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International matters August 22, 2017

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This may be of interest. The Broken Elbow notes an academic paper, linked to by Irish Republican Education Forum on the relationship between the WP and the DPRK (and with a walk on part by SF).

More on a United Ireland… August 22, 2017

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Not a few days after a thread on this topic on the CLR we have the following in the Irish Times on the challenges facing a future UI by Christopher Kissane and David Kenny of the LSE and TCD respectively. Interestingly the extension of the Republic to encompass the six counties seems the most straightforward way to go – where those counties would simply be added to the pre-existing situation.

But note too…

Perhaps the greatest question would be the autonomy of Northern Ireland. Article 15.5.2 contains a heretofore-unused provision that allows the Oireachtas to create or recognise “subordinate legislatures”, so the Northern Assembly could be retained, although the enlarged Oireachtas would remain the supreme legislative body (especially regarding taxation and expenditure). The Constitution includes no detail on how such devolution would work and what its precise limits would be, so this would require substantial consideration.

The authors note too that:

Prior agreement across this whole range of issues would be essential to the success of a German model in Ireland, but if joining the Republic was not acceptable to the people of Northern Ireland, or if the necessary constitutional revisions prove too complex, a new constitutional settlement would have to be considered. This would permit a clean break with the past and give Northerners a sense of belonging in a new state, but starting from scratch would present other problems.

And:

A new constitution would also mean that many aspects of our Republic – the status of the language, the Tricolour, a political history and culture built over a century of independence – would be up for discussion and subject to compromise.

Kissane and Kenny both point to the establishment of a UI as a distant possibility. But they also note that it is, given the genuinely significant changes in regard to Brexit etc, necessary to point to alternatives.

Got to admit, that point re autonomy of NI seems most intriguing.

Er… what about Ireland? August 22, 2017

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The Guardian noted last week that the Institute of Economic Affairs in London had issued a report on trade and Brexit that suggested…

Leaving the European Union without a deal in place would not spell disaster for the UK economy, according to a free market thinktank advocating trade with the rest of the world over a “hamstrung” deal with Brussels.
Despite repeated warnings that leaving without an agreement would hurt British companies and consumers, the report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, published on Friday, says the UK could remove all import barriers to achieve lower prices for consumers, increased productivity and higher wages.

Note how the language has changed in this debate, from Brexit as unalloyed positive to ‘not a disaster’. Okay.

The actual measures argued for are dealt with much more comprehensively than I could do by the indefatigable Richard North. He points out some absolutely absurdities in the proposals…

…according to the Dowd plan, we allow in all goods from the EU on a tariff free basis and automatically recognise their regulation, accepting goods (and services) without hindrance.

We then invite the EU to drop all its tariffs against us, despite WTO rules requiring it to impose its CET on all MFN partners, while expecting it to waive all its regulatory requirements – applicable to all other nations in the world – and apply mutual recognition to whatever regulations we may or may not impose on our domestic market.

This is not intelligent scholarship. It is a childish fantasy which has no basis at all in reality. And it represents the final departure of the IEA from the stage, consigning it to the margins of a debate it never really understood and from which it is quite evidently incapable of learning.

But here’s another thought. In the twenty odd pages of the report there is not a mention, not one mention at all, about the implications of such a stance on this island many of us live on. Indeed the only mention of Ireland is in the following which in a single paragraph encapsulates the over-weening arrogance of so much rhetoric from a certain strand on the Brexit side (and worth noting as always North, quotes above, et al are pro-Leave but anti-Brexit as currently shaped)…

Instead, the main consideration is geopolitics. The UK used to be a member of EFTA before it entered the Common Market, and if it re-joined EFTA it would be by far the biggest member. From a geopolitical perspective, the UK re-joining EFTA would reinvigorate a northern European trading bloc that could provide a counterweight and even an alternative to the EU. This concept would be reminiscent of King Cnut’s Anglo-Scandinavian empire of a thousand years ago and would attract considerable support in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and even in Ireland, France or Germany were new governments to come to power.

That’s right folks. The UK government will lead the way… an example to us all… I guess we are meant to be grateful. That they can present such an absurd thesis says it all.

Social Democrats.. that’s a ‘no’ to the LP love bombing August 22, 2017

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I was wondering when this would happen, the SDs have finally had enough of the interesting political tic expressed by the LP whereby every time a rep of the latter speaks they indicate their profound wish the former might merge with them… 
“The Social Democrats have rebuffed what they say are constant suggestions from senior Labour Party figures of a merger between the two parties.Party chairwoman Sarah Jane Hennelly, who will be the party’s candidate in Limerick City at the next general election, said that overtures from Labour about merging the two parties were “an effort to resuscitate a party which has lost its core principles and public support”.”
It has been somewhat shameless, to put it mildly. But it costs the LP nothing and builds up an image amongst some voters that this is a possibility, as well as potentially mining the still robust enough support that some in the SDs have garnered electorally.

I’ll bet it will continue…and the world weary response from the LP to the SD complaints is telling too…

“A spokesman for the Labour Party said: “There has been no approach about a merger, but the centre left in Ireland will never grow if different groups insist on attacking each other. That is why we have to work together to get policies implemented – which is our goal.

“We look forward to working with all social democrats, democratic socialists and progressives – of all parties and none – in the months ahead.””

Minding Cats …. August 21, 2017

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Earlier in the Summer just before my holidays I jokingly asked in work if “anyone want to mind cats for a fortnight, sure you can even stay in my house!“……

I was stunned when later on I quietly got a number of offers. Colleagues had been sleeping on friends couches, others had moved back in with their parents. Not something that people would tend to broadcast especially in a work environment.

This is the stuff that is hidden in the figures for housing. The hidden homeless figures. There are of course many worse situations, teachers tell me the number of students that are living in hotels or BnBs with their families, then there are generations living under the same roof and the stress that entails. Parents with children, grandchildren, children partners and so on all under the same roof. I know couple living under the same roof as they can’t afford to Separate, others where one party is now living in a hostel. There are of course other cases where there is domestic violence but in part due to the housing crisis less options for a person to go.

In normal times all these people would have housing that was suitable.
There seems to be an awful lot of tinkering by the Government but they seem to be doing everything but the option that is staring them in the face….. build public housing and lots of it. Now I know housing takes time to build but some massive plan of building has to be fast tracked.

I’m amazed even from a Business point of view , where workers are being priced out of living/renting in Dublin that FG haven’t done more about it.

Saying it like it is… August 21, 2017

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Thought this was telling…

Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness drew parallels between the 1921 treaty and Brexit at a commemoration ceremony at Béal na mBláth in west Cork this afternoon.

I’m not sure this is hyperbole…

She said Ireland’s relationship with the UK will be more radically changed by Brexit than it was by the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, the Treaty or the Declaration of the Republic in 1949.

Moreover it is welcome to hear a Fine Gael politician state the following…

On the UK proposals for a new future partnership with the EU she said they “are more than the UK wanting to have its cake and eat it, it’s an attempt to have its cake and eat ours”.

And she said every time a British politician repeats their determination to leave the Customs Union, “another brick gets placed back in the border wall”.

And just how the current UK government view us… David Davis writing in the Sunday Times…

“It is simply not possible to reach a near final agreement on the border issue until we’ve begun to talk about how our broader future customs arrangement will work,” he said.

“Furthermore, if we get the comprehensive free trade agreement we’re seeking as part of our future partnership, solutions in Northern Ireland are easier to deliver.”

Left Archive: Poblacht Shoisialach/Socialist Republic – Peoples Democracy, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1981 August 21, 2017

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To download the above please click on the following link. Socialist Republic v4n2 1981

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this edition of Socialist Republic. Published at the height of the hunger strikes it is strongly focused on that issue with front page articles criticising Fianna Fáil, the SDLP and Cardinal O’Fiaich for not engaging sufficiently. There is also a piece that calls for “Worker’s Action” in order to win the demands.

Inside there is an outline of a ‘Strategy for Victory’ which in addition to agreeing with broader demands also argues:

… work in the areas to demand that councillors and TDs support the five demands; to involve themselves in the campaign and fight openly in their parties in defence of the prisoners. In the North it might be possible to build an open conference of councillors to discuss action.

And:

The chief need now is to remobilise and learn the lessons of the hunger strike in formulating a new policy…. we need to defend ourselves and we need to expose the bourgeois allies of imperialism above all we need to prove the method of mass action as the crucial weapon for the prisoners and for the anti-imperialist cause.

The contents of the eight pages is though very wide ranging in addition to those pieces. There is an intriguing piece on the then-current dispute at the De Lorean car plant at Dunmurray, calls to defeat Paisley, a piece on the shooting of Bernadette and Michael McAliskey. There’s also pieces on how UCC banned a Gay Society and on ‘Which Way Forward’ for the Women’s Movement. This is accompanied by a piece on the ‘Jail Experience’ of the Armagh Women. Another argues ‘No to Racist Rugby’.

One small piece looks at ‘an interesting debate at the AGM of the Workers’ Union of Ireland at RTÉ’ and notes that a motion calling for the repeal of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act and for the right of the public to know was opposed by an ‘SF-WP fellow traveller’. In all only three voted against the motion out of an attendance of 80. It also suggests that ‘in other bodies of the union SF-WP have attempted to prevent discussion of the issue’.

More on band T-Shirts August 20, 2017

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Still, there was another report in the Guardian about how those wearing the shirts often don’t have any affiliation or even knowledge of a group. This, of course, explains all those Kiss T-Shirts in ALDI last year.

I used to feel a bit uneasy about band T-Shirts. I never felt entirely comfortable wearing them, it seems like too overt a statement of attachment and an oddly exclusionary one. And yet, and yet, as time went on I’ve softened a bit. The thing is where to wear them? Gigs? Not a chance. Festivals. Urghhhh… Daily wear? Seems a waste.

Here’s a quote from the piece…

If someone in their teens sees these T-shirts as fashion statements, those in their 30s and beyond are more likely to view one as statement of identity, like wearing football colours. I am 39 and have six band T-shirts, all for bands or musicians that I love: Prince, the B-52s, Larry Levan, Hot Chip and – yes – New Kids on the Block. I tried – and failed – to buy a Frank Ocean T-shirt at his recent Lovebox gig. I am also the proud owner of a Beyoncé “I Got Hot Sauce in My Bag” tote bag. The idea of wearing something with the image of, say, Phil Collins or Green Day or Lorde – none of whom have ever featured on my Spotify account – for purely aesthetic reasons is an alien concept. No judgment, but I would feel like I was faking it. And I work in fashion.

And:

Steve Birnbaum, 35, sees both sides. The documentary film-maker set up Band of Shirts, an Instagram account documenting people wearing band T-shirts in New York, two years ago, with captions telling the stories behind their T-shirts. He says he encounters more and more young people “wearing T-shirts but they’re not a fan of the band. I don’t censor [what they say] and feel bad sometimes; they get abuse online for wearing the shirt.” He says he understands why people feel so strongly. “Music is so personal so if someone doesn’t know the reference it feels disrespectful to you,” he says. “If someone is wearing a punk T-shirt but knows nothing about Misfits, it comes down to being a poser. Some people have punk as their lifestyle – no wonder they’re angry.”

I get that, but then again, uniforms of any kind can be constricting.

Speaking of music T-Shirts… August 20, 2017

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I’m kind of bemused by this report from a while back. Some Kardashians decided it would be a great idea to superimpose their faces on t-shirts bearing the names of various bands. The Doors, Notorious BIG, Zeppelin.

But… they neglected to get permission to do so.

Which seems odd.

Hardly surprising the owners of said names – in many instances bands or relatives of same, came storming back. And who can blame them. I tend to the view that copyright on such matters is probably best to die within a set period of time, say a decade of the death of the last remaining artist in a group. But That’s not even the issue here, given that members of the Doors and Zeppelin are still alive. It’s a curious mistake to make, isn’t it?

Getting time and place right in film and television August 20, 2017

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This review of Atomic Blonde is interesting. Not because it suggests the film is good – anything but, though I bet I’ll see it sooner or later, but because it fixes on one aspect in passing…

But the outer framework is unforgivably shabby: a threadbare espionage plot mounted on a mass of embarrassingly clunky 1980s period detail. They stopped short of having Boy George attempt to run Charlize over with a Sinclair C5. But I’m betting it was a close-run thing.

And:

All these people move through a version of 1989 that looks to have been designed by somebody who once heard somebody talk about a Duran Duran video, but who has never actually seen one. The music would be poundingly obvious – Nena, Falco, Depeche Mode – if it weren’t so often plucked from the wrong end of the decade. And the fashion? Who was still wearing a Boy T-shirt in 1989?

Striving for realism in film is fascinating. It has to be done but it feels often like a pointless task. All film is a construct – but even moving beyond that recently watching a range of period dramas such as Taboo, Parade’s End and even SS-GB (though that’s not quite a period drama, or is it?), it struck me how difficult it can be to recreate an historical time visually. The sheer pressure of detail is almost overwhelming. Granted with Taboo one suspects (like Deadwood before it) that that was less of a pressure since there was a fair bit less stuff around. Parade’s End is moving into a time period where there’s simply more objects and so forth. SS-GB more again. Yet I’d bet few here remember the 1940s. What was it like? What was the fabric of place and context like? This pack of cigarettes, is it anomalous, an anachronism? That piece of furniture? Too soon? That accent, that turn of phrase? Dated even then or unlikely to have been heard.

22.11.63 is another show that seeks to capture a period. I’ve huge reservations about the way it went about it though. The book was a marvel – late period King that was like early period King, and even its narrative byways were fascinating. But while on paper I should like the TV adaptation something about it doesn’t gel. I think for me two things stand out. It should be about time travel, but it kind of isn’t and lapses into being a thriller about a guy who just happens to know a bit more about a likely assassination attempt on Kennedy rather than someone who feels like they are genuinely from the future. Secondly the distortion of the original narrative and the introduction or rather changes to some characters prominence. Thirdly there’s the knuckle headed approach the protagonist takes at times. As to capturing time and place, well yes, this it does reasonably well. And yet, to take an example, are those cars a fraction too shiny? After all I remember 1973 in Ireland and I’m pretty sure cars were a lot more beaten up. And so it is with that past, it’s photogenic, but too photogenic.

And what was 1989 like? Small wonder that those making Atomic Blonde go for the path of least resistance, picking on the almost parodic elements to make the case that this is indeed 1989. What’s odd is that there were many television shows and films from then which could be used as source material for a relatively realistic looking depiction of that time and place. But then it sounds like this film is falling prey to that dynamic of depiction where London is no more than the sum of tourist parts etc.

Actually, for my money the best recreation of the past I’ve seen recently was in Zodiac, which I finally caught up with – and I’ve other thoughts on that film in regard to other aspects of it. The sense of place and time, in a way the mundane aspects of it, were done perfectly. This was a lived in depiction. Maybe it was easier, there’s a lot of the past in the present when we go looking for it – buildings, facades, interiors, probably furniture, about. 1970 isn’t that long ago. But still, getting its right, that’s the trick.

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