Friday, June 5, 2009

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 √Čire 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.

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