Editorial from the June 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard
Apart from a few genuinely looney lefties such as Red Action and those who produce Dead Leninism (or “Living Marxism” as they have the check to call it), the recent murders of working-class men, women and children committed by the IRA in their current bombing campaign in England have, rightly, been condemned by ordinary people, in Ireland as well as on the mainland.
Life under capitalism is difficult enough without having the additional worry of wondering whether you—or your children—are going to be killed by a bomb when you do your shopping or go for a drink. Making life worse under capitalism is all the IRA achieves by its bombing campaigns. But then terrorising the population is what terrorists set out to do.
As the physical force wing of Irish nationalism, the IRA does have a political objective: the establishment of an all-Ireland Republic. This, as the record of the regime set up in the South in 1922 shows, would be of no benefit whatsoever to workers in Ireland.
Despite so-called independence, mass emigration, unemployment, bad housing and a lower standard of living than on the mainland continued unchanged. In one respect things got worse. The power of the Catholic Church to interfere with people’s lives was strengthened though, thankfully, this has been changing in recent years.
Apart from this, the only difference was that government power passed out of the hands of the parasite Anglo-Irish landlord class into that of wheeler-dealer politicians of the likes of Reynolds, the present Irish Prime Minister, and Haughey, his predecessor. And the IRA is murdering children just to extend the rule of such politicians to the North of Ireland! Can political murder ever have been employed in pursuit of so utterly worthless an aim?
Most workers in the South know this anyway. They have no sympathy for the IRA or its political wing Sinn Fein and at election after election they have repeatedly repudiated its claim to be acting on their behalf. Without being socialists they know that changes to the political constitution make no essential difference to their lives and are certainly not worth killing anybody to bring about. Once again, ordinary people have demonstrated a higher degree of understanding than those who have appointed themselves to act on their behalf.
The only degree of support the IRA is able to claim is amongst a minority of those of Catholic background in the North of Ireland. Certainly, workers there have plenty to complain about— no job prospects, low incomes, bad housing, etc, etc—but they are terribly mistaken in imagining that a united Ireland would in any way improve their position.
They are suffering because they are property-less workers in a world where the means of life are owned by a privileged minority. Their problems are caused not by British rule but by capitalism; which Irish independence left intact. Just as ’’Irish Unity” would.
The solution to the problems facing workers in Ireland is the same as that to those facing workers the world over. We must organise together to replace capitalism everywhere with a system based on democratic control and the common ownership of the planet’s resources. The struggle for such a socialist society has to involve implacable opposition to nationalism, of whatever variety, whenever it rears its ugly ahead.