The following letter was sent to the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) on 3rd January as part of an exchange of emails on the nature of Right2Change (R2C) and Sinn Féin. Eugene McC did not answer my initial question on whether their support to R2C also involved electoral support to Sinn Féin but instead referred me to their recent major programmatic statement “A Democratic Programme for the Twenty-First Century” as evidence that they are far more revolutionary than their choice of bloc partners would indicate. My critique of that document is reproduced below.
The capitalist economic system that we live under is prone to cycles of boom and bust and is based on exploitation of working people. It is a society in which the wealth created by working people is owned and controlled by a small minority. It is incapable of bringing about a civilised society: it is built on and sustained by inequality.Economic power, and therefore political power, is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. All aspects of our lives are controlled by their institutions, their state, their laws. Working people need to change the substance, content and objectives of democracy to reflect our interests.The capitalist economic system prevents the development of a truly just and democratic society…
…the capitalist economic system and its institutions cannot be reformed, and we are firmly of the belief that only socialism can truly bring about the necessary economic, social and political changes that are really in the interests of working people and our country.
Not alone must the cuts of the austerity years be undone, including budgetary cuts to health and education, restoring public-sector pay and pensions, restoring child benefit payments and unemployment welfare, but much deeper economic and social change is also needed. Workers, who produce all the wealth in society, must have control over how it is distributed. They should decide the economic and social priorities in a truly democratic society, a new Ireland.
Our immediate task is geared towards a form of national revolution to achieve democracy, sovereignty, and independence, comparable to the original Democratic Programme of the first Dáil Éireann.…We see the implementation of this Democratic Programme as laying the basis for radical social change and for an advance towards socialism, by highlighting the contradictions inherent in the system.
Active reconsideration of our continued participation in the euro zone, which is clearly tied to continuing austerity, the repudiation of the debt and the implementation of more comprehensive policies to reduce dependence on international finance capital are fundamental to achieving real change and are the only basis on which a sovereign, democratic republic can be built. This question cannot be ignored.
Voting every few years to elect an institution with limited power does not meet the needs of working people. People like Connolly and Pearse had a more substantial vision of democracy and participation by the Irish people than the one imposed on us, which continues to fail to meet the people’s needs and aspirations.…A real people’s democracy should be based on the full democratic control by the people over all decisions affecting their lives. While we work towards full democracy, there are many interim measures that should be implemented. All local and national budgets should be published as draft budgets and subject to an extensive citizens’ debate process every year; and all elected representatives should be recallable by petition or referendum.
Regressive parts of the Industrial Relations Act (1990) should be repealed to allow workers to participate in and support solidarity strikes and secondary picketing. The imposition of the British anti-union laws has also hindered workers in the North of Ireland from defending and advancing their interests. All these anti-worker laws must be challenged and defeated.
A sovereign democratic republic is needed for the twenty-first century, to provide a decent and fulfilling life for all citizens in Ireland. The essential parts of this programme all point towards the building of a new republic and a new state, a democratic society where women and men are equal, with equal opportunity to fulfil their aspirations, that can overcome the effects of the long history of the oppression of women, a democratic society that is non-sexist, non-racist, and secular. A new constitution is needed to guarantee this and to make these changes lasting, to embed them in the very structures of a new democratic, sovereign republic.
“Without a referendum, there will be nothing a future government can do to prevent this.”
“That’s why water will continue to be the single most important issue for the upcoming general election. This one policy exposes the priorities for political parties and politicians.…“It’s our job to hold them accountable…”
Brian Gould and Bairbre Flood will be in court on 4 January. Like Karen, Vincent and myself from Cobh, they are charged with obstructing the installation of water meters.
I urge all anti-water charges campaigners able to do so to attend this protest.
Cobh anti-water charges activists charged over peaceful protest. Court hearing in Midleton this week
The Director of Public Prosecutions has brought formal charges against the three Cobh anti-water charges activists arrested for their peaceful protest against water meter installations in the town on 30th October last year (2014).
The three are charged with obstructing the exercise of a water services authority, to wit, Uisce Éireann, of powers vested in it by virtue of the Water Services Act, 2007. Contrary to Section 12(1)(a) of the Water Services Act 2007 and Section 8(4) of the Water Services Act 2007. Their first court appearance is at 10:30am on Thursday, 17th December at Midleton court house.
The three Cobh residents concerned are Karen Doyle, Vincent Cunningham and Alan Gibson.
Karen Doyle said “This is another example of political policing as the government seeks to ride rough-shod over the wishes of a majority of the Irish people who are refusing to pay the water bills. We will not be silenced by this intimidation and will continue our protests and opposition to these hated charges.”
Alan Gibson said “Given the wide-spread opposition to meter installations among the Cobh community last year – which led to Irish Water having to leave our town with most meters uninstalled – we expect to be well supported in Midleton on Thursday and at any future court dates.”
Vincent Cunningham said “This is an outrageous victimisation of working people merely exercising our constitutional right to protest. We are confident the charges will be defeated.”
For further information ring Karen on 087-2685083 or Alan on 083-1175217
I and two other anti-water charges activists from Cobh, Karen D and Vincent C, have received a summons to appear at Midleton courthouse on Thursday 17 December in relation to our arrest on 30 October last year at a protest against the installation of water meters in Cobh. The formal charge is that we: “did obstruct the exercise of a water services authority, to wit, Uisce Eireann, of powers vested in it by virtue of the Water Services Act, 2007. Contrary to Section 12(1)(a) of the Water Services Act 2007 and Section 8(4) of the Water Services Act 2007.”
We will be exploring all possible legal avenues, but it is important to recognise that this is primarily a political issue that touches the very core of how our society is run.
These charges are only one example of increasing state repression against the anti-water charges movement as the government tries to deal with the fact that over half of water bills have still not been paid. Others are the very serious charges against the Jobstown protesters, along with continued arrests of activists in communities all over the country, and the setting up of special garda units focusing on the protests against meter installations.
Cobh is being targeted because we were particularly successful in resisting attempts to install water meters in the town. These court proceedings could be a precursor to Irish Water attempting to return to Cobh and are intended to scare the community away from offering any resistance. On the contrary, our arrests last year helped to deepen the level of organised opposition to meter installations in Cobh and I am confident that these court cases, and even any convictions, will have the same effect.
The government know that their propaganda offensive is not working and now must resort to the iron fist that lies behind the rule of capital. This is a sign of political weakness. They fear that the beginnings of working class self-organisation we have seen in the anti-water charges movement, particularly in communities organising against meter installations, may become generalised as a way of responding to the continuing attacks on working people that used to be called “austerity” but are now happening in the name of “recovery”.
Even more they fear that some of those activists will draw the political conclusion that capitalism as a system is the problem and will start to discuss, debate and organise towards the creation of a political party that bases itself not on the shell-game of parliamentary politics but on strengthening and deepening, in both word and deed, those green shoots of working class organisation. This is what we need – a revolutionary Marxist party committed to the overthrow of the long-rotten capitalist system.
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