Archive for 1916

Pics and Keynote Speech from Belfast IRSM Easter Commemoration

Posted in Easter Commemoration, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

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Source: IRSP NEWS!  Keynote speech by Comrade Michael Mclaughlin

Comrades

We are here today to commemorate the events of Easter week 1916 and also to remember our comrades and volunteers of the Irish National Liberation Army and Irish Republican Socialist Party who fell in the struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland. Those events in 1916 were a turning point in the struggle for Irish freedom and nationhood. The joint effort by a wide range of Republicans, nationalists, trade unionists and socialists could accurately be described as the first broad front in modern republicanism.

 

Our main objective has always been, and continues to be, a society free from prejudice, discrimination and exploitation, a people’s republic. A secular, stable, sovereign, sustainable, non-sectarian, socialist society, a republic organised from the bottom up, with the means of production, distribution and exchange in the collective ownership of every Irish citizen.

As we strive to create a workers republic in this vision, our current political position will never be reconcilable with either rogue State on this island. We exist solely to  bring the pillars of the 26 County Free State and the Six County sectarian northern State tumbling down, to expose those institutions as implements and apparatuses of the wealthy, designed to ultimately serve their interests.

 

The destruction of the society for the wealthy, the expulsion of imperialist interference in the affairs of the Irish people, the cessation of carefully fostered sectarianism ,created by an alien government to divide the Irish working class, these are the tasks the Irish Republican Socialist Party busy ourselves with in the centenary year of the 1916 rising.

The IRSPs political analyses has been correct at every major political juncture over the last four decades. But comrades we can be correct and wrong at the same time. We can be correct in continuously remaining principled, in continuously using our republican socialist political programme in the interests of our class but wrong if we fail to communicate that political programme correctly to the mass of the Irish people or fail to attract our class to our cause, ultimately their cause. We must continue Connolly’s revival.

We must continue the work of the martyrs who fought and died on Vinegar Hill. We must continue in the footsteps of the Workers who walked out on strike against exploitation, who fought pitched battles on the streets of Dublin during the 1914 Lockout. We continue to stand in solidarity with the spirit of the broad front of progressive forces who rose in 1916 against foreign physical and economic control of this island.

We stand here in the tradition of all progressive republicans and socialists who stayed the course, who remained principled, even in the darkest days of struggle. We continue to stand here on the shoulders of the giants of the martyrs of the Irish National Liberation Army who rose against imperialist occupation and lie buried in this graveyard and graveyards like it all over this island.

Republican Socialism has never had a strategic code to follow. To even try and create an authoritarian set of rules in which to pursue our struggle denigrates the journey to a people’s republic. The Irish working class are the sole instrument in which we can achieve our goals. Only by working through them, by convincing them of our political programme, that our vision is their vision, that a Republican Socialist society is in their best interests, that our Republic is their Republic, that it will belong to them. Only then will we see the fruit of our revolutionary labour.

Our core principals, our tolerance, our fairness, our tradition of resistance, our uniquely Irish socialism, these are the things that will keep us on the correct path. We don’t claim to be perfect, yes mistakes have been made, but all done in the best interests of our class at any given time. We hold no romantic notions of martyrdom, like the men and women of the 1916 Rising, we are just as prepared to do what has to be done, when it has to be done.

As the struggle against foreign interference in our affairs, the fight for national liberation and socialism has evolved over the last century it has gone through many eras. From armed rebellion to civil war, from social and political activism to the dark years of the Long War from 1969 to 1998, the key for survival and growth is in identifying the transition from one era of struggle to another.

Today, 18 years after the Good Friday defeat, and after numerous treaties aimed at solidifying the peace, after the entrenchment of sectarianism in the north, after the absurdities of greed and gluttony during the boom and bust cycle of capitalism in the south, and the un-flinching implementation of cruel unjustifiable austerity, we are on the threshold of a new era of struggle and like those who have gone before us, we must embrace it and thrive. The stakes are too high to ignore the realities.

As the young capable comrades of the IRSP position themselves for leadership of this organisation, how will we be judged in 100 years time. As future generations gather at this very spot to commemorate the sacrifice for a workers republic, what will they say about the new era of struggle we are moving into? What will the history books say about us? Who knows? But it’s up to us to write that chapter of struggle, our struggle against imperialism and oppression and for national liberation and socialism.

Like the men and women who rose in 1916 we have a clear vision, we have the same motives.. To address our national sovereignty denied and to create a nation worthy of a people who have never known a nation, a nation waiting to be born, that exists today in the hearts and minds of young Republican Socialist’s.

The primacy of our political project will bring us towards the Workers Republic. It will abolish the physical border partitioning our island, from North to South, and it will destroy the economic border partitioning our island from East to West. The primacy of our political project will redistribute the wealth of the nation collectively and equally giving ownership of the nation to its entire people.

As we enter this new era of struggle it’s important to remember the words of Liam Mellows as he was led out of a battle scarred Four Courts in 1922 to see uninvolved and apathetic workers cleaning the rubble from the streets after the republicans garrisoned there were attacked by the Free Staters. The ordinary worker didn’t care for the fate of the Republicans being escorted to prison or execution, Mellows commented that “the workers are not with us”, meaning the republican side in the Civil War. We must be vigilant that we do not repeat those mistakes, we must learn from history, any future actions must lead towards the Workers Republic; there can be no backward steps. It’s only by standing shoulder to shoulder with workers in their daily struggles can we attempt to fight against the powerful forces lined up against us. We must always act in the interests of the working class.

In 1994, twenty two years ago, in the interests of our class, our armed wing adopted its “no first strike” policy in response to the changing political climate of the day. Our entire movement had an intense period of internal political discussion which led to the collective decision to move towards total cessation of armed actions in 1998.

Although we supported the peaceful resolution of the national question we could not support the Good FridayAgreement in 98. The GFA contained nothing to further advance the struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland. It was a defeat for the wider republican struggle. But our path had been chosen, the primacy of our political project had been ratified by the entire movement and our support base.

The ensuing years of political struggle led to the IRSPs calls in Bray 2005 for “ all anti-GFA republicans need to take a step back and engage with each other, those not on cease-fire need to call a cessation to their campaigns. Put simply it is not working; there is no support within the working class community for armed struggle to defeat imperialism, at this present time”.

Dialogue did eventually take place in 2008 which eventually led to the formation of the Irish Republican Forum for Unity, which had the potential to politically unite all strands of anti-imperialist republicanism, predictably it failed, due to the influence of British intelligence and the hidden agenda by elements within the IRFU to use it to create a new IRA, aimed at continuing failed tactics, tired rhetoric and the zero-sum political programme of the past.

The IRSP totally opposed these moves to use progressive dialogue for regressive aims and eventually withdrew our support for the IRFU over the “cloak and dagger” tactics being used.  Culminating in our current political position that support for armed struggle is one of the biggest barriers to creating an anti-imperialist broad front in the interests of the working class and for the building of socialism in Ireland. The IRSP will never condemn those who engage in armed struggle, although we ask those engaged in it to analyse their actions further than the maxim “Ireland un-free shall never be at peace” or smashing normalisation.

Since 2010 to entire movement has moved forward in the spirit of the Ta Power document, continuing our ideologically principled political struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland whilst implementing the Ta Power principles of politics in command and collective leadership.

I will finish with an excerpt from comrade Powers analysis document which states:

“WE MUST MAKE NO SECRET OF THE FACT THAT WE ARE A REVOLUTIONARY PARTY, PREPARED TO GIVE LEADERSHIP ON THE STREETS AS WELL AS IN THE ELECTED CHAMBERS, AND THAT WE ARE OUT FOR A REVOLUTIONARY STATE”.

“What we must do is examine the above statement by Seamus Costello and draw all the necessary implications from it. A revolutionary party must have a revolutionary ideology, an ideology that enables us to analyse the world, the motive force at work in the world, and plan a campaign based on the analysis.”

“A campaign that is consistent, principled, and bold in its implementation, maxims as a guide to action is an ideology; it represents the historical interests of the working class, which through the medium of a revolutionary party, aims to overthrow the capitalist order and begin the construction of communism.”

Comrade Power continues:

“We must make no secret of the fact that we are such a party, make no secret of what we stand for and aim for. We cannot try to fool the Irish people, we must recognise that it is fatal to confuse and deceive them. “

 “We must define our socialist republic, explain exactly what it entails; innuendoes, vagueness and good intentions are not enough: The road to hell is paved with good intentions! We must define all this with the utmost clarity so that the Irish people are under no illusion of what we are fighting for. “

“A revolutionary socialist party means that we must engage in revolutionary politics throughout all of Ireland, both on the streets and in the elected chambers.”

Comrade Power finishes

“It means that we must first identify the major contradictions in Ireland today, which is the continued occupation by the British of the six counties, the resulting denial of our right to self-determination and sovereignty, the resolution of the national question, partition and all the evils and divisions that spring from it, it entails a struggle against imperialism, it entails the mobilisation of the mass of Irish people in the struggle for national liberation, but it doesn’t mean confining ourselves solely to the national question.”

“As we said before, there are many strands to the anti-imperialist struggle; it means involvement in campaigns against unemployment, emigration, repression, involvement in trade unions, action groups and EVERYTHING! “

“We must agitate, propagandise and organise around these issues (but not a reformist manner). There is no easy road to a socialist republic, no short cuts; we must strive towards uniting and politicising the working class no matter what obstacles confront us in our task, for we cannot win our struggle without the working class.”

Comrades in this centenary year of the 1916 Rising its imperative that the party of Connolly, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, continue and accelerate our growth and struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland.”

Connolly, The Rising and The Unfinished Revolution

Posted in Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

 

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This Easter marks the centenary  of the Easter Rising in Dublin against British imperialist rule. The outstanding revolutionary leader of that movement was James Connolly. There have been many attempts by some Republicans to portray him simply as an Irish nationalist. But Connolly was, first and foremost, a militant workers’ leader and a Marxist. He alone in the annals of the both the Irish and Sottish Movement succeeded in developing the ideas of Marxism.

Born in 1868 into a poor family in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, James Connolly was a true proletarian. His working life commenced at the age of ten. All his life he lived and breathed the world of the working class, shared in its trials and tribulations, suffered from its defeats and exulted in its victories. Connolly was a self-educated man who became a brilliant orator and writer whose words were always aimed and intended to be understood by the Working Class, not so-called ‘Marxist academics’ ensconced in their ivory towers.

On the basis of a James Connolly’s careful study of the writings of Marx and Engels, he developed an independent standpoint, making an original philosophical and strategic contribution to the class struggle. Even more remarkably, he did this without the benefit of direct contact with the other outstanding contemporary Marxist thinkers of the time, such as Lenin, Trotsky or Luxemburg.

From the beginning, Connolly had to contend with the same problems that blighted the existence of the rest of his class: dire, desperate poverty, which at times made it all but impossible for him to feed his family. But nothing could deter him from his chosen path. With unceasing vigour and absolute single-mindedness, Connolly fought for socialism, in other words, the full socio-economic emancipation of the Irish working class. The programme of the Irish Socialist Republican Party, written by Connolly, was not a nationalist but a socialist programme based upon:

“The establishment of An Irish Socialist Republic based on the public ownership by the Irish people of the land,the means of production, distribution and exchange. Agriculture was to be administered as a collectivist public function, under boards of management elected by the agricultural population and responsible to them and to the nation at large. All other forms of labour necessary to the well-being of the community to be conducted on the same principles.”

Connolly was, first and foremost, a militant workers’ leader. The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU), under the leadership of Larkin and Connolly, led the stormy wave of class struggle that shook Ireland to its foundations in the years before 1914.  This affected not only Dublin but also Belfast, where Connolly succeeded in uniting Catholic and Protestant workers in struggle against the employers. In October 1911, he led the famous Belfast Textile workers strike.  Connolly organised the workers of that sector, who were predominantly low-paid, females viciously exploited and victimised by their employers. (Unfortunately in contemporary times we still see this practice carried out against workers!)

The wave of strikes was countered by the employers in the notorious Dublin lockout of 1913. Here we saw the real despicable face of the Irish bourgeoisie: grasping, repressive, reactionary. The Dublin bosses, organised by chief Gombeen William Martin Murphy, chairman of the Employers’ Federation and owner of the Irish Independent newspaper, supported by Arthur Griffith’s Sinn Fein party, set out to crush the workers and their organisations. The ITGWU replied by blacklisting Murphy’s newspapers, and he retaliated by locking out all ITGWU members.

The issue of class unity runs like a red thread through all the writings and speeches of Connolly:

“Perhaps they will see that the landlord who grinds his peasants on a Connemara estate, and the landlord who rack-rents them in a Cowgate slum, are brethren in fact and deed. Perhaps they will realise that the Irish worker who starves in an Irish cabin and the Scots worker who is poisoned in an Edinburgh garret are brothers with one hope and destiny.” (C.D. Greaves, James Connolly, p. 61.)

Throughout the lockout, Larkin and Connolly repeatedly appealed to the class solidarity of the British workers. They addressed mass rallies in England, Scotland and Wales, which were also the scene of large class-based battles in the years before the war. The appeal of the Irish workers did not fall on deaf ears. However, in Ireland the Catholic Church and assorted bigots played their part in trying to break the strike. Their cause was enthusiastically supported by the rank and file of the British movement, although the right wing Labour leaders were preparing to ditch the Irish workers as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Despite the solidarity and sympathy of the workers of Britain, the trade union leaders refused to organise solidarity strikes, the only way that victory could have been achieved. In the end, the workers were starved back to work. Bitterly, Connolly noted:

“And so we Irish workers must again go down to Hell, bow our backs to the last of the slave drivers, let our hearts be seared by the iron of his hatred and instead of the sacramental wafer of brotherhood and common sacrifice, eat the dust of defeat and betrayal. Dublin is isolated.” (p. 23)

The Citizen’s Army

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In the years preceding World War One, the British ruling class was facing revolutionary developments in Ireland and in Britain. In order to head off the danger of revolution, they resorted to the “Orange card”. Edward Carson organised and armed the reactionary lumpenproletariat of the north east of Ireland into the Ulster Volunteer Force, who pledged to resist Irish Home Rule legislation by force, ironically, for those who claimed ‘loyalty’ to Britain they imported arms from the Brit’s belligerent rivals, Germany. Doubly ironic was the fact that they opposed by force of arms legislation passed by ‘Her Majesty’s parliament’ which they claimed allegiance to! When the Liberal government in London contemplated using the British army in Ireland, they were met with what is now known as the “Curragh Mutiny.” Connolly remained firm in the face of the reactionary rabble rousing and attempts at sectarian strife. He organised a Labour demonstration under the auspices of the ITGWU, “the only union that allows no bigotry in its ranks.” In answer to the sectarians and religious bigots, he declared class war, issuing his famous manifesto: “To the Linen Slaves of Belfast.”

In order to protect themselves against the brutal attacks of police and hired thugs of the employers, the workers set up their own defence force, the Irish Citizens’ Army (ICA). Indeed the ICA was the first Red Army. This was a socialist militia that the workers had organised themselves, on an armed basis to defend against the common enemy of the bosses and the scabs. The latter, it should be remembered, were much more numerous than at the present time, as a result of the widespread conditions of poverty and despair. The two main leaders were Connolly (himself an ex-soldier) and Captain Jack J. White DSO – a Protestant Ulsterman. But Connolly saw the ICA not only as a defence force, but as a revolutionary army, dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism. He wrote:

“An armed organisation of the Irish working class is a phenomenon in Ireland. Hitherto, the workers of Ireland have fought as parts of the armies led by their masters, never as a member of any army officered, trained, and inspired by men of their own class. Now, with arms in their hands, they propose to steer their own course, to carve their own future.” (Workers Republic, 30 October 1915)

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As we see from these lines, Connolly envisaged the ICA in class terms, as an organisation organically linked to the mass organisations of the proletariat. It was funded out of the subscriptions of the members of the union, and its activities were organised from Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the ITGWU in Dublin. The Citizens Army drilled and paraded openly on the streets of Dublin for several years before 1916. Here was no secret organisation engaged in the methods of ‘individual terrorism’* such as elements of the Narodniks but a genuine workers’ militia: the first workers’ Red Army in Europe, prepared to take armed action when appropriate.

Unfortunately, the movement in the direction of revolution in Ireland was rudely cut across by the outbreak of the First World War. In August 1914, despite all the resolutions passed by the congresses of the Socialist International, every one of the leaderships of the Social Democratic Parties betrayed the cause of socialist internationalism and voted for the War. The only honourable exceptions were the Russians, the Serbs and the Irish. Right from the start, Connolly adopted an unswerving internationalist stance, which was, in all fundamentals, identical with the position adopted by Lenin.

Commenting on the betrayal of the leaders of the Socialist International (which in latter days has become the organisational fraternity of such ville reformists as the present day British Labour Party and even the SDLP!), he wrote in Forward (15 August, 1914):

“What then becomes of all our resolutions; all our protests of fraternisation; all our threats of general strikes; all our carefully built machinery of internationalism; all our hopes for the future?”

And he reached the same conclusion as Lenin. In answer to the kind of pacifism that was the hallmark of Labour Lefts such as Ramsay MacDonald (at that time) and the leaders of the ILP, he wrote:

“A great continental uprising of the working class would stop the war; a universal protest at public meetings would not save a single life from being wantonly slaughtered.”

Connolly was not just a socialist, not just a revolutionary: he was an Internationalist to the marrow of his bones.

The 1916 Easter Rising

From the start of the War, Connolly was virtually isolated. Internationally, he had no contact. Outside of Ireland, the Labour Movement seemed to be as silent as the grave. True, there were symptoms of a revival in Britain, with the Glasgow rent strike of 1915. But Connolly feared that the workers of Britain would move too late. The idea of an uprising had clearly been taking shape in Connolly’s mind. The threat that Britain would introduce conscription into Ireland was the main issue that concentrated the mind, not only of Connolly, but also of the petit bourgeois nationalists of the Irish Volunteers. Connolly therefore pressed them to enter a militant alliance with Labour for an armed uprising against British imperialism. In the event, the leaders of the Volunteers withdrew at the last movement, leaving the Rising in the lurch.

Was Connolly right to move when he did? The question is a difficult one. The conditions were frankly unfavourable. Although there were strikes in Ireland right up to the outbreak of the Rising, the Irish working class had been exhausted and weakened by the exertions of the lockout. There were rumours that the British authorities were planning to arrest the leading Irish revolutionaries. Connolly finally decided to throw everything into the balance. He drew the conclusion that it was better to strike first. He aimed to strike a blow that would break the ice and show the way, even at the cost of his own life. To fight and lose was preferable than to accept and capitulate. When Connolly marched out of Liberty Hall for the last time that fateful morning, he whispered to a comrade: “We are going out to be slaughtered.” When the latter asked him: “Is there no chance of success?” he replied: “None whatever!”

Though small and stocky in physical stature, Connolly was undoubtedly a revolutionary socialist republican and syndicalist giant. His actions were those of a genuine revolutionary, unlike the craven conduct of the Labour leaders who backed the imperialist mechanised mass slaughter of World War One with the enthusiastic support of the Irish bourgeois nationalists. Yet, like all revolutionaries and indeed all humankind, he also made some mistakes. There is no point in denying it, although some people wish to make Connolly into a ‘nationalist saint’,  while simultaneously ditching or distorting his ideas. There were serious weaknesses in the Rising itself. No attempt was made to call a general strike. On Monday 24, 1916, the Dublin trams were still running, and most people went about their business. No appeal was made to the conscripted British soldiers.

Only 1,500 members of the Dublin Volunteers and ICA answered the call to rise. The nationalists had already split between the Redmondites – the Parliamentary Irish Group – who backed the War, and the left wing. However, on the eve of the Rising, the leader of the Volunteers, Eoin MacNeil publicly instructed all members to refuse to come out. As so many times before and since, the nationalist bourgeoisie betrayed the cause of Ireland, echoing Henry Joy McCracken’s words, that,

“The rich will always betray the poor”

The behaviour of the nationalist leaders came as no surprise to Connolly, who always approached the national liberation struggle from a class point of view. He never had any trust in the bourgeois and petit bourgeois Republicans, and tirelessly worked to build an independent movement of the working class as the only guarantee for the re conquest of Ireland. Since his death there have been many attempts to erase his real identity as a revolutionary socialist and present him as just one more, ‘officially sanitised’ nationalist leader. This is utterly false! One week before the Rising he warned the Citizens Army:

“The odds against us are a thousand to one. But if we should win, hold onto your rifles because the Volunteers may have a different goal. Remember, we are not only for political liberty, but for economic liberty as well.”

From a military point of view the Rising was doomed in advance , although if the Volunteers had not been stabbed in the back at the 11th hour, the Uprising could have had far greater success. As it was, the British used heavy artillery to batter the GPO (the rebellion’s command centre) into submission. By Thursday night, after four days of heroic resistance against the most frightful odds, the Irish revolutionaries were compelled to sign an unconditional surrender.

Although the Rising itself ended in failure, it left behind a tradition of struggle that had far-reaching consequences. It was just this that Connolly almost certainly had in mind. In particular the savagery of the British army, which shot all the leaders of the Rising in cold blood after a series of vengeful courts martial, caused a wave of revulsion throughout all Ireland. James Connolly, who was badly wounded and unable to stand, was shot strapped to a chair. But the British had miscalculated. The gunshots that ended the life of this great martyr of the working class aroused a new generation of revolutionary fighters eager to revenge Ireland’s wrongs!

Leon Trotsky, writing in 1916, shortly after the Rising paid tribute to,

“the heroic defenders of the Dublin barricades. The undoubted personal courage, representing the hopes and methods of the past, is over. But the historical role of the Irish proletariat is only beginning.”

The Easter Rising was like a tocsin bell, the echoes of which rang throughout Europe. After two years of imperialist slaughter, at last the ice was broken! A courageous word had been spoken, and could be heard above the din of the bombs and cannon-fire. Lenin received the news of the uprising enthusiastically. This was understandable, given his position. The War posed tremendous difficulties for the Marxist internationalists. Lenin was isolated with a small group of supporters. On all sides there was capitulation and betrayal. The class struggle was temporarily in abeyance. The Labour leaders were participating in coalition governments with the social-patriot traitors to their class. The events in Dublin completely cut across this. That is why Lenin was so enthusiastic about the uprising. But he also pointed out:

“The misfortune of the Irish is that they have risen prematurely when the European revolt of the proletariat has not yet matured. Capitalism is not so harmoniously built that the various springs of rebellion can of themselves merge at one effort without reverses and defeats.”

Had the Rising occurred a couple of years later, it would not have been isolated. It would have had powerful reserves in the shape of the mass revolutionary movement that swept through Europe after the October Revolution in 1917. But Connolly was not to know this.

Importance of leadership

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Some sorry ex-Marxists criticised the Easter Rising from a right wing standpoint, such as Plekhanov. In an article in Nashe Slovo dated 4 July, 1916, Trotsky denounced Plekhanov’s remarks about the Rising as “wretched and shameful”, noting the potential of 1916 as a catalyst for further proletarian action stated,

“Already into this uprising – under an archaic banner – it has injected its class resentment against militarism and imperialism. That resentment from now on will not subside. On the contrary, it will find an echo throughout Great Britain. Scottish soldiers smashed the Dublin barricades. But in Scotland itself coal-miners are rallying round the red flag, raised by Maclean and his friends. Those very workers, who at the moment the Hendersons are trying to chain to the bloody chariot of imperialism, will revenge themselves against the hangman Lloyd George.”

Unfortunately, this prediction was falsified by history. The tragedy of the Irish working class was that, unlike Lenin, Connolly did not create a revolutionary Marxist party, armed with theory, that would have carried on his work after his death. This was his biggest mistake, and one which had the most tragic consequences. In the same way that the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht later beheaded the German revolution, so the killing of Connolly removed any chance of the Irish working class leading the revolutionary movement against British imperialism. This was a heavy price to pay!

Connolly had created the Irish Labour Party, with a solid base in the trade unions and the working class. In effect, it was the workers of the Irish Citizens Army who had led the Easter Rising, not the petit bourgeois Volunteers. In fact, Sinn Fein played absolutely NO role in the uprising, while the Irish bourgeois nationalists openly betrayed it.

Yet, when Connolly was removed from the picture, it was the bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalists who took advantage of the situation to seize control of the movement. Tragically, the leaders of the Irish Labour Party, lacking Connolly’s grounding in Marxism, proved to be hopelessly inadequate to the tasks posed by history. Instead of maintaining Connolly’s fight for an independent class policy, they tail ended the nationalists, standing down in their favour in the general election after the War.  Today, the Irish Labour Party bears no resemblance to it’s Connollyite origins and ranks as a cheerleader for the most reactionary of political policies.

Under the leadership of the bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalists, the movement was side-tracked into a guerrilla struggle, and then betrayed. Fearful of the prospect of revolution, the rotten Irish bourgeoisie reached an agreement with London to divide the living body of Ireland. All Connolly’s warnings about the treacherous role of the bourgeoisie were confirmed by the terrible events surrounding partition. The legacy of this betrayal is still with us today.

For the last 100 years, the Irish bourgeois and petit bourgeois nationalists have demonstrated their complete incapacity for solving the tasks of the Irish national liberation struggle. In 1922, the bourgeois leaders signed the partition of Ireland. This problem cannot be solved on a capitalist basis. For 30 years the Provisional IRA failed to solve the national liberation struggle by an individualistic armed campaign whose aims were ultimately to gain entrance to the respectable corridors of bourgeois power, short-changing many of it’s bravest volunteers. Those tactics of ‘individual terrorism’ have absolutely nothing in common with the methods of Connolly and the Citizens Army, which were always based on class politics and organically linked to the proletariat and the mass workers organisations.

What have these methods achieved? Over three thousand deaths; the destruction of a whole generation of Irish youth; the splitting of the population of the North into two hostile camps; a terrible legacy of sectarian bitterness. And with what result? Has the border question been solved? Let us speak clearly: After the three decades of armed struggle, the cause of Irish reunification is now further away today than at any other time. Ignominiously, the leaders of the Provisionals have capitulated for the sake of a few paltry ministerial portfolios – ‘crumbs from the master’s table’. Nothing has been solved for either Catholic or Protestant working class people.

This is the terrible legacy of decades of individual terrorism and the total lack of any class or socialist perspective. True, there was a serious division in the past between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. But now in place of division we have a yawning abyss. Yet none of this would have been necessary if Connolly’s ideas and methods had prevailed.

In his lifetime, Connolly always fought for the unity of the working class above all national and religious lines. By concentrating on class issues, he succeeded in uniting the Catholic and Protestant workers in the struggle against their common enemy – the employing class. That is the only way to get out of the present mess. The only way to solve what remains of Ireland’s national problem is as a by-product of the revolutionary struggle for socialism. That was true in Connolly’s day. And it remains true today. There can be no reunification of Ireland while the working class remains divided along sectarian lines.

The socialist revolution in the North is inextricably linked to the perspective of socialist revolution in the South – and in Britain. In other words, it can only be solved with a proletarian and internationalist policy. There is still a ray of hope in the North of Ireland. Despite everything, the fundamental organisations of the working class – the trade unions – remain united. They are probably the only real non-sectarian mass organisations that still exist. This is the base upon which we can build! That would undoubtedly be the message of James Connolly, were he alive at this time.

One hundred years later, it is necessary to cut through all the fog of historical fantasy, revisionism and nationalist mystification that surrounds the events of Easter Week, and see the key role of the proletariat. What a great opportunity was missed with the death of James Connolly! But the new generation must take the lesson to heart. Connolly failed because he did not create – as Lenin created – the necessary instrument with which to change society: a revolutionary party and a revolutionary leadership!

Today, as Irish Republican Socialists, we pledge ourselves to defend the heritage of this great Marxist, fighter, and martyr of the working class. We must rescue the ideas of Connolly which have been stolen and distorted beyond recognition by Gombeen rogues whose reactionary world view would have been anathema to Connolly, socialism or the working class. We must continue the fight for Connolly’s ideas – the only ideas that can guarantee the ultimate victory for the Irish Proletariat, National Liberation and Socialism. We have began over 40+ years of struggle to create the necessary revolutionary organisation, soundly based on the programme, policy and methods of Marxism. And we must understand that such an organisation must be firmly based in the only soil in which it can grow and flourish: the trade unions and the organisation of Irish Republican Socialism.  In Scotland, England and Wales only similar revolutionary measures can bring true freedom for the proletariat there – it will never come from placing an ‘X’ on a ballot sheet every few years for politicians who care nothing but for their membership of the ‘Westminster Club.’

The Easter Rising was a glorious harbinger of what is still to come. The Revolution was left unfinished in 1916. The task now falls upon our shoulders, those who see the struggle for National Liberation and Socialism as symbiotic, who march behind the Red Flag of Socialism and the Starry Plough. Seamus Costello, who Nora Connolly-O’Brien, the daughter of Irish Marxist philosopher and Easter Rising leader, James Connolly, said:

“Of all the politicians and political people with whom I have had conversations, and who called themselves followers of Connolly, he was the only one who truly understood what James Connolly meant when he spoke of his vision of the freedom of the Irish people.”

It is correct to say that the Red thread of Connolly’s Revolutionary Republican Socialism still runs brightly through the Irish Republican Socialist Movement co-founded by Seamus Costello.  It would be folly to concur that Connolly would ever have condemned Costello’s politics or his movement’s aims, in fact it echoes Connolly’s vision for Ireland’s proletariat, when he stated,

“We want to build a society where our children can live in peace and prosperity, a society where they will control the wealth of this country.” (Crossbarry, Cork, in March 1976)

 

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By Peter Black and Alex McGuigan

  • Note: ‘Individual terrorism’ in the Marxist definition of the word, as opposed to it’s use by the Ruling class, means the use of fear-inducing violence by an individual, a political group or a social class to achieve some aim: it may be simply an act of revenge against injustice; an attempt to stimulate the masses to struggle and revolt; or an attempt to intimidate its opponents, to sap their will or ability to resist.

1966 Film Footage of The 50th Anniversary of The Easter Rising in Belfast

Posted in Commemoration, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 29, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Rising Centenary Commemoration Dublin

Posted in Commemoration, Human Rights, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

rsm easter 2016

The Irish Republican Socialist Movement will hold it’s Centenary Commemoration of the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin on Saturday 26 March.  The event will begin outside Liberty Hall at 12.30pm, making it’s way to Glasnevin Cemetery.

The Irish Republican Socialist Movement shares the values and vision of James Connolly, the Irish Citizen Army and honours all those who ignited the spark in 1916 for those who sought to achieve a 32 county Irish Workers Republic.

For further details or transport arrangements contact your local IRSP representative and/or read the IRSP NEWS , the main IRSP Facebook Page or your area’s dedicated IRSP Facebook page.

Saoirse Go Deo!

The Coming Generation by James Connolly

Posted in Ireland, Irish Citizen Army, Irish Republican Socialism, IRSM, IRSP, James Connolly, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 16, 2016 by The Plough & The Stars

 

plough and stars

Last week we witnessed in Dublin the first political parade of the coming generation.

Between twenty-five and thirty thousand children turned out and walked in processional order through the streets of the city, to show the world that British Imperialism had cast no glamour over their young minds.

And that in the person of Her Britannic Majesty they recognised only a woman – no better than the mothers who bore them, if as good.

It was a great sight to see the little rebels taking possession of the city – a sight more promising for the future of the country than any we can remember.

Well, the children did their duty. Now are you prepared to do your duty to the children? Listen, my patriotic friend! Every child in that army of processionists – being the children of the poor as they all were, for it is only in the veins of such the stream of patriotism flows pure and undefiled – is destined to become, if it lives, the slave of a master, and will grow up in a world which nowhere recognises its right to life, except on the supposition that it will make a profit for a master.

You rear your child up to love its country, and you support a social system which declares that the child has no right to the country, but must pay for permission to live on it as it is the property of private individuals.

You shout for liberty, and you surrender your children to the mercies of capitalism which will seize them as soon as they leave school, and will devote their little bones, muscles and undeveloped brains to the task of grinding out profits for a boss.

Are you doing your duty? Love Ireland! Yes, if by ‘Ireland’ you mean not only the earth and the waters, but the men and the women, the boys and the girls – the people of Ireland, in fact.

Ireland without her people is nothing to me, and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland’, and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland, aye, wrought by Irishmen upon Irishmen and women, without burning to end it, is, in my opinion, a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how he loves that combination of chemical elements which he is pleased to call ‘Ireland’.

If you are proud of the children who responded to the call of their country, and passed unheeded the seductions of the tyrant, then bestir yourselves to win for them a right to live in that country, a right to enjoy its beauties, and revel in its abundance, irrespective of the wishes of any employer or landlord.

When Socialism is realised every child in our Irish soil will by the mere fact of its existence be an heir to, and partner in, all the country produces; will have the same right to an assured existence as the citizen has today to his citizenship – in fact that will then be the right of citizenship, the right to live in the country, and the right to enjoy those fruits of labour the country will yield to its children.

That is the reward you should render the children for their love of country; win the country for them and leave it behind you as theirs to enjoy free and unfettered – neither under the heel of foreign tyrant, nor yielding disguised tribute to native slave driver.

You cannot be doing, you are not doing, your duty to the children while you leave them to grow up amidst such surroundings as are to be found in the tenement houses of our city.

You are neglecting your duty as long as you allow your City Hall to be in the power of men who as landlords derive their living from the rents they extort out of the poisonous slums in which they are slowly murdering the children of the working class – those very children you professed to admire on Sunday.

You are traitor to your duty as long as you elect to Parliament the members of a political party which, like the Home Rule Party, is officered, managed and financed by that same class – the landlords of our city slums.

Ah, be true to your class, to your duty, to our children, and you cannot fail but be worthy of your country, and when next the non-Socialist politicians, or the municipal wirepuller solicits support:

Think of the children who swarm and die
In loathsome dens where despair is king,
Like blackened buds of a frosty spring
That wither sunless, remote they lie
From the love that nurtures each quickening sense,
While Vice, and Hunger, and Pestilence,
Breast-poisoned nurses, the babies drain dry.

And so thinking, take your place in the ranks of the Irish Socialist Republican Party.

James Connolly, Workers’ Republic, 15 July 1900.

Belfast-20141018-00070

Irish Republican Flags

Posted in Easter Commemoration, Flags with tags , , , , , on March 24, 2015 by The Plough & The Stars

In Republican working class areas of Ireland, especially the North of the country, Republican flags are very much in evidence particularly in the run up to the anniversary of the 1916 Rising at Easter time.  Generally speaking, Irish Republican flags would not be on display to the same extent that pro-British flags would be in Unionist towns and villages in the North East of the country.  Many Unionist areas in the North of Ireland would be tackily festooned with Loyalist flags and bunting on a near 365 days per year basis.

 

In Republican areas householders would still be very conscious that, due to the sectarian nature of the Northern state-let, their flying of Republican flags to commemorate the Easter Rising would be viewed by the various forces of the British occupied ‘state-let’ as being subversive, leaving them susceptible to surveillance and indeed raids by the MI5-directed PSNI/RUC.  Until fairly recently, Republican flags were the subject of a de jure ban, which was rigorously enforced by the North’s paramilitary police force the RUC and this was used as a pretext to break up even the mildest of Nationalist parades which had the temerity to carry the National flag of Ireland, usually referred to as the Tricolour. Indeed one of the sparks that helped ignite the tinder that led to the conflagration of the 40+ year conflict in the North was the ‘Divis Street flag incident when the RUC acting at the behest of arch-Loyalist, the late Ian Paisley, stormed the then Sinn Fein HQ to remove a small Irish tricolour on display that caused zero offence to any local resident. (There is considerable truth in the  words ascribed to Napper Tandy  that the ‘wearing of the Green’ has been effectively outlawed by British rule for centuries, as the old song goes)

The Tricolour

In most Republican areas the flag most prevalently on display would be the National flag, which is also commonly referred to as ‘the tricolour’, it is made up of three vertical bands of green, white and orange. The tricolour’s origins are from the French revolution and the era of Europe-wide bourgeois revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries.  Many of the then new nation-states of Europe from that era, such as France and Italy post-Risorgimento also have tricolours as their national flags composed of various colours.

starryplough

The modern Starry Plough

 

The Starry Plough

A very close second to the Irish tricolour would be the Starry Plough flag which is becoming even more popular in Irish Republican working class areas.  The Starry Plough has a blue background with white stars marking the shape of the constellation Ursa Major, also known as the heavenly plough.  The Starry Plough is the flag of Irish Republican Socialism and is closely associated with the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), although not exclusively so.  Most Irish Republican colour parties, marching bands or parades will have a Starry Plough included. The Starry Plough has it’s origins in James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army, although the design most seen today is an adaptation of the original, which was adopted by the left-wing Republican Congress of the 1930’s. The original Starry Plough aka the Plough and Stars has a green background, a ploughshare with the Ursa Major constellation marked on it and a sword as the plough’s blade, in the colour yellow.

The Original Irish Citizen Army Starry Plough flag

 

The Sunburst, Four Provinces and other flags

The Sunburst flag, which was adopted in the early 19th century as the flag of Na Fianna Eireann youth movement, has a blue background with a splintered sunrise in red or dark orange. In recent times the Sunburst has become quite popular and is a staple in most colour parties.

 

The Four Provinces flag is also quite popular as a stand alone flag.  It incorporates the four flags of the provinces of Ulster, Connacht, Munster and Leinster.  Some colour parties carry the Four Provinces flag or each provincial flag individually.  During the long period of the banning of the Irish tricolour, especially from rural Nationalist/Republican marches, the Four Provinces flags were often used as a substitute and received less attention from the sectarian, antagonistic RUC.

 

The Harp flag on a green background is relatively popular in rural Republican areas, although it is a flag that is rightly or wrongly associated with Hibernian-type narrow Nationalism. The 9 County Ulster flag (contained in the Four Provinces Flag above) which has a yellow background, a red cross and a red hand within a shield, does make appearances as a stand alone flag, although due to it’s very slight similarity to the Unionist ‘Northern Ireland’ flag, it is not as popular as it perhaps should be.  (In reality, the 9 County Ulster flags only heraldic link to the Northern Ireland flag is the red hand of O’Neil, the latter flag is strictly speaking the cross of St George with the red hand incorporated inside a 6 pointed, Zionist type star.)

 

A copy of the original flag that flew over the GPO in 1916. In recent times it has become closely associated with the ‘1916 Societies’

 

In conclusion, Irish Republican flags are colourful and steeped in history and tradition.Unlike the serial be-decking of Unionist areas, many people have given their lives for right to display Republican emblems. As stated earlier, in times past at least, many people were reluctant to commemorate the likes of the Easter Rising by flying flags from their homes, as it potentially marked their homes out for raids by the RUC and British army. In many cases the displaying of Republican flags by residents were used by the state-sponsored death squads of the Loyalist paramilitaries to target ordinary civilians for murder.   Many Irish Republican parties and groups have their own specially designed flags which are often seen at protests and demos.

 

Irrespective of what flag one chooses to fly and align oneself to, it is a small gesture to commemorate the heroism of the Revolutionaries who against overwhelming odds took up arms in open revolt against the British imperialist presence in Ireland during Easter 1916 in Dublin and those who selflessly laid their lives down in later periods of the national liberation struggle.  99 years later their objectives have still to be fully realised, with British imperialism still undemocratically claiming possession of the six northern counties. However, any examination of the cyclic nature of the Irish dialectic will still concur with Irish Marxist theoretician and Irish Republican Socialist leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, James Connolly, in his speech to the Court Martial that sentenced him to death following the Rising, when he proclaimed:

“that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence in any one generation of Irishmen, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that Government for ever a usurpation and a crime against human progress!”

The current IRSP ‘party flag’

 

Most of the flags above and associated merchandise can be purchased from James Connolly House, Chamberlain StreetDerry or online via this link

 

 

Alex McGuigan

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