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Left Archive: Gralton: An Irish Socialist Review – Issue 1, April/May 1982 October 13, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Gralton Magazine (1980s), Irish Left Online Document Archive.


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Many thanks to Jim Lane for forwarding an almost complete set of Gralton’s to the Archive. Over the next year these will be posted up in sequence.

This first edition of Gralton starts strongly with a broad range of articles. These include a focus on the Fall and Fall of Labour, ‘Poland in Perspective’, ‘The Police and their Powers’, ‘Socialism and Feminism’, the ‘Politics of Moving Hearts’ and ‘The Left and Elections’. The range indicates the ambitions of the magazine to provide a strongly political but broad based direction encompassing Irish, international and cultural topics. There’s also additional elements such as a pull-out section on ‘How to go on strike!’.

In format it is analogous to then contemporary publications like Magill, although it eschews colour photography.

The editorial board includes names familiar to activism on the Irish left and media, including Paul Brennan, Mary Cummins, Des Derwin, John Goodwillie, Gene Kerrigan amongst others.

It also is open as regards the need for a readership that is responsive, arguing ‘Whether or not [we] succeed depends on the response from readers. This magazine is open to those on the left who need the outlet to explore new ideas or review old ones or have a contribution to make – whether in debate or in providing information.

In relation to the name, a full page article on the back cover by Brian Trench notes that:

Jim Gralton is the only person to have been deported from the 26 Counties for political activity. The deportation was ordered in February 1933 by de Valera’s Fianna Fáil government, which had just had its position confirmed in the second general election inside a year.

Gralton was not prosecuted for any criminal offence. His offence was to have helped give the poor, the landless and the unemployed of Co. Leitrim the confidence to fight for themselves. Conservative politicians and the Catholic Church waged an in tenses, occasionally violent, campaign against him. the LAbour Party an the IRA watched the battle, only individual members of each stood firmly with Gralton.

The editorial outlines both those involved and their goals for the magazine.

What kind of people are producing Gralton? What kind of people will read it? We think the answer to these two questions is the same; those interested in discussing the realities of Irsih society and the methods of radically changing it; those who feel that no existing publication or organisation is at present providing a forum within which the experiences, victories and defeats of the past decade can be assessed and learned from.

It continues:

We hope Gralton can become that forum. Our aim is to promote debate and discussion centring around a number of broad positions:

That capitalism is not a force for progress and has to be replaced by Socialism.

That Socialism consists essentially of people controlling their own lives in the workplace and the community.

That such change of systems goes far deeper than anything that can be achieved through parliamentary methods alone.

That real change cannot be brought about through the actions of any small elite group, whether guerilla army or state bureaucracy, but requires the action of masses of people acting consciously together to establish their own power

That none of this change can be achieved solely in an Irish context.

It suggests that:

…there is a close link between the experience of activity and the development of ideas and we shall always be seeking to strengthen it.

It notes that:

The Editorial Board of Gralton reflects who we believe to be our audience: individual socialists and activists in a wide variety of left-wing movements. Some of us are members of left organisations, more are not. Among us there are differences of tradition, political bias, interests – even some sharp disagreements on major political issues. But we all share a basic political approach and method; that of looking towards and participating in the struggles and movements of the working class and all the oppressed and exploited sections of society.

It asserts its independence, saying that ‘Gralton will be independent, broad-based and non sectarian in all its coverage’. And it emphasises that it ‘will not be handing down any firm ‘line’. our articles are the responsibility of the authors alone… we are not a ‘heavy theoretical journal’ so they will have to be written in ordinary English and priority will be given articles from whatever source which raise real questions or which provide useful information’.

Finally, it notes that ownership is vested ‘in a body called Gralton Co-Operative Society Ltd.’ consisting of all individual readers who are in broad agreement with the aims of the magazine and are committed enough to the project to take out a Supporters Subscription’.

The overall impression is of a strong, relatively well produced publication with a less narrow focus than some other material published on the left. One telling feature is a small box on the third page which outlines ‘Coming Soon…’ including interviews and articles in the next edition. In some respects the magazine was fortunate to launch when it did during a period of heightened political activity.

Some of those involved would reappear involved in Z Magazine later in the decade.

Any additional thoughts from those involved or who read it at the time would be much appreciated.


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