Reply to Jose

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Fri Oct 1 22:25:09 MDT 1999


    My point in citing the American analogies is simply that it is NOT a
question of principle whether workers or oppressed minorities "call the
cops," however unusual this may be in real life. The only example I can
think of in a strike setting involved the UFW and the Teamsters, but I have
only the very vaguest recollection of it, mostly because of the discussion
it generated.

You write,

>Southern segregation and lynch law
>represented a flagrant violation of the most obvious sort of bourgeois
>democratic rights. So this was an obvious case of the rightness of
>demanding that a bourgeois state enforce its own laws.
>Otherwise Philip is of course completely correct in denying any analogy
>to sending troops abroad.

What you say pretty much sums up my attitude. To paraphrase you:  "The
Indonesian rampage represented a flagrant violation of the most obvious sort
of bourgeois democratic rights -- the right to self-determination and
independence. So when the Timorese demanded the UN send a peacekeeping
force, it was an obvious case of the rightness of demanding that the
bourgeois international institutions enforce their own laws."

The point has been made on this list that the difference between a
"domestic" demand like that and a "foreign" one is the issue of sovereignty.
I think that is a generally VALID point, but it is NOT the issue in THIS
concrete case.

I think the distinction that is made that everything changes exclusively
because troops
are being sent "abroad" is an impossibly artificial one. The central point
in Lenin's polemics against the social chauvinists are that war is the
continuation of policy by other means. The social chauvinists denounced
their own country's imperialism, by and large, until of course "their own"
country was "attacked" (or was "irresistibly provoked," as the case may have
been), at which point it turned out the social chauvinists of XYZ country
decided that the war being waged by XYZ was not a continuation of XYZ's
long-standing imperialism but a "national" war, a "defensive" war, and all
sorts of other rot.

Unless one maintains that the whole course of the Timorese Independence
Movement in the last year or so has been false, that there is absolutely NO
difference between formal independence and continuing Indonesian occupation,
I can't see where the position taken by a lot of people in this discussion
make any sense. You
can't both be supportive of the decision by the Timorese forces to continue
their struggle within the framework of a UN referendum and decolonization
process and then turn around and denounce the idea of a UN peacekeeping
force while the Timorese are calling for it to come in, in other words,
while the Timorese are demanding that the United Nations enforce its own
laws. It makes no sense politically. Why should we object to the UN force
facilitating the withdrawal of the Indonesian troops? This does not mean
either demanding that imperialist troops lead such a force or endorsing the
force that was eventually sent in.

It IS true that accepting this "UN framework" so to speak involved on the
part of the independence movement numerous concessions, which I'm sure they
would rather not have made, but were not strong enough to resist, such as a
prolonged transition to independence following the referendum.

And it is true that the imperialists mean for the peacekeeping force to
enforce those concessions extracted from the Timorese. But I do not think
the best way to combat this is with a slogan like, "imperialist troops out
now." Instead, I think we should center our demands around immediate
recognition of East Timor independence, and especially, in supporting the
concrete demands in this direction that the Timorese national liberation
movement itself is putting forward.

Best regards,


-----Original Message-----
From: Carrol Cox <cbcox at>
To: marxism at <marxism at>
Date: Friday, September 24, 1999 11:37 PM
Subject: Re: Reply to Jose

>Philip L Ferguson wrote:
>> Jose writes:
>> >Just so. If the capitalists hire a goon squad to try to break the
>> >would the workers be "out of their minds" to demand  that the capitalist
>> >state, its police and army repress that illegal terrorist militia?
>I know quite a bit about u.s. labor history (though not as much as I
>should know) but I can't recall any case such as this -- the goons
>were usually supported by the cops. I should like to know about
>any case where the cops actually helped workers. (I know of
>cases where the workers demanded such help -- knowing when
>they did so that it would not be forthcoming.)
>> >
>> >When the Blacks of the U.S. South demanded that federal troops be sent
>> >break the resistance to desegregation, were they "out of their minds?"
>This was a very special case. I think it very clear by now that the federal
>government finally gave any support to black demands *only* because
>of cold war pressures. Were it not for the Soviet Union and the Vietnamese
>peasantry they might still be lynching in Alabama. And even with that
>pressure of the Cold War the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations
>dragged their feet on the most basic civil rights for blacks. And Lyndon
>Johnson tried to -- the treatment of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic
>Party at the 1964 Democratic Convention was one of the great turning
>points in the '60s -- perhaps *the* turning point.
>> >When Blacks in Boston demanded federal troops be sent to stop anti-Black
>> >terror and enforce school desegregation, were they "out of their minds?"
>> >
>They were not "out of their minds," but in fact the effort failed. Perhaps
>someone on the list could give a more accurate account of the mess
>that was and is Boston.
>> >All of those situations have actually happened in the United States.
>> >should revolutionaries have done?
>> You are talking about people in an imperialist country, calling on their
>> own government to take action.  (In any case, my view is that the workers
>> would be much better defending themselves in all the cases you mention
>> above.)
>Probably not in *all* the cases. Southern segregation and lynch law
>represented a flagrant violation of the most obvious sort of bourgeois
>democratic rights. So this was an obvious case of the rightness of
>demanding that a bourgeois state enforce its own laws.
>Otherwise Philip is of course completely correct in denying any analogy
>to sending troops abroad.


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