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Workers’ Party Easter Oration 2014 April 21, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
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Comrades and friends,

You are all very welcome here today to the Annual Workers’ Party Easter commemoration.

We are here to honour the men and women of Easter Week 1916, to rededicate ourselves to the noble and principled ideals that they set out to achieve.

We also remember with pride and honour all those Comrades and friends of The Workers’ Party who gave their lives in the struggle for a democratic, secular, socialist republic, a unitary state on this island.

Their sacrifice will never be forgotten and we pay tribute today to all those who contributed to the creation of The Workers’ Party as the modern embodiment of the struggle for freedom and the emancipation of the working class.

We do of course live in a hugely different world from that of 1916 but there is still great relevance and lessons to be learned from what the men and women of 1916 set out to achieve.

The struggle for national independence and political and economic sovereignty remain today vital matters of concern. British Imperialism may well have ceased to exist as a serious world power, but new forms of Imperialism and political and economic subjugation have taken its place.

In particular the United States of America seeks to dominate and control the entire world in its own selfish interests, and the European Union now acts solely in the interests of capitalism and is devoid of even the most rudimentary appearance of democracy or accountability.

In Ireland we are ruled by 2 administrations – in the Dáil and at Stormont – by people who may profess to adhere to the ideals of 1916 but in reality are far removed from the democratic, egalitarian, republican and socialist principles contained in the Proclamation of 1916.

Both administrations are made up of parties that subscribe to dominant capitalist ideology. Neither represents any challenge to the existing economic system which is the cause of social and economic misery.

As we approach the 100th Anniversary of 1916 we will hear all manner of praise for 1916 and even talk of rededicating to the ideals of the proclamation. Just as in 1966, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, we can expect much symbolism, pageantry and rhetoric. Already there has even been nonsensical talk of national and republican unity.

What we do not want, or need, is a futile and destructive process of all manner of groups and sects competing to claim the title of true inheritors of the ideals of 1916 and ownership of the holy grail.

What would be far more productive would be a national debate on the nature and character of Irish society today and how we might move towards a New Republic in which the values and political ideals of 1916 could be encapsulated in a new political and social order: a New Society which would embrace the values of the common good over individual greed and private profit; collectivism over individualism; democracy and citizenship and political and economic sovereignty.

Such a debate on the nature of society cannot ignore the fact that the fundamental struggle today for freedom and emancipation is the struggle between capital and labour. The greatest enemy facing the Irish people North and South today is Capitalism. It is Capitalism which is the cause of our social and economic ills. Capitalism cannot be reformed or ameliorated. Only its replacement by a Socialist society can bring social and economic freedom.

Ireland today is not the Ireland of 1916. We are no longer a predominantly rural and agriculturally dependent society.

The dominant political and social values are those of the international economic order … Capitalism.

The progressive trends in the independence movement have evolved as well.

Today those progressive trends are to be found in Socialism.

That evolution towards a coherent and scientific socialist ideology was organisationally mirrored in the creation of The Workers’ Party which reached a high point in the 80s. Since then we have had setbacks, reversals and even defeats. But the only hope for the achieving of political, social and economic freedom for the Irish people lies in a rejuvenated and strong Workers’ Party, a Party driven and governed by a strong Socialist Ideology.

If we are to be true to the ideals of 1916 in the world in which we live today, then Building the Party must be our prime objective.

We are under no illusions as to the enormity of this task.

A strong Workers’ Party represents the only hope that real change is possible in our country.

No other Party seeks to bring about the fundamental transformation of society that is needed in order to create a new political, economic and social order.

The Labour Party and Sinn Féin in particular – two parties that profess to speak for the working class – have failed our class.

In the North Sinn Féin (and their DUP partners) have presided over the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, educational disadvantage, privatisation of public services, and a health service in crisis. In the South they profess opposition but their one ambition is to be in government. They are akin to De Valera’s Fianna Fáil in the 30s. They are long in nationalist and republican rhetoric, long in populism whilst simultaneously embracing free market economics and big business.

The Labour Party, no strangers to coalition governments, have surpassed all previous betrayals of the working class and labour movements by their participation in this Fine Gael-led Government.

It is the working class that has borne the impact of devastating cutbacks and economic measures that have impoverished hundreds of thousands of our people and will continue to do so for years to come.

Local elections next month are an opportunity North and South to begin a fightback on behalf of the working class. The Party will be standing a small number of candidates. We are proud of the role and record of our councillors in Cork and Waterford, and are hopeful of not only retaining but expanding our number of councillors.

This is a vital part of Building the Party.

We cannot rely on past achievements but on our active involvement in the everyday struggles of working class people in our communities.

This involves bringing into membership of the Party new Comrades, most of whom will not have had our historical experience or background.

This must necessarily entail attracting more women and young people to the Party.

On this, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Cumann na mBan, it is worth noting how much of the women’s struggle remains to be won.

Right across society women continue to suffer discrimination. In Employment, both in wages and career opportunities; in terms of reproductive rights; as the primary carers; in fact in almost every walk and area of life.

But our concern for women must not just be about their role in society.

They are glaringly absent from the ranks of the Party itself.

We must not only increase the numbers of women in the Party but women must take on roles of responsibility, leadership, and authority in the Party.

In conclusion Comrades,

We are only too well aware that the Socialist Republic remains to be won. The question is – what do we do to bring it about?

The starting point must be to Build the Party.

Over the next weeks and months the detail of what that means in practice will be debated within the Party.

It is our task to ensure that it reaches a conclusion and that we set about the work that will be required to bring about a renewed and rejuvenated Workers’ Party.

Only that can bring about the democratic, secular, socialist republic we strive for.

Thank you for your attention Comrades.

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Comments»

1. Paddy Healy - April 21, 2014

The only reference to irish unity is the statement that many members of the Workers Party died fighting for socialism, republicanism and a unitary state. This is true. But what role does the fight for Irish unity play in the fight for socialism to-day? This is not clear! The view of Connolly was that the fight for unity and independence was an essential component of the fight for socialism in Ireland. If the WP disagrees with this, it should say so clearly.
A key question, a burning question in attempting to plot an immediate way ahead for Irish workers is the question of entering government with capitalist parties or supporting capitalist parties in government at Leinster house and Stormont. What is the WP position on this? Given its history, the WP position is not clear.
It is, of course, true that the fundamental question for humanity is capitalism or socialism as it has been for a century. But how do irish socialists contribute to a positive resolution of this issue? the Irish economy, north and south, is severely weakened and distorted by past colonial domination from which it has never recovered. The working class is segregated by partition. The EU represents a new form of imperialist domination under which a “cíos dubh” must be paid to international financiers for at least twenty years. What is the next step? The oration is silent on these issues.

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Garibaldy - April 22, 2014

I think Paddy if you read the speech a bit more carefully you’ll find reference to some things you think are absent.

I think Paul’s point about the fact that we cannot simply seek to replicate the analysis presented in the past is well made, and one that the history of the WP bears out has long been taken to heart.

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2. Paul Mc - April 21, 2014

“The view of Connolly was that the fight for unity and independence was an essential component of the fight for socialism in Ireland. If the WP disagrees with this, it should say so clearly”.

And so what if the WP did disagree with what Connolly said? Connolly was 100 years ago. Apart from emotional attachment and some general sloganeering about socialism, nationalism and capitalism, its very hard to find much immediate, direct relevance in Connolly today.

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Ceannaire - April 22, 2014

I don’t agree with all of that, but I certainly struggle to see how you can appeal to Connolly to support Irish unity given that Ireland had not been partitioned at the time of his execution.

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3. yourcousin - April 22, 2014

Can someone explain why “Build the Party” is capitalized multiple times?

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