The Rising Tide – LookLeft 19 in shops now September 15, 2014Posted by guestposter in The Left, Workers' Party.
LookLeft 19 is in Easons stores and hundreds of selected newsagents across the island now. Still only €2 this issue includes former Workers’ Party President Séan Garland’s assessment of the career of Eamon Gilmore, an exclusive article by Greek economist, Yanis Varoufakis, on the failure of European Social Democracy, an interview with new Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger, an examination of the growing militancy among trade union members in Ireland and John Cooney on Scottish Independence and much, much more…
CLASS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The links between Irish corporate and clerical elites, Richard McAlevey investigates.
RACISM, NORTH AND SOUTH
Brian McDermott and Kevin Squires discuss the rise of racism on both sides of the Border.
THE OIREACHTAS’ NEWEST SOCIALIST
Kevin Squires meets Ruth Coppinger to discuss her aims in the Dáil.
CAN RENT CONTROLS WORK?
Osal Kelly discusses how to put a lid on a the bubbling housing market.
WHAT IS TTIP?
Dara McHugh and Padraig Mannion discuss the threat to democracy from the secretive trade deal.
RISING TIDE OF EXPECTATIONS Workers are seeking a new militancy in the trade union movement, Francis Donohoe explores.
THE FORUM Seán Garland bids an unfond farewell to Eamon Gilmore. Also featuring John Cooney, Anna Quigley, Cian O’Callaghan, Marie Moran and Gavin Mendel-Gleason.
WHAT NEXT FOR EUROPE?
Yanis Varoufakis and Terry McDonough discuss the fall of European social democracy and look at how the Left can rise instead.
Conall Parr looks at the legacy of radical Protestants in Northern Ireland politics
GLAM ROCK AND ANARCHY
Dara McHugh talks music, politics and petty theft with pioneering Dublin folk band Lynched.
NO NAZIS AT MALMÖ
Neil Dunne discusses the reactions of Malmö FC to the stabbing of a fan by neo-nazis.
To download the above document please click on the following link: WS MS 6 GO
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An interesting issue of the Workers’ Party magazine, Making Sense, from 1989. It has a broad range of articles, from Eamon Gilmore ‘arguing that socialists need to wake up to the realities of Ireland today’, Rosheen Callender examining labour markets, an interview with Alexander Cockburn, Lorraine Kennedy looking at the ‘myth of Mother Ireland’ and Eoghan Harris looking at the influence of Daniel Corkery ‘on the formation of modern bourgeois nationalist intellectuals’.
There’s also a short story by Liz McManus entitled ‘Baby’.
The cover article ‘Making Peace in Ireland: The responsibility of the Republic’ is by Seamus Murphy of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, and offers this potted outline of the history of the conflict on the island.
It is almost twenty years since the British government sent troops to Northern Ireland in the midst of serious civil disturbances. Two years later, the Provisional IRA came into being and launched a vicious campaign of violence against the Protestant population. Loyalists elements responded in kind, and politics gave way to terrorism. Efforts to find a political solution have the far failed, and the killings continue.
Murphy argues that ‘much southern confusion arises form subconscious guilt about the north’. And he continues that ‘the typical southerner… while… abhorring the appalling violence of the IRA and generally supporting the Dublin governments attempts to suppress it… cannot quite bring himself to consciously stand wight he unionist population against IRA violence or express support for the security forces in NI’.
He suggests that ‘the Republic must not lend a sympathetic ear to everyone claiming to be a spokesperson for the oppressed minority in NI. it is perfectly obvious that the democratic parties representing northern Catholics (SDLP, Alliance, WP) are engaged in a serious struggle with a fascist, authoritarian, violent and anti-democratic party (SF/IRA).
It must be made clear that every vote for SF, far from bringing the day of Irish unity closer, actually makes it more distant; it needs to be spelled out that supporting the IRA creates, not just a gulf between the two communities in NI, but a second gulf between the northern minority and the south where SF has no electoral future.
He continues that: precisely because the south has not suffered either at the hands of loyalist paramilitary violence or by security force excesses, it has less excuse for failing to reach out to the unionist community. If the southern community is to fulfil its moral responsibility of building peace, it must resist the temptation to give in to its own emotions and take sides, and instead work at the difficult task of being an honest broker for peace.
He then suggests that were the IRA to ‘achieve a united Ireland’ it is his suspicion that most in the south would abhor the means but accept the end, even if ‘it were built on the slaughter and expulsion of thousands of the Protestant community’. From this he argues that ‘What might in the long run make a difference would be a repudiation of its goal as well as its method; if the southern community is not to be complicit in the IRA campaign, it must build a wide consensus around the position that a united Ireland attained the IRA way could never be acceptable.
Meanwhile the editorial looks at the issue of ‘fighting poverty’ and argues that:
The voice of the poor was heard to great effect in 1798, and helped give birth to democracy. It would be a fitting celebration of the French Revolution if that voice was raised in Ireland to insist that the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity were accorded more than lip service.
Workers’ Party Easter Oration 2014 April 21, 2014Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
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.
Left Archive: Ireland – The Workers’ Party – Autumn 1987 December 30, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Workers' Party.
To download the above file please click on the following link: WP DOC 87
This document provides a sense of the image the Workers’ Party sought to project internationally during the 1980s, particularly – but not exclusively – in Europe. It came on foot of significant gains by the Party in the 1987 General Election where it increased its representation to four TDs and a sense that the party was in the process of making even greater gains.
The battle for alternative socialist policies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland received a major boost in general elections held in both areas this year, with substantial gains being recorded by WP candidates.
It notes the four TDs and that ‘in a number of constituencies the WP increased its vote substantially setting the scene for further gains at the next general election’.
The election results confirmed a further slide in support for the Labour Party and gave a crushing blow to the sectarian murder and terror policies of Provisional Sinn Féin, whose vote slumped by up to 50 per cent in many constituencies ending up with just 1.8% of the national vote. The Communist Party of Ireland ran five candidates winning only 725 votes, .005% of the national vote.
Since the election the WP has established itself as the leading voice on the Irish Left. The party has proposed talks with Labour for co-operation on social and economic issues, but these were not responded to positively.
Following the election WP President Tomás Mac Giolla pointed out the basis has now been set for a clear development of Left-Right politics in Ireland, something which the conservative parties with the collusion of Labour, had striven to avoid in the past.
‘For the WP the task of building a strong and militant Left Alternative in Ireland, in cooperation with other workers’ communist and socialist parties throughout Europe, is a vital task in winning state power for the Irish working class’.
It also discusses ‘Northern Election Gains’, arguing that it ‘significantly boosted its vote in NI… increasing its total to just under 20,000’. This is suggests ‘showed a reduction in support of rate policies of bigotry and abstention, with the votes of both the Unions parties and Provisional Sinn Féin declining considerably’.
Inside it has an article on the murder of WP supporter Thomas Emmanuel Wilson by the Provisional IRA. And in the course of that it argues:
The WP position on terrorism has been absolutely clear for a long time: we call for its elimination. For this is not an isolated incident. No one is safe: these gangsters have bombed cafes, public houses, slaughtered men and women indiscriminately. And we insist that to label people as ‘police agents’ is a gross distortion of reality.
Other articles discuss the ‘SDLP – Washington connection’, and mentions the Irish Republican Club of North America which ‘opposes secret US funding of the SDLP’. They call for ANC recognition as the ‘authentic representative voice of the majority of South Africans’ and there’s a photograph on page four of MacGiolla and Kader Asmal at a rally in Dublin meeting ANC representative Reg September.
It takes Ken Livingstone’s ‘ignorance’ on the North to task on the same page. There’s also news about a 1916 commemoration in Belfast. Another piece by Sean Garland discusses the WP as a vanguard party and there is a long pieces on Nicaragua.
As noted above, the direction of this is explicitly oriented towards an international audience, and in particular one that, for want of a better term, would be part of orthodox communism and those elements on the left that would orient towards that.
Left Archive: Drug Crime – A Dagger at the Heart of the Working Class, Workers’ Party, January 2001 September 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Workers' Party.
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To download the above file please click on the following link: WPDRGS
This document issued by the Central Executive Committee of the Workers’s and written by Sean Ó Cionnaith, is sub-titled ‘A Workers Party policy document on Crime, Policing and Detention and Civil Liberties in a changing society’.
In 12 pages it seeks to outline the WP view at that point on Drug Crime.
Crime from drugs is now a dagger at the heart of the working class . It is stopping a proper response to the core issue in society now -the fact that wealth and want are soaring side by side. Itn the strict sense working class communities are the only communities ravaged by addiction and the killer greed of those who get fat on it. The WP is clear on this issue – regardless of class – addiction always ravages and cheapens a person and destroys a family. But only among the working class does it take hold so powerfully that it threatens and ruins the quality of life in the Community.
It argues that the reason why addiction ‘flourishes amongst the deprived’ is ‘because that’s where the market is. Their market is the need for escapism and is born of hopelessness’.
In terms of combatting addiction and drug crime it argues:
There is a golden rule if you want to play your part as a lawful and successful movement against drugs and the widespread anti-social crime that goes with drugs, from the muggings to the murders. Work with the Gardai.
Under the heading ‘Exploiting the Crisis’ it suggests that:
The so-called ‘liberals’ in the upper class and socially insulated independent republics could be in for a shock a the next election. The provisionals use sectarianism to get their cut of power in the north. They are trying to win the same pose in the South by exploiting the genuine drugs scandal. If they get away with it and get influence it will not take the stupid ‘liberals’ who can’t welcome them enough into ‘democratic politics’ long to learn that leopards live by jungle law – and this particular Provo leopard has not changed its spots.
It continues under the heading ‘Civil Rights and the Rights of Society’
Delegates at the WP’s last ardfheis were clear and firm on drugs and crime, sentencing, the use and possible abuse of new laws and Garda powers. And they were angry at the stupid lack of support for addicts who want to quit while Justice Minister O’Donoghue appears proudly in endless newspaper photographs opening multi-million pound jails and reopening ‘refurbished’ areas of Mountjoy when it should be pulled down and rebuilt with the intention to help offenders not to offend again.
And it argues
While we understand the depth of the drugs crisis for those sometimes already on the ropes through the class system, it is still crucial to protect cvil rights and civil liberties and call to account gardai who abuse these powers, and corrupt gardai. We therefore call for the membership of specialist Garda units with special powers to be rotated every three years to prevent any sense of elitism developing through long familiarity.
Further sections engage with ‘Crime and Policing’, ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Prison and Detention’. There is also an Appendix which reprints a speech delivered by Ó Cionnaith at the Workers Party Ard Fheis in 2000 where he introduced the document ‘Crime and Policing’.
Left Archive: Nuclear Power & Ireland, Research Section, Department of Economic Affairs, Sinn Féin the Workers’ Party, c.1980 June 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin The Workers Party, Workers' Party.
This document, issued by the Research Section of SFWP is of particular interest appearing as it did during a period where the issue of nuclear power loomed large in the consciousness of Irish citizens due to the possibility of a nuclear reactor being constructed at Carnsore Point. That never came to pass, but the document attempts to engage with the issue.
It is divided into an Introduction, an overview of various technical and scientific aspects of the production nuclear power, a consideration of Alternatives and Buying Nuclear Power as well as a Conclusion.
In the introduction it notes that in 1978:
…we published a pamphlet on Energy which examined the question of providing electricity by using various fuels in order to produce electricity as cheaply as possible. We considered that nuclear power would not give us cheap electricity. Since then there have been further developments in relation to energy sources and we believe that a full and public debate on the issues involved in the energy problem for Ireland is essential.
At this remove it is interesting to see the mention of nuclear fusion reactors, which the text notes ‘Fusion reactors are not likely [to be in use] before about 2,000 or later’.
It notes the events at Three Mile Island in the United States where ‘mechanical and human failures led to a release of low-level radiation into the atmosphere around the Three Mile Island plant’. It continues ‘The anti-nuclear lobby seized on the accident as proof positive that all nuclear reactors are unsafe and therefore should be closed down. Countries with nuclear power plants, the vast majority of them, did not see the wisdom of closing down nuclear power plants’.
In light of the Chernobyl accident only a short number of years later the following appears somewhat optimistic:
The nuclear accident at Harrisburg caused expressions of concern around the world. Energy officials in the Soviet Union and elsewhere let it be known that while increased precautions may be taken the nuclear power programme will go forward.
In an interview with the newspaper Trud Fyodor I. Ovchinnikov, the Deputy Minister of Electricity and Electrification, said that the possibility of a slip-shod attitude existed where private interests, in this case those of the owner of the nuclear energy station, were regarded as of paramount importance.
The section on Alternatives is somewhat cursory, and argues that ‘what the anti-nuclear lobby are asking countries with an urgent and vital need for supplies of cheap energy to do is take a theory on trust, to make an act of faith in the possibility of producing great quantities of electricity in this way.’
The Conclusion clearly points towards the eventual use of nuclear power, albeit suggesting that in the context of reactors produced in the United States ‘the private enterprise approach is obviously not making sufficient safety provisions’ while ‘nuclear power stations built in socialist countries are more advanced on safety… but this may mean they are more costly to build and therefore will not compare favourably with the cost of stations run on conventional fuel’. Interestingly there is no mention made of British or other European reactors.
Left Archive: General Secretary’s Report, Ard Fheis Annual Delegate Conference 1990, Worker’s Party April 22, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Workers' Party.
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To download the above file please click on the link: WP GEN SEC 1990
This document provides an interesting comparison with the General Secretary’s Report from 1988 which was posted up previously. The latter was produced just prior to the events of 1989, this document produced just after many of them. By 1990 Eastern Europe states had moved from the orbit of the USSR although the CPSU remained predominant in that state. But remarkably during the same period the Workers’ Party had grown, increasing its Dáil representation to 7 seats. This newfound success is referenced explicitly as both opportunity and challenge:
It has increased our political and organisational opportunities but it has also increased the risks for the party if we make political or organisational errors. Our success has projected the strengths of the party into the public consciousness in a way never achieved before but it can also expose our weaknesses if we fail to deal with these.
And it notes that ‘on the positive side we have now achieved the ‘official’ status of a full political party in Dáil Éireann. We have a first class Dáil team with a high level of political acumen. We have a high level of credibility with the working class and a solid electoral base in the whole of Dublin, and an expanding base throughout the country. All this has helped to build the morale of the party members and supporters and has given some hope to the victims of cuts in health, education and social services, to the unemployed, and to those forced to emigrate. We now have a major national and international dimension to our representations.’
But it also notes that:
… it could be argued that our party is not ready for this greatly expanded role but we will never be ready unless we take bold steps to meet all the new challenges.
In terms of the international context it notes that:
Most importantly for us as Socialists, the Socialist Counties have undergone dramatic changes, economically and politically and are likely to see an even greater pace of change in the decades ahead.
And that reflects back to the following:
All of these factors and the many theoretical and practical questions for socialists vis-a-vis the Market, the changing structure of classes, ecology, the role of the State, democracy an the role of the Party, all require careful analysis in the Irish context.
And tellingly it continues:
The pace of change is now such that many Socialists are disconcerted and confused. this is particularly the case for those with a poor theoretical grounding or for those who based their politics on simplistic or dogmatic assumptions about the nature of the world or of change itself. In some respect the Workers’ Party has a number of advantages (and a number of weaknesses) when facing this new phase of political reconstruction. This Ard Fheis can, and will, I’m sure be a good start to us in this process.
As with the other General Secretary’s Report from 1988, an overview of the life of the party is offered across the broad range of its activities. Another notable point is that on page 24 under International Affairs it says;
In recent years we have achieved limited recognition from Governments in some Socialist Countries and have established a dialogue with other Workers’ Parties, Socialist and Communist Parties in many parts of the World.
Commenting on the 15th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement, Workers’ Party General Secretary John Lowry said, ” in many ways, not least the ending of terrorist campaigns, Northern Ireland today is a better place than before. However that should not blind us to the fact that 15 years on we have not realised the ambition of a new Northern Ireland free from sectarianism and division”.
“The DUP and Sinn Féin are managing division in society, not overcoming it. The political institutions themselves reflect and perpetuate sectarian and communal blocs, segregation and the number of so-called Peace Walls has actually increased and there is no movement on a strategy to tackle sectarianism. Indeed there has been a rolling back on commitments to increase the number of Integrated schools and youth unemployment stands at 25%. ”
“That is the reality of life in Northern Ireland today. It is time now to review the workings of the Assembly and Executive and to discard those things, like the designation of MLAs as Unionist or Nationalist and the make up of the Executive which reinforce sectarian division.”, said John Lowry
WP Easter Oration 2013 March 31, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
Comrades and Friends,
In 1913 an open act of class warfare known as the Dublin Lockout was perpetrated upon the working people of this country. Yet 100 years later we stand here refusing to be defeated, coming here to commemorate the Easter Rising and reaffirming our commitment to the establishment of a democratic, secular, socialist state on the island of Ireland – a Republic. We are here today in another period of intense class conflict. Once again the capitalists are waging class war on the workers. And once again the re-conquest of Ireland “must mean the social as well as the political independence from servitude of every man, woman and child in Ireland.” We must end oppression. Socialism – the assumption of political, social and economic power by the working class – is the only means to establish real freedom and genuine equality. We must identify who the oppressors are in today’s world; the means they use to exploit us; and the methods by which we can overcome them. This is the task that revolutionaries have set themselves since the days of the French Revolution and the United Irishmen; it is the task that the men and women of 1916 set themselves; and it is the task that we in the Workers’ Party have set ourselves. That, comrades, is why we are here today.
William Martin Murphy’s name echoes in infamy 100 years after the Lockout. But his was not a lone voice. His cohorts constituted the Dublin employers’ federation who had the open support of nationalist and unionist politicians, of clerics of all denominations, and a compliant media. Crucially they were backed by a government based in London that unleashed the forces of the state against the workers. In 100 years, who will be remembered as the oppressors of today? Future generations will recall the native bourgeoisie backed by governments based in Dublin and Belfast as well as in London, by nationalist and unionist politicians, by multitudinous clerics, by a compliant media, and by the forces of international capitalism as represented by the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank – the Troika.
What are the means which they have used to oppress? Since the recent crisis of capitalism began this vast array of forces has used austerity and sectarianism, neo-liberalism, and religion to save capitalism from its own contradictions, and to protect the profits of speculators. We have been told that cuts and privatisation are a collective act of ‘tightening our belt’. But what does the interest of Warren Buffet in the privatisation of our natural resources say about whether this is a good or a bad deal for the Irish working class? David Cameron, George Osborne and their LibDem lapdogs insist that the way to establish economic recovery in the UK is through more cuts. Meanwhile, the folks on the hill in the Stormont Executive think the only answer to the massive economic problems faced by the people of Northern Ireland is to cut corporation tax, to become more like the Republic or Cyprus.
But austerity isn’t working. The result of austerity has been huge unemployment, a return to mass emigration, and the destruction of living standards through inflation, attacks on public services, and cuts to wages and conditions for those still in work. Never content with such levels of oppression, capitalism continues to exploit the situation with further privatisation. It is not working in the Republic, in the UK, in Greece, in Portugal, in Spain, in Italy; it is not working anywhere. Austerity is a complete failure.
Or is it? We need to ask ourselves the question, what is austerity for?
Austerity is not natural. It is the cold and calculated response of the bourgeoisie to the collapse of the neo-liberal model first elaborated by Friedman, Pinochet, Regan and Thatcher. Capitalism’s ideologues in economics faculties, departments of finance, and media outlets explain this away, and try to convince us that this is the natural way for the economy to work. It is not.
Austerity means class war: class war waged by the rich against the poor. Austerity’s job is to protect the interests of international financial capital, and it has been working a treat. While the overwhelming majority of the population has been hit by falling incomes, the world’s richest have been getting richer. And they’ve been splashing the cash, with record sales for super-yachts in 2012. There have been plenty of bailouts, but it is not the people that have been bailed out. It is the speculators, the global golden circle, ably assisted by their hirelings in various governments. And when the governments have not done exactly as desired, the international bourgeoisie have, in true Brechtian style, disbanded the government and appointed a new one.
We have stated on many occasions that the right wing forces have managed to imbed their ideology amongst the people. While many see and recognise that they and their communities are suffering badly they do not see a viable alternative. They have been infected by the Thatcherite disease of ‘there is no alternative’.
The practical manifestation of that reality can be seen in the outcome of last Wednesday’s Meath East bye-election. The two traditional right-wing parties received over 71% of the vote. Add in Direct Democracy Ireland to the equation and the right-wing received almost 78% of the vote. It is appropriate that we congratulate comrade Seamus McDonagh and the Party locally and regionally for the campaign which they conducted. Seamus is from the county and lives in the constituency; he is an activist in many campaigns and particularly so in the CAHWT; within our resources an excellent campaign was mounted; uniquely there has been the very welcome sight of socialist and progressive TDs endorsing Seamus’s campaign in Meath East. As always we must analyse our own performance and result, but the over-riding questions for anybody seeking changes are: why did 62% of the registered electorate not vote? and how do we end the FF /FG duopoly?
In 1848 Marx and Engels identified that the modern state under capitalism acts as the executive committee of the bourgeoisie. This is still obvious today. What difference to the tweedledum and tweedledee politics visible since the inception of the Irish state has the supposed watering down by coalition partners made? Next to none. In his own day, James Connolly mocked the bourgeois nationalists and economists who claimed that the decline of the Irish economy in the 1800s was a consequence of the act of union, of moving parliamentary power from Dublin to London. He pointed out that this was to fail to understand how economics shaped reality. Similarly, any idea that merely by ending partition the economic circumstances of the working class will miraculously change is a fantasy. As long as the major parties of the Dáil and the Assembly are infected with the neo-liberal consensus, the same exploitation and oppression will still exist, and the class power of the bourgeoisie will remain untouched. There is no reason to suppose that any coalition with Mary Lou McDonald as Tánaiste will be any more of an alternative than that with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister.
If the neo-liberal policies of austerity have been one means of harassing the Irish working class, then sectarianism has been another. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfe Tone, the founder of the revolutionary tradition in which we stand. And we are still fighting the same struggle for the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter that he did. This single fact is the greatest indictment of how both unionism and nationalism have failed, and continue to fail. Both are reliant on continuing sectarian division. Both are obstacles on the road to socialism that must be overcome.
Unionism and nationalism have wasted the great potential of the Belfast Agreement. A strong bill of rights and the civic forum would have contributed greatly to creating the culture of active citizenship necessary to overcoming our divisions and developing an awareness of what we have in common. The Assembly parties acted quickly to kill off the civic forum, and the bill of rights is as far away as it ever was. The so-called Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy offered by the big two at Stormont is a sick joke. The state must use its power to encourage integration in our society – in education and housing in particular – not use its resources to keep our people divided on a “separate but equal” basis.
At Stormont, the nationalist and unionist parties work hand in glove. However, to maintain their position they need to keep sectarianism simmering, and to give the impression that they are standing up to the other side. Hence at a local level, we see anything and everything turned into sectarian squabbles: flags, playgrounds, even children packing shopping bags for charity. We have seen recently how dangerous this encouraging of low-level sectarianism is. The situation is made all the more dangerous by the on-going campaigns of dissidents who arrogantly and undemocratically assert their right to kill in the name of the people of Ireland when they know all too well that the people of Ireland reject and despise them.
While all this continues, attacks are made by the Stormont Executive on public services and on the living standards of the working class. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive – one of the major successes of the campaign for civil rights and an example of how effective state action can be – is being abolished without a peep from the parties that claim to be interested in human rights. The Housing Executive is not without its problems, but if there is one thing the current crisis has taught us it is that leaving housing provision in the hands of the private sector is a recipe for disaster.
The bedroom tax will be administered by Stormont. Two-thirds of Housing Executive tenants and 62% of working-age housing benefit recipients will be hit. Doubtless there will be some hand-ringing for public consumption, but the effects are potentially devastating. Who at Stormont is speaking for the working class in all this? No-one. We in the Workers’ Party must do so.
“The worker is the slave of capitalist society, the female worker is the slave of that slave.” With these words, Connolly got to the core of the oppression of women in the Ireland of his day. The publication of the report into the Magdalene Laundries reminds us of how shamefully working class women have been treated in Ireland. The place of women in Ireland was brutally illustrated by the tragic and shameful death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway. The time has come to put an end once and for all to the tragedy of Ireland’s refusal, north and south, to legislate for choice. We reaffirm our commitment to a woman’s right to choose, alongside a commitment to end the continued discrimination against women in employment, whether through lower pay or the social conditions and attitudes that make women more likely to end up in part-time and low-paid employment.
Comrades, the oppressors are known to us and so are the means they use to exploit. But what are the methods to defeat them?
The alternative to neo-liberalism is democracy. As austerity continues over the years ahead, and as things get worse for ordinary workers, those genuinely left people within the major Dáil and Stormont parties, in other parties, in trade unions, in the community sector, and voluntary groups will be faced with a question. Where do you stand? The balance of forces both north and south means that Left cooperation is essential. There have been many positive examples of this in recent times both north and south, most recently as already noted, with Left and progressive TDs endorsing Seamus McDonagh’s campaign in Meath East.
LookLeft is playing a vital role not only in getting our Party’s message across to larger numbers of people, but in also fostering cooperation within the left. It is vital that every party member and supporter does what he or she can to help develop the profile and impact of LookLeft. We have put our money where our mouth is, and the Workers’ Party will continue to work for greater cooperation on the left, north and south.
The alternative to both sectarianism and sexism is secularism. We welcome the establishment of the Marie Stopes Clinic in Belfast and recognise that the struggle against sexism in all its forms must remain a fundamental part of the struggle to build class consciousness and the conditions for the revolutionary transformation of Irish society. Intimately linked with the struggle for women’s liberation is the campaign for a secular Ireland, north and south. Much of what stands in the way of equality and social progress stems from religious beliefs being enshrined in law. Secularism is crucial to transforming our society in both the short- and the long-term.
When the failings of neo-liberalism can no longer be hidden,
When the political bankruptcy of the political elites north and south is stripped bare for all to see,
When the oppression of the working class by capitalism is intensifying,
Socialism is the alternative.
We honour the men and women of 1916 and our own deceased comrades not just in these moments of commemoration, but through creating a viable alternative to the oppressive, stultifying, exploiting politics of neo-liberalism – through the creation of a real future for ourselves and the future generations.
Connolly summed up his policy in a simple sentence. “Educate that you may be free”. We have set ourselves no small task – achieving full freedom for the working class. We know the method – educate, agitate, organise. We must take this to our communities, our workplaces, our schools, our colleges, our trade unions – everywhere. Only then can we bring about the revolutionary transformation of our society. This is the road to a democratic, secular, and socialist Republic.
Sunday, 31st March 2013
Who Benefits from Austerity? Public Seminar March 21, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
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WHO BENEFITS FROM AUSTERITY?
A Public Seminar organised by Wicklow Workers’ Party
Main Speaker: Dr Conor McCabe, School of Equality Studies, UCD
Reply: Padraig Mannion, Research Officer, Workers’ Party
Thursday 21st March, 8pm Strand Hotel, Bray Esplanade
We have had five years of Austerity: – cutbacks; hardship; falling wages; attacks on social welfare; rising unemployment; rising taxes and charges.
Every day in our communities, we see the victims of Austerity
But – who wins from Austerity?
And why are the government, the EU and the Troika so in favour of Austerity?
These presentations will be followed by a full and open debate and discussion chaired by: Frank Hayes, Chairman, Wicklow WP