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The Party for Socialism and Liquidation: PSL as Assad’s Bloodhounds

“Someone has to be the bloodhound.”

Social Democrat Gustav Noske uttered these words in 1919 before organizing the right-wing death squads that killed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknicht, two revolutionary former leaders of the very same German Social Democratic Party Noske belonged to.

Almost a century later, some on the left have once again taken it upon themselves to be the bloodhounds, not on behalf of the capitalist system but of one of its henchmen, Bashar Al-Assad, hereditary dictator of Syria. Despite the many differences between the Arab Spring and the era of wars and revolutions that rocked Europe from 1914-1921, one thing is remarkably similar – both divided the left internationally into three trends: pro-revolution, anti-revolution, and centrists in the middle who align with one camp and then the other depending on the issues and circumstances.

As far as anyone can tell, there is no wing of the Syrian opposition that seeks to physically liquidate the revolution the way Noske did. Instead, we find Assad’s biggest bloodhounds abroad, outside of Syria’s borders, on the so-called anti-imperialist left in the West. They never tire of airbrushing the records of bloody, collaborationist “left” tyrants like Muammar Ghadafi and Assad while smearing revolutionary movements against their rule as terrorist, racist, pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist, and neoliberal in character.

For these bloodhounds, every revolution against “left” dictators is a fresh chance to run over the man standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, an opportunity to mow down the protestors who brought down the Berlin Wall with machine gun fire and re-open Stalin’s beloved gulags under new management.

One of the worst offenders on the Marxist left is the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) with Workers World Party not far behind. PSL refused to support Libya’s revolutionaries in February of 2011 before they begged the imperialist West to use its military superiority over Ghadafi to counter his military superiority over them (at which point the Western left’s centrists joined PSL in falsely claiming that there was no Libyan revolutionary movement worthy of the name and agitated in conjunction with the bloodhounds against NATO’s attacks on Ghadafi’s forces).

Hezbollah’s boots on the ground. Aleppo Citadel, Syria.

PSL seized on the popularity of the pre-Ghadafi Libyan flag among protestors as “proof” that the rebellion was monarchist in character, nevermind that it was a revolution directed against a man who proclaimed himself the “King of Kings,” nevermind Libya’s first free and fair elections for a national legislature that now rules in his place. Today PSL loyally parrots the Syrian state media as it makes victims out to be criminals and criminals out to be victims by talking about foreign-backed “terrorist” rebels while studiously ignoring Iran’s and Hezbollah’s boots on the ground, playing up sectarian elements within the Syrian opposition while pretending Shia support for the revolution does not exist, and raising a hue and cry over interference with Assad’s counter-revolution from the imperialist West while “forgetting” about the arms, fuel, and economic subsidies provided to the regime by the imperialist East.

This is what passes for Marxist analysis these days!

Thankfully, we will never see the Ghadafi masoleum that PSL plans to erect in Washington, D.C.’s Red Square after a PSL-led revolution here because they (like their three-letter “competitors”) are incapable of accomplishing anything so audacious or liberating. Bloodhounds are dangerous not because of their rigorous arguments, convincing analysis, or ability to inspire and lead successful mass movements but because of their ability to track, attack, and kill. If that is all they can do, they should at least bark in support of the right side: the bourgeois-democratic revolution, not the bourgeois counter-revolution!

Once upon a time, Marxists were the biggest, staunchest champions of bourgeois-democratic revolutions not in spite of their socialist convictions but because of them. “[B]oth the direct interests of the proletariat and the interests of its struggle for the final aims of socialism require the fullest possible measure of political liberty and, consequently, the replacement of the autocratic form of government by a democratic republic” is how a party resolution Lenin quoted approvingly put it.

Political freedom is the best and indeed the only road to a sustainable post-capitalist order (whether that end point is labeled socialism, anarchism, communism, or horizontalism is not as important as actually getting there; we are long overdue). Lenin was prescient when he wrote along these lines in 1905 that “whoever wants to reach socialism by a different road, other than that of political democracy, will inevitably arrive at conclusions that are absurd and reactionary both in the economic and the political sense.” The history of the 20th century is littered with reactionary absurdities of this type. All of them failed without exception. Hitching the wagon of the socialist movement to the governments of the USSR, China, Albania, Cambodia, and now (for the bloodhounds) Ghadafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria helped drag the international socialist movement back to the fringes where it was before the days of even the First International.

Working and oppressed peoples will never flock to the banner of Marxism again unless and until we prove in practice to be the biggest and most ardent champions of not just their social and economic freedom but their political freedom as well. Freedom from want is just as important as freedom of thought, expression, and assembly. Lenin, following Marx, understood that we will never get to the former unless and until we win and utilize the latter.

To “win the battle of democracy” we must first win the battle for democracy.

This battle for democracy rages in every country affected by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions known as the Arab Spring. Claims that the Egyptian, Tunisian, and Yemeni bourgeois-democratic revolutions were genuine mass revolts while their Libyan and Syrian counterparts were foreign-engineered or foreign-backed-and-therefore-hijacked – advanced by bloodhounds and centrists alike – are laughable fairy tales unworthy of self-proclaimed Marxists. This is not the reality on the ground anddoes not correspond in the slightest with the experience of the Arab and North African masses who are toppling autocrats “left” and right alike using all available means, including imperialist airstrikes on their enemies when unavoidable. They simply do not care about the Western left’s attachment to “socialist” policies such as Ghadafi’s free housing or “principled” opposition to Western intervention which, in the case of Libya, they exploited for their own ends: ousting Ghadafi and completing the first stage of their revolution.

The Libyans dared to win and the centrists and bloodhounds dared to castigate them for it.

The comrades who lined up with the bloodhounds over NATO’s Libya operation under the slogan “hands off Libya” are doing so again over Syria under the slogan “hands off Syria.” In doing so, they provide a perfect example of why the “revolution yes, intervention no” and “no to dictatorship, no to intervention” trend on the Western left is centrist: when imperialist powers intervene against counter-revolutionaries, the centrists join hands with the bloodhounds while claiming they are still for revolution, their alliance with the revolution’s enemies to act against the revolution’s interests notwithstanding.

Think twice before joining hands with the bloodhounds. The Syrian revolution has enough enemies. It does not need frenemies.

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Where is the US, ask Syrian rebels?

Syrian rebels want no-fly zones, just like the Libya rebels got. But the US remains unhelpful, stumbling about, clueless about what to do. We supported the Assad thugs for decades and seem odddly unconcerned about the coming possible destruction of Syria’s largest city.

“America will pay a price for this,” [a rebel spokesperson] said. “America is going to lose the friendship of Syrians, and no one will trust them anymore. Already we don’t trust them at all.”

I listened to an interview last night on Bloomberg with that aging war criminal Henry Kissinger, who despite his bloodthirsty ways, genuinely understands the nuances of foreign policy. He said the US has no discernible plan or goals in the Middle East and is completely right.

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Dogma or Revolution? The Choice Is Ours for American Left

By Christian Wright

I like this article, and I am glad it is written.

The American left barely exists. The self-consciously “anti-imperialist” American left, in a country of 300 million people, can probably be housed in its entirety in one of our smaller to mid-sized sports areas. Its influence is marginal, but unfortunately this rarely translates into approaches of humility.

Gazing into the darkness of our political life, often from the vantage of a dingy apartment in some gray, overcrowded, stressful, expensive city of hostile, preoccupied strangers, many of our anti-imperialist leftists comfort themselves with dogmas and rigidity. This is understandable. Why do you think Mormon missionaries forgo reading non-Mormon literature during their missions? Why do they pray so hard at night and spend so much attention on the neatness of their uniforms? It is difficult to be a missionary, a bearer of truth in an apathetic, sinful, and oft-unfriendly world. Insulating oneself within the mother-bosom of dogma, icons, and sacred writ is a useful way to strengthen oneself, regardless of how well it retards one’s own development as a critically thinking individual.

I think the “hard left” in the U.S. picked its sides and stuck with them before, and independently of, any facts or developments in Libya. If you believe certain dictators are better than others, and ought to be supported, despite their authoritarianism, because they have nationalized such-and-such resource, or initiated such-and-such social program to try and win popular support, you are going to have a hard time finding the right side to be on when one day the people tire of their dictator’s rule.

The U.S. “hard left” is a collection of aged and unsuccessful revolutionaries who developed politically in the 1960s and 70s. They grew up with a view that authoritarian one-party states, and charismatic Third World dictators ought to be supported as liberators because they were fighting against capitalistic exploiters. Long after the capitalistic exploiters had been chased away and the new emperors began developing their own ways of exploiting people, the fawning and dictator-worship remained. So what if Ghadafi’s kids were entertained on Caribbean islands by American pop stars while they guzzled cases of champagne? Their dad has said the word “socialist” before! Therefore, he deserves our support. Of course!

I don’t care what the “correct” anti-imperialist line is and I don’t care to try and rank the nation’s countries on a “socialistic” hierarchy where individual freedoms and political rights can be exchanged for social services or a cut of the pie. I also don’t care whether or not a Third World dictator is able to buy the support of some of his people by putting gas and oil profits back into infrastructure, because guess what? Global warming is real and Ghadafi and Chavez’s development of their national resources is, globally, a step in the wrong direction that will contribute to catastrophic changes in weather patterns and sea levels.

If you want to be a usefully political citizen you have to learn to be a critical thinker first. This is a world that is being destroyed ecologically by powerful people who make comfortable living for themselves by keeping the majority of people politically and economically powerless — and more importantly — confused. You can’t trust anyone or any group to do your thinking for you, you have to do it for yourself. That is a practice the hard left organizations in the United States generally (not always) do not train their members in.

Our left does not know what it means to fight to win. They have won little over my life time. They have been very adept at fighting loosing battles and spouting slogans into the air. If you’re not expecting to win anything anyway, it’s pretty easy to say whatever you want. Being “right” and letting other people know it becomes more important than being effective. Like college sophomores trying to impress one another in a dorm with their knowledge of obscure subjects, our domestically unsuccessful revolutionaries are quite vocal in their instructions to people actually fighting revolutions abroad. These instructions are not usually helpful, but of course, why would they be?

There is fundamental disagreement about who “the enemy” is. It is my opinion that most of the allegedly American Marxist organizations thought Ghadafi was closer to socialism than a post-Ghadafi Libya would be. After that point the case was closed. They would have preferred to see Benghazi leveled than to see the different classes, individuals, and parties within that country decide for themselves what political policies their nation should adopt.

People who fight to win and actually win often prioritize effectiveness over the integrity of principles. When the people you are fighting have tanks and bombers and snipers and are shelling and bombing you and you can expect to be murdered within a few hours, days, or weeks, at that point military efficiency and effectiveness, not intellectually correct political positions, will be of great value.

Those whose conception of a revolution anywhere today involves a self-consciously Marxist, feminist, grassroots network of democratically functioning workers’ councils, with its own movement controlled independent media and accountable leaders, and, heck, commitment to non-violence and secularism to boot, can expect to be disappointed by what actual revolutions actually look like. This even more so in the Middle East.

Revolutions are not academic exercises in political correctness. They start with the humans we have today, whose political development has been determined by the real world and the legacy of past victories, failures, promises, and betrayals, and whose resources, allies, and agendas are confused, vacillating, and often contradictory.

Al-Jazeera has been criticized for being controlled by the Qatari monarchy. Hence, I suppose, it must be incapable of ever telling the truth or functioning independently. It must have been illusion then, when I noticed in 2010 and 2011 that Al-Jazeera supported the Egyptian Revolution wholeheartedly from day one to the great distress and embarrassment of that government’s principle military sponsor, the United States of America.

I also noticed someone in this discussion posted a link to a Huffington Post article, but no one here then criticized the Huffington Post. Did you know the Huffington Post is run by member of the bourgeois class? Did you know they like to not pay their writers and that many left writers recently stopped writing for them in protest of its policies? Did you know that the Huffington Post Web site is getting paid by Sears to advertise a new grill they are selling, and while the capitalistic owner of the Huffington Post is being paid by Sears for the use of their site, Huffington Post writers are themselves often not paid? Isn’t that a terrible example of capitalistic exploitation? They are even supporting Barack Obama for God sake! So why is a link to their Web site posted here, and no one points this out, and no one says that everything on the Huffinton Post cannot be believed because it is obviously controlled by a member of the ruling class?

That is because we know the Huffington Post continues to post many useful and relevant articles, despite its shortcomings. The Huffington Post likes gay people having rights too and has news about that. The Huffington Post directs scrutiny against the misdeeds of Wall Street. The Huffington Post likes people being able to have health care and thinks Wal Mart workers get a raw deal and that they deserve a better one.

The Huffington Post is an ally of justice and of oppressed people. At the same time, it functions as an imperfect entity, containing within itself relations of injustice and oppression. Often it sides with oppressors and is content to celebrate the charity of exploitative billionaires at the same it laments the condition of poverty in America.

It is contradictory and imperfect.

As is everything. Everywhere.

Navigating our political world, we must pledge our allegiance to genuine principles, not to organizations, presidents, or parties. All of these can, have, and will fail us. All of them can be corrupted. You can make use of some of them by doing so critically, and you must constantly evaluate what you get from something, versus what potential bad thing might happen later if you get involved with it. By reading the above Huffington Post article, I contributed to advertising revenue and market share of an exploitative and capitalistic news agency. I did so because I felt it was worth it to understand this discussion.

It disappoints, but does not surprise me, that an individual here found a problem with the idea that, “the international left base its positions regarding imperialist intervention on what the 0.2% of the world’s population who lived in Libya might have wanted.” Is this not, then, revealing?

I believe wholeheartedly that Libyans and no one else had the right to determine how a revolution in Libya should proceed.

A revolution is made by a people. When you have a movement, and the power structure represses it, you have to decide whether to retreat, reorganize, and try again later, or whether to respond and escalate and accept the consequences of that escalation. Revolutions are highly escalated political dialogues between rulers and ruled people. The right to determine when to risk that escalation, and when to open the Pandora’s Box of armed conflict, is the right of free people everywhere.

When a people decides to have a revolution, it is done not through a ballot box or through an online internet survey. There are those ahead of the game, and those who lag behind it. There are those who lead and those who follow. There are hotheads who invite premature and catastrophic oppression. There are conservatives who mask the protection of their own vested interests and positions behind concerns for “peace” and “orderliness.” Politically “combined and uneven development” is the rule. It cannot be otherwise.

I might also take this opportunity to remind our laptop revolutionaries that an actual revolution is a bloody awful and horrible thing. If you embark on a revolution you know that you are going to risk everything and everyone that you love and that is important to you. You may even loose yourself, and you may find yourself doing terrible things in order to prevent them being done to you.

If and when a revolution is necessary, that is to be determined by an internal dialogue among the people waging it. When it does occur and you find yourself in a military engagement, you are no longer fighting on moral terms. You may have to make compromises and temporary allegiances with untrustworthy, and even politically suspect allies. May I remind you that we in the United States are no longer ruled over by a monarch because of our alliance with the reactionary, slaveholding, French aristocracy in the 1770s and 1780s? Should black Americans in the 1860s have opposed the intervention of the North in the Civil War that freed them because the North was ruled by capitalists?

Were the Viet Minh wrong to accept the help of the Americans in their fight against the Japanese during World War Two?

Certainly, the Americans later betrayed them. Cold war politics led them to side with the French, and assist their re-conquest of their former colony in exchange for French anti-communist political support. In doing so, they turned their backs on their old allies. The Americans ultimately behaved dishonorably and against the goals of the Viet Minh in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Still, if it was 1943 and you were in Viet Nam fighting the Japanese, even if you could see in the future that the Americans might betray you, would you still refuse their gifts of arms and the military training OSS officers were willing to provide for you?

OSS members pose with Viet Minh leaders Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap during training at Tan Trao in August 1945. Deer Team members standing, l to r, are Rene Defourneaux, (Ho), Allison Thomas, (Giap), Henry Prunier and Paul Hoagland, far right. Kneeling, left, are Lawrence Vogt and Aaron Squires.

A revolution has the right to choose its own allies, make its own mistakes, and succeed or fail as it will. I support the right of Libyans, Syrians, and everyone else who can expect to be murdered by a dictator’s henchman to secure whatever military support they can from where ever they can get it to support their cause. I’ll leave the long-term consequences of such alliances for them to determine the potential benefit or liability of. No one is going to shoot me tomorrow or shell my house if I fail to win. As such I am not about to substitute my own uninformed and distant opinion for the decisions made by actual revolutionaries actually fighting a revolution.

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Is there even such a thing?

Though it may much ado of nothing, but why is it we never hear of the “Second World”. It’s always third world this third world that, and of late “first world slipping to third world”. If we’re first world, wouldn’t we be slipping to “second world” before hitting third?

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A point to ponder

With corporate profits at fifty year highs at the same time that unemployment is at fifty year highs, one would think that if it were true that the rich and “business” were the “job creators” we would literally be drowning in jobs right now.

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