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Irish Left Open History Project: The Internationalists/Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist), Part One: 1965-1970 May 18, 2010

Posted by leftopenhistoryteam in Communist Party of Ireland (M-L), Irish Left Open History Project.
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cpi-m-l.jpg[Mike Hehir, leading national spokesman of the CPI M-L, 1970]

[Necessity for Change (1967) is available as a pdf here.]

[Red Patriot, issue one, August 1969, pdf file is available here.]

[Red Patriot, marking the launch of the CPI (M-L), July 1970, pdf here.].

[There’s also a stock of CPI (M-L) related materials here in the Left Archive]

When The Internationalists were first set up in Trinity College Dublin in November 1965, it was not as a fully-formed Marxist-Leninist party, but ‘as an exercise in better staff-student relations.'(1) Prominent among the initial group was Hardial Bains, a lecturer in bacteriology who was originally from India, but who had left for Canada in 1959 and had completed his post-graduate studies in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia. Bains was a former member of the Communist Party of India, having resigned in protest at the party’s endorsement of Khrushchev’s criticisms of Stalin. In March 1963 he founded a political group in Vancouver which was called The Internationalists (later the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), and while the November 1965 TCD group may not have been exactly an Irish version at this stage, the choice of name suggests Bains’ strong input from the start.

Also among those involved at the early stages of the group were two African students, David Akerele and Koye Majekodunmi, and staff members Kader Asmal (who was then head of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement), Professor David Webb (Professor of Botany), Dr. Owen Sheehy Skeffington and Dr. R. B. McDowell. Given such participants it is highly unlikely that The Irish Internationalists were at this stage in any way Marxist, or even socialist.

This loose discussion group held meetings with titles such as “Academic Freedom” and “The Function of a University”, and continued until October 1966, when the decision was taken, presumably by Bains and his supporters, to establish a more disciplined organisation which would focus on ‘which theory we are going to follow, which motivation we should have, which class we are going to favour’ (2).

It was at this stage that people like Asmal, Webb, Skeffington and McDowell began to drift away, leaving Bains as the undoubted central influence.

Sometime towards the end of 1966 the group renamed itself the Trinity Internationalists, and began to issue a periodical entitled Words and Comment. There were at least eleven issues produced between 1966 and 1968, and Trinity’s library has at least seven of them for those privileged enough to have access. (3)

In February-March 1967 the Internationalists organised a study programme entitled Necessity for Change, during which Hardial Bains made a speech which became the basis of the Necessity for Change! The Dialectic LIves! pamphlet.

Necessity for Change

‘People do not stop to think that museums, like history itself, are the creation of the ruling class.’

The main thrust of Necessity for Change appears to be towards students and academics, in that its criticisms are of intellectual production, and the intellectual industry, in the Western world. The control of ideas, of history, of ‘common sense’ by the ruling class needs to be challenged, first by a cadre who have un-taught themselves the prevailing ideas and have begun to see the world based on reality rather than the dominant, right-wing, intellectual discourse; then by the working class who will benefit from the intellectual and individual gains made by the cadre once these new ideas, and this new way of thinking, make their way into the working class through the actions of the cadre itself.

We will look at Necessity in more detail another day, but for now here are some key terms / concepts.

Anti-consciousness – the forced acceptance of a set of values and beliefs which are, in fact, not acquired by the act of finding out but by the act of consciously suppressing any findings which might contravene and contradict the so-called ‘ways of the civilised world’ (p.27). Almost all of us live and think within the realm of anti-consciousness. The job of the Internationalists is to expose this false reality – first to themselves, then to others – and to engage in ‘understanding’ which requires ‘an act of conscious participation by the individual, an act of finding out.’ In other words, we have to break down this false reality which has not only subsumed society’s thoughts but our own as well, and then begin the long, hard struggle of ‘finding out’ by observing the world as it is, not as the ruling class portray it.

Historical crib – “The particular prejudices of a society, transmitted through parents and social institutions, constitute the historical crib into which we are born. Like the womb of the mother, it provides us with everything we need. Our purpose and our goal are defined, that is, how to receive nourishment and how to be grateful for it. The historical crib gives us a perspective with which to look at the world and the people in it, including ourselves. We only see those things, which can be correlated with that perspective. This perspective is the active blindfold of anti-consciousness. Whenever we see through the blindfold we destroy that consciousness by using all kinds of cultural and historical crib-arguments. In other words, we destroy our understanding by camouflaging our experience. The covering up of experience precludes development. Thus we can never grow up and confront the ‘various classes of people who have usurped power by force’ as long as we are unconscious of that historical crib”(pp. 30-31). This historical crib, though, does not serve the needs of the individual, only the ruling class. Nonetheless, its pervasiveness is such that it envelops each individual in a ‘cocoon of loyalty’ from which it is extremely difficult to break. ‘One’s birth requires the destruction of that cocoon, but the self denies itself the will to so so’ (p.33).

Bains warns against people using The Internationalists as a new form of historical crib, ‘a new perspective through which they can rationalise their position in almost all circumstance’ (p.31). Internationalists, true Internationalists, have to be on their guard constantly to avoid this happening.

‘Various classes of people who has usurped power by force.’ – The ruling classes.

History-as-such – history as taught in schools and universities – essentially the history of the ruling class, from the perspective of the ruling class. The common,accepted conclusions of history. ‘It is always about kings and queens, rajahs and maharajahs, sheiks and inmans, warlords and landlords, and their hand-picked agents… People are compelled to learn that history by heart.’ (p.28) Crucially, this history teaches that ordinary people have no role to play in history, that they are powerless to make their own history.

Will-to-be – Despite the best attempts by the ruling class to propagate a hermetically-sealed compliant consciousness, there is a contradiction, a conflict, between the individual and society. There is something inside all of us which is ‘straining to be free in order to see the light… It is a reflection of class struggle going on in our society. This will-to-be is the spontaneous reflection amongst human beings of what they are struggling against in society.’ (p.33)

progressive-books.jpg

In April 1967 the group were given temporary use of a cellar in Trinity by the college authorities for the purpose of producing a newspaper for circulation. Four months later, in August, the Internationalists held a conference in London where they discussed their ideas with other elements of the British and Irish left. It lasted for two weeks, and among the groups invited were the Irish Communist Organisation (later the British and Irish Communist Organisation) who were also anti-revisionists. Talks of a merger between the two groups came to nothing, and in fact a serious animosity developed, one which played itself out on the pages of the two groups’ respective publications for the next ten years.

Towards the end of 1967, after the London conference, the Trinity Internationalists start to become more vocal and agitational. Around this time (1967/68) they produced a manifesto which called for reform of the internal structures of Trinity College. According to a highly-partisan article in the Irish Times (14 Jun 1968) entitled ‘A Cranky Set of Outsiders’, Michael Heney said that the Internationalists

… accuse it [TCD] of being a bourgeois-aristocratic educational institution, connected with British colonialism, geared to the reactionary training of students, and giving active support for the ruling and wealthy classes by the inculcation of bourgeois ideas and culture on the students.”

The influence of Necessity for Change! is clear – ‘reactionary training’, ‘inculcation of bourgeois ideas and culture’, ‘active support for the ruling and wealthy classes’ – all central ideas from the discussion group and pamphlet.

014-520-x-372.jpg

Heney goes on:

The group produces an enormous quantity of literature throughout the three academic terms of the year. Words and Comment is their main organ, a weekly publication, but there is also the more occasional Irish Student, and numerous other works, including pamphlets hurriedly produced on the occasion of some issue arising, and volumes containing extensive re-prints from the writings of Chairman Mao, and other Communist leaders.

The previous day (13 June) he wrote that the Internationalists numbered about 30, the majority of whom were foreign students, although at least six were Irish. These included John Dowling from Dublin, Arthur Allen from Drogheda, and Simon Stewart from Belfast.

In 1968 the leader of the Trinity Internationalists was Nick Miller, a final-year natural science student from England. In August of that year he was suspended from the college for failing to sign an undertaking to obey the rules of the college. Miller never returned to complete his studies, but according to Dublin University Climbing Club by 1971 he had left radical politics behind and was working for his father’s company.

According to Nusight, The Internationalists at this time ‘lived communally, shared all their earnings, rose at a certain time for pre-breakfast study sessions, and often worked an 18 hour day bill-posting around the city or stapling magazines.’ (4) It also said that

In the summer of 1968 they burst upon the public consciousness when they protested against the visit to Trinity of King Baudoin of Belgium. There were some minor scuffles with the gardai and right-wing students which attracted scare newspaper headlines and silly editorial condemnation of students in general by the Sunday Independent and the Evening Herald. In 1968 they opened up a bookshop in Townsend Street in Dublin. This attracted a small number of young people of working class background, most of whom were in school. They formed the People’s Rights Group and published an agitational broadsheet of the same name… The bookshop closed late last year (1969) when the lease ran out. Since then the Maoists have opened another bookshop in Exchequer Street. The People’s rights Committee, along with the Maoist students, provided the basis for the setting up last October (1969) of the Irish Communist movement (Marxist-Leninist), the major Maoist grouping at present.

internationalists.jpg

Attempts were made to set up bookshops in Cork and Limerick. The bookshop in Cork was attacked by a crowd one evening, while the bookshop in Limerick was the centre of a scare campaign by Steve Coughlan, the Labour Party’s Lord Mayor of the city. Both events warrant separate posts.

In August 1969 the Internationalists, under the name, Irish Revolutionary Youth, launched a monthly newspaper entitled Red Patriot.

In July 1970, The Internationalists merged with Irish Revolutionary Youth, and formed the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist).

1. Irish Times, ‘Who Are The Internationalists?’, 13 June 1968
2. Hardial Bains, On the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of The Internationalists in Ireland (Dublin, 1990, pp.15-16)
3. Trinity Internationalists, Words, Berkeley Stacks – PER 75-457. Publication Date, Nos.4-11(1966-1968).
4. Nusight, ‘The Maoists’, May 1970.

Comments»

1. sonofstan - May 18, 2010

Dr. Owen Sheehy-Skeffington.

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2. Mark P - May 18, 2010

Those are some fantastic posters they have up behind them.

“The United Front, Armed Struggle and Party Building are the three magic weapons of the Chinese Communist Party. Its three principle magic weapons for defeating the enemy in the…”

“Build the Party! Prepare for People’s War!”

It would be easy to describe them as a bunch of fucking nutcases and leave it at that. So I will.

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LeftAtTheCross - May 18, 2010

It would be easy to say the pot called the kettle black as well. Don’t you ever display tolerance for anybody who doesn’t align 100% politically with you?

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

I don’t display much tolerance for student Maoists who were arguing for “People’s War” in Ireland, no.

Did you actually try reading their publications before leaping to their defence? They read like the ramblings of a mentally ill man translated into Chinese and back by babelfish.

Here’s a sample paragraph-length sentence. The sudden shift from lower case script to capital letters is in the original:

“Such sympathy has been gained among working people that the Gardai rarely now dare to arrest sellers of the works of Mao Tsetung and the “Red Patriot, the ICM(ML)’s newspaper of the people, there is no doubt that the Irish proletariat’s greatest allies in revolution are the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie, and there is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT IN OUR MINDS THAT OUR THINKING MUST BE GUIDED BY MARXISM-LENINISM-MAO TSETUNG THOUGHT, THAT OUR CENTRE AND LEADERSHIP IS THE BELOVED CHAIRMAN MAO, AND ABOVE ALL THERE IS NO DOUBT IN ANYONE’S MIND (INCLUDING THE BOURGEOISIE) THAT THE IRISH PEOPLE ARE RISING NOW TO SEAL THE FATE OF IMPERIALISM AND ITS RUNNING DOGS HERE.”

If you can’t call these people fucking nuts, who can you call fucking nuts?

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LeftAtTheCross - May 18, 2010

It was of its time. It seems dated now. Leave it at that. Calling people “fucking nutcases” is just trollish behaviour.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

I’m actually sort of fond of their writing style. The switches between lower case and upper act as a sort of indication that the content is about to get madder, the print equivalent of a letter suddenly switching to green ink, or a speaker suddenly standing on his chair mid sentence and starting to roar.

“The experience of the Bolshevik Party, and of the Communist Party of China, particularly of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and also the experience of our own movement shows that there are three fundamental building blocks for building the party. 1st and most important, UNQUESTIONING FAITH IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WILL AND CAPACITY OF THE PEOPLE. 2nd COMPLETE FAITH IN MARXISM LENINISM MAO TSETUNG THOUGHT. 3rd AND ABSOLUTE LOYALTY TO THE PARTY OR PARTY ORGANISATION!”

Another nice touch is their fondness for lists of capitalised slogans.

“LONG LIVE THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF IRELAND (MARXIST LENINIST)!

BUILD OUR PARTY THE CHINESE WAY!

LONG LIVE THE VICTORY OF THE WORKING AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE IN IRELAND AND THE WHOLE WORLD!

STRENGTHEN THE PARTY! PREPARE PEOPLE’S WAR!

LONG LIVE THE GREAT GLORIOUS AND CORRECT COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA!

LONG LIVE OUR GREAT LEADER CHAIRMAN MAO!

LONG LIVE HIS CLOSE COMRADE IN ARMS LIN PIAO!

A LONG LIFE TO CHAIRMAN MAO!”

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

I also don’t really accept that this was just “of its time”. In fact I think that they were widely regarded as fucking nuts by wider society and indeed by the socialist left of the time. This stuff isn’t from 1970 as much as its from a different planet.

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sonofstan - May 18, 2010

This stuff isn’t from 1970 as much as its from a different planet.

Unlike some SP economic documents I’ve read. Which really are from 1970.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

Somehow I’m not surprised that socialism seems dreadfully 1970s to you from your perch inside the suitably modern and up to date neo-liberal Labour Party.

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3. Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

I really don’t know why I bother posting these histories on cedarlounge. All you get is this type of stuff.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

What type of stuff would you like to see Conor?

A considered engagement with the idea of protracted people’s war in Ireland? Perhaps an updating of some of the slogans?

Seriously, the histories you have put up here have mostly been of considerable interest. I reserve the right though to take the piss out of Trinity students who wanted to launch a people’s war in Ireland, building base areas in the… erm… jungles and forests and surrounding the cities from the countryside. That sort of thing would be funny today and just because the documents are from forty years ago they don’t cease to be funny when republished.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Oh f**k off Mark. Take as much piss as you want. you’re welcome to it.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

I’m genuinely baffled as to why you are so offended Conor. I’m not taking the piss out of you, nor out of your article (which was very informative).

The socialist left can be fairly ridiculous and if you don’t keep a sense of humour about it you’d end up crying. It has extreme manifestations like Trinity students advocating protracted people’s war in Carlow and less extreme manifestations like three dozen people trying to charge past the Gardai into an empty car part outside the Dail.

Yesterday I was reading a book put out by my own party a few years back, a basic introduction to socialism sort of thing. It was pretty good, until I got to a half page picture of a Liverpool council house on a somewhat windswept looking street. The caption? “A glimpse of what’s possible under socialism.” That sort of thing is either funny or depressing.

And, despite the flippant tone, I was actually serious when I asked what kind of discussion you would like?

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Of the posts in this series that I’ve written – myself and WBS share the writing between us – this one has been the toughest, purely because there is virtually nothing written about the CPI M-L that isn’t sectarian bilge. It meant I was falling back on primary source material to a greater extent that would be normal. So, having spent weeks in the national library going through Red Patriot, picking up pieces of information, and going through the other publications including the Irish Times, and having finally tracked down a copy of Necessity for Change!, I put it all together and what happens?

Sarcasm. That’s the fucking payoff.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Mark, you know I like you but for fuck’s sake, does everything have to be sarcasm?

The debate I would like to have would be to take a look at what Hardial Bains was saying, and to take it serious – I’m not saying to agree with it – but to say, well how does this fit into Marxist thought, and overall what do the Internationalists and the CPI M-L tell us about Ireland in the 1960s?

Further down the line we’ll be posting stuff up from Jim Lane and the Cork Communist Organisation, a small group that also saw itself as Maoist in thought – a group that saw the CPI M-L in pretty much the same way as you do now. Myself and WBS have already put a lot of work into a history of that group. Is that next on the sarcasm list?

The idea for me is to explore ALL strands of the Irish left – and to take each strand serious. to dismiss as you do is, well, meaningless. Where’s the insight? Where’s the engagement with the material?

So, I suppose that’s what I would like to see – an engagement with the material itself.

Earlier today I was saying to WBS in an email that, once you strip away all the clumsy language, Bains is actually saying stuff about academic intellectual production that’s not a million miles from Chomsky – which for me says a lot about the 1960s and the fluidity of ideas at the time.

I think that’s a lot more interesting to explore than comments going “whaaaaaaaa, they’re nuts!”

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Sorry, I should say, to treat the material serious, not to take it serious.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

Alright, I can see why that would be irritating.

I would emphasise though, that I was taking the piss out of the Internationalists rather than out of your article. I mean, if you’d done a huge amount of primary research on the Skoptsy Christian castration sect in Imperial Russia, you’d have to expect a few jokes about them if your piece was put on a blog. The Internationalists didn’t actually saw their own balls off, but People’s War in Carlow isn’t far from that in terms of people adhering to an ideology but radically getting the wrong end of the stick.

And well, whether I’d be sarcastic about the CCO really depends on what they had to say, although thinking that the Internationalists were nuts is a point in their favour. I’m not in any way predisposed to be sympathetic to Maoism, but I’m also not predisposed to see it as inherently ridiculous. Chinese, Nepalese, Indian, Phillipino or Peruvian Maoism deserve serious consideration and critiques, and I’d certainly be willing to assume that much smaller Maoist movements elsewhere which I’m ignorant of may have had interesting things to say.

But I also know that a lot of Maoists, and in particular a lot of Maoist groups in the West, tend to be really obviously fucking crazy. These include the American RCP with their proudly proclaimed intent to build a cult of personality around their Chairman, Bob Avakian, and the constellation of Bains groups around Europe and North America which were widely regarded as bizarre even by other Maoists. I think it’s partially an out of context thing – Maoism just doesn’t in my experience have much to say about revolutionary movements in the West. Are there any ideas in the paper that you think are worth engaging with?

And finally, is Part two going to include their Hoxhaist turn?

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

“And finally, is Part two going to include their Hoxhaist turn?”

Yes. It’ll be from 1970 to 1977, including the election campaigns in Monaghan, Cork and Dublin – as well as Vipond’s quite successful run as TCD SU president – ending with the rejection of China and the embrace of Albanian Marxism.

The reason why this history is in so many parts is because very little has been written about them, so as we’re writing it we’re loathe to leave details out as in many cases this is the first time that the details have been covered in, well, detail.

Mark, I know you weren’t taking the piss out of the article. That’s not the point for me. The whole thing is taking the piss out of the actual group, as what does it achieve as far as insight and exploration go?

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

“if you’d done a huge amount of primary research on the Skoptsy Christian castration sect in Imperial Russia, you’d have to expect a few jokes about them if your piece was put on a blog.”

Yeah, but the sarcastic comments wouldn’t actually tell me anything about the group, would they? They wouldn’t add to our knowledge of the sects in any way.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Mark, regarding this:

“whether I’d be sarcastic about the CCO really depends on what they had to say..”

I interviewed Jim Lane last year. We talked for about five hours, covering all aspects of his life as an activist. I told him about this series and asked him would it be ok if I used a clip of him talking about why he was drawn to Maoism in the 1960s. He said yes, I could (tentatively), but me bollicks am I putting up a clip of the interview so it can be laughed at by you. Because you will laugh at it. you’ll be sarcastic, and you’ll say how ridiculous it sounds. That’s what you do.

This is what I mean. In this type of environment, why should I expose Jim Lane to that? Put up him talking so you can laugh at him? Think we might pass on that one.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

Conor:

1) I very much doubt if Jim Lane is likely to be advocating People’s War in Carlow in your video or shouting at the top of his voice that there is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT IN HIS MIND THAT OUR THINKING MUST BE GUIDED BY MARXISM-LENINISM-MAO TSETUNG THOUGHT AND THAT OUR CENTRE AND LEADERSHIP IS THE BELOVED CHAIRMAN MAO!

As I said to you in an earlier comment, I don’t think that Maoism, still less a youthful Maoism now superceded, is automatically deserving of ridicule. I think that Maoism is wrong but many forms of it deserve serious engagement and critique.

And by the way, you will note that I haven’t posted taking the piss out of any of the socialist movement veterans you’ve been interviewing. I’m not really interested in personalising my agreement or disagreements with any of them.

2) On the Internationalists it might be worth looking closely at what they had to say about foreign affairs during the 1970s.

This was a period when China began to align itself internationally with the United States against the Soviet Union. And it supported anti-Soviet forces pretty much anywhere in the world, no matter who they were or what they were doing. So China backed Pinochet in 1973 and UNITA in Angola against the MPLA. Not to mention supporting the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, chiefly because they were bitter enemies of the pro-Soviet Vietnamese. They justified this on the basis of Mao’s theory of the three worlds, gradually placing more and more emphasis on “social imperialism” (the USSR) as the main enemy.

This caused chaos in Maoist/Anti-Revisionist circles worldwide for obvious reasons, and it was one of the main issues in the 1978 Sino-Albanian split. I’d be curious as to how much the Internationalists went along with the Chinese line on Pinochet etc before the split. Obviously they rejected the Chinese approach afterwards, but in the mid 70s were they pro-UNITA, pro-Khmer Rouge or pro-Pinochet?

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Well when we scan the issues from the 1970s and put them up the opportunity will be there to read up on the CPI M-L’s approach to foreign affairs. The next post will cover as much as we can, but myself I’m intrigued by the pro-EEC stance and Scratch Orchestra background, as well as the political and musical theory writings of Cardew and how they intertwined with the CPI M-L.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

On what basis were they pro-EEC? As a break the dependence on Britain sort of thing?

I’d forgotten that Cardew was in the British Bainsites. For a while I thought that Alexei Sayle was too, but it turns out he was in a different Maoist group.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

oh, I couldn’t reveal that just yet… you’ll just have to wait for part II. and it has nothing to do with Ireland’s relationship with Britain.

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EamonnCork - May 18, 2010

I’d be very interested in the Cardew stuff myself, he set a few Irish traditional songs when he made his turn away from the avant-garde and towards musical maoism. I actually bought a ticket there a couple of weeks back to see John Tilbury playing a piece of Cardew’s at this year’s Proms. Tilbury wrote a 1000 word biography of Cardew. It’s a daunting task to think of reading it but I suspect there’d be tons of fascinating stuff in it. What makes something like the Maoist turn so interesting is the amount of intelligent people who got caught up in it, as compared to something for example like the NF or the BNP which seems to attract pretty much wall to wall morons. This is a great series Conor. I remember seeing that terrific BBC 4 series Lefties which I wish was out on DVD. Pity RTE wouldn’t do something similar, someone could sell them on the Charlie Bird/Kevin Myers angle. Instead I presume it will be a few dozen more documentaries on the Easter Rising. I’d be very interested in reading a good post on the Stevie Coughlan versus the Maoists thing, it’s one of those great legends which nobody really knows the details of. Stevie and Ivan Yates, what a lot the bookmaking profession have given to Irish politics.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Nusight has a great article on it, Coughlan v Maoists in Limerick, April 1970 issue.

http://tinyurl.com/2u39su2

and Brian Hanley’s article for the Limerick Historical Journal, which touches on the controversy, is available here:

http://www.limerick.ie/media/1970%20springboks%20tour.pdf

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sonofstan - May 18, 2010

Likewise very interested in reading the Cardew stuff.

There are a lot of people still active in music and in the art world generally – AMM, Keith Rowe, Art and Language – who emerged from that milieu. In France too, the UCF (M-L) was the home for a long time of philosopher Alain Badiou, who will still, when he’s in the mood to annoy liberals, describe himself as a Maoist. And L’Organisation Politique, of which he is the most prominent member, remain unapologetically of that lineage, though with a more interestingly activist mode of being.

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EamonnCork - May 18, 2010

There was a very good review of the Tilbury biography by Richard Gott in the London Review of Books last year which mentions Bains and the ideological oscillations of the CPE ML. I think it’s on the web.

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John Green - May 19, 2010

As WBS will no doubt be aware, it was under the tutelage of Terry Atkinson of Art & Language at Leeds that the Three Johns were formed. 🙂

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EamonnCork - May 19, 2010

Conor those Limerick pieces are brilliant. Thanks a lot for posting them. I’ll give a proper response later, up to my neck with stuff at the moment.

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4. Budapestkick - May 18, 2010

No, please keep at it. I do find this kind of thing very interesting. Actually know one of these guys, though he has mellowed a lot since this stuff was produced.

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5. Hardial Bains (I ain't dead, I'm just having a break) - May 18, 2010

Excuse me Mark P. I’d like to throw your own question back at you. Did you actually try reading their publications? You say the ‘student Maoists’ were ‘were arguing for “People’s War” in Ireland’ but nowhere in the passage you quoted do you find such a call. Perhaps you are referring to a different passage, in which case would you care to tell us? You can say what you like about the sentiments expressed but to suggest that it calls for ‘people’s war’ is subjectivism of the highest order.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

The photograph above is of their chairman speaking in front of a huge poster proclaiming “Build the Party! Prepare for People’s War!”. The entire back page of the second issue of “Red Patriot” above is also dominated by the slogan “Build the Party! Prepare People’s War!”

The same issue contains a report of one of their meetings:

“The speeches were puncuated with frequent applause from the masses of people at the rally. Revolutionary slogans such as ‘Long live Chairman Mao, a long life to Chairman Mao’ and ‘Build the Party, Prepare People’s War’ filled the room.”

The idea is mentioned repeatedly elsewhere in the publications too.

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Hardial Bains (still not dead, just having a break) - May 18, 2010

It may say that but it’s not clear from the picture that you refer to, mainly because the view is obscured by the person you refer to as ‘the chairman’. You seem to be very knowledgeable about the inside workings of the organisation you claim to detest so much.

In any case how do you account for the statement (i’m quoting your words here) “the Gardai rarely now dare to arrest sellers of the works of Mao Tsetung and the “Red Patriot, the ICM(ML)’s newspaper”. If there were people in Ireland at the time ‘preparing for people’s war’ then An Garda Siochana had a duty and a responsibility to get involved, not to mention other arms of the state. The same way that the authorities in the Soviet Union stamped down on their own fifth columnist in the 1930s. It would have been remiss of them not too. So how do you account for the failure of na Gardaí on this occasion?

And while I’m on the subject, what’s so wrong about ‘Irish people rising to seal the fate of imperialism and it’s running dogs’? Why do you have a problem with that? Are you some kind of apologist for imperialism? A running dog lackey perhaps?

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Gerry Ryan (still as smug as ever and staring down on you all from above) - May 19, 2010

By the way Mark P, ‘preparing for peoples’ war’ is a different matter entirely from ‘arguing for’ or actually advocating such. I hope you grasp the distinction, or has your narrow subjectivism blinded here too?

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

Again, have you actually read the papers above?

You don’t have to take my word for it. “Build the Party! Prepare for People’s War!” is the single most common slogan they used at least in the publicastions above, and they weren’t slow to use a slogan. I gave you three examples, none of which you seem to dispute. If you want more, you can go digging for them yourself.

As you no doubt know, given your ultra-Stalinist remarks about the Soviet great purges, People’s War has a fairly precise meaning in the Maoist lexicon. It refers to a war initiated by the Maoist force, taking to remote parts of the countryside and seeking to develop a guerilla struggle, taking control of “base areas” and eventually encircling the cities from the countryside.

As for the Gardaí’s failure to investigate the Internationalists, it seems from their publications that despite that one line they generally felt as if the Gardaí were actively harrassing them. I suspect however that the Gardaí did not take them enormously seriously as a potential armed threat to the state. They didn’t, as far as I can tell receive the sort of treatment which various armed Republican groups have been on the receiving end of.

No doubt that’s because the Internationalists weren’t to be taken seriously on the subject of “preparing for People’s War” any more than they were to be taken seriously on any other subject.

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

Don’t know if they’re ultra Stalinist remarks, but given the subsequent history of the Soviet Union and how close for example the Red Army came to collapse after the Nazi’s invaded due to previous ‘purges’ it’s not a very useful remark.

But really, is it necessary for people to stoop so low?

Whether the Internationalists weren’t to be taken seriously is a different matter. There’s certainly something almost performance art about the whole thing, but that doesn’t remove sincerity from those involved. Or the reality that China was a vibrant place politically (or on occasion as mad as a bag full of cats) and an obvious alternative for those unhappy about changes elsewhere.

Personally I think the more intriguing period for the CPI (M-L) is the 70s and 80s but that’s probably because I was around for some of that.

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Gerry Ryan (I now accept that I was wrong on most issues) - May 21, 2010

Dear Mark P,

The subjective nature of your detached, metaphyscial, one-sided outlook has blinded you even to the absurdity of your own position but I didn’t come on this forum to insult you (that would be too easy).

‘Preparing for People’s War’ is a different matter entirely from advocating, or actually instigating such. As a matter of fact, in the period that is under scrutiny here, 1968/69, there was no threat of armed insurgency or insurrection. So from that perspective, The Internationalist’s standpoint could be described as prophetic. What would you say to the Christian who calls upon followers to ‘prepare for the second coming’? Or the farmer who ‘prepares for the rainy season’? Are these people mad and insane? Do they deserve to be incarcerated in a mental asylum in Dundrum?

In any society, capitalist or socialist, the rich prepare their offensive against the poor. Should not the poor similarly prepare? Should we not all prepare against the offensive that NAMA and the ECB has in mind for us all? If you do not like the term “people’s war” fine, find some other term. But don’t leave yourself hapless and unprepared.

As for your argument that ‘people’s war’ has a ‘fairly precise meaning within Maoist lexicon’ I think you are being somewhat facetious here. Where is this ‘Maoist Lexicon’? Was it written by a Maoist? Are you a Maoist or where you ever a Maoist? Again, it’s like asking a Christian what he/she means by ‘prepare for the second coming’. Would you have such a person arraigned and charged with planning the apocalypse?

Finally, to end on this subject, your description of The Internationalists as ‘Maoist’ is tenuous to say the least. Not to say that Maoism is necessarily a derogatory term. However, it is clear, even from the above synopsis of the history of The Internationalists, that they were not Maoist at their inception. It is true that in their subsequent development they based their outlook on ‘Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought’. But is is also a matter of historical record that the organisations that proceeded from The Internationalists rejected Mao Tse Tung Thought on the grounds that it was un-Marxist and anti-Leninist.

So I leave it to detached, one-sided, metaphysical idealists like yourself, Mark P, to determine, to what extent The Internationalists were ‘maoist’ (as you like to refer to them as) and to what extent they were Marxist-Leninists, and to what extent they may have belonged to some other school of thought, as yet unidentified.

When I posed the question ‘Did you actually try reading their publications?’ I meant that quite sincerely. Maybe you just thought you read them.

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6. Ramzi Nohra - May 18, 2010

Reminds me of the Alabama 3

Good stuff Connor.

Mark is completely entitled to his opinion, but it might be worth stating, that the 60s produced a lot of views which would today be written off as lunacy. There were a lot more believers in the rightousness of Stalin then, for example.

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7. Garibaldy - May 18, 2010

Conor and WBS put a lot of work into these things, and deserve a great deal of credit for it. A lot of these groups may or may not have been fucking nuts – and as LATC points out we might all be fucking nuts – but what they were saying and the extent to which they were able to get a foothold is of interest. Like Conor says, it might tells us something about Ireland and the Irish left at the time, as well as something about the ideas that were kicking about the international left more generally. More power to WBS and Conor for doing it.

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Starkadder - May 18, 2010

I agree. After all, even if the Internationalists opinions seem
to me to be either eccentric (“the Three Magic Weapons” line
in the image, which suggests to me someone there had been
reading too many Lin Carter paperbacks 😉 ) or outright offensive
(the pro-Stalin/Mao stuff) we can still learn from discussing
their history and ideas.

The CPI (ML) actually had a group of folk musicians linked with
them at one point, which did tours of Ireland. They also, IIRC,
were strong supporters of the Irish language, conjuring up this
surreal image of the Great Helmsman’s thoughts appearing
” as Gaeilge” .

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

They had an Irish language version of Red Patriot, called “An tírghráthóir dearg.”

My Irish is terrible so I don’t know if the articles are a direct translation of the articles in Red Patriot, or a separately written publication altogether.

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8. EamonnCork - May 18, 2010

Ramzi’s point is well made. I also think Mark is a valuable contributor to the site, and if the SP had a candidate here I’d vote for him, but it’s a cinch to take the piss out of this rhetoric, or similar rhetoric, a few decades down the line. And the way he takes the piss out of the glowing references to the oustanding enthusiasm displayed at the meeting is similar to a number you see SWP members doing on the SP.
The belief in the wondrousness of Mao was not confined to fringe movements like the CPI ML. For one thing, a few years later Fanshen, a play by David Hare, was a big critical and minor commercial success in London. It was based on a book by an American, William Hinton, on the changes wrought in a Chinese village by the Communist party and is almost completely uncritical of these changes, though Hare tries to suggest these days a degree of scepticism which isn’t obvious in the text. (I am a big fan of David Hare by the way).
Secondly anyone who’s ever read Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire surely gets brought up short when in the first few pages he makes approving reference to the educative effect of the Cultural Revolution. Yet the book has become something of a mainstream academic classic. The magnificence of Mao is also a given in some of the Godard films from this time. None of these people were eejits, and I don’t think they acted in bad faith. Context explains a lot.
I notice the poster for Progressive Books and Periodicals. I have a book of my father’s Marx’s The Civil War In France, printed in China, which he bought there.
And it reminds me of that Alabama 3 song. Though perhaps the CPI ML should have heeded the helpful suggestion that if they went carrying pictures of Chairman Mao they weren’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow. (Once more the immense lyrical depth of the profound Lennon contrasts with that of the lightweight McCartney).

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

Eamonn:

The reason why I’m taking the piss out of this is because rhetoric like it really doesn’t exist elsewhere on the Irish left. Every organisation gets things wrong, gets overexcited, sometimes puffs up its own importance. They use boilerplate and harp on about their own particular obsessions. But the Internationalists ranted in the most amazing way, with sudden switches to capitals, declarations of eternal fealty to Mao, exhortations that willpower and faith are all that’s needed and endless capitalised slogans seemingly taken directly from Peking Review.

The archive contains material from a whole bunch of other groups from a similar time period and well, some of it is good and some bad. Some is interesting and some a little embarrassing. But nothing from the RMG, PD, LWR. Militant or SWM in the early 1970s reads anything like the Internationalists stuff. Even the ICO/BICO and CCO stuff we’ve seen here simply isn’t like this, so it isn’t a necessary accompaniment to Maoism. It’s a real peculiarity of the Bains groups (their still just about extant British sister party still writes in much the same way). Some of the articles in the Red Patriot are more like an art prank than anything else.

These are the lads who provoked fond recollections from a number of contributors here about the morning they woke up to find Cork City wallpapered in CPI(ML) posters celebrating Joe Stalin, which again to most people would seem more like a prank than a political intervention.

by the way, the SWP more usually take the piss out of what they perceive as the SP’s dourness and rigidity. The SP generally take the piss out of what they perceive as the SWP’s breathless excitement and headless chicken tendencies. So in my experience at least you’ve got that one culturally the wrong way around. And actually, the joking does tell you something about each organisation, if in much exaggerated form.

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EamonnCork - May 18, 2010

You’re probably right. It will certainly be harder to make a case for taking them seriously when they decide to follow the Enver Hoxha path to socialism. Though I do think that if this rhetoric seems OTT, it’s still along the lines of Maoism in general at the time. I suppose the question is why Maoism was so popular in the late sixties. Perhaps because post-Kruschev and post Prague it offered a way out for people who still needed to take leadership from a powerful actually existing socialist state but couldn’t stomach Russia anymore?
My SWP taking the piss out of the SP referred to a piece in Mark Steel’s, good I thought, book Reasons To Be Cheerful where he mocks SP fund-raising meetings for their loud declarations that this is the best fund-raiser ever and shows the strength of support for the struggle etc.
It’s a good point about the link between Maoism and support for republicanism in certain cases. I suppose if you believe that all political power comes from the barrel of a gun it makes sense to join a struggle where there are plenty of guns around. In England, for example, the actual realities of what a Revolution would entail were probably more easily elided. Whereas, though I know it wasn’t a Socialist Revolution, the war in the North certainly looked like some kind of Revolution to a lot of people at the time. The stakes were much higher. Speaking of the IRSP for example, and though she was a Marxist rather than a Maoist, someone like Miriam Daly would never have met the same terrible end had she been a left-wing English academic.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

Perhaps because post-Kruschev and post Prague it offered a way out for people who still needed to take leadership from a powerful actually existing socialist state but couldn’t stomach Russia anymore?

I think that’s a crucial point.

Stalinism always had the advantage over other far left currents of possessing a certain aura of “realism” due to the existence of the Stalinist regimes.

The gradual social-democratisation of the pro-Moscow parties was one of the factors driving Maoist splits and splinters. Maoism was in some ways a return to a harder, more “revolutionary” version of Stalinism. But despite this shift to the left, because of China (and Albania until the Sino-Albanian split) it managed to hold on to the “realism” advantage as compared to the Trotskyists, Anarchists, Left Communists and the like who had to stand or fall on the merits of their ideas. Better still, China still had a certain novelty and glamour that the grey bureaucrats of the Soviet Union had long since lost.

Another important factor is third worldism. The Maoists seemed to be going places in the third world. China was by far the most important third world country to go “communist”, and the idea that the revolution was inevitably spreading throughout the third world was attractive to Western radicals, particularly students.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

Oh, and those fund raising speeches, which were toe curlingly embarrassing but extremely effective in getting cash in, were dropped by the Socialist Party more than a decade ago!

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9. Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

All I want is for the Irish left to engage with its past. I mean, it’s not like the Irish left is that aware of its past. It’s not so long ago that a comment I made here about the split in the Irish labour movement in 1944 was met with “huh?”

Further down the line we’ll be doing BICO. For me, that means treating “two-nations” serious.

Doesn’t mean accepting it, or making apologies for it, it means engaging with it, exploring why two-nations had the impact it had, etc. Again, what can it tell us about Ireland in the 1970s, and the history of the Irish left?

I think it’s a lot more interesting to read and discuss things in that way, as an exploration of the history of the Irish left, no?

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10. Mark P - May 18, 2010

In the spirit of actually contributing something other than mockery, it might be worth fitting the Internationalists and Irish Maoism generally into a wider pattern.

In 1969 or 1970 in quite a number of Western countries, Maoism or closely related “Anti-Revisionist” strands was the dominant force on the far left (by which I mean left of the Moscow line CPs). In the late 1960s and the early 1970s these groups in the US and France particularly enjoyed explosive growth and clearly dominated that left of the left niche, leaving little room for Trotskyists or Anarchists. Then, by the end of the 1970s these Maoist groups started to collapse, until by the 1990s Maoism was a tiny force in both the US and France, with Trotskyism of various stripes taking its place.

Britain was slightly different in that Trotskyist groups were always larger and more visible and that limited the scope for Maoism to attract those fed up with or uninterested in the conservatism of the CP. But nonetheless, Maoism/Anti-Revisionism there did follow much the same pattern of growth and collapse in much the same time period.

Ireland, in retrospect, looked like it’s far left might have gone in a similar direction. The ICO and the Internationalists certainly weren’t noticeably smaller than the Trotskyists, still less the Anarchists, in 1969. They were apparently in a good position to grow. But instead of growing dramatically like their equivalents in much of the West, they stalled. I suspect that this is down to two things:

1) The deep peculiarities of the two main groups. The Internationalists really did write as if they were directly translating Chinese idioms, while the ICO headed off in a direction of entertaining but incoherent contrarianism. There wasn’t really a “normal” Maoist group to start with. The French Maoists had some odd ideas as did the US or British or Norwegian or Dutch, but they were recognisably more similar to each other than they were to the Internationalists or the BICO.

2) The lure of Republicanism. The obvious orientation for someone taking Maoist dogma seriously in that time period was towards one or more strands of the Republican movement. The Republican movement was a more obvious place for the people who might have ended up in Maoist groups in France or the US to end up, and indeed if I remember correctly that’s where the CCO ended up.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

“and indeed if I remember correctly that’s where the CCO ended up.”

Or came from…

Also, a few of the Irish Internationalists / CPI M-L ended up in BICO.

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11. Frankly Mr. Shankly - May 18, 2010

Quite a number of people influenced by Maoism ended up in the Official republican movement.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

and wouldn’t it be interesting to explore why that happened? Instead of just laughing at it?

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

I’m not sure that there’s any great mystery why Mao-ish sorts would have been attracted to the Officials in the early part of the Troubles.

Guns, Nationalism and Socialism were central focuses of Maoist theory and Official practice. Plus the Officials were a much more serious organisation than any Irish Maoist group. Just as PD/RMG/SD continuously lost members to the Provisionals at a later stage for much the same reason – why be a member of a small group cheering a larger one one when you can be a member of the larger one waging what both groups saw as the real struggle.

Later on the IRSP/INLA would have replaced the Officials as the obvious home of the Mao-ish.

Republicanism is a strong tradition in Ireland and it has exercised a strong pull on people in smaller radical traditions, including CP members, Maoists and some Trotskyist groups.

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12. Ramzi Nohra - May 18, 2010

Would the IRSP/INLA have defined themselves as Maoist as one stage? I have read people describing them as such, but couldnt remember if it was meant perjoratively or not.

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Ramzi Nohra - May 18, 2010

thanks Mark P. Didnt see your stuff when I posed the question.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

I’m not sure if they ever formally declared themselves Maoist. I’d be surprised but it’s not impossible. I get the distinct impression that the particular variant of socialism the IRSP espoused tended to vary from paper to paper.

They certainly did have some members who were influenced by Maoism. Indeed they probably still do, along with people influenced by Trotskyism, Stalinism and bizarrely Council Communism. They’ve been accused of being Trotskyists and Maoists and probably all kinds of other things, but I think that they are just fundamentally too incoherent for such labels.

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13. WorldbyStorm - May 18, 2010

I’d be somewhat critical of CPI(M-L) although I do genuinely respect the form of rigour that seems to have threaded through their thinking. But I think that in the late 60s there was nothing terribly odd about looking to China as a potential model particularly given the ruptures in the USSR post-Stalin and of course the Czechoslovakian issue. It’s not what I’d have done – I think. But there was nothing ignoble or even illogical in doing so. Indeed oddly my own nascent socialism was fully sparked when I was about eight or so by a programme I saw on TV about collective farms in China where the concept of pooling of equipment etc was described and it just seemed completely sensible…

And I’m no Maoist.

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14. Frankly Mr. Shankly - May 18, 2010

The most prominent Official republican attracted to Maoism stayed with them when the IRSP split happened. The IRSP were called many things when they got going, but they themselves were adamant that they were not Trots, or Stalinists, or Maoists, but simply republican socialists.

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15. Ringo Starr - May 18, 2010

Well done on a fine piece of research, and on posting several interesting publications. I did a quick check to see if the two week long ‘joint conference of [lower case] english and irish patriots and communist revolutionaries’ advertised in the Red Patriot and held in Galway in August 1970 made any impression in the local press. It didn’t. The only use of the word ‘revolutionary’ in the Connacht Sentinel during the month was in reference to the new Citreon CS. The Internationalists did make a mark in Galway, however, specifically on the courthouse, where a piece of scrubbed out graffiti – the single word ‘LACKEYS’ if I remember right – was faintly legible until the early 1990s. The Internationalists certainly had a presence in UCG, before morphing into the Republican Club (the nursery that would furnish Pat Rabbitte, Eamon Gilmore, Mike Jennings et al with some of their post-adolescent ideals).
The Internationalists material does seem rather strange, as several of the respondents have pointed out. I think this was because they lacked the rootedness of the republicans, CP, trotskyists, whose organisations in the late 1960s had evolved from pre-existing formations. The Internationalists, perhaps, should be viewed in the context of other counter-cultural movements of their time – the followers of Maherashi, and of Wicca – many of them students also, who latched onto exotic sets of belief, and whose writings now also seem quite odd.

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16. sonofstan - May 18, 2010

After a day of reading about Maoism here as a long- buried heresy, I came across this blurb for Slavoj Zizek’s ‘new’* book:

After passing through this zero-point, we can begin to perceive the crisis as a chance for a new beginning. Or, as Mao Zedong put it, “There is great disorder under heaven, the situation is excellent.” Slavoj Zizek shows the cultural and political forms of these stages of ideological avoidance and political protest, from New Age obscurantism to violent religious fundamentalism. Concluding with a compelling argument for the return of a Marxian critique of political economy, Zizek also divines the wellsprings of a potentially communist culture—from literary utopias like Kafka’s community of mice to the collective of freak outcasts in the TV series Heroes.

*Regrettably more likely to be reconstituted from some or all of his previous books.

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

If Zizek was Irish he’d be Eddie Hobbs, I’m convinced of it. He’s such a fucking chancer.

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sonofstan - May 18, 2010

Unlike Eddie, there’s intelligence, and not just cunning and patter, to back it up. To make the classic Indie fan comment ‘I love the early stuff’ – he’s become like Soviet factory production in his method: prodigious in output, but shoddy as fuck in quality.

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17. Starkadder - May 18, 2010

“The collective of freak outcasts in the TV series Heroes. ”

That would the show NBC have just axed after falling ratings
and extraordinarily hostile word-of-mouth then.

RIngo Starr’s comment does remind me of Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers”,
where Louis Garrel’s Parisian youth is obsessed with Mao’s
China, despite the fact his love of rock music and Hollywood movies
would have gotten him “re-educated” had he actually lived there. Maybe
the average Irish Internationalist was a similar type of rebellious youth?

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18. Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

The philosophy of aesthetics and composition has its part to play in all of this. Take this quote from the Scratch Orchestra Draft Constitution, 1968. This pre-dates Cardew’s involvement with the Maoists, but have a look at what it is saying:

5. Research Project.

Conduct of research. Research should be through direct experience rather than academic; neglect no channels. The aim is: by direct contact, imagination, identifications and study to get as close as possible to the object of your research. Avoid the mechanical accumulation of data; be constantly awake to the possibility of new research techniques. The record in the Scratchbook should be a record of your activity rather than an accumulation of data. That mean: the results of your research are in you, not in the book.” (Cornelius Cardew, ‘A Scratch Orchestra: draft constitution’, Musical Times, June 1969, p.619)

Have a read of what Bains says in Necessity for Change!, regarding methodology of research and insight.

This is not a causality relationship – one did not influence the other – but rather they are drawing from the same well, so to speak – whatever that well is in the 60s – and maybe it’s not that surprising that they eventually found each other?

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Donagh - May 18, 2010

That Richard Gott LRB article on John Tilbury’s biog of Cornelius Cardew looks very interesting.
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n05/richard-gott/liberation-music

Cardew became known not just as an outstanding and original composer, and a charismatic performer of difficult music, but also as a fluent writer and critic, able to discuss the crossover from art to music. ‘It was impossible to disentangle the compulsion of the audience to cut, and Yoko Ono’s compulsion to be cut,’ he wrote in the Financial Times in 1966 of the famous performance in which Ono encouraged her audience to attack her clothing with scissors. She was his house guest at the time and had long outstayed her welcome.

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19. sonofstan - May 18, 2010

Somehow I’m not surprised that socialism seems dreadfully 1970s to you from your perch inside the suitably modern and up to date neo-liberal Labour Party.

I don’t have a perch. Perches are for parrots.

You’ve insisted, since a comment in which I explained why, often with many misgivings, I am generally a Labour voter, that I am ‘in’ the party (I’m not, I was last a member in the early ’80s – I joined the day Michael O’Leary left) and somehow, even speak for them. I still maintain a critical distance, and often look at the literature produced by other parties – yours included – to see if someone else seems better equipped to bring this state forward.

And what do I find? Gibberish, largely, ill- argued, reading much like the same kind of depressingly fantastical imaginings of a new dawn ‘just around the corner’ that always alienated me from micro-parties, such as the CPI (M-L), which I’m old enough to remember.

But… I would never actually judge a party completely, or even much, by their theoretical output: most political writing emanating from political parties is terrible. Yesterday, for example, as we were discussing the PUP here, I had a look at their website, and at a piece that was meant to set out the deep ideological core of Loyalism and the PUP’s role as a progressive voice….and it was awful, pseudo-historical whatabouttery of the worst kind. Actually though, I think they’re a better party than that, and Dawn Purvis is one of the few public reps in the North I respect. As are Joe Higgins and Clare Daly in Dublin. But really, there’s no great depth to your analysis, and no credible path from here to your version of the future that I can see. So either you accept that you’re going to be a campaigning party on things like bin and water charges, while people politely ignore your ‘theory’ or you start some real critical self- examination, instead of parroting stuff that was wrong then and is wrong now.

The only exception, in my memory, to the general crapness of political party associated literature in this country was that produced by the Workers’ Party in the 80s -containing actual thought and analysis, and not afraid to develop and change.

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Mark P - May 18, 2010

1) You represent yourself as a semi-tribal Labour supporter here. I’m more than willing to accept that you aren’t a member, but the distinction between a rank and file member and a committed supporter of a party like Labour is fairly thin, given that formal membership doesn’t entail a commitment to do anything.

2) The Socialist Party is fairly clear about it’s goals: A socialist revolution. It’s a small, Marxist, party and in current conditions that means precisely that we are primarily a campaigning party and our goals seem far away. There’s no point in pretending otherwise.

Our “proposals” short of a socialist transformation of society are not based on some judgment of the optimum way to run society under capitalism or some vision of the national interest. We have no ideological commitment to Keynsianism, for example or to the idea of a social democratic Ireland. Instead what we push for is the most we think the working class can get at any particular time. We are in that sense an unashamedly “sectoral” party and don’t for the most part put our demands or proposals in the language of costed policy proposals. We aren’t for instance interested in tellng the government where it can make cuts more “equitably” and arguing that x and y should be cut instead of a and b. Instead we oppose each and every attack on services or workers pay and conditions.

In less defensive times, the demands we make are for whatever the working class can wrest for itself, not for what we think would result in a stabler nicer capitalism. The other type of demands we sometimes raise, “transitional demands” are deliberately pitched to be both reasonable and unachievable without going beyond the bounds of capitalism.

We are not trying to do what social democrats would be trying to do (if social democrats actually existed as an organised force in Ireland, which they don’t really). We aren’t trying to do what the Workers Party was trying to do, or what the Labour Party was trying to do back when it was actually social democratic. We are trying to defend working class interests in the here and now and win people around to the idea of a socialist society, not to win an argument about what it is in the national interest to cut and what to borrow.

I suspect that this difference in expectations is what’s throwing you. We aren’t trying to do what you think we are (or should be) trying to do.

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sonofstan - May 19, 2010

Damn…
Just lost a long reply – short answer; I don’t think you should be doing what you think I think you should be doing either. I’ll do the long answer tomorrow.

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sonofstan - May 19, 2010

Actually, never mind.

I could try and show you that, yes, I do grasp what you guys think a socialist party should do and should represent, and largely even agree with it. But you will still assume that, if despite that, I think the policy documents of yours I’ve read are embarrassingly lightweight and un-thought through, that the fault has to be with me, because how could someone get what you’re doing and not immediately fall into line?

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

Isn’t that a terribly broad definition of Labour supporters? I mean by that token I’d be practically roped in and I find that unlikely.

That said there are problems with that self-analysis Mark P. It begs an awful lot of questions. For example given the fact that socialist revolution is no no closer than say at any given point in my lifetime, and in some respects further away or so it would seem there does seem to be an enormous gulf between what you aspire to and what is actually happening. I can only think that for all the brickbats the LP get for their wishy washy not quite social democracy that they might have a somewhat stronger grasp on how to enthuse and motivate larger numbers of people – not in and of itself necessarily a good thing, but surely a prerequisite in terms of offering the prospect of some movement in the here and now rather than the there and perhaps never.

Or to put it another way, there are as you and I well know communities of people around this state who are facing desperate problems which aren’t just an issue of immediate cuts but also about direction tactics and strategy into the future. If that future is too far away or seemingly unachievable I’m not sure that a message however sincerely put is going to work with them.

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20. Adrian - May 18, 2010

The Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line in the Marxist Internet Archive contains material from the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), the Canadian mothership of Bains’ operation. Most of the materials cover the formation of CPC (ML) and its sister organization, the PCQ (ML), up to the mid 1970s. There are also anti-CPC (ML) materials from other Canadian left groups.

Material from from the CPC (ML)s pro-Albania period will be included later. Also available soon will be the documents of the split between the CPC (ML) and the MLP-USA.

If interested, see http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ca.firstwave/index.htm

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Conor McCabe - May 18, 2010

Cheers Adrian. I didn’t know about the encyclopaedia of anti-revisionism. Thanks for that.

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21. Jim Monaghan - May 19, 2010

“Fanshen:. The author subsequently admitted he lied and gave a rosy picture which ignored the realities.
My memory is that the CPI ML leaked members to the BICO.
Does anyone remembr the awful case of Martin Dolphin whose parents had him committed because of hs maoism. Of course the USSR routinely did the same towards the end.

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Starkadder - May 19, 2010

There’s some info about Martin Dolphin here:

http://ucdhiddenhistory.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/update-april-09/

On the subject of the RCPB-ML, apparently some of its members are associated with the infamous Stalin Society in London.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin_Society

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Dick Grogan - April 15, 2013

Jim – I took up Martin Dolphin’s case at the time, wrote about it extensively in This Week magazine and worked with Margaret Gaj to try to get him out (successful eventually – long story).
Would love to meet you for a chat about it and other matters if and when I can get to Dublin. Maybe you could send me contact details if interested, to dgdgrogan@gmail.com

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22. FergusD - May 19, 2010

I very briefly came acroos the CPE (ML) in the 70s in the UK. They seemed to be mostly students from the Far East and were deeply disliked by the mainstream Maoist CPB (ML).

So E = England, I assume there was a CPS (ML)? and a CPW (ML)? While the B=Britain, meaning GB/UK. So were the “Internationalists” nationalists/separatists while the CPB’s were unionists??!!

The CPE (ML) were, it has to be said, seen to be either crazy, or by some (the CPB (ML)) probably agent provocateurs. (The latter view may not always have been uncommon in those days between far left groups. The “mainstream” far left, Trotskyist or Maoist, would sometimes feel/suggest that some small grouplet loudly proclaiming armed struggle were run by the spooks.)

The CPB (ML) members I could talk to (even though I was a Trot), although it rarely went anywhere terribly productive (students are workers, guerilla struggle/fight where you are, totally ignore “politics”), but I don’t think anyone was tempted to try discussing with the CPE (ML) who seemed to live an entirely separate existence – at least in my experience. They came across as a cult frankly.

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

I always had the feeling that many CPI (M-L) members were having a ball, that on some level they really enjoyed their politics. May be wrong of course, but that was just my impression.

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23. Jim Monaghan - May 19, 2010

The leading British Maoist was a Reg Birch who was a significant Trade Union leader.

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

That’s true, though he was CPB (ML), no?

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

Very much so.

The CPB(ML) evolved into a very odd, secretive and nationalistic bunch, but they weren’t as peculiar as the CPE(ML) (now RPCPB(ML)). Both groups are for all intents and purposes completely invisible in Britain, even in the small world of the far left, but you will occasionally find a copy of their publications in Housmans.

Last I heard, the Bainsite RCPB(ML) were cooperating closely with the New Communist Party, itself a slowly declining group of a few dozen pensioners.

The only groups from the Stalinist side of the Communist movement that you could encounter in Britain without the assistance of a team of forensic investigators are the CPB, which is low key but still has a decent number of activists, and the CPGB(ML) which is very small but has some young people and a bit of vigour to it.

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

I always got the impression the CPB was still reasonably strong, all things considered.

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

It depends what context you put it in. By comparison with mainstream ex-Moscow line Communist Parties almost anywhere else in the world it is the smallest of midgets. By comparison with the more hardline Stalinist outfits in Britain it’s a behemoth.

It claims a paper membership of 900 or 1,000, but membership doesn’t mean much in terms of an activist commitment. Its age profile is pretty unfavourable but it isn’t uniformly made up of pensioners in quite the same way as the likes of the NCP . I estimated that it had about 200 actual activists fairly recently, and one of its members responded by saying that it had 250 to 300. That would make it probably still the third biggest left group in Britain, a long way behind the SWP or SP but a fair way ahead of the small sects.

It retains some notable influence in the peace movement and also in parts of the union movement, although more among the unelected bureaucrats than the union activists. And of course it has a low circulation but recently improved daily newspaper, which is a not inconsiderable asset. (Before someone corrects me, I’m aware that the Morning Star is technically owned by the PPPS rather than the CPB).

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

On the other hand let me reverse my previous statement and say I guess it’s amazing that it’s down to such low figures. 300. Dear God.

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

To be fair to them, they started out from quite a small base when you remember that technically speaking they were a splinter from the CPGB rather than its organisational continuation.

The legal successor organisation has fared much worse. First the CPGB became Democratic Left, a name that was very much current in EuroCommunist circles. Then DL became the New Times Network. Then that became a think tank called the New Politics Network. Then finally it merged into Charter 88 to become Unlocking Democracy, a small body of useless people waffling on about written constitutions.

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

Here’s a question, do you happen to know where one can get (approx) figures for further left parties in the UK? Or better still, where do you get yours? I found an interesting doc on the major and mid range parties from the House of Commons, but… nothing on smaller formations…Yeah, the CPGB New Times crowd had no staying power whatsoever.

Don’t forget, I was a member for two or so years of our own DL… never rated the UK one even at the time. Didn’t seem to organise.

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

There isn’t any reliable source of information on the size of socialist left organisations in Britain. You have to go off experience and indicators like where they have branches, how visible they are, what their members are willing to tell you and the like.

Even if you could get formal numbers from the parties, they indicate very different things. The SWP, for instance, nominally has activist membership criteria but in practice it tends to ignore them. The Scottish Socialist Party and CPB don’t have formal criteria beyond signing a bit of paper and giving them a few quid once a year. The Sparts or Workers Power have a nearly 100% activist membership. It doesn’t really make sense to directly compare the formal memberships of cadre groups with those of sign a bit of paper and bung us a tenner parties.

I can give you broadly reasonable estimates (and the reasoning behind the estimate) for most of them, if there are any you are interested in.

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EamonnCork - May 19, 2010

Mark,
This is off topic but it seems like something you might know. What is the political provenance or what are the political connections of Mark Fisher, Owen Hatherly and Nina Power who all published books with Zero Books last year? In my opinion, they are three of the most exciting and interesting left wing writers I’ve read in years and the publisher is well worth keeping an eye out for. Capitalist Realism, Militant Modernism and One Dimensional Woman are their books respectively. I don’t read enough theory so I found these fascinating and very bright.

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

All of them Mark! All of them…

Nina Power’s name is very very familiar for some reason.

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EamonnCork - May 19, 2010

Seriously, they’re very good books and very well written. You’d enjoy them. And I suspect it’s probably the one set of provenance and connections because they give the impression of being linked. I think Nina Power was in Dublin lately.

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Donagh - May 19, 2010
Mark P - May 19, 2010

Eamonn:

By odd coincidence I just finished reading Hatherley’s Militant Modernism yesterday! I liked it a lot, but then again I’m also aware that he was providing justifications for a lot of my own preferences, so I’m wary of deciding that he’s brilliant because I agree with him.

Hatherley, I gathered from some interview, had Communist Party grandparents, both parents are in the Militant/Socialist Party and is himself unaffiliated. He described himself as critically sympathetic to all of the Socialist Party, SWP and Green Party.

Nina Power has written a lot on the (post?) Maoist Alan Badiou and has recently been doing public meetings on the future of feminism with Lindsey German (former SWP leader, now in the small Counterfire group). I don’t know what her background is beyond that, but it’s hard to pigeonhole her.

Mark Fisher, I know very little about. He has a blog, which reveals no obvious factional affiliations. The second in command of the tiny CPGB/PCC (of Weekly Worker fame) uses the pseudonym Mark Fisher but I’m fairly certain it’s not the same guy.

Hatherley’s blogs are well worth reading. He recently did a sort of guided tour of interesting 20th Century buildings in Moscow and St Petersburg on one of them.

Hatherley’s non-academic blog:
http://nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.com/
His more academically rigorous blog:
http://themeasurestaken.blogspot.com/
Mark Fisher’s blog:
http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/

I dont think that Power has a blog, or at least I can’t find it if she does.

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sonofstan - May 19, 2010

Nina Power on Dublin too, to discuss the idea of a ‘free’ university

I was at that. She described it as ‘fractious’ on IT afterwards which it didn’t seem particularly to be to me, but the discussion wandered a bit, to no real end, and ignored much of what Nina said. The discussion on the idea of the Free University on IT was really interesting and especially relevant in the light of the attempt to close the Phil dept. at Middlesex (complicated story, but again, all the detail on Infinite Thought) – again, something that’s obviously relevant to me, since the shrinkage of the profession is to be resisted, but its a wider issue too, because of the breathtakingly crass managerialism of the university authorities.

Co-sign on the Zero books (haven’t read the Hatherley, but his blog is great) Capitalist Realism in particular is excellent, and anyone who works on a short term contract in education will shudder along with it…

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sonofstan - May 19, 2010

I dont think that Power has a blog, or at least I can’t find it if she does.

http://infinitethought.cinestatic.com/

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

Actually, Nina Power does have a blog, as Donagh points out above:

http://www.cinestatic.com/infinitethought/

Any chance you’d add them all the blogroll WbS?

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

Beaten to it twice!

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

All of them Mark! All of them…

There are well over 50 left groups in Britain, but to give you an idea of some of the more prominent ones:

SWP: Claims over 5,000 members according to one of the leaked internal bulletins the Weekly Worker published recently. Nominally they do have activist criteria for membership, but in practice they don’t really. Still the largest socialist group, but not by nearly as much as the nominal figures suggest. During their recent internal squabble, the losing side were claiming in the same bulletins that the numbers attending their national discussions were somewhere between 600 and 1,000.

Socialist Party: Claims 2,000 or so members publicly, up from 1,500 a few years ago but well down on its 1980s peak. It has the “hardest” activist criteria of the big groups.

CPB: Claims 1,000 members. Membership is on the same sort of basis as mainstream parties. 300 or so activists.

AWL: Claims 100, probably broadly accurately.

Workers Power: 40 or 50. Was just over 30 after their recent split with Permanent Revolution, according to the PR people, but I’m told it’s grown a little.

Permanent Revolution: According to one of their members about 30.

CPGB/PCC (Weekly Worker): Again ex-members say about 30.

Workers Revolutionary Party: Very hard to tell. I saw a lot of estimates of about 50, but they are still publishing a daily newspaper which makes me think that it probably has to be a bit above that.

Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity: Both claim 300 plus, but in activist terms it is markedly less.

To give a non-socialist benchmark, the Green Party claims 7,500 members in England and Wales, again counted using the same criteria as the main parties.

Respect: I don’t know. Low hundreds in activist terms as best I can tell. Again probably has a wide gap between nominal and active membership.

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neilcaff - May 19, 2010

In one of the internal bulletins produced by the SWP in the run up to their last conference they said they had around 2,900 members paying subs.

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EamonnCork - May 20, 2010

Mark, thanks for all the info. They’re an interesting crew. Looking at the figures for the British far left, or left if you wish, and thinking of their general electoral performances it struck me that they must envy, or admire, their Irish counterparts. Joe Higgins Euro election performance and the PBP local election seats are something they could only dream of.

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Mark P - May 25, 2010

Well, the British left does win occasional council seats, Respect, the Socialist Party, the Independent Working Class Association, the SSP and Solidarity have all done so in recent years. But a council seat means a lot less there and with the partial exception of Respect, their general election results have been pretty poor.

I tend to think that Scargill has to shoulder quite a bit of blame for that. In retrospect the SLP was probably the best opportunity the English left had to build a significant electoral presence and Arthur, who I will normally give a free pass to, fucked it up but good. A more structural problem is the electoral system. When freed from its constraints the SSP managed to make a noticeably bigger electoral advance than the Irish socialist left has yet managed. And then screwed it up by waging the incredibly bitter war of Tommy Sheridan`s cock.

As far as the union movement is concerned, the British left is massively stronger than the Irish one. Particularly the British SP and the CPB, which both have some real if limited sway over sections of the union movement there.

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24. Jim Monaghan - May 19, 2010

Mark
The CBP seem strong enough for both the SP and SWP to take them very seriously.The EU elections and TUSC seem to me to have the CPB in the centre of things

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Mark P - May 19, 2010

The CPB are not involved in TUSC. They were indeed central to No2EU, and indeed the name was largely down to them.

They are certainly taken seriously by the SP and SWP, but because of the Morning Star and their influence over some bits of the left union bureaucracy rather than because they can turn out any large number of activists. They are also taken seriously in the anti-war movement because they have a small number of key people in that movement.

I don’t think by the way that most members of the CPB would dispute that assessment – certainly the one who told me that activist numbers were 250-300 rather than my estimate of 200 didn’t.

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neilcaff - May 19, 2010

No2EU, I still have nightmares about that bloody name!

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25. Jim Monaghan - May 19, 2010

CPB sorry

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26. Babeuf - May 19, 2010

CPB also have the added support of the foreign communist party member organisations in the UK, such as the KKE, AKEL etc, who have not insubstantial organisations or memberships in the UK.

Also, don’t underestimate CPB’s union support. Bob Crow is a CPB fellow traveller and CPB executive members sit on Unite’s executive. Graham Stevenson is supposidly overseeing the present BA dispute (according to the Daily Mail anyway!)?

In addition, CPB executive members also head the Stop The War Coalition (Andrew Murray) and CND (Kate Hudson).

In all, on top of a continuing daily paper (The Morning Star), they are pretty impressive for an organisation of a nominal 1,000 members?

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2010

That seems like a reasonable analysis. Although still hugely down from back in the day.

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neilcaff - May 19, 2010

Graham Stevenson is only running things in the Mail’s fevered imagination.

The national officers for aviation of Unite are on the T&G side Steve Turner (ex Militant Tendency) and Brian Boyd (ex CPGB, the real one) on the Amicus side. As the cabin crew struggle intensified around September last year Len McClusky (Deputy General secretary and fellow traveller of Militant during the Liverpool battle) was parachuted in. This had nothing to do with the upcoming Gen Sec’s election and the fact that McClusky is being backed by the left bureaucracy in Unite or all the free publicity. No sir.

When things started to turn nasty after the first injunction Tony Woodley took direct control of the dispute and that’s pretty much the situation now.

The thing to understand though is that all the figures above are only controlling things from the point of view of the national union. The actual cabin crew branch BASSA (which is the T&G side, Amicus also have a branch but they make up less than 10% of the membership) is very independent in it’s own right. They have their own membership levy and full time staff as well as elected lay officials on 100% facility time. They are the largest private sector trade union branch in the country with over 10,000 members and two reps on Unite’s NEC. In the past they haven’t been averse to telling Unite to get stuffed and the current leadership is currently in place after the last leadership was forced to resign en mass because they agreed to a crap deal stitched up by Woodley in 2007.

In short it should come as a surprise to no one that the Mail haven’t got a clue what’s going on at Unite. They probably thought alleging some Tankie was running the show would send a nice little frisson down the spines of the Hyacinth Buckets in Turnbridge Wells types that dominate the readership.

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27. Bartholomew - May 19, 2010

Cardew played a concert in Dublin back in the 1970s, about 1974 I’d say. Just himself playing the piano, in the Academy of Music in Westland Row. It’s a long time ago, but what I remember is that he was just back from China, gave long disquisitions on the need for politically useful music in between the pieces. I was expecting some far-out John Cage-style stuff, but it was fairly straightforward tonal music.

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28. PJ Callan - May 20, 2010

See the link below for a copy of the reprint of Cornelius Cardew’s, “Stockhausen Serves
Imperialism and other articles” (1974) The highly controversial collected Marxist
writings of British avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981). Cardew, a one-time
assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen and founder of The Scrach Orchestra, gradually moved
away from John Cage-inspired works toward radical Marxism. Long out of print,
“Stockhausen Serves Imperialism” contains “A History of the Scratch Orchestra” by Rod
Eley; “John Cage: Ghost or Monster?” by John Tilbury; and the following by Cardew:
“Stockhausen Serves Imperialism,” “On Criticism,” “A Critical Concert,”Self-Criticism:
Repudiation of Earlier Works,” “Problems of Notation,” and “Criticism of The Great
Learning.”

http://www.ubu.com/historical/cardew/index.html

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29. PJ Callan - May 20, 2010

And a beautiful version of ‘The Croppy Boy/Boolavogue’ from the Cardew 1985 memorial concert performed on the 16th of May 1982 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London by his musical colleagues, friends and comrades who came together to perform his music in a tribute to his life and works.

http://www.ubu.com/sound/cardew_memorial.html

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EamonnSweeney - May 20, 2010

PJ thanks a million, that made my morning. By the way, this ubu.com site is an absolute treasure trove of avant-garde music and writing. Amazing.
If anyone is interested in Cardew and where he was coming from, the Crash Ensemble playing Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel in IMMA on Sunday would be a treat. I’m tossing a coin between that and the psychedelic Rangda in Whelans on Tuesday, given that economic reality militates against more than a couple of nights in Dublin.

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sonofstan - May 20, 2010

Didn’t know about the Rangda gig( Tuesday week) – thanks.

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anarchaeologist - May 20, 2010

Never heard of them. But it seems if you like Sonic Youth… We’ve come a long way from Hardial Bains!

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Bartholomew - May 20, 2010

Thanks for those links. What an amazing website, and that’s some lineup for the memorial concert. But with all respect to Cardew, I’m reminded of a song from the recent Chumbawamba album.

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Bartholomew - May 20, 2010

Sorry, only meant to put a link in, but then the whole window appeared. Delete if you want WbS.

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WorldbyStorm - May 25, 2010

Is cool Bartholomew. 🙂

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30. anarchaeologist - May 20, 2010

The Crash Ensemble are actually performing on Sunday week in IMMA, see http://www.modernart.ie/en/page_212216.htm

Thanks for the tip Eamonn! It looks like the rest of the day will be spent on ubu too…

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EamonnCork - May 20, 2010

Apologies, I don’t even know what week it is.

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31. NollaigO - May 21, 2010

http://www.ubu.com/sound/cardew_memorial.html
……
God grant you glory brave Fr Murphy
And open heaven to all you men.
The cause, that called you, may call tomorrow
In another fight for the Green again.

And a Maoist wrote a special composition of the above!

They can’t be all bad then!!

I tell ya you’d wait a long time to hear Boolavogue at a Socialist Party rally!
The sad thing is they’re proud of it.

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neilcaff - May 21, 2010

The less singing we have to do the better, tbh. 🙂

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LeftAtTheCross - May 21, 2010

For once I agree with someone in the SP. Where’s MarkP now to start an argument about it…

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32. PJ Callan - May 21, 2010

Nothing socialist about the “Socialist” Party. Remember the way their fellow travellers carried on during the Vietnam war?

http://www.lalkar.org/issues/contents/may2010/hochiminh.html

Those songs are from a period when the CPIML et al had broken with Maoism following the Nixon visit to the PRC. Hoxha took the Maoist theory of Soviet “social imperialism” towards quasi-Trotskyite absurdities. Following the collapse of Albania there were even a few Albanian aligned CP’s that actually became openly Trotskyite, the CPNZ was one such.

In any case I agree that English communists who would sing The Croppy Boy in a Queen Lizzy Hall can’t be the worst! If only there were more of them on that side of the Irish Sea.

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33. neilcaff - May 21, 2010

It’s says a lot about the left nationalist mentality that the measure of a persons radicalism and commitment is not what you’ve done in the movement but what sort of songs you sing.

Mind you, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone quote Harpal Brar and expect to be taken seriously!

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34. PJ Callan - May 22, 2010

“All that glitters is not gold. There is much glitter and sound in Trotsky’s phrases, but they are meaningless.”

VI Lenin

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neilcaff - May 25, 2010

Zzzzzzzzzzz

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WorldbyStorm - May 25, 2010

I don’t want to seem snarky about this, but let’s calm ourselves and step back from discussions that are entirely moot.

Given that neither Trotsky nor Lenin, nor indeed Stalin, graced these shores (on either side of the Irish Sea), at least not in the recent past I think it’s pointless to start fighting over next to nothing. I’m also dubious that Lenin was quite as antagonistic to Trotsky as some like to say or that he didn’t change his mind as time progressed. He did after all entrust him with founding and running the Red Army at a crucial time in the history of the Soviet Union. Now perhaps that was a terrible error, but I can’t see why.

And really, what’s the point there either? It doesn’t matter a blind bit of difference in Kilbarrack or Kilkenny (or Kilburn) where the working class is currently having to fight, and broadly speaking lose, its battles.

I could care less whether comrades who I respect pick sides in struggles none of us had any hand or part in. We’ve other and more important stuff to be doing – don’t we?

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35. Irish Left Open History Project: ‘Miscellaneous Notes On Republicanism And Socialism In Cork City, 1954–69′ By Jim Lane (Cork, 2005) « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - June 9, 2010

[…] Daly (ex IRA at the time) and myself met Hardial Bains and the other leaders of the Internationalists in 1968. Sean Daly is the person mentioned several times in my Miscellaneous Notes……. […]

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36. ‘Miscellaneous Notes On Republicanism And Socialism In Cork City, 1954–69′ By Jim Lane (Cork, 2005) | Irish Labour and Working Class History - June 9, 2010

[…] Daly (ex IRA at the time) and myself met Hardial Bains and the other leaders of the Internationalists in 1968. Sean Daly is the person mentioned several times in my Miscellaneous Notes……. […]

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37. Irish Left Review · ‘Miscellaneous Notes On Republicanism And Socialism In Cork City, 1954–69′ By Jim Lane (Cork, 2005) - June 10, 2010

[…] “Sean Daly (ex IRA at the time) and myself met Hardial Bains and the other leaders of the Internationalists in 1968. Sean Daly is the person mentioned several times in my Miscellaneous Notes……. […]

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38. PJ Callan - June 14, 2010

With all the money been printed these days if any of ye have a spare dodgy 100 lying around ye could do worse than this very rare LP.

http://www.discogs.com/Cornelius-Cardew-Four-Principles-On-Ireland-And-Other-Pieces-1974/release/909455

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Conor McCabe - June 14, 2010

It’s available as an MP3 download from Amazon, PJ, and I agree, it is great.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001GQAD5Y/sr=1-10/qid=1276517329/ref=sr_1_10_digr?ie=UTF8&qid=1276517329&sr=1-10

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39. Left Archive: ‘Words’ from the Trinity Internationalists (later the CPI(M-L), c.1967 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - August 23, 2010

[…] that would subsequently develop into the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist). As noted here… When The Internationalists were first set up in Trinity College Dublin in November 1965, it was not […]

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40. Tawdy - June 24, 2012

I was involved with the maoist bookshop in 1970, I also attended the conference in Galway mentioned by poster Ringo Starr at post 15 above. I met Martin Dolphin on a number of ocassions.

There was an incident at Limericks Colbert Station when Dev came to town. A young girl ( I don`t remember her name but she was involved with the maoist also ) jumped into the car that Dev had got itno and started shouting at him. She was arrested and taken to the prision at Mulgrave Street.

I went to the prision a couple of times to visit her ( told them I was her brother ) We did not know each other but we sat and chatted like brother and sister. they released her after about 2 weeks no charges were ever made.

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41. PJ Callan - July 22, 2012

Conor,

The LP ‘Four Principles On Ireland And Other Pieces’ is available here at

http://www.filestube.com/source.html?token=4a8949471d5a368703ea

password – basa005

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42. costa breve barcelona - November 5, 2012

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43. That US hate-preacher is not the first person ever banned from Ireland – others have been too. | Citizen Partridge - May 16, 2019

[…] he was coming to Ireland to “support the Chinese Communists in Trinity“. I think the TCD Internationalists would have given the Trotskyist Schoenman short shrift. In fact, they’d probably have […]

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