lessons to be learned form vita cortex occupation victory

30 05 2012

By Adam Ford

Cheers! But tough times lie ahead for the sacked workers…

Jubilant ex-Vita Cortex foam packers finally left their factory last Thursday, bringing their marathon five month workplace occupation to an end. The occupiers declared victory when their former employer – entrepreneur Jack Ronan – finally coughed up an undisclosed sum as compensation for the redundancy he had announced before Christmas. Read the rest of this entry »





unhappy economies: greek debt, PIIGS and the eurozone crisis

4 08 2011

Oisín Mac Giollamóir explains the meaning of the current European crisis, and the relationship between debt and class struggle

Happy economies are all alike; every unhappy economy is unhappy in its own way. The well-worn acronym PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) conceals more than it reveals. The PIIGS are not all alike.

Consider the difference between Ireland and Italy. Pre-crisis Ireland had a debt/GDP ratio of 25%, one of the lowest in Europe. Today it’s over 100% and is projected to rise to over 120%. Ireland’s crisis is not due to an over-expanded public sector, unsustainable spending, persistent budget deficits or anything like that. It is due to the bubble in the property market and the ongoing mismanagement, largely at the European level, of its collapse . Over the last four years Ireland’s economy has been wrecked by the crisis.  In contrast Italy has had major problems for sometime. Italy’s debt, which has already reached 120% of GDP, does not reflect the kind of rapid shift that has happened in Ireland. Rather Italy has had a long run budget problem. Italy’s debt has not been below 100% of GDP since the early 90s. Italy’s debt problem cannot be blamed exclusively on the crisis in the same  that Ireland’s can.

It is therefore important not to conflate the differing problems faced by the PIIGS. When we talk about the Greek crisis we need to be aware of the particular nature of Greece’s problems. Read the rest of this entry »





the beautiful game in ireland: a story of neglect

13 07 2011

Donal O’Falluin writes on Irish working-class football culture

On the northside of Dublin, there is a football stadium. Only a short walk from the 82,000 seater capacity Croke Park, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, a small stadium with a capacity of about 8,000 sits. Pele, Zidane and many other greats have run out onto the pitch of Dalymount Park. It is considered by many ‘the home of Irish football’. It is symbolic of where the game is today that this historically important stadium, once home to the Irish international side, today crumbles. Like Dalymount Park herself, football in Ireland has endured a fall from grace.

On paper, the football experience in Ireland is something which greatly excites the English football faithful, from an outsiders perspective. With standing in stadiums commonplace, and terraces still the order of the day for many, not to mention a ticket cost averaging €15, it’s an almost romantic throwback to a time before the topflight game in the United Kingdom passed into the hands of speculators, becoming a sort of ’22 men on a pitch’ version of Monopoly among the world’s wealthy. On the ground though it’s evident the game in Ireland is in a seriously troubled state. Read the rest of this entry »





the 1% network

5 04 2011

John O’Neill is a member of the Irish Socialist Network and active in the 1% Network.

Ireland is undergoing neo-liberal shock therapy as a result of the Government decision to guarantee the debts run up by speculators in our hyper-inflated housing market that went down the proverbial tubes. The Fianna Fail government, now in its death throes, embarked on pay cuts and reductions in the public sector as its principal strategy for getting out of the mess. It has cut the pay of the 300,000-strong public sector workforce, reduced the minimum wage by €1 per hour and reduced all social welfare payments, pandering to their pals from the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) who demand a 10 percent reduction in pay for all workers (except themselves!), and the retention of our low corporation tax rate, their ‘holy grail’ of economic recovery. Read the rest of this entry »





ireland after the election

6 03 2011

Dara McHugh reflects on last week’s Irish election. The piece was written before the Labour leadership announced plans to accept a Fine Gael coalition offer

The election campaign and its aftermath have witnessed strident declarations that all has changed, changed utterly. Most prominent is the decimation of support for Fianna Fail, the party that has ruled for 60 of the last 79 years. Both Fine Gael and Labour have experienced remarkable success in the polls, unparallelled for the latter. These are not insignificant, but the context of continued economic crisis renders the changes in parliament relatively minor.

Whatever government is formed, it will share the titanic debt burden of the previous administration. Although Fine Gael made suitably statesman-like noises about ‘renegotiation’ of the interest rate on the ECB bailout, their timid overtures won only tolerant obfuscation from Frankfurt during the campaign and categorical refusals since. Read the rest of this entry »





from celtic tiger to death by a thousand cuts

26 01 2011

Ronan McAoidh reports on the crisis engulfing the Irish economy and politics

On Tuesday 7th December, the Irish government were barricaded inside the parliament in Dublin. They were there to vote on a Budget implementing the cutbacks and austerity measures demanded of them by the IMF and ECB. The budget comes in a year of ever deepening crisis, as the debt of what was once Europe’s fastest growing economy, spiralled out of control. The obvious question one is faced with is “What went wrong? What happened to this economic miracle?” Read the rest of this entry »





community unionism: from the workplace to the streets

28 10 2009

by Brian Garvey

“We have been the victims of so many acts of corruption… But the workers have supported us in forming a new trade union, because they want change – a radical change – so that we are the new administration of the collective contract, because the union we have is useless” Luis Flugo, Aseven soft drinks company, Venezuela

“I looked at the Mater hospital – this new, ‘state of the art facility’, and there wasn’t even changing rooms for the domestics. Not even a changing room. And I wondered, how did the unions allow that?” Domestic health worker, Belfast

It is recognised that unions need to change. Union membership in the 26 counties has fallen by 14% (currently 32% of workforce) between 1994-2008. Writing on the situation in UK where membership levels have fallen continuously since 1979 (currently only 28% of workforce) and employers have been ‘emboldened by neoliberal policies’ Jane Willis of University of London writes that ‘trade unions cannot simply wait until economic and political conditions become more favourable’ for their recovery. Read the rest of this entry »





british nationalism and the rise of fascism

20 10 2009

For all the left’s talk of German-style Nazis, fascism has very British roots. In a shortened version of an article he wrote while in the Republican Workers’ Tendency, Chris Ford shows the link between loyalism and fascism

uvf

In an exercise in deception, British Left and Right historians have placed an Italian label on this movement. It better deserves a British one. The first movement of 20th century fascism emerged in 1910 to enforce the unity of the United Kingdom. It was a time of militant workers’ struggles and resurgent Irish nationalism. The crisis over the national question split the British ruling class. The liberal wing advocated devolution within the Union, then called Home Rule. The most reactionary wing, without a parliamentary majority, set its frontline on the Irish question. The Tory Unionist Sir Edward Carson raised the 80,000 strong UVF in defence of empire and against unpatriotic socialists and papist nationalists. Two decades before German generals moved behind National Socialism, British generals were backing the British nationalist UVF as a rallying force for counter-revolution in the UK. Orange reaction set about the sectarian division of the working class. It was the shape of things to come in Europe as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »





the “molly maguires” and the communist party of the usa: political repression in a free country

23 07 2009

by Hal Smith

At the rise and decline of the American labor movement, the media and courts saw demons among the working people: “Molly Maguires” and Communists. Who were these radical “conspirators,” and what was their “crime?” Theirs is the transatlantic story of militant workers, and the law as their masters wield it.

Kull

The Molly Maguires began as a group of Irish Catholic peasants who resisted British landlords. Since Britain yoked Ireland in the 1600′s, the Irish served as peasants on semi-feudal British estates. In the 1840′s, the Great Hunger devastated Ireland, while Britain exported its food. Landlords evicted starving peasants, whose poverty forced them into the worst mines of America and England. Among the Irish immigrants were nationalist revolutionaries like Fenians and “Mollies.” Read the rest of this entry »





the european elections: a political analysis

24 06 2009

by Allan Armstrong

In the absence of major class struggles in the UK, the European elections provide us with a snapshot view of the current state of politics. The following analysis looks at the election results in Europe, the UK & Ireland and, in a bit more detail, in Scotland, in order to identify some significant political trends. Read the rest of this entry »





new texts in ‘ideas’

4 10 2008

We have added some new articles to the ‘ideas‘ section of the website. Foreword by Chris Kane

The national question remains of particular concern to  communists and socialists in the 21st century. One of the principle sources on the national question remains the writings of the Russian communist Lenin.  Here is a critical examination of Lenin’s theory of the national question by the Ukrainian Marxist Andrij Karpenko, from the Ukrainian socialist journal META.  We have also reproduced a pamphlet by the theorist of the then newly formed and at that time genuine Communist Party of Great Britain, William Paul, on the Irish question and its relationship to the world revolution.

Indeed, since the launching of The Commune many on the traditional left have been searching for ways to categorise us: we have been branded ‘anti-Bolsheviks’ by the Trotskyists and ‘Leninists’ by the anarchists. We recognise Lenin, with other communists of his generation, as an vitally important revolutionary of the 20th century.  As critical Marxists, we neither demonise Lenin nor raise him to the figure of a Pope. On The Commune we have published a number of writers who have critically engaged with Lenin’s ideas such as Paul Cardan (Castoriadis).  Here we reproduce a defence of Lenin against Cardan by Raya Dunayevskaya, the founder of Marxist-Humanism in the USA.  Dunayevskaya was critical of Lenin, in particular his views on the leading role of the vanguard Party, but she was equally critical of anti-Leninists.   The Scottish Marxist-Humanist edited by Harry McShane first published this article.








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