No 1553 29March 2019
Brexit continues to divert workers’ attention from the only issue that really matters, oncoming Catastrophic breakdown of the world capitalist system. Neither Leave nor Remain will change anything as hurricane Slump disaster hits, wiping out lives and livelihoods, whether Britain is subject to European bosses’ rules or exploitation by US “free market” combines (even more rapacious). Chauvinism and “democracy” illusions are a deadly trap unchallenged by the “lefts”. Ruling class Brexit paralysis reflects their panic over which side to take as trade war deepens between the US, Europe and Japan blocs, heading for WW3. Has-been Britain must desperately cling to one side or the other - but which? Deadly stakes underlined by fascist turn of US imperialism now tearing up any pretence at all of “international rule of law”, backing the foul Zionist genocidal occupation’s “right” to occupy Golan and soon all Palestine. Fake-“left” continues “condemn terror” treachery denouncing the growing world revolt. Leninism needs building
The “million strong” march against Brexit was a desperate attempt to ignore the reality of the deepening capitalist crisis plunging towards Slump disaster and vicious cutthroat trade war.
Its largely middle-class support was being driven to “do something” mostly because it wants nothing done and to have everything be “like it was before”.
But that cannot be, as Marxist theory has long battled to understand and explain.
It is the total impossibility for petty bourgeois life to go on in the same old complacent haze which has produced this contradictory street “action” and the paralysis of Brexit itself.
And that reflects the intractable contradiction at the heart of capitalism.
The world is heading for disaster.
As Marx described, the surging “energy” and thrusting development of the centuries old capitalist system, driven by the battle for private profit, inevitably and repeatedly leads to a crisis of overproduction, slump collapse, bitter trade conflict and finally all-out war, each time worse than before (see EPSR Box, the Communist Manifesto and Capital).
The catastrophic collapse coming now is on a scale never before seen.
Reversing the Brexit referendum does nothing to solve that at all, nor can it.
Of course “Leaving Europe” is no way forwards either.
If anything, the immediate effects of Brexit disruption and dislocation will make things even worse in the austerity hammered, capitalist British economy, as many of its economists, bankers and industrialists have warned.
And as far as the working class is concerned, the savagery of capitalist cutbacks (Slump disaster) will continue to be imposed whether they are in the “bosses club” of Europe or subject instead to the exploitation of the big international monopolies prowling the world markets “outside” (see recent EPSRs eg).
Globalisation cannot be stopped.
Little Englander fantasies about “regaining sovereignty”, “saving British jobs” and “standing alone” relying on “British superiority” are reactionary throwbacks to a long-gone imperial past of class collaboration, and are obviously deluded anyway in a country which is now one of the weakest and most moribund of all the bourgeois economies.
Worse still they feed the antagonism and international hostility which the ruling class everywhere is pushing the world towards because of its desperate cutthroat trade war battles to survive, as the crisis deepens.
That makes the “Leavers” prey to the very worst scapegoating backwardness (Islamophobia eg), jingoism and outright fascism being deliberately stirred up by the bourgeoisie to whip up the war fever it needs to drag the population into its insane world war conflicts.
But ignoring, dismissing or resisting the largely working class pain and despair which was expressed in the referendum result can only be reactionary.
The “two fingers” mood – (in the working class section of the vote only, not its backward petty bourgeois UKIPers) – against the establishment and its arrogance, contempt and ever greater greed and degeneracy, is the aspect to concentrate on and even more as it turns to disgust with the entire “democracy” racket, being twisted, bribed and cynically manipulated like never before.
(If the bourgeoisie are so keen on the “will of the people” why don’t they leave the world stage right now and hand over all their property and power to those being ground into poverty and desperation? - could be a first question.
Why do they support military coups like that in Thailand, or the nasty tyrannies throughout the Gulf, the fascists in Kiev etc???
And why are they killing millions throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia, while destroying half the planet with pollution, ecological disaster, and global warming to feed the grotesque profits greed of the big corporations???? - could be the next. And a thousand others including why do they ignore decisive referendums like that supporting Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela for socialism, hyping up instead dirty snivelling CIA-coached quislings like Juan Guaidó to foment counter-revolutionary violence????)
The germ of revolutionary hostility the Brexit vote contains is potentially extremely healthy – if it can shed its chauvinist backwardness and illusions.
It is driven by the same class-war tensions coming to the surface everywhere (if as yet confused, unfocused and piecemeal) in the gilets-jaunes movement exploding against the French bourgeoisie and arrogant president Emmanuel Macron; in the long running eastern Ukrainian anti-fascist doggedness; underlying the great wave of jihadism and “terror” throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia; in Latin American anti-yanqee-ism; and most heroically of all in the suffering but ever growing determination of the genocidally oppressed Palestinians.
Both sides of the Brexit dispute are equally “valid” it can be said - and neither of them is.
Both potentially could stir minds to think deeply about the great upheavals shaking the world.
But neither can solve anything as such, because they do not tackle the real problem.
In fact they become a diversion from it (which fake-“leftism” does nothing to challenge).
Only a revolutionary perspective lifting above the whole dispute can make sense of the great paralysis gripping the ruling class and explain the way forwards for workers and the great majority of ordinary people.
Class war struggle to defeat and then completely overturn this degenerate system and establish socialism, under the firmest working class control, (dictatorship of the proletariat) is the necessity.
It is the key question never quite reached (and usually opposed) by the supposed “left” of the Labour movement, and equally unmentioned by the 50-shades-of-red variants in the pretend “revolutionary left”, who all effectively take one side or the other in this new repeat of the Weimar republic, (the Slump paralysed German “left liberalism” which was ousted by Hitler’s Nazis, cutting across all “democracy” as the 1930s Depression developed – and using “democracy” to do it, just as now).
So the immediate task is building a conscious revolutionary leadership, a Leninist party, to develop and spread understanding of the gigantic and terminal collapse of the 800 year capitalist order now dragging the world into World War Three and potential horrors beyond those of the two great 20th century world wars.
Breakdown of the entire social order is inevitable as the greatest economic disaster in history unravels.
It has been unfolding for decades, even as the inflationary credit force-fed, post-WW2 boom has continued in the US dominated capitalist world.
Continual partial depressions have shaken the richer countries with stagnation and stock market “Black Mondays”, while regional collapses, currency meltdowns and national bankruptcies repeatedly shatter economies and lives in Latin America, Asia and Africa (on top of the endless tyrannical near and actual slave exploitation which daily grinds down hundreds of millions of lives throughout the Third World anyway).
The crisis erupted in full in 2008, unleashing a global bank meltdown only held off by insane money-printing Quantitative Easing and imposition of callous social cutbacks and stagnating wages.
But as soon as these temporary QE effects work through, as they must, the economic armageddon will return, with the problems made a thousand times worse by this short-term “fix” of injected valueless credit.
All the bourgeois press analysts, economic institutions and finance houses issue constant warnings of the dangers of dollar collapse, market failures, production downturns and credit implosion.
What they cannot see, or do not warn about is where such Slump disaster is leading.
For all the constant bogeyman demonisation of Russia and the Chinese, it is war between the great monopoly blocs of the capitalist world which is at the heart of things as they all desperately struggle in to-the-death competition for saturated world markets (see box).
It is the danger of being crushed between these great economic and power blocs (Japan, the US, Europe and to some extent the capitalist section of China’s workers state economy) which is producing the gobsmacking Brexit stalemate in the British establishment and turning its opportunist Parliamentary racket into a “theatre of the absurd” as even the reactionary BBC was calling it this week.
For the ruling class running the moribund and ossified British economy, now one of the weakest links among the “great powers” with its industry and finance long sold off to foreign ownership, the only chance for survival is to line up with the “winners” in the emerging turmoil or at least get out of the way when the shooting starts.
Hence the agonised frenzy in the bourgeoisie, which has been trying for decades to decide which side has the better prospects – the European market or the Americans (and some notional “freelance” trading with India etc).
Both sides have their costs – unbearable (to the bourgeoisie) kowtowing to the despised Germans who dominate the EU bloc, or lying back to be ravished and despoiled by the rapacious “dealmaking” of American imperialism, which for all the “independence” the British might declare for themselves, will insist on plundering what remains of the British economy, privatising the NHS remnants, rail and utilities, and dumping US agricultural products (chlorine washed, hormone laden and corn syrup soaked to boot).
It is the price for getting it wrong for the capitalist rulers which leaves them poleaxed.
It is not simply high stakes being faced but complete wartime wipeout, the fate of all “losers” in capitalism’s brutal and antagonistic competition system.
It is a wish to keep out of the way of American aggression visited on Europe (now overtly declared to be the “enemy” by Trump’s trade war belligerence) which drives much of the Brexit wing of the ruling class.
Even before the eventual military dénouement, economic setback brings the danger of social explosion as “austerity” has to be imposed on a scale far beyond that which has hammered the working class for the last ten years.
Keeping a lid on the inevitable rebellion and potentially revolutionary turmoil – already seen in France with the gilets-jaunes (yellow-vest) upheavals, gives the bourgeoisie nightmares in itself.
For all its “draconian” callousness against the weak, disabled, Windrushers and the poor in general, with foodbanks and homeless street sleeping becoming ever more common, the British ruling class has so far fearfully backed off the scale of cutbacks it really needs to impose, if it is to have the remotest prospect of keeping up with the competition.
It all adds to its hopeless panic.
But trade war and conflict will not stop there anyway, and can only end in the total devastation already witnessed in the two world wars of the twentieth century (which alone cleared the decks for the post-war re-expansion boom).
Over exaggeration??? Couldn’t happen in modern times???
It is what the topdog US imperialism has been preparing the world for, especially since 9/11, and has already imposed on the Middle East and Afghanistan, acclimatising public opinion for the horrors to come.
From the deliberately big lie manoeuvred Iraq war onwards it has set out to threaten and bludgeon the entire world into continued acceptance of the “American order” despite total US bankruptcy.
And its belligerence and bluster has become even more extreme as the initial bullying has failed to restore its comfortable topdog existence, plundering the resources and labour of the Third World, which was established after the victories of World War Two and maintained courtesy of revisionist “peaceful coexistence, don’t rock the boat” complacency from Soviet Moscow (still persisting in Beijing and to some extent Havana).
Now even the huge monopoly domination of overwhelming US financial and military firepower is increasingly paralysed.
The world intimidation strategy, using the excuse of a meaningless “war on terror” to stampede popular support behind blitzkrieg and destruction of one “rogue state” after another, has failed to solve anything.
The basic problems of worldwide “overproduction” crisis and the loss of influence and power over the US neo-colonialist world Empire continue.
Far from reestablishing the easy authority of the American culture and influence, US topdog Washington has had to destroy country after country, just to keep the lid on an ever deepening revolt throughout the Third World, especially in the Middle East and into the West itself.
As a result resistance and hatred has multiplied exponentially, spawning not just much more jihadism and “terror” revolt but the later mass upheavals of the Arab Spring when millions spontaneously came out onto the streets in Tunisia and Egypt; then, when efforts were made to suppress that, by invading Libya and triggering the Syrian civil war, generating in turn the far more coherently organised ruthlessness of the ISIS “Caliphate”; and the now four-year-long struggle of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, still holding its ground against the grotesque barbarities of the degenerate Saudi Arabian mafia-tribalism (and its US and British arms supplies and “advisers”, essentially organising the butchery).
A wave of left reformist nationalism in Latin America still clings on in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia despite severe political weaknesses and dire revisionist mis-advice.
Revolt is now brewing right into the heart of the imperialist powers, as in France and into the US itself.
The more it grows, so the more imperialism is dialectically forced to show the world its true nature, trampling over any pretences of “democracy” “international justice”, rule of law and “human rights” while ratcheting up the barbaric war destruction, poisonous fascist hatred, and blitzkrieg, using the ludicrous excuse of a “war on terror” to justify its butchery, and that of the stooges it increasingly relies on such as Saudi Arabia, other feudal backwardness in the Gulf states, and above all the Zionist Nazis occupying Palestine.
And the more destruction the more anti-imperialist hatred grows.
The slide down the road into overt fascism has long been in train, and notably from the George W Bush attempts to impose a “New American Century” by shock and awe butchery and the turn to openly Nazi torture methods, Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib concentration camps, all continued through the death-drone and coup-making “retreat” of the “liberal” Obama period – (reflecting the defeats, stalemate failure and war weariness of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations but still bullying) – to the Mussolini-like strutting and bluster of Donald Trump.
This latest desperation is like all Nazism, a signal of weakness and lost confidence needing the foulest jingoism and hate-populist hucksterism to try and recover the steadily losing position of the USA empire and stiffen-up sufficient aggression for lashing out in all directions to blame and bully the world for its spiralling collapse and failure.
It barely bothers to pay lip service to the niceties of “international law” any more as one liberal bourgeois commentary explains:
Under the circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising if you had missed the Associated Press report about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing that the United States “will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.” In fact, said Pompeo, some visas may already have been denied or revoked, but he refused to “provide details as to who has been affected and who will be affected” (supposedly to protect the confidentiality of visa applicants).
National Security Advisor John Bolton had already signaled such a move last September in a speech to the Federalist Society. In what the Guardian called an “excoriating attack” on the International Criminal Court, or ICC, Bolton said, “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”
By “unjust prosecution,” he clearly meant any attempt to hold Americans accountable for possible war crimes. An exception even among exceptional nations, the United States simply cannot commit such crimes. Hence, by the logic of Bolton or Pompeo, any prosecution for such a crime must, by definition, be unjust.
In calling it “this illegitimate court,” Bolton was referring to the only international venue now in existence for trying alleged war criminals whose countries cannot or will not prosecute them. By “our allies,” Bolton appeared to mean Israel, a supposition Pompeo confirmed last week when he told reporters, “These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis.”
And when it came to threats, Bolton didn’t stop there. He also suggested that the U.S. might even arrest ICC officials:
“We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”
This is a dangerous precedent indeed, as the director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Human Rights Project, Jamil Dakwar, told Democracy Now. It’s outrageous, he pointed out, that the U.S. would prosecute “judges and the prosecutors of the ICC for doing their job and for doing the job that the United States should have done — that is, to investigate, credibly and thoroughly, war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed in the course of the war in Afghanistan.”
The story goes back to December 2017, when Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, announced an investigation into the possibility that U.S. military and CIA personnel had committed war crimes during America’s Afghan War or in other countries “that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.” These included some of the countries that hosted the CIA’s so-called black sites, where, in the earlier years of the war on terror, detainees were held incommunicado and tortured. Specifically, the ICC opened an investigation into the possible commission of “war crimes, including torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape, and other forms of sexual violence by U.S. armed forces and members of the CIA on the territories of Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, and Lithuania.”
When Bensouda made her announcement, it looked as if at least some Americans might finally be held accountable for crimes committed in the post-9/11 “war on terror” launched to avenge the criminal deaths of 3,000 souls in New York City and Washington, D.C. That never-ending war has seen the United States illegally invade and occupy Iraq; directly kill at least 210,000 civilians (not to mention actual combatants) in Iraq and Afghanistan; torture an unknown number of prisoners; and continue to detain without trial or conviction 39 men at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba.
But wait. Aren’t U.S. personnel immune from ICC prosecution, because Washington never ratified the treaty that created the court?
That’s true, but the alleged crimes didn’t take place in the United States. They were committed in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, and Lithuania, all of which have ratified the treaty. Note that Thailand, site of egregious CIA abuses, doesn’t appear on the ICC’s list, nor does Iraq (the site of the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison, among other things), presumably because neither is a signatory to the treaty.
However, before it could prosecute such crimes, the ICC would have to investigate any potential charges, interview possible witnesses, and gather the evidence necessary to prepare an indictment. That would undoubtedly require its investigators to visit the United States. This, say Bolton and Pompeo, will never be permitted.
To add to the world bullying threat paralysing the Brexiters, Trump himself makes clear that no depravity is too great to get in the way of total support for likes of Saudi Arabia’s murderous mafia-thug “royals” or the ever more genocidal atrocities imposed by the Nazi-Jewish occupation of Palestine, once more blitzing the Gaza strip this week for collective punishment against the masses held in concentration camp misery and besieged deprivation, on top of the regular weekly butchery of its non-violent Naqba protests.
Just the opposite, his latest pronouncements are that might alone is right, however degenerate and vicious.
Such was always the reality of imperialism’s colonial tyrannies and world enslavement but is now openly enshrined as a “right of conquest” which would have stuck in the throat even of medieval kings:
Donald Trump has announced that the US will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967, in a dramatic move likely to bolster Benjamin Netanyahu’s hopes to win re-election, but which will also provoke international opposition.
Previous US administrations have treated Golan Heights as occupied Syrian territory, in line with UN security council resolutions. Trump declared his break with that policy, in a tweet on Thursday.
He said: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”
By defying a 52-year-old unanimously adopted UN resolution on “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, Trump has also broken the postwar norm of refusing to recognise the forcible annexation of territory – which has underpinned western and international opposition to the Russian annexation of Crimea.
“The United States relies on these core principles regarding peaceful dispute resolution and rejecting acquisition of territory by force,” Tamara Cofman Wittes, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, wrote on Twitter. Wittes, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, added the move “yanks the rug out from under US policy opposing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, as well as US views on other disputed territories.”
Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, quickly tweeted his gratitude for Trump’s gesture.
“At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the Israeli prime minister wrote. “Thank you President Trump!”
The announcement came as Netanyahu was hosting the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in Jerusalem.
“President Trump has just made history,” Netanyahu said. “I called him. I thanked him on behalf of the people of Israel. The message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel.”
Pompeo said: “President Trump tonight made the decision to recognise that hard-fought real estate, that important place is proper to be sovereign part of the state of Israel.”
He added: “The people of Israel should know that the battles they fought, the lives that they lost on that very ground, were worthy, meaningful and important for all time.”
The announcement marks a diplomatic coup for Netanyahu, two weeks before a close fought election, and four days before he is due to visit Washington.
Administration officials had previously rebuffed Netanyahu’s pressure for recognition of Israel’s possession of the strategic border area, pointing out that Trump had already handed the Israeli leader a significant political gift by moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Recognition of the Golan could pave the way for US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Palestinian occupied territories. In a recent state department report on human rights, the administration changed its description of the West Bank and Gaza from “occupied territories” to “Israeli-controlled territories”.
Robert Malley, a former Middle East adviser to Barack Obama and now head of the International Crisis Group, said: “This decision is intensely political – timed to boost Netanyahu’s electoral chances; gratuitous – it will not alter in any way Israel’s control of the Golan Heights; in disregard of international law; and an ominous step at a time when voices in Israel calling for the annexation of the West Bank are growing louder.”
He added: “It is of a piece with the administration’s one-sided Mideast policy and confirms that its goal is not Arab-Israeli peace but a fundamental redrawing of the parameters that have governed its pursuit.”
Israel advanced into the Golan Heights gradually in the years following the 1948 war Arab-Israeli war, and occupied it entirely in the 1967 war. That year, UN security council resolution 242 stressed the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every state in the area can live in security”.
A further resolution, supported by the Reagan administration in 1981, rejected as “null and void” a move to put the area under direct Israeli jurisdiction.
Over the decades there have been a string of abortive attempts to negotiate a peaceful solution to the fate of the Golan Heights – most recently in 2010 when the Obama administration and Netanyahu engaged in secret talks with the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, on a peace treaty involving Israeli withdrawal.
But that effort foundered with the spread of the Arab Spring revolt to Syria, and Assad’s decision to crush the rebellion by massacring protesters in 2011.
Frederic Hof, a former senior state department official involved in those negotiations, told the Guardian on Thursday that annexation “would be an entirely gratuitous gesture with potential diplomatic downsides for Israel and for the security of Israelis”.
Hof said: “It will be welcomed by Israel’s bitterest enemies – Iran and Hezbollah – who would see annexation as additional justification for terror operations. It would enable Syria’s Assad regime to change the subject from its war crimes and crimes against humanity to Israel’s formal acquisition of territory in violation of UN security council resolution 242. It would do nothing whatsoever positive for Israel’s security.”
These last paragraphs embody the fearfulness of the more liberal wing of the bourgeoisie, concerned - rightly - that this in-your-face contempt for the post-war paraphernalia of “human rights”, international government and economic “support” (i.e imposed “free market” wage slavery), Geneva conventions and “standards of decency” etc, can only confirm to the world what a stinking and hoodwinking fraud they have always been, just like the entire pretence of democracy which covers up the actual dictatorship of the bourgeoisie which rules in fact.
Their fear, like that of all liberalism at root, is not out of “principle” or concern for the masses but the opposite, because it will feed the great rebelliousness which has long been developing against “Western” (i.e capitalist imperialist) exploitation.
And while the jihadism and “terrorism” form, that much of the incipient anti-imperialism emerges in at present, is still hampered by religious ideology, sometimes trapping movements for years in self-defeating sectarianism and backwardness, the necessities of struggle and conflict will constantly push the world’s masses towards a sounder understanding eventually (as already glimpsed in the non-sectarian southern Iraq Shia movements opposed to the sellout US-stoogery of the existing Baghdad Shia government).
The brutal civilian blitzing just used by US special forces and their stooge Kurdish allies to defeat the last elements of the fanatical ISIS movement in Syria, repeating the turkey-shoot depravities which wiped out tens of thousands of innocent victims in totally bomb flattened Iraqi and Syrian cities, like Falluja, Mosul and Raqqa, may have temporarily “sorted out” this upheaval for the US.
But it will also compound the deep hatreds of the entire Third World, as well as inevitably regenerating the massive local anti-occupation hostility which produced this movement in the first place.
Its attempts to create some alternative to the depravities of capitalism, however brutal and bizarre, will not go away as this bourgeois piece tries to explain:
United States-backed fighters retook the final enclave of the Islamic State “caliphate” on Saturday in Baghuz, eastern Syria. With thick beards and wearing kaftans, Isis militants continued to emerge from underground tunnels over the weekend, surrendering to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Unlike Donald Trump, who has already announced the downfall or imminent destruction of Islamic State many times, the SDF spokesman carefully described the “100% territorial defeat of Isis”. Certainly, this turn of events will force a step change for Isis, but it is one that it is prepared for.
As a political structure, the “caliphate” was fundamentally unstable. It was defined by a savage propaganda of slavery, beheadings and crucifixion, much of which contributed to a fair deal of internal disquiet. There were scores of executions of even top commanders and ideologists for dissent or disloyalty. The Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was said to have survived a coup attempt by a group of north African fighters as recently as January. But Isis had emerged out of a bloody and bitter dispute with al-Qaida in 2014 – they continue to execute each other’s fighters – and retained within its leadership style an ingrained, almost compulsive, proclivity for excommunication.
Isis replaced victimhood with bloodlust. Ideologically, it became fixated on the search for moral purity within the territories it controlled and, as a consequence, murdered tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis, including the mass killing of fellow Sunni Muslims for “apostasy”. It readily publicised its killing machine. At the time of the SDF offensive, Isis was heading towards the sort of jihadist bankruptcy that Osama bin Laden once cautioned against.
The collapsed caliphate could now force Isis to reset, and “correct” course. The shift in the power balance enables it to reclaim the mantle of victimhood and, at the same time, reimagine its past as a utopian enterprise. This myth-making will inevitably boost its efforts to refocus on the main target of global jihad: the west. It is only helped along by far-right extremism of the sort behind the attack in New Zealand, which makes newly relevant a large part of mainstream jihadist discourse about Muslims under siege, even in the west.
Isis ideology has always interacted with the historical moment. Amid the violent contest for power in post-invasion Iraq, Isis’s antecedent groups broke with Bin Ladenism in 2005 and focused on anathematising Shia Muslims. They also reinvented jihadism as a state-building project on account of their tactical alliance with former officials from Saddam Hussein’s state, and the urgent need to seize and hold territory.
When, in 2010, these groups were looking down the barrel of strategic defeat, a cultish strain emerged, fixating on the apocalypse and waiting for the arrival of the messiah. Now, with the uprooting of the caliphate, we can expect a strong nostalgic motif that yearns for – and seeks to avenge the fall of – an idealised, just society.
This shape-shifting will continue for as long as the operating environment for Isis is marked by despair and sweeping trauma. In Iraq, the state has continued to brutalise Sunnis, denying them the right of human dignity and the rule of law. In Anbar province, Sunni tribesmen armed to fight Isis now refuse to surrender their weapons, fearing state-linked Shia militia. Just as Isis was said to have thrown gay men from rooftops, so Iraqi security forces allegedly hurl prisoners from cliffs. Like Isis, they are reported to film themselves extracting confessions under torture, burning captives alive and beheading children.
It is unlikely Iraq will turn the page on its recent history of toxic sectarianism, as the leaders of notorious Shia security forces such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr Organisation are now embedded in the parliamentary system. Baghdad is also pushed further towards the embrace of Iran by Trump’s disengagement from the region, as symbolised by President Rouhani’s tour of Iraq this month.
The US drawdown in Syria leaves it with even less influence over the shape of a postwar settlement, which will be led by Russia, Iran and Turkey, and is sure to amount to enforced surrender on the part of Bashar al-Assad’s opposition. Beyond that, the fate of an exhausted, abused and grieving generation of Sunni Syrians is uncertain.
Isis has already changed skins. It announced the switch to guerrilla tactics last July, when its fighters emerged from desert hideouts to massacre more than 200 people in the Druze community of Sweida, in southern Syria. It has resurfaced in the Anbar and Nineveh provinces of Iraq, conducting car bombings and night operations in rural villages. There is speculation about a return to Mosul for hundreds of fighters pushed out of Syria. There are local press reports of urban sleeper cells, and cash and weapons buried in the sand. Meanwhile, across the region, Isis affiliates are assertive in Egypt, Libya and Afghanistan, and are spreading farther afield, from the Philippines to Burkina Faso.
Baghuz is certainly not the last gasp for Isis in Iraq and Syria, but rather a sharp intake of breath before it goes underground. For years the organisation has prepared for this scenario: ultimately, a return to its guerrilla roots. It may well benefit from a fresh narrative, grounded in nostalgia rather than bloodlust. It will also gain some strategic advantage from the rise of the far right in the west, and most importantly, from the failure in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, to offer a more just, law-based alternative on the ground.
Alia Brahimi is co-founder of Legatus Global and a former research fellow at Oxford University and the LSE
Snidey academic phrases about “the mantle of victimhood” etc are a sly way to slip around the material realities which drove this movement and the many others which have erupted across Africa, (Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, CAR, etc) the Philippines, Indonesia etc.
If it was unstable, and if there is “shape-shifting” underway to ‘reset, and “correct” course’ it is less an attempt simply to disguise itself in a new form underground and more the reality of an evolution of understanding in the anti-imperialism of the masses throughout the region which has produced these eruptions in terrorism and insurgency in the first place (beginning as bourgeois nationalist resistance to the bloody and brutal American occupation of Iraq).
As the EPSR has explained, against the cowardice and capitulation of the entire fake-“left” and its denunciations of “terrorism” in general and ISIS in particular, these movements are driven by the crisis and the growing hatred of imperialist blitzkrieg and torture tyranny (which has wreaked far greater horrors and massacres, far more brutally and on a far greater scale than anything even this ISIS has actually carried out or had the potential to do).
While they are not the way forwards Marxism would advocate, in theory or tactics at this time, much of which can be counter-productive, it is complete treachery to denounce and condemn all this upheaval, and even to join in the “fight against terror” as some fake-“leftism” advocates.
Neither declaring that such terrorism is “nothing but head banging reaction” as some of the Stalinists do, or volunteering to join the Kurdish YPG and thereby fighting not just alongside but under the strategic direction of US special forces (and British, French and other imperialist “allies”) and the indiscriminate civilian butchering air bombardments of their air power, is nothing but a complete renunciation of revolutionary understanding and a capitulation to the propaganda hatred poured out by imperialism.
It is fear of the testimony of ISIS “volunteers” describing the atrocities carried out against women and children by the Western blitzings (which began long before ISIS etc existed at all, in the 2002 invasion of Iraq eg) which is a key reason for the inhumane and utterly non-democratic non-“rule of law” stripping of citizenship from Shamima Begum for example.
Even some upstanding establishment figures, like the internationally famous artist Anish Kapoor (he did the Olympic Park tower) can see things a little more clearly than the revisionist “democracy” befuddled “lefts”, as this snippet from a recent interview shows:
Sir Anish Mikhail Kapoor, CBE, RA, the 65-year-old, Turner prize-winning, Mumbai-born British-Indian artist, who has lived in London since the early 1970s and (though this is hardly the point) speaks better English than most of his countrymen, had woken up in a new land. “Since then permission has been given for difference, rather than being celebrated, to be undermined.”
Kapoor’s latest exhibition, a suite of mirrors and other discombobulating reflective sculptures, some inspired by Lewis Carroll, opens on Saturday at Pitzhanger Manor in London. Like Alice, Britain has gone through the looking glass, splintered its image and emerged in darkness.
The sense of being diminished for the colour of his skin in a resurgently racist Britain is one reason Kapoor has decided to campaign for Shamima Begum, the young Londoner who joined Isis in Syria aged 15 and has since had three children die there, most recently her three-week-old son, Jarrah. “One of the good things about Britain is that people from all over the world lived here, reasonably tolerantly with different views,” says Kapoor. “Increasingly that’s less likely to be the case. We’re seeing a kind of enforced normality where you have to prove you’re a real Brit in some way that fits the populist agenda. Come on! Britons are better than that.”
Kapoor is not Muslim, but Jewish (he was born to a Jewish mother of Iraqi ancestry and a Hindu father). Nevertheless, Begum’s case resonates with him. “There’s this real sense for me of who’s next? There’s an atmosphere of vilifying Muslims for having extreme views. If I was a young Muslim, would I feel angry enough to have joined Isis? I would at least think about it.”
Kapoor’s own “liberal British values” illusions are ultimately part of the problem too, but at least he thinks through and see the material conditions which have driven the emergence of such large scale movements.
But the only thinking the fake-“left” has done, is in finding ever more convoluted ways to pretend that all the great wave of revolt and insurgency is either straightforwardly reactionary or in fact, completely organised by imperialism itself, being nothing but “mercenaries” and “agents” for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
They use the obvious fact that imperialism has either tolerated (Iran) or even manipulated Islamic backwardness in the past - notably in the way it allowed the mullahs to takeover the spontaneous 1979 anti-Shah revolt (in order to block off any communist leadership) and in arming and financing the mujahideen opposition to Soviet backing for the 1980s socialist regime in Afghanistan) - to write off all such upheaval as therefore just reactionary.
Further imperialist attempts to fund and twist some of the Islamic fundamentalism in Syria particularly, to “deal with” the recalcitrant bourgeois nationalist and partially anti-Zionist Assad regime have been used to further “justify” this craven retreat from any Marxist material perspective of the world.
It gets them off the hook of having to go against tide of petty bourgeois opinion in the west which has been saturated in “war on terror” demonising propaganda, turning things upside down to blame such revolts for all the problems emerging from the crisis, and which are solely the responsibility of the capitalist system and its disastrous and vicious collapse.
But this contemptuous write-off is essentially a racist dismissal of the notion that the Third World is capable of generating and organising such revolts spontaneously (because “really it is Western intelligence doing it”) and one that presents the Western world as completely in charge of developments, the “puppet-masters” even of the revolution against it.
Such a view reflects only the petty bourgeois awe of the ruling class lying deep within all such fake-“leftism”, which does not seriously believe revolution is either possible or, deepest of all, that it is really desirable at all.
It also sees the “lefts” tangled up in all kinds of confusion and even reaction, beginning with the illusion mongering in the flaky Assad regime as being some kind of future for the working class (and currently fostering the daft idea that post-civil war capitalist Syria is now “stable” and can be “rebuilt” - in the middle of the greatest world economic collapse ever!!!!!!)
Its sweeping write off also paints all “terrorism” as reactionary.
Not only is that completely unMarxist but it means standing against even the Hamas leadership of the Palestinian Gaza revolt.
And it writes off such movements as the Sinai jihadists fighting the brutal General Sisi dictatorship in Cairo, with some of the “left” (notably the Lalkar/Proletarian Stalinists) even supporting the barbaric military suppression carried out by this restoration of the Mubarak regime with its street massacres, torture and mass executions (see last week).
It also fails to explain why Washington has had to spend so much effort, in finance and military muscle to destroy ISIS and other Islamic insurgency if it is “just a mercenary tool”. Why destroy your own carefully constructed instrument?
Because most of the jihadism is no such thing of course, and even those sections which have been twisted to Western use, (or even deliberately set up) are highly unstable in such a role, tending to “blow back” disastrously for Washington and others (as ISIS has done, and as the MI6 fostered anti-Gaddafi Libyans did, carrying out the Manchester bombing).
This is world revolution in embryo in all its initial crudity and violence, and it is historic betrayal to condemn it.
Marxist understanding has major differences with the barmy ideologies emerging, but if they strike blows against imperialism that is only to be welcomed.
One further consequence of this twisted “left” retreat has been that it offers no obstacles to, or even – in the worst interpretation – helps to reinforce the foul scapegoating Islamophobia deliberately inflamed by the Trumpite and other reaction to muddy the waters and justify its aggression.
Without two decades of Middle Eastern blitzkrieging, civilian massacres and torture, wiping out Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan and currently threatening 12 million with famine in Yemen, the sad and backward sickos making up the Islamophobic white supremacist groups would barely exist, let alone be driven into the kind of psychotic outburst of scapegoating violence that shocked “quiet and peaceful” New Zealand (as the western intelligence agencies rushed make sure the press called this still largely white-colonialist dominated country).
The usual platitudes have been rushed out to blame “social media” and call for “controls on online grooming” etc etc but the reality is that capitalism itself deliberately generates all this backwardness as part of its demonisation and deliberate hate-mongering to whip up the atmosphere for oncoming world war.
It is not countered by the fake -“lefts”.
Nor is Trumpism stopped by the floundering liberalism in the US, and its hopeless reliance on “legal process” now backfiring after two years of accusations about Russian collusion (always reactionary anyway) have been thrown back in their faces.
Trump is there, because desperate US imperialism needs this fascist bluster and belligerence to ride out the capitalist Catastrophe and no half-hearted “democracy” illusions are going to stop it .
Back to the top
Discussion (continued from No 1552)
Distorting Lenin’s April Theses
Combatting attempts to undermine Leninism by the fake-“lefts” (arising out of their hatred of the dictatorship of proletariat) by distorting the historical record of the Soviet Union’s revolutionary history –– Part Six
Lenin’s warnings about attempts to restore the monarchy were based on a sound Marxist understanding of the history the class struggles. As Marx and Engels had understood, once a bourgeois revolution had been accomplished, to the extent that bourgeoisie had wrested state power from absolutism, the bourgeoisie will form an alliance with the remnants of the old monarchist order against the revolutionary proletariat which provides the life-blood of the revolution, in order to prevent the revolution from deepening and risking the overthrow of bourgeois society itself. They will seek to preserve the Royalist forces of repression, the police, the armed forces and the bureaucracy, and use them to prevent the proletariat from taking power.
This was the experience in France following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814. The restored Legitimist monarchy, backed by the landed proprietors, until it was overthrown by the 1830 July revolution. It was replaced by the Orleanist monarchist faction, which was backed by the financial aristocracy and industrial bourgeoisie. In February 1848, the Orleanist monarchy was overthrown following an uprising of the proletariat and the petty and liberal bourgeoisies. A Second Republic was pronounced. In June the proletariat rose against the bourgeoisie and was brutally suppressed. Following the July Days uprising, the bourgeoisie fell in behind the monarchist factions in a Party of Order which, in December 1848, welcomed the election of Louis Bonaparte to power. The monarchists backed Bonaparte, as they saw in him the possibility of a restored monarchy, whilst the bourgeoisie saw in him the best means to suppress the industrial proletariat [see Marx, the Class Struggles in France, 1848 – 1850].
Lenin had this in mind when he warned of attempts to restore the monarchy after the February revolution. In May, over a month after Lenin’s return from exile on attempts by the Provisional Government to restore the monarchist, Tsarist methods and machinery of government (by now supposedly “nudged in the right direction by the Petrograd Bolsheviks”), Lenin wrote:
The representatives of the landowners and capitalists sitting in the Provisional Government are determined to preserve the old tsarist machinery of government: officials “appointed” from above. That is what all bourgeois parliamentary republics in the world have nearly always been doing, except for brief periods of revolution in some countries. That is what was done to prepare the ground for the return from a republic to a monarchy, for a return to the Napoleons, to the military dictators. And that is what the Cadets are bent on doing when they copy those unhappy examples,
This is a very serious matter. We should not deceive ourselves. By such measures the Provisional Government, whether it means to or not, is preparing the ground for a restoration of the monarchy in Russia.
The entire responsibility for any possible—and to a certain extent inevitable—attempt to restore the monarchy in Russia rests with the Provisional Government, which is undertaking such counter-revolutionary measures. Officials “appointed” from above to “direct” the local population have always been a sure step towards the restoration of the monarchy, in the same way as the standing army and the police.
The Yeniseisk Soviet is a thousand times right, both practically and in principle. The return of local officials who have been driven out by the peasants should not be allowed. The introduction of “appointed” officials should not be tolerated. Only such bodies in the local areas should be recognised as have been set up by the people themselves.
[Lenin, What the counter-revolutionary steps of the provisional government lead to, Vol 24, May 11 1917.]
Four months after the last Lenin quote, the Kornilov counter-revolutionary revolt broke out. It was an attempt by the bourgeoisie and landowners to capture Petrograd, smash the Bolshevik Party, disband the Soviets, establish a military dictatorship, and pave the way for the restoration of the monarchy in some form. Kerensky, who Lenin had begun to describe as a Bonapartist, had initially joined the conspiracy, but once the revolt began, and fearful of the consequences a defeat would have on his leadership ambitions, turned against Kornilov and declared him to be a rebel against the Provisional Government. The revolt was put down by the workers and peasants under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party.
On September 1, resulting from the defeat of the Kornilov counter-revolution, the Provisional Government declared that Russia would now be a republic, thereby resolving the status of the monarchy. This did not mean that monarchist hopes for restoration did not go away. Monarchist remnants formed a key part of the counter-revolutionary White Terror gangs that launched a civil war against the October revolution as soon as the Bolsheviks had taken power.
Lih makes further attempts to minimise Lenin’s role, and imply he was “out-of-touch” when discussing “defeatism”:
“Defeatism” was a slogan advanced by Lenin (and very few other Bolsheviks) as part of European intra-socialist polemics during the war years. This slogan was never going to fly with a mass audience, as the Bolsheviks quickly discovered in the new post-February context of open mass politics. Pravda articles in March 1917 reveal that the Bolsheviks were taking a beating due to the widespread association of their party with ‘defeatism’. Indeed, the soldier section of the Petrograd soviet was so ‘defencist’ that they regarded the ‘defeatist’ Bolsheviks as traitors.
A minority of Bolsheviks may have “advanced” the slogan initially, but the theses in which it was first proposed, The Tasks of Revolutionary Social-Democracy in the European War [August 1914 – NS], was approved in Russia following discussions by the Russian section of the Central Committee, Party organisations, and the Bolshevik Duma Group and became party policy.
Furthermore, he belittles Lenin’s polemical battle for understanding by asserting that it was a “part of European intra-socialist polemics during the war years” as if his polemical fight for the truth about the nature of the inter-imperialist war and the correct response Bolsheviks should take to advance the socialist revolution was an academic debating exercise that bore no relation to reality. Who are these so-called “socialists” Lih mentions anyway? Lenin characterised the petty-bourgeois opponents of his ‘defeatist’ line “conscious partisans or helpless satellites of the social-chauvinists”, and even “enemies to proletarian policy”:
During a reactionary war a revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its government. This is axiomatic, and disputed only by conscious partisans or helpless satellites of the social-chauvinists. Among the former, for instance, is Semkovsky of the Organising Committee (No. 2 of its Izvestia), and among the latter, Trotsky and Bukvoyed, 134 and Kautsky in Germany. To desire Russia’s defeat, Trotsky writes, is “an uncalled-for and absolutely unjustifiable concession to the political methodology of social-patriotism, which would replace the revolutionary struggle against the war and the conditions causing it, with an orientation—highly arbitrary in the present conditions—towards the lesser evil” (Nashe Slovo No. 105).
This is an instance of high-flown phraseology with which Trotsky always justifies opportunism. A “revolutionary struggle against the war” is merely an empty and meaningless exclamation, something at which the heroes of the Second International excel, unless it means revolutionary action against one’s own government even in wartime. One has only to do some thinking in order to understand this. Wartime revolutionary action against one’s own government indubitably means, not only desiring its defeat, but really facilitating such a defeat. (“Discerning reader”: note that this does not mean “blowing up bridges”, organising unsuccessful strikes in the war industries, and in general helping the government defeat the revolutionaries.)
The phrase-bandying Trotsky has completely lost his bearings on a simple issue. It seems to him that to desire Russia’s defeat means desiring the victory of Germany. (Bukvoyed and Semkovsky give more direct expression to the “thought”, or rather want of thought, which they share with Trotsky.) But Trotsky regards this as the “methodology of social-patriotism”! To help people that are unable to think for themselves, the Berne resolution (Sotsial-Demokrat No. 40)* made it clear that in all imperialist countries the proletariat must now desire the defeat of its own government. Bukvoyed and Trotsky preferred to avoid this truth, while Semkovsky (an opportunist who is more useful to the working class than all the others, thanks to his naïvely frank reiteration of bourgeois wisdom) blurted out the following: “This is nonsense, because either Germany or Russia can win” (Izvestia No. 2).
To repudiate the defeat slogan means allowing one’s revolutionary ardour to degenerate into an empty phrase, or sheer hypocrisy.
What is the substitute proposed for the defeat slogan? It is that of “neither victory nor defeat” (Semkovsky in Izvestia No. 2; also the entire Organising Committee in No. 1). This, however, is nothing but a paraphrase of the “defence of the fatherland” slogan. It means shifting the issue to the level of a war between governments (who, according to the content of this slogan, are to keep to their old stand, “retain their positions”), and not to the level of the struggle of the oppressed classes against their governments! It means justifying the chauvinism of all the imperialist nations, whose bourgeoisie are always ready to say—and do say to the people—that they are “only” fighting “against defeat”. “The significance of our August 4 vote was that we are not for war but against defeat,” David, a leader of the opportunists, writes in his book. The Organising Committee, together with Bukvoyed and Trotsky, stand on fully the same ground as David when they defend the “neither-victory-nor-defeat” slogan.
On closer examination, this slogan will be found to mean a “class truce”, the renunciation of the class struggle by the oppressed classes in all belligerent countries, since the class struggle is impossible without dealing blows at one’s “own” bourgeoisie, one’s “own” government, whereas dealing a blow at one’s own government in wartime is (for Bukvoyed’s information) high treason, means contributing to the defeat of one’s own country. Those who accept the “neither-victory-nor-defeat” slogan can only be hypocritically in favour of the class struggle, of “disrupting the class truce”; in practice, such people are renouncing an independent proletarian policy because they subordinate the proletariat of all belligerent countries to the absolutely bourgeois task of safeguarding the imperialist governments against defeat. The only policy of actual, not verbal disruption of the “class truce”, of acceptance of the class struggle, is for the proletariat to take advantage of the difficulties experienced by its government and its bourgeoisie in order to overthrow them. This, however, cannot be achieved or striven for, without desiring the defeat of one’s own government and without contributing to that defeat.
Whoever is in favour of the slogan of “neither victory nor defeat” is consciously or unconsciously a chauvinist; at best he is a conciliatory petty bourgeois but in any case he is an enemy to proletarian policy, a partisan of the existing governments, of the present-day ruling classes.
Those who stand for the “neither-victory-nor-defeat” slogan are in fact on the side of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists, for they do not believe in the possibility of international revolutionary action by the working class against their own governments, and do not wish to help develop such action, which, though undoubtedly difficult, is the only task worthy of a proletarian, the only socialist task. It is the proletariat in the most backward of the belligerent Great Powers which, through the medium of their party, have had to adopt—especially in view of the shameful treachery of the German and French Social-Democrats—revolutionary tactics that are quite unfeasible unless they “contribute to the defeat” of their own government, but which alone lead to a European revolution, to the permanent peace of socialism, to the liberation of humanity from the horrors, misery, savagery and brutality now prevailing.
[Lenin, Defeat of one’s government in imperialist war, Collected Works Volume 21, July 1915]
Lih’s workerist opportunism is further exposed when he goes on to argue that the “[defeatist] slogan was never going to fly with a mass audience…”, thereby suggesting that a slogan that appeals to the backwardness of the masses would be preferable to one that exposes the falseness of their prejudices and explains the true nature of the world (even if such a challenge temporarily places the revolutionary party in a tiny minority).
He then demonstrates his lack of understanding of the changed material conditions of post-February Russia by suggesting that the fact that Lenin stopped using the ‘defeatism’ slogan from April onwards was because he had fallen for such opportunism:
From the beginning of 1914 until his arrival in Russia in early April, Lenin strongly endorsed the slogan of ‘defeatism’. After his return from exile, the word suddenly vanished from his vocabulary and was never heard from him again. … Lenin was perfectly open about the motivation for this change: to craft a message that would reach the mass soviet constituency, particularly the soldiers.
In fact, Lenin had stopped using the slogan because the February Revolution had made it obsolete. Lih sneers at Lenin for gloating over Russia’s defeat by Germany and then suggests that Lenin had “changed his position following exposure to mass politics”. This is pure idealism – starting from the slogan, rather than material reality. Lenin was responding to the changed material conditions of post-February Russia. This is what Lih says:
Pravda articles in March 1917 reveal that the Bolsheviks were taking a beating due to the widespread association of their party with ‘defeatism’. Indeed, the soldier section of the Petrograd soviet was so ‘defencist’ that they regarded the ‘defeatist’ Bolsheviks as traitors. Charges of treason and betrayal of Russia put the Bolsheviks on the defensive, and they had to explain away ‘defeatism’ as best they could … In any event, Pravda insisted, the Bolsheviks did not call for soldiers simply to stick their bayonets in the ground or to voluntarily surrender.
After his return, Lenin also repeated the assurance about not simply sticking bayonets in the ground.
(In fact Lenin ruthlessly exposed those petty-bourgeois opportunists who were calling for the “sticking of bayonets in the ground” throughout the war period as the above quote from 1915 demonstrates.)
But in his Letter, prior to his immersion in mass politics, after noting the “series of extremely severe defeats sustained by Russia and her allies”, Lenin went on to make a bitter polemical point in defence of ‘defeatism’:
Those who, openly grovelling to the bourgeoisie or simply lacking backbone, howled and wailed against ‘defeatism’ are now faced by the fact of the historical connection between the defeat of the extremely backward and barbarous tsarist monarchy and the beginning of the revolutionary conflagration.
This polemical sally [from the First Letter from Afar] was cut [by the editors of Pravda]... A gloating reference by the leader of the party to Russia’s defeat by Germany was exactly what was not needed.
As can be seen in The Tasks of Revolutionary Social-Democracy in the European War (written by Lenin on behalf of a group of Social-Democrats, members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party at the outbreak of war), Lenin’s slogan, applied to the conditions of Russia, was aimed at Tsarism. He was calling for the defeat of the tsarist monarchy and its army, which had, by February been defeated:
It is the first and foremost task of Russian Social-Democrats to wage a ruthless and all-out struggle against Great-Russian and tsarist-monarchist chauvinism, and against the sophisms used by the Russian liberals, Cadets,5 a section of the Narodniks, and other bourgeois parties, in defence of that chauvinism. From the viewpoint of the working class and the toiling masses of all the peoples of Russia, the defeat of the tsarist monarchy and its army, which oppress Poland, the Ukraine, and many other peoples of Russia, and foment hatred among the peoples so as to increase Great-Russian oppression of the other nationalities, and consolidate the reactionary and barbarous government of the tsar’s monarchy, would be the lesser evil by far.
[Lenin, The tasks of revolutionary social-democracy in the European war, Collected Works Volume 22, August 1914]
(Concluding part next issue)
Back to the top