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Left Archive: Labour Party Young Socialists (UK), c. 1974. August 2, 2010

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in British Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Militant, Young Socialists.
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LPYS

Many thanks to Jim Monaghan for this document. Originating with the Labour Party Young Socialists and dating from the early 1970s this document is notable because the LPYS, the youth section of the British Labour Party, was effectively a part of the Militant Tendency within the Labour Party during most of the late 1960s and 1970s and through to the 1980s. The document itself was issued by the LPYS Irish Campaign Committee and deals with the conflict in Ireland. But a brief perusal of this short four page text would, from the policy positions adopted centre it within Militant thinking on the issue.

Under the headline “Workers Unity – only way forward!” it gives an analysis of the situation that welcomes ‘the Provisional Ceasefire”. It continues that the LPYS…

‘from the beginning of the Provisional Campaign have argued that a guerilla campaign in N.Ireland would lead only to defeat and demoralisation. Any organisation that turns away from the road of the mass struggle and the involvement of the workers in their own liberation, courts disaster and defeat. Particularly in N.Ireladn where the working class was already divided on a sectarian basis, a guerilla campaign coming from one side of that religious divide could only further deepen that divide”.

The stated aims of the LPYS Irish Campaign are:

• An end to the Tory Bi-Partisan Approach: For Socialist Policies and support for the Irish organisations of Labur.
• For a Trade Union Defence Force to defend all Areas, Catholic and Protestant, from sectarian attacks and to defend workers while going to and while at work.
• Withdraw the Troops
• End Internment and all repressive legislation
• Release all political prisoners in Ireland and Britain
• Trade Union rights for the Armed Forces
• For a Conference of Workers Organisation from Ireland and Britain to forge unity in Action against the common enemy of capitalism

The rest of the document deals with Unemployment – North and South, Housing in Northern Ireland “The Worst Housing Crisis in Europe” and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

It concludes the main article with the slogan…

“For a Socialist Ireland linked to a Socialist Britain!”

Comments»

1. Ciarán - August 2, 2010

“For a Socialist Ireland linked to a Socialist Britain!”

Social imperialism, anyone?

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Mark P - August 2, 2010

That term doesn’t mean what you think it means.

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2. HAL - August 3, 2010

Was this an armed trade union defence force that they are talking about I wonder.

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3. Jim Monaghan - August 3, 2010

Just a general point. Many leftists want a classic class struggle with a properly organised revolutionary party and a class struggle leadership of teh trade union movement, of course allied to the revolutionary party.
When they don’t get it they wish it into existence or opt out of living struggles where things by their very nature are muddy. They are (this is really the same point0 uneasy about nationalism whether of the oppressed or not) and feminism as well as other struggles which do not necessarily involve factory workers.
The worst of these was probably the DeLeonist SLP in the USA.
Connollys break from DeLeon is still worth reading.
I would add a lot of Trotskyist groups to this.Though this is not unique to Trostkyism but applies to many of the messianic groups which litter the landscape. An interesting example is the cult of the Maoist Avakian.
I would submit that you can see a certain abstract nature in the calls that they make. I am familiar with calls which can be educative and thus raise consciousness so I don’t neccesarily mean calls that can be grated within the status quo.
The trade union militia call falls into this abstract hole in my opinion.Proof if needed would be the failure of the trade unions to prevent the so-called loyalist strike whose purpose was to destroy all attempts involving the nationalists in the Northern statelet.
I remember a similar abstraction where the same tendency called for a socialist federation of Argentina and Britain as a solution to the Malvinas crisis.
Rather than face up the the actual situation where the nationalist population were facing pogroms we get a retreat to a non existent dream where workers have a socialist consciousness and where shop stewards are all good people organising the defence of their fellow workers rather than driving them out of work and burning their homes.

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FergusD - August 3, 2010

So Jim, what was the alternative, from a socialist perspective, of Militant’s approach?

Did the Provos protect the Nationalist working class population of NI from the depredations of the loyalists, sectarian mobs or the security forces? It doesn’t/didn’t look like it to me (although I kind of fell for that argument for a short time).

If Militant were “idealistic” and their slogans inappropriate (possibly they were) what was the (socialist) alternative?

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4. Jim Monaghan - August 3, 2010

We called for a united front in defence of the ghettoes. This was possible.
The real problem with Militant is that they put equals too signs in any such conflict. Yes, the Provos did not defend the ghettoes and their policies probably made things worse.But the prisoners were prisoners of partition and Imperialism not sectarian fighters. There was a huge difference between them and the herrenvolk types in Loyalism. But to use an analogy the miners strike was lost and the mining industry no longer exists in the UK, this does not mean that it should not have been supported. It does not mean that if the TUC got off the fence that it would still have been lost. This side of a socialist victory most/all workingclass and oppressed struggles will at most end in a draw or with small concessions but they still have to be fought even if the circumstances are less than ideal and the leaderships are wanting.Look at the ICTU would you follow them around the corner if you had a choice.
I think Lenin in What is to be done described worker battles where things were muddy but where it was duty to know which side you were on whatever the smoke. Trotskyist usually make a lot about opposing individual violence or to be more exact elitist militarism but they forget that in his article on the Jewish militant who assassinated a Nazi official he understood. The attitude to the young fighters against Imperialism in the ranks of the Provos and the INLA was not to condemn them but explain why a struggle restricted to the masses of the Northern ghettoes could not be won but that it was necessary to break out of these confines and mobilise North and South to break the isolation which Imperialism had achieved.Describing it as a sectarian conflict purely and simply played a role in this isolation.

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Mark P - August 3, 2010

Jim, as always it’s a sort of wierd pleasure to see someone stick to their guns, long after the political movement which taught you this left nationalism has disappeared into the dustbin of history. You used to hear this sort of stuff from a whole array of little left groups, now nearly all deservedly dead.

Militant’s argument was that the Provisional’s campaign of individual terrorism:

(A) Could not conceivably work.
(B) Would further divide the working class and further embitter that division.
(C) Would lead a generation of young activists into prisons or graves.
(D) Would succeed only in allowing the British state to massively ramp up its repressive apparatus with the support of large sections of the working class both in Ireland and in Britain.

Every point of that argument has been categorically proven correct. The counter-arguments may have seemed credible at the start of the 1970s, but forty years later there really isn’t a question left. The Provisional campaign was a dismal, bloody, counterproductive failure and now the Provisionals are junior partners to the Paisleyites in a glorified County Council, happily privatising and cutting, within the Union and their liliputian cheerleaders, from the CPI-ML to the RMG are dead and buried.

There’s something almost sweet about hearing someone complain bitterly now, at this point in time, after the results are long in, that other left groups were insufficiently enthusiastic in their cheerleading for predictable and counterproductive failure.

I do wonder however if you might not have been better served by reading the document rather than simply churning out the inaccurate “standard line” on the Militant of your former grouplet. The document does not “draw an equals sign” between Republicans and Loyalists. While it certainly (and accurately) talks of the sectarian conflict in the North, it is very clear where it lays primary blame for the conflict:

“The Provos have correctly identified British imperialism as the enemy. Imperialism bears the main responsibility for the last six years of bloodshed.” In fact, it hammers that point home repeatedly. However, it argued that the Provisionals cannot defeat British Imperialism and in fact made the situation worse. You seem to think that it was incumbent on socialists to put aside their knowledge that individual terrorism couldn’t work and instead, out of some kind of misguided sympathy, cheer young Republicans into their cells or graves. I couldn’t disagree more.

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5. FergusD - August 3, 2010

Jim,
I would agree with what you say I think. I do see that Militant could have been seen as almost “holier than thou” and standing on the sidelines while advocating strategies that were biound to fall on stoney ground.

But..I’m not sure what the difference between your United Front in defence of the gehttos means. A United Front or who?

As for the miners’ strike, yes the Totskyist left should have, and did, support it, but it too was probably doomed given the position the NUM/Scargill took. It didn’t even end in a draw. Isn’t the idea to both win small victories, or draw, when you can but also to learn the lessons (both the left groups/parties and the “masses”) for the future?

Actually, it is my understanding that Trotsky understoofd the need to deal with situations as they existed, but also the need to draw “the struggle” into useful directions (as he saw it). That was partly what the Transitional Programme was all about, how to work in non-revolutionary situations without lapsing into reformism.

Alas, after years of violence I don’t see the cause of socialism advanced in NI at all by the provos – if anything seriously damaged.

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FergusD - August 3, 2010

I meant the difference between Jim’s United Front and Militants Workers Militia.

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Mark P - August 3, 2010

Everybody on the left supported the Miner’s strike (well, sections of the Eurocommunist wing of the CPGB weren’t keen on it).

Jim is making the comparison to imply that the Provos defeat doesn’t mean that supporting them was wrong in retrospect. The comparison is meant to obscure the fact that the Provisionals armed campaign went much as Militant expected it to and not at all as Jim’s cheerleading tradition expected or hoped it would.

The thing is though, that it wasn’t a coincidence that Militant was right that the armed campaign would fail. Their view on the subject came precisely from learning the lessons of previous struggles over generations – and in this particular case the lesson that individual terrorism cannot defeat a modern, urban, industrial power. Such a thing has never happened and never will happen, which is rather different from a strike. Believe it or not, strikes do often achieve victories.

Unfortunately, some people still don’t seem to have learnt that lesson, despite the examples of the PIRA, INLA, etc etc conveniently located for our instruction.

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Starkadder - August 3, 2010

“Everybody on the left supported the Miner’s strike (well, sections of the Eurocommunist wing of the CPGB weren’t keen on it). ”

IIRC, the B&ICO/Ernest Bevin Society were against the Miner’s
Strike- certainly you could rarely open an Athol Books magazine in the mid-80s without seeing an attack on Arthur Scargill.

“The thing is though, that it wasn’t a coincidence that Militant was right that the armed campaign would fail. Their view on the subject came precisely from learning the lessons of previous struggles over generations – and in this particular case the lesson that individual terrorism cannot defeat a modern, urban, industrial power.”

Exactly. The Provos were never going to become the Irish
version of the Armée de Libération Nationale.

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6. ejh - August 3, 2010

There’s no better way of passing a summer afternoon than arguing about which Trotskyite group had completely the right slogans forty years ago and which others, i.e. all of them, had completely the wrong ones.

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7. Jim Monaghan - August 3, 2010

So crystal ball gazing is what determines support for a struggle. The fact of the matter is that the struggle was between a section of the nationalist masses and British Imperialism. As I have previously stated I did not think that the mass support was in any way sufficient to gain victory. I actually agree with the Officials about this. I followed another logic to theirs.But when push comes to shove I know where to line up. You cannot stand aside when Imperialism decides to demonise (interesting how it was turned on and off, when it suited) a section of the masses. And let us be clear it was not just a few thousand Provos volunteers who were demonised but the population they came from. One example of this is when a RTE journalist made the mistake of saying the hunger strikers had mass support and got witchhunted. The military offensive by the ANC was similarly doomed to failure and in reality the mass movement spearheaded by the new unions brought down apartheid. But I know which side I was on there as well, even though I knew that it was basically a cul de sac. The Vietnamese struggle was led by a Stalinist party who murdered Trotskyists, again I knew which side I was on.( and to be fair so did Militant, though they were so deep in the British LP that their solidarity was small compared to the IMG.
When individuals and groups ( and it is hard to call the Provos a group when at stages they had 1000s in jail, when is a group a mass movement, I suppose when it is lead by Militant) take up struggle and are maddened by the scale of oppression, we can argue for a better strategy and tactics from a position of support for the oppressed. Using the disagreement with the strategy adopted by the Provos and backed by a section of the Northern masses as an excuse for absenteeism is a mistake. We carry out struggle based on the realities in front of us. If we are small we seek to influence the big companies to adopt good strategies. But when battle commences between the oppressed and Imperialism we should know where we stand.
From the start PD and it allies supported a United Front in defence of the ghettoes, Northern Resistence would have been an example of this. The line of the document “mass action vs Militarism” was the strategic direction that underlayed the policy PD adopted to the growing prison struggle.With the d decision of the British to crack down on the nationalist population culminating with Bloody Sunday (this as not an abberation) it was to be expected that the bulk of young people in the ghettoes would turn to military formations.The statement that the Provos arose out of the ashes of Bombay St. has a certain truth.
Sure I would have wished that a revolutionary party had lead the Civil Rights struggle and had lead similar struggles in the south and could have created trade union based defence squads. But when I am not dreaming I deal as best I can with the realities in front of me.

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Mark P - August 3, 2010

In summary:

Socialists are under a moral obligation to cheerlead futile, counterproductive, doomed struggles even when we know them to be futile, counterproductive and doomed. Mentioning that they are futile, counterproductive and doomed is betrayal.

Forgive me if I think that’s an example of unalloyed stupidity. The “realities in front of you” were that the IRA’s campaign could only have negative consequences. You had no excuse not to know that, given your theoretical heritage.

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WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2010

Given that more self defined Trotskyists (not a term I use perjoratively) lined up on the side of the Provisionals than not that’s perhaps a statement made more in retrospect than in the actual flux of time?

I’m also slightly less convinced that the IRA campaign could only have negative consequences.

It certainly had many many negative consequences, there I agree. But only negative?

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Mark P - August 3, 2010

No, it really isn’t. Trotsky and Lenin were very clear about their views on individual terrorism and wrote about it at some length. They were of the view that it couldn’t work and would prove counterproductive.

There are lots of things that both Lenin and Trotsky argued at some point which haven’t stood up in the light of events. But eight or nine decades of human history haven’t yet provided us with a significant counterexample on this issue.

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yourcousin - August 4, 2010

Trotsky and Lenin were very clear about their views

Oh well, I guess that settles things then. Damn I wish I knew how to do a rolling eyes emoticon.

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Mark P - August 4, 2010

It was a direct question stemming from a comment I made about the theoretical heritage of Trotskyist groups.

What’s more it was immediately followed by the statement that “there are lots of things that both Lenin and Trotsky argued at some point which haven’t stood up in the light of events.” This should have made it apparent to even the dimmer bulbs amongst us that I was not making an argument that the opinions of Lenin and Trotsky on any particular issue are necessarily correct or even of interest to us. I was making the point only that organisations like the RMG, which situated themselves in a particular political tradition, don’t have the excuse of ignorance of that tradition.

Perhaps next time I should put the disclaimer in capitals.

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WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2010

But do Lenin and Marx use the term terrorism in the sense we do? Lenin for example decried individual assassination attempts but my sense of it is that a campaign such as that waged by the Provisionals and arguably in it’s initial stages by the Officials sat in a different category, one wherethechance of many near simultaneous acts were used to apply pressure to a state. I don’t for a second disagree with you that on balance the forces arrayed on both sides were such that an armed campaign could “work” in it’s own terms but… And therein lies the wriggle room for the SWP or RMg or whoever.

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WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2010

…armed campaign ‘could not work’… Is of course what I meant to write

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WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2010

…near simultaneous and ongoing acts…is also what I meant to say…

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DublinDilettante - August 4, 2010

As far as I recall, Trotsky’s great statement on individual terror related to literally that (Grynszpan’s assassination of the Nazi diplomat, and yes, I did have to look up the spelling.) I suppose anything that smacks of substituting for the class (like the Cuban revolution) is going to get orthodox Marxist backs up.

I guess one’s perception of whether SF achieved its war aims tends to rely on the relative weight one accords the movement’s propaganda as opposed to its actions. Violence comes more naturally to a nationalist movement than a class-based one. It’s just inherent in the extirpatory (rather than transformative) imperatives of nationalism

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WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2010

I think that’s a fair overview. The Cuban one is an interesting example, isn’t there a question of blurred lines between definitions, say of terrorism, national liberation struggles, etc, at least at the margins. Or to put it a different way it seems to mee RIRA campaign fits into the category that Lenin and presumably Trotsky felt was ‘terrorist’ because it has no chance of success and self evidently so given it’s longevity over twelve years or so without effect. Which of course is to put class issues entirely to one side.

The issue of substitutionism is problematic for me too, though the Cuban example throws up curiosities there too.

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Mark P - August 4, 2010

“But do Lenin and Marx use the term terrorism in the sense we do?”

Yes. It has to do with the tactic – individual assassinations and hidden bombs. The tactics centrally employed by the Provisionals. It has nothing to do with whether 10% of the population support you (like the Provisionals) or 1% or 2% or whatever the dissidents currently have.

As for the Cuban revolution, a key distinction is made in the Marxist tradition between the guerillaism of many peasant based wars and individual terrorism. Guerilla warfare is an often used and sometimes even successful method in peasant based societies. Individual terrorism, by contrast, never, ever works.

By the way, Trotsky wrote a great deal more about individual terrorism than just his piece following the assassination mentioned elsewhere in this thread. He gave his articles such unambiguous titles as “Why Marxists oppose individual terrorism” and “The bankruptcy of individual terrorism”. Most of his pieces stemmed from his opposition to the Narodnaya Volya organisation, which had proven quite adept at blowing up Tsarist officials and the like.

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WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2010

I’m not sure one could limit the Provisional campaign to just those two tactics you mention. It seems to me that they went quite some way beyond them encompassing a broader range of activities. As for it never ever working, hmmm… In total – absolutely, but in part? I can’t help but think that we wouldn’t be seeing SF ministers in a certain administration if it had no effects.

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ejh - August 4, 2010

This should have made it apparent to even the dimmer bulbs amongst us

If you put Militant ideology into one socialist, and ordinary ideology into all the other socialists, you find that after just a few years of continuous use, the ordinary socialists give up. But Militant socialists keep going. In fact, depending on the socialists, Militant ideology can keep going two, three, up to six times longer.

Militant. No ordinary ideology looks like it. No ordinary ideology lasts like it.

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neilcaff - August 4, 2010

“Militant ideology can keep going two, three, up to six times longer.”

Actually that should be “five, ten, up to fifteen times longer”.
Typical inconsistency from the SWP here when it comes to the National question 😉

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fergal - August 4, 2010

Speaking of indidvidual terrorism what did Trotsky call his crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion?An act of individual terrorism or some form of guerilla warfare?Trotsky(or Lenin) didn’t seem too worried about the peasants led by Nestor Makhno in the Ukraine who had done down the White Denikin and his troops only to be slaughtered by the Reds.
The “armed struggle” was a failure but I was never a teenager in 1970s Belfast/Derry in the context of internment and British army brutality .What choices would I have made?Ed Moloney recounts how the IRA did a “survey” of its members in Long Kesh and found that the vast majority(90 per cent+)joined up a result of security force beatings/intimidation etc and not for traditional green reasons.
Jim and Mark P wil just have to agree to disagree!
One huge positive from the peace process is a few armies have decommissioned their weapons, wouldn’t it be great if an Irish or British representative used this as a precedent for ALL armies in the world to decommission their weapons via the UN?

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neilcaff - August 4, 2010

“what did Trotsky call his crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion?An act of individual terrorism or some form of guerilla warfare?”
Que? I doubt Trotsky would have thought it was either of those things. I would guess from his writings on the subject that he viewed it as a legitimate act of self defence by a revolutionary regime fighting for it’s life. You can agree or disagree with this idea but what Kronstadt has to do with the Marxist view of individual terrorism I have no idea.

As for Makhno, he was left to his own devices for a long period because he mostly operated outside of the soviet zone of control. When the Red Army advanced into his area conflict quickly sprung up. Once again I fail to see what this has to do with the question individual terrorism as a tactic to defeat a modern capitalist state.

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Mark P - August 4, 2010

Ah, the sweet smell of half-understood anarchoid gibberish.

(For the record, the crushing of the Kronstadt was not carried out by Trotsky, although he supported doing it, and more importantly for the purposes of this discussion, it was a regular military engagement).

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8. Jim Monaghan - August 3, 2010

ejh, All I can say is that history is sometimes bunk and sometimes not. If we do not attempt top learn a bit from mistakes etc. it will trip us up again.

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9. HAL - August 4, 2010

Did’nt Militant have an English head office/connection and if so would this prevent them siding with the nationalists.Which side are you on etc.I never supported the Provos but claiming their campaign was never going to win as a reason to why it should’nt start is stupid.They at that time felt like they had no choice.Does anybody believe that constantly marching to the Dail and flag waving is going to change anything or topple the government.No but we do it because we have no choice.

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FergusD - August 4, 2010

Hal,
It what sense didn’t the Provos have a choice? Was the startegy they adopted the only one possible? Did it suceed? These are all legitimate questions surely.

While I think some of the origins of the Provos were reactive i.e. to the attacks on natiuonalist areas, some of what they became comes from a particular ideology and parctice of Irish nationalism heavily influenced by secret societies and militarism. Surely that at least is open to criticism by socialists.

I think the jibe at Militant in the UK is unfair. I don’t think they were influenced by fear of “whose side are you on” – their policy re: NI was in tune with their policies/attitudes on other struggles – right or wrong.

I’m not sure Jim is being fair either. Militant were always critical of British Imperialism AFAIK, I think they knew where they stood.

The question for me remains is how the “left” responded to the situation in NI, what lessons can be learnt, and where the left goes from here in the light of those lessons.

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Mark P - August 4, 2010

“Feeling” you had no choice is not an excuse, particularly when many people faced the same temptations and managed to do something else. The idea that the Provos had “no choice” but to go on an offensive bombing spree, with added assassinations and sectarian murders, is idiotic.

And yes, the fact that someone is going to be actively counterproductive is more then enough reason not to do it. And more than enough reason to oppose someone else doing it.

Militant were, from round about the time that this was produced, a part of the Committee for a Workers International, at that point a small international grouping consisting of organisations in Britain, Ireland, Germany and Sweden. The CWI’s office was certainly in London, although it’s line on the national question was very much driven by its Irish affiliate.

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HAL - August 4, 2010

Did Militant call for a British withdrawal and a united Ireland did they have a written constitution where they stated they saught a united Ireland.

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Mark P - August 5, 2010

You can go and look at the copies of Militant from roughly this period in the archives here. The bannerhead reads “Militant: For a Socialist United Ireland”. It isn’t what you’d call ambiguous.

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WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2010

Well yes in a perfect world, but as one who was in and out ofBelfast regularly in the 1980s and saw first hand just how oppressive the security forces could be on a daily basis I think that it’s actually easy to see how that would generate negative responses, quite apart from other effects we’re not even touching on here such as the political isolation of nationalists north of the border, pre existing militarist tendencies, sectarianism and so on. I’ve huge admiration for those who avoided or eschewed certain responses to that but I’d be loath to say that in a certain context I would be sure I might not have done otherwise.

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neilcaff - August 4, 2010

I think the nub of the argument is the analysis that lay behind the choice that was made either for or against armed struggle.

It seems to me Militant called it right from 1969 onwards as far as armed struggle is concerned and set out what it believed was the socialist alternative. Ever since then it’s been pilloried by certain left goups for not supporting the armed struggle. This is despite the fact I’ve yet to see a convincing argument put forward by any of these groups as to how armed struggle might have succeeded.

I think the question we should consider is what should the left do if/when another period of violence and polarization opens up in the North? Will the lessons of history be learnt or will the left once again be swept along by the prevailing mood in one of the communities?

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ejh - August 5, 2010

It seems to me Militant called it right from 1969 onwards

Only 1969?

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neilcaff - August 5, 2010

Well from the Big Bang really, but we try our best to be modest.

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DublinDilettante - August 5, 2010

Well from the Big Bang really, but we try our best to be modest.

Didn’t Alan Woods disprove that one in Reason in Revolt, thereby destroying your entire theoretical underpinning?

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neilcaff - August 5, 2010

Yes you’re right. Good old Alan isn’t as modest as us. He thinks time has no beginning or end so Militant has been right for an infinite length of time!

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WorldbyStorm - August 5, 2010

It’s a tricky one neilcaff. I think there were justifications for the use of armed struggle in the earliest period of the conflict, particularly defensive justifications. Indeed given that the nature of the conflict changed through fairly clearly defined phases, Stormont, direct rule, an effort to establish power sharing, direct rule again, Ulsterisation, local assemblies, etc, etc, and the nature of the state response changed throughout all of these from fairly direct assaults at times, or at the very least collusion with armed militias against Republican/Nationalist areas, on to attacks such as Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday, and so on it’s difficult for me to see no scope for armed struggle at certain points during this process.

That’s laudable about a socialist alternative, and of course they weren’t the only ones doing that either, but truth is that actual dynamics on the ground supplanted whatever prescriptions any organisation of the left might attempt to promote.

Re your last point, I think the issue is now moot (btw, I wouldn’t pillory Militant for not supporting armed struggle – but I think the situation was more complex and the responses particularly so). It seems to me that there’s no capacity for armed struggle to either open up a space or to support political activity in any way that is positive. I’d hope that might be one lesson learned over the lifetime of the previous armed struggle.

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10. Jim Monaghan - August 4, 2010

Of course the Provos should be criticised for their strategy (based on too narrow a base to win), their tactics (alas, some of the stuff the RIRA/CIRA are doing is quite like their tactics) and going into a quasi gov. with reactionaries.But when criticising them and any other national liberation movements, you have to state clearly that they are a response to Imperialist aggression. EG they are the people with the little bomb as Brendan Behan once said. The British made a decision to crack down on the nationalist population and to back down from the quasi fascist threat during the Loyalist so-called strike.On what would have been a better response, I am afraid that in the context of Bloody Sunday and other attacks on nationalist areas by the British, young people wanted one response and one only. Saying that these people were sectarians and effectively the same as Loyalists is a nonsense, whatever way you dress it up.
The Provos and ETA for a start were based on mass support from a section of an oppressed people. That is what makes them different to CIRA/RIRA and the Red Army faction or for that matter from the travelling comedian of the Black Bloc.
Yes, I have difficulty with the spelling “(Grynszpan’s assassination of the Nazi diplomat,). Trotskys approach was one of sympathy not anything else. He did not line up with the reformists who did nothing while the Nazis burnt out the Jews as a prelude to worse.He identified with the fighter and offered a better strategy.
A prominent Trade Union leader stated on a platform I shared with him that nationalism was the root of the Middle Eastern crisis, going on the criticise Hamas. I support the Palestinian people in spite of their leadership. I am sure Militant does too.

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11. neilcaff - August 4, 2010

A lot of sour grapes here from the usual suspects.

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12. ejh - August 4, 2010

I am surprised this discussion has managed to extend over two afternoons as normally it is resolved so quickly. One particularly expects the term “Kronstadt”, for instance, to act as a calming influence

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13. fergal - August 4, 2010

Mark P,I don’t think the Kronstadt rebellion was anarchist,far from it.Only one or two of the sailors on their Revolutionary Committee was anarchist(“Izvestia of Kronstadt”/Voline’s “Unknown Revolution”).Trotsky ordered the crushing of the rebellion,”shoot them down like partridges” but it was Tukhachevsky that carried it out.But what’s a few hundred dead working calss sailors dead( or was it 1,000, 2,000?)and thousands of more fleeing to Finland.Tukhachevsky eventually got done in one of the purges in the 30s.
The crushing of Makhno was a different matter with interestingly enough an assassination attempt by the Cheka on Makhno,peasants massacred and villages burned by Trotsky’s brave Red army.But as MarkP puts it this was just “a regular army engagement(A Skirda “Nestor Makkhno-The Cossack of Anarchy)
neilcaff-I couldn’t care less about” the Marxist view of individual terror”,this is not to deny the genius of the man;Krontadt and the Ukraine were power grabs/consolidation by the Bolsheviks as they monopolised lives in the USSR,but here’s my central point;those who follow Trotsky are not the best qualified to be talking about how useful a campaign of violence is/was when their main man helped to kill off all Left opposition(anarchists,Kronstadt sailors,Mensheviks,Left Socialist Revolutionaries,peasant armies)after October leading to a bloody and brutal dictatorship in the USSR,socialism becoming a dirty word
and indeed Leon himself being killed in Mexico.

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Mark P - August 4, 2010

Predictably, Fergal, you don’t seem to have understood the responses to you. The reference to anarchoid gibberish was not a description of the sailors of Kronstadt, but a description of the utterly irrelevant stuff about Kronstadt you were adding to the thread. A certain breed of anarchist seems to feel an almost medical compulsion to start waffling uselessly about Kronstadt once every ten or so minutes.

The rights and wrongs of Kronstadt – which whatever else you have to say about it was a traditional mass battle – are not relevant one way or the other to a discussion of the efficacy of small organisations of radicals using campaigns of bombings and assassinations to take on an advanced capitalist state. The Makhnovists are of relevance only if you were trying to explain the difference between a peasant-based guerilla force and individual terrorism of the ETA/PIRA/CIRA/RIRA/INLA/RAF/etc variety.

I’m not particularly interested in your obsessions, but I am a little curious as to what exactly sets off the anarchoid pavlovian response. Is it the use of the words “Trotsky” and “violence” in close proximity? Perhaps I should go over to the anarchist black cat forums and conduct an experiment

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14. fergal - August 4, 2010

Mark P,it must be the use of “trotsky” and “violence” in close proximity!Hope I’ve saved you a trip to the black forums.

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15. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - August 5, 2010

[…] Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) Irish Campaign Committee: Workers Unity – only way forward! (~ […]

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16. Jim Monaghan - August 5, 2010

http://www.marxists.org/archive/serge/1938/04/kronstadt.htm

Above Victor Serge on Kronstadt.As Serge elsewhere pointed out the Bolshevils has seeds of a lt of things, Stalinism was one of them. Personally I have doubts about K. I think Trotsky saw what was happening a little late. But marxism/socialism is not about clairvoyance. The Bolsheviks got boxed into a corner and this caused what happened. It was a pity that the left SRs staged a botched op. to try and resart a war with Germany. Ideally a coalition of the Bolsheviks, Left Srs and left Mensheviks would have helped preserve Soviet Democracy.
I strongly recommend this site for thsoe interested in any aspect of marxism and indeed anarchism. It contains original texts from all the major players and not just of the marxist schools.

I see Mark P can not see a difference between movements with mass support and elitist groups with no connections with the masses.The Spanish anarchists were really in to individual acts, but because they grouped the best and most committed.fighters in a mass movement and he tried a failed to get the Spanish Trotskyists to engage with them in a friendly manner. Alas, they preferred to engage with those who had better positions on paper and no doubt better positions on individual violence.

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fergal - August 5, 2010

Looks like a great site Jim,cheers.

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HAL - August 5, 2010

But marxism/socialism is not about clairvoyance

Could’nt agree more.

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17. Jim Monaghan - August 5, 2010
18. Left Archive: Final Agenda For the Twenty Third National Conference of the Labour Party Young Socialists (British Labour Party) – Ireland Section, April 1984 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 4, 2010

[…] an insight into how the issue of Ireland was perceived by sections of the UK left. As has been noted here… the Labour Party Young Socialists were… …the youth section of the British Labour […]

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