For Irish Freedom & Working Class Power!

By David Van Deusen, District Vice President of the Vermont AFL-CIO

“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”
-James Connolly, Irish Republican & Labor Leader

March 16, 2019, Cabot, Vermont -Just over 100 years ago, the Irish people rose up against the British Empire and declared a Provisional Republic. The Easter Rising in and of itself failed to end the colonial occupation of Ireland, but it marked a turning point in Irish history. While it would take the Irish people (and the IRA) until 1922 to establish the Free State for 26 of its 32 counties (and while groups such as RIRA continue to fight for the liberation of Northern Ireland to this very day), from the time of that Easter revolt, the days of direct English rule over the whole of the island were numbered.

One of the paramount leaders of the Easter Rising was James Connelly. Connelly, a socialist, was a popular Labor leader affiliated with the Dublin based Irish Transport and General Workers Union. Previously, while briefly living in the United States, he was a dues paying member of the anarcho-syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World. In Ireland, he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party. Later he was a co-founder of the Irish Labor Party as well as the armed Irish Citizen Army. The Irish Citizen Army, prior to engaging the British during the Easter Rising, was formed to protect and defend workers, especially during Labor strikes.

Connelly argued that expelling the English from Ireland could not be the only goal. Instead, he asserted that economic emancipation of the Irish working class and poor must also be a primary focus of the anti-colonial struggle if the common people were to be inspired to sacrifice for the freedom of the many. And here Connelly maintained that a truly free and united Ireland, one devoid of English rule, must also entail working people having direct control over the basic means of production and the institutions that give form to the social & economic conditions through which they live. Connolly, in short, was a Labor leader, socialist and a far thinking revolutionary.

During the Easter Rising of 1916 Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army collaborated with fellow armed groups such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Volunteers, & Cumann na mBan. When the first shot of the revolt was fired, it was Connelly who command all armed groups in Dublin. Connolly and the Irish rebels were able to hold parts of the capital for six long and bloody days against massively superior British forces. During the fighting Connolly was seriously wounded. Soon after, he and other leaders of the Rising were executed via a British Army firing squad.

The execution of James Connolly and other republican leaders sparked outrage among the Irish public and international condemnation. It is told that these executions inspired thousands of working class Irish to actively support the fight against English rule and to share the dream of a united Ireland free of the exploitation of any ruling class (be it British or domestic). Their struggle witnessed the significant (though be it limited) victory of 1922, but the dream is yet to be realized in its totality.

So on this St Patrick’s Day Eve, I offer solidarity with those who continue to fight for a free and united Ireland (such as RIRA), and solidarity with all those throughout the world (including the YPG/YPJ & EZLN) who continue to struggle against bigotry & fascism, for self-determination, and for true working class power. United, we will win!

There are 41 Comments

Ah... so-called libertarian commies promoting Nation-State building, up against the Evil British Empire. Color me amazed.

Irish nationalism, like all nationalism, is garbage. Nation or class, fellow worker -- choose one...and only one.

Solidarity with all peoples who fight for self determination. Solidarity with those who also seek to fulfill their self determination through the establishment of a libertarian and socialist society.

Went on writing an elaborate reply, but I dunno if trolling or not at this point.

", I offer solidarity with those who continue to fight for a free and united Ireland (such as RIRA)" there's no such organisation as the RIRA (Real IRA) anymore. It collapsed in on itself from gangsterism and greed. A little bit of research you would found that out easily.

Not true. RIRA merged with a militant anti-drug dealer community group in 2012. Now the merged groups are often called the New IRA, but the Real IRA name is used also. RIRA in no way collapsed from gangstorism, greed, or for any other reason. In fact the RIRA/NIRA have been carrying out attacks both against military/political targets AND organized crime bosses in Ireland. It is also worth noting that the political ideology of the RIRA is on the far left, something similar to the RAF back in the day.

I pull your head off again, fancy bitch! How we do in Dagestan! My brother already behind you.

"RIRA is on the far left, something similar to the RAF back in the day."

Which only reinforces the antiauthoritarian argument against them. RAF were also fucked up clueless supporters of murderous antisemites, but hey that's another issue. Or is it?

OMG these convoluted spook mutations of nationalism, Celtic / Pict identity politics, Marxism and alcohol produces a grotesque chest-thumping scowling loud mouthed screaming creature one often encounters outside bars at closing time.

Cumann na mBan, who Connolly fought along side of during the Easter Rising was a all womans brigade. While today we may come to expect such all women fighting units in places like Rojava (YPJ), but 100 years ago this was a mark of how advanced and radical the Irish revolt was. Furthermore, the fact that Connolly and major sections of the revolt (ie the ICA) recognized that expelling the English was not enough (and instead that they had to internally free themselves from capitalist oppression in all its forms) is also another clear indicator that the revolution of 1916 (which pre-dated the Russian revolution) was historically remarkable. Coupled with the fact that the Irish were not considered "white" ("whiteness" being a fairly recent capitalist construct) by the English of the American elite, the Easter Rising must be viewed as one of the more significant leftist revolutions of the last 200 years. All respect to Connelly and those that have carried the struggle forward to this day. Solidarity.

@ Dail O'Connor, yeah the Real IRA merged to create the New IRA. a lot of the main players (from Dublin and Cork) involved with the Real IRA were also booted out of the New IRA very soon after this merger, with some of them getting shot. As for attacks against organised crime bosses, thats rubbish, not one "crime boss" has been attacked. 3 members of the New IRA have been shot dead by gangsters, there was no retaliation. Your statement about the Real IRA being on the far left "something similar" to "RAF" is ridicules it shows how very little you know about their politic ideology, there is absolutely nothing socialist/communist about them. I'm guessing you dont live Ireland.

Also Dail, describing RAAD (Republican Action Against Drugs) as a "community group" is nuts. The reality of RAAD was they mainly knee capped and brutally beat young teenagers and expelling youths from their homes and neighborhoods forcing them to up and move to other areas of Ireland or England. So this was their solution to the drug problem in underprivileged estates by the self appointed "protectors of the community". All the armed groups use punishment beatings as a tactic to "solve" social problems as they say, but its more to do with control and wanting to be the new police.

I was drawn immediately to your comment but alas, you had not written Dali, but Dail, a brutish thug with serious issues who prefers alcohol yet kneecaps teenage marijuana smokers.

But like, down with the orangemen and stuff too tho!

Self-determination is totally at the center of Vladislav Surkov's "sovereign democracy", jsyk. But deeper than that, his ideology seek to build a "fascist international" made of sovereign nations brutalizing their own populace without any external interference whatsoever. They seek to come back to the old closed political systems of national enclaves limited by borders.... where of course the oligarchs (read: State-backed capitalists) can still have it their way internationally. Trump and the John Birchers are for such a plan, and there's nothing holding back from postulating that this "new IRA" isn't covertly supported by Russia's "balkanization" politics, at least on the surface.

Like I said before, big externalizations create wide dead angles for the people taking part in those movements. Which is one of the reasons why abusive, despotic authoritarian patterns are allowed to take root and takeover everything... when they're not running the show from the start.

Above all this, fuck those national liberation politics. That's an oxymoron. None of these projects (maybe with the exception of ETA and Rojava) are after a progressive utopia with cops, prisons and borders... they're after another capitalist and repressive management.

Fuck all that.. So the IRA, Black Liberation Army, the American Indian Movement, Brown Berets, the Palistinians, the Zapatistas, the FLAN, FLQ, and every other oppressed minority population or colonial victim nation that was or is is no more than some kind of move towards fascism being supported by Russia? That is fucking bollocks and racist. Oh, but maybe you give a pass to Basque and the Kurds. Sweet of you. I stand with all of um; the IRA and the YPG. I don't give a fuck if your an anarchist or socialist. But if you stand against the right of the oppressed to resist the national (capitalist) nation oppressing them, then you are both an asshole AND a counter revolutionary racist. Go back to the comfortable life your privilege grants you.

You're wasting your time against the indomitable nihil-esque tendency, and it is not worth any words or keyboard time on explaining the absurd and obsolete psychology of your resistance!

Wouldn't making categorical statements about liberatory struggles be guaranteed to fail?

There's maybe an inevitability of any revolutionary fighting forces morphing in to the next set of cops and worse.

Probably best to assume that most of them will become victims of whatever meagre success they achieve as violent bastards commanding a grudging respect from the much larger groups of violent bastards. Very very rare to deploy violence without extreme polarization.

But then again, almost anything else that you could consider political activity usually seems to be even more bullshit spectacle? Not that violence is immune to spectacle obviously but raising the stakes high enough does seem to wither it away.

"Wouldn't making categorical statements about liberatory struggles be guaranteed to fail?"

Why would it? Isn't there a common trait through all these, that is anti-anarchist at the core?

What you're saying can be applied to the Algerian national liberation and to Israel independence, yet for very different reasons of course. But both had the same problem: their clinging to the Nation-State as the politically realist, "unavoidable" answer to their problems. A solution that ended up serving the interest of a gang of oligarchs. Is there an example where this clinging to the State didn't turn into yet another kind of authoritarianism and capitalism? Maybe Angola's MPLA.. especially for how it kicked out the most brutal White supremacist force of the '70s-'80s. But these relatively "good guys", just like their Castrist comrades, got their own political agenda. I'd like to know more about the situation in Angola since the civil war ended.

BUT I do feel that the topic is passé... maybe irrelevant. It's an old debate that I thought was settled. As the anarcho-left idiots are still lauding national liberation as a revolutionary option (just like they never learn from history), the neonazis and other fascists these days have adopted the autonomist warfare that anarchists would be "expected" to be into. A neonazi shooting a Mosque in Christchurch is answered by a streetcar being shot at in Utrecht. With school shootings in between. This trend has been growing lately and you can't ignore it. These people aren't interested in Nation-State building... they understood that if you destabilize society enough there's a real possibility to go back to a feudal, tribalist, proto-fascist "utopia", like where present-day Chechnya has been diving head-first into.

Agree with anon, interesting topic!

I mean, just to be a nerd, categorical statements are almost always wrong by default but you're talking about the road to hell paved with "national liberation" and it's definitely a huge set of problems.

One of the interesting versions of this problem is when sanctimonious anarchists lecture small, relatively powerless, ethnic identity groups who are trying to resist state or corporate powers.

Pretend for a moment, you're already fighting a juggernaut or three and along comes this snarky windbag who splains to you about identity and implies you're basically a proto-statist or whatever and you're understandably annoyed by this. Maybe you appreciate the nuance but you're reaching out to people using identity because it's one of the only weapons you have and so, bad feelings are had by all!

"when sanctimonious anarchists lecture small, relatively powerless, ethnic identity groups who are trying to resist state or corporate powers."

What part didja miss with me lambasting the national liberation movements seeking to build Nation-States. Did I ever talked about Black Liberation Army or the Chicanx movement, whose primary goal was not to create a State in the first place? Nation-State politics are an issue that is contradictory to any imaginable sort of anarchism (except maybe that bs "State anarchism", that never was a thing anyways). But yet there's also the highlighted problem of over-externalizations that the more statist movements are focused around. Was the BLA or the AIM as fixated on some specific external bogeymen to a point this alienated their fighters from a wider, deeper perspective of their struggle?

The most important point I'm trying to make, here, is how self-defeating it can be when all the antagonization is all forced outwards into some intense polarization at a specific figure, as a frame of reference for people to join not an open struggle, but the organized, controlled management of a struggle by one or a few unitarian (i.e. monopolizing) groupings. What's interesting with Rojava is how it appears to be a rather decentralized and open movement, afaik, which makes it sharply different to other Nation-building movements abroad. But I could be wrong about this, of course.

Not that I missed it, more than I'd argue it's a tension as well as an explicit theory thing, yeah?

Obviously I'm not interested in any liberatory struggle that doesn't have at least some antiauthoritarian tendencies but since most of these attempts get crushed very early, there's a lot of who knows what going on.

Here's where I pitch anarchist participation as a gentle nudge away from these pitfalls you're talking about.

Senile old troll cheerleading for ID pols? *attempting to look surprised*

I'm flinging shit at more-rad-than-thou. Why? Did it splash on ya? ;)

Ooooh sure you are, Mr. Nitpick Beardo... But let's not confuse that with ultra-liberalism!

Liberals gonna liberal. I ain't confused friendo!

I'm just pointing out the number 1 way that people fuck up this conversation.


"IRA, Black Liberation Army, the American Indian Movement, Brown Berets, the Palistinians, the Zapatistas, the FLAN, FLQ (...)"

*Pikachu face*

That's one huge national soup right there, bro! With ingredients that got very little to do together, aside than a kind of identity politics, or ethic separatism.

The funniest part was including Quebec's farcical liberation front, that like existed for a few years and died before I (and you?) was even born. Buncha brainwashed dudes who avoided to address -due to their fixation on the British Empire bogeymen- how fascist petty-despot Duplessis -one of the forefathers of Quebec nationalism- has fucked up the Belle Province even more than a P.E. Trudeau would have ever dreamed of... starting with creating the fucking SQ, along with a "moral police" that fought behaviors subversive to Catholic values, authorizing the mass-shooting -with live ammo- of autonomous asbestos mining strikers, having the RCC in his Cabinet all the while giving away contracts to US big business.

Like I said... HUGE dead angles of externalization.

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