'Brexit' and the Irish border

Submitted by Spikymike on March 28, 2018

So whilst we still have some of these Forums maybe the border question needs a bit more input from Irish comrades as well as this:
https://libcom.org/blog/working-class-doesn-t-need-borders-ireland-or-anywhere-else-27032018

Maclane Horton

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The six counties of Northern Ireland do not bring any profit to London based capitalists. Far from it. In fact Northern Ireland runs at a loss, quite a lot of loss resulting in increased taxes on the English.

So why do they want it? Simple. Prestige.

They are afraid of losing face if they lose the six counties. And they are probably right. It would most likely result in Britain losing power and influence in both political and economic spheres.

So how can they square the circle - get rid of Ireland and keep their reputation?

Again simple. The Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is not the same as the Empire. Lots of republican states belong to the Commonwealth. There should be no shame in Republic of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth. It is no more than a nominal fiction.

A nominal fiction is worth a united Ireland.

So London does a deal. They hand over the North to Dublin in return for a united Ireland's membership of the Commonwealth with the Queeen at its head.

Problem solved.

Spikymike

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So it is no surprise that old arguments are resurfacing around republicanism and loyalism amidst the ongoing 'Brexit' muddle. See here,
www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2018-10-15/ireland-brexit-workers-against-bosses-politics

jef costello

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maclane Horton

The six counties of Northern Ireland do not bring any profit to London based capitalists. Far from it. In fact Northern Ireland runs at a loss, quite a lot of loss resulting in increased taxes on the English.

So why do they want it? Simple. Prestige.

They are afraid of losing face if they lose the six counties. And they are probably right. It would most likely result in Britain losing power and influence in both political and economic spheres.

So how can they square the circle - get rid of Ireland and keep their reputation?

Again simple. The Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is not the same as the Empire. Lots of republican states belong to the Commonwealth. There should be no shame in Republic of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth. It is no more than a nominal fiction.

A nominal fiction is worth a united Ireland.

So London does a deal. They hand over the North to Dublin in return for a united Ireland's membership of the Commonwealth with the Queeen at its head.

Problem solved.

No way Ireland will accept the Queen of England as head of anything. The main reason to join would be nostalgia for Empire and I don't see many in the south suffering from that.

It has been a pretty open secret that the South doesn't actually want the North back for a long time. I am not up to date on the situation but I don't think that the Celtic Tiger really wants to take that albatross off the British neck.

And what is a united Ireland 'worth' to anarchists anyway? What benefit is drawn from it? Anti-imperialism doesn't really stand up, and considering that the IRA has been funded from the US, who is the real bigger imperialist. I don't see an Irish state being able to solve the problems that the British state can't, although some will change.

AndrewF

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A recent poll found 61% in favour of unity. North of the border it was close to 50:50 in June, with Repeal and Brexit its possible that is now 50:50. So on an all island basis a unity poll would pass, it might even pass separately north & south as the GFA requires. But a 50:50 vote north would open up the door to a lot of reactionary politics and even a return to conflict - on the other hand Brexit may well do that anyway.

The IRA received significant funding from Irish-Americans, not from the US government. The conflict would have had a very different character if the US government was supplying military grade weapons! Migrant communities funding struggles back home, particularly anti-colonial struggles, is common enough across the world. Also the current US government is clearly pro-Brexit so wouldn't be backing Irish unity as a reaction against Brexit

The most interesting aspect is the re-alignment in politics that seems inevitable given the huge flip over that has seen the south become far more progressive than the north on marriage equality & abortion access. Rome rule has been well and truly trashed at this stage even though major aspects in terms of control of schools and hospitals are still to be completed.

Another interesting aspect is anti-GFA republicans are completely disorientated by all this. You might expect they would be thinking "our day has come' but they are so tied into old school militarism and conservative nationalism that I haven't even seen a decent attempt at analysing all this. The rapid pace of social change in the south has forced Sinn Fein to go along but the northern part of their party still has a lot of conservative nationalists and although the party backed the Repeal referendum one of their TD was a major spokesperson for No.

Personally rather than fixating on the question of the border its far more interesting to look at the realignments that everything, including the changes on attitudes to the border, are opening up. And to realise that, as always, there is the opposite British nationalist push, one made all the stronger by the Tories need to keep the DUP on board. TBH I'd expect the realignment to stem from feminist influenced politics more than anything else, at least initially although Brexit could well derail all the above by pushing things rapidly into a conflict around the border that would allow the more reactionary militarist element to get back in the driving seat, something the DUP might well quietly welcome.

Mike Harman

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AndrewF

A recent poll found 61% in favour of unity. North of the border it was close to 50:50 in June, with Repeal and Brexit its possible that is now 50:50. So on an all island basis a unity poll would pass, it might even pass separately north & south as the GFA requires. But a 50:50 vote north would open up the door to a lot of reactionary politics and even a return to conflict - on the other hand Brexit may well do that anyway.

This is in the context of Brexit though right?

There's also the possibility that negotiations completely collapse/May loses the chequers vote and there's a fresh general election - resulting in either a reversal of Article 50 or some kind of EEA thing. that kind of scenario ought to mean an intact GFA - not sure if it would be sufficiently intact with EEA, but seems like it would?

I think the question in that sort of scenario is what form all the things thrown up by the initial referendum take - i.e. would there still be higher polling for a unified Ireland? how much do the DUP really want Brexit? What's the reaction of Brexiters in the UK (like endless referendum re-runs)? I think there's been some overblown scaremongering about a massive spur to the far right due to a betrayal narrative due to a second referendum or whatever - for me there are plenty of post-Brexit betrayal narratives which will do the job for the far right just as much.

Andrew Flood

The IRA received significant funding from Irish-Americans, not from the US government.

This is true, and it looks like a conflation of support from a couple of congressmen with support from the government, for example this shows a lot of support from one politician, but in no way does it suggest the US state itself doing anything: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/politics/09king.html

Andrew Flood

Also the current US government is clearly pro-Brexit so wouldn't be backing Irish unity as a reaction against Brexit

I'm not sure pro-Brexit and pro-united Ireland are incompatible positions at all. It seems compatible with some of the third-positionist/lexity 'sovereignty' stuff. Or while it's fringe at the moment combined with Irexit: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/political-party-seeking-irish-eu-exit-to-be-launched-1.3615657

Whether the US government would adopt this is a different question.

Andrew Flood

although Brexit could well derail all the above by pushing things rapidly into a conflict around the border that would allow the more reactionary militarist element to get back in the driving seat, something the DUP might well quietly welcome.

This also seems quite likely at this point.

AndrewF

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EU support levels in the south were at 92% back in the spring, Farage has been trying to get some sort of Irexit party going but its only attracted oddballs including our alt-right types. Even people not keen on the EU aren't going to go for an Irexit in the context of Brexit as economics alone would mean the south returning to a semi-colony status. Pretty much everyone here is looking across the sea and going holy crap, what a train wreck.

Peter King is a wonderful example of the contractions that are very common in Irish American anti-colonialism and thats part of a very old pattern. Daniel O'Connell forced a split in the Irish-American catholic emancipation period going as far as to refuse funds from anyone supporting slavery.

Mike Harman

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah I'm not saying that Irexit would gain significant ground, just that 'A united Ireland, independent from both the UK and the EU' is an internally consistent 'sovereigntist' position which could be feasibly held by someone. I don't know if that's the position of the Irish alt-right, but if so it's something you could see someone like Bannon or the Mercers supporting.

Maclane Horton

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

CUTTING THROUGH THE SPIN OF BREXIT

The latest Brexit deal has three parts.

Part one – Goods: The UK stays in the EU customs union and abides by EU rules and regulations for its goods.

Part two – Services: The UK is outside the EU for services (scant information only about this – possibly includes employees of companies being transferred from one jurisdiction to another.)
Part three – People: No right of residence or employment in the other jurisdiction. However visa free visits allowed.

The Pig’s Ear: In some cases special regulations will apply to Northern Ireland products. The only actual detail mentioned is that pigs in Northern Ireland will have UK(NI) stamped in their ears instead of just UK.

There are also possible scenarios

Scenario one – Betrayal: After the next UK general election when the government no longer needs to rely on DUP votes, parliament will approve a customs and immigration border down the middle of the Irish Sea.

Scenario two – Corruption: After the next Republic of Ireland election when there is a less highly principled cabinet in office, through intimidation and corruption the Irish will will be pressured into accepting a return of a customs and immigration border along the partition line.

alb

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maclane Horton

There are also possible scenarios

Scenario one – Betrayal: After the next UK general election when the government no longer needs to rely on DUP votes, parliament will approve a customs and immigration border down the middle of the Irish Sea.

Scenario two – Corruption: After the next Republic of Ireland election when there is a less highly principled cabinet in office, through intimidation and corruption the Irish will will be pressured into accepting a return of a customs and immigration border along the partition line.

This looks like turning out to be rather prophetic. If the DUP didn't hold the balance of power in the UK Parliament a customs and immigration border down the middle of the Irish Sea (the obvious solution) could/would have been accepted. If a no-deal scenario does happen, it will have been due to an accident of history, two in fact since it is also an accident of history that the Irish Nationalists have not taken up their seats at Westminster, thus increasing the political leverage of the DUP. But, surely, in their own economic interests the UK and the EU are not going to allow a no-deal to happen. If it did nevertheless happen that would add some weight to the Cock-Up Theory of History.

Spikymike

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And here now a longer piece reflecting on the more recent developments in Ireland from an Irish anarchist point of view;
www.wsm.ie/c/brexit-border-poll-anarchist-view

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

While anarchists have always objected to participating in the parliamentary route that over time always disempowers radical movements fostering a cycle of powerlessness, broken promises and betrayals, we have participated in referendums as it fits closer to our belief in direct democracy.

What happened to the anarchist anti-voting propaganda ("if voting changed anything, they would ban it") and attacks on universal suffrage as useless, even a diversion, over the past 150 years? An outbreak of common sense?

Uncreative

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

alb

What happened to the anarchist anti-voting propaganda ("if voting changed anything, they would ban it") and attacks on universal suffrage as useless, even a diversion, over the past 150 years? An outbreak of common sense?

Perhaps they were bowled over by seeing the relentless stream of victories the SPGB has achieved with the vote? You can't argue with success!

Spikymike

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Standard response from alb above though there probably are other aspects of that Irish anarchist WSM response which the spgb (or their outlying UK! Irish contacts) might find more acceptable? And I believe the spgb had there own arguments about how they might vote in various referendums anyway.

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree that was a bit of a debating point but there is a serious aspect to it. An anarchist admission that the right to vote and actual participation in a vote is not useless is worth recording. (For the record SPGB members spoil their ballot papers in parliamentary and local elections though they do vote for or against in some referendums though that wasn't what I intended to discuss here.)

On the main issue of a referendum in Northern Ireland to join the Republic, that would be one where a spoilt vote would be in order. You may be right, Spiky, about there being something helpful in the article you linked to but,to be honest, having ploughed through it I still don't know whether the author favours such a referendum or how he would vote if there was one. Can you enlighten me?

Spikymike

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

alb, Well the guest author referred to themselves as 'an ex-republican' but the gist of their argument seemed to be anti-nationalist and to downplay the significance for 'social revolutionaries' of the border issue in favour of basic class struggle organising. Thought the rest of the article was just useful to libcom readers in it's summary of the various opinion polls and the changes of 'political mood' both sides of the border against the recent UK shambles over Brexit. Not going to re-read again just now.

Noah Fence

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

spoiled vote

Fucking hell, what absolute wank! Just like any vote, a spoiled vote is an exercise in futility.

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just like any vote? What about a vote in a referendum as suggested in the linked document?

Noah Fence

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well I guess that depends if you think choosing what particular faction of capital’s administrators fabricates the regulations to which you are subject is worthwhile or not.

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think that. That's why I spoil my ballot paper (by casting a write-in vote for socialism) or abstain in local and parliamentary elections. Referendums are a different matter as sometimes they are on social issues such as some of the recent referendums in the Republic on divorce, abortion, blasphemy, etc. On that I agree with the document. Other referendums, as in the Republic over ratifying treaties or as in Northern Ireland on leaving or staying in the EU or joining with the Republic, are not worth taking sides in.

Noah Fence

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ok, I’ll try not to be quite so sneering for a moment. In all seriousness then, what possible purpose is there for spoiling a ballot paper?

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To show that you don't reject the vote as such but only the choice of managers of capitalism on the ballot paper, as the vote can be a potential class weapon to use in the course of getting rid of capitalism. Just a gesture at the moment, I know, but one that has some meaning and logic from a revolutionary point of view. I have been at a number of counts and have seen a few spoilt ballots with the anarchist A sign on them, so others do this too.

Noah Fence

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I thought that was it and therefore still claim it as a futile act. I always have and would imagine that I always will refuse to participate in their deceptive impotent nonsense.
People scoff at those who they claim are fetishising abstinence but to hell I say, I’m 53 years old and have never once voted in any local or general election. It’s a point of principle to me, a gesture to use your own phraseology. I could go into my reasons in detail but it would probably bore you! Not the least of them is Corbyn’s recent pulling of the fangs of the working class with his fake socialist dry wank agenda.

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, that's it. As they say, if you don't use you will lose it -- even for referendums.

On the more general point, when the movement takes off and it's not a question of individual gestures I agree with James Connolly (yes, I know he ended up a Labourite and worse, a pure and simple Irish nationalist, but for a while he was a revolutionary socialist) who, when he left the SLP of America (which believed in electoral action) and joined the IWW (which was neutral on the matter), was "asked if he approved of its [the IWW's] repudiating the principle of political action":

He laughed, "It will be impossible to prevent the workers taking it."

I see the readiness to vote in some referendums in that anarchist document as confirmation of this and as the shape of things to come: if the vote exists workers, when they become revolutionary, will use it(amongst other things, of course) whatever dogmatic opposition to this might be enshrined in anarchist texts.

Noah Fence

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

While you talk of the potential good that a vote could do, you fail to consider the potential harm, but hey, I’ve had this discussion too many times, I’m sure you know the arguments alb, and if I’m wrong then fair enough, same goes for you, right? We both have to follow our instincts I guess.

Auld-bod

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noah #25

Agree with you on this post.
I’ve gone round and round on this - vote/not vote debate. To me voting is a tactic not a principle.

Over the years I’ve abstained, voted, and spoiled my ballot paper, in all the permutations you can imagine. In the end it was irrelevant whatever I did, and afterwards feeling my actions were simply an abdication of responsibility. Capitalist democracy? Politics as a commodity, choose from the special offers (or not – go online and complain).

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fair enough, Noah. Let's get there and see what happens.

alb

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Barnier has just offered the obvious solution (in capitalist terms, since this is a capitalist problem with only a capitalist solution): leave Northern Ireland in the customs union if ever the backstop had to be applied. After all, this is what a majority of those there who took part in the referendum voted for when 56 of them voted to Remain. And those UK politicians who want the UK to be free to do its own trade deals will see his as more important, much more important than what happens to Northern Ireland and ought logically, if it comes to it, dump the DUP. It won't happen of course but who are we to tell the capitalist class what to do to solve the mess their politicians have got them into?

alb

3 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It looks as if, in the event of a no-deal, the UK is prepared to dump the DUP by introducing a different tariff status for Northern Ireland compared with the rest of the UK:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-47551121

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar said the "supreme irony" was that under the UK's tariff plan Northern Ireland would be treated differently to the rest of Great Britain.

redschlog

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Auld-bod

Noah #25

Agree with you on this post.
I’ve gone round and round on this - vote/not vote debate. To me voting is a tactic not a principle.

Over the years I’ve abstained, voted, and spoiled my ballot paper, in all the permutations you can imagine. In the end it was irrelevant whatever I did, and afterwards feeling my actions were simply an abdication of responsibility. Capitalist democracy? Politics as a commodity, choose from the special offers (or not – go online and complain).

Aye. Ye've got that about right. Voting's a tactic. A daft one that don't work. Irrelevant pretty much sums it up.

ALB's smugging about anarchists admitting that they've voted in Referendum sticks in the craw. A lot of folk name themselves anarchist, just like they do socialist. Don't find us disowning them. However stupid they might be.

freemind

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hello
I would disagree that the reason Capital and the State retain the 6 counties is for prestige only.
The main reason is NATO and any potential threat on its leftflank and future use for strategic means.

Maclane Horton

2 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

After months of stasis there is a bit of activity. First off sources in the DUP have hinted that they are willing to move their brexit red lines. Where the red lines are moving to nobody knows, but we can be sure it’s something devious and probably involves money.

Then, second off, apparently unconnected, Boris has proposed an Ireland Scotland bridge as a solution to the backstop. Again nobody knows how that solution is supposed to work.

Maybe they’re going to paint two red lines half way across the bridge and set up set up their border posts there instead of the ones in the middle of the Irish Sea that everyone was so much objecting to.

Of course, when Scotland becomes independent and returns to EU membership the Boris Bridge border will no longer be necessary. Will that be problem solved?

jef costello

2 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maclane Horton

After months of stasis there is a bit of activity. First off sources in the DUP have hinted that they are willing to move their brexit red lines. Where the red lines are moving to nobody knows, but we can be sure it’s something devious and probably involves money.

Johnson has been blocked from acting unilaterally and the DUP cannot deliver a majority, so their negotiating position has been very seriously weakened.

Then, second off, apparently unconnected, Boris has proposed an Ireland Scotland bridge as a solution to the backstop. Again nobody knows how that solution is supposed to work.

No one seriously believes that Johnson ha any intention of doing this least of all Johnson

Of course, when Scotland becomes independent and returns to EU membership the Boris Bridge border will no longer be necessary. Will that be problem solved?

Interesting to see which will happen first, Scottish referendum for independence or Irish referendum for unification. I would bet on Scotland personally.

Spikymike

2 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There is an interesting comment from alb, borrowing from the 'Times' newspaper, on which capitalists and why they are supporting Brexit when most of the main UK and Irish capitalists are against it in his post #190742 here;
https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/topic/more-on-brexit/page/23/

Spikymike

2 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This useful Left-communist summary posted late Sept along the lines of 'How did we get in this mess then' here;
http://www.international-communist-party.org/English/TheCPart/TCP_015.htm#Brexit

redredred

2 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

the International Communist Party is a joke. I feel that their "analysis" on this is pretty basic as well

Spikymike

2 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not a supporter of this ICP but their analysis in this case if basic is not essentially wrong and better than some.

Spikymike

2 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Another short contribution from alb on the recent elections, Sinn Fein and Worker Co-ops here:
https://worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2020/2020s/no-1387-march-2020/the-irish-election-sinn-fein-resurgence/

Spikymike

1 year 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And as if 'Brexit' would ever go away there is this short punchy piece from the ICT/CWO here:
http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2021-03-12/the-nationalist-poison-behind-brexit

Spikymike

1 year 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A longer article here from the ICT/CWO examining the background to the seeming disjuncture between the Brexit result and the interests of the dominant faction of UK based capital and what this might mean for the UK in terms of future alliances with the main capitalist blocks of the USA, Europe and China and the impact on class struggle in the UK:
http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2021-04-22/brexit-the-ruling-class-shoots-itself-in-the-foot

Spikymike

1 year 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So this article from the spgb provides a good historical update on the evolving divisions and arguments around the Irish border in the context of the latest Brexit outcomes (maybe more useful to new non-UK posters to libcom):
https://worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2020s/2021/no-1403-july-2021/a-hundred-years-of-northern-ireland/
Personally I suspect that the current Tory Party faction in power are happy to see (have even planned) the failure of the protocol and will abandon the north to it's own devises?

Spikymike

11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And here another useful (to non UK posters) summary of the most recent 'non-evolution' of the political divide between Unionist and republican parties with hints of some small openings in working class struggle across the border:
https://libcom.org/blog/workers-northern-ireland-04092021

freemind

11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The reason the British State is in Ireland is NATO.The strategic position is paramount and a juxtaposition against 26 County Neutrality.

Spikymike

10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And there is this indirectly related 'post Brexit' discussion:
https://worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/topic/boris-promises-a-high-wage-economy/