Right to revolt.

The right of revolution as a philosophical concept has been abstracted in historical texts from the necessity of revolution as a materialist analysis of historical class antagonisms

When reading texts on the concept of Law, the question of natural justice has always been an entertaining one to consider. Based in a mixture of religious, philosophical and cultural ideas, natural justice is, in summary, the collected law making and giving experience of society transformed into a form of custom and practice that is then interpreted by an individual, an institution or a combination of both. Usually used in a reference for fairness. In practice, it is a secondary tool to the ruling power of whichever land. In Ireland, the judicial system was mirrored from the homogeneous judicial system that Ireland was colonised by, the British one. The British judicial system in turn, was crafted, cleverly to represent the interests of the aristocratic and land owning class.

What concerns and interests me most however is the abstraction of legal concepts from their socio economic material reality and the contradictions contained within it. The dialectical nature of the law, is overlooked and supplanted by a simplified interpretation of the Law which without a hint of irony benefits the ruling class. More specifically, interest lies in this concept of the right to revolt, or right to revolution, an idea that made significant traction in the so called ‘Age of Enlightenment’. Let me offer a slightly more alternative view that might be of equal interest to the reader.

Since society moved from a primitive hunter gatherer method of organisation to a feudal one through a variety of transformations, one key aspect that we have all heard of to justify feudal rule is the ‘Divine Right of Kings’. In China, it was titled ‘Mandate from Heaven’, in other places around the world it was titled differently, but it’s central point was that it permitted the person with the ‘divine right’ or ‘mandate’ to be the absolute ruler of all where they claimed. It justified their rule, despite it stemming essentially from being a more ruthless or craftier warlord. It created a cultural and philosophical explanation for why they ruled, because they ruled. This is the chronology of the circumstances and conditions.

In exactly the same condition, opposite ideas, carried by rebellion, insurrection and revolt began to manifest themselves. These ideas gained traction in societies that had developed access to education and literacy, they didn’t simply come into being, they had to be recorded, considered and thought about. What is curious though is that if you give online records a quick breeze, the right to revolt as a concept originated from the right to be ruled properly, rather than the fact that you ruled absolutely. It was a very dialectical resolution of the question of rule: If I am to be ruled ‘absolutely’ then I should be ruled in a proper manner. Curious, isn’t it?

As all contradictions however, once the synthesis of being ruled properly emerged, then emerged the next glaring contradiction: If the right to revolt exists from improper rule, what other cause can justify revolt and what is improper rule? One can labour extensively on these questions but they have always been dominated and marked by a class narrative. For nobles the right to revolt stemmed from their ability or inability to exercise power and influence over the monarch. For petty tradesmen and merchants, the right to revolt stemmed from their desire to earn an ever greater profit. For the industrialists and bankers, the role of the absolute monarchy was merely a question of political and economic influence. Philosophical explanations for rule and revolt tailed the confrontations of warlords, industrialists, kings and queens until Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels provided a scientific breakdown of history and put these questions into place.

The history of all hithertho existing society, is the history of class struggles.

Karl Marx

In such an environment, ideas in Ireland were also crafted. The British Empire, much like the American Empire, French Empire, Spanish Empire, Portuguese Empire, Dutch, Swedish, Russian and so on, all had to create a justification for their right to colonise and exploit. They circumvented their hypocritical religious teachings of love and kindness mechanically. They said that the humans they raped, destroyed and pillaged were not humans and therefore the criteria did not apply to them. A simple solution to what could have been a complicated problem. Empire and the dominant mode of thought produced justification for the misery it inflicted on the people. Capitalism does this today in as many equal ways, many of which are there to distract the oppressed from the very real misery that is inflicted on them.

In Ireland, the system, it’s ivory tower universities and all that entails it have created justification and reasoning for their rule not by insisting that the rule is just, but by insisting that we, the people are a part of the ruling process, that in fact we rule ourselves and that there are no ‘rulers’, there are no classes, they’re gone and anybody who insists otherwise is a Communist. If problems emerge, we are also therefore collective responsible because we are a part of the decision making process.

The process portrays class analysis of social and economic differences as redundant and embraces effectively the same ideas Mussoloni, Franco and Hitler transformed into more thorough political systems and machines. We all serve the ‘interests of the nation’ together and the interests of the nation happen to coincidence with the interests of vulture funds, bankers and multinational corporations.

We are told that the rule of the State in Leinster House is ‘just’ and that if it wasn’t, the judicial system that’s totally inaccessible to ordinary people would keep it in check. That power is separate, therefore it would hardly ever go wrong, and if it did, we can fix it. A pyramid of semi truths and lies to justify the rancid exploitation and prostitution of Ireland and its people, much like telling young people that emigrating abroad is just an adventure. Ireland is neither representative nor democratic of the interests of those who make it a wonderful place to be. It is not rewarding of its workers or caring for its people. Ireland is a hostile place for the majority, a land of opportunity for minority.

In such circumstances, we could revert back to ancient philosophers or even more contemporary ones and say to ourselves: If we are not ruled properly, should we not have a right to modify or change that rule? Bourgeoisie etiquette and parliamentary procedure stifle this by stating that we are already invested in the management of our own affairs. We aren’t. The institutions, the orders, the economy is all theirs and we the people have little to no input. In such circumstances, the people are confused and misled by these endless lies, propagated through the papers, the education system and the media. In such circumstances, it is the duty of the Communist Party and the Communist movement to pierce through them, identify them and reveal them. It is the duty of the Communist movement to assert the right of the people to revolt and prepare revolution, not simply as an abstract philosophical concept, but together with an understanding of the history of society and the social phenomena of society.

We, Communists, are for a participative and pluralistic democracy. One that may not fix the issues we face today immediately or overnight, for no system can do so, but that can place human suffering, destitution and poverty at the forefront of our struggle and provide for us the means and tools to do so. Defects in the method of Socialist organisation will always exist, but they will exist not under a veil of illusory democracy, but in the full view and grip of the working people of Ireland.

β€œSoviet power is not a miracle working talisman. It does not, overnight, heal all the evils of the past – illiteracy, lack of culture, the consequences of a barbarous war, the aftermath of predatory capitalism. But it does pave the way to Socialism. It does give those who were formerly oppressed the chance to strenghten their own backs and to an ever increasing degree take the whole government of the country, the whole administration of the economy, the whole management of production, into their own hands.”


A Workers Republic under the triple lock of British, European and American imperialism is not possible.

A Workers Republic under the Blueshirt regime and the Irish parliamentary system is not possible.

A Workers Republic with six counties of Ireland partitioned and occupied is not possible.

A Workers Republic through peaceful means is not possible.

A Workers Republic cannot and will not be a capitalist enterprise.

Recommended reading:

The Reconquest of Ireland by James Connolly

State and Revolution by Lenin

What is Soviet Power? by Lenin

Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon

How Africa was Underdeveloped by Walter Rodney

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