Down with imperialist aggression against Syria! USA, hands off Syria!

[The following is a recent statement from revolutionary Maoists in Brazil, detailing their analysis of the ever-growing civil war in Syria as a proxy war by contending imperialist powers for control of the Middle East.  It is an important contribution to the international debate among revolutionaries, over the shifting relations and aggressions, direct and indirect, by leading powers in the world imperialist system. — Frontlines ed.]

Proletarians and oppressed people of the world, unite!

Declaration of the Revolutionary Front for the Defence of the People’s Rights – Brazil

About the recent situation in Syria

In the last months, the imperialist Yankee has intensified its manipulations and provocations to justify its military invasion in Syria. The US propaganda machine is once again creating smokescreens to justify to the world public yet another predatory war. “To defend democracy,” “human rights”, stop use of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction;” these are the new smokescreens of the Yankee imperialism in its counter-revolutionary offensive, reviving the “War on Terror”. These were also the same pretexts used to justify the aggression towards Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Libya, and many other countries. by the very forces  who are the most responsible for countless massacres and use of weapons of mass destruction in human history; imperialism, mainly Yankee.

Since 2011, the people in Syria are subjected to imperialist predatory war that currently is conducted in the form of a civil war. The armed forces of Assad’s regime (sustained politically, economically, and militarily by Russian imperialism) and the self-proclaimed ‘Free Syrian Army’ (mercenary forces directly controlled by the USA through their intelligence services and regional allies) are the contenders of this inter-imperialist dispute on the Syrian territory. In this war all kinds of horrors against the masses have been practised, without this having motivated attention or outcry from the well know”international institutions”. Continue reading

Tumultuous 60’s: an announcement of a forthcoming book on revolutionary Maoism in the US

[While many other books on the movements of the 60’s and 70’s in the US have either ignored or dismissed/denounced the role of Maoism in the United States, this announcement of a forthcoming book, “The Heavy Radicals: The Revolutionary Union/Revolutionary Communist Party 1968-1980”  by Aaron Leonard (to be published in early 2014), promises a detailed look and critical assessment of revolutionary Maoism (as practiced by the Revolutionary Union and the Revolutionary Communist Party-USA) and its impact on a variety of politically radical movements and popular struggles, from campuses to workplaces to anti-war, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist campaigns in those tumultuous times.  We expect the difference of this approach will stimulate much interest, which we look forward to, and debate, in which we expect many will engage.  — Frontlines ed.]


Announcing “The Heavy Radicals: The Revolutionary Union/Revolutionary Communist Party 1968-1980”  by Aaron Leonard

The Revolutionary Union / Revolutionary Communist Party was the largest Maoist organization to arise in the United States in the tumultuous period of the late 1960s early 1970s. This is acknowledged not only by other Left political trends, but also by the Federal Government, which had it as subject of no less than four Congressional Hearings in its key years. Oddly though it largely stands outside established histories of the period; it is not taught in the academy, appears hardly at all in academic papers, and is passed over in the more popular books of SDS and sixties radicalism.

Avakian-Free Huey

The reasons for this are manifold. The organization is victim of its own discipline that had little interest in promoting its history beyond whatever campaign or controversy it was involved in at the moment. Further those leaving the organization were circumspect in talking about their time there — either out of standing respect for the group’s discipline, a desire to move on with their lives, or the belief that a return to “the mainstream” necessarily involved disassociating themselves from their sixties revolutionary past, or some combination of each.

There was also a penchant for the established media and other institutions to promote more sensational trends. Group such as the Weathermen — while more marginal, were ideologically more amenable as emblematic of the ‘madness’ of extremes or despair of fighting for lost causes. It is also the case that the dominant culture in the United States has no interest promoting the concept of domestic revolutionaries embracing Maoism and undertaking the long term work of preparing for insurrection in a highly developed capitalist country. Continue reading

Power Politics 101: Promoters of butcher Assad, Beware — Russia follows capitalist realpolitik

[Seeing the writing on the wall–that the days of their “ally” Assad of Syria are numbered–capitalist-imperialist power Russia (a growing imperialist contender to US’ imperial hegemon) seeks to ensure and preserve a piece of post-Assad Syria for its own regional interests.  Those who have made spurious claims that the Russian/Assad-ist Syrian alliance is somehow an anti-imperialist front, will have to adjust their framework, substantially…..Meanwhile, talks between US imperialists and the “official” Syrian opposition have, simultaneously, been held.  The fragmentary and formative revolutionary people’s forces have, to all indications, played no role in either set of talks with imperialists, as they have been either decimated or, driven underground or into exile, are making difficult preparations for the future. — Frontlines ed.]


Russia in ground-breaking talks with Syrian opposition

03 Feb 2013 – MUNICH, Germany (AFP)

[Photo:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov]
Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.

Moscow said Saturday it wanted to keep in regular contact with the Syrian opposition, after its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib met for the first time.

“I reminded Khatib that after the creation of the coalition and the appointment of their leader, we immediately demonstrated our interest in maintaining regular contact,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying after the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“We will make that happen,” he added.

[Photo: A rebel fighter poses in front of a Soviet-made T55 tank abandoned by pro-Syrian regime forces in al-Yaqubia in northern Syrian, on February 2, 2013. Ground-breaking talks between the Russian foreign minister and the Syrian opposition leader have bolstered a global push to narrow sharp differences over how to end the conflict in Syria.]

Lavrov had earlier Saturday held talks with US Vice President Joe Biden and UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi amid strong disagreement between Moscow and Washington about ways to end the 22-month Syria conflict, which according to the United Nations has claimed upwards of 60,000 lives.

Khatib, who became the head of the coalition late last year, reiterated on the opening day of the Munich talks Friday an earlier surprise announcement that his group is ready for dialogue with the Damascus regime — subject to conditions including the release of 160,000 detainees.

Lavrov said Moscow welcomed the initiative, adding: “If we take into account the fact that the coalition was founded on a refusal to engage in a dialogue with the regime, it’s a very important step.” Continue reading

Open letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left to support the Syrian popular revolution!

[The views and voice of the Syrian revolutionary left has been difficult to hear amidst the clamor of contending distortions by international media–whether Western, Russian, Chinese, or from within the Middle East.  We are seeking more information from popular secular forces involved in the uprising–including more information about the revolutionary left forces.  The following is an important statement and analysis by the Revolutionary Left in Syria, detailing the role and relations of the various forces within Syria and of the world imperialist and regional forces who have been attempting to seize control of the uprising.  We will report further materials confirming and contextualizing this, as they become available. —  Frontlines ed.]

“The major Western imperialists powers, and other world imperialist powers such as Russia and China, as well as regional ones such as Iran and Turkey, in their entirety and without exception, continue to try to implement a Yemeni-type solution in Syria – in other words, to cut off the head of the regime, the dictator Bashar Al Assad, while keeping its structure intact, as was witnessed during meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, or at the international conference in June 30 in Geneva. The only sticking point is the Russian position of still trying by all means to keep Assad in power, but Russia may sacrifice this in the near future to protect its interests in Syria. The United States in turn has repeatedly expressed its desire to preserve the structure of the military and security services intact.”  — from the Open Letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left


 The resistance of the Syrian people has not ceased to grow since the revolutionary process began in March 2011. The struggle of the Syrian people is part of the popular struggles in Tunisia and Egypt, which has spread to other countries in the region.

Similarly, the Syrian revolutionary process is part of the global anti-capitalist struggles. The “Indignados” or “occupied” movements and occupations have taken their inspiration from the Arab revolutions. More than 700 cities in over 70 countries have resonated and for some still resonate of slogans and demands of a movement that demonstrates against poverty and the power of finance. In the same time, the resistance of the Greek people against the dictates imposed by financial agencies and notations is also a battle for dignity and social justice, but also the emancipation against the capitalist order and not its submission, joining the struggles of the peoples of the region.

The Syrian uprising, arising out of the global financial and economic crisis is also a revolt against the neoliberal policies imposed by the authoritarian regime, and encouraged by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

The neoliberal policies were used to dismantle and to weaken increasingly the public services in the country, to the removal of subsidies, especially for basic necessities, while accelerating the privatization process, often in favor of the ruling and bourgeois classes linked to the political power.

The neoliberal reforms of the regime have encouraged a policy based on the reception and the welcoming of foreign direct investment, the development of exports and of the service sector, especially tourism. The repressive apparatus of this country has served as a “security agent” for these companies, protecting them of all disorders or social demands. This State has played the role of matchmaker for foreign capital and multinationals, while ensuring the enrichment of a bourgeois class linked to the regime.

The ills and consequences of these neoliberal policies in Syria are numerous. This includes the high rate of unemployment, particularly among young university graduates who cannot find opportunities in an economy now focused on low value-added jobs, and where skilled labor is scarce, or characterized by underemployment, a direct consequence of these measures. Continue reading

Frantz Fanon and the Arab Uprisings: An Interview with Nigel Gibson

from Thinking Africa: Fanon 50 years later
Nigel Gibson was interviewed by Yasser Munif in Jadaliyya:  “The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon’s magnum opus, was published in 1961, a few days after his death. The book was not only influential for several generations of grassroots movements and activists in Africa, the United States, and Latin America; it was also discussed and debated extensively in intellectual circles across the globe. The reception of the book was more mitigated in the Arab world. This might be due to Fanon’s sweeping criticism of national bourgeoisie, which seized power after decolonization and became an intermediary class between Western powers and local populations. The Martiniquan intellectual was skeptical of revolutions from above, as was the case with several anti-colonialist movements in the Arab World. Interestingly, while the Arabic translation of the The Wretched of the Earth came out shortly after its publication in French, it omitted many passages because they were critical of the national bourgeoisie. Fifty years later, Fanon is almost absent in public discourses in the Middle East and is still marginal in the Maghreb. The uprisings should have been an excellent opportunity for Arab intellectuals and activists to engage with Fanon’s work on the revolution and the subaltern in the new conjuncture. However, despite the significance of his political philosophy for the current revolts, his books are either out of print or conspicuously absent from many bookstores in the Arab world.
“In this interview with Nigel Gibson, one of the most prominent experts on Fanon’s work, he explains the significance of the Fanonian theoretical framework and its relevance for the Arab uprisings. Nigel Gibson has written a number of articles and books on the Martiniquan intellectual and deployed a Fanonian perspective to examine many contemporary revolts. His numerous books include Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003) and Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo (2011). He teaches postcolonial theory at Emerson College. The interview was conducted in Boston in July 2012.”

Though the “Arab Spring” opened things up in many countries, it was not all the same, nor is the struggle of the people complete on any front, so attempts to classify or categorize will inherently fail. Nonetheless, this map represents one view of how things have gone (so far).

Yasser Munif (YM): Ongoing protests have swept the Arab world since the toppling of the Tunisian dictator. They changed the political and cultural landscape of the region. The mot d’ordre of the protesters is clear: “The people want the fall of the regime.” Western powers tried to co-opt the protests because real democracy in the Arab World can threaten their domination of the region. They want to maintain their hegemony in the oil rich gulf. The region is also important geopolitically because of the United States’ close ties to Israel and its wars in the Middle East. The interest of the West in the region is not new. In Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said argues that while formal colonization ended in the mid-twentieth century, Arab countries became the political satellites of the West since then. He writes, “for two generations the United States has sided in the Middle East mostly with tyranny and injustice… one administration after another has propped up compliant and unpopular clients, and turned away from the efforts of small peoples to liberate themselves from military occupation. In a way, Said is suggesting that real independence was never achieved; the present politico-economic condition of Arab countries is a continuation of the colonial period by new means. In this context, the work of Frantz Fanon is very relevant to understanding the current Arab uprisings. Yet, as you explain in a recent essay, one should refrain from the temptation of extrapolating old concepts into new situations. Referring to Fanon’s work ,you write, “The task for radicals is to avoid applying pre-formed cookie-cutter theory to new situations and jamming a new event or movement into old categories, but, instead, to begin to open up space for dialogue and reflection on action.” Do you think that Frantz Fanon’s analysis about colonialism, imperialism, and independence movements can have any relevance today for Arab protesters who are challenging despotic regimes?

Nigel Gibson (NG): I do think that Fanon has relevance, and so the question is how do you approach Fanon? Are there categories in Fanon’s thought that can simply be applied to new situations, and if so what new thinking would emerge? Applying Fanon’s categories to new situations is valuable to a degree, but the question I am asking is what does Fanon offer us methodologically? In other words, how does he actually get us to rethink our concepts? I think Fanon is basically an open thinker and a radically humanist thinker. If you look at the first pages of Black Skin White Masks, where he is critical of scientific methods, to the final pages of the Wretched of the Earth, where he talks about working out new concepts, the question is how and on what basis do you work on new concepts with the goal of human freedom? For Fanon, becoming actional is connected to his idea of a new humanism, which is explicitly critical of European humanism so intimately connected with colonialism. So, it is not simply about finding new concepts from anywhere, but being both critical and self-critical and also being very open to what is happening on the ground. So, in other words, a critic could have said, last January in 2011 in Tahrir Square, that if you read Fanon, you know that the liberatory moment is going to be closed down by the military or the state, and therefore end up with a kind of ontological pessimism. We are defeated before we begin. The critic might add, Fanon tells us that all these revolutions in the end will fail, and look: they have. But, for me, that is not how one engages Fanon. If Fanon is alive he is in the revolts because the revolts themselves open up something very new. One has to be aware, or listen, or open one’s mind to what are the new beginnings.
Now, you could look at the situation and say, Fanon tells us to be very wary of the nationalist elite and all the other social forces we could talk about: religious elite, nationalist elite, military elite, regional elites, and the comprador nature of some of these elites and all the repressive ideologies that justify them. So, in other words, the question then becomes how do you employ Fanon productively? You do not want to close down possibilities, but at the same time, you want to be wary of Fanon’s warnings. So, in a certain sense, it is what I would consider a dialectical approach. It is not simply good enough—and one could do it with any thinker, one could do it with Marx—to have a series of categories to say, well, this revolt will fail because it does not correspond with the categories or fulfill certain expectations in a Marx or in a Fanon, and therefore it is doomed to do this and that. Even if in the end it does this and that, we have to be open about what is new in the Arab revolts. What do they tell us? How do they come about? Why have they come about now? In what way can one see them as new beginnings, a turning of a page, and the creation of a new historical moment, rather than a repetition of a neocolonial situation that you mention in Said’s quote in the beginning? If Fanon’s thought is alive, it cannot be simply applied.
YM: As I mentioned above, Said thinks that the process of decolonization was aborted by local social forces or international policies, and that what we are experiencing in the Middle East today is a continuation of old fashioned colonialism, as in the case of Iraq, or a form of neocolonialism /imperialism, as is the case of most Arab countries. In that sense, Fanon is extremely relevant and we have to reread him. And yet, Fanon has been extremely absent in the Arab public spheres, public discussions, and the media in general. Some intellectuals have either consciously avoided him or are ignorant about his work and its implications on contemporary Arab societies. Others, for ideological reasons, denied these connections between “metropole” and “colony,” to use Fanon’s categories and the relationship between the two. Many Arabs and Western liberals have argued that the revolts are about democracy and anti-authoritarianism and we should not conflate these new categories with the older ones such as imperialism or colonialism. Hazem Saghieh, one of the influential Lebanese journalists who writes for the London-based and Gulf-funded al-Hayat newspaper, wrote in one of his articles that protesters in Tahrir Square were not holding signs about imperialism or Zionism, and these revolts are therefore about internal /local issues and regional concerns. So, how can one make an argument for the relevance of Fanon when he is so absent in public discourses?
NG: It is almost like different levels of abstractions. There is not a one-to-one correspondence; fifty years is the long time to think about a thinker’s relevance or to think of the relevance of their work to a contemporary period. However, in the same way, you could say that there were not very many banners about democracy in the way that liberal democracy or the western kind of democracy understands it and that the pundits have said the revolts were about. Therefore, the signs and slogans in Tahrir may have not been about imperialism, and they may have not reflected the kind of things that the liberal critics wanted to talk about either. But the issue then becomes not to judge things by an a priori anti-imperial discourse. Rather, the first thing is to find out what is being talked about. What are people saying? It was certainly about getting rid of Mubarak. But it was more than that, even if it was not explicit; the point is to trace through the contradictions and developments. Someone who has not read Fanon and who lived through that period, and now reads Fanon, will find out how quickly he or she identifies with his analysis of how the new rulers behave like the old rulers; it is a revolution, yes, but in the old sense of revolving and repeating what was happening before. In one sense, it is how we understand neo-colonialism, but Fanon is not only talking about the threat from imperialism, which is always there, but how the threats are manifested internally. He speaks about a great threat to the decolonial movement being the lack of liberatory ideologies. What does he mean by ideology? Certainly, there are many ideologies around. There are Islamic ideologies; there are nationalist ideologies, neoliberal ideologies, and so forth. He is talking about something else. He has a vision for something else. The subject of the Wretched of the Earth is the wretched of the earth, that majority of the people of the world, who are not only poor, but are actively denied agency and are constantly reminded that politics is above them. How do the wretched of the earth become actional, become political, and become social individuals? Fanon calls his ideology a new humanism, not only in contrast to the elite humanism of the West, but also on the axiom that the wretched of the earth, understood socially, think and thus must be a basis of a new politics. This, of course, is not achieved immediately, but it must become an explicit element of the struggle for liberation. Then there is the question of the role of the intellectual committed to social change. What can the intellectuals do in these periods? So, again we are back to Fanon’s relevance and the difficulty of talking about it in an applied way. First, it is interesting to look at the history of why Fanon is not considered relevant and the fact that postcolonial states have suppressed his thought in one way or another.   Second, the only way we can prove the relevance of Fanon in a certain way outside of some academic circles is to ask, do people involved in social struggles engage with Fanonian concepts and find something relevant for them, even if they have never heard of Fanon because Fanon is implicitly in the struggles? In other words, the idea of a new generation; he has a phrase at the beginning of “On National Consciousness, where he talks about how “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”[1] So, a new generation makes something of him and brings that into the discussion. To me, that would be the only proof of relevance of Fanon. I can make an argument for it, but in the end that would be the test. Now the question is: how would that happen? How do you get Fanon into the public discourse, especially when a lot of the public discourse is limited, and Fanon is considered irrelevant? You face liberal pundits like Hazem Saghieh, who might say that Fanon represents a fifty-year-old politics of violence and imperialism, or other politicians, who might emphasize that Fanon is not a Muslim and is therefore irrelevant to a Muslim society. These are some of the problems with discussing Fanon. Continue reading

Arab Spring and Imperialism

[The “Arab (and North Africa) Spring” enters its second year, where in country after country the complex interplay of domestic people’s movements, regional alliances, and imperialists (of both the crisis-driven old variety, and newbies making new global assertions)–are hellbent on asserting very elusive controls.  Such would-be controllers continue to be frustrated, and while this provides openings for revolutionary people to seize the time, their organizational, political, and military tools have been lacking–so far.  Time will tell how this will play out.  Deepankar Basu, writing in Sanhati, takes on the challenge of clarifying the different contradictions and forces at play. — Frontlines ed.]


February 20, 2012

by Deepankar Basu, Sanhati

The unprecedented wave of mass movements that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and quickly spread to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, with smaller scale demonstrations in Lebanon, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia has the potential to completely change (a) the socio-economic dynamics within the Arab world, and (b) the relationship of the Arab world to imperialism. To understand the dynamics and implications of the unfolding movements, it seems useful to abstract from the details of the movements in particular countries and take a broad brush view of matters. Moreover, to construct a broad brush view it seems important to disentangle two aspects of (or basic contradictions driving) the situation, not only in Syria that is the current focus of world attention but the Arab world in general.

The first, and primary, aspect is that all these movements, often taking the form of mass uprisings, are movements for democratization of their respective societies, a movement against decades-old authoritarian and brutal regimes backed by imperialism. In most cases, over the last two decades, these regimes saw a convergence between authoritarianism and neoliberalism. One way of stating this is to say, using an old-fashioned terminology, that the primary contradiction that is driving these movements in the contradiction between authoritarian (often neoliberal) regimes and the broad masses of the people in these countries.

The second, and to my mind secondary, aspect is the reality/possibility of imperialist intervention. Using the old-fashioned terminology once again, one could say that the secondary contradiction that is maturing in these events, that is driving these movements, is the contradiction between imperialism and the broad masses of the people.

Note that both contradictions are basic, in the sense that they are both active in the current situation; the current conjuncture is shaped by an interplay between them. But between the two it is also important to distinguish the primary from the secondary. What is the rationale for characterizing the contradiction between the broad masses and authoritarianism as the primary contradiction? The rationale is the following observation: each of these movements, without any exception, started as movements for democratization and against neoliberal authoritarian regimes; each of these movements retain that thrust. Hence, it seems very likely that what is being expressed through these movements is the maturing of the contradiction of these neoliberal authoritarian regimes and the popular classes. If at any point there is direct military invasion of a country by imperialist powers with the intention of turning the country into a colony, then the second contradiction, i.e., the contradiction between imperialism and the broad masses, would become the primary contradiction. Continue reading

December 26, 118 years since the birth of Mao Zedong: revolutionary leader, thinker, teacher, poet

Mao Zedong with peasants in Yenan, 1937

Reascending Chingkangshan

(To the tune of Shui Tiao Keh Tou – May 1965)

I have long aspired to reach for the clouds

And I again ascend Chingkangshan.

Coming from afar to view our old haunt, I find new scenes replacing the old.

Everywhere orioles sing, swallows dart,

Streams babble

And the road mounts skyward.

Once Huangyangchieh is passed

No other perilous place calls for a glance.

Wind and thunder are stirring,

Flags and banners are flying

Wherever men live.

Thirty-eight years are fled

With a mere snap of the fingers.

We can clasp the moon in the Ninth Heaven

And seize turtles deep down in the Five Seas:

We’ll return amid triumphant song and laughter.

Nothing is hard in this world

If you dare to scale the heights.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Continue reading