The Emir of Afghanistan

Chris Burford cburford at
Fri Oct 11 16:49:38 MDT 1996

Wei En Lin:

Re:  "The Emir of Afghanistan"

Chris Burford has quoted this passage from the "Foundations of

"The struggle that
the Emir of Afghanistan is waging
for the independence of
Afghanistan is objectively
a *revolutionary* struggle,
despite the monarchist views
of the Emir and his
associates, for it weakens,
disintegrates and undermines

Is this sentence either grammatical or logical?  Can anyone find a
sentence in the writings of Karl Marx or F. Engels which expresses the
same sentiment?


And greetings to Wei En Lin. I very much appreciate your

As for the quote, yes it is both grammatical and logical.
The challenge was not whether a similar sentence could be found
in Marx or Engels, but in Lenin. I was challenging the claim
by Hugh, Robert, and no doubt many others, that there is a
large theoretical gap between Lenin and Stalin.

Well the quotation has been exposed in this toxic environment
for two days, and it is untouched by corrosive. And of course
in view of the widespread publication of Foundations of
Leninism over several decades, and the number of Trotskyists
intent on criticising "Stalinism" for good motives and bad,
we can assume that if this passage could be demonstrated as
un-Leninist, it would be part of the Trotskyist tradition.

But the passage cannot be shown to be un-Leninist.

I especially chose it because Trotskyists often turn to
certain historical examples of real politique as if they
were self evident proof of the unprincipled nature
of "Stalinism". For example that it is absolutely self-evident
that Stalin should not have signed a non-aggression pact with
Hitler. Instead their starting point is the working class
in each country however small. It is an ideal and it
is idealist.

Of course within each country the marxists would have the
responsibility to try to forward the
interests of the working class and the majority of the people,
but the passage here emphasises that it is the global
framework which should be of larger consideration, and
that might justify the supporting of a policy, which on
an isolated national scale does not appear to make sense.

En Lin:

And even if the sentence were correct in the historical context in which
it was written, can it be asserted that the triumph of Taliban strikes a
blow against imperialism?

Have we not gone past the stage of naked imperialism to a far subtler
form of exploitation wrought by  Transnational Capitalism on the working
people of the world?   Exploitation by the IMF, the World Bank, and the
owners of the controlling shares in the largest multinational


Here I agree it is much more complicated. Even if you accept
the argument that in the seventies the Soviet Union was
an expansionist, militarist power that was socialist in words
and not just chauvinist at times but imperialist in deeds, then
resistance to that expansion whether organised in the name
of islam or in some other way, was progressive.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, I would assume the situation
even from this point of view has to be analysed again.

Where I think the approach may be relevant for analysis is
especially in connection with radical islam in many countries on
the fringe of capitalist intensive Europe, such as Algeria.
Marxists ought to be willing to analyse such phenomena
constructively and with sympathy.  The Chenchyen resistance
seems to me to be progressive, but it is so skilled politically
that I assume it has marxist influence in it even if not
explicitly so.

A harder application of the principle was followed by many
leftists in the case of Yugoslavia, who supported or protected
greater Serb nationalism from criticism on the grounds that
although they probably committed many democratic violations,
at a global level they were the best nucleus of resistance to
western European capitalism/imperialism. I myself could not
accept this. I regard greater Serv nationalism as quite
literally social fascist and thoroughly divisive of the unity
of the working class and working people, so quite incapable
of providing an effective nucleus of resistance.

I agree with you very much in your focus on the international
monetary fund and neo-liberalism in this last decade of
the 20th century and that changes much. My impression is that
while some nationalist movements may still be progressive, the
agenda has powerfully swung to one in which leftists must use
the openings of civil society in many countries of the world,
to call for more social accountability and to start rebuilding
an ideal of socialist democracy which will ultimately take
control of the IMF. (A symbolic revolutionary defenestration
could be arranged while the early retirement contracts are
being signed). This is not to imagine however that capitalists
will not fight to hold onto their interests. They will counter-

>From the point of view of this agenda, radical islam is
a reaction against the culture of commodity based civil society
as much as it is a progressive nucleus of political resistance
to neo-liberalism, and imperialism.

Where the Taliban lie on this I do not know. A good marxist
analysis of the roots of the conflict and why they were able to
overthrow the Kabul government would be fascinating.



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