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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Not Too Late for a United Front

 

Mick Hall • 23 November, 2006

In a recent article published in the Irish News, Jim Gibney claimed Republican dissidents where plotting to kill leading members of SF. The article was quickly followed with a denial from the leaderships of the IRSP and RSF, whose spokespersons said that their organizations have absolutely no plans nor wish to physically harm any member of the SF leadership. Other non-aligned Republicans have ridiculed Jim Gibney's article, claiming that the main source of his allegations was SF itself, not the PSNI as was first implied, and thus Gibney's scare-mongering is designed to make the SF membership circle the wagons in support of Gerry Adams over the policing issue.

Normally I would put this matter behind me, viewing Gibney's hackneyed offerings as yet another example of Mr Adams playing politics with other people's lives. However it is worth having a closer look at the article as it highlights both the sleight of hand politics as practiced by the SF leadership clique and the failure of the dissidents to combat SF with a viable political strategy.

That Mr Gibney managed to attempt to link the dissidents, in a single paragraph, with the deaths of Chris Hani and Yitzak Rabin, the Spear of the Nation, the Securocrats, the ANC and Loyalist Paramilitaries and the Omagh bomb outrage, is a clear demonstration of the Adamsite theory: the bigger the deception is, the muddier the water gets, thus the more likely is the lie to be believed.

It should not be over looked that the Adams leadership still feel it is imperative for them to attack the dissidents in this manner, despite the fact that in truth they have to date been unable to come together in an organized way which would allow them to have any real impact politically. It is not what they do that Mr Adams fears, but their political potential.

There is little doubt that former members of the Provisional Republican Movement now make up one of the largest political factions within northern nationalism. Yet their inability to come together to combat their nemesis, even in a small way, has all but left the playing field clear for the opportunistic politics of Gerry Adam's SF. It is as if the dissidents wish to replicate the mistakes of the British Trotskyites. It is hard not to conclude that they have failed to gain a major foothold within the nationalist working class communities for the simple reason they have retreated back into the certainties of the political ghetto — RSF and the 32 CSM, by returning to traditional Irish Republicanism, and the IRSP by retreating back into the comfort of the vanguard Leninist Party, which so they claim will lead the working classes out onto bright sunny uplands (whether they want it or not one is tempted to add). To believe that the northern working classes are liable to support an organization which offers them a dictatorship, after all that has happened in the north, is off the edge to say the least.

What people clearly want after decades of violence is to increase their individual freedoms at both the political and personal levels, not restrict them further via a political dogma. Especially one which has a track record of bloody failure and in reality may well end up, despite the best of intentions, being as bad if not worse than the occupier's jackboot, or an out of control local para-military satrap.

It seems to me whilst the dissident Republicans hold a host of differing political positions, there are two main currents: those who believe armed struggle is the strategy, and those who see it as merely an option and a right if favorable conditions prevail. The latter group in the main have concluded that at the present time and for the foreseeable future armed struggle is not a viable option and in this, Adams was correct. Although they disagree as to the way he decommissioned arms etc, [they] concede that argument is now for the historians.

This group consists of the majority of the independent non-aligned Republicans, including former Provos, plus, despite my criticism of their vanguardism, the RSM, which includes the IRSP. The other group of Republicans are those who either belong to RSF or like them have sworn allegiance to the politics of the Revolutionary Dáil (1919-1922); these Republicans will neither recognize the Republic of Ireland's Parliament nor if elected take their places in the northern assembly.

Having chosen their path, they will not veer from it by one iota, as they believe to do so would be to betray all who have gone before. Whilst this group will remain active on the fringes of Irish politics it is difficult to see why, under the current more tranquil conditions, working class people would support them in any great numbers — respect them perhaps, but vote for them when they refuse to participate in the political process? It is doubtful.

The other grouping of dissidents is a different matter and whilst they may differ in the long term they have a common thread. They are almost all for a Democratic Socialist Republic, have no aversion to taking part in electoral politics and they recognize the days of the armed struggle are ended.

Organizationally they are an Irish Republican version of the European Left that existed prior to World War II. That is, as a galaxy of small independent leftist parties or individual socialists, the European Left concluded it was unable effectively to combat the might of Capital and its political representatives; but if they could find a way to come together under a single political umbrella organization, they would by attracting mass support on the street and at the polls have real influence.

Thus the Popular Front was born. A program that would attract the broadest level of support, from the organized socialist parties and non party socialist activists, was drawn up and signed by all those who wished to co-operate. The Popular Front's coming was not before time, as on the outbreak of WWII, it was used as a base platform from which the majority of the European Continent's home grown anti Nazi Resistance movements emerged.

The question that needs to be asked is this: is a Republican-Socialist version of the Popular Front beyond the wit of non SF Irish Republicans? It is hard to believe that people, who could put aside political differences to fight a war, cannot do so to continue that struggle by political means.

Working class people throughout Ireland are in desperate need of principled political representatives, not only on the streets and in their place of work, but also in the Council Chambers and Parliamentary Assemblies. Whether these bodies are to our liking should not be the issue, they exist. Imagine what a handful of Republican-Socialists could have achieved within the Stormont Assembly, by exposing publicly the disgraceful behavior of the SF mockney 'ministers' when they acquiesced to the privatization of public services.

Unless Republican-Socialists and their natural allies attempt to occupy the democratic space that has opened up with the ending of the armed struggle, this ground will have been conceded without a fight to SF and its ever more right-wing politics. If this happens, disillusionment with Republicanism will increasingly set in within nationalist working class communities, and may well end with middle class nationalists once again exclusively representing electorally the northern working classes.



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Index: Current Articles



3 December 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Forensic Framework Unravels
Martin Galvin

RUC Killing of Irish-American To Become Issue in New Congress
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

F's All Around
Dr John Coulter

Loose Ends
John Kennedy

The People of No Principle
Geraldine Adams

Policing, a Bridge Too Far for Republicans?
Willie Gallagher

Conway Mill Debate
Anthony McIntyre

Not Too Late for a United Front
Mick Hall

Afraid of the Voice of the People
James Bradley

Ideals Live On
Dolours Price

Liberalism
Ray McAreavey

Poetry in Motion
Lord Falls

Michael Pebble
Anthony McIntyre

Action Required to Stop Bullies
Dr John Coulter

O'Shea is Right on Aid Policy
David Adams

Ministerial Own Goal
Anthony McIntyre

‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’
Maryam Namazie


19 November 2006

The Bogeyman
Anthony McIntyre

Believe It Or Not
John Kennedy

Contra Con Artists
Anthony McIntyre

The Wrong Kind of Republican?
Ivan Morley

Equality Agenda: British Rhetoric and Reality
Martin Galvin

A Deal Done By Quislings
Mick Hall

Realignments
Dr John Coulter

Deadline? Pull the other one!
David Adams

Political Policing
Martin Ingram

It's Not The Taking Part
Anthony McIntyre

Who Can Get Dr No to Say Yes?
Dr John Coulter

Equality or Equity
Michéal MháDonnáin

Federalism
Michael Gillespie

Revolutionary Unionism
Dr John Coulter

Who Needs Enemies
John Kennedy

The King's Threshold
Robin Kirk

 

 

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