Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Left Unity’ Category

The Two Versions of Bernie Sanders

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This online exchange is between an American Correspondent Louis N Proyect and some of Louis’s online friends including David McDonald. It makes a lot of practical political sense to me. – John Meehan

“There are two versions of Bernie Sanders – There is the old Bernie Sanders who mounted a quixotic campaign for the Democratic Presidential Nomination as a Democratic Socialist who refused corporate cash and excoriated Democrats. And there is the new Bernie Sanders who dutifully plays by the party’s rules, courts billionaires, refused to speak out in support of the lawsuit brought against the DNC for rigging the primaries against him and endorses democratic candidates who espouse the economic and political positions he once denounced.

Sanders, although he knew by September 2016 that the process was rigged, said nothing to his supporters. He was tacitly complicit in the coverup. It was left to one of the architects of the fraud, Donna Brazile, to reveal the scam. But by then it was too late.

Sanders’ capitulation in the face of overwhelming evidence of the rigging of the nomination process was political and moral cowardice. He missed the historical moment, one that should have seen him denounce a corporate-dominated party elite and walk away to build a third party candidacy.

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A simple warning for the Green Party: don’t screw us on this

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Saoirse McHugh, a Green Party Candidate in the February 8 2020 Irish General Election, recommends this Carl Kinsella article opposing Green Party participation in a Fianna Fáil / Fine Gael Coalition Government.

Saoirse McHugh, Green Party, Mayo

http://saoirsemchugh.ie/

Hey, Green Party. This might sound crazy but… I’m from the future.

And I’m here to warn you that very bad things will happen if you accept Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s offer to enter government as their junior coalition partners. I’m talking lose all your seats, never-trusted-again, no-more-wolves-for-Eamon-Ryan bad.

But I accept that there are plenty of people, not just Mícheál, Leo and the lads, who are ramping up the pressure for ye to simply take the climate brief you want so badly and prop up the two boys until 2025.

Their arguments go like this: Ireland is in the midst of a crisis, therefore it needs a government. The Greens have the seats to plug the gap, therefore the junior coalition partner must be the Greens. The Greens are driven by the urgency of climate change above all else, therefore they should jump at this chance.

But you haven’t. Yet.

But if it makes so much damn sense, then why has this proposal remained in early negotiations, gathering criticism for the Green grassroots, rather than seeing a delighted Eamon Ryan skipping off into the sunset as the Tánaiste, or guaranteed a few spins on the rolling Taoiseach waltzer?

It’s simple: because some Greens know that what they want, including the demographics they need to keep onside, is not compatible with five more years of centre-right governance that prioritises profits, banks, big business and economic growth over saving the actual planet.

Long story short, I’m here to warn the Greens that if they go into government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, that’s it for them. 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 »

Faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives are more worth than their profits – Fourth International European Declaration

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The workers’ movement, and all progressive forces, have a duty to resist the Covid-19 Assault, and put forward practical proposals which will work at local, national, and international levels. The full text of a Fourth International Declaration is here : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article6517 Key extracts are below.

International Viewpoint

Emergency measures

The organizations and activists of the Fourth International in Europe, together with their respective organizations, are in favour of a programme of emergency measures:

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the injection of sufficient means for the mass availability of screening kits, the multiplication of resuscitation beds and respirators. Generalization to the entire population of suitable protective masks and biologic tests is the condition for confinement lifting. Immediate support for democratically controlled production of these means and for non-commercial research for medicines and vaccines against Covid-19.

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Debate: How Can We Continue the Bernie Revolution and Build a New Political Party?

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The Bernie Sanders Campaign to win the Democratic Party Nomination for President in the November 2020 General Election is Dead. Over. Extinct.

Radical left activists in the USA are debating where to go next. Let’s hope they achieve something worthwhile – the Biden V Trump contest is a miserable dead-end – unfortunately Bernie Sanders is choosing TweedleBiden instead of TweedleTrump.

While the COVID-19 crisis might throw the Democratic primary election into turmoil, it appears very likely that Bernie Sanders will not be able to win the Democratic nomination. This poses a question starkly to Sanders supporters — how can we best continue the momentum of Bernie’s historic campaign? Two petitions were initiated recently to address this question — one by Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant and another petition by some DSA activists. Both petitions argue for Sanders supporters to build a new political party but present different strategies for the steps needed to form a new party.

In response, socialist activist Jacob Smith wrote the following critique of the petition by DSA activists. Bobby Lambertz, one of the initial signers of the petition of DSA activists, replies below. We are pleased to publish this exchange as part of our commitment to facilitating constructive debate on important questions facing the socialist and working-class movements.

The Case for a New Party
— Read on reformandrevolution.org/articles/debate-how-can-we-continue-the-bernie-revolution-and-build-a-new-political-party/

Joe Biden Staggers Into The Evil of Two Lessers Saloon

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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“There are no infallible party leaderships, or individual party leaders, party majorities, “Leninist” central committees” – and so on!

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We can learn from history, we cannot change it.

Russia in the 1920’s was a one-Party State. The ruling Bolshevik Party banned internal oppositional currents. Different groups emerged opposing the party leadership centred around the dictator, Joseph Stalin.

On a smaller level today in Ireland, one-Faction “broader parties” – for example People Before Profit (ultimately controlled by the Socialist Workers’ Network) or Solidarity (ultimately controlled by the Socialist Party) – are a living contradiction. They are, because internal democracy is curtailed, bureaucratically deformed radical-left parties. RISE, originating from internal differences within Solidarity/Socialist Party, represents a serious effort to break free from the bureaucratically deformed model.

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

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.”

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, most of the opposition currents were reluctant to put their differences in perspective, and unite against the common ruling enemy. Tragic consequences followed – the Stalin machine murdered and framed all its opponents in infamous 1930’s Moscow Show-Trials.

Victor Osprey highlights important efforts to do things differently

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Pandemic posts, propaganda and positions: political and proletarian, never 'populist'.

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We should never allow the left to be to be smeared as ‘populist’ ever again.

The Irish left has maintained a huge degree of unity and agreement during this crisis so far.

As well as demands for social and public health provision, testing and recruitment, release of resources and protection of workers’ incomes, the left has agreed with, and led on, all necessary constraining measures to beat the virus: the strictest social distance, the close down of venues, events, institutions, workplaces, gatherings; calling for closure of inessential production.

The left has at no time raised pseudo democratic demands for rights to assemble and protest. It was ahead in calling off scores of events and demonstrations it had organised.

Far from ‘stirring it up’ or basing itself on the most disruptive, delinquent or irresponsibly ‘rebellious’ in society, the left has been to the fore in calling out not just the crazy Trumps and Johnson’s, not just the underlying ecological apocalypse, not just the run down of the health service, not just the Cheltenham chumps, but those in the general public, among the young, the ‘broad masses’, who have been stupid and selfish enough to party on and congregate on, as if they and their fellow citizens were invulnerable. The left is calling out, drawing attention to and exposing as crazy, those who ignore the simple demand to keep their distance and stay at home as much as possible.

Socialists are being social-ist. Please note, all those high and low who have contributed to or who contribute to the advance of the pandemic. Please note, you panelists and pundits, for future discourse.

Des Derwin, 22nd March 2020.

Written by tomasoflatharta

Mar 22, 2020 at 8:27 pm

“Never Waste A Good Crisis” – Big Economic Recession Coming Our Way – Irish Ruling Class Cuts “Meals on Wheels” – EU Leaders Pour Petrol ⛽️ on Flames 🔥

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An Irish Warning : Sam Nolan reports his HSE “meals on wheels” service has been suspended. Friends and Comrades are rallying, Sam will be supported. Des Derwin reacts, very perceptively :

“I’m speechless. Just as an expanded service is needed. Have y’all noticed how the (Fine Gael!) state is building up its repressive apparatus for the crisis. Templemore early graduation trainees given crash course in public order (read riot control). New standing public order unit. (WTF?!) Scores of hired in Garda cars to ‘help the vulnerable’. Maybe the HSE is transferring the meals on wheels service to An Garda Siochana.”

Former SYRIZA Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis Analyses the European Union Response :

Those of us who know how the Eurogroup works were not holding much hope yesterday. Nevertheless, Europe’s finance ministers managed to do even less than what we feared: They failed to use the fiscal compact’s proviso for loosening up fiscal policy across the euro area. They continued with the tragic error of treating a crisis of insolvency as a crisis of liquidity. And they failed to recognise that some countries, in particular those savaged by the never-ending euro crisis, need a great deal more support than others.
In short, the Eurogroup’s bazooka is no more than a pathetic waterpistol. It is time that Europeans pushed for something better than this. It is time that we organise at a transnational, paneuropean level to replace this instrument of austerity-driven recession, the Eurogroup, with an institution that can work for a majority of Europeans everywhere.

APPENDIX: The Eurogroup’s telling reference to “automatic stabilisers”
The Eurogroup communique referred to the “full use of automatic stabilisers”. What did they mean?
Here is an example of an ‘automatic stabiliser’: When people lose their job, they go on unemployment benefit. This means a transfer of money from the better off to the worse off. As the worse off, who are now unemployed, save nothing and, therefore, more of the money of the better off enters the markets. That’s what economists refer to as an ‘automatic stabiliser’ (‘automatic’ because no government decision was needed to activate it – the loss of jobs does it automatically | and ‘stabiliser’ because the higher portion of spending relative to savings boosts GDP ).
Can you see dear reader what the Eurogroup are really saying when confessing to relying to the ‘automatic stabilisers’ in the absence of concerted fiscal expansion? They are saying: Don’t worry folks. While it is true we, the finance ministers, are doing almost nothing to avert the disaster, when the disaster comes your job losses and poverty will trigger some automatic mechanism that will break the economy’s fall. A little like consoling the victims of the plague with their thought that their death will, through shrinking the labour supply, boost future wages…

Some Proposals for Resistance :

DiEM25’s answer to: What should they have done?
At the very least, the Eurogroup should have recommended to the European Council that the European Investment Bank is given the green light to issue EIB bonds worth €600 billion with the stipulation that, as part of its ongoing and recently enhanced quantitative easing program, the European Central Bank will support the value of these bonds in the bond markets. That €600 billion should be spent directly to support national health services and also be invested in sectors of the economy badly hit by the lockdown – while also nudging our economy toward greener forms of transport, energy generation etc. Additionally, the fiscal compact should be immediately side-lined and governments should effect a tax haircut for small and medium sized firms, households etc.
The above would probably be enough not to avert but to contain the recession to something like between -1% and -2% of GDP. To avert it completely, the Eurogroup should have decided to mimic Hong Kong and have the European Central Bank mint an emergency fund from which every European household is given between €1000 and €2000.

Trump Is Toast? Comeback Kid Biden Staggering Into Evil of Two Lessers Saloon?

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The Coronavirus crisis will destroy any chance Donald Trump has of retaining the US presidency this November, for one very simple reason. Driven by …

Trump Is Toast

Ed Moloney thinks he has spotted a silver lining in the CoronaVirus Cloud Haunting the USA.

Comeback Kid Staggers into Evil of Two Lessers Saloon

Trump’s USA Rejects WHO Covid-19 Test Kit – Increases Likely Death and Infection Rate

Not a great deal wrong with that on first view except the Trump-dominated bureaucracy proved incapable of putting that wish into action and so there are not enough US-made test kits to meet the predicted demand. Elsewhere in the world, by sharp contrast, there is no shortage of WHO testing kits, a tribute to the power of international co-operation.

Driven by Trump’s ultra nationalist political world view, the US rejected an international plan for a COVID test kit proposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and decided to plough its own furrow.

The consequence of that will be a huge spike in undiagnosed Coronavirus victims in the USA who will not be treated or even put into quarantine and the numbers of those stricken with the virus, and the deaths that will follow will be proportionately higher. The US, thanks to Trump, will not come out of the Covid crisis unscarred.

A Climbing American Death Rate in the Summer Months?

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