Irish Republicanism

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Choccy's picture
Choccy
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Apr 6 2009 20:31

Yep, I really don't see how 'who started it?' is in any way a useful or interesting question for anyone getting into class struggle politics.
I mean it really has no relevance any more to the issues we face daily.
When stuff like the Visteon occupation and sacking of pregnant migrant workers is going on, it's clear where the focus of our politics should be.

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back2front
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Apr 7 2009 09:29

Irish history was and is continually plagued by an unfortunate tendency to reflect all opinion through nationalism, either orange or green, as if that were the sole means with which to understand past, present and future. There's far more to it than that, shades within shades, those who tried to stand apart and those immigrant workers who were caught up in it all.

From an anarchist perspective we see that nationalism, under whatever guise, has been the bane of working people throughout history but as one observant poster above remarked, where does that history begin? For example do we go back to pre-viking times when Irish raiding parties were the scourge of Britain, when Irish cheftains ruled large areas of Britain (e.g. Northumbria for over 100 years according to Robert Kee) thus creating a perennial fear that the Irish would dominate Britain? Do we start from the Vikings who brought their British slaves to Dublin thus enforcing the notion that Ireland spelled trouble for Britain and that the British had better do someting to check the Irish? Do we jump forward and look to the Norman (French) conquest of Britain and Ireland? Or do we begin only when the British established themselves? Remember that the the so-called original occupation was not by the British but by Norman adventurers who eventually, though not always, allied with the ascending British monarchy.

We know of the tyrrany exacted by subsequent British administrations, and those Irish lords allied to the Crown so does this have any bearing? Do we jump to 1798 or 1916, 1921 or 1969 to begin our analysis? You see the problem with history is when and where you draw the line and how you use your selective agenda to present your case. As mentioned I would accept that there are other viewpoints, though these do tend to be more modern, such as anarchism.

The blame game is an equal dead-end. As Deezer points out the partition of Ireland was not wanted by anyone on the island, neither unionist or nationalist but was enforced by the British to create the pro-British Unionist ascendency who abused the working classes from BOTH sides of the divide. We could thus blame the British, or we could blame the Unionist ascendency that created the class division along sectarian lines. The fact does remain that the rise of Peoples' Democracy and the Civil Rights Movement (itself a relection of a new international political awareness) and the subsequent rise of paramilitarism was reactionary and by provocation over decades of misrule.

But that is only looking at history from a certain point and ignores what went on before. Do we then blame the PIRA when they split off from the OIRA for creating and perpetuating a tradition of sectarianism? Or is that the fault of the UDA and the UVF? The difficult question is not who started it but who will put an end to it. Any other difficulty is merely the use of selective history to define an agenda within the confines of dualistic nationalist antagonism.

For example if I were to try and organise within a Loyalist community what use would it be if I made the stance that it was simply the British who were at fault? Wouldn't it be better to offer an analysis from a perspective of Class struggle? Whatever badge is worn it is the same old story of those who have and those who have not, of the perpetuation of elites by force or monoculturalism.

While we continue to speak in orange or green or by the union flag we will never be able to speak for workers. The blame lies with the rich and their traditions of imperialism, dressed in religion and nationalism - divide and conquer.

Republicanism has attempted to cover its nationlist agenda in socialism and working class chic but remains anathema to workers everywhere. Remember it was republicans who stopped organisations such as BAG (Belfast Anarchist Group) through threat and intimidation. Both Loyalists and Republicans wrecked any attempt to offer a different perspective to their own narrow agendas.

The current phase of development might also be looked at in terms of class struggle. The Good Friday Agreement, although it silenced the majority of the weapons (and was a good thing looked at in that light) was also the way through which Free-Market economy based on the Washington Concensus opened the gates for capitalism and the exploitation thus continues. It is vital to see the puppet masters in Brussels at work here too!

The history of the North, like anywhere else, is of rich over poor and that is where analysis should concentrate, rather than in the cul-de-sac of selective history.

jack white
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Apr 7 2009 15:53
back2front wrote:
Remember it was republicans who stopped organisations such as BAG (Belfast Anarchist Group) through threat and intimidation.

More info on this?

baboon
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Apr 7 2009 19:35

I agree with the general tone of Back2's post.
While I don't think any revolutionary would contest the role of British imperialism in Ireland and the atrocities visited on the Irish populations, remember that it wasn't the working class in Britain that did this but the bourgeoisie. The argument that the working class in any one country should pay for the actions of that country's government (I'm not saying that's being used here) is the argument of the 7.7 London bombers - indeed it was the argument of Bush and Blair and the bourgeoisie overall (Sri Lanka, today).

So, a denounciation of British imperialism's role in Ireland but the question of a political framework has to be the important one. If we take the date of WWI, not for the date but for the historical/political overview, then we can see that Irish nationalism also became part of the imperialist world with its overtures towards Germany - Britain's main imperialist rival. This dalliance of Irish nationalism with Britain's imperialist rivals continued during WWII and up to this day.

One can take a position, as these boards generally did, against Hamas in the recent Gaza war, without supporting in any way the diabolical atrocities of Israel. Django make this point effectively above.

As detailed in the ICC's latest World Revolution (I can't make links), "Ireland too shows the choice is socialism or barbarism", the economic crisis is hitting hard and in this lies the "simple" truth that all workers are under attack and all workers need to unify. In the past, Irish workers across the divide have shown that this is possible, with a small example of the postal workers a couple of years ago. Before workers come together, and afterwards, there is no doubt that the Irish and British bourgeoisie's will use all the sectarianism and division at their disposal - they've spent decades building it up and it's become more entrenched since the "peace process".

Skips
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Apr 7 2009 20:44

What do the irish anarchists think then of the British Military presence in Northern Ireland?

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Apr 7 2009 21:16
sickdog24 wrote:
What do the irish anarchists think then of the British Military presence in Northern Ireland?

As for Organise!, we are anti-militarists. The fact that they're 'British' troops is not the basis on which we oppose them, but in terms of our opposition to militarism, war and standing armies, rather than opposition on national grounds.
Of course, some other anarchists have called for 'Troops Out' which is basically a republican slogan and fails to take account of the fact that to many people in NI, they are simply UK troops stationed in a part of the UK, like they might be at Aldershot, for example.
Also they are rarely if ever seen patrolling with cops anymore, even after the recent dissident shootings, checkpoints were conducted exclusively by cops.

capricorn
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Apr 8 2009 05:28

The Easter Rebellion of 1916 still has a most baneful effect in Ireland. So, too, do the events of 1912 and the marshalling of naked religious bigotry by the political agents of local capitalism. Here treason and the threat of violence was Unionism’s weapon against the governing British authority (itself ultimately based to armed coercion) if it ceded to Sinn Fein’s demand for legislative power in Ireland to institute trade protection for a nascent southern capitalism.

Where does the wrong begin? Good question.

With Pope Adrian IV when he gifted Ireland to King Henry II of England because the Irish hierarchy favoured a stricter imposition of a foreign feudalism in Ireland where the culture and economic practices of the old Gaelic tribes conflicted with the theological imperialism of the Roman church and its self-interested doctrine of the ‘divine right of kings’?

Should England have deliberately created and institutionalised religious sectarianism in the early 17th century and later induced division within future economic development by the device of Ulster Custom?

Should a fledgling Presbyterian bourgeoisie not have allied itself to the concept of armed struggle for an all-Ireland republic in the late 18th century when its class brethren in England was deemed to be discriminating against Irish trade?

Should the Irish Catholic hierarchy not have abided by their Church’s promulgated practice of abiding by its temporal powers when the northern state was established in 1921?

More immediately pertinent perhaps, in 1962 when the IRA virtually surrendered and admitted its lack of support from Irish nationalists for armed struggle, should the Stormont regime have denied republicans, as it did, the right to pursue their struggle by peaceful means?

The ruling class and its political agents make the rules and draw up the battlelines in their own interests, The selective presentation of history is part of that process. Republicanism was the ideology under which the fledgling capitalist class in the south tried to marshall popular and working class support for its interest in protection for its infant industries from British competition. Unionism was the ideology under which the established capitalist class of the north marshalled support for its interest in not being cut off from the rest of the free-trade British Empire behind the tariff walls of an independent Irish state.

The working-class response ought to have been, and still ought to be: a plague on both your houses, especially since, with the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement of 1965 and both Ireland and Britain joining the Common Market, this is no longer an issue dividing the capitalist class in Ireland. The Republican/Unionism split today is just some misguided workers fighting the bourgeoisie's battles of yesterday.

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Apr 8 2009 06:26
jack white wrote:
back2front wrote:
Remember it was republicans who stopped organisations such as BAG (Belfast Anarchist Group) through threat and intimidation.

More info on this?

I am currently involved in writing a history of anarchism in the north and this information has come to me via that research. Hopefully I'll be able to view BAG minutes in the near future and I will get back to you on this.

It is well known that political ideas that did not tie with Republicanism were not welcome in Republican areas.

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Apr 8 2009 06:33
sickdog24 wrote:
What do the irish anarchists think then of the British Military presence in Northern Ireland?

The military presence maintained by Britain in the North has been considerably reduced in recent years however that process could be easily reversed. The answer to your question depends on whether the problem is looked at through nationalism (a misjudgment in my opinion as already mentioned) or from an anarchist perspective. As anarchism is against militarism the answer is fairly obvious really.

capricorn
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Apr 8 2009 07:36

Yes, Irish Troops Out of Ireland!

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Choccy
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Apr 8 2009 15:47

The Irish army is pretty amazing, didn't they send their one boat to Rossport?

capricorn
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Apr 8 2009 17:19

Yes, but what about the other Irish Army, the one that runs the all-Ireland Irish Republic proclaimed at Easter 1916 and endorsed (they say) by the last all-Ireland election of 1919?

Bobby
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Apr 9 2009 14:41

As Roy Garland, a unionist political commentator put a few weeks ago writing in the Irish News- with a few notable exceptions why is that unionist politicians always take the reactionary right-wing approach on any topical issue. In fact even before they open their mouth you know what their going to say?

knightrose
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Apr 9 2009 16:24

Because they are reactionary right-wing politicians?

Out of interest, what position do republicans take on gay rights, abortion, drugs? That's not a piss take. It's a real question - and I know it covers a multitude of sins.

Don't forget there are also reactionary left-wing politicians.

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Apr 9 2009 23:36

Given I was a (socialist) republican for many years, and of course spoke with others, the general view I encountered was very much liberal views towards gay rights, abortion, feminism, etc. Drugs are obviously a point of contention, being a big cause of communal turmoil. Bit of an authoritarian streak on them there, as seen by TADD (Tallaght Against Dealing Drugs), and other INLA affiliated members, who dealt with drug dealers severely. Ironically, a bit of a sore point, given INLA and IPLO's did they, or didn't they, with regards to pushing drugs themselves.

This is all likely to be worlds apart from what the Provos and the other hardline Catholics would think.

Terry
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Apr 9 2009 21:56

A short somewhat sensational piece here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9NSwOlrhoI - from what looks to be 12 years ago, has a bit on Tallaght Against Drug Dealers.

capricorn
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Apr 10 2009 02:00

And of course they all believe in killing people to get their way, not just in theory (as some armchair r-r-revolutionaries here) but in practice here and now. Which makes them pretty reactionary in my book.

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Apr 10 2009 15:07
knightrose wrote:
Out of interest, what position do republicans take on gay rights, abortion, drugs? That's not a piss take. It's a real question - and I know it covers a multitude of sins.

Depends on the republicans.

On gay rights Sinn Fein is, to my knowledge, very good. A member told me that there's a rather high quota for gay people either in the PSNI or the Patten report because Sinn Fein demanded it be included. Its possible they were making that up and i can't remember the exact details. And though I don't think quotas do much I was impressed none the less. I don't think other republicans really address it. But I doubt RSF are good on gay rights. And I'd imagine the IRSP is good on it at least on paper.

Abortion, I'm not sure if any have a clear policy. Sinn Fein activists are amongst the most active pro-choice activists in ireland as are other republicans. That said RSF have some cross membership with Youth Defence as far as I'm aware. (They have weekly stalls beside each other outside the GPO.) I also know of Youth Defence fellow travellers who are in Sinn Fein.

Terry's explained the drug thing.

Bobby
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Apr 13 2009 15:45

yep, you are more likely to find yourself working alongside republicans and republican organisations in single-issue campaigns.

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Apr 13 2009 16:26
Bobby wrote:
yep, you are more likely to find yourself working alongside republicans and republican organisations in single-issue campaigns.

This doesn't lead me to thinking that I should support their nationalism over someone else's, just that there is a plurality of opinion within it (as there is in the other nationalism - even if the balance is different, which I'm not sure how much it is.. are there no 'progressive' unionist groups?).

It also doesn't address any of the points about what "they started it" actually has to offer the working class in Ireland. Does it mean we should fight to get rid of the border? How would this benefit the NI working class?

This debate is more than just "some republicans are alright"...

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Apr 13 2009 17:39
Bobby wrote:
yep, you are more likely to find yourself working alongside republicans and republican organisations in single-issue campaigns.

Unless its to do with reproductive rights for women.

Bobby
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Apr 13 2009 19:52

of course, which is why I stated 'more likely'.

Ed, I just thought I would bring this up and Im not implying anything.

Our position paper on the North is quite clear on these issues where we stand.

jack white
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Apr 13 2009 20:08
notch8 wrote:
Bobby wrote:
yep, you are more likely to find yourself working alongside republicans and republican organisations in single-issue campaigns.

Unless its to do with reproductive rights for women.

You'd find Shinners in pro choice groups in Dublin - not in Belfast though?

Bobby
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Apr 13 2009 20:17

Sinn Fein are a very populist party, so I dont dispute individual members are involved in pro-choice groups.

But on paper as political party they are opposed to women's right to choose.
Sure they opposed plans to extend the 1967 Abortion Act

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PartyBucket
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Apr 13 2009 20:21
Bobby wrote:
Sinn Fein are a very populist party, so I dont dispute individual members are involved in pro-choice groups.

But on paper as political party they are opposed to women's right to choose.
Sure they opposed plans to extend the 1967 Abortion Act

Yeah, the only political party in NI with an explicit pro-choice policy is the PUP, although members of other parties may be active in 'personal' capacities.

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Choccy
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Apr 13 2009 21:21

Which shows, if you're selective with the evidence and issues you can make all sorts of claims about the relative 'progressiveness' of individuals within either nationalism.
To conclude, looking at it through those sorts of lenses tells us NOTHING about what either nationalism has to offer the working class here.

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Apr 14 2009 00:12
jack white wrote:
notch8 wrote:
Bobby wrote:
yep, you are more likely to find yourself working alongside republicans and republican organisations in single-issue campaigns.

Unless its to do with reproductive rights for women.

You'd find Shinners in pro choice groups in Dublin - not in Belfast though?

One of the most hard working pro choice activists in Dublin in a Shinner. So down here you definitely find yourself working with SFers even if it has something 'to do with reproductive rights for women'. That said even she'd freely admit that Sinn Fein is not and will probably never be pro-choice.

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Apr 14 2009 08:05

Again, that has nothing to do with whether republicanism is more or less progressive than unionism and still has nothing to do with the question of what does 'they started it' have to offer the Irish working class.

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Choccy
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Apr 14 2009 10:16
Ed wrote:
Again, that has nothing to do with whether republicanism is more or less progressive than unionism and still has nothing to do with the question of what does 'they started it' have to offer the Irish working class.

Exactly, in the north, the only large political group openly pro-choice is the PUP.
It's noteworthy, but says nothing of the respective 'progressiveness' of either nationalism. Georgestapleton, Jackwhite et al just really reeeallly can't help it. It's pretty much in their blood to bend over backwards to find something progressive about republicans wink

Fletcher
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Apr 14 2009 12:12

Sinn Fein can hardly claim any sort of progressive socialist credentials these days, given that they are part of the very government that talking about implementing cuts to make us pay for the current crisis. They may have members who talk like socialists or just various campaings but at the end of the day they are the government who along side their mirror image DUP are charged with managing capitalist interests. While I still hold that we have to address issues such as the border and take positions on things such as state killings etc, we should also be vehemently opposed to everything Sinn Fein stand for. As a party they are no more on the side of socialism than their collegues in the DUP.