Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Leon Trotsky’ Category

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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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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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”.

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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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

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 »

Mike Finn’s “Bread Not Profits” – Celebration of the 1919 Limerick Soviet – Online for 48 Hours, Starts Thursday April 9 2020 1.00pm

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Highly Recommended – Watch Out for the Reference to Leon Trotsky!
The play has won an Irish Times Award, which is Extremely Well Deserved. Bread Not Profits was a rare example of Performance Theatre 🎭 drawing in the audience very close; there was very little alienated feeling that the performers were talking down to you from the top stage. This is a big problem with the conventional theatre format, and all kinds of lectures – especially the big rally/meeting format beloved of political control-freaks! I attended the play on my last visit to Limerick. The way life has turned, I wonder will I I ever be able to visit again? Still, memories stimulate! – John Meehan

Highly Recommended

https://www.facebook.com/Breadnotprofits

Voluntary Contribution Requested

A review :

Shakespeare used his history plays to explore issues relating to the morality of power and kingship and to question when it might be right to rebel. In Gúna Nua’s production of Mike Finn’s latest history play Bread Not Profits, the question repeatedly asked of the audience is “ whose side are you on?” , by the end it’s not a very difficult one to answer.

In this promenade-style production, which traces the events surrounding the unique Limerick Soviet of 1919, it’s impossible not to cheer for the ordinary workers who had the audacity and courage to strike against the military might of the British Empire.

Set in the haunting dereliction of Limerick’s Cleeves toffee factory, one of the first factories where the workers downed tools in 1919, Finn’s Bread Not Profits walks you through a time and place all but forgotten. From the shadows of history men and women emerge like ghosts demanding to be heard.

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/stage/bread-not-profits-review-a-play-that-touches-the-soul-1.3874005

“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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British Trotskyism Until 1949 on Mastermind

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We wonder is this a spoof? How many questions did you get right? Happy Christmas and give the 2013 New Year a fab welcome!

Update, Stephen’s Day, December 26 2012 :

Definitely this is genuine, not a spoof :

Mastermind – First Round Heat 21/24

Practically a photo finishThe BBC’s inscrutable campaign to sabotage the original Mastermind show continues. For at exactly the same time that the show began tonight on BBC2, a version of Celebrity Mastermind, featuring David Tennant, and Screamin’ Davina hosted by John Humphrys made up a small segment of the Comic Relief Extravaganza. Coincidence ? I should cocoa.If you missed the original and best, then its a shame, since it was a great episode tonight, and the tension for me was heightened by the fact that I know two of tonight’s contenders. Howard Pizzey took part in the 2007 series of blessed memory, and achieved the unenviable feat of scoring a massive 29 in the first round, but still not getting to the semi finals. Howard had no luck whatsoever last year, so my fingers were resolutely crossed for him.

I also know David Porch, in as much as David is a ‘face’ in the pub quiz circuit between Cardiff and Bridgend. We’ve played against each other in many quizzes. Eagle eyed viewers might also have spotted David playing for one of the teams in Battle of the Brains a couple of weeks ago. David , who is new to Mastermind,was answering questions on the films of Sidney Poitier. It was a virtuoso performance too, and these questions were no picnic. 14 and 1 pass sounded like a pretty good score to me.

Paul Moorhouse is not someone I know personally, but he is not unknown in Mastermind circles. This was, I believe his third Mastermind performance, having made the semi finals in both 2000 in the Radio 4 Mastermind competition, and the 2004 series. It seemed to me that he had some very long questions on his subject of British Trotskyism, so 12 points and no passes was not by any means a bad return. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by tomasoflatharta

Dec 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

ULA Conference: ‘Co-operation not competition’ – Statement from Paddy Healy and the South Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group

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The statement below was circulated by Paddy Healy this week and is, Tomás presumes,  the position of the South Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group going into the conference on Saturday.

It’s good to see the WUAG engaging like this with the ULA at large and doubly so given the content of the statement.

Huge Obligation and Opportunity for ULA as Sinn Féin reiterates its willingness to enter Coalition Government with any Party

Paddy Healy

Because of developments in the national and international economic and political crisis there is a huge obligation on ULA and on its components to make significant progress in its mission to politically reorganise the Irish working class in its own interest. The Irish Labour Party is once again in coalition government with a right-wing party. On this occasion the government is not just failing to introduce improvements for workers but is openly attacking all the gains made by workers over decades. If ULA can rise to its historic task the Labour Party could be wiped out and above all fail to recover from this period in government.

Following the recent rise of Sinn Féin in the polls, the party leader reiterated its willingness to enter coalition with any political party. This guarantees that sooner or later that party will go into oblivion sharing the same fate as Clann Na Poblachta and the Workers Party. But much damage could be done before then. The commitment of Sinn Féin to coalition confirms that it is no longer a revolutionary nationalist party. Read the rest of this entry »