Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Tony Abdo)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Aug 31 16:43:35 MDT 2000

Here is a little reply to Tony Abdo re the discussion about nationalism.

Hi Lou: Here’s a quick reply to Tony Abdo

I want to make a few comments in reply to Tony Abdo. First my article was
deliberately sketchy about analysis of anything current, about program, or
about "strategy and tactics".

First of all, we have no common party on this list, and in fact no common
political movement which might have strategy and tactics. Maybe someday we
will have one, and maybe some of you think you can do some work building
one now. I am out of that business for now.

I am in the business of rethinking everything I thought during a lifetime
of militancy. And I am not in a hurry. I don’t have easy answers.

It is pretty hard to defend Kosovo against Milosevic, and Yugoslavia
against NATO - but that is what I think we have to do - and not for
nationalist reasons, but for internationalist reasons. Let’s face it, the
workers of Kosovo - and of Belgrade - are dead ducks if they are isolated
from each other, fighting each other - and both isolated from the workers
of Rome, Milan, Berlin, Munich, and elsewhere in Europe.

Milosoveic rose to power as the leader of the Serb nationalist tendency
within Tito’s party. In power he did more to build the petty nationalisms
of Craotia, Slovenia, et. al than any of their petty nationlist leaders
could ever have done. His Serb nationalism was a mirror of Stalin’s great
Russian nationalism. Like Stalin, Milosevic played directly into the hands
of imperialism. Unlike Stalin, Milosovech continue to lead whats left of
Yugoslavia - while Stalin’s heirs had to deal with the disaster he left.

What can revolutionaries do in a situation like that one? Defend
prinicples, try to stay alive, and prepare for the next stage of the
struggle. Sometimes you have wait until a bad hand is played out.

As for your idea of "regional self-determination" ....

How are you going to decide who gets to be in which region?

The current borders of virtually every country in the world were decided by
wars, imposed by European, US, and Japanese imperialism, or both. Why
should we accept most of them as the basis for anything? Should we defend
the territoritorial integrity of Indonesia - despite the national
oppression of the Timorese (and others)? Why, to celebrate the tradition of
Dutch imperialism, which pasted Indonesia together? Or the legacy of the
Indonesian generals (you can pick Sukharno, or Suharto if you like.) Or the
map the British drew of the Indian subcontinent as they pulled out. (It has
already been redrawn by the split of Bangla Desh from pakistan, and will
probably be redrawn again, maybe in Kashmir.)

There is something in your idea however, that I think is valid.

It is absolutely true that no one country today can be economically or
militarily viable in the face of a one super-power world and the process of

What should our programmatic answer to this process be?

I think that Bolivarismo - the idea of reuniting the countries of at least
Spanish speaking Latin America in some sort of strong federation -
independent of the USA, Europe, and Japan, is an interesting programmatic
thought. The same of a revival of some form of Pan-Arabism.

I think this is a logical step in defense of some form of independence -
and is one reason why, in my opinion, the political revival of Islam is so
strong and persistent. It is seen as providing some form of structure for
unity against the power of imperialism.

As for building an anti-war movement in the USA.

I think there is a new movement already emerging. It is not precisely being
built, because none of its participants really have much idea about where
they are going. The "anti-globalization" demos - as fuzzy as they were,
combining left wing and right wing - both ideas and people - are its most
interesting features.

This movement will not be like the 60’s antiwar movement. And this movement
will probably split into a right wing and a left wing once it grows larger.

I think its left wing will be anti-war, in the sense of anti-imperialist -
and will side with immigrant workers, and the victims of racism, sexism and

I think it is likely that there will be a new split in the labor movement
in the USA, as the more dynamic sectors -which organize now mostly
immigrant workers, women workers, and black workers - will come more and
more into conflict with the more conservative sectors. the left wing of the
new "movement" and the left wing of the workers movement will most likely
be pushed in the direction of alliance.

And I think Ralph Nader’s fuzzy, almost directionless, wishy-washy leftism,
is already an expression of this new movement begining to emerge.

I am too far away to be sure of this, but one thing I am sure of - the
movement that emerges in the USA on the left will embody all of the main
elements of the sturggles of the previous half century, but will not be a
duplicate of any of them. ALL, womens movement, gay movement, black
liberation, organized workers, immigrant rights, organized workers ...

In other words, maybe your movement already exists, only you haven’t
focused clearly enough on what is in front of you.


Louis Proyect
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