Socialism, Republicanism and Clericalism in 1940s Ireland

Submitted by dalcassian on 30 August, 2015 - 8:22 Author: No name: possibly Mat Merrigan

Ed's note, 1947:
From an Irish comrade, living in Dublin, we have received the following account of the problems facing the revolutionists of that country. We print below extracts from his interesting letter.

Outside of international considerations and the objective immaturity of the historical process, tremendous difficulties are encountered in building the Irish section. The entrenchment of the radical bourgeoisie as the counter-revolutionary ruling class, confuses and disorients the broadest masses, who devoted a lifetime of struggle, deprivation and sacrifice to the ending of imperialist hegemony. Further, the integration of the embryonic organizations of the workers into the national liberation movement—without, however, preserving their autonomy and ideological independence—has led to the stultification of the movement. Out of this has grown a national capitulationist and completely bourgeoisified trade union and labor party bureaucracy, who seek to substitute the ghost of the national struggle of three decades ago for the reality of the present class struggle. This, pursued to its logical conclusions, leads—and has led—to the betrayal of the class struggle by a trade union and labor leadership born of a national revolutionary struggle, and who endeavor to solve the concrete tasks of today by resurrecting the corpse of yesterdays "republican" abstractions. It was precisely this stupid [but very convenient, maneuver,
utilized to split the ITUC by the national bourgeois capitulationists] policy that has led to the present duality in the labor movement—both industrially and politically.

Rather than posing an internationalist solution to the problem of the TUC, the anti-capitulationist faction try to find a middle road between the pre-liberationist concept
of a "republic" and the existing reality.

Unable to find this middle road, some of them have moved toward the position of "displaced nationalist orphans" seeking imperialist succor, from the British TUC.
Again and again, the national question is the stumbling block of the progress of the
working class. In the north—which is a puppet imperialist state—the national question is predominant. To a greater extent in the north all political issues are decided in the last analysis on partition. The Unionists of the north, with their police state, are determined to hang on to the prerequisites they receive under imperial preference. The ending of the border would mean for the northern capitalist class its denouement. Deprived of their political hegemony and the system of imperial preference the specific weight of capitalist relations would pass into the hands of the southern capitalists.

Consequently, the political manipulators in the north base themselves on sectarian bigotry, police terror, and a host of other subterfuges, including rigged elections. Against this background the politicalization of the workers and the middle classes will grow apace. The emergence of a strong labor party, farmers and other petty bourgeois groupings will decisively draw the class lines. Until this relationship of class forces materializes we believe that the function of a revolutionary socialist party will be restricted to theoretical entrenchment and the building of a cadre organization, with an orientation toward entering the bigger workers' parties.

Stalinist influence is strictly undercover. What semblance of open Stalinist activity did exist was driven underground by the Anglo-Russian alliance, in 1941. The Irish masses, steeped in anti-imperialist prejudices, were in no frame of mind to respond to the support of Britain's war effort. Although large masses of Irish workers were forced to emigrate to the British forces and war factories, out of purely economic reasons. Stalinist infiltration into the Labor
Party provided a new field of activity for the activists. On the other hand, it became an institution of retreat for the soul-sick, before their ultimate demoralization. In 1943 the LP bureaucracy, under pressure from bourgeois-catholic opinion forced the expulsion of leading Stalinists from the party. However, there still exists a fraction inside the LP and an outside nucleus which publishes a monthly called Review. The Irish-Soviet Friendship Society is also used as a vehicle of Stalinist politics and symptomatic of the degeneration of even the Irish CP "all" the members and patrons of the SFS are petty-bourgeois dilettantes and fellow-travellers of this unstable human species. Not one genuine worker has entered the ranks of the Stalinists since the "party" was liquidated in 1941. Prior to this the Stalinists had a good proletarian base in the trade unions; but demoralization of
their best militants, flowing from the opportunist policy of the leadership, has led in
every instance to capitulation to the bureaucracy and unbridled careerism.

Catholic consciousness is a terrific factor in relation to the growth of the socialist movement in Ireland. In this respect the Stalinist policy is treated with the greatest hostility by the ecclesiastics. This is facilitated by the role that the church plays in relation to the state. Catholicism in Ireland is the established religion, enjoying, as all state-integrated religions enjoy, the privilege of being the ideological watchdog of capitalism. The cowardly labor leadership panders to the caprices of the ecclesiastics, and the religious prejudices of the masses.

Church intervention in labor disputes on the side of the bosses is the rule, regardless of
the degree of justification for a determined stand on behalf of the workers. State education is entrusted to the clergy who operate the schools, both clerical and lay. Catholic obscurantism added to the bi-lingual method of tuition produces an almost illiterate worker, who is highly susceptible to pogrom indoctrination by fascists, Clericalism, and sectarian nationalism. Whilst, on the other hand, the colossal arrogance and apparent impregnability of the church, and the unchristian behavior of its ministers will lead to anti-clerical excesses experienced in Spain, when the situation is pre-revolutionary.

NI feb 1947

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