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Left Archive: People’s Voice, No. 2, Saor Éire (Cork), December 1968 [Repost] July 17, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Uncategorized.
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To download the above please click on the following link. PV 2 1968

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

 

This repost of the Saor Éire (Cork) publication People’s Voice brings a better copy of the edition to the Archive and many thanks to Jim Lane for that. There’s much to consider in the 12 page issue. It has a range of articles – one on TACA (which notes that ‘Jobbery is our game’), an outline of the position of workers under Franco, another on Nixon, a piece on ‘The Red Flag over Knocklong’ and another on the Derry Riots.

Perhaps most interesting is an Open Letter to Republicans. This is in response to  an article in the November 1968 issue of the United Irishman entitled ‘The dilemma of Sinn Féin’.

Saor Éire argue that:

 

…regardless of our well known hostility towards the political course pursued by the movement over the past few years, we will be the first to admit that it certainly appears to have had the positive, and therefore welcome effect of shaking the movement out of the lethargy and political fantasy which had dogged it for so long.

 

And it continues that while the article in the UI saw the dilemma being that SF faced a ‘stronger radical movement made up of the Free State Labour Party in alliance with the Trade Unions’ it sees it differently.

 

In our view the [Labour Party is not a radical body], it never has been and it never will be. And in all fairness to that party, it has never claimed to be radical, in the sense that the term is clearly understood by revolutionaries.

And it continues that the real dilemma facing the Republican Movement is parliamentarianism.

 

REFORM OR REVOLUTION: THIS IS the question now facing Radical Republicans. The present Republican Movement, due to factors endowed by its organised life, and by the middle class ideology which originally instituted and shaped its structure, is incapable of reorientation to meet the requirements presently demanded of a radical movement. therefore for Republican radicals to continue to uphold the movement in the light of recent disclosures means in effect they opt for reformism and cease to be radicals.

And in conclusion it calls for the building of a ‘new movement, which by being radical in its objects, will also be the true inheritor of that revolutionary pattern of development that is the proud tradition of our people’.

 

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Comments»

1. Aengus Millen - July 18, 2017

This is fascinating considering the power the republican movement has always given to continuity and to names. The obvious exception being the Workers’ Party which in circumstances not known to me did abandon the Sinn Fein name and though still republican certainly abandoned all notions of continuity with some near mythical second dail. I have to wonder if this was written by some future member of the Workers’ party.

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WorldbyStorm - July 18, 2017

Well now. Didn’t this org ally ultimately in ICO which saw dome go on to BICO but I don’t think any left BICO for WP. Re SFWP to WP I think the reason and I joined shortly after that so I’m open to correction was to put clear water between them and sf as well as clearly underlining how different the approaches were with them. It met a fair bit of resistance IIRC. Unfortunately as we know some became addicted to name changes later for cosmetic rather than principled reasons.

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2. roddy - July 19, 2017

“STILL REPUBLICAN”? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2017

In its own way.It still argues for a united Ireland and a Republic at that.

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3. roddy - July 19, 2017

WHERE? Show me one MSM newspaper article or media interview since the early 80s where any of their spokespeople mentions Irish unity.

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WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2017

Calm yourself. If you can steel yourself to go to the WP website you will find a doc Aspects of the History and Ideology of the WP. In that doc you will find on the very last page in very large letterings the heading Principles and Aims of the Workers Party if Ireland. Under that in slightly smaller text is written:

The WP seeks to establish a Democratic Socialist Republic if Ireland.

The WP is a Democratic Socialist Republican Party Organised on the Principlesof Democratic Centralism

That strikes me as more useful than newspaper interviews from the 80s and a frankly completely different context in the island. It took me all of two minutes to find that and your version of google is no less good than my own. Anyone with even the slightest curiosity can find that in minutes, its no great secret. And clearly this is part of their self perception.

A few years back I found myself at a WP event where a speaker who would have been shall we say critical of SF made the point that they themselves were republicans and wanted a UI. I couldn’t fault their sincerity and I thought it an interesting insight into their self perception. Of course, and I don’t want to speak for them, their version of a UI and Republic is naturally going to differ from yours and others.

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4. roddy - July 19, 2017

Their policy for decades was the return of a majority rule stormont. De Rossa as president said “we will have to have another look at 1916 “. Northern leader Lynch blamed a programme highlighting their “special activities ” on “Republican” journalists.WBS are you seriously saying you as a member did’nt notice their u turn to full blown unionism.Are you telling me the likes of Bew and Patterson were Republicans?

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WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2017

This from the 1990s is useful

Internationalism has its roots in the link between the Men and Women of 98…it us as much a component of our ideology as our goal of a ‘Democratic secular socialist unitary state in Ireland – a Republic’
And it notes that in 1985 The WP endorsed the following statement ‘The WPs long term goal is the establishment of a democratic secular socialist unitary state – a Republic…to achieve this goal the WP will have won the support of the overwhelming majority of the working class in NI and the RoI

The Future is Socialism 1990s Des O Hagan

Clearly the WP prioritised class over nation and decided UI was not a medium term goal. You or I can disagree with that but it was logical and not inconsistent with their stated aims or republicanism. Likewise calling for devolved govt even with a bill of rights seems pointless to me but it was consistent with the above if the effort was to try to build class first. Their route was different to yours or perhaps mine but it was not entirely illogical.

And contexts change, we no longer expect SF to call for the continuation if armed struggle as it once did. That route didn’t work either. What was a priority is no longer a priority.

But if you knew the WP a little better you’d know that part if the De Ross’s et al critique was precisely that it was too republican, in its own way. I think there was what could functionally be termed a pro unionist stance in parts of the 80s which I’ve always been critical of but it wasn’t the totality of things and most of those who held it exited in 1991.

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Starkadder - July 19, 2017

“Their policy for decades was the return of a majority rule stormont. De Rossa as president said “we will have to have another look at 1916 “”.

Do you have a reference for this, Roddy?

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5. Joe - July 19, 2017

“Their policy for decades was the return of a majority rule stormont.”
There was a lot more to it than that. First and foremost, iirc, a Bill of Rights to ensure that civil rights were guaranteed for all. Against powersharing, again iirc, because it would entrench sectarian division – which it has done, in the current set up (but I’d still support the current set up as opposed to sectarian warfare).
The idea or hope was that with a Bill of Rights, over time a parliament in Stormont would begin to break into left/right dynamics rather than unionist/nationalist dynamics.
It was a socialist approach – working towards people seeing their intersts in terms of their class rather than their sect or community.
Naive I suppose but there you go.

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WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2017

Exactly, it was about class politics and arguably no more naive than an attachment to armed struggle.

My major problem would be that much hinged on the Bill of Rights being sufficient to prod Stormont to class politics (or as you say class politics would develop in a Stormont underpinned by a BoR). But given it never did in Stormont Mk I why it should in a new Stormont is unclear or why a BoR would have such remarkable effects likewise.

One important aspect although I think the mix was wrong was to engage with the fact of unionism. That has certainly influenced my thinking subsequently if not necessarily in the intended way!

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Joe - July 19, 2017

Well, there was no Bill of Rights in Stormont Mk 1 so the unionist government could get away with denial of civil rights and preferential treatment for unionists – and so continue to have the support of the unionist working class. With a Bill of Rights guaranteeing fundamental civil rights to all, they couldn’t get away with that any more. And the unionist working class would eventually see that their interests lay in class politics rather than communal, sectarian politics.
That was the theory, I think.
A naive faith in the power of a Bill of Rights maybe?

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WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2017

That’s what would worry me, and when we see some of the stuff around the GFA/BA ignored by the DUP (and Alliance arguing that it’s being ignored, not just SF or indeed the SDLP) that suggests a BoR would have been less useful than was thought. But it’s not an unprincipled position to argue what was being argued for is it?

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