Imperialism Must Be Confronted – Mobilise For Unity 

The Socialist Voice is a useful medium for critical debate on many issues, for advancing the self-determination of the people of Ireland. It is not for promoting or ignoring  British colonialism in Ireland. 

An article, “Mobilising Northern Workers”, in  the May edition completely ignored the savagery and injustice of the continued British occupation of the six north-eastern counties of Ireland in exchange for an increased ability for workers to go on strike there, and cheaper housing. The trade union movement can no longer sit on the fence on Irish unity and the ending of British colonialism. 

The author continuously lambasts the comparison of any advantages that workers have in the South to those in the North, but is more than happy to point out negatives in relation to his opinion of the industrial relations structures south of the border and the cost of living there. 

Reactionaries for years have hidden behind everything from EU membership, the NHS and now workers rights to avoid dealing with the ultimate class issue of economic independence, sovereignty and the British withdrawal from Ireland. 

Some have argued that the British welfare state was so good compared to services south of the border that this was reason enough not to recommend Irish reunification to the working class of the North. As the British welfare state collapses and Irish unity becomes inevitable, they now hide behind the EU as a reason against the reunification of this country, forgetting to mention that the Six Counties are members of NATO as part of the oldest cesspit of Imperialism in Britain. 

The most recent apologist for colonialism in the Socialist Voice argues that unions have far better prospects of engaging in disruptive action in the North than in the South and goes on to praise workers rights and the less centralised collective bargaining in the North and in the “UK as a whole”.  He then hides behind class interests stating unashamedly that comparison of normal pay across “entirely different economic jurisdictions” (or a foreign country, the 26 Counties) “where surplus value creation and distribution are completely dissimilar is simply no good”. Once again he prefers to compare East to West or the “UK as a whole” (his words) rather than North to South, or Ireland. 

This author hones in on negative comparisons north and south, the cost of private housing and then talks about the EU average pricing for food. If the author cared to travel South of the border, he will find that there is very little, if any, difference between food prices on either side of the border as the cost of Capitalism crisis impoverishes workers equally. As for the price of private housing, if he were to compare the price of a house in Newry to one in Dundalk, or Derry to Letterkenny, he may find the cost is very similar indeed, but that does not suit his narrative. The costs of housing in Dublin, Galway and Cork vary widely with those in the border regions, similarly to house prices in London, Edinburgh or Manchester. 

This narrative is more akin to the TUV than that of a “scientific communist”. It is not just the North-Eastern corner of Ireland that has been colonised by the British: the minds of many have also been colonised. The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. The most fundamental class issue for any socialist worth their salt, in an imperial colony, is national independence and self determination, to break the connection with Imperialism and  not to salivate over the crumbs from the table of the oppressor. 

The trade union movement in the North must lead from the front on Irish reunification and the need to build a socialist Ireland, which will never be done in a partitioned country. This will not be done by ignoring the national question and comparing east to west as if there was a pot of gold waiting at the end of a rainbow in London for the workers in the North. And even if there was a pot of gold in England for the workers of Ireland, it would be stolen gold plundered in hundreds of years of pillage and slaughter in the colonies of “The Empire”, where the sun never set and the blood never dried. 

The reality is that  the  economic case for unionism is in tatters.  One of the reasons why there are more strikes in the North and in “the UK as a whole” is that wages are, as stated before, Hellish and conditions so poor for the workers there. 

There is no democracy in the North. The so-called government, a.k.a. “The Assembly” has no power to decide what workers are paid: that’s the prerogative of the occupier. 

“If you do not condemn colonialism, if you do not side with the Colonial people, what kind of Revolution are you waging?” – Ho Chi Minh.