Irish Republicanism

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Jerome
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Apr 2 2009 21:05
Irish Republicanism

What opinions do people here have on Irish Republicanism? Is opinion split between the brits and irish? Is it opposed because it is nationalism? Is it supported because it is against colonialism? Is it a good rallying tool for Anarchist causes in Ireland?

If this has already been discussed, excuse me, I'm from the States.

nastyned
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Apr 2 2009 21:33

It is opposed because it is nationalism.

Fletcher
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Apr 3 2009 12:23

You would be hard pressed to find anyone in Ireland who calls themself an anarchist and who is not opposed to Irish republicanism. Irish republicans see the nation as being the uniting factor in politics. They, like the majority of northern politicans, are sectarian in their outlook. Even when campaigning on 'bread and butter issues' the emphasis is always on what can we get for 'our community' at the expense of the other.

However where you may find a difference in the approach of anarchists is when we try and discuss the causes of the conflict / sectarian divisions.

I would argue that sectarian division, whether violently expressed or social, is a by product of the initial British occupation and the subsequent creation of the northern state itself. I would also say that there are times when we can work with republicans, in the same way that we do with other reformist and pro capitalist parties, in order to win reforms. This in no way means we agree with them and we always need to be aware that at the end of the day they have a completely different agenda which directly opposes what we stand for.

There seems to be another current of thought within Irish anarchism which would equate republicanism with loyalism and would take a 'plague on both your houses' attitude to the conflict.

While there are definite and real divisions of opinion it must be said that these should not be divisions that prevent people working together and indeed if a real anarchist movement is to emerge in Ireland (as opposed to small left sects) then that movement needs to be able to accommodate disparate opinions on some issues as long as there is a joint understanding and agreement on a core set of values.

As for the opinion of British anarchists on Ireland that varies from those who were content to act as cheerleaders for Repubicans to those who would hold similar opinions to those held by the various strands ofIrish anarchist thought.

knightrose
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Apr 3 2009 13:33
Quote:
There seems to be another current of thought within Irish anarchism which would equate republicanism with loyalism and would take a 'plague on both your houses' attitude to the conflict.

Interestingly these tend to be the ones from Northern Ireland. Having grown up with it perhaps they have a less than rosy view of things.

petey
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Apr 3 2009 13:35
weeler wrote:
JeromeI wrote:
If this has already been discussed, excuse me, I'm from the States.

mhm

you gotta problem widdat?

Liam_Derry wrote:
They, like the majority of northern politicans, are sectarian in their outlook. Even when campaigning on 'bread and butter issues' the emphasis is always on what can we get for 'our community' at the expense of the other.

true, and it was the sectarianism, more that the nationalism, that turned me away. it wasn't always like this, but it is now.

Fletcher
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Apr 3 2009 14:23
knightrose wrote:
Interestingly these tend to be the ones from Northern Ireland. Having grown up with it perhaps they have a less than rosy view of things.

Well given that I am from the north myself I would have to disagree to a point. It's nothing to do with having a rosy view of things or not. It has to be said that taking the 'youse are all as bad as each other view' is actually alot easier at times and lets people off having to confront things that their background or previous opinions might make them uncomfortable doing.

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Django
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Apr 3 2009 15:46
Liam_Derry wrote:
knightrose wrote:
Interestingly these tend to be the ones from Northern Ireland. Having grown up with it perhaps they have a less than rosy view of things.

Well given that I am from the north myself I would have to disagree to a point. It's nothing to do with having a rosy view of things or not. It has to be said that taking the 'youse are all as bad as each other view' is actually alot easier at times and lets people off having to confront things that their background or previous opinions might make them uncomfortable doing.

I don't really understand. I mean, I know that there's a difference between the labour party and the Tories in terms of their origins, and I've had to stand next to people on the labour left on various campaigns and demos, have supported strikes called by labour-affiliated unions etc. I still have an 'a plague on both your houses' approach to labour and the tories though, because they're both capitalist parties and are part of the capitalist system.

Fletcher
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Apr 3 2009 16:31

As anarchists we oppose republicans since they are nationalist and sectarian. However we should also realise that there is a difference in the reasons for that nationalism and the reasons behind british nationalism in Ireland (as represented by loyalism). The British state is responsible for the creation of the conflict in the north of Ireland and republicanism was a response to that which filled a major vacuum due to the absense of any left alternative to the northern state.

There are those within anarchist circles in the north who in my opinion take the easy option of tarring the brits, the republicans and the loyalists all with the same brush. Republicans did not create the circumstances which lead to violence in the north - their response however was self defeating and did help continue the division.

Others prefer to take a "don't mention the war" approach which only leads to brushing hard questions under the table.

Terry
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Apr 3 2009 18:00
Liam_Derry wrote:
Republicans did not create the circumstances which lead to violence in the north - their response however was self defeating and did help continue the division.

Clearly hundreds and hundreds of teenagers would not have joined the IRA in the 1969 to 1972 period without the violence of unionist crowds and the violence of the local and central governments, at first in response to the civil rights movement. However there was an organised political tendency existing prior to August 1969 which aimed at launching a military campaign to unite Ireland (ie the older heads who formed the Provos) - with often little or no connections to day to day conditions in the North (ie no matter what it was like they would still want a military campaign). A tendency which then took advantage of the situation. Furthermore the ideology of the Provos was that promoted by the Irish state and was already widespread in the popular culture - which was surely one factor in determining what shape the response to repression took.

Liam_Derry wrote:
I would argue that sectarian division, whether violently expressed or social, is a by product of the initial British occupation and the subsequent creation of the northern state itself.

Well the first thing that sectarian division is a by-product of Ireland being part of the territory of the British state originally I think is pretty uncontrovorsial - I'm sure it is probably possible to argue about it but that seems of limited use, if by the northern state you mean Stormont 1920 to 1972 (or Northern Ireland 1920 to 2009) well sectarian division was around before then, we might say that the Stormont set up reinforced it - much as we would say of the Provos.

Surely the only relevant question along these lines today is if British Imperialism/the constitutional status of Northern Ireland/state is what determines the continuing sectarian division - that is, as I recall, the traditional republican stance on the matter. That position then would hold that you can remove the causes of conflict by removing the British state from Ireland.

capricorn
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Apr 3 2009 20:11

Irish Republicanism has always been the curse of the working class in Ireland. Talk about tail-ending the left-wing of a national bourgeoisie... and a would-be national bourgeoisie that was prepared to kill workers to gets its objective. Which in the end has amounted to little more than a separate trough for local politcians to get their snouts into and painting the pillar boxes green. And people kill and die for that ! The sooner Irish Republicanism and its theory and practice of "physical force" dies out the better. Give the workers in the North a break and let them get on with their everyday lives without the additional problem of having to dodge bombs. Irish Republicanism is now just a pernicious left-over from the past that has no relevance for the national bourgeoisie let alone the wotking class. Agreed, it would have died out in the 1960s if the Unionist politicians in the North hadn't been so pig-headed (but that was par for the course).

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PartyBucket
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Apr 3 2009 21:05
Liam_Derry wrote:
There are those within anarchist circles in the north who in my opinion take the easy option of tarring the brits, the republicans and the loyalists all with the same brush.

If maintaining a consistently anarchist position, instead of offering mealy mouthed "Yeah but....." semi - apologies for republicanism is the 'easy option', then yeah.

Jerome
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Apr 3 2009 22:06

Wasn't the IRA explicitly Socialist in the 1970's? And would a Anarchist movement, if created in Ireland, be split between the Northern and Southern states?

Skips
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Apr 4 2009 15:15
Jerome wrote:
Wasn't the IRA explicitly Socialist in the 1970's? And would a Anarchist movement, if created in Ireland, be split between the Northern and Southern states?

I think they did use socialist rhetoric. More recently I think the INLA were the more socialist...but they got kicked into shape i think by the provos...Weeler and the other irish will fill you in.

Fletcher
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Apr 4 2009 18:03
notch8 wrote:
If maintaining a consistently anarchist position, instead of offering mealy mouthed "Yeah but....." semi - apologies for republicanism is the 'easy option', then yeah.

I wasn't aware that anyone in this discussion was offering mealy mouthed apologies for republicanism. I was trying to point out that choosing to ignore the facts simply because they are difficult to deal with or may at times make us uncomfortable doesn't help move things forward.

We do not live a society which is perfectly shaped for anarchist revolution. We have to engage with people where they are and deal with the situations as they present themselves, not as we would wish them to be.

We live a a sectarian society where our class is massively split and in working to overcome that division we will always come up against arguments as to why people are divided and how it came about. Simply side stepping the issue won't win any arguments.

PS: Notch8 you might want to check your profile also http://libcom.org/profile/profile_group-membership/Orangise! - I think you have a typo in there in your groups name. At least I assume its a typo!!!

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PartyBucket
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Apr 4 2009 19:44
Liam_Derry wrote:
I wasn't aware that anyone in this discussion was offering mealy mouthed apologies for republicanism. I was trying to point out that choosing to ignore the facts simply because they are difficult to deal with or may at times make us uncomfortable doesn't help move things forward.

Does paying lip service to republican victim mentality?

Liam_Derry wrote:
We do not live a society which is perfectly shaped for anarchist revolution. We have to engage with people where they are and deal with the situations as they present themselves, not as we would wish them to be.

We live a a sectarian society where our class is massively split and in working to overcome that division we will always come up against arguments as to why people are divided and how it came about. Simply side stepping the issue won't win any arguments.

As youve just stated, there are different opinions as to why division came about / was perpetuated...you continually advocate that anarchists should simply accept that is was all because of the British presence...the 'anti-imperialist' position. Organise! have been pointing out for some time that this is an extremely problematic position to take in relation to the NI situation, for anarchists. In an earlier post you talked about 'hard questions'. Will saying that 'the conflict is a by-product of partition and British rule' adequately answer the 'hard questions' you might get from someone who was a victim of republican violence?
Accepting the basically anti-imperialist position is in my opinion the easier option to take, as it allows you to sit reasonably comfortably within the 'left'.
Youve also stated that you think anarchists can work with republicans on specific issues, and I dont disagree with you, so do you think we should be prepared to work with loyalist groups too? After all, on a pro-choice demo youre more likely to end up beside the PUP than beside Sinn Fein...

Liam_Derry wrote:
PS: Notch8 you might want to check your profile also http://libcom.org/profile/profile_group-membership/Orangise! - I think you have a typo in there in your groups name. At least I assume its a typo!!!

Nah its not a typo, its just to see who'll bite.......wink

Fletcher
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Apr 6 2009 14:14
notch8 wrote:
Does paying lip service to republican victim mentality?

If you are suggesting that is what I was doing, by stating that the issue isn't as simple as denouncing both sides as wrong and refusing to discuss the causing of the conflict, then you are deluded.

Why does no one from Organise ever seem able to debate the issue of partition and the republican response to it without getting offensive and starting to denounce people as republcan apologists. Whether it is the intention or not (which I assume it is not) Organise come across as one sided and pro-british when it comes to the question of the north.

I am not a republican and have no time at all for their deadend politics or struggle. However this does not equate to blaming them for the conflict.

In the same way that we can argue against American/British agression in the middle east and against Israel in Gaza without supporting Hamas or Islamic militants, we can take a position against British involvement in Ireland without supporting the republican movement.

Please don't deflect the arguement by throwing insults about people being apologists for republicans.

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PartyBucket
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Apr 6 2009 14:15
Liam_Derry wrote:
Why is no one from Organise ever able to debate the issue of partition and the republican response to it without getting offensive and seeming overtly one side

I love being accused of being one-sided simply because we're not one-sided in favour of republicanism.

I also love how its really important 'who started it', as if that should have any relevance to what anarchists do in 2009. How far back should we delve to apportion 'blame'? Partition? Plantation? Big Bang?

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Django
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Apr 6 2009 14:27

Liam, I still don't understand what you are trying to say here. That we should offer no support to Irish republicanism but be tactful when criticising them, because they didn't start it? That we should be nicer when criticising them than when we criticise unionists? Otherwise all this stuff about who started the conflict is academic.

We were pretty active in progandising around Gaza and were upfront in taking an 'a plague on both your houses' approach, as Hamas are scumbags with bugger all to offer people in Gaza. Doesn't mean you can't say that conflict was massively assymetrical in terms of deaths or whatever, but I don't think that really applies to NI.

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Whether it is their intention or not Organise come across as one sided and pro-british when it comes to the question of the north.

Give over. I have a lot of respect for the fact they don't pussyfoot around and can talk clearly on the matter.

Fletcher
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Apr 6 2009 14:30

Well done notch8 - another well expressed argument there.

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Apr 6 2009 14:35
Liam_Derry wrote:
Well done notch8 - another well expressed argument there.

Which has elicited the nothing response above.

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Choccy
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Apr 6 2009 14:51

Well if we're going to ask the 'really hard questions' Liam is going on about what about the fact, whether you like it or not, that unionists in terms of population demographics are in the slight majority, and have historically been so for generations. Do you think this would be a wise emphasis for class-struggle anarchists in the north to make? I don't.

I mean if we're going to get into shit like this that has nothing to do with class politics, it could be argued that the actual make-up of the NI population now is more salient to the argument than 'them-uns starting it' a hundred years ago.

But we wouldn't pursue that line of argument, because it raises the wrong questions, and has nothing to offer us in terms of going forward as a class.

'yeah yeah I'm not a republican or anything like, but before do any of this class struggle business, can we just agree that it was the Brits what started it? cos it's essential for class struggle that we answer this 'really hard question''

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Apr 6 2009 16:13
Liam_Derry wrote:
we can take a position against British involvement in Ireland without supporting the republican movement.

I fail to see then how this amounts to any more than a call for Irish 'self determination'. And its not like US involvement in Iraq, or Israel in Gaza, as there is not a large chunk of the Iraqui population that self-identifies (whether we like it or not) as American, or a large number of Gazans who self-identify as Israeli.
Or are you saying that getting rid of the border would be some kind of necessary or helpful 'first step' toward the spread of genuine class politics here? If so, then thats a notion that has much more to do with left republican stages theory than with anarchism.

Liam_Derry wrote:
Please don't deflect the arguement by throwing insults about people being apologists for republicans.

But its perfectly acceptable for you to accuse me of being 'pro-British' just because I dont share your opinions on republicans?

knightrose
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Apr 6 2009 16:42

In the past it was quite dangerous for people to espouse the views Organise does. . Even quite liberal people calling for unity across the religious divide got murdered. I'm certain that the ultra unionists recognised their position for what it was and didn't make the mistake of seeing it as pro-British. As I recall the SPGB's group there (the World socialist Party of Ireland) had to stop speaking in public and they were hardly a threat to anyone.

Fletcher
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Apr 6 2009 18:19
Choccy wrote:
Well if we're going to ask the 'really hard questions' Liam is going on about what about the fact, whether you like it or not, that unionists in terms of population demographics are in the slight majority, and have historically been so for generations. Do you think this would be a wise emphasis for class-struggle anarchists in the north to make? I don't.

The vast majority of people also are pro capitalist, religious, many are homophobic and many racist. However those facts don't let us determine our politics so why should whether someone sees themself as British or Irish for that matter. We have to argue to change peoples minds on many issues. We are neither British nor Irish and such labels only serve the interests of the ruling class.

I perhaps was over board in saying that Organise appear pro british. However at the end of the day the division of our class by an artificial border (created as a result of British imperialism in Ireland) is a division, like others that divide our class, that will have to go as a consequence of rising class consciousness in this country. As indeed should all borders.

Fletcher
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Apr 6 2009 18:25
knightrose wrote:
In the past it was quite dangerous for people to espouse the views Organise does. . Even quite liberal people calling for unity across the religious divide got murdered. I'm certain that the ultra unionists recognised their position for what it was and didn't make the mistake of seeing it as pro-British. As I recall the SPGB's group there (the World socialist Party of Ireland) had to stop speaking in public and they were hardly a threat to anyone.

Not sure where you get your info on murders of liberals. It's not something I recall but I could be mistaken.

As for it having been dangerous to espouse the views Organise does I would say the contrary was the case. Indeed I recall many years ago a member of Organise saying that he couldn't go on a particular protest march, not because he didn't agree with it, but because it could be seen as being pro republican and he was afraid to be seen on it. So in that sense taking the stance that they have taken was actually the easy and safe option.

Deezer
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Apr 7 2009 12:47
Liam_Derry wrote:
Choccy wrote:
Well if we're going to ask the 'really hard questions' Liam is going on about what about the fact, whether you like it or not, that unionists in terms of population demographics are in the slight majority, and have historically been so for generations. Do you think this would be a wise emphasis for class-struggle anarchists in the north to make? I don't.

The vast majority of people also are pro capitalist, religious, many are homophobic and many racist. However those facts don't let us determine our politics so why should whether someone sees themself as British or Irish for that matter. We have to argue to change peoples minds on many issues. We are neither British nor Irish and such labels only serve the interests of the ruling class.

I perhaps was over board in saying that Organise appear pro british. However at the end of the day the division of our class by an artificial border (created as a result of British imperialism in Ireland) is a division, like others that divide our class, that will have to go as a consequence of rising class consciousness in this country. As indeed should all borders.

Cheers Liam but this is clearly based on a partial view of history.

You are of course right in that we should identify neither with Irish or British nationalism but the creation of partition was not the preferred option of 'British imperialism' in Ireland, the preferred option for the vast majority of the ruling class in Britain was Home Rule within the commonwealth for the whole Island. And it is sort of essential to point out that the British ruling class had different factions with different preferred options, as had the different factions in the emergent Irish ruling class that consolidated around Unionism and Nationalism.

But a couple of things fucked up 'British imperialism's' preferred option, one was the fact that 'constitutional' nationalists, the Irish Parliamentary Party, were decimated by Sinn Fein electorally in the south and west of Ireland - the other was political and threatened military opposition to Home Rule from Unionists in the northeast of Ireland.

Given that we are all part of a broader European Union these days it appears a bit weird to claim our class is divided by the border, we really aren't, the issues that impact upon our class (as a class) a strikingly similar if not identical. To demand an end to partition as a priority in relation to opposition to other, all equally artificial by-the-way, borders (which should be expressed in terms of working class solidarity and internationalism) should not be done in language that looks like its excusing the activities of dissident Irish nationalists.

There will always be 'resistance' cos the 'Brits' still occupy 'our' fourth green field is reactionary nonsense - even the Shinners have no more time for this rhetoric.

Deezer
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Apr 6 2009 18:57
Liam_Derry wrote:
knightrose wrote:
In the past it was quite dangerous for people to espouse the views Organise does. . Even quite liberal people calling for unity across the religious divide got murdered. I'm certain that the ultra unionists recognised their position for what it was and didn't make the mistake of seeing it as pro-British. As I recall the SPGB's group there (the World socialist Party of Ireland) had to stop speaking in public and they were hardly a threat to anyone.

Not sure where you get your info on murders of liberals. It's not something I recall but I could be mistaken.

As for it having been dangerous to espouse the views Organise does I would say the contrary was the case. Indeed I recall many years ago a member of Organise saying that he couldn't go on a particular protest march, not because he didn't agree with it, but because it could be seen as being pro republican and he was afraid to be seen on it. So in that sense taking the stance that they have taken was actually the easy and safe option.

One member of Organise! said this to you many years ago, ah, you've settled the argument then. Organise! members have been attending marches that could be regarded as 'republican' over the very many years you have been absent from class struggle politics Liam. There have been discussions as to when it is no longer enough to be in support of the aim of a particular rally or generally agreeable to the issues that it is organised around and when you decide that the message being sent out by the majority of those participating is such that there seems little point in attending.

edited to add - though if the person inquestion lived in a predominantly 'loyalist' area would you have them attend and face the potentially violent reaction of people from their community if they were seen on the march/rally in question? Its never really been an issue for me, although that potential has always been present, but you are conflating the very understandable position of one member of Organise! with the actions of an organisation that attended Bloody Sunday commemoration marches, anti-internment rallies etc., for years.

knightrose
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Apr 6 2009 18:52

A lad called Sean Armstrong, murdered in the 70s for trying to bring Catholic and Prod kids together.

A mate of mine driven out of Belfast cos his dad (a builder) employed prods and catholics.

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Apr 6 2009 19:01
Deezer wrote:
Organise! members have been attending marches that could be regarded as 'republican' over the very many years .

And mostly quickly wishing we hadnt bothered, lately, given how theyve turned out.

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Apr 6 2009 19:30
Liam_Derry wrote:
Choccy wrote:
Well if we're going to ask the 'really hard questions' Liam is going on about what about the fact, whether you like it or not, that unionists in terms of population demographics are in the slight majority, and have historically been so for generations. Do you think this would be a wise emphasis for class-struggle anarchists in the north to make? I don't.

The vast majority of people also are pro capitalist, religious, many are homophobic and many racist. However those facts don't let us determine our politics so why should whether someone sees themself as British or Irish for that matter. We have to argue to change peoples minds on many issues. We are neither British nor Irish and such labels only serve the interests of the ruling class.

You might want to-re-read what I wrote then:
Do you think this would be a wise emphasis for class-struggle anarchists in the north to make? I don't.
You're not even making a point different to me here. I'm arguing precisely that anything approaching nationlaist politics or identity is irrelevant to our class interests, a historically redundant question of 'who started it' is one of those things.

liam wrote:
I perhaps was over board in saying that Organise appear pro british.

You weren't 'overboard', you were simply wrong.

liam wrote:
However at the end of the day the division of our class by an artificial border (created as a result of British imperialism in Ireland) is a division, like others that divide our class, that will have to go as a consequence of rising class consciousness in this country. As indeed should all borders.

Well of course all class struggle anarchists should be internationalists and want to get rid of all borders, but removing partition so wouldn't remove the border, it's just make it a bigger one, whether we're ruled by an irish government or british one really is of no interest to me, I don't wnat to be governed full stop.

Redee
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Apr 6 2009 20:09

I believe that politics with a small 'p' have always taken a back seat to sectarian Politics. There really isn't an aternative here to engage the masses other than the mainstream Orange and Green politics. Sectarianism has been the greatest tool of the capitalist in keeping the working class from properly investigating/questioning class struggle and engaging in politics that could genuinely make a difference to the lives of so many people 'United we Conquer - divided we fall'. More effort needs to be made by all socialist/anarchist groups to engage with the ordinary person whether Republican, Nationalist or Unionist - or someone like me confused and looking for a way forward that does not focus on national identity but on real 'bread & butter' issues. Too many people here have never had a real chance to explore real politics.