A time of economic crisis provides a moment in time when the revolutionary can more readily get the ear of the people. At such times people are open to the possibility of radical change. It is of such a juncture that Lenin wrote: “A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation” however he also warned “not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution”.
A climate of economic crisis not only opens up possibilities for the genuine revolutionary but also for the false prophet of racism and fascism. Germany in the 1920s and early 30s is an oft-quoted example of the kind of conditions that breed such hateful ideology. The pattern is the same the world over however: find a scapegoat for joblessness, poverty, cuts in social spending etc. Such a scapegoat will usually differ from the majority in skin colour, religion, language culture, nationality or gender. These false prophets then go to work on increasing paranoia and bigotry among the majority against the minority based on the false premise that salvation of the majority lies in the destruction of those that differ from the rest. The purpose is always the same to climb to a position of political power and hold it by creating fear among the population towards each other thereby ensuring their control by the state.
All of this is anathema to the very ethos and philosophy of Irish Republicanism. When Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell, Samuel Neilson and others came together to found the Society of United Irishmen they were explicit as to what its purpose was to be: “This Society is likely to be a means the most powerful for the promotion of a great end. What end? The Rights of Man in Ireland. The greatest happiness of the greatest number in this island, the inherent and indefeasible claims of every free nation to rest in this nation. . . The greatest happiness of the greatest number – on the rock of this principle let this Society rest; by this let it judge and determine every political question, and whatever is necessary for this end let it not be accounted hazardous, but rather our interest, our duty, our glory and our common religion. The Rights of Man are the Rights of God, and to vindicate the one is to maintain the other. We must be free in order to serve Him whose service is perfect freedom.”
This is why it is all the more reprehensible when those who masaqurade under the banner of Irish Republicanism attempt to hide their hideous mantra of hate, bigotry and intolerence under such a noble standard. People should be awake to those who attempt this sleight of hand and treat them with the same contempt and suspicion one would any imposter or confidence trickster. Indeed I would argue even more so for such characters are worse than any fraudster because by their words and deeds they bismirch the very name of Irish Republicanism.
Irish Republicanism is no narrow insular dogma – it is an international philosophy of freedom and democracy drawing on the best and noblest instincts of human nature rather than the lowest. Our cause is the cause of humanity. Again we are back to Tone: “Let the nations go abreast. Let the interchange of sentiments among mankind concerning the Rights of Man be as immediate as possible”. It is a philosophy which invites people into the brightness of enlightment and progress rather than the shaows of fear and intolerence.