Justice and taking sides

Russell Grinker grinker at SPAMmweb.co.za
Thu Oct 14 05:53:37 MDT 1999


This was probably one of the most interesting times in UK politics under
Thatcher because it showed the left in that country what life can really be
like in a situation of war and helped toughen up people fast.  One of the
first things I remember was going to picket outside a Labour Party Rally in
Wandsworth and shouting slogans against the former Party leader Michael
Foot who had jettisoned his famous pacifism (he had called himself an
"inveterate peacemonger") to support the war.  For Labour, Galtieri's regime
were suddenly the new nazis and the war had become a freedom crusade.
Thatcher quickly
used the situation to declare striking (railway I think) workers unpatriotic
for taking action at a time of war and said something like "call a strike
and we'll call an airstrike!".  We produced a popular pamphlet almost
overnight called "Malvinas are Argentina's!" and the response to this was
surprisingly good as it gave an alternative explanation of an issue which
everyone was talking about.  Unfortunately, as you point out, many who were
great fighters against the Galtieri "dictatorship" suddenly found that
Britain was a potential liberator of oppressed Argentinians.  Such leftists
were rather
ambivalent in their attitude to the war, preferring either silence or
equivocation.  The role of leftists as supporters of "humanitarian
intervention" which we now know so well was then only beginning to take
shape.  Of course the war was particularly a problem for the left inside the
Labour Party doing "revolutionary" entry work - their revolutionary moment
obviously not yet come and they mostly kept their heads down.  I think it
was because we had a tradition of always calling for a victory to the Irish
against Britain and regularly campaigning around this on the streets, that
we were not disorientated by the Malvinas war nor wary of coming out with a
public anti-British position.


-----Original Message-----
From: Julio <julfb at sinectis.com.ar>
To: marxism at lists.panix.com <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Date: Thursday, October 14, 1999 2:30 AM
Subject: RE: Justice and taking sides

>Thank you, Russell for these words. I didn't know about these marchs in
>London. I was in Stockholm in this time. We could join 25 persons in order
>to march to the english ambassad and against the british agression. I
>know what is to be in minory and how all people (politicians, journalists,
>intellectuals,etc.) who yesterday cried with us against the dictatorship,
>now turned their backs to us. One thing was to be pity the poor and
>persecuted argentinian and another very different to habe solidarity with
>their claim of suverignity.
>> I think Paul Flewers is avoiding the real issue.  When an imperialist
>> country like Britain is at war with a small country like Iraq or
>> his duty in Britain should be to take sides with that country.  The
>> of the leadership, whether it be a Saddam or a Galtieri, is of little
>> consequence.  The slogan in my day was "Viva Argentina!" as we marched
>> through the streets of London and similarly, "Victory to the Iraqi
>> These were not popular slogans.  On a number of occasions the cops
>> into our contingent and beat people with their batons, while the
>> of the demonstrations denounced us over megaphones as provocateurs.

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