Analysis of the national liberation movement in 1970s Northern Ireland, its relation to capitalist restructuring, and the possibilities this allows for class struggle.
The recent events in Northern Ireland simply demonstrate by themselves to what extent all lies stand together. The avatars of rotting modern thought flaunt themselves quite openly in the eyes of "public opinion". The barbarism of the British army of occupation is denounced for the benefit of the barbarism of the IRA and its terror inflicted on the backs of the proletariat. In the same Holy Alliance we can find Maoists, Christian leftists, Trotskyists, Stalinists, socialists, Masperisers 1 of all kinds, "making an intervention", Gaullists, nationalists, royalists, "Ordre Nouveau ", etc. Each one swarms, speaks, stinks, and belches more than the last. They are called the extreme left, the left, the right as well as the extreme right. In short, rackets.
Irish capitalism is a capitalism which is not able to unify and thus to modernize itself. The unification of capital and its conditions of valorization is however the principal demand of its movement. Either capital develops, or it dies. The events of Ireland originate in this need for modernization, but did nothing but aggravate the separation between the two parts of capital.
The contradictions are enormous. They are of several kinds which intersect and engender each other. The first one is that, for value to really, and no longer just formally, dominate the means and forces of production on an international scale, it is not enough for capital (in this period of world capitalist reconstruction that can nevertheless be described as senile) to periodically destroy excess capital, with the aim of rejuvenating itself and achieving higher rates of valorisation, which reproduces the social and productive relations of wage labour and capital by progressively generalising these two poles and therefore proletarises humanity. It must also create massive unemployment which is not short-term but structural, which is no longer only linked to a crisis of overproduction but to the fact that capital excludes from production an enormous mass of able workers because mechanisation and the productive forces are too developed, to the point that surplus labour completely dominates socially necessary labour. This expulsion from production of a mass of workers-become-unemployed (which doesn't have the same significance as before: one can claim that the unemployed person, in the U.S.A. for example, is a fully-fledged proletarian who doesn't even have the possibility of working any more, who is never able properly to enter in production, and is already out of work, is the pure product of the epoch and of the most developed but senile capitalist production because it excludes men from the productive community), this same division existing in the "nation", between proletarians excluded from the process of work and its planning, and proletarians still preserved as fodder for surplus value, this structural division of work, characteristic of this stage of real domination of value over labour, is found on an international scale (since capital is universal and has universalized its conditions of self-valorization), between nations excluded from the labour process and its planning on an international scale, therefore of valorization, and nations preserved as fodder for surplus value in this process. The former are the zones sacrificed ecause they are rejected by productive capital. Ireland, by its specific historic position, is the classic example of these zones or nations rejected in a structural and planned way by the international productive process. Here is the first contradiction that assails the Irish bourgeoisies South and North: their need for unification, for modernization, for an overthrow of the structures of production so as to head towards a development of rational capitalism where capital will be able valorize itself without tears, is against the international division that assigns to Ireland its role as victim. There is a contradiction between the local interest of capitalism and its international interest.
The second contradiction, equally great, is: to modernize itself, to reunify itself, okay, but with whom? For Ulster capital which is British, to reunify itself with the capital of Eire, it reunify itself/themselves with the British investments! ! I.e. it is quite uninteresting for the bourgeoisie of Ulster to meet with the true bourgeoisie of Eire, which is in fact that of London because Eire is made English investments. However is it worth the trouble to reunify itself with so incapable and so resourceless a bourgeoisie as that of the South? And moreover, with a zone where the conditions and the means of production as latecomers that the price that the creation of all the necessary technological and mechanical infrastructure would cost would be enormous in relation to the possible profits and which would be tangible only in how many years? Is the capitalist development of Ireland worth the cost for the Irish bourgeoisie? Wouldn’t it pay more to invest another share in Britain, or in tourism? Southern Ireland is at the beginning of capitalism, capital does not even formally dominate the whole, some immense zones are pre-capitalist in dissolution, but that is all; Northern Irelands problem is the passage to a capitalism where capital would really dominate; this possibility is realizable only in the reunification with the South; however it is contradictory with its immediate interests, because it would be advantageous only in the very long term since the more the capitalist system develops, the more it is difficult to catch up with its level of development, starting from non-developed zones, and since the more capitalism develops itself internationally, the more the non-developed zones have odds to remain so, and even, to become so structurally ; in other words their development, is to become non-developable.
Moreover, the contradiction of Irish capitalism is woven from the permanent crisis of British capitalism. British capitalism must get rid of its textile industry and mechanical engineering sector, or modernise them, and thus reach its greatest freedoms more freely. We recently saw how the English and Scottish proletariat gave it a good slap. However, big Irish industry is like this: textiles and mechanical engineering. The impossibility of modernising itself is increased by the necessity to modernise. A vicious circle.
In brief, the Irish situation can be summed up in these few words: capitalism while developing itself, and while developing its conditions of existence on a world scale, cannot and does not have to grant capitalist citizenship to certain parts of the world. The way for Ireland to enter international capitalism is to be excluded from it. The same applies to the Middle East and Quebec, on different levels.
Such a contradictory situation thus presents at the same time features of a capitalist system where the accumulation of capital has yet to become global (passage from the formal domination to the real domination of value: cf K Marx, the unpublished 6th chap. of Capital) 2 and where the creation of a "national" capital remains to be done, where the chronic economic crisis is that of the backward zones of a capitalism in severe crisis: British capitalism and also the traits characteristic of a zone in developed international capitalism on the level of its role in this international division of valorisation. Northern Ireland, an undeveloped capitalist zone and a zone within developed capitalism. An ambiguity. Thus the double nature of the struggles taking place there.
It is thus a question for Irish capital of ensuring its real domination over the productive forces (including humans, proletarians), i.e. to allow the accumulation of capital and therefore to get rid of its archaisms, to modernise itself, and to reach complete capitalist citizenship. But fundamental contradictions which prevent it make typically reactionary social forces develop. On the one hand, the Protestant petty bourgeoisie and middle bourgeoisie don’t want to be snuffed out (which is what this reunification and modernisation would bring) and prevent all evolution away from the status quo. On the other hand, the catholic petty bourgeoisie ardently wishes this reunification, but under its own domination, and not under that of British capital, and is obliged to fight in a hysterical way against British capital, therefore against the British State and the Protestant community which is its social base there.
The Protestant middle and petite bourgeoisie defend its beef, its few privileges, its few interests in British capital, and managed to carry along behind it, and without difficulty, the Protestant proletariat, while integrating in its program the perfectly working-class watchwords and demands. It is necessary that one understands well that for "the Protestant worker", it is normal not to want to become Irish, it would be to see her salary decrease, to lose the social security and all financial benefits of the British régime, to lose his right to work, his right not to be excluded from the production process, his right to remain the flesh of valorisation: the watchwords of the Reverend Paisley are typically proletarian, and are more or less the same that those of the P.D.: a roof, a job. But these demands from a bleak poverty (it is necessary to see at close hand the poverty of the Shankill Road Protestant ghetto, to understand) can be carried out currently only to the detriment of the Catholic proletariat, in the same way that any improvement in the fate of the Catholic proletariat can only cut into the thin slice of the cake which is allocated with the Protestant workers. It can seem paradoxical to speak of demands of proletarian type in connection with fascistic Protestant extremism; but not if it is understood that Fascism ("National-socialism ") is the realization on the back of the proletariat of its own immediate demands, after it has been crushed, and this in order to unify capital and to prepare its absolute reign over men. (Besides, it is Nazism that achieved the economic and "social" program of German social democracy). These struggles of the Protestants against the general interests of British capitalism intensified and became sharper, before the impossibility for English capitalism to modernize itself and unify in Ireland, by cutting down all the antiquated remainders (semi-colonial if one wants). That means that the reactionary struggle (in the sense of a reaction, of a return back, of a will to prevent the necessary modernization) of the Protestant community goes in a direction which international capitalism may find beneficial leaving Ireland undeveloped. . We are in an absurd and inhuman period that seems to have denied history, a period during which ideologies and reactionary social practices serve more developed capitalism, whereas until the immediate postwar period (the passage of the formal domination to the real domination of value then, had still not taken place completely), capital, to revolutionize itself, had to make appear progressive practices and ideologies, or claiming "change." Fascism, with its call to Order, to Blood, to the Nation, was the means to pass to a higher stage of capital; here the U.V.F., with its call to Order, to Blood, to the Nation, is the expression of the impossibility of passing to a higher stage. Senility of capitalism.
Therefore, in Ireland, the situation develops more contradictorily, the more the reactionary forces of Protestant extremism appear. Not having the same responsibility any more, they aggravate this contradiction, and make the modernisation of Ireland, at the same time desired and refused by capitalism, as we saw above, more unlikely and more difficult.
The more the contradiction develops the more the Protestant community is found in struggle against the Catholic community which, itself, doesn't defend its jobs, its wages, because it doesn't have anything to lose and everything to gain. To really understand the fact that proletarians clash with each other, it is evidently necessary constantly to remember that in a period of non struggle against capital, there is the tendency to make pre-capitalist conflicts which have more or less conjured away reappear, presenting them as eternal and trans-historic (women-men, unemployed-workers, young-old, etc.).
When the Catholic proletarian faces the Protestant proletarian, these are two fractions of the proletariat as variable capital that confront each other. These are two fractions of the community of capital. And what is extraordinary, is that there are present, under the aspect of struggles between men, the struggles between fractions of capital, and even of fractions of capital against the totality of capital. Fetishism can take it easy there, since after having identified social relations with relations between objects, it makes these appear as pre or post-capitalist social relations, in short, eternal.
One thus finds oneself in a situation where two working-class struggles clash, on two sides, two national-socialisms (fascism has its roots in the proletariat's movement as capital, just as the Stalinism has). Some demand the maintenance of their privileges, the others the right to work, national independence, national reunification, and political democracy. . We will examine the content and the social practice of the I.R.A. further, but we can try to see, briefly, how to characterize the Catholic extremism.
It is the classic program of national liberation, of "bureaucratic" revolutions, where it is a question of creating capitalism, or allowing its development. The program of the Bolshevik party, of the C.N.T., or of the F.L.N.: to create national capital, capitalism and the proletariat. The small and middle Catholic bourgeoisie, without employment in this underdeveloped Ireland, succeeded in dragging behind it the farmers of the South, and the Catholic workers and unemployed of North (agrarian reform, political democracy, national independence…) in short, the capitalist revolution. This explains the anachronistic, pre-capitalist character, of the forces and ideologies in play: nationalism, the religious question, etc. But, unlike with Lenin and the Bolsheviks, there is no longer any means of making this revolution in 1972, because if the national bourgeoisie (tied in fact to Great Britain) does not make the (bourgeois) revolution it is not that it is not strong enough to achieve it, but that it cannot carry it out any more, because it does not correspond any longer to the needs of capital, as we saw above. The bourgeois revolution in USSR was against the bourgeoisie and brought about the creation of Russian capital. The bourgeois revolution in Ireland (as in the Middle East) cannot be made any more, because on the one hand, it is already done in Northern Ireland and, on the other hand, the bourgeoisie is a completed class. As far as these historic tasks are concerned, capital dominates the world. The Bolsheviks made history, the Irish bourgeois revolution is a fart.
The return of folk and archaic Catholic nationalism proves to be more and more a vital necessity for developed capitalism. Let's explain ourselves: the more the I.R.A. struggles against the modernisation of Irish capital by the British (or para-British) bourgeoisie, the only modernisation possible "in extreme cases", wanting to impose its modernisation by the [par la !!!] reunification of Ireland under its leadership, which is, on the other hand under, completely impossible (all national liberation having become a change of one imperialism for another), the more the situation deteriorates, the more the crisis increases, the more the modernisation of Ireland makes itself remote and impossible, which is precisely way capitalism works, in its interests as a capitalism really dominating the world and having to sacrifice Ireland while refusing it capitalist citizenship. This shows how capitalism, in its phase of ultimate development, uses reactionary social forces and ideologies like nationalism and religion (cf: in the Middle East with the Palestine problem). And this shows how the I.R.A., for example, is a counter-revolutionary force, because: 1. it is reactionary, like the U.V.F. of Craig, but also: 2. it tries to divert the radical struggles of the catholic proletariat, purely negative to the system, (because without the possibility of realization or success because, unlike the Protestant workers, without anything to win or lose), to make them democratic, national struggles, etc. Catholic extremism is really a counter-revolutionary force, one of the manifestations of the interests of capital.
We have just seen how the struggle of the Irish proletariat was a struggle for capitalism, and this on both sides, but, also, we saw immediately how much this struggle was riddled with insurmountable contradictions. The more the reactionary and counterrevolutionary social forces are organized in Ireland, the more the situation is unresolved, the more Ireland is abandoned economically in a planned, certain and unavoidable way. And it is by this means only that Ireland accedes to the material community of capital, an international community of course. The social struggles that unfold become characteristic struggles of contemporary capitalism, proletarian struggles, struggles of the communist movement. Value while extending its reign everywhere, in an inverted and contradictory way, made it possible for communism to take hold everywhere, in a unitary and convergent way. The struggles which take place in Ireland, as in the Middle East, as recently in Madagascar, as in the Mezzogiorno, as in Quebec, have the characteristic of being at the same time struggles for the introduction of capitalism and struggles for its end. And the proletarian's being is torn in this same way. We will see how.
The Irish proletarian, at a time still recently peasant, or son of an unemployed person and unemployed himself, no one better than Engels defined the being of this worker of the beginning of capitalism, without reserves, planted in the modern industrial towns, reservoir of labour for capitalist England
"Two hundred thousand men — and what men! People who have nothing to lose, two-thirds of whom are clothed in rags, genuine proletarians and sansculottes and, moreover, Irishmen, wild, headstrong, fanatical Gaels. One who has never seen Irishmen cannot know them. Give me two hundred thousand Irishmen and I will overthrow the entire British monarchy." – "Letter from London"
Schweizerischer Republikaner No. 51, June 27, 1843
But we must also see it like a modern proletariat, pure product of the capitalist phase that we live in, and planted in an undeveloped capitalist zone. Let us examine two aspects of this situation: on the one hand, the importance of non-workers or unemployed, in the proletariat (catholic especially) and of the gangs of youths, characteristic of the proletarian movement of the "advanced" countries.
Science has replaced man in the global labour process and, in Ireland, he tends to be more and more excluded from it even before he can enter it. Because of this, cyclical unemployment becomes structural, acquiring a more or less important constancy. On the other hand, the proletarian tends to be excluded more and more from this process whose dominant existence as the international process of valorization destroys the material bases of the ideology of work. The critique of work appears among young Irish proletarians, as among young American proletarians, born with or in the real domination of capital, by its refusal in various forms: regular absences from work 3 or its categorical rejection (facilitated by the impossibility of working for the young Catholic proletarian) which involves living on their wits as a means of subsistence. From this comes the extraordinary development in Ireland as in Europe or in the U.S.A., of "juvenile delinquency". In Ireland as in the U.S.A., it’s gone from the stage of juvenile delinquency to the stage of "barbarism" where proletarians destroy themselves. The struggle between Catholic workers without work and without "rights" and Protestant workers, massively recall the barbarism of U.S.A. : the murderers being proletarians rejected from the work process by automation and the planification of this process, the impoverished masses recreated at the highest stage of capitalism, that of material abundance, the victims being, for their part, proletarians having the chance to be provisionally kept in the labour process as fodder for surplus value. This same rift between proletarians, characteristic of the period of none struggle against capital in developed capitalism, at the same time heralds something else. This negation of the proletariat by capital is the herald of struggles leading, in fact, under this crust, and which are communist struggles, towards the negation of the proletariat by itself. The unemployed proletarian of the Falls also joins the black worker of Watts.
The proletarians, thus taken out of the process of production, return to an existence as potential commodities, the basis for the creation of waged work, but contrary to the unemployed and the lumpen of the 19th century, they do not constitute a backward sector of capital. The unemployed, victims in the 19th century of the destruction of pre-capitalist sectors, then constituted potential future commodities as their ability to work in the production process, the very future of the capitalist mode of production being born and with its development in front of it. Today, in Ireland, they are not only that, but the very product of this development come to its end. They constitute from now on commodities without a future, not being able and no longer wanting to be used in the process of production. They are at the same time the extreme advance of the system which, historically, they didn't need to go through, while remaining an even more potential commodity.
In an immediate way, these commodities not circulating anymore on the specific labour market, circulate on the market common to all products: space time of distribution-consumption. They are confronted like any other commodities and are consumed between them: competition, emulation, elimination. On this basis appeared the hierarchical gangs of young proletarians in the years 55-60, "black leathers", "rockers", etc, which clash between each other, and whose members also clash within each gang for the right to the leadership, because each commodity and each community of commodities only exist by difference. The first of these bands appeared in Germany in the Thirties. This terrain of circulation and consumption is also where the ideological speech of value materialized in the commodity exercises itself. These communities of young proletarians live this ideology completely and live only it. The refusal of work is accompanied in them by a glorification by the commodities and themselves as commodities, product of the system (they wind their mechanisms and no longer those of the production process). They exist also as a community of capital and their particularity is to be it visibly.
However when these communities of non-working proletarians rebel against the order of capital, they show a destructive potential which calls into question the whole rationality of the system. Indeed, considering the extreme place that they occupy there, these communities in struggle unveil the whole system and the very organization of their existence as commodities. By the ["par le"!!] plunder of the stores of Londonderry, they criticize this existence which can only be gone beyond in the human community rid of capital. Such were the black revolts in the U.S.A. in 65, whose communist potential strongly appeared.
Thus, by destroying the material bases of work and of its ideology, by creating communities of interests situated beyond work, and thus potentially of capital, it creates its opposite and the very bases of its negation: the product and its ideology are nothing if the possibility and the consciousness of productive labour largely dissolve.
These movements of struggle are politically unorganisable, from the outside, by their purely destructive character, a potential negation of the capitalist order. Because what is contained in the refusal of work — or the impossibility of doing it — is the historical consciousness of the proletariat which is born and develops starting from the dissolution of the ideology of work and political ideology. Historical consciousness has been released from its ideological usurper: the refusal of work comes with the refusal of "politics". This is clearly characteristic of the Derry Young Hooligans, for example. This revolutionary consciousness appeared in the Young Hooligans of Derry and of Ulster passing from its immediate form of consciousness destructive of the product, of all the products of the system, (cf: J-P. Carasso, the interview with a Hooligan in La Rumeur Irlandaise) to its superior form of consciousness of the need for destruction of the system producing of these products. Thus the "yobs" of Derry organized themselves in a movement: The Young Hooligans, who were in the center of the radical proletarian struggles of the summer of ‘69. But it is quite obvious that this revolutionary consciousness cannot even be realised within these struggles and their terrain: extra-productive space-time; it must penetrate the places of production or else it will just reproduce the must reproduce the impoverished trade of these communities. While fighting against the system, they are themselves changed little by little and have ceased clashing amongst themselves. Capital creates its own gravediggers. (It is also necessary to see the extraordinary role of the community of women in the struggle of the summer of 1969). There we have a preview of the way in which the human community slowly forms itself in its struggle against the system.
If we look at the historical schema of the events in Ireland, we can see two phases there. The first is during the summer and autumn 69, where the struggle of the catholic proletariat was posed in an absolutely proletarian and communist way : attempts at occupation and destruction of factories, workers self-defence, collective organization of the life of the districts and timid attempts at the transformation of production (to make weapons, etc), mass armed struggle, organized by Young Hooligans and People's Democracy, corresponding then to the need of the moment.
But very quickly, because of the impossibility of really developing into something else, for the good reason that the Irish situation is also a situation of the beginning of capitalism, where therefore proletarian struggles are also support struggles for the petite and middle bourgeoisie (besides national liberation being impossible), and that the Catholic proletariat could not have access to the places of industrial production where the practical direction of any proletarian movement rises from; and the proletariat thus divided (the industrial workers above all being Protestant) through the struggle which took place, all fell again in the mud and the sludge of nationalism, of the inter-proletarian religious struggles, the practical direction of the movement thus falling into the hands of the counter-revolutionary petite bourgeoisie, to bring about the sad, well-known events for two and half years. The IRA, after the defeat and its consequences for the proletarian movement, came out of its limbo to speak about it in the most contemptible way.
Let’s say a few words in passing about the IRA, so as to define it.
The I.R.A. is a national-socialist organization , because it identifies socialism with the nation, because it claims the liberation of the "nation", at a time when it is not even progressive for capital any more, because it tries to identify the proletariat with the Nation and with Religion, not without success, because the proletariat is also variable capital. . It fixes the proletariat to its existence as capital, by asserting its existence as material community of capital. The IRA mythologizes the Catholic proletariat while preventing it from understanding the necessity to meet up with the Protestant proletariat in the same proletarian struggle, no longer "democratic" or ideological. The democratic demands of the IRA are the demands of the Organised Counter-Revolution in Ireland. In 1972, the essence of the counter-revolution passes from its authoritarian form (issuing however from democratic legality, cf Hitler or Mussolini) to its democratic form. It thus exacerbates the conditions of its death, by widening the fault lines which Irish society is falling into and where it will be pushed, when the catholic proletariat will rise again; the anger of the catholic proletarians is increasingly acute (channeled for the moment by the IRA) and meets the increasingly acute anger of the Protestant proletarians who see all their gains collapsing. Intersection is more and more on the agenda between the Catholic and Protestant proletarians, because it is against the same system that they fight, and the IRA, or the UVF, will be able to do nothing then.
The IRA, where Maoists, Communist Party Stalinists, leftists, republicans and the extreme right (Defence of the Celtic west) are found side by side, is the very epitome of the anti-proletarian organization of the alliance of classes, exercising its barbarism and its terrorism on the back of the proletariat: the bombs kill just as well the workers as the bourgeois, the kids as well as the adults, and Catholics at the same time as others; and even the IRA which terrorizes itself when devoting itself to murderous quarrels: the IRA realises capital by making the already miserable survival of the Catholic proletarians a hell of anguish and terror where death imprisons human reason, delivering it to the sundry reprisals and raids by the army and police. Provisionals, like the Officials, stink of the inhuman nature of man. The IRA is a fascist racket. It sets up its police, its courts, its administration, its taxes and lives on the Catholic proletariat like a leech. It goes as far to administer justice by covering in tar and feathers a proletarian caught robbing a small shopkeeper. It can only defend the small trader against the proletarian. It is the political representation of the middle layers refusing proletarianisation and makes its law reign in the international interest of capital. The IRA is also the political representation of the proletariat as capital. The I.R.A. is also the political representation of capital in Ireland.
The revolutionaries must denounce its crimes like the crimes of the English army or of Craig’s madmen. The revolutionaries, in Ireland, should have like prime objective the practical critique of the I.R.A., thus joining again with the Catholic proletariat, which is starting to express its increasingly obvious dissension with the I.R.A.‘s terrorism and racketing (cf the recent demonstration of women). In any case, the Irish proletariat will have, in its struggle, to cut down the I.R.A., or to be cut down by it, and as long as the final international victory has not arrived, the I.R.A. will always have its material bases of existence
Now let’s note three things:
1. Firstly, that it is the same people who in Europe praise the I.R.A. and who hold popular tribunals whether closed or public, who torture in the caves in the name of the people (Moussana Foufana 4 ), who defend Cid-Unati 5 and the stores of the Latin Quarter during looting, who divert and sabotage all struggles by mythologising them and "democratizing them", who support an examining magistrate against a "sexual degenerate" 6 and who tear apart and kill each other (the United Red Army in Japan). You see who we mean?
2. The second concerns the inability of the Irish groupuscules to escape from their impotence, and especially their incredible tendency to lose all critical sense and communist activity. During the period of radical struggles of 69, they stuck to reality, by animating the Catholic collectivity in struggle, by tackling the problems of socialism, of the proletarian revolution, with the result that within the P.D. they could thus be allied with the Young Hooligans, all this making the populist, democratic and Leninist ideology which infected them disappear (but alas only provisionally). They had understood two things: that the Catholic workers and unemployed were then the avant-garde of the communist movement, and that the unification of the Catholic and Protestant proletarians was necessary. But they believed that this unification would happen under the slogans and demands of the Catholics, whereas this unification cannot be made, other than outwards, and beyond, and counter to their Catholic proletarian and Protestant proletarian interests, that is to say interests as parts of capital.. We won’t see the Protestant worker uniting with the Catholic worker on these issues, which would only make him lose his meagre advantages as a proletarian not yet excluded from the labour process. The Protestant worker recruited by Paisley defends the price of his labour power, full stop. The unification will only happen between Protestant and Catholic workers as proletarians denying the system, the proletariat, and therefore religion. This will not be the addition of Catholics and Protestants but they will no longer be either Catholic or Protestant, Catholicism and Protestantism having fallen away as the struggle progresses. People's Democracy, after the defeat of the movement of 69, only followed its lamentable degeneration, all the ideology resurfacing: Leninism, Catholicism, populism, "self-managementism", republicanism; the sects confronted each other again, politics regained it prerogatives. Incapable of understanding that the proletariat that followed the IRA acted only as capital, it started getting delirious, mythologising the proletariat and the people, in short the immediate consciousness of proletarian capital, and began to tag along behind the old IRA in a mind-boggling way. The "Civil rights" ideology again perked itself up, but the proletarian struggle is henceforth quite foreign to it. The role of the Irish revolutionaries is to tirelessly show what the struggles are, where the proletariat's interests are, to help the Protestant communities to defend themselves against the republican raids, the Catholic communities against the raids of the army and Orangists, to fight against the IRA and the Protestant extremist forces, to present communism constantly in the conflicts where it seems to hardly appear, and so to encourage the real proletarian struggle, that will sweep away all this dungheap while setting out again from the places of production where the Protestant worker dominates for the moment.
Will the unification happen? and modernization? And who will do it? English capital? The I.R.A.? In any event, all the solutions are without effect, the breach cannot be dammed; all solutions will be made on the back of the proletariat and will only sharpen its struggle. Non unification will entail more and more carnage, terrorism, barbarism, on the back of the proletarians. Unification will entail a frantic overexploitation. In both cases, the civil war can only turn into social war.
Let us reconsider here the characterization of the struggle of the Ulster proletariat. This struggle, of a double nature, torn, and contradictory (at a same time typically bourgeois and potentially communist) is of the same nature as the struggles that take place in a certain countries which are neither of the Third World, nor fully capitalist, in these zones that are at the beginning of capitalism and still, theoretically, have to effect their national liberation, but which cannot do it any more; universalized modern capitalism extended its reign and, in these zones, the proletariat is therefore also the modern proletariat. All these proletarians who will never enter the process of work, because they are already excluded from it, also join the level of struggle of the American proletarians, for example.
The fact that capital in Ireland also dominates in a developed way, prevents the struggles from being purely bourgeois, and prevents archaic pre-capitalist forces or organizers of the accumulation of capital, from coming into existence, and achieving their goals. Thus the I.R.A. is runs up continuously against this impossibility of carrying out its program and using the strength of the proletariat for its capitalist objectives (which capital refuses to realise), and that is why it is impossible to reduce the struggles of the Irish proletariat to struggles of the national liberation, bourgeois, Leninist, etc., type. Behind the archaic and counterrevolutionary forces, the subversive and Communist struggle of the proletariat continuously shows its face and upsets the balance of forces by imposing moments of proletarian struggle in rupture, as in Derry and Belfast in 1969, moments during which the archaic and counterrevolutionary social forces lose their grip and temporarily disappear. In 1969, the IRA no longer had any power.
That is why the third-worldist, Leninist schema that assimilates socialism to the national liberation struggle, and the anti-third-worldist, ultra-leftist schema that assimilates the struggle of the Irish proletariat solely to a national liberation struggle, are each as inoperative as each other. These schemas come from a comprehension of the capitalist system in a period now past, during which capital dominated still formally, and during which there were still real struggles of national liberation, in the sense of the accumulation and the creation of a national capital. . Now that this kind of liberation is impossible, and that capital really dominates - all capitalist zones, even the less developed, are under its complete domination, and the proletariat's struggle is already potentially communist already.
But, for this reason, the proletariat cannot manage in Ireland to impose its struggle, and it is brought back continually to a capitalist and national-liberation struggle. Indeed, the communist revolution can only start from the industrially advanced countries and can only take its sense and direction from the struggles of the industrial proletariat. What inevitably leads each struggle of the Irish proletariat to be crushed militarily by the state or the counterrevolutionary forces are social bases that are very deep-rooted in the situation. And every time the forces of national liberation or political democracy like the I.R.A. or the U.V.F. reinstate and recuperate it in their struggle for capitalism. And again the proletariat is reduced to be only a fraction of capital, variable capital in movement and in competition, from where the confrontations between Catholic and Protestant proletarians. The fact that it cannot hit capitalist production, because it is some only at the beginning, it is reduced then, as in USSR in 1917 or Cuba in 1956, to be only an auxiliary force to the small and middle bourgeoisie for the creation or the continuation of this production.
But this small and middle bourgeoisie with no historical future is found more and more tragically impotent, and again, ineluctably, the revolutionary proletariat expresses its communist potentiality in Northern Ireland.
It is in these parts of the world (Ireland, etc.) that struggles in space-time outside work (streets, neighbourhoods, lodgings, women movements, insurrection, armed struggle) go the farthest, but cannot articulate themselves with the principal struggle at the places of production, which exist more or less, in the milieu of poor peasants. It just goes to show how much, the more capital dominates universally, the more relations are eminently dialectical between struggles, internationally speaking. Internationalism becomes then this social dialectic in struggle. Indeed, at the time when the capitalist world is only one capitalist nation, the outside-work struggles of the Irish proletariat are articulated (still unconsciously, certainly) with the struggles at the places of production that take place in Britain, the U.S.A., in Northern Italy. It is this movement that is international. The struggle of the Irish proletarians is therefore, understood in that way, in any event, potentially inserted in the international proletarian struggle. Even if, and it is necessary to repeat this tirelessly, it is solely the advanced industrial proletariat who is going to trigger and to direct the communist struggle (and that left to themselves, the Irish proletarians can do nothing), the Ulster proletariat will be able to join the communist proletarian revolution immediately and historically on its most advanced level at the time of its starting point, and its contribution will be directly challenging to capital and will be the bearer of communism. The Irish proletarians will be able to finally realize their moments of rupture, always crushed and turned against them, by integrating them into the real movement. As it is only at the international level that Ireland is capitalistically developed, by its place in the international division of labour, and not at the Irish level, the Irish proletariat is potentially directly and immediately "international".
What is tremendous, is that the Irish proletariat will have the advantage, being at the same time at the beginning and already of the end of capitalism, not to have need to get rid of the forces and ideologies related to the development capitalism, such as social democracy, trade unions, the CP, leftism, but will directly reach communism while then facing the counter-revolution directly (the I.R.A., the U.V.F…) which will be perfectly visible. It will be carrying a violence and a class radicality completely immunized and without obstacles.
In Northern Ireland as elsewhere, proletarians struggle against capital. Whether they are Catholic or Protestant, it is a question of the same struggle, even though this common struggle makes them confront each other. It is not a paradox but a contradiction which contains within itself the germs of its supercession: unification of the Class- practical-negation-of-Capital. It is not a paradox for anyone who has understood that any group, or human community, established on the basis of capitalism exists only by having the same mode of existence as capital, i.e. this group, or human community, confronts one (or some) groups or human communities constituted on the same basis (capitalism) and confronts the totality.
It is not a paradox for anyone who has grasped that the developed capitalist system brings about the reappearance of pre-capitalist conflicts within them that capital did not solve, but more or less retracted during and by its development: women-men, children-adults, Catholics-Protestants, Jews-Arabs, etc. This image of society wants to be a neutral picture, where the fundamental and historic conflict (proletariat-capital) is denied in favour "non historic, "natural", "eternal" conflicts, (young-old, women-men, religious, racial conflicts), but rests at the same time on material bases: the opposition between competing sectors of capital. That is to say that in so far as these conflicts are at the same time exacerbations of real conflicts, they are also a means for capital to ideologically deny its existence and that of the proletariat. And this, divided by these conflicts into competing communities, exacerbating these conflicts, practically carries out this negation, because it is playing with fire to allow the proletariat to develop the contradictions of capital to the point of overturning the bases of the system by the same token; but the system cannot do otherwise and, in that, nourishes its own grave-digger. It is on the basis of these separations that the unification of the Irish proletariat is going to be made. Catholic proletarians who fight for the rise of the current level of the price of their labour power, and Protestant proletarians who fight for the defense of their own current level by confronting each other, develop the bases of their unification and, at the same time, the bases of the end of the Catholic or Protestant religions. At the ideological and political level, it is the first time that a struggle has appeared where the two protagonists are both "national-socialisms", and this in the same "State". And it is quite obvious that National-Socialism (whether it is Nazi, Maoist or Chilean) which is a recuperation of a proletarian struggle, only has a chance of success if it opposes a "foreign" capitalism to the profit of a "national" capitalism or, and it is not a question of the contrary here: one National-Socialism against another, two negations that annul themselves and reveal a still divided proletarian movement. The religious and nationalist struggles of Northern Ireland have served the bourgeoisie, in the first place, as a means to mask the fights between fractions of capital and to divert the struggle of the proletariat but, on the other hand, they turn themselves against capital by making appear and prodigiously accelerating a proletarian movement still divided and mystified. In Ireland as elsewhere, the proletariat, in the course of its struggles, even while fooled and made gangrenous by the religious and nationalist rot, is in the process of reunifying itself as a class. The Irish proletariat, during its struggle which recovered the forms and the content of the most radical proletarian struggles of the developed capitalist "States" (U.S.A., G. B., etc.) will topple the reactionary ideologies (nationalism, Christianity) that muddle it, as the western, American and Russian proletariat, will topple the counterrevolutionary ideologies that encumbers it (trade unionism, Stalinism, social democracy, etc.), except that it is easier to get rid of the IRA than the CGT because the IRA, an anachronistic organization that has its bases of material existence in a pre-capitalist situation, is of little weight in relation to the CGT that has its basis of existence in the very development of capitalism.
The more the Irish proletariat, divided by capital into opposing sectors of capital, denied thus by capital, exacerbates the contradictions of capital, the more it exacerbates the fundamental contradiction proletariat-capital, and thus tends to reform the unity of the class.
The Irish proletariat will have to get rid of its organizations such as the I.R.A. or the U.V.F. Only the autonomous proletarian struggle can do the job of constituting itself as a community for the negation of capital, while including all capitalized sectors of the proletariat and the proletarianized middle strata. In a period of struggle against capital, the class reforms itself. That is communism; it is this movement which breaks through all the barriers in its path, and which realises (while overturning) the negation of the proletariat and of work by capital, and then abolishes the proletariat and work, and therefore capital.
One can predict for the Irish proletariat a qualitative development of its struggles. The external manifestations will be difficult to discern, but the content will appear little by little as a barer of the new world, joining the highest struggles of the proletariat of the developed countries for the abolition of the class system. The class struggle will be more and more conscious of being more than a bearer of the interests of a class, but of the interests and the passions of proletarianized humanity. The ex-Protestant worker of Belfast, the ex-Catholic unemployed of Londonderry, and the small peasant of the Donegal, will be able to put fire to the Montjoy jail of Dublin and to Donegal Square in Belfast in all "unity." They will be one of the numerous sections of the world party of negation, the revolutionary proletariat, and will really join again, by going beyond it historically, the mythical legend of Gaels.
Over there, as here or elsewhere, stop the anti-imperialist mystification!
Stop the nationalist mystification! Civil war!
And therefore, war with the I.R.A.!
The only problem on the agenda is communism; the revolutionaries must constantly indicate their positions and must denounce the aberrations logical of ideology; we must thus, here in France, to contribute to the struggle of the Irish proletariat, not only while fighting against capital, here, in France, but while attacking everywhere we will be, the demonstrations of support for the I.R.A. or some other counterrevolutionary force. We must for that, not hesitate to make "the ruthless criticism of the existing order, ruthless in that it will shrink neither from its own discoveries, nor from conflict with the powers that be." (K Marx, letter to Ruge, of September 1843 translation from Marxists.org).
"Nothing prevents us, therefore, from lining our criticism with a criticism of politics, from taking sides in politics, i.e., from entering into real struggles and identifying ourselves with them." (ibid). "Our programme must be: the reform of consciousness not through dogmas but by analyzing mystical consciousness obscure to itself, whether it appear in religious or political form…"(ibid)
"We are therefore in a position to sum up the credo of our journal in a single word: the self-clarification (critical philosophy) of the struggles and wishes of the age."
From Dublin to Londonderry, it is again and always the social war that spreads under all its most abject religious and political disguises, and it is always and again this old social war that reaffirms, invariably, the movements, the origins, the means and the ends of communism. The historic cycle of the social revolution has begun.
The communist revolution, for the first time in history, is inscribed as pure communist revolution. It no longer has to fulfill a certain number of tasks, the socialization of the productive forces, the concentration of labour, the unification of humanity and the development of automation, tasks which have been fulfilled by modern capitalism. The horizon is cleared of all this mess – it is potentially ready for the complete communist revolution. The proletariat no longer has a need (and it is not any more a question) of trying to impose its dictatorship on the world, by means of the Workers Councils or the Party, but has only to negate itself, to abolish itself. And it can do nothing less. The emancipation of man is the emancipation of the proletarian, because man has become a proletarian in his totality. The proletariat no longer has to accomplish any romantic task, but only its human work. 7
When all the internal conditions are met, the day of the human resurrection will be announced by the resounding crow of the Gaelic cock, among other "ardent Galliformes"…8
J Yves BÉRIOU.
This work does not seek to be a developed total analysis, it seeks to start a discussion. It must be set back in a general comprehension of the real movement. Certain passages are drawn as is from a booklet coming out very shortly: Negation I (Alain Ajax, 9, street of Valence, Paris-5 ').
This article was published in Les Temps Modernes in June 1972. It was reprinted in a pamphlet IRA Fasciste contre État-Flic published by Association Noir in Geneva in the late 1970s. Taken from the Antagonism website.
- 1The verb "maspériser" refers to the act of deliberately falsifying the meaning of a political text by selectively editing it. It is named after François Maspéro, the famous leftist bookseller, publisher and, since 1984, writer. He was originally a CP sympathiser but became a third worldist and edited the journal "Partisans". In 1968 this journal published a fragment of a leaflet by the "Council for the Maintenance of the Occupations" with an additional pro-CGT(!) section grafted on at the beginning. The Situationist International were not amused...
- 2No 2 of Invariance, is very useful on this subject. Camatte, B.P. 133, 83 - Brignoles.
- 3Cf various texts published on the struggles in the U.S.A. in "Informations Correspondance Ouvrières", P. Blachier, B.P. 14, F-92360 Meudon-the-Forest.
- 4We don’t know who Moussana Foufana was. If anyone knows…
- 5The CID UNATI was a union for small shop keepers that was very aggressive against the state and the police (in a very humorous way sometimes, for instance completely dismantling a tax inspector’s car or occupying "live" TV shows). They were sympathetic to the left. It started in 1969 and lasted until 1974 and was very much in the mold of post ’68 partial struggle in defence of the "little guy" against monopoly capitalism.
- 6This refers to the "Bruay en Artois" case in 1972. A 17-year old working class girl was found raped and murdered. The juge d'instruction, Pascal, decided to look for the guilty man among the decadent bourgeoisie. He found a notary, Mr Leroy, and accused him of the crime, apparently because he was known as a "swinger" ("partouzard"). But there was no real evidence and the notary was released. The Maoists decided that the state had defended one of its own (class justice) and created popular committees and a popular court to support the judge and condemn the notary, appealing to the most reactionary sexual prejudices.
- 7Cf. Le Mouvement Communiste, G. Dauvé, B.P. n• 24, 93 - Bondy.
- 8Galliformes – fouls and game birds of various kinds (see http://www.gbwf.org/)