fragmentos (community)

17th January 2016, 12:49
unmod me please

Originally Posted by Thirsty Crow View Post
That's the only part that can be construed as "support" in any way, even though it isn't clear what kind of support that would be - or if it is any meaningful kind of support - due to the scare quotes. In fact, this is probably one consistent application of the logic of anti-imperialist politics and the understanding of imperialism ("imperialist coalition") which is widely shared on this site. So in all probability all this amounts to is Daesh attacks imperialists and weakens imperialists and people refuse to condemn some of these attacks.

One problem is that the ICL is the kind of cult that issues pretentious proclamations about all kinds of subjects, as if their opinion not only mattered, but was going to have a decisive impact in how future events will display. Evidently they are busy handing leaflets about the right of North Korea's insane dictatorship to keep and bear arms of mass destruction, and cannot for the foreseeable future do anything to help Daesh do anything, except by libeling Kurdish guerillas.

"Consistency", of course, is overrated. But yes, the main difference between our Arab co-posters getting infuriated because a "consistent" "anti-imperialist" line may mean support for a far-right armed gang that beheads and shoots their real life friends and relatives, and my own reaction when I read Trotsky on his support for the murderous anti-communist dictatorship of Vargas is that unfortunately Daesh isn't past history, but everyday news.

It's a farce to regard that as cheerleading. Be that as it may, the announcement is clear and I've no intention of disputing that, but what needs to be addressed is this horrible way this was done, including a bait thread (if it wasn't a bait thread, that trainwreck a) ought to be closed down with an elaboration of the announcement and/or b) people shouldn't have been banned retroactively). In fact, the way this was dealt with was also completely farcical.

Yes, that's more or less like it is. These guys are a cult, and at least one of their positions - their borderline apology of pedophilia - is, for several different reasons, truly unacceptable here. They had managed to conceal that position for some time, and I guess this was irritating the BA; the new rule equating Daesh to fascism then likely provided a pretext for their ban. I won't shed blood tears for those authoritarian imbeciles and Stalinism tailers, but it is difficult not to see how precedent can come out of this that will further hurt revleft.

After all, while the ICL is an awesome caricature of a left-wing cult, it remains true that most of the "revolutionary" left is composed by small cults that differ from the ICL more on degree than in actual substance - authoritarian, unaccountable, secretive structures with little or no contact with actual class struggle, that issue communiqués about subjects they have absolutely no way to influence.


11th January 2016, 12:45
On fascism and similar movements, and our policies regarding them

Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
There is, I think, a huge problem with equating Daesh or Wahhabism or political Islam in general to fascism. We did, after all, ally with outright imperialist and otherwise reactionary forces, such as the United States, the British Empire, Gaullism, Polish nobility, etc. I am far from sure that such an alliance is acceptable against Daesh or Saudi Arabia, and I don't think we can rely on contingent facts such as "at the moment, American imperialism shows no sign of political rupture towards Saudi Arabia". That could change at any moment (and yes, I think we should help it happening, if by no other means, at least shaming the US government for their actual support of "terrorists" under the disguise of "moderates").

And it is difficult for me to reatroctively absolve Third-periodism or ultra-left refusal to a common front against Nazism; I don't want to be entangled between positions such as "rhetorical support for ISIS", "tailing imperialism and supporting intervention against Daesh", and "opposing both by doing nothing, and thus objectively helping fascism by omission".

If we are not willing to ally with American, British, French imperialism against Daesh, I think we are not able to take the equating Daesh with fascism to its logical consequences. And if we are not able to take the equating of Daesh with fascism to its logical consequences, then I think we should not take it into the logical consequence of banning people who express critical support for the result of some of Daesh actions.

Either that, or we transform these forums into a place where only "left communists" and the appropriate brands of anarchism are allowed (which is, only those who are prepared to say that fascist expansionist attacks beyond German/Italian borders should not be resisted arms in hands), implying the collective banning of all tankies and Trotskyists, most Marxists and most anarchists.


7th January 2016, 10:38

Originally Posted by CyM View Post
To be clear, I'm trying to write out a perspective on where the arab revolution has gone, and the counterrevolution that has grown out of its dead end.
Mkay, your post seems to be a good starting point. You seem to give a quite well structured account of the "Arab revolution" and the following counterrevolution.

In my opinion, Islamism is a regional form of Fascism, as it has always reared its ugly head as a militia formed to fight the revolutionary masses, and it has made gains only insofar as the revolution has been weakened by the lack of a sense of direction and purpose.

Those are certainly important characteristics of fascism. However, fascism, at least in its classical forms, also features other characteristics that (or so I think) are not present in Daesh/Wahhabism/political Islam. Fascism revolves around national grievances, usually the perception that a given nation was not given "what it deserves" within the existing international order. Political Islam, in its Al Qaida/ISIS version (which is what we are discussing here, I suppose - or is the Iranian version at stake too?) at least, seems to lack this, being instead overtly supranational.

Related to this, fascism is usually a geopolitical proposal about territory, and, as such, more or less inextricably linked to ethnical cleansing or, at least, ethnical hierarchisation of conquered territory. I also think that Daesh or Wahhabism lack this, at least in the present stage of their development, where they do not control ethnically diverse territory. It seems to be, at least in theory, trans-territorial and trans-ethnic, and very little concerned with geopolitics. (In this sense, it is closer to the "Western" caricature of Nazism itself: Hitler as the mastermind of a conspiracy intended to "conquer the world" instead of, as in reality was, a mere trust to conquer Lebensraum in European Russia. In terms of analogy, ISIS resembles more - ridiculous as it is to say that - Lex Luthor or Goldfinger than the NSDAP.)

There are three major turning points in the rise of this Fascism in the middle east:

1: The failure of the colonial revolution, which in the middle east mostly took the form of stalinist or left-bourgeois nationalist officers' coups or guerilla movements. This includes the revolutions (top down or otherwise) in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, Algeria and Afghanistan (we'll use a larger definition of middle east here for ease).

I am reminded of the 18th Brummaire: history repeats itself as a farce. The failed German revolution was a proletarian revolution, which failed at taking power. The "colonial revolution" was successful in taking power (most those countries were eventually lead by "revolutionary" governments at one point or other of their respective histories) but infinitely more modest in its goals, which basically where to foster an autochthonous capitalist development, whether explicitly recognised as such or fantasised as "socialism". Such mock revolutions, it seems, can be only be succeeded by a mock "fascism", even though this would be a bloody farce.

Out of these failed revolutions, you have the emergence of Islamism, encouraged as the only point of support that imperialism and the local bourgeois could use against the revolution. Financed and armed. The Muslim Brotherhood, Bin Laden and the Mujahideen who later became Alqaeda, Hamas, all were armed and financed by imperialism as a direct counterpoint to left-wing figures and parties that posed a threat to bourgeois interests.

Yup. Political Islam usually emerges as a proxy for American imperialism, the important exception being Iran, where it asserted itself in opposition to the US from the start. But from the Taliban to ISIS, going through Hamas and Al Qaida, the main (and, coincidentally or not, Sunni/Wahhabist) trust of political Islam has been sowed by "Western" hands. This is also quite different from classical fascism, which may have been initially tolerated (and expected to confront the SU) by the then hegemonic capitalist powers, but was hardly propped, armed, or financed, by the relevant Nation-States.

2: The fall of the USSR, which maintained the colonial revolution in the middle east on life support far past its expiry date. We can speak of the specific responsibility of the bureaucratic caste in the USSR in some of the failures of that revolution too.

[The SU] which maintained the "colonial revolution" on life support… and that also provided ground for social-democratic delusions in Europe, which in turn helped with the "life support" for the "colonial revolution". The Argelian FLN is still a "consultative party" in the Socialist International, and while I do not have the proper list at hand, I am pretty sure that other parties and organsations within the scope of the "colonial revolution" in the Middle East (and elsewhere; the Brazilian PDT comes to mind) were affiliated or otherwise linked to the IS.

3: The failure of the arab spring revolution which began in Tunisia and Egypt and ended in Libya and Syria. The US was caught off guard in Tunisia, offering Ben Ali their support till the final day. Sarkozy even offered to send riot police to help put down the revolution. They really did not understand what was happening, or that this was a historical social explosion that would break the old order. In Egypt, they were also caught by surprise, insisting that "egypt is not tunisia" quite far into the process. But they decided to cut their losses when it became clear that Mubarak was risking bringing the whole system down with him rather than give in. This is where it gets complicated.

This is possibly a good explanation of the differences between the Tunisian, on one hand, and the Libyan/Syrian situation on the other (with Egypt somewhere in between). The Tunisian uprising, from start to end, was framed not only as a revolt against Ben Ali's local tyranny, but simultaneously against his submission to "Western" hegemony, his obvious alliance with France and Italy, and his will to push neoliberal reforms over Tunisia. Things were much more complicated in Libya (where Gaddafy, while in the end also giving in to neoliberalism and being quite linked to Italy and France, was able to keep a "nationalist" image up to his demise). And even more in Syria (where Assad was/is rather a Russian client than an European one, and where revolt against local dictatorship was much mixed and messed with anti-"socialist" feelings rather than anti-neoliberal ones).

They maneuvered with the army, and told mubarak to step down to let the army gain a "revolutionary aura" as "protectors of the people". This was used again during the second revolution, against Morsi.

I don't wanna go too far into that, but we can discuss Morsi if you'd like.

And results in a still unresolved situation, structured upon many quid pro quos. Army and political Islam, anyway, managed to choose each other as the respective "preferred enemy", isolating leftist and democratic forces in the process. So either you have dictatorial secularism with the army, or democracy that leads into theocracy.

Libya is where things start to really go south.

Or rather, literally, North.

The americans this time were completely prepared, and they immediately maneuvered their own people into the leadership of the "provisional council". There was intense protest at their activities here, but it's clear that they were quite organized and ready to accept that the old order was falling and a new order had to be built that ensured the americans came out on top.

I am not sure that this can be reduced to "they learned their lessons from Tunisia and Egypt"; after all, they have had been demonising Gaddafy for decades. It certainly made their flip-flop easier.

Their allies in Libya, many of them joined the IS. So I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to who they aided.

That is true, but after fourty years of systematic repression of anything remotely leftist or democratic by Gaddafy, there was little that could be aided aside reactionary clerics and disgruntled Gaddafyists.

They didn't want to go in bombing I believe, reluctant after Iraq and Afghanistan, but were drawn into full war by UK and France.

Yeah, and that is, in my reckoning, one of the first signs of a crisis of American hegemony.

Bahrain was smashed by Saudi tanks.

Syria was similar to Libya, only the government was far too stable for it to work.

The americans once again jumped on this process from the beginning, having learned their lesson from Tunisia and Egypt (don't fight the wind). And again, they were quite loud in talking about "moderates" and ensuring the right people are in charge in the Free Syrian Army and the council of people nobody in Syria ever heard of.

Too stable to be quickly toppled, I would say. Not so stable as to prevent a royal class mess up, though. Syria would be even easier for the US to equate quickly; not only the (quite deserved, btw, as it was also the case with Gaddafy) demonisation of Assad was also going on for a long time, but his regime was rather an actual client of Putin's Russia than a European client disguised under a façade of nationalism. Syria is also much more religiously diverse than Libya or Tunisia, and most religious minorities would rather have Assad's political dictatorship with relative religious tolerance than an outright theocracy forbidding them from being Alawite, Druze, Christian, or Shiite.

the council of people nobody in Syria ever heard of

Meaning, "[the council of people] [nobody in Syria ever heard of]"…

or "[the council] of [people nobody in Syria ever heard of]" ?

The militia that took over was the IS. It received the guns and the money before it turned on its former benefactors.

Now what is the IS? It is a movement, with a base, perhaps not a mass base, but a base nonetheless amongst the petty bourgeois, the rural fallaheen, the tribal lords, and declassed workers and cast out former baathists from Iraq. Huge lumpen element too.

I think they have quite a mass base. What mass base, this is a more complicated discussion; part of it is composed of people who are, from a traditional Syrian/Iraqi national point of view, "foreigners" - Saudis, Libyans, Afghans, Indonesians, French Muslims (and perhaps even Western adventurers regardless of religion, or who have adopted Islam recently, perhaps even to the precise end of enslaving women in Syria.

It is a counterrevolutionary movement that is rolling back all the gains of the colonial revolution in the middle east, a revolution that was modernizing and secular, forward looking and even socialist leaning. Baathism, in its early, revolutionary days, is absolutely indistinguishable from Stalinism. Isis is the polar opposite of Baathism's early days. It is a backward force that smashes the workers wherever it appears, and carries out unspeakable massacres and blood frenzied pogroms typical of every Fascism.

That Daesh is both reactionary and blood frenzied, there is no doubt. Many political forces carry out such "pogroms", be them directed at working class organisation or at religious or ethnic demonised minorities - and that goes far beyond fascist forces.

As for Baathism, I don't think it would be indistinguishable from Stalinism. Stalinism is itself premised upon the failure of a revolution, and not any revolution, but a proletarian one; but a failed revolution still controlled by forces that took part in it, not by forces that opposed it. True, it was expanded to conquered territory, as we can see in Eastern Europe, and seemed to function - to the extent that Stalinism ever "functioned", which is similar to the way its industrial products "functioned" (see under "Trabi" for further reference) - but Syria never had a proletarian revolution nor a Soviet military occupation. It certainly mimicked Stalinist political shenanigans, and was inserted into an effort of belated "modernisation", with all the productivist talk that it entails, and that certainly resembles Stalinist verbiage. But its history is quite different, and I am not sure that the phenomenon is the same, or even similar. Vargas dictatorship, for instance, was also inserted into a belated modernisation effort, based on third-world nationalism, but it was certainly not Stalinist (or fascist, for what is worth). It is true that Baathism was centered on a political party within a single-party system, which was not true of Vargas as a dictator, but then that single-party system was predicated on the exclusion of all other parties, including the Stalinist ones (which were repressed in a quite blood-frenzied way, especially in Iraq).

It establishes a strict patriarchal order in two countries that had at the very least broken with the Saudi practice of forcing women to cover up and stay at home.

Yes, and "patriarchy" seems a more important category to understand Daesh than fascism. On the other hand, I am not sure to what extent the "Saudi practice" was in place in Syria/Iraq before Baathism and is being reinstated, or whether it had been dislodged far before (by the Western colonisation, perhaps, or even before that?)

What people do not understand is that Baathism and Wahhabism represented two opposite tendencies in the middle east. The colonial revolution never touched Saudi Arabia, due to its oil. It is no accident that it is now exporting this backward ideology to the rest of the world.

I have little doubt that Wahhabism and Baathism are opposite to each other; I am not so sure that they aren't, both, opposed to independent working class organisation - though in quite different ways.

Wahhabism through ISIS is an attempt to roll back all those gains and bring the entire middle east into the kind of society Saudi Arabia has.

Now, is that militia Fascism? I strongly believe so, but this post is not a complete argument. More will be needed. Gotta go, so I'll update later.

There is, I think, a huge problem with equating Daesh or Wahhabism or political Islam in general to fascism. We did, after all, ally with outright imperialist and otherwise reactionary forces, such as the United States, the British Empire, Gaullism, Polish nobility, etc. I am far from sure that such an alliance is acceptable against Daesh or Saudi Arabia, and I don't think we can rely on contingent facts such as "at the moment, American imperialism shows no sign of political rupture towards Saudi Arabia". That could change at any moment (and yes, I think we should help it happening, if by no other means, at least shaming the US government for their actual support of "terrorists" under the disguise of "moderates").

And it is difficult for me to reatroctively absolve Third-periodism or ultra-left refusal to a common front against Nazism; I don't want to be entangled between positions such as "rhetorical support for ISIS", "tailing imperialism and supporting intervention against Daesh", and "opposing both by doing nothing, and thus objectively helping fascism by omission".


5th January 2016, 16:00

Originally Posted by CyM View Post
Hell, redstar always had long angry posts with lots of bold.


But yes, I do agree: the problem with Rafiq are the personal attacks. Other than that, his posting style is often awful, but the worst it entails is people avoiding the trouble of reading him. Which is a pity, because he often does have good content. I mean, for instance, he writes things like,

Originally Posted by Rafiq
The true significance of ISIS is NOT that it was "the product of US imperialism" (as if the brown people are stupid animals) - the point is that ISIS represents a barbarism which is modern, which is present in all of our societies - we all can potentially have our own ISIS's.

It's spot on, it directly confronts the mainstream orientalist reasoning about ISIS, it correctly situates Daesh in the frame of global capitalism, it is something no one else has brought into discussion, it is quite refreshing to read when we get clobbered by posts that fight against each other upon the false disjunctive of eastern_barbarians/anti-imperialist_fighters.

Luís Henrique

eta, because this should be the important part of the post:

Is it technically possible to give him a partial ban, as in - banned from posting in Learning, or Learning/Introductions?


5th January 2016, 12:50
On fascism and similar movements, and our policies regarding them

On fascism and similar movements, and our policies regarding them

This is partially inspired by the now closed thread on the "spartacist" position on the Islamic State, but I don't intend it to become a discussion on uplifting or upholding the bans issued there - rather, to discuss the policies in a more abstract way.

The contention point on that thread was the supposed "spartacist" support for fascism, as Daesh/the Islamic State is deemed fascist by some.

Now, don't get me wrong: I think that the ICL is a political cult if there is a political cult, that their appropriation of the term "spartacist" is an absolute shame (they have absolutely nothing to do with the original Spartakusbund except perhaps being the very opposite of it regarding most points), and I do have huge problems with anyone defending Daesh or the Islamic State.

But I don't think it has been sufficiently established that Daesh is a fascist movement, though I can definitely see analogies. It seems odd to ban people based on the premise that they support fascism if they make half-baked excuses for Daesh actions, when we don't ban people, for instance, for cheer-leading for Gaddafy (who, well, has not been sufficiently established to be a fascist, but it is hard not to see the analogies).

On the other hand, I fear that we have an undue demonisation of fascism. Fascism is certainly an arch-reationary movement, constitutes a quite deadly weapon against the working class and its organisation, is directly related to the horrors of the latest World War, and is quite probably the main political threat to the personal safety of first-world leftists. But it is far from being the only arch-reactionary deadly weapon against working class organisations that poses a political threat against left activists in the world.

Should we make our policies regarding far-right violent movements more inclusive? Or would that pose an actual problem of definition (should we ban people who express support/critical support/neutrality towards things like Baathism, Donetskian separatism, Serbian nationalism, the Venezolan opposition, etc., for instance, which aren't obviously fascist but have obvious similarities, are involved in attacks against working class organisations, pose threats to leftists in their respective areas of influence, and are linked to violence against common workers)?

Plus, I also feel that our requirements regarding "support" are feeble. What exactly constitutes "support"? We have seen here many instances of left-Stalinist apologism for a "neutral" position between fascism and bourgeois democracy, either as an expression of left-Stalinism itself or as an uncanny trait that plagues other political positions. Are those banable offences?

I am under the impression that our rules regarding fascism attempt, or should attempt, to improve the security of our members against brute-force attacks by far-righters, not to preserve the political purity of the message board. If so, I would contend that banning people for expressing ideas such as "there is no difference between fascism and democracy, so we shouldn't engage in anti-fascist resistence" or "Daesh kills people but so does Assad, and besides Daesh is useful because it targets imperialist assets" is a political mistake. It doesn't make us safer against fascist threats, it doesn't make us safer agains "daeshist" threats, and, as obnoxious and wrongminded as those make-believe ultra-leftist positions are, suppressing them doesn't help in clarifying why they are wrong, dangerous, and obnoxious.

So, can we rationally discuss such policy, preferably without mixing it with a discussion about the recent bans and their being eventually justifiable/not justifiable?


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