January 2014        

New year, same struggles

The beginning of a new year is the traditional time for most people to take stock of the past year and what they hope they can achieve in a new one. They make resolutions to do this, that, and the other, all done in good faith.
      From a workers’ viewpoint, 2013 finished on a reasonably high note, with the victory of the ESB workers in securing their defined-benefit pension scheme, which may well have repercussions throughout the state-sponsored sector.
      The establishment throughout the European Union are hoping that the deal done on the “outright monetary transaction” scheme and the European stability mechanism will continue to stabilise the euro. They have agreed that the debt must be paid off in full—not by inflation, default, or writing it off. All just wishful thinking.
      2014 will be more of the same: harsh austerity for working people throughout the EU, with its greatest impact on the peoples of the peripheral countries. Our German imperial masters will continue to push for deeper cuts in public spending, further deregulation of workers’ rights, pitting worker against worker throughout the EU. They want everyone to be like them: to export their way out of the crisis. But if everyone is exporting, who will be importing?
      No, Irish workers—indeed all workers in the peripheral countries—will pay for this debt burden for as long as they tolerate it and are prepared to sacrifice themselves and their families for global finance houses. There will be no salvation coming from the EU or its Irish lapdogs. So we must either starve or fight.
      This year we will will be subjected to an unprecedented barrage of propaganda about the heroic Irish from “both communities” who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and democracy in the blood-filled trenches of Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa during the Inter-Imperialist War of 1914–18.
      We need to be clear from the very beginning that that war was not for “the freedom of small nations,” nor was it for democracy, justice, or a better world: it was nothing more than a savage, brutal and barbaric war to redivide and carve up the world among the imperial powers of the day.
      As James Connolly put it so well, “ruling by fooling is a great British art—with great Irish fools to practise on.” Yes, the British led the Irish colonised establishment, both nationalist and unionist, a merry dance, promising the nationalists “home rule” if they supported the empire in its hour of need in Flanders fields while simultaneously winning support from unionists for the same war by promising that there would be no home rule and certainly no independence.
      So the gallant “Irish Division” went off to defend “little Catholic Belgium,” which had butchered ten million people in its Congo colony over the previous decade—a country that is still being torn apart by the machinations of the imperial surrogates to this very day; to defend France, which had butchered millions in its empire-building; to defend the Russian tsars, who oversaw a ramshackle empire, the “prison-house of nations,” in which millions starved; and to defend the British state, the most cunning and duplicitous of them all, its Butchers’ Apron flying across large swaths of the globe in the empire “on which the sun never sets and the blood never dries.”
      This year we will have to endure a new generation of Irish fools—agents of our new imperial masters, the European Union—blathering on about the “heroic sacrifice.” They will revive the songs from that slaughter; miles of print will be churned out to show the non-existent links between the slaughter of 1914 and their shiny new European Union, made up of those same broken-down empires as the final capstone on their long-held dream of “peace in Europe,” while the servile Irish media will continue to ignore the continuing wars and slaughter in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Central African Republic and elsewhere by the very same forces.
      No: these celebrations, commemorations—call them what you like—are nothing more than a softening-up process in preparation for distorting and twisting the events of 1916 to suit the establishment’s agenda. The great democratic event that was 1916 will be twisted out of all context: it was all a big mistake, Redmond was right after all, and it would be a great historical mistake to break with the European Union, as it was to break with the British empire.
      We need to oppose these events tooth and nail. This is a struggle for the hearts and minds of the Irish people.
      We will never defeat imperialist ideology, which holds back sections of our working class, by appeasing it. It will be defeated only when it is challenged from a clear democratic, pro-peace, pro-equality standpoint. We cannot remain silent: we must speak for the millions of workers and peasants butchered during the Great Inter-Imperialist War.
      We need to stand by Connolly’s slogan, “We serve neither King nor Kaiser—but Ireland”; in today’s terms: “We serve neither London, Brussels nor Washington but only the Irish working class.”

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