|Issue:||Special Irish Edition|
|Contributor:||Peter Hadden, Peter Taaffe|
|Collection:||The British Left on Ireland|
|Discuss:||Comments on this document|
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An interesting addition to the Archive today. Here we have Militant’s Special Irish Edition, from 1972.
It has to be said, this is a fairly crisp and clean production. Note the almost tabloidesque presentation and the stark photography.
But it is, naturally, the content which is most important. I won’t say too much because it’s a fairly short and easy read. But to whet your appetites, here we have a cri de couer from Militant to the Official IRA and a critique of the Provisional IRA. Needless to say neither body matches up to the exacting standards of Militant. Nor is it entirely clear from the text how some circles are to be squared. For example we are told ‘the organisations in Ireland today can be judged by their attitueds towards the Protestant workers and towards the British Labour movement. The living standards of the Northern Ireland workers are being attacked by the Tory governments at Westminster and Stormont in the interests of British capital. In this sense the plight of Catholics today in Ulster will tomorrow be the plight of workers in Glasgow, Cardiff and Liverpool’, which might seem to tip to an east/west political focus. Not at all, for we are later told that “In Ireland, the national question can only be resolved on the basis of a United Socialist Republic. The demand for socialism must be raised…”. Hard to see a clear way forward in that context. And the final paragraph doesn’t really clarify things one way or another…
“When the mass of the Protestant working class of Ulster begins to break the stranglehold of Tory Unionism, when those sections of the small farmers and workers of the 26 counties who support Fianna Fail begin to move, under the pressure of the capitalist crisis, in the direction of working-class unity; when capitalism as now, cannot satisfy even the most basic human needs of jobs, houses and comprehensive social welfare policies, then the development of a mass all-Ireland party of Labour will make the achievement of a United Socialist Republic of Ireland seem possible.”
Indeed. No problem there then.
So the answer, predictably, is workers unity, as the headline on the last page indicates. There is a laudable emphasis on the more progressive manifestations of class struggle across the 20th century and the instances - few, very few - where some nascent unity manifested itself are detailed (a line that OSF and after would also focus in on).
For those of us familiar with such things it’s interesting to see the familiar names on show here. For here is Peter Taafe (and there is Peter Hadden) writing about Two Nations…Bankruptcy of theories of O’Brien and the “Marxist” sects, that latter would be BICO to you and me.
In a way the future evolution of their approach to the North is laid out here - I’m thinking in particular of the policies of the Socialist Party.
It’s all fascinating, and if there is one problem it is that everything is shaped to a Militant agenda, rather, perhaps than dealing with the facts on the ground as it were. But, at heart it’s more right than wrong, and one cannot fault it for attempting an analysis.