British disengagement from Ireland, or not, or undecided 'copper-fastens sectarianism' is beyond me. Surely sectarianism is copper-fastened by social structures and dominant cultures and ideologies maintained under partition. The issue of agreement on economic issues is an irrelevance in comparison to the question of national sovereignty. Besides, if you support the agreement or want to work its structures (as all four main parties claimed to) then you will have eventually agree a budget.

19. The huge vote, North and South, in favour of the agreement -whatever
else it might have indicated - showed quite clearly that the vast majority
of people do not want a return to pre-ceasefire violence. Any return to
armed struggle will deliver only more hardship and repression for working
class people in the six counties.

What about the repression attendent from a maintenance of British-military occupation. No word of this from our progressive friends only a focus on IRA violence.

> We reiterate our view that permanent peace and an end to sectarianism
will only come about after a British withdrawal and that working people
from both communities must be convinced of the need to make the fight one
for anarchism, not for 'national rights'.

National rights will be fulfilled with an end to British involvement in Irish politics. The failure to see the centrality of achieving national self-determination in terms of economic independence from the international capitalist order in the period beyond this is a reflection on the lack of clarity within anarchist thinking. Instead we counterpose this to anarchist demands - whatever they are?

20. When the potential exists we should argue for northern workers to
refuse to handle any work for the security forces. We are opposed to any
military campaign aimed at workers who do handle security force work.

So collaborators should be immune from assault. Its a good job these guys didn't really have anything to do with fighting the loyal trade unions of Vichy France. Perhaps this puts a perspective to the historical record of anarchists in POUM in the Spanish Civil War. I'm glad I'm not fighting alongside these guys. Instead of shooting collaborators with the Nazis they would try and argue for a refusal to handle work for the occupational forces.

21. On occasions where the potential exists (e.g. the 1981 hunger
strikes) we should argue for the creation of a mass movement playing an
active role through demonstrations, strikes etc and against any attempt to
turn such a movement into one of passive support either for the military
campaign or for the electoral one.

So we are going to end up with a campaign built on fighting British imperialism which neither supports a military or electoral strategy to effect their removal. What then, oh yes, strikes to promote anarchist social and economic demands!!

22. Sectarian divisions continue in the north today. We recognise that
many of the protests that take place around these divisions are intended
to inflame them and further divide the working class rather than solve
them. Often this is for the electoral gain of local politicians or to
provide a continuing role for paramilitaries.

So protesting against Sectarian Unionist marchers is inflammatory! Sounds like something Paisley would say. Beat them off the streets!! The continuing role for Republican paramilitaries stems from the fact that the British still maintain a seriously inequitable statelet in Ireland not from any particular human-rights protest.

> We are not neutral on these issues. We do not support the right of any
group to determine who may or may not live, work or pass through 'their
area'. The one exception we make to this is the parades of the Orange
Order and related institutions because of the role they continue to play
sentence "in inflaming sectarian hatred. But we argue opposition to the
Orange Order must be built on a class rather then religious basis. This
means great efforts should be made to winning workers from a protestant
background to opposing the order.

And what happens when this doesn't work. We just sit back and maintain our opposition in a manner which is not 'inflammatory'? What stupidity?

> We generally support all calls for public enquiries and all attempts to
limit police powers even where we disagree with the politics of those who
are the victims of the repression.

How glad must be the families of British state collusion that the anarchists have disposed to support their calls for inquiries despite their disagreement with the politics of the victim. Surely a victim is a victim irrespective of their politics. And do we sense a little variation here? The anarchists reluctantly agree to public inquiries for victims of state murder machines despite their politics yet they take easily to lecturing resistance fighters on 'counter-productive' bombing campaigns on the empires mainland?

> We argue for integrated housing and schooling and the removal of all
religious and nationalist symbols from public buildings and streets by
those who use them. We argue for the ending of any clerical input into any
school or hospital that receives public funding in the north just as we do
in the south.

And what about the impact this will have on encouraging loyalist murder squads kill innocent Irish nationalists?

23. As anarchists we work for unity both between Catholic and Protestant
workers and between British and Irish workers. The potential for unity has
been demonstrated on a number of occasions in the history of the north
including the 1907 Dockers strike and the outdoor relief strike of 1932
when the Falls and Shankill rioted in support of each other. More recently
we have seem united actions in defence of the National Health Service and
against sectarian intimidation. Smaller examples of such unity are
constantly thrown up in workplace struggles in the north.

Unity of the workers in Britain and Ireland. Why did those fools die in 1916. It would all have been easier if they'd just accepted their rightful place as equal to their English fellow. Of course, no consideration of the fact that their exists between Ireland and Britain a relationship of dominance.

24. We recognise that although Protestant workers have marginal
advantages over Catholic workers these are far outweighed by the
disadvantages faced by the division of the working class which means
northern workers, both Catholic and Protestant are worse off in terms of
housing, unemployment and wages then any comparable sized area in England.
These are the fruits of partition.

No, the fruits of partition are that both are worse off than their fellows in the Free State of Ireland. Why do we always have to compare ourselves to Britain?

25. It is therefore in the interests of Protestant workers to break with
their Protestant bosses and loyalism and fight alongside Catholic workers
both in day to day industrial struggles and for an anarchist Ireland.

This might be the case. But where in here is any recognition that people do not always do what's in their objective self-interests. Also it is clear that a significant section of Protestants are materially better off than they would be in a united Ireland and that this group has a central role in the maintenance of a Unionist political and cultural hegemony within their own community? What are the anarchists going to do about this. Sorry, forgot, they don't engage in real struggle.

26. In the past the national question has been used before by northern
bosses to split common struggles of Catholic and Protestant workers. It is
therefore not possible to maintain the unity won in economic struggle
without breaking the Protestant workers commitment to loyalism and
committing them to the fight for an anarchist Ireland.

This is fine but how is that to be achieved?

27. Our strategy should be geared toward involving ourselves in the
struggles of Northern workers and in the course of these struggles
breaking the loyalties tying the workers to the bosses of either religion
and so enlisting them in the fight for an anarchist Ireland.

This is okay but the problem is that the working class are not sufficiently militant enough to fight for a socialist/anarchist Ireland. They are much more concerned about the communal-political divide. Instead, the correct approach must be to undermine the discriminatory nature of the northern statelet and thereby confront Unionist hegemony with a denial of its raison-d'etre. With the tide of social and economic history flowing one way only, that hegemony will be progressively challenged and eventually political unionism will lose its dominance within the Protestant community.

28. In order for this approach to succeed we must never hide our
opposition to repression and our anti-imperialism, we must attempt to link
these with the on-going struggle.

Ok.

29. The struggle to achieve workers unity in the North can not be
separated from the struggle to build an anarchist workers movement in the
south. Such a movement in the south attacking both capitalism and the
dominance of religious law will be a great spur to winning over Protestant
workers in the North. The Catholic Church's position of power in the South
has been severely weakened over the last decade. However it still
maintains a dominant role in crucial areas such as education and health.
The complete smashing of this dominance will help in the building of
common links between northern and southern workers.

Of course this is true. But the problem is that this is like the Trotskyite schema of a 'spontaneous revolution'. What are the conditions which will bring this about. Surely the first thing required is some form of engagement in electoral struggle but that stands against the tenets of anarchism.

30. We should aid British anarchist groups in developing a clear
perspective on the national question committed to breaking British workers
from any support for the Rule of the British State in Ireland.

Any help in winning British people to a position of actively campaigning for disengagement from Ireland is welcome.

Short Term Perspectives
1. The political organisations linked to loyalist paramilitaries have
become more active since the 1994 loyalist ceasefire. While the
Progressive Unionist Party claim to be socialist it is important to
remember where they have come from. They are the public face of the UVF,
which waged a blatantly sectarian war against the nationalist population
of the six counties for two and a half decades. Unless and until they
renounce these actions, they cannot be considered part of the socialist
movement.

I have to laugh at this. The UVF may be considered part of the socialist movement if they renounce their past violence actions. Meanwhile SF are bourgeois nationalists who could never be categorised as socialists!!

We do not, however, agree with the position that socialists should not
enter into debate with members of these parties. It is only through such
debate that the ludicrousness of their position of claiming to be
socialist while at the same time pledging loyalty to a monarchy can be
exposed. In order to win Protestant workers in the six counties to the
fight for anarchism we must first convince them to break with the
sectarian ideology of loyalism/unionism.

The whole focus here is on winning Protestants to anarchism not Catholics. Perhaps they are 'contaminated' with Leninism!! Perhaps the underclass doesn't count so much as the settler class?

2. Reform of the 6 county state.
We previously held that the 6 county state was irreformably sectarian.
However the current peace process may result in a state apparatus that is
divided into feuding sectarian forces on the one hand and the
encouragement by these politicians of communalist sectarian conflict on
the other. It appears that capitalism being unable to step forwards has
stepped side-wards in a manner that does nothing to resolve grassroots
sectarian conflict but overall results in a 'parity of intervention' by
the state in these conflicts.

Here is a recognition of the possibility of an unstable, transitional statelet coming about as a result of the GFA. Of course, no understanding of all-ireland elements or structures proposed within the GFA. Neither of the revolutionary content of concepts such as an all-Ireland civic consultative forum or an all-Ireland Charter of Rights (with fundamental social and economic rights). But then again, this sectarian screed isn't characterised by a depth of research.

author by :-)publication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 01:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The only political grouping in Ireland which can rightfully claim direct descent from 1798 is the anarchist grouping.

= we've more right to it than Sinn Fein.

so stick that up your bodenstown!

Next year we're going to reclaim our libertarian revolution and republic.

author by jesus weptpublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good luck! These are people who will attampt to abduct, rape and murder two women who wander into one of their laagers wearing a GAA shirt. Great material for anarchism!

author by Mr Curiouspublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was just curious as to how this document was developed. Judgements are made of various political and military organisations such as SF and the PUP. Did dialogue take place between the WSM and these people? Were they given an opportunity to put their side of the arguments?

Who actually authored the document for presentation to the WSM? Was it voted on for approval and if so, what was the vote?

The reason I ask is that the paper, while as someone pointed out was advanced enough to leave the SWP and the SP analyses of the North in the shade, still seems to cling to a few old nonsensical bugbears such as the notion that armed struggle is elitist. Surely not the same people who ridicule such claims about direct action?

author by Andrew - WSM pers cappublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This document has come out of 30 month process of internal discussion which started off with discussions involving anarchists north and south and culminated in two conferences 6 months apart. The only other group which was asked to these was Organise! but as some of our members have been active here for decades it also draws on their experience.

As we all live and are active in ireland there are also a wide variety of other sources and experiences that input into this document. Some of our members are ex- Republicans, there was also a very extensive and often heated debate on the Irish Anarchism email list. Probably the greatest weakness is that while some of our members are from southern protestant backgrounds none are from northern protestant ones so our picture of the northern protestant working class is mostly indirect and coming via Organise! (and relatives of some members).

The formal process of adopting a position paper is as follows
1. Any WSM member can suggest a new paper or amendments to an existing one in writing to any WSM national conference.
2. Any WSM member can propose amendments in writing to this new paper/amendments to the same national conference.
3. On the day itself any bit can be voted on to be deleted or deferred or if there is consensus a new wording can be inserted (the last allows the last minute correction of oversights).
4. Any member (or invited observer) can speak on the various proposals
5. All members then vote on each section of each paper.
6. Items that need to be returned to at the next conference are noted.
7. Once all sections are voted on we vote on the adoption of the paper as a whole. (All votes are by simple majority, in the event of a tie existing policy stands)

So this was the method followed here. This was a particularly long running process with multiple amendments suggested from several members over the two conferences. Some sections were voted out and many amendments were made. Some votes were very close and from memory I think there was even a tie in one case. Quite a bit has been earmarked to return to at our next conference.

The WSM constitution at http://struggle.ws/ppapers/constitution.html gives a more formal description of our decision making process.

Related Link: http://struggle.ws/wsm
author by Raypublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Who actually authored the document for presentation to the WSM? Was it voted on for approval and if so, what was the vote?"

Any member of the organisation can write a position paper or motion, and present it at a conference. (Sometimes people are invited to produce a paper on a particular subject). Anyone can propose amendments to that paper, and these amendments, and the final paper, are voted on by all of the members. The minutes record whether a motion was passed, and in what form, but not who voted for it. Since the new position is that of the organisation (though factions may be formed to oppose it), it doesn't matter who wrote which part of it.

The WSM constitution and position papers are all available on the WSM website.

author by Andrewpublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'd disappointed that while the one commentator who seems to think we are too hard on loyalism makes his points in a reasonable manner the two who think we are too hard on the Republican Movement revert to old styles sectarianism.

I don't see the point in trying to discuss anything with someone whose starting postions is that all protestant workers are rapists ie "these are people who will attampt to abduct, rape and murder two women".

I also don't see much point in arguing the toss with someone who thinks all Irish protestants are 'settlers'!!! Evem if you dress this up with marxist jargon and weird analogies with Algeria.

1798 was mentioned, the WSM published a long article on this back in 1998 which you can find at http://struggle.ws/rbr/rbr4_1798.html

author by Bugspublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 13:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nothing like throwing out the ultra-leftist insult to win your argument.
But sure isn't SF guilty of ultra-democratisation - Martin Cunningham, Rathenraw and Bobby Tohill to name but three examples.

author by P.j.publication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 13:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

All I can say is very poorly written document, in my opinion it contains to many contradictions to spend my time listing.

author by franz fanonpublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 14:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Most Protestant workers are the descendents of settlers. However, no-one wants to send them home. All they want is for them to accept the "natives" as equal human beings and not look upon them as some kind of scum. Not much to ask really.....

author by Andrewpublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 14:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Everyone in Ireland is the 'descendant of settlers', there was no one here at the end of the last ice age. Probably 90% of us have a Viking ancestor. (And that was some settlement!)

In political terms the 'settler' label may have some meaning for a couple of generations after settlement. It has no meaning in the Irish case except to die hard sectarians and right wing blood purists.

author by franz fanonpublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 15:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Fir Bolg or the Milesians or the Anglo Normans don't go around claiming to be the fucking master race. That's the difference. The Ulster Scots or whatever they call themselves these days have the same attitude to the Irish as the Affrikanners and their Southern US cousins to the blacks. That's THE problem here. Nothing to do with socialism or the working class or any of that nonsense. It's about getting the descendents of the settlers to accept democracy and equality before the law.

author by iosaf - (excerpted from my continuing internal report)publication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 16:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The congress has bravely considered the national question and comrade Flood rose to address the party members of the central congress-
"We have bravely considered the national question [tumultous applause], and after much time [indignation in the hall], we have decided that Ireland must deal with the changing circumstances of the twentieth century [enthusiastic comments from the hall], and thus we propose changing the nature of the problem. [short applause]. We have decided after a long and at a times painful [some laughter in the hall] internal process of debate and discussion to rename the national question as the partition of Ireland [shock from certain party members in the hall]. It is felt that at this 57th monthly congress of the workers solidarity movement of the twenty first century, it is past time that comrades refer to the national question and from now on we will only enter discussion on the "partition of Ireland". [tumultous applause]. Many reactionary elements who are still ranged against our glorious liberatarian revolution will continue to work daily against our project and we must be for ever on our guard [loud calls of support from the hall]. With this new departure in Irish politics, we may face the greatest issues of the twentieth century knowing we are the true inheritors of the eighteenth century revolutions.
[five minutes standing ovation from the hall]

********
This was a very difficult process for the WSM, I'm sure ;-)

author by suspicious.publication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 16:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

as a direct descendent of the 1798, 1776 and 1789 revolutions I am aghast that the WSM can move so rashly into the twentieth century by celebrating this crucial congress whilst the majority of party anarchists are still on holidays.

This smells of a coup!

author by ahforjesussakewakeuppublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 17:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As a matter of FACT most ulster scots are descendant from the gaelic irish anyway, ao they are more returned emigrants!!!Ever heard of Dal Riada?

another thing , how in gods good name could loyalism (a monarchist ideology)produce a left wing or socialist strand? A socialist monarchist?And how could any right minded rational person expect it to have done so? Unionism (an ideology based on maintaining the political union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland)on the other hand is not necessarily monarchist and could produce a left wing strand.

Loyalism and unionism are not the same thing any more than nationalism and republicanism are. In fact I could claim to be a republican unionist if I believed that the U.K should be a republic!!!

Finally, and thankfully the w.s.m does not represent all anarchists on this island and it's thinking should not be taken as Anarchist thinking, it's wsm thinking or even lack of thought!!

author by Raypublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 18:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The WSM paper doesn't argue that loyalism could produce a left-wing variant, nor does it describe ulster protestants as 'settlers'.
So I don't see what you're objecting to in the WSM paper?

author by Chekov - WSM - personal capa..publication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 18:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I can't actually make out what your disagreement with the WSM paper is. It actually explicitly says that loyalism has never developed any significant left wing strands and that there is no prospect of the protestant working class doing so while they remain tied to loyalism.

I'm also mystified by your point about unionism and loyalism - does this have something to do with the paper? Do you really think there is a significant chance of a left wing unionism emerging???

And thanks for pointing out that this is a WSM paper which does not speak for all anarchists, you'd never have guessed it from the title and entire content. Maybe you could outline your differences with the content and allow people to judge whether the thinking of other anarchists in Ireland shows less of a 'lack of thought'

author by xviii century mindpublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 19:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

our knowledge of the kingdom of Dal Riada comes from several sources-
An buile Suibhne
De Selby's Codex
my auntie.
An Buile Suibhne relates the final battle for control of Dal Riada, which had occupied most of the sixth century. The focus however is the collapse into madness of Suibhne and his trans-morphic life after the curse of a local saint who's witnesses he atacked breaking the early code of non agression between the sub-provincial monarchies of island of Ireland and it's dominions in the western isles of what would later become Scotland.
At no time was there a seat of the kingdom of Dal Riada on what would now be the Scottish mainland.

Anyways, if it takes several generations to go from being a planter to a sort of indiginous native type (if not quite autochthonous) where does that leave the third generation Jewish Isreali settlers?

Make no mistake, you are debating a XIX century question. The Act of Union (between Ireland and the UK) came into force in 1801.

And the UK can not be a republic, that would be a UR and as such would negotiate a re-enactment of the Act of Union between England and Scotland, as well as that small matter of my good mate the Stuart's claim to the Scottish throne. Which is based on the pictish line and not any connected to the "Dal Riada" dynasties. Of which there now remain only three "septs" of the Irish gaelic houses.
[all of whom still carry the gaga Suibhne gene]

author by Collopypublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 19:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The key to all knowledge!

author by Scáth Sheamaispublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 20:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What happened that the document failed to mention the Irish Republican Socialist Party? In their section on anti-agreement republicanism they mentioned RSF, CIRA, 32CSM, RIRA, and the INLA, but not the IRSP. Why?

I'm not a member or supporter of the IRSP, though I'm suppose I'm a fellow traveller considering I'm a socialist republican. Parts of the document appear as though they have been lifted from the IRSP - just change anarchist Ireland to socialist republic and hey presto!

Maybe there's also the possibility that the movement would throw the WSM's theories of republicanism being petit bourgeois straight out the window? The IRSP have made arguments like those above on a number of occassions previously. They've called for anti-imperialist broad fronts, not the type created by SF anyway. A number of Protestant working class activists have ended up in their ranks (including possibly most notably Ronnie Bunting, the son of an aide to Ian Paisley, who was later executed by the SAS).

author by Terry - Galway grassrootspublication date Tue Aug 17, 2004 21:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Probably 90% of us have a Viking ancestor."

Andrew any chance of a reference for that?

author by CÓBpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 01:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If I may be so bold as to ask, does the WSM have much of a presence within the working class communities, both Protestant and Catholic, of the six counties?

I'd be disappointed if it turned out that this policy document was from a group of middle-class lefties who decided how the workers could liberate themselves for them. That seems to be a trend within certain sections of the left. *cough* Trots *cough*

Anyway, I've heard the group has done some good work in Dublin ona number of issues so I hope the same can be said for Belfast, Derry et al.

author by ahforjesussakewakeuppublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 04:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The comment about the northern protestants being more returned emigrants was in response to franz fanons comment, not the wsm document. apologies if that confused you chekov.

author by Connolly's illegitimate son - IRSPpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 04:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Not anarchism's finest moment.

Stop holding yourselves up in some room and get involved in some actual struggle!

The WSM are based on the kideas of Makhno and Durruti. If I remember correctly, Makhno, whilst no nationalist, was pretty clear about where he stood on the issue of national liberation. He led a devestating guerilla war against the White Army.

The WSM are in danger of retreating to ideaological obscurity. Look at the hard facts: Brit imperialism is creating more divisions between laborers, there are 15,000 Brit soldiers in the six, etc.

Follow the example of the IRSP - unite the protestents and catholics and get down to class struggle and removing the murderous occupation.

author by leftypublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Checkov asks
"Do you really think there is a significant chance of a left wing unionism emerging???"

mmmm, dont the Socilist parties have some vauge notion of a socalist state, consisting of unified UK and Ireland. I know this is the case with the SSP and i'm sure i heard it mentioned here(in the south). It might not be significant, but its a chance they have seen, why dont the WSM. Maybe you mistake their unionism for internationalism, affording the socalists to much credit.

Just a thought - dont bite my head off

author by leftiepublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

just thought it was funny that the first comment by that republican replying to the anarchist document stated how fighting a colonial master meant you are objectively fighting global finance capital!!!!

1st, why then has the pira and its political wing used rival imperialisms to get its demands met. US/UK? playing them off against each other. while this tactic in itself is not bad the method of ingratiating sf with its american paymasters is nauseating. witness what one sf member told me "we can't mention socialism cause then americans would be frightened off" to paraphrase and bastardise what he said but yu get the gist of what he meant. or shaking Bush's hand.

lets face it alot of reasons why people support republicans is from this idea that the violence of the oppressed is more justifiable than the oppressors. an abstract principle that does nothing for the unity or solution of any national conflict.

author by Peadar O'Donnellpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I can't understand why leftie has defined as "abstract" the most fundamental concept that the violence of the oppressed is more justifiable than that of their oppressors.

If this were so, then the Cuban Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Vietnamese resistance, the Irish revolution (all of which your US bankrolled republicans brazenly support, and rightly so), would not be the shining examples of people power that they are. However, for the conceited, bourgeois, champagne socialist, it might all seem somehow "abstract", something to be theorised about within the much firmer world of Trinity College Library.

May I take issue also with the above posting's referral to the Northern conflict as "based on religious divisions". These religious divisions, it must be remembered, we carefully fostered by imperialism, on which the conflict is really based.

author by docpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 11:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Leftie, a chara,

Your point about SF being bought off by US interests in return for their supporting the cause of national reunification - is one I hear often.

The main thing is that any national liberation struggle has to prioritise achieving full national self-determination as without that effective moves towards equality (i.e. socialism) will always be undermined. That's not to say we need to abandon any commitment to social justice (or socialism) in the short-term. What's really important is building the popular demand for social justice - just look at what Chavez is doing in Venezuela.

How many times have I been quized by those who just don't see any revolutionary situation around the corner. Put a long-headed revolutionary party into even a proportion of power and you will see a gradual radicalisation of the population. That is the pre-requisite for a revolutionary period now.

This is the whole problem with anarchists and many Trotskyists - they somehow expect to see a spontaneous revolution. Instead, it would be worth far more to read how Mao and the CCP over a period of almost thirty years liberated the largest nation in the world first from Japanese imperialism and then from capitalist domination. In short, what is required is an absolute mastery of the theory of dialectics and its application to concrete struggle. I'm no maoist but I do recognise the genius of writings such as 'On Contradiction'.

A correct understanding of dialectics will leave the practitioner with no problems about soliciting the support of the US in terminating British imperialist occupation of our country. Just as Mao's tactics of asking for US/British support in eliminating the Japanese occupation was fine. Didn't Lenin accept help from the Germans? Playing one imperialist off against the other is quite normal. The strange thing is the dependent relationship between British and US capital and the implications that this has for pushing forward to Irish self-determination.

One point of clarification. When I used settler as a term to identify the Unionist population - its mainly reflective of the realities of a population which maintain absolute separation from the Nationalist (Irish) people. They consider themselves a people apart. They retain a settler mentality 'what we have we hold' and if the self-appointed leftist prophets only understood the continued depth of the mainstream 'Unionist' political culture of domination it would probably change discussion. I will give an example: the Orange order and its core 'committees' are currently very busy buying up Protestant land and investments to prevent them from falling into Catholic hands - they have a trust fund to support this activity.

Personally, I would be only too glad to welcome a unionist as a fellow Irish man or woman but there is undoubtedly a hugely dominant unionist hegemony built on the ideology of the settler. We must proactively undercut this hegemony through assaulting the pillars of the sectarian six county statelet: the sectarian orange order, the Unionist party, the RUC, the UDR, the loyalists , the British militarisation and economic inequality. Does anyone see which party is doing this? The WSM treatise falls far short of such a deep analysis.

Le meas,
DoC

author by From The Ashes of 69 - Republican Movementpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What clown wrote this? It has many good points but a lot of it is speculation based on an obvious lack of insight into the realities of the situation in the 6 counties. One example is the Daily Mailesque statement that punishment beatings are only administered because the forces of Republicanism wish to control their "fiefdoms" so to speak. The equally ridiculous claim that they have no mandate to take these actions also does not hold water owing to the fact groups such as the IRA and INLA are approached from their concerned working class communities, perhaps the WSM cadres would like to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in Ireland themselves since they seem to have such lofty ideals on the subject.

The pompous assertion that Republican is a "petit-bourgeoisie" ideology is also lacking in any sort of credibility. This article brazenly states Republicanism seeks to unite Irish "bosses and workers" against English "bosses and workers", maybe they might want to read the ideas of Connolly before attempting to patronise the men and women who actually stepped out to combat the imperialism they deride, and to protect the working class they speak so loftily about. Republicanism has always been a working class ideology, which is more that can besaid for the Irish Anarchist scene. Never have I read such condescing bullshit.

author by Peadar O'Donnellpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fair play to Dónall for his insightful comments - a dialectical and long-headed approach is indeed needed, an understanding of the reality of struggle in such a globalised Westernised nation such as ours.

author by Andrewpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 13:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Terry
The probably in "Probably 90% of us have a Viking ancestor" was meant to indicate this was a wild guess. Having googled it its probably way too high. It was more to point out the sillyness of labelling any group 'settlers' when they are comprised of people who have been here hundreds of years, (along with people whose ancestors converted and people who married or breed in.) Also of course the so called 'non-settler' population was also heavily married into (particularly in the south in the last 100 years).

Labelling protestants as settlers amounts to saying that to be Irish one has to be catholic. This is the politics of the far right rather than the left or even any sort of real republican movement. I don't think even the likes of RSF or C32 have this sort of position although years back Saoirse did publish a rather odd article on protestants that among other things suggested you could spot them by their distinctive physical characteristics!

Scáth Sheamais
The IRSP are not mentioned because no one considered them worth a mention. While this may be an oversight that could be corrected in the future if someone submits an amendment I'd be interested in what you think could be said about their current rather than historic existance? They certainly were an interesting departure in 1970's republicanism but not one I'd see offering any sort of alternative model today.

CÓB
Unfortuantely we are a very small organistion with branches in Dublin and Cork but nothing as yet in the north. This is of course a disadvantage when debating a document like this, it is the work of outsiders. However as I explain above we have had many discussions with anarchists in the north both in person over the years with Organise! and online on Irish anarchism. And over the years our members have taken part in a wide variety of political activities in the north. But we are not claiming 'on the ground' expertise.

Connolly's illegitimate son
I'm not sure how you think that the IRSP 'unite the protestents and catholics'. In general I'd have thought that whatever the theoretical intentions to do so the actual practise of the Irps has tended to do the opposite. But examples that show otherwise would be useful.

At the time of Makhno the nationalists in fact controlled the eastern ukraine and the makhnovists ended up not only fighting them but years later in Paris Makhno almost certainly had some involvement in the assassination of Pertula, the nationalist leader. The nationalists had committed a number of anti-semetic pograms and in 1926 Makhno and another (jewish) Makhnovista were in a Paris cafe when they spotted Pertula. The other guy assassinated him shortly after this. But the Ukraine has not many parallels with the Irish situation so its not a great analogy anyway.

lefty
Your reply to Chekov doesn't make much sense as he was pouring cold water on the idea of a left wing unionism whereas you seem to think he was advocating it. I'm not aware of the SSP position and it didn't come up in any of the debates.

The issue of the PUP, a loyalist party that sees itself as social democratic is a lot more complex. On the one hand there is no way you can take such a claim seriously alongside the fact that stand over the history of the UVF. On the other they are not the first manifestation of loyalism that has looked to the left as a way of escaping the 'fur coat brigade' of unionism (the Independant Orange Order would be another example of the odd attempt to fuse sectarianism with social democray some 100 years ago). The challenge for the left is how to best exploit the contradictions that inevitably arise in such cases. Despite the rhetoric Sinn Fein, the SWP and less surprisingly the SP have all shared platforms with the PUP.

Overall I think the most interesting thing about these commments is that limited view so many of them reflect of protestant workers. Protestant workers are hardly one undifferentiated mass of Rangers supporting, UDA loving guys with Orange sashs and bowler hats. As long as the left addresses them as if they were then very little progress can be made on the issue of workers unity.

Many protestant workers think the Orange Order are idiots and that loyalist paramilitaries are murderous gangsters. But if the question is phrased as 'your community' V 'our community' many end up getting driven back into the arms of both. It's a problem with an approach this is simply based on forcing people to 'choose sides' between a catholic nationalism and a protestant unionism.

author by socialist republicanpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 14:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

IMO getting your position no the issue of partition is the most difficult work to do in Ireland. I welcome the opportunity to read the contribution of the WSM and congradulate on their openness in reproducing the outcome of their conference on the subject. However, I feel the document probably needs some footnotes etc.

On my initial reading I would make the following contribution in solidarity-

point 7
Fails to mention the role of the "Free Staters" in the partition of Ireland.


Point 8
refers to the "peaceful civil rights movement" It should, IMO, highlight the factt that both communities were involved in the NICRA.
The point should also be made that in the 1974, powersharing was also opposed strongly by republicans.

Point 10 and 11
I consider the movement of both elements of loyalism and nationalism towards socialism to be progressive. If they are serious, they will highlight the contradictions of both nationalism/loyalism and socialism and could allow for the imperialist created divides to be broken between both 'communities'.

The decision to drop the slogan for a workers republic is opportunistic. The slogan for an anarchist Ireland is exclusive.

Point 12
Armed struggle. What about self defence. Surely the WSM recognise the right of communities to defend themselves from progroms?

Point 16
Fails to recognise that it was possible to be a Loyalist and support the civil rights movement. If I recall correctly, the NILP supported the civil rights movement but never supported a united Ireland. Some protestants involved in the Civil Rights movement were there because they wanted catholics to be treated equally - as the would be treated on the 'mainland'.

Point 17
I think the WSM are viewing the issue of punishment beatings and policing in 'nationalist' areas without outlining any alternative. How do you protect the vunerable in our communities when you have a police force that is mistrusted and that you could be vilified for 'collaberating' with? Remember this isn't an anarchist or socialist Ireland. Its a capitalist society with all the social problems that come with it. You fail to mention the emergance of Restorative Justice as an attempt to move away from appauling 'punishment beatings' that are largely only given to working class people. I realise that RS mostly involves paramilitaries but it has the potential to be a possible alternative to formal policing, insofar as it allows grassroots responses to crime in their communities.

Point 18
Should be broader. What was the role of monopoly capitalism in the agreement? What about neo liberalism? IMO, there are economic reasons for the 'historic breakthrough' that warrent analysis.

Point 19
The good friday agreement was 'sold' to people as a simple either or. If you voted yes you were for peace if you voted no you were for terror. Naturally, the vast majority of people voted Yes.

Point 21
The potential for a mass movement did not exist in the 1981 hunger strikes, unless WSM is only interested in building a mass movement in one of the two 'communal identies'.

Short term perspectives.
Point 1
Equally, you should remember where SF have come from.

I repeat these comments are given in solidarity. I welcome the fact that anarchists are discussing the issue of partition and are reviewing their positions. I would be helpful if more left groups did the same and didn't just 'trot' out the same old same old.

author by Moonwolf The "settler" prod!!!publication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 14:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So being a Roman Catholic and giving support to a cartel of old men in rome as they preside ( in total secrecy) over their empire of worldwide capital whilst discriminating against women and traditionally supporting right wing dictators, while opposing the right of peoples (including the Irish) to struggle against Imperialism makes you good material to be a socialist, anarchist now , does it?

Thank God i'm a prod!

Ah, but then again Mr. Republican am I a "Settler" prod or a "native" prod?
Well let me see? according to the oldest extant manuscripts my family are Ulster Irish going back at least 900 years, my Great grandfather won an All Ireland Football winners medal(yeah, he was a prod too!!!) and numerous relatives fought with the REAL I.R.A in the war of Independence.

Do you people know what the word "republican" means?

author by Chekov - WSM - personal capacitypublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 15:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

First off thanks for taking the time to read the document and formulate intelligent responses. A nice change from the schoolyard name-calling that seems to pass for debate among most of the 'republicans' on the site. To address some of your points.

I should start by saying that our position papers are not meant to be exhaustative expositions of our thinking on the subject. They represent an agreed basis for the common work of the organisation. In some areas we have either not enough knowledge or do not have a sufficent level of internal agreement to include the area in the position paper. Anyway, on to your particular points:

7. This point is probably a bit crude. The essence of the point is that partition was in the interest of both Northern industrialists and the emergant Southern ruling class. It could probably go into a bit more detail about the nature of this pro-partitionist class in the South - which I think is probably better described as a ruling class emerging from the petit-bourgeious than a bourgeois class per se.

8. Good point. Do you have any sources for the level of involvement of protestants/unionists in the NICRA?

10 & 11 - I think we broadly agree with your position with regards to our attitude towards leftist strands on both 'sides'. With relation to the left strands coming from loyalism, we explicitly say this in the short term perspectives section.

However, I think that using the phrase anarchist ireland as against workers republic is actually far less opportunistic. The type of social order that we advocate is not commonly associated with a 'republic' and the new phrase is simply more accurate and precise. To some extent the old phrase was sub-consciously aimed at opportunistically appealling to disenchanted republicans.

12. Agreed. That is something that we could usefully cover in the paper.

16. Interesting point. Again, this is something that would be worth discussing.

17. Although it is not covered in the position paper, we have examined the issue of CRJ at length in our theoretical magazine, Red and black revolution: see the article at: http://www.struggle.ws/rbr/rbr6/crime.html

18. Although, I agree with your point, the influence of neo-liberalism and international capital is very hard to quantify in such a way that it can be written into a position paper. One of the major focuses of our internal debate has revolved around the motives of the British ruling class with regard to the north in the context of neo-liberalism and european integration. It is easy enough to identify these factors, it is very difficult to quantify their importance and their relative weight compared to the residual imperialism in London.

19. Agreed, I think that we make roughly this point in the preceding point.

21. This was one of the hottest debated points of the discussion. It was retained on a tied vote. There is ongoing debate about this issue within the organisation.

I hope that this helps to clarify our thinking to some extent. Once again thanks for the thoughtful comments.

author by Andrewpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 15:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

socialist republican
Thanks for these comments. It should be understood that these position papers are mostly intended as internal documents which define to our own membership what our collective position is on the issues covered. As such the format is rather clumsy for public consumption and there are many points that are simply stated rather than being explained.

They are also not set in stone. As I outline above they can be amended at any conference and in fact some like this one are likely to be returned to again and again. BTW the URL for this discussion has been circulated on our internal discussion list so probably most if not all WSM members will have a look at it and some of these points may result in future amendments.

It is also worth saying that the paper itself is the definition of our collectivly agreed policy. While myself and other members can further define what we think a point means this will be a personal opinion that others might disagree with. So a few more personal responses

1. The workers republic
The problem is that what this slogan historically has a meaning that no one outside the ranks of the far left understands by it today. I'd stand over its historic meaning but using it as shorthand today (which is what slogans are) is worse than useless as many people are liable to take the opposite meaning from what it intended. It is now seen as a Sinn Fein slogan rather than a slogan that says there is a need to go beyond the politics of SF.

A second problem is what exactly is meant by republic? Some anarchists have the (mistaken) belief that republic always implies the existance of a state. Getting into a lot of annoying arguments about this would be worthwhile if the slogan actually had a useful modern meaning but as above it does not.

'anarchist Ireland' is exclusionary but then again was there ever really any room for unity between all the forces that used the 'workers republic' slogan. These included not only Sinn Fein but also the Communist Party, Workers Party, IRSP, SWP and up to around 1974 the Militant (now SP). Is it useful to pretend that these forces are fighting for the same thing or is it better to honestly state what you are fighting for.

2. self defence
The issue of 'self defence' is something that we have yet to formulate something coherant around. One problem is that all the armed groups including the UDA and UVF see themselves at root as being about 'self defence'. This comes across very clearly in loyalist biographies, indeed its fascinating to see how they portray the attempted pograms of the early 70's in particular. I cite them because its probably easy to agree that ''self defence'' is that case is simply a cover for sectarianism.

But on the republican side ''self defence'' has also been used as a cover for sectarianism, often by pretending to be some other armed outfit eg 'Catholic Reaction Force'. And you have the manipulation of genuine defence needs in order to score political points and recruit through creating sectarian tension. Certainly there are many who feel there was a bit of this going on in Ardoyne with dissident republicans stirring the shit to put the Shinners in a hot spot. Whether or not this is true it does illustrate the problem of summing up 'self defence' in a paragraph.

Where the left has tried to deal with the legtimate requirement for self defence with the on the ground reality of what this becomes you tend to end up with silly sounding calls for workers militia that are comprised of workers from both communities. That in fact, despite its air of utopia, would be my preference.

The reality is that where people feel they are under seige they will take steps to defend themselves and the various political forces will involve themselves in and perhaps manipulate this. This is as true of the loyalists as the nationalists. Organised sectarian attacks may be 95% from the loyalist side but there are enough nationalist inspired clashes for loyalists in the Fountain, Tigers Bay and elsewhere to create their own mythology of 'self - defence'.

I suspect there will be no useful anarchist formulation of how to deal with this until the point that anarchists are a real force on the ground in the areas where such clashes happen. We are not organised in the north and our comrades in Organise! would I think be the first to admit that they so far lack the presence to have any real impact on the situation. No form of wording will change that reality.

3. 'punishment beatings'
The issue of community responses to crime would require a paper of itself I think. However if we wouldn't accept the PSNI or the Gardai kneecapping 14 year old hodlums why should we remain silent when paramilitaries do the same? The issue of dealing with rather than analysing crime is an area of weakness in anarchist (and much far-left) theory and the next issue of Workers Solidarity looks at it. I do indeed think there is much to learn from the Community Restorative Justice concept. A collection of WSM writings on crime many of which focus on community responses can be found at http://struggle.ws/wsm/crime.html

4. Point 21 is one of a number we intend to return to at our next conference.

Thansk for the comments, there is a lot more to be explored in the ones I haven't replied to here.

author by Andrewpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 16:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

doc
Citing Mao would be more convincing if China were not now the prison labour capital of the world. This is the general problem with Leninism, the illusion of success because the party manages to seize power followed by the reality of yesterdays revolutionaries becoming todays imposers of austerity.

Earlier I referred to a lot of far left analysis being stuck in the 80's. In that light you might want to re-consider or at least update your call to abolish 'the RUC, the UDR'.

Beyond that 'settler' remains a useless political term in the Irish context. It carries very, very obvious implications of removal of the settlers as a way forward. Which is of course what the likes of the DUP and UDA like to claim is the real aim of the Republican Movement. Using language that seems to confirm this is about as dumb as you can get. (And some of the contributions here do seem to have such a removal as the real program, I'm surprised none of the actual republicans posting here haven't objected to these).

The Ashes of 69
Convincing yourself that those who disagree with you must be "middle-class misfits" or "clowns" might seem like a reply to you but to others it just comes across as "condescing bullshit". Given that every faction of the Irish left is endlessly denouncing every other faction as 'middle-class' its a particularly boring slag. In reality all left organisations including Sinn Fein have and welcome 'middle class' members and there is nothing more patheic then watching their student members class bait each other.

As to your actual points.
"fiefdoms" is of course your word, not ours. But I think many republicans would admit in private that a major reason for punishment beatings is that they are a safety valve which prevents desperate people otherwise involving the PSNI. Why republicans needed to exclude the RUC in a war situation is obvious enough, right now it seems to simply be a political question over the exact form that policing takes in the north.

The question of mandate is also important. Yes punishment beatings are popular with some in the community but this is not a mandate. A mandate would exist if the community was able to exercise direct control over those who police it. Right now they have a choice between a secret army answerable only to itself or a public army answerable only to the British state. Both claim a mandate, neither has one. Both have to pay some attention to 'public opinion' and this sets limits on their actions but its not a mandate.

Connolly was one republican but he was also a socialist and a syndicalist. The historical roots of Irish republicanism as with everywhere else is in the 'petit-bourgeoisie', the leaders of the United Irishmen were not as a rule peasants and artisans. There is nothing shameful in this, its also true of the early left including some of the first anarchists.

Within the early republican movement different people fought for different sorts of republic. Even in 1798 these differences came to the surface and damaged the rebellion leading to Henry Joys observation that 'the rich will always betray the poor'. The 'republic' that many of the rank and file went out and fought for in 1916 was very different from the republic established in the years after that.

The same is true for Sinn Fein today, a party that can include not only workers but also low pay bosses. A party that through its success finds itself in the business of managing capitalism in the areas of health and education in the north or by voting in bin taxes in Sligo. Of course party activists can defend this on the grounds of pragmatism and in the north the need to maintain the Good Friday agreement. And in 'petit-bourgeoisie' terms this argument and the logic behind it is quite correct, I don't see SF as a 'sell out' more as fulfilling what was always its destiny.

Connolly understood this contradiction when he wrote "But the evicting party, under command of the sheriff, will wear green uniforms and the Harp without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the roadside will be stamped with the arms of the Irish Republic. Now, isn't that worth fighting for?"

author by William Butler Yeats - XIX century minds for XIX century questions.publication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 19:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering man:
'Ireland shall get her freedom and you still break stone.'
***

author by From The Ashes of 69 - Republican Movementpublication date Wed Aug 18, 2004 20:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indeed much of Sinn Féin's policies do stem from a nedd for pragmatism. It is unfair to write off Martin McGuinness for "managing capitalism" due to his use of PPPs during his health minstery. He was forced to choose between using these or else having no schools at all, the PPPs were accpeted in the short term while Sinn Féin sought to create the type of society for which we strive.

Regards bin taxes in Sligo, that was as a result of one party activist's misdemeanours, all organisations get loose sheep from time to time.

Regards punishment actions, in working class areas within the 6 counties it is not "many" people who support these actions, the better words to use would be "nearly all". I too would like to see a community based, grassroots policing service set apart from the state but unfortunately that is not a viable possibility, only the IRA and INLA have the organisational capability to resist RUC/PSNI attempts to stop anti-crime activities and as such are the only people in a position to undertake these operations. It is also not a case of working class people being caught between a rock and a hard place, choose one bad lot over another (ie IRA or RUC/PSNI), remember that Republicans have absolute support within their communities and are approached into taking these actions, as opposed to the RUC who are despised with a passion and are unacceptable in all their forms.

author by Connolly's Son - IRSPpublication date Thu Aug 19, 2004 07:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Andrew wrote:
"I'm not sure how you think that the IRSP 'unite the protestents and catholics'. In general I'd have thought that whatever the theoretical intentions to do so the actual practise of the Irps has tended to do the opposite. But examples that show otherwise would be useful."

I didn't mean to say the IRSP had already succeeded in uniting the workers of the six, but the irps contain a higher percentage of protestants than SF or any Socialist movement I am aware of, including martyrs of protestant background. We have some members who are protestant trade-unionists but are quiet about their membership - they fear for their safety from the Loyalists thugs.

The IRSM will not ignore the issue of British imperialism in Ireland and we also extend our solidarity to the protestant working class. Loyalism must be combatted as they are parasites on their own community as well as the self-proclaimed enemies of the catholic section of the working class.

Loyalism is an artificial ideaology cultivated by the Brits to divide the workers. The "two communities" actually share the same Gaelic heritage. Even if they didn't, of course, we have the same class interest and the interests of our class can't be resolved by imperialism.


Makhno advocated a Ukraine that was independent from Russia, so I think there are some parallels. Material conditions in Ireland today and the Ukraine then are obviously very different and didn't mean to portray otherwise, but Makhno's choice of the words "Ukraine" was very different than that of the Bolsheviks who did not conceive of "their province" as a seperate country.

The Ukrainian nationalists are and remain untrustworthy, and as you mentioned, anti-semetic parasites.

author by leftiepublication date Thu Aug 19, 2004 10:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

peadar, doc the principle of the violence of the oppressed being more just than the violence of the oppressor is because it takes no account of the concrete problems or divisions the violence of the oppressed or the oppressor will be doing to the cause of maximum unity of the working class.

now of course i condemn the subjugation of the palestinian people and indeed the right or republicans to want self-determination for the people of ireland. but, what does the principle outlined at the beginning of my contribution really mean when applied to the above situations?

that you support the armed struggle of republicans in ireland and suicide bombings in israel. when examining the national question the reality and not the abstract principle must be taken into account. it is not intent and motivation that count in war, but the effect that ultimately matter.

suicide bombings and the armed struggle both do and have drive 'settler' working classes behind their capitalist class and make a solution even more difficult to find. socialists are against nationalism, nationalism in the bigoted and disgusting guise of the uvf or the inla is a sore that must be eradicated from the body politic and only a socialist ireland will achieve that.

my point about palying off uk/usa imperialism was just that it wasn't an idea or tactic you could rule out, its just sf uses it as an excuse for not mentioning socialism! how revolutionary is that, did lenin gag himself back in russia because of the germans and the sealed train! hardly!

author by socialist republicanpublication date Thu Aug 19, 2004 13:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

extract from;
"WE SHALL OVERCOME" ....
The History of the Struggle for Civil Rights
in Northern Ireland 1968-1978

The Northern Committee of the Irish Congress of Trades Union, on two separate occasions, along with the Northern Ireland Labour Party, went on deputations to see Captain O'Neill. Their demands for One Man One Vote and repeal of the Special Powers Act were ignored, and 4 Belfast-based Stormont seats were not sufficient leverage for the NILP, then a political force, to obtain movement on the civil rights front.
In May 1965 the Trades Council organised a conference on civil liberties in the lecture room o the Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union headquarters in Belfast and several trade union leaders spoke of their concern over the failure of the Government to implement basic democratic guarantees in Northern Ireland.

The trade unionists, mainly Protestants, had a ready audience in the members of the Campaign for Social Justice, the Communist Party, the Republicans and the Northern Ireland Labour Party, all of which sent representatives. For sectarian discrimination to be condemned by the union representatives of Belfast's Protestant working class was a big step, even in the enlightened sixties. Slowly the diverse strands of political thought were coming together. The need for reform had been documented and publicised, but it was a problem, which needed more than recognition - it needed action.

Related Link: http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/
author by Peadar O'Dpublication date Thu Aug 19, 2004 13:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Supporting the concept of armed struggle in limited circumstances is not tantamount to uncritically accepting the armed struggle of every reactionary worldwide, nor is it an indication of one's desire to split the international proletariat along national lines.

I use the word proletariat, because that includes the progressive revolutionary forces of the working class AND those, like Che Guevara or Friedrich Engels, that support them. For this, and more complex reasons, the Trotskyist line is far too simplistic. In reality, the Israeli working classes align themselves with their bourgeois oppressors, as do many working class loyalists (with noted exceptions, like Billy Hutchinson or maybe Moonwoolf above), through the pernicious social "gel" that is the Orange order. These people, though working class, have abandoned the progressive forces of the proletariate. Indeed, they are anathema to them - they organise racist attacks, discriminate against the Catholic working class in workplaces, support all the feudal monotony of Orangeism and monarchialism, and decry calls for Civil Rights.

To use armed struggle against the British government was not only theoretically justifiable, but shown to work in practice - take the example of Moonwoolf's ancestors and many of ours forcing the British to disengage from part of the island in the twenties, or the modern IRA forcing a recalcitrant British government back to the talks table with hugely successful bombing after the first ceasefire. It was the possible refusal of insurance companies to operate in London that was the bulwark behind the years of the peace process, and not some new-found British principle of negotiating with its colonial foes. Armed struggle can never be a principle - but a tactic, as part of a coherent strategy - yes.

It was indeed Marx who said that the rebellion of the Irish proletariat against imperialism which would not only raise a beacon of dicontent for other colonial proletarians to follow, but which would allow the English proletariat to turn the spotlight onto domestic affairs. An English revolution, he said, would be rendered far more conceivable, should the Irish conduct an anti-imperial one first.

author by cueballpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 05:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

mr curious said:
>still seems to cling to a few old
>nonsensical bugbears such as the notion
>that armed struggle is elitist. Surely not the
>same people who ridicule such claims
>about direct action?

This is drivel, and armed struggle is not in itself elitist. As I'm sure most anarchists would agree the point was not criticize armed struggle as a concept but the context in which it occurs. The IRA has no mandate from the people, it makes it decisions without consultations of the community it claims to represent, its because of this that its elitist, not because it has guns.

Also as a further point anarchists aren't above condemning direct action. We might support it as a concept but that doesn't mean we support each and every instance, it depends on the context of the action, what its trying to achieve and what effect it has on other people. So while I might support direct action with arms against soldiers coming into your community if its part of a viable strategy or immediate self defense but bombing people in london, kneecapping teenagers, and shooting randomly into bars, is hardly a direct action an anarchist (or any socialist) would support as it kills innocent people when that can be avoided by using many other tactic.

author by hairballpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 09:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Hallo. Just calling here from the IRA. We're doing a phone around of the people to see who you think we should shoot. Don't want to be elitist now. Anyway thank you for your time and, eh, you won't call the cops now ?"

author by hairballpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 10:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Since when did socialists give a fuck about killing innocent people?

author by da peoplepublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 12:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To my recollection, SF has got 350,000 votes on this island and is the third largest party. We may assume that these people support the IRA. Exactly who voted for the last commentators? Maybe, according to their own analysis, they should desist from all activities until they can get a petition from "the people" or something?

author by Fergalpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 12:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If your going to take the island as a whole, then the two unionists parties between them would be in third place behind FF and FG.Or don't they count?

author by Andrewpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 14:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

First off its good to see the serious tone of many of the replies showing that people will play the ball rather than the man on indymedia.

From The Ashes of 69
I'm not so much writing off Martin McGuinness for managing capitalism as simply pointing out that this is what the SF pragmatic approach means. It's very much a product of SF's electoral success and is something that would face any other party making a significant electoral breakthough.

Like wise with Sligo (which I think you have confused with the Tallaght SF/Mark Daly saga). In Sligo SF as a group voted in the bin tax because they have enough councillors there to influence decisions made and doing so give them the Mayorship. Another pragmatic decision that is stood over by the party.

Every left party in Ireland that has achieved significant electoral success has trodden down the road of pragmatism. Always with the same arguments that if they do not do so then the right will be able to impose nastier cuts. Referring to this as 'managing capitalism' seems quite accurate to me even if the intention is to manage it so it becomes a kinder gentler capitalism.

On the punishment beatings its not the case that "Republicans have absolute support within their communities", the election results clearly demonstrate that other parties (SDLP/Alliance etc) attract significant numbers of vote even under first past the post. Indeed your phrasing illustrates the major problem here. Far from the community being able to control the parties the parties claim ownership of what you call "their communities". Punishment beatings are turned on and off by the secret decisions of a secret army council. They may be popular with many in the community but again popularity is not a mandate which to my mind has to include 'control over'.

Connolly's Son
I don't think there is any point in debating a theoretical IRSP in relation to workers unity in the north. Nor do I think that your guess that the IRSP might have more protestant members than anyone else on the left is either accurate or relevant. We both know that its very unlikely any signifcant number of northern protestants will ever perceive the Irps as anything more than another sectarian gang. The historical reasons for this (including Darkley) are too deep to be overcome.

Perhaps if time could be turned back to 1976 and the Irp experiment rerun in a different way things could have turned out differently. But your at the end of a long road with many bends and in terms of workers unity as the old saying goes 'if I was going there I wouldn't start from here'.

hairball
You may not be able to conceive of an armed organisation that is directly answerable to the people it claims to be fighting for but in fact such formations were not unusual in history. And at least one (the EZLN) exists today. That you find the concept something to sneer about speaks volumes but also confirms the original criticism.

And in terms of innocent people you might like to bear in mind that this is an anarchist rather then a leninist document and the ethics of nearly all anarchists on this point are very different from leninism. We are not really 'the ends justify the means' types.

da people
Presuming you not simply hairball posting under a different name your sneering at the concept of mandate shares the same problems as his and reveals the same flaws. I think most SFers would at least in private admit that the 350.000 who vote for them DID NOT vote for the IRA. Mary Lou certainly did not run on 'a vote for me is a vote for the IRA' platform even if the PDs tried to pin this on her.

The SF vote is perhaps a vote for the silence of the IRA and again this would be understood by most SF activists. When the war was on IRA actions before elections tended to result in major drops in what was then a much smaller vote.

Maybe you could claim the SF vote as one for the current IRA strategy (of sitting on their hands). I think SF would also see it as a positive vote for what people see as SF policy.

Related Link: http://struggle.ws/wsm
author by Third stillpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 15:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

as unionist-nationalist then the nationalist parties would be the biggest. So what. stupid point!!!

Sinn Féin are still the fastest growing party on the island and the point was that they have a significant mandate that leaves the parties of some indymedia contributors in the doldroms

author by Cynicpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 15:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Sinn Féin are still the fastest growing party on the island and the point was that they have a significant mandate that leaves the parties of some indymedia contributors in the doldroms."

Blah, blah. As the people of Rathenraw are finding out - the growth of a party doesn't necessarily mean anything positive.
After all the growth of SF is probably akin to the growth of FF after it dropped its abstentionsim.

author by DoCpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 17:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just getting back to your three comments to me.

>Citing Mao would be more convincing if China were not now the prison labour capital of the world. This is the general problem with Leninism, the illusion of success because the party manages to seize power followed by the reality of yesterdays revolutionaries becoming todays imposers of austerity.

First, I stated I didn't want categorisation as a maoist - despite my immense respect for his writings and achievements. I guess if I read Bakunin then I'd admit some good ideas from him too. As for China being a prison labour capital - doesn't this smack of white-chauvinism. Why don't you criticise the USA which runs its very own prison slavery system too (with the exception that its got the additional factor of racial discrimination). This is typical Stalin-bashing chauvinism. You want to have a nice 'safe' revolution without any problems, you can't associated with a domestic revolution - let alone Lenin, Stalin, Mao or whoever, Hoxha? :) and you choose either Trotskyism or Anarchism as they're relatively safe and should they ever manage to seize power and have to kill people or the like you can denounce them as traitors too!

Stalin once characterised Trotskyism as a petit-bourgeois tendency. I'm not so sure he was entirely right in the Soviet Union at the time, but in the west it is undeniable. Anarchism is entirely similar in my view. None of this, btw, is to attack your ideology. There are some useful things arising from anarchist analysis, imo, e.g. the limitations of blueprints being foisted on people as a utopia.

You say that Leninist revolutionaries have imposed austerity. Well that's only partially true. Anyone could tell you that life under communism was better for the people than life under capitalism is today for the Russians, etc. Just look at any statistic - men in Russia live 12 years less than they did under Breznev. And I'm not a stalinist either. Secondly, what might appear as austerity to a middle-class radical in the west is not necessarily such from the perspective of the majority of the world's population. Third, most of the revolutions which did occur happened in massively under-developed countries which were getting themselves out of an imperialist relationship (or else conditions of mass starvation). That posed a serious problem: how to resource the process of industrialisation (let alone pay for arms usually associated with attendent civil wars). That process required rates of investment from the agricultural sector of typically 20% of GDP per annum (c.f. the Soviet Union in the 20s/30s) - imagine that in the West? Now do we understand why there was such austerity? There are no easy answers sometimes. What would the social revolutionaries done? I guess something similar to that proposed by Bukharin - gradualism. That would have left Russia trailing dependently for years and would have led to the rise of internal class divisions. (Bukharin suggested growth based on meeting the peasant demand rather than pushing for massive industrialisation). Aside from that the Nazis would have wiped out the whole Soviet union (without any industrial capacity) and we'd be all good nazis today!

> Earlier I referred to a lot of far left analysis being stuck in the 80's. In that light you might want to re-consider or at least update your call to abolish 'the RUC, the UDR'.

Whether they're the RUC or PSNI or the UDR (B-specials) or RIR they are the same people and represent the same social forces of reaction. As for the 80s allegation. I prefer the period from Marx to Gramsci and then the 1960s - particularly the period of decolonisation and pan-Africanism.

> Beyond that 'settler' remains a useless political term in the Irish context. It carries very, very obvious implications of removal of the settlers as a way forward.

You are making a straw man argument. You are infering something. I'm not implying it. In any case, I use the term because I feel it does a very useful thing. It correctly manifests the relationship of colonialism in the north. Why do I say this? First, the problem with much of the ultraleft in Britain (and usually their surrogates in Dublin) is that they have a big, big problem recognising their own imperialism but not that of the USA or France or whatever (a tendency known as social-imperialism and which characterised the second international towards the end of its lifetime). The impact of that is the inability of groups such as the CWI or SPI (when they were the Militant ) to demand an end to the British adventure in the Malvinas. Equally, it leads them to seek a community-based approach to seeing the continued occupation of Ireland as something other than imperialism. This is not new of course, this tendency was around when Connolly and Lenin were alive and even when Marx was in England. I should have complemented the WSM statement for not being that bad anyhow. By using the term 'settler' I am forcing a recognition of the fundamental truth of colonialisation. I am not (of course) calling for their instant dispatch - nor would any Republican or decent Irish man/woman.

As for your suggestion that in using the term we are only confirming the analysis of unionists who claim SF want to push Protestants into the sea - well, I think you should look at its deeds rather than listen to the interpretations of the reactionaries. When SF collectively shudders at Alex Maskey laying a wreath to British war dead - then you can be sure they are seriously trying to reach out.

Le meas,
DoC

author by Anrewpublication date Fri Aug 20, 2004 17:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I didn't say you were a maoist but I've never been accused of 'Stalin-bashing chauvinism' before! You seem to have lapsed back into the throwing of insults, I'm accused of "white-chauvinism" (presumably I only have problems with Mao because he is 'yellow'!?!) and most hackyned of all "petit-bourgeois". Whatever.

The 5 year plans are a little off the radar for this topic so I'll just note that its amazing what can be achieved with a few million slave labourers to work to death. Quite why we should celebrate economic growth on that basis I'm not sure. And that when looking at the impact of so called 'capitalist restoration' on the former Eastern bloc you need to consider not only mafia ridden Russia but also the Czech republic, Poland and Hungary. When you do so it becomes clear that the problem is the particular strategies pursued by the old CP ruling class in hanging onto power. They all robbed the workers but the Russians did so in a particular brutal way resulting in something pretty close to primitive accumulation post '91. [BTW the introduction of 'democracy' in latin America in the 1980's was used in exactly the same way and also saw workers living standards plummet. But would you defend Pinochet on that basis?]

On the settler issue I'm not implying anything about what you mean by it. I'm making a very, very obvious point about how it is going to be read by others. Most talk of Settlers in the media for instance at the moment is in relation to Gaza and the political context is very much that of removal.

And don't try and mix up SF with the term you use. I've not heard Gerry refer to the protestants as settlers, this is a term you've chosen rather than one taken from SF material. Settler is simply a stupid term to use.

author by Peadar O'Donnellpublication date Sat Aug 21, 2004 11:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Andrew,

By your focus on the USSR and its (obvious) failures, and the inordinate focus attached to "state capitalism", as the SWP call it, in that entuty, what you fail to do is recognise the positive things about a failed communist system and play into the hands of reactionaries.

Yes, Russia was bad, corrupt, authoritarian, but at least 40,000 women and children per annum were not sold into sex slavery in the West as they are now. I remember a radio journalist talking at the time of the collapse of communism under Gorbachev of how people would now have more variety in their shops, where before they had little consumer products to choose from. This is all Russia has been given since - consumerism, more inequality, spiralling crime. It's been made more like the entities you should really be criticising - in the West.

This is why you are rightly accused of "white-chauvinism". Many Trots characteristically rant on about the failures of Russia, Cuba, China etc., etc., and will probably nit-pick about Chavez and Lula da Silva in South America in the coming years - you fail to recognise progress when you see it.

The word "settler" is rightly used to describe the Jews in Gaza, and the talk is quite rightly that of "removal". No pity should be spared for the zionist fundamentalists who, with the backing of the US's largest foreign military aid, are currently ring-fencing Arab's as though they were animals.

Like northern Protestants, theirs is a continued "siege" mentality, the psychosis that continues to make feudal battles in 1690 relevant, or that allows both Free Presbyterians and Israelis to refer to themselves as a "lost tribe". Paisleyities reject much of their Scottish heritage because it aligns them with the Irish, and reject the British Government, because it might align them with the Irish, and reject Sinn Féin, because it might align them with the devil. "Unsettled" or "unhinged", might I suggest, as a compromise term?

author by Badmanpublication date Sat Aug 21, 2004 16:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"but at least 40,000 women and children per annum were not sold into sex slavery in the West as they are now"

A hell of a lot more were sent to prison camps or simply killed. The regimes in China, Russia and elsewhere were the most monstrous tyrannies that humans have produced in centuries and anybody who thinks they were progressive in any way needs their head examined - either that or they hold the racist attitude that things like freedom aren't important to people outside the West.

author by Peadarpublication date Sat Aug 21, 2004 17:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Neither Russia nor China were the "most monstrous tyrannies" ever produced. Indeed, the most monstrous tyranny is the USA, which has killed millions, directly, through military action, by proxy through military action and vicariously through the economic policies of mass starvation and liberal capitalism. Never, I repeat,never has there been more global suffering and inequality than in this age of ours. Can't blame Stalin, Fidel or Mao for that, now, can we?

author by Badmanpublication date Sat Aug 21, 2004 18:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your rating of the tyrannies of China and Russia above that of the US as somehow better just stinks.

All are (or were) nakedly imperialist (Tibet, Afghanistan, Warsaw pact....). In pursuit of their imperialism, none had any reluctance to use brutality on any level - economic policies of starvation, straightforward warmongering, use of weapons of mass destruction etc. The only thing limiting the death toll of the imperialism of the totalitarian state systems of Russia et al was the fact that their power was limited. There is no reason to think that a world where the power of the USSR was as great as that of the US today would be any less brutal. In fact, their totalitarian control over information probably meant that their brutality would have been even more unchecked than that of the US today, if they were to have won the 'cold war'.

I mean, they were able to get away with blatantly murdering tens of millions of their own citizens - which is probably even beyond the abilities of the oligarchy who rule the US.

author by Andrewpublication date Sun Aug 22, 2004 15:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So anyonen who thinks there may have been problems with Stalin is now guilty of '"white-chauvinism"!?! Sounds like you having some real problems there 'Peadar' care to actually make an argument.

And as you missed the obvious I was referring to the settlers in Gaza because yes they are very obviously settlers, mostly there for less than one generation and there removal is certainly a legtimate demand. Even Sharon seems to recognise this!

Rather different from Irish protestants who along with the rest of the population have been here for generations and are no more settlers that some geezer whose blond hair suggests a possible viking origin.

BTW the real Peadar O'Donnell while a member of the IRA and an organiser for the ITGWU was willing to march behind a band playing the sash while starting a strike in a mostly loyalist village in the north. (He had them playing the red flag before long). Quite what you think he'd have in common with your posionously sectarian dribblings I'm not sure. Mind you he did share you soft spot for uncle Joe.

author by Peadarpublication date Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Posionously (sic) sectarian dribblings" - Andrew, your reliance on inaccurate vitriol betrays your inability to argue cogently. My reference to doc's use of the term "settler" was not to be construed as sectarian, but rather an effort to explore the reality of a politically paranoid mindset.

It is not sectarian to say that many unionists share a pathological sense of supremacism and sectarian chauvinism to the detriment of social interaction, just as it is not unjust to point to the fact that, while Russia was a tyrranous place under Stalin et al, it would be pointless to fashion communist regimes as "the worst" the world has seen. Clearly, capitalism and all its ills, one of which I happen to believe is imperialism, another sectarianism, must be the focus of our criticism as socialists.
BTW, fair play to Peadar O'D, the "real" one, for marching behind Orangemen in his effort to radicalise them - Jim Larkin also managed to convince RIC members in Belfast to go on strike once, just before they intended to launch into marchers with batons. There's nothing wrong with extending an olive branch, but let's not deny the negative aspects of Orange culture (or indeed the Catholic conservatism of the south).

author by Andrewpublication date Mon Aug 23, 2004 13:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually your right my venom was a little unnecessary in that reply. But seeing as you had called me a number of weird things I think a reply in kind is understandable if not useful.

I understand that you are trying to define what you mean by settler in terms of a particular theoretical analysis that uses the term. But 99% of indymedia readers never mind the regular public would not be aware of that use of the term. Most who read it would presume you meant something similar to the Gaza situation and would logically assume similar solutions.

In other words it is a bit of jargon and a pretty useless bit as it makes what you are trying to communicate harder rather than easier to understand. In this context its pretty harmful to do this.

I also think the actual analysis is way off as it mistakes a minority current within northern protestants as reflecting the views of all northern protestants. This simply serves to deepen and entrench division. This flows out of the analysis you use which creates such a sharp division between so called settlers and so called natives. The logic of this is that the role of the left is to deepen (rather than overcome) such divisions to the point at which they are 'resolved'. This is a suicidal program for any irish socialist or republican to adopt.

I don't see why you are so excited about a league table of nasty regimes. Why is there a need to know if Stalins labor camps killed more than Hitlers for instance in order to decide that neither offered any route to freedom. Or if the tens of millions who have died as a result of US policy make a bigger mound than the tens of millions who died under Mao.

author by Peadarpublication date Mon Aug 23, 2004 14:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree Andrew that there is an element of semantical "how-many-angels-can-dance-n-the-head-of-a-pin" arguing here, and that it's probably not a good idea to use words that can be misconsrtued as offensive, regardless of their intention.

As regards the league table, I'm not attempting to work with numbers here. but rather point out that our (collectively, in the "West") awareness of the human rights violations in, for instance, Cuba, is inordinate in comparison with our (collective) naivety as regards what the US has done. This imbalance is perterated by the $5.8 billion dollar media interests of the likes of Rupert Murdoch, and so we have a false collective consciousness of where the blame lies. Most people think capitalism is civilising the "developing" world, that if we give them a few water pumps and aplough they'll be grand. Most people also think communism has been shown to be a failure.

author by Curiouspublication date Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Now that the WSM have dropped their call for a workers republic, any chance of them changing their name to the Anarchist Solidarity Movement?

author by ronniepublication date Tue Aug 24, 2004 16:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Class unity is the only way to brake brit imperialism but who has the balls to go into east belfast and argue why its nessecary?
Any takers?

author by alexpublication date Mon Sep 13, 2004 02:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Class unity is the only way to brake brit imperialism but who has the balls to go into east belfast and argue why its nessecary?

Class unity, what crap, the people in the two communities are even more divided than at any time in the last hundred years, this has not been helped by the shinners.

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