As regular readers know I’m no fan of Ireland’s anti-republican Far Left parties, in particular the Socialist Party and the rather more shadowy Socialist Workers Party which lurks behind the People Before Profit brand. The fissile sectarianism of extreme left politics across Europe leaves me cold and Ireland’s tiny groupings can out-perform most when it comes to political cannibalism. Okay, as an Irish Republican the non-Republican Far Left’s ferociously divisive debates about how many angels one can fit on the head of a pin are wearily familiar. Even the high-handed use of mathematically precise terms for ideological arcana are something that I know all too well from debates (and condemnations) within the broad Republican community.
There is a tendency for all political movements of a revolutionary form or focus to enter into the territory of cultism. It is inevitable: the longer the history, the smaller the number of disciples, the more cult-like the tenets of adherence become (and the more furious the response when they are challenged or broken from within). There is also the fatal attraction of “true believerism”. The almost messianic belief that we are the followers of the one and only true faith and stand as a bulwark against a host of apostates and infidels.
Throughout its long history Irish Republicanism has been in many times and in many places all but defined by these ideological phenomena. One need only think of the late 1800s and the fractious global Fenian Movement too see the perils of such exclusionary thinking. And in our present times one can look at the dwindling but still zealous remnants of Republican Sinn Féin and Second Dáil Legitimism to see a ready parallel for the likes of the Socialist Workers Party or even to some extent the more partisan members of the Socialist Party.
And yes, before anyone points it out, I am as guilty as any of the above. For I am first and foremost a Gaelic Republican and Celtic Nationalist: a follower of Tomás Dáibhis, Pádraig Mac Piarais, Séamas Ó Conghaile, Earnán Ó Maille, Máirtín Ó Cadhain and Peadar Ó Domhnaill. My own revolutionary minoritism is as self-evident to me as to anyone else (though it turns out there are more of us than I thought!).
All of which rambling leads up to this story prominently featured in the Weekly Worker, a publication of the Communist Party of Great Britain, examining the slow meltdown from within of the Socialist Party of Ireland (via Garibaldy at the CLR). In particular it highlights the organisation’s rigidly authoritarian party structure and the manner is which it deals with even the mildest forms of home-grown dissent. I’m sure that for many casual political observers and readers here it will be something of any eye-opener, a slightly ajar door casting some light into the secretive and restrictive world of the SP’s internal workings. Read it.