Connolly, writing in the Irish Nation,
January 23, 1909, said:
a Sinn Féiner waxes eloquent about restoring
the Constitution of '82, (dare I add the
Good Friday Agreement) but remains silent
about the increasing industrial despotism of
the capitalist; when the Sinn Féiner
speaks to men who are fighting against low wages
and tells them that the Sinn Féin body
has promised lots of Irish labour at low wages
to any foreign capitalist who wishes to establish
in Ireland, what wonder if they come to believe
that a change from Toryism to Sinn Féinism
would simply be a change from the devil they
do know to the devil they do not know!..........
the problem is to find a basis of union on which
all these sections who owe allegiance to one
or other conception of Socialism may unite.
My position is that this union, or rapprochement,
cannot be arrived at by discussing our differences.
Let us rather find out and unite upon the things
upon which we agree. Once we get together, we
will find that our differences are not so insuperable
as they appear whilst we are separated. What
is necessary first is a simple platform around
which to gather, with the understanding that
as much as possible shall be left to future
conditions to dictate and as little as possible
settled now by rules or theories.
each section has complete confidence in their
own doctrines, let them show their confidence
by entering an organisation with those who differ
from them in methods, and depend upon the development
of events to prove the correctness of their
position. Each person to have complete freedom
of speech in conformity with the common object;
the lecture platform to be common to all, and
every lecture to be followed by questions and
in the above passages lies the way forward for
those who oppose the ongoing Sinn Féin
strategy - a political strategy and direction
which, through SF's demands, in favour of lower
corporation taxes; a failure to state exactly
explicitly where the party stands on water charges
and increased domestic rates; along with a willingness
to increase the privatisation of the health and
education sectors through initiating private finance
initiatives, has already shown itself to be willing
to pay nothing but lip service to the Socialist
Republicanism of Connolly. And I am not even getting
to the 'policing' issue.
I have no doubt that SF will be forced into making
even more extremely unpopular, anti-working class
decisions if/when the Executive gets going.
where is the alternative? Let's be honest, many
Republicans who disagree with Sinn Féin
come from a very disparate set of views. So the
first step must be to find out and unite upon
the things upon which we agree, and not just solely
come at it from an anti-policing stance. Lessons
can be learned from the Republican Congress of
the Thirties; lessons can be learned, too, from
the failure of the Republican Congress.
is a myth that SF has a very effective political
organisation - but those who know that organisation
also know it is a myth.
taking a very scientific approach to elections
and electoral organisation (which was missing
from the campaigns of opponents to SF in the recent
Assemby elections), the much vaunted Sinn Féin
machine is weak in terms of capable, thinking
and politically astute personnel in many areas
of the North when its comes down to local levels.
The SF organisation has become an election-driven
machine, continuously organising around maintenance
of the electoral register. One Comhairle Ceantair
area can be taken as example - with a membership
of over eighty people and over half a dozen elected
reps, there are less than four people upon whom
the entire organisation depends for dealing with
anything else other than elections.
recent interviews on both Spotlight (BBC)
and the Week in Politics (RTÉ) exposed
his own lack of grasp of the wider social, economic
and political issues which affect the lives of
ordinary people across the country. The same is
true of many other SF figures at national and
lies the SF weakness - absence of a true knowledge
of the needs of, and issues affecting, ordinary
men, women and kids. But there is also the fact
that it is the absence of any logical alternatives
coming from other Republicans to SF which has
allowed SF to seize the ground it has gained.
example, can any Republican (including SF members)
truly say that SF or other Republicans are willing
to challenge and confront the property speculators
and private landlords who are exploiting our communities
in every part of the North and across the island
as a whole? No. Without a doubt, you will not
see SF picketing their homes or offices. But is
there really any difference between today's property
speculators, private landlords and their 'management
agencies' and those landlords and land agents
which the Land League and IRB fought against towards
the end of the 19th century. Again, the answer
is 'No', but making profit from people's lives
is the common denominator which unites such profiteers
across time, even though well over 100 years separates
is widely acknowledged that the present SF strategy
did not emerge overnight - so let us also not
expect an alternative to emerge to SF overnight
either. But do let us start to build that alternative.
A Socialist Republican alternative.
believe, that by being honest and truthful, to
and with ourselves; and to and with the ordinary
people; by reliance upon the "people of no
property"; by no attempt at self-gain; and
by putting inidividual ego's aside - that Socialist
Republican alternative can be built.
only regret is that I did not fully recognise
this fact several years ago - but, like others,
I mistakenly believed that it was better to have
a voice heard from within rather than from without.
only question I have is this - who will or can
take the lead to commence the process of building
an alternative. I don't believe that either RSF
or IRSP can lead this new departure (just to avoid
the accusation from SF of another 'anti-SF' "front"
- but there is room for their inclusion).
in Dublin, perhaps, or individuals like John Kelly,
or Geraldine Dougan starting by calling meetings
in each of the Six Counties and elsewhere across
Ireland? I leave this question for others among
you to answer.
is urgently needed now is Connolly's "simple
platform around which to gather".
try to identify that simple platform and then
commence to gather and organise around it.