Tag Archives: nationalism

Martin McGuinness R.I.P.

“The terrorist is always the one with the smaller bomb.”

– Brendan Behan

Today is not the day for long obituaries or to debate the pros and cons of the peace process, nor is it the time (as the British media have done all day long) to wheel out opponents of the IRA to dance on the memory of the leader of Irish nationalism.

TAL Fanzine has its views on all of the  political twists and turns that have taken place as a result of the eternal peace process. However, on this day, we send our sincere condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Martin McGuinness.

May he rest in peace.

Socialism and Nationalism

James Connolly Monument, Dublin, Ireland.
James Connolly Monument, Dublin, Ireland.

By James Connolly


From Shan Van Vocht, January 1897


In Ireland at the present time there are at work a variety of agencies seeking to preserve the national sentiment in the hearts of the people.

These agencies, whether Irish Language movements, Literary Societies or Commemoration Committees, are undoubtedly doing a work of lasting benefit to this country in helping to save from extinction the precious racial and national history, language and characteristics of our people.

Nevertheless, there is a danger that by too strict an adherence to their present methods of propaganda, and consequent neglect of vital living issues, they may only succeed in stereotyping our historical studies into a worship of the past, or crystallising nationalism into a tradition – glorious and heroic indeed, but still only a tradition.

Now traditions may, and frequently do, provide materials for a glorious martyrdom, but can never be strong enough to ride the storm of a successful revolution.

If the national movement of our day is not merely to re-enact the old sad tragedies of our past history, it must show itself capable of rising to the exigencies of the moment.

It must demonstrate to the people of Ireland that our nationalism is not merely a morbid idealising of the past, but is also capable of formulating a distinct and definite answer to the problems of the present and a political and economic creed capable of adjustment to the wants of the future.

This concrete political and social ideal will best be supplied, I believe, by the frank acceptance on the part of all earnest nationalists of The Republic as their goal.

Not a Republic, as in France, where a capitalist monarchy with an elective head parodies the constitutional abortions of England, and in open alliance with the Muscovite despotism brazenly flaunts its apostasy to the traditions of the Revolution.

Not a Republic as in the United States, where the power of the purse has established a new tyranny under the forms of freedom; where, one hundred years after the feet of the last British red-coat polluted the streets of Boston, British landlords and financiers impose upon American citizens a servitude compared with which the tax of pre-Revolution days was a mere trifle.

No! The Republic I would wish our fellow-countrymen to set before them as their ideal should be of such a character that the mere mention of its name would at all times serve as a beacon-light to the oppressed of every land, at all times holding forth promise of freedom and plenteousness as the reward of their efforts on its behalf.

To the tenant farmer, ground between landlordism on the one hand and American competition on the other, as between the upper and the nether millstone; to the wage-workers in the towns, suffering from the exactions of the slave-driving capitalist to the agricultural labourer, toiling away his life for a wage barely sufficient to keep body and soul together; in fact to every one of the toiling millions upon whose misery the outwardly-splendid fabric of our modern civilisation is reared, the Irish Republic might be made a word to conjure with – a rallying point for the disaffected, a haven for the oppressed, a point of departure for the Socialist, enthusiastic in the cause of human freedom.

This linking together of our national aspirations with the hopes of the men and women who have raised the standard of revolt against that system of capitalism and landlordism, of which the British Empire is the most aggressive type and resolute defender, should not, in any sense, import an element of discord into the ranks of earnest nationalists, and would serve to place us in touch with fresh reservoirs of moral and physical strength sufficient to lift the cause of Ireland to a more commanding position than it has occupied since the day of Benburb.

It may be pleaded that the ideal of a Socialist Republic, implying, as it does, a complete political and economic revolution would be sure to alienate all our middle-class and aristocratic supporters, who would dread the loss of their property and privileges.

What does this objection mean? That we must conciliate the privileged classes in Ireland!

But you can only disarm their hostility by assuring them that in a free Ireland their ‘privileges’ will not be interfered with. That is to say,  you must guarantee that when Ireland is free of foreign domination, the green-coated Irish soldiers will guard the fraudulent gains of capitalist and landlord from ‘the thin hands of the poor’ just as remorselessly and just as effectually as the scarlet-coated emissaries of England do today.

On no other basis will the classes unite with you. Do you expect the masses to fight for this ideal?

When you talk of freeing Ireland, do you only mean the chemical elements which compose the soil of Ireland? Or is it the Irish people you mean? If the latter, from what do you propose to free them? From the rule of England?

But all systems of political administration or governmental machinery are but the reflex of the economic forms which underlie them.

English rule in England is but the symbol of the fact that English conquerors in the past forced upon this country a property system founded upon spoliation, fraud and murder: that, as the present-day exercise of the ‘rights of property’ so originated involves the continual practice of legalised spoliation and fraud, English rule is found to be the most suitable form of government by which the spoliation can be protected, and an English army the most pliant tool with which to execute judicial murder when the fears of the propertied classes demand it.

The Socialist who would destroy, root and branch, the whole brutally materialistic system of civilisation, which like the English language we have adopted as our own, is, I hold, a far more deadly foe to English rule and tutelage, than the superficial thinker who imagines it possible to reconcile Irish freedom with those insidious but disastrous forms of economic subjection – landlord tyranny, capitalist fraud and unclean usury; baneful fruits of the Norman Conquest, the unholy trinity, of which Strongbow and Diarmuid MacMurchadha – Norman thief and Irish traitor – were the fitting precursors and apostles.

If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.

England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.

England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that Freedom whose cause you had betrayed.

Nationalism without Socialism – without a reorganisation of society on the basis of a broader and more developed form of that common property which underlay the social structure of Ancient Erin – is only national recreancy.

It would be tantamount to a public declaration that our oppressors had so far succeeded in inoculating us with their perverted conceptions of justice and morality that we had finally decided to accept those conceptions as our own, and no longer needed an alien army to force them upon us.

As a Socialist I am prepared to do all one man can do to achieve for our motherland her rightful heritage – independence; but if you ask me to abate one jot or tittle of the claims of social justice, in order to conciliate the privileged classes, then I must decline.

Such action would be neither honourable nor feasible. Let us never forget that he never reaches Heaven who marches thither in the company of the Devil.

Let us openly proclaim our faith: the logic of events is with us.

Filling The Vacuum – 20 Years On…

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In the aftermath of another Tory election victory and the very real prospect of the break-up of the UK state as a result of the sweeping victory of the SNP in Scotland, which took 56 out of 59 seats, it is perhaps appropriate to revisit the position put forward by Red Action members within Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), some 20 years ago. This 1995 document – Filling The Vacuum – followed the BNP’s decision to abandon the streets. The document addressed the changing nature of the British far-right and the BNP’s abandonment of the street fighting strategy in favour of electoralism in particular.  Today, in England, the name of the BNP might just as easily be replaced with that of UKIP and C18 replaced with that of the EDL, but the same tactics apply in terms of the need to build at a grassroots level in order to challenge the ideas of reaction in working class communities. The arguments contained in this document, discussed internally in AFA branches, led to the creation of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA)

In November 1990, at a public meeting in east London, AFA declared that the “working class is the natural constituency of socialism, not fascism. Racism and socialism are incompatible. One only exists at the expense of the other. The success of the Far-Right is due to the fact that the Left are not seen as a credible option. AFA are committed to creating the space in which one (a credible alternative} can develop.”

Three years later, addressing a meeting in south-east London, an AFA spokesperson returned to the theme: “While the initial aim must be to root out the organised racists/fascists ­the motive force behind the attacks – and throw down a challenge to those that provide them with facilities, the long-term solution must be to create communities of resistance. By creating some space, perhaps in time a real working class alternative to the lying bullshit that now passes for politics in this country can emerge. The entire Left has failed the working class, black and white alike, though many prefer to believe that the working class has failed the Left. We are here today, not only because they (the Left) are bad socialists but more specifically because they are bad anti­fascists”.

In 1994 in a widely distributed expose of the Anti-Nazi League [Don’t Believe the Hype], AFA was even more specific. “The BNP can be stopped and on many occasions up and down the country AFA has physically stopped them. However we are not blind to the fact that the fight is political, and accept that the resurgence of support for the Far-Right is a symptom of a deeper malaise. We do not see it as our job to campaign for Labour. It is not AFA’s role to argue that change is not needed. The function of anti-fascism is not to see the electoral threat from the Far-Right beaten back so that Labour and the middle-class Left can, as happened between 1982-92, turn their backs on both the social causes and their own collaboration in the political betrayal that gave rise to the NF and the BNP in the first place.”

The ambition of militant anti-fascism is not simply to see the Far-Right defeated and removed from working class areas: the ultimate solution is to see them replaced there. The BNP’s attack on Labour is from the Right and is racist, ultra-conservative and anti-working class, Our primary role is to guarantee that a successful challenge to Labour comes only from the Left. Furthermore, and purely from an anti-fascist point of view, as the best insurance against any nazi renaissance, it would be the duty of militants to offer protection and encouragement to any genuine [anti-­Labour] working class revolt.

When AFA was relaunched in London in September 1989 it was accepted that while AFA was still organised around the single issue of anti-fascism, “AFA propaganda must contain a class message” in order “to negate the efforts by the fascists to present AFA as a bunch of middle-class outsiders, part and parcel of the Establishment, working in the long-term interests of the status quo”.

Much has changed since 1989, not least the fact that AFA is now a national organisation with over forty branches organised in four main regions each with the physical ability to forcefully implement AFA’s founding statement on the streets. In addition other organisations such as the ANL, ARA and YRE have jumped on – and off – the bandwagon.

The early nineties also saw the return to electoral prominence of the Far-Right not just in Britain but throughout Europe. The success of AFA on the streets also led to the birth of the wannabe paramilitary grouping C18.

In another tribute to AFA’s militant strategy the BNP declared in April 1994 that there would be “no more marches, meetings, punch-ups “ A year on, this declaration must now be regarded as a serious change of strategy, something other than a temporary electoral ploy or an effort to court respectability. There appear to be at least two crucial reasons for the change of strategy. One, undoubtedly, is that since their resur­gence to national prominence, AFA have fought the BNP to a standstill.

In 1991, Scotland was regarded by the BNP leadership as its highest growth area and the area with possibly the greatest potential. Today the BNP no longer visibly exists. Literally beaten into the ground by anti-fascist militants.

In the North West the BNP organisation and morale has all but been destroyed. A similar pattern is emerging in the Midlands. In the South East the fascists have been constantly harassed. Apart from the east and possibly south east they are practically invisible in London.

In many of these areas the politics of the BNP undoubtedly have a resonance, but they are unable to take advantage of the latent support due to the logistical problems caused by the constant possibility of attack and their own profile as ‘a party of strength’. One way to resolve the problem would be to recruit, but they cannot have open recruitment for fear of infiltration. In addition the fear of physical violence means that they are unable to bring their more articulate middle class supporters onto the streets for fear of losing them entirely.

The situation in Europe would also have played an influence. Here the fascists, particularly in Austria and Italy, have recognised that with the demise of the support for the communist parties there is no need for a visibly menacing counter threat. If there is no physical danger, fascists do not need to hide behind a sinister private army. The battle for control of the streets need not be fought if control is not being contested. If the end can be achieved without the traditional means there is no need for the rough stuff. In Britain, with the absence of any tangible political threat to their adopted working class constituency the argument for a physical force movement to contest the streets becomes not only void but instead represents a serious impediment to their own political ambitions – only!

Since their meteoric climb in 1990 in not one area of the country, despite significant sympathy on the ground, have they for more than one day at a time been able to control the streets; Bermondsey, Bloody Sunday and the Isle of Dogs being the exceptions. More often than not in regard to the large set pieces they have been humiliated. And even when they have won, the victory has gained them nothing except a confirmation of what already sustains them; that Labour and the Left are increasingly alien to working class people. So in a sense for them simply to continue with the strategy of “marches, meetings, punch ups” only provides an enemy that has already lost the fundamental arguments – Labour/ANL/Trotskyism, etc. (or in the case of AFA which has failed to put an argument) – with a legitimate political excuse/focus, ie: anti-BNP. The BNP policy of open swaggering aggression also affords an organisation like AFA a legitimate opportunity to answer in kind, and in doing so physically destroy the BNP’s political prospects by crippling its infra-structure. With AFA having no polltical prospects of its own they are on a hiding to nothing.

It takes two to tango, so what of AFA’s reason for being if the BNP decide that they don’t want to play anymore? Certainly in London, AFA has only been able to seriously damage the Far-Right once recently. If this is a permanent change of plan there is a serious danger that AFA, without the physical challenge for which it was designed, will itself begin to lose direction and begin to atrophy.

The flip side of the coin is that C18, who have no electoral ambitions either, don’t do anything but ‘play’. The ideal solution for both the State and the Far-Right would be for AFA to get locked into a clandestine gang war with C18, thereby allowing the State to select candidates of their own choosing for periods of lengthy incarceration. That done, the now entirely legal BNP could go about their lawful business like their European counter­parts, articulating ‘genuine racial concerns’ unhindered.

Furthermore, if the BNP operation is made entirely legal and if AFA physically opposes them, then our operation is de facto illegal. The BNP then might reasonably expect, in return for their collaboration with the forces of law and order, that the tactic of summary arrest be employed against AFA on a consistent basis. Circumstances are changing and AFA needs to adapt.

Fascism is the vanguard of reaction. It is at once the manifestation, the contributory cause and principle beneficiary of society’s decomposition. Unlike the rest of the anti-racist Left, AFA’s emphasis has always been on the political danger represented by fascism, while others such as Searchlight and the ANL have laid the emphasis on their violent and criminal tendencies. In addition they refuse or are unwilling to recognise that anti-fascism is by definition a rearguard action and that fascism is the consequence, rather than the cause, of the Left’s failure. Inevitably the strategies adopted to combat fascism carry with them the germs of the strategies that caused fascism, invariably leading to compound failure. So while it cannot be denied that the ANL’s media campaign focused public attention on the problem, it also proved to be a distraction in regard to the solution.

One of AFA’s strengths in its formative years was its limited platform; the ‘single issue’. This concentration weeded out or repelled the sectarians, the ‘tough talkers’ and the dilettantes. However, during the Isle of Dogs campaign, the ‘single issue’ exposed AFA’s limitations. AFA had to nothing to say on the principle business.

AFA has long recognised that once the Far-Right is allowed to mobilise, is allowed to set the agenda, and has passed a certain point, they begin to control their own destinies – and their opponent’s. Once that point is reached it would be useless and possibly counter-productive to rely upon a purely anti-fascist stance, primarily because people look to politics for solutions. It might be clear what you stand against, though their understanding of what you stand for will effectively determine their overall response.

As the activities of the ANL on the Isle of Dogs demonstrated (despite blanket canvassing the BNP vote actually rose by 30%), an anti-fascist message on its own would find little favour with working class people, even those repelled by the BNP, if they suspected that it was simply a spoiling tactic, carried out by allies of the local Labour establishment in an effort to maintain the status quo. AFA has never fought to maintain the status quo, but, even at their most effective, anti­fascist militants can never hope to achieve anything more than to maintain that vacuum. There is little doubt that the vacuum has been successfully maintained but now, in the absence of any other suitable candidates, it is incumbent on the anti-fascist militants to help fill the vacuum themselves.

The working class is increasingly alienated from Labour, the BNP’s strategy is entirely reliant upon this alienation: ‘they really hate Labour’ etc. The total ineptitude and the tangible contempt that exists in some areas between Labour and its former constituency has locally and nationally begat the BNP. And fascism begat anti-fascism. In straight­forward language, it is the politics of the Labour Party that has created the BNP.  So by acting as campaign managers for Labour, the ANL are are prostituting anti-fascism, and instead of being identified with a radical, pro-working class position, anti-fascism is seen to be defending the status quo, thereby practi­cally forcing people who want change to vote BNP, out of sheer desperation. They are literally driving people into the arms of the fascists. Up to now it is entirely due to the cutting edge of AFA that the passive support has remained just that. But it is unrealistic to expect that vacuum to be maintained indefinitely.

Nor as working class militant anti-fascists can we stand on the sidelines, wringing our hands hopelessly. We have to take a stand. And we have to take that stand against Labour. Not simply in a theoretical sense, but in an organisational sense. It is vital that the working class on the estates, seriously alienated from Labour, are provided with an alternative to the BNP.  The election of a Labour government will be a massive shot in the arm for the Far-Right. It is also very possible that in the subsequent local elections the Isle of Dogs scenario could be repeated on a national scale, and all our good work in the last decade would be undone at a stroke.

What is needed is a new organisation. In all probability the impetus of the Clause Four controversy will cause a realignment on the Left that will give it birth. It is not being suggested that AFA disband and become this organisation. It is as vital as ever, that AFA maintains its own structures and agenda. Nor is it being suggested that AFA create this new organisation. This would hardly be possible in any case. What must be recognised is that it will happen with or without AFA. AFA contains the best working class militants in the country.  It is absolutely vital that in order to shape the organisation in its own image,  AFA is in from the very beginning.

To shape it in AFA’s own image would mean stipulating from the outset that it be:

a) a democratic structure, built from the bottom up rather than from the top down;

b) rather than appeal to a mythical ‘labour movement’ the strategy requires an orientation to, and an accommodation of, the working class proper;

c) non-sectarian. This does not mean being forced to work with everybody; it means working alongside others towards a common goal, but making no apology for a refusal to collaborate on any project for which you have no enthusiasm, or with those with whom you fundamentally disagree.

In any case it must be obvious that to stand aloof would be an unmitigated disaster. That would allow the middle classes once again to set the agenda. AFA has been dealing with the consequences of their agenda for over a decade. It would be criminally negligent to allow our adversaries to fill the space we have created and maintained in that time. This is an opportunity to add a string to AFA’s bow. It will be a complement to, rather than a deviation from, vigorous anti-fascist activity.

Even on a limited tactical basis the benefits of an independent working class organisation operating alongside AFA would be immediate and widespread. AFA could, for the first time, campaign for something instead of merely campaigning against something – and campaign legally.

AFA could be pro-active as well as reactive. There would be no breathing space for the likes of the BNP. And, for as much as an embryonic association might welcome AFA’s physical presence, the situation demands that AFA avails itself of a wider political platform than was hitherto considered either necessary or available. For the first time since the thirties militant anti-fascism would be associated with solutions rather than simply violent actions and threats.’ For the first time, too, involved with setting the agenda rather than clearing up the political mess left by someone else.

Ultimately the challenge for AFA is not only to destroy the BNP in working class areas but to replace them there. So the political message, to have resonance, will have to be deeper and more comprehensive. A straight forward anti­fascist parable, a simple refutation of the ‘radical’ in nationalism will, on its own, prove unsatisfactory.

If AFA’s efforts are to culminate in victory we must seek to replace them, but to replace them we must not only out­-violence them, we must also out-radicalise them.

 

[original note which accompanied the article:] This article is a strategy document that was endorsed by London AFA in May 1995. It is currently being discussed by other AFA groups around the country, and has already been agreed by the Midlands Region and the Northern Network. Discussions are taking place with other organisations with regard to setting up an independent working class organisation.

Irish Republicanism and the Politics of Identity

adams02

By HAL (@michael_hal)

At the recent Sinn Fein Ard Fheis Gerry Adams outlined the party’s future strategy in his Presidential address to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2013.

Sinn Fein’s plans centre on a campaign for a Border Poll which is the continuation of the party’s strategy of electoralism. Electioneering or canvassing in pursuit of the objective of a United Ireland has replaced the assertion of the right of national self-determination for the Irish people. Such a strategy reduces the demand for national self-determination to a whim.

The Good Friday Agreement put a qualified distance between Westminster and ‘the province’. A key concept enshrined in the GFA is ‘parity of esteem’ for the ‘two traditions’ in Northern Ireland. “Parity of esteem” is a deliberately nebulous concept. Surely ‘esteem’ emanates from within and cannot be bestowed externally by state agencies? But both republicans and loyalists have bought into the politics of cultural diversity and respecting traditions.

In essence the ‘peace process’ provided a framework that offered a way out for protagonists who were exhausted by the length of a conflict that had no end in sight. The new dispensation is a far cry from national self-determination. The issue of sovereignty is no longer debated with any vigour. Republicanism was an ideology that sought to transcend sectarian differences. Present day Irish republicans are enmeshed in a political system that perpetuates such differences.

However, in the absence of any practical alternative to Sinn Fein’s strategy and given the utter exhaustion of physical force republicanism it is perhaps time to conduct a debate on what Irish unity and self-determination mean today. Historically ideologically driven nationalism was linked to state formation. In his 1862 essay on ‘Nationality’ the English historian Lord Acton observed that: “The new idea of freedom made room for different races in one State… A nation was… a moral and political being; not the creation of geographical or physiological unity, but developed in the course of history by the action of the State. It is derived from the State, not supreme over it.” Ireland by that measure is a nation without a State. There is no unitary Irish state that encapsulates or embodies the will of the Irish nation.

Following the French Revolution in 1789 the ideal of citizenship was not based on race or ethnicity. Any individual born in France had the right to French citizenship. In Ireland the idea of one state for Catholics, nationalists and republicans and another for Protestants, unionists and loyalists represents the antithesis of statehood and citizenship. Incidentally this is why the idea of a ‘two state solution’ in Israel/Palestine is also a flawed one. Inclusivity is the hallmark of stable nation states. That is why identity politics which is based by default on competing identities leads to an impasse.

The historian R.F. Foster’s injunction to celebrate ‘varieties of Irishness’ is a pipe dream in the context of two states riven with antagonism. Both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland are failed entities. Both states cemented and reinforced sectarian divisions. That is why Partition was enacted.

The Free State of De Valera’s making was dominated by clerical and political elites and marked by censorship and nepotism. It offered the majority of its citizens a life of stultifying conformity and poverty or the boat out. Today the Free State is decidedly unfree. It is politically and financially bankrupt with its budget decided upon by EU oligarchs based in Brussels. In the North, the ‘Protestant parliament and a Protestant state’ envisaged by James Craig was a vicious little sectarian regime. This was the ‘carnival of reaction’ predicted by James Connolly. Partition is a blight and needs to be dispensed with, but before that can happen we need to create the political conditions that will bring that day forward.

We need to question the politics of national identity and cultural diversity. The loyalist flags protest is an example of identity politics in action. Identity politics and the politics of cultural diversity results in competing claims and a never ending demand for recognition. It freezes inter-communal relations in a continuous present of mutual distrust and hostility. It is an approach that embeds sectarianism.

Embracing identity politics is misguided. For example many Celtic fans lauded the late Paul McBride QC as one of our own yet he was one of the key instigators of the Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation and as such an authoritarian and illiberal.

It is important not to confuse expressions of national identity and cultural nationalism with assertions of political independence and self-determination. An identity can be adopted or assumed. It is transitory and superficial. Independence is a quality that is hard earned. You are either independent or not. Republican communities traditionally valued their political independence. They were defined by it. It was more than an identity.

State sponsored peace or state brokered institutional arrangements will never meet the needs of the people or match their aspirations. We need to aim higher. It is time to reassert the sovereignty of the people by rejecting dependency on the state. It is possible that in the future Ireland may look to Scotland for an example of an inclusive, independent nation state. The Irish in Scotland can play a leading role in making such a state. It seems clear that, whatever happens, the status quo is no longer an option.

Twitter: @michael_hal

 

Independence: should we stay or should we go?

 

 

republicanyesby Jim Slaven (James Connolly Society)

The referendum campaign in Scotland is well under way and almost all politics is dominated by the 2014 vote. Every political statement and decision is viewed through the prism of the constitutional debate. For Irish republicans in Scotland our position on the referendum is a key political decision. It has an impact on our future strategies in Scotland and in Ireland. Historically the Irish community have been split on support for Scottish independence and this continues to be the case. That is not a reason to shirk away from engagement in the referendum campaign, it merely highlights the need for republicans to take a principled position and show some leadership on this issue.

The British Labour Party and other unionists are engaged in a dreadful campaign promoting fear and confusion within our community. They attempt to conflate support for independence with support for the SNP. This must be challenged on two grounds. Firstly we must remember that when Labour ran Scotland like a one party state for fifty years they did absolutely nothing to combat anti-Irish racism or religious bigotry. They did nothing to improve the material conditions of the Irish community or the working class in Scotland. They did nothing to help those most in need because they were too busy helping themselves. The constitutional status quo offers us more of the same and no more. Republicans have nothing to fear from constitutional change and everything to gain.

Secondly this is not about support for the SNP. This is about self determination. The James Connolly Society have, since our formation over 25 years ago, supported the break-up of the UK state and the establishment of a Scottish Republic. Our members have been involved in various campaigns for Scottish self determination, from Scotland United to the referendum campaign of 1997. We supported the establishment of the Scottish Parliament when the SNP were still opposing it.

In our view it is our responsibility as Irish republicans to support, in practice, the right of nations to determine their own constitutional future. Not just in Ireland but here in Scotland too. The SNP’s plans for Dominion status are dreadful. However there is nobody better placed to offer a radical alternative than republicans aided by our analysis of the UK state and Connolly’s writing on what is now called neo-colonialism. Let me be clear this referendum will not deliver the Scottish republic we seek; it is, however, a necessary, if not sufficient, signpost on the road to the republic.

A Yes vote also opens up new vistas for republicans in a wider context. As Irish republicans who happen to be in Scotland we must also think strategically in an Irish context. The UK state’s continued denial of the Irish people their right to national self determination remains the cause of conflict. The task for republicans is to develop strategies for achieving Irish freedom and establishing the Republic envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation. In order to achieve our republican objectives we must first recognise where the centre of gravity in the struggle lies. The centre of gravity in this struggle lies with the Irish people. It is the Irish people who we must mobilise in a national, bottom up campaign for an all Ireland referendum on a new Republic.

Anyone watching the news coverage of the laughable British Planters poll in Malvinas will recognise that a Planters poll in the occupied Six Counties is not a serious democratic proposition. Only through an all Ireland referendum can the Irish people exercise their right to national self determination without outside interference or impediment. Let me go further by paraphrasing the Greek political theorist Nicos Poulantzas, the Republic will be established democratically or it will not be established at all.

So both in a Scottish and Irish context it is important that republicans in Scotland support a Yes vote in 2014. To stand on the sidelines is to take a side, the wrong side. Working, in Scotland, for an Irish republic but not supporting a Scottish republic is not serious politics. Republicans can and must be the catalyst for change within our communities. We have serious and profound differences with nationalist political parties and with the Yes Scotland campaign but they are not the enemy. The UK state is the enemy of working class people in Scotland and in Ireland. Republicans in Scotland, armed with the analysis of Connolly, MacLean and Sands, must now put that analysis into practice. The 2014 referendum is an opportunity to advance the struggle for freedom and independence in Scotland and Ireland.

Jim Slaven is a member of the James Connolly Society Scotland

Continue the debate on Twitter @JimSlaven