The National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland, meeting over the weekend of 11 March, evaluated the political challenges facing the people at both the national and the international level at the present time. The recent elections to the Belfast Assembly highlighted a number of features. Unionism lost ground, and we witnessed the near-collapse of the old Ulster Unionist Party, with the DUP losing seats but remaining the largest party and Sinn Féin significantly improving its position. Clearly “liberal” unionism is fragmenting, and a significant number have shifted to the Alliance Party.
Dr. Priscilla Metscher – “National interests and internationalism do not cancel each other. They should be an important part of left-wing politics todayˮ
by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following my interview with Dr. Priscilla Metscher about socialism, history of socialism, and the challenges of today’s socialism in Europe. Dr. Priscilla Metscher was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She taught Irish studies at Oldenburg University, Germany, from 1974 to 1999. She has published many articles on the history of radical Irish politics and is the author of James Connolly and the Reconquest of Ireland (2002) and Republicanism and Socialism in Ireland from Wolfe Tone to James Connolly (2016).
Why is it so important to study the history of politics and of political movements, like socialism for example?
First of all I think it is important to study the history of politics and political movements, as such an insight shows us that the primary motivating force in the history of class societies is productive relations and ultimately the class struggle. The centre of that struggle is politically active class consciousness and political organisation. So ideas as they evolved must be seen within the context of social and political movements. They cannot be examined as some abstract ideology apart from their social and political context.
They have variably proclaimed (1) China’s economy is in decline; (2) the debt is overwhelming; a Chinese real estate bubble is ready to burst; (3) the country is rife with corruption and poisoned with pollution; and (4) Chinese workers are staging paralyzing strikes and protests amid growing repression – the result of exploitation and sharp class inequality. The financial frogs croak about China as an imminent military threat to the security of the US and its Asian partners. Other frogs leap for that fly in the sky – arguing that the Chinese now threatens the entire universe!
The ‘China doomsters’ with ‘logs in their own eyes’ have systematically distorted reality, fabricated whimsical tales and paint vision, which, in truth, reflect their own societies.
In recent times, ‘peace accords’ (PAs) have become a common refrain across the world. In almost every region or country, which are in the midst of war or invasion, the prospects of negotiating ‘peace accords’ have been raised. In many cases, PA’s were signed and yet did not succeed in ending murder and mayhem at the hands of their US-backed interlocutors.
We will briefly review several past and present peace negotiations and ‘peace accords’ to understand the dynamics of the ‘peace process’ and the subsequent results.
While most of the US has been occupied with post-election insanity, looking for Russians under every bed, and longing for some reason to have confidence in governing institutions, a curious article appeared in the February 15 issue of the influential conservative magazine, Commentary.
Authored by a deeply embedded member of the intellectual and political elite, Nicholas Eberstadt, the article, Our Miserable 21st Century, paints a dismal portrait of economic and social life in the US since the turn of the new century. On the face of it, it appears odd to find such a searing critique, such a negative portrayal of the state of the nation from a staunch defender of the capitalist system.
We will proceed in this essay to compare and discuss the unbroken rise of militarism over the past seventeen years. We will then demonstrate that militarism is an essential structural feature of US imperialism’s insertion in the international system.
THE political struggle has a logic all its own. A man may be an adept at walking the tight-rope. He may strain every nerve in doing so, and be entirely successful in avoiding a fall either to one side of the arena or the other. But in the class struggle man cannot walk the tight rope. The more he tries, the more obvious it becomes that he is on one side and not the other.
Something like this has happened to Trotsky in his History of the Russian Revolution. For all his pretensions that it is “an honest study of the facts, determination of their real connections,” his book is none the less—or all the more—a bulky, three-volume pamphlet against Leninism, and above all against Lenin’s Party. It would indeed be strange were matters otherwise, when a man fought Lenin’s Party, off and on, from 1903 to 1917, and again from 1927 (to take only the date of his formal expulsion) up to the present day.
The Central Committee of the PCP met on February 18 and 19, assessing the international situation, the national social and political situation and the development of the mass struggle. In the context of implementing the decisions and guidelines of the 20th Congress, it assessed aspects of the Party’s activity, political initiative and strengthening. It debated and defined the goals and the main guidelines for the local elections, confirming the CDU [alliance] and its project of work, honesty and competence.
I. Intervention, struggle, alternative
The national situation is conditioned by external and internal factors that reveal the country’s economic vulnerability, the risks arising from it and the unpredictability of its future evolution. Among them, international factors, relating to the inauguration of the new US Administration and its political, economic and trade implications; to the European Union’s ever more powerful mechanisms of domination, or the new “financing” rules announced by the ECB; or to the elements of instability and continuing war in various parts of the world.
“Globalization” is a slippery term: 1. Sometimes it is used as a description of the quantitative changes in the global economy that emerged in the 1980s. 2. Sometimes it is used to express a set of policy prescriptions that gained traction in that same period. 3. Sometimes it is used to name a theory positing a new era, epoch, or stage of capitalism, a qualitative change in the way that contemporary capitalism functions.
And sometimes the word is used in all three senses:
- In the 1980s and early 1990s, global trade began to expand at a rate greater than its historic average. Revolutionary changes in logistics– containerization, transportation, inventory control, and information transfer– dropped the cost of transportation and shipping dramatically. Political changes unified the global market with the integration of the PRC economy and the breakup of the socialist economic community. Many emerging nations joined the global market when the socialist development model lost its sponsors. Similarly, capital flows expanded with the removal of political and Cold War obstacles.
Marxist philosopher Thomas Metscher in conversation with Milena Rampoldi.
Milena Rampoldi: How did you come to Marxism? What does Marxism mean to you today, after your long career?
Thomas Metscher: That is a long story. I came to Marxism differently to many others of my social class and generation. I was lucky to have had a middle-class anti-fascist father. In contrast to what was the norm in the German lower middle-class, my father was a politically conscious opponent of Hitler at the end of the war. He openly welcomed the Red Army as liberators. He hated Hitler and fascism, as he despised every form of militarism. I was brought up in this spirit. He taught me to see anti-Semitism as Germany’s great historic crime. His thinking was in keeping with Lessing’s Nathan the Wise, which he often quoted from. He was left-wing, but bourgeois left-wing, not socialist. He was guided by Tucholsky, Ossietzky, the magazine Die Weltbühne, the great realist literature of the nineteenth century, especially Tolstoy, Fontane, Galsworthy, the modern writer Leonhard Frank, whom he taught me to love, Heinrich and Thomas Mann, also Bertolt Brecht.