Jul 26 2002

Hamish Henderson (OBE declined) 1919-2002

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 02RCN @ 7:23 pm

Hamish Henderson, folklorist, poet, Scottish internationalist and socialist died on March 3rd this year. In the year of the golden jubilee, it is worth remembering that Hamish turned down an OBE in 1983. Whilst Scotland’s semi-official nationalist anthem, Flower of Scotland, is sung by Princess Anne at Scottish rugby matches, Hamish’s internationalist anthem, Freedom Come All Ye ranks with Burns’ A Man’s a Man as one of the great anthems written for all humankind.

Freedom Come Aa Ye (Scots)

Roch the win i the clear day’s dawin
Blaws the clouds heilster-gowdie owre the bay
But there’s mair nor a roch win blawin
Thro the Great Glen o the warl the day
It’s a thocht that wad gar our rottans
Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay
Tak the road an seek ither loanins
Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play

Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war whan our braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Murn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw
Broken faimilies in launs we’ve hairriet
Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare

Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom
In yer hous aa the bairns o Adam
Will fin breid, barley-bree an paintit room
Whan MacLean meets wi’s friens in Springburn
Aa thae roses an geeans will turn tae blume
An a black laud frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun.

Freedom Come All Ye (English)

It’s a rough wind in the clear day’s dawning
Blows the clouds head-over-heels across the bay
But there’s more than a rough wind blowing
Through the Great Glen of the world today
It’s a thought that would make our rodents
All those rogues who strut and swagger,
Take the road and seek other pastures
To carry out their wicked schemes

No more will our fine young men
March to war at the behest of jingoists and imperialists
Nor will young children from mining communities and rural hamlets
Mourn the ships sailing off down the River Clyde
Broken families in lands we’ve helped to oppress
will never again have reason to curse the sound of advancing Scots
Black and white, united in friendship and marriage
Will result in the military garrisons being abandoned and empty

So come all ye who love freedom
Pay no attention to the prophets of doom
In your house all the children of Adam
Will be welcomed with food, drink and hospitality
When the spirit of John Maclean returns to his people
All the flowers will blossom
And black Africa will bring crashing down
All Imperialism’s dreadful apparatus of oppression

Translated by Dick Gaughan

Tags: , ,

Jul 26 2002

Jubilee: Ireland

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 02RCN @ 7:16 pm

John McAnulty remembers the Silver Jubilee celebrations, 25 years ago

One of the unfortunate things about being long in the tooth is that you occasionally have to confess to being present at historical events. I have to confess to being a political activist at the time of the last jubilee, 25 years ago. In fact, following a broad meeting of republican and left activists, I had the honour of being appointed chair of the Elizabeth Windsor welcome committee in Belfast. The title indicates the rather light-hearted approach that we took. A series of counter-events would surely expose the arrant nonsense of this feudal relic ruling over us.

Internment by remand

Unfortunately the British state did not take such a light-hearted view. A few days later the RUC smashed their way into my home at 5.00am, arrested me, interrogated me for several days in the notorious Castlereagh torture centre, charged me with possessing information likely to be of use to terrorists, and held me on remand for the next six months. I was released hours before the British would finally have had to produce evidence in court to justify my imprisonment. This was a common practice at that time, generally called internment by remand.

The other members of the committee continued with the organising work and by the time of the Windsor visit they had built a mass demonstration of tens of thousands of people that marched down the Falls Road and attempted to enter the city centre to protest the visit. The British state took an even less light-hearted view of this. Not only did they launch a vicious attack on the demonstrators, they did so after surrounding the demonstration on all sides and ensuring that there was no escape. Everyone, from young babies to pensioners, cowered in crushed groups of 20 or 30 in tiny terraced houses while those left on the street were spread-eagled on the ground and systematically beaten. I learned then that the Windsor dynasty was not some leftover relic of the past but a vital component of the British state, forming a number of vital functions.

Some of these functions were particular to the North of Ireland. Here the symbols of royalty were also the badges of sectarian privilege and of sectarian discrimination and consciously used by the state in mobilise a loyal Protestant militia. Members of the Royal Family were used as a sort of opium to pacify loyalism when it became restive. The sight of loyalist thugs swelling up with a boozy sentimentality would have been funny if it were not for the horrific reality.

In addition you had the usual run of gongs, bells, medals and titles designed to cement politicians and minor state functionaries even more closely to the throne. Usually this involved only the most loyal of Castle Catholics, while the rest of the Catholic middle class looked on enviously and cursed their inability to join in.

Denial of democracy

Above all, of course, the Royal Family represented a denial of democracy. Undemocratic in their own right, they were doubly undemocratic standing under the soil of Ireland and claiming dominion there.

It is important to recognise however that when we oppose the Royal Family we oppose its modern incarnation as a mechanism of capitalist rule. The institution of royalty represents the right of capital to rule directly without any necessity for elections or parliaments. The armed organs of the state swear allegiance to the crown.

What was refreshing about the mass struggle in Ireland, what wedded socialists to republican activists was what Lenin called the general democratic content of the programme of revolutionary nationalism. As a sentiment this is alive and well in the North of Ireland but it lacks any major form of political expression. As with so much else in mainstream republicanism democratic principle has been recast as culture. Catholics respectfully keep their distance while respecting Protestants right to be slaves of the Windsors. The idea that there is a democratic principle that seeks to unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter under the banner of revolution has been lost in the capitulation to bourgeois nationalism.

The infrequent hurried royal visits to the North, buried under the cloak of secrecy are to be replaced by a leisurely 3-day triumphal tour in May.

Even so the coming Jubilee visit to the North still attracts some nervousness. In the early ‘60s, when opposition to British rule seemed totally crushed, the Queen made a visit to Belfast. Two republican workmen were arrested after a brick fell from high above Royal Avenue onto the Royal cavalcade.

I am far from suggesting that a well-placed brick can replace class struggle as a means of resolving the feudal elements of the British state or the British occupation of Ireland. The sentiment that aims the brick is however a good starting point.

Tags: , ,

Mar 24 2002

Red Republicans or just Red Reformers?

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 01RCN @ 7:52 pm

As Elizabeth Windsor’s Golden Jubilee approaches, Mary Ward argues why all democrats should be republicans

If, like me, you view the events of the coming Jubilee with a mixture of revulsion and anger, then you may well be assuming that the republican left has gone to sleep or all been deported such has been the lack of activity from our side. The palace spin-doctors have done what they always do and couched the event in such reasonable and philanthropic terms that only mad extremists could possibly have room for complaint.

The Labour Party left (what remains of it) has been warned to be at best mildly supportive at worst silent. The media looks forward to a photo bonanza while we in the SSP can look forward to a conference battle on whether or not we, as an anti monarchy party, should just close our eyes and hope the Jubilee goes away or whether we actually organise democratic events in opposition to the parasitic rule of the unelected monarch and her family.

Continue reading “Red Republicans or just Red Reformers?”

Tags: , , , , , ,