1990s >> 1994 >> no-1084-december-1994

Letter: What a Consolation!

Dear Editors,


The two articles in your October issue dealing with the problems in Northern Ireland said next to nothing about the thoroughgoing reactionary nature of the Protestant working class’s political consciousness. Why was that?


Surely the writers of these articles were not ignorant of the fact that the Catholic working class people in Northern Ireland have been treated something like a non-people by the Herrnevolk attitude of the Unionist parties there and also most of the Protestant working class.


So what do you expect the Catholic population to do there in Northern Ireland when they are treated like coolies? Sitting down reading Socialist Standards certainly would be no consolation to them at all. And I am sure the Protestant working class in Northern Ireland in the main would not be impressed by what your writers have to say about Northern Ireland.


So what’s the point in trying to make out that your type of Socialism has the solution to the problems in Northern Ireland?


Certainly the capitalist economic system causes problems and crises, but capitalism is not completely the same in all countries. The class consciousness Marx advocated for the bringing about of Socialism is a non-starter at the present time.


The Catholics in Northern Ireland just want to move forward to have an equal say in political matters rather than be treated with contempt by Unionist Herrenvolk or, worse still, as being enemies.


You say Ian Paisley is a clown. If so, he is a clown with plenty M-O-N-E-Y. Also, a clown that stirs up plenty of trouble for the Catholic population of Ulster. How many reincarnations do you think he would need to become a class conscious Socialist?
R. Smith, 






R. Smith is not correct to say that the two articles on Northern Ireland in our October issue “said next to nothing about the thoroughgoing reactionary nature of the Protestant working class”. In fact the two articles in question said all that needed to be said about reactionary attitudes in general in Northern Ireland.


We pointed out that Catholic workers who give their allegiance to Irish nationalism are every bit as “reactionary” as Protestant workers who give their allegiance to British nationalism. R. Smith doesn’t like this viewpoint as it obviously contradicts the fantasy that all Protestants are materially well-off and reactionary bigots in their views while all Catholics are poor, down-trodden and progressive in their views.


As socialists, we don’t go in for moralising in this way about the “goodness” or “badness” of whole sections of the working class. We base our views on an analysis of the material conditions. In the case of Northern Ireland, such an analysis tells us that both sets of nationalists are conning themselves and other workers and are betraying their class interests.


Sitting down and reading the Socialist Standard may not be “a consolation” — it isn’t meant to be; it’s meant to be an education and an antidote.