Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Red Plough

Vol. 1-No- 6

Monday March 22nd 2010

E-mail newsletter

1) Editorial

2) A Tribute To Denis Murphy

3) The Forward March Of Republicanism Halted?

4) A Fundamentalist’s Cover up

5) On Religion-Karl Marx

6) What’s on


We carry a tribute to an IRSP comrade, Denis Murphy who died recently in Dublin. Denis, like many others, saw the connection between the class and national question- that they were inseparable. Though’ once a member of the WRP, Denis did not carry any political sectarian baggage with him and worked hard and unselfishly for the working class.

The oration was delivered at the graveside in Bodenstown Graveyard by Kevin Morley, a long time comrade of Denis.

Liam O’Ruaric has delivered an important speech recently on Irish Republicanism. We reprint it here and believe that it can contribute to the ongoing debate on the relevance of republicanism. The Red Plough will be happy to republish any response to this document.

The turmoil going on in the Roman Catholic Church is dealt with in the article” A Fundamentalist’s Cover up.”


Firstly and perhaps most importantly on behalf of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement I would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Denis Murphy on your sad loss. No amount of words can compensate for your grief.

I have known Denis since the mid 1980s when he first became involved with the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Denis believed vehemently in workers rights and ultimate emancipation from the chains of capitalism, which restricts working class development. These ideas were epitomised in the early 1980s during the Clondalkin Paper Mills dispute resulting in workers occupation of the mills. Denis would often speak of these days with a certain amount of justifiable pride for his class and his own involvement in the heroic stance taken by the workers of the mills against an aggressive management.

At this time Denis was a member and activist in the Workers Revolutionary Party an organisation which was dedicated, like Denis, to working class emancipation and could boast celebrities like the actress Vanessa Redgrave in their ranks. However for Denis an integral part of this emancipation of the working class included, certainly in its Irish context, the national liberation of Ireland. This of course meant a British withdrawal from the six counties and unfortunately the Workers Revolutionary Party were not up to the mark in this respect.

This led Denis, along with some other comrades, to join the ranks of the Irish Republican Socialist Party which linked the struggle for working class emancipation and the struggle for national liberation as part and parcel of the same struggle. Denis remained loyal to the IRSP and active within its ranks up until his recent illness and ultimate sad departure. He saw political activity as encompassing many facets and not, as some did, merely as armed struggle. Even though he realised the importance of this tactic it was not and is not the be all and end all of politics or a sacred cow. Denis believed in the primacy of politics over violence even though he realised that unfortunately this was sometimes a necessary evil.

The political activities and participations of Denis Murphy ranged from selling The Starry Plough, which is the organ of the IRSP, to involving himself in such campaigns as anti racism to combating the scourge of drugs. His commitment to fighting against the problem of drugs and substance abuse within working class communities culminated with him working on a voluntary basis, leading eventually to full time employment, for the Crumlin Drug and Substance abuse Centre, a job he held dear to his heart. Denis also involved himself in trade union activity and various other aspects of work both within his community and at the point of production, and this is to mention but a few examples of the work Denis immersed himself in.

Denis along with myself were IRSP delegates to the Anti Racist Campaign an organisation dedicated to the cause of minority rights and fighting the evils of deportation. Coupled with these campaigns Denis also saw the potential of entering elections and in the late 1990s that is precisely what he did entering the local elections on an IRSP ticket. He knew he stood little chance of winning a seat in these elections but this did not deter him from taking part. It was an occasion, which won Denis many friends within his own community and the broader political sphere. He surprised many of his critics during these elections many who thought he would not even reach the fifty mark in terms of votes. How wrong they were as he polled remarkably well for his first attempt surpassing even his own expectations and thus silencing those bar room critics who thought the idea was a joke. Perhaps these people should take a valid lesson from the courage of Denis Murphy. Nice one Denis.

Denis showed courage and commitment to his politics and ideals right to the end. Whenever there was a commemoration to the fallen of the republican socialist movement and, indeed, republicans in general he would be ever present. From the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration to that of volunteer John Morris Denis Murphy could be relied upon to be in the ranks.

Denis will be sadly missed firstly and fore mostly by his family but also by the republican socialist movement as a whole. Such campaigners and political activists as Denis are few and far between, often irreplaceable, and his absence within the ranks of the IRSP will be sorrowfully noticed.

By Liam O’Ruaric

“Philosophy, which once seemed obsolete, lives on because the moment to realize it was missed. The summary judgement that it had merely interpreted the world…becomes a defeatism of reason after the attempt to change the world has miscarried.” (T.W.Adorno, Negative Dialektik, Frankfurt/M : Suhrkamp Verlag, 1966, 3)

“I don’t claim to have solved any problems. I am merely suggesting that a moment came when it no longer frightened me to look at what happened…I have been struggling to say goodbye to something for a long time now, and this struggle is all that really matters. The story is not in the words ; it is in the struggle.” (Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy, London: Faber, 1987, 294)

I will set the crisis of republicanism within a comparative context first by working out a historical parallel between what is going on today with republicanism in the six counties and what historically happened to republicanism in the 26 counties, and secondly by linking it to the global crisis of the left who sought to radicalise the democratic content of the enlightenment.

When the Irish Free State was set up in the 1920s it was the product of a civil war and state institutions suffered from significant legitimacy deficit. Therefore there was significant political space for anti-treaty republicanism and radical politics to grow. As we all know, Fianna Fail went into the state with the intent to subvert it from within and ultimately became part and parcel of the very institutions it intended to destroy. But in the process, it successfully enacted a number of reforms which satisfied the political demands and materials interests of the majority of the population. With time this enabled the 26 county state to increase its legitimacy in the eyes of a growing number of people who previously opposed its institutions. Because of these relatively successful reforms, the political space available for traditional republicanism and radical politics instead of increasing became more and more restricted. Thus today traditional republicanism carries very marginal political weight in the 26 counties. For example, Republican Sinn Fein has only one elected councillor, while the political party of Mary Lou McDonald finds it difficult to get more than four TDs elected; and even if it did it would be difficult for Adams to succeed with 6 TDs where De Valera failed with 60.

My thesis is that today a similar process is at work in the six counties. For decades more than a third of its population was deeply alienated from its institutions. The Orange State, as Michael Farrell called it in his classic book, suffered from fundamental legitimacy deficit in the eyes of its Nationalist population. (1) Therefore, there was significant space for republicanism or radical politics to develop. In 1998, the party of Gerry Adams went into Stormont with the intent to transform it from within as part of a transitional strategy towards an Ireland of equals. It ended up
“administering British rule in Ireland for the foreseeable future” to quote senior member Francie Molloy (2) and criminalising republicans still engaged in armed actions against the British state. But thanks to its strong advocacy of fair employment and human rights legislation included within the Belfast Agreement, it succeeded in creating ‘parity of esteem’ and ‘equality’ for Nationalists in the six counties.

The material conditions of existence of the Nationalist population of the North have never been as good as they are now. It is undeniable that the educational, economic and cultural indices for the newly emergent nationalist population are rising. (3) Leading Provisional Sinn Fein member Jim Gibney claims that he is proud to be a ‘sixty niner’ as thanks to the struggle of people of that generation nationalists will never again be second-class citizens. (4)

"The north we live in today is not the same north of Ireland in which we grew up, where we suffered discrimination, where we were curfewed and interned and shot down on our streets when we protested, where political expression was censored and banned and nationalist votes did not count. ... I repeat, the six counties that I and my parents grew up in does not exist any more...The peace process and republicans changed all of that. Today nationalists and republicans have significant political power and influence. ...Real change is represented by the all-Ireland ministerial council, by nationalist MLAs in the assembly and various committees and in the strength and growth of the Irish language across the north. It is represented in the absence of British soldiers on our streets, in the absence of British fortresses, in the absence of a loyalist militia like the UDR or RIR and in the dismantling of repressive laws. It is represented in the existence of the human rights and equality commissions, in the presence of republicans and nationalists on the Policing Board and in the new police service, the PSNI." (5)

Sean Lynch was Officer Commanding the Provisional IRA in the Maze Prison from 1992 until 1995 and is now chairman of Sinn Fein in Fermanagh. He says the North of Ireland today bears no comparison to the "one party sectarian state" in which he grew up, where "unionists dominated and discriminated" and "nationalists were second class citizens, denied rights in their own country". Mr. Lynch says:

"The Peace Process and republicans have changed all that." ... "The Sinn Fein peace strategy has been hugely successful. The Orange State, as I knew it, is gone. The political relationships on the island are being redefined. The union is hollowed out as an increasingly confident nationalist community takes co-ownership of the Northern and All-Ireland Institutions. The Irish language and national identity in the six counties is vibrant. I have five nieces and nephews under the age of 10 who are fluent Gaelic speakers and proud of their cultural identity. The North is being demilitarised, the police are coming under the account of Irish people rather than British securicrats,"
he adds." (6) Gerry Adams has stated that "the Orange State as we knew it is gone", (7) something also acknowledged by some of his republican opponents. (8)

Martin McGuinness also emphasizes that “ the Orange state has gone and the Orange state is never, ever coming back. “ (9)

Things have changed so much that some even warn that the North is in danger of becoming “a cold house for Protestants”. (10) This has enabled British rule in the six counties to increase its legitimacy in the eyes of a growing number of nationalists. Thus while in the past Provisionals promised no return to Stormont, their argument today is "Why should we be afraid of Stormont? It’s our parliament too." (11)

The extent to which six counties institutions are increasing in legitimacy can also be illustrated by the acceptance of a growing number of Nationalists of British policing. The repressive apparatus of the British state has become sufficiently acceptable for the party of Gerry Adams to call for the creation of a special unit to deal with so-called ‘dissidents’. (12)

Let us recall here that the only ‘dissident’ republicans are those administering British rule in Stormont. As Henry Patterson notes,
in terms of Irish Republicanism it is Adams and McGuinness who are the real ‘dissidents’ having consigned all their most sacred principles to the dustbin of history “ (13)

The consequence of all this is that the political space for traditional republicanism is getting smaller.

Anthony McIntyre noted that: 'Dissident is like disease' according to one source, they are 'hated more than the RUC, the British Army or the SAS'. (14) Traditional Republicans are now more hated by ordinary nationalists than crown forces.

The Belfast Agreement has a double logic. On the one hand, it represents a defeat for republicanism, copper fastens partition and strengthens British rule. But on the other hand its also represents a victory for nationalism in at least two respects. The first, which I have just discussed is that it advances nationalist communal interests within the North itself. As Suzanne Breen points out:
There has been undeniable advancement in many areas for Catholics in the North, but within existing constitutional arrangements.”(15)

The result has been an aggressive nationalist triumphalism, in the words of Paul Bew a transition “from ethnic rage to ethnic vanity”. (16)
Or to paraphrase Malachi O Doherty, the
‘Most Oppressed People Ever’ have now become the ‘Most Successful People Ever’.

The second respect in which it represents a victory for nationalism is the shift from republicanism to identity politics. The politics of New Sinn Fein are now essentially about the recognition of the nationalist ‘identity’ and ensuring its ‘parity of esteem’ within the North, thus enabling nationalism to dominate republicanism, the particularist element dominating the universal as Kevin discussed earlier. With the principle of consent accepted and Republicanism defeated, nationalists have concentrated their attention on culture, marches, flags and symbols.

For example, New Sinn Fein calls for equality at Stormont no longer for its abolition: statues of Republican icons should be placed at Stormont to make it more welcoming for Nationalists the party has stated. (17) As Eamonn McCann points out:

“ It’s because some Nationalists are uneasy at their own acceptance of Northern Ireland that they feel they have to make a show of rhetorical opposition to it. It is because in practical terms they have endorsed the legitimacy of the Northern Ireland state that they denounce symbolic representations of it all the more loudly.” (18)

The shift from real issues to symbolic ones is part of general trend of transforming political aspirations to cultural ones. (19) For example, The Economist notes that

“(the) Irish (language) gives Sinn Fein a popular issue to cover its climb-down from traditional demands for Irish unity.” (20)

The crisis of republicanism and the diminishing political space for it cannot be seen in isolation from international trends, the crisis of the left in particular.

There is a strong relation between the crisis of actually existing socialism and actually existing national liberation movements; both of whom attempted to radicalise the democratic content of the enlightenment. Even when it was at its strongest, in no Western European countries has the communist movement in its various forms been able to break the hegemony of social democracy over the majority of workers or mount a significant political challenge to the state.

Reformism has been sufficiently successful to close that political space and legitimise bourgeois democracy and the capitalist state in the eyes of the vast majority of workers in general and those on the left in particular.

The counter-revolutions in 1989 which destroyed actually existing socialism and other historical set backs such as the defeat of the 1984 miners strike in Britain have aggravated the crisis further. Mass membership of trade unions and political parties of the left is a pale shadow of once was, ensuring in the words of the historian Eric Hobsbawm that “the forward march of labour is halted “. (21)

In terms of consciousness and organisation the left today is very weak. The very concept of the political left is now in question as today there seems to be a consensus between political parties formally of the left and the right that there is no solution to the current crisis, only good or bad management of it. Today, as Frederic Jameson perspicaciously remarked, few seriously consider alternatives to capitalism any longer. Or as Slavoj Zizek puts it:
"It is easier to imagine the ‘end of the world’ than a far more modest change in the mode of production." (22)

It is my belief that the fundamental characteristic of this period for progressive and democratic projects is one of defeat and failure. As Perry Anderson wrote ten years ago:
“ The only point for a realistic Left today is a lucid registration of historical defeat. Capital has comprehensively beaten back all threat to its rule, the bases of whose power…were persistently underestimated by the socialist movement…No collective agency able to match the power of capital is yet on the horizon.” (23)

Significant sections of the left and of republicanism believe that developments since 2008 are changing this. They argue that the current economic crisis creates opportunities for a left project to emerge. Republican Sinn Fein states that
“ the recent stand made by the youth of Belfast, Derry, Armagh and other nationalist areas in taking on Crown forces in defence of their communities is a clear signal that the spirit of resistance is still very much alive.” (24)

To such ‘optimism of the will’ one can oppose the ‘pessimism of the intellect’. (25) There is no automatic connection between economic crisis and political crisis and workers no longer identify their struggles with the need for a socialist society. Comparing the situation of the 1930s with the current one, a Guardian columnist concluded last month that
“ After 1929 a generation leapt leftward. Not today. Socialism has been buried. The Wall Street crash of 1929 and ensuing slump drove a whole generation leftward. What is striking is that this has not happened again, and how little damage the latest financial crisis has made to the repute of the existing order.” (26)

Similarly, while republican actions obstruct the normalisation of the six counties they remain at
“an ‘acceptable level of violence’ albeit at a far lower level than when the phrase was first coined “ as Hugh Orde pointed last week. (27)

But all this should not detract us that if the space for political projects such as republicanism or socialism which radicalise the enlightenment’s democratic and emancipatory content is narrow, it is nevertheless real for a number of reasons. To argue that the post Belfast Agreement Northern Ireland “is ‘more stable’ and ‘more legitimate’ is not the same thing as suggesting that it is either stabilised or legitimised.” (28)

Irish Republicanism is not yet a "dead dog" that can be ignored or passed over. It played a significant historical role, and is still a major element in Irish political life today. It is impossible to build a left current that either ignores or remains outside Republicanism. To ignore it would be ignoring the experience of history and a major political force today.

Also there is a democratic content within Republicanism that has not yet exhausted itself. The fact that there exists within Irish Republicanism a conservative as well as a radical element, and that there is a militarist and elitist tendency as well as a democratic and popular one should of course not be passed over. What is essential is that there is within Republicanism a potential for radical development. The task ahead is to develop that radical potential. We could characterise Republicanism in the same way Jurgen Habermas characterised modernity: 'an unfinished project.' (29) In 1989 Daithi O Conaill stated that the Republican movement’s true role was to be the
“ catalyst for the progressive forces of this country and abroad “ (30)
That is the main challenge we face today.

(1) Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland: The Orange State, London: Pluto Press, 1976
(2) Quoted in Liam Clarke and Michael Jones, Trimble shows more flexibility over IRA arms, The Sunday Times 28 March 1999
(3) The hand of history, revisited, The Economist, 3 April 2008
(4) Jim Gibney, Spirit of ’69 still hindered by obstacles, The Irish News, 21 July 2005
(5) Jim Gibney, Armed action have no place in today's Ireland, The Irish News, 12 March 2009
(6) Chris Donegan, I fought the war but the war is over says Lynch, The Impartial Reporter, 26 March 2009
(7) Barry McCaffrey, Adams: Dissidents must not hijack republicanism, The Irish News, 13 April 2009
(8) According to Fourthwrite the Belfast Agreement "signalled an end to the Orange State" (Editorial, There is another way, Fourthwrite, Issue 35, Spring 2009)
(9) ‘The Orange state is gone forever’: McGuinness, The Derry Journal, 23 February 2010
(10) Reid warning over alienation, BBC website, 21 November 2001
(11) Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA, London: HarperCollins, fifth revised and updated edition, 2000, 715
(12) Adrian Rutherford and Deborah McAleese, Dissident Attacks prompt calls for special PSNI unit, The Belfast Telegraph, 10 March 2010
(13) Henry Patterson, Inevitable deal would be mix of clarity and vagueness, The Newsletter, 6 February 2010
(14) Anthony McIntyre, Of Myths and Men in: Aaron Edwards and Stephen Bloomer, Transforming the Peace Process in Northern Ireland: From terrorism to democratic politics, Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2008, 123
(15) Suzanne Breen, ‘I’ll jail McGuinness any day soon’, jokes Paisley, The Sunday Tribune, 6 May 2007
(16) Paul Bew, The Making and Remaking of the Good Friday Agreement, Dublin : The Liffey Press, 2007, 71
(17) Damian McCarney, Equality call for flags and emblems at Stormont, Andersonstown News, 15 May 2007
(18) Eamonn McCann, Rooting for England, The Sunday Journal, 11 September 2005
(19) Mark Ryan, War and Peace in Ireland, London : Pluto Press, 1994, 135
(20) A tongue-twister of a dispute, The Economist, 25 September 2008
(21) Eric Hobsbawm, The Forward March of Labour Halted? Marxism Today, September 1978, pp.279-286
(22) Slavoj Zizek (ed), Mapping Ideology, London: Verso, 1994, p.1
(23) Perry Anderson, Renewals, New Left Review 1, January-February 2000, 16
(24) Republican youth take on Brits, Saoirse, August 2009
(25) Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1971, 175
(26) Geoffrey Wheatcroft, After 1929 a generation leapt leftward. Not today. Socialism has been buried, The Guardian, 9 February 2010
(27) Brian Rowan, Why we should consider dialogue with dissidents, The Belfast Telegraph, 11 March 2010
(28) Robbie McVeigh, Racism and Sectarianism in Northern Ireland, in Sara O Sullivan (ed) Contemporary Ireland: A Sociological Map, Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2007, 416
(29) Jurgen Habermas, Die Moderne – ein unvollendetes Projekt, in Jurgen Habermas, Kleine Politische Schriften (I-IV), Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1981, pp.444-464
(30) Daithi O Conaill, Eire Nua : Best basis for peace and justice, Saoirse, July 1989

Speech given at
reproduced at

A Fundamentalist’s Cover up

The Roman Catholic Church is in a deep state of crisis caused mainly by the rash of revelations about persistent sexual abuse of minors by Priests lasting over decades. But what also causes serious concerns for members of that Church is the cover-up over years by those in the highest authority of that Church. The Vatican knew from 1962 that a significant number of priests were raping children. A secret order called “The Crimen Sollicitationis” ordered Bishops to swear their victims to secrecy and then to move the offending priest from Parish to Parish. That order determined the way many Bishops acted as they did since then until the late 1990’s.

The current Head of the Roman Catholic Church is Pope Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger. During his teenage years and nearing the end of the 2nd World War Ratzinger was a member, allegedly involuntary, of Hitler Youth movement. However when he became a priest he moved towards a modernist agenda. He studied theology and was regarded as a leading moderniser and a very important theologian so much so, that he was adviser to the German Bishops at the Vatican 11 Council from 1963-65.

The second Vatican Council was attended by over 2,800 bishops during that time and had been called by Pope John 23RD to bring the Roman Catholic Church into the modern age. It saw the biggest shake up of that Church since the Reformation of the 16th century.

However Ratzinger’s modernism was short lived. Faced with the radicalisation of the student movement of the late sixties and the espousal of Marxist ideas by millions world wide including many younger radicalised priests, particularly in South America, he reverted to the authoritarian ideals of his youth. For example faced with the growth of a youth culture influenced by music and a libertarian life style Ratzinger saw pop music as “ a vehicle of anti-religion.”

During Ratzinger’s time as Archbishop of Munich at least one paedophile priest was moved from parish to parish. Ratzinger now claims he did not know this.

Yet when moved to Rome, where he became the “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” he insisted as the person in charge of the Vatican’s response to priestly paedophilia that every case be referred to him. That happened for 20 years.

The BBC’s Panorama programme exposed the case of priest Tarcisio Spricigo first accused in 1991 in Brazil. The Vatican moved him four times and he was only stopped in 2005, after 14 years of continuous abuse of young children when the police caught him. That was on Ratzinger’s watch.

Indeed in 2001 he issued another strict secret order that charges of child rape should be investigated by the Church

“in the most secretive way….restrained by perpetual silence…. and everyone .. is to observe the strictest secrecy.”

A Vatican Lawyer, Fr. Tom Doyle, publicly said that this policy
“is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes.”

Needless to say he was sacked.

As the “hard man at the Vatican, Ratzinger saw his role as defending and protecting the name of the Church while paying scant attention to its victims. As “Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” he purged the liberal Swiss Theologian, Hans Kung.

The founder of the “Legionaries of Christ” Marcial Maciel was accused by numerous young priests, of abusing them sexually.

Ratzinger forced him to resign and his punishment was to live a life of prayer and penitence. There was no consideration for the victims. Later two of Maciel’s illegitimate sons accused him of the repeated rape of them from the age of seven. (“The Legionaries of Christ” was a favourite religious order of the previous Pop.)

Since becoming Pope he has hardened his authoritarian stance. In a 2006 lecture in Germany he quoted a Byzantine emperor

“Show me what Mohammed brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman”

This was and is grossly insulting to the Muslim world.

In the same year at Auschwitz, he managed to offend Jews by only mentioning by name, Christian victims of the Holocaust. Furthermore the reason for the Holocaust, (in which 6 million Jews died) was because

“deep down those vicious criminals wanted to kill the God who called Abraham-------By destroying Israel they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith.”

He welcomed back in to the RC Church the Society of St Pius X one of whose Bishops, Richard Wiliamson, denied the truth of the Holocaust.

In Africa facing a huge Aids epidemic he condemned the use of condoms claiming they would make matters worse.

He refused to sign a United Nations declaration on the rights of Gays and the disabled.
In Brazil he denied that the local indigenous people had an alien religion forced on them.

So at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church is a darkness of authoritarianism, self –delusion, paranoia and a culture of cover-up and denial of human sexuality that has spawned the monster of paedophilia.

It is now no wonder that the secret veil that Church threw over its priests to protect the “good name of the Church” has been ripped asunder by the victims of physical sexual and emotional abuse endured for decades, not only in Ireland, but now clearly seen, world wide.

Victims were sworn to secrecy on oath. Priest abusers and victims (depending on their social class), were given payoffs. The priest abusers were shifted around country to country, parish to parish, to continue to prey on the innocent whilst those who knew, and paid off, and covered up these dreadful crimes, rose through the ranks of that Church to the highest positions whilst their flocks in ignorance of the reality, continued to touch their forelocks whilst the holy ones passed by. The same policy was also carried out in schools under the control of the RC Church.

Now all changed. Daily new evidence emerges of the crimes of cover-ups abuses and payoffs of the RC Church. Many of its victims have had their lives totally ruined or been so traumatised that they have been unable to maximise their human potential or live life to the fullest.

That is why it is so important for socialist to take a very clear and unambiguously clear line on the role of religious institutions in society. All religious schools should be self –financed. The state should neither subsidise religious school nor the preparatory schools of the middle classes (as they are in the North of Ireland)

Religion and the state need to be clearly separated. Socialists and republicans need to articulate as clearly as possible the need for a secular state. That of course does not mean the denigration of religious belief nor the persecution of religious beliefs. To deny the expression of ideas or beliefs does not make the belief go away.

Our world is full of irrational ideas. Some people believe in fairies and ghosts. Others believe the working class in Ireland are a bourgeoisified reactionary parasitic (see The Red Plough Vol 1-4)

The religious right in the USA want to replace the USA constitution with the Bible
“The Bible states reality for all areas of life and thought… in the spheres of law, government economics, business education, arts and communication, medicine psychology and science”
“All theories and practices of these spheres of life are only true right and realistic to the degree that they agree with the Bible”
(Religion Gone Bad” Mel White Page 252)

These ideas can not be eliminated by force or decree. Karl Marx pored scorn on the Blanquists in the 19th century when he wrote

“In order to prove that they are the most radical of all they abolish God by decree as was done in 1793”
“-persecution is the best means of of promoting undesirable convictions”
Marx, K. and F. Engels “On Religion.” Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1957(page142)

But neither should these irrational ideas be treated as if they are the word of a God. All religions need to be critically scrutinised and subjected to analysis. Indeed subject to ridicule. No respect needs to be given to those fundamentalists of whatever hue who would issue death threats against those who mock or criticise their beliefs.

Perhaps the current crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland will now lead to a more open critical analysis by commentators of the reactionary role played by all churches in Ireland. The outbreak of news programmes discussing the Popes letter to the Irish Roman Catholic Church shows a growing questioning. And about time. Yet in these programmes and discussions little emphasis is placed on who had the ultimate responsibility for covering up the rape of children. It was not the Irish Bishops who were merely carrying out the instructions of Rome. Their grave errors of judgment were and are also Ratzinger’s. No the person responsible was and is Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XV1. His letter failed to address the real issues nor was there any sign that he recognised what is happening. He blamed growing secularisation, even Vatican 2 for the current scandals and has since talked about
“unforgiving of the sin but merciful to the person”
“he who is with out sin to cast the first stone”

His approach contrast with that of Pope Pius V who in 1568 in a Papal Order “Horrendum” ordered that priests who abused children were to be stripped of the priesthood, deprived of all income and privileges and handed over to the civil authorities. That’s a far cry from paying them off and or moving them around from parish to parish and failing to report child rape to the civil authorities as was done under Ratzinger’s watch..

Sectarianism is not some strange creation that arose within the body politic. It has been nurtured fed and watered by successive leaders of political and religious sects in pursuit of power and influence. It is no accident that after the failed 1798 rebellion by the Republican United Irishmen it was the British government that financed the establishment of the seminary at Maynooth to produce the kind of Catholic priest that would condemn Fenianism to the deepest holes in hell.

The institutional Roman Catholic Church has since its pact with the Roman Empire known which side its bread was buttered on. It is and always was a bastion of reaction. Regardless of the goodness or otherwise of its individual ministers, the institution has always been a friend and ally of the ruling classes. Reform or resignations at the top will not change it. It will still be the arrogant parasitic body it has always been. It is no friend of the Irish working class.

Gerry Ruddy

References and Sources.

The Independent Newspaper 15 March. “The Dark Side of the Pope”
The Independent Newspaper 19th March “Opinion and Debate”

Marx, K. and F. Engels “On Religion.” Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1957
(Religion Gone Bad” Mel White

The Blanquist Party
The Blanquists were founded by Louis-Auguste Blanqui in the years following 1865. They were a socialist organization and were hostile towards both the church and the regular French army and one which, alongside the International, dominated the socialist political scene in Paris during the commune, making socialism appealing to those who did not approve of the Inernational. Their actions brought socialism to a larger group of people, strengthening and spreading the movement. A group of dedicated revolutionaries, even Karl Marx, who saw them as pretenders to the real socialist movement, respected them and their actions. Their founder was their most important and most visible figure. Blanqui had been imprisoned for over 33 years in various prisons for his actions against the government, and had been responsible for many of the demonstrations against the government immediately prior to the founding of the Commune.

On Religion-Karl Marx

“ The basis of irreligious criticism is: man makes religion, religion does not make man. In other words Religion is the self-consciousness and self-feeling of man who has either not yet won found himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, a reversed world consciousness because they are a reversed world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn completion, and its universal ground for consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence because the human essence has no true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore mediately the fight against the other world of which religion is the spiritual aroma.

Religious distress is, at one and the same time, the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.

The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of the vale of woe, the halo of which is religion.”

Marx, K.
“Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction
Marx, K. and F. Engels “On Religion.” Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1957(page42)

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