Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Internal Democracy’ Category

Pat O’Connor 1948-2015, Limerick Socialist, Supporter of the Fourth International

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cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/left-archive-pat-oconnor-limerick-based-socialist-1948-2015-published-2015/

Recently, following prompts by Pádraig Malone, I forwarded material celebrating the life and political activities of the late Pat O’Connor to the Irish Left Archive site.

A 21 year old Pat O’Connor is holding the placard saying “PD [People’s Democracy] Opposes Racism”. 1970 demonstrations against the touring South African 
All-White Rugby Team.

Readers can find links to to that material in two PDF’s below. The pamphlet link includes the text of a speech I delivered at a 2015 memorial meeting for Pat. A second link is a copy of an obituary submitted to the Limerick Leader newspaper written by myself and Cian Prendiville.

John Meehan December 7 2020

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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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Irish Left Unity: a new round of engagement in a year of change, 2020

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Guest post by Des Derwin

The period before and since the general election has produced a renewed interest in left unity. There have been many contributions on it from across a wide sweep of the left.
There are several direct proposals for unity, or more unity.
As a small assistance to all this I have compiled links to and extracts from most of the leading interventions, since the general election, in the new round of interest in left unity. The collection is below.
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Irish Left Unity: a new round of engagement in a year of change, 2020. 

Links to and extracts from selected articles, posts, podcasts and interviews.

 

1. Jacobin; Michael Taft: ‘This Month’s Elections in Ireland Are a Historic Opportunity’, 2nd January 2020

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/02/ireland-elections-fine-gael-fianna-fail

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2. Rise website: ‘Why a Combined Left Challenge in the General Election is Essential’, 6th Jabuary 2020.

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/why-a-combined-left-challenge-in-the-general-election-is-essential

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3. Paul Murphy TD, speaking at the ‘Stop the Stitch Up’ rally, Dublin 7th March 2020.

“We need to build a mass political party of the left which is open to different trends, to be organised within, and to represent working class people.”

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4. RISE website: ‘After Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, what next?’ by Diana O’Dwyer, 20th February 2020

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/after-fianna-fil-and-fine-gael-what-next

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5. From: RISE website: ‘We need a socialist government’, 7th March 2020.

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/we-need-a-socialist-government

“Build a new mass left-wing party

There is a desperate need for a mass political party of the left. Because of Sinn Féin’s acceptance of the capitalist market and its hesitancy to engage with people-power movements, it will not be that party.
None of the existing radical left parties are likely to grow directly into that mass left party either. Instead, we need a left party that is anti-capitalist, anti-coalition and anti-oppression, while being open for different groups to organise within it.
RISE and our TD, Paul Murphy, wants to work with others to build such a party. While fighting for every reform in the here and now, we are a revolutionary socialist group that sees the need to end the rule of the bosses and big corporations.”
Left Unity Needed for Socialist Green New Deal

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6. RISE website: ‘No going back, but what’s ahead’ by Cian Prendiville, 1st May 2020.

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/no-going-back-but-whats-ahead

“This new era will pose new challenges and opportunities for the socialist left.
The recent general election was a brush with fate. The fractured socialist left took blows, but kept on our feet, holding onto most of our seats. This shows that a certain base of support for socialist TDs has been built. A Sinn Fein surge squeezed our vote, and we struggled to respond in a positive and principled way. In too many places the left split its vote, costing perhaps two seats and putting a third at risk. We should learn from that, and strengthen the left for the future.RISE’s proposals for a combined left challenge are a good starting point.
The truth is, this isn’t a bad place to begin. Just before the 2008 crash, Sinn Fein had 5 Dail seats, now it is the largest party in the state. Crisis changes everything.
Back then the socialist left had no seats. Now on the cusp of another major turn, we are the ones with 5 seats. We are the ones with the ideas to change the world. A desire for a radically different and better world is growing every day.
Let’s make this the decade of that revolution.”

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7. Irish Broad Left blog: ‘Uniting the Left to fight for an ecosocialist united Ireland’ by Cian McMahon, 6th June 2020.

https://irishbroadleft.com/2020/06/06/uniting-the-left-to-fight-for-an-ecosocialist-united-ireland/?fbclid=IwAR22GKSsaXbJWoISzYkC5-m2H5MOzxXqrkF6Bp-FYTF-cZrSZ-tfteQDRWQ

oooOOOooo. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Publication from the Irish Radical Left – RISE launches Rupture

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You can pre-order RUPTURE now at http://rupture.ie

The publication is launched online on Wednesday July 29 at 8.00pm Irish Time. RISE is represented in Dáil Éireann by the Dublin South-West TD Paul Murphy. More here : https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/02/27/to-all-of-them-we-say-rule-out-coalition-with-fianna-fail-and-fine-gael-sinn-fein-should-seek-to-lead-an-alternative-minority-government-interview-with-paul-mu/

What is RUPTURE?

Rupture – [ruhp-cher]
noun

  1. A revolution i.e. a break with the capitalist system, as in “A conscious working-class movement is needed to organise a rupture with capitalism”
  2. A break with the past (especially with the failed methods of the old left, the reformism of social democracy and the sectarianism that has impaired the revolutionary left).
  3. Disrupting dogma, thinking again (and admitting we don’t know everything).
  4. Ireland’s new eco-socialist quarterly produced by RISE.

From all corners of the world, the working class will respond with explosive movements. Furious worldwide protests against racist police violence are a harbinger of things to come. We face an ideologically weakened, politically fractured, and debt-burdened capitalist class that will not hesitate to devour the earth and all life on it in its pursuit of profit.

How should Marxists respond? 

A new period demands new strategy, new tactics, and new forms of organisation. We must shake off the outdated schema and rid ourselves of ineffective and anachronistic methods. While working to construct a mass revolutionary party, we must strive to be more democratically organised and organically connected to all the real movements of workers and the oppressed.

So too with our theory and analysis. While developing Marxist methods, we must broaden the terrain upon which we apply them – from capitalist social relations to the metabolic rift that capitalism has forced between nature and humanity.

Rupture is a contribution to that effort from RISE. In each issue, we aim to analyse current trends in capitalist society, explore new ideas and research to expand our understanding, and attempt to answer the question facing all revolutionaries – what is to be done in the 21st century?

https://www.letusrise.ie/rupture

Left Greens in Ireland Organising Internally – and Saoirse McHugh Leaves calling for “an actual eco-socialist party”

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This is a rapidly moving story. Saoirse McHugh’s departure from the Green Party in Ireland is no surprise to readers of this blog :

https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/07/11/saoirse-mchugh-is-leaving-the-irish-green-party/

McHugh signed a “Just Transition Greens” (JTG) statement which did not address a key question : rejection of coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – actively opposing the current FFFGGG government. Active Opposition to the Maradkar-Ryan coalition is the accelerating direction of travel. Saoirse McHugh signed the the JTG statement, and has left the Green party. She directly calls on the JTG to break off from the Ryan-Greens and form “an actual eco-Socialist party”.

Saoirse McHugh – “Form an actual eco-socialist party”
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The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born – call the midwife – Ireland needs a new left party

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cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/the-old-world-is-dying-and-the-new-world-struggles-to-be-born-call-the-midwife-ireland-needs-a-new-left-party/

This is an excellent post from the Cedar Lounge Revolution Blog.

The author is a former member of the Socialist Party, who highlights the need for an organisation which is internally democratic and is not ultimately controlled by privileged components which make all the decisive decisions – in other words a significant departure from the SWN controlled PBP and the SP controlled Solidarity.

Here is the introduction :

Thanks to Shane Faherty for allowing this to be reposted. Much appreciated. Originally posted on

Modern Distortions Culture, society and history, at the beginning of the month.

 

In keeping with the spirit of our times, on Tuesday I watched an online ‘meeting’ with Paul Murphy TD of RISE (formerly of the Socialist Party/ Solidarity) and Brid Smith TD of People Before Profit. It was a virtual version of the public meeting that most of us on the left know, but may not necessarily love.

Paul Murphy TD RISE – Leaflet, General Election, February 8 2020

Campaigners supporting Paul Murphy TD, February 8 2020 General Election

I wanted to know whether the new party being mooted was a runner and what form it would take. Paul’s organisation RISE have been making overtures to members of the Green Party who may be disillusioned with their party entering government with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. He argues that they should leave the party and, along with other groups on the left, launch a new party. Similarly, People Before Profit released a statement proposing the formation of a new left party. Another small group called Independent Left, many of whom are former PBP members, released a statement welcoming the move. The elephant in the room in all of this is that Rise and People Before Profit are part of a parliamentary grouping called Solidarity – People Before Profit. Solidarity have said nothing on all of this. Solidarity and People Before Profit operate a marriage of convenience for electoral and parliamentary purposes. Until last year, they were evenly matched electorally, with 3 TDS and just under 30 councillors each, based on significant gains made at the previous local and general elections. The local elections of 2019 reduced the numbers of councillors for each party. There were gains for Sinn Fein and the Greens, and this was an indication of things to come.

This analysis hits the nail on the head Read the rest of this entry »

Bobby Storey has passed away – Suzanne Breen reviews the life of a Peace Process IRA soldier

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Most lives contain a mix of the Good, Bad, and Ugly. The long war in the bit of Ireland 🇮🇪 directly controlled by Britain 🇬🇧 finished in the 1990’s, and was, according to the Official Version (OV), replaced by peace. We are all expected to go along with the OV, while the British and Irish ruling classes protect their own interests. We are supposed to Keep Up Appearances (KUA)!

OV’s and KUA are politically lethal. People rise to the top who are masters of loyalty to leadership hierarchies, which protect reactionary unethical behaviour. Bobby Storey was a very talented man. According to former Long Kesh prisoner Anthony McIntyre Storey held his nerve during a daring 1983 prison escape :

McIntyre said that when the 1983 escape started going wrong after the prisoners reached the Maze tally lodge Storey took control of the situation. “He held it together, thought on his feet, and directed people as to what to do. I later asked him how he’d managed that. He said he had been as terrified as everybody else, but the trick lay in overcoming those feelings and getting the job done.”

Storey probably masterminded the 2004 Northern Bank robbery and a 2002 IRA raid of British Secret Service Headquarters in Castlereagh. In both instances the Peace Process motored along very smoothly. KUA triumphed. The organisation which robbed the bank raid and broke into Castlereagh was supposed to be on a ceasefire. And there was a dark side – Bobby Storey was totally loyal to a party leadership which protected its own interests. Gerry Adams never had to account for the disappearance of Jean McConville. How much else is hidden from view?

Keeping Up Appearances – the Chuckle Sisters

Bobby Storey, and his organisation, prop up a Stormont Parliament in Belfast, run by a corrupt politician called Arlene Foster, responsible for a major financial scandal, the Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI). Keeping Up Appearances.

After Bobby Storey’s death, his republican organisation sheds another republican principle – abolition of the non-jury Special Criminal Court in the 26 County State. Keeping up appearances, as the facade crumbles : https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/abolish-the-special-criminal-court-it-will-die-if-an-irish-government-is-not-formed-on-june-30-but-sinn-fein-and-the-labour-party-are-riding-to-rescue-it/

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Bobby Storey Was Gerry Adams’ Beria | The Broken Elbow

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Ed Moloney compares Bobby Storey, the lieutenant of Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with Lavrentiy Beria, the number two of Russian dictator Josef Stalin from the late 1930’s till he was executed in infamy after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Beria had a grisly CV

Beria attended the Yalta Conference with Stalin, who introduced him to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “our Himmler“. After the war, he organised the Communist takeover of the state institutions in Central Europe and Eastern Europe and political repressions in these countries. Beria’s uncompromising ruthlessness in his duties and skill at producing results culminated in his success in overseeing the Soviet atomic bomb project. Stalin gave it absolute priority, and the project was completed in under five years.After Stalin’s death in March 1953, Beria became First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union and head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In this dual capacity, he formed a troika, alongside Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov, that briefly led the country in Stalin’s place. A coup d’état by Nikita Khrushchev, with help from Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov in June 1953, removed Beria from power. He was arrested on charges of 357 counts of rape and treason. He was sentenced to death and was executed on 23 December 1953.

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

Bobby Storey’s CV is not pretty, especially in relation to the people “disappeared” by the IRA in the 1970’s. Another Beria? Stalin’s lieutenant was a much more sinister figure.

I also suspected then and more so later, that such was his uncritical adoration of the Big Lad that he was either naive in the extreme about Adams, what drove him and where he was going politically, or that he chose cynically to ignore the obvious.

My suspicions in this regard were rooted in  the episode I know best about Storey’s relationship with Gerry, and that was about the disappearance of Jean McConville.

In pursuit of the fiction that none of this had anything to do with him, Adams had given Storey the job of finding out what had happened to Mrs McConville, who had been involved in her disappearance and, most importantly, where her remains had been buried.

This was at a point in the peace process when clearing up the issue of the ‘disappeared’ had assumed urgency and priority, so much so that Bill Clinton had taken sides in favour of justice for the disappeared.

For Adams to ask Storey to find out what happened to Jean McConville was like Stalin asking Beria to discover who gave the order to bury an icepick in Trotsky’s skull. Gerry knew, and knows more about what happened to Jean McConville and why, and who was involved in her ‘disappearance’ and how, than anyone still living.

When Storey went to interview Dolours Price he was, according to her account to me, astonished to hear her side of the story, which was of course that Gerry had given the order to ‘the unknowns’ to send Jean McConville to her maker. Clearly Gerry had denied all knowledge and put the blame on others, especially Ivor Bell, a line the British state and their police chiefs dutifully followed in later years.
— Read on thebrokenelbow.com/2020/06/21/bobby-storey-was-gerry-adams-beria/

Many loyal Sinn Féin supporters will not care :

The RUC, who rarely made any secret of their hatred for Storey, had no doubt that he was one of the planners behind the Provos’ mass breakout from the Maze in 1983 when 38 terrorists escaped after a prison officer was killed.

Storey later described the escape as a “great achievement” for the IRA, who he said had “shafted Margaret Thatcher”.

Detectives were also convinced that Storey was the principle organiser of the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004 that netted the IRA £26million.

But he was never charged in connection with it.

And although he spent a total of 20 years behind bars, Storey had an uncanny record of eluding convictions on a litany of other terrorist charges down the years.

Police claimed witnesses were too scared in some cases to testify against him. 

But Sinn Fein claimed police operated a policy of internment by remand for Storey who was a lifelong republican from a republican family.

Talking about his life in a rare interview, Storey said his family had to move when he was a child from their north Belfast home after loyalist attacks on their area.

And he claimed that it was the bombing of McGurk’s bar, where 15 people were killed in 1971 and Bloody Sunday just a few months later, that shaped his future, prompting him to join the IRA at the age of 16.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/the-hardest-of-hard-men-bobby-storey-was-feared-by-opponents-and-republicans-39303502.html

Lessons?

The leader is not always right. Leadership cults should be mocked.

Armando Iannucci relentlessly tears the Stalin cult to pieces in this film.

And, we should honour the memory of many innocent victims whose lives were wrecked by Lavrentiy Beria.

Brilliant Mockery of the Stalin Cult

Lavrentiy Beria and his loyal Stalinist killers

The Workers’ Party in Ireland Splits Again

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thebrokenelbow.com/2020/06/19/what-if-they-held-a-split-and-no-one-came-or-is-the-workers-party-about-to-disappear-up-its-own-orifice/

Gavin Mendel-Gleason, a supporter of the WP wing which has expelled the “northern business committee” makes a statement open to possible alarming interpretations :

While they would have been afraid to move with Sean Garland still alive, they saw their chance with his death.

A sister party in the foreign fields of North Korea is also called the Workers’ Party.

Seán Garland outside an Irish court while successfully contesting a US extradition request over alleged North Korean counterfeiting of “SupetDollars”

Was the WP northern business committee trying to avoid a fate similar to the late Kim Jong-Nam after he fell out with his brother Kim Jong-Un?  Presumably Gavin Mendel-Gleason does not have the same clout as Seán Garland or the leaders of the Kim dynastic family? Read the rest of this entry »

Reading Lenin in the light of the collapse of the SWP and the ISO – Independent Left – Conor Kostick

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Conor Kostick, a supporter of the Irish Independent Left Organisation, offers an interesting analysis of the problems facing the radical left in Ireland and across the globe.

In 2013, not long after the British SWP went into dramatic convulsions over the way their party failed to support a young member in her allegation that a very much older and more senior member had raped her, I had reason to be in Chicago. While there I met up with the International Socialist Organisation (at the time a relatively successful example of a revolutionary party), gave a talk on Ireland’s revolutionary years and attended a dayschool of theirs on Lenin and the revolutionary party. The bookstall had copies of studies of Lenin by Lars Lih, Paul Le Blanc and Tony Cliff.

Anyone wanting to encourage the development of a revolutionary party has, of course, to form an opinion of Lenin. Before the ISO fell out with their British equivalents (i.e. the SWP), their approach to Lenin would have been profoundly if not exclusively shaped by the British SWP and in particular by the leading figure in that party, Tony Cliff. It interested me that the ISO had a wider outlook on the subject than was usual in the SWP and the enthusiasm of the bookstall organiser meant that I came away with a copy of Paul Le Blanc’s Lenin and the Revolutionary Party.

The cover of Paul Le Blanc’s Lenin and the Revolutionary Party
This book was first published in 1990 and I had never read it because having inhabited a rather closed-minded organization, I felt there was little that someone closely aligned to the politics of Ernest Mandel would have to say on the subject that would be useful. After all, as I was told and believed at the time, I had been guided in my understanding of Lenin by someone with vastly superior politics to those of Mandel: Tony Cliff. More than this, as an SWP organiser in the UK and then in Ireland I had always used Cliff’s Lenin: Building the Party as the essential text for explaining the theory behind SWP party-building methods to those members who I anticipated would go on to play leading roles in their branches and nationally.
— Read on independentleft.ie/reading-lenin/

I have not read the books Conor refers to. I have read (and re-read) a different book about Lenin, Marcel Liebman’s “Leninism Under Lenin” – which belongs to, broadly speaking, the Ernest Mandel tradition which Conor describes.

The opening paragraph of this review might persuade readers that time spent reading Liebman on Lenin would not be wasted : Read the rest of this entry »