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CroppyBoy

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CroppyBoy last won the day on December 14 2012

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About CroppyBoy

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  1. CroppyBoy

    What are you reading at the moment?

    Finished reading Patrick MacGill’s Children of the Dead End. An excellent account of working class life in the pre WW1 twentieth century. The book is semi autobiographical although MacGill chooses to use the name Dermod Flynn for his main character. Flynn is born into a poor rural Donegal family and the first few chapters recount his life there. The conditions he describes are shocking. A place where children die for want of money to pay a doctor. The money in the house is set aside for the landlord and the local priests ‘tax’ and cannot be spared to pay the doctor. As Dermod grows up he is sent to ‘hiring fares’ in Strabane when he is 12, where farmers essentially purchased a slave for a set amount of time. The descriptions of the work undertaken and the life he led are again shocking and very sad. It is not hard to imagine tens of thousands of children across Ireland experiencing a similar childhood. The next stage of the book describes Dermod’s time with a squad of potato pickers from his home town as they work farms around Scotland. The conditions these poor people endured to send a few pounds home to their families were disgusting and the farmer’s animals seemed to get better living quarters. Much money is squandered on gambling and drink and not all the squad from Donegal make it back to their families. The book then moves on to Dermod’s travels around Scotland with an array of other tramps and navvies. Descriptions of his life on the road and the jobs undertaken form the bulk of the book, particularly his time working on a plant in Kinlochleven. Thousands of men were employed on the Kinlochleven and probably hundreds died, nameless and forgotten. It is around this tiem that MacGill becomes a socialist. His socialism is borne out of the hard experience of his life. He describes walking past a park where socialist speakers would address crowds delivering what MacGill termed ‘…the true Christian Gospel of socialism’. He describes attempting to lead a strike amongst his group of navvies who are working in unimaginable conditions. A thoroughly sad and shocking book. MacGill gives a voice to the Irish experience in Scotland at the time. I had never heard of this book growing up, perhaps because of MacGill’s scathing attitude to the church. The local priest Fr Devaney is described as a tyrannical man, keeping ‘his flock’ in poverty and ignorance. Devaney urges people under the threat of eternal damnation to make sure all their debts to the local landlord and gombeen man are paid. Devaney taxes the local population to build a luxiourous home for himself. A must read book for anyone interested in the Irish experience in Scotland or rural Irish poverty at the time. As the intro to the book says, the book is a true ‘proletarian novel’ in the tradition of Robert Tressel’s ‘Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’.
  2. Sounds good. Hopefully it will be an active group that can co-ordinate action and provide a space for Socialist Republicans from different groups to some together.
  3. I agree with that but there is a tradition of working class education and self improvement that seems to have been completely 'airbrushed' out of history. To say that to want your kids to do well in school is middle class and to have no expectation is working class is completely self defeatist (Im not saying you said that but that is often the general tone of debate when people talk about class and education). Our cultural capital of self improvement, libraries, evening classes etc seems to have been buried. To want to acheive educationally, is now considered a middle class and that is a great defeat for working class people. Education is so important. The last thing the elite want is a educated, well read working class population. The media, quite purposefully, often conflate the working class with drugs, crime, fecklesness etc. The other side of working class life is studiously ignored.
  4. CroppyBoy

    What are you reading at the moment?

    Just started 'Children of the Dead End' by Patrick MacGill. A semi auto-biographical account of Patrick MacGill's life as a labourer in Donegal, Scotland and England before the First World War.. Great read so far, still on the early chapters, he hasnt yet gone over to Scotland. Scathing of the gombeen men who kept people in permanent debt and the church for backing them.
  5. CroppyBoy

    What are you reading at the moment?

    Yes, it goes into detail into some of the atrocities in Kenya. Brutal stuff. Good chapter on the Opium Wars as well. The East India Company were essentially drug dealing to fund their operations in India. Some major names in the financial and other industries today made their fortunes poisoning the Chinese people. A very readable and informative book that I'd recommend. Nearly finished it now.
  6. CroppyBoy

    Comhrá - Chat for absolute beginners

    Ah, Tá brón orm. Tá a ainm James.
  7. CroppyBoy

    Comhrá - Chat for absolute beginners

    Go raibh mile maith agat mo chara. Tá sí go an-mhaith. I cant get the last bit of your post...
  8. CroppyBoy

    What are you reading at the moment?

    Owen Jones wrote it. It is meant to be very good. Its about the (successful) demonisation of the working class in England. From salt of the earth to feckless scroungers. Its on my list to read... http://www.bookmarksbookshop.co.uk/cgi/store/bookmark.cgi?review=new&isbn=9781844676965&cart_id=217737.26555
  9. CroppyBoy

    Comhrá - Chat for absolute beginners

    Mo bhean chéile go raibh buachaill leanbh tseachtain seo caite. Tá áthas orm!
  10. Thought it might be an idea to have a thread for people to discuss the books they are currently reading. Apologies if there is already one and I missed it! Currently reading 'The Blood Never Dried. A Peoples History Of the British Empire' by John Newsinger. Very good read. 15 or so fairly short, very easy to read chapters breaking down the crimes of the British Empire. A chapter on the Irish 'Famine' fairly gets the blood boiling. Excellent chapter on Kenya detailing the barbarity of the treatment dished out by the Brits to the Kikiyu people in particular, torture, castration, mass executions etc. I'd definitely reccomend it. A very good antidote to the Niall Ferguson, Andrew Marr, David Starkey type school of historiograpy which tells us the British Empire was some sort of Benign, benevolant, paternalistic trading enterprise. Some shocking stuff in the book. The author bases the book on the fact that empires are built on such violence and cruelty and that such instances cant be written off as the work of a minority of people. Very good read.
  11. As someone was saying on another thread, the mantra of 'there is no alternative' is useful to governments here. Everyone knows the game is rigged when it comes to elections. Everyone, even as they are listening to a politcians speech, knows that he/she is lying. The politicians know that we know they are lying and continue to lie with impunity. Everyone knows that FF,FG, Lab or the Tories/Lab/Lib Dems are essentially the same lying, cheating, craven opportunists and careerists. The thing is people believe there is no alternative. Again, I wish I knew the answer, but I suppose somehow showing people there is an alternative must be a priority. As must be taking back control of unions from careerists (easier said than done, I know). Even if they are not revolutionary organisations, in my opinion, a radical fighting union is the best format (for want of a better word) we currently have for educating poeple, and giving working class people an experience of unity and involvement in something, besides ticking a box for a politicain every few years.
  12. CroppyBoy

    Comhrá - Chat for absolute beginners

    Bhí sé ag cur sneachta í Londain inné agus Dé Domhnaigh.
  13. Good points. My own experience, working in what would be considered a 'unionised' workplace, is that even though we are all part of one union and do support each other, the prevailing attitude is "Thank f*** we have a job". Recently a new shift pattern was imposed upon us. It was discussed and voted in by union members but it was not popular and was clearly a worse shift pattern in terms of weekend and night working than what we had before. It was voted in by a clear majority as most people were grateful to be in a job and were frightened that a 'no' vote would lead to a dispute which, at the moment, no one thinks we would be able to win. Even as recently as 4-5 years ago, the new shift pattern would have been rejected out of hand and we would have been confident in any dispute with managment. I think you're (Nico and Lugh) right with your points above, our worsening condiions do raise consciousness, but our position at the moment is weak. Most people are unorganised, the Unions (especially in Ireland) are mainly indistinguishable from the politicians and generally considered to have their snouts in the trough. I think the key to any working class fight back is work place millitancy. It educates workers, it gives us experiance in working together and raises consciousness in who and what we are fighting against. Its not the immigrant, the single mother or whoever. Without organisation, as Nico said, many people turn to the right and are easily led by right wing rags like The Sun and The Mail. It makes the elites job so much easier. Without workplace organisation, in my opinion, theres little chance of working class people uniting, bombarded as we are by right wing media.
  14. Not sure about that to be honest. I think as people suffer further deterioration of their material conditions it does increase desperation but also fear. Fear of losing a job, or rocking the boat in any way will stop many people speaking out or taking action. Most people will want to just keep the head down and hope they will be ok. I dont think worsening material conditions alone will raise consciousness. I wish I knew what the answer was but I think it will have to involve a broad movement of socialist organisations and parties working hard to organise people out of work, in temporary or agnecy work and those 'underemployed'.
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