Authentic and fake anti-imperialism

On April 12 many thousands of demonstrators rallied in Hyde Park at the call of the Stop the War Coalition. What did the main speakers - Alan Simpson, Jeremy Corbyn, Anas Altikiriti, Andrew Murray, et al - have to say? One after another they repeated flatulent demands for the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to intervene. Eg, "political control must be transferred to the UN." While US imperialism, the sole remaining superpower, completes the Iraq phase of its "decades long" campaign to impose complete control over the world, the leadership of the anti-war movement is effectively reduced to begging reactionary organisations to intercede. Of course, not everyone peddled that line. Yet even Lindsey German - editor of the Socialist Workers Party's Socialist Review and convenor of the STWC - packages her politics in what could easily be mistaken for pacifistic platitudes. While a small army of Socialist Worker sellers pushed the SWP's version of revolutionary politics, their comrade on the Hyde Park platform came over as another left reformist. Key speakers either simply had little useful to say, or avoided saying it, to preserve the 'broad coalition'. This approach sacrifices real political leadership on amazingly bad terms, as inevitably the size of demonstrations has dwindled as British troops found themselves in the firing line. A coalition for victory was proclaimed by the political establishment and the bourgeois press. Our majority melted away as soft elements deserted to the patriotic flag. So the demonstrators were hardly politically backward. On April 12 they were conscious enough to march even as imperialist war gave way to triumphal occupation. Such people should be treated with respect. They need the unalloyed truth: the working class is the only force able to achieve revolutionary change and thus abolish war. Communists believe that this truth is not too hard for the people to comprehend. The nonsensical attempt to wed the working class to the British bourgeois state and the UN as political instruments must be exposed. Put simply, imperialism is action to secure the international interests of the ruling class of a powerful capitalist state by oppression abroad. While in the past it has taken the form of war, occupation and direct, forcible control of other peoples, it need not be military. Indeed, in recent history, many colonies have been granted a nominal 'independence' while the imperialists have relied on their economic dominance and sponsorship of foreign reactionary groups or neighbouring states to maintain their power. Ironically, imperialist support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq as a counter-balance to Iran is a case in point. In this way, imperialism released itself from the sheer cost and opprobrium of visibly denying entire peoples their freedom. The ultra-reactionary George W Bush administration in the US, though, is now abandoning this apparently 'softer' imperialism and turning to a version of neo-colonialism - but backed by overwhelming force. The damnable 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center allowed anger and patriotism to be stoked to the full. An already weak working class in the US could be won, or at least silenced, for what is a project to hike arms spending and cow potential international competitors. The change in US policy is partly a result of its revised thinking in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US is now the only superpower, and wishes to remain so. After war on Afghanistan and Iraq, US imperialism has barely drawn breath before concocting the thinnest of all cases to justify the invasion of Syria. Iran and North Korea were long ago put on notice of possible action by their inclusion in Bush's 'axis of evil'. As for Castro's regime in Cuba, it has long been a humiliation for the US by its very existence. Once again it has become a target for 'liberation'. But the US has not been unopposed even by other bourgeois governments, and this fact warrants discussion. A common theme of the STWC platforms has been heaping of accolades on Germany and particularly France for opposing the war and now insisting on a UN and not a US administration of occupied Iraq. Countries characterised by the US as 'old Europe' (as opposed to the pro-US EU applicants of eastern Europe) did not speak out due to altruism. French imperialism negotiated lucrative contracts with Saddam Hussein for the supply of many of the military technologies he used to kill his own people: a crime it shares with its US and UK counterparts. Moreover, France fears losing out now that the US controls the oil directly. It also recognises that were US imperialism to achieve its global aims, it would be at the expense of the EU's own plans for imperialist domination. What of the UN? It was established as a 'den of thieves' in which competing imperialists attempted to resolve their disputes - not least with the Soviet Union - without resort to mutually ruinous war. It is neither progressive nor democratic. It is a gathering of governments. Not peoples. Many member states are naked dictatorships. The UN recognises 'de facto' governments, which effectively means that if you control a people, you are granted a seat. Tyrants are therefore allowed to vote on behalf of the people they oppress. It is like kidnappers being asked to represent the views of their hostages. Naturally, the UN also contains representatives of bourgeois liberal democracies like our own. However, once again, it imposes no obligation on those representatives to vote or act in accordance with the wishes of their peoples. The UK argued for war on Iraq against clear and persistent evidence that its own people did not support this demand. Ironically, as STWC platform speakers continue to call for UN action, and effectively reinforce dangerous illusions about its powers and its nature, that very body is fast becoming irrelevant. Thieves may cooperate while their forces are evenly balanced. But let one gang overtake its rivals and they inevitably want to keep the whole plunder for themselves. Cooperation and even shares are derided. An analogy which exactly describes the behaviour of the US in Iraq. It acted without UN sanction. Now it insists that the UN has no right to hamper its robbery and extortion. The UN restricts itself essentially to charity work. While the UN itself may not insist on the wishes of peoples being observed by its members, in theory the British parliament, elected by our own people, could have imposed this responsibility on our UN ambassadors, and have prevented any British action in the war, for want of support. A central lesson to be learnt from the history of Gulf War II in Britain was the way in which any pretence of such democracy was abandoned. The needs of US imperialism and its little brother came first. The wishes of the people were ignored by the government. So when they hammer on about 'regime change' to achieve democracy abroad, the communist reply is, 'regime change begins at home'. Manny Neira The CPGB's draft programme includes this section on peace British imperialism has an unparalleled history of war and aggression in virtually every corner of the world. Though no longer the power it once was, it maintains large, well equipped armed forces in order to defend the interests of capitalism abroad and at home. Communists oppose all imperialist military alliances and ventures. British capitalism is one of the world's main weapons manufacturers and exporters. It has a vested interest in promoting militarism. Communists stress however that the struggle against the military-industrial complex cannot be separated from the struggle against the profit system as a whole. Communists do not call for this or that percentage cut in military spending. We are against giving even one penny or one person to the capitalist state's armed forces. Peace cannot come courtesy of bodies such as the United Nations - an assembly of exploiters and murderers. Nor can it come about by trying to eliminate this or that category of weapons. It is the duty of communists to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of revolution. Only by disarming the bourgeoisie and through international socialism can the danger of war be eliminated. Communists are not pacifists. Everywhere we support just wars, above all revolutionary civil wars for socialism. Communists will therefore strive to expose the war preparations of the bourgeoisie, the lies of social chauvinists and the illusions fostered by social pacifism. These alien, bourgeois influences objectively disarm and paralyse the working class in the face of a bourgeoisie armed to the teeth.