5. The Irish Republican Socialist Party in Politics

Submitted by dalcassian on 23 May, 2014 - 7:42

The IRSP prides itself on abandoning the old Republican fetish of abstentionism. It calls itself revolutionary socialist and in Britain is widely accepted as such because of its eclectic, sometimes 'Trotskyist'. political verbiage. This was its policy in the election:

'Irish socialists always face unpleasant choices at election time between the nakedly pro-imperialist party of Fine Gael (with Labour usually tagging onto its coat-tails) and ... Fianna Fail who identify more closely with the majority of Irish people but who eventually act against them... Socialists and republicans should vote against the coalition at all costs, given that there is nothing further to the right of the political spectrum than Fine Gael.

'Against the coalition support... those whose national and economic programme is most progressive... (vote) for revolutionary candidates where they exist and anti-coalition candidates elsewhere' (The Starry Plough, Feb. 1982).

That is, vote Fianna Fail — the main government party of the Irish bourgeoisie for 40 of the last 50 years, and one that has jailed and shot republicans!

The IRSP now attacks Sinn Fein the Workers' Party (from which it was an apparently left split six years ago) for attacking Ireland's 'national capitalists'. "The last few years have seen the trade union movement — increasingly influenced by various reformists such as SFWP — direct their fire at Irish capitalists, the Irish middle class, and the Irish government, to the exclusion of the main enemy which is imperialist finance capital and its governments". (Official account of policy in 'Starry Plough', December 1981.)

The main enemy is Britain and the multi-national companies.

The IRSP advocates a 'broad front for anti-imperialist unity' on the following programme:

• British withdrawal,

• Defence of neutrality and the investigation of links with the non-aligned movement internationally.

• Rejection of the concept of an all-Ireland court,

• Defence of democratic rights of the people. North and South.

This is very broad indeed. There is nothing overtly working class or socialist about it.

The national question and commitment to the armed struggle reduces all that to decorative and demagogic talk and aspirations, which for now has no direct bearing on what must be done (and not done).

During the hunger strike campaign all the Republicans appealed to Fianna Fail anti-imperialism' — on the basis of seeking the nationalist lowest-common-denominator. IRSP policy in the election was the continuation of this approach.

The results of the election show how insubstantial what was 'gained' during the hunger strike was.

The IRSP cites as its model broad anti-imperialist fronts which include the 'national bourgeoisie' like that of El Salvador. This policy, correct or (as I believe) incorrect for underdeveloped El Salvador, is preposterous for a modern Ireland whose powerful bourgeoisie are now an integral segment of the European capitalist class and in as much control of their state as any EEC ruling class is.

It is no slip of the pen when the IRSP speaks of the Irish people: whereas the socialist republican policy must be to split and divide the Irish people into proletarians and allies against the others, the populists of the IRSP, who call themselves socialist republicans, stand for the broadest national unity — even with FF.

In the social and class realities of the South, this is just plain reactionary bourgeois politics.

It is pointedly the 'anti-imperialist' united front with Charles Haughey or others like him. instead of the programme of working class unity in Ireland on a socialist and anti-imperialist basis.

Focusing on 'the national question' as 'first-things-first' nationalists, they are irrelevant and bankrupt in the South, and thus bankrupt also as nationalists in the Northern struggle.

No less a Republican socialist than James Connolly long ago pointed to the curious fact that physical force' revolutionaries in Irish politics usually prove at a later stage of their development to be socially conservative and reactionary. Fianna Fail is the great example of that since Connolly (and watch SFWP!)

It is no longer at a later stage of their development, but when they cross the border, that the physical force revolutionaries, including the self-proclaimed revolutionary socialists, prove themselves to be socially irrelevant or reactionary. In modern Irish conditions, where a breakthrough in the North depends on the working class of the South, that means that they are very bad nationalists, too.

S O 4 3 1982

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