A discussion on how the constitutional crisis affected the unionist alliance

At the Ard Fheis party conference the attendance was poor, and there was difficulty finding members willing to take seats on the executive. In he sided with Collins in the Treaty debate. It merged with two other organisations to form Fine Gael in

A discussion on how the constitutional crisis affected the unionist alliance

Introduction Socialism is undoubtedly in the throes of a crisis greater than at any time since The last half of saw the dramatic collapse of most of the communist party governments of Eastern Europe.

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Their downfall was brought about through massive upsurges which had the support not only of the majority of the working class but also a large slice of the membership of the ruling parties themselves.

These were popular revolts against unpopular regimes; if socialists are unable to come to terms with this reality, the future of socialism is indeed bleak. The mounting chronicle of crimes and distortions in the history of existing socialism, its economic failures and the divide which developed between socialism and democracy, have raised doubts in the minds of many former supporters of the socialist cause as to whether socialism can work at all.

Indeed, we must expect that, for a time, many in the affected countries will be easy targets for those aiming to achieve a reversion to capitalism, including an embrace of its external policies.

For our part, we firmly believe in the future of socialism; and we do not dismiss its whole past as an unmitigated failure. And, no one can doubt that if humanity is today poised to enter an unprecedented era of peace and civilised international relations, it is in the first place due to the efforts of the socialist world.

But it is more vital than ever to subject the past of existing socialism to an unsparing critique in order to draw the necessary lessons. To do so openly is an assertion of justified confidence in the future of socialism and its inherent moral superiority.

And we should not allow ourselves to be inhibited merely because an exposure of failures will inevitably provide ammunition to the traditional enemies of socialism: But at the risk of over-simplification, we identify a number of broad tendencies against which we must guard: Finding excuses for Stalinism; Attributing the crisis to the pace of perestroika; Acting as if we have declared a moratorium on socialist criticism of capitalism and imperialism and, worst of all, Concluding that socialist theory made the distortions inevitable.

Among a diminishing minority there is still a reluctance to look squarely in the mirror of history and to concede that the socialism it reflects has, on balance, been so distorted that an appeal to its positive achievements and of course there have been many sounds hollow and very much like special pleading.

It is surely now obvious that if the socialist world stands in tatters at this historic moment it is due to the Stalinist distortions. We should have little patience with the plea in mitigation that, in the circumstances, the Stalinist excesses such as forced collectivisation brought about some positive economic achievements.

In any case, more and more evidence is emerging daily that, in the long run, the excesses inhibited the economic potential of socialism. Another familiar plea in mitigation is that the mobilising effect of the Stalin cult helped save socialism from military defeat.

Vigilance is clearly needed against the pre-perestroika styles of work and thinking which infected virtually every party including ours and moulded its members for so many decades. It is not enough merely to engage in the self-pitying cry: It is clearly a matter of time before popular revulsion leads to a transformation.

In general, those who still defend the Stalinist model — even in a qualified way — are a dying breed; at the ideological level they will undoubtedly be left behind and they need not detain us here.

Some, however, fear that the corrective methods are so hasty and extreme that, in the end, they may do more harm than good. The enemies of socialism, so it is argued, are being given new powerful weapons with which to destroy socialism and to return to capitalism.

In the countries mentioned, despite the advantage of over 40 years of a monopoly of education, the media, etc. To blame perestroika and glasnost for the ailments of socialism is like blaming the diagnosis and the prescription for the illness.

Indeed, the only way to ensure the future of socialism is to grasp the nettle with the political courage of a Gorbachev. When things go badly wrong whether it be in a movement or a country it is inevitable that some who have ulterior motives jump on to the bandwagon.

When a gap develops between the leadership and the led, it always provides openings for real enemies. But to deal with the gap in terms only of enemy conspiracies is an ancient and discredited device.

A discussion on how the constitutional crisis affected the unionist alliance

Equally, to fail to tackle mistakes or crimes merely because their exposure will give comfort to our adversaries is both short-sighted and counter-productive. In any case, a number of additional questions still go begging: Firstly, have we the right to conclude that the enemies of a discredited party leadership are the same as the enemies of socialism?

If the type of socialism which the people have experienc ed has been rubbished in their eyes and they begin to question it, are they necessarily questioning socialism or are they rejecting its perversion?

Secondly, what doctrine of pre-Stalinism and pre-Mao Marxism gives a communist party or any other party for that matter the moral or political right to impose its hegemony or to maintain it in the face of popular rejection?

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Thirdly, who has appointed us to impose and defend at all costs our version of socialism even if the overwhelming majority have become disillusioned with it?

In general, it is our view that the fact that the processes of perestroika and glasnost came too slowly, too little and too late in Eastern Europe did more than anything else to endanger the socialist perspective there.

It is through these processes — and they must be implemented with all possible speed — that socialism has any hope of showing its essentially human face.An interactive timeline of the most important events in Scottish political, cultural and economic history.

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