Tuesday, March 01, 2016

An Islington exchange on Ireland

As George Bernard Shaw noted, independence for Ireland was resolved “not as civilised and reasonable men should have settled it, but as dogs settle a dispute over a bone”.
A savage and bloody war was fought, the outcome of which was almost identical to what would have happened if the war had not been fought.
The vast majority of Irish people each own as much of Ireland after independence as they did before: not a square inch. They are still under the heel of those who own the world.
The best memorial to those who died in the futile gesture of 1916 is to work to ensure that our disputes can be resolved without slaughter, and to remember that no country is worth killing or dying for.
Socialist Party, North London branch

As a socialist myself, I found Bill Martin's letter astonishing, naïve and patronising. And maybe even worse.
Does Bill imagine, for instance, that the Socialist Party’s vision of a cash-free utopia can be achieved without some form of physical challenge? If so, tell it to the birds and the bankers, Bill.
With regard to futility and the Easter rising, a number of terms have and will continue to be bandied about as to the nature of the participants. Vanguardist is as good a description as any.
Bill seems to suggest that the Irish people as a whole should subsequently have just behaved themselves and remained passive and obedient under the dominion of the British crown.
Perhaps this applies to all forms of struggle for national self-determination.
If I have misunderstood you, Bill, please enlighten. If I haven’t, then I can only say that yours is a form of socialism quite alien to a large number of socialists.     
City Road

• I certainly do believe that fundamental social change can come about peacefully and democratically, and that we should strive for this. The key event in Irish independence, for example, was not the Easter uprising or the War of Independence, but the election of 1918, when Irish workers voted overwhelmingly to have Irish rather than British masters.
The IRA was on the brink of military defeat when Michael Collins negotiated terms. The key factor was the solid determination, expressed in boycotts and the like, of the vast majority of people in Ireland, not a handful of ambushes and farm burnings.
The war (and later civil war) was more about who would dominate independent Ireland.
As the Socialist Standard wrote in August 1916: “It is a false notion of the Sinn Feiners and Nationalists that the Irish workers must struggle for national independence before they can tackle the problem of poverty.
“But the working class everywhere is under one capitalist government or another. To split territories, set up new governments, or to re-establish old ones will not help them nor even simplify the problem.
“Their only hope lies in the speedy establishment of Socialism. They must join hands with the workers of the world, and make common cause against the ruling class.”
North London branch, The Socialist Party

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