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.