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

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist Leninist), Irish Left Online Document Archive, The Internationalists.

To access downloadable PDF please click on the following link: INT’L WORDS

Many thanks to Tommy Graham, editor of History Ireland, for making this document available to the Archive.

‘Words’ dates from close to the earliest phase of the Internationalists, the organisation 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 as a fully-formed Marxist-Leninist party, but ‘as an exercise in better staff-student relations.’

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).

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)

It’s a striking document which clearly is positioned within the much less formal context of a staff student discussion vehicle. From the four page essay by Hardial S. Bains on ‘The Phenomena of Time Consciousness’ to the concentration on Vietnam to the ‘Straight Facts: Radio Telefis Eireann’ it is very much of its time, although there is a telling piece on the back page about the slogan ‘Make Love Not War’ which takes that formulation to task. In some respects that and the tone of the Bains article are the only significant hints of the ideological rigour which would later be manifested in the CPI(M-L). Tied into that is a much less rhetorical use of language throughout.

A useful indication of a transitional stage in the political origins of one of our better known further left formations.


1. ejh - August 23, 2010

A cheery bunch.

Is there any chance we could get to see Differentiate between sham and genuine Marxism-Leninism to unite the revolutionary forces and defeat the enemy : British and Irish ‘Communist’ Organisation- Trotskyite thugs, sham Marxist-Leninists and agents of British imperialism?


2. ejh - August 23, 2010

By the way, having gone on a bit of a serendipity spree this morning I came across this document which might have some relevance in the field of Brendan Clifford Studies.


3. Phil - August 23, 2010

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’

I wonder how many options they considered for that last one? I guess that’s the form of “we need to think about X” which means “you need to agree with me about X”.


Budapestkick - August 23, 2010

Yeah, I doubt there was a faction who wanted to favour the lumpenproletariat and follow Epicurean theory and who were motivated entirely by lust.


4. Ciaran O'Brien - August 23, 2010

‘I said that discrimination could not account for the lack of Catholic entrepreneurship. All were equally free to be obsessed with industry and devote their lives and their savings to small business and dedicate themselves to making it larger. But, if virtually all the entrepreneurship came from one community and that community as a whole had an obsession with science, technology and thrift, one could not in the normal course of events expect the result to be an even distribution of employment in both communities.’

B. Clifford, 1990. Good find Ejh. Not what Mr. Clifford argues today.


5. Conor McCabe - August 23, 2010

A very interesting publication. The Hardial Bains article is essentially a first draft of Necessity for Change. A lot of the key ideas in that pamphlet are already here. The article on RTE contains a great little insight into the development of indigenous Irish capitalism in the 1950s and 1960s – namely that RTE’s decision to provide advertising had less to do with funding and more to do with the demands of advertising agencies – this is also reflected in the Irish building society scandals of the early 1970s, when millions of pounds was being spend each year on unnecessary advertising by the societies, particularly First National, Irish Permanent, and the EBS. (“yes, yes, yes with the EBS”).

The great thing about the Internationalists, and later on, the CPI M-L, is that they got Irish capitalism. They got it. They understood it. They knew how it worked. Having said that, they got almost everything else wrong – Irish society, Irish class relations, even Irish history – but with regard to the dynamics of Irish capitalism in the 1960s and 1970s, the CPI M-L were pretty much on the ball. There have been others of course, but the Internationalists/CPI M-L deserve mention as well. They understood that Irish form of comprador capitalism. I mean, in the 1970s, the Workers’ Party was producing documents stating that Ireland needed to industrialize in order to become a genuine, modern capitalist state, while the CPI M-L were saying look around, it’s already here, but it’s in services.

With regard to Brendan Clifford and the BICO, I think the two-nations theory was such a curve-ball for the Irish left in the 1970s that a lot of energy was taken up in trying to dismiss the argument, rather than actually sitting down and analysing the dynamics of Irish economic class relations. It had to be done of course, but it did damage the debate, no doubt. It still goes on today of course. I always taken back when someone gives the “Irish capitalists were lazy” argument, but left-wingers seem to have embraced it with aplomb.

So yeah, as far a opportunities for a giggle go, the CPI M-L will allow that, what with the weird phrases and ejaculative sentences, but there are insights into Irish capitalism there as well, for those who want to dig them out. And it’s not like the Irish Left has an oversupply of those in the basement. The more I read about the course of Irish capitalism in the 1960s and 1970s, the more I give a nod to the Internationalists and the CPI M-L. It’s very strange. What they got wrong, the Irish Left already knew (peasant armies in Connaught?), but what they got right, the Irish Left could have done with more of.

ejh, I have a copy of that document, which was a reprint of an article in Red Patriot in I think 1974.. I’ll send it on to WBS during the week. I just need to scan it.


ejh - August 23, 2010

It’ll probably take you a week to scan the title.


Conor McCabe - August 23, 2010



WorldbyStorm - August 23, 2010

Thanks a million Conor.

In the meantime ejh while you’re waiting for that check out this from the Archive, a slightly later Red Patriot.



ejh - August 23, 2010

What a fine thread. Ed Hayes the winner, I think.


WorldbyStorm - August 23, 2010

I like it too.


WorldbyStorm - August 23, 2010

I will say though that at this remove the original piece which was by me was way too snarky and unfair to those involved.


6. Ciaran O'Brien - August 23, 2010

Off the point to what Conor is arguing but from Ejh’s link, it is interesting to see what Clifford is saying about Mary McAleese. In 1990 she is wrong because she is a nationalist. Today the Aubane/BICO/IPR group still hate her, but supposedly because she is pro-British and intent on reviving the Unionist memory of the Great War.

‘For about a year and a half, from the start of last year, I was preoccupied with a libel suit brought against me by Mary McAleese, who used to be a Trinity lecturer and an RTE presenter. She was appointed to a strategically important job in the Northern Ireland legal structure a couple of months after she lost an election in Dublin in which she campaigned for the abolition of Northern Ireland. The appointment was made in blatant disregard of the Fair Employment guidelines. I published an article to this effect in a small circulation periodical called A Belfast Magazine. She threatened the main bookshop with libel action unless it undertook never to sell the magazine again. It caved in on the instant. And she issued a libel writ against me. Having no more means now than I ever had, I had to defend myself. (No offers of support were forthcoming from ‘the Orange bourgeoisie’.)

It took her high-powered battery of solicitors and barristers over a year, and half a dozen court appearances in which I compelled them to give substantial discovery, despite all the legal trickery they could deploy, before they faced up to the fact that I might well win at the trial, and that I would probably do her irreparable damage even if I lost. Then they settled without costs or damages, and at enormous financial cost to her.’


ejh - August 23, 2010

He did seem to me to be very much devoted to the cause of attacking his old rivals on the left over and again life everlasting. This is quite a common syndrome but I think it’s generally disastrous for one’s intellectual development and sense of proportion, let alone one’s personality. (This is arguably no less true when one has often been right where one’s old rivals have been wrong.)


neilcaff - August 23, 2010

“This is arguably no less true when one has often been right where one’s old rivals have been wrong.”

Hmm not sure about that. It sounds like an excuse for a year zero mentality. If mistakes flow from a method that has been shown to produce mistakes in the past then there’s nothing wrong with criticising it. This is especially the case if a year zero mentality prevails or we have the same errors cooked up in a different presentation.


ejh - August 23, 2010

I’m looking for the train of logic here, but I confess I’m not quite finding it.


LeftAtTheCross - August 23, 2010

Neil, I read EJH’s comment as emphasising the negative psychological effects of basing one’s worldview entirely on a backwards-looking analysis and re-living of past battles, with the subsequent correctness or otherwise being a secondary issue. However, you’re right in you’re comment that lessons have to be learnt obviously enough, it’s just the extent of the harping on about it that I think was being commented upon.


ejh - August 23, 2010

Put differently – I think it possible that Neil examines an unfamiliar argument by trying to spot something that he recognises and the identifying the whole as something that he knew already. I believe this is a common source of error among birdwatchers.


neilcaff - August 23, 2010

Now now ejh, no need to be catty. I was merely making the point that if one has been proved right then the method used to arrive at that conclusion bears repeating. You claim revisiting ground again and again is destructive to ones intellectual development regardless of whether one was right or wrong. I am disagreeing.

I took your use of the word “arguably” to mean you were open to discussing this claim but clearly you were not apologies for the misunderstanding. Perhaps “arguably” was just a sort of decorative plumage on your sentence? (spurious avian analogies, don’tcha just love ’em?)


ejh - August 24, 2010

It’s not clear to me how reitertation is an aid to development. Indeed, if I say it several times it seems to me that we stay exactly we we are….


neilcaff - August 24, 2010

Well that’s a fair point.


Starkadder - August 23, 2010

If I remember the Justine McCarthy bio, McAleese and her
solicitor Donal Deeney took action against “A Belfast Magazine” on the grounds that McAleese claimed the BM article accused her of being a anti-Protestant bigot and unfit for her job at Queen’s University.

It should also be pointed out that a) the BM article was very similar to an earlier piece criticising McAleese in the Sunday
Independent, and b) the lawsuit put “A Belfast Magazine” out of

IIRC, some other NI politician (I think it was a UUP member) allegedly threatened Athol Books’ “Workers’ Weekly” with legal action around this time, but he doesn’t seem have gone throught with it.


7. PJ Callan - August 26, 2010

Greta read Tommy, thanks for scanning this and making it available. Bains had a great ability to apply DM to the conditions in Ireland.


8. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - August 26, 2010

[…] The Internationalists, Trinity College Dublin: Words […]


9. Starkadder - June 23, 2011

On the subject of Trinity and the Irish left, Kader Asmal has just passed
away. RIP.



WorldbyStorm - June 23, 2011

Sad to hear…


10. CL - June 23, 2011

“We stand not for empire but for self-determination.”-President Obama, June 22, 2011


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