Apr 20 2015

LIVING THE PEACE PROCESS IN REVERSE

The following extract is taken from an article by Robbie McVeigh, entitled Living the peace process in reverse: racist violence and British nationalism in Northern Ireland, in the current issue of Race & Class (Volume 56, April-June 2015, no. 4).

Virtually the whole of the Left has ignored the broader implications of the new pan-unionist alliance (UKIP, Tory Right and Ulster unionists and loyalists), which is challenging the current British ruling class ‘New Unionist’ ‘devolution-all-round’ and Peace Process settlement from the Right. Robbie McVeigh, however, makes specific reference to the new political situation created in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum. In doing this he is connecting to the arguments made on this blog, which have highlighted this. He specifically points to the history of British ruling class sponsorship of  such reactionary forces, pointing out, not only several historical precedents, but the current collusion between the security forces in Northern Ireland and racist and bigoted unionism and loyalism, including its paramiltary manifestations.

This extract is followed by links to other articles on this blog making similar connections.

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LIVING THE PEACE PROCESS IN REVERSE

Robbie McVeigh

Robbie McVeigh

 

“It is important to remember that loyalism is a core component of British nationalism. This is an assessment of loyalism as a historical political formation, both as part of the politics of the British in Ireland and also of Britishness itself. It is anti-democratic ,racist, authoritarian populism. Moreover, it isn’t simply something belonging to the most reactionary elements of the Protestant working class in Northern Ireland, it is a British phenomenon. In other words, it isn’t rooted in the most lumpen elements of loyalist paramilitarism – although these provide useful allies – but in the most developed forms of British nationalism. Its genealogy can be traced to Randolph Churchill, with his cynical strategy of ‘playing the Orange Card’, through Lord Claude Hamilton to Enoch Powell; from the Curragh Mutiny to the Ulster Workers’ Strike. When the British Establishment rejects the consequences of formal democracy, this is what it looks like: a toxic cocktail of racism, sectarianism, anti-Catholicism, unionism, jingoism, militarism and paramilitarism.

It has been there for generations, hiding in plain sight. Yet, despite their raison d’etre with regard to nationalists and black people, it is rarely, if ever, that loyalists are characterised as part of what would otherwise be described as the ‘far Right’. For example, most analysis of far-Right groups at the European level tend not to include loyalists. Yet it isn’t just Enoch Powell or John Taylor who attest to the connections. The specific reference to far right interventions in the flag protest movements brings us right up to date. The most obvious manifestation is the Protestant Coalition, two of whose front people came from the British National Party splinter group, Britain First. The elective affinity begins to look complete when we find British First members, along with a roll call of others from the British far Right, are frequent attenders at pastor McConnell’s church. And we need to put this in the broader context of the pan-unionist appeal of the UK Independence party (UKIP), which, though it also threatens tradional unionism, is now unmabiguously integrated into the pan-unionist family.

The linking of loyalism and British nationalism matters not only in Ireland but across Britain and beyond. Loyalism in Northern Ireland is a British phenomenon. Britishness must bear some responsibility for what is done in its name in Northern Ireland. Equally, however, Britishness is constructed around this nexus – Margaret Thatcher famously said of Northern Ireland that it is “as British as Finchley”. This connects with the broader point that what happens in Northern Ireland from the Special Branch to the Prevention of Terrorism acts, repression that emerges from conflict in Ireland has direct consequences for Britain….

More broadly, (the} crisis of ‘devolved’ state power in Northern Ireland cuts right to the heart of a gathering crisis of the broader UK state. The resurgence of {the} paramiltarised racism {of the UVF and UDA} and state collusion in Northern Ireland deserves attention for its wider implications across the rest of the UK. For all its instability, the Northern Ireland state has survived as part of the UK for nearly a hundred years and it does present a warning for the wider Uk community. In the wake of the Scottish referendum, the UK state is itself entering a period of profound instability. It may well disintegrate. If it doesn’t, however, it will most likely stabilise itself around new and dangerous political formations.”

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also see:- 

The reactionary challenge coming from UKIP and the various stands of Ulster unionism and loyalism by Allan Armstrong in section 4) of:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/british-unionists-and-scottish-nationalists-attempt-to-derail-scotlands-democratic-revolution/

Better Together, UKIP, the Orange Order and the UK state – What they have in common by Allan Armstrong at:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/09/12/better-together-ukip-the-orange-order-and-the-uk-state-what-they-have-in-common/

The new challenge to social liberalism and the ‘New Unionist’ settlement from UKIP, the Tory Right, the Ulster Unionists and Loyalists by Allan Armstrong in section e) at:-

 http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/09/03/up-to-and-beyond-the-september-18th-independence-referendum-a-socialist-republican-perspective/

Making plans for Nigel by Allan Armstrong at:-  

 http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/06/26/making-plans-for-nigel/

British nationalism and the rise of fascism by Chris Ford at:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2002/08/05/british-nationalism-and-the-rise-of-fascism/

The Belfast riots and the Scottish dimension by Jim Slaven at:

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2013/01/10/the-belfast-flag-riots-and-the-scottish-dimension/

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Apr 20 2015

REPUBLICANISM AND DEMOCRACY

Allan Armstrong (RCN) was invited to speak on Republicanism and Democracy  at the Assembly for Democracy event in Glasgow on Saturday, April 11th. He gave an update of the talk at the first Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow in November 2012 (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/11/15/genuine-self-determination-means-acting-as-republicans-now/

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Allan Armstrong speaking at the Glasgow Assembly for Democracy

 

Most of the discussions today we have been having today have been about bringing democracy into our own campaigns and developing an opposition to the ongoing British ruling class offensive.

However, as one contributor to the debate has already said, ‘democracy’ is one of the most promiscuous terms to be found in politics. Indeed, the British ruling class likes to claim that “Westminster is the mother of parliaments”, with the implication that it represents a deeply rooted democratic tradition. So it is worth taking a closer look at this Westminster, based on the political notion of the ‘Crown in parliament’.
Continue reading “REPUBLICANISM AND DEMOCRACY”

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Apr 13 2015

ANTI-WATER CHARGES CAMPAIGN: FROM PROTEST TO ELECTIONS

Our blog has been chronicling developments in one of the most important socio-economic struggles in these islands since the Anti-Poll Tax campaign (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/27/sinn-fein-under-pressure-from-irish-workers/http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/01/water-charges-independent-mobilisation-new-state-repression/ and http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/12/16/defying-water-charges-in-ireland/).

The Irish government is attempting to collect specific water charges from the Irish people (water is already paid for out of general taxation), preparatory to privatising Irish water in line with Troika imposed austerity demands. The massive grassroots Anti-Water Charges campaign in Ireland has destabilised the current Fine Gael/Labour coalition government.

 Until the recent massive show of opposition, Sinn Fein and the trade union bureaucrats were opposed to a campaign of non-payment and non-collection. The following article examines not only the role of the trade union bureaucracy and Sinn Fein, but the illusions being created by some on the Left, in the possibility that these two forces might create a Left Irish government, which can end the water charges, whilst ignoring their cooperation in setting up Irish Water in the first place.

This article by J.M. Thorn of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) addresses the current situation.

 

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ANTI-WATER CHARGES CAMPAIGN: FROM PROTESTS TO ELECTIONS

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The 21st March anti-water charges demonstration in Dublin is clear evidence of the continued widespread opposition to the establishment of Irish Water and the imposition of charges.
Continue reading “ANTI-WATER CHARGES CAMPAIGN: FROM PROTEST TO ELECTIONS”

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Apr 09 2015

BLACKLISTED

Brian Higgins, a much blacklisted building worker and Secretary of the rank and file Building Workers Group, reviews Blacklisted, The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists, by David Smith and Phil Chamberlain.

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This much needed book is a powerful and always compelling expose. It is sometimes moving with first hand accounts by the victims of the extremely sinister blacklisting conspiracy conducted by multi national building employers and others against organised labour in the construction industry.

Continue reading “BLACKLISTED”

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Apr 03 2015

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP – THE TTIP OF THE PACIFIC

Cynthia Phinney of Labor Notes (USA) writes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she dubs the “NAFTA of the Pacific”. However, we in Europe will also be able to recognise it as the ‘TTIP of the Pacific’.

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SHOWDOWN NEARS ON FAST TRACKING OF THE BIGGEST FREE TRADE DEAL YET 

This spring the battle is coming to a head over several threatened trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a “NAFTA of the Pacific.”

President Obama announced in this year’s State of the Union address that he would ask Congress to grant him fast-track authority for trade agreements with Asia and Europe. The announcement unleashed a torrent of lobbying in favor of Obama’s request, and galvanized fair trade activists against it.

Continue reading “THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP – THE TTIP OF THE PACIFIC”

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Apr 03 2015

DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP: FROM LIBERAL PRIVILEGE TO DEMOCRATIC EMANCIPATION

On the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in England, Richard Barbrook calls for a new debate on the conception of citizenship.

Richard Barbrook, lecturer at University of Westminster

Richard Barbrook, lecturer at University of Westminster

 

“Government founded… on a system of universal peace, on the indefeasible hereditary Rights of Man … interests not particular individuals, but nations, in its progress, and promises a new era to the human race.”

Tom Paine, Rights of Man

 

In the second decade of the 21st century, citizenship is defined not just by the people being able to choose the political leadership of their nation through regular elections, but also by the legal protection of their human rights, such as media freedom, personal privacy, fair trials and religious toleration. Enshrined in both national constitutions and international treaties, these democratic precepts ensure that individual citizens can express their views and campaign for causes without fear of persecution or discrimination. Yet, when they were first codified during the 17th and 18th centuries’ modernising revolutions which overthrew aristocratic and priestly despotism in Western Europe and North America, these fundamental freedoms were initially restricted to a minority of the population: white male property-owners. Despite the universalist rhetoric of the English 1689 Bill of Rights, the French 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the USA’s 1791 Bill of Rights, men without property, all women and the African slaves who were property remained outside their constitutional protection. In this pioneering liberal iteration, political and civil freedom was founded upon economic exploitation. Human rights were the privilege of the few not the emancipation of the many.

Continue reading “DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP: FROM LIBERAL PRIVILEGE TO DEMOCRATIC EMANCIPATION”

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Mar 27 2015

SINN FEIN UNDER PRESSURE FROM IRISH WORKERS

On Friday, March 13th six unions representing public sector workers in the north of Ireland took joint strike action to resist the austerity programme being pushed through by the Sinn Fein / Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) coalition government. John Mc Anulty, a member of Socialist Democracy in Belfast explains the background.

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The more optimistic socialist commentators hope to see new Left parties in Europe push back the ongoing austerity offensive. The most daring wave expansively … Greece … Spain …Ireland???

The inclusion of Sinn Fein is partly an echo of their past struggle against imperialism and a legacy of support among socialists, partly because they expend considerable energy in presenting themselves as left -wing.

Continue reading “SINN FEIN UNDER PRESSURE FROM IRISH WORKERS”

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Mar 25 2015

DEFINING REPUBLICANISM

John Tummon (Republican Socialist Alliance) responds to Murdo Ritchie’s (RCN) Promoting Republicanism (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/promoting-republicanism/)

Murdo Ritchie’s ‘Promoting Republicanism’ is a very important contribution to something we Republican Socialists need to keep working on until we have a theoretically rigorous and internally-tested critique of the poverty of any socialist analysis that fails to incorporate a full understanding of democracy and republicanism; only when this is in place can we think about breaking through to a position of genuine influence on the Left, let alone wider society outside of Scotland.

I see Murdo’s ‘Promoting Republicanism’ as a key stage in that development – and a very welcome one at that – and my comments, including my attempted development of aspects of what Murdo has written, are put forward in that spirit. What I increasingly find is that the most interesting left thinking in Britain comes from Republican Socialists, which was born out by the impressive quality of discussion at the recent RSA AGM in London; much of what passes as debate within the rest of the British (certainly the English) Left is stale repetition and, within Left Unity, the recycling of stale certainties from past eras in the name of ‘doing politics differently’. Unless we think politics differently, a failed practice will recur.

Continue reading “DEFINING REPUBLICANISM”

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Mar 23 2015

THE SCOTTISH LEFT PROJECT

Allan Armstrong (RCN and RIC activist) provides the following initial assessment of the proposed Scottish Left Project. This is the final part of three articles, the first of which examines the role of the UK state and SNP in attempting to derail Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’ (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/british-unionists-and-scottish-nationalists-attempt-to-derail-scotlands-democratic-revolution/) and the second which looks at the inadequate response of the Left across these islands (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/16/the-left-in-the-uk-the-2015-general-election-campaign-and-the-wider-impact-of-scotlands-democratic-revolution/).

 

The Scottish Left Project (SLP) has been mooted in the context of the impact of Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’, and the success of RIC as a movement within this. There is now a concerted effort by the unionist and nationalist parties to roll back this ‘democratic revolution’ [1]. Therefore, the success of the SLP will depend upon whether it takes up the baton bequeathed by these momentous events, or lets itself become a bit-player in others’ political projects.

 

a) the role of the International Socialist Group (ISG)

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As with RIC, the ISG has been the SLP’s prime mover. It is therefore useful to examine the way the ISG operated within RIC, to come to some better understanding of how it could see its role in the SLP.

Continue reading “THE SCOTTISH LEFT PROJECT”

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Mar 19 2015

SINN FEIN HYPOCRISY

 

 

We are posting the following letter from Gerry Fitzpatrick sent to Socialist Democracy (Ireland),which comments on media appearances by Gerry Adams

SINN FEIN HYPOCRISY

I think I can see government office from here

I think I can see government office from here

 

Dear Editor,

I note that the current Sinn Fein president {Gerry Adams} has made appearances today both on British and Irish media to inform the public in this election year that he and his party stood and voted for austerity in the North and voted against the fundamental right of a Women’s Right to Choose in the north and will be doing so again in the south.

Continue reading “SINN FEIN HYPOCRISY”

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