IRELAND FROM 1913 UNTIL TODAY
This is the trend in process of fulfilment that Lenin observed in countries as Ireland, where many things had changed from the times of Marx, Engels and the First International. The most important change of all was the relative industrial development and the consequent growth of the working class of the Republic of Ireland. The other important change was the fact that at that point of the process, the agrarian bourgeoisie of the Republic of Ireland had acquired the lands from the English owners. The first change had its political expression in 1913, during the great workers strike of Dublin in the middle of the negotiation process headed by the agrarian bourgeois of the South grouped in the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) led now by the moderate John Redmond.
With that uprising, the Dublin workers showed in deeds that they didn’t harbour any hope neither in the self-government that the reactionary nationalists were negotiating in the English Parliament, nor in the freedom for which the radical nationalists were fighting. The workers of Dublin showed in 1913 that the struggle in Ireland could only be an effective struggle for national independence against the unequal international development, if it was at the same time a struggle for the emancipation of the workers as a class, a struggle for the independent socialist Republic of the workers and poor Irish peasants in alliance with the English working class.
This same thing was understood by the Anglo-Irish bourgeoisie , and the Volunteers of the Ulster directed by Carson, Londonderry and Bonar Law, turned from 1912-13 in a bourgeois classist storm troopers, a counterrevolutionary force directed to drown in blood this new movement of the Irish workers, that were threatening not only with uniting with the workers of the shipyards, of the textile industry and of the docks of Belfast, but also to extend it to England, where the workers were threatening with a general strike in support to their Irish comrades. This is the historical lesson that the leaders of the Irish separatist small bourgeoisie did not draw from those times and that will never be the political line in organizations such as Sinn Fein and the IRA, as it is pointlessly expected by the "communists" that fight in the interior of those political organizations. Such was the meaning of the events of Dublin in 1913.
These forecasts by Lenin were totally confirmed by the subsequent history. The vote counting of the two general elections of 1910 in Great Britain, made liberals and conservatives even in seats, and, once again, the Irish Parliamentary Party could exercise the hinge function. In 1912, the Chamber of Lords had lost the faculty of vetoing more than two times any decision of the Chamber of the Common, thus opening the supporters of the bourgeois self-government, the possibility of obtaining its Law of Autonomy.
The Protestants of Ulster supporters of the sacred union with England, decided to arm themselves. Their leader, the attorney and conservative parliamentarian for Dublin, Sir Edward Carson, asked what sense did an autonomous parliament poses, being that most of the Irish had their own lands and the Catholics their university. More than 440.000 citizens of Ulster signed statements, many of them with blood, in which they swore not to recognize the authority of a possible autonomous government. In 1916, Carson proceeded to the recruitment of an armed force for such a purpose, that reached in the Volunteers of Ulster more than 100.000 effectives, and large consignment of rifles began to arrive to the country. The nationalist southerners responded by creating another opposing force which they called Irish National Volunteers, whose banner carried the letters "FF" in honour of Fianna Fail, a legendary warriors band.
Sir Winston Churchill, who by the time was a minister of the liberal government in functions, was the first to publicly put forward a possible solution of commitment, by which six of the nine counties of the ancient province of the Ulster – precisely those which had been colonized by Protestants at the beginning of the XVII century - would remain definitely out of the dominance of any autonomous government. The Irish Parliamentary Party accepted the proposal with the condition that the exclusion of the six counties should have a duration of no more than six years, relying in that past that period the unionist Protestants of the Ulster would end up reviewing their opposing positions to the Irish self-government.
Once World War I begun, an agreement was reached through which the Law of Autonomy was approved, but its enforcement would remain in stand-by as long as the hostilities lasted. Meanwhile, they had to unite against the German common enemy. The reactionary nationalists accepted this commitment and fought for its fulfilment, with so much enthusiasm that of the combatant voluntary detachments that integrated the British Army, many more came from Ireland than from any other part of the United Kingdom. They hoped that such a demonstration of patriotism would earn the sympathy of the unionists Protestant of the order of Orange.
The radical bourgeois nationalists distrusted of this entire racket mounted in connection with the "Home Rule Act" and on Monday 24 of April 1916, together with the Irish citizens Army - a militia created and directed by the union leader James Connolly during the strike of 1913 – revolted against the English government. In total, not more than 1.600 men and women left to the street and occupied some buildings and key places of Dublin, issuing a manifesto in which it was established the right of the Irish people to the sovereignty of their country proclaiming established the Irish Republic as an independent State, promising to guarantee the civil and religious freedom and equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens.
After a week of bloody struggle that left Dublin in ruins, the rebels gave themselves up and the British government executed nearly all its leaders incarcerating more than 4.000 rebels. At the moment of the action, the uprising lacked popular support, but faced with the cruelty of the British repression it went on growing until unleashing a process of popular radicalism.
During the Christmas of that year, in a gesture of good will David Lloyd George released 560 Irish prisoners that took part in the revolt. Among them were Arthur Griffith, founder of Sein Féin, and Michael Collins. Another group of prisoners was pardoned in Easter of 1917. Between them was Eamonn De Valera, the last imprisoned leader that survived the executions.
From the Easter uprising until the War of the Independence, the workers showed that they had experimented a clear recovery after the events of 1913 in Dublin. The union affiliation rose from 120.000 to 319.000, half of them wage earners. The Russian Revolution inspired in them something that they could never see in the political will of their nationalist leaders: the experience of double power lead by the soviets that carried to victory the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In April of 1918, alarmed by a serious setback in the war, the British bourgeoisie decided to extend the compulsory military service to Ireland, introducing in exchange a new law of autonomy more favourable to the aspirations of the separatists, based on the division of the Island. The workers answered with a general strike. Piggyback on that movement, the catholic hierarchy condemned the mandatory recruitment and the Irish Parliamentary Party of Redmond abandoned the Chamber of the Commons discontinuing any democratic approach to pursue the cause. The British government had to back off with the measure.
In 1919, 40.000 workers of Limerick got out to fight for the 44 hours week. Faced with the imposition of martial law disposed by the English army and the denial of trip permits for the workers living outside of the city, the unions and the Work Council organized a general strike and took control of the city. For fourteen days, the workers occupied the main newspapers to explain the reasons of their demands, regulated the price of food to combat the speculators, used their own currency and had special detachments for the fundamental services. It was what it was called the Soviet of Limerick. That movement was followed by a national truckers strike against the obligation to obtain permits from the English army, which was won with the support of all the population of the country.
In 1920s, more than 3.000 workers of Munster rose up against their employers, the Cleeves, an affluent family owner of windmills, bakeries, the press of Limerick and 14 dairies. A year before its 3.000 workers did not have a union and were receiving one of the lowest salaries of Ireland (85 pence a week). They organized themselves and after a strike for salary improvements in 1919, the second Saturday of May 1920 they took control of all the companies of the family. The red flag was raised in Knocklons’ dairy and the sign of the company removed. In its place a sign was placed that read "Soviet Dairy of Knocklons. We make butter without benefits". All the stores of the company were also occupied, the managers removed from their posts and a new directory appointed. Two tons of butter was made each day including orders from Belfast After several days of worker’s control of the company, the workers presented to the owners a list of demands, including a better pay, less working hours, more public holidays, removal of the managers and no reprisal. After 11 hours of negotiation, the Cleeves conceded these demands. Back to the dairy, their first activity was to cover the Soviet sign painting above with green paint, the national colour preferred by the Irish.
Stimulated by this successful experience, the Irish workers unleashed a wave of occupations, mainly in Munster. The employers Farmer association of Co Wexford warned of the terrorist agitators of the red flag. There, 400 owners were expropriated by the agricultural workers, until the IRA used its armed dissuasive power and its prestige to support the owners, invoking the authority of the Courts of the republican Earth, that ordered an eviction ultimatum to the “illegal occupants".
This was not an isolated incident. The IRA had already burst a farm strike in Bulgaden and spoiled the Soviet occupation of the windmills in Quarterstown, echoing the alarm raised by the countess Markievice, who warned of the imminence of the social revolution. Saying that all this was a serious threat for the republic, the leaders of the IRA accused the revolutionary workers of transforming the struggle for national emancipation into a class war. For the IRA, evidently, the republican idea of freedom of Ireland was reduced, in essence, to the freedom of exploitation of salaried work on the part of a national bourgeoisie.
In 1921 and 1922 similar Soviet occupations took place in windmills and dairies in at least 15 localities, in the Port of Cork , trains of the north of Cork, the quarry and the fishing ships in Casteleconneil, car factories in Tipperary, as well as the local gas companies, a clothes factory in Dublin, sawmills in Killarney, the iron foundry of Droghoda, gas of Waterford, mines in Arigna, etc.
Most of these movements were successful upon achieving that the employers agreed to their demands for better conditions of life and work. They were reflecting two things: the growing solidarity between the workers and a political idealism that was glimpsing an Ireland free not only of the English army but also of the bourgeois and indigenous political chiefs. They called their occupations Soviet, impress by the example of the Russian workers that had established their own councils called soviets, to direct that nation.
All that could have led to a social change but was exhausted by the lack of a revolutionary party of the masses. When the Union of Irish women workers (now a section of the FWUT) called to the leaders of the union to extend the occupations none of them paid attention. Paralyzed by the hegemonic nationalistic bourgeois ideology, they neither opposed nor supported it.
The result of this radicalization of the Irish workers was translated in the first general elections since the end of the war. Sinn Fein broke the electoral discipline with Westminster and created its own with its own Parliament in Dublin, choosing De Valera as "President of the Republic". This strategy had a categorical participation success and Sinn Fein won those elections by a landslide majority. The government of London answered by failing to recognize the electoral process and the new Irish parliament, decreeing illegal its laws and preventing by force the functions of the new government. The IRA began the war of independence.
The conflict acquired all the forms of struggle and means of action of a civil war. The 21 of November of 1920 the episode historically known as " Bloody Sunday" took place. Michael Collin took by surprise and killed twelve English officers in their beds. By the afternoon, during a football match celebrated in the Croke Park of Dublin, the police killed twelve civilians. Numerous Irish families fled their houses to the woods fearing being the victims of acts of revenge on part of the British. The guerrilla war extended and everything became out of control. Between July of 1920 and July of 1922 457 lives were lost, 257 of which were catholic -
During this period, unionist deputies continued attending the British parliament. There they made clear that they would never accept the idea of an autonomous government for all the Island, but agreed with the proposal put forward by Churchill, called in 1920 "Government of Ireland Act, were the division of the country was envisaged, conceding to six of the counties of the Ulster its own regional parliament as part of the United Kingdom .
In May of 1921, during the elections to the two Irish regional parliaments, Sinn Féin got all the seats in the South and the unionists in the North, consolidating the political division of the Island. Amid the confrontations between the IRA and the forces of the British government, the events derived in the treaty of the 6 of December of 1921, for which it was created in Eire the " Free State of Ireland" under tutelage of a civil governor with British mandate, keeping the English bases in its territory, while the six counties of the Ulster - with the name of Northern Ireland - would remain under direct political English sovereignty.
Immediately, the new Free State of Ireland split. On one hand, the resulting provisional government of the agreement of the 6 of December, headed by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith (64 seats); on the other Sinn Feine lead by Eamonn De Valera (57 seats). The IRA split in two; one half followed Collins, which accepted the partition between the north and the south. The other half lead by Eamonn De Valera that refused to recognize the treaty, and Dublin went back to be the stage of a bloody war, this time between Irish of the two sides. In the first six months of government, the Free State of the South under the mandate of Eamonn of Cost, ordered the execution of 77 republicans, more than those which had been killed by the British in the previous Anglo-Irish war. On the 22 of August of 1922 Collin died shot in an ambush set by the republicans in a road of Cork, his natal county. His coreligionist Arthur Griffith had died few days before from natural death caused by an excess of fatigue. The civil war ended in 1923 with the surrender of Eamonn De Valera, who, nevertheless, was going to be a co-leader in the following fifty years of Irish history.
In 1925, the Free State negotiated the definitive acceptance of the partition of the Ulster in exchange for financial advantages and commercial preferences in the exchange of Irish products with the Commonwealth and the English market. It was by this time when the first incursions of the great European capital begun in the Free State, German in the hydroelectric sector and Belgian in the sugar industry, in the invariable context of the commercial and financial dependency with regard to British Imperialism and in the not less invariable policy of favouring the landowners and the great industrial bourgeoisie, in detriment of the peasants that represented the immense majority of the Irish population.
In 1927, at the head of Fianna Fail (Warriors of Ireland) in coalition with the Labourites, De Valera decided to participate in the Parliament (Dail). That coalition came to power in 1933. While promising to rehabilitate the old Gaelic language and culture , De Valera continued cheating the Irish with the brutalizing political dream that without a social revolution in England it was possible that...
<<Not anymore neither our children nor our beasts would be export meat, (glimpsing) a land of splashed brilliant landscapes of cosy hamlets, of fields and happy peoples, with the sound of industry and the noise of fit and healthy children, with athletic youths competing fairly, with beautiful and happy girls and households in which being able to listen to all the wisdom of those which have reached the serenity of the old age>> (Eamonn De Valera. Cited by Brian Bell in: "Ireland" Ed. The Pais - Aguilar)
The government of the Fianna Fail embarked in a policy of economic nationalism, stopped the payment of the debt to England and increased import duties to favour national industry, through which it was achieved that Ireland reached self-sufficiency in shoelaces, but penury worsened. Such as in the times of Marx and Engels, that country did not stop enlisting cheap labour force to the reserve armies of the USA and England, pressing to lower the wages in those two imperialist countries. Still at the beginning of the 30s of the XX century, 43% of the sons and daughters of the Irish were living abroad. To distract the common Irish from that bleeding reality, the governing bureaucrats of Fianna Fail passed a new Constitution that suppressed the formula of lending loyalty oath to the King of England, while sovereignty was claimed on the 32 counties of Ireland (celestial music), and the governor was replaced by a president, at the same time Head of State.
In 1938 an agreement was signed with England by which Ireland settled its obligations with the United Kingdom in exchange for the evacuation of the naval bases in the Eire. With this agreement an end was put to the economic war. That same year, faced with the imminence of World War II, De Valera announced that Ireland would be declared neutral. Churchill offered him a future united Ireland in exchange for them entering war, permitting the British fleet using its ports. Convinced of the fact that neutrality would work the miracle of obtaining the self-determination of a unified Ireland , De Valera answered negatively to the proposal of the new British leader.
In 1948, the Poblachta Clan associated with the Die Gael of Cosgrave – led now by John A. Costello - won the elections and got in charge of the government. To draw advantage from De Valera, the new government modified the Constitution. Thus, the 21 of December of 1948 the Eire became Republic of Ireland and ceased forming part of the Commonwealth. Except for the six counties in the northern province of the Ulster, Ireland reached its full independence constituting itself in what today is known as Republic of Ireland. This new legal political status of Ireland in any way did it affect the pre existent capitalist relations of production in that country and, therefore, neither altered its economic dependency with regard to the more advanced capitalist countries. This shows, a priori, that in the late stage of capitalism, insofar as it does not hamper the effects of the uneven international development neither it blocks the objective trend to the centralization and international unity of capitals, the self-determination of nations must be perfectly compatible with the reality of imperialism. The data of historic, economic, , social and political nature that we provide below, corroborate the previsions with which Lenin completed the historic materialist theory of national self-determination.
After the separatist decisions adopted by the government of Costello, that was reaffirmed in the demand of sovereignty on the six counties of the North, the Anglo Irish relations worsened momentarily. As a reply, the English government approved a decree known as the "Statement of Ireland", according to which, England would not accept any change in the legal status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the Parliament of Stormont. And since Protestants doubled Catholics in number, the change was little less than impossible without a civil war.
This situation did not suppose a greater affirmation of the government of the Eire with regard to the extra parliamentary powers that cashed in on the process of national self-determination underway. When the Health minister, Noel Browne presented a reorganization project of the health care and of the social security, the catholic hierarchy saw the monopoly that was holding in those matters threatened and Costello preferred to give in before the bishops. Browne resigned and the government fell in 1951.In the meantime, for the working class and the peasants of Eire nothing had gone better since that part of Ireland began the process of decolonization.
That same year of 1951 Fianna Fail returned to government and there it remained until 1973. During that mandate, the Republic of Ireland left its isolation, improved its relations with Great Britain and formed part of the UN. After World War II, that allowed capitalism to come through the crisis to the cost of thirty million dead, the increase of the profit rate that began the last expansive long wave of the system, reabsorbed the industrial reserve army, improved the standard of living of the capitalist society in general and temporarily widened the margins of manoeuvre of the bourgeoisie policy of dominance over the proletariat, fuelling the so called Welfare State.
To this new situation the working population of Ireland remained tied. Enclosed by the own will of the Irish nationalists in an economically dependent bourgeois State, the Irish workers could not avoid the mechanisms motorized by the general law of capitalist accumulation and its corollary: the unequal international development of the world economy. Those mechanisms turned to operate now based in a new dominant category: the multinational capital. That is how by the end of the 50s, under the presidential mandate of Eamonn De Valera, the political bureaucracy leading the splendid "free" Republic of Ireland decided to ballast the historical memory of all those which in this century fell fighting for the national liberation, opening the doors of the country to foreign multinational capital of the electronics, pharmaceutical and durable goods branches. To this end they agreed to an initiative of the Ulster Prime Minister, Terence O'Neill, to start a possible economic cooperation between the two Irelands, function of the necessary stimulus that a common will of political stability could favour the settlement of foreign investments.
What came afterwards was only more of the same. Piggyback of the new expansive situation, and as in so many other regions of the planet, the multinational capital went to the Republic of Ireland to convert the remains of simple mercantile production and of domestic social work into capitalist production, at the same time widening the social bases of the already existing accumulation through the creation of new needs. For that, without a sufficiently extended vernacular language, the foreign capital - preponderantly English - didn’t even have the need of adapting to the Gaelic as a means of communication historically suitable to the capitalist goal of taking possession of all the available working population for the end of accumulation.
Between 1958 and 1970, the industrial sector of Eire grew 200% and the manufacture exports increased an annual average of 23% in value and 18% in volume. The agricultural product grew 50% with the aid of strong subsidies to the production and export. During this period a strong increase in the direct investment of multinational capital was also registered thanks to fiscal and financial incentives of the nationalist government. In this period, industry occupied 30% of the active population, surpassing agricultural employment in 1/5 and the industrial gross product doubled the agricultural one. However, the increase in labour demand in urban industry and services did not manage to absorb the great quantity of surplus labour from the agrarian sector, this fact aggravated by the traditional birth policy of the Irish State.
Until that moment, the problem of unemployment had been alleviated through the outlet of emigration to other countries of the Anglo-Saxon world. But this way out was endangered if an economic crisis provoked a recession in the host countries. In second place, in spite of the growth of the industrial production, the main part originated in foreign investments whose product was guided mainly for export, therefore the greater sensibility of these companies to world economic conditions and the high dependency of the country with regard to foreign capital, meant that any strong recession of the capitalist system at international level, would withdraw foreign demand of the Irish products of those industries and so the production of the country, with the consequent increase in unemployment.
At the beginning of 1972, the Republic of Ireland entered the E.E.C. and the enormous financial aids received on condition of favouring the penetration of the multinational capital, enabled to widen the scale of industrial production of the already established foreign companies and the installation of new ones. That was how many small agrarian producers abandoned their equipment and migrated to the urban industry, were they earned quite more money working as wage earners, especially for the electronic component factories. The internal migrant phenomenon was of such magnitude, that a euphoric trade minister of the era went as far as to say that Ireland was in the way of becoming "the California of Europe". An objectively revolutionary fact, paradoxically opposed to the anti-capitalist petty-bourgeoisie feeling of radical nationalism, spread by the ideologues of the IRA and Sinn Feinn between its thousands of militants and supporters , though increasingly in low voice.
This situation changed sharply from the beginning of the 80s. In the context of the deepening of the crisis of overproduction and of the consequent recess of international trade, the dismantlement of industry provoked by the fleeing of multinational pirates based in Eire, increased spectacularly the unemployment and inflation got to levels never reached before.
Thus, from December 1920 until today, the history of the Free Republic of Southern Ireland has confirmed, point by point, the previsions of Lenin concerning that, in the imperialist stage of capitalism, the regimes of direct political dominance by the metropolis over countries of the periphery, constitute more and more an anachronism every passing day, and that the self-determination of the nations in any way tends historically to eliminate or moderate the unequal development and the economic dependency of the former colonies with regards to imperialism but on the contrary, it worsens the social oppression of the workers in those parts of the world. Though now indirectly, through "liberating" surviving politicians converted into bureaucrats in charge of the brand new "free" States, that in connection to the "national" bourgeoisie associated with the multinational capital, divide the plentiful benefits of the already old racket which objective is to accumulate capital and relative penury, to cash in greater loads of wealth and social power in the hands of increasingly scanty and parasitic minorities, at the expense of the salaried work of increasingly bigger majorities.
An identical process is being operated in Northern Ireland. In note (2) we spoke of the relative historical advantages of Northern Ireland. These advantages should not however make us forget the fact that Northern Ireland has been and it still is quite less prosperous that the rest of the United Kingdom. Its unemployment index is currently double or more than the national average and its average standard of living - though higher than that of the Republic of Ireland - has been kept historically quite below of the existing one in the metropolis.
Protestants constitute 63% of the total population of Northern Ireland and their social status is, on average, superior to that of the catholic minority. The executive posts of the industrial and commercial companies, as well as the superior administrative posts have been performed by staff of Protestant confession.
The population of catholic children out of school increases with the age, with a 42% in primary, a 27% in secondary and a 22% in superior. The absenteeism and drop-out is produced by economic causes: low wages and high taxes.
The birth rate index of the catholic community clearly surpasses that of the Protestant families and the mortality index is the same (10%) According to this reality, the proportion of the catholic population would have to increase by simple vegetative growth. However it has stayed at 35% for half a century. This stability can be explained by the fact that being poorer and of bigger families, the workers of the Ulster find themselves forced to migrate. It is estimated that half of the emigrants of Northern Ireland are catholic and their destination is Great Britain, the U.S. and Canada.
From all this it is inferred that, in spite of all the shed blood, thanks to the invariable objective informal collaboration between the British imperialist bourgeoisie, the unionist bourgeois of the Ulster and their catholic nationalistic colleagues of the Eire, the social and economic causes that in times of Marx and Engels blocked the political unity of the English and Irish workers, is kept intact.
Now, even when the north as well as the south benefited from those years of the expansive long wave of post-war capitalism, because of the historical relative backwardness of the Republic of Ireland, the increase in investments and employment during the 60s, instilled there a greater economic dynamism, so that the social progress of the catholic workers of the South was more notorious for their brothers of the north. This mirror effect originating in the Eire, made, without doubt, more patent the discrimination of the Catholic minority in the Ulster, and it is not a coincidence that in the struggles that they undertook at the end of that decade, the conquest of the civil rights postponed within that society weighted as much as the nationalistic longing of having a self-deception about it.
In 1968, the last straw of the restrained tensions was the fact that a town hall of the county of Tyrone - where many catholic families with numerous offspring were in need of housing – gave a house to a single Protestant youth. Following the example of the blacks in the U.S., the local nationalists first made a sit-in and then a civil rights demonstration. In October of that same year there was a call for a new march, this time within the walls of Londonderry. The government of the Protestant O´NEIL forbade it, but some 2.000 demonstrators decided to overwhelm the forces of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The hard confrontation was registered by television and transmitted worldwide.
This was the beginning of a series of skirmishes in which the troops of the RUC found themselves overwhelmed again and again until they had to request help. The 16 of August of 1971, the British government sent army troops to the streets of Belfast and Londonderry in support of the civil power. These facts provoked the resurrection of the IRA that, as a politically meaningful combat force, had ceased existing in 1962.
Terrorist acts began with bomb vehicles, snipers and explosives in bars and other crowed places. The British government answered with the imprisonment without previous judgement of everyone suspicious of terrorism. The catholic community closed ranks in face of the consequences of such arbitrariness, and because of the torture and systematic humiliation of the political militants in the prisons, and the capture of people on simple groundless suspicion victims of the interning and mistreatment. The hatred that unleashed was such, that those chronicles of the events arrived to the cinema screens of the world.
This situation worsened dramatically when during a demonstration that took place in Londonderry the 30 of January of 1972, there were 13 dead from army shots. It was the second Bloody Sunday that spread with violence not only the territory of the Ulster: A month later, the IRA detonated a bomb in the barracks of Aldershot, in England, killing seven persons.
For a moral imperative, the government of Eire did not stop giving refuge to the escaped members of the IRA, condemning the repressive acts of English imperialism, but its politicians tried not to see their country involved in all that. Because the civil war was seriously deteriorating the Ulster economy, while the south was enjoying an unprecedented prosperity.
Two months after Bloody Sunday, the English Prime Minister Edward Heath closed the Parliament of Stormont that had been active during half a century, and imposed a direct government from London. The IRA was returning in atrocious attacks the relentless violence of social discrimination and the structural unemployment of the system in the Ulster. To this the English government answered with the permanent intimidation of its military machine in the streets and the periodic violent inspection of houses in catholic neighbourhoods. This spiral of selective barbarism took the lives of 2.500 people directly or indirectly involved in the cause of either side. The claims made by the prisoners of the IRA in 1981, that in a prison of the Ulster went on hunger strike to be recognized as political prisoners, were unattended by the government of Thatcher that let 10 of the strikers die.
In the midst of the armed confrontation, and after several fruitless initiatives of the English government to give a solution to the contentious, the Sinn Fein experienced transcendental changes, in its leadership as well as in its policy. This happened after the congress that took place in November of 1983, where Ruairy O´BRAGAIGH, president of the movement for 13 years, the vice-president Daithi O´CONNAIL and some other leaders, were substituted by Gerry Adams, leaders of 6 counties of the North in the presidency, and Fhil Flynn in the vice-presidency, at the same time that several militants of Adms’ side became part of the Central Committee of the organization.
With regard to the electoral policy, the Congress broke with the non-participation tradition. For the republican movement, inspired in the always kept principle of the unity of Ireland, the partition of the country made illegitimate the two States, that of the north and that of the south. Therefore, they had to reject occupying any seat, in Leinster House (South), as well as in Stormont and, of course, in Westminster.
It was decided in this Congress, on the contrary, that electoral battles are essential though is maintained and reaffirmed the principle of the boycott of the elected to their parliamentary seats. For the previous leadership, such a change was the beginning of an irreparable commitment with the institutions and, through them, with the partition of the country.
The subsequent historical facts have showed that the outgoing leadership in this Congress was right concerning the first fact, but was mistaken upon predicting that a commitment of the IRA with the institutions meant to consolidate the partition of Ireland.
The leadership of Sinn Féinn that came out of this Congress and that has ever since remained, after contributing to a truce of the IRA, achieved its consolidation and in a third moment finally arrived to an agreement with London, Belfast and Dublin. According to the agreement signed by the Sinn Féin, the radical republicans would abandon their sovereignty aspirations over the Ulster, a political will that would be fulfilled eliminating the constitutional clauses of the Republic of Ireland in this regard. In exchange for this, the British - Irish agreement of 1920 that determined the partition of the island would disappear.
This agreement was signed in Stormont the 10 of April of 1998, it was ratified by referendum in May by 71% in the Ulster and 94% in the Eire. Included in the points of the agreement was the creation in the Ulster of an autonomous Assembly or self-government composed by 108 deputies elected by proportional representation. In those elections celebrated in June the Sinn Feinn took part and its Leader Gerry Adams, became a part of the new executive of the Ulster, having accepted that this part of Ireland will not stop belonging to the United Kingdom, while its population does not decide it democratically by majority.
Days before being awarded the Peace Nobel prize, the leader of the Social democratic labour Party John Hume, declared that:
<<For Great Britain, the Ulster is not a colony but a "nuisance", a costly head breaker without any economic advantage>> (Cited by Javier Tusell in "El Pais" 8/10/98. Pp.15)
As we have exposed above, the division between Catholics and Protestants made sense from the era of Enrique VIII until Cromwell for geopolitical reasons, and thereinafter served to the incipient British bourgeoisie to avoid the decolonization of that area, whose natural wealth and surplus population allowed it to optimize the accumulation of its industrial capital, keeping at minimal levels the costs in circulating capital (wages and raw materials).
In another part of our page, we explained the Marxist theory of the capitalist economic crisis. There we distinguished between two stages of capitalist development. In the pre-monopolist stage the mass of spare capital and work at the end of each depression in capitalist metropolis such as England, was totally reabsorbed by the productive system during the subsequent cyclical phases of recovery and expansion. In those moments, the labour demand exceeded the offer, wages increased and profit was reduced thus bringing closer the horizon of the crisis. Keeping countries such as Ireland relatively underdeveloped allowed the English colonialist bourgeoisie in times of Marx, to constantly press wages down.
But while the absolute magnitude of functioning capital - included the part invested in wages – was historically increasing by the process of accumulation, greater became the surplus capital and labour at the end of each periodic cycle and, therefore, greater the difficulties for its reincorporation to the productive system. Thus, from crisis to crisis, the functioning capital mass reached a point in which its ever growing remaining part became chronic feeding to the phenomenon known as structural massive unemployment, that remains and even grows with independence to the sequence of the periodic cycles.
Now, to the extent to which the development of the productive force and the consequent increase in the organic composition accelerate the metabolism of labour by capital and increase its surplus mass in the metropolis. This growing magnitude of surplus capital can only be preserved as productive capital, seizing means of work and exploitable labour in the periphery of the system. This process is synchronized with the tendency of those capitals - thus turned multinational - to their international unity, a phenomenon that the apologetic theoreticians of capitalism have called globalization. Under such historic-economic conditions foreseen by Lenin when they were only veiled, to keep the colonial regime in the Ulster makes no sense. Such is the way of thinking that determines the desire and behaviour of the British bourgeoisie and of those of the other countries of the imperialist chain. The same way of thinking that underlies in the statements of the moderate catholic John Hume that we have just cited; the same that impregnate the words pronounced by Gerry Adams in the course of an interview conceded to the journalist Ana Romero in March of last year:
<<God willing, we will see an united Ireland, because the economic, social and political logic, is aimed toward the constitution of one region. That will happen in 20 or 25 years time>> (G.Adams "El Mundo" 7/3/99 Pp.7)
It will obviously not be the Ireland that the political bases of the IRA and of Sinn Féin dreamt and for which they died and still fight today . The G. Adams and the Humes know it though they conceal these things to the people. Because having disappeared already the material base that justified the social and political reality described by Marx, the fact that the "struggle for the defence of the fatherland" is kept alive still today on places such as Ireland, has nothing to do either with the needs of the capital in its late stage, nor with the strategy of the socialist revolution. But it does with the abstract ideals (of certain non-conformist base militancy), with the parvenu opportunism (of some political bureaucrats) and with specific interest (of corporative sectors within the acting state machinery ) which in that way become detached from the struggling social classes , in relation to which they will be contingent figures of history.
If the behaviour of the radical nationalists in countries such as Ireland posses any scientific interest, its value consists in that it once again empirically verifies the Marxist thesis of the relative autonomy of the ideological and political superstructures, that allows to extend in time ways of thinking, feeling and acting, once disappeared the economic and social conditions that gave it a historical sense insofar they were effective realities.
(2) In Ireland of the north, on the contrary, was carried out the installation of Scottish and English Protestant colonists that were imposed in number and wealth showiness to the indigenous bulk of catholic origin. The newcomer, people richer instructed and bold than the native catholic peasants, established in the Ulster the first industrial and commercial companies. Of the nearby Scotland -separate of Ireland so only by a narrow of 22 Km., arrived also in the course of the century XIX the metallurgical. To them it should be the installation of the shipyards of Belfast. From makes more than hundred years the English government was imposed the State policy - with independence of the alternation of the bourgeois parties to cargo of the government - of helping this province that continues forming part of the United Kingdom.
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de propaganda marxista