Report: Bad news from Euskadi – bad news from Ireland
20 November 2007
Thursday 24th October saw a meeting of 30+ in Belfast’s Culturlann centre organised by the International Left Solidarity committee, an organisation associated with the Irish Republican Socialist Party. The meeting was of interest both for the light it threw on the situation in the Basque country and also for the light it shone on the attempts by the IRSP to sponsor a process of republican regroupment.
A detailed political analysis of the situation in the Basque country was provided by Ibon Artola (Editor of Euskal Herria Sozialista). He gave a detailed analysis of the history of the Basque struggle and an account of the present divisions between the armed group ETA and a left nationalist formation anxious to seek political negotiation with the government. This division had reached crisis point with a bomb attack by ETA and a declaration by the left nationalists that there was no place for bombs in the peace process.
In a refreshing twist the speaker proposed a solution to the division – adherence to the programme of Lenin and Trotsky and the building of mass and class action. The weakness of his position seemed to be that he thought that this solution was available through a resolving of the contradictions in the nationalist movement. The history of the Irish movement suggests that this is not the case. Both militarist and ‘political’ nationalists, united in Ireland, divided in the Basque country, long ago rejected class action in favour of elitism. Their separation in the Basque country shows that neither represents a way forward and helps dispel Irish myths of an incorruptible militarism that could save the day.
The other aspect of the meeting of interest was the extent to which it indicated that a republican regroupment could be achieved. There were some positive indications. The meeting was somewhat sizable by current standards and had a substantial current of young people present. Other aspects were not so encouraging. The majority of questions concerned the views of Basque prisoners. This seems to indicate the continuance of a republican mode of thinking, where the views of leading figures are important, rather than a socialist focus on the views of the workers and activists.
Most significant was Gerry Ruddy’s analysis of the Irish peace process, in which he saw the Provos as mishandling the negotiations with the British. This seems to indicate the continuation of the republican analysis. In this analysis the Provos behaved absolutely correctly in following up armed action by negotiation. From a socialist perspective the armed action was bound to fail and therefore the British would always write the agenda when they got to the table.
Perhaps the most immediate lesson for local
activists was Ibon’s description of the role of the 100% Euskadi police
force. They had become better known for their brutality against activists
and workers than their predecessors!