Tuesday, 21 December 2010
From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come
Following months of discussion, éirígí recently adopted its position paper on socialism - From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come. This is a critical development for the rebuilding of socialist republicanism in Ireland.
When éirígí was established as a campaigns group in April 2006 it did so as an avowedly socialist republican organisation, founded upon the principles of that champion of revolutionary socialism in Ireland, James Connolly.
The activists who ultimately founded éirígí had first asked themselves two questions: Was the objective of a socialist republic still relevant in today’s world? And if so, was there a need for a new political organisation to fight for the creation of that republic? With the answer to both these questions being a definitive yes, éirígí came into existence.
Four and a half years later, the party has reached another significant milestone with the publication of a major ideological policy paper. From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come is not only an important development for éirígí as a political party; it is also an important for the development of socialist republicanism in Ireland.
From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come does not simply reject capitalism in all of its forms; it also sets out éirígí’s vision of an alternative society based upon the public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
Over the course of the last century many Irish republicans have come to the conclusion that an Ireland which remained capitalist post a British withdrawal would not really be free at all. And éirígí is proud to follow in that tradition, to follow in the footsteps of organisations such as the Irish Socialist Republican Party and the Republican Congress and of individuals like Peadar O’Donnell, Liam Mellows, Constance Markiewicz, Frank Ryan and Mairéad Farrell.
However, From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come is not just about éirígí taking its place in Ireland’s revolutionary tradition. It is also about changing the parameters of debate in republican Ireland and beyond. It is about building the theoretical foundations for a powerful movement in Ireland that will be uncompromisingly republican and socialist. A revolutionary republican movement that has class politics at the core of its analysis, a movement that will never again commit the mistakes of militarism, constitutionalism or the pernicious notion that labour ‘must wait’.
The process by which éirígí developed and adopted From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come was itself an example of the type of participative democracy that éirígí wishes to see at the heart of a new socialist Ireland. This process saw an initial draft debated by the entire membership within their respective local Ciorcail (branches). Each individual member was afforded the right to suggest deletions, additions and amendments to the document.
Once the first round of discussion had been completed a second draft of the paper, based upon the feedback received from the membership, was drafted. This second draft was then circulated to the entire membership and again debated within the local Ciorcail. The feedback from this second round of discussions informed the drafting of the third and final draft of From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come.
For the first time a dispersed voting procedure was used which saw members voting at meeting of their local ciorcal on whether to adopt or reject the paper. As with all major strategic and policy issues each member of the party had an equal vote. The result of this vote saw the paper being unanimously adopted.
While the process of developing and adopting From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come took a number of months to complete, it was time well spent. éirígí’s unique decisions-making process, as contained within Bunreacht éirígí, places consensus building at the heart of a process of decision making.
Many Irish republican and socialist organisations are based upon outdated and anti-democratic ‘top-down’ models of decision-making. Such models are inherently unstable, leading to leadership cliques and internal divisions. Organisations which use delegate based organisational models, pressure cooker conferences and artificial deadlines to make decisions are invariably corrupted by leaderships who think they know better than their memberships.
Announcing the public launch of From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come, cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said: “Ireland today is at a crossroads. We can continue down the path of capitalism and imperialism that has partitioned our country, exploited our population and impoverished our communities or we can strike out for a better future based upon national independence and socialism.
“From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come correctly asserts that the only option that will work for the vast majority of the Irish people is that of independence and socialism.
“There can be no compromise between the exploiter and the exploited. It is a matter of their prosperity or ours – the slave owner and the slave cannot be prosperous together.
“éirígí is under no illusions as to the mammoth scale of the task that has been set out in this document. It is the same task that confronted the men and women of 1916 and it is the same task that confronted the thousands of republicans who fought the struggle over the last 40 years – it is about nothing less than the re-conquest of Ireland by the working people of Ireland.
“We need to start small while thinking big. We need to organise in our communities, in our workplaces, in our places of education, in our homes and on our streets. We need to make the argument with every single person who has no vested interest in the current rotten system that there is a better way and a better destination. There is a system that the working people of Ireland can have a stake in – that system is socialism and the time to start fighting for that system is now.”
To read From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come go here: http://www.eirigi.org/pdfs/socialism.pdf