Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Whiteys Mourn an English Queen at Buckingham Palace, London

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Whiteys gathered at a London Palace because the English Queen died..

“Throngs of mourners gathering outside Buckingham Palace on a rainy day saw a rainbow form over the palace. This is being taken as some kind of divine omen rather than a natural phenomenon related to rain. Some are crying & the crowd broke spontaneously into an off-key “God Save the King” even after it was announced she was dead. The whole scene would be touching if it didn’t signify that too many Brits have a dysfunctional relationship with a woman they only knew from her hand-waving on TV. It’s not surprising that as far as the eye can see that crowd is lily white, kind of Tory-like, way too many white people in a single location for anyone else to feel safe.”

Mary Scully

We can all do better than this.

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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

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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.

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We are all Salman Rushdie

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The New York attempt to assassinate the writer Salman Rushdie means statements of solidarity are required.

Two declarations posted below come from the United States of America. PEN America is a branch of the worldwide association of writers which stands for

the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world wherever this is possible https://pen-international.org/who-we-are/the-pen-charter

From Ayad Akhtar, PEN America President It is hard to find words to express the emotions occasioned by today’s shocking attack on Salman Rushdie.

As a former President of our organization, Salman means so much to us. His leadership in the wake of 9/11 set the course for the two decades which have followed. He has been and remains a tireless advocate for imperiled writers, for unfettered intellectual and creative exchange, and one of the last half-century’s great champions of freedom of expression. But it is in his own truly seminal, challenging body of work that Salman has stood most powerfully for the values of PEN America—work that has questioned founding myths and expanded the world’s imaginative possibilities, at great cost to himself.

On a more personal note, as a writer whose own work is fundamentally shaped by an early encounter with The Satanic Verses, it is particularly horrifying to me that the nightmare set in motion by the fatwa in 1989 is still with us. We are all thinking of Salman today across the PEN America community, and praying for his recovery.Salman Rushdie delivering the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the 2012 World Voices Festival, which he co-founded. Read his remarks on censorship here.“Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.” —Salman Rushdie, “On Censorship” 

The second declaration is a publication of Feminist Dissent :

Rushdie’s Right to Write, Our Right to Dissent

As Salman Rushdie lies gravely injured in hospital, Feminist Dissent expresses sorrow at the brutal attack on him and on Ralph Henry Reese in New York state on August 12, 2022, at an event focusing on asylum for writers. It is our fervent hope that Salman will recover to write and live a full life again. We send our love and solidarity to him, his family and friends around the world and to all those whose lives have also been endangered by this renewed threat to freedom.

Many of us are founders of Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) which defended Rushdie in the wake of the fatwa issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 following the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. Against the demonstrations that attacked Rushdie for having hurt Muslim sentiments and calls for his book to be burnt, WAF argued that women’s right to dissent was deeply intertwined with Rushdie’s right to write.

We knew then as we know now that many calling for Rushdie’s murder were the same fundamentalist leaders who contributed to women’s oppression within communities. We spoke out in the name of our secular traditions, with the banner ‘Our tradition, struggle not submission.’

WAF was equally committed to anti-racist politics that opposed the demonisation of all Muslims as fanatical, as it was to challenging fundamentalism in all religions—Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Muslim. It called out the ways in which fundamentalists were exploiting patriarchal power to control women and sexual minorities.

Unfortunately, the dangers that we warned against then are still among us and yet, too often, they are not named. Authoritarian and fundamentalist forces are stronger than ever.

We are not only devastated by the attack on Rushdie’s life, we are angry. We are angry at the failure of both the left and the right to take a stand for freedom of speech and conscience, and to advocate for the abolition of blasphemy and apostasy laws.

All those who believe in universal values should hold to account states such as Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia which have promoted hate, organised vigilantes to attack writers, and kept alive the concept of blasphemy. 

No individual Muslim should be held responsible for the actions of another. In fact, people of Muslim heritage are often at the forefront of struggles for socialism, secularism and against blasphemy laws, yet too often their struggles are mocked and diminished as pro-imperialist or Islamophobic. We stand with them, and the struggle for secularism everywhere.

We call out Muslim fundamentalist organisations (including those in western countries) that advocate death to blasphemers such as atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, while complaining that any criticism of them is Islamophobic. We need to stop treating them as advocates of human rights.

We call out those sections of the left that see Islamists as anti-imperialist allies and attack Rushdie as a stooge of the West. Organised violence against artists, writers, feminists and free-thinking dissidents has been alchemised by post-truth politics into support for the suppression of ‘offence’. We recall the refusal of many writers to support their own organisation PEN’s award to the murdered journalists of Charlie Hebdo. In refusing solidarity, they helped create a world in which it was possible for writers or teachers to be murdered with barely an eyebrow raised in polite society.

Salman Rushdie has always understood the importance of opposing all forms of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. He supports persecuted artists everywhere, from Ukrainians fleeing war to murdered bloggers and cartoonists.

In 1989, about 40 women of Women Against Fundamentalism confronted a huge fundamentalist march demanding death to Salman Rushdie, and the banning of his book. We shouted ‘Salman Rushdie Zindabad’ and today we repeat, ‘Long Live Salman Rushdie’.

Note: The next issue of Feminist Dissent is on Freedom of Expression. Stay tuned. https://feministdissent.org/blog-posts/rushdies-right-to-write/

Free Maksym Butkevych, a Political Prisoner – Ukrainian Anti-Fascist and Human Rights Activist Captured by Invading Russian Troops

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Ireland has a history of fighting for the rights of political prisoners. The international workers’ movement, inspired by the work of activists such as Eleanor Marx, has a history of defending anti-imperialist fighters. An account of this proud history follows this Green Left Weekly (Australia) call for action in support of Maksym Butkevych. See also http://europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article63291&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

There are grave fears for the safety of Ukrainian anti-fascist and human rights activist Maksym Butkevych, following his capture by Russian troops. Butkevych’s parents and human rights campaigners are calling on the international community to ensure he is guaranteed his rights in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/free-maksym-butkevych-russian-troops-capture-ukrainian-anti-fascist-activist?fbclid=IwAR0FYvlN_xisnPkPTLHDEIAUliT–mcCUovnjDREIKndJheGq_qdmqg5Oqk

There are grave fears for the safety of Ukrainian anti-fascist and human rights activist Maksym Butkevych, following his capture by Russians troops. Butkevych’s parents and human rights campaigners are calling on the international community to ensure he is guaranteed his rights in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

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Socialists and Coalition with Sinn Féin – Colm Breathnach, Independent Left

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Colm Breatnach makes an important contribution here

SOCIALISTS AND COALITION WITH SINN FÉIN

Sinn Féin Oireachtas and Stormont Members on the steps of Leinster House, Kildare Street

Is a Sinn Féin controlled left government in the 26 County bit of Ireland possible or likely? Right now, a general election electing the next Dáil can be delayed until February 2025. The current FFFGGG coalition (Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Greens and Gombeens) has a comfortable majority and will not voluntarily cut and run – unless it is forced to change course. Reliable opinion surveys show that, if a general election was held soon Sinn Féin is likely to increase its number of Dáil seats – but the current government would retain a majority. There is more detail on this important “technicality” in a note at the end of this article. John Meehan May 11 2022


SOCIALISTS AND COALITION WITH SINN FÉIN

The experience of Syriza, Greece warns against coalition with Sinn Féin

As the likelihood of a Sinn Féin led government grows, the prospect that the government might include radical left parties as coalition partners looms. But should socialists take up roles in government in coalition with Sinn Féin? Are there circumstances where this might prove to be necessary? Obligatory even? Now is the time to debate this issue, rather than being rushed into hastily made post-election decisions that could have a disastrous effect for the left in Ireland.

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“Ukrainian town fights off Russians and faces down hospital bombing” – Remember that name – Bashtanka.

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Introductory Note :

Daniel McLaughlin is an old-fashioned war-correspondent, who writes for the Irish Times. This report, published on Saturday April 30 2022, illustrates very vividly the real nature of the current war in Europe, the most dangerous conflict on the continent since World War 2.

This is a war of Ukrainian national liberation against a far-right ethnic-cleansing imperialist state headed by Vladimir Putin. The residents of Bashtanka, in the words of the town’s mayor, Aleksandr Berehovyi, decided to fight because “we had no choice”.

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine : Richard Boyd-Barrett TD (People Before Profit) 1. Mick Wallace MEP 0. Dissolve NATO – Russian Troops out of Ukraine

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Left wing anti-war activists and public representatives need to actively oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the eastern military expansion of NATO. Credible news reports indicate that Richard Boyd-Barrett TD (Dún Laoghaire) passes this test. Two Irish members of the European Parliament fail the same test : Mick Wallace (Ireland South) and Clare Daly (Dublin), who is associated with Independents for Change. The Irish Times (February 23) reports :


In a social media post after Russian president Vladimir Putin formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine on Monday, Mr Wallace claimed that “only a full scale war between Russia and Ukraine would satisfy Nato”.

“The people of Europe must campaign for the abolition of Nato – it has nothing good to offer anyone that prefers peace to war,” wrote Mr Wallace, who voted against a European Parliament motion to offer €1.2 billion in loans to Ukraine.

Irish Tines, Wednesday February 23 2022

The same report quotes Richard Boyd-Barrett

Inflame
Condemning Russian “incursions”, he said they should not “be used as an excuse for Ireland to line itself up with Nato or to give succour to the idea that military action by the West” can help.
Russia needs “to be condemned and condemned roundly”, Mr Boyd Barrett said, but “we need not to be one-sided in this and recognise that the expansion of Nato into eastern Europe has also helped inflame this extremely dangerous situation.
Ireland has said nothing about Nato’s “game-playing of expanding into eastern Europe and potentially inflaming this extremely dangerous conflict”, he added.

Hopefully the Irish Independents for Change network will clarify it’s position, and clearly distance itself from the statements issued by Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.

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Tomás Ó Flatharta

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Tomás Ó Flatharta was the first known Irish supporter of the Left Opposition to the Stalin-led Bolshevik Government in Russia, in the 1920’s. He is pictured here with comrades

William F. Dunne, T.J. O’Flaherty (Tomás Ó Flatharta), William (Big Bill) Haywood, and James P. Cannon together in Moscow from Labor Defender. Vol. 1 No. 8. August, 1926. Frank Little Memorial Number.

Thanks to Des Derwin for the information.

Thousands took to the streets to march on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday – DerryNow Report

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The feedback I got all week was that the 2022 Bloody Sunday March in Derry today would be huge. This turned out to be true. An initial report is below.

Here is the intriguing bit. The mass media (e.g. RTÉ Radio Bulletin this morning at 8.00am) reported lots of other stuff – for example, Dublin government taoiseach Mícheál Martin laying a wreath – and said nothing about the march this afternoon at 2.30pm in Derry featuring speeches by Bernadette McAliskey, Éamonn McCann, and others. RTÉ is a public service broadcaster in Ireland largely funded by a license fee. It comes under pressure from the “great and the good” to toe the line and exclude radical voices. And sometimes it gets things spectacularly wrong – today was an example.

What is the key political message today : Prosecute the Generals!

We will keep fighting – and, eventually, we might win. If we don’t fight, we definitely lose.

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“Some cause happiness wherever they go. Some cause happiness whenever they go” Is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the way out?

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I asked an interested comrade living in England – how long will Boris Johnson last? The first reply :

He’s clearly in serious trouble, and the Tories are scouting around their stable of horrors for a replacement.

Oscar Wilde’s Verdict “Some cause happiness wherever they go. Some cause happiness whenever they go”

The drama is receiving continuing attention in the Irish mass media. The RTÉ Morning Show hosted by Claire Byrne covered the Downing Street Pantomime. First boxer on the stage was Mr Andrew Bridgen (MP for Hard Brexit) [Bridgen is a competent anti-Johnson backbencher who may ascend to ministerial ranks if Johnson resigns]. Sir Tony Blair’s ex handler, Alistair Campbell (Iraq Dodgy Dossier) was in the opposite corner. Campbell started OK, concentrating on Boris Johnson’s CV – saying partygate is predictable once you knew the CV. Campbell went all Roy Keane after that – take out the player, never mind the ball – once Bridgen mentioned Campbell’s Iraq War Deadly Dossier. Lies about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” helped cause a hideous imperialist war – millions of innocent civilians dead and injured. Campbell’s behaviour contributed to the hounding of a courageous whistleblower, Doctor David Kelly, who died via suicide. Prime Minister Johnson lies about partying while the mother of a likely child abuse criminal (Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew) was grieving over the death of a dangerous driver husband (Prince Philip). Is this an episode in an ongoing drama – the strange death of Brexit Hard Right Britain?

Sources and Images :

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s Stormont-Westminster Double-Job Stroke Shot Down

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