[Marxism] Re: Al Qaeda-Emerging NewInternationalResistance to Imperialism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 22 07:40:34 MST 2004

Tony Abdo wrote:
> Several people have commented that Al Qaeda is not really concerned with 
> opinion in the imperialist countries. But I don't think that that is the 
> actual case, myself. I believe that Al Qaeda is absolutely convinced 
> that the imperialist countries do not have the stomach for waging war 
> when it is brought home to them directly.  Which leads to my next 
> point.  Al Qaeda does not see their actions as terrorism, but as a 
> military operation against foreign powers that are active in persecuting 
> Islam and the people who believe in Islam, in those countries where 
> Muslims live.

It doesn't matter how they see it. From a Marxist standpoint, it is 
terrorism. They believe that small bands of militants can transform 
society by using well-placed bombs. This is all that terrorism is. It 
has never led to national emancipation or socialism anywhere in the 
world. Even though Lenin and Trotsky were speaking about the Narodniks, 
the same *political* lessons apply.

"In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it 
belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles 
them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a 
great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his 
mission. The anarchist prophets of the 'propaganda of the deed' can 
argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of 
terrorist acts on the masses. Theoretical considerations and political 
experience prove otherwise. The more 'effective' the terrorist acts, the 
greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in 
self-organisation and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion 
clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered 
minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the 
wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police 
repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of 
the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement comes 
disillusionment and apathy."


Although Trotsky refers to "individual" terror, you have to realize that 
Russian populism was a rather pervasive trend. It had much more social 
and political support than al-Qaeda in fact. The SR Party of Kerensky, 
which held power in April 1917, grew out of these populist groups. In 
any case, there was about as much likelihood of the SR's leading Russia 
to socialism as there is al-Qaeda ridding the Moslem world of the 
infidels. The main problem with al-Qaeda is its ineffectiveness even on 
its own terms. In the very country where it derives its key cadre and 
financial support, it has been utterly impotent: Saudi Arabia. If the 
west is thrown out of Saudi Arabia, it will be as a result of mass 
mobilization--not blowing up the housing compounds of Europeans. You can 
always find people to replace them, especially when the wages are so 
high. Imperialism is fundamentally a question of CLASS RELATIONS, not 
brick and mortar.

> Sept 11 was not an operation of American civilians against American 
> civilians, whcih would have made it a classical act of terrorism. 

There is no such thing as "classical" terrorism. Terrorism can certainly 
be directed at foreigners. That's how WWI started, when Archduke 
Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serb.

> However, the catalyst of actually carrying out a military attack inside 
> the US has had such an impact politically, that the entire dynamics of 
> imperialist control over the Third World has been permanently altered. 

Of course. It has given the USA the excuse to send troops everywhere in 
the world, especially in the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia. This 
was the equivalent of a Reichstag fire, even though I don't think that a 
conspiracy was afoot.

> The US now has a volunteer army full of volunteers who don't want 
> another round of duty. And meanwhile, these troops are now supported by 
> a civilian base, that believes that their government is ultimately not 
> going to be effective in providing security from another military 
> strike, for both themselves and their families. Al Qaeda has succeeded 
> in their military objective, of creating US popular fear of further 
> engagement with Third World, and most especially Muslim Third World, 
> forces. All this is quite a change from less than 3 years previous.

This has nothing to do with al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is not delivering 
stinging blows to the US occupying forces. It, or its sympathizing 
Kurdish outfit, seems much more capable of blowing up Shia mosques. The 
US population could care less if Moslems are being killed. It only cares 
if GI's are being killed. The resistance to US occupation is coming from 
secular Baathist and nationalist forces or from religious activists with 
no ties to al-Qaeda, according to most reports in the media.

> A lot has been made of the fact that Al Qaeda's warfare was extremely 
> low tech, launched against an arsenal that is extremely high tech. There 
> is a point that Al Qaeda was trying to make. The point being, that all 
> the US high tech cannot entirely and permanently close every small 
> opening, where upon that a military strike can be launched against the 
> US. There is no 'star wars missile defense' that can protect against 
> 'us'.  'We' are prepared to engage in warfare on American soil, and 'we' 
> are no more likely than the US government itself to abide by 
> international norms of conduct in warfare. So stop your government from 
> doing as they have been doing.

So stop your government from doing as they have been doing? That 
requires conscious intervention by the working class and the peasantry, 
not Egyptian bluebloods trained in the awful Moslem Brotherhood 
directing the murder of working people who are their potential allies.


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