Marx at Warwick

A UNIQUE conference was held at Warwick University early in July. It was jointly sponsored by Ink Links, a new Marxist publishing firm in Britain, and by the Lipman Trust, a socialist education fund : associated with the annual Socialist Register Review.

The conference brought together 20 to 25 Irish Marxists, socialists, economists and historians to read and discuss papers on the origins of the present crisis in Ireland and on recent developments in Irish society. Most of the parrticipants have written or are writing books on Ireland.

The Warwick conference was unusual and significant in a number of ways. The tradiition of Marxist scholarship and analysis in Ireland has been so weak that a seminar solely devoted to a Marxist analysis of events in Ireland is something of a breakkthrough in itself. Secondly the speakers covered a uniquuely broad spectrum ranging from members of the Peoples Democracy and the Moveement for a Socialist Republic with their strong committment to the 'anti-imperialist' struggle on Jhe one hand to a group of althusserian Marxists on the other hand who argue that there is no basis for an anti-imperialist struggle in Ireeland today. Also participating were members of the Ripenning of Time collective, the Socialist Labour Party and the British International Marxist Group and Communnist Party, as well as a number of non-party Marxist academmics.

Thirdly, without arriving at any utopian ideas of Left unity, the conference aimed at beginning a serious disscussion of the research and analysis now being developed by Marxists in Ireland.

Topics covered included the development of the Southern economy and socciety since the war, the estabblishment of the Northern state and the role of Governnment agencies there in the recent past, the impact of immperialism on Ireland and the Marxist theories of imperiallism and national selftion and the role of women in Republican politics in the 1920s and '30s.

Speakers included James Wickham of the Dept. of Sociology, TCD, Jim Smyth and Liam O'Dowd of the Dept. of Social Work, QUB, Paul Bew and Henry Patterrson of the Dept. of Politics in the Northern Ireland Polyytech, Michael Farrell, Rayner Lysaght and Geoff Bell, authors of "Northern Ireland:

The Orange State", "The Republic of Ireland" and "The Protestants of Ulster", respectively.

The participants judged the conference successful. It was tentatively agreed to summon a similar gathering in about six months time to deal with a number of crucial gaps in the first programme such as politics and economics in the North between the 1920s and 1960s and the signifiicance and effect of the poliitical and economic developpments of the last 10 years.

It marks perhaps the beeginnings of the Irish Left's attempts to lay the firm theoretical and analytical foundations which are the necessary pre-conditions for a successful revolutionary straategy for the whole island.

So that the impact of the Warwick Conference is not confined to the participants, Ink Links is hoping to pubblish most of the papers read there in an edited volume and with an introduction by the two organisers of the connference, Bob Purdie, a former organiser of the Antiment League in Britain, and Austen Morgan, who is engaaged in research on Connolly and the Second International.