British RCP and Frank Furedi

nigel_irritable mmcdon at
Tue Mar 20 20:20:31 MST 2001

> From: Philip Ferguson <plf13 at>
> To: marxism at

> Unlike much of the Brit left, which is only interested in knocking
> everything about the RCP, and claiming that the outfit's trajectory
> confirms everything they ever said about it, I still have a lot of
> for the pioneering work that the RCP did on many issues, like Ireland and
> race.

The RCP characteristic which garners most respect from me was their
ambition. The best example I can think of is in their publications. They
realised that no matter how brilliant the content of your publications is,
it doesn't matter one little bit if nobody reads them. They saw that far
left publications tend to share two major problems, regardless of content -
appallingly unattractive appearance and poor circulation methods. With an
organisation which was probably significantly smaller than the present day
Irish Socialist Party (the CWI section of which I am a member) they managed
to produce a fantastic looking magazine with a relatively mainstream
distribution network in newsagents. That, whatever you think of their
political trajectory, was an impressive accomplishment. It didn't hurt that
the writing style was sharp and nearly cliche-free. The title, "Living
Marxism", was good too.

I'm not suggesting, by the way, that anybody follow that route exactly. The
RCP could devote all their time and energy to their publications because
they had no support and no responsibilities. Their publishing apparatus had
a distorting effect on such a small organisation. I do think that something
can be learnt from their ambition, though.

At present, the Socialist Party produces three regular publications.

The "Fingal Voice" is an irregular 16 page community paper we distribute to
40,000 homes in North Dublin. It's a good concept, well executed and
provides us with a way of communicating with our more passive support in
our strongest electoral area (covering the bases of our councillors and our

The "Voice" is our monthly party paper. It's solidly written and edited and
thankfully eschews the screaming tabloidisms of some other left wing
papers. The main problem I have with it is that it sometimes appears to try
to do too much and perhaps should be more specialised. Internal party news,
agitational front and back pages, an in depth two page article, a socialist
education column, strike and union news etc. All important content, but
sometimes it doesn't seem clear who precisely the paper is aimed at. A
lesser problem I have with the paper is its title. It's frankly dull.

"Socialist View" is our revamped quarterly magazine, replacing "Socialism
2000". The new name is an improvement, but is still a bit poor. That aside,
I'm looking forward to getting hold of it (the first issue came out a
couple of days ago). In theory, the magazine is an excellent idea which
will give us a forum to go into our analyses and ideas in greater depth.
I'll let you all know when I read it.

Is mise le meas,
Brian Cahill

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