There is no greater lie being spread by the multitude of parties purporting themselves to be left-wing than that a vote for them is a vote for Socialism. Their demands are mostly moderate and often outright merely demands for reform. The amount of resources and human labour they are putting into electoral campaigns is astonishing and genuinely off-putting. The election of even one left-wing Councillor takes a lot of footwork and preparation, all of which could be used in a wiser, more strategic way. For what is the battle a revolutionary movement ought to be engaged in? What are its priorities and objectives in an Ireland that is experiencing unique turbulence? What should we be doing as Communists and what is our role in respect to a highly non-unionised and often apathetic working class?
The Connolly Youth Movement believes that selling the idea of electoral politics to young people is the same old story and a waste of time. Young people are used by political parties as canvass monkeys and as foot soldiers to get other people elected. We believe we are worth more, in fact we believe that the Socialist revolution can only materialize when a critical mass of young people are involved in the process. But what exactly is the process we are inviting young people to participate in? What is the Connolly Youth Movement advocating here in concrete terms?
As Marxists and dialecticians we have research a variety of political and social movements that have existed in various points in history, based off of their concrete material conditions and their environment. We have evaluated them for their qualitative and substantive contributions they’ve made to political theory and struggle and have drawn a variety of conclusions.
- The Connolly Youth Movement will not propagate the lie that electing a Communist to a local or national authority will shift the balance of power to workers.
- Electoralism and a reliance on elected officials for profile recruits others with a similar mindset. If we have electoral success, people will join who seek further electoral success, this is not what we want or what we are looking for. By binding yourself to the electoral process, you also become an immediate material benefactor of the many state funds available to parties. Let us be clear, this is not so much a denunciation of usage of funds available for political parties, but the way in which they ensure that for further growth, a party needs more seats/representation. This is a gross strategic error.
- Instead, we believe that if our organisation participates in militant activism (occupations, civil disobedience, public art installations etc) then the type of people we recruit will be those of a similar mindset.
- We have seen first hand how engaged young people are with politics, it’s a box ticking exercise. To change how young people and people in Ireland engage with the political process, we need to present a practical alternative that engages young people not only by investing them in the political process and highlighting this process as the long term solution.
- By educating, agitating and organising young people we are laying the foundation for a prolonged ideological and cultural struggle against the State and capitalism. The process here is not to win a vote, but to win the heart and mind of a person who will be able to draw similar conclusions about the capitalist process and influence others. In short, our ideas must viral.
- It is only through direct engagement with the issues capitalism causes and mobilization around those issues that an organisation capable of overthrowing capitalism will be born. However this does not mean that we do not make short term material gains for working people or students, rather how we go about achieving such gains.
- The Connolly Youth Movement strives to engage young people in the command of their own destiny. Where others demand rent controls, we call for the occupation and liberation of empty buildings and their eventual transformations into communes independent of the market and the landlord. Where others cry for legislation to raise the wages, we hone our efforts into reforging the militant army of labour among a new generation of workers who can without a single parliamentarian shut down a business, an industry or the country and earn themselves a greater profit from their exploiter!
- The Connolly Youth Movement practices democratic centralism and through this method we seek to unfold a new decision making process unto society. By bringing democratic centralism into the workplace, into housing campaigns and onto the streets we believe we are beginning to develop a framework for dual power.
- Yet what is dual power? Dual power is the rising tide of class consciousness that can emerge from the communities and workplaces to challenge and eventually subsume the institutions and organs of the capitalist state. Dual power is the re-creation of services and communities along the lines of democratic centralism. In place of a landlord, a commune, in place of an employer, a co-operative. We will achieve this without casting a single ballot.
- A new republic cannot be built through the mechanisms of the Free State or the Stormont administration, but only from their ashes, yet this does not mean we demand revolution tomorrow, it is impossible. A new structure has to form in parallel to the existing one to eventually make the latter capitalist institution redundant. This is not an easy process, we do not claim it to be an easy process but it is the correct one.
In so far in the current political landscape, one can attend the rally or event of a multitude of left wing political parties and all of them will request that you vote for them. They will canvass, they will go knocking on doors, they will use money to boost posts on social media and develop the electoral campaign. This is a waste of resources and people power. The country is at crisis point with the workplace and all of this effort could instead go through seeing a rebuilding and regeneration of the union movement. Industrial strength is more important than having TD’s in the Dail at this conjecture in time. The workfloor is the first place of the struggle for the working class and the workfloor inherently binds workers together against the capitalist class. This act of solidarity can then extend in all directions and other struggles, housing being a primary one for example. The basic objective of any communist movement is to deliver improvements for our class, to politically educate our class and to organise it, this cannot happen through electoral politics and has never happened through electoral politics.
The Connolly Youth Movement is striving the organisation of its members along these lines. In place of asking young people to canvass for electoral candidates, we will teach them to be organised in the workplace and to spend time and resources on unionising other workers. We will teach them to occupy buildings not just as a sign of protest but also as a method of short term living, so that they may no longer have to feel the financial burden of the vicious landlord class. Finally, we will teach them that their struggle is not simply for lower rent and higher wages, but for the common ownership of Ireland by the people of Ireland, as declared in the 1916 Proclamation of Independence.