The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Mission Impossible

The biggest sectarians and the biggest brawlers and rogues shout loudest for unity at certain times. Nobody in our lifetime has given us more trouble than the shouters for unity - Engels

Anthony McIntyre • May 2006

Writing recently on the web the SWP leaning Brian Kelly surprised many people with his claim that he had written for The Blanket in the hope 'that it might play a positive role in pushing forward the coalescing of a principled, anti-sectarian Left in the north of Ireland.' As writing for The Blanket was a very infrequent practice performed quite some time ago, perhaps he abandoned the notion early on. Brian Kelly, a prize winning author, when he steers clear from the position of the day and sidesteps the dogma, is clearly a lucid writer and engaging speaker. But where he acquired the unfathomable impression that The Blanket had ever set itself the task of achieving left unity remains shrouded in mystery.

It serves to illustrate how those of the vanguard school of politics mislead themselves. Ideological rigidity may send them off in pursuit of the preordained pot of gold at the end of Marxist rainbows but The Blanket, with its disdain for dogma, was never into the business of setting itself impossibilist goals. How could anyone, let alone a small website open to all manner of opinion, unite the Irrelevant Left? How can the latter be defined apart from its innate sectarianism? What purpose would exist in the lives of Left sect members were they to be united and denied the opportunity to pursue this sectarianism?

It is beyond the meagre capacity of The Blanket to unite those who inhabit the tenebrous caves of Left sects and who would quicker die than permit anyone to unite them. In those dark recesses there is no grasping of the reputed Ernest Bevin observation that 'Left understands Left.' Experience of the sects shows that Left hates Left. Each sect, believing that it alone is the one true church of Karl, invariably ends up where it wants to be - wallowing as a cult, once defined by Tom Wolfe as a religion with no political power. It would have been pointless for The Blanket to seek to change those deeply ingrained traits. Robert Heinlein once described the futility of trying to teach a pig to sing; 'it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.'

Shortly after the US led war on Afghanistan, an attempt was made to form an anti-war movement in Belfast. Not many people turned up and out of those that did the Irrelevant Left made up the bulk of the numbers. What a sham it turned out to be. The sect members were like Heinlein's pigs; in the muck and revelling in it. They screeched, screamed and oinked at one another. There was never the remotest possibility of kick starting an anti-war movement that night. It was never their intention. They only came along to have a go at each other, which brings to mind that memorable quip which just about sums up the state of the Irrelevant Left: 'after all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done.' To paraphrase the sculptor Albert Giacometti, they no longer argued for anything but the sensation of arguing. For them the revolution lay in the sectarian rant; a climactic end in itself.

Clambering away from yet another Left induced wreckage in the company of Liam O'Ruairc, to the hissing sounds of Commandante Irrelevante mercifully fading in the background, I was at first exasperated. But in the couple of minutes it took to cover the ground between Conway Mill and the Springfield Road exasperation had given way to laughter as we failed to contain our mirth at the way the snarlers and snappers had bitten lumps out of each other.

Later, I decided to write something on it solely for the craic. The piece had hardly been uploaded on the web site before we were hit with e mails and phone calls. Those who had read the article seemed to shout in unison 'that's them.' Although the article named none of those there, quack pack watchers guessed right first time.

Experience of the sect devotees was not confined to West Belfast. US and British activists with a similar grounding groaned in despair that the species was not yet extinct.

Not all of those who contacted us did so just to join in the ridicule. Some were very serious activists with a long history of campaigning and writing. They aired their dismay that over the years they had expended their energy in progressive causes only to see it all go down the plug hole because of the Irrelevant Left. They had long since stopped going to events if they got the slightest inkling that the Muppet mob would be outside the venue waiting to ambush the potential audience with their party papers. Once they turn up any meeting is sure to be a sectarian rant fest.

I have attended left unity meetings in Belfast, Derry and Dublin. Like meetings of the Flat Earth Society, the script could have been written in advance. It is an immutable law of the Left sects. Their endless calls for Left unity are as meaningless as proposals for more blacks in the Ku Klux Klan. Moving them towards unity is like pushing a car with a rope. Disunity has a 100% success rate on the Left. The old German proverb 'necessity unites' has no currency among them. There is more hope to be found in the dying room at Dignitas.

Strategically and intellectually, the Left is in a state of disarray as can be evidenced from the decline of the anti-war movement at a moment when the war, paradoxically, is at its most unpopular. Those determined not to be irrelevant are knocking over long standing fences in their eagerness to escape enclosure in the time warp of 1917. They display a certain risqué revolutionary vigour in their eagerness to shake off the shackles imposed upon them by the Irrelevant Left's tenth-rate theoreticians, as Christopher Hitchens so pejoratively but persuasively dismisses them.

If the fate awaiting the world is as catastrophic as radicals claim why waste precious time and finite energy trying to unite the Irrelevant Left? If radicals should have learned anything by this point, it is surely that outside of that strange world, where secularism has been abandoned in order to appease theocrats, miracles don't happen.




























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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

25 July 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Religious Rednecks of Doom
Dr John Coulter

Cut-Throat Politics
John Kennedy

A Poem About Our Children
Mary La Rosa

Israeli Blitzkrieg
Anthony McIntyre

When Leaders Serve Foreign Interests, Everyone Loses
Mazin Qumsiyeh

By Their Friends You Shall Know Them
Mick Hall

Mission Impossible
Anthony McIntyre

Lit Crit Well Writ
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Revisiting A Literary Genius
David Adams

'The Film That Shakes A Lot More Than the Barley'
Eamon Sweeney

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Conclusion
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Additional Information
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Letter of Thanks
Michael McKevitt

Pull the Other One
John Kennedy

Ex-Noraid Boss Still Gloomy on Peace Process
Jim Dee

An Honour to Have Been Part of the Blanket Protest
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters page has been updated.

19 July 2006

Dupe Process
Anthony McIntyre

Heatwave Won't Affect Cold Storage
Dr John Coulter

Hanson's Handouts
John Kennedy

Israeli State Terror
Anthony McIntyre

Judgement Day
John Kennedy

Israel, US and the New Orientalism
M. Shahid Alam

The Right, the Need to Resist
Mick Hall

An Invitation to My Neighborhood
Fred A Wilcox

Prison Fast

Death Brings Fr Faul
Anthony McIntyre

Risking the Death of Volunteers is Not the IRA Way
Brendan Hughes

Principles and Tactics
Liam O Ruairc

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Preliminary Hearings Cont'd.
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Rupert's Reward
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Rupert's Inconsistencies
Marcella Sands

Blast from the Past
John Kennedy

An Elegant End
Seaghán Ó Murchú

West Belfast - The Past, the Present and the Future
Davy Carlin



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