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Eirigiís Easter Promise?

A personal reflection by D.R.O'Connor Lysaght.

4 April 2013

Eirigi's Dublin Easter Commemoration was impressive. Despite a last blast of the coldest recorded March weather, at least a hundred of all ages, more than on the previous years, came to parade and listen to the orations.

But what message went forth? By now, this writer has enough experience to distinguish the cover of the rhetoric from the core meaning. Here he came away having seen a movement groping its path in a generally progressive direction. Brian Leeson's keynote presentation was a significant advance on that which he presented at Eirigi's conference eighteen months ago. It was a blistering attack on capitalism from the standpoint of that mysterious force "Socialist Republicanism". Such rhetoric has been used in the past all too often to cover the abandonment of the revolutionary core of Republicanism with the verbiage of social concern (It was a technique of Official Sinn Fein before it proclaimed itself the Workers' Party.) Leeson's speech was different; if it emphasised the economic crisis, as was particularly proper in Dublin, it did not ignore the British occupation. It made especial mention of Stephen Murney and his arrest for "possession of photographs likely to aid acts of terrorism" (Does anyone not have such photos?) The reading was Connolly's "To the Citizen Army".

To mention this last is to mention a major weakness in the ceremony. To make the Citizen Army a major focus is formally a revolutionary gesture. As a guide to immediate action over the next year, it is a diversion. It was the workers' resistance to the bosses that created the ICA, not vice versa. A Citizen Army now would threaten to degenerate into another INLA or an IPLO, a waste of good militant cadres in militarist adventures.

The trouble is that the Army was presented as the only concrete guide to the way to guide the struggle from here to victory. This tends to devalue the actual work being done by Eirigi militants on the ground in Shell To Sea, the Turfcutters' campaign and against the new taxes. More generally, it evades the main problem facing those fighting capitalism, that system's co-option of the official leaders of the major official working class organisations, unions and Labour Party alike into the work of mending the very system the natural operation of which has been and is ruining their followers. This was a tendency recognised by Connolly after 1913, though he saw it mainly as a problem of the long established British unions. Today, it is possible to recognise it as a general problem infecting the bureaucrats and placemen of all workers' movements. Armed struggle alone will not cure it. Mass struggle from bases within the unions will. This may not be as dangerous as armed struggle, nor as charismatic. Certainly, it will be more difficult. Nonetheless, it will be through an organised hegemonic political force mobilising the exploited and oppressed to resist the oppression of the bosses and their bought political lackies up to and including strike action that the way will be cleared for the underdogs to take state power for themselves. 

This truth was not mentioned on Easter Sunday this year, yet nor was any alternative presented. Eirigi remains in a state of political "chassis".  Overall, however, it is moving slowly in a positive direction.

The writer went away more hopeful than he came.     


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