Short Response to Phil: Re Social Economy
donaloc at peterquinn.com
Mon Feb 4 06:54:28 MST 2002
[ bounced last thursday due to a technical difficulty with the
headers. Les ]
I must apologise regarding my inability to respond in detail to your longer
(earlier) piece - I hope to get a chance at that tomorrow - I'm heavily
worked today. Also congratulations on your jibe from my clumsy quotation of
Mao (nice one).
Phil: It sounds like the imperialists have bought off/incorporated a sector
the republican and nationalist community in a way they could not have
dreamed of ten-fifteen years ago. The community industry seems to have
replaced the security industry, and it is probably even more effective than
the latter in keeping the lid on things.
The Social Economy project is directed towards community-empowerment, it
acts as a conduit for the pursuit of issues coming from the 'oppressed
population. I don't see us acting as a bulwark of reaction against our own
people (a la the security industry - which is very healthy here still). It
would be nice to see how Liam (as someone outside the movement) would view
the social economy and its role in controlling the oppressed population on
behalf of the Brits. My view is that it's a weapon for struggle - not some
great revolutionary 'on the streets' thing like you seem to demand but as a
pole with which we can prod our opponents - whether it's the Brits (too
little spending/retention of budget controls/MoD control) or Unionist
Hegemony (inequality). It also solidifies our support-base and displaces a
layer of SDLP-motivated local leadership. The whole ethos is one of
As to the tendency towards increased dependency, I think that the limit on
the availability of funding and the transfer of this responsibility to the
Assembly will limit this. You also seem to be drawing a false analogy with
the USA in the 60s and 70s where blacks were encouraged to build the social
economy *without any control over the government*. We're in a mid-position
of partially controlling the economy. Where there is no dedicated
revolutionary leadership behind the play, you are right it's going nowhere,
it's pacification. In our case, we have a relatively large, well organised
and disciplined organisation which determines our tactics and which weighs
up the state of play beforehand. It is conscious and it is no less
determined than at any stage over the previous 30 years - it is committed to
the Socialist Republic. You are welcome to hold views on that, but that's
the reality. You earlier declare (as does McIntyre) that the 'modus
operandi' is to offer the membership no alternative to compromise. Well, the
way these decisions are determined (before being offered to the membership)
is that a range of options are generated and each one is weighed up in terms
of benefits and disadvantages, likely reactions from within and without, the
most suitable one is pursued. The issue is to generalise that procedure
throughout the movement and to lower the level of the decision-making
procedure - particularly within the party.
It isn't just a coincidence that you failed to see the successfulness of the
strategy (in regard to achieving a United Ireland) in the early 90s, this
was the case all round. People who you scathingly sneer at now had made the
call correctly then. The key question for the activist base then (as now)
was not are we going to get a Socialist Republic but are we going to get a
United Ireland - the programme of compromise was difficult to push. You seem
oblivious to the hundreds who just can't get politicised at all - these guys
don't even realise what they are militant about - outside a united Ireland
(of whatever sort). If someone like you couldn't see the wood for the trees,
how could we reasonably expect these guys to. Top-down decision-making
procedures was the order of the day then, now the key is to empower the
base - it's late for that I know - but this reflects the confidence the
leadership have regarding the achievement of the primary objective. Now we
are more sure of getting a United Ireland and of gaining more political
strength - they are getting more keen to push socialist concepts and the
more overt agenda.
I have to say I totally disagree with your strategic vision - you seem to
think that the tactics of Connolly in 1916 (as enunciated by yourself) are
appropriate to our struggle now. We are living in very different
circumstances; the conditions for struggle are objectively different. If you
think that one bunch (the workers) with a red flag is going to fight another
with a Blue flag in massive street demos then you are going to be waiting a
long time. That's ultraleftist fantasy.
You question the existence of the movement - you don't see it in mass
demonstrations against British occupation - well, apart from Ogra Shinn Fein
(the youth movement) getting stuck in up near Brit Installations in South
Armagh - it can be quite hard to get mass attendences at any sort of
demonstration. Lot's of people feel the time for street politics is past -
one of the demobilising effects of the peace process - we also don't like to
mobilise in small numbers - we have to get over 30,000 or we'd look weak,
like the Trade Union protests recently. Besides a conception of a mass
movement in terms of a street presence alone is mistaken - the movement has
to express itself in all aspects of our society pushing towards the same
You now state that Republicanism is dead - yet as a movement we are gaining
strength and will at some stage seize state power. Our interests (the
interests of our class and nation) will objectively clash with those of
global capital (in a polar manner) at some stage in the future - that will
be a first great test and will determine our subsequent trajectory. Your
tactics involve retreating the whole struggle to street-level (which is
where all the other 'pure' sects are at). As for your self-identification
with Connolly, he was a realist, he knew he had to join up with forces
representing Bourgeois Nationalism - but he didn't lose sight of his own
class goals. Your strategy involves a repudiation of those who continue this
strategy and one in which you wish to engage in limiting your support-base
not only to the working-class, not only to Socialists within that class, but
to those willing to adopt a 'Connollyist' approach as defined by yourself.
Oh yes, I can see the Brits jumping into the Irish Sea at the prospect of
you and the eight Social Democracy members pursuing a revolutionary agenda -
those radicals who write the Banner should help out in the struggle though.
Why stop there? Why not add Socialism is dead or Marxism is dead? Meanwhile
the Brits are still on our streets, our people are rising up from their
knees and perhaps even sticking their chests out (under a sell-out
leadership) and McIntyre has found his home-from-home Postmodernist gunk.
In a less sarcastic tone, we differ on the following issues (your analysis):
1. You believe that the leadership has identified our medium-term strategic
objectives as the real project objectives, their stated project objectives
2. The activist-base is a passive group or has, even worse, has been bought
off by material gains associated with the peace process.
3. The Republican movement entered into a pan-Nationalist front in which it
is merely a passenger.
4. The Leadership have sold out and are concerned with reducing criticism
from the left.
5. SF will be further compromised by joining the police boards, 26 County
government and the IRA will be disbanded.
1. The strategic objectives are precisely that and the project objectives
2. The activist-base is now becoming more empowered and that leadership
recognises the importance of this process. The activist-base remains hungry
3. The now largely defunct pan-Nationalist front was a vehicle to pursue the
advancement of our strategic objectives, those others who participated are
now fundamentally weakened.
4. The leadership adopts a very cautious and controlled approach to the
struggle - we don't get pushed backwards. Any difficulties experienced are
those coming from the militants.
5. We won't join the police boards, there is no mass desire to join the 26
Co Government and the movement will see the implementation of the 1919
Democratic Programme (as it set out to do).
I must return to work.
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