Sunday, 18 December 2011

IRSP Protests For Maghaberry Republican Prisoners

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Mullaghcreevy Park Massacre

The Mullaghcreevy Park Massacre

The Mullaghcreevy Park Massacre occurred on the 12th December 1982 when two unarmed INLA volunteers were shot dead by the RUC's infamous E4a deathsquad. The Mullaghacreevy Park Massacre was the third of three controversial fatal shooting incidents within a month involving the RUC E4a units in mid-Ulster in 1982.

The murders of Roddie Carroll & Seamus Grew were investigated by the controversial Stalker inquiry which was eventually censured by the RUC as the report was about to be published.

Friday, 9 December 2011

To The Linen Slaves of Belfast - James Connolly

To the Linen Slaves of Belfast

Manifesto of Irish Textile Workers' Union, 1913

written by James Connolly

(This Manifesto, drafted by Connolly, was issued from 50 York Street, Belfast in 1913 over the names of Winifred Carney, Secretary, Ellen Gordon, Delegate, and James Connolly, Organiser. Connolly's activities among the dockers and mill workers of the North had been intense and fruitful since June 1911 when he was appointed as Secretary Belfast Branch, and Ulster District Organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. The Irish Textile Workers' Union was attached to the Textile Section of the Irish Women Workers' Union with Headquarters at Liberty Hall, Dublin.)

Transcribed by the James Connolly Society - IRSM/IRSP
Formatted and indexed by Workers' Web ASCII Pamphlet project

Fellow-workers,Your condition, and the condition of the sweated women of all classes of labour in Belfast, has recently become the subject of discussion on all the political platforms of England, and of long articles in all the most widely read newspapers and magazines of both countries. Almost unanimously they agree in condemning the conditions under which you work, your miserable wages, the abominable system of fining which prevails, and the slaughtering speed at which you are driven. It is pointed out that the conditions of your toil are unnecessarily hard, that your low wages do not enable you to procure sufficiently nourishing food for yourselves or your children, and that as a result of your hard work, combined with low wages, you are the easy victims of disease, and that your children never get a decent chance in life, but are handicapped in the race of life before they are born.
All this is today admitted by every right-thinking man and woman in these Islands. Many Belfast Mills are slaughterhouses for the women and penitentiaries for the children. But while all the world is deploring your conditions, they also unite in deploring your slavish and servile nature in submitting to them; they unite in wondering of what material these Belfast women are made, who refuse to unite together and fight to better their conditions.
Irish men have proven themselves to be heroes in fighting to abolish the tyranny of landlordism. Irish women fought heroically in the same cause. Are the Irish working women of Belfast not of the same race? Can they not unite to fight the slavery of capitalism as courageously as their sisters on the farms of Ireland united to fight the slavery of Irish landlordism? Public opinion in these islands is anxious to help you, but public opinion cannot help you unless you are ready to help yourselves.
Especially do we appeal to the spinners, piecers, layers, and doffers. The slavery of the Spinningroom is the worst and least excusable of all. Spinning is a skilled trade, requiring a long apprenticeship, alert brains, and nimble fingers. Yet for all this skill, for all those weary years of learning, for all this toil in a super-heated atmosphere, with clothes drenched with water, and hands torn and lacerated as a consequence of the speeding up of the machinery, a qualified spinner in Belfast receives a wage less than some of our pious millowners would spend weekly upon a dog. And yet the Spinning-room is the key to the whole industry. A general stoppage in the Spinning-rooms of Belfast would stop all the linen industry, factories and warerooms alike, Reelers and spinners united control the situation. Disorganised as they are today, they are the helpless slaves of soulless employers. United as they might be, as they ought to be, as we are determined they shall be, they could lift themselves into the enjoyment of prosperity and well-paid healthful labour. As a first step to that end, we wish to propose a programme of industrial reform to be realised in the near future, and we invite all our toiling sisters to enroll in our Society - the Irish Textile Workers' Union - whose Belfast headquarters is at 50, York Street, in order that we may unitedly, and at a given moment, fight for its success.
We demand that the entire Linen Industry be put under the Sweated Industries Act, which gives power to a Trades Board, on which employees and employers are represented, to fix the minimum wages for the whole.
Under that Act the wages of women in the Clothing Operatives Trade has been already fixed at a minimum wage of 3d. per hour. Until the extension to the Linen Industry of that Act, we demand and pledge ourselves as a Union to fight for a minimum wage of 3d. per hour for all qualified spinners, proportionate increases for all lower grades in the Spinning-room, and increases in the piece rates for the Reelingroom and all departments in piece work; abolition of fines for lost time; all stoppages to be at the same rates as the daily pay per hour.
We also demand from Government the appointment of a competent Woman Inspector for the Belfast District exclusively, in order that the inspection of our mills, factories, and warerooms may be a constant reality, instead of the occasional farce it is today.
United action can secure every point on this modest programme within less than a year. It depends upon you, the working women of Belfast. If you have courage enough, faith enough in yourselves and in each other, you can win. Most of this programme can be won by direct industrial action, by a General Strike for it if need be; the rest will be conceded by Government as soon as you show yourselves in earnest in your demands for it.
To make easy the work of organising, we are prepared to establish an office or Women's Club-room in each district, if the request for the same is made by a sufficient number of members. Take advantage of this offer, give in your name to us at this office, or to any of your collectors, and we will welcome you as sisters, and enroll you as comrades in the coming battle for juster conditions.
Should this manifesto come into the hand of any not themselves sufferers, but willing to help in the coming battle, if they communicate with us we shall be prepared to enroll them as auxiliaries, and welcome their help.
Sisters and Fellow-workers, talk this matter over, do not be frightened by the timid counsels and fears of weaklings. Be brave. Have confidence in yourselves. Talk about success, and you will achieve success...
Taken from:

Friday, 25 November 2011

Occupy Belfast

Occupy Belfast

The Occupy Belfast protest has been camped out in the city centre since 2nd October, 2011. In spite of the incoming harsh Irish winter, the protesters show no sign of moving on. Occupy Belfast is part of the global anti-Capitalist movement that began with the spark of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Occupy demonstrators are protesting against the super-rich elite '1%' whose greed has had catastrophic consequences for the majority 99%.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Command Economy by TJ O'Connor

The Command Economy by TJ O'Connor
The Command Economy by TJ O'Connor is a highly readable and well written presentation which is an excellent introduction to the subject of Marxist economics. The Command Economy avoids heavy use of academic terminology that would ordinarily be off-putting to those interested in Socialism and uses examples from Cuba, the USSR and the PRC to reinforce it's thesis.

The Command Economy can be read in it's entirety via links from this review.
TJ O'Connor is a senior member of the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America (IRSCNA), the IRSM's sister organisation in the USA and Canada.

The Command Economy


This article is taken from some online postings by an economist and expert on the Soviet command economy, with the majority of the content original work by TjOC. A bibliography and endnotes will follow.

Marx spoke of the triumph of socialist revolutions as “the end of prehistory”. By this he meant that human society would no longer be dominated by forces beyond its control, especially in economics: the chaos of the market, the inevitable wars for resources, colonies or domination, ruinous cut-throat competition, squalor amid wealth, the cycles of boom and bust which destroy entire industries and towns- all of this tragic suffering for the cause of accumulating capital. Hence, humans are not fully making their own history, but are guided by powerful objective forces beyond their control, which they are often not even aware of. Commenting on this, Che wrote “Marx's work was devoted to laying bare the essence of phenomena beneath their appearance. He sought to show how the various fetishes acquired by humanity serve only to conceal its ignorance.”

Socialism is to realize the end of human pre-history by replacing the rule of capital with conscious social co-operation as the means of co-ordinating labour. This would be realized through a planned, or “command” economy.

Its goal is not absolute equality, but the extension of democracy to macro-economic choices. This is not a utilitarian philosophy aiming for the most happiness for the most number of people, although many socialist propagandists justify it in these terms (ie, “workers are the majority”). This thinking, if followed consistently, would come to counter-revolutionary conclusions (ie, 'revolution is too much of a threat to people's happiness and well-being, so we should carry on with a few reforms now as best we can'). Marx explicitly attacked this worldview as “bourgeois stupidity” in his famous book Capital. Rather, communism is a philosophy which aims for the most complete human freedom and power ever realised.

The command economy is one in which collectively owned firms are guided by a central planning agency. It can include elements of centralized control and participatory workplace democracy.

An important and defining feature of the USSR that has often been neglected in favour of political critiques and sectarian point scoring, is the command economy that it operated on. This remains the only alternative economic model to the market to be practised on a large-scale and for much of its history was remarkably effective. Unfortunately, amongst all the discussion of "abolishing hierarchy" and "vanguards" this crucial example of socialist economic governance is usually ignored. When it is criticised it's often done so using typical liberal critiques.

In principle, central planning should be as efficient, if not more efficient, than a free market system. It doesn't have the drawbacks of built-in periodic crises ('the business cycle'), with all that attendant unemployment or inflation. It doesn't have the inherent inefficiencies of private monopolies and their artificial scarcities, nor is it tied into particular specializations which may stunt long-run growth.

A central planner can achieve an economy that is more efficient, more just and with faster growth than the free market with the correct information and computation.

In practice, Soviet Russia achieved some degree of success on all three fronts: no unemployment, most people were assured of their needs in most of its history (The Red Flag, David Priestland) and strong growth. However it also achieved some overwhelming and devastating failures (severe misallocations, famines, etc.) In many was, it was simply far ahead of its time, as market economics have been evolving more and more towards a similar system of planning. In quite a few ways now, mainstream economics favours a similar planning system based on the Soviet model and has vindicated many of its pioneering ideas.  

The Command Economy was able to transform the Soviet Union and its allies almost overnight, going from the use of the wooden plough to atomic power in one generation. This massive build-up of primitive accumulation (factories, infrastructure, technical abilities, electric power, etc.) was the most rapid and successful advancement in human history. Until the Communists put the planning system into practice in the 1930s, all of the Slavic countries (from central Europe to Asia) were still pre-industrial, third-world nations, in which semi-feudal economic relations were still dominant (with the sole exception of Czechoslovakia).  What is even more remarkable is that much of this was achieved during WWII, when the bulk of Soviet industry was packed up and moved east to escape eradication at the hands of the fascist invaders.

the workings of the command economy and its flaws

The big monkey wrench in central planning was, and is, inadequate information and politicization.

To give an example, let's say you want to increase the nation's agricultural productivity by introducing tractors to all farms. In a free market system, buying a tractor may not be profitable for a private farmer- maybe grain prices are not good enough to overcome the purchase price of a tractor, maybe the scale of his production is too small to justify it, maybe the financing is too expensive, maybe there are cheaper labour-based alternatives, etc. At the same time, the price of a new tractor may be too high for the farmer because tractor producers are facing expensive steel prices, or have problems. If market conditions do not align just right, it will not happen.

The Soviet Union had no such issues. It could simply arrange to allocate the resources for the factories to build the tractors, and because there are price controls on the machines, they become widely available and used.

However, the planning issues only become more complex from there. What if there are too many tractors and not enough fuel, and the new machines rust in the fields? Or, the number of machines and fuel are perfect, but not the correct number of trucks to take the wheat from the fields to the markets?

Many of these issues arose from the undemocratic nature of the Soviet economy, which typically ignored consumers and workers.

Command economies could be democratically planned. (more on this in the final segment) However, there must be at some level a centralized power to enforce the plans made. A very common threat to the planning system were the powerful bosses of the larger industries. These heads of powerful industries can consume too much of the resources and prevent a smooth implementation of the economic plan. This was a crucial reason the Soviet Union wasn't able to transition into a high tech economy.

The biggest failure of the command economy has been in farming. Even after largely phasing out small peasant plots, and collectivizing much of Soviet agriculture, the economy continued to depend on those small private plots for much of the country's food. This was partially because of the ham-handed and crude way collectivization was implemented from above, also because the peasants who were the most successful tended to often (but not always, of course) resist collectivization, and also because infrastructure to deliver goods to market often lagged behind- the delays in improving the poorly made, often impassable Soviet roads didn't help.  

The Cuban economy similarly lagged behind: state-run farms are not as productive as private family farms. The most viable solution under current conditions is to meet the petit bourgeois halfway. This could be a combined policy of continuing to deny the small farmers any political power, and maintain price controls, while also allowing some economic space for them to succeed, such as small market opportunities and government assistance and advice to urban farmers and family farms. This has met with tremendous success in Cuba, where govt planning and help combined with initiative from the masses has greatly improved Cuban's nutrition: 'Remarkably, this organic revolution has worked. Annual calorie intake now stands at about 2,600 a day, while UNFAO estimates that the percentage of the population considered undernourished fell from 8 percent in 1990-92 to about 3 percent in 2000-02. Cuba's infant mortality rate is lower than that of the U.S., while at 77 years, life expectancy is the same.'#

This is an incredible achievement for a poor, developing country under an economic embargo. Even under more favourable conditions, third world nations are not very successful at feeding their own populations and must usually import food. And while Cuba has improved their people's nutrition and increased food production while maintaining price controls to keep the food affordable, the cost of staple foods are going up around the rest of the world and putting them beyond the reach of more people than ever before.#

Some command economies combined centralized state control of the “commanding heights” of the economy with self-managed workers firms and market-oriented socialism, including the former Yugoslavia and Venezuela today. These systems do suffer from the inherent drawbacks of market economics: cycles of overproduction, slumps and recession. Low demand for Yugoslavian cars during the recessions in the '70's produced for export to the west began that nation's fatal decline.

the benefits of the command economy

Using the command economy, Cuba has eliminated child malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization. “No other country in Latin America or the Caribbean made as much social and economic progress in as short a time as Cuba did in the early and middle years of the revolution.”# More recently, Cuba developed a vaccine to treat lung cancer.#

Cuba began its path towards socialism when Che was a government minister in the new revolutionary state. In his speech at the Inter-American Economic and Social Council in 1961#, he outlined the first steps the new state was taking to build socialism:

Our revolution nationalized the domestic economy; it nationalized basic industry, including mining. It nationalized all foreign trade, which is now in the hands of the state, and which we proceeded to diversify by trading with the whole world. It nationalized the banking system in order to have in its hands the efficient instrument with which to exercise the function of credit in accordance with the country's needs. It provides for the participation of the workers in the management of the planned national economy. It carried out the urban reform just a few months ago, through which every inhabitant of the country was made the owner of the home they occupied on the sole condition that they continue to pay the same rent that they were already paying, in accordance with a table, for a set number of years.
It instituted many measures to affirm the dignity of the human being. Among the first of these was the abolition of racial discrimination, which existed in our country, distinguished delegates, in a somewhat subtle form, but it existed. The beaches of our island were not for Blacks or the poor to swim at because they belonged to some private club visited by tourists who did not like to swim with black people. Our hotels — Havana's great hotels, which were built by foreign companies — did not allow black people as guests, because tourists from other countries did not like it. That is the way our country was. A woman did not have anything approaching equal rights; she was paid less for the same work; she was discriminated against, as she is in the majority of our countries.
The city and the countryside were in perpetual conflict, and from that conflict imperialism drew a work force, which was paid poorly and denied steady work.
In all these areas we carried out a revolution, and we also carried out a true revolution in education, culture, and health care. This year illiteracy will be eliminated in Cuba. Some 104,000 literacy volunteers of all ages are spread throughout the Cuban countryside teaching reading and writing to 1.25 million illiterates, because in Cuba there were many illiterates. There were 1.25 million illiterates, many more than the official statistics used to report.

These are the main points to understand based on irrefutable facts:

State intervention in the economy is at the moment one of the highest ever during peacetime. It is significant that this process unfolded not by the state choosing to intervene freely through a democratic process, but essentially by being threatened into doing so by the finance capitalists. The financial capitalists threatened to destroy the world's economy overnight if they didn't get their way.  

This points to the ascendancy of state-capitalism, in which currency debts are made to absorb the costs of failed market ventures.

Confirming the above, China has seen the largest recovery of any capitalist state, due to the PRC's much larger state and planning involvement than the USA and Europe. They are still building new planned cities, which are entirely solar-powered, an impressive achievement unmatched in the lasseiz-fairytale west.  While their contemporary cutthroat exploitation of their own people is nothing to admire, China's expected economic domination is largely the result of the communist revolution there, which transformed the nation from a fractured and war-torn land ruled by a coalition of warlords and suffering from extreme poverty and chronic drug addiction into its almost superpower status.  It should also be added that China and Cuba, along with other Cuban states are the only to have successful anti-drugs campaigns.

This is a step towards socialization of production, a development which Marx predicted was inevitable. We all live in partially planned economies in which crucial state interference decides which firms survive and which don't.

Our basic issue is that socialization should benefit the general population and be tailored to meet specific goals, not a blank cheque for the same wealthy parasites who caused this crisis.

From the above facts we can logically argue that:

Socialism would offer the same socialization of costs (which can be used for economic development). It would also produce a collective command economy to meet human need. Essential to this is a rational budgetary system in which profits from the healthier firms feed capital to essential, yet unprofitable firms within a well-planned system.

This system has a good chance of succeeding where the Soviets failed due to the incredible strides forward in computation. Not only are the models for economic planning highly reliable and in-use, but computers and computer literacy are now commonplace.

Such a system would be more stable, rational and successful in meeting human need.

Why learn this?

It will not be long before we can put forward our case for a socialized, collectively administrated command economy on the basis that we are already part of the way there. We are all currently  paying for one which benefits the finance capitalists. Our goal is to extend the benefits of this to the working population, not the idle rich. There are workers-led revolts against cuts and dictatorial rule around the world, from the American Midwest to North Africa. The command economy also relates intimately to the issue of anti-imperialism. As Che argued, it was only through a planning system that Cuba could break out of its backward role within the imperialist chain, and reach a higher level of development. Che wrote in The Meaning of Socialist Planning: “With correct leadership from their vanguard, Cuba's revolutionary forces took power. Since sufficient objective conditions already existed in Cuba in terms of the socialization of labor, they skipped stages, declared the socialist character of the revolution, and began to build socialism”. Thus it is crucial for revolutionaries to understand this; we must show our fellow workers the “line of march”.

the command economy will succeed in the future

It's not a terrible surprise that the very first communist revolutions ended up as they did. Remember that the first democratic revolutions were either failures or only went halfway: France became a dictatorship and the early US republic kept slavery. Until after the US Civil War, it was not at all clear that democracy would survive as an alternative to the aristocracy, let alone become dominant on the planet (which it still isn't- the list of 'advanced democracies', meaning stable and democratic for a long period of time, are quite short).

After the October Revolution, the communist leadership had two choices. One was to spread the revolution internationally, and hope that in the process a more developed country would lift them up out of backwardness (all eyes were on Germany). The other was to go it alone, under siege, and develop their society. The latter they were forced to do after the revolution in Germany was crushed and the wave of workers revolts (including Ireland) passed. All the while embargoed and suffering imperialist-sponsored civil war, famines and even invasion.

In the course of this, much Soviet industry was destroyed. To make matters worse, the more advanced elements of the Russian working class had been literally killed off on the battlefield, as they were the first to enlist to defend the revolution in the new Red Army. Russia started way behind and by the time the dust of revolution had settled, the situation was even worse. As Trotsky put it, the Soviet Union had become a proletarian state without a proletariat. Leadership in the new society fell by default to the bureaucracy. This deprived the Soviet Union of its early democratic, creative and spontaneous character. It produced a leadership who were too divorced from the everyday people.

The arrival of advanced communications technology that puts access to global communication literally in the palm of each person's hand is of great significance. Communism has a very technocratic side, which is usually completely missed in these discussions because liberalism has so deeply infected the left's analysis.

As stated before, computer literacy is at an all time high. We have cultural and educational advantages earlier generations could not have dreamed. While planned, command economy economics has a bad connotation with many people, we should keep in mind that we have previously unimaginable technology available for everyone to use. The full uses and implications of social media are not understood, yet marketing is already seizing the opportunities to learn about consumers from them. The real economic purpose of facebook is to understand people's tastes through their “likes” they click on and what they put into their profiles. Surely we could do the same! This information-gathering, done with the conscious cooperation of all citizens could eventually close the gap between the market's advantage over communism: whereas the market could spontaneously create the value and price of consumer goods, communist states had to devote a lot of time to figuring out all prices, mixing consumer demand with social goals (such as devaluing paper to encourage printing and a literate culture).  With such unprecedented interactive technology we could create a responsive and effective command economy combining the best aspects of socialism, democracy and technology.


Workers Manage Factories in Yugoslavia

The meaning of socialist planning
Ernesto Che Guevara

The Russian Revolution
Sheila Fitzpatrick

The Red Flag, a History of Communism
David Priestland

Cuba, the Continuing Revolution
Gill Green

Results of the First Five Year Plan
Joseph Stalin

A History of Russia and the Soviet Union
MacKenzie and Curran

Historical Materialism
Maurice Cornforth

On Growth and Imperialism
Ernesto Che Guevara

Che's contribution to the Cuban economy
Carlos Rafael Rodríguez

The creativity of Che's economic thought
Carlos Tablada

On the concept of value
Ernesto Che Guevara

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Strike Against Public Services Cuts - 30th November

Strike Against Public Services Cuts - 30th November

On November 30th thousands of trades union members in the north of Ireland will go on strike against the current Tory-Dem cuts to public services, jobs and pensions. In England, Scotland and Wales, millions of trade unionists will take industrial action.
In Belfast, strikers and demonstrators will converge on City Hall for a rally at 1pm from 4 assembly points. The Irish Republican Socialist Party has given it's support to the day of strike action.

Friday, 11 November 2011

PSNI: The Better Armed RUC

PSNI: The Better Armed RUC

The PSNI are still engaged in political policing and continue to operate as the heavily armed guardian of the northern sectarian statelet, just as when they were officially known as the RUC. Their modus operandi has not changed but their new found friends in working-class nationalist areas certainly have!

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Beginning of the End by Walter Ellis

The Beginning of the End by Walter Ellis

Book review of Walter Ellis' book "The Beginning of The End: The Crippling Disadvantage of a Happy Irish Childhood".

Walter Ellis is a New York based Irish journalist whose book will be of interest to Irish Republicans because his cousin was Ronnie Bunting who figures quite heavily in this autobiographical account.

Among many exploits, Ellis recounts being given a suitcase to 'mind' which later was discovered to contain thousands of pounds, presumably from the Barna Gap Brinks robbery.

Not a bad read


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Killing Rage and Voices From The Grave Compared

Killing Rage and Voices From The Grave Compared

Killing Rage was written by Eamon Collins, a former Provisional IRA intelligence officer. He was brutally killed in 1999, allegedly by the Provisional IRA, after giving evidence against South Armagh warlord Tom 'Slab' Murphy in a libel action.

Voices From The Grave was partly based on the memoirs of former Provisional IRA leader, Brendan Hughes who died in 2008.

Both men became harshly critical of the Provisional IRA in their published memoirs. This article compares and contrasts both books.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ta Power's Legacy

Ta Power's Legacy

Thomas 'Ta' Power's legacy to Irish Republican Socialism was his historical analysis the movement. The Ta Power Document is as relevant today as it was when it was written in the 1980s.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

True Torah Jews Against Zionism

True Torah Jews Against Zionism

True Torah Jews Against Zionism are, like their title suggests, a highly visible group of orthodox Jews who seek to expose the myths of Zionism. They describe Zionism and anti-Semites as having a symbiotic relationship. True Torah Jews Against Zionism favour a one state Palestine, free from Zionism where Jews and Palestinians can live in peace.