Editorial from Irish Political Review, September 2003 The Dialectic Of Democracy And Terrorism
The terrorists who have won become sanctimonious democrats—at least while they can dominate the terrain gained by terrorism. Witness: the Ulster Unionist Party and the State of Israel.
In Palestine, Britain gave in to large-scale Jewish nationalist terrorism in 1945-7, and then stood idly by while the Jewish nationalist forces engaged in large-scale ethnic cleansing of the Arab population to make the Jewish State functional. In Ireland the Unionist terror force did not have to do what the Zionists did to achieve their aims, but they threatened to do it, and they acquired the means of doing it, and Britain gave way to their threats as it gave way to Zionist actions.
But in recent years the position adopted by the Unionists with regard to Sinn Fein cancels out the difference between Unionism and Zionism in this regard. It has been said again and again that there is no difference between existence and activity in the case of the IRA, because the capacity to act is in principle the same thing as action. It is not disputed that the IRA Ceasefire is in earnest, and that the Provos are committed to peaceful development under the Good Friday Agreement, but that is said to be of no account because the IRA retains the capacity to go into action if it decides to do so. And that means that the fact that the British Government saved the Ulster Unionist Party the trouble of launching an actual terrorist war in 1912, by giving in to the threat of it, is of no moral account.
“Northern Ireland”—that weird constitutional concoction in a Limbo between two states—is a product of successful terrorism. The UUP is a successful terrorist organisation. And, since the sanctimoniousness of the successful terrorist does not sit easily with the means by which success was achieved, the UUP is coy about its origins and the origins of the pseudo-state that was made for it. The intellectuals of the ‘New Unionism’—Dennis Kennedy and Professors Bew and Patterson—have not cared to write its history.
The UUP chose to rule the greatest possible number of Catholics that was compatible with the prospect of an ongoing Protestant majority. Protestants would have been a 25% minority in a 32 County State. Catholics were a 33% minority in the 6 Counties. But the daily humiliation offered by communal Protestant rule stimulated the minority instead of discouraging it and the minority has been steadily increasing. The figures of the last Census were withheld lest they show the numbers approaching equality. They were eventually released in massaged form to reassure the Protestants. During the hiatus, the resumption of 1912 methods was broadly hinted at in certain quarters. And Jeffrey Donaldson suddenly converted to the principles of the Good Friday Agreement—or what he held to be its principles. He asserted on Radio Eireann that a decision by a voting majority to transfer the Six Counties to the Republic would be unconstitutional under the Agreement, which required decisions to be taken by majorities within each community.
In fact the double majority only applies to decisions of the devolved government. It does not require a Nationalist majority for being within the UK, and would not require a Unionist majority for transfer to the Republic. One must assume that Donaldson, who is a very bright young man, was well aware of this, and was re-asserting the 1912 position in preparation for a recurrence of the 1912 situation. He was saying that the UUP would be no more bound by an adverse majority in its own chosen terrain of the 6 Counties than it was by the adverse majority in Ireland as a whole in 1912. That is how committed he is to democracy.
The massaged Census figures took the immediate heat out of the situation. But the marker has been put down.
“My foot is on my native heath and my name is McGregor”—that was Rob Roy, when he had got back home safely by pretending to be a Campbell. And that is very much the spirit of Unionism today. Trimble’s duplicity saw them through a tricky patch, and they now want to have done with it. David Burnside described Republicans as “scum” according to Radio Eireann (2.3.03), and declared he would never go into government with them. Arguments presented on the ground of reason are mere rationalisations of that gut feeling.
In an interview (Radio Eireann, June 8) Burnside was asked if he could envisage the UUP going back into the Executive. He replied: “I can’t because Castlereagh, [laughing], Columbia, Stormontgate are still under investigation.”
The requirement that members of the police force (the one that isn’t called the RUC anymore) should register their membership of specified secret societies with the Chief Constable was discussed on BBC Radio Ulster on 9th August by Conor Murphy and Arlene Foster (Jeffrey Donaldson’s associate). The specified societies are the Freemasons, the Orange Order, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbanus. The Hibernians and the Knights are of little consequence today, and were listed to give the appearance of balance. Arlene Foster suggested a more substantial body, the GAA, should be added to the list.
The difficulty with that is that the GAA is perhaps the most open organisation in the country. Its contribution to the nationalist spirit was through the playing of distinctive games, and the grassroots democracy by which it was conducted. It excluded the RIC/RUC from membership on the grounds that it was a kind of terrorist body whose function was to harass and control the nationalist population. That exclusion was ended recently, and the RUC under its new name now has a football team which operates within the structure of the GAA.
Arlene Foster held that the requirement that the police should register membership of the Masons and the Orange Order was unreasonable. Conor Murphy mentioned police collusion with loyalist murder gangs. Arlene Foster denied this point blank. Conor Murphy mentioned the Stevens Inquiry. Arlene Foster said no prosecutions had been brought. And that was that.
But, on the other side, “Castlereagh…, Columbia, Stormontgate are still under investigation”, and that is enough.
Protestant society in Antrim and Down threw itself with gusto into the ideology of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1794, and was shocked and disabled by the fall of Robespierre. One of the notorious events of the Revolution was the Law of Suspects. It was made a capital offence to be suspected of disloyalty. And it was found that suspicion was very easy to come by.
The Law of Suspects is what applies in the case of Castlereagh etc. Improbable allegations are sufficient ground for suspicions, and suspicions are sufficient grounds for actions, even when the allegations are not even formulated into charges. But when it comes to security force collusion with murder gangs, nothing counts but convictions in court.
Unionism feels that it’s back in business again. It feels the dawning of the age of Aquarius: “Campbell me no Campbells. My foot is on my native hearth and my name’s McGregor”.
(It should be the other way about, of course. McGregor was a Fenian. But the spirit is unmistakeably the same.)
Further to last month’s editorial, we are indebted to David Morrison for the following clarifications:
1) Denis Donaldson was charged on 6 October 2002 with five counts having information information likely to be of use to terrorists, and he was in custody until early December (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,806013,00.html ). Three or four other republicans were also charged shortly afterwards. No trial has been forthcoming.
2) The three UUP MPs (Donaldson, Burnside & Smyth) resigned the UUP whip at Westminster together (along with Lord Molyneux), whereupon Trimble tried, and after court action failed, to have them disciplined. (see http://politics.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4697016-107943,00.html )
3) Last, and definitely least, John Reid doctorate is in economic history, not sociology. His doctoral thesis was about the 19th century Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin), entitled Warrior Aristocrats In Crisis (at Stirling University, 1987: see http://politics.guardian.co.uk/redbox/story/0,9029,969431,00.html.
C O N T E N T S
The Dialectic Of Democracy & Terrorism.
Iraq, Ireland & The UN.
(with translation of Lá interview)
A Few Words For John Hume.
The Clonbanin Column
(Social Revolution; Terrorism; Policing; GFG)
An Cor Tuathail:—
In England Of The Treasures
(Compiled by Pat Muldowney)
A Protestant Fenian.
Capt. Kelly & The Irish State.
Letter (IN, John Kelly) & Comment by Pat Walsh
The Process Of Capital Accumulation.
Part 4 of Review of Das Kapital
The Republican Imaginaire.
Northern Ireland News Digest.
Labour Comment, edited by Pat Maloney:
Abundant Harvest: No Labourers!
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