Chechnya - a far off country

Russell Grinker grinker at
Sat Nov 6 02:37:03 PST 1999

>I thought you had criticised the call by Blade Nzimande for action to
>support the people of East Timor, or associated yourself with that
>position. Certainly your current position seems consistent with that view.
>(see your post of 9 Sept below)
I believe I was talking about the uses of international sanctions which I oppose and don't believe ever liberated anyone. I'm sure you know that there is a long tradition on this issue dating back to Trotsky on Abbysinia. I don't think there's any point rehashing this here.
>This is muddling up two things. No one on this list is arguing for carte
>blanche for the west to interfere anywhere.

So please tell me how, once you've hitched yourself to the big power bandwagon, you get them to follow your line? E.g. what, impact are critics of the current Kosovo occupation force having on Western actions there (of course I believe we must protest at what's happening there)? This is another case where left demands were very useful in helping justify the Blair-Clinton moral crusade against the Serbs - but who listens to these people now?

I think it's ultimately a question of what social force you see bringing about any kind of progress in the world today. You seem to think you can use the big powers and their UN (or have to), in the absence of any other self-conscious social force. For me that boils down to being driven by moral indignation - the "something must be done" approach. Face it - given the current international balance of forces, there are unfortunately many situations where we cannot do anything.

But how can you justify the
>statement that the west had no positive role to play in East Timor? Noam
>Chomsky, (with the support of the moderator of the marxism list at
> called on the president of the USA to impose economic sanctions;
>the IMF obliged,

Surely you're joking? Since when did Chomsky or anyone on the left have such powers? The real problem with the left's whinges that "something had to be done" is that the occupying (peacekeeping) force in Timor can do what it likes but with the added advantage of character references from "progressive" forces.

>The concept of the "lapsed left" makes left wing politics sound a sort of
>sectarian identity parade: it does not matter how ineffectual your stance
>so long as it is pure and you can identify the one in a hundred people who
>are special like you and different from all the rest.

Lets get real. I have been involved in one way or another here and in the UK since the early '70s. I know that there is a significant difference between the political movement then (warts and all) and what's left today (a collection of quirky sects). There is effectively no self-conscious working class movement around and that's the reality we need to start with.
>IMO this is not a marxist position. The Communist Manifesto argued of
>Communists "They have no interests separate and apart from those of the
>proletariat as a whole. They do not seek to set up any sectarian principles
>of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement." But
>you do not necessarily appear to be interested in moulding anything, except
>to remain pure while massive national oppression occurs.
Sure I'm interested but where's your raw material? If something is to be done today we need to be realistic about an appropriate space to intervene and not live in the past. Joining the new missionaries on the humanitarian wing of imperialism is no answer.


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list