4 August 2014 Edition
Anger is an emotion, not a political strategy
Continuing our series of opinion pieces by progressive figures on ‘After the elections — what now?’
We need to develop a coherent strategy for radical change, not limiting ourselves to an electoral strategy. This is a challenge facing not only Sinn Féin and other Left elected representatives but all of the Left
THE ELECTION RESULTS have produced a changed and changing political landscape. There was a solid rejection of austerity by hundreds of thousands of working people throughout the country. The Labour Party has paid the heaviest price for its opportunism and its active support for anti-worker policies.
There is certainly a need to deepen and to clarify our understanding of the economic crisis that we are experiencing. We need to learn the lesson of the past, that economic and social advances are transient and are retained only if active resistance is built to protect them.
There must be a rejection of the belief that there is a separation between political and economic demands. This has been a success of the establishment, reducing all discussion on economic policy to one of management style and business priorities, steering the debate away from any possible alternative economic and social structures of society.
They have succeeded so far in imposing ‘TINA’ (There Is No Alternative) on the current economic orthodoxy, an orthodoxy that is legislated for by the European Union and is embedded in the numerous treaties woven to construct a straitjacket and to prevent any possible alternative way forward. This has to be recognised by any potential alternative government.
The recent Left-led government in Cyprus thought they could change things from within the anti-democratic EU structure; they discovered, at a heavy cost to the Cypriot people, that these were illusions.
Imperialism does not have friends, only interests.
The debate on the European Union and the euro is not about ‘Euro-scepticism’; nor can we take a pragmatic, à la carte approach. The very instruments required – the political and economic sovereignty to develop sustainable economic and social policies – have been surrendered by the Irish Establishment to the interests of the European Union and the powerful monopolies that it serves.
The anti-imperialist Left needs to approach political, economic and social struggles on an all-Ireland basis, striving to build unity among our people and renewing the struggle for the reconquest of Ireland in the interests of working people.
Even in the limited form that now exists, democracy is under attack and will be further reduced if the free trade agreement now under negotiation between the EU and the United States is completed. Democracy itself has become an obstacle to the global monopolies.
We have to recognise that there is no single ‘national interest’. There are separate economic and political interests on the part of workers and working people on the one hand and those of the Irish capitalist class, landlords, rancher-farmers, transnational corporations, low-wage employers, and the European Union. We need to know which side we are on.
This also applies to the massive corporate debt that the Irish state socialised and imposed upon the people. We need a radical government to repudiate this while simultaneously protecting the people’s interests. This would release large amounts of capital for productive social development.
An alternative radical government needs the active engagement and support of a mobilised, politicised people. We need to develop a coherent strategy for radical change, not limiting ourselves to an electoral strategy. This is a challenge facing not only Sinn Féin and other Left elected representatives but all of the Left.
The challenge now is whether the Left can harness the people’s anger for change. Anger is an emotion, not a political strategy.
Occupying the space vacated by the Labour Party would not lead to a political advance. We need to build a more militant trade union movement, with its own clear demands and world view, a movement that has a class understanding and a class approach to politics. This is an essential vehicle for rallying the forces for change.
It is now an urgent task to build a Left anti-imperialist movement capable of presenting to the people an alternative way out of this moribund and crisis-ridden system – a movement that is not just for gathering up votes but for politicising and deepening the class-consciousness of the people, mobilising the people in defence of their own interests. It must bring the people beyond anger, armed with their own ideology and an understanding of their own class interests – a truly risen people.