what to make of "conspiracy theories"?

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at tao.ca
Mon Feb 11 13:51:39 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
> I would urge anybody who wants to develop Marxist theory to absolutely
> avoid the sort of thing heard from people like Jared Israel, Mike Ruppert
> and so on. The reality is quite simple. Islamic fundamentalist terrorists
> have been taking one action after another against the USA since the
> collapse of the USSR.

This is quite true, and the lessons of this attack do not need to be put into a
schema. One could easily say that the position you espouse is trying to simply
avoid having too much thinking going on; if this is an upper level of the
establishment set-up, then what we see here would force us into a very
unpatriotic spot. The Islamic movements (the word terrorist ascribes something
to their position out of the pale, hardly fair compared to American state
terror) have a very basic and vulgar style of anti-imperialism. It isn't
economic and nor is it working class led- but it is very real. That groups are
focused on anti-American sentiment enough to carry out such assaults is not in
dispute. What is in dispute is whether or not these cells were truly acting
without the foreknowledge of any part of the US establishment. This is where the
investigation becomes viciously slippery.

The gripes of the Muslim world are very real and yes, if all a comrade has done
since 9-11 is to find ways to denounce Islamic radicalism then one is derelict
in duty and borderline racist. The denunciational lessons should be towards our
own "First World" lefty way of approaching the problem. I am pointing at no one
in particular here- just that it takes a real special kind of arrogance to go
from conference to conference, selling books and giving lectures on the perils
of third world islamic movements. The simple facts are:
A) The left in the Muslim world has revolved, in one way or another, around the
Soviet experience and not ther lessons learnable for themselves on the ground-
this produced a "left" so out of touch with the local history and struggles of
the Middle East they lost all legitimacy. Even to this day there are "left"
groups in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon that all pine for "peace" more than
Palestinian security and dignity. With this as a historical record, who can
blame Muslim subjects of imperialism for looking for people who really want to
fight? The contradictory nature of political Islam is that it always justifies
the means.
Our own record, even as localized parties in places such as Pakistan or Iran,
has been to plead with people to please- exercise restraint. Don't fight, it's
not time yet. These leftists would patiently explain to the masses: We can't
possibly make a revolution, the international situation isn't right yet. Then
the Middle East would keep being occupied, subjected and coups orchestrated--
all while the First World leftists sent salutory greetings to fraternal parties
in the subjected regions.

The righteousness of resistance among these people is far greater than if they
simply took it on the chin of their children forever. I do not doubt that the
existence of these radical movements is simply Islam filling the vacuum of the
political failure of our internationalism from carrying any meaning.

from the Nabka right through to 1967, "we" backed Israel. "We" called Mossadeq
and Nasser narrow nationalists. "We" occupied Afghanistan, and "we" wrote long,
turgid prose on the virutes of restraint for the peoples who used any weapons at
their disposal- and lectured, scolded and denounced those non-Marxist groups who
fought and fight today, regardless of the edicts from the sacred Red texts.

Our own dismissals of the region caused the vacuum. The vacuum could have been
filled with internationalism, but instead was filkled with Islamic radicalism in
our absence. Then, following this, and without real self-evaluation, the left in
the first world denounces some abstract  "terrorism" with a vitriol normally
resevered for Nazi war criminals. The "response", while opposed across the
board, did not receive the same impassioned cries. One tends to wonder why.

None of this precludes a simple fact: the Empire could have easily used their
own foreknowledge of the attacks to allow themselves to get what has been the
single greatest leap forwards for imperialism in nearly 60 years. The benefits
and what not I already touched on, and will leave at that. Suffice to say,
looking at the events on 9-11 as well as the balance sheets *everywhere* since
tell me to look, look into their dirty little world to see what they knew. They
won't let us even look, so how can you say they are blocking the view into an
empty corridor? What are they hiding?

This is the Empires greatest coup. And we sit around talking about Islamic
radicalism as *the* issue. That is our folly. This is what American fascism
looks like, but it has only started. Will we wait until it is almost complete to
speak to it? For many it has been fascism for 400 years. What will it take for
the disappearing 1200 to get the proper defense from "revolutionaries"? We have
to look at this as a swan song of a collapsing internatinal economic arrangent;
an unsustainable environmental apocolypse where the US is going to ride into the
energy sunset with guns ablazing. We can call this act one of simply taking a
punch at the bully, or we can point out that the bully has worked long and hard
to make the entire world give up the lunch money on a starving planet. Our time
is arriving far sooner than we want to think.

> We are dealing with a very contradictory
> political and social phenomenon that defies easy interpretation. When
> those who are unfamiliar with Marxist theory like Jared Israel fail to
> find the kind of pat explanation that worked--more or less--for Kosovo,
> they simply shoe-horn reality to fit into their schema.

Some do, and others don't think that this slides in very nicely at all, but that
we have to look at factors not even included in Jared's thesis. Mine remains the
dwindling energy resevers and the overall make up of the Bush Administration (et
al) that are in great need of a long term insurance policy vis-a-vis oil. This
is the all or nothing roll of the dice. We need to treat it as such- *right
now*. We need to simply ignore how bad our chances of success are and realise
they are better than our chances of survival should we fail.

They aren't after the fSU- they are only after one thing, everything.

> The worst thing
> about Jared Israel's analysis is that it sees nothing about these
> terrorist actions that can plausibly be explained as outrage against
> imperialist exploitation among Arabs and Islamic peoples. This ill-serves
> our movement. Unless we can come to terms with Arab and Islamic
> radicalism without prejudice, we are not doing our jobs.

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