Revolutionary socialist politics (Part 2)

Clashes break out after President Morsi seizes new power in Egypt.

This is our second installment of major excerpts from the Political Resolution adopted at the August 2012 Socialist Action National Convention in Minneapolis.

Today we are witness to a new world armaments race, with every major power striving to increase its military arsenal. This clearly indicates the desperate need of all capitalist nations to protect, expand, and develop new markets by force, when necessary. The U.S.-led NATO war against Libya served as a perfect example, when the U.S., England, France, and Italy jockeyed for position regarding whose military forces would predominate in the destruction of that nation and which would secure the largest percentage of the oil booty.

The already severe sanctions against Iran and Syria and the increasing threats of war have but one objective, to re-integrate these nations into the economic and military framework of the great powers. Equally overt examples of the use of force to advance imperialist needs includes the Belgian-based, U.S.-controlled AFRICOM operation, in which the U.S. seeks to advance its neo-colonial interests in Africa at the expense of its European and Chinese competitors.

In Afghanistan, the fiction of an external imperialist power training an oppressed people to fight has been dropped. Instead, the “trainers” are to be re-named and continue to operate in one form or another as death-squad mercenaries backed by the most advanced off-shored military equipment in the world, including drones, now to be manufactured in the thousands.

It is instructive in this regard to note that in Iraq, despite government reports to the contrary, the lion’s share of the oil proceeds, according to The New York Times, are now in the hands of U.S. corporate interests. The U.S. did not murder some 1.5 million Iraqis only to withdraw from that nation with little or no booty!

In the super-competitive capitalist world of today no previous or present alliances are permanent. New power blocs, including China, which spends approximately one-quarter of the amount that the U.S. does on upgrading its military, and perhaps Japan and other Asian nations, can be expected to collaborate when their interests coincide—as is the case today, when trading in major commodities between Japan and China is based on the Chinese currency, the renminbi, as opposed to the ever-weakening U.S. dollar.

The U.S.-backed Philippines’ confrontations with China in the North China Sea is another major example of imperialist rivalry, wherein naval maneuvers are aimed at securing access to unpopulated and disputed islands that are known to be rich in fisheries as well as oil deposits.

The same applies to every continent. U.S. troops are increasingly the lynchpin in all major military ventures, as in Colombia, where seven new U.S. bases are under construction—aimed at potentially revolutionary developments in Latin America. The U.S. imperial venture today confronts the entire planet, with troops on the ground when needed and a massive program to employ drone warfare and privatized mercenary armies, the increasingly common calling card of U.S. imperialism.

The Arab Spring

 In Tunisia and Egypt, U.S. imperialism’s corporate media machine posed the Obama administration as a friend of the Egyptian people and a defender of democracy in the face of the fact that the Mubarak dictatorship was second only to Israel in receipt of U.S. military aid. So swift, broad, and deep were the mobilizations against Mubarak that any U.S. decision to smash it with massive and brutal force was untenable. A similar dynamic emerged earlier in Tunisia, with the hated Ben Ali dictatorship lacking any credibility among the Tunisian masses.

Instead, the U.S. relied on diplomatic guile, threats, and maneuvers to achieve a “democratic” transition through elections overseen by the still-in-power tyrants’ military heirs. While the mobilization of significant trade-union forces, including mass strikes in Egypt and Tunisia, was sufficient to drive out the dictators, the reformist leaderships knew full well that any steps beyond Mubarak’s and Ben Ali’s removal would pose the issue of overt military intervention. The native bourgeois forces never contemplated anything other than the constitution of reformed and “democratic” capitalist governments.

In Egypt and Tunisia the massive and ongoing Tahrir Square mobilizations of youthful fighters nevertheless lacked anything close to a disciplined core of organized and revolutionary forces of sufficient strength and implantation to effectively guide the mass power in the streets in a revolutionary socialist direction. Despite the valiant efforts of tiny revolutionary groups to unify their forces and strive to build independent unions and to challenge with a revolutionary party and program in the elections, their forces were too meager and inexperienced to affect an outcome that differed in its fundamentals from the old regime with some new bourgeois components.

Within a year’s time the massive uprising was channeled into bourgeois reformism—the old and temporarily restrained military regime coupled with the Muslim Brotherhood electoral victors in pretending democratic rule.

In Libya, the situation was worse. The initial mass mobilizations against the Gadhafi dictatorship were almost entirely lacking in revolutionary leadership. Whatever forces appeared on the scene early on that tried to pose a semblance of a revolutionary alternative to Gadhafi and to U.S./NATO intervention were soon overwhelmed and likely disappeared. The door was open wide to an overt imperialist resolution.

Gadhafi’s concessions to imperialism over the past years proved insufficient to realize his efforts at a negotiated solution. The imperialists used the UN’s “humanitarian no-fly zone” to deploy massive NATO forces, led by the U.S. Tens of thousands of Libyans were slaughtered, along with Gadhafi’s army.

So weak was the imperialist orchestrated internal opposition that it took what amounted to a continuous six-month bombardment by the world’s superpowers, coupled with the covert use of U.S.-trained Qatar mercenaries who “liberated” Tripoli, to remove Gadhafi and install a handpicked imperialist government. In such a war, regardless of their criticisms of the Gadhafi regime, revolutionaries must not only demand the immediate withdrawal of all NATO/U.S. troops but also favor without qualification an imperialist defeat.

In the antiwar movement, “U.S./NATO Out Now!” was the critical and principled demand of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). Tragically, others gave credence to the “humanitarian no fly zone,” if not to imperialist aid to overthrow Gadhafi.

Palestine’s plight deepens

While the Palestinian liberation struggle continues to inspire ever-mounting support around the world in direct proportion to the Zionist, racist, imperialist-backed Israeli state’s policy of essentially driving all Palestinians from their historic homeland, it is plagued by the same fundamental weaknesses that, over the course of the past year or so, undermined the mass working-class and popular power exhibited during the Arab Spring.

Absent a revolutionary leadership capable of challenging the bourgeois Palestinian parties and uniting the Palestinian working masses, and in the region more broadly, the desperate plight of the Palestinian people, despite heroic efforts to win international support, has no prospect of near-term resolution.

In the U.S., the Palestinian struggle has, at least among the broad antiwar and social justice forces, won a level of support that previously did not exist. At the recent national conference of UNAC, with 700 present, a resolution was unanimously approved demanding an end to all U.S. military, economic, and diplomatic aid to Israel and supporting campaigns for BDS—that is, boycotts, divestment, and sanctions.

Similarly, for the first time, serious discussions are underway regarding the validity of the “two-state solution.” The growing recognition that the ongoing moves to drive Palestinians from their historic homeland and reducing Palestinian lands to some 18 percent of the original 1947 Palestine increasingly had made “two-state solutions” ridiculous; the reality of disconnected and militarized “bantustans,” lacking any semblance of economic viability, has now made “two-state solutions” a horror to contemplate.

Facing the reality of what remains of Palestine today, it is only a matter of time until major organizations in the Palestinian community, as well as the broad solidarity/antiwar movement, take up in a serious manner the arguments for one or another variant of a democratic secular Palestine. The USPCN (U.S. Palestine Communities Network), a broad and prominent national organization, has already rejected the “two-state solution” in favor of a position closer to that of a democratic secular Palestine with equal rights for all, including the critical right of the dispossessed Palestinian Diaspora to return to their historic homeland.

The fate of the Palestinian people begins with their capacity to challenge and remove their bourgeois rulers and unify their struggle for self-determination—and continues uninterruptedly with the rise of the Arab revolution to challenge capitalist rule in the region, an example par excellence of Trotsky’s concept of permanent revolution—that is, in the modern era, there are no bourgeois solutions to national oppression.

Over the past year we have covered in great detail all of the struggles attendant to the Arab Spring and participated in innumerable U.S. protests in solidarity with the courageous Arab masses who challenged their U.S.-backed dictators at great risk. We have reported that the unexpected and massive mobilizations of the oppressed were in significant part a product of the mounting crisis of world capitalism and its need to take yet another pound of flesh from the already poverty-stricken Arab masses. In each case, we pointed to the potential power of workers and their allies in motion and to the absolute necessity of organizing this power through the formation of revolutionary socialist parties and associated mass organizations capable of posing the issue of workers’ power.

There are no shortcuts to this perspective, in the Middle East or in the U.S. Such shortcuts as were at one moment put forward by the majority current in the Fourth International leadership to the effect that the Mubarak regime should be replaced by one consisting of “all forces dedicated to democracy,” that is, a bourgeois-democratic regime as opposed to a bourgeois military dictatorship, have proven to be fruitless and a fundamental departure from our programmatic perspective of permanent revolution.

In every instance, from the risings in the Middle East, to the massive mobilizations in Latin America that brought to power the nationalist/populist regimes in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Argentina, bourgeois reformism in all its variations has again and again proved incapable of advancing the struggle for socialism. In every instance the bourgeois reformers have retarded such struggles—including absorbing “revolutionaries” who harbor illusions into the administration of the capitalist state.                   (continued next month)

Photo: Demonstrators battle police in Egypt during protests against new constitution.