From the December 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard
Many of you will be concerned about what is happening in places like Belfast and Derry. You will probably support the civil rights struggle in Northern Ireland,
We too are concerned about the conditions our fellow workers in other parts of the world have to live and work under. We know that the role of the police and army is everywhere to protect private property and the existing political set-up.
When Ireland got independence in 1921 the North East part for economic reasons, was kept under British rule though given a parliament and government of its own. The government there has since armed itself with various undemocratic powers to use against its opponents. It is against these powers, and against bad housing and unemployment, that the Civil Rights people are protesting.
Protest movements are nothing new and are not confined to Northern Ireland. They exist everywhere and show that everywhere workers are discontented with some aspect of their lot. It is by promising to do something about this that politicians obtain your votes — and it is their failures that lead people to protest on the streets.
The politicians fail not because they are dishonest or incompetent but because capitalism cannot be made to work for the good of all.
If you accept this, then you will see that direct action is in the end as futile as voting for parties that stand for capitalism. You will see too the uselessness of a United Ireland as a way of solving the problems of workers in the North. This would merely be a political re-shuffle — a change of masters, we would say — that would leave unchanged the class basis of society which is the real cause of these problems. As anyone who has lived in the Irish Republic can confirm, people there face the same problems of bad housing, unemployment and insecurity (indeed this may be why you are now living here in Britain).
The lasting solution to these problems in Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic, Britain and the rest of the world is Socialism.