The right(s) of Irish people(s)

Chris Burford cburford at
Fri Aug 11 22:49:27 MDT 1995

Paul seems to pack more content per word than any other contributor.

I have no doubt that his comments on the right of Irish
people to self determination are based on awareness of material on
the economic and social history of Ireland over five centuries. I very
largely agree with his comments. The difference I would make is when
he refers to "the myth of the nation state"

In marxist theory, and indeed in reality, at a time when the
bourgeoisie is rising and there is a national market to capture, the
nation state is no myth, eg Italy and Germany in the 19th century.
For some smaller European countries rather
late in the day, there was a place to a degree, with  market and a living
culture: the Czechs (Dvorak) Finland (Sibelius), Norway (Greig), and
Ireland. Ireland had enough
life to strike a major blow against British imperialism, but...

a) The economically protected Irish nation state could not last the
wider economic forces of the twentieth century

b) however unjust and cruel the verdict of history, however
treacherous the conduct of the Unionists in running guns to
the Orangemen, the resultant of a number of contradictory economic and
political currents, was that part of Ulster had stronger ties with the
British Isles as whole, than with Ireland on its own.

Brilliant though the Republican movement has been over more than a
century in combining legal with illegal work, we are this year witnessing
the acknowledgement that its strategy in Northern Ireland has not
succeeded. Despite Gerry Adams's sensitivity to the question of the
Protestant working class for more than two decades, there has been no
substantial sign of political movement that would give credibility to
the IRA's military campaign against the forces of the state.

At best as Paul, indicates and argument for a democratic shifting
of the border, and no one, and to the best of my knowledge no marxists,
see a great deal to be gained by that. It will be better to combat
all forms of oppression and let the workings of demography and
international capitalism  gradually erode the old ideologies.

Chris B, London


From: wpc at (Paul Cockshott)
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 95 22:17:03 PDT
Subject: Re: The Right to National Self-Determination

vis a vis Ireland and South Africa

The war in ireland these last 20 years stems from an
unwillingness by Irish irredentism to recognise the
rights of the Ulster Scots to self determination.
There remains a valid democratic case for a re-drawing
of the actual line of the border taking local opinion
into account.

From: wpc at (Paul Cockshott)
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 95 07:28:55 PDT
Subject: Re: Leo Casey on Zulus and Irish

- -----

As far as Ireland is concerned, the Irish are one people. The Ulster
minority should retain democratic and civil liberties in a united
Ireland, just as Afrikaners now enjoy in South Africa. This was the
position of nationalists like James Connolly.

- ----
That was indeed the position of nationalists like Connolly.
The question is, what should be the position of communists.
Within northern ireland the protestants constitute a majority
not a minority. This is why they are a problem. Not only are
they a majority, but one willing in the past to take up arms
to defend their self determination.

It may be that as far as Ireland - ie irish nationalist ideolgy,
the irish are one people - but from the standpoint of ulster
ideology they are not. No amount of telling those formed by
one nationalist ideology that they should abandon it for another
will work. Your 'should' can only be enforced at the point of
gun. At which point we have to ask which army is to enforce your

This type of situation is quite general in Europe. It is a consequence
of nationalist ideology pursuing the myth of the nation state.
But all over the continent we find populations adhering to
different nationalism inter-mixed. The reason why marxists
need a democratic line on the national question is to provide
a way of resolving such issues without resort to force, and
equally importantly, without allowing themselves to become
identified with one or the other of the potential belligerants.

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