Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Federation of Britain (M-L), London Group

Self-Determination – not “TOM-Determination”.

Issued and circulated as an internal document: April, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The slogan, “Self-determination for the Irish people as a whole”, is essentially correct. It is clearly directed against the British ruling class and recognises that their only role in Ireland is to increase oppression in the name of monopoly capital. The British ruling class has nothing to offer any section of the Irish people, with the exception of a small group of parasitic capitalist and bureaucrats whose interests are tied to monopoly capital. The more its rule is challenged and exposed, the greater is it reliance on terrorism, torture, imprisonment and murder.

The slogan provides a principled basis for rallying behind the demand that the British ruling class withdraws its army, and it further develops the battle against the dominance of the British ruling class in Ireland, and in Britain.

The basic principle of self-determination is that the people of Ireland should have the right to settle their affairs free from any outside interference. The demand is directed against our own ruling class; it is not designed to tell the Irish people how to settle their affairs.

There is however a tendency within the TOM [Troops Out Movement – EROL] to lay a particular interpretation on the words, ’as a whole’, in a way which violates this principle by making a definite prescription for the Irish people.

What does this erroneous line imply by particularly stressing this phrase? That the TOM is committed to fight for a single state in Ireland in the near future. It thereby goes far beyond the demand for self-determination and insists on a particular outcome of the process of self-determination. It calls for TOM-determination rather than self-determination.

A single state in Ireland is inevitable. Its establishment will be directly connected building of socialism in Ireland and the smashing of the economic dominance of the British ruling class. However, the only form of reunification possible in the forseeable future is that weak federalism sought by the British ruling class to reconsolidate its grip on Ireland. The conditions for immediate reunification on a basis that will further the interests of the Irish people do not exist.

One such condition will be the winning of the Protestant working class away from their reactionary bourgeois and petit-bourgeois leadership. This can only be on the basis of developing working class unity against the British ruling class and its Irish allies.

In the absence of this unity, the oppression of Catholics can only be overcome by a mass political campaign which involves militant armed self-defence. A further step to relieving this oppression and to creating the conditions for working-class unity will be the removal of the British Army as a result of armed resistance and mass struggle in Ireland and pressure from a broad front based in the British working class demanding the withdrawal of troops and self-determination. But on our part in the CFB we do not think it correct to go beyond that and welcome military oppression of the Protestant working class.

What future is there for a demand for an immediate Irish unified state? Seamus Loughran, a Provisional Sinn Fein leader, said in a recent interview in Red Weekly (9.1.7S.) ”The only solution that will work on this island is a solution arrived at, negotiated by and agreed to by the Irish people”.

The Provisional Irish Republican Information Service stated in An Phoblacht (17.1.75): “The aim of the present campaign is not to force any section of the Ulster population into a United Ireland.” ...“It is wrong to force a million Ulster Unionists into something they are not.”...“Making the Ulster Unionist a dissatisfied minority in a 32 County Ireland is no solution.”

These statements show an awareness of the concrete situation. It is through the process of negotiation after the removal of British troops that the slogan, “Self-determination for the Irish people as a whole”, will be applied given the present state of national and class forces between and within Britain and Ireland.

The attempt by a certain tendency with TOM to particularly stress the words “as a whole” in order to call for immediate Irish unity is a serious interference in the process of Irish self-determination and arbitrarily rules out other roads to self-determination.

This tendency also attempts to put pressure on all other members of the TOM to accept this particularly interpretation. They thereby substantially limit the breath of the TOM and our ability to put militant pressure on the British ruling class. This sectarian and dogmatic stands weakens the whole movement.

We call on all individuals and groups in TOM to oppose these erroneous tendencies, carry forward the slogan of self-determination as a slogan against our ruling class, not as a way of determining how the people of Ireland settle their affairs, and to carry out the struggle to GET THE TROOPS OUT OF IRELAND!