September 2015        

Letter

Democratic Programme for the 21st Century

Comrades
     The Democratic Programme for the 21st Century is timely, not just in its connection to the many coming centenaries and memorials over the next number of years, kicked off with the recent O’Donovan Rossa events, but also in the context of recent events in Greece and a coming election in Ireland.
     SYRIZA’s implosion, and the left’s scramble in Ireland in preparation for the election, highlight and demonstrate the limitations and dangers of opportunist electoral politics and the lack of a clear anti-imperialist programme. Many of the same people who scrambled after Obama and pined for an Irish SYRIZA and are now celebrating the British Labour Party’s leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn have no clear programme or commitment to an anti-imperialist socialism.
     And what other kind of socialism can you have? One that refuses to break with the EU? No. One that talks about internationalism while refusing to give priority to national sovereignty and democracy? No.
     It has been fascinating to see the hipster left present the scramble to SYRIZA as internationalism, and abandoning it just as quickly, as if Greece has only just existed recently, whereas the CPI has been visiting the working-class movement in Greece for years and inviting militant Greek workers over to Ireland for years, building sustainable, long-term, principled connections between communist workers in their country and ours.
     This debate about imperialism and socialism is not new. It was held a hundred years ago by James Connolly and William Walker. Yet the lessons are ignored. You cannot build socialism in Ireland while refusing to challenge imperialism. And imperialism still exists in Ireland today, in the form of the EU and American foreign direct investment and war planes and of course the continued British control over the six-county statelet.
     I feel that now is the time to build such a necessary anti-imperialist movement, pulling together non-opportunist republican, community, trade union and communist forces in Ireland. And the Communist Party is well positioned to approach individuals and groups to do this in a principled and equal way.
     Anti-imperialism in a peripheral country is opposition to both the domestic ruling elite, their power and privilege and structures (the state) that place the country in a position of subjection and subordination and, equally, opposition to the international imperialist structures and system more generally that prevent the free development and democracy of the people.
     Such a movement would need an immediate programme to mobilise workers and communities around but also a more long-term programme, far more ambitious in its design, to increase public wealth, ownership, control and governance (nationalisation and socialisation).
     Both these programmes will by necessity challenge imperialism (European, American and British) in Ireland or they are meaningless and of no value to our class.
     Margaret Devereux
     Dublin

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