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Political parties change… May 3, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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One thing that has stuck with me from splintered sunrise (and by the way, anyone know how he is?) was a point made about parties of the left – that often the internal political culture can be quite at odds with the political programme, that in other words the former can alter/distort/shape the latter in unpredictable ways. I’m reminded of Ken MacLeod’s observation that having been through the Trotskyist left he found the CPGB in the early 1980s the most open political formation in his experience, despite obvious issues.

But another aspect of this – and a point made by a friend of mine – is the way in which parties change over time. It’s an easy jibe to say that SF in 2017 isn’t the same as SF in 1987, or indeed 1977, but there’s an element of truth to it. Though many of those involved remain the same, though the overall thrust toward separatism etc has been constant it is not difficult to envisage a member from 1977 waking up today getting quite a surprise. And this functions across shorter time periods. Another friend involved heavily in anti-drugs campaigns has often wondered how those involved in 2000 have accepted all that has taken place since.

And the same is true of other parties. The WP of 2017 is – to my eyes – quite distinctly different to that which I was a member of in the 1980s and early 1990s. It could hardly be otherwise given the movement of people involved at that time. Programmatically much, though not all, is the same but the party culture is different. Recognisable to me, absolutely, but different. There’s an accentuation of certain things, a diminution of others. Talking to comrades who either left or stayed there’s a commonality and a shared language – shared assumptions in part but that distinctiveness is very real (and what I’ve found particularly striking is how transferable that commonality is and that shared language in respect to other Republican formations – SF most obviously, but IRSP too).This is a function of many different elements. As is true of the Socialist Party when compared and contrasted with Militant. Of course it is as wrenching to be ejected from another formation as it is to undergo a split or two. Or, and this is slightly different, the SWP today and that of the late 1980s – I say different because PBP functions in relation to the SWP in an interesting way.

Naturally time itself brings change. Different contexts, challenges, personnel, inflect an organisation, any organisation. But there are oddities. One of the strangest things is to hear people who were not alive or not politically active to any great degree talking about the conflict (and in relation to say parties on the republican left – feuds) as if that were still ongoing. Given that I’m fifty one and had no direct experience of the latter it is curious to see the hold it has (this is not to dismiss the feelings of those who were directly involved or there at the time, but simply to point up how attachment functions).

But perhaps that’s a different discussion entirely.

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1. An Sionnach Fionn - May 3, 2017

Change or die?

A political party or organisation must reflect current issues, problems and realities in order to be of relevance. Or to prosper.

That would be my main criticism of conventional republican or left-wing thought. When I hear certain republican representatives consistently referring to the “Free State ~” or “26 County Parliament” I know they haven’t a clue about electoral politics in this country.

I’ll give the old OSF/WP/DL folk this. They knew how to play the game! 😉

I dunno about the new WP.

Splintered Sunrise! Now there is a blast from the recent past.

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shea - May 3, 2017

i think there is a Free state nationalism that defines itself by the borders of this state. Its small but vocal. Free stater as a term to distinguish from all ireland or even global irish identity politics is fair no? Fenianism organised in england scotland, they elected people as a right on to the leadership structure of that organisation. The irish in the states played a part in that structures ventures. Being around republicanism have seen this replecated again and again with the irish community in scotland and england having very serious activists across all the groups. Free stater nationalism would call these people plastic paddies if they are not born here.

presume that is a part of the common language the post is talking about.

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Joe - May 4, 2017

Small but vocal? I’m actually quite tall for my age :).
But seriously, my folks were FF republican, I joined the WP for a few years way back, I speak and like speaking Irish. I follow the RoI soccer team. I don’t like or use the ‘plastic paddy’ insult at all – full respect to people of Irish descent living anywhere in the world (very especially if they are any way decent at the football and want to play for us).
But I’d sympathise with anyone in the ‘Free State’ who is, let’s say, not fully onboard with the idea that a ‘united Ireland’ would be a good thing.
You know, we’ve enough problems of our own making down here without taking on the minor distractions that would come with ‘renunification’ with our sundered brethren in the six.

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WorldbyStorm - May 4, 2017

On the other hand when situations change as Brexit has undoubtedly changed the context of NI it’s probably no harm to think about the future.

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Joe - May 4, 2017

The future of the 26 is miserable enough without heaping misery upon misery by contemplating a future UI.

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shea - May 4, 2017

fair enough, everyone has their own opinion and its to nice an evening to get in an argument about it. but stater nationalism would usually define itself by the borders of this state wouldn’t it. its not illogica if they hold that positionl that they are not into the whole united ireland thing.?

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Joe - May 4, 2017

Absolutely, the weather’s been great hasn’t it? And the sun doesn’t recognise the border.
Yeah maybe a distinction can be made between dyed-in-the-wool historical Free Staters and more pragmatic types who might be theoretically in favour of a UI but wary of the problems it might bring with it. So I guess there are some FG free stater types who absolutely don’t want anything beyond the 26 county state and are happy with that, but FG officially is in favour of a UI and genuinely so I’d say in the case of most of them. And then there’s plenty of all political persuasions outside of FG who are theoretically in favour of a UI but wary about it.

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2. Jolly Red Giant - May 3, 2017

On the issue of ‘splits’ – it is worth noting that the Committee for a Workers International is in the process of unifying with
Izquierda Revolucionaria

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Googlebot Politico - May 4, 2017

That would be the Spanish rather than the Chilean one I guess.

Number of members approximately? Or is that a secret?

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3. roddy - May 4, 2017

Anytime I cross the border and encounter blueshirt types ,I reference the “free state” constantly as I know it annoys them big time!

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Gerryboy - May 4, 2017

Do you get the feeling when visiting “Eire” that nobody here wants you or your unionist neighbours? People in the free state have become parochial n’est pas?

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