THE CONNOLLY ASSOCIATION AND IRISH NATIONALISM: "SOVEREIGNTY AN OLD JOKE"

Submitted by dalcassian on 7 April, 2009 - 6:42 Author: SEAN MATGAMNA

There are people and organisations from whom Socialists will accept nothing short of hostility, and from whom anything less than abuse is disturbing. For example — the Connolly(!) Association — that curious organisation with the built in sarcasm and self-mockery in its name. Recently when their paper 'Irish Democrat' attacked us we took it as a pat on the back.

For many years the C.A. has acted in Britain as a labour-orientated Irish Nationalist and Anti-Partition organisation, some of whose members sometimes in private conversation describe themselves as socialists and even Marxists. But their socialism, like their Connollyism, is of the mythical Stalinist variety— and even this they keep hidden away under Desmond Greaves' bed, waiting for the day when Ireland will be 'ripe' for it to be shown publicly.

"JOIN THE BRITISH ARMY"

During the Second World War they were a recruiting agency for British Imperialism amongst Irish workers. This was their contribution to the cost of Stalin's deals with the British Empire.

And in the postwar period, they functioned for many years as an unofficial Fianna Fail propaganda agency amongst Irish workers in Britain. The incorruptible Greaves proclaimed it far and wide, into every corner his voice could reach, that the miserable F F Govt. which presided over economic stagnation, low wages and mass emigration, was the most progressive in Western Europe!

Th.e motive? The Irish Government had shown a flicker of independance towards NATO, and for the CA, with its eye to thc needs of Russian Diplomacy, this was a veritable progressive Sun in the heavens which lent its glow to everything else FF did. And thus we had an era of Progressive Depopulation, Progressive Low Wages, Progressive Collaboration With lmperialism On The Border, Progressive Jailings of Republicans Without Trial — everything in fact became progressive, including the ever more progressive degeneration of the CA. That was the time when some unkind soul summed up the CA's relationship with the Fianna Fail regime thus:

They simply camlot bribe or twist
The honest Irish Statinist,
But seeing what D. Greaves will do
Unbribed, there's no occasion to.

But lately F F has moved more into strict line with Imperialism, and as the Progressive Sun disappeared from the sky the glow went out of other thhlgs too. Today the C A and assorted supporters of its line are assisting the leadership of Sinn Fein to emerge as a new, younger, version of F F, to begin once again from an earlier signpost on the same road: a rejuvenated F F to pick up once more the threads of the old 'Progressive' bourgeois policies:

But now there is an organisation of the proletarian left to counterpose the programrne of revolutionary socialism to the CA's Stalinist and Petit Bourgeois nationalist policies. The I.W.G. We have exposed and criticised the activities of Greaves and Co. That we make ourselves felt is shown by an article in the May issue of their paper—"SIREN VOICES ON THE LEFT'

Playing the scratched old record that the 'Ultra-left ends in joining hands with the right, they take us to task for mentioning in the April Militant that the Vatican is the biggest shareholder in the world—at a time when the Pope has "made an appeal in favour of under-developed countries and under-privileged peoples."

It seems we actually want to take away from the Catholic Church all those shares, its right to the fruits of exploitation, and its right, as a component part of Imperialism, to play a big part in keeping whole areas of the world underdeveloped and whole peoples underprivileged! "Who are these IWG people anyway? Are they socialists, or something?" Greaves of course is satisfied with expressions of goodwill and concern for suffering humanity. The Irish capitalists can take heart at the thought of an Irish Stalinist Government. All they need do to retain control is express concern at the consequences of their system and the mystic Greaves will be satisfied...

Some of their other points must be taken more seriously.

SOVEREIGN1Y

On the basis o[ a sentence picked up from an article on the French elections which advocates against the Common Market, "A workers republic as a part of a Socialist United States of Europe" the 'Ultra-Left' (In which category the congenital Sinn Feiners of the CA seem to include large sections of... the Irish Labour Party!) is denounced as wilIing to accept "Under certain circumstances a relinquishing of national sovereignty". Yes, that's what the man said: "national sovereignty".

Unless the 26 counties are the nation then there is no national sovereignty to relinquish: The 6-county statelet of the Northern Capitalists is not sovereign. For that matter, does anyone take the sovereignty of the 26 counties as other than an empty legalism and a bad joke? It is joined at the spine to the British economy. "When Britain sneezes, Ireland gets pneumonia.' As Wilson enacts his charade before the European audience. strutting on the stage and knocking on the door of the Common Market, behind a curtain skulks Taoiseach Lynch, nervously repeating every gesture the Great Man makes.

When capitalism was young and progressive, the means of production grew and developed within the nation states, which sheltered and protected their growth. During ail this period of history lreland, welded into a nation only by oppression, was a vassal of a stronger state, sucked of its wealth and stifled in development. (Laws at first queiled lrish competition with British manufacture, untii the superior development of British industry—having also the advantage of superior natural resources—made laws unnecessary.

IRKSOME

At the period in history when independence offered possibilities of a solution to her problems, all the struggles of Ireland for national independence were mercilessly suppressed. The present 'independence' has come at a time whcn even the former giants of Europe find their 'independence' irksome and stifling and are trying to unite in the EEC to get rid of it.

The means of production long ago outgrew the nation states within which they developed. The convulsive explosions of two world wars in which the big national states tried. at each other's expense. to escape this strangulation in a scramble for overseas territories, markets and other Imperialist advantages, bears witness to this, that the national state is outmoded and must be superceded. To day only the super giants are really viable and seriously independent.

History will never know a reallv free Ireland this side of the socialist revolution. And after that it will be in the interests of the Irish Workers Republic to link up with the other workers' states, as soon as conditions allow it, as the sole guarantee of future development. Since such crisis conditions as would allow workers power in Ireland would not be confined to Ireland, we can assume the existence of other workers' states either at the same time, before. or soon after workers' power in [reland. To demand Nationai sovereignty in the face of British Imperialist domination is one thing —to make a fetish of it a la Greavec is quite another.

For [reland in the modern world legal independence and sovereigntv would only be a first step, and, on its own, by no means a solution to the basic problems. Only a free Socialist Federation of Europe and the world as the framework for full utilisation of the forces of production offers any ]ong-term solution.

The European capitalists are moving towards federation, and Britain and her puppet want to join too. Sections of the ruling class disagree on the desirability of this. Greaves says it is the task of socialists (?) to take sides. For their part, the capitalists want to draw the workers into the debate, as preparation to persuading them to bear patiently the burdens of a period of adjustment for the capitalist system.

DEFUNCT ERA

We say the working class should not involve itself in this debate, but be ready to resist all attacks on wages and conditions in or out of the EEC. "We will not bear the cost of your system, nor advise you on how to run it."

Tbe warring capitalists of yesterday's Europe now recognise the archaic nature of the West European nation states — can socialists then confine themselves to reasserting the claims of a defunct era? To the capitalists' West European Federation we cannot counterpose various European national Socialisms (Greaves, of cou!rse, only proposes Irish national capitalism). The choice today is between being international socialists or muddleheaded reactionaries. Therefore the slogan must be for a Socialist United States of Europe.

This is not a loose phrase. We mean by it a union, of stateS where the workers have taken state power.

The fact that we stand for workers' power in Ireland and the CA and its Irish-based associates, the I.W.P., don't, underlines our differences on the present confrontation between the Government and the NFA. The IWG attitude was summed up in a recent Militant headine EXPOSE THE NFA — SOAK THE RANCHERS This is denounced by Greaves as an aid to the Government which would split the ranks of the farmers.

The struggle between the govt, & the leadership of the NFA, who can define a small farmer as a man with 240 acres, owns tractors and talks of the 'cost' of labourers, is a struggle between ruling class factions. The small exploited farmers are dragged along as shock troops behind the capitalist farmers, who cynically exploit their discontent. Meanwhile they accept, indeed demand, capitalist measures which mean continued oppression of the small farmers—until they are finally driven away altogether. The solutions to the problems of the Big farmers (incidentally including their demand for entry into the Common Market) will mean extermination for the small farmers.

UNDERNOURISHED

The naturai allies for the undernourished western farmers with 10 acres are not the men with 300 acres and hired labourers, but the working class. If he wants to survive, he must break with the ranchers who are leading him up the gangplank of the waiting emigrant ship, and unite instead with the workers of town and counlry.

Such considerations do not. however, weigh on the mind of Charles Desmond Greaves. Mention of such things might distracl him from his Grand Design of forging a link with the "progressive," bourgeoisie. When he hears the word ".Socia!lism" these days a shiver runs up and down that part of his body where his spine used to be.

IRISH MILITANT
JULY, 1967