The need to reject armed republicanism


Last weeks killing of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr combined with the massive public backlash expressed on various media outlets and rallies has served to strengthen the status-quo and the acceptability of the PSNI. In doing so providing a hostile environment for radical politics to operate in and ‘legitimacy’ to an intensification in intimidation and repression of republicans, their families and dissenters who dares to question the status-quo. Some media commentators suggesting that the booby trap car bomb will do for the PSNI what Bloody Sunday massacre did for the Provisional IRA.

The politics of condemnation is a familiar ritual and convenient smokescreen from the so-called great and good in our society. Iit is these politicians, faceless bureaucrats and clergy who have laid the foundations of sectarianism, inequality and injustice which keep the scars of the past still burning. The actions of those who continue to plant the bombs are just as futile and counter-productive as it the spin and words of wisdom coming from the lips of McGuiness and Robinson. The life of Ronan Kerr is no more equal than the lives of countless of people who have suffered and died at the hands of states and police in Ireland, both North and South and across the world.

As fellow WSM comrade James Mc Barron has already correctly pointed out in an earlier articlearmed struggle in the context of the six counties is a cul-de-sac’ and more importantly ‘Every bomb attack and every shooting allows Martin McGuiness and Peter Robinson off the hook as they are presiding over massive cutbacks and attacks on the working class’.

However I think we need to go further than this, in that it is too simplistic as some elements of republicanism continue to do in blaming the attack on the ‘British occupation’ of Ireland. Part of the problem in these various offshoots of the Provisionals is that they are theologically wedded to armed struggle like fundamentalists are to the bible and represent just as much as threat to any emerging libertarian movement and working-class unity, as they do too innocent civilians who in their language are merely viewed as collateral damage.

Others rightly pointout the dead end of the parliamentary route and there is no alternative, other than armed resistance. Just because there maybe no real alternative in the form of mass working-class resistance at the moment is hardly a plausible explanation from some quarters of armed republicanism and hardly the merits of a successful strategy.

In opposing the state and capitalism as an instrument of class rule and of a hierarchical nature where power and initiative is in the hands of a few, we need to just as actively reject vanguard armed republicanism which seeks to impose its model on the rest of us. Armed republicanism is not anti-statist nor does it challenge the state’s monopoly on violence. It just wants to replace it with a new judge, jury and executioner under the colours of green, white and orange.

Anarchists are quite familiar with the limits of ‘armed actions’ with the spate of assassinations of heads of states during the turn of the 20th century, under very different circumstances and goals and often the last resort as a means of self-defence. However, like ‘dissident republicans’ of today, we were the bogeyman of the 20th century and constantly subjected to smear campaigns and repression.

However, it was not 'spectacular actions' that enabled anarchists to break out of that cul-de-sac but throwing our politics of working class self-emancipation and direct action into the emerging labour movement, setting ourselves the task of nothing less than the complete emancipation of humanity under the umbrella of libertarian communism which represented the greatest threat to the global ruling class.

Building this type of revolutionary movement on the this wee Island will represent more of a threat to the status quo than the targeting of security force personal and a few bombs going off now and than.

In the words of the former libertarian socialist group Solidarity in their pamphlet As We See It!

Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self -activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.

The question those who support armed republicanism needs to ask themselves is whether it aids or harms this process?

WORDS: Sean Matthews