3 July 2003 Edition
In his reply to Justin Moran's article, Brendan Hogan says "to win the peace we must outsmart the forces of reaction" as a reason why Sinn Féin should use words like equality as opposed to socialism "which may be akin to shaking a hornets' nest". But to say this is to misunderstand the political status quo in the 26 Counties today.
Eighty years after partition, economic and power cycles have set in. Middle class castes and golden circles, which would be disturbed if the border was to cease to be, control the establishment. These people are not motivated by morality, only by economic interests. Look at the state of our health and education services, and they still vote in low tax parties.
The reunification of Ireland is a radical idea. Obviously, with a small exception, the bourgeoisie don't support it or one of the other political parties would have seriously advocated it years ago. By using words like equality, we are not appealing to them, change is never in the establishment's interests. We shouldn't be afraid of upsetting these people; instead we should strive to, as they stand in our way.
In the last decade, up to 40% of the registered electorate did not exercise there right to vote in any of the elections. Why should they? Who was organised enough to represent their social and economic interests? In the 2002 election, where voter participation increased, it was also mirrored by an increase in the Sinn Féin vote. If we are going to win the trust of more of that 40%, then we are going to have to say what we mean and mean what we say.
As a political party that advocates radical change on the island, "shaking a hornets' nest" should be top of every cumann's agenda. Anybody in the party who seriously believes we can court the working class vote while eyeing up the middle class and come out the better is politically naÔve. The Labour Party is in political stagnation and still advocating that same failed strategy.
Unimpressed Scot socialist
Does Brendan Hogan (Mála Poist, 26 June) want to ditch the history and tradition of socialism (and follow the route of Red Action and the Independent Working Class Association in Britain) and ignore "the profound effect of the prevalence of capitalism, the primacy of the US and the collaspe of the USSR"?
The Scottish Socialist Party was indeed set up just four years ago by a "rag-tag" of socialists from various traditions (and none) - including supporters of Irish republicans. It has since outgrown those origins and is developing all the time with a membership of over 3,000, gaining 120,000 votes with six MSPs at the recent Scottish elections.
The SSP stands firmly for the breakup of the UK state and the establishment of a Scottish Socialist Republic. Anybody interested can check out www.scottishsocialistparty.org.
Rag-tags of the world unite.
Alternatives to capitalism
With reference to your recent feature on republicanism and socialism, whilst interesting and bold in that it proposes a kind of ideology Sinn Féin would like to identify as that of James Connolly, it seems to me that the response of some readers reflects a malaise of a republican movement more rooted in tradition than ideas.
The dismissive reference to the Scottish Socialist Party is one reflection that there are those in Sinn Féin happier a million miles away from socialists than they are a mere few feet away from millionaires.
It is no failure of Marx not to be able to predict the exact outcome of the end of the 20th century 150 years after his penning of the Communist Manifesto, when just at that time George Soros and the editor of the Wall Street Journal were penning articles in praise of Marx's analysis.
In search of an ideology, Paul O'Connor refers to the idea of an Ireland of Equals as opposed to a socialist republic and to the community as opposed to the state.
As a socialist working in the voluntary sector, I presume Paul is writing of Sinn Féin appealing to the do-gooder poverty industry, just as the Women's Coalition appeals to a certain type. In doing this and if this is the third way for Sinn Fein, it as a party is divorced from any ideology posing as an alternative to capitalism.
There is always contradiction in capitalism, whether regulated or not. The Ireland of Equals bringing communities together is the language of Blair. It is only ten years ago that Blair used this language as the basis to denude Labour of any ideology, making it redundant territory for socialists to operate within.
In reference to the apprentices who referred to themselves as middle class, I countenance that, according to Marxist scientific analysis, the two apprentices, given their relationship to the means of production, are working class whether they like it or not.
Nelson Mandela's recent visit was only the second time that this great statesman visited our island and it turned out to be a memorable occasion. On the Friday Mr Mandela was presented with an honourary doctorate at NUI Galway and I was one of the lucky few to catch a glimpse of this living legend.
However on that weekend of supposed hope and liberation, which was encapsulated with the arrival of the Olympic 'flame of hope', I noted many glaring hypocricies.
The large hall at NUIG, where Mr Mandela was conferred, was an invite only affair. Many Fine Gaelers from local politics gained tickets as well as the great champagne socialist and leader of the Labour Party, Mr Pat Rabbitte. Many unionist and anti-republican academics were also in attendance. However is it not these particular groupings of people that would have referred to Mr Mandela as nothing more than a terrorist 30 years ago?
On Saturday evening, the Olympic 'flame of hope' was carried into Croker amid much flair and jubilation. Mr Mandela in his speech referred to the flame as a symbol of hope for the minorities in society and the many people who suffer oppresion of any sort all over the world. I just found it a tiny bit ironic that this great symbol of hope was escorted to the stadium in a joint operation between the Garda Síochána and the RUC/PSNI.
NUI Galway Sinn Féin
The GM debate
It is good to see you paper giving coverage to the GM issue. Here in the US over 90% of the population want choice and labeling on GM products. Corporate imperialism is destroying America's democracy, and we need the whole world to stand up to this issue.
There is a very good web site in the US called "Our Stolen Future", that deals with this and pesticide issues. I enjoy the perspective that An Phoblacht gives to many of the issues I am interested in as a biologist and environmentalist.
Cody, Wyoming, USA