Trot Guide November 2012 Update

SA & SP

I’m excited!

In a breakthrough for the pseudo-socialist Socialist Alliance (SA), Sue Bolton has been elected to Moreland Council! Sue becomes SA’s second local councillor, joining Sam Wainwright in Fremantle.

In Yarra Council, the Labor-loyal reformist left Socialist Party (SP) fared well in terms of votes, but unfortunately their share of the preciousss was nevertheless reduced by one with the departure of Anthony Main, leaving Steve Jolly to once again fly the red flag alone.

(There are close to 600 local councils in Australia, and many thousands of councillors, so long march through the (local) institutions will be long march.)

RSP & SAlt & Solidarity

Those God Delusional Cheerleaders for Capitalist Counterevolution Socialist Alternative (SAlt) have begun issuing a series of statements from current and former members of the Anti-Communist Opportunists of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) describing their reasons for joining SAlt. The most recent such statement comes from Van Thanh Rudd. For his part, veteran socialist and RSP member Max Lane has some Reflections on starting ‘anew’: some experiences from the Australian left (October 14, 2012).

On a less positive note, SAlt is also in some trouble in its heartland, the University of Melbourne. Thus “Solidarity at Melbourne Uni are in a campaign with the Liberal-dominated Clubs and Societies committee to disaffiliate us and sabotage the Marxism 2013 conference. Our agreement on the Russia question is relatively irrelevant; their rabidly sectarian shenanigans are the dominant barrier to unity and cooperation. Meanwhile the RSP (and the Alliance for that matter) are happy to discuss unity and have long worked with us in a comradely way.” In other words, a petition to disaffiliate the SAlt student club from the student union is in the works; members of SAlt blame their arch-rivals in Solidarity for the petition, but Some Guy reckons that’s bollocks.

At the other end of the scale, Australia’s best Trotskyist group has issued a stirring call-to-arms in defence of the beleagured Health Services Union: Police, Courts Hands Off the HSU!.

In political opposition to the pro-capitalist union tops, workers need a class-struggle leadership determined to take on the bosses and win. Such a leadership, linked to a revolutionary party would fight for nothing less than the overthrow of the whole rotting capitalist system through workers revolution. We demand: State out of the unions! Police, courts hands off the HSU!

As for the AWL, CL, CPA, CPA(ML), FSP, PLP, SEP and TP, more news as it comes to hand! In the meantime:

CPA(ML), ’13th Congress Resolution on the Working Class’, Vanguard, November 2012:

Based on our analyses of classes and class contradictions in Australia, the CPA (M-L) is of the view that the principal contradiction in Australia’s class struggle is between US economic and political domination and the overwhelming majority of the people, with the working class as the leading class in the anti-imperialist struggle for an independent, democratic and socialist Australia.

LATE BREAKING NEWS!

Damn.

I’ve only just discovered that the Communist League stood a candidate in the NSW local council elections in September. Joanne Kuniansky stood for Mayor of Canterbury and got 518 votes (0.79%) for her troubles.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2015 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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16 Responses to Trot Guide November 2012 Update

  1. LeftInternationalist says:

    The Spartacist site is always a good source for humour – even though I’m just a dirty anti-communist cheerleader for capitalist counterrevolution who launches calumnies against the former Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Vietnam from the safety of my bourgeois keyboard. I’m not sure if they realise it, but using ‘Menshevik’ as an insult is a little out of date. Besides, I like a few Mensheviks- like Martov. He was wrong about a few things, but he seems to have generally been a man of principle, and made some interesting criticisms of Bolshevism.

  2. @ndy says:

    From its hatred of the former Soviet Union to its treacherous call for workers to vote for the capitalist Greens in the 2008 elections (an act of class betrayal), your party’s traditions have more to do with the Menshevik opponents of the Russian Revolution than its Bolshevik leaders.

    Just sayin’.

  3. @ndy says:

    On the other hand, SAlt is now welcoming into its ranks uncritical cheerleaders for the Stalinist Castro regime in geographically distant Cuba; anti-Soviet pimps for racist Australian imperialism in thrall to the so-called “Bolivarian Revolution” of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. They are joining with others who understand that Chávez has no intention of implementing the massive redistribution of wealth necessary to seriously address poverty, and who in addition understand that, despite his outspoken criticism of US imperialism, Chávez is certainly not ideologically opposed to the system of global capitalism. And to call Cuba “socialist” because of a change in Castro’s foreign policy years after the so-called ‘revolution’ is to make a mockery of the vision of socialism articulated by Marx. Worse, if you accept that one-party, undemocratic states are socialist, the logical conclusion is to defend those forces that claim to have created socialism. This means at times defending atrocities, such as the 1989 massacre of hundreds of protesting students in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, or more recently (2003) the vicious crackdown on people trying to flee Cuba. Moreover, it condemns you to repeating the same mistakes of the Stalinised Communist Parties and to becoming an impediment to working class struggle for socialism. And while the expansion of capitalism in these countries has brought about the expansion of the working class, it is out of their struggles that socialism will be won, not by strengthening those who rule over capitalism in the name of socialism.

    So there.

  4. LeftInternationalist says:

    It does worry me a little bit that SAlt is becoming so chummy with the RSP. It’s not like the RSP is of any significance anyway. Though it does have people in it, like John Percy for example, who have a long history of activist experience on the left. And we all have to make compromises in some ways if we want to make the Australian left a powerful and unified force which can really win some battles, like improving living standards, extending democratic rights, civil liberties, empowering grassroots social struggles, ending homelessness, dealing with climate change, transitioning to sustainable energy, etc etc etc, fighting for the kind of things which will turn Australian into one big cuddly sharing and caring society of the free and equal. That doesn’t mean we should sacrifice our principles and opposition to currents on the ‘Left’ which succumb to authoritarianism or make excuses for authoritarian regimes- far from it. But there is a danger labelling every group/organisation but yourselves ‘Stalinists’ ‘sell-outs’, etc, and refusing on any basis to work with them.

    We should all remember what happened in Germany as Hitler rose to power. The Social Democrats were committed to legal, constitutional, and electoralist opposition to the Nazis (even though they built a self-defence organisation of militant workers- the Reichsbanner- which was held in reserve and almost never used) whereas the Stalinists had a completely mad approach of condemning the SDs as ‘social fascists’ precluding any kind of unity. For example: “Since the Social Democrats were fascists, the Stalinists said, there could be no bloc with them against the Nazis, their fellow fascists. In fact, at one point the Communists even allied with the Nazis against the Social Democrats, supporting a referendum against a Social Democratic government in one region. Nor could there be any effort to defend democratic rights against the Nazis, on the grounds that bourgeois democracy was also fascist and no different from the rule of fascism.” [Wayne Price] The Abolition of the State [2007], p.154.

  5. @ndy says:

    Yeah well, it’s not like RSP is simply becoming ‘chummy’ w SAlt, but actually merging w it. Otherwise, its importance obv depends upon yr perspective: for members of RSP, it’s quite important; for others, less so. As I see it, while the RSP is v v small (they claim about 30–50 or so members nationally), most members would appear to be leftists of long-standing (usually by way of the DSP). This includes not only John Percy (one of the founders of the DSP/SWP/SWL) but a number of others. And yeah, there are some major political diffs — traceable to wider political understandings embodied in their respective traditions — but RSP members have reportedly been assured that these diffs can be accommodated within SAlt and their public expression (!Viva Cuba! !Viva Venezuela!) tolerated.

    In terms of having these new friends, the benefits to SAlt are both experience but also international, and esp regional, connections. For the RSP, rescue from possible oblivion.

    As for the rest… the Australian left extends far beyond the Leninist tradition which, outside of, perhaps, the CPA for a period, has had little lasting impact upon the life of the country. The reforms you list — improving living standards, extending democratic rights, civil liberties, empowering grassroots social struggles, ending homelessness — have come about, to the extent that they have, largely through the efforts of ‘social democratic’ forces, principally the ALP-dominated labour movement: supplemented, to some extent, by a political consensus extending to some elements of the conservative establishment. This consensus has broken down over the last few decades, to the point that, for example, the Business Council is calling for raising the dole by a token amount, a minor gesture (made for reasons other than, er, ‘compassion for bludgers’) which the ALP vociferously opposes, and instead is proceeding to slash the social wage of single parents (mostly women). For social democrats — who exist on the fringes of the ALP and elsewhere, largely in non-party political institutions — one of their central problems is the fact that what anchored their ideology in the real world and gave it political weight — the trade union movement — has been massively reduced in terms of membership, and functions largely, but not entirely, as a sinecure for Labor hacks (hardly a new phenom but bad and getting worse).

    Blah blah blah.

    In any case, I’m not convinced that the most immediately relevant context for RSP/SAlt’s merger is Stalin’s manipulations of the German Communists.

  6. lumpnboy says:

    I too would doubt that Weimar Germany and its aftermath is the most immediately relevant period to use in trying to understand the stakes involved in the RSP deciding to join SA [Socialist Alternative] and SA deciding that the RSP’s political positions should not preclude such membership.

    But beyond that, I think your understanding of the problems of Left anti-fascism in Weimar, while more-or-less identical in essentials to the portrayal of that period by many in the far Left – including, so far as I can tell, the entire spectrum of those who claim to embody some flavour of Trotskyism, and some who draw inspiration from or claim to embody some flavour of Left Communism, amongst many others – is historically questionable. A simple tale with useful lessons, of the sort that has Leninists of all sorts convinced that they know enough about the Dutch German ‘Left Communists’, for example, because they have read Lenin’s ‘Left-wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder’, or at least heard about it.

    So far as I can tell, from memory, off the top of my head etc, such accounts seem partly formed by ignoring or underplaying certain realities while massively playing up certain others.

    So far as I can tell, in many accounts this includes, among other historically dubious representations: (a) over-playing and even, in some instances, falsifying supposed Communist Party/Nazi ‘collaboration’, as part of over-playing or falsifying the actual consequences of ‘Third Period’ hostility to social democratic parties; (b) under-playing both the extent of Communist involvement in anti-Nazi struggles – the grass-roots, courageous and increasingly casualty-heavy block-by-block struggles in key cities to try to restrict the ability of the Nazis to operate, establish headquarters and common meeting places, for instance – and the degree to which Social Democrats, including very senior police officers who were members of the Social Democrats, actively attempted to criminalize and crush such anti-Nazi struggles; (c) failing to give a serious account of the class composition of the struggles of the period and how this was reproduced as divisions within the proletariat (and depending upon how one wants to categorize people, divisions between (sections of) the proletariat and the ‘lumpen proletariat’ – and how the Social Democrats existed within the management and reproduction of such divisions, including through collaborating to have radicals or pretty much any stripe to their Left pushed out of the kind of industries that would have made strictly industrial struggle a possible site of common struggle, whether against the Nazis or of any sort. That the Communists existed increasingly as a party of those no longer working in the clichéd industrial enterprises of the proletariat did not just happen, of course. (On a somewhat different note, Left accounts of the crushing of the trade unions often ignore or underplay the number of Social Democratic trade union officials who survived and moved smoothly into positions within the apparatuses the Nazis created to manage the proletariat.)

    Of course, one can always point to the existence of the Soviet-mandated anti-Social Democrat position, and one can always put forward the unfalsifiable position that the Communists could have done more to try to create common anti-Nazi struggle with rank-and-file workers aligned with the Social Democrats. But, as with the previously-mentioned example of how Trotskyists think that they understand, on the basis of one, brief, polemical text from a quasi-sacred authority, the role played by the Left Communists in the struggles of the twentieth century, so in this case I think the mythology of KPD crazy-sectarianism does, if not nothing, then little to help understand the dynamics of the period.

    And just in case anyone is going to leap to silly conclusions that make such a statement necessary: I write none of this out of any love for the KPD of the period, for its politics or form of organisation or version of integrity. To the degree that historical allegiances in relation to struggles before I was born are something worth having or proclaiming – I tend to think the degree is, well, not-so-much, for most practical purposes – mine lie distinctly elsewhere.

  7. LeftInternationalist says:

    Of course Stalin’s manipulation of the German Communists is not directly relevant to the RSP/SAlt merger. I was just using it as an extreme example of the importance of left unity, even with people on the Left that one would usually disagree with. These kind of lessons become more important as we see increasing political polarisation because of the economic crisis- think of the rise of Golden Dawn, for example, and their links with the police. That’s something the whole Left in Greece needs to combat in a united, committed, and militant fashion.

    Speaking of Left Communists, I haven’t read Lenin’s pamphlet on Left wing communism, but I am a fan of Anton Pannekoek. I partly understand why the KPD was so hostile to the Social Democrats, beyond the ‘Third Period’ nonsense of Stalin. After all, the stellar first leaders of the party, Luxemburg and Liebknecht, were murdered by the proto-fascist Friekorp, who were let loose to ‘restore order’ and put down the German Revolution by none other than the Social Democrats- in other words, by people who they both had considered comrades, and the party they had both been longstanding and committed members of. But even this monstrous crime which the Social Democrats hold full responsibility for does not justify the mad, self-defeating sectarianism of the KPD.

    What really should worry us all is that those on the German Left who saw a way forward- namely, the Trotskyists and the anarchists- were simply too small and lacked enough influence to successfully prevent the rise of the Nazis.

  8. @ndy says:

    Leaving aside mid-20th C German politics, yeah, I suppose it would be nice if the Greek left could unite to oppose GD, but there’s a few issues that would need to be resolved — are/not being resolved — in the process. First, I suppose it would be useful to examine what the Greek left is doing currently to oppose GD. This is a question I dunno the answer to. And I dunno Greek, just English, and therefore have to rely on English-language sources and materials translated by Greek-speaking compas. Certainly, anarchists have been battling GD on the streets for some years, as documented by, for example, On the Greek Riots blog. Otherwise, Greek Left Review blog brings together var stuff of interest, including BBC journo Paul Mason’s recent blah comparing contemporary Greece to Weimar Germany. Among other things, he notes:

    On the walls somebody has spray-canned “Love or Nothing”. Right now there is a heck of a lot of nothing: shops closed, stripped, barred, graffitied, the fascias chipped off as ammunition in riots, burned out, gone.

    And nowhere is the human impact of this weird situation, clearer than when you talk to young people.

    I met Yiannis and Maria in a bare flat in Exarchia, the bohemian district of Athens. Despite their bruises and bandages they took some persuading to go on camera – anonymously and in their hoodies – to put on record their allegations of brutality in police custody.

    What struck me, beyond their allegations (which are denied by the police, but partially corroborated by a coroner’s report), was their detachment from regular life.

    They expected the police to be brutal, and to be fascists. They were outraged that they’d had to listen (they allege) to Golden Dawn propaganda in the police cells. But they were reluctant to bring a complaint within the system.

    For tens of thousands of young people life is already lived in a semi-underground way: squatting instead of renting; cadging food and roll-ups from their friends. Drifting back to their grandparents’ villages, sofa surfing. Yiannis is a sporadically employed technician in a cultural industry; Maria a highly qualified professional who waits table.

    The British author Laurie Penny has captured the situation in a recent memoir of a trip to Athens: “We came here expecting riots. Instead we found ourselves looking at what happens when riots die away and horrified inertia sets in.” (Penny L and Crabapple M, Discordia, Random House 2012)

    Horrified inertia is now seeping from the world of the semi-outlawed young activists into the lives of ordinary people.

    What people do – whether it is the black-hoodied anarchists in Athens or the young farmers in Thessaly on their third [or] fourth bottle of beer by lunchtime – is retreat into the personal.

    It’s no longer “the personal is political” – but the personal instead of the political. True, demonstrators still turn out in large numbers, as in last week’s General Strike. But they go through the motions – of demonstrating, of rioting even.

    “It’s just for show on both sides, the cops and the anarchists,” I was told by my Greek fixer as we legged it through stampeding people and tear gas.

    Secondly, abstract appeals for unity are one thing, concrete initiatives another. If there are somesuch initiatives that are esp noteworthy, feel free to point them out. For the anarchists, I dunno if there’s any new initiatives, anti-fascist work seemingly being an extension of otherwise routine activity (such as motorcades) having particular goals (trying to prevent GD from having access to/defending areas and peoples from attack). One of the chief difficulties, obv, being the support of Greek police for fascist vigilantism.

  9. @ndy says:

    To return to RSP/SAlt: the latest issues of both organisation’s magazines contain articles on their union; Allan Myers would appear to have articulated one of their principal, now reconcilable differences in his article on ‘Vietnam: How ‘state capitalism’ misleads Australian socialists’ (Direct Action, No.15, September 2009). Curiously, Myers doesn’t mention the repression by the Viet Minh of the Trotskyist movement, an account of which is available in Ngo Van’s book In the Crossfire.

    Ken Knabb, ‘Note on Stalinism and Trotskyism’:

    “The Stalinist regime … exerted a malignant influence on radical movements in other countries all over the world. The Third International (a.k.a. Communist International or Comintern) had been formed in Moscow in 1919 to unite revolutionary communist parties around the world, after most of the socialist parties of the Second International had betrayed their socialist and internationalist principles by rallying to their respective governments during World War I. Under Stalin’s control, the Comintern became increasingly centered on the goal of defending Stalin’s regime at all costs. To this end, over the next two decades it imposed a succession of zigzagging policies on the subservient Communist parties in other countries, most of which worked out disastrously.

    Following some “adventurist” debacles in the early 1920s (Germany 1923, Estonia 1924, etc.), the Comintern shifted to a defensive policy of compromises and alliances with various bourgeois forces around the world. The most dramatic failure of this policy was in China in 1925-1927. At the very moment when radical workers were attaining significant victories in the major cities of China, Stalin insisted that the Chinese Communist Party subordinate itself to the Guomindang, the nationalist party led by General Chiang Kai-shek. When the workers of Shanghai had taken over the city in April 1927, the Communist leaders thus urged them to welcome Chiang Kai-shek’s army and to turn in all their weapons. When they did so, Chiang’s army entered the city and massacred the radical workers by the thousands. (See Harold Isaacs’s The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution.) This catastrophic result of Stalin’s policy, which Trotsky had accurately predicted and sought to prevent, was undoubtedly an important factor in accounting for the readiness of Vietnamese radicals to rally to Trotskyist positions in the following years.

    In 1928 Stalin imposed another policy change, arguing that, after the initial post-World War I period of revolutionary upsurges (1917-1923) and then the ebbing, defensive period (1924-1928), the international workers’ movement had entered a new “Third Period” in which radical revolutions were once again on the agenda. The primary enemy was now supposedly the socialist parties, which the Stalinists referred to as “social-fascists.” Following this policy, the German Communist Party focused on attacking the German socialists while largely ignoring the Nazis, thereby helping pave the way for the Nazis’ seizure of power in 1933 (which soon led to the destruction of both the socialists and Communists in Germany).

    In 1935 the Comintern line flipped to an opposite extreme. Now it was supposedly necessary to ally with the socialists, and in fact with just about anyone who wasn’t outrightly fascist, including centrist and even conservative parties, to form a “united front against fascism.” This policy led to the victory of Popular Front governments in Spain and France in 1936. But the radical currents that had supported those fronts now found themselves compromised, their hands tied due to their alliances with more centrist forces… In France, the Popular Front government, pressured by a nationwide wave of strikes and factory occupations, passed some progressive legislation (40-hour week, paid vacations, right to strike, etc.), but did nothing to eliminate French colonialism and scarcely anything even to improve conditions in the colonies beyond a few minor reforms that were mostly not implemented. This put the Vietnamese Stalinists in the awkward position of having to defend the French colonial regime that they had been fighting so desperately for so long.

    Then the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939 caused yet another zigzag. Now the focus was once again on the struggle against France, while the menace of fascism was played down (although Nazi Germany was on the verge of invading France and Japan was on the verge of invading Indochina).

    Then, when Hitler double-crossed Stalin by invading Russia in 1941, it was once again a “war against fascism.” The Vietnamese Stalinists thus once again found themselves allied with their French colonial masters (although the colonial regime in Indochina was pro-Vichy and thus more or less allied with the fascists).

    Then, in the power vacuum following the defeat of the Japanese in 1945, at a time when the Vietnamese people were in a position to prevent any significant French forces from reentering the country (France was recovering from years of Nazi occupation and demoralized by the Vichy regime’s collaboration with the Nazis, and most of its armed forces were half way around the world), the Stalinist leader Ho Chi Minh made a succession of compromises with the Americans, the British, the Chinese and the French, which enabled him to augment his power, destroy the Trotskyists and other potential rivals, and assume total control over the nationalist forces, but which at the same time enabled the French forces to reenter the country, thereby leading to thirty more years of war to obtain the national independence that might well have been won in 1945. Only in 1975 was the country finally liberated from its foreign masters — while remaining subject to an indigenous Stalinist dictatorship.”

  10. LeftInternationalist says:

    Yes, I’m a great admirer of Ngo Van, and ignoring or downplaying the Viet Minh repression of all the Left in favour of uncritical admiration of Uncle Ho does a great disservice to Van and all those who struggled for the same cause. I’m quite sure that this will be a bone of contention among SAlt members familiar with Vietnmanese history and RSP members who are content to chant ‘Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!’ To me, the case of Vietnam is just one more example of the degeneracy and brutality of nationalism and Stalinism. Apparently, for the RSP, the anti-imperialism of fools (uncritically admiring nationalists/Stalinists leading national liberation movements) takes the place of principled, critical, democratic internationalism.

    The Alliance for Workers Liberty has got a good article on this topic:

    “On demonstrations in the 1960s, it was common to hear marchers chanting “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, we will fight and we will win”, in honour of the Vietnamese Stalinist who led the fight against US occupation. The best sections of the left replied with their own rhyme — Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh — how many Trots did you do in?” They were referring to the mass murder of the Vietnamese Trotskyists by Stalinist forces in 1945. Sixty years on, the massacre has largely been forgotten…

    Ho Chi Minh was the leading Stalinist in Vietnam for nearly four decades, heading the movement in Hanoi from 1945 until his death in 1969. He was the intellectual author of the murder of the Vietnamese Trotskyists, if not the actual executioner.

    In 1939 he wrote three letters that prepared the ground for the murders. He described the Trotskyists as “a band of criminals”, “running dogs of fascism” and “the most infamous traitors and spies” (10 May 1939). He went on to tell PCI members that Trotskyists were “collaborating with the invaders” and “sabotaging the movement” (7 July 1939). He claimed that they were receiving $100,000 a month from the Japanese. In a report written at the same time he said that the Trotskyists “must be politically exterminated”.

    In October 1945, the PCI paper published in Hanoi said: “The Trotskyist bands must be put down immediately” and in February 1946 the interior minister said: “Those who have pushed the peasants into taking over the estates will be punished without pity.”

    Ho Chi Minh told French socialist Daniel Guerin, who… made enquiries about Ta Thu Thau: “All who do not follow the line laid down by me will be broken.”

    Conway Hall, 13 September 1969 at a memorial meeting held after the death of Ho Chi Minh. Prominent member of the International Socialists (now SWP) Chris Harman to his credit denounced the murder of the Vietnamese Trotskyists. The representative of the North Vietnam regime stormed out.”

    http://www.workersliberty.org/node/4774

  11. lumpnboy says:

    I’ve read an English translation of those anti-Trotskyist letters by Ho Chi Minh, published, I think, as an appendix to a pamphlet about Vietnam put out by a group whose name and affiliation I can’t recall, but almost certainly one of the tendencies claiming to be Trotskyist.

    On a much smaller scale, even relative to the much smaller nature of the overall population concerned, there was repression in post-revolutionary Cuba of people and groups identifying as Trotskyist. Trotskyism may not have had the weight in Cuba that it did in Vietnam, but the Granma, for instance, was not free of such people and their ideas. The boat I mean, not the newspaper.

    That some of those involved in such Cuban Trotskyism were what we all know as ‘Posadists’ is an historical fact. But then Posadism loomed very large in Latin American Trotskyism at one point, and in Cuba they weren’t subject to repression because of any belief in the tourism of Earth by extraterrestrial life (or even for Posadist viewpoints that are far less amusingly quirky and far more, ahem, distasteful, of the ‘socialism can and hell should be built just fine after nuclear war’ variety, from memory, about which yuck).

    The ‘anti-imperialism of fools’, as I understand it, is usually a term for anti-Semitism within movements against an imperialism understood to be objectified in specific powers or conspiracies. As in “anti-Semitism is the anti-imperialism of fools”, a version of Bebel’s “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools”, yes?

    Your definition – uncritically admiring nationalist etc leaders of ‘national liberation’ struggles – seems a reasonable one, LeftInternationalist, albeit one that applies to an awful lot of what calls itself ‘anti-imperialism’. I think a better formulation would be: Anti-imperialism is the anti-imperialism of fools. (I put it in italics because it is my own formulation, so I want it to look both nice and important.) This anti-imperialism – which yes I know I’ve implied is all of ‘anti-imperialism’ – is evident in recent times, I would argue, in the desperate efforts of some leftists to give their de facto support to the survival of the Syrian regime, often by attributing the movements against the Ba’athists to, in effect, ‘outside agitators’. (Or else such Leftists have suddenly and often incongruously discovered a commitment to only contesting the regime – a regime of mass murder and widespread, imaginative torture etcetera – through a fantasy of ‘peaceful negotiations’, something as impressively disingenuous as certain efforts to do the sly ‘maybe it is the opposition doing the mass murdering so they can blame it on the government, hey?’ thing. I’m looking at you, Tariq Ali.)

    All of which is more-or-less irrelevant to the post upon which we are allegedly commenting. And I’m going to say that is why I won’t contest what you say about German history, except to mention that I wasn’t arguing that people had good grounds to not like the Social Democrats; I took that utterly for granted.

  12. @ndy says:

    North Korea is Best Korea!

  13. anon says:

    What do you think the splitters will call themselves this time? It must be getting harder for sects to come up with unique names.
    http://sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7548:report-on-discussions-between-socialist-alliance-and-socialist-alternative&Itemid=546

  14. LeftInternationalist says:

    Those North Koreans ain’t got nothing on the Chinese…

  15. @ndy says:

    A Stakhanovite on leftist_trainspotters has compiled a handy list of statements from different U.S. left groups on the elections, including “everything that could be described as a “group”, and focused on finding a clear statement on what they call for in the elections. If the group has an international affiliation, I’ve included this, too. In some cases, there are outright endorsements, in others, I’ve only found more vague analyses. Notable omissions (where I haven’t been able to spot a position): Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (freedomroad.org) and International Bolshevik Tendency.”

    Communist Party USA:
    “Issues like poverty, health care, housing, nutrition, education and the environment can only be really solved by putting people before profits. The Obama administration’s position on these issues, while not going far enough, do open the door to real solutions. Hopefully it will spur on supporters and increase votes in the big election next Tuesday. All democratic progressive forces have a huge stakes in the outcome.”
    http://peoplesworld.tumblr.com/post/34844670150/an-urgent-call-hire-the-unemployed-to-help-clean-up

    Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism:
    ?

    Communist Voice Organization:
    “Neither candidate in the presidential election offers the working class anything significant. The only thing that will bring any changes in the workers’ favor under the heel of the ruling capitalists – the only thing that will also help prepare for the day when we bring them down in a workers’ revolution – is a mass movement of struggle of the working class and its allies among the oppressed. This must be a struggle directed against both parties of the rich, the Republicans and the Democrats, against the blood-sucking capitalist class itself. Let us join with the workers of the world and build that movement!”
    http://www.communistvoice.org/DWV105.html

    Democratic Socialists of America (SI):
    “Thus, while working to defeat the far Right, DSA and other progressive forces should work to increase the size of the Congressional Progressive, Black and Latino caucuses and to elect pro-labor candidates to state legislatures. ”
    http://www.dsausa.org/pdf/2012%20elections.pdf

    Freedom Road Socialist Organization (freedomroad.org):
    ?

    Freedom Road Socialist Organization (frso.org):
    “We do think it is still important for progressives to go to the polls to oppose concrete attacks on democratic rights, such as Voter ID and anti-gay amendments. In terms of voting in the presidential election, it is better to vote against Romney, especially in swing states. In other states like California, the Republicans are unlikely to win. In these cases, it would be positive to have a strong third party vote total.”
    http://www.frso.org/about/statements/2012/frso-election-2012-statement.html

    Freedom Socialist Party:
    “No matter what state you live in, you can ‘protest positively’ by writing in Stephen Durham and Christina López.”
    http://votesocialism.com/how-to-write-in-a-protest-vote/

    International Bolshevik Tendency:
    ?

    International Socialist Organization (USec, observer):
    “When it comes to candidates, though, I think voting is a secondary consideration this year. If you want to register a protest against the two-party duopoly on Election Day, you could vote for Stein or Barr or a socialist candidate. But these are all shoestring efforts that don’t have much behind them.”
    http://socialistworker.org/2012/09/05/what-we-say-about-election-2012

    Internationalism (ICC):
    “In the end, regardless of the outcome of the elections, the imperatives facing the winning party will be the same: austerity, scaling back of the remaining social wage and the general management of the historic decline of the U.S. national capital.”
    http://en.internationalism.org/internationalismusa/201203/4728/political-crisis-permanent

    Internationalist Group (LFI):
    “In the upcoming elections, trade unionists, African American, Latino, Asian and white poor and working people should oppose both Democrat Obama and Republican Romney and all capitalist parties and candidates. Join in building a class-struggle workers party to fight for a workers government.”
    http://www.internationalist.org/chicagoteachersstrike1209.html

    La Voz de los Trabajadores / Workers Voice (IWLfi/LIT-CI) :
    “We feel though, that the major task posed today in the US is first to educate our class not to trust any of the bourgeois parties and to throw all our energies into organizing the working-class fight back against the austerity measures, more than to throw ourselves into a hopeless electoralist campaign “to vote socialist” like some sectors of the Left are doing (i.e. FSP).”
    http://lavozlit.com/?p=3357

    League for the Revolutionary Party (COFI):
    “There is no choice for workers in this election, but there is a vital political message that revolutionary- minded workers and youth can explain to our fellow workers looking for political answers.”
    http://lrp-cofi.org/statements/us_election_090312.html

    League of Revolutionaries for a New America:
    “So what do we say about the elections? Sit them out? No way. Because that is not what is really happening. While revolutionaries fight for the needs and agenda of our class, the elections provide us with the opportunity to bring the concrete demands for food, housing, education, health care and an opportunity to contribute to society to those fighting within the electoral arena. People will vote their consciences, but what is key is to develop a strategic perspective that operates before, during, and after the elections that has the intention of building a society where the fruits of society are available to all.”
    http://rallycomrades.lrna.org/2012/05/elections-2010-fight-for-the-demands-of-the-dispossessed/

    *Marxism-Leninism Today (CPUSA):
    “With Obama, the corporate rulers have found the key that fits their needs at a time of (terminal) crisis. He is the more effective evil.”
    http://mltoday.com/subject-areas/electoral-politics/what-obama-has-wrought-1497-2.html
    *ML Today article is not a statement from that site’s editors but from Glen Ford, editor of the Black Agenda Report website. Glen’s not a member of ML Today, although he’s frequently reprinted on their site. Marxism-Leninism Today is still a group within the CPUSA(?).

    Party for Socialism and Liberation:
    “The Party for Socialism and Liberation is proud to announce that our party is fielding a slate of candidates for the office of president and vice president of the United States in the 2012 elections.”
    http://www.pslweb.org/votepsl/2012/why-we-are-running.html

    Progressive Labor Party:
    “An imperialist war-maker will occupy the White House no matter who wins the presidential election. Imperialism inevitably breeds war to settle conflicts among capitalist nations. In the United States, both the Democrats and Republicans organize for war to maintain U.S. domination worldwide. They differ only on how to wage it, on how the war machine can best protect and project U.S. capitalists’ global interests.”
    http://www.plp.org/challenge/2012/10/31/revolution-yes-elections-no-imperialist-war-has-got-to-go.html

    Revolutionary Communist Party:
    “See BAsics 3:8, 3:10, and 3:11.”
    http://revcom.us/a/284/real-difference-between-republicans-and-democrats-en.html

    Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA (Ray O. Light):
    “With an Obama victory, the Afro-American people and other working class and oppressed nationality folks, with no opportunity and pressure to vote for Obama a third time, will be more open to the important political education which four more bitter years of experience can bring.

    Within the USA, then, just as outside its borders, whether Romney or Obama prevails in the 2012 election is relatively unimportant. The crucial element is mounting a serious fight-back against the Wall Street imperialist austerity program, no matter which wing of the ‘Republicrat’ Party is in power.”
    http://www.mltranslations.org/US/ROL/rol74.htm

    Revolutionary Workers Collective (RCIT):
    “Various third party and independent presidential candidates like the Green Party‘s candidate Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson from the newly formed Justice Party or the Roseanne Barr/Cindy Sheehan campaign of the Peace and Freedom
    Party are no alternative neither. They represent various forms of petty-bourgeois, left-wing populism, which is useless for the US-American working class. While there is no alternative for the working class at the ballot paper, there is a way out: The building a Workers Party which fights for a program of liberation of exploitation and oppression by socialist revolution.”
    http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/north-america/statement-on-us-elections/

    Social Democrats USA:
    “The Social Democrats USA endorsed the Obama / Biden Democratic Party at its August 27, 2012 National Convention.”
    http://socialistcurrents.org/?p=1169

    Socialist Action (USec, minority):
    “We are calling for people to vote for whatever socialist candidate is on the ballot, or running as a write-in candidate, in their state. In particular, we endorse the following candidates for president:
    • Peta Lindsay of the Party for Socialism and Liberation
    • James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party
    • Stephan Durham of the Freedom Socialist Party
    • Stewart Alexander of the Socialist Party”
    http://socialistaction.org/2012/10/vote-socialist/

    Socialist Alternative (CWI):
    “Socialist Alternative is calling for a vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in the upcoming elections.”
    http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/article20.php?id=1969

    Socialist Equality Party (ICFI):
    “In all other states, we ask supporters to write in the names of White and Scherrer as a class conscious statement of support for the socialist alternative to the two parties of big business.”
    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/nov2012/vote-n01.shtml

    Socialist Organizer (FI-La Vérité):
    “It is important to note that we are not endorsing any candidate in the upcoming 2012 presidential elections. We see the Democratic and Republican parties’ duopoly of political power representing essentially the same class interests — the interests of the bosses.”
    http://socialistorganizer.org/voter-protection-still-needed-47-years-after-the-enactment-of-the-voting-rights-act/

    Socialist Party USA:
    “In some states, voters will be able to cast their vote to speak for the 99 percent and vote for Stewart Alexander for President and Alex Mendoza for Vice President. These voters will be on the frontline to revolt against a political system that is unfair and unjust; their votes will be a revolt against unfair ballot access laws that has rigged the entire political process to limit voter choice to the candidates of the two corporate parties.”
    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/09/29/18722632.php

    Socialist Workers Party (Pathfinder tendency):
    “The Militant urges readers in each of the 50 U.S. states and District of Columbia to vote for the Socialist Workers Party ticket of James Harris for president and Maura DeLuca for vice president, and for other SWP candidates where they are running. Pull the lever or demand your right to write in SWP candidates listed on page 4.”
    http://www.themilitant.com/2012/7641/764120.html

    Solidarity (USec, observer):
    “Solidarity therefore urges it members, supporters, and the activists with whom we work, as well as the public at large, to vote for the Green Party, the Socialist Party USA, or the Peace & Freedom Party.”
    http://solidarity-us.org/site/node/3692

    Spartacist League (ICL):
    “Our opposition to Obama and the Democrats, no less than our opposition to the Republicans, is a class opposition. It’s not a protest against the Democrats’ failure to live up to expectations— they did exactly what we expected. It is not a search for some alternative within the capitalist electoral framework—a formation like the Greens or the Peace and Freedom Party that would supposedly break the two-party monopoly with a bourgeois third party.”
    http://icl-fi.org/english/wv/index.html

    The Spark (ICU, fraternal):
    “We should face the real significance of this election, which is that neither party represents the interests of the working class. Neither party is a defender of all those especially attacked by capitalist society: black people, immigrants, women, poor people.

    We should draw the obvious conclusion, which is that, no matter which party wins, we are going to have to fight to defend ourselves. Don’t let both parties drag us down to hell!”
    http://the-spark.net/np925101.html

    U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization:
    “Election time is an opportunity to think outside the box — to reject the confines of the existing set up and fight for an anti-war government representing the anti-war stand of the majority.”
    http://www.usmlo.org/arch2012/2012-10/VR121005.htm#01

    Workers International League (IMT):
    “The labor movement does have a choice: it must choose class-independence. Instead of calling for a vote for “labor-endorsed” or “not-a-Republican” candidates (both code for “Democrat”), the enormous resources of the unions must be harnessed to build a labor party. Once such a party is created, the choice will no longer be between Austerity Party A and Austerity Party B.”
    http://www.socialistappeal.org/wil/editorials/1079-election-2012-choice-what-choice

    Workers Party, USA:
    “The task of the times is to assist in the development of the independent class politics of the workers – only this politics can truly inspire and mobilize the people and bring them to their rightful place as the decision-makers of society.”
    http://www.workersparty.org/independent-politics-of-working-class_10-21-12.htm

    Workers Power (L5I):
    “Rather than voting Obama to block the Republicans and hoping he’ll be different this time around, workers, youth, and the socially oppressed should abstain from the polls and organize themselves to be ready for the inevitable class battles looming on the horizon.”
    http://www.workerspower.net/obamas-betrayals-must-not-be-forgotten-this-november

    Workers World Party:
    “Workers World says don’t look to the capitalist elections to bring about any of the changes that workers, oppressed peoples, women, the LGBTQ community, youth, the elderly and immigrants so desperately need in this country.”
    http://www.workers.org/2012/10/15/where-we-stand-on-the-election/

    World Socialist Party of the United States (WSM):
    “The outcome of US elections carries one truth: namely that whichever candidate becomes president, he has but one remit once in the Oval Office – to further the interests of the US corporate elite.”
    http://wspus.org/2012/04/old-fraud-new-face/

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