Archive for March, 2014

Providing Direction Within The Revolutionary Party – Part One

Posted in activism on March 26, 2014 by The Plough & The Stars


In this article on providing direction within the revolutionary party we can learn from the ideas/writings of  a host of established revolutionaries.  Inclusion and a feeling of self-worth among all members should be fostered, which not only leads to an increased spirit of comradeship, it  preserves the revolutionary self worth of the party member and in turn aids the party collectively.  All members, where practical, should be involved in as many aspects of party activities as possible.


The ability to motivate party members is an essential component of the revolutionary party but it is a sensitive area that requires sensitive measures.  As a rule, motivation is achieved from a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, put simply, the party member should be possessed of  self-motivation but also externally motivated by their comrades/cadre and of course by the leadership. For instance, in the field of political education, the goal of which is to create better activists (and therefore a better party) if an activist were to perform badly at a particular activity, the result should not be a demoralising of the individual but encouragement in a kind of “praise sandwich” that is aimed at pointing out mistakes but in a constructive fashion, that also eg, praises their motivation, their loyalty to the party and it’s goals.  In short, demoralising individuals, eventually has a knock on effect that if not remedied eventually demoralises the revolutionary party.  Lenin in “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” recognises the ‘praise sandwich’ as a means of negating the festering of contradictions within a revolutionary party:

“every little difference may become a big one if it is insisted on.”


Establishing Discipline and Promoting Adherence to a Revolutionary Party

It goes without saying that those in leadership should provide as close to the desired example of the revolutionary as possible.  It is human nature that party members will follow the lead of positive leadership and of course by the same token follow negative examples.   Lenin, in ‘What is to be done’ stated:

 “an organization that will consist of professional revolutionaries and be led by the real political leaders of the entire people. This stands to reason. The character of any organization is naturally and inevitably determined by the content of its activity.”

Put simply, the revolutionary party should be ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ on matters of critical policy and ideological importance.  Both Lenin and Ta Power were highly critical of amateurism within the revolutionary party.


Construction Not Demolition

In simple terms,  revolutionaries in a revolutionary party should welcome what is popularly known as constructive  ‘feedback’ from members.  (However, we can certainly afford to ignore those who are constantly negative yet do little to assist the party, individuals of such entrenched dispositions only sap moral.)  As Ta Power stated:

  “we must constantly review, criticise and self criticise all aspects of our actions, policies, tactics etc keep appraising the whole situation.”

In short, if eg a business were not to regularly stock take, take in depth inventories of it’s performance, it’s future would be bleak.  Likewise, Ta Power’s words quoted above are of paramount importance for the health of the revolutionary party.  The IRSP whose membership has had the benefit of the guidance of such talented revolutionaries as Seamus Costello, Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting,  Ta Power, Gino Gallagher, to name only a few, has a potential head start (not to mention 40 years of revolutionary history) in providing direction as a revolutionary party.

Combat Liberalism (1937) Examined

Posted in Mao, Reformism on March 3, 2014 by The Plough & The Stars

The following text is essential reading for anyone who considers themselves a revolutionary socialist or a member of Marxist party.  One need not necessarily consider oneself a “Maoist” to appreciate the clarity and vision of the author’s words which are as salient today as they were when they were written in 1937 with the lures of Reformism and Neo-Liberalism all around us and claiming the body politic:

We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.

But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.

Liberalism manifests itself in various ways.

To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.

To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one’s suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one’s own inclination. This is a second type.

To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.

Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one’s own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline. This is a fourth type.

To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly. This is a fifth type.

To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened. This is a sixth type.

To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist. This is a seventh type.

To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue. This is an eighth type.

To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along–“So long as one remains a monk, one goes on tolling the bell.” This is a ninth type.

To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study. This is a tenth type.

To be aware of one’s own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself. This is an eleventh type.

We could name more. But these eleven are the principal types.

They are all manifestations of liberalism.

Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.

Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism.

People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practice it or to practice it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well–they talk Marxism but practice liberalism; they apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both kinds of goods in stock and find a use for each. This is how the minds of certain people work.

Liberalism is a manifestation of opportunism and conflicts fundamentally with Marxism. It is negative and objectively has the effect of helping the enemy; that is why the enemy welcomes its preservation in our midst. Such being its nature, there should be no place for it in the ranks of the revolution.

We must use Marxism, which is positive in spirit, to overcome liberalism, which is negative. A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses; he should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any private person, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered a Communist.

All loyal, honest, active and upright Communists must unite to oppose the liberal tendencies shown by certain people among us, and set them on the right path. This is one of the tasks on our ideological front.

Sourced from the:  Transcription by the Maoist Documentation Project. 
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Defend the Proletariat and Fight for a Workers Republic

Posted in ATOS on March 2, 2014 by The Plough & The Stars

The IRSP have consistently opposed the current cuts in social security benefits and attacks on the health system, being introduced by the well paid politicians in Westminster and Stormont. The party correctly views the latest series of cuts, currently spearheaded by the private sector’s ATOS Ltd’s vicious offensive on claimants of ‘survival’ benefits, such as the DLA and housing benefit for single people as an attack on the most vulnerable people by wealthy politicians who blatantly reap in tens of thousands of pounds in ‘expenses’ courtesy of the taxpayer.  The same right wing politicians often spend more money on subsidised expense funded ‘late’ dinners than the claimants they ironically demonise as ‘scroungers’ receive in the most frugal benefits in a month, or  more likely longer.

The age old Modus Operandi of the Ruling Class

Eighty years ago in 1932, the Stormont government were then engaged in a similar offensive against the meagre benefits paid to unemployed families and single jobless people. For a brief but significant period working-class people from the likes of the Falls Road and the Shankill united in anger in what has become known as the Belfast Outdoor Relief Strikes.

Fightback and Defend the Proletariat!

Hopefully, with Irish Republican Socialist Party activism re-energised and re-invigorated, as envisioned by Seamus Costello and the other co-founders of the movement 40 years ago, who clearly advocated a liaison with fighting trade unions of the Connolly tradition; united solidarity action yet a mindfulness of latter day ‘Walkerism’ or as Seamus Costello described it “ring road Socialism.” In short, Seamus Costello warned of those who say they oppose Capitalism but ignore Imperialism in Ireland (which VI Lenin described as the ‘highest’ [worst] phase of Capitalism.) Likewise, there is no place for fence sitting on the achievement of a unitary state such as some of the political positions of many aligned to the Brit-centric Left.  As a 40 year entity that has always been ideologically true to James Connolly’s politics, the IRSP’s raison d’etre can be readily and succinctly described in the words of the movement’s co-founder:

 “We owe our allegiance to the working class” – Seamus Costello


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