[Marxism] Socialist Action on Libya and Syria - Reply to Andrew Pollock

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Oct 22 07:18:57 MDT 2016

On 10/22/16 8:58 AM, Joseph Green via Marxism wrote:
> But it's not a bastardization of Trotsky's view
> of anti-imperialism, it's directly in line with it.

So you think it was wrong to support Ethiopia against fascist Italy's 
invasion? As I pointed out, precapitalist revolts against capitalist 
states, especially in MENA, don't fit neatly into stagist schemas as I 
pointed out by referring to Omar Mukhtar. I should add that this is a 
very old debate that pitted Eduard Bernstein against Belfort Bax:


Within a few years, the Second International would become embroiled in a 
controversy that pitted Eduard Bernstein against the revolutionary wing 
of the movement, including British Marxist Belford Bax and Rosa 
Luxemburg. Using arguments similar to Hardt and Negri's, Bernstein said 
that colonialism was basically a good thing since it would hasten the 
process of drawing savages into capitalist civilization, a necessary 
first step to building communism.

In a January 5, 1898 article titled "The Struggle of Social Democracy 
and the Social Revolution," Bernstein makes the case for colonial rule 
over Morocco. Drawing from English socialist Cunningham Graham's travel 
writings, Bernstein states there is absolutely nothing admirable about 
Morocco. In such countries where feudalism is mixed with slavery, a firm 
hand is necessary to drag the brutes into the civilized world:

"There is a great deal of sound evidence to support the view that, in 
the present state of public opinion in Europe, the subjection of natives 
to the authority of European administration does not always entail a 
worsening of their condition, but often means the opposite. However much 
violence, fraud, and other unworthy actions accompanied the spread of 
European rule in earlier centuries, as they often still do today, the 
other side of the picture is that, under direct European rule, savages 
are *without exception better off* than they were before...

"Am I, because I acknowledge all this, an 'adulator' of the present? If 
so, let me refer Bax to The Communist Manifesto, which opens with an 
'adulation' of the bourgeoisie which no hired hack of the latter could 
have written more impressively. However, in the fifty years since the 
Manifesto was written the world has advanced rather than regressed; and 
the revolutions which have been accomplished in public life since then, 
especially the rise of modern democracy, have not been without influence 
on the doctrine of social obligation." (Marxism and Social Democracy, p. 

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