Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

News Report : “Greek Railway Workers Refuse to Transport NATO Tanks Towards Ukraine” – the Russian Ethnic Cleanser President Vladimir Putin is Delighted

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Many anti-war comrades have under-estimated the political character of Vladimir Putin’s Russian State, and its invasion of Ukraine.

This leads them to actively opposing Ukrainian armed resistance. A news report tells us :

According to Alexandropoulos port director Konstantinos Hadzimihail, three trains’ worth of NATO equipment have been sent to Poland and Romania through the port to date. At least three NATO ships have entered the port over the past month, including the US-flagged Liberty Passion, and the Hartland Point, a British ro-ro cargo vessel, and the US Liberty King, which is continuing to be unloaded.

The KKE (Greek Communist Party) has been highly active in opposing Athens’ involvement in the crisis between NATO and Russia over Ukraine.

The story came to my attention via the Facebook page of a respected anti-war veteran, Tariq Ali. At the time of writing, it is unclear to me if Ali approves or disapproves of the action taken by the Greek workers, and the tankie policy of the Greek KKE. A number of correspondents offer some clear thinking.

On April 9 2022) a number of Left wing activists from the UNITE trade union picketed the Embassy of Russia in Dublin’s plush Orwell Road calling for the expulsion of Ambassador Yuri Filatov from Irish Soil.

Clear Thinking Number 1 (Pete Cooper)

I don’t get this. Stop the War (Britain) is correctly calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops. However Putin is not withdrawing Russian troops and continues to bombard maim and kill Ukrainians in what SttW recognises though this demand is an unjustified war. Do Ukrainians in this situation have the right to defend themselves against Putin’s invasion, yes or no? If not why not? Doesn’t the right to self determination of nations include the right to take up arms in the exercise of that right? If so how are they to do so given the vastly superior numbers and arms available to the Russian army? With their bare hands? Isn’t it hypocritical to will the agreed end, the withdrawal of Russian troops, without willing the means, the arming, including heavy weaponry matching that of the aggressors, of the Ukrainian masses (every male 18-60, OK Ukrainians could argue about the exclusion of women without childcare responsibilities). If such a right exists, from where can such arms come? State actors have a monopoly on such weaponry. Unfortunately the only such state actors with the means and the will to do so are the US imperialists of NATO. Of course NATO as any follower of Tariq’s postings will be aware, as am I, has its own agenda,. but that, in this life and death situation, is not the central issue. However needs must and in my opinion the Ukrainians including the Ukrainian state and government are exercising their right and indeed their duty to demand and accept such military equipment to defend themselves against a Putin who only respects force in both his domestic and his foreign affairs. Consequently the action of the Greek railway workers is in my opinion profoundly mistaken. I hasten to add that as a socialist I do not support Zelensky’s general politics or that of his government.For a more complete exposition of the socialist case for solidarity with Ukraine see for example
Please no trolling, personal abuse etc. Serious contributions only. I respect, but of course do not agree with Tariq Ali on this question, although on many other issues we would be in agreement. I also know that Tariq would agree that as in all debates amongst socialists, dissenters’ views should also be treated with respect.

Clear Thinking Number 2 : (Kevin Metcalf)

Imagine “anti war” activists blocking shipments of German weapons to Roger Casement’s Irish rebels in 1916. It made sense and the only people upset about it were the British who of course, called it treason, sedition, terrorism and all manner of nasty things and held the Irish up as some puppet of German imperialism for relying on the great power which could provide the necessary arms to underwrite Irish independence.

In fact, it was the FAILURE of those shipments to arrive which had a more dire effect, and lead almost directly to the outcome of the Easter Rising and ultimately the civil war. Imagine a history in which Casement got the guns to Connolly and crew.

I expect in short order there’s going to be mass obstruction, sabotage and non-compliance by anti-Ukrainian groups in the west, too. I’m seriously considering leaving North America before I have to watch my former comrades let me down so terribly.

I also expect Greek Anarchists will have something to say about this, soon. Tensions are reaching a boiling point on this specific issue internationally and it’s not going to be pretty.

Clear Thinking Number 3 : (Leon Trotsky)

A correspondent observes “Completely disgraceful. This passage from Learn To Think says it all about these actions.”

“Let us assume that rebellion breaks out tomorrow in the French colony of Algeria under the banner of national independence and that the Italian government, motivated by its own imperialist interests, prepares to send weapons to the rebels. What should the attitude of the Italian workers be in this case? I have purposely taken an example of rebellion against a democratic imperialism with intervention on the side of the rebels from a fascist imperialism. Should the Italian workers prevent the shipping of arms to the Algerians? Let any ultra-leftists dare answer this question in the affirmative. Every revolutionist, together with the Italian workers and the rebellious Algerians, would spurn such an answer with indignation. Even if a general maritime strike broke out in fascist Italy at the same time, even in this case the strikers should make an exception in favor of those ships carrying aid to the colonial slaves in revolt; otherwise they would be no more than wretched trade unionists – not proletarian revolutionists.”

John Meehan April 10 2022

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