The Left Archive: Addendum to the Workers’ Party 1991 Debate from ‘Making Sense’ October 26, 2007Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
Here, donated anonymously [and we’re very grateful for the material] are some of the follow up articles to the last issue of the Workers Party ‘Making Sense’ that we posted a week or two ago. Also, here is that missing right hand page of the article by Paddy Woodworth. Clearly that was a printing error. As an example of the turmoil in the party I think this sequence of articles gives a good impression of the times. What is notable is that trouble was emerging across a range of fronts. It wasn’t just the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also the line on the North and the legacy of the media centred faction which was heartily disliked by apparently all in this discussion. And this I’d argue is crucial to an understanding of the internal dynamics of the WP. It was never, as its rivals and opponents lazily – albeit understandably – characterised it, a simple ‘Stalinist’ party. There were in fact many competing tendencies and currents within it, from democratic socialist, Euro Communist, hard-line Moscow socialists, as Splintered Sunrise has noted there were a small number of traditional Republicans who stuck with OSF and never left (what on earth did they make of it all? Although on second thoughts considering how the party took a bit more of a green turn post split perhaps they were just biding their time) and even believe it or not the occasional member who held Trotsky in high regard (I met that person once or twice). Then there was a socially liberal faction, a socially much more conservative grouping and so on and so forth (all sorts of fun and games in 1990, as I recall, over the issue of gay rights where one very courageous member (who as it happened was himself gay) pointed out at the Ard Fheis that logically 10% or more of those at the top of the hall were gay and the party was simply not addressing the issue from a rights basis. Cue a certain panic in the collective expressions of those who had never thought of the issue, those who had thought of it and had promptly disregarded it and those for whom it was a functional aspect of their lives and it was great to hear it being expressed). And these categories were diffuse which led to all sorts of oddities in the later split with people leaving who should by rights have stayed and people staying who should by rights have left. I’ve noted the current travails of Respect and the SWP. Somehow, although there are obvious differences, there are also similarities in the way that groupings developed and people began to assume ideological positions that would drive them politically for long after. That all this was couched in near existential terms perhaps indicates the solipsistic nature of left politics, or an inevitable human dynamic…
Here is the full Paddy Woodworth article:
In the March/April edition of “Making Sense” John Lowry critiques Paddy Woodworths original article.
Also from that issue – for all you BICO watchers out there – is an interesting debate on the significance of 1916 between MacGiolla and Paul Bew.
Anyhow, from the subsequent Making Sense we have an article by Triona Dooney which also critiques Woodworth…
And a letter from Woodworth which responds to Lowry.