Gerry Ruddy-Ireland:Acts of War?
Acts of War?<http://ireland.marxist.com/ireland/north-of-ireland/8582-acts-of-war>
DetailsCreated on Sunday, 11 November 2012 23:14Written by Gerry Ruddy
The recent killing of a prison warden from Maghaberry prison by as yet
unknown republican grouping has sent shock waves through the body politic.
Many had assumed that as a result of the outpourings of both the Good
Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement the days of violence were
Sadly that is not true. No one with any sense of humanity in them can take
pleasure in the deliberate killing of a fellow human being. As we approach
the anniversary of the ending of the First World War, celebrated with
chauvinistic glee by the British ruling classes, we should never forget the
horrors of war, the savage slaughter of millions and the glorification of
the "nation" and the demonisation of the enemy.
"*all warfare is inhuman, all warfare is barbaric; the first blast of the
bugles of war ever sounds for the time being the funeral knell of human
But despite the experiences of the horrors of war there are sadly those who
still wallow in the glorification of war and the use of violence against
their perceived enemies. A quick search of the web will produce discussion
sites where juvenile comments are made about enemies, comments that reveal
a lack of understanding of the consequences of war, of the dehumanising
effects of hatred and a glorification in killing.
*Some current political hostages*
The mainstream media have speculated that the killing of the prison warder
arose directly from the consequences of the current prison protest. There
is a dirty protest taking place from protesting republican prisoners. They
are protesting against strip searching and claim that the prison
authorities reneged on a agreement reached 18 months ago.
But then questions have to be asked- will the killing of the warden advance
the cause of the prisoners, will it bring an end to the protest-will it
force the prison authorities and the Stormont Administration to concede to
the prisoners demands?
*Carl Von Clausewitz*
A famous military
"*War is the continuation of Politik by other means"*
So what are or were the politics behind the killing?
Two days after that event there was a march in Dublin calling for the
release of Marian Price organised by the Free Marian Price Campaign. While
there was a ban on party banners the march was in itself political. It was
exposing the vindictive nature of the British Government, exposing the
selective internment of those who reject the pacification programmes of the
Government, explicit in the outpourings of the Good Friday Agreement and
the St Andrews Agreement. But there were only about 450 people on the march
and one of the speakers, Clare Daly <http://www.claredaly.ie/> formerly of
the Socialist Party and still in the moribund United Left Alliance felt
that she had to mention the killing of the Prison Warden and condemn it.
She was she said a supporter of human rights and that included the human
rights of Marian and David Black.
Her attendance at the march and her decision to speak was, particularly
given her long background in the Socialist Party,-*(for long perceived as
having an anti-republican and a pro-loyalist agenda) * a politically
significant step. We, in the Red Plough have long argued that the failure
of the "left" to engage with republicanism was and still is, a mistake. So
here was a minor break through. Sadly many who would have been on the march
probably stayed away because of the killing.
So we would argue that the killing far from advancing a mass struggle
outside the jail in support of political prisoners has on the contrary set
back any serious efforts to garner support from a wide cross section of
The struggle in the prison has been ongoing for a long time. There have
been efforts to resolve that situation also for a long time. Talks in the
background had been taking place to reach a settlement.
In the light of the killing does anyone seriously think that the situation
will be resolved sooner or later? Will the killing of one prison warder, or
the killing of ten make any difference to British policy? On the contrary
it will only harden<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-foyle-west-20265321>
resolve. Indeed one would think that perhaps that was the intent behind
the armed action.
Perhaps there are people out there who think a movement can be built on the
backs of the prisoners struggles and sacrifices? If so they are sadly
deluded. The history of prison protests shows that only on very few
occasions did the people on the outside give mass support to the prisoners
and go on to build a mass movement. Those were in the aftermath of the
1916 uprising and the 1981 hunger strikes. Within 10 years following 1916
a mass movement was destroyed, Ireland was partitioned, thousands of
republicans were jailed and the republican movement all but destroyed. And
British Imperialism still ruled Ireland.
10 republican prisoners died on hunger strike in 1981. Their deaths
propelled Provisional Sinn Fein into electoral prominence. They, PSF, then
went on to negotiate away the political concession wrung from the Brits, in
exchange for power sharing and the baubles of office. Despite having the
most effective guerrilla army in Europe the Provo armed struggle failed
miserably. The Republican armed struggle was defeated. The Republican
political struggle only ended up with an even more entrenched sectarian
state than before. Yes, Republicans are serving in a British run
administration but that won't make a basic bit of differences to the lives
of the working classes whether catholic or protestant. And British
imperialism still rules in Ireland.
So it is hard to see the politics behind the current armed actions of
republican groups. That is other than a mere longing for a United Ireland.
There is little united actions among republicans to bring masses onto the
streets. There are few signs of reaching out tot he working classes.
Instead what comes across is an elitist arrogance that only they, and they
alone, know what is good for the people of ireland. In that they are no
different from the leaderships of both administrations on the isle of
*"We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true
political instrument, <http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz> a
continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What
remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means."*
Where is the political intercourse? We see little or no evidence of it. It
seems that the end is armed struggle as if that in itself is enough. Or is
there a thought that a torch can be passed onto future generations so that
they can rise from the flames and initial an armed struggle that can
achieve republican goals?
Was it for this that Wolfe Tone wrote,
"To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the
connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political
evils and to assert the independence of my country- these were my
objectives. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of
all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in
place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter - these
were my means."-
Where is "*means"*today in armed actions.
Will it unite *"**the whole people of Ireland*"?
Will it "*abolish the memory of all past dissensions,"?*
it "*substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations
of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter "?*
Furthermore there is little evidence of objectives such as
*"subvert the tyranny of our execrable government," *
*"break the connection with England" *
*"as**sert the independence of my country"*
Sadly the road some republicans are walking down is a road to death, jail
and political oblivion. It is not the road to either a United Ireland or
a Socialist Republic? When in the light of past failures down a particular
road, one keeps going down that road then surely it is time to pack it in.
There is however another road. However it is not a road for elitists, not a
road for self appointed "leaderships" nor a road for those who "tax" drug
dealers (*thereby legitimising and licensing drug dealing)* nor a road for
those who are
* "known as a �physical force party�
a party, that is to say, whose members are united upon no one point, and
agree upon no single principle, except upon the use of physical force as
the sole means of settling the dispute between the people of this country
and the governing power of Great Britain.
*The latter-day high falutin� �hillside� man, on the other hand, exalts
into a principle that which the revolutionsists of other countries have
looked upon as a weapon, and in his gatherings prohibits all discussion of
those principles which formed the main "strength of his prototypes
elsewhere and made the successful use of that weapon possible.*
That other road is one that requires patience, persistence and political
struggle. It is the road of class struggle. It is the road to socialism and
it is a road that neither elevates any method of struggle as a principle
nor dismisses any method of struggle. The building of an alternative to
what now exists in both parts of Ireland has no short cuts. The existing
leaderships of the current radical socialist and republican groupings face
a huge responsibility of leadership in these times. Are they capable of
leading or are they just content to follow the course of least resistance?
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