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...

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...

Big brands profit from Uyghur forced labour

Uyghur Solidarity Campaign protesters invaded flagship Oxford Street stores on 5 March, demanding that global corporations – including Nike, H&M and Microsoft – cut ties with factories using Chinese-state-directed ethnic forced labour programmes. Workers’ Liberty activists have played a central role in building UK labour movement solidarity with the Uyghur people and other Turkic minorities in the north-western Xinjiang province (known to the Uyghurs as East Turkestan). The Chinese state has targeted them with brutal, industrial-scale persecution: it has locked more than a million in...

Hong Kong: the crackdown and the future

The conflict in Hong Kong has further escalated and has reached a critical point as I write on 19 November. The escalation began last week with the first casualty of the protest, a university student falling fatally from a multi-story car park in a conflict zone. Since then, policeman have fired live rounds seriously injuring a number of protesters, a man was doused in petrol and set alight by protesters, a pro-Beijing legislator was stabbed, a pro-democracy legislator had his ear bitten off, and there have been many other individual violent acts. A woman has launched a legal case after being...

Populism: a dead end for the left

In recent decades, there has been much discussion of “populism” as newly significant form of political movement. Some on the left even say we should embrace it. Admittedly, there are major conceptual difficulties when discussing “populism”. Even if we limit ourselves to examples on the ostensible left, movements labelled “populist” can be so different in their substantive politics and theoretical groundings that they conflict directly. On the one hand, there is Chantal Mouffe’s highly pluralistic and heterogenous “left-populism”, which is very much oriented towards liberation politics such as...

The split in SDS

Across the world large and radical student movements came into prominence in the 1960s, fighting on their campus and against university administrators but raising wider political questions: opposition to the Vietnam War, opposition to the police, and opposition to capitalism. Their politics were often muddled and contradictory. In America, students organised themselves on a national level into Students for a Democratic Society. This was a serious organisation, which had 30,000 supporters by the time of its collapse, and along with the black civil rights movement became a feared bogeyman for...

Free Catalan political prisoners!

A wave of unrest has swept through Catalonia following the harsh sentencing of pro-independence leaders by the Spanish Supreme Court. Twelve politicians and civil society leaders were found guilty of crime including sedition, misuse of public funds and disobedience following their involvement in the 2017 referendum on and subsequent declaration of Catalan independence from Spain. That referendum had been declared illegal. The Spanish constitution contains undemocratic vetoes on any region declaring independence without the consent of Spain as a whole. Defendants were sentenced to hefty fines...

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