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Tasks for the resistance:

Call for the defeat of US, British occupation!
Target the Warmongers at home!

The opposition to the visit of US President Bush to Ireland is dominated by one picture – that is the picture of the 100,000 strong demonstration in Dublin on the eve of the attack on Iraq.  If we play our cards right, runs the argument, we can create the mass demonstrations of yesteryear – surely this time the imperialist leaders will have to listen to the peoples revolution?

The task that faces those who seriously want to construct a resistance to imperialist aggression is more complex than this.  

Firstly, the task is not a re-creation of the spontaneous mass demonstrations of 2003.  The lesson of these demonstrations, for the working people who came out, is that on their own they didn’t work.  The war went ahead and most working people will tend to avoid a strategy that they know does not work.  Secondly, occupation and resistance have succeeded the war.  A new movement against the occupation will therefore have to be more politically explicit, calling for the defeat of the occupying forces, the building of international solidarity that supports unconditionally the right of the Iraqi people to resist, but offering no political support to the idea of an Islamic resistance to imperialism that owes more to feudalism than to democracy. Any movement will have to utterly reject the presentation of the UN as an alternative mechanism for occupation.  This policy, supported by many of the organisations that describe themselves as anti-war, is now the policy of George Bush, and a major plank in legitimising the occupation.  

The movement has to set its goal as radicalising an opposition to the supporters of imperialism at home – that is, Bertie Ahern and company.  We can see how much work is needed to create an anti-imperialist resistance, given how far most people are from these ideas.

There has already been an anti-war movement, and its evolution tells us a lot about what we have to do.  The Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) was, and continues to be, based on adapting to the current level of political understanding within the working class.  Subsequently its activity involves bringing together an alliance so wide that only the palest and most dilute pacifism, tinged with a reek of hypocrisy, holds the alliance together.  The anti-war credentials of the trade union leadership are accepted without question.  Indeed, they are promoted as leaders of the anti-war movement even though they refuse to act against the Irish war effort and back ‘our boys’ – that is, the British army, in Iraq and in the North.  Also, Sinn Fein are given pride of place in the anti-war demonstrations even when their representatives step inside to give photo opportunities to the warmongers Bush and Blair!

These sorts of contradictions are only possible because the campaign has lacked genuine democratic structures and has bred a culture of unaccountability where no one takes responsibility for political twists and turns.  While there has been strong opposition in the Irish anti-war movement to the practice of endlessly diluting the message of the movement to retain support, the debate has been about tactics rather than politics and has led to a split in the movement.  Anti-War Ireland has elevated to principle the tactics of direct action.  A few activists, they appear to believe, can stop the use of Shannon airport by the US military.  However, such a strategy bypasses the essential task of convincing the Irish working class as a whole, or of challenging the corrupt leadership of the labour movement who in practice support the war.

With moralising in place of political debate it is hardly surprising that we now have two Irish anti-war movements, neither of which appears to have learnt anything from experience.  Avoiding political debate doesn’t build a strong movement or even keep it together.  The one thing that is assured is that there is no political progress.  Neither of the anti-war groups has learnt from these mistakes. 

Despite these weaknesses, there is still a strong anti-war sentiment in Ireland and across the globe.  The task now is to build an anti-imperialist, anti-occupation movement, which can begin to threaten the supporters of imperialism at home in Ireland.       


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