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Sinn Fein Is A Failure Appearing As A Success.

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | opinion/analysis author Friday November 14, 2014 22:20author by Paddy Hackett Report this post to the editors

The Irish Working Class Is A Contradiction.

Romanticising the working class as much, as the radical left do, merely holds back any chances of authentic political development. It is almost a taboo among this Left to make any serious criticisms of this working class. Left communists are not obliged to pander to a working class that has been backward for so long.

The current Sinn Fein leadership has failed in its principal long standing aim of achieving a 32 county Irish republic. This is because achievement of national self-determination of the Irish people is impossible under capitalism. It supported the IRA's capitulation to the forces of British imperialism. Sinn Fein has returned to the position taken many years ago by what is today called the Workers Party. It has also effectively accepted the same deal, the Good Friday Agreement, as was accepted by the SDLP many years ago in the form of the Sunningdale Agreement.

Following this surrender its popular and electoral strength has ironically grown enormously over the years. Accordingly the electoral success of Sinn Fein, North and South of the border, has been on the basis of defeat, failure and surrender. In a sense failure appears as success to much of the Irish working class.

Ironically the Irish citizenry are apparently fooled by this political charade. It rewards failure and surrender at the ballot box. Logically, if anything, Sinn Fein should have suffered wipe-out at the ballot box. Ironically the SDLP was the successful party in the North since it was essentially its programme that SF submitted to with its acceptance of the Good Friday Agreement. Yet the SDLP suffered electoral slaughter at the hustings in the North.

The Irish citizenry suffers from a (schizoid) contradiction. There is an absence of logic in their political consciousness. Its morality is venal. Sinn Fein, within the context of the Irish republic, make many promises. Promises that they cannot support given that it supports capitalism as a social system. Its programme is unrealisable under capitalism. Given its abject and opportunist abandonment of the national struggle their is no guarantee that it will not blithely abandon its current programme too when its political circumstances change. Yet the public apear to learn nothing. The Official Republican camp did the same. By abandoning its original aim -- the achievement of a 32 Irish Republic- its popular support increased eventually giving it seats in the Dail. DeValera and his comrades did the same. This led to their growing popularity and electoral successs culminating in its forming the first Fianna Fail government. In Ireland failure and abandonment of politial principles spells success.

Clearly this is a serious problem that reflects the current character of the modern working class in Ireland. Its an indication of the venal nature of the Irish working class. It has no interest in principled politics. It is merely concerned with supporting elements within society that it believes will "protect", even appear to increase its economic benefits. It has the hallmarks of what Lenin and elements within the German radical Left in the first quarter of the 20th century termed "the labour aristocracy". The real poor in Irish society are a marginal group that is largely ignored. The Irish electorate within the state south of the border is merely concerned with maintaining its living standards even if that means voting for a party that supported bombings and killings for a cause that it later abandoned. Its principle is its pocket. The venal Irish working class is not concerned with eliminating the systemic exploitation of labour power once it has money in its pocket. It does not care as to the blood stained nature of any bourgeois party once it believes it will protect its holidays abroad. It is a working class infected by the acquisitiveness of capitalist morality. In the Marcusean sense it is a bourgeois working class.

A radically fundamental change ( a paradigm shift) in the culture of the working class is necessary if it is to become a revolutionary force. As a revolutionary force it must adhere to principled libetarian politics. Effecting such a coomprehensive transformation is a long and arduous process. It will not necessarily occur in the short term and it has to be realised by the class itself. There cannot be any substitutionism.

The anti-water charges campaign has little or nothing to do with class politics. This populist campaign has not become a force because the working class is moving to the Left. It is simply an opportunist campaign that simply wants a return to the status quo ante. It is a venal response to growing hardship caused by the austerity measures imposed by the state. It is not anti-statist nor anti-capitalist campaign. The diverse elements that constitute it merely want a return to previous living standards. They are not engaged in challenging the class nature of Irish society and the need for its replacement with communism.

Consequently parties such as the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party are merely accommodating this opportunism by their involvement in the anti-water charges campaign. Indeed the Irish working class have shown its first signs of vitality over the water charges issue. Yet this mass mobilisation is being mounted at a time when the Irish capitalist class have recovered from the shock and collapse in confidence suffered by it in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007/8. This earlier period would have been a politically more correct period for mass mobilisation. But again the reactionary Irish working class get it wrong. Questions need to be raised concerning the nature of the Irish working class. Romanticising the working class as undertaken by the radical left merely holds back any chances of authentic political development. It is almost a taboo among this Left to make any serious criticisms of this working class. Left communists are not obliged to pander to a working class that has been backward for so long.

In order to stand a chance of assisting in the revolutionising of the consciousness of the working class it is necessary that communists struggle to raise the consciousness of the most class conscious elements within the working class. Its aim is the raising of class consciousness as opposed to appealing to the less politically conscious strata within the working class by coming down to its level through the medium of the anti-water charges campaign.

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author by fredpublication date Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

so to summarise:

sinn fein = BAD
water protests = BAD

so lets leave the other parties in government and keep our heads down and pay our taxes like good little citizens and don't engage in any bourgeois protests or support any half measures like SF or PBP while we await the purist communist revolution from nowhere that will suddenly arrive one day to save us all from neoliberals and capitalism.

Some revolutionary you are Paddy. In your articles you seem to always be concentrating on SF and any other non status quo party, such as PBP which manages to get a little traction against the status quo parties and the stranglehold neoliberalism has over Irish politics and media. You also seem to attack any protest that gets sufficient traction amongst a significant number of the Irish people to become effective in any way, such as the recent water protesst. Curious behaviour for a revolutionary leftie.

If I was in FG headquarters, I'd give you a job tomorrow writing divisive articles like this and others which you have penned. You're doing a great job undermining these alternatives. Keep it up and we'll have another 5 years of neoliberal plunder while we await the revolution fairy!

author by Baggiepublication date Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just how do you imagine you will change the “venal nature of the Irish working class”? Your purity is beyond reproach but any revolutionary can only work with the tools available. Consumerism and sport have replaced religion as the opiate of the masses but you can’t just wish it away.

Your criticism of the anti-water campaign because it is not a revolutionary demand is ridiculous. Next you will be saying the working class don’t need trade unions to ameliorate their material well-being because they are not demands that will fundamentally alter society.

Even Lenin used capitalism in the New Economic Policy when the situation demanded it. Further Lenin rails in Left Wing Communism; An Infantile Disorder about the absolutist ‘no compromises’ position when material conditions demand it. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is a perfect example of this.

author by nonmarxist radicalpublication date Sat Nov 15, 2014 12:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The 'venal working class' phrase of the poster to me seems to imply that the Irish working class doesn't deserve the leadership of dedicated left groups. But has it ever occurred to you that the working class doesn't really want the revolutionary leaders? What is the working class anyway? Western European societies have moved on since the grim days of the 19th century industrial revolution. Unskilled work itself has changed a lot since then because of technological innovation. Mass education up to the age of 16+ has made socially disadvantaged people less prone to the rallying power of political sloganeering. The Bolshevicks in 1917 could promise Bread, Land and Peace to illiterate starving peasants, urban workers and disgruntled soldiers returning from the slaughterfields of the Great War and the masses followed Lenin, Trotsky and Co. to a desired better future. That scenario cannot exist in this second decade of the 21st century.

Who are today's working class? Is it the low-paid staff in fastfood eating places? Is it unemployed and underemployed graduates? Is it the staff in chain supermarkets? I don't deny that classes exist, that disparities in income and upward mobility ability exist. I just think that sociological developments have made human segments more complicated than they were in 1917. People's sources of cultural stimulation (or cultural sedation in the case of much television viewing) and their sources of news have widened as a result of the internet. Revolutionary vanguard groups compete for attention in a world of diverse distraction and cultural triviality. So many people on low incomes and in jobs with limited career prospects don't exhibit a proletarian consciousness in the marxian sense, and they are not following any political ideology in particular.

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