Friday, November 16, 2007

Ireland: Basque Marxist speaks at meetings of socialist republicans

By The Plough
Monday, 12 November 2007

Recently three successful meetings were held on the Irish and Basque Peace Processes in Belfast, Strabane and Derry (25-27 October). The meetings were organised by the International Left Solidarity Committee, a group composed of republicans socialists and Marxists, dedicated to looking at issues of international significance for the working classes.

Ibon Artola, Editor of Euskal Herria Sozialista, gave a detailed examination of the current state of the struggle for Basque independence from a Marxist perspective and his analysis of the so-called Basque Peace process. For his Irish audiences Ibon gave a brief history of the Basque struggle.

The Basque Country is made up of seven provinces, Labourd, Basse Navarre, and Soule all located in an area governed by France, and Viscaya, Guipuzcoa, Alava and Navarre all under the control of Spain.

Following the overthrow of the Spanish Republic by a military coup led by Franco and supported by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany the ancient and unique Basque language was banned. The Spanish state refused funding for the Basque language and culture, workers were denied their right to use the language and even the graves of Basque martyrs were interfered with to replace the Basque language on tombstones with Spanish inscriptions. Also under the Franco dictatorship Communists, Socialists but also Basques, were executed for their resistance to the regime.

Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or ETA (Basque for "Basque Homeland and Freedom" ) was formed in 1959 originally as a cultural response to the dictatorship's attempts to impose Spanish language and cultural values on the Basque people. From painting slogans on walls and buildings, ETA eventually became an armed Basque nationalist organisation.

Ibon pointed out that at the beginning of the 20th century there were those socialists who claimed that the rise of capitalism would solve the national question. The reality has been different. The Irish national question still has not been resolved. In Belgium national differences are once more coming to the fore. In essence capitalism is incapable of solving the national question. On the contrary Capitalism uses the national question and the existence of minorities to divide and thus weaken all sections of the working class regardless of their nationality. Imperialism wishes to impose itself on small countries and the fight to overcome this was essential.

The fall of the Franco dictatorship did not solve the national question in Spain. After the death of Franco a new constitution gave limited autonomy to three of the Spanish controlled Basque provinces called the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC) while Navarre was not allowed to opt into the BAC but made into a separate autonomous region. By 1983 the BAC had limited autonomous powers including its own elected parliament, its own police force, its own school system and control over taxation. (It is worth noting that all of these except most notably the control over taxation have all been granted to the current Stormont administration.)

Theses changes while accepted and worked by the more conservative nationalists in the PNC Partido Nacionalista Vasco , a Christian-Democrat political party and which has been the dominant power in the BAC, was rejected by the Abertzale Left because it did not satisfy the national aspirations of many Basques, nor did they bring peace to the Basque Country.

Spain still exerts extensive influence over Basque life, some spheres of which, such as harbour authorities, customs, employment, the armed forces and foreign relations, remain entirely under jurisdiction of the central government. The central state apparatus, including politicians, police including the local Basque police, army and prisons, have continued to persecute members and sympathizers of the Abertzale movement and to obstruct Basques' attempts to construct their own political structures and to articulate and defend a national sovereignty project.

The Spanish and the Basque ruling class, in the form of the PNV, showed their reactionary nature by supporting the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. They also endorsed the electoral fraud perpetrated by the Mexican ruling class aided and abetted by USA Imperialism.

The rise of ETA and a broadening of its support base in the beginning was because of the failure of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) to do anything. It was not in their interests because the Basque bourgeoisie was and still is firmly bound with the Spanish bourgeoisie. This is similar to the way the Irish bourgeoisie despite its so-called formal freedom is intrinsically tied in with the British ruling class and also subservient to USA Imperialism.

Ibon pointed out that 65% of the population of Spain is in favour of a solution to the situation in the Basque country. In March 2006 ETA declared a ceasefire. Hopes were raised for a settlement and not only was there comparisons with the so-called Irish Peace Process but clergy involved in facilitating the IRA ceasefires became involved in delicate negotiations in the Basque Country. Sinn Fein leaders including Gerry Adams also visited the Basque Country encouraging militants to follow the Sinn Fein(P) example.

However, the People's Party (PP) in Spain began arguing that the Spanish ruling class was granting too many concessions to ETA. Its leader Rajoy called on the government to continue, "fighting terrorism" and reject negotiations. Zapatero, the Spanish prime Minister in fact stepped up repression. Despite the calls from left Nationalists for round table talks there was little movement from the Spanish Government. ETA militants were still being harassed and detained and there was no movement on the issue of the prisoners. It is the policy of the Spanish government to imprison political prisoners at least 600 kilometres from their homes and some as far as the Salto del Negro prison in the Canary Islands . So prisoners' families often travel hundreds of kilometres to prisons to visit them, either in Spain or France. This has resulted in a great financial burden being placed on many families. Many have been killed in road accidents travelling the long distances.

Much to the astonishment of his Irish audiences Ibon pointed out that the oppression included political prisoners not being released as planned, with some having their sentences increased. Following the Barajas bombing when ETA attacked an airport the Spanish Government banned the Basque left nationalist youth organisation Segi, declaring it to be a terrorist organisation because both Segi and ETA have the same stated goals of independence and socialism. ETA had bombed the airport in an attempt to put pressure on the Spanish government. This had the adverse effect and resulted in a series of repressive measures by the Spanish ruling class including a widespread propaganda campaign aimed at undermining ETA. Batasuna leader Ortegui summed up the new departure of Batasuna when he said "How can we have a peace process with bombs going off?"

There are some on the left, as Ibon pointed out, who argue that the problem in the Basque Country is "terrorism". They do so from the safety of their well-paid parliamentary jobs without any understanding of national oppression. The Basque problem is the interference of the Spanish government in the affairs of the Basque Country.

Ibon pointed to the example of Russia prior to the 1917 October. There had existed a group called the Narodniks. The Narodniks believed the peasantry was the revolutionary class that would overthrow the monarchy and they regarded the village commune as the embryo of socialism. However, they believed that the peasantry would not achieve revolution on their own, but instead that history could only be made by heroes, outstanding personalities, who would lead an otherwise passive peasantry to revolution. They hoped that their acts of violence would lead to spontaneous uprisings and social upheaval. Despite their assassination of the Tsar, for which Lenin's brother was executed, no such uprisings took place. Instead it was the building of a revolutionary party with mass support that eventually saw off feudal Russia.

There are also some militant youth who have launched attacks against the offices of Spanish trade unions. Ibon pointed out the importance of winning over the Spanish and French working classes to support and solidarity with the Basque people and therefore it is wrong to antagonise them by attacks on the organisations that the workers regard as theirs. It is of the greatest importance that these young people are won over to genuine Marxist politics. As revolutionaries we cannot turn our backs on the militant youth.

Ibon then went on to point out something that should be a salutary lesson for Irish republicans. Every September there is a demonstration in favour of the prisoners. This year it was banned with little explanation. Basque policemen were sent to deal with the demonstration and over 100 people were injured. Having Basques in the police force ‑ or Catholics in the PSNI ‑ is no victory when these same forces are used to protect the status quo.

The PNV defend their own interests which are the interests of the ruling Class. They may talk about independence but the bottom line is that the PNV in the Basque Country, have no interest in independence for the Basque country. They share the same interests as the Spanish ruling classes have. Only the working class can solve the national questions, whether it's in the Basque country, Ireland, the Balkans or anywhere else.

During the Russian revolution the Bolsheviks managed to overthrow the old order, despite Russia being a country with dozens of different nationalities.

When Ibon Artola had finished his presentation in all three venues there were discussions and questions and answer sessions. Naturally some of these questions focussed on the issue of prisoners, their actual conditions in jail and if they had any input into the Basque Peace Process. Other questions included if the prisoners or their organisations had tried to use the denial of human rights and torture used by the Spanish government to take Spain to European courts. It was pointed out that those who tried to see comparisons between the peace processes in Ireland and the Basque Country failed to see that the Republican struggle in Ireland had been defeated and that in accepting both the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement republicans settled for less than the Basque Country had achieved years ago.

A prominent feature of the meeting was that unlike many other meetings on international issues organised by other groups the audience at these meetings were overwhelmingly working class and had an instinctive grasp of the class issues thrown up by the struggle in the Basque Country.

[Originally published in The Plough, E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party.



Jobove - Reus said...

excelent post from Basque congratulations

Té la mà Maria

Anonymous said...

In essence capitalism is incapable of solving the national question. On the contrary Capitalism uses the national question and the existence of minorities to divide and thus weaken all sections of the working class regardless of their nationality.

Precisely. That's what is so wonderful about it! It is incapable of imposing a SINGLE will on ALL the people. I wouldn't trade it for a single one of the many IDEAL and COMPETING world totalitarian regimes that YOU are trying to build. May we ALWAYS remain a factionalized but COOPERATING confederacy!

Anonymous said...

One based upon VOLUNTARY and UNFORCED independent actions!

Anonymous said...

A place with SEPARATED POWERS, so that HUGO can't seize control and treat us all like his own little personal HERD of cattle. A place where the QUEEN BEE doesn't get to eat ALL the honey, and mete out sugar-water to the worker bees.

Anonymous said...

A place where an industrious bee can store his own HONEYPOT and not have to keep guard over it 24/7 because the other bees ALL do the same (except for the your marxist bees who envy and then steal everyone elses honeypots)... there being no principle of honey-equity in nature.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

It was pointed out that those who tried to see comparisons between the peace processes in Ireland and the Basque Country failed to see that the Republican struggle in Ireland had been defeated and that in accepting both the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement republicans settled for less than the Basque Country had achieved years ago.

It's all about knowing how many trains to bomb in Spain to get your way.

sonia said...

During the Russian revolution the Bolsheviks managed to overthrow the old order, despite Russia being a country with dozens of different nationalities.

A very stupid and ignorant statement. This sentence should read:

During the Russian revolution the Bolsheviks managed to overthrow the old order, because, Russia was a country with dozens of different and persecuted nationalities.

Capitalism uses the national question and the existence of minorities to divide and thus weaken all sections of the working class

That Plough guy is a complete moron. Blaming national minorities for working classes being "divided" is complete hogwash. There is no co-relation between ethnic diversity and working classes being "divided". Germany in 1933 had 3% minorities. Russia in 1917 was 50% minorities. Yugoslavia in 1992 was 70% minorities. Switzerland was always 40% minorities.

No co-relation whatsoever.

It's not about the existence of national minorities. It's how they are treated that matters.

jams o donnell said...

I daresay this post will see no dialogue but the usual tiresome monologues and sloganeering from both sides (well I'll go to the foot of my stairs, it's already started!). Anyway for what it's worth....

"It was pointed out that those who tried to see comparisons between the peace processes in Ireland and the Basque Country failed to see that the Republican struggle in Ireland had been defeated and that in accepting both the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement republicans settled for less than the Basque Country had achieved years ago"

This comment comes as no big surprise given that the IRSP does not have any regard for a parliamentary road for its aims.. not that that stopped it putting up candidates in local and general elections on both sides of the border in the past but that's another story. At least it has renounced terrorism and its murder gang, the INLA, are history.

Well what has come to pass in Northern Ireland over the last 10 years may be less than what the IRSP want but who gives a monkeys about an irrelevant little band like the IRSP anyway? The peace process IS bringing about a transformation in Northern Ireland's fortunes. There's a hell of a long way to go but when you see the arch bigot Paisley and the ex terrorist McGuiness working hand in hand for a better Northern Ireland that is a bloody good start.

Personally I don't give a damn if there is a united Ireland or not but I do care that the people of Northern Ireland get the peace and prosperity they deserve. I also care that the centuries of religious bigotry are consigned to the dustbin of history. The IRSP have nothing to offer.

Anonymous said...

Hell, jams, before this post, I never even realized that the Basques were at war with Ireland. ;-)

Una said...

No sé si va a merecer la pena el esfuerzo que me llevará hacer este comentario,pero lo intentaré.Quien ha hecho este post no conoce la realidad del País Vasco y España.
1º.-El país vasco no es una nación sometida,es una autonomía española como son las otras 16 y con un estatuto de competencias en sanidad,policia propia,etc,etc.Igual que Oregón,Texas o cualquiera de los cincuenta y tantos estados forman USA, las 17 autonomías españolas forman España,cada una es respetada en su lengua,cultura,etc.
2º.-FRANCO y su dictadura apoyada también por los americanos prohibió el vasco igual que el gallego,el catalán,el valenciano,el mallorquín,el menorquín,el ibicenco,el andaluz etc,prohibió todas las libertades,los partidos políticos,todo como hacen todos los dictadores.
3º.-Cómo se atreve Eta a criticar el capitalismo cuando somete a sobornos y chantajes de muerte a los empresarios vascos,cuando se nutre con el robo,la extorsión para militarizar a jóvenes y llenar de vandalismo las calles,asesinar a profesores de universidad que no piensan como ellos,a ex-ministros, a niños,mujeres,trabajadores...ellos no son trabajadores,critican a un estado mientras se aprovechan de las ventajas que les proporciona ese estado.Cuando pueden dejar de matar,formar un partido político y hacer política te sacan las pistolas,¿eso es luchar por el pueblo?¿eso es libertad de expresión? Los vascos están hartos de su violencia,cansados de que un lugar tan maravilloso sea destrozado por estos asesinos.No están liberando a ningún pueblo sometido,están ellos sometiendo a sus paisanos,impidiendo que vivan en paz,llenando las calles de guardaespaldas porque la mitad de la población está amenazada.
El gobierno español no es imperialista,estos años se han revisado los estatutos de autonomía y cierto que todo se puede hacer mejor,pero no queremos vivir entre pistolas,nadie.Millones de españoles de todas las autonomías salimos a la calle con nuestras manos blancas diciendo basta ya de violencia cuando eta ejecutó a un sencillo concejal de 26 años al que ataron y de rodillas le dieron balazos en la cabeza ,sólo porque era concejal del PP¿es eso liberar a un pueblo? ¿o matar a un profesor en su despacho? ¿a unos niños y padres y madres mientras compraban en un supermercado?
Basta de mentiras.
En las cárceles son los presos mejor tratados,con mayores privilegios y no son los únicos que están desplazados o lejos de sus familiares,les ocurre a otros muchos,es cuestión de si están o no masificadas esas cárceles.
¿Os parece que se ha de poner una bomba en el aparcamiento de un aeropuerto para hacer presión cuando se ha concertado una tregua?
Eso es criminal¿.Cómo se puede hablar con alguien que está armado?
Los irlandeses no se pueden comparar con los vascos,los irlandesees no podían autogobernarse.Ya hubieran sido felices con el Estatuto de Autonomía que tiene el país vasco.
Eta no tiene más ideologia que las armas.Informaos bien,por favor.

steven rix said...

Basta de mentiras
LOL sorry I did not mean to laugh but I am trying to get my spanish skills at work. That said I still don't see why you have to compare the irish independence to the Basque one.
ETA has been more active in Spain than in France the last 5 years.

Organized Rage. said...

Cheers comrade

You are posting some great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Let me help:

I don't know if it's worth the trouble to make a comment, but I'll try. Whoever wrote this post doesn't understand the reality of the Basque and Spain.

1st- The Basque are not a nation, they're an autonomous region of Spain just like 16 others and with a state of competencies in sanitation, police, property, etc. Just like Oregon, Texas or 50 other states make up the USA, the 17 Spanish autonomies comprise Spain and each is respected in their language, culture, etc.

2-Franco and his dictatorship supported by the Americans prohibitted the Basque, equally with the Gallegos, the Catalan, the valencians, the Majorcans, the Menorcans, the ibicencans, the andaluzians, etc, prohibiited the liberties and political parties, everything, as all dictators do.

3- How dare ETA criticise capitalism when they extort bribes and make death threats to Basque companies, when the enrich themselves through robbery and extortion to militarize the youth and fill the streets with vandalism, assassinate university professors that don't think the same as them, to ex-priests, children, women, workers... THEY aren't workers, they criticize the state while they approve of all the benefits they receive from the state. When they can refrain from killing, forming political party's and making politics, they take out their guns. THAT is what it means to fight for the people? THAT is liberty of expression? The Basques are ardent in their violence, and we are tired of a place so marvellous being destroyed by these assassins. They aren't liberating oppressed people, their oppressing their countrymen, impeding them from living in peace, filling the streets with bodyguards becuase in the middle of their population they are threatened. The Spanish government is not imperialist, in recent years they have revised the statutues of autonomy abd it is certain that everything can be done better, but we don't want to live between guns, nobody does. Milliions of Spaniards in all the autonomies go out into the street with our hands white (clean/empty) saying STOP the violence when ETA executed a ____ of 26 years and which after ____ they gave him bullets in the head, only because he was a member of PP. Is THAT liberating the people? Or to kill a professor in his class? Or some children and fathers and mothers shopping in the supermarket?

Stop the Lies.

In jails criminals are better treated, with more privledges, and they aren't the only ones who have been displaced or kept far from their families, it occurs to many others the question of if they too are not concentrated in jails.

Does it seem to you that you have to put a bomb in an airport to have leverage(?) ________? That is criminal. How can you speak rationally with someone who is armed?

The Irish cannot be compared with the Basque, the Irish could not self-govern themselves. They would have been happy with an autonomous state that the Basque already have.

ETA has no idealogy but weapons. Inform yourselves well, please.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Uncertain Road! Keep taking the time!

jams o donnell said...

Of course they aren't Farmer John! Seriously though, parallels are frequently drawn between ETA and teh IRA

beatroot said...

Basque independence from a Marxist perspective

I am glad they didn’t say: the Marxist perspective – because there are a few.

Basque are not ‘oppressed’ in any traditional sense of the word and the reform not worth supporting in any independence struggle. They are not the Irish.

Not every minority is ‘a nation’. And not all minorities are ‘oppressed’.

Frank Partisan said...

It's a strawman argument to say that the post is in support of groups like ETA and IRA, or that national independence, is an end of itself.

The post comparing the ETA to the Narodnik movement, is obviously not giving it political support. To Marxists the Narodnik movement, represents primitive tactics, belief in spontaneity of uprising, lack of theory etc. The IRA and the ETA have more in common than not.

The article doesn't say that the Basque, are a seperate nation.

As long as people whether in Ireland or the Middle East, have a perspective of nation against nation, without a class perspective, there is going to be generalized violence.

Anonymous said...

"The Irish cannot be compared with the Basque, the Irish could not self-govern themselves"

Even Archie Bunker would find that remark offensive and distasteful.

beatroot said...

I agree. What does this comment mean: Irish can't government themselves? Does it mean 'Northern Ireland? It can;t mean 'Ireland' cause they have been ruling themselves for over 80 yrs....


jams o donnell said...

It's a comment that puzzled me too. I wonder if something was lost in translation.

I would be interested to find out if Uncertain Road actually meant something slightly different. If he did mean to say that the Irish were incapable of governing themselves. I will take great pleasure in taking him to task.

Anonymous said...

There was something lost in translation. It's not that they were incapable of governing themselves, its' that they were unable to govern themselves.

The Basques had limited self-government in an "autonomy". The Irish did not... is the point Uncertain Road was trying to make (I think)... and that is why the Irish had "cause" for revolution that the Basque do not.

Anonymous said...

...and "you people" are always looking for "bigotry" in your opponents so that you can dismiss and not address the "reasons" why that bigotry might be, in some cases, justified (ie- the Roma)

sonia said...

Farmer John,

and "you people" are always looking for "bigotry" in your opponents so that you can dismiss and not address the "reasons" why that bigotry might be, in some cases, justified

Look at it this way. All you have to do to discredit an opponent is to make his life so miserable that he will turn into a raving bigot and/or racist.

White Americans have been doing it to blacks for centuries. Rich people have been doing it to poor people for millenias. It's the most elementary form of mass control.

You can't fight it. All you can do is to do it yourself to YOUR opponents.

Anonymous said...

You could attempt a dialectic.

But ever since Hegel and Marx did their's they no longer comprehend its' original meaning.

Instead, they caved in to their resentments, and abandoned the Gay Science.

Anonymous said...

Like above. They didn't even try and put 'Uncertain Road's' comments into context. They immediately decontextualized a single line and applied the 'bigot' label.

They no longer want to 'understand', they simply wish to 'disprove'. They have closed their minds to 'understanding', for they think they already 'know'.

Anonymous said...

They don't understand. They overstand. ;-)

Anonymous said...


jams o donnell said...

Farmer john If you think bigotry against the Roma is okay then perhaps you would have preferred that Hitler killed them all during the Holocaust. Problem solved,eh?

There is NO justification for bigotry, if you accept the bigorty is justificiable against the Roma, then surely the anti semites are right, and the Klansmen....

sonia said...


There is NO justification for bigotry

That's not the issue. The issue is WHO defines bigotry and racism, WHO assigns bigotry and racism, WHO denounces bigotry and racism, and, most importantly, WHO passes sentences for bigotry and racism.

Hitler defined bigotry and racism, he then assigned them to Jews, he then denounced Jews as racist bigots, and finally he exterminated them for it in death camps.

Hitler was also claiming that there is NO justification for bigotry...

Anonymous said...

There are reasons to be wary of the Roma. I do not advocate for their genocide. I simply would point to anyone who lives a "transient" lifestyle, and advise people to be wary of them, for they likely have little respect for property.

And if this makes me an "Archie Bunker", then, so be it.

Anonymous said...

The Roma live as "land-sailors"... and behave as pirates, leaping ashore, grabbing all they can, then fleeing back to their land-ships to sail on to a new shore ripe for plundering.

Plato, "Laws"

ATHENIAN: Remember, my good friend, what I said at first about the Cretan laws, that they looked to one thing only, and this, as you both agreed, was war; and I replied that such laws, in so far as they tended to promote virtue, were good; but in that they regarded a part only, and not the whole of virtue, I disapproved of them. And now I hope that you in your turn will follow and watch me if I legislate with a view to anything but virtue, or with a view to a part of virtue only. For I consider that the true lawgiver, like an archer, aims only at that on which some eternal beauty is always attending, and dismisses everything else, whether wealth or any other benefit, when separated from virtue. I was saying that the imitation of enemies was a bad thing; and I was thinking of a case in which a maritime people are harassed by enemies, as the Athenians were by Minos (I do not speak from any desire to recall past grievances); but he, as we know, was a great naval potentate, who compelled the inhabitants of Attica to pay him a cruel tribute; and in those days they had no ships of war as they now have, nor was the country filled with ship-timber, and therefore they could not readily build them. Hence they could not learn how to imitate their enemy at sea, and in this way, becoming sailors themselves, directly repel their enemies. Better for them to have lost many times over the seven youths, than that heavy-armed and stationary troops should have been turned into sailors, and accustomed to be often leaping on shore, and again to come running back to their ships; or should have fancied that there was no disgrace in not awaiting the attack of an enemy and dying boldly; and that there were good reasons, and plenty of them, for a man throwing away his arms, and betaking himself to flight,-- which is not dishonourable, as people say, at certain times. This is the language of naval warfare, and is anything but worthy of extraordinary praise. For we should not teach bad habits, least of all to the best part of the citizens. You may learn the evil of such a practice from Homer, by whom Odysseus is introduced, rebuking Agamemnon, because he desires to draw down the ships to the sea at a time when the Achaeans are hard pressed by the Trojans,--he gets angry with him, and says:

'Who, at a time when the battle is in full cry, biddest to drag the well- benched ships into the sea, that the prayers of the Trojans may be accomplished yet more, and high ruin fall upon us. For the Achaeans will not maintain the battle, when the ships are drawn into the sea, but they will look behind and will cease from strife; in that the counsel which you give will prove injurious.'

You see that he quite knew triremes on the sea, in the neighbourhood of fighting men, to be an evil;--lions might be trained in that way to fly from a herd of deer. Moreover, naval powers which owe their safety to ships, do not give honour to that sort of warlike excellence which is most deserving of it. For he who owes his safety to the pilot and the captain, and the oarsman, and all sorts of rather inferior persons, cannot rightly give honour to whom honour is due. But how can a state be in a right condition which cannot justly award honour?

Anonymous said...

Should a Roma abandoned his boat, buy a cottage, and move next door, I would welcome him, but watch him. Old habits are hard to break.

It's the necessity of guarding and keeping own's own "property" that keeps a thief honest... that makes the social contract a contract.

Anonymous said...

...and the Roma typically reside on the fringes of that contract.

sonia said...

Farmer John,

advise people to be wary of them, for they likely have little respect for property.

Are you talking about the Roma or the Communists ?

And I would advise you to avoid generalizations. The overwhelming majority of the Roma make their living from entertainment and other creative activities, not theft.

roman said...

What's this about the Roma?!?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, sonia, but if the shoe fits, why deny it?

Something wicked this ways comes. That something is the Roma, the "carnies" and id I'd a been an indian on the plains, western pioneers.

Anonymous said...

The Native Americans should have sunk those boats, just as townspeople ought to shut their gates... to the Roma.

Anonymous said...

...and as for the Roma being entertainers, so much the worse.

...And, if any of the serious poets, as they are termed, who write tragedy, come to us and say-- 'O strangers, may we go to your city and country or may we not, and shall we bring with us our poetry--what is your will about these matters?'--how shall we answer the divine men? I think that our answer should be as follows: Best of strangers, we will say to them, we also according to our ability are tragic poets, and our tragedy is the best and noblest; for our whole state is an imitation of the best and noblest life, which we affirm to be indeed the very truth of tragedy. You are poets and we are poets, both makers of the same strains, rivals and antagonists in the noblest of dramas, which true law can alone perfect, as our hope is. Do not then suppose that we shall all in a moment allow you to erect your stage in the agora, or introduce the fair voices of your actors, speaking above our own, and permit you to harangue our women and children, and the common people, about our institutions, in language other than our own, and very often the opposite of our own. For a state would be mad which gave you this licence, until the magistrates had determined whether your poetry might be recited, and was fit for publication or not. Wherefore, O ye sons and scions of the softer Muses, first of all show your songs to the magistrates, and let them compare them with our own, and if they are the same or better we will give you a chorus; but if not, then, my friends, we cannot. Let these, then, be the customs ordained by law about all dances and the teaching of them, and let matters relating to slaves be separated from those relating to masters, if you do not object.

Anonymous said...

...and if you don't agree with Plato, then perhaps Rousseau's "Lettre á d'Alembert sur les Spectacles" might convince you.

Anonymous said...

...there's creative, and there's "Promethean". Let Dr. Franenstein & his monster stay in Vlad's castle with the wolfman. Costello and I be skeert of them!

If you had been a Persian facing Xenophon and his 10,000 Greek mercenaries, you had a right to be xenophobic (Xenophon, "Anabasis")

LeftyHenry said...

Good post comrade, the Basque struggle is common to all national liberation struggles and the struggle against imperialism. Good that you posted something on the struggle as it is one which is often ignored amongst the revolutionary left

Memet Çagatay said...

Hi All,

Since the discussion is ardent as usual, I want to add a funny anecdote which exemplifies the reflective nature of nationalism:

Last year, Turkish football team Besiktas took Osasuna, a La Liga club in the UEFA cup draw. The first leg was played at the home of Osasuna and their supporters hung a PKK flag on stands. The incident was published even on the cover of prominent newspapers and in the online forums the most nationalist football fans began to discuss the possible actions to protest this desecration in the home game. The proposals were generally concentrated around shouting slogans that supports the ETA. But, suddenly, a supporter obviously who was watching the world politics and football more closely revealed the absurdity of these proposals: "Dear Friends, Osasuna is a Basque team as I know. So there is no meaning to support ETA. We should shout in favor of the unity of Spain." After being proponents of independency of Basque Country for a couple of hours, Turkish nationalists had become Spanish nationalist with a blink of an eye.

Frank Partisan said...

This is from the introduction to a new Amnesty Int'l report on discrimination against Roma.

The Roma community suffers massive discrimination in access to housing, employment and education. In some countries they are prevented from obtaining citizenship and personal documents required for social insurance, health care and other benefits. Roma are often victims of police ill-treatment and their complaints are seldom investigated. Frequently Romani children are unjustifiably placed in "special" schools where curtailed curricula limit their possibilities for fulfilling their potential. Romani children and women are among the communities most vulnerable to traffickers.

Not everyone in the Roma community is Django Reinhardt, but neither are they mostly carnies. They are a people with a rich culture, who have been victims, not victimizers.

They fought oppression from their untouchable Punjab origins through their ghetto experience in the Spanish Inquisition, through Hitler to present day discrimination. Their history is so linked to Jewish history.

This is not an issue of talking in the abstract about what is discrimination. It's pure xenophobia.

liberal white boy said...

Oh sorry farmer john I seem to have accidently entered your blog. I was looking for that feisty tango dancing trotskyist renegade eye. Do you know where I could find him.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...


You're getting the evil eye.

Anonymous said...

Discrimination against thieves who pay no taxes and live by crime IS NO VICE.

Were they to actually settle down and become productive citizens of their homelands, I would withdraw my remarks.

You can't give a Roma "property", he'll sell it and move on. He's having too much fun living a good life... without "work".

The Roma are wild and free. They are not domesticated beasts like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...


If he were up your *ss you'd know.

liberal white boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
liberal white boy said...

"They are not domesticated beasts like the rest of us."

When he says "beasts" and "us" what he's talking about is those on the delusional right, is that correct? And was he talking about ultra orthodox Roma's (the ones with curls) or just Roma's in general.

Graeme said...

Only farmer john would back up his ridiculous generalizations with quotes from Plato.

Farmer John the philosopher king.

liberal white boy said...

Yes graeme clearly we are dealing with an anti-Romite. But just to be certain perhaps farmer john could elaborate with twenty or thirty more comments.

Anonymous said...

But why cast more pearls before swine? ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving folks... have a blessed holiday!

jams o donnell said...

Farmer John, you forgot the the old chestnut about them stealing children. How remiss of you - no irrelevant quote for Plato?

jams o donnell said...

from Plato, rather

Anonymous said...

And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( )?

Anonymous said...

Wow, yeah that Farmer John is something else. I wish I wasn't as domesticated as I am. One small point I do want to bring up is that not all Romanies are Roma. There are also Sinti, Romanichal, and Gitanos. I guess being Sinti and Romanichal I shouldn't take offense because I'm not Roma. Also I don't get the comment about Roma with curls, unless you're trying to make a connection between Romanies and Jews.

Anonymous said...


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