Sunday, February 28, 2016

Irish Elections. How come the right won a majority after years of struggle against austerity.

James Connolly and James Larkin. The two founding leaders of the Irish working class movement. 

 Sean O'Torain.     

The count for Friday’s Irish elections has not yet been concluded. But enough are in to show what happened. The two main capitalist parties which supported the vicious attacks on the working class on behalf of the international capitalists, the so called austerity program, austerity for the working class, but bail out for the bankers, gained 50% of the votes cast. If we add on to that Sinn Fein which in spite of its best efforts to pretend otherwise is a capitalist party, and a few capitalist supporting independents and dribs and drabs, capitalist parties and politicians won between them  up to 70 percent of the vote.  

This is staggering. After years of hundreds of thousands on the streets against the austerity program, after the great movement which voted in a referendum to make Ireland the first country where same sex marriage was approved in a referendum, and the right wing capitalist parties and politicians get a majority!!!!   This is the reality. This must be faced up to. But unfortunately I know what will be happening. I know because I used to be there too. Closing my eyes to reality and pretending all was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

This is what will be happening. The self styled revolutionary left in Ireland such as the SP, SWP etc will be trying to portray the election results as some sort of victory. This will be a serious mistake. Let me go further . This will be insane. This will be a recipe for disaster.  After the offensive of capitalism against the working class over the past years, the so called austerity, to come out of this election with the right wing pro capitalist parties and individuals gaining a clear majority is a serious set back. This much be faced up to and lessons drawn. What is the reason for this victory for the capitalist forces.

The main culprits of course are the leaders of the workers organizations, the Trade Unions and the Labor Party. These leaderships support capitalism, can see no alternative to capitalism, cannot see that the working class could build a new society therefore they join with the capitalist class in holding the working class down. This is what they have done over the last years and as a result prevented the working class from seeing any alternative and from fighting back. The result was large sections of the working class in this election went back to their old parties. They could see no alternative. The Labor Party and Trade Union leaders are the main reason why the right have been returned with a majority.  

After the leadership of the Trade Unions and labor Party when it comes to responsibility comes the self styled revolutionary groups. At the height of the crisis when the economy was on the edge of a cliff these self styled revolutionary groups were found wanting. They came up with only the most basic of transitional demands. I agreed with these, do not pay this, do not pay that. I agreed with these. I agreed also with their mass demos. But I did not believe that on either front they went far enough. I believed that the movement should have committed itself to mass direct action to prevent the offensive of the government and the international capitalists from taking out of the pockets of the working class. Mass direct action, not just mass demos, mass direct action, mass strike action and workplace occupations, and pack the country’s jails if that was what it would take. This was the only way the assault on the working class could have been stopped. This should have been openly stated by the self styled revolutionary left.

Then there was the demands of do not pay this do not pay that. As I say I agreed with these but In and of themselves they were not sufficient. The majority of the working class was ahead of the self styled revolutionary groups in this regard and in this sense. They could see that to take effective steps including cancelling the debt to the banks and refusing to pay the new charges to deal with the economic crisis was serious business. The working class knew serious answers were needed. The steps of non payment and cancelling debt would have ended up with the economy and country breaking with the EU, the Euro Zone and world capitalism. The most forward thinking, in fact the mass of the working class knew this. The capitalist class frightened them with this. This had to be answered.

The left were not able to answer this. They were not able to convince the working class that they could deal with this. What was necessary and what I wrote at that time was that a program and strategy should have been drawn up. This to be based on cancelling the country’s debt, taking over the oil and gas wealth, the financial institutions, the major industries, the dominant sectors of the economy. On this basis draw up an itemized budget and plan showing how the economic problems could be dealt with and the country re-built. Showing precisely how the economic problems
could be solved. Where the money would come from. How by cancelling the debt the situation would be changed. Setting out the amount that could be brought together in a reconstruction budget to rebuild the economy. On this basis establishing a democratic socialist plan.

As well as this, and on this basis, the working class taking power into its own hands. And state clearly that yes, this would mean breaking with the international capitalist institutions and the Irish capitalist state. That it would also mean the physical and political taking over of the Irish economy and state and the establishing of a democratic socialist society and a democratic workers state and the spreading of this revolution internationally.

The working class is not stupid. They know when serious business is at hand. And they know when serious alternatives are the only solution. The left did not give these. Ponderous propaganda speeches from Joe Higgins in the Dail about how bad capitalism is do not cut it. So the working class in this election in the main went back to the old alternatives. Sure a few went to the self styled revolutionary groups. But only a few. The right wing Labor Party which has been at the center of the attacks on the working class got more votes than the left wing front the Anti Austerity Alliance of the Socialist Party and the People Before Profit of the Socialist Workers Party. This has to be faced up to and conclusions drawn. It will only add to the set back that these elections represent for the left if the left groups go around now and pat themselves on the back and tell themselves they have had a victory. Instead the left forces have to recognize that they failed to make a break through and recognize why this happened.

A major element in this failure was the continuing sectarianism of the self styled revolutionary left. As I have said many times before even the two groupings that got together in the  Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit, in an effort to have a united front could not achieve this. They had to have two united fronts.

Then there were the divisions between all the other left groups and also the AAA   PBP. Even to the extent of running a candidate against another good fighting left wing socialist sitting member of parliament. A major portion of the blame for the working class not coming out of this election and the struggles of the past years with a combative organized party which would ruthlessly fight for its interests, is first the role of the leaders of the trade unions and the labor party but second it is the role of the various self styled revolutionary left groups and their sectarianism. Both their sectarianism to each other and their sectarianism to the working class and also their sectarian internal and corrupt internal lives.

To carry out the socialist revolution in Ireland will take an organization of tens and tens of thousands committed ruthless conscious revolutionaries. It will take an international revolutionary organization of millions. Organizations of such size cannot be built with the sectarian methods of the self styled revolutionary left. Nor the delusions that the self styled revolutionary groups hold, delusions that they use to claim they had a victory in this election that the working class had a victory in this election when no such thing occurred. The fact that some on the left are saying that there was a victory is a sure sign of the sectarianism of these groups and people. It shows they are not looking at what happened to the working class as a mass force, to the class balance of forces, but to the one or two extra seats in parliament, or couple of hundred extra votes that they or their groups or candidates won. Sectarianism is a scourge on the working class. It seriously damages the working class.  

I was in the Militant group, the now SP in Ireland. I was its first member in Southern Ireland and its first full time member in Ireland as a whole. I know how it works and thinks. I do so because I used to work and think that way too. We never made any mistakes. Everything we did was a victory. It was nonsense. Every meeting we had we congratulated ourselves on what we had done right and the “victories”  we had won. I now believe that every revolutionary group should have a regular meeting after every big event such as these elections when there is only one topic on the agenda - What defeats did the working class suffer and what defeats did we suffer and what mistakes did we  the left make.  I was expelled from the CWI, the parent group of the Irish SP in 1996. I was expelled for refusing any longer to accept its shackles on my mind. My expulsion was the best thing that ever happened to me.  It freed my thought.  

At present there are some more splits and cracks in the Irish SP’s international organization the CWI.  The majority of its Russian section has left citing the CWI's incorrect method and set up its own organization. The majority of its Australian section has left citing a cover up of sexual abuse by the CWI. There is now an opposition developing in the US section of the CWI as it boot licks the Democrat and Zionist and militarist Sanders.

It is long past time for the thinking members in the SP in Ireland and the CWI members and ex members in Ireland and internationally to look to building something new and healthy. This is the only way any of the good work that was done by that organization can be preserved. I would be very glad to hear from people who are thinking about doing this so we can make further progress along these lines.   Sean Throne.

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