[Marxism] Submission re: Syria

Angelo Foscari angelo.foscari at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Nov 24 12:19:56 MST 2015


Very interesting
--------------------------------------------
On Thu, 12/11/15, Joseph Green via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:


 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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