Author Archives: James O'Brien

About James O'Brien

History: Tried for Bakuninist deviationism, confessed his errors and was rehabilitated. Subsequently degenerated into Kautskyist Orthodoxy. Worse, is an Irish peasant.

Officials and Provisionals

Martin McGuinness, Political Strategy and the Civil Rights Movement The death of Martin McGuinness has inevitably prompted reflection on his career, with the reactions varying according to one’s political ideology. For the mainstream, McGuinness’s oeuvre is sharply divided into two … Continue reading

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Wailings about Left Unity

In yesterday’s Irish Independent and on Facebook, Julien Mercille asks why The Workers’ Party, Socialist Workers Party, and the Socialist Party do not form one party. The first answer a lot of people will reach for is simple inertia. Organisations have … Continue reading

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Kautsky – The crisis of capitalism and the shortening of working time

By Karl Kautsky, translated by Noa Rodman In former times we had a saying in Germany: “When the peasant has money, everyone has.” That was perfectly true wherever the great majority of the people were peasants or farmers. It is no … Continue reading

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Catholic Marxism

At first glance Marxism and Catholicism have little in common: one is thoroughly materialist in outlook, the other a prime defender of idealism. Whereas Marxism is dedicated to a new social order, the Church has been intimately associated with conservative, … Continue reading

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Strategy of Attrition: Part II

Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (Outside of the Church there is no Salvation) In order for strategies to become more permanently established they need to be theorised. Just as the Leninists, from 1919 on, theorised the de facto dictatorship of the … Continue reading

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The Strategy of Attrition: Part I

Conquest or Destruction of the State? Right from its beginnings in early 19th century, socialism has been bedevilled by debates over strategy in a way that right-wing ideologies have not. Would salvation come, as Fourier dreamed, from wealthy benefactors funding new … Continue reading

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The Transition

The period of transition between our current capitalist economic and social system and a socialist economy is a very controversial subject among socialists. Maintaining an active dialogue and critique of this period is absolutely critical to our strategic and tactical … Continue reading

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Extract from Kautsky’s Die Vereinigten Staaten Mitteleuropas (1916)

As the First World War progressed, the Kaiserreich’s ambitions for German military domination of Europe became clearer and clearer: the fate of Europe was to become satellite states of a highly militarised Germany, a strategic goal known as Mitteleuropa. Rather than … Continue reading

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European Left Summer University

The European Left Summer University was held between July 3rd and 6th. Organised by Bloco de Esquerda of Portugal, the University was a three-day series of lectures and seminars on the key issues facing the European Left, the party of … Continue reading

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The ties that bind: historical memory and present struggle

After having received 12 years of schooling in Ireland, I think it’s not too outlandish to say that history is a means to the formation of national identity, one which inculcates in the population a more or less patriotic conception … Continue reading

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The Philosophy of Science

As we saw in Part I, scientific progress is used by the capitalist class as a tool for the expulsion of labour from the workforce by way of technological improvements, which enables them to increase profits. This fact was immortalised … Continue reading

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Science and Socialism

“Soviets plus electrification,” proclaimed Lenin, “equals communism”. Even allowing for the simplifications inherent in sloganeering, Lenin’s quip does capture a version of the optimism, even faith, that his generation of socialists had in science and its essential compatibility with the socialist … Continue reading

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Three types of revolution

The issue of revolution looms large in the minds of socialists. The bewildering array of radical groups, most of whom proclaim their allegiance to revolution as the central feature which defines their existence as radicals, gives the impression of them … Continue reading

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Interview with Gael Le Mignot of the Parti communiste français

The Parti communiste français or, for us impoverished monoglots, the French Communist Party, was founded in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and has seen many highs (the anti-fascist struggle) and lows (the decline in the 1990s). Unlike most of the far … Continue reading

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