[Marxism] Fw: Supporting Every Anti-Imperialist Group?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 18 07:18:54 MST 2004

DoC wrote:
> Thinking about it, it seems to me that the question is whether it is
> acceptable for comrades in the imperialist centres to hold positions
> which are so seriously detached from the positions of comrades on the
> ground in the colonial areas e.g. for an example the Iraqi CP (and I'm
> not saying I support their position - but just for argument's sake).

I am astonished that you would bring up the Iraqi CP as something that 
would challenge the Leninist perspective. The CP of Nicaragua urged a 
vote for Violetta Chamorro in the 1990 elections, the US's official 
candidate. The CP in Cuba backed the dictator Batista. The CP in South 
Africa has tail-ended the ANC's neoliberalism. Although the CP is part 
of the workers movement, it has had a very mixed record on questions 
such as these, to say the least. There is another Communist Party in 
Iraq, a much smaller but more radical organization. Here is a snippet 
from their critique of the CPI. It points out steps taken by the party 
in compliance with the Governing Council:

--That the Communist Party should reformulate its program and internal 
rules so as to take out from them and from the Party's publications, all 
references to "colonialism", "imperialism", "national independence", 
"defense of the homeland", and any concept that is related to these 
terms. In addition, Bremer must be referred to as "Mr. Bremer" and the 
occupation authorities must be referred to as the "Government of the 

--The Iraqi Communist Party must cooperate with the American Army 
against Islamist and other "saboteurs" who are now bearing arms against 
the occupation. The Party must immediately inform on any suspects, and 
it must actively participate in maintaining security.
No members of the Communist Party must carry any weapons unless licensed 
to do so by the government.

--The Party must focus its celebrations on such occasions as the 9th of 
April, New Year's Day, Christmas, American Independence Day, the 
anniversary of the foundation of the Iraqi Communist Party, and Nawruz.

--The Party must work determinedly to reduce extremism among Shi'ite 
Muslims - the Sadr and al-Khalis Groups - while on the other hand 
working to strengthen the currents of Baqir al-Hakim and Bahr al-'Ulum.

full: http://www.neravt.com/left/war/cadre1.html

> Surely the position of marxists should be coherent irrespective of where
> we find ourselves? Whilst the perspective remains the same the tasks
> (and strategies and slogans) might differ significantly - so I'm not
> going that far. If this is the case then I think we need to come at it
> from a much more judgemental perspective. If that is not the case, then
> I really have to question of what importance/use is the fact that you
> support a group at all.

Let me repeat. There is no "group" at all. There is a loose network of 
fighters organized in cells that has no national spokesman, no clearly 
articulated program, no representatives in other countries, etc. This is 
not like the Zapatistas in Mexico, let alone the FARC. It is an 
embryonic struggle against an occupying army. This is exactly what 
happened at first in France under Nazi rule. Read my review of "Red 
Gold", a historical novel about CP operatives in 1940 to understand the 


In one of the scenes, an abortive attack on a Nazi officer leads to the 
victimization of hundreds of Jews. In another scene, a trade unionist is 
executed by CP'ers just for suspicion of collaboration. Resistance is a 
messy business.

> Furthermore, the justification for this position is that the primary
> task is to defeat US imperialism and thereby capitalism generally.
> Somehow, I don't feel that destroying US imperialism is the be-all and
> end-all anyhow. It's much more than that. Although don't misquote me, it
> would be huge leap forward. But enough of a leap forward for us to
> encourage people to join or lend support to organisations which are
> objectively reactionary? No. Not that important. Besides, the strategy
> pushed by Louis and even Lou would seem to be one of 'containment' as
> opposed to really going for the throat. What you seek is to lessen the
> hegemony of imperialists at home at any cost - even if that cost is in
> the lives of comrades abroad - which it might be in circumstances.

The CP of Iraq is not my "comrades". I have much more sympathy for those 
who shoot down American helicopters while praying to Mecca five times a day.

> Surely, it would have been more correct for them to look at it and say
> the interests of the Vietnamese came first and transcended the interests
> of Soviet Diplomacy and war of maneuvre. Whilst not making that
> comparison directly, the same utilitarian logic runs through what you're
> espousing - if I take you up correctly.

Oh, I see. People who support Iraqi guerrillas against the US occupying 
forces have something in common with Stalin selling out the Vietnamese 
in 1954. How could I have missed this. Must be slipping in my old age.

> key question. Is it enough to say my enemy's enemy is my friend or do we
> need to advocate something more? Even if we critique a movement overseas
> we can still identify it as moving towards socialism generally and
> support it on that basis.

This is not about "friends" and "enemies". This is about class. The US 
ruling class is a reactionary force that is attempting to recolonize the 
Arab and Moslem world in order to control petroleum supplies in the 
waning decades of imperialism. Because of the crisis of socialism, the 
organized left is not a powerful force in this part of the world. It has 
been plagued by Stalinist opportunism as evidenced by the CP of Iraq. It 
has also been plagued by sectarianism such as that of the WCP of Iraq 
and Iran which makes opposition to Islam a kind of litmus test. Needless 
to say, this is not the way to go. In the political vacuum that has 
arisen, Arab nationalists and Islamic radicals have constituted a 
fighting force. It was clear in Marx's writings on the China opium wars 
and the Sepoy rebellion in India that he was sympathetic to those 
fighting against colonialism without worrying about their ideology, 
which had zero to do with socialism. The leader of the rebellion in 
China was a Christian fundamentalist in fact, which Engels effused over 
in terms that would earn the opprobrium of Christopher Hitchens:

"There is evidently a different spirit among the Chinese now. . . . The 
mass of people take an active, nay, a fanatical part in the struggle 
against the foreigners. They poison the bread of the European community 
at Hongkong by wholesale, and with the coolest meditation. . . . The 
very coolies emigrating to foreign countries rise in mutiny, and as if 
by concert, on board every emigrant ship, fight for its possession.. . . 
Civilization mongers who throw hot shell on a defenseless city and add 
rape to murder, may call the system cowardly, barbarous, atrocious; but 
what matter it to the Chinese if it be but successful? . . . We had 
better recognize that this is a war 'pro aris et focis,' a popular war 
for the maintenance of Chinese nationality."

A popular war for the maintenance of the Chinese nationality. This is 
what anti-colonial struggles are about ultimately. You'll notice that 
Engels did not require the fighters to pledge allegiance to the 
Communist Manifesto or even disavow capitalism.

> The equivalent questions on Iraq would be: Do we support the Shia
> resistance? Do we support the Kurdish resistance? Do we support the
> Baathist resistance? Do we support ex-army resistance? And how do we
> expect marxists living in Iraq to support and engage with these groups?
> Is that what we mean when we say we support them? Or does it mean 'We
> oppose our own imperialists'.

It is really quite simple. We must oppose collaborators with US 
imperialism. They are the enemies of humanity.


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