Dec 09 2016

BEFORE AND AFTER THE ‘RETURN OF THE BRUTE’

 

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As the official celebrations and the unofficial commemorations of the centenary of the First World War continue, many personal accounts, poems and novels written about this period have been published or republished. One novel, not yet republished, is Return of the Brute, written by Liam O’Flaherty. David Trotter, in The Cambridge Companion to The Literature of the First World War, argues that, unlike most British war novels, it was written by an author of proletarian origin. Whilst O’Flaherty was Irish, Trotter is right in considering  Return of the Brute to be a British war novel. It is based upon the author’s experiences fighting in the British army on the western front.  The novel “intended to do justice to the brute’s point of view” [1], where the “brute” stands for working-class soldiers. If so, the “brute” refers to atomised, alienated and demoralised workers, brutalised by life on the western front.
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Sep 03 2014

UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican perspective

Allan Armstrong (RCN) has written an account of the Scottish independence campaign since the SNP launched its official ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign in 2012 up until the last two weeks before the September 18th referendum. This is based on several contributions Allan has already made on this blog. It is also a contemporary update of his historical piece, The Making and the Breaking of the UK State (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/01/11/internationalism-from-below-2/). This article also looks at the possibilities beyond September 18th.

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UP TO AND BEYOND THE SEPTEMBER 18th INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM – A socialist republican response

 

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a)                   The Scottish independence referendum – not an exercise by the UK of the right of self-determination

b)                   The SNP leadership’s strategy

c)                   Cameron’s strategy pushes Labour into the frontline of the defence of the Union in Scotland, whilst he controls things at a UK level

d)                   Attempts to widen the political base of support for the Union

e)                   The new challenge to social liberalism and the ‘New Unionist’ settlement from UKIP, the Tory Right, the Ulster Unionists and Loyalists

f)                    Enter the unexpected – a new movement from below

g)                   The lack of class confidence underpins both official campaigns and the inherited weaknesses of the Left affect RIC too

h)                  After September 18th

 

a)         The Scottish independence referendum – not an exercise by the UK of the right of self-determination

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Apr 28 2013

GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT – THATCHER’S PROGRESSIVE LEGACY?

John McAnulty of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) helps to clear up some of the confusion about Thatcher’s legacy with regard to Ireland. Some have argued that, after ditching the hardline Ulster Unionists in the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, she opened up the way to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). John, however, highlights that, the degree to which Thatcher  was persuaded of the need to sideline ‘No Surrender’ Unionism, was also the degree to the British ruling class sought to maintain sectarian rule in ‘the Six Counties’, but in a new form. The Anglo-Irish Agreement  brought  the SDLP and Irish government on board, in a decidedly subordinate position, to help the UK state in running  Northern Ireland.  This  paved the way, after Thatcher’s removal by the Tories,  for the 1993 Downing Street Declaration. This brought the Republican Movement  on board. The GFA has led to a new partition within ‘the Six Counties’ with the constitutionally entrenched recognition of British Unionism and Irish Nationalism. We can see the roots of the current decay of the post-GFA Northern Ireland political order  in this continued sectarian legacy. Thatcher helped to ensure that this remained central to UK state policy, once she had decided to abandon her previous unquestioning support for the Ulster Unionist Party. 

Some new graffiti on the famous Free Derry Wall after Thatcher's death.

Some new graffiti on the famous Free Derry Wall after Thatcher’s death.

The 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement coincidentally coincided with the death of Margaret Thatcher. Given the recent flag riots, the confirmation of Orange supremacy in the streets and the new pan-unionist unity behind Robinson, the complaints of “lack of engagement” from Sinn Fein and watery threats by the British to withhold funds if the local administration does not move beyond sectarian patronage, it is not surprising if there is public discontent.

That discontent is buffered by a deep confusion. People are repelled by the actuality of the settlement, yet remain convicted that there is a hidden progressive core that will someday express itself.

A similar confusion hangs around the role of Thatcher. Many nationalists believe there were two Thatchers – a bad Thatcher who oppressed the hunger strikers and a good Thatcher who signed the Anglo Irish deal and laid the grounds for the peace process.

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