Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fight for your world, not your country

As early as September 1907 The Socialist Standard, stated that
“. . .  it is our duty to warn our fellow-workers in Ireland of the futility of the Sinn Fein policy as far as they are concerned There can be no relief for the oppressed Irishman in changing an English robber for an Irish one. The person of the robber does not matter — it is the fact of the robbery that spells misery. National divisions are a hindrance to working-class unity, and national jealousies and differences are fostered by the capitalists for their own ends.
The crowd of hungry "intellectuals" clamouring for jobs both within and without the Irish parliamentary group do not represent the interests of the working class in Ireland. . . .  The national sentiment and perennial enthusiasm of the Irishmen are being exploited by the so-called leaders in the interests of Irish capitalism, and the workers are being used to fight the battles of their oppressors. . . . Let the thieves fight their own battles! For the worker in Ireland there is but one hope. It is to join the Irish wing of the international Socialist working class and to make common cause with the Socialist workers of all countries for the end of all forms of exploitation: saying to both English and Irish capitalists: “A plague on both your houses." For the true battle-cry of the working class is broader, more significant and more inspiring than mere nationalism, and that rallying cry is:
THE WORLD FOR THE WORKERS!”

If the creation of an Irish state had led to a vast improvement in the condition of the workers living under that state, or if it had led to increased class-consciousness on the part of those workers, then socialists might have to concede that we were shortsighted back in 1907 and that nationalism had been in the interest of the working-class. But this is not the case. Workers in the Irish Republic are no less robbed than workers in the North. Nor are they any less bullied by the state police, whose thuggish defence of property is notorious. They are no less the victims of religious indoctrination and oppression — indeed, an Irish worker would have reason to wonder how much national independence has chained them to a new dependence upon the medieval bigotry of the Fool of Rome. The reality is that life for the wage slaves in the twenty-six counties is no more free than for those in the occupied six. In opposing Irish nationalism, socialists make it absolutely clear that we stand in bitter hostility to the arrogant nationalism of the so-called Loyalists and Unionists whose pathetic submission to a Queen who would not let her horses live in some of the conditions enjoyed by the loyal wage slaves of the Shankhill Road shows that they are enemies of socialism. There is no essential difference between the capitalists of England and Ireland. Both are characterised by the same greed for wealth, the same ambition for power.

It is a false notion of Sinn Fein 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. They must make ready for the last war—the war of classes, in which classes must be abolished and a real equality established on the basis of “common ownership and democratic control of all the means of life”.

We are not concerned here as to whether those who sympathise with the Easter Rising are sincere or not. Nor if the participants in the Rising were brave and courageous. We are endeavouring to show Irish working people the plain, bald facts of the position, regardless of whether these facts are palatable or not. We, who are workers should concern ourselves with the bonds that bind us to the cogs of capital—that doom us forever to the toil and sweat of slavery. The continuance of the private property system was always the central idea in the Irish nationalists, and so long as private property remains, the miseries that necessarily flow from it will remain also and continue to afflict the workers under the Irish Republic. Irish workers should turn a deaf ear to the empty phrases of nationalism, and look forward with hopeful gaze to the day when Ireland shall be a land of peace and prosperity—its wealth owned and controlled by its workers—and a harmonious member of the great international co-operative commonwealth. This object, we claim, is far more worthy of the attention and support of Irish workers than the empty phrases and chimeras of Sinn Fein.


The Irish Republican leaders blamed the dreadful social conditions in Ireland on British rule when in fact these conditions are part and parcel of the capitalist system of society all over the world. To end them, calls not for a national revolution, but rather for the organising of the working- class all over the world, to replace capitalism with socialism. What the Easter Rising did was to lead to the establishment of a new capitalist state and the emergence of a new native ruling class, holding sway over the lives of the Irish working-class.

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