Friday, 1 March 2013

The Red Plough Vol 4-2

                      The  Red Plough

Vol. 4-No 2

 February 2012


Politics is a dangerous business in many countries. Across the world political activists are routinely tortured, jailed,slandered or shot for their political views, even when they are not advocates of armed struggle. This happens, even to those who accept capitalism, and to many who would consider themselves social democrat or reformists. Politics is therefore doubly dangerous for those of us who are opposed not merely to the political system but also the economic system of capitalism.

The economic system has many defenders, police army, agents, media moguls, easy to buy journalists /trade union officials and many others.The economic elites at the pinnacle of the system have wealth, power, influence, control most of the world’s natural resources and have the ears of the political elites.

British Agent Donaldson
 Furthermore the system is always on the alert for those who threaten it. Therefore they always infiltrate organisations, which might appear to threaten the stability of the capitalist system (tho that system) is inherently unstable. 
Recently the state broadcaster in Norway aired a documentary revealing the story of a police informant, Christian Høibø. He infiltrated both a leftwing organisation called International Socialists(IS) and Blitz, an anarchist/autonomist collective). He joined the IS in 2002, but later dropped out to infiltrate Blitz instead. He also infiltrated the Norwegian Defence League (a Norwegian chapter of the racist, anti-immigrant English Defence League). Part of his duties were to encourage physical confrontations with the police and he was at one stage arrested while making Molotov Cocktails but never charged. 
Part of the duties of infiltrators and informants is to gather information about organisations including membership lists and who have authority and leadership positions. They are also encouraged to propose militant and adventurist actions that will bring discredit to the organisation.  But another of their tasks is to spread misinformation about key people within organisations. By innuendo, lies, gossip, and half truths they try to undermine morale, turning organisations with similar views  into bitterest enemies.
Those in opposition to the system that uses such informers have little, except the power of their ideas. The ideas of Marxism include values such as comradeship, solidarity and co-operation. But vigilance is also required within organisations to minimise the influences of the police agents. 
It is a political approach totally opposed to the individual greed inherent within capitalism the me- me- me- philosophy Collectivism not individualism is the way forward for humanity. Contrary to what the defenders of capitalism allege, this does not mean the suppression of the individual, rather that under a collective system the individual talents of all will have an opportunity to bloom. Today”s capitalist system works for only a tiny minority. A tiny minority that he tout, informer collaborator, and police agent will never join. 
Another aspect of Marxism is  that the liberation of the class is the task of the class itself. While the necessity for leadership is obvious, no so called “vanguard “party can act in place of the class itself. 
While there are as many different socialist groups as there are religions in the world  one would expect that they would both in theory and practice espouse core values such as the above mentioned, comradeship, solidarity and co-operation.
Alas that is not the case. Sadly while there are many differences about tactics and strategy between the various socialist groupings there is very little comradeship between them. When a difference seems to arise then the blood-letting begins.
Why this is so can only be surmised.Some put differences down to state conspiracies, the work of police agents, some to the evil machinations of other groups, some down to egotism and power hungry individuals with pathological tendencies! 
Looking into his heart!
Others believe they are always right and some believe that like De Valera they only have to look into their heart to know what the Irish people want!! His heart told him they wanted to elevate the Catholic Church to a special position and allow it to imprison thousands of girls and women in the Magdalene Laundries in deplorable conditions with the full backing of the state. It told him to execute republicans, ignore the north and build a native subservient capitalist class.
But then De Valera never claimed to be a socialist? It s the actions of socialists that need to be examined. Socialists are like the rest of humanity in that they are subject to the influences of the world that exists or in the words of Marx- being determines consciousness. We cannot help but be influenced by what happens around us. Particularly in this historic period when technological change has come at a breathless speed. The speed of communications now mean that ideas can circulate around the world in seconds thanks to the Internet.Both radical and reactionary ideas can circulate quickly, thanks to the Internet and make significant change in societies.
The so called “Arab Spring” was helped by social media and helped overthrow dictatorships. The ‘Fleg protests” in the North of Ireland are a clear indication how reactionary and bigoted ideas can  spread rapidly and turn worker against worker.
Therefore one would think that socialists of all people, would recognise not only the value of the new ways of communications but also in the use of those communications to uphold the values of solidarity,  comradeship and co-operation.
Sadly that is not the case. There is usually among some sections of the left  joyful glee when a rival leftist party suffers a setback  an internal split or some public humiliation. In Britain the Socialist Workers Party is undergoing a crisis as a result of its handling internal accusations of rape against a leading member. Many of the details of how the internal investigation have leaked out make the leadership look dictatorial, control freaks out of touch with their own membership and inept.  
No one on the left should should welcome the SWP’s difficulties.  It is the cause of socialism that suffers for the bourgeois media immediately  highlight all these internal difficulties and tar all socialists with the same brush.Similarly in Ireland the resignation of Claire Daly from the Socialist Party and its decision to withdraw from the United left Alliance has made the left look fractured, riven by personality conflicts and unable to provide leadership for the working class. However if as a result there is a re-evaluation of the internal regimes and a re-examination of the disastrous policies that have lead to these situations then that can only be to the good.
Similarly within Irish Republicanism there is widespread division. There are at least nine separate  republican organisations with most claiming some form of socialist intent.  Broadly they can be divided into two broad groups, either for or against the use of armed force at this time in Irish history.There may also be one or two of these organisations who have not quite made up their minds which way to go!
It is only right and proper that the political differences between groups be openly discussed and debated. But sadly there is little serious debate between groups and very little serious debates other than petty sniping on  a number of republican forums. There is a strong case for serious debate on forums but it does not happen because it is open to any and all. On the left the various groups stay away from debates lest it deviates from the ‘party line’ Only on Idymedia and CedarLounge is there any serious debate.
As an example of the  nature of some on the left one has only to read an obscure, totally inaccurate article by a 2-person organisation in San Francisco called the International Republican Socialist Network. Its mouth piece is a Peter Urban who despite living in San Francisco pontificates on Irish politics from an jaundiced viewpoint. However he has also written about his so called exploits allegedly helping out the INLA. It is as if these exploits give him some sort of macho right to write lies, name people as possible informers and accuse the writer of this article of forging the Ta Power Document.   Such a serious accusation would require some evidence but of course the policy of “wreckers”is to spread muck, not evidence, in the hope that some will believe the muck. There is no evidence of course. Urban’s problem was that the document not only argued for the primacy of politics(which the IRSP seem to have abandoned) but also argued for collective leadership. Collective leadership means ego trippers have no role to play and subsequently Urban was expelled from the IRSP for his failure to accept collective leadership.
It goes without saying that the IRSN is an irrelevance.But the methods used by such people need to be resisted by the genuine left and republicans. Indulging in gossip mongering backbiting undermining morale and spreading false and malicious stories about serious revolutionaries only plays into the hands of the enemy.
It is high time all those who consider themselves socialists of what ever hue learned to debate and discuss ways forward for the working class for it is only in reaching out to the masses that there is any possibility of rolling back capitalism. Burying our heads in small sects is no way for socialists to behave.

Ireland: Fianna Fáil poll results illustrate Labour’s crisis


The latest Red C poll is the third such poll that indicates that Fianna Fáil has recovered its strength in the polls. At 26% support FF is within 2 points of Fine Gael. The recovery in the FF vote should be a wakeup call to Labour Party members that coalition government and collaboration with Fine Gael’s austerity programme cannot solve the problems of working people in the state.

Why was it that Labour did so well in the 2011 election? Was it because working people were desperate for Eamon Gilmore to do a deal with Enda Kenny that would mean years of austerity, pay cuts and attacks on Social Welfare? Not at all, the electoral surge that Labour experienced, particularly in Dublin was a reflection of working people looking for an alternative to the economic crisis.

It is a disgrace that the Labour leadership have squandered the opportunity with which they were presented. Instead of arguing for a clear socialist programme they have tied themselves to the coat tails of Fine Gael and the ruling class. It is no surprise that they have struggled in the polls, a situation which will only get worse as the economic crisis continues to undermine them. The renegotiation of the Croke Park Deal will place them on the other side of the barricades from the trade union members also. Something has to give.
Joan Burton

Friday’s protest in Dundalk illustrates the cleft stick the Labour leadership are caught in. The Labour ministers particularly Brendan Howlin and Joan Burton hold all the worst cards in the pack. They are blamed for the austerity while playing second fiddle to Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny.

The swing to Labour before the last election reflected also the free fall in support for FF and the Greens. We’ve explained before that the major upturn of activity in the Trade Union movement in opposition to the pension levy and against the austerity pushed the coalition onto the back foot.  After the Croke Park deal was struck the focus turned to the political front, just at the time that the extent of the AIB bailout became clear. It was the pressure from below that was decisive in forcing the FF/Green coalition out of office.  At one point the polls indicated that it was even mathematically (if not politically) possible that a coalition could have been formed with Labour, the ULA and Sinn Féin.
The ongoing economic crisis and the austerity have reduced the support for FG and Labour to the extent that it is possible that FF may become the biggest party in the state once again. The economic situation within the Eurozone is still bleak as Martin Wolf of the London Financial Times said recently:
“Those who believe the eurozone’s trials are now behind it must assume either an extraordinary economic turnround or a willingness of those trapped in deep recessions to soldier on, year after grim year. Neither assumption seems at all plausible. Neither assumption seems at all plausible. Moreover, prospects for desirable longer-term reforms – a banking union and enhanced risk sharing – look quite remote. Far more likely is a union founded on one-sided, contractionary adjustment. Will the parties live happily ever after or will this union continue to be characterised by irreconcilable differences? The answer seems evident, at least to me. If so, this unhappy story cannot yet be over.” (Financial Times 19/2/2013
Labour’s rank and file have a clear option, go down with the sinking ship or fight for a Socialist alternative. The Campaign for Labour Policies the small opposition current that has developed is a positive sign, but the key to developing a left lies in the trade union movement and among the youth at this stage. Labour's left is still isolated and weak, the campaign to break from the coalition needs to be linked to the demand for a socialist programme.
What of the United Left Alliance, which was touted as an alternative to the left of Labour? To all intents and purposes the ULA has been reduced to a rump. The SWP have moved back towards the People Before Profit Alliance, while the WUAG and the Socialist Party have departed altogether. Fightback welcomed the possibility of a genuine alternative to the left of Labour, but it seems that factional rivalry has scuppered any chances of the ULA developing into a new party.
Unfortunately there are no short cuts. The key task for active socialists and Marxists in Ireland lies in fighting for a socialist programme, in the unions, among the youth, in the ULA and also in calling for Labour to break the coalition and stand up for the people it represents. Without a political struggle there can only be more austerity, more cuts and more misery.
Source: Fightback (Ireland) Re-printed with kind permission from Fightback)

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