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Left Archive: The Irish Left – For Revolutionary Regroupment – Independent Socialist Party c. late 1970s August 5, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Independent Socialist Party (Ireland), Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above document please click on the following link: ISP 2

Many thanks to Daniel Finn for forwarding this document to the Archive.

This is an useful document published by the ISP [of which more see here] in the late 1970’s. It seeks to argue the case for a revolutionary regroupment of the Irish left and analyse the forces then extant within it. Although there is a note at the beginning that ‘the criticisms expressed within it are intended as constructive and fraternal – [and] it is hoped that the named parties and organisations will regard them in this light’ it seems unlikely that that would be the case.

It starts by arguing that:

Revolutionary Marxism has gained immensely within small sections fothe Irish working class during the last ten years. During that time comrades from divergent political backgrounds have groped towards a deeper understanding of Marxist doctrine. Ten years of practice in class and anti-imperialist struggles have taught many of us the value of the marxist method in understanding Irish society.
Although many paid lip service to the necessity for building a revolutionary party during this time, little serious effort was made to wards that goal. Instead illusions of grandeur abounded. individualism , romanticism and heavy doses of ultra-leftism ran riot, seriously hindering advancement towards a revolutionary party. It is important that we look at that period and analyse the mistakes made, in order to benefit from the experience.

And it assesses in turn various elements of the left in the Irish context, noting in passing that:

We had inadequate grasp of marxist methodology, practically no access to the writings of marxists and furthermore had the attractiveness of revolutionary ideology in Republicanism, which required little intellectual effort and evoked tremendous emotional commitment. Furthermore, through imperialist culture, we were subjected to the ideology of social democracy, which in the sixties – certainly in Britain and Ireland – had a very radical face, culminating in the 1969 Irish Labour Party acceptance of the goal of a Workers’ Republic.

In relation to the critique of organisations the document argues, for example of ‘The Far Left’:

The oldest of these groups is P.D. it contains some of the most experienced and dedicated comrades of the Left. It has a turbulent internal history and an active external one. Recently its parting of the ways with the Red Republicans seriously weakened it numerically, but seems to have strengthened it theoretically. it has abandoned its ‘loyalist fascist’ phase and its involvement in the James Connolly Society shows its belated recognition of the importance of theoretical clarity.

Of Official Sinn Féin it says the following:

Since the IRSP split the Officials have moved rapidly to the right almost adopting a two nations theory (see Smullen’s ‘The Irish Industrial Revolution’). They seem to have adopted a strategy of winning friends and influencing people within the trade union bureaucracy and the middle management of state enterprises in the South. Their total acceptance of Stalinism renders almost impossible the emergence of a revolutionary marxist trend within their adult ranks. But the IDYM should not be neglected. This contains working class youths who are not yet totally ‘stalinised’. A revolutionary should not ignore chances of influencing young workers here, by deed and word.

On the League for a Workers’ Republic:

Obscure labour party based group with tiny membership.

And of itself…

Emerged after a split in the IRSP and has the most potential for recruitment of the existing left-wing groups. It works in three areas of (1) Democratic struggles (2) Economic struggles (3) Women’s struggles. It has pushed for left unity and developed a Workers’ Resource centre in Belfast which has great assisted socialist roots in the working class. It is also the most broadly based, geographically, of the existing groups.

There is much more and all of it of interest to those looking for the perspectives of those involved in political activity at the time.

It concludes:

The creation of one Far Left organisation would be a major step towards building a revolutionary mass party. It would provide the resources of new interventions in class struggle. It would create a militant fighting organisation of class conscious workers. It would bey continuous and fruitful debate raise the level of marxism amongst militants.
Comrades, a revolutionary regroupment is not only necessary, it is in my mind, also possible.

Left Archive: The Independent Socialist Party: An Introduction, Independent Socialist Party (Ireland), January 1977 January 14, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Independent Socialist Party (Ireland), Irish Left Online Document Archive.


Particular thanks to Daniel Finn for forwarding this document to the Archive.

To download the above file please click on the following link: ISP

This document – produced by the Independent Socialist Party, [and see here] is very rare and provides an insight into one of the shortest lived left political parties in Ireland. Formed in 1976 by a group who had briefly joined the first incarnation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party the ISP first appeared as the Irish Committee for a Socialist Programme, seeking a more political route forward than the IRSP. Its most high profile recruit was Bernadette McAliskey.

For a period it looked as if it might merge with the Socialist Workers’ Movement into a single organisation but there was no support for such a measure [see comment #1 below]. Shortly afterwards the ISP disbanded.

This Introduction, labeled ‘I.S.P. Publication No. 1’ gives an overview of the ISP. It starts with a quote from Connolly:

We hold it to be our duty to assist and foster every tendency of organised labour in Ireland to found a Labour Party capable of fighting the Capitalist parties of Ireland upon their own soil.

The Introduction by the ‘Political Executive of the Independent Socialist Party’ argues that since 1968 socialist ‘have been searching desperately for ways and means to spread the socialist message’. It notes how socialists opted for PD, ‘then a militant civil rights student group, ‘others joined the Labour Parties’ and ‘others, especially after 1969 joined either wing of the Republican Movement’.

It continues:

The 1969 pogroms, the 1971 Internment swoops, the massive resistance after Bloody Sunday, the rise of the Loyalist paramilitaries and the inadequacies of the Provos, and now the bourgeois backed Peace Movement are all events which have forced socialists to take stock of their views. We have. Which is why we are in the I.S.P.

And tellingly it asserts:

As a result of experiences and analysis of the social conditions as well as the historical experiences of class struggle we reject elitism, whether of the Republican or Leninist variety. The working class is relatively educated and literate and therefore can be approached openly with socialist ideas in ways not available to socialists in the past. We firmly believe that socialists have to sink deep roots in the working class movement to prevent elitism emerging. For elitism leads eventually to the divorcing of the struggle from the peoples needs.

It also suggests that:

…at the same time we realise the importance of building a revolutionary party which will not succumb to backward prejudices of the working class. In attempting to build the revolutionary party we will work with all sections of progressive and socialist thought.

The rest of the document deals with the perspective of the ISP in relation to various areas under specific headings, including International Perspectives, Party and Class, Anti-Imperialist, The Unresolved National Question and Marxism and Republicanism amongst others.

Of particular interest is a paragraph under the latter heading of Marxism and Republicanism which argues:

Republican validity in so far as it has any validity as a revolutionary creed, is that it has struggled against imperialism. Indeed it seems to have been the main if not the only force to do so. Consequently socialists have been forced into taking positions either for or against defence of Republican armed struggle. But socialists should not confuse strategy and tactics. In principle it is correct to struggle against imperialism. But that does not mean justification, or defence of the methods used by Republicanism. On the contrary, if socialists believe in what they profess to believe then surely the main task is not abstract defence or criticism of Republicanism but instead positive leadership in the anti-imperialistic struggle. Only when anti-imperialism is seen as not necessarily being synonymous with Republicanism will the masses flock to the anti-imperialist banner and Cork and Belfast workers will stand shoulder to shoulder in common cause.

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