Ireland: The 1916 Easter Rising 100 Years On

The modern Irish Republic was formally ushered into existence on Easter Monday 1949. The choice of day was no accident but a deliberate symbolic identification with the Easter Rising thirty-three years earlier. By that time the actual events of the Rising had been overtaken by myth-making. The Irish national cause had been flagging well before 1916 but the Rising gave it the “martyrs” it needed. The Rising, they claimed in 1949, had been the spark which led to the rise of the Republican movement and the eventual independence of the 26 counties outside Ulster from British imperial rule. This some historians dispute (pointing to the fight against conscription into the British Army in 1918 as the beginning of a wider nationalist movement). No matter, this year the Irish State and the various factions of its bourgeoisie are competing to claim it for themselves by honouring its hundredth anniversary with more than the usual annual ritual commemorations.

The following article is based on one we wrote in 1986 and it has an entirely different focus – that of the relationship between nationalism and the working class struggle for socialism. It shows that far from confirming the correctness of working class participation in national uprisings in the epoch of imperialism, 1916 actually represented the collapse of the independent Irish workers’ movement in its capitulation to bourgeois nationalism, with important implications for the subsequent defeat of workers struggles in Ireland after the First World War.

JAMES CONNOLLY AND THE NATIONAL QUESTION

On Easter Monday 1916 sections of the Irish petty bourgeoisie led by the radical part of the nationalist intelligentsia allied with James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army, a small trade union militia which could arguably be called the armed wing of the working class, carried out an insurrection against the British imperialist administration of Ireland. They were all fighting for an independent Irish republic, but with Connolly also fighting for a wider goal – social revolution. However, from its outset the Dublin Rising of Easter Week 1916 was doomed to failure. Its consequences though have reverberated down the last century. Not only did 1916 give the Republican movement its martyrology and nationalism a popular base, the Irish socialist movement, already weakened by the defeat of the 1913 Dublin Lock Out strike, became subordinate to nationalism, retreating into trade union building and reformism.

Why should James Connolly, founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party (1896), and apparently quite aware that the interests of the working class are opposed to those of the bourgeoisie, have seen a bourgeois national revolution as a necessity before a fight for socialism could be started? The answer only becomes comprehensible when it is realised that Connolly made serious concessions to bourgeois ideology, and not only on religion (i.e. in private he claimed to be an atheist, in public he posed as a Catholic[1]) but also in his confusions on nationalism. Basically, while Connolly drew much inspiration from the theory and practice of the Marxist socialist movement, his general political approach (profoundly influenced by the then syndicalism and mechanical materialism of the early British workers’ movement), was some distance from that of Marx.

Connolly never really grasped that the nation is a concoction of the bourgeoisie and the basic form of its class domination over society. Nor did he sufficiently understand the dangerous role of nationalism as a counter-weight to the revolutionary energies of the working class, despite his courageous anti-war stance in 1914, so he rapidly gravitated away from his defence of workers’ political independence and any prospect of a proletarian solution to the imperialist slaughter. Working with a mechanical concept of a ‘two stage’ revolution, in which the achievement of national independence and the establishment of a bourgeois-democratic Republic were seen as being the precursor to socialism at a later date, Connolly abandoned an independent class terrain and entered the national movement in alliance with capitalist forces fighting for national self-determination.

Now while in the 19th century national wars and movements for independence were generally part of the progressive development of the capitalist mode of production by 1914 this was no longer the case. Marx and Engels had only supported the idea of liberation for those nations which they saw as being able to advance the capitalist mode of production and thus the expansion of the working class. In this sense national liberation would be preparing the basis for communism. However with the continual concentration and centralisation of capital leading towards not just a world market but a world economy the character of capitalism began to change. This concentration of capital led to the formation of monopolies in various branches of the national capital and thus to becoming national standard bearers of those economies on the world market. The increasingly global operation of the law of value meant that more and more the private interests of these great concentrations coalesced increasingly with the state needs of the great capitalist powers. The world was thus entering the epoch of imperialism characterised by the division of the world among several imperialist powers. As a consequence the national liberation struggles of minor nations were transformed into struggles between rival imperialist powers in which the working class had nothing to gain and very much to lose. The period when workers could support national liberation came to a definitive close with the start of the First World War in 1914. In the epoch of crises, wars and social decomposition, all possible socialist support for one bourgeois bloc against another was a thing of the past. This realisation did not dawn on all revolutionaries at this time. Lenin, for all his ringing declarations against imperialist war, still thought that politically it was still possible for some national movements to be supported. In the anti-war movement of the Zimmerwald and Kienthal Left he was almost alone in this view. Without delving deeply into the complexities of the debates amongst revolutionary Marxists on the national question at this time, it was the arguments of the Polish Social Democrats led by Rosa Luxemburg against the possibility of progressive national wars in the period of imperialism, rather than those of Lenin (who was to see 1916 as a blow to imperialism which supported his belief that workers still ought to participate in national movements) which were to be confirmed by the experience of the Easter Rising.

Thus Connolly’s weak theoretical roots (and those of the Irish workers’ movement more generally) and his opportunist position after 1914, were to lead directly to the tragic and suicidal 1916 putsch, and the submergence of the working class in reactionary nationalist ideology.

POLITICAL FORCES AND SOCIAL CLASSES

With the outbreak of imperialist conflict in 1914 most bourgeois protagonists in the tangled and bitter ‘Irish Question’ accepted the postponement of Home Rule until the end of the war. At this time the strongest organised political force in the southern part of Ireland was the Irish Parliamentary Party led by John Redmond, embodying the interests of the internal bourgeoisie.

These political interests were mainly a Home Rule state with close economic links to Britain. To secure this end, Redmond and other members of his party functioned as recruiting sergeants for the British army, triggering a split in the Irish Volunteers (a force created in November 1913 as a counter to the Ulster Volunteers, an organisation originally formed to fight against Home Rule.) The members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), Sinn Fein and other radical nationalists in the Provisional Committee of the Volunteers split from the Redmondites, taking around 12,000 of the most active Volunteers with them. The radical nationalists in the Irish Volunteers were united on opposition to Redmond’s recruiting policy, and on a longer term, for the goal of an independent Ireland. But they were divided on tactics. The ‘moderate’ wing, including the Chief of Staff MacNeill, followed a cautious and defensive policy, and held that unless the Government should attempt to impose conscription on Ireland or the Germans should invade Ireland, developments after the war had ended would show if an armed struggle was necessary. The most ‘radical’ wing was mainly (but not exclusively) composed of IRB members. They agreed that before the war ended the independence of Ireland should be asserted in arms. But among these it is also possible to distinguish between a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ wing; the right wing solely building on the traditional Fenian maxim that “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”, and saw German help as a necessity for the rising (including Sir Roger Casement and Tom Clarke), and shared with the moderate wing (also including Sinn Fein leader Arthur Griffith) an openly hostile attitude towards the labour movement.

The left wing was less explicitly anti-labour. This section consisted of people like Ceannt, MacDonnagh and the leading ‘brain’ Patrick Pearse. The ideology to which the IRB adhered and which is mainly found in the writings of Pearse (in which, not surprisingly, the concepts of class and class interest are always absent) was typically petty-bourgeois. As was their way of organising: a secret, oathbound society, the IRB worked to take over the Irish Volunteers, and in order to plan a national rising, secretly set up its own Military Council, which only involved the very few IRB members who were also in the leadership of the Volunteers.

As James Larkin[2] left Ireland for the USA in October 1914, James Connolly became the leader of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and the Irish Citizen Army (a workers’ defensive force created after the strike breaking strong-arm methods used in the 1913 Dublin Lock Out), as well as the editor of the paper Irish Worker. At the outbreak of the war, Connolly had immediately taken the standpoint to back working class resistance against the war, e.g. he advocated industrial actions, such as a transport strike to refuse agricultural products to leave Ireland, whereby Ireland might

“… yet set the torch to a European conflagration that will not burn out until the last throne and the last capitalist bond and debenture will be shrivelled on the funeral pyre of the last war lord.” (“A Continental Revolution’, Forward August 15th 1914.)

But Connolly saw the struggle for national self-determination as the first step towards a socialist revolution some time later. Thus he thought that even if socialism was not possible for the whole of Europe convulsed in capitalist war, then at least it was still feasible for Ireland. So the two major strategic problems of the Irish working class movement (which Connolly attempted to solve were, first, should the Irish working class work with other revolutionary elements towards the radicalisation of the European (and especially the British) labour movement, or should the Irish working class align with anti-British nationalist forces in Ireland and with them attempt a blow against imperialism. When the opportunist alignment was decided upon (on the basis of Connolly’s weak internationalism), this involved the second problem, that of alliance with the non-working class anti-British forces. Since Connolly believed that the working class should lead and not just tail the national movement, and the only working class organisation that could do this was the Irish Citizen Army, the alliance with the nationalist forces came about through joint actions between the ICA and the Irish Volunteers.

Thus Connolly, as a representative of the labour movement, participated in anti-British activities with representatives from Sinn Fein, the IRB and the Irish Volunteers – publicly against the recruiting of Irishmen for the British army and secretly to establish contact with Germany. During all of 1915, the Irish Volunteers and the ICA trained their military forces. In late 1915, more and more critical of the Volunteers, the ICA openly declared that they would start an insurrection alone (having only little more than 200 armed men!) if the Volunteers would not cooperate, and thereby they hoped to force the more radical elements of the Volunteers to come out in support. The disagreement between the IRB Military Council and Connolly can only be understood if it is realised that since he (wrongly) saw the national rising and national independence as part of a social revolution, a step towards socialism, such a revolution, to be successful, would need mass support, a support which could only be gained by rallying for these ideas actively and openly. Thus Connolly, as General Secretary of the ITGWU, propagated his betrayal of workers’ political autonomy through his involvement in economic struggles, work for labour candidates in Dublin municipal elections, and at the same time attempted to ‘link’ these aspects in the struggle against ‘economic conscription’ (the attempt by employers by economic pressure to force their employees into the British army). On the other hand, the Military Council of the IRB was planning an insurrection in a typical petty-bourgeois putsch manner. It attempted to plan it secretly in order not to alienate the moderate part of the leadership of the Volunteers and in order to surprise the British administration. Obviously, this also meant lack of open rallying for the rising. As Connolly was not involved in the IRB circles, he took the lack of public propaganda to mean that the moderates had taken over the leadership of the Volunteers.

THE RISING AND ITS AFTERMATH

Worried that the ICA would ruin their plans by a premature move, IRB leaders approached Connolly, and during January 1916 he was informed of the plans for an insurrection and became a member of the Military Council. The time from late January was hence mainly used to prepare for the rising. Arrangements for a landing of cargo of arms bought in Germany were made, and the arranging and training of the Volunteer troops all over the country were speeded up.

The actual incidents leading to the failure of the landing of the arms at the coast of Kerry, the failure to keep the planned rising a secret to the moderate leaders, and hence MacNeill’s last moment decision to cancel the parades on Easter Sunday that were to result in a nation-wide insurrection, and the hectic hours in the Military Council to rearrange the plans into a rising on Easter Monday April 24th, have been told many times. One of the consequences was that only just over 1,000 Volunteers and 220 of the ICA took part in the rising. They occupied strategic points in Dublin with the headquarters in the General Post Office in the centre of Dublin, where also the Irish Republic was proclaimed. Although a few hundred more joined the rebels and uncoordinated risings occurred in a few counties, British troops outnumbered the rebels many times over. After nearly a week of street fighting, the rebels surrendered due to the shelling of their headquarters from an English gunboat placed on the River Liffey. While the proclamation of the Republic was phrased according to the petty-bourgeois mystical goals of the Volunteers, the ICA still seemed aware of their professed wider objectives. Connolly had addressed the ICA a week before the rising with the following naïve words: “In the event of victory, hold on to your rifles, as those with whom we are fighting may stop before our goal is reached. We are out for economic as well as for political liberty.”

Although workers’ opinion in southern Ireland had generally been hostile towards the nationalist rebellion, the ferocity with which British troops dealt with the insurgents followed by the imposition of martial law, helped to sway their opinion. Especially the executions of 15 of the leaders (in particular the seriously wounded Connolly, who was shot strapped in a chair), but also the internment in English camps of about 2,000 people, of which only 170 were convicted and sent to prison, changed the attitude of many, and led to a tremendous boost for militant Republicanism.

Around this time the British army had many of their men slaughtered in the war, and among the dead were many Irish. Also the threat of conscription in Ireland was increased when in December a Conscription Bill was introduced in Britain. The value of wages and also of war allowances was undermined by price rises, and the stoppage of emigration to the USA, and fear of being conscripted if one worked in England, furthered social discontent which was successfully channelled into a reactionary nationalist void.

The working class, disoriented and weakened, had lost its main leader and theorist, Connolly, along with many other ICA members in the rising. The Irish labour movement eclipsed by nationalism was now led by men, such as Thomas Johnson and William O’Brien, who were self-claimed disciples of Connolly’s teaching: socialism in the syndicalist-inspired comprehension meant the building up of an industrial union, “… and when we find that we control the strategic industries in society, then society must bend to our will – or break.” (Connolly: Socialism Made Easy, 1899), and hence only saw a reformist party taking part in parliamentary elections as a secondary tool in this struggle. Although the ICA continued to exist until 1922, it was merely an appendage of the left wing of the Volunteers, devoid of any genuine socialist content.

Thus when after the end of the First World War the Irish workers took up the class struggle in earnest during the 1919-21 Republican War of Independence, their efforts (like those of the Belfast workers in 1919) were rapidly smothered by the nationalist bourgeoisie. Workers in town and country and poor farmers who took on Irish capitalists and landowners soon found themselves in front of the new courts instituted by the Dáil. And in 1919 the IRA (the Irish Volunteers of 1916 had changed their name in August 1919) brought an end to the strike and expropriation movements of Cork and Limerick workers, with the open complicity of the trade unions and the Catholic hierarchy. The working class had its own symbolism and adopted the name “soviet” in many of the post-war struggles across Ireland at this time but they were a far cry from the actual soviet movement which had destroyed the Russian Empire in 1917. Under the sway of union leaders like Connolly’s successor, O’Brien, they were constantly sabotaged and told to abandon social experiment in return for minor gains.

CONCLUSIONS

Connolly and the ICA went “out to be slaughtered” (his own words) on Easter Monday 1916 under the suicidal illusion that once the ICA had become the driving force in the Republican movement this would mean that the working class, especially through industrial actions (which never materialised), would come out in spontaneous support or at least that when the working class had taken the lead in the national struggle they would be able to lead it, in the end, into a struggle for socialism. The actual effect of the 1916 Easter Rising was the exact opposite. It gave substantial impetus to the Republican and nationalist movement which had been relatively weak among working class expressions beforehand. Thus the rising was no romantic ‘do-or-die’ act of heroism, but an inglorious brutal defeat and surrender of workers’ independence from which the movement in Ireland never recovered.

Not only was the experience of the proletarian revolutionary wave of 1917-1923 and its defeat to clarify to communists Connolly’s confusions and errors on the socialist project but also confirmed that the lesson of events like 1916 is not to compromise with any faction of the bourgeoisie in the imperialist epoch, no matter what the apparent objective situation might suggest. In Ireland today this means no compromises with any brand of nationalism whether it be Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, or Sinn Fein, who all present themselves as “The Inheritors of 1916”. Today in a globalised world economy the working class has faced a century of retreat since the First World War and the revolutionary wave which followed it. But the contradictions of the capitalist economy never go away and neither does the class struggle. The rise of a new working class is taking place globally and it will not accept the crisis-ridden system for ever but once a generalised class offensive does begin revolutionaries have to part of it and to point out the errors of the past like 1916 as well as the programme for the future. This is not a programme that has simply been handed down, like the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai, but is based on the material experience of the working class throughout its history.

With this episode history tells us that nationalism in all its forms, and wherever it is found, is against the working class. Today the reactionary nature of the nationalism we see around the world, but particularly in Eastern Europe (on all sides in the Ukraine conflict, for example), is obvious to many. Less so the supposedly progressive nationalism of the smaller nations, like Scotland and Catalonia, and even Kurdistan. Here, under the pressure of the economic crisis, many of the self-proclaimed left argue, just like Connolly that political independence from the larger state will be a step on the road to socialism. The events of 1916 demonstrate otherwise. National consciousness, the natural consciousness of the property-owners in any state, is for the capitalists. It is the antithesis of class consciousness, and without the latter, the fight for socialism is a dead letter. In a globalised capitalist world dominated by imperialism the notion of “independence” is an illusion. Every ‘nation state’ exists as part of a capitalist world economy where the necessity to generate profits and fall in with the demands of the world market ensures that ‘the nation’ is a class-divided society. In every national territory the struggle of the working class against exploitation by the capitalist class is the same everywhere. In war and in peace our enemy is not the working class of another place, but the exploiters at home. Those who put nation before class obscure this vital truth and side with our class enemy. As Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto “Workers have no country” but we do “have a world to win”.

CWO

March 22 2016

[1] Before his execution he not only took the last rites from a Catholic priest but begged his Protestant wife to convert to Catholicism and bring up their children as Catholics. Like his fellow-conspirator Patrick Pearse he was not shy in talking the language of religious martyrdom. The consequences of this have been summed up by Liam Cahill in “The Forgotten Revolution: The Limerick Soviet 1919”.

“Connolly, in effect, played the Green Card. He opted for a Labour movement that appealed essentially to Southerners and Catholics. This might be justified on the basis that the majority of Irish people were Catholics and the Catholic working-class may have appeared to be more promising material for social revolution than their Protestant counterparts. But Connolly's decision finally excluded the possibility of a united, political movement of all Irish workers. It meant the equation, and ultimate subordination, of Southern Irish Labour to Irish nationalism.”

[2] James Larkin, also a syndicalist like Connolly, arrived in Belfast to organise the dockworkers and carters union in January 1907. Within three months it had 4500 members and when the employers sacked men for belonging to the union the workers struck. The strike was unique in that it was one of the few episodes in the history of Northern Ireland where workers on both sides of the political/religious divide fought together. So much so that they were condemned by the Ulster unionist bosses, and the leader of Sinn Fein, Arthur Griffiths! Class before nation indeed. However the defeat of the strike led to the bosses once again playing the religious card and when Connolly took over as union leader from Larkin he complained that he could only work within the Catholic areas. Larkin went to Dublin to form a new transport workers union which led in 1913 to the great Dublin Lockout. The defeat of this movement led Larkin to go to the United States to raise money to rebuild the union. In the USA he supported the Socialist Party and the IWW and announced his support for the Bolshevik revolution but was arrested in the post-war “Red Scare”. After a couple of years in gaol he was released to return to Ireland in 1923. Here he founded the Irish Workers’ League which soon superseded the Irish Communist Party to become the Comintern’s branch in Ireland. It had little success in the new Free State.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Comments

Before the notes, the final paragraph of the article is of great interest and importance in stating the the key view of the ICT, if I'm correct on that. The preceding paragraphs obviously contain plenty of details known to those well familiar with the history of Ireland's people and I won't comment on those, but continue to be unsure of the key view, which seems to need to be looked at not only by those dedicated and fully even unquestioningly convinced of them, but by all workers who look at the website.

Certainly, so far, nations have been the domains of the rule of capitalists that gained power. On the other hand, class struggle doesn't take place in a sort of internationalist thin air devoid of localities, local languages and local knowledge, likewise, nor could a revolutionary workers' controlled area do so. Could the world's whole proletariat all and each have an equal say in what is to be done in any one locality ? Do all members of the working class in a locality have an equal right, even abilities, to be in equal entitlement to roles of responsibility and, let's be honest, leadership of what is to be done? As and when capitalism gets overthrown in a locality, as part of a world-wide revolutionary situation maybe, and/or necessarily, then why could workers in it not choose to have their own non-capitalist nation, co-operating with other such nations fraternally ? Personally I don't intend to stop being English, and see no proletarian reason why workers anywhere else should have regard themselves as depatriated, because the whole history of nationhood need be no bar to the future. So no, this is not intended as a defence of any sort of Stalinist so-called 'workers states' as presently exist in the imperialist world in 2016, but a rejection of what apparently a worker in or of China once called for, 'anonymous human cells in the living church of communism'. If the ICT is ever going to 'gain ground' in the minds of workers world-wide, then please consider all this. Maybe I shall be told that ICT already has !

T34 The basic message of the document is that nationalism is a bourgeois ideology which attempts to divide the working class. It has been very successful for them for the best part of 200 years. We will not defeat capitalism by acquiescing in its mystifications but only by fighting them. All the great epsiodes of class struggle have come about when workers have shaken of bourgeois ideology and combined together irrespective of national, religious or racial origins. It would be a cowardly capitulation for any communist organisation if it did not base its work on the premise of interntionalism. The Second International died as a proletarian body in 1914 primarily because it was never an international in the real sense of the word but a series of national parties who came together for a meaningless chat once a year. It was full of racists, imperialists and white supremacists who were not booted out but in fact often occupied leading positions whilst revolutionaries were increasingly seen as the lunatic fringe. Your position seesm to be the same as the Second International before 1914; The same can be seen in modern Labour politicians when they talk of the "good of the country" (i.e the good of the capitalists). This then paves the way for their reformist and increasingly anti-working class agenda. For revolutionaries its their nation v our class and there is no escaping that battle.

In WW2 it was our nation v their blitz, whatever else was in history and politics. What is the latest stage of development and support of the CWO in the UK, and of the ICT worldwide ?

"Our nation v their blitz". And in Hamburg and Dresden they no doubt said the same - on that level we can go on exchanging idiocies for ever. The important point to recognise is that we do not support any imperialist power in any conflict and least of all the one we live under.

But you do live under it, that's a fact. Whilst you persistently explain the background and details of your policies, to what extent, if at all, have you given sufficient consideration to the short-term, medium term and long-term consequences of their being widely adopted throughout the working class ? Already it can be argued that by workers everywhere adopting them, then, in the long-term, wars would presumably be abolished. However, we all live in the short-term, with aspirations as far as medium and longer terms. If today a majority of workers abandoned all support for means of military defence and police forces, what would ensue ? Just peace ? Please think about this as for our short-term. Would terrorism and potential military threats just evaporate ? Talk of revolution assumes that it would be a confrontation between workers disposed to it and all those not yet in agreement with it, plus, of course, capitalists. Shooting police and soldiers, mostly if not all recruited from proletarian backgrounds, would swing more workers' families against the revolution. The example of a family-owned furniture shop being burnt down by rioters in South London, not so long ago, shows how such acts set workers against revolutionary steps, no matter how great a justification might have seemed at the time. If you want to continue with explanations, please explain how, in the absence of any current mass support of CWO and its ICT, the short-term and medium-term futures of workers here and world-wide seems to you as likely to be.

As always you massively miss the point. There is no short term answer. Your "solution" is to go along with the existing reactionary consciousness. Ours is to stand against the stream - if nobody does this that a wider movement will never happen. There is wider understanding of the nature of imperialism now than before but it has not yet an organisational form. All we can do is work towards it however long it takes. We are talking about fighting for a future for humanity which may not necessarily get a response in our lifetimes.

If you read my latest comment again, you will see that I did not offer any "solution", but put some questions to you as to what you consider to be essential doctrine. In fact I do question all sorts of contemporary 'consciousness', your sort being no exception. Despite some years of reading and thinking about ICT ideas, I am not convinced that a conglomeration of workers' councils could run an economy, which humanity needs to survive. Today we could all demand that the government, largely run by capitalists, should take Port Talbot, Redcar and other steel works into full state ownership, so that they can be run by and in the interests of workers in them and of the wider community. Such demands need a big and widely heard voice, for which only the unions have sufficient funding to get sufficiently into the media. The original article was on Ireland !

I know you never offer any solution but it would be unkind of me to point it out! And if you switch the discussion on to the collapse of British steel don't then say the argument has been diverted. You are the one doing it. But once again you do suggest a social democratic and national (or nationalised) "solution" (which is naturally more utopian than working for a communist future) even on this issue. And a "conglomeration" of workers' councils would not run the economy of the planet but they would be part of pyrimidal structure which from the bottom up would culminate in some (recallable) global council to direct resources and save the planet. But such a body can only function for the entire earth's population once class antagonism has been removed.

Well, now we know. You intend that there will be a pyramidal structure, culminating in a global council, directing resources, functioning for the entire earth's population. That is, once class antagonism has been removed. Some removal ! As for anyone being utopian, if the cap fits, wear it. We need workable answers to real problems, using what is currently available or likely to be made so in the near future. Amongst the many factors that compound workers' problems are diversionary confusionist utopian ideologies, capitalist greed, mass immigration, multiculturalism and heavy metal. So there ! Then there is the daily grind of personal and domestic maintenance, whilst trying to remain sane yet thinking about what is going on here and abroad. I reckon less time on theories would be less daunting. Goodbye.

I agree with Cleishbotham's arguments.

Essentially there are no better times ahead under capitalism. The class struggle will not stop and there may be small temporary victories for this or that struggle but this will only occur within a general framework of erosion of working class conditions.

As communists our concern is for the global working class which has no hope of ameliorating its situation under capitalism.

We are not blind to the abuse and suffering of the present, nor do we dismiss the attempts to resist them as they occur, but we recognise this is no solution to the inevitable trajectory of decline for the working class under capitalism and our response is not to condemn struggles but to point out their origin in the capitalist mode of production and the need to fight for a different social formation or face mounting abuse and attacks.

To turn away from revolutionary theory, from class consciousness, would be to absolutely ensure capitalist crisis carries on to the bitter end. Whatever the response, it is absolutely correct to fight here and now for the formation of a proletarian revolutionary organisation to propagate the revolutionary perspective. This is our priority.

In my perspective, the slogan SOCIALISM OR BARBARISM is looking increasingly optimistic. Socialism or DOOM is more likely.

Thank you Stevein7. As for doom being more likely, as you put it, that seem to follow from the latest news re the developments of all sorts of modifications of nuclear and other types of weapons. Every business needs immediate and/or future orders for its products, or it would go bust, and the situation is worsened by overproduction. These factors are very relevant to the massive arms industries, which profit from existing military conflicts, and have an interest that there should be more of them in the not too distant future. The problem has become global, threatening the whole of humanity, not only it's ninety percent proletariat. A nuclear war would destroy all scope for profits. That being so, what can be done to prevent it ? Certainly as long as imperialism exists it will generate wars, but getting rid of it seems likely to take too long, if relying entirely and only on world revolution. So are there any other practical and possible options, even if only of an interim nature? Trying to out-gun and/or outbomb imperialism's weapons bases and forces, when its technical means of surveillance is so sophisticated, seems likely to just be suicidal. On the other hand, challenges to its financial system might just be possible and more likely to succeed. That would reflect the long-term aim of many marxists to run the world economy without usng money anyway. I don't know how what I've guessed could be done, and I'm no Einstein anyway, but hope that this comment is acceptable and of use to our class. Of course it would be difficult to remove capital's arms industries' prospects for profits without abandoning workers' still continuing need for pay. But let's think on !

[quote=stevein7] As communists our concern is for the global working class which has no hope of ameliorating its situation under capitalism.

We are not blind to the abuse and suffering of the present, nor do we dismiss the attempts to resist them as they occur, but we recognise this is no solution to the inevitable trajectory of decline for the working class under capitalism and our response is not to condemn struggles but to point out their origin in the capitalist mode of production and the need to fight for a different social formation or face mounting abuse and attacks.

To turn away from revolutionary theory, from class consciousness, would be to absolutely ensure capitalist crisis carries on to the bitter end. Whatever the response, it is absolutely correct to fight here and now for the formation of a proletarian revolutionary organisation to propagate the revolutionary perspective. This is our priority.

In my perspective, the slogan SOCIALISM OR BARBARISM is looking increasingly optimistic. Socialism or DOOM is more likely. [/quote]

Thank you so much stevein7 you have expressed extremely well what I also think about our situation today.

  • reply