Volume 2, Number 6
25 September 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
3. Special Relationship Between British Establishment and Loyalist
4. The Outcome of the Water Consultation is Hard to Swallow
5. An Apology!
6. The Oppressed People of the World Support Socialist Cuba: Why
Doesn't the SWP?
8. What's On
The Plough would first like to express its sorrow at the death of Neil
Sheridan, a former INLA prisoner, in Maghaberry Jail. We extend our
condolences to his family and friends. Neil died tragically during the
Neil, like many young men, frustrated at the anti-democratic nature of
the northern state joined a republican army. One has only to see what
has happened in the last week to see that history is in danger of
repeating itself with many young men following the example of Neil.
We reprint below a press release from the 32 County Sovereignty
Movement. The treatment of this loyalist drug-dealing criminal
indicates how closely the whole apparatus of state control is geared
towards appeasing loyalism and unionism.
In the farcical talks both in Stormont and at Leeds Castle the
leadership of Sinn Fein (Provisional) have seemingly given concessions
on the future of the IRA and on decommissioning. The DUP have now
switched their arguments to technical details of how the executive
should function and are been backed by both the Brits and the Free
And on the Finucane enquiry it is now clear that most of it will be in
private. What a farce!! What a concession wrung from the Brits at the
Was it for these paltry advances the struggle was carried out? Even
the SDLP have accused Blair of reneging on his word. The IRSP have
consistently said never trust the Brits. Sinn Fein (Provisional) are
now engaged in negotiating guns and the IRA for seats in a right wing
dominated capitalist government that will not even have full control
over the six counties. Their grand strategy of splitting unionism has
now left Ian Paisley and the DUP as the majority voice of unionism.
"Well done, Gerry!" Well done indeed!
Once again we have to point out that a publication entitled "Starry
Plough Bulletin" has absolutely nothing to do with the Irish
Republican Socialist Movement. The latest edition -- Sept. 17th 2004,
Issue 11 -- carries an endorsement of the current political position
of the IRSP. A casual reading of the publication would lead one to
believe that it is an IRSP publication. It is most definitely not. It
has no address, no contact number, no e-mail or any means of
identifying who writes it. It also publishes lies, particularly about
Pat Fincucane, the Belfast solicitor murdered by British agents in the
UDA run by British intelligence services. The "Bulletin" comes in the
post to our offices in Belfast. It is probably the work of British
SHOUKRI RULING FURTHER EVIDENCE IF SOECIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
BRITISH ESTABLISHMENT AND LOYALIST DEATH GANGS
Press statement by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement
The decision by the courts not to revoke bail in the case of UFF
leader Ihab Shoukri is further proof if it were needed of a special
relation between elements within the British establishment and
pro-British death squads. Shoukri, despite flagrantly breeching the
conditions of his bail was not subjected to any form of censure by the
courts because a crown lawyer had been instructed from above not to
proceed with the revocation. The crown lawyer a Mr. Hopley told the
judge that There are certain things I am not at liberty to go into at
This begs the question, who exactly is accountable in the legal
profession. At a time when collusion between the UFF and the RUC is in
the headlines due to the case of Pat Finucane, it has not escaped the
notice of republicans that these two same organizations are continuing
to scratch each other's backs. The contrast must also be made between
the treatment of Shoukri and his brother Andre by the courts and that
of republican prisoners.
Andre Shoukri was arrested with a hand gun and ammunition yet served a
miniscule sentence for not having a fire arms license yet republicans
charged in similar circumstances have been given sentences which are
much more severe. Ihab Shoukri was also given bail despite being
charged with murder and when that charge was dropped he is still on
bail despite being charged with membership of the UFF. Contrast this
treatment with that of Pomeroy man Brendan O'Connor who having been
cleared of other more serious charges has been constantly refused bail
because of alleged membership of the IRA even though he was charged
with membership because of the more serious charges which have since
been dropped. The cases of the men from Tyrone and South Down who were
set up by the RUC and then cleared also spring to mind, these men
served long sentences despite the fact that they were innocent and
were refused bail on numerous occasions despite their innocence,
something that applies to Derry man Seamus Doherty and numerous other
republicans held under tenuous forensic evidence.
The Special Relationship between the RUC, British establishment and
the loyalist death squads is alive and well, there are still loyalist
leaders quite literally getting away with murder and as the Finucane
case shows leading figures within the British security apparatus are
also getting away with murder. Whilst expendables like Ken Barrett are
made sacrificial lambs, their superiors in their Woodvale shebeens or
their Whitehall members clubs are beyond the reach of justice.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement urges all republicans not to be
taken in by the new policing arrangements and to be aware that there
can be no true justice for republicans in the northern statelet.
THE OUTCOME OF THE WATER CONSULTATION IS HARD TO SWALLOW
People should not have to pay the cost of a basic need like water. The
Speller proposals in no way consider ability to pay. The 25% discount
proposed is inadequate and the charges will place an unacceptable
burden on low-income families. A workless or low-wage family in a
normal semi-detached house, even with the discount, could face a total
bill of £386, which will be levied regardless of the income level
of the family. Respondents to the consultation overwhelmingly
rejected this proposal.
Only 3% favouring a levy based on property value and since 78% of
respondents advocated a metering system the e question has to be asked
about how the decision was reached. It is clear that the consultation
process was a PR exercise and that the British Government is in
cahoots with the companies who want to get their grub privatised hands
on our assets. Even if we accepted the principle of charging for
water, and we don’t, then surely if a system of water charging is
to be introduced it should be efficient in economic terms, sustain the
environment and produce socially just outcomes.
The Brit proposals mean in effect that the old republican song, "Only
Our Rivers Run Free," no longer holds true!!!
In The Plough Vol. 2, No. 3 we carried details of the Launch of "Che
Guevara and the Cuban revolution" by author Mike Gonzales Monday on
6th September in Robinson's Bar, Belfast. This was part of advertising
events we think may be of interest to our readers particularly here in
Ireland. Carrying those details does not mean we endorse the views of
the author of the book. We don't. The Republican Socialist Movement
are strong supporters of the Cuban Revolution. Many of our
ex-prisoners have visited Cuba and taken part in many acts of
solidarity with the Cuban Revolution. Our founding members,
particularly Ta Power, were heavily influenced by that revolution.
Accordingly we print below a critique of the book from "Fight
THE OPPRESSED PEOPLE OF THE WORLD SUPPORT SOCIALIST CUBA: WHY DOESN'T
By Helen Yaffe
According to the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Cuban Revolution
has never been socialist because it was not the "self-emancipation of
the working class." A new book, "Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution"
by Mike Gonzalez, the SWP's expert on Latin America restates this
"Che looked on the workers' movement, students and protest only to
support and supply the guerrillas. He described himself as a Marxist
now. Yet for Marx, a revolution was the moment when the working class
achieved its own liberation through collective action. This does not
appear in Che's worldview -- or in his political writings --
any more than it does in the political pronouncements and manifestos
It is vital for Gonzalez to assert this point to justify the
counter-revolutionary position of the SWP, which advocates the
overthrow of the revolutionary government by the Cuban working class.
Gonzalez continues: "And if that was how the revolution was to be
made, then it was also how the society which emerged from the
revolution would be." (p.79) Presumably it is this "original sin" of
the Cuban Revolution that allows SWP cadre to recommend the website of
right-wing terrorists in Miami, set up by Jorge Mas Canosa. In the
July 2004 issue of Socialist Review Gonzalez suggests that the
majority of people in Cuba do not benefit from the country's resources
and that workers are not represented. He concludes that: "the task for
socialists is to seek by every means possible to help workers organise
in their own interest. And if that means organising against the state,
then so be it."
The SWP adapts Cuban reality to its dogmatic theory, violating the
first principle of Marx himself -- historical materialism. The
facts confound the SWP's line. The Cuban working class, the rural
proletariat and the peasantry made the Revolution and have benefited
massively throughout its 45 years. The participation of the Cuban
working class was not led by the trade unions, because communists and
other radical left wing trade union activists had been assassinated in
the late 1940s and replaced with economistic leaders and outright
gangsters. Eusebio Mujal, head of the Cuban Workers Congress (CTC)
became a millionaire in one year. He was a rabid anti-communist.
When Batista seized power in 1952, Mujal allied the CTC with the
dictatorship. It was impossible for that trade union apparatus to
support the revolutionary movement against its puppet master. Mujal
warned trade unionists not to support the general strike called in
April 1958 by the 26th July Movement (M26J), headed by Fidel Castro.
Gonzalez just says the strike "was a disastrous failure. The unions
did not respond." (p.78) There is no mention of the repression meted
out to undermine the strike. In Havana 200 M26J militants were
murdered by Batista's troops who gunned down striking workers in the
streets. In Oriente province workers did strike en masse and M26J
militia destroyed and appropriated the property of US companies. Most
dishonest is Gonzalez's refusal to mention the revolutionary general
strike on 2-3 January 1959, which undermined US attempts to organise a
military junta after Batista fled. The strike was total and the
country was paralyzed as crowds cheered the Rebel Army into Havana.
Blinded by dogmatism, Gonzalez states: "The 26 July Movement had
supporters and sympathisers scattered across the island, but they were
not connected with the trade unions or any other organisations outside
their own circle." (p.59) Precisely because of the corrupt,
pro-imperialist nature of the trade unions, the task facing the
revolutionaries was to encourage workers to step outside the control
of the trade unions, to set up independent workers' organisations and
join other revolutionary organisations in the cities, which they did.
In the logic of Gonzalez's argument, when workers fought, either in
the urban underground or in the mountains with the Rebel Army, they
did not constitute the "armed working class," because the decision was
not passed at their local union branch meeting.
The reactionary role of the trade union apparatus during the Cuban
Revolution disturbs the SWP because it exposes the dogmatism of their
own political strategy in Britain, which gives the existing trade
unions, and through them the Labour Party, the key role in building a
socialist movement. To recognise other sections of the working class
as the real agents of social change is to undermine the SWP's claim to
the leadership of the left in Britain, which is based on their trade
Activists from Rock around the Blockade, an anti-imperialist campaign
in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution, continually expose the SWP's
position as contrived from a series of half-truths and outright lies.
Gonzalez himself drones from platforms about the Cuban Army
controlling prostitution, gays being persecuted, AIDS sufferers locked
up, no elections, no democracy, no workers' representation, the
government exploiting workers in the interests of multinationals,
while Cuba's support for Angola against the apartheid regime of South
Africa is dismissed as Soviet "imperialism."
Now the SWP has an organisational alliance with George Galloway, an
ardent supporter of both Cuban socialism and Fidel Castro. In this
light it is interesting to note that two key SWP lies have disappeared
in Gonzalez's book. Gonzalez's purpose is to reconcile the
anti-capitalist movement's admiration for Che and Cuban socialism with
the SWP's, a historical counter-revolutionary position.
First lie: The Revolution was fought by a bunch of middle-class men in
the mountains with no relationship to the cities.
At Marxism 2003, the SWP's annual meeting, Gonzalez described Cuba as:
"The command model, the idea of a revolution conducted and run by
revolutionaries with the passive support of the masses." In this
account, the Revolution was carried out by a small-militarised core,
with no participation in the cities.
Now Gonzalez's book recognises the existence of the M26J urban
movement led by Frank Pais: "Pais would be a key figure in the 26 July
Movement, as organiser of the urban movement." (p.53) Gonzalez now
shamelessly criticises Che for doing what the SWP has done until now
-- censoring the importance of the urban underground movement.
Discussing Che's upbringing Gonzalez says: "More important, perhaps,
than these directly political questions is the matter of the social
class to which the family belonged" (p.10) and speculates about "how
clearly he bore the marks of his class." (p.13) with an anecdote about
a beggar rejecting his help. Considering the class background of Marx,
Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, it is ridiculous that the SWP attempts to
discredit both Che and Fidel Castro for being middle-class. Clearly it
is not individual class background that is important but the class
interests such revolutionaries represent in the movement.
Within months of Batista's coup in March 1952, Fidel set up the M26J,
recruiting from the poor constituency of Havana where he had been
standing as a congressional candidate. Within a few months 1,500
members of the M26J were engaged in military training. They made an
alliance with Frank Pais and another group in Santiago, Cuba's second
city. Of those who attacked Moncada Barracks on 26 July 1953, "most
were factory workers and shop assistants," (Hugh Thomas, "Cuba," p.36)
The attack failed militarily and 61 of the 125 participants were
massacred. Politically, however, it sparked a movement throughout the
country, demanding the release of the survivors. In May 1955, less
than two years later, Batista submitted to public pressure and the
prisoners were released. Clearly then, Fidel and the M26J already had
public support. Gonzalez doesn't think so: "who were the guerrillas
beyond the small self-selecting group who had landed from the Granma?"
The urban wing of the M26J had sections for labour organisation, civic
resistance, students, urban militia, propaganda and treasury. Life in
the cities was more perilous than in the mountains, because of the
iron grip of the dictatorship. Nonetheless the M26J's National
Workers' Front organised work stoppages, the M26J's Civic Resistance
organised national strike committees and the M26J's National Student
Front agitated in schools. The urban militia carried out sabotage and
burned sugar cane. Frank Pais, the movement's leader, was assassinated
on 30 July 1957. He was 23 years old. The following day, 60,000 people
attended his funeral, businesses shut and workers went on strike
spontaneously for several days until Batista's repression forced them
back to work. This courageous and revolutionary history is censored by
the SWP and Gonzalez who writes: "The nature of the guerrilla
struggle, and its leadership by the 26 July Movement under Castro,
also meant that no mass organisations or organs of workers'
self-defence had grown in the course of the revolutionary war. That
was a necessary consequence of a war conducted until its very final
moments in areas remote from the centres of population and political
Second lie: Che knew nothing about Marxism.
In 1991 Socialist Worker claimed that Che was "never inspired by
anything which remotely resembled Marxism." This is repeated
frequently from SWP platforms. Gonzalez now identifies Che with
Marxism, admitting that even before arriving in Cuba: "He had begun to
read his way into Marxist writings in a slightly more systematic way."
In 1963 Che instigated a "Great Debate" between Cuban revolutionaries,
members of the old Cuban Communist Party and internationally renowned
Marxists. The debate was about how to move away from the laws of
motion of capitalism and construct socialism in Cuba. Key to the
debate was the question of moral versus material incentives. Gonzalez
characterises Che's advocacy of moral incentives as an expression of
idealism or subjectivism. Gonzalez asks: "Why did he lay such emphasis
on the question of a new consciousness? It was certainly not for
economic reasons, or because committed people are more efficient
producers." (p.149) He is wrong. Che wrote: "We maintain that the
development of consciousness does more for the development of
production in a relatively short time than material incentives do."
("On the Budgetary Finance System," February 1964)
Che criticised the socialist bloc for using the "dull instruments of
capitalism" -- the law of value, the profit motive, material
incentives -- in building socialism. The law of value determines
the distribution of the social product according to the socially
necessary labour time embodied within it. The law of value is at the
heart of capitalist production. For Che Guevara, moral incentives and
voluntary labour were key to undermining the law of value because they
contradict its logic, under which workers sell their labour power in
order to purchase their subsistence, while creating profits for the
Gonzalez's book is marred by factual errors, dubious referencing,
spurious assertions and derogatory statements, backed by no evidence.
Gonzalez has pulled his information from several mainstream
biographies of Che and quotes some of Che's best-known works via
secondary sources, implying that he has not read them. A few examples
On pages 71-2 Gonzalez claims that during the guerrilla struggle "the
26 July Movement was also in regular contact with the CIA...and money
had already reached the Movement from US government agencies." No
evidence or reference is supplied for this claim.
On page 137 he quotes Jon Lee Anderson favourably: "There is no longer
any doubt that his [Che] and Fidel's paths had begun to diverge." A
few pages later Gonzalez states that: "While the economic argument was
developing with growing ferocity, Fidel was moving towards the
position that Che was defending." (p.141)
As examples of baseless derogatory comments; on Che's youth, Gonzalez
says: "Apart from his sexual dalliances with women workers, there is
little evidence to suggest that Ernesto had very much contact with
working people." (pp.16-17) On the Rebel Army’s arrival at La
Cabana fortress on the triumph of the Revolution, Gonzalez says Che
"opted for a kind of mass marriage ceremony within the fortress,
legitimising the uninhibited sexuality of the youth soldiers." (p.95)
While Gonzalez's book spreads its counter-revolutionary nonsense in
Britain the Cuban people prepare for an attack by the US. Cuba's best
defence from imperialist aggression is to continue to strengthen the
remarkable achievements of Cuban socialism, in healthcare, education,
culture, science, sustainable development and in international
solidarity. As Gonzalez's words ring hollow round the walls of Marxism
2004, Cuba continues to make an indelible contribution to
I have just read the article on immigration and the campaign for
amnesty for those considered 'illegals' in The Plough Vol. 2-5. There
is a new documentary out in USA called something like "Tomorrow There
Will Be No Mexicans in California" which explores the effect on Calif.
and its economy, culture and social life if the Mexicans were to
disappear suddenly. It's made by a Latino group to try and dispel the
myths surrounding immigration in that particular airt. Try and get to
see it if you can. We have, of course, the same attitudes in Britain
towards immigrants of whatever race or religion although it seems to
be more vicious and violent than in Ireland -- with some exceptions of
I have spent many years studying the immigrant experience in various
countries since the early nineteenth century and have tried to get
students to understand the vast contribution that various waves of
immigrants have brought to those countries that they chose as their
I wish you well with your campaign.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Urgent: Peruvian Student Activist arrested in Bolivia (updated)
Bolivian government increases pressure on comrade Cesar Zelada
Intensify the solidarity campaign!
As we reported earlier, the Peruvian youth and revolutionary activist
Cesar Zelada, was arrested 6 days ago in Bolivia, during the protest
movement of university students in Puno and other universities in
Bolivia (see: University revolt in Oruro: Students and workers join
Cesar went to Bolivia as part of a delegation of students from the
Puno University (Peru) in solidarity with the struggle of the Bolivian
students and to participate in a meeting of the recently formed youth
wing of the Bolivian Workers Union (COB).
The latest news we have received from Bolivia about the situation of
the comrade are really worrying. He has been jailed in the San Pedro
Penal (La Paz), where he remains in isolation, but with common
prisoners. The prosecutor of the case is rabidly anti-Communist and
pro-government. In this way they are trying to break the morale of the
comrade, keeping him locked to set an example to other Bolivian youth
and students of what can happen to them if they continue with their
protests against the Carlos Mesa government.
Cesar has a court appointed lawyer, but he is not an expert on matters
related to terrorism or ?subversion? which is what the state is
falsely accusing the comrade of. These are the usual charges that
reactionary and bourgeois authorities all over the world throw at
those who dare to defy and denounce the privileges of the rich and
We must intensify the international campaign, involving youth, student
and labour movement organisations, to force the Carlos Mesa government
to release our comrade immediately.
We ask our readers to continue and intensify the campaign of messages
of protest to the Bolivian authorities and the protests outside the
Bolivian embassies around the world.
Send urgent messages of protest demanding the release of Cesar Zelada
Presidencia de la República (Carlos Mesa) email@example.com
Ministerio de Gobierno. Dr Saúl Lara Torrico firstname.lastname@example.org
El Viceministro del Interior email@example.com
With copies to firstname.lastname@example.org
Seamus Costello Commemoration
Assemble 1.pm Sunday 10th October Town Hall Bray for March to Little
Organised by the Irish Republican Socialist Movement
ALL REPUBLICAN SOCIALISTS TO ATTEND
30 September 2004
Senate Room, Queen's University Belfast
Queen's University Belfast, The School of Politics and International
Studies, The Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict, in conjunction
with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), present a one
day conference: "Interpreting Ongoing Crises in the Northern Ireland
Peace Process: Civil Society Dimensions."
Speakers include: Professor Rupert Taylor (University of the
Witwatersrand), Dr Feargal Cochrane (Lancaster University), Robin
Wilson (Democratic Dialogue), Dr Christopher Farrington (QUB), Dr
Cathal McCall (QUB), Michael Potter (Training for Women Network),
Roisin McGlone (SICDP), Debbie Watters (Shankill Alternatives), Cllr
Mark Langhammer (Labour Party).
Places will be strictly limited. If interested please contact
Christopher Farrington, School of Politics and International Studies,
Queen’s University Belfast, C.Farrington@qub.ac.uk, 028 9097
Saturday, 9 October 2004
Young Women Talk Participation and Power
Call for Participants and Facilitators To a Young Women's Political
St Columb's Park House, 4 Limavady Road, Derry/Londonderry, Northern
What it is about:
The event will provide the space for you...
To meet and share your experiences of being a young woman interested
in local and global issues.
To discuss the barriers that prevent you from participating in public
and political activities.
To explore the different methods employed by organizations and
political parties throughout the world to promote the inclusion of
To identify and develop strategies to achieve the full participation
of young women.
To put forward practical proposals to decision makers to achieve this
Who will be there?
Will be aged between 16 and 30.
Will come from minority ethnic communities and the majority
Will be lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or heterosexual.
Will have a disability or not.
Will have children or not.
Will share an interest or an involvement in political activism,
community work, NGOs, local and global issues.
Female elected representatives who share, listen and want to support
younger women into leadership and decision-making.
What does it cost?
NOTHING -- the event is free of charge and includes lunch. We will
subsidise travel expenses and childcare/care allowance. There is a
bus going from Belfast to Derry/L'Derry.
Are you interested in volunteering your skills to facilitate small
group discussions in the afternoon?
We invite young women who enjoy facilitating discussions and who have
some experience in this to please tick the appropriate box in the
attached registration form. We will get in contact with you for
Interested in participating?
Please return attached registration form to St Columb's Park House or
contact Charlotte, Tel: 028 7134 3080, Email: email@example.com, or
Carola, Tel: 028 9024 3363, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
10.30am: Registration, Tea and Coffee
11.00am: Welcome by Carola Speth, Women into Politics
11.15am: 'Women in Decision-Making: An Overview of the Situation in
Europe,' Cecile Greboval, European Women's Lobby
11.25am: 'Quotas & Votas: Engender's Role in the 50/50 Campaign,'
Lorna Ahlquist, Engender Scotland
11.35am: 'If you can't see a space for yourself, build one of your
own,' Barbary Cook, Queer Activist
11.45am: Question & Answer Session
12.00 noon: WORKSHOPS
2.00pm: Feedback from workshop groups
2.25pm: Discussion and Dialogue, Chair: Susan McReynolds, Presenter
on BBC Radio Foyle
3.25pm: Evaluation and Action Points
3.55pm: Closure by Charlotte Cox, St Columb's Park House
Who we are.
Women into Politics (WiP) is a cross-community project which actively
encourages the full participation of women in public and political
life by providing and promoting dialogue, advocacy and training. WiP
is independent of all political parties and works with women in all
their diversities. The project is based on feminist principles and
grounded in a community development ethos.
St Columb's Park House runs a number of projects promoting peace-
building, political dialogue, active citizenship, political literacy
and human rights. The Political Youth Forums programme brings
together members of political parties and youth wings aged 18-30
from across the UK and the island of Ireland to discuss policy issues
of common concern.
Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the Community Relations Council NI
via Peace II and Atlantic Philanthropies.
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