Thursday, 17 March 2011

Where Failure To Oppose Imperialist Intervention Leads You

In my blog post, a few days ago, The Politics Of Pontius Pilate, I discussed the abstentionist position of the AWL in relation to Imperialist intervention.
It examined how that was being applied by the AWL in relation to Libya, in their article Yes To Libya, Not No To USA.

The main things wrong with their position are:

1. They provide uncritical support for the Libyan "rebels" without anywhere providing any analysis of exactly who these rebels are, or what they stand for other than that they are "anti-Gaddafi", which now seems good enough for the AWL to give their support to some group!
So we have no idea of knowing whether, in fact, such support will simply hand over the workers to an even worse fate than Gaddafi.

2. They fail to oppose intervention by the US or other big powers, and the basis on which they do so, is to mislead workers into the beleif that such intervention would be in some sense "impartial".
The basic responsibility of Marxists is to demonstrate to workers that the Capitalist State is NOT neutral, but acts on behalf of the Capitalists. For that reasons, we should not in any way act or fail to act in a way, which leads the workers to beleive otherwise.

3. Socialism cannot be achieved other than by the self-activity, and self-government of the working-class. As Marx set out in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, and many other writings, in providing solutions for the working-class, we focus on precisely that point.
The solutions we propose are solutions that the workers themselves create and impose, they are solutions which require the workers not only mobilising, but mobilising in such a way that they create their own new organisations and forms, which provide an immediate solution to the particular problem. They occupy a workplace threatened with closure as a first step in taking it over, and running it as a Co-operative, for instance. They mobilise to oppose fascist attacks, or attacks by the Police on their community, or attacks by thugs employed by bosses to break strikes, and having mobilised they do not limit themselves to that mobilisation, but develop out of it, Defence Squads, Militia, Democratic forms such as Factory Committees, or Neighbourhood Committees that do not demand rights from the bosses State, but take them.
As Marx and Engels put it in the Communist Manifesto, the demands we raise are ones which not only provide the workers with an immediate and practical solution to their problems of today, but also take care of the movement of tomorrow, by building new workers power in society - new workers' property, new forms of workers' democracy, and new elements of an emergent Workers' State.

But, as usual, there is nothing in the AWL position of this basic Marxism.
They see no role for the working-class in relation to Libya outside some elementary Trade Union politics, basic Economism, and pressure group politics on "Democratic Imperialism".

4. The argument used by the AWL to justify failing to oppose Imperialist intervention would have applied perfectly to Imperialist intervention against the Bolsheviks in 1917.
At that time, the Bolsheviks had not only come to power by means of an armed insurrection, but had been decisively beaten in a Popular Democratic Election. The Bolsheviks had responded to their electoral defeat by using armed power to shut down the Assembly. Faced with opposition centres of power throughout Russia, just as Gaddafi faces such opposition centres today, they again responded by unleashing the greatest military might they could assemble against those opposition centres, and with a brutal reign of Terror, via a secret police under the leadership of Stalin, which ruthlessly rounded up opposition leaders and shot them.
A humanitarian crisis erupted, in which the economy collapsed, and all of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse stalked the land - War, Famine, Pestilence and Disease. Tens of thousands were dying as a result of this disaster, and thousands of workers left the starvation in the cities, in order to try to find food back in their villages.
It makes what is happening in Libya appear trivial. On the AWL's argument, there would have been no basis for them to have opposed Imperialist intervention against such an illegitimate Government, under such conditions.

In the debate on that initial article on their site, just where this kind of politics leads can be seen. Having begun by saying,

"Their history and their nature mandates an attitude of complete distrust to the US and British military."

The AWL, within the article itself began to show anything but complete distrust. They began to talk about why it was unlikely, actually that the US would intervene in Libya in any other form but the institution of a no fly zone.
In actual, fact, as I said at the time, and as anyone who watched TV knew, it was clear that it was impossible to impose a no fly zone without military action on a much larger scale. One of the US Military's top representatives had himself said that a No Fly Zone would constitute, a classic Declaration of War. The US Military had said that it would have to begin by bombing Libyan Air Defences, and anyone who knows anything about such military action knows that it begins with the insertion of Special Forces, who act as spotters, who laser tag those targets.

But, it was also obvious that, in fact, a No Fly Zone would be ineffective, because Gaddafi's forces are rolling Eastwards by land not by air.
As UK Ambassador, Christopher Meyer, said on TV a few days ago, if action were to be taken it would have to be much tougher including bombing Gaddafi's forces and so on. In the debate on their website over the last few days, the AWL have gone from telling us that we should have complete distrust for the US, to spending much of their time, expanding this argument about why the US either would not intervene at all, or else would have no desire to intervene other than in the form of a no fly zone. In other words they effectively turned themselves into mouthpieces of the US State.

But, Imperialism is never thankful for those who sometimes represent its interests - just ask Saddam Hussein. In fact, the US has now put a resolution to the UN, calling not just for a No Fly Zone, but for any measures necessary to remove Gaddafi.
In other words we have gone from Humanitarian Assistance to Regime Change in just a few days. That is precisely why Marxists should be clear in their opposition to intervention by powerful states. The AWL, may now make one of their famous zig-zags, swinging wildly from one position to another, swept along like so much flotsam on the sea of history, as they scramble to accommodate to the very situation they have spent a week arguing was not going to happen. But, not only will that further diminsh any credibility they have, but it will also mean that the argument they then try to make in opposing such intervention will be weakened, because as Meyer, himself has pointed out, if what you really want is "humanitarian relief", then logically you should argue for what will bring that about, not something that will not!

But, in truth, in any such wider intervention, the AWL have no idea WHO will be getting support against Gaddafi. The one thing we can say for sure is that it most certainly will not be revolutionary workers! A couple of years ago, the AWL said they had learned their lesson from supporting the anti-Shah forces in Iran in 1979, and their failure to warn against Khomeini.
But, clearly they have not, because it is just as likely that some clerical-fascist force could be the main beneficiary of such intervention in Libya!

According, to Channel Four's Lindsey Hilsum, reporting from Bahrain, Obama rang the King of Bahrain on Tuesday asking him to pull back the troops and tone down the attacks on protesters.
The King refused in no uncertain terms. It seems, she said, that the US requested support from the Arab League, and from the Gulf Co-operation Council for action against Gaddafi, before it would make such a move. The quid pro quo was that the US has to keep out of the affairs of the Gulf regimes as they unleash their own military forces against the peoples of their own countries.
And, as I have suggested previously, that applies to the Bonapartist regime in Egypt too. In recent days, it has been having negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood, and is introducing proposals to define who can be considered an Egyptian in order to have the right to vote.
The stringent controls, which mimic some of those put forward by the BNP to define "British", will according to a spokesman on Aljazeera disenfranchise many of the new Middle Class in Egypt, i.e. precisely those forces that were out in Tahrir Square demanding democratic reform.

The job of Marxists is to look after the interests of the working-class, not just in one country, but as a whole, not just for now, but for the future. We can only do that, by at all times inisisting upon the independence of the workers from all other class forces, by insisting that it is only the solidarity, and collective action of the working-class that can be relied upon to provide solutions for workers. A failure to do that even by ommission, and the suggestion that workers can rely on other class forces to fight their battles is a betrayal of the principles of Marxism. The consequences of not opposing the intervention of the big powers in Libya, could well be the rolling back of the democratic revolution throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The AWL seems to be oblivious to the possibility of Islamist forces lurking in the Libyan opposition, just as they were oblivious to their very real presence in the Balkans during the Yugoslav collapse. Compare this with their keen nose for the tiniest whiff of Islamism elsewhere.

Dr Paul