How To Combat The Offensive Against The Working Class?


Revolution Not Reform!

There is no place in any Revolutionary Party for reformism either through ignorance of the party’s founding principles or choosing to ignore them.  It is a myth that to be a member of a Marxist/Leninist party one must be a walking, talking encyclopedia of the entire works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and V.I Lenin et al.  One need only look to the Bolsheviks,  the most successful revolutionary party in history.  It managed to recruit and eventually thrive in perhaps the most  backward, although massive, feudal Empire (within whose borders over 150  different languages were spoken) that had a functional illiteracy rate of close to 80% in many districts.   Even in pre-revolutionary times illiterate members were recruited to the Bolshevik Party’s expropriation and combat cells. They were then taught literacy and the party”s politics by a politically educated cadre, this was then repeated, snowballing both literacy and revolutionary theory which eventually achieved the Praxis (the symbiotic marriage of theory and practice) that all serious revolutionary movements seek.


Although it is always in one’s interest to read as many of the myriad of pamphlets and books written by and about Marx, Lenin, Engels and other Marxist theorists.  A clear starting point for all revolutionaries is an acceptance that:

  1. Marx and Engels correctly described the dynamic of class struggle throughout the various epochs;
  2. Marx and Engels’ Marxism was the first genuine scientific socialism;  whose materialist version of Dialectics and Historical Materialism made a concrete, unshakable analysis of the world we live in rather than the idealist metaphysics of previous philosophers;
  3. That based on Marx and Engels’ philosophy that proved the inevitability of a socialist society, Lenin built on this and for instance provided the model to achieve this by the  creation of the disciplined revolutionary party in primarily “What is to be Done” combined with a plethora of other works by Lenin that fearlessly critiqued many of the distortions of Marxism that had managed to usurp Marxism, attempting to mould it into what we now understand to be reformist social democracy.


Why Armed Action can Never Be Divorced From Revolutionary Politics

If one is a revolutionary and believes,  correctly, that the Capitalist Class will never hand over the means of Production, Control and Exchange without a serious struggle  then it is logical and backed by historical fact that the building of the Irish Workers’ Republic will require the mass of the Irish people to wrest control from the Bourgeoisie led by force of arms.  It also goes without saying that the Capitalist state is protected by armed forces such as the ‘police’, the military in all it’s guises not to mention the various under-cover agencies whose modus operandi is to cultivate spies, act as agent provocateurs, undermine revolutionaries constantly using all the apparatus of the Bourgeois state, including the monopolised media (from tabloid rags such as The Sunday Worst to the BBC and so-called ‘broadsheets’).  Unfortunately, British imperialism has 800+ years of practice in the dark arts of divide and counter based on the premise that they can always pay one section of the proletariat to oppose and when ordered, attack the other.  (For instance, see British Imperialism’s ‘bible’ of counter-insurgency contained in the infamous Brigadier Kitson’s writings for examples of their progressive perfidy)

Unfortunately, in Ireland it has been relatively easy in the past for purely nationalist movements to pose as Socialists for propaganda value aimed at well meaning supporters on the Left overseas, while in reality they were clearly, in political terms, armed liberals. As we all witnessed post-GFA; when the armed liberals of the Provisionals put their guns away, their true politics become glaringly apparent. Arms by themselves are not ‘revolutionary’ they are simply an implement in a revolutionary movements’ “tool box”.   No better example of this is the example of Provisional Sinn Fein who sans fire-power have become acceptable in the 6 counties at the ballot box to Nationalist affluent workers (aka the middle class).  To be fair, Sinn Fein jettisoned any Leftist rhetoric by the early 1990’s where once it had been spouted regularly (except at fundraising functions in the USA where the lace-curtain Irish would be present).  There is a  cyclic phenomena at a series of junctures in Irish history of once ‘beyond the pale’ Republican pariahs transforming themselves into constitutional entities after jettisoning ‘inconvenient tactics’ which once were supposedly monolithic ‘principles.’   The common denominator being that throughout history all were one-dimensional Nationalists.


Also, those who now ‘wage war’ and are referred to as ‘dissidents in the media, have not ‘dissented’ from core traditional Republican principles but like the Provisionals in years gone by are Nationalist insurgents, who at best, claim that an Irish Socialist Republic must be a “stage” beyond their initial aims.  This of course, is a legitimate position but it is certainly bears no resemblance to the politics of James Connolly, who specifically in one of his most well known quotes, warned against the limitations for the Irish proletariat of placing their faith in traditionalist Nationalist goals:


“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs!” 


The IRSM: A Revolutionary Republican Socialist Alternative Since 1974

For Irish Republican Socialists, there has never been any confusion since their movement’s formation in 1974 of it’s principles or aims!  The IRSM are revolutionaries who are Internationalist and Revolutionary Socialist and have always been an alternative to one-dimensional Nationalism. The IRSM have correctly opposed the reformism of the Sticks and the Brit-centric Left who Seamus Costello described as “Ring road Socialists’ in much the same way as following the ‘Walker Controversy’ of over a century ago during James Connolly’s time in Belfast, he described socialists who chose to avoid the impact of British Imperialism on Ireland as ‘Gas and Water Socialists.”

Irish Republican Socialists maintain, in the tradition of Connolly and Costello, that the class struggle and the struggle for an Irish Workers’ Republic are symbiotic, inseparable and that the Irish working class will never be free without economic freedom.  In the current climate where the working class are being screwed viciously by international financiers’ and by ‘yes men/woman’ in Westminster/Stormont/Leinster House on a daily basis there is scope for Irish Republican Socialists, who have always been the most militant group on the Left in Irish politics to put the politics of Connolly and Costello into practice.


It would be naive to expect, as many on the Left did at the introduction of the Thatcher era, that a new neo-liberal Tory government in Westminster, will create an overwhelming backlash from the proletariat in response to the draconian offensive to be launched against them. (The NUM strike being a classic example and this was at the height of the struggle for national liberation for Ireland, when notably, but unfortunately, Thatcher and her cabinet of Fascists nearly got wiped out in Brighton.)  There are no easy answers, however we can learn much from the example and iron discipline of the Bolsheviks as a vanguard party.  Unlike the Thatcher regime when Capitalism was booming, it is widely accepted that it is now in ‘free-fall’ globally, it may seem a long way from hitting the dirt but socio-economic forces, as scientifically accurate as gravity, are in motion.  It may seem a tall order to oppose and overcome Gombeen and Global Capitalism in Ireland but the alternative of acceptance is not worth contemplating.  Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara figuratively stated that revolution will never fall by it’s own volition like an apple from a tree.  In the present economic climate it will require a series of much ‘shaking’ to reach a revolutionary situation based on, but not exclusive to, the following suggestions:

  • Mass working-class opposition that will take to the streets in popular protests;
  • An Irish Citizen Army for the 21st Century;
  • A militant Union in the Larkinite mode that are fighting representatives of the working class;
  • A broad front of anti-Imperialist/Capitalist groups
  • Most importantly a broadly held belief by the majority of the Irish proletariat that significant social change is the only viable alternative to the current batch of crooks that are currently screwing us while they get richer;
  • Any truly Revolutionary elected representatives should use their position as Seamus Costello advocated: “I favour guerilla tactics in parliament the same as I do in other respects. I favour them in local elections and local government bodies,they’ve proved successful there. And I see no reason, why, with a few TDs or MPs, of the right calibre, pursuing the right policies, why they cannot destroy the confidence of the people within these institutions and bring them tumbling down in ruins”

There is very much to do!


Alex McGuigan

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