Sunday 25 March 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 09

The Plough
Vol. 4- No 9
Sunday 25th March 2007

E-mail newsletter of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Editorial

2) Jailed for wanting a better society

3) Unfair Media?

4) Philip Agee

6) From the Media
a. Activistism-Left Anti-Intellectualism and its Discontents
b. Bolshevism, the Road to Revolution,

7) What’s On?


In this edition we carry a rather long piece by three comrades from the USA entitled “Activistism-Left Anti-Intellectualism and its Discontents.” The article while dealing with the anti-war movement has something to say to us in Ireland whether in the anti-war movement or in republican opposition groups. Many young comrades come into political activity wanting to do something and so sometimes rush into a frenetic round of activity including pickets, marches meetings etc. In the course of all this action they sometimes forget what it is they are actually trying to achieve and when the energy runs out and they “burn out” they sometimes walk away from political struggle disillusioned. They would have been better to think, read and explore the revolutionary ideas of Marxism. We also carry a letter from a reader complaining about references to RSF in the Plough Vol 4-7. To give the readers a better understanding of the issue we have reprinted the original statement by the president of RSF along with a response to the letter. We are also happy to reprint an article from a comrade from the CPI, which is directly relevant to republicans and gives an excellent definition of what is a political prisoner.

Jailed for wanting a better society

“A political prisoner is a person who is being jailed for wanting a better society and fighting for a better life for the people” (Fidel Castro, 1997).

By Hermann Glaser-Baur

The 17th of March is connected to St. Patrick by most people on these shores and to St. Gertrud by many on the continent.

When asked about March 18th a majority on both sides of the waters would probably have to think twice. The old and politically important significance of the day has been “forgotten”; the bourgeois media are trying their best to keep it that way.
Until the 1920s the 18th of March was commemorated as “the day of the commune” because of the start of the uprising in France on March 18th 1871. 25 000 people lost their lives and over 3 000 died in the prisons of the French ruling class after the bloody defeat of the commune. Remembering them and the almost 14 000 revolutionaries who were sentenced to life-imprisonment was a central task of the commemorations and when the 4th world-congress of the Communist International decided in 1922 to found the “red-solidarity” movement (in some countries it was called “red help”), the 18th of March was chosen as the world-wide day of solidarity with political prisoners. Despite repeated attempts to ban it, illegalise it and brand mark it as an invention by the “enemies of the state” and terrorists, the 18th of March remained a day of many huge demonstrations of solidarity with political prisoners all over the globe. Saco and Vancetti’s lives couldn’t be saved but others were and the huge impact of the “red help” made it one of the first organisations to be banned by the German, the Italian and later the Spanish fascists.
It took until the 1980s until the German “Rote Hilfe” had been re-built and in 1996 they decided (along with Libertad, an anarchist group) to re-vitalise the tradition of the day of the political prisoner. Much needed it is, in a time, when Guantanamo Bay is only the tip of an iceberg of jails in which people are stripped of any human rights, tortured and murdered.
In Germany, to give but one example, Christian Klar, one of the early members of the “red army fraction” (often referred to as the “Bader-Meinhof group”) has been imprisoned for more than 24 years. His request for pardon is likely to be refused by the German president because he sent a message of solidarity to this year’s Liebknecht-Luxemburg gathering in Berlin. This is been viewed by the authorities as prove that he is still an enemy of the state.
Imagine: One of the leading “democracies” of the world denies a man pardon after 24 years in isolation- and high security prison, simply because he dared to send greetings to a gathering of 80 000 people who came to remember two working class leaders who had been killed by elite soldiers of that very state.
Klar’s case is in the centre of the “red help” publication for March 18th this year.

The term political prisoner has been given a strange tinge here in Ireland. People on either side of the sectarian divide would view members of “their” community as POWs and political prisoners whereas those on the other side are often looked upon as gangsters.
Communists have a much clearer definition: “A political prisoner is a person who is being jailed for wanting a better society and fighting for a better life for the people” (Fidel Castro, 1997).
Those people need our solidarity on March 18th and beyond – world-wide.

Unfair Media?
For release
1ú Márta/March 2007

Press Release/Preas Ráiteas From Republican Sinn Fein

Republican Sinn Féin candidates not given fair media coverage
Statement by the President of Republican Sinn Féin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

Publicity regarding Republican Sinn Féin‚s six candidates in a similar number of constituencies in the current Six-County elections have not been given fair coverage by the print media not indeed by radio or television.

The excuse is that this occurs because the establishment refuses to recognise us as a party‚, regarding our six candidates as six Independents‚ and treating them as such. Minority viewpoints are getting scant or no coverage with the notable exception of Robert McCartney and his UKUP who is himself standing as a candidate in six different constituencies.

Republican Sinn Féin is organised throughout Ireland with a national office in Dublin and another office in Belfast, a monthly newspaper published without a break for 20 years and a coherent political philosophy as our election manifesto indicates.

A prime issue in this election is the question of English policing here. Our election workers continue to be harassed by the RUC/PSNI as they go about their work.

On last Sunday February 25 our Director of Elections Michael Lavelle was stopped in Lisnaskea, his car was searched and he was generally harassed. On Wednesday February 28 as he and the election campaign‚s Director of Finance JJ McCusker were returning from Belfast, following a tour of constituencies, they were again stopped on the M1 near Dungannon, had their car searched and were generally harassed.

On both occasions the election workers made their positions and responsibilities clear. Will Martin McGuinness and other Provo candidates who accept the British police in Ireland, in order to, “Teach them manners” (Their words) speak out now and condemn such tactics or do they condone them as an integral part of British rule which they have agreed to and seek to administer through Stormont?

Letter on Comments On Republican Sinn Fein


I don't believe your negative comments towards RSF candidates is very helpful in regards to seeing a united Ireland free of British imperialist rule. How can you make statements like?

" Republican Sinn Fein’s complaints that they were denied proper coverage in the media is really a pathetic attempt to hide the reality that they have little support from republicans within the nationalist community. Their obsession with “English” as in their statement of Friday 9th of March, 07 “To consolidate English rule” and “by unscrupulous English governments.” is a blatant attempt to appeal to a reactionary form of nationalism playing up people’s dislike of the English, a view shared by many people world wide. " (The Plough Vol 4-7)

You should know above any other about media control and it's effects. Is it not the imperialists that are in control of the media? I must ask do you have a problem with the fact that some people have a real aversion to the "English" being in and controlling Ireland. Is it not a fact it is none other than the English that conquered, enslaved and continue to do so to this very day. It is not a fact that the English are the prime target in Eire simply because it is England that continues to be Eire's master. I think it is pathetic, after doing your best to demean RSF and their candidates; you would then throw out a false olive branch stating that we need to consolidate.
At least RSF hasn't completely given up their stance for an armed struggle in Ireland as everybody else including yourselves have. I would think this might be a proper time to quote Mao,
"the power of politics is always won over the barrel of a gun"


Joe Mc Daid

PS. This is coming from a person that is a life long supporter of Fidel Castro and sees Che Guevara as one of the greatest men in the history of man. I have fought against imperialism my entire life. Che didn't believe in giving up the armed struggle.


Joe’s comments are welcome as they provide an opportunity to openly discuss some issues that are sometimes left alone.

1/ First as regards the media it is true that they are controlled by pro-imperialist elements. But so what? They were also controlled by the same elements when provisional Sinn Fein first entered the electoral field. Despite negative media coverage PSF vote rose and rose because they tapped into a nerve within the nationalist population. They engaged with the people. Republicans have always had to deal with a hostile media. So that’s nothing new. RSF’s vote was small because they have little support. In West Belfast even the Workers Party did better than them.
The IRSP experience of RSF itself has not been positive. Their members have in the past mistakenly accused us of supporting the Good Friday Agreement. They refuse to work jointly with other groups. Recently on a white line picket they refused to acknowledge the presence of IRSP members on the picket. They refused to engage as an organisation with concerned republicans on policing debates. This elitist and superior attitude towards other republicans needs to be attacked politically and does Joe think we should simply suppress differences and not mention them. Lets have a bit of honesty here.

2/ We make no apology for attacking the use of the tern “English” Words are also weapons and these words downplay the actual role of Imperialism in its world role. To use the term English is to reduce the struggle in Ireland to an anti-English one. Many of our best elements of the English working class have supported the right of the Irish to self –determination. It also downplays the role British regiments played in the suppression of republicans including those made up of Scots and Welsh soldiers.

3/ As regards the question of armed struggle perhaps Joe can clarify RSF’position. I understood that they have no links with anyone else. They claim to be a stand-alone party with no links to anyone else. They themselves are not engaged in armed struggle to my knowledge but do support republican prisoners who have engaged in armed activity. That being the case one would think they would support all republican prisoners. But they don’t. Perhaps Joe could explain why they are selective in which prisoners they support. Might that also stem from an elitist attitude?
The IRSP position is that there is no basis for armed struggle at this time. And we have spelt this out clearly on many occasions. Those who elevate armed struggle to a strategic level regardless of objective conditions just do not understand revolutionary politics no matter how many posters of Che they have on the wall. One cannot separate either Che or Mao from their politics. Both were committed communists and both also engaged in building socialism as well as having engaged in armed struggle. Armed struggle with out politics is the road to defeat demoralisation and destruction.

4/As regards olive branches Joe the position of RSF as regards joint work is forbidden by Ard-Feis resolution so our suggestions were not directed at them but to other republicans and socialists. If on the other hand RSF began to reach out to others then we have no doubt that the IRSP would be prepared to sit down and openly and honestly discuss areas of agreement and differences with them.

PRESS RELEASE - Announcing the Visit to Ireland of Philip Agee

Gerardo Hernandez

Antonio Guerrero

Ramon Libation

Fernando Gonzalez

Rene Gonzalez


Irish National Campaign seeking Justice for the Miami Five

Campaign Update 11 March 2007


Announcing the Visit to Ireland of Philip Agee

After blowing the whistle on the dirty tactics of his CIA bosses in the
70s, Philip Agee was forced into exile. Thirty years on he has found a safe haven in Cuba, but his fight to expose the complicity of Washington in terrorism goes on.

Free the Miami Five and Cuba Support Group Ireland are pleased to jointly sponsor the visit to Ireland of this former CIA undercover agent and author later this month.

Agee is in Ireland to bring attention to the case of the Miami Five and to promote a new film by Bernie Dwyer and Roberto Ruis called "One Man's Story: Philip Agee, Cuba and The CIA". This is a follow up to the filmmaker's previous successful tour of Ireland with their "Mission against Terror" film, also on the case of the Miami Five.

We are pleased to confirm that all public meetings will be chaired by very distinguished human rights academics, attesting to the global profile of the case of the Miami Five and the miscarriage of justice that has seen them spend eight years in jail in the USA for seeking, through entirely non-violent means, to prevent terrorist crimes against
The following is the tour itinerary:

BELFAST Peter Froggatt Centre, Queens University Belfast, 1pm Friday 30
March 2007

- Chaired by Professor Denis O'Hearn

DUBLIN Walton Theatre, Trinity College Dublin, 7.30pm Tuesday 3 April

- Chaired by Professor Ivana Bacik

GALWAY Town Hall Theatre, 8pm Thursday 5 April 2007

- Chaired by Professor William Schabas

Admission free, all welcome.

A shameful

Philip Agee

Saturday March 10, 2007
The Guardian,,2030677,00.html

There is a wave of progressive change sweeping Latin America and the
Caribbean after the many lonely years in which Cuba held high the torch, with free universal healthcare and education, and world-class cultural, sports and scientific achievements. Although you won't find a Cuban today who says things are perfect - far from it - probably all would agree that compared with pre-revolutionary Cuba, there is a world of improvement.

George Bush, the antithesis of this process, is now in Brazil at the start of a mission to lure five countries away from regional economic integration. However, the many thousands in the streets demonstrate the region's vast repudiation of Bush and what he stands for, something polls reflect unanimously.

All Cuba's achievements have been in defiance of US efforts to isolate Cuba; every dirty method has been used, including infiltration, sabotage, terrorism, assassination, economic and biological warfare and incessant lies in the media of many countries. I know these methods too well, having been a CIA officer in Latin America in the 1960s.
Altogether nearly 3,500 Cubans have died from terrorist acts, and more than 2,000 are permanently disabled. No country has suffered terrorism as long and consistently as Cuba.

The Cuban revolution has always needed intelligence capabilities in the US for defence purposes, even before it took power in 1959. Such was the fully justified mission of the Cuban Five, who have been in jail since 1998 after being convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in Miami, where they had no chance of a fair trial. Their sights were set exclusively on terrorist operations against Cuba - activities ignored by the FBI - and they neither sought nor received any classified government information. Their cases are still on appeal, and will be for years, but their biased convictions rank with the legal lynching in the 1920s of
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the anarchist immigrants, among the most shameful injustices in US history.

Current US policy can be found in the 2004 report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (updated last year with a secret annexe). A fundamental goal - the same, I remember, as in 1959 - is the isolation of Cuba to stop this bad example spreading. If successful, this would mean no less than annexation by, and complete dependence on, the US, in fact if not in law. Other goals still intact are to foment an internal political opposition and economic hardship, leading to hunger and despair.

Yet nearly 50 years of US economic warfare hasn't worked, even though
Cubans estimate the cost to them at more than $80bn. After the freefall in the early 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economy began to recover in 1995. By 2005 growth was 11.8% and in 2006 12.5%, the highest in Latin America. Exports of services, nickel and pharmaceutical and other products are booming, and the US has not been able to stop this.

In the end efforts to isolate Cuba have failed. Last September Cuba was elected, for the second time, to lead the Non-Aligned Movement of 118 countries, and two months later the UN voted for the 15th consecutive year to condemn the US embargo, by 183 to 4.

In 2007 Cuba has diplomatic or consular relations with 182 countries, and Havana hosts seemingly endless international conferences. In recent years Cuba's resorts have been attracting more than 2 million tourists annually. Far from isolating Cuba, the US has isolated itself.

More than 30,000 Cuban doctors and health workers are saving lives in 69 countries, many in difficult areas. Meanwhile 30,000 young people from dozens of countries are studying medicine in Cuba on full scholarships. All come from areas lacking doctors.

Cuba's literacy programme, known as "Yes I can", has been adopted in nearly 30 countries, with thousands of Cuban volunteers teaching. The scheme, conducted in Spanish, Portuguese, English, Creole, Quechua and Aymara, has helped some 2 million people to read and write, most of whom continue their education afterwards.

Thanks to this international assistance, Cuban prestige and influence - and international solidarity with Cuba, - have never been greater. It was to defend these worthy programmes that the Cuban Five, unjustly convicted, went to Miami in the 1990s. Freedom for them should be the cause of everyone for whom human rights and justice are important, both in the US and around the world; and that cause can be supported in 300
Free the Five solidarity committees in 90 countries.
Philip Agee, a former CIA secret operations officer, is author of Inside the Company: CIA Diary. He travels in Cuba and Latin America as a campaigner, and manages an online travel service to Cuba.

For more detail on Philip Agee see: "The Spy who Stayed out in the

For a review of the film "One Man's Story: Philip Agee, Cuba and The CIA" see:


Five Cubans who were trying to stop Miami based terrorist groups from carrying out violent actions against the people of Cuba. They were found guilty of charges ranging from murder to espionage by a court in Miami, which relied on the evidence of convicted terrorists. All are innocent of the charges brought against them. Extensive intimidation of jurists by these same terrorists was a feature of the trial. They are currently appealing their convictions.


The release and exoneration of the five victims of this obvious miscarriage of justice.


The campaign is dedicated to the memory of the 3,478 Cubans killed and
2,099 maimed at the hands of US-based terrorists groups since 1959.


Campaign Chairperson: Eleanor Lanigan - 087 2426755 Secretary:
Simon McGuinness - 087 2360234
POST: 282 Clontarf Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3
E-MAIL: WEB SITES: www., www.,


From the Media


Left Anti-Intellectualism and its Discontents

by Liza Featherstone, Doug Henwood & Christian Parenti

"We can't get bogged down in analysis," one activist told us at an antiwar rally in New York a while back, spitting out that last word like a hairball. He could have relaxed his vigilance. This event deftly avoided such bogs, loudly opposing the US bombing in Afghanistan without offering any credible ideas about it (we're not counting the notion that the entire escapade was driven by Unocal and Lockheed Martin). But the moment called for doing something more than brandishing the exact same signs˜ Stop the Bombing and No War for Oil˜ that activists poked skyward during the first Gulf War. This latest war called for some thinking, and few were doing much of that.

So what is the ideology of the activist left (and by that we mean the global justice, peace, media democracy, community organizing, financial populist and green movements)? Is the activist left just an inchoate "post-ideological" mass of do-gooders, pragmatists and puppeteers? No. The young troublemakers of today do have an ideology and it is as deeply felt and intellectually totalizing as any of the great belief systems of yore. The cadres who populate those endless meetings, who bang the drum, who lead the "trainings" and paint the puppets, do indeed have a creed. They are activistists.

That's right, activistists. This brave new ideology combines the political illiteracy of hypermediated American culture with all the moral zeal of a 19th-century temperance crusade. In this worldview, all roads lead to more activism and more activists. And the one who acts is righteous. The activistists seem to borrow their philosophy from the factory boss in a Heinrich Böll short story who greets his employees each morning with the exhortation "Let's have some action." To which the workers obediently reply: "Action will be taken!"

Activists unconsciously echoing factory bosses? The parallel isn't as far-fetched as it might seem, as another German, Theodor Adorno, suggests. Adorno˜who admittedly doesn't have the last word on activism, since he called the cops on University of Frankfurt demonstrators in 1968˜nonetheless had a good point when he criticized the student and antiwar movement of the 1960s for what he called "actionism." In his eyes this was an unreflective "collective compulsion for positivity that allows its immediate translation into practice." Though embraced by people who imagine themselves to be radical agitators, that thoughtless compulsion mirrors the pragmatic empiricism of the dominant culture˜"not the least way in which actionism fits so smoothly into society's prevailing trend." Actionism, he concluded, "is regressive.... It refuses to reflect on its own impotence."

It may seem odd to cite this just when activistism appears to be working fine. Protest is on an upswing; even the post-9/11 frenzy of terror baiting didn't shut down the movement. Demonstrators were out in force to protest the World Economic Forum, with a grace and discipline that buoyed spirits worldwide. The youth getting busted, gassed and trailed by the cops are putting their bodies on the line to oppose global capital; they are brave and committed, even heroic.

But is action enough? We pose this question precisely because activism seems so strong. The flipside of all this agitation is a corrosive and aggressive anti-intellectualism. We object to this hostility toward thinking-not only because we've all got a cranky intellectual bent, but also because it limits the movement's transformative power. Our gripe is historically specific. If everyone was busy with bullshit doctrinal debates we would prescribe a little anti-intellectualism. But that is not the case right now.

The Real Price of Not Thinking

How does activist anti-intellectualism manifest on the ground? One instance is the reduction of strategy to mere tactics, to horrible effect. Take for example the largely failed San Francisco protest against the National Association of Broadcasters, an action that ended up costing tens of thousands of dollars, gained almost no attention, had no impact on the NAB and nearly ruined one of the sponsoring organizations. During a postmortem discussion of this debacle one of the organizers reminded her audience that: "We had 3,000 people marching through [the shopping district] Union Square protesting the media. That's amazing. It had never happened before." Never mind the utter non-impact of this aimless march. The point was clear: We marched for ourselves. We were our own targets. Activism made us good.

Thoughtless activism confuses the formulation of political aims. One of us was on a conference panel during which an activist lawyer went on about the virtues of small businesses, and the need for city policy to encourage them. When it was pointed out that enthusiasm for small business should be tempered by a recognition that smaller businesses tend to pay less, are harder to organize, offer fewer fringe benefits and are more dangerous than larger businesses, the lawyer dismissed this as "the paralysis of analysis." On another panel, when it was pointed out that Alinsky-style community organizing is a practical and theoretical failure whose severe limitations need to be recognized, an organizer and community credit union promoter shut down the conversation with a simple: "I just don't want to discuss this."

The antiwar "movement" is perhaps the most egregious recent example of a promising political phenomenon that was badly damaged by the anti-intellectual outlook of activistism. While activists frequently comment on the success of the growing peace movement˜many actions take place, conferences are planned, new people become activists˜no one seems to notice that it's no longer clear what war we're protesting. Repression at home? Future wars in Somalia? Even in the case of Afghanistan, it turned out to be important to have something to say to skeptics who asked: "What's your alternative? I think the government should protect me from terrorists, and plus this Taliban doesn't seem so great." The movement failed to address such questions, and protests dwindled.

On some college campuses, by contrast, where the war has been seen as a complicated opportunity for conversation rather than sign-waving, the movement has done better. But everywhere, the unwillingness to think about what it means to be against the war and how war fits into the global project of American empire has also led to a poverty of thinking about what kind of actions make sense. "How can we strategically affect the situation?" asks Lara Jiramanus of Boston's Campus Anti-War Coalition. "So we want to stop the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan˜what does it mean to have that as our goal? I don't think we talk about that enough."

We're not arguing for conformist ideologies. The impulse to resist hierarchy and mind-control is one of the more appealing and useful facets of the new activism. Consider the campus anti-sweatshop movement, which includes members of the International Socialist Organization, SDS-type radical democrats, anarchists and plain-vanilla liberals. This movement's willingness to embrace radicals and non-radicals alike has been a strength, attracting both policy wonks and people who like to chain their throats to the dean's desk. Such flexibility is usually commendable. What bothers us about activistism as an ideology is that it renders taboo any discussion of ideas or beliefs, and thus stymies both thought and action.

Thoughtful people find censorious hyper-pragmatism alienating and can drop away from organizing as a result. But that's not the only problem. It's important to encourage better thinking, says Jiramanus, "so hippie-to-yuppie doesn't happen again." As she points out, without an analysis of what's really wrong with the world˜or a vision of the better world you're trying to create˜people have no reason to continue being activists once a particular campaign is over. In this way, activistism plus single-issue politics can end up defeating itself. Activistism is tedious, and its foot soldiers suffer constant burnout. Thinking, after all, is engaging; were it encouraged, Jiramanus pleads, "We'd all be enjoying ourselves a bit more."

Increasingly, there are activists who treat ideas as important. "We need to develop a new rhetoric that connects sweat-shops˜and living wage and the right to organize˜to the global economy," says the University of Michigan's Jackie Bray, an anti-sweatshop activist. Liana Molina of Santa Clara University agrees: "I think our economic system determines everything!" But about the student movement's somewhat vague ideology, she has mixed feelings. "It's good to be ambiguous and inclusive," so as not to alienate more conservative, newer or less politicized members, she says. "But I also think a class analysis is needed. Then again, that gets shady, because people are like, 'Well, what are you for, socialism? What?'"

The problem is that activists like Molina who are asking the difficult questions that push into new political terrain are very often forced to operate in frustrating isolation, without the support of a community of fellow thinkers.

From Whence Came This Malady?

Steve Duncombe, a Direct Action Network activist, author and NYU professor, says his fellow activists "think very little about capitalism outside a moral discourse: Big is bad, and nothing about the state except in a sort of right-wing dismissal-state as authoritarian daddy."

Activistism is also intimately related to the decline of marxism, which at its best thrived on debates about the relations between theory and practice, part and whole. Unfortunately, much of this tradition has devolved into the alternately dreary and hilarious rants in sectarian papers. Marxism's decline (but not death: the three of us would happily claim the name) has led to wooly ideas about a nicer capitalism, and an indifference to how the system works as a whole. This blinkering is especially virulent in the US where a petit-bourgeois populism is the native radical strain, and anti-intellectualism is almost hard-wired into the culture. And because activistism emphasizes practicality, achievability and implementation over all else, a theory dedicated to understanding deep structures with an eye toward changing them necessarily gets shunted aside.

Marxism's decline isn't just an intellectual concern˜it too has practical effects. If you lack any serious understanding of how capitalism works, then it's easy to delude yourself into thinking that moral appeals to the consciences of CEOs and finance ministers will have some effect. You might think that central banks' habit of provoking recessions when the unemployment rate gets too low is a policy based on a mere misunderstanding. You might think that structural adjustment and imperial war are just bad lifestyle choices.

Unreflective pragmatism is also encouraged by much of the left's dependency on foundations. Philanthropy's role in structuring activism is rarely discussed, because almost everyone wants a grant (including us). But it should be. Foundations like focused entities that undertake specific politely meliorative schemes. They don't want anyone to look too closely at the system that's given them buckets of money that less fortunate people are forced to bay for.

Nonprofit culture fosters an array of mind-killing practices. Brainstorming on butcher paper and the use of breakout groups are effective methods for generating and collecting ideas and/or organizing pieces of a larger action. However, when used to organize political discussions these nonprofit tools can be disastrous. More often than not, everybody says something, breakout groups report back to the whole group, lists are compiled-and nothing really happens.

What is to be Done?

Our point is not that there should be less activism. The left is nothing without visible, disruptive displays of power. We applaud activism and engage in it ourselves. What we are calling for is an assault on the stupidity that pervades American culture. This implies a more democratic approach to the life of the mind and creating spaces for ideas in our lives and political work.

We're not calling for leadership by intellectuals. On the contrary, we challenge left activist culture to live up to its anti-hierarchical claims: Activists should themselves become intellectuals. Why reproduce the larger society's division between mental and physical labor? The rousing applause for Noam Chomsky at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre was hardly undeserved, but ideas don't belong on pedestals. They belong in the street, at work, in the home, at the bar and on the barricades.

We put out this call˜to indulge a bit of activistism lingo˜because the current moment demands some thinking. With still-wide approval for Bush and his endless war, waving one's Stop the Bombing sign from ten years ago won't build a mass movement.

The movement is also undergoing a fascinating rhetorical shift, as activists reject terms like "anti-globalization," which emphasized˜not very lucidly˜what they're against, in favor of slogans like "Another world is possible," which dare to evoke the possibility of radically different economic arrangements. What would that other world look like?

Activists must engage that question˜and to do so, they have to do a better job of understanding how this world really works. Intellectuals briefing activist groups on some aspect of how things are often face a tediously reductive question: "That's all very interesting, but how can we organize around that? What would be the slogans?"

The spirit we wish to inspire was expressed a few years ago by a Latin American graduate student. Seeing one of us holding a copy of Aijaz Ahmad's In Theory, he exclaimed with all seriousness:
"That book is like having an intellectual grenade in your hand. Hasta la victoria."
In many other countries, activists' tiny apartments are stacked with the well-thumbed works of Bakunin, Marx and Fanon. We'd like to see that kind of engagement here. And judging at least from the European experience, it would pay off even in activistism's own pragmatic terms: Protests in major European cities routinely dwarf our own, and activists there have far more influence on mainstream discourse and even government policy. In the long run, movements that can't think can't really do too much either.

Bolshevism, the Road to Revolution,

(This book was launched at the book fair in Cuba and is 758 pages long andwas sold for 50 Cuban pesos. Alan Woods has visited Cuban previously to launch REASON AND REVOLUTION, the book which he wrote together with his long-time comrade Ted Grant, published here last year.

(On March 6, Granma daily ran a FOUR-PAGE LONG FEATURE ANALYSIS of Iran and U.S. war threats against it, also written by Alan Woods: Keep in mind Granma is an eight-page paper and this took up half of the paper.)

February 16, 2007
A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.


An instructive book for today’s revolutionaries.

The title, Bolshevism, the Road to Revolution, by the British writer, Alan
Woods, presented at the Cuban XVI international Book Fair, 2007, is an instrument of struggle for today’s revolutionaries.

Published by the Friedrich Engels Foundation in Spain, the text revives original sources of Marxism and demonstrates important means to conduct a revolutionary process and the fundamental need to count on a solid vanguard party.

Woods explained that, after the fall of the USSR, reactionary forces pronounced the death of socialism, communism and Marxism and an opening up of a period of peace and prosperity, which was soon broadly disproved by reality.

There is nothing left of these bourgeois illusions today, he emphasized, adding that, although fierce campaigns of lies still continue against Marxism, its ideas are still very valid today and so necessary for the new generations who want to change the world.

According to the considered opinion of the British researcher, any person who does not know history has no choice but to act in ignorance. For this reason, it is absolutely fundamental for new generations to fully know the theories and practice of Marxism, among which are the need for a party to lead the masses.
He pointed out that this book is for the present and future and explained that the Bolshevik Party that led the Russian Revolution was very democratic, alive and bonded to the working class and not the monster of totalitarianism which the bourgeoisie presents it as.

What’s On?

We won’t pay campaign-Anti-Water rates campaign
7.30pm Monday 26th March
Larne Leisure Centre
Bawnmore, Belfast
7pm Wednesday 28th March
Millgreen Youth Centre
Shankill Rd, Belfast
7pm Thursday 29th March
Shankill Leisure Centre

Coiste na nIarchimí

In Partnership with the Belfast Film Festival presents
Societies In Transition: Policing For The People

Queens Film Theatre
20 University Square, Belfast
Thursday 29th March
10.00 a.m.

Screening of highlights from Barry Curran’s documentary for Northern Visions/NvTv, ‘Sinn Féin and Policing’ featuring interviews with Gerry Kelly (SF), Alex Atwood (SDLP,) Anthony McIntyre (journalist)
and Jude Collins (Broadcaster)

The film will be followed by a panel discussion between

Jim Auld - Community Restorative Justice (Falls Road)
Tom Winston - Alternatives (Shankill Road)
Dawn Purvis - (PUP MLA and member of Policing Board)
Jennifer McCann - (Sinn Féin MLA)
Admission Free - Everyone Welcome

Here are the films that will be screened here at an Chultúrlann as part of
the Belfast Film Festival.

7.30pm, Monday 26th March - Sacco and Vanzetti, Tickets £4.50/£3.50

7.30pm, Wednesday 28th March - Mise Éire, Tickets £4.50/£3.50
Scannáin ar stair 1916 le léacht beag riomh le Fiontán de Brún
Historical film on 1916 with a short lecture before with Fiontán de Brún
10.00am & 1.00pm Thursday 29th March - Mise Éire Schools Screenings,
Tickets £3.50 7:30pm Thursday 29th March - Frongoch £4.50/£3.50

7.30pm Friday 30th March - My Country My Country, Tickets £4.50/£3.50
Scannán faoi cogadh Iraq a bhain Oscar
An oscar winning film about the Iraq war
Jameson BoxOffice: 02890330443 or you can now book tickets online at


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Please feel free to comment on the contents of the Plough. We welcome political comments and criticisms.

If you would prefer to receive the Plough as an attachment please e-mail with heading “add attachment”

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If you wish to receive back copies of the “The Plough” Please e-mail” to or tating which numbers you wish.

To unsubscribe to the Plough please send e-mail entitled “unsubscribe” to or

It is the policy of the Plough to acknowledge information and articles from other sources.

The Republican Socialist Youth Movement have re-launched their website.

It can be viewed at

An Glór / The Voice

News sheet of Belfast Republican Socialist Youth Movement

January 2007

Circulation: 400

- Brit police never acceptable

- Maghaberry Prison protest continues

- Assets Recovery Agency, a question of money

- Support the Turkish death fast

- Ard Fheis rejects any move towards INLA decommissioning

- Volunteer Davy McNutt RIP

The Republican Socialist Youth Movement have produced a short video on the situation concerning Shannon airport and its continued use by American troops and the CIA. The video can be viewed at

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