The Militant sectarianism and adaptation

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Sat Mar 8 12:35:36 MST 2003

>From The Militant, after its recent three week hiatus:

"Predominant among the forces that organized the large February 15-16
protests in the United States were the Stalinists, who orient to the
Democratic Party. They have consistently called for the implementation of UN
resolutions in Iraq, the very resolutions that Washington and other
imperialist powers have used to devastate Iraq over the past decade."

Notice that this is basically a red-baiting, guilt-by-association attack.
Unable to find anything wrong with the slogans of the demonstrations, the
political basis on which it was built, the Militant takes a page from the
like of the Nation and says, but very *very* naughty people were involved
that have "consistently called for the implementation of the UN resolutions
in Iraq." Did the demonstration call for that? Of course not. But you see,
some of the people at the action deep down in their hearts had evil

"A number of those who have participated in the demonstrations applauded the
French government for its resistance to a new Security Council resolution
placing a fresh stamp of approval on an Anglo-American-led invasion."

Another sniveling, sneaky, hypocritical formulation to cover up the SWP's
shameful refusal to rally to the defense of the Iraqi workers and peasants.
"A number" of those who participated "applauded" the French government's
stance. I guess that is meant to take care of the SWP's promise to
*unconditionally* defend colonial and semicolonial countries under
imperialist attack. That promise has become *inoperative.* It will become
operative once again when everyone in the whole world understands that at
bottom, the French imperialists are just as bad as the American ones.

"Millions in Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific know the real record of
French imperialism, said Barnes. Although Paris dons the peacemaker's garb
today, its military officers and cops were, along with those from Belgium,
perhaps the most savage of the representatives of the imperialist powers."

Did I say just as bad? Sorry, I misspoke. Actually, the French (and the
Belgians, because a bunch of them even speak French) are the absolutely
worse, most horrible imperialists ever.

There must be something good to be said about a white male American
revolutionary denying "his own" imperialism is the meanest, baddest, most
savage and brutal on the face of the globe, deferring instead to Belgian and
French claim. I just can't think of what it could possibly be right now.

And it reminds me of something: is *anyone else* kicking the French around?
Isn't French-bashing the latest theme of Fox news and talk radio? The
Militant, once again, I believe, is displaying an entirely unhealthy
tendency to parallel or reflect some of the themes of right wing propaganda,
just as happened during the Elian case.

The fact is that it is the anglo-american imperialist cabal that is
threatening to invade and occupy Iraq, and the peoples of Iraq and the Third
World are entirely right to use the inter-imperialist contradictions and
diplomatic maneuvers to throw the invaders off-balance, deny them political
and "international" cover and so on.

Fidel on his stopover in France in his recent round-the-world trip to the
nonaligned summit:

"I left [Paris] still holding the memory of everything I had read and dreamt
of in my youth about its glorious Revolution and the heroic and grandiose
history of France. I admired its valiant stance today in the face of the
humiliating unilateral hegemony of the United States government."

Doesn't that really put Fidel among the "number" of antiwarriors who have
"applauded" the French?

And given that the Militant has spent the last quarter century or so hailing
Fidel and telling working people to look to him for leadership, isn't the
Militant duty bound now to differentiate itself a little more clearly?

It seems to me that the SWP is making a fundamental mistake: "The impending
war is above all fed by an increasingly sharp conflict between imperialist
rivals. Washington and its competitors, seeking to control oil wealth and
strategic positions, are driven to carve up the Mideast, and the world,"
says the home page statement on their web site.

I don't see it and I don't believe it. I don't think inter-imperialist
rivalries are the main factor driving this. This is the white man's view,
the north-centered view of the world in which the masses of the colonial and
semicolonial nations, are given only the place of the turkey at the
Thanksgiving dinner table. I believe the masses of the Third World will have
a little something to say about these matters.

I think what is behind this is a drive of the imperialist system *as a
whole* to increase the extraction of surplus value from the Third World. I
think a glance at economic trends and statistics over the past couple of
decades simply leaves no doubt about the tendency. The existence of the
socialist block in the post-WWII period made it possible for many Third
World countries to retain a relatively higher portion of value produced
in-country. Even before the final collapse of "really existing socialism" in
Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, they had begun to contain and reverse
that, and since then the trend has accelerated.

That this drive to reduce the Third World to infra-human conditions of
barbarism, for that is what is involved, takes place in part through the
mechanisms of inter-imperialist rivalry is obvious. But Bush's arguments in
favor of inter-imperialist unity are basically sound, and all the thundering
speeches in the Security Council represent so much haggling about the
percentage allocation of shares in the joint enterprise. The United States
prefers direct military attack and occupation because that is where it is
relatively strongest, in fact, the rest of the world put together can't
compete with it, at least in terms of stocks of weapons, the quality, and
the ability to project force at a distance. The club of continental West
European imperialists prefers a lesser role for the force of arms.

When inter-imperialist rivalry becomes the overriding feature we're not
likely to miss it. It will be expressed in a very rapid West European
military buildup. I just don't see *any* sign that that is already
happening. As long as the U.S. is willing to expend political capital and
treasure to play cop of the world, and it serves their interests, why should
the Europeans duplicate the American effort? And, of course, the Europeans
realize the Americans will charge a fee for those services. "After all," as
Barzini said in the Godfather, "we are not communists."

Part of the SWP's sectarian hostility to the antiwar movement is intimately
tied up with this analysis of the inter-imperialist contradictions being
"the main contradiction," as the Maoists used to say. But this is, clearly
and transparently, not. an INTER imperialist war, but rather, an attack on a
Third World country by imperialism, Barnes's metanarrative notwithstanding.

*  *  *

Some additional notes: It does seem the SWP is increasingly incoherent in
talking about Cuba. The Militant reports, for example, Mary Alice's praise
for the current central political focus of the revolutionary government.
"The Battle of Ideas, she said, is a class approach based on making
education available as a lifetime right for all working people."

But later in the same article, in the section on Jack's Papal Bull, the
Militant says: "Outside the small nuclei of communist workers in the United
States and several other countries today, Barnes said, the culture of
Marxism that previously existed in the world has all but disappeared. Such a
culture, with wide-ranging debates taking place on political and scientific
thought, is necessary to help organize and prepare for a socialist

Note the formulation:  "Outside the small nuclei of communist workers in the
United States and several other countries." I *think* the Cuban comrades
just got purged from the group of those among whom "the culture of Marxism"
still perdures.


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