[Marxism] SF's Social Democracy...

Lance Murdoch lancemurdoch at gmail.com
Sun Mar 12 18:12:11 MST 2006

On 3/12/06, Jscotlive at aol.com <Jscotlive at aol.com> wrote:
> Reply:
> Nothing I said in my remarks is conjecture or unsubstantiated by events. Yes,
> it is a rant, but one motivated by continued attempts by supporters of Sinn
> Fein on this list to offer an objective analysis of the present situation based
> on fact and not manipulation of those facts.

If one is to do "an objective analysis of the present situation based
on fact and not manipulation of those facts", then some questions come
into play.  The factors are old ones - what is the level of popular
support?  What is the role of armed struggle, how does it play out
strategically?  Then there are the goals - a 32 county republic, which
in my and others view is an inherently progressive step, Lenin had
some thoughts on this (
http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/race/lenin_ireland.htm ).  And
furthermore there is the question of socialism (or social democracy)
for Ireland.

I think an important thing to do is to look at the material
conditions.  Sinn Fein will not move left because people wish it to
move left.  Sinn Fein took its position because of the material
conditions in Ireland.  Calling its leadership "Brit agents,
opportunists and/or renegades" does not address the fundamental
question already presented - what is the level of support for a 32
county republic in Ireland?  Who cares what Sinn Fein leadership is
like?  What matters is that people are following them.  Parties have
existed, or have broken off, who support what you say.  If the
material conditions exist where those with the "left" position you
espouse can get what they want, why have Sinn Fein's working class
followers decided to stick with Sinn Fein?  Because of a fondness for
Gerry Adams?

When my grandmother was a Sinn Feiner, it was quite, quite different
then it is now.  Where she lived is now called the Gaeltacht, but the
kids really speak English as their first language, tourism has
replaced farming, and most of what they learn about the IRA is from
their TVs tuned to the BBC, or the RTE which is almost as bad.  Anyone
under the age of 80 has lived their entire lives in a divided Ireland.
 How many people in the 26 counties have memories of Orange pogroms,
or Black and Tans kicking down their doors?

It seems to me a necessity to have mass support from 32 county Ireland
to ever establish a 32 county republic.  The hardline socialist,
pro-armed struggle people do not have much mass support.  It seems to
me what is necessary is building support via politics in the 32
counties for a 32 county republic.  Although discussion of it always
seems to be sotto voce, I assume the Sinn Fein leadership plan is for
the nationalists to outbreed the unionists in the six counties, and
what they're doing now is just to make the demographically-arranged
handover in a decade or two less bloody.  Even if that is not the
case, building political support for republicanism in the 26 counties
seems a necessity.  The recent riots in Dublin seem a good sign to me,
and didn't seem to have any tactical cause or effect in relation to
Sinn Fein.

Getting back to the demographic point, there used to be a very good
site on demographics on Northern Ireland (
http://www.geocities.com/pdni ) but they seem to have shut down.  This
is OK -  ( http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/ni/popul.htm ).  In 1961, 34.9%
stated themselves as Catholic on a census.  In 1991 that was 38.4%. 
In 2001 that was 40.26%.  Projections show that Catholic (mostly
nationalist) are outbreeding mostly Protestants (mostly unionist), and
thus this number in some years will become 50.01%, and I think it will
be quite difficult to prevent a 32 county republic at that point.

This talk of creating socialism is done in the context of an imperial
army and colonists occupying part of the country.  The primary task is
to first get rid of those imperialists.  This seems quite obvious to
me, as it was to James "Hold on to your rifles" Connolly.

-- Lance

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