First Published: Scottish Vanguard, Vol. 5, No. 2 1973
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The long struggle for Ireland’s freedom – that struggle which John MacLean realised held many lessons particularly for the workers of Scotland – has developed rapidly over the past three years. The continuing crisis of British (and World) capitalism has meant that a large section of the people of what is now occupied North-Eastern Ireland have been denied even the most elementary and basic civil rights, while the whole of the working population, of whatever religion, colour or origins, face increasing economic and social insecurity – unemployment, bad housing, declining living standards, as well as physical violence and death from the armed forces of imperialism which is attempting to pass its crisis on to the backs of the workers – just as it is doing on this side of the Irish Sea.
At the same time the industrial and rural workers and small-holders in the allegedly “Independent Republic of Eire” are subject to exactly the same anti-socialist pro-British type government as are their compatriots in the 6 Counties. Throughout Ireland, and most obviously in the 6 counties, the workers on Sunday go to their different denominational churches; on Monday, however, the same workers meet together to work side by side in the same textile, engineering works and shipyards, to receive the same wages and suffer the same insecurity whether they are of different religions or of none. The wages or unemployment “benefit” is the basic minimum provided by capitalist employers to enable the workers to sustain their capacity to produce profits for the investors who are also a mixture of different religions. Thus the common class interests of the workers are the unifying factor which will certainly impel the workers of all Ireland in due course to unite against their common enemy.
Although it becomes clearer with every passing day that the struggle in Ireland – like the struggles all over the world – is basically a struggle of the working class against their exploiters, nevertheless the truth is that British imperialism has used in the past and continues to use any and every type of trick and misrepresentation as well as the direct use of force and provocation to deceive and confuse the Irish masses and their class comrades in Britain, to divert them from this central question. They have used “religion”, “terrorism”, “peace initiatives”; they have tried the ”soft” approach and the “tough”; they will do anything to ensure their continued political and economic domination over Ireland in one form or another – “make trouble, fail, make trouble and fail again till their doom”, that is the logic of their behaviour which is tightening the noose around their own necks. All the various moves to prettify British imperialism and make it appear as a blameless “peacemaker ” are on the same level of sincerity as the “peace proposals” and “Vietnamisation-Escalation” plans of U.S. imperialism in Indochina – all further attempts to divide and rule by pretending that it is someone or something other than imperialism itself which is responsible for the absence of peace in the first place. All the great exponents of scientific socialism have continually pointed out that imperialism with its unbridled urge to expand, exploit and dominate inevitably brings war, death and destruction, and that these will only come to an end when imperialism itself is finally destroyed by the peoples of the whole world.
Many trials undoubtedly lie ahead for the Irish patriots and many mistakes will doubtless be made in the course of the struggle – but it is only in this way that we become tested and strong. Whether British imperialism rules directly in Ulster or through a puppet regime such as Stormont, or whether it rules covertly but effectively through a “home-grown” reactionary regime in the South the tasks of the Irish masses remain as clear as when James Connolly posited them in 1916 – to throw British imperialism, lock, stock, and barrel, out of Ireland, and to go on to build a Socialist Republic, united, free and strong. The means and methods by which the Irish people secure these ends, including the use of arms, are a matter for the Irish masses alone to decide. They are not obliged to accept any restrictions on their mode of struggle imposed by their enemies, nor are they called upon to follow the meddlesome “instructions” issued by individuals and groups in Britain, often calling themselves revolutionary and claiming to be the friends of the Irish masses but in fact forming the “left” wing of British imperialism which has been interfering in the affairs of the Irish for centuries.
Our task is not to issue orders to our comrades in Ireland who, in all probability, are better informed on the situation there than we are, nor is it to be side-tracked by Westminster propaganda and the capitalist press, but to resolutely support our fellow workers in this struggle by agitating for the recall of all British troops, many of whom are Scots whose own interests could not be more diametrically opposed to the job they are now doing, and to call upon the Westminster Dictatorship to leave the people of Ireland to settle their own affairs. But above all, we shall give most concrete and invaluable support to our comrades in Ireland when, in a determined and consistent manner, we take up our posts in the anti-imperialist struggle and set about the establishment of a Workers’ Republic here in Scotland.