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Obama's Imperial War - An Anarchist Response

category international | imperialism / war | feature author Friday December 11, 2009 18:59author by Wayne Price - personal opinionauthor email drwdprice at aol dot com Report this post to the editors

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The expansion of the US attack on Afghanistan and Pakistan is not due to the personal qualities of Obama but to the social system he serves: the national state and the capitalist economy. The nature of the situation guarantees that the system will act irrationally. Anarchists should participate in building a broad movement against the war, while raising our political program.

In discussing President Obama’s expansion of the US attack on Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is important not to focus on Obama as a personality but on the social system to which he is commited, specifically to the war-waging capitalist national state. “War is the health of the state,” as Randolph Bourne declared during World War I. It is what the national state is for, what it does, and why it still exists, despite the real trends toward international unity and worldwide coordination. In an age of nuclear bombs, the human race will not be safe until we abolish these states (especially the big, imperial, ones such as those of North America, Western Europe, and Japan) and replace them with a federation of self-managing associations of working people.

[Nederlands]

Obama's Imperial War

An Anarchist Response

The expansion of the US attack on Afghanistan and Pakistan is not due to the personal qualities of Obama but to the social system he serves: the national state and the capitalist economy. The nature of the situation guarantees that the system will act irrationally. Anarchists should participate in building a broad movement against the war, while raising our political program.

In discussing President Obama’s expansion of the US attack on Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is important not to focus on Obama as a personality but on the social system to which he is commited, specifically to the war-waging capitalist national state. “War is the health of the state,” as Randolph Bourne declared during World War I. It is what the national state is for, what it does, and why it still exists, despite the real trends toward international unity and worldwide coordination. In an age of nuclear bombs, the human race will not be safe until we abolish these states (especially the big, imperial, ones such as those of North America, Western Europe, and Japan) and replace them with a federation of self-managing associations of working people.

After 3 months of consulations and deliberation, President Obama has announced that he is going to do what he had promised to do during his campaign for president—namely to expand the US attack on Afghanistan and Pakistan. This may not have been inevitable (since he broke many of his campaign promises already, such as ending overseas prisons, openness in government, ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a health care plan which covers everyone, an economic plan for working people, etc.). But it was probable.

As has been pointed out, his stated reasons for the war do not make much sense: in order to get out of Afghanistan, the US will send more troops into Afghanistan. The US needs to fight Al Queda, even though there are now only about 100 Queda militants left in Afghanistan; the Queda base is mostly in Pakistan (which Obama slurred over by speaking of “the border”) but the US will not be sending troops there (just secret attacks by drone missiles and CIA operatives). More generally, the US supposedly has to strengthen the resolve of the government of Pakistan…by sending more troops to Afghanistan. The US hopes to win over the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan by sending more non-Muslim, only-English-speaking, troops, which is sure to antagonize the people of the region. In 18 months, the US forces are supposed to transform the Karzai regime from one of the most corrupt, incompetent, and illegitimate states on earth, to a stable government (never mind a democracy). The effects of the mistaken US policies of 8 years can be reversed in 18 months (on the assumption that US forces will really “start” to withdraw in 18 months; promises are cheap; the US is still in Iraq). All of this is simply unbelievable and it is hard to think that an intelligent man such as Obama believes any of it.

Why then, really, is the US sending more troops into the region? Closer to Obama’s thinking are the expressions in his December 1, West Point, address, when he announced his program, where he spoke about the US as a global power with an economy which competes on the world market. Thus he remarked that “competition within the global economy has grown more fierce….Our prosperity…will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the past.” Implicit in these statements is an awareness that the US is no longer the economic power it was “in the past.” While still having the largest national economy, the US is now a de-industrializing debtor nation, losing out in world competition to Europe and Asia. This has been made worse by the global Great Recession, which has exposed the decay of the whole international capitalist system. The US ruling class, its layer of rich people, is not happy about this.

So they turn to the one asset they still have, which is the mighty military force of the US state—more powerful than any potential combination of opponent states. By throwing its weight around, the US hopes to re-achieve world dominance, or at least to slow its decline in world power. Obama reminded his listeners that the US has long been the dominant world power. “Our country has borne a special burden in global affairs ….More than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for six decades…” This is modified by the hypocritical words,”But unlike the great powers of old, we have not sough world domination.” He can say this because the US has not ruled through open “ownership” of colonies (leaving aside Puerto Rico and a few other places) but by economically dominating the world market, so that all must buy and sell on the US’ terms (“neocolonialism”). But whenever “necessary,” this has been backed up by military force, as shown in two imperialist world wars and a large number of invasions of smaller, weaker, nations.

Therefore it cannot accept being kicked in the teeth by small groups of terrorists living in caves, nor let petty dictatorships thumb their noses at the US. Nor can they afford to let regions which dominate the world petroleum supply fall into chaos, or at least outside of US rule, given the centrality of oil for the capitalist industrial economy. This includes both the Middle East and Northwest Asia (which may have important oil pipelines go through it).

Irrational behavior will result from being in situations which cannot be rationally dealt with. The US ruling class must try to dominate the world, economically and therefore politically and militarily, due to world competition. But it cannot dominate the world and is losing out in international competition. It must try to control the oppressed nations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, but it cannot control them. The result is a contradictory and irrational foreign policy. This was apparent under the stupid George W. Bush, with his ideologically fanatic advisors. It is still obvious under the intelligent and reasonable Barack Obama.

The result is likely to be disasterous (as it was in the Vietnam war, also waged by moderate Democrats—in fact most US wars have been waged by Democrats, starting with World War I). In Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, many people have been killed or wounded or their lives disrupted—mostly the nationally-oppressed people but also many US soldiers. Now very many more will be killed. Not to speak of the wealth which will be destroyed, both in the attacked countries and in the US (Obama says the war will cost $1 trillion).

And in the background is the threat of nuclear war—not only does the US have nuclear weapons but so does Pakistan and its long-time opponent and neighbor India. Also, in the same region, the US is threatening to attack Iran, for supposedly working toward nuclear weapons, and there are similar threats by the US ally Israel, which does have nuclear weapons. Will nuclear bombs be used in the near future? I doubt it; but time marches on and sooner or later they will be used. (The Bush administration made an effort to make smaller “bunker-blasting” nuclear bombs, which could be used in small wars such as in Iraq. These would have erased the gap between nuclear and conventional weapons. I do not know where this stands at the moment.) Liberals have called on the US to lead a world-wide crusade to abolish all nuclear weapons. Obama has given lip service to this idea, but nothing will come of it because the US state cannot give up any of its power to threaten the rest of the world.

We revolutionary anarchists must oppose these wars will all our might. While the system cannot stop making wars, it can be forced to end particular wars. This can be done by raising the price which the state must pay for that war. If the capitalist politicians feel that young people are becoming radicalized and militant, that labor is becoming restless, that soldiers are potentially mutinous, and that the local peoples will not stop resisting--then they will finally decide to end the war (as in Vietnam).

We should participate in broader “peace” movement, joining it in its mass marches and demonstrations. Often we radicals get tired of demonstrations, seeing how little they accomplish; but we should not forget how exciting they can be for newer layers of antiwar activists. However this does not mean that we cover up our program. In particular we must oppose the leaders of this movement (liberals, social democrats, and Marxist-Leninists) for their capitulation to the Democratic Party. For years now, they have held back the movement by focusing on electing and supporting liberal Democrats.

We need to point to those who have the real power to end the war: the soldiers and other military forces and the working class. There has been increasing discontent among rank-and=file military and their families about the war. We should have a positive attitude toward this, as opposed to a moralistic superiority toward ordinary soldiers, who are usually victims of the poverty draft.. Similarly, there has been much discontent with the wars among working people and their families. We can at least support the idea of strikes against the war, war production, and the transportation of war material. We should oppose any use of the war as an excuse for union-busting or wage-lowering.

The force most directly opposing US imperialism in these regions are the people. We should make clear our solidarity with the nationally oppressed people (who are mostly workers, peasants, and small businesspeople). We should defend their right to resist US aggression. We should not be “neutral” between the mightiest imperial power and the oppressed people of Afghanistan. But this does not require any support or endorsement for any particular organization or leadership. We are certainly not “for” the Taliban, which is viciously misogynist, anti-labor, and statist. We do not want them to get their state again. However, that is a matter for the Afghan people to decide, not for the US state nor for Western anarchists.

We should be willing to work with anyone who will oppose the wars, while openly expressing our own program: the end of the state, of international capitalism (imperialism), and of all forms of oppression.

author by Jef Wallacepublication date Tue Dec 08, 2009 09:58Report this post to the editors


Warmaking nations never stop to think what they have to lose if the war goes badly, or even if the enemy is able to get in just one good shot. The international scenario is still a hairtrigger away from launch at any time, and will be forever. Warring nations can slip across borders with whatever cargo they please.

It *is* an anarchist world, and the states are just big bullies that swallow us plankton for dinner. There are no rules in modern combat; suicide bombing has seen to that. Anarchy is inevitable. We must abandon the entire outdated concept of "state" and form a state within ourselves, and negotiate with other autonomous selves to form a productive network.

When Hitler invaded the USSR, he lost. The inevitable reaction brought a horde of relative barbarians into the dainty homes of German bourgeois life. Hordes are naturally limited by lack of leadership and lack of trust, but the opportunity to plunder makes for mighty movements. Your government has made millions of enemies for you, without your consent or indeed your knowledge. You don't need this ! You never signed up to be born an enemy of anyone... it is your GOVERNMENT that creates the enemies, but it is YOU that may wind up footing the savage bill.

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Fri Dec 11, 2009 09:05Report this post to the editors

As usual, great piece Wayne. I was very glad to see you writing this since I find disgraceful and a bit embarassing the silence of the comrades in those countries that are actually sending fresh troops to Afghanistan. I'm also glad to see a coherent anti-imperialist argument and not a moralizing "those horrible terrorists are killing our beautiful children going out to help them" type of argument. I'll translate it into Spanish for a Colombian magazine in which we are at present analyzing the new phase of imperialism in relation to the 7 new military bases to be built by the US in that country -another proof that the US is increasing its military footing in areas where it is losing its traditional grip. Latin America, particularly since the emergence of solid regional powers, is increasing its trade partners, competition is becoming more acute, the US is losing hegemony and therefore the bases come as an attempt to regain some of its lost hegemony.

In this context of high tensions and exacerbated violence, it is by no means a paradox that one of the reasons for the Nobel Prize Committee to award Obama the Peace Prize was his efforts to re-establish the prestige of the US in the world -as it that had anything to do with world peace. Whatever, this war efforts, disguised in peace jargon in truly Orwellian fashion, demonstrated that Obama's main priority will be to recompose the lost US hegemony, and the military element to it is essential. The results of this are frightful, but irrationality as you rightly state is part of the whole process. Unsurprisingly, with Obama we are seeing the US military actions increase (Middle East, Latin America) in relation to the last period of Bush.

Last but not least, what you mention about the nuclear factor in this equation is by no means less worrying. The growing state of chaos in Pakistan makes anything possible. And since 1998 the Pentagon has been seriosuly working, as you mention, in the design of new low intensity nuclear weapons, what they called back then the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as part of an integral programme called the Revolution in Military Affairs (RAM). Where is it that at the moment, I don't know, but for sure the Obama factor may be able to advance these programmes with a veil of "peace making" jargon...

author by ajohnstone - socialist party of great britainpublication date Sat Dec 12, 2009 19:49author email alanjjohnstone at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address Scotland/Indiaauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

"We should make clear our solidarity with the nationally oppressed people (who are mostly workers, peasants, and small businesspeople). We should defend their right to resist US aggression. We should not be “neutral” between the mightiest imperial power and the oppressed people of Afghanistan. But this does not require any support or endorsement for any particular organization or leadership. We are certainly not “for” the Taliban, which is viciously misogynist, anti-labor, and statist. We do not want them to get their state again. However, that is a matter for the Afghan people to decide, not for the US state nor for Western anarchists."

And what if some Afghans choose to reach an accommodation with the US and Nato , in what can be considered a long civil war , pre-dating American involvement ? Do you exclude that option for the Afghan people and their right to decide not to resist . And just how is that choice made other than by democratic elections - something sadly amiss in to-days Afghanistan .

To be sure , i am offering no defence of American policy . Where US interests are challenged there are no lengths the US won’t go to, nor the stinking depths it will sink , to secure its own ends, regardless of the cost of life. .
Yet the focus on the role of American imperialism and the couching of anti-war sentiments in terms of US withdrawal present itself as if the American government had some choice in pursuing an imperialist policy, that its actions result from some mysteriously gung-ho national characteristic, rather than from the dictates of capitalist economy.
It also ignores the fact that even if the US ceased to be the disruptive force for chaos in the region, there are plenty of willing understudies to take over that role. Every country in the world adopts a policy that it hopes will advance the interests of their capitalist masters. Duplicity and double-dealing are the norm in the cut-throat world of capitalism. All capitalist states are basically imperialist in character and ambition.(eg Russia had been previously arming and supplying the Northern Alliance against the Taliban and as an aside you seem selective in your choice of imperialist states - Japan , but no China ? )

While it is important that workers oppose war, it is just as important that they recognise just why armed conflicts between states break out and in whose interests wars are waged. Without setting war in its true context some are going to oppose war and its effects, yet will still be prepared to support capitalism , as in the anti-war movement many still do , and then it will be a life of continual constant campaigning.The weakness of the anti-war movement is that the majority want nothing more than a return to capitalist "peace" rather than the overthrow of the system that causes war.

Socialists and anarchists are always on the side of the oppressed against the oppressors and the massive use of overwhelming force by the US and Nato clearly exposes it as the oppressor. But just because we sympathise with the victims of US/Nato oppression does not mean that we favour the solutions popular amongst them. "Anti-imperialism" is the slogan of local elites who wish to dominate the region in place of the US, a situation which would still leave the mass of the population there exploited and oppressed

We can only argue that we have no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan and that we actually share a lot in common. We all want peace and security for our families and a chance to participate in and share the production of wealth. In a conflict over which state and ruling classes should control a region, no working class interest is involved except in so far as it is they who are its innocent victims and need the killing, maiming and destruction to stop - without qualification or equivocation. Peace groups should be congratulated for their humanitarian outlook and attempts to stop the war in Afghanistan but they must also be reminded to work to end the cause of all conflicts – capitalism

Related Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/differences.html
author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:32Report this post to the editors

I hate doing copy-paste in comments, but in this case there's very little else to do. The response of Johnstone is a classic case of strawman discussion.

Johnstone discusses that:

"Yet the focus on the role of American imperialism and the couching of anti-war sentiments in terms of US withdrawal present itself as if the American government had some choice in pursuing an imperialist policy, that its actions result from some mysteriously gung-ho national characteristic, rather than from the dictates of capitalist economy (...) While it is important that workers oppose war, it is just as important that they recognise just why armed conflicts between states break out and in whose interests wars are waged. Without setting war in its true context some are going to oppose war and its effects, yet will still be prepared to support capitalism , as in the anti-war movement many still do , and then it will be a life of continual constant campaigning.The weakness of the anti-war movement is that the majority want nothing more than a return to capitalist "peace" rather than the overthrow of the system that causes war. "

But actually, if you read the article, you'd realize that Wayne's introduction states clearly and in an unequivocal way:

"The expansion of the US attack on Afghanistan and Pakistan is not due to the personal qualities of Obama but to the social system he serves: the national state and the capitalist economy. The nature of the situation guarantees that the system will act irrationally. Anarchists should participate in building a broad movement against the war, while raising our political program. In discussing President Obama’s expansion of the US attack on Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is important not to focus on Obama as a personality but on the social system to which he is commited, specifically to the war-waging capitalist national state. “War is the health of the state,” as Randolph Bourne declared during World War I. It is what the national state is for, what it does, and why it still exists, despite the real trends toward international unity and worldwide coordination."

So don't exactly understand what is your point. Neither get what's the point of arguing that:

"Socialists and anarchists are always on the side of the oppressed against the oppressors and the massive use of overwhelming force by the US and Nato clearly exposes it as the oppressor. But just because we sympathise with the victims of US/Nato oppression does not mean that we favour the solutions popular amongst them."

When Wayne was clear to state that:

"The force most directly opposing US imperialism in these regions are the people. We should make clear our solidarity with the nationally oppressed people (who are mostly workers, peasants, and small businesspeople). We should defend their right to resist US aggression. We should not be “neutral” between the mightiest imperial power and the oppressed people of Afghanistan. But this does not require any support or endorsement for any particular organization or leadership. We are certainly not “for” the Taliban, which is viciously misogynist, anti-labor, and statist. We do not want them to get their state again. However, that is a matter for the Afghan people to decide, not for the US state nor for Western anarchists."


What's the point argued then? Hard to know. I guess the real argument Johnstone tries to make is a typically British denial of the legitimacy of any form of national liberation or anti-imperialist struggle. It is clear when he makes his case in the following arguments:

"And what if some Afghans choose to reach an accommodation with the US and Nato , in what can be considered a long civil war, pre-dating American involvement ?"

Actually, imperialism in all forms require some sectors of the occupied countries to acommodate and accept the occupying powers. There has not been a single example of colonialism or imperialism that did not count with the consent of sectors of the population (particularly, the dominant classes who see in accomodation the only guarantee to keep some levels of privileges, since resistance offers an uncertain future -but also sometimes privileged clans or ethnic communities in a classic strategy of divide and rule). Not to acknowledge this is to completely ignore the way in which imperialism work. (The same could be said among any form of oppression by the way -the oppression of women requires some form of consent through indoctrination and culture, and as well the capitalist system in order to be functional requires a huge level of consent among workers, etc.)

"Do you exclude that option for the Afghan people and their right to decide not to resist ."

Johnstone may as well, following this logic, to ask himself and what if workers (as it is overwhelmingly clear in Britain) prefer capitalism to socialism? What if workers take as an option not to resist the cutbacks and passively accept the slash in the budget and the attacks on workers' life standards? (as it is sadly happening almost everywhere) Certainly the lack of resistance does not make oppression right. Obviously the point of contention is not the preference of oppressed people, but that for Johnstone there is no right to self-determination of the oppressed peoples.

In as much as you may say that you share "a lot in common" with the working class in Afghanistan, such as "We all want peace and security for our families and a chance to participate in and share the production of wealth" (that said, many nice a bourgeois will share those same lofty dreams with Johnstone) there is a lot more you are glad enough not to share with them: like the fact that they have to deal with brutal British, US, German, etc. troops that kill complete families in utter impunity, with corrupt gunmen ruling entire neighbourhoods with the complicity of the local occupying powers, a devastation and poverty unimaginable to anyone living in the UK, a desparing sense of uncertainy since nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, the eerie feeling that a bomb may explode behind you at any time, a deeply ingrained lack of self-esteem typical of any colonized and oppressed nation (prevalent in Africa, Latin America and Asia), etc. Obviously a dogmatic view, that rejects any form of oppression beyond the "class struggle pure and simple" will fail to realize this and will ignore the most urgent concerns of the people they think they share so much in common with (it is like men patronising women that they as a class have so much in common, without acknowledging the specific situations of women and the relative privileges of manhood, etc).

It is necessary to acknowledge the difference between the working class in Britain and in an occupied territory and therefore to accept the right of Afghans and of any other occupied people to live free of these negative factors which emanate ultimately from the capitalist system, but directly from the occupation. Since you don't acknowledge the occupation to be a crucial matter (and therefore you do not take an anti-imperialist approach) you fail to understand why people will resist ANY occupation in numerous of often subterranean ways.

The final comment that sums up the whole thing is:

"Anti-imperialism" is the slogan of local elites who wish to dominate the region in place of the US, a situation which would still leave the mass of the population there exploited and oppressed"

This is an extremely inaccurate comment. In fact, anti-imperialism is often not the discourse of local elites. Most of the local elites accomodate to the status quo of the occupation. Most of the elites collaborate openly. It is usually the case that anti-imperialism is the slogan of working class and peasant organisations groups, sometimes with nothing more than a populist programme, but it is often the war cry of the poor, not of the collaborating elites. In the Afghan case, some individuals of the local elites have rallied behind the "expulsion of the infidels" and have carried some sectors of the poor, workers and pesants behind them. The vast majority of the resistance is led by the people in the countryside, maybe without a socialist programme behind them, but nonetheless, a genuine expression of the people that want to live free of the military boot of a foreign occupying nation. Anti-imperialism is a discourse of the left that maybe has very little impact in Afghanistan for now -nonetheless, wherever it is used, is largely by the left and not by sectors of the ruling class. And as long as workers and peasants are resisting, it may become a concept that spread throughout the country, for in rebellion lay the seeds of awareness.

author by Kevin S.publication date Mon Dec 14, 2009 08:13Report this post to the editors

Excellent work, Wayne! I think it is the best article I've read of yours recently, hitting all important points clearly and insightfully. It sums up well the pressures, motivations and "homefront" backdrop behind the war. The only thing that might have been dealt with from that aspect, that is absent, is the extent and reasoning of public sympathy with the Afghan war -- it seems to me that has not been adequately reckoned with by anti-war commentators or activists. It should not be underestimated how many people support this war for misguided reasons, or at least don't feel compelled to oppose it in the same way as Iraq.

It is obvious that Obama's presidency scored a real coup for the ruling class, but what is even more amazing is how well controlled the "public debate" has been about Afghanistan, far more than with Iraq. In part this was possible because so much of the common argument against Iraq was that the invasion had nothing to do with Sept. 11 -- the leading Democrats have always argued Iraq was a "mistake" and a distraction from the real task of "catching al-Qaeda." Obama is now merely implementing that argument, what has somehow caught many opponents "off gaurd" -- some are still relying on the "failed strategy" arguments.

Given that, it becomes extremely relevant how the system behaves "irrationally," as you say in this article -- or could better say, "desperately." It fights to keep, and prove, its power even as the war is clearly sapping that power. Anyway, it simply isn't adequate to talk of "failed strategy" as though we were on the same side! This is where public sympathy comes in, as "average" workers still feel they share in the US military's cause even when they feel the strategy has failed ... and therefore share its desperation, its irrational hope in victory (a hope that Obama has breathed fresh life into), its trust in military power to protect them from "the enemy."

I think the only sticking point for me in the aritcle was this single line: "this does not require any support or endorsement for any particular organization or leadership." I believe quite strongly we should endorse progressive forces like RAWA, or Malalai Joya, and surely others who I don't know of that are resisting the occupation, the warlords and the Taliban altogether. It's true they aren't anarchist, but that should not prevent us from supporting such principled voices who are risking their lives to demand peace, democracy and human rights in a country where those things have been destroyed for thirty years! It is also the best argument we have for why we are not on the side of US imperialism.

author by Waynepublication date Tue Dec 15, 2009 06:06Report this post to the editors

(1) A. Johnstone seems to be criticizing me for not being anti-capitalist enough, in his opinion. Jose Antonio answers him perfectly. It is hard to know if Johnstone had even read my essay.

(2) Kevin S. is right that we have to address why the US working population is supporting this war (to the extent that it is) Partly this is just nationalism, identification with the power of the national state by those who are really powerless. But partly people have a wholly reasonable desire not to be blown up by the random mass violence of terrorists. They think that this war is a way to avoid that.

The liberals have pointed out that the US state could protect the people from terrorism mainly through effective police work, and that this is all that has worked (domestically and internationally). This is probably true. Anarchists would argue that the hatred of the US and other Western countries by so many is a direct result of the evil effects which Wesern imperialism has had on most of the world—although we do not agree with the terrorists’ program of Islamic fanatacism. Sending troops to Afghanistan, like the US support of Israel, only increases the hatred and therefore the danger for us.

(3) Kevin argues, “the only sticking point for me in the aritcle was this single line: "this does not require any support or endorsement for any particular organization or leadership." I believe quite strongly we should endorse progressive forces like RAWA, or Malalai Joya, and surely others who I don't know of that are resisting the occupation, the warlords and the Taliban altogether.”

I guess I was not clear. That we are not REQUIRED to support or endorse any particular organization, does not mean that we CANNOT support or endorse any organization we believe deserves it. In this case I was focusing on the main anti-US military force, which is the Taliban. Its leadership is pathologically anti-woman and reactionary in many ways, even though its ranks include many who are simply Pushtun farmers who dislike foreign occupiers, without much of an ideology. We can have sympathy for the ranks’ anti-invader motives, and agree with their right to resist invasion, without endorsing their organization. Or to put it another way, we condemn many things about the Taliban, but we do not condemn them for fighting against the imperialist invaders and their local puppets.

I agree that we may have much more political agreement with RAWA and other possible organizations. If there were anarchists of our tendency in the region they would probably work with such organizations. But unfortunately RAWA, etc., does not have nfluence it deserves right now.

Immediate and Unconditional Withdrawal of US and NATO Forces from Afghanistan and Pakistan!
No Imperialist Wars!

author by ajohnstone - socialist party of great britain publication date Wed Dec 16, 2009 18:25author email alanjjohnstone at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address scotland/indiaauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

Oh , i read it , Wayne, and i recognised the sub-text support for national liberation movements and resistance for the peoples against occupation - the right of self determination of nations which i thought had been answered by Rosa Luxemburg

My original intention was to post a lenghty rebuttal , but instead i will just paraphrase something a a co-worker once told me during the Cold War.

He said " it doesn't matter a fuck whether it is a crown or a red star on our caps , you and me will still be postmen delivering letters "

Related Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/articles/luxemburg_and_th...l.php
author by José Antonio Gutiérrezpublication date Thu Dec 17, 2009 05:59Report this post to the editors

So Johnstone comes back with a slogan instead of an argument. A pretty nice slogan, but out of context it means little -very few people in occupied territories will express themselves in those terms since they had to experience something neither you, nor your friend, ever had to experience -the violence of an occupying power. Interesting as Rosa Louxembourg is, a lot has happened in the world since she died! Maybe Angola did not produce a socialist paradise, but believe me, most Angolans I know, and I know a few, would not like to be back to Portuguese opccupation. The same could be said about anyone else in that three quarters of the world that still have to put up with the aftermath of colonialism and its deadly legacy.

Johnstone's inability to tell an imperialistic conflict (cold war, red star or crown, etc.) from the legitimate struggle against an occupying power says it all. So yes, let's assume that if the occupation in Gaza comes to an end tomorrow, many nice working class people will still deliver letters -but they will not see their children collapse at any disease because of the lack of medicines iomposed by the blockade; they will not see their children shot dead on the streets before they are men or women; they will not suffer daily the humilliations, harassment and mistreatments on the checkpoints; they will not have to put up with the terror of sexual violence against women by Israeli soldiers. All these stuff is well dcoumented and I'm surprised that a knowledgable man as Johnstone has not heard about it, or actually prefers to ignore it. Maybe being so busy reading Rosa Louxembourg does not give you enough time to read the papers!

Such a comment, completely out of context, confusing the rightful opposition to imperialistic conflicts with moralising occupied people on their right to resist, being far more concerned on the futility of resistance than with the abuses of the British army, coming from a man from a country that in this very moment is sending fresh troops to Afghanistan, sounds like nothing short of an apollogy on this imperialistic adventure.

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Sat Dec 26, 2009 18:52Report this post to the editors

Very briefly, we need to differentiate anti-war movement to an anti imperialist movement. The revolutionary left should be part of the movement constructing an anti imperialist mass movement. We need to construct our tendency in this so called anti war movement. Two things need to be considered :One the internal contradictions in the social formation dominated by imperialism, including militarily intervention, and Imperialist domination/occupation. In most dominated social formation reactionary classes or fraction of classes are sometime in opposition to some policies of imperialism due to their reactionary class interest. To ally us with them is a mistake, a terrible mistake: a class collaborationist line proven to be a failure.

author by Waynepublication date Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:34Report this post to the editors

Jan makes a distinction between an antiwar movement and an antiimperialist movement, saying that revolutionaries should be constructing the antiimperialist movement. Yes, but usually it is only possible to build an antiimperialist struggle if we participate in the broder antiwar movement. We are not pacifists, we are not againsst all wars, such as popular revolutions or (I believe) wars of oppressed nations, but we can only win people over if we are part of the broader movement, which at least starts out as an opposition to war.

Yes, part of the ruling class may be critical of any particular war. Part of the US state wanted it to leave Vietnam years before it actually did. There are parts of the Western capitalists who think that the US state whould stop being so uncritical of Israel and shoiud be more on te side of the Arabs (who, after all, have the oil). Many antiwar activists may listen to such moderate, pro-state views. It is our job--from inside the mass movement--to combat such views in favor of revolutionary anarchism--not to stand outside the movement and sneer at it, as some people (such as the US Spartacists) do.

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Sun Dec 27, 2009 22:27Report this post to the editors

We need to construct our tendency: in this so call anti war movement and in our own autonomous practice.
I don’t see nor envision Revolutionary militant of the left being outside of the war movement. At the same time, we shouldn’t dilute ourselves in the anti war movement. The autonomous presence of revolutionary current[s] in the anti war movement is necessary in order to construct our own tendency. The form and type of presence should be discussed among revolutionaries, at the same time delimitating us from opportunism or class collaborationist, to determine the political line to transform the anti war movement into an anti imperialist movement. As long as it remains an anti war movement it will be limited, very limited and will objectively serve as the social base of class and fraction of the bourgeoisie, possibly the Democratic Party or the Greens movement, in election time. Only an anti imperialist movement will demarcate us from the reformist debate what country should the US invade: Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan or can US imperialist, with or without the UN, could occupy a country to restore democracy or for the Left to be part of any demand given legitimacy to imperialism: such as the return of democracy Honduras and Haiti. Only a clear political line guided by the objective interest of the proletariat will help us understand the true nature of Imperialism and no human emancipation could be achieved with Imperialism or under the domination of imperialism.

At this historical stage it is very limiting to identify peripheral countries as oppressed nations or colonies. The concept of oppressed nations tends to look at these social formations predominantly from a political perspective of their relation with imperialism. The concept of oppressed nations tends to negate the internal contradictions and class struggles in these social formations.[ Please see Independent response to the LRP].

The concept of oppressed nations tends to look only at the political relation of imperialism to these social formations. The domination is most foremost economical, even in some cases the immediate interest is of a political nature.
Looking at these social formation dominated by imperialist as oppressed nation doesn’t really help us understand the internal contradictions of these societies
These dominated countries as well as imperialist countries are primarily social formations: meaning all the social classes are historically constituted. It is this relationship of classes that constitutes the structure of class struggle. This complex reality of class relations produces complex processes, based on a contradictory unity of the reproduction of these relations of productions, which in final analysis are determinant. In these dominated social formation some classes or fractions of classes will be against some aspects of imperialist domination/occupation. Their resistance should not be consider, even in the short turn, as progressive if we do take in consideration their reactionary class interest inside these social formation. The Taliban or the Warlords are not part of the people’s camp in this conjectural moment in the period of capitalist /imperialism. To unite with them against imperialism/occupation is to develop a class collaborationist’s theory with antagonistic classes or fraction of classes.

The concept of social formation is the uninterrupted political practice of the proletariat to constantly define and consistently rectify the political strategy and tactic of a revolutionary struggle for the ultimate goal of radical transformation of a social formation.. This is the importance of the autonomous struggle of the proletariat. The proletariat has to measure its own strength in different conjunctures, also to measure its own strength in relation with all classes in struggle. The interpretation (of Lenin, Stalin ,Trotsky and any others) of oppressed nations is totally wrong and metaphysical. If we, as the continuators of a proletarian alternative, continue to uphold these theories after more than 50 years, our ideas also become outdated, even the ones who were once proven to be a guide for revolutionary actions.
Waging arm struggle doesn’t give one automatically the title of revolutionary. Such approach will be simplistic and will serve the objective interest of the block of reactionaries classes. To support reactionary elements such as Saddam Hussein, Noriega, Arisitide and reactionary arms groups such as the Taliban, HAMAS and others is to confuse anti imperialism with anti Americanism or to confuse reactionary anti imperialism with revolutionary/ progressive anti imperialism. But worse is to understand an objective reality from is external manifestation. Our task is to always appropriate an objective reality from the internal contradiction and fusion that theory in the proletarian struggle . Our theory needs to appropriate the formal real in order for the international working class ,in their own specific social formation, to wage struggle for the abolition of wages and classes.

Related Link: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/10224
author by Griffin - ZB/ZACFpublication date Thu Jan 07, 2010 00:16Report this post to the editors

Comp@s,

This text as .pdf pamphlet is now available from Zabalaza Books at the following link.

http://zabalaza.net/pdfs/varpams/obamas_imperial_war_an_anarchist_response_wp.pdf

Salud,
Gr.

Related Link: http://www.zabalaza.net
author by Mantarpublication date Tue Jan 26, 2010 01:23Report this post to the editors

I like the Obama "HOPE" poster, but I think it would work better if it said "INCOMING HOPE" to emphasize the whole "bombing brown people for democracy" theory.

Or maybe it's just all those warning signs from Doktor Sleepless rubbing off on me. "WARNING: PSYCHOACTIVE AIR" Heh.

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