Irish Stalinists

Gary Maclennan g.maclennan at SPAMqut.edu.au
Tue Nov 7 19:39:47 MST 2000



Philip is the expert here or at least he knows a hell of a lot more than
me.  But just a few random comments might help.  The very brief contact I
had with the CPI or rather Des O' Hagan has already been touched upon.  The
Protestant Communists he talked about were really the Barr family which was
based around the Belfast Shipyards.  At its height in the 60s the yards
employed 10, 000 workers of whom some 500 were Catholics.  There were
regular outbreaks of violence against catholic workers and always an all
pervasive discrimination.

The politics of the Protestant Communists (and people have to understand
that this is a necessary label in the context of N. Irish politics) were
classically reformist.  The politics of the Southern Irish communists were
exactly similar except their orientation was towards collaboration with the
Southern Irish Bourgeoisie rather than with the British ruling class. The
interesting case is that of the  the Ulster Catholic
communists.  They  were in something of a bind especially when the Civil
Liberties struggle of the late 60s broke out.

O'Hagan's great hero was of course Connolly. I also remember him
complaining to me that the CPI did not have a direct line to Moscow but had
to go through London. -

Ah the joys of "actually existing socialism".

We should also spare a thought for Irish Maoism.  They supplied the
Imperialists with the "Two Nations theory", which Conor Cruise O'Brien took
up.  They were truly a shameful mob.

I do though remember an election  debate in 74 on TV between some Maoists
who were standing for parliament for the first and last time. All the local
parties were represented.  The Maoist spoke in a way that no one could
possibly understand a word of what he was saying.  The local Loyalists and
Unionists ignored him, but John Hume the Catholic Moderate took a different
tack.  He could not disguise his anti-communism.  He kept interrupting the
Maoist and was absolutely spitting with hatred.

But the Maoist was unable to exploit this.  He obviously understood nothing
of the contradictions in the people!

regards

Gary








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