recently on the web the SWP leaning Brian Kelly
surprised many people with his claim that he had
written for The Blanket in the hope 'that
it might play a positive role in pushing forward
the coalescing of a principled, anti-sectarian Left
in the north of Ireland.' As writing for The
Blanket was a very infrequent practice performed
quite some time ago, perhaps he abandoned the notion
early on. Brian Kelly, a prize winning author, when
he steers clear from the position of the day and
sidesteps the dogma, is clearly a lucid writer and
engaging speaker. But where he acquired the unfathomable
impression that The Blanket had ever set itself
the task of achieving left unity remains shrouded
serves to illustrate how those of the vanguard school
of politics mislead themselves. Ideological rigidity
may send them off in pursuit of the preordained
pot of gold at the end of Marxist rainbows but The Blanket, with its disdain for dogma, was never into
the business of setting itself impossibilist goals.
How could anyone, let alone a small website open
to all manner of opinion, unite the Irrelevant Left?
How can the latter be defined apart from its innate
sectarianism? What purpose would exist in the lives
of Left sect members were they to be united and
denied the opportunity to pursue this sectarianism?
is beyond the meagre capacity of The Blanket to
unite those who inhabit the tenebrous caves of Left
sects and who would quicker die than permit anyone
to unite them. In those dark recesses there is no
grasping of the reputed Ernest Bevin observation
that 'Left understands Left.' Experience of the
sects shows that Left hates Left. Each sect, believing
that it alone is the one true church of Karl, invariably
ends up where it wants to be - wallowing as a cult,
once defined by Tom Wolfe as a religion with no
political power. It would have been pointless for
The Blanket to seek to change those deeply ingrained
traits. Robert Heinlein once described the futility
of trying to teach a pig to sing; 'it wastes your
time and it annoys the pig.'
after the US led war on Afghanistan, an attempt
was made to form an anti-war movement in Belfast.
Not many people turned up and out of those that
did the Irrelevant Left made up the bulk of the
numbers. What a sham it turned out to be. The sect
members were like Heinlein's pigs; in the muck and
revelling in it. They screeched, screamed and oinked
at one another. There was never the remotest possibility
of kick starting an anti-war movement that night.
It was never their intention. They only came along
to have a go at each other, which brings to mind
that memorable quip which just about sums up the
state of the Irrelevant Left: 'after all is said
and done, a lot more will be said than done.' To
paraphrase the sculptor Albert Giacometti, they
no longer argued for anything but the sensation
of arguing. For them the revolution lay in the sectarian
rant; a climactic end in itself.
away from yet another Left induced wreckage in the
company of Liam O'Ruairc, to the hissing sounds
of Commandante Irrelevante mercifully fading in
the background, I was at first exasperated. But
in the couple of minutes it took to cover the ground
between Conway Mill and the Springfield Road exasperation
had given way to laughter as we failed to contain
our mirth at the way the snarlers and snappers had
bitten lumps out of each other.
I decided to write something on it solely for the
craic. The piece had hardly
been uploaded on the web site before we were
hit with e mails and phone calls. Those who had
read the article seemed to shout in unison 'that's
them.' Although the article named none of those
there, quack pack watchers guessed right first time.
of the sect devotees was not confined to West Belfast.
US and British activists with a similar grounding
groaned in despair that the species was not yet
all of those who contacted us did so just to join
in the ridicule. Some were very serious activists
with a long history of campaigning and writing.
They aired their dismay that over the years they
had expended their energy in progressive causes
only to see it all go down the plug hole because
of the Irrelevant Left. They had long since stopped
going to events if they got the slightest inkling
that the Muppet mob would be outside the venue waiting
to ambush the potential audience with their party
papers. Once they turn up any meeting is sure to
be a sectarian rant fest.
have attended left unity meetings in Belfast, Derry
and Dublin. Like meetings of the Flat Earth Society,
the script could have been written in advance. It
is an immutable law of the Left sects. Their endless
calls for Left unity are as meaningless as proposals
for more blacks in the Ku Klux Klan. Moving them
towards unity is like pushing a car with a rope.
Disunity has a 100% success rate on the Left. The
old German proverb 'necessity unites' has no currency
among them. There is more hope to be found in the
dying room at Dignitas.
and intellectually, the Left is in a state of disarray
as can be evidenced from the decline of the anti-war
movement at a moment when the war, paradoxically,
is at its most unpopular. Those determined not to
be irrelevant are knocking over long standing fences
in their eagerness to escape enclosure in the time
warp of 1917. They display a certain risqué
revolutionary vigour in their eagerness to shake
off the shackles imposed upon them by the Irrelevant
Left's tenth-rate theoreticians, as Christopher
Hitchens so pejoratively but persuasively dismisses
the fate awaiting the world is as catastrophic as
radicals claim why waste precious time and finite
energy trying to unite the Irrelevant Left? If radicals
should have learned anything by this point, it is
surely that outside of that strange world, where
secularism has been abandoned in order to appease
theocrats, miracles don't happen.