Archive for the Reformism Category

Combat Liberalism (1937) Examined

Posted in Mao, Reformism on March 3, 2014 by The Plough & The Stars

The following text is essential reading for anyone who considers themselves a revolutionary socialist or a member of Marxist party.  One need not necessarily consider oneself a “Maoist” to appreciate the clarity and vision of the author’s words which are as salient today as they were when they were written in 1937 with the lures of Reformism and Neo-Liberalism all around us and claiming the body politic:

We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.

But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.

Liberalism manifests itself in various ways.

To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.

To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one’s suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one’s own inclination. This is a second type.

To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.

Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one’s own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline. This is a fourth type.

To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly. This is a fifth type.

To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened. This is a sixth type.

To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist. This is a seventh type.

To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue. This is an eighth type.

To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along–“So long as one remains a monk, one goes on tolling the bell.” This is a ninth type.

To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study. This is a tenth type.

To be aware of one’s own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself. This is an eleventh type.

We could name more. But these eleven are the principal types.

They are all manifestations of liberalism.

Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.

Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism.

People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practice it or to practice it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well–they talk Marxism but practice liberalism; they apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both kinds of goods in stock and find a use for each. This is how the minds of certain people work.

Liberalism is a manifestation of opportunism and conflicts fundamentally with Marxism. It is negative and objectively has the effect of helping the enemy; that is why the enemy welcomes its preservation in our midst. Such being its nature, there should be no place for it in the ranks of the revolution.

We must use Marxism, which is positive in spirit, to overcome liberalism, which is negative. A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses; he should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any private person, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered a Communist.

All loyal, honest, active and upright Communists must unite to oppose the liberal tendencies shown by certain people among us, and set them on the right path. This is one of the tasks on our ideological front.

Sourced from the:  Transcription by the Maoist Documentation Project. 
HTML revised 2004 by Marxists.org

The Misuse Of James Connolly

Posted in 'The Troubles, Alex McGuigan, Anti Fascism, Anti-IRSP revisionism, Belfast, Bourgeoisie, Class Solidarity, Community, Dublin IRSP, Easter Commemoration, Fallen Comrades, History, Imperialism, Industrial Action, International socialism, Internationalism, Ireland, Irish Citizen Army, Irish Republican Socialism, IRSM, IRSP, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Karl Marx, Murals, Polarisation of the classes, Primacy of politics, Proletariat, Reformism, Revisionism, Socialism, Solidarity, Trade Unions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

It is glaringly irrational for purely nationalist parties in Ireland, notably Sinn Fein, to continue to pretend  to Connolly’s ideological legacy but not surprising given that entity’s flare for revisionism and political opportunism.  It goes without saying that if Connolly were alive in these early years of the 21st Century, he would certainly not be a member of Sinn Fein!

Before anyone makes the habitual statement that no person alive today can really second guess the possible contemporary actions or attitudes of dead revolutionaries, well in James Connolly’s case we can. It is well documented that Connolly during his political life in Ireland was never a member of Sinn Fein, a party that was founded in 1905 and of which he was very much aware of.  Connolly, the Marxist and revolutionary trade unionist would have been diametrically opposed to a party that largely backed William Martin Murphy and the employers during the Dublin Lock-out of 1913.  In actions that would be familiar today, the then Sinn Fein leader, Arthur Griffiths, refused to support the workers movement, describing it as ‘”sectional‘”.  When English trades unionists organised relief ships to help the striking workers, Griffith’s little Irelander hackles were raised and condemned the solidarity action as “an insult” to Ireland.

Sinn Fein And Socialism

James Connolly’s Sinn Fein And Socialism, published in April 1908 in The Harp, which critiques the shortcomings of that party’s one dimensional nationalism, was actually used in true revisionist form by the contemporary party during their hijacking of the centenary of Connolly’s residence in Belfast by quoting out of context the first few lines of the article which welcomes really only the the meaning of the English translation of the term Sinn Fein,

“That is a good name for the new Irish movement of which we hear so much nowadays. Sinn Féin, or in English, Ourselves”.

 Of course, the unlikely Connolly centenary celebrants of anti-Marxist Sinn Fein studiously ignored the rest of Connolly’s article and it’s mesage which is roundly critical of their ideology and pours scorn on their non-socialism and the absurdities of their early Habsburgian/monarchist leanings:

“As we all know the methods adopted by Hungary to reconquer its Parliament from Austria are the trite illustrations of the Sinn Féin orators. In fact during the early stages of the movement in Ireland before the felicitous name of Sinn Féin was coined the ideas as promulgated got the name of ‘the Hungary system’.

I remember one critic declaring that “the Hungary system was only fit for hungry men!”

It could be further added that any perceived ‘praise’ for Sinn Fein, was not for the party but used by Connolly to make the point that the working-class must rely on ‘ourselves’, not the national bourgeoisie (of which Sinn Fein was then a small but component part) who must be swept away so that,

“the era of the strutters and poseurs will end”

Connolly, the Marxist, in complete contrast to the limitations of bourgeois nationalism, ends his article by re-affirming that only the working-class can fight and win the fight for both national liberation and real economic freedom ie Socialism,

“we will realize at last what was meant by Marx when he spoke of the revolt of those who

Have Nothing to Lose but their Chains.”

No Reds In Their Beds!

Therefore, it is very much in the eye of the beholder to decide whether the, at best, nationalist Centrist party called Sinn Fein’s highly tenuous claims to the legacy of the Marxist, James Connolly, are the result of revisionism, political opportunism or a confused ideological compass (or perhaps a combination of the latter two?)

Certainly, it would be the height of irrationalism for a party such as Sinn Fein to attempt to claim the legacy of the Marxist Connolly, when there are such concrete assertations from the present party leader stating:

“There is no Marxist influence within Sinn Fein, it simply isn’t a Marxist organisation.  I know of no-one in Sinn Fein who is a Marxist or who would be influenced by Marxism.”

We saw echoes of this edict recently when members of that party’s youth section condemned Republican Socialist G8 protestors for having the temerity to carry red flags, the symbols of international socialism.  (The youthful McCathyites then camped out nearly 100 miles from the G8, reportedly near the Giant’s Foot [no pun intended] while of course their leadership salivated at the prospect of being permitted to join the chorus line of clapping seals welcoming the most insidious cabal of global war criminals and imperialists to Ireland!  However, the above statement from Adams is a completely rational assertation from a party whose well documented aim is for a unitary Capitalist Ireland that sees no contradiction in gladhanding the world’s most vicious imperialists, such as Obama et al.

History Vindicates Irish Republican Socialism

Ironically for a party who at one stage, using crude reductionism, viewed the modern partitioned 26 counties as a neo-colony of (British) imperialism (a view that was jettisoned during the heyday of the Celtic Tiger), it is now entirely comfortable with a future where Ireland would be a minor cheerleader of Western imperialism as it massacres it’s way around the world in search of oil, commodities and profit.

In conclusion, Connolly’s Republican Socialism, his militant trade unionism, his adherence to Marxism, his membership of the Irish Socialist Republican Party and his rejection of one-dimensional nationalism, are irrefutable and uncomfortable truths for those who have erroneously attempted to hijack his legacy.  The contradictions of these attempts are glaringly obvious for those whose minds have not been befuddled by neo-liberalism’ double-speak nonsense and blatant revisionism. By the same token the ‘gas and water socialists’ of the Brit-centric Left and two-nations ‘socialists’ who choose to ignore the British imperialist elephant in the living room who periodically pay homage to Connolly, conveniently chose to ignore his central tenet that national liberation and true socialism are symbiotically linked.

Today’s heirs of Connolly’s legacy are those who unreservedly adhere to his most oft quoted ‘thesis’ that:

“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.”

Saoirse go deo!

References:

1.http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1908/04/sinnfein.htm

2.http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/ws88_89/ws29_1913.html

3.http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/12/17/long-march-political-strategy-sinn-fin-19812007/

Alex McGuigan,
Belfast
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