Opinion: Our socialist and republican ideals are everything - Matthew, Donegal
The sacrifice and struggle of the IRA and the signing of the good Friday agreement has opened up space and time for young republicans to focus on and develop our political education.
When people first join Sinn Féin and Republican Youth they naturally tend to have a good understanding of Irish republicanism but sometimes they tend to have less of an understanding around socialism.
As a party Sinn Féin has a primary and ultimate objective. Our primary objective is removing British rule from Ireland and uniting the island under one state and our ultimate Objective is to establish in that 32 county state a democratic socialist republic. As a youth wing one of the stated objectives of Republican Youth is to promote Sinn Féin as a radical, progressive and relevant political alternative for young people in Ireland. To do that we must educate ourselves in the objectives of Sinn Féin and what our ultimate objective actually means.
In the 21st century we have a wealth of knowledge only a Google search away. We can easily take advantage of this with a bit of guidance from comrades. Don't be afraid to ask Republican Youth and senior Sinn Féin activists what books, films and documentaries they would recommend on socialism.
For a socialist perspective on current affairs I would recommend the south and Central American based 'Telesur English' website, (http://telesurtv.net/english) . Telesur also have popular social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter where they post short videos detailing the history, struggles and campaigns of leftist movements across south and Central America and indeed the wider world.
Personally I have always found it easier to learn via documentaries and audio so some of my best recommendations for developing your socialism and organising methods are 'The Black Panthers: The vanguard of the Revolution' which explores the history and battles of the radical black liberation and socialist Black Panther Party during the 1970's. The documentary is also mainly done from the perspective of former black panthers.
The Irish produced 'The revolution will not be televised' (https://youtu.be/Id--ZFtjR5c) is a brilliant insight in to the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution in the early 2000's Venezuela. The documentary also provides much-needed context and background to the pro capitalist and counter revolutionary demonstrations taking place in Venezuela today.
One book I have read and found to be very helpful is 'The ABC's of Socialism'. The book is clear and easy to follow and tackles some of the common questions and misconceptions people have e.g. 'Why do socialists talk so much about workers?' & 'don't the rich deserve to keep most of their money?'.
The other book I would recommend is Sinn Féin TD Eoin O Broin's 'Sinn Féin & the Politics of left Republicanism'. Eoin's book explores the party's broader history as well as its past and current strategies to achieve socialism.
Some recommendations from comrades include the documentary 'Ireland's Greatest: James Connelly' which explores the life of the 1916 leader. The book 'The Rubber Bandits Giude to Money' attempts to explain the recession and how it has pushed people towards embracing socialism.
Our socialist and republican ideals are everything, they are the guiding light to our actions and the reason we are in Republican Youth. We must not waste this opportunity to enhance and strengthen the socialist side of our ideals.
In saying that, we can also not make the mistakes of some in the past by forgetting the mantra, there can be no socialism without national liberation.
- Matthew McLaughlin Widaw, Donegal