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Ukraine and the shape of politics to come February 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in International Politics, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Thanks to Jim Monaghan for posting this link to a very clearly written piece on Ukraine that cuts through a lot of the rhetoric we’re being subjected to on that subject from points various, whether the mainstream accounts of what is happening or elsewhere. It’s main points, that Ukraine isn’t a clear cut example of fascism versus an embattled democratically elected government, or said government versus the IMF or whatever is very necessary to keep front and centre.

One of the key points in this is made by the author of the piece, Mark Ames, when he writes:

In Ukraine, there is no populist left politics, even though the country’s deepest problem is inequality and oligarchy. Memories of the Soviet Union play a big role in turning people off to populist-left politics there, for understandable reasons.

But the Ukrainians do have a sense of people power that is rare in the world, and it goes back to the first major protests in 2000, through the success of the Orange Revolution. The masses understand their power-in-numbers to overthrow bad governments, but they haven’t forged a populist politics to change their situation and redistribute power by redistributing wealth.

The latter paragraph is a consequence, it seems reasonable to suggest, to the dynamics extant in the first paragraph. With no popular left alternative, not even a vaguely social democratic one, of any real size – and a look at the wiki page on the composition of the Ukrainian parliament is instructive, it’s as if Ukraine has a large party right of Fine Gael, and another right of Fianna Fáil and another a bit like a cross between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and the social democratic left is unrepresented though there is a CP representation and a heap of Independents (sounds familiar?) – it is locked into a situation where radicalism will almost of necessity be expressed increasingly to the right of the spectrum and in then most noxious ways possible.

The depressing aspect of this, and Ames points clearly to it, is that there is a sense of collective mass action and the potential in it, but that it is directed and shaped to deliver a means of ejecting governments, but not to ensuring that their successors are any better. It’s as if they are in a political loop where there is a degree of agency to the people, in so far as they can go through the same motions, but progress achieved appears minimal.

Ames makes one other troubling point.

The front-center role of Svoboda and the neo-fascists in this revolution as opposed to the Orange Revolution is, I think, due to fact that the more smiley-face/respectable neoliberal politicians can’t rally the same fanatical support they did a decade ago.

That has an importance well beyond the borders of Ukraine. Indeed in my darker moments I wonder if politics in this state, and elsewhere in Europe, may be heading in a not dissimilar direction, where because the centre of gravity of political activity in the so-called ‘mainstream’ has tilted so far to the right the left as an option, in any of its forms, is now fading.
It’s actually not that difficult to see a situation emerge where the predominance of the centre right and right of centre parties here – which is an unarguable fact across the history of the state, is strengthened further towards the right. And particularly in relation to governance.

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Comments»

1. Roger Cole - February 27, 2014

Good article. In what could shape up to be a major conflict, Ireland should seek to remain neutral. However there are already those who are advocating that the EU Battle Groups should be sent into the Ukraine. The fact is that the Irish political elite led by Kenny & Gilmore are signed up lock stock and barrel to the EU/US/NATO military structures which was the key point of the Lisbon Treaty, which is why, along with the rest of the elite they forced us to vote again until we gave the “right” answer. The consequence of the decision forced on us by this motley collection of neo-Redmondites and William Walker socialists could become very clear in the not to distant future. As far as they are concerned, it will be a fitting way to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1914-18 Imperialist war.

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EWI - February 27, 2014

And the very determined efforts to re-write Irish history in a Redmondite mould are all too obvious (as is the increasing NATO-isation of the DF).

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

That’s something that seems to have been in train a long while now, isn’t it re Redmondite approaches to Irish history. Bruton was perhaps the most overt cheerleader (Stephen Collins is no slouch either).

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EWI - February 27, 2014

It’s become particularly brazen in the past ten years, though (the coincidence of this with the GFA isn’t likely to be accidental).

There’s one particular exhibition in a certain public building in Dublin which is brazenly unionist, and there’s plans to locate, purchase and reinstate Britsih war memorials in Phoenix Park. FG and Labour are both behind these efforts.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

You know, I wouldn’t mind about parity of esteem in that direction if it was reflected in ensuring parity of esteem in other spheres say respect of flags in Belfast on the part of the RoI government in relation to putting pressure on the British to support what was a very reasonable proposal (so reasonable Alliance signed up). But it ain’t there.

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EWI - February 27, 2014

I wouldn’t mind a senior British government and military delegation to take a highly public part in the 1916 commemorations and such, to reciprocate our bending over backwards about the British Army and World War I. But I’d be surprised to see it.

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Brian Hanley - February 27, 2014

Be careful what you wish for. Aren’t the British Royal Family being invited to the 2016 commemorations?

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

Yes, that would be an interesting token. And under the Tories? High highly unlikely.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

Sorry that was in response to EWI. Is that right Brian. If I knew it had slipped my mind.

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2. Jim Monaghan - February 27, 2014

The 3 empires EU, USA and Russia should stay out and encourage the various sectors to compromise. And indeed to respect each other’s rights and I include the Crimean Tatars in this. A nation deported by Stalin during WW2. Stalin could have taught Cromwell lessons in deportations.

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Ceannaire - March 2, 2014

How are the EU and Russia empires? Russia may have imperial ambitions, but it has no allies except Assad outside the ex-Soviet bloc, and the EU is if anything an appendage to the US empire.

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3. EWI - February 27, 2014

So fascism and neoliberalism are the future, and republicanism and socialism are dead? What a depressing thought.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

I hope they’re not, but I wonder if Ukraine sort of offers a vision of a potential future where the dial is shifted so far rightwards that everything is in relation to that. There’s more than an element of that in US politics, the radicalism of the Tea Party is right radicalism, etc. And Ireland of course. Where there have been mass (or more realistically large) social democratic parties even when those parties have decamped to the centre or centre right there’s been sufficient inertia to halt a lot of the rightward shift.

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EWI - February 27, 2014

I don’t think the problem is that the public have changed. I think the problem is (a) the end of the Cold War, and the judgement by the Western elites (business and politics) that they no longer need to buy off the people with even the appearance of a fair society [1], and (b) the establishment of a very well-funded international network in the West to sponsor new generations of right-wingery, who even when they’re out of power are well looked after by their ultimate benefactors. Look at the kept stables of Murdoch, O’Reilly and O’Brien agitators.

[1] Actually, I’d claim there’s a lot of similarity in this when it comes to the veer into Redmondism/unionism by certain political tendencies, now that the Provos are ‘gone’. They no longer have to pretend to be Republican.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

I’m sure you’re right re the public not changing, or at least not fundamentally. Indeed isn’t that the point of Ames piece that there is an appetite for something better but that it is in a sense blocked by the parties that are extant and powerful in the Ukrainian set up (granted the Soviet period probably didn’t help in relation to damaging left approaches – but then what’s the excuse in this state for a similar aversion to the left?).

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EWI - February 27, 2014

I don’t know what the solution is to stranglehold by party machines which have such highly-evolved patronage (look at all the NGOs, charities, business boards etc.).

I think the closest model we’ve got here is the Irish Party (I don’t think FF are finished yet, not by a long way). How did SF supplant them? It took a combination of the 1916 Rising and the Conscription Crisis, along with offering -a s you say – a better hope for the future, which they then established with the First Dáil.

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

True, and I wonder if the fact nationalism was a significant aspect of that (or perhaps proto-Republicanism) is a missing ingredient today. In the sense that the North isn’t going to kick off again and that sort of feeling is low level and hard to think of a clear focus (even the EU after the crisis provides a very diffuse target, in the sense of the broader public).

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EWI - February 27, 2014

I think ‘national feeling’ is a prerequisite for fascism, republicanism and maybe even socialism, but is absolutely anathema to neo-liberalism – which is maybe one reason why there are such efforts to dilute it (like the recent attempt on no longer teaching Irish history, or certain immigration policies).

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Gewerkschaftler - February 28, 2014

I’m not so sure EWI. Neo-liberal market power is allergic to counter-powers, especially potentially democratic ones, which limit it’s hegemony.

Sometimes these counter-powers can be nations. But more often than not the national ruling/owning elites operate as facilitators for global market power. See Ireland and corporation tax avoidance.

Increasingly hegemonic market power can’t be arsed with the national level, and likes to impose it’s world-structure an the federated level. The current TIPP ‘negotiations’ are about emasculating possible democratic counter-power in the elected part of the US government and heading off possible EU parliamentary counter-power. Oh and, of course, trades union and consumer association power.

Actually now I think about it and to partially contradict myself – TIPP is both an attack on the federated level and an attack on possible national democratic resistance within the EU.

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Paul Wilson. - March 1, 2014

http://peoplesworld.org/ukrainian-communists-defend-constitution-vs-ultra-right-privatizers/ WBS Interesting link that was posted on WP facebook page.

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6to5against - February 27, 2014

Tangential to this, I was chatting to a group of 15 yr olds today about the future. I asked how many expected the world to be a better place in 50 years than it is now. 2 out of 23 thought so. The rest all expected it to be worse. I asked if they thought Ireland / the world was a better place now than it was 50 years ago, and all agreed that it was.

Whither such pessimism? I have no real answer, but I’m inclined to think this. Social democracy for all it’s faults, is/was based on the idea of a better future. Does any party sell such a concept now? The general style of argument in politics is either the ‘no alternative ‘ position, or the ‘ it will be even worse if we don’t…’ position.

I worry about the future. And I worry about the world view of a bunch of (very pleasant) young men starved of optimism.

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Logan - February 27, 2014

Well, i think part of the reason that teenagers tend to be pessimistic is that one of the largest “lefty” (pseudo lefty more like) parties popular amongst them is the Green Party.
The main long term policy of the Green Party seems to be “Global warming is inevitably turning the earth into a hellhole – and although we are all certain it is too late to prevent this happening, join the Green Party to make the future slightly less grim” (not better, just slightly less grim).

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

I’d be interested in what you both think in relation to that issue, better in 50 years time or worse?

Just on another tangent, how much support does the GP have any longer amongst young people?

The tragic failure of social democracy was to stop believing in the future and stop believing it was possible to make things significantly better, not just improvements here and there but fundamental changes in society.

I’ve been reading a lot about the tenements in Dublin and it is true there’s been significant progress, albeit partial and borne as much it seems to me by technological and changing work patterns as direct state intervention (at least in the RoI). But that thread of a sense of tomorrow better than today etc, that you speak of 6to5against has been lost.

Another quote I often think about was Nick Cohen’s thought in his book on the ‘left’ where he that things couldn’t really be significantly more left wing (and by extension better) in a liberal democracy ie any dispensation was more or less as it was when he wrote it and that was satisfactory enough. I think he may be revising that opinion in light of the Tory/LD government. The right doesn’t stop at one or two gains or fold its tent and shift leftwards when it gets knocked back how ever many times. But somehow the social democratic left did.

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6to5against - February 27, 2014

thats a really good point, Logan about the GP. I often wonder if they couldn’t try to sell themselves a little more by offering a more inspiring vision. Its very easy to listen to some activists and conclude that there’s really no point in even trying.

WBS, my own instinct is that things will get worse for another decade or more, maybe 20 years. But that within 50 years, we’ll surely be on an upswing.

I really was surprised by the kids. I really think had I been asked that question when I was 15 – early 80s – that I would have been optimistic then, and I think most of my classmates would have been too.

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hardcorefornerds - February 27, 2014

Well, I’m a young (26) person and I’ve voted Green in each election I’ve been eligible for, in much the same way most of you would vote ‘Red’ (broadly speaking) because, whatever other failings the particular party or even movement may have, I believe it’s too important an issue to go unrepresented electorally. Of course I reckon part of that is probably to do with coming of age during a period of relative, or rather more widespread, prosperity when the term ‘postmaterialist politics’ seemed applicable. Still even without that I reckon I’d still find most further left politics in Ireland as tired and unengaging as I do now; even though I share the basic critique of what’s wrong, I don’t have much faith in their solutions or see in them the reflection of the really radical political disjunctures that either exist already or are likely coming very soon. Not that Green politics is sufficiently distinct from neoliberalism for my own taste or comfort, but the environment still seems the clearer, more pressing issue than the muddle of trying to extricate ourselves from capitalism by socialist (let alone revolutionary) means. Maybe a more sustainable economy will be the modern equivalent of the more solidaristic one that social democracy achieved in its compromise.

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Liberius - February 28, 2014

What is the ‘sustainable’ economy though? It’s always struck me that while greens may feel that throwing around words like sustainable is enough, the reality on the ground is that most people, that is most ordinary people, need something more tangible to their own lives than an urbane variation of the bucolic that most greens seem to think is the answer to climate change. You may think that we as ‘reds’ don’t have the answers to the modern world but I’d wager that real people are even less convinced by the green alternative. Real people want progress, not regression, which is why the green ideology has found it difficult to grow beyond the affluent and the waiting-to-be affluent; the future for environmentalism isn’t with the green movement but with those with a belief in science rather than gaia, namely us ‘reds’.

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hardcorefornerds - February 28, 2014

“those with a belief in science rather than gaia” I can’t say I’ve seen the lattered mentioned in the environmental context this century (unless possibly in another warning of doom by Lovelock) while scientific socialism I thought went out with the wall?

Also I’m being slightly glib in referring to Reds and Greens, but by way of making the point that the differences are to a large extent essentially cultural.

To answer your point seriously, I would see my own ultimate vision of sustainability as something very much like that of socialism or communism in the ideal sense. I’d also see ‘sustainable’ implying a political as well as environmental dimension, given the threat of resource wars, the need for democratic control of resources and human activity outside of market pressures. Of course you can justifiably say the green movement doesn’t do much to argue for those aims, and indeed to readily adapts to the market when it is outside of the socialist left politics, but I think the current aims are a) highlighting the negative of the’unsustainable’ and b) arguing for gradual positive reforms, while not abandoning the radical and fundamental threat that must be faced.

As to your last point, perhaps one could argue for a kind of environmental false consciousness whereby the alienation inherent in a capitalist consumer society cuts off many, without the further resources to explore and appreciate the natural world, from identifyong with it.

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Liberius - February 28, 2014

It’s funny you should mention lovelock as only this morning what did I find in my local Easons’ science section? Lovelock’s brand new autobiography is what I found*; he can take that ‘independent’ scientist nonsense and stuff it as far as I’m concerned.

In truth it might have been more apt to make my point about the green movement by invoking the conflict between the Green Party run council in Brighton and its crusade against Brighton’s bin men and their favourite lunch of bacon buttys. It had nothing to do with environmentalism beyond ludicrous tokenism, but that didn’t stop them. The reality is that most greens come with a view of the world that is infested with, as I said above, a urbane variety of the bucolic. They may be confused enough to believe wholeheartedly that growing organic vegetables, banning bacon and taxing carbon are adequate solutions to the problem, but for the rest of us we can see the stupid tokenism and daftness in it. The only serious solutions to climate change and environmental damage are using heavy industry to mass produce wind mills, solar panels, nuclear power plants or hydrogen fuel cells to power the world in an efficient, clean and adequate fashion and the urbanisation of the whole worlds population of they take up less space. These aren’t things which are likely to appeal to a green movement run by assorted members of the affluent professions. Their views are nothing more than an ‘eco-conscious’ updating on those ‘red tories’ that were talked about a few weeks back on clr.

* http://www.easons.com/p-2720443-homage-to-gaia.aspx#sthash.yc6u9yc8.dpbs

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hardcorefornerds - February 28, 2014

@Liberius my point is being proven about the cultural difference, and antagonism, between greens and the non-green left; I’ve stated I don’t have a very high personal opinion about current further left parties/politics in Ireland, but I don’t feel the need to criticise their motives and means of expression in the same way you appear to with environmentalism. Anyway, this doesn’t make much sense: “growing organic vegetables, banning bacon and taxing carbon” – so reducing the dependence on environmentally damaging chemicals in intensive agriculture, reducing the similarly environmentally damaging consumption of meat, and addressing the negative externalities associated with current energy use aren’t fundamentally important issues? Aside from, that is, my not sharing the full fetishism for organic food (it is however usually higher quality, as befits more artisanal produce, compared to industrially produced and processed food which, in the West at least, is at least partly aimed at reducing costs so consumption can be directed elsewhere), and having never seen a suggestion that bacon should be banned, and not really fathoming what the objection to carbon taxes are other than they’re not fully revolutionary.

Those industrial aims you mention are already happening – it takes a redirection of economic incentives, however, and the green movement is at least useful in pushing the moral/environmental imperative for them while the left struggles to gain any traction on broader economic issues. The idea that ‘heavy industry’ is an impediment to Green aims in that respect belongs back in the 1970s, along with the idea that it’s some sort of middle-class Good Life project. After all, can’t much the same be said of the middle-class predilection for theoretical socialism?

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Liberius - February 28, 2014

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9165595.Brighton_and_Hove_binmen_get____meat_free_Monday____the_chop/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brighton-rot-refuse-collectors-strike-causes-stink-in-britains-greenest-city-8667568.html

@hardcorefornerds – I think you’ll find the first link is ample proof of the green party’s war on the bin men’s culinary choices. Of course that is probably less serious than the attempt to reduce their wages, which is the content of the second link

And, on a more substantive point I think this line is more than illuminating into the mode of thinking I have a problem with:

“(it is however usually higher quality, as befits more artisan produce, compared to industrially produced and processed food which, in the West at least, is at least partly aimed at reducing costs so consumption can be directed elsewhere)”.

Now if you can tell me how to produce artisan food for seven billion people then I’m ears; otherwise, I think I’ll just stick to my previous point of view.

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hardcorefornerds - February 28, 2014

“Ms Lucas has come out broadly in support of the GMB, so Jason Kitcat, the Green council leader, is widely held responsible for the mess – with an open letter from his party in the local paper calling for his resignation.” Clearly not a monolithic movement then.
How does the bin-men’s need for daily meat (agreed, that was a stupid decision to try and enforce) stack up with global experience where daily meat would be a luxury for much of the 7 billion? I don’t know how artisanal food could be produced for all, and that wasn’t really my point (it was an aside on the benefit of organic food in contexts where it is affordable), but at the same time I don’t see how we can rely on an industrial agriculture that is deeply connected with capitalist, petrochemical and free-trade interests (despite, according to a UN statistic I came across recently, only a minority – 18% iirc – of the world’s food being traded internationally) at the expense of environmental concerns among others.

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Gewerkschaftler - February 28, 2014

Very interesting reply @hardcorefornerds.

During one phase, my younger self could have been described as a social-democratic green, because I then saw the destruction of the ecological basis for human life as the number one issue. It still is.

I guess the difference between then and now, (I would describe myself now as a green anti-capitalist), is that I’ve come to realise there is no hope of addressing any of the ecological issues we face and what might come under the rubric ‘sustainable economy’, without severely curtailing the power of the market and bringing all relevant fields – energy, food production, housing, transport etc. under common (not necessarily state) ownership and democratic control.

By the time we’ve achieved the latter the hill we will have to climb to reach sustainability will be much steeper – but optimism of the will, and all that.

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hardcorefornerds - February 28, 2014

I guess my response to that would be that I don’t particularly see much hope of the socialist/revolutionary left achieving those changes in the immediate future, whereas the environmentalist movement might elucidate the necessity for them to the general population. Although really that shows the need for the two to act together.

Apologies for the typos in the reply above, typing on a tablet on a train…

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4. que - February 27, 2014

wbs,

I am afraid my dark places are darker and I hope I don’t contribute to your fears but… I think your analysis that the political centre has shifted so far right that the left is maybe now being pushed away from the centre of the debate i.e. the right had as its political opposites a different type of right is I think very accurate.

I read recently about a party in the British Independent or the Guardian can’t recall which about an Austria party thats fighting the use of zero hour style contracts. That party was none other than Jorg Haider’s old party and they were making hay.

Here is a Canadian article after a two second search found to show the same angle on Le Pen: ‘The Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, daughter of the old xenophobic warhorse Jean-Marie Le Pen, is actually to the left of France’s ruling Socialist Party in some ways—the Front favours higher welfare spending and economic protectionism’. Didn’t know the paper but it appears to be 2nd largest in Canada. However its the danger of the meme thats the key thing

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/can-the-euro-last/article17123106/

So yes I think there is a shift there when you can read an article like that. Hell even look at the tories trying to be a ‘ workers party’

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WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2014

How is it that mainstream left parties, let alone further left parties (who may well be fighting those battles in Austria) are allowing the far right to take that sort of an issue and help make it their own. That’s insane, isn’t it que.

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EWI - February 27, 2014

Maybe it’s down to a confusion between liberals and lefties, and the way that liberals have taken advantage of that to come to power in supposed labour parties. That lesson has been hard-bought in the US.

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que - February 27, 2014

Mainstream left parties too often didn’t really worry about that think for the last decade though did they and the further left was on the back foot. Nature abhors a vacuum political as well as physical and I think they were able to work that space.

Once they get into that space then its going to be hard to work them from it. An example is in the Lisbon referendum where IIRC there was a tv show where the no side was represented by Mary Lou McD and an MEP from the Danish People’s party which a far right party.

Synchronised on one particular point but inevitably problematic because of the credibility it extends to them. That will happen repeatedly going forward in European politics.

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que - February 27, 2014

by the by persons who followed discussion on this site on equal marriage rights might be interested to know that the Globe and Mail is apparently the newspaper that created the phrase paraphrased ‘ govt. has no business in the bedroom’ – wiki has the full story

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5. Roger Cole - February 28, 2014

When I said Gilmore & Kenny were acting like Remond & Walker I was referring to their support for a little bit of Home Rule within the context of support for imperial wars. I was not suggesting they want to restore the British Empire, but that they advocate Irish Home Rule within an emerging European Empire, while at the same time accepting that their support for the imperialist 1914-18 war is part of ensuring imperialism again becomes the dominate ideology. Making imperialism ok in the past is part of making imperialism ok in the present. This is why the British No Glory in War is such progressive development. PANA decision to mark the foundation of the Irish Neutrality League by James Connolly is another such project.
The problem for the imperialist however is that they do not have the support of the Irish people. The RecC poll PANA commissioned in September 2013 showed that 78% of the people supported Irish neutrality and in the 18-34 age group that figure increased to 84%.
So while it is true the RTE and virtually all the rest ignored the media, the imperialist will have more difficulty to gain mass support to go to war with Russia over the Ukraine than Redmond had with war with Germany. Not that they won’t try. It will certainly very likely to make the militarisation of the EU with Battle Groups etc a much more important issue in the EU elections in May

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6. doctorfive - February 28, 2014

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/88987cf8-9f12-11e3-8663-00144feab7de.html#axzz2ue8D29Rs

“This government is fated to serve only three to four months as it will need to take some unpopular decisions,” Oleksandr Turchynov, acting president, told the throng as the names of Mr Yatseniuk and other putative senior members of the new administration were announced.

The country’s business community was more enthusiastic. “Yatseniuk is a very experienced politician with understanding of what business needs and of the global financial markets,” said Tomas Fiala, president of the Kiev-based European Business Association and founder of investment bank Dragon Capital.

Business leaders are also supportive of calls by Kiev’s latest leaders to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund

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7. roddy - February 28, 2014

With regard to the redmondite approach to Irish history,I have to say that those who regard integrated education as the answer to all our ills in the North tend to overlook the importance of how history is taught.I attended a catholic school which I detested but it had one redeeming feature in that there was no pro imperialist slant to history.The RUC and British army were kept out and there was no union jackery or grovelling to royality. All this would have been par for the course in the integrated sector,poppys on sale (etc) .By all means find a mechanism to educate children together but without foisting an imperialist ethos on them.

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Bob Smiles - March 1, 2014

Are you confusing integrated schools with state schools?

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Garibaldy - March 1, 2014

Just for the sake of accuracy, all schoolpupils in NI are taught history in accordance with a common curriculum as part of the Education for Mutual Understanding idea, and have been for a long time.

I’ve no idea whether poppies are sold in integrated schools, but then I’ve no idea if Easter lillies are sold there either, or if the wearing of one is banned but not the other. I’d like to see some evidence for the idea that any sympathetic portrayal of Irish republicanism is a complete no no.

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8. CL - March 1, 2014

Strange happenings in Ukraine. Tangled threads. Maybe a merging of fascism and Stalinism. Too fantastic?
“The Russian media continually make the claim that the Ukrainians who protest are Nazis…
The strange thing about the claim from Moscow is the political ideology of those who make it….
The Eurasian ideology draws an entirely different lesson from the twentieth century. Founded around 2001 by the Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, it proposes the realization of National Bolshevism. Rather than rejecting totalitarian ideologies, Eurasianism calls upon politicians of the twenty-first century to draw what is useful from both fascism and Stalinism.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/mar/20/fascism-russia-and-ukraine/?insrc=toc

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CL - March 2, 2014

Stephen Cohen in The Nation offers a counter-view to the Snyder piece (above,8)
“ Perhaps the largest untruth promoted by Snyder and most US media is the claim that “Ukraine’s future integration into Europe” is “yearned for throughout the country.” But every informed observer knows—from Ukraine’s history, geography, languages, religions, culture, recent politics and opinion surveys—that the country is deeply divided as to whether it should join Europe or remain close politically and economically to Russia….
The now exceedingly dangerous confrontation between the two Ukraines was not “ignited,” as the Times claims, by Yanukovych’s duplicitous negotiating—or by Putin—but by the EU’s reckless ultimatum, in November, that the democratically elected president of a profoundly divided country choose between Europe and Russia. Putin’s proposal for a tripartite arrangement, rarely if ever reported, was flatly rejected by US and EU officials….
Any doubts about the Obama administration’s real intentions in Ukraine should have been dispelled by the recently revealed taped conversation between a top State Department official, Victoria Nuland, and the US ambassador in Kiev. The media predictably focused on the source of the “leak” and on Nuland’s verbal “gaffe”—“Fuck the EU.” But the essential revelation was that high-level US officials were plotting to “midwife” a new, anti-Russian Ukrainian government by ousting or neutralizing its democratically elected president—that is, a coup.”

http://www.thenation.com/article/178344/distorting-russia

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Eamonncork - March 2, 2014

Phew, that lets Putin off the hook. I was worried there for a second that if the Russians invaded the Ukraine they might have some responsibility for their decision. Instead it’s all the fault of the EU.

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CL - March 2, 2014

Crimea was an administrative region of Russia until 1954 when Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine. The Black Sea fleet has been based in Crimea for over 200yrs. It now appears very unlikely that Crimea will return to Ukrainian rule any time soon.
New ‘facts on the ground’.

Here’s more from Cohen “The Western authorities, who bear some responsibility for what’s happened, and who therefore also have blood on their hands, are taking no responsibility. They’re uttering utterly banal statements, which, because of their vacuous nature, are encouraging and rationalizing the people in Ukraine who are throwing Molotov cocktails, now have weapons, are shooting at police. We wouldn’t permit that in any Western capital, no matter how righteous the cause, but it’s being condoned by the European Union and Washington as events unfold.”

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/20/a_new_cold_war_ukraine_violence

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yourcousin - March 2, 2014

Oh well since it was once part of the Russian empire that totally makes things cool.

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EamonnCork - March 2, 2014

So the fact that demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at the police mean it was OK for the police to shoot them? And the regime was overthrown because of ‘banal statements’ by the ‘Western authorities.’ Ah yes, it’s that familiar load of bollocks whereby the Ukrainians, like the Syrians before them, have no agency and are brainwashed by the West. As, if you want to follow this noble historical line of argument, were the Hungarians in 1956, the Czechs in 1968, Solidarity, the Afghan resistance etc.
For some people Russian imperialism will always be justified. And should Putin go on to slaughter a few thousand, it will be the west’s fault for winding him up.

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CL - March 2, 2014

EC, I don’t think Stephen Cohen is supporting Russian imperialism. Its a different view from that of Snyder.
But Russia does have legitimate strategic concerns. Control of the Black Sea is a vital Russian interest.
The ‘West’ will do nothing militarily; Obama has spoken about a line that should not be crossed. Well it has now been crossed, and the response is much rhetoric from the Obama administration.
Putin wins.

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WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2014

One odd contradiction in some left lines of argument is that somehow the sort of demonstrations in Ukraine are illegitimate because they’ve led to a President being ousted, and yet it seems to me the logic of many of the campaigns I’ve been involved in and protests I’ve been on has been no dissimilar, that even if people are elected democratically that the mobilisation of sufficient people is justification in and of itself for at least a shift in state policy or a changein government. I’m not arguing the rights and wrongs of Ukraine (like you CL I suspect Kiev can wave goodbye to Crimea, and thought it’s murky there’s at least a passing argument that the 1950s decision was poorly thought out, considered only in passing and deeply problematic), but just there does seem to be a contradiction here.

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CL - March 2, 2014

WBS, I tend to agree on the demos and replacement of govts. ets. Yanukovych is a kleptocrat and a killer. And now that the IMF is on its way to Kiev his replacements will I suppose have some legitimacy.
Yet Cohen has a point about attributing all the blame to Putin. The former British ambassador to Moscow has a similar view.
“Much recent comment on Ukraine in the British press has been marked by a barely forgivable ignorance about its history and politics, an overhasty willingness to put the blame for all its troubles on Vladimir Putin, and an almost total inability to suggest practical ways of bringing effective Western influence to bear on a solution.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/ukraine-crisis-no-wonder-vladimir-putin-says-crimea-is-russian-9162734.html

The west bungled and gave Putin a pretext to (re)take Crimea. Without controlling the Black Sea, Russia does not have access to a warm water port.
In 1854/55 127,000 men were killed defending Sebastopol. It will take more than blather from Obama and Kerry to force Putin to relinquish Crimea.

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WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2014

CL, I’m absolutely not saying that contradiction is in your argument, just more broadly.

Anyhow, I’m a great believe myself in the concept of recall of politicians!

I think that Russia won’t give up Crimea. It’s very very hard to see any roll back of a de facto situation where at the very least Russian influence in Crimea is consolidated.

As to blame, I thought the original piece by Mark Ames linked to above was excellent too in puncturing the comfortable myths on all sides, whether western or Russian.

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EamonnCork - March 2, 2014

I’m just always wary, CL, of justifications for these Russian ‘interventions.’ It’s possible to construct a similar, ‘protection of the Russian minority’ case for similar stuff in Latvia and Lithuania.
And yes, as is the case with Syria, Obama won’t do a bit. Which won’t stop some people from portraying the whole situation as being engineered by American warmongers.
What leaves a particularly bad taste in my mouth is the point Wbs has mentioned, the article’s sniffiness about the violent nature of the demonstrations which brought about regime change. There was plenty of violence in some of the anti-globalisation protests but I don’t think anyone here would have thought governments were justified in breaking out the guns.
As for Russian ‘legitimate strategic concerns’, the old LSCs were what America used to justify its interventions in Central America. That didn’t make them right and it doesn’t make this right.

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CL - March 2, 2014

EC, I’m not saying that ‘strategic concerns’ make the intervention ‘right’. But since Peter the Great, Russian imperial expansion has been motivated by seeking access to the sea. These strategic concerns don’t justify the intervention, but make it more understandable. The former British ambassador and Stephen Cohen, a former Bush advisor, are not advocates of Russian imperialism, just because they point out that the policy of the West may have been a contributory factor.
( A few days ago I linked to this article in the Examiner which states ‘Thirty-thousand Irish men lost their lives in the Crimean War (1853-1856) between Britain and Russia.’ This figure is false. The total British dead were around twenty thousand. The Russians lost hundreds of thousands. The Irish dead? considerably less than the thirty thousand cited by Victoria White.)

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/columnists/victoria-white/we-already-paid-the-ultimate-price-in-crimea-we-must-not-do-so-again-260197.html

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Eamonncork - March 3, 2014

On the RTE news the other night it was reported that, ‘tensions are at an all-time high in the Crimea.’ History, who needs it?

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CL - March 3, 2014

“if Putin thought that the west was angling to get the Ukraine into Nato, he certainly would have taken steps as he has to guarantee access to the Black Sea ports in Crimea and to safeguard military establishments which could be used to threaten that access.”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/03/ukraine-theres-no-way-out-unless-the-west-understands-its-past-mistakes

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CL - March 3, 2014

“Nato should refrain from interfering in Ukraine by word or deed. The fact that it insists on getting engaged reveals the elephant in the room: underlying the crisis in Crimea and Russia’s fierce resistance to potential changes is Nato’s undisguised ambition to continue two decades of expansion into what used to be called “post-Soviet space”, led by Bill Clinton and taken up by successive administrations in Washington. At the back of Pentagon minds, no doubt, is the dream that a US navy will one day replace the Russian Black Sea fleet in the Crimean ports of Sevastopol and Balaclava.”-

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/02/not-too-late-for-ukraine-nato-should-back-off

Geo-poliitcally, geo-economically, geo-strategically control of the Black Sea is vital to Russian interests. So Putin has (re)taken Crimea. How will the ‘West’ react

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9. Liberius - March 1, 2014

@hardcorefornerds – I think I’m not alone here in thinking that the comments system has been acting a touch weird in recent days, so apologies for the strange placement of this reply

Granted the Green Party’s leadership and Caroline Lucas did hang Jason Kitcat out to dry, but I would wonder what kind of culture existed in the Brighton section of the Green Party that ever elevated Jason Kitcat to such a position of power. Or in other words, is it really possible to leave him with all the blame?

My own point was never that the whole world currently enjoys a large meat intake but rather that the obsession amongst greens about advocating food that they see as healthy, wholesome and environmentally friendly is ultimately not going to feed the world’s population. I don’t really see how we can feed the world’s population without using industrial production techniques. Page four of the pdf linked below contains an example of what I mean; in table 2 we can see that the yield of an open field of cucumbers is 30 metric tonnes per hectare per year, but by contrast the yield of a hydroponically produced cucumber is 600 metric tonnes per hectare per year. That is twenty-times the amount of yield of the open field and exactly the reason why I object to the attitude of greens to the industrial production of food, if greens ignore either the benefits of industrial production or ignore that notion that hydroponics are an example of industrial production then what are we to think of their views? My points have never been about denigrating environmentalism, just objecting to the naïvety of the predominantly middle-class green movement. Again it is all well and fine to laud the quality of artisan food, but can it be produced for all?

http://ag.arizona.edu/ceac/sites/ag.arizona.edu.ceac/files/Merle%20overview.pdf

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WorldbyStorm - March 1, 2014

Sorry a chairde, there’s something about the nesting rules in wordpress for comments which has gone awry. Myself and ivorthorne are having similar problem on another thread. I’ll go searching a solution.

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WorldbyStorm - March 1, 2014

BTW, that’s an excellent point Liberius about food production. I’m with you on that.

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Liberius - March 1, 2014

WbS, I sent an email to you last night containing the piece on Swedish opinion polls that I’ve been writing. I just wanted to check you’ve received it as I’ve found in recent times that my use of the German email service GMX has been something of a problem for various spam filters.

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WorldbyStorm - March 1, 2014

Liberius, sent a response a few minutes ago, had thought I sent it last night so apologies.

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yourcousin - March 1, 2014

I think that we ignore an economy of scale at our own risk. To act as if industrial agriculture is the answer is to ignore the reality of agribusiness and the very real consequences which go with it. To lock ourselves into the current model which tries to get more and more from less and less is setting us up for disastrous failure. Again, spend some time around modern food processing and the petro-chemicals which enable modern “farming” and I think most folks would agree that a change is needed. I don’t really have time for the “feel good” organic style of food but to say that we need modern industrial farming is just wrong.

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Liberius - March 2, 2014

I’d argue that it isn’t really fair to be suggesting that when I say ‘industrial production’ I mean blasting the land with chemicals. I used hydroponics as my example exactly because it is an efficient and urban form of agriculture; put it this way, if you build a four-floored building that covers one hectare and fill it with hydroponics equipment to grow cucumbers, according to that PDF I’ve linked to above you’d be able grow a total of 2400 metric tonnes of the cucumbers in that building per year, but by contrast you’d only be able to grow 30 metric tonnes of cucumbers if that same land had been used as an ordinary field. That is 80 times as much by weight, how could it be argued that industrial production isn’t the way to feed people with that kind of figure?

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yourcousin - March 2, 2014

Liberius,
I am not opposed to using say hydroponics in certain urban situations, but when you approach agriculture as somehow removed from the land and as a commodity where yield is the number one factor you are already headed down the road to ruin. There has been enough food to feed people many times over, the arguments that we need industrial techniques to grow more food, to justify “modern” farming because we have to feed the world misses the point that hunger exists in this world due to how the existing food is distributed, not that there isn’t enough. But the reality is that you cannot feed the world indefinitely with fewer farmers on less land while using good land husbandry techniques.

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Liberius - March 2, 2014

But isn’t that it though, my hypothetical hydroponic factory produces the same amount of food as an ordinary farm on a fraction of the amount of land as the conventional farm would. In the example I gave the factory would cover an area of only one hectare or one-tenth of a square kilometre, while the equivalent farm would cover 80 hectares or 8 square kilometres. Even if you don’t think about it as being about producing an ever increasing quantity of food surely you’d have to concede that devoting less land to agriculture would be beneficial for both flora and fauna? I can’t help but think that the mass deforestation that happened in Europe would be less likely to be repeated across if we engaged in the urbanisation of agriculture. To me at least, land is a scare resource that needs to be used in an efficient fashion. From that view I’ve concluded that the answers are the increased urbanisation of the population in high density towns and cities and the urbanisation of agriculture into buildings covering less space; this may not be a viewpoint that has much appeal to the green movement, but it is a viewpoint which would be both beneficial to human society and to the wildlife of the world. Leave the countryside to the deer and lynx, man can have the town; at least that provides equilibrium.

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yourcousin - March 2, 2014

Liberius
The very problem we have now is the fact that right now more food is being produced on fewer acres, by fewer people than ever before. Again, reconnecting urban populations with their food is a good thing, but to fully commodify food as in literally producing it in a factory setting is extraordinarily disconcerting. There is no reason that agriculture cannot be beneficial to the earth other than human arrogance and the willingness to harm the earth that gives us life. The idea that we are smarter than the natural order of things is parts of what gets us into trouble in the first place. Mankind needs to learn how to be a citizen of the natural world not just a conquerer of it.

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Liberius - March 2, 2014

I have to admit I don’t find the idea of fewer people and less land being involved in agriculture to be a bad thing. That kind of attitude, and my objection to it, was exactly what started this discussion. I don’t believe that it is tenable to be using up precious resources on grandiose notions of what constitutes the ‘natural'; think of all the habitat that has been lost worldwide through the expansion of humanity into the wild environment, those green and pleasant lands lauded in the English hymn Jerusalem were once lush forest, but now all they are is crops, no room at all for diverse flora and fauna. My belief in the urbanisation of society and agriculture may not fit in with the green movement’s middle-class idolisation of the organic small holder, but it is efficient and would save the environment.

Ireland contains 6.4 million people living in 84,421 km2. If you were to assume that that population is equal men and women and then average the recommended daily calorie intake per person, then you would need to produce equivalent of 2,250 calories per day per person. That is 821,250 calories per year per person, or, 5.26 trillion calories for the entire 6.4 million people; if that is produced in the form of whole-gain wheat at 272 million calories per year per km2(340 kcal 100g) then the total landmass taken up with wheat fields would be 19,323.59 km2. That is 22.89% of the entire landmass of Ireland, now I don’t know about you but I’d prefer to be able to both feed people and have adequate space available for the flora and fauna that would provide a holistic environment.

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yourcousin - March 3, 2014

Liberius,
I think that there are a few things here we need to address or I feel that we will end up talking past one another.

-You are dealing in hypotheticals, an ideal situation in which the needs of all people are met within the context of a closed food system (ie Ireland will grow all it’s own food)

-My stance is that we are living in an age of intensive farming right now. Intensive farming whether it be hogs or strawberries (80% of America’s strawberries come from a small section of California) is extraordinarily extractive. Factory farming is the exact opposite of holistic.

-At no point in history has so much food been grown by so few people. on what is frankly so little land (as a percentage of total landmass versus what is actually produced).

-The reality is that the unsettling of rural areas and the treatment of food as just another commodity is extraordinarily damaging both to people and the earth.

-My approach is not based on making middle class tree huggers who are moving to the exburbs feel warm and fuzzy (this is what is happening to your freed up ex farm land btw). It is based on common sense and not thinking that I’m smarter than mother nature. It is also based on the belief that agriculture need not work against nature and that good husbandry techniques can help agriculture make a net return to the earth through healthy soil and environment.

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Liberius - March 3, 2014

`Exactly how is the urbanisation of people a bad thing? With easier access to hospitals, schools and public transport the urban environment offers an improvement on the practical elements of life; I don’t see why people should be deprived of those improvements just because the green movement has visions of a blissful rural lifestyle replete with the righteous toil of peasants in the fields.

And, I’d take issue with the notion that factory farming isn’t holistic, after all it is the ultimate recognition of the need to minimize the damage that human society does to the environment by minimizing the amount of land taken up with our need to feed ourselves. That recognition would bring us a situation where we have no need of culling humans whilst at the same time preserving flora and fauna in the manner they were prior to our intervention.

As for those ‘exurbs’, I doubt anybody who knows me would argue that I’m ignorant of the malignant nature of suburban settlements, a belief in the urban by its very nature excludes a belief in the three-bed semi-detached houses that form the basis of Irish suburbia.

On the question of the hypothetical nature of my arguments, I’d say that excepting the notion that you have to argue based on what the current situation gives us is a recipe for piecemeal acceptance of capitalism and its supposedly progressive minions.

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yourcousin - March 4, 2014

Liberius,
Again maybe I should clarify my position. I’m not here to promote/defend middle class Green Party views/new wave lets get back to mother Gaia thinking. I am here to defend and advocate for rural families and communities who have been suffering under the industrialization of agriculture that has taken place over the last sixty years or so.

I don’t want to see peasants in the fields, but I do want to see families in the fields tending to their farms. I want to see the kind of stewardship and husbandry that goes with knowing a landscape intimately as it is passed down from generation to generation. I want to see people doing what is the right thing for their grandchildren, not the bottom line.

You seem to feel (and there are examples innumerable) that mankind and the environment must be in competition, that one must conquer the other. And since it must be so the best thing to do is to conquer and exploit nature on as small a physical footprint as possible. I feel that this is dodging the bullet so to speak. It is like saying that since races cannot get along we must segregate them and give separate lives to lead without ever undertaking the difficult task of coalescing in common spaces.

You use cucumbers as an example, but what about animals? Do you approve of factory farming for beef, poultry and hogs? Because while it has provided historically cheap meat on a reduced physical footprint, the meat is cheap and not that beneficial to human health and certainly extraordinarily toxic to the environment and the communities in which these places exist.

I’m not trying to hug a tree and say, “lets not focus on economics, lets just focus on the environment”. I’m saying that community oriented agriculture is a net benefit to us all. Economics plays a huge role in that. To use your example of the cucumber factory, who owns a factory? To whose benefit is it run? In my world it is usually a corporation who cares little for either the local community or the environment. Local folks have neither the expertise to grow the cucumbers, maintain the factory, find distributors for all of their cucumbers and have a transportation infrastructure set up to get all of their 2400 metric tons of cucumber to market in time before they go bad. Not to mention the fact that the capital required for that kind of operation strikes me as fairly substantial. Again, economies of scale are ignored at our own peril.

For decades getting yields up has been the number one driving force in agriculture, and it has been a huge success, but at what cost? We are down to one percent of Americans being farmers. Small family operations are dwindling and agribusiness with no real connection to the community or land has taken over. This concept has seeped into our thinking so much that in our farm bills we give more money to farms, the larger they become.

I am not advocating getting rid of schools, hospitals or public transportation in rural areas, I would defend even at an economic loss because I view it as part of a social contract in society. It breaks my heart to see Wal-Mart take over a local economy in small towns across America.

I would also note that many of us have no desire to live in the world of mega cities.

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Liberius - March 4, 2014

“I don’t want to see peasants in the fields, but I do want to see families in the fields tending to their farms…” Sort of one contradicting the other there do you not think? As far as I understand the English language, those families in the fields would qualify as peasants, which brings me to quote from a comment I made on CLR on the 4th of February:

“The ‘red tories’ of this world aren’t even in the antechamber waiting to be interviewed but instead have been retired to the knackers yard and are waiting in hope of the time when the reactionaries of this world rediscover the benefits of shitting in fields.”

As you can see I’m not thinking of this from the point of view of somebody just taking a position against middle-class greens but as a person with an unwavering belief in the superiority for humanity of the urban environment against the rural environment, that belief is unlikely to be altered by rural idolatry masquerading as progressivism; And for that matter I’d say that the increase in Ireland’s urban population from 46.1% in 1961 to 62.0% in 2011 suggests that at least in the context of Ireland I’m not alone[1].

As for wanting to ‘conquer’ the environment, I’d say that minimizing the damage we as a collective population of 7 billion do to the environment by limiting the area used up to satiate our needs is the exact opposite of wanting to ‘conquer’ anything at all. Though we must take the argument down that road I think we might be able to make a good case for rural farmers being the ones ‘conquering’ the environment what with the mass deforestation required to make room for crops and the consequent monoculture present in those environments there after, not very symbiotic is it?

On the issue of the factory farming of meat I fail to see the similarities beyond the use of the word ‘factory’, after all a cucumber doesn’t have a brain, doesn’t have a nervous system and doesn’t feel pain. The morality of livestock holding is different matter that more than likely does require the concession to the use of land; though I’d imagine that with less land being taken up with crops those concessions would be less onerous. And just so there is a certain amount of clarity on this, because of my reference above to the England and Wales Green Party’s crusade against bacon butties, my own diet isn’t that high in meat at all.

The economic structures of agriculture are, as far as I’m concerned, malleable. I don’t see why agriculture should be exempt from technological innovations, I mean we take it as granted that the factory production of clothing, medical equipment, vehicles etc. is an inherently better and more efficient system, so why not with agriculture? Because of some sort of perceived exceptionalism? What makes that exceptionalism valid or sane? Actually, what makes it socialist or progressive?

You say America is down to one percent farmers as if that’s a bad thing, it might be perceived as a bad thing by the bucolically minded, but that does not make it so. The benefits of the rural life have to be outlined in a serious manner and not taken as an axiom; I don’t see those benefits in any arguments I’ve read.

For what it’s worth I think we are both coming to this with diametrically opposing viewpoints that won’t ever gel together no matter how long we argue this for.

[1] http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/census/documents/census2011pdr/Census%202011%20Highlights%20Part%201.pdf

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yourcousin - March 6, 2014

Liberius
I would say that we agree to disagree. I would point out that I don’t engage in idolatry but understand that where my food comes from and respect the people who grow it. Looking down on people because they do an honest days work doing something that is necessary is hardly progressive. Your unwavering belief in the moral superiority of your own opinion is comforting to me. Please let me know how your cucumber factory in your urban utopia works out. Give me a shout if you need factory hands as I’m sure I could find you some ignorant peasants willing to work for cheap.

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Liberius - March 6, 2014

Do you really think that the deliberate misinterpretation of my words is the right way to continue an argument? I’ve only ever tried to make a serious case for the technical superiority for humans of the urban environment and the superiority for the rural environment of that arrangement, any subtext you’ve picked up about ‘moral superiority’ and ‘looking down’ on people are entirely of your own minds creation as they are entirely absent from my comment’s meaning and intent. If you want to make unfounded and ludicrous comments about my words you are free to do so, but I does remove the seriousness of the argument leaving us with nothing left of substance left to discuss.

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yourcousin - March 7, 2014

Liberius,
Calling family farmers “peasants” is hardly putting words in your mouth. If you do not think that using such a term, along “idolatry” to describe respect for the people who grow the food you and I eat is ascribing intentions then guilty as charged.

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Liberius - March 7, 2014

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/peasant?q=peasants

The first meaning being my intention, of course I can’t be held responsible if you infer the second but I’d regard that as being a rather unreasonable interpretation of my usage. And as for idolatry, well I fail to see how that is derogatory unless I’m supposed to take it as granted that the rural life is sacrosanct.

Can this actually be a civil argument based in facts please.

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yourcousin - March 7, 2014

Do you seriously not get how calling someone a “a poor…labourer of low social status” or calling them a name intimately connected with a feudal society in which they made up a permanent underclass could be construed as looking down your nose? A farmer is not a peasant.

Being critical of the modern state of agriculture or even rural life is one thing. But it is fundamentally different than arguing for the entire scrapping of an integral part of society. It is no different than the argument for scrapping the manual factory worker in the seventies and eighties, there is nothing progressive about it. It smacks of hubris.

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Liberius - March 7, 2014

It’s your inference that I’m looking down on poor people, I have absolutely no interest in seeing anyone poor or in receipt of low quality services. If we go back to the first sentence I used the word peasant it, which it must be said is the only time I’ve used it that wasn’t in response to your misinterpretation of my meaning, was used in the context of trying to make my point about the ‘idolatry’ of the green movement rather than as an attack on the rural lifestyle.

“I don’t see why people should be deprived of those improvements just because the green movement has visions of a blissful rural lifestyle replete with the righteous toil of peasants in the fields”

By the by, if you did want to continue with the word peasant it might be worth considering the agrarian parties* that use it in their names.

I’m not really all that interested in continuing the argument if you’re not willing to actually make the case for rural life, and there is hardly ‘hubris’ in believe that cases need to be made to support opinions, I believe I’ve made a serious case for the urbanisation of agriculture. Because of that I’ve no interest in responding any further to mud-slinging.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croatian_Peasant_Party

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belarusian_Peasant_Party

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peasant_Party_%28Serbia%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Left_and_Peasants

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yourcousin - March 9, 2014

Liberius,
The use of the word peasant which I feel shows your true feeling for a people you have no use for (even though they’re keeping you alive with their misguided work) came from here,

‘I don’t want to see peasants in the fields, but I do want to see families in the fields tending to their farms…’ Sort of one contradicting the other there do you not think? As far as I understand the English language, those families in the fields would qualify as peasants””

And for the record you have provided two facts, first was the study which says that indeed that talked about factory farm of the future and how it is enabled by the petroleum industry, and secondly that cities have grown while the rural population declined. That’s it.

I would point out that your dream of a cucumber factory(leaving aside the whole cherrypicking of numbers there) CEA farming in a way that is cheap enough for mass replication is largely dependent on the petroleum industry. So to keep your factory farms going to feed the world we would stop farming and start fracking in order to keep producing the plastics needed for much of CEA’s work and to keep powering the heating and cooling units on which the cucumber factory would depend.

I just want to say that I’m not opposed to hydroponic or CEA techniques in certain situations and contexts. But you’re making a case as if it is a must, conveniently sidestepping a few of my points along the way such as we’ve had the ability to feed the entire world for some time now, even though your arguments say otherwise. Ironically those same arguments of feeding the starving masses has been used to push some of the most destructive practices in modern agriculture (monoculture, chemical fertilizers, industrial sized farming). The idea that as long as you are smart enough none of the inconvenient truths about industrialized agriculture, many of which would necessarily be part of your urbanized agriculture would be an issue is laughable. And again this is ignoring animal production which as part of any modern/industrial scheme. I mean have you ever spent time around a stock yard? I doubt you would that sight or smell with your morning latte waiting for a train or bus. Especially when the wind picks up and the shit that mixes in the dirt takes off and coats everything around it, including people making them look like particularly smelly coal miners.

Another idea that needs to be put to rest is the idea that factory farming can overcome, simply by it’s own machinations the shortcomings of poor husbandry. Much of your argument stems from agriculture seen as destructive to the environment. I’ve acknowledged the reality of such, but to think that by simply compressing farming onto a smaller physical footprint we will reduce its overall impact. We’ve seen the same logic in the industrial revolution that factories would by their repetitive nature and eventual automation reduce waste. I think we all know what a fallacy that turned out to be. The same logic applies to agriculture. Poor workman ship is poor workmanship.

I’m not here to have a culture war, it has been done by folks better than you and I. But for some of us there is more to life than just “services”.

Finally I, like you can think of no reason to continue this argument. I mean you’re citing Belarusian political parties as a positive, I think we’ve hit bottom.

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10. roddy - March 1, 2014

No Bob ,I am not confusing integrated schools with state schools.Poppys,royalty,Brits and RUC acceptable as far as integrated schools concerned.Any sympathetic portrayal of Irish republicanism a complete no no.

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11. roddy - March 1, 2014

Garibaldy,you know dammed well that the poppy is sold and worn in integrated schools .You also know dammed well that the lily would NEVER be allowed to be sold or worn at one .You also know dammed well that when the RUC were up to their necks in murder,they had the free run of integrated schools along with British army recruitment propaganda. Also the first world war is presented as something “that unites us all” in lessons and functions outside the official curriculum.As I said before ,devise a mechanism to educate children together but free from union jackery and british militarism.

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Justin - March 4, 2014

Roddy, you really are a laugh.I have a son at an integrated school. I have taught at an integrated school. I have never seen a poppy sold at an integrated school. I can’t say if people wear them because I don’t pay much heed to them. But the idea that they are on sale at integrated schools is ludicrous. Painting integrated schools as defacto unionist comes close to painting catholics who send their kids to them as ‘useful idiots’. Integrated education is an affront to those who want the NI to remain- how shall I put it- communalist and D’Haunted.Meanwhile, opinion polls consistently show that huge majorities (in the 70-80%) would send their kids to integrated schools if they had the chance.

Roddy’s point about people up to their necks in murder begs a lot of questions about other people up to their necks in murder.

Roddy is, however, right to note that there’s a good deal of that World War 1 ‘unites us all’ guff in NI. I’ve heard it mostly from PUP people and SF people such as Tom Hartley and Martin MCGuinness. I can find the references if you want.

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12. doctorfive - March 2, 2014
WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2014

I like Mason’s analysis in general, but isn’t this excellent?

“The west – run by a generation that believes the market is the solution to everything – suddenly found you cannot outsource strategy; that there are situations in which the boss of JP Morgan cannot help you; and that the pursuit of legally dubious wars of conquest, by legally indefensible means, flattens the public appetite for force for a generation”

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13. Enya Rand - March 2, 2014

Impressive lateral thinking by CLR denizens – lilies, poppies *and* hydroponic cucumbers. I’m partial to a little hydroponic cucumber myself I suppose they all grow well on the rich soil of the bread basket of Central Europe.

Coming back, unfashionably, to the topic and Mason’s piece, my suspicion is that the globalists will win out over the Nato cold warriors at a loose end.

But my normal form in these matters is to be proven disastrously wrong.

Even more worrying times…

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FergusD - March 3, 2014

In saw in a paper today that John Kerry said that the Russian “invasion” of the Crimea was indefensible, he claimed that in the 21st century you can’t invade another country on bogus trumped up charges, unlike in the 19th century. But surely 2003 (the invasion of Iraq) was in the 21st century?! So he is wrong, you can invade a country on trumped up charges, we have a precedent!

I am no apologist for Putin, but it is really worrying that the “West” doesn’t recognise that Russia should have any interest in what happens in the Ukraine when the West is happy to impose its interest on countries far away, by military means if necessary. Hypocritical and dangerous with the Ukrainians stuck in the middle.

The Crimea looks complicated. “Given” to the Ukraine in the 50s by Krushev, after most of the Crimean Tartars had been removed by Stalin and now populated largely by Russians? I am not optimistic that its future is peaceful with competing nationalisms and big power rivalries.

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14. Jim Monaghan - March 3, 2014

NATO now embedded in the rest of region. Imagine telling say the Letts that they would be safer outside NATO. The excuse of Russian interests would have suited Britain over the ports in WW2.

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CL - March 3, 2014

“the so called “interim government” led by Victoria Nuland’s handpicked neoliberal puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has been forced to cede control of the national security forces to the openly Nazi leaders of these organizations.

In particular, Andriy Parubiy, a co-founder of the Nazi Svoboda Party, has been made Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, with Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the Nazi paramilitary Right Sector group, as Parubiy’s deputy. ”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/03/ukraine-intervention-and-americas-doublethink/

“Russia’s incursion (invasion if you prefer) into Crimea, with prospects for movement into Eastern Ukraine, is the culmination of US/NATO policy since 1991.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/03/ukrainian-hangovers/

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15. Eamonncork - March 3, 2014

It’s all the fault of the US. Putin isn’t to blame at all. Ah come on CL. And while I agree that anyone who backed the US invasion of Iraq is a hypocrite if they object to this, I didn’t back the US invasion, I even signed a completely ineffectual letter to the papers giving out about it.
And when it comes to hypocrisy, where are all the people who argued against intervening in Syria because that was a ‘sovereign state.’ Is Syria under Assad superior to the current dispensation in the Ukraine from a democratic point of view?

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Justin Horton (@ejhchess) - March 3, 2014

I do think NATO has behaved stupidly in trying to extend itself right up to Russia’s frontiers. I mean I’m damned if I can see any good reason for the organisation to still exist anyway, but seeing as it does, I don’t see what the extension was supposed to achieve other than, eventually, to push its luck too far.

I don’t say so in order to defend Putin at all – I know very well what Putin is. I just say so because I’ve been bothered about this for a long time and I think it’s made an extremely unhelpful contribution to the present situation.

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ejh - March 3, 2014

Blimey, I seem to have changed my name accidentally. Is this better?

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EamonnCork - March 3, 2014

But it’s not just about NATO and the Russians.
Presumably the former Soviet states welcome the chance to escape the orbit of Russia and viewed NATO as a guarantor of their sovereignty. We might bemoan their uncritical attitude towards the US but it’s hardly surprising given they were dominated by the Russians for so long.
Anyway, we won’t fall out about it, I’m aware that there’s room for honest disagreement on these issues and that those who see this as a NATO created problem are no more Russian stooges than I am an American one.
I’m also a bit spooked by EJH’s ability to change from one identity to the other in the blink of an eye. It’s like something from Buffy.
I do, however, reserve the right to say I told you so should we see similar incursions into the Baltic states on the grounds of ‘protecting the Russian population.’

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que - March 3, 2014

Could be the Baltics are all too aware of the USA’s faults but they are in no doubt that there neighbors are no saints either and in the pecking order of who is going to invade a lot higher

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ejh - March 3, 2014

Presumably the former Soviet states welcome the chance to escape the orbit of Russia and viewed NATO as a guarantor of their sovereignty.

Sure they did, but it would have been possible to say “no thanks, it’s not necessary and we’d view it as unnecessarily provocative”. Might that have helped avoid the present disaster? Maybe. Might it help a lot more if Putin stayed the right side of the border? Obviously.

It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a lot of nasty anti-Russian sentiment in the Baltic states which has a genuine impact on the substantial Russian minorities in those countries (and which itself is more than slightly rooted, as you say, in what happened to those states under Soviet rule). I wonder if NATO membership validated and encouraged that. Maybe, maybe not. At least I’d like Western public opinion to be aware of this stuff. You can be sure Russian public opinion is (while at the same time of course being highly resistant to scrutiny of its own attitude to minorities) and it really can’t hurt to know what motivates other peoples to have a different perspective to ours, even if we know that it mostly comes down to realpolitik in the end.

I don’t think I’d ever take a monocausal view of contemporary or historical events: if I throw in a consideration here or there, you can be sure I don’t think it’s the only consideration: just perhaps one that I think is underplayed.

If there’s one set of people I’d really like to see cheered on right now, you know, it’s Russian anti-war protestors. There’s some brave people. I bet they’re being hounded and slandered to fuck.

I’m also a bit spooked by EJH’s ability to change from one identity to the other in the blink of an eye.

I think it derives from my logging on to some other WordPress website using my Twitter account yesterday. Unfortunately it didn’t say “if you do this, it will screw up your other WordPress logins”, and I lacked the technical sophistication to realise this without a big DO NOT notice in front of me.

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CL - March 3, 2014

EC, I’m not supporting Putin, merely pointing out along with several other commentators that Nato’s push east may have something to do with the situation.
Whoever controls Russia has to be concerned with control of the Black Sea. Unlike other empires Russia is essentially land-locked; its access to the Mediterranean and further on to the Atlantic is a vital national interest and therefore so is control of Crimea. So Russia will not allow Crimea to be controlled by a Ukraine that is moving towards the EU and Nato. This is just a description of what is happening not an endorsement of any imperialism.
Putin is an extreme, anti-liberal nationalist. Pat Buchanan sees him as a soul brother:
“While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind.”

http://townhall.com/columnists/patbuchanan/2013/12/17/is-putin-one-of-us-n1764094/page/full

Just because Putin is a regressive, anti-Enlightenment despot does not absolve the West of some responsibility for what is happening in Crimea.

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16. roddy - March 3, 2014

Always amazes me how those who railed about “nationalism” in Ireland are so quick to take sides in national disputes elsewhere.

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CL - March 3, 2014

“Nationalism may be out of fashion, but without it gluing society together, the alternative is sectarianism, tribalism and foreign domination”-Patrick Cockburn

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/03/the-nature-of-war-has-changed/

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17. roddy - March 3, 2014

I think neutrality is the best position to take here.Despite my limited knowledge of the whole thing,I don’t see any good guys anywhere.

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WorldbyStorm - March 3, 2014

Yeah, I’m tending to that view myself.

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18. Paul Wilson - March 4, 2014

It is certainly true that the new government in Kiev came into power through force and it is also true that in the 2010 elections an army of international observers declared the elections fair. It is also not clear who was responsible for most of the casualties. One of the first to die was the chief reporter of Kievs main Russian newspaper who was beaten to death by opposition protestors. At least 30 policemen were killed and on the night before the government fell paramilitarys fought a pitched battle with weapons looted from a barracks near the polish border brought in convoy to Kiev. A coup by any other name.

The first act of the new authorities was to suspend the law that gave Russian an equal status as a language.

This is from ABC the spanish daily in yesterdays edition. Following the burning of a synagogue at Zaporozhye and attacks on jewish people the chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Rouven Azman has advised all Jews to leave the areas under the control of Kiev for their own safety.

The former governing party The Party of the Regions has claimed that some of it’s MPs were prevented voting by armed gunmen, it too has advised it’s members to keep their heads down.

We now have the EU which imposed sanctions on Austria in 2000 over the proposed entry of the Freedom Party into government, now supporting a government that has self declared Neo Nazi’s in senior positions.

The reaction of the Russians could have been anticipated by any one with a modicum of polictical knowledge of the region, obviously that does’nt seem to include the EU, Nato etc.

The only possible gain to the ‘West’ is co-opting a truncated part of Ukraine into the EU. In pursuit of this Europe has been plunged into probably it’s worst crisis since the Yugoslav wars and possibly since the 2nd World War. Ukraine is threatened with a split along Ethnic lines and Europe, already in economic crisis could have it’s Hydrocarbon supplys disrupted. Much of which comes from Russia.

And these people(EU Commision) were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, pass me the sick bag.

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WorldbyStorm - March 4, 2014

“We now have the EU which imposed sanctions on Austria in 2000 over the proposed entry of the Freedom Party into government, now supporting a government that has self declared Neo Nazi’s in senior positions.”

This is a genuinely bizarre situation.

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Liberius - March 4, 2014

For a ‘socialist’ angle on this PES also suspended the Slovakian SMER party in 2006 for going into government with the Slovak National Party[1]. I’m not going to link directly to it but I’ve added a short piece to my blog today looking at the reaction of PES and the politicians in Sweden and the Czech Republic to the situation in Ukraine.

In other news Die Linke have issued a statement which has been translated and posted on the Transform Europe website[2].

[1] http://www.pes.eu/en/news/smer-suspended-pes-political-family
[2] http://transform-network.net/en/blog/blog-2014/news/detail/Blog/a-new-war-in-europe-must-be-prevented.html

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CMK - March 4, 2014

That was before the accession of the Eastern European States, before the political centre of gravity shifted and before the dogmatic neo-liberalism that characterises many Eastern European political parties. 2000 was a veritable ‘Age of Innocence’ when it come to the EU and both it’s geopolitical ambitions and it’s neoliberalism. Haidar was a pussy cat compared to Victor Orban and no one in the European institutions has much of a problem with the latter. In 2000 if you had said at an Institute of European Affairs seminar that within 10 years the ECB and the Commission would send the living standards of one of the longstanding members of the EU back to the 1930s, you’d be laughed out of it and dismissed as a lunatic (as indeed many who campaigned against the Nice Treaties were in any event). There are probably a fair few Euro politicians who’d fancy a military crack at Russia, so long as no nukes were used. In all the Ukraine commentary I’ve read I can’t recall if any anyone acknowledged that both Russia and Ukraine are nuclear armed states and, well, we might be in another Cuban missile crisis situation.

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EamonnCork - March 4, 2014

Why do you think dogmatic neo-liberalism is so prevalent in Eastern Europe? Is there some reason why the population there are reluctant to embrace socialism?

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CMK - March 5, 2014

Eamon, I’m well aware of why they’re reluctant to embrace ‘socialism’, particularly when they never experienced socialism. But who are ‘they’, the tens of millions of workers in these states who are barely scraping by twenty five years after ‘freedom’ or the English speaking, Western educated former ‘Communist’ apparatchiks who staff the European Commission, NATO etc.? It seems reasonably clear that while most people in the region were and are happy that the communist regimes fell, many, majorities in some of these countries, feel things were better for them economically under ‘communism’. Anyway, I suspect we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. http://www.pewglobal.org/2009/11/02/end-of-communism-cheered-but-now-with-more-reservations/

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ejh - March 5, 2014

Why do you think dogmatic neo-liberalism is so prevalent in Eastern Europe? Is there some reason why the population there are reluctant to embrace socialism?

Aren’t these two different questions to a degree? We can surely ascribe visceral anticommunism and anti-Russian feeling to the experience of Soviet rule, but doesn’t neo-liberalism owe its dominance in Eastern Europe to the same causes as in Western Europe, to wit the section of society which has done very well out of a marketised regime and which therefore treats its shibboleths as self-evident truth?

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que - March 5, 2014

IIRC Ukraine is no longer nuclear armed.

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CMK - March 5, 2014

Cheers, wasn’t entirely sure of that. Well, that’s one comfort.

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