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Dublin Opinion >>
Program and Tactics of ULA.
Wednesday February 09, 2011 19:40 by john throne - Facts For Working people loughfinn at aol dot com
ULA, a great opportunity. Program and tactics. It is a pity some groups and many individuals continue with their left sectarianism and refuse to be part.
Large numbers in polls show opposition to the IMF/EU bail out. Yet the ULA while doing well is not able to come close to this level of support . Why is this? We try and raise some questions in this regard here.
It is very good to see the development of the United left Alliance In Ireland. It can only strengthen the working class movement. All left groups and activists should be active within it. Hopefully the ULA will receive substantial support in the election and be able to establish a fighting group of TD's, in the Dail. Our blog is unconditionally for this development. However this is not all there is to say. We must look at the past and look into the future also.
Some of us have been arguing for this development for some years now. It was a mistake that it was not taken then. It was not right to say as some who are now in the ULA did that no progress could have been made. The main reason no steps were taken back then was because of the legacy of left sectarianism in the movement. Too many left groups put what they saw as their own interests ahead of the needs of the movement. It is very good that left sectarianism has been weakened and the ULA has been able to be formed. The ULA reflects the weakening of left sectarianism. But it would be a mistake to think that this damaging phenomenon is gone completely or is gone for good.
There are left groups and activists who to their shame are still not prepared to be part of the ULA. This is a mistake and damaging to the workers movement. This must be stated openly and these groups identified and debated. Rather than directly take them on and risk increasing left sectarianism further left sectarianism as a phenomenon in its own right should be taken on and all groups and individuals should be called on to oppose it. To facilitate this all of us should start by criticizing our own pasts when all on the left practiced left sectarianism.
Also we need to recognize that the ULA itself is a very new phenomenon. The groups that make it up were practicing left sectarianism themselves in the very recent past. We need to recognize these realities and openly identify left sectarianism, the damage it has done and openly and honestly discuss our own role in practicing it and committing ourselves to opposing it in the future.
The other issue in relation to the ULA is the mood in the country. There is clearly support for the ULA and its position of refusing to bail out the bankers, its refusal to accept the IMF/EU bail out. A plurality of people in polls oppose the IMF/EU deal. Yet the ULA support in polls comes nowhere close to the numbers that are opposed to the IMF/EU bail out. Why is this? I believe one reason is that a large section of the population while opposing the bail out do not think the ULA can achieve what it stands for. This raises the question. How can the ULA convince more people that it can affect events? I think there are two aspects to this.
One the ULA has to popularize the idea that there is an alternative (TIAA) and explain clearly this alternative. People are afraid that if the bail out is not accepted the country will go bankrupt. This must be answered. It is not enough to say that it is immoral to bail out the banks. An answer has to be given to what happens if they are not bailed out and they collapse. I believe we have to explain that they should all be nationalized and along with them the country's oil and gas wealth and its major companies with compensation only on the basis of proven need. As well as this all bank accounts to be looked at and those of the rich taxed at a much higher rate than the smaller accounts and all accounts examined to see where the money came from. At the same time approach wikileaks and other such organizations for the information that they have on bank accounts held abroad.
From this we have to make central to our program the establishment of a huge investment fund made up of the wealth of the rich which can then be used to develop the economy. None of it to go to bail out the banks and the corporations, all of it to invest in and build the economy. This idea of building this investment fund from the rich has to be explained and built around as the basis for dealing with the problems economy. It is not enough as Joe Higgins says to say it is immoral to bail out the banks. It is. But people will not put themselves on the line unless they can see a concrete alternative which will work.TIAA has to be concretely explained.
And on tactics. Protests and lobbying and flyering are not enough in this situation. Patient explanation is not enough in this situation. Working people have to see that victories can be won. Mass direct action has to be carried out. the ULA must lead on this. The entire ULA leadership and candidates has to spell out their commitment. Yes it is good to say they will if elected live on an average workers wage. But this is not much. After all workers live on a workers wage. Probable close to a majority live on less than an average workers wage. So this is only important if it is compared to the candidates of the capitalist parties and the union leaders. What has to be looked at is taking this campaign of the ULA in the direction of ending business as usual for the economy and the state. The union leadership should be taking this action through strikes and general strikes. But they are refusing to act. The ULA leadership has to take action and while doing so appeal to all workers union and non union and this action has to be based on the idea that the ULA is not going to go along with business as usual. TIAA and No more business as usual. NMBAU.
What this means is that the ULA, led by its leaders must move to occupy the banks and places where decisions are made in relation to the looting of the country and the bail out. Select banks and occupy them. Select the homes and neighborhoods and businesses of the business people and politicians who have robbed the country and brought it to its knees and occupy them. Call for support for these actions and make it clear that the ULA is in this for the fight and declare that its leaders are going to jail and staying in jail if this is what it takes. End business as usual through mass direct action and call on support from all for this. This is the way to build the movement against the bail out and to build the ULA. People have to see that the ULA is different, that it is fighting to win, that through mass direct action it is no longer accepting business as usual. NMBAU.
I can hear it now. Aye but if you do that the country will be cut off from all credit and trade. The alternative that is now being taken is that the country will be still given credit and trade as long as the criminals and swindlers of the banks and corporations are bailed out. The country, or rather the working people are being blackmailed. There is an alternative - reject the blackmail. Take over the wealth and set up our own investment fund under workers control and management and on this basis establish a democratic planned socialist economy. I can hear the capitalists and their flunkies again. Yes but we will be able to import nothing and the economy will grind to a halt.
It is not the bankers who sail the ships or fly the planes that bring the goods to the country or take the goods from the country. It is the working class in this country and internationally. So our alternative is to reject the international financial criminals and swindlers and their blackmail and instead link with the international working class. The working class can run a financial system which can facilitate trade not swindle the people of the world. The capitalists have proven they cannot run the financial system.
So this is what we have to do and do it in clear unapologetic terms. That is we break with capitalism entirely. That is we break with the IMF, the EU, the entire profit system. This is what has to be spelled out. It is a weakness of the ULA that they are not sufficiently spelling this out. This weakness is reflected in the talk about the IMF/EU bail out being immoral. Of course it is immoral. But his is not the point. Workers know the entire system is immoral. The point is to explain how we can keep the economy going, keep ships and planes transporting goods from the country's shores, keep factories and offices working. The only way to do this is the working class taking over in Ireland and linking with the working class internationally. This has to be spelled out. No to international capitalism. Yes to international socialism.
World wide regimes are shaking. The Egyptian working class unprecedented in their magnificent determination. We have to be able to lift ourselves above the pressures of capitalism and what they say is possible and not possible. We have to see that capitalism is weak and the working class are very angry and ready to struggle if they are given an explanation of the alternative and shown how they can struggle and most important of all how they can win.
The leadership of the ULA should now take action that achieves these results.
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