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Irish Times and Business Post on Discussion in CWI and SP(I)

Fourth Article in Irish Times on “Clash” in Socialist Party(I) and CWI

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Socialists Clash over How To Compete With Sinn Féin

Fiach Kelly, Irish Times March 7,2019  https://wp.me/pKzXa-1fv

Murphy describes rivals as bourgeois sectarian nationalists with “an armed wing”

TD Says Key Strategy was applied during Dublin South West  Byelection

Dublin South West TD, Paul Murphy:

“Of fundamental importance to any political description of Sinn Féin is that they are a sectarian party, a party which currently plays a sectarian role in the North-whose armed wing in the past waged an individual terrorist armed struggle”

The challenge of how to compete with Sinn Féin for left wing votes is at the centre of differences in political strategy between leading members of the Socialist Party. Dublin South West TD Paul Murphy advocates challenging Sinn Féin with a so-called “united front” approach. Mr Murphy explains this approach in detail in a paper called “The United Front method and putting forward a Socialist Programme today”, published on November 20th. In explaining the united front approach, Mr Murphy cites a definition from the “Executive Committee of the Communist International Theses on the United Front”. By this definition, the tactic is “nothing other than the proposal made by the Communists to all workers, whether they are members of other parties or groups or of none, to fight alongside them, to defend the elementary and vital interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie. “Every action for even the smallest demand is a source of revolutionary education, because the experience of combat will convince the working people of the necessity of the revolution, and will demonstrate the meaning of Communism to them.” He says this can be “applied to today’s situation to win over workers looking towards other organisations”. Mr Murphy also cites Trotsky in expanding his argument, adding: “Trotsky made it clear that even in a specific united front, there was a need for clear differentiation from other forces.” ‘No common platform’ He then quotes Trotsky thus: “No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.” In effect, Mr Murphy says this would allow Socialists join in common action with others “in order to achieve real gains for the working class” while maintaining their own independence as the “revolutionary” party. “The united front method also means revolutionaries fight in that movement to expose the limitations of the other organisations and ideas, to prove the superiority of revolutionary ideas and seek to win a majority to a revolutionary programme and the leadership of the revolutionary party.” An example of how this was applied, according to Mr Murphy, came during the Dublin South West byelection in 2014. It saw Mr Murphy beat Sinn Féin, who had been expected to take the Dáil seat, on the back of an anti-water charges ticket. His victory is widely credited with pushing Sinn Féin and then Fianna Fáil towards a position in favour of abolishing water charges. Sinn Féin did not initially favour of non-payment of the charges, as the Socialists had. “Here, a very critical and ‘hard’ approach was taken to Sinn Féin, on the concrete issue of water charges to illustrate in practice the weaknesses of their programme and approach, and win over their supporters,” Mr Murphy says. “A consistent element of our campaign was appealing to Sinn Féin supporters to vote for us to apply pressure on Sinn Féin ’to change their position’ and ‘join with us in campaigning to build a mass movement of non-payment’. Weak position “In the election leaflet the comrades themselves quote, it clearly says: ‘The election of Paul Murphy would make it clear to Sinn Féin that a weak position on Water Charges in the future will not be tolerated’. “This was a theme running through much of our election posters, leaflets and other material. “Failing to understand the importance of applying the united front method has resulted in mistakes in the past in relation to Sinn Féin, and can result in mistakes in the future.” The byelection is also used in a paper from others in the movement, replying to similar arguments that had been previously made by Mr Murphy. This paper, is called: “A brief contribution on some political issues mentioned by PM” and is written 3/7/2019 irishtimes.com – Paul Murphy uses Trotsky to explain how Socialists can compete with ‘sectarian’ SF – Wed Mar 06 12:42:27 GMT 2019 https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/paul-murphy-uses-trotsky-to-explain-how-socialists-can-compete-with-sectarian-sf-1.3816304?mode=pri… 2/2 by Laura F, Stephen B, Kevin M, Joe H, and dated October 10th last. The authors are understood to be Laura Fitzgerald, Stephen Boyd, Kevin McLoughlin and Joe Higgins. “We should be hesitant about using labels if they don’t accurately convey what we mean,” they say. “We don’t have the time to go into more generally, but will use the example DSW By-Election just given to try to illustrate the difficulty with the term. “There was no question of a unified approach with Sinn Féin on the water charges. There was obviously an attempt by us to win over people who voted for them by using the water charges and austerity issues, but there is a major difference in the content and tone of our campaign.” Differences also emerge between Mr Murphy and his colleagues on how to describe Sinn Féin. Sectarian Mr Murphy says: “The comrades…respond to my description of Sinn Féin as a nationalist, pro-capitalist party saying the following: ‘Of course they are “nationalist, pro-capitalist party’, the reality is that Sinn Féin are a bourgeois nationalist party – but of fundamental importance to any political description of Sinn Féin is that they are a sectarian party. A party which currently plays a sectarian role in the North – whose armed wing in the past waged an individual terrorist armed struggle, that was overtly sectarian and at times directly targeted working class Protestants.” Mr Murphy then adds further description is needed on the term “bourgeois nationalist party” the Socialist have used for Sinn Féin. “It seems to me that further clarification may be needed. If the comrades mean it is a capitalist nationalist party, i.e. one with a pro-capitalist nationalist programme, as demonstrated by their implementation of austerity and sectarian policies in Northern Ireland, then I completely agree. “However, if the term ‘bourgeois nationalist party’ is used to indicate a party which represents the nationalist aspirations of the bourgeoisie, then it is not a precise description of Sinn Féin. While in the North, Sinn Féin has support amongst a section of the Catholic capitalist class, in the South, no significant section of the capitalist class supports Sinn Féin.” Mr Murphy also corrects his comrades on their understanding of the “united front”. “The comrades begin with an inaccurate historical description of the united front as ‘tactics the Comintern and revolutionary parties adopted in general towards the mass organisations of the working class in the 1920s and 1930s’,” he says. “I will deal below with the question of whether the united front is solely a tactic or a method, or both. Nonetheless, the history is clear. The united front did not originate in the 1920s as seems to be implied [by others]. Bolsheviks “It was in fact central to the success of the Bolsheviks in 1917, and was fought for by Lenin in particular. The most well known example is the united front struggle proposed by the Bolsheviks to stop the Kornilov coup against the Kerensky government in August 1917, using ‘Kerensky as a gun-rest to shoot Kornilov.’ “It wasn’t until later, in particular at the Third and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International in the early 1920s, that the united front was theorised. The same process took place with the transitional method and the workers’ government slogan, both of which were implemented by the Bolsheviks in 1917, for example in Lenin’s ‘The Impending Catastrophe and How to Fight It’, and the ‘Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers’ slogan demanding that the Mensheviks and SRs form a government without the participation of the capitalist parties. “The comrades are unfortunately wrong to suggest that the united front was then adopted by the Communist Parties. In fact, the tragedy of the 1920s and 30s is precisely that it was not fully adopted or properly implemented.” © 2019 irishtimes.co

 

 

 

———————————————————————————

Irish Sunday Business Post

Peter Taaffe says focus of Socialist Party has switched to women’s and gay rights as unions are abandoned By  Michael Brennan    Sunday Business Post  Mar 3, 2019

A prominent English socialist figure has accused the Irish Socialist Party of giving up on the working class to focus on the rights of women and LGBTQ people. https://wp.me/pKzXa-1fv

The Irish Socialist Party includes three TDs – Paul Murphy, Mick Barry and Ruth Coppinger – who are also members of the Solidarity-People Before Profit party.

It has come under fire from Peter Taaffe, the general secretary of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, who was expelled from membership of the British Labour Party in 1983.

Taaffe said the ‘Irish comrades’ did not believe in the possibility of mobilising independent working class support.

He said they had admitted that “the new ‘vanguard’ for change is not the working class” and were instead concentrating on “the forces around the movement for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights”.

This is a strong criticism because it has been an article of faith for socialists like Taaffe that the working class is the main revolutionary force that will replace capitalism with socialism.

There is recent evidence of the strong focus of Coppinger, Murphy and Barry on rights for women and LGBTQ people.

All three were active in last year’s campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Coppinger has attracted international attention for holding up a thong in the Dáil to highlight how a jury was told about an alleged rape victim’s underwear during a court case.

Murphy has brought in a sex education bill which he has said would help young LGBTQ students who felt excluded and isolated in school.

Taaffe complained that the Socialist Party and its sister organisation Rosa – set up by women in the party – did not have a clear orientation towards working class organisations during the abortion rights campaign.

“We all agree that they carried out tremendous work in their participation in this campaign, but it was not through clear working class methods and orientation,” he said.

There have been rumblings within the Irish Socialist Party that such campaigns rely too much on middle class students who are not interested in wider socialist campaigns.

Taaffe’s criticisms were published online, in a rare example of dissent between the political parties which follow the philosophy of Soviet revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky.

They meet through an umbrella organisation called the Committee for a Workers’ International.

Taaffe said the Irish Socialist Party had effectively abandoned working within the Irish trade union movement for a period.

“But all the great leaders of the working class – Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky – emphasised the absolute necessity even in difficult periods for organised systematic work in and around the trade unions,” he wrote.

TD Paul Murphy could not be contacted for comment.

————————————————————————————Irish Times

Socialist Party documents illustrate criticism from international comrades

Papers show serious differences between leading party figures on domestic strategy

From left to right: Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger TD, Cllr Michael Murphy and Mick Barry TD pictured in 2017. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

The inner workings of the Socialist Party are not usually on display for all to see.

Its TDs – Paul MurphyRuth Coppinger and Mick Barry – are the most cogent left wing voices in the Dáil.

Also operating under the Solidarity (formerly Anti-Austerity Alliance) banner, they have led debates on issues such as abortion and water charges.

In our view a tendency has also developed of some leading Irish comrades seeing all struggles through the prism of the women’s movement, rather than seeing how it interconnects with other struggles

Documents recently circulated within the party, however, illustrate how their movement has been criticised by international comrades for an excessive focus on abortion and women’s rights issues.

A collection of documents, including internal policy papers and international policy papers totalling 66 pages, have been seen by The Irish Times, and also reveal serious differences between leading figures on domestic political strategy.

Mr Murphy, Ms Coppinger and Mr Barry did not return repeated requests for comment yesterday.

A number of party councillors also declined to comment, with one saying he had been asked not to speak to The Irish Times. Former party TD Joe Higgins, also named in the documents, did not return calls.

Former Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins was named in the documents but did not return requests for comment made by The Irish Times. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Parent organisation differences

The documents show how differences emerged with the International Section (IS) of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), the parent organisation of the Socialist Party.

Concerns were raised with Irish members last autumn on “struggles relating to women’s oppression”.

The differences, in fact, pre-date last year’s referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

British activists felt the AAA was not forceful enough in arguing during the 2016 general election for “public ownership of the main sectors of the economy”.

This generation of petit-bourgeois feminists put very little focus on winning material gains for women concentrating overwhelmingly on individuals’ experience of sexism

The sharpest exchanges, however, came over the importance of the abortion referendum.

“It is our duty, as the elected leadership of the CWI, to raise our concerns in order to strengthen the work of the whole international,” the International Section of the CWI said in a paper called Women’s Oppression and Identity Politics – Our Approach in Ireland and Internationally.

“We think the comrades could be in danger of overstating the importance of the victory on abortion rights. In our view a tendency has also developed of some leading Irish comrades seeing all struggles through the prism of the women’s movement, rather than seeing how it interconnects with other struggles.”

It also questioned the future of the pro-choice group linked to the Socialist Party, Reproductive rights against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity (Rosa).

For the IS, the campaign against water charges is held up as a better example of “how united working-class struggle can win, and crucially our role in leading it”.

Role in Ireland

However, the role taken by those in Ireland in leading campaigns to increase awareness around abortion pills in the years before the referendum is praised.

“Clearly, the militant and campaigning stance taken by the comrades – for which they were attacked by a layer of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois feminists – was an important positive factor.”

There is some criticism of Ms Coppinger for comments made at an “Englandand Wales Socialism 2014 event”. Ms Coppinger is noted as saying: “Most young women wouldn’t have seen unions doing much for women. I thought a lot of the contributions were from middle-age women and were economic.”

The IS responded by saying the event in question “had a particular trade union focus that had not been the case in many other years”.

“However, in our view Ruth’s comments also reveal a misunderstanding about the necessity of us explaining how economic and social change can be won, and the role of the organised working class in achieving that, as well as an underestimation of the importance of economic issues for working-class women, including young women.

“This generation of petit-bourgeois feminists put very little focus on winning material gains for women concentrating overwhelmingly on individuals’ experience of sexism. In that sense their ideas are a retreat from at least some of the feminist struggles of the 1970s.”

The Irish National Executive Committee (NEC) sent its own document in response. “From the NEC in Ireland, with all NEC comrades, bar Paul M voting for the document,” it notes, and argues: “The IS document could give the impression that the Irish section is soft on, and friendly with the forces of petitbourgeois feminism.

“The IS document says we are in danger of overstating the abortion rights victory. Unfortunately, the IS are understating it.”

The response to the Belfast rape trial last year of rugby players Paddy Jacksonand Stuart Olding (who were both acquitted of rape charges) is also a flashpoint between the IS and Ireland.

The Irish NEC says: “In the context of the Belfast rape trial and presumably in reaction to the ‘I believe her’ slogan that emerged from below, the IS document cautions, ‘we have to be careful not to go along with the conclusion of many petit-bourgeois feminists that every accusation of sexual assault made by a woman against a man has to be accepted. The IS are intimating that we just follow petit-bourgeois feminists. This is inaccurate to say the least. The facts are that when we called the demonstration North and South regarding this trial, we purposely called it under the general title/slogan of ‘Stand with Her & All Survivors’.

 

Socialist Party to present truth in ‘most digestible’ way to working class

In internal documents Paul Murphy advocates ‘united front’ when dealing with Sinn Féin

 

Paul Murphy, left, said: “The guiding line for us all in this debate should be what Lenin, approvingly quoting Trotsky, argued, that ‘ideological struggle within the party does not mean mutual ostracism but mutual influence’.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The Socialist Party will present the truth “in the way which is most digestible to the working class at a particular time”, TD Paul Murphy has said.

In internal documents discussing Brexit and wider strategy, he asks: “Are we guilty of not ‘telling the truth’ to the working class when we don’t bring a demand to leave the EU?

“We always tell the truth to the working class. But we present the truth in the way which is most digestible to the working class at a particular time.”

In exchanges with members including Joe Higgins, he advocates a “united front” method of dealing with groups such as Sinn Féin.

Lenin

“The guiding line for us all in this debate should be what Lenin, approvingly quoting Trotsky, argued, that ‘ideological struggle within the party does not mean mutual ostracism but mutual influence’.”

He also corrects his comrades’ “inaccurate historical description of the united front as ‘tactics the Comintern and revolutionary parties adopted . . . in the 1920s and 1930s’.”

“It was in fact central to the success of the Bolsheviks in 1917, and was fought for by Lenin in particular,” he says, citing the “struggle proposed by the Bolsheviks to stop the Kornilov coup against the Kerensky government in August 1917, using ‘Kerensky as a gun-rest to shoot Kornilov’”.

Mr Murphy did not return requests for comment.

 

Socialists clash over tactics for competing with Sinn Féin

Paul Murphy describes rivals as bourgeois, sectarian nationalists with an ‘armed wing’

Paul Murphy TD outside Leinster House, Dublin Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The challenge of how to compete with Sinn Féin for left wing votes is at the centre of differences in political strategy between leading members of the Socialist Party.

Dublin South West TD Paul Murphy advocates challenging Sinn Féin with a so-called “united front” approach. Mr Murphy explains this approach in detail in a paper called “The United Front method and putting forward a Socialist Programme today”, published on November 20th.

In explaining the united front approach, Mr Murphy cites a definition from the “Executive Committee of the Communist International Theses on the United Front”.

By this definition, the tactic is “nothing other than the proposal made by the Communists to all workers, whether they are members of other parties or groups or of none, to fight alongside them, to defend the elementary and vital interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.

“Every action for even the smallest demand is a source of revolutionary education, because the experience of combat will convince the working people of the necessity of the revolution, and will demonstrate the meaning of Communism to them.”

He says this can be “applied to today’s situation to win over workers looking towards other organisations”.

Mr Murphy also cites Trotsky in expanding his argument, adding: “Trotsky made it clear that even in a specific united front, there was a need for clear differentiation from other forces.”

‘No common platform’

He then quotes Trotsky thus: “No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.”

In effect, Mr Murphy says this would allow Socialists join in common action with others “in order to achieve real gains for the working class” while maintaining their own independence as the “revolutionary” party.

“The united front method also means revolutionaries fight in that movement to expose the limitations of the other organisations and ideas, to prove the superiority of revolutionary ideas and seek to win a majority to a revolutionary programme and the leadership of the revolutionary party.”

An example of how this was applied, according to Mr Murphy, came during the Dublin South West byelection in 2014. It saw Mr Murphy beat Sinn Féin, who had been expected to take the Dáil seat, on the back of an anti-water charges ticket. His victory is widely credited with pushing Sinn Féin and then Fianna Fáil towards a position in favour of abolishing water charges.

Sinn Féin did not initially favour of non-payment of the charges, as the Socialists had.

“Here, a very critical and ‘hard’ approach was taken to Sinn Féin, on the concrete issue of water charges to illustrate in practice the weaknesses of their programme and approach, and win over their supporters,” Mr Murphy says.

“A consistent element of our campaign was appealing to Sinn Féin supporters to vote for us to apply pressure on Sinn Féin ’to change their position’ and ‘join with us in campaigning to build a mass movement of non-payment’.

Weak position

“In the election leaflet the comrades themselves quote, it clearly says: ‘The election of Paul Murphy would make it clear to Sinn Féin that a weak position on Water Charges in the future will not be tolerated’.

“This was a theme running through much of our election posters, leaflets and other material.

“Failing to understand the importance of applying the united front method has resulted in mistakes in the past in relation to Sinn Féin, and can result in mistakes in the future.”

The byelection is also used in a paper from others in the movement, replying to similar arguments that had been previously made by Mr Murphy. This paper, is called: “A brief contribution on some political issues mentioned by PM” and is written by Laura F, Stephen B, Kevin M, Joe H, and dated October 10th last.

The authors are understood to be Laura FitzgeraldStephen BoydKevin McLoughlin and Joe Higgins.

“We should be hesitant about using labels if they don’t accurately convey what we mean,” they say. “We don’t have the time to go into more generally, but will use the example DSW By-Election just given to try to illustrate the difficulty with the term.

“There was no question of a unified approach with Sinn Féin on the water charges. There was obviously an attempt by us to win over people who voted for them by using the water charges and austerity issues, but there is a major difference in the content and tone of our campaign.”

Differences also emerge between Mr Murphy and his colleagues on how to describe Sinn Féin.

Sectarian

Mr Murphy says: “The comrades…respond to my description of Sinn Féin as a nationalist, pro-capitalist party saying the following: ‘Of course they are “nationalist, pro-capitalist party’, the reality is that Sinn Féin are a bourgeois nationalist party – but of fundamental importance to any political description of Sinn Féin is that they are a sectarian party. A party which currently plays a sectarian role in the North – whose armed wing in the past waged an individual terrorist armed struggle, that was overtly sectarian and at times directly targeted working class Protestants.”

Mr Murphy then adds further description is needed on the term “bourgeois nationalist party” the Socialist have used for Sinn Féin.

“It seems to me that further clarification may be needed. If the comrades mean it is a capitalist nationalist party, i.e. one with a pro-capitalist nationalist programme, as demonstrated by their implementation of austerity and sectarian policies in Northern Ireland, then I completely agree.

“However, if the term ‘bourgeois nationalist party’ is used to indicate a party which represents the nationalist aspirations of the bourgeoisie, then it is not a precise description of Sinn Féin. While in the North, Sinn Féin has support amongst a section of the Catholic capitalist class, in the South, no significant section of the capitalist class supports Sinn Féin.”

Mr Murphy also corrects his comrades on their understanding of the “united front”.

“The comrades begin with an inaccurate historical description of the united front as ‘tactics the Comintern and revolutionary parties adopted in general towards the mass organisations of the working class in the 1920s and 1930s’,” he says.

“I will deal below with the question of whether the united front is solely a tactic or a method, or both. Nonetheless, the history is clear. The united front did not originate in the 1920s as seems to be implied [by others].

Bolsheviks

“It was in fact central to the success of the Bolsheviks in 1917, and was fought for by Lenin in particular. The most well known example is the united front struggle proposed by the Bolsheviks to stop the Kornilov coup against the Kerensky government in August 1917, using ‘Kerensky as a gun-rest to shoot Kornilov.’

“It wasn’t until later, in particular at the Third and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International in the early 1920s, that the united front was theorised. The same process took place with the transitional method and the workers’ government slogan, both of which were implemented by the Bolsheviks in 1917, for example in Lenin’s ‘The Impending Catastrophe and How to Fight It’, and the ‘Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers’ slogan demanding that the Mensheviks and SRs form a government without the participation of the capitalist parties.

“The comrades are unfortunately wrong to suggest that the united front was then adopted by the Communist Parties. In fact, the tragedy of the 1920s and 30s is precisely that it was not fully adopted or properly implemented.”

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