The Blanket

Easily Annoyed

Peter Urban

"An alternative would be to at least try to build a movement that could build significant active support in the South and win over at least some important segment of the Protestant working class community in the North. It is a strategy that might well fail. But at least it would be a fight worth fighting."

And, there you have it.

"Someone should at least try to build a movement that could build significant active support in the South and win over at least some important segment of the Protestant working class community in the North." Why didn't we think of that.

Oh wait, we did. That's what we were and are attempting to do in the Republican Socialist Movement. And, while I'm not intending to ask them, mind you, I imagine the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, and the Workers Solidarity Movement, amongst others, would all say that they have been trying to do that as well.

Accordingly, we can probably dispense with these introductory comments and move straight on to the advanced course. So, let's see how Mr. Boyer suggests that we go about the task of winning over 26 country workers and significant portions of the six county Protestant working class as well . . .

That's odd. That part of the discussion seems to have been omitted.

Granted, sarcasm isn't probably the most effective tactic which could be offered in resolving this question either, but it was genuinely earned in response to an article that lured us in with the promise of explaining why Britain remains in the six counties and then goes on to lecture us on the obvious.

Are there any of us engaged in Irish socialist political activism who do not have as their objective to win to our banner a significant section of the six county's Protestant workers, as well as a major segment of the working class in the 26 counties? Has this not been the objective of Irish socialist activists since Connolly's time and well before? Is the advice given actually advice that needed to be heard?

That last question was intended to trick you, as its proper answer is "no", while the preceding questions called for a "yes". I just wanted to make sure you weren't drifting off.

Here's the point I feel compelled to make: Irish socialists aren't idiots. Seemingly, that needs to be said. Because for as long as I can remember, American, British and European socialists have been inclined to provide--with pedagogic demeanor and patronising tones--advice to Irish socialists that does little to enlighten them, but much to insult their intelligence. And it annoys the fuck out of me.

It chiefly annoys me, because after they finish telling you how important it is to engage the 26 county working class and Protestant workers in the six counties, and you respond with information about the work your party is undertaking towards those very goals, the speakers soon after end the discussion. Never, not once, have I had the experience of the party relating such wisdom to me respond to the information provided about the efforts of the IRSP by saying: "Really? I don't know anything about your party, but if you're already working towards these objectives, I'd like to hear more, as it sounds like something I'd be very supportive of."

It further annoys me, because, when I've explained that we already had that part of the equation figured out and enquire into the strategy for accomplishing those objectives, I have never had the speaker reply with other than a strategy which either we or some other organisation has already--unsuccessfully--tried, vague platitudes that are about as novel as the advice on 26 county workers and 6 county Protestant workers, or a brief lull of dead silence followed by a change of subject.

This wouldn't necessarily be so annoying, and might even be vaguely amusing, were it not for how common it is for the individuals providing the advice to be engaged in some way, shape, or form in support--at least in a verbal sense--for some organisation devoid of a class orientation in its political agenda, such as the Provos, the Reals, or the Continuity. The annoyance quotient is pressed into the stratosphere by the extreme regularity with which such advice comes from the mouths of those who rarely champion any of the socialist organisations active in Ireland, but instead align themselves with various reformist republican groupings, or even backward-looking militarists. And, when these individuals actually know something about Irish politics, their comments on my own movement seem to be generally limited to reiterations of the most virulent black propaganda ever produced about the IRSP and INLA.

I don't wish to be misunderstood to be describing Mr. Boyer as one who has never provided support for the IRSM. Certainly he often did so when he was in the H-Block/Armagh Committees in North America, even if that was two decades ago, and he did recently seek information for a positive article about our movement in relation to the defense of the communities of North Belfast. And, I won't even mention how the years that he wrote for Irish Northern Aid's periodical the Irish People provided that organisation and Sinn Fein with more of a Left posture than their policies actually merited, because I don't want to appear bitter.

Instead, I am simply making the point that I am easily annoyed, because I think people should know this. I realise that this attribute of my personality can be easily determined by anyone with just a passing acquaintance with myself. I know that this tendency of mine is well known by a great many people. But since so many people seem to find value in stating the obvious, I am only trying to give them what they want.

The writer is a member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party







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We must dare to think 'unthinkable' thoughts. We must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world. We must learn to welcome and not to fear the voices of dissent. We must dare to think about 'unthinkable things' because when things become unthinkable, thinking stops and action becomes mindless.
-James W. Fulbright

Index: Current Articles

22 September 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Pipedream Peace
Joe Graham


Can The Course of Labour Afford to Wait?
Billy Mitchell


Easily Annoyed
Peter Urban


Academics on Independence, Part 1

Paul Fitzsimmons


Sabra & Shatila

Anthony McIntyre


Palestine & Iraq
Brendan Hughes


Not In Our Name
Davy Carlin


Death Fasts and Oppression Continue in Turkey


19 September 2002


Belfast's "Poor White Trash" and the Dead Dogmas of the Past
Brian Kelly


Top Cat

Anthony McIntyre


Lower Than The Lowest of the Low
Liam O Ruairc


Civil Rights Vets Launch Status Campaign
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh


Peace Rather than Pipedreams
Sean Smyth


Bush War
Anthony McIntyre




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