Nationalism and the 'national question'

1916: The Easter Rising

Ireland and the Revolutionary Tradition of Easter Week From Labor Action, 14 April 1941 Easter Sunday morning, 1916. Three o'clock. James Connolly. Irish revolutionary leader, was talking to his daughter and some of her friends, all asking why the revolt so carefully prepared had been countermanded. Connolly knew that the arms from Germany had been intercepted, he knew that the arrangements had broken down, but he knew that the British government was going to strike. He could not let the revolt be stamped out without resistance. It seemed to him, and rightly, that the resulting demoralisation...

Kino Eye: A really bad film

For a change, a really bad film: Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995). Usually, I only recommend films that I like and are interesting. Dale Street’s article on a possible second Scottish Referendum prompted me to think of films featuring Scottish nationalism. The one film that outshines all the others, but primarily because of its ignorance and stupidity, is Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Take the well-known poster of William Wallace (played by Gibson) with blue face-paint and kilt. Scottish warriors stopped wearing blue face-paint many hundred years before and hadn’t yet adopted the kilt. The English...

Scotland and the "second referendum"

The SNP victory – or SNP-Green victory – in the Holyrood election of 6 May 2021 was a mandate for a second referendum on Scottish independence. The fact that the SNP did not get an absolute majority of seats or an absolute majority of the popular vote is irrelevant. The Holyrood voting system is designed to stop one party gaining an absolute majority of seats (and the SNP fell only seat short of that). And no one ever argued that the 1945 Labour government had no mandate because it failed to win 50% of the popular vote. The elections held on 6 May also strengthened Sturgeon’s position in three...

New mobilisations inside Israel

The new mobilisation of the Palestinians within Israel is, or could be, a historic shift. The Arab grandees, and much of the small middle class, had fled Palestine before the 1948 war started, many hoping to avoid war and return after the Arab states had won. The Arabs remaining in Israel after the war and the expulsions were mostly peasants. They lived mostly under military government until 1966. Large tracts of their land were seized by chicanery. As with the Palestinian Arab people in the West Bank and Gaza who submitted to Jordan and Egypt seizing those areas and extinguishing the UN...

Two states, equal rights!

On day nine of Israel’s bombing of Gaza, the percentage of civilian casualties is inexorably rising. Hundreds are dead. 58,000 are displaced, according to the UN. The bombs increasingly shatter the social infrastructure of the blockaded, pauperised territory: hospitals, electricity, water. The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, surprised at Hamas’s ability to fire so many rockets, and as far as Jerusalem, is retaliating with overwhelming, brutal, vindictive military force, intent on wreaking maximum destruction before international pressure brings a ceasefire. The immediate frame is...

Moroccan offensive in Western Sahara

After sixteen years of war, on 6 September 1991, Morocco and the POLISARIO, the national liberation movement in Western Sahara, reached a ceasefire agreement, sponsored by the UN, for the holding of a self-determination referendum in which the Sahrawi people will decide their fate. This referendum has not yet taken place; until November 13 this year the ceasefire agreement was still in force. What happened then in Western Sahara? The ceasefire agreement, within the framework of Military Agreement No. 1, established areas in which both Moroccan troops and those of POLISARIO could not enter. One...

Self-determination for Nagorno-Karabakh

Around 70,000 people — nearly half the population of Nagorno-Karabakh — have been displaced in the war which broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan in late September this year, in spite of a shaky, Russian-brokered ceasefire signed on 10 October. The fighting is over the Nagorno-Karabakh region: a 95%-Armenian enclave of mountain territory inside Azerbaijan, with a population of about 150,000 until September 2020. The region set up its own parliament and declared itself independent in 1988. From 1988 to 1994, Azerbaijan fought a war to crush the self-governance of this region and return it...

Video: Remembering the Bosnian War, with Sarah Correia and Martin Thomas

Audio and video Introductory speeches from a meeting of the same name, which outline the complex events that led up to the war, left responses and legacies of the war. Sarah Correia is a researcher at LSE, researching memories of the Bosnian war. Martin Thomas talks about the response of much of the left at the time. December 2020 marks 15 years since the end of the Bosnian war. In 1992 after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence, a Serb-backed military assault took place, bringing ethnic cleansing, rape and destruction of mosques. Under the banner of “peace” and opposing Western intervention many on the left sided with, or failed to oppose, the Serb nationalists. Workers' Liberty argued an international arms embargo should be lifted so that the Bosnians could defend themselves. This meeting will outline the complex events that led up to the war, the left responses and the legacies of that war.

The Bosnian war, 25 years later

Sarah Correia is a researcher into society and history in Bosnia. She talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity. Why did war erupt in Bosnia in 1992, between the Bosnian government on one side and Serb militias and the Serbian-dominated federal army on the other? We thought we should side with Bosnia against what we saw as Serbian imperialism, but much of the left refused to take sides in the Bosnian war of 1992-95, or backed the Serb forces. It was a time of profound changes to the international system. And, from the 19th century onwards, shifts in the international system had been very much...

The left and Bosnia

The wars in Croatia (1991-5), Bosnia (1992-5), and Kosova (1999), all part of the break-up of Yugoslavia, were among the first wars of the new era following the fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe (1989) and the USSR (1991). And the different attitudes then of different trends on the left were among the first markers of how the left would differentiate in the new era. Workers’ Liberty backed the peoples of Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosova in their struggle for self-determination against what we saw as Serbian proto-imperialism, quasi-imperialism, or sub-imperialism. Leading figures of the...

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