Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘The Great Depression of the 2020’s’ Category

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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“Eamon Ryan’s sleep-in 💤 wasn’t a mortal sin” – Gene Kerrigan returns us to the Dublin Government’s real world – First on the agenda : gut low-paid workers

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Reviewing a week in the so-far short life of the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green/Gombeen (FFFGGG) government readers may have missed some interesting details. Twenty mini-ministers are behaving worse than piglets at a trough. RTÉ News did not notice a connection between human events at the Dáil (Leinster House and the Convention Centre) – and piglet events at a midlands farm.

The village of Moyne in Co Longford is celebrating the arrival of 20 piglets to a first-time mother. The bumper delivery is believed to be one of the highest ever recorded in the area. https://www.rte.ie/news/leinster/2020/0718/1154128-piglets-longford/

Only 16 of the Longford piglets out of 20 can feed from the mother. Special arrangements are needed for the remaining four.

In Leinster House three piglet mini-ministers out of 20 are demanding improved feeding facilities – even though they slurp from the same source as their colleagues.

One of the Government’s immediate priorities will be to rush through legislation to ensure that each of the super-juniors will be entitled to an extra €16,288 a year on top of the junior rate. This is not a joke.

– Gene Kerrigan

16 Piglets in Longford offer ecological example to Leinster House mini-ministers (especially Greens)
Green Party Leader Éamon Ryan

Eamon Ryan’s sleep-in 💤 wasn’t a mortal sin. In another life, I spent many an hour crouched on the Dáil press gallery. It can be difficult to listen to that stuff and stay awake. Ryan was one of at least two TDs seen sleeping during Thursday’s proceedings. – Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan’s complete article, July 20 2020 :

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Most FFFGGG Ministers are Male – Would Extra Green Party Females at the top table Improve Things?

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Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin wants the job of current numero uno Eamon Ryan.

Her pitch looks blatant : do her quoted comments mean that, if elected Green Party leader, she will replace male Green Party Ministers and mini-Ministers with females? If so, Martin has a limited choice – the only available female Green TD who can be promoted is Dublin Central deputy Neasa Hourigan, who voted against coalition with FFFG. Martin could also give ministerial promotions to two female Green Party Senators.

12 Irish Green Party TD’s Elected in February 2020 – Scramble for Ministerial Promotion

This takes bribery and careerism in Irish politics to previously uncharted waters. The FFFGGG coalition is tainted because so many overpaid ministerial piggies are slurping at its trough, most of them male. The Green Party in coalition is careering downhill to the gutter inhabited by the likes of Willie O’Dea.

Limerick’s Willie O’Dea TD – Squeals from a piglet muscled away from the trough

Green Party opponents of the anti-woman FFFGGG coalition should prepare an exit strategy.

https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/06/26/open-letter-to-left-greens-what-next/

Will a real problem of government misogyny be remedied if there are extra Green Party females at the top table? The answer is No.

“We should always seek to promote because young girls cannot aim to be what they cannot see. We should always be seeking to do that, to promote women.”

The Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht said she congratulated all the male Ministers.

“They’re all able for the job, but I think there was a missed opportunity to promote women and from our side there was also a missed opportunity to unite the party as well, that nobody who voted no or advocated no to the programme for Government was promoted to ministerial position and I think that was a missed opportunity to unite.

“We are a party that respects and cherishes debate and challenge and having those voices inside and within government at the ministerial table would have been welcome.”

When asked about an accusation of misogyny within the party by Cork Green Party councillor Lorna Bogue, Ms Martin said: “I think we have to be seen to do more — as a party we talk the talk in relation to promoting diversity and inclusivity, but if we’re not acting on it I think that’s regrettable and that’s something I would like to see changed.”

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/eamon-ryan-missed-chance-to-promote-women-says-catherine-martin-1.4299071

Stupid American

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This is a savage witty attack on USA President Donald Trump.

Europeans, like North Americans, are resisting buffoonish and stupid racist leaders – Viktor Orban of Hungary, Boris Johnson of Britain – and outright leader of the pack, Arlene Foster from the north of Ireland.

“Europeans often look down on Americans and make fun of us. That in itself may be more of a stereotype and a joke than it is real…or at least it was before Donald Trump became president.
The idea of Donald Trump being president was a joke. The Simpsons had it as a joke in one episode because it was so ridiculous. Lisa Simpson was president, who is a cartoon and not a real person, and that’s less ridiculous than a Trump presidency. Though in that episode, Lisa had to rebuild the nation after a Trump presidency.
But yeah, Donald Trump is a joke. But Europe, like American liberals and the few Republicans who put their nation before a cult, recognize he’s more than a joke. He’s dangerous. However, as dangerous as he is, gatherings of world leaders are still caught on hot mics mocking the guy who claims he’s restored international respect to our nation.
Europe has done a much better job with the coronavirus than our nation. While we have 4 percent of the world’s population, we have 25% of coronavirus cases. The virus is spiking in the deep south and our more liberal states in the northeast are enacting quarantines for visitors from those states. Europe may take it one step further.
Europe looks at us and they see our president, the ultimate ugly, stupid, arrogant American. And what do they see now? They see an ugly American denying a virus isn’t as bad as it is. They see a stupid American telling people to drink bleach and take a medication that can kill them (Hey, if Europe is afraid of a drug, you don’t wanna go near it). They see an arrogant American mock people for wearing facemasks. They see an incredibly ugly, stupid, arrogant American president (sic) say we have fewer cases of coronavirus when we have fewer tests. They see an idiot who believes tests create cases.
And now, the entire continent is considering banning each of us from entering. What’s next? Stiffed by Canada? Will Mexico build a wall and make us pay for it (probably)?
Europe may not like us very much but they love our money and for us to come over and eat their snails. But when they see our leader (sic) exhibit the very worst of us, Europe is all like, “Nope!” They don’t want dirty Americans to re-contaminate their nations where people actually believe in science.
I don’t blame them.”

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The struggle has moved far “Beyond Bernie” | International Socialism Project

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Mainstream USA politics is dominated by the Republican and Democratic parties, which are a Tweedledee-Tweedledum option.

An antidote for the radical left can be an erupting mass movement – a factor largely absent from the American continent for decades, but suddenly back in play since police officer Derek Chauvin choked gentle giant George Floyd to death in Minnesota.

The Black Lives Matter Movement has swept through the American continent, and detonated anti-racist protests across the globe, including Ireland.

First example : a wonderful mural in Tallaght, a working class district of Dublin, the constituency of RISE radical left TD Paul Murphy.

Annemarie Blake’s Mural Honouring George Floyd, Tallaght, Dublin

Second example : large Black Lives Matters demonstrations at the Ballsbridge American Embassy, a prosperous part of Ireland’s capital city.

Black Lives Matter Demonstration, USA Embassy, Ballsbridge, Dublin

Before the eruption of mass street-level struggle in the States, many sectors of the radical left made a valiant effort to break their isolation by critically supporting a left-wing candidate, Bernie Sanders, using the label of a Tweedledee party, the Democrats. 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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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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American Biden-Democrat “Hostility” to Trump – Not the same as “Opposition” – A Highly Recommended Article

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At times readers of online political commentary despair going through useless drudge that can be found on the internet. But if you keep at it, watch for sources you know are usually solid and reliable, you find excellent material. This article came to the attention of the Tomás Ó Flatharta blog via an FB friend Suzi Weissman.

https://www.kpfk.org/on-air/suzi-weissman/

It is a devastating, withering, attack on the Biden-Democrat “hostility” to the Trump administration – which is not the same as opposition. A stunning catastrophe looms now in the USA as the Trump Government “opens up” this land to the Covid-19 Monster at the Door of New York. Now, more than ever, the USA radical left must look towards the November 2020 General Election, and attempt to offer a credible alternative to the Evil Biden-Trump Tweedledee Monster. Shame on Bernie Sanders. The article concludes :

Bernie’s consistent criticism falls flat these days as he loyally signs on to the party consensus while trying to push additions and improvements. AOC is a lone voice in the wilderness daring to cast the occasional no vote.

What’s left are endangered and desperate people daring to walk off the job and appealing to their peers for support. We the people are on our own and must find our own way forward without waiting for leadership that doesn’t exist. By shedding illusions to the contrary, we open up new possibilities.

Hostility Is Not Enough – Resistance is Not Futile

An internal government document circulating in the United States projects a surge in coronavirus cases and a sharp rise in daily deaths by June 1, the New York Times reported, even as President Donald Trump urged states to lift restrictions in place to quell the pandemic.

The document, based on modelling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, projects that COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, will kill 3,000 Americans a day by the end of May, the Times said on Monday, up from a current daily toll about 2,000. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/model-projects-fold-increase-coronavirus-cases-200504185028572.html

Hostility Is Not the Same As Opposition – Resistance is Needed

There is hostility, which is not the same thing.

Opposition implies a critical analysis and an alternative program, that is, an examination of what is being done wrong, why this is so, and what should change. On all three points, the loudest non-Trump voices offer confusion, distraction, and hypocrisy, not leadership around which a movement could cohere.

What is wrong? Read the rest of this entry »

“It is the Henri Weber who sang the Internationale with Higelin that we mourn, not the one at the service of the political apparatus of the PS” – Life of a French Activist who shifted from Anti-Capitalist Revolution to Pro-Capitalist Submission

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Often at Irish funeral wakes some people say “Never speak ill of the Dead”. They do not mean a word of it. Mourners relax, dump the fake insincere bland and pious words, and talk about the real person they knew, the Good, Bad, and Ugly sides.

One period in the life of Henri Weber is celebrated in this obituary, a life of revolutionary activism shaped by the May 1968 uprising in France.

Henri Weber, a Revolutionary in the 1960’s

In the 1980’s a second period began in the political service of social liberalism, which is not celebrated. Henri Weber died from the CoronaVirus as the Great Depression of the 2020’s started to cause global havoc. We will continue to lose people who are dying before their time.

Henri Weber was born in Leninabad (now Khujand), Tajikistan, Soviet Union on 23 June 1944. His Polish-Jewish parents had left Poland at the time of the German-Soviet pact but, refusing to become Soviet citizens, were sent to labour camp where he was born. They returned to Poland after the war but four years later left because of prevailing anti-semitism and moved to France. As a student in Paris Weber was recruited by Alain Krivine and became a leading member of the Jeunesse Communiste Révolutionnaire (JCR) and of the Ligue Communiste (subsequently Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire LCR), French section of the Fourth International. In the early 1980s he ceased political activity and in 1986 joined the Socialist Party. A member of the leadership of the Socialist Party, he held elected positions as a senator (1995-2004) and then as a member of the European Parliament (2004-2014). He died in Avignon on 26 April 2020 from coronavirus. [IVP]

I knew Henri as a JCR activist in the years 1965-67. In the period after May 68, we were fairly close, since I was a student at the university of Vincennes where he was an assistant lecturer in the philosophy department. It was at this time that I had to coordinate the student sector of what was to become the Ligue Communiste. At the end of the Mannheim congress, I became a member of the central committee of the League (1969-70) following a proposal which he initiated. But in the framework of the activities of the defence service of the League, for which I was for a time responsible along with my brother Alain, Michel Récanatti and Romain Goupil, we worked a lot on projects of demonstrations and political events which made the League well known, and it is for this double reason that I saw a lot of Henri.

Henri was one of the leading figures of the JCR, along with Daniel Bensaïd, Janette Habel, Alain Krivine, Pierre Rousset, and in a less public way Gérard de Verbizier. They were the embodiment of this organization which came from the fight against Stalinism, solidarity with the colonial revolution and systematic anti-capitalist and anti-fascist activities, which stood out by its sense of political initiative, its dynamism and its fighting spirit, without sectarianism. Henri and his comrades had anticipated, already in 1967, the role of “sensitive plate” that the student movements could play. They perceived the embers which were heating up under the leaden shell of Gaullism and the inertia of the union leaderships and the PCF. In the demonstrations, they pushed for the radicalization of struggles and supported strikes which escaped the shackles of the union bureaucracies. May 9, 1968, when the JCR opened up its meeting to the movement and where Bensaïd, Weber and Cohn-Bendit rubbed shoulders, illustrated this absence of sectarianism. Unlike the “maos” who two days later invited the students to put themselves at the “service of the people” rather than building barricades, the Lambertists of the OCI, who in their logic of pressure group on the trade union apparatuses counterposed the “general strike” to the battles of “petit-bourgeois students ”and the activists of Voix Ouvrière (ancestor of LO) who learnedly explained that the battles in the Latin Quarter were only a “straw fire” with regard to the struggle of the proletariat, they understood that the straw fire was in fact “the spark that would set the plain on fire”! And when 1968 exploded, Henri and his comrades were ready, they were the ones who could be found on the barricades and in confrontations with the cops (alongside the anarchists). They knew that going to the barricades was in fact the way to the general strike. Henri was one of those who had the political intuition to understand that the events of 1968 opened a historic moment.
— Read on www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php

In the service of “those who led to the catastrophe that we know”.

The loss of his convictions led to a withdrawal from militant political activity and a gradual bifurcation towards the paths of social respectability, then to an increasingly close proximity with social liberalism, from Fabius to Hollande. Even though he maintained friendly personal relations with his former comrades, he put his talent and his rhetoric, which had become an empty shell, at the service of the political apparatus of the Socialist Party , which had long since taken on board the standards proper to the Bonapartist state. Once he had changed course, he went far down this route. The saddest thing was to see him sometimes summon the ghosts of revolutionary strategy to justify submission to those who led to the catastrophe that we know.

Today we will leave the eulogy of his renouncement to the chorus of defenders of these modern times. It is the Henri of the fight for emancipation that we mourn, the comrade, Tisserand and Samuel, the one with whom we trod the streets, La Jeune Garde in his shoulder bag, the one who sang the Internationale with Jacques Higelin, the one who was part of the youth that Liebknecht said was the flame of the revolution.

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

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

Saoirse McHugh, Green Party, Mayo

http://saoirsemchugh.ie/

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

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

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

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

But you haven’t. Yet.

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

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

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