The Left Archive: Resistance – Magazine of the University Republican Clubs c.1972 June 30, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Sinn Féin, Workers' Party.
Resistance was a magazine (originally entitled Republican News) produced by the Republican Clubs in Trinity College Dublin during the early 1970s. The RCs had been founded in the late 1960s but had been ‘defunct for some time due to the imprisonment of Conor Lynch and Pat O’Sullivan’. Revived it immediately ‘voted in favour of affiliation to Sinn Féin Gardiner Place’. The E.E.C. provided a ready made issue to organise around – although the magazine notes that the efforts of the Republican Clubs to assist in the development of a ‘broad based Socialist Alliance of left wing groups such as the Markievich Society, the Labour Party and the Maoists on such common issues as the EEC… petered out…[as] these groups seemed to be more interested in talking for the most part about their own policies and refusing to give any ground on them’.
As ever with such groups the magazine notes the ‘first sale of the United Irishman amounted to 25 dozen copies within the College…’.
The tone is intriguing. For example one reads that the ‘Club will continue its policy of challenging political hacks on open platforms in the University, and will intensify its efforts to show up the bankruptcy of Free State capitalism’. Didn’t hear much of that language in later years.
Note the coverage of both the (Official) Sinn Féin Ard Fhéis and the Communist Party Congress. This period, particularly in the run-up the the EEC vote saw considerable cooperation between OSF, the CPI and the left in the Labour Party through the Liaison of the Left.
The E.E.C. is characterised in an article as an instrument of U.S. policy developed in order to be a ‘defensive ring set up to protect capitalist interests in Western Europe…’ although it acknowledges in passing that ‘though political idealism may have motivated some of the individuals involved, and undoubtedly inspired many of the ordinary people, it is the nature of the underlying forces which determine the nature of the Community’.
Another article of note is the piece penned by a ‘worker’ with the title ‘How could students participate in working class activities’ which probably has even more relevance today than when it was written. Whether the not entirely idyllic relationship the ‘worker’ describes when s/he recalls ‘fraternisation’ between students and workers in the dim and distant past was ever accurate, the article certainly articulates various perceptions.
It also references the Internationalist-Maoist’s in rather uncomplimentary terms… which in fairness to the latter indicates that their reputation succeeded them ‘the revolutionary Maoists adopted a ‘bull in a china shop strategy’: superficially it may appear a correct even courageous action on the part of the student-revolutionary who takes up a job in a factory…hoping to raise the political consciousness of the workers…from the worker’s point of view the situation may not be so clear-cut. He knows there is vast unemployment in the country: he will most likely have a relative or friend searching for a job, yet here is a member of the privileged classes denouncing on the one hand the rotteness of the political system we live under and on the other hand helping to exacerbate the problems created by that system by taking up a job he doesn’t need and thus depriving the worker’s relations and friends’.
The old OSF/WP pragmatism (and antagonism) evident there then.
And another trait of that group is the complete absence of any reference to their rivals for the Republican title, for not one direct mention of the Provisionals can be found throughout. Instead in an article on Civil Rights it is noted that:
“Pure” national struggle goes to the other extreme from “pure” social struggle [an interesting reference to preceding thoughts on the Derry Labour Party]. It sees anti-imperialism in oversimplified military terms. The British are to be got out of Ireland by force of arms and whoever assists them must be dealt with as a collaborator. Therefore the Protestant working class is delivered a simple ultimatum rather than opened up through democratic channels for mass agitation to develop its objective interest against imperialism.
And there is also indirectly a reference from the CPI Congress where it is noted that a resolution ‘condemned ‘bling cats of violence by ‘elitist’ anti-Unionist groups [and] pointed out that ‘the state terror inaugurated by the British Army cannot be defeated by such acts of counter violence directed at civilians in their places of work, their centres of social gatherings and other public places. Such acts only help to grieviously divide the working people.’.
For those cynical about political activities rooted in third level institutions the magazine when detailing the history of the Republican Club in TCD notes that ‘[during 1970 and 1971] the people who had started the Club had by now graduated…’
A perennial problem…