Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner’s Letter to David Cameron

Guardian

Buenos Aires, January 3rd, 2013

Mr Prime Minister David Cameron,

One hundred and eighty years ago on the same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism, Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000km (8700 miles) away from London.

The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule.

Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity.

The Question of the Malvinas Islands is also a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism.

In 1960, the United Nations proclaimed the necessity of “bringing to an end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations”. In 1965, the General Assembly adopted, with no votes against (not even by the United Kingdom), a resolution considering the Malvinas Islands a colonial case and inviting the two countries to negotiate a solution to the sovereignty dispute between them.

This was followed by many other resolutions to that effect.

In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
President of the Argentine Republic

Cc: Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

85 comments on “Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner’s Letter to David Cameron

  1. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    Brilliant, thanks for printing this John =) Btw as well as having an anticolonialist “special relationship” with our own country, Cristina is a very impressive left leader and a particular bete noir of the finncial markets and vulture funds, who have recently lost several significant battles with Argentina, a country brought to the brink of collapse by neoliberalism 10 years ago but which proves in practice that there is an alternative austerity and debt slavery…

  2. jim mclean on said:

    Excellent Socialist Left leading leader – ooops, if your white or light tan. The treatment of indigenous people by the Government has much to be desired. The Governments inability to address the rights and claims of the original inhabitants in an equitable manner shows they are little different from their predecessors. Access Amnesty and the host of other sites that deal with the “genocidal” polices being implemented throughout the European controlled states of south America.

  3. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist on said:

    There is no international law because there is no supra-state means of enforcing it: that’s why the UN Charter allows countries to implement Security Council (SC) resolutions permitting war on its behalf. What does exist are international prescriptions such as decisions by the SC & supra-state ‘courts’, e.g. that Israel’s wall is a theft wall because it extends beyond its 1949 border.

    Likewise Kirchner’s appeal to the UK government is just that, an appeal. When Cameron says no what can Argentina do, invade? It can ask the SC to demand the UK leave but the UK would veto.

    They have a better soccer team (and Messi) but the UK has its colonies (18, including part of Ireland), a lot of rain, and a lingering hubris that spreads its stain into politics like Blue Labour.

  4. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist: Likewise Kirchner’s appeal to the UK government is just that, an appeal. When Cameron says no what can Argentina do, invade? It can ask the SC to demand the UK leave but the UK would veto.

    There is a bigger picture. Trade not just between Argentina and the UK, but the entire region and the UK will doubtless be affected. Plus Britain’s ability to lord it over other nations will be far less credible in light of this continuing thorn in its diplomatic side.

  5. Lelsey2525 on said:

    What are opinions on the question of self-determination for the people who are actually living there at this point in time? Should the left support ethnic-cleansing of them due to the Islands having once been owned by Spain( the main legal point of Argentina’s case) the former premier imperialism in the area?

  6. Lelsey2525: What are opinions on the question of self-determination for the people who are actually living there at this point in time?

    Self determination for a tiny colony of 3000 British settlers living on a group of islands 8000 miles from the mother country seems to me to render the concept devoid of any real weight?

    No one is saying they should have to leave. I’m sure a diplomatic solution can be found – say a joint sovereignty arrangement – that allows for the islanders to remain.

    However, if they are determined not to budge then they should be repatriated to the UK. Better that than the prospect of young working class men from the UK being expected in the last analysis to go over and risk their lives for the ability of 3000 colonists to continue to fly the Union Jack.

  7. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    You may be aware of this, but comments on several recent threads like “Has the left lost its way?” have not been showing up for several days, although their headings appear in this blog’s right-hand column. I thought it might just be my computer but I get the same result from a PC in an Internet cafe.

    (Edit) it seems to be fixed, at least on this Internet cafe PC. It may be that sending a post revived it in a way.

  8. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist on said:

    John,

    As we all remember, the gvt. papers released at Kew show that for years before the invasion both Callaghan (Wilson too?) & Thatcher pursued a policy of the UK to leave the islands. So any thorn is of this gvt.’s choosing.

    The question is Miliband’s response. No doubt he’ll fly the flag we all love & say if the islanders choose to become Argentinian citizens Labour won’t stand in their way.

  9. Lelsey2525 on said:

    John3
    The argument also works in reverse. The idea of self-determination for a non-colony of zero Argentinians on a group of islands that are outside of Argentinian territorial waters ( significantly so in South Georgia’s case iirc) is devoid of any real weight.

    Why should ‘the left’ support Kirchner’s claim to the Islands? Surely it would better that she drop the claims made by the fascist junta of Galtieri than flirting with the possibility of young working class Argentinians risking their lives for a scrap of land that has no Argentinian population?

  10. Lelsey2525 on said:

    We could chose to look at Miliband’s probable response another way. No doubt he will abide by principles of self-determination and democracy we all love and say ‘if the Islanders want to become Argentinian citizens we won’t stand in their way’.

  11. Lelsey2525: The idea of self-determination for a non-colony of zero Argentinians on a group of islands that are outside of Argentinian territorial waters ( significantly so in South Georgia’s case iirc) is devoid of any real weight.

    Lesley, the argument of proximity it key, as is the fact that Argentina’s claim predates Britain’s by about 30 years.

    These islands lie 300 miles off the coast of Argentina and 8000 miles from the UK. They lie on the same continental shelf as Argentina and on and around them is found the same fauna and flora.

    Imagine if Argentinian settlers living on the Isle of Wight were adamant that they wished to remain under Argentinian sovereignty. I wonder if the British govt, and even sections of the British left, would support their right to remain so.

    There is also the matter of precedent. The Chagos Islanders, the indigenous people of the islands, were unceremoniously forced out of their homes and off their islands by the same British establishment that is so determined to protect the rights of 3000 British settler in a small group of islands 8000 miles away.

    It’s hypocrisy.

  12. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist on said:

    Lelsey2525,

    The Second International (not just those dastardly Bolsheviks) accepted that the principle of self-determination applied not to any population group, not even to all oppressed groups, but only to those oppressed groups that merited being labelled a nation. (Notwithstanding the disagreements social democrats had on the criteria for nationhood.) So the longstanding view of social democracy is that this right is only ever embedded in a relation of oppression involving nations.

    If one is to remain within the social democratic tradition, to say the Falklanders (i.e. of all classes or none) have the right of self-determination one needs to offer evidence that (1) they are presently oppressed as a group (not that some are oppressed because of class practices), & (2) that they constitute a nation. I don’t know of this evidence. Does anyone else?

    We need to remember that rights are only ever prescriptive; it is the threat or exercise of force that ultimately decides. Talk of self-determination needs to be seen in this context. And the force carrying the Royal Standard & the Union Jack may have to put those pesky Argies in their place again.

    I imagine Kirchner saw how the Dear Teenager, Kim Jong-un, gets attention for a business deal, & decided to angle for one in a more subtle way. I’m sure this won’t end in tears but in dollars and pounds.

  13. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist: The Second International (not just those dastardly Bolsheviks) accepted that the principle of self-determination applied not to any population group, not even to all oppressed groups, but only to those oppressed groups that merited being labelled a nation.

    This is clearly not the case, as I do not beleive that anyone serious has ever argued that national rights only applied to “oppressed” groups. Manifestly, for example, France is a nation despite the fact that the French are not oppressed within France.

    In fact the first nation states to explicitly make a political claim to independence qua nations, Venezuela and the USA, predicated their national movements on the basis of the dominant creole populations within the colonies, articulating a desire for democratic liberty, not an end to “oppression”

    We can also look at the examples of pan-German unity, a cause universally supported by socialists in the ninetenth century, which had nothing to do national oppression.

    the question must always be posed politically; Britain’s interest in the alleged national rights of the Falkland Islanders is transparently merely an excuse for post-imperial hubris.

  14. Rorschach on said:

    Bar a decisive military defeat for the USA, I can’t imagine anything more conducive to the cause of socialism than that Britain should take a hiding – as almost happened in 1982. Unfortunately, I strongly doubt that Argentina is up to the task. Kirchner is just huffing and puffing.

    But the self-determination question is a red herring. Socialists demand it for oppressed nations not oppressors. It does not extend to the colonial outposts of imperialist nations. Besides, the Argentinians aren’t arguing that the islanders should leave only that they can no longer expect to be administered from the UK.

  15. BTW, the League of Nations document is worth reading for those silly fools who continue to ignore the actual historical record of the Soviet government, and instead bleet their idealistic nonsense.

    The Soviet government of Lenin OPPOSED the right to self determination of the Aaland islanders, becasue it was contrary to the state interests and national security considerations of the Soviet state.

    From the League of Nations Report:

    It can be seen, however, from two wireless messages sent out by the Soviet
    Government, which were read on the 10th July, 1920, at the Council Meeting, that this Government has never ceased to take an interest in the Aaland Islands question.
    In the first of these messages, dated 3rd October, 1919, the Soviet Government
    questions the qualifications of the Peace Conference to intervene in the Aaland Islands question. It states that the Aaland Islands can only be allotted to Finland by a treaty between the latter and Russia, with reference to the frontiers of Finland, and declares, the other hand, that the Islands cannot be handed over to Sweden without Russia’s consent, in view of their importance in connection with Russian communications.
    In the second message, dated 1st July, 1920, which is based on the same arguments
    and addressed to the Allies as well as to Finland and Sweden, the Soviet Government
    refuses to admit that a decision or agreement upon this point can have any value unless Russia has participated in it. The Press has lately reported the contents of another wireless message based on the same ideas and alluding to the Finnish claims in connection with Eastern Carelia and Petchenga.

    Remember this is a population of 23000 islanders under military ocupation by Finland, who had voted 95% in a referendum to join Sweden, and the Bolshevik government of Lenin, OPPOSED their wishes, on the basis of Soviet state interest.

    So let us not hear any more of this silly ahistorcal nonsense about the Bolsheviks and national rights of the oppressed

  16. Rorschach: Socialists demand it for oppressed nations not oppressors

    Who are you to DEMAND anything?

    It is hard to diasgree with Tom Nairn, when faced with this sort of unthinking bleeting, that an inability to understand nations is “marxism’s” biggest failing.

    What are we to make of the irrational distinction between “oppressed” and “oppressor” nations? How does that work? By your categorisation, as soon as an “oppressed” nation became independent, and then sought to lay the foundations of its own national state, would it not become an “oppressor” nation?

    Focussing the issue of “oppression”, without even a definition of what a nation even is, can only lead you towards idealism.

  17. Oh what a surprise: unemployment up sharply, poverty growing and austerity riots with looting across Argentina, so to divert attention from her failed policies, Fernandez whips up nationalistic fever and makes fresh claim for Malvinas/Falklands. Bit of an old trick being played here. Workers have no country!

  18. Manzil on said:

    While muddied by Britain’s dented post-imperial self-image, this remains fundamentally a conflict over conflicting strategic and economic interests. If the British government cared only for the islanders’ rights to self-determination, presumably they would waive any claims within the South Atlantic or Antarctica which are derived from ownership of the Falklands. I’ll just hold my breath, shall I.

    John: Imagine if Argentinian settlers living on the Isle of Wight were adamant that they wished to remain under Argentinian sovereignty. I wonder if the British govt, and even sections of the British left, would support their right to remain so.

    As someone currently stranded on the Isle of Wight, I’d like to take the opportunity to announce the immediate formation of the Frente Isla del Wight de Liberacion Nacional. We call on Comrade Kirchner and the British ‘mainland’ Left to recognise our legitimate national aspirations.

  19. jim mclean on said:

    Imagine if Scottish settlers living on Erinn’s Isle were adamant that they wished to remain under British sovereignty. I wonder if the British govt, and even sections of the British left, would support their right to remain so. That doesn’t quite work does it? Sorry just working out the scenarios. Manzil, can you nip over to Freshwater and see if you can find the brain cells I lost there 40 Years ago.

  20. Lelsey2525 on said:

    <

    John: Lesley, the argument of proximity it key, as is the fact that Argentina’s claim predates Britain’s by about 30 years.
    These islands lie 300 miles off the coast of Argentina and 8000 miles from the UK. They lie on the same continental shelf as Argentina and on and around them is found the same fauna and flora.

    the same British establishment that is so determined to protect the rights of 3000 British settler in a small group of islands 8000 miles away.

    It’s hypocrisy.

    I don’t doubt that the British state is hypocritical.

    However, the fact is the established community in the area does not wish to be ruled by Argentina. For me that is more compelling than Argentina’s claim which is based on being the successor state to the Spanish empire. I give less import than you to any arguments based on the fact that Argentina and the Falkland Islands share similar species of fish. In short, living Human’s views yes- dead Catholic Emperors and fish no!

  21. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Para. 1:
    (1) Talk of “This is clearly not the case” is not persuasive, merely rubbishing. You need to provide evidence.
    (2) I never spoke of “national rights”; the discussion is about the right of self-determination.
    (3) Your last sentence is a complete jumble: (a) whether France is “manifestly” a nation is neither here nor there: this part of the thread is discussing the right of self-determination; (b) talk of “the French are not oppressed within France” beggars belief.

    Para. 2:
    (1) I did not refer to the process of nation or state formation, so invoking mobilising calls (freedom, democracy, ending oppression) is irrelevant.
    (2) You are wrong in claiming the USA resulted from a struggle to create a nation: the independence struggle never spoke of a nation, only of colonies, & “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states” (Richard Lee, convenor of the Continental Congress, 7 June 1776). That’s why the Declaration of Independence speaks neither of a nation nor of the struggle to create a nation state, but only of the need for a government to be the means to secure largely unspecified INDIVIDUAL rights (only 3 are identified: Life, Liberty, & the pursuit of Happiness). (Despite your talk of democratic liberty the Declaration intentionally made no mention of either democracy, slavery, or elections; it simply says governmental powers remain just only if they secure these rights.)

    Para. 3:
    Again, nation formation is not the concern of this part of the thread.

    Para. 4:
    (1) Yes, my whole point is a matter of politics, so we agree.
    (2) Talk of “Britain’s interest” is quite strange coming from someone who I thought was a socialist, but I might have misjudged you. Miliband no doubt accepts the concept of a national interest; a socialist does not.
    (3) I agree that if anyone says Falklanders have a national right in all this then they’re likely to be trying to keep the ‘Great’ in Britain. (As we all will, I look forward to any pronouncements of the AWL.)

  22. Lelsey2525 on said:

    Marxist-Leninist-Leonist:
    Lelsey2525,

    The Second International (not just those dastardly Bolsheviks) accepted that the principle of self-determination applied not to any population group, not even to all oppressed groups, but only to those oppressed groups that merited being labelled a nation. (Notwithstanding the disagreements social democrats had on the criteria for nationhood.) So the longstanding view of social democracy is that this right is only ever embedded in a relation of oppression involving nations.

    If one is to remain within the social democratic tradition, to say the Falklanders

    Actually M-L-M I am not entirely sure I wish to remain within the social democratic tradition as defined by the second international.

  23. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist: Miliband no doubt accepts the concept of a national interest; a socialist does not.

    What do you mean you don’t “accept the concept of a national interest”

    Ae you disputing that nation states exist? and f they exist then they manifestly have interests. oder?

  24. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist: I never spoke of “national rights”; the discussion is about the right of self-determination.

    blah blah blah

    For you to accept the concept of “self-determination”, then you have to accept that nations exist, and that as polities they have have legitimate interests in promoting their interests against others, which is a concept of rights.

    You are not thinking at all, just parroting marxobabble

  25. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist on said:

    Lelsey2525,

    Lelsey, it’s M-L-L if you must, not M-L-M.

    They’re splitters, & I can’t stomach being in the same paragraph as them, let alone the same sentence.

    Excuse me while I have a technicolour yawn.

    And don’t even think of bringing the M-L-L(UK) into all this. Their position on the National Question just makes me disorientated, with all that crossing and re-crossing of class lines it all ends up like a diagram of neural networks by Steven Rose.

  26. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I’m disappointed by your comment.

    I leave readers to judge the worth of your response.

    I remain committed to the principle of reasoned argument as that has proved the most useful way for people to discuss matters, to improve understanding, and perhaps even allow opinions to change for the better.

  27. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist: I’m disappointed by your comment.

    The trouble is that most soi disant “Marxists” enter the fray of discussing questions of nations and nationalism with such a stunted and mentally impoverished tool kit of concepts, that the ensuing “debate” resembles a cargo cult discussing exactly where to lay out the runway.

    This is a shame, as many of the most insightful writers on understanding national consciousness and political nationalism are from the Marxist tradition, Otto Bauer, Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm – even Neil Davidson has made interesting contribtions to undersatnding the issue.

    But self-evidently bleeting about “oppressed” and “oppressor” nations, and “self determination”, without any deeper analysis of what a nation is, what determines national consciousness, and how we are to make a nuanced political assessment of movements that locate themselves in the pecularity of specific national contexts, means that you are just parroting half-understood arguments that arose in the socialist movement in an era before modern political nationalism had even emerged in most of Europe.

  28. Lelsey2525: For me that is more compelling than Argentina’s claim which is based on being the successor state to the Spanish empire

    Argentina is an independent nation state of over 40 million citizens with a distinct national and cultural identity, which like every state throughout Latin America has been influenced by its European colonial history and indigenous pre-colonial history. Describing it as a successor state to the Spanish Empire is entirely bogus. Are you seriously suggesting that because Argentina emerged from a history of Spanish colonialism it has no legitimacy as an independent nation state today, almost two centuries later?

    Nonsense.

    Lelsey2525: give less import than you to any arguments based on the fact that Argentina and the Falkland Islands share similar species of fish. In short, living Human’s views yes- dead Catholic Emperors and fish no!

    I give more import to human beings also, Lesley, which is why I am an opponent of British colonialism and imperialism, responsible for more human suffering throughout its blood drenched history than cancer.

    You would actually countenance sending more young working class men from Britain to travel over 8000 miles to kill and be killed for 3000 colonists and however many thousand sheep?

    Of course, the fact that significant oil and gas deposits have been located in the waters surrounding the Falklands is the real motivation behind Britain’s stalwart defence of the rights of the islanders.

    Again, Britain’s stance is both opportunistic and hypocritical.

  29. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist: You are wrong in claiming the USA resulted from a struggle to create a nation

    For someone who claims to be a “Marxist”, you seem to have a great difficulty in distinguishing between form and content. the concepts of civic nationalism, and the implied imagined national community required for the development of industrial society were clearly influential – you could even argue determinant – in both the American and Bolivaran revolutions. The binding sense of community between the rebelling creoles in both England’s North American colonies and seperately between the Spanish seaking creoles of Venezuela was predicated upon a concept of citizenship that was entailed from the novel concept of nascent nationalism.

  30. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist on said:

    Andy Newman,

    #25

    No-one is doubting that both nations & states have existed & continue to exist; what seems to be at issue is the way in which they exist.

    People have created organisations called states of various kinds and forms, and sometimes they have been given an identity in terms of groups of people called a people or a nation.

    But it is quite another matter to claim, as you did here, that states “manifestly” have interests. (Or, as you implied, that a nation has an interest, a national interest.)

    It’s clear to me that to claim a nation or a state has an interest is an error. Allow me to make a number of points (unfortunately I don’t have enough time to give an adequate explanation).

    (1) A nation is a fictional community, largely strangers feeling & believing a common bond & engaging in some shared practices (like going to the trenches); likewise ethnicity as a feeling, idea & practice bonds people together on the basis of shared ancestry, fictive kin, often antagonistic to another group said to have a different ancestry.

    (2) There is no national interest, there is no ethnic interest: what is fictional, unreal, cannot have an interest.

    (3) There is no state interest. The state is not a person, it is a set of organisations, and managers and politicians direct the activities of state employees. This gives a clue to who – not what – has interests.

    (4) What does have interests are groups of people. The higher grades of state employees & politicians may share an interest in keeping the state going for a particular purpose (say, capital accumulation); lower grades have an interest in state reproduction to allow continued employment.

    (5) What I thought was common knowledge amongst socialists was that whenever someone invokes talk of ‘the national interest’ (miners’ strike, invasion of the Falklands), whatever that person believes, they are actually referring not to the interest of the nation but of those who benefit most from the kind of society we live in, a capitalist society.

    (6) In other words, it is the dominant understanding & way of living (ideology) that speaks of a common interest. But a scientific approach allows us to recognise that in a class society we all spontaneously think & treat organisations as persons (personification), ‘giving’ them life, turning them into powerful things (fetishisation), & being powerful they obviously have interests. That’s why we unthinkingly talk of the economy or the state doing this or that, when in fact it’s only people who act, albeit in an organised way.

    (7) Our understanding has improved to expand the bearers of interests to other than classes in relations. Now we readily accept that other groups have interests, be they gendered, racialised, generational, physically or mentally impaired, even the human species as a whole. But there is no scientific reason to accept that an interest is had by a nation or a state. We may come up with one but so far all the arguments have been shown to be fallacious.

  31. Marxist-Leninist-Leonist: People have created organisations called states of various kinds and forms, and sometimes they have been given an identity in terms of groups of people called a people or a nation.

    The idea that nations only exist as a sort of conspiracy, lacks all explanatory power. Clearly national political projects are prediacted upon the fact that people share some form of national consciousness; and the specific phenomeon on such shared national identity is a new development wi.th the rise of industrial society.

    The rest of you comment seems to be a niave argument that institutions cannot have interests, or perceived interests, again an idea that has no explanatory power.

  32. Rorschach on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I stand corrected on ‘demand’ – a slip of the keypad. I should have said ‘fight for’. The right of oppressed nations to self determination is a useful principle, but deciding what constitutes one involves grasping political and economic power relations, not formal-legal status. Nothing irrational about that.

    You’ve discusssed the question of nations at length on other threads, and I recall that you were keen on a progressive form of Englishness – a bit like Billy Bragg? So, I would only reiterate the Marxist view that we attempt to colour nationalism red at our peril. I’ve yet to read anything by you, Nairn or anyone else that makes a convincing case to the contrary. If saying that is bleating, then baa.

    But either way, I don’t think it is tenable to approach the question of the Falklands from the standpoint of who the islanders want to own them. Of course, they should be British if they want to be and should be allowed to continue living in peace. But Britain has no business claiming territory or waters in that part of the world.

  33. Rorschach: The right of oppressed nations to self determination is a useful principle

    That is what I dispute, it has no explanatory power, especialy in the modern, post-colonial world.

  34. Ken Keable on said:

    I welcome the fact that President Kirchner is pursuing this claim by peaceful, diplomatic means, not military ones. All anti-imperialists should support her country’s claim to the Malvinas. The settlers are not a nation, nor are they an indigenous people, so they do not have a right to national self-determination. If they decided to become a socialist republic, they would soon see what rights they really have in the eyes of the British government. I don’t know how many of them were even born in the territory, but I remember that in 1982, at the time of the “Falklands” war, only about six of the population of 1800 were born on the islands. Hence, the “referendum” will be treated with contempt by most governments and most of world opinion.

    In 1982, I campaigned against the British counter-invasion. Unlike Labour leader Michael Foot, I was not confused on this issue by the fascist nature of the Argentine regime. I saw Britain’s ownership of the islands as a relic of imperialism, as President Kirchner rightly says. This was the position taken by the Morning Star.

    The BBC seems keen to obscure the fact that Thatcher benefited enormously from the Falklands war. In the subsequent election, it was the “Falklands factor” – ie jingoism and militarism, stirred up by the capitalist media – that got her re-elected although prior to the war she had had little chance of re-election. Thus, the very convenient war laid the basis for her government’s attacks on the trade unions and its disastrous privatisation programme. I thought at the time, and still think, that Thatcher quickly saw the possibility of a far-way war as a great opportunity to wrap herself in the Union Jack and transform her electoral prospects.

    I think that the proper response of the British government would be to negotiate to protect the legitimate rights of the settlers in the context of a hand-over of sovereignty to Argentina. I think that the Argentine government would probably be quite accommodating in this matter. Britain’s current stance will damage Britain’s relationship with the South American countries and most of world opinion. Sooner or later, Britain will leave.

  35. Rorschach on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I don’t want to fetishize the terminology, but the problem of oppressed/oppressor nations extends far beyond the era of formal colonialism. At the end of the day, it’s about geopolitical power relations and dependencies – we still have imperialism, we still have patron and client states.

  36. Rorschach on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Do you have a non-trivial point there? That the Marxist left is marginal and toothless? Fine. But there’s nothing wrong with arguing the right thing in a pub if that’s the only platform available to you!

  37. Lesley2525 on said:

    .ockquote>

    John: Argentina is an independent nation state of over 40 million citizens with a distinct national and cultural identity, which like every state throughout Latin America has been influenced by its European colonial history and indigenous pre-colonial history.Describing it as a successor state to the Spanish Empire is entirely bogus. Are you seriously suggesting that because Argentina emerged from a history of Spanish colonialism it has no legitimacy as an independent nation state today, almost two centuries later?

    Not at all, I am simply pointing out that the wishes of the inhabitants of the islands is more compelling than Argentina’s claim that it inherited ownership due to it being legally ( which is arguable)the successor state to the Spanish Empire.

  38. Lesley2525 on said:

    Andy,
    In your opinion how long would the Falkland Islanders as a community have to have been on the islands for them to count as indigenuos ?

    Also correct me if I am wrong but whilst Michael Foot, and iirc the Morning Star opposed, the war they did not support Argentina’s right to the Island?

  39. Rorschach,

    Rorschach,

    Ahh you see there is some method in my rudeness. The left needs a paradigmic shift in the terms it contemplates the issues of nations and nationalism.

    What we have drawn out here is that imperialism has endured past the end of colonialism, but surely military domination and client states are secondary to the institutions of the world bank and the washington consensus.

    In the modern world state sovereignty, perhaps occassionally delegated to the pooled sovereignty of internatipnal organisations, is the key battle ground. Syria is not an “oppressed ” nation, but its sovereignty is under threat, and Russia and China are holding the line in the UNSC to defend the principle of their own sovereignty as much as Syrias.

    Looking at such questions through a fundamentally outdated prism means that the left may be disoriented.

  40. Rorschach,

    If you are marginal and irrelevant then the art of politics is to become less marginal, arguments couched in in language and displaying attitudes designed to perpetuate irrelevance can never be “right”

  41. Lesley2525,

    It is a practical economic and political question, the islanders only have a viable existence with British patronage so on reality they never exercise self determination, their fate is decided in Whitehall.

  42. Lesley2525,

    Sweden’s claim to the Aaland islands is more compelling than Finlsnds, nevertheless in one of the great triumphs of diplomacy, war was permanently averted by giving the Swedish population of the islands autonomy within Finnish sovereignty, mutually guaranteed by Sweden and Inland.

  43. Brits out. End of. Doubt most people here really give a toss any more. Thankfully unlike some of you they may well have moved on from all this imperialist jingoistic nonsense. The islanders, all 3000? of them could stay and keep their language, silly “culture”, have dual citizenship, etc. if they wish, nobody is disputing this. Argentina is a federal republic, provinces have quite a lot of autonomy, the Malvinas can be administered in the same way, with the islanders representatives elected to their regional council so they can decide policy pretty much like everywhere else, in fact due to the relative geographical and political proximity of the Argentinian mainland they could potentially have more say over their affairs such as taxation, infrastructure, planning, budgets, etc. than they do now. Wouldn’t this be a positive outcome? So what’s the problem? The Butchers Apron will finally have to come down as the national flag. Its the typical intransigent and superior/supremacist reactionary attitudes of colonial settlers. Do we as socialists, anti imperialists and internationalists really support them setting the agenda? They should just get real and move on from their backwardness. After all before 1982 most of the Malvinas’ communications, trade, employment and educational opportunities and health services were with Argentina rather than the UK. A lot of the islanders then, especially the younger generation were mainly educated in Argentinian secondary schools and universities and were pretty much bi-lingual and bi-cultural anyway, there is absolutely no reason why this cannot start to happen again. Why do the Argentinian and the whole of the Latin American left and working class want the islands returned to Argentina? Pretty easy answer really, maybe they have just had quite enough of European and US imperialist domination of Latin America over the years and simply want to have control over their own continent and resources. Don’t their views and aspirations count? Or do some of you are only see this through British colonial and chauvinistic arrogance? Andy’s example of the Aland islands is quite a good comparison. I guess at the time the League of Nations decided on this issue the Aland islanders may have felt similar to the Malvinas islanders do now but in time have accepted the situation and moved on.

  44. red snapper,

    Quite so, if britain was really concerned about the islanders they would negotiate a deal that demilitarised the region and guaranteed autonomy in exchange for Argentinian sovereignty.

    In reality it is about maintaining Britain’s military charisma, as much for uk domestic consumption as to bolster its flagging great power preventions abroad

  45. #6

    Self determination for a tiny colony of 3000 British settlers living on a group of islands 8000 miles from the mother country seems to me to render the concept devoid of any real weight?

    Just wondering how long someone, and his/her ancestors, have to live in a place before they cease to be ‘settlers’. Is 180 years not enough? It’s certainly longer than the roots many Argentines have in their country, they being the descendants of settlers/immigrants from Europe at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Feel free also to explain how this doesn’t apply to immigrants or people from immigrant families in the UK.

  46. @Tim. As I mentioned earlier its more a question of reactionary colonial settler attitudes of somehow being superior to others who they regard as racially and culturally inferior than themselves not how many generations may have lived in any particular place. Argentinians in common with others in that part of South America are, apart from the indigenous population, descended from a number of European, including Britain, as well as other countries outside Europe, particularly the Middle East. The difference is that none of us wish to be part of or ruled by the old country of our parents, grand parents or great grandparents. We are quite happy and proud to be and identify as South American as opposed to where we are descended from even though we can also identify with our fore-fathers nationalities, languages and cultures. The British particularly seem to have a problem with this, its the same with Ulster Unionists, and its also apparent in some old settlers, who still live in now long independent former British colonies in Africa and elsewhere but continually hark back to the “good old days of Empire”. They have some sort of fixation with the Butchers Apron even though it ultimately goes against their long term interests. Guess as Andy says its the old legacy of Empire Loyalism and its military might that refuses to go away and it won’t until people stop indulging it.

  47. Lelsey2525 on said:

    @Red Snapper
    Bearing in mind the fragile nature of Argentinian democracy how could any guarantee be accepted by any reasonable person.?

    Could you also explain why you regard the Islanders British culture as ‘silly’ and by logical extension inferior to the altogether more serious culture one presumably finds in Argentina and other parts of South America?

    You are simply a racist dressing up your reactionary views in pseudo anti-colonial rhetoric.

  48. For anyone interested, I’ll be on BBC Scotland’s Call Kaye phone in programme this morning, discussing the Falklands. It kicks off around 8.50 and will run to around 9.30am.

    You can listen to it live online, I think.

  49. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #2 Cristina is no racist. I know that Argentina, like all of the Americas, has a terrible historical record of genocide against its native population; I also know this has been used by supporters of the British Empire and its much wider ranging crimes to claim a false moral high ground in the Falklands issue. It really can be quite funny to see Sun reader types suddenly getting worked up about how “white” Argentina is, native American rights and so on!

    Anyway here is a short compilliation from Oliver Stone’s brilliant “South of the Border”, including the scene where Cristina talks in very positive terms about the rise of native Presidents who “look like their people” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwhau48LUAA She is part of the same left tide that has brought native Americans like Morlaes to power, though the proportion of natives in Argentina is tiny compared to Bolivia. No doubt there is still work to be done, but IF western charities are claiming “genocide” now (and I haven’t heard of it, unlike the real genocide of Rohingya in Burma which however “inconvenient” a truth is hard to miss) then I’d be most suspicious, given the history of false allegations against Cristina’s close ally and frined Hugo Chavez…

  50. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #4 Exactly, we don’t want to be shut out of an entire (increasingly influential) continent on behalf of a village. Smaller in fact than most British villages – an interesting comparison is that George Galloway’s majority over ALL his opponents COMBINED in Bradford West (only one of 650 constituencies) was the same as the ENTIRE population of the Falklands. His actually recorded majority, over the Labour runner up, was over 3 times the Falklands population! And only about 300-400 live outside the “capital” Stanley. And this on an archipeligo with the landmass of Wales!

  51. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #19 You obviously don’t know much about Argentina. Yes there have been economic difficulties, but that’s because the left government has been REFUSING to implement austerity and FIGHTING world finance, which of course has fought back and tried to cripple the country. Recently there have actually been some important victories for Cristina and Argentina’s dignified position, such as the return of its flagship which Ghana, disgracefully given the history of African debt, had (illegally, as ruled by the Law of the Sea courts) impounded at the request of one of the “vulture funds” still chasing the 2001 debt, and also a series of court victories in America overturning previous rulings that the vulture funds must be paid the full amount despite the default and debt restructuring. As for the riots, these are rather suspicious coming at a time of upturn for the government; I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the work of foreign intelligence and/or the opportunistic, right wing union bureacracy, the leader of which seems to want to be President himslef…

  52. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #36 Andy, what about the not (yet) post colonial world, like Palestine. Or invaded countries, like Afghanistan and Iraq, or indeed your own example of France (between 1940-44!)

  53. Lelsey2525 on said:

    Cristina may or may not be racist; however, Red Snapper’s ( red Sock Puppet?) comments
    clearly are.

  54. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    Just re-read, carefully, red snapper’s comments and I don’t think they can be called “racist”, he like every serious supporter of Cristina’s position (which, if you’ll remember, is first just for talks) makes clear he doesn’t want to harm the human rights of the Islanders. However I do find it a bit strange that at #48 he seems to be British and at #51 he seems to be Argentine. Red Snapper, if you’re still reading this, which are you? And if Argentine do you agree with me about Cristina?

  55. Lelsey2525 on said:

    @M-L,
    The nature of his racism is that he regard what he describes the ‘culture’ of the islanders – note inverted commas- as silly.

    Whether he wants to harm the human rights of the Islanders is a different question.
    Stop defending the racist idiot- he is not worthy of your support.

  56. Lelsey2525: Whether he wants to harm the human rights of the Islanders is a different question.
    Stop defending the racist idiot- he is not worthy of your support.

    Please refrain from baseless accusations of racism, Lesley, else I will have to delete them.

  57. Lelsey2525 on said:

    John: Please refrain from baseless accusations of racism, Lesley, else I will have to delete them.

    John, don’t be silly.

    You can’t really believe that describing a culture as silly and indeed a non-culture is not tantamount to racism?

  58. Rorschach on said:

    andy newman,

    Interesting that you should prefer the vocabulary of sovereignty – there are many lefty post-structuralists who would regard that as even more of a ‘zombie category’ than the notion of oppressor/oppressed. In my view, the idea of a post-national or global hegemony has been exaggerated at the expense of ignoring old-fashioned territorial tensions among the enduring plurality of competing nation states. Perhaps we’re not going to see a revival of the great game anytime soon, but I’d say that global hegemonic power is limited and possibly declining. I agree that Syria is not an oppressed nation in the sense used by Leninists. Nor is Argentina – and the Falkland Islanders are certainly not (the original point I was trying to make in relation to ‘self-determination’). But what about the Kurds, Palestinians, Kashmiris etc?

  59. Lesley2525 on said:

    andy newman:
    Lelsey2525,

    Are you seriously arguing that the residents of the Falklands colon have a “culture”

    Ask our friend Red Sanpper he was the one criticising their (in reality British) ‘silly’culture.

    Of course defining someone as not having culture is a classic way of denying their humanity- just look at the history of colonialism in Latin America and elsewhere.

  60. Marxist Lenonist: Andy, what about the not (yet) post colonial world, like Palestine. Or invaded countries, like Afghanistan and Iraq

    Rorschach: But what about the Kurds, Palestinians, Kashmiris etc?

    While there may be islated examples of oppressed nations still in the world, my point is that the concept is broadly without analytical power to orient towards a world where nation-staes are the primary form of state entity, that national consciuousness is the dominant form of collective identity, that nationalism is an hegemonic ideological concept, and that various forms of political nationalism occur everywhere in the world.

    The debate about oppressed / oppressor nations occured in the socialist movement before nationalism became any where near so dominant,

  61. Rorschach: Interesting that you should prefer the vocabulary of sovereignty – there are many lefty post-structuralists who would regard that as even more of a ‘zombie category’ than the notion of oppressor/oppressed.

    These people seem to think there still is sovereignty, and it is an important political reality:

  62. Lesley2525: Of course defining someone as not having culture is a classic way of denying their humanity- just look at the history of colonialism in Latin America and elsewhere.

    The question is not whether they have a culture, the question is whether they have a culture of their own.

    It seems to me that it is stretching the definition of “culture” to the limits to imagine that people living on the Falklands have a cultural identity seperate from Britain’s. They are a colon

    Furthermore, if the Islanders are relying upon the concept of “self-determination”, then Britain has no obligation to maintain their independence, as the British state can also exercise its own right to “self-determination” to decide we have no national interest in the Falklands.

  63. Lesley2525: Of course defining someone as not having culture is a classic way of denying their humanity-

    Complete nonsense. The rights of colonists are not rights that anyone should respect at all. What about Israeli settlers living on Palestinian land? Is their’s a culture worthy of respect? What about the Afrikaaners during apartheid in S Africa?

    You’ve injected a fallacious concept of ‘culture’ as a value-free. Cultures arise from real-lived experience. The real-lived experience of these settlers, only a third of whom were actually born on the islands, is of men and women living in an outpost of British cultural, political, and military supermacy vis-a-vis the Argentinians.

    Cultures do not exist in a vacuum.

  64. @Lesley2525.
    Where did I say I was British? My background is made up of various nationalities, faiths and cultures a part of which is British by virtue of having lived here on and off for almost 40 years. You have a problem with that?
    Think the issue of the Malvinas islanders silly “culture” has been adequately addressed in previous posts above. Its a backward looking petit bourgeois colonial settler version of British culture which dates back to the Victorian era and is completely reactionary. It bears very little relation to what British culture has become over the years and should quite frankly be consigned to the dustbin of history as it has no place in the modern world.

  65. jim mclean on said:

    red snapper:
    @Lesley2525.
    Its a backward looking petit bourgeois colonial settler version of British culture which dates back to the Victorian era and is completely reactionary.

    Much like the world outside SU. We live in reactionary times which is why UKIP is on the verge of becoming a major, if somewhat temporary, political force. Crazy thing is it was Thatcher who brought down the Fascist Argentinian junta, not the left. I think we spend too much time looking at the big picture and ignoring what is going on around us.

  66. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #72 Don’t get so tetchy, if you read my posts you’d see I’m no anti-Argie British nationalist! So I was right it seems to have inferred from #48 and rmembering posts of yours on other threads over the years that you live in Britain )its really no insult, your commentary seems based on first hand knowledge, thats a good thing!), but in #51 you refer tot the Argentines as “we”. I know both Brits living in Argentina and Argentines living in Britain so thought you could maybe been one of those categories. Really I only mentioned it to get your point of view, which may be an informed one, on the wider politics of Argentina, which I find fascinating given their relationship of mutual hostility with the bankers and vulture funds who still call the shots over here…

  67. @MarxistLenonist.
    Sorry thought post was Lesley’s hence my comments directed at her. Lost my glasses so couldn’t read the posts properly, they all merged into one.
    Luckily found them again. :-)
    Anyway to clarify matters I live in London and regard myself as part of the British left and labour movement. But am also an internationalist and anti imperialist whose origins are in South America. I tend to find apart from a few honourable exceptions that the Brit left are particularly weak on anti imperialism. Discussions on the Malvinas as well as Ireland and Palestine tends to really show up lingering reactionary colonialist and pro imperialist views. I really don’t know why this issue is even contentious for some socialists? Maybe Lesley and others can enlighten us as to what exactly about British colonial racist settler “culture” is worth supporting and defending? Do the “rights” of 3,000 petit bourgeois bigoted white settlers in a colonial outpost over 8,000 miles from the UK trump over the aspirations of practically the whole of the Latin American as well as no doubt the vast majority of the working class in the world’s oppressed nations? Am in no doubt that if these islanders were to come to the UK for any length of time they will find it a far cry from their Victorian imperial ideals that they espouse and these days their natural political home will most likely be in UKIP, BNP and the right wing of the Tory Party. Thankfully Britain has socially and culturally moved on while time has stood still for these inbred Butchers Apron waving sheep shaggers.
    @Lesley. Why do you describe Argentina as a “fragile democracy”? Is the UK and better? Or is it because you don’t think South Americans cant run their own affairs and need some kind of guiding hand from the imperial powers? This patronising colonialist attitude is part of the problem.

  68. Rorschach on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I agree that ‘post-nationalism’ is a Western, largerly Euro-centric conceit. Yet, those videos only reinforce my view that there is no ‘Chinese wall’ between nationalism, sovereignty and oppressed/oppressor relationships. They are not mutually exclusive – Tibet is another glaring example.

    But I accept there is a difference between colonial and post-colonial forms of domination and I’m not hung up on the terminology – it’s the configurations of power and resistance that matter. In which case, socialists in and outside the pub should support the right of the peoples of client nations to self-determination as best we can, including their pursuit of sovereignty.

    But that only brings us back to the relationship between nationhood and socialism – on which I think Billy Bragg, Tom Nairn et al are wrong. I just don’t see where you go with a socialist conception of Englishness, Scottishness or Britishness that doesn’t have the dissolution of Englishness/Scottishness/Britishness as its goal. And that isn’t just abstract Marxist posturing. The argument has a very concrete application in relation to Scottish independence. Nationalists and socialists can both support a yes vote, but only the former think independence will solve the problems of crisis, austerity and so-forth – as if it was simply a matter of misrule from London and had nothing to do with Scottish capitalism. I hope Scotland does vote yes, only to realise very quickly that the Union wasn’t the real problem after all. Failing to argue this position up front in the press, on the streets and in the pubs (where I imagine many serious discussions will take place) would surely be a dereliction of socialist duty.

    A bit off-topic, but still relevant to the question of how I think about the Malvinas question – in terms of British imperialism rather than anyone’s sovereignty. That focus is much easier to achieve if the waters are not muddied with Englishness or Britishness.

  69. AndyS. on said:

    red snapper,

    And what part of socialist theory does racist assumptions about the Falkland Islanders come under ? The bogus claims of the Argentine government are as much to do with their desperation to draw attention away from Argentina’s economic crisis as Butch Cameron’s response is to do with the same need in respect of economic collapse and the on-going attack on the British working class.

  70. Rorschach: I just don’t see where you go with a socialist conception of Englishness, Scottishness or Britishness that doesn’t have the dissolution of Englishness/Scottishness/Britishness as its goal.

    You seem confused between the ethnic identities English, Scottish that have deep roots and political allegiance to the imperial project British. These are two different things.

    You might see the dissolution of Britishness except as a geographical term as an outcome of socialism, indeed its already happening on both sides of the border. But ethnic identity is near impossible to erradicate even in groups on the verge of extinction.

    Accordingly any socialist project that seeks to deny or remove the ethic identity of its masses will recieve little support from them. Its no use saying to the English once we have done this you won’t be English anymore – they like being English. So Bragg’s approach of celebrating English radicals etc at least offers hope of success.

  71. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #78 Except that Cristina’s response to the global economic crisis has been the diametrical opposite of Cameron’s…

  72. AndyS. on said:

    Marxist Lenonist,

    She is a Peronist – therefore she will from time to time take populist actions. Much the same could be said about the DUP, who have a significant working class vote but who I and I doubt anyone here would regard as being on the left

  73. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #81 But “Peronist” on its own actually doesn’t mean much does it? Being in a party that has historically included everyone from fascists to Trotskyists a bit of context on what wing of it she’s on is required, no? Cristina’s pro-Chavez “populism” is of an entirely different kind from Menem’s neoliberalising, populist, Peronist regime of the 90s. Or indeed Ian Paisley’s rabble-rousing you numpty!

  74. I hate open letters. Unless you’re Emile Zola, writing an open letter is such a pretentious thing to do.