Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Irishman in Canada expressing shocking candour

Irresistable in his candour....A not uncommon view all over Ireland today

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ireland in crisis: the stories they're not telling you - by Brian Whelan

Ireland in crisis: the stories they're not telling you

By Brian Whelan

Ireland's economic and political crisis has continued to develop at such a pace that many stories are being entirely missed by the nation's media.

Discontent with RTE has reached a new high after its decision to cut away from a live broadcast on Sunday night when TV3's Vincent Browne began to ask tough questions of the Taoiseach in front of the world's media.

Along with 80 official complaints, RTE's Facebook page has been filled with thousands of comments from angry viewers who say they have been forced to switch to BBC News 24 and Sky News to watch ‘unbiased' reports on the bailout. Some users have gone so far as to liken the state broadcaster to the Soviet Union's official mouthpiece Pravda.

See now: RTE's Facebook page

Former RTE director of television Helen O'Rahilly criticised the station for cutting away during a report on a matter of such ‘historical importance'. They dropped the ball again the following day with no live coverage of the Green Party's press conference announcing general election plans.

An incident later on Sunday night where an 18-year-old Dubliner was knocked down, allegedly by a minister's car, was only considered newsworthy by the Belfast Telegraph. The teen was rushed from the scene to hospital where he was X-rayed for a suspected broken leg.

Read now: Belfast Telegraph

The following day a rowdy protest at Government buildings saw Sinn Féin supporters enter the gates, only to come under attack from baton-wielding motorcycle garda.

What the garda may have failed to notice while striking out and grabbing one protestor by the throat, is that he was manhandling Aengus O'Snodaigh, an elected member of the Dáil who should be free to pass through the gates as he wished."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh can be seen in footage broadcast by the BBC and later spread across YouTube trying to calm the situation and move the protestors back outside the gate for their own safety.

While Green Party TD Paul Gogarty's bizarre decision to bring his child to the Green Party press conference on Monday was the subject of lively debate on Liveline yesterday, many news outlets missed the storm he has been creating on Twitter.

While the nation was falling into economic and political chaos, deputy Gogarty was using his Twitter account to bicker with members of the public, who were calling on him to pull out of government.

The deputy's tweets have provoked much controversy, not least because he has chosen to block scores of critics - including high profile reporters, elected representatives and academics.

David Cochrane, head of the discussion forums, came in for particular scorn, being dubbed ‘master of the online pit of scurrilous vipers'.

See now: Paul Gogarty's Twitter page

Many Internet users are outraged at the ‘failure' of RTE to be critical of the government's bailout plans and have begun to distribute articles from smaller news sites and even foreign newspapers via social networking sites.

Dean Baker, writing in the Guardian, has suggested Ireland learn from the lesson of the IMF's involvement in Argentina and make a break from the euro, stating that if Ireland ‘plays by the bankers' rules, [it] will lose'.

Read now: The Guardian

Meanwhile Matthew Lynn, writing for Bloomberg, believes that Ireland would be better off going bust rather than taking a loan, as the conditions attached ‘aren't worth it'.

Read now: Bloomberg

Veteran reporter Vincent Browne has called the government a ‘junta' led by an ‘IMF minder' and claims ‘Saving banks to pursue a low-paid jobs policy is par for the course given the dysfunctionality of our rulers' ideology'.

Read now: Politico

These critical opposition voices are missing in a country where the debate is reduced to guessing how long the current government will last before the next government steps up to implement the IMF-led cuts in a nicer way.

This Friday's by-election will act as a barometer of the nation's mood, but surely the biggest test will be the ICTU march on Saturday, where the countless armchair critics who demand ‘why is there nobody on the streets' will have their day.

The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union have now officially called for ‘civil disobedience' to bring the government down and hope to build on this weekend's protests. Their general secretary has declared ‘we are on the brink of significant civil unrest in this country'.

Read now: The TEEU site

The only protest being mentioned in the media however is a ‘silent protest' organised by a comedian via Twitter, where people are urged to bring placards telling the government they're fired - though this is surely missing the point that if they were listening to public opinion they would have fled weeks ago.

On the other end of the spectrum the emergence of a new right wing grouping in Ireland has failed to inspire much interest. It brings together economics journalist Marc Coleman, former Libertas PR man John McGuirk and Iona Institute director David Quinn.

The group hopes to end civil war politics and introduce a European left-right political system here and despite their unfortunate name - National Alliance - they are progressive right unlike their extremist ‘white power' American namesakes.

Read now: National Alliance

Are you fed up with how the country is being run or how the bailout is being reported?
We are and thats why we welcome the formation of the United Left Alliance.......

March to GPO against the IMF/EU Sellout and Cuts. Sat 27th Nov.

This march is supported by a wide range of groups. Please come out and show your support!

Assemble 12 noon, on November 27th at Wood Quay, Dublin

The ICTU have called for the march on Sat but it is only on the basis of 'fairer' cuts. But we shouldn't accept this. See the statement from the 1% Network on the analysis of the problem. It would seem the unions were co-opted long ago and serve to allow political pressure to be vented safely by making token gestures of opposition.
Ignore the govt spin that tries to focus on those relying on social welfare or those working in the public service. These are all designed to redirect the focus and anger away from the bankers, developers and speculators and challenge it amongst the masses to prevent any fightback.

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini..

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cows With Guns....Very very funny

Whilst the hiatus created by the posting and then sudden pulling on youtube of John Websters youtube video of John Leppers poem about Jarama continues I thought I would put up a little known but in my opinion very funny song indeed.
click on
Apologies for those who came looking for the Jarama clip which featured a number of my own photos of the battlefield in Jarama, but it seems to have been pulled off youtube for some reason.
Song By Dana Lyons
Animation by Bjorn-Mange Stuestol

All credit to them, links to their site at the end

Monday, October 4, 2010

F*** the lot of yeh.....Bertie Ahern...from milking the Celtic Tiger to licking its Nauseating Litter Tray...

He was always the man of the people, quaffing a pint with the lads at Fagans, eschewing any interest in the trappings of power. BUT Behind the well cultivated image, Bertie Ahern , former Taoiseach of Celtic Tiger Ireland, was always deeply deeply interested in money. So much so that he claimed the 'artists' exemption from paying tax on the sales of his recent 'memoirs'. He also is entitled to a permanent driver and car for life, and will be accompanied by a Garda driver for the rest of his days, as well as being in receipt of his Prime Ministerial, index linked, pension, from the day he resigned the post, this despite the fact he is still in receipt of his handsome salary as a TD (or member of the Irish Parliament). His love of money has now taken him to the point of appearing in an advert for the Irish version of Rupert Murdoch's 'News of the World' where he now appears as a regular 'sports columnist'. He appears crouched in a kitchen press, and appears as the house owner opens his cupboard door. I can think of another enclosed space that a lot of people would like him consigned to, a space with a lot thicker and more durable walls than a cupboard...

Apparently he did it for 'the cráic' (the fun of it), he is just a japester and a barrel of laughs is'nt he?? He did'nt fiddle whilst Rome burnt, but its good to see someone seems immune to concerns about dignity of office, and what a former taoiseach and sitting TD will do to garner a few extra grubby notes..
Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called for the ending of the perk which provides two salaried secretaries to former Taoisigh, including Bertie Ahern. Deputy Ó Snodaigh was commenting on the controversy over the former Taoiseach’s participation in a tv ad for his News of the World column.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The sight of Bertie Ahern’s head appearing in a kitchen press has caused amusement to some and disgust to many. His venture into tv advertising to promote his column in the News of the World adds to his already tarnished political reputation.

“The serious side of this, though, is that the State is paying very generous pensions and perks to former Taoisigh, including Bertie Ahern.

“Last June it was revealed in reply to a Sinn Féin Dáil Question that the Department of the Taoiseach is paying salaries to secretarial assistants employed by four former Taoisigh, including Bertie Ahern.

“As a TD, Bertie Ahern is already entitled to salaries for a parliamentary assistant and a secretarial assistant. But according to the current Taoiseach’s reply, Deputy Ahern also benefits from the former Taoisigh scheme by having the salaries of two secretarial assistants paid for up to five years after his retirement as Taoiseach, and the salary of one secretarial assistant indefinitely after five years.

“In Deputy Ahern’s case the secretarial allowance amounted to €114,000 in 2009 alone.

“This lavish expenditure on former Taoisigh is in addition to their very generous pensions and the State cars and Garda drivers at their disposal.

“Home help hours for elderly citizens are being cut and we must ask how many such hours would this scheme pay for? It should be ended and the funds made available for a useful purpose

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anglo Cement Lorry Protester Morphing into Hero in an Ireland Seething with Pent-UP Fury

Yesterday was the opening day of the Dáil, our Parliament, once a revolutionary institution set up as an alternative centre of democratic power in Ireland before the British state relinquished political control of Ireland. Nowadays the Dáil is widely derided by the people of Ireland as the soiled and festering bed of parasites, gougers, shoneens, gombeens, and gobshites who run this poor benighted country. So as a result I have'nt heard anything but sympathy for the man who rammed the gates the Dáil building yesterday morning with a cement lorry, covered with slogans protesting about how the debts of Anglo-Irish bank being shouldered by the people of Ireland is grinding this country and its people into a morass of unemployment and sovereign debt that this state will be paying off for generations.

The cost of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank, the lender at the centre of Ireland's financial crisis, could rise to €34bn (£29.1bn) under a worst case scenario, the Irish central bank admitted today. The news came as the country's finance minister warned that the failure of the nationalised bank would "bring down" Ireland, and warned of further austerity measures.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Brian Lenihan said Ireland had no choice but to act. "Any Anglo failure would bring down the sovereign. It is systemically important not because of any intrinsic merit in the bank, I can assure [you] I don't see any. But because of its size relative to the national balance sheet. No country could contemplate the failure of such an institution," he said."The soaring costs of supporting the Irish banking system will cause the government's budget deficit to rise to 32% of gross domestic product this year, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said in his statement on Thursday.The EU limits only permit a deficit to reach 3% of GDP ideally....That estimate places the deepest deficit for any euro-zone country since the launch of the shared currency in 1999. Ireland, like other fiscally weakened countries such as Greece and Portugal and Spain, has been struggling to imposed radical spending cuts and tax increases to close budget gaps without triggering another recession.

What really infuriates people here is that....

i) the bankers and their cronies who brought the country to ruin are still swanning around Ireland and the world apparently completely immune to prosecution..Michael Lynn the lawyer who shafted €40 million off of his clients is sunning himself in the Algarve apparently without seemingly a care in the world. Sean Fitzpatrick the former boss of Anglo would have the courts believe he is on €188 a month when he continues to live a millionaire lifestyle.. (see seanie golfing pic) A lifefestyle he is enjoying courtesy of his wife who seems to have ready access to millions surprise surprise....seen here driving that battered old vehicle ...There is a widespread feeling that these creatures are beneficiaries of a discreet web of protection from the highest levels of gombeenism in this disfunctional (even by capitalist standards) state.

ii) The so called 'small people' who owe money or who protest are pursued with the full force of the state, the Anglo Avenger cement lorry driver is to be charged by the Director of Public Prosecutions with criminal damage, and no doubt fined heavily or even imprisoned. A young man made jobless in the crisis was jailed for failing to pay a €240 euro fine, he was released only when his father drew attention to this on the Joe Duffy liveline programme on RTE radio 1

People here are angry, but they have'nt got a focus to trigger a mass response. the organised trade union movement grew scared at the strength of workers responses to the few days of action organised in the Spring...the Trade Union bosses at SIPTU sold us out and signed a deal with government to stymie public sector resistance. The so called 'Labour Party' lead by ex-stickie Eamon Gilmore is so desperate to get into government they are not leading anything other than token verbal resistance. Quite frankly Sinn Féin seems paralysed and unimaginative and unwilling to mobilise mass protest.

Popular mass protests WILL erupt here, all that is required is the spark to ignite the blue touchpaper leading to the huge powder keg of anger waiting to explode....

European Workers Stir....Resistance is on the Agenda

Derek Kotz in Brussels, in Morning Star, Wednesday 29 September 2010

CLEAR MESSAGE: Protestors walk past a billboard which reads: 'No to austerity' during a demonstration in Brussels on Wednesday

The halls of EU power in Brussels trembled to the footsteps of more than 100,000 workers on Wednesday as they converged from across Europe to reject crippling austerity cuts.

Trade unions and activists representing 24 countries brought the city to a standstill as they snaked their way through the streets with a thunderous march that ended in a rally at the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire park.

As Spanish workers staged a general strike and Greek rail staff walked out over privatisation, the common call in a multitude of languages was for co-ordinated action against the biggest attack on Europe's working class since the 1930s.

A sea of banners proclaimed that workers would not be forced to pay with their jobs and services for a crisis caused by the unmitigated greed of bankers.

Banners and flags from RMT, PCS, NUT, TSSA, CWU, Napo, Unite and Usdaw were prominent among a noisy British contingent.

Brussels police were out in force, barricading the entrance of every bank in the city as well as the European Commission headquarters. But the massive event passed peacefully.

As the day of action - called by trade union umbrella organisation ETUC - took place outside, the EU Commission announced a package of proposals to crack down on hard-pressed member states, threatening them with huge fines if they failed to run their economies "efficiently."

Speaking to the Star from the rally, RMT leader Bob Crow condemned dangerous EU moves to impose centralised caps on public-sector pay and sanctions against member states deemed not to be cutting deep or fast enough.

"Workers across Europe face the same threat to jobs, public services and pensions, and that threat originates from exactly the same source - the centralised banks and the political elite who do their bidding," he explained.

Twinings Usdaw convenor Pete Millward emphasised the importance of public and private sector workers struggling together against the cuts, warning that the British government's plans to cut 600,000 public sector jobs would also mean "700,000 private sector job losses."

And he rubbished government claims that there was no alternative.

Unison youth delegate Gerry Cowell, a musician outreach worker from Colchester, was proud to be on the march alongside other workers and pensioners.

"It is important for us all to unite to oppose cuts wherever and to make our protest locally, nationally and acros Europe," she told the Star.

FBU national officer Dave Green hailed the "fantastic turnout" saying that it showed "the enormous level of resistance to austerity measures that governments will face."

He added: "Economies across Europe have been brought to the verge of collapse by the out-of-control greed of bankers."

Portuguese union UGT international officer Wanda Guimaraes made the point that workers "draw their strength from unity.

"Today's demonstration shows the trade union movement is a huge family that is united against cuts and poverty and against non-inclusive societies."

She stressed that unions had a responsibility to lead the fight to save services and jobs across the continent.

Organised pensioners across the continent also joined the march, with Dot Gibson of the British-based National Pensioners Convention stressing: "It is important for pensioners to link up with the union movement in opposing the cuts and attacks on workers pensions."

She said she was looking forward to a meeting next week with French, Italian and Spanish pensioners' organisations held in Paris to discuss their united response to the cuts.

Cedric Mahu of France's CGT union, which had 10,000 delegates on the march, said he would be on strike again on October 12 in his country's national strike against attempts by the Sarkozy government to take the hatchet to French workers' pensions.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Leitrim’s Unrepentant Communist- Jim Gralton

On August 13, 1933 Jim Gralton was forced to board a Trans-Atlantic Liner in Cork which was to set sail for the USA. Jim had been arrested on August 10 at a friend’s house in Gorvagh, County Leitrim and brought to Ballinamore Barracks where he was detained before being brought to Cork for his deportation. He had been living on the run since February of that year following the issuing of a deportation order by the courts who ruled that he had to leave Ireland by March 5. His deportation 77 years ago makes him the only native Irishman to be deported from this state.

He was born in Effernagh close to Carrick on Shannon in County Leitrim on April 17 1886. His education, such as it was, was received in nearby Kiltoghert school. Like most young people at the time, he left school early, aged just 14. After working for a number of employers in the local area, fed up with the harsh treatment he and others suffered at their hands, Jim headed for Dublin where he enlisted in the British army.

His rebellious behaviour was not long coming through and he endured punishment of 84 days on “bread and water” for his refusal to shine the leggings and buttons of one of his officers. He was then posted to India, but refused to go in protest at British policies in Ireland. For his defiance and protest, Jim was jailed for a year and subsequently deserted the army, going to work for a time in the coal mines of Wales and in Liverpool docks.

He then got employment as a ship’s stoker and eventually settled in New York where he became a US citizen in 1909. In the midst of the great wealth in the USA, Jim was appalled at the harsh, slave-like conditions that workers endured, which led him to become a firm believer in supporting the rights of workers and in socialism.

From the time he arrived in the US, Jim was active in supporting and raising much needed funds for both the Irish republican struggle and for fellow workers in New York. He became a member of the US Communist Party and became heavily involved in trade union activity. In the wake of the 1916 Rising, and after studying of the writings of James Connolly, Jim became a founding member of the James Connolly Club in New York.

Almost a decade and a half after arriving in the US, Jim decided to return home to Ireland in June 1921, just a month before the truce in the Tan War commenced on the 11th of July. During the war, the notorious Black and Tans had burnt the local Temperance Hall beside Gowel Church to the ground. On his return, Jim promised local people he would replace it and set about, with his own money and with local support, building a new hall on his father’s land near Effernagh crossroads.

The new hall, named the Pearse-Connolly Hall, was eventually opened on December 31 1921 and became an integral part of the everyday lives of the local community. Amongst its many uses was the holding in classes of a wide range of subjects including Irish, English, music, dancing, civics and agricultural science. This was also a time of many land disputes and the Hall was also used to hold Land Courts to settle many of these disputes. Despite the good work Jim was doing for his community and despite the valuable educational service that was been provided, not everyone was happy.

The Catholic Church in particular were extremely unhappy. They denounced him at every opportunity, at the pulpit during mass and in letters, going as far as to describe him as an extremely dangerous socialist and even an “Anti-Christ”. They accused him of “leading a campaign of Land agitation”, of trying to take the youth of the area away from the Catholic Church and of teaching communism to them in his classes.

The Free State forces also were unhappy with his activities, and on May 24 1922, they raided the Hall in a failed attempt to arrest Jim. The following month, as Civil War loomed, he got out and returned to the US. He did not return to Ireland until 1932 following the death of his brother Charlie who looked after and ran the family farm and following the securing of power in the Twenty-Six Counties by Fianna Fáil. Like many other people at that time, Jim was of the mistaken belief that a Fianna Fáil government would allow for the development of progressive politics in his homeland.

Following his return to Ireland, Jim re-opened the Pearse-Connolly Hall which had been closed for many years while he was in the US. He also involved himself once again in left-wing agitation, joining the Revolutionary Workers’ Group [a forerunner of the Communist Party of Ireland]. As well as the hall being used for dances and other social activities, meetings were also held there highlighting issues such as unemployment and the rights of workers and tenants.

He spoke at many anti-eviction meetings and following the eviction of a worker from his home in Keadue, in Co Roscommon, Jim joined with a local IRA group in re-instating the worker and his family back into their family home. This radicalism and persistent campaigning on such issues was of major concern once again to conservatives in general and to the Catholic Church and Fianna Fáil in particular.

Once again, Jim was denounced as a massive campaign was launched by the clergy against him and the views he represented. Shamefully, many of his former comrades turned their backs on him, as the church demanded that the Hall, which they described as a “den of iniquity” be shut down.

The Hall came under physical attack on many occasions. Shots were fired into it during a dance and an attempt to blow it up with a bomb failed. Finally, on Christmas Eve 1932, the Hall was eventually destroyed when it was burned to the ground.

In February of 1933, at the behest of the Catholic Church, the Fianna Fáil government ordered the deportation of Jim from his homeland by March 5 on the spurious grounds of him being an “undesirable alien”. Instead of complying with the order, Jim went on the run, staying with friends and neighbours in the area. During his time on the run, the Revolutionary Workers’ Group organised a campaign in support of Jim. Public meetings were organised and addressed by Jim himself, and by other prominent republican socialists of the time such as George Gilmore and Peadar O’Donnell. Many of these meetings were attacked and broken up by reactionaries.

Finally on August 10 1933, the Free State caught up with Jim, capturing him at a friend’s house in Gorvagh. He was taken to Ballinamore Barracks where he was detained before being transported to Cork where he was put on board a Trans-Atlantic Liner and deported to the US against his will. He was never again allowed to return to Ireland.

Undeterred, upon his arrival back in the US, Jim once again got involved in trade unionism and left wing politics. Along with Gerald O’Reilly, a close colleague of George Gilmore, Jim set up the Irish Workers’ Group in New York. He became a trade union organiser, encouraging the involvement of women within the unions, and set about promoting, republishing and distributing the works of James Connolly. During the Spanish Civil War, he raised funds for the International Brigades who were going to Spain to fight against fascism and in defence of the Republic.

A committed and unrepentant communist up to his last breath, Jim Gralton died in exile in New York on December 29 1945 and is buried in Woodlawn cemetery in the Bronx area of the City.

To conclude fittingly, the final words go to a comrade of Jim’s, Charlie Byrne. Speaking at Jim’s Graveside in the Bronx in 2005 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his death, Charlie said:

“Let all of us who believe in the principles for which Gralton stood, pledge ourselves anew to the continuation of the fight for the complete political, cultural and economic rights of the working classes in all lands, no crying, no weeping over his grave at Woodlawn. There is work to be done, so let us carry on; Gralton would have it that way.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kevin Myers Gets the 'Downfall' Treatment

This posting will appeal mainly to those readers familiar with the subtleties of the politics associated with the Irish language here in Ireland... Kevin Myers is a columnist in the leading Irish daily paper 'The Independent' owned by 'Sir' Antony O'Reilly. Kevin Myers and his boss, O'Reilly, would roughly share the same politics, namely a right wing neo-liberal economic viewpoint amalgamated with a peculiar brand of right wing ideology found here in Ireland, namely an ideological antipathy to all things associated with Irish Republicanism, Irish national identity, and a sort of permanent apologia for Ireland severing the colonial link to the UK.

Kevin Myers' Downfall from Myles na gCapailín on Vimeo.

An interesting contradiction emerges here, since those who may in some ways regret the establishment of an Irish Republic, can not be overtly antagonistic to the state itself, since this would imply loyalty to another state. But there is nevertheless an hidden agenda in Myers columns continually attacking the teaching of the Irish language in our schools, as well as trusty old themes such as the heroic role of the Irish in the British Army, wearing a poppy on Remembrance day, welcoming a visit of the Queen of England to Ireland etc etc ad nauseam.
Despite the huge pressure placed upon it by globalisation, the Irish language stubbornly refuses to disappear,and in fact is gaining in strength and popularity as an accompaniment as well as an alternative to the hiberno-english spoken by most people here. The theme of the attached video is the likely reaction of Myers (a la Hitler) to the real news that Sir Antony O'Reilly's flagship newspaper the Irish Independent has picked up the Irish language newspaper Foinnse and incorporated it into it publishing output as a free sheet. A good deal for the readers, most of who can read Irish, a good deal for the language, but a move that somewhat undermines Kevin Myers oft stated opinion in the very same newspaper that the language is irrelevant...I know that altering the subtitles for this famousscene from the German film classic has been done before, but the humour in these ( completely erroneous) subtitles is particularly well targeted.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sex and the City II....Brilliantly Demolished by Mark Kermode

I have despised 'Sex and the City' since I first had the misfortune of having seen parts of it when it was on the TV. I note that a second film has been made, and I know that not having seen it I should not participate in slagging it off...Yes I know that I am not part of the target market, but there is an authenticity to Mark Kermode's criticism that suggests to me that I would in all likelihood find myself in complete agreement with him..
That apart I just have to admit that this outpouring by Mark Kermode, is despite his promise NOT to indulge in a rant, is one of the highest class rants I have heard in recent times....and boy that film sounds like it thoroughly deserved it....Yet otherwise reasonably intelligent women will still go and see it....It is one of many aspects of human life that is a complete mystery to me, the older I become,  the more mysterious and puzzling certain aspects of human life and culture become....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Anti-Communism....Or How to Turn Heroes into Villains

Two hundred captive Nazi military banners and standards were chosen out of  thousands , and paraded in front of the people of the USSR during the Great Victory Parade in Red Square in  Moscow on the 24th June 1945...British YCL General Secretary George Waterhouse explains the background behind the decision of the Polish government to ban the dissemination of "communist symbolism" and charts the growing rise of anti-communism across Europe

 "Last month US, French and British troops marched across Moscow's Red Square in a Victory Day parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the defeat of fascism in EuropeYet elements within the European Union are currently embarking on an anti-communist crusade that seeks to equate communism with nazi fascism, as part of a much wider offensive against any opposition to the neoliberal agenda.

This gross distortion of history has at its heart a revisionism that attacks the role of communists and socialists while, at the same time, downplaying the crimes of fascism.

Revisionist historians, most notably Niall Ferguson, have claimed that the "blame" for the second world war should be equally shared by the Soviet Union and nazi Germany. Ferguson has stated that Stalin was "as much an aggressor as Hitler." However, attempts to equate communism and fascism hint that the former was worse than the latter.

In history lessons in schools across Britain children are taught a module on the "great dictators" where they study Hitler, Stalin and Fidel Castro. Communism, we are taught, is worse than nazism because, according to figures attained by dubious and ahistorical methodology, it is "responsible" for the deaths of more people.

This outrageous claim has been supported by "historian" Orlando Figes who described the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact as "the licence for the Holocaust." This view of the second world war is complete nonsense. It is a disgraceful insult to the great sacrifices made by the Soviet people, partisans and ordinary people across Europe in pursuit of the defeat of fascism.

How can a conscious genocide carried out along racial lines by death camps be compared to communism?

For all its faults the Soviet Union built an egalitarian society that provided top-quality health, education, cultural activities and employment for all its citizens. The Soviet Union sought to end the violent racism and anti-semitism that traditionally plagued Russian society as well as to bring about the emancipation of women by introducing unparalleled childcare provision and enforcing equ

The socialist camp provided crucial assistance to national liberation and anti-colonialist movements across the globe. The Soviet Union's contribution to this struggle has been recognised by Nelson Mandela among others.

On June 8 the Polish government will implement an amendment to the penal code criminalising the dissemination of "communist symbolism." Anyone who "produces, perpetuates, imports, stores, possesses, presents, carries or sends a printout, a recording or other object" carrying "communist or other totalitarian symbolism" would be punished with up to two years in prison.

Not only would this mean the banning of the international symbol of the communist movement - the hammer and sickle - but also the five-pointed red star, a symbol used by many socialists and social democrats across the world.

From the pronouncements made by government ministers and other right-wing politicians in Poland it is likely that the ban could also extend to other symbols and icons including pictures of Che Guevara and Lenin on T-shirts and posters.

This latest piece of anti-communist repression follows a wave of similar legislation across Europe. Bans on communist symbols have already been implemented in Hungary and Lithuania, while attempts and similar legislation have been pursued in Slovakia and many other countries in eastern Europe.

In 2006 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution that attempted to condemn communism as a "totalitarian" ideology. Speakers denounced the existence of "monuments, street names and other external symbols associated with the history of communism." The PACE resolution also called on all communist and post-communist parties of the Council of Europe member countries "to revise the history of communism and of their own history and unequivocally condemn them."

In 2007 the Czech government outlawed the Communist Youth Union because of its support for public ownership of the means of production. The Czech government has also attempted to outlaw its parent party the Communist Party of Bohemia & Moravia - a party with mass popular support that finished second in the 2004 European Parliament elections and continues to be an influential party in the Czech parliament.

In 2009 Moldovan anti-communists organised riots across the country after the Moldovan Communist Party won the election. In the Baltic republics anti-communism is being used in order to rehabilitate nazism. Veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS now parade through the streets of Riga and Estonian parliamentarians have honoured those who served the Third Reich as "fighters for independence."

Most shamefully, Nato and EU member Lithuania opened a war crimes investigation into four Jewish veterans of the country's partisans. Efraim Zuroff, the famous nazi hunter, has stated: "People need to wake up to what is going on. This attempt to create a false symmetry between communism and the nazi genocide is aimed at covering up these countries' participation in mass murder."

There are two elements to this anti-communist offensive by the European Union.

The first and most predominant element is an attempt to whitewash the crimes of capitalism and to silence opposition to the commitment of the European Union to capitalism and imperialism.

It is no accident that this upswing in the rising tide of anti-communism comes at a time when millions of people across Europe are being mobilised in opposition to the swingeing cuts being pursued by the neoliberalist EU to fund the bailout of the banks and financial institutions.

Communists across Europe have assumed a prominent role in this struggle against an intensification of competition, the surge in privatisation, and the ripping up of trade unionist's rights. Those labour movement battles that have seen most success contain a cohort of communists at their heart.

The great anti-communist crusade is inseparable from the European Union's enforcement of austerity measures across the continent. The campaign to outlaw communism also runs hand in hand with the expansion of Nato into eastern Europe. Along with the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq imperialism is conducting repression on a massive scale in the name of "democracy" and "freedom."

This historical revisionism is being used by a rising tide of fascists to justify attacks on immigrants, socialists and communists. Ultimately, these measures act as a catalyst for the full rehabilitation of nazism.

This disgraceful censorship contradicts the "democratic ideals" professed by the European Union.

It is incumbent on all communists, socialists and progressives to oppose this latest move in the anti-communist offensive. "

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dan and Dan...The Daily Mail Song

I spent many years when working in the UK being totally astonished at the amount of people in the UK who seemed to think that the rabid right wing bile pumped out by the right wing middle-class tabloid the Daily Mail was in some sense a reflection of reality.
I was delighted and very tickled by this video that these comics have put together on the subject of the Daily Mail, the two who are apparently both called Dan, seem to have a developed a nice line in that understated humour that can be so devastatingly funny.

Good also to see a couple of new faces who are using Facebook and the internet to good purpose in promoting their humour...I wish them both the very best, one of the funniest things I have seen for a's their sketch on taxation...

You can keep in touch with their video output by logging on to their Youtube channel at
Or their blogpage at

Spread the word these guys could go far.....( ha ha) ( or this GUY ;) )

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ireland Requires Political Actions Such as These....

I have always been an admirer of the KKE (The Communist Party of Greece), I encountered the KKE and the KNE when at University in Britain in the early 1980's and was always impressed by their combination of militancy, imaginative political actions, and a sound theoretical grasp of complex political situations.

Far from being cowed by the enormous intimidation being applied to the people of Greece by the forces of international finance capital, they have reacted in a truly heroic and imaginative manner which points the finger of blame squarely at those responsible for the economic collapse since 2008.

In common with here in Ireland, in Greece strenuous attempts are being made to make the ordinary working people pay for the crisis created by the greed of the bankers and property developers. Now it is 'the markets' and 'bond investors' who must be heeded at all costs. Who are these if not the investing arms of the same financial structures which wrought this havoc in the first place.

Here in Ireland, I was depressed to see that Sinn Féin had mounted a nationwide campaign against mass unemployment, which consisted of Sinn Féin activists attending job centres and getting jobless workers to sign post cards of protest to the Government. That deluge of post cards is really going to have the gombeens leading Fianna Fáil and the Green party quaking in their boots...

We need militant and imaginative street based campaigns of the sort undertaken recently by the KKE and depicted in this video. There is no shortage of anger out there but the much commented upon passivity of the Irish public's response has been determined by a complete absence of any imaginative and colourful means to focus that anger. Instead the anger in Ireland is being internalised, with the repetition by the right wing media and the corporate media pundits of the mantra 'We are Where we Are' (WAWWA), which is a bit like the sort of thing yu might say to a toddler that has'nt quite made it in time to the potty...'never mind love ,we' ll clean it up, sure nothing can be done about it now', the subtext of which is that it IS in fact your fault. As psychologists tell us, internalised anger merely prompts depression. This is taking the form here in Ireland of sullen resentment and resignation. Which is precisely the response that our corporate masters would wish for.

Organisations such as Sinn Féin and the Labour Party should be devising ways to channel the anger that exists, or seem increasingly irrelevant as the 'WAWWA' brigade dominate the public discourse here in Ireland. Hats off to Dr Chris Sparks of Sligo IT in the 'Ghost Estates' RTE documentary last night for articulating the sort of sincere anger and exasperation that spokespeople of Sinn Féin and the Labour Party need to be expressing.

Though small this action recently by Eírigi is to be congratulated for its imaginativeness and its militancy, if anyone doubts that it was supported just listen to the car horns hooting as Dublin motorists voiced their approval..

What has happened here in Ireland is the biggest treason ever committed against the people of this country since the Civil War. It demands an adequate political response, Sinn Féin has the organisational capacity, why not mount a national three pronged cross country march of the unemployed from the South, North West and South East along the lines of the Unemployed marches of the 1930s and 1980's in the UK?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Collateral Murder in Iraq-Definitely NOT for the Faint Heated...

The following video was something that I watched with a growing sense of absolute bone chilling horror, I was an opponent of the US invasion of Iraq, but the political stance of opposition is a stance of the intellect. This footage is chilling, and evokes a horror of the heart and the soul, because it is clear that the perpetrators of the murders, clearly are deriving some warped satisfaction at the killings, and also have ceased to see their targets as real people. The process of dehumanization is a prerequisite of atrocity. I wonder if those who see war as a sort of video game should look at this footage, it is the ultimate sick video 'game'.
WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack.

The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Greek Cops Hospitalize Manolis Glezos WWII Anti-Nazi Veteran

I hope that 87 year old comrade Manolis Glezos is recovering from his ordeal at the hands of the Greek anti-riot police. The veteran hero of the fight against nazi occupation of Greece
(who in 1959 had a Soviet postage stamp issued to commemorate his actions see below)

received a direct spray of tear gas in to his eyes in the recent anti-government austerity protests in Athen. One Greek commentator pithily observed

The point is that Glezos , fell wounded in front of [the Monument of] the Unknown Soldier, struck by a greek employee of the Greek State, at the same time that the Head of [that] State was begging in Germany

On May 30, 1941, he and Apostolos Santas climbed on the Acropolis and tore down the Swastika, which had been there since April 27, 1941, when the Nazi forces had entered Athens. That was the first resistance act that took place in Greece, and probably among the very first ones in Europe. It inspired not only the Greeks, but all subjected people, to resist against the occupation, and established them both as two international anti-Nazi heroes.
The Nazi regime responded by sentencing Glezos and Santas to death in absentia. Glezos was arrested by the German occupation forces on March 24, 1942, and he was subjected to imprisonment and torture. As a result of this treatment, he was gravely affected by tuberculosis. He was arrested on April 21, 1943 by the Italian occupation forces and spent three months in jail. In February 7, 1944 he was arrested again, this time by Greek Nazi collaborators. He spent another seven and a half months in jail, until he finally escaped on September 21 of the same year.

I only hope that Manolis recovers from his ordeal, and sincerely hope that every one of us are able to display such vim and vitality when we reach our 87th year!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Edward Upward's Complete Works Now Available for Electronic Download

I was delighted to see that relatives of the late Marxist writer Edward Upward have put together a superb commemorative website, which provides a definitive source of data and information connected to Edward Upward.

The writer fully acknowledges with gratitude material provided in the piece below derived from the Edward Upward website described. I wrote earlier at the time of Edward death about my connection with him and my great regard for his work HERE

Of particular interest to readers of 'Unrepentant Communist' will be the opportunity to download in its entirety 'the Spiral Ascent' dialectical triad of novels, set in the period of the 1930's, 1940's, and the 1950's and early 1960s. Charting the developments both artistically and politically surrounding the Communist teacher and writer Alan Sebbrill. Picture above the Battle of Cable street, antifascist activity is described in wonderful detail in the first section of the triad, 'In the Thirties'.

You can access the Spiral Ascent and download in its entirety electronically here

Edward Upward was a writer of novels and short stories from the 1920s until into the present century. His literary associates included Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender. Upward's early and late stories often involve a fantastical element, whilst his trilogy of novels The Spiral Ascent recalls the events and atmosphere of his overlapping literary, political and educational worlds. The question of how art should relate to real life and, more specifically, how a socialist can combine artistic creativity with political commitment, is central to his mature work.

Although The Spiral Ascent is not strictly autobiographical, most of the characters and incidents in it are very similar to real-life counterparts, with Alan and Elsie being based on Upward and his wife Hilda, and Richard on Isherwood. One of the obvious divergences from reality is that Alan is a poet in the book rather than a writer of prose.

In the Thirties recounts Alan Sebrill's attempts to write and find love, his personal crisis, and then his involvement in the Communist Party, his job as a teacher and his marriage to Elsie. The opening chapter by the seaside sees the young writers Alan and Richard glorying in language and nature but also deliberately making contact with 'the so-called lower classes'. This may seem strange until the reader realises that they have had the same isolated, privileged upbringing as the 'poshocrats' they despise. Later in the book we find Alan sometimes fighting to suppress some lingering snobbish attitudes, but he doesn't waver in his commitment to the side of the workers.

Later chapters give a vivid picture of the activities of CP members, including opposition to Oswald Mosley's blackshirts and routine leafleting. Upward is not afraid to put the opinions of the time into Alan's mouth without the benefit of hindsight, including those showing his ignorance of the extent of Stalin's crimes. He thus provides a truthful account of the events, atmosphere and his own feelings of the 1930s. This is one of the most notable achievements of the trilogy, and one which is partly a result of Upward retaining his revolutionary politics. Many writers about the period who were on the left in the thirties moved to the right during the Cold War and easily fell into cynicism or opposition to their earlier ideas, whereas Upward is still able to recognize the genuine motivations and positive results of the actions of ordinary CP members despite the effects of Stalinism on the Party. The final chapter closes shortly before the war begins, with comrades on a walk in the country, and includes what is effectively a prose ode to trees, reflecting Upward's own love of the natural world as well as his observational and descriptive powers.

Whereas In the Thirties has Alan and Elsie going along with the Party's condemnation of a dissident member, the subject of The Rotten Elements is their own disagreement with the Party's post-war policy in Britain, which they believe is a reformist betrayal of Leninism. This involves them in a theoretical confrontation with the Party leadership in which their reasoned arguments are arrogantly dismissed. The novel soon begins to take on some of the colouring of a political thriller. There is good cause for paranoia given both the hostility of the Party leadership and state surveillance, although Elsie has a more level-headed reaction to events than Alan, who has a tendency to emphasize the ominous.

Upward's intermittent discussion of religion in the trilogy features strongly in The Rotten Elements, where Alan and Elsie are shown having conversations with their children about Christianity and a Communist ex-minister plays a prominent part. Whilst Alan sometimes compares his attitudes to those of a religious person, he has long been an atheist and does not impute any religious aspect to Marxism itself.

In the final volume of the trilogy, No Home But the Struggle, Alan (like Upward as he was writing) has retired from teaching and is able to write full-time. The narration is now in the first person and the book is full of reminiscences of Alan's childhood and university days, told in a relaxed, Proustian manner. These are interspersed with accounts of Alan and Elsie's political activities in the post-war decades, particularly as members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. But the dominant thread, as throughout The Spiral Ascent, is Alan's ongoing struggle to write poetry which will be both artistically truthful and contribute to the fight for a better world.