Against the 'Iraqi' Resistance

To those Western pro-revolutionaries who have lately fallen under into the politics of anti-imperialism the message is this: always reject imposed conditions and proposed solutions from within the established array; take courage from your principles under all circumstances; there must be no compromises and no negotiations with religions, political groups, state agencies or structural panaceas; the struggle is always for humanity as its own end and against the commodity.

Submitted by lettersjournal on January 5, 2012

A Plague on Both Your Houses: Against the ‘Iraqi Resistance’

by Frere Dupont (2005)

(Article appeared in the first issue of Letters.)

We can be certain, even though we do not know them, that right now, even now, there are comrades in Baghdad who secretly burn the Koran. We know of them, if we do not know them, because resistance to tyranny continues even under the conditions of tyranny. Should we deny them because we cannot name them? Should we make do with those the American military name ‘insurgents’ as recipients of our solidarity for no reason other than because the American Military has named them so?

1. I think we can assume that it is certain that the individuals who volunteer or are forced to join up with the Iraqi paramilitaries are very unhappy with their lives and the circumstances in which they live.

I think the individuals who have joined the American-British forces faced choices of the same order when they ‘volunteered.’

Do any of the soldiers think they are going to make their situation better by what they are doing? I think they probably don’t think about the future except insofar as they hope to get out of this alive. But war is never about the future; it is always a response to, a wallowing in, past events. War is precisely a refusal of the future.

I have never met an Iraqi ‘insurgent’, to this extent they remain, as individuals, in their motivations and goals, an enigma to me – however I have worked with more than several British ex-soldiers in various places, usually under factory conditions, in dead end jobs. What I can say about these individuals is that they were often lost souls, they were all more or less lunatic as well as being wholly unpredictable; sometimes they were offensive but mostly they were a lot of fun. I would also say that nobody is more militant in the workplace than an ex-soldier; they absolutely refuse all discipline, work is unreal to them after the army, and they are desperate for camaraderie.

I am trying to write beyond strategy here, I am trying not to talk as a political mouthpiece in the game of political mouthpieces. I don’t want any part in choosing a side to be on, like that made any difference. When we talk about the killing, the killers, and the killed, let us not degrade ourselves with our pseudo-participation in that established Newspeak strategic outlook whereby these mutual atrocities are conceived only as ‘scores’ and points of a game to the death. The martyrs do not go to heaven; the slaughtered do not enjoy the freedom of democracy. It is not worth it, it is never worth it.

When I see the results on TV of American action I am appalled and I am certain that much worse things are happening that I do not see. When I see the actions of Iraqi paramilitaries I am appalled and I am certain that much worse things are happening that I do not see.

I have never felt, when I see a bomb explode on television, that this explosion is ‘necessary’, that it will lead to something better. We know from the history of human conflict that war does not improve things, war is not a staging post to a better world. Strategic operations conducted under capitalist conditions can only return slightly modified but otherwise wholly unchanged political institutions.

I therefore refuse the command that I must support as a solution what is called the Iraqi resistance. I refuse it and I refute it.

2. First, a working definition of anti-politics in the time of irrelevant leftism: a position that understands that politics is an administrative practice determined by, and in the service of, economic forces. Anti-politics understands there are no political solutions. In short anti-politics is anti-strategy.

Second, a working definition of insurrection in the time of misrecognizing insurrection: a position that understands there can be no transitionary stages towards revolution. The insurrectionary position understands that revolutionary change cannot arise from any existing social force (military grouping, political party, union movement) or any future force that adopts these modes of organizing.

From the anti-politics position, the war in Iraq must be understood as a competition for ascendancy within the context of unchanging economic pressures. It is a competition between a dominant and well-organized fragment of the ruling class that is driven to extend its ownership geographically, and a would-be ruling class staking its claim for the same resources, economically. However, anti-politics discerns an alliance between the opposing military-political forces against the local populace and against humanity in general. The militarily organized enemies converge at the point of their class interest, they share a common strategic understanding of the world, the goal of each is the seizure of the Iraqi land mass and the resources of the region and also to secure local political administration. The victory of either force is a defeat of humanity generally.

It is also understood that whilst what some call ‘the resistance’ is not politically homogenized, the class character and political forms adopted are unified in class terms and can be explained as a cross-class alliance under the auspices of an apparent bourgeoisie. I say apparent because it is not clear that this is an autonomous class or whether it is a mere client of others. The paramilitaries source their weapons, finance and politics from, amongst others, Syria, elements of the Saudi ruling class and Iran. The Iraq War therefore has elements of just another inter-State conflict by proxy, with the ‘resistance’ fighting in the interest of half-hidden powers.

It should also be remembered at this point how established elites manage and organize their armed opponents just as they do in the democratic arena. We now know of the high level manipulation of the IRA and of protestant paramilitary groups by the British state. Equally if it seems there was state manipulation of the various red brigades in the Seventies, it therefore seems likely that, at the very least, some of the mercenary groups in Iraq have been organized by American forces to cause atrocities and inflame internal ethnic/political rivalries. This is, after all, a standard dual strategy of covert operations.

In other words, the resistance is not resisting anything of the capitalist order at all, and is certainly less of an example than that of the ordinary working class individual who pursues the interest of their own humanity, and from whom the left is utterly alienated (for example, whilst many proletarian relatives of American soldiers may endorse a straight-ahead humanistic anti-war position, they find it utterly incomprehensible, and perverse, for the left to support the actions of the enemy forces). It is perhaps the left’s fatal separation from, and consequent incomprehension of, ordinary lived life that drives them to invest so heavily in far away events. It is indicative of this alienation that far more is written on the ‘cause’ of Iraq than on matters closer to home. Because most of us in the milieu are not employed as workers we have less idea about what is going on in our own cities than we do in Fallujah.

This may seem a theoretical understanding to those who seek a return to political exigency but it is consistent with the principles of anti-politics and with class analysis. The left’s denunciation of all ‘theory’ which does not finally fall into line with already existing conclusions hides its own much more elaborate, more alienated, and overly-strategic theoretical development by means of moral injunction. However in the case of the left’s ‘supporting’ national liberation ideology the theoretical process remains the preserve of the leadership, only its end product is promoted for public consumption. Thus, it is the purpose of autonomous theory to challenge unthinking acceptance. We must therefore examine the function of ‘supporting’ those who ‘are not perfect anti-authoritarian, non-racist, feminist, secular, anarchist.’

I have written all this knowing that whether I, or you, ‘support’ the Iraqi militias or not, it makes no difference, it neither impacts on their decision making nor does it influence the foreign policy of the American elite. So what is the point in even discussing it?

For my part, I resist the calls to endorse the actions of the Iraqi militias because I understand that the call for support and those who are making that call are more significant than what is being supported. It is traditional practice of the left to displace the focus of its activities from everyday life onto matters of the state and in particular onto issues of foreign policy. The reasons for this are that left groups hope to merge themselves with the state and are looking for a finger hold on the levers of power but more importantly it is much easier to maintain control over the party membership by concentrating on far-off and therefore more simple issues than it is to talk on local struggles where dissent and disagreement is always going to break out. The left looks for simple stories from which agreement may be secured and control imposed, it is the function of the membership to passively repeat the moral of the stories. The ‘anti-imperialist’ position also acts as a compensation for sublimation of the almost complete alienation of the left from the more substantial but (to the left) incomprehensible anti-political resistance of the home-proletariat.

For me, this is not a matter of the Iraqi resistance at all but of the sub-political/moralistic use of it as an example for a means of gaining greater political control ‘at home.’ I oppose the call to support the Iraqi Resistance because I understand the call is an alibi for the cause of subjective, short-term political expediency. It is also a betrayal, of those who are oppressed by ‘resistant’ nationalistic and religious ideologies, as it is a betrayal of future revolutionary principles. I reject the either/or logic that states that there is no other option but complicity with the ‘empire’ or ‘support’ for its competitors. I do not accept that the Iraqi militias are the only option for the people of Iraq or that they are even the best option from out of current circumstances.

The Iraqi people are capable of so much more than Saudi financed, U.S. trained military Islamism and even their not-so distant history of explicitly revolutionary struggle. The ‘supporters’ of the militias automatically cut themselves off from this history and align themselves towards the bourgeois form.

We can be certain now that there are in Iraq, as there are in Palestine and in all specified locations of the world, individuals who have independently achieved a pro-revolutionary consciousness far in advance of the dulled grasping of western leftism. The consciousness of these individuals is derived from direct experience of determinate conditions and arrives at a place where they are forced to reject all existing forces, solutions, politics and ideologies equally. It seems to me that it would be humiliating, to ourselves and to them, to ask them to retreat back into an affirmational attitude towards one fragment of the capitalist implosion. On the contrary, we must always address the most radical and developed consciousness in all countries by holding to our basic principles no matter the pressure to modify them in the interest of our subordinate belonging to some hasty left dominated ‘popular front’. Remember now the western left who turned from their own circumstances and supported Stalin, Mao, the Viet Cong at the expense of the working class of Eastern Europe, China, and Vietnam. Remember now their utter discrediting because they could not distinguish between their desire to lend support for upheavals within the existing political structure from involvement in genuinely revolutionary situations that they could not recognize.

To our selves the anti-political message at this moment on the Iraq situation must be: the Iraqi working class has not made its move yet and the people of Iraq are capable of so much more than Islamism and mere ethnicity.

To those revolutionary individuals in Iraq, and everywhere, the message is this: we are not living in an age of empire; America is not the problem; America is a symptom of capitalist dynamics; there is no political solution to the economic predicament; all existing political forces have either been generated from, or captured by, the economic substrate.

To those Western pro-revolutionaries who have lately fallen under into the politics of anti-imperialism the message is this: always reject imposed conditions and proposed solutions from within the established array; take courage from your principles under all circumstances; there must be no compromises and no negotiations with religions, political groups, state agencies or structural panaceas; the struggle is always for humanity as its own end and against the commodity.