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Left Archive: Ireland – Past, Present and Future, The Socialist Party of Great Britain and World Socialist Party of Ireland, 1983 February 17, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Socialist Party of Great Britain, World Socialist Party.


To download the above file please click on the following link: WSPI 1983

Many thanks to the SPGB for forwarding this very interesting document to the Archive.

This document, issued by the SPGB was published in 1983. It joins other documents from the SPGB, the Socialist Party of Ireland (1940s onwards) and the World Socialist Party of Ireland already in the Archive. The contents is broad-ranging offering an overview of ‘The Origins of Sectarianism’, ‘The Roots of Nationalism’, ‘Partition and the Consequences’, ‘Civil Rights and Political Violence’ and ‘Socialism’.

In the introduction, signed by the Socialist Party of Great Britain, it notes that:

It is commonplace to read news reports of killings on the streets of Ulster. The media present the bombs and the barricades, the internment camps and the rubber bullets as unfortunate hiccups which can be overcome by sensible politicians applying their thoughtful solutions.

But there can be no solution to ‘The Irish Problem’ as long as it is regarded as such. There is nothing particularly Irish about it. The poverty which forms the material basis of discrimination and fratricidal strife is inevitable in the framework of the present social system – capitalism.

But while the basic problems are the same throughout the world (even in the so-called ‘communist’ countries where capitalism functions through the medium of the State), the contradictions of the system manifest themselves differently and in varying degrees of viciousness according to historical, political and economic conditions obtaining in different areas.

It is to capitalism then, as it developed in the historical circumstances peculiar to Ireland, that we must look for an explanation of the problems of today.

In a later paragraph it argues that:

The demands of civil rights movement amounted to no more than an insistence that the miseries of capitalism – its inadequacies in housing, job and education – be distributed among the working class without regard to their religion – as if other factors bearing on selection and rejection for these things were not also discriminatory.


The politics of Unionism and Republicanism have become meaningless in terms of the interests of the now largely unified capitalist class; and certainly, neither Unionism nor Republicanism – despite the latter’s flirting with the vocabulary of Socialism – have anything to offer the working class. It is because Unionism, the Border and Ulster are no more than a source of irritation to capitalism – the issues involved having no logic in class terms – that more effective moves for a solution of the Northern Ireland problem have not emerged.

Left Archive: Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Ireland with Declaration of Principles, SPI, c.1949 April 11, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Socialist Party of Great Britain, Socialist Party of Ireland [1949 - ].

To download the above file please click on the following link: SPI MANIFESTO

This is an important document, donated to the Archive by the SPGB – for which many thanks. Dating from the 1940s [though this document may be a reprint from 1962] it clearly lays out the Socialist Party of Ireland (not to be confused with these later formations) objectives. This indeed is made explicit in the ‘Object’ from the frontispiece:

The establishment of a society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

The SPGB is represented by this document here and the accompanying text gives some indication of the remarkable history of that formation.

The SPI, as the Preface to the Manifesto makes clear was founded in May 1949 by ‘a number of workers representing Socialist Groups in Dublin and Belfast’ who ‘met in Belfast and decided that the Groups should coalesce and form the SPI. That decision was subsequently ratified by the members of the Dublin and Belfast Groups; and so was born the first political party in Ireland to publicly and unequivocally declare its object to be the establishment of Socialism.’

There are some contemporary echoes. The first part of the pamphlet excoriates the Irish Labour Party participation in Government.

‘Nor can the Labour Party claim here that they are not free agents – that they are merely “in office but not in power”.

And it continues later…

Labour Party government has effected no change in working class conditions for the better in any country.

Likewise the document lambastes the Northern Ireland Labour Party for being ‘programmatically at one with the British Labour Party’. It continues ‘In the past the NIL Party tried to maintain its equilibrium by barring from discussion ‘the Border question’. The very fact that it was necessary to mollify opposing faction on this question amply illustrates that, despite its claims, this movement was not Socialist. Socialists see the Border as a child of capitalism and leave its nursing to parties representative of the sectional interests of the capitalist class.’

There’s a fascinating analysis of Vocationalism in the South and the ‘brand of Corporatism [which] has been finding increasing favour among the many aspirants for political power ‘down south’. And the document is very clear on the issue of Partition which it appears to regard as a chimera and where it asks…

Why should we, for example, at the cost of alienating one section of our own class, make common front with reactionary Nationalist elements, the native petty-bourgeoisie, the landed gentry, the ex-Imperialists and Fascists, who’d prefer a dog – of any nationality – to an Irish socialist? Why help t change a flag and leave the old enemy, capitalism, with its poverty and exploitation and class-border? Why should Socialists assist a clique that even now are eager to speculate with the blood of Irish workers in the markets of international catastrophe?

And it is worth considering the Declaration of Principles which is printed at the end of the document.

Again, many thanks to those who donated this document to the Archive.

Left Archive: The Irish Question: A Socialist Analysis – A “Wereldsocialisme” Pamphlet, SPGB, 1976. January 17, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Socialist Party of Great Britain.

To download file please click on the following link: here.SPGB IQ

Here is an interesting pamphlet from the general direction of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, not to be confused with the Socialist Party of England and Wales, a venerable formation which can be dated back to the Social Democratic Federation from which it split in 1904.

An avowedly Marxist party, it eschews Leninism, nationalism and war. Its basic objective is:

The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

This is to be achieved through democratic elections and presently prevailing institutions, an outcome which the SPGB admits is beyond its capabilities at this point but which it seeks to hasten through political activity and consciousness raising. This piece cannot do justice to the history of the SPGB, but both the wiki page and the late and great John Sullivan deal with it in some detail.

The document is in part a reprint from the SPGB Socialist Standard = though it also seems to address an international and/or European audience. It’s overall thesis is one which is positioned within discourse which is heavily critical of Republicanism and Irish independence. This is perhaps best exemplified in the text by the chapter entitled ‘The Irish Capitalist Republic’ on p.19 and in particular the discussion of James Connolly:

Just before he was tied to a chair and shot by a firing squad in May 1916 the injured James Connolly is said to have remarked ‘the socialists will never understand why I am here’. Well might he have felt guilty, from a socialists and working class point of view, about what he had done. For he was being executed for his leading part in the Easter Rising, an armed insurrection aimed at establishing, with aid from Imperial Germany, an independent, and unavoidably capitalist, Republic of Ireland.

It continues:

Before the war Connolly, who was well acquainted with Marxist and socialist ideas, had been a prominent and successful trade union organiser. At the time of his execution he was the secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and ‘commandant’ of its armed defensive force, the Irish Citizens Army. This had been formed in the course of the great Dublin Lock-Out of 1913 to protect union members from police violence and intimidation, but Connollly turned it into a Republican body. He himself was almost certainly admitted to the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood before being appointed commander of its forces in Dublin during the rising.

And from this concludes:

The IRB had no social programme and was simply dedicated to using physical force to establish an Irish Republic. The Declaration of the Republic which was proclaimed from the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin does, it is true, express a few democratic and reformist sentiments, but only in the vaguest terms. Its main concern was obviously ‘The Republic’.

It is scathing about the southern state but also about the processes that led to even partial independence.

In 1965 an Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement, providing for full free trade between the two countries after ten years, was signed, and since 1973 Ireland, along with Britain, has been a member of the Common Market (EEC).

When this process of full economic re-integration with Britain is completed Ireland will be back where it was before 1922 – and the thousands of young men who sacrificed their (and other people’s) lives ‘for Ireland’ will be clearly seen to have died and killed merely to have got about thirty years protection for Irish capitalist industry to catch up with the rest of Britain plus a few superficial political changes, which when they weren’t for the worse, amounted to little more than ‘painting the pillar boxes green’ as the popular saying accurately puts it.

And its position on the conflict in Northern Ireland is therefore unsurprising:

During the 1930’s the IRA rapidly degenerated from a popular movement into the small gang of terrorists it is today.

The document critiques all left wing formations, the Leninist concept of ‘Imperialism’ and both the Trade Unions and the Civil Rights movement who it argues ‘must take responsibility for the current violence in NI. For their reformist campaign helped unleash the passions that have put the clock back fifty years. The very nature of their campaign – a fairer deal for Catholics under capitalism – meant that they were seen to be and in fact largely were a Catholic sectarian movement’.

And it’s solution?

Socialism alone can end this, by making the means of production the common property of all mankind so that they can be used to provide abundance for all. The struggle for Socialism will united rather than divide the working class because it does not set worker against worker over the few crumbs capitalism has to offer but is so clearly in the interests of them all.

An interesting addition to the Archive from the British left.

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