Rules of the road

Kasama

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July 06, 2006

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the burningman

Well, Nick -- what do you make of the popular forces in Palestine and Lebanon that actually resist Israel?

Hamas is not the Islamic Brotherhood.

The masses of Palestinians voted for them because they haven't surrendered, unlike the formerly rejectionist forces allied with Fatah.

The PFLP, for example, continues to call for a united front of all anti-imperialist forces in the region.

Is this wrong?

Real question.

nick

on our ongoing themes wrangling with materialism and subjective idealism:

Let's differentiate between what Hamas is (objectively, in the real world, base on its program, ideology, goals, history, etc.) and why "the masses of palestinians voted for them."

If you don't differentiate between these things, you simply assert that you must adopt any illusions the masses may hold whenever they are expressed.

Hamas is reactionary (and not mildly reactionary, but very reactionary) -- and they also (on some levels) have represented some opposition to Israeli actions and occupation.

Their rise was tied to (build upon) the crushing of more secular and more progressive forces among palestinians.

Their rise was tied to the sharp promotion by Saudi Arabia (and in its own way Israel) -- again in opposition to more progressive and secular currents and programs.

The rise of Hamas was a step AWAY from the program of "a unified, secular, revolutionary Palestine" (i.e. where different religions and nationalities could find a place) -- and toward a Palestine modeled on the Wahabist nightmare of Saudi Arabia. (And what does this mean for Christian and secular Palestinians, and for women? And for the nature of the society that comes into being? Would such a Islamist Palestine be "liberation" even if it was formed? no.)

And it is important to assert: Israel would much RATHER have "opposition" concentrated in the hands of (and symbolized by) reactionary, anti-people fundamentalists (than more secular, and revolutionary forces).

The stand of revolutionaries is to uphold the struggle of the masses, but also to recognize and call out the class nature of forces that often rise to prominence (especially in the absense of strong revolutinary communist forces).

Also there is a sense I get from you post (which may not be accurate, of course) that somehow the discussion and politics are fundamentally framed by and limited to the currently existing forces. (I.e. "well if you think hamas sux, then what about PFLP....")

I don't think people are always required to find the "lesser evil" within the existing situation, and then support it.

They need in fact (and on the contrary) to make a materialist analysis -- of the forces and the situation.

There are many times (unfortunately!) when the main existing forces are deadly for the peoples struggle, when that needs to be said/recognized, and when something radically different needs to be wrenched out of the situation.

I do not know a great deal about the PFLP's politics these days, and their recent call. So don't want to comment on that in an ignorant way.
But I do know that the PFLP has been particularly and aggressively PRO-imperialist (when the imperialisms involved were the revisionist Soviet Union and East Germany).

In other words, let's not take things at "face value" but dig below. Let's not assume the people have to settle for some variation of "what exists" -- and therefore end up tailing, promoting, or prettifying forces that will not liberate the people.

LS

I find it unbelievable, in the current political situation in 2006, that Nick would characterize the PFLP as "pro-imperialist" because they may have gotten some support from East Germany and/or the USSR 2 or 3 decades ago. You admit you "do not know a great deal about the PFLP's politics these days"...and yet write off the largest revolutionary Marxist-Leninist force in Palestine based on 15+ year old information. Calling the PFLP pro-imperialist in 2006 renders the term meaningless.

nick

LS writes: I find it unbelievable... that Nick would characterize the PFLP as "pro-imperialist" because they may have gotten some support from East Germany and/or the USSR 2 or 3 decades ago."

First a matter of method.

LS rather crudely distorts my view. I didn't say they are NOW "pro-imperialist" BECAUSE of events twenty years ago.

Here is what I infact said that in the past:

"The PFLP has been particularly and aggressively PRO-imperialist (when the imperialisms involved were the revisionist Soviet Union and East Germany)."

I was (accurately) describing that they were "particularly and aggtressively PRO-imperialist."

And notice how LS writes that the issue is that "they may (!) have gotten some (!) support" from the USSR "and/or" East Germany.

Uh, no. First of all, there is no "may" about it. And the issue is not (some abstract moralistic one) about whether they "got support."

Here is the point: in the sixties, when there were huge revolutionary waves, PFLP was born, in hopes of mass revolutoinary struggle against the Zionist state. Then (in the 1970s) they were in the forefront, militantly, of hitching their movement to a MAJOR IMPEIRALIST BLOC -- becoming rather crude and craven proxy forces fighting for Soviet imperialism -- AND DEMANDING THAT OTHERS FALL IN LINE. And insisting that the Palestinian people see their hopes for liberation -- NOT from independent revolutionary struggle -- but from the victories of "one bloc over another."

It was not a matter of "getting support" (of which there was much, and which was "earned" by reactionary service to the soviet-imperialists). It was a matter of FIGHTING to wrench revolutionary currents INTO the reactonary embrace of this oppressive, imperialist superpower (that disguised itself as "socialist" so deceptively.)

People all over the world hated the soviet union -- they could see how oppressive, reactionary, and non-revolutonary Soviet society was -- and so forces like PFLP (and in other ways the Vietnamese and Cuban revisiionists) were INVALUABLE in giving this ugly oppresssive power a "left" cover -- with devastating and long-lasting results.

To again: I am not alleging that they are "pro-imperialist" (today!) BECAUSE they "may have" gotton "some support" from the revisionists. I am saying that PFLP was a frontline fighter for a sinister BETRAYAL that swept through many different once-revolutionary forces in the 1970s.

I urge people to find and read Avakian's article "The 60s-70s Shift" -- which really lays this international phenom bare (without, if I remember correctly, specifically discussin the PFLP) -- unfortunately this article is not online....yet! (and what does it say that so much of Avakian's work is not yet online?)

But anyway -- give LS's response a close reading, and compare it to what I actually said. And let's just fight for a method of argumentation that doesn't degenerate into distorting the views of others, and then knocking down strawmen.

Further, i don't think the PFLP "the largest revolutionary ML force" anywhere. They are a classic example of "armed revisionism" -- like FARC, or others -- who wed capitalist-politics with socialist rhetoric, and "armed struggle" as a pressure tactic (having long ago given up serious strategic approach of waging revolution.)

Now I don't mean to imply that the situation of the Palestinian people is simple, or that the "uncharted course" has been developed for their revolutionary process. And in fact many forces (including PFLP) "tried" for a while to devleop base areas and even rely on the masses (in various ways). But THOSE days ARE very long ago for PFLP, (though the organization still coasts on that rep.)

I realize that (here in NYC) and elsewhere, they have had a resurgence (through various mass organization etc.) But all the more reason to fearlessly, and honestly dig up their history, their line, their real politics.

PFLP announced that mass struggle was impossible and switched to propaganda stunts -- at the very moments when intefada was brewing and taking form.

As for the remark by LS: "Calling the PFLP pro-imperialist in 2006 renders the term meaningless."

Let me respond like this: I don't think the issue is "meaningless" but "warring meanings."

Specifically i think the expression "anti-imperialist" has been cheapened, devalued, and reduced to some vague motion of "anyone who opposes the U.S." -- as if there aren't any other imperialists (french, Russian, German, British, and fuck even Swedish!) Part of the lowered sights and demoralization some movements have gone through is to produce a bitter, angry hostility to anyone who "raises the bar" -- who actually approaches the struggle from the point of view of revolution (of reaching socialism, of breaking the state aparatus of the oppressors, of moving beyond that to communism.)

They are so proud of "just hanging on" -- of just "surviving" -- of "fighting the good fight" -- that they angrily reject any discussion that their ideoology and politics have long ago given up the communist revolution (to the extent that they ever had that approach).

So yeah, lets be clear: I think Castro is "pro-imperialist" not "anti-imperialist" -- and that has been his crime, his legacy, from the days right after the victory of the Cuban revolution.

Yeah, I think people like Hugo Chavez are locked into imperialist markets and oil economy -- in ways that make them wedded to imperialism (as a world system) EVEN IF (in some ways) they insist on bickering, and driving a harder bargain (and, frankly, striking a posture) vis a vis the U.S., and even if they develop a "oil economy welfare state" of a third world kind (again, temporarily, and deeply still locked into capitalist commodity relations and goals.)

"Anti-imperialist"? Let's not allow that word to become "meaningless." Imperialism is a world system, it is modern capitalism. It is a structure of commodity exchange and capital.

You wanna be anti-imperialist? Well then lets dig into what it means, what it takes, what it requires....

and lets dig into what roads and politics just lead the people back...back...back into the grip.

carol avigdor

Folks might be interested in checking out and downloading eight new talks by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA. These talks range from funny(The NBA:Marketing the Minstrel Show and Serving the Big Gangsters)to sharp and biting,it is guaranteed to be controversial and thought provoking. the site is : www.bobavakian.net These talks can be uploaded to iPods, Mp3 players and DVD players.Get the Word Out!

commentary

Just noticed that Avakian's long-promised Questions And Answers are finally online!

on both http://bobavakian.net

and here: http://rwor.org/avakian/8QandA/q-and-a.html

just started listening...

bartelby

Hi,
Just a quick clarification folks, like Althusser aflicted with schizophrenia may or may not be more prone to violence than the general population I am not certain. What I meant to say above was that folks afflicted with schizophrenia are more likely to have violence inflicted upon them than members of the general population and are more likely to be the target of violence than the person carrying out violent acts.
Just to clarify.

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