[Marxism] Conditions for SF helping police "Northern Ireland"

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Dec 5 21:23:48 MST 2006

Donal wrote:
> Phil,
>No doubt you wanted to lure me into a discussion. I can say this much.

Actually, I was responding to a post by James Daly.  I had assumed you
had long since decamped this list.

>The condition that Gerry Adams expressed that MI5 should be excluded
from any contact with northern civic policing is actually a huge demand.
The fact that the Brit securocrats are taking it so seriously to build
the second largest MI5 base outside London in County Down is an example
of the type of negotiations that are going on at the moment. All the
same, the Israelis had to take down some freshly built settlements in
Gaza after negotiations with the Palestinians I remember.

It's not a huge demand.

The plain reality is that SF is going to support the Police Service and
sit on the policing boards.

Gerry and co. will throw up the usual fog of putting forward some
"conditions", the Brits will make some minor concession, Adams will hail
this as a step in the right direction which SF must now "respond
positively to" and that will be that.

Have you not learned anything?

You used to argue that the IRA would never disarm and that the wee
"conditions" the leadership connected to disarmament/surrender were
significant too. 

>Your assumption that Sinn Fein will enter policing structures was
pronounced back in 2002 I believe when I first discussed this with
yourself. You have not learnt yet. Republicans will only enter into
policing institutions when they are certain that Brit state agencies
cannot recreate a force within a force. As yet, I don't see that as
coming about. It could happen but I don't see it right now despite
everyone's hopes. The securocrats seem to have the upper hand within the
British government.

This is the same nonsense you peddled back then.

I was right about IRA disarmament and I'm right now about policing.  The
problem for you is that SF-IRA are far too far into the process now to
get out.  

By the way, the function of the police in a capitalist society is to
ensure capitalist social order.  Whether or not they "recreate a force
within a force".  Also, all police services these days do a degree of
spying and other activities necessary to maintain specific structures of
oppression, so it is entirely illusory to imagine that the cops in
Northern Ireland would ever be some kind of beneficial/helping hand

I see you're still swallowing the nonsense about "securocrats" having
the upper hand in the British government as id there is some war going
on within the British elite.  The dominant ruling class elements in
Britain have no problem incorporating SF-IRA; they've been incorporating
former national liberation movements and rendering them harmless
bourgeois politicians for over a century. 

>And sure, wasn't that what the whole struggle since 1921 has been
about? A mission statement declaring a non-sectarian northern Irish
statelet and non-sectarian partition? 

This is a revision of most of the past 80 years.  The republican (and
socialist) analysis has been that a non-sectarian northern statelet is
actually impossible.  And how on earth can you have "non-sectarian

The struggle since 1921 has been for *Irish national liberation and
socialism* not some search for a mythic "non-sectarian" version of

>It has been a core belief of militant Republicanism since the 1920s
that the six county statelet is built on inequality, maintained through
inequality and its existence is intertwined with the maintenance of
inequality. A recent report by CAJ (Committees for the Administration of
Justice) pointed clearly to the fundamental inequality which *continues*
to discriminate against Nationalists and Catholics. There has been a
roll-back of the unparalleled Equality provisions within the Good Friday
Agreement since the collapse of institutions. The six county statelet
has no rationale outside inequality and the object lesson of the last
few years is that Unionism as an ideology cannot accommodate the threat
of equality or power-sharing. Paisley signing up to power sharing only
to decide against and then for again is symptomatic of the fear that
underscores political unionism. Already his party is in divisions over
all this. Clearly, equality with Republicans at the heart of government
is the weakest link and the means to achieve reunification.

This is a very one-sided presentation of republican "core belief".  It's
actually quite a partitionist presentation of republicanism.  For the
first couple of decades after 1921 republicans mainly fought the
southern Irish state.  

The view that the northern state is built upon and rooted in inequality
is *part of* an all-Ireland view that imperialist domination is the
problem and that imperialist domination is exercised over *both states*
and needs to be confronted on an all-Ireland basis.

The other piece of historical revisionism in your paragraph above is the
way that you present Unionism as the main problem.  In fact, republicans
have always (well, up to Adams and co's revisionism of the last
ten-fifteen years) regarded Unionism as an off-shoot of imperialist
domination.  *Imperialism* not Unionism was always viewed as the key

Today, by contrast, the Adams leadership sees imperialism, most
particularly of the British and American varieties, as being neutral in
Ireland and, indeed, having a positive role to play in "shifting" a
supposedly independent reactionary force, Unionism, towards
accommodation with republicanism.  

In fact the reason the Brits are moving Unionism towards an
accommodation with your party is because the republican leadership has
abandoned republicanism and become constitutional nationalists.  It is
now necessary to complete the process of incorporating your movement and
that requires reorienting Unionism.  The fact that the Brits can do this
shows that it is they, not Paisley, who call the shots.  

I wrote earlier:
>>We now face the spectacle of a devolved "Northern Ireland" government
in which veteran arch-bigot Ian Paisley is, effectively, prime minister
and long-time IRA leader Martin McGuiness (chief of staff, 1978-82, and
a member of the Army Council ever since) is deputy prime minister. And a
few other SF ministers to help oversee screwing over the working class. 

Donal replies:
>First, the position of First Minister/Deputy First Minister remains
highly restricted in powers confined to only 'transfered powers' at
present. The role of the two positions is interlocked and all powers are
equally shared and implemented despite the titles. The potential of
Paisley sitting down with McGuinness in March has to be understood in
the context that Paisley will still not speak to any member of Sinn
Fein/IRA as he calls them.

>The issue of state power is of priority. Whether it is used to empower
the people or to disempower them is open to question. That is the

Rosa Luxemburg destroyed this reformist nonsense back in 1899 or 1900
when she demolished Eduard Bernstein.  The capitalist state is not some
neutral force in which a struggle takes place over whether it will be
oriented towards "empowering" or "disempowering" the mass of society.
It is an institution which actually represents - and is dependent on -
the masses having already been disempowered. 

>The primary question is the political reconquest of Ireland by the
Irish people, both nationalist and unionist, from the British state.
Devolution of power on the basis of power-sharing in the north is a step
forwards on that route particularly where radical Republicanism is at
the heart of government in the North. Furthermore, the creation of
accountable and community-based policing structures which have a clean
separation from British security agencies will represent a massive step

Another revision of republicanism.  Republican goals have never included
the "political reconquest of Ireland" by the Unionists.  Rather they
were about the economic and political liberation of the Irish masses and
the abolition of the distinctions imposed by British rule.  You write
above as if Unionism is just another legitimate part of the Irish
nation, rather than a creation of imperialism precisely to prevent Irish
nationhood and national liberation.

I wrote earlier:
>>Meanwhile, a general election is about six months away in the other
corrupt little statelet on the island. And, after it, what's the bet
that Sinn Fein will be the junior partner in a coalition government
there too, bedded in with Fianna Fail? 

Donal responded:
>Fianna Fail have made it clear that they will not sit in government
with SF not because of an aversion to the party's history but because of
its socialist politics which they consider an anathema.

I recall Fianna Fail saying they would not sit in government with the
Progressive Democrats.  They soon did once that was necessary in order
to keep FF hands on the levers of governmental power.

SF's "socialist politics" are no more socialist than Fianna Fail.
Indeed, Fianna Fail was denounced as "communistic" by the Catholic
Church and business interests in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  It's
seven core principles are probably still to the left of where SF is *in
practice* now.

Of course, for SF and FF "principles" are merely whatever is necessary
to gain support and shore up the ranks at any point in time.

A couple of years ago I told you that the IRA would fully disarm.  They

I also told you that the IRA would be disbanded.  And they will be.

I also told you that SF would sit in government in the south with Fianna
Fail.  That too is merely a matter of time.  If the numbers are "right"
it may well happen after the next southern election.  If it doesn't it
will happen a little further down the track.  Adams is nothing if not

The best thing that could happen actually is that SF, the SDLP and
Fianna Fail merge into a single party.  All the modern-day Redmondites

>So how is progress with your Rrrevolutionary party in New Zealand,

Slow and hard-going, thanks Donal - just as it was for republicans for
*most of republican history*.  

Btw, I'm just starting Robert White's biography of Ruairi O Bradaigh.  I
always had a soft spot for Ruairi and I must say it's nice to read an
honest book about an honest republican after all the disingenuousness
and spin-doctoring in books by the likes of Adams, Danny Morrison and
co.  Funny how this so-called "conservative" has turned out, over the
long haul, to be a damn sight more radical than Adams.  (And no, I'm not
an RSF supporter, but I do have more respect for them than for the new
Redmondite SF.)


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