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Thread: The Left Forum

  1. #16
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by pluralist View Post
    The sheer lack of solidarity from other leftists when SF were being collectively defamed in the oligarchy controlled Irish mass media as a bunch of Evil Child Abusing Women Hating Rapists (TM) is troubling to me.

    If people like me (and I'm from a relatively privileged South Dublin background, suffice to say I imbibed the Cruiserite propaganda, and mainly believed it, when I was a naive young man) are voting SF, and not making any apologies for it, that should tell you something.

    If the establishment hates them that much, and is prepared to put a lot of money into defaming them, maybe they are threatening to the oligarchy.

    Our esteemed forum host has decided that SF are just a branch of FF, and not part of the really true proper left, and has placed all her hopes and trust in Clare Daly (granted, an effective, hard-working and honest TD as far as I can gather ) and a former capitalist property developer from the South East who has recently decided he doesn't like capitalism all that much (could it be because he's really a populist who likes capitalism when it suits him, and socialism when it doesn't - who knows, lol.)

    I wish her good luck with that, but I'm not convinced it's a viable route to a 32 county socialist republic, which I assume is what she supports.
    The problem here is a lack of willingness to bring the left together.

    Thankfully the politicians of the left, the Unions and the campaigners are at least beginning to make some inroads that others are not.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apjp View Post
    Does it matter? The Right 2 Change coalition is as good a start as anything and they are actually co-operating on legal, political, council and social matters.

    Is there any Irish left party you would even vote for? You seem to say so often that none of them are actually what you would call leftwing.
    There is no left wing party in Ireland that I can think of that I would not vote for, under certain circumstances. My main complaint at times of elections is that there are not enough left candidates to vote for.

    There is no one on the left no matter how active or otherwise who does not discuss, critically, what their own and other parties are and are not doing.

    My main criticism of Right2Change was that it engineered and accelerated a split ( no matter that it might have come anyway) with the Socialist Party. I think that splits should only come as a last resort when a principled unity has proven completely impossible. It appeared to me that Right2Change should have been able to accommodate membership of the SP - particularly given how loose its membership is and that it includes at least one group that had a lurch in the direction of rac ism in its recent history.

    The Clery's workers situation - and the whole scam of the Clery's close-down was and is an absolute scandal that shows up the rotteness and total unfairness of the economic/financial system. If employment law is changed to prevent scams like that, it would be a significant victory. Would what is proposed save the Clerys jobs, which were unionised positions?

    Sitting around and talking and studying is at times is the only option, in periods of defeat and inactivity by the working class, but I agree it is no kind of valid position to be in when things are on the move. Everyone who is in any way serious is doing something.

    I'm not sure what you are saying in your last sentence. Would you expand a bit on it ?
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  3. #18

    Default Re: The Left Forum

    I've been involved with left activism on and off for the last 7 or 8 years (more off than on really, particularly in the last 3 years) but am looking to get reengaged over the next few months - where would people recommend I should be looking to get involved? i know this isn't the specific topic of the thread but it seems to be as good a fit as anywhere.

    My interests are predominantly in research/policy formation, rather than protesting/selling papers, and what I would really like to do (and where i feel i could actually be of some use) is to get involved with a party or group that was going to put some serious work into putting together a proper policy platform for the Irish left. Quite frankly i think the pre-election manifestos and policy positions of the main Irish left parties (AAA, PBP and Workers Party) tend to be little more than a collection of slogans with no real consideration given to how the various specific proposals would interact, how they would be implemented, their economic costs/benefits within the confines of the existing capitalist system (which is the context in which the specific proposals are being presented) while also failing to even begin to outline how they would propose that we begin or bring about the transition to a socialist society, save for the odd nod to nationalizing the largest companies/banks.

    I don't buy the line that i have often heard trotted out that essentially we don't need to worry about these types of programmes because if the left was ever close to achieving power we would be in a revolutionary situation that would be entirely different - what a load of bullshit that is! You might as well be waiting for Godot as waiting for a re-enactment of 1917 in modern Dublin.

    In my view what the left in Ireland needs if it is ever to have any realistic aspirations of taking power is to begin to put forward a) a coherent and implementable programme of what a left government would do to immediately begin to improve the lot the majority of people in society and b) an outline/vision for what a future socialist Irish republic might look like.

    Anybody have any thoughts on where I could best put my energies to use on helping with this?

  4. #19
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by A Young Covey View Post
    I've been involved with left activism on and off for the last 7 or 8 years (more off than on really, particularly in the last 3 years) but am looking to get reengaged over the next few months - where would people recommend I should be looking to get involved? i know this isn't the specific topic of the thread but it seems to be as good a fit as anywhere.

    My interests are predominantly in research/policy formation, rather than protesting/selling papers, and what I would really like to do (and where i feel i could actually be of some use) is to get involved with a party or group that was going to put some serious work into putting together a proper policy platform for the Irish left. Quite frankly i think the pre-election manifestos and policy positions of the main Irish left parties (AAA, PBP and Workers Party) tend to be little more than a collection of slogans with no real consideration given to how the various specific proposals would interact, how they would be implemented, their economic costs/benefits within the confines of the existing capitalist system (which is the context in which the specific proposals are being presented) while also failing to even begin to outline how they would propose that we begin or bring about the transition to a socialist society, save for the odd nod to nationalizing the largest companies/banks.

    I don't buy the line that i have often heard trotted out that essentially we don't need to worry about these types of programmes because if the left was ever close to achieving power we would be in a revolutionary situation that would be entirely different - what a load of bullshit that is! You might as well be waiting for Godot as waiting for a re-enactment of 1917 in modern Dublin.

    In my view what the left in Ireland needs if it is ever to have any realistic aspirations of taking power is to begin to put forward a) a coherent and implementable programme of what a left government would do to immediately begin to improve the lot the majority of people in society and b) an outline/vision for what a future socialist Irish republic might look like.

    Anybody have any thoughts on where I could best put my energies to use on helping with this?
    I have more thoughts on how than where - there is no obvious starting place, in my view. I completely agree with you about the Left Manifestos.

    I'm currently reading a very good little book by Zinoviev, on how the Bolshevik party was built. For a long time it was a left faction along with the Mensheviks in a Marxist Party that was part of the Second International, that went on to become reformist and pro war.

    The Bolsheviks thought very carefully about their demands, as a group - for the needs of peasants as well as workers. They operated at one level in legal and electoral bodies and on another as a revolutionary organisation that went underground when it had to, to keep its principled position.

    The thing to do would be to find a party or organisation on the left that most seriously challenged the present system, and working inside it as a member, take the opportunity to try to build a faction that was prepared to do what you are talking about - make an analysis of the global situation and based on that, a programme for working class power. Also, look for opportunities for inter-party discussion on this.

    The housing campaign and anti Water charges campaign are some of the important developments at the moment. Research is important, but unless you are in some way immersed in movements like that, and taking part in building a party, it will not come to life and be a reflection of immediate, current developments as well as a study of the past. There is a danger in gearing mainly to election manifestos. I'm in favour of using elections and the Dail as a platform, but too much absorbtion in them tends to distort peoples' view of them as offering a solution in themselves.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  5. #20

    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Don't get me wrong, I do realise that electoral politics is not the be all and end all but my interest in this area is due to the fact that I have some professional experience in dealing with policy development and electoral campaigning and, as such, think I can probably offer more in this area than in helping to build a protest movement.

    In terms of the parties, do you have any idea which of the 3 main parties (AAA, PBP, Workers Party) are more active in working on the policy side of things?

    I have previously been a member of one of the Trotskyist twins and didn't find the experience to be particularly satisfying or feel that I was contributing anything worthwhile in the time I did put in so I am leaning at the moment towards seeing what the Workers Party is all about - I am, however, somewhat put off by what seems to be a lingering cold war/old school communist parties approach in a lot of their public statements, particularly in relation to solidarity with other leftist movements internationally

  6. #21
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by A Young Covey View Post
    Don't get me wrong, I do realise that electoral politics is not the be all and end all but my interest in this area is due to the fact that I have some professional experience in dealing with policy development and electoral campaigning and, as such, think I can probably offer more in this area than in helping to build a protest movement.

    In terms of the parties, do you have any idea which of the 3 main parties (AAA, PBP, Workers Party) are more active in working on the policy side of things?

    I have previously been a member of one of the Trotskyist twins and didn't find the experience to be particularly satisfying or feel that I was contributing anything worthwhile in the time I did put in so I am leaning at the moment towards seeing what the Workers Party is all about - I am, however, somewhat put off by what seems to be a lingering cold war/old school communist parties approach in a lot of their public statements, particularly in relation to solidarity with other leftist movements internationally
    There are a lot of questions there. It is not just "are they working on policy" but also "would any policy I would support be adopted by this party" and "does the organisation allow for any input by new members into policy formation." In theory at least I think all of the left parties operate forms of central democracy, with a conference or congress voting on policy and members working under direction of the leadership. I am guessing that policy proposals in theory can be proposed from local branches, but in practice pretty much are transferred in the case of the AA PBP to Ireland from the UK. They came very late to noticing that there was a housing crisis, for example.
    I see very little policy content on any of the left websites. The ULA exercise managed to avoid policy development in favour of organisational discussion until it collapsed. It did however propose that working groups should meet to work on policy issues.

    Why not offer to do some research work rather than policy development ? Offer to scope out the facts, history and trends on a policy area ? Just as useful in its way, and would give them a chance to get to know you.

    I remain of the view that "party intellectuals" should also be required to get their hands dirty on day to day party work ( I don'tjust mean 24/7 paper sales). I've seen situations in which policy development ended up effectively going on on a 'contracted out' basis in universities, rather than as the heart of the work of the party.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  7. #22

    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Thanks for all of the very helpful advice!

    Doing research etc. is what I am hoping for, I don't expect to walk into party and begin dictating the policy agenda. In terms of the policies adopted publicly by the various left parties, I, generally speaking, don't have a problem with any of them... my problem is that they don't seem to put enough work into actually detailing them/trying to explain the broader implications.

    Your point re: SP and SWP taking their lead from the UK mothership is very pertinent and is actually something that had slipped my mind. Thanks

  8. #23
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by A Young Covey View Post
    Thanks for all of the very helpful advice!

    Doing research etc. is what I am hoping for, I don't expect to walk into party and begin dictating the policy agenda. In terms of the policies adopted publicly by the various left parties, I, generally speaking, don't have a problem with any of them... my problem is that they don't seem to put enough work into actually detailing them/trying to explain the broader implications.

    Your point re: SP and SWP taking their lead from the UK mothership is very pertinent and is actually something that had slipped my mind. Thanks
    No problem.
    I expect you know of the research work being done at TASC and is it the Nevin Institute ? I guess that is not what you had in mind, but there might be some possibilities there for working on relevant projects that would generally benefit the left.

    Another approach might be reviewing and drawing together useful 'bourgeois' research findings. Marx based a good bit of 'Capital' on research carried out by bourgeois economists. There are nuggets to be got out of conventional research.

    Getting this to meld with policy development is another day's work. If you look at housing, for example, good housing has never been provided for poor people under free market conditions.
    OK housing for the western working class was constructed under pressure of a well organised class with powerful unions, and capitalist economies that for one reason or another had enough in the kitty to make concessions.

    At present, there is nothing like the requisite pressure, or resources, for the mass building of social housing that is needed today in Ireland.

    Left policy would have to tackle land ownership and plan to rebuild state/local authority construction teams.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  9. #24

    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Ya I am aware of the their work - I definitely think these are the type of resources that the left parties should be leaning on more in terms of looking to flesh out their policy positions, particularly the economic impacts of their policy proposals. I am not an economist myself (although do have some knowledge of the basics of main stream economics) but do think that left parties need to be able to justify their approach in economic terms, and this is one of the ways in which the Irish parties fall short. I know some will say that this is 'capitalist' economics and doesn't have any place in a Marxist party but the reality is that we live in a capitalist system (for the time being anyway) and if you are ever going to be able to win state power you need to be able to demonstrate some kind of competency in having the ability to administer that state as you will find it - at the very minimum you need to be competent enough in 'capitalist' economics to argue against the arguments the other side will put forward against your policies by demonstrating that socialist approaches won't lead to immediate economic collapse.

    Given that you mention housing, this is actually a perfect example of what I am talking about in relation to the lack of detail in the manifestos. For example, the AAA manifesto, under the heading "Affordable Homes for All", spend nearly a page describing the current situation in Ireland (not enough houses being built because profit margins and cheap credit not their for private developers, low numbers of council houses being built, large numbers of homeless etc) but then their proposals amount to is:

    "1. Stop economic evictions. anyone threatened with homelessness by landlords or banks should refuse to move.
    2. end the reliance on the private sector to provide homes. Invest €10 billion between now and 2018 to build 100,000 council homes at cost price.
    3. Introduce rent controls and bring rents down to 2011 levels to make them affordable.
    4. Mortgages from the property bubble should be written down to pre-celtic tiger levels. Bring the banks into genuine democratic public ownership where they are run for need not profit.
    5. Bring the construction industry, and companies that produce construction materials into democratic public ownership so that homes can be built at cost price and profiteering can be eliminated.
    6. For investment in properly resourced halting sites. reverse the cuts to traveller accommodation."

    Where is the €10 billion they are going to invest coming from? How have they worked out that 100,000 homes will cost €10 billion? Who is going to do this construction work, are there enough skilled construction workers left in the country to build 100,000 houses in two years? If you bring the construction industry into democratic public ownership and focus all of its efforts on building homes over the next two years does that mean we don't build anything at all else? What about factories, offices, transport infrastructure, retail stores that might need to be built? What about non-council homes that might need to be built or would 100,000 homes mean we had enough homes for everybody living in the country? When they bring the banks into democratic public ownership (presumably without compensating the existing shareholders) how is the ECB and the EU going to react, and what do they plan to do about that?

    Those are just a few of the questions that they aren't making any attempt to deal with.

  10. #25
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by A Young Covey View Post
    Ya I am aware of the their work - I definitely think these are the type of resources that the left parties should be leaning on more in terms of looking to flesh out their policy positions, particularly the economic impacts of their policy proposals. I am not an economist myself (although do have some knowledge of the basics of main stream economics) but do think that left parties need to be able to justify their approach in economic terms, and this is one of the ways in which the Irish parties fall short. I know some will say that this is 'capitalist' economics and doesn't have any place in a Marxist party but the reality is that we live in a capitalist system (for the time being anyway) and if you are ever going to be able to win state power you need to be able to demonstrate some kind of competency in having the ability to administer that state as you will find it - at the very minimum you need to be competent enough in 'capitalist' economics to argue against the arguments the other side will put forward against your policies by demonstrating that socialist approaches won't lead to immediate economic collapse.

    Given that you mention housing, this is actually a perfect example of what I am talking about in relation to the lack of detail in the manifestos. For example, the AAA manifesto, under the heading "Affordable Homes for All", spend nearly a page describing the current situation in Ireland (not enough houses being built because profit margins and cheap credit not their for private developers, low numbers of council houses being built, large numbers of homeless etc) but then their proposals amount to is:

    "1. Stop economic evictions. anyone threatened with homelessness by landlords or banks should refuse to move.
    2. end the reliance on the private sector to provide homes. Invest €10 billion between now and 2018 to build 100,000 council homes at cost price.
    3. Introduce rent controls and bring rents down to 2011 levels to make them affordable.
    4. Mortgages from the property bubble should be written down to pre-celtic tiger levels. Bring the banks into genuine democratic public ownership where they are run for need not profit.
    5. Bring the construction industry, and companies that produce construction materials into democratic public ownership so that homes can be built at cost price and profiteering can be eliminated.
    6. For investment in properly resourced halting sites. reverse the cuts to traveller accommodation."

    Where is the €10 billion they are going to invest coming from? How have they worked out that 100,000 homes will cost €10 billion? Who is going to do this construction work, are there enough skilled construction workers left in the country to build 100,000 houses in two years? If you bring the construction industry into democratic public ownership and focus all of its efforts on building homes over the next two years does that mean we don't build anything at all else? What about factories, offices, transport infrastructure, retail stores that might need to be built? What about non-council homes that might need to be built or would 100,000 homes mean we had enough homes for everybody living in the country? When they bring the banks into democratic public ownership (presumably without compensating the existing shareholders) how is the ECB and the EU going to react, and what do they plan to do about that?

    Those are just a few of the questions that they aren't making any attempt to deal with.
    The "100,000 homes in 2 years" is an embarrassment: you are right. Not feasible. At the moment there is a dire shortage of skilled construction workers here and none being trained. There is also a shortage of serviced land.

    It is not in fact that different from Coveney's plan: both are pie in the sky.

    No mention of nationalising land: even Pearse in 1916 recognised that that was a big issue.

    We know from the Syriza government what happens when a left government is elected in the EU. Any manifesto on the left should explain clearly how they would combat that.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

  11. #26
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    Marx based a good bit of 'Capital' on research carried out by bourgeois economists. There are nuggets to be got out of conventional research.
    Was Adam Smith one of those? I remember reading a few years back about a 'left' campaign (by which I mean the social democratic left, so probably not regarded by Marxists as part of the left) to 'reclaim' the legacy of Smith:

    http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2013/09/24...-for-the-left/
    "If you go far enough to either extreme of the political spectrum, Communist or fascist, you'll find hard-eyed men with guns who believe that anybody who doesn't think as they do should be incarcerated or exterminated. " - Jim Garrison, Former DA, New Orleans.

  12. #27
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Hi A Young Covey, you are right about the importance of research, annalist and mustering facts for the more high profile members of a party to use. I don't know anything about the Worker's Party internal set up now but one of the foundations of their success back in the day was a strong economic and industrial research department under Eamonn Smullen RIP.
    Unfortunately under the brilliant but mad Eoghan Harris they went off on a tangent away from the WP and towards Social Democracy (in the modern Labor Party not the original Leninist sense ).

    I recon if you join any left party, maybe any party left right or center, you can expect to serve a fairly long stint before you are really considered for promotion. I think that was the process you were experiencing in your stint with the Trots. When I joined the WP you had to attend several lectures and say why you wanted to join before serving six months as a probationary member. I am sure it is not like that now but still it would take a little time and dedication before you would be researching and developing policy.

    If you don't have the patience (or the stickability) for that then why not start a blog. I think it is possible to restrict who views your blog so you could make your research available only to parties of the left. Maybe you could be of more benefit working outside of a political party. Mind you, you would be missing out on the educational opportunity of meeting new people, making new friends, and also the camaraderie and craic.

  13. #28
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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by eamo View Post
    I recon if you join any left party, maybe any party left right or center, you can expect to serve a fairly long stint before you are really considered for promotion. I think that was the process you were experiencing in your stint with the Trots. When I joined the WP you had to attend several lectures and say why you wanted to join before serving six months as a probationary member. I am sure it is not like that now but still it would take a little time and dedication before you would be researching and developing policy.
    I think this is interesting. Your description of left parties sounds bureaucratic and unappealing to any young person - frankly, unappealing to anyone under the age of 50 (no offence to you personally, obviously).

    By contrast, intelligent capitalist managers are expert at spotting talent and fast-tracking it. It seems to me that some Marxists and leftists are still trapped in 1970s (or earlier) bureaucratic modes.
    Last edited by pluralist; 10-06-2016 at 10:16 PM.
    "If you go far enough to either extreme of the political spectrum, Communist or fascist, you'll find hard-eyed men with guns who believe that anybody who doesn't think as they do should be incarcerated or exterminated. " - Jim Garrison, Former DA, New Orleans.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by pluralist View Post
    Was Adam Smith one of those? I remember reading a few years back about a 'left' campaign (by which I mean the social democratic left, so probably not regarded by Marxists as part of the left) to 'reclaim' the legacy of Smith:

    http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2013/09/24...-for-the-left/
    Smith, yes.

    http://www.politicalworld.org/showth...s#.V1tErOTm1XA

    Reading the Wealth of Nations before reading Capital takes a lot of the sweat out of the latter. It is a very lucid and vividly written book.

    That is not to in any way portray Smith as left. Just a good economist who developed a useful analysis, based largely on observation.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The Left Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by pluralist View Post
    I think this is interesting. Your description of left parties sounds bureaucratic and unappealing to any young person - frankly, unappealing to anyone under the age of 50 (no offence to you personally, obviously).

    By contrast, intelligent capitalist managers are expert at spotting talent and fast-tracking it. It seems to me that some Marxists and leftists are still trapped in 1970s (or earlier) bureaucratic modes.
    Hi pluralist, it does sound cumbersome but things have relaxed since those times.
    I heard a clip of Obama when he was asked how he felt about Trump being the Republican candidate, he joked that the Democrats were delighted. Same in Britain when loads of Trots joined Labor on line so they could vote Jeremy Corbyn as leader, the Torys must have been delighted. Whether or not you agree with Corbyn I recon Labor will be unelectable while he is leader. Over here I think Sinn Féin are storing up a lot of trouble for themselves by signing up a lot of careerists, opportunists and people with their own agenda.
    There is a balance to be struck, and it is not easy to get it right between signing up new members and making sure they are genuine supporters of your cause. It takes time to do that.

    You are right when you say that capitalist managers are expert at spotting talent and fast tracking it, but they are hiring and paying people to do a job. The parties are looking for ideologically driven unpaid volunteers or people with very strong beliefs, therein lies the difference I think. But talented people will usually rise through any organisation.

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