Bob Crow: Partisan of the Working Class March 11, 2014Posted by Garibaldy in Trade Unions.
Tragic news from London of the death of the RMT general secretary Bob Crow at the age of 52. Bob Crow was an inspirational union leader, a determined defender of public services, and an unabashed communist. He was an incredibly effective leader of the RMT, growing the union, and achieving a great deal for its members. But his defence of standards in public transport was about much more than the interests of his members. It was not just about public safety. It was also about his vision of society and public responsibility. It was a consequence of his socialism. His opposition to the neo-liberal agenda of the EU saw Crow help form the No2EU campaign. He was never someone trapped in a simply trade union consciousness: he understood that the struggle for workers’ rights and a better society was an economic and a political one, that needed waged on all fronts.
The enemies of the working class knew the value of Bob Crow, resulting in a consistent campaign of vilification, led by the Daily Mail. Only yesterday, he was asked to defend his salary on BBC Radio, and happily did so. His members knew his value to the union, just as the Tories did.
Bob Crow took a keen interest in progressive causes across the globe, and especially in Ireland. He and the RMT opposed the extradition of Sean Garland, actively supported the Jim Connell festival in Meath, and recently co-sponsored the publication of John Callow’s James Connolly and the Re-Conquest of Ireland. We in The Workers’ Party will never forget the support given by Bob Crow and the RMT.
His own description of Connolly stands as a memorial to Bob Crow.
a leader of enormous integrity, bravery and vision
Missing the point on the recovery? March 11, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
So, now come the complaints about those who would ‘talk down’ the ‘recovery’. For there’s a piece by Conall O’Morain, of the Sunday Business Show on Today FM, in this weekends SBP which takes the austerity ‘Groaners’ to task for talking things down.
So far we’ve had Holocaust Deniers, Climate Change Deniers and now we have Recovery Deniers. And they were out in force on Vincent Browne’s new monthly TV3 show, The People’s Debate’. In what was a bit of a broadcasting free-for-all, despite Browne’s very best efforts, 200 of Ireland’s Top Narcissists shouted at and over each other for two hours. Each claimed that they felt the pain of austerity’ most and they all agreed they were anti-austerity’ – a stupid badge of honour worn like that of the Pro-Lifers, as if any of us are for austerity (tax increases and service cuts) or against life’.
Well, it’s hardly novel to argue that ‘austerity’ isn’t value free, that there are indeed those who seek greater austerity, tax increases and service cuts as a part of an avowedly ideological approach to the nature of the state and capitalism, an approach that if not adhered to in full does indeed comprise a significant portion of orthodox socio-economic policy today.
That’s so central that one could almost wonder how he could make a case for it being otherwise.
He hits a lot of targets, a PBPA that doesn’t come out using it’s more ‘accurate name, the SWP’, and a certain incoherence in the critique of the current situation. But that is to miss the point, I suspect, because it is almost entirely irrelevant what the SWP does or does not do in relation to the broader orthodoxy, and the incoherence of the critique doesn’t as such invalidate a critique or mean that a situation is beyond critique.
And this is seen not least his contention that things must be improving because:
So there you have it. 60,000 people back to work last year and some parts of the HSE doing much more with much less. But this couldn’t be true because the man on Vincent Browne’s show said so.
But if that’s evidence that things are improving, when so much else isn’t factored in, such as emigration, such as the reality as noted by Pat Leahy that much more has yet to be taken out of state funding, €2bn plus at the next budget, and that’s if things go well – the SBP itself in a money saving leaflet (hey, the times are good, whatever the ‘groaners’ say, no?) notes the sheer scale of the numbers with mortgages in trouble. That’s the problem with making out that the recovery is powering ahead when the very paper the column is hosted in in article after article attests to the reality that the ‘recovery’ is partial, fragile, perhaps even illusory. Because of course there’s a lot of space between free fall and recovery.
I don’t know if what we’re experiencing is a recovery, though there clearly is a more stable situation than there was. One can be marginally grateful that that is the case while still noting that stability does not mean the situation is good, or even poor. There have been too many cuts, too much damage carried out on the socio-economic fabric, for that to be the case. More measured analyses agree that austerity is here until 2018 at the best and in truth for much longer afterwards given the constraints imposed by Europe.
Sure, it’s easy to find inconsistencies and worse amongst some of those contesting the status quo, but that doesn’t invalidate the broader message.
Socialist Party Name Change March 11, 2014Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.
On ballot papers it will now read ‘Stop the Water Tax – Socialist Party’.
So will that be just Paul Murphy running under that Party Name?
….. as I presume the Socialist Party candidates running for the Anti Austerity Alliance will be down as AAA candidates.
Services and manufacturing March 11, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Economy, Irish Politics.
William Keegan in the Observer points to some curious facts at the weekend.
Writing about a ’40-year old Tory obsession with services that has served no one’, he argues that:
As I wasted several hours on the telephone last week to various branches of BT stretching from here to India, I reflected on what a farce modern management has made of privatisation.
True, there are those who recall having to wait to get the old, nationalised BT to install a new line; but I seem to remember that in those days if your phone was out of order, you merely rang a three-digit number and called an engineer. Nowadays it requires endless calls and a truly Kafkaesque routine of questions and “procedures”.
And this points to a reality about services that he then outlines, that for all the rhetoric service is overstated, massively so in some instances.
I fear there is a wider problem with modern management. They outsource to cut costs and make life difficult for the customer. And part of their secret is to make the consumer do the work. Indeed, I am lost in admiration for the way some modern businesses have managed to force so many people to “go online” and do the things that the business itself should be doing if it really wanted to provide a “service”.
We can see a particularly pointed example of same in relation to the way the banks here are currently offloading anything that could be regarded as a ‘service’ to customers and charging handsomely for same (indeed the SBP’s money doctor had a piece on same and it is breathtaking how cynical and mercenary that process actually is).
Anyhow Keegan notes that privatisation and service oriented policy/ideology had odd roots:
The biggest joke is that the originators of the drive towards privatisation – Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher – somehow convinced themselves that the future of the British economy lay with the development of “services”. Jim Prior, employment secretary in Thatcher’s first cabinet, wrote of the Treasury ministers at the time: “None of them had any experience of running a whelk stall, let alone a decent-sized company. Their attitude to manufacturing industry bordered on the contemptuous. They shared the view of the other monetarists in the cabinet – that we were better suited as a nation to being a service economy and should no longer worry about production.”
That dislocation between ideology and experience is remarkable, isn’t it? Having worked in the private sector for most of my working life I’ve always been amazed by the rhetorical boosterism by some politicians of an area that is – to put it kindly – problematical. Indeed a lack of proportion in regard to its very real weaknesses (whatever it’s certain strengths) is endemic now – one which surely matches or exceeds the most credulous adherent of the unreconstructed command economy.
Still, I tend to think there’s a more fundamental reason for the reification of ‘services’ and the indifference (shading into antagonism) for manufacturing, for it was in the latter that unionisation in the private sector was at its strongest while in the former it was weaker, and by extending one it was thought that the power of unions would weaken further. So this was intrinsically ideological a decision, and note that economically the concentration on one at the expense of the other seems at this remove to be so deeply problematic that even the Tories are having to make some efforts to to pay lip service to ameliorating the situation of manufacturing in the UK.
And Keegan makes one very basic point when he notes that:
…veteran Labour MP Michael Meacher says in his eminently readable new book, The State We Need – Keys to the Renaissance of Britain: “Any sustainable growth of living standards can only be built on a strong and resilient manufacturing base. Therefore rebuilding that badly weakened manufacturing capacity, halved in the last 30 neoliberal years, should be made an overriding aim for the next Labour government.”
Well, maybe the LP in the UK will do that. Maybe.
It’s the stuff you don’t expect that… March 10, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
…screws up a government. It’s true, though, isn’t it? The Reform Alliance, much trailed in the media had little enough effect on the Coalition. The Seanad abolition referendum, even factoring in how little people care about that institution one way or another, likewise. The LPT. Tricky at the beginning, but by the end easily enough dealt with. Water? An open question. Austerity itself, whittling away support but FG is unlikely to drop lower than it’s 2007 election rating of 27% for which they will probably be grateful (the LP? Ah, that’s a different issue).
But look at this, who would have thunk that a close examination of Rehab, under a chief exec whose political home was once FF, would lead to this?
Must be others this evening wondering how long they can hold on.
Here’s an interesting thesis… March 10, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History, Irish Politics, The Left.
…Reactions in the West of Ireland to political change in Northern Ireland, 1968-1982. (MA: NUI Galway, 2013) by Gerard Madden. A genuinely innovative perspective on the conflict which is well worth reading in full – and a good healthy Bibliography too! Thanks to the person who sent the link and thanks to Gerard too.
Irish Left Archive: New Document Collections Feature March 10, 2014Posted by AonRud in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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We’ve recently added a new Collections section to the Irish Left Archive website, with each collection bringing together a group of thematically linked documents with an overview. We hope to expand this over time to highlight more events, places, times or themes that link the documents in the archive, outside the individual commentaries.
You can see it here: Irish Left Archive – Document Collections.
There are three added so far – these may be familiar to readers here, as they bring together documents that were originally added to the CLR as a group, but were separated by the format of the new website. (These combine the documents related to the 1984/5 British Miners’ Strike, the National Association for Irish Justice’s First Annual Conference, and articles from Gerry Foley on the 1975 Official Sinn Féin/IRSP split).
There are a couple more to follow, but we’d also welcome contributions from anyone who would like to provide an overview of a set a documents from the archive. For example, there’s scope there for collections related to the women’s movement, groups of related organisations, particular time periods, and so on – any suggestions are very welcome.
As always, contributions of documents to the archive are also welcome, and now that the new site has had a few months to settle in and see some use, if there’s any feedback, suggestions (or glaring errors you’ve spotted), you can contact us via the site or firstname.lastname@example.org.
They pretend to ask us, we pretend to vote… March 10, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…is the thought that comes to mind reading this.
Left Archive: Culture and Revolution in Ireland, Eoin Ó Murchú, Official Sinn Féin, 1971 March 10, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Sinn Féin.
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To download the above file please click on the following link:
This document issued in 1971 by Official Sinn Féin and written by Eoin Ó Murchú, engages with the issue of Culture and Revolution in Ireland. In the course of 24 pages it examines ‘What is Culture’, discusses ‘Native Irish Culture’, considers ‘Imperialism and Culture’ and ‘Socialism and Culture’ and then ‘Language and Culture’ and proposes a ‘Manifesto of the Cultural Revolution in Ireland’.
It is too long a document to give more than a brief overview but the Introduction will serve to offer some insight into its overall approach.
As noted in the Reamhra:
Culture is av dry wide term that embraces many meanings. Some associate culture with the individuals who talk about art and drama, the arty-set; others associate it with literature, art, music, etc., which people have produced; for us, revolutionaries, it has a wider and yet more specific, meaning – a meaning which places culture in its political context. Culture is the response of a people to the environment they live in. As such, the culture of a people includes every aspect of their lives – the way they work, eat, cohabit, play – and it is not confided to the artistic means which different civilisations have developed. What we as revolutionaries are concerned about in in this question of culture and art is the way people’s ideas and attitudes are formed, about the development of revolutionary consciousness.
Ó Murchú quotes Mao Tse Tung’s definition:
‘A given culture is the ideological reflection of the politics and economics of a given society’.
Ó Murchú argues that:
We will always find in our efforts to win the people over to support of our political and economic programme that what is clear to us is often vague and confusing to them. The culture of our present society is not one that encourages revolution, for the dominant economic and political ideas are those of the dominant class in Irish society, and that class obviously is opposed to the social revolution to which we are committed. The whole aim of the cultural apparatus of the state is to condition the people, through its educational system, the mass media of radio and newspapers, and through the general promotion of mythology and superstition.
Quoting Pearse he continues…
Pearse described the educational system that the English imperial government foisted on the Irish people as the ‘murder machine’. ‘The system has aimed at the substation for men and women of mere Things…but these Things have no allegiance. Like other Things they are for sale’.
He notes the ‘immediacy of the cultural question [which] can be seen from the fact of the economic and social existence of the Gaeltacht is so tenuous at the moment.
And he concludes:
…this paper does not pretend to be definitive on this matter of culture. It is not holy writ or dogma and the production of the lecture as a pamphlet is an attempt to widen the scope of our internal education programme.
If the subject is properly discussed and criticised we ail be able to make a programme of policy, perhaps on the lines indicated in the final section, which is called ‘The Manifesto of the Cultural Revolution in Ireland’.
Briefly in relation to the Manifesto, it is notable that he argues that:
Socialism needs artists and intellectuals who will [present the socialist view of humanity and of world progress]… and because only socialism in the modern, because only socialism is responsive to humanity, because only socialism can enrich humanity socialists therefore have the right to demand of artists and intellectuals that they champion the cause of the people in their writings and in their art. If they do not then the socialist movement will expose them for the defenders of imperialism that they must be.
He also suggests that:
The revival of Irish is an integral part of any cultural revolution in Ireland. This does not mean that every person will bee forced by some miraculous compulsion to speak Irish. What it means is that it just be the conscious policy of Irish revolutionaries to call for those measures that will assist the revival of the language: More time and programmes in Irish on television on radio, the bias of a revival programme must be towards the Gaeltacht, for the Culture of the Gaeltacht is a living and vital thing while that of the Galltacht in Irish is either an imitation of Imperialist culture or a weaker version of a pure original.
We must demand of all mass media, in the North as importantly as in the South, that else mass media be used to develop the living culture of working people. The Orangemen think that the Six County state is theirs, but there is as much time devoted to Orange culture on Northern television as there is to any other aspect of Irish culture.