The current Sinn Fein leadership has failed in its principal long standing aim of achieving a 32 county Irish republic. This is because achievement of national self-determination of the Irish people is impossible under capitalism. It supported the IRA's capitulation to the forces of British imperialism. Sinn Fein has returned to the position taken many years ago by what is today called the Workers Party. It has also effectively accepted the same deal, the Good Friday Agreement, as was accepted by the SDLP many years ago in the form of the Sunningdale Agreement.
Following this surrender its popular and electoral strength has
ironically grown enormously over the years. Accordingly the electoral
success of Sinn Fein, North and South of the border, has been on the
basis of defeat, failure and surrender. In a sense failure appears as
success to much of the Irish working class.
Ironically the Irish citizenry are apparently fooled by this political
charade. It rewards failure and surrender at the ballot box. Logically,
if anything, Sinn Fein should have suffered wipe-out at the ballot box.
Ironically the SDLP was the successful party in the North since it was
essentially its programme that SF submitted to with its acceptance of
the Good Friday Agreement. Yet the SDLP suffered electoral slaughter at
the hustings in the North.
The Irish citizenry suffers from a (schizoid) contradiction. There is an
absence of logic in their political consciousness. Its morality is
venal. Sinn Fein, within the context of the Irish republic, make many
promises. Promises that they cannot support given that it supports
capitalism as a social system. Its programme is unrealisable under
capitalism. Given its abject and opportunist abandonment of the national
struggle their is no guarantee that it will not blithely abandon its
current programme too when its political circumstances change. Yet the
public apear to learn nothing. The Official Republican camp did the
same. By abandoning its original aim -- the achievement of a 32 Irish
Republic- its popular support increased eventually giving it seats in
the Dail. DeValera and his comrades did the same. This led to their
growing popularity and electoral successs culminating in its forming the
first Fianna Fail government. In Ireland failure and abandonment of
politial principles spells success.
Clearly this is a serious problem that reflects the current character of
the modern working class in Ireland. Its an indication of the venal
nature of the Irish working class. It has no interest in principled
politics. It is merely concerned with supporting elements within society
that it believes will "protect", even appear to increase its economic
benefits. It has the hallmarks of what Lenin and elements within the
German radical Left in the first quarter of the 20th century termed "the
labour aristocracy". The real poor in Irish society are a marginal
group that is largely ignored. The Irish electorate within the state
south of the border is merely concerned with maintaining its living
standards even if that means voting for a party that supported bombings
and killings for a cause that it later abandoned. Its principle is its
pocket. The venal Irish working class is not concerned with eliminating
the systemic exploitation of labour power once it has money in its
pocket. It does not care as to the blood stained nature of any bourgeois
party once it believes it will protect its holidays abroad. It is a
working class infected by the acquisitiveness of capitalist morality. In
the Marcusean sense it is a bourgeois working class.
A radically fundamental change ( a paradigm shift) in the culture of the
working class is necessary if it is to become a revolutionary force. As
a revolutionary force it must adhere to principled libetarian politics.
Effecting such a coomprehensive transformation is a long and arduous
process. It will not necessarily occur in the short term and it has to
be realised by the class itself. There cannot be any substitutionism.
The anti-water charges campaign has little or nothing to do with class
politics. This populist campaign has not become a force because the
working class is moving to the Left. It is simply an opportunist
campaign that simply wants a return to the status quo ante. It is a
venal response to growing hardship caused by the austerity measures
imposed by the state. It is not anti-statist nor anti-capitalist
campaign. The diverse elements that constitute it merely want a return
to previous living standards. They are not engaged in challenging the
class nature of Irish society and the need for its replacement with
Consequently parties such as the Socialist Party and the Socialist
Workers Party are merely accommodating this opportunism by their
involvement in the anti-water charges campaign. Indeed the Irish working
class have shown its first signs of vitality over the water charges
issue. Yet this mass mobilisation is being mounted at a time when the
Irish capitalist class have recovered from the shock and collapse in
confidence suffered by it in the aftermath of the financial crisis of
2007/8. This earlier period would have been a politically more correct
period for mass mobilisation. But again the reactionary Irish working
class get it wrong. Questions need to be raised concerning the nature of
the Irish working class. Romanticising the working class as undertaken
by the radical left merely holds back any chances of authentic political
development. It is almost a taboo among this Left to make any serious
criticisms of this working class. Left communists are not obliged to
pander to a working class that has been backward for so long.
In order to stand a chance of assisting in the revolutionising of the
consciousness of the working class it is necessary that communists
struggle to raise the consciousness of the most class conscious elements
within the working class. Its aim is the raising of class consciousness
as opposed to appealing to the less politically conscious strata within
the working class by coming down to its level through the medium of the
anti-water charges campaign.