After Nationalism ... A WSM member on leaving Sinn Fein
ireland / britain |
imperialism / war |
opinion / analysis
Friday July 29, 2005 18:02 by James McBarron - WSM
An analysis of why many on the left joined Sinn Fein and what their options are now
I joined Sinn Féin in the mid eighties with many others on the back of what we saw as a radical shift to the left and a commitment to build a 32 county Democartic Socialist Republic. I find myself outside that movement now, thoroughly disillusioned with it and its shift to a left nationalist and social democratic electoralist future.
After Nationalism ...
I joined Sinn Féin in the mid eighties with many others on
the back of what we saw as a radical shift to the left and a
commitment to build a 32 county Democartic Socialist Republic. I find
myself outside that movement now, thoroughly disillusioned with it
and its shift to a left nationalist and social democratic
We are many years into the Irish peace process - how many depends
on your perspective - but we can at least agree that the Good Friday
agreement of 1998 is a key point in the evolution of the process. The
current impasse centres largely on the question of accomodating Sinn
Féin into the political establishment north and south. Though
the IRA was defeated and Sinn Féin began the journey towards
an accomodation with imperialism and the southern state, many of the
activists and indeed many in the communities from which the
republican movement drew its most hardcore support have had a
difficulty adjusting to the new realities. This has arisen primarily
because of the lies that the leadership of that movement have fed the
grassroots in order to keep them on board.
Mostly this has consisted of pretending that the road they are now on
is something new and innovative that will lead them to the Republic.
But time has taken its toll and the British and Irish states have
become impatient of the Adams leadership’s slow softly approach and
want the open capitulation of the republican movement, an end to the
IRA and the full integration of SF into the system.
This isn’t easy either for the republicans or the unionists who have
to also abandon their stated hardline approach. (Unionism represents
the politics of the former ruling class in the north, almost
exclusively protestant and pro the union with Britain, they
monopolised power after partition and used this power to build a
sectarian little state. Unionist politicians enjoy the support of the
vast majority of the protestant working class at election time.
Unionists are a majority in the north. The unionist leadership has
realised that a carve-up of power with nationalism is their only
future hope of any power). The various crises around the process have
revolved around these issues.
Of course it is inevitable that Sinn Féin in its current
manifestation will go in to the system and fully endorse policing,
the courts the prison system, the civil service etc. Sinn Féin
have always believed in the use of the state and the division of
people into leaders and lead. All institutions of the state will be
accepted and Sinn Féin will become the new and more organised
SDLP of the north.
They will share in power eventually with a pragmatic and realistic
unionist leadership which will emerge more strongly as the old guard
die off or become marginalised with time. What we will have then will
probably be a government in the north enjoying a large degree of
acceptability or at least benign indifference amongst the population.
Sinn Féin in the south will follow the well worn path to
participation in administering power in the Dail. Outside of the
mainstream republican movement some few of those embittered by their
experience will hang onto the old politics and recruit, drill, train,
fundraise and prepare for another round at some day in the
And us, the working class, well we will again be faced with the same
old problems of exploitation, oppression, inequality and constant
struggle that we always are. But we will have to fight a movement
that once proclaimed itself revolutionary and keen to abolish
capitalism north and south but that is now bought and part of the
structure. How many good sincere activists will be destroyed, buried
in the bullshit of paliamentary politics, trying to get the odd
pot-hole filled whilst the whole show goes on as before and past
dreams of social revolution slowly ebb away to “a favour here or
there” and a few dry empty commemorations of past deeds.
If all the peace process had done was end the armed struggle that
would have been great, but it has done far more than that. It has
strenghtened the states north and south. The struggle for social
justice continues. Today fighting the Water Tax in Belfast, on a
picket line in Dublin, pushing for abortion rights in Cork, fighting
racism in Galway, demanding housing in Derry. All these struggles and
many more push our class interests forward. Unifying them in ideas of
self reliance, mass democracy and direct action, libertarian ideas,
anarchist ideas - that is where the struggle is at. Republicanism
will rise again, taking many good young activists to the grave,
prison and despair unless we popularise truly revolutionary ideas to
act as a positive pole of attraction.
From Red and Black Revolution No 9
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