50 Years Ago: The Partition of Ireland

The question of the demand by the Government of Eire for the incorporation of Northern Ireland in a united, independent Ireland is one which really requires full and detailed treatment in order to make plain the correctness of the Socialist attitude of refusing to support either side . . .

The Socialist view is that the problems and conflicts arising from capitalism do now prevent, and will continue to prevent, the large and small racial and language groups of peoples in the world from living together harmoniously. Neither the creation of small would-be independent nations nor the forcible incorporation of unwilling groups in larger States, will work satisfactorily as long as international commercial rivalries keep stoking the fires of national hatreds.

One argument used in the past by advocates of Irish nationalism has been that until the national question is settled the workers will never be able to recognise their worldwide community of interest in the abolition of capitalism. As against this the Socialist points out that nationality problems never will be settled under capitalism. The efforts to do so under the Versailles Treaty illustrate this.

Moreover, national movements tend invariably towards methods of force to attain their ends, as witness the traditions of the Irish factions. This in itself is a factor which militates against the spread of Socialist knowledge.

[From the Socialist Standard, October 1939.]