Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – New World After the CoronaVirus War

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Guest Post : John Meehan calls for an international revolutionary tendency!

Once, in the mid-1980’s while attending an extremely serious international political congress, I briefly attracted the attention of a Latin American comrade so Deep in Thought about the world revolution, he wasn’t saying hello to bit players like me.

A deluded speaker had seriously suggested that Lenin’s 1915 formula – “turn the imperialist war into a civil war” – could be adapted to the prospect of an imminent 20th Century Nuclear War. Workers’ and Capitalists’ bombs would reduce the globe to smithereens. Out of the Doomsday Ashes, human survivors would create the Communist Garden of Eden, a new Valhalla :

Valhalla, Old Norse Valhöll, in Norse mythology, the hall of slain warriors, who live there blissfully under the leadership of the god Odin. Valhalla is depicted as a splendid palace, roofed with shields, where the warriors feast on the flesh of a boar slaughtered daily and made whole again each evening. They drink liquor that flows from the udders of a goat, and their sport is to fight one another every day.

Thus they will live until the Ragnarök(Doomsday), when they will march out the 540 doors of the palace to fight at the side of Odin against the giants. When heroes fall in battle it is said that Odin needs them to strengthen his forces for the Ragnarök.

A mischievous comrade – promoting the despised “pacifist” and “reformist” policy of abolishing all nuclear weapons – advised us that success for the Valhalla Doomsday Policy would leave our planet inhabited only by termites – the only living creatures capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust. Civil War For Termites Comrades?

The Latin American Comrade Deep in Thought noticed I was strolling around deeply amused, so I made a serious proposal to him – we needed a tendency promoting a sense of humour. Quick as a flash the Latin American Comrade gestured towards rows and rows of serious comrades, advising : “that will be a very small tendency”!

Founding Documents of the Tendency! Possibly Permitted Inside the Fourth International; Definitely Banned Inside International and Domestic Rivals.

The power of this satirical finale lies in the song’s historical roots…

In its original context, it referred to British soldiers heading off to fight the Nazis, engaging in traditional warfare, and expecting their homes to be intact when they returned. The world might get a little shaken up— hence “Don’t know where, don’t know when…”—but the song presumes that there will be another sunny day. It makes the ending feel like a going-away party instead of the end of the world, and highlights the disconnect nuclear war and the rest of military history.

Dr. Strangelove‘s characters, from the quaintly British Lionel Mandrake to the jingoistic Turgidson, are mentally stuck in the past, with their belief that the war can be won through superior strategy, firepower, and gung ho spirit. Even though they’re major players in the fate of the free world, they don’t fully grasp the ramifications of Mutually Assured Destruction. They’ve orchestrated the apocalypse without understanding it. They’re like the elderly couple in the depressing animated film When the Wind Blows (1986), viewing the Cold War as a reprise of World War II rather than as a whole new animal, and one that might end life as we know it.

Serious Revolutionary Marxism
Great Proletarian Leader Clueless

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