Towards a Socialist Ireland

The great socialist James Connolly argued “The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go.” Growing numbers of people in Ireland and across the world would agree.

Socialist Worker

Towards a Socialist Ireland

Shaun Harkin
The great socialist James Connolly argued “The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go.” Growing numbers of people in Ireland and across the world would agree.
Capitalism doesn’t benefit the vast majority and is generating political crises that demand an alternative.
The UK vote to leave the European Union came as a massive shock to the global political and corporate establishment.
In a chorus they spelled out the dire consequences of going against an institutional pillar of the world order.
Similarly, the election of the billionaire bigot Donald Trump to the US White House stunned elites everywhere.
Establishment politics and parties are being challenged everywhere.
In the recent French Presidential election neither of the two main parties, the Socialist Party and The Republicans, the centre-left and the centre-right, made it through to the second round of voting.
Eroded
In Ireland, the dominance of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail has been eroded.
It is not only right-wingers like Trump and the French menace Marine Le Pen who are making breakthroughs.
Progressives and radical socialists are winning mass support also.
Millions voted for Bernie Sanders in the US because of him of his socialism.
The same is true of Jean-Luc Melchelon in France and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. In Ireland, north and south, there have been historic breakthroughs for socialists and the radical left.
A pattern has developed where large numbers of people are rejecting the traditional parties of government in favour of what they view as radical alternatives.
Across Europe many people see the EU as the cause of many of the problems they face.
Most people think something has to give, there must be change.
Underpinning the crisis faced by establishment parties and institutions is the global economic order. Neoliberal capitalism is relentlessly generating inequality.
Brexit
Theresa May, the former Remainer, is using Brexit to set the stage for further running down public services, driving down wages and deepening inequality.
They insisted on austerity before Brexit and would have continued to insist on it if the decision had been to stay in the EU. Indeed, the EU has insisted on painful austerity across Europe.
Brexit has caused tremendous uncertainty over the future of the Irish border.
The overwhelming majority of people do not want to see a return to any kind of ‘hard border’ in Ireland.
If it was return, it would appear to be a leap backwards into the past. Whatever the Tories say in Westminster or the EU in Brussels about the future of the border, they can’t be trusted.
Ireland was partitioned in the early 1920s as part of a counter-revolution that pushed back the struggle for an independent and different kind of Ireland.
The British government and military were pushed out of the 26 counties but reactionary pro-capitalist and religiously conservative regimes took control of both of the newly formed states.
North and south of the border bosses were in charge and religion was used to keep the vast majority in place.
Almost one hundred years later, many people view the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as failed states.
Public Services
Wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top of society and public services are being rundown on either side of the border.
Austerity has taken hold north and south. Women are still denied the right to choose whether they’re in the north or south.
As with the discussion of a second independence referendum in Scotland, Brexit has opened up a discussion about the future of the Irish border. Not just the border but the future of Ireland.
United Ireland
Sinn Fein argue Brexit will make a united Ireland inevitable. But what kind of united Ireland?
And how can a majority of people in the North’s divided society be won to supporting it. It is daydreaming to think sectarian divisions in the North would ever simply melt away.
But nor should it be viewed as an impossibility for a majority to agree to end partition.
In his day, Connolly advocated a socialist Workers Republic to win working class unity and overcome sectarianism.
He understood the depth of communitarian division but believed the appeal to class was the only means to challenge it.
Many people are open to the idea of a new Ireland but will want to know what kind of Ireland?
A socialist Ireland today would be based on the redistribution of wealth and control of the economy by the vast majority.
Full Equality
But it would also guarantee the rights of ethnic and religious minorities and full equality and justice for women and the LGBT community, for example.
That’s the kind of Ireland that would be truly equal.
A Socialist Ireland can’t be won without a struggle.
In that struggle you can be sure the Dail and Stormont establishments will have allies in the White House, Brussels, Westminster and their corporate counterparts.
In contrast to unity from above, Connolly presented an inspiring vision of how working class people could fight for a socialist alternative to capitalism.
He wrote “in the work of abolishing it the Catholic and the Protestant, the Catholic and the Jew, the Catholic and the Freethinker, the Catholic and the Buddhist, the Catholic and the Mahometan will co-operate together, knowing no rivalry but the rivalry of endeavour toward an end beneficial to all.
“For, as we have said elsewhere, Socialism is neither Protestant nor Catholic, Christian nor Freethinker, Buddhist, Mahometan, nor Jew; it is only HUMAN.
“We of the Socialist working class realise that as we suffer together we must work together that we may enjoy together.
“We reject the firebrand of capitalist warfare and offer you the olive leaf of brotherhood and justice to and for all.”

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