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On Louis Proyect’s The Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism and the European left.

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Idlib, Syria: Thousands protest peacefully against Assad’s war, Friday 14 September.

Louis Proyect has just published this article (in Counterpunch), of significance not only in the US but for the European left, and across the word.

On the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism.

Beginning with an overview  of “Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism” it extends to a wider series of reflections.

Project tunes into some of the key ethical and political problems, thrown up by a number of intense  conflicts across the world since 2011 and the response of various parts of the left to them.

In each of them the politics of an ‘anti-imperialism’, limited to opposing the ‘West’ (and de facto backing, amongst others, Assad’s regime, Putin and , though he mentions this to a much lesser degree, Iran) has been called into question.

Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism is an important contribution to the debate that has divided the left since 2011, the year that Syria became a litmus test. For some, support for Bashar al-Assad became tantamount to backing Franco in the Spanish Civil War while others saw my perspective as lending support to the USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary states carrying out the same neoconservative foreign policy that turned Iraq into a failed state.

In other respects, he observes that on a range of social and economic issues the US left was united (“ranging from defending immigrant rights to opposing fracking),at the start of the decade.

But, “The polarization deepened in 2014 when the Euromaidan protest became litmus test number two.”

“As was the case with Syria, the overwhelming majority of the left sided with Yanukovych who was seen as a progressive leader ousted by a coup organized and funded by the CIA. When war broke out in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin-backed militias were freedom fighters while Kyiv became a tool of NATO and Western banks. Trying to avoid such geopolitical dualities became difficult, if not impossible.”

This could equally be seen here. The left (with at least some hope of a wider political influence than the US left, which was increasing after Ed Miliband began his Labour leadership)  has in general terms  been united on issues such as anti-austerity. This has parallels across Europe, although since that time the EU (UK) or sovereigntism has become  dividing lines.

It was during the Ukraine crisis that the same divisions over international issues, as in the US, became serious.

There was (lightly covered) with support for Putin and the Russian Federation’s claims  from the Morning Star, and the Stop the War Coalition (Counterfire-led) – a position not reflected so widely in the rest of Europe outside of the direct inheritors of the Stalinist parties – but also present.

Here is their activity in sharp focus,

Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ launched in London Socialist Appeal. 2014

Lindsey German (Counterfire), Boris Kagarlitsky (Institute for globalization studies and social movements), Andrew Murray (Communist Party of Britain), Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency) and Sergei Kirichuk (Borotba) discuss the threat of fascism in Ukraine, the role of imperialism in the current situation and the need for a campaign in support of the antifascist resistance in Ukraine to provide a counterweight to the lies and distortions of the Western media.

Then there is the Middle East, where unity over opposition to the Invasion of Iraq began to crack, above all as the Arab Spring brought forth a movement for democracy against the Assad dictatorship.

Proyect talks of Syria, the cause of whose people he has been a consistent champion.

He cites US writers who have sided with Assad (and not, odd as it may seem, the worst of the red-brown Assad apologists….)

For Syrians, the notion put forward by Stephen Gowans et al that Syria was some sort of socialist utopia rivaling if not besting Kurdish Rojava was a cruel joke. Hensman writes:

Finally, it is an irony that people who see themselves as socialists fail to note the class dimension of the uprising. Janine di Giovanni provides a vivid description of the Damascus elite who support Assad: “[In June 2012,] for several weeks running, I watched the fevered hedonism of the Thursday afternoon pool parties at the Dama Rose Hotel … By lunchtime, women were rushing to hairdressers; the roads leading out of the city … were clogged with luxury cars … Restaurants such as Narenj, which … served traditional Arabic food to the elite, were still packed.” (di Giovanni 2016, 8). By contrast, in 2007 a third of Syrians were living beneath the poverty line, with nearly another third only slightly above this level. Swiss-Syrian socialist activist and scholar Joseph Daher (2016) writes that “even the regime-controlled Syrian General Federation of Trade Unions deplored in 2009 that “the rich have become richer and the poor poorer … (and) low income earners who make up 80 percent of the Syrian population are looking for additional work to support themselves”. He continues, “We must not forget that the popular revolution in Syria began as a result of social economic injustices and widespread poverty, in addition to political issues.”

This is the crucial, the crunch point: his summary of what’s facing people in Syria now:

We are now in the final hours of the seven-year ordeal in which attempts to restore the democratic values of Hourani’s government have been crushed by overwhelming air power and massive intervention by Iran, Hezbollah and Afghan mercenaries. The looming victory against “imperialism” leaves the country in shambles with dismal economic prospects and inescapable environmental disaster.

He continues, looking at the “campists” now backing, more or less openly, Assad.

A certain political myopia exists in such quarters. Despite their anti-fascist pretensions, they cannot fathom how Assad’s victory will strengthen reaction throughout the Middle East and Europe. In an interview on Portuguese television, General al-Sisi stated: “The priority is that we support the national armies to impose control over the territory, deal with the extremists, and impose the necessary stability in Libya, Syria and Iraq.” When the interviewer followed up with “When you refer to the National Army in Syria, do you mean the Syrian army?”, the General replied: “Yes.”

In  Proyect’s conclusion he suggests that capitalists, and those states who wish for  Assad’s victory, have their own interests at heart.

Hardly a surprising claim but can this be extended to speculation that a bloc is being formed out of “With Assad, al-Sisi, Putin and Haftar” in a “new axis of resistance against Islamists” or, even more speculatively, “would anybody be surprised that Netanyahu would apply for membership?2

One can only note that Louis’s belief that Boris Johnson is still UK foreign Secretary is one, amongst many reasons to doubt the emergence of such an alliance. And there is a leap from a certain support for Libya’s Hafter to….Assad, and Putin, Israel, Macron….. which is hard to jump. (“In July, Haftar met with an Israeli intelligence officer in Amman, to “deepen security coordination between him and Israel”. Not only does Haftar have these considerable forces in his corner, he can also rely on the backing of France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as well as the United Arab Emirates.”).

The conclusion is, nevertheless, worth serious reflection:

 In all their heartfelt objection to imperialism, Assad’s supporters on the left seemed to have forgotten that Lenin wrote a book titled “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. If you forget about the capitalism part of his analysis, you don’t get very far.

One cannot imagine that Iran (whose capitalist rather than geopolitical and religious-ideological interest, if there is one, which it far from sure,  goes unmentioned) and Putin’s Russian Federation, have backed Assad out of a wish to strengthen a multipolar world contesting American dominance purely out of hearty anti-imperialist good will. The extent to which religious ideology as a material force in the conflicts remains unclarified, but who can seriously doubt that it plays a substantial role in these wars.

While one is certain that much of the US left, anxious at all times to distance itself from any hint of support for its own imperialist military machine, has good reason to be wary of its state’s involvement.

But today this is of utmost urgence: 

Indefensible: Idlib and the left Leila Al-Shami

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Revolutionary Communist Group (Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism) Storms Newcastle Council Debate to Prevent Adoption of Anti-Semitism Guidelines.

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RCG Says, “Smash Zionism!”

Far-left protesters storm council chamber as anti-Semitism debate descends into chaos

The Chronicle (Newcastle)

A council meeting descended into chaos as protesters stormed the chamber during a debate on anti-Semitism.

“Frightened” councillors were forced out of the room and left in tears due to the angry protest from far-left campaigners, one of whom had to be dragged from the chamber by securit

The protest – led by the revolutionary communist Fight Racism Fight Imperialism group – was opposing Newcastle City Council’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which they claimed would “criminalise solidarity with Palestine in Newcastle”.

After Lib Dem opposition deputy leader Nick Cott raised the motion to adopt the definition, protesters in the public gallery above began chanting, unfurled Palestinian flags, and shouted abuse at councillors.

As councillors left the room, one man broke into the main council chamber and was dragged away by security as Lord Mayor David Down tried to calm the protesters down.

It was claimed that one member of the civic centre’s security staff was put into a headlock by the demonstrators, some of whom were led away by police.

Afterwards, council leader Nick Forbes labelled them “clowns” who “don’t do anything to further the cause of the Palestinians”.

The result?

“When councillors returned to the chamber after around 25 minutes, Coun Forbes seconded the motion – having agreed to drop an amendment he had proposed – and it was passed unanimously.

Coun Forbes told the chamber that adopting the IHRA motion would “show we understand the upset and hurt that many people in our Jewish communities feel”.

Flagged up here: Revolutionary Communist Group attack Anti-Semitism Debate.

And on their Facebook Page: “Fight Racism – Fight Imperialism – FRFI North East

We have won the right to address the council! Thanks to everyone who signed the petition. See you at the protest today. Fight the council motion – defend the right to defend Palestine!

 

This was the campaign mounted by the RCG/Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism!

Don’t criminalise solidarity with Palestine in Newcastle.

1. Vote against the motion to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

2. State that the IHRA definition is an attempt to criminalise solidarity with Palestine by aiming to restrict protests, meetings and individuals that criticise Israel.

—————————————————————————–
This campaign is being run by a member of the public on the Campaigns by You website, not by 38 Degrees itself. 38 Degrees does not endorse all of the petitions on the website.

Why is this important?

On 5th September 2018, at its full council meeting, Newcastle City Council is due to vote on a motion as to whether the council should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

The definition comes with examples of anti-Semitism, including: “”Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

We say: Israel is a racist state and saying so is not anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

Israel is a racist colonial settler state, based on the disposition of the Palestinian people, it must maintain itself by extending that dispossession through violent means, and has done so constantly since the 1993 Oslo Agreements.

We the undersigned call on Newcastle City Council to:

1. vote against the motion to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

2. state that the IHRA definition is an attempt to criminalise solidarity with Palestine by aiming to restrict protests, meetings and individuals that criticise Israel.

Acts of anti-Semitism show hatred towards Jewish and other Semitic people. Our assertion that Israel is a racist state is not informed by hatred towards Jewish people but rather by solidarity with the people of Palestine and their struggle against occupation and colonisation. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. Non-Jewish Israeli’s and non-Jewish Palestinian’s are discriminated against on a vast scale. This discrimination and the collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel has been recognised by international humanitarian organisations, including Amnesty International.

There are many Jewish organisations who are opposed to Israel because of its Zionist and racist nature. For example, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network states:

“Zionism is racist. It demands political, legal and economic power for Jews and European people and cultures over indigenous people and cultures. Zionism is not just racist but anti-Semitic.” Non-white, non-European Jews, are treated as second-class citizens, and face racism and economic exploitation at the hands of the Israeli state.

There has also been a witch hunt in the Labour Party against any politicians who criticise Israel. This includes the suspension of Jackie Walker, who is both black and Jewish. Does the council support this suspension?

We oppose all forms of racism and oppression. That means we must defend the right to defend Palestine. We ask Newcastle City Council to do the same.

The RCG’s background (Wikipedia)

The RCG grew out of the “Revolutionary Opposition” faction of the International Socialists (IS), (forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party), being strongly influenced by the politics of Roy Tearse. When the leading figures of the “Revolutionary Opposition”, the name itself only first appearing in print in their appeal document, were expelled from the IS its members met to decide on their course of action, and disagreements between Tearse’s allies and the majority of the faction around David Yaffe rapidly surfaced. The result was that Tearse’s supporters formed the Discussion Group which led a quiet life for a number of years inside the Labour Party before dissolving. Meanwhile, Yaffe and his comrades proceeded to found the Revolutionary Communist Group in 1974.[4]

In 1975, the RCG began publishing a theoretical journal called Revolutionary Communist in which it in part espoused a view of crisis theory, a theme they had already addressed in the IS when challenging the work of the theoreticians of that group.[5] They developed Karl MarxFriedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin‘s analysis of the labour aristocracy, and showed its relevance for politics in the period after the Second World War. Their conclusions led them to call for no vote for the Labour Party.

The early years of the RCG saw the group lose a large part of its initial membership. For example, in September 1975 the Birmingham branch decamped in order to join the Workers’ Socialist League.

Hungarian sociologist Frank Furediwas an early member of the RCG before being ejected in 1976, following which he founding the Revolutionary Communist Tendency. In later life he rejected socialism and became a libertarian.

A few years after the RCG’s foundation, disagreements emerged amongst its members regarding such topics as Stalinism and the South African government. One group, dominated by Frank Furedi (1947-), a sociologist at the University of Kent who used the pseudonym of “Frank Richards”, began to argue against the views put forward by David Yaffe and his supporters. Yaffe himself later remarked that Furedi had been “organising among a clique of middle-class members, and became their self-styled guru”.[6] In November 1976, Furedi and his followers were expelled from the RCG, following which they went on to form their own rival organisation, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency(RCT). Soon, the RCT itself splintered, with a group calling itself the Committee for a Communist Programme (CPP) being founded by several dissenting members.[7] Following this, the RCT went on to change its name to the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1981, and would publish the magazine Living Marxism from 1988 to 2000, in which their political position moved from Leninism to Libertarian Marxism.”

From Revolutionary Communist Party to Spiked: The Archives Speak!

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1980 The Next Step 8.pdf

Ever Wondered why Spiked is so Quiet on Corbyn’s Past? 

France had its former ’68’ Maoists, above all from the Gauche prolétarienne (1968 – 1974), who became right of centre, and left-of centre, anti-communist liberals.

It even had Benny Lévy (also Pierre Victor; 1945–2003) who from a hard-line Marxist-Leninist leader and ideologue of the group ended up a student of the Torah in Israel.

Whatever else you might think he was serious, as this citation indicates,

To be Jewish. To be, in an absolutely singular manner… a thought of the Return. The Return to the Sinaï… The thought of the Return (la pensée du Retour) requires a critique of the atheology of the modern Jew . Theology of the silence of God after Auschwitz, critique of theodicy, finally return to the notion of absolute Evil, these are the points through which one must pass in a critical manner. In this sense, this book addresses itself at any man, insofar as he is still sensible to the question of the origin of evil.

This biography is worth reading and thinking about: Philippe Lardinois, De Pierre Victor à Benny Lévy, de Mao à Moïse ?, Luc Pire, 2008

Britain, belatedly, had the hard-line Revolutionary Communist Party (1978 – 1997).

Odd as it seems the group behind Spiked was one of the more forceful – or barking – organisations on the British far-left, though not doubt without the kind of Oxbridge paternity that would have paralleled the GP’s best known members’ background in the École normale supérieure.

Today former members write this,

THE TERRIBLE PRICE OF A ‘PEOPLE’S VOTE’

To overthrow the Brexit vote would be to overthrow democracy itself.

The Remainer elite is feeling excited. Why? Because it thinks it might finally have beaten down the democratic desires of ordinary people, especially the poorer, less educated ones. It is hopeful that its relentless fearmongering, its highly moneyed, deeply cynical campaign to depict Brexit as the worst thing to happen to Britain since the war, might finally be paying off. This is the truth behind the Remainer elite’s wild cheering of a poll analysis that seems to reveal that more and more constituencies have shifted towards having Remain majorities: it spies in this alleged shift an important victory for its campaign of delegitimising the democratic vote for Brexit and sidelining the rough, ill-informed people responsible for that vote.

Their one time leader and ideologue, Frank Furedi, screams:

THE FLIGHT OF THE ELITES FROM THE NATION STATE

When leaders lose faith in the nation, geopolitics becomes more unstable.

And this: SELL OUT BREXIT? NO DEAL

It does not look probable that anybody is going to write a serious biography of Brendan O’Neill, or Frankie.

But there are people out there interested in their past (I admit I have a couple of copies of the Revolutionary Communist Papers mouldering away somewhere and a pamphlet….)

The Revolutionary Communist Tendency / Party…

(Splits and Fusions. An archive of British Trotskyist publications)

Love them (?)  or hate them, the Revolutionary Communist Party were a significant component of the British far left of the 1980s.

Originating as a split from the Revolutionary Communist Group (Fight Racism Fight Imperialism), itself a split from the International Socialists, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency published 8 issues of a magazine Revolutionary Communist Papers before establishing the rather stylish tabloid paper The Next Step in 1979. TNS was, at first a 24 page theoretical review before becoming a weekly paper in 1985. The issues of TNS up to that point are consecutively numbered. From 1985 they are numbered 1 – 40-odd repeating each year.

The main preoccupations of the RCP were Ireland and anti-racism as reflected in their front organisations the Irish Freedom Movement, publishing Irish Freedom magazine, and Workers Against Racism

The RCT published a series of Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets whilst the RCP followed up with a number of books and pamphlets, often under the Junius Press imprint and a theoretical journal Confrontation (we will scan some copies of this in due course)

 

Neither Norman Finkelstein nor Jonathan Sacks but Democratic Socialist Internationalism!

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Just when you thought Jonathan Sacks had scraped the bottom of the barrel.

There is hysteria, and there is hysterical foam-speckled raving.

British politics has seen the two merge over the last month as some people have made what can only be called – charitably – as the Media Madness of Crowds.

The most offensive delusions, that the a Labour Government, led by, Jeremy Corbyn, would pose an “existential threat” to British Jews, have been peddled.

The wildest seers, like Norman Finkelstein, have been given free reign to speculate on the site of the Flagship publishers of the New Left about whether Jewish wealth, “didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power” in Britain. Having found that, “Were it not for the outsized power of British Jews, it’s hard to conceive that British society would be interminably chasing after a hobgoblin.”

At present Finkelstein feels armed from his American pulpit to intervene in the British debate on what kind of procedures the Labour Party should adopt on fighting anti-semitism FINKELSTEIN CRITIQUES IHRA ‘DEFINITION’ – AND REJECTS IT WHOLE.

The author of the Holocaust Industry uses all the moral authority of John Stuart Mill to defend the right to rant – something he so far not had much success with when lecturing his close friends in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Norman Finkelstein: Teaching John Stuart Mill in Iran  2014)

Then there is this.

Corbyn’s “Zionist” remarks were “most offensive” since Enoch Powell, says ex-chief rabbi

New Statesman.  GEORGE EATON

Whatever the Conservative former Chief Rabbi’s politics are today, this is what the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who gave Enoch Powell’s discipline Nigel Farage a platform in his paper, had to say after the Brexit vote:

Brexit: It’s a wonderful day for Britain – and its Jews

It’s certainly a truism that when times are troubled, the Jews are often the first target. But the referendum demand from voters that we regain control over immigration isn’t an attack on immigrants, on foreigners – or on Jews. It’s an attack on people being denied any say on a core issue of politics.

Indeed, far from Brexit hurting minorities, the real problem for minorities comes when politics ignores such concerns – when the mainstream loses touch with people and the only vehicles left to make a point are extremists. Marine Le Pen is surging in France not because all the French are fascists but because the French governing class – Eurofanatical to the core – treats its voters with contempt.

That has been the EU’s fundamental flaw. It regards voters as uncouths who need to have what’s good for them imposed on them. Just look at Greece. That’s how and when extremists prosper – and that’s when the Jews suffer.

Our freedom from the EU will make extremism less, not more, likely, as the pressure cooker is released.

We will take no lessons on far-right extremism from Pollard – who looks even more of an empty vessel after we’ve seen the ‘Tommy Robinson’ campaign merge into a pro-Brexit, pro-Trump one.

Nor, as David Rosenberg writes, is Sacks in a strong position to attack Powell.

You were never my Chief Rabbi, bruv.

When asked last year what were his four favourite books of 2017, Sacks included Douglas Murray’s the Strange death of Europe, which the “respected rabbi” described as “unsettling” and “disturbing”. Sacks continued: “Murray weaves a tale of uncontrolled immigration, failed multiculturalism, systemic self-doubt, cultural suicide and disingenuous political leadership. Accurate, insightful and devastating.” (1) Lots of Powellite themes there which Sacks found strangely attractive. Needless to say Murray included an apologia for and re-interpretation of Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech.

But then again it wasn’t the likes of Rabbi Sacks, and the cushioned middle classes who experienced on the streets the fallout from Powell’s hate speech. It was predominantly the Asian communities facing vicious racial violence, including racial murders, and the anti-racist movements, abused and attacked by the far right forces Powell encouraged. Those Asian communities, the anti-racist movements, the refugee communities today, in the face of brutal attacks, have continued to resist. And through those years of resistance they have known they can rely on solidarity from allies beyond their own communities. One absolutely constant and ever-present ally, at their side then and now, is Jeremy Corbyn.

We do take seriously the threat posed by the racist far right.

If there are attacks on Jews in Europe, they are not alone.  Let’s begin with the events in Chemnitz where, “For two nights running, hundreds and then thousands of right-wing extremists and sympathisers have taken to the streets.” Their targets? “Far-right vigilantes ‘hunting down’ migrants in Germany after man’s death.” (Sky)

This Blog is not a supporter of the extreme ‘anti-Zionist’  politics presented as the core of ‘anti-imperialism’ which many consider one of the origins of this dispute. This approach has resulted in a failure to defend Syrian democrats, even the Kurds in their to-the-death-struggle against the ISIS genociders, and an obsessive concentration on Israel in a world rent with human rights abuses, from Myanmar to Central Africa. (1)

Nor do we wish to turn the Labour Party into a forum for people all-too-anxious to ‘debate’ playground motions expressing their hatred of ‘Zionism’.

But it is hard to argue that pro-imperialist, or pro-West politics are anything other than despicable faced with their equal inability to bring a solution to the Syrian civil war, the creation of a viable two-state solution to the Israel and Palestine conflict,  or the horrors taking place in Yemen.

The present frenzy looks less and less to do with such issues.

For the first time in many years this Blog agrees with  Lindsey German on what the relentless campaign means,

There can be no doubt about what this represents – the serious attempt to remove a twice-elected Labour leader who has left wing politics, who supports a range of causes and movements including those for the Palestinians, who is committed to redistribution of wealth and power, who wants more money spent on decent public services, and whose election as prime minister would inspire working people around the world.

When the lying has to stop – weekly briefing

It is as simple as that.

Common decency, as they say, ranges the left behind Labour.

********************

(1)  I have read the Murray book, which draws on somebody I am lot more familiar with, Renaud Camus, the theorist of the “great replacement” (the take-over of Europe by immigrants) and a pillar of the French far-right.

(2) For a thought-provoking introduction to different views read the latest at Shiraz: A history lesson for Corbyn on antisemitism, Zionism and Stalinist-influenced “anti-imperialism”

Chris Williamson MP Praises Assad Apologist.

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The “Rebel” tent at The Levellers festival: Who on earth would want to attend this event?

Or this:

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Or this?

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Well now we know:

Not surprisingly Williamson has already got some stiff replies:

Vanessa Beeley — the Syrian conflict’s goddess of propaganda

Brian Whitaker. 

One spin-off from the Syrian conflict has been a war of words that reaches far beyond the Middle East. It’s a battle in which honest reporting and the search for truth have come under sustained attack.

Those leading the attack claim they are simply asking questions that need to be asked. It’s healthy scepticism, they say. But it’s a selective kind of scepticism where reports from some sources, primarily mainstream media in the west, are dismissed as untrue — not because evidence shows they are wrong but because they don’t fit the desired narrative.

At the same time, reports that do fit the narrative win praise on social media, regardless of supporting evidence, and people who venture to question them are liable to be assailed with abuse.

A prominent example is the work of Vanessa Beeley, a supporter of the Assad regime whose reports from Syria have turned her into a social media celebrity. The Russian propaganda channel, RT, describes her as “an independent investigative journalist” and, in addition to her Russian TV appearances, she is associate editor of 21st Century Wire, the conspiracy theory website that publishes most of her work.


Beeley (fourth from right) with President Assad in 2016. She described it as her proudest moment.
 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Samir Amin (1931 – 2018) – from the Critique of Capitalist Development to the Rejection of Political Islam.

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Image result for samir amin

Samir Amin, (1931 – 2018).

Tribute to Professor Samir Amin

This Sunday, August 12, 2018 we learned, with great sorrow and sadness, of the passing the eminent development economist Professor Samir Amin on the eve of his 87th birthday. An illustrious thinker, the late Samir Amin leaves behind a wealth of economic thought on developing economies that he has inspired since the early sixties by his many publications and thought-provoking conferences.

As its Director for 10 years (1970 – 1980), IDEP is particularly touched by the passing of one of its pioneer-directors who made an indelible mark in the history of IDEP through his accomplishments in training and research in the domains of development planning and economy management in Africa. His astute leadership enabled the institute to gain and strengthen its identity in the delivery of capacity development and research programs that were strongly tailored to fight against underdevelopment.

With Samir Amin, IDEP gained momentum and is proud to be continuing on with this momentum, almost forty years later, in delivering on its mandate of building the capacity of African countries to effectively plan for their development and efficiently manage their economies.

In this sad moment, we offer our condolences to his family and to the African continent, to which he has always devoted himself with remarkable zeal and dynamism.

United Nations Economic Commission on Africa.

In French (Amin was Franco-Egyptian):

Mort de l’économiste Samir Amin, figure de l’altermondialisme

Par LIBERATION, avec AFP — 

“UN BAOBAB EST TOMBÉ” : SAMIR AMIN, LE THÉORICIEN DU DÉVELOPPEMENT INÉGAL, EST MORT  l’Humanité.

Samir Amin, l’économiste du Sud, est mort Le Monde.

“Le Franco-Egyptien s’est illustré par son analyse critique du système économique mondial et par son engagement en faveur des pays du Tiers-Monde.”

Like many I first came across Amin through the debate on capitalism and underdevelopment.  My introduction was  ‘Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism‘ (1976 ). This was one of many books in which he developed the idea that, “how accumulation in advanced capitalist countries prevents development, however that may be defined, within the peripheral social formations, usually referred to as “underdeveloped” countries. Samir Amin ranks among those who realize the necessity not merely to comprehend the growing crisis of world capitalism, as it manifests itself within individual nation states, but also at the world level.”

A lucid and memorable tribute is given in Red Pepper,

Nick Dearden looks at the theories of one of Africa’s greatest radical thinkers

Samir Amin (1931-2018) was one of the world’s greatest radical thinkers – a ‘creative Marxist’ who went from Communist activism in Nasser’s Egypt, to advising African socialist leaders like Julius Nyerere to being a leading figure in the World Social Forum.

Samir Amin’s ideas were formed in the heady ferment of 1950s and ’60s, when pan-Africanists like Kwamah Nkrumah ran Ghana and Juliuys Nyrere Tanzania, when General Nasser was transforming the Middle East from Amin’s native Egypt and liberation movements thrived from South Africa to Algeria.

Africa looked very different before the International Monetary Fund destroyed what progress had been made towards emancipation and LiveAid created a popular conception of a continent of famine and fecklessness. Yet through these times, Amin’s ideas have continued to shine out, denouncing the inhumanity of contemporary capitalism and empire, but also harshly critiquing movements from political Islam to Eurocentric Marxism and its marginalisation of the truly dispossessed.

Global power

Amin believed that the world capitalism – a rule of oligopolies based in the rich world – maintains its rule through five monopolies – control of technology, access to natural resources, finance, global media, and the means of mass destruction. Only by overturning these monopolies can real progress be made.

This raises particular challenges for those of us who are activists in the North because any change we promote must challenge the privileges of the North vis-à-vis the South. Our internationalism cannot be expressed through a type of humanitarian approach to the global South – that countries in the South need our ‘help to develop’. For Amin, any form of international work must be based on an explicitly anti-imperialist perspective. Anything else will fail to challenge structure of power – those monopolies which really keep the powerful powerful.

Along with colleagues like Andre Gunder Frank, Amin see the world divided into the ‘centre’ and the ‘peripheries’. The role of peripheries, those countries we call the global South, is to supply the centres – specifically the ‘Triad’ of North America, Western Europe and Japan – with the means of developing without being able to develop themselves. Most obviously, the exploitation of Africa’s minerals on terms of trade starkly favourable to the centre will never allow African liberation, only continual exploitation.

This flies in the face of so much ‘development thinking’, which would have you believe that Africa’s problems come from not being properly integrated into the global economy which has grown up over the last 40 years. Amin believes in fact Africa’s problem stem from it being too integrated but in ‘the wrong way’.

In fact, as long as the monopolies of control are intact, countries of the centre have had few problems globalising production since the 1970s. Sweatshop labour now takes place across the periphery but it hasn’t challenged the power of those in the North because of their control of finance, natural resources, the military and so on. In fact, it has enhanced their power by reducing wages and destroying a manufacturing sector that had become a power base for unionised workers.

So there is no point whatever in asking countries of the centre to concede better trading relationships to the peripheries. Amin is also concerned at environmental activism which too often becomes a debate about how countries of the centre manage their control of the world’s resources, rather than challenging that control. It is vital that Northern activists challenge the means through which the ruling class in their own society exerts control over the rest of the world.

Amin’s views on political Islam brought him to the attention of many secularists, including this Blogger.

Political Islam in the Service of Imperialism 2007.  Monthly Review.

On an initial reading he offered a rigorous critique of Islamism.

All the currents that claim adherence to political Islam proclaim the “specificity of Islam.” According to them, Islam knows nothing of the separation between politics and religion, something supposedly distinctive of Christianity. It would accomplish nothing to remind them, as I have done, that their remarks reproduce, almost word for word, what European reactionaries at the beginning of the nineteenth century (such as Bonald and de Maistre) said to condemn the rupture that the Enlightenment and the French Revolution had produced in the history of the Christian West!

On the basis of this position, every current of political Islam chooses to conduct its struggle on the terrain of culture—but “culture” reduced in actual fact to the conventional affirmation of belonging to a particular religion. In reality, the militants of political Islam are not truly interested in discussing the dogmas that form religion. The ritual assertion of membership in the community is their exclusive preoccupation. Such a vision of the reality of the modern world is not only distressing because of the immense emptiness of thought that it conceals, but it also justifies imperialism’s strategy of substituting a so-called conflict of cultures for the one between imperialist centers and dominated peripheries.

The exclusive emphasis on culture allows political Islam to eliminate from every sphere of life the real social confrontations between the popular classes and the globalized capitalist system that oppresses and exploits them. The militants of political Islam have no real presence in the areas where actual social conflicts take place and their leaders repeat incessantly that such conflicts are unimportant. Islamists are only present in these areas to open schools and health clinics. But these are nothing but works of charity and means for indoctrination. They are not means of support for the struggles of the popular classes against the system responsible for their poverty.

On the terrain of the real social issues, political Islam aligns itself with the camp of dependent capitalism and dominant imperialism.

It is the latter assertion, which straightforwardly answers  the false assertion that Islamism contains a kind of sublimated ‘anti-imperialism’ which is attractive. This was clearly sensed by his critics who tried to claim that the reactionary nature of political Islam was hidden behind a “welfare” vision of society. While in many ways this seems strange perspective today in the light of the rule of Daesh,  Turkey may make the case for a synthesis between authoritarian populism and Islamist welfarism.

There were and are equally clear difficulties in claiming that  Islamism was in some unexplained manner not “really”anti-imperialist. Yet various forms of actually existing Islamism were engaged in armed combat with….imperialism well before they began murdering civilians outside of their own lands.

In the debate in Monthly Review that followed Amin was criticised in Analyzing Political Islam. A Critique of Traditional Historical Materialist Analytic by  2009

The point is that if the left is ever to become serious in challenging militant/political Islam, it has to move past and dump its heavy baggage of Eurocentrism and the careless analysis of political Islam. The current wave of militant Islam is a force to reckon with, and dismissing it as reactionary—true as it may be—is unhelpful. Yes, militant Islam has an extremely narrow ideological view of Islam, and an exceedingly oppressive vision of societal change, especially concerning the treatment of women.

This vision is not shared by the vast majority of Muslims in Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and even India. That being said, this dominant obscurantist current of political Islam in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan is also locked in military/guerilla combat with U.S. imperial power and client states in the region.

But here’s the rub, militant Islam is also supported by people in these respective regions not, as mentioned earlier, because they support its vision of a Muslim “welfare state” rather, the support is because the United States is seen as ruthless, anti-Islam imperial occupier. Alongside, people in these states are also very tired of the tactics of Islamists, especially as they terrorize and target unarmed and uninvolved people. Overwhelming numbers in Muslim-majority states would like the Islamists to disappear, just as they would also wish the same for U.S. imperial presence and the client regimes that rule over them. If this complexity could be grasped, it may enable people on the left as well Western political leaders and the media to desist from homogenizing the makeup of entire Muslim-majority societies as reactionary or obscurantist.

Similarly, the popular anti-imperialist sentiment in Muslim majority states should not be confused with the actions of militant Islamists, which are not anti-imperialist. Militant Islam is conceived and imagined in the present, current context. It is, therefore, a “modern” manifestation that posits its own version of the Islamic “welfare state” for the current conjuncture to rival the Western capitalist state and Enlightenment notions of modernity. Understanding militant Islam in its current context will only enable the development of a coherent strategy of opposition and an alternative non-Eurocentric vision of society.

Comments on Tariq Amin-Khan’s text

Amin defended this analysis, focusing on how different forms of political Islam could be simultaneously ‘modern’, that is a part of a globalised world, and backward-looking, with their textual and ritual evocations of utopias.

Political Islam is a modern phenomenon. Tariq does not see that this was my thesis. All of the ideological, political and social movements of the “modern” world (i.e., of actually existing capitalism, which is both globalized and polarizing, thus imperialist by nature) are modern, because they are inseparable from capitalism. Bourgeois democratic liberalism, whether conservative or reformist, socialisms (social democracy, historical communisms), fascisms, ethnocentrisms (or para-ethnic movements), the nationalisms of the imperialist powers, the nationalisms through which dominated peoples express their resistance, movements of “religious renaissance” in all their forms, be it liberation theology, apparently “fundamentalist” revivals, both Christian and others, and new sects, all these movements are “modern”.

But it is not sufficient to understand them simply as modern. Even more, it is necessary to choose between them and identify those which move society forwards and, on the basis of a critique of capitalist modernity, participate in inventing socialist modernity.

As for the ‘welfarist’ aspect of political Islam,

the fact that the movements inspired by such formulations have recruited their rank and file from the most disadvantaged classes does not change the reactionary utopian character of these formulations. I include political Islam (even political Islams, in the plural), but also political Hinduism, political Buddhism, North American Christian fundamentalism, new sects and others, in this large family of illusions, apparently attached to the past (but in fact modern) and able to mobilize the “poor” in certain circumstances. Their success, like at the present moment, is the result of the failure of the relevant (socialist) lefts to oppose capital’s offensive, which has seized the historic opportunity provided by the erosion and then collapse of the progressive forces that had formed the world after the Second World War.

Amin was nevertheless primarily interested in the geopolitical game.

Describing the Middle East he stated in his original article on Political Islam that,

The region of the Greater Middle East is today central in the conflict between the imperialist leader and the peoples of the entire world. To defeat the Washington establishment’s project is the condition for providing the possibility of success for advances in any region of the world. Failing that, all these advances will remain vulnerable in the extreme. That does not mean that the importance of struggles carried out in other regions of the world, in Europe or Latin America or elsewhere, should be underestimated. It means only that they should be part of a comprehensive perspective that contributes to defeating Washington in the region that it has chosen for its first criminal strike of this century.

This view, which puts the conflict between ‘imperialism’ and the rest of the world, became more trenchant as the years went by.

During the Arab Spring he out the two, secularism and anti-imperialism, together and declared,

The ongoing U.S. project of military control over the planet by its armed forces, supported by their NATO lieutenants, the erosion of democracy in the imperialist core countries, and the medievalistical rejection of democracy within Southern countries in revolt (taking the form of “fundamentalist” semi-religious delusions disseminated by political Islam, political Hinduism, political Buddhism) all work together toward that dreadful outcome. At the current time the struggle for secularist democratization is crucial for the perspective of popular emancipation, crucial for opposition to the perspective of generalized barbarism.

2011: An Arab Springtime?

But imperialism came to play its role.

Counterpunch summarised his opinions in 2017.

A main pillar of Amin’s thought is that far from battling political Islam, the NATO and US have enabled such regional movements as a divide and conquer approach to maintaining power. This critique upends the dominant narrative of Uncle Sam’s war on terror as a noble pursuit.

According to Amin, since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the lone superpower has been spurring a “permanent civil war between Shiites and Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds.

What does all this mean?

Amin writes: “US armies have protected those who subsequently had to take the direction of the Daesh (or ISIL), the Caliph himself!”

In Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism, Amin presents a thought-provoking interpretation of Russian history in the global system. It involves geography and history and of course human agency.

He considers the Czarist Empire and the colonial empires, quite different. Further, Amin considers Lenin and Stalin and the Ukrainian crisis, the latter of which constitutes no small threat to widening armed conflict.

Russia remains a pivotal nation on the world stage, in spite of its capitalist restoration. Its importance as a counterbalance to the imperialism of the Triad (US, Europe and Japan) is Amin’s special focus, and for good reason.

For many  the belief that US was involved in the rise of Daesh seems an unproven and tied to conspiratorial claims about the  ‘sponsorship’ of the Islamic state made by supporters, amongst others, of the Assad regime.

Amin also made claims about the “le coup d’état euro-nazi de Kiev ” and, giving a name to the US involvement, stated that the Hillary Clinton had founded ISIS, “A ce propos la presse aux Etats Unis a reconnu que l’accusation portée par D. Trump à savoir que Hilary avait activement soutenu la mise en place de Daesh – était fondée.” (Samir Amin; l’élection de Donald Trump (25 / 11 / 2016) (1)

Amin, it might be said, failed to keep up with developments inside  Islamism. He ignored the self-driven ideological causes and nature of the Deash genocidal and totalitarian regime. There is a disregard for the weight of doctrine. There is no serious analysis of its relation to earlier forms of political Islam and the ideologies of radical Salifist currents that were drawn to jihad. There is nothing on the buds of tyrannical  “micro-powers” of Islamism dispersed across the world including within the ‘West’ and the way in which these can become ‘proto-states’ in trying to create a racist misogynist Caliphate.

In short, neither the ‘global jihad’ nor the blood-drenched reality of Islamist rule in Iraq and Syria, the Taliban and Boko Haram, the jihadis of the Maghreb and Mali,  and the Somalian killers, can be explained only in terms of geopolitical rivalries, or, as a regression to a pre-Enlightenment ‘utopia’ in modern political and technological armed dress.

Louis Proyect reflects on some of these issues here:  Samir Amin, dependency theory, and the multipolar world

Amin’s defence of a “multi-polar world” was nevertheless a positive vision of the future.

Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World

A genuinely multipolar world will become a reality only when the following four conditions have been satisfied.

  •  Real advances towards a different, ‘social’ Europe, and hence a Europe that has begun to disengage from its imperialist past and present and to embark on the long transition to world socialism. Evidently this implies more than a mere exit from Atlanticism and extreme neoliberalism.
  • The prevalence of ‘market socialism’ in China over the strong tendencies to an illusory construction of ‘national capitalism’, which would be impossible to stabilize because it would exclude the majority of workers and peasants.
  •  Success of the countries of the South (peoples and states) in rebuilding a ‘common front’. This is also essential to provide the leeway for popular classes to impose ‘concessions’ in their favour and to transform existing systems of rule, replacing the dominant comprador blocs with new ‘national, popular and democratic’ blocs.
  •  Advances at the level of national and international legal systems, harmonizing respect for national sovereignty (including moves from state to popular sovereignty) with respect for all individual and collective, political and social rights.

Amin opposed the Muslim Brotherhood root and branch, “We should not just look at the Muslim Brotherhood as a political Islamist power but as a backward movement that rejects workers movements and social justice, preferring to talk about charity as a form to ensure their control over the people,” he once said, according to al-Ahram.” The New Arab.

Dearden puts Amin’s contribution best in these paragraphs,

Perhaps Amin’s central thesis is somewhat obvious, but it’s often forgotten – that a true revolution must be based on those who are being dispossessed and impoverished. But he goes further in undermining the assumption that any thinking emerging from the South will lack enlightenment, or that a lack of enlightenment should be excused.

He believes the Enlightenment was humanity’s first step towards democracy, liberating us from the idea that God created our activity. He has caused controversy in his utter rejection of political Islam. This ideology, embedded for example in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, obscures the real nature of society, including by playing into the idea that the world consists of different cultural groups which conflict with each other, an idea which helps the centre control the peripheries.

 

 

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(1) Again, opinion is perfectly manipulated on the subject. Jihadism is only the inevitable product of the triad’s continued support of reactionary political Islam inspired and financed by Gulf wahabism. The exercise of this so-called Islamic power is the best guarantee of the total destruction of the ability of societies in the region to resist the dictates of liberal globalization. At the same time, it offers the best pretext for giving the appearance of legitimacy to NATO’s interventions. In this regard the press in the United States acknowledged that Donald Trump’s accusation – that Hillary had actively supported the establishment of Daesh – was well founded.” Samir Amin Blog.

Backlash at Momentum Withdrawing Backing for Peter Willsman Exposes Deeper Left Rift.

with 13 comments

Image result for corbyn palestine

New forms of international solidarity, based on democratic human rights, should replace unconditional support.

Momentum withdraws support for Corbyn ally Peter Willsman for ‘deeply insensitive’ remarks about Jews

Independent.

The present crisis in the Labour Party over anti-semitism is a mess with which most people would recoil from.

The underlying problem is not this or that charge: it is a fight over Jeremy Corbyn’s politics.

Although the majority of the left stands with the anti-austerity programme, and for democratic socialist measures  to replace neo-liberal politics – give or take some divisions about how to respond to Brexit – there is no consensus about the politics of the Middle East and, above all, on the Israel-Palestine issue.

Is this  the central question of the age? In most people’s minds it is not. We could begin with the civil war in Syria, where massacres continue after genocides.

But there is no getting away from it.

Jeremy Corbyn comes from an honourable tradition on the left which puts international solidarity at the forefront of left campaigning.

It is part of his marrow.

Jeremy Corbyn has put the Palestinian people’s rights at the centre of his work.

It is scandalous to accuse him of underhand behaviour when he has acted in the plain light of day.

Or that Corbyn is of the same mind as everybody he’s been found in the company of.

Nobody can doubt that this involves cooperating, or at least appearing on the same platform,, as people he disagrees with.

But not everybody on the left accepted, or does now accept, the idea that solidarity means not taking a critical distance from the leadership and activists of liberation movements.

A thoughtful piece this year on the New Socialist site begins with a premise that seems very much of a different time:  Antisemitism and Our Duties as Anti-Imperialists. (The Editors April 2018)

The claim that groups like Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are liberation movements reflects a position of the 1960s and 1970s left on such struggles which has not worn well.

But in a wider sense what are the “duties” of “anti-imperialists”? Opposing colonialism, the occupation of whole swathes of the world by European powers, US intervention in Asian wars, ended by the 1970s.

The term ‘anti-imperialism’ was visibly coming apart after the the Khomeini  victory in Iran in 1979, which heralded a wider rise in diverse forms of political Islam – virulently opposed to the left. Yet these were, in Tehran,  ‘anti-imperialist’, as a whole section of the Iranian left claimed, before being executed or put in gaol.

Opposition to US-led intervention against Iraq, the Gulf War onwards, and in Afghanistan, had some meaning.

But it failed to inspire much support on the left for Baathism or the various Islamist groups that took power in Afghanistan

The idea of moral obligations to support positively anti-imperialist countries or movements opposing ‘imperialism’ has even less  meaning today when ‘anti-imperialism’ or ‘campism’ in the post-Soviet world has led some on the left to claim the mantle of ‘internationalism’ for support for a variety of repressive and reactionary states and movements opposed to the ‘West’.

Despite its obvious bankruptcy the influence of this stand can be seen at present far beyond the Middle East, with some continuing to back the blood-stained and  corrupt regime in Nicaragua on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds.

The hollowness of this position is not hard to see. For those who wish to see them taken apart read Dan la Botz Nicaragua’s Popular Rebellion Stopped—For Now. (1)

Just as we would not tolerate unconditional support for Israel, above all in the form of the Israeli government, it is hard to see why why we should tolerate the – well-known – faults of the backward looking right-wing  Muslim Brotherhood ally Hamas.

This has its domestic translation.

In the present Labour Party row the issue keeps returning to the influence of anti-democratic, and prejudiced forces that style themselves ‘anti-Zionists’ operating in movements calling for  support for the Palestinians.

These range from those who have lost all sense of decency through their use of  ‘Nazi’ rhetoric against ‘Zionists’, Islamist and classic far-right anti-semites, to the probably more numerous, “conspiratorialist” individuals and groups.

But the Labour Party is not, as Labour Against the Witchunt and the its backers would like it to be, a playground where these individuals can engage in ‘debates’ on the template of the Letters Page in the Weekly Worker.

It is equally  true that the Labour Party is not going to be taught lessons about racialism from people like the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who declared in June 2016,

Our freedom from the EU will make extremism less, not more, likely, as the pressure cooker is released.

Brexit: It’s a wonderful day for Britain – and its Jews

But we are not going to resolve our difficulties without a coming to terms with the need for forms of international solidarity, based on democratic human rights, to replace the old unconditional support. for movements we think are ‘anti-imperialist’ or progressive.

In the deeper senses outlined above this is simultaneously a foreign policy issue and a domestic one, so that this analysis by Steve Bush in the New Statesman is right at both ends put together:

The issue at stake is that Corbyn himself regards the row as a foreign policy issue, confined to the question of how Labour members can talk about Israel, while his critics primarily see it as a domestic issue, confined to the need to reassure British Jews of Labour’s intentions and to take the sting out of the row, which risks derailing a summer of detailed policy interventions from the opposition.

Momentum dump Peter Willsman from their NEC slate – in direct defiance of Jeremy Corbyn’s office

The backlash at Momentum’s decision illustrates all these issues coming to the surface:

Momentum drops Pete Willsman – support the comrade!

 

And so it goes….

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Skwawkbox launches an organised wrecking operation against Momentum.

LOCAL MOMENTUM GROUPS COME OUT FOR WILLSMAN AND THE #JC9YES9

National Momentum – or rather the officer subset of Momentum’s ‘NCG’ (National Coordinating Group) – made the widely-condemned decision yesterday to withdraw support from left-slate member Peter Willsman in the vital National Executive Committee elections, over antisemitism claims that do not stand up to scrutiny.

The decision sparked a major online backlash, with large numbers announcing they had ended their membership.

But others are staying within the organisation yet still making clear that the NCG has not spoken for them.

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(1) Notably,

Many of my generation, the generation of 1968, who supported the Nicaraguan revolution of 1979 (as I did), may have found these arguments appealing, reflecting as they did the situation forty years ago, but not only do they have little factual or logical merit, but they are based on a specious reasoning that denigrates ordinary people and idolizes strongmen. Such arguments are based upon three fundamental suppositions:

1) Nicaraguans and other Latin Americans cannot have legitimate grievances against the “Leftists” governments and would any case be incapable of creating their own movement, so they must be manipulated by some other force;

2) the United States masterminds and controls all political developments in Latin America from Argentina and Brazil to Venezuela and Nicaragua, and it is the real force behind any apparent popular opposition;

3) existing “anti-imperialist” governments (Russia, Syria, Nicaragua), whatever their character, must be supported against the world’s only imperialist nation, the United States.

These arguments can only appeal to those who have no understanding of the complexity of international political developments, of a world where, for example, people can organize themselves, a left can develop critical of a so-called leftist government, and the United States, powerful as it is, cannot always call the shots. That these authors provide shameful support for an authoritarian, capitalist government murdering hundreds and wounding thousands of its citizens is not surprising, given their support for Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia, Iran’s theocratic dictatorship, and Assad’s dictatorship in Syria. Zeese and Blumenthal represent what writer Rohini Hensman has called a neo-Stalinist current that came out of the left but now has little that is even vaguely leftists about it.[18]

Fortunately, the international democratic left has rallied in defense of the Nicaraguan people’s rebellion. Noam Chomsky spoke out against Ortega’s “authoritarian” government on Democracy Now.[19] Dozens of leftist intellectuals and political activists  principally from Europe and Latin America signed a statement strongly condemning the Ortega governments and containing these demands:

The unconditional release of all political prisoners; the transfer of information from the authorities to human rights organizations about the real situation of the persons declared missing; disarmament of the paramilitary army organized by Ortega and his government; an independent international investigation into the various forms and facets of repression, with appropriate sanctions; the constitution of a transitional government — with a limited mandate, — leading to free elections; and the end of the Ortega-Murillo government.[20]