Paul Cockshott, Bill Warren and anti-Irish nationalism

Louis Proyect wrote: I have never read Paul Cockshott on imperialism. If his hatred for Irish nationalism is any indication of what he has to say on broader questions of "the periphery," then I'm not very hopeful.

It is interesting actually that Cockshott and Warren's revision - or, even, outright rejection - of Lenin on imperialism was first motivated by their attitude on the Irish question.

Warren and Cockshott were members of a strange little group in Ireland which was originally called the Irish Communist Organisation. In the mid-1960s the ICO actually did some useful work. They were briefly quite into James Connolly and helped reproduce some of his work and develop it. They also republished a very good essay written by Connolly's youngest child, Roddy, in 1922 on the situation in Ireland. (Roddy Connolly was a founder of the original Irish CP and attended early congresses of the Third International. The CP was involved in the struggle for independence and fought on the republican side during the civil war of 1922-23.)

When republican resistance to British imperialism in the here and now began however, around 1969-1970, the ICO shifted dramatically to the right. In the early 1970s they even changed their name to the BRITISH and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO) and began discovering progressive qualities in imperialism. This was to legitimise their reactionary politics in Ireland, where they increasingly saw British rule as a progressive force and Irish resistance as reactionary. Warren came up with the cock and bull theory that imperialism was the precursor of capitalism, rather than its last epoch, the epoch of decay and transition.

There is a quite scathing review of Warren's book in an old issue of the British RCP's original theoretical journal, 'Revolutionary Communist Papers'. I think the review was written by Tony Allen, one of the RCP's key economics experts at the time.

The BICO's subsequent trajectory was to kind of go underground and work in universities and various anti-republican front groups promoting 'two nations' theory - ie the view that there is not one nation in Ireland (the Irish nation historically formed through the fusion and integration of different waves of people arriving in Ireland at different times and brought into nationhood by the advent of capitalism) but two (a Protestant/British nation and a Catholic/Irish nation). Thus, for BICO, Irish self-determination was seen as cutting across the right of the Protestant/British nation in Ireland. BICO's politics, of course, were overwhelmingly directed against the national liberation movement and they soon came out with a fulolscale rejection of Marx and Engels work on Ireland, as well as Lenin's. One of these ratbags, Austen Morgan, also wrote an extraordinarily dishonest 'political biography' of James Connolly, published by some British university press, which was so crude that it even contained fictitious quotations of Len