XXI. Revolutionary Defeatism in Conflicts between Imperialist States and Oppressed Peoples





In this chapter we will elaborate the Marxist position on conflicts between imperialist states and semi-colonial countries. As we have explained above, revolutionary defeatism is a combined strategy. It integrates the consistent struggle against all Great Powers with the support for the liberation struggle of oppressed people against them.


However, at this place we will not deal with the issue of defeatism in the case of conflicts between imperialist states and semi-colonial countries in the same extensive way as we did with inter-imperialist conflicts in the previous chapter. The reasons for doing so are, on one hand, that the focus of this book is the Great Power rivalry and the strategy of defeatism in such conflicts. On the other hand, we have already elaborated on this issue extensively in our book The Great Robbery of the South. [1]


Likewise, we will not deal here with the issue of tactics in conflicts in wars between semi-colonial countries. First, this issue is beyond the scope of this book and, secondly, we have dealt with this issue extensively in a special chapter in our book on the World Perspectives 2018. [2]


For these reasons we will limit ourselves in this chapter on summarizing the main components of the revolutionary defeatist program in conflicts between Great Powers and oppressed peoples, outlining the approach of the Marxist classics on this issue as well as the discuss some important examples of such conflicts today.




* * * * *




Let us start with a brief summary of the general approach which the RCIT and its predecessor organization have defended throughout their whole history. Basically, it is the duty of all socialists to take a clear position in conflicts between the imperialist bourgeoisie and oppressed peoples. They must unconditionally support the oppressed peoples against the imperialist aggressors and fight for the defeat of the latter.


Any other position is equivalent to social-imperialism, as Trotsky emphasized: „… it is a bad Marxist who tries to fix common rules for imperialist France and colonial China. Not to distinguish oppressor countries from oppressed countries is the same as not to distinguish between the exploiting class and the exploited. Those who place imperialist and colonial countries on the same level, no matter what democratic phrases they might use to conceal this fact, are nothing but agents of imperialism.“ [3]


Supporting such liberation struggles includes the necessity to apply the anti-imperialist united front tactic. This means siding with the forces representing these oppressed people without giving political support to their respective leaderships. Such leaderships are usually petty bourgeois nationalist or Islamist forces. We note, as an aside, that such a situation also existed in many colonial countries in the time of Lenin and Trotsky. In it programmatic theses on imperialist war, the Communist International stated: The devastation and spoliation wrought by the capitalist great Powers for four years aroused stormy revolutionary movements in the English colonies (…) which draw courage and strength from the example of the Russian revolution and the existence of Soviet Russia. They are primarily of a nationalist and religious character, but they are also bound up with social revolutionary struggles.” [4]


There can be also cases in which even semi-colonial bourgeois states are standing at the top of a legitimate struggle against Great Powers (e.g. Iraq against the U.S.-led imperialist coalition in 1991 and in 2003).


Hence, while socialists fight merciless against all forms of imperialist chauvinism, they are obligated to support the Anti-Imperialist Patriotism of the oppressed and help them to develop a socialist, internationalist consciousness.


Fighting against Great Power domination and chauvinism includes combating the influence of social-pacifist and social-chauvinist forces in the imperialist countries. Such currents usually dominate the official workers movement (social democratic and Stalinist parties, trade unions and other mass organizations) as well the misnamed “radical” left. Usually, these forces abstain from actively supporting the struggle of the oppressed.


Such an anti-imperialist and internationalist program is based on the tradition of the revolutionary workers movement as it was originally elaborated by the Communist International in the time of Lenin and Trotsky and later uphold by the Fourth International. Only on the basis of such a program will it be possible for socialists to create the conditions for trust and unity of the workers and poor peasants of the oppressed people with the progressive workers in the imperialist countries. Only on such a fundament will it be possible to unite the international working class on an internationalist basis.




Imperialist Wars and Occupations of Semi-Colonial Countries




The whole history of imperialism is characterized by a series of military attacks of Great Powers against the people of the South, often resulting in occupation of their land. True, the form of imperialist domination has changed in the second-half of the 20th century. Direct, colonial domination has been replaced, in most cases, by indirect, semi-colonial domination. While such changes, of course, were important, they couldn’t change the essence of imperialist dependence and exploitation of these countries by the Great Powers and their monopolies. In fact, as we have demonstrated in The Great Robbery of the South, the imperialists are squeezing the oppressed peoples more than ever!


The Marxist classics were fully aware of the fact that formal independence of former colonies did not alter the essence of their domination by imperialism. In his famous book on imperialism Lenin referred explicitly to the semi-colonial countries as “formally independent, but in fact, are enmeshed in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence”:


As to the "semi-colonial" states, they provide an example of the transitional forms which are to be found in all spheres of nature and society. Finance capital is such a great, such a decisive, you might say, force in all economic and in all international relations, that it is capable of subjecting, and actually does subject, to itself even states enjoying the fullest political independence; we shall shortly see examples of this. Of course, finance capital finds most "convenient", and derives the greatest profit from, a form of subjection which involves the loss of the political independence of the subjected countries and peoples. In this respect, the semi-colonial countries provide a typical example of the "middle stage". It is natural that the struggle for these semi-dependent countries should have become particularly bitter in the epoch of finance capital, when the rest of the world has already been divided up.“ [5]


And he continued a few pages later:


“Since we are speaking of colonial policy in the epoch of capitalist imperialism, it must be observed that finance capital and its foreign policy, which is the struggle of the great powers for the economic and political division of the world, give rise to a number of transitional forms of state dependence. Not only are the two main groups of countries, those owning colonies, and the colonies themselves, but also the diverse forms of dependent countries which, politically, are formally independent, but in fact, are enmeshed in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence, typical of this epoch. We have already referred to one form of dependence — the semi-colony. An example of another is provided by Argentina.“ [6]


However, despite such formal independence, or rather because of it, the Great Powers repeatedly attack such countries or even occupy them temporarily in order to defeat popular insurgencies and to install reliable marionettes.


In recent past, we have seen a substantial increase of such attempts. To name a few examples we refer to the military interventions, wars and occupations of the U.S. in Afghanistan since 2001, in Iraq since 2003, of France in Mali since 2013, of Russia in Syria since 2015, etc. The ongoing occupation of Palestine by the Israeli settler state is another example.


There are also a number of cases where the Great Powers do not send their own troops but rather use troops of allied semi-colonial states to act as their proxies. As we have mentioned above, such tactics have been already developed by the British Empire in the 19th and 20th century. The Great Powers increasingly deploy a similar policy today. As examples for this we refer to the so-called African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which was mandated by the UN Security Council (i.e. the imperialist Great Powers) in 2007. About 20,000 African troops, with Ethiopia as the most significant force and with the aid of the U.S. and French army, fight since 2007 against a popular insurgency led by the petty-bourgeois Islamist Al-Shabaab movement.


Another case in point is the recently formed G5 Sahel forces in West Africa. Initiated by France in 2014, these forces comprise about 10,000 troops from five Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger). Their mission is to fight, “in cooperation” with France (i.e. under the latter’s command), against “terrorists”.


The RCIT has always championed in such cases a consistent anti-imperialist stand calling for the defeat of the imperialist aggressors (resp. their proxies) and for the military victory of the forces representing the oppressed people.


Such an approach has always been the position of the revolutionary workers movement. The leaders of the Bolshevik Party were very outspoken on this issue. Such wrote Lenin:


National wars waged by colonies and semi-colonies in the imperialist era are not only probable but inevitable. About 1,000 million people, or over half of the world’s population, live in the colonies and semi-colonies (China, Turkey, Persia). The national liberation movements there are either already very strong, or are growing and maturing. Every war is the continuation of politics by other means. The continuation of national liberation politics in the colonies will inevitably take the form of national wars against imperialism.[7]


Lenin and Zinoviev conclude from this that it is the highest duty for all Socialists to take the side of the oppressed in such wars:


By a ‘defensive” war socialists have always understood a ‘just” war in this particular sense (Wilhelm Liebknecht once expressed himself precisely in this way). It is only in this sense that socialists have always regarded wars ‘for the defence of the fatherland”, or ‘defensive” wars, as legitimate, progressive and just. For example, if tomorrow, Morocco were to declare war on France, or India on Britain, or Persia or China on Russia, and so on, these would be ‘just”, and ‘defensive” wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack; any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressor, slaveholding and predatory ‘Great” Powers.[8]


At the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922, Trotsky expressed the same approach: “Every colonial movement that weakens capitalist rule in the ruling country (métropole) is progressive, because it assists the proletariat in its revolutionary task.[9]


Likewise, the American Trotskyists stated in a pamphlet in 1936: “Therefore it is the business of Marxists not to stand aside, but to support actively, in every possible manner, any armed struggle that is aimed against, and capable of weakening, capitalism: for example, the revolts of colonies against their imperialist oppressors, and the uprisings of all oppressed and exploited races and nations—just as Marxists support strikes or any other manifestations directed against the capitalist class or its governments.” [10]


Consequently, Trotsky sharply denounced all those pseudo-socialists who refused to take the side of the oppressed people: The struggle against war and its social source, capitalism, presupposes direct, active, unequivocal support to the oppressed colonial peoples in their struggles and wars against imperialism. A "neutral" position is tantamount to support of imperialism. Yet, among the announced adherents of the London Bureau congress are found ILPers who advocate leaving the courageous Ethiopian warriors against marauding Italian fascism in the lurch on the grounds of "neutrality," and "Left" Poale Zionists who are even at this moment leaning upon British imperialism in its savage campaign against the legitimate, even if confused, struggle of the Arab peasantry. [11]


Such an unambiguous siding with the struggles of the oppressed people in wars with the Great Powers has been repeated hundreds of times on official proclamations of the Third and, later, the Fourth International. In has become an indispensable part of the programmatic arsenal of Marxism. There can be no revolutionary who does not implement such a line in words and deeds!




Imperialist Non-Military Aggressions against Semi-Colonial Countries




Based on such an anti-imperialist approach, Marxists likewise oppose also all other, non-military, forms of imperialist aggression against semi-colonial countries. A well-known example of such pressure are economic sanctions of the Great Powers against selected semi-colonial countries which, in one way or another, dared not to comply with the imperialist wishes. The most horrific recent example of such imperialist sanctions is the barbaric sanctions imposed by the United Nations against Iraq in the years 1990-2003. According to several studies, these sanctions caused the death of more than 500,000 children under the age of five. [12]


Other examples are imperialist sanctions against North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela. The RCIT has always called the international workers and popular movement to unconditionally oppose such sanctions and to support measures to undermine, break and, if possible, stop it.


Sometimes, the Great Powers justify such sanctions by claiming that they affect countries which would strive to possess nuclear weapons. Often, this is simply a lie. In any case, it is total hypocrisy that Great Powers which posses hundreds or thousands of nuclear missiles want to forbid others to do the same! In fact, the Great Powers want to keep a monopoly of nuclear weapons in order to be better able to impose their domination over the South. While socialists fight for a world without nuclear weapons, we strongly reject any imperialist aggression against semi-colonial country which possess (or strives to possess) nuclear weapons.




Oppression of National Minorities




One characteristic feature of imperialism is the oppression of national minorities. Lenin recognized this principal fact already long ago when he concluded that this division of the world’s nations into oppressor and oppressing nations is one of the most important characteristics of the imperialist epoch:


The programme of Social-Democracy (this is how the Marxists called themselves at that time, Ed.), as a counter-balance to this petty-bourgeois, opportunist utopia, must postulate the division of nations into oppressor and oppressed as basic, significant and inevitable under imperialism.[13]


In another article Lenin repeats this idea which later became a fundamental pillar of the Communist International’s program:


Imperialism means the progressively mounting oppression of the nations of the world by a handful of Great Powers (…) That is why the focal point in the Social-Democratic programme must be that division of nations into oppressor and oppressed which forms the essence of imperialism, and is deceitfully evaded by the social-chauvinists and Kautsky. This division is not significant from the angle of bourgeois pacifism or the philistine Utopia of peaceful competition among independent nations under capitalism, but it is most significant from the angle of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism.[14]


Trotsky emphasized the same idea: Modern humanity without exception, from British workers to Ethiopian nomads, lives under the yoke of imperialism. This must not be forgotten for a single minute. But this does not at all mean that imperialism manifests itself equally in all countries. No. Some countries are the carriers of imperialism, others-its victims. This is the main dividing line between modern nations and states.” [15]


The burning actuality of the national question in imperialist countries can be observed by various crises, mass protests, popular insurgencies, and state repression. See for example the struggle for independence of the Chechen people which resulted in two wars with the Russian army. Other Caucasian people also resist the oppression by Moscow. In China, the Uyghurs and Tibetans are resisting increasing state repression. Likewise, we see mass movements for national self-determination in Catalonia as well as in Scotland.


Revolutionaries unconditionally oppose the oppression of national minorities and fully support the right of national self-determination of oppressed people. This means supporting all their national, democratic and cultural rights, including the right to have an independent state if they wish so. Likewise we support local self-government for ethnic minorities like the Roma, the Native Americans in the U.S., etc.


Bolshevism sharply condemned all those who refused to support the struggle of the oppressed people for national-self-determination: „Socialists cannot achieve their great aim without fighting against all oppression of nations. They must, therefore, unequivocally demand that the Social-Democratic parties of the oppressor countries (especially of the so-called “Great” Powers) should recognise and champion the oppressed nation’s right to self-determination, in the specifically political sense of the term, i.e., the right to political secession. The socialist of a ruling or a colonial nation who does not stand for that right is a chauvinist.


This principle is no less relevant today than it was at the times of Lenin!




Tactics of Mass Struggle




Socialists living in imperialist countries have the obligation to support the liberation struggle of the oppressed peoples by a number of tactics. To win sympathy for the struggle of the oppressed peoples, socialists have to agitate in workplaces, neighborhoods, the schools, universities and in the trenches. They must raise an awareness of the just cause of the liberation struggle. They must combat the widespread chauvinist prejudices (e.g. hysteria about “terrorist threats”, “refugees invading our country”, Islamophobia, arrogance towards poor people in the South, etc.).


Revolutionaries have to support all practical actions which help to advance the struggle of the oppressed to defeat the imperialist aggressors. Such activities embrace all forms of class struggle (e.g. demonstrations, strikes up to general strikes, uprisings, participating in wars, etc. – according to conditions and relation of forces). It also includes practical actions which sabotage the aggressions of the imperialist masters (selected strikes against the imperialist war machinery, collective refusal to do work serving the oppression, helping refugees to overcome the barbaric walls of the imperialist fortresses, etc.).


As an example for such solidarity activities of revolutionaries in imperialist countries might serve the campaign of the Communist Party of France (PCF) in support of the struggle of the Riffian Berbers in the early 1920s. This people fought, under the leadership of the petty-bourgeois Islamist Abd el-Krim, against the Spanish and French imperialists and attempted to drive these occupiers out of its country. The PCF waged a militant anti-colonial mass campaign in solidarity with the Riffians which even included a general strike on 12th October 1925. In its propaganda and agitation, the PCF publicly expressed its support for the Riffians struggle until “Moroccan soil was completely liberated” from both Spanish and French imperialists. [16]


One form of useful tactic of international solidarity is the workers and popular boycott against reactionary forces. There have been rare cases in recent history where the United Nations (or individual states) – under the pressure of progressive mass movements – have formally imposed sanctions on particularly reactionary powers (e.g. sanctions against the South African Apartheid state before 1994). Today many Muslim states have imposed sanctions on the imperialist Israeli state. As we mentioned above the RCIT critically supports such sanctions imposed by semi-colonial countries while pointing out their limitations. However, as Marxists we advocate workers and popular sanctions against such reactionary forces like the Zionist state. This means workers actions to stop trade and military aid for Israel, consumer boycott, etc. Hence we critically support the BDS campaign against Israel despite its limitations.


Furthermore, socialists should conduct political agitation among the rank and files soldiers of the imperialist armies in order to undermine the reactionary control of the generals, to advance mass desertion as well as fraternization with the “enemy”, etc.


Oppressed people involved in armed liberation struggles are understandably in need for material, including military, aid. Such aid can only come from arms producers and states. Only platonic “anti-imperialists” and hypocrites can denounce such liberation forces to acquire weapons from such sources. We defend the right of oppressed peoples to get military and other material aid from other states (incl. imperialist states) as long as it does not lead to political subordination to these states. (A negative example for this is the petty-bourgeois Kurdish YPG in Syria which became proxies of US imperialism.) Workers in such states must support and not block such material aid for the liberation struggle.


It is crucial to build international movements for solidarity with liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples. A first step towards such a goal can be cross-border joint statements and activities of socialists, trade unions as well as other workers and popular mass organizations of the respective imperialist and semi-colonial countries.


Revolutionaries, usually constituting small minorities among activists, must apply a useful tactic in order to achieve maximum unity in struggle. They must call the mass organizations of the workers and oppressed to organize effective mass campaigns. At the same time, it is essential that revolutionaries reserve themselves the freedom of independent propaganda and agitation. Such freedom includes also the right to criticize participating non-revolutionary forces whenever their activities violate the interests of the liberation struggle. Such a tactic avoids sectarian self-isolation and, at the same time, enables revolutionaries to help the workers and oppressed to make their experience with the shortcoming of the established leaderships. In the end, this tactic should help to advance the independent organization of the workers and oppressed and to win them for a revolutionary perspective.


We remark, as a side-note, that such tactics are even more important in the semi-colonial countries themselves where usually petty-bourgeois nationalist or Islamist forces play a leading role in liberation struggles. Such a tactic has become known in the revolutionary workers movement as the anti-imperialist united front tactic. It was originally elaborated by the Communist International in the times of Lenin and Trotsky and summarized in its “Theses on the Eastern Question” at its Fourth Congress in 1922. [17]


The strategic goal is to free the working class of the oppressed people from any dominance by bourgeois or petty-bourgeois forces and to advance its independent organization. Only on the basis of such political and organizational independence will the working class be able to lead other classes and layers of the oppressed people towards liberation from the yoke of imperialism and capitalism.


We conclude by quoting an aptly summary of the program of revolutionary defeatism in the case of conflicts between Great Powers and oppressed people by Rudolf Klement, a young leader of the Fourth International in the 1930s: It is otherwise—so far as the outward form of its struggle goes—with the proletariat of the imperialisms engaged in a direct struggle against the progressive cause. In addition to its struggle for the revolution, it is its duty to engage in military sabotage for the benefit of the “enemy”—the enemy of its bourgeoisie but its own ally. As a means of revolutionary defeatism in the struggle between imperialist countries, military sabotage, like individual terror, is completely worthless. Without replacing the social revolution, or even advancing it by a hair’s breadth, it would only help one imperialism against another, mislead the vanguard, sow illusions among the masses and thus facilitate the game of the imperialists. On the other hand, military sabotage is imperiously imposed as an immediate measure in defense of the camp that is fighting imperialism and is consequently progressive. As such, it is understood by the masses, welcomed and furthered. The defeat of one’s “own” country here becomes not a lesser evil that is taken into the bargain (a lesser evil than the “victory” bought by civil peace and the abandonment of the revolution), but the direct and immediate goal, the task of the proletarian struggle The defeat of one’s “own” country would, in this case, be no evil at all, or an evil much more easily taken into the bargain for it would signify the common victory of the people liberated from the existing or threatening imperialist yoke and of the proletariat of its enemy, over the common overlord—imperialist capital. Such a victory would be a powerful point of departure for the international proletarian revolution, not least of all in the “friendly” imperialist countries.[18]




On Complex War Scenarios




There can be specific cases of conflicts between a Great Power and a semi-colonial country where the latter receives some kind of support from another Great Power (which is a rival to the former). Such situations existed during World War II when Anglo-American imperialism supported the USSR (a degenerated workers state) against German imperialism. There were similar cases when Western powers supported semi-colonial China against Japanese imperialism or Japan supported the Indian forces led by Subhash Chandra Bose fighting against the British. An actual example could be semi-colonial Iran, supported by China and Russia against the U.S. If the “peace talks” break down again, the U.S. aggression against semi-colonial North Korea, which receives support by Chinese imperialism, could be another example.


Similarly, there can be civil wars where the workers and oppressed fight against a reactionary dictatorship. The regime receives strong support from one Great Power and the rebels some support from a rivaling Great Power. Syria has been such a case until the U.S. gave up their already very limited support for the rebels.


We have dealt somewhere else in more detail with such complex war scenarios and the concluding military tactics. [19] At this point we limit ourselves to summarize our method in approaching such issues. The decisive point is to approach such issues in a dialectical way and not mechanistically. It would be totally simplistic to conclude that, because of the interference of imperialist and or reactionary forces on both sides, one is best advised to take a neutral position. While such a conclusion may be both correct and applicable in a number of cases, it can also be incorrect in other cases. Revolutionaries have to take into account the origin, history and driving factors (as well as secondary factors) of any given conflict, as well as the class nature of the different camps.


If this is not done, Marxist analysis and the revolutionary art of elaborating tactics would be reduced to a mere tallying of pluses and minuses. However, in fact, reality is a "concrete totality, a unity of the universal and the particular" – to use the words of the distinguished Soviet philosopher of the 1920s, Abram Deborin. [20]


Those socialists who always take a neutral, abstentionist position in such complex conflicts and wars, mistakenly believe that such a line will ensure that they defend the independence of the working class. However, in fact, they only defend the working class' “independence” from objective reality by preventing it from advancing its own interests by participating in the concrete struggles between the social forces!


In contrast to such abstentionists, Marxists have to study concretely a given conflict or war and derive the appropriate tactics from it. Without such an approach Marxism is reduced to a sample of abstract truisms and a tactical passivity of waiting on the sidelines for better times, while in realty millions of workers and oppressed are fighting for their democratic and social rights against the ruling classes.


In conclusion, we repeat what we already stated some years ago: "It is true that imperialist powers have historically tried to utilize democratic struggles for their own ends and interfere in them. Such interference must be opposed by Marxist forces. But as Lenin said, in the epoch of imperialism the big powers will always try to interfere and utilize national and democratic conflicts. However, this fact should not lead Marxists to automatically adopt a defeatist instead of a revolutionary-defensist position in such conflicts. Rather, the position taken by Marxists should depend on which factor becomes dominant – the national, democratic liberation struggle or the imperialist war of conquest." [21]


[1] See chapters 12 and 13 in The Great Robbery of the South

[2] See Chapter II in Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, RCIT Books, Vienna 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2018/

[3] Leon Trotsky: Petty-Bourgeois Democrats and Moralizers (1938-39); in: Writings of Leon Trotsky, Supplement 1934-40, p. 866

[4] Communist International: Theses on the Fight against the War Danger (1922), in: Jane Degras: The Communist International 1919-1943. Documents Volume I 1919-1922, p. 330

[5] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916); in: LCW Vol. 22, pp. 259-260

[6] V. I. Lenin: Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) ; in: LCW Vol. 22, p. 263 (emphasis in original)

[7] V.I. Lenin: The Junius Pamphlet (1916); in: LCW 22, p. 310

[8] V.I. Lenin/G. Zinoviev: Socialism and War (1915); in: LCW 21, pp. 300-301

[9] Leon Trotsky: Speech at the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (1 December 1922), in: John Riddell (Ed.): Toward the United Front. Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922, Historical Materialism Book Series, Brill, Leiden 2012, p. 1000

[10] John West (James Burnham): War and the Workers (1936), Workers Party Pamphlet, https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/burnham/1936/war/index.htm

[11] Leon Trotsky: Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau (1936), in: Documents of the Fourth International, New York 1973, p. 99

[12] See e.g. UNICEF: Results of the 1999 Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys. The report has been published by the Federation of American Scientists (fas.org/news/iraq/1999/08/990812-unicef.htm) but has been deleted unsurprisingly in the recent past.

[13] V. I. Lenin: The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1916); in: LCW 22, p. 147

[14] V. I. Lenin: The revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1915); in: LCW 21, p. 409

[15] Leon Trotsky: Fight Imperialism to Fight Fascism (1938); in: Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 1938-39, p. 26

[16] Quoted in: David H. Slavin: The French Left and the Rif War, 1924-25: Racism and the Limits of Internationalism, in: Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 26, No. 1, January 1991, p. 10; see also numerous documents from the PCF which are reproduced (in German language) in Jakob Moneta: Die Kolonialpolitik der französischen KP, Hannover 1968, S. 42-61

[17] The anti-imperialist united front tactic emphasized the progressive nature of the struggle against imperialist domination – even if it takes place under the leadership of (petty-)bourgeois forces:

The chief task which is common to all national revolutionary movements is to bring about national unity and achieve political independence. The real and logically consistent solution of this question depends on the extent to which such a national movement is able to break with the reactionary feudal elements and to win over the broad working masses to its cause, and in its programme to give expression to the social demands of these masses. Taking full cognizance of the fact that those who represent the national will to state independence may, because of the variety of historical circumstances, be themselves of the most varied kind, the Communist International supports every national revolutionary movement against imperialism. At the same time it does not forget that only a consistent revolutionary policy, designed to draw the broadest masses into active struggle, and a complete break with all adherents of reconciliation with imperialism for the sake of their own class domination, can lead the oppressed masses to victory.” (Communist International: Theses on the Eastern Question, 5 December 1922, Fourth Congress of the Communist International, in: Jane Degras: The Communist International 1919-1943. Documents Volume I 1919-1922, pp. 385-386)

The Communist International stressed that Marxists must have no illusions in (petty-)bourgeois forces at the top of national liberation movements. They must apply the united front tactic in order to maximize the mobilization power and in order to weaken the influence of these leaderships.

The expediency of this slogan follows from the prospect of a prolonged and protracted struggle with world imperialism which demands the mobilization of all revolutionary elements. This mobilization is the more necessary as the indigenous ruling classes are inclined to effect compromises with foreign capital directed against the vital interests of the masses of the people. And just as in the West the slogan of the proletarian united front has helped and is still helping to expose social-democratic betrayal of proletarian interests, so the slogan of the anti-imperialist united front will help to expose the vacillation of various bourgeois-nationalist groups. This slogan will also promote the development of the revolutionary will and the clarification of the class consciousness of the working masses and put them in the front ranks of those who are fighting not only against imperialism, but also against the survivals of feudalism.“ (ibid, p. 390)

[18] Rudolf Klement: Principles and Tactics in War

[19] See Chapter II “Excurse: Different Types of Wars in the Present Period and Consequential Revolutionary Tactics” in Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings; Michael Pröbsting: Dialectics and Wars in the Present Period. Preface to Rudolf Klement's Principles and Tactics in War, June 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/dialectics-war/; Michael Pröbsting: Liberation Struggles and Imperialist Interference. The failure of sectarian “anti-imperialism” in the West: Some general considerations from the Marxist point of view and the example of the democratic revolution in Libya in 2011”, in: RCIT: Revolutionary Communism, No. 5; http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/liberation-struggle-and-imperialism

[20] Abram Deborin: Lenin als revolutionärer Dialektiker (1925); in: Nikolai Bucharin/Abram Deborin: Kontroversen über dialektischen und mechanistischen Materialismus, Frankfurt a.M. 1974, p. 125 (out translation)

[21] Michael Pröbsting: Liberation Struggles and Imperialist Interference