|International Socialist League of Ireland
|The Proletarian [ISLI]
|Volume 1, Number 4
|Comments on this document
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Again many thanks to Roasted Snow for the above document which is one of a number which he has donated to the Archive and which will be appearing across the next six months.
This paper was published by the International Socialist League of Ireland. The ISLI was a Trotskyist party allied to the International Socialist league in the UK, which itself had split from the version of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party led by Cliff Slaughter early in 1988, where it had been organised as the ‘Bolshevik Faction’. No mention is made of the British party in the text.
It has a varied contents, from a front page news story about a ‘Sinister Special Branch Operation’ detailing alleged intimidation of trade unionists by RUC Special Branch, to pieces on Privatisation, the Anniversary of Internment, a critique of the IRSP and a piece on ‘SF seeks change in military strategy’. It also includes ‘Perspectives of the ISL on Unionism, the working class and the revolutionary party.
Perhaps unusually for the left the paper outlines a process towards revolutionary socialism, which while clearly aspirational does outline some elements of such a transition.
It notes with some optimism:
…the scene is one of wildly oscillating positions out of which is emerging great revolutionary potential. There now exists a revolutionary situation in Ireland which can and must be fostered and transformed into revolution itself by the conscious activity of a revolutionary party giving essential leadership to an otherwise politically disorganised proletariat.
And it continues:
Only in this way can the Irish working class and rural masses as a whole unite in actin, expel British imperialism from Ireland, expropriate the Irish, British and International capitalists and set up a workers government based on soviets (Community councils).
It suggests that it will be foundation for a revolutionary party:
It is therefore urgent that an Irish revolutionary party be built out of the ISL to lead the Irish working class and its allies to revolution. In the process the corporatist links of the trade unions must be broken, the bureaucrats replaced by revolutionary fighters and the unions transformed into active revolutionary organisations.
And it exhorts readers in the following way:
Factory and Community Councils (Soviets) must be set up and organised to replace the existing bourgeois administrative structures. Unable to provide the necessary community services and facilities, the later must be smashed and their resources expropriated. Hospitals, schools, nurseries, old people’s homes, health centres, recreational centres and so on must all be taken over, staffed and run by the communities to prevent the total destitution of those communities and towards the foundational organs of revolutionary government.
The ultimate aim being:
The aims of the all-Ireland party must be the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship based on soviets, the rigid separation of church and state and the relegation of religion to the status of a private affair, the nationalisation of all banks and major farms and industries, and the implementation of revolutionary socialist poetics.
Roasted Snow adds:
I am not sure if this paper made it South of the border in any great strength.The ISL was led by Jonathan Lacey and Belfast based. Had a few activists but, with respect, with meagre resources published this and a student paper ‘Red Banner’. Adopted a typically WRP sectarian approach to the revolutionary left. The paper was sold door to door in Nationalist Working Class districts of Belfast. Was aligned to The Marxist Party in England associated with Vanessa and Corinne Redgrave. Jonathan put a strong emphasis on cadre studying dialectics via the Gerry Healy school of thought. Vol 14 very important. Yet it’s position on the republican movement was correct re; ceasefire and this before the collapse of the SU.
Apologies for the quality of the scans. Due to the nature of the original print many of the photographs are very murky.