“…Not the rack-renting, slum-owning landlord; not the sweating, profit-grinding capitalist; not the sleek and oily lawyer; not the prostitute pressman – the hired liars of the enemy. Not these are the Irish upon whom the future depends. Not these, but the Irish working class, the only secure foundation upon which a free nation can be reared.James Connolly, ‘The Irish Flag’ (1916)
The cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour. They cannot be dissevered. “
James Connolly was correct here as always: the oppressed nation and its liberation struggle has a class character. Trying to hide this fact with ‘patriotic’ tricks is a classic move for capitalist sellouts and fascist traitors. It was done by Connolly’s rivals 110 years ago and it’s being done today.
The revisionists who dismantled communism in China and brought their country back on the Capitalist road in the 1980s were said to have “raised the red flag to bring down the red flag”.
In Ireland there had been a long and shameful line of traitors who have raised the green flag to bring down the green flag.
One such treacherous group today is the “national party”.
The NP come from the Fine Gael milieu (their leadership are ex-FG and embedded in David Quinn and Declan Ganley’s old boys networks) and their outlook and policies are the same as FF/FG. However while FG accepted the decisive popular shift towards abortion provision and gay rights, the NP is basing their appeal on ‘Irishness’ as identity politics.
Much of this involves grooming teenagers who think the NP are radical because they say the n-word. These teenagers who have got their political education on 4chan will likely grow out of the phase of acting out as 1940s Catholics for internet points in a few years.
In the meantime the main rallying cry for the NP is “Ireland belongs to the Irish”, reappropriating the old anti-colonial slogan with a new bigoted spin.
Ultimately this cry is not purely racial, as the NP accept various migrant and former invaders as Irish, if they are white.
Neither is it a fully cultural call, since they reject the many new gaelgeoirs contributing to Irish culture since large scale immigration began in Ireland in the 2000s.
Rather it’s a shallow identity politics to be worn as a safety blanket by a motley crew of confused teens and angry middle-aged men.
Posing themselves as a reactionary opposite to the positive LGBT identity which many Irish people are expressing and accepting themselves in, this Oirish identity is reflective of that other reactionary bastion in Ireland: Loyalism.
Irish fascist fantasies about reimposing 1950s Ireland onto the 2020s is the same clinging to ‘besieged’ zombie culture as loyalists in their endless fight against gravity. There are plenty more manifestations of Irish fascism and loyalism as reactionary twins of each other: Identity based solely on supremacy over their neighbour, cowardly targeting of the weak in communities to maintain this supremacy and so on. Unlike the British National Party linked Loyalists, the Irish National Party has not yet demonstrated any value for security services to invest in bulking them up (Kenneth Geary notwithstanding) and so will remain a runt for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile Irish identity and culture, being a living thing, continue to evolve regardless. It evolves of course in some ways that are good and some ways that are bad.
Irish mass popular culture in areas like story, song, sport, language etc all have many talented practitioners but could be expanded to engage more of the people. This is a task that could be done by any and all of us – that’s what popular culture is!
However politically the Republican and revolutionary movement needs to integrate with this popular identity and build a mass culture of resistance. Normalising the fight against exploiters, abusers, oppressors and enemies of the people every day in our communities is the state and spirit we need to get to.
This revolutionary culture – the knowledge that it is right to rebel – is what will become the armed sea of the masses which will sweep Capitalism, Imperialism and Fascism from the island of Ireland.
And of course an Irish People’s Republic would be part of and at the service of World Revolution. The cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour.
This outlook – nationalist and internationalist, for national, socialist and cultural revolution – is the only way to really solve any of the problems facing Ireland and the world.
Global Capitalism is waging a war of extermination against the people, and against life and the planet itself. The dismantling of this system and its replacement with a New Power is our task. Everyone – republican, socialist, Black, white, LGBT, straight, religious or otherwise have their roles to play. Fascist cowards like the Irish National Party stand in the way of this because they instead want to attack other workers and families.
We have the revolutionary strategy, we have the history, we have all the tools we’ll need as well as the knowledge that we can win. What we need is you, the person reading this, to join up and play your role in liberating Ireland and the whole Earth within our lifetime.