[Marxism] Riddel and others expelled from Communist League over Iraq
Ernie & Jess
mackenzie.tate at sympatico.ca
Mon Apr 19 13:17:23 MDT 2004
Some participants on this list may have seen, in recent
months, John Riddel's letters to the Militant calling into question the
paper's line on the struggle for national liberation in Iraq. I have
just learned that he, along with Roger Annis and a few others, have been
kicked out of the Communist League's supporters' group here, in a very
arbitrary fashion for defending the right to self-determination in Iraq
and for raising, in the Communist Leagues meeting for supporters,
objections to the group's line that the March 20th anti-war
demonstration in Toronto was primarily "nationalist" and reactionary.
Roger Annis is a long time leader, living on the West Coast.
John was for many years the central leader of the Fourth
International group here, beginning in the late fifties, if my memory
serves me right. He is an important intellectual in his own right and he
has made a worthy contribution to revolutionary socialism through his
work on the early Communist International.
I think the articl below is very good and should be circulated widely.
Is Iraq the new Vietnam?
By Roger Annis and John Riddell
The world's attention has been riveted this month on Iraq. Brutal
assaults by U.S. forces have been met by fierce resistance across much
of the country. This has dealt the occupiers a sharp political blow.
Thousands of Iraqis have taken up arms to oppose the occupation forces.
Grass-roots solidarity between Iraqis of Sunni and Shiite communities is
growing. Protests across Iraq have condemned the failure of occupation
authorities to restore basic public services and to improve the
catastrophic economic conditions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have
rallied to oppose the attempt to impose a U.S.-controlled constitution
Entire cities, such as Fallujah, and large neighborhoods in other towns
and cities have become “no-go” zones for the occupiers, who, in turn,
have mounted sieges and carried out horrific acts of reprisal.
After a year of occupation, the U.S. and its allies seem further than
ever from imposing their will on the Iraqi people. Around the world,
people are saying, "Iraq is the new Vietnam."
The comparison of Iraq to Vietnam is made by people in two opposed
camps, for quite different reasons.
U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy and other capitalist political leaders raise
this cry to pressure the U.S. rulers into allying more closely with its
imperialist rivals and thereby to shore up the beleaguered occupation.
Opponents of the war and occupation, by contrast, refer to Vietnam in
order to underline the gravity of events in Iraq and express their hope
that the courageous Iraqi fighters, like the Vietnamese before them,
will ultimately drive out the invaders and win their country's independence.
In this second sense, the comparison is accurate. In Iraq, as in
Vietnam, the world's mightiest military power has hurled its formidable
means of destruction at a small, poor, and defenseless nation--only to
be confounded by a people that refuses to surrender and that fights back
against all odds. But the comparison is helpful only if we understand
how the Vietnamese won their long struggle for independence.
In the course of a 40-year independence struggle, the Vietnamese people
overcame numerous imperialist occupiers, principally Japan, France, and
the United States. Taking inspiration from the Russian revolution of
1917, they forged an authoritative liberation movement, overcame the
phony division between “north” and “south” Vietnam, and carried out an
anticapitalist social revolution.
Arrogant and merciless, the U.S. government refused to heed the voices
of world protest against the war in Vietnam, even when a clear majority
of U.S. citizens favored withdrawal. A succession of Democratic and
Republican party administrations responded to every setback by extending
the war geographically and escalating the level of destruction, until
the number of Vietnamese dead numbered not thousands but millions.
The massive international movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam
coincided with a rise of revolutionary struggles around the world.
Radical, working-class governments came to power in countries such as
Cuba and Algeria. In Africa and the Middle East, peoples threw out their
colonial masters and achieved independence. Millions strove to carry out
Che Guevara's call to "Create two, three, many Vietnams."
In Canada, the movement against the war condemned Canadian government
complicity with Washington. It was reinforced by the rise of a mass
struggle in Quebec for independence and by a rise of labor struggles
throughout the country.
In the United States, the antiwar movement coincided with the
revolutionary struggle for Black freedom. The fighting capacity of U.S.
forces in Vietnam was sharply reduced as soldiers, influenced by the
heroism of the Vietnamese people and the firestorm of protest around the
world, became convinced that the war was immoral and unjust. By the
early 1970s, the pillars of capitalist stability in the U.S. were
beginning to shake.
Only when all other options were closed did the U.S. turn tail and run,
shamefully refusing to pay a penny for the devastation it had caused
New beginning in Iraq
The Iraqi people, by comparison, are only now setting out on the long
road to liberation. The progressive impulse of their 1958 national,
democratic revolution was dashed by the Baath Party dictatorship under
Saddam Hussein. Only now are they beginning to organize again, and they
have not yet established an authoritative, progressive leadership.
Among the world's governments, their only reliable friend is faraway Cuba.
Yet this is a time of great economic uncertainty and instability in the
imperialist home countries. Working people and youth in the U.S.,
Canada, and elsewhere are told to accept the so-called “war on
terrorism,” yet we find our conditions of life and work and our
democratic rights under unprecedented attack. In most Third World
countries, social catastrophe is unfolding. Latin America is gripped by
a rise of mass struggles, most notably in Venezuela. In the Mideast,
there is deep opposition to the brutal attacks on the Palestinian people
and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Altogether, these are favorable conditions for bringing new forces into
the fight against the occupation of Iraq and making the connection
between struggles there and at home.
Mass demonstrations against the occupation will not in themselves
convince the warmakers to change course. But they provide tangible
solidarity with the embattled Iraqis. And they form an indispensable
part of building a worldwide movement committed to driving U.S.,
Canadian, and other occupation forces out of the Middle East and,
ultimately, overthrowing imperialist power entirely.
In Canada, we have a special responsibility to oppose the warmakers in
this country. The Canadian government speaks hypocritically of peace
while assisting the U.S. war in Iraq and sending its own forces to
occupy Afghanistan, Haiti, and other countries.
May Iraq's April uprising inspire us to redouble our efforts for Iraqi
independence and freedom. Let us continue to organize protest and
resistance, demanding: Occupation forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan;
freedom for the Palestinians.
--April 16, 2004
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