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International Socialism, October 1977


Steve Berry

Guide to Reading:


From International Socialism (1st series), No.102, October 1977, p.11.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Over 100 years ago Marx and Engels realised the importance of the Irish struggle for British socialists. They argued that solidarity with those struggling in Ireland was not something marginal but an integral part of the attempt by British workers to liberate themselves. They clearly saw that ‘a nation that enslaves another can never itself be free’. Much of their best writing can be found in Marx/Engels, Ireland and the Irish Question (Lawrence and Wishart £1.50). Lenin’s pamphlet The Right of Nations to Self Determination should be read for arguments on the national question.

It is fortunate that the two best histories of the events leading up to Easter 1916 are both modestly priced: Ireland Her Own by T.A. Jackson (L&W £1.50) and Labour in Irish History by James Connolly (30p). Both of these are essential reading.

A graphic account of the so-called famine of 1845-48 is given in C. Woodham-Smith, The Great Hunger (New English Library 80p).

A day to day account of the Easter rising of 1916 is to be found in T.M. Coffey, Agony at Easter (Penguin o/p). Connolly’s role is discussed in The Life and Times of James Connolly by C. Desmond Greaves (L&W £1.50)and James Connolly, Socialist, Patriot, and Martyr by S. Levenson (Quartet £2.50). A good selection of Connolly’s writing is to be found in James Connolly: Selected Writings, edited by P. Bersford-Ellis (Penguin 50p).

Connolly argued that the national question and the class question were inextricably linked. He was active in the Dublin lock-out of 1913 together with the militant Irish labour leader James Larkin. The lock-out is the setting for James Plunkett’s superb novel Strumpet City (Panther £1.00).

The best book on the contemporary struggle is War in an Irish Town by Eamonn McCann (Penguin) now unfortunately out of print. Mike Farrell’s Northern Ireland -The Orange State (Pluto £5.00) is the most comprehensive history of the sectarian Northern statelet since its birth.

The question of the Protestant working class in the North is tackled in several articles in International Socialism (see nos 51, 70, & 92). Valuable insights into loyalism can be found in G. Bell, The Protestants of Ulster (Pluto £2.00).

For a good factual history of the IRA you can read Bowyer-Bell, The Secret Army

(Sphere o/p). John McGuffin has tackled the systematic repression of the catholic community British troops in Guineapigs (Penguin 40p) and Internment (Anvil). The new Report of the Labour Movement Delegation to Ireland (30p) is also worth a read.

Techniques perfected on the streets of Belfast are now in greater use in Britain. There are two books available which look at the strengthening of the state apparatus in Britain, The Political Police in Britain by Tony Bunyan (Quartet £2.50) and The Technology of Political Control by T. Shallice et al. (Penguin £1.25). See also the SWP pamphlet on the PTA Legalised Terror by S. Berry (SWP 10p) and New Techniques of Repression (BSSRS 25p).

Further reading

O’Connor Lysaght, Republic of Ireland (Mercier £1.10)

Beresford-Ellis, The History of the Irish Working Class (Gollancz)

R. Kee, The Green Flag (Three vols, Quartet £1.95 each)

Liam de Paor, Divided Ulster (Penguin 85p)

A. Boyd, Irish Trade Unions (Anvil £1.00)

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