Debate: On the discussion concerning co-operation amongst revolutionaries in the Middle East
imperialism / war |
Thursday September 07, 2006 16:05 by Devrim Valerian - Enternasyonalist Komünist Sol solkomunist at yahoo dot com
Open letter from 'Internationalist Communist Left ' to Anarkismo
An open letter from Enternasyonalist Komünist Sol on the discussions on Anarkismo around Anarchism and national liberation in relation to the war in Lebanon.
In the conclusion of his article titled ‘Eyewitness Lebanon: In the land of the Blind’, Michael Schmidt argues for unity between different groups in the Middle East: “The condition of anarchist communism in Lebanon is nevertheless very weak, notably ACT’s failure to establish relations with the Israeli/Palestinian organisation Anarchists Against The Wall (AATW) - the “apartheid” wall that divides their territory - and its lack of contact with anarchists and left communists in countries such as Egypt, Turkey (Anarchist Communist Initiative), Iran and Iraq in particular (the councillist Workers’ Communist Parties in the latter two) that would allow a far clearer regional anarchist communist analysis and jointly co-ordinated approach to the problems of the Middle East to be developed.”
It is all very well to talk of things like a ‘jointly co-ordinated response’, but it is important to consider what it is that is to be united around. For the left communists the most important political stance is that for internationalism, and against capitalist war. In fact we would say that this position is the crucial dividing line between revolutionary, and anti-working class organisations. Anarchism does not take up a clear position on this issue. Wayne Price writes: “Also, he identifies me correctly as "Wayne Price of the North-Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC)." However, it should be said that these are MY views and I am not speaking (writing) for NEFAC, which does not have a consensus on these questions.”
There are some Anarchists who take a very clear position on the rejection of national liberation struggles. For example the Anarchist Federation in Britain writes in its ‘Aims and Principles’ that: “We are opposed to the ideology of national liberation movements which claims that there is some common interest between native bosses and the working class in face of foreign domination. We do support working class struggles against racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism. We oppose the creation of any new ruling class. We reject all forms of nationalism, as this only serves to redefine divisions in the international working class. The working class has no country and national boundaries must be eliminated. We seek to build an anarchist international to work with other libertarian revolutionaries throughout the world.” On the other hand there are those Anarchists who support national liberation movements, A good example of this is the argument that Lucien Van der Walt, of the Zabalaza Anarcho-Communist Federation of South Africa puts forward when he says “Anarchists...may fight alongside nationalists for limited reforms and victories against imperialism, but we fight against the statism and capitalism of the nationalists....This requires active participation in national liberation struggles but political independence from the nationalists. National liberation must be differentiated from nationalism, which is the class program of the bourgeoisie: we are against imperialism, but also, against nationalism.”
There is a world of difference between these two approaches, and NEFAC as Wayne Prices writes ‘does not have a consensus on these questions.’
Well this may seem to be a possible approach to have for those sitting in America, but for comrades struggling across the Middle East (and not only in the Middle East, comrades working in places such as Northern Ireland face very similar situations) the position is very different. It is of the utmost importance to take a clear position on these issues.
How for example can comrades operating in this country, Turkey, not have a clear position on the Kurdish national question? When Wayne writes that NEFAC ‘does not have a consensus on these questions.’, we are amazed. This is not some obscure political question, but it is a class line between the proletariat, and the bourgeoisie. If unity, and a ‘jointly co-ordinated response’ is to be based around anything then surely it must be around political perspectives. What is the unity of NEFAC built around? If it doesn’t have unity around basic class positions, then it would seem to me that the unity is based around little more than the fact that the members all call themselves anarchists. This seems to me to be a little pathetic.
Wayne Price writes in response to the Enternasyonalist Komünist Sol (EKS, Internationalist Communist Left, the left communists in Turkey): “He writes that, contrary to my views, "a political group can not be both pro-national liberation and pro-working class." Well, I ask him, can a political group be pro-women's liberation and pro-working class? pro-African-American liberation and pro-working class? pro-Gay liberation and pro-working class? Is it possible to be pro-working class and also to support nonclass resistances? (1) If not, if working class issues are all that matters, then you are both being sectarian and capitulating to the sexism, racism, and NATIONALISM of the dominant society, of the oppressors! (2) If yes, if you do support nonclass struggles (while criticizing their bourgeois leaderships) then why not support the Kurds struggle for freedom? In that case, you are being inconsistent.”
So Wayne advocates support for Kurdish nationalism in Turkey, of course ‘while criticizing their bourgeois leaderships’. Let us be very clear what this involves before we continue. It involves taking a side (albeit the weaker one) in a capitalist war that has left 36,000 dead. It involves supporting a party, the PKK, which has in the past ran campaigns of shooting school teachers. It involves supporting the general tendency towards war, and increased ethnic/sectarian conflict across the whole of the region.
Today the entire Middle East, it is important that revolutionaries address these issues, and not as NEFAC do merely fail to find consensus. The Internationalist Communist Left is very clear on the issues facing the working class: “Faced with this situation what can workers in this country do? All of the political parties in Turkey from the MHP [Turkish far right nationalist party] to the far left seem to advocate support for Hizbullah. The first thing that the left should seriously consider is why they are lining up with the far right. The reason for this is that all of them have an nationalist agenda. It maybe hidden behind high sounding phrases such as ‘anti-imperialism’, and even ‘internationalism’, but in the end it is merely supporting one country fighting against another. There is a lot of talk about the Lebanese, and Palestinian people, but very little about the working class, and this is from people that call themselves socialists. We say that workers in both Lebanon, and Israel have no interest in dying on behalf of ‘their’ states, no interests in fighting beneath a ‘their’ national flags whatever ideology this slaughter is supported by.
The entire region is being pulled closer, and closer to war. Iraq is descending into civil war, and sectarian massacres. Lebanon is still picking up the bodies from the wreckage of a murderous war, which could start again at any moment. The horror in the West Bank continues in the same way as it has for nearly the last fifty years. And at the very moment the Turkish army is shelling villages in Northern Iraq.
The only answer to this deepening cycle of barbarism lies with the working class. A working class that is capable of fighting for its own interests is not one that will be led into war. The struggle against war starts at work. Israel workers have no interest in killing Lebanese, and Palestinian workers, and vice versa. Turkish workers have no interest in killing Turkish workers, and vice versa. We condemn the Israeli state, Hizbullah, the PLO, the Turkish state and the PKK equally.
The TKP’s Yurtsever Cephe [Patriotic Front-a Turkish Communist Party front] says ‘this country is ours’. This country does not belong to the the workers in this country, but to the Sabancis, and the Koçes [The two biggest businessmen in Turkey]. The left is always complaining about imperialism, and calling for an ‘independent Turkey’. We think that 83 years after Mustafa Kemal’s [First Turkish President and founder of the modern T?rkish state] ‘revolution’ it should be obvious that ‘national independence’ is an impossibility. All countries are tied together in the imperialist system. Only workers’ struggle for their own interests provides an answer.”
If people want to know what we mean when we talk about workers struggle the answer is very clear. We are talking about the emerging struggle of the public sector workers in Turkey. We are talking about the massive struggles by public sector workers currently taking place in Palestine, which a HAMAS spokesman said “no relation to national interests”.
When workers are struggling on their own terrain there is never any ‘relation to national interests’. Of course, HAMAS called upon teachers to scab, and to direct their anger against Israel. We are used to the Islamicists, and the ilk, calling on the working class to defend the national interest. What shocks us is when anarchists do it. And although I am sure that all of NEFAC would support this strike, I would just like to remind people of what I am talking about.
Wayne Price expresses it well: “And anarchists should support the right of nations to self-determination, which is NOT the same as supporting nationalism. National self-determination is the ability of the people of a nation to decide for themselves whether they want to be independent of another nation…But if national self-determination means the right to make a choice, then nationalism as such is a particular choice, the choice of a national state. It is possible to support the right of a people to make a choice without agreeing with the immediate choice they make.”
What is all this talk about the rights, and of people? Society is divided into classes. What is the ‘right of nations to self-determination’ except the right of the state, and the bourgeoisie to exploit the working class. It is not 1789 anymore. This is Trotskyism, or maybe just plain old liberalism dressed up in anarchist clothes.
When Wayne Price asks: “Well, I ask him, can a political group be pro-women's liberation and pro-working class? pro-African-American liberation and pro-working class? pro-Gay liberation and pro-working class? Is it possible to be pro-working class and also to support nonclass resistances?”, we treat his questions with the same disdain as we do his support for national liberation. Yes, we oppose racism, and homophobia, but we recognise that only the working class has the power to change society, and to bring about communism.
To conclude the Internationalist Communist Left supports any moves a ‘jointly co-ordinated approach’ in the Middle East, but it must be based around principles, and the opposition to all nationalism is possibly the most important of these. To quote from our basic positions:
"3)The rejection of all forms of nationalism, and the defence of internationalism
Nationalism is a basic slogan used by the bourgeoisie to organize the working class in capitalist interests. The claim that independent from their class position, every member of a nation is on the same boat only serves to destroy the revolutionary potential of the working class by joining two antagonistic classes on an ideological level. Starting form this premise, it comes to say that every person has to work for ‘his or her’ own nation, own capitalist class, and the struggle for their own class interests would result in the sinking of the boat. Unlike the whole lefts claim’s in the case of both Turkish and Kurdish nationalisms, they have no different characteristics.
The basic reality denied by people who talk about national liberation struggles against imperialism is that the characteristic of the struggle of the working class liberation is above nations. The liberation of the working class can only be achieved by raising the flag of class struggle against every kind of national liberation struggle, demagogy, and imperialist war. Today people who talk about a ‘national front’ against imperialists, and national independence are in a race with liberals, who they think that they oppose, to deny class contradictions. Kurdish nationalism, the so called opponent of Turkish nationalism, which it also feeds upon, realizes the complete separation of the working class by performing the same role as Turkish nationalism for the workers in its own region.”
We want to develop ‘jointly co-ordinated approach’ and joint work with all groups whether they call themselves anarchist, Marxist, or communist, that stand by internationalism, and the positions of the working class. We reject the idea of any idea of a dialogue with those who act as cheerleaders, and recruiting sergeants in capitalist wars.
For Enternasyonalist Komünist Sol