Ireland's Victory Means Britain's Defeat
Date:June 1980
Organisation: Revolutionary Communist Tendency
Series:Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets, Number 7
Author:Mike Freeman
Collection:The British Left on Ireland
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

20th February 2012

This document, no 7 in the Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets series and published in 1980, was produced by the Revolutionary Communist Tendency, a precursor of the Revolutionary Communist Party and a split from the Revolutionary Communist Group which had emerged from the International Socialists.

This document takes a forceful approach to the situation in Northern Ireland. It argues:

This pamphlet is our response to the deadlock in Ireland. The success of any British solution depends on the defeat of the national liberation movement. The opposite is also true: Ireland’s victory means Britain’s defeat. The left’s middle way – a British scheme to bring peace and progress to Ireland – is an illusion which can only give credibility to whatever solution the government finally devises. Our object is to win the support of the British working class for the struggle of the Irish people. The labour movement is their most powerful ally in the struggle for national independence. This steaks demands more than stirring workers’ sympathies for the Irish. It means winning their active support for the defeat of the British state.

The document presents a rather brief overview of the roots and causes of the conflict, both political and armed. It also in answer to ‘Irish Questions’, including ‘What about the Protestants?’ – accepts that ‘The Protestant community in the six counties is solidly loyal to British imperialism’ and also argues in response to the question ‘Wouldn’t there be a bloodbath?’ that ‘we accept that given the determination of Britain to impose its will on Ireland this will mean death and bloodshed’.

It addresses the central slogan used by the RCT in relation to Ireland as follows:

The slogan ‘Bring the War to Britain’ is ambiguous. On the one hand it is a call to make the Irish War an issue in the British labour movement. We are fully in favour of raising our opposition to Britain’s war in Ireland and discussing and debating the political problems it gives rise to widely in trade unions and labour movement organisation. Nobody on the left disagrees with us on this. On the other hand the slogan also implies support for a violent attack on the British state – not only in the Six Counties – but in Britain itself. This is what the left cannot accept: Its rejecting of this slogan signals its abandonment of revolutionary working class politics.

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  • By: Si Carty Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:04:52

    It is quite difficult to do justice to the bewildering fucking lunacy of the RCP. However the rumour that their attractive female membership were authorised to ‘horozontially’ recruit would mean I often sought out their paper sales. Alas it never happened for me.
    Minus the hair-gel, the USAF flight jackets and the black Levi 501s, I see elements of their journey and politics in the very different B and ICO to Irish Political Review. While BICO were never stylish they did have a habit of taking the opposite stand to the left on a variety of issues: the EEC (for), Israel (for) immigrants (against) Ulster Unionism (for). In their 21st century incarnation they not only seem to have reversed these policies but adopted some ‘denial’ positions on Armenia and Rwanda that brings us back to our friends of the ex-RCP. Plus their revivial of DP Moran’s ‘sourface’ jibs about Irish Protestants really deserves more attention from the sniffer-dogs of the nether world of political sectdom.

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  • By: EamonnCork Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:41:22

    In reply to Si Carty.

    That rumour is almost certainly untrue. I bought Living Marxism regularly from female sellers and was never approached, and I’m one of the most attractive men in Europe.
    Actually it’s a pretty sexist, laddish rumour, isn’t it? Our old friend, familiar from many right wing columns, the pimply social inadequate who’s got into Trotskyism in search of the ride from loose young leftie women rearing his head again.
    Your comparison of the RCP and BICO is astute though. There does seem to be a whole Ramones style, “whatever it is, I’m against it,” thing going on there.
    RCP’s new incarnation as Spiked often takes positions which seem to be arrived at by imagining what they’d say if they were still on the Left and then preaching the opposite, pace Myers, Hitchens, Cohen et al. I suppose a lot of the rhetoric from RCP/Spiked/BICO is so fiery because they know well they’ll never be in a position to influence anything, therefore any height of craziness may be scaled in a debate.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:48:46

    In reply to EamonnCork.

    I’ve heard the same about other formations and always discounted it re the sexist stuff.

    +1 too on RCP/BICO. And that’s spot on I think EC about the fact that they’re so far from power that it’s all entirely academic.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:49:39

    In reply to Ed.

    Poor old Nick. I still love his early stuff. But the later stuff is poison.

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  • By: EamonnCork Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:50:46

    In reply to EamonnCork.

    I’m disappointed you didn’t give me a plus 1 on the most attractive men in Europe line.
    That’s the kind of mean spiritedness which explains why the Irish Left will never etc. etc,

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  • By: LeftAtTheCross Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:55:41

    In reply to EamonnCork.

    I’ve taken to following Spiked on FB recently although I’m not sure why. It’s like they invent the most extreme positions just for the commercial shock value, and the snide tone isn’t far off the sort of stuff Ian O’Doherty writes.

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  • By: EamonnCork Tue, 21 Feb 2012 18:00:33

    It can pretty much be summed up by the line from Alice In Wonderland, “He only does it to annoy because he knows it teases.” Richard Littlejohn with added Media Studies jargon and enough strawmen to star in infinite remakes of The Wizard Of Oz.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 21 Feb 2012 18:11:56

    In reply to EamonnCork.

    I thought that was implicit in my comment EC 🙂

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  • By: FergusD Wed, 22 Feb 2012 11:13:26

    They came to my door once selling Living Marxism, apparently they were going door to door. Amazing, I wonder what response they got? I think I’m right in saying they were very supportive of Serb nationalists at the time – just when those photos came out of starving and tortured Bosnian prisoners in a “camp”.

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  • By: FergusD Wed, 22 Feb 2012 11:17:39

    Oh yeah, and weren’t they expelled from IS (SWP) the same time as us Discussion Groupers? Chalk and cheese in lots of ways. I think they called themselves the Left Opposition in IS, while we were dubbed (we didn’t take this name, naturally), the Right Opposition. We were Bukharinites apparently – not!

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  • By: Ed Wed, 22 Feb 2012 11:56:44

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    He’s the one I think was the biggest loss to the Left out of that coterie – Hitchens was a very talented writer but always a bit flashy, sneery and self-regarding, some of the others are just ridiculous figures, but Cohen was just a very good radical journalist, he was almost the only one in the Brit liberal media who was never infatuated with Blair and was laying into New Labour from the start. Every now and again I follow a link to one of his new articles and feel like having a shower, the stuff he comes out with now is diabolical.

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  • By: Michael Carley Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:41:10

    @Ed, re Cohen. I think he was always a sound social democrat with decent instincts, and you can still find that in a lot of his writing, on immigration policy, or freedom of information, say: he was attacking Blair on the creeping police state a long time ago. But then, as you say, he writes some other things that are plain mad.

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  • By: Ed Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:03:55

    In reply to Michael Carley.

    The trouble with Cohen, I think, is that he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge that there might be a single good reason for someone on the Left to oppose the Iraq war. Not just that he was in favour of it himself, but he convinced himself that anyone who didn’t agree with him was either a fool or a swine.

    So given that most people on the Left DID oppose the war, they all had to be foolish or swinish. And he’s spent the last 8 or 9 years trying to prove it. It’s pretty hard to sustain a general left-wing outlook if you believe that 99% of your potential allies are either vile or moronic. If he had just confined himself to taking swipes at George Galloway, it might have been different.

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  • By: Michael Carley Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:07:05

    In reply to Ed.

    True, and I think that has driven him into some nasty company. While I think Cohen is decent but wrong, I couldn’t say the same about Aaronovitch.

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  • By: CMK Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:17:31

    In reply to Ed.

    Whether Cohen has learned anything at all since 2003 should become clear from his attitude to war against Iran. The description of him as ‘decent but wrong’ can’t survive if he backs strikes against Iran, which are looking increasingly likely. Has he made any clear statement in support of attacks against Iran?

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  • By: Paddy Doyle Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:34:38

    Cohen is a worrying example of how you can agree with what someone writes, about say, Blair and then cringe when they write about something you actually know about. His stuff on Ireland is just terrible-the McGuinness election campaign being an example. He also wrote in ‘What’s left’ that the IRA organised the Irish Anti-war movement.

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  • By: Ed Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:34:47

    Dunno what he’s said about Iran, if anything, but he wrote a piece a short while ago demanding military intervention in Syria. Had a quick scan down the comments page and there was a lot of people saying ‘Nick, Nick, Nick, haven’t we heard this tune before?’ or words to that effect.

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  • By: Mark P Wed, 22 Feb 2012 18:09:57

    In reply to FergusD.

    The Discussion Group, Revolutionary Communist Party and Revolutionary Communist Group were all part of the same unnamed faction in IS. It was called the “Right Opposition” by the leadership.

    It was only once they were expelled that they promptly split three ways themselves. How three such politically different groups all stemmed from the same faction is something of a mystery

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  • By: From the archive of struggle « Entdinglichung Thu, 23 Feb 2012 10:06:14

    […] Revolutionary Communist Tendency: Ireland’s victory means Britain’s defeat […]

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  • By: David Miller Tue, 10 Sep 2013 20:01:21

    @MarkP and @FergusD

    Sorry I am late to this. Can you help me understand how the ‘revolutionary’/’right’ opposition came together and split. How did the Discussion Group figure in this vis a vis the RCG? And once the RCG had ejected the faction that became the RCT/P is it true that this faction split again before the RCT was formed (in early 1977) with the creation of the Committee for a Communist Programme?

    I am trying to get the history of this period right. See where I am with it here:

    Could either of you email me?

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