29 April 2014 Edition
Getting the political message
The more you read, the better you will understand the policies and strategy of the party
ELECTION TIME. And Sinn Féin activists are out canvassing, distributing leaflets and putting up posters.
But, most importantly, it is a time to get the POLITICAL message across.
During elections, people are generally more willing to engage in political debate. This is a great opportunity for canvassers but also a challenge: some of those being canvassed might know a lot more about politics than you think.
To canvass properly, an activist needs to know what the party’s policies are but also understand what its strategy is and how it was formed.
This is why political education is so important. Such education is not just for the slack times but is in fact even more urgent during election time.
The Sinn Féin Education Department has prepared sessions especially for candidates but all members can use its recommended reading lists.
The more you read, the better you will understand the policies and strategy of the party.
A full list of recommended reading can be had from the department but listed here are some basic texts which all members will find useful.
To understand republicanism, take a look at Pádraig Pearse’s seminal work The Sovereign People. For more background and analysis read T. A. Jackson’s Ireland Her Own, and E. Strauss’s classical work, Irish Nationalism and British Democracy.
Connolly’s Labour in Irish History places the fight for national freedom and social emancipation together, while Desmond Greaves’s study Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution explains how it all happened.
Sinn Féin’s fight, of course, is an anti-colonial one, and where better to find stimulus than in two classical analyses from the Third World: Albert Memmi’s The Coloniser and the Colonised and Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth.
IRISH LANGUAGE AND WOMEN
The role of the Irish language in the struggle is well shown in Mairtín Ó Cadhain’s pamphlet Gluaiseacht na Gaeilge: Gluaiseacht Ar Strae (a translation of which in English can be found), while making sure that women’s issues and the feminist programme are put firmly on the agenda can be helped by reading Ursula Barry’s edition of articles Where Are We Now: New Feminist Perspectives in Contemporary Ireland, accessible only online as far as we know. Link (http://eprints.nuim.ie /1171/1/MMWhere.pdf)
Of course, the big story of the elections will be the economy and the role of the EU in particular.
A good discussion of modern socialist economic theory can be found in After Neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto, edited by Stuart Hall, Doreen Massey and Michael Rustin.
And as regards Irish economic development, a very stimulating book is Todd Andrews’s Man of No Property. Todd was a founder member of Fianna Fáil in its radical phase but however the party disgraced itself subsequently this book is still worth studying.
And as regards the European Union, where better than The Great Deception by Christopher Booker and Richard North. A bit Anglo-centric but exposes well the myths about this would-be super-state.
So get out canvassing but make sure you read as well so that you can win not just the people’s votes but their belief, their support and their understanding.