[Marxism] SF and 'mass' politics

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 27 10:08:07 MDT 2007

Sorry for having missed your question...
>you state the "mass is still with SF". In a cursory reading of the media (including left and republican media) in Ireland, north and south, it seems that the masses are absolutely nowhere. In the north of Ireland they certainly *vote* of SF, but they don't appear, *at all* WITH SF. I would contrast this with S. Africa where the ANC's support, while increasingly gettng smaller, has a genuine *mass* and activist base numbering in the millions. Politics aside, it really seem from afar that SF is nothing more than a republican-leaning electoral machine. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this.
It would be remiss to suggest that Ireland - either state - is on the cusp of a revolutionary outbreak, of course. However, neither is it true that SF are merely an electoral machine. It could not be otherwise, since to conduct anything nearing a successful military campaign requires substantial communal roots and those do not wither overnight. 
As with everything, there is a both growth and loss within Republican ranks. The recent election results in the Republic demonstrated that the party continues to grow well in border areas and rural Ireland. In urban centres where the contradiction between the political realities of the current strategy and the traditional leftist approach to campaigning is greatest - the party suffered a setback. The electoral result was also reflective of the strength of the party on-the-ground within local communities. Where activists were most effective in acting as local community leaders whether elected or unelected, the party grew, where it was ineffective in this or where activists approached concrete struggle from a purely ideological perspective, the party suffered significantly.
What is clear is that despite the absence of what might be understood by a mass political process by the left, there is a mass political process of change in play. It is undeniable to anyone living in the north. The fact that this has not impacted throughout wider Irish society, particularly that dominated by the comprador elements in the Dublin media, allowed for the ruling class to maintain their domination of political authority in the last election. 
The fact of Paisley and McGuinness sharing power is creating a large scale political stirring at the base of northern Irish society (I speak not of Northern Irish society but northern Irish due to geographical interweaving of the people of the northern half of the island as a whole). Not one focussed on the essence of the mode of production but one which is essential to the rebuilding of an Irish nation. In a sense, this phase of the strategy has opened the floodgates to this process which is so necessary for us to proceed to a fuller decolonisation - in the context of the partial British military withdrawal.
None of this should be interpreted as representing a retreat by Republicans from social activity but rather an understanding of the need to conduct that struggle alongside holding state power contemporaneously. It is unclear yet how the party will deal with the contradictions arising from this situation but that is the struggle.
This has been a challenging process for Republicans, and especially for Socialist Republicans, but we must see it as a type of political transition which is appropriate to the very specific and difficult conditions facing Irish Republicans. Those who are unable to agree to the logic of the Peace strategy have established the eirigi organisation.
Le meas,
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