The Right of Nations to Self Determination

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Pengwern
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Oct 23 2011 10:51
Noa Rodman wrote:
Fellas, could you stick to the topic.
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The old Jamaican phrase comes to mind - 'Two step forward, one step backward'

I thought it was a Prussian military saying.

Might be. I got it from a Jamaican colleague 20 years ago. Funny how there might be a link between the supposedly anally-retentive Prussian and the consummately laid back Jamaican? What price national stereotypes?

S. Artesian
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Oct 23 2011 16:05
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Then SA took my side of the argument further still, arguing that there really was no difference between imperialism and capitalism, since when we have been arguing about whether or not imperialism arose before or after capitalism.

SInce the basic argument on this thread seems to be about whether national liberation struggles take the anti-capitalist struggle any further, which no-one has argued against for some time, isn't it important to come to a view on just how fundamental to anti-capitalism these struggles are?

I don't think I took your side of the argument, comrade, since I don't consider the "modern" "definitions" of imperialism, distinguishing it as a separate, distinct moment in capitalism, as having the slightest validity.

I do not think the existence of colonies, empires changes anything about the determining social relations of capital accumulation, and consequently I think the notion of a distinct "progressive" struggle for national self-determination-- distinct from the explicit struggle for proletarian revolution against their local, "national" bourgeoisie for workers' class rule, is obsolete at the moment of its birth, and destined to become an obstacle to that class struggle.

My apologies for not making that more clear and sooner.

As for "old sayings" and taking steps the one, not really a saying, I picked up from a Jamaican comrade was about a "steppin' razor." But that's changing the subject.

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Pengwern
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Oct 23 2011 16:43
S. Artesian wrote:
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Then SA took my side of the argument further still, arguing that there really was no difference between imperialism and capitalism, since when we have been arguing about whether or not imperialism arose before or after capitalism.

SInce the basic argument on this thread seems to be about whether national liberation struggles take the anti-capitalist struggle any further, which no-one has argued against for some time, isn't it important to come to a view on just how fundamental to anti-capitalism these struggles are?

I don't think I took your side of the argument, comrade, since I don't consider the "modern" "definitions" of imperialism, distinguishing it as a separate, distinct moment in capitalism, as having the slightest validity.

I do not think the existence of colonies, empires changes anything about the determining social relations of capital accumulation, and consequently I think the notion of a distinct "progressive" struggle for national self-determination-- distinct from the explicit struggle for proletarian revolution against their local, "national" bourgeoisie for workers' class rule, is obsolete at the moment of its birth, and destined to become an obstacle to that class struggle.

My apologies for not making that more clear and sooner.

As for "old sayings" and taking steps the one, not really a saying, I picked up from a Jamaican comrade was about a "steppin' razor." But that's changing the subject.

Its often after we try to summarise someone else's perspective that we realise that we misunderstood them. My apologies for that.

I didn't imagine that you saw imperialism as just a stage in capitalism, corresponding to the 'New Imperialism' which Lenin et al saw beginning in the final quarter of the nineteenth century at the same time as the emergence of monopoly capitalism; neither do I. As I said earlier, I think it has been capitalism's midwife, partner and source of an escape route when it is in greatest danger, and that it preceded capitalism's ability to function as a system, whereas you seem to see capitalism as having emerged simply from agrarian capitalism + the existence of a trading system. For me, that trading system emerged from imperialism, not from European agrarian trade and I hope I have made that clear.

We seem, from your comments above, to disagree more fundamentally than I imagined. I do think the social relations of capital accumulation developed the way they did primarily because of the Atlantic trade, which created a merchant capitalist cum finance capitalist class which captured the state at the turn of the 17th & 18th centuries and fused with a landed aristocracy on whose land most of the new, industrialised forces of production were erected.

I have, I hope, made clear that I do not think all or even most resistance to imperialism is 'progressive'; just that it has the potential to pose problems to international capitalism, even if it just takes the form of the creation of a new, dependent oligarchy. Such developments are therefore welcome; as the Bedouin say, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

working class
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Oct 26 2011 00:25

I wonder what those who are advocating "anti-imperialism" have to say about this article on libcom: “Socialism in One Country” Before Stalin, and the Origins of Reactionary “Anti-Imperialism”: The Case of Turkey, 1917-1925, which goes into detail about the first turn of the Comintern towards national liberation, which signalled the turn towards identification of the Comintern with the Russian state. Their sudden support for national liberation at this very moment seems quite interesting, as it was evident that national liberation was being advocated only as a matter of imperialist strategy, as can be shown to be the case in every single national liberation struggle of the twentieth century to date.

AR wrote:
I am most interested in hearing from people who believe that any claims of any people to the right of nationhood is "nationalism" and "nationalism" is by definition reactionary and that we should never, under any circumstances support it. I am less interested is hearing how "the Maoists" or "the Trotskyists" or "the Pabloite revisionists" support the right of nations to self determination as a cynical ploy to

The point is that such "nationalism" cannot be dealt with in an abstract way devoid of the real circumstances under which they arise. Nations appeared with the appearance of capitalism. The world by now is thoroughly capitalist and all nations in the world are part of one imperialist bloc or the other. As such, any new "nation" that aspires for nationhood must be part of one bloc or the other. The myth of independent non-aligned nations is just one of many peddled by the likes of Monthly Review and other third worldist sources. This is not a question of being reactionary or not. It is a question of possibility in today's world, assuming we are talking about the real world of today and not some fantasy world which you want to theorise about.

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Oct 24 2011 10:25
Pengwern wrote:
'Weakening capitalism' is mine and in a sentence with no mention of Kautsky in it.

Actually Kautsky does say that they weaken capitalism, in the quote I gave previous to your post:

Kautsky wrote:
This, however, does not alter the fact that these opponents weaken European capitalism and its governments and introduce an element of political unrest into the entire world.

Just an anecdote, perhaps Lenin's famous analogy of climbing the mountain, was copied from Pavlovich:

Pavlovich wrote:
To us revolutionaries there is nobody, after the hangman, more contemptible than the latter’s victim who submissively and without a struggle yields himself to suffering and torture.

This final duel which we are beginning to fight will require of us bloody sacrifices and hard efforts, but we shall win. We shall march forward, never looking back.

Comrades, Oriental fantasy has created a fable which shows symbolically, so to speak, the conditions under which a man or a people, having undertaken a certain task, can succeed in accomplishing it. This fable tells of three wonders of nature which are situated on the summit of a magic mountain. Many brave heroes have set out to win these treasures, but as soon as anyone approaches the magic mountain, voices begin to resound, calling on the brave man to turn back. They are either the plaintive moans and cries of children, wives, fathers and mothers, appealing to the bold spirit to return and not to risk his life for a chimera, or else terrible shouts which resemble the frightful howling of a storm, or claps of thunder. Thousands and thousands of daring fellows failed the test — they looked back to where these sounds were coming from, and were transformed into stone statues. And the whole mountain, from foot to summit, became strewn with these lifeless figures of stone into which living men had been transformed. But then a courageous and strong-willed man came along. He began to climb the mountain paying no attention either to the tender prayers of his kinsfolk or to the terrible shouts and frightening voices which sounded from behind him, threatening him with all the plagues of Egypt and a most painful death. He did not look back, but marched forward, fastening his gaze upon the summit of the mountain. And he achieved his aim, gaining possession of the treasures that were on the mountaintop.

And now comrades, you are beginning your ascent of the mountain in order to win all the treasures of the world. And you will hear the voices of those who are near to you, appealing to you not to risk your lives, you will hear the terrifying cries of all sorts of Moslem bigots, Pan-Turkic and Pan-Islamic fanatics, Georgian and Armenian Mensheviks and Dashnaks, who will threaten you with all sorts of bogies, but you will march forward, ignoring these cries, will climb the mountain, arms in hand, without looking back — otherwise you will be transformed into images of stone. [Applause.]

But you will reach the mountain-top, you will gain possession of the wonders of the world, you will see the realm of brotherhood, freedom, real equality of nations, the realm of labour. [Applause.]

I get that you and Alex aren't afraid of (other peoples') bloody sacrifices and hard efforts, but that (or a Bedouin saying) doesn't prove your argument for tail-ending national liberation.

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Oct 24 2011 11:53

Thanks, Noa - I am starting to read the article and will then reconsider my thinking.

Working Class - I think you have misattributed someone else's posting on nationalism to me!

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Oct 24 2011 19:45
working class wrote:
I wonder what those who are advocating "anti-imperialism" have to say about this article on libcom: “Socialism in One Country” Before Stalin, and the Origins of Reactionary “Anti-Imperialism”: The Case of Turkey, 1917-1925, which goes into detail about the first turn of the Comintern towards national liberation, which signalled the turn towards identification of the Comintern with the Russian state. Their sudden support for national liberation at this very moment seems quite interesting, as it was evident that national liberation was being advocated only as a matter of imperialist strategy, as can be shown to be the case in every single national liberation struggle of the twentieth century to date.
Pengwern wrote:
I am most interested in hearing from people who believe that any claims of any people to the right of nationhood is "nationalism" and "nationalism" is by definition reactionary and that we should never, under any circumstances support it. I am less interested is hearing how "the Maoists" or "the Trotskyists" or "the Pabloite revisionists" support the right of nations to self determination as a cynical ploy to

The point is that such "nationalism" cannot be dealt with in an abstract way devoid of the real circumstances under which they arise. Nations appeared with the appearance of capitalism. The world by now is thoroughly capitalist and all nations in the world are part of one imperialist bloc or the other. As such, any new "nation" that aspires for nationhood must be part of one bloc or the other. The myth of independent non-aligned nations is just one of many peddled by the likes of Monthly Review and other third worldist sources. This is not a question of being reactionary or not. It is a question of possibility in today's world, assuming we are talking about the real world of today and not some fantasy world which you want to theorise about.

I have now read the article you referred me too and very informative it was, too.

Having said that, I thought that the analytical remarks based on it, which are in the introduction and conclusion, are not borne out by the body of the article.

The introduction reads:

"The “anti-imperialist” ideology of the 1960’s and early 1970’s died a hard death by the late 1970’s. Western leftist cheerleaders for “Ho- Ho- Ho Chi Minh” in London, Paris, Berlin and New York fell silent as Vietnam invaded Cambodia, and China invaded Vietnam, and the Soviet Union threatened China. China allied with the U.S. against the Soviets in the new Cold War, and the other “national liberation movements” that had taken power in Algeria, and later in Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau…disappointed.

Today, a vague mood of “anti-imperialism” is back, led by Venezuela’s Chavez and his Latin American allies (Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia), more or less (with the exception of Stalinist Cuba) classical bourgeois-nationalist regimes. But Chavez in turn is allied, at least verbally and often practically, with the Iran of the ayatollahs, and Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as newly-emergent China, which no one any longer dares call “socialist”. The British SWP allies with Islamic fundamentalists in local elections in the UK, and participates in mass demonstrations (during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, summer 2007) chanting “We are all Hezbollah”. Somehow Hezbollah, whose statutes affirm the truth of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,2 is now part of the “left”; when will it be “We are all Taliban”? Why not, indeed?

Such a climate compels us to turn back to the history of such a profoundly reactionary ideology, deeply anti-working class both in the “advanced” and “underdeveloped” countries, by which any force, no matter how retrograde, that turns a gun against a Western power becomes “progressive” and worthy of “critical” or “military” support, or for the less subtle, simply “support”.

And the conclusion drawn is:

"Today’s “anti-imperialist” cheerleaders would do well to understand the anti-working class thrust of their own ideology and see capitalism in the “advanced” as in the “developing” world as a seamless whole, posing the same tasks for those who would truly go beyond it, and not merely reorganize it. This was true in Turkey in the early 1920’s and all the more true in Venezuela, Bolivia, Iran and Afghanistan today. It was the great merit of the Turkish communist left of the earlier period to reject “critical support” for national liberation in order to embrace internationalism, and we can best pull their story out of the history books and into living reality by doing the same".

My response is:

1 As usual on the Left, the 'compelling' way of settling this argument, as with any other argument, according to the introduction, is to go back to what happened and what was said in the period between the end of the First World War and the start of the Third Reich, particularly in the USSR and Germany. I have never understood this habit, given how long capitalism has been going for.

2 The introduction also contains a straw man - the belief that "any force, no matter how retrograde, that turns a gun against a Western power becomes “progressive” and worthy of “critical” or “military” support, or for the less subtle, simply “support”.

As I have already explained twice, I don't think anti-imperialist struggles have anything more than the potential to de-stabilise capitalism and there is nothing automatically progressive about them.

3 The conclusion's core point is "It was the great merit of the Turkish communist left of the earlier period to reject “critical support” for national liberation in order to embrace internationalism".

Yes, I agree that those on the Turkish Left whose response to the USSR and Comintern was along these lines were right. The Russians were wrong to make out that their support for the building of a modern, capitalist state was in any way anti-imperialist.

4 The crucial point for me is that the circumstances of the creation of the Turkish state did not involve an anti-imperialist element of any significance; Britain and France over-reached themselves at the Treaty of Sevres and the only issue was whether there would be an unviable, rump Turkish state in mid-Anatolia squeezed between Greece, Armenia and the Kurds or one which occupied the whole of the Anatolian peninsular at the expense of these three peoples. Imperialism did little more than express a preference for the former and ended up with the latter. To all intents and purposes, the creation of Turkey was not an anti-imperialist struggle but the transformation of the imperial core of a dying empire into a capitalist nation state, which inherited an experienced military and an experienced bureaucracy.

5 Turkey was never really going to become anything else - it also inherited a pre-industrialised economy with a smaller working class than in Russia. In both countries, a strong central authority emerged which dragged the two countries into a painful, top-down modernisation; in Turkey's case, this involved the secularisation of a Muslim majority state, which was the equivalent of the enforced collectivisation of the Russian peasantry in terms of the scale and nature of social change.

6 The Turkish Left, such as it was, as well as the working class, counted for a lot less than than was ever going to be sufficient in comparison to the power of the state and its coercive capacity, during all phases of the transition from the Empire to the Nation. Given the situation of the young USSR at this time after the civil war, the war against capitalist armies and the defat of the German and Hungarian revolutions, it is entirely understandable that Russian leaders determined their foreign policy according to what they saw as the needs of their own revolution; that doesn't make it right, but it does supply an important aspect of the context and help explain why the Turkish Left had no genuine prospects.

7 There were genuine anti-imperialist struggles at the same time in those parts of the former Ottoman Empire which were grabbed by France and Britain under the euphemistic concept of Mandates, which meant colonies to anyone who cared to look. These involved strikes, demonstrations, local militia on one side and bombing raids and gas attacks on the other. Control of oilfields, the security of oil pipelines and of the strategic shipping route between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean were all at stake for imperialism in these struggles; they led ultimately to the OPEC boycott of 1973, thereby triggering a recession throughout the west and neo-liberalism as well as beyond to the 2011 Arab Spring.

The emergence of Turkey as a nation state therefore shows us, I think, that a crucial factor in determining the impact of movements for national self-determination is whether or not they emerge in conflict with an imperialist power or powers.

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 24 2011 23:59

I would like to ask (here I go again !) a simple question here.

Here are a couple of premises that you may choose to challenge:

1. There are places on the earth where the number of workers are insufficient for them to be able to seize power and form a dictatorship of the proletariat.

2. Some of these same places on the earth the local bourgeoisie is too small, too timid, and/or too beholden to their imperialist benefactors to lead a bourgeois national revolution.

3. Some of these same places on earth are the poorest areas in the world; held down by an occupation army (or a home grown clone of that occupation army) that keeps the population in a state of abject poverty and near starvation.

If you reject these three premises then say so. If not then please answer the following question:

What would you have the "people" (i.e. the workers and peasants) do?

S. Artesian
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Oct 25 2011 00:19

1. Where are the numbers so insufficient and yet an "anti-imperialist" struggle has taken root? If such an "anti-imperialist" struggle has a material basis, then it must be, like every other struggle, in the conflict between the means and relations of production; between social production and the property forms. If that is the case, then the origin of the conflict is in the specific organization of labor.

Did that condition exist in Vietnam in the 1930s? No. Vietnam at the end of WW2? No again. Vietnam from 1955-1975, no yet again.

Bolivia in 1952? No. Bolivia in 2005? No.

South Africa 1994? No.

Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Angola, Egypt? No. Clearly no as in each instance those advocating "national self-determination" organized themselves to suppress the workers.

2. Yes, because the national revolution is an impossibility; a national revolution is a market based scheme. The bourgeoisie are what they are-- stunted-- because of their inability to resolve any of the issues of land and labor which are issues of international capitalist development.

3. Me? I'd "have" them maintain their independence from and opposition to the bourgeoisie; the local, national "patriotic" bourgeoisie, petit-bourgeoisie, the bloc of 4 classes, new democracy, justicialismo, whatever you want to call it.

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 25 2011 01:10
S. Artesian wrote:
Did that condition exist in Vietnam in the 1930s? No. Vietnam at the end of WW2? No again. Vietnam from 1955-1975, no yet again.

Bolivia in 1952? No. Bolivia in 2005? No.

South Africa 1994? No.

Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Angola, Egypt? No.

What are you saying "No" to?

Is that your idea of an "answer"?

S. Artesian
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Oct 25 2011 03:59

The condition you posed, where the workers are numerically incapable of taking power. That's why the number 1 is there. It refers to your first "condition." Next time I'll add a diagram... or a picture.

You posed 3 conditions and I answered them in order.

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Oct 25 2011 09:38

S.A - In South Africa, apartheid was primarily a system for organising the supply and movement of labour. A high proportion of Bantu and Xhosa people were landless and either employed or in the reserve army of labour. Many of them belonged to the ANC, which, up to that point, had a long-standing policy of socialising the means of production. The RSA had not only an anti-imperialist struggle (the local white settler population was the agent of imperialism), but a history of workers' struggle and large scale high tech and extractive industries in 1994. All of this potential therefore had a material basis.

I think you need to back up your view that this was an example of a case in which the number of workers were insufficient for them to be able to seize power and form a dictatorship of the proletariat. What prevented this lay in the realm of political machinations between international capital, the representatives of the settler elite and key members of the ANC leadership.

The view that anti-imperialism's potential for challenging capitalism somehow came to a shuddering halt at the end of the '70s has been advanced in this debate and, unless you can back up convincingly what looks like a throwaway remark about South Africa in 1994, I think that more general argument falls as well.

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Oct 25 2011 10:36

S.A - If you think Chile lacked the potential or material base for proletarian revolution I suggest you read this pamphlet, in 4 parts: -

http://bigflameuk.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/si-sec1.pdf

http://bigflameuk.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/si-sec2.pdf

http://bigflameuk.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/si-sec3.pdf

http://bigflameuk.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/si-sec4.pdf

S. Artesian
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Oct 25 2011 11:31

Pengwern,

Once again you are completely confused about my position. My argument is that the conditions as outlined in AR's post did not exist in South Africa or Chile, and in fact have not existed in any struggle where "national self-determination" has emerged as a movement.

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Oct 25 2011 12:06

S.A - Can I take it that you agree with my post 163?

If so, what about Egypt in the early 1950s - do you think there existed the material basis there and then for an anti-imperialism which challenged more than just Egyptian resentment at national subjugation, because I do.

This account of the situation in 1954 shows that there was a Left which was defeated during the key crisis, just as there was in Iran in 1979; its taken from http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/569/egypts-three-revolutions_the-force-of-history-beh.

In the Spring of 1954 during which a united front of Wafdists, Communists, Muslim Brothers, and others demanded an end to the military dictatorship and a return to civilian rule and the constitutional system. Demonstrators, led largely by students, flooded the streets in March as they surrounded Abdin palace and demanded political freedoms. After a series of negotiations and political maneuvers, Nasser consolidated his rule, becoming Premier and president of the Revolutionary Command Council in April of 1954. Politically, the regime sought to contain the possibility of any broad-based popular movement, hence the attempts at cooptation and the violence perpetrated against its two main ideological contenders, the Muslim Brothers and the Marxist-Communist Left, as well as the abolition of political parties and organizations. Similarly, the regime’s policy towards labor activism and trade unionism was characterized by a two-pronged policy of co-optation of labor and union leaders through their incorporation into the state apparatus and extensive revisions of labor legislation (for example, legislating job security and improved material benefits). Autonomous labor action and the political independence of the trade unions were curtailed by a legislative ban on all strikes, laws on the arbitration and conciliation of labor disputes, and a new trade-union law. This provides an important larger context for understanding the historical significance of the newly emerging independent public sector trade unions active in the 2011 protests".

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Oct 25 2011 12:19

I think the best account I have found of the history of the struggles of the Egyptian textile workers and how this intertwines with the movement for national liberation and the successive forms of Eqyptian state since 1952 is in "Egyptian Textile Workers: From Craft Artisans Facing European Competition to Proletarians Contending with the State", by Joel Beinin, Department of History, Stanford University.

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Oct 25 2011 12:55
Quote:
What would you have the "people" (i.e. the workers and peasants) do?

Dictatorship of the working masses under the hegemony of the class-conscious proletariat, but beyond this hackneyed phrase, I think we could look at Bougainville's struggle against Papua New Guinea (PNG) and foreign companies, to see how such a struggle takes place. Ideally it starts with strikes in the mines, the workers interacting with the foreign company are the most advanced, and when seeing the grievances also of the poor peasants, they decide to take the lead in a military rebellion for national independence.

Then, when time goes on, they become the new bosses under the influence of the big landowners, and small business owners, urge the poor peasants to lay down their arms, invite foreign investors back and the situation reverts back to normal.

Quote:
The PNG government, a major owner (19.06 percent) of the operating company, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), alongside British multinational, Rio Tinto (53.58 percent), imposed a blockade on the island and a 10-year civil war followed during which 20,000 people died, communities suffered human rights abuses and infrastructure was destroyed.

Helen Hakena, director of the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency, a local NGO, counsels women victims of violence and develops leadership capacity and awareness of land rights in communities. She said a significant achievement since the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement was the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in 2005.

"We have our own government in place and a lot has been achieved in terms of peace-building and the laying down of arms," Hakena recounted. "The setting up of businesses here has been a good thing, and schools and other institutions have been opened."

However, the population of Bougainville has doubled from 175,000 in 2000 to over 300,000 now, and with the island’s current revenue deriving mainly from international aid donors, public services remain limited. Many villages lack electricity, clean water and adequate medical services.

The ABG views potential mining revenues as vital to developing services and attaining economic self-sufficiency for the second pillar of the Peace Agreement, a referendum on independence from PNG within the next 5-10 years.

So that's the outcome in 100% of cases where the people took a stand against their oppression.

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Oct 25 2011 14:00

Noa - Francis Fukuyama got it all wrong about history being over. The outcomes you refer to so magisterially are just moments in time; sometimes protracted & sometimes not. The struggle continues sooner or later, as S. Artesian points out, because the material basis for it is there. At different phases of such anti-imperialist struggles, the balance of local and international power between capital and labour will vary and the balance within each local struggle will also vary between national struggle and class struggle. The Tunisian national struggle was anti-imperialist because of the continuing influence of France in the country and has opened up the space for the working class and the Left; as in Egypt, more and more people have used this space to discuss politics, politics and politics in face-to-face meetings and on the internet.

You seem to see an iron rule whereby anti-imperialist struggles just can't help becoming a sort of Animal Farm meets Groundhog Day. That's too deterministic for me, I'm afraid.

S. Artesian
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Oct 25 2011 14:52

Yes, I agree with post #163, and think the issues you bring up directly answer AR's 3 questions.

And yes, the basis for transcending the issue of national self-determination existed in Egypt in 1954, and "anti-imperialism" was used, and is almost always used to oppose, prevent, deflect that transcendence.

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Oct 25 2011 15:31
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You seem to see an iron rule whereby anti-imperialist struggles just can't help becoming a sort of Animal Farm meets Groundhog Day. That's too deterministic for me, I'm afraid.

I can understand your sentiment, but if we agree with Alex on the necessity of the material conditions, then we should also accept the consequences that what people can do is limited by those conditions, and we can't jump over a stage of development without the help from advanced proletarians countries.

Stalin wrote:
But what if the world revolution is fated to arrive with some delay? Is there any ray of hope for our revolution? Trotsky offers no ray of hope; for "the contradictions in the position of a workers' government . . . could be solved only . . . in the arena of the world proletarian revolution." According to this plan, there is but one prospect left for our revolution: to vegetate in its own contradictions and rot away while waiting for the world revolution.

...

Trotsky's "permanent revolution" is a variety of Menshevism.

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Oct 25 2011 16:04
S. Artesian wrote:
Yes, I agree with post #163, and think the issues you bring up directly answer AR's 3 questions.

And yes, the basis for transcending the issue of national self-determination existed in Egypt in 1954, and "anti-imperialism" was used, and is almost always used to oppose, prevent, deflect that transcendence.

I'm glad that's settled and, yes, I think it is important to differentiate, in each instance, struggles which are genuinely anti-imperialist, by which I mean those which challenge the domination over them of international capital and its local agents, from calls emanating from those who are either outside or on the periphery of national liberation struggles, to postpone challenging the totality of the imperialist relationship in order to secure an end to its purely formal domination. Nasser and Attaturk both did this, partly by smashing the Left and partly by providing some reformist gains from above to pacify groups who might otherwise have supported a communist or anarchist Left.

The dilemma, in practice, for the Revolutionary Left in such situations, is how to win over broader sectors of both the working class and any potentially supportive groups such as peasants, in such a way as to make the repression + reforms strategy too fraught with danger.

My further question is this - if we used this way of analysing contemporary South America, would we conclude simply that the Bolivarian state represents a defeat or some kind of strand-off in which both top-down reformism and bottom-up popular demands are both present?

I ask this because I read this morning that Morales has had to back down over opposition to his proposed Amazon Highway (http://100gf.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/bolivian-president-evo-morales-agrees-to-scrap-amazon-highway-plan/).

S. Artesian
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Oct 25 2011 20:34

In 2003 and again in 2005, the Bolivian workers and indigenous people had effectively ousted the government. The MAS was way behind the population during these periods, and Morales was way behind the MAS, being the last to call for nationalization of the hydrocarbon sector.

So, mos def Morales, if not a "defeat," is certainly an setback, and is capital's attempt to sustain itself in the face of strong opposition. We can expect the other shoe of capitalism to fall, sooner or later-- as it fell in Honduras against Zelaya.

Besides, Morales is an active partner in imperialism [as are Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay] supplying troops to MINUSTAH for the occupation of Haiti. So much for the "right of nations to self-determination." Some nations have more rights than others.

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 26 2011 02:16

(This is my response to Post #162 by S. Artesian)

Premise #1

Alexander Roxwell wrote:
1. There are places on the earth where the number of workers are insufficient for them to be able to seize power and form a dictatorship of the proletariat.

Your answer

S. Artesian wrote:
Did that condition exist in Vietnam in the 1930s? No. Vietnam at the end of WW2? No again. Vietnam from 1955-1975, no yet again.

Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Angola, Egypt? No.

Bolivia in 1952? No. Bolivia in 2005? No.

South Africa 1994? No.

Why?

Your evident answer

S. Artesian wrote:
Clearly no as in each instance those advocating "national self-determination" organized themselves to suppress the workers.

So. Because those advocating “national self-determination” organized themselves to suppress the workers therefore the workers had sufficient numerical strength to seize power and form a dictatorship of the proletariat?

Or we have this garbled mess as an answer

S. Artesian wrote:
Where are the numbers so insufficient and yet an "anti-imperialist" struggle has taken root? If such an "anti-imperialist" struggle has a material basis, then it must be, like every other struggle, in the conflict between the means and relations of production; between social production and the property forms. If that is the case, then the origin of the conflict is in the specific organization of labor.

WooooHoooooHooooo. I see some words like they might have been clipped out of Karl Marx and then inserted into a copy of "Goofy Minds the House" as tho they provided an explanation as to why Goofy put the cow on the roof.

Premise #2

Alexander Roxwell wrote:
2. Some of these same places on the earth the local bourgeoisie is too small, too timid, and/or too beholden to their imperialist benefactors to lead a bourgeois national revolution.

Your evident answer:

S. Artesian wrote:
2. Yes, because the national revolution is an impossibility; a national revolution is a market based scheme. The bourgeoisie are what they are-- stunted-- because of their inability to resolve any of the issues of land and labor which are issues of international capitalist development.

You say you agree but for all the wrong reasons. The bourgeoisie isn’t stunted because they are unable to resolve any of the issues – they are unable to even try to addresss any of the issues because they are too small, too timid, and too beholden to their imperialist benefactors.

Premise #3

Alexander Roxwell wrote:

3. Some of these same places on earth are the poorest areas in the world; held down by an occupation army (or a home grown clone of that occupation army) that keeps the population in a state of abject poverty and near starvation.

Your answer

S. Artesian wrote:

3. Me? I'd "have" them maintain their independence from and opposition to the bourgeoisie; the local, national "patriotic" bourgeoisie, petit-bourgeoisie, the bloc of 4 classes, new democracy, justicialismo, whatever you want to call it.

Wow ! Nice speech. Meaningless. But very very brave. Good thing you don’t live there and have to preach such mush to the living breathing people who might be so unfortunate as to listen.

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 26 2011 02:31

#163

I believe that Chile has a sufficiently large proletariat to create a dictatorship; and this was true in 1973. I am less familiar with the situation in South Africa but I believe that this would also be true of them as well. Apartheid was a very huge distortion, but was primarily subjective. With the passage of time the ranks of the proletariat grow while the ranks of the peasantry shrink.

S. Artesian
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Oct 26 2011 04:56

AR--

What's ridiculous is that you cannot provide a single incidence, a single struggle that corresponds to your make-believe, wished-for world where the proletariat is too numerically insignificant to struggle for, and win the struggle for, power. Not one.

Clearly, the bourgeoisie have recognized that as they mobilize internationally at the slightest eruption of anything resembling class struggle.

You asked me what I "would have them do." But the issue is what you would have them do... lay the basis for their own defeat in class-collaborationist formations? In endless iterations of MNRs [Bolivia], UPs [Chile], "new democracies" [China], ANCs [South Africa], MASs [Bolivia again]?

You don't think there is a material basis for struggles in "undeveloped" countries? Then what explains those struggles? Moral outrage?

Where is there a national struggle for self-determination that is not based on the conflict between means and relations of production?

Oh... and as for your "take" on Vietnam-- only a peasant war... that takes the cake for ignorance.

JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
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Oct 26 2011 19:45
Quote:
The British SWP allies with Islamic fundamentalists in local elections in the UK

This is not remotely true. The problem is, it makes alliances with muslims as muslims. It sees their religion/culture rather than their position within class society as being progressive. Its essentially inverted the 9/11 bigotry.

Most fundementalists espouse anti-election rehtoric it should be noted.

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Pengwern
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Oct 26 2011 12:41

No, Joe, Pengwern did not write this. You are the 2nd one to misattribute a quote to me in the week I have been posting on this forum and I have twice misunderstood what another poster waas meaning.

We should perhaps all take a deep breath and consider why we consistently miscommunicate.

Spikymike
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Oct 26 2011 13:55

Any chance the admins could at least add a question mark to the title of this thread?

No such 'right' exists in reality anyway but this title assumes it does even before the debate started.

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Pengwern
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Oct 26 2011 14:03

According to international law, it does - http://www.sam.gov.tr/perceptions/Volume10/winter2005/Cop-Eymirlioglu.pdf

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Noa Rodman
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Oct 26 2011 14:17

Pengwern, you complain about 'a straw man - the belief that "any force, no matter how retrograde, that turns a gun against a Western power becomes “progressive” and worthy of “critical” or “military” support, or for the less subtle, simply “support”. ' You write 'I don't think anti-imperialist struggles have anything more than the potential to destabilize capitalism and there is nothing automatically progressive about them.' In that sense you claim 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.' So it seems, correct me if I'm wrong, that you support national liberation struggle because they have the potential to destabilize capitalism. Let's assume that they have the potential to destabilize capitalism in a definite way. Does this mean that you especially support those national struggles which have the potential to trigger a world war? And conversely, if a national liberation struggle doesn't destabilize capitalism, does that means that you would no longer support it?

I agree with spikymiky about there not being any 'natural right' of self-determination. What counts is the purpose of the slogan. What the Social-Democratics wanted to do with the slogan was to remove the grounds of strife between nations, to take the edge off that strife and reduce it to a minimum. The issue of national oppression, the so-called 'secondary contradiction' was considered an obstacle, and not an opportunity to weaken capitalism pace Maoïsm, because the interests of the proletariat are hurt thereby. The slogan was meant for the workers in the oppressing countries, but not as an action-guide for the unfortunate oppressed people to "do something".