of Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America)
Volume 1, Issue 4; April-May 2003 $1.00
L L I A N C E ! A Revolutionary Communist
Continuing Opposition to an Unjust
On Saturday 22nd March, central London was once again
the focus of a huge anti-war demonstration while in many other cities up
and down the United Kingdom thousands more expressed their opposition to
intervention in Iraq through marches, leafleting and sit down protests.
Although arranged at very short notice, according to ‘official’ estimates
the London event attracted some 200 000 marchers (half the organisers’
estimate). This may have been fewer than the million who turned out a few
weeks earlier, but nevertheless was a very significant event for the capital.
Many of those politicians, church leaders, journalists and others who had
previously been against the war changed their tune after the outbreak of
hostilities on the flimsy grounds that since ‘our’ troops were now engaged
in fighting, they deserved support. This argument carries about as much
moral force as when having failed to persuade a known felon from committing
a criminal act, they are then offered every assistance!
By Thom Wakely (Special to ALLIANCE!)
Our ‘leaders’ appear to subscribe to the Hermann
Goering school of political science, for as the nazi bigwig
remarked, “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked,
and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country
to danger. It works the same in any country”. Fear of being stigmatised
as ‘unpatriotic’ has undoubtedly cowed many into remaining silent, although
for countless others the experience of a prime minister going against his
own party and ignoring the biggest ever public demonstrations of opposition
to US imperialist warmongering has been a salutary experience.
In fact, Blair has taken an enormous political gamble and there are
signs that he may be punished by the electorate at the next opportunity.
This will depend, however, on the progress of the war. Unease in ruling
circles has been reflected by government resignations, most notably that
of Robin Cook, former Foreign Secretary
and more recently ‘father of the house’ of Commons. In his resignation
speech Cook relentlessly exposed the weaknesses in the justification of
Blair’s call to arms and highlighted the mutually contradictory need to
disarm Saddam before he used his weapons of mass destruction, and the need
to depose him before he had the opportunity of building up an arsenal that
would pose a threat to any invading armies. Unlike Cook, Clare
Short the Development Secretary has become famous for not resigning.
Having publicly attacked the prime minister in a radio interview as ‘reckless’
in his pursuit of war over a diplomatic solution she was widely expected
to be dismissed from the cabinet or to resign. In fact, she kept her post
while declaring (incongruously) that ‘she had to do what is right’, claiming
for her department the honour of rebuilding Iraq when the devastation is
This unlikely scenario (based no doubt on
delusions of grandeur as well as the need to apply sticking plaster to
the increasingly fragmented Labour Party), ignores the fact the US has
already parcelled out contracts for post-war construction projects to its
own companies and barred UK businesses from competing. Of course, for capitalists,
one’s own business interests count beyond any spurious ‘loyalties’ and
in this respect Britain is as guilty as anyone else. For example, on March
the 6th the front page story in The Guardian newspaper revealed that a
chemical plant identified by the US as a key component of Iraq’s chemical
warfare arsenal (producing mustard and nerve gas) was built by a British
company with the full backing of the then Tory government. Knowing that
it would be used for producing chemical weapons, details of the deal were
kept quiet from both the US government and the British public. This action
was justified by trade minister Paul Channon on the grounds that “a ban
would do our other trade prospects in Iraq no good”. No doubt such honesty
about motivation puts our current government to shame.
Meanwhile, the propaganda machine has spluttered
into life and is now at full throttle with hour by hour coverage of ‘our
brave lads’ up against the dastardly Iraqis. Not only have the latter had
the effrontery to fight back, but even worse they have eschewed pitched
desert battles in favour of guerrilla tactics within the towns and cities.
What more proof of cowardice is needed, except that some are not even wearing
military uniforms! A failure of the civilian population to rise up and
welcome US and UK troops as liberators has sounded alarm bells among many
commentators. The possibility that being abandoned to their fate after
the Gulf war and then subjected to years of punishment through UN sanctions
means that ordinary Iraqis no longer trust western nations is barely considered.
Who knows, they may even see being invaded as more loathsome than the Saddam
regime? At the same time, the staggering hypocrisy of George Bush and his
cronies draws little comment. For example, while the Iraqis are denounced
for showing American prisoners of war on television (‘humiliating’ and
therefore contrary to the Geneva Convention) the captives from the war
in Afghanistan still languish in their wire cages on Cuba more than a year
after their incarceration, apparently in some permanent limbo of US making.
Of course Marxist-Leninists do not support ‘our
boys’ and oppose this war as unjust.
The armed forces together with the police and the
security services represent the key organs of the state - the machinery
of force by which one social class rules over the rest of the people. These
are ‘key’ organs because in politics the key issue is always physical
power and it is these three organs that possess physical power in the state.
Furthermore, the heads of the armed forces and security forces are drawn
from members of the ruling class, and in Britain constitutionally owe allegiance
not to the people, or the House of Commons, but to the Queen. ‘Parliamentary
democracy’ itself is no more than the façade which conceals the
real character of the state as machinery which embodies the dictatorship
of the capitalist class. The aim of Marxist-Leninists is to smash the bourgeois
state and replace it with the machinery of the class rule of the workers
– the dictatorship of the proletariat.
While unlike pacifists, Marxist-Leninists do not
oppose all wars, they distinguish between just and unjust wars. This distinction
is made by analysing the effect that the victory of each belligerent in
a war would have on the development of society. If its victory would exert
a progressive (i.e. helping forwards) influence on the development of society,
that belligerent is fighting a just war. If its victory would exert a reactionary
(i.e. holding back) influence upon the development of society, that belligerent
is fighting an unjust war. Since the dominant feature of the contemporary
world is imperialism, monopoly capitalism, a non-imperialist state of any
kind (such as Iraq) which is involved in war with an imperialist state
is fighting a just war, as its war effort weakens world imperialism, while
the imperialist belligerent state (USA/Britain) is fighting an unjust war,
since its war effort strengthens world imperialism.
Therefore, even though Marxist-Leninists oppose
the corrupt, oppressive and anti-working class Baathist regime in Iraq,
the current war is an unjust war on the part of the coalition powers and
a just war on the part of Iraq. The way to show support for ‘our troops’
(that is to say the majority comprised of ‘proletarians in uniform’) is
to bring them home now, and stop the fighting. However, even if this does
not happen and the invading forces win a military victory (by no means
certain at this time) the peoples of the world will once again have seen
the rapaciousness of US imperialism and its junior partner, and cannot
fail to learn the lesson that the fig leaf of concern for democratic rights
serves only to conceal a lust for oil, profit and world domination.