Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

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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 We must shake off the outdated schema and rid ourselves of ineffective and anachronistic methods.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

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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Dáil committee to investigate Bríd Smith comments about judge – “Attack on Democracy Itself” Says admirer of the RIC/Black and Tans Charlie Flanagan TD

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A People Before Profit TD attacked ‘democracy itself’, former minister for justice claims.

The deputy who made the complaint against Bríd Smith TD (Dublin South-Central) is Charlie Flanagan, who dumped his Fine Gael Party in very hot water in January 2020. The ex Minister for Justice, attempted to sponsor a government ceremony celebrating the Royal Irish Constabulary/Black and Tans. These were ruthless gangsters in a notorious uniform of the RIC during the War of Independence 100 years ago. Splendid language was spoken by deputies in the first Dáil, elected in 1919, about the Black and Tans and other props of British rule in Ireland such as judges, who were very effectively shunned and boycotted.

Ex Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan with British Premier Boris Johnson

RIC/Black and Tan Recruitment Public Letter

Bríd Smith TD campaigning for Repeal of the Anti-Abortion 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution

Hats off to Manus O’Riordan, a tireless researcher – retirement from SIPTU has not dimmed his energy – O’Riordan’s lengthy demolition of Charlie Flanagan’s political and historical hypocrisy about the Black and Tans should assist Bríd Smith TD :

A CUMANN NA NGAEDHEAL REBUKE TO FINE GAEL!

EOIN MACNEILL ON THE RIC WAR AGAINST IRISH DEMOCRACY

In the Irish Republic’s democratic assembly of Dáil Éireann on April 10, 1919, the following address on RIC atrocities was delivered by the Minister for Industries, Eoin MacNeill:

“It is impossible for us to escape having our blood stirred at the recital of the details laid before us here to-day. While all that we have heard stirs the indignation, there is not a single one of us who is surprised. There is nothing in it that surprises us. We know that only for fear of the consequences such infamous things as have been detailed here to-day would be thrown into the shade. We cannot allow our feelings of indignation to be uppermost in dealing with these matters when we come together in common council. In our homes we give full voice to what we think. The responsibility for these things rests on the heads of the rulers of England (and not on such vague abstracts as the English Government or the English State) from Lloyd George down to Macpherson and those others who are employed by them who are personally engaged in committing atrocities. They are the men we have to defeat. I hope that any potentate who has been guilty of atrocities will be punished. It will be a wholesome precedent.”

“If they fix the precedent of bringing the ex-Kaiser to trial, we may yet have an opportunity of having other persons brought to the bar of international justice. I have been watching the development of the English Government’s policy. That policy aims at making the police our masters in Ireland, and we often do not realise that with the single exception of Russia under the Government of the Czar there never was a country so police-governed as this country is.” Read the rest of this entry »

Abolish The Special Criminal Court – it will die if an Irish Government is not formed on June 30 – but Sinn Féin and the Labour Party are riding to rescue it!

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A deadline of June 30 2020 approaches – if a government is not formed by then, the non-jury Special Criminal Court, will die.

Paul Murphy TD has a clear policy :

Abolish the Special Criminal Court

This no-jury court has been responsible for numerous false convictions, it has no place in a democratic society. It has allowed the state to abuse its power to frame innocent people for crimes they have not committed.

It is an affront to the right to a fair trial. It is an affront to the right to be tried by a jury of your peers. It is an affront to the idea of equality before the law. It is an affront to basic civil liberties. It is an affront to human rights as a whole. There are many ways to deal with potential jury intimidation which don’t require a subversion of our fundamental democratic rights.

But, hold on – cavalry are charging to the rescue!

An update from a Cedar Lounge Revolution correspondent : “A watershed moment in Irish politics today: Sinn Fein for the first time in its history did not vote against the Offences Against the State Act and the attendant emergency powers, including the non jury Special Criminal Court. It is hard to imagine them sending a stronger signal that their house training has been completed and the state does not have to fear their involvement in government.

“With the Greens also abandoning their traditional civil liberties opposition to the OASA, the only voices against were Solidarity – People Before Profit and the SocDems. Strong speeches as you would expect from Paul Murphy (Rise) and Brid Smith (PBP). Fair play to Catherine Murphy (Soc Dems) for being the only liberal speaker to show some backbone when it comes to civil liberties.” https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/what-you-want-to-say-24-june-2020/#comment-771420

Members of the Irish Senate are on manoeuvres to the right of Leo Varadkar’s lame duck Fine Gael government.

The linked article below clarifies that if the Michael McDowell led legal challenge succeeds, the grossly undemocratic non-jury Special Criminal Court will not die on June 30 next.

It makes sense that the right-wing McDowell, a former government minister belonging to the extinguished Progressive Democrat party, takes legal action to extend the life-span and powers of the lame duck Varadkar régime. McDowell is joined by legal colleague Ivana Bacik of the Labour Party and assorted gombeens from Seanad Éireann!

Is this part of the final political epitaph of the Irish Labour Party and Sinn Féin – we saved the Special Criminal Court with Michael McDowell?

During the 1978 Sallins Train Robbery Special Criminal Court Frame Up Trial of 4 IRSP Members one of the 3 Judges constantly fell asleep. Defence counsel protests were dismissed. Then the judge died. Justice still sleeps in the Special Criminal Court in 2020.
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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

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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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

Vietnam: 45 Years After the War Finally Ended – Country Joe McDonald’s Passionate Woodstock Anti-War Song Inspires Presidential Candidate Howie Hawkins

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How refreshing! Howie Hawkins, an eco-Socialist candidate in the November 2020 USA Presidential General Election, recalls a funny, sarcastic and moving Country Joe McDonald song which went worldwide in 1969 after a stunning live performance at the Woodstock Rock Music Festival. The biting realism spoke to hundreds of millions, motivating them to act in thousands of ways against the Washington War Machine.

Country Joe Rouses the Woodstock Audience in 1969:Against the Vietnam War

I can’t remember when, exactly, I first heard McDonald’s brilliantly sung call to action – probably before attending my first USA Embassy Demonstration in Ballsbridge Dublin against the Vietnam War.

I was shocked, and pleasantly impressed, to meet some some fellow school students at this venue – one of those “what are you doing here? moments” – and was even more stunned to see my teacher of Italian, Sydney-Bernard Smyth, reciting his own poems from the platform.

The anti-capitalist spirit of McDonald’s song is captured here :

Come on wall street don’t be slow
Why man this war is a go-go
There’s plenty good money to be made by
Supplying the army with the tools of its trade
Let’s hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong

A strength of the Hawkins account is that the support he offered to the anti-imperialist cause is and was critical – the national liberation struggle led by the Vietnamese Communist Party and its leader Ho Chi Minh was a just cause, but it was not perfect or flawless. This practical intellectual framework is badly needed today. Many people outside Ireland watch the Donald Trump led horror story in America, and the honourable, but flawed, electoral left-flavoured opposition which was headed by Bernie Sanders. Sanders now takes sides in a useless reactionary contest between TweedleBiden of the Democrats and TweedleTrump of the Republicans, bringing to mind the dismal and barren electoral contest between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Many enduring lessons were taught in the USA and across the globe by the mass movement against the Vietnam War. – John Meehan

“What are we fighting for?” – Country Joe McDonald
When I had to prepare for a 7th grade classroom debate on the Vietnam War in Spring 1965, President Johnson had begun escalating the war with the massive bombing of Operation Rolling Thunder and the deployment of a few thousand Marines to Da Nang, the first of what would become nearly 200,000 US troops by the end of 1965 and over 500,000 in 1968. I learned that the US had signed the 1954 Geneva Accords, which provided for an election in 1956 to unify Vietnam and establish an independent government. But I also learned that the US had prevented the election because it knew the winner would be Ho Chi Minh, the Communist leader of the Viet Minh, the nationalist coalition for independence that had defeated the Japanese and then the French imperialists. The Viet Minh controlled the North, but the French had retaken the South when the Japanese left with US military support from the Truman and Eisenhower administrations until the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and gave up their colonies in Indochina. I read the 1945 “Vietnamese Proclamation of Independence from Japan and France.” Ho had drafted and modeled the proclamation after the American Declaration of Independence in consultation with operatives from the OSS (predecessor of the CIA), who had been helping the Viet Minh fight the Japanese during World War II. None of this was on the nightly news, which broadcast Johnson’s justifications for the war. I was outraged at the hypocrisy of the pro-war US political leaders who talked of democracy and self-determination but were opposing it in Vietnam. What are we fighting for?
When the Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, all of these violations of America’s professed values were more thoroughly documented by internal Pentagon documents. What also became clear in those leaked documents is that US political leaders knew the whole time that the US could not defeat Vietnamese nationalism and win the war. Yet they continued to send young Americans to die in Vietnam so they didn’t appear soft on Communism in domestic politics. What are we fighting for?
When my draft number came up in 1972, I enlisted in the Marine Corps and in the GI resistance to the war. When I got to Quantico for bootcamp for officer candidates, I was training with a lot of Vietnam combat veterans now in college on the GI bill and coming back in the Marines to become officers—and most of them opposed the Vietnam War. They loved the anti-war anthem of the Navy veteran, Country Joe McDonald. His “Feel Like i’m Fixing to Die Rag” captured the hypocrisies of the US war in Vietnam and the spirit of the anti-war movement inside as well as outside the military. For the military rank-and-file, the song gave voice to their real feelings about how they were treated as expendable pawns by the military brass and the country’s political leaders. What are we fighting for?
It took 19 years after the 1956 election that the US prevented for the Vietnamese, with the assistance of the anti-war movement and the GI resistance, to finally expel the last US forces 45 years ago on April 30, 1975. US leaders said we were fighting Communism. Washington’s aggressive war the cost of lives of nearly 4 million Vietnamese. The Communists won and today preside over a predominantly capitalist economy. What are we fighting for?
Today multinational corporations from the US, China (Vietnam’s millennial-old colonial nemesis), Japan, South Korea, and other nations locate factories in Vietnam to exploit cheap labor and environmental laws so lax and unenforced that the legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap, who had led the Vietnamese People’s Army in defeating the Japanese, French, and finally US occupiers, became Vietnam’s most prominent a environmental, pro-democracy, and anti-corruption dissident, criticizing Vietnamese state and party leaders on these issues until his dying day in 2013 at the age of 102. What were we fighting for?
And what are we fighting for now? It’s not for us regular people. We are not why the US now has over 800 foreign military bases. We are not why the US is officially engaged in 7 endless wars and covert special operations in well over 100 foreign countries. We are not why the US is continuing to impose economic sanctions on countries that need aid and trade right now to fight the coronavirus. The US war machine is not about defending Americans in our homeland. It is about making the world safe for profiteering by US-based global corporations.
What are we fighting for? We should be fighting to dismantle the US Military/Industrial Complex. Instead being the world’s military empire, we must demand that the US become the world’s humanitarian superpower. Let’s make the US use its wealth and knowledge in a multi-lateral Global Green New Deal that reverses climate change and provides for the basic needs of all. Let’s make friends, instead of enemies. Let’s make peace, instead of war.
— Read on howiehawkins.us/vietnam-45-years-after-the-war-finally-ended/

An accidental beginning :

The audience largely ignored his eight-song set. His tour manager said that since nobody was paying attention, why not do the number he was saving for tomorrow night? The singer walked back out, alone, and called to the masses, “Give me an F!”

That got their attention. They knew the routine. The crowd at Woodstock, half a million strong, rose to their feet and joined in Country Joe McDonald’s antiwar war cry, chanting along from the opening expletive all the way to the “Whoopee! We’re all going to die” capper. Captured in Michael Wadleigh’s Oscar-winning 1970 documentary “Woodstock,” the three rousing minutes of Mr. McDonald’s acoustic version of “The ‘Fish’ Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” became the premier Vietnam War protest anthem.

“I never had a plan for a career in music, so Woodstock changed my life,” Mr. McDonald, now 75, said in an interview from his home in Berkeley, Calif. “An accidental performance of ‘Fixin’-to-Die,’ a work of dark humor that helps people deal with the realities of the Vietnam War, established me as an international solo performer, then the movie came out and the song went on to become what it still is today.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/opinion/country-joe-vietnam-woodstock.html