Workers Unity – Only Way Forward!
Date:1974
Organisation: Labour Party Young Socialists
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

2nd August 2010

Many thanks to Jim Monaghan for this document. Originating with the Labour Party Young Socialists and dating from the early 1970s this document is notable because the LPYS, the youth section of the British Labour Party, was effectively a part of the Militant Tendency within the Labour Party during most of the late 1960s and 1970s and through to the 1980s. The document itself was issued by the LPYS Irish Campaign Committee and deals with the conflict in Ireland. But a brief perusal of this short four page text would, from the policy positions adopted centre it within Militant thinking on the issue.

Under the headline "Workers Unity - only way forward!" it gives an analysis of the situation that welcomes 'the Provisional Ceasefire". It continues that the LPYS...

'from the beginning of the Provisional Campaign have argued that a guerilla campaign in N.Ireland would lead only to defeat and demoralisation. Any organisation that turns away from the road of the mass struggle and the involvement of the workers in their own liberation, courts disaster and defeat. Particularly in N.Ireladn where the working class was already divided on a sectarian basis, a guerilla campaign coming from one side of that religious divide could only further deepen that divide".

The stated aims of the LPYS Irish Campaign are:

• An end to the Tory Bi-Partisan Approach: For Socialist Policies and support for the Irish organisations of Labur. • For a Trade Union Defence Force to defend all Areas, Catholic and Protestant, from sectarian attacks and to defend workers while going to and while at work. • Withdraw the Troops • End Internment and all repressive legislation • Release all political prisoners in Ireland and Britain • Trade Union rights for the Armed Forces • For a Conference of Workers Organisation from Ireland and Britain to forge unity in Action against the common enemy of capitalism

The rest of the document deals with Unemployment - North and South, Housing in Northern Ireland "The Worst Housing Crisis in Europe" and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

It concludes the main article with the slogan...

"For a Socialist Ireland linked to a Socialist Britain!"

More from Labour Party Young Socialists

Labour Party Young Socialists in the archive


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  • By: ejh Wed, 04 Aug 2010 16:16:05

    I am surprised this discussion has managed to extend over two afternoons as normally it is resolved so quickly. One particularly expects the term “Kronstadt”, for instance, to act as a calming influence

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Wed, 04 Aug 2010 18:35:53

    In reply to Mark P.

    I’m not sure one could limit the Provisional campaign to just those two tactics you mention. It seems to me that they went quite some way beyond them encompassing a broader range of activities. As for it never ever working, hmmm… In total – absolutely, but in part? I can’t help but think that we wouldn’t be seeing SF ministers in a certain administration if it had no effects.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Wed, 04 Aug 2010 18:45:24

    In reply to HAL.

    Well yes in a perfect world, but as one who was in and out ofBelfast regularly in the 1980s and saw first hand just how oppressive the security forces could be on a daily basis I think that it’s actually easy to see how that would generate negative responses, quite apart from other effects we’re not even touching on here such as the political isolation of nationalists north of the border, pre existing militarist tendencies, sectarianism and so on. I’ve huge admiration for those who avoided or eschewed certain responses to that but I’d be loath to say that in a certain context I would be sure I might not have done otherwise.

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  • By: fergal Wed, 04 Aug 2010 20:21:03

    Mark P,I don’t think the Kronstadt rebellion was anarchist,far from it.Only one or two of the sailors on their Revolutionary Committee was anarchist(“Izvestia of Kronstadt”/Voline’s “Unknown Revolution”).Trotsky ordered the crushing of the rebellion,”shoot them down like partridges” but it was Tukhachevsky that carried it out.But what’s a few hundred dead working calss sailors dead( or was it 1,000, 2,000?)and thousands of more fleeing to Finland.Tukhachevsky eventually got done in one of the purges in the 30s.
    The crushing of Makhno was a different matter with interestingly enough an assassination attempt by the Cheka on Makhno,peasants massacred and villages burned by Trotsky’s brave Red army.But as MarkP puts it this was just “a regular army engagement(A Skirda “Nestor Makkhno-The Cossack of Anarchy)
    neilcaff-I couldn’t care less about” the Marxist view of individual terror”,this is not to deny the genius of the man;Krontadt and the Ukraine were power grabs/consolidation by the Bolsheviks as they monopolised lives in the USSR,but here’s my central point;those who follow Trotsky are not the best qualified to be talking about how useful a campaign of violence is/was when their main man helped to kill off all Left opposition(anarchists,Kronstadt sailors,Mensheviks,Left Socialist Revolutionaries,peasant armies)after October leading to a bloody and brutal dictatorship in the USSR,socialism becoming a dirty word
    and indeed Leon himself being killed in Mexico.

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  • By: Mark P Wed, 04 Aug 2010 21:00:21

    In reply to fergal.

    Predictably, Fergal, you don’t seem to have understood the responses to you. The reference to anarchoid gibberish was not a description of the sailors of Kronstadt, but a description of the utterly irrelevant stuff about Kronstadt you were adding to the thread. A certain breed of anarchist seems to feel an almost medical compulsion to start waffling uselessly about Kronstadt once every ten or so minutes.

    The rights and wrongs of Kronstadt – which whatever else you have to say about it was a traditional mass battle – are not relevant one way or the other to a discussion of the efficacy of small organisations of radicals using campaigns of bombings and assassinations to take on an advanced capitalist state. The Makhnovists are of relevance only if you were trying to explain the difference between a peasant-based guerilla force and individual terrorism of the ETA/PIRA/CIRA/RIRA/INLA/RAF/etc variety.

    I’m not particularly interested in your obsessions, but I am a little curious as to what exactly sets off the anarchoid pavlovian response. Is it the use of the words “Trotsky” and “violence” in close proximity? Perhaps I should go over to the anarchist black cat forums and conduct an experiment

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  • By: fergal Wed, 04 Aug 2010 21:18:40

    Mark P,it must be the use of “trotsky” and “violence” in close proximity!Hope I’ve saved you a trip to the black forums.

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  • By: neilcaff Wed, 04 Aug 2010 22:02:43

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    I think the nub of the argument is the analysis that lay behind the choice that was made either for or against armed struggle.

    It seems to me Militant called it right from 1969 onwards as far as armed struggle is concerned and set out what it believed was the socialist alternative. Ever since then it’s been pilloried by certain left goups for not supporting the armed struggle. This is despite the fact I’ve yet to see a convincing argument put forward by any of these groups as to how armed struggle might have succeeded.

    I think the question we should consider is what should the left do if/when another period of violence and polarization opens up in the North? Will the lessons of history be learnt or will the left once again be swept along by the prevailing mood in one of the communities?

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  • By: HAL Wed, 04 Aug 2010 22:31:00

    In reply to Mark P.

    Did Militant call for a British withdrawal and a united Ireland did they have a written constitution where they stated they saught a united Ireland.

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  • By: Mark P Thu, 05 Aug 2010 00:00:34

    In reply to Mark P.

    You can go and look at the copies of Militant from roughly this period in the archives here. The bannerhead reads “Militant: For a Socialist United Ireland”. It isn’t what you’d call ambiguous.

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  • By: ejh Thu, 05 Aug 2010 07:01:48

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    It seems to me Militant called it right from 1969 onwards

    Only 1969?

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  • By: Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung Thu, 05 Aug 2010 09:03:44

    […] Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) Irish Campaign Committee: Workers Unity – only way forward! (~ […]

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  • By: neilcaff Thu, 05 Aug 2010 09:54:11

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    Well from the Big Bang really, but we try our best to be modest.

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  • By: DublinDilettante Thu, 05 Aug 2010 10:11:32

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    Well from the Big Bang really, but we try our best to be modest.

    Didn’t Alan Woods disprove that one in Reason in Revolt, thereby destroying your entire theoretical underpinning?

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  • By: neilcaff Thu, 05 Aug 2010 10:15:40

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    Yes you’re right. Good old Alan isn’t as modest as us. He thinks time has no beginning or end so Militant has been right for an infinite length of time!

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Thu, 05 Aug 2010 11:39:02

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/serge/1938/04/kronstadt.htm

    Above Victor Serge on Kronstadt.As Serge elsewhere pointed out the Bolshevils has seeds of a lt of things, Stalinism was one of them. Personally I have doubts about K. I think Trotsky saw what was happening a little late. But marxism/socialism is not about clairvoyance. The Bolsheviks got boxed into a corner and this caused what happened. It was a pity that the left SRs staged a botched op. to try and resart a war with Germany. Ideally a coalition of the Bolsheviks, Left Srs and left Mensheviks would have helped preserve Soviet Democracy.
    I strongly recommend this site for thsoe interested in any aspect of marxism and indeed anarchism. It contains original texts from all the major players and not just of the marxist schools.

    I see Mark P can not see a difference between movements with mass support and elitist groups with no connections with the masses.The Spanish anarchists were really in to individual acts, but because they grouped the best and most committed.fighters in a mass movement and he tried a failed to get the Spanish Trotskyists to engage with them in a friendly manner. Alas, they preferred to engage with those who had better positions on paper and no doubt better positions on individual violence.

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  • By: fergal Thu, 05 Aug 2010 12:17:58

    In reply to Jim Monaghan.

    Looks like a great site Jim,cheers.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Thu, 05 Aug 2010 12:46:12

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  • By: HAL Thu, 05 Aug 2010 12:52:19

    In reply to Jim Monaghan.

    But marxism/socialism is not about clairvoyance

    Could’nt agree more.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Thu, 05 Aug 2010 15:24:00

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    It’s a tricky one neilcaff. I think there were justifications for the use of armed struggle in the earliest period of the conflict, particularly defensive justifications. Indeed given that the nature of the conflict changed through fairly clearly defined phases, Stormont, direct rule, an effort to establish power sharing, direct rule again, Ulsterisation, local assemblies, etc, etc, and the nature of the state response changed throughout all of these from fairly direct assaults at times, or at the very least collusion with armed militias against Republican/Nationalist areas, on to attacks such as Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday, and so on it’s difficult for me to see no scope for armed struggle at certain points during this process.

    That’s laudable about a socialist alternative, and of course they weren’t the only ones doing that either, but truth is that actual dynamics on the ground supplanted whatever prescriptions any organisation of the left might attempt to promote.

    Re your last point, I think the issue is now moot (btw, I wouldn’t pillory Militant for not supporting armed struggle – but I think the situation was more complex and the responses particularly so). It seems to me that there’s no capacity for armed struggle to either open up a space or to support political activity in any way that is positive. I’d hope that might be one lesson learned over the lifetime of the previous armed struggle.

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  • By: Left Archive: Final Agenda For the Twenty Third National Conference of the Labour Party Young Socialists (British Labour Party) – Ireland Section, April 1984 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 04 Oct 2010 06:29:17

    […] an insight into how the issue of Ireland was perceived by sections of the UK left. As has been noted here… the Labour Party Young Socialists were… …the youth section of the British Labour […]

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