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The empire strikes back

Stalinism solves Brexit by returning Ireland to colonial status

21 September 2019

Many in the British left were outraged by an article in the Morning Star from Irish "Peoples party" member Kevin McCorry when he offered fulsome support to Britain's "democratic" Brexit strategy and suggested that the solution to the backstop was for Ireland to leave with Britain.

The article is utterly dishonest. According to McCorry, the backstop is an artificially created obstacle. Continued EU membership is not necessary to maintain the cooperation that the GFA provides for.

Straightaway he contradicts himself. Even though the backstop is an "artificial" obstacle the main way around it for Ireland to leave the EU alongside Britain. McCorry claims that both states must honour their commitments under the GFA when Britain has been openly flouting those commitments since long before the collapse of the Stormont administration in the North.

Centuries of oppression by the British slate, their continued presence in Ireland are to be set aside. The real enemy is Franco- German military cooperation.

McCorry is a scoundrel. Since the early days of the Irish Civil Rights movement he has acted as a mouthpiece for the most reactionary voices in and around the Communist Party of Ireland. It was he who trumpeted the "Burntollet slander" -  the claim that it was provocation by the student demonstrators of People's Democracy that led to the Troubles rather than the violence of loyalism and the state forces.  (a claim repeated recently in his article in ‘A Festschrift for Anthony Coughlan: Essays on Sovereignty and Democracy’)

Fiftyyears on he spent the anniversary year of the Troubles repeating that slander. He now speaks for the Peoples Party - a popular front between the CP and some of the most reactionary forces in Irish society in opposition to Europe.

No-one in Britain will be too interested in the Irish Stalinist's views on Brexit. The main significance of the article is the way in which it illuminates the position of the CP and their allies in Ireland.

It helps to cement the long-standing relationship between the CP and the far right in Ireland. This has been a constant feature of the many referenda on Europe held there. The Stalinists have a history of appealing to reaction and national chauvinism on the issue of Europe rather than advance socialist alternatives,

But it is in the North that McCorry's real concern lies.

The Communist Party were a major force in constructing the original civil rights movement. They conceived it as gradualist and moderate, lobbying Westminster for reform. It was only with the greatest reluctance that they agreed to street demonstrations and they were horrified by the mass protest movement that emerged. The revolutionary rhetoric of the Peoples Democracy filled McCorry and his allies with anger. They put forward as an alternative the Stalinist "stages" theory of history.

The democratic stage in Ireland did not mean a united Ireland - that was for another generation and the Worker's Republic was infinitely far in the future. The task of the day was a democratic Northern Ireland, with partition remaining.

So, to a much greater extent than many realise, the Good Friday Agreement matches the early dreams of the Communist Party.

That's the point of the McCorry article. The "democratic" Northern Ireland they dreamed of is now endorsed by the vast majority of nationalists, yet the agreement and the structures it set up are slowly disintegrating. Stormont's history is one of sectarian corruption, the unionists no longer support devolution and the British back them with undeclared direct rule.

The whole point of the struggle around the backstop is that a hard Brexit would collapse the GFA and see the North presented yet again in its true nature as a colony of Britain, supporting unionist privilege in the face of a very large nationalist population. The legion of reformists would be discredited and the battle between reaction and revolution would resume.

The proposal to return to the days when the whole of Ireland was safe from war mongering Europe in the hands of a Britain led by rabid racists and empire loyalists is a striking illustration of the bankruptcy of the Communist Party of Ireland, its allies and of Irish reformism overall.

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