Griffith Lecturer Dr Robbie Smyth Releases Book On Socialism And Republicanism

Head of Journalism and Media Communications faculty, Dr Robbie Smyth has launched his first book, The Invisible Republic.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

 

Griffith College's Head of Journalism and Media Communcations, Dr Robbie Smyth has released his first book, which looks at economic principles of Irish republicanism. 

Speaking about the idea behind ‘The Invisible Republic: The Economics of Socialism and Republicanism in the 21st Century’ Robbie said: “I worked as a journalist in a republican paper called An Phoblacht for years, I’m the editor of it now. I wrote business articles and economic articles but people would sometimes say to me ‘well, what is socialism?’ and that was when I went, ‘how would I answer that question?’ and the book came out of that."

He added that the book looks at how to explain republicans and non-republicans in a simple way, and the ideology behind it, and that while it is a philosophy book, it was important to him that it was accessible.

 

“If you’re to look at the book, I tell it all in the first three pages! At the end of the first three pages, I have these nine principles and that’s what the book is about, each chapter covers a principle.  

I think anyone could read it, to be honest, if you could read a history book you could read this. I say in the introduction, it could be read like it’s written, in 20 minute bursts. You can pick anywhere in the book, and there are subheadings, so you could pick one and spend 20 minutes on it and say ‘okay I agree,’ or ‘I don’t agree’ or even just ‘that’s interesting.’" 

Robbie added that he drew from two very different books when it came to the layout of The Invisible Republic. 

“I had read two books, one was by this philosopher called Wittgenstein, and he wrote a very simple small book about his philosophy, and I did borrow one idea, of 9 points. But also I read Kurt Cobain's journal which was published maybe 20 years ago, and it was just him, for 20 minutes, vibing about something. I kind of thought that made sense, if I could write something in that way, because there is no point writing something that people wouldn’t read."

Robbie also pointed out that there is an emergence of interest from younger people in socialism, though they may refer to it as a different name. “It’s one of the things I say in the book, socialism sometimes from the Doris disease, meaning you don’t meet anyone called Doris anymore! So people maybe don’t use that word anymore, and instead they talk about civil rights, human rights or equality, there is a huge focus on rights, and to me, that’s the republican way of thinking, you know, that there is a group disadvantaged, or person disadvantaged. Young people are very conscious of their rights."

With a wealth of experience in political communications, journalism and two decades working in Griffith College, it may seem surprising that this is Robbie’s first book. 

“It was one of these things, I did a PhD, I started that in 2008 and finished in 2014, and I was thinking about the book but I had to concentrate on the PhD. But as soon as I finished, I thought I could turn the PhD into a book or I could finish the book I really wanted to write. So, I went back to that, I finished the book around 2017 and I was looking for a publisher, I couldn’t get publishers in Ireland, a lot of people wanted me to write a memoir about my experiences because I would have been involved in Sinn Fein during the conflict and the peace process. I was general secretary of Sinn Fein, and I didn’t want to do that because I’m not that old... I’m old but not that old!” 

So while that book might not be next up, Robbie admits that after finishing The Invisible Republic, he is keen to write another, explaining: “As soon as I finished I thought, okay I need to keep going.” 

The Invisible Republic: The Economics of Socialism and Republicanism in the 21st Century is available now.