1990s >> 1994 >> no-1082-october-1994

What we said at the start . . .

To workers from Ireland


Many of you will be concerned about what is happening in places like Belfast and Derry. You will probably support the civil rights struggle in Northern Ireland.


We too are concerned about the conditions our fellow workers in other parts of the world have to live and work under. We know that the role of the police and army is everywhere to protect private property and the existing political set-up.


When Ireland got independence in 1921 the North East part, for economic reasons, was kept under British rule though given a parliament and government of its own. The government there has since armed itself with various undemocratic powers to use against its opponents. It is against these powers, and against bad housing and unemployment, that the Civil Rights people are protesting.


Protest movements are nothing new and are not confined to Northern Ireland. They exist everywhere and show that everywhere workers are discontented with some aspect of their lot. It is by promising to do something about this that politicians obtain your votes — and it is their failures that lead people to protest on the streets.


The politicians fail not because they are dishonest or incompetent but because capitalism cannot be made to work for the good of all.


If you accept this, then you will see that direct action is in the end as futile as voting for parties that stand for capitalism. You will see too the uselessness of a United Ireland as a way of solving the problems of workers in the North. This would merely be a political re-shuffle — a change of masters, we would say — that would leave unchanged the class basis of society which is the real cause of these problems. As anyone who has lived in the Irish Republic can confirm, people there face the same problems of bad housing, unemployment and insecurity (indeed this may be why you are now living in Britain).


The lasting solution to these problems in Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic, Britain and the rest of the world is Socialism.


(From Socialist Standard, December 1970)


Don’t be fooled by words


“All I want to see, is my country free, happiness peace and prosperity.” A theme, with variations, that has headed the top ten of the political hit parade with unceasing regularity during the last century.


The chorus master on this occasion is Joe Cahill who has been described as “the militant leader of the Belfast wing of the provisional IRA” after his release from detention in Dublin. At this point we will stop the satire; the part played over the decades by political “leaders” with their message of national independence has proved too tragic and disastrous to joke about.


The working class of Ireland, that is to say of Eire and Northern Ireland, as indeed workers wherever they may reside, should think seriously about such phrases as “Freedom”. “My country”, “Prosperity” and “Peace”. Let’s see what they really mean.


FREEDOM: In capitalist society means the right of the vast majority to be property’s wage workers producing wealth to be sold on a market with a view to profit.


MY COUNTRY: The countries of the world are owned by a privileged minority. The working class has problems and interests that are produced by capitalism and not by the existence of national barriers.


PROSPERITY: All workers are poor, some are destitute. A prosperous working class is a contradiction in terms. Capitalism is as incapable of producing a working class that is prosperous as it is of producing a government that is popular.


PEACE: Even if the shooting stopped the class war would remain, that is the struggle which goes on all the time over the ownership of the wealth of society, whether it be in a so called “United” Ireland, the “United” States, the “United” Kingdom, the “United” Arab Republic, Russia, Africa, in fact wherever capitalism is the predominating form of society.


(From Socialist Standard, November 1971)