Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Leon Trotsky’ Category

“On the 1937 Sino-Japanese War” – Leon Trotsky – Parallels to the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine

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This is simply brilliant. Parallels with the 2022 Russian Ethnic-Cleansing, Imperialist and Racist invasion of Ukraine 🇺🇦 should be obvious to all readers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/10/sino.htm?fbclid=IwAR0Q41Y8r88mV9n-dpLazaWcnyqnbE1ByhFovRM09yYDn7rTMc9ntAH5lNU. Leon Trotsky wrote a letter to the outstanding Mexican Painter Diego Rivera.

“In my declaration to the bourgeois press, I said that the duty of all the workers’ organizations of China was to participate actively and in the front lines of the present war against Japan, without abandoning, for a single moment, their own program and independent activity. But that is “social patriotism!” the Eiffelites cry. It is capitulation to Chiang Kai-shek! It is the abandonment of the principle of the class struggle! Bolshevism preached revolutionary defeatism in the imperialist war. Now, the war in Spain and the Sino-Japanese War are both imperialist wars. “Our position on the war in China is the same. The only salvation of the workers and peasants of China is to struggle independently against the two armies, against the Chinese army in the same manner as against the Japanese army.” These four lines, taken from an Eiffelite document of September 10, 1937, suffice entirely for us to say: we are concerned here with either real traitors or complete imbeciles. But imbecility, raised to this degree, is equal to treason.

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“The Blitzkrieg Failed – What Next?” – Boris Kagarlitsky

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Challenge yourself in these dark days. Vladimir Putin, a far-right ethnic cleanser who who has his hands on a nuclear button, is threatening Armageddon against Ukraine and his own people – he is not bothered about NATO encirclement of Russia. Putin is NATO’s number one recruiting sergeant. Russian left winger Boris Kagarlitsky explains.

Boris Kagarlitsky PhD is a historian and sociologist who lives in Moscow. He is a prolific author of books on the history and current politics of the Soviet Union and Russia and of books on the rise of globalized capitalism. Fourteen of his books have been translated into English. The most recent book in English is ‘From Empires to Imperialism: The State and the Rise of Bourgeois Civilisation’ (Routledge, 2014). Kagarlitsky is chief editor of the Russian-language online journal Rabkor.ru (The Worker). He is the director of the Institute for Globalization and Social Movements, located in Moscow. Source : https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/04/15/the-blitzkrieg-failed-whats-next/?fbclid=IwAR1cUcoJQiRxcmQX1XexskAs7bnDKsU2p5xji5CpwFEifComiG3y1D71stA

The special operation in Ukraine was conceived by Putin and his entourage as a way to turn the political situation around. The Kremlin strategists weren’t the least bit interested in the fate of the people in Lugansk and Donetsk, or even in the future of Ukraine. At a historical impasse, with no way to revive the economy, cope with the burden of growing problems, or raise the approval ratings now rolling into the abyss, they found no better way to solve all their issues at once but with the help of a small victorious war — a classic mistake that governments make when they are not ready to embark on urgent and inevitable reforms.

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Can Ukraine Militarily Defeat the Far-Right Russian Ethnic-Cleanser Invader? Is the “Porcupine” Military Resistance Strategy Working?

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At first, since the winter of 2021, many well-educated observers doubted Russia would invade Ukraine. Then many of them expected a quick crushing Russian military victory. Facts, stubborn things, have demolished these predictions.

Writing in the Good Friday 2022 edition of the Irish Times, Brussels Correspondent Naomi O’Leary introduces us to the “Porcupine Strategy” :

The Ukrainian Military Porcupine Strategy

The resilience and effectiveness of Ukraine’s defence, and ability to impose great costs on Russia despite Moscow’s vastly greater numbers, have significance far beyond Ukraine.

It’s a vindication of the so-called porcupine strategy that underpins the defence of many other states that contend with a larger neighbour they suspect of territorial designs.

Estonia (1.3 million), Latvia (1.9 million), and Lithuania (2.8 million) will always suffer a numerical disadvantage compared to Russia (144 million). They have long feared the expansionary ambitions of their large neighbour, particularly since the annexation of Crimea.

Their strategy in response is not to try to match Moscow’s numbers – that would be impossible – but to make themselves indigestible. More trouble to attack than they are worth.

Is it possible that, in months and years to come, the Ukraine policy : militarily resist the Russian invasion – using weapons wherever they could get them – will be hailed as the “common sense” view of all on the left? That might seem unlikely now, but stubborn facts should force a rethink. A selection of left policies, Good Friday 2022 vintage, such as

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Learn to Think About Aiding the Ukrainian Resistance in 2022 – Russian Troops Out Now

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Revolutionary Socialists in Ukraine (Sotsialnyi Rukh (Social Movement) Ukraine) are thinking for themselves – making proposals which comrades in Ireland and elsewhere should examine very sympathetically.

Confiscate the property of Russian AND Ukrainian oligarchs, for the benefit of the people of Ukraine!

Since the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine, many European parties and organizations, including many people on the left, have demanded the confiscation of Russian oligarchs’ property abroad. Indeed, the yachts and real estate of Russian rich people have already been confiscated in Great Britain and France.

Nevertheless, this and all the other sanctions are half-measures against the economy of the Russian Federation, its dictatorship and the parasites that constantly enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Russians.

In the context of this all-out war against the aggressor, we, Social Movement (Ukraine) insist that Ukraine needs the funds obtained rom the confiscation and sale of Russian capitalists’ property abroad. Only this would be genuine aid, since, at the moment, the proceeds from confiscation of assets of Putin’s henchmen does not benefit the common people of Ukraine.

In this context, it should be noted that our comrades from the Razem party (Poland) made a correct proposal: “Confiscate the property of Russian oligarchs: yachts, apartments in London, cottages in the Alps and villas on the Cote d’Azur. Profit from this will be given to Ukraine so that it can defend itself from the aggressor”

As Social Movement (Ukraine), we also believes that the realisation of Ukraine’s strategic interests and increasing economic stability is impossible without the nationalization of the Ukrainian oligarchs and the prohibition of any offshore operations by Ukrainian businesspeople. The implementation of such measures becomes more likely after the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament passed Bill 7122, which created a legal basis for the forcible seizure of Russian property in Ukraine on grounds of public necessity.

Turn the capital of Russian oligarchs against their state! Let’s restore justice!

Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article61445

Let’s learn a little history, and learn to think a bit more :

April 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland

Arms are supplied to the rebels by German Imperialism. James Connolly’s Irish Citizens’ Army Slogan “We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland”

February 1917 Russian Revolution begins in St. Petersburg

Women march demanding Bread and Peace – Cossacks mutiny. Russians start to desert the Czar’s World War 1 army. Exiled Bolsheviks in Zürich including VI Lenin strike a deal with German Imperialists, who provide a “sealed train” that travels through German occupied Eastern Europe to St. Petersburg’s Finland Station. October 1917 – Soviets, Workers’ Councils, establish a new revolutionary state in Russia.

Reviewing these events later – with the benefit of a historians’s 20-20 vision – British imperialist Winston Churchill observed that the Bolsheviks’s sealed train injected a “bacillus plague” into the heart ❤️ of the global capitalist system. A leader of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky, addressed similar problems in 1938 :

“Let us assume that rebellion breaks out tomorrow in the French colony of Algeria under the banner of national independence and that the Italian government, motivated by its own imperialist interests, prepares to send weapons to the rebels. What should the attitude of the Italian workers be in this case? I have purposely taken an example of rebellion against a democraticimperialism with intervention on the side of the rebels from a fascistimperialism. Should the Italian workers prevent the shipping of arms to the Algerians? Let any ultra-leftists dare answer this question in the affirmative. Every revolutionist, together with the Italian workers and the rebellious Algerians, would spurn such an answer with indignation. Even if a general maritime strike broke out in fascist Italy at the same time, even in this case the strikers should make an exception in favor of those ships carrying aid to the colonial slaves in revolt; otherwise they would be no more than wretched trade unionists – not proletarian revolutionists.”

https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/05/think.htm

Leon Trotsky, ‘Learn To Think’ (1938). 

“No to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine! Support to the Ukrainian resistance! Solidarity with the Russian opposition to the war!”

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Statement of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International

Source : https://fourth.international/en/566/europe/426.

1. Before dawn on 24 February 2022 the Russian army began its invasion of Ukraine, bombing the interior of the country and crossing the northern, eastern and southern borders of the country, heading for the capital Kiev. This aggression has already resulted in many deaths, both civilian and military. The Ukrainian army and population are defending themselves, several cities are holding out against the aggressor. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have gone into exile, but the resistance continues. The Ukrainan people are resisting, with and without arms.

The Kremlin’s recognition three days earlier of the “independence” of the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk and the official entry of the Russian army into their territory was only the prelude to the invasion aimed at the total submission of the neighbouring country.

It is a military invasion of the territory of a former oppressed nation by a capitalist oligarchic, autocratic and imperialist regime whose aim is the reconstruction of the Russian empire.

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No to war – Russia hands off Ukraine!

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This is a very clear statement – Russia Hands Off Ukraine! Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article61191 – where readers can view a long list of people and organizations endorsing the statement. Sign the statement here : https://ukrainesolidaritycampaign.org/2022/01/28/russia-hands-off-ukraine-2/

The Ukraine Solidarity Campaign in Britain released this call to action.

Broken glass. Source: Wiki Commons.

Readers may also like to read this recommended article written by Volodymyr Ishchenko, who explores the possible consequences that would flow from a successful Russian military invasion of Ukraine. https://lefteast.org/russian-invasion-could-destabilize-russias-political-order/

Volodymyr Ishchenko is a research associate at the Institute of East European Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. His research focused on protests and social movements, revolutions, radical right and left politics, nationalism and civil society. He authored a number of peer-reviewed articles and interviews on contemporary Ukrainian politics, the Euromaidan uprising and the following war in 2013-14, published in Post-Soviet Affairs, Globalizations and New Left Review, among other journals. He has been a prominent contributor to major international media outlets such as The Guardian and Jacobin since 2014. He is working on a collective book manuscript, The Maidan Uprising: Mobilization, Radicalization, and Revolution in Ukraine, 2013-2014. Source : https://lefteast.org/russian-invasion-could-destabilize-russias-political-order/

We, socialists, trade unionists, scholars, activists for human rights, social justice and peace, stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine against Russian imperialism.

The international left and labour movement must vigorously oppose Russia’s threats against Ukraine.

We say neither Washington nor Moscow. We oppose the policy and manoeuvrings of the big Western powers and NATO.

But currently it is Russia that is threatening the Ukrainian people’s right to self-determination and challenging their legitimacy as an independent nation.

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Tomás Ó Flatharta

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Tomás Ó Flatharta was the first known Irish supporter of the Left Opposition to the Stalin-led Bolshevik Government in Russia, in the 1920’s. He is pictured here with comrades

William F. Dunne, T.J. O’Flaherty (Tomás Ó Flatharta), William (Big Bill) Haywood, and James P. Cannon together in Moscow from Labor Defender. Vol. 1 No. 8. August, 1926. Frank Little Memorial Number.

Thanks to Des Derwin for the information.

How the Russian Left Survived in a Post‑Soviet World. : Ilya Budraitskis, Translation : Giuliano Vivaldi

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This fascinating history of the fighting left in Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is recommended to readers of this blog.

The author, Ilya Budraitskis, is a leader of the “Vpered” (“Forward”), Russian section of the Fourth International, which participated in the founding of the Russian Socialist Movement (RSD) in 2011. This article was spotted on this blog : https://anticapitalistresistance.org/how-the-russian-left-survived-in-a-post-soviet-world/

This article originally appeared on the global dialogue website and can be located here.

Long Read

After the demise of the USSR on December 26, 1991, the Russian left had to find its place in a society transformed beyond recognition. In the face of huge challenges, its activists have led important struggles against the system established by Yeltsin and Putin.

The story of the modern left movement in Russia begins in the late 1980s, during the era of perestroika. From the very beginning it carried a contradictory combination of two political tendencies of the late Soviet period: popular (anti-market, statist) Stalinism and democratic socialism; nostalgic idealization of the USSR and criticism of it from the left. These political tendencies entered the public political arena in the late 1980s, and immediately found themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield dividing supporters and opponents of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika.

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Workers’ Solidarity Movement (Ireland) has come to an end

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I developed a lot of political respect for comrades of the WSM, who worked well with political rivals on political campaigns where common objectives were sought.

I think particularly of referendum campaigns opposing various pro-austerity European Union treaties, and referendums on the Irish abortion ban which was finally removed from the state constitution in 2017. Also, many WSM comrades worked in a collaborative way with other revolutionary left activists in trade union activities and the mass boycotts of water charges and the property tax. The political difference which could never be resolved was : participation in state elections. Once the Irish revolutionary Left made a small but significant electoral breakthrough – moving from margins to better connection with mass struggles – the political writing was on the wall for electoral boycott anarchism. In my opinion that trend began – we are still living through it – when Joe Higgins scored an extraordinary by election success in Dublin West in 1996, running as an anti Water Tax candidate, and as a member of the Socialist Party. Higgins lost that contest by a very small margin, but comfortably won a Dáil seat in the following 1997 General Election, unseating then Labour TD and coalition minister Joan Burton.

The political difference which could never be resolved was : participation in state elections.

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Connolly Youth Movement Disaffiliates from the Communist Party of Ireland

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Rumours about sharp disagreements between the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) and the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) circulated publicly on various platforms, notably the Cedar Lounge Revolution. https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2020/12/02/what-you-want-to-say-2-december-2020/

The CYM has disaffiliated from the CPI – a public statement is here : https://cym.ie/2021/01/18/cym-statement-on-disaffiliation/?fbclid=IwAR2rMRnPz2RhVRn8x6Q3GPBTmysFeX26swCJKaVpsOyvWpyupMsLloOSQmk

One correspondent observes :

An interesting political development. Whilst I would not overstate it in any sense, it is true that the CYM has presented itself as a generally vibrant group and has garnered a lot of recruits particularly (though not exclusively) through leaning into a particular online aesthetic and social circles.

Their attachment to the Communist Party and, partly, its selection of recruits, has resulted in it inheriting a framework of analysis which led to a fundamentally left-sectarian approach (“anti-Trotskyism”) and self-imposed isolation from a significant section of the socialist left. It is no joke to say that some in the CYM spend almost as much (if not more) time attacking other socialist groups than they do attacking our common enemy.

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