Should we defend the Taliban?

Turning the Taliban into the 1930s Ethopians

Bob Pitt?s main argument contained in his article written for this paper wrests on biblical quotes from Leon Trotsky - culled from his 1930s writings on Ethopia. He tries might and main to defend his political softness on islamic fundamentalism and the Taliban by avoiding concrete analysis. It is actually amusing to note the various traps he falls into in attempting to deny the reactionary character of the ?anti-imperialism? of the Taliban  (November 8).

Comrade Pitt, of course, vehemently denies being a biblicist, and foolishly tries to turn the accusation around by pointing with pride to his disagreements with Trotsky on the character of the ex-USSR and on the Transitional programme, as well as, more relevantly, to his support for popular frontism in Spain, as evidence of his freethinking and iconoclastic bent in politics. He could have added a whole number of other increasingly ?soft left? positions he has adopted - from ?tactical? support for the Green Party, to virtually uncritically cheering Ken Livingstone?s popular-frontist evolution, to his dogmatic support for New Labour in elections, even though no-one with any political acumen believes that it even pretends to be a party that stands for the interests of the working class.

Of course, comrade Pitt is as entitled to his own views as any other individual socialist. However, he is quite an influential person in some spheres of the Labour left and his outlook probably has currency among some elements in that milieu - an exchange with him therefore has a wider utility. In any case, his apparent fondness for ?progressive? Taliban/Bin Laden-style ?anti-imperialism? is hardly that different from some of his other positions. What they tend to have in common is the subordination of independent class politics to non-proletarian forces.

It seems rather odd when a softy-lefty like comrade Pitt comes at you tooled up with rock-hard quotations from communist leaders of the past about the need to support the enemies of one?s own government in a war, but really it is more of a sentimental attachment than a fighting perspective. Comrade Pitt replies to my previous observation that he has no intention of fighting for his oh-so-revolutionary views to be adopted by the anti-war movement - something which he actually boasted about in his original article - by rather sadly pointing out that at a recent anti-war meeting he had briefly mentioned his own pro-Taliban opinions.

Comrade Pitt says that he stated his position at this meeting ?in order to underline the point that we all held political views which others in the campaign would not necessarily accept and that it was therefore necessary to find common ground in our opposition to the war?. Enough said - no accusation that the others who ?would not necessarily accept? his pro-Taliban views were motivated by ?racist arrogance?, as comrade Pitt says of revolutionaries who disagree with his position. Merely a polite agreement to disagree, in keeping with comrade Pitt?s expressed wish that the anti-war movement should not adopt his views. In which case his views become ? an irrelevance: purely platonic.

And yet, when he writes about such matters, he still sounds like a biblicist. Indeed, around half of his article consists of the discussion of old quotations, and the remainder contains precious little concrete analysis. Once again, he manfully tries to drag Trotsky to the defence of the Taliban, as if they were the forces of Ethiopia (then Abyssinia) fighting against colonisation at the hands of Mussolini?s Italy in 1934-5.

Such a comparison is pretty strange - rather like comparing Nelson Mandela with Anton Pavelic (the leader of the Croatian fascist Ustashe movement in World War II) - both were leaders of nationalist movements in countries that were dominated for long periods by colonialists and occupiers. The fact that one led a struggle that had a democratic content, whereas the other led a movement that had a profoundly anti-democratic, indeed genocidal, character, would make such a comparison sickening and bizarre. But in comparing Haile Selassie, the emperor of Abyssinia, whose forces in 1935 fought a gallant battle against a fascist colonial invasion, with the Taliban, comrade Pitt is making an equally bizarre comparison.

It is a fact that in the 1930s, the prestige of Haile Selassie, among socialists and liberals and other progressively-minded people, as a fighter against oppression, was comparable to that of Mandela today, or perhaps of Garibaldi in the mid-19th century. Probably only Gandhi had a similar esteem at the time - not just among politicos, but also among ordinary working people.

Comrade Pitt says: ?Whereas Lenin argued in a polemic against Piatakov that it was impermissible to side with ?reactionary classes? in a struggle against imperialism, Trotsky, with his support for the Abyssinian feudal emperor against Italy and his backing for the ?barbarian? monarch of Tunis in a hypothetical conflict with French imperialism, evidently did not share Lenin?s position on this issue.

?This difference of opinion was not related to the existence or non-existence of colonialism. Lenin was writing in 1915, at which time - in case it has escaped Ian?s attention - the major imperialist powers were in possession of formal colonial empires on a large scale.

?The obvious conclusion is that, in endorsing Lenin?s view, Ian fundamentally disagrees with Trotsky?s. But Ian cannot bring himself to admit it. And this from a man who accuses me of being a ?biblicist?!?

Well, it would perhaps surprise comrade Pitt to find out that, no, I do not fundamentally disagree with Trotsky?s views on the defence of Abyssinia (his hypothetical defence of Tunis, or Brazil, is another matter - hypothetical cases, as opposed to actual concrete events, in my view are much less useful and prone to major political errors and misunderstandings - but more of that later).

What kind of a social and political figure was Haile Selassie, and was he remotely comparable to the Taliban, or indeed islamic fundamentalists in general? That is one very important question when concretely analysing, from the point of view of historical materialism and Marxist theory, the days of the great colonial empires, and comparing them to today?s very different world.

Comrade Pitt, quoting Trotsky parrot-fashion, says that Selassie is comparable to the Taliban because he was a ?feudal monarch? and so, if the Taliban are reactionary opponents of imperialism, then so must have been Selassie. Therefore, since Trotsky supported the Negus against Mussolini?s forces in 1935, it is correct for Marxists to support the Taliban today. QED. We have a pretty straightforward case of pure syllogism here - from someone who criticises Lenin?s warning of the dangers of supporting ?reactionary anti-imperialism? as being ?undialectical?. A is equal to A. Selassie is equal to the Taliban.

In reality, nothing can be more superficial and contrary to the whole method of Marxism than to substitute the repetition of quotes for concrete examination of the subject matter. The first rule of dialectics, as Lenin was wont to point out, is that the truth is always concrete. Comrade Pitt makes no effort to demonstrate that the historical phenomenon of Haile Selassie was comparable to the Taliban: he simply takes it as read.

What kind of regime was Haile Selassie?s? The fact that Trotsky characterised him as a ?feudal monarch?, of course, is an important pointer. However, there have been other ?feudal monarchs? in history who have not exactly acted the way such figures are supposed to behave. One thinks, for instance, of the 19th century regime of Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia/Germany, and his chancellor, the Prussian aristocrat Count Otto von Bismarck. In 19th century Europe, under the pressure of competition from other, already capitalist, rival powers such as Britain and France, the German aristocracy carried out a bourgeois social transformation of their essentially pre-capitalist society from above, in the process constituting Germany as a unified bourgeois nation. Of course, 19th century Europe is different from mid-20th century east Africa, but nevertheless the point is the same. Just being led by a ?feudal monarch? does not in itself make a regime a reactionary opponent of capitalism.

The following description of Selassie?s regime comes from a prominent bourgeois scholar: ?By 1932, Haile Selassie enjoyed unchallenged ascendancy in Ethiopia. He had constructed a central government totally reliant on the crown for policy and direction ...

?Throughout, Haile Selassie maintained himself as the country?s sole fount of authority, effective enough - so the Italians often observed - to lead his backward empire to modernity and international legitimacy.

?During 1931-1934, the emperor was busy implementing schemes that augured well for the future. There was a whirlwind of activity: projects and planning fell into place for roads, schools, hospitals, communications, administration, and public services. Given Ethiopia?s limited resources and educated manpower, projects were mostly privately financed: the emperor, the royal family, the aristocracy, the national and foreign bourgeoisie all profited from investments in transport companies or toll road construction consortia. By mid-1934, the Addis Ababa-Jima road had passed the Omo River and was growing daily; Harer-Jijiga was completed; and Mojo-Sidamo was finished and being extended to Mega. The government was laying down a strategic network of tracks in Ogaden; and Ras Desta Demtew had completed rough tracks from Sidamo to Moyale via Mega, making it possible for trucks to travel from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.

?The combined effect was to open the country to the world economy: by 1932, revenues were pouring into Addis Ababa from export taxes applied to 25,000 tons of coffee - triple the amount shipped in 1928, but, given the depression, only one-third more in money terms; from the recently opened provincial offices of the ministry of finance; and from reorganised customs stations that applied new, higher tariffs. In response to the growing national economy, the government replaced the Maria Theresa dollar with paper currency and coins issued by the Bank of Ethiopia. Since the modern sector was largely located in towns, the government could effectively force traders to use the money? (Harold G Marcus, ?Haile Selassie vs Mussolini? One World Magazine www.webstories.co.nz/focus/etiopia/musso.html).

It could not be clearer: this, far from being a programme of reactionary anti-capitalism, was a classic programme of bourgeois modernisation, carried out from above by a monarchy of pre-capitalist origins, in a manner that bears a considerable similarity to the example of Wilhelm I/Bismarck. What Trotsky wrote about China was equally true of Abyssinia, albeit in a different way: ?China is an oppressed semi-colonial country. The development of the productive forces of China, which is proceeding in capitalist forms, demands the shaking off of the imperialist yoke. The war of China for its independence is a progressive war, because if flows from the necessities of the economic and cultural development of China itself, as well as because it facilitates the revolution of the British proletariat and indeed the entire world proletariat? (L Trotsky The Chinese revolution and the theses of comrade Stalin 1927).

Contrast this with the Taliban. As Eddie Ford listed in his review of a recent bourgeois account of the rise of the Taliban, ?? within days of taking Kabul in September 1996, the Taliban?s war against ?sin? viciously targeted women ? Organised gynophobia. As well as being banned from receiving healthcare or education, women were forced to wear the dreaded burqa - a stifling garment that totally encompasses the body ? At a stroke, the once cosmopolitan and Persian-speaking Kabul had reverted to its pre-1959 days, when the government ? announced the voluntary end of seclusion for women and the wearing of the veil.?

Comrade Ford then goes on to generalise about the Taliban?s whole ethos: ?Yes, of course, you can label them as ?traditionalists? who are exacting the revenge of the countryside over the cities. Yes, the Taliban want to impose ?rural? values. But these so-called ?traditional? values are not what they seem to be. When dealing with the Taliban we are talking about the ongoing invention of tradition through the creation of an imaginary past.?

The contrast could not be greater. Selassie built hospitals and schools. The Taliban ban healthcare and education for half the population. The Negus systematically sought to promote industrialisation and economic growth behind tariff walls, to ?lead his backward empire to modernity and international legitimacy?. The Taliban seek to impose an imaginary, mythologised version of pre-capitalist village life upon previously cosmopolitan cities. Yes, the contrast between the two could not be more clear, and frankly the attempt to equate the Taliban with the progressive struggle of Selassie for national liberation against Italian imperialism is an historical absurdity.

Trotsky was obviously correct to back Selassie?s regime in its struggle for national independence against Italian colonialism, because Selassie was the leader of a progressive, national struggle, despite his social origins. Selassie?s struggle had a democratic content, and was no different in essence from any other of the anti-colonial struggles for nationhood and independence that were characteristic of that period.

However, when Trotsky started making analogies about hypothetical events, he was on much shakier ground. Comrade Pitt, as a biblicist, is not only content to uncritically accept one version of why Trotsky supported Selassie, without bothering to investigate the actual history beyond what is written in the Pathfinder-published Writings of Leon Trotsky. He also accepts as holy writ every tentative, hypothetical point Trotsky makes, without bothering to think. In conjuring up the possibility of a war between the French empire and a ?barbarian? monarch of Tunis, he was obviously simply envisaging a case similar to Abyssinia.

Trotsky?s hypothesis of supporting a ?fascist? Brazil against the British empire is problematic - Trotsky was obviously using the term ?fascist? in loose conventional terms as a synonym for a nasty dictatorship - ie, in the sense that liberals and pacifists would understand it, in order to offend such people - and not in a Marxist sense. Because, of course, Trotsky believed that fascism was a phenomenon of imperialist countries, not of underdeveloped countries.

The remainder of comrade Pitt?s article is just a load of shallow demagogy, and vicarious enthusing for the nationalism of various butcher regimes. All his repetition of the well known horrors of the US-led military campaigns and sanctions against Iraq produce not a single political reason why Iraqi leftists and workers should ?defend? their own government in a war with the imperialists. The few such leftists that survive with any serious revolutionary commitment tend to have the opposite view - to be defeatists - and rightly so!

He dismisses the similar views of reputable Afghan and Pakistani leftists by quoting a xenophobic rant from Abdul Haq, a mujahedin warlord and CIA tool (whose death even at the hands of the Taliban is no loss), about how the Afghan people should unite against ?foreigners?, and tries to pass that off as a progressive sentiment.

And even more strange is the comparison comrade Pitt makes between the struggles of the Vietcong, and of Fidel Castro?s July 26 Movement, against US imperialism. It is rather odd for comrade Pitt to argue that wars by the bourgeois or pre-bourgeois ruling classes of formally sovereign states have a democratic content, by such an analogy. Both those struggles involved movements from below that overthrew such ruling classes, and made some sort of attempt to build a post-capitalist order. In both cases, the United States, as the guardian of the capitalist status quo, intervened to defend the ruling classes, and in both cases failed.

We of course oppose these counterrevolutionary actions of imperialism. However, this is an irrelevant analogy. What comrade Pitt is really saying is that if, for their own reasons, the corrupt pre-revolutionary regimes of Batista and Thieu had provoked some kind of conflict with the imperialists to stay in power, the Vietcong and Castro, and the masses they represented, should have fallen into line behind them and refrained from taking advantage of their difficulties to overthrow them. Sorry, but we disagree. The fact that the likes of Castro and Ho Chi Minh might indeed have been suckered by such an eventuality does not make it right.

Finally, comrade Pitt?s complaint that I mis-cited his position on the 1999 Balkan war is a bit odd, since simple logic and consistency would seem to dictate that if he believes that the ?anti-imperialist? war of the Taliban is progressive, on the same basis he must also believe that the war of the Serbian regime against imperialism to hold onto Kosova was also progressive. My recollection is that he did have that consistency. If comrade Pitt finds this embarrassing in retrospect, then fine. One suspects that he will end up finding his current positions similarly embarrassing in years to come.

Anti-Taliban equals pro-imperialist

Liz Hoskings? letter to the Weekly Worker provides an opportunity to demonstrate further the bankruptcy of the conceptions about ?anti-imperialism? held by much of the left (November 1). The opening of her letter indeed reveals much: in place of a political argument against my views, one instead gets a rather infantile smear that in refusing to support Afghanistan?s Taliban regime in the current war, one thereby must be a supporter of imperialism.

This is an apolitical method of argument that does the left no favours - at best it lowers us to the level of the least politically competent elements in bourgeois politics and it recalls in form the notorious statement of George W Bush, that ?those who are not with us are against us?, which appears to brand even bourgeois critics of US imperialism?s current military campaign as being on the side of the ?terrorists?.

Comrade Hoskings? ?left? echo of Bush?s McCarthyite sentiment is of course not derived from imperialism. Rather it is derived from an ?orthodox Trotskyist? political tradition that failed to break from partially degenerated, partially Stalinised ?Bolshevism?. This tradition has produced a number of comic-opera miniature Stalin-type figures running ersatz ?Bolshevik? cults, and it seems that comrade Hoskings has picked up from it this Vyshinky-like method of branding those who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy as supporters of imperialism. Without any evidence, aside from the technique of Stalinist amalgam: ?Trotsky is against Stalin; Hitler is against Stalin; therefore ...? (?the CPGB are against the Taliban; Bush is against the Taliban; therefore ??). Notwithstanding this method of polemic, her letter does contain political arguments that have a wider significance.

Comrade Hoskings produces a series of statements that could have come out of a Stalinist manual of class collaboration, to provide a justification as to why the oppressed masses of Afghanistan should support their own governments in wars like the current one. She argues that ?the fact that direct colonial rule is no longer considered to be economical for the imperialist bourgeoisie does not mean that they do not exert influence by other methods. Cuba was never a formal colony of the United States, yet I am sure nobody on the left will dispute the hold of US imperialism prior to 1959.

?And who helped bring in the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile? Comrade Donovan?s argument is weak indeed when one actually looks at and studies the current polices of imperialism. Stating that underdeveloped countries are now ruled directly by their own bourgeoisie is of no help to his argument either. Has he never heard of the term ?comprador?? Clearly not.?

For an argument that manages to quite spectacularly miss the point, this takes some beating. No-one has ever denied that the imperialist bourgeoisie exerts massive influence in third world countries ?by other methods? than direct colonialism. Indeed, this is precisely why it is utterly futile and pointless for the masses to support their own ruling class in a so-called ?war against imperialism?. Any such struggle between the ruling class of a backward capitalist country that possesses state independence and the imperialists themselves cannot by definition harm a hair on the head of the imperialist world system while the ruling classes of both sides remain in power. Such wars are necessarily about matters in which the working class has no direct interest, such as territorial aggrandisement, who will be the dominant regional oppressor, or other such matters.

If the ruling class of the less developed country wins, the result, as with any victorious national ruling class, will be its consolidation in power, and thereby the consolidation in power of yet another agency of the imperialist world system. Conversely, the victory of the advanced country or countries means the consolidation of the regime of the imperialist bourgeoisie at home, fundamentally against its own proletariat. This is why we have to be for the defeat of both sides in such wars. The most that can be achieved without a revolutionary victory of the proletariat on either side is an adjustment of the relationship of forces between different ruling classes, within the framework of the imperialist world system.

The working class has no interest in merely modifying the relationship of forces between different ruling classes in a world that remains dominated by the monopoly-capitalist (imperialist) world system. The only circumstances where the working class has an interest in taking a side in such struggles is where the denial of formal state independence by direct colonial rule produces a deep sense of national oppression that cripples the ability of the proletariat to crystallise as an independent class: ie, an illusion of a common ?national interest? between the oppressed masses and ruling classes that amounts to a formidable obstacle to class consciousness among the oppressed proletarian, semi-proletarian and/or peasant masses.

We support these genuine national liberation struggles as a special case, in order to win at least a formal national equality, and thereby destroy illusions that a common interest exists between the oppressed masses and their local rulers, and that real equality of peoples can be won within the current world order. But to support the wars of long-established independent states in the current post-colonial, imperialist-dominated world, purely on the basis of the existence of diffuse ?anti-imperialist? sentiments among the masses in the absence of a concrete, tangible (as opposed to purely metaphysical) aim that benefits the independent interests of the masses against their rulers, amounts to class collaboration.

Such wars cannot destroy any material obstacle in the form of colonial occupation to working class politics - our support merely makes the working class an appendage of every reactionary butcher who would like to carve out a bigger place for themselves within the existing imperialist world order.

Comrade Hoskings asks if I have ever heard of the term ?comprador?? Certainly, and I have heard all kinds of advocates of class collaboration use this term to excuse their aspirations for blocs (?military? or ?political?) with those wings of the ruling classes who claim not to be ?compradors?.

Comrade Hoskings talks about Cuba. But it is rather odd for her to do so - it is certainly true that in a limited way Cuba managed to break temporarily with the political influence and rule of imperialism. It did so by becoming assimilated into the Soviet bloc, a formation based on a historically unviable social form that for a comparatively short period claimed to embody a ?socialist? alternative to capitalism. The fact that Cuba had to uproot capitalism itself to break, even temporarily, from imperialist domination, is hardly proof that struggles led by outright bourgeois, pre-capitalist or even arguably pre-feudal ruling classes can do the same. Or does comrade Hoskings think it is? Perhaps she thinks that mullah Muhammed Omar (or Osama bin Laden) will become the next Castro and take the ?Cuban road??

The outraged reference to the role of the imperialists in bringing Pinochet to power is indicative of problems with her own perspective, not ours. Recent history has of course shown that for those such as comrade Hoskings, today?s reviled and loathed comprador can become tomorrow?s prosecutor of an ?anti-imperialist? war. One can think of several examples - Saddam Hussein springs to mind immediately, as do ? Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

Outrage over the crimes committed by such loathsome, ultra-reactionary butchers becomes, to people with comrade Hoskings? kind of politics, transformed into ?military support? - with the attendant soft peddling of their crimes. The moment they take some action against the imperialists on whose behalf they were mistakenly assumed to be mere ?compradors?, out come the declarations of ?unconditional military defence? (but of course no political support whatsoever). The fact that they remain exactly the same anti-working class butchers the day after they fall out with the imperialists makes not one jot of difference to such comrades.

Indeed, the example of Pinochet is instructive. Comrade Hoskings? then ultra-orthodox Trotskyist associates took no public position on the house-arrest of Pinochet when he was held under a Spanish extradition warrant for over a year by the Blair government. But there is an unmistakable logic in calling for the defence of every butcher regime that rules an underdeveloped country. Most of the left that operates within the same framework as comrade Hoskings ducked this question and sought to avoid addressing it, but a few of the more eccentric elements drew the logical conclusion: the demand to free Pinochet in the name of ?self-determination? for Chile. This certainly has a logic to it. And of course, in the event that a falling out between the Pinochet regime and imperialism had led to war, comrade Hoskings and her co-thinkers would have been forced to become ? ?military? supporters of the gorillas themselves.

Comrade Hoskings theorises her position as follows: ?Communists are against the right of the imperialist bourgeoisie to dominate undeveloped nations. When a semi-colony such as Afghanistan is attacked by imperialism, it is our duty to defend it. This means giving military support to any indigenous forces that are fighting against the imperialist troops, regardless of the political shade of those forces.?

But this is completely anti-Marxist. Marxism, after all, is about the class struggle ? which class rules? Comrade Hoskings? perspective could be summed up as ?Who cares which class rules?? Even Stalinists generally try to disguise their class collaboration with phrases about the ?progressive? nature of the ruling class forces they are supporting!

In reality, of course, imperialism does not ?dominate? Afghanistan through Stealth bombers, cruise missiles, or even ground troops - they are only auxiliaries - it does so though the social and economic bonds that exist between the imperialist bourgeoisie and the rulers of all underdeveloped capitalist and pre-capitalist countries. And those bonds continue to exist despite fallings out over episodic questions of who will be the politically dominant oppressor in a particular region. They can only be broken by the coming to power of a force that consciously seeks to uproot capitalism and replace it with socialism on an international scale. The idea that workers and peasants can ?fight imperialism? under the leadership of undoubtedly the most overtly reactionary regime on the planet is fantastic - and by its absurd nature discredits this dogma more than anything I could write.

In this regard, comrade Hoskings? attempt to paint the ?anti-imperialist? sentiments of the section of the Pakistan masses who support islamic fundamentalism as ?progressive? merely exposes the underlying liberalism not only of herself, but of much of the left who share her views. Sorry, but these masses are not, in the main, hostile to ?global capital? at all - except from the standpoint of defence of traditional tribal society and the landlords and mullahs. All evidence points to the fact that the influence of the fundamentalist elements is strongest in the areas of Pakistan that are least urbanised, least industrialised, least proletarianised, and most under the thumb of pre-capitalist economic forms.

It is in the major cities, where there is a real, if tenuous, working class movement, and where secularist and semi-secularist forms of bourgeois politics are strongest, that the support for the fundamentalists tends to be weakest. Comrade Hoskings? homily - along the lines of ?We must not be sectarian towards the anti-imperialist sentiments of the masses; if only we are less contemptuous of their views we can turn them in a progressive direction? - is completely devoid of class analysis. Which is hardly surprising, since her views, like those of comrade Pitt, are a variant of Menshevik ?two-stage revolutionism?.

Comrade Hoskings asks the CPGB ?a practical question?. In a nutshell, she demands to be told how ?the Afghan masses can somehow take advantage of the imperialist onslaught in order that they can defeat the Taliban. One wonders how they can do this while US bombs are raining down on them.? In one sense, this is a very important question, and in another sense, a very silly one.

It is an important question in the sense that precisely how revolutionary defeatism can be implemented in any country involved in modern warfare, when everything from carpet-bombing to even the possible use of nuclear weapons by either state or irregular forces, are possibilities in a serious armed conflict. Even in classical inter-imperialist wars, there is no ?one size fits all? method of implementing ?revolutionary defeatism?. How were the working class inhabitants of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for instance, supposed to implement ?revolutionary defeatism?, when concretely, the defeat of their ?own? imperialist country coincided exactly in time and space with their own annihilation?

What one can say, however, is that revolutionary defeatism is a political perspective: the working class (and its allies among the broader oppressed masses) refuses to subordinate its own struggle to the war effort of its oppressors, even though that struggle may (and likely will) cause the war effort of its ?own? ruling class to fail.

However, the question is silly insofar as it implies that any such perspective is utopian while Afghanistan is being bombed. The answer is in principle quite simple; but in practice it is as complex as anywhere else in the world. The oppressed masses of Afghanistan, while they were under the weight of the grotesque Taliban tyranny, should have continued to struggle against the Taliban regime, taking whatever advantage they could of that regime?s military difficulties with the imperialists. Look at Herat, where the  inhabitants rose up and drove out the oppressor. They should not subordinate their struggles to the war effort of the Taliban. On the contrary they should be aware that any victories in struggle they are able to win will inevitably hasten the defeat of the Taliban, and they should welcome that and work towards it. Conversely, military setbacks for the regime will inevitably weaken it, and make it easier to struggle against it effectively, and should therefore also be welcomed.

There is no other meaning to ?revolutionary defeatism?, and frankly it is disingenuous to imply that it is any more difficult a perspective in Afghanistan than anywhere else.