The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Victory of Ideology

Jerry Pepin • 19 March 2008

It is easy to see why Sinn Fein have joined the grotesque chorus of fawning tribute to the bellowing bigot. Here in the south, Adams' New Sinn Fein, having missed an historic opportunity to make a difference to politics in the Republic during last year's election, have become just another small party with no defining identity or unique appeal. That difference is badly needed. County wexford is a place where FF canvassers throw sweets at children (literally), workers drive round with their bosses political allegiances displayed on placards tied to their vehicles and believe that their boss puts food on their table. Try to explain that its the other way around and they scoff, genuinely bemused by the suggestion. The Celtic Tiger has not been accompanied by any political progression and SF failed to offer a resolute alternative to the corrupt paternalism that passes for politics in this state.

In the north, however, SF's place in the political establishment is well defined. Not as representatives of republicanism, however. That long and honourable tradition has run its course. Each previous occasion of republican rebirth followed a defeat and a period of right- wing consolidation. This time there was no military defeat; there will be no re-birth. The Provisionals have delivered the one thing that the British state, over centuries, could not achieve by force; the willing accommodation of the republican constituency.

What was defeated was the independent thought, the radical ideas, the belief in change and the will to enact it. Ideas that existed not in a vacuum or atomized among disparate individuals but wrapped up in a disciplined, principled and determined organization. An organization that inspired not only its own but millions around the world who could see its potential precisely because it challenged the power of the state.

The place of SF is defined now by the place of the DUP. The opposing role of the British state in defining Irish Republicanism has been replaced for SF by a strong, confident, mainstream DUP. Each need the other, each owe their necessity at the heart of the political establishment to the need for a counter-balance. For SF, the most sectarian, intransigent, right-wing manifestation of unionism serves their interests much better than more moderate voices. SF have made the transition completely; no longer a party existing to promote pre- determined goals but, like every other establishment political party in a liberal democracy, they search for reasons to be. Their policies are chosen to ensure their own success, not because their members hold them to be ideals worth struggling for. As SF institutionalize the wholly artificial division of the north's working class and become strangers to their own political heritage the labels will inevitably deteriorate into the Catholic and Protestant constituencies and, like a stopped clock, the British media will finally be right.

The consolidation of this victory over ideas is ever more apparent as the British capitalist state seeks to copper-fasten the exclusive acceptance of its own ideology. Paisley, in his farewell diatribe, all but repeated his sack-cloth and ashes speech and other unionist commentators later hinted at an agenda concerned with creating public consensus around the view that Republicans were entirely responsible for the war; not calling it a war is just the start of this process. Young people are told that both nationalists and unionists died fighting along side each other in the first world war. War memorials are dusted off and murals painted over.

The irony that a conflict claiming some three thousand lives should be reconciled by the celebration of Irish, British, French, German, Russian and American workers slaughtering each other on an industrial scale will be lost on those promoting this macabre citizenship lesson but the choice is no accident. No-one is proposing the United Irishmen, the 1912 belfast shipyard strikes or the many belfast protestants joining the IRA before the late 60's as a model for unity. This is not the benign restoration of society freed from conflict, it is the carefully orchestrated imposition of the victors' ideology.

In Britain we are far ahead of you along this path of selective history, simplification and falsification. It is impossible, almost a century after the event, to discuss the First World War rationally. You cannot say, outside of the socialist press, that hundreds of thousands of young British men died for no more reason than their generals told them to. You cannot say that for those generals it was simply a matter of winning battles as if they had been at Agincourt or Waterloo or Drogheda. You cannot say that Britain, Germany, France and America were all partial democracies, that there was no way of life or political system at stake for any party to the conflict. You cannot appear on British television on the eleventh of November without wearing a red poppy. To do any of these things invites the tired old jibe of insulting the memory of those who fought for their country. This political correctness of the right is stronger now than at any time previously. The stolen youth of Edwardian Britain are venerated in order that we don't get angry at the monstrous system that required them to be machine-gunned in neat rows for a few yards of mud. And so that, if need be, we will let it happen again.

Paisley is a crude religious fundamentalist who was part of the problem and held the peace process hostage to his own triumph. Saying so isn't a refusal to accept that things have changed, its a refusal to accept that things cannot change.































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles


18 May 2008

Other Articles From This Issue:

This Rock of Republicanism
Anthony McIntyre

A History of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein:
1970-1976; 1976-1986; 1987-2007
Liam O Ruairc

Gerry, Come Clean, You'll Feel Better
Dolours Price

Strategic Failures Leading to Unease
Tommy McKearney

The Victory of Ideology
Jerry Pepin

The Blanket, One Last Time
Anthony McIntyre

In Praise of A Journal of Dissent
Mick Fealty

A Genuine Platform of Free Expression
David Adams

Folding Up The Blanket
Seaghán Ó Murchú

The Death and Burial of The Blanket
Michael Gillespie

History Will Decide
Mick Hall

Thank You
Robert W. White

Tales of the Vam-PIRA
Brian Mór

The Blanket: A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Carrie Twomey


24 February 2008

Fear Dorcha
Anthony McIntyre

An Dorcha
Richard O'Rawe

Brendan Hughes, Comrade and Friend
Dolours Price

Meeting Brendan Hughes, "The Dark", 1948-2008
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Still Unfree
John Kennedy

An Unrepentant Fenian
Martin Galvin

RIP Brendan Hughes: "The Dark"
Mark Hayes

For Darkie
Brian Mór

The Funeral of Brendan Hughes: Setting the Record Straight
Anthony McIntyre

Irish News Report of the Funeral of Brendan Hughes
Dolours Price

The Resolve of the Dogs
Tommy Gorman

Adams in the Dark
Brian Mór

Weep, But Do Not Sleep
Anthony McIntyre

Hard Times for Gerry Adams
Brian Mór

Tribute to Brendan Hughes
Bill Ashe

An Irony of Irish Politics
Dr John Coulter

Brendan Hughes, 1949-2008: Irish Republican, Soldier, Socialist
Mick Hall

Ride On
Anthony McIntyre

Brendan Hughes
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