[Marxism] New Sinn Fein, democratic and socialist revolutions

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Feb 11 17:20:14 MST 2007

Walter wrote:
>In effect, the critics of SINN FEIN counterpose the democratic to the
socialist revolutions

I can't think of anyone on the list who has done this.

This is like your claim that people opposed to the New Sinn Fein course
want a return to armed struggle, when no-one on this list has argued
that.  In fact, we have pointed out that there is no basis for armed
struggle in the six counties at present.

And no-one here has counterposed the democratic and socialist
revolutions, although it has certainly been pointed out that Ireland is
one of the most developed of the neo-colonies and hardly Burkina Faso.
In Ireland, the working class are the most numerous class and there is
no landless peasantry, for instance.

So in Ireland it makes more sense to see a single revolutionary process
which consists of both democratic and socialist tasks, whose end goal is
the workers republic and where the democratic and socialist tasks are
particularly closely intertwined because of the general level of
socio-economic development.

There are some specifically bourgeois-democratic tasks (in the formal
sense) such as national independence.  But given the level of class
development and differentiation in Ireland it is difficult to see how
this formally democratic task can be separated in practice from the
struggle for working class power.  For instance, no section of the Irish
bourgeoisie is interested in a united Ireland, so it is only the working
masses (workers and small farmers) who would fight for this and they
would be pressing their specific class demands at the same time.

So it isn't a matter of counterposing the socialist revolution to the
democratic revolution - which is what the 'left' supporters of New Sinn
Fein try to do - but of looking at the specific interconnections in the
context of Irish social, economic and political development.

Moreover, the key arena for the struggle for national independence to
succeed is actually the south, not the north.  How and why workers in
the south would fight for a united Ireland as a purely democratic demand
people like Walter and Luko would be hard-pressed to explain.  So far,
southern workers have shown little inclination to fight for a united
Ireland regardless of the class relations of such a united Ireland.  

In fact, the most advanced thinking about the interconnections of these
struggles that came out of republicanism was in the 1930s, when a
section of the IRA leadership split and set up Republican Congress with
the Connollys (Nora and Roddy).  They saw much more clearly than our
two-stage revolution friends, Luko and Walter, how in the *concrete
context of Irish social, economic and political development* the
struggle for socialism proceeded down the path of national liberation
but involved a seizure of power by the masses, led by the workers, not
some milk-and-water pseudo-democratic revolution which consisted merely
of a few reforms to the worst aspects of the northern state.

In any case, when the cops in Ireland are next used against striking or
locked-out workers or used against dissident republican groups which
have continued armed actions, New Sinn Fein members on the police boards
will be justifying the state's repressive actions.  It will be just
another "tactic" and there will be a whole palaver about how this
somehow helps "the struggle" and is some clever "empowering" move.



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