Social Revolution Party

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

Posts Tagged ‘yankee imperialism’

Left With Hope From Pakistan

Posted by sorev on 05/12/2009

Left with Hope
By Umer A. Chaudhry
January 19, 2009

More than 125 years after his death and 150 years after he wrote his most famous piece of work, Karl Marx seems to have managed his return from Highgate Cemetery of London. His specter is no longer haunting merely Europe, rather it has expanded its reach to every corner of the world. All this when only a few years back it was declared and uncritically accepted that there can be no alternative to new-liberal capitalism, history was stated to have ended, and even the human capacity to observe and understand the world was questioned based on, amongst other things, the limitations of language. On the other hand, the world also saw, with the alleged ‘death of Communism,’ a sharp revival of the politics and militancy in the name of religion. Set against this backdrop, even the modest re-emergence of Karl Marx in the political and social discourse is highly remarkable. After all, the modern capitalist class structure, upon whose criticism Marxism proudly stands, did not collapse along with the Berlin Wall.

The return of Marxist discourse is not unaccompanied by a noticeable global upsurge in the political presence of the Left. The victory of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) in the Himalayas early in 2008 gave a major boost to the Leftist political activists around the world. The history and strategy of the Nepali Maoists were critically discussed and appreciated with reference to all accessible records and statements of the Party via various Internet forums and meetings around the globe. The out-pouring of Chinese students in opposition to Free-Tibet protests in many parts of the world just before the Beijing Olympics compelled many to have their first look at the history of China and the Chinese revolution. The mounting strength of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales added by their increasing confrontations with U.S. Imperialism in Latin America became another source of inspiration for the world’s Left. The communist parties in India entered into a major struggle with the Congress Party, conducting mass demonstrations against the Indo-U.S. nuclear deals. Even in Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has maintained itself as the country’s second largest party and its largest opposition party. All in all, the global recovery of the Left, though not at a very grand scale, is apparent to every perceptive eye.

In Pakistan, the Left has also made a modest yet a noteworthy reappearance. It was mostly due to the movement against the unconstitutional and illegal imposition of emergency that the Left has been able to gain visibility at a larger scale. Many journalists expressed their surprise at activists robustly raising the traditional slogans of the Left during major rallies of the lawyers’ movement. Many lawyers, who had any past association with the Left, were instantly attracted towards the sight of the red flag and the octagonal Mao caps. Young students, out of curiosity, inquired about the new crimson element on the streets and got to know about the strong tradition of resistance and struggle that Left carries forward. They were even more astonished to know that Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, whose poetry also returned and was received with great appreciation, were also leading figures of the Left in their times.

Many people, however, are still not clear regarding why the Left engaged with the lawyers’ movement in the first place. It was not a knee-jerk reaction and obviously not an ignorance of the fact that the lawyers’ movement hosts a whole lot of forces, including the staunch right-wing elements of mainstream political parties- traditional foes of the Left. On the other hand, the Left participated in the lawyers’ movement to connect it with other anti-dictatorship movements that occurred in the past eight years, in order to help in building a larger movement for democracy, secularism, social justice, and rule of law – something running contrary to the goals of the religious right-wing. The Left made attempts within its capacity to build a movement that could address the basic question of the Pakistani State and society, and efforts were made to invite groups like Anjumen-e-Mazareen Punjab (AMP), Railway Workers’ Union (RWU), and the striking PTCL workers to the lawyers’ processions. However, it can be a criticism of the Left at the lawyers’ movement that it did not build any bridges with mass working class organizations, as was done during the anti-Ayub movement of the 60’s, though heavy focus was laid on traders’ organizations. The Left may not have succeeded in giving a more progressive and inclusive shape to the lawyers’ movement, despite all out efforts to do so. Notwithstanding, the Left stood staunch as to its goal and, at the very least, floated the right idea.

Nevertheless, a degree of confusion did exist during the course of the lawyers’ movement when many parties of the Left -including Labor Party of Pakistan (LPP) and National Workers’ Party (NWP)- decided to join the All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) and boycotted the elections early in 2008. One of the parties of the Left that did not join the APDM, a noteworthy exception, was the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP), which held that the Left must unite itself as a secular-democratic force in efforts to distinguish itself as a progressive force in the democratic movement, refraining from partaking in an alliance that has known reactionary right-wingers as its leading faces. The APDM-Left, conversely, either argued that the APDM was not dominated by the right wing, or that the alliance helped them in expanding the scope of their political activity. Be that as it may, the Left managed to make unified calls for the struggle against the Army dictatorship and its political cronies during the vital days of the February elections; only to have been responded by threats by elements of the State as a witness to their efficacy.

Another debate that was waged with passion in the circles of the Left, which are accessible to intellectuals and students through Internet forums, was the position regarding the conflict in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The Left that mingled with APDM called for an immediate stoppage of the military operation for the reasons that it targeted civilians, lacked efficiency due to double-dealings of the ISI and was conducted under the directions of the U.S. Imperialism. The CMKP, finding itself alone here as well, took a different stance. Vehemently opposing the civilian casualties, the double-dealings of the ISI, and the U.S. drone attacks, the CMKP argued that history and circumstances have led Pakistan to such a stage where extremism cannot be rooted out through peaceful dialogues and negotiations. Such means, it is believed, have a negative outcome as they allow the militants to get back on the offensive. Hence, it is essential to use force to deal with the threat of religious fanaticism. There are many other arguments, with varying degrees of sophistication, made for or against the afore-mentioned positions; what was most awe-inspiring was the level of thoroughness of some of the debates.

The aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks has appeared as a great challenge for Pakistan’s Leftists. To understand the predicament faced by them, it must be understood that the Left has always directed its efforts against the Military-Mullah alliance: the elements of quintessential mainstream politics in Pakistan. These two institutions have always stood in the path of even the smallest transition of our country towards democracy- both feed on jingoism and excessively anti-Indian hate-mongering, in order to conceal their retrogressive and narrow political stance.

The distressing tragedy of Mumbai was followed by astute chauvinist nationalism, employing the electronic and print media to further its cause. The image of retrogressive forces is being resurrected, in a planned manner, and zealous calls of “unity” are being given. This is responded to with indifference and total underestimation of the unjust and negative politics of the Army and religious fundamentalists. Television channels are opened for people like Hameed Gul to beat their jingoistic drums in the name of religion and false patriotism. The Left, in these circumstances, is left with no option but to end its year by placing a struggle on the cards against the politics of hate-mongering and jingoism. In this, so far with some formal engagement, the Left appears to stand united.

All in all, the politics of the Left has generated great interest fresh circles. The youth and the oppressed, thoroughly disgusted with military dictatorship, religious extremism and the mainstream parties of Pakistan, are eagerly seeking a new alternative on the political scenario. The Left appears as a major hope. The Left must maintain clarity with regards to its political position while becoming as accessible as possible towards those who are willing to struggle for the solution that guarantees democracy, progress, and social justice. The Left must stand steadfastly with its commitment towards peoples’ democracy, secularism, land-reforms, independence from Imperialism, equal rights and opportunities for women, minorities, oppressed nations, and most notably, the emancipation of the workers and peasants.

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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.

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