Sunday, December 06, 2009

*From The Front Lines Of The Anti-Afghan War Struggle - A Comment On The Lessons Of The Political Struggle Of Trotsky Against Stalin

Click on the title to link to link to the Karl Liebknecht Internet Archive’s copy of his famous 1916 anti-war speech, “The Main Enemy Is At Home”.

From the front lines of the anti-Afghan war struggle, such as it is.

Markin comment:

After some months of very little to discuss, practically speaking, concerning the struggle against American imperialism and its war machine as we have waited for President Obama to make good on his campaign promise to, in effect, stake his presidency on “winning” (or at least not losing) Afghanistan I now find myself with plenty of commentary to make. At least with plenty of comments, painfully learned, concerning the way forward for the seemingly moribund American anti-war movement. Those days, however, with President Obama’s recent announcement of troop level increases are over. What I want to comment on briefly today though is the general question of where the international socialist movement, historically, the strongest and best organized component of any anti-war movement, is going and where it has been historically.

This entry, strangely as will become apparent, is motivated by a comment from a young militant who recently attended one of the sessions of an occasional Marxist study circle that I attend, and sometimes lead. Obviously, given the furor over the seemingly irrational Obama decision on troop levels, the talk among attendees centered on the fight against escalation and how to make America a “peaceful” nation. This study circle is advertised as, and understood to be presented from a socialist perspective, for those who wish to find out something about the mysteries of radical politics. Previous subjects have dealt with basic Marxist texts and struggles led by those who claimed to adhere to a Marxist perspective. Thus, I was rather surprised when this young militant, rather abruptly, blurred out the following- “What the heck does the Bolshevik anti-war policy in World War I have to do with us?” (Exact quote), “What does the controversy between Stalin and Trotsky over international communist policy in the fight against the imperialists have to do with us?” (My paraphrase of his remarks).

Obviously, for old time militants from the 1960s (especially the late 1960s when the turn to the working class and thus classic Marxism hit full stride) this kind of questioning would be almost unthinkable, if not embarrassingly na├»ve. This, my friends, is what we are up against as we try to impart some lessons from our history. I have already related a separate story about a young women militant that I ran into at a recent anti-war demonstration (see “On The Slogan- Down With The Obama Government”, December, 2009). I am ready to make her a bloody Bolshevik organizer right now compared to the gist of where that attendee's comments were leading.

However, I did not leave that young brother’s question unanswered, nor would that have been appropriate. I pointed out two things to him- for starters. First, Bolshevik anti-war policy in World War I, the successful anti-war policy I might add although that Peace of Brest-Litovsk with the Germans was a hard pill to swallow, was the only time, at least to my knowledge, in modern history that an anti-war movement was successful on its own terms. The only time that “the guns were turned the other way” on one’s own ruling class in war time.

Secondly, the fierce, if unequal, political struggles between the forces led by Stalin and Trotsky over, ultimately, communist war policy toward the international bourgeoisie and international imperialism manifested itself out, in the end, with the defeat of the international socialist movement. And that defeat is a direct contributing cause of why guys like Obama can turn the American war machine on and off as their leisure. If the actions of the majority of the international social democracy in support of their own governments at the start of World War I meant, practically, that that movement was a spent force for socialist solutions to modern society’s problems then the defeat of the Trotsky-led forces after the Russian revolution and the “victory” of Stalinism had the same effect, an effect that we are still struggling against. That, my friends, is the short answer. More, on both these subjects, later.

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