Weakening of the structure of capitalism in Ireland
Two recent articles in Socialist Voice – “On the need for a focal point,” parts 1 and 2 – attempted to deal with the importance of directed, planned and conscious interventions in the class struggle. The articles put forward a framework for thinking about capitalism in Ireland as interrelated but distinct pillars, with which to focus our weight and forces on specific targets, in order to maximise the strength of our blows and to exploit points of weakness in Ireland’s capitalist structures.
As important as it is to focus on specific targets, it is equally important to outline and adopt a road map in pursuit of the greater socialist project, so that we don’t lose our course, as so many have done, in the tall grass of daily struggles and campaigns, where opportunism can entrap movements in a labyrinth designed and controlled by the ruling class.
With this in mind, and expanding on part 2 concerning how we build a united front, the idea of a Unity Programme – a minimum programme with the goal of gaining maximum support – which is the subject of this article, may be a project that other anti-imperialist, socialist, left and progressive forces could get behind.
The essence of a Unity Programme will call on the support of all progressive allies within the trade union movement, the environmental movement and local communities as well as political allies who are willing to build a united front, committed to working towards the fulfilment of shared strategic objectives and pursuing the material basis for a united Ireland in a planned, democratic and participative manner, where each party or group can maintain its autonomy but remain committed to the programme.
Without a minimum programme agreed upon by the broadest spectrum of left forces in a disciplined but unified front it is hard to see how we will move from spontaneous to conscious blows against capitalism within a necessary time limit to alleviate the worst projections of climate chaos. At its core, this Unity Programme must be anchored by the daily struggles of workers, cognisant of the environmental emergency on our doorstep, reflective of the growing aspirations and calls for ending partition and British rule in Ireland, and ushering in a new Democratic Republic, for the people, by the people, and of the people.
The proposal is that this programme would be based on these three fundamental elements, on which we would seek to unite all progressive and democratic forces to meet the challenges and mounting attacks on the environment, on our democracy and sovereignty, and ultimately on our future and those of generations to come.
Just as Irish capitalism is structured around three interdependent pillars, a Unity Programme would be based on three core pillars, namely an all-Ireland environmental plan, an all-Ireland universal public services plan, and an all-Ireland industrial and financial plan.
1. An all-Ireland environmental plan
This is the linchpin of the Unity Programme, whereby the reality of environmental destruction and climate change must be central to our vision for a united Ireland. It is a united and strategic approach for a rapid transition to an environmentally sustainable economy, with particular emphasis on the agriculture, energy and construction sectors. This plan can focus campaigns on energy, food production, waste and water management, imports and exports, construction of urban and rural areas, etc. It is a plan for transitioning our production, distribution, consumption and waste economy to become environmentally sustainable.
2. An all-Ireland universal public services plan
Rather than being seduced by the false lure of a universal basic income, the public funding and expanding ownership to create universal health, transport, housing, education, welfare and infrastructure systems, with the purpose of securing the necessities and basic needs, would be a great benefit to all. This plan can focus campaigns on such crucial areas as health and housing, with an emphasis on the ending of private companies operating and profiting from the provision of these essential service industries within the economy.
3. An all-Ireland industrial and financial plan
If we are to make the transition to a sustainable economy, it must be backed by an industrial and financial policy for the proper regional development of the whole country. This is a strategy whereby the full-scale nationalisation of banks and essential industries is created for full employment, in line with units 1 and 2.
Any all-Ireland industrial policy that is centred upon workers must coincide with the establishment of a new Bill of Rights for workers. The plan facilitates the transfer of workers displaced in the process of transitioning to an environmentally sustainable economy. This requires a reorientation of finance and industry towards meeting the needs of citizens and moving our economy away from the triple-lock dependence.
Although this is only an outline of the basis of the Unity Programme – which will be part of the robust internal debate leading up to the CPI’s coming national congress in 2022 – what is central to it is that it will require a fundamental shift from economic markets with capitalist class relations dictating government policy towards economic planning intervening and replacing private markets in the provision of services, infrastructure projects, essential industries and financing in a just transition towards a sustainable, democratic 32-county republic. This phase will lay down in real, material terms the essential foundations, tools and practice in the further advancement towards a planned socialist economy.
That is why it is important to reiterate that insisting at this stage on a maximum socialist programme, or calling for “revolution,” which will only garner minimum support, is infantile and will lead nowhere. It is also why the hollow “anti-establishment” rhetoric of the right-wing nationalists who try to cash in on the anger of the people will only lead them down a rabbit hole filled with hatred and violence, with no chance of actually challenging the established ruling class.
As was mentioned in the previous article, one can objectively work towards the establishment of a 32-county socialist republic without demanding that it be a necessary precondition that all parties involved who work with us on particular issues sign up to the same goal. Conversely, our allies can link the single-issue campaigns to the broader struggle with the support of such a programme without having to declare their intention of establishing a 32-country socialist republic.
Finally, the strength of this programme, or any similar initiatives, will not be determined by the number of political parties willing to work towards a united front, in a top-down framework: the success of a Unity Programme, of creating a united front, must be built from the ground up, from grass-roots movements, from the workers’ movement, both urban and rural, from the environmental movement, from the trade union movement, from the myriad of community activists and campaigns driven to action by the deteriorating material conditions created by the contradictions and antagonisms of the capitalist mode of production.
The objective of the CPI is to instil a class-consciousness into these movements, to try to steward a united front, and in time, if the party gains the trust of the people, ultimately to lead the working class in a struggle and war against the ruling capitalist class.
Our job of work today, however, is to publicise our analysis, to be active on the ground in daily struggles, to outline our strategy and present a programme that is in line with the hopes and aspirations of working people and families throughout the breadth and width of the country, from Cork to Derry, from Dublin to Galway.