The paradox of Nationalism as Internationalism from below

Barry Biddulph replies to Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong on communists and Scotland’s referendum.

Maclean – For a Scottish Workers’ Republic

Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network (RCN), want to create a new global order. Yet their starting point for a communist transition is a national territorial framework in general, as they acknowledge, and Scotland in particular. They argue that they are not nationalists, but internationalists, with a strategy of internationalism from below, in which small nation nationalism can be transformed into internationalism. This is a  paradox. What is their tactical and strategic standpoint? Continue reading “The paradox of Nationalism as Internationalism from below”

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Defeat in Victory for Libyan Rebels?

Barry Biddulph rejects the notion that Western intervention in Libya has shown the possibility of any new, ethical, or progressive content to imperialism.

The victory of the rebels in Tripoli was seen to be dependent on NATO bombing, western weaponry, special forces, and planning by strategists in Paris, London and Washington. From the start of imperialist intervention in Benghazi, NATO has been bending the rebellion towards imperialist aims to secure a transition to a new regime compatible with western interests. This loss of independence and undermining of the rebellion from below was the reason why communists opposed the intervention and the no-fly zone.

Gilbert Achcar, moralising from the University of London, has argued it was not decent to oppose NATO Intervention and the no fly zone. He condemned the anti-imperialist left for not caring for real people on the ground (‘Popular Rebellion and Imperialist Designs’). The Alliance for Workers Liberty has echoed this denunciation, describing those who opposed imperialist intervention in Libya as morally degenerate. But anti imperialists cannot oppose revolutionaries in the Arab Spring and revolutionaries in general for supporting revolts by unarmed people’s against professional armies in Libya, Syria and elsewhere. Revolutions are violent and even attempts at peaceful revolution, as in Chile in 1970-3 can result in mass killings and defeat. Marx opposed any insurrection in Paris in 1871, but when the commune was crushed , he did not claim the leaders of the Paris Commune were morally responsible for 25,000 deaths. Fighting counter-revolution was an inspiration for the socialist future. Continue reading “Defeat in Victory for Libyan Rebels?”

some notes on libya and imperialist intervention today

Joe Thorne spent a week in Western Libya during June.

The following is a series of disconnected notes responding to the questions which I am most often asked about my visit, which was an observer of, but not at all a participant in, events.  As a communist returning from a civil war – one which is, in some sense, a revolution, but ultimately no more than a bourgeois one – the most frequent question I’ve been asked is: is there any visible class or political division within the rebel camp?  The blunt answer to this, at least in the West, is: no.

A rebel flag is held aloft at a funeral in Nalut, Western Libya

The economic base

Within Western Libya, the every-day economy is not currently organised in a capitalist way (although by no means a communist one either).   Around 80% of the population have fled to refugee camps in Tunisia, and there are hardly any commercial businesses operating – perhaps a small shop selling cigarettes here and there.  All food is provided by international aid organisations or imported centrally by the rebels, and distributed for free.  Basics, such as petrol, are allocated centrally by the military council.  Hardly anyone works for money now: all those who have stayed are staying to fight, tend to the injured, do media or humanitarian work, or simply – as in the case of many older people – to stay in solidarity with those who are doing those things. Continue reading “some notes on libya and imperialist intervention today”

Nationalism is not a solution.

Barry Biddulph replies to a debate on the national question

In the Earth is not Flat (see issue 14), David Broder argued that the aim of getting rid of capitalism by class struggle is too abstract in the face of some forms of nationalism. For David, nationalism which is a reaction to imperialism cannot be sidestepped or simply opposed by communism.

This seems to be the Leninist point about two kinds of nationalism:  those of oppressed, and oppressor nations. A limited extension of popular democracy or the sovereignty of an oppressed nation can be supported. Even so, David does not entirely share the orthodox Leninist position of unconditional support for the self-determination of nations. Continue reading “Nationalism is not a solution.”

‘internationalism from below’ at the global commune

On 22nd May The Commune and the Republican Communist Network (Scotland) co-hosted a Global Commune day school in Edinburgh. The day had sessions on politics after the election, internationalism and communist organisation. Full reports on each to follow.

Allan Armstrong and David Broder led off the discussion, then we broke down into two groups for open discussion. Click here for Allan’s introduction; workshop reports below. Continue reading “‘internationalism from below’ at the global commune”

imperialism and the national question – sheffield, tuesday 11th may

The next meeting of the Sheffield communist forum takes place from 7pm on Tuesday 11th May at the Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street, S1 2BS. We will be discussing imperialism today and a communist understanding of national oppression and the character of national liberationist movements.

All welcome. The texts listed below may provide an insight to differing views on this issue. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more details. Continue reading “imperialism and the national question – sheffield, tuesday 11th may”

manchester class struggle forum, 29th april

The third Manchester Class Struggle Forum will host a discussion on national liberation and internationalism, with a lead off from the World Revolution group.

From the IRA, MPLA and the Viet Minh, to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Tamil Tigers. All these anti-working class groups received support from a number of leftist in the 20th and 21st Centuries. This is not a new phenomenon, at the outbreak of the First World War all members of the ‘Second International’ apart from The Bolsheviks lined up in support of their respective national bourgeoisie.

Is it right for communists to support national liberation struggles, however critically? Did not Marx and Engels support national liberation? Was it ever correct historically to support national liberation? Continue reading “manchester class struggle forum, 29th april”