The main enemy is at home
Worker Power organised a public meeting to discuss the impending war on September 23 in London?s Conway Hall.
Stuart King was the only platform speaker and he began his introduction with a condemnation of the attacks on the US. Then he went on to outline what is in my view an untenable position - that in the event of an imperialist strike WP would call for the defeat of imperialism and the defence of Afghanistan. Who exactly the comrades will be defending in Afghanistan is a difficult question, however - as it will be for all ?defencists?.
One ex-member raised this issue in the discussion. She argued that just as the Gulf War provided an opportunity for the Iraqi masses to make revolution, this crisis in Afghanistan would provide the greatest opportunity for the masses to make revolution against their own ruling class.
The CPGB is adamant that for both workers in the west, mobilising against the imperialist war drive, and for the oppressed masses in Afghanistan, the main enemy is at home. While Workers Power sees the CPGB position as ?pie in the sky?, what is its alternative? Should the masses currently fleeing the Afghan borders go back and enlist in the Taliban army?
For Stuart King the answer was simple - first the victory of the Taliban against imperialism and then (the next day perhaps?) the defeat of the Taliban. So we should tell the impoverished masses living under that brutal regime that their best interests are to be served by siding with it against imperialism. This is to consign the Afghan masses to the role of cannon fodder for their own ruling class.
Like WP, the Alliance for Workers? Liberty finds our revolutionary defeatism incomprehensible, but from a very different point of view. Despite the fact that the AWL?s slogans call for opposition to the imperialist war drive, it certainly appears to see the main enemy as the Taliban regime.
The contribution of leading AWLer Mark Osborn consisted mainly of taking comrade King to task for failing to criticise the Taliban regime in the terms the AWL does. Comrade Osborn was outraged that he had not condemned them strongly enough and appeared to be of the opinion that the lack of democracy and repressive nature of the Afghan regime made it a greater threat to human civilisation than international imperialism. He appealed to the meeting to imagine a world under the Taliban - something of a red herring given the world balance of forces - and then review our various political stances.
The meeting was disappointing in the sense that it seemed as though the Socialist Alliance had never happened. Comrade King did not mention it in his opening remarks and when its importance was raised by the CPGB the response was muted. It certainly was not the case that these comrades were thinking of themselves as fellow SA members, and they appeared indifferent to its attempted marginalisation by the Socialist Workers Party.
Mark Hoskisson (WP) said it was true that the SWP was trying to sideline the SA in the present period, but he did agree with its call for the broadest possible anti-war alliance. Another leading WP member, Richard Brenner, said that we have one simple aim - to stop the bombing of Afghanistan - and we should create something that can include within it even those who do not accept the concept of imperialism.
Certainly it is important to have a mass movement (under the correct slogans) but, as was argued by Anne Mc Shane from the CPGB, it is more important to have the highest level of political unity among revolutionaries and not to abandon the tremendous step forward that has been the SA. It ought to be axiomatic for communists that it is only the working class that can end war for good by permanently defeating imperialism. For that we need to arm ourselves with a fighting working class formation - which means building on the unity already achieved in the Socialist Alliance.
Anne Mc Shane