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imperialism & war | labor m19 2006

No more blood for oil--- DEMONSTRATE MARCH 18 & 19!

The newest leaflet from the Seattle Communist Study Group. Perhaps it will inspire more people to take a hand in building the kind of anti-war movement necessary to put an end to this era of militarism, cold-blooded slaughter and heinous torture: a class movement against imperialism.
No more blood for oil---

DEMONSTRATE MARCH 18!

Meet at 1 pm, 2nd & Marion (Fed. Bldg). March in Portland on the 19th!

March 18 is the 3rd anniversary of the brutal U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. One hundred thousand Iraqi citizens are dead as a result. More than 2300 U.S. soldiers are also dead, with many more thousands maimed. All of Iraq is bleeding. Yet the trillions dollar slaughter goes on. In fact, we must soberly confront the possibility that after three years of bloodshed, the war may still be in an early stage. For example, nearly five years after invading impoverished Afghanistan, U.S., Canadian, and other NATO troops are still killing and being killed there, with the fighting INCREASING in recent months. But the stakes for the U.S. ruling class are much higher in Iraq than Afghanistan. Thus: Rumsfeld and various generals have in the past talked of U.S. troops being in Iraq for 9, 10 or more years; Bush's current plan to gradually reduce troop levels still leaves 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq next year; and Iraqi government officials now say that they want U.S. troops in the country "as long as necessary".

So, three years after "shock and awe", the sober appraisal that the fighting is going to continue a long time should inspire all of the workers, youth and democratic and progressive people of the country to again look into the causes of this war, who benefits and who pays even with their lives, which social class has class interests fundamentally opposed to it, and who are OUR allies and comrades in Iraq? Doing this may inspire all of us to take a hand in building the kind of anti-war movement necessary to put an end to this era of militarism, cold-blooded slaughter and heinous torture.

A many-sided war for oil

Bush's pre-war lies were to cover up that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was motivated solely by IMPERIALIST objectives. These included that the U.S. ruling class wanted to overthrow a reactionary regional rival for domination of the oil-rich region (represented by the Hussein government), gain control Iraq's oil resources for itself, establish permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq with which to threaten or launch attacks against any regional government or movement that upset the U.S. imperial agenda for dominating the oil-rich region, and, through more control of today's crucial resource, oil, be in a position to dictate terms to rivals everywhere.

Driving these objectives are three facts: (1) The U.S. ruling class (the monopoly-capitalist bourgeoisie) has huge military superiority over any of the present world powers. (2) Its economic strength relative to them has been declining. (3) The laws of the capitalist system of production are such that if it doesn't dominate the petroleum of Middle-East and Gulf, its capitalist competitors in the E.U., Russia, Japan, China and other powers will, and all of them have been making inroads there. Thus it's DRIVEN to use it's unparalleled military might to recoup it's relative economic decline. THIS IS WHY IT FIGHTS SO HARD IN FACE OF WORLD CONDEMNATION, AND WHY THERE'S SUCH UNITY BETWEEN ITS REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY POLITICIANS. So the unrivaled military superpower smashed the Hussein regime in weeks, sent troops to guard the oil ministry while letting the rest of Baghdad be looted, privatized the Iraqi oil industry, and began a multi-billions dollar project to build several huge permanent military bases. But filled with racist and imperialist arrogance, the Washington planners were blind to the kind of opposition their project would meet.

First, there was the question of the Iraqi capitalist class that Hussein had previously ruled for. Although defeated and fractured, it was still in competition with the U.S. monopoly-capitalist class over the prerogatives it would have in exploiting Iraqi labor, and how much of the oil revenues it would get. The result was that part of it began supporting armed insurgency in order to force the imperialists to concede them their former prerogatives. This was particularly true for Sunni bourgeois who had had privileged positions under the Hussein dictatorship and didn't want to lose them. Thus the armed resistance movement became dominated by Ba'athist remnants and reactionary clerics intent on establishing a new repressive dictatorship. And the U.S. military killing unarmed protestors, dragging people from their homes, flattening cities like Falluja, and gruesomely torturing and murdering at Abu Ghraib and other prisons caused many ordinary Iraqis to join or support this reactionary-led resistance.

Another part of the bourgeoisie opted to get what it could by allying with the imperialist occupiers for the time being, while strengthening its hand to later more peacefully squeeze them out of the country. These support the government, where the strongest factions represent Shia bourgeois in the south and the Kurdish national bourgeoisie in the north. The U.S. politicians and press praise this government as democratic, but the reality is that it's a government of midnight raids, death-squads and more torture, a government whose new constitution proclaims Islam as the state religion and reduces women to being second-class citizens, a government where ayatollahs pass judgment on legislation and clerics sit as court judges, a government that brutally represses the struggles of the workers and poor. But it's also a weakly formed government where the U.S. has played the dominant role in patching together and balancing off sectarian and national factional interests. This marriage may not work, and because the U.S. is building-up a national army whose units are often comprised of just one nationality or religious sect the divorce could be very bloody. Further, although it presently acts as an instrument of U.S. policy, the Shia majority in it looks toward a future alliance with the Iranian theocracy.

Our side in the war in Iraq

The sons and daughters of the working class of this country are being used as cannon fodder by a ruling class driven to dominate and slaughter in an open-ended war for oil and empire so that it can further enrich itself. At home the political representatives of these same capitalists continuously pare national budget items that assist the workers and other poor people to the bone (even veteran's benefits) while giving mega-billions to the big corporations like Halliburton, and they've enacted police state laws to use against all opponents. Thus the workers' side in this war can't be the U.S. government, nor the would-be dictators and theocrats dominating the Iraqi resistance. Our side is represented by the daily resistance struggles of workers and poor people of Iraq, and their struggle to get more organized so that they can put their independent stamp on the course of events. The vast majority of Iraqis are literate working people: teachers, factory workers, hospital employees, miners, oil-field workers, engineers, taxi-drivers, farmers, construction workers, technicians, etc., whose class interests lie neither with the warring local bourgeois factions, nor with the foreign imperialists, nor in being incited by religious demagogues into sectarian warfare. And, in extremely difficult conditions the Iraqi masses HAVE been struggling to defend their own interests against these enemies, i.e., demonstrations against the occupation, strikes, founding new trade unions, demonstrations by the unemployed and of women demanding equality, struggles against privatizations, and their own armed actions against occupation troops.

Yet as just, necessary, and courageous as these struggles have been and ARE, the Iraqi masses are still struggling to find a political course independent of the bourgeoisie, and the struggles themselves have often been scattered. Thus they're only essential foundation blocks upon which to erect the kind of revolutionary democratic movement needed. To build such a movement requires a complex fight against the divisive sectarianism of the religious leaders. It requires that the chauvinism of the Arab bourgeoisie toward the Kurds be fought against and the right of the Kurdish people to secede if they so wish must be upheld. It requires that the reactionary nationalism of the dominant Kurdish political parties, which oppress the Turkomen and other minorities in Kurdistan, also be opposed. And the struggle for equality of women must incessantly be waged everywhere.

Of course there are democratic Iraqis struggling to wage these fights, but the sectarian bloodshed of the past few weeks presses home that this work must have more political consciousness and organization., while there is not yet a class conscious political party of the working class that can lead the broad masses along this democratic and unifying path. So we have no illusion that the road to a brighter future for our struggling sisters, brothers and comrades in Iraq is going to be anything but long and hard. But by tirelessly working to build the movement against imperialism in this country in conscious solidarity with them, we can help shorten their road... as well as our own long road.

Build the U.S. anti-war movement !

In the weeks leading up to Bush's "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq millions of people took to the streets in protest. Since then the underlying outrage against the occupation war has developed farther as Bush's lying fear-mongering about Iraqi WMDs and connections to al-Queda was exposed on a much wider scale, and the revelations of U.S.-run torture chambers, revelations of corporate looting of the treasury in the name of "reconstruction", etc., became part of the mass consciousness. Meanwhile, the demonstration movement has continued, with 6000 people marching September 15 in Seattle to demand that the U.S. get out of Iraq, plus other demands. Yet the problem of political orientation for the movement remains, i.e., should it look to and rely on the left-liberal wing of the Democrats to do something, and try to get more of them elected, etc., or should it rely on building up a political trend politically independent of all the bourgeois parties---a durable trend capable of explaining the root causes of this war, and the next ones being threatened?

This question of political orientation is manifest in all the demonstrations. For example, the leaders of the large events called by the A.N.S.W.E.R. and U.F.P.J. coalitions (which we've always called on the masses to attend and promote their own politics in) always put up a slew of left-liberal speakers, but what are their appeals? Under the slogan "anybody but Bush" these speakers worked to turn the anti-war movement into an electioneering movement for the Democrats. And when their preferred candidates lost in the primaries (like "U.N. troops INTO Iraq!" Kucinich did), they told the movement to support the liberal Kerry---a war-hawk who often criticized Bush from the RIGHT (Bush should have sent more troops, I'll send more troops, etc.), and who paraded his military "credentials"! Now when the left-liberals speak they often try to line the crowd up behind one of the ever-changing "withdrawal" plans that rely on combinations of sending U.N. troops into Iraq, re-deploying U.S. troops to nearby countries for air-strikes, "in and out" operations, etc. Thus, at the Sept. 15 A.N.S.W.E.R. rally demanding that the U.S. get out of Iraq now, these speakers worked to get the crowd to support MORE blood being spilled for oil and empire. (In November we saw what the left-liberals' opposition to Bush amounts to when their party joined with the neo-cons to vote AGAINST a resolution for immediate withdrawal 403 to 3, with several of them mouthing right-wing militarist rhetoric about not "cutting and running". )

So an orientation toward the left-Democrats is a dead-end. An independent movement is needed, and we think that it is Marxism that shows the way to building it by showing the class basis of politics. It is Marxism that shows the need to base the movement on the working class. But many of those who speak in the name of Marxism are just hangers-on of the Democratic Party. Thus, the Trotskyists and Stalinists who are big forces in coalitions like A.N.S.W.E.R. refuse to get up to expose and denounce the wrecking role of the left-liberals. This is because while they say a few things against the Democrats in their newspapers, their real political orientation is to desperately look for saving personalities or trends from within the capitalist's political establishment. This is justified with lectures about "preserving unity" of the movement, but theirs is a unity acting AGAINST the interests of the masses of people in this country. And behind this orientation is the view that the workers and youth can't really do anything.

We think they can. The movements of 60s and 70s, the "battle of Seattle", and many other struggles have already proven it. But to prove it again---and go farther than we've gone before---requires protracted work to go to the workers and young people with written, verbal, and other agitation that explains how the enemy is not just Bush, but IMPERIALISM and the capitalist system it's based in (which also requires theoretical study). It requires that networks be built in the work-places, schools, communities, and military bases to do this... and linking them up, building anti-imperialist groups all over the place, etc. It requires that anti-imperialists organize more of their own demonstrations and other mass activities. And it requires work to mobilize for and actively participate in coalition demonstrations with anti-imperialist politics.

All out for March 18!
Support the struggles of the Iraqi workers and poor!
U.S. imperialism out of Iraq, NOW!

Seattle Communist Study Group, Mar 9, 2006
Read: Communist Voice at www.communistvoice.org
Kids Build Soybean-Fueled Car 10.Mar.2006 07:43

CBS News

Here's the link to the article below:
 link to www.cbsnews.com



CBS) The star at last week's Philadelphia Auto Show wasn't a sports car or an economy car. It was a sports-economy car — one that combines performance and practicality under one hood.

But as CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America, the car that buyers have been waiting decades comes from an unexpected source and runs on soybean bio-diesel fuel to boot.

A car that can go from zero to 60 in four seconds and get more than 50 miles to the gallon would be enough to pique any driver's interest. So who do we have to thank for it. Ford? GM? Toyota? No — just Victor, David, Cheeseborough, Bruce, and Kosi, five kids from the auto shop program at West Philadelphia High School

The five kids, along with a handful of schoolmates, built the soybean-fueled car as an after-school project. It took them more than a year — rummaging for parts, configuring wires and learning as they went. As teacher Simon Hauger notes, these kids weren't exactly the cream of the academic crop.

"We have a number of high school dropouts," he says. "We have a number that have been removed for disciplinary reasons and they end up with us."

One of the Fab Five, Kosi Harmon, was in a gang at his old school — and he was a terrible student. The car project has changed all that.

"I was just getting by with the skin of my teeth, C's and D's," he says. "I came here, and now I'm a straight-A student."

To Hauger, the soybean-powered car shows what kids — any kids — can do when they get the chance.

"If you give kids that have been stereotyped as not being able to do anything an opportunity to do something great, they'll step up," he says.

Stepping up is something the big automakers have yet to do. They're still in the early stages of marketing hybrid cars while playing catch-up to the Bad News Bears of auto shop.

"We made this work," says Hauger. "We're not geniuses. So why aren't they doing it?"

Kosi thinks he knows why. The answer, he says, is the big oil companies.

"They're making billions upon billions of dollars," he says. "And when this car sells, that'll go down — to low billions upon billions."

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

we must support armed resistance (a suggested improvement to the leaflet) 10.Mar.2006 10:51

Ben Seattle

Overall this is an excellent leaflet and I am glad that it will be distributed at the Seattle and Portland actions on March 18 and 19.

I have not had time to study the leaflet carefully yet (I certainly will) but after a quick read I believe that one sentence could use revision:

> Thus the armed resistance movement became dominated
> by Ba'athist remnants and reactionary clerics
> intent on establishing a new repressive dictatorship.
> And the U.S. military killing unarmed protestors,
> dragging people from their homes, flattening cities
> like Falluja, and gruesomely torturing and murdering
> at Abu Ghraib and other prisons caused many ordinary
> Iraqis to join or support this reactionary-led
> resistance.

posted at:
 http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/252092.shtml
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/335392.shtml

Some readers may get the impression (from the second sentence above) that the armed resistance has a reactionary character as a whole. The reality is more complex than this and tends to go, I would argue, in the opposite direction.

It is a good thing that many ordinary Iraqis are supporting the armed resistance. Ultimately U.S. imperialism must be _driven_ out of Iraq -- must be defeated -- must leave Iraq with its tail between its legs -- like it did in Vietnam. And the armed resistance will play an important and necessary role in this. We cannot forget this. Not for an instant.

The social-democrats (ie: the leftist helpers of imperialism) wring their hands when ordinary Iraqis join the resistance. The social-democrats argue that U.S. imperialism should not engage in torture or destroy entire cities like Falluja because this helps the resistance recruit.

Our stand must to recognize that the resistance (armed as well as legal, organized political resistance) is necessary and deserves support.

It is of course true that the armed resistance in Iraq is led by reactionaries. We cannot gloss over this and one of the strengths of this leaflet is that it says this in a clear way.

But we should also see if we can find a way to express the view that one of the problems with the reactionary character of the leadership of the resistance -- is that this reactionary character in many ways is making the resistance _weaker_ than it would be if it were not led by reactionaries. We would wish, on the contrary, that the resistance were more powerful. We want to see U.S. troops forced out of Iraq.

The appropriate analogy would be to a trade union struggle where the trade union bureaucrats (TUB's) are reactionary and corrupt. The TUB's may be using the struggle for their own purpose. The TUB's may be making ready to sell-out the struggle in one way or another. Our stand must be to support the struggle and, at the same time, to make clear to workers, in a complex situation, that the struggle will be more powerful to the degree that the workers develop their independence from the sold-out TUB's.

My belief is that the authors of this leaflet (ie: the Seattle Communist Study Group) may agree with my comments and I hope that the sentence to which I object can be revised before the mass actions next week.

Sincerely and revolutionary regards,
Ben Seattle
 http://struggle.net/ben

Isolated from one another we are easily defeated.
Connected to one another no force on earth can stop us
 http://MediaWeapon.com

Regarding Ben's comment 10.Mar.2006 20:47

Frank

Although the leaflet later speaks of the Iraqi workers and poor launching "their own armed actions against occupation troops" and obviously supports this, I think Ben raises concern over a question that is easy to be one-sided on. And in a leaflet, where one often has to deal with a complex issue in just a sentence or two, it's not easy to give an all-sided picture.

Now many anti-war activists may not think this issue is so complicated, i.e., one either supports the resistance or one does not. So perhaps dealing with a paragraph by Ben can help illustrate why I don't think it is as simple as it may first appear, or even as simple as Ben puts it.

Ben writes as follows:

"But we should also see if we can find a way to express the view that one of the problems with the reactionary character of the leadership of the resistance -- is that this reactionary character in many ways is making the resistance _weaker_ than it would be if it were not led by reactionaries. We would wish, on the contrary, that the resistance were more powerful. We want to see U.S. troops forced out of Iraq."

True enough, the reactionary character of the leading groups may make the resistance weaker in the long run. But there's no doubt that for the past three years the participation of the reactionaries has made the resistance STRONGER vis-a-vis the occupiers. After all, they've had the money, guns, organization---and, in the Ba'athists case---military experience, whereas the popular masses have lacked all three. Moreover, these things have also made them stronger against the masses, and some of the reactionary resistance groups have been sent to attack progressive women's organizations, they've killed democratic activists, they've terrorized neighborhoods, and so on.

Another important side of this is that if a revolutionary-democratic armed resistance movement were to get going as an alternative to the Ba'athists and clerics (which the leaflet obviously supports), it would be weak in comparison to today's main groups, and, because of the political situation in the country, would not grow fast. Moreover, the reactionaries would inevitably attack it, resulting in a civil war within the resistance. So this would WEAKEN the resistance against the imperialists for the time being, yet we would do everything we could to support the revolutionary democrats despite this weakening because it is only such a movement that can bring a brighter future for the masses of people, and only such a political movement that can really unite the oppressed masses---over time, to be sure. (Such civil wars within resistance movements are not uncommon. And in Eritrea and Albania, for example, the ultra-reactionary forces were defeated in them. Further, interestingly enough, in both countries the more progressive forces actually organized their groups after the national liberation or anti-colonial war had begun. In Eritrea this was done by FIVE people.)

Thus, while it's true, in theory which has been proven many times over, that a revolutionary-democratic leadership would be more capable of both drawing the masses into the armed struggle because it also championed their strikes, struggles against women's oppression, the right to self-determination for the Kurds, the struggles of the Turkomen and other nationalities against oppression (including by the U.S.-allied Kurdish bourgeois-nationalists), and other struggles against the exploiters, we still have to deal with the present reality. And the political crux of this revolves around WHY would armed struggle organized by a revolutionary-democratic movement only grow slowly, and WHY do so many people join the reactionary-dominated resistance groups.

In the latter case it's not JUST because there is no alternative, i.e., no revolutionary-democratic peoples' army to join, but also because many of the fighters firmly believe in the Ba'athist or theocratic politics of their leaders. And, in the former case, the very fact that no such movement exists of any large size points to the fact that the masses are still being heavily weighed down and divided by sectarian and other reactionary political trends. Yet to solve these problems, which are not going to be solved overnight, requires that the most class conscious Iraqi workers and other revolutionaries struggle to study Marxism, apply it to their situation, and prepare conditions for founding a genuine communist party (as opposed to the revisionist Iraqi Communist Party, and the "left-communist" Workers' Communist Party of Iraq). Only such a party as this can solidify the revolutionary-democratic strivings of the masses, and lead them in a conscious struggle against all the backward political currents. Without such a party, a revolutionary-democratic movement would have much greater difficulty steering an independent course.

However, we don't have such a movement (on a really mass scale), nor do we have such a party, nor do we know when they will arise. I therefore think the leaflet is absolutely correct in warning that the road to a brighter future for our struggling sisters, brothers and comrades in Iraq is going to be long and hard. Moreover, even with the existence of both, it would still be long and hard.

But many U.S. activists have looked at the political situation in Iraq and other countries, saw no force that was capable of seriously wounding, much less defeating, U.S. imperialism in any near term, and, out of despair, supported reactionaries like Saddam Hussein in his war against the U.S. invasion. (They supported THIS resistance.) In fact a large part of the Trotskyist political trend does this, with the WWP and PSL being good local examples. Naturally, this trend had to admit that Hussein at least had "problems", if not being a tyrant, advised that he should arm the masses, etc., but they saw no alternative but to give "military but not political" support to the Hussein dictatorship (which can't be done). Further, many theorized about how a victory for Hussein would be a big victory for the masses resisting U.S. imperialism all over the world. Yet would it have been? True, the fact that the U.S. monster had been defeated would give a certain inspiration to the struggling masses everywhere. But it would have at the same time strengthened the hand of reactionary-nationalist demagogues like Hussein everywhere. Moreover, inside Iraq, it was during the period following the defeat of Hussein and before the U.S. could set up any kind of effective control, that all of the various political trends, including worker's trends, could come out into the open and begin organizing on a much broader scale..

Three years later we still have despairing activists in this country, some of whom now support the reactionary resistance leaders even though now, just as three years ago, many of them will admit that the resistance is dominated by reactionary fundamentalists and Ba'athists. And to do this they raise the slogan "support the armed Iraqi resistance". But THE resistance is rightfully interpreted by nearly everyone as meaning the resistance dominated by trends fighting for a new tyranny; not the still scattered local actions of individuals or groups acting on their own. In other words, rather than defending armed resistance in principle, and supporting the still scattered progressive armed actions of the masses, they encourage support for the enemies of the people. This is neither an anti-imperialist nor a progressive stand.

So these are some of the issues that we have to consider when addressing the armed resistance. But Ben, who says that

"Ultimately U.S. imperialism must be _driven_ out of Iraq -- must be defeated -- must leave Iraq with its tail between its legs -- like it did in Vietnam. And the armed resistance will play an important and necessary role in this. We cannot forget this. Not for an instant."

(which is something no democrat, much less a revolutionary could oppose), actually uses this to argue that "It is a good thing that many ordinary Iraqis are supporting the armed resistance." He doesn't say supporting armed resistance as a principle, nor does he say anything about supporting the tendencies among the masses to take the armed struggle into their own hands. He just says "It is a good thing that many ordinary Iraqis are supporting the armed resistance." But THE armed resistance that comes to nearly everyone's mind, including in Iraq, is dominated by reactionaries. And, it's not the case that they just control the purse-strings and have a hidden agendas. No, they politically dominate the armed movement with agendas that are often pretty out in the open, i.e., theocracy or a revised Ba'athist dictatorship. I therefore think it is NOT a good thing that many ordinary Iraqis are supporting THIS resistance of hangmen and thugs. And the way out of the impasse of supporting either the armed struggle of the U.S. imperialists and allied Iraqi government, or the reactionary resistance groups is to be found in support for building the third alternative discussed above. To crib from Ben: "We cannot forget this. Not for an instant." I would add that we can't be despairing about the situation the real world has presented us with.

Now I can't know what the SCSG will do regarding the sentence that Ben has pointed to, but I'm glad that he raised this concern, and I'm pretty sure that whatever the SCSG does regarding it or other problematic places in the leaflet will be done very quickly, not many days from now.

Soybeans!!!! 11.Mar.2006 18:40

what a great story

I am kissing (mmmwha!!!)whoever posted that. You just made my day. We need to hear more sotries like this one- and I bet it's happening all the time, too.
The MSM have a great stake in keeping us discouraged and impotent- sometimes it's heard to rise up out of that (pardon the pun).
THANKS!!!

The forest and the trees 12.Mar.2006 23:21

Ben Seattle

Frank -- you have a lot of good and useful things to say in reply to my comment. But sometimes it is possible to be too close to something to see it clearly. In this case it appears to me that you and the SCSG are so focused on the problems with the slogan "support the iraqi armed resistance" that you are unable to see that it has progressive content.

Yes, we could say that the slogan is incomplete, or confused or confusing. But this is different from asserting that it has no progressive content (which appears to be what you are arguing).

I introduced the analogy of a trade union struggle or strike where the trade union bureaucrats (TUB's) are reactionary and corrupt and plotting to sell the workers out. In such a struggle we would openly support the strike. This would not means that we would necessarily keep silent about the treachery of the corrupt TUB's. (Nor is it the case that any analogy is perfect. All analogies have problems.)

But there is a big difference between supporting the strike while also exposing the treachery of the TUB's -- and remaining aloof from taking a clear position in a struggle of this sort. This is the difference between seeing the forest and the trees.

Sincerely and revolutionary regards,
Ben Seattle
 http://struggle.net/ben

I wonder who doesn’t see the forest? 16.Mar.2006 00:42

Frank

In describing the SCSG leaflet, Ben used the terms "very useful", "powerful" and "excellent", yet he didn't try to explain why he felt this way. This may be flattering, but I think it's more useful to actually look at the content of the leaflet in order to see if his worries over one sentence being misunderstood are really justified.

Ben writes that me "and the SCSG are so focused on the problems with the slogan 'support the Iraqi armed resistance' that you are unable to see that it has progressive content". (I must point out that the comment above, as well as this one, are MY comments, not the SCSG's.) Further, he seems to think the leaflet should raise this slogan even though (in his words) "we could say that the slogan is incomplete, or confused or confusing". But why argue for a slogan that is incomplete, confused or confusing?

The leaflet takes pains to draw out class nature of the various forces fighting in Iraq. Thus the section containing the sentence Ben first worried over was dealing with the forces of the bourgeoisie: the U.S. imperialists, the organizations dominating the resistance, and the Iraqi government. Moreover, it was written in the descriptive style of just telling what has been occurring. So interrupting this section with comments on tactics to use to undermine the influence of the reactionary resistance leaders (which he seemed to suggest in his first comment) would be out of place here, as would discussion of the "support the armed resistance" slogan.

But why isn't there a class army of the oppressed fighting the occupiers, a democratic national liberation army? (Actually, there could be the nucleus of one fighting somewhere in Iraq right now, but even if this were true it's pretty clear that it hasn't attracted a lot of people.) The next section, which deals with our side in the war, provides the answer: the Iraqi masses are divided up by a variety of conflicting political and social trends, and there is no revolutionary force leading their struggle. So to overcome this a protracted fight must be waged against religious sectarianism, for the right of self-determination of the Kurds (while also opposing reactionary-nationalist oppression of minorities in Kurdistan), for women's equality, and so on, as well as a fight to lay the ideological basis for a revolutionary movement. Only through waging these struggles and many others can a firm basis be laid for a peoples' liberation army.

It's my belief that these basic issues, with all their difficulty, are what both we and the Iraqi masses must confront. The slogan "support the armed resistance" does not help do this. Worse, it's commonly understood as meaning a call to support the dominant reactionary forces of the resistance, and it leads away from confronting these absolutely necessary political tasks.


HOW the U.S. imperialists are driven out of Iraq means a lot for the Iraqi people. If the present resistance leaders were to come out on top the masses would continue to be brutally oppressed, and more so if they remained in their present political and organizational situation. Nevertheless, the class issues would then eventually become clearer for those with illusions about the Ba'athists and/or other reactionaries who gained power. This would be the worst outcome. But there are better possibilities. One is that if a revolutionary-democratic movement were to develop, and with it, a democratic army, then this army (if still weaker that those of the reactionaries) could actually "help" the reactionaries to power with its own blows against the imperialists. This would leave the masses on a much firmer foundation from which to struggle against the new repressive government. Further, if the war were to drag on for many many years, there's always the possibility that a revolutionary democratic movement could itself come to power. Nevertheless, in all cases, the path forward for the Iraqi masses must run through solving the problems pointed to in the leaflet, and above... .and there are no shortcuts on this path.

Lastly, the logic of what Ben writes is that we should also raise the slogan "support the armed resistance" in Afghanistan where, although some semi-independent armed actions may take place, the resistance is dominated by the Taliban and bin Laden-lovers. Moreover, I don't see how his arguments differ from the Trotskyists (and others) who said support the armed resistance of the Hussein regime. Many of them were quite willing to say how reactionary Hussein was (as Ben is willing to talk about the reactionary nature of the dominant resistance groups), or they criticized him for not arming the masses in order to make the fight stronger, etc., but they supported Hussein's military (hence the continuation of his regime) nonetheless. So perhaps Ben could clarify how his position is different.

We need to look at the forest 17.Mar.2006 07:26

Ben Seattle

> Ben [...] writes
> that me "and the SCSG are so focused on the
> problems with the slogan 'support the Iraqi
> armed resistance' that you are unable to see
> that it has progressive content". [...]
> Further, he seems to think the leaflet should
> raise this slogan even though (in his words)
> "we could say that the slogan is incomplete,
> or confused or confusing". But why raise a
> slogan that is incomplete, confused or confusing?

Frank, you are confused. I never argued that your leaflet should use that slogan.

I discussed that slogan because I was replying to _you_. It was _you_ who raised that slogan as a topic when you claimed that there was nothing progressive about it.

I argued that your leaflet's formulation was mistaken because many readers would get the idea that it was unfortunate that ordinary Iraqis were joining the resistance (ie: a view promoted by hand-wringing social-democrats).

I did not offer any specific alternative formulation for your leaflet.

I will note, however, that if you believe that the slogan "support the resistance in Iraq" has no progressive content -- then it will be more difficult for you to state things correctly in your leaflet.

At this time U.S. imperialism is the main enemy of the Iraqi workers. If you believe that I am mistaken, then you can present your arguments as to why.

The internal Iraqi reactionaries (Baathist or Islamic bourgeoisie) are also enemies but will only become the main enemy after the US occupation is defeated.

Again, if you think I am mistaken -- then you can explain why.

I know that questions like this are not simple to understand. But we can write better leaflets when we understand these questions.

I assume the leaflet is printed by now. If any changes were made as a result of my criticism I guess I will find out at the demonstration on Saturday.

Ben
 http://struggle.net/ben

Taking refuge in a formula? 17.Mar.2006 21:48

Frank

The leaflet points to some of the main struggles the Iraqi toilers have been engaged in over the past three year, notes their difficulty in finding a political course independent of the bourgeoisie, and argues that tireless work to build the movement against imperialism in this country in conscious solidarity with them can help shorten their road.

But what does the latter phrase mean concretely?

An obvious part of the answer is that by building the anti-imperialist movement in this country into a powerful force we can help drive the U.S. out of Iraq. This will relieve the Iraqi people of a heavy burden, and help bring the class issues more to the fore in the country. But I also think there are other sides of the question. One of these is that if the Iraqi toilers see a secular movement fighting in the streets of the United States that is raising slogans like "Support the struggles of the Iraqi workers and poor!" it can help inspire them to struggle against the bourgeois and sectarian politics that they have to daily contend with by building up their own independent political movement. Another side is that conscious solidarity means proletarian internationalist solidarity: the workers in oppressed and oppressor countries consciously and actively supporting each others struggles. And, if this support is to be real, it must take up the duty of giving views on problems that might be seen in the revolutionary movement of the other country. Thus, Communist Voice has several times commented on what it thinks are wrong stands being taken by the Workers' Communist Party of Iraq, one of which is its denunciation of armed resistance itself. (See  http://home.flash.net/~comvoice/33cIraqCPs.html.) Further, we look forward to developing more living links with the struggle in Iraq, meetings with Iraqi revolutionaries, etc.

Said another way, I think we need to have our sights set high, not because we expect any immediate breakthroughs in Iraq or in this country (we do not), but because without this proletarian internationalist outlook we will inevitably fail. And a most relevant form of such failure is exhibited by the WWP, PSL, SWP of Great Britain, and many others when they betray the workers of the oppressed countries by advocating they become cannon fodder for the likes of Saddam Hussein, pan-Islamists like Osama bin-Laden, or other reactionaries. From their demoralized perspective they can only see giving support to those presently with the most guns pointed at U.S. imperialism while ignoring where else those guns are pointed. This is abandonment of a class line.

Enter Ben. He doesn't comment on the main issues that I have raised. Instead of agreeing, disagreeing, saying something further about them, etc., he obliterates the entire discussion with a formula(!): "At this time U.S. imperialism is the main enemy of the Iraqi workers... ... The internal Iraqi reactionaries (Baathist or Islamic bourgeoisie) are also enemies but will only become the main enemy after the US occupation is defeated." And I'm supposed to explain to him why this is right or wrong, etc.

Ahem! Although Ben adds that he knows "that questions like this are not simple to understand", I think it IS pretty simple to understand that Ben wants to jump from a discussion of some of the concrete class issues in Iraq to an up-in the-air discussion of a formula. And it just happens to be the same formula that many of the Trotskyists and other revisionists have always used to defend their support for the "lesser" enemies/evils... no matter what kind of hangmen they may be. So, lest he not be misinterpreted, I again say that Ben should explain to us his differences with them.

**********************************************

Yes, the second printing of the leaflet included some minor changes here and there, including in the paragraph Ben was concerned with. It now reads:

"First, there was the question of the Iraqi capitalist class that Hussein had previously ruled for. Although it was defeated and fractured, it was still in competition with the U.S. monopoly-capitalist class over the prerogatives it would have in exploiting Iraqi labor and in controlling the country's oil wealth. In fact, part of it supported armed insurgency to force the imperialists to concede them prerogatives, particularly Sunni bourgeois who had had privileges under the Hussein dictatorship that they didn't want to lose. Thus, while popular armed resistance to imperialist occupation is just and deserves support, this faction of exploiters wanted an armed resistance dominated by Ba'athist remnants or reactionary clerics intent on establishing a new repressive dictatorship. But as the U.S. military began to kill unarmed protestors, drag people from their homes, flatten cities like Falluja, torture and murder at Abu Ghraib and other places, numerous ordinary Iraqis supported or joined the reactionary-led armed groups as a way to fight back. There was no democratic armed force of any size to provide a liberating alternative."