Joint statement, 12.01.2017
Socialist Fight – Britain
Workers Socialist League – USA
Tendência Militante Bolchevique – Argentina
Communist Revolutionary Action – Greece
Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores – Brazil
CEDS – Centro de Estudos e Debates Socialistas – Brazil
Ady Mutero, Revolutionary Internationalist League – Zimbabwe
Mohammad Basir Ul Haq Sinha, President, Inter Press Network, Dhaka – Bangladesh
Akhar Bandyopadhyay, Bhagat Singh’s Socialist India (Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/nbshsra/)
Frank Fitzmaurice, Liverpool – Britain
1. The final liberation of Aleppo in mid-December 2016 is a defeat of the jihadist militias sponsored by the USA and its allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Libya, to name the most prominent. A victory for imperialism on Aleppo here would have dealt an enormous blow to the Syrian and Middle East working class.
2. The defeat of US-dominated world imperialism based in Wall Street’s great finance houses and their allied transnational corporations and the subordinate imperialisms in Europe and Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. is a victory for the world working class and all oppressed peoples of the planet. Of course, it is not a socialist revolutionary victory but it does strengthen the struggle of the working class of Syria against imperialism and therefore ultimately against its own capitalist ruling class.
3. We reaffirm with Marx and Engels (at least since the “Irish Turn” in 1869, spelled out in Marx’s letter to Ludwig Kugelmann), with Lenin, the Bolsheviks and Trotsky the vital importance of the distinction between oppressed and oppressor nations (as Lenin fought for so heroically in his last struggle on his deathbed. As he wrote in December 1922, “Exemplary punishment must be inflicted on Comrade Ordzhonikidze. The political responsibility for all this truly Great Russian nationalist campaign must, of course, be laid on Stalin and Dzerzhinsky [the head of the Cheka]. Unless Great Russian chauvinism was fought to the death, the party’s support for anti-imperialist national liberation movements would be completely hypocritical: we ourselves lapse … into imperialist attitudes towards oppressed nationalities, thus undermining all our principled sincerity, all our principled defence of the struggle against imperialism and, between Imperialism and semi-colonial world.”)
4. We absolutely reject the proposition that either China or Russia are imperialist powers in the Marxist sense as developed by Lenin in his 1916 work Imperialism, the highest stage of Capitalism and defended by all serious Marxists since then.
5. Therefore, we absolutely reject the proposition that the conflict in Syria and the whole of the Middle East and globally is a conflict between two equal and opposite imperialisms, US-dominated Western imperialism and China-Russia-dominated Eastern imperialism. Some Trotskyist organizations claim that the USSR was a country of state capitalism from before its fall in 1991. We kept on the line defined by Leon Trotsky to characterize the USSR as a degenerate workers’ state, and we did so until the beginning of the Yeltsin period. Today, Russia is a fully-fledged capitalist state, but care must be taken to characterize it as an imperialist country, because that means equating it with US and European imperialism, which plays an aggressive role throughout the world.In today’s world there is no real clash between imperialism. The apology being made about a return to the “cold war” represents a strategy of US imperialism to isolate Russia, as well as China, and ideologically strengthen its interests. Certain features of Russia should not be confused, such as the importance of its industrial economy, and its military arsenal, which remains powerful and even reinvigorated, as manifestations of an imperialist policy. Russia’s military intervention in Syria, which has put a stop to the US and NATO bombings against the Bashar Al Assad government and the Russian air strikes against ISIS and other armed groups in Syria, are military demonstrations of Russian nationalism, to preserve its position in the Middle East. A part of the Russian bourgeoisie is identified with this nationalism and the Putin Government’s international politics, which expresses its class interests. Gazprom is the greatest example of this association. Mainly held by state capital, it is Russia’s largest company and the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, mainly to Europe. Russian nationalism, inherited from Tsarism and the degenerate Soviet state, is today resisting and opposing the advance of imperialism towards Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Syria, and in these specific situations, it plays a progressive role. Faced with these expansionist threats of NATO and imperialism, Russia must be defended unconditionally by all revolutionaries.
6. Since the end of WWII there is only one global hegemonic imperialist power, the USA, even though it is declining in influence and political and economic strength. All other imperialist powers are subordinate to that power, however unwillingly. The dollar is by far the most important world’s trading currency, the US stock markets dominate the globe in alliance with the City of London; the US military and navy is stronger than the next ten nations combined; with its NATO allies, closer to 20. And technologically in almost every sphere they are far ahead; its10 aircraft supercarriers (60% bigger than its nearest rival) and 9 nine landing helicopter dock carriers have as more deck space as the other aircraft carriers in the rest of the world combined. The US has upwards of 800 military bases throughout the globe. There is a presence of US military personnel in 156 countries and it has bases in 63 countries. The USA has built new bases in seven countries since September 11, 2001. Russia has eight bases, all except Tartus in Syria in former USSR countries. China has none at all.
7. This does not mean that global imperialism cannot be defeated. Since its defeat in Vietnam in 1975 it has largely relied on proxy forces to do its dirty work but such forces can turn on them; Osama Bin Laden was once a CIA asset and, even though the CIA celebrated the overthrow of Najibullah in Afghanistan in 1996, their creatures (Al Qaeda and ISIS) have turned against them there and in Libya, in Iraq, Syria and north Africa. Their defeat in Aleppo shows the limitations; ‘boots on the ground’ still suffers from the Vietnam syndrome. Public opposition prevented the bombing of Damascus in 2013 in fear of a repeat of the debacle of pushing million dollar helicopters overboard off Saigon in April 1975.
8. In giving unconditional but critical support to the Assad-led Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army and its allied Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian militias against imperialism we do not ‘mix the red with the blue’, we do not give any of these bourgeois nationalist forces and militias political support against their own working class or spread the illusion that they want ultimately to defeat imperialism.
9. The Syrian, Egyptian, Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Israeli, Palestinian and Libyan working classes must forge their own revolutionary programme based on anti-Zionist anti-imperialist principles, workers’ councils for a Socialist United States of the Middle East and North Africa
10. If we replace the name Chiang Kai-shek with those leaders of the current opponents of the machinations of US-dominated imperialism Trotsky’s 1937 quote on the Japanese invasion of China retains its entire political essence today: “We need have no illusions about Chiang Kai-shek, his party, or the whole ruling class of China, just as Marx and Engels had no illusions about the ruling classes of Ireland and Poland. Chiang Kai-shek is the executioner of the Chinese workers and peasants. But today he is forced, despite himself, to struggle against Japan for the remainder of the independence of China. Tomorrow he may again betray. It is possible. It is probable. It is even inevitable. But today he is struggling. Only cowards, scoundrels, or complete imbeciles can refuse to participate in that struggle.”
11. Bashar Hafez al-Assad has struggled for the remainder of the independence of Syria since 2011.Syria has broken the string of regime change offensives carried out by the US since the declaration of the 9/11 War on Terror by US President George W Bush in September 2011.
12. These were: Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, 2001), Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003), Libya (NATO-led coalition bombing of Libya, on the back of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, 2011), Mali etc., (Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS, 2012 -3) Somalia, (Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa, 2006-present) and Ukraine (2014). Despite the titles no freedom of any conceivable sort came to these lands.
13. In all of these revolutionary socialists were for the defeat of the imperialist forces and for the victory of their opponents, however reactionary or right wing the leadership of these opponents were. This is the revolutionary socialist anti-imperialist tradition of the revolutionary Comintern up to 1922 and Trotsky’s position on China in 1937 (above) on Abyssinia in 1936 and against the Italian invasion and in 1938 against a hypothetical British invasion of Brazil led by the neo-fascist Vargas government.
14. In a war between imperialist power blocs we are dual defeatist on both sides, always for the defeat of our own and every other imperialist nation. This is the only internationalist Marxist position that can be defended. We stand in the proud tradition of Karl Liebknecht ’s famous leaflet The Main Enemy Is at Home! (May 1915) on that vital principle – “The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy. This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries whose struggle is against their own imperialists”.
15. In all imperialist wars against semi-colonial countries, either by direct invasions and bombings or by use of proxy mercenary armies or both we are for the defeat of the imperialist power and the victory of the semi-colonial one. There are two important reasons for this stance (a) a defeat for imperialism in its attack against a semi-colonial nation increases the self-confidence of the working class of that nation in dealing with its own ruling class and (b) perhaps more importantly it deals a great blow against the chauvinists attitudes of the working class in the imperialist country that are constantly reinforced by the capitalist political establishment there and their agents within the labour movement, the trade union bureaucracy and the leaderships of allied social democratic/Labour parties. The Vietnam syndrome after the liberation of Saigon in 1975 was a very valuable asset for revolutionaries; Aleppo after its liberation in December 2016 is a similar inspirational asset.
16. The defeat of imperialism everywhere requires a new International that is both anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. To this aim we dedicate ourselves.
17. The complete liberation of Aleppo, all Syria, the Middle East and the planet will only occur through the socialist revolution against all capitalist governments.