The AIUF is the tactic, PR is the strategy for today’s imperialist wars on the semi-colonial world

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15/10/2018 by socialistfight

By Gerry Downing October 2011

Image result for Anti-Imperialist United Front (AIUF) images

Introduction

This piece seeks to defend, clarify and develop the theory of the Anti-Imperialist United Front (AIUF) and is in solidarity with those who have theoretically fought to do so in the past. Unfortunately, many who have done so have failed to apply that theory in practice to actual wars by their own bourgeoisie.

In fact, that contradiction between theory and practice has now became so acute over the question of support for the NATO-rebels in Libya that one of the foremost contributors to that communist task of theoretical clarification, Stuart King, former leader of Workers Power and now of Permanent Revolution, has been forced to admit to this author that he now repudiated his own vital contribution. The anti-imperialist united front: a debate with the GOR, 30/03/1986 [1] “I think I was wrong and the GOR were right then” he now says.

Workers Power/the League for the Fifth International may be forced to ditch their identical King-inspired if not written programme on this vital question. Other groups like the RSO who maintain an anti-imperialist line on Libya, and whose document on the AIUF was also clearly inspired by King will have to clarify why that correct if a somewhat vacillating position on the AIUF was apparently inapplicable to Libya today. [2]

We will also polemicise against the positions of both the Permanent Revolution Collective (CoReP), to which Socialist Fight was linked for a period, and against the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) and its international tendency the Communist Organization for the Fourth International (COFI) because the latter use the document of the former in their internal educationals, one of their leaders informed this author. [3] We also include a brief polemic against the Spart ‘family’.

Therefore, all criticisms of the CoReP apply equally to the COFI. The COFI are themselves specifically opposed to the AIUF, rigidly counterposing it to the Trotskyist theory of Permanent Revolution as the following extract shows,

 “We reject popular fronts between the working class and bourgeois parties. The working class cannot share political power with even the shadow of the bourgeoisie; governmental alliances with such elements mean subordination to bourgeois politics. Party members may not occupy positions in bourgeois governments — including those of “third world,” Stalinist and post-Stalinist countries as well as in the imperialist powers. We reject so-called anti-imperialist united fronts as a version of the popular front; they stand in absolute contradiction to the permanent revolution.” [4]

History of the AIUF

This goes back to the Comintern as first formulated by V. I. Lenin, in the Terms of Admission into Communist International, July 1920. [5]

“8. Parties in countries whose bourgeoisie possess colonies and oppress other nations must pursue a most well-defined and clear-cut policy in respect of colonies and oppressed nations. Any party wishing to join the Third International must ruthlessly expose the colonial machinations of the imperialists of its “own” country, must support—in deed, not merely in word—every colonial liberation movement, demand the expulsion of its compatriot imperialists from the colonies, inculcate in the hearts of the workers of its own country an attitude of true brotherhood with the working population of the colonies and the oppressed nations, and conduct systematic agitation among the armed forces against all oppression of the colonial peoples.”

It was further clarified in the Theses on the national and colonial question, Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International, Fifth Session July 28, 1920.

  1. In relation to those states that have a more backward, predominantly feudal, patriarchal or peasant patriarchal character, special attention must be paid to the following points:

  2. a) All Communist Parties must support the revolutionary liberation movements in these countries by their deeds. The form the support should take must be discussed with the Communist Party of the country in question, should such a party exist. This obligation to offer active assistance affects – in the first place the workers of those countries on which the backward countries are in a position of colonial or financial dependence.

  3. b) An unconditional struggle must be carried out against the reactionary and medieval influence of the clergy, the Christian missions and similar elements. [6]

So the United Front (UF) was the method of the Bolsheviks and of Comintern of the early 1920s which the Transitional Programme of Trotskyism defended and developed to win the revolutionary leadership of the working class.

The AIUF is its logical extension in the semi-colonies, it recognises the changed circumstances and hence consciousness of the working class and oppressed in the ‘third world’ and likewise seeks to make a bridge from that consciousness to the revolutionary programme.

By recognising the contradictions between oppressed and oppressor nations, between Imperialist nations and semi-colonial peoples and by recognising the healthy impulse of these masses in fighting the main enemy of all oppressed humanity, imperialist finance capital and its predatory armies and their local stooges and hired thugs, we seek to win their ears for the revolutionary Trotskyist programme.

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Stuart King cites N M Roy when he understood the essence of the tactic, despite his wavering and later capitulation;

“The Fourth Congress caught Roy arguing a communist position and outlining quite clearly the importance of the AIUF”:

“We have to develop our parties in these countries in order to take the lead in the organisation of the united front against imperialism. Just as the tactics of the united, proletarian front lead to the accumulation of proletarian strength in the Western countries and unmasks and discloses the treachery and compromising tactics of the Social-Democratic Party by bringing them into active conflict, so will the campaign of the united anti-imperialist front in the colonial countries liberate the leadership of the movement from the timid and hesitating bourgeoisie and bring the masses more actively in the forefront, through the most revolutionary social elements, which constitute the basis of the movement, thereby securing the final victory.” [7]

Trotsky explains the AIUF

Look at how Trotsky explains the AIUF, even if he does not use the term, in these three examples from the late 1930s.

  1. Against James Maxton of the British Independent Labour Party (1936):

“Maxton and the others opine that an Italo-Ethiopian war is conflict between two rival dictators. To these politicians it appears that this fact relieves the proletariat of the duty of making a choice between two dictators. They thus define the character of the war by the political form of the state, in the course of which they themselves regard this political form in a quite superficial and purely descriptive manner, without taking into consideration the social foundations of both “dictatorships”.

A dictator can also play a very progressive role in history. For example: Oliver Cromwell, Robespierre, etc. On the other hand, right in the midst of the English democracy (the Liberal) Lloyd George exercised a highly reactionary dictatorship during the war. Should a dictator place himself at the head of the next uprising of the Indian people in order to smash the British yoke – would Maxton then refuse this dictator his support? Yes or no? If no, why does he refuse his support to the Ethiopian “dictator” who is attempting to ward off the Italian yoke?

If Mussolini triumphs, it means the re-enforcement of fascism, the strengthening of imperialism and the discouragement of the colonial peoples in Africa and elsewhere. The victory of the Negus however, would mean a mighty blow not only at Italian imperialism but at imperialism as a whole and would lend a powerful impulsion to the rebellious forces of the oppressed peoples. One must really be completely blind not to see this.” [8]

  1. Against the Eiffelites on China, 1937

“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.” [9]

  1. And his oft-quoted position on Brazil in 1938:

“I will take the most simple and obvious example. In Brazil there now reigns a semi fascist regime that every revolutionary can only view with hatred. Let us assume, however, that on the morrow England enters into a military conflict with Brazil. I ask you on whose side of the conflict will the working class be? I will answer for myself personally—in this case I will be on the side of “fascist” Brazil against “democratic” Great Britain.

Why? Because in the conflict between them it will not be a question of democracy or fascism. 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!”

Leon Trotsky, Anti-Imperialist Struggle, is Key to Liberation, An Interview with Mateo Fossa, (September 1938)

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Do you not recognise yourselves as James Maxton, the Eiffelites and the centrists here in all this comrade of the ICL, IBT, CoReP and the Cofi? Do you not see how Trotsky scorned this counterposition, in reality, a seeking to avoid the defeat of their own bourgeoisie in a predatory war against colonial or semi-colonial countries like Abyssinia, China, Brazil and Libya?

Look at how he finishes each quote (our emphasis), with expressions of scorn and exasperation at those centrists who cannot see what is at stake here, who counterpose the Permanent Revolution to anti-Imperialism, who take a backward workerist, ‘class pure independent’ position to hide their capitulation to Imperialism itself?

Equating the AIUF with popular frontism

Everywhere the Spart “Family” equate the AIUF with popular frontism as does the CoReP, “the Anti-Imperialist United Front in Practice is the Popular Front” they say. It is for Stalinists and those centrists who have abandoned the transitional programme and method but not for genuine communists. And this ‘orthodoxy’ far from inoculating these simon-pure doctrinaires against opportunism is in fact the cover for capitulation to great nation chauvinism under the guise of fighting capitulation to the third world dictators. How about this for doctrinal purity, in reality backward workerism, from the ICL:

In Third World countries, the pseudo-Trotskyists invoke the “anti-imperialist united front” as a cover for supporting bourgeois regimes. This includes support to the reactionary “Islamic Revolution” of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran in 1979. In the Arab world, both Stalinists and pseudo-Trotskyists hailed the so-called “Arab Revolution” represented in the 1950s by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt and in the 1970s by Qaddafi in Libya. Support to Arab nationalism has led to the bloody defeat of workers’ movements throughout the Near East, not least in Egypt, where Nasser rewarded the Communists for their support by imprisoning, torturing and killing them. The bourgeois-nationalist regimes of Nasser and Qaddafi inevitably failed to address the felt needs of the masses.

To the “anti-imperialist united front,” we counterpose the Trotskyist programme of permanent revolution, which holds that in the neo-colonial countries, the proletariat must lead all the oppressed masses in a struggle for socialist revolution against their “own” bourgeoisie, as part of an internationalist strategy for proletarian revolution in the imperialist countries. [10] (our emphasis)

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The Malvinas, when the asses’ ears poked through the orthodox Trotskyist hat

The “Family” all have the same reactionary chauvinist positions on the Malvinas conflict. They all refused to defend semi-colonial Argentina against imperialist Britain because “The Falkland war (sic!) was an armed conflict between capitalist Argentina and rotten British imperialism. At no point in this war was the national sovereignty of Argentina put into question whereas the overthrow of their respective governments was in the interests of the British and also of the Argentinean working classes. For this reason, communists put forward the position of revolutionary defeatism and fight for the defeat of their own bourgeoisie”

This is only applicable to inter-imperialist wars, in a war against a semi-colony it amounts to great nation chauvinism.

This is a shameful evasion of your proletarian internationalist duty to defend a semi-colony against an imperialist attack; the evasive “capitalist (not semi-colonial) Argentina”, the failure to admit US support for “rotten imperialist Britain” and the transparent cowardly; “at no point in this war was the national sovereignty of Argentina put into question” as if this could excuse a failure to defend this semi-colony against imperialist attack.

And the rational for it all; “the overthrow of their respective governments was in the interests of the British and also of the Argentinean working classes”  is clearly wrong on both counts. Thatcher recovered from a disastrous opinion poll position due to her destruction of British jobs and manufacturing industry to sweep the next election because of it. This ideological victory set her up for her assault on the miners in 1985 and for her anti-union laws and privatisation of public assets. And need we point out the dire political consequence of this for the British and world working class however much imperialism’s apologists on the far left might have sought to obfuscate their treachery by trumpeting the secondary gain of the overthrow of Galtieri.

The British working class were left ideologically leaderless by the national chauvinism of Labour leader Michael Foot and the other leaders, Regan/Volker defeated the 1981-82 Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike while the war was going on and embarked on a simultaneous ruthless offensive against the US working class, which set the pattern for the offensive of every capitalist class against their own working class worldwide. All this prepared for imperialism’s crowning achievement, the world-historical defeat which the world working class suffered in the overthrow of the Soviet Union. But at least we got rid of Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli!

The sinking of the Belgrano on May 2, 1982, was a victory for world imperialism which the Spart “Family” were unable to oppose politically; the asses’ ears of Shachtmanism poked through the orthodox Trotskyist hat. [11]

 Reaction on Immigration Controls

Imperialism causes poor third world workers and peasants who are driven from their homes by starvation and oppression to seek refuge in the rich imperialist countries. This results in the whole Spart family going soft on immigration controls to defend the privileges of the aristocracy of labour. Here is the IBT defending the ICL who are clearly indicating their softness, to say the least, on immigration controls;

“However, on a sufficiently large scale, immigration flows could wipe out the national identity of the recipient countries. … Unlimited immigration as a principle is incompatible with the right to national self-determination …an “open” U.S./Mexico border would not only introduce impoverished Mexican labourers to flood the U.S. labor market, becoming an unprotected pool for capitalist super exploitation, but would also lead to well-financed American “colonists” buying up Mexican enterprises and real estate…If, for example, there were unlimited immigration into Northern Europe, the population influx from the Mediterranean basin would tend to dissolve the national identity of small countries like Holland and Belgium.” (Workers Vanguard, Jan. 18, 1974.)[12]

Alan G,

 “I agree with the Spart observation you quote as it is merely a statement of fact. I can categorically state that this does not mean any support for immigration controls by the US, Dutch or Belgian capitalist states. Whether or not this is also true for the Sparts I do not know but, like the IBT, I take no responsibility for the programme of the ICL”. [13]

This line is completely wrong. Whilst the IBT never call for immigration controls they sail so close to the wind here that it becomes similar to the AWL distinction between ‘supporting’ and ‘not opposing’ the bombing of Libya.

“However, on a sufficiently large scale, immigration flows could wipe out the national identity of the recipient countries”

What is the ‘national identity’ of Britain or the US? God Save the Queen and Hail to the Chief? How is this a statement of fact? It is a piece of reactionary hogwash designed to appeal to the backward national prejudices of the middle classes and the TU bureaucrats.

“Unlimited immigration as a principle is incompatible with the right to national self-determination” Imperialist countries now have a right to self-determination against immigrants? This is racist to the core.

 

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“An “open” U.S./Mexico border would not only introduce impoverished Mexican labourers to flood the U.S. labor market, becoming an unprotected pool for capitalist super exploitation, but would also lead to well-financed American “colonists” buying up Mexican enterprises and real estate”

All the crocodile tears we cry for “unprotected pool for capitalist super-exploitation” cannot hide that national chauvinism, US jobs for US workers, is lurking behind this ‘concern’. They would not cross the border unless they had good reason to suppose this gave them the chance of a better life. We should demand their legalisation and No Borders! And fear about “well-financed American “colonists” buying up Mexican enterprises and real estate” is also bogus, as if the Rio Grande/Bravo ever stopped them doing that anyway.

“If, for example, there were unlimited immigration into Northern Europe, the population influx from the Mediterranean basin would tend to dissolve the national identity of small countries like Holland and Belgium.”

The dissolution of these priceless “National Identities” would take the form of shops selling paella, pasta and drinking Sangria and dodgy red wine and sleeping in the afternoons and stuff, we must suppose. What a terrible fate would befall these unfortunate nations! Far better to go for the McDonalds, the Coca-Cola, and the Big Mac!

Slander against Lenin on Turkey

The CoReP document fails to understand the UF or the AIUF. It says

“From this Lenin deduced the necessity of an alliance with the national bourgeoisie:  The Communist International must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in the colonial and backward countries, [but should not merge with it, and should under all circumstances uphold the independence of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most embryonic form]” [15]

However, we look at the word “alliance” here it is clear by the subsequent bracketed clause that he is not advocating a capitulation to the nationalist bourgeoisie; he is advocating the AIUF in order to win the working class in the colonies and semi-colonial countries to the cause of the international socialist revolution. But the CoReP and COFI proceed as if no such distinction exists, we must all act as if the pure class struggle exists everywhere independently of chauvinist workers in imperialist countries and anti-imperialist workers in the oppressed nations. “It just is not right they cannot see it my way and prioritise the defeat of their own weak ruling class and not bother so much about the victory of my own very strong ruling class, who are at least democratic (to us) and civilised compared to your monstrous Saddams and Gadaffis” they moan. In other words, the subtleties of Trotsky’s distinctions are completely lost on them, and the hoped-for oil revenues that might ease this recession help them to ignore and forget. Here is Trotsky’s distinction in 1937, as succinct as ever.

“The internal regime in the colonial and semi colonial countries has a predominantly bourgeois character. But the pressure of foreign imperialism so alters and distorts the economic and political structure of these countries that the national bourgeoisie (even in the politically independent countries of South America) only partly reaches the height of a ruling class. The pressure of imperialism on backward countries does not, it is true, change their basic social character since the oppressor and oppressed represent only different levels of development in one and the same bourgeois society. Nevertheless the difference between England and India, Japan and China, the United States and Mexico is so big that we strictly differentiate between oppressor and oppressed bourgeois countries and we consider it our duty to support the latter against the former. The bourgeoisie of colonial and semi-colonial countries is a semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class.” (our emphasis) [16]

To press home this misrepresentation the CoReP adopt the old charge of opportunism against Lenin on Turkey,

“The false character of Lenin’s positions was rapidly confirmed in Turkey, where the bourgeois nationalist movement assassinated in 1921 Mustafa Suphi, the delegate to the 1st Congress of the CI, and massacred the entire leadership of the young Communist Party.”

Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk) was the commander of the Ottoman 19th Division at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He later led the Ottoman counter-attacks to recapture Chunuk Bair during the Sari Bair offensive. After the armistice in 1918, he became leader of Turkish nationalist forces in the post-war conflicts that resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, of which he became the first president in 1923.

However, Lenin was far from capitulatory to Mustafa Kemal:

“A determined fight is necessary against the attempt to put a communist cloak around revolutionary liberation movements. The C.I. has the duty to support the revolutionary movement in the colonies only for the purpose of gathering of the future proletarian parties in fact and not just in name – in all countries and training them to be their special tasks… of fighting bourgeois democratic tendencies within components communists the backward conscious of against the nation.”

They are hoping we will ignore and forget the situation of Turkey at that time. Whilst it is true that Mustafa Suphi and 14 of his comrades were massacred on the night of 28 January 1921, it is debatable whether they made tactical mistakes in orientation to forces of Mustafa Kemal and it is debatable who killed them, the Kermalists or the supporters of Ismail Enver, the Sultan’s war minister. What is not debatable is the correctness of Lenin’s and Suphi’s support for that Turkish War of Independence and the AIUF that it entailed. Let us not forget Churchill’s Gallipoli Campaign between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during WWI. A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia. The campaign was considered one of the greatest victories of the Turks and was reflected on as a major failure by the Allies. The subsequent War of Independence, May 19, 1919 – October 11, July 24, 1923 resulted in a decisive Turkish Victory, the overthrow of the Ottoman Sultanate, the Treaty of Lausanne and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. Perhaps Lenin and the Comintern should have taken the Allied side there like the CoReP did in Libya?

The AIUF is the tactics/methodology of the struggle

CoReP goes on to say,

“If Permanent Revolution supplants the formula “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the farmers,” a fortiori it makes null and void the Anti-Imperialist United Front, since that means an alliance with the bourgeoisie.”

This is totally to misunderstand the theory of Permanent Revolution. It does not now mean that tactics have been replaced by strategy, that no transitional demands and methods are to be employed that we must now revert back to the infantilism so slated by Lenin in his attack on that disorder in 1920. The AIUF is the tactics/methodology of the struggle, the dictatorship of the proletariat via Permanent Revolution is the strategic goal of the struggle, is that clear?

But what of the ‘Military bloc’ tactic, surely it is sufficient to agree to shoot in the same direction as the national army of Libya and so we can be recognised as “on the right side”. I fear not, comrades. It is necessary to form an AIUF to defend the state against Imperialist attacks. It is for the people of Libya to deal with their own problems but they will never listen to us unless we are clearly fighting with the regime itself to defeat this assault. We are duty bound to form anti-imperialist alliances in our own countries with those who seek the defeat of their own bourgeoisie, even with those Stalinist and petty-bourgeois forces who defend the third world regimes in Libya and Syria with varying degrees of criticisms from severe to little or none. We cannot hope for written agreements between a tiny revolutionary group in the Imperialist lands and a powerful third world dictator. We speak here of the method of communism in addressing the masses in Libya and everywhere they are under attack.

The entire point surely felt by every serious leftist is that there is something very progressive in the struggles of the masses in the third world, semi-colonial countries against the exploitation of global Imperialism. How do we support that progressive impulse without sowing illusions in the leaderships of bourgeois nationalists like Gaddafi, Assad or Ahmadinejad? Therefore the problem is solved conclude all our ‘left communists’ (who hide their rightism with this bluster). “The 4th International removes an ambiguity by the 3rd International by adopting the Strategy of Permanent Revolution”, the CoReP and COFI think.

They propose (correctly) that Trotsky understood by 1928 that his Theory of Permanent Revolution had universal application, in particular to China and that both he and Lenin and the early Comintern were mistaken in not understanding and applying the lessons of the Russian Revolution itself to China and universally. This, they think, invalidates the AIUF. But they ignore the fact that Trotsky himself never counterposed the two, the necessity for the AIUF, the practical application of the obligation of communists to support “revolutionary liberation movements in these countries by their deeds”, and the theory of Permanent Revolution itself. Of course he did not because the AIUF is a tactic and a method, the means of winning the masses via their political vanguard to the understanding that only the working class, as the only true internationalist class, can lead to the liberation of the semi-colonial countries as part of the world revolution, the Permanent Revolution’s strategic goal.

And there is no mystery either in why Trotsky never used the term again after 1927; it is clear that it was used in such an opportunist way by Stalin and later Mao to capitulate to Chiang Kai-shek and bourgeois nationalists in general that to use it would be to appear to identify with their interpretation. The point is what is the politics of the orientation, not its name. Trotsky never repudiated Lenin or the early Comintern on the AIUF; he attacked Stalinist falsifications of their position via the bloc of four classes.

Just like he never equated Stalin’s misuse of Lenin’s ‘Revolutionary-Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry’, after 1922, with Lenin’s pre-1917 use of the same slogan, although both were wrong. Lenin always defended the leading role of the working class as society’s leading class changer, whilst on the other hand, Stalinism itself began by implying an equality with the peasantry and in practice accepted, by adaption, to a dominant, better-off petty-bourgeois ‘kulak -middle-peasant’ to facilitate its bureaucracy to both dominate the proletarian class and Leninist Bolsheviks, as a form of the nationalist bourgeoisie (e.g. in political language – but not, of course in the social nature of the revolutionary state).

And it was not the AIUF that Mao used to justify class collaboration but the Bloc of Four Classes. In fact, Mao used the AIUF in quite a progressive way in regard to Chiang Kai-shek, ignoring Stalin’s advice to politically capitulate to him, mindful of the appalling consequence of this orientation in the massacre of the Shanghai soviet in 1927. In both orientations, the class independence of the working class and the revolutionary party is severely compromised, but Mao allowed himself enough room for manoeuvre to defeat Chiang Kai-shek, had he followed Stalin’s advice he would have been wiped out. The CoReP mention this in passing as if it was not the cornerstone of all Trotsky’s orientation in tactics and strategy. Trotsky always stressed the importance of maintaining the class independence of the working class and the revolutionary party,

As Stuart King wrote in 1986 Trotsky does not reject the AIUF,

“We have already pointed out that even after Chiang’s first coup against the communists (March 1926) Trotsky called for the maintenance of a ‘political bloc’ with sections of the KMT. He emphasised, however, that these could not be the “vague and formless” alliances that existed in the KMT but could be based “only on strictly defined and clearly stated agreements”. [17] Again in Summary and Perspectives of the Chinese Revolution written in June 1928 after the Shanghai massacre and the crushing of the proletariat’s organisations by the KMT, Trotsky re-affirms the validity of the united front:

“It goes without saying that we cannot renounce in advance such rigidly delimited and rigidly practical agreements as serve each time a quite definite aim. For example, such cases as involve agreements with the student youth of the KMT for the organisation of an anti-imperialist demonstration, or of obtaining assistance from Chinese merchants for strikers in a foreign concession, etc… The sole “condition” for every agreement with the bourgeoisie, for each separate, practical, and expedient agreement adapted to each given case, consists in not allowing either the organizations or the banners to become mixed directly or indirectly for a single day or a single hour; it consists in distinguishing between the Red and the Blue, and in not believing for an instant in the capacity or readiness of the bourgeoisie either to lead a genuine struggle against imperialism or not to obstruct the workers and peasants”. [18]

Clearly here Trotsky does not limit the united front only to questions of ‘military blocs’ against the imperialists or the Warlords. Indeed, such a position makes a non-Marxist division between ‘politics’ and ‘war’-“war is the continuation of politics by other means”.” [19]

Perhaps we should mute our opposition to Imperialism to this military bloc? Perhaps Trotskyists should adopt a lesser AIUF than Osama bin Laden (despite the racism blaming all Americans, “those killers”),

“A million innocent children are dying at this time as we speak, killed in Iraq without any guilt. We hear no denunciation; we hear no edict from the hereditary rulers. In these days, Israeli tanks rampage across Palestine, in Ramallah, Rafah and Beit Jala and many other parts of the land of Islam [dar al-Islam], and we do not hear anyone raising his voice or reacting. But when the sword fell upon America after 80 years, hypocrisy raised its head up high bemoaning those killers who toyed with the blood, honour and sanctities of Muslims.” [20]

Conclusion: the methodology of communism

We seek to combat the chauvinism that pervades the ranks of the working class in the Imperialist countries by facing them up to their internationalist duty to defend the workers of the semi-colonies against imperialist assault. It is that united front we seek to cultivate, not that of Stalinism and petty-bourgeois nationalists which capitulates to the conjunctional and feigned anti-imperialism of the nationalist bourgeoisie. These may fight Imperialism today to preserve their own privileges by the use of anti-imperialist rhetoric only to sell out again tomorrow if the opportunity arises to enhance their privileges by another alliance with Imperialism. We have made that distinction very clear in the course of this document. In other words, we seek to defend the method of the Transitional Programme; the AIUF is simply the logical extension of the United Front with workers in struggle just as the Comintern saw it in the early 1920s and as Trotsky defended up to his assassination in 1940.

However, the United Front in its two manifestations (domestic and in the semi-colonies) is not ‘only’ a tactic, which may or may not be applied depending on the circumstances, which for some is never now because that involves opposition to current petty-bourgeois prejudices. In that respect the RSO document is vacillating, allowing every concrete instance of a war on a semi-colony to be characterised as an exception depending on the vagaries of ‘public opinion’, applying to Saddam but not to Gaddafi because the mood of the petty bourgeois had altered in a major collapse since the 2003 mass mobilisation against the war on Iraq. [21]

The UF and AIUF are tactics that apply at all times except when the direct uprising takes place for the seizure of power and the masses are flocking to the revolutionary banner; in a sense it is wrong to characterise the UF as a tactic at all because it is the methodology of communism, its very mode of existence, its orientation to the global working class as a whole class, the only method that can mobilise that force that alone can overthrow capitalism.

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Notes

[1] The anti-imperialist united front: a debate with the GOR, 30/03/1986, http://www.fifthinternational.org/content/anti-imperialist-united-front-debate-gor.

[2] RSO-Theses on Anti-imperialism 19 May 2007, http://www.sozialismus.net/content/view/1600/209/

[3] CoReP On the Anti-Imperialist United Front July 28, 2006, http://www.scribd.com/doc/72764757/CoReP-On-the-Anti-Imperialist-United-Front

[4] Political Resolution of the Communist Organization for the Fourth International, http://lrp-cofi.org/PR/polres.html.

[5] http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jul/x01.htm

[6] http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/2nd-congress/ch05.htm#v1-p177

[7] The anti-imperialist united front: a debate with the GOR, 30/03/1986,

[8] Leon Trotsky’s Writings on Britain, Volume III, Trotskyism versus Centrism in Britain, The Decline of the ILP (May 1936)

[9] Leon Trotsky, On the Sino-Japanese War, Written: September 23, 1937 http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/10/sino.htm

[10] Workers Vanguard No. 987, 30 September 2011, Reformists Cheer Libyan “Rebels. http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/987/Libya.html.

[11] Extracted from IDOT No. 1, http://www.scribd.com/doc/30835498/In-Defence-of-Trot-Sky-Ism-No-1

[12] Workers Vanguard, Jan. 18, 1974

[13] Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/gerdowning/posts/307728089254991?ref=notif&notif_t=like#!/gerdowning

[14] http://www.evangelos12.btinternet.co.uk/immigration.htm.

[15] Lenin, Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Questions, for The Second Congress of The Communist International, June 1920.

[16] Leon Trotsky, Not a Workers’ and Not a Bourgeois State?, Nov 1937, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/11/wstate.htm

[17] The Anti-Imperialist United Front, In defence of the revolutionary Comintern – 1986 Stuart K, http://www.permanentrevolution.net/entry/592

[18] The Third International after Lenin, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1928/3rd/ti08.htm

[19] The anti-imperialist united front: a debate with the GOR

[20] Osama bin Laden, Videotaped Address, October, 2001, http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/481921texts.html.

[21] RSO-Theses on Anti-imperialism 19 May 2007, http://www.sozialismus.net/content/view/1600/209/

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