|The IRA's Martin McGuinness and The Queen|
Alex Callinicos, one of the SWP leading cadres has left this blog somewhat puzzled about what it is to be an anti-imperialist.
"...Anti-imperialist nationalism is the ideology of an actual or aspirant capitalist class that seeks the way to its own independent state blocked by imperialism and therefore must mobilize the masses to help break down this obstacle..... the logic of such movements is to subordinate the interests of workers and other exploited classes to those of the bourgeois leadership..." and that such movements can tie "...their movement to presently supportive states ...that may well be prepared to use it as a bargaining chip in their pursuit of their own geopolitical interests."
No argument from us about what he said. Nor do we disagree when he points out that:
"...different Islamist tendencies and regimes that may now present themselves as anti-imperialist have a history of collaborating with imperialism ..."
Or when he explains that:
"... It is of the essence of bourgeois nationalists that, when imperialism prevents them for building their own independent capitalist state, they may lead struggles against it, but they are striving to carve out a place for themselves within the existing system, not to overthrow it. This means that, sooner or later, they will come to terms with imperialism..."
Callinicos and It would seem that Callincos and ourselves would be in tune with one another....UNTIL Callinicos declares:
"...If Bush attacks Iran tomorrow, which side are you on? I would be on Iran’s ... I would be for an Iranian victory despite his anti-Semitic rantings, despite the regime’s capitalist class base, despite the repression it perpetrates. This is the politics of permanent revolution, which seeks the overthrow of imperialism and of the local bourgeois regimes..."
We are left bemused. Just how does this raise the class of the workers to a point where we desire to free ourselves from the yoke of capitalism and begin the socialist transformation of society? Where from history can Callincios offer examples of this of ever having happening.
In Vietnam where the national liberation war cost the lives of 3 million Vietnamese, Ho Chi Minh’s victory was supposed to have been the defeat of the imperialists, yet today Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have become the centre of cheap labour and sweat-shops owned by Vietnamese millionaires. Is that what freedom promised?
We can recall the defeats of France and Britain over the years and the Sun setting upon empires Direct rule and political control may have disappeared but the multinationals still maintain their economic stranglehold on the newly-independent nations and every so often sovereign governments call for the assistance of the British or French army.
Even a cursory reading of history shows that the powerful capitalist powers have not been weakened. The USA still stands militarily and economically above all, with the European Union backing it. And when an imperialist country vacates its sphere of influence for whatever reason, does not another step in to take its place and continue the exploitation. Having freed itself from America, did not Cuba chain itself to Russia?
Has anti-imperialism advanced the cause of the proletariat one inch over the decades? Or led it down many a tearful false trail? Rosa Luxemburg did not accept the need for self-determination of nations, and although being Polish herself she chose to participate in the class struggle in Germany instead of advocating a "free" Poland and allying herself with the national bourgeoisie.
The SWP had its roots during the Korean War with the slogan of what was heresy at the time for Trotskyists, "Neither Washington, Nor Moscow". Now, it's simply "Anybody But Washington".
Callinicos in this interview is quite happy to declare his support for reactionary totalitarian countries with the justification that my enemy's enemy is my friend, under the guise of Permanent Revolution. How does it take us closer to revolutionary consciousness and socialism by strengthening one capitalist against another capitalist? Callinicos will march us up to the top of the hill and he'll march us all down again to protest against American-Anglo wars of expansion, while at the same time urging us to spill our blood and guts in defence of some home-grown native capitalist.
To escape that exploitation, class solidarity needs to take precedence over any national allegiances. We must stand alongside our fellow-workers in London, Washington, Moscow, Tehran, Damascus or Baghdad and not stand alongside the Boss Class of this country or any other country. One deluded worker killing another deluded worker won't bring us any closer towards socialism.
The most telling this about the re-newed “Cold War” between Russia and America and its allies is that it reveals there was nothing ideological about their rivalry, nothing to do with free enterprise or state-owned corporations but merely the expression of national competition for resources and trade routes that have gone on since Napoleonic and Tsarist times.
The Socialist Party does not decide its case on present day US-Russian relations by deciding "which is the bigger bastard?"