Why would we hand over our achievements to those who oppose us?

Many Socialist Republican and anti-imperialist groups in Ireland have a well-founded distrust of our parliamentary political system. They know from bitter experience that no solutions for the plight of the working class or a United Socialist Ireland will emanate from there. To quote Connolly: “Governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.” The average voter knows this too. Many still vote knowing nothing will change. However, an increasing number, as high as 50% on the island, do not vote at all. That’s a very large cohort who clearly see no point in voting because they see no material benefits arising from it. They feel impotent, divided and isolated from any material decisions that would change their lives. So they abstain. 

There are opportunities, therefore, to begin to build a new Socialist democracy from the bottom up, a people-powered democracy, that would endeavour to draw power out of local councils and institutions, as a first step, into our communities. What is called “decentralised democracy” in the Indian state of Kerala. To allow our communities to become empowered and not remain isolated or atomised by the ruling powers. It makes our calling for a Socialist Republic feel real and achievable. 

For example, is there any reason why the people in our communities cannot be assisted to organise and agitate, in a critical, radical and constructive way, for a proper all-Ireland public housing strategy? And expose the real reasons for the lack of housing. Or for a free, all-Ireland health service and education system? For, all-Ireland worker focused employment laws? People can also organise, politically, around the mental health crisis, as with the destruction of the climate, to further undermine capitalism. Calling for a 32-county Socialist Republic at every opportunity is correct but not enough. Without practical building for it on the ground, it is just rhetoric. The ruling class’ capitalist and neo-liberal system, that prevents public housing for all, privatises our health services and education, along with ensuring the on-going exploitation of the workers, must be exposed and a process developed to begin to put down the foundations for socialism.  

We can begin to build, in small ways – it will take time, effort and many false starts – our own politically radical and parallel system, to hold power to account but mainly to continually expose them, by, for example, building radical people’s councils, community groups, assemblies and Unions or whatever we decide to call them, especially around the social justice issues that we know cannot be resolved within capitalism. We can build from the bottom up but only if we organise, educate and agitate, to do it effectively. It is not the “brilliance of ideologies” that people want, but a clear revolutionary path to achieve their basic needs.  

Today, not surprisingly, 99% per cent of existing community or civil society groups don’t even know that they could create the basis for radical change. They have a “contrived dearth” of radical political direction. Worse, most don’t even think it’s their business to create or even be a part of any revolutionary change. But that’s the job of Socialist Republicans, anti-imperialists and Communists, to actively set about changing that sterile thinking. We need to break that false belief that bourgeois parliamentary politics will bring revolutionary change.

In that process of beginning to build now for the type of Ireland that we aspire to, Communists, Socialist Republicans, along with others, can be an important part of building a thinking nation. It will also widen our appeal and opportunities for action, especially by those who find it difficult to join with us directly, at this time. But most importantly, it will mean we become seriously embedded in our communities and increasingly impossible to dislodge. And as those in power move to destroy us, as they surely will, our recognised value in our communities will be the “fuel of our resistance”. You cannot kill an idea when the wider population takes ownership of it.

Are we scared by the consequences of success? Is it someone else’s job to actually establish the Socialist Republic? Do we just accept their bourgeois “agreed”, “shared’ or “United Ireland”? Or do we just raise the racket, and seriously scare, damage or potentially destroy the present system of power/economics, then leave “the field” to those who were in power before, to come back? Why would you risk anything for that? When a central part of all our work must be about, building deeply, to retain and maintain, any or all gains we ever make.

In short, at the end of all of our lifetimes of activism, are we going to hand over our gains to some pro-imperialists, anti-Republican, anti-Communist groupings or pro-system political parties? All of this will need to be considered, in comradely dialogue, with as wide an audience as is possible, so that any future Socialist or anti-imperialist successes in Ireland are not to be undermined, coerced and defeated, snatched from the jaws of victory, again!