Unprincipled “socialists” combine opposition against Ukrainian resistance struggle with support for draconic Western sanctions against Iran
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 28 October 2022, www.thecommunists.net
Since the beginning of Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine, we have been forced to criticise the “International Socialist Alternative” (ISA) for its shameful position on this war.  Its international leadership, while denouncing Moscow’s aggression, has consistently opposed the defence of the Ukrainian people against Russian imperialism, claiming that their resistance would only serve the interests of the Western Great Powers. While the comrades of “Socialist Alternative” in Russia and the Ukraine take a courageous anti-imperialist position,  the ISA leadership not only refuses to take the side of the Ukrainian people but even calls to stop any military aid to the Ukraine!
“The real nature of the war as a ‘proxy war’ is being revealed. Russian imperialism — claiming to be fighting NATO expansion, and US imperialism — aiming to weaken Russia are fighting it out using Ukraine as the battlefield. Many internationally are expressing their solidarity with the suffering of the Ukrainian people, Ukrainians themselves are justifiably opposed to the Russian occupation. But the solution clearly is not, as many of those sympathetic to the Ukrainians argue, to step up the supply of weapons, increase sanctions and support the strengthening of NATO. This will only prolong the war, with all its brutality. On the contrary, only independent working class action, by the Ukrainian working class with appeals to the Russian working class and even soldiers to oppose the war, by the Russian working class to oppose the mobilization for the war, by the international working class by giving solidarity, and blockading the transport of weapons can stop this conflict.” 
“We completely oppose the invasion and occupation of Ukraine by the Russian army, and fully support the right of self-determination for Ukraine. That also means opposition to NATO, and the massive increase in militarisation, the supply of weapons and sanctions.“ 
The Marxist position on the Ukraine War
The RCIT has always strongly rejected such a reactionary abstentionist position. Recognising the dual character of the current conflict, we advocate a dual tactic. Similar to the approach of the Trotskyists in several wars in the 1930s and 1940s, we support the resistance of the Ukrainian people against imperialist Russia as a progressive and legitimate national war of defence. 
At the same time, we also recognize the reactionary character of the inter-imperialist rivalry between the Great Powers. In this conflict, socialists oppose both camps – Russia as well as NATO. We summarize the RCIT’s position in the following slogan: Defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism! 
Based on such an internationalist and anti-imperialist position, we oppose Western sanctions against Russia since these are an instrument of Great Power rivalry.  At the same time, we strongly support the right of the Ukraine to get weapons from wherever possible as these can only aid the national liberation struggle. In short, we opposed measures which strengthen imperialist powers, but we support measures which empower the resistance struggle of oppressed people.
It is on such a political basis that the RCIT has been engaged in a number of international solidarity activities with the Ukrainian resistance struggle. 
As the quotes above demonstrate, the ISA leadership denounce any kind of Western activities concerning Russia under the pretext of “anti-imperialism”. In reality, as we explained in our article, the ISA policy does not contain an inch of anti-imperialism! In fact, it is nothing but opportunist adaptation to the pink-pacifist and semi-Putinista milieu of the Western left.
Calling the imperialist states to fully sanction Iran
Our assessment is fully confirmed by the ISA’s policy which its leadership is currently advocating in the international solidarity movement with the mass protests in Iran. Here they combine support for this popular uprising – which, of course, is an obligatory duty for each and every socialist  – with shameless advocacy of imperialist sanctions against Iran!
True, in general proclamations the ISA opposes Western sanctions.  But in their concrete Iran solidarity work, they make Trump look like a toothless pacifist. In a recently adopted manifesto, they call for the expropriation of Iranian assets abroad (something which the U.S. and other imperialist governments have done already in the past).
“The sanctions decided by the EU are ultimately toothless symbolic politics. Only after weeks of protests did the EU decide to issue very limited entry bans and to freeze assets. As a labor movement in Austria, we must expropriate these assets.” 
Of course, for authentic Marxists the real problem with Western sanctions against Iran is not that these are “toothless” but rather that these measures strengthen the imperialist powers at the cost of Iran – a semi-colonial country of the Global South!
The ISA leaders might defend themselves by referring to the addition that they say: “As a labor movement in Austria, we must expropriate these assets.” However, as every person living in this universe – and not in the phantasy world of ISA ideologists – knows, the labour movement can only expropriate the assets of Iran (or any other state) after it has taken power! Unfortunately, people of this mortal world (and not the Everafter) recognise that the labour movement in Austria (or any other Western countries) still has a stiff job to do until they can overthrow of the ruling class! In short, the call for the expropriation of Iran’s assets effectively legitimises the imperialist policy.
The ISA’s leadership advocacy of imperialist sanctions against Iran becomes particularly obvious in Austria. This example is telling because a) it is the country where the ISA ’s Iranian solidarity work has materialised and b) the local leaders play an important role in the ISA’s international leadership.
In its articles and statements, the ISA in Austria demands not only the expropriation of “all assets of the (Iranian) regime and associated organisations”. They even call for the “closure of Iran’s embassy” and the “expulsions of all diplomatic personnel”. In order to make the imperialist sanctions more effective, the ISA demands: “Disclosure of the books of all companies that have done business with the regime over the past few decades to determine if those deals are still taking place indirectly. Confiscation of all profits derived from these deals.” 
This means nothing but stopping companies to carry on any trade with Iran. As widely-known, Trump and other Western imperialists have imposed harsh sanctions against Iran, prohibiting companies to do business with Iran in important sectors. But this is not enough for the ISA. They want to prohibit trade with Iran in each and every sector! What is this if not overtaking the Trumpians from the right?!
In another article, which repeats the same demands, the ISA criticises that European governments have imposed only “very limited” sanctions against Iran until now and these were done only because of “pressure from below by the global solidarity movement.” 
The European governments are also criticised for “being interested in a nuclear deal” with Iran. Obviously, the ISA prefers a continuation of the Western sanctions against Iran!
And to make its Trumpian policy even more explicit, the ISA calls for the “closure of Iranian embassies all over the world”.
In summary, the ISA calls imperialist governments to completely isolate Iran – economically as well as diplomatically.
The hypocrisy of the ISA’s “anti-imperialism”
The ISA’s policy is nothing but complete hypocrisy. They oppose any sanctions against Russia but call for total sanctions against Iran! What a double standard!
Putin has slaughtered tens of thousands of Ukrainians in the last 8 months – are these people less valuable than the 250 or so killed demonstrators in Iran?! Cynically, the ISA even opposes military aid to the Ukraine which it needs for repulsing the invaders!
The reactionary regime in Iran oppresses women. But is the Putin regime – which is known for its homophobic tirades and which just now adopts in its Duma a draconic anti-LGBT+ bill – any better?!
The ISA’s call for sanctions against Iran is particularly outrageous because, on one hand, it (correctly) opposes sanctions against Russia – a country which is an imperialist Great Power. But, on the other hand, it calls the Western imperialists to fully sanction Iran – a country which is not an imperialist state but a semi-colonial country! And, furthermore, it is a semi-colonial country which suffers from Western and Israeli aggression since more than four decades! Obviously, these sanctions are not enough for the ISA leaders, so they call for even more!
As we did point out repeatedly, this pro-sanction policy is a continuation of the ISA’s (and its predecessor organization, the CWI) repeated failure to defend semi-colonial countries against imperialist aggression. The same with its long-standing support for “left” Zionism and its two-state concept. 
Likewise, we have not forgotten that the ISA leaders publicly stated their support for Charlie Hebdo – the Islamophobic and racist magazine in France which is known for its outrageous anti-Muslim caricatures. These “anti-imperialists” even participated in demonstrations of support organized by European governments after the armed attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarter in 2015. 
Given such hypocrisy, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the ISA’s policy on the Ukraine War and on Iran appeals to one and the same petty-bourgeois, liberal milieu in Western countries which is dominated by sympathies for Russia and China as well as by Islamophobic prejudices.
We conclude this article by repeating that socialists in the ISA need to draw conclusions. The leadership of this organisation has proven to be an opponent of the Ukrainian resistance struggle. It denounces Western sanctions against Russian imperialism but calls for harshest possible sanctions by the same Western powers against semi-colonial Iran!
Those who don’t want to become part of such a shameful policy must take decisive steps to free themselves from political captivity. This means to break with the ISA and to join forces with authentic revolutionaries on the basis of a consistent internationalist and anti-imperialist program! Comrades, don’t hesitate – let us fight together for such a program!
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: A Confirmation, Unfortunately. The ISA officially reiterates its refusal to defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion, calling it an “inter-imperialist proxy war”, 29 July 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/a-confirmation-unfortunately/; by the same author: Boycotting the Ukrainian Resistance Is Neither Internationalist Nor Socialist! On the “International Socialist Alternative” and its refusal to support the Ukraine’s war of defence against Russian imperialism, 10 June 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/isa-boycotts-the-ukrainian-resistance/; Nao Hong: ISA: A Kautsky-Type of International, 28 July 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/isa-a-kautsky-type-of-international/; Yossi Schwartz: The ISA, by opposing the delivery of weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian imperialism, serves Russian imperialism, 14.04.2022, https://the-isleague.com/the-isa-by-opposing-the-delivery-of-weapons-to-ukraine-to-fight-russian-imperialism-serves-russian-imperialism/
 See on this e.g. RCIT: Said Kaba - 1985-2022. Obituary for a Russian comrade, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/#anker_40; see also Socialist Alternative: Даниил Раскольников: Почему Путин напал на Украину? 15 августа 2022, https://socialist.news/russia/war/why-putin-invade-ukraine/
 ISA: War in Ukraine. The New Era and the Crisis of Capitalism, 11 April 2022 https://internationalsocialist.net/en/2022/04/isa-international-committee-statement
 Walter Chambers: War in Ukraine — a New Drawn-Out Phase, ISA, 18 May 2022, https://internationalsocialist.net/en/2022/05/war-in-ukraine-2
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: A Marxist Slogan and its Caricature. On the social-imperialist distortion of the slogan “The Main Enemy Is At Home” in the context of the Ukraine War and the Taiwan Strait Crisis, 17 August 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-marxist-slogan-the-main-enemy-is-at-home-and-its-social-imperialist-distortion/; by the same author: The Ukraine War and the Second Sino-Japanese War: A Historical Analogy. The dual tactic of Marxists in the Ukraine War today draws on the approach of their predecessors in the war between China and Japan in 1937-41, 10 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/ukraine-war-second-sino-japanese-war-a-historical-analogy/
 We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 120 RCIT documents on the Ukraine War and the current NATO-Russia conflict are compiled: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/. In particular we refer to the RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-ukraine-war-a-turning-point-of-world-historic-significance/
 For our critique of support for Western sanctions against Russia see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Ukraine War: Revolutionary Defensism and Non-Revolutionary Defensism. A comradely critique of LIT-CI which falsely combines its defence of the Ukraine with support for Western imperialist sanctions against Russia, 15 July 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/ukraine-war-revolutionary-defensism-and-non-revolutionary-defensism/; by the same author: Ukraine War: Supporting Western Sanctions Is Impermissible for Socialists! Support for the Ukrainian resistance must be combined with consistent anti-imperialism (a comradely critique of LIT-CI), 1 June 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/ukraine-war-supporting-western-sanctions-is-impermissible-for-socialists/; Can Socialists Support Imperialist Sanctions? The “Fourth International” in the tradition of Pablo and Mandel supports Western sanctions against Russia, 4 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/can-socialists-support-imperialist-sanctions/; Why Socialists Should Not Support Imperialist Sanctions or the United Nations. A comradely critique of a joint statement of Russian and Ukrainian socialists, 17 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/why-socialists-should-not-support-imperialist-sanctions-or-un/
 See on this RCIT: Convoy and Conference on MayDay 2022 in Ukraine, 4 May 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/international-workers-aid/#anker_1; for an overview of our solidarity activities see https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/international-workers-aid/; see also: An Inspiring Internationalist Rally against Russian Imperialism. Syrian, Chechen and Ukrainian migrants as well as “Russians against War” jointly demonstrate against the Putin regime, 25 September 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/internationalist-rally-against-russian-imperialism-25-9-2022/.
 For several RCIT documents on the popular uprising in Iran see: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/mass-protests-against-reactionary-regime-in-iran/
 See e.g. ISA: “Woman, Life, Freedom”: A Programme to Win, 9 October 2022, https://internationalsocialist.net/en/2022/10/iranian-revolution
 Manifesto of the Iran Solidarity Movement in Austria, This statement was decided on the 23rd of October at a conference of over 60 people of the Iran Solidarity Movement in Vienna — a political initiative of ISA and ROSA activists in Austria, 27 October 2022, https://internationalsocialist.net/en/2022/10/iran-uprising
 The quotes in this paragraph are from: ROSA: Iranische Regime-Unterstützer greifen Oppositionellen in Wien an
ROSA, 27.10.2022, https://www.slp.at/artikel/iranische-regime-unterst%C3%BCtzer-greifen-oppositionellen-in-wien-an-11029. The translation is ours.
 Iran: zahnlose Sanktionen der EU erst nach wochenlangen Protesten, 19.10.2022, https://www.slp.at/artikel/iran-zahnlose-sanktionen-der-eu-erst-nach-wochenlangen-protesten-11025
 See on this chapter 13 in the book by Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, RCIT Books, Vienna 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/great-robbery-of-the-south/; see also chapter XXVIII in another book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/; see also Yossi Schwartz: The soft and not so soft Zionism of the ISA, 25.05.2022, https://the-isleague.com/the-soft-and-not-so-soft-zionism-of-the-isa/; Michael Pröbsting: The CWI’s “Socialist” Zionism and the Palestinian Liberation Struggle. A Reply from the RCIT, 15.9.2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/cwi-and-israel/; a pamphlet by the same author: Syria and Great Power Rivalry: The Failure of the „Left“. The bleeding Syrian Revolution and the recent Escalation of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry between the US and Russia – A Marxist Critique of Social Democracy, Stalinism and Centrism, 21 April 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syria-great-power-rivalry-and-the-failure-of-the-left/.
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: After the Paris Attack: Socialists must Join Hands with Muslim People Against Imperialism and Racism! Reformist and Centrist Forces try to derail the Workers Movement by Failing to Stand up for Solidarity with the Muslims and Against Imperialist War-Mongering!, 17.1.2015, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/france-defend-muslims/. This article includes links to the relevant articles of the ISA/CWI documents.
- 무원칙한 “사회주의자들”이 우크라이나 저항투쟁에 대한 반대와, 혹독한 대 이란 제재 촉구를 결합시키다
미하엘 프뢰브스팅, 혁명적 공산주의인터내셔널 동맹 (RCIT) 국제서기, 2022년 10월 28일, www.thecommunists.net
푸틴의 우크라이나 침공 시작 이래로 우리는 이 전쟁에 대한 부끄러운 입장을 취하고 있는 “국제사회주의대안(ISA)”을 줄곧 비판하지 않을 수 없었다. ISA 국제 지도부는 러시아의 침략을 비난하면서도, 러시아 제국주의에 맞선 우크라이나 인민의 저항은 서방 강대국들의 이익에 복무하는 것일 뿐이라며 우크라이나 인민의 방어에 수미일관 반대해왔다. 반면 ISA의 러시아와 우크라이나 지부들 동지들은 용기 있는 반제국주의 입장을 취하고 있는데, ISA 지도부는 우크라이나 인민을 편 들기를 거부할 뿐만 아니라 우크라이나에 대한 어떠한 군사적 지원도 중단할 것을 요구하기까지 한다!
"'대리전'으로서의 전쟁의 실체가 드러나고 있다. 나토 팽창에 맞서 싸우고 있다고 자처하는 러시아 제국주의와 러시아 약화를 목적으로 하는 미 제국주의가 우크라이나를 전쟁터로 삼아 싸우고 있는 것이다. 국제적으로 많은 사람들이 우크라이나 인민의 고통에 연대를 표명하고 있으며, 우크라이나인들 스스로도 러시아 점령에 대해 정당하게 반대하고 있다. 그러나 우크라이나에 동조하는 많은 사람들이 주장하는 것처럼 해결책이 무기 공급을 증강하고, 제재를 늘리고, 나토의 강화를 지지하는 것이 아님은 분명하다. 이것은 전쟁의 그 모든 잔혹성과 함께 전쟁을 장기화할 뿐이다. 반대로, 오직 독립적인 노동자계급 행동만이, 즉 우크라이나 노동자계급이 러시아 노동자계급과 나아가 병사들에게 전쟁에 반대할 것을 호소하고 러시아 노동자계급이 전쟁을 위한 동원에 반대하며 국제 노동자계급이 연대를 보내고 무기 운송을 차단하는 등 이와 같은 독립적인 노동자계급 행동만이 이 분쟁을 막을 수 있다."
“우리는 러시아군의 우크라이나 침공과 점령에 전면 반대하며 우크라이나의 자결권을 전적으로 지지한다. 이는 또한 나토 반대와 함께 군사화와 무기 공급과 제재를 대규모로 확대하는 것에 대한 반대를 의미한다.”
우크라이나 전쟁에 대한 맑스주의 입장
언제나 RCIT는 이러한 반동적 기권주의 입장을 강하게 거부해왔다. 우리는 현 충돌의 이중적 성격을 인식하여 이중적 전술을 제창한다. 우리는 1930년대 및 40년대의 전쟁들에서 트로츠키주의자들이 취했던 접근법과 비슷하게, 우크라이나 인민의 제국주의 러시아에 맞선 저항을 진보적이고 정당한 민족 방위 전쟁으로 지지한다.
동시에 우리는 또 강대국 간 제국주의 패권경쟁의 반동적 성격도 인식한다. 이 분쟁에서 사회주의자들은 러시아와 나토 양 진영 모두에 반대한다. 우리는 RCIT의 입장을 다음과 같은 슬로건으로 요약 정리한다. 푸틴의 침략에 대항하여 우크라이나를 방어하라! 러시아 제국주의와 나토 제국주의 둘 다에 맞서자!
우리는 이러한 국제주의·반제국주의 입장에 입각하여, 서방의 러시아 제재는 강대국 패권경쟁의 도구이므로 반대한다. 동시에 우리는 민족해방 투쟁을 위해 우크라이나가 가능한 모든 곳에서 무기를 얻을 수 있는 권리를 강력하게 지지한다. 간단히 말해서, 우리는 제국주의 열강을 강화하는 조치에 반대하지만, 피억압 인민의 저항투쟁에 힘을 실어주는 조치를 지지한다.
RCIT가 우크라이나 저항투쟁과의 연대에 앞서 이미 수많은 국제연대 활동을 해온 것은 바로 이 같은 정치적 근거에 기초해서다.
위의 인용문이 보여주듯이, ISA 지도부는 "반제국주의"를 구실로 서방의 러시아 관련 활동 일체를 비난한다. 실제로, 우리가 한 문서에서 설명했듯이, ISA 정책에는 한 치의 반제국주의도 포함되어 있지 않다! 실제로 ISA 정책은 서방 좌파의 핑크빛 평화주의 · 반(半)푸틴주의 환경에 기회주의적으로 영합하는 것 이상도 이하도 아니다.
“사회주의” 조직이 제국주의 국가들에게 이란을 전면 제재하라고 요구하다
우리 평가의 옳음은 현재 ISA 지도부가 이란 민중항쟁과의 국제연대 운동에서 내걸고 있는 정책에 의해 완전히 확인된다. 여기서 ISA 지도부는 이 민중항쟁에 대한 지지 ㅡ 당연히도, 그러한 지지는 개개의 모든 사회주의자들에게 필수적인 의무다 ㅡ 를 대(對)이란 제국주의 제재 촉구와 결합시킨다!
일반적 선언에서는 ISA가 서방의 제재에 반대하는 것은 사실이다. 그러나 구체적인 이란 연대 사업에서는, ISA는 트럼프를 이빨 빠진 평화주의자처럼 보이게 한다. 최근 채택한 선언문에서 ISA는 이란 해외 자산의 몰수 (미국을 비롯한 제국주의 정부들이 이미 해온 것)를 촉구한다.
"EU가 결정한 제재는 결국 이빨 빠진 상징적 정치다. 몇 주간의 항의시위가 있은 뒤에야 EU는 매우 제한적인 입국 금지령을 내리고 자산을 동결하기로 결정했다... 오스트리아의 노동운동으로서 우리는 이 자산을 몰수해야 한다."
진정한 맑스주의자들에게 서방의 대 이란 제재의 진짜 문제는 이 제재가 "이빨 빠진" 것이어서가 아니라, 이 조치들이 남반구 반식민지 나라인 이란을 희생시켜 제국주의 열강들을 강화시킨다는 것이다!
ISA 지도부는 자신들이 "오스트리아의 노동운동으로서 우리는 이 자산을 몰수해야 한다"고 추가로 말한 것을 가리키며 자신들을 방어할 수도 있을 것이다. 하지만, 이 우주에 ㅡ ISA 이데올로그들의 판타지 세계가 아닌 이 우주에 ㅡ 사는 모든 사람이 알고 있듯이, 노동운동은 권력을 잡은 뒤에만이 이란의 (또는 다른 나라의) 자산을 몰수할 수 있다! 안타깝게도, 이 영원히 살 수 없는, 언젠가는 죽게 될 이 세계에서 사람들은 노동운동이 지배계급을 타도할 수 있으려면 여전히 해야 할 힘든 일이 앞에 놓여 있다고 인식한다! 간단히 말해서, 이란 자산의 몰수 요구는 사실상 제국주의 정책을 정당화한다.
ISA 지도부의 대 이란 제국주의 제재 촉구는 오스트리아에서 특히 분명해진다. 이 예가 특히 상징적인 이유는 a) 오스트리아가 ISA의 이란 연대 사업이 구체화된 나라여서고, b) 오스트리아 지부 지도자들이 ISA 국제 지도부에서 중요한 역할을 해서다.
오스트리아 ISA는 "(이란) 정권 및 관련 단체들의 모든 자산"의 몰수만 요구하고 있는 것이 아니다. "이란 대사관 폐쇄"와 "모든 외교관 추방"까지도 요구한다. ISA는 제국주의 제재를 더욱 효과적으로 되게 하기