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

By Michael Pröbsting, Autumn 2012, www.thecommunists.net

 

Below we are republishing one of our earlier essays which deals with the complex relationship of national and democratic liberation struggles in which imperialist powers interfere. The essay analyzes this question from both a theoretical as well as historical point of view, and defends the Marxist approach to such situations against various petty-bourgeois criticisms. The latter half of the essay applies the authentic Marxist method utilized by the RCIT to examine concrete events which took place during the popular uprising in Libya.

This essay was originally written and published in the autumn of 2012. Naturally, since then there have been more cases of conflicts and liberation struggles in which imperialist powers have attempted to interfere (Syria, Ukraine, etc.). Using the same method which we outline in this essay, these more recent cases have been analyzed by us to derive the appropriate tactics that should be adopted by revolutionary Marxists, and have been published in earlier editions of the RCIT’s journal Revolutionary Communism. Therefore, we will not deal specifically with these more recent cases, but refer our readers to the respective statements published earlier.

We should only add here that, since the original writing and publication of the article, events in Libya have completely confirmed our analysis. As is well-known, those pseudo-“anti-imperialists” who defended the dictator Gaddafi at the time of the popular uprising against him and his regime – who behind their “anti-imperialism” are actually hiding their pro-Russian and pro-Chinese social-imperialism – predicted that NATO’s military intervention would transform Libya into a Western colony. Contrary to these fantasies, the unfinished democratic revolution in Libya led to the killing of the US ambassador and the flight of the embassies of all the great Western powers from the country. These events do not deny the setbacks and difficulties for the completion of the revolution caused by the competing petty-bourgeois and bourgeois leaderships of nationalist and Islamist persuasions. Only the formation of a revolutionary party which can lead the working class on the road of class struggle to the socialist revolution can push aside these obstacles.

Our decision to republish the essay at this time, following some English language editing, is due to our conviction that the method of analysis described herein is a vital resource which allows revolutionary Marxists to correctly evaluate extremely complex political and military situations and to derive the appropriate tactics in world increasingly torn by imperialism’s attempts to interfere in struggles for liberation.

 

 

* * * * *

 

The new historic period which dawned in 2007/08 with the start of the largest economic crisis of the capitalist world since 1929 has also witnessed deep ruptures and changes in the political and military arenas. The revolutionary character of this historic period is expressed in the dramatic acceleration of class contradictions, and some of the most important features of this period are the Arab Revolution which started in early 2011 and the emergence of a new imperialist Great Power – China.

This acceleration and deepening of class contradictions only exacerbates the dramatic crisis of lack of leadership for the working class and the oppressed. For more than six decades – since the political and organizational collapse of the Fourth International in 1948-53 – the proletariat is without a world party of socialist revolution. Consequently, during these years the numerous struggles and revolutions of the workers and oppressed in the semi-colonial, Stalinist, and imperialist countries were consistently mislead by petty-bourgeois leaderships. The latter, it goes without saying, had no interest in overthrowing regimes and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This crisis of leadership is particularly pronounced in the new historical period through which we are living because, like in the case of the Arab Revolution, struggles are increasingly characterized by a seemingly contradictory constellation of forces: just democratic revolutions and national liberation struggles are mingled with the interference of this or that imperialist power. This phenomenon is even more prominent because of the intense rivalry between the great imperialist powers –the US, the EU, China, and Russia – is increasingly influencing a number of conflicts in the South. As a result, we can only expect that, during this new historical period, democratic liberation civil wars and national defensive wars of semi-colonial countries will increasingly be intertwined, in one way or another, with imperialist interests, interference, and rivalry.

It is therefore incumbent that workers’ organizations and activists implement a correct understanding of Marxist principles when concretely analyzing a given war or conflict. Only in this way will it be possible to develop sound revolutionary tactics in the interest of the international working class.

The Arab Revolution and the imperialist interference in it, for example, created much confusion in the ranks of progressive movements. Many such movements adapted themselves to the pressure of pro-Western propaganda, while others joined the counter-revolutionary camp of the Gaddafi or Assad regimes, incorrectly seeing them as “anti-imperialist.” We have already dealt with a number of these positions and arguments in our book on the Arab Revolution. [1]

In the following article we want to expound in further detail the Bolshevik-Communist approach to the combined tasks of analysis and the derivation of tactics, and to defend this approach in light of various arguments put forth by pro-regime, anti-revolution, and ostensibly “anti-imperialist” camp. Specifically, we will counter various arguments and myths regarding the Libyan Revolution.

 

We are anti-imperialist because we take the stance of the working class … and not the other way around

 

Let us start by briefly presenting the general method by which the RCIT approaches national democratic liberation struggles in semi-colonial countries accompanied by imperialist interference. We have summarized our method in our programme The Revolutionary Communist Manifesto:

Particularly, where authoritarian regimes or the military openly trample on democratic rights, mass movements rise and fight with determination for their rights. Other states and even great imperialist powers try to exploit such domestic crises and are only too happy to expand their influence. The Bolsheviks-Communists support any real movement of the popular masses against the suppression of democratic rights. We reject any influence of reactionary forces and defend the national sovereignty of semi-colonial countries against imperialism. This can not mean that revolutionaries renounce the support of revolutionary-democratic movement. In reality, the imperialist meddling is no help for the revolutionary-democratic struggle, but threatens to undermine it. That is why we have supported progressive liberation struggles of the masses against dictatorships, but at the same time rejected sharply imperialist interventions. (E.g. the struggle of the Bosnians 1992-95, the Kosovo Albanians in 1999, the uprising against the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya in 2011). Only when the imperialist intervention is becoming the dominant feature of the political situation, revolutionaries must subordinate the democratic struggle to the fight against such an intervention.

Similarly, this is the case in the still-existing degenerated workers states (such as Cuba or North Korea). We support real mass movement against the ruling bureaucracy (such as those in Eastern Europe, China and the USSR, 1989-91) and advocate for political revolution. However, we defend the achievements of the workers’ state (planning, state ownership, foreign trade monopoly, etc.) against any attempt for the introduction of capitalism.” [2]

Let us now elaborate this approach. Many leftists fail to understand the correct relationship between anti-imperialism and international working class solidarity. We are anti-imperialist precisely because we consistently support the struggles of the working class and oppressed peoples desiring liberation, the biggest enemy of which is imperialism. Our anti-imperialism is a consequence of our fundamental position on the class struggle and not an overriding principle, which hovers above the class struggle.

This is why Marxists are capable of coming to positions dependent on the class interests of the international working class which are entirely independent of imperialist and petty-bourgeois “public opinion.” This is why we don’t get confused when the imperialist and petty-bourgeois “public opinion” supports a just national or democratic liberation struggle. Unlike Pavlov’s dog, Marxists don’t reflexively place a minus sign anywhere Western imperialists make a plus sign. We do, however, make sure that we develop an independent class position.

Our method dictates that, during such just democratic or national liberation struggles, we are on the side of the liberation fighters (who are mostly under bourgeois or petty-bourgeois leaderships) and support their military victory. We sharply distinguish between these progressive liberation struggles and the interests of the imperialist powers. While we support the former, we totally oppose the latter. Therefore, we Bolshevik-Communists reject any imperialist interference and call for the defeat of the imperialist forces.

 

Public opinion in the imperialist world must not be the starting point for developing a position towards a war!

 

Sectors of the centrist left in the West defend a sectarian version – or let us better say, a caricature – of anti-imperialism. They don’t examine a given struggle in its totality with all its various and often contradictory factors. Instead, they try to assess what is the official position of Western imperialism. They usually do this by looking at so-called public opinion, i.e., the rhetoric of the bourgeois officials and media. And where Western public opinion puts a plus sign, the sectarian place a minus sign. In other words, they reflexively sympathize with the side of a given war which Western public opinion despises.

As a result, the sectarians reach one and the same position in all different kinds of wars: the Iraq war of 1991; the Bosnian war of 1992-95; the Kosova war of 1999; the Afghanistan war of 2001; the Iraq war which started in 2003; and the Libyan civil war of 2011. This approach is completely in error. For Marxists, imperialist public opinion, while a factor which has to be taken into account, is neither the starting point nor the most important factor in determining revolutionary positions! It seems that various sectarians have forgotten this very basic truth! This failure often leads them to scattered thoughts and to claims by others that we Marxists are “opportunists” and “capitulate to the pressure of imperialism.”

Let us provide a few historical analogies. Russian imperialism was fully sympathetic to the Slavic national liberation struggle in the Balkans against the Ottoman Empire in 1912/13, because of its own expansionist class interests. However, Lenin and the Bolsheviks did not conclude that, because of this Russian support, revolutionaries should not support the national liberation struggle of the Slavs. Similarly, what conclusions did Trotsky and the Fourth International arrive at from the fact that imperialist and petty-bourgeois public opinion in Western Europe and Northern America was strongly in favor of the Republican antifascist government in Spain in 1936-39, or for the national liberation struggle of the Chinese toilers under Chiang Kai-shek’s leadership against Japanese imperialism from 1937 onwards? In no way did Trotsky and the Fourth International succumb to imperialist and petty-bourgeois “public opinion” but rather based their critical but unconditional support for the Republican antifascist government or the Chinese struggle on an independent and internationalist working class viewpoint.

Marxists must never start by asking: “How can we, as revolutionaries, fighting in Western imperialist countries best oppose the pressure of ‘our’ bourgeoisie?” To do so is one-sided. It also opens the door to serious mistakes and would ultimately degenerate to “anti-imperialism for dummies.” Rather, one must start by asking “what is the independent position which advances the interest of the international working class and oppressed peoples?” In other words, how can we strengthen the working class struggle, organizations, and consciousness? This is the only legitimate method for approaching questions of class struggle. Without using this method, one would quickly descend to the level of leftists in imperialist countries who start and end their thinking based on the question of how to oppose their own bourgeoisie.

Trotsky explained this approach very well in an article in which he polemicized against the sectarian method:

In ninety cases out of a hundred the workers actually place a minus sign where the bourgeoisie places a plus sign. In ten cases, however, they are forced to fix the same sign as the bourgeoisie but with their own seal, in which is expressed their mistrust of the bourgeoisie. The policy of the proletariat is not at all automatically derived from the policy of the bourgeoisie, bearing only the opposite sign – this would make every sectarian a master strategist; no, the revolutionary party must each time orient itself independently in the internal as well as the external situation, arriving at those decisions which correspond best to the interests of the proletariat. This rule applies just as much to the war period as to the period of peace.“ [3]

 

How do we approach various forms of imperialist military interventions?

 

In what respect can we speak of different forms of imperialist military intervention? Let us illustrate this by presenting some examples from the past two decades. What was the difference on the one hand between the Iraq wars in 1991 and 2003, and on the other hand the wars in Afghanistan in 2001, in Bosnia 1992-95, in Kosova 1999, and in Libya 2011? What is at the heart of our consistent approach, seeing how we defended Afghanistan in 2001 even though the Taliban is certainly not less dictatorial than Gaddafi, while in the case of Libya we continued to support the democratic revolution against Gaddafi even after the imperialist West began its limited military campaign against his regime? The sectarians accuse us of capitulation to “bourgeois-democratic public opinion in the imperialist countries.” However, was there really a difference in the imperialist and petty-bourgeois ”public opinion” in the two cases? One can hardly maintain that public opinion was less hostile towards the Taliban than towards Gaddafi. Quite the contrary. The imperialist governments all had conducted publicized meetings with Gaddafi and thus had to hastily remove the photographs from their official websites in which one could see Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Blair, etc. shaking hands and exchanging jokes with the Libyan dictator.

What, indeed, was the difference between the Iraq wars in 1991 and 2003, and the war in Afghanistan in 2001 in contrast to the wars in Bosnia (1992-95), Kosova (1999) and Libya (2011)? Actually, the answer is pretty straightforward. As historical materialists, we always first look at such conflicts from a class perspective. The war in Bosnia began in April 1992 as a national liberation struggle of the workers and peasants under the leadership of the Izetbegovic bureaucracy against the threatening oppression by the chauvinist Serbian state. From 1987, the Milosevic regimes in Serbia had initiated a virulent campaign of Serbian chauvinism which in particular targeted the Kosova-Albanians, but also most other nationalities in Yugoslavia. Via this campaign the Serbian bureaucratic caste wanted to secure its dominance during the process of capitalist restoration. The Croatian bureaucracy tried to counter these moves by tightening the oppression of their Serbian minorities in Krajina and Slavonia. Increased national oppression was made part and parcel of the capitalist restoration in order to divert the attention of the masses from its social consequences. It was on this background that the series of Balkan wars began in 1991, wars in which various imperialist powers attempted to intervene.

The same pertains to Kosova which on the one hand has a history replete with murderous oppression by the Serbian state since its annexation by the latter in 1913, as well as many national liberation struggles which subsequently broke out there. The most recent of these began in March 1998. [4] The Libyan and the Syrian Revolutions in 2011 also began as democratic revolutions, being part of the Arab revolutions against the bourgeois dictatorships. So, contrary to the interpretation of the sectarians, these civil wars started not due to conspiracies of imperialism, but as authentic liberation struggles of the workers and peasants.

In contrast to the above examples, the wars in Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and in Afghanistan in 2001 were different. In Afghanistan in 2001, no progressive mass struggle was taking place – the local civil war of the so-called United Front of Ahmad Shah Massoud against the Taliban bore no progressive potential. The national liberation struggle of the Kurdish people against the Baath regime in Iraq did have a just and progressive character, but given its local nature in the north of Iraq, it did not become the dominant factor in the political situation.

Related to this is yet another important difference between the two types of wars: The Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003, and the 2011 war in Afghanistan were not cases of imperialistic interference in ongoing liberation struggles. Rather, they were outright imperialist attacks aimed at subjugating this or that nation.

One must examine these wars concretely. For example, in Bosnia and Kosova the imperialist war goals were not to conquer and subjugate Serbia, but rather to contain the spread of the national liberation struggle and thus stop the destabilization of the region. In the case of Kosova, one should recall that shortly before the war, in the spring of 1997, there was an armed mass uprising in Albania. A successful liberation struggle in Kosova would have had tremendous potential for inspiring a similar liberation struggle among the oppressed Albanian minorities in Macedonia and Montenegro.

Of course, imperialist interference can change the character of a national liberation struggle. But this is not necessarily and always the case. In our book on the Arab Revolution, we refer to historical cases in which the imperialist powers interfered in two military encounters: (1) the Chinese national liberation struggle of the 1930s and 40s; and (2) the mass guerilla movements in Eastern Europe against the Nazis during World War II. For example, in the latter case the British sent arms and officer to the Stalinist partisans of Tito, while in the former case the US even sent military aircraft with American pilots to support the bourgeois force of Chiang Kai-chek. Did such cases of imperialist interference lead the revolutionaries of the Fourth International to stop supporting these struggles? No, and they would have been terribly wrong had they done so!

The key is always to concretely analyze whether a given democratic or national liberation struggle becomes entirely subordinate to the imperialist maneuvers and no longer possesses any significant internal dynamic of a workers and peasant liberation struggle. If this is the case, Marxists must change their position and give up critical support for the given national liberation struggle.

However, even in this case one has to be continually alert and re-analyze the dynamic situation at hand, with its potential for transformation, which in turn might oblige a necessary change in position. For example, when the Shiite workers and peasants in Southern Iraq rebelled against Saddam Hussein in March 1991, both we Marxists and the imperialists understood the profound class significance of this insurrection, recognizing it as a genuine democratic revolution of the workers and peasants. Therefore, while the Baathist army crushed the insurrection, the US troops and imperialist and petty-bourgeois ”public opinion” cried crocodile tears about the poor Iraqis being slaughtered by the evil regime of Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, they stood idly by and sighed with relief when the uprising was crushed. And we Bolshevik-Communists? [5] We defended the Iraqi army against the US troops but we also defended the Shia masses against the Baathist army. In this case, both the imperialists and the LRCI/RCIT changed their positions, not due to any inconsistency but because the struggle had changed its character. Just the opposite can also happen: Marxist can first support a democratic revolution, but later withdraw their support. Only such a concrete and dialectical approach allows Marxists to elaborate an independent and internationalist working class position. This means developing a perspective which always focuses on how to advance working class struggles, organizations, and consciousness, and which is totally oblivious to imperialist and petty-bourgeois ”public opinion.”

Let us deal briefly with another historic example. Which positions should Marxists have developed in 1953, 1956, 1968, and 1980-81 when the workers rebelled against the Stalinist bureaucracy in Eastern Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland? Naturally, imperialist and petty-bourgeois ”public opinion” in the West was verbally in favor of these workers’ uprising because they hoped to weaken the Stalinists by tactically exploiting these struggles. But only the Stalinists and living caricatures of Trotskyism, like the Spartacists, came to the wrong conclusion that, because of the Western ”public opinion,” one should defend the bureaucratic dictatorship against the workers. For authentic Marxists, of course, the starting point was not imperialist and petty-bourgeois ”public opinion” in the West, but rather independent proletarian class interests. We, therefore, critically but unconditionally supported the revolutions in the East. While we supported these – unfortunately defeated – workers revolutions, at the same time we unequivocally opposed any form of imperialist attack against the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe.

 

Consequences for military tactics

 

So we see that, when implementing the same independent, internationalist working class line, in different situations one will reach very different conclusions due to objective factors and class interests. Or in other words, the same, consistent strategy of permanent revolution leads, for different types of wars, to different tactics. Only a mechanistic bonehead should be surprised by this.

Where the working class and the oppressed are not engaged in a direct struggle for power, i.e., outside of a revolutionary situation, the task of overthrowing a given regime is subordinate to the task of the defending a semi-colonial country (or a degenerated workers state) against an imperialist attack. On the other hand, when we have the mobilization of the working class and the oppressed in a direct struggle for power, as is the case in a revolutionary situation, a civil war, etc., Bolshevik-Communists fight for the victorious outcome of this class struggle. At the same time, we combine this support with uncompromising opposition to any imperialist attacks against the regime to be toppled.

The Second World War is a model for such a contradictory situation which illustrates well the application of a combined, dialectical approach to military tactics. During this war, the revolutionary Marxists of the Fourth International defended the Soviet Union against German imperialism – despite the former’s alliance with Western imperialism. At the same time, they sided with the colonial peoples against their imperialist occupiers – despite the Stalinists’ support for the British and French occupiers, and despite the Allied imperialists’ support for the Chinese resistance against Japanese imperialism. The Fourth International also sided with the national liberations partisan armies against German imperialism in Europe and took a defeatist position against both imperialist camps in their conflict with each other.

So we see that, in such contradictory situations, in which several wars are actually taking place in the context of supposedly single war, it would be both wrong and disastrous to pursue the same tactic for all the various wars or “sub-wars.” Quite the contrary – in such cases, Marxists must call for diverse military tactics.

Only when imperialist forces threaten to conquer a given semi-colonial country (or a degenerated workers state) and when, at the same time, the working class is not strong enough to take power, only then does it becomes necessary to subordinate the struggle against the regime in defense of the semi-colonial country (or a degenerated workers state) in question.

This is why we supported the national liberation struggle of the Bosnian people against the Serbian restorationist bureaucracy in 1992-95 while opposing any NATO attacks. This is why we supported the uprising of the Kosova-Albanians in 1997-99 while at the same time opposing NATO’s war against Serbia. This is why during the Gulf wars of both in 1991 and 2003 we said “Defend Iraq! Defeat Imperialism!” When the imperialist assault against Afghanistan started on 7th of October 2001 we called for the military victory of the Afghan resistance despite the Taliban leadership. And we called for the Hezbollah-led resistance in Lebanon 2006 and the Hamas-led resistance in Gaza 2008/09, both against the Israeli Apartheid state.

Such complications, amalgamations of different and contradictory interests in a given military conflict are likely to increase in the future. Why? Because of the increasing rivalry between imperialist powers. Due to this rivalry, all imperialist powers are more and more motivated to interfere in local conflicts and civil wars and to exploit them so as to advance their influence and increase their profits. Unfortunately, this trend is completely ignored by many sectarians who fail to recognize that in addition to the old imperialist powers – in North America, Western Europe, and Japan – there are also new, emerging imperialist powers, in particular Russia and China. [6]

In our study of Chinese imperialism, we explained various possible consequences of this increasing rivalry between imperialist powers like the US and China using the example of possible future wars in the South China (or East) Sea region.

Which position should the working class take in a military conflict between China (or the USA) with one of the smaller East Asian countries? Here we have to take into account the fact that countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan etc. are not imperialist powers. They are rather semi-colonial capitalist countries. (…) As we said in our program it is the Marxist principle to defend such semi-colonial countries against imperialist powers.

However it is not sufficient to state the Marxist principles on wars. In real life all forms of combinations, alliances, amalgamations of different interests etc. are possible and indeed are an important aspect of the class struggle. In formulating the correct revolutionary tactic Marxists have to combine the application of the Marxist principles of the class approach to wars with a concrete analysis of every war in its peculiarity and totality.

Concerning the South China (or East) Sea this means the following: Countries like the Philippines or Taiwan have had close alliances with US imperialism for many decades – or more concretely they are semi-colonies of the USA. Given these facts it is quite possible that there can be a war for example between the Philippines and China as it nearly happened in the summer of 2012. Concretely in this case the Philippine military forces acted in closest accordance with the US armed forces. In such a war we would have formally an imperialist power (China) on one side and a semi-colonial country (Philippine) on the other side. However in fact it would be a proxy war in the case of the Philippines, i.e. they would act as an extension of US imperialism. Thus the working class should not rally to defend the Philippines but should take a position of revolutionary defeatism as they would do in an inner-imperialist war.

However not all wars in the region are necessarily proxy-war. Vietnam for example – whose people heroically defeated first Japanese, then French and finally US imperialism in its liberation wars in the 20th century – has a history of being bullied by China. One just needs to remember the reactionary assault of the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy on Vietnam in co-ordination with US imperialism in 1979. In principle Vietnam has a right to use the East Sea for fishing no less than China. Its resistance against being expelled from the Sea so that imperialist China can exploit it alone is justified. Hence Bolshevik-Communists could take in such a war a revolutionary defensist position on the side of Vietnam and a defeatist position concerning China.[7]

 

The Marxist classics on contradictory factors in wars

 

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 depends on which factor becomes dominant – the national, democratic liberation struggle or the imperialist war of conquest.

Britain and France fought the Seven Years’ War for the possession of colonies. In other words, they waged an imperialist war (which is possible on the basis of slavery and primitive capitalism as well as on the basis of modern highly developed capitalism). France suffered defeat and lost some of her colonies. Several years later there began the national liberation war of the North American States against Britain alone. France and Spain, then in possession of some parts of the present United States, concluded a friendship treaty with the States in rebellion against Britain. This they did out of hostility to Britain, i.e., in their own imperialist interests. French troops fought the British on the side of the American forces. What we have here is a national liberation war in which imperialist rivalry is an auxiliary element, one that has no serious importance. This is the very opposite to what we see in the war of 1914-16 (the national element in the Austro-Serbian War is of no serious importance compared with the all-determining element of imperialist rivalry). It would be absurd, therefore, to apply the concept imperialism indiscriminately and conclude that national wars are “impossible”. A national liberation war, waged, for example, by an alliance of Persia, India and China against one or more of the imperialist powers, is both possible and probable, for it would follow from the national liberation movements in these countries. The transformation of such a war into an imperialist war between the present-day imperialist powers would depend upon very many concrete factors, the emergence of which it would be ridiculous to guarantee.[8]

In another article, Lenin compared imperialist interference in national liberation struggles for their own ends with the interference of sections of monopoly capital in democratic struggles within imperialist countries. In both cases, Lenin argued, it would be wrong to refuse support for theses struggles because of this interference:

On the other hand, the socialists of the oppressed nations must, in particular, defend and implement the full and unconditional unity, including organisational unity, of the workers of the oppressed nation and those of the oppressor nation. Without this it is impossible to defend the independent policy of the proletariat and their class solidarity with the proletariat of other countries in face of all manner of intrigues, treachery and trickery on the part of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations persistently utilise the slogans of national liberation to deceive the workers; in their internal policy they use these slogans for reactionary agreements with the bourgeoisie of the dominant nation (for example, the Poles in Austria and Russia who come to terms with reactionaries for the oppression of the Jews and Ukrainians); in their foreign policy they strive to come to terms with one of the rival imperialist powers for the sake of implementing their predatory plans (the policy of the small Balkan states, etc.). The fact that the struggle for national liberation against one imperialist power may, under certain conditions, be utilised by another “great” power for its own, equally imperialist, aims, is just as unlikely to make the Social-Democrats refuse to recognise the right of nations to self-determination as the numerous cases of bourgeois utilisation of republican slogans for the purpose of political deception and financial plunder (as in the Romance countries, for example) are unlikely to make the Social-Democrats reject their republicanism.” [9]

This methodological approach was later defended and developed by the Trotskyists. In our journal Revolutionary Communism we have re-published an excellent article from Rudolf Klement, a secretary of Trotsky and a leading member of the Fourth International, on “Principles and Tactics in War”. In this article Klement elaborated the position of the Trotskyists and defended it against their sectarian critics:

Class struggle and war are international phenomena, which are decided internationally. But since every struggle permits of but two camps (bloc against bloc) and since imperialistic fights intertwine with the class war (world imperialism—world proletariat), there arise manifold and complex cases. The bourgeoisie of the semi-colonial countries or the liberal bourgeoisie menaced by its “own” fascism, appeal for aid to the “friendly” imperialisms; the Soviet Union attempts, for example, to utilise the antagonisms between the imperialisms by concluding alliances with one group against another, etc. The proletariat of all countries, the only internationally solidarity—and not least of all because of that, the only progressive—class, thereby finds itself in the complicated situation in wartime, especially in the new world war, of combining revolutionary defeatism towards his own bourgeoisie with support of progressive wars.

Klement defends a dialectical approach, arguing that “the proletariat, especially in the imperialist countries, requires, in this seemingly contradictory situation, a particularly clear understanding of these combined tasks and of the methods for fulfilling them.” Later, at the end of his article, he goes on to emphasize: “Thus we see how different war situations require from the revolutionary proletariat of the various imperialist countries, if it wishes to remain true to itself and to its goal, different fighting forms, which may appear to schematic spirits to be “deviations” from the basic principle of revolutionary defeatism, but which result in reality only from the combination of revolutionary defeatism with the defence of certain progressive camps. [10]

It is this concrete, dialectical method which the Marxist classics developed and which we apply today to the different types of wars which occur in a world situation characterized by increasing contradictions and rivalry.

 

The civil war in Libya and the arguments of sectarian “anti-imperialism”

 

In the second part of this article we want to deal with one of the most recent examples of sectarian confusion: the condemnation of the Libyan Revolution in 2011 in the name of “anti-imperialism.” The RCIT supported the popular uprising since it was a democratic revolution against the reactionary bourgeois dictatorship of Gaddafi. We argued that revolutionaries should fight inside the rebel movement against the bourgeois leadership of the TNC, since the later tried – together with NATO imperialism – to contain the revolution and reduce it to the regime-change. We called for the deepening of the revolution by the formation of workers’ and popular councils and militias and its transformation of the democratic into a socialist revolution. We therefore emphatically opposed the NATO attacks.

In the summer of 2011, we in the RCIT summarized our position as follows:

Therefore it is important for activists to connect several tasks of the revolutionary struggle together:

* Participation in the mass struggle against the Gaddafi regime on the basis of a revolutionary program for the proletarian seizure of power.

* Fight within the insurgent masses against the bourgeois rebel leadership of Abduljalil, al-Esavi Jebril, etc.

* For the establishment of councils of workers, peasants, and the oppressed.

* For the establishment of an independent workers’ and people’s militia to enter the fight against the Gaddafi regime independently of the bourgeois leadership.

* For international solidarity with the rebels in Libya. For international brigades and weapons for the fight against Gaddafi’s troops.

* At the same time, however, fight against NATO! For the defeat of the NATO armed forces! For direct actions of the workers’ movement, especially in the NATO countries and in the countries where the imperialist forces and their accomplices have bases, in order to impede their military action and if possible to prevent them.” [11]

However, the sectarian “anti-imperialists” sided with the reactionary Gaddafi regime and supported it against the popular revolution. Examples of organizations which adopted such a reactionary position are the Liaison Committee of the Liga Comunista (Brazil), the Revolutionary Marxist Group (South Africa) and Socialist Fight (Britain) [12] or the ICL/Spartacists, the Internationalist Group/LFI of Jan Norden or the Stalinist group “Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)”.

 

On the class character of the Gaddafi state

 

As we demonstrated in an article on the Libyan Revolution, sectarians tended to ignore the class character of the Gaddafi regime. [13] Often the Gaddafi regime was simply characterized as “anti-imperialist.” One of the most bizarre past examples of this was the praise for Gaddafi’s “revolution” by the WRP of Gerry Healy. The WRP claimed that “Gaddafi has politically developed in the direction of revolutionary socialism and he has shunned the palaces and harems of some other Arab leaders. (…) For this reason he has become the undisputed leader of the Libyan people and his name is now synonymous with the strivings of the oppressed in many countries. [14] The sectarian groups cited above also misunderstood the class character of the Gaddafi regime.

For us in the RCIT, the Gaddafi regime was a state-capitalist, bourgeois-bonapartist dictatorship. As did several other semi-colonial regimes, it managed to achieve certain room for maneuvering thanks to the huge oil resources.

The truth behind the often praised social achievements of Gaddafi’s state was that the regime used the huge oil rent – in addition to its leaders accumulating vast personal wealth and the creation of an overblown security apparatus – for the conservation of the Libyan class-based society. As is typical of parasitical, semi-colonial bourgeoisies, it didn’t invest the billions and billions of oil dollars it received to create a domestic industry and, with it, a significant domestic working class. Instead, the regime retained as much of this wealth as was possible to both enrich those at its head and conserve the country’s traditional tribal structure thereby avoiding the proletarization of its society. Why? Because the reactionary Gaddafi regime wanted to avoid a confrontation with a strong domestic working class.

Of course, Gaddafi’s Libya needed many workers. As a result, it applied the kind of “solution” which the imperialist bourgeoisies have for decades to increase their industrial reserve army for super-exploitation: it imported migrants. So like the parasitic Gulf dictatorships, the Gaddafi regime super-exploited at least 682,000 migrant workers (2010) who constitute nearly 29% of the entire labor force of 2.37 million! [15] There are other statistics which even speak of 1.5 or even 2.5 million migrant workers in Libya. [16] If one takes into account that, in semi-colonial countries, the working class constitutes only part of the entire labor force (since this category also includes the petty-bourgeoisie, the salaried middle class, etc.), we can safely assume that in Libya – like in the Gulf States – the migrants constituted an even greater share of the working class.

Therefore, to a large degree the Gaddafi regime was based on the super-exploitation of the migrant sectors of the working class. Despite the “socialist” rhetoric of the Gaddafi regime, the migrant workers had no right to join a trade union. The “anti-imperialist” Gaddafi had the same approach to the migrant workers as the corrupt oil rent regimes of the Gulf region.

Another “progressive” argument in defense of the Gaddafi regime was the modernization of the country after “the colonel” came to power in 1969 via a coup d’état. This is undoubtedly true, as is testified to by the country’s urbanization level of 85.5%. However, the same is true for all the reactionary Gulf monarchies and the entire Middle East! Thus Libya’s level of urbanization slightly exceeds that of Saudi Arabia (82.3%) and Jordan (83.4%) but lags behind those of Lebanon (86.3%), Kuwait (98.4%), and Bahrain (95.9%). In fact, accelerated urbanization in recent decades is a world-wide phenomenon driven by the capitalist process of proletarization and in no way reflects specific efforts on the part of the Gaddafi regime. [17]

Despite the “anti-imperialist” and progressive credentials of the Gaddafi regime as perceived by the sectarians, the country was fully integrated in the capitalist world economy and the imperialist order. Its economy was completely dependent on oil exports to the world market from which it derived about 95% of its trade revenues and up to 70% of its annual GDP. [18]

The “socialist” Gaddafi regime also had important foreign investments in the imperialist world, particularly in Italy. There it owned a 7% share of the largest bank (UniCredit). [19] It also owned shares of the aircraft and armament corporation Finmeccanica, the energy corporation Eni, the car producer Fiat, and the major football club Juventus Turin. All in all, in 2010 Libya had an FDI outward stock of 13.3 billion US-Dollars – higher than of many other semi-colonies ­ and 21% of its GDP for that year. [20]

In addition, during the 2000s Libya also intensified its collaboration with the Western imperialist powers. After it opened its economy for imperialist foreign investment, Libya had more imperialist foreign investments than many other semi-colonial countries – the FDI inward stock in 2010 was 19.3 billion US-Dollars which is 31% of the GDP for that year (62.4 Billion US-Dollar). [21]

This collaboration included its dealings with several US corporations, among them: ConocoPhillips, the third-largest US oil company, which holds a 16.3% share in Libya's important Waha concessions; Marathon Oil (which holds another 16% share); Hess (8% share); and Occidental, the fourth-largest US oil company. [22]

Gaddafi also developed close political ties with the imperialist powers. In 2005, his regime joined the US initiated "Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership" which includes eleven African so-called "partner countries”: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. This alliance organizes annual joint military exercises under the code name “Flintlock.” [23]

The Gaddafi regime promised the European Union to suppress the flow of migrants reaching Europe from Libya. In October 2010, this “anti-imperialist” leader signed a deal “to combat the flow of illegal migrants to Europe” for which he received 50 million Euro. [24] The CIA, too, seemed to feel that it could do business with Gaddafi, so they collaborated with him in the torture of “terror suspects”! [25]

All of this collaboration with Western imperialism was in addition to Gaddafi’s well-known murderous suppression of the slightest resistance by the Libyan people. Despite the sectarians’ praises for Gaddafi’s regime, it was a bloody bourgeois dictatorship against which the working class and the popular masses had every reason to rise up!

Gaddafi certainly understood his class position better than many of these “anti-imperialists.” When the Tunisian workers and poor took to the streets against the Ben Ali dictatorship in Tunisia, Gaddafi lectured them. Gaddafi openly expressed solidarity with Ben Ali and attacked the Tunisian people for overthrowing him! The Electronic Intifada issued a report about a speech made by Gaddafi: “Gaddafi turned to pay homage to Ben Ali, whom he refers to as “Zine”:I do not know anyone from Bourguiba [Tunisia’s first post-independence president] to Zine, but Zine for me is the best for Tunisia. He was the one who gave Tunisia pride of place [in terms of economic growth]; I don’t care whether you like him or not, whether you’re against him or not; I tell you the truth, regardless; do you think that Zine gives me money, glory or any kind of reward for saying this? He gives me nothing, but I tell you the truth. I’m usually candid with the Arab public, pointing out the truth to them. No one is better than Zine at the moment. What I wish is not for Zine to remain in power till 2014 [which is one of the concessions/promises Ben Ali made in his third and last speech before his flight to Saudi Arabia] but for him to remain in power for life, okay! If anyone close to Zine is corrupt or if Zine himself is corrupt, they should stand trial. Bring your evidence and try them; this is usually a normal practice. But it’s inadmissible that whenever there is corruption, we burn our country and kill our children at night. Ala Tunis al-salaam.’” [26]

True, there were repeatedly conflicts between the Gaddafi regime and US/EU imperialism. When US president Reagan bombed Tripoli in 1986, we unconditionally defended Libya. However as we said in the summer of 2011, this does not alter the bourgeois class character of the regime: “The Gaddafi regime has always been a state capitalist bureaucratic dictatorship. Like several other regimes in the semi-colonial world, Tripoli was also temporarily in conflict with the major imperialist powers. But this does not alter its bourgeois character. Similarly, the war between the west and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq changes nothing about the bourgeois capitalist class character of the latter.” [27]

 

Are the workers and youth today in a better or in a worse position than under the Gaddafi dictatorship?

 

The sectarian “anti-imperialists” claim that in Libya the counter-revolution – i.e., NATO imperialism and its agents, the supposedly “racist” rebels – won the civil war. Consequently they consider the outcome as a defeat for the working class.

We, on the other hand, contend that the Libyan Revolution ended in a partial victory for the working class and the oppressed because it defeated the bourgeois-bonapartist Gaddafi regime. True, the bourgeois, pro-imperialist leadership around the TNC has tried to hijack this unfinished democratic revolution and turn it into a democratic counterrevolution. However, this process is far from completed. What we have today in post-Gaddafi Libya is a crisis-ridden regime divided by various factions. The country is divided not only by power struggles but also – and to a large degree because of – the pressure of the masses. What we have today in Libya is a partial dual power situation. What does this partial dual power situation consist of?

1) Between 125,000 and 200,000 men (in a country of about 5-6 million people!) are organized in around sixty armed militias under no central control. [28]

2) The masses have repeatedly toppled various hated figures of the new regime by means of demonstrations, strikes (including localized general strikes), riots, and armed actions.

3) The workers have formed new trade unions and are organizing themselves in rank and file structures. They have more rights and power than under the Gaddafi regime.

While the old state apparatus has been thoroughly shattered and debilitated, it repeatedly tries to reconstitute itself by integrating NTC leaders with remnants of the old Gaddafi regime (which shows exactly how reactionary this “anti-imperialist” regime was!). But the armed militias have repeatedly attacked leading figures of the new regime. For example on 8 May of this year, two hundred militiamen opened fire with anti-tank guns on the prime minister’s Tripoli office, forcing al-Keib to briefly take flight. A number of times militiamen have sided with workers and youth who protested in the streets. This clearly demonstrates that, today, there are more opportunities for the workers and oppressed to fight for their rights against the regime than under Gaddafi.

In Misratah, one of the heroic centers of the revolution and one of the most important industrial towns, the workers and militias staged a three day general strike ”for bread and a decent health system, against the inflation and against those who want to expropriate our fight: the TNC.” During the strike they destroyed the local headquarters of the TNC. On the streets of Misratah and other towns one can see the anti-imperialist slogan written on the walls: "Today in Libya, tomorrow in Wall Street!" There have been many strikes in Benghazi where an independent trade union federation is said to have been formed. Youth organizations are repeatedly demonstrating in Benghazi, protesting against the new government and former Gaddafi functionaries. In January of this year, these protests forced Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, the transitional council’s deputy chief, to resign.

In Misratah and Tripoli the port workers are organizing in rank and file assemblies and are calling for the continuation of the revolution and the ousting of all former Gaddafi managers and directors, as are the oil workers. Many workers’ strikes have been reported from Benghazi. [29]

Another positive consequence of the Libyan revolution is the progress of the national liberation struggle of the Tuareg people in Mali who founded the Azawad Republic, even though this achievement is endangered by the Islamist movement Ansar Dine. [30]. Again, in our opinion, this demonstrates that the partial victory of the democratic revolution in Libya has been advantageous for oppressed people.

So, contrary to the sectarian “anti-imperialists,” we maintain that today the working class and the oppressed are in a better position to fight for their interests and for the continuation of the revolution than they were under the Gaddafi dictatorship – despite the unfinished character of the revolution and indeed its bourgeoisification.

Of course, all this can change and indeed will change if the working class does not overcome its crisis of leadership. But this is also the case in Greece and in all countries around the world in which there have been unfinished revolutions. This is why overcoming the crisis of leadership is vital.

But this cannot be achieved if one confuses a revolution with its leadership; if one joins the counterrevolution because of the mistaken leadership of the revolution! It can only be accomplished by joining the revolutionary masses and fighting inside their ranks against the bourgeois leadership.

It is also revealing that the revolutionary masses obviously do not wish to bring back the old regime nor do they desire to turn to the Jamahiriya.Except for some tribes related to him, the masses are still sick with hatred for Gaddafi. Today, the main contradictory line of the class struggle in Libya is not between the popular masses and the rebels, but between the pro-rebel popular masses and organized militias on the one hand and the new regime of the TNC on the other.

 

Why did NATO intervene militarily?

 

But, the sectarian “anti-imperialists” argue, why did NATO intervene militarily in Libya if not to get rid of Gaddafi’s regime which was an obstacle for their influence? First, we answer, one has to recognize that NATO’s military intervention was not planned long in advance but was rather improvised. As we described, above, only a few months earlier the imperialists were doing business with Gaddafi and shaking his hand. The NATO intervention was an improvised reaction to the broad spread of the revolution – which in the case of Libya militarized rapidly – because of Gaddafi’s bloody oppression of the February 17th Uprising.

Until then the Arab Revolution had been relatively peaceful and, hence, left open the possibility for the imperialist powers to come to certain agreements with the new rulers (in particular the Islamists like the Muslim Brothers). But the beginning of the Libyan civil war threatened to change the whole scenario and to transform the Arab Revolution into an armed regional uprising. It could have meant the endangering of the imperialists secure access to the oil resources and the end of Israel among many other things. Therefore the imperialists were desperate to contain the Libyan revolution and to politically expropriate its leadership.

 

On the urban and tribal factors in the civil war

 

Another argument put forth by the sectarian “anti-imperialists” is the claim that the rebels were rooted in the backward, eastern parts of Libya where chauvinism and al-Qaida are supposed to be very strong. The more modern Western parts of Libya, with a strong progressive, more modern tradition were pro-Gaddafi – or so the argument goes.

As a matter of fact, tribal ties were important not only in the eastern part of Libya but for the Gaddafi regime too. One just needs to recall where Gaddafi fled after the fall of Tripoli: To his tribe in Sirte! It is also significant that while Tripoli is the formal capital of Libya, Gaddafi had moved most of the government’s ministries to Sirte. The regime preserved the backward tribal society as much as it possibly could.

In addition, one should concretely examine where the centers of the revolution were. By early March 2011, i.e., before even a single NATO bomb had been dropped, the Libyan workers and popular masses took power in five of the seven largest cities (Benghazi, Misrata, Bayda, Zawiya, and Ajdabiya). In Tripoli, in the days following February 17th, there was a mass uprising which led to the burning down of several governmental buildings. But given the high concentration of the armed state apparatus forces there it was brutally smashed. This should make pretty clear that the revolution was a very urban affair and had the support of the majority of the urban popular masses. At this time there were no pro-Gaddafi rallies at all or only very small ones. The victory of the Libyan revolution was due to this mass support, not because of the NATO intervention.

 

On the “racist” Libyan rebels and attacks against Sub-Saharan African migrant workers

 

A major argument of the sectarian “anti-imperialists” is their claim that the migrant workers – and in particular black migrants – were expelled from the country by the “racist” Libyan rebels. It is certainly true that there have been attacks against Sub-Saharan Africans migrant workers in Libya because of the color of their skin. However the sectarian “anti-imperialists” completely distort the full picture.

First, it is wrong to give the impression that Sub-Saharan African migrants were singled out and expelled from Libya because of the racist attitudes of the rebels. The truth is that most migrant workers – among whom Sub-Saharan Africans were only a minority (the biggest group was from Egypt) – fled the country. Why? Simply because of the civil war. As a result of the war, oil production and the economy as a whole broke down, and the migrant workers were not getting paid. Add to this the tremendous insecurity resulting from the civil war, and between February and June 2011, about half a million migrants fled the country. [31] The fact that Arab migrant workers fled as well as Sub-Saharan African migrant workers is clear proof that war conditions and not racism were the main reason for the mass departure of migrant workers.

Secondly, chauvinist sentiments against Sub-Saharan African were unsurprisingly fuelled given Gaddafi’s propensity to import them as mercenaries serving in his security forces.

Thirdly, even before February 2011, there are many reports circulating about racism and brutal treatment of Sub-Saharan Africans by the Gaddafi regime itself! Why do the sectarian “anti-imperialists” only focus on the chauvinism exerted by rebels but not on that used by Gaddafi’s police and soldiers?! This is particularly absurd given the fact that while it is a matter of dispute whether the Libyan rebels actually targeted Sub-Saharan Africans migrants, it is totally undisputed that the Gaddafi regime itself both targeted and systematically expelled them! The regime is known to have systematically deported refugees starting from the year 2000. According to Chinese website friendly to Gaddafi (!) “tens of thousands of Nigerians, Ghanaians, Chadians, and many more from Niger, Gambia and Sudan were deported [32], leaving no room for interpretation. For example in January 2008, Gaddafi himself officially proclaimed the intention to deport all illegal refugees. "The authorities decided to start immediately the operation of gathering all foreigners living illegally in Libya and deporting them". [33] And all this was done openly in coordination with European imperialism with which Gaddafi signed deals to “secure” their borders against African refugees. So, we see, it was Gaddafi himself who was an “agent of imperialism” and who racistly targeted Sub-Saharan Africans migrants!

Therefore, even if we would accept the view that the Libyan rebels systematically targeted Sub-Saharan Africans migrants and expelled them, this would certainly not make them more racist than the “anti-imperialist” Gaddafi regime which the sectarians shamefully defended.

 

To whom did the solidarity of the Arab working class belong?

 

Finally, the popular masses in the Middle East also understood better than the sectarian “anti-imperialists” which camp in the Libyan civil war was closer to their class interests. It is revealing that, throughout the Arab world, the masses demonstrated in solidarity with the Libyan Revolution. On the other hand – leaving aside the Syrian state media – where were there acts of support by the masses for the Gaddafi regime?! It is an undeniable fact that working class organizations like the Tunisian trade union federation UGTT and the Hoxhaist party PCOT both expressed solidarity with the Libyan Revolution, as they continue to do so today with the Syrian Revolution. Such evidence of mass support is a hundred times more convincing than any conspiracy theories and cruel stories about “the racists murder Libyan rebels”!

 

Summary

 

In this article we have demonstrated that the Marxist approach to wars and uprisings in which imperialist powers try to interfere is very much different from the attitude of the sectarian “anti-imperialists.” While the latter always mechanistically place a minus sign wherever the bourgeoisie in their country place a plus sign, the Marxists approach views such wars and uprisings from an internationalist and independent working class perspective. We support those uprisings and civil wars which are favorable for the advance of the working class struggle, organizations, and consciousness. We fight against those forces whose triumph is a direct and immediate threat to the working class struggle. For the same reason we oppose all forms of imperialist attack, since the strengthening of imperialism always comes to the detriment of the working class.

The authentic Marxist perspective necessarily involves the application of a combined, dialectical approach towards military tactics. In World War II, we could already see this when the Fourth International combined defensist and defeatist tactics. Such combined, dual military tactics should similarly be applied today and will probably have to be applied more so in the future. Given the increasing inter-imperialist rivalry – particularly if one takes into account the rise of emerging Chinese imperialism – we will witness more and more cases in which imperialist forces try to interfere in and exploit civil wars in the semi-colonial world.

The unfinished democratic revolution in Libya in 2011 is an example of this. The Bolshevik-Communists supported the popular uprising because it was a just liberation struggle against the reactionary bourgeois dictatorship of Gaddafi. We argued to fight inside the rebel movement against the bourgeois leadership of the TNC which tried – together with NATO imperialism – to contain the revolution and reduce it to the regime-change. We called for the deepening of the revolution by the formation of workers’ and popular councils and militias and the transformation of the democratic revolution into a socialist one. For this reason we fought against the NATO attacks, since they just helped to contain the revolution.

The arguments of the sectarian “anti-imperialists” for their siding with the Gaddafi regimes are entirely wrong. They totally ignored the bourgeois and pro-imperialist character of the regime, a vicious enemy of the working class. At the present moment, the outcome of the civil war bears the character of an unfinished democratic revolution. It succeeded in getting rid of the dictatorship and, therefore, today the working class and the oppressed have more possibilities to organize and to arm themselves to fight for their rights. However, the working class does not possess a revolutionary workers’ party which can lead it to a successful socialist revolution. For this reason, until now the domestic bourgeoisie and the imperialists have succeeded in containing the revolution, i.e., in stopping the working class from taking power. Building such a revolutionary workers’ party as part of the Fifth International – the World Party of Socialist Revolution – remains the chief task for revolutionaries in Libya and the rest of the world. The RCIT dedicates its full forces to achieve this task.

 

Footnotes

 

[1] While the book, written by Michael Pröbsting, has been published in German language, the chapter on the Libyan civil war was translated into English and published in the RCIT’s journal Revolutionary Communism No. 1. It appears also on our website www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa/libya-revolutionary-tactics

[2] RCIT: The Revolutionary Communist Manifesto, pp. 45-46, www.thecommunists.net/rcit-manifesto/revolutionary-struggle-for-democracy

[3] Leon Trotsky: Learn to Think: A Friendly Suggestion to Certain Ultra-Leftists (1938); in: Trotsky Writings 1937-38, p. 332f. (Emphasis in the Original) The RCIT re-published this text in Revolutionary Communism No. 5 (2012).

[4] In the late 1980 and the 1990s, we published a lot of analytical and programmatic material – including two booklets – about the history of Yugoslavia and the Balkan wars in German language and some in Serbo-Croatian. Those who wish to receive a copy of these should contact us.

[5] At that time we were part of our predecessor organization, the League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI), which renamed itself in 2003 into League for the Fifth International (LFI). The majority of the founding cadres of the RCIT were before leading members of the LFI. In the process of the LFI’s majority degeneration into centrism, these cadres were expelled or resigned from the organization in 2011. For more on this see “Where is the LFI drifting? A Letter from the RCIT to the LFI comrades”; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 3, June 2012, www.thecommunists.net/theory/centrist-degeneration-of-lfi

[6] See Michael Pröbsting: China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4 (August 2012), p. 4-32, online: www.thecommunists.net/theory/why-china-is-imperialist

[7] See Michael Pröbsting: China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4 (August 2012), p. 22-24, online: www.thecommunists.net/theory/why-china-is-imperialist

[8] W. I. Lenin: Über die „Junius“-Broschüre (1916), in: LW 22, S. 316; in English: V. I. Lenin: The Junius Pamphlet(1916); in: CW 22, p. 310-11

[9] W. I. Lenin: Die sozialistische Revolution und das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Nationen (1916), in: LW 22, S. 149f. ; in English: V. I. Lenin: The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1916); in: CW 22, p. 148

[10] Rudolf Klement: Principles and Tactics in War (1938); in The New International (Theoretical journal of the Socialist Workers Party, US-American section of the Fourth International), May 1938, Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 144-145. The RCIT re-published this text in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4 (2012), pp. 44-46.

[11] Michael Pröbsting: The intervention of the imperialist powers in Libya, the struggle of the masses against Gaddafi’s dictatorship and the tactics of revolutionary communists”; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 1, September 2011, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa/libya-revolutionary-tactics

[12] For the unconditional defence of Libya against Imperialism! For a Military United Front with Gaddafi to defeat NATO and the CIA armed "rebels"! No confidence in the government of Tripoli; only by arming all the people and by the permanent revolution can we win the struggle! Statement on Libya by the Liga Comunista of Brazil, the Revolutionary Marxist Group of South Africa and Socialist Fight of Britain, 21 April 2011; in: Socialist Fight No. 6 (2011), p. 36

[13] Michael Pröbsting: The intervention of the imperialist powers in Libya, the struggle of the masses against Gaddafi’s dictatorship and the tactics of revolutionary communists”; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 1, September 2011, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa/libya-revolutionary-tactics

[14] Statement of the WRP Political Committee, 11th December 1981, published in News Line, 12th December 1981

[15] See International Organization for Migration: World Migration Report 2010. The Future of Migration: Building Capacities for Change (2010), p. 135; UNCTAD: Handbook of Statistics 2010, p. 468

[16] See International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH): Exiles From Libya Flee To Egypt (2011), p. 4

[17] See UNCTAD: Handbook of Statistics 2010, pp. 468-476

[18] See African Economic Outlook 2012, Libya 2012, p. 4

[19] Antonio De Bonis: Italy and the Libyan crisis, 5.4.2011, http://www.antoniodebonis.com/2011/04/italy-and-libyan-crisis.html

[20] World Investment Report 2011, p. 191; World Bank: World Development Report 2012, p. 398

[21] World Investment Report 2011, p. 191; World Bank: World Development Report 2012, p. 398

[22] See Reuters: Factbox: U.S. oil companies' interests in Libya, 22.2.2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/22/us-libya-usa-oilcompanies-idUSTRE71L5Y820110222

[23] U.S. Africa Command: The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, http://www.africom.mil/tsctp.asp

[24] See Bjarte Vandvik: The EU's dubious refugee deal The EU is paying Libya to deal with refugees seeking a new life in Europe. Can we trust Gaddafi's regime to look after them? The Guardian, 20 October 2010 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/20/eu-refugee-libya-gaddafi

[25] See Ben Hubbard: Libya: CIA Reportedly Worked Closely With Gaddafi Intelligence Services, The Associated Press, 09/03/11 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/03/libya-cia-gaddafi-intelligence_n_947764.html

[26] Quoted in Nouri Gana: Libya’s tragedy, Gaddafi’s farce, The Electronic Intifada, 22.2.2011, http://electronicintifada.net/content/libyas-tragedy-gaddafis-farce/9814

[27] Michael Pröbsting: The intervention of the imperialist powers in Libya, the struggle of the masses against Gaddafi’s dictatorship and the tactics of revolutionary communists”; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 1, September 2011, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa/libya-revolutionary-tactics

[28] See International Crisis Group: Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges after Qadhafi (December 2011), p. 30

[29] Many such reports can be found on the website of the Libyan Youth Movement http://www.shabablibya.org and also one from the centrist Trotskyist FLTI which publishes a number of reports from revolutionary militias and port workers assemblies http://libyarevolutionupdate.blogspot.com.ar/

[30] For more on this see our article “For a free and socialist Azawad! Our attitude to the freedom struggle of the Tuareg people in Mali”, by Johannes Wiener; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 3, June 2012, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa/mali-free-azawad/

[31] See International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH): Exiles From Libya Flee To Egypt (2011), p. 4

[32] Immigrants of Libya, China.org.cn, March 23, 2011 http://www.china.org.cn/world/2011-03/23/content_22202161.htm

[33] Mass refugee exodus in Libya, 22 January 2008, http://www.amnesty.org.au/refugees/comments/8335/


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