Andrew Austin, Hitchens and the Left

Einde O'Callaghan einde.ocallaghan at
Sun Sep 30 14:08:22 MDT 2001

> Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 11:39:38 -0500
> From: "Austin, Andrew" <austina at>
> Subject: RE: Andrew Austin, Hitchens and the Left
> Marxism List,
> Phil Ferguson moves the discussion forward by talking about the
> ideological character of those associated with networks like al Qaeda
> and oppressors like the Taliban. These are thoroughly reactionary and
> anti-democratic countermovements. Terrorists like Osama bin Laden do
> not hate the bourgeois democracies of the West or the indigenous
> democratic movement in Afghanistan because they oppose capitalism--the
> indigenous democratic movement in Afghanistan in the late 1970s did
> not represent a capitalist tendency! The Taliban represents an
> atavistic, patriarchal countermovement to thwart the advance of gender
> equality, democratic practice, and an open society.
Even granting all of this, I have a simple question for Andrew Austin:
Are you living in Afghanistan or in the United States? And if, as I
believe to be the case, the answer is the US, I have a further question:
Who is the main enemy of the American working class, Islamic
fundamentalists or American imperialists?

If the answer to this is the former, then we've got nothing to discuss.
You are simply on the other side of the class lines. If, however, as I
hope, it's the latter, then I would suggest that you've got things out
of proportion, because most of your arguments here have been attacking
Taliban with only minimal criticism of US imperialism. This means that,
like it or not, you come across as one of those like Christopher
Hitchens, who are calling for a "humanitarian" imperialist intervention
in Afghanistan - and I for one don't believe that imperialism is capable
of resolving the mess it has created in Afghanistan. Any intervention
will only make things worse.

Nobody on this list has propounded a position even vaguely resembling
the caricature you have set up to knock down, except perhaps for one
maverick individual who has been disowned by just about everybody else
on the list. And indeed your allegations about the left's position play
into the hands of the US ruling class, who are trying to paint all
opponents of their new war drive as at best terrorist sympathisers, or
at worst as terrorists ourselves - as seems to be the purpose of a new
definition of terrorism by the FBI which would have branded all of the
Founding Fathers, John Brown and perhaps even Abraham Lincoln as

I hope you agree with Karl Liebknecht that "The main enemy is at home!"
In modern terms this means that those of us in the West should be
opposing the latest version of the imperialist new order first proposed
by Daddy Bush at the beginning of the 1990s - and first and foremost in
this opposition must be socialists in the US, the heart of the beast.

Solidarity in the struggle against imperialism!
No to war! Hands off Afghanistan!

Einde O'Callaghan

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