You are on page 1of 77

New Interventions

Volume 11, no 2, Summer 2003


Current Business Blair, the Iraq War, Labours Poll Results, the Palestinian Road Map, Scaring Syria, Tam Dalyell and the Jewish Cabal, abstentionism and Depoliticisation Mitchell Plitnick, Who Decides US Middle-East Policy? Refuting the myth of the Jewish Lobby Lafif Lakhdar, Why the Reversion to Islamic Archaism? Explaining the rise of Islamic fundamentalism Tobias Abse, A Blind Alley or a New Beginning? The strange history of Italian Autonomism Albert Glotzer, Stalins Place in History A critical view of the rise and victory of Stalin and Stalinism Letters Miloevi on Trial 2 9 15 32 45 71

Current Business
Tony Blair The Beginning of the End? IT will be interesting to see just how long Tony Blair will be able to bask in the reflected glow of George W Bushs Second Gulf War. Blair sees this conflict as a determining point in his career, even declaring that he is willing to defend his stand before God himself, and he gets very ratty towards anyone who does not share his triumphalist vision of it. The Second Gulf War has marked a turning point in the relationship between New Labour and the British ruling class. So far, this has effectively been one of Blair and his team being on probation in order to see if they can defend the interests of British capitalism in a sufficiently competent manner. Although New Labours fawning attitude towards the bosses has not been fully reciprocated, as some wariness on their part has continued, the ruling class has by and large been fairly happy with New Labours record. Blairs total commitment to Bushs war against Iraq has, however, provoked much unease amongst the ruling class. The unprecedented anti-war protests prior to the war reflected the disquiet amongst all classes about the involvement of Britain in this adventure. It was not just the usual suspects the left and pacifists who were unhappy about the war, but broad swathes of middle-class opinion and, more significantly, important academics with close connections with the armed forces and departments of state, key figures in government bodies and various unlikely politicians, none of whom would normally oppose a war were it deemed to be in British interests. Blair was warned that the invasion of Iraq and the collapse of the Baath regime would lead to all manner of problematic consequences, particularly unrest in the Middle East, an intensification of discontent in the Islamic world, and the undermining of the authority of the United Nations. These warnings were brusquely brushed aside as Blair gleefully revelled in his role as Bushs reliable side-kick. Bush and his team called this war without any worked-out plan for an alternative government in Iraq, a few discredited puppets apart, although it is clear that if the Baath state was to be dismantled, there could ultimately only be apart from collapse and chaos some sort of theocratic dictatorship arising in its place. The scope for even the stunted parliamentary regimes of Turkey or Egypt does not exist in Iraq, and as the privatised economy envisaged by Bushs advisors cannot replace the widespread welfare measures operated by the Baathist state, the only alternative can be a regime based upon the mosque, which, as in pre-1979 Iran, acted as a focus of opposition, and will, as in many Islamic countries, act as a surrogate welfare state. It is also clear that the US-UK occupation of Iraq is increasingly seen as an alien imposition by growing numbers of Iraqis, many of whom are Shias and no friends of the Baathists. The resistance to the occupation is clearly going well beyond the remnants of the old regime whom government spokesmen try to kid us are behind all the trouble. The occupiers are unable to assemble a working government of their liking, and it is reasonable to assume that Iraq is currently going through an interregnum between two dictatorships, an unstable quasi-liberal interlude between the

Baathist military-bureaucratic one and another based upon the Shia theocracy. Looking beyond Iraq, the Second Gulf War also drove a coach and horses through the entire institutional framework of international relations that has existed since the Second World War. An extremely dangerous precedent has been set, one that will have profound consequences. By ignoring the United Nations and bypassing its Security Council in the run-up to the war, and unilaterally launching an attack upon Iraq, Bush, with Blair in tow, effectively informed the world that any nation can attack another without any need to consult the UN or to obey its strictures. The destabilising impact of this upon international affairs can be easily imagined, not least with the nightmare vision of India and Pakistan, two neighbouring nuclear states with extremely bad mutual relations, justifying an attack on the grounds that one or the other felt threatened by its neighbour. The war has also spurred on inter-imperialist rivalries, as many European powers, particularly France and Germany, refused to back the USA, thus putting Britain at odds with them. Although attempts have been made to paper over the cracks amongst the big powers, especially at the G8 meeting, the growing transatlantic differences are a brutal fact that cannot be glossed over. Europe will be an increasingly important factor in British politics, and the kind of fudged stance recently taken by Blair over the future of the European Union and British adoption of the Euro will not be tenable in the future. Blair has signed up to the US neo-conservatives foreign policy agenda. Just prior to the war, Donald Rumsfeld gave him the opportunity to pull out; Blair refused. It is possible that the growing difficulties in garrisoning an increasingly hostile Iraq might act as a brake on Bush & Cos schemes to reshape the Middle East, but it does appear that they have already set their sights on Iran. Blairs uncritical backing for Bush caused disquiet within British officialdom, but they did not go beyond reserved criticisms and quiet words and actually try to hinder Blairs move to war. The sharp annoyance expressed by the intelligence services and the BBC over the governments attempts to blame them for its lies and distortions in the run-up to the war is almost certainly a shot across Blairs bows, a warning that significant and powerful portions of the state not only do not wish to be dragooned into his political machine, but also that they may not be so obedient if Blair backs another US adventure. Blair is in danger of losing any political base that he once had. He has alienated many working-class people by his overtly pro-big-business policies, and he has also angered them and many middle-class people with his inability to make any real improvements to education, health and transport services. His endless Cabinet shuffles and bizarre constitutional tinkering, his fudging over key European issues and his willingness to engage Britain in dubious US foreign adventures have not made him many friends within the ruling class; indeed, quite the opposite. It is only the current lack of a credible replacement that is preventing his rapid dismissal. Who now really appreciates him apart from the New Labour sycophants in Parliament? And there can be little doubt that when, as is bound to happen once a successor is found and the long knives are unsheathed, they too will desert him. Paul Flewers The War and the Elections WHILE it is only an approximation to judge the results of the municipal elections and those to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly in terms of approval or
3

not of Blairs pursuance of the war on Iraq, a war that until its start was deeply unpopular with a majority of the population, even within sections of the ruling class, as other issues play a part in how people vote, or indeed whether they vote, it is possible to see various trends and to draw some conclusions, as the elections came after the first terms of both the Scottish and Welsh institutions, and mid-way through Blairs second term, as well as following the end of the war. The municipal election results in England and Scotland are, on paper, a success for the Tories, who won 35 per cent of the vote, to 30 per cent each for the LiberalDemocrats and Labour. However, the approximately 600 extra seats were gained in part by coming through the middle as the Lib-Dems tore chunks out of Labour, as Patrick Wintour put it (Guardian, 3 May 2003). The Lib-Dems gained about 200 seats, and achieved their highest ever share of the vote. The losers were Labour. Wintour says that Muslims appeared to have deserted Labour a shift that could cost Labour seats at the general election, especially in Birmingham, the north-west and parts of Scotland. Peter Hetherington, in the same paper, talks of both record council tax increases and a Baghdad backlash from Muslims and traditional voters appearing to have cost Labour dear in local elections throughout marginal England. Labour lost control in Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Trafford, Bolton and York, among other places. Sarah Hall adds that the Lib-Dems gained both seats and control of councils in Labour heartlands, such as Chesterfield and Durham, and in areas with large ethnic minority communities. Hetherington writes: Significantly, in urban areas the Lib-Dems appeared to benefit from both Labour and Muslim disaffection with Tony Blairs stand on Iraq. Whereas in the south-east, he attributes Labour losses to the shape of public services, particularly health and education. With the seat won in Preston by a Socialist Workers Party member standing for the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Worker hailed a breakthrough for the Socialist Alliance. With 545 votes to 440 for Labour, it represented a clear statement. The comrade had been prominent in the anti-war movement and was supported by the local imam, in spite of Labours candidate being a Muslim. He stood on a socialist platform. Elsewhere there were some impressive results for Socialist Alliance candidates. In Middlesborough, one gained 21 per cent of the vote, only 100 votes behind the Labour candidate; in Barnsley, one gained 17.7 per cent; in Walsall 10 candidates averaged 10 per cent, one getting 23 per cent and another 18 per cent, and so on. Whether this is a breakthrough or only a temporary blip caused by the war, only time will tell. The expelled Liverpool Broad Left managed a respectable presence for a time, but a first past the post system tends to benefit the big established parties with their huge resources. The proportional voting system used for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly has rebounded on New Labour. The Welsh Assembly, with its limited powers, was not popular and has failed to make an impact. Turn-out was down from 47 to 38 per cent. Labour was the victor on an Old Labour manifesto that rejected some of Blairs pet schemes like foundation hospitals, and aims to abolish prescription charges, introduce free breakfasts for pupils and oppose university top-up fees. Labour won back Rhondda, Islwyn and Llanelli from Plaid Cymru, and gained Conwy. Plaid was the big loser, the Lib-Dems stayed still, and the Tories gained two seats. John Marek, removed by Labour in Wrexham, beat the official candidate. Marek was possibly too radical, one of the few stars in a lacklustre enterprise. Labour had a dont talk about the war policy; opposition to it must have manifested itself in abstention, as it seems not to have benefited the Lib-Dems or Plaid Cymru, alt-

hough both opposed it. Labour can now do without Lib-Dem support, so the minority with hopes in this assembly will be watching to see if anything improves. In Scotland, turn-out was down to 49 per cent, the lowest since 1852. The Tories still have 18 MSPs, the Lib-Dems still 17, but Labour and the SNP lost six and eight MSPs respectively. Expecting big gains, just like Plaid Cymru, the SNP instead went backwards. It too opposed the war, but dissatisfaction with Labour translated itself into support for the Scottish Socialist Party and various independents. Dennis Canavan, the ex-Labour left-winger, was again elected with a 10 000-plus majority. A pensioner representing a new force in politics, a Scottish pensioners party, was elected, as was the leftish dissident SNPer Margo MacDonald, but it was the election of retired GP Dr Jean Turner, protesting at cut-backs at a local hospital, overturning Labours huge majority, that really caused an upset. The Greens gained six more seats, and with seven MSPs can now be a minor force. The SSP made five gains, apparently on a higher total vote than the Greens, to add to Tommy Sheridan. An indication that the SSP has put down roots is the respectable vote across the board, which resulted in a 7.5 per cent average nationally but an impressive 16 per cent in Glasgow, where it beat both the Tories and Lib-Dems, and was not too far behind Labour (the SSP did not stand against Dennis Canavan or Labour left-winger John McAllion). Scottish Labour Party organisations are often relatively small, owing to religious sectarianism, so in a situation where activists are demoralised by the war and not working, the appearance of an alternative like the SSP is a serious threat. Just as with the Welsh Assembly, if Labour cannot show better results in this parliament then it can end up in a serious crisis. That a party is standing up for socialist ideas, resolutely opposing the war, taking up the issues concerning the downtrodden of society, is a positive feature of the Scottish political scene. Whether the SSPs blend of nationalism and socialism is viable in the long term, again only time will tell. Any objective assessment of these results does illustrate that, while Labour certainly paid the price for the war, the Lib-Dems made gains at its expense in municipalities, as did the Tories by default; the Lib-Dems too paid the price in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly results due to being in coalition with Labour, but why the nationalists, who had been expecting gains and had been both posturing and seen as more radical alternatives, also suffered is unclear. Dissatisfaction expressed itself quite strongly in support for left-wing candidates but also in abstention. It would have been interesting if the schoolkids who were walking out of school, defying teachers and police trying to prevent them demonstrating their opposition to the war, had been able to vote, to see how politicised they have become. Would they, after observing how pathetic and craven, how out of touch with public sentiment most MPs were, have at all voted or abstained instead? Mike Jones The Palestinian Roadmap Explained THE United Nations Partition Plan to the Palestinians: You are going to have 47 per cent of the 100 per cent which was originally yours. Oslo Agreement to the Palestinians: You are going to have 22 per cent of the 100 per cent which was originally yours. Baraks Generous Offer to the Palestinians: We are going to give you 80 per cent of 22 per cent of 100 per cent of the land which was originally yours. Sharons Peace Plan to the Palestinians in 2000: We are going to give you 42
5

per cent of 80 per cent of 22 per cent of 100 per cent of the land which was originally yours, and this 42 per cent will remain under continuous curfew. American Zionists to the Palestinians: According to our version of the Bible you are entitled to 0 per cent of 42 per cent of 80 per cent of 22 per cent of 100 per cent of the land which was originally yours. The Road Map to the Palestinians that Bush envisions: If you stop your resistance to the occupation (which we call terrorism), and Your refugees give up their right of return to their ancestral homes, and You agree only to elect officials acceptable to Bush and Sharon, and You agree to lock up all your resistance fighters, and You agree to drive your cars only on roads that Sharon assigns for your use, and You do not object to the wall that Sharon is building, and You agree not to claim Jerusalem as your capital, and You agree that your childrens school curriculum only includes courses and books approved by the Israeli government, and You agree not to give birth to more than three children per family Then Sharon might consider negotiating with you on the 42 per cent of 80 per cent of 22 per cent of 100 per cent of the land which was originally yours. Thanks to Mosh Machover for forwarding this. Scaring Syria EVEN before the Second Gulf War had finished, US spokesmen were issuing threats to Syria, calling on its government to renounce terrorism, dispose of any chemical and biological weapons, and not to harbour any fleeing Baathist officials. Although it was very unlikely that the USA had the military capability to head into Syria straight after its invasion of Iraq, the Syrian government has been very cooperative. Why is this? Perhaps US statesmen and diplomats are saying quietly to their Syrian counterparts the one word that will have them submitting to anything the USA demands Lockerbie. I remember that Syria was the original culprit as its government was closely connected with a Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (General Command), that was widely suspected of carrying out the bombing of the Pan American aeroplane back in 1988, but when Syria was encouraged to join the anti-Iraq coalition in the First Gulf War, all of a sudden the blame was shifted to Libya, and a trial took place in which a Libyan government official was tried and convicted on the most unconvincing evidence. Now, with Syria enjoying candidate membership of the Axis of Evil, an ideal way for Bush & Co to get their way will be to whisper Lockerbie in the appropriate ear-holes in Damascus. And hasnt Syria been so very meek and mild And should the US government wish whip up hysteria at home against Syria as part of a build-up to an attack, it knows what word it can say there too. Cheney Longville Tam Dalyell: Socialist Idiot THE great German socialist August Bebel once said that anti-Semitism was the socialism of idiots. What he meant was that people who were oppressed by capitalism but who hit out at specific national or ethnical groups in this case Jews were

attacking the wrong target, and thereby confusing the real issues as stake, and permitting the actual villains to escape any blame for their predicament. Tam Dalyells outburst about the supposed influence of a cabal of Jews upon British and US politics is a chemically-pure example of this idiocy. Dalyells statements are a classic case of seeing the tail wag the dog. Yes, there are certain Jews who play a prominent part in the neo-conservative cabal around Bush, and their extreme pro-Israel views are well known. But the staunch support shown by the current US government for the state of Israel and for its hard-right leader Arial Sharon has nothing to do with the number of Jews in Bushs cabal, but is directly the result of the vitally important role that Israel plays in US foreign policy in the Middle East. As things stand, even were Bushs team 100 per cent Gentile, it would stand full-square behind Israel. Were Israel to become of less importance to the interests of the USA, it would be downgraded or even discarded as a central factor in US foreign policy, and would have to sink or swim on its own resources. This, I admit, is unlikely to happen under foreseeable circumstances, but should as seems to be the case Bushs Middle East policy run into trouble, it is quite possible that some of his unscrupulous rivals in the US ruling class would start promoting anti-Semitism as a weapon against him and his clique, using exactly the same arguments as Dalyell, muttering darkly about the influence of a Jewish cabal in the White House. The experience of Germany shows that a capitalist class under pressure will happily sacrifice one ethnical group of its citizens, and even of its own class, in an attempt to save itself. What Dalyells outburst serves to do is, firstly, to identify Jews as a whole with the state of Israel and with the specific policies of the current Israeli government, thereby giving the wrong impression that all Jews endorse Sharons brutal actions against the Palestinians; secondly, to give the silly impression that Jews and the state of Israel control the foreign policy of the USA, thereby giving succour to all manner of ultra-right and extreme Islamic conspiracy-mongers; and thirdly, to let the much larger number of non-Jews in and around Bushs government off the hook. Dalyells stupid statement does nothing to clarify the basis of US and British foreign policy, and does nothing to help the victims of Washingtons imperialist meddling in the Middle East. He should be ashamed of himself. Arthur Trusscott Abstention and Depoliticisation WRITING in the Guardian on 26 June, Paul Foot noted the rise of abstention from elections in Britain. Citing the Labour MP Bill Tynans disquiet that voting for the Scottish Parliament had dropped from 58 per cent to 49 per cent of the electorate and for the Welsh Assembly had dropped from 46 per cent to 38 per cent, and noting Tynans conclusion that voting should be encouraged by means of financial inducements or enforced by legal compulsion, he added that the real cause of this decline was the continual convergence of the political parties around policies which most people know wont improve their lives. Foot continued: As in the US, lots of people, especially the young and the poor, dont see the point in voting. In these circumstances, low turnout is not bad for democracy. It is democracy: the democratic expression of peoples indifference, if not hostility, to the main parties. Any move to bribe people to vote is corrupt and any move to force them to do so is tyrannical.

Foot is correct to note the connection between party policy convergence and declining voting figures. However, the idea of abstentionism representing the democratic expression of peoples indifference is misleading. In principle, there is nothing wrong with abstaining in elections if there are no candidates standing who are worthy of ones vote, and if one clearly explains to people that this abstention is a political act and that a real alternative to the existing parties is necessary. What we have now is a growing tendency towards depoliticisation, a disengagement from politics. Were there a growing sense of political disillusionment with New Labour, then this would in part be reflected in an ever-larger number of votes for left-wing candidates, and particularly for those of the Socialist Alliance. But alongside some good results, such as Foots stand in Hackney and the Scottish Socialist Partys recent successes, the vote for the Socialist Alliance has often been small and at times risible, such as the occasion in East London when its candidates vote didnt even reach double figures. The growing disengagement from politics is part of the general unravelling of British society to which I referred in the last issue of New Interventions. Whilst socialists cannot be sorry at the decline of support for Britains main political parties, just as we dont shed any tears over the decline in respect for organised religion, traditional authority and the Royal Family, it is a real problem that this has not been the result of the growth of a modern rationalist viewpoint associated with people wishing to make history, but is a product of the moral exhaustion of a latter-day capitalist society, and a sign of people retreating from social engagement. A disengagement with politics is very often part of a retreat into the narrowest and most selfish form of individualism, the attitude that holds politics as a whole to be a racket, with the gloomy conclusion being drawn that the only course is everyone for himself and damn everybody else. Politics will, of course, always intrude into peoples lives, but the problem is that any mass action that emerges amongst depoliticised and atomised people is usually of the most reactionary kind, most vividly represented by the vicious attitude against refugees that we have seen of late. One might object by referring to the monster anti-war march earlier this year. To be sure, that was a very positive example of mass political engagement, but in the aftermath, with the government brusquely and insultingly brushing it aside and continuing with its war fever, it is likely that a large number of participants will feel that protest, even on this scale, can achieve little. Socialists, particularly of the Marxist brand, have tended to concentrate upon the scientific rationale for socialism, that capitalism, despite its tremendous quantitative and qualitative advances, is unable to rid the world of poverty, conflict and inequality. At a time when relations amongst people are increasingly being determined solely by money, and when profits and profitability are becoming the sole determining factors within society, it is high time that socialists also promote the moral rationale for socialism. This will enable us to show the possibility of an alternative society in which people can relate to one another in a civilised manner and thus overcome the personally demoralising consequences of capitalism. Rather than blithely praising electoral abstentionism, socialists need to start challenging the trend towards depoliticisation by developing an approach that will encourage people to re-engage with politics. Paul Flewers

Who Decides US Middle-East Policy?


Mitchell Plitnick is the Newsletter Editor of A Jewish Voice for Peace, website www.jewishvoiceforpeace. org. This article is republished with his permission. *** THE comments by Representative James Moran (Democrat VA), just before the invasion of Iraq, regarding the role of the Jewish community in the march to war set off a small firestorm in Washington. Morans statement that if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for the war with Iraq, we would not be doing this was obviously offensive to many Jews, especially the great many who were opposed to the war. More than just ascribing a pro-war stance to an entire community (one which, according to polls, was well in line with the general population in its stance on the war, and less supportive than other groups of Americans of European descent), the statement carries with it the implication that there is Jewish control over American policy, a control that subverts US policy to its own ends. On that level, the reaction of many Jews is correct. Yet it does not suffice simply to react to such a comment without a deeper analysis of what leads to such views. It is insufficient, and in the long term quite dangerous, to write such views off as nothing more than irrational hatred, and ignore any basis it might have in fact, whatever one might think of the interpretation of those facts. We need to ask what evidence might support these views, if we hope to refute them. Furthermore, as American Jews, it is also incumbent upon us to examine these questions fairly. No one would deny that American Jews certainly work very hard to have influence well out of proportion to our numbers in the general population when it comes to matters regarding the Middle East. On the one hand, there is no doubt that the notion that a Jewish cabal has some sort of mystical sway over the policymakers in Washington holds in it a familiar ring of classical antiSemitism. On the other hand, this notion that the war on Iraq was executed at the behest of Jews and for the sake of Jewish interests does not come out the ether. And while it is likely to be the case that some of the proponents and adherents of this idea are indeed motivated by hatred of Jews, it is also true that many also do so because of the evidence. We need to consider if that evidence is incomplete, deceptive or persuasive, and, as Jews, to act accordingly. The most obvious link that is repeatedly drawn is the fact that many of the key people in the Bush administration responsible for our Iraq policy have a long history of backing and even recommending some of the most draconian Israeli policies. Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz are the people most commonly identified with this small group of neo-conservative hawks, and they are two of the primary formulators of Bush administration policy with regard to Middle East. There is also the fact that Israel has from the earliest rumblings of war on Iraq been the most vocal sup-

Mitchell Plitnick

porter of military action against Iraq on the part of the United States and Britain. Underlying all of this is the near-mythical status the pro-Israel lobby enjoys. All of these deserve careful scrutiny to see where Israel and its supporters fit into policy formation, but one can see easily how these factors lead to a conclusion like that of Jim Moran. Yet, if we are ever to hope to see American foreign policy wrested from the hands of those who hold it now, we must not ignore the fact that Israel, its supporters and its political position are integral parts of foreign policy formation. What we need to do is understand where and how they fit in, and to what degree they hold sway. In order to do that, we need first to review how the current state of affairs came about. It is an obvious truism that American policy towards Iraq and American policy regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict are both parts of a larger American foreign policy regarding the Middle East. In 1945, the US State Department referred to the vast oil reserves of the Middle East as a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment. No major power, let alone a superpower, would ever willingly allow the fate of such a prize to be left to political chance or ideological whim, let alone to the capricious interests of those who actually live on the land above that great prize. If this was the case in 1945, how much more so is it now, with the global economy being even more dependent on oil now than it was half a century ago, and with anticipation that reserves may run dangerously low within a few decades? Indeed, it can hardly escape ones notice that the current administration is stocked with people with major interests in mid-level oil companies companies which might well have prime access to some of the worlds largest reserves, and, subsequently, may become considerably less mid-level. But we ought not only look at the prurient self-interest of a few people in the administration, neither for greed nor for fanatical ideological devotion. The large contracts handed out to American corporations to rebuild Iraq were an inevitable consequence of any war, whether fought for legitimate reasons (whatever those might be) or not. Instead, we need to see the entire US policy in the Middle East in the context of the US desire to control one of the greatest material prizes in world history. After the First World War, when the British and French carved up the Arab world and set the (very problematic, in many cases) borders that exist today, the preferred method of rule was to set up puppet governments that would serve the interests of the colonial masters. The British Lord Curzon described this as an Arab faade, one which rules but which remains weak and reliant on the imperial power to maintain its authority. Curzon described the dynamics thusly: There should be no actual incorporation of the conquered territory in the dominions of the conqueror, but the absorption may be veiled by such constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer state and so on. After the Second World War and the global move toward decolonisation, the United States became the dominant power in the Middle East, and refined and adapted the method of control employed by the British. The USA also had to contend with frequently shifting rulers in various key Middle East countries, most notably in Iraq and Egypt. And, of course, all of this happened against the backdrop of the burgeoning Cold War. While the USSR never quite had the reach of the United States, it certainly exerted its own influence on the Middle East, and served as some degree of counterweight to growing US influence. But neither superpower directly controlled the Middle Eastern countries they counted within their respective spheres of influence. Instead, it was the dependence on the

10

superpower that they cultivated in the Arab states, along with rewards to the lites who did their jobs properly and continuing insurance that those lites would always remain at risk from their own populations, thereby assuring the need for the superpowers weapons, aid and training. Thus, Curzons Arab faade was cultivated and refined, allowing a bit more autonomy for the Arab rulers, but maintaining the essentials of control, with a much less visible physical presence required from the superpowers. After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the first Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, immediately set about trying to secure and greatly to enhance the support of the two superpowers, the US and USSR. Correctly reading the political landscape, Ben-Gurion maintained efforts to secure the support of both, but was much more interested in US support, as America was both more powerful than the USSR and had a Jewish community which was in a much better position to aid the Israeli cause. The US decided that, rather than rely only on the Arab faade, which they still did maintain and do to this day, they would, in addition, employ non-Arab states in the region, principally Turkey, Iran and Israel, to protect Western interests, especially from popular and nationalistic forces in the Arab world. After the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt in 1952, there was great concern over his pan-Arab ideology, a fear that Nasser was not only a socialist (heaven forefend! Israels less ideological, and ever-receding, brand of socialism was much less of a concern for US planners), but also a sufficiently charismatic and clever leader that he might be successful in uniting much of the Arab world. This was a great boon to Israeli hopes. Israel had certainly impressed the USA with its war for independence. It enhanced this military reputation in 1956 with its part in the Suez war alongside England and France. Israels reluctance to heed US orders to back off after the war ended concerned the Eisenhower administration, but in time, and with Democrats in the White House after 1960, Israel would be able to overcome that reservation. Indeed, Eisenhower was the last president to threaten to cut off all aid to Israel, which he did to force the Israeli withdrawal from Suez. Support for Israel as a key Cold War ally grew steadily through the late 1950s and 1960s, as Syria and especially Egypt drifted closer to the USSR, sensing that the USA was not going in their direction. During this period, the significance of American Jews was minimal. Most of the lobbying for support came directly from Israel, in the form of high-level meetings and military cooperation in stemming the tide of Nasserism. The perceived threat was that Nassers growing popularity outside of Egypt represented a real possibility of widespread Arab unity, which could lead to a great force in the Middle East that would ally itself with the USSR, and cause a huge shift in the Cold War balance of power. Even more frightening to superpower thinking (of both the USA and USSR), such a unity of Arab states could have independent control of the oil resources, creating a very serious new player on the world scene, one capable of playing hardball with the big boys. There was no political movement of any gravity supporting the Palestinians at this time. The Palestinians were a people who were essentially off the map, never really discussed in any way in American (or most of the rest of the worlds) discourse, beyond occasional, vague references to the refugees who had no other name. But while public attention was not on the Middle East at that time, oil interests were paramount in US policy-formation. US policy in the Middle East was completely dictated by strategic concerns regarding the control of oil and, to a lesser extent, Cold War calculations. The 1967 war cemented Israel as the USAs chief agent in the region. It was after the 1967 war that aid to Israel began to skyrocket and take on a status that was very much removed

11

from aid to other countries in the world. It would be several more years before the American pro-Israel lobby gained any serious strength, or before a devoutly proIsrael individual could be said to occupy a key role in policy planning (that would be Henry Kissinger, the originator of both shuttle diplomacy and the American policy of rejectionism). So, all that had happened to that point had nothing to do with a Zionist lobby. That does not mean, though, that sympathy for the Zionist cause, from many different roots, did not play a role. Tom Segev, in his book One Palestine, Complete, details some intriguing sources of support for Chaim Weizmanns early push in support of the Zionist cause in Britain. What makes them so intriguing is that they were frequently motivated by hatred or fear of Jews in Britain, and often came out of the thinking of Dispensationalist Christianity, relatively new at the time, but quite popular among the lites of both England and the USA, and the direct ancestor of todays Evangelical wing of Falwell, Robertson, et al. But there is no basis for an assertion of any significant power that Jews held in Britain at the time. Rather, it was simply the case that Weizmanns Zionist aspirations melded quite perfectly with British imperial designs for the Middle East in the early twentieth century, and that, paradoxically, it was the very antiSemitism of many British nobles that led them to wish to help the Jews and to see them move, en masse, to the Middle East. The Zionists offered the British a way to draw Europes Jews off the continent and to establish a reliable colonial outpost in the key travel spot between Europe and Asia, and an outpost for British control of petroleum resources. Thus, the Balfour Declaration, which viewed with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, is explicable by both a wish to rid Europe of its Jewish citizens and British imperial designs. This would be the case frequently over the decades. To be sure, the situation in the USA regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict shifted dramatically after the 1967 war. The Israeli giddiness over that victory was shared and encouraged in the USA. And it was during this time, the decade of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, that the Zionist lobby began to grow more powerful. Israels assertion of itself as a military power so vastly superior to any combination of Arab states greatly elevated it in the eyes of American strategists. An internal State Department battle was waged between William Rogers, who wanted the US to force Israel to comply with UNSC 242 to resolve the 1967 wars after-effects, and Henry Kissinger, who believed that ongoing tension combined with an Israel that the USA would maintain as a regional superpower was the best way to safeguard US interests in the region both against the Soviets and against Arab nationalism. Only then did groups like the American-Israel Public AffairsCommittee begin to wield significant influence. But the bedrock was laid during 1948-67, and that foundation came down without significant political pressure from the Jewish community. What pressure there had been during that period was the result of there being absolutely no advocates on Capitol Hill for anything other than support for Israel, combined with the clear preference American planners had for investing their concerns in the one country in the Middle East they knew would never fall to anti-American populists. AIPAC and other lobbying groups have attained a nearly mythical status in the minds of American political strategists and pundits. The reputation is not without its merits. Capitalising on the progression of events described above, Jewish groups supporting Israel steadily increased their influence on Capitol Hill. In the 1970s, much of their people-power came from alliances with the major labour unions, the AFL-CIO and others. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 caused a sea change in

12

Jewish politics, and the leadership began a dramatic shift from mainstream liberalism toward conservatism, a trend that has reached its apex in the twenty-first century, as the elements of Jewish leadership that have far and away the most political influence are those which represent the extreme right-wing of American Jewry. The names are the familiar ones, along with others whose politics, like Abe Foxman, Mort Zuckerman and Morton Klein, have drifted farther and farther to the right over the years. In subsequent years, the right-wing Jewish leadership has forged strong ties with the Christian Right and with major arms suppliers. These ties are kept relatively quiet as they would not be met with enthusiasm among many American Jews, most of whom still fall on the liberal side of American politics. In the past two years, as even American liberals have moved more toward a conservative and fearful political position, these ties have been kept somewhat less guarded. It was during the period of Reagans assent that AIPAC gained national prominence, as it worked hard to defeat several members of Congress, including Senator Charles Percy, and Representative Paul Findley, whose names have become symbols of AIPACs power. Percy in particular, as a multi-term and popular senator, was seen as an extreme show of power. Yet it was not an event likely to be replicated. A private activist raised money and launched his own anti-Percy campaign, thus imbuing a charge into the campaign against Percy with a big boon. Yet the Percy campaign did not lose on money alone, as they did raise and spend more money than his opponent, Paul Simon. But the private activity probably did turn the tide, something that has not been replicated and probably wont be. Subsequent targets of AIPAC have been carefully chosen. When people like Pete McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard have been defeated in recent years, and AIPAC has been visibly and publicly active in working against them, AIPACs power reputation has been strongly reinforced. Yet, in every case, there is powerful and persuasive evidence to suggest they all would have been defeated anyway. Battles that AIPAC is not positive it will win are not entered into, as any defeat might greatly diminish the reputation AIPAC enjoys. AIPAC is often used as a symbol for the political forces which work to support Israel in Congress, the State Department and the media. These are forces which are far vaster than any one organisation, and certainly AIPAC is not the most powerful of them by a long shot. Campaign contributions from military-related industries (which include those who deal directly in weapons and planes and the like, but also hi-tech industries which are profoundly dependent on military applications for substantial percentages of their profits) dwarf those from pro-Israel PACs. In terms of rallying voters, help from trade and labour unions in the past, and the Evangelical Christians today is the source, not Jewish groups. These forces, put together, are a formidable combination. In terms of the formation of policy, we can see its roots in several different organisations these days. As regards the Middle East, much attention has been paid to the Jewish Institute on National Security Affairs (JINSA), and rightly so. It should be noted that many of the people involved with JINSA are not Jewish. Other groups include the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs (WINEP), the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and such old conservative stalwarts as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. While many Jews are prominent in some of these organisations, they are clearly and greatly outnumbered by others, yet they reflect almost identical stances as regards American foreign policy in the Middle East. Their conception of what are

13

Americas best interests is the paramount consideration. All evidence suggests that the same could be said for Henry Kissinger, as well as those today that might be considered his disciples, such as Wolfowitz, Perle, Douglas Feith and Eliot Abrams. Indeed, it is striking to note how much greater a number of Jews who support both the Iraq war and the Sharon government are publicly visible compared to their relative numbers among those whose voices carry weight in policy formation. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the Jewish face is being put on these policies publicly, precisely to encourage the perception of a Jewish cabal subverting US policy. In reality, US policy regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict has been remarkably consistent since 1967, no matter what kind of administration was in power and no matter how much relative political power pro-Israel or Jewish groups have had in American politics. Still, there is no doubt that members of Congress will go to great lengths to avoid running afoul of AIPAC. Why is that? There are several factors. One certainly is that AIPAC is probably the best at what they do. They employ a slew of analysts, strategists and marketing consultants, and the results are clearly very strong. They know how to run a campaign, and how to exert pressure on representatives. But more important, in my view, is the field on which they play. They are a foreign policy action group, in a country where, in terms of elections, foreign policy is not high on the agenda of most voters, especially where American lives are not directly involved. They are also virtually unopposed in Washington. Lobbying efforts by groups supporting Palestinian rights or any other programme aside from blind support of Israel have been woefully inadequate over the years. Thus, you have a group putting a great deal of energy and resources into an issue that most Americans are not going to base their votes on with little counterweight. Thus, there is no political purchase for politicians to dissent upon. That is why other lobbying groups, such as the National Right to Life Movement (a deceptive name if ever there was one) or the National Rifle Association, which have even more fundraising abilities and more supporters in key official positions than AIPAC are nowhere near as successful. There is significant opposition to them, and thus a political leg for politicians to stand on in opposition. What about the media? Much has been made, and quite correctly, about the way mainstream media portray the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is certainly true that the portrayal is distorted. It is equally true that Jewish organisations focus a good deal of effort and pressure on major media when they detect even a hint of movement away from the party line. But it is wrong to suggest, as many often do, that this is the result of Jewish influence over the media. Again, it is true that Jews are disproportionately represented in media industries. But if we look at this question we see quickly that what is portrayed in the media very much reflects US policy. And the Israel-Palestine conflict is far from unique. There is an ongoing problem in the Western Sahara, perpetrated by an American ally, Morocco, which bears in many ways a striking resemblance to the Israel-Palestine conflict, yet few Americans even know about it, nor did they when the conflict was at its height in the 1980s. Exceedingly few Americans know that Kurds even live in Turkey, thinking they all live in Iraq (in fact, Kurds live in and face serious discrimination and persecution in Iran and Syria as well, though the problem is by far the worst in Turkey, far more so than in Iraq). Even fewer know about the programmes in Turkey geared to wiping out the Kurds, and even fewer know that the USA has actively supported these activities. Few Americans knew about Indonesias brutal, 20-plus year occupation of East Ti-

14

mor before the explosions there in 1999, and most have probably forgotten about them. Again, the real issue is not Jewish control of the media, nor is it true that the awful coverage of Israel/Palestine is unique, but rather that we in the USA have a subservient media which, particularly on matters of foreign policy, will avoid any deviation from the party line. The argument over the formation of US foreign policy is unlikely to end. The perception of Jewish control is intentionally enhanced both by right-wing Jewish leaders and by others who may see a convenient scapegoat in the Jews should the need ever arise (a classic role of Jews over the centuries, and a fundamental building block of classical anti-Semitism). The real forces behind that policy formation are much more formidable. Yet they also remain vulnerable. The more Americans we can make aware of how their tax dollars are being spent, how much of their own money is being used to finance the grossest of human rights violations and occupation, and how that expense is being used to fatten the already fat in the USA while promoting intense hatred of Americans (indeed, of Jews as well) in much of the world, the more we will chip away at the control those forces have over US foreign policy, a control they exercise very much to the detriment not only of Palestinians, but also Israelis and Americans as well. As Americans, that is our responsibility. As Jews, it is even more so, as well as very much in our own best interests. The continuing growth of the belief that a cabal of Jews subverts US policy against its own interests, is only one more reason for us to do so. But we can only accomplish that if we get people away from their conspiracy theory beliefs and toward a better understanding of US policy formation, and how the interests of military, corporate and political leaders differ from those of peace and justice. Many people believe that it is in American interests to be a truly fair player in the Israel-Palestine conflict. That conclusion is dependent on how those interests are understood, because the interests of arms dealers, the hi-tech industry and US imperial interests are served neither by peace nor justice.

Why the Reversion to Islamic Archaism?


This article first appeared in Khamsin, no 8, 1981, a journal of revolutionary socialists of the Middle East. The editorial board of New Interventions felt that at a time when fundamentalist Islam is being presented by Western politicians, commentators and publications as the premier threat to Western civilisation, the roots of this religious political trend need to be explained. Although certain predictions made by the author have not come about, the Islamic regime in Iran has proven more durable than he contended, and certain factors most notably, the existence of the Soviet Union no longer apply, there is much that remains pertinent in this article. One need only look at the manner in which the political vacuum in Iraq left by the defeat and collapse of the Baath regime is rapidly being filled by Islamic organisations. Notwithstanding the USAs defeat of the Taliban regime and its incarceration of al-Qaeda

Lafif Lakhdar

15

suspects, readers will be aware how fundamentalist Islam has been used by Western powers over the two decades following the publication of this article, especially in Afghanistan, where they were used to destroy the only political forces that were trying to modernise that society. The insincere nature of the outrage of Western rulers against Muslim extremists is proven by their generous sponsoring of them in the past and by their support for the current regime in Kabul. It serves as a warning that such reactionary forces could once more be supported by Western powers should a left-wing, secular opposition reappear in the Islamic and Arab world. *** IN order to gain a critical understanding of the persistence of Islamic archaism and all its paraphernalia, one must approach it through the logic of its own history, as well as that of the Arabo-Muslim bourgeoisie of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which is radically different from the process of European history and from the residual folkloric Christianity of the present-day West. Islamic Integralism: Not a Reformation Let me explain: some orientalists, such as the American Richard Michel, see in the activist Islamic movements a potential for reforming Islam. In other words, a way of rationalising it, thus bringing it closer to Western liberalism. Such writers have clearly succumbed to the comic temptation of analogy and to the lazy facility of repetition. For, if one sets up a parallel between the contemporary Islamic Brotherhoods and the European Reformation, one is just making a mockery of concrete history. Seen historically, the Reformation is an integral part of the making of the modern world, of the birth of nations and their languages from the ruins of the Holy Roman Empire and its celestial counterpart the Church. This process led, through a long route of development, to the explosion of the third estate a fact of decisive importance, without parallel in the modern history of Islam an explosion which brought forth the French Revolution and hence modern nations and classes. The Islamic movements are located in a completely different historical context. To conflate this context with that of the Reformation is to misunderstand the origins and development of the current movement of Islamic integralism, as well as its historical antecedent the pan-Islamic movement of the nineteenth century. Pan-Islamism took form under the political direction of the Ottoman sultan himself and the ideological direction of al-Afghani and Abduh. Its aim was to defend the caliphate (the empire) which was slowly but surely breaking up as a result of the combined thrusts of European economic and ideological penetration and of the nationalist demands of the Balkan peoples, especially the Serbs and the Bulgars, who were struggling for emancipation both from the domination of the Ottoman rulers and from the religious domination of the ecumenical patriarchate who still hankered after the idea of a grand new empire with Greece at its centre. Blinded by their pro-Ottoman prejudices, the believers in pan-Islamism did not realise that times had changed and that the era of modern nation-states had succeeded that of the empires of former times. True to itself, pan-Islamism was keenly opposed to the secular and liberal anti-Ottoman tendency of the Arab Christians Shibli Shumayyil, the Darwinist, was one of their leading spokesmen during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This latter tendency considered the only answer to European penetration and Ottoman despotism to be the complete adoption of the European model of civilisation, as well as the separation of the Arab provinces from the empire and hence the formation of a modern nation.
16

Pan-Islamism countered these liberal demands with its famous old rubbish about the need for a just despot modelled on the second caliph, Umar, who would impose on his subjects a bovine discipline for 15 years before guiding them step by step to the age of reason. To the idea of the formation of a secular Arab nation comprising Muslims, Christians and Jews, pan-Islamism replied with the Muslim nation in the Koranic meaning of the term that is, a community of believers. They even thought that they could stop the Arabo-Muslim provinces of the empire from breaking away by unifying Sunni Islam through the merging of its four rites. This response to the challenge of European modernism was not only anachronistic it was also uncertain. The leading spokesman of pan-Islamism, al-Afghani, vacillated from one position to another. This high priest of pan-Islamism sometimes opted for pan-Arabism which implied the break-up of the empire; a staunch proOttoman, he at times advocated the Arabisation of the empire, which would mean that the Turks, the dominant element in the empire, would be in an inferior position; a militant opponent of socialism, as a theory imported from Europe, he at times predicted the universal victory of socialism; an ideologist of Islamic fundamentalism, he at times (probably under the influence of Freemasonry, of which he was a member) advocated the merging of the three monotheistic religions in a new synthesis which would be superior to each of them. This idea was openly heretical. His disciple Abduh, after having taken part in the Urabi uprising (1881 an anti-British and anti-authoritarian revolt, violently condemned by the sultan), later recanted. This confusion and incoherence of pan-Islamism are closely linked to the decline of the Arab-Muslim world since the second half of the thirteenth century, and to its having been conquered, for the first time in its history, by bourgeois Europe. In the last analysis, the followers of pan-Islamism reflected the feelings of the big pro-Ottoman landowners. These landowners owed their position to the first attempt at privatisation of the crown domanial estates, which was carried out in the semi-modern, semi-oriental state of Muhammad Ali. They were aware of the threat which European influence presented to their interests. Besides, British domination was to encourage, at their expense, the growth of a new rural class based on small and medium landowners. It is this very class which constituted the core of the modern Arab bourgeoisie. The pan-Islamism of the nineteenth century, known as al-Nahda (Awakening), is in no way comparable to the Reformation and still less to the Renaissance, which was a return to the pre-Christian values of pagan Graeco-Roman civilisation. Even the Counter-Reformation was a progressive movement in comparison with contemporary Muslim integralism. The latter began in 1928, that is, after the First World War, which marks the beginning of the decline of the capitalist mode of production, whose crisis since then has been permanent. Henceforth all variants of the bourgeoisie are regressive. Besides, one cannot, without making a fool of oneself, identify the path of the history of the Arabo-Islamic world with that of modern Europe. The dynamics are quite different. An impassioned criticism of the religious illusion; successive revolutions commercial, cultural, scientific, philosophic, bourgeois, industrial and finally the creation of the nation-state; this sums up the essence of Europes history since the Renaissance. The Copernican earthquake, the heresies, the Enlightenment, 1792, 1848, 1871, 1917 were so many mortal blows to religion and to mystical obscurantism. Priests had already become a species doomed to extinction, and Christianity is a shadow of

17

its former self thanks to the anti-Christian currents which the French Revolution brought forth. From the fury of the direct democracy of the Revolution, Year II to Freud, who demonstrated that the mechanisms and pulsations of the unconscious owe nothing to a Great Supervisor, religious indifference bordering on atheism became internalised in the collective unconscious of the greatest number. Whereas in the Islamic world the mosque still wishes to dominate everything, in the West television every evening plays admirably the roles of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and thus turns church, family and soon school into as many anachronisms. God, having been put to death by the bourgeois revolution, and the church having become marginalised, the nation-state appears upon the altar at which all citizens, irrespective of racial and religious origin, take communion. Within this profoundly profane Europe, the nation-state imposed itself through the dual process of assimilation of the bourgeoisies and of ethnic or religious minority groups, and the marginalisation of national and religious particularisms. It was that outcome of the bourgeois revolution which cut the umbilical cord linking the modern bourgeoisie to its medieval ancestors. Bourgeoisie Without Bourgeois Revolution In the Arabo-Muslim world, this process has not taken place, and the nation-state did not see the light of dawn. The modern Arab state an abortion of the project for a state which Napoleon attempted to implement in Egypt, which was taken over by Muhammad Ali and which still survives today with a modernistic faade and caliphate foundations has not succeeded in rising to the rank of the nation-state. It has remained a confessional state, subject to the following cycle: composition, decomposition, recomposition. It has in the main remained inveterately despotic and denominational. Religion, in this case Islam, plays the role of a catalyst for the collective memory of the umma, the Koranic nation, undifferentiated and cemented by divine law. As the bourgeois patrie has not been created, the wars that the AraboMuslim bourgeoisie has been fighting from one decade to the next are not patriotic wars but jihads. For lack of a bourgeois revolution, the Arab state, although bourgeois in its social and anti-proletarian role, has not been able to attain its true development into a self-sufficient modern state which does not need to lean on the crutches of Islam. Its denominational character, since Islam is proclaimed the state religion, prevents it to date from creating a true national cohesion. This could only be carried out in a nondenominational state which would result from a fusion and recasting of all the present components of its national bourgeoisie. Since they have not succeeded in this respect, each Arab state is a mosaic of particularisms of all sorts whose creeds, ethnic loyalties, dialects and mental outlooks are different and contradictory. Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are dramatic examples of this. This explains why at times of crisis regional, tribal, ethnic or confessional bonds often blunt the edge of social interests and the horizontal division of Arabo-Islamic society, which is unconsciously experienced as a juxtaposition of clannish partisanships (asabiyat) rather than as a society of open class struggle. The fact that there is still no secular dimension within the Arab state means that the Christians and the Jews, not the mention the free-thinkers, are still subject in effect to a status of dhimmi (tributary) as they were 14 centuries ago. The secularisation of the Arabo-Muslim state, so bitterly opposed both by the pan-Islamism of the nineteenth century and by present-day Islamic integralism, was

18

never insisted on by any party or Arabo-Muslim thinker. True, al-Kawakibi recommended the union of Christian and Muslim Arabs but within the framework of the sacrosanct Islamic caliphate whose caliph must be a Qurayshi (an Arab from Muhammads tribe). Similarly, the Arab uprising of 1916-19, which was supported by Great Britain, only attacked the Ottoman empire in order to appeal to all true Muslims to overthrow the atheist government which had dethroned the sultan and confiscated his property. Even the Egyptian National Party, which considered itself to be Jacobin, was fiercely anti-secular. They attacked Qasim Amin for having recommended a measure of emancipation for Muslim women within the confines of a slightly reinterpreted Islam. Their leader Mustafa Kamil jumped for joy when a law court annulled the marriage of a Muslim lady with a Copt journalist. Worse still, the partys paper, alMuayyed, made a concerted attack on the Copts for not having converted to Islam. The present leaders of the Arab bourgeoisie are in this respect faithful to their predecessors. Qadafi has recently stated that Arab nationalism is part of Islam It is not normal that there be in the Arab homeland an Arab who is not a Muslim. The Christian Arab has no right to belong to the Arab nation, whose religion is not his own. Just as the fully-fledged subject in medieval Europe was a Christian, the true citizen in the Arab world is a Muslim. Qadafi says out loud what his Arabo-Muslim colleagues whisper to each other. King Faisal told Sadat when the latter had come to tell him of his decision (along with Syria) to open hostilities against Israel in 1973: It would be catastrophic to declare war together with a Syria governed by the Bathists and the Alawis [a sect of Shii Islam]. To ally with Bathists is to risk disaster. But with Alawis especially, it would be tantamount to courting a double disaster. This morbid confessionalism is explained by the conditions which gave rise to the Arabo-Muslim bourgeoisie and by its vital need to resort to Islam for its survival. This bourgeoisie emerged not in a revolution, but as the result of a lame compromise with its colonialist opposite number; for it was born from agriculture and not from industry. Finally, it is a late arrival on the scene, a class whose birth, after the First World War, coincided with the beginning of the decline of the bourgeoisie on a world level. In order to remain in command when faced with the challenge of the people, it could only rely (apart from the armed forces) on Allah and Islam as the principal mystification of the toiling masses, since it had not succeeded, due to its immense economic backwardness, in setting up the modern mystifications inherent in political and trade union pluralism. Its incapacity to create a prosperous economy capable of satisfying the quantitative demands of the proletariat left only Islam as an ideological weapon for paralysing the social dynamics, blocking the intellect of the masses, maintaining the subanimal status of women, and mystifying the class struggle. The struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed degenerated often through the efforts of the political and religious establishments into a sterile confrontation between Muslims and non-Muslims, Sunnis and Shiis. In short, Islam, as its etymological meaning indicates, was able to force its subjects into submission. Being decadent from birth, the Arab bourgeoisie was incapable of creating either its own market or its own national unity. Hence its allegiance to the imperialisms of today and to the Ottoman empire of former times. Urabi, in the midst of the war against the British expeditionary force, refused to publish and to refute his excommunication as an asiy (rebel) by the Ottoman sultan this excommunication was obtained moreover thanks to the promises and threats of the British. When the

19

Khedive and the British spread it about in the Egyptian army, the latter became demoralised. The soldiers of the first national Egyptian uprising no longer wished to die as rebels rather than as martyrs bearing the blessing of a Turkish sultan. More than 40 years later, Asd Zaghlul the father of secular Egyptian nationalism refused to support the abolition of the Ottoman empire by the Turks themselves, because, he said, the multitude is very sensitive to this subject. Muhammad Farid, leader of the Egyptian National Party, went even further when he wrote: The Muslims of Egypt owe it to themselves to link themselves forever to Turkey, which is the capital of the Islamic caliphate, without the slightest consideration for their history in Egypt or elsewhere. We find in the words of an Egyptian Jacobin the fundamental thesis of the pan-Islamism of Afghani: The nationality of Muslims is only their religion. From Failed Pan-Islamism to Ineffectual Modernism Although the ideological demarcations between the discourse and the confessional practices of the Arab-Muslim bourgeoisie on the one hand and pan-Islamic fundamentalism on the other are tangled, a new fact did emerge the defeat of panIslamism. In 1919, Islam appears to be the loser. The Home of Islam, apart from North Yemen, Afghanistan and what was to become Saudi Arabia, was totally under European domination. The recipe of the pan-Islamists an Islam reunified and purified by a return to the sources and thus able to defy the European challenge turned out to be ineffectual. Its original contradiction, between the need to accede to power and therefore to modernism, and the tendency to regress to a primitive Islam full of taboos, incompatible with the demands of power and modernity, became flagrant. This contradiction in fact expresses the historical impossibility of the realisation of this double aim. In the epoch of permanent crisis, it was impossible for the Islamic bourgeoisie to catch up with advanced capitalism; and at a time when the world market was being unified under the dictatorship of mass consumption, it was impracticable to return to a pure and undiluted, austere and inward-looking Islam. The abolition of the Islamic caliphate by Ataturk in 1924 and the separation of the Arab provinces from Turkey meant that pan-Islamism, whose centre was the Ottoman empire, became meaningless. By setting up, 33 years after Jules Ferry, republican schools which were compulsory and non-denominational and opting for the European model of life, Ataturk rehabilitated the tendency of Shibli Shumayyil, the rival of pan-Islamism. Moreover, this was to be the tendency of the new westernised Arab-Muslim intelligentsia which began to emerge between the two world wars. Traditionalist Islamic discourse was no longer a central theme. Their leading spokesman, Taha Husain, even went as far as to mock the rhetoric of the Koran which was unanimously considered as the one and only divine miracle to authenticate the message of Muhammad. He crossed swords with the traditionalists, whose writings were nothing more than nauseating lamentations about the JudaeoChristian plot to undermine Islam. Taha Husain was condemned even by the most enlightened leaders of the Arab bourgeoisie. He and his fellow-thinkers were more representative of their Parisian teachers than of their own feeble-minded bourgeoisie, which did not put up with the slightest criticism. The intelligentsia of the period between the two world wars was in advance of the bourgeoisie, but behind the times and failed in its absurd attempt to reconcile fundamentalist authenticity with commercial modernism, the specificity of traditionalism with the uniformity which the world market imposed. In short, they want-

20

ed to identify with the bourgeoisie and to be themselves at one and the same time. Drawing their own conclusion from their failure, almost all the modernist intellectuals recanted before the end of the 1940s and tuned into the religious stupidity of the bourgeoisie, which had in the main remained prisoner of the bric-a-brac of Abduhs pan-Islamism, but within the confines of an Islam which had definitively broken up. In the meantime, in Egypt the epicentre of the Arabo-Muslim world, and the model for its evolution the liberal bourgeoisie under the leadership of the Wafd, a bi-denominational and therefore implicitly secular party, also failed in its task of modernising the economy. The other bourgeoisies came to the same impasse. When the failure of the liberal faction of the bourgeoisie was complete, the statist faction took over: 1952 in Egypt, 1954 in Syria, 1958 in Iraq, and finally the civilian NeoDestour in Tunisia in 1956. Once in power, the modernist, authoritarian faction of the Arab bourgeoisie, with its belief in a planned economy, appeared to the old-fashioned faction of the Muslim bourgeoisie as communist in Egypt, Syria and Algeria and as westernised in Tunisia. All the more so as the pro-Soviet tendencies of the former and the prowestern tendencies of the latter were obvious. In the Middle East, the pan-Arab message checked the influence of pan-Islamism. Some agrarian reforms, while not greatly improving the situation of the fallahin, encroached upon the interest of the old landed bourgeoisie, which in many cases included or had close ties with the clergy. The Arab state, even under the modernists, remained true to form, hypocritical and bigoted; the speeches of people such as Bourguiba or Nasser were constantly interspersed with as many quotations from the Koran as they were with statistics. Nevertheless, the reform projects were ill-suited to a profoundly traditionalist Islam. The 1962 Charter in Egypt prattled about scientific socialism, as did the Charters of Algeria and Syria in 1964. In Tunisia, a code of personal law was introduced in 1957 which was ultra-modern and quite unique in the Muslim world. It forbade polygamy, which is permitted in the Koran. Divorce, reduced to a business transaction, was made symmetric, whereas Islam the summit of male chauvinism makes it the sole privilege of the husband. To get an idea of the Muslim clergys hostility to measures of this type, recall that immediately upon achieving power, the Khomeinist government repealed the restrictions that the previous regime had imposed upon a husbands unilateral right to divorce his wife. The ultimate in the relinquishing of Islamic dogmas was Bourguibas abolition of the fast during the month of Ramadan in 1958 in an attempt to deal with the drastic fall in production caused by the fast. As a result of the economic and legislative measures taken by the modernist bourgeoisie where in power, society began to break up and the family to fall apart. The rapid rise to riches of the new bourgeoisie, legendary for its corruption, favoured the emergence in societies in which family or community solidarity was still a matter of honour of a utilitarian outlook bent on money and success. In short, the old form of society was eroded, and the traditional economy was destroyed without anything new taking their place. The failure of the modernisation of the economy was ubiquitous. To this economic failure, the modernising bourgeoisie added in 1967 the military defeat by Israel. The occupation of the whole of Jerusalem, the second most sacred place of Islam, afforded the bitterly persecuted Muslim Brotherhoods another unhoped-for argument to set the middle classes, the social mainstay of those in power, not only against Israel and the USSR, but also against the Arab governments whose lack of faith brought about the whole catastrophe.

21

Internal Causes of Islamic Integralism The old liberal bourgeoisie of landowners and compradors, seriously weakened and discredited by its own failure, could no longer claim to be able to replace the more modern statist bourgeoisie. Only the religious faction, who moreover had the advantage of never having directly exercised power, could do that. All the more so as they were alone in having dared to face those in authority even when the latter seemed to be at the height of their glory. The anguish evoked by the defeat, the permanent crisis of the regimes, which the consequences of the war only deepened, and finally the black sun of melancholy which hardly ever sets in this region, favoured those birds who only fly in the twilight moments of history the religious pulpiteers. At times when the air is filled with doubts and questions, they come forward to offer the afflicted masses their demagogic recipe a return to Islamic archaism. The fact that the Islamic integralists are the only mass opposition party in the Arab world is due not only to the successive failures of both the liberal and statist factions of the bourgeoisie. There are other reasons, both internal and external, which interact with each other. These deserve a closer look. Christianity was first modernised to adapt it to the new Europe. Since the Renaissance, it has been exposed to implacable criticism from Copernicus to Freud, not to mention heresies and revolutions. For lack of a powerful industrial Arab-Muslim bourgeoisie with its own intelligentsia, contemporary Islam has remained sheltered from any sort of subversive criticism. However, as much if not more than other religions, it is sensitive to any type of criticism be it social or scientific. For the Koran has its own bit to add to the biblical absurdities of Genesis. The earth is flat, the sun goes down in a boiling spring near to a people, the stars of the neighbouring sky are destined to be thrown at demons, seven heavens and as many earths were created by Allah. The Universe, it is true, is infinitely huge, and poor Allah might well be unable to make head or tail of it. But when it comes to man a minute being there is less excuse. From among a myriad of examples: sperm, if we are to believe a verse in the Koran, is not secreted by the testicles, but comes from somewhere between the loins and the ribs. Woe betide the Creator who does not even know the anatomy of his own creatures. Even well-informed Muslims do not yet know that Allah, who swore in the Koran always to keep his word, did not keep his promise to keep the Koran intact. Uthman, the third caliph, when collating the Koran, put on one side the three other versions brought by three distinguished Companions of Muhammad: Ubayy, Ibn Masud and Ali, who was to become the fourth caliph. Similarly, they are not aware that their Koran was inspired not only by Allah, but also by Satan: the satanic verses, which for some time permitted the people to worship the idols of the Meccans in order to win them over. The Arab intellectuals of today shun any criticism of Islam, of the most abominable of its dogmas, and even the translation or publication of books clarifying the genesis of Islam such as Maxime Rodinsons Mohammed. The main explanation for this is the fact that the Arab intelligentsia as a whole has made a compact with the left and right factions of the bourgeoisie factions which differ from each other as much as Tweedledum from Tweedledee. In the Arab world, those who think for themselves and are capable of elaborating a criticism of all the sacred or profane mystifications come up against the political and religious censorship of the present Arab state a censorship which is infi-

22

nitely worse than that of the caliphate state. The fact is that the best Arab poets and thinkers of the early centuries of Islam would not be able to exist in the present-day Arab world people like Abu Nuwas, who loved wine and good-looking boys; alMaarri, who was radically anti-religious; or even al-Jahiz with his free libertine style, who was nevertheless considered as one of the leading thinkers of the mutazilite school. As proof, consider the tentacles of a censorship which has not even spared the translations of the works of antiquity and of modern times. In Ovids Metamorphoses, the chaos of the beginnings of the world has been transformed into a certain order of Allah. Platos Republic and Symposium and the Greek tragedies and comedies are radically purged of any references to homosexuality or remarks which outrage conventional morality. In the Divine Comedy, Muhammad is no longer to be found in the eighth circle of the Inferno. In 1954, Abd al-Rahman Badwi collected and translated the articles of the Arab freethinkers of the Middle Ages, entitling the collection Atheism and Islam. The book was rapidly withdrawn from circulation, and nothing more was heard about it. In Syria, since 1971, the censorship has been preventing the publication of the translation of Marxs German Ideology. My own writings, published in Lebanon before the 1973 war, are forbidden everywhere else. They sometimes manage to get through the cordon sanitaire which extends from the Gulf to the Atlantic, thanks to the practice of smuggling, not always for purely commercial aims. This stupid and totalitarian censorship is part of an unspeakable generalised dictatorship. The Arab bourgeoisies only means of mitigating the underdevelopment in the techniques for lying in the mass media its television is still not credible are strong-arm methods from which the whole of society suffers. There is no legal means of defending oneself. Even the few appearances of democracy left by the European colonisers such as the liberty of the press, the party system, the right to strike are abolished in the name of sacrosanct economic development. While retaining a veneer of westernisation, the dirigiste Arab state has retrieved its memory of the caliphate. In the Maghreb, the masses, given their desire for a Messiah and the demagogy of the nationalist lites, imagined that independence would be a home-coming, a return to their traditional culture and to their community solidarity where all Muslims are brothers. The nationalist lites, once in power, did not of course keep their promises. For them, independence meant their own independence from the masses. Worse still, the post-colonial state behaved towards the latter with the same cruelty as the colonial state. In this claustrophobic and decadent Arab society which had no perspective, the most ridiculous mysticisms could develop. The context, it is true, was ideal. A profound and generalised falsification of both social and interpersonal relations, the fatalism of Islam which, once internalised, prevents a person from being himself or herself, from thinking and acting as oneself from seeking the truth of ones own destiny in oneself and not in Allah. The occupation by Israel of the Arab territories provided the integralists with an unhoped-for pretext: it could be interpreted as a just punishment from Allah on all those who had abandoned his religion. The integralist Muslim sects, haloed with their martyrs from 1954 to 1966, especially in Egypt, swarmed clandestinely. Worse still, they became credible. All the more so since they were favoured by the fact that the unspeakable authoritarianism of those in power left practically no means of expression or autonomous organisa-

23

tion. Only the mosques were protected from censorship. They became places where the masses whose ranks were broken by despotism received a politico-religious indoctrination. Then came the October War with its parade of intense Islamic propaganda, and the oil boom which enabled Libya and especially Saudi Arabia to distribute their petro-dollars to the integralist groups everywhere in order to undermine left-wing extremists, or pro-Soviet groups as in Syria. Even at the time when the modernist statist bourgeois faction was still credible, Saudi Arabia was used as the prototype by repressed or persecuted Islamic archaism; and its emergence following the October war on the ruins of Nassers Egypt as the leader of the Arab world gave the Brotherhoods of Sunni Islam not only more subsidies, but the model of an Islam true to itself. The propaganda pounded out by the Western media depicting Saudi Arabia as the new giant with the power of life and death over Western civilisation stimulated, in old and young alike, the nostalgic old desire for the return of Islam to its former strength. External Causes These are the internal causes which favour a massive return to Islam. There are also external causes: the decline of the West, and its attempt to take advantage of the Islamic movements. The decline of the West has become obvious. Its dying throes shake the economic, ethical and aesthetic order; its traditional ideologies socialist as well as liberal are dead. In short, it no longer presents even for itself a feasible project for civilisation. The Arab-Muslim intelligentsia, which had formerly earned its daily bread by circulating the latest cultural fashions of this same Western civilisation, is now thrown back on its own resources and outdated values. As though by some magic power, it has now begun to rediscover the long-forgotten virtues of the celebrated Return to the Source advocated by the pan-Islamism of a bygone age. Thus Zaki Najib Mahmud, grown grey in the service of American positivism, realises at the end of his life that he had considerably underestimated al-turath, the ArabIslamic heritage, which if we are to believe him is capable after all of rejuvenating good old Arab society! Others in turn have suddenly discovered, more than two generations after the Dadaists, the bankruptcy of eighteenth-century rationalism which had promised to usher in the reign of reason in everyday life a belated discovery of a bankruptcy which was already clearly visible in the debris of the First World Butchery. Yet others have discovered that the alcoholism, drug addiction and youth vandalism rampant in the West are all due to the decline of religious feelings, and they would like to protect their own society from these evils. In short, the fact that the Arab-Muslim intelligentsia as a whole, which only yesterday was looking to the West, is now withdrawing into itself is grist to the mill of Islamic integralism. The monotheistic religions arose from the ashes of ancient civilisations. The present return to religious archaism (which, in varying degrees, is taking place all over the world) is nourished by the putrescence of our civilisation, which constantly reminds man of death, and which makes the apocalypse a daily occurrence. Within one generation, it has led to two world carnages which resulted in 20 and 50 million deaths and several hundred million wounded and permanently shocked. There is now talk of a third world war. Two great powers, the USA and the USSR, have at their disposal sufficient nuclear arms to destroy our planet five times over. In the industrialised societies people are dying of obesity. In the Third World, 50 million hu-

24

man beings of whom 15 million are children die from malnutrition every year. That is, as many people die of malnutrition every year as died in the Second World War. The West does not only encourage the return to Islamic archaism by its own decline, but even more by its intrigues. Both Europeans and Americans have long been forced to seek the help of Islam in the suppression of embryonic social struggles in Muslim countries and in opposing their Soviet rival. Moreover, the latter used it to try to exploit Nassers pan-Arabism against the West. M Copland, the former chief of the CIA in the Middle East, revealed in his book The Game of Nations that as from the 1950s the CIA began to encourage the Muslim Brotherhood to counteract communist influence in Egypt. This trend has become more pronounced since then. We hear the same tune from Giscard dEstaing, who confided to members of his cabinet before taking the plane for the Gulf in March 1980: To combat communism we have to oppose it with another ideology. In the West, we have nothing. This is why we must support Islam. Brzezinski, the chief adviser to the White House, discovers in religious wars still other virtues: The religious troubles in the Middle East could arouse a common desire to find a definitive settlement between the Arabs and Israel. It is therefore clear that the coming to power of Khomeinism in Iran has in no way altered the Wests determination to manipulate militant Islam. Future Islamic governments would be, especially at the outset, difficult clients, but clients all the same. Restructuring the Arab World The Wests need to ally with Islam is considerably more compelling than the brevity of the declarations would lead us to believe. As in Latin America, the American bourgeoisie attempts to democratise as far as possible outdated dictatorships of the Iranian type within its sphere of influence in the Islamic world. In fact, the traditionalist caste-like dictatorships, the clannish patriarchal type of governments as in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates in the Gulf, or elsewhere which forbid any change in power, are incompatible with two major requirements: that of the new international division of labour and that of the remodelling of the map of the Arab-Muslim world. The restructuring of the saturated world market, demanded by the new reorganisation of the international division of labour undertaken by the multinationals, requires in turn a restructuring of the political powers in the regions concerned so that they can play their role there. The leading technology on which the development of the highly profitable economic sectors of the future depend, such as computers or micro-electronics, will be the monopoly of the West with the USA in the lead; the outdated or polluting industries (steel, naval construction), specialisation in certain types of agriculture and some sub-contracted industries, will be the lot of the Third World. The possessors of the manna, in the form of petro-dollars, will have to play the role of international bankers financing the projects evolved by Western experts for the development of certain underdeveloped countries. The implementation of this new international division of labour is dependent in the Arab-Muslim world on the remodelling of its map. The balance of power in this area between the Ottomans, British and Russians, which was upset by the consequences of the First World War, was restored by a new balance between British and French. These two divided between them the spoils of the defeated Ottoman Empire. In their turn, the consequences of the Second World

25

War meant the wane of British and French imperialism and the rise of American and Russian imperialism. In 1920, there was the Treaty of Sevres; in 1945, there was Yalta. But after the departure of the British and the French and their replacement by the Americans and the Russians, there was no proper agreement to ratify the new de facto balance of power. The Arab-Muslim world has remained a shady area open to all rivalries. The intensification of the world crisis now demands a new imperialist distribution of the energy market (the USSR needs 18 per cent of the Middle East oil), access to raw materials and spheres of influence. In short, a new Yalta, or world settlement, is required for oil, since the alternative is open bargaining or open confrontation. All the states, apart from Israel, and perhaps Egypt, will probably have to change their frontiers, their populations, their name and, naturally, their patrons. The map which will emerge from this new Yalta will probably be an outcome of the break-up of the present states into denominational mini-states, which may then be regrouped into federations or confederations. The keystone of this attempt politically to restructure the Arab-Muslim area will be the rise of the new middle classes. Local technocracies have considerably developed due to the export of oil and to the spread of education. Their ambition is to participate in public affairs, hitherto monopolised by the tribal-dynastic castes. This participation, which implies a degree of modernisation of the states in question, is (if we are to believe the specialists of the multinationals and their computers) going to prevent both autonomous popular movements and possible pro-Soviet coups dtat, even in Saudi Arabia. But how can this be achieved? In Brzezinskis own words, by the manipulation of the existing forces with the aim of changing the outdated socio-economic status quo, before Moscow does so to its advantage. Henceforth, it would be preferable not to risk military coups dtat, except in cases of extreme emergency. True, armies have for decades been the agents of change which the West has manipulated as it desired; but the situation has now changed. Thirty years ago, given the widespread weakness of all the social classes, they were the only organised force capable of disciplining the toiling masses which were too turbulent at the time. Then they failed in their task of modernising the economy. Worse still: a series of coups dtat beginning with Egypt, then in Syria, Algeria Libya and finally Ethiopia had started off in Washington and ended up in Moscow. When the tactic of the coup dtat had been exhausted, the West thought it had found a replacement in the religious movements. These movements were the mouthpiece of the urban and rural middle classes, and of the mystified subproletariat which crowded into the poverty belts surrounding the prodigal capitals. It is possible that the idea was not to give over all the power to the clergy, but preferably to manipulate the religious and secular opposition as a whole to clear they way for the technocrats. Once the battle was won, the clergy would return to their flocks, and would busy themselves with the management of their estates. (However, the example of Iran is not too encouraging) In short, the idea was to replace the anachronisms by modernist, liberal formations with a religious outlook or backing. Modernist means capable of setting up an economy enmeshed, by the very constraints of the laws of the market, with that of the West. It also implies the ability to maintain an army efficiently equipped and trained, but closely linked to the Western system of defence. There is also the need to look after the interests of the multinationals whose guardians they are to be. Liberal means capable of exploiting to the

26

utmost parliamentary mystification and political and trade-unionist pluralism in order to enlarge and consolidate the social basis of the regime. Religious outlook or backing means the reforging of the good old alliance between the sword and the Koran in order to check any rebirth of radical social movements, and if possible to destabilise the Muslim republics in the USSR. Translated into Koranic terms, this is what Carter wanted to see implemented in this area friendly governments, Islamic and liberal, who respect human rights. Given the explosive contradictions at work, the economic situation approaching bankruptcy almost everywhere, there is nothing to ensure that the will of the Master of the White House be done. Neither the crowned monarchy nor the jackbooted republic was able to extricate this part of the world from its chronic, general crisis. Will the turbaned republic be able to do so? Nothing is less likely. The Islamic movements, given their composite social nature and especially their lack of an even remotely credible programme, are not capable of coming to power, or of staying there for any length of time. The Muslim Brotherhood The double failure of the first rising of the modern Egyptian bourgeoisie in 1919, which achieved neither independence nor a constitutional government; Ataturks abolition of the Islamic caliphate in 1923; the rise of fascism in Italy, which impressed the majority of the average traditionalist Muslim intelligentsia; the rise of Stalinism in the USSR, which attracted the attention of the left-wing Christian intellectuals, who were also fascinated by the impotent cult of power; finally the grimness of the interwar period dominated by the general feeling of defeat of Western civilisation with its basis in the cult of science and of reason all these created an environment which favoured the irruption of the irrational into contemporary history. In this setting, the Fraternity of Muslim Brethren was founded in Egypt in 1928, only a few months before the emergence of the crisis of 1929 which was to lead to the Second World War. Their organisational model was based both on esoteric Muslim sects of the Middle Ages and on modern fascism. Article 2 of their statutes states that members must undertake to submit to iron discipline and to carry out the orders of their superiors. Their charismatic Supreme Guide is, like a caliph, beyond all questioning. As from their founding, the Brethren chose to collaborate with the regime in power. Thus they immediately came to terms with the iron hand government of Muhammad Mahmud, then with that of the dictator Ismail Sidqi and even with the Suez Canal Company; the latter contributed 500 to their funds, in order to encourage them to dampen the ardour of the youth of the secular Wafd party, which at that time had broken with the British. (The Brethren were the only Egyptian group to have a newspaper.) In fact, their nostalgic appeals for the restoration of the Golden Age of Islam, the crossed swords and the Koran which served them as emblems, symbolising to perfection the morbid ideal of the practice of death, attracted to their cause a whole part of the frustrated petit-bourgeois youth, who were horribly repressed, a prey to all sorts of fears and hostile to any pleasurable activity. In short, the palace and the British used the Brethren as an anaesthetic. During the Second World War, despite their sympathy for the Axis, the Brethren supported the Allies, apparently for tactical reasons. In effect, they were able to use the mosques for their propaganda and to establish themselves especially in the schools and in the countryside.

27

As a result of their truly Machiavellian tactics, the organisation of the Brethren became, in less than 13 years, the most formidable mass party. In 1941, the Brethren allied with the Sadists, the party in power, which was close to the palace. As soon as the latter was ousted from the harem, they had not the slightest hesitation in joining forces with its rival and successor, the Wafd. When the Wafd was in turn eliminated from office, they allied once again with the same Sadists who, it is true, allowed them to set up a paramilitary organisation, al-Jawwala, with 20 000 members. Later they allied with the National Committee of Students and Workers, spearheaded by the communists. Not long after, they opposed the committee by supporting the government of the infamous Ismail Sidqi, leader of the Sadists. But just before the elections, the latter broke his alliance with the Brotherhood, which by that time numbered half-a-million members and sympathisers. In December 1948, suspecting that the Brotherhood wished to take power, al-Naqrashi, the head of the government, outlawed the movement. Their response was immediate. Al-Naqrashi was assassinated by a medical student, a member of the movement. For a whole year, the authorities manoeuvred Hasan al-Banna, the Supreme Guide of the Brethren, from one compromise to another, until he disowned his own followers by publicly declaring that they are not brethren and even less Muslims. He was finally killed in 1949. His successor, the magistrate Hasan al-Hudaibi, allied the Brotherhood once again with the palace, and was even solemnly received by King Faruq, who stated in his presence and with his agreement: Since the British will soon leave Egypt, our only enemy now is communism. But when Faruq was ousted by Nasser in 1952, the Brethren supported the latter with the same fervour. However, the honeymoon did not last long. When Nasser decided to limit landed property holdings to 200 acres, the Brethren suggested the figure of 500 and demanded at the same time that the new government undertake to re-Islamise society and the state. In 1954, they attempted to assassinate the Rais. Their Brotherhood was disbanded. In 1959, it was clandestinely reformed, and once again decapitated in 1965. Sadat, himself a former member of the Brotherhood, allowed them to reappear in 1972 and to publish a journal, al-Dawa (The Sermon). Similarly, the Muslim International founded by al-Banna in the 1930s was reconstituted in Cairo. Through it, Egypt, amongst others, gave aid to the armed vanguard, the Mujahidin, who are at present fighting the Syrian regime. In the writings of the Brethren, any social programme is conspicuous by its absence. Al-Banna justified his refusal to outline a programme by his desire to avoid the possibility of a great schism between the various Muslim rites and confessions. When one fine day the leaders of the paramilitary organisation of the Brotherhood informed him that they were in a position to take power, he challenged them to submit to him within a week an Islamic radio programme for the first week of the coup dtat a task which they were incapable of fulfilling. After the death of the leader, it fell to Muhammad al-Ghazah, an ideologist of the Brotherhood, to risk undertaking this project. In his book Islam and the Economic Orders, he devotes a whole chapter to the intermediate economic order of Islam. After dismissing that Jew, Marx with a few words, he reveals to us the secret of the Islamic economic order, alone capable of saving humanity. What is it? It is the economic order, he writes, which was implemented in fascist Italy, in Nazi Germany, and which is still in force in Britain, thanks to state control of the big firms and to the state holding over 50 per cent of the shares in these firms. Clearly, the Islamic economy is simply state control and militarisation of the economy, as practised since the First World War. Rather more subtly, Sayyid Qutb, another of the Brotherhoods

28

thinkers, does not have faith in any programme. In 1964, one year before his execution by Nasser, he published his swan-song whose title sounds as a call for the reIslamisation by the sword of an apostate society: The Jahiliya of the Twentieth Century (Jahiliyat al-qarn al-ishrin). The Jahiliya, the period of pre-Islamic paganism, is usually depicted as inadmissibly permissive, full of joie de vivre and with no ethic other than love, wine and hunting. And Qutb says: Give us power and you shall see; we shall obliterate all trace of this paganism. In other countries, other Islamic organisations proved equally incapable of elaborating a programme for their Islamic state. In 1972, when the government of the United Arab Emirates invited Hasan al-Turabi, the Supreme Guide of the Brethren in the Sudan, to write an Islamic Constitution, his reply was at first negative This is a difficult task, he said. But they would not take no for an answer, and with the help of petro-dollars he managed to do it. This was the constitution which allowed Shaikh Zaid Ibn Sultan to be the absolute boss of Abu Dhabi. Even the Syrian Muslim Brethren have not been able to overthrow a hardpressed minority regime with which they had been openly at war, despite massive aid from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere mainly because they are incapable of producing a programme likely to attract the other forces hostile to the regime. In my opinion, this is an open admission of the historic impossibility of the implementation for any length of time of an Islamic society in a world which commodity production and its consequences have unified and predisposed to an alternative order, where the return to religion has no place. Return to What? Given their inability to address the downtrodden masses with a programme that makes any sense, the integralists consummate demagogues that they are have opted for the facile slogan of return to primitive Islam, the Islam of the four alRashidun, the rightly guided early caliphs, who supposedly differed from all their successors in their strict respect for the Koran and their adherence to the procedure of consulting the communal council of believers. Al-Afghani even speaks of a return to the era of the libertine caliph, Harun al-Rashid, when Islam more than in any other period played the role of a mere state ideology. It is therefore a question of a return to the imperial power of Islam, but not to the Islam which respects its dogmas. It will be obvious that the Koran, the trans-historical constitution of the Islamic Umma, has never been entirely respected, even by the four caliphs. Muhammad never hesitated for a moment to cut out verses which the evolution of his sermons or the demands of his alliances had rendered anachronistic. Thus the well-known Meccan verse in favour of the mustadafin (the downtrodden) was replaced by another favouring those with property: We have, said Allah, favoured some and not others as far as riches are concerned. Muhammad, however, had a watertight alibi did he not claim to be in touch with Allah himself, whose acts are inscrutable? The period of the four caliphs was in no way the Golden Age which contemporary legend depicts. There were cruel struggles for power. Of the four rightly guided caliphs, only Abu Bakr died a natural death and his caliphate was exceptionally short. The three others were assassinated: Umar by a Persian slave; Uthman at the hands of one of Abu Bakrs own sons, Abd al-Rahman; and Ali by Muslims just as pious as himself. Less than 37 years after the founding by Muhammad of the first Arab-Muslim state at Medina, the Community of Believers, whom he had

29

always instructed to remain united in the faith and in the law, in one monolithic block, split into two groups, which were mortal enemies. Since the caliphate of Muawiya, the fifth caliph, and the consolidation of the conquering Arabo-Muslims as a ruling class, the Koran has been continually trampled underfoot by the caliphs of Islam, who only used it as a sort of philosophy of history, a state ideology, to justify the redistribution of power and of goods. The Shiites do not demand a return to the times of the four caliphs. Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman are described as usurpers. Indeed, Ali was reluctant to swear allegiance to them, and disapproved of their rule. And if Uthman beat him in the bid for power, it was effectively because he refused to follow the example of Abu Bakr and Umar. The insurgents who assassinated Uthman were moreover in league with him. Iran A return to Alis caliphate from first to last a period of open civil war would mean a return to one of the most troubled times of the whole history of Islam. In this respect, Iran has succeeded. Some Islamic ideologists consider that in Khomeinis Iran, Islam has gone beyond the confines of Wahhabi reformism, with its pan-Islamism and its creed of the Jihad, and has entered upon its ultimate evolution: the revolutionary stage. Intellectually incapable of understanding their own period, they do not realise that Khomeinism, in a period when the revolution can only be social, contains absolutely no project which is in any way progressive. On the contrary. In Iran, Islam can congratulate itself on having caught up, five centuries too late, with the Europe of the Inquisition. Recently, Bani Sadr, the Head of State, wondered in his Inqilab Islami: Is it true that an Inquisition-like tribunal has been set up in the university? But the Holy Inquisition was set up throughout the country at the outset under the crosier of that blood-thirsty psychopath, Ayatollah Khalkhali. This inquisition is not the work of the Islamic Republican Party alone, but of all those in power. They are incapable of dealing with the crisis, and can only resort to appeals for austerity and the practice of violent repression. The Iranian working class lost more than 70 000 members in the struggle to get rid of the Shah. Their only reward is a medieval religious dictatorship plus the horrors of inflation (70 per cent), of unemployment (four million unemployed), and the humiliation of public whipping for the simple act of drinking beer, or because a woman bathed on a beach reserved for men. The two million drug addicts, mainly located in South Tehran, were given six months to kick the habit otherwise they will be executed. This cult of death may well fascinate a large number of middle-class youths, who are the victims of emotional blocks, and are frightened of freedom and libertarian ways. It is, however, no solution in face of the real problems which shake the very foundations of Iranian society. A person such as Khomeini, who suffers from historical sclerosis and who in his book Islamic Government deals with such serious problems as the buggery of a poor donkey by a poor Muslim, and who is incapable of creating an Iranian bourgeoisie, can only return to the American fold or fall under Soviet influence. We are less independent today, admits Bani Sadr, than we were under the Shah. Our budget depends on the credit of foreign banks. Our dependence on arms and foreign military experts is quite simply tragic. Has Bani Sadr, the spiritual son of the Imam,

30

finally grasped that in a world unified by the violence of the laws of the market Iran cannot be independent, whether the Imam, present or absent, likes it or not? Has he understood that the Koran cannot be applied in one area of capital importance: the banking system? Before the Shah left, this Islamic economist calmly promised those who wanted to listen that he would abolish the banking system, as it is incompatible with the prohibition of usury in the Koran. Has he now realised that this abolition requires the fulfilment of 19 conditions which would take 19 years? Obviously, the logic of capital is stronger than all the prohibitions of all the religions. The middle classes, who at first idolised Khomeini in the belief that they had found in him the universal miracle cure, now turn away from him to await the coup dtat. The sub-proletariat, who served him as cannon fodder, now suffer more than ever with the repression of Khalkhali. The proletariat are engaged in a permanent struggle in their workplaces to counter the intervention of the Islamic committees, and only stop specific strikes to return to their permanent go-slow. Contrary to what Islamic propaganda claims, and many Western leftists believe, todays Iran does not represent the reinvigoration of Islam but its swan-song, except that it lacks any beauty. A New Islam? The fallacy of a new Islam, which many people have fallen for, is now beginning to be dispelled. The awakening of the ordinary people could be fatal for it. In fact, the ordinary people, although contaminated by the plague of Koranic fatalism, are everywhere dissatisfied by this over-abstract Allah too distant and too impenetrable to play a role in their daily life. This is why the ordinary Muslim, both in Africa and in Asia, is so fond of totemic and pagan cults under the faade of Islam. He reveres fetishes, amulets, marabouts and tombs which help him to deal with the suffering of everyday life, to cure ills and to foretell the future. This humble Muslim, once the first surprise and the enthusiasm is over, appears as unwilling and even resistant to a literal application of Koranic barbarity which condemns him to asceticism, castration, flagellation and stoning. In a moment of frankness, Hasan al-Banna admitted in 1947 to the members of his Brotherhood that the first obstacle they would meet on the path to the re-Islamisation of secular Muslim society, in his opinion, would be the hostility of the people. I must tell you, he said, that your preaching is still a closed book to the majority. The day when they discover it and realise what it aims for they will resist violently and oppose you tenaciously. He added: You will first have to confront the ignorance of ordinary people concerning the truth of Islam. In fact, for the people, Islam is more of a refuge than a set of deadly dogmas take for example the public transgression this year of the fast of Ramadan in countries such as Egypt and Iran where Islamic discourse dominates. The return to Islamic archaism is part of the process of totalitarian uniformity of all the aspects of cultural consumption. Outside the confines of the dominant model that of Islam for the Muslim and of Christianity for the Christian, that of Judaism for the Jew and that of the media for all thinking is forbidden. There is no room left for free and critical reflection. The arbitrary in Khomeinis Iran encroaches even on the freedom of choice in clothing for women and in choice of food for all. Under the rule of a mercantile civilisation, which impoverishes more each day and is in its own way bigoted, any creation becomes necessarily heretical. When Khomeinist moralism becomes the norm, any reflection or abnormal act can only be punished.

31

Apart from its exemplary punishments, Islamic archaism has nothing new to offer. It appears to me to be part of the process of the break-up of the state in a world which is becoming ungovernable. If the Islamic movements were to take power following the failure and the expected fall of Khomeinism, they could only profoundly destabilise the Islamic world which is already smitten with crisis, terrorism and open or masked civil war. It is, however, obvious that Islamic archaism cannot come to power, or remain in power in an acceptable manner. Its force is already spent before it begins. After the death of God, says Nietzsche, the most difficult thing to overcome is his shadow. His sinister shadow is this stupid and stupefying society, which produces and reproduces religion and spectacle; this society of exploitation, of radical alienation, of emotional plague, of loneliness, of insecurity, of degeneration, of generalised passivity, of representations which represent nothing but themselves, of waste and malnutrition, of fear and war. If religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, it will cease to exist when that creature is no longer oppressed but has become the creator of his own daily history.

A Blind Alley or a New Beginning?


The Italian Autonomists and the Movement of 1977
I AM very aware that, unlike the international student revolt of 1968, neither Autonomia Operaia (Workers Autonomy) nor the Italian Movement of 1977 some of whose less overtly political manifestations might be seen as paralleling British punk culture of the same era are familiar territories for the majority of British socialist historians and activists. I intend, therefore, to do my best in this article to cast some light on both the political tendency and the mass movement, very deliberately directing my argument towards a general audience without a prior knowledge of Italian history or theory, even at the risk of explaining events, ideas or organisations with which specialists in either modern Italian politics or autonomist Marxism are already all too familiar. It is also my intention to approach this task with as much detachment as I can muster, pointing out the positive features within the broader tradition from which Autonomia emerged, and stressing the objective difficulties faced by the radical left in terms of uniting students and workers or different sections of the working class in the concrete conditions of 1977, difficulties that would have faced the movement of 1977 even if it had not taken so sectarian a turn. The Need for Memory In short, this is not a reworking of my recent fierce polemic provoked by Michael

Tobias Abse

32

Hardt and Toni Negris book Empire.1 However, I would like to begin by quoting the most notorious figure linked to both Autonomia Operaia and the movement of 1977, Toni Negri: Proletarian memory is only the memory of past estrangement The existing memory of 1968 and of the decade that followed is now only that of the gravedigger the youths of Zurich, the Neapolitan proletarians and the workers of Gdansk have no need of memory Communist transition is absence of memory.2 Any serious social historian is bound to reject such an irrational viewpoint as both historiographically irrelevant and politically counter-productive, since any working class devoid of historic memory is at the mercy of capital, whose strategies always draw on a rich store of previous experience. As the Australian scholar Steve Wright has recently noted in his lucid and thoroughly researched critical introduction to Italian autonomist Marxism, Storming Heaven, this essay from 1981 marks Negris passage to a dismal point beyond operaismo and Marxism.3 Whilst Negris enthusiastic embrace of an eternal present was not shared by everybody within his own tradition, especially those around the operaista history journal Primo Maggio, whose leading editor Sergio Bologna angrily retorted, I have a sense of both fear and repugnance when I see comrades who hate their past, or, worse still, who mystify it,4 such an attitude to the past strikes me as quite widespread amongst those sections of the anti-capitalist movement that consciously or unconsciously draw on the legacy of autonomist Marxism, Autonomia Operaia and the Movement of 1977. I suspect absence of memory was predominant in the Euston riot of 30 November 1999 which did nothing to win mass support for the RMTs campaign against the privatisation of London Underground although whether the autonomist intellectual leadership of Reclaim the Streets was still around when events took a violent turn has never been clarified. Insofar as anybody within the autonomist tradition has engaged with the past, it has tended to be in a largely celebratory and uncritical vein, collecting and recycling old material on the Internet. Paradoxically, what might be seen as the best example of such work in term of historical methodology, the recent PhD thesis by Patrick Cuninghame, Autonomia: A Movement of Refusals Social Movements and Social Conflict in Italy in the 1970s, has in fact been extremely reliant on memory, since the use of oral testimony is the principal means by which it partially transcends mere anthologising of interesting Italian texts for an Anglophone audience, for Cuninghame stubbornly refuses to compare autonomist texts against other printed sources, leading him to take Negris bizarre mythical account of an armed uprising at Fiat Mirafiori in March 1973 as the literal truth. Neither amnesia nor celebration can help us understand what happened in Italy in 1977, or what lessons that year might have for the present, whether in Italy or internationally, in a situation in which the capitalists and their states seek to use 11
1. 2. 3. 4. Tobias Abse, The Professor in the Balaclava: Toni Negri and Autonomist Politics, What Next?, no 22, 2002, pp5-14. Cited in Steve Wright, Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism, London, 2002, pp174-5. Wright, op cit, p175. Cited in ibid, p175.

33

September 2001 to drive a wedge between organised labour and the often marginal layers of youth in the anti-globalisation movement. It is equally unhelpful to claim, as some former radical academics do, that there is some vast and unbridgeable chasm between the glorious 1968 of their own youth, allegedly totally pacific and devoid of any authoritarian potential, and the later events of 1977, demonised as nothing more than an irrational, grotesquely violent and militarised gateway to terrorism. There were links in terms of both themes and leading intellectual personnel between the two student movements, even if many youngsters in 1977 dismissed most of the veterans of 1968 who tried to engage with them as zombies. Whilst the cultural interpretation of 1977 as an almost apolitical youth revolt, most cogently put forward by Lumley,5 cannot be dismissed out of hand, it needs considerable qualification; whilst accounts of such events by hardened political activists often ignore cultural factors, accounts by postmodern cultural studies enthusiasts are equally prone to downgrade the political dimension. This brief catalogue has not exhausted the varieties of unhelpful approaches to 1977 currently on offer, but it seems inappropriate to engage in polemic with right-wing interpretations that simply equate all Italian social movements between 1967 and 1978 with terrorism under the umbrella term anni del piombo (years of lead). Having outlined why I believe we need to take a fresh look at 1977, I will embark upon the discussion of the political current and of the mass movement that I promised at the beginning. I will first look at Autonomia Operaia and the tradition out of which this current emerged, before turning to the conjuncture that created the Movement of 1977. Autonomia did not emerge into the limelight out of nowhere, even if 1977 saw it temporarily eclipse the rest of the new left. Autonomia Operaia was the final incarnation of operaismo, a political and intellectual tendency that can be traced back to the late 1950s. Operaismo literally translated is workerism, and some commentators like Jack Fuller have used the English term even about Negris wing of Autonomia at the very time when Negris theory of the operaio sociale, the socialised worker, which more or less turned traditional operaismo, with its emphasis on the factory and the labour process on its head, made such a literal translation virtually meaningless. I have deliberately chosen to use the Italian word in this article since operaismo means something slightly different and far more consciously theorised than workerism in English, which is frequently used as a term of abuse either among or within left organisations. One reason for my decision to give such a lengthy historical and theoretical preamble to my discussion of Autonomia Operaia, a current which emerged as late as 1973-75 in the aftermath of the dissolution of Potere Operaio (Workers Power) is that operaismo, unlike, for example, social democracy, syndicalism, Stalinism, Trotskyism or Maoism, was a largely Italian tendency, not a local manifestation of a genuinely international phenomenon. The Origins of Operaismo Insofar as operaismo ever had a British counterpart it was Big Flame, a minor Liverpool-based sect, now probably forgotten even by most British Marxists, although some might argue that Big Flames strange amalgam of operaismo and spontaneist Maoism was closer to Lotta Continua (Continuous Struggle), the largest Italian revolutionary organisation between 1969 and 1976, than to any of the pure operaista groupings like Potere Operaio of 1969-73, even if the Red Notes Collective which
5. Robert Lumley, States of Emergency: Cultures of Revolt in Italy from 1968 to 1978, London, 1990, especially Chapter 20.

34

saw its primary task as the translation of Italian leftist texts and eventually aligned itself with Negris wing of Autonomia, emerged out of this semi-Maoist melange. To return to my main theme, the first precursor of Italian operaismo was Raniero Panzieri, and some of the ideas that paved the way for operaismo can be found in his journal Quaderni Rossi (Red Notebooks) between 1961 and 1963, even if full-blown operaismo, with its hostility to the trade unions as an institution and its emphasis on sabotage and the refusal of work did not see the light of day until Mario Trontis followers split with Panzieri in 1963, to create a new journal, Classe Operaia (Working Class) in 1964. Although operaismo was in a certain sense an Italian New Left triggered by the impact of 1956 just as the very different but equally intellectual British New Left of Edward Thompson, John Saville and Raphael Samuel was its origins can be found in the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) rather than the Italian Communist Party (PCI). I must immediately make a slight qualification, since the tendency later recruited some young Communists, notably Mario Tronti, and was in an ambivalent way drawn towards the PCI between 1964 and 1968, because of the PSIs absorption into a Centre-Left coalition with Christian Democracy and the failure of the anti-coalitionist left split from the PSI, the PSIUP, to grow into a genuine mass party. Many of those who did not accept the logic of turning themselves into a nationally organised independent revolutionary organisation in the form of Potere Operaio joined or re-joined the PCI, originally with entrist intentions, although Asor Rosa ended up as a leading PCI polemicist against Autonomia and the Movement of 1977, albeit on the basis of a vestigially operaista belief in working-class centrality in the form of the Two Societies thesis to which I will refer later. Despite all this, it was no accident that Panzieri was a left socialist rather than a dissident from a Communist Party background the PSI was far more shaken by 1956 than the PCI was. That year gave Togliatti the opportunity to move further in the direction that he had always preferred, and the Gramsci cult gave those intellectuals who remained in the PCI a sense that it had an alternative to Stalinism. Between 1948 and 1956, the PSI had taken a very pro-Soviet line and adopted a Stalinist Marxism in a very mechanical way, so that Khrushchevs Secret Speech and the invasion of Hungary left it far more disoriented than the PCI itself. Panzieri initially deluded himself that an open-minded anti-Stalinist Marxism was becoming dominant in his party in the wake of 1956, failing to realise that Nenni and other major figures in the Socialist Party leadership were only distancing themselves from Moscow in order to move towards the Christian Democrats, and that his officially endorsed temporary prominence in various journalistic and cultural roles within the party was a means of giving these opportunists a left cover. It is therefore not surprising that the title Quaderni Rossi that the disillusioned Panzieri adopted for his own magazine in the wake of his post-1959 marginalisation by the party leaders was a conscious echo of Maurice Piverts Cahiers Rouges, although Panzieri, despite his failure to win a mass socialist party to his variant of revolutionary politics, has no wish to emulate Piverts political trajectory, writing in a private letter of March 1960; the possible fate of the small sect terrifies me.6 Nor was Panzieris political formation exceptional in terms of the tendency. Negri, whose Veneto-based circle of young PSI dissidents moved towards Panzieri before the second issue of Quaderni Rossi, was another theorist who had never been a
6. Cited in Wright, op cit, p33.

35

PCI member. The theories of Quaderni Rossi, and subsequent operaismo, very consciously rejected the predominant vision of the PCI, rightly or wrongly associated with Gramsci, that emphasised the autonomy of the political and the role of institutions, as well as the philosophical underpinnings of all this in terms of Croce, historicism and Italian idealism. It is perhaps worth pointing out, given the subsequent rather unlikely Italian trajectory of operaismo, whose theory of the refusal of work was alien to the productivist tradition predominant in both Stalinist and Trotskyist groupings elsewhere in Europe, that the Quaderni Rossi groups original emphasis on socialism from below and social analysis owed quite a bit to two foreign ex-Trotskyist groupings, the French Socialisme ou Barbarie of Castoriadis and Lefort and the American Correspondence of Dunayevskaya and CLR James. These groups interest in authentic proletarian experience paved the way for operaismo, and Wright emphasises how the Italians associated with Quaderni Rossi translated the diary of a Renault militant and a pamphlet on the condition of American workers. Quaderni Rossi developed these efforts in a more overtly sociological way than their French and American counterparts, associating themselves with the notion of a workers inquiry, which they derived from one of Marxs lesser-known works written in 1880. Although their willingness to appropriate the tools of bourgeois sociology evoked some unease amongst others on the left, it has to be admitted in retrospect that in reality their methods bore more resemblance to what later became the research techniques of oral history than to mainstream orthodox sociology. Quaderni Rossis Skewed Vision The Quaderni Rossi group were acutely aware of the failure of the PCI, obsessed by a belief in Italys relative backwardness, and the static or declining nature of international capitalism, to understand or even to recognise the Economic Miracle of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The groups investigation into conditions at Fiat and Olivetti gave them a fair amount of insight into what was actually going on, at least amongst industrial workers in large factories for operaismo in its classic phase was always obsessed with large factories at the expense of a more nuanced picture of Italys socio-economic structure as a whole, giving them a skewed vision of the level of the class struggle nationally, which in part accounts for their oscillations between manic optimism and profound depression about the prospects for revolutionary upsurges at any given time. These investigations at Fiat and Olivetti represented the beginnings of the operaista discourse on class composition which Wright summarises rather more lucidly than most operaista texts do as the various forms of behaviour which arise when particular forms of labour power are inserted in specific processes of production.7 Whilst the relationship between material conditions and subjectivity is at the core of Marxism, the operaisti at their best showed working-class behaviour was not immutable regardless of time and place, but was dependent on variations in both the nature of the labour force and variations in the nature of the labour process, and in particular workplaces. The Quaderni Rossi group, because of their close attention to processes of production, differed from the PCI in seeing science and technology not as valuable resources that were neutral in class terms, but as important weapons of the capitalists against the workers. Precisely because the issue of planning proved so important, not just to Nenni but also to more avowedly left-wing socialists who had once been
7. Ibid, p49.

36

close collaborators of Panzieri in 1956-59 in justifying their entry into a Christian Democrat-dominated coalition government, the Quaderni Rossi group were insistent that planning was compatible with capitalism, not a Trojan horse for socialism, and that if Marx had thought otherwise, this was only because, like all analysts, he could only engage in concrete analysis of the conditions of his own time, whatever intuitions he may have had about the future. Whilst theoretical differences between Panzieri and Tronti contributed to the break-up of the original Quaderni Rossi group, the Piazza Statuto riot of July 1962 in Turin was the real trigger behind the split. The extremists of Quaderni Rossi were amongst the scapegoats used by the official labour movement to explain their loss of control over young workers; Tronti positively relished the break with the unions, whilst Panzieri, who had hoped to influence left-wing union leaders even after he had abandoned any hope of transforming the major left parties, was left traumatised. However, Trontis optimism about the prospects for sudden change revealed by the arrival of the new mass worker of Piazza Statuto did not endure, and the new group around Classe Operaia soon became as divided as the old one around Quaderni Rossi had been earlier. The Classe Operaia project was in one sense stillborn, severely hampered by the fact that many Quaderni Rossi supporters in the key industrial centres of Turin, Milan and Genoa had remained loyal to Panzieri and the old journal. Moreover, at the risk of reductionism, one might argue that the reason that Tronti and the Roman faction began to look to the PCI as a deus ex machina was the absence of any substantial local industrial proletariat in whose struggles they could intervene, whilst Negri and the northerners, confident in the strategic importance of the chemical workers of Porto Marghera, were more inclined to maintain a belief in independent intervention. As Wright emphasises, Trontis dreams about taking over the PCI and using it to further working-class goals never made much practical sense, given the palpable failure of the far more substantial left group around Ingrao, which the operaisti despised for being too interested in civil society rather than the factory, to exert any substantial influence over party policy between 1964 and 1969, when the bulk of Ingraos leading supporters were expelled over the Manifesto affair. Another Split The split between Negri and the northerners on the one hand and Tronti and the Romans on the other that liquidated Classe Operaia in 1966-67 meant that operaismos organisational presence was restricted to the north-east of Italy for most of 1967 and 1968, just as circumstances became more favourable to the revolutionary left. However, one might have some doubts as to whether the operaisti would have put even a truly national network to effective use. Given Negris rise to an important position in the academic hierarchy of Padua University around this time, it is worth noting that Potere Operaio Veneto-emiliano had absolutely no interest in the student movement until mid-1968, when sections of the movement started making a turn to the class. Even then Potere Operaio Veneto-emilianos only interest in students was to use them to help in mass picketing in Porto Marghera. Although the events in the large northern factories in 1968-69, culminating in the Hot Autumn, appeared to confirm the validity of operaista theories about the mass workers, the pure operaisti did not emerge as the predominant force amongst the far left that arose from the combination of the student revolt of 1967-68 and the workers upsurge of 1968-69. Although Potere Operaio Veneto-emiliano managed to recruit a sizeable fragment of the Ro-

37

man student movement including Oreste Scalzone, it only picked up tiny groups in Milan and Turin, where Avanguardia Operaia and Lotta Continua respectively emerged as the dominant organisations on the far left. Moreover, although the new nationwide Potere Operaio made the transition from a newspaper-based network to a formal membership organisation a little earlier than Avanguardia Operaia, Lotta Continua or Il Manifesto, this head start was to no avail as the pure operaisti emerged as the smallest of the large groups, with a membership that never exceeded 3000 or 4000.8 Potere Operaio was clearly ultra-left even by the standards of the time, consistently rejecting both participation in electoral politics and work with the trade unions. Furthermore, it had no conception of the united front tactic as a bridge to the masses still under reformist influence, and showed no real capacity for joint work even with other revolutionary groups. Rather surprisingly given the earlier history of the tendency, the Potere Operaio of 1969-73 was not noted for a consistent emphasis on the mass worker and large factories. After the neo-fascist-led Reggio Calabria revolt of late 1970, it seemed to be placing so much emphasis on a more broadly-defined southern proletariat that by early 1972 Adriano Sofri, the leader of Lotta Continua, was provoked into reminding it that the southern unemployed are something quite different from Fiat workers.9 Towards the end of the groups existence, however, Negris wing of Potere Operaio responded to a revival of militancy in the Milanese factories by reverting to a more traditional emphasis, so there is no direct line from the idealisation in 1970-72 of what was essentially a southern lumpen-proletariat, often under neo-fascist influence, to Negris subsequent theory of the operaio sociale, the socialised worker. My final comments on Potere Operaio will therefore centre on the thematic of insurrection rather than the traditional operaista paradigm of class composition. Whilst all its rivals would have claimed the Leninist mantle and made a point of defining themselves against the PCIs reformism by a theoretical commitment to an insurrectionary road, of the main groups Potere Operaio was the only one with a conception of insurrection as a pressing imminent necessity, as Wright puts it. 10 Whilst Lotta Continuas party song referred to lotta del popolo armata, it stressed it was lotta di lunga durata. After 1970, the potopisti kept telling other Italian revolutionaries that if the party of the insurrection was not built, the general defeat of the movement was inevitable. Their worldview owed more to 1920s ultra-leftism with its theory of the offensive than to genuine Leninism. Wright correctly stresses Scalzones belated insight during his imprisonment after the state clampdown on Autonomia that Potere Operaio was caught in the eye of the hurricane, like a kind of modern KAPD.11 Whilst Potere Operaios practice was probably no more violent than any other far left group in an era in which the Stalinist Maoists of the Movimento dei Lavoratori per il Socialismo settled disagreements with their rivals with monkey wrenches, Potops insurrectionary mindset does give us some hint as to why its successor, Autonomia Operaia, was so prone to violence. The Rise of Autonomia Having given a relatively brief history of the operaista tendency and their ideas prior
8. 9. 10. 11. Ibid, p145. Cited in ibid, p140. Ibid, p143. Cited in ibid, p131.

38

to the emergence of Autonomia Operaia, we now reach the era of autonomism as it is known to the contemporary left for nobody coming across it today in the context of the movement against capitalist globalisation is likely to guess that the origins of Autonomist Marxism were in operaismo with its rather obsessive focus on the factory. The question of the exact nature of Autonomia Operaia has been disputed in both seminar room and courtroom some have claimed it was a loose social movement, others that it was a unified, centralised, clandestine structure under Negris undisputed leadership. The truth is somewhere in between. The claim that it was a pure spontaneous social movement, a loose network of localised collectives is about as credible as claims that Militant was only a newspaper, or that there are no overlaps between the Sinn Fin leadership and the IRA Army Council. On the other hand, not all the autonomi wanted to have a centralised structure there was a genuine division between organised and diffused Autonomy, and there were major differences between the factions that did want a centralised structure principally the tension between the Romans and the Veneto groups which seem such a structural feature of the tendency throughout its history so that Negris project of a party of autonomy12 was never fully realised. Even an intelligent Autonomist like Cuninghame does not deny the existence of a serious, if unsuccessful, attempt to set up a party. Those who are inclined to take too seriously the spontaneist localist effusions of Negri and 10 other autonomi in the mendacious document Do You Remember Revolution? drafted in Romes Rebibbia prison in 1983 should be reminded of Negris statement from 1977: The party is a combatant religious order the army which defends the frontiers of proletarian independence.13 The conventional theory of a basic continuity between Potere Operaio and Autonomia Operaia is true the self-evident absurdities about Negri leading the BR or making a telephone call to Moros family on behalf of the kidnappers should not lead us to assume that the whole prosecution case in the 7 April trial was a tissue of lies, as some of Autonomias apologists sometimes claim. Whilst Autonomias base came from a number of sources, including many youngsters with no previous political experience and some former members of the largest of the Italian revolutionary organisations, Lotta Continua, which Sofri officially dissolved in 1976, the bulk of Autonomias leadership came from Potere Operaio, even if not all of them joined the new grouping with the alacrity of Negris own immediate circle, and even if the expotopisti remained as riven by factionalism within the new movement as they had been in the last year or so of the old, more avowedly Leninist, group. The only other figures with any influence at leadership level came from the Milanese Gruppo Gramsci which, as its name should indicate, had no previous connection with the operaista tradition, which from Quaderni Rossi onwards had been self-consciously anti-Gramscian, and it is probable that this influence arose from their links with Negri and from their magazine Rosso with which the Paduan Professor allied himself in 1974, and which Cuninghame sees as the driving force behind the party within the area of Autonomia. The Socialised Worker The key theory of Autonomia after 1975-76, first set out in Negris Proletari e Stato, was Negris concept of the operaio sociale, the socialised worker, not the social
12. 13. Reference given in ibid, p214. Cited in ibid, p214.

39

worker, as it is sometimes mistranslated into English. It is true, as Wright points out, that not all factions within Autonomia accepted the theory in a consistent way, and that Negris former intellectual collaborator Sergio Bologna opposed Negris abandonment of the sphere of direct production as the central terrain of class struggle. However. Negri was Autonomias best-known theoretician and the only one the bulk of its rank and file, notorious for preferring street fighting to libraries, were likely to have read. In broad terms, the socialised worker was unemployed or in part-time or precarious employment, often in a small workplace and often on the black economy, not a mass worker in a large factory. However, just like Negris twenty-first century discovery The Multitude, the socialised worker was never defined with any rigour, and it was never explained how such a disparate array of marginal groups could constitute a unified political subject. As Bologna shrewdly remarked: We are not even at the redefinition of a social figure different from the mass worker.14 Negri in effect totally abandoned both the linkage between material conditions and behaviour central to the operaista theory of class composition and the predominant emphasis on the mass worker of the large factories which had been central to the tendencys practical politics. Moreover, Negris loss of interest in the mass worker frequently slid into outright hostility. Lest I be accused of polemical exaggeration, I will have to quote Negri again: Some groups of workers, some sections of the working class, remain tied to the dimension of the wage, to its mystified terms. In other words, they are living off income as revenue. Inasmuch, they are stealing and expropriation proletarian surplus value they are participating in the social labour racket on the same terms as their management. These positions and particularly the trade union practices that foster them are to be fought, with violence if necessary. It will not be the first time that a march of the unemployed has entered a large factory so that they can destroy the arrogance of salaried income.15 If Negris theory of the socialised worker was the predominant ideology of Autonomism by 1977, its predominant political style was one of extreme violence at best the balaclava and the Molotov, at worst the P38 pistol. I am nothing like as sure as Bob Lumley that the following statement from the notorious Roman Volsci collective, disingenuously described by Lumley as a youth collective rather than as an autonomist collective, whom even Cuninghame acknowledges to have been the most extreme of all autonomi, is merely an exercise in playful postmodernist irony in a complex battle of signs16 We are adorers and worshippers of the P38 magnum, we are abettors and henchmen of terrorism, we are pre-political, unruly barbarians, and we are the so-called raving and desperate adventurists. When the learned Paduan Professor was ready to claim in all seriousness, Every time I put on my balaclava, I immediately feel the warmth of the working class and the proletarian community around me,17 why assume the young thugs of the rank and file were only joking? In the final analysis, the glorification of violence for its own sake was not far
14. 15. 16. 17. Cited in ibid, p171. Cited in Red Notes (eds), Working Class Autonomy and the Crisis, London, 1979, p110. Lumley, op cit, p303. A Negri, Il dominio e il sabotaggio, fifth edition, Milan, 1980, p43, my translation.

40

removed from that prevalent amongst the neo-fascist Roman youth gangs with whom they fought many a street battle in the mid-1970s, and it was to weigh heavily on the course taken by the Movement of 1977. The Movement of 1977 The Movement of 1977 might be seen as a precursor of the international anticapitalist movement that has emerged since Seattle, or as having some parallels with the British punk movement which emerged at the same time, which also had its lumpen elements and which was also partially politicised, in the British instance, by Rock against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League, as Dave Renton has pointed out elsewhere.18 The Italian 1977, however, cannot be seen as a reaction against 1960s hippies in the way the British punk movement was. Indeed, an American observer present in Bologna in 1977 once told me that the Movement of 1977 reminded him of Woodstock Nation about a decade late. At the risk of over-simplification, one might say that the Italian 1968 was primarily political, whilst, despite Vietnam, the American 1968 was primarily about sex, drugs and rocknroll, and in that sense the Italian 1977 was closer to the American 1968 than to the Italian one. Despite its apparent origins in a student mobilisation in February 1977 against the Malfatti law, a law which included a quota system reversing the principle of the mass university established in 1968, the one thing the Movement of 1977 certainly was not was an exact replica of the Italian student movement of 1967-68, hence its frequent characterisation as A Strange Movement of Strange Students.19 However, whilst there is some validity in Lumleys culturalist interpretation, which focuses on the more apolitical rebelliousness of the Metropolitan Indians who wore war paint and chanted rather surrealist slogans like Free radios are a provocation all power to the television, and sees the Movement of 1977 as a youth movement arising out of squatting, free radio stations and autoriduzione (selfreduction) of transport fares and cinema tickets, trends which first surfaced in major Italian cities around 1975, the Movement of 1977 has to be put into a broader political context. There may otherwise be the risk of falling into the trap of accepting Alberto Asor Rosas Two Societies thesis. Asor Rosa, a leading operaista intellectual of the 1960s, followed Tronti into the PCI and offered an interpretation of 1977 based on a distorted version of the old operaista emphasis on working-class solidarity, albeit without the old anti-union colouring, that was in many ways a mirror image of Negris wilder statements about the inevitable opposition of the socialised worker to the factory worker. Asor Rosa claimed: Between these two realities the organised working class and marginalized, unemployed youth there is a deep divide. This appears in their behaviour, political choices and form of organisation in the Italian and, perhaps, in the European situations.20 Without in any way underestimating the inherent difficulties of uniting the organised working class and marginalised unemployed or precariously employed youth
18. 19. 20. David Renton, This Rough Game: Fascism and Anti-Fascism, Thrupp, 2001, Chapter 13. I believe that this description originated from an article by Luigi Manconi and Marino Sinibaldi, Un strano movimento di strani studenti, Ombre Rosse, 20 March 1977, cited by Lumley, op cit, p311; but it gained very wide currency. Alberto Asor Rosa, Le due societ, Turin, 1977, p viii, cited in Lumley, op cit, p308.

41

the project that Fausto Bertinotti and the majority current in the Partito della Rifondazione Communista have been pursuing since July 2001 the reasons that discontent in the two sectors failed to fuse in 1977 have to be sought in political decisions taken by the two most influential groups on the left in that year, the PCI on the one hand and Autonomia Operaia on the other, not in a mechanistic strain of economic determinism that creates iron laws on the basis of social structure. The organised working class was not enamoured of the austerity programme of 1977; there was a lot of latent discontent and some overt rebelliousness which tended to be exploited in an opportunist fashion by the unions to the right of the Communistdominated CGIL, particularly the UIL, the trade union confederation linked to the parties marginalised by the PCI-DC alliance Socialists, Social Democrats and Republicans. The Movement of 1977 was incapable of reaching out to these people, and created a ghetto for itself. Having said this, we have to recognise the conditions under which the Movement was operating, unfavourable ones to say the least, particularly by comparison with those of 1968-69. The Movement of 1977 arose at the time of the attempt by the PCI to realise Berlinguers project of the Historic Compromise between the Communists and Italys traditional governing party, the Christian Democrats. Whilst I readily acknowledge that Berlinguer first put forward the idea of the Historic Compromise in 1973 in the wake of the Chilean coup, and that it might be seen as a logical development of the strategy pursued by Togliatti in 1944-47, the immediate context for the Movement of 1977 was the PCIs two successive electoral advances in the 1975 regional elections and the 1976 general election. On 20 June 1976, the PCI had obtained 34.44 per cent of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies, its highest figure ever, but one that still left it behind the Christian Democrats, who remained the first party with 38.79 per cent. The PCI wrongly imagined that it was on the threshold of entering a coalition government with the DC. The DC leaders Moro and Andreotti, aware of their own partys vulnerability in the absence of any viable nonCommunist allies the smaller parties had temporarily declined and of the depth of Italys prolonged economic crisis, greatly exacerbated by international factors such as the price of oil realised the necessity of entrapping their PCI challengers with minor concessions and vague promises of more to come. Claims have been made that Moro was more serious about a deal with the PCI than Andreotti, and that his kidnapping and murder in 1978 were triggered by hostility to such a deal, hostility not confined to the Red Brigades, but this is not the place to enter into such debates. In any event, by 1979 the PCI had served its purpose and the DC could cast it aside, although it took Berlinguer rather longer even partially to acknowledge the failure of his strategy. The principal point that I am seeking to make here is that any opposition to the Historic Compromise whether from workers or students or feminists met with irreconcilable opposition from the PCI leaders. The more conciliatory and ambiguous tactics of the late 1960s, when the PCI leader Longo had invited the Roman student leader Oreste Scalzone, subsequently a leading figure in Autonomia, to the PCI headquarters for talks, and the PCI union leaders had adjusted the CGILs tactics so as to try to incorporate the new pressures from below by integrating the factory committee into the official union structure, had been completely abandoned. The PCIs hard line first became manifest in its reaction to the occupation of the Rome University campus on 3 February in response to both the regressive Malfatti law and neo-fascist violence, including the killing of a Roman University student on campus

42

on 1 February. The occupation, which involved the whole of what became known as the Movement of 1977, ranging from Metropolitan Indians to autonomi, was intolerable as far as the PCI was concerned. The party sent Luciano Lama, the leader of the CGIL, into the campus, accompanied by a large group of thuggish PCI stewards carrying staves and batons,21 and clearly intent on provoking a conflict. Inevitably, the ironic heckling of the Metropolitan Indians punning on Lamas name Nessuno lama (Nobody loves him) soon gave way to the physical violence of the autonomi, but it seems unlikely that their response was in any way planned, and all but the most partisan of PCI sympathisers see Lama and his associates as the initiators of the fracas. It was no accident that the security forces cleared the campus later that day this had been exactly what the PCI had been hoping for. On 22 February, Berlinguers speech at a Rome rally, the main purpose of which was to celebrate the freeing of the Chilean Communist leader Corvalan, who was the other main speaker, was entirely devoted to an attack on the New Left, whom he branded as 1919-style fascists. The next major incident occurred at the University of Bologna on 11 March, when Franco Lorusso, a Lotta Continua militant, was shot dead by the carabinieri during a protest against the Catholic fundamentalist organisation Communion and Liberation. The PCI leadership, most notoriously Bolognas communist mayor Zangheri, rushed to the defence of the carabinieris actions. This led to three days of street battles in Bologna, which were only brought under control by the use of tanks, leading to comparison between Red Bologna and Prague in 1968. On 22 April, the PCIs interior spokesperson Pecchioli supported the Christian Democrat Interior Minister Cossiga in banning all marches in Rome until the end of May. On 12 May, a peaceful but illegal attempt to collect signatures for the Radical Partys eight referenda, including one on abortion, in Piazza Navona in central Rome was violently dispersed by the police, and Giorgiana Masi, a feminist Radical Party member, was shot dead. Given the PCI leaders consistent record in the spring of 1977 of either attacking the movement directly, as in the Lama incident, or giving unconditional support to clearly excessive state responses like shooting dead unarmed demonstrators, it is hardly surprising that the movement became virulently anti-Communist. Nonetheless, the actions of the autonomi played their part in driving the movement into a blind alley that cut it off from the bulk of the working class, and which left it vulnerable to ever increasing levels of state repression. Autonomias tactics rapidly became evident at the Movements first national assembly in Rome on 26-27 February when the feminists, the Metropolitan Indians and the moderate New Left groups took one side and the Autonomia and the rump of Lotta Continua, by now completely detached from its historic leader Sofri, who had officially dissolved it in the previous year, and from the daily newspaper of the same name, took the other. The latter groups used intimidation to evict their opponents from the assembly, and got a motion passed that sympathised with the armed groups and aimed to raise the level of conflict with the state. Autonomias idiocy was not confined to rhetoric and vote rigging. Autonomias reaction to Lorussos death was counter-productive, to say the least, and demonstrated a total lack of common sense. On 12 March, a huge national demonstration took place in Rome against the killing, with over 100 000 protestors. This
21. James Ruscoe, The Italian Communist Party, 1976-1981, p103.

43

demonstration included radical CGIL members of the factory committees; in other words, it had extended beyond the marginalised layers of the Movement of 1977 into the most militant section of the organised working class. However, a golden opportunity of linking the youth movement to a much broader layer of people unhappy with the Historic Compromise was lost. As the march was dispersed by the authorities, Autonomia militants not only burnt down banks and Christian Democrat offices, but also engaged the police in gun battles. Many of the crowd who had come from outside Rome, people in no way linked to Autonomia and participating out of deep-seated anger against state repression, a traditional sentiment on the Italian left despite the PCIs efforts to erase it, found themselves unexpectedly trapped in the middle of an urban guerrilla battle, and thereafter turned their backs on the Movement of 1977. Moreover, the Roman autonomi had provoked the ban of 22 April on marches referred to above by killing a policeman on 21 April during a second eviction of student occupiers from the University. Worse was to come. The widespread anger against Cossiga in the wake of the death of Giorgiana Masi, who was clearly not only an unarmed woman but also, unlike Lorusso, unconnected to the revolutionary left, was rapidly defused by the killing of a policeman in Milan by armed autonomi during a demonstration on 14 May against Masis brutal killing. Space does not permit an exhaustive discussion of all Autonomias violent actions during 1977, but the counter-productive effects of such behaviour should be obvious from the incidents cited above. Violence was accompanied by gross sectarianism. Autonomias sectarianism had disastrous consequences for any potential linkages between the Movement of 1977 and the sections of the organised workers movement unhappy with the Historic Compromise. During the national demonstration in Rome on 2 December organised by striking metalworkers, Autonomia attempted to form a separate march, which was, predictably, batoned off the streets. Given that the enormous crowd in the main demonstration was clearly dissatisfied, not just with their own pay but also with the Andreotti government and remembered that another of his governments had been brought down by a metalworkers march in 1973,22 and that Lama had been publicly exposed by CISL leader Macario and UIL leader Benvenuto for blatantly exerting CGIL pressure on behalf of the PCI to stop the metal-workers march, an opportunity to build mass opposition to the Historic Compromise was lost. Autonomia has to take the primary responsibility for the failure of the Movement of 1977, for, amusing as the Metropolitan Indians were on occasion, one could hardly have expected political leadership from the more peaceful cultural and virtually apolitical section of the Movement. One quotation says it all: Radio Alice will give a voice to anyone who loves mimosa and believes in paradise; hates violence but strikes the wicked; believes they are Napoleon but knows they could just as well be aftershave.23 What the post-modernist Lumley chooses to see as emergent political forms are bound to strike those of us who have remained loyal to the Marxist tradition as belated Italian echoes of the Roundhouse happenings of 1967. Sadly, capitalism will not be overthrown by carnivals alone. *** In conclusion, it should be evident that I do not think that Autonomia or the Move-

22. 23.

Ibid, p144. Collectif A/Traverso, Radio Alice, Radio Libre, Paris, 1977, p23, cited in Lumley, op cit, p305.

44

ment of 1977 represent a new beginning, providing us with a good model for the future, but they were a blind alley which weakened the Italian workers movement for a generation. However, Autonomia has a postscript as well as a pre-history. I had better make myself clear. I am not advocating meticulous textual analysis of the ramblings of the Paduan Professor and his new-found American sidekick of the kind many left-wing intellectuals have indulged in of late. Suffice it to say, we are living in an age of imperialism, not of Empire. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to point out that not only the Black Blockers but also the movement associated with Luca Casarini, variously known as the White Overalls, Ya Basta or the Disobedient Ones, are the products of Autonomism and 1977. Let us continue to hope that, perhaps via the Social Forums of the last year, the more benign heirs of Autonomia are beginning to reconnect with the organised working class in a way they utterly failed to do in 1977.

Stalins Place in History


Assessing the Social Role of the Great Assassin
Editorial Introduction THIS article originally appeared in the May-June 1953 issue of New International under the name of Albert Gates, which was the pen-name of Albert Glotzer. Glotzer (1908-1999) was one of the leading members of Max Shachtmans Independent Socialist League in the USA, which published the New International. An obituary of Glotzer by Tim Wohlforth, outlining his long political career, can be found in Revolutionary History, Volume 7, no 3, 2000. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Josef Stalin. His rise from an obscure background in the Caucasus into the ruler of the socialist sixth of the world is one of the more enigmatic episodes of the last century. How was it that a man who, as Glotzer notes, typified the Bolshevik practicals, or what are more generally known as committee men, and was intellectually no match for Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin, Lev Kamenev, Grigori Zinoviev and many other leading Bolsheviks, was able easily to outwit and defeat them, and within a dozen years of the October Revolution to assert himself as the undisputed head of the Soviet Communist Party and the Communist International? Glotzer notes the importance of Stalins character, and draws upon some of Trotskys remarks about Stalins burning ambition, envy and determination to dominate, to show how this shaped his later career. It is worth looking a little further into this, as Stalin is a fascinating example of the role of the individual in history, showing how a certain person is shaped by his surroundings and experiences, and how, in turn, his characteristics can help to shape an entire society if he comes to its head, on condition that the structure of that society ensures that his rule is exercised in a very personalised manner. Stalin grew up in a fairly dysfunctional family amid the rough back-streets of Georgian towns, the land of inter-clan blood-feuds, and was educated in the stultifying atmosphere of Orthodox seminaries. His background intruded upon his entire

Albert Glotzer

45

political life, and he was never able to shake off its baleful influence. As a person, Stalin was intelligent, but he was not an intellectual; his was the sort of sharp streetwise cunning that has characterised all manner of men from gangsters like Al Capone through trade union bureaucrats like Ernest Bevin to other national leaders, of whom Saddam Hussein is a classic modern example. Like such people, he was ambitious, vain and egocentric. He was suspicious, indeed contemptuous, of intellectual discussion, and preferred to get things done. Stalin was a Bolshevik committee man par excellence. Committee men, the professional revolutionaries within the Russian underground movement, were hardworking and utterly dedicated to the cause of the revolution and to the party, and they suffered deprivation and imprisonment and showed great courage in the line of duty. Nevertheless, they tended to downplay and even deprecate attempts to democratise and otherwise open up the party in order to broaden its base in the working class, on the grounds that it would put the party in danger of state repression and blunt its revolutionary edge. This reflected not merely an understandable concern for the physical and political integrity of the party, but also a jealous protection of their perceived key position within the party, as opposed to the isolated intellectuals in exile and the politically raw workers drawn towards revolutionary politics. Like other committee men, Stalins commitment to revolution was centred upon a strong class-based hatred of those who had kicked, beaten and exploited the masses, yet he showed very little emotional commitment towards the oppressed. His hatred of the ruling class always overshadowed any allegiance to the working class. Yes, Stalin was a revolutionary socialist, but his idea of socialism was essentially litist. A poor speaker, a clichd writer and not a man to whom many people warmed (although he could and sometimes did exert a rough charm), he was nonetheless tough, not at all lacking in courage and commitment, and he was a capable organiser. He saw himself as an undisputed leader of men, and he saw the Bolsheviks in that light, an lite of tough no-nonsense practical revolutionaries who were to lead and direct the revolution and the masses. So did other committee men, but there was a peculiar primitiveness in Stalins concept of leadership, an image that sat uncomfortably with the modernising thrust of Marxism, that is best shown by his disappointment that Lenin did not sweep in as an imposing figure to an expectant audience of awe-inspired disciples at a party congress, but was an ordinary-looking chap talking quietly with an ordinary delegate. There is no evidence that Stalin considered socialism to be the selfemancipation of the working class by means of its exerting its control over society through its own democratic institutions, but his lack of any conception of socialism as a democratic transformational process cannot be placed solely upon his specific characteristics. Firstly, the socialism promoted by the Second International, to which the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party as a whole was affiliated, was essentially paternalistic, and Marxs precept that the emancipation of the working class must be that of the working class alone was a holiday and high-day dogma with little practical consequence. Secondly, it is very difficult to ascertain what the Bolsheviks expected from a revolution in Russia. Prior to 1917, the Bolsheviks did not constitute a revolutionary proletarian party. Lenins ideas, best expressed in his call for a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry within the confines of a bourgeois republic in Russia in which, as he put it, the bourgeoisie would truly rule for the first time, were a hopeless muddle. This was the result of the opposing attractions of Second International orthodoxy which saw the forthcoming revolution in

46

Russia as bourgeois, and his observations that the working class would be the leading elements in that revolution. Not until his April Theses in 1917 did he resolve the problem by adopting Trotskys concept of Permanent Revolution, that the working class would be obliged to seize power in Russia, but that its rule could only be guaranteed by successful revolutions in the advanced European countries. These two factors ensured that Bolshevism, no more than most other strands of socialism of the time, did not promote a genuinely democratic transformational form of socialism. But there were other factors that marked off Stalin. Unlike with other revolutionaries, wherever he went there were suspicions by his political opponents and comrades alike of chicanery and even betrayal. Several writers have mooted that Stalin was an actual police agent, and although the evidence is sketchy and inconclusive, it is not beyond consideration that he shopped socialists to the authorities when their words or actions proved disagreeable to him. There was another indication of the nastier sides of Stalin. Whilst Stalins articles in the party press called out against national oppression and bigotry, a Georgian Menshevik claimed to have heard him shouting anti-Semitic abuse at the Mensheviks during 1905. Two years later, Stalin reported in his little Georgian paper of a Bolshevik, Gregory Alexinsky, saying that as there were more Jews amongst the Mensheviks than amongst the Bolsheviks, a pogrom in the party would not go amiss. Coming after the pogroms in which dozens of Russian Jews were killed and many more injured and rendered homeless, rather than scolding Alexinsky who subsequently became a Whiteguard migr Stalins repetition, without a word of condemnation, of this foul joke, indicated a lot about his real feelings. Stalin was a contradictory character; on the one hand, fired by a strong-willed hatred of his oppressors, and aligning himself with the most forward-looking ideas of the time, the cause of human liberation (notwithstanding the limitations of Second International Marxism); on the other hand, unable to escape the dismal influences of the society, in both the narrow and broader senses of the term, in which he grew up and lived as an adult. To move on to the question of the exercising of power in a post-revolutionary society and the rise of bureaucratism within the young Soviet republic, it is interesting to note that Glotzer states that Lenins call in his Testament to remove Stalin from his post of General Secretary was too late: Yes, too late, for already the bureaucracy inside the party and the state had grown too powerful and resistive to heed a proposal from the leader of the party and the state. However, although Glotzer understands the tremendous pressures imposed on the Bolsheviks during the period of the Civil War, he, like Trotsky before him, underestimates both the impact of their fight for survival and their political traditions upon their existence as proletarian revolutionaries. The year of 1917 saw not only the Bolsheviks adopting the theory of Permanent Revolution, which permitted them to consider a bid for state power, but also their close political and organisational engagement with a working class that was building its own institutions soviets, factory committees, etc and it was through these institutions that the Bolsheviks took power later that year. However, it was clear that conditions existing within the new Soviet republic a small working class, a huge peasantry, a war-ravaged and backward economy, and a generally low level of culture were most unpropitious for any real advance towards socialism. The Soviet republic could act as the advanced guard of socialism, an example to workers and

47

socialists elsewhere, but its existence as a workers state could only be guaranteed by successful workers revolutions in the more advanced countries of Europe and beyond. Bolshevism in power was therefore essentially a holding operation, a fight for sheer survival. The Soviet regime was confronted by tremendous difficulties, from economic collapse and the disintegration of the working class to sabotage by anticommunists and invasions from hostile foreign powers. Faced with this, political questions were subordinated to military and organisational issues. Despite the existence of considerable debate within the party compare the high level and the wideness of the party congress and conference discussions during this period with those of a decade or two afterwards! it was all too easy for the Bolsheviks to resort to administrative means to deal with political matters. The Bolsheviks established a political monopoly, and other political organisations were suppressed or endured a precarious semi-legal existence. The close relationship with the Russian working class which they enjoyed during 1917 was to dissipate as the proletariat disintegrated, and the soviets and other workers organisations increasingly became adjuncts of the party. The party started to substitute itself for the working class, and to fall back into a paternalistic conception of socialism. The recruits to the Communist Party during the Civil War received their political baptism in an atmosphere that was decidedly uncongenial to democratic processes, thus exacerbating the tendency towards substitutionism. The Bolsheviks won their battle against internal counter-revolution and external intervention, but at a very high cost. Bolshevism could only survive by putting its essence as a revolutionary party deeply in jeopardy. The Bolsheviks emerged from the Civil War at the head of a wrecked country, leading (or attempting to lead) a bloated administrative machine, and ruling in the name of an exhausted and dispersed proletariat. Soviet democracy was increasingly submerged under the rule of a revolutionary party that was acting in loco parentis for the working class. Under such conditions, it could hardly be expected that the Communist Party would remain immune from political degeneration. Under other circumstances, had the Bolshevik project been successful, Soviet Russia would have become a relative backwater of the world drive towards socialism as other more advanced countries took the socialist road. Leading Bolsheviks Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin and other luminaries would have played an important role in the struggle to develop a world communist society, alongside revolutionaries from other countries. Stalin, however, whilst undoubtedly playing an important governmental role, would have been very low down in the international movement so far as theoretical and political issues were concerned. In the cultural advance made under socialist regimes who knows? Stalin may have shaken off his uncultured traits, and become a communist worthy of the name. This, of course, didnt happen, and what took place was very much the opposite. With the dissipation of the working class and the growing bureaucratisation of the party-state apparatus, and in the absence of revolutions in the advanced capitalist states, some sort of degeneration was inevitable in the Soviet Union. And in these conditions, Stalin, the former committee man, was the ideal candidate to take the helm of the Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet state as the 1920s drew by. Who needed proletarian revolutionaries trying to set the world ablaze, or Marxist intellectuals and their complex arguments, now that the main task facing the Bolsheviks seemed to be the practicalities of national consolidation and development socialism in one country?

48

From a position at the start of the 1920s of acting in the name of the working class, by the end of the 1920s the party-state apparatus, with Stalin at its apex, had developed into a social stratum with its own particular interests. The establishment of a vast tatised economic structure under the Five Year Plans enabled the apparatus to became a fully-fledged ruling lite, as conscious of its privileged position vis--vis the proletariat as the ruling class in a capitalist country. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to confuse Stalin the bureaucratic socialist of the early-to-mid-1920s with the full-blown bureaucratic litist of 1929 and beyond, and Trotsky was not being unrealistic when he declared, as Glotzer notes, that had Stalin known at the start where his course would have ended, he would have stopped short. Although Stalins qualities of a canny manoeuvrer and a skilled machine politician enabled him easily to out-manoeuvre his party rivals, making and breaking blocs with one set of Bolshevik leaders after another, it was his advocacy of national development and his inability to foresee the consequences of this that guaranteed his rise to the position of leader and led to the victory of Stalinism with all its horrors. Shachtmans organisation had split from the Trotskyist Fourth International in 1940 for a variety of reasons, one of the more important of which was its disagreement with Trotskys analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state, which held that the tatised Soviet economy was essentially socialist in character, although the country was ruled by a totalitarian caste. Shachtman, Glotzer and their comrades considered that the Soviet Union constituted a new type of society, bureaucratic collectivism, that was neither capitalist nor socialist. This idea, which its proponents never really worked up into a rigorous analysis, had its strengths; the Soviet economy was definitely not capitalist, and neither had the working class had much to do with the establishment of the Soviet Unions collectivist economy other than doing the donkey work and providing the social surplus for the ruling lite. However, by considering that the Soviet Union and other similar states represented a new form of society, one that was more repressive than liberal democracy, rather than a temporary and ultimately doomed social formation, Shachtman and Glotzer eventually came around to viewing Stalinism as a bigger threat to civilisation than capitalism. So within a decade of Stalins death, notwithstanding the liberalisation that had occurred within the Soviet Union after 1953, they had turned their backs upon any meaningful social transformation, and matched their calls for meagre social reforms with a staunch defence of US imperialism. Nonetheless, the ignominious latter-day political career of Albert Glotzer and his mentor Max Shachtman should not prevent us from appreciating the incisive and rewarding commentaries that they and their comrades made in happier days, of which Glotzers obituary of Stalin is an example. Paul Flewers *** Stalin is the greatest man of all times, of all epochs and peoples. Sergei Kirov Stalin proves himself a great man in the grand style Stalin is Lenins heir. Stalinism is Communism. James Burnham WHEN Lenin lay gravely ill, he gave much thought to the future of the revolution and the party which he, above all, helped to create. Fully aware of the dangers which surrounded the young, new state, uncertain of its future as an isolated and backward

49

nation, he concerned himself with the internal situation in the party which now ruled the country alone. In his famous Testament he turned directly to the problem of relations within the leadership which he described in the following unequivocal manner: By stability of the Central Committee, I mean measures against a split, so far as such measures can at all be taken Our party relies upon two classes, and therefore its instability would be possible and its downfall inevitable if there were no agreement between those two classes I think that from this standpoint the prime factors in the question of stability are such members of the Central Committee as Stalin and Trotsky. I think relations between them make up the greater part of the danger of a split Comrade Stalin, having become General Secretary, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. Comrade Trotsky, on the other hand, as his struggle against the Central Committee on the question of the Peoples Commissariat for Communications has already proved, is distinguished not only by outstanding ability. He is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present Central Committee, but he has displayed excessive self-assurance and shown excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work. These two qualities of the two outstanding leaders of the present Central Committee can inadvertently lead to a split, and if our party does not take steps to avert this, the split may come unexpectedly. Lenin proposed that the Central Committee of the party be so enlarged in order to neutralise the relations of Trotsky and Stalin in the leading committee and, as he hoped, to serve as a unifying force in the summits of the party. One year later, however, on 4 January 1923,1 he added a postscript to the Testament saying: Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealings among us communists, becomes intolerable in a General Secretary. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky, it is not a detail, or it is a detail which can assume decisive importance. Shortly afterwards, and immediately prior to a turn in an illness that left him incapacitated until his death, Lenin, in a letter to Stalin, broke off all personal and comradely relations with him. A chain of events leading to this final act was followed with a proposal by Lenin to Trotsky for a political bloc against Stalin. The immediate cause for this was the sharp disagreement that broke out between Lenin and Stalin
1. A slip on Glotzers part, this postscript was written 11 days after the Testament PF.

50

over the national question, particularly in Georgia, where the latter sought to Russify the country and had assumed bureaucratic control over the party. The seriousness of that dispute is further revealed by Stalins attack on Lenins national liberalism for advocating the structure of the new state on a basis of federated republics. One of the peppery dishes this Georgian cook prepared in his triumph as an expert on the national question, was the subordination of all the minority nations to the supremacy of the Great Russians, in no fundamental sense different from the way great Tsars had ruled. Our reference to the Testament is for the purpose of recalling Lenins extreme sensitivity to the problem of the encircling and strangulating bureaucracy in the state and party, his forecast of a split as a result of a peculiar constellation of forces in the leadership, and his appraisal of the two principal figures in the subsequent struggle, one of whom was world famous, the other, an unknown and obscure figure. The Testament made clear that while Stalin was unknown to the world and perhaps to the Russian people and the party at large, inside the broad leadership of the organisation he was a prominent and dominant figure. Consequently, while it is true that he rose from obscurity, it was as a member of the leading cadre of the revolutionary party. Lenins Testament became known only after his death. The persistent demands of the Trotskyist Opposition and its surreptitious circulation throughout the party forced an official admission of its existence. We shall refer to these episodes shortly. First, however, it is necessary to deal with the significance of Lenins reference to the obscure Stalin who was the second most able man in the Central Committee. Upon the publication of the letter many said: See, we may not have known this man. But evidently he was one of the giants of the Bolshevik party. Even Lenin couples him with Trotsky as the two most able men of the Central Committee. And that accounts for his place in the leadership and his rise to power. Trotsky was always wrong in calling Stalin a mediocrity. This misjudgement of Stalin, moreover, obviously led to an underestimation of his ability and the defeat of Trotsky and every other prominent associate of Lenin. On the face of it, looked upon purely as a struggle between personalities, this view appears credible. For example, more than 20 years after the beginning of the struggle between Stalin and his opponents, James Burnham discovered that greatness really fits Stalin greatness being equated with success. Several things require an immediate discussion of this evaluation of Stalin. What exactly did Lenin mean, and could he have meant, in coupling the names of Trotsky and Stalin? Did Trotsky really underestimate Stalins ability and therefore err in his struggle to the point where he guaranteed Stalins victory? What place in history does Stalin have as a figure for progress or retrogression, for the advancement of humanity or its retardation? *** The world socialist movement, from the time of Marx and Engels, has had two basic levels of existence: the level of theory, principle and programme; and the level of action, organisation and administration. In the best parties and individuals, a synthesis is established between these levels in a natural, synchronised manner, with all the unevenness, differences of quality, strength, weakness and capriciousness that attach to all movements and men. Under the most favourable social conditions, these movements and men progressed and produced results of high quality. At unfavour-

51

able historical conjunctures, they exhibited their weaker sides as theoretical, political and organisational-administrative crises arose. Peculiarly enough, Tsarist society in the pre-revolution days provided a favourable arena for the development of revolutionary movements of a high order; many of them having men of considerable quality in their various leaderships. All the parties had their thinkers, writers, orators, organisers and practical men as distinguished from organisers. The Bolshevik party, as history has affirmed, contained them in greater abundance than any other party. For all the grave differences which separated these parties at varying times in their common development, the other parties had respect for the leading men of Lenins party. Throughout the bitter struggles between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, perhaps the most bitter factional struggle experienced by any party, many of the leaders on both sides had respect and even admiration for the abilities of their opponents. The outstanding men of Lenins party were many-sided. They were theoreticians of socialism, great writers, orators, agitators and leaders of men. A mere mention of their names will recall their deeds: Bukharin, Preobrazhensky, Bogdanov, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Riazanov, Sverdlov, Rykov, Tomsky, Sokolnikov and Krassin. There was, of course, Trotsky, already a famous figure beginning with his youthful leadership in the 1905 revolution an exceptional thinker, writer and orator who joined the Bolsheviks in 1917; Rakovsky, from the Balkans, Chicherin, Lunacharsky, Piatakov, Serebriakov and others, each of them making invaluable contributions to the movement. When Lenin said that the two most able men in the Central Committee were Trotsky and Stalin, he caused no little concern to those whose opposition to the latter was accompanied by a complete rejection of the man as having no qualities whatever. Trotsky, as we shall show, was not guilty of such an underestimation of the man; neither were some other opponents of Stalin. The basic reason for their defeat is to be sought in politics rather than psychology, important as the latter may be in trying to understand the personalities in the struggle. Thus, the Testament directed attention to the fact that Lenin, who was extremely perspicacious in his understanding and estimation of men, regarded Stalin as next to Trotsky the most able man of the Central Committee. Stalin was an obscure figure of the party and the revolution, as history, despite its falsification in Russia, has firmly established. Prior to the revolution, through it as well, he wrote little or nothing. He initiated no great ideas or struggles, and contributed nothing whatever to the ideological life of the party, the most intense and active of any party we know. He was, and remained to his death, a speaker of poor quality in content and technique. While the party press contained the names of all leading men of the organisation, Stalins rarely if ever appeared. At party congresses he was usually a silent observer. What attributes, then, did he have that recommended him to the leading staff of the party in the pre-revolutionary days, and caused Lenin to describe him as he did in 1922-23? The Bolshevik party, as an illegal party under Tsarism, had forced upon it methods of work, a character of life and a system of organisation which was in many respects peculiarly Russian, and, except in its centralism and forms of discipline, not unlike all the other illegal parties, including the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries. With its leading staff living in exile, the Bolshevik Party had to develop an illegal organisation in Russia, the same as the other parties. The party could not survive and develop unless it progressed on various levels, theoretical, political

52

and programmatic (for the most part designed by the migr leadership), and organisational, administrative and in the field of action inside of Russia. It required for the latter, men of exceptional courage, skill, tenacity, men prepared to give their lives in the struggle to free Russia from Tsarist oppression. There were many such men in the party; Stalin was among the best of that type, inadequately described as the practicals. The post-revolutionary period brought with it a new selection of men demanded by the new conditions of revolutionary reconstruction. Many were found wanting; others displayed an expanding ability and capacity under the new state. In the case of Stalin, who was originally a coopted member of the Central Committee, the post-revolutionary period of the expansion of state power and administration gave him an opportunity he did not and could not have had before. The sudden death of Sverdlov, which robbed the party of its greatest organiser, elevated Stalin from a figure of second rank to one of first. He became, upon the recommendation or proposal of Zinoviev, Secretary of the party. Yet prior to that time, Lenin too had pushed Stalin, we believe with Trotsky, because he valued his firmness, grit, stubbornness, and to a certain extent his slyness as attributes necessary in the struggle, which the weak state was experiencing. It is certain that Lenin did not require or expect from Stalin independent ideas, political initiative or creative imagination. In all ideological matters, other men made the necessary contributions which gave the party and the new state the rhythm required for consolidation of growth. A review of the various congresses, conferences and other gatherings show these men of ideas to be Lenin in the first place, Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Piatakov, Preobrazhensky, Sokolnikov, etc. They made the main political and policy reports. It would be wrong to believe, however, that the contributions of these men were ideological only. They were, all of them, men of great practical skill, too, heading the most important divisions of the state and the party as practical men. Yet, in the many-sided character of party life, a party which dominated the new state, the practical direction of its affairs required a man of no average skill in such matters. In the selection of Stalin for the post of party Secretary, there is no doubt that the Central Committee felt it had that kind of person, strong-willed, experienced and devoted to the party, one who could keep the organisation functioning at its highest capacities in the tests that seem to confront the organisation daily. If this be doubted, one has only to ask: In what other sense could Lenin have termed Stalin one of the two most able men of the Central Committee? All of the biographers of Stalin and the Russian Revolution agree on this: that Stalin was in no sense, at any time, one of the ideological leaders of the Bolshevik party, neither prior to the revolution, nor after. There are no lasting theoretical contributions made by him. His writings are indeed exceedingly scarce in the years before he became the chief of the Russian state and party. What he did write was anything but outstanding or even worth remembering. Not even the Stalinist school of falsification has been able to resurrect any body of writings prior to 1924 to make a respectable volume of his collected works. Where other leaders of the revolution were widely known for their public activities as writers, speakers and organisers, Stalin was correctly described as an obscure figure, strong only in the ranks of the leading cadres of the party, and not greatly loved among them. Stalin was General Secretary of the party for only one year when Lenin wrote his Testament to warn about the dangers of a split. In another few months, he proposed the removal of Stalin as Secretary. Thereafter, he broke off all comradely and

53

personal relations with him. These are the incontestable facts. They show that, if Lenin erred in his sponsorship of Stalin, it did not take him long to see the mistake and to attempt to remove him. He did not propose to remove Trotsky, or Bukharin, or even Zinoviev and Kamenev, to save the unity of the party and to fight every burgeoning bureaucracy. No, among the leading staff, he proposed to remove Stalin, and only Stalin. But, as history has shown, it was already too late! Too late? Yes, too late, for already the bureaucracy inside the party and the state had grown too powerful and resistive to heed a proposal from the leader of the party and the state. This in itself is a forceful reply to the critics of the revolution that Lenin was dictator of the party and new state. It is an unusual dictator, indeed, who could not affect the removal of a subordinate official before he had fully consolidated his post. And yet, this, too, is the historical fact: Lenins request that Stalin be removed from his post as General Secretary was unheeded not only by the rising new bureaucracy in the party, but by what has been called Lenins general staff. Twice Stalin offered his resignation, once in anger, another time with indifference. On both occasions, he knew the results beforehand. A packed committee and a packed congress cried out: No, No! That ended all proffers of resignation. Behind this refusal to carry out Lenins proposal lies the whole story of the subsequent degeneration of the revolution and the leadership which made it. It is a story of inner-party intrigue, of political deals among differing groups, the achievement of momentary periods of internal peace, the outbreak of new inner crises resulting finally in Stalins complete victory as the undisputed, single leader, the dictator of party and state. It ended in the defeat, dispersal and physical annihilation of all other leaders of the party, his inferiors as well as superiors, personal friends as well as enemies. Lenin was fully aware of the forces of degeneration which were operating in the nation during the years following the Civil War. He was deeply concerned with at least two of the most powerful expressions of this degeneration: the rise of bureaucratism in the state and party, and the growth of Great Russian chauvinism in the national question. When he said We have bureaucratism not only in the Soviet institutions but also in the party, he had in mind Stalin and his new administration. Lenin was outraged at the Georgian affair, as we indicated before. He wrote to Trotsky: It is my earnest request that you should undertake the defence of the Georgian case in the Party Central Committee. This case is now under persecution by Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, and I cannot rely on their impartiality. Quite to the contrary. I would feel at ease if you agreed to undertake its defence. To Mdivani and Makharadze, victims of Stalins machinations, he wrote: I am following your case with all my heart. I am indignant over Ordzhonikidzes rudeness and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. I am preparing for you notes and a speech. Simultaneously, Lenin advised: The political responsibility for all this truly Great Russian nationalist campaign must of course be laid on Stalin and Dzerzhinsky. He prepared material for Trotsky to use as his bomb since he was too ill to be present at the Twelfth Congress. When Trotsky wanted to inform Kamenev, once involved

54

in Georgian matters, Lenin said: Under no circumstances. Kamenev will immediately show everything to Stalin and Stalin will make a rotten compromise and then deceive us. The Georgian affair was the final straw for Lenin. It brought about the end of any comradely and personal relations between Stalin and Lenin, and while it in no way determined what happened in the post-Lenin history of Russia, in the Stalin era, it did establish what were Lenins true relations to Stalin. History shows Stalin to be anything but Lenins disciple. *** Trotsky once wrote: Those theoreticians who attempt to prove that the present totalitarian regime of USSR is due not so much to historical conditions, but to the very nature of Bolshevism itself, forget that the Civil War did not proceed from the nature of Bolshevism but rather from the efforts of the Russian and the international bourgeoisie to overthrow the Soviet regime. The chaos visited upon the new regime resulted from the long years of Civil War, the stress, poverty and disintegration which it provoked. The decline of the revolutionary curve in Europe resulted in enforcing the isolation of the revolution, an isolation fortified by the technical and cultural backwardness of the country. The cultural backwardness of the country made reconstruction more difficult, many of the tasks posed to the new state appearing insurmountable. Lenin once remarked that their culture [the old classes] is at a miserably low and insignificant level. Nevertheless it is higher than ours. Miserable and low as it is, it is still higher than that of our responsible communist administrators. The factor of cultural backwardness piled on to the isolation of the country, the decline of the revolutionary curve, the growth of weariness throughout the land, the change in the composition of the party through the influx of tens of thousands of new members, and the loss of the revolutionary cadre, made it easier for the new bureaucracy and the new leadership under Stalin to progress and consolidate its rule. These are the objective social factors which acted as favourable forces in Stalins rise to power. The story of Stalins victory in his long-drawn-out struggle for power has already been set down in history. It is marked by endless duplicity, retreats, advances, ideological dishonesty, directionless, except as to the goal of complete power, unprincipled blocs and counter-blocs. It would seem that his victory was the product of pure individual superiority in all spheres of human activity in which all opponents are defeated precisely because of their corresponding inferiority. If history was solely the story of individual endeavours and conflict, the story of Stalins rise would be simple indeed. But it is anything but simple. His victory came after long struggles characterised by momentary victories and defeats, fears, hesitations and new advances, followed by stalemates, new blocs, new battles won and new exaltations over the prostrate body of a new opponent, or personal-friend-turned-enemyovernight. Trotsky was willing to grant that he made mistakes in the fight against Stalin. We believe he made grave ones. But in re-evaluating that struggle in the light of the objective social situation in the country, it is impossible to gainsay Trotskys thesis that the world situation more than any other factor made Stalins reactionary victory

55

certain. As he wrote in Stalin: My illness and my subsequent non-participation in the struggle was, I grant, a factor of some consequence; however, its importance should not be exaggerated. In the final reckoning, it was a mere episode. Stalins bloc with Zinoviev and Kamenev was made at a time when they, not he, were prominent and favoured public personalities. Together they began the filthy campaign against Trotskyism in an effort to destroy Trotsky and prevent his replacement of Lenin at the helm of the party and the state. The campaign succeeded in Russia and in the world communist movement. The shameless aim of Zinoviev and Kamenev succeeded too well; it prepared their own downfall. For the defeat of Trotsky did not result in the rise of Zinoviev and Kamenev to new heights, but rather thrust Stalin forward as a new national and international figure and hero. The party machine was already Stalins. From 1922 on he had been building carefully, expanding the apparatus with his hand-picked functionaries and old cronies, all of them distinguished by similar traits, practicals without great learning, anti-intellectual, untrained in the great world socialist school, provincials, more at home in day-to-day political affairs on a lower plane. They were old party members, it is true, but a wide gulf separated them from the great figures of the party. Though the first struggles saw Stalins bloc with Zinoviev and Kamenev dissolved and a new struggle arise between a bloc now of Stalin-Bukharin-RykovTomsky against the Trotskyist left opposition, joined by Zinoviev and Kamenev the new blocs being dissolved as soon as this battle was won by Stalin the great figures were already undermined in the party. If the Twelfth Congress in 1923 was a packed congress, the subsequent congresses, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and above all, the important Fifteenth Congress in 1927, were Stalinist congresses in the true sense of the term. The Fifteenth Congress, the most vulgar in the history of the party, expelled the Left Opposition and resulted in Trotskys exile to Alma Ata in 1928. Thus, 10 years after the revolution, the organiser of the Red Army found himself once more in Siberia. Stalin had emerged, as Trotsky said, with increasing prominence as the organiser, the assignor of tasks, the dispenser of jobs, the trainer and master of the bureaucracy. No sooner was the Left Opposition disposed of than he began the task of destroying the Right Wing, the Bukharin group. In another year, they too would go. It would all end in the Moscow Trials as his crowning achievement. For in the full glory of his greatness, in his unchallenged and unprecedented power, Stalin had to destroy physically every old leader of the party and the state including his own original group of political and personal friends. Political factors alone cannot explain everything about Stalins career. They provide the general setting in which he functioned, but he contributed to these his specific personality which has been so difficult to penetrate. The enigma of Stalin is in part due to the fact that he seems to have no prehistory. Trotsky wrote: The process of his rise took place somewhere behind an impenetrable political curtain. At a certain moment his figure, in the full panoply of power, suddenly stepped away from the Kremlin wall, and for the first time the world became aware of Stalin as a ready-made dictator. All the keener is the interest with which thinking humanity examines the nature of Stalin, personally as well as politically. In the peculiarities of his personality it seeks the key to his political fate.

56

Trotsky proceeds to provide a key to this personality: It is impossible to understand Stalin and his latter-day success without understanding the mainspring of his personality: love of power, ambition, envy active-never-slumbering envy of all who are more powerful, rank higher than he. With that characteristic braggadocio which is the essence of Mussolini, he told one of his friends: I have never met my equal. Stalin could never have uttered this phrase, even to his most intimate friends, because it would have sounded to crude, too absurd, too ridiculous. There were any number of men on the Bolshevik staff alone who excelled Stalin in all respects but one his concentrated ambition. Lenin highly valued power as a tool of action. But pure love of power was utterly alien to him. Not so with Stalin. Psychologically, power to him was always something apart from the purpose which it was supposed to serve. The desire to exert his will as the athlete exerts his muscles, to lord it over others that was the mainspring of his personality. His will thus acquired an everincreasing concentration of force, swelling in aggressiveness, activity, range of expression, stopping at nothing. The more often Stalin had occasion to convince himself that he was lacking in very many attributes for the acquisition of power, the more intensely did he compensate for each deficiency of character, the more subtly did he transform each lack into an advantage under certain conditions. *** The most difficult thing to comprehend in Stalins rise to power is his triumph over all the great leaders of the party and the revolution. One shakes his head at the incredibility of the results one after another, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Tomsky all of them superior men are defeated. The empirical observer shies away from the necessary and difficult task of explaining an event or a series of them in an all-sided manner, in their relation to objective social factors, as events in motion, at a given time and place. He short-circuits these requirements for a judgement based on the simple criterion: success or non-success. Where Stalin was concerned, the views of his victory and his role has been as variable as the political views of the observers. No explanation of Stalins victories makes any sense to them except that Stalin, the unknown, was obviously superior in all vital respects to his opponents. The proof? He won in all the internal struggles in the post-Lenin era, and rose to be the supreme leader of Russia, achieving a status that even Lenin never enjoyed. In a country where theory and generalised evaluations have small currency, but where success is the measure of achievement and truth, this view of Stalins rise to power is highly prized. Whatever ones private opinions may be about the personal characteristics of the men engaged in the great internal struggles of post-revolutionary Russia, the fact is that Stalins rise to power did come with a decline of the revolutionary curve, in a period of mass reaction not only against the policies of the old revolutionary leadership, but against the instability, insecurity and conflict of society itself. The continued chaos of Europe, not a revolutionary chaos, but the conservative chaos of capitalist stabilisation, enhanced the conservative tendencies within the Russian society. The Stalinist faction rose with this conservatism, this desire for peace and work. To say this is not to imply that the leaders of the revolution sought to continue the poli-

57

cies of 1917. An examination of the discussions in the Russian party and the Communist International shows that main orientation was toward an accommodation to what was called the stabilisation of capitalism, with all its contradictory rhythms. But it is obvious to the student of the revolution and the internal struggle, that the masses, generally, and the new party, did not, as it were, trust the old revolutionary leadership. They put their faith in the rising Stalinist faction which never ceased to attack its opponents as international adventurers who threatened the very existence of Russia. The nature of this kind of an attack against the Opposition coincided with both the nationalistic bias of the Stalinist faction and the strong nationalism of the masses against the foreigners (the exiles in the leadership). Next in importance to the change in the objective conditions of the revolution is the change in the party itself. Stalins victory in the old Bolshevik party, we have a right to believe, would have been impossible. Stalins faction, an immense layer of the new bureaucracy, ignorant of theory and caring less, without a strong tradition, impatient with genuine politics, could win only in another kind of party. Five years after the revolution, the partys composition had completely altered. The revolutionary generation which gave the party its absolutely unique character, had all but disappeared. Where it remained, it was overwhelmed by the new layers of the post-revolutionary generation, drawn to the party because it had been victorious. These new party masses had chosen a winner. Like the Stalinist faction, they were impatient with theoretical and political discussion, indifferent to the traditions of the party, and unconcerned with its long and varied history. In Lenins party, Pravda could never have said as it did in 1926, that the party does not want arguments. For in Lenins party, the revolutionary party, there were nothing but arguments, that is, there never was a period in that party in which great theoretical and political disputes were not current, political factions did not exist, function and carry out struggles for their views. Ten years after the revolution there remained in the party less than one per cent of the membership of the pre-revolutionary days. Stalins reactionary struggle rested upon 90 per cent of the new membership, the representatives of the new bureaucracy, which thrust him forward as their outstanding representative and leader. It was to this new movement to which he lent his character. Stalins early victories brought with them a complete transformation of the Russian and international movements. The first victim of his rule was not the old leadership. The first victim was the idealism of the movement, its socialistic mores. The whole great goal of mans liberation from oppression and exploitation gradually disappeared in favour of an exaltation of practical successes, until the goal was lost completely. The revision of theory and programme which accompanied the change was so complete in its scope that the great democratic and liberating traditions of Marxism disappeared entirely from this movement. The concept of socialism took on an entirely new meaning under Stalin. Immediate aims, industrial indices, ingot production, increasing state power, nationalisation and collectivisation of property became an end in themselves and forced upon the new bureaucracy new goals and theories that no longer had anything to do with socialism. Under socialism, industrial advance is inconceivable without the simultaneous rise in the standards, economic, political, social and cultural, of all the classes. For socialism, all-sided progress means the gradual decline of the forces of coercion, the state and its armed forces. For socialism, social advance means the gradual rise of an administration of things, an increasing democracy,

58

and a gradual disappearance of the old classes and the class society. The reality and the tendency of Stalinist society are not merely different from socialism, but more in another direction. Under Stalin, the revolutionary party disappeared, and with it went all the forms of the independent intervention of the working class in the social process. The soviets as soviets disappeared. The trade unions became transformed from the independent economic organisations of the working class into state organisations for the purpose of chaining more securely the masses to the needs of the bureaucratic state. In the factories, the managers, making up an enormous section of the bureaucracy, ruled unmolested, and workers control disappeared even before it had an opportunity of fully expressing its economic role. Party life was completely transformed. The old free party, already suffering malformations because of the long-drawn-out civil war and economic distress, had lost all of its old traditions and characteristics. There were no longer any free discussions, no factions except that of the new leadership, no elections of importance and few if any congresses of delegated bodies. The point was finally reached when congresses began to be held five years apart, and then 10, and even more. Leadership of the bureaucracy, if not the individuals, became permanent without any possibility of intervention by the party ranks. Yet this condition suited the new membership of the new party. *** The critics of Bolshevism seem not to understand the above transformation. In referring to it, the whole nature of the objective situation which had contributed so much also to the destruction and degeneration of the social democratic movement, and of what remains of capitalism, is rejected in favour of a simpler thesis: Stalinism grew out of Bolshevism and was its natural heir. Even more intelligent historians who readily assert that Stalinism and Bolshevism are antagonistic, antipodean, destroy their own valuable contributions by a psychological inability to draw the inevitable conclusions to their own material. Thus, at the end of their excellent studies, protrudes the simplistic idea that Stalinism is not so much a new phenomenon as it is the natural, evolutionary product of Leninism. Why? Because Lenins conception of a centralised party when carried out in life, had to produce Stalinism. These historians, too, leave the field of objective analysis, for in arriving at this conclusion, they express not the results of their studies, but their own political bias as it has developed over the years and, whether they understand it or not, conform to a particular world political situation of which they are an active part. There is no doubt that a highly centralised party such as Lenin created to meet the conditions of struggle against Tsarist absolutism also created tendencies toward bureaucratisation, no more nor less, however, than the other parties which functioned in the same milieu (the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries). If the party of Bolshevism contained the seeds of bureaucratic degeneration, so did all the parties in Russia, and so do all parties or organisations, per se. The degeneration of the Bolshevik party, however, did not come as a result of an inner-logic of a specific organisational concept or practice, but as a result of historical factors. The test of that truth is that the victory of Stalinism came only after years of the most intense internal struggle and in the form of a counter-revolution inside the party and the society. Or, to put it more accurately, the social counter-revolution in the party which is supposed to have produced the phenomenon, logically and inevitably. What is more,

59

these same critics are forced to admit, in contrasting the two epochs of the movement, that Lenin was a democrat and that the party was free despite the conditions of illegality and the sea of backwardness in which it had functioned. It was obviously not the discipline of the party, nor the system of cooptations which paved the way for Stalinism, but for the more important factors already cited.2 The advocates of the aforementioned theory are left somewhat helpless to explain why, under the conditions of bourgeois democracy, especially in the United States, practically all organisations, political and economic, are either totally or partially bureaucratised. They run the gamut from AFL craft unions to the bourgeois political parties which are run exclusively from above, or by factions of the big bourgeoisie. Not even the smaller political parties are exempt from this process. To say, as some do, that organisation (any organisation) means bureaucracy is again a simplification that confounds rather than explains. Bureaucracy is a social phenomenon which can only be explained most satisfactorily on the basis of objective historical factors. Yet it is a phenomenon which is so filled with the personal element, the involvement of people, that it is not enough to pass it off by the above generalised statement. The factor of culture, a low or backward culture, contributes much to our understanding of the phenomenon. So long as society is not free, so long as factors of exploitation and oppression remain, that is, so long as human society remains backward in relation to the attainment of total democracy, culture will remain backward, and bureaucracy will be an ever-present phenomenon. The bureaucratisation of Russian society, then, can be best understood, not as a chemically-pure product of a certain type of party, but the expression of a counterrevolution, in a backward country, whose culture has lagged historically behind even the Western world. Stalin is no more the heir of Lenin than a Hoover or an Eisenhower is the heir of Lincoln, no more than Morris Hillquit was and Norman Thomas is the heir of Eugene V Debs. On the other hand, John L Lewis, William Green and David Beck are the heirs of Samuel Gompers. And Joe Ryan is a kind of heir of American craft unionism. They reflect the long bureaucratic tradition of the AFL. In saying this, however, we are describing only the surface aspects of the phenomenon, and do not touch the heart of the bureaucratic problem which demands a study all its own. Lest anyone protest at these analogies to point out that there is a substantial difference between the examples cited, we may add that the difference is primarily quantitative rather than qualitative. That which the Stalinist, bourgeois, union and political bureaucracies have in common is their indifference to the desires and needs of the masses and their right to decide their own fates. Stalinist bureaucratism, coincident with state power in a one-party nation, gave way to a totalitarianism which, if not more extensive than others we have known, is certainly a more extensive system of rule than those of the fascists. What makes it so is the character of the social order which governs in Russia, the system of bureaucratic collectivism as an anti-capitalist, anti2. If other parties had existed at the time of the struggle in the Bolshevik party, unquestionably that struggle would have taken on some other forms. The civil war which Stalin led inside the party may well have burst out in the country as a whole, and a different constellation of forces would most certainly have appeared. But it would have resembled the contending groups. Given the existence of a single party, that party reflected, in a distorted way, the tendencies within the country as a whole. Whether it would have brought results other than what did occur is impossible to say, given the general state of affairs. In any case, it is possible to say, after the experience of the revolution, that it would have been much, much better had there existed not one party, but many parties.

60

socialist society. It is not the Russian climate or the organisation of Lenins party which made it so. This Russian society did not emerge at once with Stalins victory. Trotsky once wrote that if Stalin knew where he was leading, he might have hesitated in his drive for power. This is, of course, purely speculative. But it is certain that Stalin had no idea in the 1920s where his rule would end. Stalin was above all a political improviser, whose policies developed from day to day, without long-range perspective. If he is to be credited with the revisionist and nationalist theory of socialism in one country, a reading over of the disputes on this question show that neither he nor any of his followers knew exactly the significance of the theory or its practical possibilities for transforming the whole character of the revolution. Once in power, Stalin, driven on by the logic of his dictatorial rule, had to wipe out every trace of the old party. As Isaac Deutscher vividly described it: He knew that the old generation of revolutionaries, though weary and humiliated, would, with very few exceptions, never be wholeheartedly converted to Miracle, Mystery and Authority [Stalinist leadership AG]; and that it would always look upon him as a falsifier of first principles and usurper. He disbanded the Society of Old Bolsheviks, the Society of Former Political Prisoners, and the Communist Academy, the institutions which the spirit of Bolshevism had as its last refuge. These moves indicated the stretch of the road he had travelled since he had begun his struggle against the ex-Menshevik Trotsky in the name of the Old Bolshevik Guard. He now appealed to the young generation, not, of course, to its restive spirit, but to its more timid and yet very important mass, which, though eager to learn and advance socially, knew little or nothing about the pristine ideas of Bolshevism, and was unwilling to be bothered about them. This younger generation, as far back as it could remember, had always seen the leaders of the various opposition in the roles of either whipping boys or of flagellants. It had been accustomed from childhood to look up to Stalin wrapped in Mystery and Authority. To enforce his rule, Stalin introduced the police regime into the life of the nation and the party. Discussion ceased as the method of resolving differences. There was no need for it since differences were ruled out by decree. Only the Boss had the right to changing views, and only he had a right to change what was once adopted. Hooliganism and rudeness replaced the old inner life of the party. Souvarine points out: The annals of Bolshevism contain plenty of bitter fights, barbed polemics and noisy and passionate episodes. But in this party, where Lenin practically never used the familiar thou to anyone, the strictest courtesy was always the rule, even in the midst of the Civil War, and exceptions strike a jarring note. The era of Stalin inaugurated new usages. The snide critics of Lenin, who take political revenge on Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution by likening the leadership of Lenin to Stalin, overlook this simple truth: While Lenin was the authentic leader of the Bolshevik party, there was no end of differences, violent disputes and even at times splits. Lenin was more than once a minority in his party. This happened not only prior to 1917, but after 1917, and most prominently during the discussions of the Brest-Litovsk treaty. Nothing like that can be said about the era of Stalins dictatorship, for the simple reason that no differences

61

were permissible and no discussions possible. In the Stalinist era, not even agreement and abject fealty to the Boss was a guarantee of ones activity or life. In Souvarines words: It would be difficult to distinguish in Stalins professions of socialist faith at that time, the varying proportions of hypocrisy and ignorance. But as one watches the sacrifice of the individual workers to the parasitic state, and that of the revolutionary generations to the myth of the toofascinating Plan, one cannot doubt one primary fact: five years after Lenins death, Leninist notions of socialism had no longer anything whatever in common with the doctrines put forward under the same label Russian history throws a better light on the Soviet regime devoid of soviets, than the arbitrary references to Marxism, of which Stalin actually represents the antithesis. *** The falsification of history ordered by Stalin had as its aim the elevation of Stalin to greatness, nay, to the rank of genius. The whole history of the party and the revolution was rewritten not once but many times. Since each new year required a new myth, since each new history could not match the imperative psychological yearnings of a Stalin in absolute power, the rewriting of history became a permanent profession while the lives of successive historians were quite temporary. Where ordinary mortals develop from childhood to manhood in accordance with objective circumstances and opportunities, to which they lend their real and potential talents, Stalin had to be transformed into a semi-God, a genius from childhood, the first disciple of Lenin, and not merely the first disciple, but Lenins lifelong friend and counsellor. No truly great man would, of course, require or permit the transparent hypocrisy of the fawning adulation expressed for Stalin in the 25 years of his rule. There was absolutely no precedent for it in the whole history of socialism. It was a part of Stalins vulgarity, and the length to which it went was obscene. Bertram D Wolfe wrote: if we try to represent him the best disciple of Comrade Lenin and to present all other leading disciples as weaklings and foul and unfaithful traitors; if further we wish to portray him as Lenins closest collaborator throughout the history of our party from the very inception of Bolshevism, Lenins co-worker in the building of the party (Molotov); if, despite the 10 years of difference in their ages, we would picture Stalin as advising Lenin from the start and having no little influence on Lenin (Kalinin); if, moreover, he is indeed the greatest of our contemporaries (Barbusse, Mikoyan, Beria, and others); the most profound theoretician of contemporary times (Beria); no one so able to penetrate into the most secret recesses of the human heart (Shvernik); the God-appointed leader of our military and cultural forces (Patriarch Sergius); the father of us all (Yaroslavsky); the greatest man of all times, of all epochs and peoples (Kirov) then the need to establish the precocity of his genius and the vast sweep of his early rebelliousness becomes more understandable. In ordering the rewriting of his entire life, Stalin was fully aware that he had to re-

62

write, too, if it were at all possible, the history of all the other leaders. And this he tried by portraying every one of them as spies, saboteurs, enemies of the people, and foreign agents in the pay of bourgeois and fascist governments not merely in their latter-day lives, but practically from the first days of their participation in the socialist movement. Such a reckless indifference to truth and to life itself cannot be reconciled to the ideals of socialism, and attest in another way, and that there was not and is not now the slightest aspect of socialism to be found in the totalitarian regime of Stalinism. In all history there has never been such obeisance paid a head of state not even to Hitler or Mussolini. It would seem that even to a totalitarian leader, an everrising crescendo of hussahs to his political genius and leadership would suffice. But envy was not least of Stalins characteristics. He was envious of contemporaries who excelled over him in intellectual attainments. To be paid tribute for his leadership over an entire nation was not enough. Yet he needed just such expressions of servility. He not only tolerated but instigated the many expressions of praise to his genius. His hypocrisy was nowhere better expressed than in his display of modesty, perhaps the last, in Tiflis in 1926. Replying to the eulogies of his friends, he said: I must, in all conscience, tell you, comrades, that I have not deserved half the eulogy that various delegates have here given me. It appears from them that I am one of the October heroes, the director of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the head of the Communist International, a peerless knight and all sorts of other things. This is mere fantasy, comrades, and a perfectly useless exaggeration. This is the way one speaks at the grave of a revolutionary. But I am not preparing to die. But if Stalin protested against the useless exaggeration in 1926, and described it as mere fantasy, which it was, he made no effort to stop the exaggerations which had become quite useful for his purposes. He was all of these things: shock-brigader, legendary figure, a beloved commander, genial thinker, adored Stalin, the steel colossus, great engineer, great pilot, great master, great architect, the greatest disciple of the great master, the greatest of theorists, and the greatest of the great. The highest peak in Europe, Pamir, was renamed Stalin. Cities renamed after him were Stalingrad, Stalino, Stalin, Stalinabad, Stalinsk, Stalin-Aol, Stalinissi, Stalinir and Stalinogorsk. Even this was not enough. He had to be great in all fields. So Revolution and Culture ranks him amongst the profound connoisseurs and critics of Hegel. Another journal calls him one of the most authoritative specialists in contemporary philosophical problems. Cultural Front writes that: In reality, certain pronouncements of Aristotle have only been fully deciphered and expressed by Stalin. An instructor at the Communist Academy once said: The full significance of Kantian theories can be fully embodied in contemporary science only in the light of Comrade Stalins last letter. a letter attacking putrid liberalism and Trotskyist contraband. He became overnight a great literary man. At the Literary Post wrote that Stalin has always been distinguished by his profound understanding of literature. Another periodical, Literary Gazette, advised that: It is up to linguistics and criticism to study Stalins style. We are not done by any means. The writer Demian Biedny counsels literary men: Learn to write as Stalin writes. Ask me who best understands the Russian language, said Kalinin, and I reply Stalin. Poems extol the great face, the great
63

eyes, the great and incomparable brow of Stalin whose appearance has the effect of a ray of sunshine. These accolades are summarised in the panegyric of Henri Barbusse, who described Stalin as the man with the head of a scientist, the face of a worker and the dress of a plain soldier. The scale of this lavish and disproportionate praise is in inverse ratio to Stalins real accomplishments. Whatever Stalin may have been, he was never a philosopher or student of philosophy; he was never a literary man nor had he ever displayed any unusual interest either in literature or art; he had never until the very last years of his life shown any interest or accomplishment in the field of linguistics or philology, or science. But the lavish praise reached a plane that defies criticism, indignation or irony. The man knew little or nothing about science and philosophy, of literature and philology, and his command of the Russian language was notoriously poor. Yet the need for greatness was so overwhelming that he sought to make up for a real failure of intellectual accomplishment by the bureaucratic device of making of himself a genius by decree. And this was in keeping with his politics. He resolved all problems by police measures; he made himself great in the same way. For woe unto those who failed Stalin here. Before the great campaign to extol his many and universal virtues, Stalin made demands of his own personal friends and political allies that they too recognise his non-existent qualities and talents. In a state of exasperation, his old crony Yenukidze once burst out to a comrade: What more does he want? I am doing everything he has asked me to do, but it is not enough for him. He wants me to admit that he is a genius. Krassin, who knew him well, called Stalin an Asiatic, not as a racial characteristic, but for the blending of grit, shrewdness, craftiness and cruelty. Bukharin merely called him a Ghengis Khan. The foregoing examples of the long campaign to make Stalin a great man, a campaign initiated by Stalin, emphasises the accuracy of Trotskys analysis of his characteristics which we have quoted. The campaign to make Stalin a genius could only have occurred after the annihilation of the old party and its leading staff. It was possible only on the basis of the universal ignorance of the new generations that had grown up under the dictatorial regime of Stalin, on a falsification of history that never ended, on revised histories become old before they were fully circulated, on the destruction of revisionist historians who had already destroyed truth and fell into limbo because they could not keep up with the insatiable and vindictive appetite of the Velikyi Stalin (Stalin the Great) for fame. The result of the great falsification and the campaign to make Stalin a genius was a total intellectual stagnation of the country. Stalins mediocrity determined the standards in science, art and literature as the Boss intervened in all these fields. Literature and art of the Stalinist epoch, wrote Trotsky, were to go down in history as examples of the most absurd and abject Byzantianism. Souvarine listed numerous examples of the utterly reactionary campaign in literature and art, a campaign comparable to the architect of that other great totalitarian state of our time, Hitler. In more recent times we are familiar with the Great Russian chauvinist campaign against cosmopolitanism and the rise of Russian Slavic historiography which has discovered that the real beginnings of civilisation are Russian in origin, as are all advances made by man in science and invention. As a result of all this, the great revolutionary beginnings in literature, art and

64

science, produced by October, were halted in their tracks. Under the Stalinist dictatorship these fields of culture and individual attainment were subordinated to the needs of the political regime and therefore stagnated completely. No great works of literature, of painting, or of the cinema were possible as long as the quixotic moods of the Kremlin determined what should be written, painted or produced cinematically. Music has had a similar fate, and the leading Russian composers have been declared enemies of the people for not composing symphonies that could be whistled. Stalins excursions into the fields of culture were not dictated by any immediate or direct needs of his regime. Whether a Shostakovich symphony could be whistled or not, whether he wrote a quartet, sonata or an opera, could in no way affect the state of the nation, although an anti-Stalinist opera might conceivably be written. It certainly never would have been produced, and it would have been the last known work of its author. Modern abstract surrealist or non-objective art certainly could not and did not threaten the regime, yet Stalin personally forced Russian painting back more than a century. Stalins intervention in these fields, as in philology, literature and science were the result not of any compelling political need as it was an inner hungry drive in a cold, calculating, narrow and revengeful man who wanted history to record his life as one of universal greatness, as an individual who attained the highest pinnacles in all fields of human endeavour, as a superhuman person. He believed he could do it by decree, at the point of a Luger, as he ordered all things done in his police state. It is hardly necessary to prove, wrote Trotsky, that a man who uttered not a single word on any subject at any time and was automatically raised to the top by his bureaucracy after he had long passed the age of 40 cannot be regarded as a genius. To believe otherwise is to assume that in Stalin we have a case of arrested development, the man beginning his rise to knowledge and greatness after the age of 50. Perhaps it is too early to make any definitive evaluation of Stalins place in history. But it is certainly possible and necessary to make at least some provisional comments on the subject, since everything that we can possibly know about the life of the man is known. There remains then the matter of giving judgement to his deeds and accomplishments, not as achievements independent of their time and place, but in relation to several important historical factors. Stalin did not live and function in some abstract society, that is, a socialist society in a single country, walled off from the rest of the world, as Bukharin once argued on behalf of that revisionist theory. He rose to the head of a state, a one-time workers state, in a capitalist world in crisis. The collapse of capitalism and its weakness as a universal social order coincided with a tremendous crisis of the socialist movement and these contributed as much to Stalins rise to power as did his victory in the protracted factional struggles inside the Russian party and state. His rise to power as the dictator of the country was accompanied by an increasing bureaucratisation of the land and its eventual totalitarianisation. Russia became the most complete totalitarian police state the world has ever seen. In this it was distinguished from the Italian and German examples because while they remained bourgeois states, expressing the same class relations that existed in the democratic capitalist nations, the state showed a greater mobility of the bourgeoisie and a certain independence of movement and action in the ruling groups which seeped down through the lower layers of the fascist structure. Stalinist society, in contrast, became completely sealed off and its masses were thoroughly atomised. The objective reason for this important difference in the two types of totalitari-

65

anism lay in the fundamentally different social orders which prevailed in these countries. Stalinist society, which we have described as a bureaucratic collectivist state, arose on the foundations of a revolution which abolished the bases of capitalism and created the groundwork for a classless socialist society. In the abolition of private property in the means of production, that is, in its nationalisation of industry, the revolution merely set the direction for future progress. The new state was not yet a socialist state; far from it, in fact. The socialist leaders of the new state understood full well that socialism could not arise on the basis of a working-class victory in a single country, especially one backward industrially and technologically, and above all, culturally. In the absence of a similar development elsewhere, they hoped they could strengthen the basis of the new state by adopting socialistic measures that would begin the long and difficult development toward a new and free society. The degeneration of the revolution is the story of Stalins victory as a counter-revolution. Stalins counter-revolution was directed not merely against the old leadership. This is the falsification of history by Stalin, a falsification which has influenced all the critics of the revolution, as well as some of its friends. The victory of Stalin is still regarded as a palace revolution in which Stalin won out against his rivals; this being the process of all revolutions which have the habit of devouring their children. Among these critics, Stalin represents Marxism, socialism and Bolshevism. Every achievement of the Stalinist regime is a living symbol of its anti-socialism and anti-Marxism. It is not merely a question of Stalin erring in this or that direction, on this or that specific question. No, the anti-socialism of Stalinism is fundamental in its basic conceptions, its practices and its results. Socialism means the elevation of every man and woman to great social and cultural heights which are attainable only under complete democracy, economic and political freedom. Lenins opposition to bourgeois democracy was not that it was democratic, but that it was not democratic enough; it was a class democracy and therefore incomplete. Whoever wants to approach socialism, he wrote, by any other path than that of political democracy, will inevitably arrive at the most absurd and reactionary conclusions both economic and political. The living proof of this is the Stalinist dictatorship. There is no question that the revolution had made mistakes and grave ones. These have been pointed out more than once in the New International. They were the mistakes of a revolution in a backward country which inherited all the retrogressive features of Tsarist absolutism. This alone might not have produced a one-party regime, were it not for the counter-revolution of Tsarism, the intervention of the United States, Great Britain, France, and their First World War enemies on behalf of the rotten old regime, and finally, the attempt to overthrow the regime by the Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, which were not outlawed after October. The subsequent degeneration, however, was not historically determined simply by the conditions produced by the revolution and the counter-revolution. It is more accurate to say that the degeneration of the revolution through Stalins rise to power, that is, the counter-revolution, never gave the new state an opportunity for peaceful reconstruction over an extended period of time. In erasing the achievements of the revolution, the Stalinist regime did not return to capitalism, as some contend, nor did it extend socialism economically unconsciously or historically as others contend, but evolved an entirely new system. It retained nationalised property, collectivised agricultural, destroyed whatever remnants of a private economy remained, encompassed within the purview of the

66

state all matters economic and political, and therefore social. In a word, the collective state became the collective owner of collective property. It became a bureaucratic collectivist state, characterised by the most inhuman exploitation of the Russian people, and by the introduction of slave labour as a highly important adjunct to the economy, an indispensable part of the new system. Such a regime could not evolve as any but a police regime to keep the classes enslaved and to safeguard the all-powerful and omniscient state. The vagaries of its conduct, its brutally, its inhumanity are the product of the system which beholds man not as the most important factor in life and society, but as an instrument of exploitation for the progress of machine production. If the regime exhibits cruelty beyond even the needs of this kind of state, it is only the added fillip the state expressing the personalities which dominate it. This writer holds that while Stalin was attracted to Marxian socialism in his youth, remained a devoted revolutionary against Tsarism and a faithful party man all his life, he never emerged from the mould of backwardness of the eighteenthcentury nation where he was born. A careful examination of his life and work show that in Stalin, revolutionary socialism was wedded to a powerfully ingrained nationalism. He sincerely desired the destruction of Tsarism and saw the liberation of Russia from absolutism as a socialist act. His hatred of the migr leaders and the boast of his cronies that they had never left Russian soil contributed to this nationalist bias. The Stalinists were the true provincials of the Russian movement, and this provincialism forced itself into all their works, their theories, politics and practices. Stalin was both the creation and the personification of the new bureaucracy. The bureaucracy had grown out of the conditions of backwardness in Russia. In the system of bureaucratic collectivism, its superior position in society, gave it the form and content of a new ruling class, a ruling class more ruthless than any we have known. This class not only owned the state as its collective property, but reorganised Russian society to guarantee and perpetuate its collective rule as a class. In doing so, it also introduced political and social mores hitherto unknown either in bourgeois society or the broad and general socialist movement which arose as an antibourgeois movement. *** Analogies are often made between the Russian Revolution and its leaders and the French. The analogies are all faulty, helpful as some of them may be in understanding certain of the Russian events. But the essential differences between the Russian and French revolutions are decisive when analogies are made between the Thermidor and the Stalinist counter-revolution. The Russian Revolution was a product of modern capitalism, a machine society of modern classes. The French Revolution came as a rebellion against feudalism and the absolutist regime. There is no strong and instructive analogy between the groupings in the French Revolution and the single party in Russia. As a consequence, while it is possible to draw some likenesses between Lenin and Trotsky and some of the great French rebels, there is no one to draw from to help in understanding Stalin. Stalin is a unique personality. It is not alone his personal cruelty, his sadism and his envy which is unique. Other men have had those traits. But his hurts, resentments, bitterness and attachments which he transferred from the small scale of the province to the grand scale of the entire country, are destructive. Actually the French Revolution, enormous as it was in influencing the rest of the world, occurred

67

within a limited geographical area and encompassed small numbers of people. No great international movement embracing millions was associated with it. No figure in the French Revolution exercised power approaching Stalins. And finally, no other figure in history was able by his malevolence to alter and determine the course of a world movement and a state embracing tens of millions of people, to upset a system of ideas a century old, and to destroy such powerful traditions as were associated with socialism. And he did all of this in the name of socialism. When he said that socialism required a strengthening of the state, not its withering away, his followers nodded, amen. When he asserted that socialism means inequality (only complete communism would create equality), great hossanahs were sung in his name. When he proclaimed that Russia had achieved full and complete socialism, amid backwardness, poverty and exploitation, hallelujahs were sung around the world. The man who was wrong in his estimates and tactics on almost every important world question, was declared the most practical of men. He helped destroy the German socialist movement by his betrayal of the revolution, paving the way to Hitlers victory. He made a bloc with Chiang Kai-Shek in 1927 that destroyed that revolution and the old Chinese Communist Party. He promulgated the theory of social fascism, and the Third Period, which isolated the whole Communist International from the world working class. He failed in his policy of collective security, and took out his spite against Great Britain, the United States and France by signing a pact with Hitler. The pact with Hitler almost proved his undoing by starting the Second World War which led to the invasion of his domain. Were it not for American intervention in the war and its assistance to Stalin, he could not have saved his regime. The extension of the Second World War to global proportions served to perpetuate his regime and to help it flourish and expand, not so much because of its own inner strength, but because the war, in destroying Germany, Italy and Germany, almost destroyed the whole capitalist world and gave Stalin a new lease on life. Thus a series of fortuitous world circumstances, the disintegration of capitalism and the weakness of the socialist movement, allowed for an extension of Stalinism. In permitting that extension, it likewise introduced new and powerful forces for the disintegration of that system, primarily in the national and social rebelliousness of the new states now ruled by the Stalinist empire. Stalinism can no more solve the problem of national independence than could Hitlerism, and the Stalinist multinational state is as much a fiction as a Hitlerised Europe would be. The break with Tito, the dissatisfactions in the countries behind the Iron Curtain, the rebellions in Czechoslovakia and the uprising in East Germany are all the unmistakable signs of the grave weaknesses of Stalinism. Stalin has left the legacy of a new exploitative society, the most reactionary and bureaucratic social order we have ever known. He headed that society completely without once loosening his authority over that state and the movement associated with his name. No more apt description of that role has been given than by Trotsky when he wrote: LEtat, cest moi! is almost a liberal formula by comparison with the actualities of Stalins totalitarian regime. Louis XIV identified himself only with the State. The Popes of Rome identified themselves with both the State and the Church but only during the epoch of temporal power. The totalitarian state goes beyond Caesero-Papism, for it has encompassed the entire economy of the country as well. Stalin can justly say, unlike the Sun King:

68

La Socit, cest moi! *** In reply to Ivan Smirnov that Stalin is a mediocrity, a colourless nonentity, Trotsky replied: Mediocrity, yes; nonentity, no. The dialectics of history have already hooked him and will raise him up. He is needed by all of them by the tired radicals, by the bureaucrats, by the Nepmen, the kulaks, the upstarts, the sneaks, by all the worms that are crawling out of the upturned soil of the manured revolution. He knows how to meet them on their own ground, he speaks their language, and he knows how to lead them. He has the deserved reputation of an old revolutionist, which makes him invaluable to them as a blinder on the eyes of the country. He has will and daring. He will not hesitate to utilise them and to move them against the party. He has already started doing this. Right now he is organising around himself the sneaks of the party, the artful dodgers. Of course, great developments in Europe, in Asia and in our country may intervene and upset all the speculations. But if everything continues to go automatically as it is going now, then Stalin will just as automatically become dictator. This was said not in 1935 or 1930, but in 1924. It was said not in malice, but quite objectively, on the basis of a keen grasp of the currents which had developed in a party in control of the state, the only party in the land. Trotsky measured greatness not by the yardstick of success, or achievement and accomplishment per se. The greatness of a man ought to be measured as a total contribution to progress of mankind, the elevation of society, the improvement of the economic, political, social and cultural advance of man collectively and individually. Great men are largely men of genius or near genius in many fields. They were the initiators of great ideas and great social progress, and they lived in all ages. If success alone is the measure of greatness, then greatness would indeed have been commonplace and there would be no men of distinction. The yardstick by which a Burnham could measure the greatness of Stalin could apply to a Hitler or a Mussolini, or to any man in any field who merely succeeded in achieving a goal. Burnham writes of Stalin: Long ago he succeeds. Impressive! What test of action? Success at the murder of all opponents! The Moscow Trials have stood the test of action. Indeed! Stalins political techniques show a freedom from conventional restrictions that is incompatible with mediocrity. The mediocre man is custom bound. Why does it follow? The same can be said of Hitler and Mussolini all terrorists show a freedom from conventional restrictions. But his greatness, continues Burnham, lies in Stalins theory of multi-national Bolshevism. As a creative political idea, he writes, not merely or so much as a general theoretical conception of the nature of politics but as an idea fitted to implement politics in action, multi-national Bolshevism (Stalins contribution) ranks with Marxs theory of the state, Trotskys theory of the permanent revolution, or Lenins analysis of capitalism in the stage of finance-imperialism. And this isnt all. Stalin has translated into a realistic political perspective the dream of theoretical geopolitics: domination of Eurasia. Like all of Burnhams theories, these cannot stand the test of time or any other measure. And they are not necessarily new discoveries. Sta-

69

lins theory of multi-national Bolshevism is neither Bolshevik nor multi-national. It is merely Great Russian chauvinism expressing itself in its most blatant form; it is the triumph of those very ideas against which Lenin sought to organise the party through a bloc with Trotsky. Moreover, it is this very theory, and the practice which takes place under it, that is the Achilles heel of Stalinism, for it keeps the national minorities under Stalinist rule in a permanent state of opposition, ferment and struggle. Stalins multi-national Bolshevism is a state of war of the Great Russians against all other nations in the Stalinist orbit. The measure of Burnhams contribution is that he likens a modernised version of Tsarist policy on foreign affairs and on the national question to the great theoretical contributions of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky. Worst of all, this kind of contribution helps to muddy the already polluted waters in the struggle against Stalinism, for it pictures a power in that movement that is not there. Or to put it more accurately, it is precisely in that area of struggle that a movement against Stalinism is most ripe and contains the best possibilities of success. Realpolitik! The scientific method! In appraising the methods of Stalin, Burnham quotes approvingly from Hitler that politics was not conducted to satisfy a few scholars or aesthetic sickly apes and which confounds intellectuals and writers who live in a verbalised atmosphere. For Burnham, even Stalins style, his rhetoric, was in its own genre distinguished. But Burnham overlooks this important fact: All of Stalins opponents were not just intellectuals and writers, observing events coldly and objectively from behind a typewriter. They were the men who organised and led the revolution. They were men of action as well as ideas. They stood out in the open, proclaimed their views and their goals, and went out and did their deeds. It was against men of this calibre that Stalin organised the bureaucracy. When a Burnham rejects Trotskys description of Stalin as a mediocrity by asserting that the war established his greatness, he neglects to see that in so describing Stalin, Trotsky is comparing him with the truly great men of socialism, Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Mehring, Lenin, Luxemburg and even with himself. He wrote: In attempting to find a historical parallel for Stalin, we have to reject not only Cromwell, Robespierre, Napoleon and Lenin, but even Mussolini and Hitler. We come close to an understanding of Stalin when we think in terms of Mustapha Kemal Pasha or perhaps Porfirio Diaz. One need not subscribe to every word in the above to see the direction of Trotskys comparison and how much more accurate it is than Burnhams re-evaluation. Philip Rahv in his rejoinder to Burnhams article in Partisan Review wrote pertinently on this question: Stalins ruthlessness, his indifference to human suffering, and the unprecedented scale of his autocratic sway certainly link him, as Burnham remarks, to the tradition of the most spectacular of the Tsars, of the great Kings of the Medes and Persians, etc. But to conclude on that account that he is a great man is to judge him along purely aesthetic lines, that is, in the sense of the distinction drawn between the aesthetic approach and the ethical one. The aesthetic attitude is essentially that of the uncommitted person, of the detached onlooker gratified by spectacles. It is an attitude exhausted by the categories of interesting on the one hand and the boring on the other categories as modern as they are inauthentic

70

But in politics, as in morals, the criteria of aestheticism are the least meaningful. In the historical struggle to which we are committed, Stalinism deploys enormous forces, and the one thing we cannot afford to do is to abandon our interests and values in order to convert, through an aesthetic sleight of hand, the tragic struggle into a show of pure politics, a show in which Stalin inevitably appears as the star-performer. Pure politics, like pure art, is a delusion. The committed man, that is the man who has accepted the hazards of his political existence, can no more attend such a show than he can attend his own funeral. We think that is good enough for the time being. Time will permit a fuller portrait of the hangman of the Russian Revolution. It will assess his true role and fully, too. But we can see the outlines of that role now. Stalin will be seen as the architect of a new society of reaction, a society that was the expression of the social barbarism of our times. It will record that in the twentieth century of mans development he introduced a new industrial slave society under a totalitarian police regime. He did so in the name of freedom and socialism, by the physical annihilation of a party which gave him fame and of men who made possible his political career. He was helped to success by methods which have their origins in earlier and backward societies, using cruelty with modern weapons and the employment of psychology to turn against man out of a burning inferiority which drove him to triumph with unparalleled force, cunning and duplicity. He has enriched the history of mans malevolence as he has filled its pages with the blood of countless thousands. If this is greatness in the grand style it is the greatness of barbarism, the greatness of social decline, of disintegration, of chaos. Compared to the struggle of mankind to rise above its present peaks of achievement to loftier ones, freedom and progress Stalins contributions to history are those of retrogression, as a mockery of mans highest aspirations.

Letters
Miloevi on Trial Dear Editor Reading Mike Jones article The Trial of Slobodan Miloevi (New Interventions, Volume 11, no 1), my reactions were almost equally ones of shock and disgust. Just how could it be, I asked myself, that anyone of the left could put their name to an attempt to portray the butcher Miloevi as some kind of victim of Western imperialism? I am aware that among Marxists it is possible (even today) to find those who apologise for the crimes of Stalinism on the specious grounds that the Soviet Union was some kind of anti-capitalist or workers state. But I had no idea that a similar logic would be employed to exculpate Miloevi from his war crimes on the equally spurious grounds that there was something progressive in the Yugoslav state. Of course Western capitalist governments have been deeply complicit in the past for covering up Miloevis crimes including a systematic attempt to minimise his responsibility for the war crimes committed by the Serb nationalists against Croats and

71

especially against Muslims and others in multi-ethnic Bosnia. The ironic thing is that I remember nearly 40 years ago when seeking contacts between the International Socialists in Britain and the semi-underground, left dissident Praxis group in Belgrade that Bosnia was then regarded by the left as about the only genuinely Yugoslav part of that state, in the sense of being multi-national and multi-ethnic. Indeed when that group split and some joined Miloevi, the lefts warned that Belgrade would spearhead a genocidal war of nationalist expansion once the Yugoslav regime collapsed because of its internal contradictions. These comrades were proved 100 per cent correct. It is also the case that the exCommunist Miloevi was quite capable of launching a war against the Croats in eastern Slavonia and elsewhere while, simultaneously, plotting with Franjo Tudjman, the Croat leader (former CP apparatchik who became leader of the far right, ultra-nationalist, neo-Ustashe HCJ) to destroy Bosnia and split its territory between Belgrade and Zagreb. Mike Jones seems to have no knowledge of the systematic crimes of ethnic cleansing culminating with Srebrenica instigated by Miloevi with Karadzi and Mladi committed against the Bosnians. Incidentally the Bosniak forces were in many cases led by Serb (Orthodox), Croat (Catholic) and Jewish commanders fighting alongside their Muslim brothers. Ignorance on this scale is criminal. There is not the slightest truth to the charge that Miloevi has been denied full legal support. He has systematically refused all offers of legal aid. As to Kosova, Jones happily repeats the Serb Chetniks slurs against the Albanian (overwhelming) majority of the Kosovar population as being led by mere criminals and bandits. The fact is that (in common with many Serb and Croat nationalist in the old Yugoslav regime) Miloevi always refused the Kosovars recognition as a nation with national rights. Indeed they even refused the Kosova Albanians national section status within the old Yugoslav CP. Perhaps that made it easier for Miloevi to make the transition from Titoite to ultra-nationalist leader after he came to power in Serbia. After all he appointed Vojislav eelj (the Serb far right leader) as his deputy. And he worked for years with openly, paramilitary fascists such as the notorious war criminal, the fortunately late, Arkan. To get an idea of the pre-planned nature of the ethnic cleansing genocide just remember what deputy prime minister eelj said in 1995, long before Nato took any interest in Kosova, see the extract from his speech to his party congress in which he spells out a strategy for the systematic and violent expulsion of the Albanian Kosovars from their country: Reorganization of the state: To reorganize the state and change the current federation and territorial autonomies because these autonomies have proven to be fatal to the Serb people. The best solution would be to design a single state that would include in it the Serb Republic of Krajina, the Republika Srpska, the Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro. The Serb state would have one president, a single parliament, a single government, while regions would be mediators between the local administrations and the the central government The abolition of the existing autonomy of Kosova and Metohija by which a fatal disparity was created in Serbia and provided for the Albanians a basis to demand secession is the core element in accomplishing the Serb national issue. The Serb people now carrying out a demanding struggle for the unification of all Serb lands must consider as its foremost priority the keeping of all territories

72

within Serb borders. The complete inclusion of Kosova and Metohija into a unique Serb state is an internal matter, and it must be resolved as such and without outside arbitration by the so-called international community It is very necessary that the federal parliament urgently adopts the law on citizenship. The law would define the number of Albanian immigrants and their predecessors, who have in an illegal way over the period 1941-87 acquired property and other estates no one could ever achieve in any other country. There are around 400 000 such foreigners in Yugoslavia today, Such a law would prevent them from living any longer in our state. Similar standards should be applied to all citizens of the seceded republics, unless they are of Serb nationality, and to all minorities who refuse to accept citizenship in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Some 400 000 refugees from seceded Yugoslav republics could be settled in their stead, a legitimate act of the regime. Two rules should be applied in eliminating the immigrants: those who have been proven to be extremists will be immediately expelled, while others must possess the proper documents, the most important being the citizenship certificate, something none of them of course has. This fatherland certificate must have on its cover page the Serb coat of arms: the white double-headed eagle of the Nemanjis, and the crest with four Cyrillic Ss. The failure to possess this paper would be the basis for expulsion. The repatriation of Albanians temporarily working in foreign countries must be prevented, especially those who left during the 1990-93 period (it is estimated that they number some 300 000). Employment should be denied to people of certain vocations which would compel them to leave the country. Albanians are in this respect very adept on the one hand because they have supporters in many countries, and on the other it fits their mentality to live in other countries. Such measures would first and foremost affect the educated portion of their population, so that the rest could be easily manipulated and not be able to organize resistance. (A statement by Serb Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav eelj in Velika Serbija, The Greater Serbia Journal, Belgrade, 14 October 1995) Miloevi is lucky to be in The Hague and not to have been strung up from a lamppost by the Serb, Bosniak, Croat, Kosovar peoples. The Hague Tribunal already has in front of it both Serb and Croat indicted war criminals as well as a few very Muslims accused of excesses. The Hague Tribunal has led directly to the creation of the International Criminal Court which the United States and Israel among other states are bitterly opposed to. Bloody good grounds for the left to give their backing to the ICC and to demand that one day all war criminals including those in Israel and the US find their way to a neighbouring cell to Slobodan Miloevi. John Palmer Mike Jones replies From both the tone and content, including the inaccuracies, I am forced to conclude that John Palmer, once Brussels correspondent of the Guardian and now working in some capacity for the European Union, so I am told, drafted his letter either during or after a heavy lunch, which caused him to become, as Private Eye used to put it, tired and emotional. As well as suffering shock and disgust, I can imagine him throwing-up over my article in New Interventions on the Miloevi trial .

73

My first article on Natos war on Yugoslavia appeared in New Interventions, Volume 9, no 2 (Spring 1999), and others have appeared regularly since then. Previously, I had written about the events in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, etc, and, in my opinion, I have presented a consistent picture based on what I see as a class outlook, opposing all the reactionary nationalisms, including the assorted rascals, blackmarketeers and plain gangsters, either heading up or affiliated to the respective parties, as well as the intervention of various imperialist powers, a number of which were actively promoting the break-up of Yugoslavia. To give a full reply to Palmer would require a major article that would only repeat much of what has already appeared, so readers can consult older issues of New Interventions. It is Yugoslavia that I portray as a victim of Western imperialism, not exPresident Miloevi. My point is that he is being set up as being responsible for all the blood-letting during the break-up, whereas he is only one of those responsible, but at the same time Nato, various imperialist powers, those who backed, trained and armed, or otherwise encouraged the protagonists involved in the attempts to carve out territory to help create some dubious nation state the major peoples that made up Yugoslavia are intermingled, and 26 minorities were recognised which exist in various regions are seeking by means of the show trial to absolve themselves of any blame, as well as justify post factum the Nato aggression which was illegal according to international law. Miloevi has been denied the right to consult in private with his legal advisors. That was reported at the time, and comments were made that such an act tainted the tribunal. He himself in his submission of 9 August 2001, protested at insufficient time for consultation and the lack of essential documents. In other words, he was denied what is considered normal procedure in countries where the rule of law prevails. Here in Britain we saw lots of examples of miscarriages of justice not to mention direct frame-ups when the police did not hand over evidence that would have helped the defence. During the campaign against the Poll Tax, we saw the public refused entrance to the courts, MacKenzies Friends banned, the procedure streamlined so that it was impossible to argue a case, one had to answer yes or no to five questions, people were wrongfully gaoled, and bailiffs were often a law unto themselves. At the time, I thought it scandalous the way poor people were being treated and hardly anyone would speak out. Yet we fought on, and helped by some campaigning solicitors we got our rights and were able to win cases, relieve debts, release gaoled disabled war veterans, indebted single-parents, etc. Legal Aid and trial by jury is under attack. The powerful always try to restrict the ability of their victims to defend themselves. As someone who used to pass himself off as a Marxist, Palmer has a touching faith, not only in bourgeois justice, but in a tribunal cobbled together by imperialism, and he thinks that the left ought to support the new ICC. It would have been better had a trial been undertaken in Yugoslavia, with all proper procedures upheld. I do not lose sleep over the fate of Miloevi, but merely reject the impartiality of the Hague Tribunal. Palmer invents a logic whereby I exculpate Miloevi from his war crimes because I supposedly see something progressive in the Yugoslav state. What used to be progressive about the Yugoslav state was its unification of most of the South Slavs in one state, and the attempt to seek a non-capitalist development. For centuries prior to its establishment, imperialist powers had played off the Balkan peoples against each other, and a return to a series of small states can only be in the interests of the new rulers and whatever imperialism they link up with. German Foreign Minister

74

Genscher and Austrian Chancellor Vranitzky encouraged the break-up, surely not for philanthropic reasons, as Austrias discrimination against its Slovenes was known, and German penetration of Eastern Europe has taken off since then. In Marcus Tanners Croatia: A Nation Forged in War (London, 1997), he writes: If Slovenia were to leave Yugoslavia, there would be no question of Croatia staying. But if Slovenia and Croatia were to leave, Gligorov and Izetbegovi had made it clear that Bosnia and Macedonia would not remain. And if Croatia and Bosnia were to leave, Miloevi, Babi and Karadzi had made it clear there was no question of those republics taking their Serb minorities with them. (pp239-40) In other words, it was clear that a break-up based merely on existing borders of the republics would result in war. The other Western powers, none more so than the then George Bush US regime, firmly opposed a break-up. Once it became a fact and war was underway, the new Clinton regime adopted a different policy. Just as with the case of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, Cold Warrior intellectuals drafted new policies to promote US interests in the new situation of US supreme power. The US was sabotaging EC and UN attempts at resolving the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia. In Kosovo, in response to the cancellation of its autonomy, it was the UK that began murdering Serbs. That was met with a heavy-handed and arbitrary response as described by Paddy Ashdown. The OSCE intervention reduced the violence, and 80 per cent of the cease-fire violations between October 1998 and February 1999 were down to the UK. It needed the heavy-handed reprisals in order to get support both internally and from outside. The Raak Massacre was fabricated, the Rambouillet Accords were at first acceptable to Belgrade so further demands were added that no self-respecting government could accept, so the bombing began. US policy required a Serbian regime that would not stand in the way of its expansion in the region. In recent years, Nato has expanded eastwards, US bases exist in a series of ex-Soviet states and are to be set up in Romania and Bulgaria too. Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo has a permanent look about it, while during the inter-ethnic fighting in Macedonia, it emerged that the US was both advising the official armed forces and the Albanian terrorists, largely led by ex-UK commanders on leave from the Kosovo Protection Corps. One is forced to conclude from all this that war is a continuation of policy by other means, as von Clausewitz put it. Palmer describes me as ignorant to a criminal degree. I seem to have no knowledge of the systematic crimes of ethnic cleansing culminating in Srebrenica, etc. Does he think I was asleep during these events? In fact, I wrote the Editorial Note entitled Bosnia in New Interventions, Volume 4, no 2 (July 1993), and a big article dated 7 November 1995, that did not appear in New Interventions and was instead taken for a short-lived organ put out by some comrades around Revolutionary History. Only sections of it were used, I was told, but I never saw a copy so have no idea if the section I refer to was. However, I wrote: It appears that thousands of BiH troops from Srebrenica have been executed by Serb units, and we must demand an enquiry I pointed out that The Times on 1 August 1995 asked why did Srebrenica fall, as only about 200 soldiers and five tanks had attacked the Srebrenica perimeter. It saw it as a strategic ploy by the Sarajevo government, and in its edition for 2 August 1995 said that the Red Cross had reported thousands of missing BiH
75

troops hidden away near Tuzla without their families knowing, etc. Naser Ori, the Srebrenica commander recently indicted for war-crimes had been called to Tuzla for consultation and was kept back. Ori was accused of responsibility for the deaths of over 1000 Serb civilians in the villages around the town before the Serbs attacked it in 1995 (see the letter from Ivan Avacunovi in the Times Literary Supplement, 30 October 1998). According to Robert Blocks (Muslim Robin Hood, Independent, 13 July 1995), Ori was known to Bosnian Serbs as the beast of eastern Bosnia, and was the most despised officer in the BiH army. Of course, whatever Ori and his troops had done cannot excuse the execution of prisoners of war. My point at the time was that it looked as if Srebrenica had been sacrificed, thousands had been murdered, but it was unclear precisely how many as Srebrenica was being used to draw in outside intervention on the side of the Muslim government, which was the implication in the reports in The Times. Marcus Tanner writes that the Serb offensive encountered no resistance, and that between 4000 and 8000 were never accounted for (Croatia, p295). An impartial enquiry would be able to determine not just the number of those murdered but why it had been allowed to take place. One cannot just blame the Dutch UN troops. Know-all Palmer describes Franjo Tudjman as leading the far right, ultranationalist, neo-Ustashe HCJ. Tudjman led, not the HCJ, but the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), a nationalist party, that in fact had two wings, with Tudjman balancing in the middle, leaning now on its liberal wing (Stipe Mesi represented this wing, a man with good liberal credentials), now on its right wing, the Herzegovinian Lobby (people not from Croatia, often returned exiles with Ustashefriendly pasts, who could provide both finance and influence in the USA, for example). Tudjman had long been a nationalist, had portrayed the wartime Ustashe-led independent republic as a legitimate striving for Croatian statehood, and was accused of anti-Semitic sentiments in his book, but he was not a part of the HDZ right wing nor a Ustashe, as Serb nationalists described him. Miloevi could do business with him because he himself had no ideology, but was merely interested in power. Nationalism was merely a tool. He did not make a transition from Titoite to ultranationalist, as Palmer puts it, as he was an apparatchik, banker, manager, etc, from the postwar generation, unlike Tudjman, who had partly made the transition. He could do business with Vojislav eelj, and even Arkan (eljko Ranatovi), precisely because he had no ideology. These criminals and thugs carried out war crimes, but their aims were not the official ones. Perhaps some in authority turned a blind eye to their deeds, maybe Miloevi did an impartial trial could determine that. I do not repeat Chetnik slurs about the Albanian Kosovars being led by mere criminals and bandits. Certainly not Rugovas party, but in the case of the UK it was under observance by a number of European police forces prior to Natos war for drug-dealing, human-trafficking, etc (see Jim Riddles item in New Interventions, Volume 10, no 1, Summer 2000), and its involvement increased after the war. The following quote from Hansard, 27 March 2001, columns 822-3, with Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary at the time, replying to questions on Kosovo, Macedonia, etc, is pertinent. Replying to a question from Peter Diggers MP during the discussion on Macedonia on 27 March 2001 on the amazingly high level of criminality, Cook said that tackling organised crime in Kosovo and the wider region was a high priority, hence the dispatch of a police contingent. He continues: The tragedy is that organised crime in the region and the drugs trade have a close overlap with the terrorist extremists whom we have seen in action in the past week. Cook was talking about

76

the Macedonian Albanian terrorists, but he must have been aware that they were animated by the UK in Kosovo, just as, in their time, were those operating in the Preevo Valley in southern Serbia. These gangsters were used by imperialism to achieve its aims in ex-Yugoslavia, just as similar types of gangsters and war-lords were used in Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. Parts of the left, even would-be Marxists, were duped into seeing Albanian gangsters as a liberation movement.

77