Failing the test

Without doubt, the revolutionary struggle in the Six Counties is the defining issue for the revolutionary left in Britain - or at least it should be. Any revolutionary who fails this fundamental acid test hardly deserves the name democrat, let alone ‘Marxist’ or ‘communist’.

In this light it is worth studying the following statements, all issued after the IRA bomb exploded in Docklands: “All supporters of the peace process will want to condemn the indiscriminate bombing”; “We condemn the planting of this bomb ... It will only serve to reinforce sectarian division”; “The bomb which ended 18 months of ceasefire in Northern Ireland was a tragedy”.

Surely all this liberalistic condemnation and pacifistic hand-wringing emanates from sources like The Guardian or even ‘left’ Labourites?

Wrong. These howls of disapproval came from organisations which claim the mantle of Marxism and therefore stand, even if only formally, for the destruction of the British state.

Unfortunately, genuine revolutionaries are all too familiar with the ‘peacenik’ sentiments expressed above in the Morning Star, Militant and Socialist Worker respectively.Communists have to recognise that with very few exceptions the British left has suffered from what Lenin dubbed “social chauvinism” - ie socialist in theory, chauvinist in deeds.

If you are looking for undiluted chauvinism, then the Morning Star is always your best bet. Bristling with outrage, it warns in a Churchillian manner: “The IRA has badly miscalculated the public mood in Britain” (February 12) and ‘impartially’ reminds British imperialism and the IRA that “a military victory for any side is out of the question” (February 13). Phew, thank heavens for that!

Socialist Worker lapsed into its usual Woodstock-type pacifism, tearfully telling us, “August 1994’s bright hopes for peace were misplaced” (my italics, February 17).

However its social-pacifist position quickly degenerates into rank social-chauvinism, when it comments: “Perhaps the IRA might not have bombed if it had believed the next British government would be more flexible” (my italics). So, perhaps the oppressed catholic/nationalist community should lay down its arms and wait for a more ‘enlightened’ imperialist government to sort out this regrettable ‘squabble’ in its back yard?

Militant places all its hopes on US imperialism’s ability to dampen down, if not extinguish, revolutionary ‘hot-spots’ throughout the world: “The Mitchell Commission was set up to offer a way out of the impasse reached in the peace process. It proposed entering into talks without prior decommissioning” (February 16).

Hardly surprising. Militant Labour believes that the IRA volunteers are responsible for “sectarian violence”, and has long urged Irish revolutionaries to be more like British workers and return to the path of ‘normal’ politics - ie, trade union struggles. Funnily enough though, the reactionary loyalist Progressive Unionist Party gets a very good press in Militant, because it apparently has “adopted a social and economic programme to the left of the British new Labour Party, including adopting a variation of clause four”. 

ML wants to close its eyes and imagine that it can carry on uniting catholic and protestant workers against “the different bosses and sectarian parties” ... within the confines of the sectarian statelet of ‘Ulster’, with its imperialist occupation force and death-squads. Real life has no place in ML’s cosy reformist schema.

This US-sponsored ‘peace’ process is an attempt to resolve the revolutionary situation negatively, in favour of British imperialism. That is why communists stand resolutely for the IRA, against the British state.

Danny Hammill