Below we publish an exchange of letters between the LRP(USA) and the RCIT on the Syrian Revolution. The US group LRP requested to publish their letter since they felt slandered and misrepresented in an article which comrade Yossi Schwartz from the International Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine) wrote and the RCIT published on its website as well as in its journal Revolutionary Communism. (“Victory to the Revolution in Syria! The Second Anniversary of the Uprising in Syria”, Revolutionary Communism No.8, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa/victory-to-syrian-revolution)
The background of this exchange is the political differences between the ISL (and the RCIT) on one side and the LRP on the other side. These differences led to the programmatic and organizational break of the ISL comrades with the LRP with whom they were politically allied for some years. Since then the ISL and the RCIT started a process of close discussion and collaboration which recently resulted in the fusion of the two organizations. The ISL has become the RCIT-Section in Israel/Occupied Palestine.
The ISL explained the reasons for their split with the LRP in two documents which they published on their website (ISL’s Resignation Letter to the LRP, www.the-isleague.com/isl-lrp-split/#more-262, Summary of the ISL-LRP split, www.the-isleague.com/isl-lrp-split-3/#more-327). The Declaration of Fusion between the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and the Internationalist Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine) can be read at www.the-isleague.com/isl-rcit-fusion as well as www.thecommunists.net/rcit/declaration-of-fusion-with-isl.
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Letter from the LRP(USA)
Dear Comrades of the RCIT,
As you undoubtedly know, there are groups on the left that slanderously misrepresent the views of their political opponents. We have not seen any reason to think that the RCIT acts in this way. But you have published on your website an article by Yossi Schwartz of the ISL which contains an absolutely untrue and baseless charge against the League for the Revolutionary Party. We ask that you publish this letter on your website as soon as possible in order to correct the public record.
The article in question, “Victory to the Revolution in Syria! The Second Anniversary of the Uprising in Syria,” says in part:
“Another variant of left leaning groups that cannot deal with reality are those that cannot bring themselves to side with the mass movement in Syria because it is dominated by the Islamists. Among them “Stop the War” Coalition in Britain (dominated by Counterfire, a split from the Cliffite SWP, and the Communist Party of Britain), that has avoided dealing with the nature of the opposition in Syria; or groups like the LRP in the US that for two years has not been able to come with a position on Syria.”
As regards the LRP, this statement is absolutely untrue. The LRP has stood in solidarity with the Syrian masses against Bashar al-Assad’s brutal dictatorship from the beginning. We have published our position, participated in solidarity protests and spoken in defense of the revolution at public events. The RCIT may not be aware of our record, but Yossi Schwartz and the rest of the ISL certainly are. Our position appears in statements prominently featured on our website. One is a joint statement of the ISL and LRP published last November, which makes its support for the masses’ struggle perfectly clear. (See http://www.lrp-cofi.org/statements/gaza112312.html). A more extensive presentation of our attitude appears on our website in the ISL’s Land Day 2012 statement in a section on Syria that was written by the LRP. (http://lrp-cofi.org/statements/landday2012.html).That section says:
“In Syria, the Assad dictatorship claims to be a force against imperialism. In reality Bashar continues the policies of his father, who did imperialism’s dirty work in the 1970s and ’80s, invading Lebanon to crush popular uprisings and murderously repressing Palestinian and other struggles inside Syria as well. To keep his grip on power, Bashar al-Assad has balanced between rival powers, for example supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon as a bulwark against Israeli aggression, while at the same time enforcing peace on Syria’s border with the Zionist state and never really challenging Israeli control of the Golan Heights. No wonder so many figures in Israel’s ruling class fear the consequences of Assad’s potential fall from power.
“In the past year, the Assad regime has responded to peaceful protests demanding democratic reform by unleashing brutal repression, and has sought to divert the struggle against it into sectarian warfare. Whenever the most important immediate question of struggle is the masses’ need to defend themselves against counterrevolutionary repression, as it is in Syria today, revolutionaries are prepared to fight alongside all forces willing to defend the masses. At the same time, revolutionary socialists must not neglect any opportunity to advance the independent organization of working-class and poor people, or to criticize the role of all forces tied to capitalism, whose treacherous role must be guarded against.
“Thus, we defend the masses’ right to obtain weapons for self-defense from any possible source, while warning against the political strings bourgeois forces try to attach to such supplies. In particular, we must oppose all calls for the imperialists or their proxies to intervene against Assad; imperialist intervention could only result in exchanging one tyranny for another while encouraging further devastating interventions elsewhere. The common struggle forced upon the masses by an enemy like Assad makes criticism of pro-capitalist forces in the struggle all the more important. A range of bourgeois reformist forces have dominated the Syrian struggle from the start, from liberal reformists to Islamists. In particular, we must recognize and speak out against the apparently growing influence of reactionary Islamist forces in the resistance to Assad, some of whom seem willing to play along with the regime’s encouragement of sectarianism. In the struggle for democracy, revolutionaries must also champion the rights of all minorities and seek to mobilize a struggle for workers’ power by advocating the specific demands of interest to working-class and poor people.”
This shows that the suggestion that the LRP cannot bring itself to side with the mass movement in Syria is blatantly false.
Moreover, an LRP comrade joined the ISL at last year’s Land Day march in Israel and distributed this statement along with them. And when an Israeli leftist demanded that the contingent not display its placard with a slogan in defense of the Syrian revolution against Assad, our comrade argued strongly in its defense and for the importance of openly siding with the masses against the dictatorship, as Palestinian and Israeli leftists present should remember.
Further, considering Schwartz’s statement that the LRP shares its position on Syria with the “Stop the War Coalition” (SWC) and Counterfire, it is worth noting that a leading LRP comrade engaged in a public, written debate with SWC and Counterfire leader John Rees on precisely this question, condemning him for not standing with the Syrian masses against Assad! (See: https://www.facebook.com/john.rees.372/posts/166356816841014)
In that debate our comrade wrote:
“Lindsey [German, the SWC Convenor] writes regarding Syria that the imperialist invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya ‘have caused untold misery and extremely high death tolls. Stop the War campaigns to prevent the people of Syria suffering the same fate.’
“Meanwhile, ... the Syrian people are already meeting that same fate at the hands of Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship, no help from the West's imperialists required – but plenty of help in the slaughter is coming from Russian imperialism. Indeed, it would seem that the West is quite satisfied to see the rebellion against Assad drowned in blood - how else to explain its refusal to seriously arm any insurgents?
“To be sure, the most reactionary forces among the rebels are receiving support from the West and from the reactionary Gulf States. But all studies make clear that they are a minority. Further, there has never been a revolution in the colonial or neo-colonial world that one imperialist or another did not try to take advantage of.
“I don't see how such limited Western imperialist involvement in Syria excuses denying Syria’s revolutionary movement (that which is independent of imperialism and anti-sectarian) the right to obtain arms for self defense from wherever it can.”
Again, it is absolutely clear that, contrary to what the ISL claims, we have sided with the mass revolution in Syria, despite the presence of reactionary forces.
The fact is that during our entire period of collaboration, the only time the ISL and LRP disagreed in our political analysis of the struggle in Syria was in the brief debate between our two organizations which preceded the ISL’s break from us. Following Israel’s missile strike on a military asset of the Assad regime in late January, Yossi Schwartz proposed that we publish a joint statement entertaining the possibility that in the event of a war, Assad’s regime might stop attacking the masses; that, he suggested, would allow revolutionaries to halt their armed struggle against the dictatorship in favor of a defense against Israel. The LRP objected that under the current circumstances, revolutionaries should not raise any illusion that Assad would stop attacking the masses; it was necessary to be clear that the armed struggle against the dictatorship would have to continue, at the same time as a struggle against Israel.
So, comrades, as you can see, the charge on your website that the LRP is among those who “cannot bring themselves to side with the mass movement in Syria because it is dominated by the Islamists” is utterly baseless.
There are, of course, major political differences between the LRP and both the ISL and the RCIT. So that the workers’ movement and left-wing public can judge these differences, care should be taken to make them as clear as possible and not allow them to be confused by misrepresentations and falsehoods.
With communist greetings,
for the League for the Revolutionary Party
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Reply from the RCIT
Dear Comrades of the LRP,
You sent us a letter on 28th March concerning the article of comrade Yossi Schwartz “Victory to the Revolution in Syria! The Second Anniversary of the Uprising in Syria” which we published on our website. You considered the following formulation as “slanderous“ and “an absolutely untrue and baseless charge”: “… groups like the LRP in the US that for two years has not been able to come with a position on Syria.”
Against this you refer to an ISL Statement (March 2012) which you published on your website as well as a joint ISL-LRP Statement (November 2012) and quote three paragraphs and two sentences from these two statements.
We forwarded your letter to the ISL comrades. They explained to us that they meant that the LRP has not been able to develop an elaborated statement and analysis of the Syrian Revolution since its beginning in spring 2011. They sent us an unfinished longer document from your comrade Matt, which seems to have been circulated internally in the LRP for some time but was never finished and adopted.
Comrades of the LRP, you can be assured that neither we nor the ISL comrades have any intention to slander you. To clarify matters, we are prepared – if you wish so – to publish your letter together with our reply on the RCIT website.
However, don’t you think that publishing a few paragraphs about one of the most important international revolutionary events in the span of two years is pretty modest? And even these few paragraphs were published in an ISL respectively an ISL-LRP statement! Don’t you think that such an important event deserves a closer analyzes and elaboration of a program as well as more regular articles?
In case you are interested you can find a number of articles and speeches on the Syrian Revolution from the RCIT as well as from organizations with whom we collaborate on our website in different languages here:
We hope that we could help to clarify matters.
Michael Pröbsting (International Secretary of the RCIT)
6th April 2013