Tuesday, 22 April 2014


What need you, being come to sense
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For man was born to pray and save;
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave
When the war of independence was over, and the Irish bourgeoisie had seized control over the popular mass movement, divided and suppressed it, and assured their own rule behind legal and religious walls, then in safety they indulged themselves, not noticing the incongruities Yeats pointed to so bitterly.
Fifty years or so it lasted. And then the North blew up. The official Catholic-Irish myth had it that “the North” was just a matter of British imperialism and “British-occupied” Ireland, nothing to do with the other Irish bourgeoisie, the one enmeshed in the collapsing myths of the British Empire, and the farmers and workers from the north who followed them. It had no grip on reality. Neither had the Irish bourgeoisie. Their interest in Northern Ireland collapsed, and so did their myths.
Perhaps the moment of sobering up came in 1970 when Prime Minister Jack Lynch put two of his Cabinet ministers, Charles J Haughey and an Army officer, Captain Kelly, on trial for “gun-running” to the beleaguered Northern Catholics! According to the Constitution Lynch was pledged to defend, the Six Counties was part of his government’s “national territory” But Lynch didn’t believe it. They Irish bourgeoisie didn’t either. Like the sobered adolescent whose day-dreaming has brought him close to disaster, they turned tail and extravagantly repudiated their former view of themselves. Now Romantic Ireland really was dead and gone. It has been succeeded by an age of the cold revision of history. Like pikes and guns, in the old song mocking British pretensions in Ireland, heroes such as Pearse and Connolly had been found to be dangerous things. They were cut down to size.
The Irish bourgeoisie has finally adapted to reality! From Pearse and Connolly to the grasping millionaire C Haughey, son of Catholic refugees driven south by pogromists in the early 20s and his rival, Fine Gael understudy blue-shirt John Bruton, that is the history of the Irish bourgeoisie in a nutshell! It is a long, long way down and the forthcoming McGuinness 2016 Easter’s commemoration service will sum it up nicely.Like the Irish bourgeoisie for so long, many Irish socialists have lived for decades in a world of inappropriate myth and misunderstood reality. That too has collapsed. In Ireland, those who know what Pearse and Connolly and the Fenians and their predecessors really stood for will disentangle it from the bourgeois collapse, as they disentangled it from the grotesque parodies of it the bourgeoisie used to brandish.
And in the world of international revolutionaries who will disentangle working class liberation from Stalinist and other myths, fantasies and alien ideological encrustations. We will continue to do now, when so much has collapsed, what we did in the days when all sorts of freaks and horrors paraded around the world eagerly proclaiming their own horrible deeds to be the saviour of the people of no property. In both cases the collapse of the debilitating and imprisoning myths and fantasies is good because the way is thereby cleared for the truth.

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