Anthony McIntyre
Spring 1995

On Tuesday last The Irish Committee for a Marxist Programme convened a meeting at Belfast's Conway Mill to discuss the Framework Document. It was poorly attended, and even then the numbers were grossly inflated by the attendance of the Bobby Sands Discussion Group. They had been previously discussing the same document at their own meetings and came along to the Marxist one in the hope of having their own views seriously challenged. They left disappointed.

The Irish Committee for a Marxist Programme is the residual sediment from the old Peoples Democracy. They seem to exist as a monument to the past rather than for any bearing they can exercise on the future. The rhetoric is still there, plenty of slogans and red flag waving. Gone is the enthusiasm, the organisational skills, the self-confidence and the innovative analytical power of the old PD. John McAnulty says the same things that Michael Farrell once did, twenty years ago. But Farrell realised that time moved on and has subsequently modified his stance. The plausibility of his discourse may well be a matter for debate but at least he does not sound stale like his erstwhile colleagues.

The basic thrust of The Committee's analysis is simply that the Framework Document represents the latest attempt by the British state to consolidate its rule in Ireland. The republican leadership in not rejecting the document outright have sold out to the bourgeoisie. The only hope lies in uniting the Irish working class. It sounded depressingly familiar - the type of stuff we were all eager to hear in jail twenty years ago. Rhetoric and no strategic orientation or substance. We were young and knew little better. But the same fool’s pardon cannot be granted to John McAnulty.

When challenged by a member of the Bobby Sands group to explain why, if the peace process was as disastrous as he made it out to be, so many people were attracted by it, and so few by the arguments of 'the left', McAnulty merely shrugged and said his group no longer let on they are the Provos. There may well be a Marxist logic in that but I wearily confess not yet to have worked it out.

The paucity of open strategic debate has long been a specter haunting those involved in resisting British involvement in our country. That debate has been made no richer by Tuesday's contribution.



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