Aug 11 2020

A TRIUMPH OF IDEOLOGY: JOHN HUME AND THE DEFEAT OF IRISH REPUBLICANISM

The following article form Socialist Democracy (Ireland) explains the political reasons behind the adulation for John Hume since his death on August 3rd. 

 

 

A TRIUMPH OF IDEOLOGY: JOHN HUME AND THE DEFEAT OF IRISH REPUBLICANISM

 

 

The flurry of commemoration by the great and the good following the death of John Hume can be summarised as follows: Hume was the leader of the Irish Civil Rights Movement, he advocated non violence and peace through negotiation and argued for a shared Ireland that included all political currents. Decades of work saw eventual recognition of his arguments, movement towards peace, the peace process and Good Friday Agreement and eventually the Nobel prize, a celebration choreographed by Bono, and recognition as a world statesman.

There is much distortion here. Hume was not a leader of the Civil Rights Association. Rather he was a conservative nationalist who marched within the loose federation that was the Civil Rights Movement. His response to the iconic October 5th march in 1968 attacked by the RUC, was to appear on the 6th of October with a newly formed Derry Citizens Action committee, formed in alliance with the Church and the Derry Traders Association to act as a restraining force on the radical mobilisation.

He was already active on social issues, but this was a gradualist movement with close links with the Catholic Church – a housing association, a Credit Union and a campaign for a University campus in Derry.

A new political movement was being born. The old Nationalist Party had fallen into decay and opposed any protest. The slogan of its leader, Eddie McAteer, was,

“Half a loaf is better than no bread”

Hume and the nascent Social Democatic and Labour Party had more of an ‘Oliver Twist’ approach that can be summed up as;

“Please sir, can we have some more?”

As with the Nationalist Party, they were willing to operate within the confines set by the Orange state. Where the Nationalist party were content to receive favours for the middle class and the Church, the new nationalists wanted a place at the table and a share of political power.

So the voice of John Hume was the voice of conservative nationalism, of the Catholic Church and of the Catholic business class. Later this voice was sponsored by Irish capitalism as a whole and, following US supported academic studies in America, it was the local voice of the Irish-American lobby inside the Democatic Party.

The ideology that emerged was intoned ad infinitum in what became known satirically as ‘the single transferable speech’.

Imperialism, sectarianism and class oppression were restated as cultural misunderstanding. Border watchtowers, troops, guns, tanks, all the material aspects of oppression counted for nothing – it was the divisions in people’s hearts that had to be addressed. We should ignore the physical reality of
British occupation and partition and focus on unionist perceptions. Moderation was the key. John Hume credited Gandhi with the saying;

“An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”.

He never dealt with the inverse; passive acceptance leaves the oppressed blind and the oppressors in full possession of their faculties.

Hume was no great speaker, tending towards monotone in interview. It is argued that he managed to win the day by constant repetition until he eventually won over his opponents.

That’s not the case. There was a bloody struggle in which thousands died. The British employed military repression and used loyalist killers to wage a war of terror. This combined with a resistance that focused in on militarism rather than linking to class politics led to defeat.

Throughout this period Hume and the SDLP consistently supported British institutions. Formal opposition to British violence ran alongside bitter condemnation of Republican violence. In a long nationalist tradition of acting as recruiting sergeants they supported the formation of an Ulster Defence Regiment to replace the notorious “B” Specials, earning the nickname of stoops – the Stoop Down Low Party.

It was not Hume’s speech that changed, but the environment in which it was delivered. The defeat of the Republican hunger strikers and the collapse of Republican strategy led to a sharp shift to the right and to the Provisionals adopting the constitutionalist nationalist ideology of Hume. This is his singular triumph: the conversion of a defeated Republicanism.

Hume’s ideology serves to explain events rather than to have driven them. His arguments did not lead to the current settlement but merely served to explain it. Much of the show was simply window dressing. The Nobel Peace Prize with unionist leader Trimble, the dance on the stage choreographed by the obnoxious Bono, all took centre stage when the real deal in the background was between London and Dublin, supported by the USA. The bit actors were retired, with Adams taking over from Hume and Sinn Fein taking over from the SDLP as the voice of a chastened nationalism.

John Hume’s later years were sad and dogged by serious illness. In his final moments he was not well served by his friends. The torrent of adulation from people like Blair and Clinton leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, as does the sugary praise of Sinn Fein. Comparisons with Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King are particularly obnoxious. These people suffered serious violence and oppression at the hands of the state and advanced the cause of the oppressed. John Hume was early on recognised as the voice of ‘reason’ and treated with deference by the British. Protests and threats came from his own constituents, unhappy with his representation of their struggle.

Perhaps the most honest assessment was from former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:

“Today, we mourn the passing of one of Ireland’s greatest ever sons. He ranks alongside O’Connell and Parnell in the pantheon of Ireland’s great leaders”.

This is the pantheon that John Hume can be associated with – representatives of constitutional Irish capitalism in contradiction to its long revolutionary history.

John Hume’s victory is echoed in the fervent praise of former opponents won over to his ideology. He would, I believe, be content to be given credit for today’s Ireland – a “shared” Ireland where an Irish democracy is indefinitely postponed. Little has changed in the life chances of the working class in Belfast and Derry, but the middle classes reek of self satisfaction at their place in the sun.

The permanence of Hume’s legacy depends heavily on the permanence of the peace settlement – a structure that after decades has yet to demonstrate any stability.

5.8.20

This article was first posted at:- http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentATriumphOfIdeologyJohnHume.html

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Aug 11 2020

ON ‘ANTISEMITISM’

Roland Rance of Socialist Resistance explains the political significance of the term ‘antisemitism’. 

ON ‘ANTISEMITISM’

 

One specious argument that those of us active in Palestine solidarity hear time after time is the hoary line that “Jews are not really Semites, so why say that they are the victims of antisemitism”, or its many variants, such as “Palestinians are Semites too”.

The argument is specious because it is generally used not in a spirit of genuine inquiry, but in order to obscure and even justify incidents of anti-Jewish bigotry. But it is also specious because it uses pseudo-scientific arguments and half-understood etymological claims to make a reactionary political case. Continue reading “ON ‘ANTISEMITISM’”

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Aug 10 2020

LATEST POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN IRELAND – SOUTH AND NORTH

We are posting an update on the most recent political developments in the Dail and Stormont from Socialist Democracy (Ireland). 

 

1. DUBLIN GOVERNMENT SUPPRESSES THE PARLIAMENTARY LEFT – BUT EXACTLY WHO ARE THE LEFT?

 

  1. 33rd Irish Dail

     

The 33rd Irish Dail has demonstrated in spades just how unstable it is. Effectively a national government of opposing parties, held together by a Green Party glue, they stumbled in their first month with a faction fight inside Fianna Fail and the sacking of a minister.  More recently a Green Party TD resigned the whip to vote against limitations on a rent freeze while a Green minister abstained.

The plans for dealing with that instability were made clear on 30th July,  when new parliamentary speaking rules were introduced,  severely curtailing the rights of the smaller opposition parties and the Dail is now closing for the summer. Continue reading “LATEST POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN IRELAND – SOUTH AND NORTH”

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Aug 10 2020

PALESTINE, PAYMENTS AND PURGES

Sir Keith Starmer is out to prove that Labour can be relied upon as a safe alternative party of government, argues David Shearer of Labour Party Marxists

 

PALESTINE, PAYMENTS AND PURGES

 

Last week Keir Starmer gave his clearest signal yet that under his leadership the Labour Party can be relied upon to act as a loyal ally of US imperialism, particularly when it comes to the Middle East.I am, of course, referring to the huge sum that Starmer agreed to pay out of Labour coffers to seven former staff members and John Ware, a prize-winning freelance reporter (his awards include the Commitment to Media Award from the Women’s International Zionist Organization). The payment was to cover legal fees and reputational damages which resulted from the statement issued by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn in response to the Panorama documentary, ‘Is Labour anti-Semitic?’.
Broadcast on July 10 2019, it had just about everyone being interviewed answering the question contained in the title in the affirmative – although virtually no supporting evidence was produced to back up the extraordinarily vague and unsubstantiated claims that were made by so many, including the presenter.1

Continue reading “PALESTINE, PAYMENTS AND PURGES”

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Aug 10 2020

FROM GREY TO RED GRANITE

This is the introduction to a full article by Allan Armstrong. A link will be provided to Allan’s Intfrobel website, as soon as this article has been completed.

 

FROM GREY TO RED GRANITE 

Viewing the Left and the Scottish Question through the Lens of  Neil Davidson’s Writings and Political Work  

 

 

Neil Davidson died tragically early on May 3rd this year. Neil bridged the gap between Left academia and political activism. His reputation in Left academia was highlighted by the Deutscher Memorial Prize he won in 2003 for The Discovery of the Scottish Revolution, 1692-1740. Unlike many such books (including some which are well worth reading), Neil’s book made an immediate impact on the Left and beyond, and not only in Scotland. This is because the National Question in Scotland had become very politicised and the Left was still in the process of trying to address this issue – it still is.

Continue reading “FROM GREY TO RED GRANITE”

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Jul 28 2020

THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN IRELAND AFTER THE FORMATION OF THE COALITION GOVERNMENT

We are posting two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) about the political situation on Ireland since the formation of the Fianna Fail, Fine Gael/Grene Party coalition government.

WHAT IS A SHARED IRELAND AND IS A BORDER POLL THE ANSWER?

The new programme for government for the three party coalition in Dublin includes a commitment to a ‘shared island’. The proposals include a new unit within the Taoiseach’s office which will work towards; ‘consensus on a shared island’, a strategic review of the British-Irish relationship, the consolidation of North-South co-operation, strengthening of ‘Strand 3’ institutions like the British Irish Intergovernmental Council and a deepening of Ireland’s relationships with the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland. If you haven’t heard of these its because they are meaningless prinkles designed to decorate the renewed partition of Ireland contained in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Continue reading “THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN IRELAND AFTER THE FORMATION OF THE COALITION GOVERNMENT”

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Jul 28 2020

‘FAR LEFT FASCISM’: THE NON-EXISTENT DISORDER

As part of our continuing coverage of the political situation in the USA, we are posting this article by Susan Pashkoff. This was first posted by Socialist Resistance.

 

‘FAR LEFT FASCISM’: THE NON-EXISTENT DISORDER

 

 

As I watched the coronavirus pandemic spread globally and the resulting global economic crisis my only thoughts were that Trump would run his re-election campaign based on divide and rule and trying to create a white-backlash, writes Susan Pashkoff. It was an obvious deduction and I claim no powers of divination (think of that as a good thing as I often sit postulating what is the worst thing that can happen while praying to non-existent gods that  hopefully I am wrong).

While granting the peculiarities of some of the far-right in the US in their abhorrence of the idea of a central government; there is as much need to debunk the idea of far-left fascism as there is to debunk the existence of unicorns that fart rainbows. Continue reading “‘FAR LEFT FASCISM’: THE NON-EXISTENT DISORDER”

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Jul 28 2020

ISRAEL, IRAN AND WEST BANK ANNEXATION

We are posting two articles on the situation in Israel and the Middle East. The first for Socialist Democracy (Ireland) is about Netahyahu’s planned annexation of a further 30% of the West Bank. The second by Yassamine Mather, of Hands off the Peoples of Iran (HOPI), is about the Iranian regime’s response to Netanyahu’s move.

 

1. WEST BANK ANNEXATION

 

The anouncement by Netanyahu that Israel intends to annex 30% of the West bank and a greater proportion of Jerusalem itself has provoked anger among Palestinians and their supporters internationally and uncertainty among some Zionist supporters.  But despite the presentation of this latest outrage as something new it is best viewed as a continuation of the historic theft of Palestine from the Palestinian people. Continue reading “ISRAEL, IRAN AND WEST BANK ANNEXATION”

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Jul 12 2020

THE UK STATE, RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN 2020 – rUK IT or fUK IT?

Allan Armstrong has produced his third online pamphlet, following The Continuing Shift from Neo-Liberalism to Right Populism. This follows the last update which looked at the impact of Right Populism and reactionary unionism on the politics of the these islands after the December 12th UK and February 8th Irish general elections. The contents  of the latest  pamphlet (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/dec12th-covid-19-and-blm-scotland2-5.pdf) are shown below. This is followed by two sections from the pamphlet specifically relating to the recent and current situation in Scotland, which form the basis for Allan’s talk on the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Republican Party Zoom meeting.

 

THE UK STATE, RIGHT POPULISM AND  

REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN 2020

rUK it or fUK it?

 A republican communist analysis in the aftermath of December 12th general election, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter 

Allan Armstrong. 6.7.20

 

 

Contents

A. FROM THE DECEMBER 12TH WESTMINSTER GENERAL ELECTION THROUGH THE COVID-19 CRISIS

Continue reading “THE UK STATE, RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN 2020 – rUK IT or fUK IT?”

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Jul 11 2020

ISRAEL MOVES EVEN FURTHER RIGHT BUT EXPERIENCES A SETBACK

We are posting two articles about the attempts to criminalise Palestinian solidarity. The first, by Moshe Machover,  covers the the Israeli government’s appointment of the overtly anti-Arab racist, Tzipi Hotovely, as ambassador to the UK. The second, from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee, explains the significance of the victory for BDS as a result of the ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights. It is easy to see why the Toties want to break with the ECHR! 

 

1. WEAPON OF FIRST RESORT

 

 

A morally malodorous product of Israel’s political putrefaction is about to be catapulted to these shores in the form of that country’s next ambassador to the Court of St James, Ms Tzipi Hotovely. This has caused a split in Britain’s Zionist circles, as many members panic at the thought of how much more difficult it will make their obligatory task of Israel advocacy. I will come to that later; but first let me explain the link between Israel’s political corruption and Tzipi Hotovely’s prospective appointment. Please bear with me, as the tale is somewhat tangled. Continue reading “ISRAEL MOVES EVEN FURTHER RIGHT BUT EXPERIENCES A SETBACK”

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