[Marxism] Reply to Socialist Democracy Article on Ireland

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 7 10:35:07 MST 2006


John, a chara,

I think your email deserves a response as it is thought through at least - 
unlike what was contributed by Danielle - who seemed to be able only to 
speak on behalf of the British government and without any pretence to 
balance or fairness. Bitterness such as that will never achieve change, I'm 
afraid.

>In the event Stone could only manage a billing as sideshow Bob, upstaged by 
>the deeper and more meaningful farce surrounding the collapse of the St. 
>Andrews Agreement, the replacement for the failed Good Friday agreement. St 
>Andrews, miscalled an agreement but in reality imposed by the British, 
>edged towards the DUP demand for majority rule and an oath of loyalty to 
>the British state from Sinn Fein, while at the same time imposing a strict 
>timetable to deliver the bigot Paisley as First Minister of the Irish 
>colony.  The British had announced that the process would fall if Paisley 
>failed to attend a meeting on November 10th.  He refused to attend and the 
>British cancelled the meeting, announcing sternly that the 24th was the 
>last chance for Paisley to be nominated as First minister before they 
>pulled the plug.

My reading is that the whole process will drag on and on. I don't even think 
that there will be an election in March (as promised). I just can't see it 
at the moment. Everything is in flux - freefall if you want - but that is 
reflective of a period of change. This process of negotiations will be on 
and off until the day we get a united Ireland in my view. It could drag on 
for years. That is due to the fact that equality is antagonistic to the Six 
County statelet. It can't live with it and with every day, the situation in 
the north gets worst.

Just consider the economics of the north from a marxist perspective. It is 
almost totally unproductive. The British spend in the north totals about 
£15bn and they raise approximately £7bn in tax receipts that's a subvention 
of £8bn. Now in value terms that means that they are contributing roughly 
capital worth just above what they're taking out of the economy in taxes. 
What does that mean? I think that it shows that the economy is largely 
unproductive in value terms and that which is does produce is largely 
leached out of the economy through consumption of items outside the economy. 
Talk about a basket case economy. In what other economy could you have 
pump-priming of more than 100% of the tax base? And the economy experiences 
annual growth rates of around 3% per annum and has done since I was born.

>On the day Gerry Adams nominated Sinn Fein party colleague Martin 
>McGuinness as deputy leader of the colonial assembly.  Paisley spoke, 
>refusing to nominate but saying he would think again after Sinn Fein was 
>proved to be fully behind the state.  The British sponsored speaker 
>indicated that she would take that as a ‘yes’ and tried to close the 
>session, only to be howled down by SDLP and unionist MLAs.  It was no 
>accident that Alliance party leader David Ford was saying that it was “time 
>to end this pretence” as Stone entered Stormont.

This was, undoubtedly, a farce. I suspect the only one who really lost as a 
result was Paisley himself who was seen to be weak by his own supporters. 
Within hours he issued a statement to 'clarify' the situation.

>But we should not leap over slideshow Bob. He has a great deal to tell us. 
>He tells us much about the representatives of Dublin capitalism.  The Irish 
>intelligentsia celebrated Stone, morphing him from crazed killer to ethnic 
>artist when he transmitted his sectarian gable-wall daubs to canvas.  They 
>looked slightly shell-shocked when the killer of the real world burst onto 
>the Stormont stage.

I totally agree. This guy has been feted on all the late night talk shows 
only to return to his ways of attempted grenade attacks on Sinn Fein 
leaders.

>And well they might.  No less than the President of Ireland is implicated 
>in the refashioning of the sectarian killers, presenting UDA brigadier 
>Jackie McDonald as a reformed social worker and funnelling large amounts of 
>money to the South Belfast UDA.  Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has met the UDA 
>leadership on several occasions, not turning a hair when they threatened 
>dire consequences if Dublin were to ‘interfere’ further in the North.  The 
>UDA’s response to the Stone attack was to claim simultaneously that they 
>had known nothing and at the same time that they had had ‘hit squads’ out 
>to stop Stone who was an insane loner, acting alone.

The situation with the UDA is complicated. They are hugely faction ridden 
and are obviously playing the system for immediate financial returns - but 
does that mean that they entering the funnel effect - which Bernadette 
McAliskey discussed?

>But nothing fazes the Dublin gombeen man for long.  Immediately following 
>the attack Charlie Bird of RTE was indicating that it was another reason 
>why Sinn Fein should sign up quickly to support for the police.

This is a very accurate analysis of how the Dublin media portray northern 
politics. It is driven by an anti-Republican agenda.

>Really?  The police were nowhere to be seen.  One Unionist politician did 
>suggest that police chief Orde might resign after the most notorious 
>loyalist killer of the troubles, instantly recognisable to every adult in 
>the colony, appeared, heavily armed, at the entrance to the chamber of 
>parliament. The suggestion was immediately forgotten.  In fact the PSNI 
>blindness on this occasion links perfectly to many other acts of blindness 
>by police and courts during recent loyalist feuds and maps perfectly to the 
>RUC’s blindness to, and collusion with, loyalist killers throughout the 
>years of rebellion. This fits well with the blindness of the sectarian 
>state.  The Stone attack was a one-day wonder, with no curiosity about who 
>he might have been working with or about the failures of state security. 
>Experience tells us that a republican attack would have led to a deep and 
>long-lasting political crisis.

My understanding is that SF itself has demanded that the PSNI (the cops) are 
not present inside the chamber or anywhere on the grounds due to the fear 
that they represent a significant security threat to SF members. All the 
same, there are rigorous screening procedures to ensure no metallic weaponry 
is smuggled in. I wonder if British intelligence run this stunt or was it 
done by Stone himself?

>Finally the Stone sideshow is the perfect counterpoint to the main show 
>inside Stormont.  As he indicates outside that the Loyalist killers remain 
>the Loyalist killers, inside Paisley and co. are proving that the DUP 
>remain the DUP.  More importantly Peter Hain is demonstrating that the 
>British remain the British.

The British are running in circles and the GFA and SAA are in trouble. I 
agree with this. I think it reflects the fundamental inability of the Six 
County statelet to accommodate anything nearing equality or power-sharing.

>The Stormont meeting has been called so that Paisley could indicate his 
>willingness to be first minister and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein 
>indicate his willingness to be deputy first minister.  McGuinness said yes. 
>  Paisley said no, with a mumbled phrase that might have been ‘maybe 
>someday’.  That should have been the end of the matter and led to the 
>closing of the assembly and the collapsing of the process. In fact 
>secretary of state Peter Hain called immediately for Sinn Fein to meet the 
>DUP demands and announced that the assembly, in theory now defunct, would 
>meet again on Monday. The fact that the assembly has not fallen has only 
>one interpretation.  The process is in free fall. A settlement will be 
>anything that the DUP can be brought to accept and the British will support 
>the DUP stance. Now the DUP demand that Sinn Fein swear total and 
>unconditional loyalty to the state and the police institutions as a 
>precondition to further movement has become a demand of London and Dublin.

This is all true.

>Republican justification for the Good Friday agreement was that it 
>represented a compromise by both themselves and unionism and that both 
>would be held to the agreement by the British, who would punish defaulters.

This is incorrect. Republicans never said that parties would be held to 
account by the British. Indeed, the GFA itself represents an international 
agreement to which both the British and Dublin governments have signed up. 
In theory they are co-sponsors. The reality is that Dublin is completely 
incapable of driving anything and just goes along with the British. The real 
struggle is between Republicans and the British in holding things back to 
the original terms of the agreement.

>Instead the unionists have bashed and battered the deal, with the support 
>of the British, until it collapsed and was replaced by the even more 
>reactionary St. Andrews process, itself collapsed after a few weeks.  Now 
>the DUP are to write the terms of a settlement.

The DUP can't write the terms of the 'settlement' - this latter term is 
highly idealised - the whole negotiations are a process from start to 
finish. The St Andrew's Agreement differed only slightly from that almost 
agreed in December of 2004 and both with only slight changes from the 1998 
Act which implemented the GFA itself.

>To make things more difficult the DUP are divided.  Leading figures issued 
>a statement immediately after the Stormont fracas essentially denouncing 
>Paisley for not ruling out absolutely any place for Sinn Fein in government 
>and an emergency meeting to discuss divisions in the party was held on 
>December 1st. The programme of the party is clear-cut.  It wants a return 
>to majority rule, the power to discriminate against Catholics and the power 
>to militarily repress any dissent.

The DUP want a return to majority rule but that is largely prevented through 
the mutual vetos inherent within the framework. The Equality legislation 
provides a basis for any potential discrimination to be challenged and the 
notion that unionists could have access to military repression is pretty 
unreal in my mind (unless it is in the form of sporadic loyalist violence - 
which is counterproductive to them). They may want these things but they are 
no longer available. Paisley's refusal to share power and his subsequent 
agreement to share power within hours reflects the pressure he is under from 
the two Governments. The DUP do not want any role for Dublin through joint 
administration in the north. For Republicans, this is a poor second to 
direct administration by SF Ministers who would have authority to push 
reintegration within their areas under their own steam.

>Paisley now thinks the gains for unionism are so overwhelming that he 
>should support the process for the time being, while continuing to seek 
>ways to expel Sinn Fein, but to prevent revolt he needs to constantly 
>humiliate the Shinners and prove that loyalism is the winner in the 
>conflict.

Paisley clearly doesn't support the process out of a positive opinion of it. 
Even the DUP discussions which you can read on-line are fairly clear in 
their view that entry into forced coalition with SF is 'the least worst 
option'. His refusal to share power on the day specified reflected the 
fundamental unease that exists within these absolute bigots who just can't 
face up to sitting down alongside a bunch of 'fenians' as they would see 
them. The only way for international readers to understand the DUP is like a 
bunch of racists in the deep south or in South Africa. That's how they view 
Republicans and Catholics.

>Many members think that any settlement involving sharing power with 
>Catholics would fatally undermine their claim to sectarian supremacy and a 
>sectarian state.

In a sense this is the crux of the matter for unionists. What is the 
rationale for the existence of the Six County statelet if its function is 
not to reinforce their relative privilege. That is why some would prefer 
repartition to sharing power with Republicans.

>For the time being Paisley remains in charge, but the pressure from below 
>means that he and his British sponsors will needs to apply greater and 
>greater pressure on Sinn Fein, not only to support the police, judiciary 
>and state, but to support large chunks of unionist ideology and denounce 
>their own past as a crime.

You can imagine that this will not wash with Republicans. Hence the process 
is in freefall as you say.

>And it is Sinn Fein that are the losers in this dynamic.  Gerry Adams has 
>already announced capitulation by indicating that policing issue can be 
>resolved.

Saying that it can be resolved is nothing new. The issue is how can it be 
resolved. You avoid this.

>In return he is seeking assurances about local control of police – 
>assurances that can’t possibly mean anything because, in addition to the 
>unionist majority and ‘operational’ control which is claimed as 
>non-political and will remain with the British, it will be MI5 that will 
>control the surveillance of republicans.

Local control of police is one issue. The main issue is the role of British 
MI5 in policing. SF are demanding a complete separation between the Policing 
structures and the British 'national' security structures before they can 
enter into it. This is essential to prevent the establishment of a force 
within a force and the ongoing subversion of the police for British state 
interests. Your statement in fact presents the reasons why Republicans 
couldn't consider entering policing without significant changes to what was 
offered by the British in the St Andrew's Agreement.

>An indication of the extent to which the process of pacification is moving 
>towards a united Ireland is given by the construction of a major new MI5 
>headquarters here.

I think that this represents an attempt by British securocrats to force 
their own government's hand. Facts on the ground style of negotiation 
similar to that employed by the Israelis against the Palestinians. All the 
same, every building that goes up can come down again.

>As the process moves on Sinn Fein support will begin to slip.  Already many 
>members have left and their vote is beginning to decay in key areas.  8000 
>voters, 15% of the voting population, have failed to register to vote in 
>the key base area of West Belfast.

There is absolutely nothing new in this. Since the British brought in their 
new requirements for voter registration - which were a weapon against 
Republicans - people have been knocked off the register. West Belfast has 
always had huge registration losses only to see them reversed through 
Republican activity on the doorstep.

>Given the growing evidence that the path taken by the republican leadership 
>is unable to meet their needs, is indeed unable to provide any kind of 
>stability and is in fact fuelling a renewed offensive by the Unionist and 
>their British sponsors, it is inevitable that nationalist workers will 
>begin to think again and search for a democratic solution based on defeat 
>of imperialism, of unionist reaction and of the collaboration of Irish 
>capital.

I'm for all these things. The only realisation we have to retain though is 
that if we want to achieve these things we need organisation, determination 
and a commitment to facing the realities of the context of struggle today.

Le meas,
Domhnall

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