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On November 30th 1923 there occurred the premature death of the great leader of the Scottish working class John Maclean, persecuted to death by British imperialism at the early age of 44. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his passing away, a magnificent memorial march and rally were held on November 26th 1983 in Glasgow, John Maclean’s home town and the scene of his revolutionary activities. What was particularly notable about this occasion was that Glasgow’s Republican community actively supported this commemoration, which was called by the Scottish Republican Socialist Party and stewarded and presided over by SRSP National Organiser Comrade Donald Anderson. Irish Republican bands and colour parties were out in force and Irish and Scottish Republican marching songs dating from the early days of the struggle up to songs of today’s Irish freedom fighters resounded in firm unity with the banner of proletarian revolution and socialism. Scottish Republicanism once more demonstrated, as it has done since the 1790s, that it is a social force ready to rally around the revolutionary vanguard provided by the Irish Republican Movement. Crowds of passers-by and coachloads of Celtic football fans escorted the march, enthusiastically cheering the marchers and preventing any attempt by the loyalist Glasgow police to harass the marchers. Truly the Clydeside retains the traditions of the days of John Maclean, and is, now as at that time, a focal point for revolution not just in Scotland but throughout Northern Europe.
Mosquito Press was the only English-based political group to participate in the event, and proudly marched behind the Mosquito Press banner which bears portraits of James Connolly and the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung, legendary hero of the Korean revolution. All members of the Mosquito Press contingent carried large portraits of John Maclean and red flags. The contingent marched together with the comrades of the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee.
The rally was addressed by Comrade Matt Lygate, a Scottish revolutionary recently out of jail after having served nearly twelve years of a twenty-four-year prison sentence. Comrade Matt, a well-known Marxist-Leninist and a figure of some stature in the international communist movement who never wavered during his long years of imprisonment, received a tremendously enthusiastic reception, in particular from the youth, showing the continuing excellent revolutionary prospects on the Clydeside. The speaker for Mosquito Press at the rally was Comrade Melville Fletcher, a South African revolutionary and former political prisoner who has for many years been forced to live as a political refugee in England. While in England Comrade Melville has played an important role in upholding anti-imperialism and revolutionary principles against all types of opportunism and factional manoeuvres, and has won increasing respect from revolutionaries in England and many other countries. The revolutionary youth of Glasgow warmly applauded Comrade Melville’s concluding rallying cry, a slogan in Zulu which he recalled being used in South Africa by an ANC militant who quoted it whenever the despondent needed cheering: Bhekani ema-Ayilishi! (Look to the Irish!).
It was against the background of this exhilarating experience of the Red Clydeside on the march that, the following day, November 27th 1983, Comrade Keith Anderson, Political Director of Mosquito Press, addressed an important Conference of Independent Anti-Imperialists called jointly by the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee and Mosquito Press. The Conference was attended by Comrades Donald Anderson, Matt Lygate and other members of the Scottish Republican Socialist Party; members and supporters of the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee and the Dundee Irish Republican Solidarity Campaign; members of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association; members of the Ireland’s War Support Group (London); members and supporters of Mosquito Press; and others.
Numerous messages of support for the Conference were received, including from James O’Hara and Margaret McGauley, relatives of Hunger Strike martyrs Patsy O’Hara and Micky Devine, who also generously sent a gift to the Conference; the Irish Republican Socialist Party; Finnbar O Dochartaigh, Derry Organiser of the Irish Republican Socialist Party; an imprisoned volunteer of the Irish Republican Army serving life in an English jail; the journal Irish American Voice; Thomas Kelly, imprisoned Scottish Republican; Robert Griffiths, David Burns, Nicholas Hodges and Adrian Stone, defendants in the 1983 Cardiff Conspiracy Trial; Red Action; and the Tyneside Action Committee on Ireland. The messages were received with enthusiastic applause from those in attendance.
Comrade Keith then delivered his keynote speech. As he concluded, with the call for us all to resolve that “the dark age of our revolutionary movement ends today”, the Conference delegates rose as one in an enthusiastic and prolonged standing ovation.
The Conference proceeded to conduct its business in a militant atmosphere of revolutionary internationalism and friendship. It heard important and authoritative speeches from Comrades Donald Anderson, Matt Lygate, Melville Fletcher and others, and discussions were held on wide-ranging subjects such as the historical significance of the Irish revolution and how to build support for it and other anti-imperialist struggles, as well as questions of style of work and the problems of factionalism and flunkeyism in the so-called ’left’. As befits a Conference attended by such veteran anti-imperialist supporters of the Asian socialist countries as Comrades Matt Lygate and Melville Fletcher, delegates repeatedly stressed the vanguard role of the Asian communist tradition, and the teachings of the great leaders Comrade Mao Zedong and Comrade Kim Il Sung were frequently cited.
Prominent in the minds of all delegates were the courageous political prisoners and Prisoners-of-War of the Irish Republican Movement as well as Scottish, Welsh, Black, Asian and other political prisoners. Speaking from personal experiences both Comrades Lygate and Fletcher stressed the importance of revolutionaries on the outside rallying around their incarcerated comrades who set an example to us by their revolutionary work and leadership even under the most difficult conditions. The Conference resolved to render all possible support to political prisoners, and arrangements were made for a series of future meetings to take up this question.
An important part of the proceedings of the Conference was the historic call by the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee for the formation in Scotland of a Pro-Republican Irish Solidarity Movement on the basis of unconditional and non-critical support for the Irish Republican Movement as at present constituted (the Irish Republican Army, the Irish National Liberation Army, Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Socialist Party). The history, significance and urgency of this call were stressed in detail in an important speech by GIFAC Organiser Comrade Mike Duffield. The Conference expressed great enthusiasm for this proposal, and delegates declared their intention of taking the matter further with their respective organisations, Comrade James Maley of GIFAC being elected National Coordinator for the further development of such a project.
The Conference heard a report on the persecution of the McCool/Moore family in Derry by the British imperialists, and resolved to take all possible measures to defend them.
The Conference voted to send messages of greetings to the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung; the dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il; Sinn Fein; the Irish Republican Socialist Party; the families of Irish Hunger Strike martyrs Patsy O’Hara and Micky Devine; Irish Republican prisoners Nicky Kelly, Gerry Tuite, Mairead Farrell and the women Republican prisoners in Armagh jail; Irish Prisoners of War in English jails, Vincent Donnelly and Ray McLoughlin; Fermis Augustine, High Commissioner for Grenada and representative of the New Jewel Movement; Welsh Republican prisoner John Jenkins; Scottish Republican prisoners Thomas Kelly, Bill MacPherson and lan Doran; Jimmy Anderson, a politically conscious English prisoner; the Newham 8, Asian youths currently on trial; the Iran Air 10, Iranian political prisoners on remand in England; the Scottish Republican Socialist Party; and other anti-imperialist organisations and individuals. With the conclusion of the Conference’s proceedings, a reception was held in a warm atmosphere overflowing with proletarian internationalism, at which the delegates joined together in singing revolutionary songs including the Song of General Kim Il Sung, Scots whahae’, the Soldier’s Song and the Internationale.
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The delegation from Mosquito Press is very happy to be with you here today and greatly honoured to have been asked to make this speech. We are pleased to come to the revolutionary city of Glasgow on the Red Clyde – the city of John Maclean; a city which, above all others on what is known as the ’mainland’, most closely feels the reverberations of the Irish revolution; a city with close historical connections with the revolutionary activities of the great James Connolly, and with huge numbers of conscious anti-imperialists amongst its working class who reject the British state.
This conference reverses many of the sacred conventions of the British left. It does so even in its very location. London, the centre of middle class socialism, of opportunism and, of course, of the Empire, has for too long been seen by the British ’left’ as the natural venue of conferences, probably not least because such a location helps to disenfranchise the oppressed. For Mosquito Press, and I am sure for the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee, our choice of venue is by no means a simple matter of administrative convenience, but a conscious political decision.
This Conference has the potential to be seen as a true historical turning point. While there are of course only a few people here, it is nevertheless a fact that the early historical meetings of many great revolutionary movements, the Chinese and Korean to name but two, were attended by a similar or indeed, proportionate to population, an even smaller number of people. Whilst an ostensibly revolutionary movement has existed for a long time in Scotland, Wales and England we have no reason to be despondent about the numbers here. This is because we represent a body of cadres well implanted in the most crucial struggles who have begun seriously to sum up the bitter mistakes of the past and to resolve that from now on we will build a movement on a correct basis. That this meeting should be held in revolutionary Glasgow shows it to be both a new beginning and, to borrow a phrase from Amilcar Cabral, the leader of the revolution in Guinea Bissau, a ’return to the source’.
We are now in the excellent situation where a body of cadres exists closely united around a basic but increasingly developed correct political line, who are determined to make a clear break with the past. Many of us here have recently disentangled ourselves from the clutches of ’Building an Irish Solidarity Movement’, a front organisation of the neo-trotskyite Revolutionary Communist Group, The snide attacks made by that organisation on the great Irish Republican Movement, the most advanced revolutionary movement in the whole of Western Europe with only the Basque revolutionaries to even compare with it, have become increasingly intolerable for genuine anti-imperialists. The fact that these attacks should come from an organisation that at one time did more to uphold and propagate the Irish struggle than any other English-based group must serve as a solemn warning to us never to desert the principles that we start out with here today.
The history of opportunism and factionalism emanating from London-based groups is as long as the history of the revolutionary movement in this island. It includes the collapse into the most abject chauvinism of Hyndman, the ’founder of British Marxism’; the failure of many Marxists to support the Easter Rising; the failure of the Communist Party of Great Britain ever to become a fully Bolshevik party and ultimately its complete degeneration; and the failure of an anti-revisionist movement to take root and develop.
The current chief representative in England of the supposed anti-revisionist wing of the international communist movement, the ’Revolutionary Communist League of Britain’ (RCLB), is an organisation that for many years refused to call for support for Ireland’s reunification, on the contrary adopting an openly and indeed virulently anti-Republican standpoint. Although today the rump of this organisation no longer dares openly to express such views its chauvinist attitude to the liberation movements and the peoples building socialism is still evident. For example, in the latest issue of their paper, Class Struggle, this organisation carries a headline reading “Counter-revolution in Grenada”. This headline turns out to deal not with the aggression by the US invasion forces and their puppets, but the struggles that were taking place within the Grenadian revolutionary movement prior to the American invasion. Disputes within the Grenadian revolutionary movement are the business of Grenada’s revolutionaries. When will the RCLB ever learn that the internal affairs of the revolutionary movements of the oppressed brook no interference by English chauvinists? In the particular case of Grenada, the duty of anti-imperialists in the British imperialist state is quite clear – to unconditionally support the gains of the Grenadian revolution and its resistance to aggression, to demand the immediate unconditional withdrawal of American and other aggressive invasion forces, and to demand an end to neo-colonial interference by British imperialism. Anything else is not Marxism but social-imperialism, particularly when it comes from an organisation that never lifted a finger to support the Grenadian revolution, other than in the work done by genuine anti-imperialists who were driven out of the organisation.
In such ways the ideological and political decadence of the London-based factional groups are exposed. This decadence is directly related to their social composition and orientation, in that they have based themselves on the middle class and the labour aristocracy rather than on those sections of the people who most closely embody the essence of Marx’s formulation of those who have nothing to lose but their chains and a world to win – the most oppressed.
The left has, in contrast, drawn its support from those who, in Engels’ words, merrily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the colonies and the world market. Yet it is hardly surprising that the revolt against the ’thieves’ kitchen’ should not come primarily from those invited to the banquet, albeit seated at a lower table.
If we start to look at where the insurrectionary revolt and anger of the proletariat have simmered and sometimes erupted into flame, it has been from amongst the communities of the most oppressed. During the formative years of the communist movement in the British state, and some of the most glorious chapters of the history of the proletariat in this island, we see that the storm centres were here on the Clydeside, in South Wales and in the East End of London. The famous Red Clyde sustained intimate links with the Irish revolution. Indeed one socialist of that period aptly observed that “politics in Glasgow meant the Irish question”, Glasgow itself simmered in revolt and the great revolutionary John Maclean acquired a mass following through his open mass work on the streets and his revolutionary educational work. The South Wales Miners’ Federation were known as indomitable practitioners of class struggle, and although it only earns a meagre few lines in their current official history, some of its members, inspired by the Easter rising, made their way over to Ireland to join the insurrectionary forces in the difficult conditions of the First World War. The East End of London saw the work of revolutionaries such as Eleanor Marx, who helped to organise the poorest and most oppressed workers such as women gas workers and garment workers, and Sylvia Pankhurst who continued this fine tradition, both of whom were also committed supporters of the Irish struggle. Many of the cadres of the socialist movement in East London came from the Jewish national minority. These Jewish workers in many cases maintained intimate ties with the revolutionary movements of Russia and Eastern Europe, just as today many of the Bangladeshi workers who toil in the selfsame tailoring sweatshops retain close contact with the Marxist-Leninist movement in Bangladesh. They also received the same hostile ’welcome’ from the chauvinist labour aristocracy. Dockers’ leader Ben Tillett, a hero for the British middle class left including David Reed of the Revolutionary Communist Group, said in a speech to Jewish workers in East London, “We wish you had not come”. During the period when the Communist Party of Great Britain retained some contact with revolutionary principles its moments of real glory are associated with the assertion of the most oppressed. The fiercest struggles of the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement took place in Birkenhead and Glasgow. In Birkenhead on the Merseyside in 1932 the struggle of unemployed, and mainly Irish, workers was sufficiently stormy to invite comparison with the unemployed workers’ uprising in Belfast that same year. In this period Glasgow was noted for its huge demonstrations of unernployed workers, one of which was defended by 500 workers carrying heavy sticks. In the anti-fascist movement the famous Battle of Cable Street in East London was a battle waged by the Jewish community supported first and foremost by Irish workers from the docks.
When attempts were made to organise an anti-revisionist movement starting in the early 1960s, the most enduring sector of this work was undoubtedly the work of the Indian Workers’ Association, led by Comrade Joshi and mainly based in the West Midlands, and the other national minority organisations that rallied around this work. The Indian Workers’ Association built and sustained a mass base, it rendered effective solidarity to the Indian revolutionaries, the Naxalites. It built close links with socialist China. It assisted in practice the work of Irish revolutionaries as well as other national liberation movements. It spearheaded the unionisation of Indian workers in the foundries of the West Midlands. It built the Black People’s Alliance. It worked to unite anti-fascists and supported the struggles of the English working class. It made efforts to build a Marxist-Leninist party. Much of this work is continuing up to and including today.
The names of the areas where the new era of struggle that began with the St. Pauls (Bristol) Uprising of 1980 has centred will be well known to everyone: Brixton, Liverpool, Chapeltown, Bradford, Mosside, Southall and many others. Less well-publicised in the bourgeois media, but no less tenacious and courageous, has been the continuous fight-back in areas of Cardiff and Glasgow.
One essential fact runs through this brief historical survey. That is that the most militant, the most successful, the most insurrectionary and the most meaningful class struggles that have been waged in this island have been led by the most oppressed, the people of no property. They have not been led by the middle class left, the labour aristocracy or even the majority working class.
To understand this in its proper context it is necessary to thoroughly grasp that the British state rests on national oppression even more than on class exploitation. The British state first took shape in the context of genocidal wars of conquest against the Celtic peoples of Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Its subsequent history represents the most bitter ’trail of tears’. The price which the peoples of the world have had to pay for the grandeur of the City of London and other, mainly English, cities is quite simply incalculable. The aboriginal populations of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean were victims of outright attempted or actual genocide. Nobody will ever know how many millions of black people died in the course of the slave trade that, to use Marx’s words, resulted in the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins. The Irish people have also been the target of genocidal British imperialism. The number of them who have either starved to death or been forced to live in emigrant communities overseas is several times the present population of Ireland. The great Chinese nation had the curse of opium forced upon it.
Therefore when we talk of the most oppressed, we mean above all those workers who have national as well as class contradictions with the British state.
This has been so since the birth of the modern proletariat. Many of the revolutionary leaders of the proletariat in this country from its earliest days were Irish, and indeed one prominent Chartist, William Cuffay, was a black worker. Of Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor, James Connolly commented: He was one of the first of that long list of Irish fighters in Great Britain whose unselfish sacrifices have gone to make a record for an ’English’ labour movement. He also pointed out that working class Irish exiles were present and active in the ranks of militant labour in numbers out of all proportion to the ratio they bore to the population at large. And always they were the advanced, the least compromising, the most irreconcilable element in the movement.
Even in this early period of which Connolly was speaking, Marx and Engels were able to see the disastrous effects on the working class movement in England of England’s colonial policy, and the vanguard role of the most oppressed. Marx pointed out that the secret of the impotence of the working class in Britain, despite its organisation, was that it was everywhere split into two hostile camps and that therefore a fight must be waged to make the workers side openly and everywhere with the Irish. Marx further said that the ’lever’ for the British revolution had to be applied in Ireland. Using Marx’s standpoint to analyse the conditions of today we can say that the lever has to be applied in the oppressed nations taken as a whole.
Marx and Engels were indeed ruthless and level-headed in their conclusions. In 1858 Engels wrote to Marx: The English proletariat is becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy, and a bourgeois proletariat as well as a bourgeoisie. And in 1882 Engels wrote to Kautsky: You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy? Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general. There is no workers’ party here, there are only Conservatives and Liberal Radicals, and the workers merrily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the colonies and the world market.
The tragedy of the British revolutionary movement is that it has never placed itself firmly amongst the most oppressed but has always turned for support to those who merrily share the feast. The historic standpoint of the British left can be summed up as chauvinism abroad and workerism at home.
Amongst some this has taken the form of the line of ’industrial base-building’, and to the extent that this has achieved initial success it has usually ended in debacles such as the cases of ’Red Robbo’, the ’Cowley Mole’ and the Leyland 13. This line, which proceeds from a dogmatic assertion of the supposed leading role of industrial workers, ignores the fact that the most important split in the working class is between the nationally oppressed and the nationally advantaged. On a more tactical, but nonetheless important, level it ignores the fact that it is at the point of production, under the watchful eye of boss and foreman, that the worker is the most spied on, regimented and disciplined. By contrast, genuine revolutionaries have developed the line of working in the oppressed communities.
This policy of working in the oppressed communities is strategically and tactically superior in many ways. Firstly it is primarily here that one will most readily find the most oppressed, including national minorities, women, the unemployed and the youth. The deeper the imperialist crisis becomes the more true this is. Secondly, it provides more of a chance to build relationships, and gives greater initiative and freedom of manoeuvre. It is in community rather than workplace struggles that the central questions of the state rather than an individual capitalist is most starkly posed. Working in the community also provides a greater number of allies and allows one to mobilise all positive factors and develop united front work, for example with students, professional people, old people and national minority businesspeople, especially small businesspeople. A factory militant, no matter how well-respected, is always open to victimisation and the sack, whereas a revolutionary with roots in the community can be passed from safe house to safe house as has happened in the very recent period in Brixton and indeed elsewhere, and as has been the daily practice for many years in occupied Ireland. Indeed, the Republican Movement is a fine example of what can be achieved by a revolutionary movement that builds its mass base by implanting itself deep in the oppressed communities.
These ideas are not ones that have been developed by the British ’left’, but on the contrary in the course of struggle with it. In fact, in almost every field the development of a correct revolutionary line hinges on taking on and over-turning the rotten history, theory and practice of the British left, not tinkering with it, but substituting something entirely new and different. Surveying the failure that is the British left we can conclude that in contrast to its chauvinism and workerism, a genuinely revolutionary movement in Scotland, Wales and England will be characterised by two qualities above all: at home it will base itself most thoroughly on the most oppressed, Abroad it will base itself on making common cause with the oppressed nations and peoples, the national liberation movements and socialist countries, and above all with the Irish people and their revolutionary organisations at present constituted as the Irish Republican Army, the Irish National Liberation Army, Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Socialist Party.
On this basis a genuinely revolutionary movement would work to link the fightback of the oppressed here with the main storm centres and bastions of the world revolution. This dialectical relationship is brilliantly summed up by the great Korean leader, Comrade Kim Il Sung: Together with the people of the socialist countries, the working class in the capitalist countries, too, should fight more vigorously against imperialism and thereby give powerful support and encouragement to the liberation movement of the oppressed nations. The working class of the metropolitan states and the oppressed peoples of the colonies are in the same position. In order to increase their plunder and exploitation of the people of the colonial and dependent countries, the imperialists make every effort to estrange the working class of the metropolitan countries from the peoples of the colonies. They manoeuvre to poison the working class with the stinking ideas of racism and national chauvinism and to disorganise the militant ranks of the working class from within by bribing the labour aristocrats with a portion of the super-profits they have raked in from the colonies. The working class of the metropolitan countries must thoroughly smash this underhand trick and stoutly fight against the imperialists’ aggression and plunder of colonial and dependent countries. They must also fully support the right of the people of the colonial and dependent countries to complete independence and wage revolutionary struggle more energetically so as to overthrow the old system. This is the way for the working class of the capitalist countries to achieve their class emancipation and to contribute to the national-liberation movement in colonies.
The Irish revolution is inextricably bound up with our own revolutionary work in Scotland, Wales and England. Not only does it bring the most advanced form of revolutionary struggle, people’s war, from the third world to the heart of Western Europe, there to hold a dagger to the throat of British imperialism, as the most sustained and most deadly current threat to British imperialism. The Irish revolution is a living example before our very eyes of how to make revolution, and of the lengths to which the British ruling class will go to try to prevent it. The Irish revolution, led by the Republican Movement, shows how to combine legal and illegal work, military and political struggle, how to be open to the people but closed to their enemies, how to develop a revolutionary press, how to distinguish between different types of contradictions and numerous other lessons. It is most significant that whilst these lessons may have escaped the British left they are certainly being consciously learned by the new generation of fighting youth. In 1980 the youth of St. Pauls (Bristol) declared: “We are the black IRA!” During the Hunger Strikes the pro-Republican working class youth of Glasgow maintained a degree of semi-insurrection in some ways comparable to the nationalist youth of occupied Ireland. In the 1981 uprisings in English towns and cities, the youth learnt from the Irish the use of the balaclava helmet and the petrol bomb. Links have been built between the Irish Republican Movement and national minority youth organisations. Only last night in Southall, Asian youth were holding a meeting on the new Police and Criminal Evidence Bill where Sinn Fein elected representative Jim McAllister was due to speak. Finally, of course, the Republican Movement maintains its own political and military organisations in Scotland, Wales and England, and countless thousands of Irish people support them in various ways.
The multinational character of the proletarian population of the British state is a tremendously positive factor for the development of future revolutionary work, offering the injection into the struggle here of the experience and example of living revolutionary traditions. There are many thousands of people from the oppressed nations here who know what imperialism is and have experience of fighting it, including many a veteran of armed struggle. In contrast to the slavish adherence to British imperialism by the official labour movement, the importance cannot be overstated of there being a body of people who reject the British state, do not recognise its legitimacy and place their loyalties elsewhere. In this category we place not only the Irish but many others, frequently with independent anti-imperialist organisations of their own, including the Nigerian, Malayan, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Kashmiri, Tamil, Chinese, Arab, Caribbean, Cypriot and other national minority communities.
The experience of organisations such as the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee shows that the way to draw out and bring into play these positive factors and slowly wield them into a cohesive force is to build fighting anti-imperialist organisations amongst the most oppressed. As the revolutionaries’ base in the community becomes more consolidated the oppressed will begin to organise themselves more and more independently, to exist independently outside of the state, living in a state of permanent semi-insurrection with it. This represents the bringing of the forms of revolutionary struggle developed in the third world into the imperialist heartlands – forms of struggle that are themselves a development of Lenin’s concept of ’dual power’. The most well-known examples are the stable revolutionary base areas of the Chinese revolution.
To begin to get some idea of how such a situation can come into existence and operate in a West European context we must again look to Ireland. The most apposite example from recent times is Free Derry and other ’no go’ areas that existed in the early 1970s. There are also valuable lessons in today’s situation. In the nationalist areas we see a community that deals with the state only when strictly necessary and then as a foreign occupying power. Wherever possible the people and their revolutionary organisations and fighters take on the providing of amenities and social services and the maintaining of popular law and order. The Sinn Fein Advice Centres are playing an invaluable role in organising and educating the people to run their own lives, and in this way popular power is starting to exist in an embryonic form.
This is yet another area where we must learn from the Irish, and again it must be stressed that these achievements result from building a base primarily in the community rather than in industry. I well remember on my first visit to the occupied six counties being told by a leading member of Sinn Fein that you could tell that Lame, where I had landed that morning, was a Protestant town because of the number of chimneys.
It is now obvious to all but the most thick-skulled trotskyite that the leading role in world revolution has been played by the oppressed nations and peoples – in particular their most oppressed classes – and not by the so-called advanced industrial proletariat. Yet many who recognise this truth in general and global terms and in far-off countries will not see that it has any internal application. With a complete negation of dialectics they assume that because water laps around the shores of this island we are somehow immune from the scientifically verified general laws of world revolution. They assume that their mythical British revolution can proceed unaffected by and unconnected with the whole pattern of actually existing revolutionary achievements and developments, and that if they plod on in the same old way everything will eventually come right. This incredible blindness is only the logical end of the road for a ’left’ steeped in chauvinism and racism, with no real revolutionary experience and a contempt for revolutionary theory.
It is immensely significant and encouraging that the truths that so bypass the British left can be put forward simply, scientifically and succinctly by a third world leader such as the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung. In a talk earlier this year with revolutionaries from Peru, he pointed out:
Marx advanced his revolutionary theories on the basis of the analysis of capitalist society while working in developed capitalist countries like Germany and England. He considered that revolution would break out continuously in the major capitalist countries of Europe and predicted that communism would triumph soon on a worldwide scale.
But there is not a single country where communism has been realised, though over a century has passed since Marx and Engels made public the Communist Manifesto, Capitalism still remains in England. Capitalists are very cunning. They leave no stone un-turned to maintain their position. They rear labour aristocrats among the working class and put them up to disorganise the ranks of the working-class movement. Here lies one of the major reasons why revolution does not break out in the developed capitalist countries now.
We should not consider that once the ranks of the working class increase, a revolution will break out of itself, nor should we consider that we can make revolution only with the working class!
Despite the vast differences between decaying imperialist Britain and pre-liberation Korea, it is testimony to the actual lead now coming from third world revolutionaries and third world Marxists, of the vanguard role of the most oppressed both on a world scale and within each country and of the extent to which we must build anew, that, in summing up the work of building the Workers’ Party of Korea, its Secretary, the dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il, spoke very directly to our own concerns when he pointed out: Another important aspect of the party founding policy set forth at the Kalun Meeting was to form grass-roots party organisations first and found the party by means of expanding and strengthening these organisations and make preparations for party founding in close combination with the anti-Japanese struggle.
Previously, it had been a general phenomenon that a revolutionary working-class party was founded by uniting communist groups active in a dispersed way or as a result of a revolutionary faction seceding from a social democratic party. However, it was impossible to follow this way in the situation of our country. At the time those who styled themselves communists were mostly factionalist-flunkeys who looked to foreigners and indulged in factional strife to ruin the party. It would be entirely impossible to found a revolutionary party by ’reconstructing’ the party already dissolved or by relying on the old generation who were infected with factionalist-flunkeyism.
In order to establish a revolutionary party, it was necessary to break off with the old party and the old generation polluted with factionalism and flunkeyism, develop fresh communists of the new generation, achieve the unity of ideology and purpose of the communist ranks and strengthen their ties with the masses. Only by forming grass-roots party organisations first and constantly expanding and strengthening them, would it be possible to quickly train communists of the new generation from workers and peasants through organisational and ideological life and practical struggle, and guarantee the unity of ideology, purpose and action and the purity of the communist ranks and consolidate the party’s mass foundation. Also, only by making preparations for party founding in close combination with the struggle against Japanese imperialism, would it be possible to effectively develop communist nuclei tried and tested through struggle, and build up the party as a militant force with a great fighting power.
The basic line put forward so clearly by the dear leader Comrade Kim Jong Il provides a most correct strategy that accords with our present conditions and enables us to go forward avoiding the mistakes of the past.
Today’s Conference has a truly historic importance. Let us all resolve that the dark age of our revolutionary movement ends today. As was said earlier, like some of the most historic meetings of the Chinese, Korean and other revolutions there are only a few of us here, but like them we have the possibility to rapidly multiply our forces by the tens, hundreds and thousands. I am sure that the work of this Conference will rapidly spread amongst thousands of people, and amongst the revolutionary forces here and around the world.
Thank you for listening to my comments here this morning.
 The Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) is a splinter-group of the Socialist Workers’ Party (or, to be more exact, of the International Socialists as the SWP was formerly called). During the late 1970s the RCG centred its work on the publication of a journal called Hands of! Ireland! and other Ireland solidarity activities. The RCG succeeded for some years, particularly during the period of the Hunger Strikes, in providing a rallying-point in England for those who wanted an active alternative to the chauvinist and inactive politics of the middle-class left. In particular the RCG developed an effective style of defence of democratic rights as a result of the defence campaigns modelled on the ’Glasgow 2’ campaign in Scotland and other cases of state suppression of anti-imperialist activities. As a result the RCG built a cadre force that stood out among other English-based groups for its efficiency and dedication.
However, despite major steps forward, the RCG never fully succeeded in breaking with its Trotskyite past in the IS/SWP. It failed fully to come to terms with the fact that the oppressed people have created their own fighting organisations and movements, and indeed in the case of the socialist countries and people’s democracies have given actual physical form to the first stages of the construction of a world without exploitation. It is such movements and states of the most oppressed that are the central dynamic forces of revolution both internationally and internally, not groups of leftists in the imperialist countries. In issue after issue of its paper, Fight Racism! Fight imperialism!, the RCG manages to avoid practically any reference to the socialist countries whatsoever, a particularly stringent propaganda ’blackout’ being exercised over the achievements of socialist China and Korea – the proudest and most historically advanced achievements of mankind to date.
Even more seriously from an immediate point of view, the RCG’s failure to uphold the creations and achievements of the oppressed led it to develop a blind spot towards the vanguard role of the Irish Republican Movement. While it had initially rightly denounced the failure to support the organisations of the Irish people as chauvinism, it had by 1983 back-pedalled so drastically from this position that those who advocated the building of an explicitly pro-Republican solidarity movement were set upon by the RCG leadership, who accused them of “madness”, “lunacy” and “an absurdity” and flatly announced that the RCG was “not trying to build a pro-Republican Movement”.
Pro-Republican elements grouped around the RCG’s front-organisation “Building an Irish Solidarity Movement” naturally became increasingly appalled at this ever more blatantly anti-Republican position. Ultimately the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee put forward a powerful call for a Pro-Republican Irish Solidarity Movement, issuing as their rallying cry the slogan which the RCG had refused to put forward: “Victory to Ireland’s Freedom Fighters!” The Dundee Irish Republican Solidarity Campaign, the Scottish Republican Socialist Party, the Tyneside Action Committee on Ireland, Mosquito Press and other organisations and individuals rapidly responded to this call, in some cases reorganising their activities around GIFAC’s newspaper Ireland’s War.
Thus bereft of its pro-Republican vanguard, the RCG/BISM rapidly dwindled into yet another factional grouping desperately jockeying for position in the British middle-class left ghetto and rapidly losing its standing with the genuinely revolutionary forces of the most oppressed.
 The Revolutionary Communist League of Britain, which prior to 1977 was called the Communist Federation of Britain [Marxist-Leninist], is an organisation that at one time enjoyed comparatively high standing in the International Marxist-Leninist Communist Movement. However from 1973 to 1980 it openly propagated the view that the Irish people are irrevocably divided into ’two nations’ and that to advocate Irish national reunification and liberation is a ’diversion from the struggle for socialism’, This is of course an even more extreme and crude version of the counter-revolutionary position associated with the more prominent Irish Workers’ Party (the ’Stickies’), and was formulated in a series of articles in the journal of the Communist Federation of Britain.
In 1980 genuine anti-imperialists in the RCLB led by Comrade Keith Anderson began a prolonged and bitter struggle to purge the organisation of this reactionary trend – a struggle which succeeded for some time in transforming the organisation’s newspaper, Class Struggle, into a revolutionary organ which distinguished itself by sustained and powerful pro-Republican and other anti-imperialist propaganda. However, the anti-Republican faction continued to retain dominance behind the scenes through factional means such as vote-rigging and cynical manipulation of their control of organisational premises and resources in a shamelessly landlordist and boss-like fashion, Ultimately, driven into a frenzy by their inability to counter the principled polemic waged against them by Comrade Keith and his supporters, the anti-Republican faction sank to conducting a vicious personalised pogrom against them – a pogrom which included beatings-up, threatening behaviour and brazen theft and financial fraud in an attempt to stamp out support for Republicanism within the organisation, and to punish and impoverish their opponents, Indeed a positive cult of brutish anti-Republican violence now holds sway within the organisation, those who most shamelessly and unrepentantly boast of having beaten up supporters of Republicanism being upheld as ’model comrades’ of ’extreme importance to the RCLB’. At the end of September 1983 Comrade Keith Anderson finally at one blow smashed the schemes of the anti-Republican faction in the RCLB by reconstituting Mosquito Press as an independent anti-imperialist organisation, around which the pro-Republican forces immediately regrouped.
Those who remained constituted as the rump ’RCLB’ briefly flirted with the idea of forming an anti-Republican caucus with the RCG on the basis of a joint pogrom against Mosquito Press and others who had defended Republicanism in the solidarity movement – a political union from which the RCG was only saved by the RCLB’s preference for less arduous forms of existence than the strenuous routine imposed by the RCG on its political associates, The rump ’RCLB’ has subsequently largely confined its activities to sustaining its personalised and apolitical campaign of slander, and of physical violence and threats, against the pro-Republican forces grouped around Comrade Keith Anderson, while trying to conceal its continuing anti-Republicanism by trading on the woeful ignorance that exists in England as to the nature and history of the differences between the Stickies and the Republicans, and on the justifiably favourable reputation built up by its newspaper, Class Struggle, when Comrade Keith was Editor.
While repudiating in the most thoroughgoing manner this vile British chauvinist factionalism, Mosquito Press upholds the style of work of Asian communism of allowing even those who have been responsible for grievous errors or who are even guilty of serious crimes against the revolutionary movement to make amends for their past actions, On the principle of ’curing the sickness to save the patient’ those who sincerely wish to break with their factional past should be helped to do so and assigned appropriate work. The policy of Mosquito Press is therefore, while mainly relying on recruitment from amongst the most oppressed, in particular from the new generation of anti-imperialist youth, nevertheless also to welcome to the revolutionary ranks any individuals from the RCLB or RCG or for that matter any other factional tendency on the British left who wish to place themselves on the same side as the peoples of the world.
 These are the concluding phrases of the Communist Manifesto.
 Letter to Kautsky, September 12, 1882, cited in Lenin’s Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, Beijing 1970 edition, p.129.
 H.Francis and D.Smith, The Fed (1980), p.23.
 In the concluding part of his long series of articles entitled “The Communist Tradition on Ireland” (Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No.24, Nov-Dec 1982) David Reed refers to Tillett in glowing terms as a militant leader of the working class, expressing amazement that he should have failed to take an internationalist stand on the Dublin Lockout and the First World War. Jewish workers were doubtless not so surprised. (David Reed reiterated these comments in his published Conference speech of November 20th 1982 entitled ”Building an Irish Solidarity Movement”, p.7.) See the article “Racism and the Seaman’s Union” by Keith Anderson, Class Struggle, Nov. 1982.
 Capital, Vol.I, ch 31
 Labour in Irish History, ch.12.
 Ibid, ch 15.
 Letter to Meyer and Vogt, April 9, 1870.
 Letter to Engels, December 10, 1869.
 Both this and the following quotation from Engels are cited in Lenin’s Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, Beijing 1970 edition, p.129.
 Progressive journalists of the five continents wield your powerful revolutionary pen and sternly condemn US imperialism!, Speech of Greeting at the International Conference on the Tasks of Journalists of the Whole World in their Fight against the Aggression of US Imperialism, September 18, 1969. Selected works, Vol. 5, pp.325-6.
 On the Korean people’s struggle to apply the Juche Idea, in Pyongyang Times, November 2.1983.
 The Workers’ Party of Korea is a Juche-type revolutionary party which inherited the glorious tradition of the Down-with-Imperialism Union, October 17, 1982, pp.4-5.