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We’re all anti-capitalists now. Honest. September 15, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in The North.
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Interesting collection of stories in the Observer centred on a written list of answers to questions from the Guardian provided to Henry McDonald by the Real IRA. The Real IRA and its associated grouping have never shown much interest in politics, asserting that national sovereignty is the sole question to which they address themselves. This interview from February 2008 makes it clear that the position is pretty much Brits Out. Since then, they have stepped up their campaign, resulting in several deaths and a large number of “punishment” attacks on those supposedly involved in the drugs trade and other anti-social activities. At the same time, agitation on the issue of conditions within the prisons has intensified. Despite the assertion in Febrary 2008 that they were not simple militarists, there has been little sign of any interest in politics. So far, so traditional nationalism.

Which makes the following from the statement issued to the Guardian all the more interesting.

“We have a track record of attacking high-profile economic targets and financial institutions such as the City of London. The role of bankers and the institutions they serve in financing Britain’s colonial and capitalist system has not gone unnoticed.

“Let’s not forget that the bankers are the next-door neighbours of the politicians. Most people can see the picture: the bankers grease the politicians’ palms, the politicians bail out the bankers with public funds, the bankers pay themselves fat bonuses and loan the money back to the public with interest. It’s essentially a crime spree that benefits a social elite at the expense of many millions of victims.”

The colonial stuff is obviously nothing new, especially in relation to the police force. However the stuff about the capitalist system is a different matter. McDonald thinks this is an attempt to cash in on the unpopularity of bankers and the banking system north and south, and points out that ultra-leftist terrorism targetting the banking sector has proven to be a miserable failure in other places it has been tried.

The adoption of this type of rhetoric is baffling. Not only because it goes against the whole approach of putting the sole focus on the right of the Irish nation to independence – and an anti-colonial/imperial rhetoric can gel with this type of nationalism as we’ve seen in the past – but also because it seems to risk needlessly alienating people they have attracted through their traditional nationalism. They have grown and re-organised on the basis of a traditional militarist nationalist programme cloaked in the rhetorical of national sovereignty and occasionally anti-colonialism, plus action against anti-social elements. Despite the involvement of people associated with the 32 CSM in some left protests, it’s hard to see that this statement is signalling a move to the left. More likely it is pure opportunism, possibly combined with the concerns of a small element within them, mirroring at some level what happened with the provisionals before them. It’s worth noting that there is nothing quoted about the southern banking crisis, although there may have been something in the original statement. I doubt though that a reference to the British colonial and capitalist system is intended to suggest that the directors of Anglo-Irish Bank have been added to pizza delivery men as legitimate targets.

So a strange interview, not least for how it was handled. Maybe an interesting sign of an attempt within this organisation to develop a more political approach. But I’d be surprised it there is a change in the way they operate on the ground.

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1. The Real IRA’s radical new rhetoric « The Great Unrest - September 15, 2010

[...] a complementary analysis from a slightly different angle see Garibaldy over on the Cedar Lounge Revolution. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)MP calls on YouTube to remove Real IRA propaganda [...]

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Garibaldy - September 15, 2010

This is an interesting piece from 1967, similar yet different. Well worth people checking out this blog.

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2. Dr. X - September 15, 2010

Not so mystifying really, once you remember that these people are idiots.

It’s no different from the student who wears a Che Guevara t-shirt because he thinks it looks cool, and who doesn’t have the first notion who Guevara was, or where Cuba is, etc.

These people are only mouthing anti-capitalist rhetoric for the most shallow of reasons.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a ‘more political approach’.

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Garibaldy - September 15, 2010

No worries there Dr. X. Maybe I wasn’t as clear about my scepticism as I may have been at the end.

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Phil - September 16, 2010

Not so mystifying really, once you remember that these people are idiots.

Reminds me of something Robin Ramsay said about the Angry Brigade – he came across a reference to them smoking a lot of dope & thought, Oh, so they were stoned! Now it makes sense… (I am of course not suggesting that the RIRA are stoners.)

I’m really interested in armed struggle groups (professionally) and take them quite seriously, but when you look at a group like the RIRA, they are where they are – at the end of a whole series of choices and refusals and small successes and big knock-backs – and they’re trying to make sense of where they are using the ideological tools of physical force republicanism, which isn’t that rich a source at the best of times. It’s not surprising if they make half-arsed gestures towards new ways of thinking.

Let’s hope this doesn’t portend a split, or if it does that they manage to do it peacefully.

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ejh - September 16, 2010

Re: the Angry Brigade, a better guide might be Michael Moorcock, who once wrote that you could believe more or less anything you wanted provided that you lived in the right parts of London.

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3. LeftAtTheCross - September 15, 2010

It’s worth noting that there is nothing quoted about the southern banking crisis, although there may have been something in the original statement

That’s an important point in exposing the shallow opportunism. It is a warped patriotism that ignores the greater damage being inflicted on “the nation” by their gombeen nationalist cousins in the RoI state. If their strategy was anything more than a simplistic Brits Out then logic would suggest that they would look south of the broder and find any number of targets for their anti-capitalistic efforts.

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4. Garibaldy - September 15, 2010

I’ve just had a look at the IMC report on the murder of Bobby Moffett.

http://www.independentmonitoringcommission.org/documents/uploads/Twenty-Fourth%20Report.pdf

It states it was a sanctioned UVF murder, and that the leadership could have stopped it had it wished, but didn’t, so as to maintain standing within/fear from the local community. However, it doesn’t recommending re-specifying the organisation. Discusses Pruvis’ reaction too, and will be monitoring the broader response of the PUP. So not quite writing it off as internal housekeeping a la Mo Mowlam, but no major consequences either.

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5. HAL - September 15, 2010

There are so many shananagins going on with the reals its hard to know who he met,could be one faction trying to upset another, etc.The part where he retreived a memory stick celotaped to the back of a cistern hidden in a plastic glove only to hand it over to the the guy who just put it there is fantasy.

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LeftAtTheCross - September 15, 2010

I wonder would the copy & paste of the file from the USB stick also transfer some information about the PC on which the source file was created. No human fingerprints, but maybe some digital ones?

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6. WorldbyStorm - September 15, 2010

Weird stuff re the IMC report, isn’t it Garibaldy? And this is a special report, outside the usual cycle of six monthly IMC reports…

Re the RIRA stuff, hmmmm… I’ve discussed with 32CSM people their approach in the past and never got the impression that they wanted to move beyond issues of sovereignty. So to see this…

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7. “The IRA is not unwilling to talk, in fact there needs to be talks…” « Slugger O'Toole - September 15, 2010

[...] – “a last resort to protect the community.”And Garibaldy has some thoughts on the anti-capitalist rhetoric.On more traditional ground the Guardian article relaysOn the political front they dismissed Sinn [...]

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8. Pope Epopt - September 15, 2010

Interesting timing, coming a few months after the Tories take nominal control of British intelligence, in a government aligned strongly with finance-capital. Can we assume that RIRA is pretty well infiltrated, and consider the opportunities this kind of rhetoric presents for the Tory government? Think PR for bankers and excuses to clamp down on legitimate protests.

Or is that too sophisticated?

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Pope Epopt - September 15, 2010

Given the modus operandi, there was no infiltration needed, perhaps. How sure was Mr. McDonald that these were RIRA people?

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HAL - September 15, 2010

Im sure Mr.McDonald Plc could check all the facts before giving us this revelation.He seems to move in the right circles.

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9. CL - September 16, 2010

Being anti-banker is a consistent theme in right-wing populist movements. And given the devastation resulting from the current crisis of finance capital these movements are growing in strength. The RIRA statement should be seen in this light and not as not as some turn to the left.

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10. Justin - September 16, 2010

“Being anti-banker is a consistent theme in right-wing populist movements”

Indee. For example, this is from the (horrible) BNP website:

The banksters cannot be let off the hook for their role in the current financial crisis. The BNP demands that the banksters responsible for the catastrophe which has crippled the international banking system be held personally legally liable for their actions in terms of corporate governance laws. They should have to pay a personal price for the mess they have created, and not be rewarded with huge bonuses which have come from taxpayer-funded bailouts.

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11. RepublicanSocialist1798 - September 16, 2010

I have little truck with people who characterise sections of the Republican movement as “right wing” without offering qualification to their conjecture. Comparisons with the BNP are unwarranted and unnecessary.

However it is just political opportunism on their part really. They’ve degenerated into little more than a criminal gang, who just repeat the usual “Brits Out” line when either tradition or necessity require.

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12. justin - September 16, 2010

I don’t really care who you have truck with. Both the Real IRA and the BNP are nationalist populist movements and both are using the current crisis to drum up support.

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13. RepublicanSocialist1798 - September 16, 2010

Yeah but do you consider nationalism “right-wing”?

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DublinDilettante - September 16, 2010

I don’t see how it could be considered other than right-wing, as a non-class-based, chauvinistic creed of exclusion.

Ironically enough, the pathology of nationalism is more or less identical across all its global outbreaks.

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RepublicanSocialist1798 - September 16, 2010

“The pathology of nationalism”

You really paint it with the same brutish brush, refusing to distinguish between civic nationalism, the form of nationalism that has existed in this nation by-and-large, with the “blut und boden” which is what the Trotsky’s of varying shades would have us believe nationalism is. Look at the lack of fascist far-right parties in this country if you dont believe me.
I’m assuming you hold similar beliefs with a section of political opinion and action who “borrow their political theories and
strategies from the UK and basically regard Ireland as if it were Yorkshire or Lancashire”?

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WorldbyStorm - September 16, 2010

Well, and this is one area where I’d diverge from D_D’s excellent analysis generally, I tend to think that calling nationalism right wing is a bit of a broad brush stroke approach. Civic nationalism isn’t chauvinistic by any definition, indeed it’s the antithesis of chauvinism.

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WorldbyStorm - September 16, 2010

I should add though that on a practical and pragmatic level given that nationalism is reasonably strongly embedded in people of all classes it’s always struck me that working with rather than agin the grain is perhaps a good way to go – and let that be seen as compromising overly much as noted below, there are plenty of strongly progressive individuals/groups which have managed to combine a positive non chauvinistic nationalism (republicanism?) with socialism etc… and provide good examples.

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Tim Johnston - September 16, 2010

Doesn’t it depend on whether the country you are nationalist for is independent or not?

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T - September 17, 2010

I’m curious – what exactly is it in this day and age that differs Ireland from Yorkshire or Lancashire?

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14. Captain Rock - September 16, 2010

Funny that, because Castro was a Cuban nationalist, and Ho Chi Minh led nationalists in Vietnam, and Indian nationalists campaigned for independence, as did African nationalists…you see national independence from imperialism is not reactionary per se- nor is it neccesarily exclusive. (Not saying anything about the R-IRA’s ‘interview’ with Henry McD- surely a Pulitzer prize cannot be far off?)

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15. justin - September 16, 2010

Do you mean, is nationalism by definition right-wing in my opinion? My answer to that question is no. If you look at England there are self-defined nationalists on the left (though few – Billy Bragg springs to mind) and on the right.

The BNP want black people “out” while no strand of Irish nationalism that i know of is racist in that manner. Having said that, there is a Catholic-Nationalist strain of so-called republicanism which would be very close in outlook to contemporary European fascism.

National liberation struggles have played their part in attempting to bring down empires. But nationalist thinking contains a strong element of sentimentality, myth-making, exclusion of others, all of which aid those with reactionary agendas.

From my own perspective, as a Republican Socialist living five minutes from DUP headquarters in East Belfast, nationalisms of all kinds in Ireland are a fetter on the Irish working class, preventing people from seeing where their class interests lie. So yes, a fetter on the Left if not overtly right-wing in itself.

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Tim Johnston - September 17, 2010

good answer imho Justin.
I can’t see anyone describing Kurdish nationalists, say, as ‘right wing’. But then, Nationalism can be inclusive or exclusive in character – some see the nation as an extended family, while some see it as a way of gaining supremacy over resented minorities.
You can be a nationalist and hold a variety of other opinions on the economy etc, and it’s those opinions that define one’s position on the ‘spectrum’ as it’s generally understood. Personally I don’t have much time for ethnic nationalism but don’t have a huge problem with those who do; civic nationalism or even patriotism appeals to me more.

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16. CL - September 16, 2010

Irish fascist-republican Gerry McGeough was on the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle for several years before he voluntarily resigned.
(Incidentally, does anyone believe that McGeough would now be on trial for attempted murder if he had remained on the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle?)

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17. Captain Rock - September 16, 2010

Flemish SS veteran Staf Van Velthoven was on the Comhairle Ceanntair of Dublin Official Sinn Fein in the early 70s. He arranged an anti-EEC protest with the neo-Nazi VMO in Belgium at that time. The point is, so what? I remember McGeough and nobody knew he was a fascist until he left Sinn Fein and set up Hibernian.

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CL - September 16, 2010

Perhaps he had a sudden conversion.
The Hibernian published numerous articles alleging that the international banking system is run by money-manipulating conspirators (e.g. Helen McClafferty “The Illuminati and Bilderberg Conferences” HIBERNIAN February 2007.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hibernian

Clearly one can be an Irish republican and be a fascist. And being ‘anti-banks’ is no indication of left-wing tendencies. The pages of the Hibernian were replete with anti-banking conspiracy theories. So the RIRA anti-banking spiel should be seen in this light, and not as some turn to the left.

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shane - September 16, 2010

The anti-banker theme has always been prominent among some Catholic groups. The Hibernian was always particularly silly, but I have seen similar articles in more ‘respectable’ traditionalist organs. Fr Fahey (whose books were promoted in the United Irishman into the mid-60s) wrote about the City of London and Wall Street being behind international communism.

I can’t see how one could be both republican and also be a fascist, since fascism by its very nature repudiates civic equality.

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Ciarán - September 17, 2010

I think what your comment illustrates is that the anti-banks rhetoric could indicate a turn to the right, or to the left. As for the Hibernian angle, I don’t think the RIRA have ever been vocal about religious matters.

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18. CL - September 17, 2010

Irish ‘republicanism’,-really existing Irish republicanism,- is different from republicanism in an abstract purist sense.
In Ireland one can certainly be a fascist and a republican. I’ve mentioned McGeough, but also an Irish republican much honoured in song and in story, Sean South of Limerick, was a fascist, being a member of Fahey’s Maria Duce. And as you say Fahey’s books were promoted in the United Irishman. So, by your definition, the United Irishman was not republican!

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shane - September 17, 2010

“Irish ‘republicanism’,-really existing Irish republicanism,- is different from republicanism in an abstract purist sense.”

Indeed, so why call it republicanism? Much of what we call Irish republicanism is just Irish nationalism.

“by your definition, the United Irishman was not republican!”

I certainly wouldn’t regard anyone who subscribed to Fahey’s theories as a republican. And no, I certainly wouldn’t regard Sean South as a republican. A Catholic Nationalist, yes.

I have no dog in this fight – (I’m not a republican, a nationalist, a fascist, a socialist, a left-winger or right-winger) – just making observations.

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Phil - September 17, 2010

A confused Englishman writes: Can anyone point me to a one-paragraph definition of (Irish) republicanism? There seems to be more to it than aspiring to establish a 32-county republic – presumably Sean South was sincerely anti-partition and anti-monarchy – but what? Socialism isn’t part of the definition, as much as I might like it to be, and secularism certainly isn’t.

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19. CL - September 17, 2010

And maybe Ratzinger doesn’t wear red socks when he shits in the woods.

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20. Jim Monaghan - September 17, 2010

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