[Marxism] re: Supporting the resistance?

M. Junaid Alam mjunaidalam at msalam.net
Fri Apr 22 11:49:59 MDT 2005

While I agree with the political point Louis is making here about the 
need to create a broad-based and deeply-rooted anti-war movement, and 
that such a movement would be objectively anti-imperialist, I think 
there is some confusion on how this relates to characterizing the 
resistance and the necessity of confronting this.

The main problem, in my opinion, is that smearing the resistance is part 
and parcel of pro-occupation politics. That there are leftists who favor 
immediate withdrawal while condemning the resistance carte blanche does 
not really matter. To the extent they are demonizing the resistance, 
they feed into the sense that the occupation should continue. That is 
the crux of the matter.

It is a very, very slippery slope from demonizing the resistance to 
acquiescing to the occupation. The process is clear: "if the insurgents 
are so murderous and insane, well then who will protect the Iraqi 
people? Obviously, Americans are needed to protect the Iraqis from the 
insurgents. After all, we can't leave the Iraqis at the mercy of the 
barbarians." This framework is false to the core, because the real 
choice for the Iraqis is not between evil insurgents and American 
saviors. Rather, it is one of having to cope with the far more murderous 
American military forces, which in turns generates the more 
fundamentalist resistance forces in the first place, or  confronting 
backward sectors of the resistance - who would no longer have the excuse 
of the US occupation to prop up their behavior if the occupation ended - 
as a free society unburdened by the occupation, with the help of genuine 
resistance forces whose goal really was to end the occupation.

All the handwringing and caricatures about the resistance serve to 
conceal the real choice the Iraqis face. It engenders a pro-occupation 
ideological framework among Americans. That is why it is necessary to 
confront the Ehrenreichs and Kleins within the anti-war movement.

The other problem with Louis' point is that he counterposes this effort 
with the task of building a broad anti-war movement among the masses. 
This would make sense if the ISO and other socialists were running 
around with ultra-left "Victory to the NLF!"-type banners in mass 
demonstrations, alienating people left and right. But the harsh truth is 
that the masses are not actively anti-war to begin with. It's not as if 
there's a sea of anti-war Americans who are being alienated by 
"pro-resistance" politics, for instance.

The polls may show dissatisfaction with the war, but they also show most 
people accept the necessity of the occupation: most people simply don't 
care enough to do anything about it. Two or three Americans dying every 
one or two days isn't a mobilizing force, it seems. Even among students, 
the anti-war movement is weak as a national force. There are small, 
scattered anti-recruitment and anti-war efforts, and in a handful of 
colleges these are quite strong. But there is nothing like a national 
movement, or any kind of general social upheaval taking place among any 
sector of the population. T

This is a different problem entirely. It is not a function of the debate 
among anti-war activists and intellectuals about the nature of the 
resistance, but of the general deadness of American class and social 
consciousness. That is the difference between the 1960's and now.

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