For your reference:

Trotskyist ''Spartacist League''
on the ''Defend Iraq'' slogan

. Below is how the Spartacist League replied to the article from the Marxist-Leninist Party entitled "Should the anti-war movement 'defend Iraq'?" (from The Workers' Advocate, December 1, 1990), which denounced the Trotskyist stand of giving "military support" to the Hussein regime under the guise of "defending Iraq". This is from the January 18, 1991 issue of Workers Vanguard, biweekly paper put out by the central apparatus of the Spartacist League. It is the relevant section of the article "Break with the imperialist ''doves''! For labor strikes against the war! Down with the two war parties!'' The Marxist-Lenininst Party replied to the Spartacist League in a three-part series. Part one of this reply appeared in the Feb. 20, 1991 issue of the Workers' Advocate Supplement.

. In contrast to the ISO cynics, the Marxist-Leninist Party (MLP), an odd Stalinist sect which hails Enver Hoxha (the departed Stalinist boss of Albania), openly polemicizes against defending Iraq while denouncing as reformist the two January demonstrations. The MLP sees no difference between military defense of Iraq and political support to Saddam Hussein, and therefore accuses sundry "Trotskyists" of perpetrating "a total fraud" (Workers' Advocate, 1 December 1990). "In the real world," they say, "you can't separate the military from the political." So to defend Nicaragua against Yankee imperialism you have to politically support the Sandinistas? To defend the Spanish Republic against Franco you have to politically support the popular front? To defend the Teamsters against government union-busters you have to politically support the corrupt sellout bureaucracy?

. Taking out WWP and ISO for their undercover "support" for Iraq, while falsely accusing them of being Trotskyists, the MLP doesn't even mention the Spartacist League. They do, however, read Workers Vanguard, and felt compelled to polemicize against a quotation we used from Lenin and Zinoviev's 1919 pamphlet Socialism and War:

"For example, if tomorrow, Morocco were to declare war on France, or India on Britain, or Persia or China on Russia, and so on, these would be 'just', and 'defensive' wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack: any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressive, slave-holding and predatory 'Great' Powers. '' [Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 21, pp. 300-301, near the beginning of Chapter I, under the heading "The difference between wars of aggression and of defense"--ed. ]

. Now that's clear enough, but these "Marxist-Leninists" can't see "any parallel" of Iraq vs. the U.S. today with "the hypothetical wars Lenin was discussing." Why not? Because India was a colony. So what about China? Well, Hussein is a reactionary who didn't want a confrontation with imperialism. But as we pointed out, "When Lenin wrote this, Morocco was ruled by the sultan Mulai Yusuf, Persia by the military dictator Ephraim Khan and China by the warlord Yuan Shih-kai--rulers just as bloody and reactionary as Iraq's Saddam Hussein."

. American imperialism certainly qualifies hands down as a "predatory great power" which must be defeated. The MLP states, correctly that "Saddam deserves to be overthrown but it's not up to Washington to deal with him--that's a task before the Iraqi and other oppressed peoples of that region."' And a victorious defense of Iraq against the imperialist military juggernaut would enormously embolden the working masses in Iraq and throughout the Near East. For would-be communists not to see that is to be willfully blind.

. Aside from its quirky theorizing, pushing further and further back the historical moment when the "communist movement" went wrong while still clinging to Stalinism, the MLP's contradiction lies in its desire to be the left wing of a "movement. " Its criticism of "the movement" is that somehow the reformists are dupes of their liberal bloc partners! Workers' Advocate (1 January) declares "defy the liberals, don't split the movement!" Yet while it makes "left" criticisms, the MLP's own program remains very much in the popular-front framework. Take their front-page headline. "Take to the streets against Bush's war." This is an appeal for a pro-Democratic Party "peace" movement. The Spartacist League calls for labor political strikes against the bipartisan imperialist war! We say the workers in Iraq and the U. S. need a revolutionary, vanguard party to lead them and the oppressed masses in struggle for socialist revolution. <>

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Last changed on March 13, 2003.