Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

“Wallace’s sympathy for Iranian regime strips bare his faux radicalism” Critique of speech delivered by an Irish Member of the European Parliament, Mick Wallace (Ireland South) – Justine McCarthy, Irish Times, December 9 2022

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Two Irish MEP’s Mick Wallace (Ireland South) and Clare Daly (Dublin) have created a serious problem for themselves, the left in Ireland, and the left abroad. They analyse international conflicts using a politically poisonous method.

This politically poisonous method stalks the mainstream radical left and established anti-war organisations. That poison has a name : Campism. Justine McCarthy accurately observes that the Ireland South MEP is using “victim blaming… the lowest form of defence”. Many readers have not heard the term campism, and do not know what it means. Other readers do know what it means, but do not want us to learn anything more – because they know they use a less obvious version of the same poison and see nothing wrong with this chosen political method. Mick Wallace has given us a chemically pure example of this political poison by denouncing the feminist inspired uprising in Iran. Other practicioners on the left prey on ignorance and prejudice by – for example – refusing to engage in active solidarity with Ukraine – the victim of a violent imperialist, ethnic cleansing, and genocidal Russian invasion.

Pierre Rousset wrote an extensive article on this subject in October 2014. It is recommended reading today.

So we begin here with a definition of Campism and context :
Source : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3669

Geopolitical chaos and its implications: introductory notes for collective thinking – International Viewpoint – online socialist magazine

In this context, the “campist” legacy is particularly dangerous. It results in lining up in the camp of a regime (Assad and so on) against a good part of the people or a capitalist power (in East Asia, the USA in the name of the Chinese threat or China in the name of the US threat) (Russia or the West in the case of the Ukraine). Each time we abandon some of the victims (which are on the wrong side), we feed aggressive nationalism and sanctify the borders inherited from the era of the “blocs” precisely when we must erase them.

We remain tributaries of this legacy more than we think. When, in France, we speak about Europe, that means in fact the European Union or at best a widened Western Europe – and it is within this framework that we work out alternatives. But Europe is also Russia and alternatives must be thought through that include the two sides of the Russo-West-European border (even the Mediterranean). This question is particularly important in Eurasia, because it is the only continent that has been at this point fashioned by the revolution/counter-revolution and face-to-face confrontation of the “blocs”.

Justine McCarthy: Wallace’s sympathy for Iranian regime strips bare his faux radicalism

Victim blaming is the lowest form of defence, yet the MEP has chosen to blame protesting women and girls rather than the vile police state that beats and kills them

Even Spain’s vanquished footballers must have a better chance of winning the World Cup this month than Mick Wallace has of getting re-elected to the European Parliament in 2024. After his scurrilous remarks about the deadly anti-government protests in Iran, the MEP for Ireland South can kiss goodbye to the remnants of Ireland’s infatuation with his faux radicalism.

Since the death on September 16th of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after being arrested for not properly covering her head and being violently assaulted in a morality police van by jeering officers, as witnessed by other detainees, more than 488 people have been killed by security forces during protests in her memory. The protests are being led by women. According to Iran Human Rights, 29 women had died by November 29th, along with 60 children.

Last month, Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, reported that more than 14,000 people had been arrested, a number now believed to stand at 18,000. He said 21 people were facing charges that carried the death penalty, six others had already been executed, and that victims’ families were being forced to make false statements under duress that their children had died by suicide.

The protesters have demonstrated awesome courage, both at home in Iran, where women and girls make public shows of defiantly shearing off their hair, as well as abroad. Elnaz Rekabi, Iran’s climbing champion, is reported to be under house arrest since returning from South Korea where she competed in the Asian games devoid of a headscarf in October. It surely has not escaped the notice of soccer super-fan Wallace that the Iranian team in Qatar pointedly refrained from singing their country’s national anthem before their first match in the tournament in a gesture widely interpreted as symbolic support for their compatriots.

Countries, alliances and organisations throughout the world that have a whit of concern about human rights have deplored the brutal repression of the protests. The EU has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 98 Iranian individuals and eight entities, including the country’s minister for information as well as some of the top brass in the morality police.

The Wallace vote-getting magic always had a sell-by-date. Sooner or later, the bundle of contradictions he manifested was bound to catch up on him

Iran’s ambassador to Ireland fetched up on RTÉ’s Prime Time on November 23rd, spouting the regime’s propaganda that Amini’s death was from natural causes due to a pre-existing health condition, which has been denied by her family and discredited by scans and photographs taken of her in the hospital, showing violent bruises on her face. “That’s a lie, ambassador,” Miriam O’Callaghan told the diplomat, to her everlasting credit.

Sally Hayden: Women’s revolution in Iran is about freedom, not hijabs ]

But there’s always one. In the European Parliament, Wallace, whose own unrestrained locks are his trademark, accused some of the demonstrators of violence, murder and destruction and declared that no country would tolerate such civil unrest. Iran, he claimed, was under attack.

Victim-blaming is the lowest form of defence. Women know it only too well. Wallace’s assertion that the protest movement in Iran “would not be tolerated anywhere” is redolent of dangerous old tropes used in other circumstances – What did she expect, going out dressed like that? She was asking for it, your honour.

Scant credibility

Wallace is not a bad man, just a misguided one. I doubt that he recognised the perilous import of his parliamentary comments before he unleashed them. If that is so, he should apologise and withdraw them. Otherwise, he will have scant credibility any time he speaks about human rights, which he has chosen as his mastermind subject in Europe’s political arena. How can his recent denunciations of the Taliban’s oppression of women in Afghanistan be taken seriously when, in the next breath, he defends a regime that kills a woman for loosening her headscarf?

How Clare Daly and Mick Wallace became stars of authoritarian state media ]

The trickle-down effect of his apologia for the Islamic state of Iran is that other causes he has adopted will be blighted by his pick ‘n’ mix attitude to tyranny. A world gripped by fear after the Russian invasion of Ukraine needs to hear persuasive voices speaking out about Nato’s creeping expansion and the surrender to it by countries that once cherished their neutrality. With his defence of Iran, Wallace has disqualified himself from the ranks of the persuaders.

Ireland has had its Donald Trump moment. Life – and, for some people, death – demand that radicalism be more than skin deep.

Contrarianism has taken the former property developer a long way in his political career. Flouting dress codes is integral to his cachet, and more power to his oft-seen elbow, but he cannot be blind to his own good fortune that, instead of 70 lashes of a whip, all he got were snide remarks for wearing pink T-shirts and dangling earrings in the Dáil. As early as 2011, he displayed ambivalence about gender equality in the wardrobe department when he was overheard in the chamber pronouncing that a female TD he called “Miss Piggy” had “toned it down a bit today”.

Wallace’s resistance to being stereotyped has stood to him. Like fellow property developer Donald Trump, he parachuted an aura of radicalism into politics from the construction sector and the ashes of an economic crash partly, caused by builders’ avaricious bank borrowings. Personally likeable, he built an electoral appeal with his anti-establishment persona – trespassing in protest against US military use at Shannon Airport and making explosive revelations about Nama, the State’s bad bank for developers. The publicity he reaped could be measured in newspaper column inches stretching all the way from Leinster House to Wexford and back again.

Analysis: Crackdown fails to silence Iranian protesters ]

The Wallace vote-getting magic always had a sell-by-date, though. Sooner or later, the bundle of contradictions he manifested was bound to catch up on him. While championing the cause of Julian Assange and a free press and while demanding accountability from others, he developed a custom of not responding to journalists’ questions about his own behaviour. He decries financial inequality but withheld pension contributions from his own workers’ pension fund.

Some voters may have regarded these contradictions as mere foibles – endearing ones, even – but Wallace’s comments on Iran are too grave to be dismissed. They stand in contrast with the inspiring bravery of Badri Hosseini Kamenei, the sister of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has sympathised with mothers mourning the crimes of her brother’s “despotic caliphate”.

Ireland has had its Donald Trump moment. Life – and, for some people, death – demand that radicalism be more than skin deep.


Declaration adopted by the Feminist Working group Affiliated to the European Network for Solidarity With Ukraine

Woman, life, freedom – International feminist manifesto in solidarity with iranian women’s fight

We, feminist activists, public figures, congresswoman and undersigned organizations from many countries, stand in solidarity with Iranian women who have been fighting against the Islamic Republic of Iran and for justice for Jina Mahsa Amini since september 2022. Mahsa was a 22-year-old young woman of Kurdish origin that was arrested and beaten to death by the morality police of the Islamic Republic of Iran because her use of the hijab was not in conformity with the country’s theocratic laws.

Since this misogynistic and unacceptable murder, women from all over the country have taken the streets of Iran in a feminist and anti-dictatorial revolt for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and for gender equality. Almost two months of multitudinous protests have inhabited the streets of Iran with the protagonism of young women who, in a posture of confrontation with the bloodthirsty Iranian dictatorship and it’s imposed morality, take off their hijabs in public and burn them, in a gesture of demand for freedom and the end of the theocratic regime. Once more, women are the frontline in the fight against authoritarian regimes.

We join in a chain of international feminist solidarity to Iranian women’s revolt against the religious dictatoriship of the Islamic Republic. We stand in solidarity with all women and men who fight against the oppressive regime, for freedoms and social rights. We defend the religious freedom of all women, choosing how and when they profess their faith. We defend gender equality for Iranian women in the face of the State, the Judiciary System and the labor market. We defend the freedom of organization of women and of the Iranian people against authoritarianism. We repudiate all the repression of the Iranian government and its agents of repression, which have already made thousands of protesters and opponents victims. 
Women, life, freedom.
Down with the Islamic Republic! Neither Mullah nor Shah!
Freedom for political prisoners!

Source : https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Co-P20XfXiTiwuCrD-_ntLo1XIpq_5_s9kIevU4-RfY/edit

2 Responses

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  1. […] ‘maverick’ politicians and personalities such as George Galloway in the UK, MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace in Ireland, or YouTube personalities such as the American Jimmy Dore. Their ‘celebrity’ […]

  2. […] ‘maverick’ politicians and personalities such as George Galloway in the UK, MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace in Ireland, or YouTube personalities such as the American Jimmy Dore. Their ‘celebrity’ […]


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