From street activism to the revolutionary party
If we take an honest look at the state of youth politics in Ireland it's not surprising to see why the Xbox is preferred to the ballot box.
Often the first introduction someone gets to politics these days is in university. Student politics is in equal measure both an uninspiring and inconsequential phenomenon. Some of the stalwarts of student politics around the campuses in Ireland include the youth wings of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. I think the high numbers of members these groups attract says a lot about the ideological void present within politics in the 26 counties especially. These two party's are almost identical ideologically wise, so why the huge rivalry? It is often the scenario that these two groups 'inherit' support with parents passing on their political preference to their children. I'm afraid the rivalry is as petty as that in many instances, it is certainly not based on an ideological rationale.
Parties of the left also place a huge emphasis on recruitment in 3rd level education, a strategy that is extremely flawed. Party's like the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party consciously target the 3rd level educational institutions across Ireland in an attempt to swell their ranks, but as a revolutionary socialist organisation is this the way forward for the RSYM? Definitely not.
There is little point in recruiting a membership that stays loyal to our ideals for the few years their college course lasts. The RSYM aren't out to gather together a handful of middle class 'trendies' to picket the odd event with the lure of the few pints afterwards as the main incentive offered for this activity. One has to take a step back and analyze the exact role a youth wing has to play and we can all agree it is not to attract members of a transient nature to make some protests look better before these protesters inevitably move on from college and leave behind any leftist ideology they encountered. So what exactly is the role the youth movement has to play?
A youth wing long-term has to be a body that produces high quality members to move on to the main party because in effect they are the future leaders of the party. It is of course imperative that the structure of the youth movement is compatible with this aim, ie. It must have in place a definite structure which allows the leading members who move on to the main party to be readily replaced without any damage at all to the workings of the youth movement.
Items like a collective and never top-heavy leadership are not just desirable but extremely necessary for the success of the youth wing, it can never come to a stage whereby the group becomes dependent on one, two or three members.
This can have severe consequences, it cannot even be considered for what would happen if these people in such a position become troublesome or leave? The whole movement from grass roots to leadership will be shattered.
It is obviously vital that education and organization take precedent over everything else. Protests and such actions aren't revolutionary by nature, there is little point in such actionsaren't revolutionary by nature, there is little point in such actions unless the ones carrying them out have a clear mind as to why they are protesting, what's their alternative and how they are going to go about achieving that alternative. Accordingly agitation and activity must always tie in with education, as Lenin said "Without a Revolutionary Theory there cannot be a Revolutionary Movement".
One of the larger youth movements in Ireland today is Ógra Sinn Féin and their actions this year attracted a lot of attention. They seem to espouse the reasons why a youth movement should have a degree of independency from the main party itself, otherwise that movement would end up just like OSF, a puppet of the main party. It is clear as day that actions carried out by OSF have been designed to distract from the failings at Stormont and show the grass roots and youths that they are still somehow dedicated to radical revolutionary politics.
The people's flag is deepest red in case OSF forgot this, when as a supposed socialist party, they painted the post boxes around the occupied 6 counties green(I didn't know imperialists had a patent before socialists on the colour red, I suggest this was a waste of energy and paint when they could have painted pensioners homes instead). But this grass root action and attempt at radicalization was nothing in comparison to the charade that happened when George W. Bush paid a visit to the Provisional's Deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness. As one part of the PRM(provisional republican movement) welcomed the world's most famous terrorist the other protested outside.
If people think the suit-clad boys in the upper echelons of the PRM didn't give the go ahead to the demonstration outside they are mistaken, it was a glaringly obvious attempt by the top brass to somehow save face and to distract from reality. A youth movement at all costs must not be allowed to be manipulated like that, the leadership of the youth wing must have the final say on all activities.
I have already alluded to the failings of a recruitment policy based within colleges and universities. It is an accepted stomping ground for groups like Young Fine Gael and Ógra Fianna Fáil but the opposite is true for a revolutionary socialist movement.
Of course throughout history there have been many notable exceptions where student rabble-rousers have achieved amazing things(In Cuba for example people like José Marti and Fidel Castro draw their origins from student politics) but in general terms it is wiser to place the recruitment emphasis on another path.
Why shouldn't the young wing of a party, amongst all it's other activities, seek to achieve a grounding of support in working-class areas across Ireland which will stand the group in good stead for years to come? So in essence the best way forward would possibly be a concerted effort solely focused on the rural and urban homesteads that house our class.
It is not easy to build the 'Red Base' but the youth wing aligning itself to such a task and engaging with our class will not only bring our goals closer but give the youths great confidence and experience from interacting in a personal capacity with the working-class. The way of the republican socialist revolutionary does not find its foundations in the halls of the current educational system(although I would encourage efforts in this regard to complement all other activities as every possibly progressive avenue should be used) but on the streets. It is street politics combined with a strong ideological reasoning that will really make a positive difference to a revolutionary movement.
Youths generally find the ins and outs of bourgeois politics intolerably boring, which is not particularly surprising by any stretch of the imagination. The mantra is true that in the politics of the bourgeoisie if voting really changed anything they would make it illegal.
The path of constitutionalism is one hardly going to inspire the young people of Ireland. They feel alienated and excluded…and they are correct in their assertions! Is it any wonder the youths of today feel politics are unimportant when their only contribution to the political landscape is one vote every couple of years for a candidate that they don't necessarily agree with?
The politics we as republican socialists offer is of a different sort, politics directed towards the eventual goal of a Workers Republic where the influence and desires of the people are expressed through the political status quo. That indeed is something which appeals to our youths and to our class as a whole, it is in their interests. It is often said that socialist principals are reserved for the young people in society who have yet to realize the harsh realities of normal life. They have yet to experience being in debt, paying huge bills etc…the capitalist gives us our wages with one hand and with the other he takes it away. The people who make these false assumptions are not politically educated. It is because of the current system that these harsh realities actually exist in the first place!
It says something that people unused to the capitalist system have serious reservations about it. Since when did it become a bad thing asking questions and seeking to find a better order of things? There is a lot of wisdom within the curious questioning the system comes under from Irelands young people.
These uncertainties must be harnessed and developed by a revolutionary movement, one which offers guidance to those unwilling to conform to this unsustainable system. There must be a movement through which youths can express their opinions and discontent with what they see as blatant exploitation and hypocrisy.
Of course the capitalists have seen this opportunity and tried to nip it in the bud by attempting to create a sham version of what is necessary with initiatives such as the mock Dáil for young budding politicos. In this mock parliament the youngsters have the pleasure of experiencing the high life of an Irish politician before voting on the most uninspiring and pointless motions that could be found. It is indeed a decent apprenticeship for a future with one of the major party's in the 26 counties.
When the emphasis is on careerism and material gain at expense of the general welfare of the people of Ireland it is a bad state of affairs and it is time such self-serving institutions were smashed. Youthful resistance has got to be more than a simple two-fingered salute to the current establishment.
The RSYM and similar groups across the globe have got to focus this discontent, they have to mould such sentiment into an educated, politicized and articulate defiance. There is much uncertainty at the moment with economies suffering the effects of the flawed system that is capitalism.
I look forward to seeing the IRSM seize the initiative and build a future where the children of Ireland will indeed be cherished equally and where when a revolutionary state is formed the wishes and needs of the people will be expressed through an accountable and just system.
Our young people must not be dismayed when they are labeled as irrelevant and as dissidents, dissention is a good thing when we live in a society that puts the dollar before the scholar. They must join us in our struggle. Onwards to the Workers Republic.