The Peace Process

From the first IRA cease-fire in August 1994 Red Action has argued that the peace process was an Irish Republican Movement strategy. And precisely because of that ownership, the peace process should be recognised by opponents and supporters alike as 'subversive'. We do not pretend that the subversive peace process line won over many converts from the English Left. Most were derisive: best summarised by the sniggering SWP claim that: ' At least Arafat got the West Bank Adams got nothing!' Another particularly dotty Trot sect, who incidentally never supported the armed struggle, is rumoured to be calling an 'anti-imperialist conference' in Ireland in order to galvanise support amongst dissidents in response to IRA Army Council treachery. As Adams famously commented to a similarly opinioned heckler at a public meeting in Dublin: 'Fair play to you: cease fire-soldier!' Significant perhaps that the heckler was, as it turned out, a pro-Unionist, Democratic Left fellow traveller.

Red Action from its foundation has recognised armed struggle as a legitimate tactic. Legitimate in the sense that it was morally right for a people to take up arms against an occupying army, and legitimate in the sense it was an appropriate, indeed vital component, in pursuit of the wider strategical objective. But armed struggle is a tactic. Never a principle, or an end in itself. From either end of the spectrum the English left appear to draw no such distinction. For them, the abandonment of the tactic is the abandonment of the goal. Simple as that. So for some exaltation; crocodile tears for others: "After nearly 30 years the revolutionary situation that gripped the Six Counties, and which throughout that time implicitly endangered the constitutional existence of both the United Kingdom and the Twenty Six Counties is about to be resolved negatively. 'The peace of the oppressors has overcome the violence of the oppressed". (Weekly Worker May 4 1998)
This is reality - inverted. It is never the oppressed who militarise a situation; and in the present context it is not the oppressor whose initiative it is to demilitarise it. The British militarised the situation. And only republicans have an agenda for demilitarisation. However by so doing, there are cat calls from the English Left that they have thrown in the towel, sold out, bottled it, let the anti-imperialist side down. From '68 to '98 the overriding concern of our fine revolutionaries has always been, not how they might affect the war but how the war effected them. To paraphrase JFK, 'ask not what I can do for republicanism but what republicanism can do for me'. From the outset this has been the premise. In lieu of authentic internationalism, (where in the interests of the self determination of another country you fight your own ruling class) we have instead, with the ceasefire as backdrop, the articulation and hopes of English Liberalism on the one hand set against the equally self absorbed perspectives of English Communism on the other. Have the Irish not endured enough?

Reproduced from RA vol 3, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '98