Response: A Stereotyped Picture [Extract from Making Sense, No. 21]
Organisation: The Workers' Party
Publication: Making Sense
Issue:Number 21
March/April 1991
Author:John Lowry
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

16th September 2019

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This is an excerpt from the March/April 1991 edition of Making Sense from the Workers Party. It constitutes part of an exchange between Paddy Woodworth and John Lowry of the WP – following on from an article Woodworth wrote in the previous edition, Making Sense No.20.

In this one Lowry argues that Woodworth’s piece was ‘timely, although misleading, and at times highly inaccurate contribution to the debate on the future of the WP’. And he suggests that this was misleading because it conformed to ‘the stereotyped picture of the party painted in the columns of Magill and the Sunday Tribune – that of a secretive communist organisation with a hidden agenda’.

Lowry continues that ‘it is highly pejorative to view the WP as an integral component fo the international communist movement, pledged to an unquestioning acceptance of a Soviet model and forms of organisation. In 1989 the communist world movement collapsed so therefore the WP must accept all the implications and consequences of that, so the argument goes. That is not the history of the WP, and failure to recognise this only distorts the terms and parameters of our present necessary debate.

He states:

The WP has a different and unique history from that of the orthodox communist movement. It is one that is deeply rooted in Ireland’s revolutionary republican tradition.

And he argues that after reappraisal in the 1960s there was a decision ‘by the IRA to create a party of the working class in Ireland’. He notes that international links were forged but that ‘it was not until 1983, in fact, that the WP established formal relations with any eastern bloc party – the CPSU’. He defends democratic centralism (in part arguing that Seamus Costello sought to ‘divert the party away from its course’ and that democratic centralism ‘was accepted by the members of the party as the best means of securing their rights and wishes’).

He further takes Woodworth to task for finding fault in WP condemnations about the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Féin, suggesting this is ‘exactly the return with which we have become so familiar from sections fo the so-called Irish left and FF, who can barely hide their ambivalence boards the Provo’.

He suggests that ‘the WP never had nor has any intention of hiding or denying its past’ and ‘it has only been the consistent and unflinching WP condemnations of the Provos which have exposed the true nature of the beast when all around us others were attempting to make excuses for them’.

He argues that the WP is ‘a modern democratic socialist party’ and ‘the idea that we are a communist party in the Soviet mould is a mistaken one’.

If anyone has the full edition and would be prepared to forward it for scanning we would be very grateful.

More from Making Sense

Making Sense in the archive


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  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 16 Sep 2019 12:28:42

    “so therefore the WP must accept all the implications and consequences of that,”. I wonder what some current prominent members think of that. Sure wasn’t it the CIA and George Soros who caused it. Seriously, we have had one contributor here who is an unapologetic defender of the Stasi.

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  • By: roddy Mon, 16 Sep 2019 13:38:01

    Have to laugh at his use of the word”Republican” when they had gone full blown unionist by this stage.Indeed when RTE attempted a half hearted expose of their actions,their Northern leader accused the producer of being “a Republican”!

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  • By: Gavin Mendel-Gleason Mon, 16 Sep 2019 19:04:42

    In reply to Jim Monaghan.

    Stop making stuff up Jim

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  • By: Gavin Mendel-Gleason Mon, 16 Sep 2019 19:22:23

    The Workers’ Party is a republican socialist party taking inspiration from Wolfe Tone, Jemmy Hope, James Connolly, George Gilmore, but also the non-Irish Marxist republicans Marx and Lenin. The party’s constitution calls for a united Irish socialist republic. There have definitely been people in the party who would focus more on the socialist aspect then on the republican aspect on the grounds that it was too hard to distinguish republican in the sense that we meant it from ethno-religious nationalist defenderists.

    This is understandable given the ebbs and flows of the concept of republicanism throughout the history of Ireland. Sometimes it has been very socialist and universalist indeed, but oft it has fallen very far short.

    Yet despite that, most who remain in the Workers’ Party take both of these traditions as not only important aspects of our past, but also our future, and that can clearly be seen from Ultan Guillen’s excellent recent pamphlet on 1916.

    Roddy et al. can laugh if they like, but the fact remains that this is an important component of the WP ideology.

    As for Soros and the CIA, those who believe that Soros and the CIA are irrelevant to the shape of events are living in a fantasy world. The resources they marshal are absolutely vast compared to those that even the largest communist or socialist parties of Europe have at their disposal. They have networks that deeply impact the general cultural sphere in NGOs, in academia, and in the media.

    Trying to play as though the large security organisations don’t exist is like trying to fence blind.

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  • By: roddy Mon, 16 Sep 2019 20:00:27

    Show me a media statement in any newspaper or TV / radio network where WP called for a 32 county socialist republic in the last 35 years.I don’t know why I even bother arguing with an outfit that couldn’t even muster 1000 votes in the entire 6 counties a few months ago.

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  • By: yourcousin Tue, 17 Sep 2019 12:18:09

    In reply to Gavin Mendel-Gleason.

    Did you seriously just invoke Soros in the same sentence as the CIA? Jim was being tongue in cheek, but try as I might I can’t read your reply as parody.

    I’ll just leave this here. All credit to CL as the one who posted it here originally.

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  • By: pettyburgess Tue, 17 Sep 2019 12:33:05

    In reply to Gavin Mendel-Gleason.

    Do you agree, Gavin, with the article that “it is highly pejorative to see the Workers Party as an integral part of the international communist movement”? Or that “the idea that we are a communist party in the soviet mold is a mistaken one”?

    Certainly the claim in the article that the WP never sought to compete with the CPI for the Eastern Bloc “franchise” can’t be credible to anyone who has read the Lost Revolution, right?

    As for “Soros and the CIA”, are these really the same thing? Didn’t the WP spend decades denouncing the tendency of leftists far far away to look at Ireland, decide that the only issue at stake was imperialism v anti imperialism and start cheering for the Provisionals? How does that square with geopolitics by numbers anti-imperialism when you are the leftists far far away?

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  • By: tafkaGW Tue, 17 Sep 2019 13:58:48

    In reply to Gavin Mendel-Gleason.

    Soros and the CIA? Oh FFS. Are the WP taking funding from Orbán now?

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  • By: Dr. X Tue, 17 Sep 2019 14:57:59

    In reply to tafkaGW.

    Lads, I used to work for George Soros – or at least my teaching post in 21st century Russia was paid for by him. And not once was I ever ordered to teach according to the party line of Dr. Soros, the CIA, or anyone else.

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  • By: Joe Tue, 17 Sep 2019 16:28:59

    I had those issues of Making Sense back in 1991. I remember reading the articles. Both well written and revealing. Revealing that the WP had been, all along, a coalition of various competing and coalescing and shifting strands.
    The WP then was a pretty different thing to the WP now. Smaller now for sure. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t still different strands within it. Not necessarily a bad thing or as Lenin said in the second, unpublished, draft of ‘What is to be done’: “Ah but was it all so different then, or has time rewritten every line?”

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  • By: yourcousin Tue, 17 Sep 2019 16:48:02

    In reply to Dr. X.

    Dr. X, if that is your real name.

    Isn’t that exactly what a CIA/Soros plant would say?

    I think a couple months in the gulag would help “adjust” your attitude.

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  • By: Pasionario Tue, 17 Sep 2019 17:06:37

    In reply to Dr. X.

    Ditto. And I have fondly referred to him as “Uncle George” ever since. The Soros Empire in my experience mostly consists of well-meaning and not very well-paid liberals scattered across its various quangoes who put an awful lot of effort into achieving not very much whilst engaging in furious bouts of office politics. The CIA does not, I suspect, give a flying flamingo about what they’re up to.

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  • By: Dr. X Wed, 18 Sep 2019 08:04:41

    In reply to Pasionario.

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