Sunday, December 30, 2007

ÁthBhlian Faoi Mhaise Daoibh go Léir

The Youngfella wishes to take this opportunity to wish people a happy and prosperous 2008. I know I've been quiet for a good while, but keep an eye out for more from me during the year ahead.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Venezuela- A Battleground in War for True Democracy

My internet browsing occasionally leads me into the weird and wacky world of Fox News. As most will be aware, the Rupert Murdoch owned company is a bastion of ultra-conservatism and general cheerleader for free market capitalism and US imperialism.

I have paid especial interest to their slant (and slant is the operative word when talking about Fox News) on the decision by the Venezuelan Government to not renew the license of RCTV, a right-wing propaganda station which has been linked to the coup against the Chavez Government in 2002. Fox News, a station renowned for its aversion to facts, calls this a ‘closure of RCTV’ and an attack on Free Speech, as per usual, the imperialist apologists at Fox News are being misleading in their reporting.
RCTV, which has been in existence for over 53 years, had a 20 year license concession granted in 1987. That license was up for renewal this year. In the 9 years since Chavez was first elected to office, the RCTV have been vociferously opposed to his administration and have consistently argued for it to be overthrown. In spite of this, the Government have freely allowed it to operate on national airwaves for the duration of its license. What must be considered in this situation is that the station were actively calling for people to support the Coup against Chavez, not just voicing a different opinion. What is most important to remember is that RCTV has shown a blatant disregard for Venezuelan broadcasting laws (long preceding the Chavez Government) and has been found guilty of over 600 violations. In any State in the world, this would put a broadcasting license in extreme jeopardy.
In this context, we have to look beyond the propaganda and examine the real reasons for the vendetta against the Chavez Government. Since his initial arrival in office, Chavez has been a thorn in the side of the US establishment and in particular, since 2001, of the Bush Administration. (An administration which Fox News, among others, have a fawning admiration for) The Venezuelan Government have challenged the interests of the powerful business oligarchy and have been very strong in terms of social provisions and in attempting to redress injustices which had been inherent in the system. They have openly opposed US Imperialism and have allied themselves closely with Cuba, the arch nemesis of American imperialism.
For radicals, Venezuela under Chavez, along with other nations in Latin America, such as Bolivia and Peru, show an example of the potential for a new global, socio-economic and political model. This is anathema to the forces of US imperialism. To US imperialists, the ‘natural order’ is a ‘free’ market economic system, coupled with an elitist political system, where a powerful few dominate. That a genuine, grassroots democracy is emerging so near to them, is more than they can handle. In a very real sense, Venezuela has become a key battleground in the battle between the forces of imperialism and those who advocate a genuine, Socialist, grassroots democracy. I make no apologies for siding with the latter.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Remember 1916- Build for the Future

At Easter, republicans all over the country gather to commemorate the Easter rising of 1916. The brave deeds of Easter week and more importantly, the words of the proclamation are an inspiration to republicans everywhere. A small group of Irish Men and Women showed the British Empire that they would not lay down, despite the shameless lies and propaganda that led so many Irishmen to fight an imperialist war in Europe. The executions shattered the myth that Britain was some kind of benevolent influence on the world. The real evils of British imperialism were laid bare.

Sadly, despite the message of liberation that the proclamation set out, Irish Society, both in the 6 counties and 26 counties is a very pale reflection of the republic espoused by that document. At Easter, it is important to remember the deeds of 1916, but we have no control over the past, we must look to the future. The best way to commemorate 1916 is to build a society, on a 32 county basis, which is worthy of its legacy. The status quo has failed, it is time to build a mass movement to liberate the Irish people through political action. The spirit of 1916 should be with us, not just at Easter, but all year round.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Deal is Done

Well, all the choreography and political pantomine is now finished and it seems a deal has been done between Sinn Féin and the DUP which will see 'Power Sharing' in place in the 6 counties on May 8. As much as I hate using cliches, I think it is fair to say that in some ways, this was an historic day. The thought of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams giving a joint press statement and announcing an agreement is quite historic. However, what should be interesting in relation to the Executive is how the 'normalisation' process works out.

Behind all the tribal rhetoric and nuances of the constitutional question in the 6 counties, what is effectively taking place is the establishment of institutions designed to cement the values of so-called 'liberal democracy' in the 6 county statelet. Under the structures, privatisation is ensured in the guise of the PFI/PPP programme. The rigorous committee system ensures that nothing too radical will see the light of day and the involuntary aspect of Government ensures that there is no real democratic accountability. In short, the executive is manna from heaven for those who seek the proliferation of global capitalism and the sham that is liberal democracy.

Progressives and radicals are left in a very isolated place by this deal. With all the main parties prepared to eat from the troth of power, all potential for radical change is seriously put on ice. The whole thing has serious echoes of the Free State after the treaty. Radicals and progressives, most importantly Socialist Republicans, have to work all the harder now to provide a real alternative for the people to the shallow socio-economic system that has failed the people of Britain and the 26 Counties for so long. It is all too easy to think of this as end game, indeed that is what the establishment want people to see it as. However, for those of us who see change as something more than mere photo opportunities, today is far from the end.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Watch This Space

If it seems that the Blog is currently going quite slow, don't worry things will pick up soon. The Youngfella is quite new to this Blog thing and also has to try finding himself a job in the nasty old real world, so can not devote as much time to this blog as he would like.

However I can assure you that I will continue to post my proudly partisan interpretations of Irish society and hope to expand and improve the blog soon. So watch this space.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Patriot Game

Patriotism is a term that is often banded about these days. It has come to mean everything from wrapping yourself in green for a rugby or soccer match, to defending 'our nation' from immigration to the construction of a capitalist economy to 'provide jobs for our people'. Indeed in the American context the term patriotism has also been used to justify bombing the crap out of any country that, with a puppet government can supply the US with oil and power. (The youngfella offers no apology for this interpretation of U.S foreign policy)
However it is in the Irish scenario that I am really interested in here. Should we accept the free and easy interpretations of patriotism that exist in Ireland today? It would seem to me that patriotism is a badge of convenience in today's society.
For example, the FF and PD government would have us believe that they are true patriots who are building 'a buoyant economy for the sake of our children'. Well if they are so patriotic, one has to ask the question why are they so adamant to sell part of the Irish nation to put a pipeline through where the local community obviously doesn't want it? How does that sit with the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil?

We declare that the nation's sovereignty extends not only to all its material posessions, (but also to)the nation's soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth producing processes within the nation

How is it patriotic to put the interests of multi-national capitalism before that of the Irish people. To me this does a great dis-service to Ireland and is fundamentally an anti-patriotic act. The same could be said of the campaign to support the Nice Treaty. Those who sold us this federalist abomination also used the 'patriotic' argument, citing all that the EU had supposedly done for us etc. The same individuals who would have condemned partis like Sinn Féin for flying tricolours at election counts, were doing the very same when the Irish people were eventually cojoled into accepting Nice.

Simply put, I refuse to accept that patriotism should be narrowed down to supporting your country in sporting events or defending your government's actions under the pretence of 'the national interest'. Patriotism is far more complex than this. I presume most readers of this blog would profess to loving their families. However this love should not mean that all activities of our family members should automatically be justified. A rapist who happens to be your brother is still a rapist, why should our family loyalties force us to defend such actions? Part of being a patriot, in my view is striving for your country to be better, to be something to look up to. The real question should not be whether we love our country, but whether we love it enough to change it. James Connolly summed up the question of patriotism very well.

Ireland, as distinct from her people, means nothing to me; and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for 'Ireland', and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland, yea, wrought by Irishmen upon Irish men and women, without burning to end it, is, in my opinion, a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how much he loves that combination of chemical elements he is pleased to call Ireland. *

So let's be true patriots by seeking to build an Ireland that is truly deserving of our love, an Ireland that is worthy of the Proclamation and the Democratic Programme.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

No Certain Road to The Republic

For members of Sinn Féin, last Sunday was a significant day. They were asked to endorse joining the policing boards in the 6 counties. That this was accomplished was no surprise, however, the margin of victory was. For those who were opposed to this decision or may have been disillusioned by it, there may be some difficult decisions to make. Is the SF strategy the way to go? is the main question they have to ask themselves. To be honest, I do not feel it is my place to make a prognosis on this. That is a decision for individuals to make themselves.

However, what is important to remember is that Irish republicanism is broader than Sinn Féin or any group. We all need to get back to basics. The Proclamation and the Democratic programme need to be at the centre of any republican socialist's mind, regardless of what organisation, if any, they attach to. Once people prioritise the ideology, it is a question of interpretation as to what is the best way forward. I hope in all this that those who have decided or will decide to leave SF will not be villified by those who still see SF as the correct route to the Republic. In turn, they should not be unduly hostile towards ex comrades who decide to stay.

None of us have all the answers. We live in a big bad world which has no place for certainty. Anyone who goes off in search of certainty, in any aspect of life , and republicanism is no different in this regard, will find themselves lost very quickly. All any of us can do is follow our hearts as well as our heads and keep our own integrity. As long as the Republic lives in our hearts, it can never die. This is not to say that we don't have a hard job to do, but it needs to be done from a position of principle, that does not allow for petty inter-organisational squabbles, because that will set back the pursuit of the Republic irretrievably.