Archive for the ‘State repression’ Category

Police violence against locked-out workers sparked the formation of a workers’ militia

Constance Markievicz, founder of first republican paramilitary organisation of 1900s and a founding leader of the workers’ militia

 

by Philip Ferguson*

Described by Lenin as the world’s first Red Army, the Irish Citizen Army was formed by members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and other trade unionists in Dublin in August 1913.  Socialist and therefore also republican, the ICA was not, however, the first working class paramilitary organisation to be formed in Ireland in Ireland in the early 1900s.  That honour goes to Fianna Eireann, a predominantly working class youth organisation founded by Constance, Countess Markievicz who would go on to be a key figure in the workers’ militia.

James Larkin and James Connolly

The Fianna

Markievicz, a militant left-wing republican, was moved to form the Fianna in August 1909 for two reasons.  One was that, while new to Irish republicanism – she had thrown herself into it just the year before – she had already decided that any serious political movement for Irish freedom would, sooner or later, have to confront Britain in arms.  Her reading of Irish history had taught her that if you built a serious political movement, at some point the British state would confront you with its military force.  Unless you were armed and prepared to fight, your movement would end in ignominy, confusion and demoralisation.

The other – and this was the immediate factor in the formation of the Fianna – was the arrival of Baden-Powell in Ireland to start an Irish wing of his boy scouts movement.  Markievicz noted that his aim was to get Irish youth to support the British empire and oppose the liberation of their own country and their own class, the working class.  Her and friends such as Helena Moloney went recruiting for na Fianna in working class areas of Dublin.

Having come from the aristocracy, Markievicz knew about shooting and had a great interest in things military.  She wrote the Fianna handbook, taught the boys to drill and to shoot and, later, how to blow things up.  The Fianna were also sent out to rough up the Boy Scouts.  This ‘ruffianism’ was guided by two ideas: (more…)

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Masoud Barzani

by Yassamine Mather

The Kurdish regional government (KRG) in Iraq will be holding a referendum on the issue of independence on September 25. There have been appeals for it to be delayed and the date has changed a number of times, but at the moment it looks like the vote will go ahead.

In 2014, at the time when Islamic State was gaining ground in northern Kurdistan, Kurds accused the Iraqi army of abandoning the territory lost to the jihadists. Ironically it is the ‘liberation’ of Erbil, Mosul and other northern cities that has precipitated the referendum. Last week in an interview with BBC Persian, Masoud Barzani, the president of the KRG, indicated that it will draw up the borders of a future Kurdish state if Baghdad does not accept a vote in favour of independence. However, what was significant in the BBC interview was Barzani’s insistence that (more…)

ILWU Local 10 taking part in protest against police killings of black Americans.

In New Zealand, industrial law supported by National and Labour alike bans political strikes.  Both parties are aware of the criplling effect this has on working class politics.  Without engaging in political strikes, NZ workers simply can’t press their interests as members of a global class.  And without acting as part of the global working class, workers here can’t develop a genuinely radical consciousness.

In the past, unions here did engage in political strikes.  For instance, at the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement in the early 1970s, the seafarers would take industrial action against the imperialist intervention in Vietnam on the same day that national protests against the war would take place.

In many other countries, political strikes are an important feature of working class politics and industrial action.  Below is an example from a few days ago in the United States. 

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 in San Francisco have passed a motion to stop work and march on the site of a white nationalist gathering later this week.

The rally has been organised by the far-right Patriot Prayer group, whose leader Joey Gibson has a history of organising rallies attended by white nationalists and violent racists such as Jeremy Christian, the man who stabbed two men to death on a Portland MAX train as they intervened to stop him racially abusing and threatening two teenage girls.

Gibson has made pains to distance himself from more explicit neo-nazis in the fallout following the Charlottesville protests, where a white nationalist drove his car into a group of anti-racist demonstrators.

However, Gibson’s sincerity has been questioned particularly has it has come to light that the Oath Keepers, a heavily-armed far-right militia composed largely of ex-military and ex-law enforcement personnel, will be providing security for the event.

To combat this, a rank-and-file union meeting of ILWU Local 10 has resolved to stop work on Saturday 26th August, the day of the rally, and march to Crissy Fields, where the rally is due to take place.

In a statement, the ILWU Local 10 declares (more…)

by The Spark

Seventy years ago, on 15 August 1947, former “British” India gained independence. But fearing that a sense of victory would allow India’s future regime to resist Britain’s continuing economic domination, while boosting the then-growing rebellion of other colonized people against their colonizers, the British government ensured that independence came at an exorbitant price for the Indian masses. It played a cynical game of divide and rule which led in the end to the partitioning of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan, thereby causing one of the largest, bloodiest refugee migrations in modern history and a toxic legacy of warfare and religious bigotry.

Proletarian masses against colonial domination

The very basis for this artificial division was laid by colonial policy. The British created an electoral system based on religion and cultivated the loyalist Muslim League against the larger nationalist party, the Indian National Congress. This INC, although it espoused an all-Indian nationalism, also had ties to Hindu nationalist groups.

The end of WWII saw a mobilization of the Asian poor masses against the colonial powers. In China, the peasantry rose against the landlords and threatened to set the towns alight. After the collapse of the Japanese occupation in Malaysia, Indonesia and Indochina, the proletariat rose against the return of the old colonial powers. In India, a mutiny of 20,000 sailors of the Royal Indian Navy, in February 1946, sparked off a wave of strikes involving (more…)

Thomas Suarez, State of terror: how terrorism created modern Israel, London: Skyscraper Publications, 2016, pp418, £20.  Reviewed by Tony Greenstein.

The state of Israel prides itself on being at the forefront of the ‘war against terror’ and the war on Islam and it is this which makes Israel the darling of Europe’s far right. But this book documents how the Israeli state was born in a wave of terror that makes Palestinian guerrilla groups seem like children at play.

Terror was remorselessly directed at the indigenous Palestinians by the three main Zionist militias – the Labour Zionist Haganah and its Palmach shock-troops; the revisionist Irgun, a split-off from Haganah in 1931 (Haganah Bet); and Lehi or the Stern Gang, a breakaway from Irgun in August 1940. The Irgun was commanded by Menachem Begin, who in 1977 was elected prime minister of Israel. Lehi, which parted from Irgun on the question of continuing the war against the British, was initially commanded by Avraham Stern and later a triumvirate, which included future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983-84, 1986-92). Lehi distinguished itself by making two proposals in 1940 for a military pact with Nazi Germany against the British!

Suarez’s book is based on copious research from the Public Record Office at Kew. A clue to this book’s importance is the fierce campaign waged by the Zionist movement against it and its author. In Cambridge the Zionists managed to get a meeting relating to it cancelled.1 In Portsmouth the Zionists enlisted the aid of the Council’s Prevent officer, Charlie Pericleous, in order to put pressure on venues to cancel such talks. Presumably opposing Zionism makes you an ‘extremist’ and therefore a potential terrorist – a good example of how anti-terror laws are used to attack free speech. A talk at the School of Oriental and African Studies was disrupted by a group of Zionists led by Jonathan Hoffman, a well known activist, former Zionist Federation official and someone who has no problem with working with fascist and anti-Semitic groups, such as the English Defence League.

A talk held at the House of Lords on December 15 2016, hosted by Baroness Tonge, was subject to the same bogus complaints of anti-Semitism (on March 15 2017 an ethics committee of the House of Lords dismissed the allegations as baseless).

The Daily Mail, the paper which waged a campaign against Jewish immigration from Nazi Germany and tsarist Russia, became (more…)

The retirement of southern Irish taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny several months ago led to Leo Varadkar taking his place.  Varadkar is young, gay and his father is an Indian immigrant to Ireland.  Varadkar’s victory in the leadership contest in the Fine Gael party and assumption of the role of prime minister has been widely hailed as some kind of victory for gay rights and anti-racism.  Varadkar, however, is a committed anti-working class politician, with no track record of campaigning for either gay or migrant rights.  Varadkar  is no friend of the oppressed and exploited – quite the contrary.  The article is taken from the Irish Socialist Democracy website here, where it appeared on June 30.  It is a timely reminder that people need to be judged by their politics rather than being lauded because they are gay and/or female and/or brown.

The election of Leo Varadkar as Fine Gael leader – and his assumption of the role of Taoiseach – has been hailed as a watershed event in Ireland.  This perspective – which is particularity prevalent in international media coverage – carries the assumption that identity is the overriding factor in contemporary politics.  Within this framework the election of a relatively young gay man of ethnic migrant descent – standing in stark contrast to the profile of leaders that went before – is indeed a seminal event.  The other assumption attached to this identity-centred perspective is that a person from such a background will have a more liberal approach to politics.  However, a consideration of the record of Leo Varadkar quickly debunks such assumptions.      

Right-wing

Despite his relative youth, Varadkar is a long standing member of Fine Gael (he claims to have joined as a 17 year old) – the most conservative party in the state – and has consistently occupied the most right-wing positions on a range of issues, including those related to sexuality and race.  In 2010 he opposed the Civil Partnership Bill and also raised concerns over the prospect of gay couples  (more…)

Epitomising sanctimonious bourgeois respectability

by Phil Duncan

Labour is, politically, a respectable bourgeois party.

Sociologically, it is peopled largely by respectable liberal middle class people.  Just take a look at the backgrounds of Labour MPs, the party’s top managers and new folks on the Labour party list for September.

They are overwhelmingly people who are thoroughly removed from the reality of poverty and people struggling to make ends meet.

They want all the poor people – people struggling to survive on the smell of an oily rag – to be respectably bourgeois like themselves. Such well-behaved poor people can then be grateful supplicants, looked after by the patronising Labour do-gooders.

And poor people who help themselves – like to a few extra bucks to feed their kids, as Metiria Turei did – are to be roundly condemned by respectable bourgeois like Jacinda Ardern and her idiot fan club.

Reminds me of the (more…)