The Irish Communist, No. 94
Date:October 1973
Organisation:British and Irish Communist Organisation
Publication:The Irish Communist
Issue:Number 94
Contributors:Alan Carr, Manus O'Riordan, Jack Lane
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

9th August 2007

As half-promised here is a PDF (6mbs large) of the Irish Communist, the theoretical journal of the British and Irish Communist Organisation. Dating from 1973 TIC was a typewritten journal, 36 pages long. My apologies for the somewhat idiosyncratic scanning and the unusual angles.

In any case the journal contains three articles, one on the “Ulster Liberals, the Protestant Working Class and the Struggle against Home Rule”, one on “The Lenin-Trotsky Controversy on the Trade Unions 1920 - 1921” and “The Rights of Nations and the Duties of Communists”. Intriguingly the same names as we see in the Irish Historical Review appear here. The consistency within BICO and its successors - in terms of those involved - is quite striking.

The emphasis on Leninism is also evident. The quote on the front is “Without a revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement”. As interesting in its own way is the list of periodicals, pamphlets and books issued by BICO on the last two pages. An eclectic mix, to be honest. They range from “On the Democratic Validity of the Norther Ireland State” (a bargain at 5p), “The Two Irish Nations: A reply to M. Farrell”, “Is Wales a Nation?” (I’d like to see that one) and then a worrying section entitled ‘by Stalin’ wherein we can feast upon such ideological delights as “Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR”, “On an Article by Engels” and “On Trotsky”.

In a way the dustiness of the enterprise is underscored by this nostalgic - if that is the right term - rummaging through arguably one of the most benighted strains in Marxism and taking it with any seriousness.

But the real meat is in the articles. I think they give a real taste of the mixture of ideological certainty, almost complete identification with Stalinism (in the most specific sense of the term) and special pleading as regards the advanced status of the Unionist working class on the island and I’d be interested in any comments on same.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Sun, 28 Oct 2007 22:45:28

    Actually no, was suggesting that the characterisation of the situation of Protestants at that time – and the nature of the struggle as an opportunity for every minor landgrab etc to take place was completely overblown. Also had some interesting thoughts about the sect to which the family belonged. My position on this would be that it is intellectually dishonest to try to pretend that one or even a small number of incidents that might or might not have a sectarian character somehow typify or invalidate the independence project. Actually I think it’s also pretty dishonest for certain people to suggest that people don’t get the idea that all conflicts are bloody and contradictory affairs, including our own history, and it seems to me to be a typical patronising ‘the people can’t be trusted to do/know the right thing’ without our guidance approach… I thought the Irish Times article during the week on this by was it Anne Marie Hourihane was fairly shallow….

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  • By: Garibaldy Sun, 28 Oct 2007 23:07:33

    Thanks for that. Agree such incidents invalidate nothing. Having said that I have no problem acknowledging that there were sectarian elements in the IRA at that time, and later. I think it’s fairly clear that both Aiken and O’Duffy were such.

    Alas, again I didn’t see the Irish Times thing. Got yesterday’s but haven’t seen it in ages before that.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Sun, 28 Oct 2007 23:29:06

    That’s the thing isn’t it? Most Republicans of whatever brand would recognise that there were sectarian elements, but that those elements never had a hegemonic or near hegemonic hold on the struggle. What I find ironic is that the thinking seems to be something along the lines of only a pacifist response was legitimate in 1916 to 1921, in other words denying any agency to the Irish in the context of an opponent (I’m generalising here I know) that had a global reach and that explicitly used force and the threat of force. It’s an innate hypocrisy in their position – particularly when we hear in the Senate some hyperbolic stuff about death penalties, etc…

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  • By: Garibaldy Sun, 28 Oct 2007 23:47:52

    Totally. We also never hear in all the talk about how 1916 had no democratic mandate that for four decades the vast majority of Irish MPs had been Home Rulers, and that this mandate was ignored. The Unionists could claim a democratic mandate of a sort. It seems to me the British couldn’t. So the people who like to apply our standards only do it to those they don’t like. It’s embarassing to see it. And the really sad thing is that they cannot see beyond their own myopic vision, and it will never have dawned on them to consider the context in which people lived and operated.

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  • By: And another thing! Coolacrease and Harris… we should have guessed…it’s not the past, it’s the present! | Irish Election Sun, 11 Nov 2007 13:22:59

    […] Organisation (and if you are interested in BICO then perhaps you’ll be interested in this and this), even if they’ve ended up in different places (well, not so different seeing as […]

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  • By: Paul Cockshott Fri, 16 Nov 2007 11:45:02

    BICO spawned in 1974 another sect COBI, made up of its Scottish and Welsh members who thought the BICO was too right wing.

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  • By: Starkadder Thu, 22 Nov 2007 19:18:27

    Hello Mr. Cockshott.
    Perhaps you could tell us a little more
    about COBI sometime? It sounds like a very
    interesting organisation.

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  • By: Starkadder Tue, 04 Dec 2007 22:01:21

    A piece of trivia: today I was in the library, researching about an unrelated topic ( Marion and Dolours Price, the hunger strikers)
    and I came across an interesting letter in
    the Irish Times of August 23 1974.

    The letter, from a “P.Murphy”,attacks
    the B&ICO and Worker’s Association position on the
    UWC strike. P.Murphy claims to be a former member of
    B&ICO, and claims a third of B&ICO/WA members have
    left the organisation in protest.
    Maybe some of these members joined COBI.

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  • By: Brian Mon, 11 Feb 2008 20:40:18

    Interesting…

    I once was researching the Irish playwright Patrick
    Galvin for an English degree, and I found out that a group
    called the “Workers Association
    for the Democratic Settlement for the National Conflict in
    Ireland” picketed Galvin’s play “We Do It for Love”
    in during its London run in 1976.

    Members of the WA handed out leaflets outside the theatre, attacking the play’s hostile depiction of the RUC and British Army, and called for the UK government to
    ban it.

    I later found out the WA was a B&ICO front group.
    Jim Kemmy, Manus O’Riordan and John McGregor were members, and I think the UDA member Dave Fogel might have been associated as well.

    I had no idea the B&ICO’s members were still active,
    or that they had embraced SF and the right-wing of Fianna
    Fail. Talk about going from shoneens to gombeens….

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 11 Feb 2008 21:39:58

    I think BICO members were involved in the Peace Train. Not sure they’re necessarily embraced SF, seems to be more their peculiar interpretation of FF… a very strange crew…

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  • By: Gone Fishing… the Irish Left Archive takes a month off… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 04 Aug 2008 09:42:46

    […] not exactly gone, but going soon. After a hectic year – our first post was this – it’s definitely time for a […]

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  • By: Manage Your Anger With 2 Easy Ways Self Improvement Mon, 18 Jan 2010 02:54:41

    […] The Left Archive: British and Irish Communist Organisation… The … Share and Enjoy: […]

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  • By: Left Archive: Outline policy on Church and State – Democratic Socialist Party, c1981 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 07 Mar 2011 07:13:09

    […] as being strongly anti-Republican. In that respect there was some crossover of activities with both BICO and the Socialist Party of Ireland (1970s). Kemmy was elected to the Dáíl in 1982 where he […]

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  • By: ihphone Fri, 04 Nov 2011 09:04:11

    This could be the best blog online!!!

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Fri, 04 Nov 2011 09:08:17

    You’re only saying that you great big spammer…

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  • By: hotels Fri, 02 Dec 2011 17:38:30

    You’re unquestionably right with this writing!!

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  • By: ka Sun, 15 Jan 2012 08:55:42

    Hi, i want to ask that is there any possibility that you find and make online this:

    Marxism and market socialism.
    (On Stalin’s “Economic Problems” part two)
    Author: British and Irish Communist Organisation.
    cover page: http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.firstwave/bico.jpg

    (sorry for my poor english)

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Sun, 15 Jan 2012 09:11:54

    Great request. Does anyone have a copy they’d loan to me to scan and post up?

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  • By: And while we’re talking about the Left Archive… | The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 26 Aug 2013 11:52:47

    […] been on the go since this , or perhaps […]

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  • By: Lee Enfield Sat, 11 Feb 2017 00:27:26

    B&ICO were involved in the Campaign for Labour Representation ( for the Labour Party to organise and accept members in NI). Whatever their politics their London meetings (some of which I attended in the early 80s) were good fun, one member was a excellent jazz saxophonist, and I am told that their secretary also worked as an exotic dancer.

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