[Debate] Anti-Anti-Imperialism as Ideology on the Left (was Russia, China Veto Western-backed Syria Resolution at UN Security Council)
devanp52 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 21 16:08:36 BST 2012
Oh, by the way, on Emir Sader.......
He is loved by the SACP because be bashes NGOs as "pro-imperialist", which
may be true in the Latin American context - but he does seem more
interested in defending "left" governments than supporting peoples
struggles that may or may not be supporting by NGOs - e.g the struggles of
native american peoples against the encroachments of "development" (read
the brutal dispossession of their land and livelihood)...
In SA the SACP uses Sader to denounce NGOs fighting against government
corruption and incompetence, and attempts to muzzle freedom of expression
and silence the courts...... on the surface the ANC-SACP government looks
"left", but on the ground the working class and poor are still suffering
hile the elites get fatter......
So - are such NGOs "imperialist" agents, Yoshie.....? Does an
"anti-imperialist" stance mean denouncing any mobilisation against
ostensibly "left" governments?
Are we for the people, or against (is what it ultimately boils down to).....
On Sat, Jul 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM, Devan Pillay <devanp52 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Mmmm, interesting points Yoshie - almost made me want to denounce my
> alleged "anti-anti-imperialism"...... ;-)
> Have not been following Debate much recently (trying to finish my book),
> and wanting to avoid Syria as I predicted it would be the same discussion
> as Libya - and when I did catch up, lo and behold, all positions exactly
> alike. Well, thats consistency I suppose..... but a bit sad really, as
> "debate" should be about listening and being convinced by some points and
> not others etc of what others say- not all standing firmly in one place and
> shouting at each other......
> I was particularly disappointed to see that PeterW, whom I generally agree
> with, wanting Yoshie off the list. I thought she did something heinous, or
> Tweedie-like, but found nothing.... Peter, Yoshie if anything at least
> should make us pause and think: after all, we should be all on the same
> side I would have thought, and none have a monopoly of Truth.....
> Some observations:
> 1. Having stopped watching TV for the past few months, I must say that I
> feel I can hear Yoshie better. TV images of carnage and slaughter by
> Syrian forces certainly stoke feelings of outrage etc - but we must be
> careful of how manipulated, and selective, they are. Now that Qatar has
> become an interested party in Mid-East conflicts since Libya, even
> Al-Jazeera is guilty of this......
> 2. I can now appreciate Yoshie's 'middle position' better - neither the
> regime nor the rightwing opposition. We should be painfully aware what the
> fundamentalists brought to Iran after the Shah was ousted, killing off the
> Left (mmm, Yoshie where are you on this?), and the Syrian opposition, more
> than any of the other conflicts, *seems* dominated by rightwing forces (if
> Yoshie is right).
> 3. But saying "negotiation" when the regime is murderous does legitimately
> invite sceptism, Yoshie......Would you have advanced this position vis a
> vis the Shah in the late 1970s, to prevent the anti-Left fundamentalists
> taking over? Had the Left known how treacherous the fundamentalists would
> be - should they have refused to forge an alliance with them against a
> common enemy, or was it necessary as it was "anti-imperialist" (ie
> anti-USA)? mmmmm.....
> 3. The problem with one-dimensional "anti-imperialism" is that it washes
> over everything - as long as you're anti-USA, then all is forgiven, it
> seems (in effect - if not always in word). I prefer a CLASS and DEMOCRATIC
> approach: who is the Oppressor, and who are the Oppressed? If the
> oppressor shouts anti-imperialism, do I back him, no matter how brutal, as
> long as he is against the USA? What if the USA, for opportunistic reasons,
> supports the Oppressed (like belatedly during the anti-apartheid struggle;
> or against the Nazis). Do I in principle adopt an anti-USA position?
> 4. Surely, a better stance for the Left is not one-dimensional
> "anti-imperialism", but anti-capitalism, and anti-domination (in all its
> forms - including of the natural environment). Such an approach provides a
> range of flexible options: who stands in the way of social progress, and
> who helps open up possibilities of something new - as risky as such a road
> may be? Tricky, messy and not as clear-cut as "anti-imperialism" yes - but
> sometimes its all we have.....
> 5. So: "anti-imperialism" is of course a legitimate and necessary stance
> of the Left. But we must have a nuanced understanding of what
> "imperialism" is (for me it is not simplistically the USA - but rather
> global capitalism and its relentless search for profits, through
> accumulation by dispossession - whether by US TNCs , Indian TNCs or Chinese
> TNCs trying to recolonise Africa, for example - aided by their respective
> governments. The USA may be dominant - but its not alone as an imperialist
> 6. And anti-imperialism must be thoroughly infused with a class and
> democratic (ie pro-people) approach.... I, for one, reject the
> "anti-anti-imperialist" label, even if it is generously said not to be
> "pro-imperialist", because, like most labels, it obscures rather than
> In other words, lets keep debating the issues, and avoid the labels.....
> On Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi <
> critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
>> The reason why I say anti-anti-imperialists are a distinct category,
>> _not at all_ identical to pro-imperialists, is that they remain on the
>> Left, unlike Fred Halliday, Norman Geras, Christopher Hitchens, et al.
>> who publicly broke with the Left by developing their arguments to
>> their logical conclusions. Anti-anti-imperialism is not a slippery
>> slope either. There are those who doggedly remain in this
>> intermediate position forever, as Emir Sader noted: "Some of them
>> remain on the Left, in its most moderate corner, denouncing, in a
>> strongly anti-left tone, what's not 'democratic' in the currents of
>> the Left itself. They are loud advocates of alliances with centrist
>> and even right-wing currents, and they tend to dilute the distinction
>> between Left and Right" (@
>> Leftists who are anti-anti-imperialists invariably present themselves
>> as more moral and, as Sader noted, more democratic than other leftists
>> and denounce us as immoral for not supporting "humanitarian"
>> imperialist interventions and as anti-democratic for not supporting
>> right-wing rebels who style themselves as "democrats" and even
>> "revolutionaries." That self-representation is dubious. They do not
>> take a consistent humanitarian position, so, e.g., the plight of
>> people in Libya before the intervention was a big deal, but their
>> plight after that is no big deal, either ignored or rationalized.
>> Ditto for democracy. In the age of post-socialism "democracy" is the
>> last legitimating ideal, so just about everyone from left to right --
>> even much of the hard religious Right such as veterans of the
>> anticommunist jihad in Afghanistan -- says he is for it and deploys
>> the rhetoric of democracy, but that doesn't mean that what everyone
>> does advances democratization of the state and society. The Left
>> therefore needs to clarify who is actually for democracy and who is
>> against it even as he speaks in favor of it, but
>> anti-anti-imperialists, "loud advocates of alliances with centrist and
>> even right-wing currents," "tend to dilute the distinction" between
>> democrats and anti-democrats, to paraphrase Sader.
>> Anti-anti-imperialists, a small current on the Left worldwide, don't
>> really make a difference in whether and how imperialists make their
>> interventions. (The Left in general unfortunately doesn't in most
>> countries, especially ones that are crucial now like the USA and West
>> Asian and North African countries. Public opinion worldwide is
>> clearly with anti-imperialists when it comes to the imperialist
>> interventions in Libya and Syria and others like them, but public
>> opinion matters relatively little in economic sanctions, weapons
>> supply to proxy forces, and cheap wars conducted by airstrikes on
>> their behalf.) But what they say and do does have a negative impact
>> on the political culture of the Left by muddying the water through
>> their persistent advocacy for left-right convergences when it comes to
>> foreign policy.
>> Anti-anti-imperialists also do another disservice to the Left:
>> misrepresenting imperialism and anti-imperialism.
>> How do they misrepresent anti-imperialism? E.g., their favorite
>> charge against anti-imperialists is that anti-imperialists take the
>> position of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." False. (No one
>> said, e.g., that Manuel Noriega is a friend of the Left, but all
>> anti-imperialists opposed Operation Just Cause regardless.) Not only
>> is it false but it is in fact a projection. It is
>> anti-anti-imperialists who say that we all must support all rebels
>> (not just left-wing rebels) against formerly left-populist regimes, no
>> matter how right-wing the rebels in question are, which in effect
>> means treating "the enemy" (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood) of their
>> "enemy" (e.g. Baath) as their "friend."
>> Just as anti-anti-imperialists misrepresent anti-imperialism, they
>> also misrepresent imperialism. Most commonly, misrepresentation of
>> imperialism is done through false analogies, especially analogizing
>> imperialism of the present with imperialism of the past, when there
>> was rivalry among imperialist powers that could and did lead to
>> inter-imperialist wars. Even as anti-anti-imperialists usually
>> present themselves as anti-Stalinists, they all too commonly evoke the
>> image of the Popular Front -- very Stalinist! -- as a legitimating
>> precedent for what they advocate. It's the Spanish Civil War again
>> and again!
>> Now, if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it. Since you put your own
>> support for the intervention in Libya in the past not present tense,
>> in your case, all that happened must have been a glitch in intel
>> collection regarding what was going on.
>> On Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 2:53 AM, Neville Adams <nada01 at claranet.co.uk>
>> > You've created this NHI label and convenient definition - of which, no
>> > doubt, you appear to be very proud - and under which you've
>> > categorised all those on the debate list who supported intervention in
>> > Libya. Other people can speak for themselves, but I don't recognise my
>> > position in that definition. To cap it you've also gone further to
>> > stereotype this as an 'anti-anti-imperialist' outlook, i.e. a
>> > pro-imperialist one. What arrant nonsense.
>> Yoshie Furuhashi
>> Debate-list mailing list
>> Debate-list at fahamu.org
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