A new Democratic Programme?
23 February 2019
Since the 19 January meeting on the centenary of the first Dail’s Democratic Programme, there have been suggestions that it can be implemented. In particular, the call for the Republic to ‘make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well being of the children’ is inspiring a number of presentations, as if no such provision had been attempted.
In fact such provision was one taken most seriously by governments of Saorstat and Republic. However, their responses to it reveal the folly of trying to execute a directive that can be interpreted in several ways. Quite simply, the regime declared sincerely that it had to postpone more than a minimalist provision for the children’s physical well being until such time as it had established a flourishing economy; to give away too much would imperil the well being of future generations. As they sought to establish prosperity through capitalist means, physical well being remained minimal. On the other hand, in compensation, Ireland’s rulers concentrated much attention on mental and, particularly, physical matters. Compulsory education was introduced and, to enforce spirituality, it remained in clerical hands apart from the introduction of vocational education, badly neede by the economy. The spirituality obsession can be seen, too, in the Commission on Evil Literature (sic: including a future Labour Party leader) which produced the notorious censorship of books.
As a progressive document, then the so-called Democratic Programme was a scrap of paper (in fact two scraps of A4). Ireland does not need a new programme, but rather, a proper socialist programme for a workers’ republic.