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Many thanks to Jim Lane for allowing us to present this, one of a series of People’s Voice’s issued by Saor Éire (Cork) during the late 1960s which joins other editions of that publication in the Archive.
The front cover of this edition has a worker posting up a poster with Forward to Socialist with Saor Éire written on it. The document is twelve pages long.
Some pieces address the events in Northern Ireland directly – particularly the Civil Rights campaign which was gaining momentum. It argues that:
LET US GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT. The trouble in the 6 Counties arising from the machination of British exploitation. To suggest that Britain should now rectify the more blatant results of this exploration is, first of all, an admission of her continuing right to rule in Ireland; and secondly, it constitutes a pre-acceptance of solution which, perforce, must be based on British interest and not on those of Ireland.
WE ARE BY NO MEANS AGAINST agitation for civil rights; but we ask: “What concept of civil rights is advocated?” Are we to take it that the McAteer’s, the Fitt’s and the Sinclair’s are willing to concede the right of British rule in Ireland, if only British law functions as ‘impartially’ here as in Britain itself? Are we to believe that such “political leaders” are in fact ready to sell the national identity for the price of being treated as regular British subjects? It certainly appears so, if we are to accept what they have said publicltly, more than once.
IN OUR BOOK, THE QUESTION OF CIVIL rights can, in the long run, be fought more successfully within the context of National rights, than when it is pursued at the cost of throwing the National question overboard as is now the case There can be no real basis for civil rights in this country – and the 6 Counties is still part of Ireland – until the machinery of congestion has been dismantled. And there can be no real guarantee of civil rights for the mass of the Irish People, until the state is founded on the people’s interests.
The piece continues that socialists can participate in civil rights campaign, or even lead them, but it clearly cautions them to keep national demands front and centre by pointing to the ‘basic cause rather than through an accommodation with their source’.
There’s also a long piece on Marxism and the ‘people’.
WHEN WE SPEAK OF THE PEOPLE, AND of the People’s revolution, we do not gloss over or ignore the Peculiar characteristic of the non working class strata, nor the contradictions which exist between the working class and the other elements which make up the People in this particular stage of our historical development. These contradictions exist, and they will have to be resolved. But surely a perspective, based the relative importance of the various contradiction which best our society, must be maintained if progress is to be a reality.
And it continues:
THE STAGE HAS NOW BEEN REACHED in Ireland where we must clearly differentiate between those who dabble in Marxism as an intellectual exercise, and those who are consciously attempting to relate the theory of Marxism to the solution of national problems. We have experienced over the past few years a breakthrough, which has finally drawn Ireland into the mainstream of 20th century political life. Marxism, which for so long had stagnated in the back alleys of our cities, has entered the country’s political consciousness. Marxists, who more often than not were seen as some sort of diabolical animal have finally established their human origins to be on a par with these of the community at large; and while their social and political remedies are not necessarily accepted readily, their mention no longer brings forth the holy water.
TEN YEAR AGO, IT MAY HAVE BEEN relatively simple to fool Irishmen with double-talk that passes in some quarters for Marxism. Today, they are not so green, no do they believe that action in the name of Marx invariably means action in the cause of Marxism.
A page reproduces a postcard with a cartoon and details of the Special Powers Act Northern Ireland. And it notes that ‘a little imagination could easily produce an equally effective card for use from the Free State during the coming year.’.
There are some interesting resonances, for example a piece detailing how Conor Cruise O’Brien joined the Labour Party noting that ‘the Labour Party is on the way to bourgeois respectability’. There are pieces on the Criminal Justice Bill and Land Agitation.
There is also an invitation for people to join Saor Éire as members or as helpers. The last page reprints The Watchword of Labour by James Connolly.