Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Neutrality’ Category

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”.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Don’t exaggerate the influence of Russian propaganda” Ukrainian socialist Taras Bilous serves in the military – and right from there he fights the stereotypes of the Western left about Ukraine (and Russia). We spoke to him

leave a comment »

Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF) http://www.europe-solidaire.org/ has published and translated an exceptionally good interview about Ukraine :

Taras Bilous is a Ukrainian socialist, editor of the left-wing intellectual magazine Spilne and an activist in the Social Movement. Bilous has been serving in Ukraine’s territorial defence forces since early March. And in his spare time, he engages in lively polemics with Western left-wing activists, intellectuals and politicians on Twitter and in the most authoritative left-wing publications about the need for solidarity with Ukraine. “Meduza spoke with Taras Bilous about where foreign stereotypes about Russia and Ukraine come from and what can be done about them.

Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article63762&fbclid=IwAR3aCeR6YPuBIZBTWwUkxBZe9RMegOD1pYePv2CQ_IPm5nt4nVMF_clzobQ

See also : https://commons.com.ua/en/


In Russia there is rather little knowledge about the inner workings of Ukrainian politics, it is usually discussed only in the context of “pro-Russian – pro-Western”. Please explain what place you and Social Movement have in it.

We should start with the fact that in Ukraine, as in Russia, there are systemic and non-systemic politics.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Strange Policy is Reviewed – Support Ukraine’s Resistance Against an Imperialist Russian Invasion “Politically” – But Oppose Giving Arms to the Resisters – A Critique of Irish Left Evasionism

with one comment

International solidarity between socialists and anarchists in Ukraine and Ireland is growing. We are united in a desire to see Russia defeated, which will be a blow to the right everywhere. We are equally united in our opposition to Western imperialism and the global capitalists circling Ukraine ready to exploit the country after the war.

One of the disappointing developments of the war is that so many socialists in the West have failed to offer such solidarity. The group we are most familiar with is People Before Profit, and analysing the think piece published in August 2022 by John Molyneux explains why. We offer this critique of John’s article in the hope that there are members of People Before Profit who can save it from its current convergence with the ‘campists’. We hope this can happen in time to make a difference to the growth of practical solidarity between Irish and Ukrainian socialists.

 

Molyneux’s essay begins with an attempt to categorise the debates among the left into three positions:

1. the ‘campists’ in favour of a Russian victory, 

2. those who are for a Ukrainian victory without reservations about NATO and western imperialism, and

3. those who are neither for a Russian victory nor for one for Western imperialism (‘neutrality’)

 

This schema has been derived by working backwards from John’s understandable desire to portray People Before Profit as fundamentally different to the campists, while doubling down on their criticisms of the Ukrainian resistance. For a supposed Marxist analysis it has a deep and irreperable flaw: it has sprung from the head of its author and not from the reality of the situation. Frankly, the left doesn’t have time to ignore reality in this way any more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ukrainians Reject “Ridiculous” Calls for Negotiations with Putin’s Ethnic-Cleansing Invaders – That should be the Common Sense Policy of the Radical Left

with 2 comments

The vast majority of Ukrainians oppose a policy advocated by many western leftists who call for a ceasefire. Left-wing supporters of the ceasefire policy in Ireland – for example Sabina Coyne-Higgins (wife of Irish President Michael D Higgins) and the left-wing party People Before Profit – do not publicly engage with Ukrainians living in Ireland, who have expressed strong rejection of the recent ceasefire plea published by Ms Coyne-Higgins in the Irish Times. Here is one representative example :

Michael Baskin, who has lived in Ireland for 20 years and leads the Ukrainian Crisis Centre in Ireland, said he had spent time since the letter was published trying “to understand what Sabina Higgins was trying to say”.

“Ukraine never wanted this war. I will give a simple example. Somewhere in Ireland someone came to your house, killed your family, and tried to take it from you. Will you negotiate? Like, take a half of it and let’s live like this. It’s ridiculous.

“We can’t give up our country’s future. If we don’t stop Russia now, Ukraine won’t exist in 20 years.”

Ukrainians bridle over Sabina Higgins’s ceasefire letter
Letter by President’s wife no longer visible on Áras an Uachtaráin website – Irish Times July 30 2022

The PBP publicly backed the Coyne-Higgins Statement, stating she “had done nothing wrong”.

A number of left-wing activists disagree.

Read the rest of this entry »

British PSC Trade Union Conference Votes for Solidarity With Ukraine’s Resistance – Supports “calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from all over Ukraine”

leave a comment »

The PSC Trade Union – the Public and Commercial Services Union – is the sixth largest trade union in Britain. Most of its members work in government departments and other public bodies. More here :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_and_Commercial_Services_Union?wprov=sfti1

The General Secretary Mark Serwotka identifies strongly with the left wing of the workers’ movement in Britain : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Serwotka?wprov=sfti1

Letter from State Employees Union Ukraine

This is the text of a letter sent to PCS by Yurii Pizhuk, chair of the State Employees Union of Ukraine

Read the rest of this entry »

“Four points on the war in Ukraine” – Murray Smith

with 2 comments

Murray Smith writes a very useful review of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 2022. Some readers of this blog may not agree with parts of the historical analysis, and that is healthy. Debate on such issues is positive, and there is no need to impose a “political line”. For example, Smith’s article contains an implied criticism of the neutrality policy chosen by the southern partitioned bit of Ireland during World War 2. That said, anti-war activists living outside Ukraine today have a duty – an emergency duty – to unite in action around clear and unambiguous practical solidarity policies. Article Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article62344

Murray Smith is a member of the leadership of déi Lénk (“The Left”) in Luxembourg and is one of its representatives on the Executive Board of the Party of the European Left. Information Source : https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?auteur11

Two parts of Murray Smith’s analysis deserve emphasis :

Number 1 :

We must insist on the nature of the war in Ukraine. What started the war was the Russian invasion, not NATO. This is a war of national defence of Ukraine in response to this invasion. And it’s a war of the whole people, not just the army bit the territorial defence units, and the trade unions in particular. So, no revolutionary defeatism on both sides, only on the Russian side. Ukrainian side, national defense. And for internationalists in other countries, solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance and the anti-war movement in Russia. And especially with leftist, political, trade union and feminist forces in both countries.

Number 2 :

The fact that Ukraine obtains weapons from NATO countries and elsewhere does not fundamentally change this. In a war situation you find weapons where you can. The Irish rebels in 1916 to Germany to seek arms. Countries threatened by the United States turn to Russia. And Ukrainians look above all to NATO. This does not change the nature of the Russian war in Ukraine. And even if the conflict were to spread, it would not change its fundamental nature. Any analysis that reduces the war in Ukraine to just one facet of an inter-imperialist conflict only serves to weaken solidarity with Ukraine.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine which began on February 24 is not only the biggest armed conflict in Europe since 1945. It is the first attempt of this magnitude to redraw the map of Europe by force. And it is on the initiative of Russian imperialism, not second-rank powers like Turkey or Serbia. It is too early to learn all the lessons and see all the consequences. But we can already say that nothing has happened as Russia had envisioned. We will not list here the weaknesses and mistakes on the Russian side. But the fundamental factor that thwarted Putin’s calculations was the strength of the Ukrainian resistance

Read the rest of this entry »

Evasions on the Left Over Ukraine – Conor Kostick, Independent Left (Ireland)

with one comment

This is a strongly recommended article. The author is an experienced anti-war activist, an Irish historian and writer living in Dublin. He is the author of many works of history and fiction.. For more information read the information at this link : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conor_Kostick?wprov=sfti1. https://www.leftarchive.ie/people/2778/ Some of Conor’s political writings are here : https://www.leftarchive.ie/people/2778/

Wars are not light topics that can be dispensed of with simple formulas. I, for one, cannot imagine how the success of Russia would further the cause of democracy and socialism around the world. If you do, then say so, openly, so it can be debated in public. But don’t falsify tradition and history and hide behind pathetic slogans. To paraphrase Marx, we Marxists disdain to conceal our views and aims.

John Ganz, Ben Burgis’s Bad History: Jacobin’s anti-Jacobins

There is a type of left argument around the war in Ukraine which has arisen in the West. It is one that condemns Putin’s invasion, but refuses to offer practical support to the people of Ukraine in resisting that invasion. It is the position one can read in Jacobin, or in statements by Chomsky, Corbyn, and the Stop the War Coalition in the UK. In Ireland we have the same type of response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine from People Before Profit and the Socialist Party of Ireland.

I will use the label Evasionist Left for this approach. It’s not clear how representative this trend is internationally, as many on the left do pro-actively support the resistance in Ukraine, e.g. parties such Razem in Poland; those associated with the Fourth International like Left Bloc and the Danish Red Green Alliance; and the main left party in Japan, the Japanese Communist Party.

Read the rest of this entry »

Russian Ethnic Cleansing in Action at Bucha : “Those who committed these deeds, up close, must have regarded their prey as something less than human.”

leave a comment »

There are a number of posts on this and other left-wing sources steering readers away from the belief that Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion of Ukraine can be explained – and in some cases justified – by NATO expansion eastward across the European continent.

This never made any sense to me for one obvious reason, a reason that could be spotted by a small child. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically increased popular support for NATO across the European continent : especially in countries neighbouring Russia which, before the invasion, were not members of NATO. This category includes Ukraine, Finland, and Sweden.

The governments of Finland and Sweden are planning to drop historic neutrality policies and join NATO. This dramatic turn to the right has been accelerated by Russia’s ethnic-cleansing invasion of Ukraine.

Read the rest of this entry »