Peoples Democracy Member 1969 – by Peter Cosgrove Part Two October 19, 2014Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Peter Cosgrove a former Peoples Democracy member sen’t a history of the events of 1969 and the early Peoples Democracy to The Irish Republican & Marxist History Project. Its a fascinating read and another voice on that tumultuous period.
As Noted by NollaigO in the comments to the first piece
While the Belfast to Derry January march of 1969 (often described as the Burntollet march) has been much commented on then and ever since*, other parts of Peter Cosgrove’s memoir describe events which are less well recorded: The Peoples Democracy [PD] participation in the 1969 Stormont election; Bernadette’s election for Mid Ulster; Peter’s experiences trying to work in the Northern Ireland schools where he fell foul of the Catholic hierarchy; August 1969 behind the barricades** and the PD’s launch of Radio Free Belfast where they experienced the heavy hand of a political censor sent up by the Dublin Republican leadership (Shorely Editor?!); again the role of the Catholic Church is recorded where their antics in the areas behind the barricades is described.
This historical record has been available for some time but is only now being made publically available on the net.
Water charge protest in Clonmel today October 18, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Thanks to Paddy Healy for this…
A huge day in Clonmel today .A day when ordinary citizens,communities got together to say No to Water Charges. A day when the left stuck together.The WUA,Éirigí,SF,PBP,’Clonmel Says No’ stood shoulder to shoulder with South Tipp and West Waterford’s citizens. This is above politics. This is people power at its best!-Organisers
Attached: Photograph of Clonmel/Dungarvan Protest for the abolition of Water Charges at Mainguard Clonmel to-day
Amazon – the global digital East India company. October 17, 2014Posted by guestposter in Culture, Economy, European Politics, The Left.
Many thanks to Gewerkschaftler for this post…
My trades union is engaged in a long term fight against Amazon for half-way tolerable pay and working conditions in its distribution centres in Germany. Basic stuff like trades union representation or even a works council, reasonable breaks, being paid for the time spent while standing in line for security checks. Compliance with local labour law. Some degree of respect for workers from the management. etc.
We are trying to extend this fight internationally and have had some initial success.
But it would help all those who are not uncritical admirers of totalitarian hyper-capitalism knew a thing or two about Amazon’s business strategy and role in the great cancer. Mathew Stoller’s piece here has a good brief survey of just how and why this electronic trading monopolist has become so powerful.
Firstly this isn’t an electronic retailer any more. Bezos’ ambitions are much wider – he is constructing a monopolist trading empire – something like a global East India Company. Amazon itself says that it competes in the following sectors:
physical-world retailers, publishers, vendors, distributors, manufacturers, and producers of our products, other online e-commerce and mobile e-commerce sites, including sites that sell or distribute digital content, media companies, web portals, comparison shopping websites, and web search engines, either directly or in collaboration with other retailers, companies that provide e-commerce services, including website development, fulfillment, customer service, and payment processing, companies that provide information storage or computing services or products, including infrastructure and other web services, companies that design, manufacture, market, or sell consumer electronics, telecommunication, and electronic devices.
Amazon is hardly taxed because all it’s profits are plowed back into aggressive expansion and the accumulation of assets. In this sense it is doing what capitalist are supposed traditionally to do, namely invest – as opposed to the recently hegemonic financialisation of everything, everywhere, regardless of what the company actually sells.
Why does it dare to invest? Because Bezos is convinced of his monopoly power. Here are some of the monopolist strategies:
It is a capital-parasite – in other words uses the working capital of it’s ‘partners’. As the company puts it:
On average, our high inventory velocity means we generally collect from consumers before our payments to suppliers come due.
Or in plain English:
… if you are a supplier to Amazon, you not only sell the company goods at cut-rate prices, but you are also effectively required to make Amazon a 0% loan that turns over as long as you have a relationship with the company. Amazon is a cannibal, running itself on the working capital of other, small companies.
Amazon’s strategy of vertical and horizontal conglomeration and the power it brings is a negative sum game in terms of the surrounding capitalist networks of production and exchange.
It’s quite clear that Amazon is a deflationary force, pushing down wages, prices, tax revenues, and new non-Amazon business activity. It has deflated prices in book publishing, and retailers across the board are terrified that Amazon is in the process of ripping their guts out. The company is having a ripple effect across the economy. To the extent that deflation is a serious problem, which it is, Amazon is a villain. And this isn’t just ‘technological process’, it’s straight up market power over workers, suppliers, and even governments.
Even the benefits to consumers are balanced by a quasi-feudal, company-store relationship between them and the big A.
The one group that is treated with exceptional grace is consumers. They get low prices and great service. But this relationship is increasingly feudal, with low prices and great service as the benefits I get for surrendering my liberties to Jeff Bezos. I may get excellent prices on my Kindle, but I am now a renter of those books. I can’t lend them to my girlfriend any more, unless Amazon says I can. Amazon can take them away at any point. It knows every page I’ve read, everything I’ve highlighted, it knows what I might want to buy. It knows what I’ve watched on Amazon prime, where I’ve lived, what I buy on a regular basis, whether I’m price sensitive, an impulsive buyer, what I might be selling. Amazon knows, and at any point can exert power.
Stoller’s ‘solutions’ are of the ‘regulate this un-American monopoly and it will be fine’ order. Allow me a certain skepticism, given the recent history of regulating capitalism. But he at least stumbles on the realisation that economics is always politics.
The problem with Amazon is not fundamentally one of economics. I mean, yes, it’s destroying wealth, but this is a symptom of the real issue. Amazon is a cannibal. It eats other companies in ways large and small, it eats the time of its workers, and it eats our government through tax avoidance, all to create a cash generating machine. It sucks in investment in as much of the economy to serve its ends, much as Walmart did in the 1990s (a substantial amount of American productivity basically boiled down to Walmart getting more efficient). Amazon is a tyrant, it rules through terror, and left unencumbered, it will destroy swaths of the U.S. economy. Arguments for Amazon as pro-consumer essentially boil down to ‘well its use of economic terror is efficient’. And the British East India Trading company sold really cheap tea in 1775.
All Bezos needs now is a armed partner. But wait – isn’t Bezos a big drone-fetishist, like many of his techno-optimist peers?
Resistance is hard, but essential.
Allende and Chile… any good book recommendations? October 17, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left.
Every year I try to focus on a specific topic and read as widely as possible on it. I’m now on to Allende and Chile (with – believe it or not – some side reading on the Nixon administration). Any recommendations on books that are good on that period, particularly experience of the government, and the years leading up to the government?
A TD writes on Dublin South West, the ‘ultra left’, independents, their ability to hold a knife and fork, and SF too! October 15, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Pat Rabbite, for it is he, writes in the SBP this weekend on the elections. He pays considerable attention to the nature of the ‘protest’ vote. For example:
Such debates as took place during the campaigns were a turn off for the public and were dispiriting for serious politicians in all parties. Rather than dismissing the cacophony of disparate voices they should be seen as a cri de coeur from communities ravaged by the recession and neglected by conventional politics. Unemployment and emigration can only be tackled in the context of sustained economic growth.
Some might wonder at the accuracy of that first statement. Between them SP/AAA and SF fairly carved up the majority of the votes cast. And note the
Harsh words for Independents – actually for everyone, for he continues;
We are in a time of protest politics. Sinn Fйin’s budget submission confirms to any objective analyst that, in the Republic at any rate, they are a party of protest. Along with the different strands of the ultra left in Irish politics, they push all the right protest buttons. Meanwhile, disaffected middle-class voters opt for independents, the only test being whether they can properly hold a knife and fork – not whether they make any sense. The result is that in the capital city Sinn Féin and independents between them have the support of almost half the electorate.
Say it’s not so!
Though this raises a smile – no not the breath-taking condescension about independents (of which some of Pat’s colleagues may be very glad of come GE 2015/16 for government formation). Rabbitte and his colleagues on the government benches were hardly shrinking violets in the run-up to Election 2011. Their attacks upon the government were sustained and formidable, their language as apocalyptic in its own way as that of ‘the different strands of the ultra left’ – their influence in regard to destabilising the then established order in many respects under analysed. Rabbitte’s own withering attacks on FF TDs in print and in person – one P. Carey will attest to that – didn’t exactly bring the temperature down. Ye reap what ye sow, and tough if it turns out that others are as good or better at it.
And what of this, from a man who for around half of his political career espoused Marxism and then left of social democracy socialism (though note the point about connectivity… hmmm…you can take the man out of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, but you can never take the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources out of the man)?
Quality connectivity, for example, will enhance regional prospects in ways previously unimagined. But in the interim it is essential that the centre holds.
Is it? Is it really?
This centre he speaks of, that would, given he talks of SF and Independents having at least half the support in Dublin, be FG, the LP and FF. What a remarkable observation. What a telling insight into what he considers as ‘centrist’ politics, acceptable politics, tolerable politics. It’s genuinely a revelation and arguably a view held further afield than himself amongst the great and the good. No consideration at all that all those parties shifted to the right, that what might be recognisably ‘Old Labour’ (perhaps more in the British than Irish sense) politics are now most clearly expressed – for all the flaws and contradictions – in SF and the ‘ultra left’ and the Independents.
He offers us his insight into DSW in particular.
Dublin South West, festooned with anti-water charges posters, was turned into a battleground in a phoney war between Sinn Fйin and the Anti-Austerity Alliance about which organisation was the more opposed to water charges. Irish Water made its contribution by delivering the water packs in the middle of the campaign.
And his poignant complaint that:
Not one workable idea to tackle unemployment or housing – the biggest issues in the constituency – came from either of these two contestants.
Still for all that perhaps the most remarkable thing about the column is Rabbitte’s restraint and reserve in the course of the piece (805 words long – count ’em). For in amongst the Yeat’s quotes about ‘the centre cannot hold’ – natch, and ‘our politics has never been so fragmented’ and ‘[the DSW] by-election treated as a contest between Sinn Féin and an organisation self-styling itself the Anti-Austerity Alliance’ he is admirably self-effacing about the small question as to who might be the TD in situ in the constituency and how the LP vote, which delivered unto us two TD’s (count ’em too, and now, for they’ll soon be gone one suspects), was frittered away to the extent that it declined from 35% or so of the first preference in 2011 to all of 8.5% at the weekend!
A new kind of trade unionism? October 14, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
The Miner’s Strike 30 years on… October 14, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left.
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Organised by H&P and the British Universities Industrial Relations Association, recordings of the panels are available now:
Many thanks to BH for drawing attention to this.
Alliance or party? October 13, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
Interesting analysis here of the DSW byelection, and particularly Paul Murphy.
I think there’s something in the following:
Few had reckoned with the Murphy strategy of managing to turn the byelection into a referendum on the controversial water charges. And, in a clever political move, he did not run as the Socialist Party candidate, opting instead for the Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA) brand which would be better received on the doorsteps.
Firstly the referendum point is well-made, and it was both perfectly sensible and principled of Murphy to do so. Indeed one wonders what would the outcome have been had SF been willing to bite that particular bullet (and the thought comes to mind that they may be reaching a point where due to their political and electoral position and, ironically, weight, they are unable to do so in a way that can cover all their electoral bases)?
The second part is worth consideration. I was struck reading the wiki page and the current list of TDs in the 31st Dáil at how Paul Murphy was badged as AAA. Check out this leaflet here from the campaign. And yet, and yet, he’s usually in media – at least print media, badged as Socialist Party, so it’s hard to believe that many voters, if indeed any, were unaware of his party affiliation.
I’ve heard the idea proposed that political parties operate better in alliances, that indeed they do get a broader sweep of voters voting for them. It does serve to soften the image to some extent and put the individual party at arms length. It’s an intriguing thought. Whatever about the SP, can one envisage x number of Socialist Workers Party councillors elected, or RBB or…
There is one other thought, which is that SP or not, when candidates are members of broader alliances it may link in very slightly to that Ind/Other category, and in an age when party affiliation may well be problematic (something even SF may be beginning to experience) that could have a positive effect.
But it all depends on people not being inquisitive or even aware of information that’s fairly upfront. And that strikes me as being a bit unlikely.
Same-sex marriage poll… October 12, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left.
Asked how they will vote in the planned referendum on the issue next year, 67 per cent they would vote in favour, 20 per cent said No, with 9 per cent having no opinion and 3 per cent refusing to respond.
When undecided voters, or those who refused to respond, are excluded from the poll, the Yes figure rises to 77 per cent with 23 per cent on the No side. That is a marginal change since April when the figure was 76 per cent to 24 per cent, but it is considerably stronger than November, 2012, when it was 64 per cent Yes and 36 per cent No.
And broadly speaking the left/center-left are in favour while the right… less so.
Supporters of Sinn Féin, Independents/others and the Labour Party are almost equally strong in their support for same sex marriage, but Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil supporters are significantly less enthusiastic.