Created: Tuesday, 11 January 2011 14:54
Written by Glasgow FRFI
On 28 November, FRFI Glasgow and others braved the snow to join the annual John MacLean rally in Glasgow organised by the Scottish Republic Socialist Movement and supported by the Pollok and Thornliebank and Volunteer Charles Carrigan Republican Flute Bands. Gerry Cairns, secretary of the John MacLean society, led the graveside oration at Eastwood ceremony. The usual march unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the treacherous conditions but a social was nonetheless held in Pollokshaws, MacLean´s birthplace. An FRFI supporter was invited to speak and his well received speech is reproduced below.
John MacLean (1873-1923), alongside his Edinburgh-born comrade James Connolly, was one of the greatest Marxists and revolutionaries every produced on our shores. We are dedicated to upholding his spirit and memory. Long live John MacLean!
"What would MacLean have made of today?" Speech by FRFI supporter to annual John MacLean commemoration event, 2010.
What would MacLean have made of today? Another generation suffering the cruelties and inhumanities of Capitalism and Imperialism, forced to fight back and then forward to a new world of justice and peace. Just as MacLean and his generation fought for the people of the future we fight for the future generation today. His tireless activism and commitment to Marxist theory, both in words and in actions, has left a revolutionary legacy that everyone should learn about and an example for everyone to try and follow.
Revolutionary activism is the only positive way to escape the depressing state that the world is in, it is a way of fighting back against those who deny the poor the means to a good life and for the oppressed peoples of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East often the means to life itself.
Now the British, European and Yankee imperialists are attacking the living standards of their own populations the connection between the struggles of poor people living in imperialist countries with those living in oppressed countries is becoming clearer.
Just as MacLean called for the victory of the oppressed in his day, we call for the victory of all oppressed people now. Whether they are African, Afghani, Palestinian, Irish, Venezuelan, Scottish or Cuban makes no difference.
If they are resisting imperialism our fight is there’s and there’s is ours.
The Iron Hand of British Imperialism and the Steel Boot of the Yanks spark terror in the back streets of Helmand today and break into homes, arrest and torture people tonight.
That is the reality, it is not our reality but it is the doing of a system that will cut the benefits of the elderly, disabled and long term unemployed, soon in this country.
The imperialist who occupies a far away land that no one has ever heard of, is not far away at all, he occupies and attacks the poor in his own country as well by defending the rotten system that’s put them in poverty. A working class person in an imperialist army is a pawn but he is also well paid killer.
He is a hit man hired out for a small sum to protect and defend the interests of Imperialism wherever and whenever required.
Malcolm X said ‘the only thing that power understands is power’. People all over the world today are resisting imperialism, aware that the power of the oppressed, if realized, beats that of the oppressor 1,000 times over.
But what can we do in this country right now?
Whether its unemployment or low paid work they have you under their thumb and as we have seen and will see they do not hesitate to squash those who they perceive to be a threat.
This is why we need a revolutionary education because they cannot kill ideas. They could jail, torture and poison Maclean but they could not and cannot kill the ideas that he promoted. A revolutionary education will be half learned on the street and half in a book, theory must be backed up with practice and practice with theory so we are learning everyday how to wage the class war that’s been declared on us.
With the establishment of the Scottish Labour College, MacLean stated:
‘The millennium, if it is to come, must come from an educated working class. Today you can be swayed by speeches and pamphlets. But the person who has studied Marx and has applied him to literature, to life in all its phases, can see things as they are.'
When we look around us today can we say that we see things as they are and are we that educated working class that MacLean was talking about? I can speak for myself in saying that I have not studied Marx at the level I should have.
Maybe my hesitation to do so, without making excuses, reflects the fact that I live in an Imperialist country where my basic needs are met and therefore i do not need revolution as much as those people who are suffering the realities of Imperialism do.
But when we educate ourselves about what is happening in the world on a daily basis and why we enjoy the privileges that others do not have, as our awareness grows of the injustice and barbarity that takes place, revolution soon becomes a necessity and MacLean’s urge for working class people to study Marxist economics becomes a challenge that we take up ourselves.
We do not remember MacLean to idolize or glamorize his courage and commitment, while admiring it just the same; we remember him so that we can learn about his struggle and from it draw the lessons to help us in today’s fight.
Long live MacLean and the ideas he died for!