Fascism and the Six Counties
Organisation: People's Democracy
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

6th February 2012

This document from People’s Democracy is perhaps indicative of the shift in the thinking in that organisation that took place in the early to mid 1970s, and particularly in the wake of the Ulster Workers’ Council strike. This shift was indicated by a developing belief in the prospects of a Unionist and Loyalist takeover of Northern Ireland and a sense that this would mean a ‘sectarian civil war launched by loyalists’.

This pessimism informs the document. For example it makes the argument that the Six Counties is tilting towards fascism and that…

…In times of crisis when capitalism is under serious attack the bosses have to turn to the petit-bourgeoisie for help as well. That’s where Fascism comes in.

And it makes a link with the UK.

But as a crisis approaches they have to let Fascist parties organise, drill and beat up their opponents and the Army and police have to collaborate with them and give tacit support - exactly what is happening in Britain at the moment, as the authorities tolerate and protect the National Front.

Which it then brings closer to home:

The parallels between continental fascism and the situation in the 6 counties are obvious. British Imperialism is in a serious crisis in the North. They have tolerated, even encouraged the growth of Loyalist paramilitary organisations… and are now conceding their every demand. The UDA, UVF, Red Hand, UFF etc with their violent sectarianism, thuggery and occasional outbursts against the old Unionist ‘fur coat brigade’ are almost a carbon copy of the Brownshirts in Germany or the Blackshirts in Italy.

And the intrinsic sense of further decline and collapse is made clear by the following:

At the moment the imperialists hope to hand over power to the Parliamentary right-wingers like Paisley and West and are only using the Loyalist paramilitary groups as shock-troops to beat the Catholics into submission. If that doesn’t work however they will hand over to a fully-fledged Fascist regime if necessary.

It argues that if that occurs:

… the Loyalist murder-gangs will be institutionalised into a 50-60,000 strong B-Special force and will launch a reign of terror against all opposition elements.

And in relation to any potential opposition to such events taking place it continues:

Meanwhile because of their weak and muddled politics Provisional and Official Republicans and almost all socialist groups have been thrown in to utter confusion by the rise of the UDA, UVF etc. They have been fooled by the Loyalists’ ‘working-class’ image and phoney radicalism, into seeing their deadliest enemies as friends. The Officials called for joint patrols with the UDA and Daithi O’Connaill praised the ‘discipline’ of the UWC Lockout in May.

The document continues with a chapters devoted to ‘The Rise of Fascism in Europe’ and ‘Fascism in NI’ and these are similarly informed by the over arching anxiety as to the future. One curiosity is that no solution is proposed and although in the last chapter it accepts that ‘Ulster’s Fascists may never come to power’ this seems to cut against the analysis of the preceding pages.

More broadly in relation to the political trajectory of Peoples Democracy this provides a clear understanding of the direction it was taking.

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  • By: entdinglichung Mon, 06 Feb 2012 09:09:00

    a German webpage (critically) focusing on the ML movement of the 1970ies has freshly scanned a booklet by the maoist youth organization KJVD from 1972: Nieder mit dem Imperialismus – Freiheit für das Irische Volk (Down with imperialism – freedom for the Irish people), advocating “People’s War” 😦 … scroll down for the scanned images

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  • By: Georg Lukács, Irland und Knast « Entdinglichung Mon, 06 Feb 2012 09:59:02

    […] Peoples Democracy: Fascism and the Six Counties (~ 1973/1974) im Irish Left Online Document Archive von Cedar Lounge […]

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  • By: Starkadder Mon, 06 Feb 2012 12:47:18

    In reply to entdinglichung.

    Interesitng, entdinglichung…. I recall “Fortnight” magazine publishing a list of magazines about NI, which included pro-Republican publications from France and Norway.

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  • By: Mark P Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:34:32

    This is a bewildered and bewildering document, produced at a time when People’s Democracy was at its most demoralised and confused. The whole attempt to fit the local phenomenon of Loyalism into the theoretical template of European Fascism was misconceived.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:38:35

    In reply to Mark P.

    Very true. To be honest there’s almost a feeling of an organisation going through a strange collective disruption of analysis. It’s not as if the reality of the North wasn’t bad enough, but there’s a real sense of reaching there.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 06 Feb 2012 18:35:06

    It did not suit Imperialism to let loose the dogs of loyalism. I felt that way at the time.
    But let us not forget. Vanguard and West acting the Furher. The Loyalist lockout where thugs enforced a breakdown because they were opposed to minimum concessions to teh nationalist community.
    The RUC were in cahoots with loyalist gangs. Read Paddy Devlin’s book where he describes 2 incidents where he was left unprotected by his RUC guards.
    Easy in retrospect to say that a Loyalist takeover was off the agenda.Not so easy if you lived in exposed Nationalist ghettoes.
    The analysis was informed as much by Kitsons theories on dealing with insurgencies as it was by drawing parallels with European fascism. In fact the influence was the R hodesian takeover where the settlers supported by elements of the Imperialist ruling class and by South Africa declared UDI.
    There was an element of despair in the document. That it was almost too late to build a movement which could successfully change the objective situation.
    As regards the loyalists. I thought then that the parallel was with the SA before Hitler dealt with them in the night of the long knives.They have a similar mentality to Deep South poor whites.I have listened to people who canvassed for McCann recently where they spoke of a good reception in formerly loyalist areas. I remain to be convinced. On a footnote the non threatening Obama got none or very few poor white votes in the deep and not so deep south.
    On another theme I find the fears of fascism in the nearby island down the years as similarly exaggerated.

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  • By: Almeida Mon, 06 Feb 2012 20:30:17

    Great article. (and agree with J.Monaghan, above).

    There are resonances with the South, (even today) – if a tourist or foreigner arrived here they would not notice too much obvious differences in an area; but there are; i.e. when they say ‘fooled by the Loyalists’ ‘working-class’ image and phoney radicalism:- that is relevant to the different strata in esp. small towns here – that ‘some’ ‘working-class’ have a supercilious innate security, that we now know was overseen in regard to them by the financial ‘elite’ of the South.
    That the ‘ ‘bosses’ have to turn to the petit-bourgeoise’: – relevant today to the South; they have proferred and fawned loans to these (what I think of as ‘small minded town-people’), to the point that they completely believe they are town-elite.
    May God forgive us that we (the people) did respond with even alacrity to their plight; though; being subject ourselves to the power of the media, we maybe were screened; as if we had actually understood, there may have been all-island civil war.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 06 Feb 2012 23:57:43

    In reply to Jim Monaghan.

    That’s a very fair point re Vanguard jim.

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  • By: Doloras LaPicho Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:41:57

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    … except surely Jim means Craig acting the Fuhrer?

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  • By: Ciarán Tue, 07 Feb 2012 16:17:37

    In reply to Jim Monaghan.

    McCann and his canvassers were attacked by loyalists on at least one occasion during the last election campaign. That’s not to say that they didn’t have some good experiences as well, but that would tend not to be as newsworthy.

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  • By: entdinglichung Wed, 08 Feb 2012 09:00:34

    In reply to Starkadder.

    there was a pretty good leftwing German-language magazine on Irish issues called “The Spirit of Resistance” during the 1990ies … during the 1970ies and 1980ies, there were a number of newsletters on NI, reflecting both the divisions of the German left and of the republican movement … the above-mentioned website has some more stuff on Ireland: http://mao-projekt.de/INT/EU/IRL/Irland.shtml

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  • By: on the authority of direct experience as distinct from institutional power « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality Fri, 20 Apr 2012 02:22:21

    […] Left Archive: Fascism and the Six Counties – Peoples Democracy, 1973/1974 (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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