Monday, April 27, 2015

Some points on the situation in Ireland (Republic)

150, 000 in Dublin against water charges Nov. 2014
by Dermot Connolly in Dublin

 2014 will be looked back on as the year when everything changed in Ireland. In the early part of the year Ireland managed to exit from the Troika bailout without a continuation of financial support. The economy went into recovery and unemployment started to fall. One would have expected a rise in support for the government of Fine Gael and Labour but in fact quite the opposite happened.

The reason was an explosion from below on the issue of water charges, the final austerity straw that broke the camel’s back. Despite attempts by the government, the state and the media that the anti water charges campaign is being led, hijacked and manipulated by ‘trots’, the hard left and even republican dissidents, the movement has been extremely spontaneous.

Right to Water (R2W) was originally an initiative by the SWP. The emphasis was on opposition to privatisation. There was no call for a non payment campaign. There was no call for communities to oppose water meters. The reason for this limited approach was the debacle of anti property tax campaign.

That campaign had begun as a mass non payment campaign against an austerity tax on peoples’ homes. At one point a million households, out of 1.6 million to 1.8million across the state, were pledged not to pay the charge. The government responded by making the charge a tax, collectible by revenue, and revenue were given new draconian powers to deduct the tax at source, from wages, pensions, welfare, etc.

Rather than respond tactically to a new situation, the SWP/SP denounced any suggestion of a change in tactics as a retreat. They insisted on asking people to do something they could no longer do, not pay. The campaign collapsed. It was a bad and demoralising defeat. The SWP/SP met this situation with silence and folded up their tents and went on to their next issue.

It would have been undoubtedly difficult to maintain the campaign at a mass level but a retreat from non payment which was no longer an option, to a campaign based on political protest, could have held up to 200,000 together with a view to fighting the real battle on the issue of water charges.

In the event the SWP persuaded a number of trade unions to come on board with R2W and a demo was called for last September. This demo was then put back to October to ‘allow more work to be done’. In reality there was no expectation of a major turnout. The unions involved, especially Unite, have a history of backing SWP initiatives in name only, while doing nothing.

So what changed the situation? In July, August and into September a very important struggle took place around the lock out of workers at Greyhound, a waste collection company.  This strike was at an impasse with scab labour collecting bins. We, the United Left group in Dublin South central took an initiative to try and mobilise community action against the scabs, blocking trucks, following them through estates and generally making their life difficult. This was then taken up by other activists and left groups across the city and played a key role, along with mass pickets at the company in helping the workers achieve a ‘draw’, rather that the defeat that was staring them in the face.

At around the same time some local people set up the Crumlin says NO campaign to stop water metering. They successfully stopped contractors attempting to install meters in Crumlin. Up to then there had been no opposition and one million meters had been installed around the state.

Anti water meeting groups quickly followed suit throughout working class areas. Out of nowhere, water charges became a huge issue. The demo in October had 100,000 on it, followed by 150,000 in November. (The population of the Republic is about 4.5 million.) The situation was also fuelled by a series of scandals and outright cock ups by the government in the establishment of Irish Water, a stand-alone commercial state company set up to take over water and sewerage services previously run by local authorities.

People were outraged by over a €1billion spent on consultants, billing systems and water metering while not a cent was spent on fixing leaky pipes. Around 40% of expensively treated water is lost through leaks nationally. Senior managers were appointed on big salaries and bonuses, just like the bankers. The elite were seen to be looking after the elite. Business as usual.

The government parties nosedived in the polls. Labour in particular faced the prospect of a complete wipe out. Labour changed its leader and shifted the so called ‘grumpy old men’, Rabbitte, Gilmore and Quinn out of the cabinet. These were all previous party leaders.

The government then initiated a retreat on water charges. They pledged there would be no privatisation. They withdrew the threat that water for non payers would be reduced to a trickle. They capped the charge at €160 for a single adult and €260 for two or more adults per household. They introduced a ‘water conservation grant’ of €100 per household. These capped charges are to be in place until 2018.They represent a significant reduction on what people would have paid under metering, particularly households with adult children.

At a stroke the government undermined all its arguments for the establishment of Irish Water and the charges. A flat charges instead of payment per use flushes the argument about metering being necessary for water conservation down the plug hole if you will pardon the pun. The stand-alone commercial basis of Irish Water has gone down the same plug hole.

The logic behind Irish Water was that it would be funded by charges, and able to borrow for investment in infrastructure without that borrowing being included as state borrowing. Also of course, establishing payment for water is a necessary first step to privatisation.

The R2W demonstrations were not the only anti austerity demonstrations. The idea that austerity was accepted in Ireland with minimum opposition is a myth. However, you only had to go on these demos to sense the difference. These were not a walk down to the Dail (parliament) led by Ictu (trade union congress). They were also completely different from those led by the left groups, 10,000 to 15,000 maximum.

These were mass demonstrations of people who don’t normally go on demonstrations. You could feel the seriousness, the anger, the sense of power of a people on the march. They were also humorous. They didn’t wait for the people with megaphones to lead the chanting. They made up their own, including ‘you can shove your waster meters up your arse’ to the tune of Coming round the mountains.

Earlier I said that some unions endorsed initiatives on the left, but did little more that attend a press conference. But actually the five unions in R2W, especially Mandate, the shop workers union, and Unite, have played a very important role in giving the campaign a much wider base than if it was just led by the left groups. They have put money and resources into the campaign.

Mandate in particular has moved to the left, and not just in words. They have recruited a number of younger organisers, and have organised on the basis that if you want to achieve better conditions and pay, you will have to fight for it and be prepared to strike. They have won a number of significant victories for shop workers.

They have recently organised a very successful one day strike in Dunnes Stores, a major supermarket chain which is viciously anti union. This is part of a campaign ‘Decency for Dunnes Stores Workers’, of whom 80% are on part time zero hour type contracts.

The R2W unions represent the beginning to a greater or lesser extent for each union of a break in policy with the right in Ictu. The policy of Ictu, and especially of SIPTU, its biggest union, has been to do nothing and hide behind the excuse that Labour in government has protected working people and the more vulnerable from the worst of Fine Gael austerity.

We have met with the key organisers for Mandate and Unite in R2W in a series of discussions they initiated with the left groups and independents. They are pushing for R2W to develop a broader political programme including opposition to austerity in general, higher taxes on corporate profits, high incomes and a wealth tax, raising the minimum wage, abolition of zero hour contracts and so on. They have spoken clearly in these discussions about the need for a new broad left political force.

They have called a rally for Mayday with invitations to the the unions , political parties and independents, and community groups involved in R2W, and have also invited representatives from Syriza and Podemos. If Left Unity in Britain makes contact I’m sure they would also het an invitation.

This will be followed by a policy conference in June. We particularly welcome these developments and will participate fully. We believe the way to a new left is not through meetings behind closed doors of ‘leaders’ of small political groups, but a broad open discussion within the five unions and in working class communities. We will be energetically pressing this point in the upcoming debates on this crucial issue.

British Elections. An Utter Disgrace.

Sean O'Torrain.

It is an utter disgrace. I am talking about left sectarianism and the British elections. There are candidates from the various left groups all competing with each other.  There is the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), the  Socialist Labor Party (SLP), formed by former Miner's leader Arthur Scargill, Left Unity (LU) formed by the film director Ken Loach, and the Communist Party (CPGB)

All of these outfits are left sectarian. Running against each other, weakening the left voice. And on top of that having no united front program aimed at the millions of workers who will vote Labor. It would be good to hear how some of these people from these groups justify their actions. But I am not holding my breath.

Is it the case that we have to have a clean sweep of the entire left groups and the building of a united front around a program which confronts the capitalist offensive and uses the method of direct action to do so. I do not think this United Front should be socialist but instead should be anti capitalist. I do not think it should be to build a new party. Let us recognize the reality and build a united front against the capitalist offensive and use mass direct action tactics. Out of these struggles could emerge candidates and a new left force. Within this united front a revolutionary marxist current or currents sould be built as long as this was done in a non sectarian manner.

But if this is to happen the existing left groups have to be challenged and their left sectarianism identified and confronted and this has to be done in front of the new working class forces which are coming into struggle. It is these new working class forces which can sweep away left sectarianism, and also ultra leftism, but they can only do this if these scourges are openly identified and the groups that practice these are openly identified. And people like myself who when I was in the Committee For a Workers' International (CWI) * in the past and as part of that group, myself practiced left sectarianism and ultra leftism and on occasion opportunism, we must own up openly to our past mistakes and discuss them with the working class. This is the only way the movement can learn and develop and be able to carry out the tasks with which it is faced.

Socialist Alternative in the US is affiliated with the CWI and a also a prominent force in Britain's TUSC.

Racists discredit Freddy Gray to Justify his Death in Police Custody

Freddy Gray
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

It sickens me at times to read some of the comments that lie beneath articles or videos on the Internet.  We are all seeing the response to the killing of Freddie Gray by cops in Baltimore.  Gray died one week after being arrested and transported in a van by the cops.  The van stopped three times on the way to the police station, twice to deal with Gray and once to pick up another prisoner. Gray asked for a medic during the trip and eventually died of severe spinal injuries a week after the incident.

It is possible the cops took Gray on a “Rough Ride” as they have been known to do this before and the city of Baltimore has been sued for this activity, police thugs having some fun with poor people.

Naturally, I watched some of the scenes of the protests and the media made sure that those that took to looting stores got a lot of media attention in order to discredit the protestors as well as the righteous anger the black community has over yet another young black life being snuffed out by murderous state security forces------the guardians of the wealthy and protectors of status quo.

The comments that make me the sickest and they almost always come from white people, those particular white folk who hide behind the cloak of “conservative views”  are quick to mention of Freddy Gray's  cocaine use or drug or petty crime convictions. It’s the same people who find pleasure in digging up a rape victim’s sexual history, who she slept with and how often. They despise the poor, white or black and generally hate labor and unions. You’d be more respected if you were honest about your real motives.

So Gray had a drug conviction.  Gray, like millions of black people, and more and more whites, was also the victim of the slumlords.  His family, like many others, was poor, lived in run down apartments and homes owned by rich landlords and their corporations. Both the young Freddie and his two sisters had lead poisoning and all three were born premature, “With so much of its housing stock predating laws banning lead in paint, Baltimore continues to wrestle with the after-effects on thousands of children who have inhaled or ingested the toxic metal.” The Baltimore Sun wrote.

Between the ages of 2 to 6, Gray lived in a "beat up" house, where on all the walls the paint was "peeling”, there was “peeling paint in every room”, the Sun adds. The slumlord and corporate boss, a Stanley Rochkind, was, “…fined $90,000 by the Maryland Department of the Environment as part of a consent agreement that required him to rid some 480 rental units in Baltimore of lead paint.” according to records. This situation is not an exception, it is the rule in the inner cities and in the poorer rural areas. We can spend trillions on predatory wars but cant' provide decent housing for people.  This, my friends, is not civilization.

The Baltimore Sun adds that,  “…blood tests conducted on the siblings as children that showed all of them had lead levels above the 10 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dL) that state law defines as the threshold for lead poisoning. (Experts say there are no safe levels of lead, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider anything above 5 mg/dL cause for concern.)”

As for Freddie, the paper states,  Freddie Gray, for example, was tested as having between 11 mg/dL and 19 mg/dL in six tests conducted between 1992 and 1996, court documents show.”

I was involved in renters’ struggles against a slumlord here in Oakland CA., a man much like Rochkind, this man was worth $40 million.  The one percent's media rarely, if ever takes its cameras in to the homes of the millions of victims of slumlords throughout the country. It certainly will not reveal the private lives of these characters like it does the poor. In this case, we appealed to the DA to arrest the slumlord and file charges, no such luck; we organized direct action protests at this slumlords home and businesses, and where he attended church.  The slumlords are not taken for ”rough rides” in the backs of police cars for providing rat holes for people to live in and getting rich off it. Just the opposite, the cops protect the slumlord.  The private sector can’t be relied on to provide housing for people, it never has and it never will.

And as for trying to paint all black males as drug dealers I can speak with some authority to that.  I was addicted to cocaine use for a period of 8 years in the late 1970’sand 80’s and I had access to very good quality stuff.  All the best stuff was provided by people with white faces and they were always men.  Most white men aren't dope dealers either. The real dope dealers, those who actually bring the stuff in to communities and the country have wealthy connections.  Pointing to Freddy Gray’s minor tussles with the law is an excuse, a cover for racial and working class bigotry and defense of the cops.  It fools no one. As I have pointed out many times before, the cops can make you a felon with the stroke of a pen and in the ghettos and among poor people in general, people of all ethnic backgrounds are literally in occupation zones, watched, hounded, harassed by the state security apparatus with the aim of maintaining the status quo.

And I have one more thing to say to these smug commentators beneath a story like Freddy Gray's or a video about the justifiable protests in response to it; where are you when the slumlord rakes in his dough?  And beyond this; where is your voice, your commentaries at the blatant racial bias in all aspects of US society?

Not long ago some right wing white skinned rural petty bourgeois wanted to avoid paying his dues by keeping his cattle on public land and not paying the required fees.  Him and other right wing characters organized and actually challenged the state.  They armed themselves with assault rifles and actually pointed them at federal Marshalls. The state backed down.

In Cleveland a black kid playing with a BB gun was shot without hesitation by a cop.  In South Carolina, Walter Scott was shot eight times and killed by a cop as he was running away.  There are too many cases that involve black people to mention, we've covered some of them on this blog, you’d have to be in a coma or a racist not to notice it. You are insulting people’s intelligence by offering a petty drug conviction of poor working class black youth as justification for his torture and murder by forces of the state. And buying the media propaganda about looting or not understanding the justifiable anger that leads to destruction of police cars or corporate property and instead condemning the victims is no different. The more white/European American workers, and Asian, and other workers that join the black population in protesting and organizing against these issues the more powerful the movement becomes and the less chance of sporadic destruction.   Organized workers' power and shutting down economic activity (profits) is what hurts the perpetrators of this madness.

Help Please.

I would like to ask the readers of our blog for help. I am getting to where I have to decide on what I put on the front cover of the book which I am writing. It is about my life from a rural peasant Orange Order background in Ireland  to an international revolutionary socialist. I would like to put on the great photo of the three athletes at the 1968 Olympics where they take a stand on the podium against racism and poverty. But the problem is that these are three males. I am thinking about a montage type cover where I would have this photo but also merge it with a photo of women in struggle, especially if we could have one of women of different races in struggle. Any suggestions would be gratefully received. Sean.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Appeal from Ukrainian Trade Unionists

Protesters opposing EU/US support for fascists murdered at trade union building
from the New York area are working on a US speaking tour with some radical trade unionists from Ukraine. Step one is to publicize the attached statement; step two is the speaking tour. Please circulate far and wide. I will follow up in the next day or two with  details about where and when they will be speaking. Solidarity,
Andy Piascik


Ukrainian anti-fascists are calling on people around the world to mark May 2 as a day of commemoration of those who were killed in the trade union building in Odessa. 

May 2, 2014 there was a bloody massacre in Odessa where, though data is incomplete, at least 48 people were killed. Some of them were burned alive in the House of Trade Unions. The organizers of the massacre were radical Ukrainian nationalists and fascists who support the regime established in the Kiev after the coup in February 2014. Their opponents were the participants of the Antimaydan movement opposed to Ukrainian fascism. They belonged to different political tendencies, but opposition to Ukrainian fascism united them. It was they who were the main victims of the massacre on the May 2. Fleeing from the crowd of aggressive and armed fascists which greatly outnumbered them, the Antimaydan activists tried to take refuge in the House of Trade Unions located near their camp. They were largely without weapons, as they consistently preferred peaceful forms of protest.

The enemy attacked the House of Trade Unions with Molotov cocktails, igniting a fire that caused many of those inside the building to flee outside. There, angry Ukrainian fascists beat and killed them. Others who observed this remained inside until they either burned to death, suffocated or jumped out of windows to their deaths. Others who remained inside were hunted down and murdered in cold blood. Local fire service deliberately did not go to the assistance of the desperate people and when it finally arrived, the fascists did not let the fire trucks or firefighters approach
the burning building.

The ruling government of Ukraine is doing everything to hide and distort the truth about this crime. The official list of dead people has not been published yet. The results of forensic examination of the causes of deaths are classified and were not disclosed until recently. None of the perpetrators of the massacre has been arrested; the state prosecutor's office deliberately ignores numerous videos proving their guilt. Instead, people who tried to defend the House of Trade Unions have been arrested and put on trial. Though the investigation found no evidence of their guilt, the court refuses to set them free. Official propaganda since the day of tragedy has spread lies like “the House of Trade Unions was not protected by people from Odessa but by citizens of Transnistria and Russian saboteurs”, calls these people terrorists and separatists even though the leaders of the Odessa’s "Antimaydan" never called for the separation of the Odessa region from Ukraine. But various supporters of this Kiev regime replicate this lie all over the world.

The Odessa tragedy is just one act in the civil war the Kiev fascists launched last spring against its own people that. This is not the only event of its kind. The atrocities of the fascists on May 9, 2014 in Mariupol, massive bloodshed in the Donbass, sadistic treatment of war prisoners, deliberate destruction of vital facilities in the Donbass, the recent excesses of Ukrainian soldiers in Konstantinovka (Kostyantynivka) - all of them are the links of the same chain. This is a manifestation of the bloody totalitarian nature of the regime in Kiev, established in the heart of Europe with the blessing of western political leaders. But the Odessa massacre became a symbol of these atrocities. In Odessa, the Kiev regime's political opponents asserted their own rights without weapons, by peaceful means and they were ruthlessly suppressed with astonishing cruelty and cynicism. The task of all progressive forces of the world is to demonstrate their condemnation and rejection of such methods.

The Kiev regime wants to forcibly impose on the entire population of Ukraine its system of values which totally rejects the Soviet period in the history of Ukraine. It is based on the traditions of Ukrainian integral nationalism, which is the local Ukrainian variant of fascist ideology. These ideas of integral nationalism inspired such figures as Stepan Bandera. For a significant part of Ukrainian society, such attitudes are unacceptable. That is why opposition appeared. Despite all the repression, people have been fighting against the reactionaries and actively looking for an alternative. But the forces of resistance in Ukraine are split, and some of them are not guided by consistently democratic principles. Some of them receive help from Russian nationalists and therefore think that the alternative to Ukrainian fascism is Russian nationalism. But this is wrong and a dead end road.

Therefore, the solidarity of international left forces with the liberation struggle against the Kiev regime will help the people of see they have friends and strengthen the democratic tendencies in the camp of resistance.

Finally, solidarity of leftist and internationalist forces is important not only for Ukraine. Now we see the rise of right-wing reactionary movements around the world. In many European countries, neo-fascists are growing in popularity, the youth are joining their parties, and they are gaining more and more votes. Totalitarianism has intensified everywhere and gone on the offensive. The civil war in Ukraine is just one of many episodes of offensive of international reaction forces. But this episode is very revealing. Ukraine is a European country and it in this European country that for the first time in the 21st century that fascists have entered a government while fascist paramilitaries have received legal status in the army and other state authorities. We can resist this attack on our principles and values together, combining our efforts all round the world.

Therefore, we propose to make May 2 a day of international solidarity in defense of democracy and internationalism in Ukraine. To this end, we urge the leftist forces around the world to hold in early May actions of solidarity with the liberation struggle of the working masses of Ukraine. This can be a picket, a march, a meeting, a round table and any other action which would be considered appropriate by activists not indifferent to the problems of Ukraine. From our side, our initiative group will contribute to the dissemination of information about these actions in the media.

Ivan Melekhov

Yefim Mironov

Stanislav Yushchenko

Contact address
New York Contact:

Hubert Harrison: Giant of Black and US Radical History

"I do believe that there will be a clash between East and West. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think that it will be based upon the color of the skin…." Malcolm X Speaks edited by George Breitman

"The young whites, and blacks, too, are the only hope that America has, the rest of us have always been living in a lie. "  (Malcolm X Files)

We learn through struggle. Our life experiences teaches us certain things but the true causes of our experiences are not always apparent. The capitalist media, told this writer in the 60's that black African people in Kenya hated whites and were murdering white farmers. It took some time for me to understand that this was not so.  They didn't hate whites and they didn't hate farmers.  They hated those who stole their land and denied them rights as human beings. And either way, the violence was directed against them not the other way around.

The same media made sure I understood that Malcolm X, the American black nationalist, hated all whites including me. I was not interested in reading anything Malcolm X had to say. The owners of the media were helped in this by Malcolm X himself who gave them ammunition, but surely, given history, a class conscious worker can understand that.  But that didn't last long.  If there is any confirmation that human beings can transform our thinking in to its opposite Malcolm X is it.  In his short life he began to understand that oppression and colonization of people's wasn't driven by one group of people's hatred for another based on the way they look.   He was not assassinated when he argued that. It was when he began to take a class position he became a real threat.

The class conscious white worker can benefit from reading Malcolm X, understanding his origins and his journey.  We share with our readers another less known black/African political figure and class conscious fighter, Hubert Harrison. I have to confess, I know little about Harrison but am beginning to investigate his life and Facts For Working People is grateful to Jeffrey B Perry for helping bring Hubert Harrison's ideas to a wider audience.  The post below was originally published by Jeffrey B Perry.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

On the 132nd Anniversary of His Birth
Help Spread Knowledge of the Life and Work
Of Black History Giant Hubert Harrison Militant Speaker at the 1913 Paterson Strike

(Please Share Information About Him With Friends)

by Jeffrey B. Perry

Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) is a true giant of Black, Caribbean, Diasporic African, and U.S. radical history. He was a brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers, in “World’s Great Men of Color”, as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time” and by A. Philip Randolph as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.”

Harrison was born to an immigrant mother from Barbados and a formerly enslaved Crucian father on Estate Concordia in St. Croix, Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands), on April 27, 1883. On St. Croix he lived amongst immigrant and native-born working people, learned customs rooted in African communal systems, and grew with an affinity for the poor and with the belief that he was equal to any other. He also learned of the Crucian people’s rich history of direct-action mass struggle including the 1848 enslaved-led emancipation victory; the 1878 island-wide “Great Fireburn” rebellion in which women played prominent roles; and the October 1879 general strike.

After arriving in New York as a seventeen-year-old orphan in 1900 Harrison made his mark over the next twenty-seven years by struggling against class and racial oppression and by helping to create a remarkably rich and vibrant intellectual life among those he affectionately referred to as “the common people.” He played unique, signal roles in the development of what were, up to that time, the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the “New Negro Movement”/Garvey movement) in U.S. history. His ideas on the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy anticipated the profound transformative power of the Civil Rights/Black Liberation struggles of the 1960s. His talks before large crowds at Wall and Broad Streets (on Socialism) and in Harlem after the 1917 pogrom against the East St. Louis African-American community (East St. Louis is less than 12 miles from Ferguson) were precursors to recent “Occupy” and “Black Lives Matter” movements.

Harrison was the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician in the Socialist Party of New York during its 1912 heyday; he founded the first organization (the Liberty League) and the first newspaper (“The Voice”) of the militant, World War I-era “New Negro Movement”; edited “The New Negro: A Monthly Magazine of a Different Sort” (“intended as an organ of the international consciousness of the darker races – especially of the Negro race”) in 1919; wrote “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” in 1920; and he served as the editor of the Negro World and principal radical influence on the Garvey movement during its radical high point in 1920.

His views on race and class profoundly influenced a generation of “New Negro” militants including the class radical A. Philip Randolph and the race radical Marcus Garvey. Considered more race conscious than Randolph and more class conscious than Garvey, Harrison is a key link in the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement – the labor and civil rights trend associated with Randolph and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the race and nationalist trend associated with Garvey and Malcolm X.

Harrison also was a pioneer Black activist in the freethought and birth control movements; reportedly developed "the first regular book-review section known to Negro newspaperdom"; and helped develop the 135th Street Public Library into what has become known as the internationally famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

People are encouraged to commemorate Hubert Harrison’s life and work and to share information on him with others.

For comments from scholars and activists on “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” and on “A Hubert Harrison Reader” see
and and

Additional information on “Hubert Harrison the Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” can be found at:…/978-0-231-13910-6/hubert-harrison

An overview of Harrison’s life is available at…

For a longer “Introduction” to Hubert Harrison in “Souls” see

For more information on Hubert Harrison see…

For a video on Hubert Harrison from Boston Neighborhood Network TV

Clips from a Book TV, CSPAN-2 program on Harrison with Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry, Dr. Komozi Woodard and Dr. Mark Naison can be viewed at…

Ireland: What The Virgin At Knock Would Say If She Could Speak

Here in Ireland we have had an extraordinary few weeks. Our government recently voted to allow abortion in limited circumstances. The debate is now being thrashed out in the Seanad, our upper house, which has seen rancorous exchanges. Meanwhile, many unpleasant untruths about our attitude to women, both in the present and past, have resurfaced. First we had ‘Lapgate‘, then ‘Fannygate‘, then some inflammatory speeches in the Seanad. Finally, the religious orders who ran the Magdalene laundries have refused to contribute to survivors’ compensation. Galway-based poet Kevin Higgins reacts below…

via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

What The Virgin At Knock Would Say If She Could Speak

for Breda O’Brien and all at the Iona Institute

We need to get back
to when confirmed bachelors
found their own kind through holes in cubicles
during untelevised All Ireland Finals.
To when there were no government funded
lesbians on display in public parks,
or self-confessed sodomites in the Senate.
To when there was no obscene use for
Vaseline, or sexual intercourse in Headford.

To when no one put Coke bottles
where they weren’t supposed to go.
And there were no automatic
washing machines for women to sit on
when Rock Hudson was unavailable.
To when the Irish people stood
at the end of lanes waiting
for nothing to happen,
which it mostly did.

To when young ones who forgot to cross
their legs at the crucial moment could be put
steam ironing curtains for the golf club, sheets
and pillowcases for your mother’s B&B;
still be safely there eight o’clock
in the evening having hot flushes
the hottest day of that century
to which we must get back.

Kevin Higgins facilitates poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre; teaches creative writing at Galway Technical Institute and on the Brothers of Charity Away With Words creative writing programme for people with disabilities. He is also Writer-in-Residence at Merlin Park Hospital and the poetry critic of the Galway Advertiser. He was a founding co-editor of The Burning Bush literary magazine. His first collection of poems The Boy With No Face was published by Salmon in February 2005 and was short-listed for the 2006 Strong Award. His second collection, Time Gentlemen, Please, was published in March 2008 by Salmon. One of the poems from Time Gentlemen, Please, ‘My Militant Tendency’, featured in the Forward Book of Poetry 2009.  

His work also features in the anthology Identity Parade – New British and Irish Poets (Ed Roddy Lumsden, Bloodaxe, 2010). Frightening New Furniture is his third collection of poems and was published in 2010 by Salmon Poetry. Kevin has read his work at most of the major literary festivals in Ireland and at Arts Council and Culture Ireland supported poetry events in Kansas City, USA (2006), Los Angeles, USA (2007), London, UK (2007), New York, USA (2008), Athens, Greece (2008); St. Louis, USA (2008), Chicago, USA (2009), Denver, USA (2010), Washington D.C (2011), Huntington, West Virginia, USA (2011), Geelong, Australia (2011), Canberra, Australia (2011), St. Louis, USA (2013) & Boston, USA (2013). Kevin’s fourth collection of poetry, The Ghost In The Lobby, will be published by Salmon Poetry in early 2014. Kevin is co-organiser of Over The Edge literary events. Mentioning The War, a collection of his essays and reviews was published in 2013 by Salmon.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gallipoli 1915: Thousands died in Colonial war.

Gallipoli 1915: When 120,000 Men Died and 250,000 were Wounded for Colonial Plunder

Collage smallestP

published: 25 April 2015  by The Socialist Network

Intro: by the TSN Editor

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the invasion by British and French empire forces of Gallipoli, on the Western coast of what is now Turkey. The object of the invasion was to capture Istanbul (Constantinople), the capital, and thereby seize vast tracts of territory from the Ottoman empire. The military campaign which lasted seven months was a disastrous and bloody failure, hampered by arrogant leadership and poor planning on the Allied side, and fierce defensive resistance from the Turkish side.

In the media coverage currently filling TV screens there is much talk of the bravery of the British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers but no reference to the fact that this was an invasion organised purely for colonial conquest. And the invading Allied forces are somehow put on the same moral level as the Ottoman troops who were only defending their homeland.

Below is a short video made by Australian directors John Rainford and Peter Ewer which puts a very different perspective on the Gallipoli campaign from that of the capitalist media:

Gallipoli: Australia and its wars.

Left: Native peoples of Australia and the Americas were slaughtered by the colonial and imperialist powers like Britain so the wealth and resources of these countries and peoples could be looted. And the young people of Australia were sent abroad to fight for these same colonial and imperialist powers against their rivals such as Turkey and the Ottoman empire. This was Gallipoli. 

By Chester Harris.

Australia this weekend celebrates the centenary of one of its greatest military defeats. The battle of Galipoli in the Dardanelles, Turkey at the beginning of the great war is often described as the cauldron in which the nation came of age. How a nation should find its Identity in defeat upon a blood stained battlefield in the service of its colonial master is a question being raised by some, while the majority wax lyrical about courage, perseverance and sacrifice. The politicians jump on the bandwagon and the youth are starry eyed with visions of glory.

Altogether they solemnly declare “LEST WE FORGET” and the myth of ANZAC is perpetuated I prefer to say “Lest we selectively forget”. It's all very fine to remember a uniformed young digger paying the ultimate price for the benefit of our wonderful freedom, but if we are to remember war in it's real dimensions, there are things that really deserve not forgetting Namely Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Nanjing, the fire bombing of Tokyo, the Holocaust and the Spanish flue to name just a few of the events that claimed and destroyed innocent lives in the pursuit of honour and glory. The most forgotten of them all are the frontier wars in the Americas and Australia, the latter of which claimed a greater percentage of innocent Australian lives than any other. It would appear that the most successful operation of this war was launched in Port Jackson in April 1789 by our first unknown Soldier. Unlike Galipoli, It was, in military terms, an unqualified success, but a terrible loss to Australia.

Unlike the debacle at Galipoli, this one did profoundly effect the shape that our country took and is arguably the one that most contributed to our unique present way of life. It may be 100 years since Galipoli, but it's 217 years since war first started to shape  Australian society.

I think that it is time that we considered looking at war from the same perspective that abolitionists saw slavery in the nineteenth century or more recently how reformists, in increasing numbers worldwide see capital punishment. Can we, in a civilised society, allow Greedy old men and reckless young ones to continually inflict so much misery on our populations in the name of love and glory? Australia has not come of age and it will not come of age until it acknowledges its past.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Freddy Gray. US Police: A brutal State Apparatus. "Rough Rides."

Sean O'Torrain.   From Buzzfeed. 

The death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody on April 12 has brought renewed attention to a police practice known as “rough rides,” offering the latest evidence that they may not be a relic of past.

One former Baltimore police officer told BuzzFeed News he first learned about “rough rides” from the older veteran officers who drove the police wagons. A rough ride is when officers put a handcuffed suspect in the back of a police wagon without strapping on their seatbelt, then drive around making sudden turns and stops, jostling the suspect. It’s also called a “nickel ride” because of the way the suspect bounces around in the back like in an amusement park attraction.

“[A rough ride] wasn’t necessarily something that was done on the regular, but it wasn’t something that totally surprised me,” the former officer said. “If a person runs, there’s an expectation for some [officers] that they’re going to get beat for it. A ‘foot tax’ is the term people would use.”

Officers arrested Gray after a foot chase, then placed him into a police van. A video capturing a portion of the arrest showed that officers had to drag Gray to the wagon. According to the police account, Gray was breathing and conscious then. At some point in custody, Gray suffered a severe spinal cord injury, and he died a week after the arrest, sparking protests and allegations of police brutality. A lawyer for his family claimed that the fatal injury occurred while Gray was riding in the wagon, and that Gray did not have a seatbelt on. On Thursday, the Baltimore Sun noted that Gray was “not the first to come out of [a] Baltimore police van with serious injuries.” And Baltimore was not the first police department to get in trouble over nickel rides.

“The old timers, they would talk about that term and they would say back in the day when somebody would be mouthing off, they would give ‘em the rough ride,” the former officer said. “They didn’t talk about it like they still did it.”

Rough rides have drawn scrutiny since at least the early 1980s, when the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city of Chicago for the police department’s use of the tactic. The city settled the suit in 1985 and agreed to replace the vans with a safer model that had roller coaster–type lap bars to ensure passengers would be strapped to their seats.

Years later, in 2001, a Philadelphia Inquirer investigation revealed that the rough rides had cost the city $2.3 million in settlements with passengers who had been injured in the back of police wagons. Though the department issued new rules requiring that police put seatbelts on wagon passengers, the practice apparently continued. In 2011, James McKenna won a $490,000 settlement with Philadelphia after he claimed that he had broken his neck during a rough ride. Police had said that McKenna broke his neck banging his head against the bars of his jail cell.

Baltimore, as the Sun noted, has also faced relatively recent allegations of punishing suspects with nickel rides. In 1997, Jeffrey Alston ended up paralyzed after his time in the back of a police wagon. A jury awarded him a $39 million verdict. In 2005, Dondi Johnson, who had been arrested for public urination, broke his neck during a ride in the van, and he died two weeks later from complications related to the injury. Johnson’s family won a $7.4 million jury verdict.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts suspended the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and announced that the department was investigating the incident. On Friday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters that she was “determined to get to the bottom of it.” This week protesters marched through Baltimore demanding answers to what caused Gray’s death and punishment for the officers responsible.

“I’ve never seen the outrage at this level,” said Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, who has been among those protesting police brutality in the city. “I’ve never seen this kind of outpouring in a public demonstration in Baltimore.”