An letter to Against the Current

Grinker grinker at
Fri May 18 01:43:06 MDT 2001

> >Every time someone attacks Imperial policy - e.g., in Zimbabwe, or
> >Philippines, Timor or Yugoslavia - we are told: if you are right how come
> >all the local lefties are backing (whoever is the choice of the

Jared is right.  The argument of e.g. most of the left in South Africa is
that, as the MDC supports the imposition of western sanctions, so should we.

> The left should not set itself up to be cheerleaders. The MDC in Zimbabwe
> is deeply flawed by reformist elements. But we should have no illusions
> about Mugabe:

True.  But if he occasionally - for whatever reason - takes a stand against
imperialism (and that includes opposing the intervention of the South
African variety) then that should be supported. There is no third position
when it comes to taking sides in a conflict between Mugabe and an
imperialist power. With all the anti-Mugabe propaganda floating around
whatever we say is hardly likely to create illusions in Mugabe's opportunist

I do however think there is some point in being careful to pose arguments
against intervention in language which doesn't put people off from the


> Jared:
> > The problem with the MDC is that it is linked to the USA

> One wouldn't think so reading the "Socialist Review" from the British
>Section of Cliffism. I spent the whole article wondering if they would
mention this
>`detail'. They didn't. While I am quite suspicious of what we hear all the
time as
>"war veterans", I am a hell of a lot more suspicious of the NYTimes, etc.
>why they deem it necessary for us to hate these people. The Cliffite
thinkers would
>have me believe the MDC is an organisation of workers, and that this is
>radicals *automatically* are.
> It seems the waters are much muddier, and that one can start an
understanding of the
> dynamics here better through following the money. This magazine would have
me >elieve that because their are people who believe in socialism on the
bottom of
>the MDC that this will reverberate through the entire party. Of course,
>motives for funding the *neo-liberal* MDC are not mentioned.

The "Cliffites" have one entrist MP in the MDC who is about to be booted out
because he has - against the general MDC line - supported Mugabe's recent
radical anti-imperialist rhetoric.

It is of course quite possible for the MDC to be backed by the west and have
"sepoy" politics while it maintains a largely working class base.  Its
leadership even comes from the labour movement bureaucracy. The cohabitation
of workers and pro-western leaders is hardly surprising in a context of the
collapse of old-style radical nationalist politics.


> Jared, you should take the trouble to study up on Zimbabwe. You are taking
> one sentence out of context. Mugabe has spent 15 years bending over
> backwards to keep the World Bank and the IMF placated. The only reason he
> is kicking up dust with the MDC today is to hold on to power. It is
> completely demagogic.

Undoubtedly true.  But Jared is essentially right. If it does come to a real
crunch situation  e.g. if sanctions (nothing else than war by other means)
are imposed, or there is some other form of western intervention, solidarity
with Zimbabwe is definitely required.  It is not the business of a
principled left to interrogate the politics of  nationalist leaders in
countries under active threat from the west while the last remnants of their
sovereignty are in the process of being whittled away.  Support in such
cases must surely be unconditional.

>The Marxist left has no business solidarizing itself with Mugabe, nor Thabo
Mbeki for >that matter. We should be looking out for the next Thomas
Sankara, not these bums.

Defending Zimbabwe doesn't have to mean political identification with
Mugabe - practical opposition to all forms of western intervention is what
is needed. While we're looking out for another Sankara, we can't just sit on
our hands while Zim is domesticated (further).


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