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Peter Hadden & John Throne

A vital tradition for Irish Labour

(December 1979)

From Militant Irish Monthly, Issue 80, Dec 1979–January 1980.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

We include here a special four-page supplement devoted to an explanation of the life and ideas of Leon Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution in 1917, founder of the Red Army, and a life-long fighter for workers’ democracy until his assassination in 1940.

There are some in the labour movement who cynically deny the value of studying the past history of the working-class movement, and proclaim as irrelevant or out-of-date the ideas of the great theorists of the movement, among whom are Marx, Engels, Lenin,

In addition, slanders and distortions are constantly peddled in an attempt to discredit these leaders. Militant Irish Monthly, the voice of Marxism in the Irish labour movement, firmly refutes such crass attitudes. These historic leaders of our movement were great thinkers as well as committed activists. In their writings, and indeed in their lives, we find the accumulated experience of the working class since its coming into being.

Their works explain the victories and defeats of the proletariat in their ongoing struggle for a life that could provide the material needs of their families and a full measure of dignity.

Their conclusions pointed to the socialist transformation of society as the only way to guarantee these aspirations, and it was to this end that they unflinchingly devoted their lives.

It is the “trade” of socialists to change society, to fashion a new society free from the horror imposed by capitalism. No apprentice waves aside the accumulated skills of his trade handed down by those who have mastered and perfected them. It is a blind “socialist” who will contemptuously ignore the collected experiences of our “trades”.

Aware of this, we honour in this issue of Militant Irish Monthly the memory of one great Marxist theoretician, but we especially attempt to explain some of his most vital ideas.

After the death of Lenin in 1924, it was Leon Trotsky above all who kept alive the under-standing of Marxism internationally.

Trotskyism, as the collected body of his analysis and ideas has come to be known, is simply the application of Marxism to today’s society. Genuine Marxism has nothing to do with the parrot-like repetition of phrases taken out of context from the works of such theorists as Trotsky. Rather it is a method of understanding the powerful forces driving society and of learning from their experiences in the struggle to change society.

A supplement such as this can only offer a brief introduction to the contributions of Leon Trotsky. Hopefully, it will encourage those who read it to read for themselves the articles and books in which he uncovers the workings of capitalist society or traces the history of workers’ heroic struggles to build a new society.

Trotsky’s works, above all, are characterised by a firm faith in the unbreakable will of the working class to take their struggle through to success.

Militant Irish Monthly

This is underlined by the Centenary meetings organised by supporters of this paper which have been held in Derry, Strabane, Coleraine, Ballymena, Belfast, Dublin, Galway and one to be held soon in Cork.

These meetings were addressed by Marxists on the Labour Party Administrative Council in the South as well as members of Trades Councils and Labour Party Branches.

In the North, they were organised by members of the Labour and Trade Union Group and addressed by members of the group who are delegates or on the executives of Trades Councils and Union Branches.


For the first time since the death of Connolly, Marxism is being rooted in the organised labour movement, North and South. In the years ahead, as capitalism goes into greater crisis, the ideas of the historic teachers and leaders of the working class internationally will be seen as indispensable in the struggle to secure a socialist society.

This paper will continue its service to the labour movement by arguing for these ideas to prepare the movement for the accomplishment of the socialist transformation of society and by so doing carry through the work of Leon Trotsky to its conclusion.

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Last updated: 24 June 2018