Sham militancy or real struggle

(from the Workers' Advocate Supplement, Arpil 20, 1991)


An anti-imperialism without the people
Real anti-imperialism is based on the toilers

. The April 1, 1991 issue of the "Workers' Advocate" carried the article "Lessons from the anti-war movement/Militancy or no?" The following article on further lessons from the war was left out for lack of space.

. The war in the Persian Gulf raised the question of how to fight imperialism. Different activists and groups in the anti-war movement had different views on this.

. Most Trotskyist groups had their own version of anti-imperialism. They claimed it meant giving the slogan "defend Iraq" (Spartacist League) or "victory to Iraq" (RWL) or some variant. With these slogans, they meant "military support" for Saddam Hussein's regime, which is a brutal tyranny over the Iraqi toilers.

. For these groups, there were only two sides: Bush and Saddam Hussein. Therefore, they held, to oppose Bush, you had to render "military support" to Saddam Hussein.

. We, on the contrary, declared from the start that the only true anti-imperialism was to support the toiling masses in Iraq as well as the United States. We stressed opposition to US imperialism, which is both "our own" exploiter and the leading world imperialist policeman. At the same time, we held that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, and his invasion of Kuwait had nothing to do with anti-imperialism or the interests of the Iraqi people. There was nothing to choose in the squabble between the world bully Bush and the regional bully Hussein. Anti-imperialism required opposing the war machines and oppressive systems of both sides.

. We opposed support for either Bush or Saddam, but instead stood for the development of the revolutionary movement in the US as well as in Iraq and the Middle East.

. The tragic war has verified that Saddam's anti-popular tyranny had nothing anti-imperialist in it. It was a thin reed to rely on, and a dishonorable stand for anyone claiming to be a friend of the toilers.

. And the popular revolts against Hussein have verified that there was indeed a third force in this situation, the toiling masses. Whatever the immediate outcome of the revolts, it has been revealed even to the blind that the Iraqi people hate tyranny.

. Furthermore, Bush and the Pentagon didn't welcome the popular revolts against Hussein. Instead they breathed easier with every setback to these movements, and even gave Hussein some room to suppress them.

An anti-imperialism without the people

. But how have the advocates of "military support to Hussein" reacted?

. So far we only have their initial views. They have been annoyed with the struggle against tyranny and hinted that the revolts against Hussein are simply a creation of imperialism or other regimes.

. A flagrant example is the March 1 issue of RWL's Fighting Worker. It is headlined "Avenge Iraq!" Perhaps, the reader may think, RWL has seen the light and wants to avenge the Iraqi masses for the crimes of both U. S. imperialism and Hussein's tyranny? Not at all. They are still rendering their "military support" to Hussein's regime. They go so far as to denounce the Iraqi soldiers who refused to die to the last man for Hussein and instead surrendered en masse. And they praise the Republican Guard, the elite troops of the regime which are now engaged in massacring the people.

. Is this because RWL didn't yet know about the popular uprising?

. Not at all.

. It had already broken out. And RWL wasn't pleased.

. RWL still doesn't look to the masses in Iraq, but instead blames the world for the fiasco of its "defend Iraq" slogan. Why, according to them, if only the regimes in Egypt or Syria or elsewhere had been overthrown. But for that matter, what about revolution in Iraq? Well, RWL wouldn't mind provided every Iraqi revolutionary first dies on the front lines in Kuwait.

. With their stand of "military support" for Hussein, the RWL also ends up denouncing the anti-war movement. It writes: "The antiwar movement in the US was of little help once the war began. " Just like the Trotskyist Spartacists, who also "defend Iraq", they identify the anti-war movement with the liberal politicians and their reformist hangers-on. They don't see any value in the fervent struggle of masses of activists. All this was of "little help. "

. It might be said, with more accuracy, that RWL was of little help to the anti-war movement.

. RWL'S style of "anti-imperialism" has nothing to do with the real struggles among the oppressed. They have disassociated themselves from the mass of activists in the U. S. as well as from the rebellious Iraqi toilers. All they see is the existing regimes and powers-that-be.

Real anti-imperialism is based on the toilers

. True anti-imperialist work didn't consist in speculating on the victory of Hussein's bayonets, nor in damning the anti-war movement in the US.

. Anti-imperialism means supporting the toiling masses in Iraq and the Middle East. It encouraging their movements, both by openly discussing their shortcomings and by supporting their struggles against local tyrants and exploiters and against the world superpower, US imperialism.

. Anti-imperialism means working to build up the anti-war movement in the US. It means not damning the movement, but encouraging the new generation of activists coming into the anti-war struggle.

. Anti-imperialism means real work, and not relying on a single magic formula, even if it were a correct formula. It means actually taking the anti-war movement to the working class neighborhoods and factories. It means doing patient work to show the real nature of the imperialist institutions to the masses.

. The stand of "military support to Hussein" was an anti-imperialism without the masses, and even against the masses. It is no anti-imperialism at all, but just the whining of a slave who is too oppressed to even imagine a class struggle for liberation. <>

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