Friday, August 15, 2008

War in South Ossetia – a Socialist Federation of the Caucasus is the Only Way Out

This is the 300th post on this blog (hurrah)!

By Tom Rollings and Francesco Merli
Friday, 15 August 2008

After months and years of sniper shooting and military build-up on both sides, war broke out in South Ossetia on the night of Thursday, August 8 when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered an invasion of the autonomous republic and the criminal shelling of its capital Tskhinvali. According to official Russian sources, up to 1,600 civilians and several Russian soldiers deployed for peace-keeping tasks were killed in the fighting before Russian forces retook the autonomous Republic. Thousands of refugees abandoned everything they had and flooded into North Ossetia in Russia calling for Russia to come to their rescue.

This was the justification that the Kremlin was seeking in order to settle down accounts in the region and reaffirm its role as a regional power. The moment couldn't be a more favourable one, with US imperialism entangled in Irak and Afghanistan and without means available to open a new front in the Caucasus.

Given the speed with which the Russian army responded (within a few hours after the Georgian attack) it is clear that the Russian strategists were expecting the attack and the armed forces deployed at the borders with South Ossetia were already in on a war footing, ready to strike back.

Despite the heavy fighting the Georgian forces proved to be unable to take control of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali and were taken aback. The Russian counter-offensive crushed the Georgian army and retook control of South Ossetia in less than 48 hours. On Monday, Russian tanks and troops entered Georgian territory towards the city of Gori (dangerously close to the capital, Tbilisi), to show that they could easily take over the strategic centres of the country, while bombing key military infrastructures and cutting off Georgian access to Abkhazia, a second autonomous republic that Georgia claims, and the ports in the Black Sea.

The counter-offensive involved high altitude bombing that destroyed the centre of Gori, killing dozens of civilians and a Dutch cameraman. Similar scenes to those witnessed in South Ossetia, with thousands of Georgian civilians fleeing their homes in terror from the Russian counter-attack have been reported by the media internationally.

Imperialist Meddling Caused the War

Despite what the Russian and Georgian government are claiming, the war had nothing progressive on both sides. The present nightmare of war and nationalism in the Caucasus is the result of imperialist meddling. But it is also the result of the national chauvinism of the former Soviet bureaucracy, which was rotten with Great Russian chauvinism, and which sparked off the rise of regional and national chauvinism against Moscow. These centrifugal tendencies were a factor in the break-up of the USSR, and, as was the case in the former Yugoslavia, led to bloody civil wars in many of the former Republics. These conflicts to this day remain a series of festering wounds, which have not been resolved and can explode into violence at any time.

Criminally, American and Russian imperialism have interwoven these conflicts in their own struggle for spheres of influence and strategic interests, with American imperialism building up Georgia as a bulwark against Russia in the south Caucasus. Russia in its turn is using South Ossetia and Abkhazia as pawns in its battle to redraw the spheres of influence, which are connected to the strategic importance of Georgia as a pipeline route for Caspian oil to the west, and possibly gas as well in the future.

Alan Woods explained this process clearly in the article Georgia's "peaceful revolution" heralds new conflicts, published on In Defence of Marxism back in November 2003, at the time of the rise to power of Saakashvili:

"With Georgian President Shevardnadze's resignation, a radical, pro-U.S. opposition has come to power in Tbilisi. This is part of a general thrust to increase Washington's influence in the Caucasus, but it will have set alarm bells ringing in the Kremlin. The Russians will not remain with arms folded while a key country on her southern border passes directly into the camp of US imperialism.

"These events will undoubtedly pave the way for greater conflict and disintegration in Georgia. The Russians will tighten the screws on Georgia. So-called independent regions and pro-Moscow political leaders are only too willing to pick a fight with the new leadership in the capital. Since neither side enjoys majority support, chaos and violence will likely prevail, causing further upheavals, wars, bloodshed and misery throughout this beautiful but unhappy region and sabotaging U.S. plans to pump Caspian oil westward.

"Nino Burdzhanadze was giving her first televised national address following the resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze: ‘We have managed to overcome the gravest crisis in Georgia's recent history without shedding a single drop of blood,' Ms Burdzhanadze said. But she spoke too soon. The intrigues of the imperialists will cause a lot of blood to flow before the crisis is settled one way or another. The new leaders are already casting a nervous look over their shoulders at Russia. Declaring the disobedience campaign over, she said the country must work to strengthen its ties with its neighbours and "the great state of Russia". But fine words will not impress the Kremlin. Russia will be looking very closely at the policies and conduct of the new government in Tblisi, and preparing to tighten the screws. The result will be new wars, chaos and horrors without end."

And added further on:

"Washington and Moscow treat the small, weak, divided Caucasian states as mere pawns in a game in which the whole region acts as a gigantic chessboard. America makes a move, Russia responds, and the result is a war, an assassination, an explosion, a military coup or a ‘bloodless revolution'. We are now awaiting the next move in the game. We do not know when or where Moscow will respond, but one thing we do know: the losers will be the ordinary people, the poor, the defenceless."

In the epoch of imperialism, small nations such as Georgia or Ossetia are too small to play an independent role. National independence under capitalism for such nations does not mean freedom but more militarism and oppression in the interests of one power against another.

Why Did Georgia Attack?

On the part of the Georgian ruling elite, the attack on South Ossetia was a calculated bet that backfired them. Saakashvili barely survived last December to a massive movement of protest against corruption. He got out of it denouncing the movement as a Russian conspiracy and proclaiming a State of Emergency while at the same time calling for a snapshot presidential election in January, which he won. In April, Russian President Putin made a deal providing Abkhazia and South Ossetia with special relations with the Russian Federation. This move forced Saakashvili's hand. The Georgian President could not stand by and do nothing as Russian interference in the Caucasus grew unhindered under his very nose.

What Saakashvili was betting upon was the idea that Georgia could force the position in South Ossetia, although without occupying it permanently which would be impossible, in the attempt to rally the Georgian population around his nationalist agenda. They expected that despite all protests, the Russians would take the humiliation, like they did in relation to Kosovo, or the expansion of NATO to the Baltic states, but they would not dare to engage in a direct military intervention against a close ally of US imperialism like Georgia. After all, they might have thought, that's what Russia had been doing over the last years every time its interests collided with those of the United States!

But there is something more than that. It is very difficult to imagine that Saakashvili launched the attack against US wishes. The Georgian government is dependent on US aid and support, and US strategists must have endorsed Saakashvili's bet: a serious mistake on their part. But they did so for their own imperialist purposes: to test once again the reaction of Russia. Now that they have disastrously lost their bet, they have two options, either to admit the mistake of not having considered that relations of forces between USA and Russia in the region have changed, or to pretend that the Georgian government fooled them, hiding its intentions. But even if we believed that the Georgians acted on their initiative, how could Saakashvili hide the military preparations for the attack? Should we believe that the Russian security services were better informed than the hundreds of US advisors and diplomats that crowded Tbilisi? In both cases US imperialism comes out of this conflict with its credibility compromised.

Russian Imperialism Strengthened

On the other side, Russia is not the same country it was 10 years ago. It has recovered from its previous weakness both from an economic and military point of view and in recent years had been looking for a way to break up the encirclement strategy orchestrated by US imperialism since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Over the last 15 years US imperialism managed to take advantage of the crisis of Russia to establish strong ties and alliances with former USSR allies or breakaway republics from the Soviet Union of Central Asia, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and the Baltic. NATO's expansion to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1998 and again in 2004, with the second expansion that absorbed the rest of the former satellites of the USSR in Central Europe and the three Baltic states, were rightly considered as strategic threats from the Russian military elite and convinced the Kremlin that they had to seize every opportunity to reverse this position.

The changed attitude and growing bargaining economic power of the Russian government was highlighted in the last years by the unilateral decisions to cut gas supply to Ukraine and the Czech republic, but Russia never resorted to the use of military power before August 8. What happened? A Geopolitical Intelligence Report by Stratfor commented:

"The Russians had changed dramatically, along with the balance of power in the region. They welcomed the opportunity to drive home the new reality, which was that they could invade Georgia and the United States and Europe could not respond. As for risk, they did not view the invasion as risky. Militarily, there was no counter. Economically, Russia is an energy exporter doing quite well - indeed, the Europeans need Russian energy even more than the Russians need to sell it to them. Politically, as we shall see, the Americans needed the Russians more than the Russians needed the Americans. Moscow's calculus was that this was the moment to strike. The Russians had been building up to it for months...and they struck."

Georgia happened to be the weak link in the chain of US imperialism network of alliances in the region and the best way for Russia to show the world (and above all, to the neighbouring countries) that US imperialism was not able to deliver anymore what promised, that is to protect the weak former Soviet satellites from their powerful neighbour. As Stratfor director George Friedman again puts it:

"The Russians knew the United States would denounce their attack. This actually plays into Russian hands. The more vocal senior leaders are, the greater the contrast with their inaction, and the Russians wanted to drive home the idea that American guarantees are empty talk."

Bitter Surprise for US Imperialism

The war in Georgia has forced the sudden recognition of a reality: Russia has emerged as a regional imperialist power strong enough to claim back the former Russian sphere of influence from the United States. The arrogant comment "They're not a major power, they're Saudi Arabia with trees," more significant because it comes from a long-term serving US diplomat (the Ex-US ambassador to the UN) interviewed on the BBC on August 13 reveals to what extent US imperialists have been taken by surprise by this development.

US president George Bush is not the cleverest man in the world, but in relation to Georgia was forced by more intelligent advisors to adopt a careful line. Although using a belligerent rhetoric to insinuate that Russia would be expelled from the 21st century modern world of the advanced countries if they did not change their attitude, he could not announce any action or concrete measure, apart from promising humanitarian aid delivered by the US military to Georgia.

On Tuesday, August 12, French President Sarkozy, current head of the EU, visited Moscow and then Tbilisi to broker a deal. But what we already said for the United States is even truer for the EU: there is not much the European Union can do with Russia in control on the ground. A deal might be reached only on the grounds that Russia has achieved her targets in the war.

Chauvinist Poison

In Russia, the ruling elite has enrolled the mass media in fuelling a wave of war hysteria. The suffering of the South Ossetian population was used to manipulate the understandable outburst of popular indignation and justify the counter-attack, but the war propaganda connected with a deep rooted resentment against US imperialism amongst the Russian working class. The trade union and Communist Party leaders have capitulated to the Kremlin on the war, just as they do not seriously challenge its line in peace. Instead of carrying the line of the working class into mainstream politics, they carry bourgeois ideology into the labour and communist movement. This is particularly clear on the question of war. Because of the lack of alternative, this will temporarily increase the support for Putin.

But militarism is a curse for the Russian people. The counter-attack on Georgia is a sign that the imperialist ambitions of the Kremlin and the greed of the oligarchs can lead to new adventures. Large Russian populations live in the Crimea, the Baltic states and Kazakhstan. Where will the defence of Russian citizens outside of Russia's borders end? The economic outlook for Russia is uncertain. The government as well as the capitalists are preparing another wave of cuts on living standards and attacks on rights, particularly workers and trade unionists' rights. The chauvinist poison is the weapon that the Russian ruling class always uses to make Russian workers and ordinary people accept that the military comes first while people themselves are treated as second-rate citizens.

In Georgia, where there are already thousands of refugees from the first war in South Ossetia from 1992-4, there is bitter anger at the defeat in South Ossetia. On Tuesday a crowd of 150,000 gathered in Tblisi to express their support for Saakashvili in a mood of national solidarity boosted by a hatred of Russian aggression. Yet the future of Saakashvili, regardless of high support for him at the moment, is uncertain. His policies of depending on the West to beat back Russia have ended in failure. Many demonstrators showed their rage cursing US imperialism for not coming to their rescue.

The Propaganda War - the Precedent of Kosovo and the Question of NATO

The Russian government claimed that its military operations in South Ossetia were motivated by humanitarian considerations. In this the Kremlin used the logic that NATO used in justifying its attack on the former Yugoslavia. But, NATO strategists reply, Russia opposed the NATO war on the Balkans - if NATO arguments were wrong in relation to Kosovo, why are Russian arguments any better in relation to South Ossetia? Here the Russian reply is much stronger than the lies that NATO churned out back in 1999. Over 90% of South Ossetia's population are Russian citizens, and Russia's own peace-keeping force was being directly attacked. None of these points applied to NATO. The Russian government therefore concludes that it acted perfectly legitimately in defending South Ossetia from Georgian aggression.

Two conclusions follow from this. Firstly, the defeat of Georgia is a setback for NATO and US imperialism, which weakens NATO in the Caucasus. Secondly, the workers and people of Georgia, including internal refugees who fled South Ossetia and Abkhazia in previous fighting, cannot rely on imperialism in their struggle for their rights. They have all been used as small change in the power politics of contending imperialist powers. The only alternative is the class struggle, beginning with the class struggle against the Russian and Georgian oligarchs.

On the Defence of South Ossetia

The killing of ordinary civilians in South Ossetia is criminal and completely reactionary. But it does not justify the further killing of ordinary civilians in Georgia. On the contrary this will serve to provoke further ethnic tit-for-tat killings in the future.

The systematic preparation for the war on both Georgian and Russian sides demonstrates that both sides are following their own, reactionary interests. On July 17th over 8,000 Russian troops and 700 units of heavy armour took part in a training exercise called "Kavkaz 2008." The exercises involved rehearsing fighting terrorists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and included preparations for evacuating refugees. The day before 600 Georgian troops conducted a joint military training exercise with 1,000 US troops in an operation called "Rapid reaction 2008."

The truth is that for the Kremlin the question of South Ossetia and the rights of the Ossetians is only of secondary importance.

The fact that the theatre of war extended far beyond South Ossetia and Abkhazia also underlines that the aim of the Russian rulers was not the defence of Ossetian people as they claimed, but they wanted to inflict a blow to Georgia and undermine its stability as an independent entity, in order to enforce a regime change in Tbilisi. The maps below show the areas of fighting and Russian bombardments.

The question of peaceful relations in the Caucasus will not be resolved by the presence of any number of armies in the region. Putin declared that South Ossetia will not be reintegrated into Georgia. It is also clear that South Ossetia is too small to function as a viable separate state, and that any declaration of national independence would likely be a step towards its integration into the Russian Federation.

Imperialism and capitalism are part of the problem, not the solution. The national question simply cannot be solved within capitalism. This is true not for ideological reasons, but for very material ones. Lenin described the national question as a matter of bread. The only way to solve it is through the development of the productive forces. This can be achieved only liberating oppressed nationalities from imperialist interference and can be fully developed only by means of the expropriation of the property of imperialist companies and of the local oligarchs and harmonic planning of the productive forces under the democratic control and management of the workers.

How can the question of return for all refugees be solved on a capitalist basis? If we consider it in the frame of capitalism it would only mean increased competition to access fewer resources, jobs, houses, medical assistance, education, and other services. It would provoke even sharper tensions on national or religious lines. Independence for South Ossetia or its integration in the Russian federation would end up inevitably in the ethnic cleansing of the Georgian minority of the South Ossetian population, which in turn will strengthen the resentment of the Georgian population and prepare new instability and wars.

The Complexity of the National Question in the Caucasus

The Caucasus has been for thousands of years a crossroad of different peoples, languages and religions. The perspective of a physical separation of the different peoples as a "solution" to the national question is reactionary madness.

Let's for example see the case of North Ossetia today, as well as other national Republics in the Caucasus. With the collapse of the USSR North Ossetians, who were Russian citizens, fought against their Ingush neighbours, who were also Russian citizens. This war was the tragic result of Stalin's catastrophic policies on the national question. Hundreds of thousands of Ingush (as well as Chechen) people were exiled on his orders in the 1940s (see Stalin Liquidates Two Republics by Ted Grant).

Much of the land of the Ingush people has not been returned to them. Thousands of Ingush still live in primitive conditions in what are basically refugee camps. The potential for violence at any moment explains why terrorists chose Beslan, a town in North Ossetia, for a horrific terrorist attack on a school on September 1st, 2004. They wanted Ossetians to assume the terrorists were Ingush, and to provoke a new civil war, which could have happened in 2004 and could still happen in the future. Yet the Ossetians who moved onto their land and worked on it for two or three generations, and who also have nowhere else to go, also have rights that need to be considered. This is a complicated and sensitive question.

Back to Lenin!

In his book, Russia - From Revolution to Counterrevolution, written in 1996, Ted Grant summed up the approach of Lenin and the Bolsheviks to the national question, which is worth quoting at length:

"Tsarist Russia was a prison house of nationalities. One of the key reasons for the success of the Bolshevik Revolution was its approach to the national question. Lenin realised that the only way a new socialist federation could be built was on the basis of complete equality of the national minorities that made up Russia. There could be no compulsion of one nation by another. A socialist republic could only be established on a voluntary basis, as a voluntary union of nationalities. As a consequence, the right of nations to self determination was enshrined on the banner of the party and the young Soviet republic, up to and including secession.

"Lenin stood for the unity of the peoples of the former Tsarist empire, but it had to be a voluntary unity. That is why he insisted from the very beginning on the right to self-determination. This idea which is frequently misinterpreted to mean a demand for separation is entirely incorrect. The Bolsheviks did not advocate separation, but defended the broadest possible extension of national self-determination, up to and including separation. No one has the right to oblige a people to live within the confines of a state when the majority do not wish to do so. But the right to self-determination no more implies the demand to separate than the right to divorce means the demand that all couples must separate, or that the right to abortion means that all pregnancies must be terminated."

But is also important to point out that:

"The right of self-determination was an important part of Lenin's programme, insofar as it demonstrated clearly to the oppressed workers and peasants (especially the latter) of Poland, Georgia, Latvia and the Ukraine that the Russian workers had no interest in oppressing them and would firmly defend their right to determine their own destiny. But this was only half of Lenin's programme on the national question. The other half was equally as important - the need to uphold the union of the proletariat above all national, linguistic or religious differences. As far as the Bolshevik Party was concerned, Lenin always opposed any tendency to divide the party (and the workers' movement in general) along national lines."

Lenin was opposed to any manifestation of Great Russian chauvinism. "I declare war to the death of Great Russian chauvinism", he wrote to Kamenev, and regarded this question as so important to determine his irrevocable break with Stalin when he was already terminally ill on the question of the shameful behaviour of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky against the opposition of the Georgian Communists' to their plans for the Federation. As Ted Grant explained:

"After the Revolution, Lenin hoped that there could be a voluntary and fraternal union of the peoples of the former Tsarist empire in the form of a Soviet Federation. To this end, he demanded that the nationalities be treated with extreme sensitivity. Every manifestation of Great Russian chauvinism was to be rooted out. As a matter of fact, for some time after October, the word ‘Russia' disappeared altogether from official documents. The official name of the homeland of October was simply ‘the Workers' State'."

Lenin's approach is the key to look for a way out from this nightmare. In the Caucasus and in the rest of the former Soviet Union.

For a New October

The class struggle in all these countries, beginning with Russia, is now poisoned by the national question. Russian workers will not gain anything from the war in Georgia except an emboldened Putin and the mushrooming of neo-Nazi organisations, which will engage in violence against workers and youth from the Caucasus, and against Russian workers and their organisations in the future. Only the Marxists can provide a programme and a perspective for resolving the scars of the national question, which is dependent on the struggle of the working class and the establishment of a socialist federation of states in the former Soviet Union and internationally.

The socialist alternative may seem far-off and difficult. But the foundations for it were already laid in the past in practice by the October Revolution. This is an inspiration for the struggle against capitalism, imperialism and nationalism today. Otherwise, the capitalist present is horror without end.

Today the enemy of the Russian working class are their new capitalist masters. This is already visible in the powerful class hatred against the capitalists. The mood amongst workers is not different in other former Soviet republics, including Georgia, where there is a sharp class polarisation in society and oligarchs of the likes of Kakha Benkuidze, who made billions in the metal industry in the Urals during the privatisations and subsequently became a minister in Saakashvili's government, and famously promised "to privatise everything except his conscience."

Yet in Georgia there has recently been a reaction against Georgian oligarchs, with mass protests in Tblisi towards the end of last year, which were violently crushed by the Georgian state. At the moment in Georgia there will be confusion and shock at the war, and bitterness against Russia. But the class struggle will break through the hysteria. The nationalist demagogy of Saakashvili is a sign of his weakness. Without it he does not have a stable base of support. All bourgeois politicians and policies in Georgia are empty. The workers have no option but to fight back.

In fact, the rash of wars that scar the planet are not only a sign of reaction. These wars are also a sign of the crisis of the system on a global scale. Globalisation means not only imperialism as an economic and military fact, but also the globalised crisis of capitalism and the potential for the workers to fight back against the ills of capitalism in every country. If Lenin was speaking to workers today, he would begin by hammering home the world crisis of capitalism, and making concrete the perspective of the world revolution, which has already begun in Latin America, and is finding an echo in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

But just as Lenin would underline that there are two Americas, the America of the capitalist and the America of the worker, he also explained at every opportunity that there are two Russias. Inequality has never reached such burning depths as at the present time. The Rublyovka district near Moscow has most billionaires per square kilometre in the world, just as the Russian Duma has more billionaires than any other parliament in the world. These fabulously rich live in effect in another country, with special police protection, like a court procession, when they travel on the roads, stopping the traffic. They have no contact with ordinary Russians, whose incomes are being eroded by inflation, or are being cut outright by the greed of the bosses. This was the case with the miners of Severouralsk.

After two decades of attacks the Russian workers are beginning to fight back. This may be temporarily cut across by the frenzy of Russia's military success. But the Kremlin's foreign policy holds nothing progressive for Russian workers, who have no choice but to fight against their capitalist masters both at home and abroad.

There is no way out for Russian and Georgian workers than to join forces together against imperialist meddling and their own exploiters. The only tradition that can unite all workers regardless for their nationality, language, colour and religion is that of Bolshevism and the tradition of October.

Long live proletarian solidarity!

For a new October!

For a socialist federation of the Caucasus and internationally!



Mad Zionist said...

How do you propose drumming up support from the people for your revolutionary ideas?

Frank Partisan said...

MZ: This is right from the post.

The socialist alternative may seem far-off and difficult. But the foundations for it were already laid in the past in practice by the October Revolution. This is an inspiration for the struggle against capitalism, imperialism and nationalism today. Otherwise, the capitalist present is horror without end.

Mad Zionist said...

Ren, that's just a a general overview opinion. I mean, what legwork on the ground is being done to advance this cause? What do you believe should be done on the ground level?

SecondComingOfBast said...

Great post, which pointed out some aspects I hadn't considered. I was starting to think I had Great Russian blood there for a while. Time to take a breath.

Still, I hold in general to what I've been saying, which if anything this post also reinforced, most especially concerning the presence of US personnel in Tbilisi. How could they not have known, therefore how could they not have been involved, or at least tacitly approved?

Mad Zionist has a point, though, Ren. Slogans are not a strategy. I'm not so sure what if anything can be done to loosen the grip of the national wealth from the hands of the oligarchs, but I almost promise you socialism is not a viable option.

It's probably going to take a mass movement that will put across the legitimate need for concessions to the working class, but the communist party will probably cut theirs and everybody elses throats by making unreasonable and, when you get right down to it, irrelevant and ill-advised demands.

As long as bourgeoisie remains a dirty word in the socialist lexicon, you succeed only in marginalizing yourselves, but I'm not sure you can understand that.

Dave Brown said...

Generally agree with the Leninist method. Wood's perspective shows the re-emergence of inter-imperialist rivalry over Georgia in 2003. That is borne out by the events since.
However, I don't see the current standoff as a victory for Russia. Why? Because the US will now completely militarise Georgia to defend the pipeline, and Poland has agreed to the US missile shield.
I think the US is advancing all around the perimeter of Russia and China with its color revolutions. We are back into a 1914 situation of two blocs of imperialists and its allies, the dominant US/UK/Israel/and the new Europe of former workers state, lined up against the 'old Europe' of France/Germany/with Russia/China, competing for control of Central Asia, Africa and LA.
Since nationalism in the service of imperialism is reactionary, and there can be no national independence short of socialism, we have to say first and always, workers turn your guns against your own ruling class.
For a socialist federation of eurasia!

Mariamariacuchita said...

This was an excruciatingly well-researched analysis. :)

Never underestimate Russia. If I read this right, are you saying that there are many similarities between the imperialisms of both Russia and the US, such as:
1. Russia and the US both like to use smaller,weaker satellites/countries as pawns to fulfill their imperialistic objectives, regardless of the mayhem this creates for workers and civilians.
2. The workers of both countries exist at the whim of their leaders, and the military objectives trump the needs of the workers.
3. The reverse is also true- workers of both countries should dictate/guide policy to the leaders, but this isn't happening, as the leaders are more interested in their power games and have the power.

Questions: How are the Russian workers beginning to fight back; specifically what are they doing?
Do you envision American workers ever doing the same, given their demoralized state and decay of the unions here.
Where did all these newly megarich Russians get their money? Oil? Drugs? Human trafficking? Arms dealing? The Russian lottery?

Frank Partisan said...

MZ: Interesting question.

Politically groups are judged by their program, theory and how they act during events.

Trotskyism in East Europe in general, is small and scattered. In slow periods, you recruit, and prepare. If Putin keeps up his bravado, we'll grow.

Events have incredible effects on political work. It shouldn't surprise anyone, we're growing fast in Venezuela.

They should emphacize "Two Russias." The Russian parliment has more billionaires, than any parliment in the world.

Pagan: Capitalism never disappoints as for providing issues. It's a dynamic, ever expanding for new markets system. The production is social, and the profit is private. There is always issues. This year has seen incredibly militant strikes in Russia. Georgia's government only can get support through nationalism. That won't last, with high unemployment etc

Coalition is always a good tactic, on single issues, with principled demands. I never work politically with only those I agree with.

Dave: All nationalism is reactionary.

I'm happy you liked the post.

Maria: There has been militant strikes in Russia lately.

I think when Obama shows his true face, there will be an opening like never before in the US. The main enemy of progressive movements is the Democratic Party. It's the graveyard of social movements. The main job of someone in a union, is to promote a labor party.

Russia gets $$ from all on your list.

There is no such thing as national liberation for a small country. Kosovo depends on Serbia economically.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

Seems like Poland is next in the imperial wars ...

Aaron A. said...

Watching Russian TV and the BBC, both sides had embedded reporters. They must have been taking notes from another invasion.

"They're Saudi Arabia with trees," He must have been intoxicated. I don't think many people see the similarity.

Larry Gambone said...

MZ and Pagan T, Socialism does not come out of the air, nor is it some idealist fantasy. It exists potentially or embryonically already. (I can expand on this if someone wants) The role of socialists is to create theoretical clarity and defeat groups and ideologies that undermine working class unity. The role of socialists is more one of explaining, generalizing, expanding this socialist potential, rather than imposing an ideology from above.
Of course, a lot of socialist groups do not act this way, getting caught up in sectarianism and power-games, but this does not mean that the above is not the general approach to take.

Frank Partisan said...

I was asked in an email from Yossi, who lives in Israel to post this comment:

The Marxist Posiiton on
Many years have passed since Lenin raised his revolutionary slogan:" the less evil is the defeat for imperialist Russia. He did so because even though other countries on the other side were imperialists, he lived in Russia and the enemy first of all in an imperialist country at home.

The war of Russia against Georgia is a clear indication of an end of a period when the US was the only super power of the world. Many supporters of the US "new order" are now in tears.

Those who fail to see that imperialism is a stage of the advanced capitalist states that include Russia, Japan , Australia –New Zealand Europe and Israel in addition to the US and not simply the US, must well come the victory of Russian imperialism as a step in the right direction. For those of us who are Leninists the defeat of Russia in this conflict with the non imperialist state- Georgia is the only correct line.

Most of the left groups correctly do not side with Russian imperialism in the war. However, wrongly they do not side military with Georgia because of its right wing regime in alliance with the US. Confusion between regime and a state leads to reformism . For example siding with Western imperialism against Nazi Germany rather than struggling for a defeat for both as imperialists was already during WWII a symptom of reformist pressures.

To have the correct position from a Marxist perspective: siding military with Georgia against Russian imperialism without any political support for Georgia, Marxists have to differentiate between military and political support.

Lenin in 1917 did differentiate between the two when he defended Kerensky's government military but not politically.

Would US and NATO step in and fight Russia our position will change to revolutionary defeat for all imperialist sides. This in essence will be the beginning of WWIII.

However mean time the US and NATO are not involved directly and for this reason most people who support US imperialism are in shock.

It is a reformist mistake not to take the position of Revolutionary defeat for Russia and Revolutionary defense for Georgia.

To understand this question even in a more clear way is to remember Iraq. Sadam was the instrument of US for many many years including in his war against Iran. He tried to occupy Kuwait with the assumption the US gave him green light. He was wrong. Now in the war of the US against Iraq the revolutionary position was and is Revolutionary defeat for the US Revolutionary defense of Iraq.

Georgia has been acting for many years as US instrument against Russia, yet in this war the US deserted Georgia and so is Israel.

There are many implication for the desertion of the US its weak ally-Georgia. It means among other things that If the Israeli ruling class want to attack Iran they are not likely to get the US actively on their side.



SecondComingOfBast said...


This is just my opinion, but I don't think there's any such thing as working class unity. Any attempts to impose such an artificial construct will fall apart the more expansive it becomes. Human beings of any class aren't all monolithic drones.

That's just as true of the bourgeois, who are no more united as a class than the working class. In fact, if there is any one thing in which the working class is united, it's that they all want to be bourgeois.

Society itself is embryonic, and the one thing that unites all classes is family. That is what extends up to tribal, ethnic and even national unity, all an outgrowth of family.

There will never be international unity, because we will never all be one big happy family. We're too dysfunctional on the local level, how could we possibly function on a larger scale?

Frank Partisan said...

MFL: The missiles in Poland are less likely this week, than a month ago for sure.

Yossi: Thank you for your comment.

To start with, my military support for anyone is pretty nil.

I would be against aligning with Georgia explicitly, because except for nationalist rallies, it's unpopular with the working class of Georgia. It has not broken with its US ties.

I don't see invading Iran as a reality by US or Israel.

Aaron: The US reporters aren't interested in being embedded I bet.

Larry: I agree.

The group I'm associated with, has people scattered throughout Eastern Europe. Our biggest impact is in Pakistan, Mexico and Venezuela.

Pagan: I learned this high school civics class, in black and white TV days. Changing laws changes behavior.

Take civil rights laws. You might not personally like someone from another ethnic group, but if there is punishment for racist or chauvinist behavior, you'll adapt to the change.

Changing the economic structure, changes the superstructure of institutions.

Instead of the United States of America it will become the United States of the Americas.

white rabbit said...

Very good article descriptively. Non-Leninists will struggle with the prescription.

Larry Gambone said...

Pagan, Working class unity is a relative, not an absolute concept. In an absolute sense wc unity would be foolish idealism, of course. But it is the practical, relative sense, that socialists are talking about. For sure, divisions exist and the ruling classes do everything to promote racism, sexism, nationalism, religious clap trap, narcissism and all-round ignorance, but without relative wc unity, there would be no trade unions, no sucessful strikes, no mass-based social democratic or communist parties, indeed we would still be mired in a Dickensian world. As for world peace, wars are not the result of people not liking each other, but have more profound causes. I suggest a little exercise. Think of all the wars of the last 100 years and try to find some examples were not related to imperialism. (wars of inter-imperialist rivalry, wars of imperial conquest, wars of national liberation, and blow-back from imperial policies and colonialism.) Off the top of my head, other than maybe the "Soccer War" between Honduras ans El Salvador, I can think of none. In other words, without imperialism, there would be few wars, and for all intents and purposes we would have a peaceful world.

SecondComingOfBast said...


Okay I agree with you *somewhat* on the dangers of imperialism, but I just can't subscibe to the notion that internationalist socialism (or any other kind of internationalism) is any better, or that capitalism in and of itself is "evil". Capitalism, like any other system (including socialism) is just a tool. It's a means to an end. The key is ending abuse of either system and demanding accountability.

A demand for accountability limits significantly the prospect for foreign intrigues and adventurism.

People should be good neighbors but at the end of the day they should go to their own homes. Internationalism (of any kind, not just socialism) is like building one big giant mansion and thinking everybody in your town should have to live in it and everybody will make out fine. No they won't.

I understand the reasoning behind this specific posts claims that a federation of small states like Georgia is the only option to prevent this kind of thing from happening as a protection against incursions by larger states.

But really, why does it have to be a "socialist" federation? Why can't it be a capitalist federation, or for that matter a feudalist federation, or a fascist federation, or a theocratic one based on Orthodox Christianity?

I'm not advocating any of that, of course, just stating the obvious, that the people should decide what kind of system they want. Their federation isn't worth much if it's forced on them, right?

I know Ren says that laws change people minds through adaptation, but it doesn't happen overnight. After forty-plus year of the Civil Rights Act there is still covert and not-so-covert racism here in this country.

But there is even a larger point than that, which is, who has the right to pass such laws? It's one thing to protect the rights of minorities, but it's something else again to pass laws establishing an entire political or economic system against the wishes of the people, or with no regard for the rights of the minority.

That would be pouring gas on an already burning fire, at worse, or at best smothering it with a bunch of old mattresses and tires and assuming it's smothered out. All it will do is smolder and eventually burst into flames.

What about the rights of the Abkhazians and the South Ossettians, by the way? They evidently desire to be a part of Russia again. Is their desires not as legitimate as some alleged embryonic desire for a socialist system?

Frank Partisan said...

I'll be online late tonight to reply.

Handala said...

It was interesting watching following the news of this was on Arabic TV station.

Russia's new arab speaking TV station (Russia Today) made a big deal about the Israeli involvement with the Georgian army with lots of program detailing the relation between the two, as if trying to gain support in the arab world. On the other hand Al Arabia(Saudi TV station) as well as Al Jazeera were using a pro-US rhetoric in their coverage.

I still havent made up my mind about all of what is happening in the Caucasus, while i'm in favor of breaking the US unilateral grip on the world, i'm not in favor of having russia play the same role the US has been playing for the last 18 years. I just wonder how will the situation there, effect our region(M.E.), will Russia have a different attitude towards Iran's nuclear program? and the whole Arab-Zionist conflict?

Frank Partisan said...

White Rabbit: I agree and expect disagreement.

Darko: Israel didn't help Georgia anymore than the US. They hung Georgia to dry. The Georgian government believed the US would directly to intervene to help them. The fact that they didn't isn't good news for Israel. The message is that if Iran is attacked, the US will not help.

Russia has except for the last 15 years been an empire. I think they are interested in being a regional power, not an international power. Nothing different for the ME. Make no mistake about it. Russia is a capitalist and imperialist country.

Between Great Russian chauvinism and US imperialism, I'm neutral. This is not about defending socialist USSR.

Larry: Think of all the wars of the last 100 years and try to find some examples were not related to imperialism. (wars of inter-imperialist rivalry, wars of imperial conquest, wars of national liberation, and blow-back from imperial policies and colonialism.) Off the top of my head, other than maybe the "Soccer War" between Honduras ans El Salvador, I can think of none.

You got me there.

Pagan: Can a federation of states occur under capitalism? If it could, I would support it. That would make one task easier. The more capitalism does to make life better, the better it would be under socialism.

In every single revolution there is a minority that doesn't want to go along, and have to be repressed. Even in the American Revolution there was pro-British Americans.

National liberation in this period is a cruel joke. The issue of Abkhazians and the South Ossettians, is more complicated because those areas have oppressed minorities. I think the right to self determination is not an absolute right. I didn't think it was smart, but Kosovo has a right to be a nation. They don't have the right to oppress minority Serbians. Under capitalism this situation is a prescription for ethnic cleansing.

Nationalism is your Achilles Heel. It played its role in the transition from feudalism to capitalism. A nation beats the hell out of a fiefdom. Now world bodies need their time on stage. What if each state in the US was a nation? There would be no freeways or even TV stations that cover the country.

SecondComingOfBast said...

I want to give you some thoughtful answers to these, but I don't have time to right now to go into a lot of detail. Plus I want to look a couple of things up. The key is in building a structure that can last. I'll get back to you on this sometime tomorrow or tomorrow night.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Russian Mission Creep alarms me, as does all the dead civilians bodies piling up.

We learn nothing.

Mad Zionist said...


What is nationalism? It's pride in your country's way of life, and the strong desire not to let the enemy of your way of life impose their unwanted ways upon you. To be a pacifist is to be a slave.

Ducky's here said...

Poland next? Uh uh. It's the Crimea, baby.

The world seems to be getting ready for a big round of idiot's delight. However, it has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with control of resources.

Some control oil. The really forward looking folks control water.

Ducky's here said...

"Society itself is embryonic, and the one thing that unites all classes is family. That is what extends up to tribal, ethnic and even national unity, all an outgrowth of family."

True enough and pathetic nationalism is the best weapon available to prevent the tribe becoming larger. Now in who's interest is that?

ortho said...

Ren, this is a wonderful article! Thanks so much for posting it!

Mad Zionist is right: "To be a pacifist is to be a slave." Brill observation, mate!

Blood and guts fuel the revolutionary machine! Violence is the only tool of the revolutionary!

SecondComingOfBast said...


We will never be all one big happy family. Artificial attempts to make us one will never work.

All the current internationalist movements will crash and burn eventually, just like all the previous incarnations, and all future ones, just as they deserve.

The world will never get along by treaty, and no group of leaders can make us love each other by legislative fiat.

Whether it comes about by war like most empires or comes about by marriage alliances like the Hapsburgs, they all have a limited shelf life, and the current internationalist incarnations, and any future ones, are thankfully as limited.

You might be fooled by the pretty wrappings, but I can smell the stench of the same old garbage emanating from inside the box.

The irony is we would all actually get along better without their input. But we aren't really supposed to get along are we? We have big bad bloodthirsty Russians to protect each other from, until somebody finally decides its time to learn to love them too. Then suddenly everybody is learning to cook borscht and wearing cool little furry Russian hats. I think I might be slightly ahead of that curve. When everybody else takes it up I'll be saying "been there done that when you were quivering under your blankets and watching them come out from under your bed at night".

Nationalism is what you do when you lock your doors before you go to bed at night. If you're really smart you keep them locked in the daytime. It's nothing personal, it's just common sense.

Larry Gambone said...

Top down attempts at internationalism - ie liberal, bourgeois ones, will always fail. They will fail because they fail to appreciate the force that exists behind modern wars - capitalist imperialism. Bottom-up internationalism, however is doing rather well, thanks in part to the ease of travel and the internet, but also the view from accumulated experience that a relatively peaceful cooperative world is a better place to live than the opposite.

Frank Partisan said...

Ortho: Violence is only a tactic, used if needed. Revolution is also about boring meetings, passing out leaflets, getting signatures on petitions and singing songs about Partisans.

Daniel Hoffman-Gill: As long as the US is bogged down in the Middle East, the Russians can reasser themselves.

MZ: Nationalism can't meet people's needs particularly in this era. American business is even leaving Mexico, because wages are too high.

When pollution comes from a chimney, it doesn't stop at a border. Problems need int'l solutions.

Pacifism is a tactic.

Ducky: What the world called reform in the 1990s, the Russians thought of it as a national tragedy.

In Colorado water rights is an issue in the presidential election.

This incident with Georgia, put to rest the idea that the US's main danger is "rogue nations."

Pagan: Check your email.

Cuba needs oil, and Venezuela needs medical personnel. Cuba receives oil from Venezuela, while Venezuela receives Cuban doctors. That's how internationalism works.

When your doors are locked, you are not doing so, because of everyone who walks down the street. It's because of very few people.

What would be gained if Kentucky became a seperate country?

Larry: To the multinationals, nationalism is quaint. They are ahead of the curve.

Graeme said...

good discussion, i must say. (happy 300th post Ren.)

SecondComingOfBast said...

Ren-thanks for that e-mail, after I read some more of it I might do a post on some aspect of it. What I've read so far looks very interesting.

Also, about your comments just now. I think my strident objection to internationalism overpowers other facets. I am not against international trade or cooperation, or even mutual defense pacts. I just think they work better when they are composed bi-laterally. In fact, I know they are when it comes to the US.

Actually, Kentucky is in a sense a separate country, ideally, that's just the point. Kentucky is, or should be, an autonomous state within the US, just as South Ossettia has been within Georgia, or Tibet is supposed to be within China.

That is the only thing that can work. I'm probably getting ready to piss some people off, but the US Constitution is the best guide for how to go about creating such a structure when it comes to small nations like in the Balkans, the Baltic, etc.

I'm not saying that the constitution is perfect for these states, mind you, and should be adapted by them word for word, just that it is a good guide to start from. It doesn't even have to be capitalist, if you insist, though it should be.

Even in the US, if the constitution was read correctly, a state can adopt socialist policies if it so chooses. Other states ideally are free to try other approaches to their various state issues. The Bill of Rights just sets firm limits on what the federal government can do and, since passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, it sets limits on what kinds of laws states can pass pertaining to its own citizens. As long as the federal and state governments adhere to those limitations, they can pretty much do as they will.

As far as any kind of extensive, worldwide federation of states goes, you can forget that. Whether capitalist or socialist, it will eventually go the way of all other previous incarnations.

In the meantime, why would you want it otherwise? Don't look now, but that infrastructure for a socialist internationalist state you're dreaming of can easily be transformed into a capitalist one under the right and unforeseen circumstances. Uh oh.

In the meantime, I'm still cruising along here striving for bourgeosie status. So are most other people. Most of them are working class stiffs.

Until then, can we all just get along and agree that NATO should go the way of the Dodo bird?

Frank Partisan said...

Graeme: Thanks for the comment.

Pagan: Some of the info from, was used in this post.

I think the Constitution of the US, is the wrong document for all nations. I would counterpose the Bill of Right, born of revolution.

Getting rid of NATO, isn't a discussion point here. From even a bourgeoise view, they have no military strength.

I never ruled out that any portion of a socialist program, couldn't be reversed. Russia had a counterrevolution, with Stalinism. The whole nature of a dialectic, is constant motion.

Entdinglichung said...

an interesting statement by the Federation of Edication, Science and Technical Workers, CRAS-IWA from Russia

Ducky's here said...

"I never ruled out that any portion of a socialist program, couldn't be reversed. Russia had a counterrevolution, with Stalinism. The whole nature of a dialectic, is constant motion."

History has largely forgotten a number of schools in that early revolutionary period such as the Mensheviks.

The disappearance of social democracy from the world stage has never been properly studied in dialectic fashion or otherwise.

Ducky's here said...

Pagan - I think much of the Constitution was a compromise and a kluge, with the Bill of Rights excepted and that was an afterthought.

Lifetime Supreme Court? I think that was a serious mistake.
Electoral College? We proved we can't handle close elections. A fiasco.
Now why should a group of states with a population less than New York City control 25% of the Senate vote?

The Constitution is hardly a model document and I assume that is why no other country has adopted the model.

Anonymous said...


SecondComingOfBast said...


Life is about compromises. The Bill of Rights was the biggest and most important compromise in the Constitution. It wasn't an afterthought, a lot of thought and debate went into it. Hamilton didn't want it. The constitution would be just another quaint historical document without it.

With the Fourteenth Amendment, it actually evolved beyond being merely a States Rights section, to an individual rights section.

"Lifetime Supreme Court? I think that was a serious mistake."

So do I. It was meant to insure stability, but they went too far. Maybe term limits of some kind, or an automatic re-approval process every six years with a two thirds vote required for dismissal.

"Electoral College? We proved we can't handle close elections. A fiasco."

It's screwed up because there is no proportional representation. The parties screwed it up by making it winner take all, except in Maine and Nebraska, where the electors are divided proportionately. This is the model all states should adopt, ideally.

If they did, the electoral college vote would be an accurate reflection of the popular vote of the entire nation-not just the heavier populated areas, which is all that would be represented without the electoral college. Without it, areas with smaller populations would have no representation whatsoever in the election.

In a close election those small states with 3, 4, or 5 electoral votes can make all the difference, so candidates pay attention to them, the people, and the issues important to them. Otherwise they would not. They would just be areas with real human beings, with real, legitimate concerns, but their numbers wouldn't be enough to warrant the attention of political candidates.

"Now why should a group of states with a population less than New York City control 25% of the Senate vote?"

Because they are sovereign states. The population total is irrelevant. If they are made up of just enough people to qualify for one seat in the House of Representatives, that's all the matters.

Majority rule is not always a good thing. Majorities can make dumb, stupid decisions. They do it all the time.

Look at it from the perspective of an issue where you might agree with that statement. I've read enough of your comments here and on Beak's blog to feel fairly confident in saying you would say the Senate vote to allow Bush to invade Iraq was a stupid decision made by the majority. You would probably say the majority decision to sign the Patriot Act was arguably even more stupid than that.

So why did the majority make such stupid mistakes? Because they were caught up in the moment and voted based on political gain, fear, patriotic fervor, and any number of other reasons. Most Senators, including Democrats, who voted for the Patriot Act, I am told never even read the thing or got a concise general rundown of the most important parts of it. They just voted for it for the reasons I stated.

The things in the Constitution you are calling into question was meant to limit the likelihood of such things, with their potentially devastating long-term ramifications.

Obviously, it doesn't always work, but it does work often enough that things like this don't happen nearly as often as they otherwise would.

It was meant to extend the franchise to all citizens, and to enable limitations on abuses by one branch of government by enabling the applying of needed brakes by other branches.

It's not perfect, I agree with you there. It's the best there is though. Unlike most other constitutions, we actually do have freedom of speech here. Our First Amendment isn't perfect either, but at least you can't be hauled off before a bunch of black robed Spanish would-be conquistadores or Austrian closet Nazis for hate speech.

People like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would love to see that happen, but so far, thankfully, as long as you don't engage in provable slander or libel or purposely incite violence or panic, you can pretty much say anything you want here.

SecondComingOfBast said...


"I think the Constitution of the US, is the wrong document for all nations."

Wow. I agree with you one hundred percent. Yes, it would be the wrong document for *all* nations. So would any other document.

I was talking about the subject of the post, a federation of Balkan/Baltic states. If there ever was such an animal, the US Constitution would be the perfect model for it. The operative word here being "model".

"Getting rid of NATO, isn't a discussion point here."

Why not? NATO is important enough you made it one of your post labels, why not discuss getting rid of it? It's the cause of the problem, in my opinion.

Do you think a Federation of Socialist Balkan and/or Baltic States would even be possible as long as NATO exists? Do you think they would allow it? I don't.

"From even a bourgeoise view, they have no military strength."

Their military strength is not the issue. It's all about the money. It's like a neighborhood protection racket in reverse. Instead of "you pay me or I'll run roughshod over your neighborhood" it's "if you let us move into your neighborhood we'll pay you, but you have to do what we tell you."

People are missing the boat on this. Fear of Russia is a factor for why these small countries are going along with this, but it's not the only factor, nor in fact is it even the most important factor.

The most important factor is that joining NATO is a first tentative baby step toward inclusion in the European Union. That's the main overriding goal here.

Russia is now the fly in the EU ointment, like Serbia was before it. Russia won't be so easy to discount. That's the real story here. All the rest is demagoguery and populist patriotism and fear-mongering.

Frank Partisan said...

Farmer: I will in the future post a full analysis of Colombia, based on Chavez calling on FARC to disarm and give up guerilla war.

Pagan: Overall you are correct about NATO. Particularly in light of recent events, as it said in Stradfor, the Baltic Countries are having to ask if the US will be there for them.

Ducky: My comrades hold office in the PPP, which is part of the Second Int'l. We go into to influence and recruit. In addition we support the PSUV in Venezuela, the Labor Party in the UK etc.

It is not true Trotsky was a Menshivik until 1917, when he joined the Bolsheviks. His actual role was working for 12 years to unite the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. Their Achilles Heel was support for their national bourgeoisie in World War I.

When the working class is politically involved, the first thing it does, is go to parties it is familiar with; in France it's the Communist and Socialist Party, in the UK it's Labor etc.

I'm not sure how to answer your point. Many on the left, don't agree with my enthusiastic entryism into various Social Democratic Parties. Bolsheviks joined police unions.

Anonymous said...


I look forward to reading it.

btw - You do realize that NATO is starting the preparatory process for Georgian membership now...

Anonymous said...

They'll vote again on whether or not to accept Georgia's Membership Action Plan (MAP) this December. I have a feeling that this one won't be rejected like last April's. I've also got a feeling Ukraine will get a "green light", too.

Anonymous said...

I guess Condi decided to write another long telegram to Europe.

the cordon around Russia tightens...

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

My god! I thought the post was fantastic in and of itself and then I begin reading the comments!

I think this post and the ensuing discussion is one that needs to be read by many bloggers and people in general.

You have brought a light to this, I had my own ideas, etc, but this, and the comments, is very informative and eye opening.

Thank you...

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

is, are...

Frank Partisan said...

Entdinglichung: That position is close to my mine.

FJ: I don't doubt the US will push NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine. Russia will need a quid pro quo, for it to work. I doubt it'll work, unless US withdraws from Iraq.

Poetryman: Thank you.

Mad Zionist said...

Ren, at what point do you and your commrades advocate crossing from soft methods like discussion, recruitment and leaflets, to taking the action of a physical rebellion?

Frank Partisan said...

MZ: No concept of violence in my lifetime. My role is to teach people the best tactic is coalition based on principle, and independence from the major parties.

If a Labor Party is formed from angry ex-Democrats, that would be the 1917 of my lifetime.

SecondComingOfBast said...


There are a lot of angry ex-Democrats in the world. I am one of them. A great many of them, maybe even most of them, might be willing to join a LABOR party. I doubt they would be interested in joining an internationalist party of any stripe, socialist or otherwise.

Most of us angry ex-Democrats, at least those of us from Midwestern states, are America Firsters with a fierce desire to scratch and claw our way up into the ranks of the bourgeoisie. (if by bourgeoisie you mean Middle Class).

The other angry Democrats, the ones who already are bourgeosie, are the ones that would more likely be attracted to your ideal Labor Party. The only problem is, they wouldn't bring many laborers along with them. Well, not real American laborers, but at least you'd have a steady supply of fresh picked produce. I think they're your best bet.

I have this strange idea that the current bourgeosie Democrats would have no problem envisioning themselves in charge of worker's councils and Cominterns and the like, deciding issues for the good of their Mexican proletariat. They would have the best of both worlds. If their workers get sick they don't have to bother to bring them a basket of fruit.

Maybe in two or three decades there'll be enough of them to start a real party, and the Democrats and Republicans would probably form a new coalition as the new/old second party.

Third parties just don't cut it here.

Jobove - Reus said...

It is a pleasure to return to greet and to enter your blog yourself, after a few days of vacations
The strong one embraced from Reus Catalonia

Mariamariacuchita said...

I also would like to see a Labor Party made up of not only disenfranchised Democrats but of all who seek change and are tired of being manipulated and war-mongered by the government.

I was thinking about how common words and concepts you use like "imperialistic" and "proletarian solidarity" have been co-opted and transformed into a negative "Commie" definition in the US in my lifetime. (OK, I know there are many different groups and distinctions of philosophy, but Americans basically lump you all together as Commies and radicals.)

I believe there would have to be a lot of needed footwork to gain the trust of the average worker to a cause seen or interpreted as radical or "foreign".

Also, I am not sure that Americans really believe they have a right to a job, benefits, vacations, etc. and they are afraid of the language that you use. They still want to conform and "fit in" to the point of being mindlessly American.

How would you get around the language barrier?

What would be the first step to creating this Labor Party, in your mind?

Frank Partisan said...

Té la mà Maria - Reus: Thank you for visiting.

Pagan: You and Maria are making similar points.

In Minnesota there are flashes of third party strength. Jesse Ventura was not the only third party governor we had. In the thirties we had a populist party called the Farmer Labor Party's Floyd Olsen as governor. That populist used the National Guard against a Trotskyist led strike in 1934, that stopped commerce in Minneapolis. Trotskyists controlled the Teamsters here.

It's the laws that bar third parties. In Texas for a third party to be on the ballot, you need to collect 90,000 signatures of voters eho didn't vote in a primary. In addition they are excluded from debates. The Dems and Republicans even exclude their own.

Maria: Because this post is from a socialist view, it naturally has words like imperialist. Every word I use politically, I try to have a precise meaning. It is easy to use a term US imperialism. This post contrary to many on the left, applies imperialism to Russia. Neither left or right fully undestand that.

If I get into a fight it usually is over principle. My comrades fought to have a slogan at an immigrants rights demonstration to be "Unconditional Legalization." We were opposed by Democrats and fake radicals like the local Maoists. A year later the same group, endorsed our slogans. Their experience changed them. The Dems and Maoists didn't keep their promises. They trust us atleast.

In the mean time, to build a labor party, is to support coalitions, independent of endorsing any candidates, based on principled demands.

It is embryonic, but some unions are interested in a labor party.

The marriage between Dems and union leaders, was started by the Stalinists in the Communist Party, who long ago gave up on socialism.

troutsky said...

Pagan- What unifies people across ethnic and nationalist lines is a desire to control ones own fate. This does not imply a monolithic "sameness" or end to antagonism. When people (including you) finally understand what prevents them from realizing true self-determination the revolution will be won.

Handala said...

Hey Renegade, as i said before, this war will certainly has effect on our situation in the M.E., and the
Syrian-Russian new reinforced alliance is the prove.
Gentleman, we are on the brink of a new cold war

SecondComingOfBast said...


I see where you're coming from, and I can agree with that to a point. If anything, I think a large part of the problem here is that US citizens have in fact given up a large measure of their rights to self-determination, and give more and more of our rightful power over to government control.

Government has its place-to protect our borders and national sovereignty, to "promote the general welfare and provide for the common defense" but way too often we allow ourselves to be manipulated into giving up our freedoms for a false security blanket. Once you give it up little by little it becomes harder to win it back.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Which, if I might add, is precisely why I have consistently spoken out against this recent madness pertaining to Russia and Georgia, and US involvement in it. It's just another way to ratchet up hostilities so the people will be willing to get in line behind what is an obvious drumbeat of government control.

And, I am very much afraid people in general are falling for it.

Frank Partisan said...

Darko: It is a war between imperialist powers, not the Cold War.

Pagan: Russia is able to take advantage of the US being overextended in the Middle East. I don't think it's as complicated as you make it.

Troutsky: Correcto. The discussion doesn't belong in utopian terms.

SecondComingOfBast said...


Complicated? Nothing complicated about it. The US wants to extend NATO into the Balkans and Baltic states, etc., Russia objects, and so the government ratchets up the rhetoric to bring everybody on board by playing off their fear of Russia. Seems pretty simple to me.

If it weren't for the constant drumbeat of anti-Russian rhetoric, most Americans would have no desire or inclination to engage in a showdown, diplomatic or otherwise, with the Russians, who understandably don't care much for the idea of NATO member warships docked in Baltic and Black Sea waters.

Frank Partisan said...

Pagan: Russians have been like that for decades. Few Americans understand it.

MC Fanon said...

This was a phenomenal piece. It's easily the best Marxist analysis of the situation South Ossetian conflict that I have read thus far. Thanks for posting!

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