Red Action, No. 75
Organisation: Red Action [Britain]
Publication: Red Action
Issue:Number 75
Autumn 1997
Type:Publication Issue
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Discuss:Comments on this document

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

18th December 2023

This is a very useful addition to the Archive, an edition of Red Action from 1997 which joins other materials from that quarter. Although their archive is accessible online this is a particularly useful edition as will be explained.

As noted previously:

Red Action  appeared in 1981 when members were expelled from the Socialist Workers Party for squadist activities. Consequently in outlook it positioned itself as an self-avowedly forceful response to the threat of fascism and racism as well as cleaving to a strongly working class centred position. In the 1980s it joined the RCP led Red Front (as can be seen in this document from the RCP in the Archive). Interestingly it transitioned into community based politics in the late 1990s and on into the 2000s, and former members were heavily involved in the Independent Working Class Association  which went on to win council seats and only relatively recently became inoperative.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

Key to note this was produced by the English affiliate of the group, though important perhaps to note that a graphic headed ‘Join Red Action!’ has a Southern Region, Midlands Region and Northern Region in England and Scotland and Ireland. and yet the publication has articles on the conflict on this island and includes a section ‘Beyond the Pale’ that in includes reports on the situation in the Republic, including a piece on the media and political response to immigrants arriving there which notes:

As usual class lies at the bottom of the anti-immigrant feeling. Some immigrants have always been accepted and positively encouraged. Millionares lacking in ancestral connections tie Ireland can buy citizenship in the form of Irish passports… similarly large numbers of artists, pop stars and actors have been encouraged to move to Ireland by the start provision of tax exemptions for artistic activity.

And it notes that ‘the one Irish ethnic group, Travellers, are subject to both casual and systematic state racism and neglect to the extent that over 20,000 people are condemned to live in sub human conditions, endure an appalling child mortality rate and are hounded from town to town buy the respectable ‘settled’ population’. It also notes that ‘AFA has held a number of street and area leafletting and has held a national organising meeting for memes and contacts to plan an anti fascist response to the increase in racism’.

There’s also an interesting analysis on the then recent election in the Republic which presciently notes that the election of Caoimghín Ó Caoláin as Sinn Fein’s first TD in many decades while a remarkable achievement somewhat overshadowed the support for Martin Ferris in the neighbouring constituency.

More broadly with respect to Red Action the headline is entitled ’15 Years On’ and there’s a long section on ‘the development of our organisations publication over the last 15 years and seventy five issues’. As a form of history of Red Action in Britain it is difficult to better, not least because it offers an insight into how the organisation perceived both itself and the events of most significance to itself. For example it mentions how in 1988 the organisation’s membership ‘backed a proposal at conference that would fundamentally question RA’s relationship to the left and RA’s previously stated postion of standing within the ‘revolutionary socialist tradition’. Notable is the critique and criticism of the organisation’s presentation at that point in time – somewhat unusual to see this in left publications. There’s a full overview in another piece on Red Actions approach to ideology as it sought to distance itself from certain forms of left organisation and whether it was Leninist or not.

Other aspects of this issue of note are the editorial on the issue of racially motivated attacks in Britain and the BNP. Another piece looks at the then state of the ‘Peace Process’. Particularly notable is the last page which has comments on Red Action, positive and negative (mostly negative), from various sources.

More from Red Action

Red Action in the archive


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