The working class in Ireland is suffering under the weight of being made to shoulder the vast bulk of the cost of an economic crisis that was not of our making. The existing leadership of the workers’ movement have consistently betrayed the interests of working people. The trade union leaders are wedded to the “Social Partnership” sell-out while the Labour Party is only interested in tinkering with the capitalist economy and has happily entered into a coalition government with the viciously anti-worker Fine Gael.

There is a deep crisis in political leadership and the call to set up a new party that will put the interests of working people first is to be welcomed. There needs to be a thorough discussion about the tactics, strategy and programme of the new party and this document is a contribution to that discussion.

Before beginning this discussion we must first be clear about what our tasks are – how to build a party that really fights for the interests of the working class. We need to build a party that has a viable and realistic action programme for the immediate defence of our communities and livelihoods against the draconian attacks of the bosses and their government. But we also need a vision of the socialist society that can finally put an end to the ongoing chaos and horror of the international capitalist system and replace it with one based on the common ownership of society’s wealth, planning for social need and mutual solidarity between working people.

The new party therefore needs a programme that integrates our answers to the immediate struggles as part of a coherent plan for how to get to that socialist society. It is highly unfortunate that the electoral platform of the ULA, or that of any of its components, did not present this kind of action programme outlining a coherent path to the socialist transformation of society, instead presenting a left social democratic reformist version of “socialism”. That was an opportunity lost – we must not repeat it with the programme of the new party.

Instead of a process of secret back-room deals leading to the presentation of a programme as a fait accompli, the new party need to be based on the full democratic involvement of the membership. There should be free exchanges of ideas and differences with the right to form open tendencies within the party. Recognising that a vibrant culture of political discussion and debate is essential for the working class to achieve its self-emancipation the new party must be committed to facilitating the political education of both its members and the wider workers’ movement.

The following does not pretend to be a fully finished programme – its aim is to stimulate discussion and debate about the key areas a revolutionary socialist programme needs to cover.

Campaigning against the cuts

The new party needs to be an organic part of the anti-cuts movement at the grassroots level providing a leadership of ideas for that movement based on the tactics and strategy outlined in a clear programme. An anti-cuts movement that was able to push back the attacks would be an important part of building a wider explicitly socialist movement. It is therefore important that the new party champions the principles of workers’ democracy in building united front campaigns against specific attacks on the basis of principled agreement on the limited demands of each campaign and delegated workers council type organisations for more generalised responses. We should lead by example by rejecting any bureaucratic forms of organisation within the new party.

Trade unions

Ireland’s trade union leaders have no appetite for class struggle. Their aim is the continuation of the politics of “Social Partnership” and the Croke Park deal that maintain the capitalist status quo.

It is necessary for trade union activists to organise groupings within the unions based on class struggle politics in opposition to the bureaucrats – not only to overcome their resistance to militant industrial action against the current attacks, but also to lay the basis for a more generalised offensive against the irrationality of capitalism. These groupings should reject the fake unity of “broad left” formations and instead be caucuses of party members, and other militants who support our work in the unions, formed on acceptance of the key elements of our programme as the basis for action. These socialist caucuses would then work with others throughout the union movement in united front campaigns on specific cases and issues.

For a militant fight-back in the unions to succeed it must use serious methods. One key lesson that must be re-learned is that ”picket lines mean don’t cross!” The ICTU bureaucracy explicitly condones crossing picket lines: “Where a union picket is placed other unions with members in the employment affected should advise their members to report for work as normal and to carry out normal work” (“A Guide to the Picketing Policy of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions”). Such weakness only emboldens employers and undermines the effectiveness of the strike tactic.

The new party must have the political courage to resolutely proclaim the right of workers in struggle to take whatever action is necessary, including breaking from the straight-jacket of the Industrial Relations Act by taking so-called “illegal” actions such as honouring picket lines and other solidarity within and between unions wherever struggles occur.

This will mean a political fight against those in the trade union leadership, including many “lefts”, who want to acquiesce to the capitalist legal framework in the futile hope for some leniency by the bosses and their government. The new party must be committed to fighting for real democracy in the union movement with the right of election and immediate recall of all officers – whose pay scales should be in accordance with the wages of those they represent. Any members of the new party standing for election to union positions should do so on the basis of the programme. However our strategy should not be focused on reforming the existing bureaucratic structures through elections to particular official posts or recruiting left-wing bureaucrats – instead the new party’s primary activity should be building its caucuses and networks among rank and file militants on the basis of class struggle politics in direct opposition to the trade union bureaucracy.

The working class is facing a generalised attack which needs a generalised response. This poses the question of building towards a general strike to force a retreat of the attacks. A successful general strike would require the election of strike committees and picket line defence squads in every workplace across Ireland, whether or not it is unionised. Such committees would need co-ordination to be effective – something that could only be done through meetings of delegated representatives at the local, regional and national levels.

It would be foolish in the extreme to simply propose that the existing leadership of the trade unions call a general strike as they are completely opposed to the building of the militant class struggle organisations based on genuine workers’ democracy required for a general strike to be successful. The new party should actively promote the idea of the need to build towards a general strike but that must always go side-by-side with the promotion of a militant class struggle approach and the active building of these new bodies in any partial struggles as they occur.

Working class political independence

The strivings of working people for a way out of the crisis has been expressed in a desire for “unity of the left”. While this contains an important element of truth it is also significantly distorted by the definition of “the left” by liberal commentators that frames the discussion.

During the recent election there was discussion over the idea of a “left bloc” including the LP, Sinn Féin, the ULA and independents. Sinn Fein has been actively calling for such a coalition for some time:

”I invite all these potential allies to come together to forge a stronger, more united progressive and democratic movement for our country – one that aims to meet the needs of all citizens.

“I include parties like Labour, the Greens if they can survive the fall out from their participation in this right wing government; other smaller parties; the trade unions; the community organisations that are on the front line in the struggle for equality; Gaelgeoiri; rural agencies and organisations, including farming bodies and fishing communities; women’s groups; the students, youth organisations and those who speak for the disabled, the poor, the unemployed, the homeless and the marginalised in our society.”
(Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2009)

In the recent election Sinn Féin tried to project itself as on the side of working people with talk of a wealth tax and spreading the pain over six, rather than four or five, years. However the record of Sinn Féin in the Northern Ireland Assembly in implementing the massive cuts has shown beyond doubt they are no friends of working people.

Sinn Féin’s sharing of power with the DUP in the North is echoed by it being no secret that it would jump at the chance to join any coalition government in the Republic. RTE interviewed Gerry Adams on 4 January this year and reported: ‘When asked about the possibility of working in a coalition with Gilmore, Mr Adams said that if Sinn Féin could do business with Ian Paisley, it could do business with anyone.’

A serious socialist organisation can only be built on the basis of firm opposition to all wings of the capitalist class and its political representatives. That is why the new party must uphold the principle of complete working class political independence from all bourgeois (and petty-bourgeois) parties – including Sinn Féin and the Greens. Given the strong tendency towards creating political blocs that exists under the proportional representation parliamentary system this is a very important question on which the new party must be absolutely clear.


Another vital question is that of women’s rights. The pressure on jobs is likely to translate into reactionary attempts to push women out of the workforce with a claim that their proper place is in the home looking after the family. Women’s oppression in capitalist society is chiefly rooted in their role in the family. Responsibilities as mothers and home-makers contribute greatly to women’s relative poverty and reduced access to educational and work opportunities. Increasing pressure on the family through the reduction in community and social services contribute to domestic violence and sexual abuse. Women need financial independence in order to be able to make real choices in their lives.

The new party must fight for full employment at decent wages, equal pay for equal work, decent maternity and paternity leave, free quality childcare day and night, free healthcare (including contraception and abortion on demand), and decent affordable housing for all.

The new party must oppose restrictions on sexual expression and sexual choices among all those capable of informed consent and therefore should fight for; an end to all discrimination against lesbians, gays and other sexual minorities; no age of consent laws; and no state censorship, including of sexual material.


Traditionally bosses across the world have used race, nation and religion, as well as gender, to divide their victims. The answer of the new party must be to uphold the equality of Irish-born and immigrant workers, including asylum seekers, on the basis of full citizenship rights for all, including jobs, education access, social welfare benefits and all state services in the language of their choice. The new party should fight for the closure of direct provision centres and an immediate end to all deportations including where possible organising physical defence against deportation raids.

The new party must stand against the discrimination and racism inflicted on Traveller communities – supporting provision of full services to halting sites; free access to education in the language of their choice, including adult education; no restrictions on access to social services as part of entitlement to full civil rights like any other citizen.


As well as the intensified attacks on wages and living conditions, working people are threatened by the effects of climate change and other forms of ecological catastrophe which can only be successfully addressed in the context of a rationally planned global economy. Inter-imperialist rivalries, the struggle for resources and the rise of protectionist trading blocs point in the direction of another world war, which in the age of nuclear weapons would threaten the very existence of humanity.

Workers’ struggle in Ireland therefore cannot be separated from that of working people in Britain, across Europe and indeed worldwide. European-wide trade union networks should be built as part of a conscious co-ordination of the workers’ movement across national boundaries. Our new party should seek opportunities to actively collaborate with other political parties across Europe who share our political goals.

This is not just out of a sense of internationalist solidarity but is also based on the realisation that any concrete threat to the capitalist order in Ireland would meet the resistance of not only the forces of the Irish state but also those of international capital in defence of the profits of the multinationals.

The new party must oppose any participation by Irish forces in the military adventures of Britain, or any other imperialist interventions around the world, even if done under the flag of so-called United Nations “peacekeeping”.

The new party should call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland. We should demand the release of Republican prisoners and the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. While opposing discrimination of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland the new party should seek to promote measures that point towards the unity of workers in the Republican and Unionist communities in a common struggle against the capitalist system and its attacks. Unity between workers in the North and South of Ireland is also central to defending our interests so the new party should actively seek to establish concrete links between workers organisations across the capitalists’ border.

One of the central slogans of the new party should be – For an Irish Workers’ Republic within a Socialist Federation of Europe!


The Irish “Celtic Tiger” – long held up as a shining example of capitalist development – primarily benefited the super-rich and contributing to the vast inequalities of wealth we see today with the top 1% of the population having over one third of the total wealth in Ireland. Despite the supposed “sharing of the pain” the latest “rich list” shows our rulers are actually getting richer while working people suffer the ravages of austerity.

Historically a supplier of agricultural products and cheap labour for Britain, Ireland has become a base for multinational manufacturing and a tax haven for foreign, primarily US, corporations with them being responsible for around three quarters of industrial output and nearly 90% of all exports. To keep the multinationals here the government, and all the major opposition parties, is committed to keeping business taxes very low.

These multinationals are in the forefront of demands to drive down the living standards of working people to maintain their obscene levels of profits:

”It is no secret that our costs spiralled out of control in the past number of years and we are now more expensive than many of our European counterparts. If there is any silver lining on the current difficulties in which we find ourselves, it is that we now have the opportunity to realign our costs to become more competitive.”
(American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland)

The ‘re-capitalisation’ of the Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank has led to what the government is calling an ”outflow of funds”, as the rich transferred these public subsidies to tax havens around the world. That is the reality of the so-called “black hole” in the banking system – working people’s taxes going directly into the pockets of the rich. The new party should call for the opening of the books, both of big business and government, so that the reality of the theft of society’s wealth by this tiny minority can be seen by all.

The new party’s answer to the scourge of unemployment should be a reduction of the working week with no loss of pay coupled with a massive public works scheme to extend the social services needed by working people.

The new party should stand for the nationalisation, without compensation, of all natural resources such as the Corrib gas fields – not as a nationalist project of building “socialism on one island”, but within an overall programme for socialist planning across Europe.

A socialist economy organised on the basis of conscious planning for social need rather than competition and maximisation of profit will require control over all the important levers of economic life. Therefore the new party needs to be committed to the expropriation of the banks and multinationals, and all the other big-business parasites – without compensation. Nationalisations under workers’ control can be a valuable training ground for running a planned and socialised economy but only if openly linked to the need for expropriations by a workers government after the seizure of power.

Parliamentarianism and the state

For socialists, standing for parliament represents an opportunity to put forward the key elements of the socialist programme (such as forming workers’ defence squads, expropriating the bosses and initiating rational economic planning) to a much broader audience than is normally available. The value of participating in capitalist electoral contests can be measured by the extent to which they provide a chance to popularise the programme of revolutionary socialism – the only real alternative to the anarchy of the capitalist market.

Any candidates of the new party to the Dáil or local councils must openly stand as revolutionary socialists on the programme of the party. Any TDs or councillors who are members of the new party will carry out the democratically decided policies of the party like any other member and will have no special privileges merely as a result of being an elected representative. Their role is to be advocates for the workers’ movement inside the enemy camp.

Conclusion – for workers power

The openly declared purpose of the new party must be to overthrow the irrational capitalist system and replace it with socialism, a system based not on profit maximisation but on human need. We also fight for immediate demands, such as a shorter working week with no loss of pay; equal pay for equal work; a decent minimum wage; higher benefits and pensions; equal benefits for youth; free, quality education, healthcare, housing and childcare for everyone. Our task is to build a bridge between these immediate objectives and the socialist society we want to achieve. Therefore we link such ‘minimum’ demands to militant class struggle and wider demands (massive programme of public works, nationalisation without compensation of multinationals and big business, abolition of commercial and government secrecy, etc) which point the way to the need for socialism.

Of course as soon as the fight for our demands begin to pose a serious threat to the wealth and power of the capitalists, they will use every means at their disposal to stop us – the courts, the Gardaí, the army, all the forces of the capitalist state apparatus. The capitalist state exists to defend the privilege and wealth of our capitalist rulers – just ask the Shell to Sea activists, or the student demonstrators in Dublin last November, or the Thomas Cook workers whose workplace occupation was broken in 2009.

It is necessary to break up the existing state apparatus and replace it with a new state power, based on the fundamentally different forms of workers’ democracy, which is committed to serving and protecting the interests of working people and the oppressed. The new party should openly advocate this and reject any reformist fantasies about “community control” of the existing capitalist state apparatus.

To defend ourselves we need to form mass-based organs of self-defence which can resist the repression of the capitalist state as we fight back against the attacks and lay the basis for its overthrow. We need to take over workplaces and join together to take the economy into common ownership. This will necessarily carry over into a fight for working class rule, based on democratic organisations at all levels from workplace councils to a workers’ government.

The capitalists, their politicians and media hacks, along with their cronies in the workers’ movement, will say that this is all utopian and unrealistic. Our new party must say it is not a question of what is possible under capitalism – we are not social democratic reformists – but what is possible were society ruled by working people. Markets and profit-based production are not eternal social phenomena. They have not always existed and, as is now so clearly evident, they have outlived their usefulness.


77 Responses to “For a revolutionary socialist programme”

  1. 1 Fenian Socialist
    April 6, 2011 at 21:14

    You continue to ignore the existence of an oppressor working class in the occupied North-the Loyalist working class. Brits out. The priveleges and oppression of Catholic/nationalist community ends, the working class can be truly united.

  2. April 7, 2011 at 06:30

    “The new party should call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland. We should demand the release of Republican prisoners and the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. While opposing discrimination of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland the new party should seek to promote measures that point towards the unity of workers in the Republican and Unionist communities in a common struggle against the capitalist system and its attacks.”

    I advocate Brits out and an end to discrimination of the Catholic/nationalist community. So as far I can see your only possible programmatic complaint can be that you think promoting “unity of workers in the Republican and Unionist communities in a common struggle against the capitalist system and its attacks” is wrong as the Unionist communities are an “oppressor working class”.

    I fail to see how “the working class can be truly united” without having a programme that promotes unity of the working class communities.

    Unless of course your “Brits out” comment refers to this “oppressor working class” as well. If so, this is a programme for pogroms by one section of the working class against another and I do not support it.

    • 3 Fenian Socialist
      April 7, 2011 at 19:27

      My program is that of Eire Nua, i.e. the Provisionals programme of 1972. This would allow huge autonomy for Ulster workers-Catholic and Protestant-within a socialist republic. My point refers more to the absolute primacy of getting British imperialism out of Ireland. Sectarianism and aristocratic privileges are written into the very existence of the Orange border. These privileges can only be sustained on the basis of the dominance of the Loyalist capitalists over their own working class. This can only be sustained via the continuation of Britains colonial governance and occupation of Ulster(six counties of it anyway), as this allows the transfer of cash from London to prop up Loyalisms. Without such a transfer the class collaboration and alliance within the Loyalist community would collapse. Only then could workers unity be advanced. Unity is impossible while the border exists. The nationalist working class of the North, united with the working class and small business sections in the South will lead the entire country to sovereignty, independence, and socialism. There is no role for the loyalists this side of imperialisms expulsion.

      • April 7, 2011 at 23:18

        I can agree that there would be no role for Loyalists, who remain Loyalists, in the socialist transformation of Ireland, north and south of the border. But I also think there is no role for nationalist capitalists in this project.

        Eire Nua seems to start from a nationalist point of view where there is a cross-class unity to achieve some kind of radical social-democratic version of socialism on one island where the good nationalist capitalists are allowed to continue exploiting their workers within the context of a democratic government which controls their excesses.

        I, on the other hand, start from the perspective of proletarian internationalism where socialism involves the expropriation of the capitalists as a class and has as an inherent perspective the unity of the working class as a class across all national boundaries. An Irish Workers’ Republic based on the expropriation of the capitalist class is only conceivable as an ongoing viable entity within the context of a Socialist Federation of Europe as part of the international socialist revolution.

  3. 5 lefty
    April 7, 2011 at 16:45

    the electoral success of the ULA and subsequent higher profile in debates of people like richard boyd barrett and joe higgins, and the left wing speeches of the likes of pearse doherty of sinn fein can only bring more people to the left way of thinking. This is a good thing

    So, why do you shoot yourself in the foot by attacking them?. You can’t expect people to have a “road to damascus” transformation to revolutionary marxism overnight. People need to start thinking about some of the ideas and the inequity highlighted by these folks then when they get comfortable with the softer left stuff, we can give them a little of the hard stuff.

    Your purist approach will doom the irish left to the margins where it has languished until the ULA arrangement gave it more of a voice recently

    But then Division is probably what you want. Divide and conquer as the saying goes. You probably work for the right. Either that or you are intertminably stupid, have no understanding of humans, and never learned anything from the last few years of failed left politics in Ireland.

  4. 6 Fenian Socialist
    April 7, 2011 at 22:42

    That amounts to saying that ‘you are too socialist’. It is absurd.

  5. April 7, 2011 at 22:43

    I must say I find this line of argument very difficult to understand.

    I genuinely believe that a revolutionary programme along the general lines I outline in my document is necessary for any new workers’ party, both in terms of carrying out an effective fight-back to defeat the current attacks and the ending of capitalism in the longer term.

    It is unclear to me what degree of resonance my argument for this programme will have at this time but surely if I believe it to be true I should argue for it. And that includes my right to fraternal criticism of those who present what I understand to be the dead-end diversion of reformist roads to socialism.

    You seem to be suggesting that it would be better if I lied to my fellow workers about what I believe is necessary until such time as I deem they are ready to hear it. I’m sorry but I think that is extremely paternalistic and elitist – I am not prepared to do it.

    I am not forcing anyone to do, or agree with, anything. And I am not suggesting that agreement with my revolutionary perspective is a pre-requisite for joint action to defend our class from the attacks.

    As regards my personal credentials as a working class militant I would merely refer you to the activist left in Cork who, despite disagreeing with my overall programme to varying degrees, will vouch for me as a non-sectarian who will work alongside anyone prepared to fight back against the attacks and that I am actually a trenchant advocate of principled unity between reformists, centrists and revolutionaries of all shades in these united front campaigns.

  6. April 8, 2011 at 02:58

    Ah, Alan – your first troll! Welcome to the blogosphere.

    As for the stuff on loyalists etc – it seems to me that setting British troop withdrawal and Irish unification as an absolute precondition for any united action or class consciousness across the divided body politic of the north in reality amounts to the old (most commonly) third worldist error of massively overstating the ability and/or will of imperialist capital to buy off sections of the working class.

    This was not an error at the high tide of the Irish struggle; but the Brits and Stormont have moved progressively towards an uneasy balancing act between nationalist/catholic and loyalist/protestant forces on basically communitarian lines. This has eroded, although by no means completely, the traditional orange privileges, and also poses a new strategic difficulty to be overcome – the cementation of this antagonism as a problem between two arbitrarily defined ‘communities’, with the class dimension expunged (thus, the problem with using Eire Nua is as much a matter of it being from 1972 as it is a matter of it being nationalist). Any substantial revolutionary party would have to try to make headway on this, regardless of how much traction it had in terms of forcing troop withdrawal and a united Ireland – which, of course, are still the most crucial questions for resolving the national question.

    • April 8, 2011 at 07:35

      I knew the troll thing was going to be a problem with using the blog format as a way to publicise my contribution to the debate on the programme of the proposed new workers’ party – hopefully the substantive discussion will make it worthwhile.

      I am not wanting to say that withdrawal of British troops is any kind of pre-condition for united class action but I do think that a socialist programme has to include the call for their immediate and unconditional withdrawal.

      I think I’d agree with what you say regarding the change in the situation regarding the move of the state forces towards one of a balancing act between the communities rather than the clear promotion of one side to the detriment of the other. Though, as you say, the legacy of that previous approach still lingers and continues to see an inequality between the communities.

      There is a tendency on the left to assume that British imperialism is necessarily wedded to the Loyalist community and that nothing has, or can, change in that regard, which I do not agree with.

      My lack of concrete experience of the detailed reality north of the border means that I can only make fairly general programmatic suggestions about the need for united class action but I do think that the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British troops must be remain part of the programme.

  7. 10 sarah
    April 8, 2011 at 09:04

    Good to see the unequivocal commitment to women’s reproductive freedom. I also welcome this section:

    The new party must oppose restrictions on sexual expression and sexual choices among all those capable of informed consent and therefore should fight for; an end to all discrimination against lesbians, gays and other sexual minorities; no age of consent laws; and no state censorship, including of sexual material.

    Can you confirm whether this will also involve supporting decriminalisation of consensual commercial sex; ensuring that sex workers have the same labour rights as other workers and actively resisting attempts to bring in Swedish-style laws that drive sex work underground and increase the risk of harm to those working in the industry.

    • April 8, 2011 at 10:34

      I have been actively involved in the Cork Women’s Right To Choose group since arriving in Ireland and I am firmly of the opinion that socialists must be unambiguously for women’s right to choose as an central component of fighting to remove all manifestations of the oppression of women. It would be a major mistake if the new party was to dodge this issue or played down its importance – as was unfortunately done in the ULA election campaign material.

      Yes, I am for the decriminalisation of consensual commercial sex and support the organisation of sex workers to protect their rights like any other section of the workers’ movement. Working in the sex industry can be a particularly dangerous activity and these measures would seem like basic working class solidarity to me, even leaving aside the question of how it relates to women’s opression given that most workers in the sex industry are female.

      • 12 sarah
        April 9, 2011 at 01:37

        That’s good to hear. It would be great to have this spelled out in your platform, as there seems to be absolutely no political party or organisation willing to take this stance. I have seen nothing from the ULA on this issue although the alliance of Feminist Open Forum (led by leading PBP members) with the fundamentalism of Ruhama on this issue does not inspire much confidence.

      • April 9, 2011 at 09:05

        My discussion document is not meant as a finished and complete programme and certainly this should be included in any programme of the new workers party. I wrote my document precisely to solicit exactly the kind of feedback you have given to help flesh out and improve it – thanks for that.

        I will certainly be arguing for this issue to be included in the programme of the new workers’ party.

        For instance another thing that I have noticed is missing from my discussion document is a call for separation of church and state which of course should also definitely be included in any programme of a workers’ party in Ireland.

  8. 14 Fenian Socialist
    April 9, 2011 at 01:50

    Eire Nua is the very opposite of a narrow nationalist document. It is absolutely applicable to the modern state, North and South. The idea the privileges of the Orange staters have been eroded is absurd given the continued dominance of the pubic sector, professions, apprenticeships etc. This dominance is still backed by 8k troops; a massive MIF base; a paramilitary police force toting heavy weapons. Why do the exist if not to support the continued existence of the loyalist boss-worker alliance against the nationalist minority/Irish majority??

    @Sarah-rights for porn actresses, sex workers etc to be objectified, abused, and to normalise the subordination of other women via that normalisation-is that what socialists should be fighting for. Lord above!

    • 15 sarah
      April 9, 2011 at 08:20

      Your moral issues about sex workers’ means of livelihood are not the point. I would expect most socialists to agree that workers are entitled to labour rights and freedom from legal harassment whatever industry they are in.

      • April 9, 2011 at 09:24

        Unfortunately this moralism is more widespread in the “socialist” movement than should be expected. Of course this moralistic view as outlined by FS misses the point completely.

        The persepctive Sarah and I support is exactly about trying to stop workers in the sex industry from being objectified and abused and is part of a general programme against the subordination/oppression of women generally.

        I can understand that this moral outrage is based on genuine concern over the conditions many workers in the sex industry are forced to operate in but the point is what programme could help move towards ending this as a part of an overall programme to end women’s oppression, indeed all oppression.

        Moral outrage is not a programme and in fact to the extent these moralistic “socialists” do take programmaic positions they tend to point in the opposite direction from actually helping empower workers in the sex industry.

        See the section “Fighting the cause of oppression” in the following document for an example of the kind of programmatic response that is required –

    • April 9, 2011 at 09:37

      So nothing has changed since Eire Nua was written? British imperialism has not changed its stance at all?

      Clearly this is not the case as is shown by the killing of Ronan Kerr and the responses to his death.

      For a revolutionary socialist explanation of the change codified in the “Good Friday” agreement, which provided the framework for the situation which exists today, see

  9. 18 Fenian Socialist
    April 9, 2011 at 11:52

    No, nothing of substance has changed, not at all. What do you think has changed?? What does the outpourings of tears for a paramilitary soldiers death have to do with anything when they come from politicians who are paid agents and servants of British imperialism? You really should have an ear on the ground in the North, Alan, as it would give quite a different view of the ‘outrage’ that you seem to think is widespread. Just like the Jews who joined Hitlers police forces in the occupied zones of E.Europe, there are often no better troops than the oppressed and abused who has been turned.

    There is nothing moralistic in my arguments. People can do what they want amongst consenting adults.

    • April 9, 2011 at 12:45

      For a start, where have I argued that “outrage” is widespread?

      I am cautious about being too categorical about the situation in the North given that I don’t “have an ear to the ground” as you put it.

      But at the same time it is quite clear that the death of this Catholic PSNI officer and the responses to it are indeed quite different from the response that would have occurred in the early 1970s to the killing of an RUC officer.

      As the IBT article argues one important change from the early 1970s is in regard to the deliberate and systematic favouring by the British/Stormont state of the Protestant/Loyalist community to more of a balancing act between the two communities within a divide and rule perspective. Which is not to argue that there is equality between the two communities but this is more due to issues of historical legacy rather than deliberate policy by the state as in the past.

      Regarding the issue of a programme for workers in the sex industry you have only presented moral outrage in response to the programme Sarah and I are arguing for. What is your alternative programme?

  10. 20 Stiana
    April 9, 2011 at 16:14

    Is it Republican to think that the unity of our country rests on the Loyalist working class of the North? When I think of a United Ireland (Which I do honestly aspire to.) it is a free and democratic country, where 1 in 5 of the population still considers itself British, where our government has to accomodate and form coalitions with Unionist parties inside and outside the artificial construction of “the Black North.” You might think a Unionist Club back in Dublin would be a retrograde step. I think it would be the crowning achievement of peace, and the laying to rest of the ghost of British occupation. The trick then is convincing large sections of the unionist electorate (who are voting less and less these days, so maybe there is a chance of a new alignment in northern politics from this sector.) that their cultural traditions will be respected, and their freedom as citizens retained under a Republic. That may include retention of a sub-national assembly in the north, or retention of the PSNI under Garda supervision, Bipartite agreements with Britain, allowing our citizens to join the British Army or IDF and so on. A Twelth parade in Dublin? If the country ever is to reunite, we’ll all have to swallow some fairly jagged pills.

    • April 9, 2011 at 18:00

      I guess it is a variant of Republicanism but probably a minority one.

      However it doesn’t have much to do with the revolutionary socialism this blog was set up to discuss.

      The Republic I am interested in is a Workers Republic in which the PSNI, Garda and all other institutions of the capitalist state are consigned to the dustbin of history.

  11. 22 Fenian Socialist
    April 10, 2011 at 13:56

    There is no moral outrage, just opposition to normalising sex industry. Why? It normalises the subordination of women as sexual objects for men. No morality.

    The programme is fine apart from the thorny issue of how to unify a nation which is still dminated politically by Britain-the question of questions. If a Trotskyist group cannot orientate correctly yo the fundamental task of the national revolution….

  12. April 10, 2011 at 14:21

    I was asking about your alternative programme for workers in the sex industry.

    If you think the programmatic points Sarah and I are arguing for are bad because they lead to “normalising” the oppression of women what is your altenative?

  13. 24 Fenian Socialist
    April 12, 2011 at 18:34

    Do they not normalise? Is that something you would deny?

    My alternative would be for a revolutionary party to state clearly it will ban prostitution, pornography for profit, stripping for profit etc.

    • April 12, 2011 at 21:43

      So your programme is to further criminalise women working in the sex industry, driving them under-ground and increasing the dangers to them as a result.

      All your abstract concern for women disappears with your actual programme which can only result in deepening the real-life oppresson of women.

      Unfortunately confirming Sarah and my concerns over what lay behind your initial moralistic repsonse.

  14. 26 Fenian Socialist
    April 12, 2011 at 21:58

    Here this. Either you are thick-I doubt it-or you are purposefully ignorant of what I have actually said. Where have I called for women to be criminalised by the bosses state?? Prey tell. I have stated that such work/exploitation would be made illegal by a revolutionary state/movement.

    What is the problem with recognising the difference? Why hide behind slurs of ‘moralism’? Is it just a way to avoid discussing your support for the reactionary border? A good diversion? Your opposition to republican groups, under the banner of ‘military support’, of course (in which case please, give us some weapons)! This is turning into a slightly expanded version of your bookface.

    • April 12, 2011 at 22:20

      Well the demands that Sarah and I had put forward are clearly in the context of the current capitalism system so I don’t think it was unreasonable to assume you would be doing the same.

      Indeed nothing about your original comments indicated you were suggesting that nothing can be done about the problems facing workers in the sex industry short of a revolution.

      Mind you for myself I find it hard to conceive of any future workers’ state criminalising workers in the sex industry in this way.

      So I’m afraid I disagree with you pretty much completely on this question.

      I clearly do not support the reactionary border – I just have a different programme from you for how to get rid of it.

    • 28 sarah
      April 15, 2011 at 22:35

      I’m interested in hearing how you think that the harms that flow from criminalisation of sex work would be avoided in a revolutionary state. (Presumably you aren’t suggesting that commercial sex would disappear entirely in that state – if that was the case there would be no reason to prohibit it.)

      As for normalising commercial sex, the fact is that it is already normalised – for men. It is only for the women that it is still seen as deviant and shameful. The consequences of this double standard are being played out in Long Island as we speak. If “normalising” sex work means that women will no longer be killed by men who then use their mobile phones to tell their families what whores they were, then I am all for normalising it.

  15. 29 Fenian Socialist
    April 13, 2011 at 10:03

    Your revolutionary programme is to be enacted under capitalism?

    You oppose revolutionary nationalism, its goals and aims. You place the need to unite loyalist aristocrats and nationalist workers as the way to overthrow the border. That means that in practice you support the border as legitimate until loyalists can be convinced by calls to unity to get rid of it. You support the border.

    No doubt you could point to the Bolshevik approach of legalising prostitution. You could also just as easily look to the results of this-massive and hideous extension of prostitution across the USSR. Communism is about female liberation or it is nothing. It certainly is not about legal sanction for paid for abuse. Mind you, the Spart tradition has a very reactionary line on women generally.

    • April 13, 2011 at 16:15

      My understanding of a revolutionary programme is that it is a plan for how to get from the current situation under capitalism to the revolutionary seizure of power. We no doubt can make some assumptions about what laws and regulations may be enacted under the dictatorship of the proletariat but the revolutionary programme is not primarily concerned with that speculation – though of course at such time as we get very close to the insurrection there may be more concrete speculation – it is about getting to the revolutionary seizure of power.

      Thus the revolutionary programme includes demands about what the working class needs now and if we were able to extract them as concessions from the bosses would improve the immediate living conditions.

      But it is not limited to these immediate demands that could be enacted as reforms. It links these to broader demands that expose the inherent incapacity of capitalim to meet our needs. These demands go hand in hand with concrete proposals for organising the workers’ movement in militant class struggle organs based on the principles of workers’ democracy.

  16. 31 Fenian Socialist
    April 13, 2011 at 20:36

    Right. I misunderstood. So the title of the blog should be ‘for a transitional programme to fight the crisis’?

  17. 33 Fenian Socialist
    April 13, 2011 at 23:20

    Is that not just a form of ‘two ticket’ communism? One thing you say to workers, another for the cadres. Surely the full program for a communist society should also be a part of it?

    • April 14, 2011 at 01:22

      I don’t have a “full programme for a communist society” – my programme is for the seizure of power. And it is the only programme I have. I am not like other so-called “revolutionaries” who play that game of only revealing those parts of their programme that they think will be acceptable to the average worker.

  18. 35 Fenian Socialist
    April 14, 2011 at 09:20

    But surely the programme you outline could be accused of that. The programme I support-Eire Nua-is a clear and full one. You can disagree, but it is all there.

    • April 14, 2011 at 14:25

      I don’t see how. The programmatic framework I outline is explicitly one for the working class in its struggles now and how those struggles should point towards the need for the overthrow of the capitalist system as a whole. It then outlines the general parameters for how that overthrow could come about. I suppose their are some implied aspirations about what the post-revolutionary society will look like, especially in the initial period, but it does not pretend to be a blueprint for a socialist society.

      It is true that Eire Nua does fill out the details for the aimed for society to a far greater degree. But this question of the amount of detail of the future society is not the real basis for our disagreement.

      My aim, as outlined in this programmatic document, is the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist state ending the social relations based on profit. Replacing this with the rule of the working class through organs of workers’ democracy with social relations based on human need.

      The aim of Eire Nua is a sanitised and controlled version of capitalism with only the foreign and “bad” Irish bourgeoisie expropriated under the democratic (in a non-class sense of democracy) rule of “the people” (a code word for a cross-class bloc with the “progressive” bourgeoisie).

      The fact that Eire Nua contains more details of its cross-class fantasy of a non-exploitative capitalism in the future is of little consequnce to me.

  19. 37 Fenian Socialist
    April 14, 2011 at 14:34

    Well, the fact the BT do nothing to support Republican POWs is a good extension of your rejection of the anti imperialist united front as advocated by Lenin and Trotsky, and codified in the first five years of the Comintern. A cross class alliance? What cross class alliance? Do the BT deny there is a small business sector in Ireland? Does the BT plan to expropriate every small and medium sized business? You really must try and study-as opposed to just quoting-the Bolsheviks and their experiences of early post revolutionary government. Your programme, fine in so far as it is within the limits imposed by Trotskyism as it became bastardised after 1928, is bankrupt in not placing the unification of Ireland centre stage. It has always been the way for British leftists to deny support to revolutionaries on the basis that they do not follow your program of uniting Ireland via an alliance of nationalist and loyalist workers.

    BTW, your program says little on the rights of paedophiles. Why is this? Does the BT reject the Spart tradition? What about age of consent laws?

    • April 15, 2011 at 09:06

      My programmatic attitude towards Republican prisoners is clear.

      I disagree with the political content of the “anti-imperialist united front” that some Trotskyists give it – where it amounts to political support for non-proletarian bloc partners.

      It is unlikely that an Irish Workers’ Republic would move to expropriate the small business sector but certainly all big and, I would expect, many/most “medium” sized businesses would be expropriated.

      I place unity of the working class at the centre of my programmatic approach. You place unification of Ireland at the centre. This is what is behind the differences in our perspective.

      I am opposed to all non-consensual sex. I oppose the arbitrary criminalisation of people engaging in consensual sex merely on the basis of their age through the imposition of age of consent laws.

  20. 39 Fenian Socialist
    April 14, 2011 at 14:36

    You really must also read Eire Nua, especially the updated 1991 version from RSF. Worker owned coperatives within a state dominated economy, with state owned banks and large industries/infrastructure-the expropriation of foreign and domestic capital-is a funny form of alliance with the bosses.

    • April 15, 2011 at 09:35

      You referred me to the 1971 version – I read it and responded accurately to the political perspective outlined in that document.

      I have read and it contains no class content whatsoever.

      I have read and it has much in it that would overlap with my programmatic perspectives. However its nationalistic framework and “democratic socialism” which looks positively towards keynesian economics are substantive differences with my internationalist and revolutionary socialist approach.

      I would expect that there would be significant opporunities for joint activity in united fronts with activists putting Saol Nua into practice.

  21. 41 Fenian Socialist
    April 15, 2011 at 16:34

    I am sure there will be room for united fronts. The full Eire Nua-best link is the Irish Left Archive site-does contain Saol Nua also, although I reject your contention that it is Keynesian.

  22. 43 Fenian Socialist
    April 16, 2011 at 16:36

    Is it a fact? Perhaps it is implied. What concretely do you plan to do in united fronts? Have you ever put feelers out?

    • April 16, 2011 at 18:54

      Well I guess people can interpret things in whatever way they want to but I think most fair-minded people would understand the following as a positive reference to Keynes:

      “A quotation from one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century, Maynard Keynes, is revealing:

      “‘For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair, for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.’

      “Keynes was speaking during the depression of 1930, but his assertion that ethical considerations are a hindrance to economic growth can now be assessed sixty years later.”

      Regarding united front opportunities I am involved in a number in Cork which would find overlap with the positions outlined in the RSF documents. However I have never seen a RSF representative at any of these meetings, or indeed any public meeting in Cork, so it is something of a moot point.

      I note that you haven’t replied to Sarah’s question – I would repeat it to you.

  23. 45 Fenian Socialist
    April 16, 2011 at 19:19

    You can’t take a quote as indicative of a party programme or philosophy. RSF are, how can we put it..busy’ with things. What question from Sarah?

  24. 47 Fenian Socialist
    April 17, 2011 at 18:29

    The Bolsheviks spoke of the people, with Lenin writing a pamphlet with the term in the title-in a positive sense. Revolutionary politics in oppressed nations yet to achieve the very basics of national liberation, is always more complex than just shouting ‘working class’, whatever that term means.

    Oh right, that question, such as it is. Long Island is an extreme case that proves my point-the refusal of the bosses state to act against prostitution/legalised/paid for abuse, leads inexorably to mass murder becoming possible.

    • April 17, 2011 at 19:31

      It is true that the Bolsheviks used the term “the people” but their emphasis was clearly on the working class – the politics of the RSF have a different emphasis. Are you really trying to argue that the RSF represent some kind of political continuity with the politics of the revolutionary Marxism of the Bolsheviks.

      So your answer to Sarah’s question would seem to be support for the criminalisation of workers in the sex industry – thus driving them underground and making their lives even more dangerous. Which is unfortunately where moralistic knee-jerk responses to this issue tend to end up.

    • 49 sarah
      April 18, 2011 at 08:33

      That was not my question. My question was how you envision that the harms of criminalisation (which exist even where the buyers of sex are criminalised and the sellers are not) would be avoided in a revolutionary state.

  25. 50 Fenian Socialist
    April 17, 2011 at 20:35

    Yes, I would argue that RSF stand in the tradition of Bolshevism. Not the bastardised version represented by the Trot groups in the West.

    No, I call for the criminalisation of the rapists and abusers who use sex workers. Sex workers are already criminalised, are they not.

    • April 17, 2011 at 21:46

      Well we will just have to agree to disagree about what the politics of RSF represent and it is clear that we therefore have a substantive difference over what revolutionary socialist politics are about.

      Rapists and other abusers of sex workers are already technically criminsalised, though of course the capitalist state does not always follow through on this. But that is a red herring as what Sarah and I are talking about is consensual activity.

      To a large degree sex workers are indeed already criminalised – which is why Sarah and I agree on calling for decriminalisation of commercial consensual sex and the unionisation of workers in the sex industry.

      You reacted with horror to this programmatic perspective and it therefore seems you want this criminalisation of sex workers to continue – both under capitalism and in your version of socialism.

  26. 52 Fenian Socialist
    April 17, 2011 at 23:17

    No, I have merely pointed to the inconsistency of your programmatic points regarding sex workers. Where is the call for enforcement of the criminilsation of people who abuse women, men, young women/boys through the sex industry. Your argument seems to be ‘well, it exists. let us jump onto the bandwagon of the liberals and ‘trades unionists’ who advocate legalisation of abuse and exploitation’. In which case, why not legalise all forms of abuse and oppression?

    • April 18, 2011 at 09:59

      I, and presumably Sarah, would agree that laws against non-consensual sex, be that in the sex industry or in society generally, need to be enforced and that a future socialist society would have laws against non-consensual sex as well.

      But you continue to avoid the question of what to do about consensual commercial sex. You have attacked our programme of decriminalisation of consensual commercial sex and unionisation of workers in the sex industry which we believe is the best way to protect those workers. Your implied, as you refuse to make it explicit, alternative programme is to deepen criminality around consensual commercial sex. This would fairly clearly only increase the danger for workers in the sex industry but you want to avoid that issue – which is why you are refusing to answer Sarah’s question.

      I actually think your problem is that the very idea of commercial sex offends your morality and you consider it to necessarily be abusive – which is why you keep conflating non-consensual and consensual commercial sex.

      Of course it would be better if workers in the sex industry were not forced to take up this profession through reasons of poverty and/or drug addiction and any response to this issue should be part of a programme which includes demands which point towards real freedom for all working people to make informed choices about their lives. But even to the extent you are correct in your moral response your programme of criminalisation will not end the sex industry under capitalism and will only increase the dangers of abuse for the sex workers who remain part of it.

      For my own part I am unsure whether a “sex industry” will exist in a socialist society – certainly if it does it would be very different from what exists under capitalism, as indeed will be all work under the new social relations.

  27. 54 Fenian Socialist
    April 18, 2011 at 19:16

    There is no such thing as consensual paid sex, at least not in the sense of having a neutral affect in the wider power relationships of men and women. I am seriously unsurprised by your pro prostitution stance, so little regard do leftists always have for the very poorest in society. Much better to hitch aboard the bourgeois feminism of the likes of Sarah.

    • April 18, 2011 at 23:50

      Well if you are going to apply the criteria of the wider general power relationships between men and women why stop at commercial sexual relationships? Surely every sexual encounter between men and women must therefore be nonconsensual, a form of rape.

      But when it is posed in those terms, as flows logically from your argument, it shows your starting point is absurd.

      And anyway it is you who seems to have a disregard for workers in the sex industry as you have no programme other than criminalisation of all involved – which will only drive it further underground and make it more dangerous for those involved.

      But such is the nature of political positions motivated by moral repugnance rather than being part of a coherent political strategy for human liberation.

      This topic would seem to have reached its natural end – given the completely diverse views about the very nature of sexual relationships between men and women we will once again just have to agree to disagee.

  28. 56 Fenian Socialist
    April 19, 2011 at 09:06

    No, you take a point to absurd ends. If a woman turns to sex work for money, then this is clearly for economic reasons not unrelated to the clear facts regarding lower pay, greater poverty etc of women in Britain/ Ireland, and internationally. To legalise this abuse is absurd. To protect the abusers under the umbrella of helping sex workers is absurd. This is akin to your known positions regarding defending child rapists under the cover of ‘keeping the state out of the bedroom’. Why do you not call for alternative jobs and education for sex workers? And the prosecution of abusers?

  29. 57 Fenian Socialist
    April 19, 2011 at 09:08

    Human liberation via legalised rape! Gotta love middle class socialism/Spart crazies.

  30. April 19, 2011 at 13:10

    I have already outlined that decriminalisation of the sex industry and unionisation of sex workers are only part of the overall programme – which includes the elements you have referred to. I am NOT however going to call for the prosecution of all purchasers of sex services as I do not accept your conflation of consensual and non-consensual sex.

    But you seem unable, or unwilling, to engage in a real discussion. You may therefore have noticed that I have changed the links to my discussion document on the main page of the blog.

    I am reluctant to delete this thread as the exchanges with Sarah and Jimbo were substantive and interesting. Even though the discussion with Fenian Socialist is of much less value I am in general opposed to deleting posts so will keep this thread live.

  31. 60 Fenian Socialist
    April 19, 2011 at 19:13

    I have engaged with your points, whilst rejecting middle socialism/feminism. Fell free to delete. Par for the course with such groups as the ‘Bolshevik Tendency’. Your reason for not seeing all buyers of sex as abusers is not unrelated to your position as a middle class man, born and raised in a rich, imperialist country, and who now lives as a transplant in a semi colony of British and US imperialism. How could you side with the women abused by men? That would run counter to your entire political outlook and deformed Trotskyism, albeit purged of its pro-rape and paedophilia positions (we hope)

  32. April 19, 2011 at 20:28

    I have already stated that I will not delete this thread.

    This is all absurd. You disagree with our politics so I am “middle class”, Sarah is a “bourgeois feminist” – when in fact you know very little if anything about my class background or indeed Sarah’s political framework, though I would note that it is an unusual “bourgeois feminist” who places unionisation of workers in the sex industry at the heart of her political perspective.

    And my main activism since arriving in Cork has been in Cork Womens Right To Choose – I suppose in your warped world view that is just more proof of my lack of concern for women’s rights…

    But all this mud slinging is just to cover up the fact that you have refused to answer the question of what your alternative programme is. Instead all you have presented is calling for greater levels of criminalisation as if that would help any of the women for whom you are supposedly so concerned about. As Sarah has pointed out that just pushes the sex industry underground and INCREASES the abuse of women.

  33. 62 Fenian Socialist
    April 19, 2011 at 20:36

    Once again-solution-prosecute those who pay to abuse women. Provide jobs and education/welfare services for women abused trhough the sex industry. Simple. Your socialism is middle class as hell.

  34. 64 Fenian Socialist
    April 20, 2011 at 10:21

    Oh right, a small gang of oddballs from various imperialist countries understand have created ‘the Marxist position on women’. Your understanding of sexual relations based on monetary payment is a shadow of your refusal to do anything for the actual working class-that class outside of the unions, in the prisons etc. Your call for legalisation is the echo of the middle class feminists who run the sex workers ‘unions’-and do a good deal better out of it than the workers-in that you side with men who wish to pay to abuse, rather than the women forced to sell themselves.

  35. April 20, 2011 at 11:26

    This is wrong, and indeed bizarre, on so many levels.

    That the “actual working class” is outside the unions. Therefore all union members are “middle class”?

    Because there are bureaucrats in the unions, socialists should oppose workers joining unions.

    That monetary payment for sex necessarily means an abusive relationship.

    That only Marxists from non-imperialist countries can develop a Marxist programme – because all workers in imperialist countries are “middle class”? Except perhaps if they are in prison or unemployed?

    That keeping the sex industry criminalised will somehow help the women and other sex workers who are abused. Instead of realising that it is this criminalisation that is one of the main reasons causing the real violence and abuse that occurs to workers in the sex industry.

  36. 66 Fenian Socialist
    April 20, 2011 at 19:42

    Where have you taken the view that all workers in unions are middle class? Where have you taken the view only Marxists in the south can create a Marxist programme. I find these slurs rather bizarre. You used to be much better at answering points. This stock distortion is a real decline.

    • April 20, 2011 at 22:29

      I made my suppositions on those points based on the following:

      Your comments regarding the IBT coming from imperialist countries that were directly linked to the invalidity of their programmatic views.

      Your comment that the “actual working class” was outside the unions.

      Perhaps there are alternative interpretations for your comments or perhaps they were sloppy formulations but taken at face value my interpretation of their meaning seems valid to me.

      Not that this is of any particular importance as you don’t seem interested in anything approaching a critical engagement with the programmatic framework I have put forward in this document. Your method for dealing with political disagreements seems to be one of denunciation and hyperbole. Probably I made a mistake in treating you seriously. Feel free to have the last word in this thread.

  37. 68 Fenian Socialist
    April 21, 2011 at 13:37

    I have engaged a great deal more than anybody else. The engagement has been a consistent questioning of why you support those who abuse women through prostitution, and why you call for legalisation of this abuse. I have also questioned whether a small group all based in imperialist countries can play a significant role in formulating a ‘revolutionary programme.’ I have also questioned why your programme is to be enacted under capitalism, that is-why is your revolutionary programme not in fact a revo programme. I apologise. I should have restricted my comments to left liberal cheer-leading of abusers and the like. My bad.

  38. 69 Evan
    April 22, 2011 at 00:25

    “…no age of consent laws…”


    • April 22, 2011 at 07:03

      Why “Erm…?”

      Age of consent laws are a fairly arbitrary way of controlling sexual relations and protecting young peope from harm.

      What is important is that sexual relations are consensual and the truth is that many young people under the “age of consent”, 16 in Ireland, are able to consent to sexual encounters.

      In fact as most of the sexual encounters of young people this law is supposed to be “protecting” occurs with other young people around the same age quite often all that happens is the criminalisation of young people who are slightly over this arbitrary age who have sexual encounters with young people slightly under this arbitrary age.

      Of course all non-consensual sexual activity where one party is forced to engage in sexual activity should be punishable in line with the amount of coercion used and the harm done – but this is true no matter what the age of those involved.

  39. 71 sarah
    April 22, 2011 at 08:04

    It’s quite remarkable how FS refuses to answer the simple question of how the harms of criminalisation can be avoided. The only reply we are getting is through more enforcement of the criminal laws – which would only magnify those harms. Is it really too much to ask FS to address the issue?

    Incidentally, I know very few bourgeois feminists who agree with my position on this. Most of them share your view that sex workers just need to be “educated” out of the industry. It is feminists who come from backgrounds where low-status work is the only work available who tend to believe that sex work isn’t necessarily their worst option.

  40. 72 skeptic
    April 22, 2011 at 12:27

    “the new party needs to be committed to the expropriation of the banks and multinationals, and all the other big-business parasites – without compensation. Nationalisations under workers’ control can be a valuable training ground for running a planned and socialised economy but only if openly linked to the need for expropriations by a workers government after the seizure of power.”

    Can you explain how you plan to “nationalise” the irish operations of Microsoft, IBM, Google etc., and how those entities will then be productively engaged afterwards ? Are you planning to effectively steal or use their technology illegally and have no market for it ? And could you also further elaborate how you then plan to encourage any subsequent international investment inwards to Ireland ?

    Also I noticed you mention “seizure” of power – what exactly do you mean, given the violent undertones ?

    • April 22, 2011 at 12:57

      You raise a good point regarding the multi-nationals. Any serious socialist organisation needs to have answer to these kinds of questions given the abject prostration at the feet of the multi-nationals that infects so much of political discourse in Ireland.

      The Internationalism section of my discussion document provides the framework for how I see this. If you look at the question of socialist transformation of society solely in terms of Ireland then you do run up against the problems you raise. But for my own part I see the struggle for socialism in Ireland as being completely integrated into an international struggle as socialism will only work as an international system.

      Indeed given Ireland’s place in the world capitalist system and the domination of the economy by imperialist multi-national companies it is almost inconceivable to see how we could have a socialist revolution without the active support of our brothers and sisters in Britain and across Europe.

      So in answer to your question of how I see the nationalisation of the multi-nationals in Ireland occurring it is in the context of an international uprising against the imperialist/capitalist world order to expropriate teh capitalists on a world scale.

      To the extent that Ireland is ahead of the international struggle then yes, I am indeed for “stealing” their assets and technology as it is all based on the “profits” they have stolen from working people around the world already.

      What I mean by the the “seizure” of power is working people taking over the running of society based on the organisations we create in the struggle against the attacks of the bosses and their government. As you will gather from reading the final section of my document I think it is almost certain that the capitalists will not just accept this quietly. As soon as we start to pose a threat, even just in terms of rolling back the current cuts, they will unleash the forces of their state apparatus against us and we will need to organise to resist those attacks. They will not hesitate to use violence against us and we must be prepared to meet that violence in kind.

  41. 74 Fenian Socialist
    April 25, 2011 at 00:29

    This is why communists should build links with Republicans. They have the skills required.

    • April 25, 2011 at 17:21

      I do joint work with an Eirigi member in Cork Women’s Right To Choose and will be attending their public meeting on the Queen’s visit in early May – which is I think the first public meeting they have held in Cork since I’ve been here.

      I’m all for builidng links around practicial activity we agree on.

  42. November 25, 2011 at 03:21

    As a foreigner working in the Adult industry, I find your blog right up my street, “For a revolutionary socialist programme revolutionaryprogramme” I will keep checking for interesting additions to your blog.
    Well written,
    Thank you 🙂

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