[Marxism] Re: Elections in Iraq

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Nov 19 20:22:52 MST 2004

I think that Intense Red (How intense? More than thou?) is on to
something important when
he portrays the elections as being a "red herring."  This IS IN NO WAY,
a  decisive question for the struggle in Iraq or the struggle against
the war.  Any idea that the
struggle for independence requires preventing the elections -- and
especially that the calls for a
boycott should be enforced by the groups against people who want to
participate -- is a trap for the
fighters. A phony confrontation over the rebels 
The elections, like bourgeois elections generally (except when the
masses participate as an organized, 
mass force pursuing their own interests as in Venezuela or when there is
a Labor Party MOVEMENT 
developing in the working class) do not change anything in the class
struggle, and will not affect the basic
and outcome of the struggle.  
On another list, Andy Pollack cited an imperialist news article, which
presented the boycott of the forty groups 
as centering on a threat by one group  that anyone who participated
would be executed. That is the framework that the US media is going to
present the elections in.  To the extent that the Resistance can be
conned into buying this bourgeois-electoralist
myth that this election is a decisive battle, imperialism will gain.
The group was not one of the familiar ones.  Most of the time Iraqis do
not have any way of knowing who is really responsible for some threat or
act of violence -- whether it is the resistance or gangsters or
super-sectarians or criminal gangs or individual revenge-seekers or some
front set up by the US or the Allawi ex-Baathists. If a serial killer is
looking for a place to work without a lot of publicity and police
activity, Iraq is probably ideal.   While I am certain that the US is
carrying out a real COINTELPRO horror show there, I can't prove it and
speculating about who is responsible usually gets nowhere.
If the mainstream of the wings of the resistance that favor boycott
think things through -- and I am convinced they are learning to do that
-- they will stay away from making preventing the elections a goal, and
stick to explaining the phoniness of the occupation elections.  In
particular, there will be no attempt to  ENFORCE the boycott among the
As Lenin said correctly, an electoral  boycott works when the masses can
prevent an enemy "democratic" institution from coming into being.  That
will be decided in the overall struggle, not by a violent struggle over
the elections. The successful boycolts are real "mass actions".  They
are not enforced by armed people or armed actions, and the attempts by
radicals to respond to bourgeois elections this way has always failed.
The imperialists have learned by experience to attribute such attempts
to them, even when the anti-imperialist forces are smart enough to avoid
The US imperialists have become specialists in framing the struggle this
way -- in Vietnam, where every electoral farce that went by without
giant attacks by the resistance being sold as a glorious act of defiance
by the people.  The liberation forces pretty much let them go,  exposed
the farces in propaganda, and continued to fight as though no "decisive
turning point" was taking place since none was.  This framing of the
issue (sometimes with the rebels falling into the trap) was also an aid
to imperialist propaganda and division efforts in Venezuela in the early
1960s, in El Salvador,  and in other cases.  But wherever the rebels
were defeated it was  not because of the "success" of the elections but
other factors.
Iraqis have not had a bourgeois-democratic election farce since the late
'50s, I believe.  There are going to be sections of the population who
will want to try to express an opinion in this form, since it is the
only governmental form for doing so.  This will be especially true among
the Shia who hope to establish their own government.  Will the US allow
this? Of will they  allow a Shia government and face conflicts over the
attempts of this government to act independently?  The resistance can
gain either way, particularly if it rejects the US claims about the
centrality of holding or preventing the election.
'Blocking a new constitution." "Preventing the handover." "Preventing
the electoral conferences." "Preventing the elections."  Everyone of
these lies has been used -- above all to the US public who will also be
the main target of the election performance, and will be organized to
interpret it in terms of an alleged battle "to prevent people from
voting." Unless other factors cripple the occupation and break the
current government, this will end as always in glorious "victory" when
people vote without much interference from the rebels.  But this changes
Bourgeois electoral illusions are dead wrong even if the imperialists
themselves share them or pretend to.  (Personally I think Bush may have
electoral illusions about whether an election has given him a "free
hand."  Don't freak out.  He is cruising for a bruising.
Fred Feldman  
 This issue of elections of the Iraq is becoming a red herring, IMHO.
face it: the US ruling class only cares about elections when it suits
While the facade of democracy would be nice for them, they'll spin the 
outcome no matter what happens.

   We've seen the US rigging elections before, even in "advanced"
like Italy and France, so should we actually worry about the Iraqi
IMHO, Iraq will be solved militarily, either with a victory by the US
brutal terrorism on Iraqi citizens or by the resistance.

   The recent boycott by dozens of largely Sunni parties plays into the
hands, I fear.  It's not that it would effect the outcome whether those 
parties participated or not -- the US will cook the results to suit them
Allawi or some other stooge will be elected.  But by having them boycott
elections, the US will simply say "it's their choice" and have one less 
obstacle.  One could argue that a boycott would undermine "legitimacy",
let's be serious -- does anyone think Allawi's gov't or the US invasion
legit?  I hardly think the world is going to change its mind over one 

   The key to all this, I think, is the Shiite bloc.  I have no doubt
that the 
Shiites -- or any other group with a "US out" agenda -- will be allowed
"win" the elections.  But the Shiites seem to be placing a lot of stock
the electoral process and since al Sadr's withdrawl, have been somewhat
on the resistance front.  Will the elections be the spark that brings
Shiites into the resistance on a grand scale?  That would have to be the
worst-case scenario, but the question is up in the air.  Thoughts?

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