Angela Gallagherrecalls the night she was shot in Belfast. 

After watching the TV documentary about Peter Heathwood on Thursday night I really do think it was horrific what happened to him, his daddy and wife Ann, whom I knew from living in the Ormeau Road.

I thought Peter spoke extremely well - and the way he remembered every detail. And as he is such a high profile figure in the Victims' movement, he is able to help the thousands of others to step up and maybe, after listening to him, allow them to tell their own story.

He certainly has made me think of myself as I am also a victim.

I was at my place of work back in 1975. It was Halloween and a friend had called in. Being only 18 at the time, we were talking about going to a disco later that night in the local hall.

As we stood talking, a fella came in, pointed at me and told me to go into the back store. He followed me in. He told me to lie down. After a few minutes which seemed like an hour - as you can imagine, everything was racing through my head - he then shot me in both legs and ran out.

I tried to crawl back into the shop. I felt I was on fire. I screamed to my friend for a drink of water, but God help her. She was hysterical. Luckily there was a chemist's shop next store and the pharmacist ran in. But as the blood was gushing like a fountain from my legs, he slipped and fell flat on his back.

By the time the ambulance arrived my daddy who had been on his way to see me, instead ended up in the ambulance with me. He could not stop being sick and vomited up all over the back of the ambulance, while at the same time trying to hold my hand.

Like Peter, I still suffer today from my injuries. Now that Peter has instilled the courage in me to come forward, just as he has, I hope that the stories of all the victims will be told in the future.

I would like to meet up with Peter as there are so many questions I need to ask him.
 

Angela Gallagher was shot and wounded in Belfast almost 50 years ago. 

I Felt I Was on Fire

 







A Morning Thought @ 1066

Anthony McIntyre
The victims of the Ballymurphy massacre were not in the wrong place. Their killers were. The victims were in their own place, their home place. They died at the hands of armed intruders whose right place was elsewhere, across a sea.

The Innocent

For fifty years the British state denied, blocked, deferred and lied about the facts of what took place in Ballymurphy over a three day period in August 1971. Contemptuous of the slain, their relatives and campaigners, the British objective for half a century was to conceal the role of a rogue regiment, "out of control, killing people on the street and knowing that they would be protected.” Comprised of psychopaths and psychotics, British paratroopers were unleashed upon an unarmed and unsuspecting civilian population. 

Their government sought to deprive the massacred of their innocence by transferring the culpability of the killers to the killed. Because of that, today’s ruling in a Belfast inquest that the victims of the Parachute Regiment massacre were blameless and that the soldiers who killed them had no justification is a damning verdict.

The inquest was a tribunal for truth. Many came to it and lied out of self-interest. To each and every liar who cynically lined up, shoulder to shoulder, to swear their fabricated evidence in the one truth forum available to the relatives, the coroner's verdict is a serious slap down. It shows that despite the best efforts of the dishonest, a determined group of people focused on the pursuit of justice can prevail.

The sustained effort by British and unionist politicians to mystify the past so that their troops and police might be exonerated, and the IRA blamed almost exclusively for the North’s politically violent conflict, is being stripped away layer by filthy layer. Theirs was a dirty war in which their security services murdered civilians without regard to gender or age, tortured prisoners, armed loyalist death squads and colluded in the execution of their homicidal sectarian strategy, and allowed their agents in all armed groups to take life on an industrial scale. Yet they refer to those who took up arms against them as terrorists. People died on hunger strike to make the point that armed resistance to British state terrorism and the atrocities it committed was not criminal.

Apologists for state terrorism like to blame the IRA for commissioning and prolonging the North’s political violence: were it not for armed republicans none of it would have happened - and like a good fairy tale we would all have lived happily ever after. There are no armed republicans in Iraq or Afghanistan but plenty of British state war criminals.

The door has again been kicked in, the rotten structure of British state policy in Ireland once more exposed in all its hideousness. And yet it is most unlikely that there will be any prosecutions of murderous Mike Jackson and his massacre men for their crime against humanity in Ballymurphy. That should not detract from today’s judgement. The relatives and friends who made it happen should not underestimate the ethical and political significance of what they have achieved. A resounding victory for the innocent over the guilty.

The Guilty

 ⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

The Innocent & The Guilty

Tommy McKearney  ✒ Patrick Magee’s memoir is an insight into both his personal history and what was for decades the harsh experience of life for Northern Ireland’s non-unionist community.


Although he will forever be identified with the bombing of the Grand Hotel, Brighton, in 1984, there is much more to this account than that one attack, no matter how noteworthy.


While never callous or triumphalist, Magee remains adamant that his participation in the IRA’s armed campaign was justified and indeed necessary. Consequently, he gives us an insight into the mind and world view not just of the thousands of young men and women who participated in that underground organisation but of the communities that supported them.

With an insider’s understanding, he tells of the feeling of abandonment after partition and of the systemic discrimination practised against a community in order to maintain a “Protestant state for a Protestant people,” a situation that resulted in the ever-present threat of state-endorsed violence in order to sustain that undemocratic regime.

In spite of the fact that he spent many of his formative years living with his parents and siblings in England, Magee always thought of himself as a Belfast person — not only that but a particular type of Belfast person: a Catholic from the Markets district of the city, a district with a distinct culture and a troubled history, one of several small nationalist enclaves that had for decades been subject to sporadic attack, causing a pervasive apprehension among its inhabitants.

As the historian Eamon Phoenix told the BBC in a podcast about the violence surrounding the foundation of Northern Ireland in 1921, Belfast was the “fulcrum” of much of the bloodshed.¹ More than 450 people were killed in the conflict between June 1920 and July 1922. Nearly 60 per cent were Catholic, and the overwhelming majority were civilians. Nor did violence end in the 1920s. Even in the relatively peaceful early 1960s rioting broke out near the Market when, in June 1964, Ian Paisley led a group of loyalist hardliners to the edge of the district.

A feature of recurring violence was the role of the state’s forces. At best neutral when nationalist areas were under attack, they were on many occasions party to the assaults. The decidedly British establishment figure Max Hastings recently wrote how in 1969 he witnessed “Protestant police hosing down a Catholic block of flats in Belfast with a heavy machine-gun, killing a nine year-old boy.”²

Because of Northern Ireland’s violent history, the IRA was viewed in many working-class Catholic areas of Belfast at least as much as their last line of defence as the armed champions of an all-Ireland republic. That much is evident as Magee writes about his grandparents and their contemporaries, several of whom were members of the IRA in the 1920s and imprisoned for their part in the organisation.

Not surprising, therefore, that with this folk memory, coupled with what he witnessed in the early 1970s, the young Magee would join the republican movement. Living not in the Markets but in the nearby and equally vulnerable Unity Flats complex, he was to recount, among much else, the trauma of seeing lethal loyalist attacks on residents of the district, the brutality of the British army, and its shooting dead of his friend Louis Scullion.

Whatever others may consider the broader context for these occurrences, the author provides his readers with an accurate insight into what was a widely held view among his contemporaries in working-class nationalist areas of Belfast and elsewhere in the North—a viewpoint that goes a long way to explain the degree of community support enjoyed by the IRA, described here by Magee as he writes of open doors, children acting as lookouts, and middle-aged women storing weapons. It was from within these communities and their experiences that the Sinn Féin electoral machine was later to develop.

This too was the maelstrom that caused Magee to emerge from internment (and intensive police harassment thereafter) with his commitment to the republican struggle unchanged, a commitment that brought him, as the IRA would have seen it, to “take the war to Britain” and eventually to the Grand Hotel in Brighton, leading him to a famous trial and years of imprisonment.

Had the Magee story ended there he might well have eventually faded into the background, as others have done, a name to be searched for occasionally by journalists looking for a story. That this didn’t happen is in no small measure due to his extraordinary meeting, and work thereafter, with Joanna Berry, the daughter of one of those killed in the Grand Hotel.

In a remarkable act of generosity, Berry sought not to excoriate but to understand what motivated those behind the bombing. Moreover, she persisted in doing so while Patrick Magee, notwithstanding his expression of remorse for her personal loss, remained, and remains, adamant that his cause and actions were justified. Together they sought to build bridges between the different protagonists in an effort to promote reconciliation. To do so they travelled extensively, speaking to audiences around the world. One such trip offered a rare insight into the extensive reach of US imperialism when, despite extensive efforts, the US government prevented Magee speaking at a public meeting in Mexico.

However well-meaning they were, and remain, their best efforts have met with little success. The mainstream media in Britain and Ireland constantly focus on their unusual relationship, casting it as a “perpetrator meets victim” sensation rather than hearing their message of the need for real understanding and respect.

To a large extent the media are merely reflecting the views and interests of the British establishment, and in particular that of the British state. It was, after all, the powers that be in London that were instrumental in the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921. It was London that turned a blind eye to Stormont’s anti-democratic practices for the following fifty years, and London that thereafter conducted a colonial-style thirty-year military campaign to contain the inevitable resistance to its misrule.

It would not profit the British state to acknowledge misgovernment on such a scale. To correct the narrative would involve revealing an appalling vista of contempt, duplicity, intrigue and the sponsoring of lethal “dirty operations” over decades, the consequences of which would further harm its image globally and also undermine its determination to influence Irish affairs into the future.

In spite of this caveat, Patrick Magee has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of a conflict that raged for almost three decades in the North of Ireland. There is, nevertheless, another story to be told of the period that will reflect what Bertolt Brecht said to those who follow in our wake:

Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow hoarse. We
Who wished to lay the foundation for gentleness
Could not ourselves be gentle

 “To Those Who Follow in Our Wake” (1939)

References

¹ Catherine Morrison, “NI 100: How Northern Ireland’s birth was marked by violence,” BBC News NI, 11 February 2021 (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-56018758)

² Max Hastings, “There will always be an England, but not a UK,” Bloomberg Opinion, 14 February 2021 (https://bloom.bg/2OWyCGq)

Patrick Magee, 2021, Where Grieving Begins: Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb. London: Pluto Press.

Tommy McKearney is a left wing and trade union activist. 
Follow on Twitter @Tommymckearney 

A Valuable Contribution

Peter Andersonkicks about the weekend soccer from the EPL. 

So, with the top two and the bottom three in the premier League practically nailed on all attention turned to the race for the last two ECL and Europa League spots. Whoever can put together a winning run at this stage of the season will take the prizes. 

First up was Leicester at home to Newcastle on Friday evening and it was a chance for Brendan and his Foxes to put down a marker. They failed miserably, going 4-0 down before recovering to lose 4-2 against an average Newcastle team. The Foxes look like repeating last year's feat of throwing it all away in the last games having played well all season and putting themselves in the box seat.

Next up was a poor Spurs side losing to Leeds which all but ends their chance of European football next season. And to think they believe they deserve to play at the top table every season without qualifying! Then Chelsea made a giant leap in securing an ECL spot by beating City. With City 1-0 up and dominating Aguero tried a Panenka style penalty and chipped the ball into a grateful Mendy's arms. The Chelsea response after the break was to score two and win a game they should have lost and put down a marker for the ECL final in a few weeks. Liverpool rounded off the day by beating Southampton to keep alive their ECL aspirations. If they win their game in hand they will be 3 points off fourth with three games to play.

Finally, Sunday saw the Toffees beat West Ham which keeps Everton's hopes of Europe alive and seriously dented the Hammers drive to finish in the top four. A Calvert-Lewin goal was enough to give three points to the Scousers. So, on current form it looks like Chelsea will take a ECL spot and the last one will be fought over by Leicester, Liverpool and West Ham, with all three capable of imploding. Leicester and Liverpool are struggling for consistency and both have to play away to Man U next week while the Hammers face an easy task, on paper, at Brighton. An Everton win at Villa will give them hope of nicking the Europa League spot. 

It really is all to play for and it is impossible to predict what will happen, but for sure there will be twists and turns. The best thing about it is that there should be some fans in the stadiums to witness it and provide some much-needed atmosphere.

Peter Anderson is a Unionist with a keen interest in sports.

Moving Weekend

 







A Morning Thought @ 1065

People And NatureReview by Simon Pirani of Breaking Things At Work: the Luddites were right about why you hate your job, by Gavin Mueller (Verso, 2021)


Are the technologies developed by giant capitalist corporations – Walmart’s logistics or Elon Musk’s driverless cars – the foundation on which a post-capitalist society can be built? No way, argues Gavin Mueller.

He challenges “Marxist theoreticians” who see “the capitalist development of technology as the means for creating both abundance and leisure”, to be “realised once the masses finally [take] the reins of government and industry” (page 127).

Against these technocratic illusions, Mueller proposes “a decelerationist politics: of slowing down change, undermining technological progress, and limiting capital’s rapacity, while developing organisation and cultivating militancy”.

Alfa Romeo strikers march in January 1972.
The placard reads “the Working Class Goes to Heaven”.
From Libcom

Allowing Walmart or Amazon to “swallow the globe” would entrench “exploitative models of production and distribution”, and channel resources to reactionary billionaires, he writes:

Letting technology take its course will lead not to egalitarian outcomes, but authoritarian ones, as the ultra-wealthy expend their resources on shielding themselves from any accountability to the rest of us: postapocalyptic bunkers, militarised yachts, private islands and even escapes to outer space (page 128.)

Given the persistence – in trade union hierarchies and even among leftist writers – of technocratic dogma (fantasies about electric cars or geoengineering, for example), Mueller’s book is very welcome.

He grounds his “decelerationism” not only in texts, but in workers’ struggles to confront, confound or control technologies in the workplace – starting with the Luddites in early 19th century England, who smashed machines that were used by employers to cut pay and tighten labour discipline.

Mueller aspires to a 21st century version of Luddism, which declared itself hostile not to machines as such but to “machinery hurtful to commonality”. One of his goals is to “turn Marxists into Luddites”; another, to “turn people critical of technology into Marxists” (page 5). He explains:

I am not simply lobbing advice at movements by telling them to go out and break machines. What I try to do is show that workers themselves have repeatedly become Luddites in struggle (page 7.)

Examples are given stretching from the Luddites, to workers who resisted Taylorist discipline in the early 20th century, to battles against the control implicit in automation during the post-war boom, to modern-day resistance to corporate enclosure of the internet and workplace robots.

Mueller interrogates what Karl Marx himself wrote about technology and the labour process. Many Marxists have too narrowly understood Marx’s concept of “productive forces”, and the tension between these and the social relations of capitalism, he argues. Marx saw human labour, “including its skills, abilities, techniques and most importantly its conscious application”, as a force of production (page 20):

What is fettered [i.e. constrained by capitalist social relations] is not technological development itself, but a relationship between worker and machine in which the worker has conscious agency.

Mueller also insists that Marx should be understood “not as a designer of a future society, nor even as a theoretician of the necessary grounds for socialism, but as a cartographer of proletarian struggle” (page 24). In the 21st century, Marxists should:

[E]xamine the ways historical struggles posited an alternative relationship to work and liberation, where control over the labour process leads to greater control over other social processes, and where the ends of work are human enrichment rather than abstract productivity.

These struggles “point towards the only vehicle for a liberation from capitalism” – a “militant struggling class that attacks capital in all its manifold dominations, including the technological” (page 29).

 How machine breaking looked to the Penny magazine, 1844

Mueller shows how, throughout the history of the workers’ movement, socialists found themselves divided between those who saw “technological progress” as the necessary basis for a transition to post-capitalist society, and those who saw technology as an arena of struggle.

He comments on the English socialist William Morris’s dispute with the techno-utopian Edward Bellamy; the polemic between Walker Smith, a leader of the Industrial Workers of the World in the pre-first-world-war USA and technocratic trends in the union; and the German communist philosopher Walter Benjamin’s dissent from the prevailing social-democratic orthodoxy that technological progress would pave the way to socialism.

Mueller’s chapter on struggles against automation during the post-war boom focuses on the USA. He cites discussions in a small group of worker militants, including the Trinidadian writer C.L.R James, that had split from the Trotskyist movement and gathered around the newspaper News and Letters.

Some, but not all, of the group perceived in workers’ struggles over technology, such as a series of bitter mineworkers’ strikes in 1949-50 against the introduction of continuous mining machines underground, aspirations to challenge the nature of work.

Mineworkers were not asking for higher wages, but questioning “what kind of labour should man do?” and “why should there be such a gulf between thinking and doing”, Raya Dunayaevskaya wrote (page 68). Charles Denby, a Detroit car worker, asked:

Why do people assume that automation is the way people will want to work in a new society? Why do they assume that all that matters is that the workers will be in control? Will “being in control” of the machine lighten the work, or make it less boring? Won’t work be something completely different? If work will be something different – tied up with life itself – it can not be the same as Automation that uses men as part of its operations (page 71).

Some members of the News and Letters group worked on the docks, where labour practices were being turned upside down by containerisation. Sabotage and go-slows, as well as strikes, were used to resist new forms of labour discipline.

These experiences in the USA would benefit from comparison with the labour struggles in Italy in the 1960s, and the autonomist Marxists who participated in them, which are only mentioned in passing by Mueller.

As far as I understand, the autonomists’ ideas about class composition – that is, the way that the working class and its struggles were shaped by, and in their turn shaped, the labour process – were very much part of the challenge to technocratic “Marxism” in which Mueller is interested.

The historian of Italian autonomism, Steve Wright, describes how the editors of Classe Operaia, one of the first significant autonomist newspapers in the 1960s, unlike many Marxists, saw the “making” of the working class as resulting from “an ongoing interplay between the articulations of labour-power produced by capitalist development, and labour’s struggles to overcome them”.[1]

Witnessing the changes brought about by automation in the Italian car industry, the autonomists asked:

Was the proletarian subject really destroyed by the reorganisation of production which periodically followed industrial conflict, or was it like some single-celled creature, which could be infinitely divided whilst still retaining its genetic code intact?

Wright refers to the Italian autonomists’ understanding of the labour process in his discussion of their eventual political defeat: one weakness was their “too-narrow focus upon what Marx termed the immediate process of production as the essential source of working-class experience and struggle”.[2]

A factory assembly at Alfa Romeo in Italy, during the 1969 strike wave. From Libcom

The struggle to transform the labour process in a single workplace, or series of workplaces, is one thing. The struggle to transform the labour process in society as a whole, another. How do we envisage the relationship of one to the other? 

The French socialist philosopher Andre Gorz, having witnessed the wave of working-class struggle in both Italy and France in the late 1960s – and in opposition to the dogmatic, Stalinist-inflected ideology that then dominated the “official” labour movement in Europe – made a compelling attempt to answer such questions in his book Farewell to the Working Class, first published in 1980.

The basic premise of “workers’ power”, as understood in the 1960s, was that “the social process of production was as transparent and intelligible as the labour process that existed in each workshop and factory” and “the site of production was also the site of power”.[3] But Gorz argued that this was no longer true, because of automation, the increasing complexity of productive processes and their internationalisation – what would later become known as “globalisation”:

Instead of a hierarchy and an order in production defined by workers, Taylorism made it possible to impose a hierarchy and order defined by factory management.

This use of technology to control workers meant that “taking power” over production, a popular idea in the labour movement then, had become “meaningless […] at least in the case of the factory as it is”:

Workers’ councils […] have become anachronistic […] The only imaginable form of workers’ power now is the power to control and veto: the power to refuse certain conditions and types of work, to define acceptable norms and enforce respect for these norms upon the managerial hierarchy.

Gorz described this type of power as “negative and subordinate”; it placed limits on management but did not present it with autonomous forms of workers’ power. That was why, in his view, attempts in Italy to assert working-class power had usually resulted in the reintegration of workers’ councils into conformist trade union structures.

Andre Gorz and his wife Dorine. After her long illness,
they ended their lives by suicide together in 2007

From these sombre reflections on the movement, Gorz moved on to challenge the idea of the “proletariat” which, he argued, no longer existed in the form that orthodox Marxists imagined.

This working class had been replaced, Gorz argued, by a “non-class of post-industrial proletarians”, which embraced women engaged in domestic labour, the lowest-paid and super-exploited workers such as Blacks in the USA, and unskilled and temporary workers doing what David Graeber, decades later, called “bullshit jobs”.

Some technocratic Marxists suggest – perhaps because they have focused more on the title of Farewell to the Working Class than its content – that Gorz had simply abandoned hope in the working class as the motive force of historical change. This is a serious mis-reading. (See End note: Reading Andre Gorz.)

For Gorz, prospects for the transition out of capitalism rested on the “non-class” of post-proletarians finding ways to constitute itself as a historical subject:

The negativity which, according to Marx, was to be embodied in the working class has by no means disappeared. It has been displaced and has acquired a more radical form in a new social area. As it has shifted, it has acquired a new form and content which directly negate the ideology, the material base, the social relations and the juridical organisation (or state form) of capitalism. It has the added advantage over Marx’s working class of being immediately conscious of itself; its existence is at once indissolubly subjective and objective, collective and individual.[4]

Gorz envisaged that this “non-class” would expand the space for autonomy, at the expense of heteronomy, and move towards a society in which work, as an alienated, increasingly meaningless and controlled activity, was overcome.

I won’t try to give an account of Gorz’s libertarian utopianism, or my view of it, here. (There’s not much on line in English that I can see, but this gives a sense of his view of the labour process.) My point is that, forty years ago, he was thinking hard about the issues Mueller raises.

Perhaps a retrospective study of Gorz’s writing could help us to think through some of the dilemmas we are confronted with, in a world where capital has mobilised technologies unheard of in the 1980s, and where it has so wielded them – especially the fossil-fuelled ones – as to accelerate and exacerbate global warming and other ecological crises.

Mueller has a strong chapter on 21st century technologies, in which he traces computerisation and the development under corporate control of the internet and now artificial intelligence (AI) – and discusses the manifold forms of resistance, whether by free and alternative software communities, hackers or warehouse workers.

In his conclusions, Mueller points to the idea of autonomy – previously articulated by Gorz – as central to the transformation of the labour process:

Luddism, inspired as it is by workers’ struggles at the point of production, emphasises autonomy: the freedom of conduct, ability to set standards, and the continuity and improvement of working conditions. […] Luddism contains a critical perspective on technology that pays particular attention to technology’s relationship to the labour process and working conditions. In other words, it views technology not as neutral but as a site of struggle. Luddism rejects production for production’s sake: it is critical of “efficiency” as an end goal, as there are other values at stake in work (page 129.)

Luddism can generalise; it is not an individual moral stance, Mueller concludes. It is antagonist: it sets itself against existing capitalist social relations.

Hopefully, Breaking Things at Work will open up discussion about struggles to reconstitute the labour process, and the part they will play in challenging capital. 5 May 2021.

More on People & Nature about technology and the labour process.

■ Reviews of Postcapitalism by Paul Mason, Inventing the Future by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, and Fully Automated Luxury Communism by Aaron Bastani

■ Reviews of The Bleeding Edge by Bob Hughes and Goodbye iSlave by Jack Linchuan Qiu

“The Instrument of Labour Strikes Down the Labourer”: Marx on technology is worth reading

■ Follow People & Nature on twitterinstagramtelegram … or whatsapp. Or email peoplenature[at]yahoo.com, and I’ll send you updates

End note: Reading Andre Gorz

Matthew Huber, in an essay on “Ecology at the point of production”, writes: “By the 1970s, many radical socialists, Gorz among them, were saying ‘[f]arewell to the working class’ as they looked to new social movements to lead the way for a new left.” But now (2020), Huber writes, the “movement of movements approach” does not seem to be working.

The reader might understand by this that Gorz lost interest in working-class or workplace struggles. Actually, it’s clear that he followed those struggles closely, and was endeavouring to contextualise them in the sweeping changes in world capitalism.

The only other reference to Gorz in Huber’s article is a truncated quotation: “Gorz wrote in 1980, ‘the ecological struggle … can not be subordinated to the political objectives of socialism.’” This can easily be mis-read, if taken out of the context of Gorz’s complex argument – made decades before others accepted it – that socialism and ecological principles are indissoluble.

The whole passage reads:

Socialism [which at the time meant, among other things, bureaucratic rule in the Soviet Union] is not immune to technofascism. It will, on the contrary, fall prey to it whenever and wherever it sets out to enhance and multiply the powers of the state without developing simultaneously the autonomy of civil society. This is why the ecological struggle is, in its present form, an indispensable dimension of the struggle against capitalism. It can not be subordinated to the political objectives of socialism. Only where the left is committed to a fully decentralised and democratic socialism can it give political expression to ecological demands. The organised left, in France as in other countries, has not yet reached this stage; it has not incorporated ecological principles in either its practice or its programme” (Andre Gorz, Ecology as Politics (Pluto Press, 1987), page 20).

Gorz’s point, as I understand it, was that a “socialism” that is centralised and undemocratic, such as governed a great chunk of the world in 1980, could not be integrated with ecological principles. I would urge people to read the whole of this book for themselves.

[1] Steve Wright, Storming Heaven: class composition and struggle in Italian autonomist Marxism (London, Pluto Press, 2017), page 71

[2] Wright, Storming Heaven, page 209

[3] Andre Gorz, Farewell to the Working Class (London: Pluto Press, 1997), page 48

[4] Gorz, Farewell to the Working Class, page 68

Poster reproduced with thanks. 
From Shaun Slifer of Justseeds 

⏭ Keep up with People And Nature.  Follow People & Nature on twitter … instagram … telegram … or whatsapp. Or email peoplenature[at]yahoo.com, and you will be sent updates. 

Luddism For The Age Of Robotics

Ten links to a diverse range of opinion that might be of interest to TPQ readers. They are selected not to invite agreement but curiosity. Readers can submit links to pieces they find thought provoking.


Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Ten

The DUP is at an ideological crossroads with its historic contests for both leadership and deputy leadership. Political commentator, Dr John Coulter, explores the challenges for the various factions ahead of Friday’s ‘Big Vote’.

Now that we know the official runners for the DUP’s historic contest for leadership and deputy leadership, the real question for punters is whether the party reverts to its founding Paisleyite roots, or confirms a role more akin to the Ulster Unionist Party under its late leader James Molyneaux in 1986?

The DUP’s founding father, the late Rev Ian Paisley, established the DUP in 1971 - 20 years after he had founded his Christian fundamentalist denomination, the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Indeed, the Free P’s were often dubbed ‘the DUP at prayer’ such was the grip which Free Presbyterians had on the direction of the movement.

When Rev Paisley clinched both the Bannside Stormont seat and the North Antrim Westminster seat in 1970 from the Ulster Unionists under the banner of Protestant Unionist, he did so by giving a political voice to two previously muted sections of the pro-union community in Northern Ireland at that time - working class loyalists, and fundamentalist and evangelical Christians.

In the late 1960s and very early Seventies, Ulster Unionism was dominated by the ‘Big House’ Unionist families and the so-called upper middle class ‘Fur Coat Brigade’. Christian fundamentalism and even staunch evangelicals had no real voice in the dominant Unionist Party in terms of religious affiliation.

Since its formation, apart from occasional election successes in specific constituencies, the DUP played second fiddle politically in the pro-Union community until the 2003 Assembly and 2005 Westminster elections when it overtook the UUP to become the leading party for Unionism.

Since then, and especially after the 2006 St Andrews Agreement which ushered in the so-called ‘Chuckle Brothers’ era of Paisley senior and the late Martin McGuinness a year later, the DUP has slowly liberalised from its founding roots to evolve into a political replica of the 1986 UUP. Its recently deposed leader, Arlene Foster, came from the UUP.

Likewise, while the DUP under Rev Paisley was to inherit the UUP’s members, seats and position within the pro-Union spectrum, it was to also inherit the UUP’s infighting factions - although for many years the DUP had the discipline not to air its political dirty linen in public.

While Paisley senior, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster were all ‘anointed’ as DUP leaders without a contest, Friday will see the first-ever contest for these top posts.

However, the real issue is not so much who will be appointed by the DUP’s ‘electoral college’, but what direction that team will take the party in.

The fundamentalist Paisleyites will be hoping for their ‘dream team’ of Stormont Farming Minister Edwin Poots for leader and his campaign manager, Assemblyman Paul Frew from North Antrim, for deputy.

The evangelical modernisers will want Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to scoop the top post, with his fellow Westminster MP Gregory Campbell from East Londonderry as deputy. Then again, would North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley - a candidate for deputy leader - be seen as a compromise candidate if the leadership was decided by only a handful of ‘electoral college’ votes?

A Poots/Frew victory would see the power base of the DUP rest with Stormont and a staunchly devolutionist approach given that the DUP no longer has a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the Conservative party - especially taking into account current PM Boris Johnston’s Commons majority and the fact the Tories are notching up previously safe Labour-held seats, such as Hartlepool.

A Donaldson/Campbell victory would equally see the DUP’s power base shift to Westminster in the battle to combat the effects of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Could a situation arise whereby Donaldson or Campbell - or both - see the need to forsake their Westminster seats and return to the devolved Assembly in next May’s expected Stormont poll?

Election wise, the growth of the Alliance vote - especially in traditionally Unionist seats - must be of a serious concern to the future DUP leadership.

Data kicking around suggests that for every vote the DUP lost to the even more hardline Traditional Unionist Voice of Jim Allister’s, the DUP lost three votes to Alliance.

The gamble which the DUP must take in its analysis is - are these former DUP voters genuine liberal voters, or is the so-called ‘Alliance Bounce’ a massive protest vote by Unionists against the DUP over issues such as RHI, Brexit and a perceived disconnection with the loyalist working class?

Throw into the mix the debate over an Irish Language Act and the DUP could find itself again playing second fiddle politically come May 2022, but this time to Sinn Fein in the Assembly. Indeed, could the ‘nuclear’ result come about whereby the next Stormont Executive is not a power-sharing administration dominated by Sinn Fein and DUP ministers, but by Sinn Fein and Alliance ministers? In that scenario, a border poll is inevitable.

Does the new DUP leadership decide to battle to get the Protocol scrapped completely, or mess it up from within by making the Protocol physically unworkable in Northern Ireland? Would this latter strategy involve collapsing the Stormont Executive and Assembly, ushering in a new era of Direct Rule from Westminster, or worse still for the pro-union community, some form of joint authority between Dublin and London?

In short, does the DUP rebrand itself ideologically so that it resembles an anti-Protocol version of the now defunct liberal movement, NI21, in a bid to combat the drift to Alliance. This would make the so-called middle ground of politics the main battlefield for the May 2022 showdown.

That risks alienating Right-wing Unionism and loyalism. Could a more middle ground DUP be to the advantage of the TUV or a rejuvenation of the UUP, which has witnessed a steady decline in its fortunes since the turn of the new millennium?

Could we even see loyalists forming yet another movement with a revamped version of the old Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party, which existed in the early 1980s?

Or, would loyalism be content with voting for the current TUV, the Progressive Unionist Party, or the Ulster Political Research Group? Will the new DUP leadership be able to mend the bridges with the loyalist working class - and especially the Loyalist Communities Council - in time to get their electoral blessing for May 2022?

Similarly, would a Donaldson/Campbell victory use Westminster purely as its stomping ground, thereby sacrificing the Assembly as a protest against the Protocol.

It should not be forgotten that Donaldson cut his teeth politically under two of Unionism’s most devout integrationists - the late Jim Molyneaux and the late Enoch Powell.

Likewise, a Poots/Frew victory could see the DUP lurch to the Unionist Right-wing ideologically to combat any drift to the TUV. This would be based on the assumption that DUP voters who went to Alliance were doing so as a protest and not because they had converted en masse to liberal Unionism.

As the saying goes, Friday will tell a tale!

Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 10.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online

Democratic Unionist Preaching, Or Democratic Unionist People ➖ The Real Crossroads For The DUP.

 

A Morning Thought @ 1064

Anthony McIntyre ✒ is of the view that the issue of Bobby Sand's funeral wishes is far from being resolved.  

Forty years after his death, Bobby Sands remains a figure of considerable interest both at home and abroad. His courage, unquenchable thirst for justice, and unalloyed selflessness continue to inspire awe and reverence. Those of us who took part in the blanket protest with him are forever poised, heads bowed in respect for the tremendous act of dignified defiance that ended his short life. 

Bobby died on peaceful protest against the British men and women of violence. Whatever prompted Jim Gibney to say he didn’t really want to talk about him again, it is not a sentiment shared by me or many other blanketmen. The name Bobby Sands will always have a place in our conversation until the end of our time.

While the armed struggle that he was part of failed to coerce the British out of Ireland, failed to coerce the North into a unitary state, and failed to end partition, he and his nine comrades very successfully prevented that struggle from being portrayed by the British as an aggravated crime wave. In 1971 a republican weekly paper made the observation that funny how it is that all the countries Britain occupies are suddenly filled with criminal types. Max Stirner whose death preceded that of Bobby Sands by more than a century intuited the cynical penchant for skewing on the part of officialdom: “The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual, crime.” Bobby Sands is the epitome of everything that is not a criminal enterprise. 

The fortieth anniversary of the late IRA volunteer saw the emergence of a previously unpublished comm penned by him a week before he commenced his hunger strike. In it he expressed a strong desire to be buried in a place other than Milltown Cemetery to which he harboured an aversion. His preference was Ballina where the previous two Provisional IRA hunger strikers, Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg, are interred. He also asked not to be wrapped in a shroud but a blanket. The idea of a shroud he found humiliating.

His remains being wrapped in a blanket was not a shock. The blanket had defined the prison protest and he identified as a blanketman, even telling British secretary of state Roy Mason "bury me in my blanket." What very much did jolt the senses was his wish not to be buried in Milltown. Speaking to a former prisoner the other day, Alex McCrory, the view was expressed to me that being buried in Milltown seemed the best strategic choice to make if the lives of the other three men on hunger strike were to stand any chance of being saved. A massive display of public solidarity in Belfast with the hunger strikers and their cause was indispensable if the British Prime Minister was to be forced to step back from her determined position of allowing all the men to die.

It is a perspective I wholly concur with. Whether this was discussed with Bobby Sands by the republican leaders strategically managing the hunger strike, we do not know. There seem to be no comms which allow us to draw a conclusion one way or the other. What we are left with is the expressed preference of Bobby Sands not to be buried in Milltown.

The Bobby Sands Trust and Sinn Fein have both responded to the emergence of the comm. Michelle O’Neill in dismissing its publication as crass claimed to have “seen other communications where Bobby obviously changed his wishes in terms of his burial requests.” Perhaps she should share them because thus far nothing has been produced that would show Bobby Sands assenting to be buried in Milltown or in a shroud.

Sinn Fein claimed that:

He wrote in comms about the possibility of being buried in Carnmoney, of somewhere in the South and specifically of Ballina. However he changed his mind on each in turn and in the last comm dated 9 March where Ballina is referenced he explicitly states that he has changed his mind.

What we now know is that Bobby changed his mind from being buried in Ballina. We just do not know what he changed it to. We have seen nothing from Sinn Fein to show that he changed his mind “on each in turn”. If he did where is the evidence to support this claim? Given his closeness to his sister, Faughart in County Louth remains a strong possibility. There is nothing to indicate he had a change of mind or heart about that. If he changed his mind on Faughart where is the comm showing it? If he changed his mind on Milltown, again where is the comm to show this?

Danny Morrison was, unusually for him, fairly measured in his response, sticking to detail rather than smearing those who published the comm or spoke to the media about it. Yet, like O’Neill and Sinn Fein, he has singularly failed to sound convincing. He claimed it was assumed that Belfast republicans would be buried in Milltown. As far as an assumption goes it seems a fair enough one to have made. But if it was an assumption, where now the Sinn Fein claim that Bobby changed his mind? If he did change his mind about Milltown and informed the leadership about it, there would have been no need to assume. What is not an assumption is that the Hunger Strike Committee was in possession of the comm where Bobby Sands specifically objected to a Milltown burial. That comm was never made public, was withheld from the Sands family, and was only discovered fortuitously in the National Archive in Dublin.

Morrison, when speaking to the Irish News, obliquely had a go at Marcella and Bernadette Sands, sisters of Bobby. He claimed that when they both sat on the Bobby Sands Trust they did not raise their brother’s final resting place as an issue. Why would they when they were never told that Bobby had objected to Milltown? The Hunger Strike Committee of which Morrison was a member, however, did know about this at the time but never told the family. Moreover, Morrison had to have known since the death of Rosaleen Sands in 2018 that the family were in possession of information indicating that her son's funeral wishes had been subverted. Never once did he comment about this on the Bobby Sands Trust website. Nor did he publish on the same website the eulogy delivered by Bernadette to her mother. 

There is one way to settle the matter - produce the comms in their entirety: not excerpts, not redactions, just the full, uncensored words of Bobby Sands. He worked hard enough to produce them. Why hide them? Let us leave the matter concluding that only Roy Mason, Humphrey Atkins, Margaret Thatcher and their ilk wanted the words of Bobby Sands silenced. 

 ⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Just The Full Uncensored Words Of Bobby Sands

Belfast Telegraph Political Editor Suzanne Breen ✒ talks to the daughter of hunger-striker Mickey Devine about the secret British deal that could have saved his life 40 years ago.

1-May-2021


Mickey Devine's young family by his coffin

She was only five years old, but Louise Devine remembers every detail of her last visit to her father Mickey before he died on hunger-strike. She sat by his bed in the H-Blocks prison hospital with her big brother who was eight.

"There was a horrible smell of rotting flesh as daddy's body broke down," she says. 

His organs were collapsing. He was blind so he couldn't see me or my brother. He was told, 'Louise is on your right and Michael is on your left'. He held our hands and felt the shape of our faces. I remember his cold, bony hand on my flesh. He could barely talk and mumbled words which I couldn't make out. He drifted in and out of consciousness. His eyes were half open. The last image I have is of the tears streaming down his face as we left.

Louise remembers standing outside waiting for the hospital lift: 

If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have run back into that room and begged him to end his hunger-strike. There was a secret British offer which could have saved the lives of the last six men who died. It was rejected by the Sinn Fein and IRA leadership outside the jail even though it granted almost all the prisoners' demands. We weren't told about it. Had daddy known, he would have ended his hunger-strike. He was 27 years old and had less than two years left to serve in jail. He had two children whom he worshipped. He had everything to live for. I'm very proud of him, but I feel he died for nothing.

It's 40 years next Wednesday since Bobby Sands died on hunger-strike. Over the next 15 weeks, a further nine men - six IRA and three INLA - would follow him. Mickey Devine from Derry was the last to die after 60 days on hunger-strike.

Tragic: hunger-striker Mickey Devine

He was known as 'Red Mickey' because of his bright red hair and left-wing politics. He joined the INLA in 1974. Two years later, he was arrested after an arms raid in Donegal. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail for possession.

Louise, who was 18 months at the time, has no memories of her father before he went to prison. Her parents' marriage broke up when he was there, but she and her brother visited the H-Blocks with her Aunt Margaret.

When her father joined the dirty protest, she was afraid of "this skinny, smelly man with a beard wearing an old army blanket". She says: "I would cry, throw a tantrum and refuse to sit on his knee. I was petrified of him. It made him so sad." Louise says her father did everything possible to reach out to her and her brother Michael. He couldn't buy them presents so he made cartoon hankies. Today, they're her most treasured possessions.

Patsy O’Hara in his coffin

On one, he drew Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry, and the Seven Dwarfs. "To Louise and Michael from Daddy," is written on the cloth. Another hankie shows republican prisoners with faces like monkeys. "Looking at them breaks my heart," she says. "Despite all he was suffering, he was still a loving daddy trying to make his kids laugh."

As her father deteriorated on hunger-strike, Louise remembers him lying in bed in agony, covered in bedsores. She climbed on to the mattress to get close to him but Aunt Margaret told her to get down as she'd hurt him. "Then, daddy said in a voice that was so weak we could barely hear, 'She's alright, let her be'. He was just delighted that I was no longer frightened of him. He held me tight, and it made me so happy."

Louise had moments of guilt too:

The screws kept this big bowl of fruit by his bed. We were too poor to have fresh fruit at home so I was always staring at it. There was this big red, shiny apple that I wanted so much. I had the sense not to take it, but I felt bad for longing to.
The annual hunger-strike march on the Falls Road in 1985


The Devine children were woken at 8am on August 10 1981 to news that their father was dead. At the wake, Louise tried to climb into his coffin. At the graveside, she was terrified when the INLA fired shots over it. With Michael, she threw red roses on to the coffin.

Louise suffers from severe anxiety which counsellors have linked to childhood trauma: "At this time of year as the hunger-strike anniversary approaches, it gets worse. I find it really hard to cope, I have to go on tablets."

Over the years, she has asked for meetings with key Sinn Fein figures to discuss the British offer that she believes would have saved her father's life. "Nobody has ever met me," she says. "Don't ask me what I think of them because I'll only start to curse and swear."

Bobby Sands’ funeral

Richard O'Rawe lives just across the road from Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast where three of the hunger-strikers are buried. Not a week passes that he doesn't visit the republican plot where Bobby Sands, Joe McDonnell, and Kieran Doherty lie. In 1977, he was sentenced to eight years in jail for robbing the Northern Bank in Mallusk for the IRA. He recalls the stench and squalor of the blanket protest when he entered the H-Blocks.

"The food was inedible. We'd be given pasties as hard as rocks. It would break your teeth even trying to eat them," he says.

We'd throw them into the corner of the cell, and bluebottles would lay their eggs in them, and soon there'd be hundreds of maggots. They infested our hair and beards." He speaks of the hunger-strikers' different personalities. Some were quiet and introspective while Bobby Sands was "the life and soul" of the wing: "He never shut up. His enthusiasm was infectious. For him, every blanketman was a Spartan."

O'Rawe was the IRA prisoners' public relations officer. He drafted the statement announcing the start of their fast on March 1, 1981. Twenty years later, he wrote a book Blanketman: An untold story of the H-Block hunger-strike which lifted the lid on events during the fast.

He claimed that, four days before the fifth hunger strike Joe McDonnell died in July, the British made an offer which effectively granted their five demands bar free association. Margaret Thatcher had "blinked first" and compromised on prison uniforms, work, visits, letters and segregation.

O'Rawe says that the IRA's prison leadership accepted the offer but it was rejected by a clandestine committee outside the jail set by up the Army Council. "Men with hearts like lions were let die by people not fit to lace their boots," he says.

Certain Sinn Fein figures were focused on the "rich political harvest" the hunger-strike was bringing and wanted to ensure Owen Carron won the Fermanagh and South Tyrone the following month. Sinn Fein has always strongly denied that an offer existed which could have saved the men's lives and that it prolonged the hunger-strike for electoral gain.

Thomas 'Dixie' Elliott is an ex-IRA prisoner who believes O'Rawe's claims. He came from a mixed marriage in Derry - his father was a Protestant - but joined the Provisionals and was sentenced to 12 years for membership, hijacking, and attempted murder.

For three months in 1979, he was Bobby Sands' cell-mate. "My strongest memories of Bobby are of his singing and story-telling," he says. 

People think we sat in our cells singing all these rebel songs. Bobby sang the Bee Gees more than anything else. I can still remember his Massachusetts. We used the cell walls as a notepad. Bobby was forever writing poetry or songs there. A Co Antrim prisoner told him about a poteen maker and Bobby wrote McIlhatton. I suggested he write about Derry, and he penned Back Home in Derry. Both songs were later recorded by Christy Moore. Bobby was a great motivator on the wing. He asked the men to write poetry to try to keep them occupied. Skill varied hugely, but we were all instructed not to laugh when others read out their poems even if they were rubbish. That didn't always happen.

Two Derry brothers were also in the H-Blocks in 1981. Tony O'Hara (25) was serving five years for possessing a gun and armed robbery; Patsy (23) was doing eight years for possessing a hand grenade.

As children, they'd been on the first civil rights march in Derry in 1968 when police batoned peaceful protesters. Both went onto join the Fianna, the IRA's junior wing. The family pub was later blown up by the Provisionals. Patsy O'Hara was shot by the British Army when he was 14 and interned two years later. On release, he joined the INLA. He became the fourth hunger-striker to die.

"We were in jail together," says Tony O'Hara:

Yet in Patsy's 61 days on hunger-strike, I was allowed to see him for just two hours and 15 minutes. A camera was smuggled into the jail and a picture taken of him sitting in his wheelchair. He's holding his head up with his hand as his neck muscles are too weak to do it. The photos were published in The Irish Press. The last time I saw Patsy was very hard. His whole body was shutting down and his voice was croaky. The tears welled up inside me but I held them back. I knew if I started to cry, I wouldn't stop and I didn't want the screws to see that.

O'Hara says their mother Peggy was determined that Patsy wouldn't die:

She was dismayed when other mothers didn't take their sons off hunger-strike as they neared death. She told Patsy: 'I don't care about Ireland or the world, I'm going to save you.' But then he had a heart attack. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, he whispered, 'I'm sorry mammy we didn't win. Let the fight go on.' She honoured his wish. She sat and stroked his hair as he died.

O'Hara says that when his brother's body was released, it had been violated: "His nose had been broken, his face burnt with cigarettes, and he was covered in bruises." He got out of jail for the funeral. When he was released permanently two months later, he was "full of rage, and wanted a gun to kill people".

His views on 'armed struggle' have since completely changed. He believes "John Hume was right". He thinks dissident republican groups should call a ceasefire. His book, The Time Has Come' has just been published.

"I believe Patsy died in vain," O'Hara says. 

He died for a socialist republic. Not for a state that, even if the border goes, is run by the likes of Micheal Martin, Leo Varadkar, or Mary Lou McDonald - an Ireland where there's poverty, homelessness, and austerity. If I could turn the clock back, I'd never have got involved. I think Patsy still would have because he was very stubborn. He's dead almost 40 years but I can still see us as kids. We were a very musical family. We'd sit there on Thursday nights at home watching Top of the Pops, strumming our guitars, not knowing what lay ahead.

Hunger-Striker Mickey Devine's Daughter ➖ 'I'm Very Proud Of Him, But I Feel That He Died For Nothing'

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Nine