[Marxism] The Militant's editorial on Iraq

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 16 11:21:40 MDT 2004

Lueko: Thanks for bring this to our attention. THE MILITANT's 
editorial makes some interesting and accurate observations, 
and also poses a range of problematic points to consider. 

It seems THE MILITANT doesn't support the right of the Iraqi
people to self-determination, what with all their strenuous
objections to the way the naughty Iraqis are mis-behaving. 
This is a significant for a self-described "revolutionary"
publication in the heartland of the country occupying Iraq.

I'm reminded of a wonderful story Cannon tells of the time
Trotsky asked Cannon to go England in 1938 in an attempt to
cobble together out of four squabbling grouplets, a united
delegation to the founding congress of the Fourth Inter-
national. Cannon told Trotsky that he found it to be a bit
confusing. He said that the British all seemed to be very
sectarian, but that theirs was a CONSERVATIVE sectarianism.

Trotsky responded to Cannon in the following unforgettable
words, "Have you ever heard of a REVOLUTIONARY sectarian?"

Let's focus for the moment on these interesting paragraphs:

The Militant April 27, 2004

Al-Sadr's militia is an Iraqi equivalent of Hezbollah or
Hamas, bourgeois nationalist organizations that do not
defend the interests of working people in the Middle East.
As recent events have shown, support for al-Sadr among
other Shiite groups has been greatly limited.

Similarly, the tactic of taking foreigners hostage to press
the occupiers to withdraw their troops has backfired on the
groups that have carried out those actions. To date, the
Japanese and other imperialist governments involved have
firmed up their resolve to stay in Iraq alongside the U.S.

Working people in Iraq, and throughout the Middle East,
will over time go through experiences allowing them to
forge the kind of leadership that can lead them in their
millions to get rid of all their occupiers: the Yankee
armed forces, the entire "coalition of the willing," and
all other imperialist troops-those with UN blue helmets 
and those without.

1-Just like the Bush administration, THE MILITANT downplays
and dismisses the Iraqi resistance to US occupation, and 
instructs readers that its support is limited. Politically,
THE MILITANT is opposed the resistance, it's that simple.

2-Just like the Bush administration, THE MILITANT doesn't
approve of the current leadership of the Iraqi resistance
since it doesn't satisfy THE MILITANT's stiff requirements.

That's why the word "immediate" doesn't precede the word
"withdrawal", even though the word "now" is present there. 
After all, since the Iraqi's don't TODAY have a leadership 
which merits the approval of the very demanding writers at 
THE MILITANT, perhaps the US withdrawal isn't so urgent and
can therefore put off until they do? At least, this might
help explain why THE MILITANT didn't support March 20th.

3-And like the Bush administration, THE MILITANT focuses
on such non-orthodox political methods as kidnappings.

Marxists naturally oppose such political methods which
substitute actions by a self-designated leadership for
mass action. But shouldn't Marxists try to UNDERSTAND
where such action comes from? After all, Washington is
not allowing all that much civic space for the kinds of
peaceful, legal methods which THE MILITANT (and I, too)
would generally prefer as the terrain for the struggle.

Kidnappings aren't calculated to win friends and gain
good publicity in the western media. As Tariq Ali has
pointed out, however, an occupation which isn't pretty
engenders a resistance which also isn't pretty, either.

(Below you'll find a link to a more sympathetic account
of the Iraqi resistance, from Cuba's PRENSA LATINA site.)

THE MILITANT's criticism of kidnapping omits the role of
such activities in previous revolutionary struggles in a
surprising way. If we look, for example, at the new book
ALDABONAZO, just published by Pathfinder, and which is 
being excerpted week after week, including this week, we
find the following footnote:

"To publicize their cause, a July 26th Movement commando
squad kianapped Argentine auto racer Juan Manuel Fangio
in Havana on February 23, 1958. He was released unharmed
a day later." [p.240]

Argentine racing champion Juan Manuel Fangio is kidnapped
by Communist guerrillas in Havana, Cuba, one day before the
second Havana Grand Prix. Members of the Movimiento 26 de
Julio (M-26-7) and followers of Fidel Castro and Che
Guevara, the kidnappers hoped to make a political statement
by kidnapping the world-famous Fangio before he could
defend his title at the Havana Grand Prix. "We wanted to
show that Cuba was living in a situation of war against the
Bautista tyranny," explained Arnol Rodriguez, a member of
the kidnapping team. In a moment fit for a Blake Edwards
film, revolutionary Manuel Uziel, holding a revolver,
approached Fangio in the lobby of his hotel and ordered the
racecar driver to identify himself. Fangio reportedly
thought it was a joke until Uziel was joined by a group of
men carrying submachine guns.

Fangio reacted calmly as the kidnappers explained to him
their intention to keep him only until the race was over.
After his release to the Argentine Embassy, Fangio revealed
a fondness for his kidnappers, refusing to help identify
them and relaying their explanation that the kidnapping was
a political statement. In the meantime, the Havana Grand
Prix had been marred by a terrible accident, leading Fangio
to believe that he had been spared for a reason. Years
later, Fangio would return to Havana on a work mission. He
was received as a guest of the state, and he expressed his
gratitude with quiet eloquence, "Two big dreams have come
true for me: returning to Cuba and meeting Fidel Castro."


Prensa Latina isn't fretting over the negative impact of
the kidnappings in Iraq. They simply report them in a
simple and straightforward manner, as you see here:

But as we remember, all this MILITANT faultfinding is
a long-standing and familiar stance for this paper:

We can now confirm, I think, that THE MILITANT has made a
political decision not to run an obituary article on Jon
Hillson. They've got an obituary for Jack Rees, someone 
I didn't know who died March 6th. Hillson died January 29th.

And I've no why THE MILITANT has decided not to say
anything about Hillson's memorial meeting, since he was
such a strong supporter of theirs and they had a table and
the leadoff speaker, Betsey Stone, on behalf of the SWP
Political Committee... Not a lot of gratitude shown for 
all the support which Jon Hillson gave to the SWP...

Jack Rees' obituary:

Jon Hillson's information, to which I continue 
adding material when it come in, can be found:

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