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Workers' Hammer 

PO Box 1041, London, England, NW5 3EU. Sample Copy £0.70 (inc postage)

Our review copy was issue 171 (Winter 1999-2000). It's the newspaper of the Spartacist League, a group I didn't know too much about it - and to be quite honest after reading this I was still none the wiser! I glanced through its pages to gain some first impressions. I shouldn't have bothered. What are these folk on - and, more importantly, where do you get hold of it? For a tabloid-sized street paper Workers Hammer is absolutely dire. Single articles are several thousand words long and can run over two or more pages. Most sentences are Politically Correct and very long-winded. It also employs a unique form of tortured English. This is a typical example: "We call for an integrated workers’ militia to defend both Catholics and Protestants against sectarian attacks. Such a militia, incorporating both Catholic and Protestant workers, must combat sectarian terror, from Loyalist forces as well as Irish nationalists, and must be led by cadres of the revolutionary vanguard party". Phew!

Despite this, however, there is some interesting - but confusing - stuff. But - be warned - you really have to dig for it! Take this sweeping statement for instance. "As Leninists we uphold the right of self-determination for all nations, which means the right to set up an independent state, but where peoples are geographically interpenetrated "self-determination" for one can only be achieved at the expense of the other. Under capitalism this leads to intercommunal slaughter. We oppose any call for an "independent Ulster" which means supporting the Orange statelet". What they're saying is that self-determination is okay for every other nation in the world - except Ulster! They believe that because we are "geographically interpenetrated" an independent Ulster will discriminate against Catholics. Where's their evidence? Indeed, why would such a nation seek to discriminate against a section of its population? Surely independence means a coming together of all our people? And what exactly do they mean about an independent Ulster "supporting the Orange statelet"? Those of us who support self-determination talk of establishing 'a truly democratic, non-sectarian, Ulster'. Workers' Hammer obviously hasn't bothered to examine any independence literature - and their ignorance shows.

It also lacks any knowledge of the Orange Order. They claim that "the Orange Order was founded at the end of the 18th century as a battering ram against any unity between Protestants and Catholics". This is Politically Correct nonsense. Far from being a "battering ram" against Catholics, the Orange originated in September 1795, after the Battle of the Diamond in Loughgall, Co. Armagh. This was when Protestant residents successfully beat off an attack by a Catholic secret society called the Defenders. Thus the Orange was an early Protestant defence association - organised to resist Catholic attacks. That's not a sectarian statement – it is simply an historical fact. Like most leftists, Workers’ Hammer believes Prods are the cause of every problem.

Workers’ Hammer is full of such sweeping condemnations. Any opponent is automatically branded a "fascists" or - my favourite - a "running dog of capitalism". Interestingly, they save much of their venom for the "fake left", which includes the Labour Party, the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party (formerly Militant). This makes highly entertaining reading. The SWP are "shameless touts for imperialism and the "peace" fraud", whilst the Socialist Party "are wretched pro-imperialist Labourites". I agree with much of their analysis of 'New' Labour. There’s not much to distinguish Tony Blair from Maggie Thatcher. However, I get the impression that Workers Hammer is somehow jealous of the SWP. I'm no red, but I admire the SWP's dedication. They have weekly meetings, a weekly paper (Socialist Worker) and can fill the streets with thousands of demonstrators. I look forward to the day when Ulster-nationalists can do this. I'm not too sure why Workers’ Hammer doesn't like the Socialist Party. I haven't seen any recent SP propaganda, but when they were known as Militant they concentrated on real working class issues such as jobs and housing. Along with the National Front, Militant was about the only organisation able to connect with the working class - because they were both working class in character. On second thoughts, maybe that's what Workers’ Hammer's gripe is!

John Jenkins


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