Social Revolution Party

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: The point, however, is to change it."

Posts Tagged ‘iraq’

Venezuela’s Chavez Calls for International Organisation of Left Parties

Posted by sorev on 28/11/2009

Originally found on Venezuela Analysis on November 23, 2009.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for the formation of a “Fifth International” of left parties and social movements to confront the challenge posed by the global crisis of capitalism.

The president made the announcement during an international conference of more than fifty left organisations from thirty-one countries held in Caracas over November 19-21.

“I assume responsibility before the world. I think it is time to convene the Fifth International, and I dare to make the call, which I think is a necessity. I dare to request that we create my proposal,” Chavez said.

The head of state insisted that the conference of left parties should not be “just one more meeting,” and he invited participating organizations to create a truly new project. “This socialist encounter should be of the genuine left, willing to fight against imperialism and capitalism,” he said.

During his speech, Chavez briefly outlined the experiences of previous “internationals,” including the First International founded in 1864 by Karl Marx; the Second International founded in 1889, which collapsed in 1916 as various left parties and trade unions sided with their respective capitalist classes in the inter-imperialist conflict of the First World War; the Third International founded by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, which Chavez said “degenerated” under Stalinism and “betrayed” struggles for socialism around the world; and the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938, which suffered numerous splits and no longer exists, although some small groups claim to represent its political continuity.

Chavez said that a new international would have to function “without impositions” and would have to respect diversity.

Allo Presidente

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in San Carlos.

Representatives from a number of major parties in Latin America voiced their support for the proposal, including the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) of Bolivia, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) of Nicaragua, and Alianza Pais of Ecuador.

Smaller parties from Latin America and around the world also indicated their support for the idea, including the Proposal for an Alternative Society (PAS) of Chile, New Nation Alternative (ANN) of Guatemala, and Australia’s Socialist Alliance, among others.

Sandinista leader Miguel D´Escoto said, “Capitalism has brought the human species to the precipice of extinction… we have to take control of our own destiny.”

“There is no time to lose,” D’Escoto added as he conveyed his support for the proposal of forming a fifth international. “We have to overcome the tendency of defeatism. Many times I have noted a tendency of defeatism amongst comrades of the left in relation to the tasks we face,” he continued.

Salvador Sánchez, from the FMLN, said “We are going to be important actors in the Fifth International. We cannot continue waiting – all the forces of the left. The aspiration of the peoples is to walk down a different path. We must not hesitate in forming the Fifth International. The people have pronounced themselves in favour of change and the parties of the left must be there with them.”

Other organisations, including Portugal’s Left Block, Germany’s Die Linke, and France’s Partido Gauche expressed interest in the proposal but said they would consult with their various parties. A representative of the Cuban Communist Party described the proposal as “excellent,” but as yet the party has made no formal statement.

Many communist parties, including those from Greece and Brazil, expressed strong opposition to the proposal. The Venezuelan Communist Party said it was willing to discuss the proposal but expressed strong reservations.

The Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) from Colombia expressed its willingness to work with other left parties, but said it would “reserve” its decision to participate in an international organisation of left parties.

Valter Pomar, a representative from the Workers Party of Brazil (PT), said its priority is the Sao Paolo Forum – a forum of various Latin American left, socialist, communist, centre-left, labour, social democratic and nationalist parties launched by the PT in 1990.

A resolution was passed at the conference to form a preparatory committee to convoke a global conference of left parties in Caracas in April 2010, to discuss the formation of a new international. The resolution also allowed for other parties that remain undecided to discuss the proposal and incorporate themselves at a later date.

Chavez emphasised the importance of being inclusive and said the April conference had to go far beyond the parties and organisations that participated in last week’s conference. In particular, he said it was an error that there were no revolutionary organisations from the United States present.

The conference of left parties also passed a resolution titled the Caracas Commitment, “to reaffirm our conviction to definitively build and win Socialism of the 21st Century,” in the face of “the generalized crisis of the global capitalist system.”

“One of the epicentres of the global capitalist crisis is the economic sphere. This highlights the limitations of unbridled free markets dominated by monopolies of private property,” the resolution stated.

Also incorporated was a proposed amendment by the Australian delegation which read, “In synthesis, the crisis of capitalism cannot be reduced to a simple financial crisis, it is a structural crisis of capital that combines the economic crisis, with an ecological crisis, a food crisis and an energy crisis, which together represent a mortal threat to humanity and nature. In the face of this crisis, the movements and parties of the left see the defence of nature and the construction of an ecologically sustainable society as a fundamental axis of our struggle for a better world.”

The Caracas Commitment expressed “solidarity with the peoples of the world who have suffered and are suffering from imperialist aggression, especially the more than 50 years of the genocidal blockade against Cuba… the massacre of the Palestinian people, the illegal occupation of part of the territory of the Western Sahara, and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, which today is expanding into Pakistan.”

The conference of left parties also denounced the decision of the Mexican government to shut down the state-owned electricity company and fire 45,000 workers, as an attempt to “intimidate” the workers and as an “offensive of imperialism,” to advance neoliberal privatisation in Central America.

In the framework of the Caracas Commitment, the left parties present agreed, among other things, to:

  • Organise a global week of mobilisation from December 12-17 in repudiation of the installation of U.S. military bases in Colombia, Panama and around the world.
  • Campaign for an international trial against George Bush for crimes against humanity, as the person principally responsible for the genocide against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Commemorate 100 years since the proposal by Clara Zetkin to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, through forums, mobilizations and other activities in their respective countries.
  • Organise global solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution in the face of permanent imperialist attacks.
  • Organise global solidarity with the people of Honduras who are resisting a U.S.-backed military coup, to campaign for the restoration of the democratically elected president of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya and to organise a global vigil on the day of the elections in Honduras, “with which they aim to legitimise the coup d´etat.”
  • Demand an “immediate and unconditional end to the criminal Yankee blockade” of Cuba and for the “immediate liberation” of the Cuban Five, referring to the five anti-terrorist activists imprisoned in the United States.
  • Accompany the Haitian people in their struggle for the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide “who was kidnapped and removed from his post as president of Haiti by North American imperialism.”
Advertisements

Posted in Pre-Issue #2 of Social Revolution! | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

We Must Demand Complete & Immediate Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Posted by sorev on 15/10/2009

The following was lifted from the Kasama Project and the original can be found here.

We Must Demand Complete & Immediate Withdrawal from Afghanistan

By Mike Ely

I think what is posed in Medea Benjamin’s interview is a rather simple and important question: Can U.S. imperialism and its troops play a positive role in some circumstances?

Given the history of the last century, how can we imagine U.S. forces as protectors of womens rights?

Given the history of the last century, how can we imagine U.S. forces as protectors of women's rights?

The U.S. invades the remote and impoverished Afghanistan in 2001, topples the fragile regime of Taliban theocrats (which never consolidated countrywide power in the civil war). And now it is argued that the U.S. invaders “can’t” leave in an “irresponsible” way because the survival of a number of people (including women’s activists) would be in danger and because their withdrawal would most likely mean a return of the Taliban.

Should we carefully evaluate U.S. aggressions on a case-by-case basis? Is this U.S. military base good, and that one bad? Is this U.S. bombing helpful, and that one excessive? Is this U.S. nuclear threat helpful, and that one unfair? Is this U.S. drone doing good work, and that one intruding dangerously? Is this U.S. occupation shielding and promoting positive forces — while that U.S. occupation cultivates more negative puppets? Do we support U.S. domination until someone better comes along (who we approve of) to take their place?

Or does the U.S. military (globally and everywhere) represent a coherent means of imposing and enforcing a particular global order on humanity generally — an order that is rooted in horrific oppression and exploitation (including the widespread commodification of women as both workers and sexual slaves, and the traditional domestic servitude of literally billions of women and girls)?

What we need is a clear uncompromising unapologetic position:

We must demand that U.S. imperialism leave Afghanistan immediately and unconditionally — without finding ways to prop up  residual collaborators and puppet forces, without continuing to “provide air cover” for continuing war crimes.

The Afghanistan people need to be left to resolve their political affairs (and develop their own very difficult struggle for liberation) without U.S. domination and violence.

And because this is apparently quite controversial (even on the left): We should deepen our own understanding that these armed forces cannot and will not help the people in any part of the world.

Are there other reactionary forces in the world? Taliban? Al Qaida? Saddam Hussein? Islamic theocrats in Iran? Somali warlords? French colonial troops? Genocidal Israeli settlers and commanders? Turkish military commandos? Russian death squads in Chechnia? Catholic priests and bishops doing their secret crimes against humanity? And so on. Of course.

There are many other reactionary forces in the world. Some of them are U.S. allies. Some of them have sharp contradictions with U.S. imperialism. Some of them flip back and forth.

But U.S. occupation of Afghanistan (or Iraq) is itself a means of strengthening the world’s most odious and oppressive force. And the impact of a successful pro-U.S. pacification of Afghanistan cannot just be measured in terms of how it impacts people or sections of the people in Afghanistan. A victory for the U.S. in Afghanistan or stabilization of pro-U.S. arrangements in Afghanistan will be a major negative influence on the dynamics of the world as a whole.

This is true, objectively. And pointing out this truth is especially important within the U.S. itself — where illusions about the U.S. role in the world are especially strong (even on the left). Far too many people delude themselves that there can be a “more democratic U.S. foreign policy” that “helps” people. No, we have a special responsibility to fight the criminal actions of “our” government — and to expose its nature.

Our goal is not to “more effectively” serve “U.S. national interests.”

We do not seek to “improve the U.S. image around the world.”

We are not worried that “the wrong policies will get even more people to oppose U.S. initiatives.”

We do not want to “preserve and promote the American way of life.”

We don’t want to figure out some “people’s foreign policy” or some way for the fucking Marines to “play a good role.”

We don’t want a “more accountable CIA.”

No. We want to bring down U.S. imperialism from without and from within.

Not only must we demand that the U.S. withdraw immediately and without delay from its many overt and covert wars — but we must put forward a larger vision that the dismantling of all the vicious U.S. armed instruments of power is in the historic interests of humanity. That means the systematic and unilateral destruction of its nuclear arsenals, the disbanding of its armed forces, the abolition of its CIA, the public revelation of its crimes, the dismantling of its global military bases, listening posts and secret torture prisons, the destruction of its schools for coups and torture like the SOA, the scuttling of its imperial fleet and more.)

We should proclaim this publicly — knowing full well that these are not demands that the U.S. government would ever agree to, but they are a much needed program that only the people can carry out through historic actions.

The U.S. government, its military and spy forces, are a central prop of global capitalism at this stage in world history. And any confusion about this, any daydreaming that “maybe they can do some good,” needs to be explored and engaged.

Let’s deal with particulars:

1) Politics and social life in Afghanistan are rather awful.

That country is not a coherent nation-state and never has been. It is scattered and fragmented because of the feudal and tribal-patriarchal character of its social system, and that backward social character is reinforced by the impoverished, remote and mountainous nature of the countryside. Afghanistan has, historically, has one of the most extreme and oppressive traditional treatment of women. It was even mentioned by Marco Polo as he passed through centuries ago, and predates the rise of Islam.

As a result, the Afghani countryside is not ruled by the governments in Kabul, and never have been. The forces that the U.S. media calls “warlords” are (in effect) the modern feudal and tribal lords that rule various patches of land — greatly corrupted and empowered by the repeated arming and financing by imperialist powers.

In short, Afghanistan needs a very radical revolutionary movement — and the existing social conditions (of poverty, male supremacy, feudal agriculture, etc.) are intolerable.

But liberation will not come from the victory of one or another imperialist power.

2) There is a long and sad history of attempting to “bring” changes to Afghanistan by riding on the coattails of some invader. Yes there are some women’s activists in a few urban areas who have emerged from the shadows and operated with some protection from U.S. imperialism. And there were (in the 1980s) similar forces who staked their hopes on the Soviet imperialist invasion. And yes, such forces fear the withdrawal of the U.S. and its allies. And yes some of them may be forced into exile if the u.s. leaves.

But the point to draw from this is that liberation in Afghanistan has to come from a process that is anti-imperialist, and that engages the masses of people in their own liberation.

The theory that “modernity” (including women’s equality) can come from a U.S. imperialist occupation is (to put it mildly) a false theory. U.S. occupation will (at best) bring the “equality” of the Philippines sex trade and the Bangladeshi sweatshop.

And (in case anyone didn’t notice) the U.S. has been straining to cement alliances with “sections of the warlords and Taliban” (which means gathering an indigenous feudal base of support for a reliable puppet government). And (in case anyone didn’t notice) that has included the passage of a theocratic constitution and laws justifying marital rape, and more in areas of U.S. control. It is the U.S. (and its CIA) that empowered, armed, financed and unleashed the ugly theocratic forces in Afghanistan during the 1980s. And it is extremely naive (and tortured) to imagine scenarios where (somehow, somehow) a continued U.S. presence (or a slowed timetable of U.S. withdrawal) will somehow protect or help women.

3) There is a long history of sincere confusion whenever it is hard to find “good guys” opposing U.S. imperialism. We need to speak about this openly, and engage it clearly.

If the opponents of the U.S. seem to be “ugly” (by the standards of people watching from the U.S.) there is a clear tendency (including on the left) to be soft on the U.S. intervention.

“Perhaps the U.S. can do some good in Somalia.”

“Perhaps the U.S. can help drive Serb death squads out of Kosovo.”

“Perhaps U.S. threats against Iran can create openings for more progressive politics.”

“Perhaps delaying U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will give progressive forces time to regroup and create an alternative to both Karzai and the Taliban.”

No.

Medea said:

“…we also heard a lot of people say they didn’t want more troops to be sent in and they wanted the U.S. to have a responsible exit strategy that included the training of Afghan troops, included being part of promoting a real reconciliation process and included economic development; that the United States shouldn’t be allowed to just walk away from the problem. So that’s really our position.”

No. We must DEMAND that the U.S. “walk away” — and we must be clear that the U.S. imperialism is a huge part of “the problem” and is NOT part of the solution. What kind of troops is the U.S. training? What kind of “reconciliation” process would the imperialists “promote”?

At the risk of being harsh, such views are not new.

In the time of Kipling and the global British empire, it was called “White Man’s Burden.” In the late 19th century, socialists (of a particularly patriotic kind) imagined that French or British or German or American colonialism would bring “progress” to the “savages” of the Third World — and that the arrival of capitalism would be an “advance” over their existing state. And the logic of this led straight into supporting “their” particular imperialists into the horrific trenches of World War 1.

4) People say “well if the U.S. doesn’t confront these awful forces, who will?” (Or “if the U.S. doesn’t promote “real reconciliation” who will?”)

And the answer is that in the absence of revolutionary forces there will often be NO ONE confronting awful forces or solving the horrific suffering of the people. There will not BE “reconciliation” in Afghanistan — and if one happened under U.S. promotion it would be to establish a terrible new order.

Here is a difficult truth of our time: Many many desperate problems of the people will not be solved under capitalism…. that is (in fact) one of the reasons that radical change is urgently needed.

5) Even if there are no visible “good guys” fighting the U.S. in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever…. it is still wrong (very wrong) to support continued U.S. occupation.

If we mean by “good guys” (a term sarcastically lifted from the know-nothing vocab of rightwing idiots and cops) progressive, secular, radical forces. How do such progressive forces emerge? It is through struggle against oppression. They will not emerge as a byproduct of joining the U.S. sphere of influence. They will not emerge as junior partners of this vicious occupier. They certainly will not gain popular support by acting as collaborators with the American and European invaders.

New radical secular pro-socialist forces can only arise, gain popular traction, and make strategic progress only through consistent opposition to U.S. imperialism, and cannot conceivably emerge under its wing and protection. And we can’t be confused by the pleas of political forces who (however critically or uneasily) serve in the puppet government of Afghanistan or work for NGO’s in the penumbra of U.S. occupation. These forces (however liberal and forward-looking they may seem in comparison to the masses of pepole) are pursuing their own strategies, class interests and not-so-radical view of what progress means.

It strikes me as problematic to wish for a prolonged U.S. presences in order to buy time for people who have rushed to conduct their politics in the protective shadow of U.S. forces. Many are (frankly) collaborators who are helping to prettify the U.S. occupation inside Afghanistan and out, and they will be judged by the people (as well as pursued by the Taliban, which is not the same thing).

6) It is a very tortured argument to say “I am against the war, I was against its initiation, I am against its further escalation by adding new troops, I am against U.S. troops engaging or bombing in the villages in the future, BUT I am now for a slow responsible timetable of U.S. withdrawal.”

Let’s be clear: Obama’s possible plan for Afghanistan may (precisely) be to oppose any major new escalation, and to focus on commando actions aimed at specific “targets.”

In other words, the tortured proposal (raised by Media Benjamin[sic]) may oppose Bush’s policies or General McChrystal’s proposals — but it is exactly support for one of Obama’s most likely guises of continuing an increasingly unpopular and militarily-frustrated episode of U.S. aggression.

We need an uncompromising antiwar movement. And we need to build a conscious and determined new revolutionary movement.

Posted in Exclusive Web Content | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »