THE bourgeois media has been awash this weekend with coverage of the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin, with reports on the re-enactments of events 100 years ago and of wreath-laying ceremonies commemorating ‘the courage and ideals’ of the 15 revolutionary leaders who were executed.
What was surprising to many was the absence of any condemnation of these revolutionary leaders like James Connolly and Padraig Pearse or the usual dismissal of the Easter Rising as a disastrous adventure carried out by madmen.
Indeed the tone of the coverage was conciliatory in the extreme, with the Telegraph carrying an article which called for the British government to apologise to the Irish people for the ‘catastrophic mistake’ made by British imperialism in 1916. The catastrophic mistake was clearly the summary execution of these revolutionaries, an act which inflamed the Irish people and provided the spark for the rebellion against British colonial rule which led to the Irish war of independence and the creation in 1922 of the Irish Free State.
If only the British state had handled things differently, the inference is, the rebellion would have fizzled out and the revolutionary struggle for independence could have been avoided – smothered by kindness. This ‘smothering by kindness’ is in evidence as the bourgeoisie tries to sweep the revolutionary content of the uprising aside and transform it into a ‘celebration’ of the Irish republic, which today is shackled and under the domination of the EU and the bankers.
This was explicitly stated by the Irish president, Michael Higgins. In his address, he said: ‘We can see that in many respects we have not fully achieved the dreams and ideals for which our forebears gave so much. A democracy is always and must always be a work in progress. . .’ Higgins was putting it mildly!
The declaration of 1916 proclaimed the ‘right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and the unfettered control of Irish destinies’. The reality couldn’t be more different today.
The world banking crash of capitalism in 2008 had a devastating effect on the Irish economy as Irish banks and speculators went under. The then Fianna Fail government went begging to the Troika – the EU, ECB and IMF – for a $67 billion bailout of the banks, this was given on condition that the banks and speculators were exempted from having to pay up and that the money was found through savage austerity cuts.
Since then 500,000 young people have been forced to emigrate, child poverty has nearly doubled, unemployment has shot up and wages have been reduced by 15% as the country was looted by the Troika. This has produced an acute crisis for the bourgeoisie as reflected in the elections held in February – Eire does not have a government!
What it does have, is a massive movement of the working class to restore all that was taken away in the crash, with all kinds of new movements and parties emerging – at the same time as in the north of Ireland there is a growing crisis over wages, jobs, and the NHS, all under heavy attack from a Tory government in London and its northern Executive, that includes Sinn Fein.
At the same time, across the water the Tory government is split and divided. Britain is paralysed by the crisis and is close to having no government either! A Tory civil war is raging over the EU, while the big banks are shaking at the prospect that the UK may soon be out of it!
These are clearly revolutionary times, when the Irish revolution has to be completed and the whole of Ireland united under a workers government, alongside the British socialist revolution!
Once again, these are revolutionary times. This is why the powers that be are all dancing so gingerly around the 1916 Rising – because an even bigger one is being created by the crisis of capitalism, in Ireland, the UK, and throughout Europe!
The Easter Rising is indeed a ‘work in progress’ but the progress is that of the developing European socialist revolution.
James Connolly expressed this essence when he wrote: ‘If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.’ The heroes of the Easter Rising have the honour of being among the first to embark on the struggle for the socialist revolution – the Bolsheviks carried it forward in October 1917, and now it is our turn!