SHE SHOULD KNOW ALL ABOUT INVASIONS

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 4 mins.)

In late November last year the UK’s Home Secretary1 referred to refugees and migrants entering Britain as “an invasion”, for which a Hollocaust survivor, 83-year-old Joan Salter, challenged her, likening her speech to that of the Nazis.

An NGO working with refugees, Freedom From Torture, posted some of the exchange on Twitter. In turn, the NGO came under pressure from the Home Office to retract the video.

This month, not only did the charity refuse but did so publicly, fully endorsing the content of the video.

Anyone would well understand the difference between invading a country and entering it as a refugee, asylum seeker or even economic migrant. Those come unarmed, fleeing to safety or trying to make a living for themselves and their family.

A minister of a British Government should be extremely well-placed to understand the distinction. After all, there is no continent and very few countries, including its near neighbours, which the British ruling class has not caused to be invaded at some time or other.2

Map of areas of the world ‘owned’ by Britain or the UK at one time (Source: Internet)

From the time the descendants of the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Celtic England merged with the descendants of the later Norman invaders, England has gone from being a major invading and colonising military and naval power to being a major imperialist one.

Imperialist action did not always end in invasion; pressure could be applied in other ways, through bribery — or open threat. The term “gunboat diplomacy” was coined to describe imperialist actions short of actual invasion and Britain was renowned for actions of that type.

The ruling class of Britain has waged war against people to take over trade routes, to colonise land and extract resources, in competition with other colonial powers, to quash resistance and even for the right to sell opium in China.

In the course of those colonial and imperialist activities, Britain has carried out many invasions. In fact, Suella’s parents themselves come from former colonies.

Braverman is a child of migrants

Suella Braverman is the daughter of parents of Indian origin who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s: Uma (née Mootien-Pillay) from Mauritius and Christie Fernandes, from Kenya. Both those countries have indeed been invaded by Britain.

Kenya in particular from 1952-1960 had one of the worst experiences of colonial treatment by the British military, including wide-scale murder, torture and rape. India and Pakistan had their infrastructure and manufacture undermined by Britain leading to regular country-wide famines.

Suella Braverman, MP, currently UK Home Secretary. (Sourced: Internet)

Suella should know about invasions, refugees and migrants but is on record as saying that the British Empire was on the whole a beneficial experience for its conquered. This is a prime example of the “slave mind” that apes the invader and wants to collaborate with it.3

Such “slave-minded” people can be even more vicious and callous in their attitudes than the conquerors themselves and Braverman certainly fills that bill. And it’s not just in occasional choice of words that Braverman nears Nazi appearance.

During Braverman’s unsuccessful campaign for selection as leader of the Conservative Party last July, she said her priorities would have included to “solve the problem of boats crossing the Channel” and “to withdraw the UK from the European Convention of Human Rights.”

In October 2022, Braverman said that she would love to see a front page of The Daily Telegraph sending asylum seekers to Rwanda4 and described it as her “dream” and “obsession.” No doubt she includes human rights and legality concerns as “all of this woke rubbish.5

A courageous NGO

Holocaust survivor Joan Salter, the woman who accused Braverman of Nazi-like speech, is the daughter of refugees from Nazi persecution who survived but endured imprisonment and hazardous journeys. She has an MBE for her work on Holocaust education.

Joan Salter, Holocaust survivor who challenged the Home Secretary. (Sourced: Internet)

In response to a Home Office accusation that the clip is only partial and therefore misleading, the NGO’s CEO Sonya Sceats pointed out the full exchange is available in video on its website and said the charity will not remove the Twitter clip.

“As an organisation providing therapy to torture survivors who feel targeted by her language and who know first-hand where such dehumanising language can lead, we will not do so. She has used language she should be ashamed of, and we won’t be pressured into helping her hide it.”

Non-Governmental Organisations nearly always rely on government funding, whether directly or indirectly and as a result tend not to rock the boat too much, in case they find their boat getting smaller or their team even being tossed overboard.

Sony Sceats, CEO of Freedom From Torture charity who stood up to the Home Secretary.

As a result, in public the CEOs of those organisations tend to vary from generally totally compliant6 to cautiously critical on certain occasions. In that context, the actions of Salter in the initial video and of the Freedom From Torture NGO in militantly backing her can only be admired.

End.

Footnotes

References

Charity refuses to delete clip of Holocaust survivor confronting UK politician (thejournal.ie)

Suella Braverman – Wikipedia

Britain Has Invaded All but 22 Countries (kottke.org)

https://www.holocaust.org.uk/joan-salter-profile

1This is the UK’s equivalent to Minister for Home Affairs, these days normally restricted to Britain (i.e excluding the colony in Ireland) and in particular England and Wales (i.e often excluding even Scotland).

2Britain Has Invaded All but 22 Countries (kottke.org)

3The concept of the ‘slave mind’ or ‘colonised mind’ has been addressed by a number of writers on national liberation, notably Patrick Pearse (1879-1916) from Ireland and Franz Fanon (1925-1961) from Martinique.

4That plan has been condemned by many human and civil rights organisations and also denounced as illegal.

5A quote dating from her attempt at Leader of the Conservative Party.

6Or actually collusive.

ANDALUCIA — LARGEST MASS GRAVE UNCOVERED IN WESTERN EUROPE AFTER SREBRENICA

The remains of more than 1,700 victims have already surfaced, twice as many as expected

Report from Info Libre, by Angel Munarriz, Seville — January 6, 2023 7:39 p.m. @angel_munarriz (translation and editing for publication here, also Footnotes and Glossary by D.Breatnach)

The mass graves in the Seville cemetery are a puzzle. Historiographical research has concluded that thousands and thousands of victims of Francoism lie dumped without order or recognition, but there is hardly full certainty of a few hundred names registered in the municipal registry.

What is underground is a sordid totum revolutum1 of bones of those shot right there and on nearby walls, of those killed in prisons and concentration camps or in confrontations with the rebel troops, or of victims of hunger and poverty who were was buried free of charge along with those who suffered repression.

Today the puzzle is still far from complete; it will probably never be so, because part of the mission of the placing of graves in the San Fernando cemetery was to erase the traces of the crime.

But some pieces are beginning to fit. It is even possible already to glimpse some forms. What is observed goes beyond any hypothesis.

Not everything in this story is summed up in numbers, because behind each number there is a human being. But numbers are essential to understand its dimension.

There they go: the search in the mass graves of the Franco regime led by the Seville City Council is now extended to more than 4,000 possible victims, according to the calculations of the consistory itself, based on historiographical sources.

In the first excavated burial, Pico Reja, the remains of more than 1,700 victims have already surfaced, twice as many as expected, making it “the largest open mass grave in Western Europe since Srebrenica”, as the City Council highlights.

In the second, called Monumento, pending opening, there could be more than 2,600. The horror revealed in what was the fiefdom of Gonzalo Queipo de Llano2 seems to have no end.

Overflowing forecasts in Pico Reja

The exhumation work in the Pico Reja grave, which began a little less than two years ago, is nearing completion.

“The idea [of the City Council] is to carry out an act of symbolic closure of the pit before the end of January. We are going to do everything possible,” explains Juan Manuel Guijo, director of the excavation, which is in charge of the science society Aranzadi, a benchmark in this field.

Guijo is not certain about the deadlines.”The pit must be left clean, without remains,” he says. In addition, “a huge amount of funerary material is coming out.”

The anthropologist uses scientific jargon: “Huge amount of funerary material.” They are human bones.

The initial forecast for the number of deaths was just over 1,100, of which between 850 and 900 would be victims of Franco’s repression, according to the City Council. But reality has broken any forecast.

Guijo advances to InfoLibre the figures as of December 30: the remains of 8,600 individuals have been located, almost eight times more than previously thought; of these, 1,718 are victims of the Franco regime, around twice as many as expected.

The two figures, says Guijo, “will be exceeded” at the end of the excavation.

“We can reach 9,000 people exhumed. All this was impossible to foresee. It is beyond any possible forecast,” he says.

The mayor of Seville, Antonio Muñoz (PSOE), has said it in other words: “The reality was much worse than what was estimated in the initial forecasts.”

Visitors to the Pico Reja mass grave excavation in May 2022 (Photo sourced: InfoLibre)

An explanation? The grave “was not filled up shortly after the coup, as was thought, but was open until 1940, or at least it was opened punctually in 1940,” explains Councilor Juan Tomás de Aragón.

The remains –wires and shackles– or the posture allow us to conclude that a victim was tied up, either with the wrists together or with the hands behind the back. Clips found appeared to hold several in a row with rope or wire.

The skull is the most frequent area of impact of the projectile, especially from behind, but also on the face. There is an abundance of long-arm projectiles used for the Mauser rifle, as well as short-arm bullets, mainly 9 mm.

In addition to the unmistakable bullet holes, there are “simple” fractures that point to “illtreatment” and “cruelty,” Guijo explains. The extreme fragmentation, mutilation, shrapnel and grenade remains seem to be attributable to “high energy trauma”, typical of combat.

500 families waiting: from Blas Infante to Horacio Gómez

One of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place in June.

The technicians confirmed the existence of evidence that certifies the remains of at least thirty of the victims who were members of what is known as the Mining Column, a group of volunteer fighters from the Huelva mining area that arrived in Seville bringing dynamite.

The characteristics of some burials –bodies without a coffin, grouped and face down– and the evidence that they had been retaliated against –shots to the neck, ties, perimortem fractures– allowed, together with some specific findings, to outline the hypothesis that they were members of the Miners Column.

There was a way to confirm it. How? These workers breathed, drank and ate in a mining environment without current security measures, so there could be a transfer of heavy metals to their bodies.

Indeed, the analyses carried out at the University of Santiago de Compostela have ratified it.

Much remains to be confirmed. Some 500 relatives have offered DNA samples, which must be compared with the remains of the victims, especially femurs, with signs of repression. You can’t always. There are more than 300 victims who do not present viable skeletal remains.

They are practically pulverized. This, added to the fact that the percentage of identifications with respect to the total number of bodies exhumed in this type of work is usually around 10%, caution is advised.

This same month of December, Horacio Hermoso, son of the former mayor of the city of the same name, a member of the Republican Left, assassinated in September 1936, died. Horacio Jr. gave his DNA, but did not arrive in time to see the end of the remains matching process.

DNA collection in 2019 from Horacio Hermoso, son of the former Republican mayor of Seville, of the same name, assassinated in September 1936. Sadly he died before his father’s remains were identified. (Photo sourced: InfoLibre)

Among the relatives who are still waiting is Estanislao Naranjo, grandson of Blas Infante, considered the father of Andalusianism, murdered in August 1936. “Things are going slowly, because it is a difficult grave,” he says.

Do you see the identification of his grandfather as possible? “In theory, yes. Due to the dates, they had to throw it into that pit. Now, it is difficult to know who was victimised and who was not. If the bullet hit a bone, you can see it. If it only touched soft parts, no,” he says.

Historical investigations maintain that, in addition to Infante, the remains of other political and union figures of the time rest in the grave, as well as loyal soldiers – Captain Ignacio Alonso – and assault guards3.

Councilor Juan Tomás de Aragón (PSOE) emphasises that all the victims will have a “dignified burial.” The City Council will build a memorial and a columbarium over the grave.

The Mayor tries not to generate excessive expectations about the identifications, so as not to pivot on this last phase the success or failure of the works. The truth is that the exhumation of Pico Reja has involved much more than exhumations and possible identifications.

For example, it has led to the making of several documentaries, such as Pico Reja. The truth that the earth hides. Students from schools, institutes and universities, from Seville and abroad, have organized visits to the work area.

Numerous university researchers have taken an interest in the process.

Monumento: the emblematic grave of Cruz de Lolo

The opening will not be limited to Pico Reja. The City Council plans to put out to tender in 2023 the excavation work for a second grave. It is known as the Alpargateros or Monumento pit.

According to available studies, it was open between September 1936 and January 1940 and no less than 7,440 bodies of deaths from different causes were deposited there, of which some 2,613 would be victims of Francoism.

Among them are believed to be the eight convicted of a plot against General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano, during which Concha Morón was arrested as part of The Resistence in Sevilla. An attempt to overthrow Queipo (Aconcagua, 2013).

Carmen Díaz may also be there, sister of the general secretary of the PCE, José Díaz.

If the forecasts of victims of the Franco regime in the Monumento pit are met, the total of the two burials would easily exceed 4,000. After Pico Reja‘s surprise, no one dares to say so. Perhaps, says the archaeologist Guijo, bodies attributed to Monumento were in Pico Reja.

Flowers in memory of the victims of Francoism buried in mass graves in the Seville cemetery. (Image sourced: InfoLibre)

Graves (and more matters) pending

The City Council trusts that the collaboration of the Diputación, the Junta de Andalucía4 and the Government in Pico Reja, where they have invested 1.5 million euros, will be repeated in Monumento, so called because of a commemorative monument raised there in 2003 by initiative of the Association of former Political Prisoners and Victims of the Franco regime.

Almost everyone who remembers that in this entire area crime reached inhuman levels hovers around the Monument pit.

In addition to the monument, in its paved area there is a cross placed by a communist blacksmith in the early 50s, tolerated by the authorities and known as the Cruz de Lolo. For the rest, no one would say. Seville has lived for decades in a democracy with back turned to the memory of its horrors.

The remains of Blas Infante, named by Parliament “father of the Andalusian homeland”, was not begun to be searched for until 2020.

Those of Queipo, head of the repression in southern Spain, the coup leader who called for “raping Reds”, have only recently left the place of honour they occupied in the basilica of La Macarena,5 in compliance with a state law.

This was without the confraternity with the most members in the city acting on its own initiative. Apart from this exhumation, the honours granted to him still stain the city.

Councilor Juan Tomás de Aragón highlights the “normality” with which the exhumation of Pico Reja has been carried out, which he is sure will be repeated in the Monumento.

“Nobody has clutched their heads in their hands. People are more intelligent and mature than is sometimes thought,” he says. He believes that the key has been respect: “We have not hidden what we were doing, nor have we used it to confront anyone.”

There are more graves in the complex, in addition to Pico Reja and Monumento. Antigua –delimited and where it has been verified that there are no remains of victims, according to the councilor–, Rotonda de los Fusilados, Disidentes y Judíos, some extensions of filled graves…

“Francoism never admitted that there were graves, that’s why they were known by popular names. If it had admitted them, they would be called San Rafael, Santa Águeda …”, explains Juan Morillo, a reference to the memorialist movement in Andalusia.

He sees the exhumation process of Pico Reja as “exemplary”, but at the same time stresses: “All this, it must be remembered, has been done due to the pressure of family members and associations. No party had it on their pprogram.

“Memory continues to be the great democratic deficit in this country, where there are still unopened graves and streets with Francoist names”.

The City Council does not plan to disinter these graves, at least not while the largest ones are open. According to the available evidence, they have much fewer victims than Pico Reja and Monumento.

Known locations of mass and smaller graves from the Spanish Civil War and during the Dictatorship repression afterwards. (Image sourced: Internet)

Comment
by Diarmuid Breatnach

It is important to note that most of the executions by the fascist-military forces during the Civil War took place outside combat zones, in which the fascist-military were in no danger whatsoever. They were punishing not only soldiers of the Second Republic but political activists and functionaries.

This is in contrast to the much lower number of executions in the zones under control of the Republic and, furthermore, as their authorities exercised greater control, the executions were reduced considerably.

Many executions also took place after the fall of the Republic and the terrible conditions of the vastly overcrowded jails and prison camps added their contribution to the fascist military harvest. Their purpose was revenge, deterrence of others and elimination of a democratic generation.

Generations growing up afterwards knew little of the extent of the horror unless informed by their family and communities, though may of these in turn felt obliged to remain silent unless they – or their sons and daughters – were to also become victims.

The subject is not taught in the schools and during the Dictatorship children were taught and expected to salute the icon of the Dictator Franco.

Unlike in Germany and even in Portugal, fascism was never defeated in the Spanish state and the Transition from Dictatorship brought the military, police, judges, civil servants, media moguls, university dons and Catholic hierarchy safely into the new “democracy”.

In addition, most of those who seized land, buildings, machinery and equipment, vehicles and personal wealth of the victims of the coup and war, were allowed to keep them

As Juan Morillo reminds us (see article), it is not the Spanish State that has pushed the process of disinterment and documentation of these mass graves, but relatives, communities and concerned citizens. And for a long time it was even dangerous to pursue such activities.

Fascism remains alive and strong in the Spanish state.

End.

Footnotes

1A total jumble

2Gonzalo Queipo de Llano y Sierra (5 February 1875 – 9 March 1951) was a Spanish military leader who rose to prominence during the July 1936 coup and soon afterwards the Spanish Civil War and the White Terror that followed. Capturing Seville with a force of at least 4,000 troops and ordering mass killings, he later made ridiculous claims, including that the city had been defended by 100,000 armed communists and that the fascist military troops had taken the city with as few as fifteen men. Quiepo de Llano publicly called for women of the Republican opposition to be raped.

3From Wikipedia: The Cuerpo de Seguridad y Asalto (English: Security and Assault Corps) was the heavy reserve force of the blue-uniformed urban police force of Spain during the Spanish Second Republic. (for more, see Glossary)

4The governing body of that ‘autonomous’ region.

5See Glossary.

References

Original article: https://www.infolibre.es/politica/busqueda-fosas-comunes-franquismo-sevilla-amplia-4-000-victimas_1_1394807.html

https://www.infolibre.es/politica/tributos-queipo-sobreviven-sevilla-gracias-iglesia_1_1355792.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzalo_Queipo_de_Llano

Glossary

Andalusia: One of the ‘autonomous regions’ of the Spanish state, large southern region, from Al Andalus, province of the Moorish conquest of large areas of the Spanish state. After the Canary Islands it was the easiest for Franco’s troops to reach from the Spanish colony in North Africa; its defenders lacked time to prepare and did not last long against a well-armed and large invasion force.

Assault Guards (From Wikipedia): The Cuerpo de Seguridad y Asalto (English: Security and Assault Corps) was the heavy reserve force of the blue-uniformed urban police force of Spain during the Spanish Second Republic.The Assault Guards were special police and paramilitary units created by the Spanish Republic in 1931 to deal with urban and political violence. Most of the recruits in the Assault Guards were ex-military personnel, many of which were veterans.

At the onset of the Spanish Civil War there were 18,000 Assault Guards. About 12,000 stayed loyal to the Republican government, while another 5,000 joined the rebel faction.[1] Many of its units fought against the Franco supporting armies and their allies. Their siding with the former Spanish Republic’s government brought about the disbandment of the corps at the end of the Civil War. The members of the Guardia de Asalto who had survived the war and the ensuing Francoist purges were made part of the Policía Armada, the corps that replaced it.

Diputación: Regional administrative body in most regions of the Spanish state.

Izquierda Republicana Republican Left (from Wikipedia, translated): Izquierda Republicana (IR) was a Spanish left-wing republican political party founded by Manuel Azaña in 1934. It played a prominent role during the Second Spanish Republic and in the moments preceding the start of the Civil War. Azaña became President of the Republic between 1936 and 1939. During the Franco dictatorship the party practically disappeared from the political scene except in the sphere of Republican exile in Mexico, where it continued to have some activity. As of 1977 it was reconstituted in Spain again, although without having the (degree of) importance of the historical party.

La Macarena: Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Macarena (Our Lady of Hope of Macarena, base of the Holy Week Confraternity of that Catholic church. The procession on the early morning of Good Friday is one of the largest, most popular, and fervent in the whole of the Spanish state. The wooden statue of Our Lady of Hope of Macarena dates from the 17th century.

PCE: Partido Comunista de España (Communist Party of Spain) is a communist party, banned by Franco but supported the Transition from the Dictatorship and the monarchist Constitution, subsequently experiencing a number of splits. Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), one of the two main trade unions in the Spanish state, its associated trade union movement was the main underground workers’ element in forcing the change from dictatorship but is no longer under its control.

PSOE: Partido Socialista Obrero de España (Socialist Workers Party of Spain) is a social-democratic party, banned by Franco but supported the Transition from the Dictatorship and the monarchist Constitution, subsequently one of two main parties of government in the Spanish state, at the time of writing the senior member in coalition government with the Podemos party. Its associated trade union, Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), is one of the two main trade unions in the Spanish state.

POLITICAL BETRAYAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL RESPONSES

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 12 mins.)

Working people have experienced many betrayals in history and the struggle for self-determination of the Irish nation has been – and is being – betrayed also.

When such betrayals occur, a range of common reactions is evoked; thinking about those responses may help the betrayed at least to moderate the harm and turn the experience to some benefit.

Equally, some ways of handling the experience can magnify and deepen the harm already caused.

Betrayal is a difficult experience for the betrayed certainly but not without some cost to the betrayer too and each has a number of common responses. This applies to the personal as well as to the political but there are some differences.

The betrayers have their followers to different degrees and these too have psychological reactions to the betrayal — and to criticism of the betrayal. We can observe these reactions in a number of recent historical cases of high levels of resistance subsequently betrayed.

The most recent phase of high degree resistance in Ireland took place largely in the British colony of the Six Counties, beginning with mass struggles for civil rights before passing through protracted guerrilla war and intense struggles of political prisoners in the jails.

In the Basque Country, the corresponding phase began with ideological-cultural struggle and mass industrial actions against the Franco dictatorship, quickly developing into a guerrilla campaign combined with street battles, resistance to conscription and struggles around prisoners in the jails.

The leadership of the Irish struggle came to political agreement with the colonial occupier, disbanded and decommissioned its guerrilla forces and acceding to its right of conquest, joined the occupier’s colonial administration, concentrating thereafter on building up its electoral base.

A similar process took place in the Basque Country but with important differences: the imprisoned activists were not released and the movement’s political leadership was not even admitted into joint management of the colonial administration.

Each nation witnessed splits, recrimination, dissidence, repression on groups continuing resistance but also a range of psychological responses which at best did not assist recuperation and in fact often deepened the harm of betrayal by the leadership.

STANDARD RESPONSES BY THE BETRAYED

DISMAY is a common reaction: How could he/ she/ they? I never thought they would. We’re finished now.

BLAME is another also common response: It was that leader’s or leadership’s fault. We didn’t fight hard enough. Those comrades criticised too much.

SELF-CENSORSHIP And EXCESSIVE CAUTION: We can see the harm in some of the leadership’s actions but we must be careful not to step too far out of the movement, where we will be marginalised and unable to have an effect1.

DESPAIR: That’s the end of everything. There’s no way out of this. It was all for nothing – all those sacrifices, all that pain. I’ll never trust people or get involved again.

APATHY: So I/ we might as well forget about it all. Just think about ourselves/ myself/ family. Drop out. Drink. Take drugs.

DENIAL: We’ve not really been betrayed. It’s just another way to go for the same thing. This is the only reasonable choice. We couldn’t keep on that way any longer, this is just a change of method. We’re just having a pause. The leadership is clever and has tricks up their sleeves. This is just to fool the authorities. It’s just going to take a little longer to win than we thought.

Those are defensive constructions in emotion and, in so far as that takes place, in thinking. But defensiveness can turn to aggression – and frequently does. The betrayers – and often the duped also – resent being reminded of what and where they are. It makes them uncomfortable.

HOSTILITY: How dare those people criticise us/ the leadership? They don’t understand and just want continual conflict. They’re endangering our secret plan. Who do they think they are? They’re just wrecking everything, undermining our new plans. They need to be taught a lesson.

PERSONAL ATTACKS: That critic is no great activist. S/he hasn’t suffered as some of us have. They were always troublemakers. Jealous, that’s what they are. They’re not very bright; no idea about real politics. They are in fact traitors, helping our enemies.

MARGINALISATION: We are not going to listen to those critics. We will not allow them space on our media. We’ll try to make sure they don’t get venues in which to spread their poison. If people are friends with them they can’t be our friends too. Such people will not enjoy our hospitality or invitations to our events. People should not even talk to them. If the authorities attack those dissidents, we are not going to trouble ourselves about them – it’s their own look out.

MANAGING THE BETRAYAL

PROMOTING LEADER ADULATION is a useful tool in shutting down the opportunities for criticism and in repressing them when they arise. “Who are we to criticise this great comrade’s thinking or actions?” becomes an implicit question, clearing the way for betrayal.

Leaders who have surrendered or compromised the struggle, L-R: Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of the Provisionals, Arnaldo Otegi of the Basque Patriotic Left, Abdullah Ocalan of the PKK and Yasser Arafat of Al Fatah. The latter seemed to be attempting to to turn back from the path of betrayal when he became very ill (quite probably poisoned) and died.

SEEKING COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY ALLIANCES is engaged upon so as to appear to its members to make the organisation’s influence greater, or to outflank and isolate more revolutionary tendencies and often ultimately to make the leadership acceptable to the ruling circles.

BEGGING FOR CONCESSIONS when the revolutionary path has been abandoned can often be observed, as in “we’ve abandoned our militant struggle, please stop repressing us”, for example, a frequent response to repression of the Basque leadership once it abandoned the revolutionary path.

COLLUDING WITH THE OCCUPIER becomes a new second nature to a leadership abandoning revolution, not only in abandoning armed struggle, for example but in destroying weapons and suppressing elements still in resistance.

PROVING THEIR READINESS TO COLLUDE FURTHER, revolutionaries turned collaborators denounce continued resistance, try to convince revolutionaries to desist (or threaten or physically attack them), promote the repressive arms of the State such as the police and so on.

INTOLERANCE OF CRITICISM becomes default position; such criticism tends to expose the contradiction between the original purpose of the organisation and its concrete actions in the present. Censorship, expulsion and misrepresentation become common.

MARGINALISATION OF CRITICS follows from intolerance of criticism – the individuals or groups must be made pariahs so as to nullify or at least reduce their influence. Association with them, socially or politically – even in agitating around civil rights – must be discouraged.

REPRESSION OF DISSIDENTS finally becomes necessary, whether by threats or by actual violence or, when admitted to governing circles, by use of repressive state machinery.

DEALING WITH BETRAYAL RATIONALLY

The first necessary step is to analyse how the betrayal came about: how was it organised? What were the conditions that made it possible? What were the early signs?

Then, proceed to: what could we have done differently? What WILL we do differently in future?

Electoral work

One common assumption here in Ireland, especially in Irish Republican circles, is that the rot began with standing in elections. This is not logical and it is in effect making a negative fetish of electoral work, a taboo to be avoided.

It is often useful to the revolution in many ways to have representation in the parliament and local authorities, for example in promoting or blocking practical or legislative measures, getting media air time, visiting prisons — all without ever promoting reformism as a way forward.

Certainly the prioritisation of electoral work over other aspects is a sign that something has gone wrong: the strength of the popular revolutionary movement is on the street, in workplaces, communities, places of education, rather than in parliaments and local authorities.

The drive towards electoral representation can encourage bland slogans of the soap powder kind (“new improved” or “washes even better”) rather than those with revolutionary content and also the promotion of more bourgeois individuals in preference to grass-roots organisers.

Anodyne election slogan in both languages for Sinn Féin.

But none of that means that representation in those bodies cannot be used to further the popular struggles or that such aberrations cannot be avoided. And in fact, the concentration on criticism on the electoral factor served to distract from a more fundamental error.

Of course, electoral work should never, for revolutionaries, be about entering government under the current socio-economic system, i.e sharing in the administration of the State.

Leader adulation & intolerance of criticism

If criticism is not tolerated when errors are committed, they can hardly be corrected. Again and again it has been observed that the party/ organisation faithful refuse to accept external criticism from non-enemies. Internally the leadership inhibits criticism by the members.

The cult of the leader also inhibits criticism and therefore correction of errors. And behind this image others can hide and also commit errors. Problematic as dead icons may be, living ones are many times more dangerous – deceased ones at least do not change their trajectories.

Such created living icons have been Mandela in South Africa, Yasser Arafat among Palestinians, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in Ireland, Arnaldo Otegi in the Basque Country and Abdullah Ocalan among Kurds (particularly in the Turkish and Syrian states).

Nobody knows everything or is always right. Bothersome as being criticised may be, its total absence is worse, allowing us no opportunity to question ourselves as activists and in particular as revolutionary organisations.

The revolutionary leadership, party or organisation is not the people

The revolutionary leadership, party or organisation does not have all the answers and is not the people. This might seem obvious but from the behaviour of such leaderships and their followers in the past it is clear that the opposite philosophy has been dominant.

Confusing the organisation with the people or with revolution itself, we assume that what is good for the organisation is also good for the people and the revolution. This however is not always so and leads to placing the perceived well-being of the organisation above the needs of the revolution.

Indulging this confusion leads to political opportunism and sectarianism, bad relations with other revolutionaries, ignoring all external criticism and placing the needs of the leadership higher than those of the membership and of the membership higher than those of the mass movement.

Internationalist solidarity

In internationalist solidarity work we build the unity of the people across borders and against the same or different enemies than those against which we are struggling.

One feature observed in a number of organisations where the leadership is moving towards betrayal is a reduction or elimination of such work.

To those in our ranks seeking an accommodation with imperialism and capitalism, those internationalist solidarity alliances are either a) unimportant or b) a hindrance to the alternative reactionary alliances to which they aspire.

The latter was very much the case with the Provisionals’ attitude to US imperialism. For decades, their leadership maintained apparently mutually-contradictory positions on what is the biggest imperialist superpower in the world.

On the one hand, for example, there could be involvement in solidarity with Cuba against the US economic blockade and, in the past, against US sabotage and terrorism against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

On the other hand, the leadership sought the support of the US elite against British colonialism, which is occupying a part of Ireland and against which the movement was waging, in that colony, an armed and popular struggle.

Seeking support from the US imperialist elite entailed distancing from left-wing Irish USA and dropping support for even long-term inmates of US jails, such as American Indian Leonard Peltier and Black American Mumia Abu Jamal, arising out of popular struggles inside the US.2

Leonard Peltier, Native American convicted in 1977 in deeply flawed trial for murder of two FBI agents in 1975 shootout on Pine Ridge Reservation. Nearly 80 years of age now and with multiple health issues, even release on clemency grounds is constantly blocked. His is one of many campaigns in the USA which SF cannot support as they seek to remain friends with the Democratic Party elite there.
Black American journalist and activist, framed for the murder of a corrupt Philadelphia policeman in 1981 and sentenced to death in 1982, sentence commuted to imprisonment for life without parole in 2011. Mumia is nearly 70 years of age now with a number of health issues. Another of the type of injustice in the USA about which SF cannot campaign as they seek to stay close to the Democratic Party elite. Anecdotally, a SF Councillor who was regularly writing to him was obliged to desist on instruction from her party leadership.

Unprincipled alliances

Another warning sign is the founding of unprincipled alliances with other organisations in struggle. For example, although it is correct to have a position of support for the Palestinian people, that should not necessarily bind us to exclusively support the fighters of one organisation only.

The Provisionals made their alliance with the Al Fatah organisation to the exclusion of all others in Palestine but worse was to come, for Al Fatah shoved aside the idea of a free Palestine and the right of return in exchange for administrative partial autonomy and funding.3

From there, Al Fatah became so corrupt that the Palestinian people, that had long supported a secular leadership, voted overwhelmingly for an islamic fundamentalist party, Hamas4. The unprincipled alliance with Al Fatah and the ANC was used to ‘sell’ the GFA to Irish Republicans.5

In the Basque Country, the mass movement’s leadership developed close links with the leadership of the Provisionals and refused links with Irish Republican organisations that dissented from the Provisionals’ position or with Republican prisoners after the Good Friday Agreement.

That should have sounded alarm trumpets in the Basque movement but if it did, it remained largely without practical effect. Askapena, the Basque internationalist solidarity organisation did split from the main movement but did not go so far as to support ‘dissident’ Irish Republican prisoners.

LESSONS

On the basis of the preceding I think we can draw a number of primary lessons.

LESSON ONE: ANALYSE THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST AND SEEK TO AVOID REPLICATING THEM

The type of struggle, location, timing, peripheral situation, long, medium and short-term objectives, experience and expertise of personnel, resources … all need to be analysed, in conjunction with the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy.

In carrying out this kind of analysis on the Irish struggle, we see that we faced one of the military superpowers, also well linked into the western imperialist world. The Republican movement’s battle area was in total one-sixth of the nation’s territory and the location deeply divided.

The rest of the nation was ruled by a weak foreign-dependent ruling class.

Map of Ireland showing the British colony of the Six Counties. The Provisionals took on the British state, mostly confining their struggle in that deeply divided politically and culturally region shown in yellow.

A movement cannot choose when it has to step forward in defence but it can choose how it develops the struggle afterwards. It seems obvious that in order to be victorious, at the very least the struggle would have to be spread throughout the nation.

That in turn would entail putting forward social and economic objectives to attract wider support which, in turn, would mean taking on the Catholic Church hierarchy.

In addition, the question of effective external allies was relevant here but even more so in the Basque Country, located across the borders of two powerful European states.

The total population of the portion of the Basque nation within the Spanish state is far short of three million, that of the rest of the state over 44 million.

Clearly allies external to the Basque nation would be essential for victory and these would have to come from across most of the Spanish state at least.

Map showing the ‘autonomous’ regions of the Spanish State; the southern Basque Country is shown in pink at the top, including ‘Navarre’ shown in yellow next to it. Essentially, the Basque Patriotic Left without allies confronted the Spanish state from there.

Such an assumption would entail, in turn, outlining objectives to attract considerable numbers from across the Spanish state which in turn would mean creating alliances with revolutionary and other progressive forces across the state.

LESSON TWO: REFRAIN FROM PERSONALISING THE ISSUES

When criticism of the counter-revolutionary line put forward by individual leaders becomes personalised, the political essence of the criticism becomes lost or at least obscured. It can seem as though the critics have personal reasons for their hostility or even jealousy of the individuals.

Much of what one sees publicly posted by opponents of pacification programs in Ireland and the Basque Country often seems more about hostility to the personalities of MaryLou MacDonald, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness or Arnaldo Otegi than about specific policies and actions.6

Crucially, focusing criticism on individual leaders serves to conceal other underlying causes of failure and betrayal that are usually more fundamental: problems in objectives, errors of strategy, in particular and also of tactics along with unhealthy organisational dynamics.

LESSON THREE: DEVELOP INTERNATIONALISM AND AVOID UNPRINCIPLED ALLIANCES

In the face of imperialist and other reactionary alliances, revolutionaries need internationalist solidarity, the basis for which should be revolutionary positions and action. Exclusive alliances are generally to be avoided as is uncritical support or unquestioning approval of all actions.

LESSON FOUR: CONTRIBUTE TO BROAD FRONTS WITHOUT SURRENDERING THE REVOLUTIONARY LINE

A broad front is essential not only for successful revolution but also often for defence against repression. Such fronts should be built on a principled basis with respect for the participating groups and individuals but without surrendering the revolutionary line.

At the same time, the possibility of betrayal, opportunism or sabotage and marginalisation by partners in broad fronts need to be guarded against and, if occurring, to be responded to in a principled and measured manner.

Broad fronts not only increase the numbers in resistance in a unified manner but also expose the activities of the constituent groups to the members of other parts of the broad front. Activists can then evaluate organisations and one another on the basis of experience rather than of reputation.

The revolutionary line should not be abandoned or concealed when in a broad front with organisations and individuals who have varying lines. At the same time, it is not necessary to be pushing the revolutionary line every minute.

LESSON FIVE: DON’T GIVE UNCONDITIONAL TRUST TO LEADERS

Of course, our leaders and activists must be trusted – but always in the knowledge that no-one is perfect or above the possibility of error. The shutting down of opportunity to voice criticism should sound alarm bells in any revolutionary movement.

There are of course “time and place” considerations in criticism; for example, the capitalist mass media, police interrogation or trial in court are hardly appropriate places to criticise a revolutionary movement’s leadership.

LESSON SIX: TOLERATE INTERNAL CRITICISM AND CAUCUSES IN BALANCE WITH COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY

The above touches upon this area too. People who follow us without question may equally do so with another.

The right to caucus, i.e to collect around a particular revolutionary trend or focus needs to be acknowledged and formalised. Like-minded people will naturally associate and it is far healthier to have this occur in the open rather than in secret.

At the same time, when a discussion reaches democratic decision, the minority whose positions were rejected need to present a common front with the rest of the organisation or movement.

Similarly, political and organisation criticism needs to be welcomed or at least tolerated within the organisation or movement because it may be correct and point an alternative way forward and even if it isn’t, the discussion around the criticism will help to clarify matters.

Such openess to criticism and discussion encourages a conscious and thinking membership which by that measure alone and organisationally makes it more difficult for some individual or clique to manipulate the membership.

End.

FOOTNOTES

REFERENCES

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/30/black-panther-radicals-still-in-jail

1“Outside the broad movement it is very cold”, said a Basque to me once. He was a member of a small Left group critical of the leadership’s approach but unwilling to completely rupture with them.

2https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/30/black-panther-radicals-still-in-jail

3With the Camp David (1978) and Oslo Accords (1993 & 1995).

4In 2006 (the most recent) Palestinian parliamentary elections, Change and Reform (Hamas) won 74 seats and Al Fatah 45. In Gaza Al Fatah rejected the result and tried to seize power but were defeated in a short battle, though Hamas did not battle their assumption of power in the West Bank. All dates for elections to Palestinian Parliament since have passed without polling.

5And since then, unprincipled alliances with Provisional Sinn Féin have been used by the main Basque organisation leadership and ditto with Colombia to ‘sell’ pacification processes in those countries (which have been even worse for them than has the GFA been in Ireland).

6As a historical note, it is said that some of the delegates who voted for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in January 1922 were moved to do so by the nature of the attacks of Cathal Brugha, for the anti-Treaty side on Michael Collins, leader of those for the Treaty. The majority of delegates voting in favour was only seven.

POLITICAL PRISONER “TREATED WORSE THAN A RAPIST OR A PAEDOPHILE”

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 2 mins.)

Despite complaining of stomach pain, political prisoner and rapper Pablo Hasel waited over a year for a medical examination, according to excerpts of a letter of his being shared on social media, in which he complains of medical neglect.

Hasel, a Catalan marxist, was jailed for the content of videos in which he denounced the Spanish State, its history and its former King. He was also convicted of a physical attack with others on Spanish fascists.

In the past the rapper has also created a video rap in which he celebrated Irish resistance to English colonialism and promoted the IRA. Hasel’s description of the former King as a criminal has been largely vindicated by what is known publicly.

Hasel views his ongoing medical neglect, despite frequent complaints of stomach pains, as additional punishment by the system. Although according to public penal policy the deprivation of liberty is the full content of sentence, to that is being added humiliation and neglect, he says.

The rapper had to refuse a scheduled colonoscopy because the Mossos d’Escuadra, Catalan regional police, insisted they would have to be present in the room with him while he was naked with a tube inserted into his rectum and during which although sedated he would be handcuffed.

Indeed, though serious enough, deprivation of liberty is rarely the only content of penal punishment. For political prisoners in particular, humiliation, as in strip searches is a frequent attendant, as also can be violence by guards or by social prisoners.

Other frustrations are known too as solitary confinement, harassment, refusing access to educational or creative opportunities or materials, blocking visits by family and friends, harassing the visitors themselves, even deliberate dispersal to prisons located far from their social environment.

Medical neglect can have consequences beyond worry for the prisoner and their friends and family but can also be the cause of pain, discomfort and even early death. Hasel says that he is “being treated worse than rapists or paedophiles.”

Political prisoners often endure these privations silently in the knowledge of the intentions of their tormentors and of the reality of their powerlessness as prisoners of the State. However, resistance against the conditions in prison is also a well-documented part of revolutionary struggle.

In solidarity with political prisoners, those on the outside disseminate information about the prisoners’ conditions, organise pickets and demonstrations, write to or visit prisoners. Complaining to the responsible authorities is also another avenue, informing them that they are under scrutiny.

When prisoners concerned are within the administration of another state, it can sometimes be effective to register a complaint with the embassy of the relevant state. Embassies are obliged to inform their state of concerns about their government raised in the state where they are located.

UPDATE

Good news from the Free Pablo Hasel Facebook page in Catalan but translation here:

👋 Good news! 🗣 Pablo Hasél, will have a visit from a specialist on January 23, respecting his right to privacy. We achieved it with the pressure in the streets. We will have to be alert so that Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya does not violate any rights again ❗ 🔥 Thanks to all the supporters, like Plataforma Antirepressiva de Barcelona, for making it possible ❗ 💥 Today as yesterday, solidarity is our best weapon ❗

NB: ERC, the Esquerra Republicana (Republican Left) de Catalunya party is currently in power in the Government of the Catalunya autonomous region of the Spanish State.

End.

Spanish Embassy in Ireland, 17A Merlyn Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 Ireland

Telephone Number:

(+353) 1 269 1640 / 2597 (+353) 1 283 9900

Fax Number:

(+353) 1 269 1854

Email:

emb.dublin@maec.es

Writing to Pablo Hasel: Pablo Hasel, Centre Penitenciari Ponent, Módul 7, Victoria Kent, s/n 25071, Lleida, Catalunya, Spanish State.

Free Pablo Hasel FB page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/405142847450476

SPANISH NAZI CALLS FOR THE CREATION OF CELLS OF WHITE, CHRISTIAN, EUROPEAN MALES

(Reading time:9 mins.)

(Translated from Publico report by Danilo Albin and with comment by D.Breatnach)

A few days before Nazi bookseller Pedro Varela’s date for trial in Malaga for the continued crime of provoking hatred and discrimination, the Hitlerite activist gave a talk in which he called for founding “cells of Christian, white, and European men.”

The audience listened in silence. On stage was Pedro Varela, the great leader of Spanish neo-Nazis and one of the few Hitlerites tried in Spain for spreading genocidal ideas.1

It was the morning of Sunday, November 6, there were a few days left before another trial for spreading hate and Varela, in his usual style, had not planned to move an inch from his script.

“You go down a street in Madrid or Barcelona and you see black boys, handsome, tall, stocky, who measure 1.90. They are going to be the owners of the situation and the owners of the country. Do you think they are going to pay your pensions?”2

That was one of the statements made by the owner of Librería Europa during the conference held that day, according to a video that has just seen the light.

The Nazi activist’s speech, organized by the far-right publishing house Fides, was made on November 6 within the framework of the XVI Days of Dissidence3.

The event, which was initially going to be held in a conference room on Calle Hilarión Eslava in Madrid, had to change location after the publication of a news item about said meeting by Público4.

That change of location angered Varela, who did not hesitate to lash out at this newspaper. “As you know, lovers of freedom of expression and democracy have tried and succeeded in cancelling the room in Madrid that for years we used for this rally,” he said.

“The Público newspaper, a pamphlet from the extreme left5, announced the address where the Sixteen Days of Dissidence were going to take place, and encouraged the anti-fascist mobs to call, bother, and outrage the owners of that place so that they finally barred us access to it for holding the ‘Dissidents’,” he continued.

This veteran Nazi activist also referred to an episode of the Cuéntame series in which there was an allusion to his bookshop, located in Barcelona and dedicated to the sale of National Socialist materials.

“The propaganda against this small group of 200 or 300 people here today is tremendous. A newspaper like Público, a television program like Cuéntame, dedicate part of their efforts to combat the spread of our thought and our struggle,” he warned.

As established by Court Number 11 of Barcelona in 2010, this “thought” and this “fight” imply the crime of spreading genocidal ideas. Varela was imprisoned between December 2010 and March 2012.

In 2016, after a raid on the Nazi bookstore in which the Mossos d’Esquadra seized 15,000 books glorifying genocide, the activist spent a few days on the run until he turned himself in at a police station.

Nazi Pedro Varela attending court in Malaga, Spanish state. (Image sourced: Internet)

He then paid a bail of 30,000 euros and returned to the street. Currently he is awaiting a new trial.

The Prosecutor for Hate Crimes and Discrimination requested 12 years in prison for exaltation, justification and denial of the Holocaust and for crimes of incitement to hatred against Jews, migrants, Muslims and homosexuals, among others, as well as the permanent closure of its business, the Europa bookshop in Barcelona.

“Do not fear prison or persecution”

“Whoever had something interesting to say who has not been in prison for that? Do not fear prison or persecution, because they are medalsto your credit in the afterlife,” he said during the conference on November 6.

The latter was held a few days before he was due to face another trial in Malaga as a result of a complaint made by the Movement against Intolerance directed by Esteban Ibarra.

The prosecutor in this case – which is now pending resolution – requested three and a half years in prison for Varela for the continued crime of incitement to hatred and discrimination as a result of the content of some conferences held in Seville and Malaga.

This was given that his rallies created “an evident feeling of hostility towards the affected groups (African, Muslim or Jewish migrants, basically) that generated an objective dangerous to peaceful coexistence”, affirms the Public Ministry.

In the talk on November 6 in Madrid, Varela returned to raise similar issues. Among other things, he linked the number of migrants to the “increase in rape on the streets of Spain, including Valencia.”

“The Spanish are peaceful people6, almost all of them have a partner, a girlfriend, a family… they have a culture of respect for women, something that does not happen with these immigrants.”7

At another point in his speech, he asserted that “60 million blacks are needed to take the place of 100,000 abortions per year that Spain has.”

He also alleged out that immigrants “go to look for a partner in Spain, and if Spanish women do not decide to become their partner, what is happening happens.”

Varela not only did not hesitate to refer to himself as “National Socialist”, but also claimed the role of the ‘Napola’, the male boarding schools of the Hitler Youth that served as a school for the Nazi elites.

In these centres “they educated them in austerity, order and discipline” and offered them “a sense of mission in life”, according to his interpretation.

He encouraged the founding of “those cells of Christian, white, European men”

“What do we have to do to face this world? We cannot organize the Napola, because they are going to be banned, but yes, you can form a Napola among yourselves, in your family, in your circles of friends.”

“You have to mould the youth, your family, the children and yourselves” – he remarked – “in the character of the Napola kids”.

The Nazi bookseller proclaimed that “resistance must be not only political, ideological and human, but also familial, ethical and religious”, while encouraging his followers to have children and “found those cells of Christian, white and European men who, with respect and good neighbourliness with other races and cultures, prefers to defend his own than to succumb”.

“What Happened at Auschwitz”

He alleged that in Spain there is a “gradual loss of freedom of expression” and condemned the Democratic Memory Law8, which he compared to the German laws against Nazi apology.

“In Germany, as you know, the whole question of what happened, what did not happen or could have happened in Auschwitz is not debatable, it is not debatable,” he indicated. “Any German who claims to defend his own identity is suspicious of Auschwitz.”

In his opinion, “this dictatorship against freedom of expression also exists here. This law of historical memory and cancellation of white culture9 is carried out in all Western countries.”10

He even asserted that the legal persecution against Nazi broadcasting in Germany is a “sword of Damocles that hangs above all Germans so that any possible resistance to the cultural and ethnic invasion of the country does not take place.”

Pedro Varela addressing a fascist meeting in the Spanish state (Image sourced: Internet)


“Where do the transsexuals go?”

His speech was also loaded with transphobia. “I read a very curious joke the other day. – Hey dad, women go to the gynaecologist, right? – Yes. – And do men go to the urologist? – Yes.

And where do transgender people go? – I don’t know, kid, probably to the psychiatrist“. As can be seen in the video, the transphobic joke was followed by laughter and applause from the ultra-rightists who inhabited the room.

“This is of course a joke, because otherwise transgender people are going to sue me.11 Humour is what it is, but that is the biological reality. You can feel whatever you want, but biology says what you are.

You are a man or a woman, or to the urologist or the gynaecologist, you cannot go anywhere else,” he concluded.

COMMENT
by Diarmuid Breatnach

Fascism in Spain, then and now

The first thing to take into account is that unlike anywhere else in Europe, there was no overthrow of fascism in the Spanish State.

A cosmetic job of painting over four decades of the savage Franco dictatorship with pseudo-democracy was managed by the fascist ruling class with all their politicians, senior military and police officers, judges, bishops, bankers and media moguls remaining in place.

The second thing to note is that despite antifascist laws being passed as part of that “Transition” process, fascist glorification continued to be rampant in the Spanish state with fascist salutes and iconography regularly displayed in public and on photographs and video.

Spanish fascists against Catalan independence, Barcelona January 2020. (Image sourced: Internet)

And fascist speeches too, all with impunity. Except in this case, which is why the report states that Varela is one of the few Hitlerites to be tried: not because there are only a few of them but because the State has decided to make Varela an exception to the rule.

Varela complains about the “dictatorship” that he feels being exercised against him and his rhetoric. Fascists always raise the flag of democracy, which they despise, only when they feel unable to use the mailed fist. Once in power, they give democracy to none except their own12.

It’s not a little amusing that the State is trying to close Varela’s fascist bookshop through the court because they closed Basque social centres, newspapers and social media sites merely be decree and even when their own Constitutional Court made them recant, are yet to pay a cent in compensation.

Hollocaust denial is one pretty frequent plank in the fascist platform, wherever in the world it is erected.

This too is curious, in a way because in the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis and other fascists boasted about what they were doing, in particular to the Jews in Germany, Austria and in Occupied Europe.

True, they did not admit publicly to the mass exterminations but all the rest of it, expropriations, mass round-ups, concentration camps were no secret and they corresponded among themselves and reported to authority about the rest – the story the photos, film and survivors told the world later.

Vulnerability of the fascist male ego

Varela’s worries about Spanish women’s vulnerability to men of migrant background is another area of irony, given the problem of Spanish gender violence (see below).

Whilst there have been prominent female fascists, historically the cult of the superior male has been prominent in most fascist movements. Indeed Hitler’s Nazis proclaimed the correct areas for women’s activity to be “kinder, kuche und kirke” (‘children, kitchen and church’).

Most fascist movements and organisations have denounced homosexuality and many gays and lesbians have been killed by them, including an estimated 60% fatalities of the 50-60,000 sent to concentration camps by Nazi German courts.

In their hetero-sexual male insecurity, fascists and other racists often fear “their” women being attracted to other men, specifically to men of other ethnic groups13.

Conversely, fascists regularly see themselves as the “defenders” of “helpless females” while simultaneously detesting any exhibition of female independence or assertiveness.

Those circumstances encourage acts of rape and other sexual violence towards women: last year in the Spanish state 37 women died in violence by men and 46 the previous year.

People still remember the “Manada” (‘wolf-pack’) case where five men videoed themselves raping a young woman whom they left in a doorway after they stole her mobile phone. Although it occurred in the Basque province of Navarra, all the assailants were Spanish.

What’s more, one was a Spanish policeman while the other was military and some had previously videoed themselves in a van with an unconscious woman, talking about their intentions. The “Manada” was the name of a WhatsApp group of which they were members.

Historical memory and mass graves

Many people hope that changes in Spanish law, such as the Law of Historical Memory in 2007 and more recent practical steps herald a coming to terms with the state’s fascist past.

Some mass graves of fascist victims have been exhumed and removal Franco’s remains in October 2029 and projected removal of Primo de Rivera’s from their mausoleum in the Valle de Los Caidios gives hope to some14.

The remains of General Queipo de Llano, believed personally responsible for the execution of poet and dramatist Garcia Federico Lorca in 1936, were removed from the La Macarena basilica in Seville on 2nd November this year.

Postcard of fascist General Queipo de Llano, whose remains were exhumed recently from the Macarena Basilica and reinterred in a family cemetery recently. (Image sourced: Internet)

After Cambodia, the Spanish state remains the one with most mass graves in the world and the majority of those have not been exhumed15. The names of fascists still decorate streets and, as noted earlier, fascist events continue with public displays of fascist affiliation.

The fascist political party Vox continues in existence with currently 52 (out of 250) members of the Congress (lower house) of the Spanish Parliament.

There exists a deep fascist pool which has reflected at various times the political parties Partido Popular, Ciudadanos and now Vox with the votes of the pool being divided among those parties according to the wishes of the day.

As is usually the case, Spanish fascism is combined with a reactionary ‘nationalism’ of a unitary Spain based on Castille and León but including all its current territories.

They tack on to that a fictional concept of Spain with Flamenco in Andalusia and holidays in the Balearics and Canaries but seek the suppression of any national self-determination.

The Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia have all historically declared for self-determination but all three were murderously suppressed during the Civil War and the Dictatorship, with the former two suffering heavy repression in the post-Franco ‘democratic’ Spain.

Any move towards self-determination in those nations stirs a fascist hornet’s nest to venomous buzzing and threats.

Overall, the signs are not favourable for a future Spanish state cleansed of fascism – at any rate not by moderate and peaceful means.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1See the Comment section on this question.

2A variation of the “white replacement” irrational anxiety of racists.

316 Days of activism against gender-based violence:16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign held every year. It begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until December 10, Human Rights Day. It is ironic, to say the least, for fascists to locate their events within this framework.

4Left wing on-line Spanish newspaper.

5From the perspective of fascists and far-right in the Spanish state, that on-line newspaper may seem “extreme Left” but although on the Left it is not even revolutionary.

6Oblivious to past and more recent history, obviously!

7See the Comment section on this question.

8The main provisions of the law are:[5]

  • Recognition of the victims of political, religious and ideological violence on both sides of the Spanish Civil War and of Franco’s State.
  • Condemnation of the Francoist State
  • Prohibition of political events at the Valley of the Fallen – Franco’s former burial place.
  • The removal of objects which exalt the July 1936 coupcivil war and Francoist repression from public buildings and spaces. Exceptions may be given for artistic or architectural reasons, or in the case of religious spaces.
  • State help in the tracing, identification and eventual exhumation of victims of Francoist repression whose corpses are still missing, often buried in mass graves.
  • The granting of Spanish nationality to surviving members of the International Brigades, without requiring them to renounce their own nationalities.
  • Rejection of the legitimacy of laws passed and trials conducted by the Francoist State.
  • Temporary change to Spanish nationality law, granting the right of return and de origen citizenship to those who left Spain under Franco for political or economic reasons, and their descendants.
  • Provision of aid to the victims and descendants of victims of the Civil War and the Francoist State.

9To Varela, there is such a thing as “white culture”, which will be a surprise at least to, let’s say Irish, Basque and Russians.

10See the Comment section on this question.

11See the Comment section on this question.

12And not even to their own, on occasion, as with the violent suppression of the whole leadership of the Browshirts by the Gestapo in The Night of the Long Knives 30th June-2 July 1934 in Germany.

13This has been nowhere more observable perhaps than in the ‘Deep Southern’ states of the USA, where black men were regularly lynched for alleged rape of white women without any proof. Conversely, the evidence of rape of black women in the same area during and after slavery is legion.

14Franco was the fascist dictator of four decades and Primo de Rivera was the founder of the fascist Falange, executed by the Spanish Republic.

15Holding the remains of an estimated 100,000 men and women.

SOURCES & REFERENCES

Original Público report: (El librero nazi Pedro Varela arremete contra ‘Público’ durante un nuevo alarde supremacista y tránsfobo | Público (publico.es) by Danilo Albin)

Cuéntame/ Remember When series: Cuéntame cómo pasó – Wikipedia

Thousands demonstrate in Spain to end violence against women | Reuters

La Manada rape case – Wikipedia

Historical Memory Law – Wikipedia

NOT “LA QUINTA” — THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADE WAS THE FIFTEENTH

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time main text: 2 mins.)

We see and often hear “viva la Quinta Brigada” but this is usually a mistake – the reference is not to the Fifth but to the 15th International Brigade. The word for fifteen in Spanish is “quince”1 whereas “quinta” means “fifth”. The brigade being referred to, the Fifteenth International Brigade, was one formed at the instigation of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1936 from volunteers from more than 55 countries2.

The estimates of numbers of participants in the International Brigades range from 40,000 to 59,000 with a death toll of around 10,0003 and of course many more injured.

Not all the Irish-born and Irish diaspora antifascists who fought4 in what is called the Spanish Antifascist (or Civil) War fought in the 15th Brigade5 but most of them did, whether in the British, Commonwealth or US Battalions (“Abraham Lincoln” and “Washington”, later combined), chiefly because these were the English-speaking battalions of the 15th International Brigade, which also included specific battalions for French, German, Italian, Spanish (from Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America) Czechoslovak, Hungarian and Polish languages6.

International Brigaders crossing the Ebro for the battle. The one in the bows of the boat appears to be Irish communist Michael O’Riordan, carrying the Senyera, the recognised Catalan flag of its time (red and yellow stripes without a star). O’Riordan survived the Civil War and returned to Ireland to lead the Communist Party of Ireland. (Image sourced: Internet)

The familiar songs in English were always about the 15th International Brigade, no other. So why and how has this mistake arisen of referring to the 5th?

The chief transmission of this error in recent time has been through that song with the wonderful lyrics and air created by the Irish balladeer and most famous folk performer, Christy Moore.

And he called his song “Viva La Quinta Brigada”. Recorded and performed under that title, with numerous videos repeating the error, even though he has himself corrected the reference in later performances.7 And in fact there are a number of Quinta Brigada versions of the Ay Carmela song on Youtube. So we can hardly blame all those people who are now singing the incorrect version, can we?

But before we arraign Comrade Christy Moore before a People’s Tribunal, it’s worth looking at the longer process of the error’s transmission. In fact, the incorrect wording was around long before Christy composed his song and it almost certainly informed his lyrics.

TRACING THE ERROR: THE AY CARMELA SONG AND SPIN-OFF

I remember thinking one time, when I became aware of the error in the title and refrain, that Christy should have consulted some Spanish-speaking people in Ireland. But I and my siblings are all Spanish-speaking and I recall even some of us singing a different song with a repeated line: Viva la Quinta Brigada, rumba la rumba la rumba la.

We were Spanish-speaking, yes and very sympathetic to the Republican side in that war — but at that time clearly not clued enough historically to detect the error,

That Rumba la rumba etc was a song in Spanish from the Republican side in the Civil/ Antifascist War, itself a spin-off or readaptation of a Spanish folk song about the crossing of the Ebro against Napoleonic troops in the 1800s. In this case the adaptation was fashioned to record the Republican forces’ crossing of the same river in attack on the advancing military-fascist forces in 1938.

The Battle of the Ebro was the largest ever fought on Spanish soil and lasted from 25th July to 16th November. The International Brigade song to the same air is generally known as Ay Manuela! and clearly refers to the International Brigade, not only by the lyrics in the final verse but by its alternative title, Viva La Quince Brigada!

Somewhere along the line someone made the error of replacing the Quince with Quinta. And so when Christy came to write his wonderful tribute to the Irish who went to the Spanish territory to fight against the fascist-military coup, the mistaken name had already been current for decades.

Re-enactment with partipants playing the parts of soldiers of the Spanish Republic advancing in the Battle of the Ebro. (Image sourced: Internet)

CORRECTING IT NOW

So no-one to blame for repeating the error and whoever caused it originally is long in the past. But we are here now and we know – so we have a responsibility not to perpetuate the error. We can do this quite simply in three ways:

  • Call the song “Viva la Quince8 Brigada” on all occasions
  • If we sing it, replace Quinta with Quince in the lyrics
  • Inform others about the correct version

End.

FOOTNOTES

1Fifteenth is “decimoquinta” in Castillian (Spanish) but, that being five syllables and therefore three too long for the song, “quince” (fifteen) must be sung instead.

2One of the many sources gives the figure of “55 Countries” but that probably means “55 states” and a number of states such as the UK, France, Belgium and Russia in Europe contain other nations, as do China, states in the Middle East, etc. In addition, many Jews also fought, one estimate putting them at one-quarter of the total of the “Brigadistas”.

3The very high casualty rate had a number of contributory factors but chief among them was the superiority of war-machines on the fascist-military side, in particular of aircraft, most of which were supplied, with pilots, by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, while Britain and France blockaded Spain.

4Some served as paramedics also.

5Some fought as part of the POUM, largely Trotskyist antifascist organisation or may have fought in anarchist militia and one that we know of fought alongside the Basques (and gave his life there).

6There were other language groups but their numbers did not usually rate a whole battalion and they were integrated into battalions primarily of some other language.

7And even later still, amended the historically incorrect “the bishops blessed the Blueshirts in Dun Laoghaire

8Pronunciation guide for Quince: keen-the or keen-se.

9I’ve translated Ay! as Oh! but it’s more like Alas!, only hard to see that in the song’s context perhaps.

10I’ve translated Ay as Oh but it’s more like Alas, only hard to see that in the song’s context perhaps.

11The “Moors” were native North African troops raised by Spain’s Foreign Legion. Franco had been sent there by the Republican Government probably to get him out of the way after his ferocious suppression of the Asturias miners’ revolt. From there Franco’s troops were airlifted to the Canary Islands and from there to Andalucia in southern Spain, carving their way in the blood of mostly unarmed civilians.

SOURCES

The original Ay Carmela/ Viva la Quince Brigada song: ¡Ay Carmela! (song) – Wikipedia

Lyrics of the original Viva La Quince Brigada as sung by Pete Seeger: Pete Seeger – Viva la Quince Brigada Lyrics | Lyrics.com

The 15th International Brigades: International Brigades – Wikipedia

Battle of the Ebro – Wikipedia

APPENDIX – THE SONGS

Ay Carmela – Spanish Republican version

Ay Carmela

El Ejército del Ebro,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la.
El Ejército del Ebro,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la
Una noche el río pasó,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!
Una noche el río pasó,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!

The Army of the Ebro, rumba la rumba la, rumba la etc
One night crossed the river, Oh9 Carmela, Oh Carmela!

Y a las tropas invasoras,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la.
Y a las tropas invasoras,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la
Buena paliza les dio,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!
Buena paliza les dio,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!

And to the invading troops rumba la rumba la, rumba la etc
Gave a good beating, Oh Carmela, Oh Carmela!

El furor de los traidores,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la.
El furor de los traidores,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la
Lo descarga su aviaciónes,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!
Lo descarga su aviaciónes,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!

The fury of the traitors, rumba la rumba la, rumba la etc
Is dropped from their ‘planes, Oh Carmela, Oh Carmela!

Pero nada pueden bombas,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la.
Pero nada pueden bombas,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la
Donde sobra corazón,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!
Donde sobra corazón,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!

But bombs have no power, rumba la rumba la, rumba la etc
Where exists excess of heart, Oh Carmela, Oh Carmela!

Contraataques muy rabiosos,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la.
Contraataques muy rabiosos,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la
Deberemos resistir,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!
Deberemos resistir,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!

Ferocious counterattacks, rumba la rumba la, rumba la etc
We must resist, Oh Carmela, Oh Carmela!

Pero igual que combatimos,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la.
Pero igual que combatimos,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la
Prometemos resistir,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!
Prometemos resistir,
¡Ay Carmela! ¡Ay Carmela!

But as we fight, rumba la rumba la, rumba la etc
We promise to resist, Oh10 Carmela, Oh Carmela!

Ay Manuela!/ Viva La Quince BrigadaInternational Brigades version in Spanish

Viva la quince brigada,
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Viva la quince brigada,
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Que sea cubierta de gloria
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela!
Que sea cubierta de gloria
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela!

Long live the fifteen(th) Brigade
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc
May it be covered in glory,
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc.

Luchamos contra los moros
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Luchamos contra los moros
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Mercenarios y fascistas
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela
Mercenarios y fascistas
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela

We fight against the Moors11
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc
Mercenaries and fascists.
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc,

En el frente de Jarama
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
En el frente de Jarama
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
No tenemos ni aviones
Ni tanques ni camiones
Ay Manuela!
No tenemos ni aviones
Ni tanques ni camiones
Ay Manuela!

On the Jarama front
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc
We have neither planes, tanks or lorries,
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc

Ya salimos de España
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Ya salimos de España
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Pa luchar en otros frentes
Ay Manuela ay manuela
Pa luchar en otros frentes
Ay Manuela ay manuela.

Now we are leaving Spain
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc
To fight on other fronts
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc

Viva la quince brigada,
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Viva la quince brigada,
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la-,
Que sea cubierta de gloria
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela
Que sea cubierta de gloria
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela.

Long live the fifteen(th) Brigade
-Rumba, la rumba, la rumba, la etc
May it be covered in glory,
Oh Manuela, Oh Manuela! etc

Viva La Quince Brigada!
Lyrics and musical arrangement by Christy Moore.

Ten years before I saw the light of morning
A comradeship of heroes was laid:
From every corner of the world came sailing
The Fifteenth International Brigade.

They came to stand beside the Spanish people
To try and stem the rising fascist tide;
Franco’s allies were the powerful and wealthy –
Frank Ryan’s men came from the other side.

Even the olives were bleeding
As the battle for Madrid it thundered on,
Truth and love against the force of evil
Brotherhood against the fascist clan.

(Chorus)
Viva la Quince Brigada!
No Pasarán“, the pledge that made them fight
Adelante!” is the cry around the hillside
Let us all remember them tonight.

Bob Hilliard was a Church of Ireland pastor,
From Killarney across the Pyrenees he came;
From Derry came a brave young Christian Brother,
Side by side they fought and died in Spain.
Tommy Woods, age seventeen died in Cordoba,
With Na Fianna he learned to hold his gun,
From Dublin to the Villa del Rio,
Where he fought and died beneath the blazing sun.

(Chorus)
Viva la Quince Brigada!
No Pasarán“, the pledge that made them fight
Adelante!” is the cry around the hillside
Let us all remember them tonight.

Many Irishmen heard the call of Franco,
Joined Hitler and Mussolini too;
Propaganda from the pulpit and newspapers
Helped O’Duffy to enlist his crew.
The word came from Maynooth, “support the Nazis” –
The men of cloth failed again,
When the Bishops blessed the Blueshirts down in Galway
As they sailed beneath the swastika to Spain.

(Chorus)
Viva la Quince Brigada!
No Pasarán“, the pledge that made them fight
Adelante!” is the cry around the hillside
Let us all remember them tonight.

This song is a tribute to Frank Ryan
Kit Conway and Dinny Coady too
Peter Daly, Charlie Regan and Hugh Bonar,
Though many died I can but name a few:
Danny Boyle, Blaser-Brown and Charlie Donnelly,
Liam Tumilson and Jim Straney from the Falls,
Jack Nalty, Tommy Patton and Frank Conroy,
Jim Foley, Tony Fox and Dick O’Neill.

(Chorus)
Viva la Quince Brigada!
No Pasarán“, the pledge that made them fight
Adelante!” is the cry around the hillside
Let us all remember them tonight.

The British Royal Family and its contribution to humanity

Delighted to repost with thanks another contribution to recent discussion of the British monarchy — delayed by technological difficulties.

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

11 September 2022

The British monarch Elizabeth Windsor, formerly Saxe Coburg Gotha, has died at the grand old age of 96, thanks in no small part to the subsidised lifestyle and medical care she enjoyed throughout her long life.  Her death has produced the usual outpouring of manufactured grief from the media and also “genuine” grief from a sector of that population groomed by that same media.

But what is to be said of her passing?  There has been some reaction to her death that concentrated on her being a mother and grandmother.  But we were not invited to mourn the passing of mothers or grandmothers, but the death of a monarch and all that monarchy represented.  So, before we look at the legacy of Elizabeth Windsor we should ask ourselves what is monarchy.  The Irish revolutionary James Connolly, executed by the British state under the reign of George V, stated in relation to that same king’s visit to Ireland.

What is monarchy? From whence does it derive its sanction? What has been its gift to humanity? Monarchy is a survival of the tyranny imposed by the hand of greed and treachery upon the human race in the darkest and most ignorant days of our history. It derives its only sanction from the sword of the marauder, and the helplessness of the producer, and its gifts to humanity are unknown, save as they can be measured in the pernicious examples of triumphant and shameless iniquities.(1)

In this, Connolly only described monarchies in general as the most ignorant and backward manifestations of humanity.  It is a point that bourgeois revolutionaries such as Rousseau and Voltaire would not have disagreed with.  In fact, it was a standard capitalist argument for much of history.  However, various capitalist nations hung on to their royal households, either as symbolic figures or as propaganda figures for their campaigns and conquests.

Much is now made of the contribution of Mrs Windsor to society, the arts, and even peace through her now celebrated handshake with Martin McGuinness, though who gave more in that handshake is not questioned.  Connolly was very clear about the contribution of monarchies to the progress of society.

Every class in society save royalty, and especially British royalty, has through some of its members contributed something to the elevation of the species. But neither in science, nor in art, nor in literature, nor in exploration, nor in mechanical invention, nor in humanizing of laws, nor in any sphere of human activity has a representative of British royalty helped forward the moral, intellectual or material improvement of mankind. But that royal family has opposed every forward move, fought every reform, persecuted every patriot, and intrigued against every good cause. Slandering every friend of the people, it has befriended every oppressor. Eulogized today by misguided clerics, it has been notorious in history for the revolting nature of its crimes.(2)

Connolly had no truck with royalty.  No time for tales of cute old grannies who shook the hands of erstwhile enemies.  Any evaluation of the queen of the British state has to go beyond her supposed personal qualities. Criticisms of royals are not well received.  When the then British diplomat and future Irish revolutionary, Roger Casement, exposed the atrocities of the Belgium king Leopold II in Congo and his mass murder of over ten million Congolese, the report was not well received initially and the descendants of the man who murdered more than Hitler are the actual monarchs in Belgium and are apparently a lovely couple and third cousins of Mrs. Windsor.  Discussions about royalty are not about the individual qualities of the monarchs but the system as such.  Though even on this point Mrs. Windsor comes a cropper.

In 1972 the British army murdered 14 civilians in Derry on what was to be the last Civil Rights march in the country.  The British quickly engaged in a cover up which basically blamed those murdered as having been armed members of the IRA.  Everyone now accepts that this was not true.  Even the Saville Inquiry which stopped short of blaming the British state directly for the murders accepted they were all unarmed civilians.  But Elizabeth Windsor nonetheless decorated Lt Colonel Derek Wilford, the man in charge on the day and has never apologised for that.  Her role in this is often forgotten.

So, any question of looking at the death of Elizabeth Windsor cannot be ahistorical.  Though Sinn Féin have issued statements that are breath taking in their servility.  The Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald tweeted.

To the Royal Family and all who mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth, especially Irish Unionists, I extend sincere sympathy. She lived a long, full life. In her lifetime relationships between our countries were changed and changing. I salute her contribution to this transformation.(3)

She is of course, referring to the Peace Process and her handshake with Martin McGuinness. This says more about Sinn Féin than it does about Elizabeth Windsor.  As a monarch she never had a problem dealing with people she saw as her inferiors, or those bowed in deference to her.  Michele O’ Neill was equally effusive about the queen acknowledging the apparently profound sorrow of Unionists.  And added that.

Having met Queen Elizabeth on a number of occasions alongside my colleague, the late Martin McGuinness, I appreciated both her warmth and courtesy.(4)

Her courtesy is a diplomatic ploy, as for her warmth that is not the image given in any of her public engagements, not even when greeting her son Charles after a long trip.  The poor kid did not get a hug, he was made genuflect.  But we can take O’Neill’s word for it.  It is not important.  Neither her courtesy or alleged warmth are political evaluations.  Whether we should mourn a monarch does not depend on such personal qualities.  Henry Kissinger the Butcher of Cambodia and Chile comes across as an affable, even charming old man, and he may well be in real life, but that is not how we judge him.  Likewise, George Bush the Lesser (as Arundhati Roy dubbed him) also comes across as likeable, though it would be hard to convince the dead of Iraq that this mattered one jot: it doesn’t.

The press coverage of her death and much of the commentaries indicate that there is clear obfuscation on the part of the press and ignorance on the part of the population about the nature of the English royal family and the role of Elizabeth Windsor as queen.  One of the myths is that she is just a mere figurehead, with little or no power.  It is true that most power rests with Parliament and the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.  But she has powers that she has exercised from time to time.  She has instructed governors of overseas territories not to sign laws. In 1975, through John Kerr, her governor general in Australia, she dismissed the then prime minister Gough Whitlam.(5)  It was a rarely used power, but it exists as do other powers she never had to invoke, like her control over the military.  She has invoked the Queen’s Consent more frequently to prevent parliament discussing Bills she was not happy with.  She also was the last port of call for those sentenced to death, when capital punishment was still on the statute book.

In the 1950s three Greek Cypriots were sentenced to death, Michalaki Karaolis, Andreas Dimitriou and Evagora Pallikaridis.  The last of these was a particularly notable case.  Pallikardis confessed under torture to carrying weapons.  His lawyers pleaded to Elizabeth Windsor for clemency.  She refused.  The warmth that Sinn Féin leader O’ Neill felt was not on display for the 18-year-old, nor was she the loveable old grandmother that others have referred to.  Likewise, the other two were also hanged.  On the rare occasions that she has had to exercise power she has shown herself to be of the same pedigree as her blood thirsty forebears who raped and pillaged their way across the planet.

She never spoke out about the situation in Kenya and the Mau Mau rebellion, which kicked off early in her reign.  The Pipeline, as it was known, that the British set up in Kenya was a camp system in which prisoners were moved up and down it according to the degree of torture that was required to break them.  That matter was raised in Parliament at the time by some Labour MPs.  The prisoners even managed to smuggle out letters to MPs and other officials, amongst them Elizabeth Windsor.(6)  She knew what was happening.  She was fully aware.  She exercised no powers to bring an end to it.  She just didn’t talk about it publicly, ever.  It was not the only situation that she kept quiet about.  Her relationship with the issue of race has never been a good one.  She negotiated exemptions to racial and sexual discrimination laws and employs very few non-whites.

In 1990 the journalist Andrew Morton reported in the Sunday Times that “a black face has never graced the executive echelons of royal service – the household and officials” and “even among clerical and domestic staff, there is only a handful of recruits from ethnic minorities”.

The following year, the royal researcher Philip Hall published a book, Royal Fortune, in which he cited a source close to the Queen confirming that there were no non-white courtiers in the palace’s most senior ranks.(7)

In her Christmas speeches she tended to talk of banal matters and family.  However, she did wade into politics some times and these speeches, unlike the speeches when she opens Parliament, are hers.

In her Christmas speech of 1972, she referred to various situations around the world and also the North of Ireland.  Her take on it was simple.

We know only too well that a selfish insistence upon our rights and our own point of view leads to disaster. We all ought to know by now that a civilised and peaceful existence is only possible when people make the effort to understand each other.(8)

Exactly who was selfishly insisting on their rights was not explicitly spelt out, but it was obvious that she didn’t mean the British state, but uppity Paddies and others around the world.  This was made clear when in 1973 she awarded an OBE to Lt Col Wilford, the officer in charge of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972.  The families of those murdered and injured on that day called upon her to apologise.(9)  She did not do so.  The nearest she came to it was a banal statement on history during a visit to Ireland in 2011 when she stated “It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss… with the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we wish had been done differently, or not at all.”(10)  She did not accept Britain’s actual role in that and there was no specific reference to the Bloody Sunday massacre.

There is no shortage of sycophants and royalists who claim she had no powers, when in fact, she did as her son Charles now has.  Others have preferred to go the route of she didn’t do it, it was others.  Not quite true.  She did preside over the dying days of Empire and gave succour to the troops busy murdering and torturing people in places she liked to visit on the Royal Yacht. But the many atrocities committed before she acceded to the throne are also hers.  The Irish revolutionary James Connolly said of the visit to Ireland of one of her predecessors in the role.

We will not blame him for the crimes of his ancestors if he relinquishes the royal rights of his ancestors; but as long as he claims their rights, by virtue of descent, then, by virtue of descent, he must shoulder the responsibility for their crimes.(11)

And she did claim them.  One of her other forays into matters of Empire was her Christmas speech of 1982.

Earlier this year in the South Atlantic the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy enabled our sailors, soldiers and airmen to go to the rescue of the Falkland Islanders 8,000 miles across the ocean; and to reveal the professional skills and courage that could be called on in defence of basic freedoms.(12)

It should be remembered that Britain gained control of the Malvinas in a colonial war, in 1833, against the newly independent Argentina.  In 1982, what was at stake was mineral wealth in the sea.  She, like Thatcher, rejoiced at the sinking of the General Belgrano ship, lest we forget that those who now joke about her death are not that far removed from her own sense of mourning people she sees as enemies of her dwindling Empire.  She had no sense of shame. In 1990, following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iraq she stated without any sense of irony that

The invasion of Kuwait was an example on an international scale of an evil which has beset us at different levels in recent years – attempts by ruthless people to impose their will on the peaceable majority.(13)

This was the queen of a country that had imposed itself on more of humanity than any other previous empire had ever done.  Of course, Hussein had been a friend of Britain.  In 1953, the CIA and the British overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran, which had nationalised the oil industry dealing a blow to the Anglo Persian Oil Company, now known as B.P.  This set in motion a chain of events that would see Britain install another royal, the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi whose despotic rule would lead to the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  Enter Saddam.  He launched a brutal and bloody war against Iran, invading it in 1980.  The war lasted 8 years and cost 500,000 lives.  It was bankrolled by the west through the Saudis.  There was no one claiming that he had imposed his will, nor were British troops sent to attack this important ally.

Part of her role is that of cheerleader for empire and war.  British troops serve under her, not Parliament.  They are called upon to serve Queen/King and country and a major part of her role is to encourage young men (and lately women) to throw their lives away in places like Iraq as part of imperial exercises in power and the theft of natural resources.

It is also laughable that the English monarch talks of the peaceable majority when Britain is one of the major arms manufacturers and exporters in the world, supplying despots around the world with the necessary wherewithal to keep local populations in line.  Her own son Andrew was appointed Special Representative for International Trade and Investment for the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) in 2001 and in that role he promoted arms sales.  When he was forced by circumstances surrounding his role in the abuse of young girls alongside Jeffrey Epstein to step back from a public role, Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade commented that:

The news that Prince Andrew will step back from Royal duties is unlikely to provoke feelings of sorrow or regret for most British citizens – but for despots, dictatorships and arms dealers around the world it will be a sad day. They have lost one of their most high profile and influential supporters.(14)

During Mrs. Windsor’s reign Britain exported almost 135 billion (in current prices for each year) of arms and is the fourth largest exporter of arms in the world.(15)  Some British companies with operations outside of Britain also export arms.  These figures do not include what Britain manufactures for its own armed forces or what it buys from other countries.

Remarkably even feminists in Britain and Ireland have publicly lamented the death of Mrs. Windsor ignoring her role in her son’s abuse of young girls.  What little action she took against him was due to public outcry and pressure helped along by a disastrous interview in which his sense of entitlement oozed out of the pores he claims not to sweat from.  She also forked out part of the money that was paid as part of the settlement with Virginia Guiffre, one of his and Epstein’s victims, though her part could not be used directly to pay the victim but only for the part that went to charities.(16)  Not a minor point for feminists, you would have thought.  Nonetheless, they lament the death of the loving mother and grandmother. One who showed none of the warmth Sinn Féin claim she shows.

Monarchies are inherently reactionary, even without the atrocities committed by them or in their name.  They are hereditary positions occupied by parasites living off the public purse.  A lavish funeral and later coronation of Charles will be held, costing millions of pounds.  Other old grandmothers will go hungry this winter or die of hypothermia as energy prices soar, a fate Elizabeth did not face and neither will Charles.  The old grandmothers around England, who will die of hypothermia this year, through their taxes ensure that Charles will see the winter through, unless a horse-riding accident upsets his plans.  Monarchy is all that is rotten in society, the sycophantic outpouring of fake grief is of a people who do not seek a better society, who are enthralled to their masters and their betters, those who bow down to the great and the good.  But it was again James Connolly who had said “the great appear great because we are on our knees, let us rise!”

The idea of rising off our knees has been abandoned by most.  Sinn Féin is lavish in its praise for her, one of the political and cultural shifts that results from the Good Friday Agreement.  The rot has even spread to their friends in Colombia.  Timochenko the former FARC guerrilla leader tweeted his condolences to the people of Great Britain and also mentioned that handshake with McGuinness.(17)  Britain’s trade unions through the TUC have also bowed down to the royals.  The ideological role of the Windsors in class conflict is ignored.  Even the otherwise militant RMT has called off strikes planned for September 15th and 17th.  There was a time calling for the abolishment of the monarchy was a no brainer for progressives.  In the 1980s Arthur Scargill made just that call and when questioned as to what the royals would do then, he replied, “they can work in Sainsburys”.  Though some of them have pilots licences, maybe they can do the Gatwick – Dublin route with Ryanair.

Those who mourn Elizabeth Windsor are complicit in what she represents: privilege, war, torture, racism.  There are no ifs or buts to that.  It is as Robespierre said, “The King must die so the country can live”.  It is time to abolish the monarchy and throw onto the putrid rubbish pile of history all that it represents and Charles and William can, as Scargill suggested, get a job and sycophants can go back to worrying about Madonna or Beyoncé.

Notes

(1) Connolly, J. (1910) Visit of King George V https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1911/xx/visitkng.htm

(2) Ibíd.,

(3) See https://twitter.com/MaryLouMcDonald/status/1567945861354909696

(4) See https://twitter.com/moneillsf/status/1567931690873503744?s=20&t=nKj7EgPfa0WHJ6PEPdwQgQ

(5) The Guardian (14/07/2020) Gough Whitlam dismissal: what we know so far about the palace letters and Australian PM’s sacking
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/14/what-we-know-so-far-about-the-palace-letters-and-the-dismissal-of-australian-prime-miister-ough-whitlams-dism

(6) See Elkins, C. (2005) Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. New York. Henry Holt and Company. paras 20.48 & 26.48

(7) The Guardian (02/06/2021) Buckingham Palace banned ethnic minorities from office roles, papers reveal https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jun/02/buckingham-palace-banned-ethnic-minorities-from-office-roles-papers-reveal

(8) Queen’s Christmas speech 1990 https://www.royal.uk/christmas-broadcast-1972

(9) The Irish Independent (31/01/1998) Royal apology would help right Derry ‘insult’ https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/royal-apology-would-help-right-derry-insult-26200165.html

(10) The Irish Examiner (19/05/2022) The Queen’s Speech https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-20155083.html

(11) Connolly, J. (1910) op. cit.

(12) Queen’s Christmas speech 1982 https://www.royal.uk/christmas-broadcast-1982

(13) Queen’s Christmas speech 1990 https://www.royal.uk/christmas-broadcast-1990

(14) Smith, A. (21/11/2019) With Prince Andrew in retirement, it’s a bad week for despots and dictators https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/prince-andrew-step-back-interview-arms-trade-jeffrey-epstein-gaddafi-a9212841.html

(15) Figures taken from https://www.sipri.org

(16) Time Magazine (17/02/2022) Who’s Paying Prince Andrew’s $16 Million Settlement to Virginia Giuffre? What to Know About Royal Finances https://time.com/6149123/prince-andrew-settlement-virginia-giuffre-royal-finances/

(17) See https://twitter.com/TimoComunes/status/1568243032679497728

Sinn Féin and their Queen’s Funeral

One of number of pieces on the recent media fest in relation to English monarchy delighted to be able to repost here with thanks.

Irish Dissent

The intensively mediated death of Elizabeth Windsor, accompanied by the relentlessly maudlin and invasive coverage of official mourning and her funeral, had an intensity that can only be described as imperial. Forced as it was into every corner of public discourse, this coercive atmosphere of state sorrow had a distinctly colonising thrust and meaning. Unleashed during a moment of total class warfare within her very disunited kingdom, it also marked an endpoint in the trajectory of her most obedient servants: the formerly Irish but now thoroughly British political party, Sinn Féin.  During Windsor’s reign colonial chickens came home to roost as the woman who presided over British forces while they rampaged across the six counties of British-occupied Ireland then became over the past decade and a half the queen of foodbanks in her own country. (1)  Her reign spanned a long period during which overt political violence in Ireland was…

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THE BLOOD-RED POPPY – NOT AT ALL ABOUT REMEMBRANCE

PART I

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Edited from a longer in-depth piece published in 2014 and divided into parts).

(Reading time main text: 8 mins.)

The dominant class in the UK and in some of the British Commonwealth will shortly be calling people to join in a cultural festival which they call “Remembrance” – but that’s not at all what it’s really about.

The organisation fronting this festival in the ‘UK’ is the Royal British Legion and their symbol for it (and registered trademark) is the Red Poppy, paper or fabric representations of which people are encouraged to buy and wear.

And in some places, such as the BBC for personnel in front of the camera, or civil servants in public, or sports people representing the UK, forced or bullied into wearing.1

In many schools and churches throughout the ‘UK’, Poppies are sold and wreaths are laid at monuments to the dead soldiers in many different places. The pressure to wear and display one of the symbols is intense and public figures declining to do so are metaphorically pilloried2.

Prominent individuals, politicians and the media take part in a campaign to encourage the wearing of the Poppy and observance of the day of remembrance generally and for a decade now, to extend the Festival for a yet longer period.

This alleged “Festival of Remembrance” includes concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and the military and veterans’ parades to the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, London, on “Remembrance Sunday”.

The Royal Albert Hall concert is replete with military uniforms, British Royals’ presence and “Poppy” symbols everywhere. The big Saturday evening concert starts and ends with the UK state’s anthem, God Save the Queen/ King played by military bands.

Tickets for the big event are restricted to members of the Legion and their families, and senior members of the British Royal Family (the reigning monarch, royal consort, Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex). The event is televised.3

BUT WHAT IS IT ALL FOR?

We are told it’s for charitable purposes – the money raised from the sale of the “Poppies” and associated merchandise is to be used to support former military service people in need and the families of those killed in conflict.

We surely can’t object to that, can we? And isn’t putting up with the military and royal pomp a small price to pay for such charitable and worthwhile purposes?

Yet the main purpose of this festival and the symbol is neither remembrance nor charity but rather the exact opposite: to gloss over the realities of organised deadly violence on a massive scale, to make us forget the experience of the world’s people of war.

Worse, its purpose is to prepare the ground for recruitment of more people for the next war or armed imperialist venture – and of course more premature deaths and injuries, including those of soldiers taking part.

Video and song by Vincent Burke, “On Remembrance Day” from Veterans for Peace lists British conflicts (including Ireland) and condemns the Church of England for supporting the wars, calling also on people to wear the White Poppy.
The Veterans for Peace at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall in 2014. Jim Radford, singer and D-Day veteran had been there for the first of the VfP Remembrance Day events and every year since until Covid-19 got him. He was a friend and comrade of mine and I marched with the civilian supporters of VfP contingent in

PARTIAL REMEMBRANCE – obscuring the perpetrators and the realities of war

The Royal British Legion is the overall organiser of the Festival of Remembrance and has the sole legal ‘UK’ rights to use the Poppy trademark and to distribute the fabric or paper poppies in the ‘UK’.

According to the organisation’s website, “As Custodian of Remembrance” one of the Legion’s two main purposes is to “ensure the memories of those who have fought and sacrificed in the British Armed Forces live on through the generations.”4

By their own admission, the purpose of the Legion’s festival is to perpetuate the memories only of those who fought and sacrificed in the British Armed Forces – it is therefore only a very partial (in both senses of the word) remembrance.

It is left to others to commemorate the dead in the armies of the British Empire and colonies which the British ruling class called to its support: in WWI, over 230,500 non-‘UK’ dead soldiers from the Empire and, of course, the ‘UK’ figure of 888,246 includes the upper figure of 49,400 Irish dead.5

Cossack soldier volunteers WWI. Imperial Russia was an ally of Britain and France; the war was on of the causes of the Russian Socialist Revolution 1917. The following year, the war ended. (Photo sourced: Internet)

The Festival of Remembrance excludes not only the dead soldiers of the British Empire and of its colonies but also those of Britain’s allies: France, Belgium, Imperial Russia, Japan, USA – and their colonies.

Not to mention thousands of Chinese, African, Arab and Indian labourers, mule drivers, porters and food preparation workers employed by the army.

No question seems to arise of the Festival of Remembrance commemorating the fallen of the “enemy” but if the festival were really about full “remembrance”, it would commemorate the dead on each side of conflicts.

German soldiers playing cards during WWI. Photos of Germans in WWI more readily available show them wearing masks and looking like monsters. (Photo sourced: Internet)

That would particularly be appropriate in WWI, an imperialist war in every aspect. But of course they don’t commemorate both sides; if we feel equally sorry for the people of other nations, it will be difficult to get us to kill them in some future conflict.

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN WAR

A real festival of remembrance would commemorate too those civilians killed in war (seven million in WWI), the percentage of which in overall war casualty statistics has been steadily rising through the century with increasingly long-range means of warfare.

Civilian war refugees in Salonika, NW Greece, WWI

Civilians in the First World War died prematurely in epidemics and munitions factory explosions as well as in artillery and air bombardments, also in sunk shipping and killed in auxiliary logistical labour complements in battle areas.

They died through hunger too, as feeding the military became the priority in food production and distribution and as farmhands became soldiers.

In WWII 50-55,000,000 civilians died in extermination camps or forced labour units, targeting of ethnic and social groups, air bombardments, as well as in hunger and disease arising from the destruction of harvests and infrastructure.6

Air bombardments, landmines, ethnic targeting and destruction of infrastructures continue to exact a high casualty rate among civilians in war areas: a Reuters study gave over one million killed by the war in Iraq and another study gave between 184,382 and 207,156 civilians killed in Iraq during the war and aftermath.7

That figure for Iraq does not include dead from pre-US invasion western trade sanctions (yes, economic sanctions frequently kill) or the 46,319 dead civilians in Afghanistan8.

The number of civilians injured, many of them permanently disabled, is of course higher than the numbers killed. Most of those will bring an additional cost to health and social services where these are provided by the state and of course to families, whether state provision exists or not.

Real and impartial “remembrance” would include civilians but not even British civilians killed and injured are included in the Festival of Remembrance, revealing that the real purpose of the Festival is to support the armed forces and their activities.

The 2014 slogan “shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces” underlines that purpose9 while contributing at the same time to a certain militarisation of society and of the dominant national culture.

The propaganda is more sophisticated this year: “Our red poppy is a symbol of both Remembrance and hope for a peaceful future” but “Poppies are worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces Community.”10

WEAPONS AND INJURIES

If the Festival were really about “remembrance”, they would commemorate the numbers of injuries and detail the various types of weapons that caused them.

But that might reflect unfavourably on the armaments manufacturers, who run a multi-trillion industry11 in whatever currency one cares to name, so of course they don’t. And if really concerned about death and injury in war, they would campaign to end imperialist war.

Gassed Australian soldiers awaiting hospitalisation 1916

But then how else would the various imperial states sort out among themselves which one could extract which resources from which countries in the world and upon the markets of which country each imperial state could dump its produce?

So of course the Royal British Legion doesn’t campaign against war.

SANITISED HISTORY, MILITARY PROPAGANDA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

Partial remembrance was indeed embodied in the song chosen by the British Legion to promote its Festival in the WWI centenary festival in 2014.

No Man’s Land, sung by Joss Stone, is actually a truncated version of the song of the same title (better known in Ireland as the Furey’s The Green Fields of France), composed by Scottish-raised and Australian-based singer-songwriter Eric Bogle.

The Joss Stone version contains the lyrics of the chorus as well as of one verse and one-half of another, omitting two and-a-half verses of Bogle’s song.

Some of the British media created a kind of controversy, at the behest of who knows whom, to have the British Legion’s song included top of BBC’s Radio One playlist. The song is reproduced in entirety below, with the lines sung by Joss Stone in italics and those she omitted in normal type.

I.
Well, how do you do, young Willie McBride?

Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?

And rest for a while in the warm summer sun,

I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done.

I see by your gravestone you were only 19

When you joined the great fallen in 1916,

I hope you died well and I hope you died clean

Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

(Chorus)
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?

Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?

Did the band play The Last Post in chorus?

And did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

II.
Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind

In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?

Although, you died back in 1916,

In that faithful heart are you forever 19?

Or are you a stranger without even a name,

Enclosed forever behind the glass frame,

In an old photograph, torn, battered and stained,

And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

(Chorus)

III.
The sun now it shines on the green fields of France;

There’s a warm summer breeze that makes the red poppies dance.

And look how the sun shines from under the clouds

There’s no gas, no barbed wire, there’s no guns firing now.

But here in this graveyard it’s still No Man’s Land

The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand

To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man.

To a whole generation that were butchered and damned.

(Chorus)

IV.
Ah young Willie McBride, I can’t help wonder why,

Do those that lie here know why did they die?

And did they believe when they answered the cause,

Did they really believe that this war would end wars?

Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,

The killing and dying, were all done in vain.

For Willie McBride, it all happened again,

And again, and again, and again, and again.

(Chorus)

It’s easy to see why the Royal British Legion might shy away from the omitted lyrics, which would hardly encourage recruitment or support for war.

Interviewed on video, Joss Stone herself said how important it was to be “true to the lyrics” and that “the last thing one would want to do would be to disrespect the lyric”.

Incredibly, she and John Cohen, the record producer, both separately claimed that they had captured the essence of the song lyrics in the British Legion’s version.12

Although Bogle stated that he did not think the Joss Stone version glorifies war, he did say that it did not condemn it and was ultimately a sentimentalised version that went against the intention and central drive of the lyrics.

Believe it or not I wrote the song intending for the four verses of the original song to gradually build up to what I hoped would be a climactic and strong anti-war statement,” Bogle said.

Missing out two and a half verses from the original four verses very much negates that intention.” (apparently in a reply from Bogle to a blogger’s email and quoted in a number of newspaper reports).13

The truncation of the song and the removal in particular of the anti-war lyrics epitomises partial “remembrance” and stands as a metaphor for it, the production of a lie by omission and obscuration.

Sanitised history, military recruitment propaganda and public relations is what this “Remembrance” is about.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1Five reasons people don’t wear poppies – BBC News

2Ibid.

3Description on Royal British Legion website in 2014 and matched by Wikipedia account of 2015 event

4Their website in 2014 and confirmed by Wikipedia for 2015.

5Irish in the British Armed Forces – Wikipedia

6World War II casualties – Wikipedia

7https://www.wired.com/2011/06/afghanistan-iraq-wars-killed-132000-civilians-report-says/#:~:text=At%20least%20132%2C000%20civilians%20have%20died%20from%2010,how%20many%20civilians%20have%20di%20in %20these%20wars. And Iraqi Civilians | Costs of War (brown.edu)

8Civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan (2001–2021) – Wikipedia

9The slogan of RB Legion in 2014.

10All about the poppy | Royal British Legion

11“In 2021, the military spending worldwide amounted to 2.11 trillion U.S. dollars. The United States accounted for 38 percent of total military worldwide spending” Defense spendng and arms trade – Statistics & Facts | Statista

12Videos containing quotations from Joss Stone and John Cohen about how they have stayed “true to the song” or “lyric” of No Man’s Land by Eric Bogle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez1WBJaZZ7U#t=10 and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rotXZFXJWo were active in 2014 but now appear to have been taken down.

13Eric Bogle: I don’t like Joss Stone’s cover of No Man’s Land, but I won’t sue | Joss Stone | The Guardian

SOURCES & USEFUL LINKS

Against wearing the Poppy: Five reasons people don’t wear poppies – BBC News

A Unionist from the Six Counties’ view on the Poppy as a measure of support for the United Kingdom: Fewer people are wearing poppies in Belfast, as unionist symbols in the public space are successfully demonised by republicans | Belfast News Letter

Red Poppy Symbol:

http://www.greatwar.co.uk/article/remembrance-poppy.htm

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/poppy-appeal

(see also Red Poppy and British Legion links)

British Legion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Royal_British_Legion

and Albert Hall Remembrance Concert: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/File:The Royal Albert Hall, London during the Festival of Remembrance MOD 45159095.jpg – Wikipedia

Videos containing quotations from Joss Stone and John Cohen about how they have stayed “true to the song” or “lyric” of No Man’s Land by Eric Bogle were accessed at the following in 2014 but now appear to have been taken down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez1WBJaZZ7U#t=10 and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rotXZFXJWoWhite Poppy symbol:

http://www.ppu.org.uk/whitepoppy/index.html

WWI war dead:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties

Joss Stone’s truncated and rather awful version:

‘No Man’s Land’ – Joss Stone Ft. Jeff Beck – YouTube

Eric Bogle, composer of No Man’s Land on Joss Stone version: Eric Bogle: I don’t like Joss Stone’s cover of No Man’s Land, but I won’t sue | Joss Stone | The Guardian
Joss Stone butchers No Mans Land | urban75 forums

“Controversy” over Legion’s 2014 Festival promotional song by Joss Stone (truncation of Eric Bogle’s No Man’s Land):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2828041/BBC-branded-disgraceful-Royal-British-Legion-refusing-airtime-Poppy-appeal-song.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bbc-snubs-official-poppy-appeal-4600035

http://johnhilley.blogspot.ie/2014/11/poppy-appeal-and-royal-british-legions.html

Civilian war deaths due to war in Afghanistan:
Civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan (2001–2021) – Wikipedia

Civilian war deaths due to war in Iraq: Iraq conflict has killed a million Iraqis: survey | Reuters Iraqi Civilians | Costs of War (brown.edu)

Images WWI: Various sources accessed on the Internet

Arms trade: Defense spendng and arms trade – Statistics & Facts | Statista

Veterans for Peace (June 2011-August 2022): http://veteransforpeace.org.uk

Video Veterans for Peace at the Cenotaph:
Remembrance Sunday 2014
(performing song and poem): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t34dnIabsGw
2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rsr15SZfVUw

Video and song On Remembrance Day from Veterans for Peace web page: (lists British modern armed conflicts): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPLtSkILwvs#t=62

NB: Sadly Veterans for Peace has ceased to exist as an organisation

“Oh. My. God!”

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 5 mins.)

That’s what she wrote — in response to a political statement I had written. And it was funny — but at the same time an expression of the gulf that separates people like her not only from people like me – but from reality too.

Her comment on a FB post was that the PSNI are not the same as the RUC, to which another woman had replied that the uniforms and the name are different but that’s all, the essence being still the same.

In turn, herself above had replied that anyone who thought that, didn’t understand the current realities and what the whole peace process is about.

To which I replied that I too agreed that all that happened was that the colonial gendarmerie had changed its name and uniform and what the pacification process (because let’s call it what it was and is) is about is holding on to the colony while dismantling the opposition.

And then she made that response, the “Oh. My. God!” — and quoth no more. I laughed but also recognised that her response, from her point of view (apart from the appeal to a nebulous deity, which I take as just an idiom to express shock), was entirely logical.

No, not her political position, which is entirely illogical – but her reaction, from where she stands, away on the other side of the chasm between us.

(Photo sourced: Internet)

AN UNBRIDGEABLE GULF BETWEEN WORLDS

She recognises the gulf that separates her world from mine and knows straight away that there is no bridge to cross it. There is no point in debate, not only because I may not be easily overcome in argument but because we don’t even agree on the reality of the world.

By which I mean the economic, political and philosophical reality of the world of humanity, rather than the physical world of gravity and weather.

In her world, I’m guessing, admittedly there were some horrible injustices in the history of “Northern Ireland” and then there was a horrible war which made things worse and now everything is changed (even “utterly”, perhaps!) and going in the right direction.

To call the “Northern Ireland” entity a colony is shocking to her, though she knows some people probably think that.

Seeing reality is useful for getting around but it can be very uncomfortable too. The Six Counties is of course a colony, taken by force and maintained by force since 1921.

PSNI raid and arrest of a pregnant woman in the Bone (‘nationalist’) area of Belfast March 2021 — this led to riot (Photo sourced: Internet)
Residents objecting to PSNI in riot gear invasion of Roseapenna Street (‘nationalist’), West Belfast, August 2015 (Photo sourced: Internet)

The whole of Ireland was a colony even when it had its tiny minority parliament1 and it continued to be one when that Parliament, under massive bribery, voted to abolish itself in 1800 without the vast majority of the population in Ireland, native AND planter, having any say in the matter.

When the level of anti-colonial struggle in Ireland rose to a certain level and the rulers of the UK were beset by difficulties on most sides, a deal was done with an Irish client bourgeoisie and the country partitioned.

Whatever the status of the Irish State thereafter, the status of the Six Counties was clearly that of a colony. That is and was so, regardless of whether it is sectarian or not, whether there are civil rights or not. It is part of our nation held for the Crown by force of arms.

Those arms were again very much in evidence during the fairly recent 30 Years’ War – in the hands of the formal British Army, formal colonial police and informal proxy murder gangs.

And yes, the PSNI today is an armed colonial police force – and it would be that even if it had no history, if it were created today. But as it happens, it does have a history. It is a variant of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. And the RUC was a variant of the Royal Irish Constabulary2. And the RIC was a gendarmerie.

RIC and British soldiers supporting an eviction in Galway during the Land War (Photo sourced: Internet)

A COLONIAL POLICE FORCE WITH A LONG HISTORY

Perhaps my opponent has heard the term before. Maybe she associates it with Turkey … or even with the Spanish state. But such things belong to foreign and authoritarian states, right? Couldn’t possibly be to do with here!

States that have conquered nations within them, resisting from time to time, or regions that are otherwise difficult to manage, need to control them by army or police. The first becomes problematical over time and the second needs to be coordinated from the centre, not mainly local.

The solution some states have found is to have a central quasi-militarised police force: the Guardia Civil of the Spanish State, the Turkish Gendarmerie, the Caribieneri of the Italian State, the French Gendarmerie.

Gendarmerie of the Spanish State: Guardia Civil in modern uniform (Photo sourced: Internet)

These forces typically live in barracks and are directly answerable to the central State. The Royal Irish Constabulary was such a gendarmerie also. And nothing like it existed in Britain.

It was a colonial armed quasi-militarised police force to spy on and suppress the Irish by force.

What was left of the RIC in Ireland became the RUC after Partition and the RUC became the PSNI after some reforms. They don’t live in barracks but they do sally forth from them and they are armed – still keeping ‘the natives’ down since 1836.3

All-Ireland gendarmerie Royal Irish Constabulary in front of their barracks, King Street, Dublin, viewed by local people after a Republican forces attack during the War of independence 1919-1921 (Photo sourced: Internet)

PACIFICATION FOR NORMALISATION

Then there was my shocking description of the role of the ‘Process’ that she described as for peace and I for pacification. She is shocked even by the title I give it, a title suggesting it is not about justice but rather about maintaining control, by trickery or violence.

And I actually stated that is its purpose! Oh. My. God indeed!

Any process which starts from the basis of normalising the colony is doing just that: normalising the foreign occupation of a part of the nation taken by force and which has never been accepted by the conquered population. It is “about is holding on to the colony”, as I described it.

But what is fundamentally abnormal can never be normalised.

That attempt requires pacification, by repression and coercion or by deception – or by a combination of both. The Occupier has used all but, since the late 1990s, mainly deception. The masking and twisting of reality, the blowing of smoke in eyes.

“Join the British Gendarmerie!” Recruitment drive for the PSNI supported by Unionists and Sinn Féin, February 2020 (Photo sourced: Internet)

Who is fooled? Mostly, those who want to be, some who see a workable future in the colony, under occupation.

The other deluded ones are those who are being deceived by their leaders, the latter who have given up not only the arms but any kind of struggle other than climbing into the elite.

Ultimately, the reality is so obvious that the deception is only possible when the deceived help it along themselves. Why do that? Because it’s comfortable, or seen as an alternative to hopelessness, or less frightening than the alternative – revolutionary struggle.

Oh. My. God! Yes indeed.

And yet we say, we who look at the reality, in the face of those who deny it, as Galileo is said to have muttered to his persecutors, who denied the world moved around the sun (rather than the reverse): “Eppur si muove”(“And yet it moves)”.4

We might also say, whether some find it shocking or just uncomfortable, something more mundane: Est quodcumque est. (It is what it is.)

end.

FOOTNOTES

1At various times Catholics were excluded from voting for representation in the Parliament and at all times from the Reformation onwards barred from being elected to the body or from holding high office. The vast majority of the Irish population were Catholics. Protestants other than Anglicans suffered discrimination too but not to the same degree.

2The PSNI themselves recognise that history – see https://www.psni.police.uk/about-us/our-history/history-policing-ireland

3And they got the “Royal” in their name in 1867 for their role in suppression of the Fenian rising that year.

4Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer. He publicly ascribed to the theory of Copernicus before him that the sun’s position is static with the Earth revolving around it (heliocentrism) which had been attacked by the Protestant religions as contradicting the Christian Bible (Old Testament). But it was the Catholic Inquisition of which Galileo fell foul, firstly in 1616 when he was instructed not to hold that opinion. In 1633 he was forced to recant it after a long trial and lived under house arrest for the rest of his life.

SOURCES

Gendarmerie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gendarmerie

RIC: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Irish_Constabulary