|Organisation:||Socialist Party of Ireland |
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This is an important document, donated to the Archive by the SPGB - for which many thanks. Dating from the 1940s [though this document may be a reprint from 1962] it clearly lays out the Socialist Party of Ireland (not to be confused with these later formations) objectives. This indeed is made explicit in the ‘Object’ from the frontispiece:
The establishment of a society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.
The SPGB is represented by this document here and the accompanying text gives some indication of the remarkable history of that formation.
The SPI, as the Preface to the Manifesto makes clear was founded in May 1949 by ‘a number of workers representing Socialist Groups in Dublin and Belfast’ who ‘met in Belfast and decided that the Groups should coalesce and form the SPI. That decision was subsequently ratified by the members of the Dublin and Belfast Groups; and so was born the first political party in Ireland to publicly and unequivocally declare its object to be the establishment of Socialism.’
There are some contemporary echoes. The first part of the pamphlet excoriates the Irish Labour Party participation in Government.
‘Nor can the Labour Party claim here that they are not free agents - that they are merely “in office but not in power”.
And it continues later…
Labour Party government has effected no change in working class conditions for the better in any country.
Likewise the document lambastes the Northern Ireland Labour Party for being ‘programmatically at one with the British Labour Party’. It continues ‘In the past the NIL Party tried to maintain its equilibrium by barring from discussion ‘the Border question’. The very fact that it was necessary to mollify opposing faction on this question amply illustrates that, despite its claims, this movement was not Socialist. Socialists see the Border as a child of capitalism and leave its nursing to parties representative of the sectional interests of the capitalist class.’
There’s a fascinating analysis of Vocationalism in the South and the ‘brand of Corporatism [which] has been finding increasing favour among the many aspirants for political power ‘down south’. And the document is very clear on the issue of Partition which it appears to regard as a chimera and where it asks…
Why should we, for example, at the cost of alienating one section of our own class, make common front with reactionary Nationalist elements, the native petty-bourgeoisie, the landed gentry, the ex-Imperialists and Fascists, who’d prefer a dog - of any nationality - to an Irish socialist? Why help t change a flag and leave the old enemy, capitalism, with its poverty and exploitation and class-border? Why should Socialists assist a clique that even now are eager to speculate with the blood of Irish workers in the markets of international catastrophe?
And it is worth considering the Declaration of Principles which is printed at the end of the document.
Again, many thanks to those who donated this document to the Archive.