Bourgeois politicians and the anti-war movement (response to Louis)

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at
Thu Nov 28 09:08:31 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at>

Several comrades from other imperialist countries have discussed the
phenomenon of 'bourgeois anti-Americanism' whereby bourgeois politicians in
those countries oppose U.S. imperialist war by arguing that those countries
should pursue their OWN imperialist interests instead of just tailing after
the U.S.  (Actually, I don't suppose this is different in essence from when
bourgeois politicians in the U.S. argue that U.S. imperialist interests
would be better served by some other strategy than open war with Iraq.)

There are several questions to ask about this: is it a real phenomenon?
what do we think about it?  what should communists in those countries do
about it?  Proyect, however, who is in a state of hypervigilance against
ultraleft deviationism at the moment, INTERPRETS all the people who have
brought up the issue in any form as if they were all arguing that we should
bar those people from anti-war demonstrations and refuse all tactical
alliances with them, and treats them as being motivated by improper concerns
for ritual revolutionary purity:

> My suggestion to those on the left who want to avoid being tainted through
> association with bourgeois politicians who utter such impure sentiments as
> above is to build an anti-imperialist anti-war movement such as the kind
> that many student ultraleftists in the USA urged in 1967-1971. On the
> hand, I would urge those who understand the need to draw ordinary working
> people, especially trade unionists who have the power to stop the war
> through direct action such as work stoppages, etc., to continue along with
> a united front approach even if it means allowing a corner of our
> revolutionary banner to touch the ground from time to time. The Vietnamese
> used to tell us over and over that it was broad mass actions that were
> required, not consciously anti-imperialist actions of a small enlightened
> middle-class detachment. My guess is that a class-conscious Iraqi would
> urge the same thing.

I don't recall anyone specifically arguing that we must not be 'tainted' by
these people by abstaining from any anti-war activity that they happen to be
in.  However, there is a whole range of possible approaches to them, from
(a) complete separation (abstention) from anything they happen to be in, to
(b) refusal to deal with them directly; we don't cooperate in building the
action, but if they bring out the masses around their program, we attend the
event with our own propaganda, to (c) cooperation in building activities,
but we are free to criticize their position via our own speakers and written
propaganda (note that any presentation of a revolutionary anti-imperialist
line is in fact a criticism of their position), to (d) we suspend criticism
of them entirely (that is, we cease all anti-imperialist propaganda) until
the epoch of imperialist war is over.  Each of these letters further
contains a myriad of nuanced tactical approaches which may be applicable to
one situation or another.

I would say that the correct approach in a situation like the one we find
ourselves in today is usually somewhere in the (c) range.  However, this
supposes that the bourgeois politicians will be willing to cooperate on such
terms.  Most, in the present balance of forces, will not.  Most will say,
"You can cooperate if you act and speak only within bounds that we
establish" - such as participation in their election campaigns - "and
suspend criticism of us entirely." - option (d) - "and if you don't like
that, our security guards will bar you forcibly from our arenas."  What
then?  In that case I would vote for attempting to infiltrate the arenas
somehow anyway in order to reach the masses (option b), but in no event
would I consider (d) to be a reasonable option for communists.  If you agree
with me on these points, Louis, then we are arguing about tactical nuances,
if we are arguing at all.  If you don't agree, then our differences are

Lou Paulsen

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