The Methodology of the Anti-Imperialist United Front1
25/06/2018 by socialistfight
Damascus condemns US, Turkish ‘incursion’ in Manbij
By Rudaw 19/6/2018
Recent developments in Syria have highlighted the necessity again to spell out the principles behind the Anti-Imperialist United (AIUF). From the start of Socialist Fight’s relationship with the Communist League of Brazil in early 2011 we spelled out that support for a semi-colonial country and regime under imperialist attack, either directly of via imperialist-sponsored proxies, did not mean political support for that regime in any other way than against that attack. We set out our position in several posts in Socialist Fight Nos 6. 7 and 8. [i]
As we said In the Statement by the LRCI on 18-9-2011, The fall of Tripoli reveals the new global balance of class forces:
“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.”
The new balance of class forces that the overthrow and murder of Gadhafi revealed saw the wholesale capitulation of former leftists to imperialism. We will take but a few which we fought at the time. And time has vindicated the position of the LCFI and revealed those of the pro-imperialist left as completely false. [ii]
The IWL (LIT), the South American political followers of the late Nahuel Moreno, produced a statement by the International Secretariat of the IWL-FI, on 24th of August 2011 proudly headlined,
“Great victory of Libyan people and of the Arab revolution People in arms demolish the Gaddafi regime!”
And it goes on in nauseating fashion to support this grovelling capitulation to the masters of life until we get to this purple passage explaining in ‘dialectical’ terms how a victory for world Imperialism is, in reality, a victory for the forces of the world revolution:
“…Consequently, Imperialism staked directly on his fall. This is the great contradiction of the process. In the middle of a civil war – an element that did not occur in either Tunisia or in Egypt – Imperialism was compelled to intervene militarily in order to defeat Gaddafi… The contradiction is that, within military scope, there was a United Front between but with directly opposite ultimate aims: the masses wanted to free the country from oppression and Imperialism wanted to stop the revolution so as to be able to keep on looting the wealth of Libya and the Middle East.”
Simon Hardy, then of Workers Power, long since departed, acknowledged a few problems in:
“The lack of a revolutionary working class is a central factor why Libya was different to the other countries.”
Might be connected with those murders of black workers, Simon. Blazing the path for the United Front of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy Simon demanded his own imperialist United Front on 26-3-11:
“The overriding question in Libya today is not “Who are the imperialists attacking?” It is “How can the Libyan Revolution succeed in overthrowing Gaddafi’s regime?” A united front with Gaddafi in this situation would be literally impossible… Within Libya, we oppose the calls on the imperialists to intervene but that does not prevent the forces of the democratic revolution taking advantage of the impact of the imperialists’ intervention against Gaddafi. It would be bizarre, indeed, to refuse to continue the campaign against Gaddafi’s repressive apparatus because it had been weakened by imperialist action!”
In late 2011: Libya’s “liberators” Sarkozy, Cameron and Erdogan congratulated NATO’s mercenary-terrorists in a visit to celebrate the victory.
Terry Conway: doing politics differently? Asked Weekly Worker in 2015. She certainly saw stuff the rest of us missed in Libya
The British section of the USFI, Socialist Resistance, had an article on March 6, 2011, Support the Libyan revolution! Gaddafi out! by ‘Terry’:
“Gaddafi takes control of the situation again, with thousands of deaths, the process (of the revolution) will be slowed down, contained or even blocked. If Gaddafi is overthrown, the whole movement will as a result be stimulated and amplified. For this reason, all the ruling classes, all the governments, all the reactionary regimes of the Arab world are more or less supporting the Libyan dictatorship.”
The Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism (USA), (now CWG, USA) Communist Workers Group (Aotearoa/NZ), Revolutionary Workers Group (Zimbabwe), Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation (RKOB, Austria) produced this absolutely hilariously reactionary tract:
“The Libyan revolutionaries who had taken a strong anti-imperialist position in the early days of the rebellion had little choice but to enter into a military bloc with NATO against the semi-fascist Gaddafi. At this point the semi-fascist Gaddafi regime has been defeated by the insurrection. It remains to be seen the extent to which the revolutionaries(!) have illusions in ‘democratic’ Imperialism or how far their opposition to Imperialism takes on the form of Islamic radicalism.”
The RKOB, led by Michael Pröbsting, who went on to form the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) on 6 Apr 2012, slightly demurred with some of this. Note from the RKOB:
”We also believe that the sentence – “The Libyan revolutionaries (…) had little choice but to enter into a military bloc with NATO against the semi-fascist Gaddafi.” – is misleading (!!!). In fact, it was a weakness of the Rebels that they did not look for an alternative strategy and did not issue a strong appeal to the mass movements in the Arab countries and the international workers movement for volunteers and material and military aid.” September 10, 2011.
So, the RKOB signed the statement whilst disagreeing fundamentally with it! And they did not appeal to the working class because they were lynching and beheading them in the form of all the Black workers from day one of the ‘revolution’ and already had a far better ally, World Imperialism. Of course, the “the semi-fascist Gaddafi regime” was defeated by NATO, the counter-revolutionary rebels, whose popular support was never tested, stood no chance without NATO bombers. (our emphasis)
Other, like the AWL, SWP, the IMT and CWI (Grantites) and the FLTI of Argentina, took the same line:
AWL (imperialist “civilisation mongering”, as Marx and Engels put it) [iii]:
“The NATO intervention helped them by preventing the crushing of the uprising at a critical point. That is a good thing. But this victory does not belong to NATO, who intervened for their own reasons.”
SWP (more “civilisation mongering”):
“As Gaddafi’s brutal regime collapses… Don’t let west hijack Arab Spring. The intervention of the Western powers is a real threat to the Arab revolutions. It allows the dictators to pose as defenders of national independence. In fact it is the dictators, who have relied on the West’s support for decades, who ensure the grip of Imperialism. Neither NATO nor its planes can bring liberation.
IMT, (yet more “civilisation mongering”):
“Without this air cover the task of the rebels would have been more difficult. However, it is not the case that NATO won the war. The war was fought and won by the rebel fighters on the ground. This is an important fact and one that will determine what happens in the next stages.”
CWI (not avoiding the bitter truth but even so reaching the same ridiculous conclusion):
“While many Libyans are celebrating, socialists have to be clear that, unlike the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, the way in which Gaddafi has been removed means that a victory for the Libyan people was also a success for Imperialism. Without NATO acting as the rebels’ air force or the soldiers, weapons, organisation and training that NATO and some other countries like the feudal Qatar autocracy supplied, Tripoli would not have fallen to the rebels in the way that it has.”
FLTI (LOI-Argentina, then allied with the WIVL-SA), perhaps the most farcical of all:
“With the help of the intelligence and logistics for the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the Yankee imperialist army Kadaffi tries to crush the heroic revolutionary upsurge of the masses”
“These teachers of red Qina Msebenzi, Socialist Fight and the Communist League, want us to believe that imperialism wanted to overthrow their strong man in Libya” (Qina Msebenzi, Socialist Fight and Communist League of Brazil march with the imperialist agent Gaddafi against the Libyan masses)
“The masses smashed the state Institutions in the East (something which caught imperialism by surprise) and when they were marching on imperialism sent mercenaries from Chad and Niger to prevent Gaddafi from falling.”
Uncritical support is contrary to Leninism-Trotskyism
This post by Roger Annis on 23 June 2018 is good and informative in all respects except one; it fails to analyse the relationship between Russia and Turkey. Throwing that into the mix of US/Syrian/Kurdish relationships makes the role of Russia seem far less heroic and far more opportunist than he has outlined. Of course, he is correct to point to the reactionary role of leftists like the USFI who effectively support the US-driven regime change jihadist war in Syria and Libya, as we have done above, and to give support to Assad and Putin there but not this type of uncritical support.
Anti-imperialism really must not alibi these bourgeois nationalists uncritically or we are guilty of failure to warn of future betrayals of the anti-imperialist struggle. Remember the Shanghai Soviet massacre of 1927 to warn us of what can happen with this approach. Should we make Putin and Assad great anti-imperialist heroes like Stalin made Chiang Kai Shek?
For instance, he says:
“Sensibly, and fortunately for the Syrian people and the people of the world, Russian generals declined the foolhardy calls that they get their military into a tangle over Afrin with two powerful NATO militaries.”
“The Kurds declined the offer of joint defence. They preferred a Turkish military occupation into Afrin, complete with a predictable ethnic cleansing of its Kurdish population, over a re-assertion of territorial sovereignty by the Syrian government. No doubt they were cognizant that their U.S. ally would not look well upon the Kurds entering into any kind of understanding with Syria and Russia. Hence the Kurdish decision to sacrifice Afrin…” [iv]
Well, our understanding here was that was purely an Assad deal and the Kurds realised that without Russian assistance it was useless. And Assad did render some assistance. Russia had conceded airspace to Turkey who was in alliance with them in the balancing game Erdogan is playing in the region. If Russia was going to defend Afrin at all in alliance with Assad it would have been to fight the invasion at the start. It did not because it was not “foolhardy”, it would not fight its own ally even if it meant conceding US and Turkey violating Syrian sovereignty. Russia is defending Russian interests in Syria, this coincides with defence of Syrian government interests up to a point. Afrin was a point too far. War with Turkey and the USA was a point too far. Erdogan and Trump called Putin’s bluff.
This type of excuse could be extended to every form of imperialist aggression. Turkey invades Syria, Turkey is a member of Nato, if Russia opposes the invasion all of Nato will attack Russia and WWIII will begin. Therefore, in Ukraine, all the USA has to do is get Nato troops to attack the Donbass and Russia must concede, there is no end to the necessity to retreat before imperialist aggression that this this type of logic implies. In this case it was the Kurds and Assad, not the Russians who were left with no choice, as Russia abandoned them, and conceded Syrian sovereignty into the bargain. Moreover, the concession on Afrin quickly had further consequences.
Roger, despite his staunch defence of Syrian sovereignty and Russia’s legitimate intervention, still retains his “Pabloite” education learned in the US SWP Young Socialist Alliance. He is unable to fit the Russian/Turkish relationship into his narrative. Steven Argue says that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by YPG militants, betrayed Afrin to Turkish annexation and genocide without a fight, and U.S. troops now patrol Manbij as the SDF gave it up to them without a fight also. Now the U.S. troops are giving Manbij to Turkish troops. Syria is strongly protesting these developments, Steven claims. And still, it is not Russia that is doing the doubler-dealing here but the Kurdish SDF. Despite our profound political differences with the SDF/YPF and Assad, we do not think they are the ones who bear the main guilt of the fall of Afrin and now Manbij; that is surely down to Putin’s manoeuvring with the USA and Turkey.
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, June 21 2018, YPG to withdraw from Manbij on July 4:
“The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is listed by Ankara as a terrorist organization and an offspring of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is scheduled to withdraw from the northern Syrian town of Manbij on July 4, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.
Speaking to private broadcaster CNN Türk on June 21, Çavuşoğlu said Ankara’s deal with the United States on the Manbij issue is “proceeding with no problem” and the YPG is scheduled to withdraw from the town on June 4, according to the bilateral roadmap. The Turkish army conducted its first patrolling mission around Manbij on June 18 for the implementation of the road map and the second patrolling mission was conducted on June 20.
The U.S. considers the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by YPG militants to be its main ally in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. Turkey has long pushed for the YPG’s removal from Manbij, where a sizeable U.S. force has also been deployed since early 2016. The road map, which has a set timeframe, foresees the withdrawal of the YPG from the city and the establishment of a new local council to be composed of mainly Arab locals.
Çavuşoğlu also warned on June 21 that Turkey could launch a military operation in the Mahmur refugee camp in northern Iraq if the United Nations “continues to let the PKK militants stay there.” “If they don’t do anything, then we’ll do it ourselves,” he said. [v]
Steven Argue concludes:
“Short of a revolution from within the revolution, or serious backing by Syria on the program of the rights of nations developed by Lenin, the Rojava Revolution of Syrian Kurdistan is dead. And the U.S. is holding on to Deir ez-Zor oil fields for U.S. oil monopolies with the SDF. And the U.S. no doubt plans on holding Deir ez-Zor as a direct colony, partly for its oil, much as the U.S. imperialists stole Kosovo from Yugoslavia as a direct U.S. colony for its rich mining operation. The Israeli attack bombing Syrian allied PMF Iraqi troops who were fighting against ISIS on June 18, murdering 54 anti-ISIS troops, is part of U.S. operations to take control of this entire area.”
If Joe Stalin was untrustworthy and two-faced in opposing imperialism, then Putin is certainly no better politically. Remember his political adviser once was Aleksandr Dugin, the fascistic former National Bolshevik Party founder, now illegal, and leader of the legal Eurasia Party, with close ties with the Kremlin and the Russian military.
Nicaragua’s ambitious dream of building a canal to rival Panama’s famous waterway looks in peril as doubts pile up over whether its Chinese investor can cough up the $50 billion needed, analysts say.
[i] The Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI) spelled out those principles in 2011 in statements by Socialist Fight and the LCFI, particularly Military United Front but no political support for Gaddafi, Socialist Fight 18/3/2011, https://socialistfight.com/2017/11/21/military-united-front-but-no-political-support-for-gaddafi-socialist-fight-18-3-2011/ The soft left’s foolish illusions in Benghazi’s, By Ret Marut 3 April 2011,
Socialist Fight No7: Page 22: Imperialism faces its worst financial, economic and political crises since the 1930s, Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI) 15 September 2011
Page 24: The fall of Tripoli reveals the new global balance of class forces, Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International 18 September 2011
Page 27: Those who ‘howled along with the wolves’ and those who took a neutral position on the war in Libya Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International 14 September 2011
Socialist Fight No 8: Page 31: The AIUF is the tactic, Permanent Revolution is the strategy By Ret Marut. https://socialistfight.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/socialist-fight-no-8.pdf
[ii] Those who ‘howled along with the wolves’ and those who took a neutral position on the war in Libya
Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI) 14 September 2011
[iii] Karl Marx in New York Daily Tribune, Articles On China, 1853-1860, Free Trade and Monopoly, We cannot leave this part of the subject without singling out one flagrant self-contradiction of the Christianity-canting and civilization-mongering British Government, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1858/09/25.htm
[iv] MR Online, U.S. and Turkey agree on joint control of Manbij, Syria, violating Syrian sovereignty and confounding claims by Western corporate and alternative media of ‘Russia-Turkey collusion’
Posted Jun 23, 2018 by Roger Annis, https://tinyurl.com/yb2zayds
[v] YPG to withdraw from Manbij on July 4, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ypg-to-withdraw-from-manbij-on-july-4-turkish-fm-133592
[…] See The Methodology of the Anti-Imperialist United Front, https://socialistfight.com/2018/06/25/the-methodology-of-the-anti-imperialist-united-front/ Military United Front but no political support for Gaddafi, Socialist Fight 18/3/2011, […]