Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle in Ireland: Build Solidarity!

Published: New Age, No. 15, August/September 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The situation in Ireland brings revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle very close to the workers in Britain. All those in Britain who call themselves revolutionaries must, if they are to deserve the name, help to build the most thorough­going solidarity with this revolutionary struggle in Britain’s neighbour and oldest colony.

Large solidarity march in London

A march in London on 12th August, in solidarity with the people of Ireland, was attended by 10,000 people. Many of the marchers were working class people who braved police harassment and arbitrary searches, to say nothing of some groups of fascist hecklers, to demonstrate their concern at the continued military occupation of the six counties.

The orderly demonstrators refused to be provoked by the police. One worker who attended the demonstration remarked to – “You certainly find plenty of police on a political demonstration. But when a man gets beaten to death by racist thugs on the underground, a policeman can’t be found.”

Though the march was largely organised by the Young capitalist Liberals, it was also attended by many workers’ organisations and progressive and revolutionary groups; including Provisional Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Veteran workers’ leader Harry MacShane spoke at the rally.

Some false ’friends’

Those misleaders of the working class on the Labour ’left’ or in the phoney ’Communist’ Party who claim to be opposed to British army atrocities in Northern Ireland are two a penny. Their so-called ’solidarity’ is just demagogy, now that they can see that more workers in Britain are becoming really concerned. What needs to be asked is: Do these mis-leaders take an anti-imperialist standpoint, and expose the fact that British imperialism – not just a few individual war­criminals – is the root-cause of the troubles in northern Ireland?

Of course they don’t. They just want the bosses’ state to punish some particularly blatant war-criminals (for appearance’s sake), and negotiate withdrawal of the British troops as part of an overall settlement that will ensure that there is an ’orderly transfer of power’ – in other words that there is no revolution.

This is a false way out of the troubles. British imperialism is their root cause. Only revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle offers a solution to them.

Bury imperialism!

With such confusion being propagated on this issue among workers in this country, it is our duty to spell out the situation clearly.

There has to be a revolution in Ireland – there must be a revolutionary struggle in Ireland, north and south, to reunify the country and establish its genuine independence. British imperialism partitioned Ireland nearly sixty years ago to prevent the rise of an independent Ireland. For the birth of such an independent Ireland through revolutionary struggle would have brought the spectre of anti-imperialism perilously close to the working class of Britain. Such a prospect has remained British imperialism’s worst nightmare ever since. (For revolutionaries, it has been the fondest dream and most cherished hope.)

British imperialism has tried to get this partition accepted with the passage of time. It has tried by every means to tie the industrial areas of the six counties to the economies of England and Scotland, and thus to leave the south as a desolate backwater – an agricultural hinterland with little industry of its own, and a prey to neo-colonialist plunder. Such a situation leaves the industrial working class of Ireland scattered, weak and disunited. British imperialism wants to fossilise this situation by maintaining the partition.

Unfortunately for British imperialism, there is no way of fossilising live patriots. If proof of this were needed again, it has been given in recent days by spirited republican demonstrations and other actions in Derry and elsewhere. This contrasts with the disorder and disillusion in the unionist camp, with the annual Apprentice Boys’ March in Derry poorly attended this year. Can it be that the Protestant workers whose hearts and minds have for so long been a prey to the divisive ideology of Unionism are beginning to ask themselves what they get out of the union with the British Bosses’ state, and to count the costs of the puny privileges of their ’ascendency’ over their republican class brothers and sisters? If so, then the writing is on the wall for British imperialism.

The Irish working class is sure to build a revolutionary party that can lead all developments towards workers’ unity, north and south. Such a party will be able to launch a revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle that will sweep away the partition and shake British imperialism to its roots.

On top of all this, the solidarity movement in Britain is at last becoming a force to be reckoned with. Under the banner of revolutionary anti-imperialism, we must lead workers in this country to rally to the side of their sister working class over the water.

British imperialism, get out of Ireland!