James Connolly wrote: “Ireland occupies a position among the nations of the earth unique … in the possession of what is known as a ‘physical force party’ – a party, that is to say, whose members are united upon no one point, and agree upon no single principle, except upon the use of physical force as the sole means of settling the dispute between the people of this country and the governing power of Great Britain.
[This is a copy-edited and slightly expanded version of the text in Solidarity replying to Lysaght.]
A dozen years on from the “Good Friday Agreement” (GFA) things in Northern Ireland are far from settled. The recently threatened breakdown of the power-sharing executive was avoided. But the Good Friday system is far from stable.
Entitled, "Irish Marxist rebuts internet slander", and "Comments on a smear job", this article by Rayner Lysaght appeared on the website of "Socialist Democracy", the Irish Mandelites. In an abusive introductory paragraph, they say that they themselves are unwilling "to join in this arcane discussion, but we do recognise Raynor’s right to defend himself and publish the letter in that spirit."
Surfing the net the other day, this writer was surprised to see his name taken in vain as being a “second-hand-tale-spinning adoptive Irish nationalist”.
Like many revolutionary activists over the ages, Sean Matgamna was an immigrant, someone shaped in his thinking by the shifts and contrasts from living in one culture to living in another.
Sean Matgamna founded the Workers’ Fight group after political battles with and within the bigger Trotskyist groups that existed in the mid-1960s, the SLL and the Militant. How did he come to do that? Or to become a Trotskyist at all?
[This is part of a polemic about the Stalinist PDP led army coup in Afghanistan, in April 1978, with "J-J" (Jack Conrad/John Bridge/John Chamberlain) of the Weekly Worker Group "CPGB").
There are striking parallels between the SWP's attitude to Islam over the last period and the way the Communist Party used to relate to Irish Catholic immigrants in Britain. I had some experience of that.
For a while, over forty years ago, I was involved in the work of the Communist Party among Irish people of devout Catholic background in Britain, people from the nearest thing to a theocracy in Europe, where clerics ruled within the glove-puppet institutions of a bourgeois democracy.
The striking thing about this collection ("The Communists and the Irish Revolution", edited by Rayner Lysaght) is that one of the key documents reproduced here "The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination", 1915 — one of Lenin's most important texts on the national question — has been bowdlerised so that the meaning of what Lenin wrote is transformed into its very opposite.
The words in square brackets below have been excised from Lysaght's text:
Review of the film Hunger
Whatever your opinion of the Irish Republican movement, and we have criticised it over many years, the events that took place inside the Maze Prison remain an incredible display of political courage. The film Hunger, coming eighteen months after the famous “Chuckle Brothers” scene of Ian Paisley sitting beside Martin McGuiness, gives some historical context to the cozy bourgeois relations now enjoyed by the leaders of the IRA and DUP.