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RISE join PBP February 28, 2021

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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Not unexpected but good to see. I wonder will they manage to make inroads on potential Green votes as an eco Socialist Party.

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1. Aonrud ⚘ - February 28, 2021

Sounds like a positive development. It’ll be interesting to know if it changes the character of PBP at all, or just increases their numbers.

It looks like they’ll be a ‘RISE Network’ within PBP rather than disappearing altogether. I’ve no idea what that means practically in the organisation (similar role to SWN?), but good luck to them.

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eoghan - February 28, 2021

Basically the same as the SWN’s position within PBP yeah, with further future negotiations between the networks to try and avoid any hints of factionalism emerging within PBP. The conditions of entry were that they’d have two positions in PBPs steering commitee for their first year also

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GearóidGaillimh - February 28, 2021

Yeah, similar to SWN. RISE will continue to publish Rupture in the same way that SWN publishes the Irish Marxist Review, and so on

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2021

Okay, that sounds fairly positive.

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2. Jim Monaghan - February 28, 2021

Any sign of negotiations between Independently Left and PbP. Now that hopefully PbP is not dominated by the SWN, this should be possible.

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sonofstan - February 28, 2021

What about that network of half-in half- out Greens?

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GearóidGaillimh - February 28, 2021

Rumours of them setting up their own party but waiting to see if Hourigan leaves

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3. GearóidGaillimh - February 28, 2021
4. pettyburgess - February 28, 2021

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/rise-joins-pbp

RISE is joining People Before Profit as a network. This decision follows a year of discussion and common work and a vote by overwhelming majorities of both RISE and People Before Profit (PBP) members to combine our efforts. The common aim is to build PBP as a broad ecosocialist party, which utilises people power to fight for the interests of workers and communities.

People on the socialist left can get sick and tired of being asked “why don’t you unite? Why don’t you just get together?”. The question is sincerely meant, but it often overlooks very real political incompatibilities, disagreements that are so deep that they would turn any attempt to unite into a disastrous mess. Sometimes though, the question is a good one. If you are serious about changing the world, you have to be willing to ask yourself if you are duplicating effort unnecessarily or wasting energy doing things separately that would be better done together.

In the case of RISE and PBP, we come from different parts of the left, different traditions. But it’s no accident that during the pandemic our organisations have led the call for a Zero Covid strategy, and have both been supporting workers like the student nurses, Debenhams workers and taxi drivers. It’s also no accident that we have converged on a common understanding of the centrality of the environment. By joining PBP we will be strengthening the call for ecosocialist change to combat the climate and biodiversity crises. We urgently need system change if we are going to avoid catastrophic climate change.

RISE has its disagreements with others in PBP. But these are divergences of opinion that can and should be debated and discussed fraternally within the framework of a common party. RISE will function as a network within PBP and its members will continue to contribute its ideas to Rupture magazine and the podcast Rupture Radio.

We urge all of our supporters to seriously consider joining PBP and helping to build Ireland’s ecosocialist party into a powerful force in society.

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Colm B - February 28, 2021

This is a genuine question; what structures exist within PBP to democratically elect the party’s leadership and decide on policy?
I think you will agree that internal democracy is a fundamental question not an organisational quibble. After all, if I’m not mistaken one of the reasons RISE left them SP was because of the perceived lack of democracy within that party.

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Colm B - February 28, 2021

Btw my own view on this development would be cautious but constructive: a multi-tendency, democratic, broad radical left party would be a very welcome advance but I m not sure we’re there yet.
My reason for caution is the record of the SWN/SWP. I have never known any group within that tradition to allow full democracy within an organisation they control. However, it is possible that some SWN members have broken with that model or, uniquely, the whole Irish organisation has made a decisive break with a core part of their tradition.

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E - February 28, 2021

Hi Colm.. just sat though the PBP AGM – Conference via Zoom yesterday and there the 14 member Steering Committee was elected via electronic ballot to delegates.

Yes as for the SWN I believe a generational shift is under way, certainty with the end of the slate vote. No doubt problems with happen but I am certain PBP has the space to allow them to be discussed openly.

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roddy - February 28, 2021

Just one question and I’m trying to get an honest answer.What is PBP position on the PSNI.I ask this as someone who realizes that the much touted “universal support for policing” amongst communities is not as strong as made out. Virtually nobody supports attacks on them but in many areas there is just a bare toleration.

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GearóidGaillimh - February 28, 2021

PBP would be very critical of PSNI particularly over prosecution of Black Lives Matter protestors and the Sean Graham commemoration arrest recently.

And yeah, 14 steering committee members are elected by delegates at the AGM. Two RISE members will be coopted for this year also.

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Colm B - February 28, 2021

Well dropping the slate is certainly a positive development.

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GearóidGaillimh - February 28, 2021

Good article on the undemocratic nature of the slate system in the first issue of Rupture so would certainly chime with RISE’s arguments

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benmadigan - February 28, 2021

“a multi-tendency, democratic, broad radical left party would be a very welcome advance”
I agree.
It need not even be one party as such, just a consensus network/framework that would ensure self-defeating rivalries were abandoned.
It should be possible to agree on common objectives, leaving each party to propose its own initiatives that others may not support.
Similarly, with agreed objectives as the basis of a shared election manifesto, candidates from whichever party is strongest in that constituency should be supported by all the others

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eoghan - March 1, 2021

For what it’s worth I’ve been in PBP since 2019 and haven’t heard any complaints about the internal democracy from comrades and have seen no major issues myself. Also the necessary shift from in-person meetings to online due to COVID has made the party’s democratic processes more accessible to everyone, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lessons from this period are kept on to increase participation.

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pettyburgess - February 28, 2021

Hi Colm,

I’ve been a PBP member for precisely one day and I’ve observed one meeting, so I’m reluctant to start offering instant assessments of the details of how it operates until I’ve a bit more experience.

But from that one meeting I can partly answer your questions as it was the AGM (ie conference). There was a vigorously contested election for the steering committee, not using a slate. There was general agreement on most questions but also a lot of disagreement and argument about some big strategic issues. There were counter posed motions with substantial minorities voting against the winning position. It’s not a rigidly controlled, conformist sect of the sort I’m pretty sure you are thinking of.

That said, it is perfectly possible to combine a freewheeling approach to argument with various kinds of anti-democratic behaviour and I’m not really in a position to judge.

One of the parts of the deal that brought RISE into PBP is that both RISE and the SWN refrain from bloc voting, ie imposing an essentially factional disciplined line on their network members in discussions in PBP. It was certainly my impression of the AGM that SWN members were regularly on different sides of issues. The SWN’s central leadership did win out in the main arguments, but that’s not in itself undemocratic when they do in fact have majority support.

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pettyburgess - February 28, 2021

I should also say that PBP structures are quite different from those of RISE (as an independent organisation or now as a network). But we don’t really expect everyone else in the movement to share our bordering on the “horizontalist” approach to internal transparency and discussion, monthly general meetings, etc. Our views on this stuff are very much minority ones (and parts of our approach would be very hard to scale up).

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Colm B - March 1, 2021

Well that’s all grounds for optimism. I have no doubt of the commitment of RISE members to internal democracy but equally, like many on the left, my experience over the years has taught me to be very wary of the SWP, especially after the disgraceful rape scandal of a few years back (in the UK SWP). It would take a bit more than what you’ve outlined to convince me yet that there’s been a genuine change. That said, people and organisations can and do change, I should know that as someone who evolved gradually from stalinism to revolutionary democratic socialist over many years.

It’s to early to talk of a new dawn but I look forward to hearing from RISE members as the process continues.

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E - March 1, 2021

Just to remind you Colm about the British SWP rape cover up (for that is what it was).. this caused a real rebellion amongst the newer Irish SWP activists and showed the new generation which was coming forward in the now SWN, so Dublin did not follow the diktats of London this time and it was great to see tbh.

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Colm B - March 1, 2021

The insiders are positive and argue that significant change has happened, outsiders are a bit more wary. Ok, that’s par for the course.

I take on board what the new and old PBP members have said, so I guess the obvious point is: what happens to RISE within PbP will be indicative of the reality. If they can operate openly as a tendency and they remain happy with the operation of democratic norms then it’s a strong indication that their decision has been vindicated. Keep us posted.

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5. roddy - February 28, 2021

While PBP criticizes PSNI on individual actions,they seem to be not very up front on the issue generally .The establishment media give them an easy ride in the hope they will take votes from SF but would run a mile from them if it became apparent they were anti PSNI in general .Similarily they recieve a portion of their vote from anti PSNI “Republicans” who would run a mile if they stated the PSNI were “acceptable”.Some time they are going to be asked “do you regard the PSNI as the legitimate policing body for all areas and they will have to say yes or no. Either answer will cause them trouble. And while SF officially endorse PSNI ,much of their base and supporters (including myself) would be much further behind in the acceptance stakes.Any interaction would be awkward ranging from a “forced” politeness to a sullen “get away as quickly as possible” !

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6. Alibaba - March 1, 2021

Cynical thoughts: Relaunched PBP is something that suits the objectives of two organisations. The once-named SWM, then SWP and now-named SWN is stealing a march on SP, adding to their recent misfortunes by gobbling up RISE along with its environmental crisis baggage. What next? SWQ — who will accommodate those queuing to join SWN. 

Meanwhile RISE with small numbers saw PBP as the only show in town for its growth prospects. A PBP divvy-up of Dáil speaking times and PR opportunities will do ARISE nicely too. People Rise Before Profit and PBP Rise.

Sceptical thoughts: Uniting with a shared brand and broad-based platform is substantially correct. But organisational arrangements are as important as political ones. They are needed to ensure that democratic norms are respected, that participant groups have representation on any steering committee, that financial arrangements are sorted etc. Issues like this need to be addressed clearly in advance. Were they? Will there be any meaningful ownership by entrant groups or non-aligned individuals in the re-shaped PBP? Much remains unclear.

Sober thoughts: PBP is a well known brand that goes straight through to radical left sentiment.It was and remains a front organisation: same but different with the inclusion of RISE. If it’s the case that PBP now aims to promote a ‘broad eco-socialist party’, this is to be welcomed. To be fair, PBP has long since sought a ‘broad left alliance’ and contacts actively those who seek change whether out of protest actions or to anti-capitalist pulls.

But more to the point we know why the recent development happened. In the past RISE argued for a party with a network structure where groups can ‘… organise for their views and keep their identity while constructively working as part of a greater whole.’ Was this quote just a phrase RISE was going through? Joking aside, I hope not. These are important rights generating an open-minded culture. Well and good of RISE to seek them (and better still if they got them without unacceptable constraints).
 
If this effort at strengthening the left manifests itself in more cooperation and preventing duplication of efforts, discussing differences openly, as well as having a focus on activism outside the Dáil, who wouldn’t want to show respect for that?

Judging thoughts: PBP has an ambitious agenda: to build a broad eco-socialist political entity, if as they say they will. A revamped PBP might be well placed to attract attention if it is run more or less appropriately. A growing PBP could develop as an agitator force and become the beneficiary of any improvement in struggle and politicisation.

Supposing your eyebrows are arching, well fair enough. This is not, by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, easily done. It could arguably be the case there is a glut of too many conditional ifs to make this new initiative workable. What’s more, even if other forces get involved, the controlling influence of PBP leading individuals may never cease. Activists will be wary with good reason, especially seasoned ones. Does that mean we should give up on this endeavour, though? 

To put it frankly, many are weary of the revolutionary left which is riven with predatory antics and ideological fixations. The radical left, excluding SF, is troubled by not having the benefits that come with having a party apparatus. It’s time to put things in order and stop grasping politically speaking. Every group wants to grow itself —of course it does —but it’s best done in a uniting-fighting-fit-for-purpose way. 

Anything that boosts the left is in everybody’s interest across the left-of-centre political spectrum. Despite misgivings, I strongly feel it is far better to hope for the best to which it might lead, but guarding against the worst while keeping caveats in mind. A final thought — observe what PBP actually does, not just what they say they will do and then reconsider the outcome.

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