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Left Archive: Galway Worker, Socialist Workers’ Movement c. October 1974 June 14, 2010

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Socialist Workers' Movement.
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GW1974

[Original file now replaced by one compressed by Conor to a little over 2mb]

Many thanks to Mark P for forwarding this document which was produced by the Galway branch of the Socialist Workers’ Movement. It’s a brief four page leaflet, hand typed and dealing with issues like redundancies, the Westcon Ltd. dispute and Life in a Galway Flat.

What is most immediately striking is the emphasis on local issues to the exclusion of all else – remarkable given the period of time in which it was produced. This doesn’t incorporate to any great extent a theoretical analyses or even make much reference to broader political issues on the island. That said it does contain the following outline of an approach:

A Coisti Oibri na Gaeltachta [which] must be formed as a priority… it must build form the start close links of practical active solidarity with the Galway Shop Stewards and rank and File Committee and affiliate to the National Rank and File Movement.

A minimum program on which all workers willing to go on the offensive [to]? the bosses can fight must be worked out in fully democratic discussions to become the basic program of these Committees.

Revolutionary Socialists accepting this minimum program must be free to propose within the Committees their strategy for fighting all the basic issues facing the working class in such a way as to mobilize the class as a whole and organize it for the seizure of power in a workers revolution that will build the workers Republic over the bones of the Capitalist Class.

And it stands as a contrast to the more polished documents issued by the Socialist Workers’ Movement during and after this period.

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1. NollaigO - June 14, 2010

Count the number of “musts” in that brief extract chosen by WbS.

The point about absence of any national politics is also apt. [“national” as “in the national arena”

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2. D_D - June 14, 2010

Thanks for including this in the archives.

I have not read (reread?) it closely yet but

1. It does not refer to national issues probably because it was a local insert in the SWM paper ‘The Worker’ which did deal with national and international matters.

2. The style of the extract above has all the hallmarks of the IWG faction in Galway, a style greatly at odds with the SWM’s contemporary attempt to convey socialism with a working class, and indeed, human, face.

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WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2010

Thanks a million D-D. That’s very handy to know on both scores.

We actually have a copy of The Worker in the Archive from the same year (I should have linked to it in the piece above – edit, I have now!) which provides a good point of reference. The Workers is a very nice production, well made, good contents, very clear. http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/the-left-archive-the-worker-may-june-1974-socialist-workers-movement/ We’ve also got another copy of the Worker, or it could be a successor paper, from the 1980s which should provide a good contrast.

I wasn’t aware that the group in Galway took a different approach. Was that ever formalised in a split?

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Mark P - June 14, 2010

Galway was where a number of people associated with the Irish Workers Group (then Workers Power Ireland, then Permanent Revolution Ireland) were based. This group resulted from expulsions from the SWM in 1976. Conor (or at least I assume it was him) has a piece on their history here:

http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/irish-left-history-project-irish-workers-group-1976-class-struggle/

D_D was saying that this publication bears the hallmarks of the IWG people, and given that Galway was later the IWG “stronghold” that would make sense.

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3. PJ Callan - June 14, 2010

C’mon Nollaig, they’re talking about spuds for jaysus sake – that’s about as national as you’re going to get from the trots.

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Mark P - June 14, 2010

PJ:

While having Ireland’s last remaining ultra-Stalinist pensioner commenting here does lend the place a certain madcap charm, it would perhaps be better if you tried to include some actual content in your postings.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 14, 2010

Got something against pensioners?

Please don’t use ageist language.

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Mark P - June 14, 2010

I have something against ultra-Stalinist pensioners, a very small, politically distinct and entirely unrepresentative subset of the senior citizen population.

I’m very disappointed, by the way, that you failed to take to me to task for using the term “madcap” which was clearly highly disrespectful to the mentally ill.

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4. Mark P - June 14, 2010

This was one of the odder things in the Socialist Party’s archive in Dublin (I understand that most of the older left material in the much bigger collection in Belfast was given to the Linenhall library when the offices were done up).

The bulk of the material there consists of Militant and Socialist Party publications, internal bulletins, pamphlets conference documents and the like – as far as I can tell everything of any length ever issued by the organisation. Then there’s a few boxes of material from other left groups. This is strongly biased towards “theoretical” journals and magazines, or national party newspapers. This was, If I remember correctly, the only item of its type.

The most notable thing about it is that it looks extremely amateurish. While the SWP/SWM has rarely if ever had outstanding visual presentation, it has almost always had a certain basic professionalism in the way it presents its material. This really doesn’t – from the title which seems to have been hand drawn by a child, to the spelling errors and corrections in the text. It shows that this was not produced by their national office in Dublin.

As far as content goes, I actually don’t think that this is notably bad or mad. In fact its mix of articles about Galway landlordism and local industrial disputes is quite interesting. The strategies proposed are a bit disconnected from reality (there are good reasons why squatting has never taken off in Irish cities the way it did in Italian ones, notably a legal regime which is singularly unreceptive to squatters, a rank and file movement isn’t obviously an answer to the dumping of cheap clothes on local markets etc) but it isn’t too wildly dogmatic and the language is mostly accessable.

It is lacking in national or international news, but D_D gives a good explanation for this – if it was distributed along with the national paper, it makes sense that its focus was entirely on the local. I can’t see a date on it anywhere, but it seems to be from the 70s. I don’t know if it predates the IWG expulsions – the IWG was mostly Galway based, but the SWM definitely had a branch there at various stages after that split.

By the way, does anyone know what local papers / newsletters are produced on the Irish left nowadays?

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Mark P - June 14, 2010

Ok, to partially answer two of my own questions (the wonders of Google):

1) If this is from October 1974, then it predates the expulsion of the soon-to-be Irish Workers Group. And given the IWG’s relative concentration in Galway, this was therefore probably largely the work of those people.

2) On local publications:

The Socialist Party produces three local publications: Fingal Socialist, South West Socialist (both in Dublin) and Northside Socialist (in Cork). These are generally 8 pages.

The People Before Profit Alliance produces “People Before Profit Alliance News”, a Dublin South Central newsletter (2 pages). It may well produce something similar in Dun Laoghaire, but I don’t know.

The Workers Party – do they produce anything in Waterford or Cork?

Workers Solidarity Movement – I had heard that one or two of their branches had some kind of local publication, but if so I’ve never seen it.

Is there anything else that I’m leaving out from the socialist left. An ISN publication in Finglas maybe?

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Starkadder - June 14, 2010

There was a small publication in Cork called the
“Cork Anarchist Conspiracy” that I don’t know much about.

A link about it here (not sure of its accuracy):

http://zinewiki.com/Cork_Anarchist_Conspiracy

Athol Books used to publish a Cork-based magazine,
Labour Comment, that was absorbed into the
Irish Political Review in the late 1990s.

Not a magazine, but the Alternative Ireland Directory
was published from the Quay Co-Op in Cork in the
80s & 90s.

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5. Don Draper - June 14, 2010

The Cork WSM have ‘Rebel Worker.’
The SWM ‘Worker’ of the 1970s was a much more open and non-jargonistic journal than the local sheet reproduced above. It was largely aimed at union activists.

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6. Mark P - June 14, 2010

I suppose it makes sense that so many of the local publications mentioned have been Cork based. It’s a big enough city to be something of an alternative centre of gravity, culturally and politically. Also in recent decades it has had a markedly bigger left than most other places outside Dublin (the exceptions in relative terms being Waterford and Clonmel).

Is Rebel Worker still coming out? The most recent edition I can find on the WSM site is from 2008 (although of course they might not bother archiving a local publication online).

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7. Jim Monaghan - June 14, 2010

The IWG as far as I know at that stage was Johnston based in Galway ( did he have anyone else beside himself?, I think he is the Irish correspondent of Workers Power), McWilliams based in Derry and Larragey in Dublin.
They had a tendency to think a convention of the shop stewards /
whatever of what struggles were happening around the country could be an open sesame for a national struggle.
There were/are many local publications sometimes as inserts sometimes as purely local. The Northern struggle produced an amazing number of ones.

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WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2010

That’s very true Jim. The amount of docs from the North with that sort of material is very varied.

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8. splinteredsunrise - June 15, 2010

The CPI does still run Unity in Belfast. It’s got something of a venerable history going back to the old CPNI days.

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9. PJ Callan - June 15, 2010

“Ultra Stalinist pensioner” – I nearly slipped off the plastic covered lounge chair and choked on me bag of TAYTOES with that one.

I can feel the outrage of the Galway trots across the years at such rank exploitation as been made to eat TAYTOES for dinner.

Mark P – Did any of the 4th Internationals ( all 57 varieties) have anything to say about this TAYTOE FORCED FEEDING?

Jim: I posted up a list of all the Galway IWG people ages ago but the admin took the names down – something about protecting privacy, even though they in their day were all publicly associated with the “Class Struggle” paper.

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neilcaff - June 15, 2010

PJ listening to your entertaining Stalinist diatribes is like a living window into the past. A bit like if old fellas with beards started going on about burning bushes commanding them to go on rambling trips in the desert.

By the way did you learn to spell in the same school as Dan Quayle?

http://www.capitalcentury.com/1992.html

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Conor McCabe - June 15, 2010

Neilcaff, the TAYTOES spelling comes from the GALWAY WORKER. It’s on page one of the PDF, as well as in the image which opens this piece.

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neilcaff - June 15, 2010

Well SOMEONE must have gone to school with Dan :)

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Conor McCabe - June 15, 2010

:-)

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10. irishelectionliterature - June 15, 2010

I got pointed at this site http://www.andrewburgin.co.uk/ the other day. In its Ireland section , where most of the items are to do with the North there are a few pamphlets from the left produced in the Republic.
Alas its all for sale.

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Conor McCabe - June 15, 2010

Not bad. He has a copy of the Irish Internationalist “Special Supplement on Czechoslovakia” which I haven’t come across in any archive yet, and for only a fiver. And a copy of John Boyle’s “The Irish Labor Movement in the Nineteenth Century” for £10, which is really good value for such a scholarly work.

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Mark P - June 15, 2010

Does anyone know anything about who published the following items? I don’t think I’ve come across any of them before:

“The Irish Marxist” From 1991 and described only as a “Communist theoretical journal”.

http://www.andrewburgin.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=10&products_id=7245

“The Worker” “Published by a group of Communist workers in the Six Counties”. 1969. It looks like a periodical but this was the only issue published.

http://www.andrewburgin.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=10&products_id=7013

“Young Worker” “Published a Young Communist group in Cork.” 1969. This is issue 4, so presumably there were at least three others.

http://www.andrewburgin.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=10&products_id=7177.

“Class Unity in Belfast” “A Call for the Unity of the Belfast Workers’. Belfast, 23 August 1969. A statement to all Belfast workers from a Workers Defence Unit in the Falls Area. Two-pages, the text of a leaflet issued ‘at the height of the fascist terrorism in Belfast in mid-August … produced by a group of workers in the Falls area and despite difficulties circulated widely not only in the Falls, but also in Protestant areas.”

http://www.andrewburgin.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=10&products_id=6049

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Garibaldy - June 15, 2010

Don’t know whether to thank or curse you for this AK. Likely to cost me a fortune, along with a few others here. And we’ll probably drive the prices up too all arriving en masse.

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11. Conor McCabe - June 15, 2010

Young Worker was produced by the Cork Young Socialists. One of the persons involved with Young Worker was Jack Lane, who was briefly a member of the Irish Internationalists before joining the Irish Communist Organisation.

Brian Girvan, Liam Holland, Jim Moher, Stephen McCarthy and John Deady were some of the other people involved.

I have pdfs of issues one and four on my hard drive somewhere. I must put them up actually.

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Mark P - June 15, 2010

Do you have any idea why they billed themselves as “A Young Communist Group in Cork” rather than under their own name? Was it perhaps put out by one faction in the Young Socialists rather than the group as a whole?

I’m particularly curious about the Irish Marxist one because that’s quite a recent date, relatively speaking.

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Conor McCabe - June 15, 2010

Well the first issue states Cork Young Socialists. It’s on the front page. Issue four states “Published by a Young Communist Group in Cork.” I’d guess that in the interim the local Young Socialists had words with them over the name. As far as I know by Dec. 1968, when Young Worker was first produced, Jack Lane had resigned from the Labour Party Young Socialists.

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Mark P - June 15, 2010

Interesting stuff.

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Mark P - June 15, 2010

Oh, and thanks!

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12. neilcaff - June 15, 2010

Can I just say at this juncture, what a fantastic display by the deformed workers state of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea!

When one contrasts tonights disciplened, well organised, collective defensive display against the rabble that was Australia on Sunday night, the planned economy once again demonstrates it’s superiority over capitalist anarchy when it comes to small footballing nations taking on the might of the big capitalist football powers! ;)

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Conor McCabe - June 16, 2010

Is this Eamonn Dunphy? ‘cos that’s pretty much what Eamonn said at half-time, (seriously!), although he did add that if you go to North Korea ‘bring your own food.’

Having seen Portugal and Ivory Coast today, North Korea have a good enough chance at second in the group.

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DublinDilettante - June 16, 2010

I posted about North Korea the other day, and expected them to do okay, but was very impressed. Ultimately, their strength was also their undoing; with two defensive wing-backs (basically full-backs) in the five-man Korean defence, the Brazilian full-backs (themselves basically wing-backs to begin with) had licence to bomb on with impunity, and that was what broke the deadlock.

For all their defensiveness, North Korea did try to use the ball constructively when they won it back. The ‘keeper whacking the ball long into the channels may have looked like desperation, but it was actually a very clever ploy to get Jong Tae-Se free on the flanks before the Brazilian full-backs could track back. It only needed to work once to change the game, sadly it didn’t.

Didn’t see any handshakes between the players or coaching staff at the end; perhaps it was forbidden? I used to know an old guy who was part of the Hungarian technical team at the 1954 World Cup, and by all accounts the ÁVH shadowed them literally everywhere.

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DublinDilettante - June 16, 2010

Sorry, I just realised how long and irrelevant that post was; sorry for derailing your thread, CM! You started it though…

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13. PJ Callan - June 16, 2010

I’ve got the first two issues of ‘The Irish Marxist’ which I have already promised to scan and send to this site. It was published by a socialist student group at Coleraine University.

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14. PJ Callan - June 16, 2010

The latter is still active –

http://socialistsociety.wordpress.com/

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Mark P - June 16, 2010

That website seems to belong to the socialist societies supportive of the Socialist Party in Queens, Jordanstown and Coleraine. Presumably this isn’t the same “socialist society” that was in existence in 1991?

(Although I suppose, given the turnover of student politics, that the Coleraine socialist society could have been taken over or won round at some point between 1991 and the present day).

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15. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - June 16, 2010

[...] * Socialist Workers Movement (SWM): Galway Worker, Oktober 1974 [...]

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16. EamonnCork - June 16, 2010

Folks, does anyone know who the ACAB were? I’ve got a photo here of a guy in full punk regalia with an anti police brutality slogan on his jacket and ACAB written on top, circa 1985. Just wondering if anyone might know what ACAB stands for and who they might have been? Thanks.

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Ramzi Nohra - June 16, 2010

where was the photo taken?

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sonofstan - June 16, 2010

You’re joking, surely?

Well known football chant, at least in my neck of the woods…..

‘All coppers are bastards’

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Joe - June 16, 2010

Ah EamonnCork. The joys of growing up in innocent rural Sligo. ACAB is still seen graffitied on the odd wall in Dublin. As a teenager, I agreed with it as a slogan but the rightward drift with age has softened my cough.

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sonofstan - June 16, 2010

Still current -was chanted as recently as Bohs V Glentoran last April when the Gardai waded into the Glens fans to confiscate a Union Jack – and got the sympathetic chant of A-C-A-B! from us.

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