The Irish Ruling Class Celebrates Its Defeat of Democracy and Independence

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 3 mins.)

The Irish State recently commemorated the end of the Irish Civil War but what it was really doing was celebrating its victory over the democratic national liberation forces.

The Irish national bourgeoisie, the Gombeen ruling class, armed and supplied by British Imperialism and colonialism, in 1922 launched a war against the forces that had brought the British Occupiers to the negotiation table.

In that short war or counterrevolution, the Irish State formally executed over 80 Irish Republican Volunteers – many more than had the British during the War of Independence 1919-1921. It also shot dead and blew up surrendered Volunteers and kidnapped, tortured and murdered others.

The Irish government of the day put the financial cost of the Civil War at 50 million sterling which today would be near to 3 billion euro.

A curtain of repression settled over Ireland, in the Irish state and in the colony in the Six Counties (in particular from the RIC re-baptised as RUC and the State-armed Loyalists of the B-Specials). Many Republicans were in jail and if not, could not find work and so emigrated.

The political party allegedly representing the Republicans, Fianna Fáil, led by a former leader of the forces attacked by the State, joined the Gombeen system and became in fact the preferred party of the Irish ruling class.

Though the Republican forces recovered and returned to the struggle in the 1930s (with the Communists against the fascist Blackshirts), again in the 1940s and onwards, they never again came close to winning control over the State.

What the Irish State has given us since its inception, even after the Civil War, has been generations of underdevelopment; unemployment and emigration; a huge decline in the Irish-speaking areas; inequality and social repression of women and LGBT people.

The latter was due to Catholic Church domination in every sphere of life, resulting in institutional physical, mental and sexual abuse, along with censorship in printed, audio and visual media and ibanning of contraception.

The ruling class of the Irish State, the Gombeens, tolerated the foreign occupation and control of more than one-fifth of the island’s land mass and abandoned the large Catholic minority in the colony to discrimination and pogroms.

It tolerated also institutional and media racism against the Irish diaspora in Britain, the repressive legislation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the jailing for long sentence of a score of innocent Irish people in five different cases in the 1970s.

The Irish State tolerated Loyalist/ British Intelligence bombing inside its territory, failed to protect its citizens from terrorist bombing in the 1970s and covered up its complicity, for example with regard to the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings.

In addition, it used a Loyalist bombing to disarm the opposition to repressive legislation, not against Loyalists but against Irish Republicans, sending Republican activists to jail on the unsupported word of a senior police officer.

More recently this Irish State that we inherited has given us a housing crisis while it makes the territory a rich hunting ground for property speculators, bankers, landlords and vulture funds and also sells off/ gives away our natural resources, public transport and other infrastructures.

The selling-off includes our health service which is also in crisis while the private companies chop off parts of it and sell service back to the State at a profit. And a country that was able to feed 8.5 million prior to 1845 (and export foodstuffs) cannot now feed 5 million without huge imports.

They have given us nothing to celebrate but as always, there is a choice. We can bemoan the situation or we can “take back the nation they’ve sold” (Soldiers of Twenty-Two). And that cannot be done through electing any party or parties into the system.



Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 8 mins.)

On the 49th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings a number of speakers criticised the Garda closure of its investigation a mere four months after the bombing with the highest number killed in any one day of the 30 years war.

The criticisms were made on 17th May at the annual commemoration of the atrocity in Talbot Street, Dublin, organised by the Justice For the Forgotten campaign, held at the location of the memorial on the site of one of the bombings of that day.

The annual commemoration has been organised for many years by the Justice For the Forgotten campaigning group at the Talbot Street monument to the bombing1. It usually comprises reminiscences, poetry and music and a call for the British State to release its secret papers.

As of rote, an Irish Government Minister is invited to speak who routinely says how hard the Irish Government has been trying to get the British State to release the secret papers revealing the latter’s connection to those who carried out the bombing.

Yeas after the bombings, a British TV company (!) pointed the finger at the Ulster Volunteer Force, a British Loyalist paramilitary group but believed acting under British Intelligence agency direction, named some of those involved and a week later the UVF claimed responsibility.

In addition to British Intelligence, the British colonial police2 and British Army3 had been widely known to be working in collusion with Loyalists.

But few would have suspected Irish State collusion.


On 17th May 1974 three car bombs exploded without warning in crowded Dublin city centre streets and another in Monaghan town centre. Thirty-three people were killed along with a full-term baby and a miscarriage with around 300injured. No-one was ever even charged in relation to the atrocity.

Scene post-bombing in Talbot Street, the site where the Monument was erected later is out of shot to the right. (Photo sourced: Internet)

The intention, unlike that of many other city car-bombings in the Six Counties and in England, was clearly to cause maximum death and injury to civilians. The areas chosen in Dublin were full of shops with bus stops and 5.30pm was going home time from shopping and work.

And no warning was given.

In the course of the short Garda4 investigation, in macabre irony the remains of the exploded cars were sent for forensic examination to their very source: the Six Counties, i.e to the colonial police force (at the time, the RUC5). Unsurprisingly, nothing useful came back.

In a war that was already five years old (six years, if the civil rights marches are included) the collusion between the British colonial police and Loyalist paramilitary murder gangs was well known and collusion with the British Army widely suspected.

Floral tributes on the north face of the monument in Talbot Street. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Floral tributes on the south face of the monument in Talbot Street. (Photo: D.Breatnach)


The Loyalist bombing of two cities in the Irish state in 1974, although by far the worst of the whole period, were not the first in Ireland, not even the first fatal ones.

In 1973 a Loyalist bomb in Dublin city killed Tommy Douglas and the year before that another killed George Bradshaw and Tommy Duffy – all were employees of Irish public transport state company CIE.

Even after the horror of 1974, on 29th November 1975, another a bomb at Dublin Airport killed John Hayes, a worker there.

And there were other earlier ones where no-one was injured, such as the blowing up of the Wolfe Tone monument just outside Stephens Green on 8th February 19716 and the Daniel O’Connell Monument in Glasnevin Cemetery (the round tower) in December 1971.

Pieces of the statue of Theobald Wolfe Tone on St Stephen’s Green. The statue was blown up by a loyalist bomb. A report at the time noted that ‘Huge slabs of the bronze sculpture were hurled 20 feet in the air’. 08/02/1971 (Photo sourced: Internet)
The O’Connell Monument in Glasnevin seen here at sunset from the Botanic Gardens was a target of Loyalist bombing in 1971 (Photo: D.Breatnach)

If the Irish State had pursued investigations and cross-Border links after the earliest of those bombings, they might have headed off the carnage that followed later.

Not only did they not do so but in fact used the 1972 bombing to blame Irish Republicans so as to get an unpopular piece of repressive legislation through parliament, the Amendment to the Offences Against the State Act, along with the establishment of the no-jury Special Criminal Court7.

The Garda Commissioner at the time of the 1974 bombings was Patrick Malone and Ed Garvey, his Assistant Commissioner, was later exposed as a British Secret Service asset run by Fred Holroyd, a disenchanted British agent who revealed he had visited the policeman in his Dublin HQ.

Garvey, by then Commissioner, denied being a British agent and claimed no memory of the visit.

The Barron Report (2003) concluded that visit had undoubtedly occurred and that he had not informed his superiors, contrary to all rules regarding contact with agents working for a foreign government.8 When Fianna Fáil came into Government again, they sacked Garvey.

Since FF had not subjected him to a regular disciplinary process, probably in order to avoid the sordid story going public, Garvey was able to sue the Irish Government, win damages and ensure he received his former pension entitlements.


Aidan Shields, who lost his sister Maureen in the bombing, chaired the event for Justice for the Forgotten and introduced its Secretary Margaret Unwin who, as all speaking or performing at the event seemed conscious that next year would be the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.

Margaret Unwin speaking at start of event (Photo: D.Breatnach)

The regular Government slot was occupied by the current Tánaiste (Dep. Prime Minister) Mícheál Martin who, as has every Government representative since the JFTF commemorations began, claimed energetic diplomatic discussions for release of the papers with their British counterparts.

Martin also criticised the British Government’s widely-criticised intended legislation to prevent official investigations and trials regarding past crimes committed by British forces, while he simultaneously praised the British pacification process.

A young Italian woman played the theme from the Schindler’s List film and another air on violin. A visiting Italian couple had been killed in the bombing also but that was not mentioned when she was introduced.

Rachel Hegarty read from her poetry compilation about the victims, based on testimonies by surviving relatives and friends. Cormac Breatnach on high D whistle and Eoin Dillon on uileann pipes played the Irish air Tabhair Dom Do Lámh (“Give Me Your Hand”).

Poet Rachel Hegarty reciting from her work on the bombing (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Closeup of Cormac Breatnach on high whistle playing at event (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Eoin Dillon playing uileann pipes at event (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Fuller shot of Cormac Breatnach playing at event with Eoin Dillon out of shot to the left (Photo: D.Breatnach)

The Shillelagh North Ukulele Group played and sang The Sound of Silence and Things (we used to do), both appropriate in metaphorical context, the first for the official silence about the perpetrators and their British intelligence organisation, the second about the loss of the victims and to their loved ones.

Dublin City Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy, of the Green Party, spoke about the atrocity and criticised the closing of the Garda investigation a mere four months after the bombing.9

Vincent Browne giving his oration (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Well-known journalist and former TV presenter Vincent Browne gave the oration at the event and went into horrific detail on some of the injuries he had witnessed as a journalist at the scene with his doctor brother as they struggled to help the victims still alive.

Browne departed from the subject of the bombing, as a few had done to speak of the long war and the Good Friday Agreement but in his case also to accuse the Provisional IRA of having killed most of the people during the 30 Years War which seemed not appropriate on this occasion.

Seán Conlon, Cathaoirleach (Chair) of Monaghan Council10 spoke of the bombing and focused on the effect on his town. He also condemned the early closing of the Garda investigation and the failure to pressurise the British State into releasing security papers relevant to the bombing.11

Seán Conlon, Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Council, speaking with part of monument visible to his left (Photo: D.Breatnach)

A number of speakers referred optimistically to the investigation into the Glenanne Gang by former English police chief Jon Boucher, who was present in the crowd at the commemoration. Boucher is heading a number of other historical investigations, including that of Stakeknife.12

The older age profile of the attendance was noticeable with only two teenagers visible and this in itself must be of concern.


The failure to investigate the earlier Loyalist bombings and apprehend the perpetrators made the planning and execution of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings much easier. The early closing of the Garda investigation of the 1974 bombings ensured the perpetrators would run free.

As well as failing relatives and friends of those murdered and injured in Dublin on the 17th May 1974, the lack of pursuit had repercussions for many other victims of Loyalist murder squads, in particular the over 120 victims of the Glenanne Gang, including the Miami Band Massacre in 1975.

An aspect not normally commented upon was the choice of predominantly working class areas for Dublin massacre victims. It was not the high-end Henry or Grafton Streets that were chosen but the more working-class shopping areas of Talbot Street and Parnell Street.

The fatal Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 had also been directed at workers by location: three public transport workers and an airport worker.

Section of the Shillelagh Ukulele Group playing and singing at the event (Photo: D.Breatnach)


The whole chain of events from the first Loyalist bombing of Dublin points quite clearly to the client nature of the Irish national bourgeoisie, the ruling class of the Irish State. Even if it wanted to, it is too weak to make strong demands of the British State.

What self-respecting national ruling class would allow a foreign power to send terrorists to bomb its capital city? And then collude with that power in drawing silence and secrecy over the atrocity?

None, of course. But the Irish bourgeoisie came into being in a truncated client state and, armed and equipped by its master, went to war for two years (1922-1923) against the very national liberation forces that had brought the British State with offered concessions to the negotiation table.13

To talk of uniting Ireland under such a class, apart from being impractical nonsense, is a travesty. To expect any real change by electing a party or combination of parties to government in such a situation is a pipe-dream.

The 1974 bombing, the subsequent investigation and the record of Irish governments since in relation to the bombing are together a stark illustration of the spineless nature of the Irish bourgeoisie when dealing with their masters.

A client ruling class yes but more accurately, a servant.14


Section of the crowd in attendance viewed from the north-east of the location (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Section of the crowd with the tower of Connolly (formerly Amiens Street) Station in the background. During the British suppression of the 1916 Rising, British Army machine-gun fire was directed from there along Talbot Street towards the General Post Office garrison and North Earl and Henry Streets. (Photo: D.Breatnach)


1There was originally a plaque at the Garden of Remembrance and the Talbot Street monument was erected in 1977 after campaigning by relatives and victims. There is also a monument in Monaghan Town. In Dublin there s also a plaque at the site of another explosion that killed people in Parnell Street.

2Now the Police Service of Northern Ireland, formerly the Royal Ulster Constabulary (and before that, up until 1921, the Royal Irish Constabulary, when the whole of Ireland was under direct British rule).

3In particular the Ulster Defence Regiment, which had recruited from the part-time RUC B-Specials when the latter were disbanded but also special units such as the MRF in special operations and more generally across the whole of the occupation forces.

4Irish State police force.

5When the Irish State and colony statelet were created in 1921, the colonial gendarmerie of the Royal Irish Constabulary in the colony became the Royal Ulster Constabulary. In more recent years the force has change its name to the Police Force of Northern Ireland.

6The body of the monument to the Anglican leader of the United Irishmen was destroyed but the head was salvageable and rests on the re-cast body of the monument today.

7The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has dubbed that Court “a sentencing tribunal” but every party in government since has upheld those repressive provisions and Sinn Féin has abandoned its decades of opposition to them as it prepares to enter government in coalition with one party or another.

8Having a Garda Commissioner who was or became a British Intelligence agent might be shocking until we remind ourselves that the current Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, coming from being Assistant Commissioner of the PSNI, was at least formerly part of MI5 operations in the colony and that must have been known to those who appointed him!

9Mayors of Dublin City are selected for one year from among the elected councillors. It is more of a ceremonial role than an executive one and the choice is usually negotiated in turn from among the represented political parties.

10As above with Cathaoirligh of Monaghan Council.

11A number commented that his contribution was so much better in every way than that of last year’s Monaghan Cathaoirleach. Conlon is a member of the Sinn Féin party and some may say his posture would therefore be expected. However, given changes in the party’s public position on many questions in recent years, a hard stand against the British administration no longer seems natural for this party’s public representatives.

12Operation Kenova.

13Irish Civil War (or as some see it, the Irish Counterrevolution) 1922-1923.

14It should be noted that the Gombeen class has also been a client in turn of US Imperialism and of EU Imperialism, with all of which it aligns itself on most questions of international policy and to which it opens up its markets, natural resources and infrastructure networks.


Justice For the Forgotten:,single%20day%20of%20the%20Troubles.

The anniversary event:
Ed Garvey, former Chief Commissioner of the Garda and British Intelligence asset (interestingly there is no Wikipedia page on this man, nor is his creation of the infamous Garda ‘Heavy Gang’ or his British Intelligence work mentioned by Ferriter):

Earlier Loyalist bombings in the Irish State:

Lethal AlliesBritish collusion in Ireland (2015), Ann Cadwaller:

The Glenanne Gang:

Barron Report:

Jon Boucher investigation:


Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 2 mins.)

The May issue of this newspaper has been out for some weeks and the organisers did well to manage that in the midst of disruptive arrests of their housing activists and raids and arrests following their Easter Rising Commemoration1.

As before, this issue consists of sixteen A4 sides, therefore easy enough to handle and contains what seems the right mixture between short event reports and news items, along with a couple of analytical pieces, one on ‘workerism’ and a thought-provoking other on peat-cutting and energy.

A two-page spread on James Connolly and the Irish Republic quotes extensively from Connolly but without giving any references. This can be an issue since a number of statements commonly attributed to both Connolly and Lenin are lacking in substantial (or even any) verification2.

This edition discusses issues and events in Ireland but also internationally. Reports from the agrarian revolutionary movements in parts of India and in the Phillipines are featured – a list of attacks and casualties inflicted upon the oppressors’ forces.

Another piece marks the death of Palestinian activist Adnan Khader on the 76th day of his hunger strike protest against Israeli ‘administrative detention’ – internment in fact. The mass struggles in France against the raising of the retirement age are also featured.

For Ireland there are reports on the housing struggle, against police repression in the Six Counties, historical commemorations, poster and graffiti campaigns, a sectarian attack in Lurgan and another article deals with mental health issues and the shortage of services in Tipperary.

As commented in an earlier review of this newspaper, the Irish revolutionary movement has long needed a hard-copy revolutionary newspaper. As Lenin commented3, the revolutionary newspaper is an organiser as it requires production and distribution.

Of course, distribution networks for a newspaper can become action-organising networks also but in any case meeting a person to give them a newspaper is a personal contact, when questions and criticisms can be discussed and other information from the community collected to act upon.

This form of contact for the individual is superior to those available on the Internet and also less easy for the State to monitor. A newspaper can also go from hand to hand in a way that only short pieces or videos can compare with in electronic distribution.

Though of course, the latter also has its strengths.

Future editions of APA are to be welcomed and in the fullness of time perhaps we can even graduate to a weekly revolutionary Irish socialist newspaper, not seen here for decades.


An Phoblacht Abú is available from personal contact with AIA or by post from


1. See Although the raid may well have been intended to disrupt plans for protests against US Imperialism’s chief, Joe Biden’s visit to Ireland, a socialist Republican still faces concocted charges relating to membership of an imaginary “illegal organisation”. Under special repressive legislation such a charge without credible evidence has been sufficient, in the no-jury Special Criminal Courts, to jail Republicans for two years.

2 For example, I have searched diligently for the description of the Irish Citizen Army attributed to Lenin, viz. “the first Red Army in Europe” but have thus far failed to find verification.

3 In What Is To Be Done?


(translator D.Breatnach note: CUP = United People’s Candidature)

(Reading time: 4 mins.)

The head of the CUP-Alternativa candidate list for Barcelona, Basha Changue, declared this Saturday that, after “four years out of the City Council”, but “fighting from the streets”, they will return to the assembly on May 28.

They intend to “retake their place” and to “combat the lukewarm policies” developed, in her opinion, by the (regional Catalan) government of Colau.

Once inside, says Changue, anyone who seeks their support (trans. note: e.g for a coalition) will have to be in favour of “a Barcelona committed to national and linguistic rights”, for the “decrease in tourism” and the “radical defence of housing”.

“Gentlemen and Ladies Maragall, Trias, Colau and Collboni, there are no half measures: it is the capital or the neighboring ones”, she declared.

Her voice was heard by dozens of people in Barcelona’s Can Fabra square, in the Sant Andreu district, in the central act of the campaign for the municipal elections on the 28th.

Carles Riera, the Deputy in the Catalan Regional Parliament has indicated that “the only candidature for independence in the Catalan Countries is the CUP” and that “they will return to the Barcelona City Council to combat big capital and the bosses’ agenda”.

“Junts (trans. note: Puigdemont’s party) has renounced the independence movement in its program: it wants to go back to being Convergència i Unió” (Convergence and Unity, right-wing Catalan nationalist party preceding formation of Junts – trans. note) — Carles Riera.

Riera was combative, encouraging the public to mobilize for a “vote to confront the State, the vote that does them the most damage.”

He also accused the parties Junts per Catalunya and ERC, “which are the construction force”, those behind the “macro-projects that carve up the territory” – citing the Winter Olympic Games, the Quart Cinturó, the expansion of the airport and the tourist complex of the Hard Rock.

04/2023 – The leader of the CUP for Barcelona, Basha Changue.

Basha Changue: “Barcelona is designed to be projected as set for Instagram, not for those who live in it.”

She added that they already understood “why Junts has renounced the independence movement in its program: it wants to go back to being Convergència i Unió and wants to put the town halls at the service of big capital in exchange for power.”


Deputy in Congress Mireia Vehí pointed out that they are “the alternative to the model that replaces the public with the private, that stands up to the Trias of the red carpet and the Collboni of the shop window”.

Referring to the voters who are dissatisfied with the pro-independence parties, she assured that “free Catalan Countries are also made from municipalism” and that “voting for the CUP is a vote of pride and revolt”.

The CUP wants to guarantee its presence in plenary session and reverse the results of most of the polls that leave them out of the assembly.


The CUP candidate in Barcelona, Basha Changue; Member of Congress Mireia Vehí and Member of Parliament Carles Riera, Barcelona, 05/20/2023— Jordi Pujolar / Marta Vidal / ACN

Changue stated that the CUP are made “invisible” because those in power are “afraid”.

The candidate added that the transformation of Barcelona “will not be possible as long as those in power continue to open the doors of the institutions to fascism and whitewash their speeches in the town halls and in the parliaments”.

Along the same lines, the number two on the list in Barcelona, Jordi Estivill, has emphasised that there is “a strategy” to silence them, but that they will respond “with more determination and a vote of punishment, which will bring miseries to the centre”.

04/25/2023 – The Deputy in Catalan regional Parliament Laia Estrada and the mayor of Sant Boi, Jordi Barbero, in the presentation of the CUP campaign for the municipal elections.

The event in the Can Fabra square, where the number three in Barcelona, Adriana Llena, and the mayor of the CUP in Sant Cugat del Vallès, Marco Simarro, have also appeared, took place simultaneously to another act of the CUP in Palma.

Parliamentary Deputy Eulàlia Reguant made it clear: “We are at a turning point. We are going all out. We are in San Andreu and Palma because the CUP has faith and we are Països Catalans.” (the Catalan Countries’, which includes Valencia, Balearic Islands along with Pau in the French state – trans. note).


Translator: The nominally pro-independence Catalan parties in the regional part-autonomous Catalan Parliament include ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) which is currently in government; Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), a varied coalition to which Puigdemont belongs, formerly more militant than the ERC); along with the CUP, a more left-wing coalition which has voted for independence motions but declined to join with ERC in coalition or with the previous Junts/ ERC ruling coalition.

After the vote for independence in the 2017 Referendum and Spanish police attack on the voters, it was Puigdemont as previous President of the Parliament that declared Catalan independence but almost immediately suspended it, to great Catalan confusion.

Apparently this was on a promise of support from within the EU which was reneged upon and Puigdemont has since declared his regret for the suspension.

Subsequently the Spanish State tried and jailed a number of ERC and Junts Members of Parliament and officials of the Catalan Government while others, including Puigdemont and a CUP leader, went into exile in the EU and UK.

The Spanish State unsuccessfully tried to extradite them to face charges of “rebellion and fraud”.

Hundreds of Catalans, including municipal officials, elected representatives and protesters face Spanish state charges and possible jail arising from those days of mobilising for independence and in protest at police repression.


Original article: La CUP se proclama “la única candidatura independentista” y se muestra convencida de volver al Ayuntamiento de Barcelona | Público (


Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: mins.)

While the Gardaí face accusations of treating far-Right violence too lightly, the State plans to increase the maximum sentence for assault on members of the force to 12 years in jail, nearly double the current maximum of seven years.1

Minister for Justice Simon Harris was seeking approval today for the increase as amendments to the Criminal Justice (Miscelaneous Provisions) Bill which has passed all stages in the Irish Parliament and is now going through the Seanad.

Irish Government Minister for Justice, Simon Harris (Photo sourced: Internet)

The increase in maximum sentence lumps emergency services such as paramedics and firefighters with State repressive forces of police, prison officers and armed forces.

This is a disguising measure since forces of repression are not the same as those of emergency services, even if in the event of a disaster all may be employed together. The State expects increased resistance from working people and therefore feels a need for increased repression.

According to some media reports there have been complaints that the Gardaí have been failing to respond adequately to crimes committed by fascists and other far-Rightists, including threatening behaviour and arson.2

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, former British colonial police (PSNI) Assistant Commissioner3 responded that getting tough with the far-Right would be playing into their hands and that the Garda response is measured appropriately.

One must wonder how permitting threats of violence, acts of assault and arson against refugees and their supporters can be considered appropriately measured from any viewpoint other than that of the perpetrators.

Much harder Garda responses have been seen through the years to striking workers, water-meter and housing protesters, Irish Republican events and – yes – antifascist counter-protests against fascists and other far-Rightists.

Not giving the fascists the confrontation they’re allegedly looking for might disappoint some of them but on the other hand many will be encouraged and get to feel that they can do more or less what they like without repercussions from the Gardaí.

According to Saturday’s Irish Times, some of the criticism of Garda tolerance of far-Right crimes comes from confidential sources within the force itself.

The discourse that policing these protests is ‘complex’ is a distraction from the fact that vulnerable people who are harming no-one are entitled to live without fear of violence to their person or to their meagre belongings, about which there is nothing ‘complex’ at all.

Having to live on the street due to the failings of the State is bad enough without being subjected to additional threats.

On a number of occasions Gardaí have attacked and threatened antifascists confronting the far-Right, revealing where the general sympathies of the State lie, despite condemnations of the far-Right by Government Ministers, politicians and the Garda Commissioner.

Garda not going lightly here but then it’s directed at ANTI-fascists counter-protesting Irish Yellow Vests on Custom House Quay, after they were attacked by fascists armed with metal and wooden clubs, many disguised as flags (note the captured Tricolour) 22 August 2020.(Photo: Rebel Breeze)
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (Photo sourced: Internet)

Historically, capitalism has turned to fascism to suppress the resistance of the working class to being made to pay for crises in the system. And fascists have often enough been found within the police force themselves.

Indeed, in Ireland it was the ex-Commissioner of the police, Eoin O’Duffy, who led the fascist Blueshirts, while the religous sectarian, racist and murderous nature of the colonial police in the Six Counties is a long established fact.

The police are the first physical force agency of the State and the armed forces its second. Increasing the penalty for assaults on these means the State is anticipating an increase of assault charges in days to come, quite probably as people defend themselves from police attack.

In fact, it is well known that if the police assault people, they regularly charge their victims with assault, so that the police can explain the injuries of their victims as inflicted in ‘self-defence’ or in measures taken against a person ‘resisting arrest’.



1Sentences for assaults on gardaí to rise, Irish Times, 23 May 2023.


3Far right ‘not growing’ says Garda Commissioner, Conor Lally, Irish Times 23 May 2023.

SOURCES,Minister%20for%20Justice%20Simon%20Harris. Irish Times, 23 May 2023., Conor Lally, Irish Times, 20 May 2023.

No Irish Need Apply to British Communist Party History

I have been sent this article from The Morning Star, newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, a reprint from The People’s World, like-minded newspaper from the USA.

The article is about the removal by right-wingers in the USA of a marker commemorating worker organiser, women’s suffrage campaigner, anti-racist and anti-fascist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn in her home town of Concord, Massachusetts, USA.

An omission in the article, which the Morning Star chose not to correct, is the Irish background of the article’s subject, class fighter Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Is this important? It certainly was to the subject herself who, in her biography, emphasised her Irish background.

Cover of her biography (Source photo: Internet)

She wrote of the importance to her of claiming both Irish family names in her ancestry and always used them both: Gurley and Flynn. But in particular for the CPGB, operating in a state that is oppressing Ireland, it should be of importance how Irish people are represented.

Especially in a culture with a deep and long streak of anti-Irish racism.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn speaking at a mass meeting in the USA (Source photo: Internet)

The CPGB never supported the armed struggle by Irish people against its masters nor stood up for the defence of the Irish diaspora in Britain, subject to racism in the media, to police persecution and to judicial and legal racism in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

This is despite the enormous contribution of the Irish diaspora to the trade union and socialist movement in Britain in shop stewards, activists and leaders.

International Workers of the World (‘Wobblies) organisers: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (centre) next to Big Bill Haywood (right). (Source photo: Internet)

With Bronterre O’Brien and Fergus O’Connor, the Irish diaspora gave the British working class two leaders of the first mass movement of workers in Britain, the Chartists. The anthem of the class, The Red Flag, was composed by Jim Connell from Co. Meath (though they used the wrong air).

And the classic novel of the class, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, was penned by Robert Tressel, pen-name of Robert Noonan, born and reared in Dublin.

The CPGB in fact has a long association with British colonialism and its very title is an indication of that.


Left: Famous photo of Gurley Flynn as a public speaker. Right: The marker in her hometown now removed by right-wingers there. (Photo sourced: Internet)


The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1906-1926). New York: International Publishers, 1973. 

A Basque Town Remembers Its Bombing by Fascists

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 3 mins.)

On 26 April 1937, the Basque town of Gernika was bombed during the Spanish Anti-Fascist/ Civil War on the orders of leaders of the military-fascist coup against the elected Government of the Second Spanish Republic. 

The townspeople remember this in an annual candlelit procession.

In the foreground, panels in Gernika with contemporary photos of the bombing destruction; in the background the stage in front of the Kultur Etxea (the Culture Building) with performance. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Wikipedia gives the numbers of dead as between 150 and 1,650, a huge variance reflecting the politicisation of the historical event very much still in the present.1 The military-fascists were the victors and a four-decade fascist dictatorship ensued, never overthrown but amended in the 1980s.

Another source agrees with the higher figure and points out that a third of the town’s population then of 5,000 inhabitants, were either killed or injured.2

A tradition has grown to mark the bombing with the sounding of a siren at 4pm, the time when the bombing began. The siren sounded this year is a survivor from the Astra handgun factory of the time which strangely, was recently discovered in Catalonia and returned to the town Council.

In the evening, outdoors theatre presentations are held and the town centre is circled in procession by people carrying lit candles, led by a group carrying a giant Basque flag. I was fortunate (and honoured) to be invited by a Basque friend this year to participate in both events.

Four young women ballet dance as part of the performance. (Photo: D.Breatnach)


The actual bombing was carried out by external fascist allies, the Nazi German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion and the Fascist Italian Aviazione Legionaria, under the code-name “Operation Rügen”. It was one of theearliest cases of the mass-bombing by air planes of an urban population.3

It has remained infamous for that reason but also because the Catalan artist Pablo Picasso made a famous painting about the atrocity, though he called it by the Spanish-language name for the town: “Guernica”. Planes also carried out strafing runs over fleeing civilians, shooting them down.

Gernika bombing panel.

As has become a regular facet of fascism, the military-fascists lied, denying culpability. In a more specific kind of fascist lying, they tried to blame the damage on arson by their opponents, i.e by antifascists. An English journalist reporting on the war for the London Times went to investigate.

He was George Steer and provided evidence from bomb fragments and eye-witnesses that the bombing was by fascist planes.

Gernika bombing panel.

Despite the known active support of the fascist countries for the military uprising, the western powers promoted ‘non-intervention’, even blockading assistance to the embattled Republic. The Soviet Union and socialist Mexico were the Republic’s only external allies.

Historians since have argued about whether there was a straightforward military rationale for the bombing or whether it was a question of terrorising the Basque people. It is undeniable that the 26th was a market day and that Gernika was of particular national historical importance to the Basques.

Gernika bombing panel.

Gernika is in the Basque province of Bizkaia, which had joined in with the Second Spanish Republic in opposition to the military-fascist coup attempt, as had Gipuzkoa and Alava provinces – the latter however was taken quite early by fascists.

The remaining Basque province inside the Spanish State (there are another three inside the French state) was Nafarroa (Navarre) where the national Carlist movement was reactionary and joined the fascists, their militias murdering around 1,000 Nafarroan Republicans and Socialists.

Gernika bombing panel.

The military-fascist uprising, supplied hugely with armaments, transport and personnel supplies overwhelmed the isolated Second Republic and all the areas that had stood by the Republic were placed under military occupation, followed by the worst repression of all.

Gernika and surrounding areas were occupied by Spanish, Italian and German troops and the whole Spanish state, after April 1939, entered four decades of dictatorship under General Franco. After a while, resistance broke out in strikes and in armed guerrilla struggle.

Gernika Bombing panel.

But to commemorate the bombing of Gernika in a broad appropriate and popular act only became possible some years after the death of Franco in 1975.


In addition to the public performance of theatre, dance and music, the people bring candles or collect them let and walk in procession around the town, led by a group holding a spread giant Ikurrina (Basque flag).

Small section of the audience. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
The audience become part of the performance as they collect candles to begin the procession around the town. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Section of the parade near the start of the procession. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
These young women stood there with lit candles at the beginning of the procession, perhaps signifying renewal. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

People in various parts of the Spanish State had been pushing for recovering historical memory, commemoration of events and disinterment of mass graves, whether secretly or in the open. In 2017 a number of groups working in historical memory got together in the Gernika Lumo area.

Their intention was to coordinate their efforts so that Gernika would become a focus for considering aspects of justice and peace, not just in the Basque Country but internationally. Among their objectives was the relocation of Picasso’s “Guernica” painting to Gernika itself.4

While the current annual commemoration then has been developing for only five years, work has been going on by constituent groups and others for years before that and, of course, the inspirational events occurred 86 years ago in what some consider the opening stages of WW2.

These commemorative events would be of great importance in any conceivable period but are more so in the current one of the rise once more of fascism across the world.


Unfolding the giant Basque flag. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Half-way around the town centre. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
A male dancer in traditional costume performs the honour dance, the ‘aurresku’, caught here in one of the high kicks that are part of the dance. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
The female dancer in traditional costume also dances the aurresku but not caught performing the high kick here. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Some of the candles returned after the procession. (Photo: D.Breatnach)


1“But, based on the testimony of medical personnel in Guernica on the day and in nearby hospitals that received casualties, the Basque government estimated that 1,645 people were killed and a further 889 injured in the attack.”


3It is often quoted as the first such case but it wasn’t: On 29 March 1936, Italian Fascist planes bombed the Ethiopian city of Harar. Seeing Gernika as the first may represent a Eurocentric viewpoint. Coincidentally, journalist George Steer covered that war also.

4The painting is permanently on exhibition in Madrid, 422 km. away.


Link commemoration committee: ​​​​


Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 5 mins.)

Refugees living in tents on streets in Dublin were targeted last week by fascists and antifascists have confronted the latter in defence. Shelters of refugees have been torched.

There’s been some anti-immigrant discourse in Ireland, especially promoted by fascists and racists for a few years but it really took off during the Government’s handling of the Ukrainian refugee influx.

The Irish Government for pro-NATO reasons prioritised these over other refugees, also placing the Ukrainians in empty buildings in working class areas already low on social infrastructure and without consultation with the local community, some of whom reacted angrily.

The Irish Government handed the fascists and other racists a great opportunity and they grasped it.

After that issue had died down a bit, the fascists were looking for something to take its place and found it again in other refugees, this time those who were NOT being housed by the Government and were instead living in tents on streets around the IPO office in Mount Street.

Refugee tents near the International Protection Office (left of photo) in Dublin recently (credit Sasko

The International Protection Office was supposed to organise to provide for the basic needs of refugees – in fact are legally obliged to – while their cases were being processed and had been failing to do so, hence the people it had failed living in tents around the area.


The refugees got some sympathetic coverage in articles in the Cork Examiner and Irish Times1. Perhaps it was this that stirred up well-known fascist Phillip Dwyer (known hater of women, migrants, LGBT and Muslims) to go and attack those people living on the street.

On Thursday 11th Dwyer turned up with his “security” people, i.e fascist goons, thinking to run the refugees out of there and perhaps do worse. But he was met with resistance including some people helping the refugees, two of the goons got hurt and they backed off.

According to a statement on Revolutionary Housing Action’s Twitter account, one of the defenders was ambushed when he went to collect his bike and while fighting them off, they threw a bike at him. Dwyer and his fascist hounds promised to be back.

Streetlink homeless service stated that on Friday, they were threatened and their outreach van pummelled while they packed refugee belongings and then boxed in so they had to suspend their outreach service for that evening, handing on outreach contacts to other services.

On Friday 12th Dwyer was back with a larger mob but met by a broad group of antifascists, including RHL, AIA, PBP, CATU, CYM, DCAR and independent antifascist activists2 (AIA statement onTwitter, Saturday 13 May). Dublin Republicans Against Fascism were there too.

Section of antifascists in the foreground on Friday, police in the middle distance and fascists and the curious beyond. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

The violence against persons was now turned on the pitiful shelters and belongings which, on Friday night were set on fire.

On Saturday 13th, the fascist Irish Freedom Party held their rally on Custom House Quay against hate speech legislation being considered by the Government. From there they marched, not against the Government but against the homeless refugees.

According to local sources, the fascists distributed leaflets asking people to be electoral candidates and promising to help the inexperienced.

What was the connection between a protest allegedly about ‘free speech’ and a march on homeless refugees? Absolutely none, except the standard fascist agenda of targeting minorities to divide the working people and scream about free speech while using violence against their targets.

But in a cunning move, the NP who have never helped any area, were there afterwards cleaning up the area and placing flowerpots there.

Meanwhile, on Thursday night, the Revolutionary Housing League stated that they had opened one of the many empty buildings in Dublin to house the targeted refugees. The RHL have been opening up empty buildings for over a year now and encouraging others to do so.

Subsequently, Leo Varadkar, of the very Government that set up the conditions for this to happen, declared how unacceptable the attack on the refugees was. And following strong criticism from the Refugee Council, the State suddenly found it could house most of the refugees.

If true, hopefully good for those refugees but the fascists will now bleat about how “foreigners are getting treated better than the Irish” to the gullible and, also among themselves, be commenting that violence brings results.

The fascists have been stirring up local community fears with allegations that some of the refugees are paedophiles on the run from justice in their own countries, for which there is not a shred of evidence.

Ironically, while they attacked LGBT people as “paedophiles” some of the far-right have for decades been defending the Catholic Church hierarchy in Ireland from criticism and accusations of abuse of children and women in their institutions.

Lies spill from fascist lips as a matter of course: “immigrants are rapists and paedophiles, LGBT people are paedophiles, migrants are rapists, migrants are being treated better than the natives, the whites are being replaced by people of colour, muslims are taking over”, etc, etc.


The Gardaí, including the Public Order Unit, stood between the antifascists and the fascist-led mob on Friday, then kettled the antifascists for awhile, then followed the antifascist contingent up Pearse Street with fascists tailing along. When the antifascists dispersed, some of them were attacked.

The Irish Times on Monday 15th reported on a complaint from the Garda Representative Association that they are unable to police these events, don’t know about refugees, need training, etc.3

What is there to know? Refugees are as entitled as anyone else to be kept free from violence and the Gardaí could have arrested a number of fascists, had they wanted to, under the Public Order Act, which they regularly use against left-wing protests.

In September 2020, when unarmed antifascists went to counter-protest a Yellow Vest4 rally against masking5 and were attacked by masked (!) thugs recruited by the National Party with wooden and metal clubs, the POU understood enough to draw batons and attack – the antifascists!

Scene on Butt Bridge in September 2020 after armed fascists had attacked the unarmed counter-protesters at Custom House Quay and then the Public Order Unit had attacked them also, pushing them back off the Quay with raised batons, threatening to strike. (Photo: Dublin Republicans Against Fascism)

The following week, the Gardaí allowed NP fascists in Kildare Street to jostle and threaten a handful of LGBT campaigners and to club one of them to the ground. The Gardaí then ordered the woman, blood streaming from her head, to leave.

On both occasions the Garda press office issued statements saying that there had been no serious incidents. But the videos of the woman being assaulted and then ordered away went wide on social media and within a few hours, the Gardaí had changed their story.

In September 2020, longtime fascist and member of the National Party Michael Quinn (left, carrying wooden club disguised as Irish Tricolour flag) attacked veteran LGBT campaigner Izzy Kamikaze while she observed fascists in Kildare Street. The Gardaí forced Izzy to leave and later told the media nothing of any note had occurred, later having to change their press statement after the circulation of video footage. Quinn was later convicted of the attack and jailed for two years. (Images sourced: Internet).

However, it was ‘up to the victim’ whether she made a complaint (for an armed attack in a public place seen on video?)! She did, and eventually the particular assailant, Michael Quinn of the NP, was jailed for two years.6 But for Gardaí collusion with fascists and lying to the press? Nothing.


Given the wars instigated by US/NATO and EU around the world and deprivation by foreign exploitation of people’s natural resources, refugees and other migrants will continue coming to Europe, including Ireland.

The fascists will continue to target minorities and wave their fake patriotism and social concern while they recruit for their parties, diverting attention from the housing profiteers and the facilitating ruling class while they strive to drive wedges into the working people.

The local working class residents, for example in the block of flats overseeing the site of the conflict, will gain nothing except an undeserved bad reputation for what happened in their area and in which perhaps a few teenagers were opportunistically involved.

Already the recently-completed block of apartments just down the road from them is advertising one-bed apartments for 2,000 euro a month and two-beds for 3,000. None of the local working people of course will be renting those.

The cause of the housing crisis in Dublin will continue: property speculators, vulture funds and multi-unit landlords will continue to rake in profits because the Government won’t build housing for affordable rent in case it should compete with them.

Unless, that is, a real hard struggle including militant occupations and defiance of court orders is taken to them forcing a change, be it reform or revolution. This is a task for the Left which of course can never be carried out by fascists.

But hopefully many anti-fascists have learned or had reaffirmed the need for unity in a broad front against fascism and that confrontation and preparedness for physical defence against fascists is needed, while also discussing the most appropriate tactics for different situations.




2Including anarchists.


4The Irish Yellow Vests were a right-wing populist organisation, led by Ben Gilroy and Glen Miller, fascists and islamophobes.

5The rally was on Custom House Quay, scene of the NP’s rally last Saturday.

6Man who used wooden post to strike a woman during an anti-lockdown rally is jailed (


Man who used wooden post to strike a woman during an anti-lockdown rally is jailed (


Clive Sulish

(Reading time: mins.)

On Thursday evening fascist Phillip Dwyer and a number of other known fascists led a mob in threatening migrants encamped in the Mount Street/ Fenian Street/ Sandwith Street area on the north reaches of Dublin City Centre.

Dwyer, formerly of the fascist National Party and some of his cohorts had been there the previous night too but in smaller numbers, when he was met with opposition.

Migrants have for some time been camped out in that area near the International Protection Office of the Irish State which has a brief to help refugees. Those living in the tents say that little is being done in reality to help refugees and their encampment is an illustration of this.

On Thursday night Phillip Dwyer had brought a mob to at least intimidate the refugees but was faced off by antifascists. He had declared his intention to return.

On Friday in Sandwith Street, a number of people in ordinary clothes could be seen in confrontation with another group, with yellow-jacketed Gardaí and dark blue Public Order Unit between them. An Irish Tricolour and green Starry Plough waved on one side and a lone tricolour on the other.

The view some time after the arrival of fascists and supporting mob. The antifascists are where the green Starry Plough flag may be seen, in a short laneway and in a group in front of the lane’s mouth.
(Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Local people and some passers-by watched.

People who received a callout for antifascist support but arrived late experienced difficulty in getting into the antifascist sector, which was where the Tricolour and Starry Plough could be seen, due to the police line between there and the confronting mob.

It seemed that neither antifascists nor fascists would be permitted to get in this way. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

For many antifascists it was a novel experience to be facing the backs of the Public Order Unit, normally drawn out against them, often with batons drawn (none of that seen on this occasion).

The dominant chanting was from the antifascist side, mostly of “Say it Loud and Say it Clear: Refugees are welcome here”, interspersed at times with “Homes for Need, not for Greed!” and another.

Section of antifascists before moving, Gardaí further away and hostile mob further still. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Though these slogans outline socialist positions they don’t directly address what the fascists were doing and some slogans need to be developed for that, for example pointing out that the fascists are dividing working people and assisting capitalism.

It was difficult to make out what the mob were shouting but individuals at times threw accusations of paedophilia at the migrants and antifascists. This is a common lie by fascists in Ireland and there has not been a single case among this refugee group to justify the accusation.

Section of antifascists before moving, Gardaí further away and hostile mob further still. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)
Section of antifascists before moving, viewed from short laneway mouth, Gardaí further away and hostile mob further still. The new block of expensive apartments is in the left background. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

The refugees camped around there are actually causing nobody any harm, except perhaps embarrassment for the IPO and the Irish State. Journalists for the Cork Examiner and the Irish Times have both written sympathetic pieces about them recently (probably to the ire of Dwyer).

The area includes working-class flats complexes and higher-market-end housing, including a newly-completed block nearby where the rents are reportedly 2,000 euro a month for one-bedroom-units and 3,000 per month for two bedrooms.

And it is said that some low-rent units were promised but never delivered.

Of course, the Fascists and their followers don’t mobilise against that problem, caused by failure of the State to supply quality affordable housing units lest they compete with the property speculators, big landlords and financiers, although that would make general housing sense.

Fascists are an arm of the capitalist class, not its enemy and for their followers, it’s infinitely easier to pick on vulnerable refugees and other migrants than the rich and their State.

Antifascists kettled by Gardaí after agreement to move. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Some investigation carried out locally ascertained that although some local people were being fooled by the far-Right discourse, others blamed the Government. Some also said that a lot of the anti-refugee crowd were just in it for the fight and were not even locals.

However one should not underestimate the potential for fascists to mobilise disadvantaged people to split the working people as fascism and racism has done in the past.

Rear section of antifascists after kettling by Gardaí. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

A light moment occurred when one of the mob threw a plastic water bottle at the antifascists. As the missile arced towards them, a hand rose out of the crowd and caught the bottle in the air, followed by applause, congratulatory for the catcher and derisory at the thrower.

Since the refugees had been moved earlier there seemed little reason for the anti-fascists to remain except to shout slogans at the opposition and perhaps to deny them a feeling of victory. However, they would have to leave at some point.

A couple of individuals who seemed to be in some kind of leadership role began to discuss with the police their desire for everyone to leave together. At last, to the relief of many, the crowd began to move in the direction of Pearse Street. But not for long, as they were stopped by some POU.

The antifascists were now strung out along the pavement and much more vulnerable than they had been in their previous position in the small lane entrance. Police vans moved up, ostensibly for protection but the actual result was the kettling of the antifascists for a while.

Dissatisfaction was expressed among the crowd – a lot!

The Gardaí might present it as a protective measure but in effect it was part of the kettling of the antifascists for a period after agreement to leave. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Eventually they began to move again, and a local elderly man wished the antifascists well and “safe home”. One of the antifascists was heard to reply: “Thank you; go raibh maith agat!”

The route was through a narrow passage under a railway bridge and on to Pearse Street, heading for Tara Street but strung out and not at all in good defensive form, with members of the mob regularly screaming hatred at them from a metre or two away.

The temptation to knock out one individual nearby who was spitting at antifascists was strong but apart from the danger of arrest, that might have sparked a general assault with the whole group exposed and badly strung out along the pavement.

It is clear that the fascist and far-right threat which was so much in evidence during the Covid Lockdown and which received a couple of important setbacks since has not disappeared and the National Party has planned a rally for Custom House Quay today.

Responses to fascist threats will need to be more widespread and probably better organised in future.

Subsequently the revolutionary Housing League issued a brief statement that they had opened up an empty building in Dublin to accommodate the displaced (again!) refugees. It was learned today that some antifascists were assaulted as their group dispersed.

Misguided people from disadvantaged working class communities the followers of the mob may be but there is no excuse for harassing and threatening vulnerable people who are living rough on the street.


Book Review: I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Come to It.  Norman X. Finkelstein.

Norman X. Finkelstein. Substation Media 2023

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh 26 April 2023

(Reading time: 9 mins.)

Norman Finkelstein has published a new book on cancel culture. It comes from a man who as he points out became a high-profile victim of one of the more modern iterations of cancel culture, that of Zionism.

The latter was unashamedly right wing and did not dress itself up in liberal or even bastardised Marxist tropes, peddled by people who should know better. 

He is perhaps, one of those with a vantage point on the issue, who deserves to be listened to.

He opens the book with an epigraph from Bertrand Russell: “I feel a real and solid pleasure when anybody points out a fallacy in any of my views, because I care much less about my opinions than about their being true.”

A statement that should be basis of all discussion is now frowned upon in a world of unassailable truths, wicked witches who should be burned at the stake, dogmas that once enunciated can never be challenged.

And whether the statement is true, matters not as it is more important how many semi-literate university graduates are offended by it that counts.  Of his own cancellation and the hypocrisy of some of those who signed the Harper’s Letter decrying cancellation he is not bothered.

This is because he contends that “Hypocrisy was rife, for sure.  But the irrefragable fact remains that “woke” politics are intellectually vacuous and politically pernicious.”  He forewarns us that the book is laced with vitriol… because so much of “woke” culture deserves contempt.”

But that “a large amount of space is devoted to dissecting this nonsense… because it’s not immediately obvious why it’s nonsense.”  This Foreword alone entices the reader to delve deeper into its pages and the plea from Tariq Ali for him not to throw a tantrum makes it all the better.

Cancel culture as Finkelstein points out is not new. 

He gives a short list of some of his heroes who were cancelled at one point or another, Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson, Lee Hayes and even Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and even Chomsky were cancelled and reviled in their day.

Pete Seeger, veteran folk singer, folk song collector and political activist, was among victims of cancel culture in his day. (Photo sourced: Internet)

Yes and by the same newspapers, journals and political quarters that are now to the fore in cancelling one and all and in some cases, those involved in the cancelling now decry the cancel culture that affects them.

He divides the book into two parts, one dealing with woke politics and the other with academic freedom, though they are not separate and there is some overlap, even in the book. 

In the first part he looks at some of the figures of woke politics, those who make the case for identity politics in particular.  Some of the people he looks at, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ibram X Kendi, are well known in the US but not so much outside of it. 

He eviscerates them rather well describing Kendi’s writing as being “as supple as a calcified femur and as subtle as an oversized mallet”.  Obama is of course, well known, though his politics are modern in how they are sold. 

Obama is all about style over substance, partly because the substance is not new, he represented no great change in US society, though that is not the image he sought to portray.  His message was vacuous, Yes we can, and Finkelstein asks the question, can what?

And gives the very direct and truthful answer “Yes we can, elect me”.  Obama is shredded in the book, his famed oratory derided for what it is, speeches that were written by an all-white team of writers, despite Obama’s identitarian claims.

A parsing of Obama’s public addresses reveals a relentless concatenation of the most vapid, sententious, shoeworn, fatuous, hollow, saccharine clichés—a cornucopia of the commonplace—without a single clever phrase, metaphor or aperçu to redeem or relieve them, interlarded with oleaginous homilies to humility before God.

That does not mean that his speeches and politics are devoid of consequences.  Obama epitomises the reality of identity politics.  It is another con job.  For all his blackness Obama did very little for blacks in terms of socio-economic advancement. 

Not even in terms of a relatively simple issue, police violence against blacks.  In one of the first rows in his presidency on the issue, he backed down and instead of taking action invited the policeman and his victim for a beer. 

Identity politics is waived about, not to solve any problems but to divide.  Finkelstein asks whether it advances causes or provokes their retreat.

The objective of politics, Mao Tse-Tung famously exhorted, was to “unite the many to defeat the few.”  Whereas, identity politics divides the many so as to, designedly or not, enable the few. 

It conjures a hierarchy of oppressions, in which each group vies with the others for the position of most oppressed— Kimberlé Crenshaw says Black women are most oppressed, Angela Davis says it’s transgender people, Ibram X. Kendi says it’s poor transgender Black women. 

The victors in this inverted Oppression Sweepstakes, where you win by being the biggest loser, get to leap to the head of the queue as most worthy of preferential treatment, while, simultaneously, fomenting new resentments among those shoved further and further behind…

This, in effect, performance politics has spawned a disgusting den of thieves who brand themselves with radical-sounding hashtags, churn out radical-sounding tweets, and insinuate themselves into positions of prominence, as they rake in corporate donations and cash corporate paychecks.

Theyhang out at the watering holes of the rich and famous, and thence can be safely relied upon not to bite the hand that feeds them.  In a word, identity politics is a business—in the case of Black Lives Matter “leaders,” a most lucrative and dirty business.

Cancel culture is about silencing voices other than those sticking their snout in the trough and their grubby hands in the greasy till, a point he is right about, not just in the US but around the world. 

Finkelstein found himself cancelled, though not silenced, as he points out, because his views go beyond the grimy quest for self-aggrandisement and enrichment.  Identity politics is utterly reactionary. 

He contrasts the fumbling for pennies and the endless categories of oppressions with an historical figure that our perpetually offended money grabbers in search of the latest shakedown could never match: Rosa Luxemburg.

My mind drifts back further still to Rosa Luxemburq, this exotic creation of a lost epoch: Polish, Jewish, bourgeois, handicapped, female—

Rosa didn’t wallow in or capitalize on her “intersectionality” but, on the contrary, triumphed over it as she became the brilliant, impassioned (and then martyred) revolutionary leader of the German workinq class;

A class which—be it noted as a robust class rejoinder to claustrophobic identity politics —fervently embraced this Polish-Jewish-bourgeois handicapped-female as one of their own.

And that is exactly the point. Luxemburg is a real hero, many of the heroes of the woke do not measure up to their own standards, not even Frederick Douglass, who had a very poor opinion of native Americans, a fact overlooked by modern day identitarians. 

Though many don’t have a positive opinion of native American themselves.  Douglass however, is despite this a towering admirable figure in history, not one that should be cancelled, a hobby now of every spoilt ignorant brat that mammy and daddy got into an overrated expensive university. 

And though it is only a matter of time before some hippy in Berlin decides to reinvent Luxemburg as intersectional, she was not and had no time for the woke equivalents of the day.

Academic freedom is the other area of concern for Finkelstein, conformity, banal ideas and salivating over money is not limited to our woke warriors in the press, NGOs and politics but in academia.  It is not new, but is more pronounced now than before. 

Bertrand Russell summed it up nicely and Finkelstein agrees that “As a rule, by the time a man becomes a professor, he has been tamed, and has learnt the advantages of submission” the advantage being measured now in euros, dollars, yen and shekels, though many would deny this.

Again  as he points out “For self-deception, you can hardly beat academics,”.  There are of course exceptions, but in the current atmosphere, the younger new academics are bowed and beaten by those who went before them.

Given his own personal experience, he is obviously in favour of academic freedom which he describes as not just the freedom to teach but to enquire and travel the road less travelled. 

He points out that in the US the idea went through various stages, freedom from churches, then from corporations and later the state (MacCarthy).  Nowadays, all three encroach upon it, sometimes in unison and to the same end. 

He goes again into some detail on the issue and chooses the thorny ground of Holocaust denial. 

He is Jewish, so he is clearly not advocating that the Holocaust did not happen, but rather how it is dealt with on campus and links it up to other issues, giving examples when he himself has been uncomfortable teaching and the examples he relies on. 

He makes an argument for challenging ideas.  This section, like the Obama part is overly long and could also have done with a bit of editing.  But he clearly comes out against censorship and new morality police that abound everywhere.

It’s easier to fight against codified speech restrictions than against “enlightened” campus opinion, which, in the name of its “special duty,” insinuates itself in campus life and throttles free speech with its asphyxiating pieties.

The situation now is that debate is being stifled on a whole range of issues, beyond the obvious ones and the high profile debates on Men’s Rights i.e. the right to id your way into women’s spaces. Due to his own experience, he does seem to think that it is more the case when an academic goes off campus that the trouble arises. 

But actually, the baying mob throttling free speech are doing so on campus now to people who have never ventured off it, or at least have never been given much opportunity to do so.  He cites a very interesting case, that of Bertrand Russell when he was appointed to City University. 

His morals, his sex life and general outlook were brandished about as reasons for not hiring him.  Russell defended himself, saying they were irrelevant, he was appointed as a lecturer in “modern concepts of logic,” “foundations of mathematics,” and “relations of pure to applied science.” 

In the modern cancel culture that wouldn’t stand.  People are sacked precisely because of their private lives or their opinions on matters wholly unrelated to the area in which they teach. 

It didn’t stand back then either, Russell lost the case precisely because he argued in favour of homosexuality and premarital cohabitation, amongst other things.  Our woke liberals on campus, those who hounded Kathleen Stock out of her job are as reactionary as the judge in the case. 

He goes on to look at other cases before finishing off with the details of his own case and his unemployment and unemployability in academia.

The book is interesting, though far too long with too much detail about some cases and aspects which makes it difficult to see the wood from the trees at times.  But it does offer arguments on issues that are current with reference to historical precedents and also to philosophy. 

It is worth reading, as he is a rather high-profile victim of cancel culture.  His book the Holocaust Industry was thrashed by the New York Times, which had positively reviewed the Bell Curve and even gave a better review of Mein Kampf than Finkelstein’s book. 

They probably keep quiet about that aspect.

Cancel culture, identitarianism, intersectionalism are amongst the biggest intellectual challenges to the left. 

They deny class and reduce politics to the acceptance of pre-ordained dogmas, that are espoused by the US Democratic Party, Facebook, Google and many major multinationals i.e. from the right of the political spectrum. 

They are the wolf in sheep’s clothing, though the sheep is clearly showing the fangs for anyone who wants to see.  History is unlikely to be kind to them. 

Whilst Finkelstein has some illusions of his own in some liberals like Bernie Sanders, his point about freedom of speech, the search for the truth, discussion and debate are his main point in the book. 

A point that cannot be overemphasised in its importance, nor of the need to persevere through the current darkness.  As Finkelstein says.

Many of the heroes of my youth had been blacklisted, but also had, despite all, stayed true to their youthful convictions; not dogmatically, as almost all of them had left the Communist Party, but still unreconciled to the capitalist system, and committed, at any rate in theory, to its overthrow.

A picture of Robeson sits on my bookshelf beside a picture of Marxist economist Paul Sweezy.

The cancel culture advocates and wokerati have, unlike Finkelstein, reconciled themselves to fumbling in the till and harassing those who might speak out against the system in any meaningful way.