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Left Archive: The Irish Marxist – Journal of the Marxist-Leninists of the University of Ulster Labour Club, November 1990 October 1, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Marxist-Leninists of the University of Ulster Labour Club.

To download the above article please click on the following link: CPM ML

Many thanks to Roasted Snow for what is a very rare document from an organisation which had a relatively low profile. As Roasted Snow writes in relation to the foundation and objectives of them:

The group was born out of the Labour Club at the University of Ulster Coleraine which between 1985 and circa 1990 provided a Broad Front Socialist Society which included an eclectic mix of Socialists and Republicans. A sort of a Uni based ULA in the ’80s with CP and WP participation as well as Militant, SWM, PD, IRSP, UK Labour and SF. Even CPI ML came and talked to us. The Labour club campaigned on National and Local and Uni issues, run a Broad Front slate for Students Union executive in 1987 and won every post.

Many of the members were active in parties in their home areas but combined at Uni under the banner of the Labour Club. Of course members never fully agreed on everything but debate and respect was healthy. In practice there were real positives and political sectarianism really was questioned and threatened. But as Uni is transient the project died. In the late 80s some comrades became more interested in Marxism and Leninism through contact with the CPGB The Leninist, now Weekly Worker. This saw The University Marxist, yes TUM, appear as a journal and its members form a faction within the Labour Club. Once leaving Uni an attempt was made to create a national Marxist Journal. The result was The Irish Marxist or TIM. This is volume 1 issue 1. TIM did not last long as members, contributors were all graduates and most left Ireland in the early 90s to work in England and abroad.

But I do believe this is a unique document of the micro Left with the lofty ambition of forging a real Irish Communist Party along the Leninist model. And as you can see from this, the position on armed struggle remained a huge determining factor on how revolutionary an organisation might be. TIM played a prominant part in the campaign against The First Gulf War in Belfast where members posted stickers everywhere with the immortal legend ‘Peace through Revolution’. I hope this is of interest to some if only from an academic point of view

The Editorial is clear:

The publication of this journal The Irish Marxist represents a qualitative change from its predecessor, the paper The University Marxist. This change has been made possible by an increase in support, and made necessary by an expansion of our orientation outside the academic world, and towards the revolutionary movement and working class partisans in general. Our editorial policy is the same, we aim to be instrumental in forging the genuine revolutionary Communist Party which Ireland so desperately needs. By publishing this journal we aim not to make socialists out of liberals but communists out of socialists.

But further on in the letters section there is discussion on the origin of the Marxist-Leninists with a former member of the CPI(ML) writing in to ask what their position was on the latter group.
The answer notes that they have heard nothing from the CPI (ML), having sent them a letter, and continues:

However, from the limited contact we have had with CPI(ML) we do identify several limitations in its theoretical accoutrements. Leaving detailed polemic for another time, we would point that our emphasis is on theoretical clarification both internally and externally and on making revolution. A communist organisation as we wish to see in Ireland must comprise cadre able and willing to take action without recourse to any list of instructions form the centre, but in concert with the centre and answerable to his/her comrades. This demands open and frank discussions conducted within the organisation and in the pages of its organs. This, we believe is where the CPI(ML) and yourself parted ways, we are not surprised. The bureaucratic centralism which so characterises CPI(ML) means that it will never make a successful revolution.

There is considerably more and much of it is of interest.

The document contains a number of articles, including “In Defence of Armed Struggle”, “Gulf Crisis: For the Revolutionary Defeat of Both Sides”, “For Free Abortion on Demand”, “The Counterrevolution of the Market” and one on the “Revolutionary Organisation of Students”. It also has a Review section.

To give a brief sample of the above consider ‘In Defence of Armed Struggle’ which critiques the position of the Communist Party of Ireland, the Workers’ Party and Militant Tendency. It then sets out The Communist Position:

We have so far argued that a living revolution is currently progressing in Ireland. The struggle for national liberation which has intensified over the last twenty odd years must be viewed as being integral to the struggle for social revolution. And those currently in the vanguard of this struggle, the IRA volunteers, are a revolutionary force, they are nationalist revolutionaries whose war of liberation is as legitimate as the much fainted Tan War of 1919-1921 which removed British troops from the 26 counties.

It argues:

It is the duty of communists to take the side of the oppressed and those engaged in revolutionary war, to take the side of the IRA against British imperialism. This has nothing to do with our feeling sorry for oppressed nationalists in the 6 Counties, but rather because the struggle for national independence is of fundamental importance to socialist revolution and to the working class throughout Ireland. Our aim is to establish the IRish Soviet Socialist Republic and we cannot conceive of that happening while Britain remains engaged in this country, and while British and other capital dominates the commanding heights of the economy.

And in the conclusion entitled What is to Be Done? it argues strenuously against a cease-fire which ‘would strengthen the hand of bourgeois and imperialist oppression, lay nationalist working class districts wide open to loyalist pogrom, induce massive reaction and a sense of demoralisation amongst revolutionary nationalists and their supporters’.

…the fact of the matter remains, the national question has not been resolved in Ireland, a living national revolution is in progress and no amount of wishing it away, denying its importance or ignoring it will change that fact.

All told a notably polished document (and as noted elsewhere recently other documents donated by RS will be appearing in the Archive over the next few months).


1. Mark P - October 1, 2012

This really is something of a curiousity. It also left me with the distinct that it was more student theatre than anything else – the po-faced letter page is sort of amusing in an accidental way. As is the notion of a factional publication for a trend in a University left society.

I hadn’t realised that the Leninist (CPGB-Weekly Worker) had managed to form a group of Irish sympathisers, even a very small one. I did know that they spent some time and effort trying to cosy up to the IRSP in the 1980s. This would have been the period when they were still under the influence of an odd faction of the Turkish CP, which would explain the rather exotic politics.


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