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Irish Marxism

What sort of Anti-War Campaign (3) – Not against the war but for victory?

Graphic from The Economist Opposition to the Russian invasion to the exclusion of all other causes of the war rests upon the view that there has been an aggressive invasion of Ukraine and its people have the right to defend themselves. This cardinal fact supersedes consideration of all issues before the invasion occurred. In doing so, while thinking…

What sort of Anti-War Campaign (2) – A broad campaign?

Photograph Irish Times In the previous post I argued that the argument for an anti-war campaign set out in this article is wrong and beset by numerous problems. So let’s consider its statements that demonstrate the accuracy of this judgment: ‘Our priority is how to mobilise the majority of people in Britain who recognize the reactionary nature…

What sort of Anti-War Campaign (1) – A question of tactics?

This image is an advertisement for a Ukraine Solidarity Campaign meeting in Ireland The war in Ukraine has revealed deep divisions amongst those describing themselves as Marxists, with references to Lenin and Trotsky aplenty and rebuttals against them quoted from the same sources.  It is however necessary to study this debate and read the references…

On a Resolution in Solidarity with Ukraine

[] British trade unionists are being asked to support a model resolution in support of Ukraine in the war with Russia.  It is not the usual generalised call for an end to the war and for peace but is explicit support for one side. For example, it calls ‘for Russian troops to cease fire and leave all Ukrainian territory immediately.’ There is…

The War in Ukraine and the Left

Russians in St Petersburg protest against the war in Ukraine An article in the British web site ‘Anti-capitalist Resistance’ has an analysis of the British Left’s view of the war in Ukraine.  It reminds me of the old Irish response when asked for directions to a particular destination – if I wanted to get there I wouldn’t start from here…

The Russian invasion of Ukraine

The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces should be opposed by all socialists.  It will deliver death and destruction and strengthen division between the workers of each country; not to mention division within Ukraine between its majority and Russian-speaking populations, and within Russia and its millions of Ukrainian residents. Initial reports are…

Stormont falls again – Brexit on loop

The decision by the DUP leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, to collapse the Northern Ireland Executive was a bit of a surprise, but it only evoked the sort of reaction among many people of – ‘whatever’. He had set so many deadlines and made so many declarations of his seriousness that most people had begun to take it as background noise.  It’s not…

Opinion polls and a United Ireland (4) – Support in the South for unity

The Irish Times It stands to reason that for a united Ireland to happen both North and South would have to agree to it.  The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll in December last year recorded the results of an opinion poll on support for a united Ireland in the South. An Irish Times columnist summed it up right from the start – ‘So, you want a united…

Opinion polls and a United Ireland (3) – a struggle not simply a vote

[] It would seem ironic if demographics determined a united Ireland.  Socialists over the decades have advanced a political strategy based on working class unity and opposition to sectarian arrangements, including partition, which has strengthened division.  We have condemned a strategy based on Catholics ‘out-breeding’ Protestants. In fact…

Opinion polls and a United Ireland 2 – unionist pessimism, nationalist optimism and Brexit

The pessimism of unionism revealed again in the Lord Ashcroft poll is based on their uncomfortable reliance on perfidious Albion – ‘more voters thought the Westminster government would rather see Northern Ireland leave the UK than thought it would rather keep the province as part of the Union. Only 11% of voters, and only 21% of Unionists, said…

Going to see ‘Belfast’ by Kenneth Branagh

I went to see ‘Belfast’ by the actor and Director Kenneth Branagh with an open mind, and I left wanting to like it more than perhaps I did.  It’s an autobiographical film of a small Protestant boy and his working class family at the beginning of the Troubles. Since I was once a small Protestant boy at the beginning of the Troubles, and living…

Opinion polls and a United Ireland – 1

Everyone loves an opinion poll on the potential result of a referendum on a united Ireland.  The media has something to report and its commentators have something to comment on.  Nationalists in particular like them – they are a good fit with Sinn Fein policy of being in favour of a united Ireland while not actually being able to do very much about…

Goodbye Covid-19?

Professor Tim Colbourn of University College London was quoted in the ‘Financial Times’ (on 4 Jan) that it was “entirely reasonable to think that the burden of Covid can be reduced by 95 per cent in 2022, so that it’s no longer a top 10 health problem.  That would be a reasonable goal to end the pandemic.” The article notes that ‘some…

‘Lockdowns . . . a failure of public health policy.’

When University College Dublin virologist Dr Gerald Barry was interviewed by ‘The Irish Times’ and asked ­– why have we so many cases when we’re so highly boosted? – he said ‘Even asking the question points to the root of our problem in Ireland and in many parts of the world, we are using a tool that isn’t designed to stop infections…

Hello Omicron

Back in December the Deputy First Minister warned that Omicron will hit Northern Ireland “like a ton of bricks”.  “Once again we find ourselves dealing with what potentially is going to be the worst time through the whole of the pandemic,” she added. ‘We are continuing to work around the clock with public health officials to understand…

‘From Empire to Europe’, and then where?

‘From Empire to Europe: The Decline and Revival of British Industry since the Second World War, Geoffrey Owen, Harper Collins, 2000. This is another book I read last year: a history that more than most has contemporary relevance.  It charts the story of British manufacturing from the end of the Second World War to the end of the century.  The…

Some books I read in 2021 (3) – ‘The Illusions of Postmodernism’

The appearance of widespread support among organisations describing themselves as Marxist for demands that don’t have a material basis – I’m referring to the claims of some trans activists that men can become women simply by declaring it – has come as has surprise to many, although perhaps it should not. In attempting to explain this, those…

Some books I read in 2021 (2) – ‘Market Maoists’

The rapid economic growth of China to one of the world’s leading powers has prompted debate on how this was achieved, from its extreme poverty to the prodigious development associated with its insertion into the world capitalist system.  This book traces the evolution of the earlier relations between China under Mao and the capitalist world, before…

Some books I read in 2021 (1) – ‘Red Globalisation’

‘Red Globalisation: The political economy of the Soviet Cold War from Stalin to Krushchev’, Oscar Sanchez-Sibony, Cambridge University Press, 2014 Despite the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc the politics of Stalinism lives on, infecting even those who declare their politics to be its historic left opposition.  This politics…

Covid and the failure of the NHS

Thirty-six years ago I had an interview for a temporary clerical officer job in the local hospital.  One question was – ‘Who is the most important person in the health service?’ Thinking on my feet as I sat in the interview I answered – ‘the patient.’ Which is the right answer. Although this doesn’t appear to be the case today. While…

Three books on Transgender Politics (4 of 4) – Trans – When Ideology Meets Reality

The third book – Trans – was bought in an Oxfam bookshop in England and I wonder would I be able to buy it there again? It is, like the first, a critique of gender identity theory, which claims that if someone identifies as a woman, they are a woman, regardless of any contrary biological facts.  It is justified because it is claimed that no…

Three Books on Transgender Politics (3 of 4) – ‘An Argument for Justice’ based on the definition of Woman

Only in the last two chapters of her book does Faye really focus on the debate she said she would not engage, and when she starts, she says something startling. “The effect of both division and consumerism is to encourage individual identity over and above commonality. A person’s sense of their own identity is certainly important for their psychological…

Three books on transgender politics (2 of 4) – The Transgender Issue – an Argument for Justice

Shon Faye is a trans woman and activist who argues that trans people should unite with others to overthrow oppression, asserting that trans demands are “synonymous” with the goals of gays and feminists. In the prologue she gives her rendering of the meaning of the “relatively new term” ‘cis’; – “’Cisgender’ is the Latin antonym for…

Three books on Transgender politics (1 of 4) – Material Girls

The three books under review tackle an issue on which there is no agreement in the debate or even whether there should be one.  No agreement on the terms used and no agreement on the facts, no agreement on what the status of the terms employed have in relation to the facts and which are relevant to the issue. Making resolution much, much harder is…

The Northern Ireland Protocol and Brexit 2 – the cart without a horse

The offer by the EU to significantly reduce checks on goods, especially food, on the Irish Sea border, and the promise to legislate for British authorisation of medicines supplied into NI and therefore the Single Market, takes away the salience of complaints of barriers to the supply of goods from Britain into Northern Ireland.  The solution of the…


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