Tomás Ó Flatharta

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The movie of the book: ‘How To Blow Up a Pipeline’

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The movie of the book: ‘How To Blow Up A Pipeline’

Guest post by Des Derwin

The movie ‘How To Blow Up A Pipeline’ (Dir. Daniel Goldhaber, 2023) is the perfect application of the theory of the book to practice. For once, in a triumph of the filmmakers art, exactly what the strategy would mean is demonstrated both with realism and as an experiment, but not in grim reality. Is this the first time a political strategy can be applied and tested imaginatively, virtually, without the painful, tragic human loss of actual idealistic trial and error?

Sociologically (just such a band of desperadoes, masterfully acted, would do it), militarily (an isolated guerrilla group), politically (a fringe alliance of almost apolitical diversely-motivated people), technically (brilliantly produced weaponry and spectacle and the resultant once-off effect), Andreas Malm’s book meets its end in front of our cinema-going eyes.

As there is no instruction in the book* (How To Blow Up a Pipeline, Verso, 2021) on how to blow up a pipeline, and as the film is a video class in how to blow up an oil pipeline, a fairly audacious defiance of the national security censors, there is nothing of Andreas Malm’s text in the movie, no analysis, history, political comparison or strategic discussion. Yet there is everything about the book in the film, that title which was not delivered on in the book, but is now, the deliverance of the message
of the book, the manifesto manifested.

The result is a thrilling, action-packed success, a ‘they-got-away-with-it’ caper. Which in real life we know would be subject to months of painstaking FBI evidence gathering and eventual arrests. Which we can see, even sticking to the film’s spectacular and catastrophic blasting of the pipeline, and triumph of the rebels, could not be repeated, and certainly could not be repeated like that again. It’s all so slickly presented and paced: including the TV in the bar beginning the overdrive on ‘terrorism’ and the manic might of the US state mobilising.

Bombing will not go softly. We still have to go into the city, not the desert,and build a mass movement against the ecological emergency.

*Reviewed by me here:

Written by siptuactivist

May 11, 2023 at 3:43 pm

We need to talk about Volodymyr

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Guest post by Des Derwin

The international solidarity movement with Ukraine, together with the left within Ukraine, needs to begin having a conversation about Zelensky.

We are well aware of our political and class differences with Zelensky. They have been overlooked or put aside by the international solidarity movement, or at least left without emphasis, in the interests of supporting the defensive war effort of the Ukrainian nation. This effort is widely seen as being outstandingly led by Zelensky. I am reminded how a united left rhetorically backed Ho Chi Minh throughout the Vietnam War without the left of the left making too much of a fuss about some of his highly objectionable actions. Hence Zelensky’s neoliberalism, his forelock-tugging of the West, his anti-worker legislation, his apparent tolerance for some manifestations of the far right in Ukraine, his new concession to property developers, etc., are not made an issue, except to offer solidarity to our socialist and trade union comrades in Ukraine who are fighting the anti-labour laws in particular.

However there is one area where I feel we – the international solidarity movement and the Ukrainian left – can no longer keep public silence about Zelensky. And that is Israel.

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The War in Ukraine – How Should Socialists Respond?

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Two tweets, a ‘Phoenix’ fable and a hatchet to the bud of left solidarity with Ukraine.

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Guest post by Des Derwin

The Phoenix piece (below) from 5th May 2022- re-posted in the ‘Left Links’ Facebook group on 3rd October 2022 – is a case of accusation through association, and association through juxtaposition, seeking to identify Ukrainian activist and academic Nadia Dobrianska with the far right.

In the Facebook group ‘Left Links’ the Phoenix piece was re-posted (3rd October 2022) with the demand for “some kind of explanation why socialists in Dublin would be hosting an event with Nadia Dobrianska who, if not a fascist, would certainly appear to be aligned with them”. There is no evidence provided for these innuendos and claims. There is possibly ground for a case of defamation from Nadia Dobrianska.

The flyer for the public meeting organised by Irish Left With Ukraine  (with additional speakers’ names covered to keep them out of the present controversy).

Two tweets referring to Russian refugees from Nadia Dobrianska were also posted on ‘Left Links’ (29th September). If these tweets are genuine they – or one in particular – are problematic for her and for a speaker at a left public meeting on Ukraine. These will be discussed later but for now it should be noted that they do not offer evidence that she is fascist, or far right or even has an anti-immigrant position in general.

The general political background to a piece on Ukraine in the Phoenix is that the magazine tends, like much ‘left-leaning’ commentary in Ireland on Ukraine, to blame the US and NATO for the invasion and to portray the Zelensky government as oppressive, right wing and particularly objectionable.  

The Phoenix piece is headed “Azov Human Rights”.  Azov is a sea to the South of Ukraine. It is also a signal for the imputation of fascist politics to Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion, extrapolated from the common propaganda claim that the far right Azov paramilitary organisation reflects the viewpoint of the Ukrainian government. The claim usually denies that Azov has been depoliticised and incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard engendering the departure of its leaders to found new independent political organisations. Indeed the claim is exactly repeated later in this Phoenix article where it says: “The Azov Battalion is a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine which has as its core white supremacist and neo-Nazi members and ideology.”

The first sentence in ‘Azov Human Rights’ contains a gratuitous claim that Nadia Dobrianska “has become quite the Irish media darling”. This is another signal to those who object to the mainstream media’s support for Ukrainian defence and who would see it as the same as the usual media bias and misrepresentation in favour of the West on Palestine, Iraq, Julian Assagne, etc.

The Phoenix article begins:

Irish-speaking Nadia Dobrianska works for a human rights organisation in her native Kyiv and has become quite the Irish media darling. Dobrianska works for ZMINA, which ‘aims to promote human rights, the rule of law and the ideas of civil society in Ukraine’ … one of the high profile cases is that of Serhiy Sternenko… “former head of the regional branch of the Right Sector’ [which] has been widely described as neo-fascist [and] has been linked to attacks on journalists, left-wing party members and offices.

A second case of ZMINA support for a rightest is then offered. Note she works for ZMINA. That is, she does some of the work that ZMINA does and would not presumably be involved at all in every case that ZMINA takes up, such as for instance the two cases cited by Phoenix.

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