As per usual, over the last week I have attended several commemorations to remember those who gave their lives in pursuit of the Republic. Being the centenary year of the Easter rising these commemorations had a bit more importance. Some were pageantry, some were revisionist, some were militarist, some were counter revolutionary and some failed to deviate from the principles enshrined in the 1916 proclamation. Ultimately each group strived to push their politics to the fore, claim legitimacy over the struggle and claim the mantle of the Republican movement.
For me Easter was met with mixed emotions, joy, hope, optimism but also sadness and disappointment. Despite Republicanism being renowned for its history of splits Republicanism has never been so factionalised and we have never been further from the socialist Republic envisaged by Connolly. This is all thanks to the constitutional nationalists and the once proud Provisional movement. I watched as their leaders pushed past, bullied and eye balled those paying their respects at the D Coy commemoration, shame on them.
The Shinners can pull in the crowds, dress in period costumes and talk about revolution but they are far from revolutionary. They have done more damage to the struggle and set it back just as much as the many counter revolutionaries over the last 100 years, Free Staters and Brits.
I had to prevent myself from throwing up as I watched Free Staters pay lip service to 1916, the same establishment that proudly hung Republicans. I could not believe the volume of people who somehow believed that the Free State commemoration was in some way legitimate or even right.
I also observed commemorations of masked men who spout the same old rhetoric and the same old battle cry. I will never condemn those who view political violence as a means to an end but at this point it is counter-productive to the struggle. Despite being a progressive people we continually repeat history, methods and the same failed politics of the past.
Although there are bars up and down the country full of arm chair republicans and young people who think it is trendy to shout ‘up the RA’ and undoubtedly the IRA exists, and rightfully so, but in this point in our struggle we do not need the IRA or a war. Of course ‘Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’ but does that mean that it is us that continually wage war or do we adapt and change methods to counter the occupier and enhance our struggle in current conditions?
I stood baffled for the call to create a political vehicle that is anti-imperialist, socialist and anti-capitalist. Does that vehicle not already exist? Any political vehicle that emerges from the IRA will be one that is subservient to the army, merely a mouthpiece, is this democratic or a structure that we would wish to establish in the socialist Republic?
Without a doubt a lot of work needs to be done to rebuild the revolutionary movement but a revolutionary political vehicle already exists. A revolutionary body exists that provides an alternative to the constitutional nationalists and the status quo and an alternative to the failed politics of the past. One that does not involve a young person putting on a mask but to be involved in positive community politics, engaged in the socialist republican struggle that organises in the open, engages in debate, self-critique and organises, builds and develops socialist ideals and practices at grassroots and community level.
Only by the building of a radical mass social movement will we begin to deconstruct this state, it will be done in the open and not behind a mask. We need to counter the normalisation strategy and oppression that our people and nation endure but by peaceful means. We need to expose harassment, interment, occupation and corruption but by peaceful means. Surely it is more productive to show the world the ugly face of the coloniser as shown to the world on Bloody Sunday in Derry.
Let’s continue to adapt our thinking, methods and strategy as progressive people. A peaceful revolutionary alternative exists. It is the duty of every socialist republican to find their home and place in the struggle but comrades do not build another, the vehicle already exists. I proudly walked in support of the vehicle on Easter Monday in Belfast.