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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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

IRISH GOVERNMENT HYPOCRISY

The following three articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) contrasts how the Irish government deals with mega-corporations, 12,000 Aer Lingus workers threatened with redundancy, and sacked Debenhams’ workers who have taken action

 

IRELAND BEATS THE RAP ON TAX FRAUD

We would sell out to anyone, claims defence!

Irish government assists Apple in $13B tax fraud

 

The announcement that the European Court had rejected a Commission fine of over €13 billion for a tax scheme with the Apple corporation was greeted with jubilation in Ireland.

The nervous hilarity was reminiscent of a bad melodrama where the Mafia clan escape a guilty verdict through the brilliance of their genius lawyer. The flaw in the European Commission’s case was that it was based on selective advantage. It failed to show that two rulings given by the Irish Revenue, in 1991 and 2007, afforded Apple a selective advantage. Continue reading “IRISH GOVERNMENT HYPOCRISY”

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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

GERMANY LEADS THE WAY OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

The latest in the regular E&L Covid-19 articles was first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) and addressed the post Covid-19 Lockdown situation in Germany.

 

GERMANY LEADS THE WAY OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

 

We all know that Germany is the most important State in Europe, the economy is the fourth largest in the world, making up 28 percent of the GDP of the EU.  It may not storehouse much ‘soft power’ when it comes to cultural markers like music, films and books, that being overwhelmingly American, it still makes the important political decisions for the rest of Europe.

Until recently Germany had a good coronavirus response in comparison to many of its neighbours: Continue reading “GERMANY LEADS THE WAY OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN”

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Jul 02 2020

STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS

This article, first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland), examines a socially reactionary role of Stormont  over women’s abortion rights. 

STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS

 

On the 2nd June  Stormont Assembly passed a DUP motion calling for the rejection of abortion law enacted at Westminster. A Sinn Fein amendment which solely dealt with abortions in cases of severe disability was defeated. While the vote has no effect on the laws the DUP claimed that it would send a message to Westminster that the regulations are not supported by Stormont. Continue reading “STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS”

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Jun 16 2020

THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

These two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) look at the response in Ireland (south and north) to the killing of George Floyd and then the response of the  PSNI and the Garda to these demonstrations. The first article argues for the power of solidarity in the face of shared exploitation and oppression rather the  ‘allyship’ based on intersectional identity. Both  highlight the role of the Garda and PSNI in attempting to suppress the demonstrations. The first article also points  to the role of  Garda in suppressing the Debenham workers in Dublin (1).  The second article highlights the response of the Stormont government, falling back on the PSNI’s RUC past to enforce the harshest state response in the UK to these demonstrations.

 

1. GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

 

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Belfast

 

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations across Ireland have shown a massive upwelling of support for the protestors in the US. They show the immense power of spontaneous human solidarity. This is not “allyship” based on modern identity ideologies, but a concrete solidarity that sees racism and oppression in the Irish State and the British colonial enclave and is not afraid to say so. Initial demonstrations took place spontaneously across the island, with the main demonstrations in Dublin and Belfast. They were followed by more structured demonstrations on Saturday 6th June in Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Derry and many other centres. Although all were pressured by the police, with a number being cancelled and a Newry demonstration dispersed, turnout was in the thousands at the main demonstrations with black protestors joined by large numbers of white, mostly young, activists. Continue reading “THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND”

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Jun 11 2020

FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’

This article, originally posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) looks at the attempts by People before Profit and RISE to form a ‘Left government’ in Ireland with Sinn Fein. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’

 

Time for Unity – with whom and for what?

 

Recently People before Profit reopened talks with Sinn Fein about building an alternative left government in opposition to the attempts by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to construct a parliamentary majority. Continue reading “FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’”

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Jun 08 2020

BREXIT HASN’T GONE AWAY – THE VIEW FROM IRELAND

This article first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland)  highlights the continuing relevance of Brexit to the British ruling class national populist strategy to attack the working class, and to continued inability of the the British Labour leadership now under Sir Keith Starmer to counter this.

 

The only alternative to Brexit – a Trump dictated trade deal

 

BREXIT HASN’T GONE AWAY – A pandemic of repression is on its way

After months of silence Brexit has returned to the headlines. It’s sudden reappearance runs alongside a realisation that nothing has been done, and that a deadline of June 30th is rapidly approaching without any progress. The signs are that a slow motion car crash is taking place and that Britain is falling out of the European Union without any agreement. Continue reading “BREXIT HASN’T GONE AWAY – THE VIEW FROM IRELAND”

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