The main purpose of this blog is to present analysis and commentary on Irish society from a Marxist perspective. An ancillary purpose is to look at the transition from capitalism to socialism both in terms of the political programme to be advocated by left and socialist movements and the development of the capitalist system itself. If the latter is not creating the grounds for its supersession by a new society then political programmes will be idealistic constructs bound for failure.
The blog is written by someone who has been a Marxist for around 40 years. My maternal grandfather was an Irish emigrant to Glasgow and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain during the 1930s and during and after the 2nd World War. He was a union member who lost his job more than once because of his union activities. My mother was also briefly a member of the Young Communist League. Both my mother and father were supporters of civil rights in the late 1960s in Belfast and were briefly members of the Northern Ireland Labour Party in the early 1970s. I therefore come from a left-wing background defined by politics and not by nationality or religion.
In 1975, after my family had moved to Scotland I became involved with socialist politics through the International Marxist Group in Glasgow and in 1976 I joined this organisation. I returned to Ireland to go to university and joined the Irish section of the Fourth International, the Movement for a Socialist Republic, in 1978. I was a member of the MSR and the successor organisations of the Irish section of the Fourth International up until 2012.
I am therefore a Marxist from the Trotskyist tradition. I hope that this blog will in some small way help inform newer generations of socialists and that a platform will be established in which they will help educate me. Comments, including full posts on any subject, are always welcomed. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just discovered your blog via Boffy. Lots to read over the weeks ahead.
When I was active as a Marxist in Belfast 30 years ago I didn’t really register the activity of the Fourth International. In terms of union and student work it was the CPI, SWM and WP that seemed to be the main groups.
You seem to have left the FI while clearly maintaining a keen interest in their latest debates. If you want to, it would be interesting to know more about why you left and, more generally, where you think the future of Marxist politics in Ireland lies?
I hope you have found the blog interesting. If you are referring to political activity in Belfast about 30 years ago I assume you mean the late 80s, by which time the FI would not have had a presence in student politics. I was active in this from the late 70s to early 80s.
I would have two reasons for a current interest in FI politics. First, that the FI has a more democratic internal culture than many Marxist groups, and second that my writing about it has less to do with the FI itself than that the opportunity is given to address the main issues of socialist strategy that were the reason for me setting up a blog in the first place.
I left because of organisational reasons and general dissatisfaction with the hyperbolic political judgements constantly employed. When you read the latest posts on the FI Word Congress my areas of disagreement will hopefully be clear.
In terms of where the future lies for Marxist politics in Ireland, this can’t be divorced from the political development of the working class itself either in Ireland or internationally. In this broadest sense there are lots of posts which give a general indication of my thinking, but to address your question directly would be difficult. So, I might not ignore it but I’m not going to give you a good (or even bad) answer now!
In relation to the North of Ireland the links to these posts indicate my last posts that directly addressed arguments by the FI Irish section:
You might also be interested in the following post and subsequent debate with Boffy on Ireland that we had last year:
An interesting blog, there is much to read here. It is weird to see your history, as while you were in the IMG in Glasgow at the same time I was in the IS. I recall the groups had major divisions on interpretation of Marxism (thank God we we’re members of the WRP, who were nearly Maoists) and I recall those days fondly. Unlike yourself I have drifted away and see only remnants of the idealism of the left remaining in small tucked away corners and now have this nagging doubt that maybe anarchists were right all along and the Second International was a big mistake.
I look back on those days fondly myself but a good deal of that is to do with me being young and inevitably more than a bit naive. Nostalgia can cloud a multitude of sins.
I can’t say I blame you about disenchantment with the left. A few years ago an ex-member of the Workers Party here in Belfast told me he thought a whole generation of the Left would have to die off because they had been brought up in cynical and sectarian politics and would never know any better. I keep going myself because I want to learn what I wished I knew when I was younger and hope I can make some modest contribution to clarifying Marxist politics for a new generation.
Interesting blog. I was in IS (briefly) in 1972, was expelled with others, soon of whom formed the “Discussion Group”, which turned to traditional Trotskyist positions. I remember the debates about Eu/EEC membership in the UK on the left. “We” took an abstentionist position. I am not convinced that big capital has solved the national question as regards the EU, I suspect that we will increasingly see it dominated by the most powerful economy, Germany and that capitalism will still struggle to dissolve national boundaries.
You may be interested in a series of posts I wrote on the Left’s position on the EEC in the 60s and 70s including that of the IS and its position then, which is far from its current support for Lexit: