Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Proclamation of the Irish Republic 1867 as a signifier of Class Struggle

Proclamation of the Irish Republic 1867

The Irish People of the World

We have suffered centuries of outrage, enforced poverty, and bitter misery. Our rights and liberties have been trampled on by an alien aristocracy, who treating us as foes, usurped our lands, and drew away from our unfortunate country all material riches. The real owners of the soil were removed to make room for cattle, and driven across the ocean to seek the means of living, and the political rights denied to them at home, while our men of thought and action were condemned to loss of life and liberty. But we never lost the memory and hope of a national existence. We appealed in vain to the reason and sense of justice of the dominant powers.

Our mildest remonstrance's were met with sneers and contempt. Our appeals to arms were always unsuccessful.

Today, having no honourable alternative left, we again appeal to force as our last resource. We accept the conditions of appeal, manfully deeming it better to die in the struggle for freedom than to continue an existence of utter serfdom.

All men are born with equal rights, and in associating to protect one another and share public burdens, justice demands that such associations should rest upon a basis which maintains equality instead of destroying it.

We therefore declare that, unable longer to endure the curse of Monarchical Government, we aim at founding a Republic based on universal suffrage, which shall secure to all the intrinsic value of their labour.

The soil of Ireland, at present in the possession of an oligarchy, belongs to us, the Irish people, and to us it must be restored.

We declare, also, in favour of absolute liberty of conscience, and complete separation of Church and State.

We appeal to the Highest Tribunal for evidence of the justness of our cause. History bears testimony to the integrity of our sufferings, and we declare, in the face of our brethren, that we intend no war against the people of England – our war is against the aristocratic locusts, whether English or Irish, who have eaten the verdure of our fields – against the aristocratic leeches who drain alike our fields and theirs.

Republicans of the entire world, our cause is your cause. Our enemy is your enemy. Let your hearts be with us. As for you, workmen of England, it is not only your hearts we wish, but your arms. Remember the starvation and degradation brought to your firesides by the oppression of labour. Remember the past, look well to the future, and avenge yourselves by giving liberty to your children in the coming struggle for human liberty.

Herewith we proclaim the Irish Republic.

The Provisional Government.

Historical Backround

It is no accident that this document was written in the same year as Marx’s Das Kapital was first published, and one year before the publication of the Communist Manifesto. Europe’s young intellectuals had been gripped by the philosophies of Socialism and Anarchism, and looked to the Working Class as the only class which could save mankind from the terrible direction it had taken – a direction that was to result in the Gas Chambers and the extermination of millions. Four years after the 1867 Proclamation, the workers of Paris would attempt to create the world’s first workers state – the Paris Commune of 1871, which lasted from March 26 till May 28. During this time the workers formed committies or “communes” for the organisation of life in Paris.

Going through the text adopted by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, we realise that its writers were very much part of this European intellectual zeitgeist. The first paragraph places the struggle firmly in the material economic struggle of the working people, as does the whole document. The complaint is not only that aliens, but that an alien aristocracy, has “usurped our lands, and drew away from our unfortunate country all material riches.” The conflict is put in the terms of class war. Aristocracy versus working people. We see an implicit denial of the right of private property in the words: “The real owners of the soil were removed to make room for cattle, and driven across the ocean to seek the means of living.” The owners of the land are the Irish people – not those who happen to hold title deeds to it. It would not have escaped the attention of the writers that a large number of native Irish graziers had sprung up by 1867. These native Irish strong farmers were still renting the land from Anglo-Irish landlords in 1867, but had been just as vicious as any English landlord in pushing the people off the land to make way for cattle. The Land Act of 1881 transferred half of the land of Ireland over to just 20,000 native Irish graziers – who continued to drive literally millions of people off the land and onto the emmigrant ship. As the noted economist Raymond Crotty pointed out in his essay, “The failed Industrialisation of Ireland in the 19th century,” these 20,000 wealthy native Irish families have de facto ruled Ireland ever since, made the treaty of 1921 and formed the ruling elite of the free state. This small group of families continue to be the power brokers in the free state, their power still based in their ownership of the land of Ireland.

As Marx points out in Das Kapital, the 1867 Proclamation realises that relations/associations in society are based on material conditions – not on any sort of devine right, or genetic determinism (the idea that the rich are rich because they are genetically superior to the working class.) The text states that “justice demands that such associations should rest upon a basis which maintains equality instead of destroying it.” In other words, equlity should be the law which oversees the distribution of material wealth – not who your father was. There can be no justice and no democracy, where wealth is unevenly distributed. Since it would be impossible for every citizen to own exactly the same amount of land, of exactly the same productive potential, land ownership must always lead to inequality and the destruction of democracy. “The soil of Ireland, at present in the possession of an oligarchy, belongs to us, the Irish people, and to us it must be restored.” These words could have been written today. The land remains in the possession of an oligarchy – not only that, but the landless workers must now bail out these oligarchs to the tune of tens of billions of Euro, via the NAMA scheme. The only way to stop NAMA and the enslavement of our children, is for a Revolutionary Proletariat to take the land into its own possession in the form of a workers state.

The Republic, in the 1867 text is seen as the only way workers rights can be secured along with the material basis of those rights – the land of Ireland. Church and state are seperated – how nicely DeValera ignored this along with every other part of the document – and a call is made to the workers of England to join the struggle in solidarity. The enemy is clearly isolated – the landed elite. The Proclamation calls to English workers: “Our enemy is your enemy.” This is a lesson that many of todays Republicans would do well to remember: “As for you, workmen of England, it is not only your hearts we wish, but your arms. Remember the starvation and degradation brought to your firesides by the oppression of labour. Remember the past, look well to the future, and avenge yourselves by giving liberty to your children in the coming struggle for human liberty.”

This document is, tragically, far to the left of the position of many of today’s Republicans – who have fallen under the spell of bourgeois ideology, and will hear nothing said against the rights of landed private property. Many of todays Republicans also follow the dictum of DeValera that “labour must wait.” They say that first we must get the Brits out and then we can think about the social problems. The 1867 Proclamation of the Republic realised that it is the class war that brings the Republic – not the other way around. The Republic exists because of class war. Class war is its raison d'être. The Irish Republic comes about as part of an international class struggle.

Some definitions:

Signifier: Any word which names something. Example the word "car" names a particular type of machine used for transport. Or "love" names a particular type of emotion. The thing named is called the signified.

Master Signifier: These are words which name things that have no actual existence, as a car does or an emotion does, but are rather abstract concepts - such as "republicanism" "democracy" "Christianity" or "state." We say they are signifiers that do not have a particular or concrete signified, in the sense that they are really open or empty concepts can can be filled in in many ways. For example, Fianna Fáil's idea of Republicanism is very different to to say RSF's or the 32CSM's. So what we are to take Republicanism as meaning will depend on who we are listening to. In a sense Republicanism is the sum total of all the definitions of it, and is distinguished more by what lies outside that sum total - for example, monarchy. Equally, the signifier "state" has no concrete signified. If I asked you to show me a state, you would not be able to do it. The state is an empty concept that can be filled in by many differing ideas. Master signifiers are really words of belief. They exist only because we or someone else believes in them. A Master Signifier will exist as long as at least one person believes in it, or we believe that at least one person believes in it. We find that all our language, all the signifiers we use, tend to become centred around these Master Signifiers. "Bread" is not a Master Signifier, its an ordinary signifier that has a concrete signified, i.e. a type of food that we can really eat. But the production and distribution of bread will depend on the Master Signifiers we believe in - such as "free market" or "Communism." Very often the term "Master Signifer" is shortened to "signifier" for ease of use, when its clear from the context that a Master Signifier is being refered to. I often do this below.

The Proclamation of the Republic 1867 as a Master Signifier

Laclau and Mouffe's 1985 book “Hegemony and Socialist Strategy” points out that there is no necessary relationship between reality and the language we use to describe it. Particularly social reality. Indeed, our social reality usually changes to fit the language we are using rather that vice versa. For example, “politically correct” language has moulded social behaviour in many ways, particularly in relation to women and minority groups. PC language does not describe reality, but how reality “should be” according to those who use it. By using a language of “should be,” actual reality can and does change. So by using PC language, a person has taken an ideological position. He or she has decided not to use language to describe what actually happens in the would, but what they wish to happen.

So we see that language is always an expression of an ideological position. If I use PC language I’m making a certain ideological statement, if I don’t use it Im making a different ideological statement. Which one will win out? Its certainly not down to a question of which one best describes reality. Perhaps in Ireland of today, the non PC version best describes the daily reality of life in which sectarianism, racism, sexism and homophobia are rife. That may be the case, but still PC language is pushing out its non PC rival, to the point where the only public figures who will use it are the likes of Iris Robinson – and even she cant do it without threat of going to court. In other words a language that doesn’t really describe reality is pushing out a language that describes it much more accurately.

The same process could be seen in Germany of the 1930s. The Nazis won out over the Communists, not because they described a Germany in crisis more accurately – but because they made their telling of the crisis stick. That there was indeed a crisis – one caused by the Communists, who were being controlled by international Jews. That none of this was true made no difference. The social reality of Germany was moulded to fit the Nazi narrative. Once the Nazis had the hegemonic position, then language meant what they said it meant. Thus a Jew was no longer a term which meant a particular religion or ethnic group, but a term that stood for everything that was wrong with Germany – all the traits that the good German had to purge from him or her self. The term Communist no longer meant someone who wanted a particular type of economic system, but someone who wanted to destroy Germany from within and without. We see the same process here in bourgeois British dominated Ireland, where Republicans are now defined in terms of the GFA, not in terms of the Irish Republic. We are no longer something positive, but refusers, wreckers, criminals and dissidents. As Stalin said: the pen is the sharpest weapon the party has. Who controls language controls and shapes reality. In Nazi Germany, the term “Jew” became the term to which all others related and against which all others were defined. So Communists were on the side of the Jews and thus enemies. Nazis were against the Jews and so were patriots and heroes. In occupied Ireland today “GFA” is the term to which all others relate. In the economic sphere “free market” is the hegemonic term. Those who are for the free market are modern and successful. Those against are out of date loosers. (Though the crisis in capitalism has allowed this hegemony to be seriously challenged.)

So we see that ideology not only gathers itself around a type of language, but needs particularly powerful single terms on which to hang itself. We get what are often refered to as “Master Signifiers.” These are terms like “GFA” “free market” “democracy” “freedom” etc. These terms are a kind of short hand that allow us to know where the speaker is coming from. But more importantly, they are used to dominate the discourse of a nation or even group of nations such as the EU. Think how often the master signifier “democracy” has been used to beat Republicans over the head, and think of all the times Republicans have struggled to defend themselves against it – usually not very successfully. These terms will be fought over continually, with various groups claiming to have the correct definition of them. The term “democracy” will obvious mean very different things to different people – but it is the liberal democratic bourgeois definition that is hegemonic in Europe.

“Class War” is the master signifer of Marxism. All other terms are defined in relation to this one term. Class is considered the one antagonism on which all other antagonisms rest. It’s the term which gives all other terms their meaning. Marxists will not say that bourgeois society is held together by “democracy” or the “free market” but by the oppression of one class by another class. The structures of the bourgeois state – its bureaucracy, army, police and state media – are there to maintain the private property of the ruling elite and to maintain control over the landless workers. Marxists also use another term or master signifer to denote a future time, when it will be possible to wipe out class antagonism. This is refered to as Communism. Again, Communism is a term that is hotly fought over – with the bourgeoisie doing their best to make it stand for the worst evil on earth. However, before a signifier can be fought over, it must be put into the public domain. As we saw with PC language, the very saying of the word “Communism” creates a change in reality – if only to make the ruling class fearful and paranoid about their ill gotten gains.

We see that the Proclamation of the Irish Republic 1867 explicitly recognises class conflict as that which structures the current reality “our war is against the aristocratic locusts, whether English or Irish, who have eaten the verdure of our fields – against the aristocratic leeches who drain alike our fields and theirs.” Unlike the Proclamation of 1916, the conflict was not narrowed to a conflict of nationality, but a conflict of one class against another. Its internationalism is one of workers solidarity. The problem is clearly stated – the class conflict – and the solution given is the Irish Republic. The Irish Republic becomes the signifier of the end of class conflict through the defeat of the landed elite: “We aim at founding a Republic based on universal suffrage, which shall secure to all the intrinsic value of their labour. The soil of Ireland, at present in the possession of an oligarchy, belongs to us, the Irish people, and to us it must be restored.”

The State is an Empty Space - A Master Signifier

“The French Republic” is a Master Signifier, which refers to the state which French people give their allegiance to, most of them seem to anyway. I purposely didn’t say “the state which exists in France,” precisely because it doesn’t exist in France – or anywhere else. States have no actual concrete existence. The bureaucracy and armed forces of a state are not the state. They are institutions of the state but they are not the state. In a monarchy, a king or queen stands in for the state – to give it some kind of immediate concrete presentation for the masses and for the ruling classes. But the king is not the state. The king is standing in for an empty space. An empty space named by a Master Signifier. The empty throne is a good metaphor – as is the empty centre of the crown. Likewise in a Republic, a president is not the state, but stands in for the empty space that is the state. So if we take the signifier/name “The French Republic” it is certainly not refering to nothing. It is refering to an empty space - a space that is framed by the act of naming - a naming done by the founders of the state and maintained by succeeding generations, i.e. maintained by all those who believe in it.

These days a constitutional monarch or a president has nothing to do with law except to sign it or send it back for legal testing. But the signing is important, as the name of the president or the monarch on the piece of legislation is the last word, beyond which there is no other word. It’s the mark of the empty space that is the state. The full authority of the state consists only in its name – the name of the empty space, i.e. the Master Signifier. In this cynical age, the president or the king or queen often plays the all important function of playing that at-least-one that we believe really believes in the state. When the marching bands and troops go past the reviewing stand where the great leader sits, there is a sense of the masses saying to the monarch or president: We know that the state doesnt really exist, but we are doing all this to help you to believe for us. The same can also often be said about religious ceremonies. This role of the "one supposed to believe" is all important in any ideological construct. And states are ideological constructs.

Its at this point that groups like the 32CSM and éirígí are mistaken when they say they do not recognise that the Irish Republic exists. Because in saying that, they are implying that other states do exist – when they don’t, except as the empty spaces named by signifiers.

As the king or president takes over the role of the chief believer in the empty space that is the state, so in 1867 the Supreme Council of the IRB took on the role of the chief believer in the Irish Republic. Probably not so difficult as they were about the only believers in it. As the priest says at mass: through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The huge variety believers are made one community by the signifier “The Holy Spirit,” and particularly through the chief “person supposed to believe” in the Holy Spirit, the Pope. Hundreds of millions of people become one community through the action of the Master Signifier. And its an important point that the only thing vital about the president or the monarch or the Pope, is that he/she performs the role of believing. They can be a complete idiot, as many of Europe’s monarchs have been. It dosnt matter. The important thing is that they perform the act of beliving in the state. There is no surer sign that belief in the state is genuine than the willingness to kill and be killed for the empty space that is the state. Indeed, the sacrifice of blood seems to be an important psychological factor in winning the belief of people in a state and winning their allegiance to it.

So what is it about human society that causes the need for states? Or put another way, what is that thing that the Master Signifier “state” is an attempt to name. What is that trauma in society that the state is brought forward as the answer to? The simple answer to that is class. The fact that some people have wealth and power and others do not. That society is organised around the division of people into those who labour and those who enjoy the fruits of that labour without working for it. A capitalist will see that state as that which has the function of maintaining private property and the class relations that go with private property. The Proclamation of 1867 called for an entirely different function for the state – “We aim at founding a Republic based on universal suffrage, which shall secure to all the intrinsic value of their labour. The soil of Ireland, at present in the possession of an oligarchy, belongs to us, the Irish people, and to us it must be restored.” How far the 1867 Proclamation meant to go with this is open to question, but certainly a Marxist state is one which addresses the question of class by closing the gap between the classes and thus leading to the withering away of the state. This brings us to the crux of the matter. The Master Signifier names an empty space – the state. But what is that empty space in reality? None other than the gap between the classes. This gap beween the classes, this empty space, is the trauma on which society is based and which the state is called into being to name and control.

So what do we mean when we say we recognise the 32 County Irish Republic as the legitimate state in Ireland? Do we mean we recognise it because people voted for it in 1918? No, we don’t mean that. Votes really have nothing to do with the origins of states. They come into existence as signifiers to give a name to the gap between classes. What name we give the state will declare in what way we mean to manage the gap between the classes. The 32 County Socialist Republic obviously means that the state we give our allegiance to is a state which will close this gap and abolish class distinction, thus leading to its own withering away. On the other hand, the 26 county free state is a state which intends to maintain the gap between the classes and thus maintain itself as the signifier of an empty space. It will do this through its armed police, state media and education system.

So we see that it is incorrect for the 32CSM and éirígí to say that the Republic does not exist (I dont know RNUs position). The Republic exists as much as any other state does, i.e. not at all except as a signifier which describes class division. The Republic, as proclaimed in 1867, is a signifier for the closing of class division. The British state is a signifier for the maintainance of class division. It is surely entirely counter-productive to claim that only the British state exists in Ireland, as this is to deny the signifier of the closing of class division. From 1867 onwards, we have had a tradition of the maintainance of at least one institution of the Republic. Nobody appointed the IRB Supreme Council to be the first institution of the Republic. The space was empty and nobody else wanted to step into it, so they did. The same can be said for the Provisional Government of 1916. The same can be said of the First Dáil. The fact that Sinn Féin had won a majority of votes was neither here nor there. The space of the Republic had been created already. In 1922 the bourgeois elements realised that the British state protected their interests better that the Irish Republic would and they turned on the Republic. The Second Dáil continued holding the place of the Republic open, and when it could no longer do that, it passed on the task to the armed forces of the Republic. There was nobody else who could do it. And so it has continued till this day. CIRA openly state that this is their function. RIRA do not say so, but they behave as if they do. In fact, RIRA exercise the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic just as much, if not more so, than CIRA does. The Governmental Authority is not a football that has to be passed from person to person. Or that somebody can hold for themselves and only pass on to chosen people. No, everyone becomes part of the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic simply by acting as part of the Governmental Authority. But the armed forces of the Republic cannot do anything but maintain the empty space of the signifier. For the Governmental Authority to really change the de facto disposition of class structure in Ireland we need civilian institutions of the Republic. There is no question of asking any permission from the armed forces to do this, or of the IRA handing back the Governmental Authority in a 1938 style proclamation. The civilian institutions - federated community councils - will be legislating institutions of the Irish Republic, will be the de facto Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic, because that's what they will actually be. Any statement after the fact will be superfluous. Its true that at present a majority of Irish people do not want to be part of the institutions Irish Republic, but that is certainly not the same as saying that no institution of the Republic exists, or that the signifier of the Republic does not exist. It is also true that a great many Irish people would like to be part of the instutions of the Republic if that choice was available to them. It seems to me the immediate task of the Republican Movement is to make that choice available to the Irish people. Neither the Brits nor the free staters would be able to stop us doing this.

The Republic is our Greatest Strength

To deny the Irish Republic is to deny the ability of the Irish people to create signifiers. Its to say that our signifiers must be created for us by the British and then presented to us with the permission of the British government. It is really to deny the intellect of the Irish people, as a people.

The Republic is our great strength, our words and actions are the concrete manifestations of the Republic, which inspires us to do and say them. Every Republican action or word is in itself a present victory of the Republic. Bourgeois states are manifested in pomp and splender and the bleeding of the working class. The 32 County Socialist Republic is manifested in the awaking of the Irish people and our breaking of the chains which hold us - both mental and physical. Indeed, its the great strength of the Republic over the bourgeois states that the Republic is fully manifested in the words and actions of the most humble Republican and without permission or thanks from anyone but him or herself. Republicans are the institutions of the Republic. And this should never change, even after the defeat of the bourgeois states. Direct Democracy will mean that there is no higher institution than the citizen.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Class War and the GFA

It seems to me that the GFA made no attempt to solve the problem of the split between Nationalist and Unionist at all, but merely tried to change our view of that split. Instead of seeing the split or gulf that could only be overcome by the destruction of one side or the other, it was hoped that it could be seen as a dialectical process that would see two opposing and contradicting ideas being synthesised into a new third idea - a "democratic Northern Ireland."

The problem with this is that it is such a simple model that it had to leave most of the contradictions outside the door of Stormont - most importantly, the contradiction of class struggle. Stripped of these other more important contradictions, Stormont becomes a museum where ancient sectarian conflict is played out over and over again without any hope of a break in the cycle. This is all the more so, since the participants are well paid to put on the show and there is no cost in blood and tears. The new third idea became a circus or masquerade, completely devoid of reality or consequence and having no influence or traction on the real conflict outside the doors of Stormont.

That Republicans could have been sucked into such a process only showed how divorced from reality Republicanism itself had become and how much it had tried to avoid class war as the underlying reality which drove all other forms of conflict.

This seems to have been the result of the split between the Stickies and the Provisionals in 69/70. In the chaos and recriminations both sides threw out the baby with the bath water. The Stickies threw out the National Struggle and the Provos threw out the Class Struggle - thus both sides became ideologically castrated, ineffective and destined only for complete defeat.

The GFA also brings up another question for Republican Socialists. The formation of parties and the participation in representational democracy necessarily increases the participation in the liberal democratic system and thus strengthens it - thus focusing attention on the liberal democratic system and away for any possible alternative structures.

On the other hand, the fact that liberal democracy allows us to participate in it gives us a ready made platform - such as the country councils - that we wouldnt have ourselves. There is a sense of the possibility of using the system to overthrow the system. In practice this has never happened. The bourgeois system is very good at absorbing and co-opting opposing forces within it, and turning opposition to its own benefit.

So its a matter of weighing up the advantages of using the bougeois system against the advantages of not using it. It seems clear to me that while there are no actual alternative structures in place, based on direct democracy, then participation in the representational bourgeois democratic system is of little or no value - and really just takes up a lot of time and energy that should be going into building up direct democratic structures. Not only that, but we just become a mirror image of that which we claim to want to destroy.

When direct democratic structures are up and running, then there may well be benefit from using the bourgeois democratic system as a platform, but not until then.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dual Power Strategy

Dual Power is a concept first written about by Lenin, in his article "The Dual Power," of 28 April 1917, which described a situation after the February Revolution in which two powers, the workers councils (or Soviets, particularly the Petrograd Soviet) and the bourgeois state apparatus of the Provisional Government coexisted with each other and competed for legitimacy. Lenin argued that this essentially unstable situation constituted a unique opportunity for the Soviets to seize power by smashing the Provisional Government and establishing themselves as the basis of a new form of state power.

This Duel Power Strategy has been used with great success all over the world, particularly the colonised world, from China to Cuba, to Nicaragua to the current struggle of the Zapatistas in Mexico, to Hamas and Hezbollah. The key element is to proclaim the Revolutionary state power, and starting to turn that de jure state power into a de facto state power, bit by bit, by drawing the strength and legitimacy away from the bourgeois state and to the Revolutionary state. Our efforts are not directed towards some great Revolutionary moment to come, but towards every little action we do being an actual Revolutionary action. If we provide one person with something that they could not get from the bourgeois state, be that thing of a material or psychological nature, then we have carried out a Revolutionary act, we have weakened the enemy and strengthened the Republic. The bourgeois economic crisis will provide the space for us to act in, and we must never be afraid to step into the space that the contracting bourgeois state leaves open for us. The Revolution is about people taking control of their own lives and making them better. The Community Councils, with direct democracy, as the vehicle of this Revolutionary change.

Now, in 1917, the Soviets were immeasurably stronger than the RM is today. But, at the same time, you have to put things into perspective. Compared to the whole population of the Russian Empire, the Soviets were a small enough force. Lenin refers to them as "weak and incipient." The other point is that it is the essence of Marxism that we learn from the past. Lenin had not based the Revolution on a "Duel Power Strategy," in the text above he says: "The highly remarkable feature of our revolution is that it has brought about a dual power. This fact must be grasped first and foremost: unless it is understood, we cannot advance. We must know how to supplement and amend old “formulas”, for example, those of Bolshevism, for while they have been found to be correct on the whole, their concrete realisation has turned out to be different. Nobody previously thought, or could have thought, of a dual power." It seems clear to me that if Lenin had thought of a Duel Power Strategy as early as the uprising in 1905, then he would have used it - when the Soviets were even weaker still. A key point to remember is that the Soviets, in 1917, were in the process of being absorbed into the bourgeois state. The Soviets did not think of themselves as a state power, and, indeed, were not a state power any more than the modern trade unions in Ireland are a state power. The moment the Soviets became a state power was when Lenin named them as such. It seems incredible that one man naming a diverse collection of workers councils as a state power would really make them a state power - particularly as most of Lenin's Bolshevik comrades thought he was crazy to say such a thing. But, as we know, that is what happened. The belief in the state power of the Soviets spread from the mind of one man, Lenin, into the minds of a handful of supporters at first, and then into the minds of millions.

We must also remember that for the period of Easter Week 1916, the Republican leadership were, in effect, using a Duel Power Strategy, even if they didnt call it that. They were setting up a state power in opposition to the de facto state power of the British Empire. Why was it a state power? Only because they named it as such. Needless to say, it was quickly crushed. Again, between 1918 and 1922, the same strategy was used - but the big error of the 1918-22 period was that no attempt was made to set up Soviets, or Community Councils among the ordinary people, so, for the most part, they did not feel part of the Republic themselves - it was something they looked at from a distance. This is not surprising, considering that the native Irish bourgeoisie were in charge of Sinn Féin, and had no intention of allowing the ordinary people to take control and possession of the Republic. If the RM can’t set about the work of setting up Community Councils and a de facto Dual Power, then all talk of the Republic is idle, but if we are serious about doing this work, then having the Republic that was proclaimed in 1916 and defended in blood by thousands of Volunteers, will be an immeasurable boost to us, and something that will hold us together when the going gets rough. The enemy finds itself fighting the Republic of Pearse and Connolly, and not just something new and untested. Having the state power of the Irish Republic, right from the founding of the very first Community Council, with only a handful of members, prevents the CC from thinking of itself as merely a community group, working within the bourgeois state and seeking to reform the bourgeois state. If we do not have the state power from the very start, then we are always fighting a loosing battle against the mentality that the CC's are not revolutionary, but reformist. Very soon the bourgeois state will offer the "community groups" money in return for their full absorbtion (like what happened with provo community groups in the six counties), and how are we going to explain that this would defeat the whole purpose, unless the members of the Community Councils know, right from the start, that they are democratic institutions of the Irish Republic, and not merely "community groups."

In short, we should not wait till the Brits have gone home to begin living in the 32 County Irish Republic. We can do it right now, under the nose of the enemy. Social change become the engine and fuel of Revolution, not its consequence.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Against the Petty Bourgeois Mentality in Republicanism

I was looking back over some articles on the subject of "criminality" and Republicanism, and I had to laugh when I read about the efforts some Republicans were making not to be associated with certain "former criminals." Former, that is, not current. It seems there is a certain petty bourgeois mentality among Republicans that refuses to recognise the structure of the society we live in - and our own part in making it so. I say petty bourgeois, because the bourgeois elite themselves have nothing against criminality and anti-social behaviour - as long as it is done with hundreds of millions, and not a few pounds. Im afraid this attitude comes from the poor development of class consciousness in the RM, and, of course, the petty bourgeois origins of Sinn Féin in the early part of the 20th century.

We should be very proud if people, who once were a menace to their neighbourhoods, have now become useful members of the Republican Movement - not be trying to deny it. That means that the RM really is doing something useful after all. We should realise that a society based on private landed property will always breed crime and anti-social behaviour. For us to punish young joy riders and house breakers, while doing nothing against landowners and landlords is just pure hypocracy and stupidity. Sure, it often gets the local IRA a bit of extra support and approval, but isnt it ironic that the IRA often ends up protecting private property - and does nothing against the vermin that have made society such a cess pit, i.e. the landowners and capitalists.

We even have the same reaction when it comes to expropriations - oh we couldnt do that, people would call us criminals. Thats rubbish. The bourgeoisie call us criminals anyway. The Governmental Authority has the legal right to take whatever resources it sees fit to take, there is no question of crime.

Im afraid unless we shake off the petty bourgeois superstitions that were driven into us by teachers, parents and priests, we are going nowhere fast.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bourgeois-democratic prejudice in the Republican Movement

Its a sad fact that Irish Republicans are still living under the delusion that representational democracy equals democracy, full stop. Do we analyse this belief? No, we just accept it like mother's milk. In that case, it's not the belief of a rational person, but a prejudice.

Our unthinking reverence to this prejudice, or superstition, is such, that when we are taunted by the enemy with having no "mandate" or not having enough support to have members of parliament, we are actually embarrased, and try to find reasons why this is so. When, in fact, we should be asking ourselves: What is the nature of representation and parliamentary democracy? How is it that in every state ruled by parlimentary democracy a tiny group owns and controls the land and capital, and the great majority are without land or capital? If elections are fair, and everyone has an equal vote, how could it be that the vast bulk of the population vote for their own dispossession and subjugation?

Could it be that representational democracy is a massive fraud? An infamous trick, to not only subjugate whole populations and disspossess them, but to get them to "consent" to their own oppression? To get normally intelligent people to proudly claim that they are "democrats," because they accept, and willingly lie down under, the black oppression that results from parliamentary democracy. And to get normally intelligent people to condemn those who refuse to lie down under such vile oppression as "undemocratic," "lacking in madate," and "terrorists."

It seems to me to be well past the time when the Republican Movement purged the very mention of "representation" and "parlimentary democracy," from their documents as filty words, unfit for any rational human being. And where we had superstitiously spoken about representation, to now speak only of Direct Democracy. Where we had spoken superstitiously of parliaments, to now speak of Federal Assemblies of recallible Delegates.

Before we can dispel the prejudices of the most backward elements of the population, and their unthinking reverence for parliamentary democracy, and the lying, thieving, spivs they almost always elect, we must clean out our own minds and mouths.

As Albert Einstein put it in his essay "Why Socialism?"

"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."

Direct Democracy develops the citizen as a legislator for his/her people. Such a citizen will be brought up from early childhood to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own actions. This is in complete contrast to the bourgeois democratic system, where people are trained to be mindless consumers, not citizens, and are trained from infancy to defer to their "betters" and accept the commands of their "betters." Washing out the vile influence of bourgeois democracy would take at least one generation to complete, as a new generation of children would have to come on the earth, who were not schooled in fear and ignorance. But even so, right from the start, putting legislative power in the hands of the citizen will immediately transform his/her attitude from slavish apathy, to responsible activity.

Please see this link for an explanation of Direct Democracy:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Class Consciousness and the Republican Movement

The great advantage the RM has at present is the awaking class-consciousness of the Working Class, but the handicap we have is our own lack of ideological and theoretical rigor. This lack of rigor leads to a certain unsureness, which, in turn, leads to a rigidity of thought and action. This is a crucial point at the present time. The anger of the people needs direction, and, above all, education. People need to know how the bourgeois system works, and how it can never work for them. At present, the only direction it is getting is from the lackey trade unions and reformist elements such as the Labour Party. The Socialist Party and People Against Profit are certainly giving better council, but, tragically, it is still reformist council. I believe that the Republican Movement is the only movement in Ireland capable of real Revolutionary action. Only the RM can direct the righteous anger of the people in a truly Revolutionary Proletarian direction, one based on solid class-consciousness. But to do this we need to be flexible and imaginative in our thought. The only way to achieve such powerful thought is by having a rock solid ideological and theoretical base to stand on. Éire Nua and Saol Nua need to be thoroughly revised, purged of all contradiction and equivocation, and made suitable for a Revolution in progress. As our very minimum policy we must have full nationalization of the land and banks. Anything less is petty bourgeois superstition, and leaves us among the ranks of the hapless reformers and against Revolution. Revolution is nothing other than the transfer of state power from one class to another. State power cannot be transferred to the Proletariat while we still have landowners and private bankers. There can be no fulfillment of the promise of the Easter Proclamation to cherish all the children of the nation equally, while some children look forward to inheriting landed wealth, and others face lives as wage slaves.

The preparation and distribution of a pamphlet explaining the class struggle and carrying on from Raymond Crotty’s essay, The Failed Modernisation of Ireland in the Late Nineteenth Century, on land ownership and its retarding effects on the Irish economy (one of the very few attempts by any Irish academic to address this question) would be a welcome step. In it's newspaper, Saoirse, the RM has a wonderful instrument of Revolutionary Struggle and such a pamphlet could be serialized in its pages.

How can we make a connection between the workers protests and the struggle to end the occupation of our country by a foreign power? Even Republicans have not always seen the connection between the two, and even today, some Republicans think that the question of Labour can be put off till after the National Struggle has been won. This is folly. If you try to push the National Struggle separate to the class struggle, then you are, in reality, putting the whole weight of it on the Nationalist people of the six counties – less than a tenth of the whole population of Ireland. The class struggle will naturally smash the border with its weight and power. What we need to explain to people is how the presence of British Crown armed forces in any part of Ireland secures the bourgeois system in all of Ireland.

The inability of the RM to formulate a fully consistent ideology, and its continued attempts to compromise with landed property, has left it in a state of stasis. This stasis has lead to a continual drip of members going off to faddish “unity projects,” that are actually in a far worse ideological cul-de-sac than the RM is. It must be remembered that those who deny the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, i.e. the Governmental Authority of the 32 County Irish Republic, such as the IRSP, Éirígí and the 32CSM, actually boost up the claims of the bourgeois, partitionist, statelets and their British Crown overlord to legitimacy in Ireland. There can only be one legitimate state power in Ireland. There is no fence to sit on. Either you are with the Dictatorship of the Proletariat or you are with the British/free state. Any activity within the bourgeois system strengthens the bourgeois system. That’s why it’s essential that the RM begin the work of building the Community Councils right now. As I say, any activity within the bourgeois system, such as taking part in bourgeois elections, strengthens the enemy. But we may begin to benefit more than we lose from taking part in these elections, if, and only if, we already have an alternative state power in operation, i.e. the Community Councils under the protection of the Army. To take part in bourgeois elections before this alternative power is in place is to work against the Republic.

As Lenin often pointed out, and Marx before him, the spontaneous form of Working Class activism is trade unionism – not for Revolution, but for a “fairer” slice of the capitalist cake. Our participation in the struggles of the Working Class, under the misleadership of the lackey trade unions, will only tend towards the modernization and copper fastening of the capitalist system. If the current economic crisis is to play any part in the Republican struggle, or vice versa, if Republicanism is to play any role in the current crisis and workers reaction to it, then we must make it clear that our enemy is ALL aspects of the bourgeois system – the councils, the police, the lackey trade unions, the capitalists, bankers and landowners. We must throw in our lot with the people of no property, who must become the people of ALL landed property. We should not be afraid of the slogan: “A free home for every citizen.” If we can’t stand behind this slogan, then we offer nothing to the Irish people and they will rightly continue to ignore and reject us. We must educate people and carefully explain to them that their demands are too small. The Proletariat, i.e. the class conscious workers, should not ask for a “fairer” slice of the cake – but should take ALL of the cake, by force. The change in perspective from petitioning their masters for a “fair deal” to abolishing the masters completely can only come about through careful and patient education. It’s impossible to educate people if you are unsure yourself of what you believe in. People can spot ambiguity a mile away; they would rather a Fianna Fáil cute hoor who believes fervently in his cute hoorism, than a milk and water Republican Socialist who doesn’t really know what he wants – as long as the Brits are out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Against Premature Republican Unity

Against Premature Republican Unity

On the surface, calls for the various Republican groups to work together may seem like common sense. After all, could we not do much more if we all worked together? Without doubt that is true, but what does working together really mean? We are coming out of a period where Republicanism was thrown into confusion and disarray after the defection of the Adamsites and their abject adoption of the bourgeois ideology of British constitutional reformism. The massive amounts of money spent on promoting the GFA among the population has left our theoretical position more and more difficult. People say to us, quite reasonably: if all you want is a united Ireland, then is it not better to wait until it peacefully comes about? What’s the point of people getting killed and rotting in jail for something that is going to come about eventually anyway? I don’t think any Republican group has given a good answer to this – at least not one that will stand up to a rigorous examination.

It seems to me that each Republican group, and, indeed, each individual Republican, has the responsibility to fill in this theoretical gap. Otherwise the ruling class and their paid lackeys will continue to have a very easy time – even as the financial crisis deepens. What we have is a range of Republican groups, and I don’t see that any one of them has an entirely logical, theoretically rigorous program. The idea of several groups coming together before they have sorted out their own theoretical failings is just a recipe for chaos. All that will really happen is that people will start saying that the important thing is activism not theory – even if that activism is, at best, achieving nothing and, at worst, actually helping the enemy. (All we need to do is consider how easily Adams hijacked a theoretically confused movement in the early 80s.) Since theory is bound to cause friction in such a Unity Program, no doubt it will be pushed even further into the backround to make way for frictionless activism, were everyone can feel happy that they are "doing something."

Why have the Republican organizations not been able to get their theoretical houses in order? Well, there are probably many answers to that, but we can say for sure that if a single Republican organization cant work out a rigorous and consistent revolutionary program, what chance have they in doing so with a host of other groups – all with very different ideas of what is important. The thing to do is for each group to separately work out their programs, and then see which other group is working on the same wavelength. Then you have a meeting of minds – not just some indistinct porridge.

Marx wrote to the leaders of the Gotha Program:

"If you must unite, then enter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not allow any bargaining over principles, do not make theoretical 'concessions'."

Marx was here assuming that they had a solid theoretical base that they might make concession on. It seems to me that some of the Republican groups have a lot of work to do before they even get to that stage.

Lenin wrote in his What is to be done:

"Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This idea cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism goes hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity."

This is the vital point at this time. It’s all too easy for activism to become an excuse for not thinking. But somebody will be thinking, you can be sure of that. The Brits will be thinking, and doing their best to direct all that activism into a cul-de-sac of their own making. I need hardly mention the GFA. Small shifts, that activists may not even notice, may have disastrous consequences later on. This is the importance of revolutionary theory – to channel our activism into a direction that helps our cause; not the cause of the enemy.

We must remember that, as Engels pointed out, and Lenin emphasised, that we are engaged in three struggles not two (political and economic), we are also involved in a life or death theoretical struggle with the ruling class. The ruling class have universities full of bought and paid for professors and doctors, despicable lackeys, developing theoretical bombs and bullets to keep the landless workers in fear, ignorance and awe. This is the weapon of mass destruction that has done far more damage in recent times than the British army or RUC.

Is the Republican Movement Really Revolutionary?

Three states in Ireland

Today in Ireland we have three states. One the British state in the six counties. Two the bourgeois free state in the 26, and finally, the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic (GAIR). Of course, GAIR is in the weakest position and has only one institution – the Irish Republican Army.

The question we must ask ourselves now is what is the role and function of the GAIR? It was first declared by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in 1867, and later re-declared on the steps of the General Post Office, Dublin on Easter Monday 1916. We surely must know what James Connolly intended it to be: in Marxist terminology, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. But we know that this was certainly not the intention of many of the participants. We also had the arch reactionaries Eamonn DeVelera and Liam Cosgrave, who certainly meant it to mean nothing but a transfer of power from the British empire to a native Irish gombeen elite – which they would lead. The Irish Proletariat were to remain firmly faoi chois (under the jack boot.) So we had a Republican Movement and a Republic that meant completely opposite things to different people. We know the history. The reactionaries cut a deal with British capitalism and turned on their former comrades in a bloody orgy of war crimes.

But have we not still inherited this disastrous schizophrenic mentality? Do we not still try to bring everybody along and not offend anybody? In the 1970s, when the IRA was at a peak of its power, there was little or no attempt to use that power to force through social change. Everything was ploughed into a nationalist war against the British, to the point that when Adams hijacked the movement in 1986, little or nothing had been built of a Republic. After sixteen years of the most incredible struggle, on the ground, the Republic was as invisible as if it had never existed.

We have had many splits in the Republican Movement, but the really essential split, we have avoided. Those who wish to maintain the privilege of the landowners and capitalists, even the small landowner and small proprietor, are pulling the ground from under the Republican Movement and making sure that it will always remain irrelevant, if not hostile, to the needs of the Proletariat, i.e. the class conscious Working Class. Simply put, why should any intelligent Working Class person make any effort to get the Brits out, only to have some native Irish petty gombeen or landowner lord it over him or her when the Brits have gone? It seems clear to me that before we can speak honestly to the Working Class we must fully embrace their class struggle. We must realize that the war we are engaged in is a class war, i.e. a civil war. The Brits are only part of the problem – alien allies of the native Irish ruling class. This point was made crystal clear in 1975, when British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, let it be known to the Irish ruling class that he was considering withdrawal from Ireland. The Irish ruling class, in a panic, dispatched Garret Fitzgerald and Jack Lynch to demand that the British Crown forces should stay in Ireland to protect their interests. The British state is still protecting its native Irish gombeen clients to this day to the great detriment of the vast majority of the Irish people.

I believe the RM must finally throw off its petty bourgeois origins in the form of Arthur Griffith, Liam Cosgrave and Eamonn DeValera, and fully embrace the teachings of James Connolly and Karl Marx. When we say the land of Ireland belongs to the people of Ireland, we must mean just that – not some sly cop out that leaves our land in private hands, and, ultimately, leaves the landless worker looking up to the landowner. Land and wealth are power. If you leave them in some hands and not others, then you have no democracy. There can be no democracy where some have more financial clout than others. To call this democracy is a cruel mockery. I believe that Saol Nua and Éire Nua must face this logic and stop trying to compromise with the landowner. Revolution means the passing of state power from one class to another. In reality, the passing of land and wealth from one class to another. More particularly, in our case, from the Irish farmer and builder/developer to the common ownership of the whole people, and from the capitalist to the whole people. To stand in the way of this transfer of land and wealth is to stand in the way of Revolution and take a counter-revolutionary stand.

We cannot fantasize about keeping the small farmer and the small proprietor on side. The small farmer and small proprietor instinctively knows that his place is with the bourgeois – the ruling elite. Only the ruling elite will guarantee his property against the claims of the landless worker. We must choose sides. The RM has spent far too long on the fence, becoming smaller and more irrelevant with every passing decade. Are we to join the cause of private property, or are we join with the great mass of the Irish people? 86% of the land of the free state is owned by less than 3% of the population. If we are to join the cause of private property, then what could possibly be the function of the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic? We already have two states protecting private property with their armies and police – what need of a third?

There is only one possible function for the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic, and that is to claim ALL the land of the Irish nation for ALL the people of the Irish nation. To transfer ALL the land of the Irish nation into the possession of ALL the people of the Irish nation, and, thus, create the conditions for real democracy, where a small group of wealthy landowners cannot buy elections and politicians and the media and dictate the curriculum for children to learn at school.

A hegemonic struggle

Taking that there is only one possible function for the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic, i.e. to function as the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, i.e. the uncompromising will of the class conscious Working Class, then the Governmental Authority finds itself in immediate contradiction with the Dictatorship of the Landowners and Wealthy Capitalists, i.e. the liberal democratic system. Though we have three states, we have only two sides to the conflict – the Irish Republic and the British/native Capitalist regime. We have, as Lenin termed it in 1917, a Dual Power - one of seemingly enormous power and the other, as yet, weak and incipient.

Naturally, this sounds as if going from the Capitalist dictatorship to the dictatorship of the IRA Army Council would hardly be very attractive, as we would still find ourselves lacking in democracy. This is where Community Councils (CCs) come in. Within the CCs, which should be set up, at first, with no more than twenty people over the age of sixteen in each CC, a system of Direct Democracy needs to operate. In that case every individual enjoys the status of a legislator. Such a status will soon breed responsibility and eagerness to serve and shake off the slavishness and slyness engendered by representational democracy – where we are granted the “privilege” of choosing our seeming rulers (really front men for the landed elite.) In such a federation of Community Councils, the state has already withered away, as Marx and Engels predicted it would. There is no need for a police force operating outside of and opposed to the people as at present, as the community has the power to deal with its own problems in an organic way. In extreme cases, a CC may be forced to request the assistance of the Army for a very specific purpose. Under no circumstances should the Army interfere with the running of any CC or intervene in any way unless asked. A similar situation now exists in Cuba, where the police may not arrest a citizen without the permission of the local CC. However, this is not to say that the state has withered away outside of the CCs. Until final victory over the enemy forces in achieved, state power must reside in the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic, i.e. the Army Council of the IRA. So we have an inside of perfect democracy, and an outside of military dictatorship. The citizens of the Republic enjoy democracy, while the enemies of the Republic suffer the state power of the Republic.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Towards a Republican Socialist Strategy for the 21st Century

Towards a Republican Socialist Strategy for the 21st Century


That Irish Republicans do not need to worry about creating the conditions for Revolution in Ireland in 2009 – the Revolution has already begun. Young people are already in almost open revolt. Unemployment has reached over 11% in the free state and is rapidly rising. Pension funds have been wiped out and savings are in the process of being wiped out by price inflation. In the 06, the devaluation of Sterling has already wiped out the saving of Working Class people to a large extent. The only question Republicans need to ask is on what basis, for what objectives, and using what tactics and strategies, do we join an already started and present Revolution.

The Financial Crisis

A major change in the actual conditions that Republicans face today is strongly in our favour. Both the British state and free state have been severely weakened by the global recession. How long this crisis will last is hard to tell, but optimistic capitalist economists are predicting it to last between five and ten years more. Since the signing of the GFA, armed struggle has been all but impossible, as both the Brits and free staters could pump billions into creating the illusion of "progress" and "consent." Today we see the economic crisis revealing the harsh reality behind the fireworks and glitter of the GFA. This gives Republicans a once in a lifetime chance to press home our project - but only if that project has been firmly tied to the economic struggle of the ordinary people. The Fenians realised this fact, in the 19th century, when they got full square behind the land agitation of Michael Davitt's Land League. We must do the same. Today people will ask "what's in it for me" and I’m glad they do. Too many IRA Volunteers have selflessly given their all, just to have some Gombeen cash in on their sacrifice. We must be able to tell people what's in it for them, not be disgusted at their question. The Republic must offer the Irish people better conditions of living, not just change the accent of their exploiters, as Connolly put it. Republicans must take advantage of the financial crisis and fully harness the anger of the landless workers.

A review of types of strategy tried in the past

I think the first step in considering what might work as successful tactics in the struggle ahead is to discount what certainly wont work. Here are the strategies, which have been tried and shown to be failures:

In the first place is British Constitutionalism. This has been tried since Daniel O'Connell and never got anywhere - indeed it just fortifies British misrule by co-opting enough of the native population to subvert resistance. The core of the PSF Stormonteer strategy is pure opportunism. It is a pacification process, which leads to the abandonment of class struggle and the promotion of a native petty gombeen class, tied to the party. It also leads to the criminalisation of righteous Working Class resistance and to the justification of the armed robbery and violence of the landed ruling class. This is treachery to Republicanism and Socialism.

In the second place is the liberation of territory. This has been tried many times in Irish history. The IRA made certain parts of Ireland very difficult terrain for the enemy during the Tan war, but British promoted counter revolution saw the whole of the 26 counties being misruled by proxy after 1921 and the continuation of English common law and the capitalist economic system. The last attempt at winning territory from the enemy was ended at Loughgall, when eight of Ireland's finest gave their lives. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anam dílis. So, given the massive force of British arms in Ireland, winning territory seems out of reach. Another tactic that has been used is to hope that the British people will put pressure on their government to leave Ireland. Towards this end, several bombing campaigns over the decades have been carried out in England along with campaigns in the six counties. However, political and humanitarian considerations have made it impossible to carry out a bombing campaign that would inflict enough casualties to make a major impact on English public opinion. The RM has never been able to stomach inflicting the large numbers of casualties, including civilian casualties that would put significant pressure on the British government. The idea of embarrassing the British government into leaving with a few bombs like the Baltic Exchange and Canary Wharf is unrealistic. There is no embarrassing a system that is inherently evil.

A bombing campaign, which would damage the British economy enough to bring pressure to bear would involve thousands of tons of Semtex or other high explosive, and cost tens of millions of euro per year to the IRA, along with the loss of many Volunteers. Such a campaign seems very far off, and there is nothing to power, finance and supply it.

Propaganda by deed is always useful in any war, but is never considered a strategy in itself. The Easter Rising is probably one of the world’s most famous examples of propaganda by deed. It certainly kick started a Revolutionary process, but as soon as that famous week was over the questions had to be asked “where to now, and what for?” Tragically for Ireland, reactionaries and counter revolutionaries supplied their own answers – and made them stick.

And finally, the tactic of making the occupied 06 ungovernable has been tried. One obvious problem with this tactic, in itself, is that it has been tried for long periods, especially during the 1970s and early 80s, and it simply hasn’t worked. It is possible to give the 06 a highly militarised atmosphere without a great expenditure of resources. The almost complete dependence of the 06, as a political entity, on British state violence is relatively easy to demonstrate. You can certainly make the 06 a very tense, surreal and even dangerous place to live, but making it actually ungovernable is another matter. Enough people will always be dependant on state money and state structures to allow government to continue to a quite acceptable level. Supporters of the occupation will continue to derive enough benefit from it to outweigh the discomfort of living in a militarized zone. This can only be even more true now that PSF have joined the state system, so that there will be individuals in every single neighbourhood who have a vested interest in the continuance of the occupation and the colonial capitalist system. To make the 06 actually ungovernable would take a very great expenditure of resources. The problem is that it always requires much greater energy to stop people doing something than it takes for them to continue doing it, i.e. the RM has taken on itself the major expense of trying to stop the British state functioning in Ireland. This leaves the RM with no time, energy or resources left to actually begin the work of building the Socialist Republic, which certainly can be done while the occupation continues. Instead of putting the British state at the disadvantage of trying to stop the running of the Republic, Republicans have put themselves at the disadvantage of trying to stop the running of the British state.

As far as I can see, the above are the tactics that have all been tried in one way or another and have all failed completely. However, that is not to say that one, or a combination, of the above may not prove useful in certain circumstances and for the achievement of specific strategic objectives. But none of the above, or no combination of the above, furnishes the strategic ground for a successful campaign. Something else is needed.

The South Vs the North as the Driving Force of Revolution

From a psychological perspective, Revolution is always driven by anger. Anger is the motivating force - anger against some injustice.

So where does the Irish Revolution source it's anger from? There are two main sources of political anger in Ireland. On is ethnic and one is economic. In my view, the conflict in the 06, while limited to the 06, is always going to be essentially ethnic in character. The economic conflict is sidelined. In the past great efforts were made to seek the sympathy and understanding of people in the 26 for this British Vs Irish conflict. Naturally enough, when you think about it, neither sympathy nor understanding were generally forthcoming, as hardly anyone in the 26 has ever experienced ethnic conflict personally.

So we see that ethnic anger is limited to the 06, and will not resonate in the 26. What about economic anger? At the moment the 26 is positively bubbling with economic anger. So here we have a massive source of Revolutionary anger which will also resonate in the 06, as most Irish people are subject to economic injustice. In short, while ethnic anger is limited to the 06, economic anger is generated by all 32 counties.

It seems clear to me that the Revolution must be based solidly in economics and must be fought equally in all 32 counties. I believe it was a great mistake in the 1970s to limit the conflict to the 06 and use the 26 simply as a supply base. Limerick is just as much a stage for Revolution as Belfast - maybe even more so. Republicanism has always morally shunned participation in the ethnic conflict between native and planter, and yet, has often left itself in a position where that was the main conflict it was actually involved in. This fact was made crystal clear when PSF agreed to enter an assembly in Stormont, where the ethnic conflict is institutionalised and positions guaranteed, indeed frozen, along ethnic lines. Economic conflict is left entirely outside the door. Every day, ethnic micro-ministers perform virtual ethnic battles so that their camp followers can get their sectarian/ethnic jollies without any blood being spilt. How long can such a farce continue?

So if you allow that the only truely Revolutionary force in Ireland is anger at economic injustice, where does that leave Unionists in the Revolution? Well, to be honest, the Unionist landed elite will always be able to play the Green Card successfully to keep the Unionist Working Class in thrall. We should not make the mistake the Officials made in thinking that the Unionist Working Class will join the Revolution - they wont. Once the Irish landed elite - both Catholic and Protestant - have been broken, the Unionist Working Class will not have the power to resist a Revolutionary Republic, though there is bound to be sporadic efforts for a while. We should really regard the problem of Unionism and the problem of landed wealth as two aspects of the same problem, i.e. the ideology of extreme individualism, which is in contradiction with the communal good. Ultimately, they are the same reactionary force. A native Irish landowner is just as much a problem as a Unionist, in fact more so. Republicans get too obsessed about what to do with the million Unionists, and completely forget the native landowners and their lackys.

A Republican Blindspot

Since DeValera’s infamous “labour must wait” pronouncement, Republicanism has, while condemning this imperative, actually gone about following it. The stress has been on defeating the occupation and leaving the class struggle till after “freedom” has been won. This is a dangerous cop out that leaves the Working Class open to losing everything just at the moment of victory. Many Republicans say that we should have a Constitutional Conference after the Brits have gone and decide what kind of Ireland we want to have. All this would do is give the forces of reaction time to regroup. We should be absolutely clear from day one what we are actually fighting for. It’s not that ending the occupation is not a good thing in itself. It certainly is, in the sense that ending all colonial misrule is a good thing. But, what we can never forget for an instant is that in Ireland’s particular case we are always and at once fighting two distinct, though symbiotic, enemies, i.e. the native landed elite and the British imperialist state. Any attempt to fight one of these symbiotic partners without fighting the other at the same time is doomed to complete and utter failure. This fact is the rock that both Republicanism and reformist Socialism has always foundered on in the past. Reformist socialists, such as the Workers Party and the Socialist Party necessarily fail because they do not attack the ultimate military guarantee of the native landed ruling class – the physical presence of the British army on Irish soil. Republicans fail because they, time and time again, fail to attack the ultimate object of the British state in Ireland – the native and planter landed elite. The truth of what I’m saying was clearly shown when Jim Callaghan asked his civil servants to look at ways of disengaging from Ireland. The free state elite frantically sent Jack Lynch and Garret Fitzgerald to demand, in no uncertain terms, that the British army should stay in Ireland. To begin a campaign against the British state forces, while leaving the native landed ruling class unmolested would surely be folly of the most unforgivable kind. I have mentioned the traditional Republican response to this criticism: We will deal with the native exploiter when the Brits have gone. Let’s get one thing clear; while the native landed elite still wield power, the Brits won’t be going anywhere. And even if they did, it would not be a case of us dealing with the landed class, but of them using their still untouched massive wealth to buy tens of thousands of mercenaries and weapons of the most sophisticated type to deal with us – as they already did between 1922 and 1924.

Nationalisation of ALL Lands and Banks

The nationalisation of banks can hardly be a very controversial ideal for Socialists, as one bank has already been nationalised under the free state capitalist regime and the rest of the banks are already in a state of semi-nationalisation. But Socialists should wish to see not only the debts of the banks, in bad times, being nationalised, but also the profits in good times. Quite apart from this, the fact that private banks “create” 97% of the money in the system, with governments in the Western world printing only 3% of it, means that democracy has no place in banking and the money supply. This state of affairs needs to stop, and the People need to take full control of their economy and money supply.

The land of Ireland needs to be nationalised. We see that farmers now get two thirds of their income from hand outs paid for by the urban worker. So its clear that the current structure of farming is uneconomical and can only be sustained by putting a massive burden on urban workers. Farm collectivization has a bad name, but, in reality, this is what the EU has being trying to do for a long time, i.e. to push out the small and middle sized farmer in favor of the large ranch. The trouble with this system is that it puts incredible and unmerited wealth in the private hands of the rancher. Larry Goodman, for example, collects a single hand out every year of half a million euro - just for owning so much land. It makes much more sense to run these large farms/ranches as state farms, with workers doing a 40 hour shift, like any other worker. As I say, all Irish farms are massively subsidized already by the taxpayer. Even if the state farms were no more profitable, or even a good bit less profitable, it would still mean a massive saving for the population in general, as land for roads, factories, schools, homes, hospitals, etc. would already be in state hands, so no additional fee would have to be paid. This would make an enormous change to the very structure of Irish society, as increases in productivity in the workforce would no longer be converted into higher land prices - as happened over the last ten years, and during all times of prosperity over the last several hundred years. Instead of increased productivity being swallowed up by land price inflation, it could instead be put into building up a native Irish industry that would lessen our junky like dependence on the multi-nationals. It’s this retardation of Irish industry that is the real cost of leaving the land in the hands of about 3% of the population.

Anything less than the full nationalization of the land and the banks is merely reformism and opportunism, and in no way merits the sacrifices of IRA Volunteers. It seems to me an obscenity to put the lives of young Volunteers at risk for reformism.

Éire Nua and Saol Nua

I wish to suggest some possible developments on the excellent Éire Nua and Saol Nua documents. As these proposals are set out now, they are a blue print for a future Irish Republic. They assume that the Republic will have been re-established when they are put into effect. To my mind, this is to ignore the full potential of these documents. The Community Councils they propose could and, to my mind, should be the engines of Revolution today, and in the very teeth of the enemy. For this to become a reality, the size of the Community Council needs to be greatly reduced to a maximum of 200 citizens. Community Councils could be set up right now with as little as five to ten citizens, providing goods and services that the community needs and providing employment. Community Councils of 20 members are already common in Venezuela. Funding would be provided by the Army, after an extensive campaign of capital recovery from the 1% of the Irish population who have expropriated 50% of Ireland’s capital. (Most Republicans still have very little idea of the colossal scale of the wealth of these individuals. In 2006 Irish citizens held 2.3 trillion euro in foreign property and stocks, I know it is less now, but it still amounts to almost unimaginable wealth. Getting a billion euro of this, the Republic’s rightful property, would be far less risky than the noble deeds the Volunteers carried out in recent times, and would be equally noble in its conclusion.) Expropriate the expropriators, as Marx put it. These Community Councils would then become institutions of the really existing 32 County Irish Republic. Nobody could then ask where is the Republic – it would exist before their eyes in Irish Working Class communities building a new life for themselves and their children. We already have communities organising themselves around the drugs issue – this would be just one small step further from the excellent work they are already doing, but a step over the Rubicon of actual Revolution.

Even though it sounds like a scandalous suggestion, the enemy social structure can be made to help our struggle in so much as it provides a relatively stable incubator for the building of the Community Councils and the federal structure of the Republic. At all times we use the enemy mercilessly. The Republican Socialist chick feeds happily on the capital which has been ordered and arranged by the capitalist monarchy and free state, and when it is big and strong enough, it casts off the monarchy and free state as a dried up and useless shell.

As Lenin wrote: "To develop democracy to the utmost, to find the forms for this development, to test them by practice, and so forth - all this is one of the component tasks of the struggle for the social revolution." In other words, if we are not actually in the process of testing revolutionary forms of society, then we are not engaged in revolution - we are merely engaged in reformism.

The bottom line is we dont have to wait until the deafeat of the British state in Ireland to start living in the really existing Republic. The Republic can function through Community Councils in the same time and space as the British state. This was achieved to some extent between 1919 and 1921, when Dáil Éireann, the Army, the Republican Courts and some of the county councils operated as institutions of the Republic.

The great lack here was that all these institution, being representative in nature, were necessisarily at a distance from the average citizen. So that when the Treaty of Surrender was put to a vote in 1922 it was generally accepted by people who had never actually been part of the Republic themselves and had viewed it more as an aspiration than a reality.

Community Councils fill in this lack and close the gap between the citizen and the Republic. The citizen is no longer an interested spectator, but a participant and legislator. He or she lives in and through the Republic. The British state and the free state become contemptable intruders.

Direct Democracy

I believe that Éire Nua needs to take one step forward, away from the Anglo-Saxon representational parliamentary system, and fully embrace Direct Democracy. We don’t need leaders. What we need is self empowered Community Councils, organised along the Federal basis set out in Éire Nua. In a Revolutionary situation, where the enemy is using their armies and paramilitary police forces to try and crush the Revolution, representational democracy is a non starter anyway. What we need is Community Councils that can function in themselves, even when isolated by enemy offensive. Every Community Council is a microcosm of the whole Republic. The enemy cannot destroy the Republic until it has destroyed each and every Community Council. The Community Council, as stated in Éire Nua, is the basic democratic unit of the Republic. All elements of the Republic are contained within the structure of the Community Council. Sounds fragmented? Certainly. Too fragmented for the enemy to defeat, but held together by the great ideals of the Irish Republic and the dignity of Labour, which are, in fact, one and the same ideal.

The Irish people may not be quite ready for this proposal right now, but the free state is falling apart, as is the British state. Even now, working class youth is in revolt, but only the drugs gangs are harnessing their energy and righteous anger – when it should be the Republican Movement.

There is a wonderful scene in the film Doctor Zhivago, where two Revolutionaries have been ordered to join the Tsarist Army marching to meet the Germans, an older man and a young man. The young man sets out straight away to convince the troops to revolt, but the older man holds him back. He points to the boots on the soldier’s feet, and says: Wait till they have no boots.

Spreading the Revolution to Britain is an essential component of success. We have to start looking on the British Working Class as our potential allies and comrades. They are fine people and good fighters. I tell you it made my blood boil to see old age pensioners in England, who had fought the Nazis, cutting back on cups of tea because they can’t afford the water and electricity charges the bástard privateers are inflicting on them.

The Liberal Democratic State

What is a Liberal Democratic State? It is primarily a capitalist state, based on class division and the right of private property. In such a state, the landed elite rule permanently behind a screen known as Representational Democracy. The people put some numbers on a page once every five years, and after that they have no say in what goes on.

The word "liberal" very specifically refers to the right of the landed class to liberally exploit the the landless masses. If you take this right away from them, if you restrict the freedom of the exploiters to exploit, then you no longer have a liberal democracy. A liberal democracy is a mechanism for the minority to suppress and exploit the vast majority.

Certainly anyone who wants the future of Ireland to be a united liberal democracy should support PSF, as they might well, over time, get it. It really dosnt matter how long they take to get it, because you wont notice any difference between the united liberal democracy and the partitioned liberal democracy. If you were a wage slave before, you will be a wage slave after.

Representational Democracy

Representational democracy is based on class conflict. A party is chosen to rule for five years, i.e. is chosen to use organised state violence (including state radio and television), in such a way as to maintain the privilege of the landed elite. We see that clearly in the case of Fianna Fáil. Over 40% of voters in the free state voted for FF in the last election and the one before, but did they protect even the interests of the 40% who voted for them? Certainly not. We now see clearly how FF arranged things so that a tiny minority could use their land to make massive profits off the backs of ordinary people - tens of thousands of them FF voters. Even now, FF continues to rob the Irish People, including their own voters, to bail out the wealth and privilege of the landed elite.

Representational democracy will always maintain the division of society into classes. In a representational system the landed elite can always use their wealth and position to make sure that the party they have bought will win the election. The election of Barak Obama was as clear an example of this rule as you could wish for. We saw that Wall Street favoured him with hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, and he has returned this favour by appointing Wall Street insiders to oversee the financial crisis, i.e. to bail out the oligarchs at the expense of the workers.

So, if we agree that a classless society, or a society of the one universal class, to give it its more rigorous Marxian term, can never come about through representational democracy, then we must accept that the class conflict can only come to an end through Revolution. So the question is: after the Revolution has gotten rid of class division, i.e. "when there is no distinction between the members of society as regards their relation to the social means of production," as Lenin puts it in "State and Revolution," why would we want to put back a system of election and government based on class division? What good is representational democracy in a society where parties are not representing the interests of one class over another? Where there is only one class interest - the interest of the whole people?

You might say, well, what if one party wanted, say, legal abortion and another party wanted it banned, would that not be a good argument for representation? Not at all. There is no reason to give one party the rule of the whole nation because of such issues. These issues are better dealt with through Direct Democracy, as they come up. No doubt there will always be pressure groups around various issues in any free society, but there is no need to give one of these pressure groups a virtual dictatorship for five years because of it. This is just a good way to undo the whole work of the Revolution and bring back the class system. Direct Democracy is all that is needed in any classless society.

The superstitious reverence that today's political parties try to promote for representational democracy should be seen for the self serving sham it is. Not only a sham, but an insidious device for the subjugation and robbery of the vast majority by a tiny minority.

The Republican "State" in the Revolutionary Period

It seems to me that during the Revolutionary Period, the Governmental Authority of the Irish Republic should remain "abstract" in relation to the citizens and not make laws for the civilian population. It's functions should be to make war on the landed elite and their partitionist states, and to keep the Community Councils supplied with the capital they need. It will be left to the Community Councils to make laws for themselves. Being institutions of the Irish Republic, their laws will become the operating, de facto, Laws of the Republic, while The Law of the Republic remains the de jure existence of the Governmental Authority and the lawful proceedings of the Army.

So, in effect, we have the state continued in the form of the Governmental Authority and Army, and the state abolished in the form of the Community Councils. The state becomes the excluded element, which gives consistency to the whole (the set of all Community Councils.)

Put in more concrete terms, as there will be no class division inside the Community Councils, there will be no need for a state inside the Community Councils. But, as the landed elite and petty gombeen classes will continue to exist outside the Community Councils, it will be necessary to maintain the state, outside of the Community Councils, for its normal purpose, i.e. the crushing of one class by another (in this case, the crushing of the landed elite and the petty gombeens.) Thus the "fading away of the state" that Marx and Engels looked forward to, happens for the Workers, but not for the class enemies.


The GFA does not give a democratic peace, but a peace imposed by the violence of the native landed class and their British allies, and Irish Working Class capitulation before this violence. Republicans are very frightened by the thought of civil war, that is only natural, but we should remember the words of Lenin on the subject: “We fully regard civil wars, i.e. wars waged by the oppressed class against the oppressing class, slaves against slave owners, serfs against landowners, and wage-workers against the bourgeoisie, as legitimate, progressive and necessary.” (V.I. Lenin. Socialism and War.) The landed elite will never give up their ill-gotten gains and privilege without a bloody struggle; it is folly to think otherwise. But a Republican Socialist campaign based on capital recovery and Community Councils would, from the Republican side, be much less bloody than a campaign based on sending numbers of British soldiers home in boxes. In such a campaign armed force would only be used to capture capital with the least possible casualties and to defend the gains of the Working Class, again aiming for the least possible number of casualties. Killing people is a very costly business, economically, psychologically, socially and in terms of the loss of weapons and Volunteers. It should be kept to an absolute minimum, and certainly no campaign should be based on it.

There are two minorities who press their hegemony on the rest of the population through the threat and use of violence – the native landed class and the Unionists. I believe we should regard the Unionists and the native landed elite and their lackys as, in fact, the same group and not become unnecessarily focused on the Unionists alone. We should begin the work of building the really existing 32 County Republic right now, and take what we need, when we need it from the landed elite. Neither the gardaí nor the free state army are particularly dependable at the present time, as, particularly among the guards, many of them are under severe financial pressure due to their speculations in the crashing property markets at home and abroad. The free state is, thus, in a very vulnerable position. This, combined with the increasing desperation of the landless workers, would lead me to believe that the building of the Republic in the south would be more fruitful today than at any time since 1921.