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What you want to say – 3rd May, Week 18, 2017 May 3, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

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1. irishelectionliterature - May 3, 2017

Paul Mason is naturally glowing about the political memoir of Yanis Varoufakis.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/03/yanis-varoufakis-greece-greatest-political-memoir

Anyone read it yet?

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GW - May 4, 2017

No – but I intend to. As Mason says, it’s a rare view of how power actually works in the EU and Eurogroup.

You’ll have a chance to ask the man directly at the DiEM25 launch.

I’d urge people to go and ask difficult but comradely questions.

DiEM25 is very much a work in progress and wider input from Ireland is to be welcomed.

Liked by 1 person

2. ar scáth a chéile - May 3, 2017

This reads like a fair-minded assessment of the crisis in Venezuela:
http://nacla.org/news/2017/05/03/why-venezuela-spiraling-out-control

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CL - May 3, 2017

“The country is locked into an impasse, which might only be broken, many fear, by civil war. As Venezuelan sociologist Atenea Jiménez Lemon notes below, the country threatens to turn into the next Syria.”
https://www.thenation.com/article/what-is-to-be-done-in-venezuela/

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3. GW - May 4, 2017

I don’t know whether anyone caught Le Pen v. Macron last night?

I ploughed through a good bit of it and it was hard enough going – more heat than light.

The liberal media are convincing itself that Macron came of better. I’m not so sure but at least he didn’t obviously come off worse. I don’t think it’s going to convince many to change their voting intentions.

So cautiously with 3 days to go I’d predict a 13-18% win for Macron with a lowish turnout.

Macron’s determination to implement ‘reforms’ (in plain English transfers of wealth and power from the working French to capital) are quite clear. Whether he will be able to implement these depends on events after the election including the Assembly elections.

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Occasional lurker - May 4, 2017

The papers have Macron as the winner. Le Pen is working to get her vote up.

The accusation about Macron having secret bank accounts was potentially powerful since there may be something to come but who knows. It could just be entirely believable about the suave technocrat who wants to give austerity another try.

I fear that 2022 is invariably being set up for a Le pen final triumph since sure as hell 5 more years of austerity without even the need to pretend to be Socialist is not going to work.
Le Pen gets 45%, well that’s all you need to know. What’s certain is she will not be humiliated.

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WorldbyStorm - May 4, 2017

He’s going to have a hell of a job isn’t he without a party structure behind him? How does that work? I would think he could be very weak. Re Le Pen. Perhaps 2022. But the history of her father and even herself is peaks and troughs. In the first round for all the hoopla she had only gained with all her post-fascist gloss about four per cent on her fathers showing way back when.

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GW - May 4, 2017

Whether Macron leads to a successful fascist takeover in 2022 depends on whether the French and wider European left can get their act together to present a believable and united anti-austerian and anti-neoliberal message and programme despite the steadfast opposition of the MSM.

It’s far from a foregone conclusion that they can’t. I for one will be working for such an outcome.

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GW - May 4, 2017

Indeed. The AfD seems to be making heavy weather in their goal to become a Volkspartei (i.e. having a reliable 20% of the voters). That could happen to the FN but Macron in government will certainly be fertile ground for their nationalism, racism and fake anti-establishment rhetoric.

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WorldbyStorm - May 4, 2017

I’m delighted to hear that re the AfD.

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Starkadder - May 7, 2017

The BBC is reporting “Turnout sharply down” in the French election, which could help Le Pen 😦 ,

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-europe-39823865

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4. GW - May 4, 2017

I never knew Colm Meaney (the actor) was active in OSF. Has anyone seen The Journey?

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WorldbyStorm - May 7, 2017

Was he? I didn’t know that.

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5. GW - May 5, 2017
6. RosencrantzisDead - May 5, 2017

The “Mapping the English Left Through Film” has now covered the ‘Socialist Party of England and Wales’ (formerly Militant). The film of choice is ‘Remains of the Day’. Quite an amusing piece and sure to raise some ire.

Incidentally, maybe some of the musically inclined here could cover the Irish Left through songs/albums/bands?

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7. Garibaldy - May 7, 2017
Michael Carley - May 7, 2017

I once heard Preston say Homage was as relevant to the historiography of the Spanish Civil War as Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall was to the historiography of the Second World War.

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Garibaldy - May 7, 2017

Excellent line. Second only to describing Land and Freedom as like telling the story of the Troubles from the point of view of the IPLO.

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Starkadder - May 7, 2017

If you want a good book on the origins of Spanish Civil War, try “The Spanish Labyrinth” by Gerald Brenan. Particularly good on the various left factions involved as well as the centrality of the agrarian problems to the war.

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Ed - May 8, 2017

Preston, as a very moderate social democrat who approved of the role played by Gonzalez and the PSOE in Spain’s post-Franco transition, doesn’t like the POUM because they were revolutionary socialists and didn’t want to subordinate the Republican cause to what the British and French governments would deem acceptable; the Spanish Communists did, so Preston tacitly approves of their line. In ‘The Spanish Holocaust’, he comes very close to endorsing the trashy Stalinst smears about the POUM being a ‘fifth column’ or working with Francoist agents that were used to justify a campaign of murder and torture against their leaders (and the IPLO line seems to be a back-handed attempt to revive those smears).

The Spike Mulligan line is asinine crap and unworthy of a credible historian. Any serious history of the Civil War would have to directly confront the issues that were raised by Orwell’s experience in Catalonia: the divisions on the Republican side and the rival strategies proposed; the incipient social revolution in Republican-held territories; the role of the Soviet Union with its weapons, its diplomats and its secret-police agents; the transformation of the Republican militias into a conventional army after the first phase of the war, etc.

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WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2017

I think it’s important to keep in mind that not everything is borne of malice. Preston may be incorrect or may have misinterpreted matters but he is unquestionably a serious historian and just because he presents a view that is contentious (though it’s not that contentious – Orwell himself said his perspective was limited) that shouldn’t damn him. Moreover I think it is potentially very reductionist to say x has (in this case possibly) y political views and therefore that inflects his analysis (and Preston has been scathing about the CPs at the time as for example his Carrillo book indicates and that’s well worth a read for anyone who thinks he’s even mildly Stalinist inclined). There’s a fair few people related to this site (including myself) who have published and are engaged in historical research of one sort or another and my general experience is that those who are in public commentary etc are well able to avoid inflecting their analysis with their politics as much as is possible – indeed have to do so to retain credibility. There are obvious exceptions to that, I mention one later today in another post, but that I think is more rather than less the dynamic.

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Ed - May 9, 2017

I know Preston is a serious historian, I’ve read several books of his on Spain and always learned something from them, which is why I’m so impatient with that Spike Milligan one-liner (which I’ve heard before), it’s unworthy of him. Orwell’s book is a first-hand memoir, it’s not a work of history trying to give an overall perspective, but it was an attempt to provide an honest account of what he saw, and he happened to have been caught up in an experience that was central to those questions I listed above. If I was going to compare it to a British memoir of fighting in WWII, I would compare it to Basil Davidson’s account of fighting with the partisans in Yugoslavia and Italy.

If it was just that quip in isolation, I would just be mildly annoyed with Preston for being so fatuous; but I did go through ‘The Spanish Holocaust’ after hearing him push this anti-Orwell line before and I was taken aback by his indulgence of the Stalinist smears against the POUM, he really did come very close to endorsing the idea that they were some kind of ‘fifth column’ (or at least that it was reasonable for the Spanish Communists to think that they were collaborating with the Gestapo). It seems to be a relatively recent thing with Preston, I don’t remember him taking a similar line in his general history of the Spanish Civil War (published in the 80s as far as I remember—I read it when I was in college).

I know Preston is not a Stalinist or a partisan of the Spanish CP in every respect, but the political logic behind his stance seems to be that he agrees with the strategy of the Spanish Communists during the Civil War because it corresponds to his own moderate, social-democratic outlook, once you take the pro-Soviet element out of it. His biography of Santiago Carillo is pretty damning indeed, but he approves wholeheartedly of the approach Carillo took during the post-Franco transition.

Preston talks in that Observer article as if Orwell’s view of the situation in Spain was some kind of peculiar, warped perspective based on a very limited experience. But if you read Fernando Claudín’s history of the Comintern, for example, the chapter on Spain has a very similar argument to Orwell’s; that wasn’t a memoir, it was a major work of history, by a former leader of the Spanish Communist Party (who was still a Marxist), written decades after the events with plenty of time to reflect. And it’s a red herring to claim that people like Orwell and Claudín divert attention from the culpability of Britain and France for allowing the Spanish Republic to go under; that was a central part of their argument after all, that even after the Republicans had done their very best to reassure the governments in London and Paris, they were still hung out to dry by the ‘democracies’.

This is a useful interview with Andy Durgan, who’s written much more sympathetically about the POUM and the CNT than Preston, which includes some critical remarks about Anglophone ‘Populist Frontist’ historians; he doesn’t mention Preston in particular, but a lot of what Durgan says can be applied to him, I think.

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/durgan/2006/xx/70years.html

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WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2017

I think my problem with that is the idea that one can look at Preston’s supposed, and how can we know given he isn’t explicit about it, political position and building that into a possible motivation behind his critique of Orwell in order to demolish the critique.

But to me that’s perhaps the least useful way of addressing the critique – trying to find fault with the person behind the critique or shed a negative light upon them – rather than addressing the critique itself. I think the dangers of personalising everything are obvious as if people don’t do things unless they’ve an ulterior motive, but it is the task of any historian to examine and reexamine orthodoxies.

Frankly I’d be very sympathetic to POUM, but… that said I also think it is valuable to critique Orwell or whoever.

And I look forward to the counter critique from other historians.

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yourcousin - May 7, 2017

https://jacobinmag.com/2017/05/george-orwell-spain-barcelona-may-days

Maybe a little balance here. Never thought I’d see the day I’d be posting something from Jacobin.

I also enjoyed the personal attacks on Orwell in the Guardian article. As if that really makes the argument for the Stalinist line. Which is really what we’re talking about here.

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CL - May 9, 2017

“Many who experienced the conflict behind Republican lines were dismayed to see Communists, who thought that winning the war required discipline that anarchist collectives could not provide, working to destroy the egalitarian social revolution….

He published his memoir of the war, Homage to Catalonia, in 1938. By 1950 it had sold all of 800 copies. But with the arrival of the Cold War, the anti-Stalinist implications of his work became valuable for entirely new reasons and Orwell’s version has become the iconic memoir of the war and the most-read book on the subject in any language…
.
Soon enough, Orwell’s revived Homage to Catalonia would introduce the conflict to readers as a true-to-life anti-Communist parable for Cold War times.”
https://newrepublic.com/article/133146/spain-orwell-never-saw

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8. Starkadder - May 7, 2017

Fine article here on data analytics and its links with the Brexit and Trump campaigns.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

Make a mental note of these names:

* Cambridge Analytica

* Robert Mercer

* AggregateIQ

* SCL Group

Liked by 1 person

GW - May 7, 2017

Absolutely – very good journalism.

The people who exercised their ‘sovereignty’ in the election were Thiel, Mercer, and that douchebag who bankrolled Farage.

And behind them all stands Zuckerberg who’s data was used by AggregateIQ to dip the balance during Brexit.

So please – every post on Farce Book is grist to these people’s mill – whether it be political or not. Just say no more Farce Book usage.

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9. sonofstan - May 7, 2017

Walking up in the Park today, about 11am, and began to notice occasional cars with Russian flags and some USSR flags – as we neared the Papal cross we saw more and more and there were some cops and road closures from the monument at the roundabout by the US ambassador’s residence. We could see a crowd by the cross and so walked down. Soon everyone we passed was Russian and there were loads of flags and emblems and quite a few pictures of Stalin. At the cross itself, there was a few hundred people on the slopes and music pumping from a car. Loads of hammer and sickles beneath the cross :)……eventually, B. asked a young woman who explained it was the commemoration of the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. Realised people were carrying photos of men in uniform, who I took to be ancestors killed in the conflict, and suddenly the pictures of Stalin made sense.

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WorldbyStorm - May 7, 2017

That’s fascinating.

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yourcousin - May 7, 2017

Just remember that proportionately more Belarussians and Ukrainians died fighting the Axis than Russians. May seem like quibbling but when one thinks about the resurrection of the Great Patriotic War today and the use of its memory to justify equating the USSR with the Russian Federation and even more troublingly ethnic Russians living abroad it is a dangerous thing designed to simplify the complex the and obstifucate some fairly chauvinistic policies.

Liked by 1 person

sonofstan - May 8, 2017

Yeah, quite a few ribbons of St. George as well

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10. Starkadder - May 7, 2017
WorldbyStorm - May 7, 2017

Sorry, didn’t realise you’d got there ahead of me.

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11. CL - May 7, 2017

“You’re probably thinking that Ireland’s blasphemy law is some anachronistic throwback from the nineteenth century, still on the books though never enforced…You’d be wrong. The offence of “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” was introduced to a new defamation act by then justice minister Dermot Aherne in 2009, and came into law in 2010….
And we are even more deluded if we think that we are living in a secular society. Just days ago, on 3 May, the Irish government made it mandatory to stand during the prayer that opens the Dáil (parliament) and to observe a moment of silence afterwards…
our elected representatives think it’s acceptable to give full ownership of a state-of-the-art national maternity hospital to an order of Catholic nuns who are ideologically opposed to contraception, IVF, and, of course, abortion. This is the context that enables Catholic control of the Irish state-funded education system. It is the context that denies Irish women their reproductive rights.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/stephen-fry-irish-tv-investigated-blasphemy-laws-ireland-embarrassed-secularism-angry-a7722906.html

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12. Michael Carley - May 9, 2017

There’s an Ernie O’Malley site:

http://ernieomalley.com/

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