Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

During World War 2 French, Polish and Yugoslav workers did not much care who supplied them with arms – Marxist History Notes in Relation to Ukraine’s 2022 War of National Liberation Against Russian Imperialism

leave a comment »

The Irish uprising is 100 per cent justified. Even if German imperialism tries to profit from it, even if leaders of the national movement link up with German submarines – VI Lenin

https://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1976/xx/trots-ww2.htm?fbclid=IwAR0qN9NhtAiVhh1GHpSI1tWvKN-Pe3aEPHyUc9a4kIzuRWHJaDduMwBhUlU

We are presenting some Marxist history notes in relation to Ukraine’s 2022 war of national liberation against Putin’s Russian imperialist invasion.

The above quotation from the Russian Bolshevik leader VI Lenin – who praised the Easter 1916 Rising in Ireland – is deployed by Ernest Mandel who offered some extremely useful analyses of World War 2, which he suggests was “a combination of five different wars”.

Our movement was inoculated against nationalism in imperialist countries, against the idea of supporting imperialist war efforts in any form whatsoever. That was a good education, and I do not propose to revise that tradition. But what it left out of account were elements of the much more complex Leninist position in the First World War. It is simply not true that Lenin’s position then can be reduced to the formula: “This is a reactionary imperialist war. We have nothing to do with it.” Lenin’s position was much more sophisticated. He said: “There are at least two wars, and we want to introduce a third one.” (The third one was the proletarian civil war against the bourgeoisie which in actual fact came out of the war in Russia.)

Lenin fought a determined struggle against sectarian currents inside the internationalist tendency who did not recognise the distinction between these two wars. He pointed out: “There is an inter-imperialist war. With that war we have nothing to do. But there are also wars of national uprising by oppressed nationalities. The Irish uprising is 100 per cent justified. Even if German imperialism tries to profit from it, even if leaders of the national movement link up with German submarines, this does not change the just nature of the Irish war of independence against British imperialism. The same thing is true for the national movement in the colonies and the semi-colonies, the Indian movement, the Turkish movement, the Persian movement.” And he added: “The same thing is true for the oppressed nationalities in Russia and Austro-Hungary. The Polish national movement is a just movement, the Czech national movement is a just movement. A movement by any oppressed nationality against the imperialist oppressor is a just movement. And the fact that the leadership of these movements could betray by linking these movements politically and organizationally to imperialism is a reason to denounce these leaders, not a reason to condemn these movements.”

Now if we look at the problem of World War II from that more dialectical, more correct Leninist point of view, we have to say that it was a very complicated business indeed. I would say, at the risk of putting it a bit too strongly, that the Second World War was in reality a combination of five different wars. That may seem an outrageous proposition at first sight, but I think closer examination will bear it out.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1976/xx/trots-ww2.htm?fbclid=IwAR0qN9NhtAiVhh1GHpSI1tWvKN-Pe3aEPHyUc9a4kIzuRWHJaDduMwBhUlU

The Fifth Most Complex War

“Now I come to the fifth war, which is the most complex. I would not say that it was going on in the whole of Europe occupied by Nazi imperialism, but more especially in two countries, Yugoslavia and Greece, to a great extent in Poland, and incipiently in France and Italy. That was a war of liberation by the oppressed workers, peasants, and urban petty bourgeoisie against the German Nazi imperialists and their stooges. To deny the autonomous nature of that war means saying in reality that the workers and peasants of Western Europe had no right to fight against those who were enslaving them at that moment unless their minds were set clearly against bringing in other enslavers in place of the existing ones. That is an unacceptable position.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1976/xx/trots-ww2.htm?fbclid=IwAR0qN9NhtAiVhh1GHpSI1tWvKN-Pe3aEPHyUc9a4kIzuRWHJaDduMwBhUlU

During the current Ukraine-Russia war boilerplate liberalism has dulled the minds of left-wing currents in Ireland and elsewhere. These comrades oppose sending military aid to Ukrainian fighters waging a just war against an ethnic cleansing Russian invasion. https://tomasoflatharta.com/2022/08/04/ukrainians-reject-ridiculous-calls-for-negotiations-with-putins-ethnic-cleansing-invaders-that-should-be-the-common-sense-policy-of-the-radical-left/

During World War 2 French, Polish and Yugoslav workers did not much care who supplied them with arms. During World War 1 Irish workers did not care about German imperialism supplying them with arms used in the Easter 1916 Rising. A correspondent notes : “No insurgency/partisan movement/ etc ever refused arms from anyone that I’m aware of.”.


The very scale of the 1939–45 war has often tempted historians to study particular campaigns at the expense of the wider panorama. In this readable and richly detailed history of the conflict, the Belgian scholar Ernest Mandel (author of the acclaimed Late Capitalism) outlines his view that the war was in fact a combination of several distinct struggles and a battle between rival imperialisms for world hegemony. In concise chapters, Mandel examines the role played by technology, science, logistics, weapons and propaganda. Throughout, he weaves a consideration of the military strategy of the opposing states into his analytical narrative of the war and its results.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: