user preferences

New Events

Ireland / Britain

no event posted in the last week

The New Politics of Sinn Fein by Kevin Bean- From Insurgency to Identity - Review

category ireland / britain | imperialism / war | review author Wednesday August 22, 2012 15:30author by Sean Matthews - WSM Report this post to the editors

As someone who moved from Irish republican socialism to anarchism, Kevin Bean offers a convincing and fascinating insight into the journey and demise of radical republicanism in Ireland. It demolishes the ‘sell-out’ narrative promoted by some quarters of disaffected republicanism by diligently exploring the rapid transformation of the Provisional movement from a counter-insurgency to an active partner in governing the state it now eagerly upholds.

newpolsinnfein.jpg

Bean locates Irish republicanism in a global political context and shows how its politics are comparable to other ideological projects that have undergone similar decline and redefinition since the late 1980s. The book considers the tension between the universal and the particular within republicanism and how this is reflected in specific aspects of republican politics with a complex dialectic between the British state and Republicanism.

The focus on the international context is particularly topical at the moment with the Arab Spring and global occupy movement. It is interesting how the numerous commemorations and articles invoking the uprisings in Paris, protests in London’s Grosvenor Square, fighting in Vietnam and radicalisation of the black civil rights movement in the USA have failed to mention Derry 1968 and the struggle for civil rights in Northern Ireland. Yet when Bean interviews IRA volunteers and republican activists, the extent to which they were inspired by other struggles becomes clear: ‘From its founding moment, the environment shaping the movement extended beyond the streets of West Belfast and the villages of East Tyrone to guerrilla campaigns in Latin America and civil rights activism in the USA’, writes Bean.

A couple of weeks ago, Kevin Bean gave a lecture in the Na Croisbhealai workers co-operative in Belfast summarising his book. Interestingly, using the releasing of British state documents he pointed out that the setting up of no-go zones in nationalist working class areas across the North (that were subsequently dismantled after Bloody Friday in 1972) were considered more of a threat to the authority and stability of the British state than the militarised and vanguardist campaign waged by the Provos. Indeed, this area of struggle and mass campaigns over internment and rent and rates strike remains largely unexplored.

While republicans drew inspiration from other radical movements, Bean shows that the movement never really had a clear definition of republican ideology. In very simple terms, in the late 1960s through to the mid-1980s the politics of the republican struggle were largely universalist and anti-imperialist in character, and influenced by ‘progressive’ struggles in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. However, the author argues that Provisionalism is of deeply communal post -1968 version of republicanism and that the burning of Bombay street and outbreak of sectarian clashes formed the judgement of many republican activists more than the revoking of 1916 and past glories.

Since the late 1980s, in a post-Cold War world that has seen the further decline of the left, republican politics became prey to the particularist strand that always existed within the movement especially as it is located in one side of the sectarian divide. The republican leadership quietly revisited its universalist aspiration for a United Ireland with a united people, and moved towards embracing the politics of cultural difference and identity. As Kevin highlights, ‘While secularization and challenges to the political, social and sexual authority of the Church have certainly taken place since the 1960s, Catholicism remains an important cultural influence and an underpinning element of communal common sense, even for lapsed Catholics. Despite republicanism’s frequently bitter battles for hegemony with the Church, the parish and the community of the faithful were to leave a deep imprint on the community politics of the Provisionals.’ Indeed, this inability to build a revolutionary project transcending the sectarian divide remains a significant barrier today and can we witnessed during the recent Queen’s visit to the North in which particularist forms of opposition came to the fore. ( Read more)

Such brutal honesty was, however, nowhere to be seen in the republican movement’s leadership itself or its opponents in other factions. Instead, they presented the peace process as a successful outcome of their campaign, rather than analysing it as a logical conclusion to a long process of de-politicisation and accommodation.

With its rhetoric of ‘a new phase of struggle’, ‘new site of struggle’, ‘transition’, ‘opportunity’, ‘staging post’, ‘national reconciliation’ and ‘historical momentum’, the republican leadership, aided by the deliberate ambiguity of the peace process, was able to present a series of unprecedented departures from republican principles as great steps forward. There is no shame in defeat, of course; it can be an opportunity to take stock, learn lessons and search for a new form of politics that can address the continuing reality of British rule and political and social divisions. Yet there is something shameful about disguising defeat as ‘a new transitional direction’ or ‘building an Ireland of equals’

Unfortunately, the current leadership of the Republican movement has compounded its defeat by its political dishonesty, and its refusal to tell it like it is. With its constant advocacy of identity politics, pleas for truth and reconciliation and therapeutic rhetoric, republican leaders retrospectively undermine the essence of republicanism. For example, IRA volunteers who carried out attacks against ‘British crown forces’ such as Loughgall and Gibraltar were once considered as combatants in a war are now cast as victims that needs to be re-dressed through lobbying institutions of the British state.

A central theme running through Kevin Bean’s assessment is the role of the state displaying ‘soft power’ in terms of manufacturing consent in a Gramsci manner via the enormous ‘peace industry’ and funding of community groups in the ‘resistance community’. For Kevin this shaping of the social and political terrain by the British state that provisionalism operated from was a strategic success and had the greatest impact on the evolution of the movement to a fully-fledged constitutional movement as he explains ‘A growing focus on localism and communal (such as building resident groups against Orange Order marches) reflected a scaling down of ambitions as the Provisionals’ national project of transformation shifted towards a more limited representational role of petitioning within the political and social framework of the status-quo. Thus a process that had begun at this limited level would ultimately end in republican participation in government after 1998.’

For anarchists, the central thesis explored in this this book will resonate with the historical debate on the left over whether the state can be utilised as an instrument of working-class emancipation. Indeed, this transformation of Provisionalism, and Kevin Bean’s analysis to some extent supports the libertarian communist analysis of statism that far from 'withering away' it will only strengthen and recuperate any radical threat to the status-quo. Furthermore, authoritarian and hierarchal organisational praxis will be the gravedigger of any serious revolutionary movement because it removes power from the base. As Mikhail Bakunin predicted over a century ago, ‘This explains how and why men who were once the reddest democrats, the most vociferous radicals, once in power become the most moderate conservatives. Such turnabouts are usually, and mistakenly, regarded as a kind of treason. Their principle cause is the inevitable change of position and perspective.’(1)

While, this book is a must read, an excellent contribution offering a devastating critique of republicanism as a radical alternative to the status-quo in Ireland, it is equally important as revolutionaries and anarchists that we learn the lessons of past mistakes. Although Irish republicanism may have ideologically and intellectually exhausted itself due to its flexible contradictory nature, it remains a powerful attraction in Ireland which anarchists only ignore at their own peril as the anarchist movement and the wider left is yet to replicate the same influence in terms of building a significant social base and mass mobilisation within the wider working class.

1) p60. We, the Anarchists. A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation(FAI) 1927-1937

This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch
E

Ireland / Britain | Imperialism / War | en

Fri 01 Aug, 09:48

browse text browse image

Image:The Old Ruler, New Rulers Class War Continues.. banner being prepared the evening before the protest imageBritish Queen's Dublin Castle banquet protested by a few hundred as Garda harass activists 22:16 Fri 20 May by Andrew 0 comments

About 250 people took part in the éirígí organised march on the banquet for the British Queen staged in Dublin castle Wedensday night. WSM members joined the demonstration but Garda had intercepted the person transporting our flags and banner to the protest leaving us somewhat invisible. This was part of a pattern of suppression of visible protest that occurred throughout the visit of the British Queen despite Garda claims that they would "facilitate protest" in advance of the visit [Italiano]

article00c143e5900000578109_468x313.jpg imageWhy we don't welcome the visit of the British Queen 06:40 Fri 20 May by WSM 0 comments

The British Queen - An enemy of the working class, an enemy of the poor, head of the imperialist British state, symbol of privilege, inequality and oppression.

blairprotest.jpg imageHundreds protest war-criminal Tony Blair in Dublin 21:09 Mon 06 Sep by Julian & Andrew 0 comments

At 9:30 Saturday morning, people gathered on O'Connell Street In Dublin to protest against the presence of war criminal and ex British prime-minister Tony Blair. Blair arrived at Easons at around 10am for the book-signing of his recent autobiography, escorted and protected by a sizable gardai presence. Despite the heavy rain, hundreds of protestors took part.  At least one protester managed to get past the heavy security to try to make a citizens arrest of Blair for his war crimes. It is reported that Blair is now considering cancelling his London appearance.

e988dfebd315da.jpg imagePublic Meetings in Ireland - Haiti: Catastrophe and the legacy of imperialism 22:45 Wed 03 Feb by WSM PRO 0 comments

Public meetings to be held in Cork and Dublin this week will pose the question of how the legacy of U.S. imperialism has impacted on the catastrophe visited on Haiti in the recent earthquake.

notolisbon.jpg imageLisbon treaty and Democracy - Do We Really Have a Say? 18:21 Fri 04 Sep by James O'Brien 0 comments

It’s the time of year where we plebs get a chance to rectify our impertinence in rejecting the Lisbon Treaty. In itself, rerunning the referendum is hardly an affront to democracy. After all, people are simply being asked to confirm the decision made.

berlusconi.jpg imageNo to Lisbon - A Treaty for the Rich 17:41 Thu 03 Sep by WSM 2 comments

The WSM is calling for a No vote in the 2nd Lisbon referendum on the grounds that people in Ireland can do a lot better than a choice between the clowns in the Dáil or those in Brussels. We oppose the EU's policies of privatisation, militarisation and attacks on workers' conditions but don’t insult people’s intelligence by saying that our current society in Ireland with its severe recession, diabolical public services and corruption is anything better. The major lack of democracy in our lives is not between us and the EU but between the Irish government and us.

May 17th, Limerick. early days in the campaign imageWSM Vote No campaign on Munster's streets - 17th May to 7th June 18:45 Thu 12 Jun by Ray 1 comments

A photo-review of WSM activities in Munster cities during the Lisbon referendum campaign. The Cork WSM branch, with the help of other comrades from Limerick and Dublin, did 4 info stalls on the streets of Cork, Limerick and Waterford as part of our campaign activities. Each was blessed with good sunny weather and a public mood in some sympathy with our anarchist vote No message. We gave out thousands of leaflets, and made new contacts across the cities. It was also good to see what other campaigns were active on the ground across Munster.

250_0___20_0_0_0_0_0_20050723191234.jpg imageSinn Fein Vote To Back PSNI 20:16 Mon 29 Jan by W. 3 comments

On Sunday Sinn Fein voted to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland at their extraordinary ard fheis which was attended by approximately 1,000 delegates.

Red & black flags of the anti-war anarchist block imageAnarchist Block on anti-war demonstration in Britain 17:55 Fri 29 Sep by Northern Anarchist 0 comments

The anti-war demonstration in Manchester on September 23rd (taking place the weekend before the Labour party annual conference) was supported by a colourful and vocal 'anarchist block' with attendance from anarchist organisations and non-aligned anarchists from Manchester and across the country, at least 40 bodies in all. The block was called by the Anarchist Federation and Solidarity Federation, two of the class struggle anarchist organisations in Britain with international links (read the jointly produced leaflet 'Why We Haven't Stopped the War Yet'). The day started with an IWW picket of Starbucks in support of union workers in the USA, followed by the anti-war march.

textNot Guilty - Shannon Five war resisters acquitted on all charges 22:25 Thu 17 Aug by Sovietpop and others 0 comments

Just before the start of the war against Iraq in 2003 five Plougshares activists gained access to Shannon airport where US war planes were being refuelled. Using hammers and axes they damaged one of these planes. Loyal to George Bush the Irish government has been dragging these activists through the courts but late last month a jury ruled that the actions of the defendents were justifiable as they acted to preserve life in Iraq. These are reports and statements from the WSM on the trial.

more >>

imageInto the Shadows - Britain’s dirty war in Ireland Dec 28 by Sean Matthews 0 comments

The recent BBC documentary 'Panorama: Britain's Secret Terror Force' may have once again put a spotlight on the extent of British state-sponsored terrorism in the North and the activities of its various shadowy forces; but the level of orchestration, impunity, collusion and cover up is yet to be truly uncovered.

imageInternment, parading and the politics of class Aug 28 by Sean Matthews 0 comments

The eruption of conflict and intense rioting in Belfast over the last couple of months is a clear illustration that, no matter what lengths Stormont and the media circus go to to disguise the ugly reality of the ‘peace process’, the scars of the past and frequent eruption of sectarian conflict refuse to go away as political parties play the sectarian card to get one over on their rivals.

imageNuclear weapons and Scottish independence May 21 by Eric Chester 0 comments

The Scottish National Party has insisted that an independent Scotland would be free of nuclear weapons, says Eric Chester. This position reflects the fact that Scottish popular opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to the stationing of the Trident submarine system at Faslane. These subs, a leftover from the Cold War days, are nuclear powered and carry ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons. The SNP campaign to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons has provided one of the few salient arguments for independence. [Italiano]

imageWorking Class Unity, Not Sectarian Diversions Dec 24 by Workers Solidarity Movement 0 comments

Once again violence has flared across Belfast and other parts of the north as protests continue around the flags issue. The latest disturbances come as Stormont Assembly leaders, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness meet to discuss another wave of street protests, and their concerns about the damaging effect it is having on the economy leading up to the busiest shopping period of the calendar. But as each issued a separate statement calling for protests to come to an end, loyalist gangs flexed their muscles, blocking off streets and hijacking cars.

imagePat Finucane murder - British state sweeps the dirt under the carpet Dec 19 by Sean Matthews 0 comments

The publishing of the De Silva’s report into the murder of Pat Finucane may have exposed a bit of dirt from under the carpet of the British states secret war in Ireland but the scars and flames of the past have not gone away - they continue to shape policing in the 21st century. As Geraldine Finucane articulated, ’’The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others.’’

more >>

imageWhy we don't welcome the visit of the British Queen May 20 Cork Branch 0 comments

The British Queen - An enemy of the working class, an enemy of the poor, head of the imperialist British state, symbol of privilege, inequality and oppression.

imagePublic Meetings in Ireland - Haiti: Catastrophe and the legacy of imperialism Feb 03 0 comments

Public meetings to be held in Cork and Dublin this week will pose the question of how the legacy of U.S. imperialism has impacted on the catastrophe visited on Haiti in the recent earthquake.

imageWSM Supports Direct Action Against RAYTHEON in Derry Aug 16 WSM 0 comments

The Workers Solidarity Movement supports the actions of the anti-war protestors who occupied and sabotaged American arms manufacturer Raytheon's Derry offices

imageAnti-War Action-Baldonnel Sunday,April 16th Apr 04 4 comments

On April 16th the Irish state is conducting a military style parade of its forces through Dublin city centre in commemoration of the 1916 insurrection and those who lost their lives in it.
Approximately 2,500 personnel representing all branches of the Defence Forces together
with representatives of ex-service personnel and veterans of UN service will be included
as will a large number of the Garda Síochána,
This celebration of resistance to British Imperialism is being funded by the Irish taxpayers, t
he same people who are paying for the murderous forces of the U.S military to use Baldonnel
and Shannon airports for the purposes of war.and imperialist domination in the Middle East.

textSouthern African anarchists condemn apparent Terrorist blasts in London Jul 08 ZACF 0 comments

We, the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) of southern Africa, stand foursquare with the working and poor people who were apparently the targets of the craven July 7th bus and train bombings in London.

more >>
© 2005-2014 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]