Volume 3, Number 16
10 February 2006
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) The IRA and Nazism
3) The Crisis in the European Union
4) Young, Rich, Black
5) Frontline Latin America
6) What's Online
7) What's On
This edition of The Plough carries two rather long articles. One by
Brian Hanley, a noted historian and opponent of historical
revisionism, explores the relationship between the IRA and Nazism in
the late 1930s and '40s.
Perhaps some republicans would wish to gloss over that part of
republican history. We do not for we believe it is better to know than
to remain ignorant. Those who criticize the Republican Socialist
Movement for its emphasis on the class question would do well to
examine how too close an identification with the resolving of the
national question by force and force alone can lead to appalling
alliances. Only recently, an Irish republican group congratulated
Hamas on its election victory in Palestine. Hamas is anti-Semitic, for
the oppression of women, anti-gay, and clerical. We do not welcome
that result although we understand why the Palestinian people voted as
The second long article is by Anthony Coughlan and deals with the
European Union. This is timely as only this week the Irish government
gave the go ahead for Irish troops to participate in EU battle groups.
The head of NATO has confirmed in the past that EU battle groups will
be used in armed conflict. Irish neutrality is long gone with the
passing through Shannon Airport of over 400,000 armed USA troops
involved in an aggressive war against the Iraqi people.
Finally we reprint an article about the emergent rich in South Africa.
It should cause those, who ask us to take the South Africa experience
as a road model, some thought. The vulgar displays of wealth in South
Africa by blacks formerly oppressed by the white regime and now
seeking to join the ruling elites is paralled in the North of Ireland
by aspiring middle class nationalists scrambling to enjoy the fruits
of power while real change for the majority remains a pipe dream.
THE IRA AND NAZISM
Seán Russell, the IRA chief of staff, spent the summer of 1940 in a
'very large' villa in the leafy Grunewald, near Berlin, surrounded by
extensive grounds and parks, enjoying all the privileges of a diplomat
with regard to access to food, petrol and other rationed goods. His
villa contained radio gramophone facilities and an 'excellent library'
equipped with 'special war maps' that enabled Russell to keep abreast
of Germany's stunning military victories that summer. As a registered
representative of the Irish Republic he was accorded 'every privilege
possible', including the use of a car and chauffeur for trips around
Berlin and the German countryside and the services of a young Austrian
aristocrat, who was appointed as his companion and interpreter. He was
given access to the high-security Brandenburg military camp to study
the latest techniques in sabotage and guerrilla warfare, and met
leading Nazis such as Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop.
Following the fall of France, Russell urged that the German high
command make use of the IRA to strike at British forces in Northern
Ireland as part of a general attack on Britain. His plans were
accepted and incorporated into Operation Sealion (the plan for the
invasion of Britain), a mark of the 'respect and esteem' in which
Russell was held by the German military leadership. During August
Russell was to return to Ireland to oversee the implementation of
these plans, but on his journey home by U-boat, he became ill and
died. His body was buried at sea with full German naval honours.
The above information comes not from one of Russell's many critics,
eager to paint him as a collaborator with the Nazis, but from the
republican newspaper The United Irishman of October 1951. The article
was published to coincide with the unveiling of a monument to Russell
in Dublin's Fairview Park and concluded that he was a 'worthy
successor to Tone and Casement'. Quite apart from that questionable
assessment, what is notable about the article is the utter lack of
embarrassment that the leader of the IRA was a guest of the Nazis
during a period in which the German armies invaded and forcibly
occupied five sovereign nations. Yet many still dispute claims that
Russell collaborated with the Nazis, painting him as a simple military
man unconcerned with political matters. That this should excuse him of
collaboration is of course debatable. Others have suggested that both
he and the IRA could have had no knowledge of the realities of Nazi
policy and were simply following the tradition of 'England's
difficulty being Ireland's opportunity.' The presence of former
International Brigade officer Frank Ryan on board the U-boat with
Russell is seen as further evidence of lack of Nazi sympathy. The
question of collaboration is more complex and wider than both sides of
the argument have allowed, though, I would argue, no less damning for
Russell in the end.
Early contacts with Nazi Germany
Russell's contacts with Nazi Germany dated from as early as October
1936, when he wrote to the German ambassador to the United States,
apologising on behalf of the Irish people for the refusal of the de
Valera administration to grant landing rights to the German air
service. In that letter he signalled that he would be willing to
cooperate with the Germans in any future military conflicts they found
themselves in. It was in the US that initial IRA–Nazi contacts were
established, with the Clan na Gael leader Joe McGarrity a key figure
in building these links. During 1938 the left-wing Irish Democrat
noted that the Nazis were making efforts to win allies among Irish
republicans in New York. Russell and McGarrity cooperated in launching
a coup within the IRA during that year, overthrowing its established
leadership and committing the organisation to a bombing campaign in
Britain. Tom Barry, one of the ousted leadership, claimed that money
from the German-American Bund, the main Nazi organisation in the US,
had been promised to fund the bombing campaign. In January 1939 that
bombing campaign began but, despite leading to seven civilian deaths
and the execution of two IRA men, never caused the political crisis
the IRA hoped for. The international situation leading up to the
outbreak of the Second World War preoccupied British opinion. During
the months after the outbreak of war the IRA publicly declared that it
was supporting neither 'king' nor 'dictator'.
However, in July 1940 the IRA leadership issued a statement outlining
its position on the war. The statement made clear that if 'German
forces should land in Ireland, they will land...as friends and
liberators of the Irish people'. The public was assured that Germany
desired neither 'territory nor...economic penetration' in Ireland but
only that it should play its part in the 'reconstruction' of a 'free
and progressive Europe'. The Third Reich was also praised as the
'energising force' of European politics and the 'guardian' of national
freedom. In response to critics such as George Bernard Shaw, who had
drawn attention to Hitler's anti-Catholic policies, the IRA countered
that both 'Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini' proved their lack of bias
by helping to establish the 'Catholic government' of Franco in Spain.
In August the IRA confidently predicted that with the assistance of
'our victorious European allies' Ireland would 'achieve absolute
independence within the next few months'.
The IRA's statements drew angry responses from Irish Freedom,
published by the Connolly Association, and Irish Workers Weekly,
published by the Communist Party of Ireland, who criticised the IRA
for inviting 'German soldiers to come and devastate the country they
talk of freeing'. These papers also noted how the IRA and their
'strange bedfellow General O'Duffy' were lauding as 'liberators'
powers that held 'Abyssinia, Austria, Albania and Czechoslovakia' in
subjection. The reference to the former Blueshirt leader was apt.
During 1940 IRA officers approached O'Duffy and asked him to become an
intelligence operative for the organisation. Irish Freedom noted with
disgust how the Nazis seemed to have been able to 'corrupt' some of
the leading Irish republicans.
That this was the case became more apparent over the next year. War
News, the IRA's main publication, became increasingly pro-Nazi in
tone, even claiming active IRA involvement in the German bombing of
British cities. But more chillingly it began to ape anti-Semitic
arguments. Satisfaction was expressed that the 'cleansing fire' of the
German armies was driving the Jews from Europe. British war minister
Hore Belisha was described as a 'wealthy Jew' only interested in
'profits'. War News condemned the arrival in Ireland of 'so-called
Jewish refugees', along with unspecified numbers of 'Albanian,
Abyssinian, Mongolian [and] Tartars'. These new arrivals were not only
supposedly putting Irish people out of work but also exploiting those
that they employed. Belfast was said to be increasingly in the 'hands
of international Jewry' because of this influx. 'The Jews', War News
warned, were 'like the English, when they are strong they bully and
rule.' In Dublin de Valera's government was also dominated by 'Jews
and Freemasons' who were becoming the 'new owners of Ireland'. Fianna
Fáil TD Robert Briscoe was singled out for attack.
Given the tiny numbers of Jewish refugees actually allowed access to
Ireland this logic was perverse, but it reflected a strand of thought
previously expressed within the republican movement on numerous
occasions by the Sinn Féin leader J.J. O'Kelly (Scelig). Throughout
the 1930s Sinn Féin publications written by O'Kelly had repeatedly
attacked alleged Jewish influence in Ireland. By 1940 he was praising
Hitler for freeing Germany from the 'heel' of the 'Jewish white slave
traffic'. Indeed, by 1940 republicans and former Blueshirts were
mingling in a variety of small pro-German organisations in Dublin.
What is clear is that at least a section of the IRA leadership was
attracted by Nazism's successes.
Anti-Nazism within the IRA
Was this simply a more extreme form of the widespread 'sneaking
regard' in Ireland for German military victories over the British
during 1940? After all, much of nationalist Ireland refused to believe
that any form of oppression was worse than that inflicted by the
British. What differentiated the IRA from other sections of
nationalist opinion, however, is that the organisation had an
anti-Nazi history. In 1933 the IRA's newspaper An Phoblacht had
condemned 'Hitlerism' as a 'disease'. After the Nazis came to power
the paper attacked those 'rather foolish people' in Ireland who
praised Hitler. It criticised anti-Semitism and drew attention to the
similarity between the Blueshirts in Ireland and fascists elsewhere in
An Phoblacht reviewed the Brown Book of the Hitler Terror and
explained how under Nazism 'Jews are murdered or hounded' and 'bloody
coercion' imposed on the German people. That the Nazis had banned
rival political parties, murdered socialists and jailed thousands of
their opponents was taken as evidence that the 'Fascist state is a
collection of human chattels at the disposal of tyrants'. Reports from
the underground German Social Democratic Party were also published in
the paper. Therefore any IRA member who cared to read his own
organisation's newspaper during those years would have been aware of
the nature of Nazi Germany. Part of the key to understanding the
pro-Nazi drift of the IRA in 1940 is the nature of the political
struggles within the organisation during the previous decade.
In 1933 the IRA had perhaps 12,000 members and was, in the Free State
at least, a relatively open and public organisation. Yet it was
divided on many levels. The dominant leadership grouping around Moss
Twomey and Seán MacBride were sympathetic to social radicalism but
primarily concerned with developing the IRA as a military force. An
important section of the leadership was socialist, notably Peadar
O'Donnell and George Gilmore. Another section—of which Russell, as the
IRA's quartermaster general, was probably the best example—were
committed entirely to armed force and uninterested in political
debate. A smaller group were attracted to Sinn Fein's espousal of
right-wing 'Christian social' policies. Divisions existed over the
relationship between the IRA in Northern Ireland and its much larger
and more influential southern counterpart, and over questions about
religion and communism.
But most importantly the IRA failed to comprehend the degree to which
the Fianna Fáil government was winning republican support for its
constitutional politics. Violent conflict with the Blueshirts allowed
the government to arrest and jail IRA members, and this violence also
alienated passive support. The IRA leadership forbade its volunteers
to engage in such street confrontations but was widely ignored,
contributing to an image of an undisciplined, uncontrollable
organisation. Differences about how to react to Fianna Fáil in
government contributed to the departure of many of the most prominent
socialists in 1934 to form the Republican Congress. Further violence,
including murders, led to more government repression, with the
eventual banning of the IRA in 1936. After Twomey was jailed that year
the leadership passed to Seán MacBride, Tom Barry and Mick Fitzpatrick
in quick succession. Membership fell to around 2,000.
It was in this situation that the idea for a campaign in Britain,
suggested by the American Clan na Gael and taken up by Russell,
appealed to young, militant IRA officers with no prior experience of
military conflict. Much of the northern IRA was attracted to the idea
as well, feeling marginalised and ignored by their southern comrades.
Russell and McGarrity won a bitter internal power struggle, partially
through sabotaging a plan for a northern campaign and convincing their
young supporters that a bombing campaign in Britain would be tolerated
by the Irish government. To these men cooperation with the Germans
made perfect military sense.
The marginalisation and decline of the IRA and the loss of many of its
more experienced leaders contributed to the German alliance. Contacts
between the IRA and German nationalists in Dublin had existed since
the early 1930s. In 1938 the Republican Congress warned how these
nationalists, now working for German intelligence, were wooing the
IRA. During that year Russell would claim to have 'no more' interest
in Germany ruling Ireland than in Britain doing so, while still being
happy to solicit their military aid. One jailed IRA leader expressed
the view that he was 'not greatly interested in the different
interests' fighting the war, 'except in so far' as to see 'England
beaten'. This view was echoed by the women of Cumann na mBan, who saw
the Germans as 'fighting Ireland's battle and the battle of all
oppressed nations within the empire' but were not eager for them to
come to Ireland. While naïve in the extreme, these views were at least
in line with the republican belief that 'England's difficulty was
Ireland's opportunity'. A key factor in the more openly Nazi line was
the military success of the Germans during 1940, which made it seem
likely that the defeat of Britain was imminent.
Anti-Communism within the IRA
But there was more involved than apolitical militarism and
opportunism. The 1930s IRA had seen bitter arguments about its social
policies, especially those believed to be 'communistic'. Criticism of
the organisation by the Catholic Church had also had a major impact on
the IRA, and its leadership struggled to find ways of expressing
social radicalism that did not conflict with church doctrine. By the
mid-1930s ideas about social credit and distributism, which included
strong anti-Semitic elements, were current within the organisation,
and Sinn Féin's 'Christian social' policies also gained new
supporters. Sympathy was expressed with demagogic figures such as Fr
Charles Coughlin and Huey Long in the US.
That some IRA volunteers fought fascism in Spain is used to absolve
the organisation of charges of collaboration. But the IRA actually
forbade its members to go to Spain, and those volunteers who did go
went in defiance of their leaders. Similarly, the commander of the
Irish anti-Fascists in Spain, Frank Ryan, had severed his connection
with the IRA in 1934 and joined the Republican Congress. There were
pro-Franco as well as pro-Spanish republican elements within the IRA.
A number of younger officers became more open to right-wing politics.
Supporters of the old IRA leadership in 1938 had accused some of
Russell's supporters, such as Peadar O'Flaherty, of 'fascist'
leanings. The strategist of the bombing campaign, James O'Donovan, was
also seen by some as influenced by fascist thinking. It was in this
context that IRA officers could approach Eoin O'Duffy, who as a Free
State general, Garda Commissioner and Blueshirt leader had been a
sworn enemy of their organisation, and offer him a place in its
leadership. Clearly a section of the leadership at least was also
happy to revel in Nazi successes.
It is important to note that the IRA in 1940 was under severe pressure
and in decline. Hundreds of its members were jailed or interned in the
Curragh camp. Undoubtedly a measure of desperation contributed to its
thinking. Similarly, the views expressed in War News need to be put
into context. Much of what was written in the journal was fantasy,
especially the claims that the IRA was playing a major role in the
German war effort. But the IRA clearly wanted to be seen to be doing
so, and there may have been an element of hoping to impress the Nazis
as well as the Irish public. Furthermore, War News was illegal and
therefore written and distributed surreptitiously. A small number of
people were responsible for its content and only a few IRA members
could have had any input into it. Despite the violence of some of the
anti-Jewish rhetoric in War News the IRA did not attempt to physically
attack Irish Jews.
But the reality was that, whether ideologically pro-Nazi or not, the
IRA was committed to aiding the German war effort. By late 1940 that
meant supporting a German invasion of Ireland. The IRA's opponents in
Irish military intelligence were prepared to concede that the IRA
'would give every assistance' to the defence forces in the event of a
British invasion but would assist the Germans if they landed. Across
Europe a variety of ethnic and political groups collaborated with the
Nazis in order to further their own agendas. Inevitably this meant
active involvement in Nazi persecution of Jews and political
opponents. It also meant becoming a part of the Nazi governmental
machine. Does anyone seriously believe that the IRA would have avoided
playing this role?
Furthermore, the argument that Russell and the IRA could have had no
idea of the nature of Nazi policies is spurious. That Nazi Germany was
a one-party dictatorship was not a secret. The banning of political
organisations and the jailing and murder of opponents by the Nazis
during 1933 and 1934 was widely reported in Ireland, not least in the
IRA's own press. The November 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which stripped
German Jews of citizenship rights and forbade physical relations
between Jew and 'Aryan', were not a closely guarded secret. The
support given to Franco by Germany and the destruction of Basque
Guernica by Nazi bombers in May 1937 was actually condemned by An
Phoblacht. The Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938 that saw the
murder of 100 people, the destruction of thousands of homes,
businesses and synagogues and the jailing of 26,000 Jews was
international news. By 1940 the Nazis had invaded and occupied a large
part of Europe. That these occupied countries did not desire foreign
occupation should have given pause for thought to a movement claiming
to seek national self-determination.
IRA role in German-occupied Ireland?
Seán Russell may have been uninterested in political debate but he was
hardly unaware of these matters. That he was happy to take up
residence in Berlin as a guest of the Nazis, meet their high command
and propose plans for military action in support of a German invasion
was collaboration, whatever his private motivation. Is there not
something perverse about an Irish republican enjoying special
privileges in the capital of a state that was embarked on a mission to
conquer all of Europe?
Given the experience of other occupied countries in Europe, the IRA
would have found itself rewarded for its assistance by a role in the
administration of occupied Ireland. IRA intelligence would have been
used to arrest left-wing and other political opponents of the Nazis.
The anti-Semitic authors of War News would have been put to work on
helping to round up Ireland's Jews. Old scores would have been settled
by newly empowered local IRA officers. Those IRA members who had no
time for Nazi ideology but wished to see a German victory would have
had to face the logic of that position. A German victory meant the
Nazi occupation of Ireland. Here we face the question posed by Joe Lee
as to how the Black and Tans would have retrospectively looked after
our occupation by the SS. Even in purely numerical terms, the Germans
killed more Irish civilians in the bombing of Belfast than had died at
the hands of the British during the War of Independence.
No doubt a section of the IRA would have realised their mistake and
resisted. Certainly among the internees in the Curragh there were
those who came to the conclusion that German imperialism represented a
graver threat to Irish freedom than British. Other sections of Irish
society would have collaborated too, of course, and the European
experience suggests that many of the great and the good would have
found reason to do so. But, unlike these hypothetical collaborators,
the IRA actually wanted a German invasion and was in a position for a
period to physically assist one. That is the central problem that many
still refuse to face up to.
[Brian Hanley lectures in Irish history at NUI Maynooth.]
THE CRISIS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre
24 Crawford Avenue
Friday 2 February 2006
Dear Republican Friends,
May I send you below for your information a copy of a lecture on the
current crisis in the European Union that I was invited to give to the
Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy in Hanoi, Vietnam, in January.
For those who you do not know me, may I say that I have been an Irish
Republican all my political life, although never a member of any of
the organisations of the Republican Movement. In the 1960s I was
secretary of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society and played a part in
setting up the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). I
took part in the various Northern civil rights marches, including the
first of these from Coalisland to Dungannon in August 1968. I was in
Duke Street, Derry, on 5 October 1968 when the RUC's assault on the
civil rights marchers there brought the discrimination Six County
Nationalists suffered under to world attention.
I have been a founder member of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement and
the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and a long-time critic of EU
integration on internationalist and democratic grounds. I was
significantly responsible for the Crotty, McKenna and Coughlan
constitutional court actions before the Irish Supreme Court which led
to referendums having to be held in the 26 Counties on any new EC/EU
treaties and which provided for equality in the use of public
resources in referendums there. I am heir and literary executor of the
late C.Desmond Greaves, the well-known Labour historian and author of
"The Life and Times of James Connolly", "Liam Mellows and Irish
Revolution" and other works. I have written extensively over the years
on EU affairs, on the political solution to the Partition problem and
on general economic matters.
I hope that points in the presentation below may be of interest to you
and your political colleagues as Sinn Fein continues with its
"critical engagement" with the European Union.
Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, Hanoi, Vietnam, 9-11 January 2006
TEXT OF CONFERENCE PRESENTATION BY ANTHONY COUGHLAN, IRELAND:
THE CRISIS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
The perspective from which this criticism of the European Union is
made is that of socialist internationalism. It seeks to set out the
position of classical socialist thought on the national and democratic
questions as these are affected in the West and Central European area
by the European Union.
We are internationalists on the basis of our solidarity as members of
the human race. As internationalists we seek the emancipation of
mankind. The human race is divided into nations.
Therefore we seek the self-determination of nations. The right of
nations to self-determination inspired the 18th century American
Revolution and was formally proclaimed as a democratic principle in
the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the French Revolution, 1789.
It is now a basic principle of international law, enshrined in the
United Nations Charter. As democrats and internationalists we assert
the right of those nations that wish it to have their independence,
sovereignty and a nation state of their own, so that they may relate
to one another internationally on the basis of equal rights with other
nations. The European Union seeks to negate this principle fundamentally.
The historical origins of the European integration project are in the
1920s and 1930s, with Jean Monnet and others who conceived and pushed
the project for decades. Three factors gave it impetus after World War
2: a State power factor, an economic factor and a
bureaucratic/personal power factor.*
THE STATE POWER FACTOR
One basic formula for understanding the EU project on the political
side is this, to quote Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung: "Take five
broken empires, add a sixth one later, and try to make one big
neo-colonial empire out of it all." This is not the whole story, but
it is perhaps the most essential part of the story.
The five broken empires were France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and
Holland, whose hearttlands were defeated, occupied and shattered in
World War 2. After the war they found themselves in a world dominated
by America and Russia. Their ruling elites, their Foreign Ministries
especially, who had been used to running empires, concluded that if
they could no longer be big powers in the world on their own, they
should aim to be a big power collectively.
The sixth former empire that joined them later was Great Britain.
Britain applied to join the then EEC at the behest of the USA in the
aftermath of the 1956 Suez crisis. Her ambition was to divide France
from Germany and prevent these two States together dominating Western
Europe, or else to be included by them in a triumvirate to "run
Europe" together. Britain has failed in either aspiration. This is
probably the deepest root of popular British "euro-scepticism".
The foundation myth of the EU is that it has its origins as a peace
project to prevent wars between France and Germany. In fact war was
impossible between individual members of either of the two blocs
during the Cold War. Washington and Moscow would just not have
permitted it. The atomic bomb makes inter-State wars in Europe
impractical anyway. Most wars are civil wars. The end of the Cold War
in 1989 brought war back to Europe after 45 years of armed peace, in
Yugoslavia and Chechnya.
Historically the first step towards economic integration in post-war
Europe was the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community. This was pushed
by the USA at the time as a means of reconciling France to German
rearmament at the commencement of the Cold War, just a few short years
after the end of World War 2. The USA has been an ardent champion of
European integration and enlargement from the early 1950s until the
current Bush administration.
The real historical model for the EU is the unification of Germany in
the 19th century. This began with a customs union, then became a
confederation of formally equal states, then a monetary union and then
a unified Federal State with one constitution, army and government
representing it internationally vis-a-vis other States. Of course the
people of Germany constituted one people who spoke the same language.
The EU on the other hand consists of many peoples.
THE ECONOMIC FACTOR
The rules of the European Union are set down in its various treaties
and given formal constitutional status in the "Treaty Establishing a
Constitution for Europe", whose ratification process is currrently
suspended following its rejection by French and Dutch voters in
referendums in summer 2005. These EU rules make it illegal under
European law for Member State Governments to adopt any measure that
would interfere with the free movement of good, services, capital and
labour across the 25-member Union, or pursue policies that would
discriminate in favour of one country's economic actors as against
those of the others. The European treaties turn classical
laissez-faire competitive capitalism into supranational constitutional
These rules provide an optimal profit-maximising environment for the
EU-based transnational firms that have been the principal financial
supporters of European integration since the 1950s. They substantially
free private capital from national State interference and from
democratic control by national parliaments and governments in response
to their citizens' concerns. They are naturally congenial to the
EU-based transnational firms that are organised in such bodies as the
EU Employers Confederation(UNICE) and the European Round-Table of
These business interests have been the principal economic advocates of
the EU single market, the euro-currency and EU enlargement to include
the East European countries. EU rules on free movement of labour put
downward pressure on wage rates in the richer West European countries,
while its rules on free movement of capital and land acquisition
facilitate West European firms moving to Eastern Europe where wages
are lower, working conditions poorer and pollution controls weaker.
The EU-based Transational Corporations have traditionally been the
principal financial backers of the international European Movement,
which is a powerful cross-national lobby continually pushing further
THE BUREAUCRATIC/PERSONAL POWER FACTOR
The process of EU integration transfers power from elected national
parliaments and governments to a small number of politicians and
bureaucrats at supranational level, who obtain a huge accretion of
personal power thereby. In the EU the non-elected Commission has the
monopoly of making proposals for new EU laws. Those laws are then made
by the Council of Ministers, representing national governments, on the
basis of a weighted or qualified majority of votes - 258 out of 345 in
a 27-State EU - with each State having a different number of votes,
ranging from 29 each for the biggest ones to 3 each for the smallest.
The European Parliament cannot initiate any law, but may propose
amendments to laws that are agreed by the Commission and Council of
Ministers. It can also veto an EU law by an absolute majority of its
members if such agreement cannot be reached, but this seldom happens.
The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg adjudicates on all disputes
under the treaties and its judgements are binding on Member States,
their Governments and their citizens.
At national level Ministers are part of the executive arm of
government, responsible to their elected national parliaments and
citizens. When a particular policy area is transferred to the
supranational level of the EU, the relevant national Ministers are
substantially freed from national political control and are
transformed into supranational EU legislators. They are made members
of what is literally an oligarchy, a legislative committee, of 25
persons on the Council of Ministers who make laws for 450 million
people. The EU Council of Ministers is irremoveable as a body. Over
time its individual members become ever more distanced from their
national electorates, their willingly accepted personal task vis-à-vis
their fellow Ministers from other countries, with whom they interact
on first-name terms, being to deliver their peoples in support of
further integration. National parliamentarians who aspire to become
Ministers, whether they are in government or opposition, tend to share
This process represents a slow coup against political democracy at the
level of Nation States. It means that at national level those running
the State itself become party to depriving their fellow citizens of
the power to make their own laws and decide their own government. The
State itself thereby turns into an enemy of its own citizens.
Long-established national institutions of government such as
parliaments,executives and courts remain formally in being, so that
citizens continue to believe that nothing much has changed; but these
institutions have been hollowed out and their reality transformed as
power has been gradually shifted from the national to the
supranational level. Simultaneously at civil service level senior
national bureaucrats are substantially freed from democratic public
scrutiny as powers are transferred to the bureaucracy in Brussels with
which they regularly interact. There EU laws are prepared for
enactment by the Council of Ministers outside the ken of national
parliaments or even the European Parliament, which can propose
amendments to EU laws but cannot have those amendments adopted without
the agreement of the EU Council and Commission.
Democracy, public accountability, wilt or disappear. This process,
which would be accelerated under the proposed EU Constitution, is
building inevitably to a major crisis of democracy across the European
The "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" proposed to repeal
the existing EC/EU treaties and establish a new European Union based
on its own Constitution rather than on treaties between sovereign
states as hitherto.
The proposed Constitution sought to give the constitutional form of a
supranational Federal State to the 25, soon to be 27, Nation States of
the EU. It would have given this new Union a political President, a
Foreign Minister and diplomatic corps, and a Public Prosecutor. It
would have given it power to sign treaties with other States in its
many areas of competence. It would have imposed a constitutional
obligation on all the EU States to increase their military budgets.
The proposed Constitution would have made the citizens of the Member
States of the EU into real citizens, not just nominal or honorary
ones, of this new supranational entity, to which they would owe the
normal citizens' duty of loyalty and obedience to its laws, and obtain
rights in relation to it. The only two powers of a State the EU would
lack if the proposed Constitution were to come into force would be the
power to impose taxes and to force its constituent Member States to go
to war against their will, although as it is, some may go to war on
behalf of the EU as long as the others consent. The advocates of EU
integration have made no secret of their desire for the EU to obtain
these remaining State powers in time. It is normal for "bottom-up"
Federal States to develop in the gradual way the EU has - the USA,
Canada Australia and 19th Century Gemany being the best examples.
These Federal States contrast with "top-down" Federations,where
originally unitary centralised States adopt a federal form - e.g.
post-1945 Germany, Austria, Russia,India, Pakistan, Nigeria etc.
THE EU'S FUNDAMENTAL DEMOCRATIC PROBLEM
It is possible to turn the EU into a State, but it is not possible for
that State to have a democratic basis and legitimacy. The reason is
that democracy means rule by the "demos", the people, through the
representatives they elect and on whom they confer authority.
A European people does not exist except in the statistical sense, and
one cannot be artificially created from above in the way the EU is
attempting. The 450 million inhabitants of the EU are divided into
many peoples, real national communities speaking their own languages,
who desire to make their own laws, decide their own government and
self-determine themselves as they have done for generations through
representatives they elect and who are responsible to them.
It is impossible to democratise the EU by giving the European
Parliament power to make laws instead of the 25-person Council of
Ministers, as some suggest. The democracy that is needed to underpin a
stable State is not just majority rule, but majority rule on the basis
of a people, a collective "We", a community - normally a national
community - where there is sufficient mutual identification and
solidarity among its members as to induce minorities willingly to obey
the majority, thereby giving majority rule its democratic authority.
The existence of such a real, self-aware community is crucial for
underpinning the legitimacy and stability of a State with its own tax
and public service system, from which some citizens are net gainers
and others net losers - if that State is to be stable and endure. It
is the absence of such a community at European level, and the
impossibility of creating it artificially, that is the root cause of
the EU's crisis of authority and legitimacy.
The EU's "democratic deficit" problem is inherently insoluble without
repatriating major powers from the supranational to the national
level. The proposed EU Constitution would have done the opposite of this.
THE CURRENT CRISIS OF EU INTEGRATION
Officially the EU Member States are at present engaged in a "period of
reflection" following the French and Dutch No votes to the
Constitution. It is unlikely that there will be any further plans for
revising the European treaties until after the French presidential
election in summer 2007.
Meanwhile there are deep divisions between the Member States over the
EU budget for the upcoming 2007-2013 period. The ten relatively poor
new Member countries want maximum subsidies from Brussels, whereas the
net contributing countries, in particular Britain, Germany and
Holland, are reluctant to pay up.
There is tension between those countries that want to enlarge the EU
further by including Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria etc., and those that
see such EU "widening" as inhibiting further "deepening", that is,
further integration. Some see the solution to this problem as being
the formation of an inner group around France and Germany that would
integrate further, perhaps in such areas as harmonized taxation, using
the EU institutions for that purpose, while leaving the others to move
at their own pace. But such a two-tier or three-tier EU would almost
certainly generate new political tensions between Member States and
deepen popular hostility to the whole project.
The future of the EU is intimately linked to the fate of the euro. A
central aim of the supranational Federation envisaged by the proposed
EU Constitution was to provide a political counterpart for a single
European currency. What exists at present is 12 countries, 12 States,
12 Governments, 12 budgets and 12 tax and public spending policies -
all using the same euro-currency. Yet without one State behind it, the
euro cannot survive in the long run. A State is always needed to
guarantee a currency's value. All States have their own currencies and
all currencies belong to States.
Countries need maximum flexibility, not rigidity, in the modern world.
The euro-currency has been a political project from the beginning,
aimed at reconciling France to Germany's reunification after 1989, but
using economic means that are quite inappropriate for this purpose.
Germany and France's high unemployment rate is significantly due to
the euro. The euro-currency imposes a one-size-fits-all interest rate
policy on quite different economies, and an inflexible exchange rate
that makes it impossible for States to restore their economic
competitiveness by changing their currency's value.
There have been suggestions recently that Italy might leave the
euro-zone in order to restore its competitiveness by devaluing the
lira. Otherwise it faces years of rising unemployment as its
industries cannot compete at the implicitly high exchange rate
entailed by eurozone membership. The fall in the dollar and the rise
in the euro as a consequence of America's balance of payments deficit
hits the competitiveness of the eurozone as a whole. Even though all
25 EU States are supposed to abolish their national currencies and
adopt the euro, this is very unlikely to happen.
In time the euro is likely to join history's many abandoned
currencies. The growing problems associated with it illustrate the
fundamental lack of political realism of the European integration
project as a whole. EU integration is dogged by problems that look
like getting worse. Its popular legitimacy and acceptability decline
with every year that passes. The EU's emergence was the result of a
particular international conjuncture after World War 2 and during the
Cold War. It has no obvious purpose now apart from maintaining the
power and perquisites of some powerful political, economic and
bueaucratic elites whose careers and mental mind-sets are bound up
with it. Its long-term historical prospects are bleak.
* Probably the best account in English of the development of the
European Union and its historical origins, which go back to the 1920s
and 1930s, is the book by Christopher Booker and Richard North, "The
Great Deception: Can the European Union Survive?"; revised paperback
edition, 2005; Continuum Publishers, London and New York; ISBN:
0-8264-8014-4; E14 or £10 sterling.
Anthony Coughlan is Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy at
Trinity College, Dublin, and Secretary of the National Platform EU
Research and Information Centre, Ireland. He may be contacted at
00-353-1-8305792 or 6081898. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
YOUNG, RICH, BLACK
(Could read Young, Rich, Catholic...and Driving a NI Boom)
SEE STATISTICS AT THE END
5 February 2006
Young, Rich, Black... and Driving an African Boom)
By Rory Carroll
South Africa's upwardly mobile professionals are flaunting their new
wealth. But while they thrive in a resurgent country, impoverished
millions are still struggling to survive in the townships.
They drive sleek cars, dress to kill and spend like there's no
tomorrow. Twelve years after the demise of apartheid, the children of
South Africa's revolution have found a way to celebrate freedom:
In ways unimaginable to their grandparents, a generation of black
upwardly mobile professionals, dubbed 'buppies', is splashing out in a
display of power and wealth that is driving a consumer boom. From Cape
Town to Johannesburg, retailers report record sales in property,
fashion, jewellery and luxury vehicles, a giddy exuberance amid the
economy's sixth successive year of growth.
Business confidence is at its highest in more than two decades, the
rand has surged, consumers are borrowing at historically low interest
rates and growth this year may exceed 6 per cent. It is a world away
from the images of starving Africans that routinely fill western
television screens. If South Africa's new middle class is hungry it is
for more success, more money, more everything. Beneficiaries of
improved education, they are forming their own businesses and snapping
up jobs in state and private sectors that are encouraged to hire from
'previously disadvantaged' groups.
'When I bought my last BMW it was a 318ti model and I was 23,' said KB
Motsilanyane, a musician and businesswoman who is also South Africa's
Face of Charlie, one of Revlon's line of cosmetics. 'But now I am 25
and my car must grow with me.' Last week Ms Motsilanyane upgraded to a
£30,000 black 320d BMW. 'It says that I am independent, a coming
businesswoman, very ambitious, very determined.'
She bought the car at Joburg City Auto, the city's first wholly
black-owned BMW dealership and a mecca for those who grew up in
townships which said BMW stood for Black Man's Wish. 'Ninety-nine per
cent of our clients are black,' said salesman Kennedy Mbiko. 'There is
a huge amount of pride and aspiration among the guys coming here.
Brand personality has taken hold and people want to be seen driving
Thanks to a leap in black demand, more than 565,000 cars were sold
last year, up 26 per cent from 2004, according to the National
Automobile Association of South Africa. President Thabo Mbeki caught
the mood in his annual state of the nation address on Friday,
declaring that South Africa had 'entered its age of hope'.
A survey published last week, based on interviews with 3,500 people,
found that two-thirds of the population was upbeat, with 70 per cent
of blacks saying the country was going in the right direction,
followed by 50 per cent of coloureds (those of mixed race), 45 per
cent of whites and 43 per cent of Indians.
South Africa's successful bid to the host the 2010 football World Cup
unleashed euphoria and a sense that this was indeed a serious country.
Companies routinely declare themselves to be 'proudly South African'.
It is a remarkable turnaround. When Nelson Mandela was inaugurated
President in 1994, South Africa was insolvent and teetering on the
brink of civil war. If young blacks appeared on television they were
usually chanting and wielding weapons.
Now screens are filled with Zulu and Xhosa-speaking soap operas,
talent contests and adverts for luxury commodities. Readers of the
consumer magazine What, Where & When in the Zulu Kingdom are directed
to art galleries, grand prix rallies and jewellery shops.
Headlines from the most recent issue of Good Taste, an in-flight
magazine with Nationwide Airlines, include: How to be a sushi master,
Best wine tales, Your January brandy selection.
Black customers are spending noticeably more on grooming and
accessories, said Annette Longwani, 33, a hairdresser. 'You see the
jewellery getting heavier.' Ethel Molale, 40, a businesswoman lunching
on lamb shank at Moyo, a trendy restaurant at Johannesburg's Zoo Lake,
was only half in jest when asked about conspicuous consumption.
'The mall is where we pay our tithes and make our offerings. It's a
religious experience. When we go inside we say don't disturb me, I'm
meditating, just give me a credit card.'
But many - far too many, everyone agrees - pray for real because they
have no job, no decent home, no electricity, no clean water and little
or no hope. They are the poorest of the poor, an army of millions
struggling to survive in dusty townships and villages.
In the past decade the government has built 1.8 million low-cost
houses and provided basic services to millions who were neglected
under apartheid. But the ranks of the poorest have continued to swell
and unemployment has stubbornly stayed at 38 per cent, trapping an
underclass in what is referred to as the 'second economy', a ghost in
official statistics, based on subsistence agriculture, hawking,
begging and crime.
By restricting building permits and the movement of people,
apartheid's architects and urban planners concealed the poor. You
could drive the Garden Route and barely notice the misery that was
tucked into valleys beyond the well-paved motorway.
No longer. Thousands of pitiful tin and wooden shacks have sprouted
like weeds, sometimes into the heart of plush suburbs, a juxtaposition
of inequality as brutal as anything in Brazil or India.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu's warning that poverty was a 'powder keg'
seemed borne out in the past 12 months when riots flared across the
country in protest at lack of basic services. In scenes reminiscent of
the apartheid era, township dwellers fought pitched battles with
police and demanded that the African National Congress do better.
In an effort to defuse the rage, the rattled ruling party has purged
most of its councillors in the run-up to next month's municipal
elections and in its manifesto promised a 'plan to make local
government work better'. That prompted scorn from Tony Leon, leader of
the opposition Democratic Alliance. 'A plan? Twelve years in power,
and all you can offer us is a plan.'
In Friday's address to parliament - which glossed over the HIV/Aids
pandemic - President Mbeki said the government, in partnership with
the private sector, would invest £34bn in public infrastructure
projects and creating jobs over the next three years .
In an email interview with The Observer on the eve of the state of the
nation speech, Tutu said that not enough had been done to tackle
poverty. 'Everybody should be concerned. Our stability depends on the
reasonable needs of most citizens being met or we have [had] it.'
The Nobel laureate said that almost everyone had been amazed at the
extraordinary resilience of the impoverished. 'Their patience is
heroic. President Mbeki has himself said it is quite crucial that
their needs be met and has made service delivery a key issue for these
For buppies, the question is whether their spending spree can
continue. The Congress of South African Trade Unions has blamed the
consumer boom for distorting the economy and pricing the poor out of
the property market. Some others complain that it is immoral, or at
least bad taste, to flaunt wealth.
'Black people are more careless than whites with their spending. They
don't know how to do it well,' said Regina Kazhila, 41, a black
boutique owner at Johannesburg's Rosebank mall.
Specifying that her own clients were discerning and mature, Ms Kazhila
said many young, affluent blacks were obsessed with brand names and
oneupmanship. 'They are very competitive with each other. Advertisers
have noticed. That's why they're targeting them.'
Thapelo Moloi, 29, a pastor, said it was understandable that blacks,
having been oppressed for so long, would want to enjoy and exhibit
their success. 'But there is a lack of wisdom in the way some are
spending their money.'
Banks are reluctant to disclose figures but there is anecdotal
evidence that many buppies are living beyond their means, racking up
debts and failing to pay off credit cards.
'Lately I can't even bring myself to open the credit card bills,' said
one executive, who declined to be named.
But Loyiso 'Chippa' Mangena, 23, a TV actor and businessman, said
being flash could also be a form of investment. 'Money is power. When
you walk into a room to make a business proposal for 150m rand you
must look like you can handle 150m rand. People can judge you on what
car you drive before you even open your mouth.' Hence Mr Mangena's
pilgrimage to Joburg City Auto to trade in his BMW M3 series for a Z
Coupe. 'I'm going to be one of the first people in the country to get
He made no apology for his plan to buy a yacht. 'The world is an
unfair place. It would be great if we could redistribute all resources
but we can't.
'I want to inspire young black people that it is possible to leave the
township and be anything in the world that they want to be.'
The New South Africa
· There are more than four million cars on the roads, 11 million
radios, eight million televisions and about 17 million mobile phones.
· The population is 44.3 million. Just over 75 per cent of the people
are black; around 13.5 per cent white; 13.5 per cent mixed race and
2.6 per cent Indian.
· Nearly half of South African homes have telephones.
· Less than 10 percent of people are internet users.
· Most homes have electricity (71 per cent, according to official 2001
figures) and the government has pledged to wire up every household by
· 'Adequate' sanitation has been extended to almost all urban areas
(86 per cent, according to the latestofficial figures in 2002), but to
less than half of rural homes.
· The average life expectancy is 49 for men and 48 for women.
· One in 10 of South Africans over the age of two is HIV-positive,
according to the World Health Organisation.
FRONTLINE LATIN AMERICA No 2 A NEW QUARTERLY NEWSPAPER
In this issue:
Students and Coke: 'Constructive Engagement' The Big Debate
Reports on international resistance to Coca-Cola and Nestlé
Higher Education special
Indigenous resistance: A continent wakes up to its murderous history
BP on trial: Colombian campesinos take BP to court
Developments in Latin America: Bush in Argentina, FTAA dead in the
water, San José update,
Popular Women's Organisation interview
Y MUCHO MÁS!
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JOIN THE COLOMBIA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN!
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out to 'Colombia Solidarity Campaign', to Colombia Solidarity
Campaign, PO Box 8446, London N17 6PJ
Official website of the International Brigade Commemoration Committee
in Belfast is now online and can by viewed by clicking on:
You can visit the No Pasarán project online by clicking on:
Friday, 10 February
Public Forum on Nepal: "Royal Rule, One Year On"
You are cordially invited to a public forum organized by the Britain
Nepal Academic Council to discuss the current situation in Nepal.
Brief presentations will be made by panel members on a range of
issues and concerns, followed by an open discussion.
Venue: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre
School of Oriental and African Studies, London
Date: Friday 10th February 2006
Discussion chair: Dr Judy Pettigrew, University of Central Lancashire
Dr Rod Chalmers, International Crisis Group
"Update from Nepal"
Ms Clare Castill, Amnesty International
"The human rights situation"
Mr Rabindra Mishra, BBC Nepali Service
Royal rule, One year on: journalism vs. activism
Dr Pratyoush Onta, Martin Chautari, Kathmandu
"Reflections on other 10th anniversaries: professional lives under
the ongoing conflict"
General Sir Sam Cowan
"Nepal - the two wars"
Dr Liz Philipson, LSE
"Donors, diplomats and UK policy"
Professor Surya Subedi, University of Leeds
"The way forward for resolving the political crisis in Nepal: legal
and constitutional perspectives"
All welcome. Please circulate this invitation as widely as possible.
Wednesday, 8 March
International Women's Day Wednesday 8th March 2006
Day and Evening events
Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Spanish Anti-Fascist War 1936-1939
The Clarion Call; Women & the Spanish Civil War: A talk and
photo/poster presentation will be given by Angela Jackson, in the
Central Hall, Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education on
Wednesday the 8th March 12.30pm to 15.30pm. (Refreshments at
12.30pm:)Edwina Stewart will introduce Angela Jackson and question
time/debate will be chaired by Myrtle Hill.
The BIFHE are hosting this event in the College Square East, as part
of their Centenary celebrations. On show for the first time will be a
photographic exhibition "A HUNDRED YEARS OF WOMEN AT THE TECH"
contrasting women who attended the college in the early part of the
20th century with women who attend the college in the present day.
(Leaflet will be available shortly).
Angela Jackson, a doctor of History from the University of Essex, now
lives in the Priorat, Catalonia. She moved there in 2002 after
visiting the area to research for her book, British Women and the
Spanish Civil War. (Routledge, London, 2002) Her interest in the
history of the cave hospital near the village of La Bisbal de Falset
led to the publication of a further book in Catalan and English,
Beyond the Battlefield (Warren & Pell, Pontypool, 2005). She continues
to be involved in the subject of memory and remembrance of the war
though her work as president of the association 'No Jubilem La
Memòria'. The work of the group so far has included the production of
a documentary based on interviews with International Brigaders and
local people, the organisation of commemorative events and lectures,
and the collection and exhibition of photographs taken in the area
during the civil war.
Edwina Stewart was a teacher in Ashfield Girls School and Comber High
School. Following in her parents footsteps (they were founder members
of the Communist Party of Ireland) Edwina continues her membership of
the CPI, and it is in this capacity that she knew some of those
families whose relatives went to fight in Spain against fascism. Her
mother Sadie Menzies was involved in the International Women's Day
events in the late 1940's. Edwina was also honorary secretary of the
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association from 1969 until the late
'70's. And as she says "I joined practically every peace and
solidarity organisation and I'm not finished yet." (Cited by Marilyn
Hyndman in Further Afield: Journeys from a Protestant past 1996) In
1962 as a serving teacher, Edwina was a student in Commercial Studies
at the 'Tech' in Belfast.
Myrtle Hill, who returned to study as a housewife and mother, is
currently Director of the Centre for Women's Studies at Queen's
University, Belfast. A senior lecturer in social, religious and
women's history, she has published widely in these areas; her most
recent book is Women in Ireland: A Century of Change, Belfast, 2003.
She continues to work on various aspects of Irish, particularly
northern Irish women's history, focusing more recently on the
complexities of how events are recorded and remembered. As coordinator
of the University's Access Programme, she maintains a strong interest
in the promotion of opportunities for mature students.
Social Event: 8th March: In the evening there will be an IWD event
held in the John Hewitt pub in Donegall Street 7.15pm to late. "Into
the Fire" a film about American Women's involvement in the Spanish
Civil War will be shown, followed by musicians/singers/poets,
Geraldine Bradley, Paul Bradley; Chad Dughie, Victoria Gleason &
others plus a poem sent by Sinead Morrissey. All proceeds from this
event will go the International Brigades Commemoration Committee who
intends to establish a memorial to those Belfast people who died
fighting with the International Brigade in Spain. (£6 waged & £2.00
Relatives of the International Brigade, who went to Spain from Ireland
will invited to the events which are supported by the International
Brigades Commemoration Committee; BIFHE; Belfast & District Trade
Union Council; and partly funded by the Northern Ireland Women's
Rights Movement. These events should appeal women's organisations,
students, historians, trade unionists, academics, & political activists.
All People Welcome
REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST YOUTH MOVEMENT RAFFLE
The RSYM is selling tickets for a raffle will be April 17th, 11am at
Costello House. The prizes are a POW-made bodhrán (traditional Irish
drum), DVDs and assorted IRSM merchandise valued around 15 euro. The
price of each ticket is 2 euro, 1 pound or 3 dollars.
The funds raised from raffle ticket sales will help RSY to acquire a
banner, badges, pay for their website and so on. It's important work
in establishing the IRSM's youth wing and all sales are greatly
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