Correspondence: Replying to Red, as Read
4 November 2010
'Redí in his letter (19 September) has two basic gripes with this writer's article 'Two Historians: Hart & Kostick' (7 September).
He says it is 'very unwise' to link the late regressive Hart with the socialist Kostick. It is unclear why this should be so, and it should be clear to any reader that they were linked only within the article which made clear that there were major differences between them. The message was that the Harts of the world (and, alas, there are plenty to fill the late Peter's shoes) need to be contested more seriously than is being done by Kostick's methods. That this has to be said can be gathered from the uncritical praise lavished on Kostick's work and quoted on the back cover of the reprint.
On the charge of the article making 'sweeping and imprecise statements, "Red" objects to the statement that at a point in its career, a mass 'movement may have to take its place as a support for armed struggle if it is to get anywhere.' He doesn't 'think that this statement is correct', mainly because he identifies 'armed struggle' narrowly with guerillaism. Yet the seizure of the Winter Palace was an act of armed struggle, not guerillaism. The error of the Provos was that they took to offensive armed struggle before the mass struggle had developed sufficiently. It is clear that their dissident heirs are making the same mistake.
This leads to "Red's" final point and it is a correct one. There is a disagreement between the writer and other comrades about the extent and timing of the inability of the peace process to deliver democracy to the six county statelet, let alone a united Ireland.
Everybody in Socialist Democracy is agreed
on this inability. However, the writer thinks that the process was better
than the unconditional surrender for which the Brits and the Loyalists
were pressing for most of the thirty years war. It gave some sort of firm
position in which the resistance might recuperate, and perhaps even come
back with an improved strategy. Instead, since 1998, the Provo leadership
has shown practically that it has swallowed Hume's formulations and is
acting very much like the old nationalist party would have done if it had
seats in the colonial cabinet. Instead of fighting back politically, it
is disarming its supporters (again, politically; in this context,
the arms dumps are only symbolic). Whatever about the history, Socialist
Democracy is united in opposing this betrayal.