Thursday 14 February 2008


Here are two articles by James Connolly which contribute to the debate on the cultural revolution, the attitude of socialists to the language movement and the attitude of language enthusiasts to socialism.

The first is The Language Movement (1898):
You cannot teach starving men Gaelic; and the treasury of our national literature will and must remain lost forever to the poor wage-slaves who are contented by our system of society to toil from early morning to late at night for a mere starvation wage.

Therefore, I say to our friends of the Gaelic movement - your proper place is in the ranks of the Socialist Republican Party, fighting for the abolition of this accursed social system which grinds us down in such a manner; which debases the character and lowers the ideals of our people to such a fearful degree, that to the majority of our workers the most priceless manuscript of ancient Celtic lore would hold but a secondary place in their esteem beside a rasher of bacon.

The second is Sinn Féin and Socialism (1908):
Even on the question of the Irish language, Gaelic, a question on which most Socialists are prone to stumble, I am heartily in accord. I do believe in the necessity, and indeed in the inevitability, of a universal language, but I do not believe it will be brought about, or even hastened, by smaller races or nations consenting to the extinction of their language. Such a course of action, or rather of slavish inaction, would not hasten the day of a universal language, but would rather lead to the intensification of the struggle for mastery between the languages of the greater powers.

On the other hand a large number of small communities speaking different tongues, are more likely to agree upon a common language as a common means of communication than a small number of great empires, each jealous of its own power and seeking its own supremacy.

I have heard some doctrinaire Socialists arguing that Socialists should not sympathize with oppressed nationalities, or with nationalities resisting conquest. They argue that the sooner these nationalities are suppressed the better, as it will be easier to conquer political power in a few big empires than in a number of small states. This is the language argument over again.

The Cultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution
The Irish language movement in the Six Counties has continued to grow despite attacks on it and reaction against attempts to gain it equal status by various Stormont regimes and British governments. The movement in the Twenty-Six Counties has experienced a revival of late despite apathy from the Dublin government and hostility from sections of the media.

What is the relationship between the Irish language and progressive politics today? Is it a means by which a national population can exert its autonomy against a homogenising neo-liberal system? Can it act as a bulwark for diversity against an ever-encroaching Anglo-US cultural imperialism? Moreover, what role has the Irish language community to play in the struggle for a better Ireland and the regaining of our national independence and unity? Can the language truly progress as long as capitalism remains the predominant ideology in our society?

Join the debate on the future of our national tongue on Thursday 21st February at 7.00pm in the Roddy McCorley Club.

Saturday 24 November 2007

‘No Volverán’ film showing

‘No Volverán’: Film Screening in Solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution

From the makers of the Hands Off Venezuela film ‘Solidarity', and the Sanitarios Maracay short film series, comes ‘No Volverán – The Venezuelan Revolution Now’, an exciting feature length documentary about the Venezuelan Revolution.

In this in-depth investigation the film makers take us on a journey through the fervour of the Presidential Elections in December 2006, travelling deep into the shanty towns (barrios), and to several factories under workers’ control, to find out why there is a movement to over-throw Capitalism, what Socialism of the 21st Century is, and how it is changing people’s lives.

The filmmaker, Melanie MacDonald, will be attending the screening. Afterwards, there will be questions and answers. Contributions from the floor will be welcome.

Monday, 26th November 2007
Connolly Books New Theatre (Essex St, Temple Bar, Dublin)

Tuesday, 27th November 2007
Felons’ Club (537 Falls Road, Belfast)

All Welcome

Sunday 14 October 2007


Here is an article by Stuart Munckton of the Australian paper the Green-Left Weekly, Hugo Chavez: social democrat or revolutionary?:
The line of march for the Bolivarian revolution pushed by Chavez, who elaborates on revolutionary strategy in many speeches, especially on his weekly television program Alo Presidente (when not singing folk songs), is not for the process of change to stop with reforms to Venezuela’s existing power structures. He has used reforms to weaken the political and economic power of Venezuela’s capitalist class, while at the same time strengthening the confidence and organisation of the oppressed (the workers, urban poor, campesinos, women and indigenous people) in order to replace the structures of the old society with new ones based on the oppressed themselves.

Saturday 13 October 2007


The five "engines" for Socialism: meetings in support of the Venezuelan Revolution in Ireland

P. Bowman (Dublin)

Hands off Venezuela, in co-operation with the Venezuela Support Group and the James Connolly Debating society in Belfast, organised two meetings in support of the Venezuelan Revolution in Dublin (8th October) and Belfast (10th October). The idea was also to continue with the campaign Hands off Venezuela – Ireland, already constituted after a first round of meetings held last April in two Irish Universities.

More than 35 people attended the meeting in Dublin (including activists from SIPTU and other unions, from the Connolly Youth Movement, éirígí, the Labour Youth, the CPI and others). The meeting in Belfast was hosted by the James Connolly Debating Society and had an enthusiastic audience of about 60 people from many different backgrounds.

The meetings intended to explain "the five engines for socialism"; the programme that the Venezuelan government will try to implement in the next future. 63 per cent of the population of Venezuela voted for that programme in the election held last December.

Carlos Fiorillo, member of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and Hands off Venezuela – Ireland, presented for the first time in English translation some sections of three speeches about the "5 engines" that President Hugo Chavez made between the 8 th and the 17th of January 2007. Carlos said:

"The 5 Engines is the name of the procedure that is taking place in Venezuela in order to make the transition from a capitalist state to a new socialist state on behalf of the Venezuelan people, and to nationalize the resources for the well-being of the whole country; as president Chavez promised when he won the last presidential elections on December 2006."

The first engine, Carlos went on, is the enabling law. With that law the Venezuelan government will be able to nationalize all that was privatized; the second engine is a constitutional change to allow the people of Venezuela to go towards socialism. President Hugo Chavez, according to Carlos, said that, "Venezuelans [in the election last December] voted for socialism … [Socialism] is what people want … [Socialism] is what the country needs… Venezuela is free, we are not colony of anybody."

The third engine is national education on socialist values and solidarity, and access to education for all at all levels: "study is the debate of ideas in a permanent way." The fourth engine is a new "geometry" of power, based on popular power, in order to eliminate the differences between classes and the obscene privileges of the bureaucrats and the ruling class. The fifth engine, Carlos concluded, was the "explosion" of popular, revolutionary, socialist and democratic power through the creation of communal councils and federations of communal councils.

Jorge Martin, international secretary of Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, analysed the current situation in Venezuela. The political process unfolding in Venezuela, he said, has a socialist character and is fully democratic. It is not the first time that Hugo Chavez wins an election, but this time he got 63 per cent of the votes, he said.

The problem, Jorge argued, is that the imperialist powers don't agree with the nationalisation of the basic means of production in order to satisfied the needs of the people of Venezuela; it goes against their profits. This is so even when any nationalisation and expropriation has been carried out according to law and with payment of compensation.

So, Jorge continued, the imperialists will try anything they can to get rid of Chavez and put back into power the old corrupt oligarchy. They already tried with the US-backed military coup and the bosses lock out in 2002. This shows the hypocrisy of the US and European governments when they accuse Chavez of being undemocratic.

In the meeting in Belfast some people in the audience asked what people could do in Ireland to support the people of Venezuela and to stop the imperialist intervention. In Dublin, some also expressed the need to actively support the Bolivarian movement. Jorge Martin made clear, first, that the broadest possible movement in solidarity with Venezuela should be organised in Ireland. He made an appeal to all those who agree with three basic principles, full support for the Bolivarian revolution, against imperialist intervention and counteracting the lies of the media, should join Hands Off Venezuela.

The first thing to do, he said, was to tell the youth and the workers in our communities what is really happening in Venezuela. That is the only way to counteract the lies spread in the mass media, owned by a few large corporations, about the Venezuelan government.

This could be done by organising talks and projecting documentaries in colleges and in meetings with trade unionists, by passing resolutions in trade union congresses, by getting youth organisations and trade unions to link up with our solidarity groups, etc. He underlined several times the importance of getting the support of the working class in our communities through their trade unions.

Jorge Martin suggested raising funds and getting trade unions to sponsor delegations trips of Irish workers and students to Venezuela in order to witness what is really happening in Venezuela, and reporting back in their communities, trade unions, and study places.

We would like to thank all those who made these meeting possible.

Contact Hands Off Venezuela Ireland ( or visit our yahoo group (

Thursday 11 October 2007

No Volverán

No Volverán cover
No Volverán is a 90-minute documentary made by members of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign when they visited Venezuela in December 2006. While there they witnessed Hugo Chavez's landslide election victory and they also spent time at Sanitarios Maracay, a factory under co-operative workers' control.

The documentary can be watched by going to this page on the HOV website. Alternatively the DVD can also be purchased from Hands Off Venezuela directly.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Articles on Venezuela

The following are two articles on the current situation in Venezuela.

The first is Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution by Mark Langhammer of the Labour Party:
From literacy projects to self employment preparation, from neighbourhood soup kitchens, to the Co-Op food Mercals, the Bolivarian Revolution has activated a layer of the poorest in Venezuelan society. The result has been a popular, empowering and humane vision - with a highly politicized, involved and active and increasingly organized civic society.

The second is Venezuela: A Good Example of the Bad Left of Latin America by Michael A. Lebowitz, who currently lives in Venezuela:
The Bolivarian Revolution has driven beyond the barriers constantly placed before it (and has itself developed qualitatively in the process) precisely because of its dialectic between leadership and the movement of masses. That is why the development of the collective worker through the explosion of communal power, the ideological campaign of Moral y Luces, and the mobilization of a new party from below are essential for the next steps.

Here is a also a link to videos of a speech given by Liebowitz on the ongoing Bolivarian Revolution: Building It Now in Venezuela: Socialism for the 21st Century