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Role of Stalinism/Workers Party in derailing 1968/1970 movement in Ireland.

category international | miscellaneous | opinion/analysis author Thursday October 30, 2014 11:26author by john throne - Facts for working people Report this post to the editors

The three stages Theory.

By John Throne. The so-called workers party which has recently had its conference played a major role in derailing the movement of the 1968/1970 period.

By John Throne. The so-called workers party which has recently had its conference played a major role in derailing the movement of the 1968/1970 period. It was reputed to have had 15 branches in Belfast alone at the time. A not insignificant force. But it destroyed this force and with it the many excellent young people who looked towards it at this time How did it do this. Stalinism. It had the three stages theory. Not even the two stages theory but the three stages theory. First a democratic Northern Ireland. Then a capitalist united Ireland. Then a socialist united Ireland. The first time I heard this was in a house in the Brandywell In Derry. Roy Johnston was "explaining" it. I though it was utter nonsense. And so it was. The workers party if it is to have a future has to examine and break from its Stalinist past. I would be interested in how at its conference it discussed its experience where its membership collapsed in the early 1970's and also where many of its leading members ended up in the capitalist coalitions and also its support for the Stalinist regimes and its virulent hatred of the ideas of Trotsky and the left opposition. John. Throne.

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author by Nualapublication date Fri Oct 31, 2014 13:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You can judge the value of an organisation by the degree to which it frightens the ruling group and provokes the ruling group into destroying it.

On that basis, The Stickies lose, and NICRA wins easily.

The three ruling groups, north, south and mainland, were terrified of NICRA.
Above all they were terrified that the NICRA approach would spread to the south of Ireland and to mainland Britain, destroying the Haughey Gang and radicalising working class English people as NICRA demonstrated what power 'ordinary' people possess.

The three ruling groups regarded The Stickies as an irrelevancy. What they urgently needed - from their angle - was to destroy NICRA by founding, financing and arming the Provisional IRA, substituting urban guerilla warfare for the NICRA approach.

Ruling groups are fully at ease with terrorism, but greatly fear the Martin Luther King / NICRA approach. So the Haughey Gang - in their terror of NICRA - took the leading role in the founding, financing and arming of the Provos.

Then the British ruling group - allies of the Haughey Gang - ordered the British army to alienate the Catholics, to drive them into the arms of the Provos, via the vicious Falls Road house searches in 1970, internment in 1971, culminating in the master stroke, Bloody Sunday 1972, all of which were planned in advance by the ruling group and were part of the ruling group agenda to destroy NICRA by driving the Catholics into the arms of PIRA. The plan worked well. Embarrassingly well.

NICRA easily wins the beauty contest, because NICRA terrified the three ruling groups as no one else did back then, provoking the three ruling groups into destroying them.

The Stickies come bottom in the beauty contest, because the three ruling groups just ignored them as the harmless buffoons that they are.

author by Tpublication date Fri Oct 31, 2014 14:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For younger readers not familiar with NICRA, it was the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_Civil_Rig...ation for a summary

author by Paddy Hackettpublication date Fri Oct 31, 2014 20:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting brief piece. Can you offer some sources containing a more elaborate analysis along these lines? How then do you see today's Sinn Fein? And why do you relegate the Stickies to a minor role given that they were actively engaged in NICRA.?

author by Billpublication date Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nuala seems to be on a credible tack in her comments. I think elements in the Fianna Fail party feared the spread of popular activism represented by NICRA. For some years until the end of 1968 the not-yet split Sinn Fein, led by people like Tomas MacGiolla, had spearheaded protests in the south of Ireland related to fishing rights and the Dublin housing crisis. This activity was nonviolent and tended to attract support from students and other young people. Even a few clergymen got involved in the agitation.

When NICRA began marching in the autumn of 1968 and into 1969 elements in Fianna Fail funded the publication of a campaigning newspaper called The Voice of the North, printed in either Cavan or Monaghan. Editorially this paper began opposing Bernadette Devlin and the Sinn Feiners, and hinted at communist influences. Some time in later 1969 a group of Dublin businessmen paid money (at least 2,000 punt) to meet members of Dublin Sinn Fein. They offered big sums of money if Sinn Fein would confine its militancy (that word could mean more than street protests) to north of the border. Their offer was turned down at that meeting, but in 1970 other southern businessmen found other sums of money to encourage the provo splitters. And the rest is history.

The years 1968-1970 were a turning point in Ireland north and south. I leave it to others with more intimate knowledge to provide lots of chilling details about the destruction of growing popular agitation.

author by john throne - Facts for working peoplepublication date Sat Nov 01, 2014 16:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

NICRA developed as a mass movement in 1968/69. It did not march behind the banner of Republicanism or Sean South from Garryowen. It marched under the US civil rights anthem "We shall overcome." It demanded an end to discrimination in the North. This was correct as far as it went. The problem was it did not go far enough. The Loyalist politicians and organizations took this limited demand and went to the Protestant working class and said look that NICRA wants to take away your rights and privileges and put the Catholics in the saddle. And on top of that they are an IRA front. What was necessary and what people like myself fought for was to extend the NICRA movement into, yes a no to discrimination movement, and remember up to 150,000 Protestant workers did not have the vote in local elections in the North either at that time because of the property restrictions in local elections, but not only no to discrimination. People like myself also fought to extend NICRA to win over the Protestant working class by having it demand jobs for all, housing for all, education and health care for all, an end to poverty. And by opposing capitalism whether of the green or orange variety whether the north or South variety. This would have not only had an appeal to the Catholic working class but it would have had an appeal to the Protestant working class. It could have led to the building of a united movement. It could have also linked with the increased movement in the South. The South equalled Italy at that time for the highest number of days lost on strike per head of the population in Europe and there were the movements also on jobs, housing, wages, women's rights and so on. But such a movement was not built. This was because of the role of the various capitalist and nationalist and religious forces. British imperialism and their stooges the unionist movement, capitalist nationalism North and South and its ally the Catholic church, these all combined to confine NICRA to democratic demands which left it open to be used to to alienate the protestant working class.

This is where Stalinism and the Workers Party came in. It and the tiny nucleus of the Communist party which ran it for a time fought to limit NICRA to demands that were acceptable to capitalism and nationalism. The result was that whatever influence they had helped to alienate the Protestant working class. This came out of their utterly backward stages theory. They claimed that the first stage was a democratic Northern Ireland anybody who raised any demands that went beyond that was fought ferociously by the WP. The second stage which of course people like myself said they would never get to was a capitalist united Ireland. After more than 30 years of war we are farther away from this than ever. The third stage according to the WP and their Stalinist stages theory would be a socialist united Ireland. It was utter nonsense. But it sounded plausible to some.

Initially thousands of young people joined the Workers Party, attracted by its left wing rhetoric and its demagogic talk of the gun and armed struggle. But as the developments took place these young people saw that the stages theory was offering no way forward and they moved en masse to the Provos dead end of nationalism and the Workers Party and their Stalinism atrophied and became inconsequential to events. It is important to remember the role that Stalinism played in derailing the movement which had so much potential in the years 1968/1970. We learn the lessons of history by honestly facing up to them.

Look at where some leading members of the Workers Party ended up because they were not prepared to face up to their own false policies and mistakes. They ended up in capitalist coalition governments in the South cutting workers living standards on behalf of world capitalism. Stalinism in spite of its small numbers, by infiltrating the Republican movement was able to have an affect on events. But because of its reactionary policies the affect it had was to derail that movement. For members of the Workers Party who wish to learn the lessons from their own past they should look critically at their three stages theory and study instead the theory of the permanent revolution. Both Connolly and Liam Mellowes were looking ion this direction before they were murdered. And it was no accident Connolly was murdered by British imperialism and with the support of the Irish catholic capitalist class and Mellowes by the Free State forces which were the agents of the rising Irish capitalist class. Sean Throne.

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