Replying to Owen was Re: Final word to Mr. Cahill

Owen Jones owen_jones at
Tue Aug 8 12:58:52 MDT 2000


 Again, I also agree with you, and I think you raise the important point of
separating military support from political support. For example, my support
for the right of self-determination of Chechnya meant I militarily supported
the Chechen rebels, despite the fact a reasonable evaluation of their
political character would be "clerical-fascism", and thereby my military
support against the Russian Army certainly does not extend to support of
them politically.

 On the question of the Balkan War, I unreservedly supported Yugoslavia
militarily in fighting the imperialist onslaught, but that did not mean any
political support for the regime that had undertook capitalist
counter-revolution in Yugoslavia and included the fascist party of Votislav
Sesijl or the arch-reactionary Vuk Draskovic (who is now on a Western
payroll) - although that is frankly an inter-left matter and anti-war
propaganda *must* completely ignore the undesirable political character of a
given regime that leads an oppressed people. However, I did not militarily
support the KLA whatsoever because they were not fighting for the right of
self-determination, but were serving as an imperialist proxy army with the
aim of establishing a NATO protectorate.

 In the same way, I militarily support the IRA against the British State,
though I assert that their tactics of individual terrorism were bound to
fail and thereby encourage them to take part in building a working class
movement against the occupation (rather than their present outright
capitulation). There were many opportunities for such, and now with
working-class expressions into Unionism as represented by groups like the
"Progressive Unionist Party", parts of the working class unionist population
can and must be won over to a united Ireland. The IRA were always officially
Marxist of course, although this is rhetoric by and large, particularly
since Sinn Fein have not only largely abandoned the struggle for a united
Ireland but any pretence of socialism with it.

 I also agree that criticisms of the leaders of the oppressed in these
questions should not be lead with - indeed they should have no place
whatsoever in propaganda. During the onslaught against Yugoslavia, a correct
slogan is something along the lines of "Fight the Imperialist War", not
"Fight the Imperialist War and Milosevic Is a Naughty Boy"; some here on the
left like AWL even sunk as low as to completely ignore the imperialist
bombardment and just lead on the actions of the Yugoslav side in the Kosovar
civil war, and clearly nobody can be a Marxist unless they are always and
unquestionably anti-imperialists. On Ireland, we call for a united socialist
Ireland, but don't then add "Stop the IRA's Individual Terrorism". On
Chechnya, a slogan is not "Self-Determination for Chechnya Although the
Chechen Rebels are Islamic Fascists". Similarly, when Italian imperialism
under Mussolini invaded Abyssinia, one did not say "this is a war between
two dictators" as in fact the ILP leadership said, but unquestionably defend
the oppressed Abyssinian people regardless of the political character of the
regime that leads them.

 However, I am very relieved you have pointed out that real liberation will
only be accomplished with a Irish working class socialist revolution both in
the south and the occupied north (although I would add that the Irish
working class movement needs their British brothers and sisters to guarantee
the unification of Ireland). All too often those on the Left who are the
opposite caricature of those who denounce Republicanism forget this. There
are sections of the working class on both sides that can be won over to a
revolutionary movement; clearly there are more socialist proletarians on the
nationalist side because of double-oppression, but I am convinced that
revolutionaries should work with the supporters and members of a working
class unionist party like the PUP, and win these core over to a united Irish
workers' state. Such workers are not imbued with chauvinism and thereby a
revolutionary party composed of the most class conscious workers of both
sides drawing from the PUP, Sinn Fein, the IRSP, etc., would be a tremendous
step forward.

 There is a change going on in the North; before the unionist working class
was almost entirely tied to "their" bourgeoisie with chauvinism, but now
working class expressions into unionism like the PUP show this is gradually
beginning to come undone.

 As it is, no people can be free if they oppress another, and the occupation
of Ireland has without question been a brake on the class consciousness of
the English working class. Still, I don't know if anybody else ever thought
this but the Orange Order are not only the most militant "British" in the
official country, but are in fact the most alien to the general culture of
the island. Working class people here see the thugs in their bright orange
uniform bashing away at drums and hardly feel empathy - in fact I would say
it sends a shiver down the spine of most workers.



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