I am a member of the Communist Workers Group, the American section of the Liaison Committee of Communists. I wish to extend international greetings to the comrades here. I believe, (and if not, NOW is the time to hear it!!,) that we support the general line of the declaration « Down With Fortress Europe. »
We would like to see more on dialectics and its existence in the life of the program and its role in the development of the revolutionary party. This work is a current project of the LCC and we will have a major piece for discussion before long. The discourse is in its advanced stage of formulation.
(2.) We have been warning of the increased World War 3 danger in our press. We have not had a full scale discussion in the LCC about how soon it might land on us all, and consequently, we see no point in disputing at this time the idea expressed in the Draft Program that the « conditions are not yet present » for its outbreak. We would just wish to posit one caution. The imperialists are capable of blundering into collisions that escape their control. They have many things on their minds, including the likelihood of a « double dip » recession, this time without the Chinese cushion but with currency deflation as the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall strikes the world capitalist economy everywhere at once. Meanwhile their arms buildups and deployments accelerate.
(3a.) We would want some amplifications in the Draft Program, and not because we see it as flawed. We would like to see more discussion of the WSF, the BRICS bloc, Bolivarianism and « 21st Century Socialism. »
(3.b) Even if comrades don’t see the need to expand about the international sectology of Castro, Morales, Chavez, Mandela, etc. adherents and cheering squads, we still wind up with a pressing need to speak to where Venezuela, Cuba, South Africa and Iran are going and what those vectors mean for the international workers’ struggle.
In the discussion of history of the Fourth International we have remarked in our own discussions that while we might not have written the section in exactly the same way, we come to the same conclusion. We would have referenced the work of Jose Vila as a footnoted source, because we should be able to conclude together that proof that the degeneration of the FI was completed is to be found in the advice of BOTH the I.S. and the I.C. factions to the Bolivian P.O.R. in 1952-53. This was applied Pabloism and proof that the I.C. break with it was only organizational and NOT methodological. Without any lengthy digression at all, this understanding could be encapsulated for the education of future recruits to revolutionary Marxism in just a few lines.
I wish to address the response submitted by the GMI to the LCC’s critique of Islamo-Fascism and the perspective on Syria.
Islamo-Fascism and Excessive Laicite
We think of the bourgeois hypocrites who hosted the Iranian Prime Minister and preposterously took him to an art museum where the nude sculptures were covered in shrouds, head to foot! And clearly, the world does need more secularism when a teenager can have his head chopped off by Daesh for listening to rock and roll. Without digressing into a long explanation of dialectical unities of opposites we will still want to be able to say why we want a secular world and how to get it.
We are anti-clerical. We come by it honestly. In our prehistory in the Internationalist Tendency of the (Barnes) SWP in the seventies, we already adhered to most of Fraserism and said so. Fraser, as early as 1955 saw the SWP abandoning the contest for the leadership of the revived Black civil rights movement to preachers, ministers and the petty bourgeoisie. The SWP had real and considerable historical credentials from fighting on Black workers’ behalf, but wound up junking it all, on the one hand adopting the Breitman line in support of Black nationalism (a non-class, sectoralist line, the first of a list of these opportunist adaptations,) while in its practice it cheered on the preachers and adopted their Ghandian pacifism, making a fetish of « single issue mass action » and even calling it a « strategy for revolution. »
The disgusting anti-Muslim Donald Trump act on the U.S. electoral stage would not have been possible without Hollande’s march of the « democratic » killers after the « Charlie Hebdo » attacks and the subsequent U.S. media orchestration of pro-France sentiment when Hollande added the Armee de’l Air to the U.S. imperialist air war coalition. When one remembers that it was G.W. Bush who introduced the U.S. public to the term « islamo fascism » in his early motivations for his « war on terror, » the present is no time for Trotskyists to try to inject this term with a historical materialist content which we dispute in any case. Who would understand us as correctly anticlerical if we did use it?
We mentioned the unity of opposites. Because we oppose all religion as anti-scientific falsehood worse than trating disease with leeches, we face our concrete problems as they really are. One cannot hope to employ the method of the Transitional Program or the program itself otherwise. In Yugoslavia in the ’90s and in Syria today we call for multi-ethnic and intercommunal workers councils and militias, and in the obtaining conditions where the various imperialists and their proxies foster sectarian division and ethnic cleansing — beginning with George Bush senior in 1991in collusion with Saddam Hussein– we have to explain that we are for the greatest freedom of religion as a precondition. This is only a contradiction for formal logic.
Syrian Revolution Is Alive
Now I want to address the issue of the Syrian revolution, as brought up in the Liaison Committee of Communist’s (LCC) document “Our Objection, Our Worries and Hesitation Explained” that was submitted to the conference for discussion, as well as the response submitted by the comrades of the Groupe Marxiste Internationaliste (GMI). The LCC thinks that the Syrian struggle still lives, although obviously under heavy attack from all sides. The democratic aspirations of the masses has not been quelled, as is witnessed by the recent mass demonstrations. Do the street demonstrations against Assad during the ‘ceasefire’ look like defeat!!!
The massive outpouring of anti-Assad demonstrations, the resistance in Homs, Aleppo, Rojava were not passive and were not all dependent on the armies of the reactionary clerical Islamists. The victories of DAESH are the consequence of the lack of the revolutionary international to combat the backward forces at the head of the anti-Assad masses.
I encourage everyone here to watch the recent videos by Syria Solidarity UK, where Robin Yassin-Kassab speaks. The FLTI’s organized Leon Sedov Brigade, who have performed an heroic internationalist duty, are still manning the barricades.
The 400-700 LCCs identified by some as petty bourgeois intellectuals and pacifists are more than that. Is there revolutionary workers party? No. Are they workers councils? No! Do they united across class lines as did the soviets? Yes! Despite a leadership that for a time made close alliance with the FSA, despite some leadership elements that make claim to pacifism, the LCC’s are more than their leaders. And as Marxists know, class consciousness can change very rapidly.
The Bolsheviks had to combat both obsequious compradors, pacifists and anarchists in the soviets. The comrades abandon that fight inside the Local Coordinating Committees (LCC) and among the secular and multi-ethnic and multi religious brigades that are the youth of Syria in rebellion against Assad and the two imperialist blocs. In the soviets the Bolsheviks had to win the workers to class independent action to expose the sellout leaderships and alien class forces, this is the fight in the LCCs. The LCCs refusal to participate in Geneva II was a victory over those siding with the imperialists. And that was accomplished without a party. But the party is necessary to take the lessons and unite the class to break the unionized sectors from the Red/Brown semi-fascist popular front initiated by Assad the elder and the Stalinist Communist Party of Syria.
The LCCs are pacifist and have illusions in imperialist bourgeois ‘democracy’? Well what do we expect? The majority against Assad have illusions in Western ‘democracy’, just like most of the U.S., the EU, etc. populations which have the benefit of a ‘democracy’ bought and paid for by superprofits.
And there are always Gandhian pacifist illusions in every struggle. The American Civil Rights Movement in the struggle against Jim Crow segregation was steeped in pacifism, but there were militant groups that also formed in the face of racist KKK and police terror, notably the Deacons for Defense and the Black Panther Party. That this struggle could have been pushed further had there been a Leninist-Trotskyist party with a base in the masses and with a revolutionary program, is a given. Even today, the Black Lives Matters movement is politically contradictory, with illusions in bourgeois ‘democracy’. There are sections supporting the Democratic Party, and yet others, such as in the state of Alabama, organizing on the ground for armed self-defense against the racist police and fascist terror. The LCC does not think the last word has been heard from Black Lives Matter, despite the liberal illusions in the capitalist state and the Democratic Party. We are not going to throw our hands up in defeat and go home. For that matter, in the rare case that there is a labor strike in the United States, the treacherous union bureaucracy do their best to make certain that the picket lines are not going to be defended. That doesn’t make a labor strike stand outside of the class struggle.
Most Syrian oppositionists are not armed but the armed minority certainly is fighting a guerilla war. If Paris had LCCs coexisting with armed militias fighting a fascist regime today we would be talking about a new Paris Commune. Like Marx we would be worrying about the absence of a Marxist party and program but at least we would support the Commune to the death.
Revolutions are not initiated on our schedule. The masses have no other option but to revolt and the party, the international may or may not be ready. The fact that we are not ready does not mean the revolution, the self-organization of the masses, is not proceeding under fire of competing imperialist blocs, regional powers and communal divisions fostered by agents of imperialism both overt and covert. Under fire of 16 competing armies, the masses struggle to survive is the revolution.
The Vietnamese revolution lasted for decades, first against the French colonialists, then the Japanese, again against the French until they finally achieved their social revolution through the defeat of U.S. imperialism. Other social revolutions such as the struggle to abolish chattel slavery in the United States, to the Chinese Revolution to Yugoslavia took years and decades. Even the Russian Revolution did not advance linearly, but witnessed rapid advances as well as setbacks.
Moreover in the oppressed countries the decay of imperialism is extreme. The organized working class barely exists and the vanguard is missing. The Syrian revolution does not follow a blueprint where it has to satisfy an imperiocentric timeline and be led by an imperiocentric Trotskyist international.
We think the path CoRep is on away from the Syrian revolution is non-internationalism; in the real circumstance it is as bad practically as the absurd « revolutionaries » and « Trotskyists » who support Assad. This is a surprise given the analysis CoRep made of events in Libya when you polemicized with and cleaned the clock of Gerry Downing’s pro-Ghaddafi neo-Healyism. The majority of the comrades in the CWG were in the nowadays defunct Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism (HWRS) at the time and supported comrade Couthon’s analysis (and still do), which we intended to publish before Dave Winter’s radical position reversal.
But that is a formal position only because CoReP does not concretely defend the Syrian Revolution which is fighting IS etc., and explains why we can’t actually defend it from imperialism any more than we can defend Assad. Moreover while the Syrian revolution is fighting on three fronts (imperialism, Assad, and the various hostile militias) it also has to combat the fourth front which is the ‘imperialist left’. CoRePs position on Syria puts it in the category of the ‘imperialist left’. Why? Because it adopts phony arguments to pronounce permanent revolution dead.
Was it dead by 2012? How to explain the survival of a revolution (effectively denied heavy weapons by imperialism and its proxies) until today requiring the intervention of the Russian bloc to stop it overthrowing Assad? In Aleppo there is an armed resistance coexisting with popular (workers, professionals, traders, etc.) self-administration. How is this Aleppo Commune still alive and kicking?
The Russian blitzkrieg is worse than Guernica, the Spanish city destroyed by fascist bombers during the civil war. In Spain the Republic was attacked by Franco’s fascists with the support of the Western imperialist powers. Around the world the labor movement and the Stalinist Communist Parties rallied to the Republican side in the civil war and many travelled to Spain to form international brigades. Today, in Syria most of the Western left deny that a civil war exists. They are by default on the side of the fascist regime. Trotsky said that Stalinism without workers property would be a kind of fascism. With the end of workers property Putin inherited Stalin’s mantle. So the crypto-Stalinists today claim there is no popular insurrection in Syria. They buy Assad’s lies that the US created militias to bring about ‘regime change’ and that most of those militias have been overrun by the IS itself a US proxy. There is no revolution and no side to support in Syria for these crypto-Stalinists except Russia as the only force capable of wiping out ISIS. Others prefer to back peace talks in the hope that the war can be stopped. Neither will talk to the Syrian people about their struggle for survival. The Syrian people may as well not exist
The “Arab Spring” erupted in response to the unfinished tasks of the Arab national democratic revolution intersecting with the inability of the semi-colonial comprador bourgeois regimes to placate the masses under the conditions of the general crisis of international capitalism and the austerity it demands. The expression and fight for basic democratic rights is tied in a Gordian knot to the economic struggle of the workers which has exploded in a ring of fire around the Mediterranean. The popular and proletarian character of these uprisings lies not only in their origins (which are multi-class) and the strikes and general strikes that followed, but in the fact that the semi-colonial governments cannot protect the masses from imperialist plunder. Indeed they have joined in greedily!
Syria is a democratic revolution that still fights to survive, and which if it had international material aid from the Western left, including Trotskyist brigades, would be capable of continuing the permanent revolution against international counter-revolution. One can only say that the permanent revolution has been proven in the negative if one is ignorant of the actual revolution taking place. If the Bolshevik vanguard barely exists in the imperialist countries, then arguing that it has to exist before the democratic revolution can be reopened in the semi-colonies is to miss the revolution (only to find it in the pub at home). Revolutions begin without a Bolshevik vanguard and sometimes are more advanced than the vanguard which may catch up (as in Russia) or miss the boat (as in Germany). We do not want to be in the camp of those who judge revolutions by their own schematics.
Necessity For A Revolutionary Party and Revolutionary Workers International
The only solution to the difficult problems in Syria is a Socialist Revolution: Unless the working class assumes leadership of the Syrian masses in revolt, the revolution cannot be won. The current petty bourgeois rebel leaderships, with no program, strategy or tactics, are obviously unable to mobilize the whole working class and peasants irrespective of their ethnic and religious affiliation against the Assad dictatorship. But without such a broad mobilization and organization in popular councils and militias, it is impossible to defeat the Assad regime and replace it with a truly popular, workers’ and peasants government. To achieve this, the working class needs a revolutionary leadership, i.e. a revolutionary party. And that means standing on the side of the Syrian masses who are under the gun of NATO and U.S. imperialism, Russian/Chinese imperialism and reactionary clerical Islamists such as Daesh.
In concrete terms an internationalist labor defense of the Syrian masses needs to materially confront imperialism in Syria. In Russia and China this means workers must unite to oppose their own government’s support for Assad including taking labor actions to stop arms shipments to the regime. The key tasks of a united front in the US and EU is for workers to organize and provide military aid to the revolution. Without man portable surface to air missiles and other SAMs the masses are at the mercy of Assad’s air force. From the United States to Spain to South Africa to China and Syria, the working class is under all-out assault by capital. Build independent working class opposition to the brutal dictatorship in Syria and to the imperialist paymasters who subject the masses to slaughter. Build this as the defense of our class as a whole.
Defend the Syrian masses! Form up local committees, link them nationally and internationally and take action to provide assistance to the secular and independent working class fighters.”
Down with Geneva 2, imperialist scheme to rob the masses of every revolutionary gain!
For organizations of workers councils and their class political independence from Syrian bourgeois political forces in the opposition, be they in country or exile. Only working class political independence will permit defense of the revolution against all its enemies of today and tomorrow.
For Permanent Revolution! For a Revolutionary Socialist Federation of the Middle East! For a revolutionary workers international!