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Plenty of blame to go around. Role of the revolutionary left.

category national | anti-capitalism | opinion/analysis author Sunday November 22, 2015 19:34author by john throne - Project for a Working peoples World. Report this post to the editors

Sectarianism and the Irish revolutionary left.

This article deals with how much left sectarianism has damaged the workers struggle in Ireland.

Plenty of blame to go around. - The role of the revolutionary Left in Ireland today.

I have been out of Ireland now for over thirty years. But I have tried to keep up with events. For the thirteen years previous to leaving I was a member of the CWI now SP. I was the first member in the South and the first full timer overall. From this background and from the background of later being expelled from the CWI I would like to share a few thoughts about the present situation in Ireland. Mainly events in the South. There may be some inaccuracies in what I write due to not being back for some time. I apologize in advance.

We would I assume all agree that the role of the trade union leaders and Labor party leaders in Southern and Northern Ireland is an absolute betrayal and disgrace. They have gone along with the so-called austerity program which is bail out and filling the pockets of the Banks and the rich and austerity emptying the pockets of the working class and the poor. I do not need to spend any more time in condemning these forces. I also see that SF has joined the austerity program in the North, this is a harbinger of things to come in the South. No surprise there from the people who court the British royalty and Tory governments and the representitives of US imperialism and Wall Street.

Having squarely put the blame for the betrayal and sell out where it belongs, on the shoulders of the trades union leaders and the labor Party I would like now to turn my gaze in another direction. There is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the failure so far to defeat the so-called austerity program. I am referring to the policies and activities of the left groups and individuals which see themselves as revolutionary socialist. I will be as blunt with them as I have been concerning the trade union and Labor party leaders.

The role of these left groups is an absolute disgrace. It is utterly sectarian. It is a dog fight. The role of the left individuals is little better. I do not know all the details about the individuals so I will be more careful here and if I am unfairly criticizing anybody please correct me and I will most willingly correct any mistake I have made. But let us look at these left groups and individuals.

As far as I can see there is the AAA and the PBP. Then there is the UL. Then there is the Dail Comrades Clare D and Joan C. Then there is Mike Wallace whom I understand does not consider himself a socialist but who is a fighter on some issues. In the North there is Eamon McCann. The AAA and the PBP are dominated respectively by the SP and the SWP. The SP and the SWP are so sectarian they cannot even have one united front. They each have to have their own united front!!! I also understand the self styled Workers party is appearing again. There is also the IWU. I do not know the role they are playing.

The LP is at its lowest ever in the polls. The opportunity for building a fighting alternative has never been greater. Surely it is as obvious as the eyes on your face that all these revolutionary left forces should come together to build an electoral alliance and work together. I shake my head here at the sectarianism and immaturity of these groups, at the counter revolutionary role their sectarianism plays. At how these groups put what they consider their own petty interest above that of the working class. At how the damage this does to the working class movement.

When the ULA was built I did not agree with its objective being to build a new left party. I thought the sectarianism of the various group’s was too great and that it would be better to work together as a united front against the attacks of the austerity program and out of this run candidates as part of an electoral alliance. On this I was proved right. The Tipperary Unemployed group was the first to bolt,, They were going to build national movement. I have heard nothing of this. The SP led by Joe Higgins used the cover of this to bolt next, The SWP kept one foot in as far as I could see and one foot out. The whole thing fell apart. Now as far as I know there is the UL.

The AAA and the PBP are now running together to try and win 7 seats. Last I heard the SWP was running a candidate to try and take Joan Collin’s in Dublin. This is so horrific in its sectarianism I can hardly believe it. I hope it is not true. I hope if it is true that leading members of the SWP such as Eamon McCann and Boyd Barrett will speak out strongly against it. Not only speak out against it but wage an internal campaign within the SWP to get it stopped.

There are all the members of these various groupings. There are the thousands of ex members of left groupings. There are thousands and tens of thousands who have moved into struggle recently for the first time, on issues such as the water charges, gay marriage etc. A whole new layer of the population have moved into struggle. And what does the left groups offer them? A fractured sectarian back stabbing dog fight. It is an utter disgrace. Everybody in these groups should be ashamed of themselves. I am ashamed of myself that I was a sectarian and acted in a sectarian manner when I was in the CWI and what was the Militant back then in Ireland and what is now the SP. I have totally rejected that way of working now just as I have totally rejected other sacred totems such as so-called democratic centralism.

I am not against any group. I am against sectarianism. In all these groups and outside all of these groups there are very good people. What is necessary is for a left formation to be developed which has as its priority, yes fighting the so-called austerity, but also fighting the sectarianism of the left. The first cannot be achieved without the second.

I would suggest this. And it will not be easy. All those members in the left groups and former members of the left groups come together openly, state their identity openly and campaign against sectarianism. And in doing so state where they themselves have been sectarian, their organization has been sectarian and that from now on they are going to wage an open struggle in their own organizations against sectarianism. And make this public. For this to work the leading members of these groups would have to come out against their own sectarianism, and take up an open struggle against the sectarianism in their own groups and as practiced by their own groups. Over to you Joe Higgins, Boyd Barrett, Eamon McCann, Mike Barry, Clare Daly, Joan Collins, Dermot Connolly.

And please do not come up with any crap about the need for the internal lives of revolutionary organizations to be secret. It is mad to imagine that the internal life of revolutionary group in this Internet age can be kept secret. The bourgeois can listen to just about anything while the left groups are calling for a secretive internal life. These groups are insane. The first step back to sanity is an open struggle against sectarianism our own and all of the left.

I am part of a small revolutionary group here in the US which is trying to break from the sectarian ways. It is called Project for a Working Peoples World. We organize on revolutionary socialist principles, no hard and fast line, general revolutionary principles. No 100% agreement on every dot and comma. We organize on democratic organizational principles. These latter include that, and this is essential for us, is that members of PWPW can also be members of other groups. But there is one condition and it is non negotiable. That members share the internal life including differences that exist in any other group with the members of the PWPW. No more secretive B……T.

author by anonpublication date Sun Nov 22, 2015 20:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting article but it is not unique to Ireland. I'd say this is a common problem in other countries which suggests a more general problem but you are right, it is all highly damaging.

And on the idea of asking people to come together and to reject sectarianism, surely it would just arise again from the dynamics and interactions with other groups? Seems to me we need a greater understanding of sectarianism. Maybe it is now part of the left culture and is difficult to change.

author by Old Billpublication date Mon Nov 23, 2015 13:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Unfortunately many individuals and some groups adopt and intellectualise marxism as an all-encompassing belief system - and they develop few hobbies and cultural interests outside their system. Like adherents of a millenarian cult, they allow themselves to be gobbled up by their belief tenets, and don't mix socially with non-believers. So they regard themselves as the elect and they become in their own eyes the custodians of irrefutable orthodoxy. They often end up fighting heresy instead of trying to convert the undecided. 17th century Malvolio Puritans and 14th-century Inquisitors were the religious advanced mirror images of 20th century secret police interrogators and show trial judges and prosecutors.

Is it any wonder that so many 'ordinary working people' carry on living and partly living and decline to have anything to do with strident political campaigners?

author by John Throne - Project for a Working peoples World. publication date Mon Nov 23, 2015 17:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks to the two folks who made comments. We in Project for a Working Peoples World believe that for there to be a real chance to end sectarianism the big battalions of the working class have to move into action. But even then this movement will have to experience some nasty experiences as it learns the sectarian ways of the sectarian groups. i see SF is very strongly damaging the anti water charge movement at the moment with its sectarianism. It could hardly be called left sectarianism. Maybe ourselves alone get into bed with the openly capitalist parties sectarianism. Maybe become the main capitalist party sectarianism.

But back to the points raised. We in the project for a Working peoples World ( see Blog weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com) have the following two criteria we operate on. Unless people from a left background openly and publicly admit that they have made major mistakes, that they have failed utterly to put down roots in the working class then there is no point in discussing. It is only a waste of our time. We all made sectarian, ultra left, opportunist mistakes, these have to be openly discussed and lessons learnt. The self styled revolutionary left have utterly failed to put down mass roots in the working class this has to be recognized and the lessons drawn.

The other criteria for involvement with PWPW is that while we are building a socialist current in the mass movement we are doing so in a non sectarian manner. But also in a way that prevents it from itself becoming sectarian. We do this in two ways. On. Members of PWPW can also belong to other groups as long as these other groups principles do not in general contradict the general principles of PWPW. but also and crucially that if members of PWPW are members of other groups they can only be so if they share with PWPW the internal life, discussions, differences etc of the other group. No more secretive sectarian BS. We have had enough of that.

Lenin is so misused by the left sectarians. He insisted that the ideas of the Bolsheviks be shared with, made known to the as he put it " the people." Not even the working class but the "people." He said that all discussions debates etc of the Bolsheviks conferences and gatherings should be made known to the "people." How far is this from the secretive world of the left sectarians. These groups are insane. The bourgeois can listen in to just about anybody these days yet the left groups want to keep their inner world secret. As if they could. The reality is that these groups want to keep their internal life secret so they can hopefully get one over on some other minuscule left sectarian group with whom they are competing and the existing clique in leadership are not threatened. Think of another example from lenin. When he came back to Russia in 1917 he was a minority in the Bolsheviks. He got off the train and stood up on a tank and without as much as a bye your leave launched into the majority of the Bolsheviks, this in public. He never even thought of such a thing as the so called democratic centralism which the self styled revolutionary left groups are so bg on today. The Blosheviks papers published all sorts of different views. The truth is the left sectarian groups of today base themselves on the life of the Bolsheviks when that organization was already well on the way to being destroyed by the civil war, mass starvation and the related rise of stalinism.

There are more people who consider themselves revolutionary socialists outside the self styled revolutionary socialist groups than are inside them. This means there is something wrong with the internal and external lives of these groups. It is an open and shut case. These groups cannot be reformed. A new formation with a new and different internal culture has to be built. In my struggle to do this i have totally rejected what is know as democratic centralism. i am much more inclined to use the term democratic collectivism. i am not too happy with this term but it is the best i can come up with at the moment. Help to develop a better formulation would be welcome. And help to try and build a non sectarian revolutionary left movement would also be appreciated. By the way it is not only those who are still in the self styled revolutionary left sectarian groups that are doing damage. All those former members who were sickened by the internal lives of these groups and dropped out also have to shoulder their share of blame. Complaining about the left sectarian groups and doing nothing yourself is not a way forward. Contact me. Help us in PWPW. Sean Throne.

John throne.

Related Link: http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com
author by We are not amused?publication date Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SP and the SWP are so sectarian they cannot even have one united front. They each have to have their own united front!!!

Priceless, John, but so true.

author by Joe - Nonepublication date Tue Nov 24, 2015 14:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What's most striking is the utter lack of ambition for the left. Take the very interesting example of Joan Collins TD. There are currently 5 seats in that constituency. Labour have two. They won't hold onto both. The question is where will it go? There's a real opportunity for the left to win more seats. But this article posits this as Joans 'seat'. This is bourgeois democracy. No one owns the seat! It's a democracy. Why can't there be two female socialist TDs out of this? Why is there such a lack of ambition? I'm not in the SWP but can see how Joan won that seat not just because of a political swing to the left and being an excellent candidate but also because the SWP got behind her and campaigned for her. I can't see the sectarianism there, in all fairness.

There's a lack of ambition for the left in Ireland. It's called not seeing the wood for the trees. John, Ireland has changed since you left. It's a shame you can't see it. A greater shame that you still using old memories to attempt to intervene on things you don't have a handle on.

author by john throne - Project for a working peoples world. publication date Tue Nov 24, 2015 18:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you for your comments Joe. But i am not sure what you are proposing. Are you proposing that two left candidates run for the seat in the constituency where Joan Collins now is a TD. If so have you tried to get a meeting between the different forces involved. Particularly the SWP which is as far as I know is proposing to run a candidate there. If not I would suggest you do so. Such a meeting could look at the resources involved and see if there was a chance of winning two sets and if so run for two seats. If not look at the left candidate with the best chance of being elected and all other left forces withdraw their candidate and put their resources behind the candidate with the best chance of winning. i recognize i am not on the ground but i would find it hard to think that the sitting TD especially with such a good record as Joan would not have the best chance of being elected. I have to disagree with you when you say that you do not see the actions of the SWP in this constituency as left sectarian. They pick out a constituency with a real fighting left candidate and decide to run against her. I have to speak strongly I think it is an utter scandal. Now i could be wrong. Maybe there is a very good chance of getting two left TD's elected. But if there is not, in fact if this is not just about a certainty then no chances should be taken. i have to stand by my position. i find the decision of the SWP sectarian, something which it shares of course with the SP which in any similar situation would put its own interests above that of the movement. I am not against the SWP or the SP. i am against sectarianism. I am not for the SWP or the SP. i am for a revolutionary left with a non sectarian approach and a different democratic collectivist internal culture. And by the way i do not believe that capitalism will be ended by bourgeois democratic methods. But using elections to conduct a struggle for the consciousness of the working class is a correct tactic until the revolutionary forces are in a position to carry through the revolution. And another detail as this is usually always thrown at me as a barb. that is that i am no longer living in Ireland and so out of touch. But I am not living an any other country in the world except the US. Does this mean that i should keep my moth shut about all these countries also. I would not agree. Sean Throne.

Related Link: http://wknowwhatsup.blogspot.com
author by sean throne - sean thronepublication date Wed Nov 25, 2015 22:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We are not amused.I would like to be touch with you directly. You recognized the essence of what I was saying and also did it with humor. Thank you . Could we be in contact. My email is loughfinn@aol.com

Related Link: http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com
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