Another remarkable document from the ex-Trotskyist L5I
A comment from Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 09 May 2017, www.thecommunists.net
A few weeks ago we published a reply to two remarkable documents from the ex-Trotskyist "League for the Fifth International" (L5I). (1) In one of these documents, our former comrades called for the "defense of the single European market" in the upcoming UK election in June. In the other document, published by their Swedish section, they denounced all Islamist currents as "fascist" and called for a policy of "no platform" for them, i.e., to physically attack them wherever they appear in public.
In our reply we explained that such a characterization of all Islamist currents as "fascist" is utter nonsense and, in fact, a capitulation to the Islamophobic wave which currently characterizes European politics. Despite their backward, petty-bourgeois character, many Islamist forces play an important and leading role in various liberation struggles (e.g., Hamas in Palestine, various factions in Syria, etc.). Others have a reactionary, but rather bourgeois-democratic and certainly not fascist character (e.g., Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt).
Instead of joining the camp of Islamophobic imperialism à la Trump, Putin, Netanyahu, Le Pen, Strache and Assad, Marxists have to support mass struggles against the Great Powers and dictatorships. This includes the defense of such Islamist forces against US, Russian, Israeli and European imperialism or the Assad tyranny while, at the same time, combating the influence of such Islamist forces among the workers and oppressed. (2)
We pointed out that these new positions of the L5I reflect the tremendous shift to the right by this former revolutionary organization. (3) We characterized the statement by the Swedish section as a kind of 1914 bonsai war cry because, with it, the L5I joins the camp of Islamophobic social-chauvinism.
Since we wrote our comment, L5I Sweden published yet another longer article which explains more in detail their Islamophobic position. (4) This document is remarkable, since it goes further in drawing the inevitable practical conclusions from the L5I’s Islamophobic social-chauvinist capitulation.
The author of this latest article states that the Swedish section of the L5I supported and joined the official demonstrations which were organized by the country's political establishment in response to the run-down truck terror attack in Stockholm by an alleged supporter of Daesh which cost the lives of four people. ("We Marxists participate without doubt in such mobilizations.") These demonstrations – which were similar to government-sponsored demonstrations in Europe after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015, were addressed by various bourgeois politicians and "personalities from public life" and served as a rally for ideological support for Swedish (and European) imperialism. (5)
The L5I in Sweden is certainly aware of the character of these mobilizations as they explicitly mention the "(Swedish) nationalism" and the "tribute to the police." However, they downplay these facts as "unfortunate elements" which do not hinder their supporting and joining these reactionary mobilizations! The L5I members have become guardians of Swedish imperialist democracy!
As the RCIT has explained many times, Marxists sharply condemn such reactionary terrorist attacks against civilians. But we certainly do not support or even join the pro-imperialist mobilizations which only serve as ideological support for the oppression of Muslim migrants and the Great Powers' wars in the Middle East.
However, the L5I is Sweden is not content with simply supporting such government-sponsored mobilizations. They now also call the Swedish bourgeois state to accelerate the repression of "jihadists" who return from Syria. As we know, the imperialists in Europe denounce everyone as "jihadist" (and not only the counter-revolutionary Daesh) who joins the liberation struggle in Syria against the Assad regime: "Jihadists returning to Sweden should either be punished here or deported to, for example, the Kurdish self-government in Iraq or to Rojava and be subjected to war crimes there."
In contrast to the L5I, authentic Marxists do not support the repression of the so-called "jihadists" by the European imperialist states, without, of course, lending any political support to these Islamist groups. (6)
Finally, the L5I also calls upon the Swedish state to send heavy weapons to the Kurdish PYD/YPG in Syria: "One demand must be that Sweden immediately donates large amounts of heavy and advanced weapons to YPG in Rojava / Syria, to facilitate their fight against IS."
As every observer of the Syrian civil war knows, for some time the YPG has been acting as foot soldiers for US imperialism in their offensive against the Arab-populated territories in Raqqa and other parts of northern Syria. In the very same article, the L5I itself is forced to admit: "The PYD was even so effective [in fighting the 'jihadists', Ed.] that the United States was forced to enter into a limited partnership with them in order to strike the IS."
In other words, despite being aware that the PYD/YPG currently acts on behalf of US imperialism in their efforts to take control of northern Syria, the L5I in Sweden calls for the Swedish imperialist state to send heavy weapons to them. This is equivalent to openly supporting US imperialism! (7)
In our earlier reply to the two articles cited above, we characterized the statement by the L5I Sweden as a kind of 1914 bonsai war cry. Given the shocking deepening of their Islamophobic social-chauvinist capitulation, we can now probably delete the adjective "bonsai." In any case, there can be no doubt that the L5I in Sweden has positioned itself on the wrong, imperialist side of the barricade on the issue of Sweden's and the Great Power's war against the Muslim peoples.
It is quite possible that there are comrades in the L5I who are pulling out their hair in light of such a social-chauvinist flip-flop. But their internal criticism has no practical consequences insofar as the L5I has not published a single criticism of the vulgar ideological capitulation of their Swedish section. And even if they would do so, those would-be critical L5I members have to ask themselves: how is it possible that an old section (the Swedish comrades joined the L5I in 1994) has degenerated to such a low social-chauvinist level before the eyes of the whole international organization?! How is it possible that such people are tolerated in a "Marxist" organization?!
The uncomfortable truth is that the L5I as a whole has shifted radically to the right, towards centrism, and towards adaption to the petty-bourgeois prejudices of the left-liberal intelligentsia. The L5I Sweden represents only the most "advanced" (or better: regressive) sector of the whole L5I's political degeneration. It’s high time to break with such centrism and to draw the practical conclusions!
(1) Michael Pröbsting: The Market Marxists. Two remarkable documents from the ex-Trotskyist L5I, 25 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/l5i-opportunism/
(2) We have elaborated the Marxist approach to Islamist forces in various documents. See e.g., our numerous articles on Syria, Palestine, Egypt and other countries on our website in the section: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/. See also, Yossi Schwartz: The Marxist View of Religion in General and Islam in Particular, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/marxism-and-islam/; ISL: Islam, Islamism and the Struggle for Revolution, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/islam-and-revolution/; RCIT: France after the Attacks in Paris: Defend the Muslim People against Imperialist Wars, Chauvinist Hatemongering, and State Repression! 9.1.2015, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/statement-paris-attacks/; Michael Pröbsting and Simon Hardy: Theses on Islamism, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-on-islamism/
(3) The RCIT has dealt with the centrist degeneration of the L5I in various documents. See e.g., Michael Pröbsting: Marxism, the European Union and Brexit. The L5I and the European Union: A Right Turn away from Marxism. The recent change in the L5I’s position towards support for EU membership represents a shift away from its own tradition, of the Marxist method, and of the facts; August 2016, in: Revolutionary Communist No. 55, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/eu-and-brexit/; Michael Pröbsting: Does the EU Represent "Bourgeois Democratic Progress"? Once again, on the EU and the Tactics of the Working Class – An Addendum to our Criticism of the L5I’s Turn to the Right and Its Support for EU Membership, 16.09.2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/eu-brexit-article/ ; Manfred Meier: Nachbeben des Brexit - Zur Rechtswende von GAM/L5I: das „JA“ zum Verbleib in der EU, August 2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/home/deutsch/gam-brexit/; Michael Pröbsting: The British Left and the EU-Referendum: The Many Faces of pro-UK or pro-EU Social-Imperialism. An analysis of the left’s failure to fight for an independent, internationalist and socialist stance both against British as well as European imperialism (chapter III.3.), August 2015, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/british-left-and-eu-referendum/; RCIT: Where is the LFI drifting? A Letter from the RCIT to the LFI comrades, 11.5.2012, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/centrist-degeneration-of-lfi/; On the history of the RCIT and the L5I see our book by Michael Pröbsting: Building the Revolutionary Party in Theory and Practice. Looking Back and Ahead after 25 Years of Organized Struggle for Bolshevism, December 2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/rcit-party-building/
(4) L5I Sweden: Efter terrorattentatet i Stockholm, 2017-04-18, http://www.arbetarmakt.com/2017/04/efter-terrorattentatet-i-stockholm/
(5) See e.g., RCIT: France after the Attacks in Paris: Defend the Muslim People against Imperialist Wars, Chauvinist Hatemongering, and State Repression! 9.1.2015, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/statement-paris-attacks/; RCIT: Terror in Paris is the Result of Imperialist Terror in the Middle East! 14.11.2015, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/terror-in-paris/
(6) See on this e.g., RCIT: Increasing Instability and Militarization in the European Union. On the Tasks of Revolutionaries in the New Political Phase which has Opened in Europe after the Terrorist Attack in Paris, 08.12.2015, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/militarism-in-eu/
(7) On the RCIT's analysis of the current US offensive against Raqqa see Yossi Schwartz: Raqqa: Defeat the US Imperialist Offensive! An assessment of the US/SDF/YPG war against Daesh, April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/us-offensive-in-raqqa/. On our analysis of Daesh see RCIT: The Revolutionary Struggle against Daesh and the Imperialist Aggression in the Middle East, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/resolution-daesh/