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Some brief thoughts for the New Year on…the Further Left January 22, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.

Signs of life. And so there bloody well should be, with five TDs, or is it six, or seven – it’s hard to count them all in situ (though this weeks letter from the ‘Left TDs’ on Syriza was certainly a useful exercise in categorisation), relatively well run and successful campaigns under its belt and so on.

But, but, but, as always, what is the medium term strategy? Is it to see campaigns through to the bitter end, grow formations or alliances, win increased numbers of seats at elections, provide forms of opposition and resistance? All the above, of course, but in what measure?
That’s much harder to determine, and the fact of a splintered left doesn’t give one confidence that there is or can be one. I’m no great champion of ‘unity’ as such – it’s not going to happen any time soon, or later, or probably ever (Christ alone knows what things would be like in a genuinely revolutionary period). But some sort of greater sense of working in concert wouldn’t go amiss. There’s a fair bit of chatter around the edges of the campaign(s) and that’s not great, to put it mildly. The cynic in me, never far from the surface in discussions on the Irish left, wonders if we’re being prepped in case things go wrong with campaigns more broadly, but perhaps not.

As to the individual parties – well, one can’t help but think of unintended consequence when one regards the current state of play. The SP with 3 TDs (albeit badged differently), PBP with 1, 3 others. Let’s not even talk of the left social democrats of which by my count there are three. At best. Some noises off from outside the parliamentary tent from various previously unlikely quarters – and so much to be done in general that it’s often hard to count the victories.

But that unintended consequence. As Michael Carley put to me over Christmas, imagine had PBP allowed a certain P. Murphy a free run in Europe. Then quite possibly the SP might have the MEP but not the additional TD (and it seems unlikely, to put it mildly, that it can retain two seats in one constituency in the long run). That said PBP may think it better to invest in B Smith for 2015/16.


1. Jim Monaghan - January 22, 2015

A general point. I am shocked at the lack of ambition on the far left. What if AAA get say 4 seats and the PbP get say 3, then they will regard it as a huge success. Of course, they will say and hope that after SF goes into coalition their turn will then come. I expect a denial that their ambitions are that low, but I think that it is true. This should be discussed http://www.irishleftreview.org/2015/01/19/time-left-act/


WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2015

That’s an interesting point. How do we define success? Even partial success?


WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2015

But just on that piece, I wonder just how feasible it is. My sense is that various formations rightly or wrongly see themselves as big enough to maintain momentum for themselves and their alliances on their own. Simply put why would they jump in with other groups under a single shared name? From their perspective there’s no percentage in it (bar a fleeting electoral value, perhaps, at the election proper).


WorldbyStorm - January 22, 2015

And that’s even before we come to the crucial aspect that they do not regard others political approach as correct. It’s just one stumbling block after another which in recent times was only modified partially for the short burst prior to election 2011 and a shortish time after.

There’s also the question as to why a new formation however strong or tenuous would prosper more than the ULA did? The precise same factors are in play as were there in relation to the ULA.

And by the way, I’m not slagging any individual party or alliance off over this. The reasons for division aren’t minor but in certain aspects grounded in sincere and realistic analyses of difference.


ivorthorne - January 22, 2015

There are several configurations on the left in Ireland and they have significant intellectual differences. These differing interpretations and goals do not seem significant to most people outside of these relatively small parties.

However, the support that these parties have gained – and welcomed – from the masses over the past few years has little, if anything, to do with these finer points of theory and policy. When people vote for Murphy, Daly or Boyd Barret, most could not tell you what exactly the differences are between these candidates.

I wouldn’t criticise the parties and left configurations for their failure to agree their differences, but I find it extremely frustrating that at a time when the Irish working class has been attacked like never before, they have not been able to agree to keep it a polite disagreement and channel all of their energy into protecting the vulnerable. There is not excuse for the sometimes petty and hostile in-fighting within the Irish Left.

And no, “they started it” is not a good excuse.


irishelectionliterature - January 22, 2015

Even on a simple level to come to some form of agreement where other Left parties don’t stand where there is an existing Left TD or at least a distinct prospect of a second Left TD.


2. Paddy Healy - January 22, 2015

The proposal by Eddie Conlon and Brendan Young in Irish Left Review is a useful basis for discussion


3. Paddy Healy - January 23, 2015

What would the position of a “further left” alignment be on the Irish national question?

The sovereignty of the Irish People has been severely diluted in recent years
Huge debts are owed to international Banks
8 billion per year is being paid annually by government in debt servicing
But this is not all!
Almost all Irish commercial property and residential loan books are being sold off to vulture capitalists

Literally ,you cannot spend a penny in an Irish shopping centre without paying a “Cíos Dubh” to Texas Capital

The amount of money pouring out of the country from public and private sources to international capitalists is probably proportionately greater than that going to British landlords before Michael Davitts Campaign

We are almost solely dependent on multi-nationals for job creation and maintenance and therefore entgirely enslaved.

ANd AIB and PTSB is now to be sold off in accordance with advice from a top American Finance Company

What is the difference between MlNoonan and Dermot McMurragh!

Seamus Healy (WUA) is the only left TD who has raised these matters in the Dail in recent years!

Why not put “Restoration of the Sovereignty of the Irish People and committment to Connollys policy of Irish Unity Independence and Socialism” in the political programme of a new left align ment?


Gewerkschaftler - January 23, 2015

All good points about the illusion of sovereignty, Paddy.

But my guess is that national sovereignty in economic matters will remain unattainable under globalised capitalism, and it’s no good pretending otherwise.

Even under democratic socialism it would be a matter of nations/regions negotiating at various levels about who provides what and who use which services, what is best produced on the local level, what is bests produced elsewhere, and how we can work together to ensure whatever efficiencies of scale and coordination are to be had.

So short answer – national/regional economic sovereignty is a concept left over from the nineteenth century and we do ourselves no favours by pretending it is attainable.

Which is not to say we shouldn’t fight the existing order, but just not in the name of something which can’t exist.

Liked by 1 person

workers republicu - January 23, 2015

Connolly’s warning that unless you have a Socialists Republic,you will be ruled by the banks and the landlords has come true. Today the landlords are not the Anglo
ascendancy but the banks and
other financial institutions. It is they,with the muscle of the State that are evicting people from their homes.
Whilst I am not claiming that Cuba is a proletarian utopia, it does not pay the “Black Rent” to to international capitalism. The trouble with us is we have lost so much ground and short of a world revolution,it’s difficult to see how it could be ruled reversed,but we can, and must do everything to halt the race to the bottom. That’s why the current campaigns,i.e. Right 2Water, TTIP ,No fracking, FTT etc. are so important.


workers republicu - January 23, 2015

especially, opposition to ISDS ,


4. Paddy Healy - January 23, 2015

Come to thik of it, there has been no raising these matters by Sinn Féin deputies either.

I completely disagree with G
It is of course true that national subordination of weaker countrie cannot be achieved under global capitalism. But it doe not follow that special demads for national freedom and sovereignty should not be raised by socialists.
Irish people like those in the programme countries and the third world are suffering a double exploitation. These are objective realities felt by people and to fail to raise these matters would damage the cause of socialism.

Unconditional support for Irish Sovereignty, Unity and independence become huge mobilisers for socialism in the moder era as socialism is the only framework in which they can be achieved.


Gewerkschaftler - January 23, 2015

I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree there on a comradely level there Paddy.

I’m not arguing against political independence and unity in Ireland’s case, and I’m definitely of a mind that we should not participate in NATO as a ‘partner’, I’m just saying that on the level of economics (which largely determines the extent of that peace-time independence) the only ‘sovereign states’ are currently the US and China.

Yes, something like the coalition of left-leaning Latin American states can counteract the power of the two main empires, but the regaining of power comes from the coalition, not from the individual nations.

A similar situation could apply to a coalition of those European states who have recently come to be ruled by the Troika (either explicitly or internalisation of Troika ‘values’) who, starting with Greece, see the opportunity of pushing back against that rule, but again, the power would lie in the coalition, not the nation states themselves.

Hoch die internationale Solidarität!


5. Irish Sovereignty And The Political Realignment of The Left | Paddy Healy's Blog - January 23, 2015

[…] Gewerkschaftler – January 23, 2015 […]


6. Paddy Healy - January 23, 2015

From Roger Cole
I agree with you. PANA has focused on advocating the right of the Irish people throughout the whole of the 32 counties to have their own independent foreign policy, with positive neutrality as its key component because it was our view that the ruling cast intended to integrate the Irish Army into the EU/US/NATO military structures. This military integration only mirrors Ireland’s integration into the EU/US economic financial system.
Any “left” alliance that does not focus on advocating the termination of our military integration into the axis or our virtual total economic integration into the EU/US and placing sovereignty, unity and independence at the centre of its political analysis in my opinion is not left wing at all.


Roger Cole
Peace & Neutrality Alliance


7. CL - January 23, 2015

There was a time when being against imperialism was a key component of a left wing position.
Now apparently one can be leftwing and agree with the ‘imperialism is good for you’ position of Niall Ferguson, Bill Warren and other propagandists.
The populist/nationalist Sinn Fein is no longer anti-imperialist.
Which raises the question: just what type of political formation is Sinn Fein?


8. Paddy Healy - January 24, 2015

Gewerkschaftler says that we should not mislead people to the effect that national sovereignty of Ireland is achievable under globalised capitalism. I agree. But that does not mean that we should not raise these legitimate demands that correspond to the relief of real grievances and real injustices endured by real people. As socialists we must explain that the demands can only be met under socialism.
In these circumstances these demands can be powerful mobilisers for a socialist transformation.


9. Paddy Healy - January 24, 2015

The position of the Socialist Party which is essentially unionist on the national question is a particular problem. The position of SWP is (at best) ambivalent on the issue (See electoral statements of Eamonn McCann)
These positions severely weaken the Irish left.


10. Paddy Healy - January 25, 2015

Reduction in Economic and Political Sovereignty of The Irish People is set to intensify over the next 20 years. This is due to the implementation due to the implementation of the Fiscal Treaty and continued saes of Irish assets to international vulture capitalists.
Read More http://wp.me/pKzXa-ps

This is why restoration of sovereignty must be a vital part of a political programme of a new left alignment
Germany had met all three key provisions of the Fiscal Treaty when it was ratified !!! http://www.dw.de/german-economic-growth-flat-in-2013-but-deficit-under-control/a-17362284



Read More http://wp.me/pKzXa-ps


11. Paddy Healy - February 1, 2015


Author: Muirhevna
Eddie Conlon and Brendan Young’s article (it is a bit unclear if both wrote this) is very welcome but doesn’t address the two elephants in the left’s room – namely the national question and revolutionary groups – both of which are stuck in a period 100 years ago and are equally dated.
Gewerkschaftler is right to criticize Paddy Healy’s old style nationalism, even if he does call up ‘saint’ James Connolly. After 25 years of unabated globalization, there are no clear ‘nations’ left. Each state’s boundaries are sieves allowing multi-cultural ethnicities to get established, and they are welcome. Are we going to ask Nigerian and Polish workers to kindly leave our country while we beat the national unity drum – again?
The article refers to the mutual dis-trust of the SP (aka AAA) and the SWP aka (PBPA) which stymied the development of the ULA. But doesn’t refer to their vision of a revolution around every protest corner. Again these groups are stuck in the past – 1917 Russia. Large scale water charge protests do no a revolution make.
More particularly these groups rubbish liberal democratic elections. And while it is true that corporations and the professional class have a disproportionate influence on most parties, these elections are what the vast majority of people regard as ‘democracy’. But, joy of joy, Syriza has just shown what can be done even with liberal elections. And Syriza also give the lie to Barry’s dismal write off of any party with ‘Left’ or ‘Socialist’ in the title. No, socialism is back on the agenda. And regarding Barry’s ‘single issue will not fly’, he didn’t read Eddie and Brendan’s article closely which lists a variety of commitments which have the potential to attract a good wide range of activists, including feminists.
The one missing element in these commitments is the environment. While this is given mention earlier, there is no serious effort to address red-greens and attract in disaffected former Green party types.
I agree with Alibaba’s suggestion that there be no veto for fractions, indeed there should be no fractions in a new party. That might make the party smaller, but would give it a chance of a longer life. Members, wherever they come from, need to commit to one party and it should not be open to be abused as a stalking horse for small sectarian groups.
After years of neo-liberal policies (not least from the Labour Party) and globalization, we need to see this project as one for the long-term, even a generation. And we need to develop new theory of what socialism means today. To this end the “Irish Left Review” and even “Look Left” magazine are good starts in that direction.
Finally, to avoid a problem the ULA ran into, if a party long these lines is to have a presence in the next elections, it needs to be registered, and soon. Maybe the Germans do some things well. How about “The Left”?


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