The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum was established in early 2013. The Forum was the result of a number of meetings and seminars organised over the course of 2012.
In early 2012 the Communist Party of Ireland hosted a seminar in Dublin entitled “21st-century republicanism: What does it mean?” There were four speakers, coming from the broad republican family and reflecting a range of opinions. There was standing room only at the meeting, which clearly reflected the mood that something needed to be done to draw these forces together in the face of the massive onslaught against our people and the deep economic crisis of the system.
Following from that event there was general agreement that the CPI should continue this process of drawing like-minded republicans together. In consultation with a number of individuals it was the feeling that a certain number of important areas needed to be explored and developed. The areas that most felt had been either underdeveloped or ignored were particularly those relating to (1) the nature of the state, (2) the role of class in society, and (3) the complex nature of imperialism’s rule in Ireland, North and South.
It was agreed that we should try to place our discussion of these central questions in both a historical and a contemporary context and, most importantly, within the context of an all-Ireland understanding.
Another area we wanted to develop was how we understand history, as much of our history has been reduced to an account of “betrayal” by individuals or the abandonment of a particular method of struggle as opposed to the balance of class forces at that moment in history.
There was a clear feeling that unless we looked more deeply at these essential areas we are doomed to repeat the failures of the past and misinterpret the nature of the crisis today and the nature of the struggle against it.
We need to explore and try to deepen our knowledge of the role of imperialism today in Ireland. The Irish people have little if any real power left, being dominated by three sets of imperialist interests: (1) the European Union, (2) the United States, through the domination of American transnational corporations, and (3) the historical influence and the continued role of British imperialism, mainly in the North. The Irish ruling elite has continued to hand over our political and economic sovereignty to the European Union, because it is in their interest to do so. They act as the gatekeepers for monopoly capital in Ireland which they themselves benefit off and are part of.
Today the people of the South are burdened by a massive socialised corporate debt —a debt not of their making but one for which we as a people are paying a very heavy price, and will continue to pay for decades to come. The debt burden is the main weapon being used in dismantling public services and in imposing cuts in wages and working conditions, with a growing number of people in precarious employment and thousands of our children emigrating every week. The debt is being used not just to transfer wealth upward from working people to the elite super rich it is also being used to restructure the economy even more to meet the needs of monopolies. Education reform, health service reform, labour market reforms, social welfare reforms and privatisation are all being driven in the interests of monopoly capital.
In the North, the people have very little influence in the corridors of power, whether in London, Brussels, or Dublin. Sectarianism is still a deep cancer within the community. Poverty and unemployment are endemic and are no respecters of “peace walls” or borders.
We, as socialists and republicans, care deeply about our people as well as our history and culture. Our towns and villages are emptying of the voices of our young and energetic youth. We can see and feel all around us the emptiness and the sense of hopelessness among our families and our communities.
Are we not duty-bound to try to bring people together, and in the first instance to draw together those who agree with the principles of the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum? If we claim to follow in the footsteps of those of past generations such as James Connolly and Peadar O’Donnell we carry a great responsibility and an obligation to step forward, to come together to explore and debate solutions to the many problems facing our people, North and South.
Can we find together the political strategy that is needed to mobilise our people to be the conscious agents of change? —to dump the two failed entities that have so impoverished our people, that have not served our people but rather have served the interests of the rich and powerful and their imperialist allies.
The papers presented at the seminars are not the last word but are a contribution to a necessary debate. We believe that the principles adopted by the Forum are political linchpins of the resistance that needs to be built.
The Forum wishes to discuss and debate with people at the grass roots. The people at the top have their television channels and newspapers; what we have is honesty and a passionate belief that things can be turned around, that a better tomorrow is possible, that all our people can be united with a clear view of where we need to go.
We firmly believe that together we can break the grip of imperialism and establish a truly humane, socially just, culturally vibrant and democratic society —democratic in every sphere of life: political, economic, cultural, and social— a republic of the people, for the people.
The Peadar O’ Donnell Socialist Republican Forum has adopted a set of basic principles that guides its practice
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
We cannot conceive of a free Ireland with a subject working class, we cannot conceive of a free working class in a subject Ireland
- The aim of the Forum is to promote the ideas of socialist republicanism, as best expressed by Connolly, Mellows and O’ Donnell, which hold that the people of Ireland should own and control the country and its resources, politically, socially, and economically in advancing the cause of undoing the conquest of Ireland and building a socialist republic.
- Ending the dominance of imperialism requires the return of full control to the people over Ireland in all aspects. This can only happen in an Ireland that has regained its independence and sovereignty and that is fully democratic with the people in control of all decision making. In the socialist republic, society will be organised to meet the needs of the people and enable them to lead free and fulfilled lives. Full democratic control means that production and the economy will be entirely in the hands of the people.
- Ireland, North and South, is under the control of imperialism, a control which is exercised through the agencies of global monopoly capital, the intervention of the British State, the combined EU, US influence, the IMF and other instruments of control. This domination is welcomed, actively supported and facilitated by the dominant domestic capitalist interests North and South which are willing junior partners in imperialism. Thus to struggle to undo the conquest it is necessary to oppose and actively resist both the imperial interests and their domestic gate-keepers. That struggle has the potential to draw into activity all those who suffer the effects of this dual domination. In effect, this means the vast majority of the Irish people.
- The control of capitalism and imperialism over our lives expresses itself at every level; economically, socially, politically, ideologically, culturally and environmentally. Therefore any organised resistance has to devise and develop campaigns and policies which take account of all these factors and must mobilise the people to engage actively at every level. The complexities of these tasks requires open and honest debate among socialists and republicans and necessitates seeking maximum unity to creating networks and alliances.
- The Forum recognises the important role of the trade union movement as the biggest organisation of the working class. We should seek to promote and popularise class politics among its members and challenge ideas that limit its potential as a major agency for change.
- The Forum will provide an opportunity to discuss and publicise the application of our ideas to contemporary problems while popularising the reality that the system has to be changed and can only be changed by opening the road the socialism.
- The Forum believes that creating an anti-imperialist movement and effecting significant social change requires the unity of all working people, North and South, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. A crucial task will be to debate and analyse the nature and causes of sectarianism and to advance ideas for working class unity.
- In the conditions existing in Ireland today, the Forum believes that there is no place for militarism or the use of armed force and that the continued recourse to violence is harmful to the development and furthering of anti-imperialist mass politics.
- At the heart of any attempt to build a modern movement to challenge imperialism and create a new Ireland must be a clear understanding that our struggle is but one strand of the global struggle for democracy, independence and sustainable social progress. The Forum declares its solidarity with all those around the world who are fighting for a better tomorrow and sees the protection and extension of Irish neutrality as a major responsibility.
- Equally, the Forum is clear about the essentially anti-capitalist nature of our struggle. The various sections of the Irish capitalist class, North and South, have failed over the past 90 years to build a society in which all the children of the nation are cherished equally. They have been tried and found wanting and no amount of tinkering with their failed system can achieve the changes which our people need.
- The lack of democracy in Ireland, North and South, along with the continuing sectarianism, discrimination, and inequality can only be successfully resisted by the development of a strong anti-imperialist movement with wide popular support. A political system must be built that reflects the class interest of the majority of people. The legacy of the lack of democracy in the Six Counties and its newer forms of repression must be countered by open campaigning of public opinion. All forms of institutional sectarianism and inequality must be resisted by involving the widest popular support.
See here Eugene McCartan and Tommy McKearney discussing the forum with the Connolly Media Group: http://vimeo.com/65571646