11/10/2013 by socialistfight
Mick McNair’s Rethinking Imperialism: An Open Letter To The CPGB (Communist Party Of Great Britain)
Mick McNair’s Rethinking Imperialism (WW 980) is third campist and his long historical analogies are a-historical. Like his AWL opponents in the original debate he reports on in 2004 his task is to deny what is specific about modern imperialism as analysed by Lenin and to elevate the secondary features to make comparisons. What is different today is the domination of finance capital and its alliance with trans-national corporations and their domination of the entire planet. There is no historical precedent for this which begun with the Great Depression of 1873 and was completed by the early 20th century. His description of Lenin’s position is wrong, in order to allow him to equate it its opposite, the Stalinist opportunist popular front alliances with the nationalist bourgeoisie to the detriment of the working class in the oppressed nation and also in the oppressor countries.
Of course Lenin insisted on the split between oppressed and oppressor nations but the whole point here was that the oppressor nations were the home of finance capital and the monopolies and the oppressed nations were it victims, including the national bourgeoisie, a “semi-oppressed, semi-oppressing” class in his marvellously dialectical phrase. Of course Lenin understood the concept of the aristocracy of Labour, and of course it is true that more than just a narrow layer in the Imperialist countries benefits from the booty of empire. Nonetheless what is essential is the ideological domination of Imperialism over the whole working class and the opportunities that crises like the current one gives to revolutionaries to challenge that domination exercised today by the TU bureaucracies, from Len McCluskey to Bob Crow. But it is absolutely untrue that “the logic of Lenin’s analysis is the alliance with the national bourgeoisie in the exploited countries; and in the imperialist countries the broad democratic alliance, including the petty bourgeoisie, against ‘monopoly capital’.”
This describes unprincipled Popular Frontism and Lenin and the early Comintern were very careful to draw very sharp distinction between the operation of the workers United Front tactic and the Anti Imperialist United Front and Menshevik-type class collaboration as practiced by Stalin and the degenerated Comintern post 1924. “No mixing of the red and the blue” was Trotsky line in China as in the domestic class struggle. Stalin mixed and drowned revolutions in blood in China 1927 (through centrist opportunism) in Germany in 1933 and Spain in 1936-9 (these latter two through a conscious counter-revolutionary strategy).
Ian Donovan too is wrong in thinking that the UF of AIUF is a political alliance although it must involve a certain political measure of support for both the TU bureaucrats and the national bourgeoisie when they are in conflict with capitalist or under Imperialist attack (letters WW 981). Trotsky did not supercede the AIUF by a generalisation of Permanent Revolution because he did not emphasise this in his analysis of why politically capitulating to Chiang Kai-shek led to the Shanghai massacre in 1927; the forces of world Imperialism was not involved in that particular incident. But it is clearly the AIUF that he is defending in his 1937 letter on China to Diego Rivera against the Effelite third campists of the day:
“In my declaration to the bourgeois press, I said that the duty of all the workers’ organizations of China was to participate actively and in the front lines of the present war against Japan, without abandoning, for a single moment, their own program and independent activity. But that is “social patriotism!” the Eiffelites cry. It is capitulation to Chiang Kai-shek! It is the abandonment of the principle of the class struggle! Bolshevism preached revolutionary defeatism in the imperialist war. Now, the war in Spain and the Sino-Japanese War are both imperialist wars. “Our position on the war in China is the same. The only salvation of the workers and peasants of China is to struggle independently against the two armies, against the Chinese army in the same manner as against the Japanese army.” These four lines, taken from an Eiffelite document of September 10, 1937, suffice entirely for us to say: we are concerned here with either real traitors or complete imbeciles. But imbecility, raised to this degree, is equal to treason.”
Comrade Gerry Downing, October 2013.