Quebec National Question

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Joined: 17-12-05
Jan 26 2006 20:34
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi Flint

Don't be distracted by Internationalist jibes, I would appreciate your insight into my question...

I've always wondered how sanctions hit economies, how does that work?

I’m sure you’ll agree the answer to this question has important ramifications for the viability of nationalist programmes.



It's a good question. I'm not sure what the answer is. The cost of human suffering from sanctions is felt by the underclass of society. In Iraq the burden of suffering do to the sanctions was carried by the proletariat, particularly the lumpen proletariat... thsoe that the regime no longer needed the labor from as it's economy contracted... the old, the children the women (who were actively pushed out of employment). The economic santctions also seemed to strengthen the regime as other economic options dried up because the state controlled most of the employment and exchange. Now, I don't think the sanctions helped Saddam increase his power regionally, but I do think it empowered him when it came to the subjucation of the Iraqi proletariat.

I know Midnight Notes has made the argument that the Persian Gulf War in 1991 allowed for a capitalist restructuring throughout the oil producing middle east, including the deporation of Iraqi, Yemeni and Palestinian workers from Kuwait and their replacement by guest workers from Bangladesh, India, etc... who could make no claim of "panarab socialism" and not speaking the language, being cut off from their communities, they were in a much more precarious position.

It seems to me that economic sanctions end up empowering the ruling regime into a situation where they can use heavier tactics of repression and have more control over the proletariat in their countries, but also the sanctions weaken those regimes when it comes to imperialist competition against other states.

Such potential economic sanctions do cast question on viability of nationalist programs... you're indpendent, but so what, we are going to cut off your economy from the world economy; try building socialism in one country if you can! (that is, even assuming that the ruling class there is even trying to build socialism, or even an industrial bourgiose. The Taliban wasn't).

I think it would be intersting to do a study of the effect of internatonal economic sanctions on a variety of countries, and their effects on increasing state power and how it effects the proletariat.

Joined: 17-12-05
Jan 26 2006 20:55
Devrim wrote:
To Flint,

Yes, they are both Turkish nationals, and both Zaza speakers, but the point I was trying to make is that our personal feelings, or connections to the situation should not effect our political analysis.

Sure, we should be able to have some personal detachment with our political analysis. At the same time, there is a limit there as well. I know I personally would be quite upset if my little sister was killed by the mortar and RPG attacks that came at her. Just as I'm sure you would be upset if your friends were killed, regardless of who had been doing the killing for what reasons. The U.S. has been quite willing to target medical facilities and transportation during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the more resent invasion; likewise one of the first act of one element of of the "resistance" (and in this case I think it's been attribibuted to Zaraqwi's faction) bombed the Red Crescent/Cross Building... causing that organization to pull out of the country; and one of the most successful tactics of the current insurgency has been to target roads with explosives and to destroy trucks and convoys.

The working class is always doing the suffering when it comes to war.

The existence of Iraq, and it's relationship to Kuwait, the Kurds, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Jordan... I think shows how limited a vulgarly leninist interpretation of anti-imperialism, similar to what STI is advocating, doesn't really seem to help us understand what is going on or what we should be doing to bring about our goals.

From the perspective of being a worker in the U.S., I know that the U.S. occupation in Iraq is depriving the working class here of resources that could be better used to support U.S. workers... for example in regards to disaster relife to hurricane Katrain, socialized medicine, etc... the U.S. government's expenditures on war are obscene and absurd, and the jingoistic patriotism and nationalism here does much to undermine the proletariat's ability to struggle; which is a factor in the more precarious position and poor social benefits that U.S. workers have compared to many workers in the E.U. So.... I've prefered to use the slogan here, "U.S. Out of Iraq", rather than "Bring them home now" or "Victory to the U.S. resistance". My practical activity beyond supporting the anti-war protests here is in specifically working to discourage people from joining the U.S. military.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
Joined: 6-05-05
Jan 26 2006 21:42


you're indpendent, but so what, we are going to cut off your economy from the world economy; try building socialism in one country if you can!

Excellent. The nationalist bourgeoisie always undermine the economic self sufficiency of the working class, ready to have their power sealed by sanctions imposed by their foreign allies by proxy.



Joined: 17-05-05
Jan 27 2006 17:10

Jesus! I just finish replying to OliverTwister and Devrim offline and find that I've got more people disagreeing with me! grin

I'm on a long bus-ride today, so I'll respond (offline again) to the stuff that Flint, Devrim, Lazy Riser, and Alf posted between when I went online and this moment. For now, here's what I have in response to Oliver and Devrim.

revol68 wrote:

Is it possible for someone to be genuinely that fucking thick???!!!!!!!

There's a difference between "effectively disagreeing with you" and "being fucking thick".

Oh, and what you're doing in this thread would definately be considered flaming and possibly even trolling on most of the internet.

powertotheimagination wrote:
there may be a stability for some, but I doubt for the mass.

How does that compare to life under occupation? And is "stability" really a good argument for supporting imperialist occupation?

Note: Saddam gave stability (?) to Iraq, but at what price? STI i'm sure you have enough knowledge to work that question out.

Yeah, Saddam was a dick. So are the occupational forces. So are the resistance.

That's not the point.

Why is the fact the resisitance is broken into different religious groups false? Show me otherwise. Granted no all resisitance is religious, it can take many forms, but the bulk is religious based. Prove it to me otherwise.

Based on that article, most of the fighters are religion (of course), but they're far from all being religiously-motivated.

As a side-note, there used to be a big list of all the groups involved, but they've taken it down for whatever reason.

There is a chance of Civil War in any revoluationary situation, yes I know, but while the resistance in Iraq I do not see as revolutionary, what sort of war will arise out of Iraq?

It objectively is revolutionary, just not a proletarian revolution.

Revolution is the violent usurption of power from one class (in this case, the imperialists) by another (the local bourgeoisie).

It's the same as Indian nationalists fighting for independence all those years ago, objectively. Only particulars regarding the conduct of the fighters is different.

Alot of the attacks are directly AGAINST civilians, not just occupying forces- have a look in the news.

Ah. Now I get it.

If you take what the bourgeois media say at face-value, you're bound to see the insurgents as real nasty guys and the occupation as just-great.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the issue:

Wikipedia wrote:
There have also been many attacks on non-military and civilian targets, beginning in earnest in August 2003 and steadily increasing since then. These include the assassination of Iraqis cooperating with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Governing Council--considered collaborators by the guerrillas, and suicide bombings targeting the United Nations headquarters, the Jordanian Embassy, Shi'a mosques and civilians, the International Red Cross, Kurdish political parties, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, hotels, Christian churches, diplomats and a restaurant. Armed and unarmed Iraqi police and security forces are also targeted, who are also considered collaborators. It has been argued that armed Iraqi "collaborationist" soldiers and police could be considered combatants in the guerrilla war with the insurgents. Sometimes they are killed in ambushes and sometimes in execution-style killings. Militants have targeted private contractors working for the coalition as well as other non-coalition support personnel.

Some have labelled security contractors as mercenaries, classifying them as non-civilians, arguing that many are armed and take part in the conflict. Others point out that private contractors frequently carry out entirely civilian functions, such as protecting Iraqi infrastructure and Iraqi-elected representatives, and do not plan or execute offensive military operations.

So yeah, the insurgents attack civilians. We don't have to support that and we can be critical of that.

But does that eliminate the objectively-progressive effects of victory for the resistance? Nope.

powertotheimagination wrote:
Some people have died as a result of attacks on occupying forces most notebly the deaths of those children when they were getting sweets of American (I think) troops.

Hmmm. That just sounds too classic to be true.

"Good 'ol American boys" giving candy (what a photo-op) to little kids, are attacked by "big, bad terrorists".

Why would there be a process of moderinisation occuring?

Because the local bourgeoisie will want to develop the means of production in Iraq as a way of advancing their own status and getting more capital to invest.

This, of course, changes the material conditions of the society, and different material conditions produce different kinds of people and make certain ideas seem plausible while others less so.

Has it in the fundamentalist Islamic states of Iran and Saudi Arabia?

Probably a lot moreso than what would have happened under US occupation.

You have to remember, it takes more than just a couple years to do, and the process can be impeded... but it happens.

Why would these people be against any sort of capitalism

They wouldn't, but the effects of the things they would do, like modernizing the economy, would eventually produce the conditions necessary for proletarian revolution to occur.

Why would the 'new rulers' of Iraq be against capitalism?

They wouldn't and I've never suggested that they would. They would be very much for it - local capitalism, that is.

And local capitalism brings about good stuff more quickly and more thoroughly than does occupation.

Think about it this way: if the US has control of Iraq, they'll develop the oil industry, and not a lot else. They'd have no reason to, since they wouldn't really make a lot of money off of it. A local Iraqi bourgeoisie, on the other hand, would - the same way any other local bourgeoisie does.

Revol...again wrote:
leave it the guys a fucking mechanical determinist shithead who doesn't even have the wit to grasp that properly

Running out of ways to spend our time, now, are we? roll eyes

PUNISHER! Control!

he claims that Iraq has to go through a stage of modernisation yet overlooks the fact that the neo cons are the twats talking that shit and that the most advanced sections of the Iraqi national bourgeois are quite happy to work with the US backed political system.


Yeah, some of the Iraqi bourgeoisie are collaborating with the occupation.

But some aren't.

Those are the ones I support.


Lazy Riser wrote:

STI, let me just get this clear. Which elements of the armed struggle against the puppet government in Iraq do you support? What organisations, platforms and behaviour are you advocating?

Depends on what you mean by "support". I mean, yeah of course I'm against attacks against civilians (not collaborationist Iraqi police or military forces, mind you). I don't see how much good comes out of chopping the heads off of news reporters or peace workers (even the Christian ones), but then again I'm not what you'd call "well-versed" in terrorist tactics.

I think the best possible situation would be a victory for the Communist Party of Iraq, but that doesn't seem like it'll happen at the moment. If not them, then probably the Ba'athists or the Iraqi Nationalists. It's tough to make confident statements on the groups since it's a big pain to get a good amount of decent info under the best of conditions, and my internet connection is, er, well, "unreliable" at best (fucking residence!)

Now, I have my share of criticisms of even the "best" of the insurgent groups, not all of them mild. I don't have any illusions about what they're like or how they act, but I recognize, for reasons mentioned elsewhere, that in the end they're objectively progressive. Some moreso than others, no doubt, but all moreso than the occupation.

OliverTwister wrote:
I've already gone through your ideas, point by point, and didn't receive much in the way of a response

You did? I missed it. What page is it on? I'm happy to (when I get the time... the girlfriend is starting to "hog" me from everything lately. I managed to get a good lot done today because she has class, but don't expect to hear anything for the next few days)

the bourgeoisie will develop the economy, creating a more proletarian workforce

And a less backward society, on the whole, eventually.

is something that you've basically posted no evidence for

Up until now, I don't think anybody has demanded any of me - they've preferred to misunderstand and misrepresent what I think grin

But you want evidence? I can deal with that.

Consider India. Had India not won independence way back then, do you think it would be the economic powerhouse (inasmuch as that is possible in the Third World) it is today? Do you think it would be as secularized? Not that there isn't still a hell of a long road ahead, but I think the road ahead is shorter for having gained sovereignty.

Consider Cuba. It would definately be more religious... with all that comes along with it.

Consider South Africa. Compared to its neighbours, it's modern like crazy! Like India, there's still a lot to be done, but less than would otherwise be the case.

and have shrinked from evidence against it - such as the Southern USA.

What? That there are a few people who want to separate?

I much prefer the definition "Those who own nothing but their ability to work." I think this is a much more scientific definition than "waged workers".

I suppose that would include unemployed people and exclude peasants, then?

(not that I'm criticizing that, of course).

ts similar to the inability many people had to recognize the USSR was capitalist because they had no stock exchange, we need to deal with the essence and not the form of things

I'm with 'ya on that one.

Now how about a different question: In World War 2, one could make a general statement that a large section of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie hoped the Nazis would win (and had some popular support for this, framing it in what amounts to National Liberation) while a large section of the Polish bourgeoisie hoped that the Soviets would win (and also had some popular support, putting it in the framework of national liberation). Which of these groups (and outcomes) would have been more "historically progressive" for the working-class? Were both, or either, of them anti-imperialist?

That's simply a matter of one empire winning over another, so neither can be "anti-imperialist". I personally would have preferred to live in the USSR over Nazi Germany, though. I mean, at least there was (official) gender equality, legalized homosexuality, and abortion rights.


Has the israeli occupation of palestine been historically progressive?

Hell no! I support Palestinian liberation hardcore and have less qualms with the PLO or the Yassir Arafat Martyr's Brigade than I do of most of the Iraqi insurgency.

Both have increased the level of industrialization and the number of wage workers far more than a palestinian or zulu state is likely to have.

I really don't know all that much about the afrikaaners.

Israel was settling (ie: literally expanding their nation) into Palestinian territory, so it's tough to say that they industrialized Palestine, but rather just industrialized "more Israel" (sorta like how Canada industrialized the western provinces, but nobody would say that they industrialized the native societies - just beat the hell out of them).

From what I understand, Palestinians have little or no access to the "goodies" of industrialization in the occupied territories.

That means that out of every 7 people who desire paid labour in the reservation, 7 could not get it. That sucks, i guess they can't make proletarian revolution.

Well, that's one reservation and that's 70% - as opposed to your claim that "90% of some Black, Chicano, and Indian communities are unemployed".

That aside, I actually did my grade 12 Canadian History independent study on the Oka Crisis, and through that came to the conclusion that Aboriginals are a conquered nation(s) in their own right, only their occupiers happen to live really, really close and they're scattered throughout the land (when I finally figured it out, it was like "Duh! Of course! That's why they call them 'First Nations'" The meaning and implications of the term had up until then been lost on me.)

But then again, I support the Mohawk Warriors in the Oka standoff (inasmuch as one can support something that happened well over a decade ago!) and other movements for Aboriginal national liberation.

And, to be honest, I really don't think there'll be a whole lot in the way of proletarian revolution coming out of reservations. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong in this regard (or on the issue of proletarian revolution in Iraq, for that matter), but I don't think I will. Of course, this isn't because "they're native", it's entirely because of material conditions, which can and will change.

[a few minutes later]: I've been mulling it over a bit, and it's possible that, in the event of proletarian revolution in North America (maybe this applies to Australia and New Zealand too, I really don't know anything at all about what things are like for Aboriginees or Mauri (sp?) over there), First Nations communities may end up being supportive of and active in that revolution. The other possibility is that, should those communities not be, by and large, supportive of the revolution, the Aboriginal quislings for Canadian Occupation may take advantage of the opportunity to become independent and set up sovereign states for the First Nations. I guess we'll have to see what happens.

And when you're accusing us of misrepresenting you, it doesn't look well to claim that everyone who has not agreed with you is "supporting the imperialist occupation".

In effect, that's what they're doing. I'm simply pointing out the real-world consequences of what they think.

Devrim wrote:
I have got a bit behind on this argument because I managed to pick up a bit of extra work in the last few days. However, at the moment I have a snow day( no work-unfortunately no money either), so I am trying to catch up.

Fuck! We just can't win in capitalism, can we? Leave it to the employers to ruin something as potentially-cool as a snowday.

He is absolutely right. This is the issue, and I am quite sure that I understand his point. However, I don’t agree with it.

Alright, awesome. Now we're getting somewhere. smile


Now, there are two ways that we can argue this. Either we argue the point about Iraq, and the Middle East. (I am sorry, but I don’t feel that I know enough about Quebec to add anything to that discussion, but the same points apply), or we argue it theoretically.

I think it would be better to argue theoretically, since that way any conclusions reached automatically gain a sort of universality. The problem, though, with discussing things in entirely theoretical terms is that it requires real-world evidence and real-world application, so dragging actual events into the debate is inevitable. That said, if you're interested in discussing the issue in purely theoretical terms, I'd be more than happy to oblige... it'd be a nice change of pace!

If there were to be a revolution [in Turkey], do you think it would be led by the working class or the peasantry?

You know better than I do what the conditions are like in Turkey. I have no doubt that things are more modern there than in most of the Middle East (as an aside, I was just wondering whether Turkey is considered part of the M.E. or not?). Given the level of urbanization in Turkey, I would suspect that any "social revolution" would be distinctly proletarian in character (as would be the case in Iraq). My concern is whether or not the proletariat of Turkey is advanced enough to be both willing and able to carry out a successful proletarian revolution.

On that issue, you would, again, know better than I. But you'd have to ask yourself some serious questions about Turkey. It's not enough to simply have a proletarian majority. That proletariat must be "advanced" - free of all the reactionary pre-capitalist ideologies and the capitalist ones as well. They have to be educated. How popular are sexism, racism, homophobia, religion, illiteracy, and the sort in Turkey? How does Turkey compare to the rest of the world in those regards? How modern, compared to the advanced capitalist world, is Turkey's economy?

Does capital need to be further developed?

I think it might even in those places which are inarguably "First World", so my expectation is that Turkey must definately. How widespread, for example, is internet access in Turkey?

In my opinion it isn’t, but then I also believe that capitalism is a global system.

Pretty much every country in the world has elements of capitalism, but capitalism doesn't exist everywhere to the same degree or on a "level playing feild". Capitalism is less developed in Burma (I don't know how to spell "Miyanmar") than in the US. The US exports more capital investment and "holds back" a lot more places than Burma (none, as far as I know). Burma is itself "held back".

The working class is an international class. Revolutionaries do not have a different line to peddle depending upon whether they live in the ‘first’ or the ‘third’ world. Maybe there will be a difference in stress, but the basic line is the same. So in Turkey is STI suggesting that I support Turkish nationalism, or Kurdish nationalism, or maybe I could pick Armenian nationalism or even back the group that were calling for a ‘Socialist Republic of Alevistan’? They are all arguing over the same bit of land. Or as I live in Ankara (the first world?), should I just support all of them while carrying on my own work?

I would never suggest that you should support the ideology of nationalism. I would suggest, based on my slim knowledge of what things are like over there, that you support Turkish freedom from any imperialist yolks which are around its neck (if any... I really have no idea) as well as independence for those under the yolk of Turkey.

This is not to say that I think you have to be active in those movements, thre's probably a lot of other stuff you'd rather work on. Again, given what little I know about Turkey, if I were there, I'd be concentrating on anarchist organizing among the proletariat in action, but if the issue were to ever come up, I'd voice my support for the above causes.

I am not throwing insults here. I may be a bit sarcastic, but they are real questions.

I havn't found anything objectionable in what you've written. In fact, you're probably my favourite person in this thread to discuss this stuff with (so far tongue). This is precisely because you generally stick to real questions and refrain from flinging insults. If I've gotten a bit pissed off in past, I apologize - this is a pretty stressful thread.

I know working class families that have lost relatives fighting on both sides of the Kurdish war. How am I supposed to argue that this is in anyway progressive?

The job of revolutionaries is never easy. Sometimes we have to tell people things that they don't like to hear or that may upset them quite a bit.

As to the specifics of the Kurdish war, I'm really not familiar with it. Could you give me a brief overview of what's happening?

The war in Iraq is not a war between America and the ‘Iraqi’ people. It is a squalid little bourgeois faction fight, where America, and all of the smaller local imperialisms are competing for power, and the working class is being massacred. The Shia are supported by Iran. The Sunni are supported by the Saudis. The Kurds are supported by the Americans. The Turcoman are supported by Turkey… What may look from North America like an anti-imperialist struggle is actually a multi-faceted ethno-religious imperialist war. I wouldn’t support it if it were a ’true’ national liberation struggle anyway , but it isn’t.

Religious motivation may be the face of the war, but I'm more interested in the effects of victory for either side. I see the effects of an insurgent victory as being far better than the effects of victory for the "Coalition of the Killing", as I heard them being referred to earlier today.

? I consider my approach to be anti-imperialist. I argue for working class unity, and class opposition to imperialist wars. I argue that the working class must defend its own interests against its ‘own state’ wherever it may be.

Indeed it must. I am not at all opposed to working class organization or militancy in dominated nations, so long as it is also in opposition to the imperialist forces and would, if forced to make a choice, side against the imperialists.

You are arguing that the workers must actively take a side on the side of another imperialist faction

Well, working people everywhere will do what they view to be in their own interests, but I think that, if proletarian revolution is to occur, imperialism must be defeated. This is not to say that they should all join Ba'athist insurgent cells, or that they should mindlesssly follow insurgent leaders, but that, in the long run, the defeat of US imperialism in Iraq and elsewhere is much more conducive to proletarian revolution than the alternative.

If Iraqi workers want to organize and fight for themselves independent of the issue of national liberation, then good on them. I see militant working-class self-activity as a very progressive thing, as do you. We differ only in our view of whether or not national liberation - the only variable in this discussion - is progressive.

What does your position actually mean in real terms? When you say that you support the resistance, it is really nothing more than empty verbal posturing. You are not doing anything to actually support them. You said that you would offer assistance to somebody who wanted to go there, and fight for them. I would tell that person not to be an idiot. You propaganda is aimed solely at the Canadian working class.

Short of actually going over to Iraq and fighting there myself, nothing else is possible. It is aimed at the working class in the First World, and that is because I think that we have a role to play in the situation in Iraq - cutting the legs of the occupation out from under it. First World communists should attack the imperialists from one side, and those in the dominated nation should attack it from the other. With regard to Canada's role in the Iraq conflict, our effect can only be indirect. As there are no Canadian military personnel in Iraq, the best we can do is fight to have Canadian forces in Afghanistan or Haiti, who free up US soldiers to fight in Iraq, removed or defeated. Also, we can try to convince workers from countries who do have forces in Iraq to oppose their governments on the issue. I suppose, if the opportunity were to ever arise, we should try to convince Iraqis, however we might have contact with them, that the defeat of US imperialism is necessary for proletarian revolution to occur and also warn them of the reactionary elements of the insurgency, stating in no uncertain terms that the new rulers of Iraq, should the insurgency win, must also be opposed.

What is the difference in terms of supporting the war if you argue against the American ruling class, or for the Iraqi resistance?

The resistance is not the aggressor. Should the US decide later today that "the occupation is over", there would be no more US-Iraq war. Should the insurgency later today decide to call it quits, the occupation and its effects would still be present.

I think the position that we take should be based upon internationalism. To me that means that we argue for independent working class activity with the workers in ‘our own countries’.

Yes, we should, but I don't think we should do this exclusively.

The most effective action against the war is working class struggle. By that I do not mean some impossible idea of a general strike against the war. I mean that every action of the working class in favour of its own demands directly threatens the idea of national unity against the so-called enemy.


If independent working-class activity in Iraq threatens or weakens the occupation, all the better, that's why I'm for it.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t go on anti-war demonstrations, but I am saying that this is not what should dominate our activity.

Indeed it shouldn't. In the first world, there's a lot of good stuff we can do, and it'd be selling ourselves short to concentrate solely on anti-imperialism (I personally decided against joining a collective in my area for exactly that reason).

I'm guessing that maybe you're getting a distorted impression of what I think is useful (not any fault of your own) because of the nature of the discussion in this thread. I don't see national liberation/anti-imperialism as the be-all and end-all for the left in the First World, it's just that I'm speaking to those issues at length because they are the issues at hand.

Maybe a slogan like ‘Fight for your class, not their profits’ would be good (ok, I know that it isn’t a good slogan, but I am talking about the ideas behind it).

I've heard worse tongue.

When there is actually working class action against the war, we of course support it. I haven’t heard of any in North America, but maybe I am uniformed.

Around where I am, there isn't a whole lot, probably due to the fact that Canada isn't technically "in" the war. There's the odd demo on "special days" (there's going to be one on March 18, the anniversary of the invasion) and a small protest once in a long while against this war profiteer or that weapons manufacturer (with no thought to maybe building support among the people who work at those companies, mind you), but most people seem to want to spend their time in different ways.

This is in the backward ‘third world’ remember, not in the more advanced capitalist countries

Workers in "backward" countries are certainly prone to resistance of imperialism, and of course I'm supportive of that (the more militant the better, of course). I'd love to see more actions like that against the occupation. That doesn't change my recognition of the good that will (eventually) come from a victory for the insurgency, should working class self-activity prove too non-existant to "do the job", for whatever reason.

The point is that this is struggle on a working class terrain, fighting for class interests against the bourgeoisie, but however confused it was it is class struggle, not part of an inter-imperialist war.

Is it really an inter-imperialist war, though? Is Iran supporting Shia insurgents so that it can have a hold over Iraq, invest surplus capital, and exploit natural resources after the occupation, or is it more a way of "covering their own ass" by proxy? It makes sense to me that the Iranian government would want the US to lose in Iraq because that would make them less able to attack Iran, should the desire become strong enough.

I feel that I have gone on for long enough, and I hope that there are some things for you to think about. As for all of the stats that you quoted about Iraq, I don’t really see what the point is. We had a long discussion about this in the pub last night about literacy rates amongst other things, and found that the majority of people’s mothers could not read. However, all of the people I was sitting with could read. Are they not working class because their families came from villages (they were all public sector workers, teachers, nurses, and a bus driver).

The people you were hanging out with were certainly working class. I've never really "gotten" how the job of one's parents necessarily has an effect on "what class you're in". My dad "worked his way up" to middle-management in the public service and my mom "worked her way up" to low-level management/sales/logistics in the private sector (some of what she does is management, and some production). This doesn't change the fact that I've worked "real" jobs since I was 14, have to take on a part-time job through school, and will probably be working class my entire life (barring some unexpected luck with the lottery).

My point about literacy rates was that, generally, people who are literate tend to be more educated (whether formally or informally) and less backward. This is due to exposure to new, modern ideas like gender equality.

Being illiterate doesn't make you "not working class", it just makes it less likely that you'll be willing and able to be an effective revolutionary, not because of illiteracy in itself, but because of the effects of illiteracy. It could very well be that an illiterate person is less sexist, racist, homophobic, and religious than a literate person, but the general trends would, I think, suggest that this is "the exception" rather than "the rule". Unfortunately, social sciences can deal only with trends and not absolutes, so we have to make decisions and form positions based on likelihoods rather than certainties, and hope, whenever such would be beneficial, that our positions based on those likelihoods are incorrect.

But that hope shoulnd't cloud our judgement, much as it may be appealing to.

Maybe I should stop associating with such petty-bourgeois elements.

The people you went to the pub with weren't petty-bourgeois tongue

There is a working class in Iraq, and it is capable of fighting for its own interests.

Yes, there is, and yes, they are. But are they capable of waging a successful proletarian revolution? I doubt it. I hope I'm wrong, but I can't let that hope distort what I think is reality. Being a revolutionary isn't always fun, I guess.

To be internationalists we must support these people. Even if all we can offer is ideological support at least it is better than lining up alongside their enemies.

What do you mean by "lining up alongside their enemies"?

Any genuine working class movement in the Middle East would also be sexist (probably not as misogynist, but still sexist), and homophobic. The point is that it would have the ability to change through struggle, which the Islamicists don’t.

I think it takes more than just "struggle" to change attitudes like that. Yes, inter-racial, inter-genderal, inter-lingual, inter-national struggle can help to change the attitudes of those struggling and those watching the struggle, but material conditions for this change must be right. I think that as modernity becomes more and more developed, the material conditions for that change of attitude are more and more present.

There was inter-genderal struggle throughout the first half of the century, to an extent at least, but it wasn't until much later that men, on the whole, began abandoning their sexist values. (time to go on a tangent). Female empowerment rose in the second half of the century with the emergence of birth control, a return of women to the workplace en masse, and more attendance of "higher education" by women. This, I think, compelled a lot of women to "stop putting up with bullshit" and start confronting that bullshit. I think the same thing is necessary in places where sexism is still as powerful as it once was here. We can't expect sexist men to end sexism on their own.

Joined: 24-06-05
Jan 27 2006 19:18

I know the media twists alot, but do you deny the truth of resisitance attacks on civilians?

You quote wikipedia and tell me not to use the media as an example confused

Joined: 17-05-05
Jan 30 2006 07:44
Alf wrote:
Revol68's posts on this thread have made their points against STI perfectly

Not exactly. They were basically ad hominems, with some scattered hyperbole and some general "outrage" for some reason. Not much in the way of rational argument, though.

And the main rivals of the USA - France, Germany, Russia, etc - are either waiting in the wings waiting to take advantage of the USA's difficulties, or actively contributing to them

Anything Russia or France could hope to do imperially in Iraq is dwarfed by the weight of occupation. And, should Iraq win independence, anything that the above could do would have to be consentual, which is, all things considered, a much better playing field to be on than all-out occupation.

All nationalist struggles offer today is a choice between imperialist masters – and the promise of ferocious exploitation of the proletariat

Empirical evidence on the matter would suggest otherwise. Really, are you honestly going to tell me that workers are no more exploited in unliberated nations than in liberated ones?

Flint wrote:
I would argue that the Iraqi proletariat (including women) has been under ruthless attack by both the U.S. (starting wth the Gulf War), and by Saddam Hussein's regime

Saddam had been in power since the 1970s, and it was between 1990 and 1995, for the most part, where things started to deteriorate. What happened during that period? The economic sanctions against Iraq were imposed. Sure, the correlation of the two do not necessitate that one caused the other, but I feel more confident in that analysis than any other. Do you happen to have an alternative explaination?

The natonalist regime of the Ba'ath became very complicit in crushing the proletariat during the shora uprising in the north,

Whereas the occupational government would have...?

Saddam deliberately chose to increase islamic power at the expense of women at the same time as ruthlessly crushing proletarian resistance.

Nobody in this thread is arguing that Saddam is a nice guy - just that his government would be better than the occupational government.

And, for all that women suffered in Iraq (no small amount, mind you), conditions were better for them than in any other Middle Eastern nation.

Arguably, it's elements of that regime that SITU is supporting when he "supports the Iraqi resistance", or even worse... sunni whabist fundamentalists.

Am I "SITU"?

The problem I have with SITU's thinking is that basically anytime the international capitalist class wants to derail a proletarin revolution, all they have to do is bomb and occupy country,

No easy task, as the US imperialists are currently learning.

and then "the left" has to fall in step behind whatever reactionary though nationalist elements come out against the occupation

What, then, is your alternative?

even if just before attack of the foreign power, they revolutionaries that actually desired communism and a secular society were bitter bloody opponents of those reactionary nationalist elements.

Do you think the occupation would produce that? No? Then what's the alternative to victory for the resistance? Yeah, they're not cool people, but society will become advanced and ready for communism more quickly with them in power than with an occupational government.

Also, I guess you missed all those times that I said that the reactionary elements of national liberation struggles should be attacked or that organizing for working-class self-activity is good in Iraq, moreso if it directly or indirectly opposes the occupation.

It's like that if in 1939, the U.S. bombed and invaded Spain and SITU was arguing that anarchists and communists should support Franco.

Not exactly. In 1939, the fascist powers in Europe were wholly more reactionary than any kind of imperialism on the part of the Allies. I would have supported victory for the Allies in WWII against German and Italian fascists, and the same would have applied to Spain. Such is not the case with Iraq, though.


The U.S. military is responsible for much of the damage to Iraq's infrastructure during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The intentional bombing of civilian life and facilities systematically destroyed Iraq's infrastructure leaving it in a de-industrialized condition.

The economic sanctions against Iraq after the Gulf War exacerbated the problems of destroyed infrastructure. The combination of infrastructure destruction and sanctions was quite deliberate. Col. John Warden III, deputy director of strategy, doctrine and plans for the Air Force, agreed that one purpose of destroying Iraq's electrical grid was that "you have imposed a long-term problem on the leadership that it has to deal with sometime. Saddam Hussein cannot restore his own electricity," he said. "He needs help. If there are political objectives that the U.N. coalition has, it can say, 'Saddam, when you agree to do these things, we will allow people to come in and fix your electricity.' It gives us long-term leverage."

The Iraqi government and the U.S. military have financed reconstruction of nearly 40 hospitals. Iraq's Health Ministry's budget for next year is nearly $1 billion with an additional $793 million from the U.S. as well as donations from other countries. Iraq's hospitals were once the envy of the Middle East. The rich used to fly their relatives in for everything from heart transplants to plastic surgery, and Iraqi specialists traveled the world lecturing about their research. Targeting the electrical grid and water-treatment facilities in Iraq in 1991 resulted in epidemics of gastroenteritis, cholera, and typhoid, leading to perhaps as many as 100,000 civilian deaths and a doubling of the infant mortality rate. Medical care continued deteriorate under the economic sanctions imposed after 1991, and Hussein banned the importation of medications produced by U.S. companies and their affiliates, even though those were often the best available. Iraq has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world -- one that climbed from 40 out of 1,000 live births in 1989 to 108 per 1,000 live births today. Former US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, was asked if the death of a half of a million Iraqi children from sanctions was worth the price, Albright replied: "This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it."

Are these not arguments for the defeat of the occupation at nearly any cost? (aside from the point about Saddam banning American medicines).

Devrim wrote:
This, however, has no relationship to our analysis of the situation. Either you take an internationalist position, or you don’t.

I don't think anybody participating in this thread is against internationalism, but rather there are simply disagreements as to what "internationalsim" entails in terms of real-world activity.

Flint wrote:
My point is, that things are a lot more complex than the historical materialist and knee-jerk anti-imperialist pro-nationalist positino STIU is making.

Things most certainly are more complex than have currently been discussed so far, this is not in question. But to call my position "knee-jerk" is also an oversimplification, the same way calling it "pro-nationalist" is a misrepresentation.

Yes, my approach is historical materialist, there's no denying that. I think that's a good thing, though, and I think that the better conditions and more-advanced economies and societies of liberated nations than dominated ones is evidence of that (in this case if none other).

As I've stated earlier, this is certainly not a black-and-white situation. Some reactionary things will be done by insurgents, should they take control. Likewise, a few progressive things may be done by occupational forces, though for reactionary reasons (it's tough to exploit foreign labourers when their hospitals can't cure them when they get sick). On the whole, though, and in the long run, I think an insurgent victory would be progressive. That really is the issue in contention at this point.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is wrong. That doesn't make certain elements of the resistance to that occupation right.

Indeed it doesn't! Aside from the fact that the issue isn't one of "right vs. wrong", though, it's been my position all along that we should criticize and encourage opposition to those reactionary elements of national liberation struggles, be they in Quebec, Iraq, Nepal, Palestine, or Ireland.

"Certain elements" of nearly every movement of every kind right now are reactionary, but that does not change the fact that, in the end, the effects of some of those movements are, even if to a diminished degree, progressive.

While they are there, the violent resistance to their presence will continue. In the context of a continual guerilla warfare against an occupier, it makes it very difficult to create a civil society... one in which there are labor unions, etc... instead, the ability to wield violence becomes more important. This will only aid the most reactionary elements in recruitment and popular support.

I see this as an argument for the defeat of the occupation as soon as possible.

Didn't Hamas just win an election in Palestine? I think that is more a symbol of the weakness of the proletariat there, rather than the strength of national liberation.

Why do you think that?

The existence of Iraq, and it's relationship to Kuwait, the Kurds, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Jordan... I think shows how limited a vulgarly leninist interpretation of anti-imperialism, similar to what STI is advocating, doesn't really seem to help us understand what is going on or what we should be doing to bring about our goals.

I'm interested in hearing your analysis of the situation.

My practical activity beyond supporting the anti-war protests here is in specifically working to discourage people from joining the U.S. military.

One of the activities discussed for the yet-to-be-formed anarchsit collective that I've been working to organize has been anti-recruitment. Do you have any material on the most effective ways of carrying out this sort of stuff? If not, would it be too much trouble if I were to ask for a brief summary of your thoughts on the subject?

Did you manage to get your book review done on time? Or should I be looking for a page in the next NEA in memorium of the dedicated anarchist shot dead by his own Editorial Brigade? tongue

Lazy Riser wrote:
Excellent. The nationalist bourgeoisie always undermine the economic self sufficiency of the working class, ready to have their power sealed by sanctions imposed by their foreign allies by proxy.

The bourgeoisie also suffers when sanctions are imposed. Not to sound like I have any sympathy for them, of course. In any case, the bourgeoisie hardly "welcomes" sanctions, een if they do have the latent function of undermining the working class.

And yeah, the local bourgeoisie undermines the economic self-sufficiency of the working class. That's why we don't refer to them as "those nice rich guys". My contention, though, is that in the long run, control by the local bourgeoisie will bring about "economic self-sufficiency" (whatever is meant by that) a lot more quickly than an occupational government.

powertotheimagination wrote:
I know the media twists alot, but do you deny the truth of resisitance attacks on civilians?

You quote wikipedia and tell me not to use the media as an example

Of course I realize that the insurgents attack civilians, my point was that the realities of the situation as presented by the bourgeois media.

I don't quote statistics from Wiki, only general outlines - in which gross errors would be corrected before long. It's true that Wiki is far from infallible, but in terms of efficiency and reliability, it's about the best compromise between the two.