The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Reviews of 'Century'


Roy Johnston • January 24, 2007

May I thank The Blanket for giving my book two reviews which I hope will make known what I have tried to do among some of the younger generation of republican and left-wing activists. I have reproduced them in the introduction to my web-site overview of the book, which can be seen at with, in the case of the second review, a substantive added comment, relating to the accessability to the hypertext support system. What I said I repeat in this context, because it may lead to some misunderstanding:

(quoting OR) ....But when checking the online material "available in full in the hypertext", the reader will be frustrated to find out that the hyperlinks do not work....

They do [work], provided the reader contacts the author and gets the exact URL for the current location of the hypertext. This requirement is made clear on p1 of the Introduction, and the e-mail address is given. What is more, I (probably) made arrangements with the Editor of The Blanket to transmit the URL to the reviewers. It is a pity that this arrangement, if it existed, seems to have broken down.

I feel I should add some more comments on the O Ruairc review. Firstly, in the lead-in to the above, "..sources only available on the internet..": this is a misunderstanding; the reference to the hypertext is a bridge to other sources; what is in the hypertext is usually my abstraction, for the purpose of the book, of other named available sources, to which I indicate channels of access. The hypertext, incidentally, is still under development; the internet version should be seen as as 'work in progress'; in its final form it may end up as a CD-ROM.

I will have more to say about O Ruairc, but may I first thank Seaghan O Murchu whose extended review in the January 2 issue is a creditable analysis, in some detail, worthy perhaps of publication as a 'review paper' in some outlet where the academic Irish Studies people might see it (is The Blanket perhaps on the way to becoming this?). I have added three minor corrections of detail in the version which I have published in support of my web-site overview, at the URL given above. Also there are several conferences on the Irish Studies network during the coming year, where this would constitute a significant contribution, and if anything gets set up along these lines, I would be pleased to 'speak to the paper' and contribute to the discussion.

May I now return to the O Ruairc review; he is right in thinking that Ch 7 and some of Ch 8 are the primary sources for understanding the background of the 1960s attempt to politicise the republican movement. I can perhaps add that for people interested in the evolution of the thinking of the Left in the context of the Stalin to post-Stalin transition, from Ch 5 onward to the end is relevant.

Also, the earlier part of the book, dealing with my father, is relevant to anyone seeking to promote an inclusive philosophy for the Irish Republic, such as to present a positive opportunity to the Protestant community in the current transitional context. After all, after defining his political position in favour of all-Ireland Home Rule with his 1913 'Civil War in Ulster' polemic (re-published by UCD Press in 1999), he made his career in the Free State, and it could be said that he had substantially more impact and relevance than, say, Bulmer Hobson.

He takes me to task for being uncritical of Greaves' life of Connolly, suggesting the latter as being a 'Leninist Trojan horse'. Well, if this is in fact the Greaves position, I think on the whole I am critical by implication, and at several points in my interaction with Greaves this emerges, but I did not regard the object of the book as being primarily a critique of Greaves. One can chase too many hares; perhaps I already have.

He picks up positively on my 'science and society' angle, and interest in Bernal, linking however the name of the latter with Farrington. Where did he pick this up? Which Farrington? Tony, the geologist and Royal Irish Academy Secretary, or his classical scholar brother Ben whose 'Greek Science' is a minor Marxist classic? Both may have had mentions in passing, but were hardly central to the narrative.

He makes an issue of the infamous 'rosary' episode: I had written a letter to the United Irishman suggesting that graveside orations on political occasions should be political rather than religious events, a view which I still hold, and which is rooted in the culture of the European Left. I did not have ready access to a copy; if I had I would have published it, with some background explanation. If the reviewer is supportive of the practice of treating political graveside orations as religious sectarian events, with decades of the rosary etc, then I suggest he needs to think through the implications for his vision of the Republic, which after all is a secular Enlightenment concept, supported at its origins by many Protestants.

Finally, while I welcome his recognition of my distance from the Stalinist tradition, I would take issue of his use of the ambiguous 'liberal' label, for both my father and myself. Both he and I believed in attempting to establish, one way or another, some democratic control over the capital investment process, in some structure perhaps to be developed via the co-operative movement. During the civil war my father was giving evening classes in economics to Dublin trade unionists, in meetings chaired by Labour leader Tom Johnson. He was promoting the writings of Connolly via his French contacts in the Albert Kahn Foundation. He attempted to promote the co-operative movement during the 20s and 30s, despite its being partioned, and despite the erosion of its original principles, ceasing only after the failure of his 1950 'Irish Agriculture in Transition' to have any real impact, despite some critical acclaim.

Both he and I share(d) the conviction that the democratic control of the capital investment process is not done by the current predatory capitalist rules of the game, nor has it been done in situations where it was taken over by a centralist State bureaucracy. The resolution of this problem remains the central task of the politics of the Left. I hint at possible approaches to the solution in my final chapter (eg p413), and I look forward to opportunities for supporting these, should they be taken up politically. I think they can claim to be in a tradition which includes Robert Owen, William Thompson, Karl Marx and James Connolly. If this is 'liberal' then, at least in my own case, the word needs to be as an adjective qualifying 'socialist'.































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

28 January 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Done & Dusted
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Once Again, The Big Transition
Dolours Price

Plastic Bullet
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Provos Embrace Total Collaboration with British Rule
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

British Policing is Not an Alternative
Francis Mackey

$F Hats
Brian Mór

Policing Problems
Tommy McKearney

SF Seeks to Curtail NI Policing
David Adams

Digging Up the Truth
John Kennedy

State Terrorism Par Excellence
Anthony McIntyre

Collusion: Dirty War Crime
Mick Hall

Repeating the Pattern of the Top Brass
Eamonn McCann

Collusion revelations: disturbing but not shocking
Brendan O'Neill

England's Legacy to Ireland: State Sponsored Terrorism
Richard Wallace

Application for Service in HMPRUC
Brian Mór

The Revolution is the People
Michéal MháDonnáin

Rates and PFI Payments
Ray McAreavey

Reviews of 'Century'
Roy Johnston

A Peacemaker at the Start and the Finish
David Adams

22 January 2007

Only A Fool
Anthony McIntyre

Wake Up & Smell the Coffee
John Kennedy

Killing the Messenger
Martin Galvin

Turning Tide
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Derry Debate
Anthony McIntyre

The Issues That Need Debated
Francis Mackey

The Rule of Whose Law?
Mick Hall

GFA Gestapo
Brian Mór

When in a Hole...
Mick Hall

Don't Be Afraid, Do Not Be Fooled
Dolours Price

Provie Peelers
Brian Mór

No Other Law
32 County Sovereignty Movement

Whither Late Sinn Fein?
Michael Gillespie

The Final Step
John Cronin

Moral Duty
Dr John Coulter

Repatriated Prisoner's Thanks
Aiden Hulme

McDowell Blocks 'Last' Repatriation
Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh

Óglaigh na hÉireann New Years Message 2007
Óglaigh na hÉireann

A "Must Read" For Those With a Serious Interest
Liam O Ruairc

George Faludy’s Happy Days in Hell
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Reflections on the Late David Ervine
Dr John Coulter

In Memoriam David Ervine
Marcel M. Baumann

Michael Ferguson
Anthony McIntyre

"Bloody Sunday" Commemoration Event
George Cuddy

Just Books Belfast Relaunch & Fundraiser
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