Thursday, March 20, 2008

The FARC “Marxist” farce

Socialists are accustomed to reading nonsense in their newspapers, not least in the so-called 'heavies' or serious papers. A case in point has been the claims that the insurrectionary 'army', the misnamed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is a Marxist or the contradiction-in-terms, Marxist-Leninist, organisation, and that its leaders are Marxist socialists. One such claim was made by one Phil Gunson in the Guardian (6 March) in his obituary of Raul Reyes (born Luis Edgar Devia Silva), who was killed by Columbian armed forces in a cross-border into Ecuador.

Wrote Gunson: "A committed Marxist from an early age, he joined a communist youth organisation as a teenager". At about the time that Reyes became a 'communist' or so-called Marxist, the Communist Party of Columbia had about 9,000-10,000 members, and the dissident Communist Party of Columbia (Marxist-Leninist), founded in 1964, had about 2,000 members. Although Reyes is said to have spent some time in Eastern Europe, it is not known whether he was pro-Soviet or pro-Maoist. However, although Gunson asserts that Reyes was a Marxist, he also states and claims that he was "a terrorist and drug-trafficker" who wore camouflage fatigues, "with a Kalashnikov across his knees". Gunson adds: "The two dozen or so warrants that were issued for his arrest covered a chilling range of crimes, including murder, kidnap, and drug-trafficking. He was wanted, for instance, for the El Nogal nightclub bombing in Bogotá in 2003".

What then has Reyes, or FARC for that matter, have in common with Marxist socialists who oppose terrorism, individual, group or state, guerrilla 'armies' and so-called national liberation struggles, but who are organised for, and propagate, worldwide common ownership and democratic administration and control of the land, means of production and transportation and the abolition of the wages system? The answer is: none at all. But obituarist Phil Gunson is not likely to know that.


1 comment:

Mondialiste said...

[Actually, this is from Belfast Socialist via me]

Apropos the contention of Mr Phil Gunson in a recent issue of The Guardian that FARC nationalist guerrillas in Columbia are ‘Marxist terrorists’, the following may be of interest.

During the recent IRA campaign of terrorism in Northern Ireland it was not uncommon for some journalists to refer to this essentially Catholic-nationalist organisation as ‘Marxist terrorists’ - obviously exposing overt Marxists to considerable danger from loyalist terror gangs.

After many efforts to rebut this dangerous nonsense - most of which, despite the first four articles in the NUJ Code of Conduct, were suppressed - I wrote a long and detailed comparison of the views of Marx, who utterly rejected terrorism, and Lenin whose strategies were frequently pursued by ’left-wing’ terrorists. The resultant document I mailed to some members of the journalistic fraternity on the assumption that it might prove an antidote for their dangerous political ignorance.

The Head of Programme Planning at Ulster Television responded to the document with the assurance that he had issued instructions to his staff to avoid reference to ’Marxist terrorists’ in programmes within local control in the future. Dr Steven King, then an adviser to David Trimble and a Belfast Telegraph columnist responded and accused himself of ’sloppy writing’ and, generally, we local socialists felt that some improvement had been effected.

However, on 25th November 2006, referring to three alleged IRA men who had been arrested by the Columbian authorities and accused of giving technical help to FARC, the Security Correspondent of the Belfast Telegraph, Brian Rowan, described another Columbian terrorist group thus:

“ELN is a Marxist insurgent group formed in 1965”

We wrote the following personal letter to Mr Rowan:

Dear Mr Rowan,
According to your article in the Belfast Telegraph of the 25th November 2006:

“ELN is a Marxist insurgent group formed in 1965”

Readers of that newspaper could reasonably expect someone making such a definite pronouncement to be familiar not only with the political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx but with his attitude to the question of political terrorism.

Certainly your statement shows no evidence whatsoever of a knowledge, much less an understanding, of the writings of Marx and his co-worker, Engels. Marx during his lifetime was implacably opposed to political terrorism and fought a bitter battle with the anarchist, Michael Bakunin, which resulted in the expulsion of the latter from the International Workingmen’s Association.

Equally absurd is the implication in your suggestion that a group of Leninist nationalists fighting for land reform in a backward country are using terror tactics to bring about the objectives of Marx and the pioneers of scientific socialism.

Some years ago I prepared the document I enclose herewith to counter absurd statements like yours made by irresponsible commentators and I offered the sum of £1,000 pounds to any of its recipients who could show support for political terrorism or state capitalism in the writings of Marx. Only two - one a Belfast Telegraph contributor - were courageous enough to reply and both expressed apologies.

I look forward to your early advice and, incidentally, the £1,000 still stands.

Yours for a sane world
Richard Montague.

Mr Rowan did not reply but in an apparently journalistic two-fingered gesture he repeated his nonsense a few days later. Additionally, the General Secretary of the SPGB wrote to the Editor of the Belfast Telegraph complaining about that newspaper associating Marxists with terrorism but the Editor seemed unaware of Article 4 of the NUJ Code of Conduct which says:

“A journalist shall rectify promptly any harmful inaccuracies , ensure that correction and apologies receive due prominence, and afford the right of reply tto persons criticised when the issue is of sufficient importance”