Election statement for ULA national steering committee

See revolutionaryprogramme.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/alan-gibson-election-statement.pdf for my election statement for one of the two independent/non-aligned positions on the ULA steering committee to be elected at the ULA conference on 28 April.


14 Responses to “Election statement for ULA national steering committee”

  1. 1 Jim Monaghan
    April 11, 2012 at 14:27

    Why combine the slogans for a Workers Republic and a Socialist Federation of Europe. Could they not be separate.I agree that an isolated Socialist State is doomed. Revolutions start somewhere but to win have to win everywhere, so to speak.

    • April 11, 2012 at 14:42

      I think it is a necessary internationalist perspective which I would apply to any country but it also has a political usefulness in the Irish context because it points away from nationalism that, for understandable reasons but with negative political consequences, is prevalent in the Irish left – and I would include in those negative political consequences the over-reactions against that nationalism by some political tendencies.

  2. 3 Jim Monaghan
    April 12, 2012 at 13:13

    On a further read I see no mention of the unfinished national struggle. Connolly Socialist usually regard this as important. the intertwining of the struggle for national freedom and independence and Socialism. “The Cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour and the cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland.While the struggle is on the backburner it will reemerge. In fact the Troika deal means that he whole country is now explicitly a neo-colony. Something seen by the response by the masses to the reading of sections of the proclamation in Dublin at the ICTU march.The site http://workersrepublic.org/ run by ex Spartacists has some good historical stuff by early Irish Trotskyists on the national struggle.A rejection of militarism and now popular frontist deals by SF does not negate the issue.In the ULA there is a divide. I would be closer to the South Tipp people on it. The SP are anti and the SWP ignore it.

    • April 12, 2012 at 14:13

      As an aside to start, in my opinion the Republic has been a neo-colony for some time now given the complete domination of the economy by imperialist capital – primarily US & British. The Trokia deal is of secondary importance to that more fundamental issue of who the real masters of the Irish economy (and therefore its politics) are as far as I can tell.

      The question of the outstanding national struggle is surely primarily expressed concretely in the context of opposition to the British imperialist presence in the north – something on which my election statement is clear. On this basis I have participated alongside republicans in recent prisoner defence protests in Cork.

      I do not believe that any just and democratic solution to the national question in Ireland is possible within the context of capitalism. To that extent I agree that the struggle for national freedom, independence and socialism are intertwined.

      However it is also true that I don’t have a roadmap for all the details other than at the very general level of what is implied in the slogan “For an Irish Workers’ Republic within a Socialist Federation of Europe” and my emphasis on united class struggle, both within the north and across the border.

      I accept this may be seen as a weakness by those who consider themselves to be “Connolly Socialists”, and the emphasis those describing themselves as such tend to put on the national question, but I think the same criticism of lack of detail could be labelled at virtually every part of a two-page attempt to present an overall revolutionary socialist programme.

      Is your concern over the lack of detail or with the general framework I have outlined?

    • April 13, 2012 at 10:26

      What do you make of this – http://theirishrevolution.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/the-changing-nature-of-six-county-society/

      This would seem to make a compelling arguement that the Catholic population is no longer facing institutionalised discrimination in the north.

      One thing that is unclear to me is to what extent the Catholic community remains actively supportive of a struggle for the ending of partition? Certainly my impression from living in the Republic for the past 5 years is that there is not much active support for that project in the south.

      Another important issue in terms of a gradual move towards a united Ireland as SF believe is now happening, which this piece does not address, is the degree of economic inter-penetration of the bourgeoisie on the two sides of the border?

      The article takes as as a given that the British are completely committed to maintaining partition because no main-stream party is arguing otherwise. If there is any significant amount of economic integration then I think it is not unreasonable for Marxists to expect this is to change.

      And that poses a wider question of what stance the left should take to any such potential re-unification on a capitalist basis.

      • 6 Jim Monaghan
        April 14, 2012 at 10:13

        First I am trying to avoid approaching things from a dogmatic position. In ULA there needs to be an open debate on everything.On the national struggle, I have very definite opinions. But I feel that the stupidities of the Provo led war has created a basis for a turn off by many.
        The North is still a sectarian statelet. Much if not all of the gesture stuff is of elites. The explicit troika stuff has made for a realisation by the masses that teh Southern state was and is a neo colony.Aside from maybe an eccentric no element of the bourgeoisie wants unity.I think that the attitude towards unity is blurred by the fact that the y the fact that the oppressed make a distinction between what they want and what they fell they can get. In the past the SDLP represented the pragmatic approach and the Republicans the dream so to speak.Or Social Democrats/Stalnists versus us
        Immediate problems say organising in North. Avoiding premature splits because of sectarian attitudes.Growing the ULA so that leaving it would be clearly stupid.
        I see the unaligned as the diplomatic wing in part nudging things forward and maintaining the peace.Trotsky acted the peacemaker between Cannon and Shactman
        This is not meant to be programmatic but a chat online.

      • April 14, 2012 at 11:05

        Comment taken in the spirit intended, my political training leads me to push for programme…

        I absolutely agree that we have to somehow create a culture of open political discussion in the ULA and avoid pushing people into corners over the contentious issues. I spoke to Brendan Young in the Teachers Club bar after the first structures sub-committee meeting and he was talking about having some kind of internal discussion bulletin which I think would be a very good idea.

        I agree that the Troika intervention has made the idea of the Republic as a neo-colony more widespread than before but I think that goes with an unfortunate idea that if the Troika deal was ended then Ireland would have its sovereignty back – i.e. that we are only a neo-colony because of the presence of the Troika. And this could potentially lead in bad political directions, like political blocs with SF who are of course making a big deal about this.

        It is kind of like we are seeing an impressionistic understanding of Ireland’s place in the world as a neo-colony which is actually hiding the underlying reality of Ireland being a neo-colony because the question of who the real “masters” are remains hidden. I think Marxists have a responsibility to expose the underlying reality and not simply buy into the current semi-true understanding.

        An interesting issue would be how the north should be categorised – would you call it a direct colony of Britain for instance?

        Looking at those stats it seems that the changes are more than gesture in terms of jobs and eduction – which traditionally have been the defining ones when looking at the institutionalised discrimination of the Catholic community. That being said we live in a class society so it is of course the better-off sections of that community that are benefiting most from those changes.

        But it does seem that something significant is occurring in terms of the Protestant population as a whole no longer getting the advantages they have come to expect. Exactly how their resentment about not having this “entitlement” will play out is unknown.

        All that being said it is clear that the sectarian divides still exist, particularly in working class communities – as the “peace walls” (who came up with that name?) prove. It is also clear to me that the strategic perspective for Marxists must be towards breaking down those sectarian divides within our class – not that I have any magic answer for how to do that.

  3. 8 Jim Monaghan
    April 16, 2012 at 12:36

    Because the North, indeed the island, was included in the “mainland” it makes it different than say Aden, to take an extreme. Aside from exploitation, the main reason for the sieizure of Ireland was security. In fact a lot of the real estate collected by the various imperialism never made much sense from a capitalist (money) viewpoint, a lot of security reasons and prestige. (The Fashoda incident between the British and French).I don’t like quoting say Trotsky, a bit too much of holy scripture. But he made a remark about the Irish workers swinging between syndicalism and republicanism.But there is a certain truth in it. I think people underestimate how fightbacks are heavily influenced by what came before. Before breaking out of traditional patterns, the flow follows these patterns.
    I think the SWP and the SP overestimate the ease of breaking Protestant workers from Sectarianism. A clap of thunder and workers awake from this sort of thing. There is a supremacist thin amongst a huge number. Like the poor whites in the Southern USA.I go for uniting the workers on the island (I prefer to be honest and say country.)
    We need a debate. What has changed. What remains the same. No romanticism but the facts.
    SF line is nonsense. A SF minister North meeting an SF minister South, and a clap of thunder. What drivel.
    But SF is a bit like the French CP. They fought the war, inherited prestige. Easier said than done to break their grip. And again, like the PCF, seen as progressive. Same voters as us.
    More later.

  4. 10 Jim Monaghan
    April 18, 2012 at 17:38

    North Korea. Is it a workers State ?. My guess is that leaving a scholastic formalism aside it is not. Perhaps n the initial stages when there was a huge element of popular support for social change. It has now morphed (quantitatif change become qualitative change) into a Asiatic form of personalised capitalism with some for of feudal system. There is more prospect of a workers upsurge in the South where capitalism has produced a modern workingclass with fighting trade unions and efforts to form workers parties. The “gains” in North Korea. Trotsky said that there was a possibility of a fascist development in the USSR, see his remarks on Butenko. The Kim dynastic rule approaches this.I am obviously against imperialist intervention. But there is no need to start seeing something progressive where there is none.Cuba and Vietnam are different. Economic development had a huge impetus with the revolution and these gains persist.Mind you the 2 biggest building in Saigon are American banks.
    Why not simply list the places in danger of NATO intervention and make the case that the imperialist do not come to liberate but to steal and replacing one set of bandits with another is not progress. And in Afghanistan they are making an awful situation even worse. Irish workers do not want to exchange chains of one kind for others that might be even worse.The heritage of Stalinism and associated stuff has had a huge negative effect.Even the word socialism, nevermind communism, has in part been tarnished. Without being hyprocritical we need to show in every way what what we mean by socialism is democracy in a real sense, the end of the dictatorship of Capital. Not rule b a caste or a nutty family.

    • April 18, 2012 at 18:21

      Well we can call it what we like I guess. What we agree on is that it is not now, nor has ever been, a socialist society. That would require a genuine workers’ revolution to overthrow the Kim-led bureaucracy. I would call it “progressive”, at least not in an abstract sense but the key question for me is what a restoration of capitalist rule, or perhaps in your terms the coming to power of free market neo-liberal capitalism, would mean.

      I think this would be a disaster for working people in North Korea – things are bad there now but this would be a catastrophe. Just as capitalist restoration was a catastrophe for working people in the Russia and Eastern Europe after capitalist restoration 20 years ago.

      It is in this sense – as compared to what the rule of capital would mean – that I think there are things to defend. But only in that sense, as it is clear that there needs to be a revolution to overthrow the Kim tyranny for any real progress towards socialism to be possible.

      So the question is what we think the reintroduction of capitalist rule (as in capitalism as it exists elsewhere in the world) would mean in North Korea. Would it be a catastrophe for working people as I argue? Would it not make any difference? Would it actually improve things for working people?

      If either of the last two are correct then my position makes no sense but it also makes it hard to explain what happened to the similar societies of Russia and Eastern Europe after capitalist restoration there.

  5. 13 Jim Monaghan
    April 20, 2012 at 10:27

    I would not claim to be an expert in economics. Certainly North Korea seems to escape many norms. If you were a worker and wanted to have the “space” to create a genuine workers party, where would it be easier.( I would add that many on the left do not realise that the struggle for civil liberties and basic rights are part and parcel of the struggle for socialism) North or South Korea.If you were interested in a standard of living, 3 meals a day. Again where.The South Korean bourgeoisie have by creating a modern capitalist state, created their own gravedigger, a modern industrial proletariat.
    There are so many things where North Korea is not just bad but way beyond bad. T the extent that South Korea fears a collapse and a migration of millions of semi starving people South which could destabilise the South.
    Right the collapse of the USSR and its clients has caused a collapse of living standards. But the nostalgia is just that. There is little appitide for a return to “actually existing socialism”. Stalinist repression destroyed the workers movement of any autonomy.
    Of course I oppose imperialist intervention just as I oppose it say for Libya and Syria. I think bandits have only one thing on their mind whatever way they dress it up.
    I think you underestimate how workers react when they see stuff on North Korea as being better. They see the promise not of socialism but of the gulag.And from personal experience of one Pro Moscow party, there were many who thought that the gulag was a nice place to put their opponents.
    I will end with an anecdote. At a womens conference back in the 80s. A comrade noticed that there was a blank or hostile response by people form the East when socialism was mentioned. She decided to tease this out. Rather than use words, she asked what did people want. It turned out that both sides wanted what was basically a socialist society with all that it should mean.But to the women from the East the word socialism meant repression.
    I think the poet Morris said that even if the word socialism disappeared, then another word would be found which meant the same thing.
    I think Hillel Ticktin has developed a marxist approach, building on Trotsky etc.But I want to avoid appeals to sacred scripture.

    • April 20, 2012 at 14:59

      I have no doubts about the legacy of Stalinism and how it has tainted the very idea of socialism, even if, as you say. the content of what working people want from a future society is effectively the same as for those of us who are happy to use the word.

      But I think it is just an empirical reality that life for working people in North Korea was improved by the creation of the workers’ state in 1948 – even despite the deeply undemocratic nature of the regime. I am not sure if we disagree about this.

      I also believe that if capitalism was to be reintroduced it would be a catastrophe for working people in North Korea and it should be resisted. It seems we disagree about this although we agree that any direct intervention by imperialism would need to be opposed.

      As regards Hillel, I have a lot of time for what he has written on the world economic crisis but not so much on the “Russian Question”. There is a real difference when you see Hillel speaking on these two issues when he talks on economics he is the dry scientist to the extreme but when he speaks on the Russian Question he becomes completely emotional and I think loses his objectivity – understandable given his personal experience but I think he loses something that is there when he is more of an objective scientist.

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