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Problems Problems
From: Irish Political Review: Editorials
Date: September, 2011
By: Editorial

Left No Alternative

Can self-denial be the basis of success in democratic politics?

If it can, then Fianna Fail is assured of a bright future.

It denied its history under Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.  And it is now actively destroying its party structure—which carried a sense of historical orientation with it, despite all that its leaders could do to it.  Micheál Martin is modernising the party by abolishing its internal life and subordinating it to his extended-family caucus in Cork city.

The Irish Times naturally encourages it on this line, and it seems that the party cannot now do without the approval of the Irish Times.  (In the days of its greatest successes it only consulted the Irish Times to see that the paper condemned it and thus assure itself that it was on the right path.)

Now that Fianna Fail has almost been got rid of, nativist IT columnist Deaglawn De Braydoon, looks at it and sees that its future consists of Leaving Civil War Politics For A Clearer Left-Right Divide (Aug 9).

What is the "left-right divide" today? It is what Britain has in the superficial froth of the formal ideology of its party politics.  It is a derivative of a derivative of a derivative of the class politics of Marx's International of a century and a half ago.

"Workers of the world unite!  You have nothing to lose but your chains!"  That was a slogan with definite meaning.  James Connolly took it in earnest and tried to act on it in August 1914.  But the British working class—hailed by Bernstein, the revisionist, as the most dependable working-class force in the world—supported the British declaration of war on Germany.  Britain had nothing at stake in the conflict that broke out between France/Russia and Germany/Austria, but joined the war as an ally of France/Russia.

It had nothing at stake—except the possibility of losing its position of world dominance if it did not play an active part in the European War.  If the Europeans were left to fight it out amongst themselves, and there was a clear and decisive winner, the position of the winner in world affairs would be greatly strengthened with relation to Britain.  Therefore Britain entered the war—and indeed had played a considerable part in the diplomacy that brought it about—and the British working class took part with a will in this war to consolidate and extend British world dominance.

Working class internationalism did not collapse in 1914.  It proved to be a non-starter  What the great bulk of the British working class understood by Internationalism was the Empire on which the sun never set.

Connolly then declared his support for Germany, on the ground that German capitalism included much better provision for civilised working class life than the British, and that a German victory in the war of aggression waged on it by Britain would be far more favourable to the Irish national interest than British success in its war of destruction of Germany.

In that moment of truth it did not prove to be the case that the working class—wage labour in the capitalist economic system—had a common, globalist, interest operating beyond the sphere of the nation states, on which the world could be re-structured.

Revisionist ideologues, who make a living in the service of social-imperialism, have been telling us for the past twenty years that Connolly, in 1914, abandoned a lifetime of internationalism for Irish nationalism.  What actually happened was that the kind of Internationalism that Connolly had taken in earnest, and that he tried to act on in August 1914, proved to be no more than rhetoric.  He got ready to take part in the international class war that would abort the war of the capitalist nation-states, but he found the great blocs of socialist workers in the European States taking part in the capitalist war with a will, with the British working class to the fore.  (It was the British working class that acted most imperialistically because it was only Britain, which was not bound up in the system of Treaties that led to war in Europe, that entered the war freely, from a position of safety.)

Connolly read the meaning of events quickly, refused to be a socialist dupe of Imperialist slogans, and made war on 'his own' Empire in the Irish national interest.

But "Left" and "Right" are not quite the same thing as Working Class and Capitalist.  Far from it.  They derive from the terminology of the French Revolution.  They have no necessary class connotation, but on the whole the Left has tended to espouse an ideal which works out as the most thorough form of Capitalism.  And thorough Capitalism is not Socialism.  It is, in principle, not even social.  But national arrangements must be social in some degree in order to make the nation functional.

The moneyed interest that has sustained the Irish Times would be well-served by a Fianna Fail that re-made itself into a vacuous Left party.  Fianna Fail was established to serve the national interest against the Treaty after the Treatyites, having won the Treaty War, completely forgot all that Collins had said in justification of the Treaty.  It made de facto arrangements in the national interest which gave workers a sense of participation in the state.  The present Government is intent on breaking up those arrangements.

De Bréadún notices that "Labour has become the second largest party in Leinster House", and sees this as paving the way for a "left/right divide".  But he does not notice where Labour has placed itself.  If the Election produced the possibility of a Left/Right divide in national politics, that possibility was instantly scotched when Labour refused to become the Opposition to what is generally understood to be the Right in Irish politics and went into coalition with it instead, leaving the system without an effective Opposition.  And this was no great surprise as Labour, under Stickie leadership, was busily streamlining itself into a business party when Finance-Capitalism went haywire.

What the situation requires is not that Fianna Fail should dissolve itself into another faction spouting meaningless 'Left' verbiage, but that it should remember the purpose for which it was formed.

C O N T E N T S

Left No Alternative.  Editorial
The EU:  A New Beginning?  Jack Lane
NATO Overthrows Gaddafi:  The Figleaf Revolution.  David Morrison
Readers' Letters:  Fr. Shinnick And The Dripsey Ambush.  Jack Lane
Myths About Libya.  David Morrison
Editorial Digest.  (SDLP Civil War;  British & Paramilitaries;  PSNI Stunt;  Internment Case;  Schools;  Orde;  Fags;  1916-2016;  C of I & Language;  Derry Riots;  Attwood;  Hares;  Parades; Derry Railway;  Prison Officers;  Kenny & The Pope)
The 'Treaty' & The Party Structure.  Jack Lane (Talk)
Shorts from the Long Fellow (1985 vs 2011;  FT on Ireland;  Morgan Kelly;  Gay Byrne;  London Burns)
Issues Of The Middle Past.  Jeff Dudgeon Letter to Editor
Liberal Unionism At The End Of Its Tether.  (Brendan Clifford, Reply)
Scandalknavia.  Wilson John Haire (poem)
Irish Bulletin, 2.  Some Items From August 1919
Es Ahora.  Julianne Herlihy  (Puritanism & The Modern State;  The Bail-out)
Some Comments On Desmond Fennell's Articles.  John Martin
Seeing Clearly.  Desmond Fennell replies to Jack Lane
Naval Warfare.  Pat Walsh  (Part 13)
Kilkenny In Defence Of Two Republics.  Manus O'Riordan  (Talk)
Biteback:  The RIC.  Donal Kennedy.  David Norris.  Conchúir Ó Loingsigh
Does It Stack Up?  Michael Stack (The Catholic Church;  Recent Reading)
Social Engineering With Munitions.  Wilson John Haire

Labour Comment, edited by Pat Maloney:
Saving The Social Republic
Legislation to Underpin The Labour Court System
Philip O'Connor