UK state: Northern Ireland

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at
Wed May 14 01:43:36 MDT 2003

Danielle writes:

I would actually ascribe the role of "the new John Hume" to Gerry Adams,
i.e. the man Britain (and the multinationals) can do business with.  Adams
is far more important to those interests than Trimble could ever be.  Only
Adams can deliver the surrender of the Provisional IRA and channel
Republicanism into safe, bourgeois channels.


I take your point, but the point I am trying to make is that, just as John
Hume was useful to a British state geared towards unionism, so too is
Trimble useful for a British state looking for a clean exit strategy. Durkan
is useful only as a reminder to SF to play ball, and the longer that goes
on, the less utility there is to be derived from the SDLP, for either its
former constituency or the British state itself. Thus it will wither and die
(and in so doing pull SF further to the right).

That Adams and co. have supplanted the SDLP in some respects as the
"respectable face" of the reunification movement is true. But Trimble is the
new John Hume inasmuch as he is vital to the legitimation of the British
state strategy as that unfolds. In a way his receipt of the Nobel peace
prize with Hume was the point when he inherited Hume's mantle. Trimble's
position is so precarious that he cannot make the sort of concessions that
he demands hysterically of the IRA, but the compensation for the latter is
that the state itself continually "wounds" itself, as in the ongoing
revelations regarding the dirty war, etc. [How long before we get some dirt
on those who framed Stalker?] And the beauty of that for the British is that
it helps to bury the spectre of the empire loyalist faction that was once
dominant, whilst undercutting the political rationale of unionism, clear for
all to see -- a classic case of "modernisation" a la Tony. As the state more
and more cries "mea culpa" the IRA will be able to decommission more weapons
up to the point where it puts them all beyond use, on the basis that the
British state no longer represents a threat to its constituency. Trimble
will be able to claim the decommissiong/surrender as a great victory for his
own fevered rhetoric, while SF will understand just how much it owes to the
connivance of the British state, its silent partner.

Trimble is likely to evolve into a Hume-type rearguard legitimator,
extracting "concessions" from the emergent regime in order to "protect" the
interests of the unionist "community", and in such a way as to distance
himself from the irresponsible DUP and the violent paramilitaries. This is
his only conceivable future as a political leader. Meanwhile SF "comes in
from the cold" to take over as the ascendant party which will ultimately
oversee a transition towards a bourgeois-anointed reunification with the
Republic, and all will live happily ever after.

That, I believe, is the calculation being made by the hegemonic fraction
within the state.

Michael Keaney

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