[Marxism] FW: Socialists and wars in the 21st century - The case of Syria

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Fri Nov 11 13:42:41 MST 2016

On 2016-11-11 19:21, Richard Fidler via Marxism wrote:
> Full: http://tinyurl.com/zr8mq7f

Thank you for this thoughtful article. I think one of the problems one 
faces in a discussion around how to be antiwar in practice, is that the 
discussion is crippled by the one-dimensional framework of pro-war 
versus anti-war. For all the antiwar movements I have supported or 
participated in, the actual content is never really limited to "opposing 
war." While the existence of war is a sad commentary on the backwardness 
of the human race, the solution to that backwardness is in removing the 
causes of war. Only strict pacifists always advise both sides in a war 
to simply put down their guns and stop fighting. In practice, one side 
following this advise only allows victory for the other power.

Thus in Vietnam "antiwar" meant that the US and its allies should stop 
their war-making, NOT that the Vietnamese should stop their war of 
liberation. Opposition to the Contra war in Nicaragua, again, was in 
reference to the U.S. which created and supplied those forces, not a 
call for the Sandanistas to stop the defense of their country (anymore 
than we would have opposed the revolutionary war they had conducted 
against Somoza). When we had "antiwar" demonstrations against the 
impending Iraq war, we never meant that the Iraqis should abandon their 
military defenses. In all such examples, "antiwar" really meant opposing 
the war-making of one side, but in effect justifying the military 
efforts of the oppressed nation under attack. It was only because the 
main enemy in each case were our own imperialist ruling classes that the 
term "antiwar" was a convenient and popularly formulated slogan 
expressing that content, in which we were actually (and unashamedly!) 
taking sides.

That is why an "antiwar" movement in the West in relation to Syria is an 
oxymoron. Obviously the revolution and civil war in Syria was not a 
result of any war-making on the part of Western imperialism (despite 
various fictions to the contrary). We should take the side of the 
oppressed in Syria every bit as much as we did in the above examples. 
But (unless you live in Russia or Iran) using the term "antiwar" doesn't 
really specify which side you are on. And using that term robotically 
can only increase confusion and promote the myth that their revolution 
was a Western imperialist plot. In other words, the discussion that 
Richard Fidler encroached upon was already distorted by the starting 
point: how to build an "antiwar" movement in the West. Rather we need to 
start with the concept of building a solidarity movement with the 
oppressed. Only from that starting point can we formulate popular 
slogans and demands, and determine if and how terms such as "antiwar" 
can be applied to those efforts.

- Jeff

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