Tomás Ó Flatharta

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On the Turn to Industry, the American SWP and other questions of IMG history

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The IMG was the International Marxist Group, the British Section of the Fourth International (FI) in the 1970’s. This is an interesting Phi Hearse article for anoraks (!) who study the history of radical-left political currents. It analyses the Fourth International “Turn to Industry” Policy of 1979 and following years. This policy, in my opinion, contributed to a political decline of People’s Democracy (PD) in Ireland in the 1980’s – although that was not the only factor. We live and learn.

Others may make a different political judgement, and that’s OK. One of the FI people I worked closely with in the 1980’s was Gerry Foley, an early target of the American Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), which drove the FI “Turn to Industry” Policy at that time. However, for most of the 1970’s, Foley and me were on different sides in FI debates, and did not agree about the history of that period. Some of Foley’s co-thinkers were known for endlessly going on about “the ultra-left turn” of the 1969 FI World Congress, and guerillaism. That all happened before I joined the FI in 1974, when that debate was on the way towards a reasonably amicable conclusion. Even more bizarre, rival groups went on and on about “Pabloism” – a debate belonging to the 1950’s! These days you still come across comrades endlessly droning on about the 1969 World Congress – some of these people, like me, were not directly involved in those discussions at all! So, I do not endlessly drone on about the 1979 “Turn to Industry”. – John Meehan

An update, two observations from an online discussion :

Liam Mac Uaid :

A couple of observations to supplement what Phil has written.

The turn made very little sense in Ireland at the time. It was a period of mass emigration from a country with a very small industrial base. This was accentuated in the north by the fact that most of the skilled industrial jobs were not open to Catholics.

I remember informing the branch that I’d got the job in the sewers. My mother had said to me something along the line’s of “Tommy’s niece’s husband is looking for men to work in tunnels”. I’d been reading a lot about Vietnam at the time and it seemed a useful revolutionary field of knowledge.

There were a couple of American SWP members at the meeting on the revolutionary tourist circuit and they were very impressed by this application of the line.

The American SWP’s influence was ultimately quite pernicious internationally. The Barnes leadership were imitating the Mormons and sending people all over the place. Along with the Ross group they were encouraging people in Ireland to liquidate into Sinn Fein. A complete political liquidation would have been the only way to enter an organisation controlled by the Army Council. Those who followed their advice and are still politically active became part of the Provie grantocracy. Though the political degeneration was pretty rapid.

My first few months in England were no fun. I got a job in a chemical factory where the least lumpen worker was in the National Front. It was simply what the job centre had given me. This would have been the SWP US dream, but it was grinding and futile. As Phil says, comrades who got jobs in unionised, strategic jobs were able to do useful things.

This Jim Monaghan observation adds another interesting jig saw piece to the picture we paint : “My partner, Jackie, had an argument in New York with SWPers, when they refused to accept that large sectors of industrial employment was barred for nationalists in the 6 counties.”

John Meehan :

I remember an interesting turning point at one meeting. I am unsure about the exact date. I will try to find it. I had been warning for a few years against the “turners” and the dangers of the American SWP policy. I was making little progress inside PD. Then Malik Miah and another SWP turner – I think his name was McBride – were over for a PD Conference. A group of PD comrades met these two Americans privately. This meeting was set up by two firm supporters of the American apparatus. The idea was to draw in extra supporters. The baptism and brainwash manoeuvre backfired. Quickly afterwards one particular comrade made his way to me in a very determined fashion. This was a revelation moment. This comrade, who rejected the road to political and personal doom was Trutz Haase, a German Born guy who had settled in Dublin. Trutz said to me – I did not believe what you were saying about the American SWP and the Turn up till now – but you are right! I think the Americans were advocating that comrades get jobs in “heavy industry” which a) did not exist in Ireland at that time and b) we were going through one of those regular bouts of hideous mass unemployment. Trutz became a very supportive comrade to me, but also a very close and supportive friend – that friendship endured long after he dropped out of PD.

The following was written by Phil Hearse, in April 2020, in response to comments on the Socialist Resistance discussion list. We are grateful to Phil…

On the Turn to Industry, the American SWP and other questions of IMG history

An Evil King Rules an Afflicted Land: Coronavirus and the Depression in America – New Politicsm

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American Author and Activist Dan La Botz writes a grim assessment of the CoronaVirus Epidemic in America, and the related economic depression.

We in America live in what resembles some medieval fairy tale. An evil and maniacal king rules the plague stricken land. The wicked lords in the corrupt parliament rob the public coffers to enrich their cronies. The tribunes of the people, mostly venal and foolish, are alternately deceived or suborned by the King and the lords. Meanwhile many people are sick and many dying. The bodies pile up. The soothsayers blame it on the foreigners and plan pogroms. The mills have stopped; the inns and taverns have closed. Peasants rebel here and there but the plague prevents a general rebellion. Word has it the situation is the same in neighboring kingdoms all around.

That’s a fairy tale of course. What’s the reality? The United States now has nearly one million coronavirus cases and 50,000 deaths, more of both than any country in the world. We have an unemployment rate of 20 percent, the highest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The two together represent what is perhaps the greatest crisis in American history, an absolutely unprecedented event: a catastrophe. And it may only have just begun.

As the coronavirus has swept across the country bringing illness to hundreds of thousands and killing tens of thousands, Americans have been shocked by the failure of government, business, and the health system. As the number of sick mounted, there were not enough hospitals, not enough hospital beds, not enough ICUs, not enough ventilators. Hospital personnel have lacked gowns, masks, and respirators. As hospital workers fall sick or die there are not enough health workers to replace them. Some seven thousand elderly died in private nursing homes. The disease is now rampant in prisons. It is rife in meat packing plants, with 725 cases at the Smithfield plant in South Dakota. Twenty-six U.S. Navy ships have crews with coronavirus, including 850 sick on the huge 5,000-crewmember U.S.S. Roosevelt. Everywhere essential workers—bus drivers, garbage collectors, grocery cashiers, delivery workers—became sick and many have died, and neither business nor the governments that regulate these companies acted quickly to save them.
— Read on newpol.org/an-evil-king-rules-an-afflicted-land-coronavirus-and-the-depression-in-america/

The most depressing part of this analysis comes at the end, where the activities and analysis of the largest organisation on the American Activist Left, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), is described. Read the rest of this entry »

The SWP (USA) and Social Distancing: a Study in Abnormal Political Psychology

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Spacers, many of them religious groups in the USA, have placed themselves in grave danger by defying Covid-19 social distancing advice. One group of spacers, studied here by Louis Proyect, is politically motivated.

COUNTERPUNCH, APRIL 10, 2020 In the photo below, dated March 15, 2020, you will see a group of mostly senior citizens defying the call for social …

The SWP and Social Distancing: a Study in Abnormal Political Psychology

A doctor commented

It will be very sad, if somewhat ironic, were some these SWPers to end up having memorial meetings of their own because of their attending this one. As for closing meetings prior to the governmental instructions, I was instrumental in cancelling all social meetings for the support group that I help run for people with a neurological illness, a couple of weeks prior to the British government’s lock-down, on the basis that meeting in cafés was not a good idea, particularly for people with underlying health problems. As the SWP’s membership makes even me look somewhat young, and seeing how the Corona virus is especially dangerous to older folk, I would have thought that cancelling public meetings before having to by way of government fiat, would have been a good idea for the SWP to have implemented.

Another politically motivated individual who ignored physical distancing Covid-19 Advice was British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Keep Your Distance!

Written by tomasoflatharta

Apr 11, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Undaunted Sanders Supporters Announce They’ll Continue Presidential Campaign Without Candidate

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USA : Bernie Sanders Campaign for President Over, Dead, Extinct. November 2020 Main Candidates TweedleTrump & TweedleBiden. Does Radical Left propose Credible Presidential Campaign for November 2020? Sanders sits on 100 million $$$ – TweedleBiden SlushFund???

Satire, very accurate satire, very close to the bone :

NEW YORK—Stressing that they would not allow a minor bump in the road to prevent them from delivering true change, the nation’s undaunted Bernie Sanders supporters announced Wednesday that they would continue his 2020 presidential campaign without the candidate. “Time and again, the mainstream media has predicted the end of this campaign, and they will again try to spin losing our only candidate as the clear conclusion of Bernie’s run for the presidency—but they could not be more wrong,” said Peter Symanski, a 27-year-old Sanders supporter who echoed the sentiment of thousands across the country while describing the Vermont senator’s decision to drop out of the race as “an insignificant setback” on the path to bringing a progressive vision to the Oval Office in 2020. “They said this race was over after South Carolina, they said it was over after Super Tuesday. But with or without our candidate, we will soldier ahead with our plan to bring true change in November. This race isn’t close to over.” At press time, the unwavering followers of Sanders went on to vow that if they did not find success this year, they would likely keep running the 2020 campaign until the end of the decade.
— Read on www.theonion.com/undaunted-sanders-supporters-announce-they-ll-continue-1842759626

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Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – New World After the CoronaVirus War

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Guest Post : John Meehan calls for an international revolutionary tendency!

Once, in the mid-1980’s while attending an extremely serious international political congress, I briefly attracted the attention of a Latin American comrade so Deep in Thought about the world revolution, he wasn’t saying hello to bit players like me.

A deluded speaker had seriously suggested that Lenin’s 1915 formula – “turn the imperialist war into a civil war” – could be adapted to the prospect of an imminent 20th Century Nuclear War. Workers’ and Capitalists’ bombs would reduce the globe to smithereens. Out of the Doomsday Ashes, human survivors would create the Communist Garden of Eden, a new Valhalla :

Valhalla, Old Norse Valhöll, in Norse mythology, the hall of slain warriors, who live there blissfully under the leadership of the god Odin. Valhalla is depicted as a splendid palace, roofed with shields, where the warriors feast on the flesh of a boar slaughtered daily and made whole again each evening. They drink liquor that flows from the udders of a goat, and their sport is to fight one another every day.

Thus they will live until the Ragnarök(Doomsday), when they will march out the 540 doors of the palace to fight at the side of Odin against the giants. When heroes fall in battle it is said that Odin needs them to strengthen his forces for the Ragnarök.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Valhalla-Norse-mythology

A mischievous comrade – promoting the despised “pacifist” and “reformist” policy of abolishing all nuclear weapons – advised us that success for the Valhalla Doomsday Policy would leave our planet inhabited only by termites – the only living creatures capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust. Civil War For Termites Comrades?

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Biden: “We Have To Take Care Of The Cure That Will Make The Problem Worse No Matter What” | Video | RealClearPolitics

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Joe Biden is almost certain to be the American Democratic Party Presidential Candidate in November 2020.

Tariq Ali Brilliantly Translates a Baffling Biden Statement About the CoronaVirus into the English Language ;

People are puzzled by this one, but in fact, it’s Biden at his most lucid. What he’s saying is that he needs to be taken into care because even though he is the cure to the Trump virus he will make all the problems worse no matter what.

Comeback Kid 🧒 In Evil 👿 of Two Lessers Saloon

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Bluebottle Alert – British Prime Minister Johnson and his Health Minister Hancock Have the CoVid-19 Pox – Schadenfreude Moments

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Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, and Matt Hancock, British Health Minister, Got the Pox – “Ten Blue Bottles Sitting on a Wall; And if One Blue Bottle Should Accidentally Fall?; There’ll be Nine Blue Bottles Sitting on a Wall…”

New British Tory Party Logo

British Tory Bluebottle : “Bluebottles, like other flies, are often found on refuse tips, rotting animal matter, dirt and dustbins. They commute from filth to food and carry bacteria on their legs, feet and bodies.
Remedy
Keep dustbins clean, with tight lids and away from doors or windows.”

How did Johnson and Hancock become infected? A detective supplies a big clue

Shaking with Shock or Schadenfreude?

Schadenfreude :

Schadenfreude is a complex emotion, where rather than feeling sympathy towards someone’s misfortune, schadenfreude evokes joyful feelings that take pleasure from watching someone fail. This emotion is displayed more in children than adults. However, adults also experience schadenfreude, though generally concealed

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

A Charming Photo

Prince Charles of Britain Has a Pox

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Mike Finn Sympathises

The Gaff of British Prince Charles

Essential profits, replacable union leaders.

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“Keep Calm & Carry On” Johnson Tells Room Full Of Corpses – Waterford Whispers News

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Close to British CoronaVirus Reality

Vampire 🧛‍♂️ Inspects Victims

EVOKING the daring-do of the great generation that survived World War II, but won’t survive him, Britain’s PM Boris Johnson delivered an impassioned speech to a room of corpses which contracted and subsequently died from Covid-19.

“Keep calm and carry on, ” Johnson bellowed, delighted with how the markets have ‘rallied’ and the pound has ‘jumped up’ in response to his government’s prioritising of profit over people these past two weeks.

Despite the cold and stark surroundings of a near capacity morgue, Johnson, encouraged by the lack of dissenting voices among his captive audience, continued his speech full of vim and vigour.

“We shall socialise on the beaches, we shall congregate en masse on the landing grounds, we shall get pissed in the fields and in the streets, we shall lie to the hilt; we shall never surrender to logic and the haunting pleas from kindhearted nations begging us to save our own people and not make the same mistakes they did.”
— Read on waterfordwhispersnews.com/2020/03/20/keep-calm-carry-on-johnson-tells-room-full-of-corpses/