Not Waving, RA Vol 4, Issue 5, Feb/March '00

Socialist Outlook Meeting in Birmingham

‘REPUBLICANISM: IS THIS THE END?’ was the title of a public meeting organised by Socialist Outlook in Birmingham recently. ‘Trotskyism: is this the end?’ Birmingham Red Action mischie­vously countered in our own leaflet. Padraic Finn, of Socialist Democracy opened proceedings by dismissing the peace process as “the British dispensing temporary solutions to supplicate the nationalist movement”. He poured scorn on the simultaneous surge of support for Sinn Fein north and south “as nothing but community politics” adding, “republicanism had no perspective beyond that”. Furthermore by aligning themselves with ‘the forces of capitalism’, they had caused ‘the cutting off of working class nationalists in the north from those in the south - and in Britain’. “Helping Blair” he concluded “only makes problems for socialists in Ireland and here much worse”. As was so ably demonstrated, left to their own devices ‘socialists’ are perfectly capable of making plenty of problems for themselves without any outside interference thank you very much.

Workers Power demanded the IRA live up to its “military duty” to defend Catholics from attack. A member of Troops Out coolly suggested, that if they were so keen to defend ‘catholics’ perhaps they could take themselves off to Ireland and “arm themselves, possibly courtesy of the IRA”! Sadly WP couldn’t find it among themselves to offer even a half decent retort, and manfully swallowed the taunt with a gulp. A small incident, but which for some, epitomises the ‘voyeurism’ of Trotskyism. “They like to look but not touch” was how the Tiochfaidh Ar La editor put it recently.

A life long member of the pro-imperialist British Labour Party declared that Sinn Fein’s participation in the Executive was evidence of their eager­ness to shore up the “status quo”. Someone who I presume can at least claim to speak on the issue of the ‘status quo’ with some authority. The solitary Workers Action member, (not only in the meeting, but I suspect in the country) threatened at one stage “to expose what is going on”. So intricate was the conspiracy he declined to expand further. Overall the republican strategy boiled down to nothing more than an attempt to “democratise the Orange State” another whined.

But if indeed the six county statelet was democratised, then it could no longer be credibly defined as Orange surely? Even when allowed the fullest democracy themselves, Trotsky’s finest couldn’t decide when precisely the republican parrot had ceased to exist. The “collapse of the Soviet Union” was one offering. “Demobilising the solidarity forces with the Birmingham pub bombings” was another (perhaps this was the deliberate conspiracy our lonely friend was referring to?)

Generally the 30 year struggle had ended in “a historic defeat for the Irish working class.., as well as for the British working class” was Workers Powers’ conclusion. Only Socialist Democracy was willing to “oppose the combination of bankrupt military strategy” and the oft mentioned “compromises with imperialism”. That the “bankrupt military strategy” they had routinely denounced, (at least as far back as the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974), was now coupled in the same sentence, with an equally withering condemnation of the IRA “for compromising with imperialism” - that is to say for finally following their advice - was breath­taking.

Yet for those few who, like them, “wanted to move forward” it would not be easy. No.They would ‘have to go further’ they warned. This was their enigmatic Plan B. After 50 years of going nowhere, with nothing but their dogma for comfort, “going further” was politically very scary stuff indeed. But is it the end? Maybe not, but please God we are surely on the last chapter of a very thin book.

Bob Martin

Reproduced from RA Vol 4, Issue 5, Feb/March '00