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Socialists and left unity in Ireland 2020: Independent Left Reply to People Before Profit July 3, 2020

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From Independent Left, a timely response to the call for left unity from PBP. Many thanks to IL for allowing this to be reproduced here.

Socialists and left unity in Ireland 2020

To members of People Before Profit,

We commend your initiative, ‘let’s bring the left together to fight this government’.

Although the formation of a conservative government is a threat to working class communities, it is a threat that we can meet.

The fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been obliged to come together is historic. For decades, the main voice of opposition to whichever of these parties has led a government was the other party. And as we are all well aware, this was no real opposition at all. Discontent was carefully channelled down pathways that were safe for the Irish elite. Now, however, there is an opportunity to escape into entirely new and radical ways of thinking about the world and to popularise socialist answers to a massive, global crisis.

Sinn Féin will be the largest voice of opposition. This is a significant step forward compared to the old Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael posturing. And because Sinn Féin connect to the same working class communities that we do, there will be plenty of opportunity to both work with them, but also alert our class to the limitations of that party and offer a much more fundamental, revolutionary, change than does Sinn Féin.

When the crisis of 2008 hit, we were not well placed to resist the ‘shock and awe’ policies that saddled Ireland with enormous debt and cowed the trade unions with the scale of cuts that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil agreed were necessary to save the Irish ‘economy’ (the wealth of the Irish elite).

The crisis of 2020 and 2021 will be worse, economically. But this time there is a very different mood in the country. One where people will question the government’s priorities and loyalty to an elite who have grown enormously wealthy over the past ten years. Young people, especially, have been emboldened by referendum victories.

A coherent socialist vision for a world in which the wealth is taken off the rich and large businesses to solve the needs of housing and healthcare is going to be crucial. A vision which can assist movements take off at the speed of the Black Lives Matter protests and amplify them when they do happen. Not just on the streets, as you point to, but also with the return of the mass strike: the most powerful form of protest we have.

The role of socialists within these movements must be democratic and open. We can learn from and be led by these new movements. Our spirit should be in keeping with the disability rights slogan of the 80s: “nothing about us without us”.

This vision, as you rightly say, has to be identified with, ‘fighting racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.’ Of course, too, socialists should be proudly identified with the campaigns of those with disabilities for equal access and equal opportunity and with the need to help farmers make the transition from a cruel and unhealthy livestock industry to a climate and animal-friendly one. We should demand that public services such as health are taken into full state control, as we have seen the possibilities of doing this during the COVID-19 crisis. We should fight for public housing on public land. We must resist cuts to youth and community services.

The endless growth required by a capitalist society cannot deliver us the technology we need to create a sustainable planet faster than it makes our planet uninhabitable. A society that prioritises money over welfare cannot be green.

With these goals in mind, we look forward to working with you and creating a fruitful conversation that does indeed bring the left together.

The members of Independent Left

Comments»

1. Paddy Healy - July 3, 2020

Statements by People Before Profit, Independent Left an RISE are carried now on my blog
How should Socialists and Republicans throughout the 32-counties Respond to New Government and the effects of Brexit in the coming Months? How should we re-organise? Let the Discussion begin!

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Paddy Healy - July 3, 2020

The People Before Profit Statement is onits own behalf, not on behalf of Soidarity-People before Profit . The statement emphasizes the need for all-Ireland organisation of socialists, opposition to partition and the need for mass action on the streets, This is very welcome.

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Paddy Healy - July 3, 2020

Can we have statements from Solidarity, Socialist Party and Cross-Community Labour Alternative?

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2. Joe - July 3, 2020

Summer in Ireland. Time for an ‘initiative’ on left unity.

Liked by 1 person

3. Paddy Healy - July 3, 2020

I don’t blame you for being cynical, Joe. But the dislocation must not continue. Unfortunately some left unity initiatives at home and abroad in the past were no more than a membership raid. This must not happen again!

Liked by 1 person

4. Paddy Healy - July 3, 2020

I believe that the 1916 Societies should be invited to join the discussions. They are waging a great campaign against evictions.

Liked by 1 person

5. Alibaba - July 4, 2020

A long overdue plea for left unity and it’s good to see Independent Left welcoming it.

In my experience any departures/splits or launch of new organisations can be off-putting to people and young ones especially whose gut instinct is to demand unity and solidarity amongst left political representatives. I side with the idea of a combined challenge by the left on a principled basis meaning not going into coalition with FF or FG.

I don’t see the logic of founding a party in advance of building alliances or a new movement first. Developing a political strategy and concrete goals as well as avoiding the sectarian stunts and sneering antics that marred previous efforts is vital. I’m one for saying: how can we do it better than what went on before?  

Curious that PBP’s first key issue is: ‘That the modern Irish left needs to operate on a 32 county basis, standing in the tradition of James Connolly in advocating an end to partition through building a radical new Ireland.’ Joint action with others on shared policy platforms around housing, health, inequality, climate change etc. strikes me as a better approach to build the broadest possible basis for a bold new initiative whatever formation it takes (while not excluding an all-Ireland approach).

Liked by 2 people

sonofstan - July 4, 2020

“shared policy platforms around housing, health, inequality, climate change etc. strikes me as a better approach”

+1

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - July 4, 2020

Perhaps it’s an over-examination of the SF success and a reification of same as a political approach? Agree entirely though shared platforms etc are a better approach.

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Paddy Healy - July 4, 2020

There is no necessary contradiction between having shared platforms on housing, health etc BOTH IN The North and in THE South and at the same time having a political alliance between political organisations committed to a 32-county, indeendent and sovereign republic and organising All-Ireland actions. Are the PBP members and elected councillors in the 6-counties to be disregarded?

Liked by 2 people

6. alanmyler - July 4, 2020

I’m with Joe on this one.

Now if only the WP could get a bit of unity going…

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WorldbyStorm - July 4, 2020

🙂

I’m convinced the one big party approach is doomed to failure from the off at this point. I’m not sure that even if the disparate left parties/strands/formations combined under a single banner that that would necessarily be greater than the sum of the parts let alone reach into other areas of the populace in terms of building support. But then I’m an old pessimist.

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Paddy Healy - July 4, 2020

You are right! A big party formed by sinking fundamental political differences is worse than a waste of time. At the first political crisis it would split apart and we would be further back than where we started, Irish politics is extremely complex. There can be a flexible approach. But confining co-operation to direct economic issues is also a recipe for disaster. Some in such a co-operation could go on to be Free State ministers, wrecking the movement by joining Coalition with FG or Fianna Fáil as happened in the past.! There is much constructive discussion to take place.

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benmadigan - July 4, 2020

I think what they have in mind is more like the Scottish “All Under 1 Banner” than one big party

Liked by 1 person

Joe - July 4, 2020

Now if only the WP could get a bit of unity going…

Any efforts, mediation or anything, in that regard, do you know, alanmyler? Or has that ship sailed?

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alanmyler - July 4, 2020

I’ve heard nothing in the past week or two Joe. Meanwhile I see on FB that there was an online celebration today of the OIRA involvement in the Falls Curfew 50 years ago. Organised by the WP(CEC). Didn’t see any comment from the WP(NIBC) about it.

Liked by 2 people

benmadigan - July 5, 2020

here’s some info about the Falls Curfew aka the Rape of the Falls
https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/the-falls-curfew-july-3-5th-1970/

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7. roddy - July 4, 2020

Commentators up here put PBP as part of some mythical “centre”, “plague on both your houses” on the National question.This suits the narrative of irish unity being a dead issue only pursued by SF.They practice wishful thinking in that if by some miracle PBP could topple SF in West Belfast,its citizens could be turned unionist.

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8. Alibaba - July 4, 2020

Left unity is the only worthwhile political objective today. There will be politicisation and campaigns aplenty that workers will engage with in recession-ridden Ireland. A sense of urgency makes it necessary to figure what is feasible and fit for purpose. Bear in mind we will most likely need to stand apart from those who make plain they may go into coalition with FF and/or FG should the right opportunity present itself, for which read Sinn Féin.

I do not mean an amalgamation of existing left groups and forces which would be nonsensical. I do not mean “All under 1 banner” mass party fronts. Rather I mean a new political entity and one which contains different groups and independents. It could start as a platform or alliance as an attempt to build a broader party process. I propose the left works together to organise a bold and broadly-based new outfit and launch it to welcome in 2021 Oh yeah? That could win attention and be a cause for celebration in equal measure.

Liked by 2 people

Pangurbán - July 4, 2020

The ULA worked out well. Pity they couldn’t agree a position on corporate taxation

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