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From Protest to Resistance

A number of theories are presented at present on why Fermanagh was chosen for the G8 summit. The first is that our rulers want to avoid the irritation of sizable protests. Another theory is that the choice is symbolic of imperialist arrogance. By holding the summit in a colony, they momentarily base their headquarters in an area previously threatened by anti-imperialist republicans, with the former leaders of that movement bowing and scraping in the hope of greater imperialist investment and the gombeen southern state mobilizing in their defence. Yet the minor choice of venue mirrors the main agenda. The imperialists are triumphant, they have little to fear from the protests, yet still their world is filled with instability, every meeting a crisis, every policy a sticking plaster to the next crisis. The shiny trophy of the Irish settlement has to be shored up with a visit to repair the gaps shown by the Flag protests and the growing triumphalism of the local unionists. 

The absence of genuine political leadership remains a major problem. The religious, charities and NGOs call on the blood-drenched leaders of imperialism to feed the world while food banks open up in every European city. Social democratic and trade union leaders maintain their ‘Better, Fairer Way’ approach as a smokescreen around collaboration. The capitalists themselves leave no doubt that recovery means a return to profitability and this means crushing working class resistance to their plans and driving down the average wage rate. 

For union leaders, seeking to extend the decades of class collaboration with imperialism, the question is posed; at what cost to the working class will this be achieved? The IMF warned in early June that global growth may be about to hit a “softer patch” and that “some glimpses of more sombre trends” were being observed. For those pedalling the lie that we have ridden out the worst of the storm this is yet further evidence of the depth of the crisis and the fact that working people’s wages and living conditions, once lowered, will remain low. 

While the European trade union leadership passively watch the suffering of the Greek workers the IMF pours cold water on Samaras’ assertion that Greece is now a “success story” by coolly asserting “more needs to be done”. By this they mean that the axe must be taken again to public sector jobs, warning that France “must lower labour costs, … to get back to growth and bolster competitiveness.” Changes that have already taken place in France are described as “a first step in a long process”. With a central demand being that the “cost of hiring young workers” must be lowered. This is a process that will ruin the lives of young French workers. 

In crisis ridden Europe the political temperature between Right and Left is rising. In Paris a young anti-Fascist is murdered, Greek Fascists are rampant. In Spain they demand the destruction of an International Brigades monument and Erdogan’s supporters bay for the blood of the protesters in Taksim square. World capitalism puts its strength on display in Fermanagh as the storm troopers of the far Right are rising, but what are our leadership doing to fight back? When the loyalist right mobilise in the North they hide under their beds! 

Vague promises of an organised fight back have led to ever-greater sell-outs. The spontaneous eruptions of anger across Europe are heroic, but protest is not enough. The theory that protest alone can change or ‘by-pass’ the system is based on a naive belief that by petitioning these leaders we can get them, to change course. When this fails another protest with the same objective is called. There needs to be an alternative to simply reapplying the same strategy.  Concerted strikes have failed to wrest power from the Greek ruling class posing the question of building a political organisation a revolutionary party capable of that task. 

To find a solution we must go beyond protesting and pleading for a change of course. Our leaders have an agenda that is driven by a historic capitalist crisis, the solution of which requires a return of profitability and the corollary of this is the crushing of working class resistance. Begging for mercy is no substitute for fighting back. 

Marx’s words in the Communist Manifesto are once again proving their worth: 

“Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.” 
The bourgeoisie’s leadership, single-mindedly and determinedly, are meeting in Fermanagh to decide how the world should be divided between them. Our leadership refuses to fight to defend us. 

Faced with this dilemma the radical movement has fractured. Some say we can ignore Labour and the trade unions, simply a left wing way of leaving them in charge. Others say that we should line up behind left union bureaucrats, ignoring their long history of accommodation with the right. Others, in despair, simply manoeuvre to gather members and Dail seats for their own sects. 

Yet the history of the socialist movement tells us how to proceed. 

We need to start by being an opposition. We do not lobby for a better G8 – we call for them to leave Ireland. We do not oppose imperialist policy abroad and support it at home – we oppose the Irish bank bailout, the rule of the Troika, ECB and IMF and the partition of Ireland and consequent division of the Irish working class. 

We have an alternative – the socialist society – and a stepwise road to reach there by calling on the workers to step in where capitalism fails. 

We call for the self-organisation of the workers so that they are not handcuffed to existing, traditional organisations. 

We organise from above and below – If Union leaders say they oppose imperialism, we make demands for action and organise separately to make opposition a reality. 

Finally we call for global action, not of the do-gooders, not of the well meaning, not of the anti-capitalists, but of the working class, facing up to austerity, repression and the danger of fascist mobilisation in Europe and across the globe.


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