The Falklanders and self determination

March 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm (Civil liberties, democracy, elections, Human rights, imperialism, Jim D, Latin America, stalinism)

I sent this letter to the Morning Star back in January. They published it, albeit in a slightly edited form. It produced some truly Jesuitical responses, attempting to explain why the Falklanders do not have the right to self-detemination. Extraordinary, isn’t it, how sections of the “left” are so ready to tie themselves up in knots in order to justify the denial of basic democracy to ordinary people..?

< > A man wearing a Union flag suit dances as he casts his vote in a referendum to decide if the Falkland Islands should remain as a British territory

Above: he has the right to be a prat.

Dear Comrades,

 Neither John Wight in his article on the Falklands (M Star January 7) nor Mike Starke in his letter (M Star January 9) address the central issue for socialists and consistent democrats: the right of the Islanders to self-determination.
The Islanders are a distinct historical, ethnic, linguistic economic and geographic community 400 miles from Argentina. They exploit no other community, threaten no other community, have not dispossessed any other community and are not being used, and are not likely to be used, as a base for imperialist control of any other community.
The Falkanders’ right to self-determination cannot be invalidated by their desire to adhere to Britain: that desire would only be of significance if it resulted in direct imperialist / colonial consequences for the people of Argentina – and no-one, including President Kirchner, has been able demononstrate any practical (as opposed to demagogic) way in which that is the case.
Mike Starke at least acknowledges that Argentina’s claim to be an “anti colonial” force in this situation is somewhat incredible, given the fact that it only exists as a result of European settlers, mainly Spanish and Italian, having vitually wiped out the native population. Argentina’s “claim” to the Falklands rests on a few years of formal possession in the 1830’s by a garrison sent to establish a penal settlement! There never was an indigenous population there.
Galtieri’s 1982 invasion did not liberate anyone from colonialism or imperialism.  It did not lessen the burden of imperialist exploitation, or improve the conditions  for the fight against it, for a single Argentine worker. Kirchner’s government may be somewhat less reactionary than the fascistic Galtieri regime, but her posturing over the Fallkands is  just as contrived – a cynical ploy to divert the Argentine masses at a time of economic crisis at home.
Argentina is a developed bourgeois state and possesses political independence. It also occupies a subordinate rank within the imperialist world economy. That subordination, however, in no way gives any progressive  character to the Argentine ruling class and their mini-imperialist designs on the Falklands and its harmless population.
John Wight, like too many British leftists, is engaging in a fantasy “let’s pretend” “anti imperialism” that in fact makes him an apologist for the regime and a vicarius Argentine chauvinist.
In solidarity
Jim Denham


  1. Robin Carmody said,

    The problem is that the 1982 war did so much to destroy the British Left as a force that could influence and challenge and even undermine the British state and British capitalism (both of which had recently been, by any modern standards, remarkably insecure and unsure of themselves) that it is virtually impossible for most of the British Left to view it objectively. Emotionally it hurts them because they are remembering the site of their own long-term defeat.

    But even that doesn’t justify the refusal to grant self-determination to peoples who are geopolitically inconvenient (see also Jewish people generally, Richard Seymour’s sarcastic sneers at Muslim liberals as “Uncle Toms”, etc). This is all a matter of being able to put other people’s rational self-determination over and above your own emotional strain and painful memories. That is hard enough even for me (and I am high-functioning autistic), but it still has to be the way.

  2. Robin Carmody said,

    Another way of putting this is that it is always hard for the British Left, and especially the English Left, to accept that people from other countries and cultures aspire towards the same things from their own culture that they are ashamed of and want to live down. Quite apart from the resonances of 1982 (to set it in context, immediately before Britain recaptured the Falklands it was still possible to predict accurately the eventual rise of the internet and then say that “political revolution must inevitably follow”), the Falkland Islanders bring on the same embarrassment as Scottish and Northern Irish Unionists (this has been the root cause of my difficult, uneven relationships with a number of Rangers fans – that they want to be what I’m running away from) and, for Leftists such as myself who have at some point or other embraced the radical potential of the music of the black Atlantic, hip-hop/grime/reggae etc. artists who aspire to mass commercialism and consumerism.

    For much of the British Left, the Falkland Islanders are just objects who inconveniently stood in the way of what, in the wake of the 1970s, they still hoped they could achieve (remember “after Thatcher, our turn next”?) and upset the narrative they had planned. They can only imagine them as tools used by the other side to win “the battle for Britain” when it still could have gone either way. They do not really see them as real people with real concerns separate from their own fixations. And that, while understandable if all you have left in this world is to be “an old man praying with newspaper cuttings of his glory days”, is in its own way – like the SWP’s patronising dismissal of the self-determination of half the population of Islamic states – entirely imperialist and colonialist.

    • Daniel Young said,

      And how much it must have pissed Thatcher off reading the armed forces command dispatch to the Queen ‘Mam,the Faulklands is yours”.

      • williamgladys said,

        Daniel Young – Interesting blog here. I am not sure whether she was all that pissed off as you say by a telegram to Liz Battenberg, after all she Thatcher (if I remember correctly) reviewed the troops on their “triumphant” return – 1500 dead,plus countless families grieving!) I didn’t like Thatcher, but I admired her breaking of the anachronistic royal protocol

  3. Jabez said,

    Whether the Argentine government intends to interfere militarily, which I doubt, there is little doubt that the almost 100%, but questionable vote in favor, is seen as a humiliation and a slap in the face to the Argentinean government and a great number of citizens in Argentina, especially those who had loved ones killed in the conflict. Militarily, the Falklands residents could not resist occupation. (Forget the British nuclear sub patrolling the waters.) This fact is reinforced by a retired British General, who stated not verbatim, that a properly planned military occupation by Argentina could not be defended by British troops. I hope it does not come to that but who knows? Moreover,there are already calls for sincere negotiations to ‘ape’ the political arrangements that were successfully negotiated between Britain and China over Hong Kong a few years back. I am afraid the British government have now placed their position firmly on the back foot.

    • Babz Badasbab Rahman said,

      You’re totally wrong there mate. The difference in military power between Britain and Argentina is much greater now than in 1982. Back than Thatcher sent a task force to take back the island which was overrun by the then militant fascist ruled Argentine military against virtually no resistance. Today the Falklands is protected by in situ state of the art Frigates, Eurofighter multi role fighter jets and as you’ve mentioned they could easily send a stealthy submarine for extra fire power. Not to mention there are 1200 troops on the island at all times. Argentina has hardly spent anything on her military for the past few decades. It allocates around 1% of it’s GDP to defence which gives it an annual budget of roughly £2.1 billion in 2012. That’s peanut money in the worlds military spending league table (Britain spent about £46 billion or 2.6% GDP in 2012).

      • Jabez said,

        Thanks – I cannot remember the name of the British General who made these claims, but if you say I am wrong then presumably a man who was at the center of military strategy then is, by your reckoning wrong also. I question your reasoning on that point. Thatcher’s main concern was in fact the fossil fuel situation, but kept under wraps because of the ‘freedom’ issue which was broadcast as the main objective. According to numerous media reports a bit later, Britain didn’t win the war but lost it because of the Argentine Generals’ incompetence, lack of preparation, and too soon, and the sending in of ‘green’ troops. It emerged later that the MOD and representatives from the secret services were beavering away to stop delivery of Exocet missiles to the Argentine air-force, and they succeeded.The islanders recent jingoism and the gloating of the British foreign office is making matters far worse than previously. No government or its citizens enjoy receiving an internationally public slap in the face, or loss of face in this case. I would prefer a negotiated settlement between the two governments and a compromise regarding eventual shared? sovereignty. We do not want to see a further 1500 Argentinians and Brits losing their lives as per last time.

      • Babz Badasbab Rahman said,

        @ Jebez

        I was only referring to the military balance of power in your first post not the reasons about the war. As for arm chair generals making comments, I can find plenty that support what I’ve said.

        By the way I think you are referring to this bitter old man-

  4. Jimmy Glesga said,

    The local inhabitants of Argentina before the Spanish colonialists arrived probably did not know the Falklands existed.
    The British probably had their boots on the Falklands first followed by the sheep.
    The British should tell the Argies diplomatically to fuck off and definitely not share the natural resources.
    That will piss the Argies off probably more than the Spanish Armada being fucked.
    The Argies were Nazi supporters so get the cold steel right up em.

    • Jabez said,

      I do not want to see anyone pissed off, as you describe it, it aggravates already difficult situations, although I agree with you however, that diplomacy should prevail. Your mention of support for the Nazis is interesting. You might be surprised to learn that some members of the “British” royal family were allegedly in that category also. Please look at ‘A Gathering of Facts’, about the monarchy, on I think there are at least two dozen photographs relating to the German connection in the 20th.C. I hope you find it of interest.

      • Modernity's Ghost said,


        Word to the wise: Jimmy Glesga is a bigot and trolls as an Olympic sport.

        Best ignored.

  5. Brainthedog said,

    What the hell is going on !?!

    I can’t believe it as not only did I think I was I was the only leftie in Britain who thought the Argentinian claims to the Falkland Islands to be nonsensical (I paticularly love the we are nearer to the Islands than you are) but I find myself actually for once agreeing with the Jim D.

    I need to go and lie down in a dark room.

  6. Red Deathy said,

    Of course, the right to self determination for the British means they have the right to drop the Falkalnd Islands from their territory…

  7. holy joe said,

    “Your mention of support for the Nazis is interesting”.
    Argentina was neutral during WW2 before joining the war on the side of the Allies in March 1945. I would not give any credence to anything that ignorant bigoted tosspot Glesga said.

    • Jimmy Glesga said,

      Holy Joe . Yes they were neutral like Italy, Vatican, Spain and managed to get the Nazi scum safe passage to South America with the gold tooth fillings from Jews. I suspect you have taken it up the erse holy joe from a Bishop at least.

      • williamgladys said,

        Jimmy G -I see that you are considered a bigot on this blog,but do you have to resort to vile self defeating comments in your replies.

      • Jimmy Glesga said,

        Willy. If self defacation is the truth then I do not mind.

      • williamgladys said,

        OK that is your choice – but your comment went much further than you suggest.

  8. Daniel Young said,

    Love the barny ” its ours, not yours”.Killer.

  9. Jim Denham said,

    Predictable anti-democratic bollocks from Posh Boy Seumas over at the Graun…

    …but read the comments that follow. Even CIF commenters aren’t having it.

    • williamgladys said,

      Jim -Thanks for the article – It seems a well balanced argument in favor of either leaseback or shared sovereignty which is fine. I had no idea the British taxpayer was subsiding each island resident to the tune of £45,000 EACH year, especially during a time of austerity.Thank you also for that gem. We must avoid further deaths and more of the dreadful gloating Jingoism, if we hope to get a peaceful negotiated settlement. However POSH Cameron’s attitude does not help. As for being anti-democratic, the article is the opposite – a reasoned argument..

      • Jimmy Glesga said,

        The article was just a case of filling a space in a newspaper. Hong Kong was handed over by treaty. Nothing to do with the colour of skin. There will be no further deaths unless the Argentians want it. The British taxpayer subsidise many parts of the UK and that is a good thing. The Falklands is British and has never been part of Argentina.

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