03/02/2021 by socialistfight
A Measure of Equality
But that was the very reason for the strike, they feared the “Catholics”, in fact all the political opponents of British Imperialist occupation of the six north eastern counties of Ireland, would gain a measure of equality, they would be forced to stop discriminating against them and within their own ranks “Rotten Prods” would emerge to show solidarity with the nationalists and anti-imperialists, as they did in the late teens and early 1920s. This labour aristocracy was not going to yield its privileges to anyone because they knew that covertly the entire British establishment supported them, including the trade union bureaucracy and the Labour party, whose left flank was guarded so assiduously here by the pro-Imperialist Militant Tendency of Ted Grant. The strike was to stop the possibility of the nationalist community gaining that limited measure of equality and its success guaranteed just that for another generation at least. The power of the working class was exercised to prevent workers unity and the Socialist party, whilst advocating unity, believes it can only be on the basis of the support for the British Empire. They are THE most pro-Imperialist sect on the left.
Irish Marxists – gathered around the Militant Irish Monthly – are the only tendency in the Irish labour movement, on the basis of a Marxist programme and perspective, capable of furthering the process of re-arming the Northern Ireland workers on class lines. xvi
This is a complete lie. This utterly shameful article, still proudly displayed in the archives of the SP/CWI, displays this as a political current prepared to go to all lengths to defends the interests of British and global Imperialism, and covering this up with a thin veneer of leftist pseudo-Marxist gobbledegook.
But that was 1974 what about today? The politics are the same, as Socialist Fight No 12 pointed out:
In an article on 16 January 2013, Northern Ireland: Flag issue turmoil illustrates failure of the ‘peace process’ Ciaran Mulholland, CWI Northern Ireland, (the Socialist Party) gives us this on the riots:
Whilst the total numbers involved are relatively small there is no doubt that the issue has acted as a lightning rod for widespread dissatisfaction with the peace process which has built up over time in the Protestant community. There is real and genuine anger among large layers of Protestants. There is a sense that “everything is going in one direction”, that is, Protestants are losing out to Catholics. In the view of many Sinn Fein are pushing too hard for concessions-as Progressive Unionist Party (the PUP is linked to the UVF) leader Billy Hutchinson has argued “Sinn Fein are acting outside the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement”. This is the reason that the PUP have given for reversing their previous conciliatory approach on the flags issue. A banner displayed in the Mount Vernon, where Hutchison works as a community worker, proclaims “North Belfast Against Cultural Apartheid”.
What ‘the Protestants’ and ‘the Catholics’ believe
The stuff that “the Protestants” believe is completely false however as the article goes on to explain. They are blaming “the Catholics” who are sufferings a great deal more than themselves.
At the same time many Catholics continue to believe that they are subject to sectarian discrimination. They hold that they are dealt with more harshly by the police. They believe that they are more likely to be poor and unemployed than Protestants for historic reasons, reasons of geography and because of the residues of sectarian discrimination, there are still differences between the two communities in economic terms. The poverty rate among Protestants at 19 per cent is lower than the 26 per cent rate for Catholics. In the three years to 2010 on average, 28 per cent of working-age Protestants were not in paid work compared with 35 per cent of Catholics.
So the stuff that “the Catholics believe” is, in fact, true. But nonetheless we must be careful to avoid drawing any conclusion about whose beliefs are correct and whose are far-right reaction:
The views expressed in each community are sometimes true, or partially true. Sometimes however genuinely held beliefs are simply not true. The reason that such a complex situation can arise is that there are genuine interwoven grievances on both sides. The real problem is that the peace process has failed to deliver for working class or young people whatever their background. The peace process has failed because under capitalism genuine peace, and real economic advancement for working people, is not possible. Under the structures established by the Good Friday Agreement it is assumed that everyone belongs to one or other of two mutually exclusive communities. Under capitalism all that is possible is a sharing out of political power, and a sharing out of poverty and unemployment… Whilst all sections of the protestant community have been affected by the flag issue it finds its sharpest expression in the most deprived working class areas. The rioting and the road blocks are in part a distorted form of class anger directed at the unionist political establishment represented in the assembly and on the executive.
But the problems predate the GFA and indeed the Orange state itself from 1921, although both made a bad situation much worse. It is a complete lie that the ‘two communities’ are equally to blame. In the medieval church that type of argument as it is made above was known as equivocation.xvii And “class anger” my arse. Was it class anger that drove some backward German workers to don Brownshirts and attack Jews? Leon Trotsky said they were the “storm troopers of finance capital” and that is what we are seeing emerging in Belfast. Of course it is a lie that Loyalist anger is directed primarily at the UUP/DUP and the police. However some rioters justified attacking the police because it had too many Catholics (by February 2011, 29.7% of the 7, 200 officers were from the Catholic community). But anger is only directed against all these because they seen as slacking somewhat in their traditional job of discriminating against ‘the Catholics’.
In a 1999 review of Loyalists, by Peter Taylor Socialism Today told us that the PUP “initially moved in a socialist direction”. The Socialist party described the neo-fascist uprising that was the Ulster Workers’ Council strike of May 1974 was displaying “the latent power of the working class” in the “interests of the majority of the Protestant population” as they saw it; right or wrong we must respect this prejudice!
In October 1974 current PUP leader Billy Hutchinson, murdered Catholics Michael Loughran and Edward Morgan in Northumberland Street, Belfast (which links the Protestant Shankill to the neighbouring Falls Road, a Catholic area). Hutchinson has often stressed the importance of the working class nature of Loyalism and has argued in favour of socialism, he is an atheist and has never been a member of the Orange Order. The SP have always pandered to this neo-Strasserite xviii Loyalist ‘socialism’ – which opposes the rights of the nationalist community – a “socialism of idiots”, as SPD leader August Bebel famously described it c. 1890.
The CWI and IMT: Right Centrist Heirs Of Ted Grant
The Committee for a Workers International (CWI, of which the British section is the Socialist Party of England and Wales, SPEW) is a right centrist group of Trotskyist origins. The same is true of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), of which the British section is Socialist Appeal (SA), which shares a common political heritage with the CWI in the person of Ted Grant, who developed the theoretical and political perspectives of both international groups from the late 1940s.
Grant’s basic political error is a failure to understand the state, either the capitalist state or the former degenerate workers’ state of the USSR or the various deformed workers’ states of Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia/Kampuchea and Cuba as they emerged after WWII. Ted Grant characterised a whole swath of left bourgeois nationalist regimes as deformed workers’ states…
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