Forwarded from John O'Neill

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Apr 16 06:49:08 MDT 2002

Finally, I do see a role for a working class party to recruit potential
gang-members to 'upstanding' activism as opposed to drug dealing or
burglaries or joy-riding. Some of our best and most dedicated people I know
would have been on the 'fringe' but were attracted to the image of the
movement. I guess you won't see too many Palestinian gangs if their
liberation forces survive through this current struggle. But to try to
incorporate 'gangs' per se would be tricky and would have significant risks

I think Domhnall is way off in his simplistic analysis of the PIRA and their
policy towards lumpen proletariat youth. I have seen PIRA "justice" and It
resembles an ultra right militia style justice rather than any form of
natural or revolutionary justice. Their are inherent dangers in any group
appointing themselves judge, jury and executioner and the PIRA is no
exception. There are historical reasons why the PIRA have developed as a
policing entity in the North and these are numerous but the primary reason
would be the understandable distrust of the catholic population in the
protestant RUC. This situation has enabled the PIRA to strengthen its
organisation in many catholic working class areas but it has also had a
cost. Mistakes are made, vendettas are settled under the guise of justice.
Youngsters are beaten some maimed for stealing cars, petty crime, and
disrespecting the authority of the PIRA. I can't overestimate the suffering
some kids are put through as punishment, beaten with baseball bats with six
inch nails protruding from them or a bullet fired through the back of their
kneecap that can often lead to permanent disfigurement. I challenge anyone
to justify this as fair treatment of juvinile deliquents.

Its also interesting to note that both the UDA/ LVF/UVF (loyalist
paramilitary groups) also carry out punishment beatings (does that make them
progressive protectors of their communities?) despite the fact that they are
up to their necks in drug dealing and crime. Another point I would make is
that if you were to draw a map of the North and look at where punishment
beatings (Both Loyalist and Nationalist) take place you would notice that
they are exclusive to working class areas and working class people. There
are no kneecappings on the Malone Road!

"Red Action" are a small group who have little support but do some good work
through there involvement in "Anti Fascist Action" and have some interesting
positions like the rejection of vanguardism and other "Sacred Cows" of
traditional Leninist/Trotskyist interpretations of Marxism that I would
largely agree with but their infatuation with the Celtic Football Club (all
Celtic supporters are progressive and all Rangers supporters are Nazi
loyalists) is quite simply bizarre. I have sat with Red Action members over
a pint and argued of the limitations of their position particularly to
drugs. They don't accept any distinction between heroin and hashish to them
all drugs are bad - All Dealers should be "dealt with" - and addicts cleaned
up by any means necessary. It sounds like a manifesto for a lunatic right
wing Tory faction. I can also recall in the mid 80's when SF supporters in
Dublin went around defacing Red Action graffiti by adding = MI5!

Real socialists/communists/progressives should understand that poverty and
inequality contribute to drug misuse and drug pedaling. Working class
youngsters are told they have no future, the education system that enforces
class and teaches them their place at the bottom of the capitalist system,
and predetermines at worst a life of unemployment or at best factory fodder
in a dead end job. They see that our society, through the media
entertainment etc., reinforces American values, rugged individualism, money
the new GOD where you are judged by the size of your car and the wedge of
cash in your pocket. Is it any wonder that the dispossessed turn to "easy
money". As you say for every dealer the PIRA has killed there are ten more
willing to take the risks and reap the rewards. I think Sinn Fein are slowly
coming to this realisation in Belfast are trying to instill alternatives to
this fundimentalist populism by attempting to promote restorative justice
whereby petty criminals have to confront their victims and make restoration
to the community for their actions.

This at least is a more humane approach to the problem. In the past we have
seen the results of marxists/revolutionaries loosing sight of the communist
essence of - putting people first- and it wasn't pretty and marxists trying
to build progressive groups all over the world are still paying the price
for crimes committed against the soviet people in their name.

Much the same in Dublin where the more working class Sinn Fein Activists are
turning from the circa 1980's mass evictions of small time drug dealers
(many of whom dealt to feed their habit). In the past I had attended some
rallies organised by Concerned Parents Against Drugs when a drug hysteria
was foisted on many working class communities by the CPAD preying on the
lack of awareness and ignorance of people. I have worked with community
groups supporting addicts/families of addicts to raise awareness of the
dangers of drug misuse, including alcohol (the biggest killer of Irish
people by a long shot). I know of many who were in CPAD the 1980's and have
radically changed their position to acceptance of the reality of drug misuse
and concentrating on raising awareness, prevention and prescription
alternatives.  If you look at the way black nationalists in America operate
in their communities where they attempt to lead by example, to convince
youth of the dangers of drug misuse and also highlight the way drugs can
enslave. They appear to do this to win young people to their cause and
respect from parents in their community. They do not go around shooting
their own people.

We were all teens once and maybe you didn't get up to any wrongdoing in the
past but I did, and I wonder if I had have been born in a different part of
Ireland and had stolen the wrong persons car would I be limping to work now?



Louis Proyect
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