Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Concise statement of socialist struggle line policy for Northern Ireland

Prepared and Circulated: December 1972.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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EROL Note: This is an internal document prepared by the CFB London, Ireland Caucus.

The following statement is the result of a great deal of study in the London group. Particular reference should be made to: ’Ireland One Nation’ (S.M.), ’Ireland One Nation!’ (D.B.), ’Ireland and the Colonial Question’ (E.K.), and the ’Fact Sheets’ and ’What is a Colony?’ (Ireland Caucus).

A. Our analysis shows that:

1. The protestant population of Ulster has not as a mass taken part in any movement for separation from the U.K. for the last 150 years and there is no objective basis for being able to persuade them to do so now.
2. Northern Ireland is not a colony of Britain but a depressed region of the United Kingdom economy, having features also found in Scotland, Wales and parts of England.
3. It is not consistent with the Marxist-Leninist theory of nations or with historical facts to argue that the protestant majority of Northern Ireland form part of the Irish nation that established the Irish Republic.
4. The working class will gain no benefit from a nationalist struggle to separate Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. economy and state as Wales and Scotland are.
5. Sectarianism is only temporarily the main contradiction. The underlying principal contradiction is a class one, between the U.K. Bourgeoisie and the working class, not a national one.

B. Whereas the precise tactics to be followed in the present situation in Northern Ireland can only be decided in the light of the experience of comrades working there our general policy should be:

1. We should take steps towards the organisation of a single party throughout the United Kingdom state, in order to ensure that the working class and the masses are led efficiently to fight the ruling class where ever it attempts to exert its power.
2. The correct Leninist policy for dealing with the deep nationalist divisions in the working class in Northern Ireland is to insist in propaganda 1) that being working class comes before allegiance to any community, 2) that an economic and political community has a right to be part of any particular state if it wishes, 3) that minority communities within the state should have full democratic rights. By insisting on the most democratic solution of the national question we lay the basis for working class unity.
3. In propaganda, within the context of attacking the British ruling class and its Northern Ireland section as the main enemy, we should draw a clear line between ourselves and, on the one hand, those who play into the hands of the bourgeoisie by taking a protestant ascendancy line, and, on the other, those who play into the hands of the bourgeoisie by taking an Irish Nationalist line. Only by combatting these two errors from the beginning will it be possible to build a working class movement that owe allegiance to itself and to no-one else.
4. In our present propaganda the term “British Imperialism”, in connexion with Northern Ireland, should be avoided where possible because it leaves the door open for a nationalist instead of a socialist interpretation of the present stage of struggle.
5. We should also avoid supporting the idea of a “United Ireland”, which under existing conditions can only lead to the incorporation of the Irish Republic into the British state by some sort of federal arrangement, thereby enabling the British ruling class to rationalise its control over the British Isles. This is therefore objectively a reactionary slogan.
6. We should not rule out a policy of regional autonomy for Northern Ireland.
7. The key point in the line of socialist struggle in Northern Ireland is the work should be directed to rally the working class of Northern Ireland on the basis of their class interests.