Crisis and Class Struggle in Ireland after the General Election

Statement by Supporters of the RCIT in Britain, 22.3.2016, https://rcitbritain.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

The result of the recent Irish General election was inconclusive. The results show that the major capitalist party Fianna Gael and its coalition party in government, the Irish Labour Party, are no longer the government. Ireland has a proportional system of government very different from Britain’s (first past the post system). Fianna Gael has 50 seats in the new Parliament (the Dael) and Fianna Fáil, the other capitalist party, has 44. Sinn Fein, a petty-bourgeois nationalist party, got 23 seats. The Labour Party (seen as a party of Austerity) did badly and returned only 7 TD’s (MP’s). The left-wing anti-austerity electoral alliance – consisting basically of the Anti-Austerity Alliance (mainly Socialist Party supporters in Ireland) and People before Profit (mainly Socialist Workers Party supporters in Ireland) – returned 6 TD’s. Some more radical leftist TD’s were elected as independents.

 

The working class, the youth and the oppressed masses gave their answer to the previous Fianna Gael / Labour coalition, a government of big business and capitalism. The biggest issue facing the Irish masses was water charges where both the SWP and the Socialist Party – two pseudo-Trotskyist organizations – had organised a campaign for non-payment of water charges.

 

Sinn Fein and five major trade unions supported the Right2 Water / Right to Change policy which unlike the centrists does not call for non-payment. Both campaigns have led to extreme opposition to the government’s policies and have reached proportions similar to the non-payment of the poll tax against Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s.

 

The election result with no clear mandate has meant that there is no government at the moment. Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and leader of Fianna Gael, the biggest party have not reached any agreement with either Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein to form a Coalition partner. Social inequality and indebtness prominent in Portugal and Spain and other Euro zone countries has produced the same crisis in Ireland. In Spain there is still no stable government and negotiations are continuing between PODEMOS an anti-austerity party as well as traditional parties to form a government.

 

It is clear that the opportunities for revolutionary change exist in Ireland. Unfortunately the centrists show an incapacity to recognise what these opportunities are. Both the SWP and the Socialist Party tag behind the trade union bureaucracy who can offer no solution and for years have been inactive supporting the reformist policies of the discredited Labour party. What these centrists fail to understand is that the trade union bureaucracy are part of the capitalist state, they are the agents of capitalism in the workers movement and must all costs, as Lenin and Trotsky advocated, be expelled and driven out of the movement. (1)

 

Brutal Austerity Offensive against the Irish Working Class and Poor

 

Ireland historically has been oppressed and exploited as a colony by British imperialism in the past and which today continues to exist as a semi-colonial country subjugated by the imperialist powers – Britain and the EU. This has been confirmed once more in the last years when it suffered – similar to Greece – a brutal austerity offensive under the dictate of financial sharks as well as Brussels and carried out by the Irish government.

 

As a result, Ireland, like all the Eurozone countries, is beset with extreme poverty, homelessness and social inequality. Over €30bn (£21bn) in austerity measures were introduced – public spending cuts and tax increases (mostly the former), over 15% of GDP. However, two-thirds of austerity went to destroy Irish social and economic life, with unemployment, poverty, liquidations, suicides, etc.

 

The consequences for Irish workers and poor have been dramatic. The proportion of people in consistent poverty has soared by 100%, according to the Irish think tank Social Justice Ireland. Almost 1.4 million Irish residents, or 30% of Ireland’s population, were forced to endure “enforced deprivation” throughout 2013, according to the state’s Central Statistics Office. Among them there are over 440,000 children and more than 90,000 pensioners. (2)

 

This demonstrates once again that capitalism as a crisis-prone system is a barrier to human and social progress and condemns ordinary people to poverty and misery. It also demonstrates that the European Union is an imperialist super-state which enforces barbaric austerity programs on the working class and in particular on economically weak, semi-colonial countries like Ireland or Greece.

 

The National Question: An Unresolved Issue

 

Related to this is the still unresolved national question. Ireland was divided by imperialist Britain in 1922 after Westminster could no longer continue with the colonial occupation of the whole island given the mass resistance of the Irish people. Today, the six counties in the north of the island remain occupied by the British. The Irish national liberation movement has been fighting for the complete elimination of the occupation and the reunification of the island. The RCIT Britain supports this struggle but emphases that the national struggle must be combined with a socialist perspective for the creation of a sovereign United 32-County Irish Workers’ Republic.

 

Unfortunately all of the centrists have ignored the national question and the incarceration by the British and Irish state of Irish republican prisoners. There is no mention of the important anti-imperialist struggle being conducted by republicans who rejected the betrayal of the leaderships of Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) when they signed the Good Friday agreement with the Blair Government in 1998. There are still a number of Irish political prisoners who are being humiliated, beaten and receiving some of the harshest sentences by both the British and Irish states. Beatings and other forms of torture are inflicted by prison officers. (3) There was no mention of these practices by either the Anti-Austerity Alliance or by People before Profit during their election campaigns.

 

Perspectives

 

The RCIT in Britain calls for a united front with all the forces fighting social inequality and austerity in Ireland. We put forward the following proposals to unite all sections of the oppressed and working poor in the struggle against austerity.

* Stop the austerity offensive!

* For non-payment of water charges! Organise local committees of action to defend tenants and householders threatened with prosecution and imprisonment!

* Cancel all household debts! Occupy empty housing oppose all evictions!

* Legalise the right to strike to withdraw your Labour!

* Oppose all imperialist wars! Free all political prisoners in Ireland!

* For a Workers Government based upon Councils of action and armed popular militias!

* For a United 32-County Irish Workers’ Republic!

* For a United Socialist States of Europe!

 

In order to enhance the struggle for such a perspective it is crucial to build a revolutionary party in Britain and Ireland as part of a revolutionary workers International, the Fifth International. The RCIT in Britain and Ireland is dedicated to this task. If you agree with our perspective join us.

 

Footnotes

(1) Unfortunately this is also forgotten, once more, by the comrades of Red Flag in their article on Ireland. (See “The Changing Face of Irish Politics”; in: The Red Flag No. 3 (March 2016), http://www.redflagonline.org/2016/03/the-changing-face-of-irish-politics/

(2) On the austerity offensive see e.g. OXFAM: The True Cost of Austerity and Inequality, Ireland Case Study, September 2013; Patrick Honohan (Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland): Debt and austerity: post-crisis lessons from Ireland, 17 November 2015, London School of Economics and Political Science; Michael Taft: Ireland is no model for Greece, 10 July 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/world/economics-blog/2015/jul/10/ireland-no-model-greece-troika-austerity; Russia Today: ‘A social obscenity’: 30 percent of Ireland’s population living in ‘enforced deprivation’, 21 Jan, 2015 https://www.rt.com/news/224851-ireland-poverty-crisis-debt/

(3) As a side note we remark that these police men and guards are, in the eyes of the centrist Socialist Party, “workers in Uniform” which they support and invite onto their platforms.

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About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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