Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Marxism, Zionism and the National Question - Liberal Intervention and The National Question

Marxism, Zionism and the National Question

Liberal Intervention and The National Question

In everything, the class struggle predominates over national and democratic struggles. All democratic demands, including self-determination are subordinated to the class struggle, and need to maintain the global interests of the working-class. Earlier was seen Engels' comment that the lives of millions of European workers could not be put in jeopardy for the sake of the independence of Herzogovinians. Lenin makes the same argument, above in relation to the three kingdoms. Trotsky made the same point in relation to the Balkan Wars, and in also setting out why Marxists cannot support or fail to oppose imperialist intervention under the flag of liberal interventionism.

When the Russian “liberal interventionists”, undertook massacres in the Balkans, reminiscent of the massacres undertaken by imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan and so on, Trotsky condemned them, and the attempts of liberals like Miliukov to cover them up, writing,

“An individual, a group, a party, or a class that ‘objectively’ picks its nose while it watches men drunk with blood massacring defenceless people is condemned by history to rot and become worm-eaten while it is still alive.

On the other hand, a party or the class that rises up against every abominable action wherever it has occurred, as vigorously and unhesitatingly as a living organism reacts to protect its eyes when they are threatened with external injury – such a party or class is sound of heart. Protest against the outrages in the Balkans cleanses the social atmosphere in our own country, heightens the level of moral awareness among our own people. The working masses of the population in every country are both a potential instrument of bloody outrages and a potential victim of such deeds. Therefore an uncompromising protest against atrocities serves not only the purpose of moral self-defence on the personal and party level but also the purpose of politically safeguarding the people against adventurism concealed under the flag of ‘liberation’.”

(Trotsky Writings On The Balkan Wars, p 293)

Nor was this just a matter of simply complaining about the atrocities carried out by the liberal interventionists, whilst accepting that they might be undertaking some progressive historical task in liberating the oppressed. The working-class must oppose any such interventions, and cannot simply hand over its own historical tasks to the bourgeoisie.

“But it is not at all a matter of indifference by what methods this emancipation is being accomplished. The method of “liberation” that is being followed today means the enslavement of Macedonia to the personal regime in Bulgaria and to Bulgarian militarism; it means, moreover, the strengthening of reaction in Bulgaria itself. That positive, progressive result which history will, in the last analysis, extract from the ghastly events in the Balkans, will suffer no harm from the exposures made by Balkan and European democracy; on the contrary, only a struggle against the usurpation of history's tasks by the present masters of the situation will educate the Balkan peoples to play the role of superseding not only Turkish despotism but also those who, for their own reactionary purposes, are, by their own barbarous methods, now destroying that despotism...

Our agitation, on the contrary, against the way that history's problems are at present being solved, goes hand in hand with the work of the Balkan Social Democrats. And when we denounce the bloody deeds of the Balkan 'liberation' from above we carry forward the struggle not only against liberal deception of the Russian masses but also against enslavement of the Balkan masses.”

(ibid, p 293-4)

“Democracy has no right, political or moral, to entrust the organisation of the Balkan peoples to forces that are outside its control – for it is not known when and where these forces will stop, and democracy, having once granted them the mandate of its political confidence, will be unable to check them.”

(ibid p 148-52)

Marxists can never fail to oppose imperialist military interventions, for all these reasons set out by Trotsky, because the ends desired by imperialism are never the ends desired by the working-class, however much the liberal-interventionists might try to present that as being the case, on the basis of an idealistic, superficial and subjectivist description. Ends are never inseparable from means. If socialists give imperialism such cover, then they will use it also to intervene against socialist states, or even progressive social-democratic states that challenge the interests of the ruling class. They will always claim to be intervening to put an end to some oppression, some infringement of democratic norms, and so on, just as they do when justifying an inter-imperialist war.

Failing to speak out about such military intervention is chauvinism, and also cuts us off from the workers of those smaller nations who suffer as a result of such intervention. Despite all of the promises of the liberal interventionists, the lives of the workers in Iraq, Libya and Syria etc. got a lot worse after the intervention of the imperialists, and expansionist powers, be it the US, EU, Israel, and Gulf States, or be it Russia, Iran and Turkey. Marxists can only win the confidence of workers in these smaller states if we oppose the military intervention of all these larger states.

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