New Internationalist Perspective Web Site

Internationalist Perspective is very pleased to announce the launch of our new web site. The new site is located at

http:// internationalistperspective. org/

In addition to a new layout, the new site features every issue of IP in a PDF format and allows for readers to directly comment on articles. We hope that this will lead to fruitful discussions.

Our old site is still online at

http://internationalist- perspective.org

and features material not yet transferred to the new site.

We look forward to comments and criticism.

With comradely greetings

Internationalist Perspective.

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This is What Democracy Looks Like

IP Statement on the US Election.

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE

A few questions linger after these elections. Such as: is the new US president a psychopath or is he a sociopath?

Whatever the correct diagnosis may be, it can’t be denied that his election testifies to a considerable increase of discontent, disaffection and anxiety in a broad swath of the American population. Trump won, by adding to the traditional Republican votes, those of many in the white working class, who in previous elections voted for Obama or not at all. Let’s not exaggerate his appeal: only a quarter of the eligible voters voted for him; his opponent in fact got at least a million votes more than him but, as you know, he won in the Electoral College. ‘That’s what democracy looks like’, as protesters (unintentionally ironically) shout in American streets, while they’re being chased by the armed protectors of the democratic state.

There are good reasons for discontent, disaffection and anxiety in the American working class. Because of the sharp competition on the global labor market and the unstoppable march of automation, more and more people are unsure whether they will have a job tomorrow, and in what conditions. Hidden unemployment is rampant. The gap between rich and poor grows. Around the world, wars and poverty create an endless stream of refugees. Climate disasters become worse and more frequent. And it won’t get better any time soon. According to a recent study, poverty and insecurity will increase sharply in the US in the coming years. [1]

One would think that this would make fertile ground for the left. But it is the right that conquers the imagination of the masses. The right, in an anti-elitist disguise. Of course, Trump did not appeal to the working class alone. He made sure to make enough reactionary promises to satisfy the core voting blocs of the Republican party, and enough assurances to the owners of capital (the stock market went up after his election). His authoritarian appeal cut across class divisions. Rampant anxiety and worries about globalization are not limited to the working class. The influx of migrants (which is the result of the poverty and disintegration that capitalism creates), terrorism (which is part of the wars capitalism generates), the rise of chaos and despair generated by this system in crisis, create fears that are fanned and exploited by politicians like Trump. In times of great confusion, decisiveness becomes very appealing to many. Decisive leaders rise to the top, because their belief is so strong that it inspires trust. But as the writer Kurt Vonnegut pointed out, these decisive leaders, “unlike normal people, are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don’t care what happens next.” That explains the success of madmen like Trump, Erdogan, Duterte, Orban and so on. Of course, Trump cares what happens next. He cares what happens next to Trump, but not what happens to you and me.

But to extend his appeal to the working class, his anti-elitist stance was essential. “This is not just a campaign”, Trump repeated over and over, “it is a movement. It is a revolt against the elite. We’ll drain the swamp in Washington”. Never mind that he himself is a proud member of the 1%, even of the 0,001%. So much the better, because it means “I know the system better than anyone;” as he often proclaimed, “that makes me into the only one who can fix it”. But he stood outside of it, so he proved with his language and attitude. He insulted the party bosses, he was rude, unpolished in a calculated way. Trump successfully framed the elections as a choice between an anti-politician and a paragon of the power-structure, between a real person and a professional liar, between change and continuity. In this election, almost all the flaws of the winner worked to his advantage. His lack of political experience, his limited knowledge, his crudeness, his prejudices, his boasting, his aggressiveness, his sexism and racism, his unfiltered emotional outbursts, his chilly relation with his party-leaders, his political uncorrectness, it all heightened the contrast with Clinton, that polished product of the Washington establishment, supported by Wall Street, by most of the media, by the movie and music stars, by the experts and most generals, by the trade unions and scores of other institutions.

The bulk of the American left supported Clinton as well, led by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Moore. Many were motivated by their revulsion of Trump’s sexism and racism. Still, it was remarkable how arduously the left campaigned for the candidate of Wall Street. Some on the left even uncritically circulated Democratic propaganda “proving” that, contrary to Trump’s claims, Americans never had it so good. Which alienated them even more from those who, in their own life, experienced something else.

Yet the same left helped to prepare the way for Trump. For many years, the unions have been saying that the root of all problems is not capitalism but unfair foreign competition. Opposition to trade-agreements was the main theme of Sanders, as it was for Trump. No wonder almost a fifth of those who voted for Sanders in the primaries later chose Trump. Sanders’ message, just as much as Trump’s, was “America First”. Let’s keep our factories to ourselves. Despite all their differences, Trump and Sanders share an essentially capitalist, nationalist vision, based on the conflict of interest between “our” capital and theirs. [2]

It may have been that Sanders would have won if he would have been Trump’s opponent. His angry tone, his unpolished demeanor, his message of “change” might have fared better than Clinton’s promise to keep up the good work. But, despite the fact that Sanders would have been as little a threat to capital as Tsipras in Greece, the time for a left wing president in the US had not yet arrived. There were no mass movements to contain, no mood of class revolt to be calmed. The Democratic machine felt sure that the center would hold.

Trump’s triumph sowed panic in the left. “It’s the end of an era!” “Within a year, America will be a smoldering ruin!” “It won’t take six months before he starts a war!” and other dire warnings circulated wildly on ‘social media’. Even a pro-revolutionary group like the Marxist Humanist Initiative was caught up in the anti-Trump hysteria. “The whole world has been turned upside down”, it proclaimed on its website, exhorting its readers to fight, not against capitalism but against “Trumpism”.

Let’s take a deep breath.

Trump made a lot of promises. To the working class, he promised to bring back “the good jobs”; stable, well paid employment “like it used to be”. He promised good times, not just in the metropoles of the East and West coasts, where economic conditions have somewhat improved, but in the rust belt, in the vast areas of the country were the prospects of working people are somber. How is he going to do that? By scrapping trade-agreements, raising tariffs, deporting undocumented immigrants and launching infrastructural projects such as his famous wall on the border with Mexico. Indeed, a distasteful recipe. But will the soup be as hot when it’s eaten as when it was served during the campaign?

The president of the US is a powerful person and yet also nothing more than a cog in a machine. He can’t change the inherent dynamic of the machine. That’s why globalization and automation will continue under president Trump as well. Capital seeks profit. That is the ground principle that every manager of capital must heed. Globalization and automation are the means to increase profits in our times. But they also bring capitalism’s crisis to the fore: its productive capacity outruns its capacity to consume productively, its drive to lower labor costs tendentially reduces the source of its profit: the exploitation of labor power. Crisis is the result, as well in the form of sudden collapses with paralyzing effects as through a slowly creeping erosion of value, including the value of workers. With devastating effects. No wonder there is nostalgia, and not just in the working class, for a time when globalization and automation were not yet buzz words, for those prosperous post- world war decades, which Trump so skillfully exploited.

This also means that it will become quickly clear that Trump’s promises are nothing more than cynical lies. The “good jobs” he promised to coal miners, auto workers and steel workers, are not coming back. There is more steel being produced in the US than ever, but with only a small fraction of the work force than before. There’s no turning back. Neither will the undocumented immigrants disappear. They are too valuable as a cheap labor source. Who else will wash the windows of Trump tower or mow the grass of his golf courses or make the beds in his hotels for a measly wage? Even his great wall will probably never be built.

What promises will he keep? Even under the unlikely assumption that he meant everything he said during the campaign, his dependence on the Republican establishment, dominant in Congress, would prevent him from major deviations from the bipartisan common course, such as pulling out of NATO, scrapping NAFTA, or becoming too cozy with Russia.

Some lesser changes are possible of course. He may resist new free trade-agreements. He may cut a deal with Russia on Syria and may become more confrontational with China. He may weaken the already very weak measures taken on climate change. When he scraps TPP and takes measures to boost domestic manufacturing, the left will be in the embarrassing position of having to applaud him.

Trump, Sanders and Clinton all promised a major increase of spending on infrastructure. Trump also promised tax cuts, especially to the rich. This means a continuation, even an increase, of budget deficits. It shows capitalism has nothing new to offer to address its crisis. More debt will be piled on the existing ones, the can will be kicked down the road. A new “great recession” is probably not far away.

It seems likely that there will be a lot of turmoil in both major American parties. To the degree Trump would stray from the Republican mainstream, conflicts within the party would multiply. The Democrats will be divided as well, like the Labour Party in the UK: its left wing, unrestrained by governmental responsibility, will feel free to “radicalize” in an attempt to shore up its image. Others, the more “moderates”, will see an opportunity in the rightward swing of the Republicans to occupy the center and reconquer power.

Demonizing Trump will be one of the ways in which the left will put on a radical face. Some of them are comparing Trump to Hitler, warning that this could be the last election in the US, like Hitler’s was the last one in Germany. But Trump is no Hitler. Not even a Mussolini, although his facial expressions sometimes bear an uncanny resemblance to those of Il Duce. There will be more elections. Trump is a democrat, and we don’t mean that as a compliment. Democracy is the most fitting form of government for a developed capitalist society.

A better comparison would be Andrew Jackson, the US president from 1829 to 1837, which also was a time of great turmoil. Jackson, aka “Old Hickory,” campaigned as the embodiment of the backwoodsman “cracker” spirit, as his critics put it, even though by the time he was elected he had become a slave-owning planter just like the wealthy elites who had bamboozled or bullied so many freeholders out of their small plots. He lacked “statesmanlike qualities” but the fact that “Jackson did not look or act like a conventional politician was a fundamental part of his appeal”, the historian Nancy Isenberg writes [3]. “He was boastful and overbearing, not “a government minion or a pampered courtier,” an outsider who promised to clean up Washington corruption by the bluntest methods available. As one of his enemies wrote, “boisterous in ordinary conversation, he makes up in oaths what he lacks in arguments.” He was “quick to resent any who disagreed with him,” and “eschewed reasoned debate in favor of challenging his opponents to duels”.

Sounds familiar?

Just like Trump he was anti-political correct, a megalomaniac, crude and aggressive. Like Trump, he won thanks to the support of white working class voters. Like Trump, he was generous with populist promises which he neither could nor wanted to fulfill.

To keep the support of his working class voters when it became clear that he had sold them out, Jackson needed an enemy, an “other” to scapegoat, to unite the country against. The victims at hand were the native Americans, those “barbarians”. His brutal Native American removal policy, in which thousands died, made him popular again.

It is not too far-fetched to expect Trump to choose the same tactic when the emptiness of his promises becomes clear. There are plenty of potential targets to canalize the frustrations to, as Trump already demonstrated during the election campaign. It remains to be seen which one becomes Trump’s favorite enemy. And it remains to be seen whether the Jackson tactic will work today.

Trump’s success is not a uniquely American phenomenon. But his victory encourages brutal leaders around the world and gives wind in the sails to right wing populists in Europe and elsewhere, who ride the same wave of anxiety and discontent. Meanwhile, the left in power, ranging from the “socialist” Hollande in France to Tsipras in Greece and Maduro in Venezuela, amply prove that they have no solutions either for the cataclysms generated by capitalism’s crisis.

How worrisome is this rightward swing?

It is not the lack of success of the left that is worrisome, but the lack of real resistance where it counts: in the work places, the schools, the streets.

The capitalist class keeps us mesmerized by its awesome battles between left and right and center, by the spectacle of democracy. This year: more gripping than ever! You can’t look away! Every vote counts! Regardless of the outcome, the elections were “a great teaching moment”, as Obama said. A great propaganda campaign for democracy, which reduces the possibility of real change to the ballot box, which can only produce different managers of capitalism, but never end capitalism, while capitalism is the root of the problems which those managers pretend they will resolve.

Real change can only come from resistance to capitalism, from refusing its logic. This decade started hopefully, with the Arab Spring, the strike waves in Asia, in Greece and in France, the movements of the indignados and Occupy…. Despite their weaknesses, they testified to a growing belief in the possibility of an alternative to the horrible, insane world we live in. The tide was turned through outright repression, and the whole toolbox of capitalist propaganda: nationalism, ethnic pride, religion, racism, democracy and fear. The very effects of capitalism (war, poverty and the resulting rising stream of refugees) proved helpful in making people accept the strengthening of the capitalist state.

Poverty, wars, dislocation, massive migration will continue, since they are the logical outcome of the inherent dynamic of capitalism. But that they would continue to be as useful to divide the exploited and the oppressed, is not a given. History does not follow a straight course. We may be “in the calm before the storm”, in which the will to survive will overcome the divisions created amongst us. It’s not a certainty. But it’s a possibility.

INTERNATIONALIST PERSPECTIVE

[1] See: . http://www.cbsnews.com/news/80-percent-of-us-adults-face-near-poverty-unemployment-survey-finds/2/

[2] Similarly, “Occupy Wall Street”, that is the leftists who still use the name of the movement, even though it is a mantle on a corpse, devoted at least 95% of its mailings in the past years to opposition to the TPP free trade-agreement.

[3] Nancy Isenberg: WHITE TRASH: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Viking 2016

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Internationalist Perspective # 61

Now available on our site the 61st issue of our magazine.
The new issue includes the following articles

Editorial: Imagine
Down with these Flags
The Global Pressure Cooker
Rojava in the Vortex of Inter-Imperialist Antagonisms
Internationalist Perspective–The World As We See It: Reference Points
The Economy in the Transition to a “Communist” Society Critique of the theses of the GIK and “labor coupons” (Excerpts from an exchange with
Kees)

Only in PDF format for now, an HTML version will be on-line soon.

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The Night Arisen Movement

What follows is a short text by RV, a comrade from France. Nuit debout certainly appears to respond to a growing discontent and questioning, as did the other earlier movements to
which R.V. refers. The question is, as he says, to see the movement spread
to the working class itself, but especially to go beyond calls for “real
democracy” (whatever that means) and forge a direct link between the growing
precarité and the laws of motion of capital itself: to shift the discussion
from the absence of democracy to the abolition of value and its social
forms.

The Night Arisen [Nuit Debout] Movement

Thousands of people discussing the need to go beyond the present social organization (political, economic), in the center of a major Western capital, is obviously in itself something eminently positive.

The fact that in the initiative of the occupation movement of Republic Square there have been members of organizations such as Attac, the Left Front or “real democracy now” does not mean that it is a simple manipulation by the most “radical” elements of the ruling political apparatus (1). Whatever the views and projects of these political forces does not change the depth of discontent, disgust and revolt that are expressed in the general meetings or in discussion groups in the occupied places.

The success of the movement, its duration, its extension to dozens of cities in France and the manifestations of solidarity at the international level shows that it expresses a real and deep need for meeting, reflection, action against a system that leads to disaster. If the starting point of the mobilization was the bill on labor, it is significant that most interventions in general assemblies and discussion groups are at a deeper level, more general, often questioning the capitalist system itself and its political forms.

Although discussions sometimes seem to get lost in “democratic” formalism, there is the more generalized conviction that society can no longer be governed as before, from top to bottom, and that it is a question of learning in practice to do otherwise. The practices of the new communication technologies there is for something. We find the same spirit as in the “Squares” movements, the “Arab Spring,” the Indignados in Spain, Occupy in the US, Syntagma Square in Athens, or the mobilization in Turkey in 2013.

But just as the Occupy movements of the past, it comes up against the limits of its inability to extend to the world of production and so-called “popular” neighborhoods. It confronts the wall of the reality of the dictatorship of capital over labor, paralyzed, and divided, by the threat of unemployment and the pressure of insecurity [precarity]. Adding to this are the trade union machines that do everything to maintain control over “their troops” and take a very dim view of the state of mind of these “autonomous” movements.

The Indignados in Spain in 2011, after having successively put forward and in part carried out the slogans “Toma [Take over] las plazas” and “Toma los barrios”, proclaimed “Toma las fábricas” [factories]. But it came to nothing. It was the same for Occupy Oakland on the West Coast of the United States (October 2011) which tried to intervene in the fight of the port workers.

As long as the extension of the movement to the real world of production and the [working class] “neighborhoods” is not achieved, the assemblies are sooner or later doomed to talk in terms of complaints and abstract projects, which is though not useless, on the contrary, but which is insufficient to maintain the vitality of the movement. Sometimes the assemblies are lost in the reports of commissions and the details of democratic functioning, which resemble a squirrel on a tread mill in its cage ….
Fortunately the awareness of the need for this [process of] extension onto the structures of the material life of capitalism”, to use an expression of Maxime, is generally present in the assemblies, and those of Nuit Debout are no exception.

But it must still be realized in practice] ….

Whatever its weaknesses, its stammering, the attempts at its manipulation, the current social mobilization in France is important and deserves not only our interest but our participation.

R.V. April 12, 2016

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Rojava in the Vortex of Inter-Imperialist Antagonisms

This article will appear in the forthcoming issue of Internationalist Perspective

Over the past several years Rojava or Western Kurdistan, legally a part of Syria, has been seen by many anarchists, libertarians, and even Marxists as the locus of a social revolution, one that demands solidarity on the part of revolutionaries, all the more so as it has been the object of brutal military assaults, first from Daesch (the Islamic State), and now from Erdogan’s Turkey. Inasmuch as the Middle-East today is literally on fire, the scene of vicious ethnic and religious cleansing, and bloody battles between rival imperialist states and armies, it is important to determine whether we are seeing a mortal threat to capital, an anti-capitalist commune OR an inter-imperialist bloodbath in which the population has been mobilized to serve the interests of capitalism.

For the past several years, as Syria has collapsed into civil war fueled by the intervention of imperialist states (Iran, Turkey, Russia and the US), Rojava has been under the control of the PYD and its fighters (the YPG), the Syrian offshoot of the PKK (The Kurdish Workers Party (sic.)), led by Abdullah Öcalan. Originally a Maoist, now in Turkish incarceration, Öcalan has had a prison conversion, and under the influence of the writings of the American libertarian, Murray Bookchin, has reinvented himself as a partisan of “communalism” and “Democratic Confederalism.” Suffice it to say that whether paying obeisance to Chairman Mao or to “libertarian municipalism” Öcalan, and Öcalan alone (his photograph is on virtually every “public” space in Rojava) rules; his word is law, and in Rojava, as secretly in much of the Kurdish regions of Turkey itself (at least by night), the Kurdish Workers Party rules. In Rojava the PYD has built a one-party state. The nature of the “democracy” to which the partisans of the PYD, both in the West and in Rojava, point, is no different – slogans aside – from that of the “people’s democracies” in the Stalinist bloc during the cold war. Indeed even the feminism to which its partisans also point, with its women “warriors,” hair flowing in the wind, gun in hand, bears an uncanny resemblance to those photos of La Pasiónaria on the front page of the Stalinist press in 1936, which Russian imperialism used so well to mobilize public support. The fact that Rojava itself has been brutally attacked by both IS and by The Turkish AK regime of Erdogan, cannot be the basis for any kind of revolutionary defencism, as so many in the libertarian “world” are calling for. The class line in an inter-imperialist war is not based on which side fired the first shot; on whose troops crossed the border first or started the war, or even the particular brutality of one or the other of the combatant armies. On such a basis, revolutionaries will always have to choose one capitalist state, one imperialist bloc, or the other, thereby guaranteeing the victory and consolidation of capitalism; and thereby precluding any possibility of either resistance to its power, or to articulating a political position that might become a basis for actual resistance to imperialism on both sides of the front line.

Is the Kurdish nationalism of the PKK/PYD, different from the Kurdish nationalism of Iraqi Kurdistan and Masoud Barzani? Certainly the ideology is different. In Iraqi Kurdistan capitalism has become a mantra in what is now a de facto American protectorate, and military base, where it is politically difficult to distinguish between the Kurdish Peschmerga, armed and equipped by the US, and the American special ops and troops based in Erbil. Yet apart from the Western “tourists” who in the recent past came to Rojava to see a “libertarian commune” in practice, Rojava too is full of CIA agents and American special ops. Indeed, when IS threatened to capture the Kurdish stronghold of Kobane, it was American air power that saved the town for the PYD. Neither in its Kurdish nationalism nor in its mobilization for inter-imperialist war at the side of the US can one make a distinction in class nature between Rojava and Erbil!

Today, the clash between imperialist states and their local allies has turned the Middle East into a veritable charnel house, in which the acclaim for Rojava can no longer be seen as naïve or politically innocent, but rather as a descent into the ideological vortex of imperialism itself, for which excuses are no longer possible. So, let us take a look at the rapidly deepening clash between rival imperialisms in the Middle East, where allies can become enemies on the turn of a dime, starting with the clash between Russian and American imperialism in the region. Putin’s Russia has a foothold in Middle East by way of its naval bases and air fields in Assad’s Syria, dominated by the Alawite minority, whose defense is essential to the retention of Russian influence and power in the region, and to its close relationship with Shiite Iran. The US has now come to see IS as a serious threat to its own power in the region, even at the “cost” of propping up the Shia government in Iraq. Indeed, though it is too early to tell, the possibility exists that the Iran nuclear deal could at some point in the not too distant future begin a process of détente with Teheran, particularly if Washington’s traditional Sunni allies (Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan) remain unwilling to take the lead and provide the ground forces to crush IS. The growing disenchantment of America with its Sunni allies, applies to Sunni Turkey, and the Erdogan government too, which sees Assad’s Syrian regime as an enemy to be destroyed, along with the Kurdish nationalism that threatens the very territorial integrity of Turkey in its Eastern provinces, the same Kurdish nationalism that is a lynchpin of American strategy in Iraq and Syria. Into that tangled skein Erdogan has now sent his troops across the border into Rojava to perhaps crush the PYD and YPG there, and at the same time both challenge Syrian claims to sovereignty, as well as Ankara’s traditional enemy Russia, the protector of Assad. And, at the same time Russia and the US are seeking a “ceasefire” in Syria, which it hopes would permit Russia to attack IS, even as Assad, with Russian aid, seems to be reclaiming Aleppo, and now perhaps Idlib too, thereby turning the tide in that protracted civil war through the mass killing of their civilian populations by relentless Russian bombing. History is replete with dramatic turns in inter-imperialist conflicts, and we just might be on the cusp of one now.

Whatever turns there might be, however, one thing is clear: those who insist on seeing Rojava through the lens of social revolution are blinding themselves to the ongoing inter-imperialist slaughter which quite literally shapes events there on the ground. When you’re supporting the same side as the CIA, do you really need Google map to tell you that you’ve crossed the class line?

Mac Intosh

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IP Reference Text Discussion

IP’s new reference text is being discussed on Libcom. To follow or participate in the discussion, follow this link.

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RV on Labor Vouchers

The following link is to a reply by RV on labor vouchers. The piece is a little long to post here, but can be found on IP’s site.

The Economy in the Transition to a ‘Communist” Society

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New Internationalist Perspective Reference Text

After a considerable amount of work, edits, discussion, arguments and collaboration, Internationalist Perspective is proud to announce the publication of a new reference text for the organization.

The text is now available on our site and we hope it will generate discussion and debate. The text is currently only available in English, but it will soon appear in French and in Spanish.

Here’s the link. Internationalist Perspective The World as we See it: Reference Points

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Down With These Flags !

“Allons enfants de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé…”

(“Let’s go, children of the fatherland, the day of glory has arrived…” –the opening of the ‘Marseillaise, the French national anthem)

The Marseillaise is popular again. The bloodthirsty song rises again from thousands of throats on French squares, before sport events and concerts, in the Sorbonne and in the parliament: “Amour sacré de la patrie, conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs!” (“Sacred love of the fatherland, lead, support our vengeful arms!”) On Facebook a campaign was started to exhort users all over the world to change their profile in the colors of the French national flag.

Do not sing the Marseillaise.

Do not change your FB profile into the colors of the French national flag.

Do not fall in the trap of the war-mongering media.

The terrorist attacks in Paris were horrific and repulsive. But nationalism is not the answer; it spreads the poison further. It may be true that most people who now sing the Marseillaise, or change their FB-profile into the French colors, only want to express their solidarity with the victims. But at a moment like this, it is important to know what the symbols, around which we are asked to close ranks, represent. Under the French tricolor, millions were sent to their death, in wars for worse than nothing. Under this banner, atrocities were committed (in Algeria and elsewhere) that were even worse than those of ISIS, while singing the Marseillaise: “Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons!” (“May their impure blood water our furrows!”)

We don’t want to single out France: other national flags and anthems are equally blood-drenched. ISIS itself is not a religious movement; it simply uses religion as a flag and anthem to recruit cannon-fodder for its real goal: to control territory, to gain power, to amass capital. It seizes opportunities arising in the context of war and economic crisis in the Middle East to establish its own state. A state at war, and in war, as the history of France, the US, Germany and just about any other country illustrates: all is permitted.

What did ISIS have to gain from the attacks in Paris? Continuous recruitment is essential for the so-called Islamic state, it needs it to wage war and to control its territory. The attacks favor its recruitment in two ways: first, as a demonstration of power, which increases its appeal for young people who feel angry and powerless. Secondly, the attacks fan the hatred of Muslims and thus the ill treatment of Muslims, pushing more of them into the tentacles of ISIS. Furthermore, ISIS needs to stop the exodus of refugees out of Syria. It cannot permit the emptying of the territory it controls or wants to conquer. Contrary to what’s often claimed, it does not get its main income from oil-exports or from Saudi subsidies but from the exploitation, in various ways, of the population in the areas it controls. So those who use the attacks to fan hatred for Islam and to keep the refugees out, do exactly what ISIS hoped they would do.

The problem is not Islam. The global system is in crisis and this crisis creates situations in which waging war becomes very profitable. The warring parties feed on each other. The civilian casualties of drones and missiles feed the Islamist propaganda; the Islamist atrocities feed the belligerent, nationalist, anti-other ideologies in the West which prepare the way for more war.

The first thing president Hollande did after the attacks was to send planes to bombard Raqqa, a large city that is said to be the capital of the IS. One wonders: had these planes “clean” military targets for what became the largest bombardment of Raqqa so far? If so, why weren’t they hit before? And if they were not, how many civilians were killed in Raqqa? Will the media tell us? Will there be a campaign on Facebook to put the flag of ISIS on our profile, in solidarity with the innocent victims that fell on its territory? Or will the mangled corpses only be seen on the Islamist social media?

Revenge. Reprisal. Retaliation. The deeper the crisis becomes, the more we risk to see of it. The wars, the terrorist attacks, the massive unemployment and uncertainty, the ecological catastrophes, the swelling stream of refugees, all show that the systemic, global crisis of capitalism brings with it ever more social disruption, violence and destruction. The real problem is in society’s foundations and as long as they remain intact –as long as capitalism survives- the spiral will only widen.

Changing the foundations , changing the purpose and means of human relations, ending capitalism, can only come as a result of massive collective struggle, which does not exist today. Nobody knows what the future will bring. But we do know it’s not written yet. What we do or don’t matters. It matters that we don’t passively accept the logic of capital. It matters that we refuse to sing the national anthem together with those who exploit and oppress us. It matters that we stand in solidarity with the victims of wars and terrorist attacks, whether they are French or Turk, Arab or Jew, black or white, without embracing any of the war-making parties. It matters that we raise our voices against the calls to close borders, erect walls, keep out refugees, and engage in more war. It matters that we say no! to more control, more police violence, more austerity in the name of national security. It matters that we refuse to help dig our own graves. It matters that we demonstrate that none of the problems facing society can be solved within capitalism. It matters that we speak, in the rivulets of revolt, of the power of the stream they could become.

INTERNATIONALIST PERSPECTIVE

To read this text in French – visit IP’s site for a translation

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On the Attacks in France

Here is a text sent by a friend in France shorty after the terrorist attacks this past Friday, in English translation and the French original. Its class opposition to the calls for “national unity” is striking!

IP

Friday, November 13, 2015: MORE THAN EVER, WE MUST REJECT NATIONAL UNITY!

130 dead and countless wounded traumatized for life by the Parisian night of horror they experienced last Friday, November 13, 2015. That night of horror took place a few hundred meters from the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, where the cartoonists, Cabu, Charb, Wolinski, Honoré and Tignous had been murdered. It followed after 240 Russian tourists had been blown up by Al Qaeda or Daech over the Sinai.

This is not “artisanal” terrorism, but a guerrilla war behind the fronts between different capitalist states, large or small, whatever their ideology, jihadist, “democratic”, “totalitarian” “pan-Turkish” or “pan-Arab”.

This is not a war between the Islamic State (Daech) and the West, still less a clash of civilizations, and certainly not a new religious war on a global scale, mediated in macabre staging shots (beheadings, blasting the site of Palmyra, and the crucifixion of its archaeologist).

The war is now a given in a globally ubiquitous system in crisis: economic crisis, ecological crisis of the capitalist environment, mass migrations (driven by war or environmental disasters), decomposition of weaker states, civil wars repeatedly in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia (Afghanistan, Chinese Turkestan).

The new drawing of borders in the Near and Middle East after the US intervention in Iraq in 2003 is ongoing, punctuated by suicide bombings, the “sabers” of jihad, of aerial bombardments (Turkish, Russian, Western, in Syria and Iraq, Saudi in Yemen) and drone attacks, as well as military engagements on land, where yesterday’s enemies (Iranians, Russians, American commandos) are jumbled together.

This is no longer a war where the “theater of operations”, are far away, that expression dear to all the general staffs deciding whether to kill or destroy the few actors or the entire ‘theater’.

This war exists everywhere on this whole planet living through a veritable death agony. And all are responsible: States large and small, or in gestation, whatever their ideology, all hiding their war aims under a religious phraseology of “holy war”, “democratic” war against “terrorism” or even – ” Please do not laugh! “- “humanitarian “war” against “terrorism” (from Putin Iranian Ayatollahs, whose emblem is the hangman).

Death exists now everywhere, not just in Paris, South Beirut, over the Sinai. There is no corner of this planet that in the coming decade cannot become a “theater of operations” of a capitalism spewing death.

The victory of terrorism and “democracies” or capitalist dictatorships (China, Russia) would be to present these attacks, including those in Paris, as just appetizers as in an ideological war. All these states, big, small or emerging (like Daech) are capitalist states. Their goal is to preserve, strengthen or develop through war their national Capital. Behind their Bible or Koran, there are the tablets of capitalist law: you kill until you have eliminated all your adversaries or competitors; you shall love your enemies as yourself once they have adopted or prostrated before the Mecca’s of Capital, adopting the holy laws of capital (private property, a commodity economy, creation-destruction of Nature as a commodity).

After the attacks, the speeches are, just as at the time of the attack against Charlie Hebdo, all about “national unity”, the “sacred union” [union sacrée].

The proletariat, which is by definition the anti-national, the universal class, (“proletarians have no fatherland”) can give only one answer: class war against all forms of capitalism, regardless of their labels on all class fronts against capital and its bourgeois, large and small, whether they wear the garb of the City or of Jihad.

Only the rapid awakening of the international proletariat can prevent the triumph of national unity on all the war fronts, which would lead to only one outcome: repeated local wars leading to a generalized conflict.

Acceptance of national union, in France or elsewhere, is acceptance of a programmed capitalist death. Those who adhere like sheep ready to deliver themselves to the sacrificial knife of capital would be better to buy their coffin in advance. Sales promotions under capitalism are a particularly good buy ….

Karlchen

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VENDREDI 13 NOVEMBRE 2015 : PLUS QUE JAMAIS, IL FAUT REFUSER L’UNITÉ NATIONALE !

130 morts et d’innombrables blessés traumatisés à vie par la nuit d’horreur parisienne qu’ils ont vécue hier vendredi 13 novembre 2015. Cette nuit d’horreur s’est déroulée à quelques centaines de mètres du journal Charlie Hebdo, où périrent les caricaturistes Cabu, Charb, Wolinski, Honoré et Tignous. Elle survient quelque temps après que 240 touristes russes eurent été explosés par Al Qaida ou Daech au-dessus du Sinaï.

Il ne s’agit plus d’un terrorisme artisanal, mais d’une guerre de guérilla menée sur les arrières des fronts entre les différents États capitalistes, petits ou grands, quelle que soit leur idéologie : djihadiste, «démocratique», «totalitaire», «panturque» ou «panarabe».

Il ne s’agit pas d’une guerre entre l’État islamique (Daech) et l’Occident, encore moins d’un conflit de civilisations, et certainement pas d’une nouvelle guerre de religion à l’échelle planétaire, médiatisée à coups de macabres mises en scène (décapitations, dynamitage du site de Palmyre et crucifixion de son archéologue).

La guerre est maintenant une donnée omniprésente dans un système mondialement en crise : crise économique, crise écologique de l’environnement capitaliste, migrations massives (entraînées par la guerre ou les désastres écologiques), décomposition des États les plus faibles, guerres civiles à répétition au Moyen Orient, Afrique, en Asie centrale (Afghanistan, Turkestan chinois).

Le nouveau dessin des frontières au Proche et au Moyen-Orient après l’intervention américaine en Irak de 2003 est en cours d’exécution, à coups de ceintures explosives, de «sabres» du djihad, de bombardements (turcs, russes, occidentaux en Syrie et en Irak, saoudiens au Yémen) et de drones, d’engagements militaires au sol où sont mêlés les ennemis d’hier (Iraniens, Russes, commandos américains).

Il ne s’agit plus d’une guerre sur un «théâtre d’opération» éloigné, cette expression chère aux étatsmajors de tous bords décidant s’il faut tuer quelques acteurs ou détruire le «théâtre» tout entier.

La guerre rode partout sur l’ensemble de cette planète vivant une véritable agonie. Et tous sont responsables : les États petits et grands, ou en gestation, quelle que soit leur idéologie, tous camouflant leurs buts de guerre sous une phraséologie religieuse de « guerre sainte», «démocratique» contre le «terrorisme», ou même – « Prière de ne pas rire ! » – «humanitaire» contre le terrorisme (de Poutine aux ayatollahs iraniens, dont l’emblème est la grue de pendaison).

La mort rode maintenant partout, et pas seulement à Paris, à Beyrouth-Sud, au-dessus du Sinaï. Il n’y a aucun coin de cette planète qui ne devienne dans la décennie à venir un « théâtre d’opération » d’un capitalisme à l’agonie.

La victoire du terrorisme et des « démocraties » ou dictatures capitalistes (Chine, Russie) serait de présenter ces attentats dont ceux de Paris ne sont qu’un hors-d’œuvre comme une guerre

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d’idéologie. Tous ces Etats, petits ou grands ou en gestation (comme Daech) sont des Etats capitalistes. Leur but est de préserver, de renforcer ou de développer par la guerre leur Capital national. Derrière leur Bible ou leur Coran, il y a les tables de la loi capitaliste : tu tueras jusqu’à ce que tu aies éliminé tous tes concurrents ou adversaires; tu aimeras tes ennemis comme toi-même dès qu’ils auront adopté ou se seront prosternés en direction des mecques du Capital, adoptant les saintes lois du capital (propriété privée, économie mercantile, création-destruction de la NatureMarchandise).

Après ces attentats, le discours est, comme au moment de l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo, l’«union nationale», l’«union sacrée ».

Le prolétariat, qui est la classe universelle antinationale par définition (« les prolétaires n’ont pas de patrie») ne peut donner qu’une seule réponse : guerre de classe contre tous les capitalismes, quelle que soit leurs étiquettes sur tous les fronts de classe contre le capital et ses bourgeois, grands ou petits, en costume de la City ou du Djihad.

Seul le réveil rapide du prolétariat international peut empêcher que le triomphe de l’unité nationale sur tous les fronts de la guerre mène à une seule issue : l’embrasement généralisé de guerres locales à répétition vers un conflit généralisé.

L’acceptation de l’union nationale, en France ou ailleurs est l’acceptation d’un mort capitaliste programmée. Ceux qui y adhèrent comme des moutons prêts à se livrer au couteau sacrificiel du capital feraient mieux d’acheter leur cercueil d’avance. Les promotions commerciales sous le capitalisme sont particulièrement avantageuses…

KARLCHEN

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