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Left Archive: Go Fourth and Multiply – The British Left in 1983, Prunella Kaur [John Sullivan] February 21, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Politics.

Go 4th And

This document on first sight doesn’t appear to have much relation to the Irish Left, the title alone indicates that it deals with the British Left. However, turn to Part IV if you want an overview of one Irish formation very familiar to many of us here, under the heading ‘Neighbours’.

Other than the main feature of this pamphlet, produced in 1983 and revised later as ‘As Soon as this Pub Closes’ is that it remains an affectionate and often insightful overview of the British Left written in an explicitly humourous and sardonic fashion.

John Sullivan, from an Irish/Scottish background, was a fascinating individual and you’ll find an overview of his life and work here.

The text is available online but as ever it seems somehow more appropriate to view this in the original printed format.

As it says on the front cover…

You are at a party and someone calls you a workerist – how do you reply? Could it be true? Yet your boyfriend says you an ultra-left while your sister claims you have Pabloite tendencies so you don’t really know what t say. Such social embarrassment can now be avoided with the aid of this guide. Now you can hold your own in the sub world of the left. Who knows, one of the groups might suit you. You might even spot a gap in the market coverage and form your own group.



1. Jim Monaghan - February 21, 2011

I found it over cynical, just a tad. I also found him very anti national liberation vis a vis Ireland.
He wrote a very good book on ETA and all its splits. Almost as bad as Trotskyism or Irish Republicanism


2. Mark P - February 21, 2011

The cynicism is for the most part out-weighed by the wit.

He wasn’t a big fan of anything he thought might distract from a focus on worker’s struggle – the obnoxious remarks about gay liberation are perhaps the most eyebrow-raising in that regard. Sometimes his focus led him to make perceptive remarks, sometimes it just came across as sneering and boorish.


Budapestkick - February 21, 2011

That attitude vis a vis gay liberation wasn’t entirely unusual in the 70s and 80s though. A friend of mine did a project on LGBT rights and the far left. While the far left was a lot more progressive regarding this than most, a lot of stuff from the 60s and even later on regarded homosexuality as a sort of middle class illness that would dissapate after the revolution. It took the actions of LGBT activists within the far left to ensure that socalist organisations took a progressive attitude towards gay liberation. For example, Tony Saunois was instrumental in moving the Militant / CWI to its current stance.

It is a witty document, but very informative also. It’s interesting for example to see the actual theoretical justification for the Spart’s shenanigans which I wasn’t previously aware of. Still good for a laugh.


3. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - February 23, 2011

[…] Prunella Kaur (John Sullivan): Go Fourth and Multiply – The British Left in 1983 […]


4. Left Archive: The Leninist – Ireland: Thatcher’s Vietnam [Supplement] c. Winter 1985/Spring 1986 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - September 26, 2011

[…] This document is a four page pamphlet produced in conjunction with the Leninist, a publication of a small group within or close to the Communist Party of Great Britain in the United Kingdom. This group operated in opposition to the leadership of the CPGB taking a somewhat traditional Marxist-Leninist approach [indeed it's not entirely clear how many involved were also members of the CPGB – John Sullivan's work appears to indicate that at least some were]. […]


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