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Stockholm
Member
Posts: 25

This is from "Borderline" vol 1. #2, summer 1986.

 

 

The article below is an edited version of a much longer letter on the role of Sinn Fein Councilors in the 6 counties.

 

PITFALLS OF ECECTORIAL POLITICS

 

If you were to ask the average person on the street in Coalisland or Belfast to pinpoint the major differences between SDLP and SF councilors, the majority would say “violence”, the difference between constitutional and revolutionary “NATIONALISM”. Bearing in mind that when Connolly said, ”The election of a Socialist (also read Republican) to any public body is only valuable in so far as it is the return of a disturber of the political peace”, he referred to the PASSIVITY and APATHY of the majority. Can we accept that definition, and if not, where and what IS the qualitative difference between SF and the SDLP?

 

For most people politicians, particularly councilors, now fall in to the “Jim’ll FIX-IT” category. In return for their vote people expect results whenever they have a problem. The current political system operates on the basis of SELECTIVE PATRONAGE under which “civil servants” will deliver certain concessions, resulting in power and credibility, to those politicians who best represent the long term interests of that system. Such is the role of hierarchical and representative politics under capitalism; it also explains why British ministers and the NIO have instructed officials not to deal directly with SF councilors. The object is to deny opponents OF the system – as opposed to competing opponents WITHIN the system – any measure of power, credibility or influence. In deciding to enter the electoral arena in the course of their struggle for National Liberation it was to these waters that SF launches its forces. One year after the election of 59 councilors’ how has SF’s new “middle leadership” in the North met the task posed by struggle in view of the support of the electorate for their promise of “principled leadership for change”?

In examining this issue I make no claim to have all the answers; instead I hope to encourage people to reject the uncritical acceptance of the line that everything is on course for victory and seek positive ways in which to correct past errors and develop the fundamentals of class struggle at the root of Connolly’s political philosophy.

 

When one examines the way in which SF representatives appear to mirror the activity of other parties within the councils we see how many confuse the issues separating SF from others like the SDLP. The failure of SF to publicly define the councils as “Talking shops” and “Buffer Zones” hampers any attempt to move OUTSIDE them so as to lead workers in DIRECT struggles; this lack of clarity in analysis impedes progress. As “Ambassadors” of movement philosophy SF councilors must be to the fore in describing the councils as a series of regional administrative units functioning between the people at grassroots and government as a system of shock-absorbers.

 

I believe the situation demands a political (social, economics) analysis of the State – of which the councils are only local manifestations. Where then is SF’s analysis of the state as a product of the historical rationalization of the THEFT of the “produce” of the majority by the minority; inside a class system which, through customs, ceremonies, cultures, social formations and laws, has acted to LEGETIMIZE its own existence and which claims for itself the MORAL right to a MONOPOLY on the use of force in defence of ruling class interests? Certainly, this is not to be found in the current public statements or agitations of the SF councilors who, because of their ambiguity on class issues, often appear to be confined to arguing for radically different priorities WITHIN the existing capitalist framework.

 

Unless SF councilors set about the business of consistently presenting the CONTRADICTIONS between what exists now and what is obtainable under socialism they have no right to expect revolutionary change; this is particularly true of the 20 co’s in the coming period. (This must be an error. It actually says “20 co’s”. So it should be 26 co’s but the term “military oppression” suggests the 6 co’s. Whatever! My note.) More people are now seeking alternatives to their current social, political, economic and military oppression; the revolutionary leadership SF claims in the name of its elected representatives also carries with it definite political responsibilities. In the past the Republican tradition had parted company from the theory and practice of Connolly’s Revolutionary Republican Socialism and so abandoned the workers. If this error is not to be repeated Republicanism must totally reject the uncritical cultism that dogged it in the past and even now enslaves our less conscious elements.

 

The price of failure in this area will ultimately mean a lot more than electoral successes in the future.

 

Jimmy Brown

May 20, 2010 at 7:31 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Stockholm
Member
Posts: 25

"When one examines the way in which SF representatives appear to mirror the activity of other parties within the councils we see how many confuse the issues separating SF from others like the SDLP. "

"The price of failure in this area will ultimately mean a lot more than electoral successes in the future."

 

Bear in mind that Jimmy wrote this back in 1986!

May 20, 2010 at 7:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

socialist95
Member
Posts: 59

Stockholm at May 20, 2010 at 7:46 AM

"When one examines the way in which SF representatives appear to mirror the activity of other parties within the councils we see how many confuse the issues separating SF from others like the SDLP. "

"The price of failure in this area will ultimately mean a lot more than electoral successes in the future."

 

Bear in mind that Jimmy wrote this back in 1986!

shows how jimmy was light years ahead of the thinking at the time...

May 20, 2010 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

iplofallen
Site Owner
Posts: 110

This is a great article. Jimmy at his best. Great that this is now preserved and available for others to see, thanks Stockholm.

May 21, 2010 at 3:33 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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