Labour and Socialism
Organisation: Liaison Committee of the Labour Left
Author:Brendan Scott
Contributor: Info
Noël Browne
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: Labour Party

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

22nd June 2015

Many thanks to Peter Mooney for donating this document to the Archive – one of many from his collection that are being posted to the Left Archive this year and next.

This is an unusual document, an essay by Brendan Scott with an appreciation of Scott by Noel Browne. The document itself was first published in 1973 and the frontispiece notes:

This essay is published as a simple tribute to Brendan by his comrades in the Labour Party Liaison Committee of the Left. his great impact in the path was through his speeches and lectures as he was primarily a teacher. This booklet will recall the fundamental so what he taught to those who knew and learned from him. For a new generation it will start again the debate and action on those ideas. In that way it will be his epitaph.

The essay asks amongst other questions, ‘what stage of development has now been achieved by the Irish people?’. It also touches on the conflict in the North and it discusses the increasing usage of the term ‘social democratic’ by the Irish Labour Party. It also notes:

We are also told time after time by Coalition Europeans, ‘Seven Days’, John Healy, Michael McInerney etc, that all the Social Democratic parties have been in coalitions; that in fact coalition is almost a sacred principle of social democracy.

And he quotes those who ‘probe for the reasons for revisionism and de-radicalisation within the European Social Democratic Parties’.

He notes that there is a very wide gulf between egalitarian and meritocratic social democracy. The former wants to get rid of privilege – the latter wants to change the rules on how privileges are allocated. Socialism seeks classlessness, Social Democracy is content with class mobility. Socialism wants industrial democracy, Social Democracy is prepared to live with a private sector dominated economy, provided there is a welfare service safety net. Socialism sees the cause of inequality as the capitalist system – Social Democracy believes it can run the system better than the capitalists.

There’s much more, including his criticism of the danger of ‘Social Democratic involvement in coalitions is the tether which this places on affiliated trade unions’ to class politics and other criticism of the ‘profound hatred of our socialist sects’.

The appreciation by Noel Browne is unabashed, speaking of Scott as ‘a revolutionary Marxist in the barren political wasteland of this Republic with its thousands of one-time socialists with nothing but guilty consciences to show for it’ and that ‘all that is certain is that we cling to our socialism, we owe this to our comrades everywhere in completing the giant jigsaw of world revolution’.

Just to note that Scott is mentioned here  as someone ‘who was advocating co-operation between Labour and the republican movement’. We’d be very grateful for any further information on Scott and this publication.


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  • By: John Cunningham Mon, 22 Jun 2015 08:49:08

    Recently, while checking up something else, I came across this obituary of Brendan Scott, by Kader Asmal, in Irish Times, 21 September 1973

    Born, Easkey, Co. Sligo in 1933. Spent early adulthood in England, where he was politicized. Returned to Ireland in 1959 to take a job as a History teacher at Sutton Park school in 1959.

    Asmal wrote: “As a brilliant teacher he developed in his students the belief in self-enquiry and democratic self-government. His abiding interest in History was reflected in his work as a History tutor at UCD and a lecturer in history methodology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. In 1969, he wrote and presented a pioneering series of programmes for Teilifís Scoile which gave him great pleasure and satisfaction. His creative talents were seen at their best during this period. But his greatest passion was politics. He threw himself into the changing Labour Party of the 1960s and played a great and important part in the formulation of the exciting new policy document that emerged before the General Election of 1969.”

    There’s more detail on his political work and views.

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  • By: John Goodwillie Mon, 22 Jun 2015 09:58:54

    I suspect the reference to co-operation between the labour and republican movements dates from the period in 1969/70 when Brendan Scott was active in the Socialist Labour Action Group which demanded the implementation of a Labour Party conference resolution calling for a labour and republican unity conference. This conference was eventually called by those who left the Labour Party over coalition after its 1970 conference: it set up the Socialist Labour Alliance. Brendan Scott was one of those who did not leave the Labour Party.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:52:17

    I think the late Matt Merrigan had a lot of time for Scott.

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