A Defeat Not A Peace Process
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A Defeat Not A Peace Process



Notes for a talk on the north of Ireland. April 2009

Notes for a talk on the north of Ireland. April 2009



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A Defeat Not A Peace Process A Defeat Not A Peace Process Presentation Transcript

  • In groups
    • Why is the British Army in the north of Ireland?
    • Is a peace on the imperialists’ terms ever durable?
    • How does one describe a government headed by the Democratic Unionist Party?
  • Starting point
    • Northern state is a colony
    • Only principled position for workers’ movement in Britain is withdrawal
    • It’s a defeat not a peace process
  • 1921
    • Defeat of revolutionary nationalist movement
    • Northern colony created with pogroms and threat of war
    • Neo-colony established in south
  • 1968
    • Prague Spring, US Civil Rights Movement, France, Vietnam
    • Inspired rebellion against sectarian state
    • Three strands of movement – non Stalinist left, feminist currents, Civil Rights Association
  • First defeat
    • Labourism, CP, own programmatic weakness
    • Burntollet
    • Unions incorporated into state
    • Bloody Sunday
  • National Liberation Movement
    • Strong unionist culture in northern workers’ movement
    • Republicans were autonomous from workers’ movement
    • Struggle to end British rule a legitimate democratic struggle against oppression
  • Second Defeat
    • Hunger Strike 1981
    • Coalition of revolutionary nationalism
    • Links created with Fianna Fail and British that led to current settlement
  • New Ireland Forum
    • Irish bourgeoisie established programme of Good Friday Agreement
    • Renounced sovereignty claim
    • End of national question
    • Some rights for Catholics in north
  • Third defeat
    • Sinn Fein in government – normal for defeated movements to be incorporated
    • Now has programme of former foes SDLP
    • Rights are gained by belonging to Protestant or Catholic community
  • Unipolar world
    • South Africa, Gaza, Ireland
    • Erosion of space for national liberation movements
    • Republicanism’s only ideology has been militarist methods
  • Armed struggle
    • Bonded disparate movement
    • Democracy subordinated to Army Council
    • Fantasy that 200 fulltime volunteers could defeat British Army
    • Sat alongside mass uprising
  • Free State
    • Republicans did not develop critique of southern bourgeois state
    • Its politicians indistinguishable from mainstream
    • Saw southern ruling class as part of solution
  • Good Friday and St. Andrew’s
    • Colonial settlement – obliges Irish to renounce claim over national territory
    • Sectarian settlement – divides politics and society along religious lines
    • All decisions of assembly must be ratified by Unionist controlled Executive
  • Why is settlement popular
    • People have stopped dying
    • Drop in unemployment – due to retail
    • Expansion of Catholic middle class in state sector
  • Limitations
    • No one believes settlement will lead to united Ireland
    • Power of the Catholic Church greatly increased.
    • Positions in public service earmarked for confessional groups.
    • Sinn Fein cadre of 'community workers' paid by the state. 
  • Loyalism
    • UDA and UVF represented on policing boards
    • Still involved in extortion, prostitution and drugs
    • DUP is party of hard right to which Republicans accommodate to stay in office
  • Dissidents or true believers?
    • Minority of republicans have rejected Sinn Fein and the settlement.
    • Failing due to fragmented movement and lack of support.
    • Absence of any programme beyond shooting
    • “ Betrayal” explains failure armed struggle
  • What’s emerging?
    • Sinn Fein has clientelist, electoralist and reformist politics
    • Working class youth don’t see promises delivered. 
    • Growth of a new infrastructure of supporters
    • Riots are significant.
  • Conventional wisdom
    • The militarists have no support
    • The political process in the North of Ireland is secure. 
    • Republican militarists have nothing to offer.
  • Mainstream
    • Trade union demonstrations called for unconditional support for the sectarian status quo
    • Downgrading the political tasks of the working class in favour of purely economic struggles
    • Phony options of bloodbath or sectarian state
  • Future
    • Which state and which class rules
    • Youth don’t remember past defeats
    • Socialists raise separate, more immediate and concrete demands
    • Working class achieves liberation with its own programme including democratic solution to the national question