A provocation against the conference of the GMI
The Liaison Committee of Communists (LCC) regroups organizations that appeal to Trotskyism in several countries (CWG of New Zealand, CWG of United States, RWG of Zimbabwe …)
The New Zealand group led by Brown had for ten years approved and spread the Third World deliriums (disguised as “permanent revolution”) of the Morenoite sect LOI of Argentina and of the ILTF, a small international current that sees revolutions everywhere (recently in Ukraine and Syria). On the order of its caudillo Munzer, the CWG NZ had publicly attacked in 2003 Lucha Marxista of Peru (accused of being “Polpotist”), and in 2004 the Groupe Bolchevik of France (as “pro-imperialist”). Later the American group (that was then called HWRS), by joining in 2009 the ILTF-FI, had also taken up the same slander against the GB. All these groups were excluded in 2013 from the ILTF-FI by Munzer for a pretended capitulation in front of imperialism. The HWRS-CWG have then recognized that they did not speak French and that, by reading again, their interpretation of the policies of the GB in 2009 was false. On the other hand, even after its split from the Argentinian sect, never did the New Zealand CWG make the slightest self-criticism of its accusations against internationalist communists of Peru and France.
With patience, noting the break from Munzer and the designation of this new regrouping, the Permanent Revolution Collective (CoReP), whose goal is to regroup internationalist communists from the whole world to construct the revolutionary workers’ international, has several times contacted it after it appeared. In September 2015, the international bureau of the CoReP sent to the LCC its project of international platform, and in November 2015 a project on the Middle East, proposing a meeting on the occasion of the 3rd conference of the Groupe Marxiste Internationaliste (French section of the CoReP) in March 2016. In November 2015, the national leadership of the GMI invited the LCC and all groups belonging to it to its conference. The LCC accepted to participate to it by sending a political contribution on the possibilities of getting closer (February 28th, 2016). Even if these did not take into account any resolution of the CoReP, nor the project of platform, but rested on prejudices and impressions, the CoReP responded in detail (March 19th, 2016).
On the day before the conference of the GMI, March the 25th, 2016, the bureau of the CoReP met the delegation of the LCC (a leader of the CWG of the United States, the single militant in Brazil). On this occasion, the spokespersons of the LCC reduced divergences to the analysis of the situation in Syria (the LCC upholding that a revolution deepens there; the CoReP thinking that the regional and local counter-revolution has crushed the beginning of a revolution). A difference of analysis on the conjuncture of a country (in which neither the CoReP, nor the LCC are present) belongs to normal debates between internationalist communists and is compatible with belonging to the same international organization.
The next day March the 26th, in front of dumbfounded militants (among whom some act under the flag of Trotskyism since more than 40 or even 50 years, and others were born in Algeria or in Turkey), Christopher Clark read in English a long declaration full of digressions that characterized, by the way, the CoReP as belonging to the “imperialist left”.
The same day and the next one March the 27th, the bureau of the CoReP has several times met the representatives of the LCC to ask them to withdraw the characterization of the CoReP as imperialist. After consulting their American and New Zealander correspondents, they refused, while remaining unable to explain the social nature of the so-called Syrian revolution, nor to name the political forces that would lead it.
The LCC has just shed light on the true political reason for its break with the Permanent Revolution Collective. Obviously, it is not a question of nuance of analysis of the conjuncture. It suffices to read its proclamation entitled “Hands Off Aleppo: Victory to the Syrian Revolution!” published in its Internet journal, Living Marxism (“Hands Off Aleppo: Victory to the Syrian Revolution!” https://livingmarxism.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/hands-off-aleppo-victory-to-the-syrian-revolution/). In reality, the LCC prefers the counter-revolutionary Islamists to the internationalist communists.
Municipal democracy or dictatorship of the proletariat?
The LCC disguises its capitulation in front of Islamism by inventing a democratic revolution without democracy, a permanent revolution without expropriation and soviets without workers’ party. The proclamation puts “revolution” in each sentence, without ever telling what it consists in or who leads it. Sometimes Brown recognizes that it is not a permanent revolution, which takes a socialist character. Indeed, he describes it as a “national” and “democratic revolution”.
The revolution is an authentically Syrian national democratic revolution against imperialism … The Arab and Kurd national revolutions …
There could thus be authentic national and democratic revolutions at the epoch of imperialism. It is a really strange Trotskyism as that of the LCC.
While the Chinese revolution is a bourgeois-democratic revolution, it is at the same time a revolution of national liberation spearheaded against the domination of foreign imperialism. (Stalin, The prospects of the revolution in China, November the 30th, 1926)
In a disjointed and incoherent way, the “democratic revolution” according to Brown would rest upon “soviets” since 6 years. Those strange “soviets” appeared without a role of the working class and without a workers’ party. It is like calling wine a beverage made without grapes.
In Syria after 5 years of civil war where the armed revolution is in control of large parts of Syria, the revolution has not been defeated. Against all that U.S. and Russian imperialism and their proxies can throw at it, the revolution survives. Do we call for a peace deal with imperialism to partition Syria that betrays that revolution? No! Already the revolution has built new institutions based on popular democracy to administer the territory it occupies.
In other words here is the Permanent Revolution in the flesh. To defend the immediate bourgeois rights to live and of freedom of expression, workers, poor farmers, street vendors etc., have created workers rights through their armed struggle against “democratic” imperialism and their Syrian dictator Assad!
The way the LCC envisages them, they are not the councils created by the working class and the peasantry, in which intervenes a revolutionary workers’ party of the Bolshevik type. There is no double power, but local and municipal institutions that are under the control of those who have weapons, the various anti-Assad bourgeois and Kurdish nationalist militias, without any party of the working class.
Opportunists of every shade and hue easily invoke the glorious examples of workers’ history. The LCC says thus “The situation is critical. Aleppo is our Paris Commune.” Similarly, all articles of the pro-imperialist site Linux Beach linked to in the proclamation (see below) end with “Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!” But during the Paris Commune, the people rose and took arms against monarchists allied to the Prussian invader.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, however, revolutionary epochs have advanced a higher type of democratic state, a state which in certain respects, as Engels put it, ceases to be a state, is “no longer a state in the proper sense of the word”. This is a state of the Paris Commune type, one in which a standing army and police divorced from the people are replaced by the direct arming of the people themselves … This is the type of state which the Russian revolution began to create in 1905 and in 1917. A Republic of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Peasants’, and other Deputies, united in an All-Russia Constituent Assembly of people’s representatives or in a Council of Soviets, etc., is what is already being realized in our country now, at this juncture. It is being realized by the initiative of the nation’s millions, who are creating a democracy on their own, in their own way. (Lenin, The tasks of the proletariat in our revolution, April the 10th, 1917)
Alas, there is no soviet in Aleppo. There is neither a democratic revolution going on in the whole country. Quite to the contrary, starting in 2012 a genuine totalitarianism pounced on the majority of the population, on the part of the regime (supported by Iran’s clerical regime and by Russian imperialism), on the part of Islamists of various obediences (supported by clerical regimes of Turkey and the Gulf and by American, French and British imperialisms). And the reign of the Muslim Brotherhood or of jihadists (Daesh, Fatah al-Sham, etc.), which expels women from public life, is certainly not a progress compared to bourgeois democracy.
For a “non-sectarian Islamic republic”?
In the text, it is nowhere said that in Syria the working class must build its own organizations, independent from the bourgeoisie (trade unions, committees, etc.), nor that a revolutionary workers’ party is necessary. That should be astonishing on the part of a current that claims to be “communist”. The political solution, according to the LCC, consists in expelling the bad leaders from the good organizations.
The only way to defeat the imperialists and all their stooges is for the FSA ranks and YPG (Kurd Peoples’ Protection Units) ranks to throw out their bourgeois commanders and unite their democratic forces to build a revolutionary workers’ federation that allows for ethnic and religious freedom. To back such a front, internationalist workers need to fight their imperialist rulers at home!
For these strange Marxists, the FSA (split, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, linked to the Islamist governments of Turkey and the Gulf, allied to Fatah al-Sham, armed by the United States, fighting sometimes more Kurds than Assad’s troops) and the YPG (led from top to bottom by the Kurdish nationalist PYD-PKK, helped up to now by the American army) have no class nature. Anyway, those who should conquer those organizations do not have either a class nature: they are only “ranks”. The illusion is not new, even if the leaders of the CI who led the Chinese revolution to failure in 1926-1927 by maintaining communists inside the bourgeois nationalist party felt compelled, them, to speak of social classes.
One must transform further the Guomindang into an elective organization of the masses. That is possible and that is done inside the Guomindang; the workers must not cease to shift to the left the center of gravity of the Guomindang … we must struggle to take over the Guomindang. (Bukharin, The problems of the Chinese revolution, April 1927)
In fact, the entire opposition to Assad is presented as intrinsically anti-imperialist and revolutionary. The LCC prefers to close its eyes on the discrete support by the United States, France and Great Britain to some warlords, and the more open one by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Islamist organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood and of jihadists.
The two main facts about the resistance are that first, it is not significantly funded by the U.S. or its proxies. They are Syrian fighters many of whom defected from the Syrian army, not foreign ‘terrorists’. The ‘terrorists’ are the Assad regime and all the foreign mercenaries from Hezbollah to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Moreover, the U.S. blocked the provision of Surface to Air Missiles (SAMS) to the rebels fearing a revolution that would not stop at overthrowing Assad but spark an armed Arab uprising from Tunisia to Bahrain to kick out imperialism and its dictators.
The LCC includes in “the resistance” the Syrian section of al-Qaeda that has recently undertaken a facelift, hiding its links with the head office, with the agreement of the latter.
Second, the resistance has become strengthened by Islamic currents such as al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) designated by Russia and the U.S. as ‘terrorists’ because they want an ‘Islamic State’. Yet this is a state defined by Fateh al-Sham as a non-sectarian Islamic republic. It is because the revolution is an authentically Syrian national democratic revolution against imperialism that it continues to win popular support and control large areas of the country refusing to sign a cease-fire deal that would allow Assad to stay in power.
The good jihadists “strengthen” the “resistance”, they belong to the “revolution” of the LCC!
Note the trust given to the “non-sectarian Islamic republic” that these jihadists could promise. This is worth the promises of “democracy” by Khomeini in 1978, to which all opportunists, in particular the American SWP, gave credit: having launched the fanaticized lumpen against revolutionary organizations, women, Kurds as soon as 1978, taken power in 1979 with the tolerance of American imperialism and the support of almost the whole labor movement (Tudeh, Fedayeen, HKE, etc.), in 1988 he had thousands of activists of the labor movement and of national minorities massacred, among which those who had courageously raised the flag of Trotskyism (HKS).
Let us recall that the LCC talks about the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda was established by Bin Laden, a capitalist from Saudi Arabia, with the initial support of American imperialism to struggle against the USSR in Afghanistan. It rounded on its master, but its main victims are not American ministers and generals. Morenoites such as the LOI and its ILTF-FI support al-Qaeda as anti-imperialist, but this organization accuses all Jews of the world of Zionist colonization, it makes all inhabitants (including workers) of imperialist countries responsible of the misdeeds of their bourgeoisie, and it threatens even Shia Muslims. Thus al-Qaeda attacked places of worship of other religions in Pakistan (2002, 2010), in Tunisia (2002), in Turkey (2003), in Iraq (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012); non-Arab national minorities in Iraq (2004, 2009); tourists in Indonesia (2002, 2005), in Kenya (2002), in Egypt (2004, 2005), in Jordan (2005), in Mauritania (2007), in Yemen (2008), in Pakistan (2008) and in Morocco (2011); a sports event in Pakistan (2010); a television channel in Iraq (2010); Jewish children in France (2012); artists in France (2015); doctors in Yemen (2002) and humanitarian workers in Jordan (2003) and in Niger (2010); buildings where thousands of waged employees worked in the United States (1993, 2001), workers in maritime transport (2002), a bank where several dozens of waged employees worked in Turkey (2003), commuter trains in Spain (2004) and in India (2006), a transporter ferry in the Philippines (2004) and the underground in Great-Britain (2005) …
The goal of Fatah al-Sham (al-Nusra) is, as for Daesh, Sharia and the caliphate.
IS and al-Qaeda differences, at least at leadership level, tend to revolve more around tactics and strategy than goals … For both, the aspirations remains a caliphate … Theologically, the cornerstone of both group’s armed campaign is the doctrine of the “tafkir” — deeming persons or groups appearing to be Muslim in fact no Muslim, thereby permitting them to be killed with impunity. (International Crisis Group, Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, 14 March 2016, p. 26)
Against Russian imperialism … but not against American one?
The LCC puts forward a program in four points.
This forces all those who profess to be revolutionaries to come out in defence of the Syrian Revolution and provide material aid on all four major fronts:
- (1) recognising that the regime is fascist and must be overthrown and not appeased by fake imperialist deals including ceasefires and/or the partition of Syria;
- (2) opposing the bourgeois factions masquerading as the FSA leadership against the revolution and replacing this leadership with those fighters committed to defeating Assad and all the imperialist interventions in Syria;
- (3) fighting the jihadists who want to usurp the national rights of Syrians, Iraqis and Kurds to form a reactionary bourgeois Islamic State;
- (4) exposing and defeating the fake left that sides directly or indirectly with the Assad regime and/or with Russian imperialism as defending ‘democracy’ against ‘terrorism’.
Point 1 declares that only the Assad regime would be fascist. The LCC does not draw any lesson from revolution and Islamist counter-revolution in Iran in 1978-1979. It closes its eyes on jihadists, those adventurers who fanaticize lumpen against communism, democracy and national, religious and sexual minorities. Their goal is not a simple “bourgeois State” (point 3), but a real totalitarianism that crushes the labor movement, as much as the Assad regime.
Note for point 2 how military pugnacity replaces class independence of the proletariat. Next, in point 3, the LCC distinguishes subtly the bad jihadists (those who want “a reactionary bourgeois Islamic State”) from the good ones (those who want “a non-sectarian Islamic republic”). This kind of Internet communists must really make the Islamist chiefs laugh. Let them take advantage of it: one day the real Arab and Kurdish communists will send them back to the dustbins of history.
Point 4 anchors a link to an article of the site Linux Beach (http://claysbeach.blogspot.fr/2016/08/amy-goodman-should-adress-this.html) that claims that by reneging his promise to militarily intervene if the regime made use of chemical weapons, Obama provoked a devastating effect in the region; then the article reproaches the pacifist organization Democracy Now its campaign against a military intervention of the United States. Thus, the LCC denounces the friends of Russian imperialism, but agrees to associate itself with supporters of a military intervention by American imperialism! To oppose the bombings of Aleppo is right, but one must also oppose those of Mosul in Iraq.
Sharia rechristened “permanent revolution”
For the Communist League, the revolution in permanence meant that the proletariat must remain independent not only of the democratic bourgeoisie but of the petty-bourgeoisie:
German workers … themselves must contribute most to their final victory, by informing themselves of their own class interests, by taking up their independent political position as soon as possible, by not allowing themselves to be misled by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeoisie into doubting for one minute the necessity of an independently organized party of the proletariat. Their battle-cry must be: The Permanent Revolution. (Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League, March 1850)
The aim of the association is the overthrow of all privileged classes, their subjugation by the dictatorship of the proletariat which will maintain the revolution in permanence until communism, the last organizational form of the human family, will be constructed. (Statutes of the World Society of Revolutionary Communists, April 1850)
For the 4th International, the permanent revolution meant that there is no more democratic revolution separated for a whole period from socialist revolution, that only the working class can lead a revolution at the epoch of imperialism and that this revolution becomes necessarily internationalist and socialist:
No matter what the first episodic stages of the revolution may be in the individual countries, the realization of the revolutionary alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry is conceivable only under the political leadership of the proletariat vanguard, organized in the Communist Party. This in turn means that the victory of the democratic revolution is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat which bases itself upon the alliance with the peasantry and solves first of all the tasks of the democratic revolution. (Trotsky, Theses on the permanent revolution, November 1929)
The leaders of the LCC are falsifiers. They revel in a “Permanent Revolution” without any expropriation, without intervention of workers and without revolutionary workers’ party. According to them, it can even be entrusted to jihadists.
This counterfeiting does not present itself as the conscious policy of the working class, thus of a revolutionary workers’ party; it seems to appear spontaneously like daisies blooming on a meadow. In this the LCC accentuates in a gross way the opportunism of liquidators of the 4th International of the years 1950. Pablo and Mandel, joined in the years 1960 by Hansen and Moreno, envisaged that the struggle of the masses would transform bourgeois nationalist or Stalinist organizations into genuine revolutionary forces, whose leaders would become “unconscious Trotskyists”. In fact, these revisionists of Trotskyism capitulated in front of the Stalinist bureaucracy that attempted to prevent world revolution while finding allies in the nascent Arab bourgeoisie.
Today opportunism takes an even more pitiful and reactionary aspect, since the Arab bourgeoisie, be it its fraction born of the falsely “socialist” pan-Arabism or its openly anticommunist clericalist fraction, has nothing more to bring to the masses. Marx wrote one day that tragedy sometimes repeats itself as a farce. The “revolution” of the LCC is the revival, to a laughable scale and in a caricatural way, of the illusion of revolution by stages and of the capitulation in front of Arab, Persian, Turkish or Kurdish ruling classes. Brown and his deputies call “revolution” sometimes chit-chat of a handful petty-bourgeois democrats who call for help Western imperialist powers, sometimes counter-revolution led by clericalist fascists.
The explanation of the slander against internationalist communists resides in opportunism towards one’s own imperialism and in complacency towards Arab counter-revolution.
Those who confuse Sharia and Bolshevism, who pretend that jihadists “strengthen” “permanent revolution” and who accredit to workers their “Islamic Republic”, are not a vanguard but a rearguard that learns nothing from history and can only lead the working class to defeats.
The social revolution in Syria and in the Middle East goes through the break from the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie, through the construction of a workers’ party. Only the mobilization of workers can impose democratic freedoms, women’s equality, the separation of religions from State, the rights of national and religious minorities, the armament of the people by itself. By taking the head of all oppressed and exploited, the working class will not limit itself to democratic revolution, it will realize the control by workers on production and repartition, the creation of workers’ and popular councils, the expropriation of landlords and big capitalists, a workers’ and farmers’ government, the socialist federation of Mashriq.
Bureau of the Permanent Revolution Collective