What socialist credentials..?

SINN Fein leader Gerry Adams will address the European Social Forum at its opening this weekend. No doubt he will be recounting his meeting with George Bush, his party’s support for Private Finance Initiatives in the Assembly and how Sinn Fein called for a Coca Cola plant to be built while at the same time boycotting the product. Can Sinn Fein be seriously described as ‘socialist’ any more?

  • peteb

    “Can Sinn F

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “Can Sinn F

  • Davros

    Pete, Major series of articles in the Economist tackles this sort of thing.

    Quote “All parties are, however, worried by a new factor in Irish politics: the rise of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). As the main pro-independence group, Sinn Fein set up Dail Eireann, the Irish parliament, in 1919. But after the civil war and the establishment of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, it was eclipsed, even though the IRA remained active. Now, however, Sinn Fein has grown to become the biggest nationalist party in the north, where it confronts Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists. Less noticed overseas, Sinn Fein has also garnered support south of the border, where it now commands getting on for 10% in opinion polls.
    From which party is Sinn Fein drawing its support? Most of its followers are urban and relatively poor, so they have probably come partly from Labour and partly from Fianna Fail. The leaders of these two parties say that Sinn Fein will hit a natural ceiling of a bit less than 15%. That may seem small; yet as Michael McDowell, the (Progressive Democrat) justice minister, observes, Sinn Fein’s platform is essentially a Marxist one. Besides, it still has an armed wing, in the shape of the IRA. Both Mr Ahern and Mr McDowell pointedly note that Sinn Fein is surprisingly well-organised and financed, and Mr McDowell openly questions the source of the party’s money. Asked what single action might do most to reduce its income, he suggests that equalising diesel taxes on both sides of the border would have a salutary effect because it would cut smuggling.
    It is possible that Sinn Fein might mature into a legitimate nationalist party: were it ever to be considered as a potential partner in a coalition government, it would have to. But even in its present guise, as a neo-Marxist party with guns, it will not disappear. Its new-found respectability has become part of the price that both parts of the island have had to pay for ten years of peace in Northern Ireland. “

  • willowfield

    How on earth can anyone claim with a straight face that the Provos are socialist?!

    LOL!

  • Christopher Daigle

    How on earth can anyone claim with a straight face that the Provos are socialist?!

    LOL!

    Posted by: willowfield at October 15, 2004 12:12 PM

    ——–
    kind of depends on what one means by socialist, doesn’t it?

  • Mario

    It was my understanding that the provisionals were more of a Roman Catholic National Force, I assume that is not the case any more for Sinn Fein.

    I have always been curious, about the provisional Irish Republican Army, it was my understanding that there was another force called the INLA which was more of a Socialist inspired National Liberation army and that they were seeking more alliances with Protestants and that the Provisionals were not interested in that. That is my limited understanding or at least as much as we know here in Argentina.

    What ever happened to the INLA?

  • Nathan

    Can Sinn Fein be seriously described as ‘socialist’ any more?

    I’d imagine a hard look at the political deflections away from the Provisional Republican Movement over the past 2 years would answer that nice and easy.

    Tommy Gorman, Anthony McIntyre, Brendan Hughes, Liam O Ruairc, Sean Smyth and Brendan Shannon – all socialists and working class.

    Now what does that tell us?

    Like or loathe their politics, I’m glad to see that Tommy et al managed to hold onto their principles.

    Unfortunately for them, they were not given the right to vote for their chosen candidate (McCann), that was a privilege restricted only to those in the Foyle constituency I’m afraid.

  • Davros

    Nathan – I think SF are trying to be all things to all people at the moment. Have to applaud what ML said today about the wealth in Ireland. But too socialist and surely they could kiss any further electoral gains in the ROI farewell ? It’s a balancing act there in that respect as much as it is
    in the 6 counties between keeping one pole of their party happy and at the same time trying to reach out to unionists.

  • peteb

    It’s not a complicated balancing act Davros.

    That’s just the PR.

    The left-sounding statements get released in-between elections, but when push comes to shove, and there’s an election looming, Gerry comes out with his big-business re-assuring “pragmatic in government” speech. Believe what you want, in other words.

    BTW ‘reaching out to unionists’ falls into the same category.

  • Davros

    I’m not sure Pete. I think SF are in much the same position that the Unionist party was in the days before it fragmented. I get the impression that they are changing, that there are conflicts within and that they have some good democrats who genuinely believe in the welfare of those other parties neglect.

  • peteb

    Davros

    Your theory would be more realistic if the contradictory positions were being expressed, simultaneously, just prior to an election.

    You should note that the ‘concern’ for the ‘welfare of those other parties neglect’ is restricted to the representatives of SF in the south of Ireland.

    It’s simply a case of product placement – modifying the PR campaign according to the market – which makes a mockery of the left-inclined rhetoric.

    The convergence of opinions of SF representatives prior to the last elections, north and south, points to a Leninist-centralism organisation (no discussion of policy outside the party) that has nothing to do with democracy.

  • Davros

    They certainly have tighter discipline than the Unionists had pete, but of course in the 60’s the Unionists didn’t think they needed discipline-they thought they could never lose control. And no matter how awkward rows became they could always bang the big drum and point to “themmuns” – I see an element of that in some of the “Vote for us or the DUP will get you” rhetoric.
    But there have been evident tensions.eg John Kelly quitting and Cllr Martin quitting.

  • peteb

    Tighter discipline?

    Yeah.. that’s what it is.

    I’d ask you to remember the comments made about John Kelly by Sinn F

  • Davros

    As I recall there have been a couple of Cumann disbanded ? Was Rathenraw one of them ?

  • peteb

    The Rathenraw Cumann didn’t ‘disband’, Davros. They resigned from Sinn F

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Mario

    The INLA take a harder (left) stance than the Provisional IRA. More idealistic, so in a way, less realistic. It has been subject to many splits.

    Their political wing is the Irish Republican Socialist Party, which has no elected representatives. It is virtually communist.

  • Henry94

    Sinn Fein suppporters claim they are socialist and their detractors refuse to accept it. Both appear to share the view that socialism is “a good thing”.

    But then it is also believed that socialism is a vote loser.

    So why does this great idea have such a bad smell electorally speaking?

    The question for Sinn Fein is not about the label but how it resolves the contradiction, faced by all parties of the left, between the interests of the unionised public serctor workers and the interests of the non-unionised private sector workers who in political terms see themselves as consumers rather than workers.

  • Davros

    Blimey Henry, that was a sensible post for 6.30 AM!

  • Alan

    *The question for Sinn Fein is not about the label but how it resolves the contradiction, faced by all parties of the left, between the interests of the unionised public serctor workers and the interests of the non-unionised private sector workers who in political terms see themselves as consumers rather than workers.*

    I thought those issues were well tackled by Crosland and others in the sixties, by the Marxism Today New Times debates and finally by the Socialist International’s recognition that Communism failed.

    I see SF’s main contradiction being how to square what could be seen as an essentially zenophobic doctrine with an egalitarian and internationalist methodology.

  • davidbrew

    surely they mean the European National Socialist Forum ?

  • Nathan

    Davros

    Your right in the sense that PSF, being the wealthiest party in Ireland, has now reverted to being obesely bourgeois.

    Thats why good olde Mary Lou was at the posh Gresham Hotel in Dublin in June of this year to be interviewed by the hacks.

    Certainly a far cry from the more modest surroundings more often associated with many of their dedicated Marxist canvassors in the North.

  • George

    Nathan,
    we’re not living in the 1960s anymore. The Gresham is no longer considered a prestigious Dublin hotel. It’s an average four star joint.

  • Nathan

    George

    You know full well that the Gresham is still regarded as the Queen of traditional luxury hotels in Dublin.

    Most of us here (of whatever political persuasion) also realise that the leading lights of the Republican aristocracy accept capitalism and, beneath all their irrelevant posturing, seek a mandate to act as political administrators for that system.

  • George

    Nathan,
    “Queen of traditional luxury hotels” is Irish for shabby and outdated.
    No self respecting Capitalist would stay there these days. It’s the Four Seasons in Ballsbridge I’m afraid.
    Maybe things will change with the revamping of O’Connell street but at the moment it holds no cache.

    That’s not to say we won’t see Shinners meeting the press in D4 after the next election.

  • Henry94

    nathan

    Most of us here (of whatever political persuasion) also realise that the leading lights of the Republican aristocracy accept capitalism

    If by accepting capitalism you mean Sinn Fein aren’t going to nationalise everything and kick out the Dells and Microsofts I should certainly hope not.

    But that does no mean that Ireland has to remain the most unequal and unfair society in the EU.

    It doesn’t have to have poor public services and it doesn’t have to allow monopolies and cartels rip people off.

    It is possible to build a political consensus for change but the left is hamstrung by cynical sell-outs on one side and dim sloganising on the other.

    Sinn Fein has a great historical opportunity to provide a real political alternative, if it has the courage. The word socialism and the ideas that socialism is identified with (public ownership, state monopoly) are dead political concepts. But capitalism needs to be subject to democratic regulation in the public interest. The state doesn’t have to own the bus we take to work in the morning. But it is the states business to ensure we have a bus service that carries out its social function.

    Just like the state didn’t have to own the pubs to ensure that workers in the pubs were protected from cigarette smoke.

    Tommy Gorman, Anthony McIntyre, Brendan Hughes, Liam O Ruairc, Sean Smyth and Brendan Shannon – all socialists and working class.

    Now what does that tell us?

    Like or loathe their politics, I’m glad to see that Tommy et al managed to hold onto their principles.

    Unfortunately for them, they were not given the right to vote for their chosen candidate (McCann), that was a privilege restricted only to those in the Foyle constituency I’m afraid.

    Why didn’t they get off they principled arses and run themselves. It’s easy to hold on to principles that are never put to the test. As Arthur Scargill said about Bulgaria, if that’s socialism you can keep it.

  • Nathan

    Henry

    Believe me, I ought to be the last person to be accused of eating the sour shells of socialism. Not very nutritious are they now.

    Why didn’t they get off they principled arses and run themselves. It’s easy to hold on to principles that are never put to the test.

    Because McIntyre already has his Republican stripes, having spent 18 years behind bars for double murder.

    Given that his home has been picketed by Provisional sympathisers, abuse shouted from the pavement, because he refuses to conform, there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell of Intyre putting himself forward – how dare you think he’d ever go into Stormont.

    Thats not to say that they aren’t republicans in West Belfast who have also reached McIntyre’s personal position of committed detachment.

    Contrary to what you happen to believe, these so-called ‘dissidents’ are hardly whipping a dead phoenix. In their Blanket journal they have teared the logic of the peace process to shreds, and have embarrassed the Adams leadership beyond belief.

    And may I say they have done so more assiduously and with a greater elegance than either Peter Robinson or Bob McCartney!

  • peteb

    Tell you what Henry

    Since you don’t want SF to reject capitalism and want them to adopt the more palatable (for certain voters) elements of socialism, without calling it socialism (scares those same voters) but, also, still want to be able to say that it is a form of socialism (for certain other voters).. why not call it The Third Way?

    Oh.. hang on.. someone’s already thought of that.

  • Nathan

    Talking of A Third Way, would anyone agree (looking back) that the Northern Ireland Labour Party was the noblest attempt yet to create an unsectarian socialist party with plural objectives?

    I know the national question wrecked the attempt but NILP attracted Sam Thompson, John Hewitt, WR Rodgers, Eamonn McCann and Nell McCafferty back then.

  • Davros

    Not to mention Paddy Devlin.

  • Mario

    Gracias Gonzo,

    It certainly explains the popularity of the INLA amongst the more radicals and now obsolote movements such as the Montoneros.

  • Henry94

    peteb

    why not call it The Third Way?

    I think it is the only way. The market system is robust enough to operate in a society where the government is comitted to desirable social objectives.

    nathan

    Because McIntyre already has his Republican stripes, having spent 18 years behind bars for double murder.

    We’re talking about his socialist stripes now. Eamonn McCann ran on a platform these guys support. They could have run a canditate on the same basis.

    The real reason the Blanketeers and the dissidents in general don’t stand for election is that it would show how little support they have.

    There is no Blanket on the ground.

    how dare you think he’d ever go into Stormont.

    He wouldn’t have to. He could run as an abstensionist. Noble tradition.

    they have teared the logic of the peace process to shreds, and have embarrassed the Adams leadership beyond belief.

    So run against him and see who gets embarrassed.

  • Davros

    He could run as an abstensionist. Noble tradition.

    That’s a keeper Henry 🙂 Next time you complain about mandated Unionists refusing to sit with Sinn F

  • Henry94

    Davros

    You’ll be waiting. Unionists must make their own decisions. I don’t believe anybody should be obliged to take their seats.

    But I think you are misrepresenting the position. If the Assembly was restored I think the unionists would show up.

  • ShayPaul

    Surely the problem is that you are all thinking in left versus right Tory versus Labour terms on this thread.

    Sinn Fein thinks in Republic versus Foreign Occupant terms.

    Republic as in “of the people and for the people”.

    They genuinely have no problem with left versus right, and are able to embrace the starry plough and the catholic right at the same time as protestant reformers. This is not just political expediency it is their “raison d’

  • peteb

    That’s right, ShayPaul.

    Sure, just the other day Mary Lou MacDonald was waving her fist in the air and raging against the “Foreign Occupant”…

  • Nathan

    Henry

    To the eternal frustration of a great Irish poet, there won’t be another Brendan Behan type division on the scale witnessed by my father’s generation in 1969.

    I agree with you, the Blanket outlet (and their Republican Forum as well) doesn’t provide any meaningful rallying point for the dissenters.

    Whilst some have left the Provisional Republican Movement and others have been blown out since 1969, they have always being too small in numbers to accord any importance to and usually over a diverse range of disparate issues.

    That the Provisional Republican leadership avoided any major schism post-1969 whilst they turned the core dogmatism of Irish republicanism on its head is an extraodinary achievement for these newly found social democrats.

    And the best of luck to them for acting the stickie and choosing power over purity, though there will be difficult days when they have to do unpopular things.

    Maybe McIntyre was right when he said that the Provisionals could have pushed for more – perhaps joint authority, perhaps the consent principle applying county by county, perhaps the whole of Britain having a vote on the border.

    I’d even expect a Unionist to go a long way with McIntyre’s analysis. There is no dirty trick to use Stormont as a means to destroy the Union from within. Instead, they will probably end up like Fianna Failure.

    I couldn’t give two toffees now, considering the fact that the fear of this generation of Sinn Fein leaders ever retreating to the past is going, going, gone.

    Now that they choose to understand the dialetics of change, the next step for them is to follow the same clear thought processes as Frank Ross and other republicans of the 1950s. My old man’s generation pondered their faith and found it wanting. In doing so they were not afraid to face the consequence.

    Remember, you can’t be a true plural republican without being a revisionist. Eoghan Harris and John A Murphy would be sure to tell you that.

  • ShayPaul

    peteb

    If you have a point I’d like to hear it .

  • peteb

    The point, ShayPaul, such as it is, is that what you claim is Sinn F

  • ShayPaul

    My point peteb is that “socialism” is not their “raison d’

  • peteb

    Shay

    You, quite arrogantly, assume that I don’t “understand Sinn F

  • ShayPaul

    peteb

    What is revisionist about my approach ?

  • Davros

    Speaking of Mary Lou Pete – I wonder how she misses SF links to problems at Rathenraw
    and quite a few other difficulties-

    The coming IMC report.

    The claim that the man, Mr Rogan, arrested by Spain was a member of SF’s International department in 1996.

    The Trial starting of another prominent SF member on charges linked to IRA membership and extortion in Downpatrick area.

  • ShayPaul

    Waiting ….

    peteb

    What is revisionist about my approach ?

    Posted by: ShayPaul at October 17, 2004 01:57 PM

  • peteb

    Shay

    Perhaps you should look through Sinn F

  • ShayPaul

    peteb

    You still didn’t point out where I was revisionist.

    As pointed out in my post :

    Surely the problem is that you are all thinking in left versus right Tory versus Labour terms on this thread.

    Sinn Fein thinks in Republic versus Foreign Occupant terms.

    Republic as in “of the people and for the people”.

    They genuinely have no problem with left versus right, and are able to embrace the starry plough and the catholic right at the same time as protestant reformers. This is not just political expediency it is their “raison d’

  • Davros

    History has shown that protestant radicals have proved to be the most active republicans.

    Please name six after 1922 .

  • peteb

    Shay

    You claim “They [Sinn F

  • ShayPaul

    peteb

    I am not spinning I agree completely with your last post.

    They genuinely have no problem with it.

    I never said it was not an issue, simply that it is not their “raison d’

  • Davros

    I wonder if Shay relies on Sinn F

  • ShayPaul

    Davros

    Crawl back under you rock

  • Davros

    Waiting ….

    peteb

    What is revisionist about my approach ?

    Posted by: ShayPaul at October 17, 2004 01:57 PM

    Waiting ….

    ShayPaul

    History has shown that protestant radicals have proved to be the most active republicans.

    Please name six after 1922 .

  • ShayPaul

    peteb

    My point is that it’s about those votes – ‘pragmatic’ politics sure, but not principled…

    That’s a value judgment, on what basis can you justify it ?

    It’s a cheap shot you could throw at any political party.

    It is also fundamentally true of any political party.

    So what ?

  • peteb

    Shay

    Given that you claim to believe you haven’t mis-stated Sinn F

  • ShayPaul

    peteb

    I deliberately quoted from you for the political expediency , to underline that I agree this is the case for left-right issues as you pointed out. They have genuinely no problem with that.

    You claimed I was revisionist when I pointed out that “republicanism” and not “socialism” was their “raison d’

  • Davros

    The denial that SF is left wing is how SF likes to portray itself to it’s $$$ donors. It downplays it’s socialism in the USA, as it downplays it’s support for Cuba and it’s support for the PLO and variouis other bodies regarded as anathematous by it’s $$$ donors

    And the Claim that history has shown that protestant radicals have proved to be the most radical republicans is bunkum.

  • ShayPaul

    Davros :

    The denial that SF is left wing is how SF likes to portray itself to it’s $$$ donors. It downplays it’s socialism in the USA, as it downplays it’s support for Cuba and it’s support for the PLO and variouis other bodies regarded as anathematous by it’s $$$ donors

    What denial ?

    And the Claim that history has shown that protestant radicals have proved to be the most radical republicans is bunkum.

    Don’t need to argue that one it is really too easy .. believe me.
    However as you like to read and have earlier questioned the modern validity of such a claim, may I suggest you get a copy of “Further Afield – journeys from a Protestant Past” you’ll find it at amazon.

    Let me know what you think of it.

    This link might interest you as well click here

  • Davros

    Heatly was one, and at the fringes for mpst of the time excepting during the early days of NICRA- No Adams or O’Brady He. I need 5 more out of many dozens of radical Republicans since 1922. I’ll remind you of poor young Bunting.

    It’s one of those sacred cows so beloved of your tradition. 20th Century Irish Republicanism has been ethnic rather than Civic.

    As for what denial , When I see a picture of Mr Adams wearing a Kheffiyeh and an I love Castro T shirt in a US press Conference to show the solidarity his party proclaims for domestic consumption I’ll retract.

  • ShayPaul

    You asked for 6.

    I can name at least 2 dozen Davros, do you really want to continue ?

  • Davros

    Please do. 20th century Protestant Irish Republican Radicals.

  • ShayPaul

    Davros

    You are a slippery critter, so please define Radicals before eating you hat.

  • Davros

    Shay, as you used the term first, your post of 12:31 PM, possibly you might care to offer us your definition ?

  • ShayPaul

    Please do. 20th century Protestant Irish Republican Radicals.

    Posted by: Davros at October 17, 2004 08:25 PM

    So you have already accepted 2.

    Bobbie Heatley
    Ronnie Bunting

    I will merely mention 4 Illustrious Protestant Republican radicals, and save you the shame of an endless list :

    Roger Casement 1864-1916
    Robert Lynd 1879-1949
    Erskine Childers 1870-1922
    Bulmer Hobson 1883-1969

  • Davros

    Roger Casement 1864-1916
    Robert Lynd 1879-1949
    Erskine Childers 1870-1922
    Bulmer Hobson 1883-1969

    Please name six after 1922 .

    You make my case Shay.

    Only two of the 4 were alive post 1922 and Bulmer Hobson was hardly an “active Republican” after his abduction ( Protestant) by Sean Mac Diarmada in 1916. His face didn’t fit after that.

    And off on an interesting tangent – I doubt if Childers or Casement would have wanted anything to do with the Provos.

    This is my point. There’s a neatly crafted linear
    claim of non-sectarianism about Irish Republicanism that doesn’t hold up to examination.
    There’s an attempt to portray Sinn F

  • ShayPaul

    Davros,

    You really are a bad sport.

    The deal was clear.

    Now how many more do you want ?

  • Davros

    I’m not a bad sport. You haven’t given me any Protestant republicans of great Influence post 1922.
    Casement and Childers were dead, Young Bunting was a tragic figure, Hobson had been marginalised and Lynd Hardly set the world on fire.
    There Have been NO protestant republicans of any great Import since partition.
    The closest I can think of is Dr Roy Johnston and the Split that led to PIRA formation was in part BECAUSE Johnston WAS protestant.

  • Nathan

    Davros, if its a deep understanding of radical politics in Ireland since 1948 your looking for then Dr Roy Johnston’s Century of Endeavour: A Biographical and Autobiographical View of the 20th Century in Ireland is the book to read. Not sure of the publisher though.

    A must read considering that there are not many people, least of all from a Protestant background, who can claim to have been members of both the HQ staff of the IRA, the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Green Party.

  • Nathan

    For anyone interested, i’ve just located a brief summary of that book online: Roy Johnston

  • Davros

    A fascinating Man Nathan. I was struck by the similarity between the Stages Debate of the late 60’s and Gerry Adams comments about Irish Unity and European Unity.
    Thanks for the Book details. Is it readable for someone not into Heavy duty Political Theory ?
    I’m off to FetchBook.Info.