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A labour strike in orbit June 21, 2021

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Thanks to Tomboktu for noting this, from Jacobin, an interesting account of how in 1973 on the Skylab 4 mission there was something that almost, if not quite, amounted to a strike in orbit when, overworked, over managed and exhausted the three astronauts… well, read on and see how collective action, or even the threat of collective action, can have results. And not just in terms of workers conditions but productivity.

Arms crisis… June 21, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Mentioned by Jim Monaghan in comments, a Village article on Haughey, the Provisional movement and the Official IRA. It’s an interesting piece, which argues that Dick Walsh as political editor of The Irish Times was central to an effort by SFWP and later the WP to whitewash its history.

That’s possible, but difficult to believe that that history wasn’t publicised reasonably widely during that period. The piece doesn’t mention the very comprehensive analysis of the Workers’ Party by Vincent Browne and Magill for a sustained period in the early 1980s with near enough full editions devoted to the topic – including this article here which were very deeply critical of the party and pointed out significant ideological shifts in its orientation as well as a range of related activities that would be hugely problematic in any context. Indeed, as a member of that party only a little later – and I’m sure others will recall this too, this was problematic at a time when the party was beginning to build a significant public profile (though intriguingly, and perhaps rather like Sinn Féin today, that history appeared to have much less resonance south of the Border than some seemed to expect). As The Lost Revolution and others have noted there appears to have been efforts to manage that public profile in various media in ways that again seem deeply problematic.

Given the deep antipathy amongst a very large tranche of Irish public opinion towards the armed struggle by the mid 1970s I wonder if the reality is that the WP’s addition to those ranks of Fine Gael, parts of the Labour Party, a good part of Fianna Fáil and so on was perhaps a little more marginal in terms of its impact than sometimes is suggested. Or to put it a different way – rather like the PDs when in government with Fianna Fáil were pushing an open door with that party in terms of pushing rightwards (offering FF cover in that respect when it suited them to present themselves as more centrist), perhaps the arrival of the near apostate WP (in regard to Republicanism) was of a certain utility to some, as well as – in some contexts a very negative presence.

There is no question that some were happy to point to the analyses coming from the WP and use them for themselves (and later unquestionably in relation to the peace process by then former WP members in the media played, to my mind, a deeply negative role in undermining what was fairly clearly a shift towards politics by the Republican movement). But that weight of opinion against the armed struggle was very real and stretched across the society (to give a limited example, I may have mentioned before, in the NS I was at school in Kilbarrack in the 1970s in Sixth Class after the La Mon bombing our teacher – a staunch GAA player, pinned up the photographs of the aftermath on the wall of the class room and there was a general sense was that this was a revolting event amongst my classmates). Nor is it clear that political events in advance of the peace process would have been markedly different in the absence of say Conor Cruise O’Brien, or the WP or whoever. I always think the most telling aspect of this is how – for all the rhetoric, the supposed green nationalism of Haughey’s Fianna Fáil was, in government, hardly more robust than their Fine Gael/Labour predecessors. Which is not to say that there wasn’t a tonal shift at times but, in functional terms matters changed remarkably little – and for all the rhetoric Fianna Fáil did nothing when it returned to power after the AIA to alter that dispensation (perhaps sensibly seeing the Agreement as a fundamental step forward and softening of British sovereignty in the North).

As to the Arms Crisis itself, Sean Swan’s analysis is rather plausible, as distinct from the analysis offered by the Officials – the latter being that some within Fianna Fáil sought to split the Republican movement at a time when it was shifting leftwards by arming a nascent PIRA. Swan’s analysis, and I hope I don’t do him an injustice, is that efforts from within the Southern polity to brings arms into the North were entirely naturally going to come with some preconditions as to their use being restricted to within Northern Ireland and not providing a potential platform to cause problems for the Republic. While understandable in the heated context of that short time period clearly any importation of arms and release to groups beyond the control of the Irish state, particularly an importation that was carried out without official sanction, was going to be – that word again, problematic. But that’s perhaps a different discussion.

One small further point.

The chief of staff of the Official IRA (OIRA) was Cathal Goulding. One of their victims was a 17-year-old boy called Ranger Best, who was tortured and murdered in 1972 in Derry.

William James Best was a 19 year old Derry born member of the British Army, Royal Irish Rangers, who was home on leave where he was picked up and killed by the OIRA. There’s no reference in any documentation to him being tortured. His tragic death is often pointed to as being influential – along with the Aldershot bombing by the OIRA, in moving the Official Republican movement towards a ceasefire (though as noted in The Lost Revolution military activity by the Officials against the British Army and RUC actually increased for a period after the ceasefire). Some would argue that the Official leadership, mostly, was uneasy shading to antagonistic about the use of armed struggle at that point. But again, that’s a different discussion. 

Left Archive: Towards a Programme for Eco-Socialism, An Rabharta Glas-Green Left, June 2021 June 21, 2021

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Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

A timely and interesting addition to the Left Archive with the founding programme of An Rabharta Glas-Green Left, the newly formed Eco-Socialist political party (their website is here). As noted on Wiki:

An Rabharta Glas – Green Left ([ənˠ ˈɾˠəuɾˠt̪ˠə ɡlˠasˠ], “The Green Tide/Flood”)[2][3] is an unregistered Irish political party, launched on 5 June 2021 as a split from the Green Party. It has two councillors, who had previously been elected as Green Party members — Lorna Bogue, on Cork City Council, and Liam Sinclair, on South Dublin County Council.[4] Its outlook has been described as “eco-socialist“.[1]

This document which is twenty pages long describes itself as being ‘Towards a Programme for Eco-Socialism’. It contains two broad sections, one titled ‘Analysis’ and the other titled ‘Approach’. Under the former section various areas are addressed including ‘The political system and the economy, ‘counter-hegemony and intersectionality’ and ‘class politics’. Under the latter section consideration is given to areas such as ‘Eco-socialism’, ‘State power’, ‘Renewing the commons’ and ‘Electoral politics and policy’. An ‘Agenda’ is offered and a Conclusion arrived at.

 The document primarily addresses the Republic of Ireland, though it notes that ‘The party will seek to develop its approach to Northern Ireland in future documents’.

There document notes in relation to class politics that:

Little progress however is being made on the class7 front. Class is the glaring vacuum at the core of

Irish politics. Of the few political parties, trade unions and other organisations which grapple with

class formation as a serious objective, none have managed to articulate and promulgate class

politics to a wider audience. Several organisations which claim to represent ‘the working class’

have variously been subsumed into normative neoliberal governance or lack a strategy for a

transition to socialism beyond fomenting transient anger. Outside small bubbles of activism,

virtually no political discussion takes place on class formation as a substantial objective, despite

the atomisation and alienation of the most disadvantaged sections of Ireland’s working class being

quite obvious during the pandemic.

The party explicitly looks at the Democratic Socialists of America and Podemos as offering “examples of a successfully operationalised class politics of ecosocialism in tough circumstances”. And it agues against the approaches of Die Linke and SYRIZA with respect to the ‘pitfalls of eschewing class politics’.

Based on this analysis, we seek to offer a demonstratively new prospectus: we are not offering

“green” capitalism like the Green Party, nor “green” socialism like the smaller Left parties, but ecosocialism.

Eco-socialism symbiotically and inextricably unites the twin objectives of decarbonising

human activity and transitioning from a capitalist society to a socialist one. While individual

definitions for either of these objectives vary, perhaps the most important role of ARG-GL is to

establish the frame for developing eco-socialism in Ireland within the limited time frame

permitted by climate emergency [emphasis in the original – ILA].

It concludes:

Relating our vision of eco-socialism to the everyday lives of working people is a task which ARG-GL

takes as being of equal priority to the mechanics of advancing our political programme. This means

inverting the lens on the spatial and social order of villages, towns and cities, workplaces, homes

and communities to demonstrate that not only can working people be in control of their lives and

the spaces in which they live them, but they must be if people and planet are to survive in the

coming decades. Offering a prospectus based neither on designed utopias nor wishful thinking, but

on the momentum and space produced through and by popular struggle, has the power to reverse

the truism so that it is easier to imagine the end of capitalism than to imagine the end of the

world.

 

 

 

Dublin Bay South June 20, 2021

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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Went for a walk down to Terenure to see the election posters in the flesh. I know posters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I love them. As an aside fair play to all the candidates for not erecting public meeting posters prior to the by-election being called.

On Social Media there’s seemingly armies of canvassers out and needless to say that they are all getting a great response on the doors. Been told by people in a few parties that they aren’t canvassing door to door in the traditional sense as people are still nervous of human contact on the doorsteps. They may do it in the final few weeks of the campaign.

What I’m also hearing is a total lack of interest in the by-election from the public. Of course the likes of myself are interested but on a wider level it’s feared that the turnout could be particularly low.

Now there’s been no polls to date in the constituency and with the recent fuss over party polling I doubt we’ll get any “…sources have said that in private polling that candidate x is doing well etc “.

Turnout is going to be important and to me Sinn Féin will probably be best in getting their vote out. That said will the prospect of SF winning get the Fine Gael vote out?

At the minute I would see James Geoghegan of Fine Gael just about winning with Lynn Boylan finishing second. Ivana Bacik will probably be in third with FF, SDs and The Greens the next three. Each of these three parties will of course be looking to win but will have privatley set a target of what can be deemed a success. 4th and around 10% of the vote is probably their target. In FF especially that target or failure to reach it could cause internal issues.

PBP will want to finish 7th but I have a feeling Aontú could do ok here. Then we’ll have Mannix Flynn and Peter Dooley then. The battle on the far right sees Justin Barrett of The National Party, A Renua candidate and Dolores Cahill all running.

It will be interesting to see if the far rights anti lockdown rhetoric will produce many votes. It’s also an experiment for them, what messages work, what don’t etc.

So another few weeks and we’ll know the result. I wonder how the count will be managed, will there be tallies and so on?

Fortnightly Culture Thread June 20, 2021

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gregtimo proposed in comments recently this idea.

It’s a great idea. Currently culture is a bit strange, but people read, listen to music, watch television and film and so on – spread the net wide, sports, activities, interests, all relevant – and any pointers are always welcome. And it’s not just those areas but many more. Suggestions as to new or old things, events that might have been missed, literally anything. gregtimo for example asks… 

Sunday and other Media Stupid Statements from this week… June 20, 2021

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Behind the Sunday Independent paywall this morning, but the article starts as it means to continue:

Brexit — that’s not a great idea is it? I mean, in fairness, it’s a really bad idea and most of us know it. It’s just one of those funny things about life in general, that we can understand quite easily what’s wrong with other people’s arrangements, it’s our own stuff that we can’t see.

Last week again Leo Varadkar couldn’t help it, he just had to go there, talking about a united Ireland in his lifetime.

And since we are largely incapable of doubting our own instincts in this domain, perhaps the only way to talk ourselves down from this very dangerous place, is to doubt the instincts of the Brits — to count the ways in which this helpless infatuation with a united Ireland, is our Brexit.

Matt Cooper in the SBP in piece knocking NPHET’s advice manages to phrase the following oddly;

Yes, there are many who will still argue that taking economic considerations into account last winter – and allowing pubs serving food and restaurants to open – was a disastrous decision that led to the deadly post-Christmas surge. But that has been used by some to suggest that the government should never deviate from Nphet advice.

Just ‘many’..?

Speaking of Covid, why is it that the Irish Time editorial continues to push the ‘fear’ line, as in the following?

There is a wide variation in the views of different age groups. Those under 35 favour a rapid reopening by a margin of almost two to one. By contrast those over 65 favour a slowdown by a similar margin. Given that almost all the over-65s have had a least one dose of the vaccine by now the poll indicates a level of fear among the older age groups that will take some time to dissipate.

There may well be ‘fear’ but that wasn’t in the questions asked. Isn’t it more likely that it is caution that is the overwhelming emotion driving people’s views? And caution – in the context of a global pandemic – is entirely rational.

Someone agues that:

While Canzuk (UK, New Zealand and Canada trade deals) might not work out as foreseen, has enormous potential to change the UK, and the Australian deal looks like a solid step in that process.

The knock-on effects for Ireland, north and south of the Border, could be profound.

Ireland has its own deep relationship with the Canzuk countries and the Republic is perfectly placed to be their gateway into the EU. People from Northern Ireland will be able to work in Australia, although the British or Irish passport issue may arise. Australians will be able to work in Northern Ireland – unlike their beef, they will not be turned back at Larne. As the UK tries to realign itself in the world, culturally and economically, there will be a bewildering array of opportunities for Ireland. But Irish people may also feel increasingly tempted and torn between European and English-speaking worlds, both of which they are clearly a part.

How will the situation in relation to New Zealand, Canada or Australia be in any way different for ROI and EU citizens before or after deals the UK strikes with those three countries such that they would make them ‘feel increasingly tempted and torn between’ those worlds?

All other contributions gratefully accepted… 

True fans of live music? June 19, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Anyone read this in the Independent? A piece bemoaning the new socially distanced gigs that may be a feature for a while in live music.

The James Vincent McMorrow performance was neither a pilot – in any useful sense – nor a proper gig, not unless your social life is stuck at the level of kids’ birthday parties.

When Culture Minister Catherine Martin appeared on Prime Time afterwards to rave to Miriam O’Callaghan about the “one-way system to get your ice-cream”, that was the end for me.

And:

It’s painful for true lovers of live music to act as if what took place last week bore any resemblance to the real thing.

I don’t know. Having been packed into gigs in the last few years where there was a ridiculous number of people – I think of Robert Forster at the Button Factory, and Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Academy, both in 2019 if I recall correctly, I have to admit to being a bit jaundiced about this ‘real thing’ and supposed ‘true lovers of music’.

Because it isn’t just the experience of being packed in like sardines in a venue, with the heat and sweat and so on of people standing far far too close for comfort (actually strike that – standing one top of one another really), but the fact that at these gigs the sound of people talking was all too evident and clashed with the music badly. And forget about it if you wind up close to the bar. 

And it strikes me that for a lot of people that is live music and always has been – it’s a night out and where the night out isn’t that important and if it happened to be a pub or a gig they’ll treat the latter like the former. So the issue of too many people packed too closely together for comfort is exacerbated by people talking too loudly. It’s not that I expect a respectful hush, but at gig after gig, even pretty loud ones, the number of people who are there for the chat seems bizarre. Gary Numan at the Olympia, Stereolab at Vicar Street and on it goes. 

In truth the most respectful crowd I’ve seen in years was at Monster Magnet in the Tivoli a couple of years back – perhaps in part because the crowd seemed there because of the band in a way other crowds at other gigs weren’t (that’s probably a bit unfair to Forster and Numan), perhaps because the sheer volume of the sound of the band was such that it would blow conversation away. Well, whatever works. 

So socially distanced gigs, with a separation between people. Inside, as distinct from open-air. Where you could actually here the music? I’m not sure I’d be complaining about that…and all that before we get to what a ‘true’ fan (a useless term if ever I heard one) is!

Still watching the skies June 19, 2021

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I find this stuff here very strange. I love UFOs, or rather stuff about them, but I love them, as noted previously here, from a profoundly sceptical point of view. In other words I’d be astounded if they were alien technologies of any sort. Nothing about the phenomena makes any logical sense were that their provenance. For example, consider the interactions with people, the strangeness of the sightings, the behaviours. Were these alien beings who had travelled to Earth across light years from another star system their technologies would be so advanced we quite possibly wouldn’t notice them – for example ships would be stealthed, surveillance technologies used by them would be likely near undetectable (nano probes distributed through the atmosphere would do the job a lot better than largish flying vehicles that were actually visible to us indigenous inhabitants). In fact even with our own technologies these days we could probably do a better job. And it’s that patchiness, that sort of uncanny slapdash aspect to this that makes me think these are artefacts of our psychologies rather than anything else (I’ve recommended a book on this before too – Jim Schnabel’s Dark White, well worth a read).

That said, there does appear to be some material base for the objects seen by US military personnel and caught on film. But, I’d still think that for all the talk about the technologies being far in advance of any used by humans that’s a bit of a stretch. And not just me, on the footage below there’s an astronaut who argues that while genuine they’re more likely to be secret military technology.

One theory is that UAPs could be advanced Chinese or Russian aircraft, but Burchett dismissed that in his TMZ interview.

“I think that’s ridiculous. If the Russians had UFO technology, they would own us right now,” he said. “It has to be something that’s, that’s out of our galaxy, it just has to be, if it is in fact is real.”

Elizondo also dismissed those suggestions.

“We are quite convinced that we’re dealing with a technology that is multigenerational, several generations ahead of what we consider next generation technology, so what we would consider beyond next generation technology,” Elizondo told the Post. “Something that could be anywhere between 50 to 1,000 years ahead of us.”

Elizondo is an interesting guy, though perhaps not for what he’s talking about above – amongst others Fortean Times recently had a rather sharp analysis of what he has been saying about UFOs (noting that of a list of “five ‘observables uniquely associated with UAP’s…commentators have stressed that these observables are all subject to human interpretation and error”). But the logic of the first part of the first comment holds true whether it is aliens or Russians or Chinese. If these are alien craft they too could, as it were ‘own us’. Which raises the question as to why they don’t.

 Moreover – and coming back to the point above, the technologies do not seem to 1,000 years ahead of us. Indeed that 50 to 1,000 years line is absurd. Something a millennia ahead will likely – to riff on Arthur C. Clarke’s comment – seem like magic compared to something 50 years ahead. That’s a ridiculously long period of time. And the stuff about out of our galaxy is empty rhetoric (the solar system is not the galaxy). 

Of course, perhaps this more sceptical take is wrong. Perhaps these are alien craft. Perhaps. 

Signs of Hope – A continuing series June 18, 2021

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

“I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.”

Any contributions this week?

Not limited to the EU June 18, 2021

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Interesting point made here on Common Weal in Scotland about Scottish independence (and many thanks to JH for the link).

2014 has become a narrowly Scottish, narrowly nationalist but also narrowly EU-phile moment under Sturgeon’s watch. Yet in retrospect it was part of a succession of radically democratic, anti-austerity revolts that struck European politics, coinciding with Syriza and Podemos in their pomp, and helping inspire the best of Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum.

To recover what we’ve lost, we need a positive vision of sovereignty, agency and democracy as an insurrectionary force. That requires a break with the SNP’s intellectually lazy vision of restoring “normality” in the EU.

This is an interesting tension for leftists – that the EU is too little. And yet it is correct. There are aspects of the EU project that the left should, arguably, appropriate, but there are others that it should work around and the idea of parallel structures evolving is potentially very interesting indeed. 

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