The British Left and The War Against Imperialism


Every day throughout the world an estimated 55,000 people are killed by malnutrition. Many more are killed by diseases that are easily preventable. Behind these deaths lie the many agreements forced upon the oppressed nations by bankers, politicians and generals from across the imperialist world. As the crisis of the world economy has deepened it has been the oppressed nations of the world, in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the so called ‘emerging markets’, that have borne the brunt of maintaining the privileged consumption of the majority of the North American, Japanese and West European people. These countries, plundered by imperialism, have lurched from crisis to crisis; debt defaults, currency collapses, hyperinflation… On every occasion, the bankers of the imperialist bloc, circling like vultures, have descended to sink their bloodied beaks into the corpse.

They have bailed out the mess that their robbery has created, demanding in return the cancellation of health, housing and education programmes and the privatisation of public utilities that then price water and energy out of the reach of the working class. They have demanded ‘fiscal prudence'; the euphemism, in Russia, for not paying pensions and public sector wages or, in Argentina, cutting these by 13%.

Inevitably death, privation and destruction have followed in the wake of these finance capitalists. Just as inevitably there has been resistance to such parasitism. Whether it has been the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, the FSLN of Nicaragua or, in Colombia, the FARC, the oppressed have risen up to end this injustice and build a new society based on democratic social justice and the rule of the poor. To smash this global uprising and shore up their system that sustains the luxuries of the middle class and better off sections of the working class, world imperialism has fought back. Led by the butchers of the Pentagon they have stopped at nothing to satisfy their bloodlust; running death camps in Lebanon, bombing schools and hospitals in Afghanistan, drug running to pay for arms and supporting any fascist who will do their bidding.

However, as their crisis deepens, there has been less room for even some of their erstwhile friends; the local henchmen that once were partners in crime. With the anti-imperialist bastion of Soviet power no longer a concern, imperialism has fallen on the oppressed nations to start a new era of colonialism; the ‘new world order’.

There has been blanket bombing of working class areas of Panama as US imperialism secured the canal from George Bush’s drug running partner; Noreiega. 100,000 Kurdish, Shiite and Iraqi conscripts were burned alive on the Basra highway to save the self anointed dynasty in ‘Kuwait’ from the party once entrusted with the butchery of the Iraqi Communist Party and Kurdish Workers Party. Millions of people were murdered or made into refugees in Eastern Europe to control the fascists unleashed by imperialism’s war of conquest against the socialist countries and millions more are now threatened with starvation in Afghanistan after over ten years of US sponsored terrorism.

It is no surprise then that the burning hatred of world imperialism, its banks and armies and those of the USA at its head has spread from the ranks of the revolutionaries and the oppressed to others who live among the smouldering ruins of imperialism’s foreign policy. Even some of the most ignorant and reactionary elements within those countries have turned against their former paymasters. While many couch their resistance in religious and racist terminology, the roots of their actions lie with the crisis of finance capital itself and its ensuing drive to war and barbarism.

It is in this light that the attacks on the centres of finance capital and imperialist militarism should be seen. Islamic reactionaries might see among the dead only ungodly infidels. Communists and revolutionaries though will make a distinction. We do not mourn, but welcome, the death of any workers at the Pentagon or any bankers at the World Trade Center; they have killed many times over before in their careers. Those cleaners, waiters, cooks and technicians who died were a tragic loss in a war that sees many millions of ordinary, innocent people die every year. The war against oppression will continue and many more will fall before its completion. In this war, communists stand with the oppressed such as the Palestinian people who came into the streets on September 11th to demonstrate their consciousness of the role played by banks and armies from the USA.

Communists do not call for any retaliation as we do not oppose the anti-imperialist incursions, even of our enemies. We have no illusions about humanitarian or measured response as imperialism is of necessity barbaric and militarist.

Sadly the same can not be said of the rest of the British left. With so many British ‘socialists’ benefiting from imperialism’s superprofits and sharing the lifestyles of the bankers and regular airline travellers, their capitulation is sadly predictable and their irrelevance a stark reality.

Following the attacks the left newspapers lost no time in rushing to defend their paymasters and oppose the attacks. Bush and Blair’s coalition against ‘terror’ is wide indeed!

The Spartacist League (Sept 12th) called it an ‘indefensible act of criminal terror’.

The CPGB (Sept 20th) was opposed to the killing of imperialism’s military personnel and ‘condemns the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Such attacks do nothing to further the cause of the working class or oppressed nations’. Socialist Worker (Sept 15th), not known for the depth of its analysis, claims that ‘many more innocent civilians were killed in New York and Washington’. With their usual brand of Euro-centrism, they describe the attacks as ‘desperate’ and ‘evil’.

Workers’ Power (Sept 12th) had not made up their mind if they would support the attack on the Pentagon. ‘Indeed, depending on who carried it out, the attack on the Pentagon may indeed be a legitimate target.’ They did not say which attackers could possibly make these bloodthirsty militarist thugs into illegitimate targets. Almost alone among the left Workers Power were able to suggest why many of the oppressed celebrated these attacks:

‘Those who have suffered or witnessed the effects of US cruise missile attacks on the population of Baghdad, the families of the 700 or so Palestinians killed by US supplied weapons, including Apache attack helicopters, have understandably rejoiced at proof that the world’s only superpower is not invulnerable. They see the world’s trade centre as a symbol of financial capital and the elite that plunder the world’s resources.’

However, what is obvious to the Palestinian people was not grasped by Workers’ Power. They start their article like all the others, with less enlightened analysis:

‘Reject individual terrorism. The horrific attacks and the killing of thousands of people in New York on 11 September have shocked millions around the world. Revolutionary communists condemn the attack on the World Trade Centre and massacre of civilians, because such actions will not take forward the struggle against US world domination by a single step.’

Continually referring to the Zionist settler state as ‘Israel’ makes a mockery of their claim to ‘remain firm in our support for the Palestinian liberation struggle and all resistance to imperialism.’ One can only assume that their support lasts as long as no imperialist lives are taken and no Palestinian land is claimed that was occupied before 1967.

All of these organisations have a long history of siding with imperialism against the IRA, PLO or the ANC, preferring instead their cosy alliance with the imperialist Labour Party. What is more disappointing is the response of an organisation that in the past has supported armed liberation struggles against British and US imperialism and still has a formal position of opposition to Zionism.

In their leaflet on the attacks the Revolutionary Communist Group line up, like all the others, behind imperialism: ‘Thousands of ordinary people were killed when hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 11 September. The death of civilians is mourned, while the world waits for the US and Britain to unleash their ‘War against Terrorism’ on the poor of Afghanistan.’ And from their newspaper, ‘Fight Racism Fight Imperialism'; ‘we send them our sincere condolences’.

The rest of their analysis consists of an otherwise commendable condemnation of US inspired terror which they use as a radical gloss to their capitulation to the ‘ordinary people’ of the banking and military middle classes. However lest anyone be taken in by this superficial radicalism, the front page of their paper reminds us of their stand. In the months of October and November, when imperialism might well be butchering millions of Afghan people, Fight Racism Fight Imperialism loudly proclaims from its front page, ‘The War Against Terrorism’!

After a summer when the RCG, like so much of the left, was hardly ever seen on the demonstrations against police and fascist terror in Asian estates and when their leaflet on this racist terror was a much longer time coming than that on the Sept. 11th attacks, the title of their paper now seems quite ironic!

We ask the British left: whose terror do you want to fight a war against?

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