“I have long been of opinion that the Socialist movement elsewhere was to a great extent hampered by the presence in its ranks of faddists and cranks, who were in the movement, not for the cause of Socialism, but because they thought they saw in it a means of ventilating their theories on such questions as sex, religion, vaccination, vegetarianism, etc.”- James Connolly
The Irish Left’s Rosie Hackett Bridge Dilemma
On June 29th of this year members of the Irish Left assembled at Dublin’s Rosie Hackett’s Bridge for the capital’s inaugural “Alternative Pride” parade. A supposed anti-capitalist spin on the overly corporate Dublin Pride parade, speakers were keen to stress the radical roots of the LGBT movement against an apparent “rainbow capitalism” that has hijacked the main event.
Attending it as an observer, one began to see the shallowness of the rhetoric on display. Surface level critiques abounded of “rainbow capitalism” but no real understanding as to how and why corporations had co-opted the LGBT movement.
What attendees failed to apprehend is that the original embrace of LGBT rights and the radical individualism that underpinned it contributed to the social wildfire that blared a path for the market.
Since organised labour was near obliterated in the 1980s, the extent to which the Left has been ineffective at challenging capitalism is directly proportional to the extent they have embraced social liberalism.
The clue is in the name “neoliberalism”, which exists as a dialectical fusion of free market dogmatism fused with liberal social mores. By embracing one part of the neoliberal package in the form social liberalism, the Left made economic liberalism inevitable.
The concept of a superstructure in basic Marxist theory denotes the ideological framework that underpins and legitimises capitalist society. LGBT jargon, like the anti-racist activism and rhetoric, are an essential part of the superstructure of modern capitalism today. The Left in short has been integrated into the system.
The greatest buttresses against the liquidating force of capitalism are the normative family, religion and nation state, all things attendees at Alternative Pride seek to destroy.
As Sean O’Casey intoned by subordinating itself to the national struggle, Irish socialism signed its death warrant for the 20th century contributing to the formation of two sectarian states. By committing itself towards caustic identity politics in the 21st century, Irish socialism consigns itself to being not merely a gaudy sideshow as neoliberalism reigns triumphant, but an active collaborator.
A century prior and a few metres from the parade location at Liberty Hall, Irish trade unionists furnished with arms made war against the British Crown. Observing the crowd at Alternative Pride, I couldn’t imagine the crowd making it home without their assigned dosage of estrogen let alone picking up rifles.
The Irish Left may claim historic lineage from Connolly’s ICA, but its swan song is being sung by identity politics ridden groups like ROSA Ireland and its integration into the ubiquitous NGO complex.
Those who attended Alternative Pride would do well to meditate on the trade unionist who gave their assembly point her name. Rosie Hackett like Constance Markievicz mingled her socialism with her Catholicism as much as her nationalism and would likely have been left scratching her head at the radical queer activists at Alt Pride.
Alternative Pride is part of a consoling mechanism for the Left, allowing them plausible deniability as neoliberalism runs rampant with the social norms they normalised.
The dilemma faced by the Irish Left is that it has the appearance more of ROSA Ireland than Rosie Hackett. By helping to erode social solidarity through the promotion of radical liberal ideology, it paved a path for Varadkar’s market liberalism and the apolitical decadent society that sustains it.
Connolly Youth and the Irish Left’s Graveyard
Amid the forest of apparently radical leftist groups in Ireland, the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) stands somewhat distinguished for its activism. The youth wing of the perpetually moribund Irish Communist Party, it eschews electoral politics in favour of direct action in the realm of housing and street activism.
It has come to prominence with squatting actions and disruption of Fine Gael events. Similar to the revivified youth wings of the Workers’ Party, it has got under the skin of members of the Irish left due to its pro-Soviet ie. “tankie” slant as well as Euroscepticism.
Pursuing its website and webzine however, you begin to detect the same left-liberal strands that have come to dominate the Left. Articles on housing are countered and in effect nullified by those on gender relations in pre-colonial settings or queer theory. Despite the big noise on direct action CYM appears to be just reheated liberalism in Stalinist clothing.
Put succinctly, these people are not socialists, they are radical liberals, or radlibs for short. The CYM, like most young radical outfits, is a warehousing effort for the psychologically damaged and offers nothing more than faux opposition to neoliberalism.
The big talk around luxury space communism and Stalinist icons is punctured by the fact it embraces the same ‘68er radlib rubbish that weighs down the left in general.
Corporations like YouTube and Facebook are currently deplatforming right-wing voices as the Irish state and NGO goons mobilise to legislate anti-immigration sentiment out of existence. Short of shooting a Fine Gael minister (which CYM doesn’t have the balls to do) they can sleep soundly knowing that their online platforms are secure.
If big tech deplatforming is an indicator of being anti-capitalism, then the fact that someone as dopey Steven Crowder could pose more of a threat to capitalist society should be something that keeps CYM up at night. Why does capitalistic society tolerate them in a way it doesn’t with right-wing commentators?
The problem with socialism appears to be the socialists themselves, and without properly challenging the axioms of liberalism in the social realm the CYM is left pissing against the neoliberal wind.
Welcoming the New Anti-Capitalist Right
As the cage comes down on rightists through tech censorship we can be grateful for one thing, and that’s a greater cynicism towards the so called free market entering right-wing circles. The discourse has evolved in our little circle of the internet.
A sign of maturity among right-wing thinkers is an increased scepticism towards free market principles. In Ireland, our history of colonisation should lend itself towards a form of ambivalent conservatism, if not outwardly hostile to a society governed solely by market impulses.
The logic of our form of casino capitalism is to fuel foreign immigration alongside native emmigration and to tie Ireland to an ever stultifying union with globalism. By not challenging the influence of big capital promoting immigration and social liberalisation and enacting wholescale change, the anti-globalist cause in Ireland is enfeebled.
Through popular pundits like Tucker Carlson, anti-capitalist rhetoric has creeped into right-wing discourse and the observant members of the Left are unnerved. The jig is up for the Left once people realise you do not have to endorse their social policy while sharing their anti-corporate or even environmentalist outlook.
James Connolly in his life came to the conclusion that socialism without nationalism was as hopeless as nationalism without socialism. Increasingly left-wing economic policies will have to be bound to traditionally conservative values as global-capitalism grows ever more corrosive to local populations.
Western societies are hopefully on the upswing from thirty years of cultural and economic liberalisation and the atomisation left in its wake. The response to neoliberalism, if it is to be challenged at all, will be national paternalism, not the radlib faux-Stalinism of the Connolly Youth Movement.
When the barricades do start to go up expect them to be put up by those a little too heteronormative for their tastes.