Libertarian/council communist group Subversion argue against support for either side in the Gulf War.
Gang warfare in the Gulf
THERE ARE TWO GULFS currently looming before the working class. One is the geographical gulf which threatens to be the centre of an immense killing ground, whose dry sands will drink the blood of vast numbers of working class people sent, as ever, to die in the name of an illusion. The other is the great gulf between reality and the aforementioned illusion, or illusions, for the gangsters who rule the world, and fight among themselves like vampires vying over our blood, our sweat, our life-energy present us with a choice.
Firstly, there is the view which emanates from America and its allies, which requires us to believe that the forces they have sent to the Gulf are the upholders of civilization and righteousness against one who has suddenly revealed himself as a shameless outlaw, a new Hitler who must be stopped in the name of all that is right and proper.
Secondly, the view which keens its siren song into the ears of many Arab workers, to the effect that Saddam Hussein is leading a glorious war of resurgence of the Arab Nation against Western Imperialism, after whose defeat everything will be just fine.
And thirdly, the Leftist echo of the previous view, which holds that Imperialism is far more iniquitous than plain ordinary capitalism and anyone who, in the hallucinations of the Leftists, is fighting against it should be supported, and anyway, all "nations" have a "right" to "self-determination". The above views all have variations, adding to the richness of our choice.
GANGSTERS FALL OUT
The reality is that ALL the participants in this conflict are a vile bunch of thieves and gangsters who have fallen out over the spoils of their exploitation of us, the working class. The notion that we who are the victims of these Al Capones, these Legs Diamonds, these Corleones writ large who are the rulers of the nations of the world should take sides with any of them is the very pinnacle of idiocy.
These gangsters, however, as we have already intimated, are skilled in the construction of fantastic tapestries of illusion which they substitute for reality in the minds of all of us who have not yet learned to see them for what they are. But the ghostly fingers that tugged at us in a darkened room stand revealed as filthy cobwebs once the light is switched on.
THE REALITY BEHIND THE SPECTACLE
Let us look in more detail at these lies. It is not, perhaps, necessary to spend too much time on the Western view (shared also by what was the Eastern Bloc, now). The foul hypocrisy of those who staunchly supported Saddam Hussein and his regime for years and scarcely blinked at the latter's genocide in Halabja, for instance, only "discovering" Hitlerian tendencies when the growing world economic crisis threw former friends at each other's throats in the scramble for a dwindling "take", will be starkly obvious to those who have seen through right-wing capitalist lies. But capitalism has more than one string to its bow - the left-wing of capitalism even pretends not to be capitalism.
We will discuss the lies of the nationalist third-world bourgeoisie and those of the Leftist together for, as we have said, the latter are merely the junior partners of the former in most things.
IMPERIALISM OR CAPITALISM?
A whole plethora of governments, movements and grouplets, from the Iraqi government to the most radical of the Trotskyist sects, implores us to "oppose Imperialism" and support Iraq, (although some of them are more coy about that latter part). What then is Imperialism? This is a word which has been defined in many ways, but its main use, for the champions of the Third World, is simply this: If you don't want to oppose capitalism as a whole, if you want to distinguish between "good" capitalists and "bad" capitalists and only oppose the latter, you need some other term under which to group together the people you are opposing. Hence, the larger, dominant powers who are the major block to the aggrandizement of the weaker capitalist powers, are called "Imperialists" and the said weaker capitalist powers are alleged to be "fighting Imperialism" when conflict occurs.
This "anti-Imperialism" will usually incorporate an economic analysis of the world as it was nearly a hundred years ago, as though nothing has changed. It was at that time that the Leftists created this "theory of anti-Imperialism" which survives even today.
THE OPPORTUNIST THEORY OF ANTI-IMPERIALISM
These Leftists were groups such as the Bolsheviks, whose political programs, despite any radical phraseology they might contain, consisted in constructing State-Capitalism. Their target areas were the relatively advanced industrial countries, and the adversaries which stood in their path were the existing rulers of those countries - rulers who also had other enemies. One such enemy was the emerging nationalisms which were starting flex their muscles in what were then mainly colonies. Thus, the Leftist concept of "anti-Imperialism" arose as an opportunist attempt at alliance between various weak capitalist forces against a stronger one.
THE "RIGHT" OF "NATIONS" TO "SELF-DETERMINATION"
This is a concept the Leftists always take refuge in if all else fails. But what does it really mean? A "nation" is an involuntary union of antagonistic classes - the capitalist class and the working class - the former exploiting and oppressing the latter. The idea that they are a single unit with a single will, a single interest, the idea that they are a single "self" which can have "self-determination", is surely the cleverest fraud that the capitalists have ever devised to make workers forget their own class interests and support the class which oppresses them.
Some Leftists will even admit that nationalism doesn't benefit workers but say they have a "right" even if you don't agree with it. Perhaps we should then spend time and energy advocating the "right" of workers to demand longer hours and lower wages? We can treat this "brilliant concept" with the contempt it deserves.
A REVOLUTIONARY ANTI-IMPERIALISM
Is there, then, such a thing as Imperialism? Can the working class make use of such a term? This is a very moot point, but we can say that Imperialism, if it means anything real, is simply the inevitable conflict for resources and markets that capitalism powers must engage in when the world has reached a certain stage of historical development. The weaker powers' attempts to resist domination by the stronger ones is aimed at replacing them as dominant powers, not in "defeating Imperialism". The weaker powers are part of what is today an integrated capitalist world - they do thus not stand outside Imperialism but are part of it. Their conflict with the major powers is no more "anti-Imperialist" than the challenge which a young stag mounts against the leader of the herd is aimed at eliminating the system of hierarchy which the nature of such animals entails.
Thus all countries in the world are Imperialist. The term anti-Imperialism is therefore meaningless if used for anything but anti-capitalism.
THE STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALISM
The working class has no interest whatsoever in aiding any of the factions within the class that is its enemy. Our class must resolutely oppose all the world's states, all the parties, movements and groups which represent one form or other of capitalism. For all the squabbling that takes place between them, they are all heads of the same hydra.
The interest of workers throughout the world lies in overthrowing capitalism and creating a classless society without national boundaries, without wage labour, markets and money, where Humanity produces for its own needs, based on free and equal access for all. Such a society is possible. The struggle to achieve it starts now. Oppose war, in the Gulf or anywhere, intensify class struggle, no war but the class war