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Nov 2001 • Vol 1, No. 6 •

Statements on the War:

Statement by Central Secretariat of Inquilabi Communist Sangathan

(Indian Section of The Fourth International)

Revolutionary Marxists unequivocally condemn the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. The killing of thousands of ordinary working people is absolutely criminal and has nothing whatsoever to do with the struggle for human liberation in any form in any part of the world. Indeed, this atrocity will undoubtedly make this struggle more difficult and aid the forces of capitalist reaction, something that progressive Indians have been seeing over the years in Kashmir. There, too, the rise of extremely communal and terrorist forces has weakened the progressive struggle for Kashmir’s national unity and self-determination. Popular struggles throughout history have often involved the killing of oppressors, tyrants, police torturers and the like. Such actions may or may not be politically expedient. But such actions, for example by nationalist revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh , Surya Sen, or others had targeted known oppressors. But the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was of a fundamentally different kind. It was a deliberate act of mass murder. The perpetrators made no political demands, they had no goal except to kill indiscriminately and inflict pain, suffering and devastation. It showed an astonishing callousness and brutality. Our sympathy and solidarity are completely with the innocent victims of these terrorist acts, not with their perpetrators.


But our solidarity with the victims should not blind us to the absolutely breathtaking hypocrisy of George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and other imperialist spokespeople, their camp-followers in lesser capitalist powers, like Ariel Sharon or Ehud Barak, who have already launched an attack on Arafat and on the Palestinians generally, or Atal Behari Vajpayee, who is offering the Indian army as the foot-soldier in imperialism’s first 21st Century war, and their lackeys in the always-accommodating capitalist media. The outrage in the US can be described as the greatest act of terror of all time only with severe reservations. While it is certainly the greatest act of non-state terror, many acts of governmental terror have far surpassed it.

At the end of World War II, for example, the US leaders cold-bloodedly carried out the nuclear annihilation of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for two reasons: to show that they were capable of taking the bloodiest possible revenge for Pearl Harbor, and in order to tell not only their enemies, but also their war-time allies, notably the USSR, that they had the capacity to smash any country they chose to. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children died so that this US assertion was heeded by the world. During the long Cold War with the USSR, Washington propped up scores of blood-soaked Third World dictatorships and helped them torture and murder their opponents with impunity, and helped cover up their crimes. In 1965, for instance, the US helped aspiring Indonesian dictator Suharto organize a pogrom against the left and progressive forces which massacred at least one million people. The long US intervention in Vietnam against the liberation forces there killed and maimed millions of people and inflicted massive material devastation on the country. On 11th September, 1973, a military coup in Chile, with full US backing, ousted the left-wing regime of Salvador Allende, and murdered uncounted leftists and trade union activists.

Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime was another US client, being particularly favoured during the Iran-Iraq war of the early 1980s. Then the wheel turned and, for various reasons, he became a liability. Since the Gulf War, US and British-backed sanctions against Iraq have led to the deaths of more than a million Iraqis through starvation, disease and even the use of low grade radioactive material (in bomb casings) resulting in deaths due to radio-activity. These have also politically strengthened Saddam’s hold on power. Afghanistan’s brutal Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime is a product of the US-backed war of the reactionary Mujahadeen “freedom fighters” against the Soviet-installed People’s Democratic Party government. We, who had called for the pull-out of Soviet troops, had also warned that this kind of a consequence was likely if the Soviet invasion continued. But that indirect Soviet responsibility does not obliterate the direct responsibility of the imperialist powers, who at that point stoked up Islamic fundamentalism, which was also the origin of Osama bin Laden, currently targeted by Washington as the supposed global public enemy number one.

Ever since the 1959 Cuban Revolution removed Cuba from the US sphere of influence, Washington has organized numerous terrorist attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Furthermore, the US has imposed a ruinous economic blockade on the island for over 40 years. And right now, the US authorities are resisting Cuban calls for them to extradite the CIA-linked counter-revolutionary terrorist responsible for the 1976 mid-air bomb-destruction of a Cuban airliner off Barbados in which 73 people died.

State-sponsored terrorism includes the US and NATO roles in the Second Gulf War and the war against Yugoslavia. The systematic destruction of economies, the bombing of civilian targets—what were all these but terrorism carried out under a flag of war? And if terrorism is the use of force in order to impose one’s unjust demands, what should the world call the economic policies imposed on the peoples of the world by the imperialists and their lesser capitalist lackeys, policies which result in the deaths and immense miseries suffered by people across the world? To give a few examples: tuberculosis continues to be a major killer, malaria has been making a steady comeback, and all the while, in the name of cutting subsidies to make the economies better, the public health systems have been gutted.

Finally, practically all states, whether they are Pakistan, or whether they are Israel, the USA or India, have utilized non-state violent groups against neighboring states, or even in internal policies. These have in almost all cases rebounded on the original backers. The predicament of Pervez Musharraf today is no different from India’s predicament over the aid given at one stage to the LTTE for foreign policy reasons or to Bhindranwale for internal political goals.

The Appeal of Terrorism and the Marxist Opposition to Terrorism

It is still not clear who organized the terrorist operation in the US. But where would any terror organization recruit people who were so embittered and without hope of the future that they could contemplate such a pointless atrocity and be willing to sacrifice themselves to implement it? The answer is no secret.

The massive misery which Western capitalism led by the United States, the world’s only superpower has imposed on the majority of the world’s people has created the seedbed for the very terrorism which its leaders so piously condemn. Oppression breeds hatred, desperation and despair. In such a climate, when the enemy seems so powerful, carrying out suicide bombings against the population of the oppressor country can seem to some like the only option. With the defeats suffered by progressive and socialist movements from the 1980s, religious fundamentalism and terrorist politics often came to be viewed as the only likely option.

In occupied Palestine, for instance, there is apparently no shortage of young men willing to sacrifice themselves as human bombs against the Israeli population. However, apart from being morally repugnant, such indiscriminate acts are a complete political dead-end. Each suicide bomber who carries out his or her mission in an Israeli town, is actually weakening the Palestinian struggle and helping strengthen the hand of the Israeli regime and its US backers.

Such acts as indiscriminate bomb blasts, the use of suicide bombers, etc., fail in their objectives, because even when the event results in the death of a few notorious oppressors, the ruling classes find replacements, while they exploit cynically the event to draw attention away from the far greater acts of terrorism their state-sanctioned, “legitimate” violence involves. Thus, were the mass action based intifada to be replaced by such acts, the likely consequence would be the death not only of a few hated figures, but also of innocent civilians, which in turn would be powerful elements in driving the Israeli masses towards the most reactionary responses and inhibit the development of any radical opposition forces among them. In the same way, even when the terrorists are actually of Kashmiri extraction, (rather than being Pakistanis or Afghan mercenaries/ fundamentalists) their acts tend to drive, in particular, the Hindus, into the arms of the right-wing Hindu fundamentalists, and as a consequence, the secular nationalist idea of Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri nationhood) receives a jolt.

Throughout the history of the modern socialist movement, revolutionary Marxists have carried out a fierce polemic against the political strategy of “individual terrorism”; that is, the killing of hated figures of an oppressive regime. Our objection to this kind of terrorism is not only based on morality but on the grounds that it simply does not work. The ruling class can always replace individuals. This is true even of authoritarian regimes. This is therefore particularly the case in bourgeois democracies. However devoid of real popular control be a bourgeois democracy, with the great weakening of a genuine socialist democratic alternative, the popular masses tend to identify substantially with it. To carry out terrorist attacks in a bourgeois democracy creates a hostile impression in the mind of significant sections of the masses about even the best of causes.

Furthermore and most importantly, employed as a strategy, such terrorist acts actually demobilize the mass movement. Only the struggle of the masses can change society. The combat of a small band of terrorist-avengers relegates the masses to the sidelines and makes them mere spectators of a contest between the terrorists and the regime, rather than participants in their own liberation. Even morally speaking, such acts are therefore repugnant, insofar as they go against the self-emancipatory struggles.

Moreover, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon represent a completely different kind of terrorism: the wanton and indiscriminate killing of civilians is part of the methodology of imperialism and its accomplices, not of the progressive forces fighting for liberation from this inhuman system. Those who have organized these attacks are no part of any progressive anti-imperialist struggle. We differ totally from those like CPI(M) [Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Prakash Karat or others, who see in this terrorism an extreme form of anti-imperialism. In a struggle between two extreme reactionaries, both products of late capitalism, in an age of political, economic, moral degeneration of world capitalism, it is not the duty of revolutionary Marxists to choose the lesser evil between them, but to point out that the way ahead lies through fighting both of them.

It might be argued that even such terrorism is de facto anti-imperialist. This is to confuse between the objective conditions that gave rise to such political movements, and their actual character. There is a need to distinguish between the anti-Shah struggles of the Iranian masses in 1979, and the reactionary forces, led and symbolized by Khomeini, who seized the leadership of that struggle. In the same way, there is a need to distinguish between progressive struggles, even when they take recourse to terror—e.g., the IRA at various times, different national liberation movements, Maoist political currents in different countries, and clearly reactionary movements. It is easier to do so when such currents exist in imperialist countries. The experience of “Third Period” Stalinism apart, the left has tended to recognize that right wing terrorism and violence cannot be treated even as a temporary ally. The situation is more complex in non-imperialist countries, where even right-wing forces, including those using terrorism, can use anti-imperialist rhetoric. But in judging them, one has to clearly understand the relationship between such forces and the working class and other progressive forces of the countries concerned. Several of the RSS-linked outfits in India are unhappy with the Vajpayee Government’s economic policy and use anti-imperialist rhetoric. But only those who have learnt nothing from the Stalinist support to the Nazi anti-SPD referendum and more generally from Third Period Stalinist policies can conclude that in the anti-globalization struggles, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch can be an ally. This applies, with the necessary specific situation in mind, to every country. However, to oppose, or even to condemn, such right wing terrorism, is not the same as supporting imperialism, even indirectly through its most liberal or social democratic camp-followers.

Reactionary agenda of the Ruling classes

The terror bombings are being used by Bush and the US ruling class to create a more favorable political climate in which to implement their reactionary agenda. This tragedy is a heaven-sent opportunity for them and they will take it with both hands. They will push forward their arms build-up and saber-rattling foreign policy. Under the guise of “fighting terrorism”, civil liberties have begun coming under increased pressure at home, with a campaign for more police and increased police powers, and the previously growing movement against the death penalty will operate in a much less favorable environment. General Colin Powell, pushed by the bourgeois media as the smart figure in the Bush administration, has openly stated that every law in the US protecting the rights of the citizen will be reviewed. With the US demanding that the entire world should join the “war on terrorism,” demands will be made on (often perfectly willing) governments elsewhere to scrap laws protecting civil liberties. Already in India, in the name of combating Pakistan-sponsored Kashmiri terrorism, Union Home Minister L. K. Advani has urged the restoration of a TADA-like law (that is, a law which will allow the police to arrest and block bail for as long as they want, a law that will avoid the normal legal protections given to the accused, and provide for tougher punishments under procedures designed to extract confessions and disregard civil liberties). Xenophobia in the US is being strengthened; anti-Arab racism will become stronger and it will be harder to build a movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Indeed, reports suggest that this has now been deepened to become an anti-Asian prejudice. Sikhs have been attacked, and on occasion murdered, for wearing turbans and carrying kirpans (short, ceremonial knives they have to wear as part of a religious dress code) in a country where any white can virtually walk into a gun shop and walk out with a modern pistol. The fact that in self-defense Sikhs have advertised the fact that they are not Muslims, if anything, serves to legitimize (though that was “presumably” unintended on their part) attacks on Arabs and Muslims.

The heavy concentration of Arab-Americans in the Detroit-Dearborn region has come under persistent low-level harassment along with occasional cases of individuals shooting in Arab establishments, etc. Reports have come showing women from South Asia being compelled to conceal their identities by changing dresses as they are being threatened.

Revolutionary Marxists oppose any “war on terrorism”. Military attacks by the US and its imperialist allies on the alleged terrorists and/or states that allegedly harbor them will not end acts of terrorism. To the contrary, such a war will only result in more loss of innocent lives, and deepen the nationalist hatred of Americans that has provided a recruiting ground for the organizers of terrorist acts of the World Trade Center type. The fact that the Vajpayee government in India and the Israeli government have been the only two states initially willing to support this war even without the fig-leaf of a UN resolution, indicate that bin Laden and the Taliban are being used as convenient pegs for a war against Pakistan and the Palestinians.

We condemn the diplomatic and military games being played by India and Pakistan. Both sides are trying to turn the sudden intensification of US gaze near South Asia to their advantage by offering military aid to the US in return for US backing on Kashmir. The Indian government has moved diplomatically so far to the right, and is so willing to surrender its military independence in exchange for support on Kashmir, that even sections of the ruling party (BJP) have found a public disclaimer a necessary tactic, with elections coming up.

Socialists are struggling for a world that is free of violence, oppression and exploitation. This means struggling against imperialism and capitalism which is looting and destroying our planet and condemning the mass of its people to an increasingly miserable and desperate existence, and replacing it with a socialist society. The only force which can accomplish this tremendous historic task is the working class and oppressed masses of the world. Terrorism has no part in this struggle. But neither can the toiling people line-up with imperialism when, in the name of fighting terrorism, it seeks to smash all resistance to its domination, and to destroy all vestiges of civil liberties and democratic rights, thereby becoming the biggest terrorist outfit itself.

  • Condemn the terrorist attacks on ordinary people in the US unconditionally.

  • Condemn the hypocrisy of the US rulers, who themselves create terrorists and seek to terrorize all opponents.

  • Support the struggles of all peoples still fighting for national self-determination.

  • Oppose religious communalism and fundamentalism of all religions, not just one.

  • Oppose any attempt at the so-called global war on terrorism.

  • Oppose Indian involvement in any US war mongering in or near South Asia.

  • Support secular, democratic forces, not any variety of imperialist stooges, in struggles against fundamentalism.





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