Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Victory for the IRA"

In 1972 I was a member of the International Marxist Group as we marched through London in support of the Irish struggle.

Martin McGuinness: 23 May 1950 – 21 March 2017

The IMG became rather notorious for its slogan: "Victory for the IRA"*. I was present at the leadership committee where this was discussed. Tariq Ali was the main proponent, arguing in his typical romantic-revolutionary way that the IRA were so vilified by the British establishment that we revolutionaries - in the belly of the beast - were morally obligated to stand against the current and show our full solidarity for the national liberation struggle.

John Ross, who I supported, argued mildly that we thoroughly disapproved of the IRA's campaign of voluntarist violence and bombings. Nevertheless we were duty bound to be in solidarity with their anti-imperialist struggle, and that the correct, Marxist slogan was "Solidarity with the IRA".

He was undoubtedly correct, but Tariq's élan won the day.

I remember marching on the streets, braving the hostility of the watching crowds and the contempt of the stewarding police, chanting "Victory .. to .... the IRA!" and feeling proud of my party discipline even as I compounded its error. It was not clear to any of us what a 'victory' for the IRA would even look like.

Interestingly​, on the occasion of  Martin McGuinness's death, we've not moved on that much.


* The quote is from this book.

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