Thursday, November 22, 2007

Eamonn McCann, the zeitgeist and the RIRA

In the Belfast telegraph of November 22nd ) Eamonn McCann wrote a piece ‘How five deaths in 1957 are still echoing today’. The article has caused some comment, interpreted as McCann supporting or defending republicanism. The comments miss the point. McCann is doing what the SWP does best – sensing the zeitgeist. In the process he is yet again moving sharply to the right.

The central argument contrasts Adams support for the 1957 Edentubber martyrs with his condemnation of real IRA attacks on the RUC/PSNI today. For McCann, Derry today is no different from Edentubber in the past. The problem is republicanism, he concludes, quoting Adams hypocritical attack on the RIRA: "These groups have no strategy, no programmes, no popular support and no real capacity - militarily or otherwise. They have chosen random acts of intimidation and isolated acts of individual violence which are politically ineffective and result only in pain and suffering for the individuals targeted and their families. The overall effect is retrograde at every level and in every sense."

But what is the context? Is there a current debate about strategy among republicans or a debate in the socialist movement where the important thing is to put forward a socialist critique of militarism? No there is not. What there is, is an attempt by the remaining republicans to relaunch their military campaign, countered by hysterical demands for their repression, led by Dublin, Sinn Fein and the northern Catholic bourgeoisie, with the Derry journal labelling the RIRA fascist.

Socialists oppose the militarist tactics of the RIRA, but we believe that republicans and socialists should oppose a settlement that is sectarian and undemocratic. We should oppose Sinn Fein’s lick-spittle hypocrisy, the calls for repression by the nationalist reactionaries and the attempts to advance further a police offensive in nationalist areas.

Although Eamonn knows all this, like all economist socialists he falls behind the popular mood. The fact that the next day he finds himself protesting when the RUC/PSNI refuse medical treatment to a republican whose arm they have broken in three places just shows the confusion that this position can get you into, a confusion magnified by McCann’s place in court as a defendant in the Raytheon 9 case – McCann’s own milder version of the direct action he decries in RIRA

The current imperialist settlement is no longer up than it is decaying from its own corruption. It so bad that even a movement as politically bankrupt as republican militarism can begin to revive. In no small measure this is due to the reluctance of the left to lead any principled opposition to the reactionary Stormont regime. Once Eamonn would have told us that that imperialism was responsible for the endemic violence in Ireland – no more.



Spartacus said...

good to see the site up and running - will drop an article soon on the McCann piece

Anonymous said...

" Is there a current debate about strategy among republicans or a debate in the socialist movement where the important thing is to put forward a socialist critique of militarism?"

This fails to take account of the analysis of the IRSP and its continuing critique of "militarism" from the mid ninties. Read the account in the Plough1967-2007 An overview

north said...

The word was 'current'. I am not familiar with the IRSP article. If ther is a link I will read it, but I don't see the connection with the McCann piece

Anonymous said...

Given that the INLA was the most militarist of the armed republican groups I'd be very interested to see a self criticism. The IRSP just seemed to have followed the Provos ending their campaign and I remember their ambiguous comments about the peace process. If the IRSP really have a critique of militarism they can post it here and we can all have a look at it.