The Liberation of Aleppo and the RCIT

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07/12/2016 by socialistfight

Defeat US-led imperialism in the Middle East
Liaison Committee for the Fourth International Statement 7-12-16

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Michael Pröbsting, leader of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT).

The LCFI has made a detailed analysis of the forces defending Aleppo and who and what they represent politically. They are barbaric jihadists in the pay of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan all seeking to curry favour with and carry out the agenda of the USA in their own way.

But there are those who claim that these particular jihadist fighters represent the “democratic revolution” in Syria – “This democratic revolution has been distorted (!!) and hampered by the petty-bourgeois secular nationalist and Islamist leadership” they say. The author of these lines is Michael Pröbsting, leader of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT). We will now examine how the RCIT have come to adopt this truly extraordinary and appalling position in the name of revolutionary socialism and Trotskyism.

The RCIT plumbs the depths with their ridiculous “Syrian Revolution”

So how does Pröbsting square the circle and try to persuade us that, 1. Russia and Assad are the main enemy in the war in the Middle East. 2. That a genuine democratic revolution is still powering ahead and there are genuine revolutionary forces seeking to overthrow Assad which can yet overturn the reactionary leadership of the “popular masses” as he dubs them?

Their first and greatest mistake is on the question of imperialism. They have become defenders of US-dominated global imperialism on the false theory that there are now two equal and opposite imperialist forces in the planet, US Western Imperialism and Russian and Chinese dominated Eastern imperialism or rather there are two Great Powers facing each other and it is unprincipled to take either side. In practice, they always take the US imperialist side because the Russians and Chinese and their allies like Gaddafi and Assad are just too barbaric and brutal for words, we must believe. This is the logic that Sean Matgamna, leader of the Alliance for Workers Liberty, expressed many years ago:

“In the post-war world, where the USSR was the second great global power, recognition that the USA and Western Europe — advanced capitalism — was the more progressive of the contending camps, the one which gave richer possibilities, greater freedom, more for socialists to build on, was, I believe, a necessary part of the restoration of Marxist balance to socialist politics. It was a prerequisite for the reconstruction of Marxism after the systematic destruction of its concepts over a long period.” [1]

Furthermore, the use of the term “Great Powers” is very instructive because this was the term used in the first cold war after about 1949 to equate Russia and the US by western propaganda. And this anti-Marxist terminology was adopted by Mao Tse Tung to justify his Three Worlds theory where the US and Russia comprised the First world, the other imperialist countries, in Europe, Japan etc. were the Second world and the semicolonial countries, including China was the Third world. And having made them equal it was, of course principled to side with either one against the other. Of course, Mao sided with the USA against the USSR invariable from Nixon and ping pong diplomacy in 1973 while the US was raining Napalm and Agent Orange on Vietnam, to support for the Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973 and Mobutu in the Congo/Zaire in 1973 and Apartheid South Africa in 1975 against the MPLA in Angola. The RCIT are threading a well work pro-imperialist path.

As we had already noted in The Dördüncü Blok and the RCIT, LCFI Statement 25/7/2016, Extract:

One puzzling thing for those not familiar with the politics of the RCIT is the use of the phrase “Great Powers”. This is a quaint term from the epoch of colonialism so we had to look up its modern application. It is the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and Japan; China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Japan. Why not say ‘imperialism’, the modern Marxist term? [2]

The LCFI has refuted this nonsense in our statement, Russia and China are NOT Imperialist states:

“This makes quite clear that far from being imperialist powers both Russia and China are no more than semi-colonial countries, albeit very large and advanced ones, with some features of imperialism and which do aspire to be imperialists themselves in time. They are not linked to the global web of US Imperialism in the same way as minor imperialisms like Holland and Belgium or allied to it in a more equal though still subordinate way like Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada. No, they are in the upper level of semi-colonial countries and recognise themselves as such by allying as the BRICS; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.” [3]

And Socialist Fight’s Eight Indices of US-led World Imperialism exposes the idiocy of trying to equate Russia and China with the overwhelming economic and militarily superiority of the global hegemonic power, the USA. [4]

Flowing on from that in defence of point 2 Pröbsting says:

“But contrary to the numerous pseudo-left doomsayers, until now the Syrian Revolution has neither been defeated nor has it lost its democratic and progressive character. The Revolution continues to live though the Local Coordination Committees, through the numerous popular organizations, through the tens of thousands of rebel fighters and their militias and the millions of Syrian workers, peasants and refugees who are supporting the ongoing liberation struggle.”

Having lifted his spirits with this revolutionary optimism in the future of the jihadist, CIA/Wahhabi-backed revolution he feels obliged to issue a few words of caution. There are problems ahead, two things in particular are missing:

“The RCIT reaffirms that the most significant failure of the Syrian Revolution has been both a product and a manifestation of the absence of a revolutionary party and independent mass working class organizations. Therefore, the strategic task of authentic Syrian revolutionaries is to fight against the non-revolutionary leaderships and for the creation of independent proletarian organizations by participating inside the camp of the Syrian Revolution.”

So, no revolutionary party, not even independent organisations of the working class but we can fight for these, he claims. Five forces are attacking “the revolution”:

  1. Assad and his “barbarous war” and his Russian backers “against the Syrian people” (apart from the Syrian people who support Assad, who do not count, we must rest assured) and “against the besieged people of eastern Aleppo a brutal siege which threatens to annihilate this enclave of resistance in the country’s biggest city”.
  2. Syrian Revolution is under attack by Daesh (the so-called “Islamic State” [must use that mandatory so-called term as decreed by all the news media] which is “not on attacking the Assad regime but rather on attempting to destroy the Syrian and Kurdish rebels”.
  3. Then the “Kurdish PYD/YPG leadership – while standing at the head of a legitimate struggle for national self-determination for the Kurdish people – is betraying both the Syrian Revolution as well as the Kurdish liberation struggle by voluntarily offering itself as a wilful servant both to US as well as Russian imperialism”. (One would have thought that its assistance to the US was helping the rebels by fighting ISIS? But that might now have changed, at least for now, as we saw above.)
  4. The “Erdoğan regime” (a term you use for governments you want to get rid in coups etc.) “which sent the Turkish army – with the help of some corrupt Free Syrian Army (FSA) leaders” 9there are some non-corrupt YPG leaders?) to “weaken the Kurdish liberation struggle”. (ignoring the US CIA [Kerry] backing of the FSA against the US Pentagon [Obama] backing of the PYD/YPG. Kerry has won that one for now).
  5. And on top of all that “the Syrian Revolution is threatened by the betrayal and backward goals of its fragmented leadership. A sector – like those in the Syrian National Council – has always looked for help from US imperialism and is ready to offer itself as servants to Washington’s plans.” And to make matters worse “another sector of the leadership – among them a number of FSA leaders – has proven to be self-serving, corrupt and incompetent”. (so implicitly there are some who are not-pro US? Like who? The Jihadist/Caliphate builders, of course, silly me).

This is a very bleak and hopeless scenario we are forces to conclude, maybe there really is no Syrian Revolution left. One might liken it to a Formula One car without an engine, without wheels, a gearbox or a driver which they confidently tell us is just about to take the chequered flag. Oh you “pseudo-left doomsayers” of course there is a great revolution in train and a very powerful and realistic hope of victory too, they assure us.  Meanwhile we are pleased to note that Workers Power/LFI, as was, are at last coming to their senses on Syria, much to the disgust of the RCIT. But it is a long way back for them; they still have to rationalise their support for the debacle in Libya in 2011 and why they have gone so far with the Jihadists in Syria.

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Pröbsting flags up his contempt for failure of these fainthearted “pseudo-left doomsayers” to go all the way with the jihadists. He notes slates their ‘cowardice’: “the League for the 5th International” which recently wrote: “Meanwhile, the Islamist forces, even those defending the besieged populations, are, at the same time, trying to smother the most progressive aspects of the Syrian revolution (indeed!). In short, the Syrian revolution is on the point of expiring.” [5] The example of the actions of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham/Jabhat al-Nusra in supressing a demonstration for democratic rights show that they are correct about “the revolution” though very late in coming to that conclusion.

Where, in whom resides the revolution? “The heroic struggle of millions of Syrian workers, peasants and youth is living testimony to the ongoing revolutionary process” you say. But still who, where?

“The petty-bourgeois Islamist forces like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Ahrar al-Sham certainly have many dedicated fighters in their ranks and are also far more competent militarily than various FSA units. Without a doubt, these petty-bourgeois forces are currently the most significant defenders of the areas liberated from Assad’s hordes.” [6]

So the child head choppers and heart eaters are “dedicated”, “competent” and “significant defenders”, we learn. In these rests the great hope of the Syrian revolution. You might speculate that he has taken leave of his senses at this point until we remember Yossi Schwartz said approximately the same thing before his fusion with the RCIT in 2013.

“At this conjuncture of history in Afghanistan, in Palestine, in Mali the imperialists are on one side and the Islamists on the other. This of course can be changed and this would not be the first time in the history of the last 100 years that the Islamists would serve the imperialists. But today the Islamists are fighting against the imperialists and today Revolutionary Marxists are on the same side as the Islamists in the conflict against Assad’s tyranny without giving the petit bourgeois or bourgeois secular or religious forces any political support.” (our emphasis) [7]

We comment on that:

“We do not have to go back 100 years to find “Islamists” in the service of Imperialism. The CIA sponsored Bin Laden and armed the Afghan Mujahideen against the USSR in the 80s. The CIA sponsored the fundamentalist Muslim zealots in Libya against Gaddafi.

… Yossi now finds himself to the right of his former International Marxist Tendency (IMT) comrades on the question of the leadership of this ‘revolution’. In an article on 14th March 2013 What the Assad regime was and what it has become – Part Three, the IMT’s Fred Weston says:

“The situation is now far more complicated. Many revolutionary youth are still fighting to remove the hated dictator and all his hangers on. But what determines the real nature of the opposition as a whole is its leadership and its programme. It is true that some sections of the Free Syrian Army have clashed with the fundamentalists that they see as having hijacked their revolution, but what is their alternative? The programme is fundamentally one of bourgeois democracy at best and Islamic fundamentalist reaction at worst. We must speak the truth and explain honestly what has happened. We are for the downfall of Assad, but we are also against imperialist intervention and the manoeuvres of the reactionary regimes in the region.” (our emphasis). [8] [9]

turkey-salafists

Yet Turkey has also invested heavily in rebel allies that both reject democracy and espouse extreme sectarianism. In particular, Turkey has developed a close relationship with Ahrar al-Sham (above), a Salafist rebel movement that espouses a Syrian focus, but also has roots in global jihadism and maintains close ties with Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusrah. Aside from the Islamic State, Ahrar is now the single strongest rebel force in Syria. Turkey’s role in supporting Ahrar illustrates how Turkey has compromised its ambitious policy goals in Syria and raises questions about Ankara’s reported planned intervention in Aleppo to carve out a “safe zone” along its border with Syria.

Finally let us return to imperialism and the equal sign between China and Russia on the one side and the USA and its allies on the other. In 1991 Workers Power stood “arm-in-arm with Boris Yeltsin”. We polemicised against that against the RCIT:

The RCIT/Fifth International said Russia was a ‘Moribund Workers State’ under Yeltsin when it was the most obviously pro-Western and privatising all state assets to the corrupt oligarchs (as also in Ukraine), to the delight of Western imperialism. Then, when Putin came to power in 2000 and began to adopt measure in defence of Russian capitalism against the USA suddenly they decided that it was a capitalist and what’s more an imperialist nation. So by a strange coincidence we are asked to believe now that it was political confusion that led them to adopt the ridiculous “Moribund Workers State” theory and so defend the set-up in the former USSR that had pleased Western Imperialism so much. And then when Western imperialism was so disgusted with Putin because he would not do as US imperialism told him suddenly political clarity was achieved and Russia was a nasty imperialist power, equally as bad of the USA, or worse maybe with all its homophobia etc. And all this had nothing to do with abject capitulation to the ‘public opinion’ of the petty bourgeois milieu in which they operated. And perish the thought that the ridiculous “Moribund Workers State” theory was a consequence of them declaring that they stood “arm-in-arm with Boris Yeltsin” outside the White House during the Yanayev coup in August 1991. [10]

yeltsin1991

Boris Yeltsin atop a tank outside the white house on 19 August 1991, Workers Power and therefore the RCIT stood “arm-in-arm with Boris Yeltsin” they said; “arm-in-arm” with a counter-revolution in capitulation to the petty-bourgeois milieu in which they operate, in fact.

That is the real problem with the RCIT and many others on the far left In Europe and the Americas, including the USFI. The IMT, the CWI, the LIT (IWL-FI), the SWP (IST), League for the Fifth International (Workers Power, L5I), Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International (TF-FI). Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International (CRFI), Internationalist Communist Union (Lutte Ouvrière, ICU) who fail to identify the main enemy as the global hegemon, the USA and its Nato and other allies.

Notes

[1] Sean Matgamna, Workers Liberty The fate of Max Shachtman: a critical assessment, Submitted by sm on 25 September, 2007, http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2007/09/24/fate-max-shachtman-critical-assessment

[2] The Dördüncü Blok and the RCIT on 29 September, LCFI Statement 25/7/2016, Extract, https://socialistfight.com/2016/09/29/the-dorduncu-blok-and-the-rcit/

[3] LCFI statement, 19-6-14, Russia and China are NOT Imperialist states, http://tinyurl.com/je4ugum

[4] Eight Indices of US-led World Imperialism Socialist Fight 23/7/14, https://wordpress.com/post/socialistfight.com/1165

[5] L5I: Statement on the Assault on Eastern Aleppo, 30/09/2016, http://www.fifthinternational.org/content/statement-assault-eastern-aleppo

[6] Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 06.10.2016, The Looming Kerry-Lavrov Agreement – A Great Power Conspiracy against the Syrian Revolution, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-kerry-lavrov/

[7] Yossi Schwartz, 15.3.2013, Victory to the Revolution in Syria! The second anniversary of the uprising in Syria, Internationalist Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine), http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/victory-to-syrian-revolution/

[8] What the Assad regime was and what it has become – Part Three, by Fred Weston, IDOM, http://www.marxist.com/what-the-assad-regime-was-and-what-it-has-become-3.htm.

[9] The ISL Breaks With The LRP, Response by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International to the ISL of Palestine 28-3-2013, https://socialistfight.com/2013/04/12/the-isl-breaks-with-the-lrp/

[10] Reply by the LCFI to the Resignation of Laurence Humphries from the Socialist Fight Group/LCFI, http://tinyurl.com/zw2dktl

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