Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Red Plough

Vol. 1-No 4

Wednesday January 20th 2010

E-mail newsletter

1) Editorial

2) “ A Bourgeoisified Reactionary Parasitic Class”?

3) For the Irish Revolution-1939

4) Allegations

5) Public sector strikes

6) From internet discussions

7) From The Media
AFri Calls for Suspension of Corrib Gas Project and Launches Petition

This edition contains two articles that we believe are important. The first, “ A Bourgeoisified Reactionary Parasitic Class”? is up to date and deals with the ideas of a 3rd world Maoist group. While not many Irish people may have heard of this group and they may be small and of no great significance the real issue is the battle of ideas. Achieving the correct revolutionary approach is important and it is good to see real debate slowly beginning to take place among Irish Republicans about the correct way forward. But any approach that advocates the workers must wait deserves to be opposed
The second article, For the Irish Revolution-1939 is a reprint from 1939 and while it refers to events long ago its relevance today is still fresh in the light of the stepping up of armed actions by Irish republicans.
The third article “Public sector strikes” highlights the need a fighting socialist leadership committed to mass action to fightback against the cuts. No body should be under any illusions that such cuts will not be applied both north and south. All who consider themselves on the left need to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the defence of jobs and conditions.
Maoist-Third Worldist Stand-In Line on Ireland
November 7, 2008

Unfortunately the comrade failed to indicate his/her position on the article itself and the ideological position it took. He did however, assert that
“Although Maoism is not a bona fide blue print for a first world Revolution a vast amount can be learnt from it and the pieces which suit our own struggle can be incorporated in our own strategy and vision for the future.”

This followed on from the New Year message of the leadership of Irish Republican Socialist Movement, which included the following sentence,

‘As Mao Zedong once pointed out, "politics is war without bloodshed," and it is within this context that the Republican Socialist Movement carries forward the struggle.’

Perhaps it is time to look at the implications of applying Maoism to the Irish situation particularly as contained within the Maoist third World document.

After a fairly brief resume of previous Irish history the document, comparing the original UVF to the Russian “Black Hundreds” and comparing them to fascists, quite correctly rejects attempts to portray the national struggle as one revolving around “opposing cultural traditions”,
and rejects the concept of the unionist veto.
Unfortunately it then panders to reactionary and sectarian nationalism by advocating the removal of loyalists to Britain.

“Were we in power, our gift to the loyalists of Ireland who refuse to take their place as members of the Irish nation, free and undivided, would be a one-way ticket back to Britain.”

Remember this from a political tendency that has played little or no part in Irish politics for over 30 years. It certainly seems the further away from a situation then the easier it is to pontificate and take the “hard” position. This certainly goes against the traditional approach of republicanism that sought to embrace all the traditions on the island. It is nearly forty years since this writer last heard anyone advocating this solution. It was wrong then. It is wrong now. It is sectarian, it is anti republican, and it does no service to those struggling for socialism. It has no place in republican socialism.

As if that was not bad enough the document then questions whether Ireland is indeed an oppressed nation because, in its view, the majority of its people have endorsed British rule and repression has declined and all but disappeared from the streets. Try telling that to those republicans and nationalists who have rejected the pacification process and who still endure harassment from the British forces! Look at the figures below
Table 1:
Number of persons stopped and searched under Terrorism Act 2000 TACT S44

1 Apr to 30 Jun 2008 1,341
1 Jul to 30 Sept 2008 1,657
1 Oct to 31 Dec 2008 2,524
1 Jan to 31 Mar 2009 4,026
1 Apr to 30 Jun 2009 3,568
1 Jul to 30 Sept 2009 10,265
2009 (1 Jan to 30 Sept) 17,859
Power to stop and search: Number of person and vehicle searches under section 44 of the Terrorism Act (1)
Year Number of persons stopped and searched Number of vehicles stopped and searched
2005 204 156
2006 948 791
2007 2,167 1,801

Jan–Mar 1,400 1,127
Apr–Jun 1,341 1,123
Jul–Sept 1,657 1,689
Oct–Dec 2,524 2,077
2008 TOTAL 6,922 6,016

These figures combined with newspapers reports that
“MI5: More terrorist plots from Irish Republicans than Islamic extremists” (Editorial THE GUARDIAN 31 December 2009)
indicate clearly that there is still resistance to the pacification process.
While one can clearly disagree with the tactic of armed force at this point in time it is a clear indication that the peace process has not solved the Irish question. Instability still exists and the British institution at Stormont has not yet stabilized the Northern state.

But of course the Maoist Third Worlders don’t believe that the Irish working class has a vested interest in overthrowing capitalism. On the contrary we
“bear the imprint of First World parasitism”

They reject
“ any claims that Ireland is a nation exploited by monopoly capital and any attempts to calculate poverty and exploitation there on the basis of Irish GDP figures taken in isolation from the rest of the world”

Such an analysis owes more to sociology than to socialism. Of course Ireland is a relatively rich country compared to many counties. We don’t have the absolute poverty that exists throughout the world. But it is in our material interests that we try to change our conditions for capitalism is not only exploiting workers in Ireland but it is also in danger of destroying the world we live. Do the Maoists only want us to show solidarity with 3rd world struggles and ignore the continuing exploitation of our class and the natural resources within the island? Are we to wave our banners in support of the struggles in Nepal while ignoring our own problems. Are we to forget the “bourgeoisified” “parasitic” workers on the picket line here in Ireland while lauding the struggling peasants in foreign fields?

That position reminds me of the Irish Socialist Workers Party who opposed the Imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while condemning those who opposed Imperialism in Ireland.

Any revolutionary worth his/her salt knows that the best form of internationalism is the making of revolution with our own countries. Irish republicanism has a proud tradition of internationalism. Wolfe Tone adopted the most revolutionary creed in his day when he became a republican in the tradition of the American and French revolutions. Today the most advanced creed is Marxism but not that form of Marxism pushed by 3rd world Maoists.

They also claim that there is no class in Ireland with a material interest in fighting imperialism in the third world. In deed the
“The Irish working class is a bourgeoisified reactionary parasitic class”

However that position is contradicted by claims that
“Irish Republicans and communists alike have correctly recognised the Irish national bourgeoisie as an ally of the proletariat in the anti-imperialist struggle”

So is there a basis in Ireland for an anti -imperialist struggle or not in Ireland? And if all classes have become integrated into becoming parasitic who is to lead that struggle assuming it exists?

It takes some strange thinking for so called Marxists to call on the Irish working class to dismiss their own material interests in fighting Imperialism
“on the basis of its own class interest, an impossible and reactionary piety,”

Instead we must appeal to the
“proletarian memory” of the Irish people and “join the Maoist third world movement”

Forget materialism- think memory, better still folk memory What leadership!

I’d suggest this is a retreat from Marxism. Maybe next we will be encouraged by the Maoists to be looking deep into our souls to see what is in the best interests of the workers. Yes we can all be like De Valera who looked into his own soul to see what the Irish people needed.

Now it is true that the traditional communist Parties have always adhered to this line and adopted (like the Maoist third worlders) a stagiest approach to the national and class questions. In other words the primary task of the proletariat and communist movement is the removal of the “British occupiers”

However the communist movement in Ireland broke this down even further insisting that civil rights was the first stage and that demands for the solving of the national question be stilled.

It is also true that within republicanism there has always been a section that believed in handing the leadership of the struggle to bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie elements. This approach has led to the infamous stance of De Valera that “Labour must wait” and to the Pan nationalist front of Provisional Sinn Fein and the SDLP that led to the re-establishment of the Stormont regime and the institutionalization of sectarianism within the very fundaments of the regime.

Inevitably, regardless of their intentions, the adherents of the stagiest approach whether it was De Valera, Michael Collins, Sean Mc Bride, Tomas Mc Giolla, Ruari O’ Bradaigh, or Gerry Adams, have all led their movements into blind alleys far removed from their original intentions.
Ireland is still partitioned, Britain still controls directly the six northeasterly counties, republicans are divided, socialists without serious influence and sectarianism a major influence on the working classes in the six counties.

Those who see the national bourgeoisie as allies in the struggle for liberation are wrong. They have no economic interests in ending British rule.

However there has always been a separate strand within Republicanism that has taken a different approach. It has been the approach of the IRSP from its foundation. It was also the stance of James Connolly Ireland’s leading Marxist. It was Seamus Costello’s approach and it was the stance of Ta Power and Gino Gallagher. There is no need to change that stance. The class and national questions are interconnected and cannot be separated.

Those who advocate the stages approach, simply go down the same road that has lead to disaster for the working classes in numerous countries. To make strategic alliances with the class enemy is to betray the revolutionary struggle of the working class.

Gerry Ruddy

The rash of allegations around property developers, toy boys, sexual abuse and corruption in local Government in the north is not before time. The cover up over abuse has been going on for over thirty years within the PIRA. It is no defence nowadays to say or argue that things were done different then. No organisation is immune to members who may be corrupt but the least one would expect is that there is a clear policy to expose and expel those involved in abuse. Perhaps the leader of Provisional Sinn Fein having failed to ensure his brother was in no position to abuse any else and having being the chief of an organisation that simply moved known child abusers around the country should follow the examples of Catholic bishops in the south and resign. Time to go.

For the Irish Revolution-1939

The attitude of the Marxist to acts of terrorism is tolerably well known, for Marxists have been at pains to carefully distinguish between terrorism as a weapon in the hands of a few conspirators, and terrorism, wielded as a weapon of coercion by a revolutionary class against the sabotage and counter-revolution of the dispossessed capitalist remnants.
This opposition to individual terrorism is not of course, based upon any “moral” distaste but rather upon the effectiveness of terrorism as a political weapon. In other words the Marxist weapon of criticism is directed against terrorism as a criticism of weapons.
Thus, the recent campaign of bombings which the Irish Republican Army has directed against the English ruling class must be examined as to their effectiveness in obtaining the ends desired, and viewed in this light the whole campaign can only be sharply condemned as an adventurous and futile escapade which will – like all similar terrorism – ultimately defeat its own ends.
Nevertheless, the struggle which the Irish people has waged for over two hundred years against the tyranny of English dominion must be supported with the utmost vigour by every class conscious worker in this country. Because of this we must address ourselves to the IRA as sympathisers and protagonists in the struggle for Irish liberation.
To the IRA we say:Your terrorist methods are a reflection of the middle class methods of dealing with fundamental problems.
Ireland is reduced to a state of impoverishment that is without parallel in the history of Western Europe. Preyed upon by English capitalists and their Irish lackeys, sucked dry by absentee English landlords, cruelly dominated by the mailed fist of English imperialism, divided and partitioned by English diplomacy – and Irish treachery – with a far greater number of Irishmen scattered abroad than in Ireland itself, poverty stricken, degraded, exploited, divided and repressed, the ruination of Ireland can only be attributed to the avarice and greed of the capitalist class of England and Ireland.
Against the armed might of imperialist Britain you now pit your gallant band of gunmen, the awesome power of the British Government you propose to demolish with your jam-jar bombs and dynamite explosions.
Your whole campaign is redolent of childishness and futility, revealing a complete lack of understanding of the true issues.
A few weeks back, you proclaimed yourselves the Government of Ireland. You blissfully ignored the presence of De Valera, of the entire State apparatus of the Irish capitalist class which, backed up by the English landlords, has decreed the death penalty upon your members. Declaring a state of “armed neutrality” to De Valera – who, by the way, is not neutral – you transfer the war to English territory and proceed to blast the English bourgeoisie into recognition of your aims.
You then succeed in blowing up certain pre-selected property of the English capitalists, meanwhile carefully and with middle class discretion, pointing out that you do not direct your bombs against human life but only against capitalist property. As this property is invariably insured against all possible damage, as the bourgeois gentlemen who own it are invariably tucked up in bed miles away, as the sanctity of human life does not extend to some poor devil of an English worker who is, as usual, the only one who gets blown up, as the terrorist is, if caught, imprisoned for a lengthy term, as finally all this is immediately condemned by the British worker – who has after all a perfectly natural antipathy to being blown sky high – you will see that all your efforts have resulted in a series of minor inconveniences for your enemies, the English bosses, and in alienating the otherwise sympathetic sentiments of your friends, the British workers.
Thus terrorism, which set out to unite Ireland, succeeds in uniting England – against Ireland. The boss class can now play on the anti-terrorist sentiments of the workers in this country and use them as a pretext for encouraging further the repressions of the De Valera Government in Ireland against the IRA
You seem to imagine that the British Government will be scared into granting your demands. Do not deceive yourselves. The British Government is itself the most expert terrorist the world has seen. There is hardly a subject race on the face of the earth, which has not at some time, or other felt the lash of British imperialism, and Ireland has suffered with the rest. The cause of Irish liberation is inextricably bound up with the revolutionary movements of ALL colonial peoples, is truly defended only by the revolutionary MASS movements of the working class in this and other countries.

Is it not obvious to all but the most purblind of patriots, that the present state of Ireland is due in its entirety to the capitalist system?
Do you then, endeavour to rid the world of this iniquity by a bomb explosion?
Ireland occupies the position of being a “back door” to Britain. In the event of a war the rulers of Ireland are in a valuable strategic position; as the last war showed, the Easter rising of 1916 was the utilisation of that position. It was more than that however; it was the prologue to the mighty Russian Revolution.
The British imperialists learn very rapidly; the Irish Republicans would do well to imitate them in this. Realising the importance of Ireland, the British are determined to retain their hold on the country, and accordingly with their accustomed craftiness have partitioned the country into two separate States, they deliberately foster the bitter religious feud which paralyzes the workers in Ulster, they alone of all the countries in the world, permit the sale of the infamous alcohol, “Red Biddy,” among the working population of Northern Ireland, thereby hoping to dope the minds of the working class with religion and befuddle their brains with booze.
You of the IRA are plentifully supplied with money. You have an organisation, which must cost hundreds of pounds per week to maintain, you have a large staff of professional officers and gunmen.
Let us assume that you get your way. For a moment let us assume that you actually take over the Government of Ireland.
Could you solve any of the problems which now inflict the working class of Ireland, could you alleviate a tithe of the appalling distress which eats at the Irish nation, could you produce some plan which will energise agrarian productivity, some bold scheme to re-organise Irish industry, can you tell us how, even if you can do all this, you propose to compete on the world market with the great, long-established imperialisms of Britain and France or the financial oligarchy of the USA?
In a word can you separate the question of Irish independence from the life and death struggle of the working class against capitalism? If you are honest and sincere in your desire for Irish freedom – and such qualities are beyond doubt to be found in the rank and file of the IRA – how can you avoid these questions? And how can you answer them? Can you hope to solve them by killing English workers and endangering the safety of English households? Can the Irish workers be won away from the established Government by a mere paper proclamation, the very signatories of which are outlawed by that same Government?
The answers to these questions will be obvious to all Irish workers: terrorist activity can never replace the mass action of the workers and peasants.
Accordingly it is the duty of all the rank and filers of the IRA to fight a political battle against the rulers of their country and to this end the money which their organisation possesses must be used in the establishment of a powerful printing press. The misery of the Irish toiler calls for instant redress, the curse of religious strife must be denounced, and against the repressions of the Government the workers and small farmers must be mobilised under the banner of the Irish Revolution.
This way lies the path of the Irish people, for capitalism can offer no future to the struggling masses. Only Socialism, only the conquest of power by the revolutionary masses can smash down the walls of hated Partition, can unite the Irish nation.
Ireland must be represented within the Fourth International by a virile and energetic section of revolutionary fighters. Ireland can achieve her emancipation only by means of the Revolution and it is to this end that the workers in the IRA can and must devote their energy.
The battle for the Irish Republic can only be fought on Irish soil for it is there that the crimes of capitalism are perpetrated; the fight of the Irish` workers can only be linked with the similar struggles of the oppressed peoples of the world through the Fourth International, the masses of the Irish workers and farmers can only be allied on a common programme which provides for their common liberation from the shackles of English – and Irish – capitalism.
Workers’ International News, April 1939From Workers’ International News, Vol.2 No.4, April 1939, pp.3-4.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETO

Public sector strikes begin… ICTU needs a clear strategy

The trade union campaign against the wage cuts announced in Lenihan’s December budget will begin to escalate over the next few weeks as different groups of workers across the public sector take action in what is being portrayed as an ongoing campaign of selective action. Today 20th January, the air traffic controllers are coming out, which will have a dramatic and very public effect on air travel. It’s likely that the workers concerned in the various selective actions will receive strike fund support in many cases and as such the campaign could continue for a considerable time. But what is the underlying situation and what are the issues for the movement? The majority of workers will support the ongoing campaign, after all what choice do they have when the government are after taking €1,000s from each of them? The mood that developed in the run up to the November day of action an the November 24th strike was overwhelmingly in favour of a fighting campaign against the cuts. It’s likely that many of the trade union leaders; wedded as they are to the hopelessly outdated policy of social partnership, were forced to go further than they intended. They have been under enormous pressure from the workers on the one hand, while on the other side there has been a relentless campaign of lies and a blatant attempt to try and divide the private sector workers from their brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, friends, parents and children working in the public sector. Of course when the FF leaders talk about the private sector, they really mean the bosses. Private sector means capitalist class in the doublespeak in the Sunday Business Post and the rest of the bourgeois press.
The willingness of the trade union leaders to call off the December strike at the faintest sniff of some talks with the government indicates a number of things; firstly how far from reality the trade union leaders have drifted, but also how scared sections of them are about the militancy of the working class. For sure, it can be an easy life when everything’s going well, as appeared to be the case in the boom years. But now that has turned sharply into its opposite. It cannot be a coincidence that Peter McLoone General Secretary of IMPACT has chosen this moment to stand down – although he had been due to retire in a few months when he hits 60.

As the Irish Independent explains:

"A SENIOR union leader who saw social partnership go from boom to bust is set to retire.Peter McLoone will step down from his position as general secretary of the country's largest public sector union, Impact, this summer. Just before the Budget, he almost persuaded the Taoiseach to embrace a controversial plan to avoid a €1bn public sector pay cut. In his role as chairman of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' Public Services Committee, he advocated that public servants get two weeks' unpaid leave rather than take a pay cut. The proposal was initially backed by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, but was dramatically rejected just days before the Budget. Mr. McLoone was also in the spotlight as chairman of the FAS board, which resigned following allegations of excessive spending at the employment agency.”
The union leader has been described as a "high priest" of social partnership over the last two decades.
He is still expected to play a role in the union movement's strategy following the collapse of the process before Christmas.”
As Fightback has pointed out however, it would take a sight more than a high priest to negotiate anything meaningful with a FF government that has more or less decided that they have nothing to lose. As we’ve also explained consistently over the past period; the only force that can defeat the plans drawn up by Lenihan and Cowen is the mass action of the working class. The coalition is in serious trouble and it’s obvious that many in the government have decided that they have no alternative but to take on the workers, after all why not be hung for a sheep as a goat? They know they will be slaughtered at the next election.

With that in mind how does a campaign of selective action stack up? The biggest risk in a trade union struggle is loss of momentum and disillusionment, selective action can be very effective, especially in organisations reliant on “just in time” production methods. It’s a bit different in the Public Sector although some groups of workers have a lot more industrial muscle than others, the Air traffic controllers being a case in point. The American Bourgeois went as far as locking them in irons and dragging them off the premises. Things aren’t at that point in Ireland at the moment, but the fact that the employers in the docks were willing to employ ex British Special Forces troops as security guards means that the stakes are high.

A small group of workers engaged in selective action needs to feel the support of the entire work force and that means all out action and regular meetings, rallies and above all a leadership that knows what its doing not only at branch and shop level, but crucially at a national level. Selective action has to be backed up by the threat of all out action. The bosses will be readying themselves to use whatever legal, political and social weapons they can to stop the strikes from succeeding.

There must be a clear call to workers in the private sector and a clear explanation of the reasons behind the actions. It’s obvious that the attack on the public sector is a precursor to an assault on the private sector. Many workers have already been forced to take cuts and to go on short time. Last summer sections of the Electrical Contractors Employers made it quite plain that they were after breaking apart the REA in the industry which would be a green light for wage cuts on a vast scale. The public sector trade unions represent a big obstacle to the bosses. If they can get away with defeating the public sector unions then other layers are much more exposed.

Crucial in all of this is leadership. This isn’t the time for High Priests of Social Partnership, their day is long gone. The Irish trade unions need a fighting socialist leadership committed to mass action to defeat all the cuts and the levies. The role of Marxism has to be to patiently explain the alternative. The trade union and Labour organisations will be transformed time and time again, there is a clear reason for that; there is no other choice open to them.

From Internet discussions.

“Personally I believe the world of militant armed force republicanism is so riddled with informers and agents that the only politically sensible thing that Inla should do is to get off the very dirty stage, and to do that they should decommission, time will then judge that they were correct not to listen to the fireside soldiers!! “
“Such a laugh, whatever the RSM do I'm sure they will do with dignity, we need class war in Ireland, militant republicanism has been defeated and indeed infiltrated to such an extent that they should all disband and decommission. Only from that point can the politics of class war be taken to a new level.”

“The class war has yet to begin to be fair, I believe inla should decommission, get out of the very infiltrated world of militant republicanism, radicalise and politicise it's youth and membership and take it from there, people need to have confidence in our politics and membership, when Patsy said "let the fight go on" he was speaking to his family in the context of the hunger striker but being a revolutionary republican he knew there was no parliamentary road to socialism, the leadership no doubt know and believe this too, it should not be confused with getting off the defunct militant republican stage which is rife with agents, we need to create the conditions in which to agitate pushing the oppressor capitalist system, we need class war, in my view despite what is termed decommissioning I believe the RSM will always be prepared for that. We do not need another pigeon holed Provo mark 4 type of armed struggle doomed to failure, become relevant to the working class and our politics will be the cutting edge

Above we reprint 3 comments from the Internet by a leading member of the IRSP. While we agree with the general gist of his/her comments we have concerns about the use of the word
If it means to decommission a mind-set of militarism then we applaud the sentiments. Far to often on the Internet fire side soldiers jump up and down in ecstasy at the use of armed force
If it means to stand down the INLA and encourage volunteers to become totally immersed in political class struggle then it is to be applauded.
The Red Plough agrees with the IRSP that the political road is the only road to travel at this time.
However many republicans take the term to mean the decommissioning of weapons. In previous armed campaigns republican volunteers dumped their weapons all over Ireland when the armed campaign came to an end. That is the only way for Republicans to decommission. There is no honour in allowing British forces to decommission republican weapons. Below we reprint two resolutions passed by the Ard-feis of the IRSP that still stand as party policy.


6. Ard-Fheis believes that this movement should not have any contact whatsoever with bodies such as the District Police Partnership Board, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, or the Independent Monitoring Commission. The IRSP declares its opposition to republicans ever taking seats on the Northern Ireland Policing Board. The IRSP declare the police force of the six counties to be irreformable, no matter what name, uniform, or emblems it uses. [Strabane; IRSCNA]
7. Ard-Fheis calls for no decommissioning from the Irish National Liberation Army or disbandment of the INLA no matter what pressures or inducements are offered from the British occupiers of our country and following on from the Northern Ireland Secretary of State's meeting with representatives of the Ulster Defence Association and the buying off of that group with £3 million it is our view that the Irish Republican Socialist Movement under no circumstances enter into any similar negotiations. [Kevin Lynch Cumann, North Derry; Derry City; Strabane; Dublin]

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