Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Donald Trump’s Anti-China “Cold War” – Capitalist China’s Hot War against Muslim Uighurs and the people of Hong Kong – Trump’s Hot War against the “Black Lives Matter” Movement

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A lot of tit-for-tat politicking is on the international political agenda. Shooting the messenger is a big temptation. Donald Trump is a hypocrite because he condemns China’s terrible human rights assaults on the Muslim Uighurs – while organising military tear-gassing assaults on “Black Lives Matter” street protests in his own country, the USA.

A correspondent notes the big problem with “shoot the messenger” politics (promoted by :

Oppose all imperialist wars, hot or cold, but I think we can be safe in assuming that nothing will be said at this in solidarity with the Uighurs or independence movement in Hong Kong, unless they are denounced as agents of imperialism that is.

Do not mention the Muslim Uighurs in China, or Police Brutality on the streets of Hong Kong

What is a good collective noun to describe this sort of 21st Century politics? Pierre Rousset offers “Campism” and presents a clear example :

“campism” remains present in this field, like a Pavlovian reflex: satisfied for example to condemn imperialist intervention in Iraq and Syria (which it is certainly necessary to do), but without saying what Islamic State represents or calling to resist it.

“Stalinism”is out of date – the decrepit megalomaniac dictator of the Soviet Union, Stalin, died in 1953. Stalin’s leftwing fan club loyally defended every anti-worker crime performed by the Moscow Régime – “Socialism in One Country” in action.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, and no serious person on the revolutionary left bickers today about the class character of Putin’s Russia and Xe Jinping’s China – both are capitalist world powers. The fan club listed in the attached notice is of interest to trainspotters since it includes ex-Trotskyist renegades – a name which jumps out is the British China-based academic John Ross.

Let’s work on a positive alternative. We can take inspiration in Ireland from Easter 1916 Rising Rebel Roger Casement’s exemplary 19th and early 20th century campaign against Belgian imperialist brutality in the Congo. Similarly, the 21st century radical left needs to make principled alliances in support of the oppressed Uighur Muslims and the mass pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, oppressed by capitalist China.

Roger Casement’s lesson “when the status quo is injustice, the right thing to be is a rebel.”

Roger Casement conducted a vigorous campaign against Belgian imperialism, serving the short-term interests of the rival British Empire. Casement was rewarded with a Buckingham Palace knighthood. But, a huge BUT, he drew conclusions which persuaded him to conduct armed rebellion in his native Ireland against an imperialist power far worse than the Belgian version. Belgian imperialists did not massacre generations of Irish people. Casement and his comrades (including the revolutionary Marxist James Connolly) brutally counter-attacked British Imperialism on Easter Monday 1916 in Dublin’s GPO.

Here is the Easter 1916 Irish rebel Roger Casement in context :

We thank Fergus O’ Hare who drew the attention of many people to this link :

“Casement’s years investigating human rights abuses in Africa and South America let him to a become a committed anti-imperialist. Consequently, following his retirement from the (British) Foreign Service, he became heavily involved in the growing efforts towards independence of his native Ireland. As he said himself, while others of his contemporaries and political opponents took paths “which they felt would lead to the Woolsack… I went a road that I knew must lead to the dock.”

Following his conviction Casement made a celebrated speech from the dock in which he reflected, “whe[n] men must beg with bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sing their own songs, to garner the fruit of their own labours … then surely it is a braver, a saner, and a truer thing to be a rebel in act and deed against such circumstances as this than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men.”

His speech was a considerable influence on the young Jawaharlal Nehru, the future Prime Minister of India, and many other anti-imperialists of the early twentieth century.

While the urgency of the anti-imperial struggle may have diminished Casement’s human rights work, it resonates still. In spite of the efforts of Casement and many like him millions of people are still enslaved across the world, just as they were in Casement’s day. Many of them are subject still to the same sorts of brutal violence Casement exposed in Africa and South America. Even in Nehru’s India, the world’s largest democracy, the severing of the hands of Dalits is still a sanction used to compel forced labour.

So, at the centenary of Casement’s death the lesson of his life remains a vital one: when the status quo is injustice, the right thing to be is a rebel.”

Casementism might be the best 21st Century alternative to Campism.

A statue of Irish nationalist Roger Casement is to be raised in Dun Laoghaire later this year. The memorial, which will cost €120,000 to complete, marks a homecoming for Casement, who was born in nearby Sandycove in 1864.

The project, part of a €10m development of the Victorian baths in the town, is the first time Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council has commissioned a statue. The sculpture measures three metres in height and will be visible from many directions, according to Bob Hannan, a council architect. A plinth has now been placed at the site’s pier to carry the figure.

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