Indochina and Anarchists

The following letter was sent to us by Mit-Teilung (London), in whose No. 22 (October '75) issue it appeared. Our reply doesn't represent our last word on the subject (especially on "Nationalism," about which we'll be writing more later.) We hope that readers (G. J. included) will send us their comments and criticism.

A letter....

I too noted the comments in LIBERO INT'L No. 2, re. Marxism-Leninism and Asia. Those Japanese & English intellectuals write a good magazine, extremely good, But they are not workers and have not learned the bloody lessons of Anarchist History since 1917.

It is one thing to recognize that the Marxist-Leninists are the major revolutionary force in Asia (with excellent cadre, Moscow gold, and weaponry from China, USSR & Czechoslovakia). This necessitates "tactical" considerations. But it is quite another to become Anarcho-Bolshevists, as so many Russian Anarchist TRAITORS did.

It is crass stupidity to write "... just as the Russian anarchists initially supported the Bolsheviks. When they begin to turn the revolution back on itself, however, as the Bolsheviks did, they must be attacked and exposed without fail ..."

What goddam shit! The most foolish, suicidal thing the Russian and Ukrainian Anarchists did was to ally - for one minute even - with the Bolsheviks - who turned and butchered, massacred, exterminated 1/4 million Anarchists and peasant supporters. The Bolsheviks were counter-revolutionary from day one, so are the Marxist-Len inists: What of the 1945 massacre in Saigon? The extermination of the Viet Trots? The murder of 10,000 Red River peasants in 1956...? What of the Chinese "terrorists," anarchists, in labour camps in the "People's Republic?" The Army crushing of worker revolts in Shanghai and Canton? The mass-murder of Inner Mongolians and Uighur Moslems ... ?

"Attacks and exposes without fail." What shit! From where? The security of Tokyo? When the Commies take power, there's no time to "attack" and "expose"! You are jailed or shot. Ask the Bulgarian Anarchists about that one. It is one thing to recognize cultural & regional needs, desires, demands for independence. But to support nationalism - the nation State - that is not Anarchism. Nor is Anarcho-Bolshevism.

Yes, we know that the Communists will seize most of Asia. That is in the cards. But if the Revolutionary and non-communist forces fight hard, we can establish our own bases - as Makhno in the S. Ukraine. But, as with Makhno, it is suicide to ally or allow entry to communists. Co-oridinate, yes! Alliance, no! We are always devoured in that position....

If others can organize, so can we. Otherwise, give up the farce! I support more the position of the Augustin Miura in Libertaire No. 8. 1 support East-Asia Anti-Japanese -even though some Marxism, basically libertarian. No support for authoritarian Red Army concept or for the concept of the Japan Anarchist Communist Party 1934-35.

Help protect jailed, yes! But no public alliance with ideology.

I don't think you've the authority to say that Libero Int'l represents the Japanese Anarchist movement. Libertaire and Idea Publishing represent larger groupings.

G. J. Toronto

... And a reply

The problem with all, anarchist critiques that we have seen of Indochinese and other Bolshevik dictatorships - including both G.J.'s letter and our own original editorial - is that they rarely amount to realistic, down-to-earth practical ones. It seems a contradiction to accept, on the one hand, the existence of cultural needs, customs, desires and so on, while ignoring the effect which these might have on the regimes set up in response. The point is: though the "communist" regimes have been more or less uniform in their treatment of those whose ideas fall outside the straight and narrow, it isn't enough to dismiss them as being all of a piece. To do so is to resurrect the McCarthyite demon of "monolithic communism." Before we can begin to adopt a definitive position, we must know why such a regime emerged in a given place; what it depends on for its existence; who (doesn't) support it and why (not).

Our "critical support" for "marxist liberation movements in Asia today" was too broadly phrased and is, justly, the object of G.J.'s condemnation. Actually, our "critical support" was meant in the Indochinese context, where, in the face of the most colossal imperial intervention imagineable, such movements succeeded - and could only have succeeded - because the vast majority of the Indochinese peasants wanted them to. We did not say that a Marx-Leninist triumph would usher in freedom. All the same, the image of a million sweating peasants, with enemy swords at their throats and NLF guns at their backs, is by-and-large a CIA fiction.

In other words, the problem really boiled down to one of utter social and enviromnental dislocation wrought by an imperial power gone mad. While we offered no constructive suggestions for the future, we did at least say that a libertarian outcome to the war was out of the question. The possibility of an Indochina promising its people social justice and individual freedom was the fir st casualty of Amerikan intervention, the most savage in history. One wonders how G,J.'s "bases" would have fared under a blanket of napalm. What few choices there had been in pre-war Indochina were reduced by the war to a bare alternative: death, destruction and colonial slavery under Amerika and its Saigon lackeys; or national independence and collective self-reliance under the communists. The "Third Force," which had no program beyond the vague promise of "democracy," was thus forced to the sidelines as the battle for the "hearts and minds" of the people degenerated into a test of brute strength. In other words, there was no choice -and no revolution - Amerikan bombs rained down. We repeat the need to comprehend the impact on Asian people of 100 years' imperialist control.

"But to support nationalism - the nation State - that is not Anarchism." Hold it! We never equated nationalism with the state, nor did we ever suggest any kind of support for the nation-state, let alone the alleged "alliance with ideology" (whatever that means). The nation-state concept was undoubtedly played up by the communists, just as it was by Thieu and a 'he other puppets, but the communists didn't invent nationalism. It was a natural result of imperialist repression and colonial strangulation. The Indochinese communists, like the Chinese and others before them, succeeded because they responded to powerful popular emotions, and comprehended that the essential first step to the regaining by the people of control over their lives was the riddance of the outside aggressor.

There is a time, events have shown, when the national revolution runs parallel to the class struggle. As in China, so in Vietnam. This phase lasts only until the foreign rulers are thrown out and the native people find a home-grown government telling them what to do. They will in all probability find that national independence, once won, is a life-crushing burden. From this point on, nationalism works only to the benefit of the rulers. To keep nationalism alive, the rulers must then invent a foreign threat (as in China - first Amerika, now Russia), or else exploit the fear of internal subversion financed from abroad (as in South Vietnam now). What we should be doing a propos of Indochina is attacking the communists for blinding popular aspirations to independence with the concept of nation-state independence, instead of complaining what a hard time we anarchists would have.

In the sense that the peasants of Indochina still till their fields and the workers work their lathes in the interest of some distant master, the revolution there has certainly been set back further. But now is not the time to expect any broad resistance. Resistance there will be, undoubtedly, but not until the people have enough occasion to discover the true meaning of "people" as used in Leninist parlance. Only then can we expect to see anything like a restaging of the revolt in China, where the workers finally saw through their masters' deceit and the betrayal of the revolution in their name.

Having in mind the kind of "resistance" that can be expected now - backdoor financing by the U.S. - therefore we spoke of "critical support." Indochina is in far more danger from that quarter than the Soviets were in 1918, for the CIA can and does act without our knowledge. (To take just one example, how are we to regard the stories of mass starvation in Saigon? Are they true, or just another CIA fabrication off the AP wire in Bangkok?) CIA de-stabilization is intended to prepare public opinion for any counter-revolutions to come by creating the fiction that the new governments have no control and no support.

We "have not learned from the bloody lessons of Anarchist history since 1917." Name a decade since then, and you will find libertarian sacrifices to the god of power. How long must we go on learning the lessons before we become the teachers? How much blood do we have? What is going to be our strategy? The time is past for tactics.

The Russian anarchists did not commit "suicide." Without historical precedents to go by, they fell for the Bolsheviks' deceits - as did many others, erstwhile Bolsheviks not excepted. This is the lesson, and it is the anarchists who must be the teachers. For we do have precedents to rely on. We expect the present-day Bolsheviks to trample on the revolution - it is in their authoritarian nature! So, where their victory is inevitable, we wait for it, denounce and expose it. But it is only the people themselves who will judge - and act!

How is that only libertarians appear to know about the 1945 massacre in Saigon... the murder of 10,000 Red River peasants in 1956... the Chinese anarchists in labor camps... the mass murder of Inner Mongolians and Uighur Moslems to say nothing of Kronstadt and similar atrocities? How do we - the "Revolutionary and non-communist forces" - face up to this challenge? Or are the anarchists just going to inherit the earth some fine day when the sole wears down on the last fascist jackboot? Long before then, it will have been too late!

We must make the facts known. It is not enough to simply take a doctrinaire position and wait for events to prove its correctness. It is essential, for one thing, to begin the systematic documentation of the bloody history of Marx-Leninist movements throughout the world since 1917 - to take it out of the realm of anarchist propaganda and so perform a service to the overall revolutionary movement.

One way we don't think the anarchist revolution will be brought any closer is through writing the kind of letters that G.J. does. We don't make any excuses for our choice of words - rabid accusations of "anarcho-bolshevism," of being "traitors" (a funny one, that), and denunciations of "intellectuals" (a false Marxist/ bourgeois category anyway), are some indication of what can be unleashed by it. This kind of fratricidal conflict is best left to the Trots, who, after all, are so much better at it. Indochina has already presented-and will continue to present-anarchists with any number of very challenging problems. These cannot be painted all black or all white, as some would prefer- nor will they be solved by frenetic namecalling in third-party papers.

Another way we don't think the libertarian millenium will be brought any closer is by looking on any group, anarchist or otherwise, as representing anyone other than itself. We don't pretend to represent the anarchist movement in Japan, nor did it ever occur to us that we might be taken to do so. The aims of Libero Int'l are set out quite clearly in issue No. I for all to see. Even as we write these lines debate over the issues presented by the Indochinese victories over Amerikan imperialism continues to rage within Japanese anarchist circles, and we doubt whether G.J.'s facile assertion that one particular group's view is "representative" would be taken seriously by anarchists in Japan.

Comrades who would like to make contact with other groups within the Japanese anarchist movement might like to to write to Augustin Miura of the 'Libertaire' group, whose English is very good. The address is:

Augustin Miura, 7-4-60, Yachiyodai-kita. Yachiyo-shi, Chiba, Japan