The common turn of phrase ‘we have to move with the times’ has never been as appropriate as it is today. I think most can agree with the point that there has been a genuine and startling stagnation of revolutionary fervour and momentum in Ireland from the Good Friday Agreement onwards. In the 1970’s up and until the early 1990’s revolutionary parties and groupings were well placed and vital corner-stones to the progression of Irish freedom and culture, precisely because such policies and actions resonated overwhelmingly with the feeling of a large portion of the Irish people, who were in need of a vanguard to protect themselves from what was overt oppression and a blatant attack on what it means to be Irish.
Thanks to the efforts and sacrifices made by many revolutionaries across all facets of Irish nationalism and republicanism today our pride and heritage has been restored, and such efforts will always be remembered and revered in song and story. Yet for the most part revolutionary mandates and thinkings of the past simply do they resonate with the current praxis, thinking and desires of the Irish people today. This is not to say that there is no longer a place for revolutionary politics in Ireland but the map is no longer the territory and the battle lines have changed to the point of imperceptibility. Therefore there has been an inherent failure to adapt revolutionary thinking accordingly.
The fact of the matter is that there is no longer a need nor a thirst for militancy by the overwhelming majority in Ireland. Unfortunately those in revolutionary circles are siloed and entrenched in thinking that harks back 30 plus years which is symptomatic of ‘group think’ culminating in a failure to engage in genuine dialogue with ordinary Irish people, across all class divides both North and South. The salt of the earth has been neglected and ignored. Truth be told the main body of Irish people will unlikely accept tenets of socialism, Marxism or communism by mere fact that such ideologies do not align with Irish culture and spirit that is deeply rooted in ancient Celtic tradition. In addition, the main body of Irish people are uninterested in politics and are completely averse to becoming involved in political parties or groupings precisely because there is longer ia clear-cut cause that can be articulated. There is also a vast array of political groupings each having a vast diversification in objectives and each unwilling to let their guard down and work together. Indeed, the boundaries and definitions of a cause have been blurred and eroded to such an extent that groupings are more concerned with protecting an out-dated image of themselves and in only looking after their own at all costs. Consequently, the control of membership coupled with a deep obsession into the monitoring of the private lives of party members takes precedence over the task at hand, and as such any real political progress is lost.
To conclude, for revolutionary politics to succeed parties need to open the castle gates and cross the moat and be prepared to face criticism and to give the ordinary people their say and their right to inclusivity in all matters. It can be argued that a consequence of such failings is the civil unrest and riots witnessed in Belfast this year by a populous that is rudderless and devoid of meaning and direction. There must be a positive feedback loop between the people and public representatives, with a willingness to let go of the desire to protect an image that in reality only resembles a mirage in a desert.
~ G McK