[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 
and government.

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."

Opposed camps

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.

Revolutionary victory

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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