Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Fourth International’ Category

Apologies and Recantations – The Strange Cases of two Elected Representatives from Ireland and England – Brian Stanley TD (Sinn Féin, Ireland) and Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour Party, England)

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We start with a tip, and two savage cartoons.

All political apologisers – such as the Sinn Féin Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley – forced to swallow and spit out his words of praise for IRA ambushes in 1920 and 1979 – do not believe any of the sentences they are forced to utter in humiliating public recantations!

Memorial Statue at Kilmichael Co. Cork, Commemorating an IRA 1920 Ambush of Black-and-Tan British Crown Forces

Nobody ever believes the recantation :

The same applies to apologies uttered under duress by former British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Steve Bell’s Cartoon, Banned by the British Guardian Newspaper
Steve Bell’s Cartoon, Banned by the British Guardian Newspaper?

Nobody believes the apologies. The effect is to censor debate on issues which ought to be publicly aired.

Every honest person knows Brian Stanley’s Kilmichael/Narrow Water Tweet about British soldiers successfully ambushed by the IRA in Ireland – Black-and-Tans (1920) and Parachute Regiment (1979) – is a public picture of his own personal opinion and the opinions of many members of his own party.

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Conspiracy Anti-Vaxers against Covid-19 lockdowns blend with far-right fascists – Irish and British Examples

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No to Racism Defend Our Public Health Workers – Minorities, Migrants, Homeless, Asylum Seekers, LGBTQ+Solidarity for Real Change

12 September 2020 | 1 PM
Assemble: GPO | O’Connell Street Dublin United Against Racism is organizing this rally in partnership with others and co-hosted by all organisations supporting it. For support and endorsements please email: info@united-against-racism.net…

https://www.facebook.com/events/653860718566358?active_tab=about

Congratulations to United Against Racism for calling this event. It needs to be supported by other organizations across the left, and mass membership organizations like trade unions.

Mass action is badly needed to confront and crush the racist far-right.

Professor Dolores Cahill, leader of far-right Irish Freedom Party

In Dublin, across Ireland and internationally the racist far right are using anti-mask, anti-vaccine and other fears to promote themselves and their racist agenda. In Dublin they mobilised up to 2000 at the Custom House on 22 August. In London, with the aid of Dolores Cahill (pictured above) from the Irish Freedom Party they put several thousand in Trafalgar Square.

In Berlin they mobilized up-to 30,000 and in the US they have been holding armed demonstrations. In Dublin they also rally regularly at the GPO on Saturdays. This is very dangerous; they must be exposed and opposed. At the heart of these mobilizations are individuals and organisations whose core agenda is to attack people of colour, migrants, minorities, asylum seekers, Muslims etc. but at present they are focusing on other prejudices, bigotries and COVID-19 fears and doing so in the name of an utterly perverted version of Irish nationalism that is an insult to Connolly and Pearse and all they stood for. They mounted a vile homophobic campaign against Green Party government minister Roderic O’Gorman.

DON’T ENDANGER OUR FRONT LINE WORKERS

ANTI-MASK IS ANTI – WORKER!

We can trust our healthcare workers who have risked their lives and are telling us first hand to wear a mask and follow the basic health advice. We can mind our health and criticize the government at the same time without the lies and conspiracy theories of the far-right.It is urgent that their lies are exposed and their influence is countered.The far-right have zero policies or interest in protecting civil liberties, defending workers, ending the housing crisis, improving the health system or uniting people. These are the same people that campaign against asylum seekers and refugees. They simply want to divide us and scapegoat vulnerable sections of our society which lets the government off the hook.We therefore call on all progressive organisations and individuals – trade unions and trade unionists, migrants rights organisations , anti-racists, LGBTQ+ activists, feminist activists, progressive political parties, environmental activists, housing activists – everyone who wants to defend public health and see a more just and equal country – to unite and oppose the far-right and their growth in IrelandWe in United Against Racism like to organise this rally in partnership with others and co-hosted by all organisations supporting it. For support and endorsements please email info@united-against-racism.netWe are planning to call for an organisers Zoom meeting next week 8 September 2020, 6.30PMJoin us for a peaceful, socially distant rally to give your support to our front line heroes in hospital; shops etc who are being put in danger by those who think COVID-19 is a conspiracy – not a disease.’This is will be a socially distances rally. Please wear a mask to protect yourself and others around you. Thank You!

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“Anti-Capitalist Resistance” – Planned launch 🚀 of new anti-capitalist organisation in England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 and Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

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Some convergence on the radical left is occurring in England and Wales. https://www.timetomutiny.org/. https://socialistresistance.org/

Anti-Capitalist Resistance

INITIAL STATEMENT, INVITATION, & PROGRAMME

Anti-Capitalist Resistance

A Weekend School:
Saturday/Sunday 12/13 September 2020

The radical left faces major challenges following the defeat of Corbynism and the consolidation of a new Labour leadership under Starmer. We also face a resurgent far right following Brexit, an unprecedented economic crisis, and the existential threat of climate chaos. Many left organisations and activists, inside and outside the Labour Party, are uncertain of the way forward. This is a moment of reflection and potential realignment. We must learn the lessons of the past and apply them in creating new socialist organisation fit for purpose in the 21st century.

The aim of this weekend school is to analyse the political situation we face and to consider launching a new, united, anti-capitalist organisation in England and Wales. (The political situation in Scotland is very different, though we wish to work closely with Scottish anti-capitalist organisations.)

What we stand for

We seek revolutionary transformation to meet the compound crisis of ecological disaster, economic collapse, social decay, grotesque inequality, mass impoverishment, growing militarisation, and creeping authoritarianism.

• We are internationalists, ecosocialists, and anti-capitalist revolutionaries. We oppose imperialism, nationalism, militarism, racism, misogyny, and homophobia. We stand in solidarity with all the oppressed at home and abroad, and we support all struggles from below against the system.

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Fascinating Extracts from a Stalin Biography – Mao got a lucky break – he was almost selected for a part in one of the infamous 1930’s Moscow Show Trials

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Victor Osprey reports :

Interesting passage from the second volume of the Stalin biography by Kotkin.

Especially notable here: after Hitler came to power, 41 of the 68 German Communists who fled to the Soviet Union would be put to death there.

When plans were made for a public trial of “Trotskyite-fascists” in the Comintern, it appears Mao was put on this tentative list of “Trotskyites”.

Donald Trump’s Anti-China “Cold War” – Capitalist China’s Hot War against Muslim Uighurs and the people of Hong Kong – Trump’s Hot War against the “Black Lives Matter” Movement

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A lot of tit-for-tat politicking is on the international political agenda. Shooting the messenger is a big temptation. Donald Trump is a hypocrite because he condemns China’s terrible human rights assaults on the Muslim Uighurs – while organising military tear-gassing assaults on “Black Lives Matter” street protests in his own country, the USA.

A correspondent notes the big problem with “shoot the messenger” politics (promoted by nocoldwar.org) :

Oppose all imperialist wars, hot or cold, but I think we can be safe in assuming that nothing will be said at this in solidarity with the Uighurs or independence movement in Hong Kong, unless they are denounced as agents of imperialism that is.

Do not mention the Muslim Uighurs in China, or Police Brutality on the streets of Hong Kong

What is a good collective noun to describe this sort of 21st Century politics? Pierre Rousset offers “Campism” and presents a clear example :

“campism” remains present in this field, like a Pavlovian reflex: satisfied for example to condemn imperialist intervention in Iraq and Syria (which it is certainly necessary to do), but without saying what Islamic State represents or calling to resist it. http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3669

“Stalinism”is out of date – the decrepit megalomaniac dictator of the Soviet Union, Stalin, died in 1953. Stalin’s leftwing fan club loyally defended every anti-worker crime performed by the Moscow Régime – “Socialism in One Country” in action.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, and no serious person on the revolutionary left bickers today about the class character of Putin’s Russia and Xe Jinping’s China – both are capitalist world powers. The fan club listed in the attached notice is of interest to trainspotters since it includes ex-Trotskyist renegades – a name which jumps out is the British China-based academic John Ross.

Let’s work on a positive alternative. We can take inspiration in Ireland from Easter 1916 Rising Rebel Roger Casement’s exemplary 19th and early 20th century campaign against Belgian imperialist brutality in the Congo. Similarly, the 21st century radical left needs to make principled alliances in support of the oppressed Uighur Muslims and the mass pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, oppressed by capitalist China.

Roger Casement’s lesson “when the status quo is injustice, the right thing to be is a rebel.”
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Electoralism: a real and present danger for the radical left everywhere – in Ireland the Dáil SPBP bloc avoids the trap : unconditional opposition to coalition with the FFFG et al right

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A publication in India, the Radical Socialist, offers a timely warning to radical socialists in every part of the globe :

Unless the lessons of the repeated political collapses in Sri Lanka are learnt, not only Sri Lankan Marxists, but those elsewhere in South Asia, who have learned also from the achievements of the Sri Lankan Marxists, may suffer politically. There is a need to examine, not merely in terms of mid 20th century history, but in terms of today’s class struggle, why the politics of electoralism, and of alliances with bourgeois parties (under the disguise that they are petty bourgeois parties, or ‘democratic’ parties, etc) can only lead to damages for the Trotskyist forces. We urge the Fourth International leadership to take it up as a burning political and educational issue, and take firm action. Collaborating with bourgeois oppositions is hardly restricted to Sri Lanka, and serious political discussions will benefit revolutionaries in India, at least. http://www.radicalsocialist.in/articles/statement-radical-socialist/899-radical-socialist-statement-on-sri-lankan-elections

What is the story in Ireland?

Gaining significant electoral victories is a key achievement of the radical left in Ireland since 1997, when Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party won a Dublin West Dáil seat. This electoral victory significantly helped to defeat government water charges plans promoted by the then main capitalist parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, which were aided by their serial coalition partners, the Labour Party.

Ups and downs in Irish radical left electoral fortunes have occurred from 1997 to 2020. This was an open question in 1997 : could the Dublin West victory of Joe Higgins be a minor Trotskyist blip on a stable bourgeois election landscape dominated by FFFG? It turned out this was not a blip. Higgins was the first TD who openly promoted a “Women’s Right to Choose” Abortion policy. He himself and members of his party actively promoted various pro-choice campaigns. The election of numerous radical left pro-choice deputies in 2011 and 2016 eventually forced the main right wing parties to allow a referendum repealing the anti-abortion 8th constitutional amendment. The result : a landslide victory for the pro-choice movement in Ireland and abroad. Here is one report written by USA activist Sarah Jaffe : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article5823

Today there is a 5 TD SPBP radical left bloc in Dáil Éireann. Three other deputies – Joan Collins, Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle – adopted the same anti-FFFGGG governmental policy as the SPBP bloc. This scenario was historic – it had never happened before, since the foundation of two partitioned states in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

Government Coalition with the Right? : Ghastly Results Revealed

The policy of the Irish radical left on coalition with right wing parties is clearly explained here by RISE Dublin South-West TD Paul Murphy :

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The struggle has moved far “Beyond Bernie” | International Socialism Project

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Mainstream USA politics is dominated by the Republican and Democratic parties, which are a Tweedledee-Tweedledum option.

An antidote for the radical left can be an erupting mass movement – a factor largely absent from the American continent for decades, but suddenly back in play since police officer Derek Chauvin choked gentle giant George Floyd to death in Minnesota.

The Black Lives Matter Movement has swept through the American continent, and detonated anti-racist protests across the globe, including Ireland.

First example : a wonderful mural in Tallaght, a working class district of Dublin, the constituency of RISE radical left TD Paul Murphy.

Annemarie Blake’s Mural Honouring George Floyd, Tallaght, Dublin

Second example : large Black Lives Matters demonstrations at the Ballsbridge American Embassy, a prosperous part of Ireland’s capital city.

Black Lives Matter Demonstration, USA Embassy, Ballsbridge, Dublin

Before the eruption of mass street-level struggle in the States, many sectors of the radical left made a valiant effort to break their isolation by critically supporting a left-wing candidate, Bernie Sanders, using the label of a Tweedledee party, the Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »

Bernadette Devlin retains Mid-Ulster Westminster Seat June 1970 – June 2020 campaigns because Black Lives Matter!

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50 years ago, on June 19 1970, Bernadette Devlin, an Independent socialist candidate, retained the Mid-Ulster Westminster seat she first won in a 1969 by-election. She continued to use these impressive electoral victories as platforms for building progressive mass movements. She is still a very committed political activist.

Viva Bernadette!

Bernadette McAliskey June 2020 – Black Lives Matter!

The RTÉ report below includes one significant mistake. In North Antrim the reactionary far-right rabble-rouser Ian Paisley won the North Antrim Westminster seat for the first time, unseating the sitting Unionist MP.

Protestant Unionist Paisley won the Stormont Bannside constituency in 1969, former seat of ex-Stormont Prime Minister Terence O’Neill, a right-winger not right wing enough for the Unionist Party.

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American Biden-Democrat “Hostility” to Trump – Not the same as “Opposition” – A Highly Recommended Article

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At times readers of online political commentary despair going through useless drudge that can be found on the internet. But if you keep at it, watch for sources you know are usually solid and reliable, you find excellent material. This article came to the attention of the Tomás Ó Flatharta blog via an FB friend Suzi Weissman.

https://www.kpfk.org/on-air/suzi-weissman/

It is a devastating, withering, attack on the Biden-Democrat “hostility” to the Trump administration – which is not the same as opposition. A stunning catastrophe looms now in the USA as the Trump Government “opens up” this land to the Covid-19 Monster at the Door of New York. Now, more than ever, the USA radical left must look towards the November 2020 General Election, and attempt to offer a credible alternative to the Evil Biden-Trump Tweedledee Monster. Shame on Bernie Sanders. The article concludes :

Bernie’s consistent criticism falls flat these days as he loyally signs on to the party consensus while trying to push additions and improvements. AOC is a lone voice in the wilderness daring to cast the occasional no vote.

What’s left are endangered and desperate people daring to walk off the job and appealing to their peers for support. We the people are on our own and must find our own way forward without waiting for leadership that doesn’t exist. By shedding illusions to the contrary, we open up new possibilities.

Hostility Is Not Enough – Resistance is Not Futile

An internal government document circulating in the United States projects a surge in coronavirus cases and a sharp rise in daily deaths by June 1, the New York Times reported, even as President Donald Trump urged states to lift restrictions in place to quell the pandemic.

The document, based on modelling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, projects that COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, will kill 3,000 Americans a day by the end of May, the Times said on Monday, up from a current daily toll about 2,000. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/model-projects-fold-increase-coronavirus-cases-200504185028572.html

Hostility Is Not the Same As Opposition – Resistance is Needed

There is hostility, which is not the same thing.

Opposition implies a critical analysis and an alternative program, that is, an examination of what is being done wrong, why this is so, and what should change. On all three points, the loudest non-Trump voices offer confusion, distraction, and hypocrisy, not leadership around which a movement could cohere.

What is wrong? Read the rest of this entry »

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