Forwarded from Nestor (response to Jared)

Alan Bradley abradley1 at
Sat May 19 00:39:59 MDT 2001

> From: Borba100 at
> attempts to set up Fifth Columns

This Fifth Column idea is the heart of the matter.

These "Fifth Columns" apparently include:  the East Timorese independence
movement, the ENTIRE Philippines left (including the New Peoples' Army), the
Fijian trade unions, the Pakistani left (who are opposing the dictatorship),
and all the rest of the "Uncle Toms and Imperial imports".

There is something wrong with this picture.  The question is:  what?

Well, the first answer that comes to mind is that the whole concept is a
sectarian fantasy, but this really isn't adequate, is it?

So, let's try another approach.  I will say at the outset that I am making
this up as I go along, and what I am about to write should be treated as
nothing more than some vague ideas.

OK - we have a set of situations where there is a three-cornered struggle.
Basically, the combatants are:  the Imperialist bourgeoises, the national
bourgeoisie of the state in question (who may be factionalised themselves,
as in the Philippines and Indonesia), and either an oppressed nationality or
the local working class.  (I will focus on the case where it is the working

All three of these classes (Imperialist bourgeoisie, national bourgeoisie
and the proletariat) are in contradiction with each other.  The Imperialist
bourgeoisie, however, is geographically located elsewhere, and it is usually
the national bourgeoisie that directly controls the state power that
confronts the proletariat.  As such, the proletariat and the national
bourgeoisie will tend to be locked in a more or less direct class struggle,
while the Imperialists interfere from the sidelines.

Here we begin to see the "Fifth Columnists" coming into the picture...

(But first I will note in passing that there are _genuine_ "Fifth
Columnists" out there, in the form of the liberal NGOs.  These are not who I
am talking about here.)

The Imperialists, of course, are not idiots, and will take advantage of the
contradiction between the proletariat and the national bourgeoisie when it
suits their purposes.  In this situation, the proletariat's organisations
will appear to be "Fifth Columnists" to the "anti-imperialists", who see the
contradiction between the Imperialist and national bourgeoises as primary.
(Worse, the habit of viewing the proletariat in this manner can also lead to
them being seen as "Fifth Columnists" in situations where the Imperialists
are basically sitting on their hands smiling approvingly, as in the case of
the Philippines.)

The present debate is between those leftists (mostly in the Imperialist
states) who have been trained to side with the proletariat and its
organisations at all times and in all cases, and the "anti-imperialists",
who have been trained to view the proletariat's organisations as sectarian
(or downright treacherous) when they come into conflict with the national
bourgeoisie, at least at times the latter is in conflict with the

I think that the (more lucid) partisans of both schools could agree that
there is a time when the proletariat should form a bloc with the national
bourgeoisie against the imperialists.  The question is when.

At the moment it seems that a wing of the "anti-imperialists" are tending to
say "now", in at least some cases where the "conflict" between the
imperialists and the national bourgeoisies is more sizzle than sausage.  The
Philippines is one case.  I suspect that Pakistan would be another, although
it hasn't come up yet.

What is to be done in Zimbabwe?  Damned if I know.

Well, the above is a load of rubbish isn't it?  It doesn't even begin to
address East Timor - but I think that that is a case where the prism of
"anti-imperialism" has distorted the picture.

More seriously, I haven't addressed the blunders of the "working class first
and always" camp.  This is actually fairly difficult to do, since there are
as many sets of errors as there are people making them.  For example, there
_were_ people who appologised for the bombing of Yugoslavia.  These idiots
should be pelted with stones.  But they are _not_ the same as the people who
didn't consider Milosevic the height of working class heroism, but opposed
the bombing anyway.  It was the "anti-imperialists" who painted them as
equal, and such hysteria only leads to sectarian idiocy.

Alan Bradley
abradley1 at

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