Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Socialist Workers’ Party (Britain)’ Category

A Strange Policy is Reviewed – Support Ukraine’s Resistance Against an Imperialist Russian Invasion “Politically” – But Oppose Giving Arms to the Resisters – A Critique of Irish Left Evasionism

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International solidarity between socialists and anarchists in Ukraine and Ireland is growing. We are united in a desire to see Russia defeated, which will be a blow to the right everywhere. We are equally united in our opposition to Western imperialism and the global capitalists circling Ukraine ready to exploit the country after the war.

One of the disappointing developments of the war is that so many socialists in the West have failed to offer such solidarity. The group we are most familiar with is People Before Profit, and analysing the think piece published in August 2022 by John Molyneux explains why. We offer this critique of John’s article in the hope that there are members of People Before Profit who can save it from its current convergence with the ‘campists’. We hope this can happen in time to make a difference to the growth of practical solidarity between Irish and Ukrainian socialists.

 

Molyneux’s essay begins with an attempt to categorise the debates among the left into three positions:

1. the ‘campists’ in favour of a Russian victory, 

2. those who are for a Ukrainian victory without reservations about NATO and western imperialism, and

3. those who are neither for a Russian victory nor for one for Western imperialism (‘neutrality’)

 

This schema has been derived by working backwards from John’s understandable desire to portray People Before Profit as fundamentally different to the campists, while doubling down on their criticisms of the Ukrainian resistance. For a supposed Marxist analysis it has a deep and irreperable flaw: it has sprung from the head of its author and not from the reality of the situation. Frankly, the left doesn’t have time to ignore reality in this way any more.

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Solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance! The Russia-Ukraine war “is not inter-imperialist”

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The American writer and activist Ashley Smith sums up the policy of the fighting left which supports the national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian masses against the far-right ethnic-cleansing Russian invaders led by President Vladimir Putin. Before the Russian invasion on February 25 2022, Ashley Smith was a featured speaker at an online event hosted by Irish anti-war activists. Unfortunately some of these activists today do not share Ashley Smith’s point of view.

Source :

http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?rubrique2

See also : https://www.tempestmag.org/2022/06/solidarity-with-ukraine-resistance/

Ashley Smith reviews the ongoing Left debates about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the continuing need to defend Ukrainian resistance as the starting point for rebuilding international solidarity from below.

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine with the expectation of a quick victory over an outgunned army and unpopular government and a successful installation of a puppet regime in the capital, Kyiv. Instead, Ukraine’s military, volunteer Territorial Defense Forces, and mass popular resistance stopped Russia in its tracks.

Humiliated, Russia has retreated from Kyiv as well as the country’s second largest city, Kharkiv, and adopted a new goal—the seizure of Donbas in Ukraine’s east to form a land bridge to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, followed by a planned partition of the country. The U.S. and NATO, which like Moscow expected the Russian invasion to quickly win, have increased shipments of heavy weapons for the new phase of the war.

[T]he international Left now more than ever must organize solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance, defend its right to secure arms, support the Russian Left and its anti-war movement, and oppose direct U.S. and NATO intervention.

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Evasions on the Left Over Ukraine – Conor Kostick, Independent Left (Ireland)

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This is a strongly recommended article. The author is an experienced anti-war activist, an Irish historian and writer living in Dublin. He is the author of many works of history and fiction.. For more information read the information at this link : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conor_Kostick?wprov=sfti1. https://www.leftarchive.ie/people/2778/ Some of Conor’s political writings are here : https://www.leftarchive.ie/people/2778/

Wars are not light topics that can be dispensed of with simple formulas. I, for one, cannot imagine how the success of Russia would further the cause of democracy and socialism around the world. If you do, then say so, openly, so it can be debated in public. But don’t falsify tradition and history and hide behind pathetic slogans. To paraphrase Marx, we Marxists disdain to conceal our views and aims.

John Ganz, Ben Burgis’s Bad History: Jacobin’s anti-Jacobins

There is a type of left argument around the war in Ukraine which has arisen in the West. It is one that condemns Putin’s invasion, but refuses to offer practical support to the people of Ukraine in resisting that invasion. It is the position one can read in Jacobin, or in statements by Chomsky, Corbyn, and the Stop the War Coalition in the UK. In Ireland we have the same type of response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine from People Before Profit and the Socialist Party of Ireland.

I will use the label Evasionist Left for this approach. It’s not clear how representative this trend is internationally, as many on the left do pro-actively support the resistance in Ukraine, e.g. parties such Razem in Poland; those associated with the Fourth International like Left Bloc and the Danish Red Green Alliance; and the main left party in Japan, the Japanese Communist Party.

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‘There’s a pandemic!’ Covid mandates, restrictions and the left

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Guest post by Des Derwin

We can all agree that a raft of things are required that the system is reluctant to give and that we must campaign for: vaccine justice towards the global south, wage support for closed jobs, real ventilation in workplaces, an end to deforestation and desertification and intensive farming leading to zoonotic crossovers, provision of personal protective equipment, decent health services, etc., etc.

I’m bending the stick and splitting from what seems a widely held miscalculation on the international left about immediately responding to this massively lethal pandemic.

I support mandatory and legally enforceable public health measures and restrictions when necessary, just like I support workplace safety legislation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the introduction :

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

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

 

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

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

Campaigners supporting Paul Murphy TD, February 8 2020 General Election

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

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

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 »

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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