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This is from ”Socialism Republican” Vol. 1, Issue 1.
I.P.L.O. – 1988
The ”Socialist Republican” intends to bring its readers a number of interview with organisations and individuals active within the struggle for National Liberation and Socialism. In thish issue we interview a representative of the leadership of the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation.
Little is known about your organisation, other than what we read in the established media. Can you tell us what your organisation stands for and why it was formed?
In its origins as a distinct organisation the IPLO shared the experience of various people involved in struggle around the world. A number of comrades who have been active in our struggle for many years pinpointed drift and decay in what posed as the Republican Socialist tradition. At the same time recognising some progressive developments within the Republican Movement. Upon considering both factors these comrades concluded that they fell short of what is needed in order to archive Connolly’s Reconquest of Ireland. The IPLO was founded upon this principle and so stands for the emancipation of the Irish Working Class, and the liberation or Ireland from the yoke of Imperialism. We were formed to contribute – in all areas of struggle – to this objective. Because, in our considered analysis, no other single organisation accepts the primacy of the working class as the agency of liberation AND the centrality of the National Question we had no option but to re-enter the political arena as a separate force.
Maybe so, but can you not now be accused of further splitting the Republican and Socialist camps. Or of looking Revolution on your own terms?
Some have already accused us of this and others may well do. That is their prerogative. We believe they are wrong. In fact the very accusation implies ELITISM and CHAUVANISM both of which run contrary to the interest of the Irish working class and so actually post pose the arrival of the Irish Revolution.
But could your members not have been accommodated comfortably inside the Republican Movement or the Communist left; why form yet another organisation?
The first thing I have to say in answer to your question is that few people are ever accommodated “comfortably” in revolutionary politics. Inside Fianna Fail, the SDLP, Labour Party and Fine Gael etc. undoubtedly; but not were they VOLUNTEER to serve their class and country in struggle. As for the rest of your question; there are clearly many committed Socialists in the Republican Movement who are working for similar ends to those we claim and we support them fully. The volunteers of the IRA and the IPLO; indeed all combatants have much in common in terms of their experiences. They are, and should be, natural allies – not competitors – in the war against the British forces. However, this alone is not enough reason to merge at this time in our struggle. We need a deeper unity and this can be forged in the period ahead. The Republican Movement is essentially a radical Nationalist organisation, united across class lines in its support for armed struggle as the means of achieving National independence. When one examines its history it could hardly be otherwise given what subsequent – including the present – leadership inherited. For us to have entered the Republican Movement at this time would have meant accepting the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, claim that socialism is not yet on the agenda in Ireland. This we could not do and we say this with no wish to offend or hinder revolutionary comrades inside that movement. In fact if the Irish working class are ever to be successful our paths and theirs must merge on the road to Scientific Socialism. As for the Communists, we believe they have a great deal to offer the working class in terms of helping to harness revolutionary theory to revolutionary practise. They more than anyone else will understand and accept Marx’s claim that “all organisations are only moments in the history of the working class”. At present the Communist position on the National Question is incorrect. Hence our need – not desire – to form a separate organisation from those already in existence at this point in our struggle.
The IPLO have shot members of the RUC and recently killed the extreme loyalist George Seawright; what would you say to the claim that you are simply another armed Republican group?
I suppose the “proof of the pudding is in the eating” and of course history and our people will be our final judge; not some hack from RTE or the BBC. The media is pro-establishment by its very nature. Our organisation is founded on a scientific political analysis of the nature of the forces now oppressing the Irish people throughout this island. This analysis is based on the teachings of Scientific Socialism interpreted for the Irish conditions by Connolly, Mellows and Costello; amongst others. The two states on this island; the 6 counties and the 26, are the legacy of British imperialism. In the 6 occupied counties the presence of upwards of 25,000 men at arms maintaining a physical bridgehead for imperialism demands a physical dimension to OUR response. In the 26 where a conservative and reactionary church combines with a corrupt and salaried establishment politicians to sell of OUR means of life a different strategy is currently required. In order to achieve victory we must awaken the entire working class to their true role in our struggle. This we will do by agitating and organising on every issue possible. The combination of such strategy and tactics goes far and away beyond the thinking of any group of “Republican Gunmen”.
If you will use armed forces to fight “imperialism” in the 6 counties why not do so in the 26 counties?
As revolutionary socialists we have no moral hang-ups on the legitimacy of physical force. We do of course accept that in using force as one weapon in the arsenal of the working class we take on a responsibility and accountability. This is more that ANY Labour, F.F. or F.G. TD who while in “Government” (sic) takes upon himself the right to CONTROL the armed forces of a capitalist state. These are police and troops whose job it is to uphold the laws and social and economic values which rob our people. However, in this point in our history a great many people in the 26 counties give open support to the institutions of the state; believing them to be sovereign and Irish. This incidentally is a legacy left to us all by the ambiguities of earlier Republican ideology and the absence of a revolutionary working class consciousness. While a majority of workers in the 26 county state support it an armed campaign against it is both politically AND tactically incorrect. However, the day when the ruling elite feel their privileged situation under capitalism threatened they THEMSELVES may re-draw existing battle lines. For the present though it is as well to remember Connolly’s maxim in these matters: “Use argument where arguments serve and arms where arms are necessary.” There is no prospect of an armed “Campaign” in the 26 counties in a foreseeable future.
If you view the 26 counties as a puppet regime what is your position in relation to elections and Representative politics; how does it differ, if all, from your position on the Northern and British elections?
There is no parliamentary road to Socialism and here again James Connolly illustrates this fact perfectly when he says, “The election of a socialist is only valid if it returns a disturber of the political peace”. The whole concept of “Western Democracy” is itself a sham and represents little more than a 300 year old con-truck. As the French philosopher Rousseau said of the English obsession with ELECTORAL democracy. “The English are only truly free on the day they vote; immediately afterwards they are again overtaken by slavery”. Electoral politics under capitalism is merely a competition to see who to gets to administer the trappings of power for a few years. This is as true of Dublin as it is of Belfast or London. We would oppose any participation in any British electoral chamber, for obvious reasons, whereas we would view elections inside the 6 and 26 counties as a tactical matter and apply Connolly’s position even then.
So far you have spoken at length in emphasis of your political philosophy tell us now about your military dimension. How many members do you have; what type of weaponry can you deploy and in what areas are you organised?
I am sure the “Intelligence Analyst’s” at Dublin Castle and Whitehall have been waiting patiently for such a question. But one cannot and will not answer. As a Revolutionary organisation whose views – never mind our practise – border on the “criminal” in the eyes of the authorities we must take every step to preserve our secrecy. Our organisation works on a “need to know” basis enshrined in the constitution by which EVERY member is bound. So even if I had the answers you want – which I don’t – I could not give them. Your readers; do not need to know the answers. However, I can say that we are certainly in business and that business is social revevolution in Ireland.
But surely you can say something about the nature of your organisation. Do you plan to attack senior loyalist politicians, British soldiers, bomb England; what are your plans for the future; how will you set about achieving this Social Revolution?
Perhaps you missed the point. To begin with armed struggle is only one weapon in this struggle – albeit a very important one. The IPLO cannot say “We will attack THIS section of our enemy THIS month and another section NEXT month”. We will not do our enemies job for them. We must always retain the element of surprise. The information you want us to give voluntarily would not be in the possession of any person nor should it ever be. It would only help our enemies not the oppressed and is out of order. As for how we will build a Social Revolution, the IPLO has no illusion about its present role or its future potential. We see our organisation as one component in the struggle. We REPRESENT not a number of voters but a Revolutionary position mapped out for us by Connolly. We seek the creation of a Revolutionary Vanguard inside a Broad Front and believe this work – which can be done now – offers the best way forward from the morass of mixed consciousness which now dominates our struggle. We will participate fully in building a unified working class led by a revolutionary vanguard.
Some people reading this interview may think the IPLO is so embarrassed about its capacity for armed struggle that they don’t want to talk about it or maybe that you are soft on the issue. What have you to say to that?
In every struggle spies and informers are at work; Ireland is no exception. The early 1980’s produced a crop of touts known as Supergrasses. Many were paid liars others were not. Any organisation that cannot protect itself can never hope to win recruits and build confidence amongst the working class. Security is all in military matters. The IPLO has no reason for shame unlike others that could be mentioned. If we are tactical, discreet and secure we shall grow. As for being accused of being “soft” celebration of armed struggle or hell-bent on one more “glorious” failure. Such characteristics belong to adventures and the IPLO has no room for such people in its ranks. We can and must be judged on our practise in struggle and we will not put the proverbial cart before the horse now.
You seem to set high standards for membership of the IPLO. Where do your members come from; what areas and have any of them had past political involvement?
We set the standards we hope to build into our class. For to long our people have been contaminated by the cult of the personality; machismo: greed and the concept that only the strong survive. These values are the values of exploitation and theft. The IPLO realises that the working class have been socialised – or raised under – these values for several hundred years. Change must begin within each individual and it is the role of the most politically advanced comrades to guide and instruct the others. The standards we set are the stepping stones for Socialism. And as for the origins of our membership is entirely working class, rural and urban. Some of them came new to us for the first time, other were previously involved with the Republican Movement and the IRSP/INLA prior to its degeneration.
What do you think the future holds for an organisation like the IPLO after 20 years of War in the North?
Your question is really to narrow. We see the future in terms of what it holds for the working class not any one group. Ultimately the choice for Irish workers is VICTORY or DEFEAT – utter defeat. While the battle remains inconclusive or unfinished “STRUGGLE” is inevitable. The people who make up the IPLO will be engaged in that struggle. Parties and groups come and go, the class struggle has to have a WINNER – and a LOSER! At present we see our class forces scattered and our people unorganised. Socialism has been high-jacked by the Dick Springs and Jim Kemmy’s of this country and has been blunted. Nationalism as put forward by the Republican Movement presently only offers a change of management. These must be reclaimed and forged into a fighting ideology and practice to guide and lead our struggle. There is work for all of us to do in this; in many ways the REAL “WAR” is yet to begin. And I say that because I believe WAR is the total combination of ALL our struggles – Political, Social, Economic, Cultural and Military.