Republicans Should Not Be Prisoners of the Past

Some thoughts.

Republicans, of all hues, need to accept that the republic declared in 1916 is gone. The mandate from the first Dáil is gone. Everyone who sat in it or voted in the elections are dead. It ratified the Proclamation and declared independence yes, but it was then defeated and crushed.The good guys lost, and not for the first time.

Documents such as the Proclamation and the Democratic program of the first Dáil should not be treated as gospel, or things which define or limit republican socialism. The Irish Republic declared in 1916 was not the first one declared. Republics were declared in 1798, 1803 and 1867. These did not utterly dominate and limit subsequent republican revolutionaries – each attempted revolution was a revolution of its day. Not one of a hundred years before, despite the general arguments and ideas being similar. These declarations and assorted documents merely served as inspiration and templates. They were an evolution, and its wrong to treat the documents and writings of the 1916 revolutionary period as the zenith of republican thought. It is forever a work in progress.

1916 was almost a hundred years ago. Todays generation treat it as history, not something which is relevant to their day to day lives today. It doesn’t capture the imagination beyond being a mere tale of heroism, like a film or book. The parallels, unfinished business and echoes of life today in that time should be but footnotes, not the main thrust of argument from revolutionary republicans.

The past should be a reference, a guide, inspiration – the work should be towards building and arguing for a new Republic, a new living, breathing country – one obviously relevant to the struggles the masses of today have, in a language they understand – rather than attempts at resurrecting one which died.

Republicans also need to accept that they have lost the struggle of the past half century or so – militarily and propaganda wise too. The “Brits Out” aspiration, while an admirable, worthy goal should not be the main thrust of argument – people are conditioned to be repelled at that. Instead of briefly mentioning the IMF, Troika and other associated capitalist colonial and imperialist tools as a footnote and parallel to British imperialism it should be the main thrust of argument as it is clear to the general public the damage and wrongs they are doing today. There is not the same moralistic clouds of hand-wringing over that as there is about British imperialism. Continuing the way things are going will mean that by and large only the initiated – a few supporters of broadly nationalist parties will ever be persuaded to support, or at least see the need for, a revolution. Focusing on the IMF and the forces that are ruling Europe and how to combat against this will widen the gene pool. Once initiated it can easily be explained to them how British imperialism in Ireland is the exact same and must be removed also. Make the easy sell first.

Saoirse go Deo  22.3.2013

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