Follow-up on my non-membership of Solidarity

Last night in Cork I attended a Solidarity “open meeting” that they had advertised on their flyer at the 4 July public meeting where I became a member (if only for 6 days).

I didn’t want to disrupt the event by making it all about me so I only distributed my Open Letter at the end of the meeting. I did however get to ask a question of Mick Barry, which was in the context of his presentation, about why they don’t rule out a coalition with Sinn Féin in advance like they do with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

In Mick’s summary he responded by saying it was a tactical question to do with connecting with the working class base of Sinn Féin who have illusions that Sinn Féin are representing their class interests in some way. One of his examples being that many will vote SF #1, Solidarity #2 (and vice versa). The cynic in me thinks this electoral consideration is the major component in Solidarity’s refusal to rule out a coalition government with SF.

After the meeting I had a discussion with a couple of the Socialist Party members in Solidarity. Once again the difference was presented as tactical as they are 100% certain Solidarity would never be in a government coalition with Sinn Féin because SF would never agree to an anti-capitalist programme for government which is a red-line issue for the SP. They are just being cleverer about how they engage with SF members.

The supposed real difference, and reason they rejected my membership application, was my 18-month old reference to them (AAA before the last election) being willing to be a junior partner in a coalition government with Sinn Féin – which they take as an affront to their credentials as principled socialists.

It is true that I have speculated, and continue to speculate, that in a situation where there actually was the concrete possibility of forming what would be described by everyone as a “left government” including SF that Solidiarty/Socialist Party would not be able to stand up to what would be the massive pressure from their working class base to join that coalition government instead of “being responsible” for letting in a right-wing government.

Now maybe I am wrong about that, and who knows for certain as it is necessarily only specualtion, but I think it relates to the heart of the problem.

They are building a party/movement which doesn’t say “No government coalitions with any capitalist parties” but rather something like “No government coalitions with some capitalist parties but discussions with other ‘non-establishment’ capitalist parties over the programme for a coalition government”.

By changing the issue from one of principled opposition to crossing the class line to one of tactical discussions over programme they have created a movement/party which has blurred the importance of the class line and therefore will have contributed to the pressure they would be under if a “left government” coalition with SF, or any other “non-establishment” capitalist party, was concretely on the agenda.

This is particularly aggregious coming from an organisation which claims to stand in the political tradition of Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky described it this way:

“The left centrists seek to present this question as a tactical or even as a technical maneuver, so as to be able to peddle their wares in the shadow of the People’s Front. In reality, the People’s Front is the main question of proletarian class strategy for this epoch.”

As the SYRIZA debacle in Greece has shown this is just as relevant today as it was when Trotsky wrote those words in the 1930s.


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