This letter is a reply to the ‘Internationalist Manifesto Against the War’, published by Anti-Capitalist Resistance and circulated at the request of Gilbert Achcar. We have many concerns with it and call on the distributors to circulate our response.
We agree with the assessment that the “main culprit for this dangerous situation is US imperialism”. However, the Manifesto, in a methodology frequently applied by Achcar, immediately turns through 180 degrees to assert that it was Russian action that reinvigorated Nato and that therefore the overall task is to condemn Russia.
Russian aggression is highlighted and the Nato proxy war ignored. The evidence is all the other way. The main thrust of the Biden presidency has been to reassert US dominance across the globe. A key component of that has been action against Russia and China and the revival of Nato, alongside the creation of a sister organisation, Aukus (Australia, the UK and US) aimed directly at China. All this predated the Russian invasion.
The manifesto declares itself “for the right of the Ukrainian resistance to get the weapons it needs ... from whatever source available”. We don’t have to speculate about the source. For over a decade the Ukrainian army has been reorganised, trained and rearmed by Nato and has served with Nato in other theatres of war. Weapons have flooded into Ukraine and a new supply of weapons, with greater offensive capability, are now on their way. The result will be a war of attrition with more casualties and a greater danger of a wider war, possibly involving nuclear weapons.
The signatories “pledge to launch, as soon as this war ends, a new campaign for global disarmament” ... So the time for disarmament and disbanding Nato is after the war. Why not now, during the slaughter?
We can only react with revulsion to the call for “the dissolution of all imperialist military alliances and an alternative architecture of international security based on the rule of law”. If we want to end war, we will have to bring an end to the capitalist world order, not propose a new legal system!
The manifesto grandly proclaims itself internationalist. One thing it isn’t is socialist. There is no mention of the working class and its needs. The workers’ interest is best served by an immediate end to the war, Nato disbandment and Russian withdrawal. We also need to organise across the globe to defend ourselves from militarism, increasing state power, attacks on freedom of speech and a new level of austerity to pay for this war and further wars.
The manifesto is an obstacle to advancing a working class fightback.
Following on from an anti-war public meeting in Govan attended by 20-plus comrades, the Glasgow Against Nato Action Committee has been formed. Its political basis has been agreed as the following:
- Oppose the imperialist war drive against Russia and China.
- Britain out of Nato. Remove all sanctions on Russia.
- Withdraw all British troops from eastern Europe and end all military supplies to the region.
- For a democratic peace which recognises the rights of the people of Crimea and Donbas to self-determination and withdraws Russian troops from Ukraine.
- For working class unity against imperialist war. No to World War III.
- Fund social welfare, not imperialist warfare.
- Oppose the ban on the Russia Today TV channel. No to anti-Russian hysteria stirred up by the mass media. Defend democratic rights. Free Julian Assange.
All those organisations and individuals who support the above platform are invited to participate in the work of Glasgow Against Nato. We plan a public meeting in Govan on April 28 and to leaflet the Glasgow May Day rally and march, and then hold weekly meetings to get out the anti-war message to the general public.
We also hope to link up with similar groups in the rest of Scotland and throughout Britain.
The USA is the world’s hegemon, in economic, military and political terms. It is the largest economy and is able to dictate the stances of most countries’ leaderships. Those states that disagree strongly enough with US hegemony face serious consequences: war in either its siege form (economic sanctions) or physical attack and invasion.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was one of US capitalism’s strongest champions and a leading strategist. In his seminal 1997 book The grand chessboard he laid out a schema for the USA’s continual and widening influence over the world capitalist system. A recent Weekly Worker article by Daniel Lazare (‘What hath Zbig wrought?’, March 31) usefully reintroduced this still pertinent work.
It seems that the left in the USA, in Europe and indeed in Brzezinski’s world continent, Eurasia, is puny and largely at a loss as to what to do in the medium term - forget the immediate future. More and more this seems connected with the disappearance of the Soviet Union. The left’s decline is certainly quite consonant with the absence of the only other world superpower beside the USA.
This is not to suggest, though, that fragmentation into single campaigns of importance is the way to go. Many of the world’s left - including, it seems to me, many supporters and readers of the Weekly Worker - do reject the idea that solely campaigning, for example, against wars waged by the USA in ‘alliance’ with its vassal states (France, Germany, Japan, UK, etc) or against the destruction of our life-giving ecosystem is ever going to be enough. And this is because single-issue campaigns fail to address directly and holistically the underlying cause of humanity’s ills: the dominating, foul capitalist system.
We are dying thanks to capitalism, be that due to war, Covid-19 or pollution of the planet and global warming. How come these facts are not bringing into being powerful Marxist parties challenging for revolution and leading humankind? The subjective element of revolution - real communist/Marxist parties fighting for real socialism throughout the world - has to be created and built well before the objective elements arise. It is already becoming too late.
Do we really have to work through and within the Democratic Socialists of America, the British Labour Party or the Dutch Socialist Party? (to name but three organisations covered in recent Weekly Worker articles)? It seems so tame, compared to what is needed.
Alan Horn was a Marxist scholar and activist who died on April 1 2021.
Covid-19 restrictions precluded a proper memorial event at the time but, a year on, a number of his comrades would like to remember him and his work. We are arranging for the publication of his book, The dialectic of labour, and will hold an event in Glasgow later this year to mark its launch and his life and death.
Born on September 29 1954, Alan lived his first year in Parkhead, before moving to Castlemilk - a working class estate to the south of Glasgow. After leaving Kings Park Secondary, Alan attended Langside College, where he established a socialist society and was prominent in the Chile Solidarity campaigns of the time. He joined the International Marxist Group in 1974 and was active in Right to Work marches and the battles with police and National Front at the city’s Kingston Halls in 1976. He later moved to Amsterdam to work at a Ford plant - washing cars as they rolled off the production line and having confrontations with the local Grey Wolves in the factory.
By 1978, Alan was back in Castlemilk and had left the IMG. During this period he was heavily involved in the Castlemilk Claimants Union and the Troops Out Movement. In 1984 he played an active role in the Castlemilk miners solidarity group and was involved in linking the campaign directly with pits in Ayrshire. In 1985 he was briefly a member of Socialist Organiser.
Towards the end of the decade Alan began studying philosophy at the University of Glasgow, where he met Hillel Ticktin and Scott Meikle, who would go on to become his PhD supervisors. Alongside this academic work, Alan continued to be active in the movement, participating in the campaigns against the poll tax and in the Castlemilk Unemployed Workers Union.
In the late 90s, he was part of the Scottish Socialist Alliance and subsequently became a member of the anti-nationalist Workers Unity group within the Scottish Socialist Party. He dropped out around 2002, but went on to be part of the Campaign for a Marxist Party and a Critique journal readers group. By 2003, he had completed his thesis and in the years that followed he published a series of articles in Critique on the dialectic.
I first met Alan when he joined Left Unity in 2013. He made a strong impression on me from our first encounter, personifying the working class organic intellectual in a way I had never before encountered. He was erudite, volatile, generous, troubled, extremely sharp-witted and deeply committed to communism. He had no time for stupidity from those he thought ought to know better and infinite patience for those who genuinely wanted to engage with the ideas of Marx. He believed, like Marx, that nothing was above criticism.
He energetically argued for a boycott of the 2014 independence referendum and was dismayed when most of his comrades joined the Labour Party in 2015. He viewed Corbyn’s election as the death rattle of social democracy and railed against the left’s refusal to stand on a genuine communist platform, preferring instead to lurk behind reformism and economism.
He struggled with bipolar disorder, which drove periods of intense activity and creativity, followed by spells of withdrawal and isolation. He suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (the result of a lifetime of smoking) and by the first Covid-19 lockdown was largely confined to his 11th floor flat and the immediate surrounding area.
He loved the blues and was a talented guitarist in the style of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His research in philosophy took him away from music, but he started playing his guitar again shortly before he died. In his final years he was uncompromising, yet vulnerable, but remained optimistic that the working class would fulfil its historic mission.
There are few others with his depth of understanding of Marx’s dialectic or his commitment to working class revolution - his death is both a loss to the comrades who knew him and the movement as a whole.
During the CPGB’s April 17 Online Communist Forum I referred to an article on the Jacobin website: ‘Pentecostalism is becoming the new religion of the global poor’ (April 15). This was dismissed on the grounds that Pentecostalism was merely a religion for the aspirational lower middle classes. This didn’t ring true to me, so I read the piece again.
It seems quite clear to me that this is appealing, mostly, to the poorest of the poor: that is, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world”, as Marx pointed out. People in fact aspiring to feed themselves and their families.
The article ends:
“Pentecostalism offers direct access to spiritual, social and material nourishment in a world that denies the world’s poor of all three. Naturally, there’s a growing number of Pentecostal churches catering to the rich and middle classes too. After all, they know that upward mobility is tenuous - and anyone who gets ahead needs a miracle to stay there.”
This reminded me of a programme on TV some years ago about a Pentecostal church in the US, complete with snake-handling and ‘voices’. One of the subjects was a carpenter, who suffered from terrible back pains - not good for a manual worker. His Sunday worship made it possible to keep working during the week - endorphins?
The interviewer asked the preacher if perhaps his flock might be better off getting medical attention. He replied that he would like them to receive both religion and medical attention, but unfortunately they could not afford the latter.
The main thrust of the Jacobin article is the danger that Pentecostalism presents, since its politics are usually those of rightwing populism. The thing that struck me, however, was just how fast this religion is spreading and has grown. Brazil was a Catholic nation for centuries, but the number of Pentecostals has apparently grown from 3% to 30% in the last 40 years.
In the context of the discussion at the forum, I thought it was relevant that a mass movement could grow so quickly and could, for instance, overcome an unfriendly approach to migrants. If it can grow fast from nonsense, then perhaps a communist movement can grow even faster - once we get going.