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Spiked Magazine Gets It Wrong On Brexit And Ireland

The origins of the internet magazine, Spiked, lie in the demise of the United Kingdom’s controversial – and latterly, oddball – Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) in 1997 and the emergence of a cadre of libertarian-style writers from its former membership in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Notable among these was the journalist and author, Mick Hume, who went on to found and edit the new, online successor to his previous print endeavour, Living Marxism, albeit in a publication with a far more contrarian or unorthodox attitude to politics, society and culture.

Since the year 2000 it has developed into the in-house magazine of the ideologically nebulous “humanist movement” in Britain, a sort of alt-right club for theoretically left-wing individuals (also known as the LM network or group). Among its pet hates is the European Union, making it an early convert to the Brexit cause; a stance normally associated with the backbench malcontents of the Conservative Party, the “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) or the ethno-sectarian extremists of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). So this recent online opinion piece from Spiked’s former editor should come as no surprise, reflecting the old RCP’s deep interest in such matters via the Irish Freedom Movement, but now combined with a negative degree of animosity towards the EU.

As a freedom-loving democrat, I have long supported the view that Ireland should be one united, 32-county sovereign republic.

But, as a freedom-loving democrat, I am fiercely opposed to any attempt via the European Union to impose some bureaucratic version of ‘Irish unity’ in order to undermine Brexit. That would be a serious attack on sovereignty and democracy in both Britain and Ireland.

…the EU’s agenda on the Irish border is part of its wider crusade to undermine national self-determination and popular sovereignty in Britain, Ireland and across Europe.

Which is a pretty shallow analysis of the “made in Britain” crisis currently perplexing and frustrating the governments of Europe. In truth, the European Union has no interest in the reunification of Ireland, one way or the other. Its collective opinion on the matter simply recognises and supports the existing international accords stemming from the Irish-British peace process of the 1990s and 2000s, including the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Instead, the number one item on the EU’s agenda is the ongoing integrity and security of the continental customs union and common market. This is crucial to the socio-economic prosperity and socio-political good order of the bloc as a whole. The need for (relative) peace and stability in Ireland may be part of that broader “crusade”, whether under the present constitutional dispensation between north and south or as part of some quasi-unitary alignment. But no one is chanting “Óró, sé do bheatha ‘bhaile” inside the European Commission or burning Union Jack flags outside the British legation. That is just Ukipper-style paranoia.

It seems that the ex-RCP activists with Spiked have transferred their ideological ire from the “imperialists” of London to the “federalists” of Brussels. Even though it is the revanchist fantasies of the xenophobic Tory fringe and the hibernophobic DUP which may lead to renewed violent strife in the British legacy colony on the island of Ireland. The real attack on democracy in western Europe began on the 23rd of June 2016 when a majority of British voters set fire to twenty years of post-Troubles’ peace in the forlorn hope of sating fifty years of post-imperial ennui. And they now complain about getting their fingers burned.

Note. Throw in a bit of anti-British sentiment, and the odd reference to the “Crown Forces” or “Free State”, and Mick Hume’s article wouldn’t look out of place in a publication issued by Republican Sinn Féin, the IRSP, Saoradh or Éirígí. Which indicates the utterly depressing lack of realpolitik among alternative republican parties in Ireland.

4 comments on “Spiked Magazine Gets It Wrong On Brexit And Ireland

  1. Wee Jimmie

    “Latterly oddball”? When was the RCP anything else?
    Its later attitudes seem to have been inspired by belief that the capitalists had proven their rightness by winning the historical battle – an attitude very like that of the Chinese Communist Party.

    It’s curious that you omitted one important element in the Brexit cause: the leader of the Labour Party and many of his strongest supporters and closest advisers. It’s also interesting that you think “the real attack on democracy in western Europe began on the 23rd of June 2016” when a majority of British voters actually had the chance to express their opinions directly. In fact, they don’t “now complain about getting their fingers burned.” They actually seem to rather enjoy the panic they have inspired in their supposed masters and superiors.


    • Maybe, especially when you look at some of their stuff in the 1980s. But they were also the British pool in which the Irish guerrillas swam from the 1970s to early ’90s. Which is no small thing.


  2. spiked is right on this issue. So depressing to see nationalists and “republicans” in Ireland both north and south accepting of being an EU colony and totally uncritical of the EU line. An Irish nationalist


    • I’m a far from uncritical observer of the EU and some aspects of it, the lack of democratic oversight, the tendency to bureaucratic authoritarianism, do worry me. The Lisbon votes remain a bitter point of contention with me. The era of the Troika and all that proceeded and followed it were disgraceful. But the EU is not an imperial power nor is it desirous of being one, the crazier federalists and militarists aside.

      We can either work for the EU we want or we can abandon it to centralists and federalists every bit as mad as the Brexiteers in Britain.

      I favour the former course of action. A Union of the people for the people.


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