Dec 10 2017


We are posting the following piece from the IWW (Ireland) about the Solidarity with Catalunya protest organised at Free Derry Wall. 




Members of the IWW in Derry today took part in a rally held at Free Derry Wall in solidarity with workers throughout Catalonia on General Strike following Sunday’s referendum on self-determination. This evening solidarity action coincided with similar actions in Ireland and across the world at which many sections of the IWW participated.

In a statement issued ahead of todays General Strike the IWW Ireland section said that the “IWW Ireland sends a statement of solidarity in support of a General Strike in Catalonia on 3rd October, in protest at repression of civil rights in Catalonia, the presence of military forces in places of work, and the repeal of the labour reforms of 2010/2012.

“We send this statement in support of the General Strike in Catalonia called by the Catalan CGT and stand in solidarity with our fellow workers and comrades in the CGT, CSC intersindical, CNT AIT, COS and Intersindical Alternative.”

At this evenings rally a local Catalan activist now living in Ireland spoke to those in attendance saying “On Sunday while the people of Catalonia celebrated the referendum for self-determination the Spanish state showed its true nature to the world. Everyone has seen the images, nearly 900 injured, and their mass media continue to deny that there was ever a referendum or that the police acted with disproportionate measure.

“Due to this situation, in which the people have yet again to defend themselves and uphold their rights and dignity, a general strike has taken place throughout Catalonia. The strike is a show of class unity against state repression, military occupation and the erosion of labour rights.



This was first posted at:-

Derry Solidarity with General Strike in Catalonia

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Nov 13 2017

Review: Struggle or Starve: Working Class Unity in Belfast’s Outdoor Relief Riots

Tommy McKearney reviews Struggle or Starve: Working Class Unity in Belfast’s Outdoor Relief Riots

by Sean Mitchell.




Struggle or Starve by Séan Mitchell is an important book that deserves the widest readership among those interested in promoting progressive politics in the North of Ireland. The author provides the reader with a detailed, and even inspirational, account of a rare period in Belfast’s history when the working class was united around a campaign to address matters of immediate need. More than that, through, his analysisraises questions about events of that period which still have relevance today. How possible is it to overcome sectarianism through shared struggle and can this be done within the context of a political unit as fundamentally flawed as Northern Ireland? Continue reading “Review: Struggle or Starve: Working Class Unity in Belfast’s Outdoor Relief Riots”

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Nov 07 2017


THE CATALAN DEFENCE COMMITTEE SCOTLAND was launched on Monday in an effort to broaden the campaign of solidarity with Catalonia following the violent suppression of its independence referendum and subsequent anti-democratic actions by the Spanish state.

10 Catalan political prisoners (


Modelled on the ‘committees in defence of the referendum’ set up by Catalan activists to protect polling stations during the vote, which were subject to interference and closure by Spanish authorities, the new Scottish organisation aims to advance Scottish solidarity efforts, which have already included widespread demonstrations and cross-party expressions of support. Continue reading “CATALAN DEFENCE COMMITTEE”

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Nov 07 2017


This is the second article on this blog addressing the hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution (see It suggests that a wider focus should be taken, situating this event in the 1916-21 International Revolutionary Wave. This means and looking carefully at other places, showing how Latvia, Finland and Ukraine contributed to this wave. It looks  how decisions taken by the Bolsheviks following the timeline of revolution in Russia sometimes had the effect of thwarting the timelines of revolution elsewhere. This had  negative consequences for the international revolution.

This contribution is taken from is taken from Volume 4, Internationalism form Below: Communists, Nation-States and Nationalism during the 1916-21 International Revolutionary Wave, by Allan Armstrong.







 i) April 1916 to March 1921 or ‘October’ 1917 to August 1991?

History records that the key political date of the last century was October 25th, 1917. The consequences of the events, which happened on this day, determined a great deal of world politics for more than seventy years – up until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Elsewhere, in the Western imperial-dominated world October 25th was marked as November 8th. The last Russian Provisional Government of 1917 was overthrown on this date. Nevertheless, the date became universally characterised as the day the ‘October’ Revolution began. This name stuck despite the fact that the victors, the Bolsheviks, soon changed the Russian calendar from the Old Style (O.S.) used in Tsarist Russia to the New Style (N.S.) used in the rest of the Western world. History also places the location of the key events of this day in Petrograd. This city’s name too has been subject to change, earlier from St. Petersburg to Petrograd, then later to Leningrad, and today back to St. Petersburg. Continue reading “THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION AND THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO SET UP A POST-NATIONAL WORLD ORDER”

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Nov 03 2017


Below is the text of a leaflet by the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party. It will be distributed at the  ‘Building Bridges  to Independence’ event on Saturday November 4th. It was written before the Spanish government jailed the Catalan government leadership.



‘Building bridges to independence’ must make bridges to Catalonia central to our campaigning, not only for reasons of solidarity, but because of many parallels and lessons for the Scottish national democratic movement. Continue reading “ALL HAIL THE CATALAN REPUBLIC”

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Oct 28 2017


One of the bones in contention between Sinn Fein and the DUP over the suspended Stormont is the Unionists’ refusal to pass a law recognising the Irish language. The Unionists have used their veto within the post-Good Friday Agreement set-up to ensure that British law does not extend to Stormont. Provision was made by Westminster for the Welsh language in 1967 and 1993, and by Holyrood for Scottish Gaelic in 2005. Nevertheless, there has been a constant undercurrent of anti-Welsh and anti-Gaelic attacks from Unionists in these two countries too. Given that reactionary unionism currently dominates UK politics, it is well to take notice of what is happening in Northern Ireland, particularly with the Tory government dependent on the DUP.

However, the article below, written by Fergus O’Hare takes a much broader view of why Irish (and by implication) other minority languages are important for the whole of humankind. Fergus was very active as a Peoples Democracy member in the Northern Irish Civil Rights Movement, and later in the Northern Resistance Movement. In 1981 he was elected to Belfast City Council.  Later he became the headteacher  of Northern Ireland’s first Irish language secondary school, Colaiste Feirste, and was involved in Radio Failte, the first legal Irish language station in Northern Ireland.


“It is well to remember that nations which submit to conquest or races which abandon their language in favour of that of an oppressor do so, not because of altruistic motives, or because of the love of the brotherhood of man, but from a slavish and cringing spirit. From a spirit which cannot exist side by side with the revolutionary idea.”

James Connolly

Belfast demonstration in support of the Irish language



The current opposition to an Irish Language Act has been fueled to a large extent by ignorance and bigotry. An Irish Language Act is not just needed for Irish speakers and learners or lovers of the Irish language. It is needed for everyone. It is needed for society.

In modern liberal and democratic societies many activities are supported, promoted and paid for from public funds, not because they are used by everyone in society or even by a majority in society but because they are not. Many artistic, sporting and other activities have minority followings but in a mature and inclusive society they are supported by taxpayers money or through other official support mechanisms because such a society recognises that all our lives can be enriched and made more interesting when a variety of interests and activities, even those of minority interest, are catered for and supported. Continue reading “AN IRISH LANGUAGE ACT IS FOR EVERYONE”

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Oct 23 2017


Northern Ireland is one part of the UK state where the reactionary unionism which has come to dominate politics since the Brexit referendum has a much longer history. The coalescence of the reactionary unionism which underpins the Tory Party and that of the DUP has now taken the shape of a governmental alliance, headed by Teresa May and Arlene Forster,

The implications of this are shown in the two articles below, both form the latest Socialst Democracy (Ireland) bulletin The first shows how the DUP are complicit in helping the Loyalists further their longstanding policy of ethnic cleansing. The recent election of Emma Little-Pengelly as DUP MP at Westminster has been followed by a campaign to remove Catholic residents from a previously shared housing scheme  in her South Belfast constituency (until recently held by the moderate nationalist SDLP).

The second article highlights the inevitable trajectory towards a hard border in Ireland under Brexit. The DUP which supports Brexit (a minority position in Northern Ireland) claims it doe not want a hard border. If pushed, it would probably say it didn’t want ethnic cleansing in Belfast either ( if Catholics would just accept a second class status).  But maintaining support for Unionist supremacy, which means retaining the support of Loyalism, means that the reality on the ground is very different from DUP public statements made for the benefit of a wider media. 



South Belfast Loyalists from ‘Village Team On Tour’.

For most of 2017 the Irish peace process has been in crisis and the northern assembly collapsed. There are frantic calls for restoration and both Sinn Fein and the DUP proclaim that their one desire is to agree a new executive. Continue reading “NORTHERN IRELAND UPDATE – THE IMPACT OF REACTIONARY UNIONISM”

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Oct 17 2017


In the aftermath of the Catalan referendum, Steve Freeman emphasis the republican aspect of the struggle.




The demonstration organised by the Radical Independence Campaign at the Spanish Consulate in Edinburgh on October 1st.


Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, took a cautious line on Catalan independence. She hoped that “dialogue will replace confrontation”. She called for a way forward that “respects the rule of law” and also “respects democracy”. She refused to say if the Scottish government would recognise the result of the disputed referendum. She told Andrew Marr: “I consider myself a friend of Spain”.

Spain is nothing in this context but its ruling class exercising political power through its crowned, unionist, ‘Francoist’ state. Sturgeon is giving comfort to the enemies of the Catalan people in the hope they will be more favourable to the Scottish government’s quest for independence under the crown. The leaders of the Scottish National Party want to keep friends with the queen of England and the king of Spain. Continue reading “THE CATALAN REPUBLIC”

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Oct 16 2017

BEFORE AND AFTER NATIONALISM – An historical perspective

With the emergence of Scottish and Catalan self-determination as major political issues, some on the British Left have reacted against what they dismiss as the rise of nationalism. Ironically they usually completely fail to recognise their own Left unionist British nationalism. Their failure to organise any solidarity with Catalans at the receiving end of  Spanish state repression, shows they do not see the upholding of democracy as important.

Such thinking is widely held by  the supporters of  Jeremy Corbyn. They sometimes argue that  nationalism is an ideological problem which can be overcome with consistent propaganda against nationalism, coupled with prioritising economic and social issues.

The article below, written by Allan Armstrong, looks to the material roots of nationalism, showing that ideological struggle alone will not address the problem. Other articles on this blog have highlighted the importance of the struggle for democracy, including the right of self-determination when opposing the UK state and wider imperialism.



Today, it is often difficult to think outside of a framework of the fetishisation of nationalities, which makes nation-states appear to be the ‘natural order’ of things. However, we can go back to the early days of capitalist development, when nation-states were still far from being the ‘natural order’, and far more people used religious terms to explain and understand the world they lived in. It took several centuries of social and economic change, and of wider social and economic developments, before the one-time, near universal link between religion and the state was broken in enough places to allow constitutionally secular states to emerge. States, which were exclusively linked to a particular religion or denomination, gave way, first to tolerant, and then eventually to secular states. Yet religions still existed and, indeed, proliferated within a new, increasingly secular, public world. Is there a possibility of an analogous development, which could bring about a break in the connection between ethnic group, nation and the state in the future? Continue reading “BEFORE AND AFTER NATIONALISM – An historical perspective”

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