9 September marked the first All-Ireland meeting of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) which met in Dublin. Comrades came from around the country including Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Meath and Limerick, with a comrade attending from the international centre of the IMT, making a total of 15 attendees. Comrades were all filled with a mood of revolutionary enthusiasm, and after a day of political discussions comrades left with heightened spirits, ready to spread the ideas of Marxism and to build the Marxist tendency in Ireland!
Capitalism in crisis
The meeting opened with a discussion on world and Irish perspectives. Capitalism today is in the deepest, longest and most widespread crisis in its history. Ireland is no exception. Ireland’s role as an international base of operations for important multinationals positioned between the US, Europe and Britain means that it is acutely susceptible to the capitalist crisis.
This has been disastrous for Irish workers. The cost of a basket of shopping has risen by 20 percent. Three quarters of workers had to go without heating at some point last winter. Over 12,000 people have been left homeless as rents continue to skyrocket and the prospect of homeownership becomes a distant memory. It’s no wonder that 70 percent of young people are considering emigration!
The economic situation in the North isn’t much better. The Northern statelet was designed by British imperialism to prevent a Catholic majority, but a combination of demographic changes, radicalisation in nationalist communities, and the crisis of the unionist parties which cannot offer anything to working-class people has led to the emergence of Sinn Féin as the region’s biggest party.
With the possibility of Sinn Féin having power North and South of the border, the idea of reunification appears to be back on the table. But the Irish capitalist class is uninterested in unity and incapable of achieving it. Only joint struggle on a class basis of workers Catholic and Protestant, North and South can cut across the sectarian divide, and connected to a programme for a socialist republic can offer something tangible for workers to fight for.
As for the ruling classes of Britain, America and Europe, granting the democratic procedure of a border poll would threaten the stability of the political setup that serves them very well. Thus, they oppose reunification adamantly, with the democratic rights of the Irish people trailing far behind their imperialist interests.
Following behind their masters, the timid Irish ruling class also opposes reunification on the same basis. As James Connolly said: “An Irish Republic, the only purely political change in Ireland worth crossing the street for will never be realised except by a revolutionary party… Such a revolutionary party must be socialist, and from socialism alone can the salvation of Ireland come.”
The Irish Marxists are working towards building such a party on an all-Ireland basis.
Building the Marxist tendency in Ireland
The second session of the day dealt with the building of the Marxist tendency in Ireland. The Irish group has enjoyed important growth over the past year thanks to a consistent approach of building based on a serious attitude towards Marxist theory, and an orientation towards the youth. From just two people meeting via Zoom a little over a year ago, today we have branches in Dublin and Belfast, and the possibility of new branches developing in other towns and cities where we now have a presence, and a second Dublin branch in the near future.
Part of the recent growth can be attributed to the launch of the ‘Are You A Communist’ (AYAC) campaign in Ireland. Over 1,000 have scanned our stickers since June, 30 of whom have signed up to get involved. After our comrades came back from this year’s world congress we quickly adapted the lessons of the International’s experience to our work, and four people joined us in just one week!
The national meeting also saw us celebrating the launch of the second edition of the Marxist Voice! The first edition was a qualitative leap forwards for the organisation, and through the hard work of all comrades we were able to sell 500 copies. With this new issue, we aim to build upon the success of our AYAC campaign and use it to boldly recruit anyone and everyone who buys a paper. [To order your copy of the Marxist Voice, message the Irish Marxists on Instagram.]
The tasks ahead of us now require work to build new recruits into cadres steeled in Marxist theory, whilst continuing to grow. This will require dedication from all of our comrades, but it’s clear from this meeting that all are eager to take on this task. As our comrade said to conclude the session “The working class will rise to the task imposed on them by history, we must also be ready to rise to our historic task”
Alien class ideas
The final session of the day sought to draw a line in the sand between Marxism and the various alien class ideas originating from university campuses that proclaim themselves to be ‘radical’ and new, particularly the ideas of identity politics and postmodernism.
Engels explained that there are three arenas in which the class war is fought: the political and economic struggles, and just as importantly, the theoretical battle for ideas. During the discussion, a sharp line was drawn between our ideas and the trendy petit-bourgeois and bourgeois ideas which have spread among the left through academia.
Fighting to defend the ideas of Marxism against these academic confusions is an essential part of our struggle against capitalism. As Lenin said: “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
In fact, after the defeat of the 1905 revolution in Russia, Lenin wrote a book specifically to combat the intrusion of these academic ideas into the party called ‘Materialism & Empirio-Criticism’. Engels did the same, writing ‘Anti-Dühring’ in response to an academic who believed that he had improved upon Marx’s ideas. We proudly defend the ideas of Marxism which, as proven by the Bolsheviks in 1917, are the only ideas capable of bringing about revolutionary change.
Academic ideas like intersectionality, queer theory, postcolonial theory, and all the rest come from the same postmodern philosophy. Postmodernism rejects the idea that there are any overarching truths about humans and society. Essentially this is a rejection of the scientific analysis which Marxism is based on which shows that society behaves according to historical laws. Postmodernism leaves us only with individual experience and from this perspective it is impossible to understand, never mind change, society. It is therefore as reactionary as any other ideology which undermines the unity and consciousness of the working class and must be fought as diligently.
This first national meeting was an undeniable success. Within a day after the meeting ended, we had four people writing to us to get organised. The first steps towards the building of an Irish section of the IMT have materialised, thanks to the hard work of our comrades and the radicalising effect of a deep crisis of capitalism. But what exists today is only a beginning, for this potential to develop comrades will all have to dedicate themselves to growing the organisation in both quality and quantity. Carrying forwards the energy from this national meeting, the Irish Marxists are ready to smash through all obstacles to building a fighting revolutionary organisation!