Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Fourth International’ Category

A Tribute to Francesca (1936-2023) by Dave Kellaway

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This is a very affectionate tribute to an Italiam woman written by her son-in-law, Dave Kellaway. It comes from Dave’s facebook page.

The badante (live-in-home carer) system in Italy

Dave Kellaway’s description of the Italian state’s support system enabling unhealthy older people to finish their lives at home will interest readers in Ireland – where a similar system could easily be established.

A key reason why they have been able to stay together is the badante (live-in home carer) system that exists in Italy. Nearly entirely made up of legal or so called ‘illegal’ migrants from South Asia, Eastern Europe or the Phillipines the badantes live 24/7 with a day off a week looking after Italy’s infirm older people. Scandalously the present hard right Meloni government is always talking about an invasion of migrants and encourages racism towards them. However without this army of wonderful carers the old age welfare system would collapse. We have been very lucky with the most tender, skilled carers from Kerala, South India. Anton, Mariam and George have been essential for helping Ciro and Francesca to spent their final years together. Thank you for your service and love.


I don’t always write much about personal matters but my mother in law just died this week and I found myself wanting to write about her life – her struggles and success and how she was so welcoming to me. I have produced this memoir which is longer than the usual facebook post:


Part of the reason why I wanted to write this memory of my mother-in-law is that we need to respect and value the lives of those who are not lauded publicly, who are not elected, selected or the winner of prizes. Working class lives, particularly women, are particularly hidden from history. The priest came just now to bless the body and talked about gratitude. He was right, whether you are a believer or not, we need to show true gratitude to the lives of people who loved us, who gave up stuff to help us thrive.
Francesca grew up in some of the world’s more exclusive tourist spots on the Amalfi coast in Ravello and Albori. Her childhood was far from relaxing or contemplative. Childhood was different for people growing up as tenant farmers in poor rural areas. Nicola, her younger brother, went North to live and work with an uncle in Ivrea, near Turin when he was eleven. Her sister remembers when they used to gather wood in the hills of Albori to exchange for bread in Vietri on the coast.
After the end of fascism and the Second World War, she left school at 8 years old to help her parents work the land. Life was tough after the war as economic activity slowly recovered. She was born too early for the Italian state to ensure she stayed in school to become literate. Numbers, on the other hand, she learnt from an early age. Learning comes quickly if you need the money from selling lemons or milk. Everything depends on getting the prices right and counting the change properly. Francesca carried that skill throughout her life. She was the one who was in charge of the household accounts, the savings and much, much later, the prized house purchase.
Francesca’s own mother was not always supportive of her developing skills or interests than did not meet the needs of the household as she saw them. For example when she wanted to meet her future mother in law for the first time, she had secretly made her own dress without her mother’s permission. She even made another dress for her little sister, Maria, who was chaperoning her on this visit. Life was difficult in poor families and mothers were particularly harsh at times with their daughters who were expected to do lots of household chores. People who are familiar with the books (now a TV series) of Elena Ferrante – My Brilliant Friend – can see how tough, even cruel, parents could be at that time.
On 24 January, she passed away. I look at her skeletally thin body, grey pallor and sunken eyes as she lies out before her funeral. Then I remember just how fit, strong and healthy she always was until the shock of a life threatening operation for colon cancer three years ago. I remember once being called down to the front gate of her apartment block to give a hand to bring some packages in. I was amazed to see her coming up the stairs with a huge package on her head! She was well into her 60s at that stage.
How the strength has drained from her. At twenty years old she married Ciro and moved to Marini – a village in the hills above Cava dei Tirreni. There she used to milk the cows every morning and then carry the two ten litre cans three kilometres down the hill to sell in Molina near the coast. I know the area well, it’s really steep! The path in those days was a bit scary in places and you had to navigate a live railway line and bridge. Her eldest daughter, Carmela, remembers falling down one day with her mum. At least the cans were empty on the walk back up.

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Written by tomasoflatharta

Jan 31, 2023 at 12:56 am

Ukrainian Action on Ireland; Free Russians Ireland; Women Life Freedom (Iran) – Dublin City Protests January 22 2023 – Russian Troops out of Ukraine Now

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Irish Left With Ukraine activists attended two well-supported Dublin city protests on January 22 2023 connected to the genocidal Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Free Russians Ireland event at Stephens Green/Grafton St. was supported by over 80 citizens, including Women-Life-Freedom, an Iranian-led solidarity organization. Similar numbers supported the Ukrainian Action Ireland protest on the Halfpenny Bridge.

 Free Russians Ireland, which regularly works with Women-Life-Freedom, is a striking instance of woman led protests and solidarity.

Gregor Kerr photographed the Ukrainian Action Ireland Protest at the Halfpenny Bridge https://m.facebook.com/FreeRussiansIreland?eav=AfblU6Xlq_0_WZroeEfTwK93iOqoLz-1S7oKFbmqNucT4NYMrng6ZvHGuI90JO1sjgA&paipv=0

Irish Left With Ukraine supports calls for mass action against the Imperialist Genocidal Russian invasion of Ukraine on dates around the first anniversary of the invasion, February 24 2023.

Towards a global week of action for solidarity with Ukraine

Stop the Russian war of aggression! Peace for Ukraine!

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The Strange Rebirth of Stalinism – Colm Breathnach (Independent Left)

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THE STRANGE REBIRTH OF STALINISM

THE STRANGE REBIRTH OF STALINISM

The editors of this blog offer recommended reading – an article By of the Irish Left-Wing organization Independent Left.

Source : https://independentleft.ie/rebirth-of-stalinism/

A more colourful literary description of this phenomenon was offered by Yuliya Yurchenko at a November 2022 Dublin public meeting organised by Irish Left With Ukraine. The Ukrainian Marxist and Feminist offered us the idea that the USSR is dead – it is not coming back. The worst features of the dead ☠️ USSR have been imported into a new capitalist-imperialist-genocidal monster headed by Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. The good bits have been discarded and killed off permanently. Think of Stephen King’s horror story Pet Sematary :

A well-tended path leads to a pet cemetery(misspelled “sematary” on the sign) where the children of the town bury their deceased animals.

A cat called Church dies, then :

after Church is run over outside his home around Thanksgiving. Rachel and the kids are visiting Rachel’s parents in Chicago, but Louis frets over breaking the bad news to Ellie. Sympathizing with Louis, Jud takes him to the “sematary”, supposedly to bury Church. But instead of stopping there, Jud leads Louis farther on to “the real cemetery”: an ancient burial ground that was once used by the Miꞌkmaq Tribe. There, Louis buries the cat on Jud’s instruction. The next afternoon, Church returns home; the usually vibrant and lively cat now acts ornery and, in Louis’s words, “a little dead”. Church hunts for mice and birds, ripping them apart without eating them. He also smells so bad that Ellie no longer wants him in her room at night. Jud confirms that Church has been resurrected and that Jud himself once buried his dog there when he was younger. Louis, deeply disturbed, begins to wish that he had not buried Church there.

WHAT IS STALINISM?

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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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Stop the bombing! Russian troops out! Solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance! – Global Week of Action Against the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and for Solidarity with Ukraine – February 20-26 2023

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The European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine (ENSU) and its Irish supporters (Irish Left With Ukraine) are working with other organisations and individuals for a full Russian withdrawal, and social Justice for Ukraine.

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Russia’s Road Toward Fascism

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Sunday 1 January 2023, by POPOVYCH Zakhar

Source : https://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article65239

WAR IN UKRAINE is plunging more and more into massacre but possibly the worst is about to come. Mass killings of prisoners and civilians, numerous and systematic rape in Russian-occupied territories are now “normal” news from Ukraine. Millions could be killed this winter by freezing alive in their apartments without heat, water and electricity.

The daily count of dead is far higher than at any moment of the Donbas wars of 2014-2021. According to reports from both sides, the death toll probably exceeds 100,000 from the beginning of the war, and may now be higher than a thousand combatants and civilians daily. [1]

Not just the scale but the cruelty of violence is steadily rising and Russian state propaganda is systematically pushing for escalation. If it is not genocide yet, the ideology for eliminating Ukrainians in the millions is already announced on Russian state TV, and by high-ranking officials.

Russians claim it is “denazification,” but it turns closer and closer to the ideology of fascism and Nazi state practices. [2] It is hard to say how deep Ukraine will dive into this abyss of terror, but it is clear that withdrawal of Russian troops is the best way to “denazify” Ukraine — and possibly Russia.

In October, Russian armed forces began systematic attacks against the Ukrainian electricity grid and civilian infrastructure including water supply facilities of the major cities. These activities don’t have immediate military significance and don’t influence Ukrainian armed forces’ ability to fight. But these attacks are affecting the chances of the civil population to survive this winter.

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Call for solidarity actions with anti‑war activists in Russia – Week of January 19 to 24

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The article below is written by Ilya Budraitskis on behalf of The Russian Socialist Movement. Source : https://anticapitalistresistance.org/call-for-solidarity-actions-with-anti-war-activists-in-russia/

Irish Left With Ukraine will work with other organisations and individuals answering this call.

See also : https://www.tempestmag.org/2023/01/to-remember-is-to-fight/?fbclid=IwAR0WOTwC6AqdjHclwo59krczHCaYZPE39Av4HxNTXW1ZuySXwwI9t9Qhf3g – Tempest shares the call of the Russian Socialist Movement for solidarity with Russian anti-war and anti-fascist activists.

For over a decade, Russian antifascists have commemorated January 19 as their day of solidarity. This is the date when in 2009, in the center of Moscow, the human rights and leftist activist Stanislav Markelov and the journalist and anarchist Anastasia Baburova were gunned down by neo-Nazis.

The murder of Markelov and Baburova became the culmination of the ultra-right terror of the 2000s, which killed hundreds of migrants and dozens of anti-fascists. For many years, while it was still possible, Russian activists held antifascist demonstrations and rallies on January 19 under the slogan “To remember is to fight!”

Today, when the Putin regime has invaded Ukraine and unleashed unprecedented repression against its own citizens who oppose the war, the date of January 19 takes on a new meaning. Back then the danger was posed by neo-Nazi groups, often acting with the connivance of the authorities.

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Tributes to Arend van de Poel, Librarian at the International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)

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I met Arend van de Poel on a small number of occasions. He was great company. He is pictured below with his IIRE colleague Alex de Jong. Colleagues and Comrades who knew Arend much better than me have written warm and interesting tributes – see below :

John Meehan, January 7 2023

Alex De Jong and Arend van de Poel, with books donated by the late Hungarian Marxist George (György) Hodos – at the International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)

Maral Jefroudi :

We lost our dear comrade, librarian at IIRE, Arend van de Poel last Wednesday.
He was one of a kind (nevi şahsına münhasır in Turkish) person.
I am glad I could enjoy his friendship (Enjoy?! he would be surprised)- his reactions could be compared to the famous grumpy cat.
He hated vegetables, loved cats, and didn’t enjoy hospitals…
We would talk about a lot of random stuff besides politics, from jogging to playing piano and he would listen to my ventings periodically.
Also he was one of the few old white men who understood the current debates on race, gender, and sexuality and managed to be an anti-racist, anti-sexist socialist being at the right side of the debates.

I will miss him a lot…

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Social Movement (Ukraine): Looking back at 2022

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Social Movement (Ukraine) [Sotsialniy Rukh] is a left-wing organisation. These comrades have published a review of 2022, which is full of interesting news. The organisation participates in the European Network for Solidarity With Ukraine (ENSU).

Irish Left With Ukraine (ILWU) was honoured to hold a public meeting about Ukraine in November 2022 – the main speaker was Sotsialniy Rukh comrade Yuliya Yurchenko, who was joined on the platform by spokespersons affiliated to the Irish Trade Union movement.

Summing up :

2022 was a difficult year for all of us. We hope that 2023 will be better. We will work just as hard for a social, independent and just Ukraine, and we wish everyone security, victory and social progress in the new year.

January 1, 2023 Source : https://ukraine-solidarity.eu/to-read/social-movement-ukraine-looking-back-at-2022?fbclid=IwAR2pxU3Kl5MegBhKSoDgz37CUalhQJ24sR2izZrMOo8fvO7yjC3eOsNqrTg
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Irish Left Archive Podcast Number 44: Vincent Doherty: Official Sinn Féin, International Marxist Group, Troops Out, People’s Democracy, H-Block Committee, Sinn Féin – reblogged from The Cedar Lounge Revolution

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I first met Vincent Doherty in the late 1970’s via People’s Democracy and the Fourth International. Since then we travelled on different political paths, while remaining on very good personal terms. In 2022 Vincent and me – along with a group of left-wing activists who come from different but complementary streams of the Irish Left – have been working actively together in the Irish Left With Ukraine organization.

The comrades who publish the Cedar Lounge Revolution Blog come from a stream of the Irish Left which is different from Vincent Doherty and me. But we converge politically in 2022 on a very decisive issue – the genocidal imperialist Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On the left nothing stands still. There is a strong mistaken current dominant of the Irish Marxist left which does “what if” interpretations of historical events. This interview avoids that approach. It is much better to accept the past, warts and all. We cannot change the past, but we can with 20-20 vision learn from our history. We can apply that knowledge to the present day and the immediate future – which we can influence.

Rayner Lysaght Tribute – Irish Labour History Society Event

Rayner Lysaght RIP (January 30 1941 – July 2 2021) was a close comrade of Vincent and me for many years in People’s Democracy and the Fourth International. The Irish Labour History Society staged a commemorative tribute in honour of Rayner on May 14 2021. I delivered the speech below, which also deals with some of the events described by Vincent Doherty.

John Meehan January 2 2023

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