Mac on DSP

Paul.Benedek at Paul.Benedek at
Tue Nov 23 17:49:04 MST 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Philip L Ferguson [mailto:PLF13 at]
Sent: Wednesday,24 November 1999 7:56
To: marxism at
Subject: Re: Mac on DSP

Jose G. Perez writes:

>Behind the action of every state, and socalled multinational (in reality
>imperialist alliance) organizations, stands the bourgeoisies'  "bodies of
>armed men." An unarmed London cop of yore was no less an expression  of this
>than an American police SWAT team operating from armored personnel carriers
>with M-16s.

Indeed, and this is why Marxists are equally opposed to cops as the
front-line of the state apparatus.  We are equally opposed to them
regardless of whether they are 'unarmed' bobbies 'of yore' or tooled up
cops of today.

Now apply that correct insight of yours above to East Timor!

I wouldn't mind applying it: Let's say, Phillip, that I see you being beaten up by
several thugs in an alley way, one of whom pulls a knife. I'm not strong enough to
defend you myself, but I do see a cop down the street.

Do I see the urgency of the situation, and call on the cop (tool of the bourgeois
state and all) to stop the beating and arrest the perpetrators?

Or do I recognise that as a 'pure Marxist', I can not call on the cop as a part of the
bourgoise state, to do anything - and thus I scream and sweat in your defence, but am
ultimately sidelined, and you are beaten to a pulp or perhaps killed.

>Imperialism being what it is, in  99.9% of the cases this is a no-brainer.
>The case of East Timor, however, was the other 0.1%. In that case the policy
>of the imperialist countries was to formally recognize the right of the
>Timorese to control their OWN destiny; it was a policy of RETREAT from their
>previous policy of direct subjugation of the people of East Timor through
>their surrogates in Jakarta.

No, the ruling classes in the West did not *retreat*.  They advanced.
Instead of relying on a surrogate in the form of a Third World government
(Jakarta) they have moved to a more *direct* form of control through their
own imperialist agency (the UN) and through their own troops.

I find it difficult to believe that you view the UN, the representative of
imperialism globally, as preferable to a Third World country like Indonesia.

>From 24 year support for the Indo regime and its occupation of East Timor, to having
>to support the end of occupation and a TRANSITION to independence, I would see as a
>considerable retreat, and also a victory for the oppressed in Timor and elsewhere -
>note the increased upsurge in Aceh, an increased boldness in the wake of East Timor's

Phillip talks of more *direct* control through the UN - not mentioning that the UN
themselves (the so-called imperialist agency, a poor formulation that does not explain
the UN properly) has been forced to agree that East Timor WILL be an independent
nation - that it's reign is only transitional. Of course imperialist interests will do
their utmost to bring East Timor under their economic subjagation (and will likely be
rather successful) - yet the East Timorese now have an avanue to struggle, as they are
doing, to rebuild their country on their own terms, for their own needs - an avenue
that would not have been open to them if they had been ANIHILATED.

Phillip may find it difficult to believe that Jose views the UN TRANSITIONAL rule as
preferable to Indonesian rule, BUT FOR THE EAST TIMORESE, IT IS NOT DIFFICULT TO
the transitional UN rule, with its massive problems and inadequacies, is a massive
step forward for the East Timorese - they can organise openly (including socialist
forces in the form of the PST), without fear of being murdered. But moreover, this is

If the world is divided between imperialist (oppressor) and
imperialist-dominated (oppressed) nations, as Lenin held (indeed, this was
central to his theory of imperialism), then the UN is clearly an instrument
of imperialism.

For East Timor to become an imperialist neo-colony is no advance from being
a province of Indonesia.  And the people on the left who have facilitated
that shift have done no favours to the East Timorese and no favours to the
workers of their countries (eg Australian and NZ workers) by encouraging
Canberra and Wellington in large-scale foreign intervention.

No advance? In one foul swoop, Phillip dismisses the valiant struggle of the East
Timorese, and every nation that has won self-determination. Moreover, Phillip doesn't
recognise that winning independence opens up the opportunity to move forward to
further liberation. Ask the East Timorese if they see their situation now as an
improvement on being slaughtered by army-backed militias?

Last night the weekly 'Tuesday Documentary' on TV1 here in New Zealand was
an hour-long special called 'Keeping the Peace', all about NZ
'peacekeepers'.  The list of places where NZ troops are and have been
stationed over the past decade was really quite extraordinary - it crossed
the globe from Cambodia to Sierra Leone to Angola and Mozambique, to Sinai
to the Gulf, to parts of the Pacific.

The 'documentary' did not investigate any of the political reasons for this
substantial list of enagagements.  Instead it focussed entirely on the
'peacekeepers' themselves, who they were, what they felt, what nice helpful
activities they were involved in, what their husbands and wives were doing
and felt, blah blah.

At a time when Australian and NZ military engagement abroad is at a level
never seen before in our histories - outside of World War - and when there
is *no critical debate or investigation at all* of these activities, it is
*more important than ever* that Marxists should be demystifying them, and
the 'humanitarian' mystique around them, not caling for more intervention.


In fact, Phillip further mystifies by this analysis, by precisely failing to (as the
documentary also did not) "investigate the political reasons for this substatial list
of engagements".

If he did so, he would find different political reasons, and come to different
conclusions as to the position that Marxists should take to them, instead of the
Macdonald et al recipe of permanent opposition.

It has been astonishing to see some continue to argue against UN troops to East Timor,
in the light of what has taken place. Some have had the boldness to argue that, in the
face of reality, the DSP (and others with similar position) should change their

Indeed, history has prooved that the demand for UN troops in was completely correct -
it DID stop the massacres; it DID see the removal of EVERY Indonesian troop; it HAS
opened up the way forward to independence; it HAS allowed the East Timorese opporessed
to regroup and organise to further their liberation.

There are problems and divisions in East Timor, which we would expect - as the
imperialist try to implement their own interests, and the East Timorese theirs. But
this is a struggle that the East Timorese can ONLY take part in because they made the
completely correct analysis that they had to be ALIVE and to EXIST to continue their
struggle, as did those who supported them concretely by demanding UN troops in.

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