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Comrade Peter Tatchell Speaks for Us: Back Corbyn and Raise Human Rights Issues with him.

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Comrade Peter Tatchell Speaks for our Left.

I’m backing Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership, despite his unsavoury “friends. By

This article expresses the views of many of us on the democratic socialist left.

A Corbyn premiership would reverse damaging, cruel welfare cuts and the privatisation of vital public services. He’d tackle climate destruction, rocketing rents and house prices. Trident renewal, foreign wars and the sinister Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership would be nixed. His administration would bring rail and energy companies back into decentralised public ownership. All sensible, compassionate policies. Good for him.

In my book, he is head and shoulders above all the other Labour leadership candidates, both in terms of his past political record and his political agenda for the future. But the single most important over-arching reason for supporting Jeremy is that Britain needs to turn away from the flawed and failed policies of business as usual. He is shaking up the establishment and breaking with the cosy political consensus that has been shared by Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP. The mainstream, middle-of-the-road policies of the last decade are not the answer. All they offer is more of the same, which is what got us into the current mess.

Comrade Peter’s article is lengthy and merits a full read.

Those will long-memories will recall that Peter has been important contributor to Labour Briefing – a significant part of the Labour left backing Jeremy Corbyn. He has also been on the Socialist Society’s Steering Committee. He is well-known to “our” left.

That is  apart from all the other campaigns and issues he has fought for so bravely.

Peter Tatchell is one of the most respected and genuine people many of us know.

After having given due weight to his merits, and the immense hope Jeremy Corbyn represents, he sums up our reservations.

Since Jeremy has his heart in the right place and is not an Islamist, Holocaust denier or anti-Semite, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Nonetheless, he has been careless in not checking out who he shares platforms with and been too willing to associate uncritically with the Islamist far right.

While I’m certain that Jeremy doesn’t share their extremist views, he does need to explain in more detail why he has attended and spoken at meetings alongside some pretty unsavoury bigots who advocate human rights abuses – and especially why he did so without publicly criticising their totalitarian politics.

He also notes problems with the stand taken on Hamas, Hezbollah, Russia and Ukraine.

There is much to say on these issues, and others – but read the article.

I will concentrate on those who are crowing that Corbyn’s opposition to direct Western intervention in Syria is another reason why he is unfit to lead the Labour Party.

One of the more distasteful claims now being made is that full-throttled backing of the Syrian opposition would have stopped the present refugee crisis.

What exactly that mean became clear as the conflict escalated in 2012- 2013 and voices became louder and louder that there should have been armed intervention, helped by aerial bombardments.

Those leading the charges against Corbyn were amongst the forces putting pressure for the British government to support military action in Syria.

Parliament voted in August 2013 against this.  “David Cameron said he would respect the defeat of a government motion by 285-272, ruling out joining US-led strikes.”

They, above the ‘Eustonites’ and the Labour right-wing, including Blogs such as Harry’s Place, have not forgiven Jeremy Corbyn for helping in the defeat of this move.

It is clearer nevertheless, by the day, that the “opposition” in Syria, that is armed groups,  that would have been aided by these measures were the very Islamist genociders (in ‘moderate’ killer or ‘extremist’ killer guise) who now create mass misery.

The result would probably have been, as Phil states, the premises are skewed.

Could Bombing Have Averted the Syrian Refugee Crisis?

The injection of large numbers of US and UK troops might have brought about an Afghanistan/Iraq-style “solution” with all the anti-insurgency actions and casualties that would have entailed, but IS would have been locked out. However, as we know neither the public nor for that matter the political and military elites were taken with such a scenario. Perhaps timing could have made a difference. Had the bombs fallen on Damascus earlier today’s crisis might have been avoided. Possibly, but as the last foray into Libya showed early intervention is no guarantee of success. If the bombs had landed in support of the 2011 uprisings, what has befallen Tripoli, Benghazi, etc. could be a window into the road not taken in Syria. That, however, was never on the table.

This was, and remains, no democratic alternative to the Assad tyranny with the force to replace it.

What can we do?

Peter’s statement on the present state of the Syrian civil war is important.

On Syria, Jeremy seems to have no policies, apart from “Don’t bomb Syria”. I concur. We don’t want escalation and war. But surely 250,000 dead, 1.5 million wounded and 10 million refugees merits some action? Total inaction aids the survival of Assad and Isis (IS).

A good start might be a UN General Assembly-authorised no-fly zone, arms embargo, peacekeepers and civilian safe havens – plus cutting funding to the IS and Assad armies by a UN blockade of oil sales.

Such measures – enforced by non-Western states such as Argentina, India, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa – would help de-escalate the conflict and reduce casualties. Jeremy’s wariness of intervention is understandable. I share it. But surely a UN mandate designed to limit war fighting is reasonable and legitimate for a left-wing candidate?

Peter also speaks on a subject dear to our heart: the Tendance has supported movements of solidarity with the Iranian people, such as Hands off the People of Iran * – which is both anti-Theocracy and for human rights in Iran, and against Western Military intervention.

Like Jeremy, I don’t want war with Iran. I opposed the indiscriminate, blanket Western sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians. But I’ve struggled to find examples of where he has spoken out against Iran’s mass jailing and torture of trade unionists, students, journalists, lawyers, feminists, human rights defenders and sexual, religious and ethnic minorities (such as the Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Baluchs). Why the silence? He often and loudly criticises Saudi Arabia. Why not Iran?

It is very distressing to see Jeremy appear on the Iranian regime’s propaganda channel Press TV, especially after it defamed peaceful protesters and covered up state violence at the time of the rigged presidential elections in 2009. Moreover, how can Jeremy (and George Galloway) appear on Press TV, despite it broadcasting forced confessions by democrats and human-rights defenders who’ve been tortured into admitting false charges, and who are later executed?

He concludes,

Based on these serious lapses, Jeremy’s critics say his foreign policies make him unfit to be Labour leader and prime minister. I understand some of their reservations, but they ignore all the international issues where Jeremy has a superb record, including support for serious action against global poverty and the arms trade, and his opposition to the Saudi Arabian and Bahraini dictatorships (two tyrannies that most other MPs ignore and which Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have actively colluded with). Moreover, Jeremy’s been a long-time champion of the dispossessed Chagos Islanders, Kurds, Palestinians and Western Sahrawis. Few other MPs have shown similar concern about the fate of most of these peoples.

We are immensely glad that Peter has spoken out.

Posadist International Publishes full run of Red Flag, Child Bearing in Space and Flying Saucers, The Process of Matter and Energy, Science and Socialism.

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Quatrième Internationale Posadiste

 

The Comrades of the Posadist International have rendered a great service to the International workers’ movement and to scientific researchers by putting the full run of their esteemed journal Red Flag on the Web.

Hat tips to Dave B and Jon A.

Great Britain – Red Flag

We can only salute them with the words of their first issue in the UK:

ON THE SURE ROAD TO SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!

“We must embark upon the a new line: the line of class against class of clear and unfettered leadership of the class struggle, of the presentation of an alternative line, the programme of Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism to the British working class.”

Red Flag. Volume 1 No 1.

July August 1963.

These are valuable documents for serious scientific students of dialectics:

Several texts unpublished

Several texts of J. POSADAS hitherto unpublished or recently re-published :

– War preparations and the role of the Socialist countries, 23.3.1981
– War is not the end of the world: It is an atomic charco, *20.9.1972
– Flying saucers, the process of matter and energy, science and Socialism, 26.6.1968
– Childbearing in space, the confidence of humanity and Socialism, 12.8.1978.

* The word ‘charco’ used by the author in its Argentinian version of Spanish has been left untranslated here for lack of a sufficiently evocative English world. The context of the author’s writings points to a traumatic quagmire, of a short duration. Editorial from Posadist Cdes.

Childbearing in space, the confidence of humanity and Socialism

J Posadas 12 August 1978

 

The Soviets are setting out to experiment with the gestation of a child in space.

This could be one of the forms that love will take in the future. It marks a very important step in the field of reproduction and in the field of science. Only a Workers State can actually do this. This initiative proves that the Soviet Workers State is not strictly determined by bureaucracy, for all the bureaucracy which it has. The bureaucracy still moves the tail -end of the Workers State, but not its limbs .

 Having now justified its existence , and demonstrated its superiority , the Workers State moves its own limbs

The superiority of the Workers State is no longer confined to its economic form….

 

“The existence of flying saucers and of beings coming to Earth is a phenomenon admissible by the dialectical conception of history. The most immediate conclusion that we are able to draw is that these beings, if they exist, possess a social organisation superior to our own. Since their appearance is not bellicose or aggressive, this means that they have no need for war, and that they come to Earth with no conquering aim.”

 

” We admit to the existence of extra -terrestrials as a conclusion of dialectical thought. The latter fills us with the certainty that we can master any existing phenomenon, and that we shall not be caught off-guard. Matters of extra- terrestrials and flying saucers do not put the dialectical method in any doubt whatsoever. Indeed they confirm it! The dialectical method gets reconfirmed at every turn.”

 

“We consider that extra-terrestrials and flying saucers can exist precisely because of what the dialectics teaches us about the organisation of matter. Matter can take infinite forms. For example, there is no reason why reproduction should always involve coupling. There may be self-reproduction, as is the case for the amoeba. And why shouldn’t this become the case for the human being in the future?”

 

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 Coatesite solidarity with the Posadist International’s scientific research.

Hello Comrade! John Prescott Speaks to his old Mates on Labour Election.

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John Prescott: Comrade.

 

The Tendance, old liquidationist Pabloites as we are, has always had a soft spot for John Prescott.

There’s that time he phoned me up – late, but obviously during House of Commons Bar opening times – and we had a chat, about this and that.

 He struck me, as he does most labour movement people we know him, as a genuine man of the left, one of ‘us’.

 Marginalised, and patronised by Blair, treated as a bleeding idiot, he kept his corner.

 He did his best against the privateers running down the transport of this country, stuck up for the environment, was none too clever about Council Housing, and was – we now know – capable of arguing against the Iraq War.

 He even went to Ruskin, like my dad.

 Though my dad didn’t end up in the House of Lords.

 Today I got an E-Mail from John, obviously personally addressed, to my good self.

Hello comrade! (We can still say that can’t we?).

I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime and be brief.

This leadership election is nearly over, and it looks like it’s down to a choice between Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham.

I was glad I encouraged MPs to nominate Jeremy to get him into this race because we really needed a debate on Labour’s future.

And what a debate it’s been! People are flocking to meetings, our number of members and supporters has tripled and there’s a buzz about Labour again.

But now you need to decide who’s the best person to lead us back to power in 2020.

And for me, that person is Andy Burnham.

From progressive renationalisation of our railways to integrating social care into our NHS, Andy has the ideas, experience and passion to unite this party and put our traditional values in a modern setting.

We need a leader who won’t just lead protests ON Downing Street. Andy’s the best candidate to march us back INTO Downing Street.

Because if we don’t choose a leader who can win in 2020, we’ll give the Tory’s another five years of misrule to hit the poor and dismantle everything we achieved in Government.

So if you haven’t yet, please vote for Andy today.

The future of our country and our party depends on it.

And you’ll make me happy too!

JP

Today Andy Burnham has made a final appeal to voters in the Labour Party election (Independent).

I know you feel like we we’ve been dancing to the tune of the Conservative Party for too long. It’s no wonder people think we’re all the same when they can’t see the difference between us and the Tories on key issues like education and social security.

You want a bolder, more principled Labour Party. And you want us to be clearer about where we oppose the Tories. So here are five key commitments I will make if you elect me leader.

1. Housing

I will oppose the extension of right-to-buy to housing associations. Right-to-buy has created a dysfunctional housing market that doesn’t work for people anymore. Instead we should be championing policies such as ‘rent to own’ and allow councils to borrow money councils so they can build more homes.

2. Education

I will oppose the Tories’ latest damaging changes to our education system. I will stand up for comprehensive education against the enforced academisation of schools. The values of comprehensive education should be as intrinsic to our party as the values of the NHS.

3. Trade unions

I will fight against the Conservative campaign to demonise the trades unions. I will defend the ability of the unions to defend Britain’s workers. I will lead outright opposition to the cynical Trade Union Bill and will be a proud defender of the Labour movement.

4. Welfare

I will lead the opposition to the Welfare Bill. I am proud of what the last Labour Government did to lift children and disabled people from poverty and to help low paid workers with tax credits. The Welfare Bill will move the clock backwards and unfairly punish disabled people.

5. Elections

I will win the 2020 election general election. The polls have shown that, of all the candidates standing to be leader, I am best placed to win for Labour. I won’t just take the Tories on, I’ll kick them out of government.

So under my leadership we will fight the next election on a radical manifesto, with bold ideas such as integrating the NHS and social care, and renationalising the railways. I will set out exactly how we will pay for each policy, leaving no doubt in people’s minds that we are a principled Labour Party, ready for government.

To the thousands of people still undecided on how to vote, I say very clearly: don’t give up on wanting to see big changes, but don’t give up on winning either. The stakes for our party and the country couldn’t be higher.

I am sorry not to make my old mucker John happy.

I voted Jeremy Corbyn: the best anti-austerity candidate, and somebody with a solid socialist background and policies.

But I put Andy Burnham as my second preference.

John is obviously not planning to join the Kendall Resistance, and certainly does not share Yvette Cooper’s dislike of ‘boys’ toys’ like trains and cars.

I hope that Corbyn and Burnham can work together.

More…. Andy Burnham makes a pitch for Labour’s leftwing vote (Guardian)

Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2015 at 11:52 am

Nick Cohen Goes Colonel Blimp on Jeremy Corbyn.

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Nick Cohen goes Colonel Blimp:

How Jeremy Corbyn’s Coup Hijacked Labour.

Blimp outraged:

Jeremy Corbyn encapsulated everything that was deceitful about his campaign to be leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition when he claimed he wanted to prioritise “the needs of the poor and the human rights of us all”. From the point of view of the poor and the oppressed, his words were a grim joke.

Blimp more outraged:

Like many from the Left’s dark corners, Corbyn does not believe in the human rights of “us all”. He is concerned only with the rights of those whose oppression is politically useful. If the oppressed’s suffering can be blamed on the West, he will defend them. If not, he is on their enemies’ side.

Blimp apoplectic:

A short and far from comprehensive tour of the regimes Corbyn has supported includes the geriatric Cuban dictatorship, the corrupt and extraordinarily incompetent Chavistas who have come close to bankrupting oil-rich Venezuela, and Russian imperialists who have used force to redraw Europe’s boundaries..

Blimp warning of Russian bear:

Corbyn, like so many on the far Left, does not fear Russia. Nor does he care that UKIP and the French National Front defend Putin because they admire a regime that loathes the European Union as much as they do. The far left has never been comfortable with the EU either. However, it indulges Putin because, as Corbyn explained in the old Communist daily, the Morning Star, “the EU and Nato have now become the tools of US policy in Europe”. From this, it follows that all attempts by the former occupied nations of Europe to protect themselves from their old imperial master are American-backed provocations which goad a justly affronted Russia. Or as Corbyn put it, “The expansion of Nato into Poland and the Czech Republic has particularly increased tensions with Russia.”

Blimp reminded of his evening appointment in the Bath House:

When the far Left shades into the far Right, I am tempted to hug the centre and treat it as our best protection against the poisonous and the deranged. Respectable commentators have urged Labour members to do the same. They failed to understand that in Labour’s case the centre ground is as polluted as any derelict site.

Blimp talking religion and ethics,

Jeremy Corbyn has never pocketed thirty pieces of silver. He says what he says because he means it, not because he has been paid to say it. This does not make him morally superior in my eyes.

Blimp, musing that they’re all as bad as each other,

One wing of the Labour Party left office and latched onto a malign force in the world: the resource-rich states with large sovereign wealth funds and a vanishingly small concern for human rights. After the Western financial crisis, they were the freest spenders on earth, and Blair, Mandelson and dozens of others sucked long and heartily at their teats. Meanwhile, a second wing of the Labour Party latched on to equally powerful and equally malign anti-Western movements which hate not just the worst of our society but its best: democracy, human rights and sexual equality.

Blimp thinking of Tiffin and trying to wrap up his immortal peroration,

Unless Labour changes very fast and very soon, it will cease to be a force for good in the world. I hope I am wrong but I can’t see that change happening in my lifetime.

Why, O Why?

I have not left the left, it’s the left that’s left me…….

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Political Confusion on the European Union Gains Ground on the Left: Jacques Sapir and the Front National.

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Selling Your Soul to Mr. Putin

Jacques Sapir: Red/Brown Alliance Against European Union. 

There is an excellent French Blog site which deals in “political confusionism”.

Back in July it picked up on a development that’s hit the headlines in France over the last few days: the call by “left” economist Jacques Sapir for an alliance with the Front National. (JACQUES SAPIR, UN HOMME DE GAUCHE ?).

Like many people (including we note floating voter Tariq Ali who got a column in Le Monde recently hinting darkly at ‘the left’ turning against Europe) he is claiming that the crisis in Greece shows the need for a left-wing anti-European Union stand.

Sapir has gone one stage further than the NO2EU UK left and indicated that he would be favourable to this:

 L’économiste «hétérodoxe» préconise une alliance des partis anti-euro, regroupant le Front de gauche et le Front national.

Like certain British Labour politicians he has a fondness for evoking memories of the Resistance.

Sapir gave the Conseil national de la résistance (CNR) as his model.

Sapir is no unknown: a prominent economist, and Director of the Centre d’études des modes d’industrialisation (CEMI-EHESS), he has been close to the Front de Gauche, to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de Gauche and to the “sovereigntist” former Socialist Minister (and leader of the left tendency inside the Parti Socialiste, CERES), Jean-Pierre  Chevènement.

On the Confusionisme site  Ornella Guyet adds,

Prominent in the current debate surrounding the Greek crisis, a prominent supporter of  “de-globalization” – whose theories inspired the Arnaud Montebourg’s (1) discourse on the question – he is also an expert on Russia, known for his softness towards  the Putin regime, equally famous for his careerism, his homophobia and his alliances with the far right in Europe. His site Russeurope, given legitimacy by legitimized by its academic pretensions Jacques Sapir is a frequent guest of  the salons of the Russian embassy, ​​as well as seminars of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, a think tank based in Paris to promote the image of Putin’s Russia in Europe. Not surprisingly, we find his name in several pro-Kremlin media, Voice of Russia and Sputnik News.

More recently, obsessed by the Euro, he has become ever closer to the “sovereigntists” of the Right:  the groupuscule Debout la République

Sapir claims that the Front National has “changed” from its far-right origins, and that in any case he was talking about an alliance of the right and left involving a party that has “come from” this transformed FN.

Immediate reaction on the left to Sapir’s ideas was not favourable.

Eric Coquerel, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s close ally,  called this strategy “an aberration”. He continued, “Given the scale of the current crisis, we must offer an alternative to  fascist and xenophobic reactions. Their nation is not ours. ”  Clémentine Autain (Ensemble), a leader of the Left Front  has said that “The phenomenon is not massive…but it  gives credibility to the FN . “

It is however well known that Mélenchon’s party is openly flirting with the idea of a “Plan B”, that is, leaving the Euro, “if a renegotiation of EU treaties fails .”

They plan an “internationalist summit for Plan B” to be held in late 2015 which bring together those in the like minded  “left” who agree to work together on the subject. (More here)

Sovereigntism, that is the belief that the “nation” has the supreme right to decide “its” fate – faced with international forces, from the European Union to NATO – appears to be gaining ground on the British left as well. The collapse of sections of the left to the belief that Scotland would be better off governed by its “ain folk”  in the SNP was one indication. After the Greek crisis, anti-European Union voices have become louder, promoting perhaps a return to a belief in a road to socialism outside of the EU.

At a time when fear of ‘foreigners’ – migrant workers, refugees in particular – is reaching an all-time high in Europe, playing with nationalism seems a dangerous gamble.

(1) Left-wing of the Parti Socialiste. Montebourg scored  17,19 % in the first round of the open PS French Presidential “primaries” of the party, which involved 2,700,000 voters who signed a declaration saying the backed the values of the left – without anybody wetting themselves about “infiltration”.

Free Film-Maker Oleg Sentsov and anti-Fascist Oleksandr Kolchenko gaoled after unfair trial in Russia military court.

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Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenkoin the courtroom

Free Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko!

BBC.

A court in Russia has jailed Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov for 20 years for plotting terrorist acts in Crimea.

Sentsov, 39, was arrested in May 2014 during a protest against Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula two months earlier.

He pleaded not guilty and his family say he will appeal. The trial has been condemned by the US, EU and other film directors.

Russia denies accusations that he is a political prisoner.

Another Crimea activist, Alexander Kolchenko, who was being tried with Sentsov and also denies the charges against him, was sentenced to 10 years.

After the verdict was read out, both defendants sang the Ukrainian national anthem in the military court in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the case breached international law, while the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, said the process had been a “farce”.

Allegations of torture

Sentsov, best known for his 2011 film Gamer, was accused of setting up a terrorist group. Prosecutors say he was involved in two attempted arson attacks in the city of Simferopol, ordered by extremist Ukrainian group Right Sector.

The Ukrainian government says he is being punished for being a Crimea-based pro-Ukrainian activist.

Russia: Ukrainian film-maker’s 20-year jail sentence compared to ‘Stalinist-era show trials’.

 Amnesty Statement:

 Long prison sentences handed down to two Ukrainian activists by a Russian military court today are a blatant injustice and are comparable to “Stalinist-era show trials” of dissidents, Amnesty International has said.

The sentences came after a patently unfair trial marred by credible allegations of torture.

The court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced film director Oleg Sentsov to 20 years and ecologist and anti-fascist activist Aleksandr Kolchenko to ten years on “terrorism” charges, charges which they both deny and claim were politically-motivated. The two were accused of arson attacks on pro-Russian groups following Russia’s occupation of Crimea last year.

International humanitarian law requires that Russia, as the occupying power in Crimea, prosecute any defendants in civilian courts under Ukrainian law.

Amnesty attended the trial, including today’s sentencing hearing in Rostov-on-Don.

Amnesty International’s Eurasia Researcher Heather McGill said:

“This whole trial was designed to send a message. It played into Russia’s propaganda war against Ukraine and was redolent of Stalinist-era show trials of dissidents.

“This trial was fatally flawed and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment have been ignored by the court. Both Oleg Sentsov and one of the main witnesses for the prosecution have alleged that they were tortured.

“Any testimony gained through torture and other ill-treatment must be thrown out, the ‘terrorism’ charges must be withdrawn, and Oleg Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko should either be released or face a fair trial in a civilian court.”

There has been extensive and detailed political coverage in the French language media (the story was headlined on the radio this morning) see:

La Russie condamne le réalisateur ukrainien Oleg Sentsov à vingt ans de prison. Le Monde.

Russie : Oleg Sentsov, réalisateur ukrainien condamné pour «terrorisme»  Le cinéaste et un jeune anarchiste, présents sur les barricades de Maidan à Kiev et contre l’annexion de la Crimée, ont été naturalisés de fait avant d’écoper de 20 ans de prison. Libération.

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Update:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2015 at 11:02 am

Sparticist League Backing ISIS: Once Again.

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Sparts Campaigning.

Spartacist League Forms Syrian Battalion in Support of ISIS

RAQQAH, SYRIA – Marking the first time since the Bolivian National Revolution that Trotskyists have rallied in armed defence of their values, members of the Spartacist League of Britain have travelled to “the Caliphate” in order to defend ISIS from “imperialism”.

The formation of the so-called “Hammer Battalion” follows an announcement earlier this week of Spartacist League support for ISIS military victory.

“However, a senior ISIS source has hinted that not everyone in the movement is supportive of the group’s actions: “They spend more time condemning others for not being ISIS enough than actually fighting. Three of our best men were killed last month in a fight over whether the Soviet Union was a ‘deformed’ or ‘degenerated’ worker’s state.”

See more on Workers’ Spatula.

The source for this?

SL/B National Conference Summer 2015. The fight for a Leninist party

We must guard against a tendency, noted in the documents adopted by the December 2014 plenums of the ICL International Executive Committee and the SL/US Central Committee, to succumb to the pressure bearing down on our party to weaken our opposition to imperialism. The reintegration of Crimea into Russia in the aftermath of an imperialist-sponsored, fascist-infested coup in Kiev and the referenda for “self-rule” in the East Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk were largely met with howls of outrage by the liberal and reformist left in the West…. We took a correct, Leninist stance in forthrightly declaring “Crimea is Russian” and in defending the right to self-rule in Eastern Ukraine.

The US, supported by Britain, is now at war with the Islamic State (ISIS), which was initially funded by extremist Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. [An IS motion of 23 October 2014 said:] “We have a military side with the reactionary ISIL when it engages in military conflict with the imperialists and their local forces on the ground, including the Iraqi Kurdish pesh merga, the Baghdad government, Shi’ite militias and the Syrian Kurds. We give no political support to any of these retrograde forces.”…

The justification?

Here is some background:

Workers Vanguard 3rd of April 2015.

It is the duty of class-conscious workers everywhere, particularly in the U.S., to oppose all wars and occupations carried out by the imperialists. When the U.S. began air strikes against ISIS last year, we explained that “any force, however unsavory, that attacks, repels or otherwise impedes U.S. forces strikes a blow in the interests of the exploited and the oppressed” (“U.S. Out of Iraq! No Intervention in Syria!” WV No. 1051, 5 September 2014). We take a military side with ISIS when it targets the imperialists and forces acting as their proxies, including the Baghdad government and the Shi’ite militias as well as the Kurdish pesh merga forces in Northern Iraq and the Syrian Kurdish nationalists. This does not mean we give the slightest political support to the reactionary ISIS butchers.

 

Workers Hammer(UK) Winter 2014 – 15.

Many liberals and reformist organisations, while claiming to oppose the imperialists’ intervention in Syria/Iraq, are simultaneously backing the Kurdish forces that are acting as imperialist proxies. In the battle for the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria, the US has carried out airstrikes against ISIS and dropped arms and other supplies to fighters on the ground, mainly from the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is allied to the nationalist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in Turkey. PYD military forces are acting as ground troops and spotters for the US imperialists, thus tying the fortunes of the oppressed Kurdish population to the imperialists’ war against ISIS. While we uphold the right of national self-determination for the Kurdish people, who are oppressed by the bourgeois regimes in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, “championing the Kurds in the current conflict can only mean lending support to imperialist plunder”, as we explain in “Down with US/British war against ISIS!”

Workers Vanguard. 31st October 2014.

ISIS today is in battle against the local tools of U.S. imperialism, the main enemy of the world’s working people. A setback for the U.S. in Syria might give pause to Washington in its military adventures, including by encouraging opposition at home. Such opposition adds to the tinder that must be ignited in class struggle against the capitalist rulers who, in their quest for ever greater profits, beat down the workers, black people and immigrants.

In our opinion the Sparts show the ultimate degeneration of revolutionary “defeatism” (wishing the destruction of one’s own ‘ruling class’ and its military).

This is where it led during the Second World War: saying that the Allies, backed by the French Resistance, were the same as the SS and Vichy.

One might say that the ultimate blame for this moral bankrupcy can be put at Trotsky’s feet.

As this indicates –  on the eve of the Second World War.

Trotsky sharply rejected any notion of taking sides in the war:

By his victories and bestialities, Hitler provokes naturally the sharp hatred of workers the world over. But between this legitimate hatred of workers and the helping of his weaker but less reactionary enemies is an unbridgeable gulf. The victory of the imperialists of Great Britain and France would not be less frightful for the ultimate fate of mankind than that of Hitler and Mussolini. Bourgeois democracy cannot be saved. By helping their bourgeoisie against foreign Fascism, the workers would only accelerate the victory of Fascism in their own country. The task posed by history is not to support one part of the imperialist system against another but to make an end of the system as a whole.

Just as in 1914, Trotsky was urging his followers to swim against the stream. In doing so, he cut through the ideological claptrap of the ‘democracies’ opposed to Hitler. What he failed to do was to offer any real indication of a strategy which would enable the tiny Trotskyist current to relate to the broad anti-Fascist movement that would emerge in occupied Europe.

More:  With the Masses, Against the Stream  Marxists Archive.

Ian Birchall, the author of the article cited above, is a lot more forgiving to the “errors” that resulted from these words than the Tendance is.