"Workers Republic" is more than a name: it is a political slogan. The Irish Workers' Group is the single organisation which believes that a workers socialist Revolution in Ireland is not merely possible, but the only important next step forward.
It will solve in passing all the outstanding issues of the past, defeated and
deflected, attempts at revolution in Ireland.
On this perspective we direct our resources towards building a revolutionary Marxist organisation composed of militants actively fighting the proletarian class struggle. Whatever may be our subjective failings, this is an honest attempt to build on the great heritage of Connolly and Larkin, assimilated critically and in the light of later experience. The adoption of "Workers' Republic" as the name of our magazine was part of a process of clarification in the group, growing naturally out of our politics.
But there are people for whom the revolutionary past of Irish labour, Connolly's
name - and only his name - and the title "Workers Republic", are merely convenient pieces of self-aggrandising camouflage. This gaudy plumage is emptied of all
meaning and used to clothe practical politics and ideas with which it has nothing
in common. Just as certain boneless fish crawl inside existing sea-shells for protection, they empty the content from slogans and titles, and play with carefully
selected, finely-chopped phrazes from the writings of a Lenin or a Connolly, as
with so many loose bricks to build themselves a political house to live in.
The "Connolly" Association comes to mind here. So does the recent crop of social-democratic 'converts' to their own brand of "Connollyism". And there are others. There is a minuscule 'Chinese' Stalinist sectlet which knows itself as the Irish Communist Organisation.
Up in the political hills, among the ever-growing proliferation of Maoist dukedoms,
clique chieftaincies and minor local kingdoms which have sprung up in the last 3 or
4 years, these Irish devotees of Mao and the stinking carcass of Joseph Stalin have
pitched their tent. They belong to the species of 'Highland Maoists'. Unlike some
honest militants of the CP who are repelled by the right wing politics of the Party
and attracted by the trenchant criticisms of the Chinese, for example the comrades
around 'Marxist' – unlike these lowland Maoists, the highland Maoist is generally
a bit of a crank.
These highlanders come in all shapes and sizes. Among them are to bo found some
old CP stalwarts, the strong silent men who shed salt tears into their cocoa when
Stalin's corpse was kicked out of the mausoleum, and love Mao because Mao loves Joe.
There are the scholastics, unable to believe in a prospect of genuine workers1 power,
who glorify instead the contortions of the Chinese Bureaucracy. There are the aspirant packet-Maos who have gathered a small clique to sit at their own feet and who
compete together, outbidding each other in developing the inherent absurdities of
their positions just that bit further - ever further.
All of them arc characterised by sectarianism, passivity, pedanticism, ludicrous and
senseless text-chopping. Some of thorn deny that the British, West European and US
workers are exploited at all. They mouth platonic sympathy for a bonapartist dictatorship thousands of miles away, committing themselves to nothing, snobbish about
their alleged Marxism. Sipping their orange juice, they savour the fading glories
of the Stalin dictatorship in Russia, political necrophiliacs sensuously sniffing
and fondling the decomposing carcass of the Dictator himself, impudently identifying
all these horrors with the DICTATORSHIP OP THE PROLETARIAT (i), hopefully looking
for a repeat performance in China.
A leader of one of the Mao-sects on the lower slopes of the highlands described
them as: - "...concealed, conspiratorial and impotent groups at war with one another
merely for the purpose of personal prestige and dominated by neurotic phrase-mongers,
the mainspring of whose energies is not political conviction but merely the need to
extract a little soothing syrup for their hard-pressed egos and inferiority complexes by posing as 'leaders' and 'makers of history'". That sums them up.
SNATCH AND GRAB
Most of our readers will not have heard of the I.C O, and if it were possible we
would spare you the ordeal of seeing Stalinism stripped naked. Up to now we have
ignored them, despite the fact that almost every issue of their paper "Irish Communist" contains an attack on the "counter-revolutionary Trotskyites of the
I.W.G." To argue, two people need a common language - and with the mind-bending
nonsense of the I.CO. we have nothing in common. How can one argue with people
for whom the real world is lost in a mystical fog, or seen only through the fixed
patterns of a Maoist mystery play. But if there is some virtue in ignoring people
like the I.CO. up to a point, there also comes a time when they must be -picked up
and shaken a little - in the interests of political sanitation.
That point for us was reached when the I.C.O. responded to the announcement in the
February Irish Militant that this magazine's name .is now Workers' Republic, by
issuing a new fortnightly broadsheet called.... Workers' Republic. From internal
evidence, the hasty production, etc., it is obvious that the point of this slightly
ludicrous exercise in snatch and grab was to get "Workers Republic" as a piece of
decoration for the I.CO.
This curious publication consisted of just one foolscap sheet: the name Workers Republic and a single essay rehashing the well-known history of the title. In other words - "I am The Workers' Republic!".
If the I.C.O. honestly came out for the Workers Republic it would be good and
we'd be very pleased. It might lead thom to reconsider some of their other positions
and move away from the crank fringe of Maoism. It would be very good – but it isn't
true. It's still the same I.C.O., even in the new suit of clothing it tried to snatch.
Only a few inches down the page from where someone had put the stolen title,
Workers' Republic, the real politics of the I.C.O. forced them to deny it categorically and talk about another, quite different, 'Republic'. Paying lip-service to
the Workers' Republic, the I.C.O. advocates for the immediate future a PEOPLE'S
REPUBLIC Their banner-snatching emerges even on their first page as a bit of political conmanship. After all, that's the purpose of symbols and ideas for Stalinists, isn't it?
Look what fun they've had for 40 years with the embezzled moral capital of the October Revolution!
What is this PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC ?
The I.CO., under their Great Helmsman Brendan Clifford, hold that the "Main contradiction" in Ireland is not between workers and capitalists, but between the "Irish
Nation and Imperialism". The bourgeois revolution is yet to be completed in Ireland,
and this process will culminate in a "Joint Dictatorship Against Imperialism" of the
anti-Imperialist classes - ie The People's Republic.
To attain this glorious goal, the proletariat must accomodate politically to the other well-known revolutionary classes, such as our old friends the National Bourgeoisie - or sections of it, and the petit bourgeoisie. The People's Republic will be a stepping stone to the eventual workers' Republic. The workers will lead this class alliance, though naturally immediate socialist slogans cannot be raised because that would frighten the 'National bourgeoisie' and generate class struggle, which would soon blow to smithereens the National alliance against Imperialism and the supra-class People's Republic.
But Clifford doesn't need socialist slogans to build a workers' party, nor, for that matter, any connection with the workers and their struggles. The working class will follow his leadership from sheer awe at the volume of his turgid Stalino-Menshevik prose.
And if you aren't convinced that this is the only way to achieve the Workers'
Republic, just look at the alternative: class struggle against fellow Irish anti-Imperialists like Fianna Fail Taoiseachs Sean Lemass and Jack Lynch, or your boss. Class alliances with other workers in foreign countries. Disruptive raising of premature socialist slogans and demands. That is the only other way - and that is the way of the counter-revolutionary
A HEALTHY CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS
So, if you are a backward worker who spits on the ground after your boss has passed
by — catch yourself on! Remember, he is an Irishman too? A member of
the National Bourgeoisie. He might even be a supporter of Sinn Fein. The counter-revolutionary Trotsky bug is a deadly disease. Pull yourself together man, and have a good brainwash, before it gets a hold on you!
Next time you see him, a worried frown on his poor face through thinking too much about his contradictions with Imperialism - don't spit. Develop a healthy Maoist class consciousness. Walk up to him, put you arm round his shoulders, kiss
him on both cheeks and ask him for a class alliance to build a People's Republic.
He'll appreciate that. Afterwards you can go to the pub together, chanting that old revolutionary slogan: "People of the World, Unite!"
The beauty of the I.C.O. Road To The 'workers' Republic is that it is so easy. No
need to make a strenuous effort to organise a hardened socialist party to fight the
bosses - Clifford has an easier way than that. First, the workers must fight for the People's Republic. The foolish, soft-headed "National Bourgeoisie" must be codded into lining up for a war against the Empire under the leadership and control of the working class. By repeatedly playing "Ireland Mother Ireland" in the streets of Dublin, they will be induced to isolate themselves, with British Imperialism at their front and the workers at their back,waiting patiently to be expropriated once the gates have been slammed on Imperialism. For this purpose the I. CO. is saving its pennies (and rumour has it that Sinn Fein's Roy Johnson has offered a loan) and will shortly turn itself into a four-man Brass Band; Clifford, of course, will have his very own trumpet to blow.
The People's Republic against Imperialism is the web into which the crafty proletarian spider lures the poor gullible National Bourgeois fly. Isn't that clever? "Away with all this counter-revolutionary Trotskyite nonsense about fighting the Irish bosses", says Mao Tse-clifford to the three and half workers who sit listening at his feet. "Just sit with me and wait for the day when the National Bourgeoisie will take up my invitation to cut its own throat - after that we can talk about socialism and the Workers Republic."
You still can't picture it? Well, this is the scene, captured one night by a remarkable feat of modern technology, from the murky depths of Clifford's mind as he
sat in his little coterie dreaming up his Grand Design. He has lately commanded
gigantic forces in Ireland which, after a Long March from Grafton Street to 0' Connell
Bridge, makes an alliance with Vivian De Valera, Sinn Fein's Tom Gill and Archbishop
McQuaid against Britain and the Irish 'commercial capitalists'. Immediately after
the English retire to their off-shore island, taking the Irish comprador capitalists with them, Mao Tse-clifford, now universally acclaimed as the "Great Supreme Commander", "Bright Sun of the Red Peasant Armies of Dublin", declares a People's Republic (De Valera - Gill - Clifford, minus McQuaid). He now has the Power to manipulate the "contradictions in the People" and at a leisurely pace establish a model Stalinist state, concentration camps (for the counter-revolutionary Trotskyites) and all. At a
certain stage of evolution this will become the Workers' Republic -- and God help
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the capitalists of Ireland, merchants, ranchers
and manufacturers alike, get on with the business of exploiting the workers, exporting meat - people and cattle - and hugging the softly padded chains of economic
interest that bind them to the declining British 'Empire.
It's a bad joke and it isn't funny - and we can't imagine how it has any more to
do with the Marxist conception of the State than the Right-Stalinist theory of
peaceful revolution. Maybe in some better world than ours there exists a supra-class Republic. For that matter, maybe Heaven exists - but no-one knows the geographical location of either the one or the other. As a fantasy, Clifford can keep
it. But in practical politics, do you want to know what it means? Then read again
the accounts of the Indonesian rivers and ditches, choked with the bodies of communists who had put their trust in a supra-class state. This People's Republic, whose parents dare only whisper its name and desperately need to appropriate an honest suit of clothes for it to hide in, is a reactionary and crippling myth.
The only thing that the I.CO. ideas on People's Republic and Maoist Revolution
can lead to is a sterile sectarian binge. For all practical purposes Clifford
is identical with the Connolly Association's Desmond Greaves, except that his accent is a little Chinese. And Greaves is not mad - he gets paid for what he does. The quarrels between the Chinese "Connolly Association" and the other one are those of two huxters on a
street corner squabbling over a pitch - both regard talk of a struggle for socialism as heresy, both tail after the bourgeois nationalists.
Who are these 'Irish Communists', who have nothing to do with real communism or
socialism, and need the name 'Workers1 Republic'to disguise their own politics?
Where have they come from, these unashamed high-Stalinist Brontosauri who still
walk among us, these last of the mighty company of bards who once sang the glories
of Djugashvili the Great, these last-ditch defenders of the old counter-revolutionary butcher? We thought they were extinct! By some freak of nature we have
before us a crystalline particle of refined political silt left behind by the receding high tide of Stalinism.
When Stalin's heirs and successors denounced him posthumously in 1956 for a small selection of the crimes he and they had committed against the working class, Jim Cannon recalled Shakespeare's lines on Caesar:
"But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he here,
And none so poor to do him reverence",
and we thought it just about summed it up. But we were all dead wrong about that:
in crawled Clifford on his knees to call us liars. Clifford and the I.C.O.
are poor enough to do Stalin reverence! They now carry the torch in Irish politics for Stalin, patron saint and life-long benefactor of gravediggers. They strive to continue his tradition. How well they succeed, at least on a literary level, is testified in the pages of their magazine.
In the I.CO. we have a little clique which devotes itself with abandon
to the grosser arts of Stalinism - shameless lying, distortion, misrepresentation,
intellectual jerry-building and demagogy, in their magazine, "Irish Communist", designated their theoretical (really!) paper. There the wonderful idealist trick-logic of the Good-Marxist Clifford is given free rein to turn any summersaults it likes. There too you will find one whole undoctored fact for every snow-flake in the Sahara desert. Initially, in its first issues, they gave the Irish Stalinist (sorry, 'Communist') a green cover the colour of arsenic: but someone must have told them it gave the game away on the contents inside, so they changed it. It remains just as poisonous.
They fly on the masthead a quotation from.....Lenin(!). "without a Revolutionary
theory there cannot be a. revolutionary movement". So don't say you haven't been
warned! Their 'theory' is less revolutionary than that of Desmond Greaves - and
since their practice is spewing out their own theory, that isn't revolutionary
either. Perhaps they want to show their high devotion by illustrating Lenin's
point. It is, of course, a negative illustration.
The 1.C.0. are the inheritors of the large mountain of anti-Trotskyist rubbish
which Stalin forgot to mention in his will. The denunciation of demon
Trotskyism, the badly tattered lies and distortions (minus the charge of being paid
Imperialist agents), all the treasures of anti-Trotskyism built up by Stalin's
Dictatorship of The Lie over decades of sustained effort, the files of ass-
orted twisting and lying to justify any treachery - all have passed into the keeping of the I.C. 0. and cram the pages of the I.C. The sole political diet of the
I.C. 0. is the great mountain of dung accumulated over 3 decades by one of the most
powerful totalitarian dung-collectors in history.
"MY OLD MAN'S A.......'"
Just how this had happened puzzled us for a time. Then the mystery cleared itself
up. In the I.C. Clifford tells his indulgent readers how he once found a great pile
of unsold copies of the Irish Democrat - while rummaging in the Connolly Association's
dustbin. (Irish Communist, May 1966 p. 18). That, of course, explains everything! Clifford rummages in dustbins. Where else could all the cast-off Stalinist clap-trap with
which they fill the pages of the I.C. have come from, except the dustbins at the
back of No. 374 Grey's Inn Road and the back of the Communist Party headquarters at 6 King Street? One day soon he will tell us also of his adventures in Communist Party General Secretary, John Gollan's back-alleyway - how he happened upon all the
once-glittering, now discarded riches of the Palme Dutt stable of hacks - all the
fools' gold for which they had sold their revolutionary birthright - and the working
But the Dutts and the Gollans could say they embraced Stalinism gradually, with-
out understanding it until too late, until they were hooked and corrupted. And
what could Clifford and the I.C.0. say? They consciously, in full knowledge, eyes
wide open, swallow down the putrifying poison! What kind of people are these
The I.C.0. clique would like to dignify itself by demanding political, social or
economic reasons for its peculiarities. The real explanation is psychological.
For example, Clifford can be seen clearly through material he contributed to a
student magazine four years ago - when he was already a Stalinist. This shows a
posturing cynicism, which makes a cult of 'demonism' and perversity. Much of it
foreshadows the full-blown posturing Maoist of today:
"To be completely honest is to admit that even honesty is worthless. Where
there is worth there is dishonesty: worth has its origin in fear and dishonesty."
And again, another concept which is very relevant to the I.C.0.:
"The strongest assertion of beliefs are needed where the greatest doubt prevails:
by our beliefs we hide our doubts from ourselves, and often by our beliefs we
hide our knowledge from ourselves."
In an essay on Freedom and human evolution he wrote the following, which he didn't
quote when he applied to join the "Ireland Mother Ireland dub" of which he
is today a full member.
"The Englishman is freer than the Russian: that is indisputable, but it only
means that the Englishman is a less complex being than the Russian. Irishmen
are freer than Englishmen: baboons are freer than Irishmen.Freedom increases
as one goes down the evolutionary scale..." (Hua, September 1962, page 24)
Well, as we were saying.... Behold the man!
Finally, we will quote Brendan Clifford giving vent to a piece of self-
knowledge on which he should be complimented. If there is any sane person within
5 miles of the I.CO., who seriously wants to fight for socialism, he should read
it very carefully.....
"A freak should surround himself with normal people: this both sets off his
freakishness, and supplies him with a solid groundwork of normality and sanity,
which will permit him to be extremely daring in creating monstrosities: in
making himself a monstrosity. A freak among freaks has nothing to build on,
no environment of normality which he can pervert, and which in the long run
will preserve his sanity despite his perversions."
("Hua", September 1962 p.l6. This, and the first two gems above, are from
a collection of self-contained Mao-thoughts entitled, appropriately,
"Pearls Before Swine". )