The Plough

Address given by IRSP Ard Comhairle Terry Harkin to Fringe Meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party:

Comrades, let me first thank you for this invitation. It is an honour for us to be invited to address this meeting organised by the SRSP--one of the few socialist and republican groupings left who actually conform to standards legislation by meaning what they say on the packet. Let's face it; if we lived in a society governed by advertising standards, there would be more than the British Labour Party in the dock for false advertising.

But we don't; we live in a society where a government's only reason for
being is to provide fodder for big business and novo-imperialism--fodder to
be used, exploited, exported, burnt out, degraded and tossed away.

Comrades we live in a world where, if governments do not provide that
fodder cheaply enough, then it's no problem; other fodder can easily be
obtained from other governments who will willingly sell the children of
their land into servitude for a pittance in tax, such is their lack of pride.

India, one of the largest and naturally richest places on the face of the
planet, is reduced to selling its children into sweat shops and call
centres because its natural resources have been systematically raped for
centuries by colonial imperialists who retained their assets and paid
little or no reparations on "disengagement".

South Africa, where the diamonds and gold under an ANC government should be
the property of the people of South Africa, yet we see the mines still in
the hands of multinationals and the people of that nation still enslaved
and still digging their own resources from their own land for strangers.

In Iraq and Afghanistan the story is much the same. Although in these
nation states the novo imperialists have the decency to come with painted
faces, Bull Pups or M 16s at the ready. Here they come as mercenaries in
the pay of high capitalism, resplendent in their traditional tribal garb.

In Ireland and Scotland we know these scenarios well; it is the way of the
bully, the rule of the bigot and thief. It is the conquerors' way and we too
have drunk from this cup. We understand it; however, what I can't understand
is why? Why do we let it happen? Not you and I here today comrades, but we
as a society. Why? The answer seems to be simple; we let it happen because
it's easy to. It's easy (but not cheap) to dress your kids in trendy
brands even though you know for a fact they were put together for a
pittance by children and other exploited workers in some far flung place
you will never see and know the pain of.

So you're content to spend the equivalent of the average national wage on a
top, jeans and trainers for just one of your kid's. It's easy to let your
kids spend your money on Westlife CD's even though you know that you're
putting money into the pockets of those who sold their birthright to sell
records by endorsing little red paper flowers to remember with "pride" the
fallen of an army that levelled large parts of their home town (in living
memory) and who tied one of the greatest labour leaders of all time to a
chair and shot him. Like I said before, it's easy.

When I was young, the brother of comrade Patsy O' Hara, then on hunger
strike, once told me an undeniable truth during a conversation. He said,
"Just because you have a bit of carpet and a colour TV in your living room,
it doesn't mean that you're not being oppressed".

Things have changed of course--wooden floors, PC's, FST's and DVD's now
festoon our living rooms; but in essence we are more oppressed than ever and
in our unwillingness as a society to grasp this nettle, we oppress others.
Who made your shirt? How much were they paid? How much did you pay? What
was the profits margin? These are questions every one should be asking but
only a few socialists are.

Let's extrapolate that to include the world and Irish questions. The Ronald
Reagan New World Order exploits of Tony and Bush jr have reduced the world
to a war zone in waiting. The hypocrisy used as a justification to get us
to this point are as frightening as the situation itself. It seems to
work something like this. First Britain and the US sell you what they call
WMD; you go off and use it for its intended use. Then, the UK and US invade
your land and thieve your oil because you used the weapons they sold you.
That's nice work if you can get it. It's true; it's cool to be Tony and
Doublya. No one, not even the UN can stand against you. With the media
moguls in your pocket (or is that you in their pay) you can say what you
want and their hirelings will sanitise it and dumb it down or sex it up for
a population devoid of the ability or will to question the obvious reality

In Ireland the same tactics are employed; no one questions the government
and Pro Good Friday parties. No one seems able or willing to look beyond
the hype coming from these groups. They can't get past worrying where the
next pair of Reebok is coming from, and that is the only thing that is
keeping the GFA alive.

I mean come on, what is it for? Who does it serve and just why in the name
of God are the American novo-imperialists involved? I don't even pretend to
know the answers to these questions but I do know this. It is not for the
working class in Ireland North or South, Prod or Taig. It is not the
instrument of reunification it has been touted as. It has copper fastened
partition, enshrined in law sectarianism to a point never dreamed of by
Carson and Craigavon at the formation of the Orange State. It has deprived
the indigenous (and I do not use that word out of context) population of
the North of what little cover offered by Articles II/III of the Republic's
constitution. It serves no one other than the artificially planted
Ascendancy and their artificial state. The reality gap on the loyalist side
is very glaring in Ireland; they can't decide what to worry more about--their
Britishness or the next pair of Nike's.

The English, as the Scot's and Irish know well, have a decidedly funny take
on democracy. First they invade you, killing as many as they can at the
start to terrorise the others. Then they splash a bit of money about, buy
who they can, kill or forcibly evict those they can't. Move their own
people on to the land then call an election, blacken all those who stand
against them terrorists and enemies of democracy. Sound familiar? Ireland,
Scotland, Wales, Afghanistan, Iraq and wherever next. It's the English way,
the American way, the Old Colonial and Novo Imperialist way. The beauty
today is the same as it always been, because you own the media or it owns
you, you get to regurgitate all the old lines and spoon feed them to the
people in the sure belief that 90% will swallow it whole. Why, again I ask
why? And this time I'm not talking about society I'm talking about us.

Comrades we are the other 10%, and we are shared, marginalised,
compartmentalised and demonised. All by our own hand. Sectarianism, elitism
and sheer inability to work with other groups and groupings within the left
has handed victory to the enemies of the working class time and again.

At times like this I always remember my first encounter with the SWP some
20 years ago at Speakers Corner. It was a Bloody Sunday March that was just
forming up to move off to Kilburn High Road. Back in those days the march
went to Kilburn and the call was Troops Out and Self Determination for the
Irish people. I miss the old days, but anyway. The NF attacked the march as
it was forming up and comrades from Red Action and the Socialist Federation
ran out to defend the crowd. It was then that the SWP chose to "sloganise".
"Hold the line," they said. "Chant slogans," they shouted as 200 fascists
advanced and two female comrades were beaten to a pulp in front of them. I
left that day with a bitter, bitter hatred of all those on the left who
stood on the sidelines, sloganeering and recruiting while a few comrades
fought everyones fight just yards away.

Fast-forward to the eve of the first Gulf War and a meeting in Conway Mill
in Belfast. Eamon Mc Cann, the SWP's Ireland guru is holding forth on how
socialists should be supporting Sadam in the coming war. Come on Eamon, the
guy gassed the Kurds who were involved at that time and still are involved
in a legitimate liberation struggle of their own.

In the last few years the leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist
Movement has sat down and talked to governments who have ordered the
deaths, imprisonment, torture of its membership and exclusion of the IRSM
over the last three decades. I've sat down with loyalists, unionist
politicians and Presbyterian clergymen and all in an effort to move the
Peace Process on beyond the GFA. In all that time only one group--no not
the loyalists that the INLA hit harder than any other Group during the late
war; not the Governments the IRSM had sought to over throw; it wasn't even
the Unionists; of all people it was the Socialist Environmental Alliance!...
Colin Brice, an SWP stalwart stood up at a recent meeting of this group and
announced to the world, "While the INLA is in existence we will not work
with the IRSP". Now, I don't know who ate the cream off this comrades bun
when he was a kid, but for a man who claims to be a revolutionary to stand
up and make a statement like that it must have been bad. The GFA is up the
creek, the air is not fit to breath, people are going to be charged for
water and oh yes, there's a world war starting. So, what do people like
this do? They get all chauvinistic about who they are going to talk too.
Echoes of Spain during the Civil War or what?

Revolutionaries like that comrades, they make me weep! That's the SWP for
you again. Let's face it comrades, I don't like these guys I find them
elitist arrogant hurs who systematically target, acquire and then proceed
to burn out the brightest most promising socialists of each generation for
no perceivable gain. Don't get me wrong comrades--they're great folks if you
want to get your placards seen in the media, but I've never met one in the
house of someone who's just been "Pipe Bombed". I've never seen them with
their placards when loyalist mobs are carrying out pogroms in N. Belfast.
Most of them are nice people personally but I'm glad when I sleep over in
N. Belfast that it's Connolly's sons and daughters who hold the line at
night. However, I see the need to work with them, and God love me, I
probably will have to one day. I'm using them as an analogy, because of
personal experience, but the process of political exclusion of other left
comrades they embody is transferable to us all at times.

I'll tell you this comrades--we are it; we are the 10%. There is No One
Else. The excrement is on the blades of the air conditioner and we have one
hand of cards to play and we must play them between us. Reagan's New World
Order as interpreted by Doublya and Tony is coming and it is bringing with
it a war whose casualty figures will dwarf those of the American Civil and
World Wars I and II combined. Global Capitalism is marching to war and it's
dragging us and the entire working class with it.

We have no Connolly, we have no McLean. We, comrades, are it. And we had
better be up to the task. Sectarianism within the left is worth a million
paid informers to those who benefit from our disunity. It is their way of
controlling and nullifying us. It is time for us to put away childish
notions, pick up our collective cross and walk on. Get in there tomorrow
comrades and push your motion but do not be despondent if it fails by the
hand of the slackers. Their small minds will count it a victory, but
they'll know full soon that their fence is on fire and that watery lefty
politics can't cut it any more when Iraq is in flames as it will be with
more and more young Scots being sent to fight Tony's folly. Hate them for
their actions, despise them for their ineptitude, but never, ever turn your
backs on them. Let us go from here with unity in our minds and strive to
build that unity before it's too late.

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