The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Belfast Socialists, Capitalism And War

Davy Carlin 10/12/02

On Saturday Dec 7th a 200+ strong demo made its way through Belfast city centre, a march against the oncoming US driven war on Iraq. Maybe it was due to the Rangers - Celtic old firm match or perhaps the Apprentice Boys march or the fact that the hit show Fame Academy's stalls were in town or that Santa was arriving (who knows?) why little was carried in the media. Accompanied by trade union and anti-war banners amongst others, different groups, campaigns, parties and individuals marched including key community workers from both republican and loyalist working class areas under the one banner of opposing this oncoming slaughter of innocents in the interests of the leading powers .

We should have no doubt, this constant drive towards a war in Iraq by Bush and Blair will deliver death and destruction to the lives of tens and hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Rather than a war to rid the world of a dictator who was in fact backed, funded and armed by those who now wish to oust him, this is a war of oil and for military, strategic and economic dominance and power led by the US.

Since the last war on Iraq in 1991 UN imposed sanctions has meant the deaths of more than a million people with almost half of these children who have suffered death through starvation, lack of medicine and disease. With much of Iraq's infrastructure destroyed and with even the CIA and the UN's own weapons inspectorate stating in recent years the lack of threat Iraq poses to the US, the US nevertheless are determined to push ahead with their agenda of yet more slaughter of a impoverished people.

Although Bush has sought UN backing he has made it clear he will go it alone with some of his 'friends' if need be in attacking Iraq. This is of no surprise as both the US and the other big four - Britain, China, Russia and France have always shown a willingness to brush the UN aside when their own interests dictate. With a veto on the UN they use it to push their own agenda and if the situation necessitates, have and will work outside its remit for their own selfish state interest. In effect the UN is not an organisation whose interest is directed in preventing wars but in fact is used regulary as a vehicle by the big powers to attempt to legitimise them.

This is why socialists argue that rather than looking to such organisations as the UN who are but a tool for the large ruling powers, we look to the power held within the working class to bring an end to such warmongering. Mass movements such as that seen in Vietnam have the potential of stopping the ruling classes plans of slaughter. Although the anti-war movement against the Vietnam war started off small it developed into a mass international movement. With one million recently marching in Florence against war and four hundred thousand in London it is vital as elsewhere that such an anti-war movement is built in Ireland.

The interests of the ruling classes mean that we will continue to live in a world of war, poverty and destruction. Socialists want a different world a better world, a world directed not by greed but towards need. A world free of war and hunger and providing for the many and not the few, so in doing so socialists attempt to link up all those struggles that working class people are engaged in.

While marching against war we also march and show solidarity with the firefighters against low pay. While lending solidarity to the Palestinian cause, we also agitate and lend support on local campaigns for better housing, education, health, transport etc. While working in the trade unions for workers rights we in tandem work with students for student rights. While standing up for equality we will at the same time be at the forefront challenging sectarianism and bigotry. While we work, act and agitate locally on such issues we think also of a wider world of many other counties and peoples engaged in similar struggles.

Socialists do not underestimate the tasks. But in marching against war we will argue that we should also link up with the firefighters, with the local campaigns, with students, trade unionists and other groups of workers and attempt to make the connection that all our ills lie in the nature of the present system, that of capitalism. So with this we could then together march in unity as one struggle against both capitalism and war. Socialists believe in the linking of working class struggles and of unity of the working class both within Ireland and internationally. We believe such unity within it has the power to change society and the potential to deliver a world free of hunger, destruction and war.

The SWP in Belfast being the largest and most active organisation on the revolutionary left in the city has both initiated and is working in and with many various campaigns and groups. This both on local and international issues. While our members play an active and leading role with other trade unionists in the north, South, East, West and central Belfast Firefighters support groups, which was initiated by the central FBU support group and supported by the FBU. Our members also both sit on the committees for or lend support to international campaigns and issues from Palestine to Colombia.

While we have initiated and sustained with others well known recognised campaigns and organisations, may it be on local issues such as the Campaign against selection, (CAS) or local - international such as Globalise Resistance, (GR) we have at the same time worked with others to play our part in building and supporting both trade union and community initiatives against sectarianism and bigotry.

While initiating marches several hundreds strong in recent times through central Belfast on issues such as low pay or against global capitalism or marching against war we have also held smaller pickets and protests to highlight both local and international issues. While having hosted large meetings several hundred strong in Central Belfast on Sectarianism and Racism we hold smaller regular local meetings in the local communities in which our various branches are based around the city, organised on a wide variety of local and international issues.

All such activity has helped both raise important issues and mobilise people yet the Belfast SWP and its student organisation SWSS have also with regularity used the tactic of direct action to highlight issues. The several day occupation at Queens University against student fees, the first ever, then the second, then the third occupation and sit in of the US Consulate in Belfast against US Imperialism. The numerous initiated occupations of McDonalds, the Gap and Disney stores etc in Belfast City Centre, various sit downs on the city centre roads or attempting to blockade Bill Clintons Cavalcade. Occupations of ministers offices, banks, other multinationals etc or even the famous scene of SWP member Andrew King standing up to Bill Clinton in the Waterfront hall to challenge him on US foreign policy while Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and friends were infamiously standing up doing the Mexican Wave to welcome Clinton.

All such campaigns and actions socialists initiate or get involved in, although various tactics used, are first and foremost for the practical purposes through activities to rise awareness and bring those issues to a greater audience. Yet the political reasoning is one of belief in fighting on the particular issue that one is engaged in. So in doing so it is always done from the understanding of a socialist. This means that the practicalities of activity combined with political understanding and the nature of the campaign seen within that wider political context, offers a greater understanding and reasoning of how to eventually attempt to effect real change.

This is why Socialists should see no contradiction in initiating, working within or supporting different campaigns. The separation initially may be practical but for socialists there is no ideological separation as our politic lies in the working classes a whole. The coming war on Iraq is a test for all socialists. The test will be ideological in winning layers not as much to oppose the war but to connect that to the wider picture while in tandem practically bringing them with us. In doing so then helping each other in unity to build a mass anti-war movement in Ireland while always raising the argument as to the real reason for war, so forwarding the discussion of Capitalism and its Wars. Such a movement needs to be built while the war's political, military, strategic and economic context argued and discussed. And socialists will be at the forefront in both attempting to build the movement and attempting to win the arguments of how exactly we can win.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Start doing the things you think should be done, and start being what you think society should become. Do you believe in free speech? Then speak freely. Do you love the truth? Then tell it. Do you believe in an open society? Then act in the open. Do you believe in a decent and humane society? Then behave decently and humanely.
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Index: Current Articles

13 December 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Giving Political Leadership
Liam O Ruairc


The Truth About Turkey
Mags Glennon


Belfast Socialists, Capitalism and War
Davy Carlin


Don't Join the RUC/PSNI

Sean Matthews


The Untouchables
Anthony McIntyre


Chaos Theory: Stickies and Stones Break Bones
Eamon Lynch


8 December 2002


The British State Murder of Pearse Jordan
Anthony McIntyre


The Falls And Shankill March As One
Davy Carlin


Alternatives to the GFA?
Paul Fitzsimmons


Ted Honderich: A Philosopher in the Trenches
Paul de Rooji


Uri Davis and the Battle Against Israeli Apartheid
Anthony McIntyre


Palestinian Children In The Night
Sam Bahour


Solitary Confinement Kills
Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Cephesi




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