Middle East

Putin, Assad and the Syrian Disaster

Introduction

We have to combine the drive to “do something”, the drive to change the world, with an equal drive to understand the world. Otherwise, we just end up running up one blind alley after another.

During the 1930s and onward, Stalinism came to dominate the socialist movement. That was inevitable, given the bureaucratic domination of the Soviet Union, as represented by Stalin. Not only did Stalinism dominate the socialist movement organizationally, it also did so politically; it was responsible for a total perversion of the ideas of revolutionary socialism, of Marxism. It was left to Trotsky and a small group around him to fight for the real ideas of Marxism. Although they remained in a small minority, the task of continuing the real traditions of Marxism for future generations to learn from and utilize was a vital one.

Today, despite the fact that the bureaucracy upon which Stalinism was based is gone, many of the basic ideas of Stalinism still remain and are influential. As we explain in this pamphlet, they have become just as pervasive but even more damaging. Even many of those who consider themselves to be supporters of the ideas of Trotsky have been influenced by these false methods. For example, they (maybe unconsciously) discount the very idea that there is a class struggle in Syria, and that our task is to support the working class – international working class solidarity, in other words.

This situation may continue for some time, and might get even worse. It is very possible that it will take giant and even stunning events to shake up and transform it. But exactly such shocks are inherent in the present world situation.

Meanwhile, we can – we must – continue to struggle to apply the Marxist method to the present crisis – a crisis not only in capitalism but in the socialist movement. That method starts with struggling to understand the nature of this situation and how we got here, based on understanding actual concrete events.

We hope that this pamphlet makes a contribution to that task.

We also hope that this pamphlet can help the movement take a practical first step: In the context of the attacks on immigrant rights, we should be fighting for the US to admit the Syrians who are refugees from the brutal attacks of Assad and company, as well as from the attacks of the Islamic fundamentalists.

The “Holy Alliance” then and now

In September of 1814, the monarchist powers of Russia, Prussia and Austria met to draw up a plan to contain the spread of “liberalism” and revolution in Europe. It was called the “Holy Alliance”. Two hundred years later, (May, 2014) the Putin regime called a conference explicitly for similar goals. All the far right forces of Europe gathered to discuss, among other things, how to “save Europe from liberalism and the ‘satanic’ gay lobby.”1 This was followed by more public conferences, including one organized by the Center for National Glory of Russia that included the World Council of Families, a “family values” group.

Just as with the “Holy Alliance”, a new force is being organized to halt and reverse the spread of secular and liberal ideas. The difference is that the Holy Alliance was aimed at halting the spread of anti-feudal ideas that were the ideological basis for the conquest of capitalism over feudalism. The present “holy alliance” – led by Putin just as the Russian Tsar led the previous one – is aimed at furthering the interests of Russian capitalism/imperialism, again through the spread of the most reactionary ideas – racism, religious bigotry, and chauvinism.

How did we get from the Russian Revolution to here, and where is it headed? And why is it that a wide layer of the “left” has found itself on the same side as this new holy alliance on some key issues?

Today, when the present US president is (rightly) accused of the closest ties to the Russian mafia2, and when tensions increase between US and Russian imperialism, and when both forces are involved in a war aimed at propping up a brutal dictator – Assad… Today those questions are more important than ever.

 

Read entire pamphlet here:Putin, Assad and the Syrian Disaster

1Shekhovtsov, Anton, “Russia and the Western Far Right”, p. 199.

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