24/06/2018 by socialistfight
Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International 18 September 2011, Socialist FightNo. 7, p. 24
2011: Libya’s “liberators” Sarkozy, Cameron and Erdogan congratulate NATO’s mercenary-terrorists. A whole swath of the pro-imperialist left celebrated with them and foolishly hoped that the “revolution” would turn into a socialist one.
On the night of 21-22 August 2011 Tripoli fell to the NATO-rebel forces of world Imperialism, with the assistance of NATO bombs and Special Forces from several imperialist countries and troops from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Despite the fact that powerful resistance continues it is clear that NATO and their stooges, the TNC rebels, have dealt a major blow at the independence of Libya. It is no satisfaction to have our direst predictions confirmed. In the Statement on Libya by the Liga Comunista of Brazil, the Revolutionary Marxist Group of South Africa and Socialist Fight of Britain on 21 April 2011 we said:
“The greatest proof that the “rebels” are nothing but butchers and Libyan agents of Imperialism is that they have invoked NATO bombing on their own people, as did the collaborators at all times of the class struggle since the Paris Commune Thiers (1871) to Lebanon (2006). As each day passes it becomes clearer that the native agents of Imperialism are merely open cat’s paws for multinational intervention in the country. They are racists and xenophobes, the enemies of all black working class Saharans in Libya. In the hunt for “Gaddafi mercenaries” they seek to demoralise the work force in the country, preparing it for the super exploitation in a new era of extreme Imperialist plunder. The Libyan “rebels” are bunch bourgeois turncoats from the Gaddafi regime in favour of big business internationally.”
Nor did we make any concessions to third world apologists for the national bourgeoisie who sought to prettify Gaddafi, dismiss or excuse his crimes against the working class and so marginalise the political struggles of Trotskyist internationalism for the world revolution:
“It was the anti-working class, neoliberal policies of Gaddafi during the last decade that paved the way this reaction. Gaddafi has established new agreements with Imperialism, destroying the gains of the process of nationalisation of the means of production and post-1969 energy resources. Gaddafi banned trade unions and strikes and made racist anti-immigrant agreements with Berlusconi, he has sponsored the election campaign of Sarkozy and privatized and made auctions with the energy resources of Libya. Thus, the caudillo of Tripoli has lost popularity with the Libyan and African population and fuelled the appetite of sectors of the native bourgeoisie to negotiate directly with Imperialism, freeing up Gaddafi’s clan.”
What do we have to say to the following comment, all too common on the ‘left’?
“Whatever the contradictions of the situation the rebel victory in Libya strengthens the chances of rebellion in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain – if Gaddafi had won, Assad and the other tyrants would have felt stronger and repressed with even more vigour.”
Of course the complete opposite is the case, as Trotsky explained so well about Abyssinia, China and hypothetically Brazil in 1936, 1937 and 1938. Any victory for Imperialism will strengthen chauvinism and reaction in the form of the hold of the TU bureaucracy over the working class primarily in the metropolitan countries where it MUST be defeated ultimately and challenged strongly now in order to advance the cause of the working class globally. And it will strengthen the pro-imperialist grouping and leaderships in all the rest of the countries engaged in the ‘Arab Spring’. This can only point in the direction of defeat. The argument that defeat will allow the working class to organise as a class in this region ignores the fact that the working class is a global class; a serious wound to its head will not allow its peripheral organs to function properly. This was the argument at the accession of Yeltsin in 1991, what serious Marxist does not now recognize that as a victory for neo-liberal Imperialism and a defeat for the global working class? It is no accident that in this previous “4th August” moment for the left groups, the majority chose defence of “democracy” over defence of the nationalised property relations of the USSR. (On 4th August 1914 the German Social Democrats, the largest self-declared revolutionary Marxist party on the planet, voted the war credits to the Kaiser to enable WWI to begin its mass slaughter of the youth of a whole generation to solve its crisis of the rate of profit).
Even in Libya a defeat for Imperialism would not have returned it to the status quo. Gaddafi had been obliged to promise the renationalisation of the oil industry and had armed the masses. As Trotsky argues over Brazil,
“If England should be victorious, she will put another fascist in Rio de Janeiro and will place double chains on Brazil. If Brazil, on the contrary, should be victorious, it will give a mighty impulse to national and democratic consciousness of the country and will lead to the overthrow of the Vargas dictatorship. The defeat of England will at the same time deliver a blow to British Imperialism and will give an impulse to the revolutionary movement of the British proletariat. Truly, one must have an empty head to reduce world antagonisms and military conflicts to the struggle between fascism and democracy. Under all masks, one must know how to distinguish exploiters, slave-owners, and robbers!”
The central point of our previous statement (Statement on Libya by the Liga Comunista of Brazil, the Revolutionary Marxist Group of South Africa and Socialist Fight of Britain, 21 April 2011) was the Military Anti-Imperialist United Front (MAIUF). Our position was Leninists because we kept our complete independence from Imperialism and Gaddafi. With this position we had a huge advantage over other groups. We honour Trotskyism whilst others “Trotskyists” have betrayed its essence. We believe that the MAIUF is the best continuity of the defensive tactics of Bolshevism and Trotskyism: Russia 1917 (Kornilov), Germany 1933 (Adolph Hitler), Abyssinia 1935 (Haile Selassie), China 1937 (Chiang Kai-shek), Brazil 1938 (Getúlio Vargas).
It is important to abstract the lessons of this struggle over Libya. This defensive concept has a wide application to other similar situations. A defeat of the remaining workers states of North Korea and Cuba, of any other oppressed semi-colonial nations or of any of the guerrilla organisations military fighting Imperialism; Irish Republicans, Colombian FARC, the Taliban, the Iraqi fighters, Maoists in India and Nepal, etc. is a defeat for the global working class in their fight against their own ruling classes; the anti-imperialist struggle is an absolutely essential part of the class struggle. At the same time we cannot be identified with those fake Trotskyists like Michel Pablo, Ernest Mandel, Guillermo Lora, Nahuel Moreno, James Cannon, Joseph Hansen, Pierre Lambert, Pierre Frank, Alain Krivine, Gerry Healy etc. who ideologically and politically capitulated to Stalinism and to semi-colonial petty-bourgeois nationalists like Tito, Mao, Ben Bella in Algeria, Castro, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, etc. and many others. We have to make the class differences in the orientation of our fight against the Imperialism. But we demand critical but unconditional defence of the bureaucratised workers’ states, all oppressed nations and all the guerrilla organizations fighting against Imperialism. This is the touchstone by which we judge all international movements; for or against global finance capitalism, i.e. Imperialism, the prime enemy of all progressive humanity.
Like the early Comintern we regard this as the natural extension of the United Front (UF) tactic in the domestic class struggle; with the trade union and labour movement leaders in struggle against the bosses where possible, without and against them where necessary to carry the struggle to victory. This is the UF from both above and below; demands on the existing misleaders of the working class, independently mobilising their base to set it against the leadership in struggle. This is the central principle of the rank and file tactic in the trade unions; no capitulation to the left trade union bureaucrats, mass agitation to mobilise the class into action combined with focused propaganda to win to Trotskyism the class conscious natural leaders of the class that emerge in all serious struggle. Paraphrasing the well-known words of Leopold Trepper, leader of the Red Orchestra in WWII in The Great Game: Memoirs of the Spy Hitler Couldn’t Silence we can say,
“Between the hammer of world Imperialism and the anvil of bourgeois nationalism and centrist revisionism, the path is a narrow one for those of us who still believed in the World Revolution.”
His following comments give us courage and inspiration and a determination to politically fight to clarify and win to Trotskyism the new forces of that world revolution seen in the recent riots in Britain, in Greece, in Spain in Chile and elsewhere. Trepper commented later in the same book,
Who rose up to voice his outrage? The Trotskyites can lay claim to this honour. Following the example of their leader, who was rewarded for his obstinacy with the end of an ice-axe, they fought Stalinism to the death, and they were the only ones who did. By the time of the great purges, they could only shout their rebellion in the freezing wastelands where they had been dragged in order to be exterminated. In the camps, their conduct was admirable. But their voices were lost in the tundra.
“Today, the Trotskyites have a right to accuse those who once howled along with the wolves… Let them not forget, however, that they had the enormous advantage over us of having a coherent political system capable of replacing Stalinism. They had something to cling to in the midst of their profound distress at seeing the revolution betrayed. They did not ‘confess’, for they knew that their confession would serve neither the party nor socialism.”