Refuge as a Solution for Imperialism

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Flint
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Dec 11 2007 12:49
Refuge as a Solution for Imperialism
OliverTwister wrote:
the workers who resisted being slaughtered by the IDF are the ones who ran away, not the ones who allowed themselves to be used as peons by Hezbollah.
Devrim wrote:
As someone said earlier, I think that running away would have been a much better way to resist being slaughtered. I don't think that it is unfair to say that what you urged was national defence.

Oliver and Devrim argue here that the best way to resist being slaughtered is to become a refugee if the state you are peacefully living is invaded by another state. They specifically are arguing that's the case in Lebanon when the IDF invades; though I'm sure they are arguing for this as a general (universal) political position?

1) I'm not sure it's always the best way to avoid being slaughtered. As in, plenty of armies are quite willing to massacre unarmed civilians fleeing the army's advance. I'm not talking about communism, opposing nationalism, etc... here. I'm talking simply about survival for the largest number of people.

2) There is an assumption that fleeing too some place is a viable option; that you'll be able to cross the border and that you won't be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

3) Does this extrapolate to nationalist conflicts within a particular state? Let's say the Turkish government (or the Iraqi government, or the Iranian government) decided to conduct a genocidal campaign against Kurds (or Armenians or Jews). Let's say that white (or Hutus, or German) dominated governments want to massacre all blacks (Tutsis, or Jews) in a given territorial area? Is attempting to flee the situation always the best way to prevent slaughter?

4) Does this rule only apply to state armies, or does it also apply to paramilitary groups? Would it apply to the KKK? Would it apply to fascist political groups that do not have official state power?

5) Does it apply to when there are revolutionary attempts at insurrection? Could the Paris Commune rightly be defended with violence? Is the question in the Spanish Civil War that anarchists and communists fought fascists and falangists at all (instead of fleeing?) or merely how they fought and what alliances they made with the republican state?

6) Does it apply to invasion by deformed workers states/state-capitalist states... as in the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan? Hungary? Checkoslovakia? What about the PRC's invasion of Tibet?

7) Are some statist invasions to be welcomed, and not fled or resisted? Say the invasion of the Vietnamese army into Cambodia? What about the U.S. army's movement into the Confederacy?

8) Is there a difference between international and civil war?

Maybe some folks are comfortable with a one answer fitting all such situations; but I'm not so sure.

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Steven.
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Dec 11 2007 13:07
Flint wrote:
Maybe some folks are comfortable with a one answer fitting all such situations; but I'm not so sure.

That's a pretty sly comment, especially as it was clear they were talking specifically about the temporary invasion by the IDF of Lebanon - who didn't go there to massacre the entire population - and Hezbollah said they'd pay for everyone's houses to be reconstructed afterwards.

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georgestapleton
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Dec 11 2007 14:55

Yeah considering how the principle of charity has been observed so closely in all discussion of Wayne Prices arguments I'm baffled as to how Flint would dare to make such 'a sly comment'.

Flint
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Dec 11 2007 16:41
John. wrote:
That's a pretty sly comment, especially as it was clear they were talking specifically about the temporary invasion by the IDF of Lebanon - who didn't go there to massacre the entire population - and Hezbollah said they'd pay for everyone's houses to be reconstructed afterwards.

I was trying to get at an abstract principle applicable outside of the IDF(Isreael)-Hezbollah(Lebanon) context. Though your argument hinges on the idea that the IDF's invasion was going to be temporary, and that they did not have genocidal designs. Further, that Hezbollah would be an intact enough entity to pay for reconstruction, and that the IDF would allow such reconstruction.

I wonder what possible precedent could perhaps make people in the area concerned that the invasion might not be temporary, that different proto-state political factions would fund reconstruction, or that folks wouldn't have their houses torn down and forced into a permanent refugee status under the pretext of the invading state's security.

Seems like a weird argument, though, depending upon the restraint of armies or the charity of political parties.

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Steven.
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Dec 11 2007 16:53
Flint wrote:
Seems like a weird argument, though, depending upon the restraint of armies or the charity of political parties.

I think basing strategy on reality and what is actually occurring is the most sensible thing to do. If to you that's a "weird argument," what does NEFAC base its strategy on?

In terms of "abstract principle," if you mean "general" principle I would suggest that workers and anarchists do not fight in wars for capitalist states.

Flint
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Dec 11 2007 16:57
John. wrote:
I think basing strategy on reality and what is actually occurring is the most sensible thing to do. If to you that's a "weird argument," what does NEFAC base its strategy on?

Mostly xeroxed pamphlets from the 80s.

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jef costello
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Dec 11 2007 16:59
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In terms of "abstract principle," if you mean "general" principle I would suggest that workers and anarchists do not fight in wars for capitalist states.

But then they'll never see any action sad

Flint
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Dec 11 2007 17:17

Actually, perhaps we should have workers consider some other alternatives to flight or fight. How about assimilation and subjegation. Except in those times where it's genocide, the conquering army is probably all to happy to exploit local laborers. If all the conquering army wants is to increase the amount of exploitation, perhaps reducing the cut of the indigenous ruling class in the process... maybe also a few little cultural prejudices like a particular language or religious custom.

If we look at Iraq, some 20,000 Iraqis have become refugees in Sweden, others (particularly some Christians) have gone to Syria, etc... Some folks in Iraq have engaged in armed struggle that comes in quite a few factions. I know some folks have sympathy for the folks that both haven't fled, nor joined the armed struggle but just live their lives, perhaps organizing strikes and other efforts to press claims and change rates of exploitation with the occupiers and new government. So maybe "flight" and "stand and fight" aren't answers... but maybe "stand and strike" is.

Ofcourse, such a course of action is dependent on the invading power actually wanting to utilize the labor of those they have invaded, not just steal their natural resources.

I'm just concerned that so much about the motivations and resistance of workers to imperialist war is predicated on the notion that large sections of the working class aren't expendable from a capitalist or statist perspective; but I tend to think that history argues the the invaded populace is quite expendable.

So yeah, it's a good general principal that workers shouldn't fight for capitalist states. It doesn't, however, necessarily follow that workers should not fight against capitalist states. Obviously, if we were fortunate to be in an area that was actually revolutionary communist, we would probably have to fight capitalist states; though I'm sure some will argue that communism has to be global or it just won't be... I tend to think that any kind of revolution is going to take years to spread.

Maybe you still think I'm being sly, I just don't think there are any pat answers here.

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Devrim
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Dec 11 2007 19:17

I don't say that fleeing is the only, or best option. What I said was that it is a preferable option to national defence. I think in part the argument at the time polarised around the choices of backing the resistance, or fleeing, and I was criticised by some for advocating 'cowardice' in the face of imperialist aggression. There are obviously times when fleeing is not a viable option, and also times that people get massacred while fleeing. However, in the recent Lebanese war, hundreds of thousands did flee both from the South, and to neighbouring countries. What I argued was that that was more of a class response than joining the militias of the national resistance.

Devrim

Beltov
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Dec 11 2007 21:52

Hi,

Fraternisation is another option. Remember 1917? Here's a piccy of Russian and German soldiers. Can you tell which side they're on?

wink

B.

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MJ
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Dec 11 2007 22:13

kinda harder to fraternize with a missile though

mikus
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Dec 11 2007 22:16

Kind of hard to stand and fight against a missile too though.

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OliverTwister
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Dec 11 2007 22:57

I don't think flight is always the best answer. I think it always depends on the particulars.

I do think avoiding missiles altogether is the best option if its at all possible wink

In a place like Iraq, where the oil workers are needed, then fighting for class demands is important. This could also involve armed defense of pickets and other things but is far from "the Resistance". In the recent lebanese war it seemed obvious that Israel would not stay, and Hezbollah had promised to rebuild houses. I think flight was a very logical choice for those who could. For those who couldn't, i'd say doing their best to avoid fighting, while trying to agitate amongst fighters on both sides to mutiny or desert would be the best option. Obviously dangerous though - i don't know if i'd have the guts to do it.

Anyways if it is in workers interest to fight against genocidal thugs, then the logical result is that soldiers who desert from the IDF are weakening Israel against enemies like Hezbollah or Iran.

Oliver

zarathustra
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Dec 11 2007 23:15
Flint wrote:
1) I'm not sure it's always the best way to avoid being slaughtered. As in, plenty of armies are quite willing to massacre unarmed civilians fleeing the army's advance. I'm not talking about communism, opposing nationalism, etc... here. I'm talking simply about survival for the largest number of people.

Makes sense to me. Plus, I think it's also a matter of principle. Give me liberty or give me death - right? If my homeland were ever invaded, I'd rather die than just run away, because I love my country. As Bakunin said, the fatherland and the State are two different things, the state being parasitic on the nation.

Quote:
2) There is an assumption that fleeing too some place is a viable option; that you'll be able to cross the border and that you won't be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

True, true.

Quote:
3) Does this extrapolate to nationalist conflicts within a particular state? Let's say the Turkish government (or the Iraqi government, or the Iranian government) decided to conduct a genocidal campaign against Kurds (or Armenians or Jews). Let's say that white (or Hutus, or German) dominated governments want to massacre all blacks (Tutsis, or Jews) in a given territorial area? Is attempting to flee the situation always the best way to prevent slaughter?

Hells no. If half the effort taken by people fleeing the Nazis had been made to stomp them down in the first place... No holocaust. Same with the American Indians. Retreating and thinking the American government would be happy with what they got was a fatal mistake. The result. Genocide, when, as Chief Red Cloud showed in the 1860s, the indians were militarily quite capable of beating the U.S. Army.

Quote:
4) Does this rule only apply to state armies, or does it also apply to paramilitary groups? Would it apply to the KKK? Would it apply to fascist political groups that do not have official state power?

Or any situation? Is running away a principle or a tactic? If you're in a knife fight, you probably don't want to turn your back and run for it. You might well get it in the back.

Quote:
5) Does it apply to when there are revolutionary attempts at insurrection? Could the Paris Commune rightly be defended with violence? Is the question in the Spanish Civil War that anarchists and communists fought fascists and falangists at all (instead of fleeing?) or merely how they fought and what alliances they made with the republican state?

6) Does it apply to invasion by deformed workers states/state-capitalist states... as in the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan? Hungary? Checkoslovakia? What about the PRC's invasion of Tibet?

Perfect example. Fighting back doesn't necessarily have to just be defensive (or protective of the former status quo). The Spanish anarchists weren't fighting for liberal democracy over fascism, they were fighting for anarcho-syndicalism and a bright new future.

Quote:
7) Are some statist invasions to be welcomed, and not fled or resisted? Say the invasion of the Vietnamese army into Cambodia? What about the U.S. army's movement into the Confederacy?

8) Is there a difference between international and civil war?

Maybe some folks are comfortable with a one answer fitting all such situations; but I'm not so sure.

As with everything, there are no easy answers!

zarathustra
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Dec 11 2007 23:33
OliverTwister wrote:
I don't think flight is always the best answer. I think it always depends on the particulars.

I do think avoiding missiles altogether is the best option if its at all possible wink

Of course. But there you are. Life is struggle, and life is hard decisions.

Quote:
In a place like Iraq, where the oil workers are needed, then fighting for class demands is important. This could also involve armed defense of pickets and other things but is far from "the Resistance".

Look at the antifascist resistance during WWII. Both reactionary (stalinist/liberal) elements and revolutionary elements. You can never stay pure. That's how life is. So you might find yourself shooting Nazis alongside a Stalinist who'd probably like to shoot you if he had half a chance. Likewise, anti-Stalinist resistance in Hungary probably saw genuine working class revolutionaries every now and agan fighting alongside fascists. Thus is life. wink

Quote:
In the recent lebanese war it seemed obvious that Israel would not stay, and Hezbollah had promised to rebuild houses. I think flight was a very logical choice for those who could. For those who couldn't, i'd say doing their best to avoid fighting, while trying to agitate amongst fighters on both sides to mutiny or desert would be the best option. Obviously dangerous though - i don't know if i'd have the guts to do it.

Perhaps. You seem to have a point. But what of pride? Obviously get the women and kids out of their, but aren't there certain principles you'd rather die than give up on? Like, hearth and home? As Camus put it, isn't it better to be dead for principles than alive from cowardice? You know, - "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees", and all that.

Now of course, the ruling class use such feelings to rope you into protecting their little piece of turf and their wallet, but does that mean that loving your home is actually a lie? You actually don't. It's actually the bourgeoisie pulling the wool over your eyes? I'd argue that love of your homeland is anything but a bourgeois veil of lies.

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OliverTwister
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Dec 12 2007 00:08

My homes shitty enough as it is. I'd be leaving with the women and children.

Anways maybe one of the failures of the hungarian revolution is that they placed too much effort into defending their "homeland" instead of encouraging the russian troops to shoot their officers?

edit:

oh btw

Quote:
Of course. But there you are. Life is struggle, and life is hard decisions.

piss off.

zarathustra
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Dec 15 2007 00:15

Well it is quite honestly true. There are few black and white generalizations in real life, as I'm sure you're aware from living yours! The same is true in war time situations. Maybe thats the trouble you're getting into on this thread - its kind of hard to speak in such general terms as you set the discussion in.

Sorry if I sounded patronizing. Its just that a lot of bs gets said on this type of thing, when it seems to me that its kind of hard to say what, for instance, people whose country are invaded should do. Run? Fight? Surrender? Well, my country isn't being invaded! Unless you count the Australian actors...

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Dec 15 2007 05:43
zarathustra wrote:
Its just that a lot of bs gets said on this type of thing, when it seems to me that its kind of hard to say what, for instance, people whose country are invaded should do. Run? Fight? Surrender?

I think somebody called Marx said something about the worker having no country.

Devrim

Carousel
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Dec 16 2007 12:44
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what, for instance, people whose country are invaded should do. Run? Fight? Surrender?
Quote:
Marx said something about the worker having no country.

Characteristically useful statement from the great beard there. A good example of how just saying something over-and-over doesn’t make it true. Does the worker have a house? What about a street? This is the same line of deflection Marx employed in the manifesto, the workers “own” nothing, so they shouldn’t care if the communists take it away.

dave c
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Dec 16 2007 20:21

Carousel, please cite a passage where Marx writes about "communists" taking property away from workers.

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Dec 16 2007 20:33
Carousel wrote:
Quote:
what, for instance, people whose country are invaded should do. Run? Fight? Surrender?
Quote:
Marx said something about the worker having no country.

Characteristically useful statement from the great beard there. A good example of how just saying something over-and-over doesn’t make it true. Does the worker have a house? What about a street? This is the same line of deflection Marx employed in the manifesto, the workers “own” nothing, so they shouldn’t care if the communists take it away.

Agreed. Once again it comes down to this:

MJ wrote:

1) Is capital only reproducing itself through exploitation of waged laborers, or does it rely on ongoing primitive accumulation as well?

2) If the latter, is there a communist interest in resisting primitive accumulation, or does that inevitably lead to backward, proto fascist, and anti-cosmopolitan politics?

The "left communist" line on Question #1 seems to be, effectively, yes, the former is true, and primitive accumulation is a stage in the past.

I disagree. I think there is a range of resources "we" have outside of capital. Not just in terms of land and control of space: but in terms of knowledge, power over our bodies, sex, and reproduction, understanding of agricultural and ecological practice, and skills that have to do with creating and maintaining social groups (families, "communities," workplace groups, etc.). The inroads capital has been making into these frontiers has exposed their depths and made it quite clear that the proletariat is rarely some kind of idealized blank marxist slate of a subject with nothing to lose. All of these other resources we hold give us a stake in the path of overall social reproduction, and if the avoidance of revolution can be said to be a current class strategy it should be attributed to a fear that even these resources, as paltry and closely guarded as they are, will be swept away or seized in the process.

But I don't know the answer to #2. I certainly agree that the defense of particularities and fighting over both land and cultural terrain has often led to the most backward and dangerous kind of politics, and poses no real threat to capital as a system in any case. The "socialism" of "proletarian nations" is, ultimately, fascism. But is there any communist approach to resisting primitive accumulation? Or can communists only aim to gain control of the global system of the production and distrubution of commodities, and abandon every defensive battle?

Carousel
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Dec 16 2007 20:56
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Carousel, please cite a passage where Marx writes about "communists" taking property away from workers.

Like I say comrade, he doesn’t think they own anything worth taking…

Manifesto of the Communist Party wrote:
You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

I wonder who “you” is here?

dave c
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Dec 16 2007 21:04

Carousel, I will show how your reading of the Manifesto is flawed after you admit that, to your knowledge, Marx never wrote anything about "communists" taking property away from workers.

Carousel
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Dec 16 2007 21:09

Ha ha. I've already admitted it. Plus I'm sure my reading is flawed, it's not as if I owe him some kind of correct interpretation. If you’re such a scholar, tell us, what does Marx mean when he said we have no country? Last time I checked I'm pretty sure I did.

zarathustra
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Dec 19 2007 21:49
Devrim wrote:
zarathustra wrote:
Its just that a lot of bs gets said on this type of thing, when it seems to me that its kind of hard to say what, for instance, people whose country are invaded should do. Run? Fight? Surrender?

I think somebody called Marx said something about the worker having no country.

Devrim

Well I'm not a Marxist, friend. I think somebody called Bakunin said something about the State not being the country. "The State is not the fatherland, it is the abstraction, the metaphysical, mystical, political, juridical fiction of the fatherland."

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

zarathustra
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Dec 19 2007 21:55
Carousel wrote:
Ha ha. I've already admitted it. Plus I'm sure my reading is flawed, it's not as if I owe him some kind of correct interpretation. If you’re such a scholar, tell us, what does Marx mean when he said we have no country? Last time I checked I'm pretty sure I did.

Right on the money!

Marx, darling product of the Enlightenment that he was, thought he could reduce all human existence down to a mechanistic economic picture. This picture of the human being has led Marxism into the same hole as liberal humanism - putting abstract ideas over human individuals. Karl Popper wrote some book about all that.

Yes, we do have countries. No, there is nothing wrong in loving your country. Yes, the working class must cooperate internationally. "Inter-" being the definite word. wink

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OliverTwister
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Dec 20 2007 00:17

Have you ever checked out the ideas of this man?

Gregor Strasser

It seems like the two of you have a lot in common.

zarathustra
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Dec 20 2007 21:44

The Strasserites? Ho hum. No thanks. Gustav Landauer more like.

I don't know if you're an anarchist (you seem to be a Marxist / primitivist) but anarchist ideas of nations and patriotism are quite varied.

Quote:
Patriotism for the anarchist was the people’s patriotism, simply the individual’s affection for the freely constituted nation which he or she believed to be the ’fatherland’. There were no necessary geographical, economic, or political boundaries. Secession from or uniting with freely constituted federations of other groups or nations, or groups of nations, was a free choice at all times. If nothing else, in its own time, the communitarian anarchist notions of nation and nationalism represented an alternative goal to the merging of nation and state which was being forcibly built around them. Many of those nation-states and the associated political nationalisms have been fragmenting ever since. The anarchists can help explain the inherent tensions. And their ideas are a potentially fruitful model for ethnic or cultural nations to examine today.

"Anarchist Notions of Nationalism and Patriotism"

zarathustra
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Dec 21 2007 02:21

what about the 'freely constituted' bit?

zarathustra
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Dec 21 2007 02:35

Don't you see any value in culture, shared identity? I'm genuinely curious.

zarathustra
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Dec 21 2007 03:00

It would be a pity if Ireland lost some of that beautiful Celtic culture you got. When I hear culture capital C I reach for my pistol too. I just think that a common culture and heritage that binds people together is a good thing. Not static nationalist culture but fluid culture that represents the so-called folk-spirit of a people. What moves us powerfully? What is beautiful? What brings us together? A common past. That indefinable quality that makes every location special which is lost under capitalist monoculture.

Ernest Renan wrote:
A large aggregate of men, healthy in mind and warm of heart, creates the kind of moral conscience which we call a nation. So long as this moral consciousness gives proof of its strength by the sacrifices which demand the abdication of the individual to the advantage of the community, it is legitimate and has the right to exist.

What is a Nation?