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The Stop the War Coalition: Is Trotskyism the New Conservatism?

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Socialist Unity carries a defence of the Stop the War Coalition against Phil’s The Anti-imperialism of FoolsIn Defence of the Stop the War Coalition.

I was going to begin with this, “Given the extent to which some on the left in the West continue to call for the toppling of Assad in Syria (a goal they share with Western governments), is Trotskyism the new neo-conservatism? ” by John Wight, also of Socialist Unity.

His message?

Like latter day John Browns such voices, wielding a copy of Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution in one hand and a one-way ticket to irrelevancy in the other, unleash verbal broadsides of calumny at any who dare question the intellectual and ideological idiocy they parade with the kind of gusto one associates with the infantile disorder of a type well known.

For such people ideological templates are all the rage, employed as a convenient opt-out of the obligation to come up with a concrete analysis of a concrete situation. Revolution is but a parlour game as they relive 1871, 1917 or 1968, the years bandied around like connoisseurs of champagne discussing a favorite vintage.

But I’ve had enough champagne in recent days..

I return to In Defence of the Stop the War Coalition.

Andy Newman begins

I was very disappointed to see a rather shoddy hatchet job against the Stop the War Coalition recently, not from the usual “decent” suspects, but from Phil Burton-Cartledge, on the usually pro-Corbyn and pro-left website, Left Futures.

Newman asserts that Phil’s criticism of ‘revolutionary defeatism’ – which are widely shared and have developed on this site – are invalid.

Phil summarised this aspect of Lenin’s politics , as they have been interpreted over the generations, to mean, “The role of revolutionaries everywhere was to turn inter-imperialist war into revolutionary civil war, to prevent soldiers from turning their bayonets outwards against other workers of other nationalities to the real enemy within – the owners of capital on whose behest the Great War was fought.”

Revolutionary defeatism was its name, overthrowing capitalism its game. And then, with mass parties of workers who’d traditionally been locked out of the political system, and were familiar with socialist and, in some cases, Marxist rhetoric, it actually made sense. Whether one disagrees with revolutionary socialist politics or not, it was a real possibility in several European countries as a wave of uprisings and revolts swept the continent as decayed and weakened empires collapsed.

Some of Andy Newman’s points carry weight,

The terminology of imperialism may sound oddly old fashioned, but Britain really did have a global Empire, built upon military conquest, plunder, rapine and murder. The powerhouse of the British economy was indeed built upon the crimes of Atlantic slavery, upon the transfer of vast amounts of capital to the UK from the colonies, and destroying indigenous economic capacity in order to create mass markets for British manufacturing.

This is not only of historical interest, because Britain’s current economic endowment as a capital rich, high skilled economy has arisen from that legacy. And the prestige and influence of the British state is still bound up with the post-colonial network of military, commercial and diplomatic alliances that arose with the rise of the USA as a global superpower. And yes, British foreign policy is still shaped by those interests, and habits; and there is still a mindset of entitlement, nowadays wrapped up in rather selective concerns about human rights, that has over recent years has led to some misplaced military interventions.

Newman mistakes the object of Phil’s critique.

It is not that ‘imperialism’ has not existed, nor that there is no form of imperial – in the sense both of capital exports, control of trade, cultural dominance, and the global reach of powers such as the US and the UK, and their military extensions – have evaporated. There is a rich and important debate on the forms of this, the “new imperialism” “empire” and the neo-liberal finance-led shaping of the process of “globalisation”.

The real issue here however is the politics of revolutionary defeatism.

Lenin and Revolutionary Defeatism.

The origins of this principle lie in Lenin – few can deny that. During the Great War  Lenin was thinking in terms of the growth of the revolutionary movement resulting from military defeat at the hands of the enemy government.

This, Hal Draper observed in The Myth of Revolutionary Defeatism (1953/4), was taken by Trotsky in 1939 to mean a general view that,

 Defeatism is the class policy of the proletariat, which even during a war sees the main enemy at home, within its particular imperialist country. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a policy which locates the main enemy outside one’s own country. The idea of defeatism signifies in reality the following: conducting an irreconcilable revolutionary struggle against one’s own bourgeoisie as the main enemy, without being deterred by the fact that this struggle may result in the defeat of one’s own government; given a revolutionary movement the defeat of one’s own government is a lesser evil. Lenin did not say nor did he wish to say anything else. There cannot even be talk of any other kind of ‘aid’ to defeat.

Draper was a supporter of the ‘third camp’ position: “The Marxist alternative is to reject the whole victory-or-defeat dilemma with its “lesser evil” trap, in the consistent Third Camp fashion which characterized Trotsky and Luxemburg’s approach.”

That is, to support the interests of the workers, the people, the masses, as they exist in particular conditions come first, and then we look at the policies and  states. Left-wing international politics are not some kind of chess board where we play off pieces (states) against one another. Workers and oppressed people’s interests are independent of state power. Plainly in some circumstances of armed conflict these needs could coincide with their governments’, bourgeois or not.  When Hitler invaded independent countries it would be wrong to assert that the armed forces of one’s country should be beaten. In fact democratic socialists backed the Allies against the Axis well before the USSR entered the war on the rational grounds that they were a threat to all.

Some Trotskyists in the 1930s and 1940s  pushed the contrary argument. They stated that only special classes of movements for defence against invasion should be supported (defending the Soviet Union). This would mean, in the Second World War, that nobody could fight Hitler except completely ‘independently’ of all bourgeois taint. Whether they wished for the crushing of their own bourgeois state by another was avoided by claiming that they would organise resistance to both.

One faction of French Trotskyists illustrated the absurdity of a full ‘defeatist’ position, when in 1944, the  paper, La Verité, published this front page article, welcomed the liberation by putting the Allied invaders, the French Resistance, the Nazi occupiers and the Vichy regime on the same plane: those fighting the Nazis are the exact equivalent of the SS and Vichy.

So much for history.

Phil makes the point that today ‘anti-imperialism’ entails a very specific kind of defeat-wishing. That to will the end of imperial hegemony is to set upon the means of finding an agency to do this, free from the corrupt politics of the “labour aristocracy” of the West, “…if that is your position, it follows that anything shutting down the funnelling of wealth from the south to the north would weaken capital’s capacity to absorb the demands of metropolitan workers.” “Therefore, to be consistent, the role of the revolutionary in the imperialist West is to work for the defeat of one’s own state, and that can be done by promoting the cause of its enemy.”

Anti-Imperialist alliances.

The Anti-imperialism of Fools asserts that this explains StWC, SWP, Counterfire backing – covert or overt – for all kinds of ‘anti-imperialist’ forces, up to and including the Baathists in Iraq, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian theocracy and not doubt Assad today. It would explain why in the  “multi-polar” world they consider the “designs and manoeuvres of rival states and enemies are benign or, at least, less harmful.” In the UK the StWC reached out not just to Muslims in protests against wars involving Islamic countries, but to Islamists, political Islam as allies in the fight to defeat imperialism and, domestically “against the State. Or, as Phil notes, crudely, its leaders whether (then) the SWP or (now) Counterfire, regard Muslims as a privileged area of recruitment (not with much success one has to say).

This is a pretty stark – bare-bones – account.

StWC leaders represent a number of different strands of thought. For many the main objection to specific  foreign interventions – as in Syria now –  is that they are dangerous adventures that cost human lives without bringing justice, or human rights in their wake. There are those who indeed have a visceral objection to ‘imperialism’ because they do not consider that universal human rights can be enforced (to echo Robespierre) by the bayonets of a democracy. This are honourable positions – largely because they happen to be right.

Andy Newman’s strongest point, which underscores the previous argument,  is the following,

given the fact that the actual lived experience of the military campaigns has been disastrous, and indeed the disastrous outcomes have been made all the worse by the ideologues in Washington who have not respected state sovereignty, and indeed seen the actual destruction of states as a beneficial outcomes – in both Libya and Iraq, and now in Syria.

But… inside the StWC  here are also those who are clearly not in favour of stopping any military campaign if it involves Russian help to Assad to defeat Daesh.

Like John Wight, also of Socialist Unity.

There are also those, in the SWP and Counterfire, who think that an Arab revolution is still out there, waiting to be ignited if the ‘West’ is defeated in the Middle East; a starting point not so different from those who think that the Arab Spring can be continued by armed Western support for Syrian democrats.

Apart from that, the vaguest of vague wishes, there is little evidence that the StWC supports the victory of just any of  imperialism’s ‘enemies’, Daesh to the fore. Overwhelmed, Assad’s defenders (Wight excepted) argue that he has to be backed faute de miuex.

The reason why Phil’s article stung – and we hope to have made our own contribution to the pain – is that he singles out the loss of a ‘moral compass’ in the StWC’s calls to ‘stop the war’ when they clearly have not the slightest idea of how this might come about, above all in Syria.

The depravity of their reaction to Charlie and the Casher-Hebdo massacres  still lingers: arguing in terms of a, if not legitimate but at least ‘understandable’, ‘blowback’ may be more muted now,

But they have indeed recycled equally distasteful ‘whirlwind’ arguments – suggesting that if people should be afraid of more Paris massacres. Posing as messengers of Peace against the harbingers of war, they want us safe at Home.

The Syrian civil war has meant over 200,000 deaths and millions of refugees. The Assad Baathist state  stands accused of mass murder and systemic torture. Daesh has created a genocidal Islamic regime with ambitions to wider totalitarian power.

Other Islamists with totalitarian ambitions are rife. Many are backed by the Saudi-brokered “anti-terrorist” alliance.

Democrats, principally the Kurdish led forces, fighting with rare courage, are attacked by one of the pillars of the Western intervention, Turkey.

In Syria and Iraq hundreds of thousands of Christians and other religious groups, such as the Yazidis,  have been cleansed from their homelands by the forces of Islamist bigotry.

These are our sisters and brothers.

The StWC considers that “Our” responsibility starts and ends at “home”.

It does not even argue for defence and military support for the one alliance which stands out as a bulwark against all forms of reaction, the People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) and their more recent allies.

The Real Problem.

The Stop the War Coalition involves groups, including leading figures, who have a contentious view of ‘imperialism’ and some are influenced by a sour unappealing version of ‘revolutionary defeatism’. At times their spokespeople come close to a “Little Englander” stand that the risks of foreign wars – costs to our pockets, our military deaths, potential domestic terrorism –  are too great. This is as unappealing as the moral puffery of those who would impose human rights at the end of a cluster bomb.

But this is not their principal problem.

This is that the StWC  have no way of conveying a political message of solidarity with those suffering in the Syrian civil war, to further the aspirations for democracy and human rights, other than UK Stop Bombing.

They, whether Trotskyist or not, are truly conservative: repeat that, and all is resolved…

Update: Stop the War Replies to Critics: People are rude about us because we are so Awesome.

They attack Stop the War because we’re an effective anti-war movement and we won’t stop.

Within the anti-war movement there will be different views about what are the solutions to peace in the Middle East — the key question for us is opposing further intervention there by British and other forces.

Some on the left seem incapable of understanding this. But then, some on the left have never really understood the importance of a mass anti-war movement aimed at our government..

One of the major successes of Stop the War has been its ability to unite different forces. We will continue to do so.

The support we have received in recent weeks is in total contrast to these witch hunts, with many people joining, donating and coming out on the streets for our demos.


15 Responses

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  1. An aside regarding Lenin and revolutionary defeatism. Mike Macnair (of Weekly Worker fame) writes, perceptively:

    Hal Draper has argued in his “Lenin and the myth of revolutionary defeatism” that Lenin’s use of ‘defeat’ slogans in 1914-16 reflected his general tendency to ‘bend the stick’: “He makes perfectly clear what he means, but that is how he seeks to underline, with heavy, thick strokes, the task of the day, by exaggerating in every way that side of the problem which points in the direction it is necessary to move now.” In Draper’s view, the resulting slogan was incoherent and mistaken, and Lenin, when he was required to formulate slogans for practical purposes, did not use it. He argues that it ceased to be employed altogether in 1917 and through the early years of the Comintern, and was only revived by Zinoviev in 1924 as a stick with which to beat Trotsky.

    Draper is usually an exceptionally careful scholar, and his work on Marx and Engels’s ideas in “Karl Marx’s theory of revolution” brilliantly draws out the political context of specific writings and arguments in order to make the underlying ideas clear. In “Lenin and the myth of revolutionary defeatism”, however, Homer has nodded. Missing from Draper’s argument about defeatism are two crucial elements.

    The first is that the primary political context is Lenin’s argument for a clear split in the International – with the right, and with anyone who wanted to maintain unity with the right, in particular with the centre. This is the precise context of, for example, Lenin’s polemic against Trotsky on the defeatism formula. And it is retained in condition six of the Twenty-one conditions (a document whose whole purpose is to finalise the split with the Kautskyian centre).

    The second is the concrete conclusion which follows from defeatism. That is, that the socialists should, so far as they are able, carry on an anti-war agitation in the ranks of the armed forces. In November 1914 Lenin wrote: “Refusal to serve with the forces, anti-war strikes, etc, are sheer nonsense, the miserable and cowardly dream of an unarmed struggle against the armed bourgeoisie, vain yearning for the destruction of capitalism without a desperate civil war or a series of wars. It is the duty of every socialist to conduct propaganda of the class struggle, in the army as well; work directed towards turning a war of the nations into civil war is the only socialist activity in the era of an imperialist armed conflict of the bourgeoisie of all nations.”

    In July 1915, in arguing, against Trotsky, for “practical actions leading toward such defeat”, Lenin comments as an aside: “For the ‘penetrating reader’: This does not at all mean to ‘blow up bridges’, organise unsuccessful military strikes, and, in general, to help the government to defeat the revolutionaries.”

    But neither here nor anywhere else does Lenin repudiate carrying on anti-war agitation in the ranks of the armed forces, and, on the contrary, this is the principal concrete conclusion which follows from defeatism. And this, too, is retained in the Twenty-one conditions, in conditions four (a general obligation to organise and agitate in the armed forces) and eight (specifically on the colonial question).

    To carry on an effective agitation against the war in the ranks of the armed forces is, unavoidably, to undermine their discipline and willingness to fight. This was apparent in 1917 itself. It is confirmed by subsequent history. One of the few effective anti-war movements in recent history was the movement in the US against the Vietnam war. If we ask why this movement was successful, the answer is clear: it did not merely carry on political opposition to the war (demonstrations, etc) but also disrupted recruitment to the US armed forces and organised opposition to the war within the armed forces. The result – together with the armed resistance of the Vietnamese – was a US defeat.

    Source: http://www.iran-bulletin.org/Marxism/Macnair%20-%205.htm

  2. Thanks for that Jason.

    Lenin was thinking in terms of the “Good News” of socialism being (as Lars Lih put it) something largely there, waiting to be conveyed to the working class and popular masses. Patriotic responses to the Great War hampered this, to put it mildly, by turning socialist parties from internationalism to defending ‘their’ county. A truly internationalist left could only grow against the grain of this turn, hence the ‘defeatist’ turn in order to concentrate the ‘revolutionary movement’ in Russia’s attention on their ‘own’ state apparatus and its armed forces.

    Hal Draper describes the evolution and the use of the term in detail, as you say. This why many of us admire Draper. I particularly like his short book on the dictatorship of the proletariat, which uses similar textual and contextual clarity to demonstrate that Lenin had no authority in Marx.

    Whether the term was ever of great use, and whether the ‘civil war’ that Lenin projected, and the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat he began, were ever compatible with democratic Marxism – of Hall’s stripe or of a more moderate democratic socialist type – is very very doubtful.

    Trotsky’s use in the 1930s and on the eve of the Second World war was premised on the belief that the conflict would end in revolutionary upheavals similar to those that followed the Great War.

    Minuscule groups took this up, and produced the kind of headline I cite in the Post.

    Today’s version of revolutionary defeatism has a number of uses including: (1) Pure and simple wishful thinking about the ‘defeat’ of the UK/US/Western Imperialism leading to revolutionary upheavals. This did not happen after Vietnam was lost to the US. It is even less likely to happen now. (2) A tendency to wish for victory of ‘any’ ‘anti-imperialist’ force – which Phil focuses on. (3) A Little Englander (or in the US, ‘nativist’) view that its “our” special responsibility to have a moral government to set an example to the rest of the world. The ‘main enemy’ in this instance is a particular government not a state.

    None of these stands remotely grapples with the need for internationalism based on the interests of those caught up in the Syrian civil war.

    To put it simply, if the Kurdish forces want help, who the hell are the StWC to deny them aid?

    Andrew Coates

    December 18, 2015 at 5:47 pm

  3. Newman’s strongest point is about the unearned *entitlement* which lingers in Britain, mostly in England (and is the cause of the reactionary and misplaced anti-EU movement).

    But Trotskyism is no sense the new conservatism in the true sense of that term, even if it does have some crossover with neoconservatism.

    Stalinism, on the other hand, is *most definitely* the new traditional or “old” conservatism.


    December 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm

  4. Nooman’s piece has now been reblogged at Left Futures, , where one John Penney has posted this excellent btl reply:

    John Penney

    December 17, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I have seldom read such a conglomeration of non-sequitur statements and dishonest arguments marshalled in one article. But then Andy Newman, unreconstructed Stalin apologist as he is, is always notable for the sophistry required to deflect attention from the more unacceptable aspects of our very varied Left traditions.

    The StWC’s “political offer/analysis” leading up to the last Iraq War was steeped in over simplistic generalisations, and a crude pacifism – to enable the campaign to appeal to a huge range of potential supporters from the middle class liberal pacifist to Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islamic Fundamentalist Far rightists – with every variant of Left winger and anti interventionist Muslim in between. As such, it was hugely successful in mobilising hundreds of thousands around a simplistic , but essentially accurate “It’s all about oil” and associated anti US Imperialism mantra.

    Unfortunately, underlying the simplistic but at the time of the Iraq War, tactically adequate, mobilising slogans , was all the usual gross soviet era sourced misrepresentations of what “imperialism” actually is today. Most of the activist Left, not just the Trot groups and the old Stalinists of the CPB, and their allies in the Labour Party, really did, and do seem to think that “US/Western Imperialism ” is the only major barrier to world peace and socialism. This has led them to imbue the most ghastly fascistic, totalitarian regimes with membership of the fantasy “axis of resistance” – not coincidentally usually made up of old allies of the USSR, eg, Gaddafi’s Libya, Assad’s Syria, Saddam’s Iraq, Serbia. The cost for the left in bestowing this ridiculously “substitutionist” “historically progressive” anti imperialist role on these universally ghastly regimes has been to turn a cynical blind eye to their systematic murderous oppression of their own working classes , socialists, and minority communities. Just as too many on the Left for generations made apologies for the huge crimes of the totalitarian Stalinist regimes masquerading as “socialist states”.

    In today’s Iraq/Syria/Middle East crisis, the simplistic cod pacifism of the StWC in the last Iraq war simply doesn’t cut it as a mobilising mantra any more. Of course the now only too obvious fundamental , ancient, conflict between Shia and Sunni, and their associated local and regional powers driving the current multi factional bloodbath, rather undercuts the daft simplification of StW that the whole thing is solely the outcome of the Iraq War, and British/ French and US Imperialism (undoubtedly hugely implicated as these actors are , both historically and now).

    Sticking rigidly to the “its all, solely Western imperialism’s fault” , requires StW to ignore the huge role of the lesser imperialisms of Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia – and of course Russia. It also involves a systematic ignoring by those on the Left adhering to this simplistic nonsense, of the murderous role in creating the various fundamentalist Islamic groups of the actions of sectarian Assad Alawite/Baathist dictatorship – when over two years it systematically butchered all those attempting to campaign for democratic change in Syria through peaceful demonstrations.

    The StW Lefties have also found their simplistic “everything’s the fault of the West” mantra, and its cod pacifist “No to Western intervention under any circumstances” chant , has required it to totally ignore the needs of the only major secular, non sectarian, women’s rights supporting, often SOCIALIST, genuine national liberation movement in the region , namely the various factions of the oppressed Kurdish national movement. So when the secular, progressive Kurds ask for close air support from whoever will supply it to defend, for instance, Kobane – against the murderous women enslavers and pogromists of the clerico-fascist Daesh, the StWC Left simply ignores their plight. Better for the Kurds to be victims of Daesh and Turkish genocide than the Left has to grasp that sometimes the tactical needs of real people facing immanent destruction trumps the fanciful ideological constructs of UK Lefties – secure in our bourgeois democratic haven !

    Stop the War is today a politically totally compromised organisation, with long roots in accommodating to Islamic Fundamentalist groups, and now , by ignoring its dire role , also giving cover to the continued crimes of the Assad regime and its cynical Russian imperialist backers. The Left needs to rethink its analysis, and form a more principled, tactically flexible, campaigning vehicle to challenge the UK government’s cynical role in the Middle East – including its absolute refusal to challenge the huge role of Turkey and the Gulf states in supporting the Sunni fundamentalists in the conflict – including the clerico-fascists of Daesh.

    Any movement of the UK Left which cannot support the right of the Kurds for national self determination and their right for arms and assistance to fight off the murderous Daesh fascists, and Turkey, is simply not fit for purpose.

    Jim Denham

    December 19, 2015 at 1:04 am

  5. Andrew,

    you acknowledge this as a ‘good point’:

    “The terminology of imperialism may sound oddly old fashioned, but Britain really did have a global Empire, built upon military conquest, plunder, rapine and murder.”

    Whereas in fact it’s the most overused and one of the most dishonest swerve tactics of the western far left.

    It is part of the underhand soviet policy to define ‘imperialism’ as by definition a solely and self-evidently western phenomenon – mainly the work of the UK and USA, whereas any objective view of imperial expansion and decline in the past century – and indeed currently – would find a far more obvious candidate as a growing and leading world imperialist than the UK.

    That country is of course Russia/USSR, which has over the past century repeatedly invaded and plundered its neighbours, annexed territory to which Russia’s only remote claim was that it had previously annexed it as part of Russia’s original (and at that point proudly self-proclaimed) Empire, ethnically cleansed neighbouring states and colonised with ethnic Russians, murdered millions of those colonised people through starvation, and had its armed forces rape millions of women in countries it supposedly ‘liberated’. Stalin and co were proclaiming themselves heroes of anti-imperialism even as they tried to gobble up bits of Poland, Finland et al. Russian/pro-Russian ‘Anti-imperialism’ is one of the most shamelessly hypocritical propaganda exercises of modern times.

    And it is still carrying on much as usual today. Over the past hundred years, Russia has inflicted imperialist brutality on a scale which puts its in company only with Nazi Germany and – (perhaps, perhaps not) Imperial Japan.

    This is problematic, because for that same period of time, Russia/USSR has been the emotional motherland of most of the western hard and far left – at the same time as it has grown into a major world imperialist state. This emotional attachment has continued even after the fall of communism – Putin and co, although they are by any sane measurement gangster-capitalists / authoritarian nationalists – are pathetically counted by the western left as honorary soviets.

    And during that same period the British Empire has dwindled almost to nothing.

    The western left can’t make honest sense of this, so it tries to make dishonest sense of it by fulminating about the UK as if it is still a major imperial power while consistently ignoring or excusing the much larger and more brutal exercises (in that period) of the imperialist USSR/Russia.

    Contra Newman: The terminology of ‘imperialism’ does NOT sound ‘oddly old-fashioned’. What’s odd the terminology is exclusively deployed by the ‘anti-imperialist’ left against the contemporary US and UK and rarely if ever in the direction of the far more obvious Russia. Nor have the supposedly clever folk of the far left worked out another obvious fact – that ISIS are imperialists, just as Iran, Turkey and China exhibit imperial tendencies.

    Being against the imperialist tendencies of your own country is all well and good, but when the imperialism in question is as nothing compared to currently far more vigorous and red in tooth and claw examples, it’s a pretty useless – and frankly deluded – basis for interpreting international politics and determining political positions. And when you are in any case apologists for/whitewashers of some of those far more vigorous examples of modern imperialism – as the STWC Stalinists most certainly are – then it makes self-labels like ‘anti-imperialist’ and ‘anti-war’ simply stinking, self-serving lies.


    December 19, 2015 at 1:57 am

  6. I had John Penny in mind when I wrote a sentence on the Kurdish fighters.

    Andrew Coates

    December 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm

  7. The clue is surely in the name STWC, its whole purpose when at its best is to oppose British military interventions overseas, specifically in the middle east and North Africa. The reason it was so successfully in the past was because it was a broad coalition of individuals with differing views who had one thing in common, they opposed the Iraq war. To Date they have continued in that tradition

    If others wish to join solidarity movements with those involved in the Syrian civil war that is for them, there is not a shortage on offer, now is there? But how would that oppose British military intervention, if anything it will only encourage it.

    Is there not a contradiction in supporting StW and one side or another in the Syrian civil war. Maybe not for individuals perhaps, but as for the organisation StW I believe there is.

    Indeed I would go further and say if they were to do this they would quickly cease to be an effective anti war group which centres on British military intervention..

    There are times when some on the left like nothing better than navel gazing, as they are on safe ground having read all the old beards tomes. But in truth we all know the attacks on StW is an easily breakable code for attacks on Corbyn. Sometimes the pen needs to be used with caution, maybe this is one of them.

    Mick Hall

    December 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm

  8. The StWC has a strong constituency amongst those who back Assad, beyond lunatics like John Wight.

    That is impossible to deny, since the Chair, Andrew Murray, is a member of the Communist Party of Britain which issued this statement in October,

    ” In a statement today Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said:

    The Communist Party maintains its opposition to US, NATO and British military intervention in Syria. Whatever the pretext – whether to defeat the barbaric ISIS or to rescue civilian populations – the real aim is clear: to strengthen the anti-Assad terrorist forces (Islamic fundamentalists who have largely displaced the Free Syrian Army ‘moderate opposition’), create areas in which these forces can operate freely (in the guise of ‘no-fly zones’ and ‘safe havens’) and ultimately to partition Syria and replace the Assad regime with a compliant puppet one.

    Russian military forces are now attacking all the anti-Assad terrorists, including Isis, at the invitation of the Damascus government – which has every right to issue such an invitation as the internationally recognised political authority in Syria.”


    Now Murray has also said,

    “All foreign military intervention in Syria should end immediately. The Syrian conflict must be dealt with through political and diplomatic negotiations, with an end to the preconditions which block progress.”

    All foreign military intervention in Syria should end immediately. The Syrian conflict must be dealt with through political and diplomatic negotiations, with an end to the preconditions which block progress.”


    But the CPB (December the 2nd) underlined its original position,

    “This can only mean that such intervention has the agreement of the only sovereign political power recognised by the UN in Syria, namely, the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Significantly, Russian military action in Syria, coordinated with the Syrian armed forces, has done more to throw sectarian terrorist forces on the defensive in two months than the US-led bombing campaign has achieved in 18 months.

    Communists and socialists have often been the first targets of Islamist sectarian violence, whether in Afghanistan, Iran, Tunisia or Sudan.

    Nonetheless, the Communist Party in Britain, like its sister parties in the Middle East (including Syria) and Africa, does not believe that additional Western imperialist military intervention in Syria will defeat sectarian terrorism any more than it has done in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya.”


    Now I happen to agree that Islamism is a particular threat to left wingers.

    But the “sovereign political power” in Syria, Assad, stands accused of this, amongst many many other crimes,

    “Human Rights Watch says it is confident photos smuggled out of Syria by a defector in 2013 showing 6,786 people who died after detention are authentic.

    The group carried out a nine-month investigation into the 53,000 images handed to the opposition by a military police photographer, codenamed Caesar.

    Researchers interviewed former prisoners, defectors, forensic experts and families of the disappeared.”


    Andrew Coates

    December 19, 2015 at 12:22 pm

  9. A simple question: what is an organisation calling itself “Stop the War” doing, appointing a Chair who supports the bombing of Syria?

    Jim Denham

    December 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm

  10. bully boy Jim got his butt kicked by John Tummon.


    December 19, 2015 at 11:56 pm

  11. Really?

    Jim Denham

    December 20, 2015 at 12:36 am

  12. Yeah, Russian cluster bombs actually contain popcorn and their thermobarics create clouds of icecream — just the ticket for parties and the kiddies’ ward at the hospital.

    redkorat☭ (@red_korat)

    December 20, 2015 at 3:11 am

  13. I agree with Andrew about Draper’s short book on the evolution of the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. By the time the Russian civil war started Lenin really did twist the concept all out of shape (as did Kautsky).


    December 20, 2015 at 7:16 am

  14. But in any case Lenin’s revolutionary defeatism concept presupposed inter-imperialist war, no? And socialist workers on all sides of the conflict simultaneously calling for defeatism.

    Hardly a situation like that in the world today.


    December 20, 2015 at 7:19 am

  15. What?

    I have also never understood this thing about kicking people’s bottoms.

    Andrew Coates

    December 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm

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