Saturday, December 12, 2015


...even I-- cynical, jaded me-- can't believe what I read.   Like what I read some days ago on Louis Proyect's Marxmail assisted living center chat-room for ex- and current Trotskyists of some sort, so-called socialists, Syriza,  I mean Podemos, I mean Corbyn supporters and the like.  Like this gem from a list participant on December 4: 

Why doesn't the U.S. military bomb the power stations and sanitation systems in Raqqa (the ISIS capital) and make life miserable there? By making life unbearable in the ISIS capital, the civilians would have no choice but to flee, and the terrorists would lose their main selling point: That they can sustain a viable state and orderly rule. The US bombed the heck out of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Why not make life under ISIS a hellish nightmare so people think twice before declaring allegiance to a rubble caliphate? Our answer might be civilian causalities but I don't think that is their reason.
Nice, huh?  Bomb the power stations and sanitation facilities of Raqqa so the population can live in hell, as opposed to now under the caliphate, when they are living oh so comfortably, hell being living in darkness with no sanitation facilities. 

We all know what high military value targets supplies of safe drinking water are, right?  Particularly us Marxists, because material conditions determine consciousness, and nothing says revolution like dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever.

[Edit]See this-- the 'I wonder why....?'-- is supposed to pass as simple curiosity; never, never should such disinterested questioning be confused with advocacy.  Here's the what passes for logic:  "When imperial powers are really really really opposed to something, they bomb the fuck out of it.  They lay waste to civilian populations.  They discriminate targets in such a way that the results of the attack on those targets are indiscriminate.  If the US, UK, France etc. were really really really opposed to ISIS or whatever manifestation the results of the defeat of social revolution in Syria, or Iraq now assumes, they would rain down fire and brimstone indiscriminately.  Therefore, the US, UK, France etc. are not really really really opposed to ISIS, or Assad. BTW, not that I advocate such a thing... just wonderin'."

[Edit] The road to hell is paved with such speculation......and attacks on sanitation facilities.  This has to be one of the few times that the failure to pursue a policy of war crimes is presented as a criticism of imperial intention; as a sign of vacillation, ambivalence, duplicity. ' You're not sincere enough, you imperialist motherfuckers' is the implicit content of such an "argument."

Well, let's assure our wonderin' Marxmailer that a) they, the US, the UK, France et al aren't done yet not even close  b) you can count on attacks that are indiscriminate in their repercussions increasing if such a thing is even physically possible in Syria, and given the amount of firepower being deployed, it's more than possible.

So if sincerity is your issue, if you're afraid of non-commitment, don't worry, there's a cure for that.

The response to this speculation by a list participant from the list owner, from Mr. Louis Limbo (How Low Can You Go?) Profit  Proyect?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

From the other participants on Proyect's self-center for assisted living? Musings about the "strategic" value of such bombing?  Sure thing.

Outrage that the ghosts of Robert McNamara and LBJ were speculating on a "Marxist" chat list?  Not so much.  Only one person, an individual of considerable integrity who, back in the day, and in public, identified the former Illinois state's attorney for Cook County, Edward V. Hanrahan,   as a murderer deserving of imprisonment, spoke out and against the suggested "strategy" as a war crime. 

Only that one, who wrote:  
Bombing civilian infrastructure is a war crime. This is why Bush and Cheney should be serving life sentences.
All the others?  All those so busy with projects like the Marxist Internet Archive? No sir.  Or Socialist Action?  No ma'am.  Or various historical projects on Stalinism, fascism, etc. etc.  Nope.  Nada.  Zilch.  Nothing.  Which says everything about who they really are and what they offer the prospects for emancipation.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.

But it gets even better or worse because today, Limbo Louie Louie writes: 
So where is the outcry? When Gaza's water treatment plant was bombed, it became a cause celebre but it barely registers when it is being done by the Russians in the name of fighting terrorism. In both Gaza and Aleppo, you hear the same filthy excuses for state terrorism but it gets different responses. What a fucked up left we have today when people like Patrick Cockburn, Tariq Ali and Slavoj Zizek can shrug their shoulders about Russian mass murder. 

Priceless, no?  Someone suggests that bombing sanitation plants in Raqqa is a measure of sincerity and commitment and Little Limbo Louie Louie shrugs his shoulders.

Russian military forces commit the exact same act,  and it's an outrage.  Because... because why?  Because it registers just how sincere, committed Russia is in defense of its cohort. 

[Edit]But of course, all this, all that, all the crap is the death agony of anti-imperialism.  We have those defending Assad because, after all US imperialism is the main enemy; we have those arguing that freedom fighters in Syria have the "right" to obtain weapons from any source whatsoever, including the US because, after all
a) didn't Lenin say so 
b) didn't Ho Chi Minh accept weapons and supplies from the US in WW2
c)didn't Trotsky say that if Britain invaded Vargas' Brazil, "we" would defend Vargas, because Brazil was a colonized country? 
d)didn't somebody say that if dock workers in Germany or somewhere were leading a general strike during WW1 and the Kaiser was shipping arms to the Irish republicans, the workers should suspend their strike to allow the loading and departure of that ship?

Yes indeed, all those things have been said and all those things are shite:
a) Lenin was wrong
b) Sure thing, and look how well that worked out for the Vietnamese workers in 1945. 
c) Actually Brazil was a colonized area that, for a time, became the seat of an empire; maintained slavery until the end of the 19th century, and if Britain invaded Brazil in the 1930s, the economic determinants of such an invasion were the conditions of international capitalism. "Poor, little Brazil" existed only in the imagination of the 3rd and 4th Internationals.  Effective opposition to such an invasion requires opposition to Brazil functioning in that network of capitalism, to a Vargas.  How do we know?  Look at the war in the Malvinas.  Look at the Paris Commune. Opposition always means opposition to the bourgeoisie  and their agents at home .
d)Wrong again, much more important for the dock workers to maintain the strike against their government, against the war precipitated by capitalism.  How do we know? See (b) above.  Exactly how do you think those weapons are going to wind up being used?  By whom, against whom? what we had in Syria is the stirring of a social revolution precipitated by the breakdown in the mechanisms of accumulation that have raced through the Middle East and Maghreb since 2008.  We have had the massive retaliatory response of the Assad regime, committed to preserving itself, and its control of accumulation.  We have had the disruption of the revolutionary development of the struggle in Syria by this massive retaliation, and into that vacancy, reaction has flooded. 

That anyone thinks Russia on one side, or weapons from the US or any other power can accomplish anything other than what has already been accomplished, decapitation of the revolutionary struggle, is a measure of sincerity all right, the commitment to counterrevolution that informs the left.

Indeed, what a fucked-up left we have today when people like Louis Proyect are not only not shunned, but fit right in.

S. Artesian
December 12, 2015

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