Tag Archive: assad


Syria, the labour movement and the global working class:  The VOAG speaks to Gerry Downing

Opposition forces battling Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria now number around 100,000 fighters, but after more than two years of fighting they are fragmented into as many as 1,000 bands. According to Russia Today, a new study by IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, estimates there are around 10,000 foreign jihadists fighting for powerful factions linked to al-Qaeda. Another 30,000 to 35,000 hard-line Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists, but are focused purely on the Syrian war rather than a wider international struggle, and there are at least a further 30,000 islamists belonging to other groups. Only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups.

The VOAG spoke to Jerry Downing of Socialist Fight and asked: “What is the correct position to take on the Syria question”

GD: “Within the labour movement internationally – that is amongst the various groupings that purport to represent the interests of the working class, stretching from mass reformist bourgeois workers parties to the centrist groups of the far left – there are five basic positions on the war in Syria, with some crossover between categories, i.e. some groups straddle two positions. 1. Arm the rebels and bomb Assad. This is the straightforward Imperialist position which seeks to defend and advance the war plans of Western Imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa. These are the right wing Labour leaders and Social Democracy internationally with their associated right wing trade union leaders, from Miliband in Britain to Françoise Holland in France. 2. Arm the rebels but don’t bomb Assad. This grouping includes many leftists in the Labour Party and Social Democracy internationally, some Communist/Stalinist groups and the SWP/IST, the ISO (US), Workers Power, the RCIT, the LCC, the LIT and many others. 3. Don’t arm the rebels and don’t bomb Assad – the third campist position. This grouping contains the Socialist Party/CWI, Socialist Appeal/IMT, the ICL/IBT/IG(LFI) (the ‘Spart’ family) and the AWL and others. The AWL manages to be both in group 1 and group 3 at the same time because of the obvious implication of the “Assad is the main enemy” position. It depends on who’s writing the article. 4. Uncritical or mildly critical support for Assad against Imperialist attacks and against the rebels. This group includes the majority of the Maoists, Marxist Leninists and bourgeois nationalists internationally, together with some other communist parties and the Workers Revolutionary Party of Britain and its ICFI. It also includes the RCG/FRFI. 5. The Anti Imperialist United Front, for the defeat of the rebels and Imperialism whilst giving no political support to Assad against the Syrian working class. The genuine Trotskyist position as developed by Lenin and Trotsky. Defended by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International and other groups and individuals internationally”.

VOAG: “for the defeat of the rebels and Imperialism whilst giving no political support to Assad against the Syrian working class” what does this mean in practice?”

GD: “It means that you are for the victory of the Syrian National Army over the rebels and Imperialism and you would work for that politically and in whatever practical way you could. But you would not seek to hide the crimes of Assad against the working class and his and his father’s previous history of collaborating with Zionism and the US against the Palestinians, for instance. You would prepare for his overthrown at a later stage by the organised working class. But right now the main enemy is Imperialism and its allies and proxies in Syria”.

VOAG: “So what is the Anti-Imperialist united Front?”

GD: “It was the name of the tactic developed by the revolutionary Comintern in 1920. It is true that Stalinism has degraded it to a two stage theory of uncritical support for bourgeois nationalists fakers over the years. But the original theses is still applicable and revolutionary. US Imperialism is the enemy of every person on the planet, even the capitalists who back it unequivocally”.

“The great majority of Syrians support Assad because the reactionary character of the rebels is clear and the fate that will befall secular Syria in regards women’s rights, trade unions and workers rights etc if the rebels win. You must be unequivocally for the defeat of Imperialism and its proxies. This is what will both strengthen the working class in Syria and the working class in the Imperialist countries and what we must work for right now. And concession to third campism or seeking to make Assad the equal enemy is reactionary and very wrong.

Of course Assad is an enemy of the Syrian and global working class, but right now he is a secondary enemy and the Anti-Imperialist United Front means a temporary alliance with him today against Imperialism and its proxies, the main and immediately threatening enemy, in order to prepare for his overthrow by the revolutionary working class after the defeat of Imperialism. Such revolutionaries as exist in Syria must have that as their goal, maintaining their political independence in this way”.

VOAG: “Can you elaborate on the Third Campist attitudes?”

GD: “The IBT has a third campist Shachtmanite position on Syria with their slogan: ‘Syrian workers have no side in civil war between Baathists and Islamists’.”

“The Sparts also take a clearly Shachtmanite position, “Neither Damascus nor Washington but the socialist revolution!” It is a “sectarian-communal war they say”. ‘The dire situation in Syria today, and throughout North Africa and the Middle East, emerged from the collapse of Stalinism and Arab nationalism, which opened the way for religious fundamentalism and sectarian/communal conflicts, often exploited by imperialism’ they wrote on their website”.

“All the Spart family propaganda is in the Effilite tradition, as Trotsky lampooned: ‘The only salvation of the workers and peasants of China is to struggle independently against the two armies, against the Chinese army in the same manner as against the Japanese army. These four lines, taken from an Eiffelite document of September 10, 1937, suffice entirely for us to say: we are concerned here with either real traitors or complete imbeciles. But imbecility, raised to this degree, is equal to treason’.”

“The truth of the matter is there is no revolution, there was a brief spring where legitimate protests began against Assad but the Saudi, Qatar and jihadist gunmen intervened within hours. Assad was Imperialism’s ally in the region, until they realised they had better allies in prospect and a chance of seizing control of the whole country so Obama, Cameron and Holland called it a “revolution” more in hope than in strong expectation that they would fool anyone and, to their absolute astonishment, not only their pliant mass media began parroting the lie but some who call themselves far left and even Trotskyists also began parroting the Imperialist lie. You would have thought that only a complete fool would think that the three strongest Imperialist powers in the planet would fund and organise via the CIA a genuine revolution, but up steps Workers, Power, the USFI, the RCIT, the LIT to name but a few, who swallowed it whole and regurgitate this vomit for their gullible members and supporters”.

The VOAG would like to thank Gerry Downing and the Socialist Fight group, British section of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International. http://socialistfight.com/The Voag

Assad did not use chemical weapons

CBS News reports that the U.S. is finalizing plans for war against Syria – and positioning ships to launch cruise missiles against the Syrian government -based on the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people. The last time the U.S. blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack, that claim was debunked.

But is the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people true this time? It’s not surprising that Syria’s close ally Russia is expressing doubt. Agence France-Presse (AFP) notes: Russia, which has previously said it has proof of chemical weapons use by the rebels, expressed deep scepticism about the opposition’s claims. The foreign ministry said the timing of the allegations as UN inspectors began their work “makes us think that we are once again dealing with a premeditated provocation.”

But Russia isn’t the only doubter. AFP reports: “At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the people who are helping them are without any protective clothing and without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. “In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.” John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be compelling evidence of chemical weapons use. “Of the videos that I’ve seen for the last few hours, none of them show pinpoint pupils this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus nerve agents,” he said.

Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World magazine, which specialises in chemical weapons issues, said the evidence did not suggest that the chemicals used were of the weapons-grade that the Syrian army possesses in its stockpiles. “We’re not seeing reports that doctors and nurses are becoming fatalities, so that would suggest that the toxicity of it isn’t what we would consider military sarin. It may well be that it is a lower-grade,” Winfield told AFP.

Haaretz reports: Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination. Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: “None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,” he says, “and despite that, none of them seem to be armed.” This would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons, including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition, he says that “there are none of the other signs you would expect to see in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control”.

Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous material exposure at England’s Cranfield University who has worked with Britain’s Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that “from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the casualties coming in, and it would affect those treating them who are not properly protected. We are not seeing that here.”

Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any external signs of trauma?

The Syrian rebels (and perhaps other players in the region) have a clear interest in presenting this as the largest chemical attack by the army loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad to date, even if the cause was otherwise, especially while the UN inspectors are in the country.

It is also in their interest to do so whilst U.S. President Barack Obama remains reluctant to commit any military support to the rebels, when only the crossing of a “red line” could convince him to change his policy. The rebels and the doctors on the scene may indeed believe that chemical weapons were used, since they fear such an attack, but they may not have the necessary knowledge and means to make such a diagnosis. The European Union demanded Wednesday that the UN inspectors be granted access to the new sites of alleged chemical attacks, but since this is not within the team’s mandate, it is unlikely that the Syrian government will do so.Stephen Johnson, an expert in weapons and chemical explosives at Cranfield Forensic Institute, said that the video footage looked suspect:

There are, within some of the videos, examples which seem a little hyper-real, and almost as if they’ve been set up. Which is not to say that they are fake but it does cause some concern. Some of the people with foaming, the foam seems to be too white, too pure, and not consistent with the sort of internal injury you might expect to see, which you’d expect to be bloodier or yellower.

Chemical and biological weapons researcher Jean Pascal Zanders said that the footage appears to show victims of asphyxiation, which is not consistent with the use of mustard gas or the nerve agents VX or sarin: “I’m deliberately not using the term chemical weapons here,” he said, adding that the use of “industrial toxicants” was a more likely explanation.

Michael Rivero asks:
1. Why would Syria’s Assad invite United Nations chemical weapons inspectors to Syria, then launch a chemical weapons attack against women and children on the very day they arrive, just miles from where they are staying?

2. If Assad were going to use chemical weapons, wouldn\rquote t he use them against the hired mercenary army trying to oust him? What does he gain attacking women and children? Nothing! The gain is all on the side of the US Government desperate to get the war agenda going again. As I type these words, US trained and equipped forces are already across the border into Syria, and US naval forces are sailing into position to launch a massive cruise missile attack into Syria that will surely kill more Syrians than were claimed to have died in the chemical attack.

Last time there was a chemical weapon attack in Syria, Bush administration office Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson said that he thought Israel might have given chemical weapons to the Syrian rebels to frame the government. British MP George Galloway just floated the same theory in regards to the new chemical weapon attack.

The evidence so far for the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army is second-hand and comes from a biased source. Of course, we don’t know who carried out the attack, or what weapon was used. But given the well-documented fact that the U.S. has been planning regime change in Syria for 20 years straight – and planned to use false ploys for 50 years – it is worth being skeptical until all of the evidence is in. Indeed, many are asking whether this is Iraq War 2.0. For example, the Independent writes: Pictures showing that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel-held Eastern Ghouta just east of Damascus are likely to be viewed sceptically because the claims so much resemble those made about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) before the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Like the Iraqi opposition to Saddam, who provided most of the evidence of WMDs, the Syrian opposition has every incentive to show the Syrian government deploying chemical weapons in order to trigger foreign intervention. But the obvious fact that for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons would be much against their own interests does not prove it did not happen. Governments and armies do stupid things. But it is difficult to imagine any compelling reason why they should do so since they have plenty of other means of killing people in Eastern Ghouta, such as heavy artillery or small arms, which they regularly use.The VOAG is watching, the VOAG is everywhere!

Stop The War Coalition

Hands Off SyriaMessage From ‘Hands Off Syria!’

August 26th, 2013
There is a very dangerous situation developing in the Middle east in the immediate future with this latest provocation. It is a completely conscienceless attack on mainly civilians in order to ignite a wider bloodbath. It shows clearly that imperialism, dominated by U.S. imperialism has no agenda in the middle east (or anywhere else) except for destruction of communities and whole nations in order to loot their resources

The evidence in the attachment against this attack being he work of the Syrian government is strong and yet is being completely disregarded by the media in the main. the BBC in particular is at its slimy lying best as an instrument of ruling class propaganda, despite its being completely funded by ordinary people, which should insure its independence.

According to the foreign secretary, Britain and America intend to go ahead with attacks on Syria independently of the U.N. as ‘diplomacy’ has not worked. By diplomacy they presumably mean sanctions(which, according to the reporter Franklin Lamb, are devastating the lives of ordinary civilians) and arming and sending into the country bands of fanatics to cause murder and destruction.

This is a very dangerous escalation of an already explosive situation in the Middle East and one that is not desired by the vast majority of people in Britain and the United States and shows desperation in the face of the unravelling of their plans for the devastation and division of Syria by the use of proxy forces. In the light of the victories of the Syrian government forces in recent weeks and the demoralisation and divisions in the ranks of the armed gangs it makes no sense whatsoever for Syrian government forces to resort to an action that would bring down retaliation on their heads.

This is undoubtedly a provocation. The Syrian government and army are all that stands in the way of the dismembrment and destruction of the country by imperialism.In this situation it is imperative that all Socialists must call for unconditional support for Syria against these attacks by imperialism regardless of the nature of the regime in charge. The demand must be HANDS OFF SYRIA!Hands Off Syria

The VOAG is Watching - The VOAG is Everywhere!For Adebolajo and Oluwatobi,

Against Imperialist wars in Muslim lands:

LCFI statement on the Woolwich killing: 31 May 2013[1]


Gerald Downing, Socialist Fight. May 2013 (Reposted without permission)
The LCFI is a proudly anti-Imperialist Trotskyist internationalist grouping which never equates the violence of the oppressor with that of the oppressed. We stand with Lenin unequivocally on these questions: Lenin: We are defending… not the national interests, for we assert that the interests of socialism, of world socialism are higher than national interests, higher than the interests of the state.[2]
The killing of the British soldier Lee Rigby, 25, in Woolwich, South London, on 22 May, who was identified as a British soldier by the Help for Heroes t-shirt he was wearing, was a political act. One of the assailants, Michael Adebolajo, immediately made this clear in a statement: We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day. We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you. Do you think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? Do you think your politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we, so you can all live in peace.
We sympathise with the family of the dead British soldier, it is terrible to lose a son, husband and father in any circumstances but the full blame lies with British Imperialism’s wars of aggression and drone strikes – the kill ratio is thousands to one and they all have families too and the so called “Islamacist terrorists” combatants are “guilty” only of heroically defending their own lands; Lee Rigby was a professional mercenary soldier paid to implement David Cameron’s predatory Imperialist foreign policy and he paid the price of this dangerous assignment. The seeds of violence were sown by British Imperialism; together with other European Imperialist powers they shipped upwards of fourteen million black Africans across the oceans in cages as slaves. How many countries have they invaded and destroyed to exploit and rob their wealth and natural recourses? When was the last time a Muslim group invaded a country for its resources and killed a million people?
We will not condemn Michael Olumide Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Oluwatobi Adebowale, 22.According to Paul Cahalan in an article in The Independent on Sunday on 26 May Michael Adebolajo was arrested with six others in Kenya under suspicion of being at the centre of an Al-Qaeda-inspired plot in 2010. He was tortured before being released without charge, it seems because MI5 agents thought they could recruit him as a spy. MI5 constantly harassed him and his family in an attempt to make him work for them after he returned home.[3] This was their answer.
However we do not agree with their methods of struggle. As with all so-called “acts of terror” or the shooting of British soldiers by Irish Republicans we say that for national liberations fighters the army of occupation is a legitimate target. But we do not endorse individual action like planting bombs against civilian populations (which this was not) or killing of individual soldiers in a public street not only because it cannot achieve its aim of defeating imperialism but because it has the exact opposite effect on the mass of their potential supporters, the organised working class. Our approach is the traditional Marxist one of “unconditional but critical support”. As Trotsky said (and we would not use the epithet “terrorism” today): In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission. The anarchist prophets of the ‘propaganda of the deed’ can argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of terrorist acts on the masses. Theoretical considerations and political experience prove otherwise. The more ‘effective’ the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement comes disillusionment and apathy.[4]
However we cannot make our support for anti-Imperialist fighters conditional on them agreeing to our methods of struggle. This was not a “terrorist” act but a response to massive Imperialist terrorism against the Muslim lands with which the pair clearly identified. Under the cloak of religion there are very powerful anti-Imperialist sentiments in that statement above with which we solidarise, without in any way conceding to the religious prejudices of Fundamentalism. We must learn how to support the one and oppose the other without ever taking our eye off the main enemy, World Imperialism.
As Trotsky says: The struggle against war, properly understood and executed, presupposes the uncompromising hostility of the proletariat and its organizations, always and everywhere, toward its own and every other imperialist bourgeoisie…[5]
The war dead of Imperialism
Estimates of the war dead following the 2003 invasion of Iraq are as high as one million. Taken with the death toll from the previous sanctions campaign and the First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm, 1990-91) combined with the invasions of Afghanistan, Libya and the sanctions campaign against Iran etc this pushes that figure to close to two million dead. Almost all these occupied lands[6] have seen the life expectancy of the general population decline dramatically, infant mortality rise sharply, previously free education and hospital services devastated by privatisation and delivery into the hands of US and other multi-nationals, now affordable only by the rich. Their infrastructure and services like transport, electricity, water sanitation and sewerage have been enormously degraded and their whole economies reduced to worse conditions than they endured half a century and more ago under colonialism. Radioactive fragments from depleted uranium shells in war zones from ex-Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Mali have caused and will cause countless deaths and birth deformities in these regions.  All to serve the global war aims of US-dominated Western Imperialism, to enhance the profits of the great banks and finance houses and their allied multi-national companies. A new fascism is looming, a Fourth Global Reich with the same social values as the Third. As State, Power & Bureaucracy put it: Over everything (in Nazi Germany) loomed the banks: as the banker Schroder put it at his Nuremburg trial: “They had a powerful influence on the party and on the government.” We cite a German couplet from the period: Who marches in with the first German tank? / Herr Director Rasche from the Dresden Bank.[7]
Before the Second Gulf War of 2003 Iraq suffered enormously from the sanctions against it imposed by the US. On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright (then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) appeared on a 60 Minutes segment in which Lesley Stahl asked her “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” and Albright replied “we think the price is worth it.”
This is all caused by Imperialism’s drive for profits, to capture markets for their products, to eliminate rival semi-colonial regimes by installing their own puppets in these countries. Even pliant national rulers can become a barrier to the finance capital masters of Wall Street, the City of London and the Paris Bourse; Saddam Hussein was installed as Iraq’s ruler by the CIA, Assad was a steadfast ally of Imperialism until they found better ones and Gaddafi had made his peace with Imperialism but nonetheless it was not enough to established today’s needs of unrivalled global domination by the US and its allies.
It is the masses of the US, British, French etc. working class who have the power to end Imperialist oppression. To those the oppressed and relatives of the slaughtered in the semi-colonial world must appeal for justice. And revolutionaries in the metropolitan countries have a duty to respond to these appeals and to encourage them and to fight for the rights of the workers in Iraq, Libya, Syria etc always against Imperialist aggression whether by direct invasion of via their proxy armies from Benghazi or from the Free Syria Army.
How have the far left in Britain responded?
The SWP have taken quite a good position on the Woolwich killings: Guerrilla fighting in the Global South, and attacks in the West, won’t end as long as the West continues to wreak havoc across the world. We should respond to the anger that imperialism fuels by pointing to the role of imperialism and demanding solidarity with those who are oppressed.[8]
The Socialist Party have taken a dreadful Islamophobic pro-Imperialist position: The unprovoked, barbaric and vicious murder of an unarmed soldier in Woolwich yesterday is a horrific event which must have been profoundly traumatic for the people who witnessed it, and, of course, an appalling tragedy for the victim, and the victim’s family and friends. Local residents showed incredible bravery in intervening to try and assist the victim. The Socialist Party completely condemns this attack just as we condemned 7/7, 9/11, and all similar attacks aimed at indiscriminate slaughter.[9]
Workers Power’s statement is weak at the beginning; it should not begin with the immediate horror and its effects on the family of the victim and onlookers (Iraq’s slaughtered have families too and their citizens have seen far worse) but with its cause, which it does tackle well later in the article. In that respect the SWP article is better that theirs: This is a horrific act, committed in front of ordinary civilians, women and children. We sympathise with the family of the victim and those traumatised by witnessing such appalling scenes. But London Mayor Boris Johnson’s claim that it has nothing to do with British foreign policy and the claim that British soldiers are bravely defending us in Britain and fighting for freedom in Afghanistan is a brazen lie.[10]
As might be expected the Alliance for Workers Liberty take a clear pro-Imperialist stance. Sacha Ismail tells us that “The young men” were “supporters of violently reactionary theocratic politics”. With their single victim there are not in the same “violently reactionary” league as those who are responsible for two million war dead, he might have mentioned. And what about: For the most part, the threat posed by Islamists – whether ultras like these ones, or softer varieties – is not directed against off-duty soldiers. It is directed against women, LGBT people, atheists and secularists, dissidents and critical-minded people in Muslim-majority countries and in some Muslim communities in countries like Britain. [11]
This is just a straightforward lie. The “threat posed” to whom? To the interests of British Imperialism or to British citizens or British soldiers or are all these things the same? The entire concern of British Imperialism is the opposition to their invasions and seizures of lands and they could not give a hoot what happens to women and LGBT people and others in “Muslim-majority countries”. To bring in that in this context is to give direct propagandistic support to the war cries of the Sun and Daily Mail. And finally the direct equation of “radical Islamism and nationalist racism” as twin evils. Note that “radical Islamism” comes first in the list of dangers to us all and fascism has been prettified as “nationalist racism” because, of course it is in fact better than “Islamo-fascism”, the favourite AWL term for Fundamentalism: This is, or should be, a wakeup call for the labour movement and socialists. If we cannot build a political force in working-class communities capable of appealing to the angry and dispossessed, then reactionary ideas like radical Islamism and nationalist racism will continue to spread.[12]  Naturally there is no mention of Imperialism and its wars on North Africa and the Middle East as a possible motivation for the attack, as we would expect from such an Islamophobic pro-Imperialist group.
CND General Secretary, Kate Hudson, leading light in Stop the War and in Ken Loach’s new Left Unity project has an unequivocal national chauvinist (the safety of our troops) position: “We deplore the brutal murder of an unarmed British soldier in Woolwich yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Acts of violent retribution against individuals can never be justified as a response to the crimes of states and governments. As we have repeatedly stated since 9/11 and the engagement of our troops in the wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the best way to ensure the safety of our troops…”[13]
Lastly we will look at Lindsey German, ex-SWP leader, Stop the War and Counterfire. Her statement is all couched in what is best for British Imperialism. And she cannot even openly acknowledge that it is a normal and understandable response to the mass murders by US and British troops – just look at the italicised words below, say motivated, claimed and supposedly similarly motivated. Even US filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: “I am outraged that we can’t kill people in other countries without them trying to kill us!”[14] Who could believe a “terrorists” when they say they are opposed to Imperialism slaughtering their co-religionists in Muslim lands – they are just “nutters”?
The attack in Woolwich yesterday was horrific. There can be no justification for a murderous attack on an individual soldier in the streets of London. It must have been awful too for the local people who witnessed it… So we know what these men say motivated them. They claimed that the killing of the soldier was in response to the killing of Muslims by British soldiers in other countries. One said that the government did not care for people and should get the troops out.
The Boston bombers last month were supposedly similarly motivated. The Woolwich attack, carried out by two men now shot and wounded and under arrest in hospital, appears to represent a phenomenon that was pointed out nearly a decade ago by the security services in Britain: that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would lead to a growing threat of terrorism in Britain. Those of us in Stop the War have long predicted that these sorts of attacks would happen because of the war on terror.[15]
The rise of fascism – EDL/BN
T
he English Defence League are taking full advantage of the situation; 2,000 marched in Newcastle on 25 May, Mosques have been attacked and people racially abused. We must mobilise all our forces in opposition to this. It is telling that the UKIP leader Nigel Farage has only met serious opposition from the left in Scotland because of the serious failure of the left to combat anti-immigrant hysteria from bourgeois politicians and the mass media.
The main anti-fascist organisation in Britain is the Unite Against Fascism, a front for the Socialist Workers Party. It is a purely Popular Front-type organisation, spreading illusions in the ‘neutrality’ of the capitalist state by having the Tory Prime Minister David Cameron as one of its supporters. It is funded by the TU bureaucracy and has developed a very cosy relation with the police on anti-fascists demonstrations. In Newcastle on Saturday 25 May the Revolutionary Communist Group reported the following:
On 25 May, as the racist English Defence League (EDL) marched through Newcastle, police arrested 14 anti-fascists, detained them for up to 10 hours, and raided their homes, seizing computers and mobile phones. Seven FRFI supporters were among the detainees. They were seized half-an-hour before the counter-demonstration organised by Newcastle Unites was due to assemble. In the weeks before the EDL march, Newcastle Unites, a coalition of Labour councillors, local trade union officials and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), was determined to exclude FRFI and other militant anti-fascists from its march. Its planning meetings were held in secret and its members physically assaulted FRFI supporters to exclude them. On the day of the march, Newcastle Unites stewards colluded openly with Northumbria police to identify our comrades for arrest.[16]
These methods are in many ways the opposite side of the coin methodically to individual acts of violence against the state forces, though we will not equate misguided but heroic anti-Imperialists with police collaboration. This Popular Frontism also displays its contempt for the organised working class and its potential to overthrow capitalism by denying that fascism is a class question.
We put forward the following points for anti-fascist work as against the SWP and others internationally:
1.            We stand by Trotsky’s classical definition of Fascism; “The historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery”.
2.            Fascism has no fixed ideology of its own; it can be characterised globally as consistent reaction against the organised working class and those aspects of a state’s constitution which are publically perceived as assisting the progressive advancement of socialism or which they perceive as posing the threat of revolution including bourgeois democracy which allegedly allows socialist ideas to flourish.
3.            We defend unequivocally the traditional Marxist position of No Platform for Fascists. As Trotsky observed in Whither France, “The despairing petty bourgeois sees in fascism, above all, a fighting force against big capital, and believes that, unlike the working-class parties which deal only in words, fascism will use force to establish more ‘justice’. The peasant and the artisan are in their manner realists. They understand that one cannot forego the use of force”.
4.            Fascism depends vitally on mobilising the middles classes to crush the organised strength of the working class, Whither France again, “The petty bourgeoisie is economically dependent and politically atomized. That is why it cannot conduct an independent policy. It needs a ‘leader’ who inspires it with confidence. This individual or collective leadership, i.e., a personage or party, can be given to it by one or the other of the fundamental classes – either the big bourgeoisie or the proletariat”.
5.            The emergence of the BNP/EDL signifies that a section of the British middle class and some declassed workers have lost hope in the organised working to solve their problems and, via the medium of the fascists, are coming under the sway of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the fascists’ ultimate masters. Whither France again, “But the petty bourgeoisie can also find a leader in the proletariat. This was demonstrated in Russia and partially in Spain. In Italy, in Germany, and in Austria, the petty bourgeoisie gravitated in this direction. But the parties of the proletariat did not rise to their historic task. To bring the petty bourgeoisie to its side, the proletariat must win its confidence. And for that it must have confidence in its own strength”.
6.            The responsibility for the rise of fascism lies with the TU and Labour party leaders who have failed to fight the austerity policies of the ConDem government. By criticising “cuts too far, too fast!” they signal that they intend to make the working class bear the burden of the capitalist crisis if Labour wins office and make only a few cosmetic changes to the programme of the ConDems. They do this to defend their own privileged positions as administrators and defenders of that corrupt system.
7.            It is therefore vital to use the tactic of the United Front of the organised working class against the fascists and the reject the Popular Front as advocated by Searchlight (Use your vote, Hope not Hate) and the Socialist Workers Party (‘‘The strategy for anti-fascists is to unite the broadest possible forces against the Nazis”) which ties the working class to parliamentary democracy and even allows voting Tory, “as a last resort”, to keep the fascist out.
8.            Similarly we reject the political position of those like the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Communist Student who oppose No Platform and advocate ‘free speech for Nazis’ as a libertarian excuse to avoid the class struggle necessary to defeat fascism and the capitalist system which breeds it in its decline.
Notes
[1] In line with Trotsky’s article; For Grynszpan, Against Fascist Pogrom Gangs and Stalinist Scoundrels, (1939) http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1939/xx/grnszpan.htm
[2] Lenin was speaking of the first workers state then! Report on Foreign Policy, Joint Meeting of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Moscow Soviet May 14, 1918 Collected Works, Vol. 27.
[4] Leon Trotsky, Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism, (November 1911),http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1911/11/tia09.htm
[5] Trotsky, Leon. Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau, (July 1936).
[6] Apart from Afghanistan, already devastated by the USSR war of 1979-89 against the Mujahideen who were supported by China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US via the CIA. Estimates of the dead here vary from 850,000 to 1, 500,000.
[7] Dragstedt, A and Slaughter C, State Power & Bureaucracy, New Park 1981 p. 95
[8] Socialist Worker, The wars that fuel the rage behind Woolwich attack,http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art/33448/The+wars+that+fuel+the+rage+behind+Woolwich+attack
[9] Socialist Party, No to terrorism! No to racism! No to war! Statement from Greenwich Socialist Party on the Woolwich killing, http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16739/23-05-2013/no-to-terrorism-no-to-racism-no-to-war
[10] Workers Power, Woolwich: the War on Terror on our doorstephttp://www.workerspower.co.uk/2013/05/british-soldier-killed-woolwich-london/
[11] Ismail, Sacha. Woolwich, Islamism and the racist, authoritarian backlash,http://www.workersliberty.org/woolwich
[12] Ibid.
[13] Hudson, Kate, the Woolwich attack, http://leftunity.org/the-woolwich-attack/

Reply to Michael Pröbsting and the RCIT

What a strange but delightfully dialectical face ‘liberation’ has in Libya today! – By Gerry Downing, Socialist Fight.

The 10,800 word article by Michael Pröbsting Liberation struggles and imperialist interference in Revolutionary Communism News Newsletter of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (Rcit), No.12, 24.10.2012 deserves some consideration because it seek to defend their indefensible pro-imperialist position on Libya and attacks those who took a principled stance.[1]

However we reject the lumping together the positions of the Liaison Committee of the Fourth International with those of the ICL/Spartacists and the Internationalist Group/LFI. There are big differences; these two groups and the International Bolshevik Tendency, the third member of the ‘Spart family’, refused to defend Libya against the CIA-directed Benghazi rebels in their proxy war on Gaddafi from the outset and never took the principled orientation of the Anti-Imperialist United Front, adopting the softer and incorrect line of ‘military bloc’, as against the positions of the early Comintern under Lenin and Trotsky, which Trotsky defended until his assassination in 1940.[2]


However incorrect the label of ‘sectarian anti-imperialists’ might be for the first three groups mentioned it is at least arguable in terms of the political orientation of  the Rcit. But it is clearly a lying political amalgam to lump in the ultra-Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) with the three; their leader Harpar Brar took a totally unprincipled position of uncritical political defence of Gaddafi himself, visiting Tripoli to implicitly express contempt for the oppressed migrant workers in particular who suffered so badly under the regime and the pacts with Imperialism on the detention of immigrants bound for Europe in concentration camps in the desert, etc.

And we reject also the suggestion that we hold the position of the old WRP under Gerry Healy and the present position of the WRP under Sheila Torrance who are similarly uncritical of Gaddafi albeit in the name of the objectively unfolding world revolution which found its unconscious agents in the form of Gaddafi, Arafat, Saddam and even Khomeini and not of the two stage revolution of the Stalinists, even if that is the ultimate logic of the Healyite position.

To substitute Gaddafi for Chiang Kai-shek in Trotsky on China in 1937 the LCFI defended the “remainder of the independence of Libya” – Gaddafi was not totally controlled by Imperialism.  “The Eiffelite imbeciles try to jest about this “reservation.” “The Trotskyists,” they say, “want to serve Gaddafi in action and the proletariat in words.” To participate actively and consciously in the war does not mean “to serve Gaddafi” but to serve the independence of a (semi) colonial country in spite of Gaddafi”.[3]

This consists of a long theoretical defence of the Rcit positions, drawn from the arsenal of Workers Power, from whom they split in 2011 with little political differences, and then a defence of their stance on Libya on the ridiculous basis that the current situation is a great step forward and the ‘democratic revolution’ is powering ahead. In the course of the theoretical defence Pröbsting either junks or contemptuously belittles great principles of Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism.
 
He says, “We are anti-imperialist because we take the stance of the working class … and not the other way round” This is the position of the ‘Eiffelite imbeciles’ above. We must be anti-imperialist because Wall Street-dominated global finance capital controls all our lives. In claiming that they are taking the “stance of the working class” the Rcit mean supporting pro-imperialist workers in metropolitan countries who do not understand this, which is what all the Fifth Internationalist groupings which originated from Workers Power do. “The Bolsheviks-Communists support any real movement of the popular masses against the suppression of democratic rights” says Michael. But what is a “real movement”? As Trotsky says, “but the masses are by no means identical: there are revolutionary masses, there are passive masses, there are reactionary masses.”

Michael says, “In reality the imperialist meddling is no help for the revolutionary-democratic struggle, but threatens to undermine it. That is why we have supported progressive liberation struggles of the masses against dictatorships, but at the same time rejected sharply imperialist interventions. (e.g. the struggle of the Bosnians 1992-95, the Kosovo Albanians in 1999, the uprising against the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya in 2011).”

But your ‘rejection of Imperialist interventions’ was purely verbal, you supported it and alibied it in practice by pretending it was not happening because it was a proxy war ‘confined’ to mass bombing in Libya and there were no openly admitted ‘boots on the ground’. If fact there were thousands of Qatari troops and US and UK Special Forces operating in Libya as they are today in Syria. And note the ‘threatens to undermine’ bit. As we will see he goes on to claim that they failed in this putative endeavour and the ‘revolution’ has succeeded as a ‘partial dual power’ situation.
Michael says, “Only when the imperialist intervention is becoming the dominant feature of the political situation, revolutionaries must subordinate the democratic struggle to the fight against such an intervention.”

When will we recognise that ‘imperialist intervention is becoming the dominant feature of the political situation’? When the leadership of the movement supports it unequivocally and Imperialism supply it covertly or overtly with weapons and total political support, as in all these cases and now in Syria, we suggest.

Michael says, “Our anti-imperialism is a consequence of our fundamental position on the class struggle and not an overriding principle, which resides above the class struggle.” If anti-imperialism is not ‘an overriding principle’ it follows that there could be some pro-imperialist struggles that better serve the interests of the working class than defeating global imperialism, like defeating the local tyrant with the support of Imperialism. This is a statement of gross opportunism and a forthright rejection of fundamental Marxist positions!

And now Michael tries to portray himself as a principled Trotskyist, “Our method is that during such just democratic or national liberation struggles we are on the side of the liberation fighters (who are mostly under bourgeois or petty-bourgeois leaderships) and support their military victory. We sharply differentiate between these progressive liberation struggles and the interests of the imperialist powers. While we support the first, we totally oppose the later. Hence we Bolshevik-Communists reject any imperialist interference and call for the defeat of the imperialist forces.”

But you did none of this. The ‘liberation fighters’ were reactionary pro-imperialist and al-Qaeda forces. You therefore supported Imperialist forces and called for their victory on behalf of Imperialism in all these conflicts and now in Syria.

Michael Pröbsting directly contradicts himself
Michael says, “However Lenin and the Bolsheviks did not conclude from this that one should not support their national liberation struggle. Which conclusion did Trotsky and the Fourth International drew from the fact that the imperialist and petty-bourgeois public opinion in Western Europe and Northern America was strongly in favour of the Republican antifascist government in Spain in 1936-39 or for the national liberation struggle of the Chinese toilers under Chiang Kai-shek’s leadership against Japanese imperialism from 1937 onwards? They certainly did not succumb to the imperialist and petty-bourgeois ‘public opinion’ when they gave critical but unconditional support to the Republican antifascist government or the Chinese struggles, but pursued the independent and internationalist working class viewpoint”.

Here Michael Pröbsting directly contradicts himself. Where was the ‘critical but unconditional support’ for Libya under attack by Imperialism and its proxy armies in these conflicts and now in Syria? You directly succumbed to the imperialist and petty-bourgeois ‘public opinion’ by supporting the ‘popular’ uprising without questioning in any serious way either its pro-imperialism or anti-working class character. You ended up ‘howling along with the wolves’ because you had no ‘over-riding principles’ and postulated an impossible political formation, a pro-imperialist struggle that served the interests of the international working class! It is a monstrous insult to compare the Benghazi rebels to either the Chinese Trotskyists of the 1930s [4] or even the later Maoists or the Spanish Trotskyists [5] or the ranks of the POUM [6] and anarchists [7]in Spain in 1936-9.

And now Michael repudiates another central tenet of Marxism, “Marxists must not start from the consideration: “How can we as revolutionaries fighting in Western imperialist countries best oppose the pressure of ‘our’ bourgeoisie.”

Oh but we must start from there if we are in an Imperialist country! That did seem to be good enough for Karl Liebknecht in his famous 1915 pamphlet, The main enemy is at home. It has become part of the arsenal of every serious Marxist since he wrote, “The main enemy of every people is in their own country! The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy. This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries whose struggle is against their own imperialists.”

And why must we reject internationalism in favour of national chauvinism according to Michael? “This is one-sided and thus opens the door to serious mistakes. It would be anti-imperialism for fools. One must start thinking from the viewpoint “what is the independent class policy in the interest of the international working class and the oppressed people”. This is the ‘Eiffelite imbeciles’ third campist line yet again. We cannot EVER have a pro-imperialist movement that serves the interests of the international working class. Anti-imperialism must be in the DNA of ever serious Marxist on the planet, only thus can you serve the interests of the international proletariat.
Michael says, “The Libyan and the Syrian Revolution in 2011 also started as a democratic revolution as part of the Arab revolutions against the bourgeois dictatorships. So, contrary to interpretation of the sectarians, these civil wars started not as a conspiracy of imperialism – they were authentic liberation struggles of the workers and peasants.”

You can argue that there were uprisings for democratic rights (not ‘democratic revolutions’) in Tunisia, Egypt, the Yemen, Bahrain and even Syria but not in Libya. From the start the Libyan uprising was organised and orchestrated by pro-imperialist forces and CIA agents. There was never anything progressive or liberating about this Benghazi uprising except in the minds of a few deluded workers and peasants. The immediate lynchings of black workers gave the lie to that; this was an imperialist intervention to seize control of the ‘Arab Spring’ which they did all too successfully. In Syria there were some progressive aspects to the uprisings but Imperialist-sponsored forces quickly seized control and now have an iron grip on the opposition to Assad.

Succinctly Paul Wolfowitz [8] countered every word of the Rcit on Newsnight on 24 October when he was outlining how to bring the ‘revolution’ to victory in Syria and he said ‘Libya is very pro-Western now’! That goes straight to the heart of the issues. All principled anti-Imperialists and those concerned to forward the class consciousness of the international proletariat seek their defeat and the victory of Assad against them. They do so in order to prepare for the building of a principled anti-imperialist internationalist Trotskyist section of the Fourth International there.

Michael says, “One has to concretely analyze if a given democratic or national liberation struggle becomes fully subordinated to the imperialist manoeuvres and doesn’t possess any significant internal dynamic of a workers and peasant liberation struggle. If this is the case, Marxists must change their position and give up critical support for the national liberation struggle.”

Did not Imperialism get exactly what it wanted?
And that did not happen in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya and Syria? Did not Imperialism get exactly what it wanted in the first three? Kosovo is practically a US colony run by mafia gangsters, Bosnia is little better and just look at the state to which your ‘revolution’ has reduced Libya! And a similar if not worse fate is looming for Syria. Just how bad does your ‘revolution’ have to get before you give up on it? Workers Power has never repudiated their support for the KLA and the Rcit is stuck with it too.[9]

Michael writes: “Such complications, amalgamations of different and contradictory interests in a given military conflict are likely to increase in the future. Why? Because of the increasing rivalry between imperialist power… Unfortunately this aspect is completely ignored by many sectarians who fail to recognize that in addition to the old imperialist power – in North America, Western Europe and Japan – there are also new, emerging imperialist powers, in particular Russia and China.”
There may be new Imperialist powers but it wrong to equate them like this. Now the dominant, war mongering imperialist forces on behalf of global finance capital are led by the USA and it is therefore correct for nations like Syria to get whatever assistance they can from Iran, China and Russia. Libya and Syria in particular getting support Russia and China is not to be equated with opposition forces who are the cat’s paw for the interests of this imperialist finance capital, centrally based in Wall Street. Syria is now attempting to defend what it left of its own right to self determination.

Of course if a direct imperialist war were to break out say between a US-dominated bloc and a Russia-China-German bloc then the dual defeatist tactic would be mandatory. With proper support for national liberation struggles that might break out during the course of the war, even if supported by one side or the other etc. Michael writes, “All this in addition to the well-known murderous suppression of the slightest sign of resistance of the Libyan people.”

The ‘Libya people’ would include CIA agents, those hired and bribed by them and those who had a desire to become the agents of Imperialist finance capital when it took over, not to mention the al-Qaeda fundamentalists who wanted to impose Sharia law and restore the oppression of women and agreed to be temporary allies of the USA, in an analogous to the duty of Marxists to be temporary allies of Gaddafi against Imperialist attack.  And now in the silliest and most indefensible part of the whole document, Michael writes, “Are the workers and youth today in a better or in a worse position than under the Gaddafi dictatorship?” Only a very naïve man would ask such a question and be surprised at getting the opposite answer to the one he expected. Consider the following quote, “The giveaway of Libya’s oil, the principal objective of the NATO powers, is no small matter. Libya’s oil was privatized in short order, with contracts allotted according to the number of bombing runs each country had made—France on behalf of Total, Spain on behalf of Repsol, Italy on behalf of Eni, England on behalf of BP and the U.S. on behalf of Marathon, Hess and ConocoPhillips. This will have the effect of reducing revenues to the new government, which will have to fill the funding gap by cutting social spending to the bone and taking out loans from the international financial institutions, like every other neoliberal state.

This is not to say that sectors of the Libyan population (or the Syrian or Iranian population for that matter) don’t have legitimate grievances against their nationalist dictatorships. However, when their countries are targeted for regime change by foreign transnational capital and their own emerging domestic transnational capitalist class, any military alliance that government opponents make with these globalizing interests is an act of treason against their own people. This is a global class war and the United States and other NATO powers represent the interests of the transnational capitalist class, not the Libyan working class.”[10]

It is of prime importance to note that nowhere does Michael or the Rcit oppose the recolonisation of Libya and the oil grab of the western companies. He did find space to attack Gaddafi’s lesser capitulation to Imperialism but the total prostration of the rebels as described above is a total irrelevancy in his eyes.

A partial dual power situation indeed!
He then goes on: The sectarian “anti-imperialists” claim that in Libya the counter-revolution – i.e. NATO imperialism and its agents, the supposedly “racist” rebels – has won the civil war. Consequently they consider the outcome as a defeat for the working class. We on the other hand think that the Libyan Revolution ended in a partial victory for the working class and the oppressed because it defeated the bourgeois-bonapartist Gaddafi regime. True, the bourgeois, pro-imperialist leadership around the TNC tries to hijack this unfinished democratic revolution and turn it into a democratic counterrevolution. However this process is far from completed. What we have today in post-Gaddafi Libya is a crisis-ridden regime which is divided by various factions. It is divided not only by power struggles but also – and to a large degree because of – the pressure of the masses. What we have today in Libya is a partial dual power situation. What constitutes this partial dual power situation?

This must be the most farcical paragraph in the whole document. A partial dual power situation indeed! The phrase was first used by the Bolsheviks to describe the situation in Russia after the February revolution of 1917 where massive workers councils (Soviets) effectively controlled the country, vying for power with the government itself. Eventually the Soviets abolished parliamentary democracy and instituted the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ in which the working class ruled. This was replaced by the dictatorship of the bureaucracy under Stalin in about 1924. Maybe if he wrote a ‘potentially partial dual power situation’ we might get far enough away from reality to fail to notice that the working class has not got an ounce of influence here and only ‘dual power’ operating  is between the al-Qaeda fundamentalist militias and the pro-US forces.

Michael takes his information on Libya from Carlos Munzer and the Democratica Obrera. His claims for the revolution in Libya are hot air; we would recommend double-checking it all. However we must confess a lack of knowledge of the working class forces on the ground in Libya. If they are reviving as suggested by Munzer then intervention is clearly called fro to turn them against the pro-Imperialist influences they are under. Even if strikes are underway as he claims and “The workers have formed new trade unions and are organizing themselves in rank and file structures. They have more rights and power than under the Gaddafi regime.” Them these are pro-Imperialist organisations.

See for example his position on Syria where the main enemy is Assad, and Russian and Chinese Imperialism. There is absolutely no opposition to the US, the EU, Turkey, the Saudis or the Qataris. “In Greece and the whole Europe, it is necessary to paralyze all the ports and ships that transport weaponry and food to murderous al Assad, and instead ship food and weaponry for the heroic Syrian resistance! The Russian and Chinese working class has to revolt against the assassins Putin and Hu Jintao just now! It is urgent to stop the counterrevolutionary war machine of Putin and Hu Jintao’s that are arming to the teeth genocidal al Assad! It is urgent to send weapons, equipment and food to the masses that are fighting in Homs, Damascus, etc.!”

Revolutionary Combatants of the Libyan Militia; Internationalist Volunteer Workers Committee; Adhering: Fracción Leninista Trotskista Internacional http://www.democraciaobrera.org/pag_ingles/mediooriente/2012/carta_tunez_ delibia042012.html Maggie Michael of Associated Press tells us exactly what kind of ‘masses’ these are: “Some 30,000 people filled a broad boulevard as they marched along a lake in central Benghazi on Friday to the gates of the headquarters of Ansar al-Shariah. They carried banners and signs demanding that militias disband and that the government build up police to take their place in keeping security. “Benghazi is in a trap,” signs read. “Where is the army, where is the police. Other signs mourned the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, reading, “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya lost a friend.” Military helicopters and fighter jets flew overhead, and police mingled in the crowd, buoyed by the support of the protesters”.[11]

And so the last hope for the revolution is… Ansar al-Shariah! They will just have to substitute for the Bolsheviks! What a strange but delightfully dialectical face ‘liberation’ has in Libya today! Sound just like the days before the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917 Russia, does it not?

As we write this the town of Bani Walid is under siege. According to the Inter Press Service News Agency pro-government armed militias were trying to indiscriminately kill large numbers of people in Bani Walid, because of its history of support for Gaddafi. Amnesty International says many continue to be detained without being charged or put on trial across Libya, and have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. The International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) says Libya holds the highest number of prisoners held without trial in the world at nearly 89 percent. Foreign prisoners, many of them from sub-Saharan Africa, account for nearly 15 percent of Libya’s prison population, and women for just over 2 percent. Nasseer Al Hammary, a researcher with the Libyan Observatory for Human Rights said that the human rights situation in Libya now was far worse than under Gaddafi.[12]
So the working class in Libya are on the brink of seizing power are they? Some ‘unfinished revolution’ with ‘partial dual power’ comrades of the Rcit!

Endnotes
[1] The Rcit statement is here: http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/liberation-struggle-and-imperialism/#ds

[2] See Stuart King, The anti-imperialist united front: a debate with the GOR,  30/03/1986 – “Clearly here Trotsky does not limit the united front only to questions of ‘military blocs’ against the imperialists or the Warlords. Indeed such a position makes a non-Marxist division between ‘politics’ and ‘war’-“war is the continuation of politics by other means”.” King and the whole Workers Power family have now repudiated these correct positions because of their need to defend their unprincipled position on Libya. http://www.fifthinternational.org/content/anti-imperialist-united-front-debate-gor

[3] We invite readers to check the LCFI statement itself on page 36 and the article on page 14 to see that the equation of the LRCI position with that of the ‘Spart family’ and CPGB (ML) is totally unfounded. http://www.scribd.com/doc/53607829/SocialistFightNo6-123

[4] See Interviews with Wang Fanxi by Gregor Benton, “Wang repeats what he has described elsewhere, that is, that the position taken by their group — and by Trotsky — was not one of ‘revolutionary defeatism’. The stated aim was to ‘transform the war against the foreign invaders into a revolution to replace the leadership of the resistance war and thereby to assure the victory of the war against the foreign invader…’ This policy… was in line with Trotsky’s declaration that the workers’ organisations had to ‘participate actively and in the front lines of the present war against Japan’. But because Chiang Kai-Shek could not assure a victory over the Japanese, the Trotskyists had to win prestige in the military struggle and the political struggle against the deficiencies and betrayals of the Guomindang.” http://revolutionaryhistory.co.uk/book-reviews/books/reviews/chinese-trotskyism.htm.

[5] See Felix Morrow, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain, New Park Publications, £1.25 / 75p. Earnest Mandel writes, “Felix Morrow’s Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain remains the best Marxist analysis of the Spanish revolution of 1936-37 and its tragic ending. Other works, written since and drawing upon extensive new source material, give a more detailed account of the events and struggles (social and political) which marked these dramatic years, and of those which led up to them. But none are equal, leave alone superior, to Morrow in their analysis of the basic class forces at work, the inevitable clash between them and the outcome of the contest, decided by the lack of revolutionary leadership or clear political consciousness on the part of the toiling masses. http://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1974/xx/morrow.htm

[6] The Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (Spanish: Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, POUM; Catalan: Partit Obrer d’Unificació Marxista) was a Spanish communist political party formed during the Second Republic and mainly active around the Spanish Civil War. It was formed by the fusion of the Trotskyist Communist Left of Spain (Izquierda Comunista de España, ICE) and the Workers and Peasants’ Bloc (BOC, affiliated with the Right Opposition) against the will of Leon Trotsky, with whom the former broke. (wiki)

[7] Anarchists played a central role in the fight against Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. At the same time, a far-reaching social revolution spread throughout Spain, where land and factories were collectivized and controlled by the workers. All remaining social reforms ended in 1939 with the victory of Franco, who had thousands of anarchists executed. Resistance to his rule never entirely died, with resilient militants participating in acts of sabotage and other direct action after the war, and making several attempts on the ruler’s life. Their legacy remains important to this day,

particularly to anarchists who look at their achievements as a historical precedent of anarchism’s validity. (wiki)

[8] Paul Dundes Wolfowitz (born December 22, 1943) is a former United States Ambassador to Indonesia, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, President of the World Bank, and former dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, working on issues of international economic development, Africa and public-private partnerships, and chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council. He is a leading neoconservative. As Deputy Secretary of Defense, he was “a major architect of President Bush’s Iraq policy and … its most hawkish advocate.”(wiki). In fact one of Imperialism’s most important theoreticians.

[9] See Kosovo’s “Mafia State” and Camp Bondsteel: Towards a permanent US military presence in southeast Europe April 14, 2012 By F.William Engdahl. “Hashim Thaci the current Kosovo Prime Minister, got his job, so to speak, through the US State Department”. According to The Guardian, Tuesday 14 December 2010, Hashim Thaçi is identified as the boss of a network that began operating criminal rackets in the runup to the 1998-99 Kosovo war, and has held powerful sway over the country’s government since. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/14/kosovo-prime-minister-llike-mafia-boss.

[10] Libya Worse Off After NATO Takeover, June 26, 2012, http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=1043

[12] The abuse and mistreatment of prisoners in detention centres around the country, many of them run by militias, is an ongoing problem. http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/10/shadow-fighting-erupts-over-gaddafi.

May Day Greetings from the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International to The VOAG.

The Liaison Committee for the Fourth International sends its
warmest revolutionary greetings to The VOAG and the world’s working class, the poor and oppressed and in particular to its fighting vanguard- those most class-conscious elements- who have now begun to emerge on a global scale to fight its cause under the banner of the world revolution, so shamelessly abandoned by so many international groups claiming the name of Trotskyism.
 

Since the uprising on 15 February, 2011 in Benghazi, the ‘Libyan revolution’
has
been the touchstone for revolutionaries worldwide. The mass media
supplied us
with a great deal of lying propaganda, lies that the
majority of left groups
would have had no trouble exposing in an earlier period, as
with Iraq,
for example, but they did not try.

They did not find and expose the racism of the ‘rebels’, their lynchings and
summary executions of black people on the pretext they were all “Gaddafi’s
mercenaries from Chad”. They could not expose the CIA connections and obvious
pro-imperialism of the Transitional National Council, and even those who were
eventually forced to acknowledged this told us that there was a ‘real
revolution’ in the ranks of the ‘rebels’, pointing to the sole pathetic piece of
‘evidence’, the very sophisticated banner that opposed intervention with six
people around it, undoubtedly flown in from CIA headquarters in Langley,
Virginia to fool the gullible and those who wanted to be fooled.

Of course the LCFI recognises that Gaddafi was no
revolutionary socialist, he was a bourgeois nationalist who ruled with a
corrupt clique of capitalist backers, whose main aim was the preservation of
the privileges of that group. He assisted Imperialism by supplying weapons to
Southern Sudan to divide the country to enable the US to seize the oil
resources then controlled by China. In return Omar al-Bashir (whom Gaddafi
assisted to come to power in the 1986 coup) was the foremost backer of the
rebels in Benghazi, secretly supplying weapons and other assistance to overthrow
Gaddafi, totally consistent with the completely unprincipled character of the
national bourgeoisie.

Those on the ‘left’ who wish to assist in the overthrow of
Assad in Syria, (and they are generally the same culprits) can point to similar examples
of treachery, and the favours Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad performed
for Israel and the US in Lebanon, intervening to prevent the defeat of the Falangists
(Christian fascist forces), when the alliance between Lebanon’s leftists and
Palestinians were on the brink of victory during the Civil War in 1976.

As with the policy of the United Front of working class
parties, the LCFI champions the Anti-Imperialist United Front tactic as developed by
Lenin and the Comintern in its first four Congresses. Just because the
semi-colonial world is terrorised by a brutal dictator, it does not mean that they
are the main enemy of the world’s working class and oppressed. That epithet
belongs to Imperialism and global finance capital, and to it alone in all wars and
conflicts.

A defeat for Imperialism has always two great progressive
consequences. The strengthening of the class consciousness of the workers and poor
in the oppressed nation under Imperialist attack; and far more importantly in the
global balance of class forces, the dashing of illusions in the working class
of the imperialist country in their ‘own’ bourgeoisie, as the defeat of US Imperialism
in Vietnam showed.

As with the international class struggle, so with the national.
You cannot fight for Imperialism in its foreign wars whilst consistently
seeking its overthrow at home. Domestically, the first line of Trotsky’s
Transitional Programme, “The world political situation
as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of the leadership of
the proletariat” is as true today as when written in 1938. Every refugee from the
fight to build the world party of socialist revolution must deny the truth of
that proposition. Every refugee from the class struggle blames the working
class for its lack of combativity and its inability to lead itself, and thereby defends
the class treachery of the trade union bureaucracy and their political
representatives in parliament.

Trotsky said the British Trades Union leaders were the “backbone of British
Imperialism”.
This is true of every national TU bureaucracy, from the British TUC
to COSATU in South Africa. Without for a single moment neglecting our
internationalist duties, our main task today in our own class struggle is to
fight and pose alternatives to these treacherous misleaders. The building of rank
and file movements in the trade unions, the placing of demands on all those who
claim leadership of the working class, the relentless exposing of the centrists
who defend the left Trade Union bureaucrats is our central task in the class struggle.

As the Transitional Programme says: “In the struggle for partial and transitional demands, the workers now more than ever before need mass organizations, principally trade unions. The powerful growth of trade unionism in France and the United States is the best refutation of the preachments of those ultra-left doctrinaires who have been teaching that trade unions have “outlived their usefulness.”

We therefore reject totally any suggestions that the trade
unions have become simple agents of the capitalist state; that Trotsky’s
Transitional Programme no longer applies in 2012, that we must seek to build
our own sect in isolation from the mass struggles of the working class.
We are as confident as ever that with a correct orientation to Imperialism
internationally,
and to the class struggle domestically based on irreconcilable
opposition to the TU bureaucracy, our small international current will

undoubtedly find the ear of the resurgent vanguard of the international working class.

·  Defeat World Imperialism, finance capital and its agents in Syria and in every war!
·  The Malvinas are part of Argentinean national territory, defeat British Imperialism!
·  No reliance on Bourgeois nationalist leaders, even of the left variety like Chavez!
·  Only the International Working class can defeat Global Imperialism!
·  Build the World Party of Socialist Revolution!
·  Forward to the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International! 
Liga Comunista—Brasil
Tendencia Militante Bolchevique—Argentina
Socialist Fight—Britain
1 May 2012

International petty-bourgeois “left” backs imperialist war in Syria

By Alejandro López. 13 February 2012
A series of petty-bourgeois “left” parties and personalities from Spain, Tunisia, Latin America, and beyond recently issued a Spanish-language manifesto on Syria on the web site Rebelion, titled “To the People of Syria who are Fighting Tyranny”.

These signatories include leading members the Anti-capitalist Left (IA) in Spain, the Worker Communist Party of Tunisia (PCOT), Brazil’s Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), Argentina’s Socialist Left (IS), and similar forces in Mexico, Chile, Turkey, and other countries. (See http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=143778  for the full list of signatories.)

The statement exposes the organizations and individuals issuing this statement as tools of imperialism. Their statement gives total support to US-backed “opposition” groups now involved in an armed civil war and destabilization campaign in Syria, which it tries to treat as representing the entire Syrian people—even though it is well known that large sections of the Syrian population are hostile to the US-backed insurgency. Their goal is to give a “left” cover to plans by the US, the European powers, and the Arab League regimes for military intervention to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The statement begins, “Ten months ago, you, the people of Syria, rose up against the brutal dictatorship led by Bashar Al-Assad, resulting in countless martyrs, prisoners and refugees. We want you to know that we are by your side … We are also aware that the rich, powerful nations have ignored you by turning a blind eye while the killings by the regime continue, but keep in mind that there are many of us all over the world who are with you and reject the policy of collaboration that those imperial powers and their governments provide to the Bashar regime.”

This version of events stands reality on its head. The imperialist powers and their Arab proxies are not supporting the Assad regime; they have reportedly brought resolutions denouncing Assad and pressing for foreign intervention in Syria at the United Nations and the Arab League. They are widely reported to be providing arms and training to Syrian armed “opposition” groups, who are carrying out attacks and bombings against the Syrian government.

Turkey has provided a base near the border for training Syrian insurgents and is discussing with its NATO allies the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Syrian territory. The Western media has widely reported that Turkey and France are providing arms and aid to these forces, resulting in more bloodshed and stoking up a civil war (See: “France’s New Anti-Capitalist Party backs imperialist intervention in Syria”).

They are using the same strategy as in last year’s NATO war against Libya. There the overthrow of Gaddafi by NATO was accomplished with the help of Libyan proxy forces on the ground, the National Transitional Council of Libya, dominated by Islamist fighters and funded and armed by US regional allies. The NATO war cost at least 80,000 casualties, by the NTC’s own estimates.

The Syrian version of the NTC is the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Free Syrian Army, which are backed by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and supported by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The statement’s initial remark only begs the question: if the signatories of the manifesto are criticizing the imperialist powers for not acting aggressively enough against Assad, what more do they want? What else can they be advocating except an open and direct military intervention by the US and its allies to support its Syrian proxies, along the lines of the war in Libya?
The signatories of this manifesto are aware of the consequences of imperialist intervention. Indeed, many of them openly embraced imperialist intervention in Libya, sometimes making cynical and ineffectual attempts to present NATO’s overthrow and murder of Gaddafi in Libya as a defeat for imperialism.
In a press statement last August, Liliana Olivero (deputy for Córdoba), Angélica Lagunas, Jose Castillo and Juan Carlos Giordano of Izquierda Socialista (Socialist Left) in Argentina stated that “the imminent fall of the dictatorship of Gaddafi is a victory for the Libyan people … it is not a triumph of NATO as attributed by itself by Obama and European imperialism. They only made limited bombings to try to prevent a victory by the militia and seek a negotiated solution that would allow them to defend their oil business.”
Exactly one year ago, Esther Vivas and Josep Maria Antentas of Spain’s IA openly advocated “the political and economic international isolation of the [Libyan] regime, and the unconditional supply of weapons to the rebels.”
Pedro Fuentes, the secretary of foreign relations of PSOL, declared last May in the Mexican daily La Jornada: “What the rebels want and need are weapons and humanitarian aid … The supposed neutrality of the Brazilian government ends up being a totally ambiguous and hypocritical policy oflaissez-faire for Gaddafi and the imperialist countries. The only correct alternative would be to recognize the rebel government as a belligerent force and support them in every way possible and responding positively to what they ask. Meanwhile, the position socialists and anti-imperialists have to defend is, while recognizing and denouncing the goals of imperialist intervention, is by all means continue to support the overthrow Gaddafi.”
That is to say, that pro-imperialist politicians like Fuentes had to support NATO’s campaign to conquer Libya, while issuing empty criticisms of imperialism in order to deceitfully hide their role as unabashed defenders of imperialist war.
These scoundrels are repeating the same arguments now with Syria, even though the reactionary consequences of imperialist intervention in Libya are clear for all to see. The war led to whole cities being bombed to the ground, tens of thousands of casualties, racist pogroms against dark skinned people, and large-scale use of torture; Western oil companies now control Libyan oil fields and an Islamist proxy regime rules Libya.
The manifesto goes on to attack a “sector of the anti-imperialist left,” whom it accuses of “turning its back on the revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar.” This is nothing more than a preemptive strike against anyone who criticizes the imperialist intervention, by branding them as a defender of Assad.
The manifesto goes on to cynically cite the Assad regime’s reactionary role in repressing the “Palestinians in the refugee camp massacres of Tal Zaatar in 1976” and cooperating “with Israel in securing its borders.” That is, it is citing the Syrian bourgeoisie’s dealings with imperialism and Zionism to suppress the Palestinian people, in order to stimulate hostility to the Assad regime, now that Assad himself is the target of the imperialists. This remark is deeply misleading and reactionary. Its aim is not to oppose imperialist and Zionist oppression of the Palestinians, but to support imperialist war against Assad.
The manifesto continues: “Western powers only stand to gain in this situation and nothing good will come out of the American Empire and Western governments … do not trust them, the only thing they want is to rob the wealth taking it from the workers, the peoples of America, Africa and Asia, in the same way they did with their bombings in Iraq and in Libya and how they are doing now in Egypt, supporting the criminal military junta.”
The logical question to then ask is: if the signatories of the manifesto don’t trust the imperialists, why did they support the Libyan NTC, and why are they now supporting the imperialist-backed SFA to defeat Assad? Why are they treating the SNC as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian working class, instead of warning the Syrian workers of the role of the SFA and demanding a struggle of the working class against both the pro-imperialist forces and Assad?
The manifesto does not and cannot address this question, because it leads to only one conclusion: the manifesto’s authors are pro-imperialist forces, whose “left” verbiage is only a political fig leaf to hide their right-wing politics.
We must insist that Assad must be overthrown, but this task belongs only to the Syrian working class as part of a struggle of the entire Arab and international working class, directed first and foremost against imperialism. In that struggle, the working class will find that the signatories of the manifesto published in Rebelion are its bitter enemies.