“The Only position that PFP (Peace and Freedom Party) has Re Syria is that we oppose any and all US/ Nato Intervention….” So wrote a prominent member of the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) in defense of hosting Rick Sterling, representative of the pro-capitalist Syria Solidarity Movement, at a meeting. (The PFP is a small socialist electoral party in California.) This PFP member’s argument is common among many on the socialist left, so it’s useful to understand the real meaning of this argument as well as who groups like the Syria Solidarity Movement (SSM) and people like Rick Sterling are and what connections they have.
Syria Solidarity Steering Committee
On the SSM steering committee is Susan Dirgham, who in turn is linked with the Catholic fundamentalist Mother Agnes Mariam. There is Eva Bartlett, open mouthpiece for the reactionary, chauvinist Putin regime and a proven liar.There is Paul Larudee, former executive of the pro-capitalist Ford Foundation*. There is Sarah Flounders of the International Action Center (IAC) and United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) – both of which are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Workers World Party. In 2014, the IAC and UNAC participated in a conference in Russia organized by the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, which is a fascist-linked group if it is not outright fascist itself. Several European fascist groups were there as well as the racist and fascist US “Confederate League of the South.” UNAC and IAC had no problem meeting with them and returned with glowing reports on the conference. And SSM has no problem having their representative on their steering committee.
As for Rick Sterling as an individual, among other things, he is a regular contributor to “TheDuran.com”. This is an openly pro-Putin web site that supports Putin’s links with the racist, chauvinist Marine Le Pen in France. One article, written by a representative of the Putin regime, assures Israel that they and the Russian regime “are friends”. They also carry articles giving political cover to Trump! It’s just the same as UNAC/IAC participation in that fascist-linked conference, and Sterling has no problems associating with these types either. A visit to Sterling’s Facebook page makes clear that he, too, is a supporter of the repressive, chauvinist, neoliberal capitalist Putin regime.
And socialists have no problem giving the podium to this man!
SSM, TheDuran and Sterling, personally, deny the fact of crimes against humanity by Putin, Assad, Rouhani and Hezbollah. They use the same methods as the Holocaust deniers, who use denialism to defend the indefensible.
“Opposing” US imperialism in abstract; supporting in concrete
All this is justified in the name of opposition to US imperialism. Yet Sterling and the SSM have been totally silent about the Trump administration’s recent bombing of a mosque in Syria which killed over 40 men, women and children. Why the silence? Because the US is now openly allied with the Putin and Assad regimes and is doing exactly what they’ve been doing for years. Some opposition to US imperialism!
This bombing is simply a further extension of the previous position of US imperialism. For example, under Obama, the US government, operating through the Military Operations Command (MOC) in Jordan, prohibited the Southern Command of the Free Syrian Army from attacking Assad’s forces. As the article linked to here makes clear, the reason is that they now see Assad as the best guarantor of capitalist stability in Syria.
Socialists Giving Up on Working Class; Relying on Capitalists
Much of the socialist left is fond of quoting some of Lenin (out of context) while forgetting another comment of his: “Facts are stubborn things.They don’t go away.” They ignore – or, even worse, cover up – the basic facts of what has happened and is happening in Syria. What are the forces at work there? In fact, what is even happening there? They feel there is no need to know about or have a view on this. They’ve forgotten the first and most basic rule for the workers’ movement, never mind for socialists: “What is in the interests of the working class? What helps strengthen our class? What helps clarify the historic role of our class?” They no longer see the working class as the subject rather than the object of history. As a result, they desperately cast about for some capitalist alternative to US imperialism, in this case supporting Russian, Iranian and Syrian capitalism/imperialism instead.
On this basis, they will never build a base among workers in the United States.
- – Since we wrote this we have been corrected. Paul Larudee is a former “project supervisor” not an executive of the Ford Foundation. He also lists himself as a “former US government advisor to Saudi Arabia.”