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From another anonymous donation, and in view of the piece by Garibaldy from last week, here is an article by Henry Patterson, later of “”The Politics of Illusion”” fame, regarding Social Republicanism, about ‘The State of Marxism in Ireland’. It is taken from the 1983 “”Class Politics”” Journal, which had but one issue published. It’s an interesting piece, if only because it stakes out some territory for the line the WP would take during that period. It also has some fairly correct words to say about the nature of the WP, perhaps particularly…
“It is perhaps because that, unlike the CPI, the WP could not assume that because of its institutional links with the USSR and the international communist movement it was in a sense ‘naturally’ Marxist that it has had to being the process of constructing its relationship to Marxism, a process in which nothing can be taken for granted”.
Those of us present at the 1989 WP Ard Fhéis can certainly attest to the latter. But then one suspects at least part of the purpose of this essay is to burnish the Marxist credentials of the WP and dismiss those of the CPI. That may well be true, and one wonders what the significance of his comment that ‘since the 1950’s there has been a resurgence of critical thought in many communist parties… Unfortunately the Irish Communist Party is one of those least affected by these changes’… The 1950s, the 1950s… Now what happened in the early 1950s - say, taking a year at random, 1953 - that might have changed the nature of international Communism?
Another point he makes I think has enormous relevance to the further left in this period…
“Economism consistently exaggerates the automatically radicalising effects of economic crisis, and as it has no conception of political strategy - either bourgeois or socialist - underestimates what Gramsci referred to as the ‘organisational’ reserves of the bourgeoisie which can allow it to recover from what may appear to the economist as the ‘final death agony of capitalism’”
Although this warning sits oddly with a fairly valid point that ‘the upsurge in academic Marxism since 1968 did not result in much serious work on the key question of the nature and crisis of the British state’. Perhaps the unpalatable truth was (and is) that there was no ‘crisis’ of the British or Irish states, or at least none that was close to existential.
And yet his points about exaggeration and radicalisation are worth thinking about when some of the specific issues that he points to such as ‘irredentism’ as regards Articles 2 and 3, or indeed mass unemployment in the RoI, have faded into history.