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24 November 2022 Edition

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We must dare to win!

• Chris Hazzard, MP for South Down

Below we carry an edited version of the Ard Fheis adresss by South Down MP Chris Hazzard. He sets out the case for an anti-imperialist, socialist transformation of Ireland

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As the rotten nature of Partition becomes more apparent by the day, there is no doubt that the forces of capitalist continuity are organising to secure their economic interests beyond the current constitutional arrangements.

As republicans, we must resist this slippery path towards convergence and instead champion a transformative economic and ecological vision of the future.

We must recognise that liberal economic orthodoxy will not address the wretchedness of Partition; and with this in mind we must also recognise that parliamentary politics is but one site of struggle - and electoralism a disease too long stitched through the political fabric of the broad spectrum of the Irish Left.

So, we need to nurture the growth of grassroots actors beyond the confines of parliamentary politics in order to effectively challenge the material power of capital outside political institutions.

It is vital then to invest time, energy, and resources in rebuilding the trade union movement, community groups, and rural organisations in order to realise the transformative potential of struggles at the point of production and social reproduction.

To have any chance of success, our efforts must always be rooted in praxis and practical activity. Let Marx remind us always, “Philosophers have interpreted the world, the point however is to change it!”.

In short, we must nurture and lead a grassroots movement aimed at establishing a free and socially just democratic society; a republic of the people, for the people!

But to do so, we must decide what type of republic meets our interests and our needs. What do the traditional republican principles of liberty, freedom, sovereignty, equality, solidarity, and secularism mean for ordinary people today? 

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We must also remember the prophetic words of Lazare Hoche - a General of the French Republic and contemporary of Wolfe Tone - when he warned the United Irishmen that “You cannot make the Republic loved by carrying only sword and flame!”

We must therefore build a transformative movement around the long-established right of the people of Ireland, to the ownership of Ireland and the unfettered control of Irish destiny. A republic of equals, where are laws are made by reason, not landlords, kings, nor priests!

We need to draw the forces of republicanism and socialism closer together - not merely towards a Left campaign against the Partition of our country - but for the social transformation and fulfilment of national liberation in the phase of struggle yet to come.

We need to develop a much better understanding of the nature of the state and the deep roots of imperialism and colonialism in Ireland.

We must also understand that to develop the kind of freedom we want means we will have to control capital and wealth in Ireland - and no longer allow it to control us. We must break away from the social domination of capitalism. We must advance a new system, an eco-socialist order that for the first time ever would ensure an Irish state would submit its external economic relations to the requirements of its internal society.

So, our natural resources would not be the private property of corporations, or individuals - they would be the common wealth of society, all our natural resources harnessed for the common good.

As we stand on the precipice of Climate catastrophe, Irish Republicans must urgently advance a vision that is rooted in decolonisation and decarbonisation, an anti-imperialist, socialist transformation of Ireland.

In the words of our great James Connolly, “There is but one ideal, Ireland ruled and owned by the people, sovereign and independent from the centre to the sea…Our demands most moderate are, we only want the Earth!” 


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