[Marxism] For or against the Assad regime ? (Socialist Defeatism)

dan d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Thu Aug 23 12:55:50 MDT 2012

Marxists, and I may add non-Marxist Socialists of the 19th and 20th 
century, have had, as you all know, a hard time trying to see the 
"progressive" quality in one party to a war over another.

"No war between nations, no peace between classes" as 
Anarcho-Syndicalist leader Emile Pouget (one of the founders of the 
French CGT) wrote, at the time an intelligent assessment of Imperialist 
Capitalism of the 188o0-1920 variety. And of course, his rejoinder was 
not heeded, as the 1st World War saw the various Socialist-Democrat and 
even Revolutionary Socialist masses of each nation enthusiastically 
supporting war against their neighbours and "National Unity" governments.

Then there is "Socialist Defeatism". Russian revolutionaries (not all of 
them Bolsheviks) welcomed the defeat of Imperial Russia at the hands of 
Imperial Japan. Not that Imperial Japan was progressive in anyway, quite 
the opposite in fact (peasants being ruthlessly enslaved to provide for 
a rapid industrialization policy, much the same as Mao would latter 
implement in order to get his atomic bomb), but rather because it meant 
defeat for the more reactionary elements influencing Czarist policy and 
thereby hasten Revolution in Russia.

OF course, Lenin never paused to consider the fact that defeat for 
Imperial Japan might have halted the process of triumphant nationalism 
that was sweeping Japan at the time.

And so the debate has raged on. The 1960s and 1970s was awash with 
"Socialist Defeatist" rhetoric, i.e. "Ho Chi Minh is no angel BUT he is 
confronting US Imperialism".
The 1980s and 1990s saw a period of each Socialist sect trying to 
decipher which party to an armed conflict was most meritious.
Socialist Defeatism was no longer a clear-cut category of US Imperialism 
vs. everybody else, as Capitalism was in a phase of global triumph in 
which almost all the nations of the earth were Capitalist and fiercely 

So, in the 2010s we have "Gaddhafi is a bastard BUT at least he is 
fighting the US and the EU, THEREFORE it is essential for 
Revolutionaries to promote Socialist Defeatism because it will deliver a 
blow to the prestige of the governing elites in the "Central Capitalist 
States" and THUS bring the working class to a greater degree of class- 
consciousness and empowerment over its destiny"
Which is countered by "Gaddafi is as much a tool of Global Capitalism as 
Obama, THEREFORE his defeat is a strong signal that the domination of 
one clique over a country is no longer to be tolerated and THUS bring 
the working class to a greater degree of class consciousness and 
empowerment over its destiny."

This uncertainty among Revolutinary Socialists is a sign of the changes 
that have occurred in the mode of production since the 1970s

We are now in a situation that is different from that of the 1880-1920 
period of Imperialism or the 1950-1970 Cold War era.

So back to Assad. Revolutionary Defeatism (i.e. Anti-Imperialism) or 
"Human RIghts"-ism (Parliamentarianism is a step in the right direction 
for the masses on a scale from Authoritarian Regime to Communism) or 
State Disintegration as fight between religious communities leading to 
"War Lordism" ???

Personally, I am in favour of the emancipation of all human beings and 
the common ownership of all means of production, resulting in the 
withering away of domination, exploitation, hierarchical and class 
relationships. None of the forces embroiled in the bitter civil war in 
Syria pursue this objective. The fact that Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia 
are at war only remind me that religion is a powerful force wielded by 
the elite in power to achieve the subjection of a population.

More information about the Marxism mailing list