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June 09, 2007

Comments

dlh

What about Christophobia? Any great leader will immediately recognize that hating on Christianity is sure to alienate Black and Latinos (not to mention Filipinos, Poles, and more) all of whom you need on board for a revolution.

JB

I do love the idea that challenging an idea or practice is based in an irrational fear (even if irrational fear is what you're challenging)!

I'm not afraid of Jesus, because he isn't coming back. I am afraid of the death grip religion has on many people, and the mealy-mouthed responses to accept fundamentalism in public life.

It's also not just Islam and Christianity we're talking about here, or at least it shouldn't be. the BJP Hindus have launched one of the bloodiest pogroms in history just a few years ago in Gujarat, India. Similar forces are operating in the Nepali Terrai (or plains region bordering India).

The outmoded point is crucial, as is applying a class analysis to the situation.

The socialist movement irrevocably split in the lead-up to the first world war. Some said we had to support our own national governments because they were "democratic" imperialist, others that Anglo-Franco hegemony had to be defeated, etc.

It was Lenin who said the proletariat must turn imperialist war into class war. It was Lenin who did it, and the world's first socialist country was born.

Not a simple matter of just taking the position! But Sunsara's point about Iran, and pretending Islamism is something it isn't is worth not just pondering, but adopting and spreading.

Are we about liberation?

The other thing really worth digging into are the breakthroughs that aren't accepting this whole BS "choice".

Venezuela and Cuba. Nepal. Our revolutonary comrades in the Philippines and Iran. Mexico.

The choice for the vast majority of humanity isn't neo-liberal imperialism or religious backwardness. But localized tyranny against imperial hegemony IS in the air – and if we don't challenge it and break through with another way – that prophecy will be self-fulfilling.

ShineThePath

I am always quite perplexed when people speak about not "alienating" ethnic christians...I don't know, I am an Atheist who was raised in a Spanish speaking household and no one is bothered by the fact I don't attend my Catholic Church any longer...in fact, I don't know if ANY of my Black, "Latino," Filipino, Irish, Polish, Italian friends go to church even on a regular basis...all declared Catholics and confirmed in it, but honestly they more or less right down to it couldn't give a fuck. We are still acting as if religion is important to these peoples' lives, things aren't as they use to be...yeah maybe they get a bit mad when you rip a picture of the Pope, but they don't listen to the "infallible" word of the Papacy.

On Sunsara Taylor's polemic...I don't know, I surely agree with the spirit of this but I think this theory of "outmoded" is inherently problematic. We of course shouldn't act as if Islamists are going to be a revolutionary order, that is lets not take the typical Marcyist WWP view and support them beccause of the "Global Conflict" or whatever, but on the otherside WE know little less to nothing about the actual Islamists and the different trends...as I have expressed before in the posts with Repeater...we declare this thing to be "outmoded" but why is particularly "outmoded?" Like any other political partisans Islamists have their own vision of creating society and their political project. Now you can say what you will about the political view of the Proletariat being more "advanced," but the question is how does one measure what is advanced to begin with? It can only begin with the politically partisan position of a Communist...and of course we think it is outmoded, because the very fact we are not Islamists and we are indeed Communists; however let us just put it this way...No one believes in what is False...that is, if people think something is incorrect, they tend not to believe in it. Islamists are growing because of the contradictions of THIS society, not because of Feudal relations, but because of the relations of Imperialist hegemony...Sunsara is wrong in belittling the fact that the Islamist movement could have only been possible with the intelligistia and professionals, and support from oppressed peoples...It could have only been the death of the Pan-Arabic movement or its selling out by people like Nasser that made Islamists an alternative. It isn't merely Iranian landlords at work here.

Should we battle "Islamophobia" thought? I think not. I think in a certain sense we should have what Zizek has called the "Radical Intolerance." What is the point of being a Communist if you "tolerate" Islamists anyway. The only thing I can see us doing is being honest, the Islamists are best are our "strange bed fellow" against US Imperialism, but beyond this...I hope secular Left-wing, and if possible MAOISTS, do sprout from the Middle East and smash Islamists' Ideologically, Spiritually, and perhaps even Physically (in cases of Iranian Theocracy). Maybe I am an Islamophobe; however then again I am indeed a Christophobe, Lamaophobe, and Capitalophobe...all things I am happily intolerant of.

Red Heretic

Great fucking article! This was really needed right now. MIM is just gonna have a fit! Hahahahaha!

ShineThePath

Yes...this is the line of the RCP=USA and Psuedo-Reds in Nepal? :)

The problem this isn't merely the line of the fringe one man central committee that calls itself MIM, but FRSO (Fight Back) and WWP if I am correct.

Still I think we have to fess up...the embodiment of "the broad masses of people who oppose the U.S. occupation and ambitions to control the whole region," as Sunsara doesn't recognize is a part of the Islamist movements...that is the "masses of people" in a Palestinian concentration camp sometimes support Hamas, Hezbollah, and not PFLP.

ZACK

I really think this article has a LOT to say and is very timely. Really good that this got put up for us to read.

I couldn't help but think whilst reading the "Socialist Worker" article that it was short and without any real grounding for criticism. It just didn't seem to really explain how supporting neither imperialism or it's "enemy" radical Islamists was apparently not possible. I guess they're the attitude that for all the Islamists' faults "at least they're fighting imperialism", which is a dangerous place to be in.

Think of what you can stoop to supporting if you carry this mindset? I find it ghastly that they seem to give only ONE sentence to the issue of where women stand in the world of Islam. I suppose for them to have their support they mustn't look at that rather ugly side of them.

G. Frohman

The following passage is from a recent (4/24/07) interview with Ganapathy, General Secretary, Communist Party Of India (Maoist).

I'm posting it not because I fundamentally agree with it, but because it's worth knowing the spectrum of opinion on the topic out there in the Maoist movement.


On the Islamic Upsurge:

Q: But globally the fight is now becoming pro-globalisation versus Islamic upsurge˜in this scheme of things how do you see a classless society?

A: Globalisation is a war on the people and on every value cherished by the people for centuries. Globalisation is the ideology of the market fundamentalists. The market fundamentalists are destroying everything a nation had possessed and preserved for centuries. They promote nothing but sheer greed and self-interest with the sole aim of global hegemony and the means to achieve it is a war on all fronts˜military, economic, political, cultural, psychological. And to achieve this "lofty" goal, they think even the destruction of the world is collateral damage.

There is a people's upsurge against globalization all over the world and Islamic upsurge is an integral part of the worldwide people's upsurge against imperialism, imperialist globalization and war.

A classless society-Communism˜is a conscious human project and has to be built through the transformation of human consciousness. And to achieve this, the first step is to destroy imperialism on a world scale and domestic reaction in every country. Islamic upsurge is a reaction to imperialist globalization and imperialist oppression and exploitation of the world people, and Muslim masses in particular. As long as imperialism exists, and as long as it bolsters up decadent reactionary comprador Islamic regimes in countries of Asia and Africa, it is impossible for the Muslim masses to come out of their fundamentalism. It is only after the destruction of imperialism on a world scale can the Islamic masses come out completely from their obscurantist ideology and values. This will pave the way for the establishment of a classless society.

Q: What is your opinion about Islamic upsurge?

A: The answer to this question is already contained in the above explanation. In essence, we see the Islamic upsurge as a progressive anti-imperialist force in the contemporary world. It is wrong to describe the struggle that is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian territory, Kashmir, Chechnya, and several other countries as a struggle by Islamic fundamentalists or as a "clash of civilizations" long back theorized by Samuel Huntington and which is being resurrected by all and sundry today. In essence all these are national liberation wars notwithstanding the role of Islamic fundamentalists too in these struggles. We oppose religious fundamentalism of every kind ideologically and politically as it obfuscates class distinctions and class struggle and keeps the masses under the yoke of class oppression. However, "Islamic fundamentalism", in my opinion, is an ally of the people in their fight against market fundamentalism promoted by the US, EU, Japan and other imperialists.

The upsurge is bound to raise the anti-imperialist democratic consciousness among the Muslim masses and bring them closer with all other secular, progressive and revolutionary forces. I see the Islamic upsurge as the beginning of the democratic awakening of the Muslim masses despite the domination of fundamentalist ideology and outlook in the Islamic movement at present. Our Party supports the Islamic upsurge and seeks a unity with all anti-imperialist forces.

Q: Nasarullah of Hizbollah has recently said that Left should come close to Islamists. In Indian context˜what do you feel?

A: I basically agree with what Nasarullah of Hizbollah has said. One must understand that Nasarullah is referring to the struggles for national liberation from imperialism in Islamic countries.

The need of the hour is to achieve the unity of all forces opposed to imperialism, particularly US imperialism, which is aggressively destroying every human value handed over to us by thousands of years of history and is oppressing every nation of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Left cannot even claim itself to be democratic if it does not initiate steps to unite with the forces in the Islamic movement which are fighting for national liberation from imperialism, particularly US imperialism. All the ongoing movements which are supposed to be led by Islamic forces in various countries as I had mentioned above, are national democratic movements in content. The strong religious language used by the leadership of these movements does not alter their national democratic essence and their anti-imperialist character.

Yes and No, Ganapathy

Ganapathy is certainly correct in saying that the content of many of these movements led by Islamists, such as Hezbollah, is a national-democratic movement being in essence that is taking a religious form.

What he gets wrong here, and I think this is a dangerous error for our movement, is when he says: "The upsurge is bound to raise the anti-imperialist democratic consciousness among the Muslim masses and bring them closer with all other secular, progressive and revolutionary forces. I see the Islamic upsurge as the beginning of the democratic awakening of the Muslim masses despite the domination of fundamentalist ideology and outlook in the Islamic movement at present. Our Party supports the Islamic upsurge and seeks a unity with all anti-imperialist forces."

I think this is fundamentally wrong. In fact, even though these movements may have a national democratic essence and character at this moment, we also have to keep in mind a) what these movements turn into if they win and b) the way the religious ideology of these movements obfuscates the masses' understanding of what they are doing.

A) These movements, to the extent they are Islamic fundamentalist (as opposed to some more moderate form of Islam), will install regimes no better than the oppressive, neocolonial government of Iran.

B) While the fundamental social forces moving the masses may be national democratic impulses, the religious ideology of the movement obfuscates the masses' own understanding of what they are doing. Thus, the masses do not necessarily move to a higher level progressive and/or anti-imperialist consciousness, but rather come to understand their struggle as a religious struggle, and their consciousness is not necessarily raised toward higher goals.

Christopher Day

While I think this is a fine article on its own merits, what really strikes me here is the willingness of the RCP to publicly polemicize with the ISO, and the basically respectful tone of the exchange.

Both of these organizations pride themslves in some sense on ignoring the rest of the ostensibly revolutionary left, tat is to say pretending they aren't competing with other communist or socialist groups. While this posture has the virtue of focusing groups on building their own bases rather than in getting into sectarian infighting, it contributes to the larger problem of an intellectually arid environment on the left.

We need much more of this sort of principled open political struggle over line between different groups conducted in a manner that doesn't foreclose cooperation in mass work.

The vast majority of radical and revolutionary-minded activists and organizers out there are not in either of these organizations and quite likely never will be. But we all benefit from vigorous debate of important questions like this.

Kudos to the ISO for initiating this debate and to the RCP for taking it up (and winning the first round IMHO). I hope its not a one-shot thing. It would be nice to read similarly non-antagonistic RCP responses to major political statements coming from WWP, FRSO (both of 'em, but you can't call them "the Mensheviks," okay?), CP, CoC, etc... Taking the lead in opening up these debates in a constructive way will rightly win whoever does it a lot of respect.

Christopher Day

A little off-topic, but since Shine The Path mentioned MIM, I thought they should at least get credit for this:

Christopher Day

Never mind. I attempted an embed.
Here's the link: https://youtube.com/watch?v=AxT_k3rjMOs

Its a video of Leonard Cohen's "The Partisan."

Red Heretic

Shine the Path said:

"the embodiment of "the broad masses of people who oppose the U.S. occupation and ambitions to control the whole region," as Sunsara doesn't recognize is a part of the Islamist movements...that is the "masses of people" in a Palestinian concentration camp sometimes support Hamas, Hezbollah, and not PFLP."


What matters is not whether the masses support reactionary poles such as "Hezbollah," but rather, what classes are the leading force in organizations such as Hezbollah, and what do those organizations really represent. Many of the oppressed masses living in the US actually support the US's war for empire. Does that mean we should support the USA?

ShineThePath

That is simply a false positing of what I have said. Lets begin with first, the statement that the "many of the oppressed masses in the USA" support the war for Empire...First this is just not true, even on the Bourgeois' admission...secondly even if they did, we as Communists are revolutionary defeatists. We are not Populists nor do we bow to Spontaneity. We have are political partisans in it to change the world. We don't support Imperialist aggressors and war despite where the consciousness of people are at. If such were true to begin with, we shouldn't blame the masses but struggle to break such a hold.

Now, unlike your analogy to the USA, the Islamist movements with support from people...like Hamas and Hezbollah have had that support because they fundamentally address the politics of the oppression of their base. That is, the masses support them because they are the very ones OPPRESSED, where after 9/11 people gave their support because of short sighted feelings of Nationalism...it was not in their interest.

That being sad, it is just merely untrue if you believe that it is the Big Bourgeoisie or just Feudalist Landlords who are the leadership of these organizations. As I have said before these Islamists don't merely have a base with the People, but are only possible in existence because of a great many of the intelligstia, who have been historically the leaders of many of these movements....the Iranian Revolution isn't where Islamist thought begeins.

Now does that mean we should support them? I haven't even said that...I merely said lets be honest on who they are and what our relationship to them should be. Whatever happen to "to rebel is jusitified," should Baathists or Islamic Jihad Army put down their guns against US Imperialists merely because they are not Communists? If that is the case...what will be elft of resistance in Iraq...it won't be there.

Red Heretic

ShineThePath said:

"Now, unlike your analogy to the USA, the Islamist movements with support from people...like Hamas and Hezbollah have had that support because they fundamentally address the politics of the oppression of their base."
s
So lynching women and homosexuals is addressing the oppression of the masses of people? Being agents of (and being created by) the CIA, is addressing the oppression of the masses of people?

It was not without reason that Lenin said that "a revolution is measured by the degree to which it liberates women." These fundamentalist forces are actually reactionary regimes which oppress the masses of people in the middle, and happen to occasionally come into contradiction with their imperialist masters.


ShineThePath said:

"should Baathists or Islamic Jihad Army put down their guns against US Imperialists merely because they are not Communists?"

They should be overthrown by genuine liberation forces in the Middle East, just like the USA. This include many other forces besides communists, such as national liberation forces, etc.

Red Heretic

oops.

"These fundamentalist forces are actually reactionary regimes which oppress the masses of people in the middle"

Should actually read:

"These fundamentalist forces are actually reactionary regimes which oppress the masses of people in the Middle East"

Not True

Ok, Hezbullah was not an agent of or created by the CIA. The fact that any particular force may have had interests in common with and accepted aid from the U.S. and its various agencies does not make them agents of the U.S. The real world is more complicated than that, and making comments like this about Hezbullah being a CIA agent organization is not going to get your other political arguments much respect.

Follow the logic of the logic... Lenin and the USSR, agents of the German imperialists. Clearly.

ShineThePath

Absolutely correct is the person under the moniker of "Not True." The treatment of Islamists as "puppets" who have just "come in conflict" with the US Imperialists is just an incredible lie, a lie popular amongst the left but is just not true...This line is not Maoist at all, it neglects the internal contradictions which produce such movements and ignores the complex relation the US ever had, if they indeed had, with Islamist organizations. Lenin rode on a German train, and there are people to this date convinced he was a conspirator of German Imperialism....

But Red Heretic, it merely shows your philistine attitude to this all...CIA might have given funding to a select few groups (very few), but you bunch them all together as the same.

Furthermore...I am not going to be baited in defending any of that shit you put above, that is defending Iranian Theocracy is not my thing, but is it not you who are not acknowledging the many Islamic Feminist struggles in the Middle East that reject the national-chauvinistic model of what "women's liberation" should look like? Why not also note the many Islamist, including Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, and Hezbollah's work with the class oppressed? The painting of Islamism as just a uniformed political movement is once again inadequate.

The fact is Islam defines the primary contradiction in the Middle East, against the Kemal type nation-states, secularized and in the pockets of Imperialists. Who have more or less oppressed, tortured, and murdered for the last century in that region...so when we speak of these things, lets remember the taste of Kemal, Nasser, Hussein, and others is fresh in peoples' minds.

And if "genuine" liberation forces do suddenly sprout from the ground, and materialize out of nothing...then I'll support them, but till then I give my support certainly to the many brave soldiers in Iraq who plant an IEDs on the route of an American Humvee.

ZACK

And what of the woman question, Not True?

ShineThePath

Aztecs sacraficed Human Beings...yet if I where to take a time machine back, I give my support to Aztecs over the "horrified" Spaniards.

Christopher Day

On the Aztec question, historian Friedrich Katz has an article, "Rural Uprisings in Preconquest and Colonial Mexico" (which appears in an anthology he edited, "Riot, Rebellion and Revolution: Rural Social Conflict in Mexico." Basically he argues that the small body of Spanish conquistadors who initially invaded Mexico tipped the balance of power between the Aztecs and their non-Aztec subjects, (who not only had to had over their surplus product to their overlords but also their children for mass ritual sacrifice) sparking a popular revolt against their rule. Certainly the Tlaxcalans who made common cause with the Spaniards and provided the vast majority of troops for the seige of Tenochitlan were waging a legitimate war of national liberation.


In retrospect we can see that there was a profound miscalculation involved here, but we must not ignore the legitimate popular opposition to the Aztec reign of terror that greased the wheels for Spanish domination. The Aztec regime was cruel beyond measure, even by the prevailing standards of the society it ruled. Those in possession of time machines would have to make a pretty complicated argument to the Tlaxcalans who seized the opportunity to rid themselves of the Aztec yoke.

Chuck Morse

Well put, Chris, and of course that’s one of the reasons why the Spaniards could crush the Aztec regime in a mere two years.

NT

It is totally bizarre that bringing up the truth about the roots of Hezbullah, etc. as something more organic than just being creations of the USA leads to me being asked a question that implies that I am rationalizing or legitimizing bad politics on the question of patriarchy on the part of those organizations.

It seems like cheap rhetorical trick rather than an approach of struggling for the truth.

Anyways, as long as we are on the subject, the stance of Hamas, Hezbullah and other Islamist forces is not monolithic, and shouldn't be treated as such. What can be said is that all these forces are interested in preserving patriarchy in some form (like every other non-communist or non-feminist political force in the world), and that we should oppose them and criticize them for that.

STP

Quick Response-

Yeah I am aware of all that Chris Day, my point is to answer that "non-sequitur" that the GOP candidates couldn't answer, knowing what I know now, I would have supported Aztec resistance to Spaniards, despite all their cruelity.

Just as now...with no strong leftist resistance presence in Iraq, I support the existing insurgency.

Also I just like to point out that there ARE Islamist feminists, though they don't hold command of organizations such as Hezbollah.

Red Heretic

Not True said:

"Ok, Hezbullah was not an agent of or created by the CIA."

First of all, I wasn't speaking SPECIFICALLY to Hezbollah, but rather speaking generally of the nature of the overwhelming majority of these forces.

Now, with that said, let's talk about Hezbollah's origins. It is well known that Hezbollah is a proxy army of Islamic Republic of Iran (and of course the Ayatollahs), which have spent the overwhelming majority of their history on great terms with the US imperialists and the CIA, and helped the US imperialists and the CIA fight Iraq. These are not anti-imperialist forces at all. Rather, they are agents of the bourgeoisie that have simply come into contradiction with the US imperialist bourgeoisie.

Shine the Path said:

"Lenin rode on a German train, and there are people to this date convinced he was a conspirator of German Imperialism...."

The difference is that groups like the Taliban the Republic of Iran actually did serve US imperialism. Whether or not conspiracy theorists want to make up bullshit about Lenin is a whole different story.

Shine the Path said:

"Furthermore...I am not going to be baited in defending any of that shit you put above, that is defending Iranian Theocracy is not my thing, but is it not you who are not acknowledging the many Islamic Feminist struggles in the Middle East that reject the national-chauvinistic model of what "women's liberation" should look like?"

This is ridiculous! So suddenly, because there are feminist women in the ranks of organizations which are overwhelmingly characterized by the lynching of women and homosexuals, we should support them? What you are doing here is taking obscure secondary lines which exist internally in these reactionary organizations, and blowing them out of proportion to be the overall line and nature of these organizations.

By this logic, everything just becomes a post-modernist narrative, because anyone can just pick and choose what secondary line they want to pick to be the overall line of that group. It doesn't matter if the marines are notorious for raping women, there's a few feminist women in the marines, so they're liberators of women!

However, there ARE some Islamic forces which actually ARE secular and actually do want the liberation of women. Suheir Hammad is a great example of this sort of line. However, this is NOT the line of Hezbollah, of the Republic of Iran, or the Taliban. When I speak about Islamic fundamentalist forces/"Jihad", I'm not talking about Suheir Hammad style lines, I'm talking about the lines of those types of organizations. Perhaps I should have been more clear about this.

Christopher Day

Look, I support the right of peoples to resist conquest and occupation, but the content of what they are defending or wish to install in its place MATTERS. One important reason it matters is that it effects the likely outcome. A movement or a culture that treats women like chattel is fighting with one hand tied behind its back and this has a lot to do with why the Mid East is still so dominated by gangsters in the pocket of U.S. imperialism. Ideas matter. When they motivate peoples actions they become a material force. And that is as true for bad ideas as for good.

I support the right of every Iraqi, no matter how backward in outlook, to fight the invaderss and drive them from their homes. But I won't pretend that their backward ideology (and this characterization certainly does not apply to all the resistance forces) isn't damaging both to the immediate prospects of the resistance itself and to the larger objective of human liberation.

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