[Marxism] Submission re: Syria

hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Thu Nov 12 14:50:57 MST 2015

I greatly appreciate the kind words and insightful comments. However, just to push back respectfully and stimulate discussion, two points:

A) The Stalin national question is laid out first in the 1914 book OF MARXISM AND THE NATIONAL QUESTION, which Lenin wholeheartedly embraced, and it was in that book that the two stage theory is outlined. Trots of the more grouchy variation, in my experience, are prone to emphasize that they think Stalin plagiarized the work from others and that Lenin impacted how it was written in a major way.

2) The emir was used as an example but not a solitary one, he was invoked to justify Soviet backing of Chiang Kai Shek in China and other bourgeois anti-imperial national liberation fighters.

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart 

> On Nov 12, 2015, at 2:02 PM, Joseph Green <jgreen at communistvoice.org> wrote:
> Andrew Stewart wrote:
>> Per the recent controversy re: Syria, I composed this piece to provide a
>> brief ideological background, I think it goes very deeply into an Old Left
>> fight between Trotsky and Lenin. Special thanks to Louis Proyect and other
>> voices on this list that aided in this effort, I could not have done it
>> without your vital aid.
>> http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/10/what-spain-in-1936-teaches-us-about-syria-in-2015/
> The theoretical issue raised by Andrew Stewart is of a great deal of 
> interest. Stalin and Trotsky present themselves as polar opposites, but in 
> reality both separated anti-imperialism from the class struggle and from 
> Leninist anti-imperialism.  
> Stewart points to Stalin's famous passage in "The Foundations of Leninism" 
> concerning the Emir of Afghanistan and "the revolutionary character of a 
> national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression". I analyzed 
> this passage in detail in my article "Anti-imperialism and the class 
> struggle" from June 2002 (www.communistvoice.org/29cEmir.html). At the time 
> Stalin was writing, the then-Emir of Afghanistan was not a bloodstained 
> dictator like Bashar al-Assad, but a reformer, who sought both to introduce 
> domestic reforms in Afghanistan and to preserve Afghan independence against 
> British imperialism. It was correct for the the Soviet Union to develop 
> relations with the Emir's government; this did not betray the popular 
> movement in Afghanistan. However, Stalin went overboard in painting the Emir 
> as a revolutionary. Stalin's theorizing was a problem even then, and it later 
> has been used as a theoretical basis for such monstrous crimes as supporting 
> the Taliban as "anti-imperialist". Indeed, the article I linked to discusses 
> Stalin's stand with reference to the debate on that time against those who 
> regarded the Taliban as anti-imperialist.
> The same article also deals with Trotsky's stand with respect to Emperor 
> Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. Just as it was correct for the Soviet Union at 
> that time to support the Emir of Afghanistan against British imperialism, it 
> was correct for Trotsky to back the Ethiopian government against Italian 
> invasion in the 1930s. But just as Stalin went overboard in painting the Emir 
> as a revolution, Trotsky went overboard in painting Haile Selassie as a 
> revolutionary. He dreamed that Selassie would perform revolutionary deeds 
> that would "mean a mighty blow not only at Italian imperialism but at 
> imperialism as a whole, and would lend a powerful impulsion to the rebellious 
> forces of the opressed peoples". In reality, Selassie fled Ethiopia right 
> after Trotsky dreamed that he might be a new Cromwell or Robespierre (those 
> were strange models for a socialist to put forward in the 20th century, but 
> that's Trotsky for you), and the Ethiopian people were left to fight the 
> occupiers by themselves. When Selassie returned to Ethiopia, he did his best 
> to continue absolutist rule.
> Thus both Stalin and Trotsky, despite apparently opposite theories, were 
> overboard in painting various figures as revolutionaries. And both Stalin's 
> theorizing on the Emir of Afghanistan, and Trotsky's theorizing on Haile 
> Selassie, were used by some groups to defend the Taliban's struggle. These 
> groups regard themselves as great anti-imperialists, but they are non-class 
> anti-imperialists, who are dragging the good name of anti-imperialism through 
> the mud.
> Leninist anti-imperialism is quite different from either Trotsky's version of 
> permanent revolution or Stalin's version of multi-stage revolution. I wrote 
> about Lenin's views in "An outline of Leninist anti-imperialism" 
> (www.communistvoice.org/29cOutline.html). It is Leninist theory, and neither 
> Trotskyism nor Stalinism, that provides a theoretical basis for a true 
> anti-imperialist stand with regard to the current world. And such a stand 
> shows the need to back the mass struggle against the vicious Ba'ath 
> dictatorship, which has suppressed political life in Syria for about half a 
> century.
> -- Joseph Green

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