[Marxism] US chauvinists oppose Iraqis fighting US occupation

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Nov 27 22:48:06 MST 2003

The US 'Militant' on the tasks facing Iraqi revolutionaries:

"They would use whatever civic space exists to build and consolidate a
revolutionary organization that could lead working people there down the
road to get rid of the U.S. troops and keep the United Nations out as

>I have no opinion on exactly how the Iraqi people should organize their
struggle to drive out the imperialist invaders. But to advocate that
fighters in Iraq *limit* themselves to "whatever civic space exists"
means advocating acceptance of the occupation, and the Militant makes
this totally explicitly by saying people should FIRST build a
"revolutionary organization" (again, limited to the "civic space"
afforded by an imperialist military occupation) and consider the task of
actually driving out the imperialists to be "down the road." 

>I do not believe the role of Quislings befits communists.

Well, it's quite amusing that this "fighting working class newsweekly",
as the 'Militant' (without any sense of irony) describes itself, opposes
the Iraqis doing any *actual fighting* and, instead, advises them - from
the safety of a bookshop in downtown New York - to merely use the "civic
space" provided by the imperialists.

This is surely American national-chauvinism writ large.

Do they imagine the imperialists allow the same "civic space" in Iraq as
they do to harmless bookshops in New York?

(I also couldn't help laughing at the whole other-worldly conception of
"civic space".  Has Jack been doing a post-modernist university course
on the sly?)

The idea that you can resist an imperialist occupation merely by using
what "civic space" is provided by the occupiers indicates how little the
politics of these hilariously self-styled "working class fighters" have
to do with revolutionary politics and *real world working class

Can you imagine them in Cuba in the 1950s?  "Oh no, Fidel, don't be
going off and attacking the Moncada Barracks.  Just use the 'civic
space' Batista allows. . . and sell these Pathfinder books."

Or in the north of Ireland after Bloody Sunday?  "No, no, Seamus, don't
be shooting back at the British occupation army.  Just use the 'civic
space' the Brits allow you. . . and sell these Pathfinder books" (you
know, the 'civic space' that gets peaceful protesters shot dead by the

Or, what about Vietnam.  How crazy and ultraleft of Ho Chi Minh and his
movement to use armed struggle instead of merely taking up the 'civic
space' allowed by the French and US.  The deranged Ho should have simply
been organising the establishment of a Pathfinder bookshop and
'Militant' distribution in the 'civic space' allowed by the

Here in Christchurch, New Zealand, a few weekends ago they packed up
their little Pathfinder bookstall and scuttled away like frightened mice
when hundreds of protesters (successfully and without any one getting
arrested) marched on the road in defiance of a Christchurch city by-law
which forces demo organisers to obtain expensive march permits.  The
march was against the annual Labour Party conference, at a time when the
richest people in the country have grown richer at a rate not seen since
the 1980s (under the last Labour government.)  Since these "working
class fighters" and "vanguard communists" are still voting Labour, they
probably didn't want to be seen protesting the Labour conference,

Unfortunately, this timid pacifist chauvinism exhibited in relation to
Iraq is not new on their part.  In 1992 I visited NZ, from Ireland where
I was living and involved in Sinn Fein.  One day I went to visit an old
mate of mine who was involved in the Communist League here and he
proudly showed me that week's issue of the 'Militant' (false advertising
if ever!) in which the British CL candidate in the 1992 British general
elections, Brian Grogan, used his candidature to, among other things,
call on the IRA to stop fighting.

When the republicans in Ireland were fighting gun in hand against
British imperialist occupation, the US SWP and their co-thinkers in
Britain didn't exactly distinguish themselves with full-on support.
Once the republican leadership threw in the towel in exchange for a part
in helping run capitalism in Ireland, the US SWP was all over them like
a hot rash.  

So their pacifist-US chauvinist position on fighting the occupation in
Iraq is not without precedent.

Philip Ferguson


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