Stopping Hitler versus stopping MilosevicWhy do you think I want to promote the idea that the imperialist bourgeoisie is a reliable friend of the Kosovan people?
There is a fair range of possibilities between them not caring a rat's ass, and being the only true and reliable friends of the Kosovans.
LP's position is not helped by keeping quiet about the national oppression of the Kosova Albanians and implying that anyone objecting to it is doing so in order to support their imperialist bourgeoisie.
There are contradictions within the ruling class and within members of the ruling class. 4 years ago I kept on denouncing the imperialist nature of the appeasement policies of the British government that was sending in troops to Bosnia, for patronising humanitarian reasons to escort food parcels past Serbian tanks positioned around Sarajevo shelling it routinely month after month. That was imperialist, in class character, although not a shot was fired by those troops, and in some ways *because*, despite being there, not a shot was fired by them!
But when Blair says of 2 million Kosovo Albanians, 'these are our fellow human beings' it is more progressive than saying 'these are just another lot of back-biting balkans', or 'they are muslims, and we all know what we think about muslims'.
Clinton likes to be loved by everyone, but on a personal level it does seem that he is less racist than some. He is particularly at ease with afro-americans, and it seems to me likely he could feel the obligation to treat muslims the same way. Certainly Clinton in the earlier 90's was making more ethical noises about the muslims in Bosnia than John Major was.
But can the "imperialist bourgeoisie" be trusted? No.
Jon is right that "If the troops go in, part of their job will be to keep the Albanians firmly in line."
This secenario would be to send in 30,000 troops to defend a few territorial enclaves agree a cease fire that would effectively partition Kosovo on apartheid lines, and prevent the KLA organising guerillas to harass and defeat the Serbian troops.
The less imperialist line would be to send in ground troops, arm the KLA, and negotiate hard for human rights organisations, press agencies and all the features of civil society to have free access to all parts of Kosovo. (It is noteworthy that NATO briefings say little about the structures of civil society.)
Jon is notable for his reports on how he tries to discuss politics with other working people. Opinion in favour of sending in ground troops is less strong in the USA but it is growing substantially in Britain and France.
The purpose of spelling out a more progressive as against a less progressive basis for doing so, is in order to unite with the progressive feelings of ordinary people that others like them should not be expelled from their homes, but to do it in a way that relevantly criticises the limitations of the approach of the imperialist bourgeoisie.
That is not a reformist way, it is the way of revolutionary reform.
It does something to aid the correction of an injustice in another continent but in a way that gets a hearing which undermines the claim of the imperialist bourgeoisie to lead the campaign for peace and justice in the world.
Now if you hold the same views as LP, such approach at all would be completely wrong because
a) the only line should be revolutionary defeatism of ones own imperialist bourgeoisie
b) There are no contradictions within the ruling class and within the imperialist state.
BUT I would say that an approach like the one I have outlined (which could be improved through discussion) would be better at uniting with people and getting a progressive point of view across. It would also be better in a small way at actually changing the world, rather than just analysing it with however devastating a critique.
In my message quoted below I picked out one line from the message from Philip Ferguson (the generality of which I agreed with) a line which clearly indicated to me a narrow approach to the history of WW2. My response was too brief - and clearly was put in a way which was asking for a slanging match, which I did not intend.
However, I DO think that a blanket condemnation of WW2 is fundamentally misguided and shows a tendency to argue from abstract principles - (a proceeding always condemned by Marx as utopian socialist) rather than a detailed class analysis.
Clearly WW2 had many aspects, but, having lived through it - I regard the way its aftermath led to the extension and success (very partial when seen from the view of the world situation today) of the anti-colonial struggle as being every bit as important as the defeat of European fascism. And I fail to understand how ANYONE in the Marxist tradition can suggest it was a time to stand aside because Germany, Italy, Britain and USA were (and are) imperialist powers. How Britain and USA were turned from their tacit support of fascism from the time of the Italian attack on Abyssinia, through the Spanish civil war and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia to participation with the USSR in a war to liberate Europe from fascism - is a story with many twists and turns - and 1939 to 1941 was a time of great difficulty for all on the left - and 1939-1940 is still generally regarded in Britain as the time of the "phoney war". [And I can well remember saying in 1943-4 - they'll HAVE to open the Second Front soon or the Red Army will liberate the whole of Europe - in the event D-Day was none too soon, and London was well battered by Hitler's V1s and V2s, with the bases just captured in the nick of time!]
Yes, Churchill saw the war as "Defense of the British Empire" and the USA was precipitated into what, had it not been for declaration of war on the USA by Hitler, could have been seen as a completely separate "imperialist war" between USA and Japan. BUT these wars were, in the event, tied together such that for a time (1941-45) the USSR-GB-USA-Free French alliance came to be seen (and WAS in its most important aspects) a continuation of the fight against fascism starting in Europe with the Spanish Civil War.
Being in the Army 1944-47 I know only too well how fragile that alliance was, with British plans (and in 1945 the Churchill government was replaced by a Labour government, in which the Foreign Secretary was the rabid anti-communist trade union leader Ernest Bevin!!!) to ensure their power base in Europe by re-installing the royal family in Greece (I was in Venezia Giulia at the time, with fears that our Brigade might be sent to Greece - but after the peace treaty with Italy we were moved to Egypt for participation in the Palestine conflict, and in November 1947 I came home for demob), "to keep the "reds in their place" in Italy and and France, and in plans for "the next war against Russia".
These were all issues in which I and many others were in conflict with our Government - but that does not make WW2 simply an "imperialist war". It is necessary to distinguish between the motives of governments and the objective needs and aims of the working class and the colonial peoples..... for whom WW2 was a "war of liberation". No Marxist worth his salt COULD stand aside in that war, and it is worrying to an oldster like me to see blanket condemnations of WW2 banded about on this list.
There is a lot more I could add, but perhaps the above is sufficient to indicate my attitude - which underline my assessment of the situation in the Balkans as Nato aggression.
And by the way - see how I sign myself:
As most people know, the American Trotskyist leaders were imprisoned by FDR under the Smith Act for speaking out against WWII. For the Fourth International, WWII was a complex phenomenon that incorporated 4 wars in one:
1. An interimperialist war between plunderers in which the United States and England were just as reactionary as Germany and Japan.
2. A just war of self-defense by the Soviet Union against Hitlerism.
3. A just war of oppressed nationalities against their colonial overlords whether allied or axis, including Japan, England and France.
4. A just war by working-people and peasants in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Resistance in France was the best example of such a just war.
The Trotskyists were imprisoned under the Smith Act not for "opposing" WWII, but for exposing the imperialist motives of the ruling-class as indicated in point one above. Since the ruling class prefers to keep its vampire profit lust a secret, they will deny freedom of speech to leftists who want to point this truth out. They imprisoned the SWP leaders for the same reason they went after Daniel Ellsberg during Vietnam. It is considered deeply subversive to break through the propaganda lies of capitalist governments when they go to war. Some leftists, including the CPUSA, identified the interests of the workers with the war aims of the superrich. US soldiers died by the tens of thousands in the Pacific theater to make the region safe for rubber, oil, banking, construction, railroad and shipping companies. We resented another vulture--Japan--picking at the flesh of China, the Philippines, and other of our post-1898 conquests. This did not matter to Earl Browder, who viewed FDR as being the reincarnation of Lincoln. Needless to say, the only slavery in the Far East was wage slavery and FDR had no intention of uprooting that.
Furthermore, the SWP advocated a revolutionary armed struggle against Hitler modeled on the Spanish Civil War popular militias. They argued that armies under ruling-class leadership with their officer corps would not be as effective as those under working-class control. While they were doomed to be in a small minority due to the ideological lock the CP had on left opinion back then, their case was actually quite powerful. If you study the Spanish Civil War, you will learn that the POUM militias were far more effective than the CP-led regular army which was defending the interests of the Spanish landlords while fighting against Franco. When the Popular Front troops repressed strikers and peasants occupying the land on rural estates, they ensured Franco's victory. All this is depicted in Ken Loach's "Land and Freedom".
Chris Burford wrote, "On politics I think that we are moving towards global government. We cannot resist this. We can try to outflank it. We can try to divert it in a progressive direction."
Chris seems to have been making a rather curious argument. Perhaps, one of the most surprising aspects of it has been the fact that his argument concerning global government and why Marxists should collaborate with their own bourgeoisie in its formation is analogous to the arguments that Marx & Engels gave for their support of German unification even under the conservative auspices of Bismarck. For Marx & Engels, German unification (even under right-wing auspices) was progressive because in their judgement, a united Germany would be able to industrialize more rapidly, thereby leading to the more rapid development of an industrial proletariat which would in turn grow increasingly stronger politically. Also, a united Germany would almost immediately become one of the great European powers, thereby constituting a check on Czarist Russia which Marx & Engels viewed as a fountainhead for reactionary politics in Europe.
Marx & Engels also gave their critical support to the Prussian side in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. They supported that war precisely because they correctly foresaw that Bismarck would use to accomplish German unification. They also correctly predicted that the war would end with the defeat of Louis Napoleon, which would open the door for revolutionary uprisings in France. In fact, following the capitulation of Louis Napoleon, Marx & Engels withdrew their support for the Prussians when they saw that Prussian troops would be used to help Thiers crush the Paris Commune.
Chris Burford seems to be pushing arguments analogous to those that Marx & Engels used to justify their support for Prussia in the Franco- Prussian War. In this case, Burford sees the war against Yugoslavia (Serbia) as one which will help facilitate the political unification of the EU. Just as M & E saw the unification of Germany as progressive, so Burford see the political unification of Europe as similarly progressive. Likewise, just as the war against France, led to the destruction of a reactionary regime, so Burford sees Serbia as being governed by a reactionary, "social fascist" regime. Apparently, Chris thinks a military defeat of this regime would open the door for its possible overthrow and the emergence of more progressive forces within Serbia.
By framing Chris' argument in this way in analogy with M &E's arguments for their critical support for Prussia, I have attempted to present his arguments in their strongest form. By the same token, this helps to expose a number of assumptions, that merit examination, and which to me seem rather questionable. Is the political integration of the EU as progressive a step as Chris thinks? I think that one's answer to that question will depend in large part on whether one thinks that capitalism can still be progressive in our time, or whether as most contemporary Marxists seem to believe (although there are some notable exceptions), capitalism has long since past the time when it could play a progressive role. To many observers, the political integration of the EU looks more likely to augment the power of international capital, and will make it not only harder to overthrow or even to influence in a reformist manner.
Chris has also been pushing analogies to WW II when Marxists did collaborate with "their" bourgeoisies in the struggle against fascism and National Socialism. He sees the situation in Yugloslavia as constituting a parallel situation which merits a similar collaboration. But it is hard to perceive the parallels that Chris sees. WW II constituted a life-and-death struggle between the fascist powers and an alliance of the bourgeois democracies with the former USSR. A victory for the fascists would have resulted in the destruction of the USSR and of the bourgeois democracies in the West. The destruction of bourgeois democracy under these circumstances would also have resulted in the destruction of the workers movements in the West as well. No such stakes are apparent in the present conflict in the Balkans. On the contrary it seems likely that the present war, there will have disastrous consequences for the left opposition within Serbia, not to speak of what is happening in Kosova. At this juncture it is hard to envision an outcome that will be particularly salutary from a progressive standpoint.
Also, Chris has characterized the Serbian regime as "social fascist." Putting aside for the moment, the question of whether the exact nature of that regime is particularly relevant in evaluating the appropriateness of NATO's actions against it, I would think that Chris would prefer to shy away from "social fascism" as an analytic category. The term is of Stalinist origins, and one think that a reading of how Stalin's contemporary acolytes like Lou Godena and Adolfo Olaechea have used this term in discussion on marxism-international would be sufficient to immunize any rational person from ever using this term again.
Are the Serbs fascist?
Those who support the war of aggression against Yugoslavia charge the opponents to this
war of not answering questions about atrocities. An example for the conclusion of such an
Some days ago the social democratic German Defence Minister, Rudolf Scharping, SPD leader from 1993 to 1995, used the term concentration camp in connection with the expulsions and civil war atrocities in Kosovo. This was based on a report by German TV channel ZDF that the central stadium of Pristina was reportedly used as a concentration camp - a report which was not only denied by the same channel on Thursday night but described as part of wartime propaganda.
Yesterday, Rudolf Scharping had been asked to comment on this remark during a press conference. He did not reiterate the term concentration camp.
In this joint press conference the leading figures within the red-green German Government, Schroeder (Chancellor), Scharping, and Fischer (Foreign Secretary), repeated their exhortations to hold out, i.e. to continue the bombing, accompanied by describing the fatal situation of the refugees in and outside Kosovo. The main argument for continuing the war of aggression now runs that the deportation of the Kosovo Albanians had been prepared long before the bombing started and that the expulsion had been planned by Milosovic in order to destabilize the neighbouring countries.
The governmental exhortations are in contrast to the emerging opposition of members of the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party at grass root level against this war af aggression. It looks like that the shock which the left wings of the SPD and the Green Party have been suffering from for more than a week is now giving way for some cautious opposition within these parties.
Concerning the winning over of Jewish public opinion against the Serbs, it is interesting to note that according to the press coverage that I have seen, in Israel as opposed to the US there has been considerable pro-Serb sentiment especially within the Israeli right. This is because many Israelis remember that during WW II Serbs and Jews in Yugoslavia fought side by side against the Croatian fascists. Also, it is said that in Israel the large population of immigrants from Russia has been rather sympathetic to the Russian position on the Kosovo war. And it is said that many Israeli rightists find the Serbs' notion of Kosovo as their Jerusalem as one that they can identify with.