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Responses to Fred F. article on Iraq debate from Lou Paulsen and Nestor Gorojovsky

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  • Fred Feldman
    Reply from Lou Paulsen Fred Feldman wrote, ... declarations ... so ... their ... take ... i.e., myself, in his list of critics] ... ... target ... resistance.
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2003
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      Reply from Lou Paulsen
      Fred Feldman wrote,

      > In the discussion of Iraq, there has been quite a lot of
      declarations
      > of unconditional support for "the" resistance, no matter what "it"
      > does.
      >
      > "Americans," "whites," leftists from the imperialist countries, and
      so
      > on come under steady fire as "social imperialists" if they take
      their
      > distance from any action of the resistance.
      >
      > But in fact, the critics of the dissenting "social imperialists"
      take
      > a very firm stand on what "the resistance" in Iraq should do. They
      > propose a political line for "the resistance," one which I disagree
      > with in some important respects. [and then he includes Paulsen,
      i.e.,
      myself, in his list of critics] ...
      >
      > When Jose Perez said that the United Nations was a "legitimate
      target"
      > in Iraq, he came down hard on a disputed question in "the"
      resistance.

      [....]

      > I unconditionally defend the Iraqi resistance to US occupation,
      > period. But I would like not only to defend this variegated
      movement,
      > but to see the goal of an independent, sovereign Iraq reconquered --
      > if possible on a higher level that that represented by Saddam's
      > regime. If I have opinions on these matters, I will express them
      even
      > from afar.

      I think that Fred is slightly confused here. This is not a new
      confusion. It
      is as old as the concept of the right of self-determination itself.
      There is
      a big difference between saying that the UN is a 'legitimate target' -
      or, to
      put it more correctly IMHO in terms of activity and avoiding
      metaphysical
      labeling, saying that we will not issue statements condemning the
      bombing of
      the UN operation in Baghdad - and saying that this is the right way
      for the
      Iraqi struggle to proceed. Just as there is a difference between
      saying that
      an oppressed nation has the right to secede from an oppressor nation
      (and
      defending secessionists from persecution by the oppressor nation's
      state) and
      saying that it SHOULD secede. And, for that matter, just as there is
      a
      difference between refusing to join in ritual moral condemnations of
      the Atta
      group, on the one hand, and saying that they SHOULD have flown planes
      into the
      WTC, on the other hand. See the discussion on this list in 2001.

      Personally I take exception to the -accusation- (as I consider it)
      that I take
      a "very firm line on what the Iraqi resistance should do." I wouldn't
      even
      formulate it like that. The Iraqi resistance is composed of many very
      diverse
      types. What sense would it make for me, a Marxist, to take a very
      firm line
      on what bourgeois nationalists, Islamicists, etc., should do? If I
      were
      tempted to take firm lines at all, it would be on what
      Iraqi -communists-
      should do in advancing the Iraqi resistance. But I find even
      this "temptation" easy to reject.

      Now, let's say that there are forces in the Iraqi resistance that say
      that the
      UN office should not have been blown up. Some of them might make
      arguments
      that I, as a Marxist, will not be impressed by, e.g., "The UN is the
      hope of
      the world", "This damages our ability to reach out to the peace-loving
      government of France", "It is always wrong to use violence", etc.
      Others
      might make more practical arguments, like, for example, "This will
      confuse
      liberals in the U.S. and make some of them think that troops should
      stay in
      Iraq." Someone else might then make arguments on the other side, for
      example,
      that it is useful to chase the UN out, or that it will inspire Iraqis
      because
      they think of the UN as the authors of the sanctions and the forcible
      pre-war
      disarmament of Iraq. However, it is not my role to pitch into this
      argument
      among Iraqis or to "take a firm line" on whether this was a good or
      bad action.

      However, I DO "take a firm line" about what socialists in the
      imperialist
      countries should do. This is that we should defend the -right- of the
      Iraqi
      resistance, which is to say of the various organizations, groups,
      formations,
      etc., which oppose the US occupation, to use the tactics and
      strategies of
      their choice.* Defend against whom? Against the imperialists and
      their
      servants among the media and intellectuals, and against attacks which
      are made
      from the false point of view of imperialist "morality" and the
      demonization of
      the oppressed. In engaging in this defense, it is necessary to
      explain WHY
      Iraqis might consider the UN an enemy institution, and to dispel some
      mythology about it.

      In a discussion -among Marxists-, I have the obligation to argue in
      favor of
      the above strategy, and to convince, if possible, other Marxists who
      are not
      already convinced of it that they also ought to defend all the various
      elements of the Iraqi resistance against US imperialism and its
      servants etc.,
      and ought to approach the situation dialectically in terms of the
      struggle
      that is going on now, and not exclusively in terms of the CIA coup in
      1968 and
      the supposed 'counter-revolutionary' nature of Baathists and
      Islamicists, and
      certainly not by labeling them as 'medieval' and 'uncivilized', there
      being
      not an ounce of Marxism in such an approach. Other Marxists have a
      right to
      disagree. But it is not my fault that disagreements about such
      questions in a
      time of war are substantively important, or that the intensity of the
      discussion reflects this importance.

      Now, suppose some other Iraqi resistance entity comes along and says,
      "We say
      that it was wrong to attack the U.N. and was not legitimate in any
      way, and
      the bombing should be condemned by everybody. Now you come along and
      say that
      you won't condemn it, so you are taking a firm line on a dispute
      within the
      resistance!" So far as I know, nobody HAS come along to say this to
      us.
      Frankly I think the Iraqi resistance forces have better things to do
      than to
      start arguments with forces that are involved in BTTHN activity in the
      US
      about exactly what statements they are making and so on. But in the
      extremely
      hypothetical case that this were to happen, my response would be, "I
      am not
      taking a line on whether this attack was correct or not. But we are
      going to
      defend the people who did it -against the US imperialists-, just as we
      defend
      you or any and all other elements in the resistance -against the US
      imperialists-. This has always been our understanding of our duties
      in
      national liberation struggles, including those within the borders of
      the
      U.S."

      I hope this clears the air a bit,

      Lou Paulsen
      Chicago


      2. Reply from Nestor Gorojovsky

      El Miércoles 3 de Septiembre de 2003 a las 10:25,
      Fred Feldman dijo sobre How to misuse unconditional support of "the"
      Iraq que:

      > When Nestor Gorojovsky is insistent on the alleged parallels between
      > Peron and Saddam (I really don't think there are any), he comes
      down like
      > a ton of bricks on a question that is also hotly debated in the
      national
      > movement against the occupation. As someone who has learned a great
      deal
      > from Nestor about the concreteness of the Argentine situation, I
      have been
      > shocked by the stereotyped approach he has taken to Iraq. In my
      opinion,
      > he has attacked the question with an Argentine cookie-cutter.
      >

      I guess Fred is sanctifying Perón as much as older Leftists have
      Satanized him. The points of contact between Perón and Saddam are as
      many as the objective situations allow. To be sure, most Peronists
      today side with Saddam and remember Perón's "tapes from Madrid"
      during exile every time they learn of Saddam's "tapes from
      clandestinity"! You may like national-bourgeois leaderships in the
      Third World or not, but you have to take them as a whole, not in
      parts.

      If I wanted to, I could draft as serious an anti-Peronist diatribe as
      many have drafted anti-Saddam diatribes. I repeat: I am NOT saying
      that Saddam and Perón are the same thing.

      But they share something, something they share with Chávez and even
      Fidel: they were the privileged targets of imperialist intervention.

      And this, which tells a lot to masses of people the Third World over,
      should not be overlooked.

      BTW: Chávez had all to gain and nothing to lose with Saddam remaining
      in Iraq, since his oil policies search to set Venezuela free from the
      dollar. Saddam was advancing on the same line.

      Best,




      Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
      nestorgoro@...
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