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The Left Archive: “Making Sense”, the Workers’ Party, 1990 June 9, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Workers' Party.

Following on from the discussions last week here , and with reference to other supporting material here.

Here is a further document of interest.

ms-latest [12mbs]




1. Colm B - June 9, 2008

Just to make one point in relation to terms used, in case of misunderstanding: Before the mid-1990s the term ‘Third Way’ was usually used to refer to a road to socialism that was neither based on social democracy nor orthodox communism. Hence efforts to set up a ‘two and half’ international after world war one in opposition to both the old second international and the leninist third international.

With the rise of Blair, Clinton et al, the term Third Way was used in an entirely different sense to indicate a form of ‘centre-left’ strategy that would supposedly overcome the problems of both old style social democracy and Thatcherism. Of course it was just a new phase of neo-liberalism.

Obviously FR and myself used the term in the original sense rather than the Blair-speak sense.

Lastly, although I think the article was fairly radical for its time and context, needless to say my own politics have moved on from what it was in 1990 (Im a member of the ISN these days), so the article does not represent my current political position, though some of it still ‘makes sense’ IMHO!


2. Jim Monaghan - June 9, 2008

As far as I can see neither the interviewew or interviewee form Hungary mentioned 1956.
A touch of the Basil Fawltys “Don’t mention the war”.
A general point how come so many who would look at the Ballymun flats and see them as awful had only to cross the curtain, see the same and see paradise.
Oh I regards the ISN as one of the hopeful things about the place.


3. Starkadder - June 9, 2008

With regards to the historical use of the term
“Third Way”, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon saw his anarchism
as a “third way” between capitalism and his rival
Marx’s brand of socialism. More sinsterly
Martin Heidegger saw Nazism as a “Third Way” between
capitalism and Communism.
Ironic that Eoghan Harris and the ISN ended up at
complete opposite ends of the political spectrum…


4. WorldbyStorm - June 9, 2008

Very true Jim.

I guess Third Way means whatever it means to whoever says it. Which can be good, or bad.

Incidentally, Colm, I still find most of yours and FR’s piece very persuasive.


5. Garibaldy - June 9, 2008

I thought Sean Kelly’s article was very good in parts, and represents several lines of thinking that still need to be pursued, particularly about the need for any future socialist economy to be responsive to the demands of consumers (for want of a better way of putting it).

I’m still far from convinced that the New Left intepretation of Gramsci – and that encouraged by the PCI at the time, including Gramsci’s brother – is the correct one. It seems to me he evolved a very specific strategy developed in the face of the problem of the mezzogiorno, of a large peasant mass that had yet to be properly integrated within the politics and culture of a united Italy – Germany had succeeded in doing this, what hadn’t Italy? The question therefore was how could socialism be successfully introduced to such an area, without which the socialist project in Italy was doomed. How to turn a sack of potatoes into revolutionary force. Everything flowed from that, especially the stress on national-popular demands, and on civil society – the state had not done its job of integrating the people of the national territory, and other means had to be found. It was not intended as the one-size-fits-all model for properly functioning bourgeois societies that people later picked it up as. Finally, I’ve yet to see anyone from the New Left explain away the several admiring references to Stalin, and what that might say about his politics.


6. WorldbyStorm - June 9, 2008

I don’t think the latter really says anything at all one way or another. Distance lent a certain detachment I’d imagine, particularly earlier on. And perhaps the small matter of his own circumstances later on.

Very much agree with you re the questions raised by Sean Kelly.


7. Garibaldy - June 10, 2008

Well they should raise questions for people like the SWP who love to use Gramsci, as he has less than positive things to say about Trotsky. I also think it has something to say about his view of the omelettes and eggs question, and how he say the transformation of society actually coming about. Which given he was sitting in a fascist jail, shouldn’t be that surprising as you suggest.

On Jim’s question on Ballymun flats and eastern Europe. I was never in the old eastern bloc, but from talking to people who were it was hardly like they were unaware of the relative poverty compared to many in the west, and the shortages etc. But what they were also aware of was the absence of homelessness, universal health care, full employment etc. I guess they saw that as much as the problems. A bit like tourists who go to Cuba I guess.


8. WorldbyStorm - June 10, 2008

I never get the SWP thing about Gramsci, although Lenin over at Lenin’s Tomb has on occasion been less complimentary.


9. Garibaldy - June 10, 2008

I’ve never really understood it recently, but they’ve been raising the profile on it a bit recently. I think it featured fairly prominently on the British website last time I checked. Perhaps something to do with the broad front work, but I’m not sure. As likely as not, seen as another way to get people in. Perhaps SS (but not RUC) has a view on this he might share if he happens by this way.


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