[Marxism] Luko, New Sinn Fein and the imperialists

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Feb 11 02:14:53 MST 2007

I just want to make a few general comments about the discussion of Ireland
and the IRA.


Why is there no alternative to the mass alternative to the course of  Sinn
Fein today?  I think it is the decline of class and mass social struggles in


Is the current integration of the police forces a product of  mass struggle?
Only in the sense that decades of struggle have shown that Britain cannot
hold the country on the basis of reliance on protestant forces alone.  A
good thing, of course, just like the fact that the US rulers proved unable
to operate on the basis of essentially all-white police forces in the face
of the rise and victories of the civil rights movement.


Is British imperialism growing stronger right now?  Is it gaining tighter
control of Northern Ireland.  I doubt it.  They seem to be adapting their
course to their general weakness.  Blair says Scottish independence is
"crazy."  He does not and cannot make the same dismissive remark about a
united Ireland.


Was the change in the police force won by a mass struggle to transform the
cops into an instrument of  the nationalist community for struggling against
British rule?   No.  It seems to me that this is a product of  collaboration
between a national movement on a bourgeois nationalist course and the
imperialist rulers.


In the real world, the struggle for national independence and the struggle
against  imperialist domination and for socialism have just about never been
won together. In that sense, the tendency to make national unity in Ireland
conditional on the creation of a pan-Ireland workers republic probably
always had a tendency toward ultraleftism.  I admit that I always thought
this was the case.


Does Ireland today bear much resemblance to the anti-apartheid struggle
today?  No.  The apartheid system was rendered impossible by decades of
violent mass struggle led by the ANC.  The inevitable class differentiation
with the fall of apartheid and the decline of nationalist and workers
struggle from the nineties to date has resulted in the Black bourgeoisie
becoming the dominant stratum.  But the fall of apartheid does not become a
defeat because it did not lead immediately to socialism or to a mass
struggle for socialism.  And it seems to me that the bars to social
differentiation among the oppressed nation, which were part of the apartheid
system, were an obstacle, not an aid, to the struggle for socialism and
eliminating those barriers was a progressive and revolutionary advance for
the working people of South Africa.


The fact that there have been no or few general gains in living conditions
for the Black masses is not a result of the defeat of the anti-apartheid
struggle,  due to failure to go over to socialism.  The anti-apartheid
struggle was victorious, and a great victory.  The conditions facing the
masses since then are related to the worldwide decline of the class struggle
for a whole period linked to the fall of the Soviet bloc and the decline in
mass social struggle under the impact of the imperialist led (in alliance
and in domination over local bourgeoisies) "neoliberal" offensive against
oppressed nations and working people worldwide.




 Right now, the mass struggle against British rule in Northern Ireland is
very weak.  't think that Britain will give up Northern Ireland without
another wave of mass nationalist struggle.  But nonetheless they do have
made headway in the face of the decline in the class struggle and the
dead-end of the "secret army," "physical-force" tradition, in preparing a
bourgeois nationalist alternative road should that become necessary and,
knowing their own weakness, they think this is likely..  And, of course, the

of  the top leadership of Sinn Fein may also be making Irish unification
less frightening than it has been.  In fact, the social trend may be not
toward tighter control by British imperialism and deeper integration with
British imperialist capital but to a stronger role for the Irish Republic
and the creation of a pan-Irish national bourgeoisie.  That is, toward
weakening direct rule over Ireland by British imperialism.


I think that withdrawal of British troops from Ireland and  the forging of a
united Ireland will be progressive even if it takes place in a
pro-capitalist way, and I also think that the fall of apartheid was
progressive even though it did not lead immediately to socialist revolution
(although it represents still an advance for that fight) and just as the
fight against Jim Crow was progressive, regardless of whether the fall of
the system in the south (and the many ways in which it shaped the north) was
progressive, even though it did not lead immediately or in the short term to
a broad anticapitalist struggle. I think that the destruction of what Lenin
called "Octobrist capitalism" has been positive for the struggle for
socialism, as Lenin predicted, even though bourgeois forces have been the
MAIN Immediate ECONOMIC beneficiaries so far.


I  think Luko is abstracting too much from the actual Irish situation in
making his judgements. And I think almost everybody else has demonstrated
the way that "permanent revolution" == at least in the incredibly sectarian
version that has become an article of faith across the Trotskyist movement
today and also among proclaimed ex-Trotskyists such as the SWP, has been
such a crippling obstacle of  THOUGHT (highlighting the importance of
thinking in the class struggle) to their effective participation in the
class struggle.


This is why, when I think of Trotsky's Results and Prospects as a
counter-political line to Lenin's Two Tactics re the tasks of socialists in
the 1905 period and after( and both of them saw  it that way), I have no
problem saying that my vote goes to Two Tactics despite the important
correct observations made about class and social dynamics, which proved to
be significant for a later stage of the revolution, as developed concretely
by Lenin who was not DIRECTLY influenced by Trotsky on this issue.


Judging democratic struggles by whether they lead directly to socialist
revolution is just poison, period.

Fred Feldman

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