Thursday, 3 November 2011

AWL Dig Bigger Hole

The other day, I pointed out that the contradictions in the AWL's politics, in relation to Libya, had led them to disown one of the main planks of their politics.  In order to argue against the position of Seamus Milne, Paul Hampton was led to adopt the position of the "idiot anti-imperialists" to effectively deny that Libya had any meaningful independence under Gaddafi.

Now, the AWL's very own "Beloved Leader", Sean Matgamna, has picked up his shovel, in order to dig that particular hole deeper still.  The AWL posted the lyrics of a song by Attila The Stockbroker - Mission Creep.  I can't say I was impressed either by the song, or the politics behind it, which in part laud Chavez and Castro.  However, it is Matgamna's reply, which attempts to square the circle of the AWL's support for the Jihadists in Libya that is most striking.

Matgamna writes, in response to the fact that a large part of the rebels was made up of such Jihadists,

"Is the NTC led by unsavoury elements? Yes. Are Islamists involved in the revolution? Yes. But what do you expect? If you wanted to wait indefinitely for a revolution that was spontaneously socialist, in a country with no freedom of speech, no kind of independent labour movement, no civil society - you'd be waiting a long time."

This is in stark contrast to the argument the AWL usually make.  It is in fact, the argument that the SWP, and other "idiot anti-imperialists" usually make to justify their support for those very Islamists such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the "insurgency" in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and, of course, the Khomeiniites in Iran.  It is an argument that the AWL have made a profession out of opposing in the most strident terms for years.  Now, in order to defend the position they have taken on Libya, they are forced to adopt the very argument they have spent years, considerable effort, and many pages of their paper attacking!!!

Of course, this is par for the course for the AWL.  They are Stalinists.  They have no shame in zig-zagging from one position to its opposite, from one event to another, and doing so whilst pretending that no change has occurred in their position.  The unassailable position of the gerontacratic bureaucracy, which leads the organisation is able to get away with such behaviour, because the, largely, young membership are not in a position to challenge them, and the tribal, bunker mentality the organisation builds up, leads them to defend it against external criticism.  The leadership, as with all other such sects, has been in power for almost 50 years, longer than any of the other Dictators that headed up the Stalinist regimes.  Its no wonder that, having become so ossified in their privileged positions, they see themselves, like the Pope, as being infallibe, and demand unwavering faith from their flock.  When any kind of meaningful opposition within the organisation does arise, as happened with David Broder and the Minority over Iraq, it is suppressed.  It is precisely, the kind of behaviour, of this kind of organisation, that Trotsky described, when he analysed Stalinism as Bureaucratic Centrism.

If we take the "Beloved Leader's" argument here, we can apply it to those other situations, and see how the AWL's position varied and continues to vary from it.

For, example, should we not then "expect", as the "idiot-anti-imperialists" do, that the response of Palestinians to the oppression they suffer from the powerful Israeli State, which is just as brutal in denying them of basic democratic rights as was Gaddafi against Libyans, would be to throw up a resistance that was not "spontaneously socialist", and that, therefore, we should not "wait a long time", for that to happen, but should instead give support to the "revolutionary" movement as it is, led by Hamas???

Or what about Lebanon, which too has the same history of oppression, by that Israeli State, including several invasions and occupations?  It has also suffered at the hands of its own Fascist regimes, and internal repression.  Should we then again, not "expect" that here too, a less than "socialist" response should be one that arises as the "revolutionary" expression of opposition.  On the basis of the new policy of "idiot anti-imperialism" laid down by the Beloved Leader, should we not then give the same uncritical support to Hezbollah as the AWL have given to their co-thinkers in Libya?  Can we now expect that on the basis of this new policy, we will see AWL banners proclaiming "We are All Hezbollah"?  It appears that the same abandonment of Marxism by the Third Campists of the SWP, which led them into these shameful positions, is now dragging the AWL down that road too.

Or what about the "insurgency" in Iraq?  The AWL argued that it could not be considered a national liberation movement, precisely because its politics precluded any real liberation for the people of Iraq, because of its clerical-fascist politics.  But, that does not seem to preclude them from providing support for Libyan clerical-fascists.  Should we not equally have "expected" that after years of the dictatorship of Saddam, which was equally as brutal, and suppressive of democratic rights as that of Gaddafi, that the "revolutionary" forces that sprang up when that regime fell would not be "spontaneously socialist"?  Should we not then have resisted the idea of "waiting a long time" for such a movement to arise, and instead given our support to the Iraqi Jihadists, as the Beloved Leader argues for in Libya?  After all many of those Jihadists fighting in Iraq, were the same ones who have now been fighting in Libya!!!

The same applies, to Afghanistan, where there has never been a history of democracy, and where the population have suffered centuries of oppression.  Should we have not "expected" that the "revolutionary" forces that arose to oppose the USSR, and which now oppose the occupation of Imperialism would also not be "spontaneously socialist"?  Does not that line of argument, to justify support for the clerical-fascists in Libya, also mean the AWL should be arguing for support for the "revolutionary" forces of the Taliban???

And, finally, should we not have "expected" that after years of the Dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, which suppressed the Iranian masses, and denied them the same democratic rights that were denied the Libyan masses by Gaddafi, that the opposition to him would not be "spontaneously socialist"?  Should we have rejected the idea of "waiting a long time" for such a devevlopment, and instead have thrown oursleves behind the actual "revolutionary" forces in Iran, represented by the Khomeniites?  Well, of course, at the time, the predecessor of the AWL, Workers Action/International Communist-League did.  That was before they recognised that such positions have nothing to do with Marxism, or Leninism, or Trotskyism.  They claimed they had learned the lesson of that in Iran, but clearly they have not.  In all these cases, what support for these reactionary organisations represents is an Opportunist aligning with the "lesser evil", rather than a principled revolutionary stand.  In the Theses On The National & Colonial Questions, Lenin and the Comintern set out precisely why, Marxists should not simply provide support for these reactionary forces, who represent the class enemies of the working-class, why our task is to build an independent, working class, truly revolutionary movement, recognising that real independence, real freedom for the workers can only arise on the back of a socialist transformation of these societies.  In fact, speaking of these kinds of reactionary clerical forces he writes,

"b) An unconditional struggle must be carried out against the reactionary and medieval influence of the clergy, the Christian missions and similar elements.

c) A struggle is necessary against Panislamism, the Panasiatic movement and similar currents which try to tie the liberation struggle against European and American imperialism to the strengthening of the power of Turkish and Japanese imperialism, the nobility, the big landlords, the clergy, etc.

e) A determined fight is necessary against the attempt to put a communist cloak around revolutionary liberation movements that are not really communist in the backward countries. The Communist International has the duty to support the revolutionary movement in the colonies only for the purpose of gathering the components of the future proletarian parties – communist in fact and not just in name in all the backward countries and training them to be conscious of their special tasks, the special tasks, that is to say, of fighting against the bourgeois-democratic tendencies within their own nation. The Communist International should accompany the revolutionary movement in the colonies and the backward countries for part of the way, should even make an alliance with it; it may not, however, fuse with it, but must unconditionally maintain the independent character of the proletarian movement, be it only in embryo.

f) It is necessary continually to lay bare and to explain among the broadest masses of all, but in particular of the backward, countries the deception committed by the imperialist powers with the help of the privileged classes in the oppressed countries when, under the mask of politically independent states, they bring into being state structures that are economically, financially and militarily completely dependent on them. The Zionists’ Palestine affair can be characterised as a gross example of the deception of the working classes of that oppressed nation by Entente imperialism and the bourgeoisie of the country in question pooling their efforts (in the same way that Zionism in general actually delivers the Arab working population of Palestine, where Jewish workers only form a minority, to exploitation by England, under the cloak of the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine). In today’s economic conditions there is no salvation for the weak and dependent nations outside of an alliance with Soviet Republics."

It is only necessary to read these words to see just how far the AWL's position, in relation to Libya, is from a principled Marxist position, and indeed how far the positions of the other "idiot anti-imperialists" in all these cases is separated from the ideas of Lenin and the Comintern.  In fact, in another of his writings on these questions The Question On Self-Determination Summed Up, Lenin speaks about situations where movements for self-determination are acting as representatives of foreign powers.  He writes,

"What is the lesson to be drawn from this concrete example which must he analysed concretely if there is any desire to be true to Marxism? Only this: (1) that the interests of the liberation of a number of big and very big nations in Europe rate higher than the interests of the movement for liberation of small nations; (2) that the demand for democracy must not be considered in isolation but on a European—today we should say a world—scale.

That is all there is to it. There is no hint of any repudiation of that elementary socialist principle which the Poles forget but to which Marx was always faithful—that no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations. If tile concrete situation which confronted Marx when tsarism dominated international politics were to repeat itself, for instance, in the form of a few nations starting a socialist revolution (as a bourgeois-democratic revolution was started in Europe in 1848), and other nations serving as the chief bulwarks of bourgeois reaction—then we too would have to be in favour of a revolutionary war against the latter, in favour of “crushing” them, in favour of destroying all their outposts, no matter what small-nation movements arose in them. Consequently, instead of rejecting any examples of Marx’s tactics—this would mean professing Marxism while abandoning it in practice—we must analyse them concretely and draw invaluable lessons for the future. The several demands of democracy, including self-determination, are not an absolute, but only a small part of the general-democratic (now: general-socialist) world movement. In individual concrete cases, the part may contradict the whole; if so, it must be rejected. It is possible that the republican movement in one country may be merely an instrument of the clerical or financial-monarchist intrigues of other countries; if so, we must not support this particular, concrete movement, but it would be ridiculous to delete the demand for a republic from the programme of international Social-Democracy on these grounds."

Again, it is only necessary to read these words, and to consider how much the US hegemon, along with its other Imperialist Allies is similar to the bulwark of reaction played by Tsarist Russia in Marx's time, to see how far the AWL, and the other "idiot anti-imperialists" are from a Marxist position.  We only have to consider the fact that the leaders of the TNC had been cultivated by EU Imperialism, and were indeed akin to being "an instrument of the clerical or financial-monarchist intrigues of other countries", especially also given the role of the Qataris in providing hundreds of Special Forces troops in each region of Libya.  In fact, from the reports now being recieved of just how few actual Libyan rebels were involved in the fighting, it is clear that far from bing a popular revolution as the Beloved Leader wishes to portray it, this was an Imperialist War against Libya, pure and simple, and would not have been won without massive Imperialist bombing of the country, and without the insertion of hundreds of Special Forces from Britain, France, Qatar and elsewhere on the ground.

We see, in Lenin's comments above the other important aspect of the Marxist position in relation to self-determination, and bourgeois democratic demands.  That "are not an absolute, but only a small part of the general-democratic (now: general-socialist) world movement. In individual concrete cases, the part may contradict the whole; if so, it must be rejected".  But, the AWL, having rejected Marxism and Dialectics in favour of the Formal Logic and Opportunism of Third Campism, is unable to develop its politics on this basis.  It is forced into a moralistic search for the lesser-evil in each particular case.  It is unable to see each event as part of a process, and how, therefore, it has much wider consequences than just the individual event.

We are seeing that now.  Only a few days after Gaddafi was killed, former US Republican Presidential candidate, John McCain,  appeared on Newsnight proclaiming their success, and arguing that it provided an example of how to proceed.  He put forward the idea of adopting similar tactics for the removal of the regimes in Russia and China.  If someone like McCain can come out with such dangerous nonsense, what ideas must be running through the heads of the more loopy, Tea Party elements, flush with their success in Libya???  In fact, we do not have to look at just those loopy elements.  Already, as a smaller bite to chew off first, before launching a new world war, they are openly discussing a war against Iran!!!!  The Daily Mail reveals that Israel has been test-firing missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads into Iran.

We are living in dangerous times, as the Arab Spring could turn to a Nuclear Winter, as fault lines open across the region, with nuclear armed competitors lining up behind the forces on each side of them.  In such times the working-class, globally, needs clear thinking, principled Marxist organisations to provide an analysis, and principled a response to the dangers the class faces.  We do not have such organisations.  The AWL least of all represents such.  If we look at the reason it is providing support for the clerical-fascists in Libya, in contrast to its approach elsewhere, it comes down to what it has been in other cases.  In Libya, the clerical-fascists were on the same side as the Imperialists.  It is support for Imperialism, which dictates for the AWL who is the lesser-evil, and who they will support in any such conflict.  It is a far cry from any kind of Marxist, principled position, based on building an independent working-class, revolutionary force capable of winning the leadership, and defending the workers against their class enemies.

Fortunately, the AWL have no influecne whatsoever in the working-class, and the only people they are misleading is a few middle class students.  Fortunately, given the nature of their organisation, it could never amount to anything more.

No comments: