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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Hold Onto Your Guns
Liam O Comain • 17.10.03

There are those within the Irish left who contend that there does not exist justification for the use of physical force in the struggle for a socialist society. And there are those who are not of the left who because of the horrors that they have witnessed during recent decades in Ireland are now strong opponents of a paramilitary campaign in the pursuit of national liberation and self-determination.

But as one who desires the establishment of a socialist republic in Ireland, which I believe can only become a reality within the context of national liberation and self-determination, does one really believe that socialism can evolve and will evolve peacefully? If I could really believe that I would be a very happy person for I detest violence in all its forms. But inspite of my detestation, I believe that in the pursuit of national unity and socialism, physical force will become an ingredient at sometime or other. In a sense this would be creative violence for the common good and on behalf of justice as distinct from destructive violence.

Take the pursuit of Irish freedom for example: the presence of a British military reality has always been used to thwart the realisation of such a just objective, i.e., that Ireland should be ruled and managed by the Irish themselves.

And just as Britain used genocide at the time of the Plantations to maintain her illegal presence in Ireland, she now uses the descendants of the Planters to continue that presence. Presenting to the world the image that she is the peacemaker in Ireland between warring religious factions. The Provisionals helped to cement this image when upon their need to curry votes from nationalists and Catholics as part of their sell-out strategy, they set up area groups against the unwanted Orange triumphalist marches. A blatant use, some have said, of sectarianism in the pursuit of political power.

The Belfast Agreement for example is another (sophisticated, I would say) thwarting of the continual just demand for national unity. One of the biggest con tricks was carried out upon the people of the island via an illegal referendum, illegal because Britain — against the will of the majority — is illegally present in Ireland, and it was they who mainly organised the referendum that affirmed partition and the British presence via the so-called 'consent principle'. The consent principle is copper-fastened by the fact that a unionist minority claims to be 'the British presence' and therefore requires the support of 'their army and administration' — an army, which in response to that required support, supplied the loyalist killer gangs with weapons for the sole purpose of killing nationalists and Catholics in order to prevent unity.

When Patrick Pearse coined the truth that 'Ireland unfree shall never be at peace' he was being prophetic for he knew that without justice in the Irish context — the Irish ruling themselves — there would never be an authentic peace in Ireland.

The concept of peace, however, had to be manipulated and twisted by the architects of the Belfast Agreement, for to face sincerely and truthfully the basis of peace i.e., justice, would logically have led to the British agreeing to withdrawal and the descendants of the planters accepting that they were a minority. And in such a democracy, a minority would have had to accept the will of the majority whilst maintaining the freedom to influence thought and action against the prevailing majority consensus.

It is precisely this manipulation designed to maintain the status quo that contains within it the truth which, contrary to the statements of many, Britain is still interested in remaining in Ireland if only in 6 of our 32 counties. (A good hold of the head however stifles the rest of the body.)

Thus, British military and administrative intransigence is the stranglehold that generates reactive violence in order to remove the hold in the name of, and in the necessity of, freedom. Pearse's grasp of, and insight into, this reality is paramount.

Now that which generates guerilla warfare is also the basis for the failure of socialists in attempts to create a united working class in the occupied 6 counties. For the creation of the latter would sound the death knell of British rule in Ireland — which the British establishment do not want, and in spite of their protestations to the contrary, still use the Orange card in a more subtle and sophisticated manner.

As I have stated or implied elsewhere, the unity of the working class people pertaining to a socialist society in Ireland cannot be realised while the British presence prevails. The national question has to be settled first; although parallel with the pursuit of the latter, an effective socialist propaganda campaign must be active.

Furthermore, the unity of the working class without a revolutionary strategy as distinct from a constitutional one, is doomed to failure because of the inevitable evolution of a trade union mentality that inevitably becomes and is part of the status quo. Since when have we heard those alleged socialists who are prominent in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions speak of the need for national unity or a Socialist Republic?

In the event of national unity the pursuit of justice must still continue. In the new context, however, justice would be the people owning and controlling the means of production, distribution and exchange; not a minority as it is in the south of Ireland at present. Again I question can anyone imagine this minority letting go of their power and privilege in the name of justice? James Connolly foresaw such a minority in a free Ireland and knew that they would defend their position by all means available to them: that is why he told us to hold on to our weapons in the event of achieving national freedom.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

18 October 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Hold Onto Your Guns
Liam O Comain


Loyalist Violence
Newton Emerson


Sleeping With the Enemy
Kathleen O Halloran


Whatever Happened to the Anti War Movement?
Brendan O'Neill


Free Joe & Clare
Davy Carlin


Theodor Adorno
Liam O Ruairc


The Desaparecidos
Anthony McIntyre


The Letters Page has been updated.


12 October 2003


Tribalism is little more than the lowest common denominator
Thomas Gore


Separation vs. Segregation
Eamon Sweeney


The Legitimacy of Our Struggle
Liam O Comain


Not Losing His Way
Anthony McIntyre


A Hero of Reknown
Kathleen O Halloran


West Belfast - Childhood and the Wars
Davy Carlin


Abduction of Republican
32 County Sovereignty Committee


RSF attend Sardinian Conference
Des Dalton




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