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1916 - just what are we celebrating?

category national | history and heritage | feature author Thursday April 13, 2006 18:35author by Andrew Flood - WSM 1916 Working Groupauthor email wsm_ireland at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

Freedom, left republicanism and anarchism.

featured image
Money issued by 1919 Limerick soviet

An anarchist analysis of the 1916 insurrection and the war of independence / tan war in the context of the struggle for socialism in Ireland and internationally. Concentrates on the 'unknown' intense class struggle that ran alongside the war of independence and the role republicanism played in the suppression of that struggle in the interests of nationalist unity. Asks what is freedom and shows how anarchism originated amongst earlier European left republicans as an answer to the limitations of republicanism.

An alternative analysis of the legacy of 1916: Previous Indymedia feature

1916 - just what are we celebrating?

There is something very odd with the official commemoration of 1916. The same government which is celebrating an insurrection against imperialism 90 years ago is today - against the wishes of the majority of the Irish people - allowing Irish airports to be used in support of an imperialist war. And whereas the 1916 proclamation referred to "the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland" successive southern governments have shown themselves to be on the side of international corporations. Currently this has manifested itself in the manner in which the Corrib gas fields off Co. Mayo have been handed over to the Shell corporation.

The program of the insurrection

The reason they can get away with this hypocrisy is because the 1916 proclamation is long on rhetoric about "dead generations" and "august destiny" but short on any sort of concrete program, never mind one that addressed the needs of the working class. The 1916 proclamation says very little about the sort of Ireland the rebels wanted to see. This has allowed every party in the south to claim to stand in its tradition in the 90 years since it was first read out.

The rising was heroic and it did shape the face of modern Ireland, but is there much in the rising for anyone on the left to celebrate? This blow against imperialism after all is somewhat undermined by the description of German imperialism in the second paragraph of the proclamation as "gallant allies in Europe". And the promise that "The Republic guarantees .. equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens" holds no threat to European capitalism of today which also claims to stand for such things.

Despite the fact that the Ireland of the time was deeply divided, right down to the formation of two rival and armed militas the proclamation simply "claims the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman" despite "the differences" .. "which have divided a minority from the majority". The bitter sectarian divisions that already existed in the Belfast working class were unlikely to be overcome in such a manner!

The left and 1916

Connolly has been quoted as saying at an Irish Citizens Army rally a week before the rising that ".. if we should win hold on to your rifles because the Volunteers may have a different goal. Remember we're out not only for political liberty but for economic liberty as well" so certainly the left at the time was aware of the missing equality from the proclamation. As usual in reaching a compromise between socialism and republicanism the socialist element had to be pushed to one side.

Despite this sections of the Dublin left made a real contribution to the rising. Not only was James Connolly a socialist but around 20% of the combatants were from the Irish Citizen Army whose origins lay in a revolutionary syndicalist union, the ITGWU. Other participants in the rising recorded that for at least some of them "this military revolution was to be followed by the industrial revolution".[1] But that left was destroyed by the rising and although the ICA was to be reborn in name, in reality, as Frank Robbins imprisoned for 2 years after 1916, said "the majority of the new members, strange as it might seem, did not hold or advocate the social and political views that had motivated those who fought in 1916" (2)

The state which arose was hostile to the interests of Irish workers and even during the War of Independence the IRA was to act against the struggles of those workers again and again. As Ernie O'Malley (OC 2nd Southern Division, IRA) summarised "There was land trouble in the South and West. The Dail, afraid of the spread of land hunger, used the IRA to protect land owners; the IRA who were in sympathy with those who wanted to break up estates carried out the orders of the Minister of Defence." (3)

Class struggle during the War of Independence

The events of 1916 are quite well known - what most people, even those on the left, are unaware of is that intense class struggle was waged in the years between 1918 and 1923. There were 5 general strikes in southern and western Ireland between August 1918 and August 1923 and 18 general local strikes, twelve of these in 1919. In the course of these workers took over the running of towns and cities across Ireland, most famously with the 1919 Limerick Soviet but this happened even in the small town of Dungarvan. In 1918 for one month in Dungarvan;

"Nothing could be bought or sold without a union permit. Nothing could enter the town without union permission. People who tried to break the blockade had their carts overturned and their goods destroyed .. The strike committee set up its own rationing and distribution system" [4]

Landless labourers across Ireland took part in land occupations and in cattle drives. Workers occupied their workplaces and sought to keep production going.

Pitched battles were fought between workers and police, republican police and even self styled 'white guards' set up by employers. Of the General Strike of April 1920 the Manchester Guardian noted "the direction of affairs passed during the strike to these [workers'] councils, which were formed not on a local but on a class basis. In most places the police abdicated, and the maintenance of order was taken over by the local Workers Council .. In fact, it is no exaggeration to trace a flavour of proletarian dictatorship about some aspects of the strike".

Yes as historian Emmet O'Connor notes "Despite the proved value of the strike .. Dail Eireann never sought to invoke it, or attempt to manipulate political strikes once they had begun. Employing a weapon of social conflict would have run counter to Sinn Fein's integrationist strategy"5]

This was a time of militant syndicalist struggle across the European working class. In Ireland some of these workers would have been IRA members but the methods of struggle they used were not those of the Irish republicanism but of Italian anarchists, French syndicalists, British trade unionists and even Belfast shipyard workers. The sole contribution of the War of Independence, and in particular the IRA's targeting of the forces of 'law and order', was the creation of a vacuum in which these workers' struggles could progress much further than might have been otherwise possible.

The price of success

This lack of 'law and order' meant that for the British and Irish capitalist class Sinn Fein came to be seen as a way of returning to business as normal. The forces of the crown could no longer guarantee the law and order needed to keep business as usual, perhaps the IRA could play that role. Sinn Fein started to prove that it could be trusted to manage capitalism in southern Ireland on May 17 1920 in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo. That day the first public Arbitration Court was held by Sinn Fein. This found against small holders who had occupied a 100 acre farm. Although the small holders defied the court decision and remained in occupation, in the words of a Dail pamphlet "the Captain of the local company of the IRA descended upon them with a squad of his men- sons of very poor farmers like themselves - arrested four of them, and brought them off to that very effective Republican prison - an unknown destination" (6)

Peadar O'Donnell who was OC of 2nd brigade IRA (Derry and East Donegal) writing in 1963 observed "Many an IRA man in jail in '22 and '23 cursed his use as a defender of pure ideals to patrol estate walls, enforce decrees for rent, arrest and even order out of the country leaders of local land agitation" (7) In other words the IRA could protect the rich in a way that the RIC were no longer capable of.

This was Irish republicanism at its most militant period, it was simultaneously a period when Irish workers were at their most militant. Yet the direct actions of these workers were seen as a hindrance to the republican struggle - something that threatened unity. Breaking these workers' struggles was the way that the Dail won the allegiance of a large section of Irish capitalism. It demonstrated that unlike the British state it could maintain law and order and protect the property and land of the wealthy from the working class.

It's worth noting that these accounts from senior IRA officers emphasise either that the rank and file IRA men involved in suppressing the land occupations were themselves poor labourers or that they were unhappy with the role they were ordered to play. Ernie O'Malley further observed that "The farm labouer could understand the city workman, and was organised in labour unions with him. The movement as a whole was hostile to labour claims even though labour had helped to prevent conscription, had not contested the last election, and was now refusing to carry armed troops" (8)

The limits of left republicanism

So while left republicanism may look like an attractive short cut to socialism it is one based on building on sand. The weakness of republicanism is not in its failures but in its successes because success requires building nationalist unity, whether that be military as during the War of Independence or political as in the Peace Process. The price of such unity is constant - the marginalisation and removal from the agenda of any prospect of social revolution.

Anarchism arose out of an understanding of the limits of socialist republicanism. Because of this it didn't reject the core concepts of the republic, it built on them. What do we mean by this?

What is Freedom?

Everyone, from George Bush and Michael McDowell talks of being for freedom but what does freedom mean? We have already seen how the 1916 proclamation talked only of "equal rights and equal opportunities" but left aside any mention of economic equality even though at least one of the signatories, James Connolly, knew this was a requirement for any real freedom.

Liberty, Fraternity, Equality was the slogan that encapsulated the French revolution and captures the debate that was to follow, a debate out of which anarchism eventually emerged. The words sound fine but what do they mean? Does equality simply mean equality before the law, something that now exists in theory in the western world. Or does it mean equal access to all that is produced. In that debate is the gulf between Bush's Republican party and anarchist communism.

In the context of Ireland republicanism really starts just before the 1798 Rebellion. Rebellions before this date were about a return to more traditional rulers or whether we would be ruled by a protestant King of England or a catholic King of England. Whatever the mythologies built up by loyalism on the one hand and Irish nationalism on the other freedom, for the mass of the people, was never really on the agenda.

The 1798 rebellion however aimed at bringing in a new and democratic form of society. Contained within some of the various rebel factions was a 'levelling' agenda that talked in the language of the times of economic liberty. The Poor Man's Catechism, published anonymously in the 1790's included
"I believe in a revolution founded on the rights of man, in the natural and imprescriptable right of all citizens to all the land ... As the land and its produce was intended for the use of man 'tis unfair for fifty or a hundred men to possess what is for the subsistence of near five millions ...".

National unity V the 'men of no property'

In the South today we live in a 'republic' but it is one where not much more than fifty or a hundred men possess what "is for the subsistence of near five millions". In our republic 10 families owned almost all of the land suitable for housing around Dublin and because of this in the last decade they have become multi millionaires.

Right from the origins of republicanism across the globe it represented an alliance which included those who wanted to go a lot further than political liberty and recognised that equality also required fundamental changes in property laws etc. The men of no property are not just key figures in 1798, they appear in every republican insurrection on the globe.

The story of anarchism starts with the republican revolts that broke out all across Europe in the year 1848. These revolts saw the emergence of very distinct working class movements that sought to introduce socialism as part of fight for the republic - the development of what today and in the Irish context we might call socialist republicanism.

The origins of anarchism in left republicanism

One republican active in those years was the Russian left republican Michael Bakunin who was later to become an anarchist. At this time the Slavic people were under the yokes of no less than four Empires, those of the Russian Czar, Austria-Hungary, the Ottomans (modern day Turkey) and the Prussians.

The republican revolts of 1848 saw Bakunin participate in the Slav congress in Prague and publish 'An appeal to the Slavs'. This appeal has many things in common with later socialist republican statements, for instance the call for revolutionary Slavic unity against the German, Turkish and Magyars occupations "while we stretched our fraternal hands out to the German people, to democratic Germany". As Connolly was to do later he sought to present socialism as an inevitable part of winning the republic. Bakunin at this time, like Connolly before 1916, expected the best republicans to become socialists once they realised this - Bakunin going so far as to claim that; "Everybody has come to the realisation that liberty was merely a lie where the great majority of the population is reduced to a miserable existence, where, deprived of education, of liberty and of bread, it is fated to serve as an underprop for the powerful and the rich." The Appeal to the Slavs ends with "The social question thus appears to be first and foremost the question of the complete overturn of society."(9)

Bakunin began to reject left republicanism after the 1863 Polish insurrection when he saw that the Polish nationalists were more interested in Ukrainian land than the support of the Ukrainian Slavs and that they were more afraid of Polish peasant insurrectionists than the Czar. In other words if they could not keep the working class in check the Polish capitalists were willing to sacrifice the republic.

The anarchists break with left republicanism

Bakunin went to Italy where he worked on an international project of revolutionary organisation with republican exiles from many countries. They sought a way to develop republican organisational structures and a set of principles that would see the abolition of class society rather than just swapping a foreign boss for a domestic boss.

The sort of new society they advocated was a radical advance in Europe of the 1860's and remains both relevant and radical today. They argued that
"the advent of liberty is incompatible with the existence of States."

"the free human society may arise at last, no longer organised ... from the top down... but rather starting from the free individual and the free association and autonomous commune, from the bottom up"

"labour being the sole producer of social assets, anyone enjoying these without working is an exploiter of another man's labours, a thief, and work being an essential underpinning of human dignity, the only means by which man actually conquers and creates his freedom, all political and social rights must henceforth be extended to workers alone."


Thus Anarchism emerged in an organised form as a result of a group of experienced left republican revolutionaries drawing the conclusion that the achievement of real freedom meant breaking with nationalist class alliances and looking instead to international working class rebellion. But they carried some of their republican tradition with them, not least the emphasis on individual freedom. Perhaps the best one sentence summary of anarchism expresses this, again from Bakunin that

"Liberty without socialism is inequality and injustice"

but this is not simply a critique of republicanism, it is part of a couplet, the other half of which is a republican criticism of the tendency of socialists to see individual freedom as an irrelevancy, that is

"Socialism without Liberty is brutality and slavery".

The lessons of 1916

If the goal of the 1916 insurrection was freedom for the people of Ireland then it failed, and not just because of the treaty and partition. Because the left sacrificed all mentions of economic equality the state that arose in the south could and does base itself on the proclamation. Ironically writing some 17 years before 1916 Connolly himself had highlighted what this would mean when he wrote "After Ireland is free, says the patriot who won't touch socialism, we will protect all classes, and if you won't pay your rent you will be evicted same as now. 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?"

In 1916 admist the imperialist slaughter of the First World War Connolly decided that this limited program was worth fighting for. 90 years on we can admire those involved in the insurrection but at the same time the insurrection is a demonstration that even the most left of republicans, as Connolly then was, find themselves forced to drop the working class elements of their program in the interests of nationalist unity. Anarchism argued left republicanism was a dead end in the fight for freedom in 1866, Connolly's sacrifice in 1916 only served to confirm this.

---
This text is an extended version of the contribution I gave to the Anarchism and Republicanism debate with Tommy McKearney at the Anarchist bookfair.

Peadar O'Donnel photographed in 1930
Peadar O'Donnel photographed in 1930

Ernie O'Malley - Assistant Chief of Staff of the IRA during tan war
Ernie O'Malley - Assistant Chief of Staff of the IRA during tan war

Citizen Army on the roof of Liberty Hall
Citizen Army on the roof of Liberty Hall

Citizen Army assembled outside Liberty Hall
Citizen Army assembled outside Liberty Hall

author by GPJpublication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 15:28Report this post to the editors

" find themselves forced to drop the working class elements of their program in the interests of nationalist unity "

Here lies the basis of this critique. The author ignores the fact that the Irish working class have supported national unity through out the 90 years since the 1916 revolution.

Armed struggle is peoples politics and the national war of liberation fought and supported by the most oppressed elements of the Irish working class in Ireland from 1969-, shows that the ideas liberty and socialism that the author supports, can only be achieved through national unity.

The puppet state of the 26 counties and their british masters have a vested interest in the division of this island. The working class unity of this island can only be built by linking the issue of national unity with the struggle of the Irish working class.

In respect to anarchists the communities which you hope to lead to revolution, have been organising opposition to imperialism, supporting political challenges to British mis-rule and providing alternatives to both native and foreign capitalism.

The opponents of this liberty and freedom to organise, has not been republicans, but have been the forces of oppression linked to British colonialism.

The first step to the classless society is challenging the national oppressor and the supporters of partition. So much of the oppressor's military, economic and political time has been spent trying to suppress and extinguish republican socialism.

Does this not tell you something of how much the national oppressor fears the irish working class, unpartitioned, united and politicised.

Leave the book fairs for the middle classes lets see you organising on the streets in the community groups and in the work places.

author by Andrewpublication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 18:05Report this post to the editors

Thanks for responding

It is true that sections of the working class see national unity as an important goal. It is however also true that other sections are completely opposed to that goal. So 'what the working class thinks' really isn't much of a test unless you intend to start off by excluding those sections who don't think what you reckon they should. In which case you really talking about what you think - why not just say this.

I'm not really interested in claiming to speak for the working class - I speak for myself. I have sympathy for the ideals of republicanism but all it has delivered anywhere is a capitalist state and a new division of power. The 1916 period is interesting because we can see local examples of why this happens. We can also see why from a republican point of view it makes 'sense'. In terms of the Irish left and the republican left in particular I think this makes for an interesting discussion - all the more so because as I suggest above in the last decade we have seen the same process repeat itself.

author by Shane OCurry - WSM - personal capacitypublication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 18:41Report this post to the editors

" The author ignores the fact that the Irish working class have supported national unity through out the 90 years since the 1916 revolution."

The French working class - if taken as a whole- have supported national unity since the revolution. The German working class - taken as a whole - have similarly supported German national unity since the Weimar republic etc... All this tells us is that people tend to be wedded to dominant ideologies - the ideology of the ruling class. In the case of Irish Republicanism, this is all the more shameful because bourgeois nationalism is re-packaged to contain rhetoric about working class emancipation (keeping the movement united), until it comes to the crunch, and the old "Labour can wait" line is trotted out by one of Pearse's successors.

"Armed struggle is peoples politics"
It can be, but often it's not. Sometimes it takes on its own logic and becomes concerned with the preservation and advancement of the leadership of the armed group. We don't have to look too far back in history to see that this is the case.

" and the national war of liberation fought and supported by the most oppressed elements of the Irish working class in Ireland from 1969-, shows that the ideas liberty and socialism that the author supports, can only be achieved through national unity."
It doesn't show anything of the kind. The armed struggle of republicans in the north, however justified, to a certain extent played into the hands of the British State by further entrenching an already sectarianised society. The catholic nationalist racial celtic nonsense of the leadership - and its courting of the Catholic Church, the stoops, the AOH etc. and the 26 county government , in the name of blessed unity - did nothing to break the protestant working class from loyalism and achieve working class unity.

"The puppet state of the 26 counties and their british masters have a vested interest in the division of this island."
That was certainly the case at partition and for a long time since. Now it seems the ruling elites north, south and in britain have a vested interest in treating Ireland as a single economic unit. Good business sense in todays conditions. Hence the Downing Street Declaration and SF's cosying up to business leaders, north and south.

"The working class unity of this island can only be built by linking the issue of national unity with the struggle of the Irish working class."

How can wedding the 26 county working class to the same nationalist ideology that Willie O'Dea spouts, achieve working class consciousness?

How can advocating a 32 county republic give northern protestant workers faith in working class unity?

"In respect to anarchists the communities which you hope to lead to revolution"
Anarchists shouldn't seek to lead (if they did they wouldn't be anarchists); they are about spreading ideas and helping build bottom-up structures.

"have been organising opposition to imperialism, supporting political challenges to British mis-rule and providing alternatives to both native and foreign capitalism."

No argument there. Working class resistance to oppression is downplayed in official accounts.. Within the 'catholic' working class community in the north the modes of resistance and local economy initiatives are an inspiration to the revolutionaries everywhere.

"The opponents of this liberty and freedom to organise, has not been republicans, but have been the forces of oppression linked to British colonialism."
True in the main, although we can all come up with ways in which republicans, in the name of unity, have silenced individuals, stifled debate and sidelined issues.

"The first step to the classless society is challenging the national oppressor and the supporters of partition. So much of the oppressor's military, economic and political time has been spent trying to suppress and extinguish republican socialism. "

I disagree. Not any more. The Brits don't want the north or partition, they would rather hand it over to Dublin if they could and be done with it. They hate the unionist oiks as much as they hate the micks. The Peace Process is about facilitating a transition to an entity that can manageIrish society in the interests of Capital, north, south, british and international. Mainstream republicans are delivering the section of the working class that they 'represent' in this process. It is no longer true to speak of 'national oppressor'. Try 'international Capital' instead.

"Does this not tell you something of how much the national oppressor fears the irish working class, unpartitioned, united and politicised." Sure, but they have nothing to fear from republicanism.

"Leave the book fairs for the middle classes lets see you organising on the streets in the community groups and in the work places."

Why? Don't working class people read books? Can't we do both? The WSM does both.

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie/
author by Cynicpublication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 19:14Report this post to the editors

Looks to me as if you would be more at home with ORANGEise. I thought the WSM supported the idea of a 32 County Workers Republic at least as a transitional demand. You are not going to win loyalists over to socialism by ignoring their prejudices or do you now think that the problem is one of two competing nationalities?

author by GPJpublication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 19:28Report this post to the editors

The dominant ideology in Ireland since 1916 has been the partitionist ideology of the ruling classes in the free state and the six counties

Republicanism and especially republican socialism has been marginalised, demonised, censored and suppressed by these ruling elites. Why then add to the armoury of the oppressor?

Armed struggle did not play into the hands of the British. Armed struggle gave the most oppressed section of the Irish working class an avenue of resistance that made the british ruling class think twice about oppression.It brought them to the negotiation table, it politicised communities and built the unity of ideas which defines revolutionary struggle.

Loyalism shared the objectives of the British ruling class. I remember a meeting where members of the PUP tried to subvert the republican arguement by lecturing to us that the protestant working class were just as oppressed under the "Unionist dominated stormont regime as working class catholics"..however the difference was that loyalism was willing to die and kill for this regime.
And these forces of reaction are still agents of British and six county capital. Look how theyare now using xenophobia and racism to promote their ideology.

Republicans did not fight a sectarian war.

Book fairs, come on I do not need to read about Baukarin or the Ukranian resistance ( Martov ) be politicised..the reality of resistance is in the streets and in the workplace..the working class make the tactics of resistance they do not have to read about them.

Make partition history.

author by Skepticpublication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 20:01Report this post to the editors

German Imperialists or British Imperialists?

How about American capital vs. Chinese capital?

Sinn Fein rackrent collectors vs. Absentee landlord rackrent collectors

Bush vs. Kerry?

Take a stand. It makes sense. You know it does. Ignore the article. Emote. Cry. Rage. You'll feel better.

author by Sean - Organise!publication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 22:33Report this post to the editors

I think the analysis put forward by GPJ is simplistic to say the least. Typical, bog standard view that prod working class are simply duped by the 'Brits' and come a united ireland they will see their senses and realise their 'irish' after all.
Firstly, loyalist relationship has been ambiguous with Britain to say the least, and have often rebelled against brit policies such as the Ulster Workers Strike in 1974.
Secondly, the mainstream republican movement has changed their strategy to adapt to this 'reality', signed up to the consent principle and never fuck up about persuading unionism about the benefits of irish unity, after trying to indirectly force them into a united ireland over the last 30 years.

At the end of the day, i want to build a society that is classless and free and we the workingclass are in the saddle and we need to ask ourselves can irish republicanism in its present form build class unity and solidarity in the north?. Unfortunately, the last 30 years and you can blame the Brit government but it has increased sectarian divisions. Lastly, irish republicanism is never about social revolution anyway but cross-class alliances which has been highlighted significantly in recent years by the movement in Sinn Fein.

Who the fuck of Orangise? look at our website personal insult deleted. please see our guidelines http://www.indymedia.ie/editorial . Whole comments may be deleted instead of edited because it's not worth our time to edit most comments. Thanks - 1 of IMC Ed volunteers

www.organiseireland.org

author by Ciarán Ó Brolcháinpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 00:24Report this post to the editors

"Firstly, loyalist relationship has been ambiguous with Britain to say the least, and have often rebelled against brit policies such as the Ulster Workers Strike in 1974."

The Loyalist relationship with Britain has only been ambiguous when the British have considered giving equality to catholics in the occupied six counties. The UWC strike occurred in an attempt, a successful one, to bring down the power-sharing executive under the Sunningdale Agreement. And the strike was supported by the officer class of the English Army, typifying the history of the Orange-Tory ties going to the 18th century.

author by Shane ocurry - WSM - personal capacitypublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 00:25Report this post to the editors

"Cynic" said: "Looks to me as if you would be more at home with ORANGEise."
-Why don't you tell us what you really think, and call them Huns ?

"I thought the WSM supported the idea of a 32 County Workers Republic at least as a transitional demand. "
-Actually, the line has changed to "An anarchist Ireland"

"You are not going to win loyalists over to socialism by ignoring their prejudices or do you now think that the problem is one of two competing nationalities?"

No, 'protestant' workers need to be broken from loyalism/unionism (=British nationalism) and the anti-catholic sectarianism that is inherent in that ideology. But I don't see how I can argue my case by telling them to subscribe instead to notions of Celtic romanticism.

The point of Andrews critique of Irish nationalism is not to make the case that British nationalism is better, which of course its not, nor to make a case for the 6 county state to remain, which it shouldn't, but to show the limitations that Irish nationalism imposes on working class consciousness by making people accept the principle of the unity of the 'nation' over the principle of workers unity.

GJ said:

"The dominant ideology in Ireland since 1916 has been the partitionist ideology of the ruling classes in the free state and the six counties"

-It's not that clear cut. It's what you say, but it's that layered over a 32-county-nationalism which the free state ruling elite (whether FF, FG, Lab etc) were not and are still not shy of using whenever it suits them. They can always sabre rattle at the brits if the masses are getting too uppity.

"Republicanism and especially republican socialism has been marginalised, demonised, censored and suppressed by these ruling elites. "
-True, but be careful not to claim to have a monopoly on victimhood, which you don't. I know of anarchists in Belfast in the 1970s who were told in no uncertain terms what would happen to them if they continued to put up posters that were critical of the clergy. They stopped. the people who threatened them were republican socialists.

"Why then add to the armoury of the oppressor?"
- what? by critiquing the ideas of irish nationalism on indymedia?

"Armed struggle did not play into the hands of the British." It did sometimes. It suited the brits to have a low intensity guerilla war in their back yard. The secureucrats loved it. Some of them are pining for it now.

"Armed struggle gave [one of ] the most oppressed section[s] of the Irish working class an avenue of resistance that made the british ruling class think twice about oppression.It brought them to the negotiation table."
-Agreed

"it politicised communities and built the unity of ideas. which defines revolutionary struggle."
-Communities were politicised in their own right, through popular struggle. Because of the nakedly violent response of loyalism and the british state to popular struggle, people were forced to rely on the armed wing(s) for protection. The armed groups imposed unity for security reasons. That unity stifled debate and participation. The 'struggle' became an elite-driven insurrection, not a revolution of any kind. Revolution is about changing power relationships, not about substituting new rulers for old ones.

"Loyalism shared the objectives of the British ruling class. I remember a meeting where members of the PUP tried to subvert the republican arguement by lecturing to us that the protestant working class were just as oppressed under the "Unionist dominated stormont regime as working class catholics"..however the difference was that loyalism was willing to die and kill for this regime. "
I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis

"And these forces of reaction are still agents of British and six county capital. Look how theyare now using xenophobia and racism to promote their ideology."
Loyalists mouth-frothing hatred of catholics lends itself easily to mouth-frothing hatred of portuguese, of chinese, moslems etc.

"Republicans did not fight a sectarian war."
If you read over what I wrote, you'll find that I did not say that they did. What I said was that republican tactics (military and political), to a certain extent, further entrenched an already sectarianised society. To the extent that it did that, republicanism played into the state's hands.

"Book fairs, come on I do not need to read about Baukarin or the Ukranian resistance ( Martov ) be politicised..the reality of resistance is in the streets and in the workplace..the working class make the tactics of resistance they do not have to read about them."

It's up to you what you do. I'm surprised you even bothered to switch on your computer. Actually I think you'd like Makhno (the Ukrainian guy) a bit of a Francis Hughes-type character.

"Make partition history."
Add to that: No borders, no nations, no bosses, no priests, no bureaucrats,

Related Link: http://struggle.ws/wsm/
author by Ciarán Ó Brolcháinpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 00:40Report this post to the editors

The major flaw in the main article above is the one-sided approach to the role played by the IRA during the period of the Tan War, which suggests an agenda against republicanism in general.

There is an image from the Limerick Soviet above. One of the members of the Strike Committee was Michael Brennan, Commandant of the IRA's East Clare Brigade. Then there's also the famous incident where Peadar O'Donnell and workers took over an asylum in Monaghan, set up a soviet committee and riased a red flag above the building. There were also cases when the Republican Courts actually acted as revolutionary courts.

A little objectivity can be a nice thing.

author by Andrew Floodpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 01:01Report this post to the editors

Ciarán obviously this is just one short article - it doesn't pretend to be an exhaustive account. For that reason the criticism I have used is out of the mouths of republicans active at the time, including Peader O'Donnell.

Later I want to look at the contrast between the role of republicans often as leaders of the Limerick and other soviets and their part in an organisation that downplayed and sought to limit these same events. As above this is not about the failure of republicanism at a moment of weakness but rather at its moment of strength when radical ideas were not only to the fore but implemented.

author by Tj - IRSM, personal capacitypublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 02:13Report this post to the editors

I agree with the point Ciarán made, that there is not much integrity to this piece. There is a tendency to pretend as though republicanism is simply nationalism, and for the trendy left to lay claim to many parts of the republican socialist tradition, such as class struggle, while divorcing from its actual context.

There are gross simplifications - for instance, Connolly was not explicitly a syndicalist despite deep similarities. As a student of scientific socialism, Connolly considered it necessary for Ireland's material development to be rid of imperialism just as Marx did. Today that analysis seems even more sound. It is not enough to put out cliche slogans about 'no borders'. If anything, that is an excuse, much as this entire excercise is, in finding reasons to sit on the sidelines and label 80% of Ireland racist labels like 'bogtrotters'.

author by Phuq Heddpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 02:21Report this post to the editors

I can understand (even if I don't agree) with the criticisms which claim that the IRA was more involved in class-struggle than they're given credit for in the article. I don't see what the stuff about "bogtrotters" is about. You pulled that out of your arse, you're the first person to mention it here and you're shoving your imaginations of other people's opinions into their mouths. Don't. Make a serious argument and listen to what other people have to say, don't tell them what they think. They know that better than you do.

author by Hebepublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:08Report this post to the editors

"personal capacity
by Sean - Organise! Wed Apr 12, 2006 21:33
I think the analysis put forward by GPJ is simplistic to say the least. Typical, bog standard view that prod working class are simply duped by the 'Brits' "

The above is hardly much different from 'Bogtrotter' and just as offensive. GPJ had not insulted Organise by using that stupid term 'orangeise'.

author by Andrewpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:58Report this post to the editors

All the same Hebe Sean is in a different organisation to myself and I didn't (and indeed wouldn't have) used the term bogtrotter in the original article. If anything - at least in terms of the land occupations - the problem was a Dublin based leadership issuing orders that no Volunteer officer was to attend occupations or cattle drives and that no Volunteer was to do so in uniform. The rank and file rural workers were well ahead of the Dublin based leadership even before the arbitration courts.

author by Sean - Organise!publication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:36Report this post to the editors

Well, how is it trendy to suggest that republicanism and nationalism overlap? Sinn Fein for example believe in a republic, and us the word nationalist to define themselves when it suits.
Secondly, there is a clear overlap in the sense of a belief that the 'nation' is sovereign rather than the 'people' which the 1916 easter proclamation clearly outlines and republicans hold this dear to their heart.
However this tendency is changing, considering Sinn Fein have signed up to 'consent' through the GFA, which recognises the rights of those who do not define themselves as 'British'.
Its very simplistic to distinguish the two!
Irish Republican Socialist Party, compared to Connellys Irish Socialist Republican Party says it all!

author by Sean - Organise!publication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:37Report this post to the editors

apologies- who define themselves as 'British'

author by Sean - Organise!publication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:58Report this post to the editors

There is nothing cliche about 'no borders'. Do i real have any 'fantasies' that a government from Dublin, Westminister or Stormont under and any so-called 'workers republic', will advance working class unity and solidarity and build a free and equal society we all desearve no!
Do we get involved in day to day struggles, build solidarity etc and believe that both states must be smashed- yes!
Do we ignore 'partition', believe in the line that 'labour must wait' or have any notions that once unity will come 'prods' will see their senses and realise their 'irish' after all! obviously no! and why should they?

author by Barry - 32 csmpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 13:54Report this post to the editors

Celtic romanticism , leaderships catholic celtic racial theories ? Willie O'Dea is a separtist ?

Wha ???

And "the Brits would love to be rid of the north" ?? ?

Thats simply acting as an apologist for imperialism . If the Brits wanted rid theyd be rid , end of story . Their actions in arming and directing loyalist killer gangs for decades and ensuring its sovereign claim on the national territory was totally non negotiable are in direct contradiction to this nonsensical apologia for Westminster imperialism .

The criticisms of leaderships and the undemocratic internal structures which have plagued republican separatism throughout the last century are valid . But the republican separatist position remains a radical and revolutionary one .

The whole thing is written from a defacto unionist standpoint . The blame for Irelands ills seems to rest with republicans rather than British imperialism . Except Connolly who seems to have tragically allowed himself to be duped by nasty separatists and got entangled in the whole mess . What a pity he didnt sit back and do eff all just like Irelands anarchists .

author by alertpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 14:17Report this post to the editors

Barry

Help, please - I need to know more about why Norn Iron is of such huge, styategic interest to the Brits. Is it a vital launch pad for nuke weapons? Do they need a military presence there, in 2006, to deter the Nazis? Maybe it is to frighten the Russians?

Or does the 32csm know something that the rest of us have never suspected - that gold is buried deep in the Fermanagh mountains, is being discreetly mined, and is financing the entire British exchequer?

Alternatively, has an economist conducted a Nobel prize winning new study, which shows that the bigger your dole queues the more money private companies make from you, thereby enhancing your strategic significance to Imperialism?

Alternatively, maybe you think that Imperialism is a degenerate mental condition to which English people are especially prone, and they hold on to the north so that they can in effect just say 'fuck you'....

author by Seanpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 14:19Report this post to the editors

Did you bother to answer any of my questions barry? except dig out the usual rhetoric!
Obviously the British Government bears responsiblity for the divisions created and manufactured, and your response leaves us with the idea that republicanism is immune from criticism!
32 CSM are building on sand, if the IRA could not force a 'Brit' withdrawel under more favourable circumstances , who can? Oh, we can always rely on the UN to implement 'national soverignty'. Alternatively, we can go to the same commerations every year, repeat the same mantra and 'slogans' about England being the never ending problems of all our evils or you can wake up to their are 1 million habitants in the north who do not define themselves as part of the 'irish nation' which you hold dear.
The irish nation? what is it other then some invention in the 18th century by rich landowners!
revolutionary in these sense of what? replacing one set of bosses with another who carry the harp rather than the crown, leaving the exiting structures of the state based on domination and protecting the interests of the rich!
Far from being an apologist for imperialism which i oppose, i just live in the real world, which demands real answers not just the cliches of 'Brits Out' !
I dont think neither loyalism, republicanism(progressive on paper), nor nationalism is capable nor desirable of meeting this challenge!

author by Barry's rubbishpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 15:19Report this post to the editors

Yes Barry, we do eff all, we haven't even killed any innocent people! If we had our own Omagh then we could be taken seriously.

author by Kevin Fultonpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 16:09Report this post to the editors

The only reason RIRA was able to carry out the heroic massacre that was Omagh was because of the cover given to them by RUC Special branch, because RIRA/32CSM is their puppet. Go on Barry! Kill some more spanish schoolchildren, it'l bring us all closer to a workers utopia, and at least you will have done something while the rest of us argue about it on indymedia.

author by Ciarán Ó Brolcháinpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 17:04Report this post to the editors

"Far from being an apologist for imperialism which i oppose, i just live in the real world, which demands real answers not just the cliches of 'Brits Out' !
I dont think neither loyalism, republicanism(progressive on paper), nor nationalism is capable nor desirable of meeting this challenge!"

If you oppose imperialism, as you claim, then would that not make you an Irish separatist? Do we not want to liberate Ireland from the grip of capitalist imperialism, whether it be in the form of the US in Shannon, British troops in South Armagh, EU monopoly capitalism ensuring Ireland's place as a neo-colony, just as Connolly predicted?

Speaking generally, I think that there really are some anarchists who don't "live in the real world", who want to ignore the continuing British role in Irish affairs just so they can continue their utopian illusion of uniting the workers on bread-and-butter questions, just like every other bourgeois liberal trendy left tries to do. The people who "live in the real world" are the ones actually trying to find answers to these problems, because ignoring them won't make them just go away.

The revolutionary tradition in this country is republicanism; as much as Sean might want to be a Catalan syndicalist it just isn't so. Republicanism still has a historically progressive role to play, and it should be criticised on a constructive basis - but liberals who don't dare making mention of the reactionary role of loyalism/unionism or (certain types of) imperialism without also giving a tokenistic reference to whatever strawman concept of nationalism they hold, they're just standing in the way of making any real radical change.

author by Ciarán Ó Brolcháinpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 17:11Report this post to the editors

"Later I want to look at the contrast between the role of republicans often as leaders of the Limerick and other soviets and their part in an organisation that downplayed and sought to limit these same events. As above this is not about the failure of republicanism at a moment of weakness but rather at its moment of strength when radical ideas were not only to the fore but implemented."

That's fair enough. I look forward to your analysis. I think that if it's done in a constructive nature then it can open up into a (hopefully mature) debate on questions such as the limitations of republicanism without the all-important class component and topics of the kind.

author by Andrewpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 17:15Report this post to the editors

Ciarán our basic intention is to cover a number of articles on these topics over the next 9 or so months - maybe one a month or so but with extra ones in the next couple of weeks for obvious reasons.

In the meantime for those who find the article a bit long to read online, or if you want to pass on a copy I've produced a 3 page PDF version which you can download from http://www.struggle.ws/pdfs/pamphlets/1916.pdf

front.gif

author by Sean - Organise!publication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 18:57Report this post to the editors

"If you oppose imperialism, as you claim, then would that not make you an Irish separatist? Do we not want to liberate Ireland from the grip of capitalist imperialism, whether it be in the form of the US in Shannon, British troops in South Armagh, EU monopoly capitalism ensuring Ireland's place as a neo-colony, just as Connolly predicted?"

Ciaran, i guess your logic would them mean that someone who opposes the occupation of Iraq then, automatically places oneself on the side of Al Quaida and other Islamic groups such as the Al-Sadr Army.
No that makes me someone who believes in a completely demilitarised society, and yes that means end to the presense of the armed forces of the state. Obviously that entails all you mention above. Liberation of our class from all states and capitalism, and a struggle for a federation of workers control of industry and community councils.

"Speaking generally, I think that there really are some anarchists who don't "live in the real world", who want to ignore the continuing British role in Irish affairs just so they can continue their utopian illusion of uniting the workers on bread-and-butter questions, just like every other bourgeois liberal trendy left tries to do. The people who "live in the real world" are the ones actually trying to find answers to these problems, because ignoring them won't make them just go away."

Knowone, is ignoring the role of the British Government in Irish affairs. It comes down to this quite simply Ciaran, which we disagree, we does Irish Republicanism today, not historically or traditionally, have the potential to build class unity and solidarity in the struggle for a free and classless society? For me, i dont think it does which has been reinforced over the last 30 years. You cannot believe that honestly that republicanism is a distinctive tradition in Ireland that has not been influenced by nationalism.
The way forward, for us is building class unity on ´bread and butter´issues as you have said, as Westminster, nor Stormont and Dublin offers us anything except more of same attacks and shit. Youre are trying rather crudely to paint this the same as the ´sticks´, well, firstly we dont believe in entering state insitutions and secondly we have revolutionary objectives.

The revolutionary tradition in this country is republicanism; as much as Sean might want to be a Catalan syndicalist it just isn't so. Republicanism still has a historically progressive role to play, and it should be criticised on a constructive basis - but liberals who don't dare making mention of the reactionary role of loyalism/unionism or (certain types of) imperialism without also giving a tokenistic reference to whatever strawman concept of nationalism they hold, they're just standing in the way of making any real radical change.

Well Andrews article is constructive criticism of the so-called revolutionary values of republicanism. I like to know Ciaran, where do you see this revolutionary tradition coming from today in Ireland? What is this about Catalan syndicalism anyway?there is no such thing as ´catalan syndicalism´!
I think your mistaken to believe that somewho the reactionary role of loyalism is not mention. You only have to glance at our article on the loyalist riots and Ulster Workers Strike which emphasis this!
i hope these article go someway to constructive debate, as there is clearly a need for some critique of Irish Republicanism without being called an 'apologist of imperialism' or a 'unionist'. At the end of the day republicanism can only bring us so far

Related Link: http://www.organiseireland.org
author by Phuq Heddpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 18:59Report this post to the editors

The kneejerk reaction against criticism of the holy-of-holies, the IRA, is amazing. The piece fully acknowledges that many of the IRA volunteers were acting solely under military discipline and probably against their own inclinations and sympathies. Yet, the IRA leadership, acting under some dictates of "pragmatism" or other found themselves drifting into alliance with people that were oppressors as much as the easily identifiable "other" of the British.

Republicanism is a syncretic movement, cobbling together ideas and trends that are actually hostile to each other and Ireland is a demonstration of its greatest failure. The partition of Ireland and the highly centralised and authoritarian state on the south of the border are the creation of Republicanism just as much as of Imperialism.

Time to ditch a broken idea.

author by Barry - 32csmpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 20:02Report this post to the editors

The partition of Ireland and the ensuing undemocratic mess is a British creation , an imperialist creation and an undemocratic process . Republican separatism as an ideology is in no way responsible for it . Former republicans who went on to reject that analysis have certainly played their part and will no doubt continue to support these British created structures .These institutions could only be constructed and maintained by the physical suppression of that very separatist analysis . And that suppression was itself undemocratic .

The republican separatist analysis espoused by Pearse and others was much more in depth than even the demand for sovereignty in the 1916 proclamation . Rather than ditching what someone has described as a "broken idea" wed be better off actually insisting upon what is at the core of the republican separatist demand - full national sovereignty in all its forms , territorial , political and material . A clear definition of what that tradition and analysis actually entails is necessary before one can start describing it as a broken idea .

author by Bourgeois trendy leftypublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 20:15Report this post to the editors

I've been following this debate and am amazed at the repetition of the anti-political retort that if your ideas don't coincide with mine then you should be dismissed as a bourgeois trendy lefty.

Some bourgeois trendy lefties in history:

Kropoptkin (however you spell it). Marx. Engels. Constance Markiewicz. Ronnie Bunting. Che Guevara. Jack White. Charlie Donnelly. John McGuffin. Oscar Wilde

Like all bourgeois trendy lefties they only become bourgeois trendy lefties when they say something that someone else doesn't like.

This is to say nothing of all the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois rightwingers that the republican movement is riddled with.

Now, can we get on with a constructive debate about ideas?

author by Barrypublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 20:39Report this post to the editors

I believe the only person who used the term " trendy lefty" is himself a follower of the late Ronnie Bunting and a "lefty" . Just not a trendy one . And the critical posts Ive seen ( apart from my personal Indymedia stalker/weirdo ) have been quite constructive in my opinion . Certainly much more constructive and detailed than your post which is very hard to make either head or tail of.

author by bourgeois trendy leftypublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 21:14Report this post to the editors

Ronnie Bunting could have been - and probably was - called a bourgeois trendy lefty by people who disagreed with what he said. But not by those in the IRSM, presumably, because they agree with his ideas.

Karl Marx was a middle class left-wing student, but marxists don't direct that slur at him, only at other leftists for daring to disagree with their 'orthodoxy'.

Charlie Donnelly, a poet from a bourgeois family in Tyrone, who died at 21 fighting to save Spain from fascism, had come in for a lot of flack from his republican congress comrades in Dublin for his espousal of communism.

My point is that calling someone a 'bourgeois trendy lefty' doesn't advance an argument because it doesn't say anything about the ideas being debated - it's just an attempt to shut someone up. Variations on the 'middle class lefty' slur have appeared at several points on this thread.

I'm just calling for that kind of thing to stop.

author by Barry - 32csmpublication date Thu Apr 13, 2006 21:27Report this post to the editors

The story of the Limerick soviet is free to be read here online

http://www.limericksoviet.com/

A very worthwhile read as the book is out of print .

author by meadow boypublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 00:17Report this post to the editors

If it is the actual Walter Mitty character who styles himself Kevin Fulton who posted earlier then his righteous indignation is a bit much. It is hardly an act of heroism to drag someone out into a garden and shoot him in the back Kevin people in 'glasshouses' shouldnt throw stones.

author by Barrypublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 00:40Report this post to the editors

His real name . If it is the actual Mr Keeley the murder of a young IRA volunteer , young Morley , who had the temerity to leave the organisation in Newry stands out as one of his most notorious acts . Mr Keeley and his chums went on to justify shooting the young man in the spine with an assault rifle on the spurious grounds he was an informer , an allegation they had to later withdraw . His murderous associate on the night has been subject to a certain amount of speculation since the release of the OLoan report as being a British agent at the heart of the Omagh tragedy . Despite being named by Keeley to his handlers at the time he has never been questioned over it .

Mr Keeley isthe tubby baldy get in the corner in this photo of a spooks re-union , bottom of page

http://www.jar2.com/cryptome.ru/1/H/four-ruc.htm

author by iosafpublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 16:33Report this post to the editors

the prosperity which they think to drop like crumbs from the table at us are based more than ever in slavery.
I'm in the south of spain watching the daily processions of catholic men in hoods and catholic women in veils the parents of sorrow carrying for one hour stolen gold and silver icons to remember the torture and mocking and murder of a mythical man beyond historical analysis.
& as a nod to diversity they invited a black bishop to be last in the procession. & I dropped my forelocks and put on my little jewish hat and walked smoking my cigarette provoking the KKkathurlicks.
"whats the story morning glory? didn't he rise from the dead to give you shoes and water, mortgages and second cars?"

If i were in Dublin I would turn my back on the fascist military display of our current regime of MAFIA. PHARISEES. HYPOCRITES LIARS
do that for me please.

Related Link: http://indymedia.ie/article/75454
author by Barrypublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 16:57Report this post to the editors

As we speak Provisional Sinn Fein members in Derry are engaged on 2 fronts as regards 1916 commemorations . On the one hand their activists are distributing leaflets condemning the free state governemnt hijacking of the event whie in the real world Provisional Sinn Fein has also confirmed that its sending a team of MPs, TDs and an MEP to the Irish Government`s state commemoration of the 1916 Rising in Dublin on Sunday.

Party vice-president Pat Doherty and his fellow MP Michelle Gildernew, Northern Ireland`s MEP Bairbre de Brun and TDs Arthur Morgan and Sean Crowe will represent the party on the free state governemnt platform in the comapny of the British ambassador and a various assortment of capitalists and criminals as the free stae army , currently protecting the US air base and kidnap centre in Shannon strut past .

On another front concerning 1916 its activists have been identified as responsible for the desecration and destruction of our national flag and the Starry plough in the Creggan estate . 32CSM activists had erected tricolours and starry ploughs along the route which will be taken by the citys National 1916 commemoration parade in Derry on Easter Monday . The numbers who came out to erect the tricolours and starry plough enraged some local high ups who have a major problem with dissent . The same area saw over 500 votes go to an independent republican candidate who stood at the last minute in the areas council elections .

The next day this happened

http://b4.boards2go.com/boards/board.cgi?action=read&id...32csm

, the culprits have been identified .

.

author by Andrew Floodpublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 18:08Report this post to the editors

Tj says Connolly was not a syndicalist. I'm not sure where he gets this idea, after all Connolly was an organiser for the IWW in New York and the IWW is obviously syndicalist. I guess there is room for some confusion because in the US of that period syndicalism (a French term) was not used as a label, Industrial Unionist (which meant the same thing) was.

Connolly himself equated the two terms in his article 'Revolutionary unionism and war' written at the end of 1915 when he said WWI could have been prevented by those "who are familar with the propaganda that from 1905 (founding of IWW - AF) onwards has been know as 'Industralist" in the United States and, through not so accurately, has been called 'Syndicalist' in Europe". I don't see any evidence that he changed this position in the last few months of his life.

Anyway there is a detailed article arguing for Connolly as a syndicalist at http://struggle.ws/wsm/rbr/rbr8/connolly.html

author by By Any Means Necessarypublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 18:34Report this post to the editors

volunteers: took on the world’s number two imperialist power

It is important to put this in a wider political context, as this leadership was not merely a bunch of ageing yuppies, like the Blairites, but a layer of working class fighters forged in the crucible of a life-and-death struggle in the nationalist ghettoes of the north, especially Belfast, taking on the world’s number two imperialist power.

Critiques of them as ‘middle class’ by social workers and teachers belonging to Irish Trotskyist groups which had never summoned up the revolutionary spirit to so much as throw a stone at the occupying imperialist army never much impressed me (and do not today either).

A major problem was simply the objective conditions which the republicans had to confront. They faced not only a powerful imperialist enemy, but also repressive state apparatuses both sides of the border in Ireland. The south, for instance, maintained continual harassment and repression of republicans all the way through the armed conflict of the past generation.

It was much easier to belong to any of the small Trotskyist groups than it was to be in Sinn Féin in any part of Ireland.

They denounced bombings in Britain as if they seriously believed a national liberation struggle against an imperialist power a few miles away, which had incorporated part of the oppressed nation’s territory within its own state, could possibly be won without armed actions, including within the imperialist state.

Of course, Marx and Engels had championed Irish freedom and argued that, as long as British workers remained tied to the apron-strings of the British bourgeoisie in Ireland, they would never attain real class consciousness or achieve anything significant in Britain itself.

Lenin was devastating about the record of the British left of his day in relation to Ireland. The Bolsheviks ensured that one of the conditions of membership of the Third International was that if a party was in an imperialist country and there was a national liberation struggle going on against your government you had to provide it with material support.

Trotsky declared that any British socialist who refused to provide full support for the struggle in Ireland (and India and Egypt) deserved to be branded with infamy, if not with an actual bullet."

author by Phuq Heddpublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 19:33Report this post to the editors

The article which started all this (which is above and I'd suggest you read it before commenting) does not criticise armed struggle. You're arguing about something else. The actual time-period under discussion in the article is when Republicanism was at the height of its powers. If you want to argue about something else I suggest you write a new article and start a new discussion on it. I'll be happy to join you there in critiquing Trotskyist groups.

As pointed out above it looks like the main political ideologies were: syndicalism, nationalism and republicanism. Blended in various combinations and similar to the decision by some anarchists in Spain to co-operate too much with ideologies which are inherently authoritarian and anti-anarchist it may have been a mistake to work with those factions. On the other hand it did get rid of the Brits from part of the island which can't be denied was a good thing. But then on the middle hand it left us with the current shower of home-grown oppressors (whether they're the Catholic fascists of the past of the neo-liberal representative democrats of the present).

author by Barry - 32csmpublication date Fri Apr 14, 2006 20:51Report this post to the editors

The revolution was subject to a foreign inspired counter revolution . It was out manouvred and then outgunned . The events of 1916 and the 1919-21 period were revolutionary events , no matter what the political outlook of the insurgents carrying them out , often a varied political outlook . What followed was organised and deliberate counter revolution with the backing of the very forces most hostile to republican separatism and we are still living with the consequences today .

author by Liam Cahillpublication date Sat Apr 15, 2006 01:30author email liamcahill at indigo dot ieReport this post to the editors

Good man, Barry! Thanks for mentioning my comprehensive web site on the Limerick Soviet of 1919. www.limericksoviet.com
I've noticed a big increase in traffic recently.

Related Link: http://www.limericksoviet.com
author by GPJpublication date Sat Apr 15, 2006 14:23Report this post to the editors

The claim that the politics of republicanism are reactionary still leave me with the bad taste in my mouth that I get when I hear Mr Ahern saying that the IDF are the inheritors of the 1916 revolution.

It cannot be simplistic to train our attention on the supporters and perpetrators of the division of the people on this island. Simply partition ( the elephant in the living room ).

The vision of administration and the programme of work proclaimed at the GPO 90 years ago was truely revolutionary and its legacy is still to realised.

The talk of one million unionists not wanting to share in the 'common ownership' of our economy has for too long ignored their veto on the aspirations of the majority of the Irish working class.

The proclamation is a worthy document and the vision of 1916 is one of a 32 county democratic socialist republic. This is revolutionary in the history of the Irish working class and this aspiration must be supported by all revolutionary groups..the oppressor fears unity on this island..do you want to build the republic or dither and argue about tactics...for another ninety years..we can do it in ten.

Go to your Easter commeration and be inspired again, by the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

author by Barrypublication date Sat Apr 15, 2006 14:29Report this post to the editors

Its a great resource youve hosted there and its good to hear people are making use of it .

As regards the article above Ive further criticisms . Firstly the assertion that Connolly had to drop his beliefs and lower his aims when he rowed in on the 1916 business. Really ? Like theres a copy of a speech or minutes of some meeting were he says " right lads , we're not going to believe in this stuff any more , I want to be pally with these guys and they say I have to forget this socialism stuff "? . When did James Connolly abandon his socialist beliefs ? When did James Connolly stop fighting for them ? When did Pearse , McDermott and McBride tell him he had to ? Ive never once read a scrap of any history which describes this yet I see the same accusatuion time and time again . Or is it the case that 1916 was a struggle for economic rights as well as national ones , as Connolly made clear " the cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour" .

And as regards the proclamation being short on this that and the other , the 1916 proclamation was the brief one page announcement of the creation of an Irish republic with a Provisional government . It was to be read out in the centre of the garrisoned second city of the British empire at the precise moment a revolution started . For it to be worded in an acceptable manner to anarchists Pearse would still have been reading it out when the shells were falling !! The provisional government never got a chance to issue a second proclamation . While modern middle class people may scoff at notions of " august destinies" and the like it should be remembered tha many in that city and elsewhere in Ireland didnt even own a pair of shoes . They were regarded as inferiors to their colonial overlords and many of them believed it and acted like it ( arguably many still do) . Such terminology directed specifically towards the Irish people was to remind them they are every bit as good as those who were from a higher social class , if not better and they had the right to reject their colonialism and take control of their own sovereignty .

author by Tj - IRSM (personal capacity)publication date Sun Apr 16, 2006 04:17Report this post to the editors

I agree with the point just made - that it is not true that James Connolly in anyway abandoned his revolutionary politics. Those who make that claim are perhaps not aware that in 1896 James Connolly founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party. The modern roots of Republican Socialist tradition of resistance goes back even further than Sinn Féin. Connolly's politics were always seperatist - just as Marx was.

Some are not aware of this, or do not want to see it. Connolly understood that national liberation was necessary for a workers' revolution. The events in the six counties should reinforce that analysis!

author by Tj - IRSM (personal capacity)publication date Sun Apr 16, 2006 04:32Report this post to the editors

“Tj says Connolly was not a syndicalist. I'm not sure where he gets this idea, after all Connolly was an organiser for the IWW in New York and the IWW is obviously syndicalist. I guess there is room for some confusion because in the US of that period syndicalism (a French term) was not used as a label, Industrial Unionist (which meant the same thing) was.”

Leaving aside that Industrial Unionism and European syndicalism have different roots, strategies and internal structures, speaking as an ex-Wobblie;

This goes back to my original criticism of dishonesty. What I said was: “There are gross simplifications - for instance, Connolly was not explicitly a syndicalist despite deep similarities.”

Connolly was also a paid organiser for the SLP. He wrote articles about the necessity of the party, etc. That’s not the same as syndicalism once again “despite deep similarities.”

author by corneiliuspublication date Sun Apr 16, 2006 23:36Report this post to the editors

"Armed struggle is peoples politics"

Armed struggle is profit for arms manufacturers, a tragedy for the young men and women who fight, are maimed, truamatised and die. And it destroys land, communities and faith in our deepest nature.

Any "stuggle" that reverts to violence only serves the interests of those who would be most violent.

The 1916 Insurrection was a mistake, and while it is possible to understand why that mistake was made, there's no point in gloryfy-ing it or in repeating it.

I am appalled at how many people still think in terms of the last 15,000 years of 'civilisation', given that the information is readily available that would lead us to listen to our children.

If you want a revolution, learn with your children to be honest, fearless and spiritually free, (as they are all born that way) and be prepared to put up with a little hardship, as are the millions who march in India, South America and other places. And learn to grow your own food!

http://www.naturalchild.com

http://www.johntaylorgatto.com

Related Link: http://www.corneilius.net
author by Andrewpublication date Tue Apr 18, 2006 15:59Report this post to the editors

Sorry for the delay in getting back, it turned out to be a busy weekend. Thanks for continuing the discussion

TJ you seem to be defining syndicalism in a rather exclusive way - for instance as far as I'm concerned it was not at all uncommon in that period for syndicalists to also be members of left and left nationalist parties. There was a debate within syndicalism about the importance - if any - electoralism should be given but if anything the IWW ended up towards the anti-electoral side of that spectrum. Connolly disagreed with the position taken but thought it made little sense to spend energy arguing this in the IWW at that time (1908-11).

Maybe your confusing syndicalism with anarcho-syndicalism? If so anarcho-syndicalism only really developed out of the syndicalist movements in the years after WWI - prior to WW1 syndicalism was so broad as to include not only Connolly and the anarchists but also nationalists including a sizeable minority who actually supported WWI. Anyway it might be useful if you could spell out what you mean by syndicalism and why it would be incompatable with socialist republicanism because at the moment you just appear to be using a different definition of syndicalism than the one I would use.

Barry as you are probably aware Connolly at the end of 1915 was looking at staging an insurrection with just the Citizen Army in early 1916. In January of 1916 he used the Workers Republic (no 13) to lay out what appeared to be the program for this insurrection. This was
“All the railways at once to be confiscated and made public property, no compensation being given to the shareholders. All necessary ships ought at once to be taken from their owners, without compensation and without apology. Let [the Government] take the factories from the manufacturers, and immediately confiscate all the idle land (the enormous quantity of splendid land lying idle in demenses and private estates of the nobility and gentry) and put labourers upon it to grow crops to feed the multitude. As the propertied classes have so shamelessly sold themselves to the enermy, the economic conscription of their property will cause few qualms to whosoever shalll administer the Irish Government in the first days of freedom”

I really don't see how it can be denied that the 1916 proclamation was a very, very much more moderate document than this. And indeed as I outline in the essay during the war of independence the IRA was ordered to prevent workers putting some of these measures into place by themselves, in particular with regard to the land occupations.

There really should be no controversy to this - obviously the Volunteers did not share Connollys socialist program so also obviously any joint statement agreed with them would not reflect his program alone. From looking at the wording of the proclamation it appears that the compromise that was reached was to use the much more general and vague wording of the ICA constitution. I give URL's for the two documents below, the comparision is I think obvious.

1916 Proclamation
http://www.wsm.ie/story/718

ICA constitution
http://www.wsm.ie/story/717

A trival point as to the length of the proclamation. I don't think this was down to how long it would take to read. After all the 1803 proclamation was several times the length of the 1916 one but I haven't heard anyone argue this is because Emmet was a faster reader than Pearse! The 1803 one is also relevant because in one area at least - the confiscation of all church owned land - it was a more radical document.

author by Sean Scholfield - Apolitical wworkerpublication date Mon Dec 04, 2006 21:16Report this post to the editors

Having just got back from Dublin, firstt ime I'd set step in Ireland for twenty years and my first port of call was Kilmainham and Glasnevin so you may guess where my politics lean ever slightly to. What hurts about the whole Dublin thing starts at the 10,000,000 sewing needle in the centre of OCS. Who thought that up? Did someone leave it there by accident. are NASA looking for a fuel rod? Secondly what gave me a sense of slight slight injustice was the Anglomedia style ridiculing on RTE of so called diddly I sh*te (ie cultural Ireland) on the Rodge and Podge show. Yeah i know it's only fun and i did find it quite funny in parts but the whole thing stinks a little of consumerism, blowing the past away by making it look ridiculous and uncool to younger people. The music for example what will become of that if people don't respect it.... It will die on it's ar*e and then a couple of hundred years later it will be the reserve of middle class historians. Embracing the modern age is one thing but if you forget about the past your roots your family history and all, with the help of media which creates a feeling of isolation and the keep up or die culture, keep emptying your pockets and your minds to stay apace with the vacuous society that is slowly being created for you with you as a living breathing statistic and the bar code had you at it's mercy. In Ireland the pace of change in Dublin at least is more speedy than in the British Isles. Just imagine that civil servants in Galway can't get on the housing ladder...this has been a more gradual problem in UK and it is reflected in tyhe lack of Irish nurses or potentials who are not staying in Britain once qualified or even to train. Capitalism is NOT for for you. It is and always has been for the few.
The British institutions are still in place in ireland or rather hey are being let back in and they will try and create the same solitary consumerist paranoia that they have created in their own soil. A warning comes also from Germany again-i n 1989 it was build build build...now there are 5,000,000 unemplyed and the moral of the story is that it all has to be paid for at some point. In England say, admin jobs that paid 25,000 sterling three years ago are now only fetching around 16,000. The government of the UK cunningly exploits migrant workers to meet this demand of bosses for driven down wages...
hospitals are closing wards, departments, doctors were a few months made to sign a new redundancy aggreement in their contracts.which greatly lowered their expected package in the remote chance that they might be laid off....this month err...they have made some redundant....Connolly was right...one thing i can say is that the spirit of Irish people still has the same sparkle as it ever did...and when Europa does fall, (A Mosley expression-the architect of united Europe by the way) I feel and hope it may fall in Dublin first..No I haven't been drinking and I love Ireland and the best thing you can do to begin the stop of this rot is to burn every copy of the Sun Newspaper you come across-this paper was a vicious anti Irish Thatcherite tool whose awful language condemned Irish descent people like myself to violence at school and in the street during the 70s and no Irish person (or English for that matter) should soil his or her hands upon it. I hope I've made some sense. Fell free to floor me with words i can't understand everyone.

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