Republican Reading [Basic]

Not an exhaustive list of books by any measure but enough to get anybody started and familiar. You can acquire the vast majority:  https://www.connollybooks.org

 

 

 

Fundamental

Labour, Nationality and Religion by James Connolly

The Re-conquest of Ireland by James Connolly

Labour Nationality and Religion by James Connolly

Socialism Made Easy by James Connolly

Life of Wolfe Tone by Thomas Bartlett

Why

James Connolly lays the foundations of Socialist Republican theory for Ireland with an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist grasp of the material conditions of Ireland in the early 20th century. James Connolly perfectly outlines the role of the Church, the national bourgeois (who only want to become the new ruling class of Ireland rather than participate in the liberation of the Irish people). James Connolly and his analysis forms the crux of virtually every political organisation subscribed to Socialist Republican/Marxist politics in Ireland.

Further

Fianna Fail and Irish Labour by Kieran Allenn

The IRA 1926-1936 by Brian Hanley

The Lost Revolution by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar

Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution by C Desmond Greaves

Tom Barry by Meda Ryan

The Provisional IRA: From insurrection to parliament

Sean Murray: Marxist-Leninist and Irish Socialist Republican

Theobald Wolfe Tone and the Irish Nation

 

This should really give the reader a general overview of Socialist Republican ideas and subsequently inform the reader on the various events post-civil war and developments within the IRA and Republican movement.

Advertisement

Women hold up half the sky.

 

Women hold up half the sky

 

 

Note: This assortment of thoughts on the repression of women in Ireland has been in the back of my mind for weeks. For a long time I have tussled with ideas, concepts and various other questions and never really felt comfortable expressing them. Neither do I feel comfortable doing so now as I am still politically underdeveloped to properly asses the repressive nature of Irish society. As a Communist however I feel duty bound to make a beginning, here it is.

 

The Subjection of Woman by Austin Clarke

“Now praise Kathleen Lynn, who founded

A hospital for sick babies, foundlings,

Saved them with lay hands. How could we

Look down on infants, prattling, cooing,

When wealth had emptied so many cradles?

Better than ours, her simple Credo.

The countess curled

With death at sandbags in the College

Of surgeons. How many did she shoot

When she kicked off her satin shoes?

Women rose out after the Rebellion

When smoke of buildings hid the churchbells,

Helena Maloney, Louie Bennett

Unioned* the women workers bent

Women, who cast off all we want,

Are now despised, their names unwanted,

For patriots in party statement

And act make worse our Ill-fare State.

The soul is profit. Money claims us.

Heroes are valuable clay.”

 

As the government committee continues to posture regarding the 8th Amendment, discourse and debate surrounds the country regarding abortion, abortion rights and equality.  The amount of hysteria, misinformation and propaganda in this debate is overwhelming but great strides are being made by activists to cut effectively through it. It strikes me that a Marxist analysis is absent from this discourse, particularly one which will like a well sharpened spear strike at the belly of the beast. This beast is the toxic omniscient cultural remnant of the Catholic Church.

The 1916 Declaration of Independence drafted by the martyrs had this to say:

“The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irish woman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities of all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority in the past.”

Legislation enacted very quickly after the formation of the Irish Free State in 1924 and 1927 which excluded women from sitting on juries. In 1932, we saw further legislation created to reinforce gender roles wherein women who worked in the public service were forced to retire upon marriage, after all, in the Catholic ethos their place was in the home.  James Connolly wrote of women’s relationship to men as ‘slaves of slaves’ to denote their subservient and secondary role to working class men.

Yet the role of women would be relegated further down the social chain as Fianna Fail the ‘republican’ party came to power in 1933. With explicit support from the beast that is the Church the newly formed state set about lining up the conditions for their hideous new 1937 constitution. Not only was there a marriage ban enacted, further in 1934 a ban on contraceptives came into power and additionally a limit on female employment in industry in 1935.

All this however paled in comparison to the reinforcement of gender roles and the formalization of the subjugation of women in the form of the 1937 constitution.

Article 41 of the new constitution was titled ‘The Family’ and effectively legalized the capitalist family unit and despite the declarations of independence as well as this constitution itself claiming that all citizens were equal before the law, women were thrown into the gutter.  The 8th Dail which rammed all this legislation through had miniscule to non-existent representation from women and even they under the social and political pressures succumbed to the development of theocratic rule.

The Family – excerpts – https://www.constitution.ie/Documents/Bhunreacht_na_hEireann_web.pdf

  1. The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.
  2. The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.
  3. In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
  4. The State therefore shall therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties at home.
  5. The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.

 

These articles form the crux of Catholic ideology on the family and the family unit. Ironically despite the State supposedly guaranteeing civil liberties irrespective of gender, the entire premise of the article revolves around the reinforcement of women as domestic house servants and secondary to men.

This constitution has seen amendments, of that there is no doubt. Yet it is shame before the European community that has seen them pushed through rather than shame felt before the entire female population of the country.

Working together, successive governments and the Catholic Church continued to ensure that women were treated in a way that deserves nothing but condemnation.  The opportunity of life for a woman reflected nothing but servitude and entrapment. Attempts at rebellion were seen and projected as attacks on the Family and on important Catholic values. Women in Ireland, who for instance had children out of wedlock were imprisoned in Magdelane internment camps. The children they bore were sent to orphanages and often perished in these horrific institutions.  The State was always aware.

Despite the self-professed love and compassion for the sanctity of Life and of People, the Catholic Church and the establishment parties have played complicit roles in the continued oppression, alienation and subjugation of women.  Of course the economic consequences of these measures were clear. As second citizens socially, the role of women was not to be considered a serious bread earner for the family and therefore as far as industry was concerned an invalid. This helped to consolidate the regressive view that women belonged in the home and men belonged in the workplace but it also ensured that the contradictions between working class men, who broken from their labour would always, find a victim in the woman broken from her labour in the workplace. Instead of seeing a common struggle for emancipation they would consistently see the holding up unjust and backward gender roles.

In 2017, we, as activists are locked in a similarly bitter struggle. Sexism, discrimination, misogyny and the medieval ban on abortion continue to be issues which the State fails to coherently address.  Women continued to be vilified for their expression of sexual liberation. Women continued to be vilified for their pursuit of ‘traditionally male’ dominated careers.  Women who choose not to abide by the societal norms heaped upon them continue to be looked down upon. Women continue to be seen as aloof or absent minded despite the enormous cultural and social pressures being forced upon them.

All of this and more is what we face when we are attacking the 8th Amendment and seeking free, safe and legal abortion for pregnant people.  It is clear, or it should be clear, that the maintenance of the 8th Amendment comes from the continued view that pregnant people, or predominantly women are too stupid to make decisions for themselves and that through our glorious Catholic inspired State we should safeguard them.

This is out-dated medieval nonsense that our generation will wash out and clear from Ireland. We will, through the Repealing of the 8th Amendment taking another step in undoing the archaic, sinister wrappings Catholic dogma has over Ireland. Is this enough however to truly undo the place of the Church? The continued state funding that is provided, the continued grip the Church has over our education and health structures? These questions need to also be addressed and challenged.

 

Further reading/sources used:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/opinion/the-sisterhood-of-the-easter-rising.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalene_asylum

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/25/100-years-after-easter-rising-irish-women-still-fighting-gender-equality

http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj91/horgan.htm

https://jaredalves.com/2011/06/17/understanding-womens-reactions-to-the-1937-irish-constitution/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Members_of_the_8th_Dáil

The Guerrilla

The Guerrilla

 

IRA

 

The deforestation programs led by the colonial British Empire and subsequently by the environmentally disinterested Free State have laid the landscape bare in Ireland. In the rural hinterlands, the mountains and the small forests don’t provide the coverage they once did. Peasants in the classic small farmer concept in Ireland also no longer exist as land has become concentrated in the hands of primarily big farmers with exceptions existing here and there.

 

The flying columns of old, which were able to operate and sweep throughout the rural lands, would be confronted with a highly rapid, technologically advanced military force that can immediately react. There is no future for such struggle in Ireland, it is impractical and strategically outdated and those with romantic fantasies and notions must put them aside and think of the contemporary conditions when evaluating armed struggle and the Guerrilla.

 

Of the three fundamental principles that Che Guevera provides in his short pamphlet: ‘Guerrilla Warfare’ only one is subject to re-evaluation.  Comrade Guevera wrote this pamphlet in light of his direct experiences among the revolutionary forces in Cuba and how they dealt with day to day mattes, that is to say he wrote this off the basis of his concrete material conditions, many of which do not exist in Ireland today and must be evaluated as such as a result. The three principles go as follows:

 

  • Popular forces can win a war against the army.
  • It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them.
  • In underdeveloped America the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting.

 

 

Latin American countries at this point in time were highly agrarian based societies where peasants on small and large farms alike constituted the majority of the population while large urban centres were far and few.  Highly developed capitalist countries such as Ireland have a completely different demographic and constitution of the working class therefore the third point is not applicable and fresh analysis must be utilized. Never the less the first two points remain relevant and we shall touch upon them further in a moment.

 

Recently a European polling body outlined that from 20,000 participants, 52% stipulated they would join an uprising against the government if one were to occur.  This is not obvious  nor conclusive evidence that there is a popular will for an armed rising against the capitalist state in Ireland today, but it is an indicator of the dissatisfaction young people feel.

 

In Ireland, we can tell that dissatisfaction has not only grown opposition to the main establishment parties, but also shrunk their support base. Former voters of the main parties have in many areas turned to on the street action of stopping water meters (as one example) or joined political entities and organisations they would have never even considered before. Dissent has become popularized but it has in many ways also reached a certain limit.

 

What became popular at first was passive resistance and when the ceiling was reached, activists realized this through an organic development in their struggle.  As a result, they developed their actions because that is what their struggle necessitated.  Again however, we’ve reached a limit. This limit is a ceiling characterized by the culture enshrined in Western liberal thought.

 

The limit or this glass ceiling is one that makes us believe that we live in a civil society governed by an impartial state that for the most part observes after our interests. We’re fast approaching where a significant segment of the population, notably that part which is being mutilated by the capitalist murder machine apparatus is recognizing this. In their recognition their demands are growing more radical and the tone of their voice louder.

 

Resistance has been popularized among certain trade unions, many community groups and a wide range of political parties (though primarily the same political parties who have always held firm anti-capitalist politics in Ireland.)  Yet it is not yet a war of resistance but a series of loosely coordinated defensive moves. The time for a popular war has yet to arrive but it is certainly creating itself among the masses of Ireland. The question is whether it will be organized or simply bursts of incomprehensible violence.

 

As Irish society lumbers from crisis to crisis, uncertainty takes root in the self-organized working class communities, unions and parties. What next and where next?  The confluence of forces which represent passive resistance do not yet possess the consciousness or the potential to develop into an armed resistance against capitalism and neither do the conditions yet exist for an armed popular war against capitalism and it’s lackeys. This leads us to the second principle.

 

 

‘It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them.’

 

When writing this, Che referred to the existing conditions of Latin America. He referred in particular to the way Fidel Castro, Raul and others landed from the Granma and simply commenced. Yet they chose a precarious moment in the rule of Batista to launch their rising, some of these conditions (gross unhappiness, poverty, world revolution elsewhere, inequality, lack of justice) contributed heavily to amplifying the call to revolution made by the July 26th Movement but without them actually having made this call, the conditions which later created a nation wide overthrow of Batista would not have come to exist.

 

This, in practical terms and reality means that when a revolution occurs, it in itself is a moving social force that can develop society into a revolutionary crisis or develop the existing crisis into one that then subsequently or even inevitably becomes revolutionary. Often, most notably in the western world are caught up in reforming the political status. In fielding thousands of candidates and spending disgusting amounts of their party wealth on reformism.

 

Reformism isn’t just a political strategy though, it’s a thought process. Often, leftists wrap themselves in it, refusing to budge. The reality is many western leftist organisations, included in Ireland are unable to act as revolutionaries. Their slogans, social media posts, campaigns fall further and further away from the overthrow of capitalism and land closer and closer to the reform of it. The relevance to guerrilla war here is simple: the Marxist Leninist movement must make the conscious decision to develop the political struggle of the working class, at the right time into a militant one of armed resistance. But when will the time be right? Is it right even now?

 

It’s difficult to gauge such matters but the transition to a militant armed struggle is on the horizon of Irish politics. The poverty and death being inflicted on the working class is beginning to reach it’s zenith and as it does, new options will be discovered.  Yet it’s worth examining how exactly this will look in a country with a very small population of small farmers and a largely urbanized and proletarianized demographic of workers.

 

The city is our jungle

 

The majority of the population now live in large urban centres or the surrounding suburbs. They live, work and die here.  The fundamental class antagonism they experience (perhaps unknowingly) is here. Tenant versus landlord, employee versus employer.  Therefore the place where this antagonism will resolve itself will be in the environment they are in. What does this mean for the Guerilla? Simple, any militant struggle against capitalism will not happen in the rural and exposed lands, it will happen in the major urban centres, in the streets and winding alleys and in the many housing estates.  The role of a strong, organized and disciplined Communist movement becomes ever more important.

 

The working class is not a homogeneous entity but a fluid and very diverse collection of many different people, religions, colours, genders and therefore the galvanizing of the working class for struggle must come at the fundamental root that applies to them all: their socio-economic standing in society: as workers, tenants and fundamentally as the exploited toiling mass. In order to do this, union power must be rebuilt.

 

Without a strong union movement, there will be no struggle for national liberation; there can be no guerrilla if the working class is disunited.  This makes the primary political task of Communists to be in the Trade Union movement and the self-organized community groups. The most powerful tool that the working class in Ireland have right now is not the gun, but their labour. A withdrawal of their labour will mean a stoppage to the enrichment of the ruling class.

 

Interwoven into the idea of militant self-organization, the scope of what a tightly organized and disciplined working class expands dramatically as a result. In Ireland’s context, if the self-organised community groups alongside the trade unions resurrected the tradition of the Irish Citizen Army, the scope of militant action against capitalism would dramatically increase.

 

Private security, acting as the military wing of the capitalist class has in the case of evictions removed families from their homes and occupied territories. They have done this either in the name of private commercial institutions or other big bourgeois. Never the less it poses the question: The capitalist class have their black hundreds and lackeys, surely we should begin to consider defending ourselves as well?

 

In this context a highly developed Western state such as Ireland creates an interesting dilemma: What will a militarized working class actually look like and how will it correspond with the capitalist class? It’s worth evaluating what it did look like in Ireland, notably in the form of the ICA but also what other self-organized militant working class units looked elsewhere. The Black Panther Party for instance originated and stemmed from the need of the Black community to defend itself against constant and on-going police harassment. Yet this harassment was overwhelmingly aimed at working class black people rather than those in affluent neighbourhoods and as a result the BPP was overwhelmingly a working class organization.

 

In Ireland, the flourishing left wing movement that is rising against Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour and Green Party corruption. It is flourishing in a variety of spheres of society, be they trade unions, communities or parties and its composition is overwhelmingly working class. Which must make one wonder, what will the guerrilla forces of the left look like in Ireland? It is safe to say that they will no longer be the mountain based flying columns which we’re so known for but represent the formation of social and political resistance that we have in Ireland today.

 

Urban city based self-organized democratic units that will start likely with resisting evictions and evolve into resisting the forces of the State/commercial institutions on more issues.

 

 

 

Be unafraid.

 

It is the standard in the West to undermine, castigate and even throw out those who seek to challenge the social and economic balance. This balance, so delicately maintained by the ruling class is one which oppresses us as workers. It robs us of our culture, our dignity and our very sense of being. It is the force that we must fight, yet we must ask ourselves, how do we fight it?

From when we workers are babes, we are robbed of the world and of our place in it and when we seek to reclaim we are branded as enemies. Everything that we do for our liberation, both economic and social is considered outrageous. It is outrageous; it is outrageous to the ruling class propped up by social fascists and liberals. It is outrageous to conceive, for those who sit atop the plunder they have robbed from the working class to imagine us, as workers having a sense of identity. Yet we have it, we yearn for it, we live it.

The political convictions of the Communist are worth more than any prized possession on earth. Yet, they challenge the foundations of the world we live and therefore are portrayed as inhumane and as disgusting. Communists are dehumanized in every worst way imaginable. Yet every slur, every lie and every attack only fortifies our courage to continue to regain what has been taken from us.

What the ruling class fear the most is our capacity to love life and therefore struggle for our place in the world. They will attempt everything before giving in and we must know this when we go on the march to a free and Socialist society. So comrades, be unafraid to stand for your convictions for you will only get one opportunity to do so. You will only get that one single moment to express your love for humanity underneath our crimson flag. The beauty and prospect of a new world awaits us and no matter you are told: be unafraid to stand for your passion for a future free of injustice and inequality.

What we must be.

Inspired by my comrades in the Connolly Youth Movement.

 

We look down history and rejoice. Those who felt their convictions meant everything truly rose up for them. In their pursuit of liberty and for a more harmonious society they rose up and met the challenges capitalism and the ruling class placed before them. Shackle after shackle, the militants of the great army of Lenin liberated themselves. The most oppressed people of the world, who had never even imagined liberty now stood as masters of their worlds. From the great steppes in the East, to the vast jungles of Latin America, revolutionaries rose up. In the name of hope they rose up to realize their greatest desires, not just for themselves but for many of the generations that would come after them as well.

The pages of history books are dotted with the red flag being flown from treetop to apartment block, from the hands of babes to the hands of the elderly, it is our crimson flag that has flown over the most vicious of struggles and the most hopeful of ideals. That crimson flag, soaked in the blood in the martyrs of the workers cause flies here in Ireland too and the ideals, the visions the hope that the revolutionaries all over the world had, we have too.

We have a vision in our minds and in our hearts. It is what gives us joy and unites us as comrades. It is the driving force behind our chants and our efforts, the energy that brings us out of bed to fight in a new day. It is in many ways something inexplicable in it’s glory but at the same time very much there before us. As Communists we transform our idealism, our hope, our visions into reality. We develop practical solutions that liberate humanity from the yoke of oppression and wipe away the greed, individualism and selfishness that continues to pollute our societies.

It is our love for a more humane world that ultimately drives us and creates heroes out of the most ordinary of people. For if we carry the red flag, if we realize our ambitions in the material conditions we are given. Our struggle resembles one we have voluntarily undertaken in the knowledge that it may bring us into confrontation with the most powerful of forces. But it is worth everything.

We must be courageous in our convictions if they are to succeed. We must be our own heroes.

You can ignore politics – it won’t ignore you.

You can ignore politics – but it won’t ignore you.

 

Our generation of young people, particularly those born in the 1990s are politically estranged. The education system, as Padraig Pearse called it is a murder machine, a murder machine of thought and intellectual self-development. We are taught that what we have is acceptable, agreeable and we should work within its confines, We should accept the limitations of the framework that has been given to us even if it’s killing our communities, our families and our friends.

 

The attitude that is developed in schools, in universities and in the general approach to politics is that it is some sort of alienable object that you can put inside your cupboard when you’re bored with it or alternatively withdraw it when you’re ready to engage. It’s neither. Politics is like the air for it is all around you. When you walk through the street and see a homeless person, this is the culmination of political decisions. When you see the police beat protesters, this is a consequence of the political choices made above you.

 

You can ignore politics and pretend that it holds no interest to you and perhaps this is true. Perhaps until you are thrown on the street or your family has to skip meals you will never understand the consequences of the blueshirt regime until it descends upon them.

 

It is of immediate importance that you take a keener look into the political on-goings in Ireland. The privatization of our natural resources has gone through unabated with sporadic challenges here and there. Ireland continues to, through Shannon Airport facilitate US imperialism around the world. Ireland has socialized the banking debt, i.e transferring it from the pockets of private developers to the pocket of the tax payer. House repossessions continue in Ireland at a rate worse than ever seen before. There are 3,000 homeless children and over 8,000 homeless people in total in Ireland.

 

The idea that we’re on a road to recovery is firmly being pushed out by all establishment parties and the echo chamber that is RTE. It is a lie and our people, our working people continue to be pushed further into the ground.

 

Walk down the streets of Cork, Limerick or Dublin. Look up how many people had to access food banks at Christmas in 2016. All these things stand as blemishes on our society and as continued reminders of the people we have failed and continue to fail.

 

We need to be politically active. We need to be politically conscious. We need to be mobilized, organized and agitated.

SF/EU.

I don’t think SF as a political party and institution view the European Union as a negative, imperialist entity and to that do not contribute to the discussion when questioned of it being an imperialist entity.
 
I think that from reviewing the direction SF is currently going it seems to me that SF has changed or relaxed it’s political analysis of the EU because most people north and south of the border have a very positive view of it and in order to secure votes and power in government SF has taken a step back from lambasting the EU as something completely incompatible for Ireland to something that must be reformed.
 
Now I have discussed this in great detail with a fair few members of SF and they say it’s critical engagement, ok, perhaps – but actively campaigning the perks and benefits of the EU especially the route of advocating that a remain vote is the best path to unity, or that EU funding is a boon for the North etc are all highly dubious positions to take.
 
You say you are realists, what is unrealistic about advocating for an IREXIT and a united Ireland? Why can’t Ireland be united outside the EU on it’s own terms as judged by the people and more importantly the working class of Ireland? Why take the easy route that demands and requires capitulation to the EU?
 
Liberty, sovereignty, independence – all of these topics are not something that I don’t see SF discussing in the context of EU membership. Yer banging on about the hard border when soft or hard the occupation of 6 counties will continue by the British State and we will be no closer to the liberation and emancipation of our class in the EU.