How Martin McGuinness won in the end

Taken by Giusseppe Milo

When I heard the news that Martin McGuinness had died I thought of my granddad, who served in Northern Ireland as a British troop. He recalls the soldiers sticking razorblades into the rubber bullets they would fire on crowds of civilians. On one occasion a troop stuffed a large battery into his gun before firing it at a crowd. The shot killed a man, my grandfather claims. He also remembers the sight of twin girls tarred and feathered for fraternising with British troops. This practice was allegedly supported by Martin McGuinness in the early years of his IRA involvement. McGuinness would later speak out against … Continue reading

Fidel the Saviour, Castro the Monster

Fidel Castro visits Washington, DC shortly after seizing power in 1959.

As a historical figure, Fidel Castro presents some juicy conundrums: justice and injustice, revolution and state power, citizens’ rights and state authority, artistic freedom and restriction, high literacy rates and censorship, communist economics and private enterprise, socialism and tourism. The news of his death at the age of 90 brings many of these thorny questions to mind. And there are many anecdotes to illustrate them. I would like to draw on one in particular – the case of Jean-Paul Sartre and his observations of the Cuban leader as they toured Cuba in the back of Castro’s car in the spring … Continue reading

Fanon defends revolutionary violence

The naked truth of decolonisation evokes for us the searing bullets and bloodstained knives which emanate from it. For if the last shall be first, this will only come to pass after a murderous and decisive struggle between the two protagonists. That affirmed intention to place the last at the head of things, and to make them climb at a pace (too quickly, some say) the well-known steps which characterize an organized society, can only triumph if we use all means to turn the scale, including, of course, that of violence (Fanon, 1963: 37). Frantz Fanon used his lived experience … Continue reading