The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Towards True National Liberation
Liam O Comain • 7.11.03

There are those within the Irish left who argue that the struggle for national liberation is not only anti-working class but also anti-socialist. On the extreme there are those whose slogan is "internationalism", whereas on the other extreme there are those who contend that socialism can evolve peacefully, both within the 6 county and 26 county statelets. Some of the latter believe that progressive industrial nationalisation within both states will develop into a multinational gestation, the end result being two socialist societies. Such logic however is uninfluenced by the history of working class struggles throughout the world, and its formulators have ignored the Chilean-lesson.

The latter example sounded the death knell of those who believe in the peaceful road to socialism. On the other hand the "internationalists" appear to be ignorant of the Latin origins of the term "inter". An accurate definition reveals that the term means 'between', in other words "internationalism" implies 'between nations'. Thus, by implication, to be truly international one must be initially truly national. Therefore in order to establish an international socialist community we must not neglect the national factor i.e. we must work for socialism within our own countries.

This does not imply however that socialists should not be alert to certain forms of
"nationalism". That is, bastard forms of nationalism exhibited by parties such as the British National Front and the Social Democratic and Labour Party. And of course the so called 'nationalism' of Provisional Sinn Fein which is really a form of republican unionism. The latter is the negation of true nationalism and an obstacle to the development of real internationalism. It is, perhaps, the wrong conception of what nationalism really is and by association what is meant by national liberation that has led these representatives of the Irish left to take such a reactionary stand. The futility of their position is further illustrated when we hear them acknowledging the importance of Connolly to the potential socialist revolution. Such an acknowledgement reflects their lack of knowledge of Connolly himself.

For James Connolly participated and died in a national liberation struggle. On the eve of the 1916 Rising Connolly stated that his participation would be misinterpreted by his fellow socialists. That they would not understand his motives. Even the so-called official world of "socialism", that is the leaders of the Second International condemned him. Also, the English Independent Labour Party said that:

"Connolly was terribly and criminally mistaken."

There was one socialist who understood Connolly, however, and that was Lenin. Lenin declared his approval of the Rising and attacked those who attacked this aspect of the struggle for Irish national liberation.

As the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution Lenin was perhaps the greatest socialist thinker of the 20th century. As a Marxist he did not treat Marxism as a dogma, for to do so would be to strip it of its revolutionary message. In fact Lenin developed and expounded the theories of Marx. He had a logical approach to political questions and when he defended the 1916 fight for Irish national liberation he stated:

"It expressed itself in street fighting conducted by a section of the urban petty bourgeoisie and a section of the workers after a long period of mass agitation and demonstration.

"For to imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without the revolutionary outbursts of a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices without a movement of politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against landlord, church, monarchal national and other oppression - to imagine that means repudiating social revolution - whoever expects a "pure" social revolution will never lives to see it. Such a person pays his service to a revolution without understanding what revolution really is."

This an apt description of those Irish socialists who do not see the need for national liberation; of those who are opposed to the present struggle; of those who are indifferent and who concentrate on purely economic and democratic objectives. Yet those same individuals and parties would claim that they are part of the Leninist tradition. To paraphrase Pearse:

"The fools, the fools, the fools."

True national liberation means revolution - a process in which the democratic principle is extended to all aspects of Irish society. Democracy permeating the whole fabric of the lives of our people and not the false form which we experience now and again at the ballot box. In fact true democracy is revolution in practice - the Irish working and small farming classes controlling the means of production, distribution and 'exchange.

In this sense 'democracy'. 'national liberation', 'revolution' and 'socialism' are but aspects of the same phenomenon. Due to the prevailing influence of capitalist and colonial hegemony, however, and for reasons of political discourse we tend to make a distinction between the latter concepts. Perhaps that is another reason for the lack of support for the national struggle by the reactionary Irish left.

As the history of Ireland illustrates it is the workers and the small farmers who alone remain interested in solving the national question. They are the only truly revolutionary bloc. It remains the task of authentic socialist revolutionaries to direct these forces in the job of dismantling the colonial and neo-colonial statelets in this country. Self-determination for the Irish people is a necessary pre-requisite--if the land of Ireland is to belong to its people. To those of the Irish left who do not see the revolutionary importance of the national struggle we leave them, with the thoughts of Liam Mellows from his prison cell:

"The people with a stake in the country were never with the revolution. The issue is - Capitalism and Empire versus national independence and the industrial workers and poor farmers."





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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 November 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Interview with Eamon McCann
Anthony McIntyre


SEA Foyle Election Manifesto


Towards True National Liberation

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Belief in Santa Claus
Tommy Gorman


Getting It All Wrong
Liam O Ruairc


Castlewellan Arrests
Green Party


Inductive Writing Doesn't Make It So
Marty Egan


All Animals Are Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others
Sean Smyth


Authentic Americans - US Martyrs Pose Questions for John Negroponte
Toni Solo


Call for Boycott
Palestinian Academics


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Belfast Agreement Postpones Cure for British Problem
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Further Problems at Maghaberry Gaol
Martin Mulholland


Luis Eduardo Garcia Interviewed

Anthony McIntyre


Choosing Sides in Iraq
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The Taboo of Racism So Subtle
Davy Carlin


Left Unity Meeting


Thessaloniki Prisoners On Hunger Strike
Anarchist Prisoner Support


Death Fast in 4th Year
DHKP-C Prisoners’ Organisation




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