[Marxism] The US SWP, abstentionism and anti-imperialism
plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Mon Apr 5 18:52:26 MDT 2004
Well, I may as well throw my tuppence worth into this discussion.
While my political sympathies are with Walter, I think one part of his
critique of the US SWP position is wrong, and this is the part of Brian
S's position which is correct.
Basically, when you live in an imperialist state, whether the US,
Britain or Spain, or New Zealand, *the main enemy is at home*.
I lived in Britain for much of the time between 1980 and 1986 and one of
the worst things about the British left was how very 'anti-imperialist'
they were as long as the imperialism involved was not that of their own
Opposition to US imperialism is very cheap in Britain. People would
protest in their hundreds of thousands in opposition to *US* cruise
missiles in Britain, while ten Irish republicans were dying long, slow
and agonising deaths on hunger strike and the bulk of the British
'revolutionary' left wouldn't even mobilise their own memberships for
protests in support of the hunger strikers and for the five demands.
So I'm not much impressed by people in Britain who focus entirely on the
US or, in the current Iraq case, Bush.
Here in NZ, the group I belong to, the Anti-Capitalist Alliance, has
focussed primarily on exposing NZ duplicity in the war - our government
stayed out in a formal sense, while actually contributing a warship to
the Gulf and the 'war on terror' and then, after the other imperialists
had beaten Saddam, NZ sent a bunch of army engineers over to join in.
In this country there are massive illusions about NZ imperialism and its
governments, and exposing the nature of this society (a lot of the left
even promotes the idea that NZ is some kind of neo-colony) is vital.
OK, having said that, what are we to make of the Barnesite position?
For the British Barnesites to make some criticisms if the focus there
was overwhelmingly on Bush would have been fine, in their paper. But,
of course, they are not allowed to have a paper. Like the Children of
God and the Moonies and so on, the paper they sell in Britain is an
American paper. So straight away you are dealing with US chauvinism.
So what actually happened is not British revolutionaries stressing the
role of British imperialism, but a fairly chauvinistic US sect telling
off the British antiwar movement and whining that it is too
anti-American. That's not actually a correct position, when it comes
from the US and is based on whining about 'anti-Americanism'. It's just
a form of US chauvinism.
Here in NZ, what is left of the Barnesites totally abstained form the
antiwar movement, except for turning up at the start of demos and
setting up a full literature table and trying to sell their rather
expensive books and single copies and subs to their American newspaper,
a paper which hardly ever even has articles about NZ.
There's nothing correct in that approach.
Moreover, I find it amusing that the Barnesites are denouncing the
British antiwar movement for being soft on Blair when the British
Branesites, *vote for Blair at election time*. Who is really being soft
here? The NZ ones vote for the yuppie Labour Party here, and did so all
the way through the 1980s when the fourth Labour government was
organising the biggest transfer of wealth from the masses to the
already-rich in NZ history!
Also, the March 20 demo in London seems to have focussed much more on
the British government.
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