Should I stay or should I go?

Media reports on the Ard Fheis have made much of the lack of a walkout or a visible split in the ranks. And it's true that in that regard, the fallout has been less than it probably could have been. But it's also true that a lot of people had already left in the months immediately preceding - and I suspect a sizeable number of others are considering their options now, and may still vote with their feet.

I've thought about it too but, as deeply unhappy as I am with the decision taken yesterday, I don't think that leaving is the answer. For starters, where would I go? None of the alternative organisations seems to have a notion of how their idealised vision of a 32-county republic could actually be brought into existence. Without exception, their strategies all rest on the presumption that if only their voices could be heard, they could persuade the Irish people to rise up and demand the republic.

That's just not going to happen.

The SF strategy has its faults, obviously. But at the very least it's more plausible given that it rests on the persuasion of a far smaller number of people: enough in the North to tip the nationalist ratio over 50%, and/or enough in the South to put us in government.

And if all the other organisations are out, that leaves only the option of becoming a non-aligned republican, which seems entirely pointless to me. Most of the people I know who've gone down that route end up doing little more than posting bitter rants about their former comrades on internet message boards. And often ultimately emigrating.

There's also damage limitation to consider. The enemies of republicanism are obviously delighted that we've signed up to colonial policing; they'd be even more delighted to see us decimate ourselves in the process. I don't want them to have that satisfaction.

And finally, leaving SF would mean not only turning my back on their policing policy, but on everything else that they're doing. I think most of the rest of what they're doing is good, and I still want to be part of it.

Now I know that some people who have recently left, or are considering leaving, read this blog, and I know they're probably thinking: yes, yes, yes, BUT. It's a matter of principle. How can I remain in this party after it's turned its back on such a key principle? And I understand that view, I really do. But at the same time - and at the risk of causing great offence, for which I do apologise and offer the usual disclaimers - I can't help thinking that there's something a little bit egotistical about it. It seems to me to be overly concerned with the thought that MY image, MY republican credentials are at stake if I stay here. Yes, I'd like to be able to look in the mirror and say without hesitation that I had remained true to all my principles, and no, I can't quite do that at the moment - but I don't see what practical benefit would derive from leaving the party on that basis. I don't see how it would help end partition and achieve the republic that we all want.

The party has made its decision and we're stuck with it, so we can only make the best of it that we can. I'm going to do this by continuing in my specific role within the party, where I do think we're achieving something, and by using whatever limited influence I have to try to prevent further bad decisions being made.

But who knows. I could still change my mind later.


The Youngfella said...

Only you can make your mind up Wednesday. I have heard the argument you are using several times before and it is certainly a valid one. For some people, leaving is an option, for others it is not. All you can do is what is best for you. as Polonius said in 'Hamlet' 'This above all, to thine own self be true.'

Brendan said...

Fair play a chara, I know that this has had to be a heart wrenching decision for you comrade. I think it shows great maturity and also vision.
I don’t want to be patronising btw but I know how hard this has been for you.
I think all Republicans need to be given time to make up there minds and that nobody should underestimate how difficult it will be for some to remain, anybody who leaves on ideological arguments need to be respected but I hope they will make the difficult decision as you have.
I am sure this is probably the most difficult post you have made on this site comrade, it is a remarkable peice.

Ciarán said...

A chara,

I am well aware that there are many people in the party who feel exactly the same way you do, especially young people. I suppose what it must fundamentally come down to is whether or not you feel comfortable remaining a member. The party is by no means perfect, and we all accept that for the most part, but there are things that happen that shake us to the core.

I would suggest that you speak to the comrades around you who feel the same way you do. At the very least, it could be comforting to know that you're not in this alone.

The Dubliner said...

"The party has made its decision and we're stuck with it..."

No, Gerry made the decision and you're all stuck with it. That's what happens in fascist parties... but at least you all had a nice day out at the RDS rubberstamping Gerry's decision, eh?

" we can only make the best of it that we can."

Yup, do what Gerry tells you to do like the good obedient sheep that you "rebels" have shown yourselves to be.

"I'm going to do this by continuing in my specific role within the party, where I do think we're achieving something, and by using whatever limited influence I have to try to prevent further bad decisions being made."

What "further bad decisions" would those be? Accepting the legitimacy of British rule, swearing a solemn oath of allegiance to the crown's forces, amending Articles 2 & 3 to remove the south's territorial claim to the north, demanding a return to Stormont and being eager to serve in Her Majesty's Government, legitimising and granting legislative to the right of the unionists to dictate the status of the north via the PoC, or simply allowing Gerry and his handlers defeat the republican movement from within by assimilating it ever-deeper into the United Kingdom? I think you're find that all the major fuck-ups have been made and that partition is now more secure than at any point in history. But by all means, voice your token dissent when Gerry gives his blessing to join the British army as his handlers will compel him to do within a year. You will stay within the party at all times and Gerry can count on that sheep mentality to fuck you all over as completely as he has done.

"But who knows. I could still change my mind later."

You won't. But you should do truth one service and stop calling yourselves a republican party.

Wednesday said...

What's it to you?

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