What is a Criminal? What is Evidence? Where is Justice?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Sep 22 09:14:42 MDT 2001

On Sat, 22 Sep 2001 09:29:32 -0500, Lou Paulsen wrote:
>IF we had all done a better job of promoting the
>socialist cause internationally - IF we
>socialists, as a global movement, had shown more
>solidarity with the Arab masses long ago -
>then there might have been a strong socialist
>movement in Egypt, and Atta might have
>encountered a socialist party, when he was
>"searching for justice" in 1995.  If, if,

These are essential points. In a way it is unfortunate that we do not
have Julio Pino here today to discuss with. For newer comrades, Julio
was a Cuban-American academic based in Ohio who had essentially
abandoned socialism for Islamic radicalism and who used to be a list
member. He identified with Hizbollah, etc.

This weekend I am going to post a longish piece on Bakunin that I
have been working on for over a month. In fact it was 50% complete
when 9/11 took place. I only regained sufficient focus and energy to
return to it in the last couple of days. For obvious reasons, this
will be the last thing I have to say about anarchism for a good long
time. The issues generated by Genoa have clearly been superseded.

Once that is out of the way, I want to try to analyze the evolution
of this movement that the USA now declares its chief enemy. I want to
try to get beneath the surface about the things we on the left
already know something about--like the CIA role in building up the
mujahadeen, etc. I am far more interested in the questions that Lou
Paulsen raises about why socialism has not taken root in such
countries as Pakistan. And what is the proper Marxist attitude toward
mujahadeen type organizations? In fact Paddy Apling raised valid
questions about their connection to social revolution. Perhaps he was
bending the stick too far and perhaps it was necessary for Kurt
Lhotzky to make a correction. That being said, I am not sure that
Marxists have done a very good job in getting to the bottom of

For my money, some of the best analysis can be found in a Set./Oct.
1999 NLR article by Georgi Derluguian about the Chechen rebels.
Although it is limited to this region, the insights can probably be
extended to other areas:

"For another two years, the post-war Chechen state drifted without
functioning institutions or, at least, a coherent ideology of state
building. The neoliberal market orthodoxy appeared utterly misplaced
in a country like Chechnya, while old-style third-world
developmentalism was neither politically available nor materially
supported by the promise of aid. The dire social and economic crisis
strained to its limits the traditional survival strategies of
subsistence, labour migrations and extended family co-operation. The
destruction of modern institutions inherited from the Soviet past
radically increased the uncertainty and insecurity, further
aggravated by the brutalizing effects of recent war. The remaining
population was forced to seek the favour and protection of various
warlords. These clientelistic security arrangements actualized the
memories of traditional highlander clans-but the causal process
certainly did not run in the opposite direction. The advent of
neo-traditionalism was considered a disaster, a new Dark Ages, by
many Chechens whose hard-won social status, skills, lifestyle and
expectations-all developed in the modern urban environment-became
devalued or simply useless. It is indicative that the propagation of
new Islamic piety spread only on the social and political fringes of
Chechnya, particularly among the rural young males who had been
socialized in the conditions of post-Soviet chaos and the war. Yet
Islamism met with no organized alternative, either secular and modern
or traditional, and, by default, assumed the position of structuring
node in the fields of Chechen culture and politics. Eventually, every
powerful man in Chechnya, starting with President Aslan Maskhadov,
scrambled to acquire a degree of Islamic discourse and
representation-beards grew longer, prayers became conspicuous, women
were expelled from the remaining offices. The symbolic shift alone,
however, could not help what was a fundamentally political and
economic crisis. Chechnya was widely assumed to be on the brink of a
self-destructive internecine war. Evidently, at this point, Shamil
Basayev, Khattab and their allies in the opposition to Maskhadov
resolved to break the vicious circle by literally cutting through the
Russian blockade in what seemed the most promising
direction-Daghestan and the Caspian Sea."

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 09/22/2001

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