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Left Archive: The Socialist Future – Programme of the Socialist Party of Ireland, 1974 April 7, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Socialist Party of Ireland (SPI).
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SPI 1970s

To download the above file please click on the following link:
SPI 1970s

This is a useful pamphlet from the SPI (not to be confused with the contemporary Socialist Party) from 1974 which in 30 or so pages engages with the programme of the party. It underlines the identification of the SPI with the ‘socialist countries’ and in particular the USSR. It outlines the objectives of the party and offers a programme for a ‘democratic anti-monopoly government’. It restates its position on the ’national question’ and outlines the nature of the ‘socialist revolution’ and ‘socialist democracy’.

It notes in the Introduction that:

Today, fourteen countries have completed he first stage [the overthrow of the rule of the exploiters and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat]… The USSR, which was the first country to embark on the road to socialism, has completed the second stage;the construction of a socialist society] and has entered the stage of building full communism [the classless society of true justice and equality].

It also notes that:

It is the task of Irish workers to establish the new society in our own country. The way to do this is indicated int he programme of the SPI, presented here. Developed by collective thinking, firmly based on Marxism-Leninism, and approved by the national congress of our party, this programme sets out of views on the need for socialism in Ireland and the ways and means of making it a reality.

In an overview of the Irish political left it mentions only the Irish Labour Party, the SDLP and the Communist Party of Ireland, which it notes ‘although called the Communist Party of Ireland, in fact has few if any of the characteristic that have come to be associated with organisations of that name: dependence on the working class, loyalty to the philosophy of scientific socialism, defence of the socialist world, firmness in the face of hostile propaganda and internal discipline and unity of action’.

In relation to the national question it argues that:

The objective result of the existence of Sinn Féin (both varieties) is to frighten away the northern working class from taking part in any political activity other than ‘emending’ what they imagine to be their ‘country’.

It argues that:

There is no doubt that the ultimate settlement of the national question will involve the coming together of the two areas into a single workers’ state, established by agreement by the organised and united working class.

It is, in a sense, unusual in that it offers a fairly clear outline of the sort of society the SPI envisages.

For example in relation to ‘socialist democracy’ it argues:

Depending on the situation existing at the time of the winning of power by the working class, parties representing classes other than the workers might remain in existence for some time. The experience of a number of socialist countries in Europe indicates that other parties – representing, for example, small farmers and handicraftsmen, and possibly parties of the workers which do not subscribe to the Marxist philosophy of the advanced workers’ party – can participate in the construction of socialism, on the understanding that they would not cherish any illusions about restoring capitalism, or having a share in state power equal to or greater than that of the socialist workers.

Learning from the countries of established socialism, the working class will organise an electoral system suited to the new form of society. No parties supporting capitalism, and no candidates advocating a return to capitalism, will be allowed. General election candidates ail be selected by mass meetings of working people, convened by electoral commissions. The electoral commissions in each area will be made up of representatives of the democratic organisations of the people: the workers’ party, trade unions, and cultural, scientific and sporting organisation, and prospective candidates will be nominated by these organisations.

Overall a fascinating document and worthy addition to the Archive.

Left Archive: Songs of the Workers – A Socialist Party Publication, Socialist Party of ireland, 1975 August 12, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Socialist Party of Ireland (SPI).
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To download the above document please click on the following link:SPI SONGS GO

This pamphlet was published the SPI in 1975. As noted in the Introduction:

The songs reproduced in this book show various aspects of the continuing struggle between the working class and the capitalists, whether employers or landlords. The SP believes that the international nature of the workers’ struggle needs particular emphasis in Ireland today, where so many organisations exist, who would again lead us into the blind alley of nationalism.

And it continues:

The fight for socialism, for human rights and decent standards is international. As James Connolly said – “the workers of all countries are my fellow patriots, the capitalist of my own country is my natural enemy”.

And concludes:

Music and songs have an important part to play in the battle for socialism. They are invaluable in building confidence and strengthening class solidarity as well as in combating the attitudes of the exploiters.

Many of the songs are accompanied by brief explanations as to their historical and political provenance and the selection is wide.

Irish Left Archive: SuperSpi, Socialist Party of Ireland, June-July 1978. April 23, 2012

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Politics, Socialist Party of Ireland (SPI).

To download the above file [now amended to incorporate all 12 pages] please click on the following link:


Many thanks to IELB for scanning this document and forwarding it to the Archive. IELB has posted some pages from this on the Irish Election Literature Blog last week and it can be found here.

As IELB notes:

The magazine itself is actually quite good with a witty enough cover and some decent columns. The story about the ITGWU conference is one in particular that I enjoyed. I’m not sure how many issues of it were produced .

As he notes the most striking aspect of it is the overtly satirical magazine based approach from the front cover to the general contents. One thinks of Private Eye and more recently The Phoenix (first published five years later). This is a significantly more playful approach than that taken by other documents issued by that party. While the topics are much as might be expected with articles critiquing nationalism, housing issues and Israel, the presentation is again more humorous with cartoons, both illustrative and photographic and a number of stories that appear to be only partially serious. Most notable in that respect is the one entitled “Tall Tales” about an 142 year old man in Lerik-Azerbaijan ‘in the Soviet Union’ who it suggests ‘in his village might be regarded as a lad, as some of his neighbours are enjoying ages of 156 and 167 years’.

But the general tone is very slightly lighter, albeit much of it rests on irony and sarcasm.

Labour News is strikingly critical of the ITGWU. Red Herrin’s directly criticises ‘a group of students at UCD and TCD who are embers of the Socialist Labour Party (Noel Browne), [who have formed] an organisation called ‘Students for Action’ whose express aim is to oppose the Unions of Students in Ireland (USI). Intriguingly there’s less emphasis on ‘actually existing socialist’ states than in other SPI material (one thinks of Advance).

There’s also mention of ‘a joint Socialist campaign against Nationalism by the Socialist Party of Ireland, B&ICO, and the Limerick Socialist Organisation’ which is already in the Archive.

All told another useful addition to the body of work already here from the SPI and an attempt by an Irish political formation to break somewhat out of the traditional discourse extant on the left.

Left Archive: Advance, No. 22 July-August, 1976, Socialist Party of Ireland [1970s] November 21, 2011

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


To download the above file please click on the following link: SPI ADVANCE 76go

This issue of Advance from 1976 is, like the other copy in the Archive, a well produced document from the Socialist Party of Ireland, a relatively small orthodox Marxist formation which split from Official Sinn Féin in the early 1970s.

It covers a wide variety of topics from the then recent rejection of a national wage agreement by ICTU, unemployed marches. There is a focus on Tallaght and in international news it looks at ‘Argentina Communists [who] fight on’ and Cyprus.

On page 6 there is under the ‘Socialism’ column a report on a ‘new residential district at Berlin-Buch in the German Democratic Republic’ where ’48 of the flats were handed over to severely disabled people’ and the design of the interiors finalised with them. There’s another short piece on ‘Religious Freedom in the USSR’ and a photograph of the first Aeroflot jet to have ‘transited Shannon’ that year.

There is a Socialist Party statement on Squatting and the Housing Crisis and a short piece on ‘Unity and the Class Struggle’ where the party states:

The policy of the Socialist Party stated simply is: to organise the working class in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; to lead the struggle by the working class to win political power and at the same time to work with all democratic and anti-monopoly forces to win and retain democratic freedoms and to fight for maximum unity against nationalism and sectarianism.


The Socialist Party recognises the existing reality of the two states in Ireland. We see no useful purpose being served furthering divisions along the lines of ethnic or national origin and will work to bring about a consciousness in the working class of the main division of society – that is the class division between the capitalist class and the working class.

There is also a revealing snippet on page 2 under the Red Herring column where it notes:

Latest defection from the “United Ireland Socialist Republicanism” is the historian C Desmond Greaves. At a recent seminar he said ‘At least in in the 26 counties, the government structures which exist are independent and would allow for the establishment of socialism. Mind you. I am not saying you would find the going easy, but it would be possible.’
Thank you Mr. Greaves, we never expected it to be easy.

The Left Archive: “Socialists Against Nationalism” Campaign Leaflet c.1979/80? Socialist Party of Ireland, British and Irish Communist Organisation, the Limerick Socialist Organisation. July 14, 2008

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO), Irish Left Online Document Archive, Limerick Socialist Organisation, Socialist Party of Ireland (SPI).


All the greats – eh? A short document this week only four pages long. Socialists Against Nationalism, a ‘campaign’ group established in the late 1970s/early 1980s by the Socialist Party of Ireland (not, I hasten to add the current SP), the British and Irish Communist Organisation, the Limerick Socialist Organisation and ‘individual socialists’. As far as can be determined this was the precursor of the Democratic Socialist Party, led by Jim Kemmy, which later merged with the Labour Party.

As a campaign how long it lasted and how successful it was is unclear. Although as regards the latter point it is worth reflecting on how many a left (or later liberal or right-wing) Irish political career clearly drew a degree of inspiration from the sort of analysis put forward here, that the only way to working class unity was by eschewing the ‘call for a 32 county Socialist Republic [which] is nothing more than the old nationalism newly dressed in a socialist guise’. Actually that in itself is a remarkable statement from an avowedly left-wing body given the longevity of the socialist Republican approach in Irish politics during the 20th century.

But then again, considering issues of success or failure, some the central ‘demands’ in the leaflet have been fulfilled – look at the list on page 3- although their avowed aim of extirpating ‘nationalism’ has not. But then consider again the image on page 1 which makes a clear visual linkage between the most extreme form of ‘nationalism’ and Irish nationalism. Hard in that context to take entirely seriously their idea that they wanted to ‘organise public debates with socialists and others who still hold the traditional nationalist viewpoint’, or indeed that ‘traditional nationalism’ equated with what appears to be a pogrom. And consider again the viewpoints expressed in the recent past on various historical issues which chime with that sort of viewpoint.

I can find reference to them in Seanad debate here (John A. Murphy giving an interesting analysis) and here.

Any further information on this campaign would be of considerable interest, as would any material from the DSP.

The Left Archive: “Advance” from the Socialist Party of Ireland, 1977 December 31, 2007

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



As 2007 wanes, let’s cast our minds back some 30 odd years to the heady days of 1977. The year of punk, of monarchist celebrations in the UK, a failed UWC strike. And here in Ballymun and North County Dublin we have – by way of an anonymous donation – the newspaper of the Socialist Party of Ireland from 1977. Now, it’s important to make a distinction between the SPI in 1977 and the CWI orientated SP of today. The SPI was – as a most informative, and seemingly broadly accurate wiki entry says – a sort of proto-split from Official Sinn Féin established in 1971. The SPI regarded OSF as insufficiently Marxist (one wonders at who was the ultra-leftist jibe directed – step forward Mr. Costello). However, it also considered the CPI unworthy as a Marxist party.

What is interesting is that this line led it in a curious trajectory towards engagement with a number of other groups such as the indefatigable British and Irish Communist Organisation who found like minds as regards Provisional Sinn Féin and the national question. What is of particular interest is the strong emphasis on social rights issues. The SPI campaigned for divorce, contraception and abortion.

The end point of the trajectory was the Democratic Socialist Party with Jim Kemmy, where much of BICO also ended up. Still, I knew people in the WP in the early 1980s who had joined between 1977 and 1982 in some numbers.

The wiki entry says that Eamonn O’Brien, who in this edition of Advance is lauded as the SP TD for Ballymun, managed to get 6% of the vote in Dublin County North at the election and that ‘this encouraged OSF on the parliamentary road’. Well, yeah. Perhaps. Although I seem to recall a spot of bother in 1969 over abstention which might have had a bearing on OSF’s position long before 1977.

Advance is in fact quite a professional production. The design is good. Kudos to them for the star and torches logo. I’m wondering where they swiped that particular formulation from. There is a strong, and remarkably positive, emphasis on local issues. Internationally there is an identification with Moscow line parties and a run-down of some of the glories of the centrally planned Eastern European economies. There is little mention of PSF or PIRA, but the editorial speaks of:

…the Party [making] the most determined effort yet to eliminate bourgeois nationalism from the labour movement. Its realistic policy self-determination and democratic renewal for the people of Northern Ireland is proven more correct every day as the various paramilitary groups produce ever more futile mutual slaughter and destruction. However, it is still the case that many people with progressive and socialist ideas remain blinded by bourgeois nationalism and have departed completely from Marxism-Leninism in order to favour one or other of the competing paramilitary groups.

The cynic in me suggests that this was a deliberate downplaying of their more scarifying policy on the North for electoral purposes. But perhaps there is another reason. In fairness it seems like a better read that the Irish People posted up in the Archive earlier in the year. But then, the cynic in me also suggests that that wouldn’t be difficult.

Happy New Year…

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