Support for Saddam Hussein: response to Ben Courtice

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at
Mon Nov 4 07:05:24 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ben Courtice" <benj at>
To: "marxism" <marxism at>

> Armand Diego alleges that to be aligned with ANSWER you have to give
> support to Saddam Hussein. I didn't get that impression from Lou
> Paulsen, who as I recall mainly pointed out that it's wrong to support
> imperialist intervention into Iraq's sovereign affairs. I would have
> thought that supporting the socialist opposition in Iraq would be a
> different kettle of fish. I think supporting Hussein would be wrong --
> he is, like bin Laden, a creature of the CIA and US foreign policy that
> they have sought to use as an example, not any sort of principled
> anti-imperialist, much less a socialist. Does ANSWER, or IAC, or WWP,
> think that the Iraqi regime should be positively supported?

Greetings, Ben :-) speaking as a member of WWP I'll answer that as well as I
can, though it's not a straight yes-or-no answer.

If you ask me if I think that the Iraqi regime should be "positively
supported," my response will be to say that it is in the interest of the
workers and oppressed in the U.S. to defend and support Iraq and its
government, unconditionally, against U.S. imperialism.  (To be clear: I
don't think there is a difference between "supporting" Iraq against U.S.
imperialism and "defending" Iraq against U.S. imperialism.")

If you then say that "that isn't exactly the question I asked," my answer is
going to have to be "Yes, that's true, because all of my training as a
Leninist tells me that the question you asked is, no offense intended,

I don't believe that there is ever such a thing as "positive support",
standing alone, out of context, and I believe that it's a fundamentally
misleading mistake to try to think in those terms.  I think that support and
defense can be meaningfully discussed only in terms of concrete actions (to
be clear: propaganda is a concrete action), by someone, to support
something, against something else, in a given situation.  By the way, this
is why I personally believe that the whole philosophical matter of
"dialectics" is not given nearly sufficient attention in the Marxist left.

The Iraqi state is a bourgeois nationalist state, not a socialist state, and
I don't believe that anything short of a socialist state can be
"consistently anti-imperialist" in the long run and in the internationalist
sense.  But I believe that the Iraqi government is defending itself against
U.S. imperialism at the present time, and we have to side with it in that

I believe that the duties of socialists in the U.S. have to be very clearly
distinguished from the duties of socialists in the oppressed countries which
are under attack by the U.S., and also, for that matter, from the duties of
socialists in other imperialist countries.  There is not, so far as I have
seen, a strong Iraqi socialist presence in the U.S., as you say there is in
Australia.  I would be very interested in reading their own analysis of the
situation; do they have a website?  My own belief, however, is that the best
help that we can possibly give to Iraqi socialists is to do the utmost to
stop the U.S. war on Iraq, by whatever means are possible.  Among the other
devastating and genocidal features of this war, it must also be completely
distorting the class struggle within Iraq and preventing the natural
development of Iraq's own economic and social forces.  Turning back the war
drive would, I imagine, do immeasurably more for the prospects of socialism
in Iraq than anything else we might do.

This is too brief, perhaps, but I must go and sell some labour-power now :-(

In the struggle,

Lou Paulsen

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