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First Worldist “left” hacks the 2016 US Presidential Election for Donald J. Trump

First Worldist “Left” hacks US presidential election for Donald J. Trump

by Jacob Brown

(llco.org)

How the First Worldist “left” united with Obama-Clinton regime to bring Trump to power:

One of the more blatantly reactionary examples of pseudo-feminists in action.

With the current “#J20” US Inauguration Day protests against Donald J. Trump, a First Worldist pseudo-feminism is presenting itself as the protests’ main ideological engine, and allowing the CIA, anti-Russian narrative pushed by the US imperialist Democratic Party to buttress questions of “illegitimacy”. (1, 2)  Of course, the purported protection of the reproductive health choices of First World women, while signing onto rhetoric about the supposed necessity of US Marines to help “fight for the global sisterhood” in the Third World has rendered itself hollow to the world’s masses after 15 years of the imperialist “War on Terror”.  Imperialist patriarchy packaged as liberation has produced the worst of both patriarchal worlds for the majority of Third World women, both with the proliferation of misogynistic Western gender culture and with its mirror opposite of imposition of traditional patriarchal gender roles and gender apartheid. It would appear that a repeat of the 2006 US International Women’s Day protests is upon us on “J20”. The 2006 IWD protests saw alleged “communists” marching with the likes of Zionist “feminist” Phyllis Chesler to denounce the Iranian state while NATO troops were imposing imperialist patriarchy in Afghanistan and Iraq. (3) With the current rhetoric being used by First Worldist activists who take their cues from the CIA and Democratic Party, perhaps Russia is the next target for “regime change”. The utilization of “Cold War” militarist rhetoric and pseudo-feminism by the imperialists are but only two dimensions of what these kinds of imperialist politics produces in the real world.

The 2011 Wisconsin protests injected First Worldist economism into the “Arab Spring” as it was beginning in Egypt, following the demonstrations in Tunisia. An example of this includes the infamous photo depicting the false statement “One World, One Pain.” (4) Pretending that the First World majority populations were a natural friend of the Third World had its genesis in this First Worldist fallacy. When the “Arab Spring” found its way into Libya just one month later, this First World “solidarity” was extended to mean NATO providing a free air force for anti-Qaddafi neocolonialist Jihadists. The fall of the Jamahiriya in Libya gave both a material and morale boost to NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which would fuel the “pipeline wars” in Syria for the next 5 years. (5)  “Occupy Wall St.”, and the First Worldist networks that followed it, were advancing First Worldist populism with a vengeance. They continued the social-chauvinist thrust of the Wisconsin protests with anti-imperialist politics given less priority or mostly silenced altogether. A kind of false internationalism was supposedly bringing together social-democrats, anarchists, “left communists”, Maoists, Trotskyists, environmentalists, the EZLN, the social-imperialist parties in Greece, and various “rebels” associated with the US-backed Muslim Brotherhood, based on a rather nebulous idea about “tears in the fabric of history”. (6) These First Worldists, so enthusiastic for the “Arab Spring” in Egypt, were silent on the 2013 mass revolt that overthrew the US-backed stooge Mohammed Morsi (7), with numbers that dwarfed the Tahir Square protests by a factor of 7. (8)

If any population within First World borders was sharing “one pain” with Egyptian masses in either the 2011 or 2013 protests, it would have been the migrants who participated in the May 1, 2006 “Day Without An Immigrant” strike. (9) However, many of those migrants ended up getting deported by the Bush administration in the millions, and by the Obama administration by even greater numbers. First Worldists missed the mark on that issue as well, because too many of them were putting all their energy into pseudo-feminist posturing in tandem with the US State Department and the Zionist entity just 2 months before, or otherwise complaining about the presence of Mexican flags as “nationalist” and “divisive”!

The imperialist pseudo-feminism we saw deployed against Iran in 2006 was also utilized in Libya in 2011, with bogus reports of “Viagra-fueled mass-rapes” advanced by Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton. (10)  Of course, no evidence exists to support such claims, but there is ample evidence and testimony of sub-Saharan migrant African women being kidnapped and raped by the very “Libyan Revolutionaries” hailed as anti-patriarchal heroes in the West. (11) In addition to the pseudo-feminist propaganda track in the prelude to the NATO/GCC aggression against Libya, we had a First Worldist “false nationalism” coming from neocolonialist Libyan exiles that was selectively applied in an attempt to silence any non-Libyan supporter of the Jamahiriya with a potent voice. The “authentic voice of the subaltern” was used to justify NATO’s neocolonialist false “liberation narrative” (12), where juxtapositions such as “Muammar Qaddafi = Bad Dictator / Mahatma Gandhi = Good Liberator” were passing for a theoretically solid approach. (13)  Adding the false narrative of the “impending massacre of Benghazi’s population”, and the list of phony justifications for NATO intervention start to gain support in the realm of First World public opinion.

Matthew VanDyke, the American “Freedom Fighter” mercenary in Sirte during the NATO “revolution” Libya  in , would ask the various manifestations of “Occupy” in the First World for donations to continue his imperialist activity in Syria on the side of the neocolonialist “Free Syrian Army”.  He still breathes in 2017.

As the calls for NATO/GCC/Turkish intervention in Syria were increased, the pseudo-feminist angle was used to less of a degree, with some bogus propaganda about “regime rape rooms” being recycled from the last imperialist adventure in Libya. This time however, the false nationalist narrative was more heavily relied upon. The narrative spinning involved equating the imperialist-backed Muslim Brotherhood in Syria with the legitimate indigenous and African anti-colonial struggles (14), or variably by tokenizing Kurdistan liberation forces as a “Third Camp” (15). It is curious that the loudest voices claiming that the Kurdistan liberation forces were on a “long march to Damascus” to topple the Assad regime were doing so in tandem with the US State Department rhetoric about how “Assad must go”, not unlike what transpired in 2006 with the anti-Iran protests.

To understand why purportedly “anti-war” activist scenes around the First World gave space for neocolonialist identity politics to sell the NATO “revolution” in Libya and ramp up the call for NATO intervention in Syria, we can look at the populist and “critical race theory” trends coming into conflict with each other within formations like Occupy. The deliberate First Worldist populism mostly driving the message of Occupy was bound to come into conflict with other forces in and around the Occupy movement calling for decolonization, the politics of which is inherently at odds with the mantra of “We Are The 99% [of the First World]”, regardless if the particular decolonization politics presented is Leninist, anarchist, bourgeois liberal, or something else purportedly “beyond labels” in content. (16) As the “decolonize” rhetoric in the First World activist circles began to congeal, the populist politics of Occupy waned and ended with the Occupy brand itself becoming defunct. The people involved put away their Guy Fawkes masks and copies of Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals”, and started to pick up art and/or poetry and Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” instead (often to the exclusion of other anti-colonial classics). It became easy for these “radical” First World protest scenes to tokenize pro-Muslim Brotherhood migrants from Palestine, Egypt, and Syria, and accept their neocolonial bogus “decolonial” narratives with unquestioning submission, in tandem with US imperialist “regime change” objectives.

With the uptick of police and paramilitary terrorism against the African diaspora in the United States between 2012-2016, alongside the already existing criminalization of generations of Black youth by the state, the First Worldist activist void left by Occupy was filled with the “Black Lives Matter” network.  This network came together at the same time rebellions were picking up in US cities affected by high profile incidents of police terror like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland. Many well meaning veterans of the anti-colonialist movements within the United States had mistakenly believed the myth that the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s was coming back. (17)  As the Democratic Party’s presidential primary elections approached, the original militant anti-colonial thrust of those involved with the Black Lives Matter network was being put on hold in exchange for engaging with Democratic Party candidates over reformist policy issues, and a First Worldist confining of the issue of reparations to the African diaspora within the United States exclusively. (18)   It did not matter what any “official” BLM statement said at that point about refraining from electoral politics, as the horizons of BLM at that point had been limited by both reformist illusions and First Worldist chauvinism. This had practical implications as well, with the noticeable rift causing some around the BLM network to initiate an armed struggle without the material support of a large portion of the network busy with reformist politics.

An example of some weenie First Worldist “communist”  hack that helped pave the way for Trump, like the pseudo-feminist hacks pictured above.

At the same time that BLM was proliferating around the United States, nominally “communist” First Worldist forces were politically capitalizing on conceptions of group identity embraced by the increasingly college student base of the BLM network, smashing several layers of formal and informal First Worldist male dominated leftist groups in the United States and England in sometimes quite public ruptures. However, breaking the hegemony of historical oppressor groups over First Worldist formations did nothing to break the hegemony of First Worldism and social-imperialism in their general orientation. Indeed, even purported “Third Worldist” formations in the First World managed to sneak First Worldism through the back door by denying that most First World women and non-men constitute an enemy gender aristocracy (but use the opposite logic to justify the idea of a labor aristocracy!). (19) In all cases, the results of these social-chauvinist “communist” forces whether they consciously knew it or not, was to slow the progress of building New Power and preparing for Global People’s War. This is even the case when “Global People’s War” or “Third Worldism” is mentioned by these posturing First Worldists, as their penchant for bourgeois identity politics, navel-gazing, and tokenization betrays their true nature.

A parallel First World decolonization movement drawn from indigenous peoples in North America had emerged to confront domestic oil drilling and pipeline construction on indigenous lands. The relatively smaller population size of the indigenous internal colonies (20, 21) in comparison to the African diaspora in the US made for some interesting contrasts in political trajectory. This smaller sized force of mostly indigenous peoples consciously struggle for decolonization before it was trendy in activist circles, to emphasize the preservation of culture in opposition to Euro-American settler-colonialism.  The element of cultural preservation is more pronounced than other historical internal colonies in the US.  How this has played out on the ground, from “Idle No More” to the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline blockades has been almost the mirror opposite of the trajectory of BLM. Unlike the social movement network that originated with BLM, the indigenous protests tended to start out essentially with reformist politics and liberal, settler-imperialist boot-licking, and then more militant and uncompromising anti-colonial Native forces followed and increased the militancy (and may continue to do so, winter weather permitting, as of the time of this article’s publishing). It is not clear with a Trump administration allied with the non-Rockefeller wing of the US oil industry (inclined towards domestic oil drilling / piping in the US) (22), and with those identifying as indigenous people in North America at less than 5% of the total US and Canadian population, that anything besides Global People’s War will be able to stop any new settler-colonial “domestic drilling” agenda under the new regime. At the very least, the Native Warriors at Standing Rock have found themselves outside the capacity for First Worldist “Marxists” or the US Democratic party to co-opt them at this time. However, it isn’t likely that these social-imperialists will give up trying to do so, as their public fawning over US military veterans as some kind of “anti-colonial force” to oppose DAPL attests to. (23)

In 2006, the USA was at the lowest point in global public opinion it had been in decades. (24) There was no Leading Light Communism as an independent system operating in the world at that time. If there were, there may have been a basis to “globalize” the anti-imperialist left under Leading Light Communist leadership. Instead, genuine imperialists were stuck with a dogmatic ideological framework that prevented them from “thinking and acting globally”. Rather, many genuine anti-imperialists and friends of the Third World never escaped the left-liberal horizon of “think globally, act locally” for many years.  Only Leading Light Communism provides any real basis for genuine communist politics independent from First Worldist chauvinism promoted by “mainstream” social-imperialist political parties in the First World, and neocolonialist parties selling First Worldist fantasies to the masses of people in the Third World. The First Worldist “left” offers sometimes-true promises to First World bourgeois majority for more imperialist loot, and always-false promises to the world’s majority in the Third World of attaining First World status by adopting imperialist maldevelopment programs. What these First Worldists of all stripes like to ignore is that such false “proletarian internationalism” actually serves to corral people into pro-imperialist politics. This by default includes electing imperialist politicians for US president, despite any pretense by First Worldist “communists” of opposing electoral politics in principle! When First Worldist “communists” confine their notion of “mass line” to First World peoples exclusively, they are forced to essentially come to a synthesis with social-imperialist electoral politics, regardless of their stated inclinations towards some fantasy of “preparing the masses People’s War” in the First World.

The US social-patriot Michael Moore saw all this coming. (25) The white populist movement that started in 2010 as the “Tea Party” politically evolved into the anti-migrant and economic protectionist force that was to be the social base for Trump’s electoral victory, which Trump’s strategic adviser Steve Bannon coined as the “Alt-Right”. Traditional anti-labor, plus free trade conservative politics was turned on its head with Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP during the Republican presidential primaries, with Donald Trump himself calling for the Republican Party to become an “American Workers Party”. (26)  The identity-based political patchwork combined with the cynical “middle class centrism” that the likes of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair has used to great effect in First World since the fall of the Soviet Union politics were utilized by the Hillary Clinton campaign.  However, the old Democratic Party electoral strategy could not stop Donald Trump’s campaign in a contest for US electoral votes. Along with Michael Moore, surrogates of the US Democratic Party like Van Jones, most of Hollywood, and even Barack Obama himself could not make the liberal politics of the past 25 years work for Hillary Clinton. As Donald Trump himself said many years ago in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he would only run for president if he thought he could win. (27) Well, the First Worldist “left” set up this whole scenario for Trump to achieve electoral victory.

Without a doubt, the First Worldist “left” worked with Barack Obama and the Democrats to hack the election for Donald J. Trump. It is the nature of their politics, as they have been social-imperialist “hacks” for over a period of 15 years with zero credibility, even amongst their own bourgeois First World social base! The First World “masses” prefer Trump’s new GOP “workers party” to the fantasy “communist” outfits of the First Worldists.

“Daddy Donald wants a big kiss, you precious little First Worldist “leftist” weenies!  You did such a good job at not making revolution, that my ascendancy to USA Emperor was a piece of cake!”

How Leading Light Communists should operate during the ascendance of Trump, Marine Le Pen, Brexit, and the general First World nationalist political trends:

Both paramilitary, white nationalist violence and state repression against Third World migrants in the First World could increase. This could be a catalyst for an explosive May 1st within First World borders.  While their demands are likely to be confined to reformist and First Worldist politics, the connection that migrants have to the Third World masses might make for some great potential Leading Light Communist leaders.  This does not mean that Leading Light Communists should be leading some significant “anti-colonial movement” within First World borders, and such notions will need to be quashed both inside and outside the organization if these ideas find expression.  All that aside, it does mean that there are new opportunities to expose the global capitalist-imperialist system, and put Leading Light Communist politics in command of an emerging anti-imperialist united front.

Current efforts to oppose Trump and other hard right nationalists in the First World are dominated by the “left” First Worldist populists, pro-imperialist pseudo-feminists, and neocolonial and individualist fake posturing around “decolonization” connected to the liberal “globalist” wing of the imperialists.  This is unlikely to change beyond a general “washing out” of the more overtly liberal imperialist forces within such an anti-Trump, unorganized, left leaning coalition.  The commitment to building independent institutions of Dual Power within the First World itself is a noble but ultimately fruitless gesture, with no mass social base for revolution. The same gesture to “not allow US imperialism to go unchallenged” is equally noble yet fruitless if not linked up with the New Power of the Leading Light, based on uniting the world’s exploited in their billions as the driving force for a genuinely militant, material challenge to US/NATO imperialism. Nevertheless, Leading Light Communists in the First World should stay engaged with all people who seek an alternative to the current system, and be ready to impart political education and engage in ideological struggle. (28)

Outside of the First World, the First Worldists have failed terribly at supporting the international united front with their acquiescence to Western imperialist taking points since 2001. Ironically, it is now the right-wing nationalists who have taken up a pretense of “anti-imperialism” and “internationalism”.  Theirs is based entirely on a pan-nationalist framework devoid of any historical perspective on colonialism. (29)  This is why we are faced with the ugly and tenuous First World populist unity of anti-migration and anti-interventionism. This is also why Leading Light Communist politics in command can prevent us from becoming surprised by turns towards fascism from those we once believed were firmly in the progressive anti-imperialist camp. The fact that Donald Trump is very popular among the Egyptian, Syrian and Libyan masses (30, 31, 32) for his anti-NATO/anti-interventionist and anti-Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric during the US presidential campaign, even when often couched in a generalized reactionary anti-Muslim chauvinism suited for Trump’s electoral base in the United States, should be an indication that the First Worldist “left”, especially the “antiwar left” has lost its way on genuine anti-imperialism from a communist perspective. Consider this a wake up call to First Worldist so-called “communists”: These vulnerable populations you claim to represent, chose Donald Trump over you, most likely because of your adherence to outdated social-imperialist programs that puts them last, and not first.

Leading Light Communists can combat both the fake First Worldist “leftists”, and the right-wing usurpers of the anti-imperialist movement. We don’t have to defeat both camps simultaneously, but we need to understand that there cannot be strategic unity in coalition with either of these enemy forces within the anti-imperialist united front. Both the white nationalist imperialist camp and the phony “left wing” social-imperialist camp alike advance a politics that demand more for the First World and less for the Third World. The former wants to build border walls and fences to keep Third World migrants away from the value stolen from them. The latter call for a $15 minimum wage for First World workers exclusively, paid for by the international proletariat. Same politics, but different packaging. As long as the political line of the First Worldist “left” remains fundamentally indistinguishable from the line of white nationalists on questions of global value transfer, superficial differences between the two lines on gender and nation will not matter to the world’s oppressed and exploited majority.

Stopping US imperialism begins with Leading Light Communist politics in command!

The only silver lining about the impending Trump regime would be a temporary pullback of the imperialist military from the Global South early in his term (with the exception of some “hotspots” where there is talk of cooperation against Daesh), as well as a reshuffling of existing First World military alliances like NATO and trade agreements like NAFTA. This could potentially allow an opening for the New Power to expanded into places where it has yet to be built, and to deepen the roots of the New Power where it currently is being built. There is much that Trump is keeping close to his chest, so comrades should be mindful if his international policy rhetoric starts to lean less on making deals and more on stealing resources. This could be an indication that US imperialism is seeking to reimpose itself on the world’s oppressed and exploited majority in a rapid and expansive fashion. (33)  Such an aggressive move by Trump and Exxon’s Rex Tillerson could indeed be the catalyst for unleashing Global People’s War in the future, if the international defense of the New Power of the Leading Light is under such an aggressive imperialist attack.

Help us prepare for the best and worst case scenarios alike, by joining with and donating to the Leading Light Communist Organization! A New Power is being born in this dark world! Cherish and nurture it to total victory with your material solidarity!

Notes:
1. http://heatst.com/culture-wars/womens-march-falling-apart-because-racism-white-privilege/
2. http://www.blackagendareport.com/no_tears_for_john_lewis
3. https://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/gender/iwd06h.html
4. http://twitpic.com/419nfm
5. Oil & Energy Insider; “IRAN-IRAQ: Pipeline to Syria Ups Ante in Proxy War with Qatar”;
February 22, 2013
6. http://www.humanite.fr/monde/alain-badiou-des-printemps-aux-revolutions-554069
7. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/07/01/on-the-wrong-side-again-inegypt/?utm_term=.d198d11f3235
8. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-protests-idUSBRE95Q0NO20130630
9. https://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/mn/mn335.pdf
10. https://levantreport.com/2016/01/04/new-hillary-emails-reveal-propaganda-executions-covetinglibyan-oil-and-gold/
11. http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article1938633.html
12. https://kasamaarchive.org/2011/03/04/libyan-exception-dont-tear-the-sails-of-inspiration/
13. Tidal; “General Strike!”; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; December 2011
14. https://bayareaintifada.wordpress.com/
15. https://ncplc.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/neither-assad-nor-nato/
16. https://bayareaintifada.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/video-decolonization-is-not-a-tendency-2013-seattle-anarchist-book-fair-panel/
17. http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/Image_1_20161014_TPP.jpg
18. https://policy.m4bl.org/reparations/
19. https://anti-imperialism.org/2014/11/17/patriarchy-is-not-secondary-rethinking-gender-oppression/
20. http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-10.pdf
21. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130508/dq130508a-eng.htm
22. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/12/donald-trump-finally-admits-he-wants-builddapl-pipeline
23. http://abcnews.go.com/US/2000-veterans-arrive-standing-rock-protest-dakota-pipeline/story?
id=43964136
24. http://www.pewglobal.org/database/indicator/1/survey/7/response/Unfavorable/
25. http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/
26. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/06/us/politics/as-trump-rises-reformocons-see-chance-toupdate-gops-economic-views.html?_r=0
27. http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/what-donald-trump-told-oprah-about-his-presidential-hopesvideo
28. https://www.ungovernable2017.com/
29. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/10/dugins-occult-fascism-and-the-hijacking-of-left-antiimperialism-and-muslim-anti-salafism/
30. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/egypt/2016-11-29/egypts-unlikely-ardor-trump
31. http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/16/opinions/donald-trump-speech-syria-reaction/
32. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2017-01-10/trumpian-peace-deal-libya
33. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySdhGyqGCZk

Understanding the Kurdish Resistance in Syria

Understanding the Kurdish resistance in Syriajohnson_1-300x200

(llco.org)

Very recently, an alliance of Kurdish forces and their allies has fought off an Islamic State offensive. Kobane, Syria was the focal point of the battle. The Islamic state is a horribly reactionary force that has been encouraged and supported by the imperialists, often through back channels. The Islamic State makes clear its genocidal intentions toward the Kurds. Not long ago, the Islamic State tried to wipe out Kurdish Yazid communities. In the face of such brutality, many people correctly rallied to defense of the Kurdish people who were facing genocidal annihilation. Many were inspired by the brave Kurdish women fighting for their freedom. Even though it is very correct to rally to the defense of the Kurdish people, it is important that we have clarity about the nature and role of the Kurdish organizations.

The Kurdish organization that was most significant in beating back the Islamic State in Syria was the People’s Protection Units (YGP), which are connected to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is strongest in Turkish Kurdistan. Also aiding the fight were the “Peshmerga,” the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK is openly capitalist has a long history of collaboration with imperialism. However, the PKK has a history as a nominally communist organization, although they have now dropped that label. Today, the PKK are an openly social-democratic organization and do not pretend to be communist. Because of their leftist rhetoric and egalitarian practices, some have supposed the PKK and its satellite organizations  to be some kind of vanguard of the Syrian revolution. Because of their long history of conflict with the racist Turkish regime, some have supposed them to be reliable anti-imperialists. This is not so.

The reality is that the PKK and its satellite organizations are nationalist organizations first and foremost. Their main interest is in establishing an independent Kurdistan. As such, they ally with whatever force can help them in achieving this end. This is why at the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the PKK-YPG was in an alliance with the Assad regime, which ceded areas to them with almost no conflict. (1) This is why the PKK-YPG is today aligned with some parts of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against both the Islamic State and the Assad regime. (2) This is why today, they seek coordinate with the United States’ bombing campaign. (3) (4) This is why they ask the United States for support in their fight in Syria. (5) This is why they call on material support from Europe. (6) The United States has had secret talks with the YPG’s political wing since 2012. Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford:

“The PYD-YPG is a Syrian group that is moving on the ground, so we had an interest in understanding their viewpoint and ideas..” (7)

According to one source:

“Kurdish sources familiar with the indirect U.S.-PYD talks told Foreign Policy that Washington is currently pushing the PYD to distance itself from the Assad regime by joining the Syrian Coalition, working with the FSA, and improving ties with the KNC and Barzani… The recent agreement between the YPG and FSA factions to fight IS together might reflect a PYD eagerness to meet preconditions for U.S. assistance.” (8)

The willingness to ally with imperialism to achieve its end is not new. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is the PKK’s satellite organization in Iranian Kurdistan. Because of the United States’ conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran, PJAK has sought to position itself as a US asset in the region even though they are still on the US list of terrorist organizations. The PJAK made its intent known through Western journalists:

“These words are not quite coded speech, but they are PJAK’s way of batting its eyelashes at the United States, of implying that the world’s superpower and this ornery Maoist gang might find common cause against Tehran. Most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds’ language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public. The PJAK Kurds want more: They want secular democracy, they say, and they want the United States to go into Iran to deliver it to them. Kurds enthusiastically boycotted the sham election that won Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran’s presidency last year, and they speak of him in doomsday terms that would fit in at the American Enterprise Institute but sound awkward in this rebel camp where everyone’s heroes are Che Guevara and Spartacus.

‘Ahmadinejad does not respect the Sunnis. He thinks they are agents of Israel and the USA,’ says PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya, an ex-lawyer from Kermanshah. (Most Kurds are Sunni.) Warya nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that they’re disappointed that Washington hasn’t made contact.” (9)

Although the PKK and its satellites do not have a deep history of imperial collusion yet, they are not in principle oppose to it if imperialism is perceived to serve their nationalist ends.  As the Syrian conflict develops, it looks like they are positioning themselves to try to be part of a Western-supported coalition. Thus the PKK is not in principle different from the PUK in Iraq nor is it in principle different from numerous other nominal leftist organizations that have sought support from the United States ranging from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) to Iranian Maoists to the Communist Party of Iraq. This is the problem with revisionist and nationalist organizations. Since they are not led by true science, by Leading Light Communism, even if they claim to be revolutionary, they can become instruments and dupes of empire.

Empire has a complex strategy in Syria and the region. It is playing multiple sides, hedging its bets so that its position is advanced no matter what the outcome of the Syrian conflict. Its overall goal is to weaken the region, especially the Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah axis. It has done this by fostering sectarian conflict on multiple sides. With one hand it supports the Islamic State, with the other it bombs them. We must remember the principal duty of progressive people is to oppose imperialism, not opportunistically cheer-lead any particular force on the ground. Let’s be clear, the Kurdish people have the right to defend themselves from genocide. We would like to see a Kurdish people who were truly free, but that freedom should not be bought at the expense of any other oppressed people of the region. We would like to see all the oppressed of the region thwart imperial plans by overcoming their differences with each other, by uniting. If they put truth, science, Leading Light Communism in command, the path to real freedom will open.

Notes

1.http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/07/26/157943/assad-hands-control-of-syrias.html

2.https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B0RLSYVIIAEwWwB.jpg:large

3.http://www.kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg/318-u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg.html

4.http://www.voanews.com/content/kobani-islamic-state-fighting-airstrikes-kurdish-fighters/2484354.html

5.http://rudaw.net/english/interview/03072014

6.http://kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/kurds-are-major-players-in-middle-east.html

7.http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/07/washington_secret_back_channel_talks_with_kurdish_terrorists_turkey_syria_robert_ford_exclusive

8. ibid.

9.http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/dispatches/2006/06/iran_bombs_iraq.html?nav=fo

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraqislamic_state_of_iraq

(llco.org)

The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Al Qaeda in Iraq, Islamic State in Iraq, ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic State) has gone through numerous incarnations. In the past, it was known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” And today, its leader, previously known as “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” calls himself “Caliph Ibrahim,” the supreme leader of a new, landlocked Sunni caliphate that spans the Sunni areas of northern Iraq and northern Syria. He has declared that it is the duty of all Muslims to support and follow him and his Islamic State. To understand the nature of the ISIS, it is important to understand its methods, its history, its social base, its role in the class struggle.

It was under the previous leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS, developed its highly sectarian strategy. The main targets of ISIS’ sectarianism are the Shia, other non-Sunni populations, and oppressed nationalities such as the Kurds. When ISIS was known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” they pursued a strategy of seeking to cause a civil war between the Sunni and Shia in Iraq, a strategy that continues to this day. The 2006 attack on the Al ‘Askarī Shrine, one of the holiest sites in all of Shia Islam, was attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Although they denied responsibility after a backlash of public opinion against them, the attack on the shrine fits with a pattern of attacks on Shia mosques, shrines, and other non-Sunni holy sites that continues to this day. ISIS’ approach prioritizes sectarian attacks and immediate imposition of sharia, Islamic law, over any other conflicts. In 2005, even the emir of Al Qaeda central, Ayman al Zawahiri, questioned the prioritization of sectarianism Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“We must repeat what we mentioned previously, that the majority of Muslims don’t comprehend this and possibly could not even imagine it. For that reason, many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia. The sharpness of this questioning increases when the attacks are on one of their mosques, and it increases more when the attacks are on the mausoleum of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib, may God honor him. My opinion is that this matter won’t be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it, and aversion to this will continue.

Indeed, questions will circulate among Mujahideen circles and their opinion makers about the correctness of this conflict with the Shia at this time. Is it something that is unavoidable? Or, is it something can be put off until the force of the Mujahideen movement in Iraq gets stronger? And if some of the operations were necessary for self-defense, were all of the operations necessary? Or, were there some operations that weren’t called for?” (1)

At the time, ISIS’s strategy hoped to create chaos in order to cause a US withdrawal from Iraq. Despite their rhetoric and actions, their opposition to imperialism was not principled. They were not opposed to imperialism per se, rather they are opposed to their and the Iraqi Sunni population’s relatively weak position within the imperial system. Their armed struggle was not to throw off the yoke of imperialism, but it was ultimately about elevating themselves and those they represent within the empire. Their armed struggle would become a kind of armed reformism, an armed negotiation, with empire. Even if this was not clear at the beginnings of their movement, it is certainly clear with hindsight.

ISIS’ terror is not just directed at the Shia. ISIS has carried out genocidal policies against non-Sunnis along with a terror imposed on its own Sunni constituency. Eventually, the tide turned against “Al Qaeda in Iraq” when their own Sunni constituency revolted against them around 2007. This is referred to as the “Sunni Awakening” in the imperial media. This resulted from imperial bribes offered to Sunni tribes and it resulted from a backlash against ISIS’ sectarianism and harsh imposition of sharia: banning many traditional practices, censorship, beatings, executions, notorious beheadings, bombing of civilians. This sectarian strategy continued as ISIS intervened in the Syrian civil war. During the Syrian civil war, ISIS quickly marginalized other rebel factions, including other jihadi groups, who were fighting the Assad regime. As the most effective sect, they carved out a semi-state governed by sharia that spanned the Sunni areas of northern Syria and Iraq. Similar to their actions in Iraq, their genocidal, sectarian strategy in Syria targeted Alawi, Shia, Christian, and Kurdish populations with terror and violence. The sectarianism of the Syrian rebel groups was often met with sectarian violence on the part of the Assad regime against Sunni populations in places like Aleppo, where the regime indiscriminately bombed and shelled the population.

ISIn 2014, ISIS was IS-300x192ascending rapidly. They declared themselves the new Sunni caliphate and their leader declared himself Caliph of the “Islamic State.” After stabilizing their hold on parts of northern Syria, they played a major part in overrunning significant parts of Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit. The rapid rise of the Islamic State was aided by many factors. The Arab Spring has inspired populations to rise up across the region. It was the weakness of the central states of Iraq and Syria that also allowed ISIS to quickly gain power. ISIS was able to fill the power vacuum and able to exploit longstanding anger amongst Sunnis. The sectarian nature of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq played a major role. The Assad regime in Syria has its support disproportionately amongst the non-Sunni populations; the Assad regime’s support is greater amongst the Alawi, Shia, Christian, Kurds, and others. Assad’s military, for example, is dominated by his Alawi sect. Unofficial pro-regime paramilitaries and mafias known as “Shabab” or “ghosts” carry out sectarian attacks on behalf of the regime. They too are dominated by the Alawi. Even more so, the Maliki regime in Iraq is based disproportionately on Shia support in the south of the country. The policies of the Maliki regime have driven both the Sunnis and the Kurds into rebellion against it. In 2011, even before the ascendency of the Islamic State, the Maliki regime declared its own Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi a criminal and enemy. The Maliki regime was so sectarian and weak that it could not even get its Kurdish population to hand over their countryman after Tariq al-Hashimi went into hiding in the Kurdish areas. The Kurdish Peshmerga, which is ostensibly setup to defend Kurish borders in Iraq, have established a presence in disputed lands. For a long time, they have set up bases here and there in the disputed areas to match the presence of the security forces from the central state. Iraqi’s central state also had limited reach into the Sunni areas, areas that began to see the sectarian Maliki regime as an occupying force. It is because of the sectarian policies of the Maliki regime that the Islamic State was able to again gain the support of those same Sunni tribal leaders who had turned against ISIS years before during the “Sunni Awakening” around 2007.  In their recent surprise offensive, the Islamic State was able to briefly gain the support of Baathist elements in Iraq, remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime that continue to suffer persecution, whose base of support is the Sunni population. The Special Republican Guards were never fully committed to battle at the time of the US invasion. And Saddam Hussein’s body-guard network and special operations are thought to have remained intact. Many of the Baathist specialists that had fled to neighboring countries at the time of the US invasion have now returned. (2) Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who occupied the Vice-Presidency and Deputy Chairmanship of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussein, is now heading Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandi, or the Army of the Men of the Naqshband. This group, which has its roots in Baathist networks and Sufi Islamic orders, was a key player, along with ISIS, in overrunning Maliki’s state security forces recently. (3) There was much speculation that the disintegration of Maliki’s security forces was part of a conspiracy amongst some of its officers, possibly officers with connections to the old Baathist regime. However, these victories over the Maliki regime are now being undermined. Once again ISIS is imposing its harsh, unpopular Islamic order on the Sunni population and ISIS is also trying to eliminate its rival groups amongst the Sunni population of Iraq. Now the Iraqi Sunni groups have begun fighting amongst each other again. It is highly doubtful the Islamic State will be able to conquer the Kurdish areas or push deep into Alawi and Shia territory in Syria or Iraq. In both Syria and Iraq respectively, the Assad regime and Maliki regimes, along with Shia militias, are slowly pushing back, retaking territory.

The Islamic State’s victories, though dramatic, should not be overstated. Its victories are not based on popular support. The Islamic State demands obedience and the immediate transformation of society. ISIS is a commandist organization with little mass line. This is reflected in their terrorist attacks on civilians. Cities occupied by the Islamic State are sometimes depopulated or underpopulated when ISIS arrives. ISIS has created a stream of refugees from many areas it has conquered. It is not just Shia, Christians, and non-Sunnis fleeing, but also Sunnis fleeing the Islamic State’s sharia. Even their declaration of the caliphate and demand that all jihadis pledge loyalty to them has been criticized as a case of extreme overreaching. Other salafists worry that ISIS will end up discrediting the effort at bringing a viable caliphate into being. They are skeptical that a small, landlocked caliphate without oil spanning northern Iraq and Syria is viable. The population also wonders how such a state would create prosperity for its citizens, especially with such powerful neighbors like Iran. The Islamic State does not like questions. Those groups that oppose the Islamic State are muscled into submission. For example, ISIS declared a merger, that the Syrian Nusra Front be absorbed into its ranks. When the Nusra Front refused, the Islamic State responded militarily, even assassinating high ranking jihadi leaders. Al Qaeda central sought to mediate. They sided with Nusra Front. They declared the merger null and void. The Islamic State ignored attempts at mediation by Al Qaeda central. Instead, they declared the merger would go through. ISIS began to militarily enforce its dominance over Nusra Front. ISIS split from Al Qaeda central. This is why the Islamic State is often described as “too extreme for Al Qaeda” in the Western press. Even the Taliban in Afghanistan have warned the Islamic State to “avoid extremism.” (4)  The Islamic State is not patient with the its rivals or the population. Salafists in many countries have criticized the Islamic State’s pretenses and its attacks on Sunni imams and scholars who disagree with them. Such conflict is not new. There is a long tradition of conflict between autocratic caliphs versus Islamic scholars, a conflict going back at least to the Umayyad dynasty. (5) Even if the Islamic State advances the cause, many scholars feel they are being cut out by a transfer of authority from themselves to the new Caliph. Such errors reflect the Islamic State’s non-proletarian origin.

The rise of the Islamic State is also connected to geopolitical conflicts favorable to it. ISIS has benefited from the regional struggle for hegemony between Iran, Hezbollah, the Assad regime, and, to an extent, the Maliki regime versus the Gulf states, Israel, and, to a lesser extent, Turkey, Jordan, and others. The Islamic State established itself early on as the most viable opposition to the Assad regime and it has established itself as a strong opponent of the Maliki regime. The high profile nature of the conflicts drew people to its ranks from all over the world. The Islamic State has the ideological credentials and military capacity so that jihadis from all over the world to swell its ranks. Their internationalism not only brought them foot soldiers, cannon fodder for the struggle, but also brought them expertise and sophistication. For example, the Islamic State’s agitprop, internet and media production is some of the most sophisticated of any insurgent force. The ISIS brand fires the imaginations of armchair jihadis everywhere, especially in the Gulf States, who provide ISIS with an endless supply of private funds. Also, the Gulf State regimes have channeled massive military and monetary aid to Sunni rebels in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, Israel, Jordan, European countries, and the United States have channeled aid to Syrian Sunni factions as well. The United States and Jordan even established a camp to train the Syrian rebels in advanced tactics and weaponry, possibly including chemical weapons. (6) Even if this aid is not always directly sent to ISIS, it often ends up in their hands since other groups are too weak to hold onto the materials, or are mafia organizations that resell the aid, or fronts for ISIS. And in some cases, states send aid directly to the Islamic State, which is why ISIS is accused of being a proxy for Qatar or Saudi Arabia. Like other Islamist forces, the Islamic State is partially a product of geopolitical conflicts. Western imperialists and their allies have a history of channeling training and resources to Islamist movements in order to undermine Soviet-backed movements and leftist movements. The most well-known example is the effort by the United States and Pakistan to support the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the pro-Soviet forces. Some of these mujahideen evolved into Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Later, the United States came into conflict with these forces, even deposing the Taliban’s state and occupying Afghanistan. Today, the United States is still fighting the Taliban and claims to be fighting Al Qaeda. Also, the Pakistani state sometimes comes into conflict with its own Islamists, including the Pakistani Taliban, which have connections to their deposed neighbors in Afghanistan. There is an opportunist relationship between the First World imperialists, their regional hegemonic allies, and certain Islamists. The Islamists are propped up by these regimes as a way for the regimes advance their First Worldist or hegemonic interests. The Islamists welcome any support as a way to advance themselves. The extreme sectarian nature of the jihadi ideology allows such movements to engage in opportunism that justifies any alliance with any force, which often leads them into alliances with imperialists and Zionists. Big imperialists and Israel channeled support to Sunni Islamists as a way to undermine pan-Arabism, leftist resistance movements, and Shia movements that come into conflict with their interests. The  Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood and also the Saudi regime conspired to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser multiple times. Even though the main face of Palestinian resistance today is Islamist, Islamists received support as part of Israel’s effort to weaken the Palestinian movement, which was then dominated by nationalists and leftists. (7) Some speculate that the new Caliph Ibrahim of the Islamic State, the supreme leader of ISIS, received training by the United States, Britain, and the Israeli Mossad. (8) At one point, the United States had him in custody in Camp Bucca, but he was released around 2010. (9) Many speculate that he was released because he had been a US, British, or Mossad asset. It is also possible that his detention was part of a long-term effort to give him a credible back story as an imperial deep agent who could also use his incarceration to network with jailed jihadis.

Some Islamists are straight-up agents of imperialism. However, it is important to note that although numerous Islamic groups have received imperialist support and have sometimes aligned with the imperialists, it is simplistic to believe they are all simply agents of imperialism. Although some Islamists often act as mercenaries for imperialists, they are often conflicted about it. It is also important to understand that not all Islamist movements are the same. Not only are there differences between Shia and Sunni groups, there are also important differences between Sunni groups. Movements like Hezbollah are very different from ISIS. Movements like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, for example, are very different than movements like the Islamic State. The former, for example, are playing a more progressive role in the region as they resist imperialism. The latter, the Islamic State, may spout anti-imperialist rhetoric, may come into some conflict with imperialism, but ends up serving imperialism in the big picture.

The Islamic State is a complex movement. It voices some of the injustice suffered by the Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq. No doubt, it expresses some legitimate grievances. However, ultimately, this is not the principal aspect of the Islamic State. And its rule has proven very unpopular even with the Sunni population. The Sunnis are its victims too. Although it has come into limited conflict with imperialism in Iraq, the Islamic State is not mainly an agent of the Sunni national bourgeoisie coming into conflict with imperialism as some might suppose. If anything, ISIS has come into conflict with the Sunni bourgeoisie represented by the old Iraqi Baathists on numerous occasions. On the whole, the Islamic State represents very backward segments of the Sunni populations of Syria and Iraq, comprador segments propped up by the Gulf States and other imperialists, along with segments of the petty bourgeoisie and intelligencia, along with very backward jihadis — some ideological, some mercenary — from around the globe. ISIS is willing to align with an imperialism that tolerates its fascist and semi-feudal social program. They are a comprador force, agents of empire, even though they spout an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist rhetoric. They are an extension of imperial capital aligned with local reactionary classes and globe-trotting mercenaries and ideologues from various strata. They are a response and contributor to a crisis situation in the region. Their rule is openly terrorist and  barbaric. However, their Islamist ideological commitments make it such that, although they serve imperialism overall, they are unpredictable and fall into limited conflict with the imperialists at times. The proxy war of which the Islamic State is playing a big role is part of the imperialist strategy to divide and conquer the region. Sectarian war is a way to divide masses. It is a way to create regional chaos. Syria and Iraq may be split into smaller states organized around sectarian lines, making it harder to resist imperialism.  The end result will be that the entire region will be weaker.  And Israel will be able to rest easily knowing that its main opponents, Iran and Iran’s allies, are occupied fighting the Sunni groups and their backers, especially ISIS and the Gulf states. Israel is so confident in its position that it is currently involved in an invasion of Gaza involving tens of thousands of troops, possibly an effort at full reoccupation. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded in the past few days while ISIS attacks Shia and other Sunni groups in Iraq and Syria. One online site claiming to represent ISIS stated it is not interested in attacking Israel anytime soon:

“We haven’t given orders to kill the Israelis and the Jews. The war against the nearer enemy, those who rebel against the faith, is more important. Allah commands us in the Koran to fight the hypocrites, because they are much more dangerous than those who are fundamentally heretics.” (10)

That says something about the Islamic State’s priorities. The Islamic State has also attacked the Kurdish populations aligned with the Kurdish Workers’ Party, thus serving Turkey, which is part of NATO. Even though their overall actions serve the United States, Europe, and the First World generally, the Islamic State has come into conflict with the United States in Iraq. Even though the Gulf States are part of the same First World bloc with the United States, even though they share the same regional interests, they have different policies toward the Maliki regime in Iraq. Thus different parts of the imperial allies are supporting different forces in the Iraqi civil war. Thus both sides of the conflict are being played by the Western-Gulf State imperialists. In a sense, ISIS represents a “Plan B” comprador force in Iraq. The United States would prefer to deal with a comprador regime with more liberal, modern flavor, some degree of women’s rights, an outward appearance of multi-national and religious tolerance. However, the Maliki regime is not delivering, which is why Hillary Clinton recently conveyed the US desire to see Maliki resign as a step to forming a new “national unity government.”  Plus, Iran’s involvement in Iraq makes it even more difficult to follow through with neocon nation-building fantasies there. If the imperialists can’t get a liberal comprador regime out of the Maliki, there is always the alternative, a comprador Sunni-fascist ISIS waiting in the wings. If imperialism with a liberal face fails, there is always imperialism with a fascist, feudalist face. “Plan A” doesn’t work, go with “Plan B.” Or, the imperialists will just try to split the country in order to divide and conquer. In other words, their outlook is to support all sides through multiple channels so that no matter who wins, the imperialists  win.

It is important to look beneath the surface. Just because an organization spouts anti-imperialist rhetoric and brandishes automatic weapons does not make them anti-imperialist nor progressive. Imperialism orchestrates and supports many non-state actors around the world in order to further its purposes. The Islamic State is a movement that commits genocide against non-Sunnis and non-Arabs in the region. Alawi, Shia, Christians, Kurds, and others are hunted down and butchered. Areas are depopulated. Their art, culture, holy sites, their places of worship, destroyed. Not unlike other fascist movements, the property of the persecuted is appropriated by ISIS to distribute to its fighters and supporters. Where they have power, they inflict terror on the very Sunni population they claim to represent. Sunni refugees also flee the Islamic State just as others do. Sharia is implemented. Those who do not follow every aspect of Islamic law can be beaten, tortured, or killed. Those who forget to pray are made examples of. Those who have extra-martial affairs are beaten or killed. Censorship is the order of the day. Books and cigarettes are banned and burned in huge bonfires. Young girls and women are kidnapped, forced into marriage, and raped as spoils of war. Women are silenced, their motions restricted, their rights are stripped of them. Women are turned into mere property. ISIS fighters hold themselves to another standard than the populations they control. They see themselves as better and above ordinary people. The fighters act with arbitrary terror against the populations. They do what they wish and take what they wish. They kill who they wish. Beheadings and crusifictions are commonplace. Anything and everything is permitted in the name of advancing Islam. Hypocrisy and corruption are rampant. At the same time, the Islamic State serves the interests of those regimes most closely allied to the United States. They serve and are propped up by the Gulf States, Israel, Turkey, and, indirectly, the United States and European countries. The Islamic State is a hypocritic, corrupt, destructive, oppressive force serving imperialism.

There are many false paths. There are many false leaders. There are many masks that the system hides behind. We must dare to remove the masks. The masses will see through the lies. Islam is not the answer. Fantasies about restoring a feudal, Islamic golden age are lies. Filling the heads of the population with superstition only makes the population more vulnerable. If we are going to defeat imperialism, we need an educated population. If we are going to end oppression, we need masses who think scientifically. If we are going to build a society where the people have decent lives, we need fighters and thinkers. If we are really to defeat capitalism, we need to liberate the masses, not terrorize them into submission as the capitalists, feudalists, and fake caliphs do. If we are to really win, we need the masses at our side. We need women fighting along side us. Fighting without women is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Women hold up half the sky. Men and women unite. We need to unite the oppressed people of all religious backgrounds, all nationalities, all ethnicities, all languages. Islam is not a weapon that can take us to liberation. We need the best weapon possible, the most advanced revolutionary science, in the hands of the masses. There is one people, one Earth ,one future, one path, one organization, one leadership, one weapon, one answer: Leading Light Communism.

Notes

1. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Zawahiris-Letter-to-Zarqawi-Translation.pdf

2. http://rudaw.net/english/interview/29062014

3. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118356/izzat-ibrahim-al-douri-saddam-husseins-pal-key-stopping-isis

4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2689776/Now-Taliban-warns-ISIS-Islamist-rebels-Iraq-avoid-extremism-calls-new-council-jihadi-factions-page.html

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9zGqwKZp58

6. http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-defense-contractors-training-syrian-rebels-to-handle-chemical-weapons/5315180

7. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123275572295011847

8. http://www.islamicnewsdaily.com/country/gulf/iraq/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-trained-israeli-mossad-nsa-documents-reveal/

9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10891700/Iraq-crisis-the-jihadist-behind-the-takeover-of-Mosul-and-how-America-let-him-go.html

10. http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/.premium-1.605097

Israel’s pink imperialism

Israel’s pink imperialismIsraelis take part in Jerusalem's annual

(llco.org)

In a recent letter, Israel’s Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar instructed the Population and Immigration Authority and the Jewish Agency to grant citizenship to the spouse of any Jew, regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple. “I do not see a distinction between Jews in heterosexual marriage and those who wed in same-sex marriages abroad in accordance with the law,” Sa’ar wrote in his letter to the Population and Immigration Authority. Yet Israel continues to deny rights to Palestinians. Most Palestinians are not only unable to attain Israeli citizenship, they are also not allowed to return to their land at all. Israeli policy is that the homosexual partners of Jews have more right to the occupied land of Palestinians than Palestinians themselves. Israeli policy grants more powers and rights to homosexual partners than Palestinians. Thus Israeli policy recognizes the longstanding connection between First World gender activism and imperialism. Israeli policy recognizes that appealing to First World homosexuals in Israel and abroad is a useful tool in imperial conquest. Israel’s policy is not unlike that of other Western imperialists today.

There is only so much value created by the global economy. There is only so much value that can be spread around globally. It takes more value to sustain the lifestyle of the average First World person than the average Third World person. More value is channeled to individuals in the First World so that they can maintain their happy existence of consumption and leisure. Typically, First World individuals work less, but receive more value than their Third World counterparts. In the past, the most privileged in the First World were heterosexual men. Today, First World society has opened more. Today, the West is more accommodating and accepting of the desires and ambitions of women and homosexuals in the First World. To extend the full range of First World privilege to women and homosexuals in the First World comes at a price. The social-democratic good life is only made possible through exploitation of Third World peoples. Increasing the quality of life in the First World is made possible by lowering quality of life in the Third World. First World peoples, including women and homosexuals, have a greater range of life options available to them because there is a restriction of life options in the Third World. There are winners and losers in the global economy.

The Israeli policy stands in a long line of liberal imperialism. Social-democratic reform reduces contradictions, reduces social tensions, within the imperial population. Imperialists often extend social-democratic reform as a way to forge the social unity to embark on imperial conquest. Thus liberal imperialism, social-democratic imperialism, is often more efficient than traditionalist imperialism. Social-democratic, pink reform also deflects Western attention from the genocide of Palestinians. Furthermore, pink-friendly Zionism is contrasted to the intolerance of Palestinian Islamic and patriotic movements in the imperial media. More and more, imperialist wars and occupation are portrayed as liberal, cosmopolitan civilizing missions. Less and less, imperialism is portrayed as a traditionalist civilizing mission, as the white man’s Christian burden. Just as the imperialist aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran are sold under the banner of First Worldist feminism, so too is the occupation of Palestine.

The dominant form of imperialism today is not traditionalist imperialism that imposes Christian religion and old gender roles on itself or the Third World. The dominant form of imperialism today is liberal, social-democratic imperialism. The dominant imperialism today does not aim to brutally conquer and control First World women and homosexuals. Rather, the liberal imperialism of today unites with First World women and homosexuals largely on their own terms against the masses of the Third World. Thus liberal imperialism sets First World women against Third World women; it sets First World homosexuals against Third World homosexuals. The belief that there is a unity of interest between First World and Third World women or between First World and Third World homosexuals is as First Worldist as the belief that there is a unity of interest between First World and Third World workers.

The answer to liberal imperialism is not traditionalism. The answer to imperialism with a pink flag is not imperialism with a black flag. It matters little to the Third World masses whether their overlords are listening to Wagner or Lady Gaga. From the standpoint of the vast majority, contradictions within the First World are as unimportant to revolution as the struggle of Coke versus Pepsi. Whether liberalism or traditionalism wins, the Third World loses. Those organizations that orient toward First World women and homosexuals are just as First Worldist as those that orient toward First World workers. First Worldism is First Worldism. Revisionism is revisionism. Leading Light rejects both liberalism and traditionalism. Leading Light rejects First Worldism and all its masks. The First World as whole is an enemy. Leading Light rejects all imperialism, all oppression, all exploitation. Leading Light is our sword. It is our shield. We are armed with the future. We are invincible.

Sources

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Interior-Minster-Saar-Jews-can-now-make-aliya-together-with-same-sex-partners-370837

More on the Islamic State

More on the Islamic Statebeheading

(llco.org)

Speaking from the recent NATO conference, US President Obama claimed to be assembling a coalition of countries to eventually “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) that is currently seeking to establish itself in northern Iraq and Syria. (1) The United Kingdom has already pledged its support to the effort. Obama’s recent escalation of rhetoric against the Islamic State follows the Islamic State’s recent beheading of two US journalists. These beheadings were the Islamic State’s response to the United States’ bombing campaign against Islamic State’s military positions. The strikes against the Islamic State continue. Most recently, a strike was carried out against positions near Iraq’s Hadith dam. (2) In addition, the United States has delivered aid to populations besieged by the Islamic State. Even though the Islamic State is apparently coming into more conflict in recent weeks with the United States, this does not mean that the Islamic State is anti-imperialist nor progressive.

This conflict cannot be understood by simply looking at Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State is part of a broader regional war. Generally speaking, on one side stands Iran, the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and the Shia in Iraq.  On the other side stands the United States and its regional allies: the Gulf Arab states, other Sunni states like Jordan and Turkey, Israel, etc. Other lesser-known struggles are part of this broader conflict also. For example, the popular revolt against the monarchy of Bahrain is also part of this regional war.

Even though imperialism moves against the the Islamic State with one hand, it supports the Islamic State with its other hand. The Islamic State is part of an effort by the enemies of Iran to contain Iran’s influence. Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria, and to a lesser extent, the Shia regime and militias in Iraq are connected to Iran. Iran is perceived by the imperialists to be a far bigger threat than the Islamic State. Imperialism fears Iran emerging as a powerful mini-super power armed with nuclear weapons. Thus to counter Iran’s influence, imperialism channels support to the Islamic State through backdoor channels in the Gulf Arab states, Israel, and Turkey even as imperialism denounces the Islamic State.  Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the imperialist rhetoric:

“There is still no serious understanding about the threat and they (the United States) have as yet taken no serious action… They have helped (IS) in Syria in different ways.” (3)

The overall effect of the Islamic State is to engulf the region in brutal sectarian conflict that weakens the ability of the masses, be they Sunni, Shia, Christian, Kurd, Arab, etc., to defend themselves against imperialism. Sect is set against sect, ethnicity against ethnicity, nationality against nationality. Iraq and Syria are being split into mini-countries organized around national and religious lines. These smaller entities are more easily controlled by imperialists and their allies. The imperialists are using the Islamic State as part of their strategy to divide and conquer the region.

The brutality of the Islamic State allows the imperialists to posture as heroes. The gruesome spectacles of the Islamic State, heads on pikes, mass graves of headless corpses, images of crucifixions, videos of children carrying out executions, slavery, genocide, etc., only make it easier for the imperialists to justify their intervention. Such barbarity not only generates public support for imperialism in the global media, it also pushes local populations, especially persecuted minorities, into the arms of the imperialists. The modus operandi of the imperialists is simple: fund and support the chaos of the Islamic State through backdoor channels, then use the chaos to justify further imperialist intervention.

It is important to look beneath surfaces. The Islamic State is not part of the united front against imperialism. Whatever the militant rhetoric of the Islamic State and the imperialists, overall, they are serving each other’s interests. A tipping point may be being reached where the imperialists seek to reign in the Islamic State. Time will tell. However, currently, the Islamic State is serving its purpose as the brutal bogeyman dividing the masses and justifying further imperialist intervention in the region.  It is important to not take the Islamic State’s anti-imperialist rhetoric at face value. Talk is cheap.  The end game of the Islamic State’s insurgency is not liberation, but barbarism, genocide, and more imperialist exploitation. Religion will never be capable of leading the people to true victory. Nationalism will not either. Unity, not division, is the key to defeating imperialism. Only science, only Leading Light Communism, can truly defeat imperialism once and for all because science is based on reality, the common interests of all people.

Notes

  1. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/obama-vows-degrade-ultimately-destroy-isis-n196686
  2. http://news.yahoo.com/u-military-planes-carry-strikes-near-iraqs-haditha-064103269.html
  3. http://news.yahoo.com/us-not-serious-fight-against-iran-101000275.html

Understanding the Kurdish resistance in Syria

Understanding the Kurdish resistance in Syriajohnson_1

(llco.org)

Very recently, an alliance of Kurdish forces and their allies has fought off an Islamic State offensive. Kobane, Syria was the focal point of the battle. The Islamic state is a horribly reactionary force that has been encouraged and supported by the imperialists, often through back channels. The Islamic State makes clear its genocidal intentions toward the Kurds. Not long ago, the Islamic State tried to wipe out Kurdish Yazid communities. In the face of such brutality, many people correctly rallied to defense of the Kurdish people who were facing genocidal annihilation. Many were inspired by the brave Kurdish women fighting for their freedom. Even though it is very correct to rally to the defense of the Kurdish people, it is important that we have clarity about the nature and role of the Kurdish organizations.

The Kurdish organization that was most significant in beating back the Islamic State in Syria was the People’s Protection Units (YGP), which are connected to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is strongest in Turkish Kurdistan. Also aiding the fight were the “Peshmerga,” the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK is openly capitalist has a long history of collaboration with imperialism. However, the PKK has a history as a nominally communist organization, although they have now dropped that label. Today, the PKK are an openly social-democratic organization and do not pretend to be communist. Because of their leftist rhetoric and egalitarian practices, some have supposed the PKK and its satellite organizations  to be some kind of vanguard of the Syrian revolution. Because of their long history of conflict with the racist Turkish regime, some have supposed them to be reliable anti-imperialists. This is not so.

The reality is that the PKK and its satellite organizations are nationalist organizations first and foremost. Their main interest is in establishing an independent Kurdistan. As such, they ally with whatever force can help them in achieving this end. This is why at the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the PKK-YPG was in an alliance with the Assad regime, which ceded areas to them with almost no conflict. (1) This is why the PKK-YPG is today aligned with some parts of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against both the Islamic State and the Assad regime. (2) This is why today, they seek coordinate with the United States’ bombing campaign. (3) (4) This is why they ask the United States for support in their fight in Syria. (5) This is why they call on material support from Europe. (6) The United States has had secret talks with the YPG’s political wing since 2012. Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford:

“The PYD-YPG is a Syrian group that is moving on the ground, so we had an interest in understanding their viewpoint and ideas..” (7)

According to one source:

“Kurdish sources familiar with the indirect U.S.-PYD talks told Foreign Policy that Washington is currently pushing the PYD to distance itself from the Assad regime by joining the Syrian Coalition, working with the FSA, and improving ties with the KNC and Barzani… The recent agreement between the YPG and FSA factions to fight IS together might reflect a PYD eagerness to meet preconditions for U.S. assistance.” (8)

The willingness to ally with imperialism to achieve its end is not new. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is the PKK’s satellite organization in Iranian Kurdistan. Because of the United States’ conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran, PJAK has sought to position itself as a US asset in the region even though they are still on the US list of terrorist organizations. The PJAK made its intent known through Western journalists:

“These words are not quite coded speech, but they are PJAK’s way of batting its eyelashes at the United States, of implying that the world’s superpower and this ornery Maoist gang might find common cause against Tehran. Most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds’ language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public. The PJAK Kurds want more: They want secular democracy, they say, and they want the United States to go into Iran to deliver it to them. Kurds enthusiastically boycotted the sham election that won Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran’s presidency last year, and they speak of him in doomsday terms that would fit in at the American Enterprise Institute but sound awkward in this rebel camp where everyone’s heroes are Che Guevara and Spartacus.

‘Ahmadinejad does not respect the Sunnis. He thinks they are agents of Israel and the USA,’ says PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya, an ex-lawyer from Kermanshah. (Most Kurds are Sunni.) Warya nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that they’re disappointed that Washington hasn’t made contact.” (9)

Although the PKK and its satellites do not have a deep history of imperial collusion yet, they are not in principle oppose to it if imperialism is perceived to serve their nationalist ends.  As the Syrian conflict develops, it looks like they are positioning themselves to try to be part of a Western-supported coalition. Thus the PKK is not in principle different from the PUK in Iraq nor is it in principle different from numerous other nominal leftist organizations that have sought support from the United States ranging from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) to Iranian Maoists to the Communist Party of Iraq. This is the problem with revisionist and nationalist organizations. Since they are not led by true science, by Leading Light Communism, even if they claim to be revolutionary, they can become instruments and dupes of empire.

Empire has a complex strategy in Syria and the region. It is playing multiple sides, hedging its bets so that its position is advanced no matter what the outcome of the Syrian conflict. Its overall goal is to weaken the region, especially the Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah axis. It has done this by fostering sectarian conflict on multiple sides. With one hand it supports the Islamic State, with the other it bombs them. We must remember the principal duty of progressive people is to oppose imperialism, not opportunistically cheerlead any particular force on the ground. Let’s be clear, the Kurdish people have the right to defend themselves from genocide. We would like to see a Kurdish people who were truly free, but that freedom should not be bought at the expense of any other oppressed people of the region. We would like to see all the oppressed of the region thwart imperial plans by overcoming their differences with each other, by uniting. If they put truth, science, Leading Light Communism in command, the path to real freedom will open.

Notes

1.http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/07/26/157943/assad-hands-control-of-syrias.html

2.https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B0RLSYVIIAEwWwB.jpg:large

3.http://www.kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg/318-u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg.html

4.http://www.voanews.com/content/kobani-islamic-state-fighting-airstrikes-kurdish-fighters/2484354.html

5.http://rudaw.net/english/interview/03072014

6.http://kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/kurds-are-major-players-in-middle-east.html

7.http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/07/washington_secret_back_channel_talks_with_kurdish_terrorists_turkey_syria_robert_ford_exclusive

8. ibid.

9.http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/dispatches/2006/06/iran_bombs_iraq.html?nav=fo

Most Americans support torture

Most Americans support tortureBlog_Torture

(llco.org)

In the United States, the Senate Intelligence Committee has released a scathing report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) use of torture. The 500 page report is a summary of a larger, still-classified 6,000 page study on the CIA’s interrogation methods and treatment of prisoners accused of terrorism. The use of black-site prisons has long been public knowledge. The use of waterboarding, which induces the body to think it is dying, is the most well-know method of torture. The report contained interesting new information not widely known. According to the report, 20 percent of the detainees were “wrongfully held.” One mentally challenged man was held just to get leverage over his family. In addition to that, the CIA forced prisoners into “a forward-facing position (Trendelenburg) with head lower than torso.” A “lunch tray” was prepared, “consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.” Children and families of the detainees were threatened with violence and sexual abuse. Ice baths were used. Prisoners were required to stand 66 hours on end. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was almost tortured immediately, without even bothering with much questioning. The CIA had planned to hold him indefinitely without charge or trial. Detainees were tortured simply for not referring to their interrogators as “sir” and for complaining about stomach aches. Bush’s Justice Department lied to Congress on occasion, including about the claim torture foiled the plans of Jose Padilla. In addition, the State Department and other agencies were not informed when the CIA made deals to open secret prisons abroad. (1) Numerous other outrages were documented in the report.

Although its effect has not filtered out to the US public fully yet, it is not a secret that the United States has long engaged in horrible behavior toward prisoners in the name of fighting terrorism. There have been numerous cases in the media where the CIA has been caught kidnapping people off the streets and shipping them off to secret prisons to be tortured. Sometimes, the people have been innocent or were detained based on mistaken identity. The practice of “rendition” has been in exposed numerous times in the media, yet has provoked little public outrage. Probably the most well-known torture scandal was that of Abu Ghraib, where numerous photographs emerged of US military personnel torturing Iraqi prisoners. There has also been numerous cases of police torture and violence inside the United States, and a general increase in the security state. Even with all this, most Americans, according to a 2009 poll, support the ongoing use of torture. A good majority, 71 percent, of Americans responded that torture can be justified in some cases. According to the poll, 49 percent said it can “often” or “sometimes” be justified and 22 percent responded that torture can be “rarely” justified. Only 25 percent of Americans said torture could “never” be justified. These numbers are telling in themselves. However, there is a certain stigma associated with answering that torture is justified. It is probable that the real support for torture is even higher among Americans. (2)

It is not surprising that more Americans do not oppose torture. When it comes down to it, many Americans perceive it in their interests to support the worst violence of the state. This is not uncommon in an imperial population. Human rights are not respected if there is a real perceived threat to the system. This just shows how an imperial population can easily compartmentalize its conception of itself. On the one hand, the population of the United States likes to claim that its armies protect democracy and human rights globally. On the other hand, they are very willing to toss that pretense when they need to, which is one reason that Americans are so drawn to rouge military, intelligence, and police officers in television and film.

The First World is an empire of hypocrisy. It must be obliterated. We reject their world, their future. Our future is one where all people will have true dignity and equality. They will wage their wars according to their rules. We will wage ours our way.

Notes

  1. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/cia-torture-report-abuses-rectal-feeding
  2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/12/09/lets-not-kid-ourselves-most-americans-are-fine-with-torture-even-when-you-call-it-torture/

Obama seeks new resolution on the so-called “Islamic State”

Obama seeks new resolution on the so-called “Islamic State”obama_war_funding_titled_medium

(llco.org)

On Wednesday, US President Obama opened the door to “limited” ground operations against the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS, ISIL, IS) by proposing a resolution to the US Congress authorizing a limited actions. According to a statement by Obama, the resolution does not authorize new troops for another war in the Middle East, but it authorizes activities by those current troops stationed in the region against the Islamic State for three years. Obama proclaimed that the Islamic State “will lose.”

We should look with great skepticism on Obama’s three-year time table, considering that the United States has been actively fighting Iraq since 1990. In reality, the United State has been involved in a continuous war against Iraq since the first Gulf War began in August, 1990 to February, 1991 followed by a decade-long air war. This was accompanied by a war against Iraq’s infrastructure, over a decade of strict sanctions to punish and weaken Iraq. This was followed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq that began in 2003. This war was declared over in 2011, but continues to this day. Now the United States seeks to increase its involvement in Iraq again under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State. Thus the recent declaration by Obama changes very little. It merely seek legitimation for continued imperialist policies against Iraq.

The latest move by the Obama administration reflects the hypocrisy of Empire. Empire sought to use the Arab Spring movements to create a Middle East more friendly to themselves. Empire actively encouraged the destabilization, later to be followed by a clandestine NATO invasion, that toppled the Gaddafi regime in Libya. Empire sought the same in Iran in 2009, but failed. Although, perhaps as a result, Ahmadinejad was replaced in 2013 by those less hostile to the United States. Protests against Assad’s regime in Syria turned to civil war in 2011 with Empire supplying massive funds, weapons, and training for numerous sectarian, Sunni opposition groups and foreign fighters. Although the Western media maintained the myth that there was a viable liberal, moderate “Free Syrian Army,” it quickly became apparent that the extremists were the only capable fighting force opposed to the Assad regime. These extremist groups followed the tactic pioneered by Al Qaeda in Iraq. They sought to bring themselves to power on the back of a sectarian conflict between Sunnis versus Shia. Thus the Syrian conflict became part of a wider regional power struggle between Shia Iran and the Sunni Gulf states, Israel, their allies, and other imperialist states. Thus Empire and its allies began funneling massive support to the Islamic State and similar groups in their effort to undermine the Assad regime and Iranian influence. Soon, the Islamic State had not only filled a power vacuum in northern Syria, but also Iraq. The result was a barbaric, nightmare regime that broadcast its atrocities on youtube: beheadings of prisoners, crucifixions, stoning of women, throwing gays off buildings, murdering minorities, public markets where girls – trophies of war – are sold as sex slaves. Most recently, in violation of Islamic law, the Islamic State burned a Jordanian pilot alive on youtube. Surely, bomber pilots themselves burn whole towns and villages with their bombs, they are not innocent. However, burning people alive on film only creates a spectacle of terror. So much for hearts and minds. The Islamic State is one of the few insurgencies that has been successful putting little emphasis on mass line. How can an insurgency get so far while caring so little for those it rules over?

The Islamic State is a Frankenstein creation of Empire that will not bring liberation. It will only bring ruin. It is part of a divide and conquer strategy by Empire against the peoples of the Middle East. Empire created the conditions for the rise of the monster — a quarter century of aggression that has left Iraq in ruins, killing millions. Empire created the conditions that have killed hundreds of thousands in Syria. Empire has a direct hand in creating the monster through funding, training, and weapons, especially through the Gulf states, Israel, and Turkey. However, now the Frankenstein is too big now. So, Empire is now reigning in its monster. Empire will beat the monster into submission through bombings and ground operations. And, in the end, the Hezbollah-Assad-Iran-Iraq axis will be weaker. The Sunni and Shia populations will be devastated in Iraq and Syria. The people of the region will be beaten into submission. The populations will be more divided than ever along ethnic and sectarian lines. And Empire will be able to justify its continued occupation. And the bourgeois media will proclaim Empire the hero for saving the Arab peoples from the monster. This is part of a new pattern of crisis politics where Empire creates a crisis, then Empire uses the crisis to justify its intervention. Then Empire puts itself forward as the only sensible alternative. With one hand, Empire starts the fire. With the other hand, Empire puts out the fire. And the capitalist media claps with both hands for the imperial heroes. The Islamic State is not a genuine anti-imperialist force even though it appears to be in conflict with Empire. At a deeper level, it is serving Empire’s purpose of weakening the ability of Third World people to resist, discrediting real resistance to Empire that might arise, and it plays the villain that allows Empire to play the hero. Empire is literally playing multiple sides of the conflict in order to weaken the entire region. Empire is pulling the strings of the Islamic State.

We must oppose all imperial plots. We must oppose both Empire and the so-called “Islamic State.” We must oppose further imperialist intervention in Iraq and Syria. Empire created the problem. They have no interest in really ending it. We must oppose Empire and its efforts to divide and conquer the Third World by stroking up sectarian conflict and destabilization. We must support the genuine united front against imperialism, not pretenders like the Islamic State that work hand-in-hand with Empire to weaken the masses. The Islamic State only brings sectarian conflict, medieval barbarism, and ruin. The solution is not Empire. The solution is not extremist perversions of Islam. The solution is the Leading Light of truth.

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein reviewed by Prairie Fire200px-Shock_doctrine_cover

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The Shock Doctrine (2007) by Naomi Klein was a New York Times bestseller that appeared in 2007 at the height of the wave of public anger toward the George W. Bush administration in the United States. It was one of many books that made the rounds amongst outraged liberals in those years. In many ways, reading the book years after its original popularity allows us to absorb its claims without seeing them in the context of the left Democratic Party’s “anybody but Bush” political campaign. The book documents the evolution of what the author terms “disaster capitalism” from the classrooms of the University of Chicago to Pinochet’s stadiums-turned-death camps to the restoration of capitalism in China to the fall of the Soviet bloc to the compromises the African National Congress made in South Africa to the Green Zone in Iraq to the economic reforms enacted during the tsunamis in Asia and hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Even though the book is, ultimately, First Worldist, it contains important insights that help our understanding of neoliberalism and the new forms that imperialism has taken since the fall of socialism and the fall of the Soviet revisionist bloc. Klein holds that because of the radical, extreme nature of neoliberal economics, policy makers have come to understand that in order to impose such extreme, neoliberal reforms, populations have to be shocked, stunned, de-patterned as victims of electro-shock therapy are. Such is the only way to get populations to go along with reforms that are in opposition to their interests. Shock and awe crisis combined with radical, capitalist reform is the hallmarks of the emerging neoliberal corporate order. So argues Klein.

Intellectual origin of neoliberalism

A forerunner of the Chicago school was the Austrian school. Austrian school economics is represented best by Friedrich Hayek who also had taught in Chicago for a time in the 1950s. The immediate intellectual origin of the neoliberal economics is the University of Chicago, but it really is just a continuation of the Austrian tradition. The University of Chicago school of economics of the 1950s, Milton Friedman and his students, has been mythologized in the media and intellectual imagination. Their radical brand of capitalism appeared when real socialism was reaching its height, with Stalin’s victory in World War 2 and Mao’s victory in China. This was a time, after the Marshal Plan, when European social democracy was seen as the kinder, gentler future of imperialism for Europe, North America, Japan, and Oceania. This was a time when anti-colonial, patriotic nationalist regimes sought to develop their countries with large state sectors and large welfare programs. Among liberals, social democrats, and nationalists, Keynesianism ruled the roost. The economic battle on the world scene was largely between Stalinist and Maoist economics versus Keynesianism and social democracy. It was in this climate that Milton Friedman played the capitalist rebel. Contrary to popular opinion at the time, Friedman echoed Hayek, arguing that free markets were true freedom. Hayek, Friedman’s personal guru, argued that any state intervention in the market, be it Marxist or Keynesianism, was a “road to serfdom.” (pp. 66-67) State involvement in the market inevitably lead to a kind of feudalism that reduced the bulk of humanity to unfree paupers who toil for their state overlords. For Friedman, free markets solve all economic problems. Markets create freedom and abundance — never mind the ugly realities of capitalism in the real world or the problems of sustainability. For the neoliberals, all problems are a result of interference, hindrance of the free market. Contrary to the consensus at the time, they argued that the invisible hand must be freed to solve all problems:

“Friedman dreamed of de-patterning societies, of returning them to a state of pure capitalism, cleansed of all interruptions — government regulations, trade barriers and entrenched interests… Friedman believed that when the economy is highly distorted, the only way to reach that prelapsarian state was to deliberately inflict painful shocks: only ‘bitter medicine’ could clear those distortions and bad patterns.” (p. 60)

The advocacy of unbridled, unregulated, anti-state capitalism had been largely discredited not only in socialist regimes, but in both the post-colonial Third World and in the social-democratic First World ever since the Great Depression. The neoliberals needed an intellectual revolution; they needed to gain credibility by building public opinion for their views among intellectuals. Such pro-corporate views could not be sold to intellectuals or even politicians unless they found an academic advocate. Arguments by corporate robber barons to enrich themselves would fall on deaf ears. The corporations needed a champion who could convincingly argue for a return to unregulated capitalism, a return to a mythological capitalism, a time before the rise of socialism, before the state capitalism of the social democracies, social imperialists, and welfare states. Milton Friedman and his students fit the bill:

“The enormous benefit of having corporate views funneled through academic, or quasi-academic, institutions not only kept the Chicago school flush with donations, but, in short order, spawned the global network of right-wing think tanks that would churn out the counterrevolution’s foot soldiers worldwide.” (p. 68)

A new generation of radical capitalist ideologues and policy makers was born. The new wave posed as the radical, rebel capitalist among the evil, status quo statists. Anti-communism. Anti-social democracy. Reverse the new deal. Privatize everything. These young turks would come to dominate economic thinking in the capitalist world. They would preside over coups, depressions, wars, and other catastrophes over the next few decades. They would preside over whole new wave of imperialist terror against the world. They would preside over and profit from disasters in both the Third and First Worlds.

Disaster as opportunity

Marxists have often seen crisis as an opportunity that can create the conditions for revolution. However, crisis is not only a gift to the revolutionary forces, it can be used as a way to restructure society by others also. Fascists used economic crisis to catapult themselves to power. Now, it was time for the neoliberals:

“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” (p. 174)

Crisis situations are ones in which people are willing to experiment with new policies, are willing to accept radical solutions, both left and right, as necessary, even inevitable. Chicago School economists called this “the crisis hypothesis.” Not only did Chicago School economists create the policies to implement in times of crisis, but they participated in the generation of crisis themselves by closely collaborating with the imperialist militaries and their proxy dictatorships, but also by their role advising and working for transnational corporations and in the global financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF. Later, the “crisis hypothesis” would inform the U.S. military policy of “Shock and Awe” that was first advanced in the mid-1990s, but formed the basis of the military and economic strategy used against the people of Iraq in 2003. In the 1996 paper that articulated the concept. The paper states that an invading force should “seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary’s perceptions and understanding of events so that the enemy would be incapable of resistance.” (p. 184) Disasters, be they a result of war, economy, or nature, are opportunities, according to the neoliberals. An overwhelming crisis can be used to shove any radical reform on a people incapable of mounting resistance.

Indonesia’s shock, a forerunner for the neoliberal counter-revolution

During World War 2, the old imperialist powers of Europe had annihilated each other. The old empires of Europe — England, France, Germany, and others — were no longer able to hold onto their colonies. European powers were forced out of the Third World. Sometimes they were forced out to as communist-led revolutions swept places like China. They were also forced out of other parts of the Third World as the patriotic bourgeoisie seized power and sought to implement economic reform that favored national development. Mao freed a quarter of the world from the “two mountains” of feudalism and imperialism. Ho Chi Minh sought to do the same in Vietnam. Mossadegh in Iran, Gaddafi in Libya, Nasser in Egypt, Arbenz in Guatemala, Sukarno in Indonesia, and many others across the Third World sought to implement limited reform that would reduce the imperialist hold on their economies. Their reforms pursued developmental strategies that increased the state sector, often at the expense of imperialists and transnational corporations. Washington fought back with economic terrorism, bombings, wars, coups and death squads. In 1954, Mossadegh was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup in Iran. He was replaced by the brutal Shah, a friend of the West. Again, in 1954, the CIA came to the rescue of the United Fruit Company in Guatemala. The CIA disposed of the Arbenz regime that had dared to move toward land reform. This happened over and over, in country after country. Indonesia was to be a battle ground.

Indonesia was one of the first experiments in using shock therapy to restructure an economy, although not along strictly neoliberal lines. Prior to the pro-Western restructuring, Sukarno’s regime in Indonesia was a nationalist one that sought a course independent of both the Western and Soviet imperialists. The regime was one of national development and social democracy that made concessions to poor peoples and their organizations, including the powerful, Maoist-Influenced Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). A high-level CIA directive sought to “liquidate President Sukarno, depending upon the situation and available opportunities.” (p. 81) After several false starts, the CIA’s goal was accomplished by a military coup in October of 1965. The military, led by general Suharto, began a bloody campaign to eliminate the left. Death squads went from door to door, from village to village, torturing and executing anyone suspected of being sympathetic to communism. Educated people, teachers, students, worker and peasant organizers, human rights activists, nationalists, social democrats and communists were murdered by the new regime with the blessing and support of the CIA. Within one month, at least a half million people were killed, “massacred by the hundreds of  thousands,” according to Time magazine.  “Travelers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies; river transportation has at places been impeded.” (p. 82)

Indonesia’s economy was then restructured to serve the West. This restructuring was planned by a group of intellectuals funded by the Ford Foundation. This group was called “the Berkley Mafia” in the press and in intellectual circles. They were Indonesian students who studied at Berkley as part of Ford Foundation funded program. When they returned home, they founded a Western-style economics department at the University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Economics. John Howard, then Director of Ford’s International Training and Research program states, “Ford felt it was training the guys who would be leading the country when Sukarno got out.” (p. 83)

The Berkley Mafia got to work. They recorded lectures on economics for the generals. They personally tutored general Suharto, who was reported to have been attentive, closely taking notes. They filled important positions in the new regime. They became the new economic technocrats. They made Indonesia friendly to foreign capital. “They passed laws allowing foreign companies to own 100 percent of these resources [food, basics, oil and mineral wealth], handed out ‘tax holidays,’ and within two years, Indonesia’s natural wealth — copper, nickel, hardwood, rubber and oil — was being divided up among the largest mining and energy companies in the world.” (pp. 83-84) Even though the Berkley Mafia were less explicitly ideological, even though they were not as anti-state as future neoliberals, the parallels with later neoliberals, such as the “Chicago Boys” in Latin America, would be striking. (p. 84)

“Suharto… had shown that if massive repression was used preemptively, the country would go into a kind of shock and resistance could be wiped out before it even took place. His use of terror was so merciless, so far beyond even the worst expectations, that a people who only weeks earlier had been collectively striving to assert their country’s independence were now sufficiently terrorized that they ceded total control to Suharto and his henchmen. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations manager during the years of the coup, said Indonesia was a ‘model operation… You can trace back all major, bloody events run from Washington to the way Suharto came to power. The success of that meant that it would be repeated, again and again.”’ (p. 85)

It was the Indonesia experience of mass terrorism against the populace that would interest the architects of the neoliberal, orchestrated disasters and counter-revolutions to come.

Latin America, the real beginning

Even though there were forerunners like Indonesia, it was in the southern cone of Latin America that the Chicago school would get its big break. It was in 1953, that Adbion Patterson, director of the U.S. International Cooperation Administration in Chile, the agency later would become part of the infamous USAID, met with Theodore W. Shultz, chairman of the Department of Economic at the University of Chicago. USAID is known as being part of the “carrot” side of the United States’ “carrot and stick” foreign policy. USAID tries to project a more humane face for U.S. imperialism. USAID is known to collaborate with the CIA, death squads, and dictators across the Third World. The neoliberals came to the conclusion that Latin America was in a life-and-death struggle with Marxism. They began a collaboration to recreate the Chicago school in Chile, to create cohorts of capitalist intellectuals to save the continent. Similar to the creation of the Berkley Mafia in Indonesia, they created exchange programs between the Chicago School and universities in Chile. Because of lack of interest at more the prestigious campuses of Chile, they decided to create and finance a whole new school of economics at Chile’s Catholic University, a lesser institution. This was paid for by foundations and U.S. tax dollars. The student ideologues were described as “more Friedmanite than Friedman himself.” “Los Chicago Boys” would become the ideological vanguard of the coming neoliberal revolution that would begin in Chile.  (pp. 72-74)

By 1968, 20 percent of U.S. foreign investment was tied up in Latin America. There were 5,436 U.S. subsidiaries in the region. In previous decades, over a billion dollars was invested in Chile’s mining industries by U.S. corporations. Chileans saw few benefits. Following the typical pattern, value and resources left Chile at an astonishing rate. 7.2 billion in Chilean mining dollars ended up in pockets in the United States. (p. 78) In the early 1970s, Salvador Allende sought to reform the Chilean economy, which was dominated by foreign-owned corporations. Fearing that Allende would set a regional example, the U.S. state and corporations began waging a covert war to destabilize the economy and the Allende regime. When the U.S. State Department, CIA, and corporations failed to muscle Allende to reverse course early on, they began implementing a plan to overthrow him. (pp. 78-80)

“The other 9/11” occurred on September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet launched a coup d’etat. Allende’s civilian defense leagues were no match for Pinochet’s military and police. Pinochet described his coup as a “war.” Allende was killed. The Presidential Palace was in flames. The Allende government was imprisoned. In the days that followed, 13,500 civilians were rounded up. They were sent to the National Stadium, which was turned into a torture center and death camp. Thousands were tortured and killed. 80,000 imprisoned. 200,000 escaped the country for political reasons. (pp. 93-95) Books by Marx, Freud, and Neruda were burned. Chilean society was thrown into disarray.

The Chicago Boys saw their chance. “To us, it was a revolution,” one recalled. The capitalist intellectuals went into action. Pinochet knew nothing about economics, which allowed the Chicago Boys free reign to push through drastic reforms very quickly. As blood flowed in the streets, the Chicago Boys rushed to put together a statement, a program, that advocated privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social spending. With military approval, the Chicago Boys got the right-wing newspaper El Mercurio to print a long document that came to be known as “The Brick.” By noon, on September 12, 1973, government workers had the plan on their desks. The plan heavily resembled Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. To implement their radical agenda, they no longer needed to win anyone’s approval except a handful of military men. They could impose their ideas at gunpoint. Several of the Chicago Boys were named advisers to the dictatorship. (pp. 94-96)

A year after the coup, inflation reached 375 percent. This was the highest rate in the world, double that of the rate under Allende. The markets were flooded with cheap imports, putting local manufactures out of business. Unemployment hit record levels as hundreds of thousands lost manufacturing and public-sector jobs. In that first year, domestic industrialists began to resist the Chicago Boys, whose policies were only benefiting foreign importers, financiers and compradors. The National Association of Manufactures declared that the experiment of the Chicago Boys was “one of the greatest failures of our economic history.” (p. 97) Feeling the experiment in jeopardy, Friedman himself arrived. He was treated like a rock star by the dictator-controlled press. Friedman advised that the dictatorship was off to a good start, but to really succeed, Pinochet had to go further. Friedman said “shock treatment is the only medicine.” Friedman promised an economic miracle. Inflation could be ended and unemployment brought under control. All problems could be solved. However, it was necessary to act quickly, gradualism was not an option. More radical solutions were needed. Pinochet, reportedly, liked the ring of “shock treatment.” With a Chicago Boy newly appointed as Pinochet’s economic minister, they went forward with more neoliberal reforms. Public spending was cut by 27 percent in 1975. By 1980, public spending was half of what it was under Allende. Five hundred state-owned companies and banks were privatized. Some were almost given away. More trade barriers were removed. 177,000 industrial jobs were lost in the decade since the coup. The manufacturing sector shrank, returning to pre-World War 2 levels. Seventy five percent of a family’s income went to bread alone. Milk and bus fare were now luxuries for many. Chile’s economy was in ruin. The Chicago Boys and the dictator had taken Chile into a deep recession. (pp. 99-102)

In 1982, the economy got worse. The situation was to bad that Pinochet broke with the Chicago Boys out of necessity. He returned to Allende-type nationalization of major industries. The Chicago Boys were fired from influential government posts. Several came under investigation for profiteering and corruption. What prevented total collapse was that Pinochet never nationalized Codelco, the major copper company that generated 85 percent of Chile’s export revenues. Even in the worst period of neoliberal reform, the regime still had a revenue stream from copper profits. (p. 104) It was only in 1988 that the Chilean economy began to rapidly grow. The growth occurred only after 45 percent of the population had been forced under the poverty line by neoliberal policies. Neoliberals often point to the “Chilean miracle” as an example of the success of their policies. However, the “Chilean miracle” is a myth. The Chilean economy began to bounce back rapidly only after being first destroyed by neoliberal policies. The recovery happened by abandoning neoliberal policies, not because of them. And, even then, the recovery was uneven. In 2007, Chile was one of the most unequal societies in the world. The top ten percent saw their incomes rise 83 percent. Out of 123 countries counted by the United Nations, Chile ranked 116 in terms of inequality. (p. 105) In Chile, the “shock therapy” amounted to the rapid plunder of state assets. There was a massive redistribution of value from the middle and poor classes to the bourgeois classes, especially the compradors and the imperialists. The reality is that what developed was far from the free-market utopia of academics. The vision of Friedman and the Chicago Boys was made possible by a U.S.-sponsored police state that exterminated all opposition. The rapid economic hardships combined with the terror campaign waged by the state were a key part of subduing the Chilean people and expediting the neoliberal reform.

Klein describes the Pinochet dictatorship that streamlined the neoliberal “shock therapy”:

“Corporatism, or ‘corporativism,’ originally referred to Mussolini’s model of a police state run as an alliance of the three major power sources in society — government, businesses and trade unions — all collaborating to guarantee order in the name of nationalism. What Chile pioneered under Pinochet was an evolution of corporatism:  a mutually supporting alliance between a police state and large corporations, joining forces to wage all-out war on the third power sector — the workers — thereby drastically increasing the alliance’s share of the national wealth.” (p. 105)

While not meaning to, Klein has made an important observation. Despite anti-fascist propaganda at the time, in some fascist states, the workers — for example, in Germany — were not always on the receiving end of state violence or economic terrorism. The fascist state in Germany saw itself as above class, not unlike social-democratic regimes have since Lenin’s time. Although the fascist state served corporate and banking interests, it also sought to accommodate the bourgeoisified, German worker. It did this through social-democratic reform and also by redistribution of wealth from conquered peoples to Germans. Thus the state sought to deliver a higher standard of living to Germans, including German workers at the expense of other peoples. Not so in Chile. As a Third World country, fascism doesn’t typically seek an alliance with its own proletarian workers, at least not in the long term. Fascism, as Georg Dimitrov, theorist of Stalin’s Comintern around World War 2, put it, is “the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” However, fascism, in a Third World country like Chile, does not really seek any real alliance with the workers. Fascism does not seek to benefit the workers so much as cannibalize workers in the interests of local compradors and imperialists. Police, military and paramilitary terror facilitates the transfer of value from the poor and workers to compradors: generals, police, state bureaucrats, corrupt officials, middlemen for the imperialists, landed and other oligarchs, etc.  State and extra-state terror facilitate the transfer of value to the imperialists: multi-national corporations, financial institutions, global entities and bureaucracies, imperialist states and populations, etc. Pinochet’s regime subdued the Chilean workers. It did not court them.

The “shock therapy” that occurred in Chile happened elsewhere in Latin America, but with variations. When Pinochet took power in Chile in 1973, Brazil was already under the jackboot of a military junta. In the Brazilian junta, Friedman’s students held key posts. At the height of the junta’s brutality, Friedman traveled to Brazil to declare the neoliberal experiment there “a miracle.” External debt in Brazil would go from 3 billion to 103 billion. In Argentina in 1976, a military junta seized power. The Chicago Boys occupied positions in the military government: secretary of finance, president of the central bank and research director for the Treasury Department of the Finance Ministry, and other lesser posts. Although the neoliberal reform did not go as far there, state-ownership of the oil sector and social security survived, the neoliberal reforms were enough to push the middle classes into the poverty. Argentina’s external debt grew from 7.9 billion to 45 billion after the coup. Uruguay was also ruled by the military with similar results. The external debt doubled.  Arnold Harberger and Larry Sjaastad and their team, along with Chicago graduates from Argentina, Chile, and Brazil were tasked with reforming Uruguay’s tax and commercial policy. Similarly, in Bolivia, the unemployment rate increased dramatically. Real wages were reduced by 60 percent. Per capita income dropped from $845 to $789 two years later. Shanty towns and tent cities multiplied as people lost their land and homes. At the same time, Bolivians eligible for social security dropped by 61 percent. The majorities grew poor. A few grew wealthier. Countries that had previously had enjoyed a higher standard of living through economies with large national sectors and active state intervention were turned into Washington-backed neoliberal experiments accompanied by state and economic terror to pacify the populations. Henry Kissinger, who has been indicted for his role in these murderous regimes, was pleased with the neoliberal shock. Friedman and the Chicago Boys provided the ideological cover. Dictators, CIA, death squads, murderous police and military terrorized populations into submission. The juntas of the region cooperated in hunting down refugees and dissent. Through Operation Condor, the juntas and the U.S. intelligence and military shared information to hunt down, torture and kill opposition and perceived opposition. U.S. military and intelligence provided extensive training, even going so far as to produce torture manuals. Klein points out that Condor foreshadowed the system of secret prisons and “extraordinary rendition” that has developed today. Condor and the murderous suppression of dissent and resistance across the region was packaged as a “war on terror” in its day. (pp. 106-112) (pp. 185-186) (p. 196) Countries were subdued by military terror and economic strangulation under the cover of so-called anti-terrorism.

Eastern Bloc

Similar neoliberal restructurings occurred with the fall of the Soviet Bloc. Although the Soviet Bloc had long ceased to be socialist nor were the regimes there led by communists, the fall of the state-heavy regimes there was helped along and planned by neoliberals. As many of the Eastern European regimes reached a breaking point, those who had originally advocated Western European-style social democracy were either transformed or outmaneuvered by neoliberals. In the case of Poland, Solidarity took power from the Soviet-backed regime. Solidarity transformed itself from a trade union movement into one that advocated neoliberal “solutions.” In Poland, when Solidarity gained power, they now had to come up with the funds to pay the state apparatus, including the police. The IMF originally allowed the Polish economy to fall in the face of a debt crisis. The Unites States made statements that it expected the new regime to make good on its payments. The United States offered very little relief to the crumbling economy. In the face of an economic meltdown due to debt, the Polish regime turned to the Chicago School economists.  Jeffery Sachs dubbed “the Indiana Jones of Economics,” adviser to the Bolivian military regime, now advised the Solidarity regime. The Polish regime adopted what was known as “the Sachs Plan” or “shock therapy.” It was only after the regime adopted the plan that the IMF agreed to provide loans. Poland was strong-armed into accepting the emerging neoliberal consensus. (pp. 221-233) It caused a  depression in Poland. There was a 30 percent reduction in industrial production in the first two years. Unemployment skyrocketed, reacting a quarter of the population in some places. (pp. 241-243) Eventually, there was a backlash in Poland. Solidarity was defeated at the ballot box. (pp. 242-243) Similarly, Gorbachev in the Soviet Union originally advocated Western-style social democracy but was displaced by the more neoliberal-friendly Yeltsin. Like elsewhere, ideological and technical help was provided for the neoliberal transformation of the economy:

“To provide ideological and technical backup for Yeltsin’s Chicago Boys, the U.S. government funded its own transition experts whose jobs ranged from writing privatization decrees, to launching a New York-style stock exchange, to designing a Russian mutual fund market. In the fall of 1992, USAID awarded a $2.1 million contract to the Harvard Institute for International Development, which sent teams of young lawyers and economists to shadow the Gaidar team. In May, 1995, Harvard named Sachs director of the Harvard Institute for International Development, which meant that he played two roles in Russia’s reform period: he began as a freelance adviser to Yeltsin, then moved on to overseeing Harvard’s large Russia outpost, funded by the U.S. government.” (p. 281)

What followed was a massive selling of state assets, especially to foreign corporations and corrupt bureaucrats. The public assets were sold off at rock bottom, undervalued prices.

“Forty percent of an oil company comparable in size to France’s Total was sold for $88 million (Total’s sales in 2006 were $193 billion.). Norilsk Nickel, which produced a fifth of the world’s nickel, was sold for $170 million — even though its profits alone soon reached $1.5 billion annually. The massive oil company Yukos, which controls more oil than Kuwait, was sold for $309 million; it now earns more than $3 billion in revenue a year…” (p. 293)

The average Russian consumed 40 percent less in 1992 than 1991. There was a drop in the standard of living. (p. 283) A massive transfer of wealth occurred. Like in Latin America, the economic masterminds of the process often got a piece of the action, selling influence and profiting off of the plunder of the public sector. Enormous profits were moved offshore at the rate of 2 billion dollars a month. A new oligarchy of new millionaires and billionaires arose from the bureaucrats and their advisers that oversaw the process. (p. 291) So much so that the regimes of the post-Soviet Bloc were often described as kleptocracies. This pattern was repeated again and again in Eastern Europe and ex-Soviet bloc.

China, the restoration of capitalism on overdrive

Deng Xiaoping, one of the main architect of China’s counter-revolution and restoration of capitalism, was a big supporter of moving toward a neoliberal, corporate-based economy. In the 1980s, the Chinese regime invited Friedman to tutor hundreds of top-level civil servants, professors and Party economists in the wonders of the free market. Friedman spoke to audiences in Beijing and Shanghai. Deng sought to open up China’s economy, but also maintain the regime’s monopoly on political power. Klein describes the model in China as something close to Pinochet’s Chile. And this was acceptable to Friedman, for whom political freedom is the same as so-called economic freedom, free markets. In 1983, Deng opened the country up to foreign investment. He reduced protections for workers. He created a new 400,000-person People’s Armed Police charged with quashing all signs of “economic crimes.” Prices soared when prices ceased to be regulated. Job security was eliminated. Unemployment rose. Inequalities increased. Dissent grew. Klein suggests that this was the catalyst for the 1989 protests that were crushed by the Chinese state. But the violent suppression of the protests at Tiananmen threw the country into a shock that allowed Deng Xiaoping to go even further.  (pp. 232-239) Five days after the violence, Deng Xiaoping stated:

“Perhaps this bad thing will enable us to go ahead with reform and the open-door policy at a more steady, better, even a faster pace…” (p. 238)

The crackdown paved the way for reorganizing China’s economy along neoliberal lines. Klein characterizes Deng’s philosophy as “Friedmanism without the freedom.” (p. 293) Klein continues:

“It was this wave of reforms that turned China into the sweatshop of the world, the preferred location for contract factories for virtually every multinational on the planet. No country offered more lucrative conditions than China: low taxes and tariffs, corruptible officials and, most of all, a plentiful low-wage workforce that, for many years, would be unwilling to risk demanding decent salaries or the most basic workplace protections for fear of the most violent reprisals.” (p. 239)

For the Chicago School, China is a success. China is now the sweatshop of the First World, producing cheap goods for the populations of the United States. Along with the imperialists, the new bourgeoisie within the Chinese ruling party benefited:

“For foreign investors and the party, it has been a win-win arrangement. According to a 2006 study, 90 percent of China’s billionaires are the children of Communist Party [sic.] officials. Roughly twenty-nine hundred of these party scions — known as ‘the princelings’ — control $260 billion.” (p. 240)

The conflicts within China’s ruling elite today reflect a conflict between a more globalist, comprador-oriented bourgeoisie and a more patriotic bourgeoisie that seeks to retain China’s independence vis a vis the Western-dominated global market and the neoliberal consensus. Although neither pole within China’s elite is revolutionary, it is the more nationalist wing of the bourgeoisie that resists the extension of Western power in the Middle East and Africa. With the global markets in crisis, the nationalist wing of China’s elites have been able to assert themselves.

U.S. policy makers seek to remake the Middle East using Iraq as a model

The imperialists had similar plans for the Middle East and Islamic world. After the First Gulf War between the United States and Iraq, Saddam Hussein retained power in Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime was a Baathist one where the state managed much of the economy. It had a large public sector, nationalized industries, a large welfare state. Even though the regime was not truly socialist, it promoted a socialist rhetoric at time. It also promoted nationalism, even though the regime often compromised with the imperialists. Like most regimes in the Third World, the Iraqi regime was a regime ruled by the national bourgeoisie. The national bourgeoisie in the Third World has a patriotic pole that favors independence and development. The national bourgeoisie also has a comprador pole that favors accommodation with imperialism and maldevelopment. The regime in Iraq veered between these two poles. At times, the regime was mainly comprador. At other times, especially after coming into conflict with the United States, the regime was forced to take on more patriotic policies in opposition to the United States. After the First Gulf War, the Iraqi state was severely weakened, but continued to exert control of much of the national economy. The imperialists plundered and exploited Iraq after the First Gulf War through sanctions and reparations after that war ended in 1991. However, with Saddam still in power, they were unable to completely restructure the economy along neoliberal lines. So, their victory in Iraq was incomplete. The events of September 11 gave the imperialists their excuse. Not only could they finish the job in Iraq, Iraq could also serve as a regional example in the Middle East and Islamic world much as Pinochet’s Chile had in Latin America. To this end, Bush II would wage Gulf War II beginning in 2012, a war and occupation that continues to this day. Policy makers and economists had big plans for the post-Saddam Iraq:

“Since the entire Arab world could not be conquered all at once, a single country needed to serve as the catalyst. The U.S. would invade that country and turn it into, as Thomas Friedman, chief media proselytizer of the theory, put it, ‘a different model in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world,’ one that would set off a series of democratic/neoliberal waves through. Josh Muravchik, an American Enterprise Institute pundit, forecast a ‘tsunami across the Islamic world” in Tehran and Baghdad,’ while the arch-conservative Michael Ledeen, an adviser to the Bush administration, described the goal as ‘a war to remake the world.’” (p. 415)

From the beginning, Gulf War II was not simply about Iraq, but a new Middle East and, ultimately, a new world:

“[T]he architects of the invasion had unleashed ferocious violence because they could not crack open the closed economies of the Middle East by peaceful means, that the level of terror was proportional to what was at stake.” (p. 414)

The stakes were big, not just Iraq, but the world. The future of the world was at stake. The neoliberals saw it as  a war of civilizations, a war between two ways of life. Friedman wrote, “We are not doing nation-building in Iraq. We are doing nation-creating.” (p. 417) The Middle East was to be cleaned of terrorists and radicals. Shortly after declaring the fighting over in Iraq, Georg W. Bush announced plans for the “establishment of a U.S.-Middle East free-trade area within a decade.” (p. 416) A giant free-trade zone was planned. (p. 415) This was seen as a unified project to “bring democracy” to the Middle East, and the world. In reality, the “democracy” and “freedom” that neoliberalism brought was only for corporations and Western contractors.

The war planners and neoliberals ran into a problem: Iraq is not a blank slate. Iraq’s civilization is an ancient and rich one. Its popular culture is fiercely proud and anti-imperialist. It had a deep history of Arab nationalism. In addition, the majority of the adult male population had military training. (p. 417) Whole cultures would have to be uprooted to create a neoliberal-capitalist utopia in the region. In order to create the blank slate, a new type of war was to be waged. Donald Rumsfeld promoted a Pentagon-research paper, Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance. (p. 416) The paper prides itself on not merely targeting the enemy military, but “society writ large.” Fear on unprecedented scales is a key component of the theory. (p. 420) Like shock therapy, the goal is “rendering the adversary completely impotent.” (p. 421) A society is completely erased in order to be rebuilt. “Shock and Awe” states:

“In crude terms, Rapid Dominance would seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary’s perceptions and underlying understanding of events.” (p. 421)

And:

“With a far larger canvas, that was the invasion and occupation strategy for Iraq. The architects of the war surveyed the global arsenal of shock tactics and decided to go with all of them — blitzkrieg military bombardment supplemented with elaborate psychological operations, followed up with the fastest and most sweeping political and economic shock therapy program attempted anywhere, backed up, if there was any resistance, by rounding up those who resisted and subjugating them to ‘gloves-off’ abuse.” (p. 419)

Iraq was a great experiment in this mass terror for months. The citizens of Baghdad were subject to sensory depravation on a mass scale:

“…real-time manipulation of sense and inputs… literally ‘turning on and off’ the ‘lights’ that enable any potential aggressor to see or appreciate the conditions and events concerning his forces sand ultimately, his society… depriving the enemy, in specific areas, of the ability to communicate, observe.” (pp. 421-423)

Not only did the bombing terrorize the population, it helped erase Iraq’s cultural history:

“The hundreds of looters who smashed ancient ceramics, stripped display cases and pocketed gold and other antiquities, from the National Museum of Iraq pillaged nothing less than records of the first human society,” reported the Los Angeles Times. (p. 425) “Gone are 80 percent of the museum’s 170,000 priceless objects.”  (p. 425)

And:

“The national library, which contained copies of every book and doctoral thesis ever published in Iraq, was a blackened ruin. Thousand-year-old illuminated Korans had disappeared from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which was left a burned-out shell. ‘Our national heritage is lost,’ pronounced a Baghdad high-school teacher. A local merchant said of the museum, ‘It was the soul of Iraq. If the museum doesn’t recover the looted treasures, I will feel like a part of my own soul has been stolen.’” (p. 425)

Also:

“The Baghdad International Airport was completely trashed by soldiers, who according to Time, smashed furniture and then moved on to the commercial jets on the runway: ‘U.S. soldiers looking for comfortable seats and souvenirs ripped out many of the planes’ fittings, slashed seats, damaged cockpit equipment and popped out every windshield.’ The result was an estimated $100 million worth of damage to Iraq’s national airline — which was one of the first assets to be put on the auction block in an early and contentious partial privatization.” (p. 426)

U.S. troops failed to prevent the looting in most cases. In some cases, troops even joined in. The behavior of U.S. troops mimicked the behavior of the Nazi troops who personally plundered the countries they occupied in World War 2. Despite the danger, it was a bonanza for U.S. troops. Not only could they walk away with Iraq’s wealth in hand, life in the Green Zone was fun and luxurious compared to the surrounding war zone. It was a kind of Disneyland island for the troops and contractors:

“Baghdad’s Green Zone is the starkest example of this world order. It has its own electrical grid, its own phone and sewage systems, its own oil supply and its own state-of-the-art hospital with pristine operating theaters — all protected by five-meter-thick walls. It feels oddly, like a giant fortified Carnival Cruise Ship parked in the middle of a sea of violence and despair, the boiling Red Zone that is Iraq. If you can get on board, there are poolside drinks, bad Hollywood movies and Nautilus machines. If you are not among the chosen, you can get yourself shot by standing too close to the wall.” (pp. 522-523)

The bombing and looting also helped sweep away the old state institutions. Reagan-era bureaucrat and senior economic advisor to Paul Bremer, Peter McPherson was a true Chicago School believer. He did not mind the plunder of the public sector, especially the public education system. The looting of state property did not bother him. He referred to the pillage of the public sector as “shrinkage.” Thus the massive loss of state assets into private pockets was by design, all the better to create a clean slate for nation building. (p. 427) Iraq’s public education system, the best in the region with 89 percent of Iraqis literate, a number higher than much of the United States, was lost within weeks. (p. 428) This was all part of the plan:

“It’s hard to believe — but then again, that was pretty much Washington’s game plan for Iraq: shock and terrorize the entire country, deliberately ruin its infrastructure, do nothing while its culture and history are ransacked, then make it all okay with an unlimited supply of cheap household appliances and imported junk food. In Iraq, this cycle of culture erasing and culture replacing was not theoretical; it all unfolded in a matter of weeks.” (p. 429)

Neoliberals gloated over their new power. Joe Allbraugh, Bush’s ex-FEMA director, remarked that “One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out 30 Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country.” (p. 430) Iraq’s large state firms, or what was left of them, were sold off, two thirds of the employees lost their jobs to make the companies attractive to Western capital. (p. 446) Iraq was flooded by foreign goods. Foreigners bought up factories for very little. (p. 445) Just as Pinochet slashed 25 percent of state employees, so did the imperial occupation de-Baathify the Iraqi state and economy. (p. 444) However, it was not smooth sailing for the neoliberal invaders.

“As is now well known, nothing about Bush’s anti-Marshall Plan went as intended. Iraqis did not see the corporate reconstruction as ‘a gift’; most saw it as a modernized form of pillage, and U.S. corporations didn’t wow anyone with their speed and efficiency; instead they have managed to turn the word ‘reconstruction’ into as one Iraqi engineer put it, ‘a joke that nobody laughs at.’” (p. 442)

The people of Iraq saw their standard of living fall dramatically while foreign contractors and corporations cashed in. Sectarian gangs and death squads roamed the streets. Ethnic and religious conflict tore the country apart. The post-Saddam regime was corrupt and not in control of the country. National liberation, Islamist, and sectarian forces all fought for power. As chaos reigned, it was a free-for-all for foreign corporations who plundered and exploited the economy. The chaos of Iraq, according to Klein, was created by the careful and faithful application of Chicago School ideology. (p. 444)

Natural disasters: Sri Lanka and New Orleans

It is not only coups and wars that can provide the chaos and shock necessary to implement neoliberal restructuring of economies. In recent decades, neoliberals have used the trauma and social dislocation caused by natural disasters to implement their economic vision. 2004 and 2005 were great back-to-back years for neoliberals, but terrible years for humanity. The Asian tsunami and hurricane Katrina devastated populations on two sides of the planet. In December 26, 2004, Sri Lanka was hit by a tsunami that claimed the lives of a quarter million people and left 2.5 million homeless throughout the region. (p. 488)  Prior to the disaster, there was a neoliberal plan called Regaining Sri Lanka.

“Like all such shock therapy plans, Regaining Sri Lanka [the World Bank approved plan] demanded many sacrifice  in the name of kick-starting rapid economic growth. Millions of people would have to leave traditional villages to free up the beaches for tourists and the land for resorts and highways.” (p. 497)

It was defeated at the polls by a “center-left” coalition, but after the tsunami, all bets were off. (p. 498) The tsunami accomplished what could not be done through ordinary channels. It cleared the beach; it created a clean slate sought after by neoliberal reformers. No people, no problem.

“When the tsunami came, it did what the fire couldn’t; it cleared the beach completely. Every single fragile structure was washed away — every boat, every fishing hut, as well as every tourist cabana and bungalow. In a community of only 4,000, about 350 were killed, most of them… who make their living from the sea. And yet, underneath the rubble and the carnage was what the tourism industry had been angling for all along — a pristine beach, scrubbed clean of all the messy signs of people working, a vacation Eden. It was the same up and down the coast: once the rubble was cleared away, what was left was… paradise.

When the emergency subsided and fishing families returned to the spots where their homes once stood, they were greeted by police who forbade them to rebuild. ‘New rules,’ they were told — no homes on the beach, and everything had to be at least two hundred meters back from the high-water mark… The beaches were off-limits.” (p. 490)

Armies of NGOs poured in to keep the lid on social discontent as the neoliberals sold off the beaches to the tourist industry. (p. 494) This would not be the first or last time that natural disasters would create the stage for the radical capitalist reformers. Similarly, the Maldives used the tsunami to clear out its poor people. (pp. 504-506) Earlier, in 1988, Central America was hit by Hurricane Mitch. Water and landslides killed over 9,000 people in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Whole villages were destroyed. With its population in shock, Honduras used the opportunity to push through privatization laws that sold off its airports, seaports and highways and fast-tracked plans to privatize its telephone company, the national electric company, and parts of its water sector. Protections on land were overturned, making it easier for foreign capitalists to buy and push out local and smaller farmers. Environmental standards were lowered. People were evicted from their homes to make way for foreign-owned mines. Similarly, Guatemala used the opportunity to sell off its phone company and Nicaragua sold off its electric company. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund strong-armed Nicaragua by making 4.4 billion in debt relief tied to the implementation of neoliberal policies. (p. 500) “Destruction carries with it an opportunity for foreign investment,” announced Guatemala’s foreign minister on a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1999.

Even people in the United States were not immune to natural disasters or the neoliberal ambulance chasers. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit. Parts of New Orleans was flooded. Images of families, usually from the poorer  and Blacker areas, stranded on roofs were broadcast on TV. Black refugees from the disaster were described and treated by the racist authorities as “looters” and criminals. Over 1,800 people died. There was an estimated 81 billion dollars in property damage. Americans witnessed on their TVs a refugee crisis at home. The football stadium, the Superdome, became a giant refugee camp. The disaster was one of the greatest in the history of the United States. In a propaganda move, even Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro offered help to a hapless United States. The weak state proved itself completely incapable of responding to the disaster.

“There was a brief window of two or three weeks when it seemed that the drowning of New Orleans would provoke a crisis of economic logic that had greatly exacerbated the human disaster with its relentless attack on the public sphere. ‘The storm exposed the consequences of neoliberalism’s lies and mystifications, in a single locale and all at once,’ wrote the political scientist and New Orleans native Adolph Reed Jr. The facts of the exposure are well known — from the levees that failed, to the fact that the city’s idea of disaster preparedness was passing out DVDs telling people that if a hurricane came, they should get out of town.” (p. 516)

In the previous year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had turned down a request by the State of Louisiana to develop a contingency plan in case of a hurricane.

“Just as the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq turned out to be an empty shell, when Katrina hit, so did the U.S. federal government at home. In fact, it was so thoroughly absent that FEMA could not seem to locate the New Orleans superdome, where twenty-three thousand people were stranded without food or water, despite the fact that the world media had ben there for days.” (p. 517)

Baghdad’s Green Zone was recreated in New Orleans:

“Within weeks, the Gulf Coast became a domestic laboratory for the same kind of government-run-by-contractors that had been pioneered in Iraq. The companies that snatched up the biggest contracts were the familiar Baghdad gang: Halliburton’s KBR unit had a $60 million gig to reconstruct military bases along the coast. Blackwater was hired to protect FEMA employees from looters. Parsons, infamous for its sloppy Iraq work, was brought in for a major bridge project in Mississippi. Flour, Shaw, Bechtel, CH2M Hill — all top contractors in Iraq — were hired by the government to provide mobile homes to evacuees just ten days after the levees broke. Their contracts ended up totaling $3.4 billion, no open bidding required.” (p. 519)

The American population was getting a taste, albeit a small one, of what its government and corporations were dishing out across the Third World. Even populations in the United States, which are generally some of the most advantaged and wealthiest in the world, were hit by neoliberal policies. Attacks on the disadvantaged were being carried out under the name of relief both abroad and in the United States. (p. 522)

In most places, despite attempts to quash resistance, these neoliberal attacks did not go unanswered. Across the Third World, progressive forces mobilized against the imperialists and their agents. They recognized that their interests were fundamentally opposed to the policies being foisted upon them. In Latin America, the dictatorships  were always challenged by an array of forces, including armed guerrillas. Today’s resurgence of the nationalist left in Latin America can be seen as a response to the failure of neoliberalism. The Iraqi population, both Sunni and Shia, responded to defend themselves from the imperialist occupiers. This kind of resistance was not witnessed among people in the United States. Even with the decline of the traditional social-safety net and economic decline, most Americans, even those most victimized by the system, still identify with the system itself. They still correctly see themselves as having more to lose by opposing the system than by supporting it. What Katrina showed is that even in the face of a huge crisis and failed state, that most Americans will still side with their system. Even the small and marginal populist movements within the United States, like Occupy, framed their opposition to neoliberalism mostly within the capitalist-imperialist framework. Rather than rejecting Americanism, capitalism, imperialism and First Worldism, Occupiers framed their demands as a way to save America, as a return to a capitalism uncorrupted by corporations and cronyism, as a return to a happier time, the era of the Democratic Party of FDR. Anti-imperialism is mostly an afterthought, if that, among U.S. populists. Only handfuls framed their dissent as an opposition to capitalism, inequality, and unsustainability as such. Most frame their opposition as an attempt to preserve their First World privilege, not reject it.

911

George W. Bush’s administration represented the continuing privatization of the public sector in the United States. The elimination of and contracting out of state services had been a trend long before the administration of George W. Bush. Both the Republican and Democratic Party since Reagan had supported the downsizing of the public sector. Clinton’s administration, like George Bush’s before him, embraced the corporatization of the public sector. However, it was under the administration of George W. Bush that the downsizing was elevated to a matter of principle. Bush II corporatism went back to his days as governor of Texas. George W. Bush in his prior role as governor of Texas did not distinguish himself in too many ways. According to Klein:

“[T]here was one area in which he excelled: parceling out to private interests the various functions of government he was elected to run — especially security related functions, a preview of the privatized War on Terror he would soon unleash. Under his watch, the number of private prisons in Texas grew from twenty-six to forty-two, prompting The American Prospect magazine to call Bush’s Texas ‘the world capital of the private-prison industry.’” (p. 371)

Similarly, top Bush Jr. appointees were drawn from circles of neoliberal ideologues and the corporate world. Donald Rumsfeld when he was appointed Secretary of Defense under Bush Jr had a personal fortune of over 250 million dollars. He spent decades in top positions of multi-national corporations. He had a personal relationship with Milton Friedman, who he considered a friend and teacher. Rumsfeld saw himself as representing the new economy and new neoliberal state. The neoliberals were on a mission and so was Rumsfeld. He was a man on a mission to reinvent the Pentagon and modern warfare. He would head up a controversial program to cut and slash the public sector within the military. He did not cut the military budget though. Under Bush Jr., it increased significantly. However, he headed up a program to hollow out the military, to contract out as much military work as possible. Bush Jr. said of his defense secretary, “Don’s work in these areas did not often make the headlines. But the reforms that set in motion — that he has set in motion — are historic.” (p. 358) Klein describes the neoliberalization of the state:

“During the 1990s, many companies that had traditionally manufactured their own products and maintained large, stable workforces embraced what became known as the Nike model: don’t own any factories, produce your own products through an intricate web of contractors and subcontractors, and pour your resources into design and marketing. Other companies opted for the alternative, Microsoft model: maintain a tight control center of shareholder/employees who perform the company’s ‘core competency’ and outsource everything else to temps, from running the mailroom to writing code. Some called companies that underwent these radical restructurings ‘hollow corporations’ because they were mostly form, with little tangible content left over.” (p. 359)

She continues:

“Rumsfeld saw the army shedding large numbers of full-time troops in favor of a small core of staffers propped up by cheaper temporary soldiers from the Reserve and National Guard. Meanwhile, contractors from companies such as Blackwater and Halliburton would perform duties ranging from high-risk chauffeuring to prisoner interrogation to catering to health care. And where corporations poured their savings on labor into design and marketing, Rumsfeld would spend his savings from fewer troops and tanks on the latest satellite and nanotechnology from the private sector.” (p. 360)

Milton Friedman had always been disappointed that Ronald Reagan had not chosen Rumsfeld for the Vice Presidency. Like other members of Bush Jr.’s administration, Vice President Dick Cheney was a champion of neoliberal reform:

“Dick Cheney, a protégé of Rumsfeld’s in the Ford administration, has also built a fortune based on the profitable prospect of a grim future, though where Rumsfeld saw a boom in plagues, Cheney was banking on the future of war. As secretary of defense under Bush Sr., Cheney scaled down the number of active troops and dramatically increased reliance on private contractors. He contracted Brown & Root, the engineering division of the Houston-based multinational Halliburton, to identify tasks being performed by U.S. troops that could be taken over by the private sector for a profit. Not surprisingly, Halliburton identified all kinds of jobs that the private sector could perform, and those findings led to a bold new Pentagon contract: the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP. The Pentagon was notorious for its multi-billion-dollar contracts with weapons manufactures, but this was something new: not supplying the military with gear but serving as manager for its operations.” (p. 367)

Cheney was very connected to Halliburton. During the Clinton administration, Cheney was head of Halliburton. Under his leadership, Halliburton sought to transform the nature of war along neoliberal lines. Halliburton would provide all the infrastructure of war. The Pentagon need only supply bodies, the troops.

“The result, first on display in the Balkans, was a kind of McMilitary experience in which deploying abroad resembled a heavily armed and perilous package vacation. ‘The first person to greet our soldiers as they arrive in the Balkans and the last to wave goodbye is one of our employees,’ a Halliburton spokesperson explained, making the company’s staff sound more like cruise directors than army logistics coordinators. That was the Halliburton difference: Cheney saw no reason why war shouldn’t be a thriving part of America’s highly profitable service economy — invasion with a simple.

In the Balkans, where Clinton deployed nineteen thousand soldiers, U.S. bases sprang up as mini Halliburton cities: neat, gated suburbs, built and run entirely by the company. And Halliburton was committed to providing the troops with all the comforts of home, including fast-food outlets, supermarkets, movie theaters and high-tech gyms. Some senior officers wondered what the strip-malling of the military would do to troop discipline — but they too were enjoying the perks. ‘Everything with Halliburton was gold-plated,’ one told me. ‘So we weren’t complaining.’” (pp. 368-369)

Cheney’s family was involved in the selling off of the public sector. His wife, Lynne, was earning from stock options from her work as a board member of Lockheed Martin, which in the mid-nineties, began taking over the information technology divisions of the U.S. government, including running its computer systems and data management. (pp. 369-370) The Bush Jr. administration’s selling off of the state would get a new boost with the events of 9/11.

The events of 9/11 was a shock that allowed the Bush jr. administration, and later Obama’s, to streamline the corporatization of society. The population demanded a response, the neoliberals answered. They had long planned the neoliberal reorganization of the world economies. They had long planned for a war against Iraq. Now, they were able to go forward with little opposition at home. The United States had lost its Cold War opponents. Now,  the United States had a new enemy. It was fighting a new, endless, open-ended “War on Terror.” It was this war that would be used to justify neoliberal restructuring in the United States and abroad.

“Although the stated goal was fighting terrorism, the effect was the creation of the disaster capitalism complex — a full-fledged new economy in homeland security, privatized war and disaster reconstruction tasked with nothing less than building and running a privatized security state, both at home and abroad. The economic stimulus of this sweeping initiative proved enough to pick up the slack where globalization and the dot-com booms had left off. Just as the Internet had launched the dot-com bubble, 9/11 launched the disaster capitalism bubble.” (p. 377)

This resulted in a corporate free for all:

“That was the business prospectus that the Bush administration put before corporate America after September 11. The revenue stream was a seemingly bottomless supply of tax dollars to be funneled from the Pentagon ($270 billion a year to private contractors, a $137 billion increase since Bush took office); U.S. intelligence agencies ($42 billion a year to contractors for outsourced intelligence, more than double 1995 levels); and the newest arrival, the Department of Homeland Security. Between September 11, 2001 and 2006, the Department of Homeland Security handed out $130 billion to private contractors — money that was not in the economy before and that is more than the GDP of Chile or the Czech Republic. In 2003, the Bush administration spent $327 billion to private companies — nearly 40 cents of every discretionary dollar.” (p. 380)

Billions of dollars was spent on new security cameras. 4.2 million security cameras were installed in Britain, one per every 14 people; 30 million in the United States. New software and technologies, such as facial recognition were developed and purchased. Snooping boomed: wiretapping, phone logs, financial records, mail, internet, and cameras. New information technology developed. New security systems. Prisons were expanded or adapted to suit the needs of this new war. The most famous is the Guantanamo maximum-security prison. (pp. 382-384) This boom had a special effect on the Mexican border. The border became even further militarized as a result of the war on terror. More security, more cameras, more personnel, more fencing. Today, even drones are used by the United States to monitor unauthorized crossings. More and more jobs in security, prisons, and policing. And the United States turned to Israel, who had already been waging their war on terror for decades. The same technologies used against the Arab populations there were adapted for use by the United States. The United States would copy Israeli’s cutting-edge methods and technologies of oppression. “[B]ig business and big government [are] combining their formidable powers to regulate and control the citizenry.” (p. 388)

Power, not intelligent design

The instability and chaos of today has been good for business, at least some business. This has always been true to some extent within the capitalist system. War profiteering is an ancient enterprise. However, because some disasters have been so big as to threaten the whole system, the capitalists put in place stabilizing institutions. World War 1 was part of a world crisis that opened up the possibility of the Bolshevik revolution and the first sustained wave of proletarian revolution. Similarly, the Maoist revolution in China and the other social revolutions that piggybacked on anti-imperialist struggles occurred in the context of a world system weakened by both the Great Depression and World War 2. Since that time, capitalists and imperialist states sought to create ways to stabilize the system. The growth of the UN and other global institutions after World War 2 was part of this effort. Globalization, the growth of transnational corporations, transnational capital, NGOs, charities, and other intuitions etc. also was thought to help prevent chaos. Stability was seen as profitable for the most part. Not so for the neoliberals:

“For decades, the conventional wisdom was that generalized mayhem was a drain on the global economy. Individual shocks and crises could be harnessed as leverage to force open new markets, of course, but after the initial shock had done its work, relative peace and stability were required for sustained economic growth. That was the accepted explanation for why the nineties had been such prosperous years: with the Cold War over, economies were liberated to concentrate on trade and investment, and as countries became more enmeshed and interdependent, they were far less likely to bomb each other.” (p. 536)

So dramatic has the disaster profiteering been today that conspiracy theories dominate public discourse as never before:

“The recent spate of disasters has translated into such spectacular profits that many people around the world have come to the same conclusion: the rich and powerful must be deliberately causing the catastrophes so that they can exploit them. In July 2006, a national poll of U.S. residents found that more than a third of respondents believed that the government had a hand in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop them ‘because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.’ Similar suspicions dog most of the catastrophes of recent years. In Louisiana in the aftermath of Katrina, the shelters were alive with rumors that the levees hadn’t broken but had been covertly blown up in order ‘to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry,’ as the Nation of Islam’s leader Louis Farrakhan, suggested. In Sri Lanka I often heard that the tsunami had been caused by underwater explosions detonated by the United States so that it could send troops into Southeast Asia and take full control over the region’s economies…The truth is at once less sinister and more dangerous. An economic system that requires constant growth, while bucking almost all serious attempts at environmental regulation, generates a steady stream of disasters all on its own, whether military, ecological or financial. The appetite for easy, short-term profits offered by purely speculative investment has turned the stock, currency and real estate markets into crisis-creation machines, as the Asian financial crisis, the Mexican peso crisis and the dot-com collapse all demonstrate. Our common addiction to dirty, nonrenewable energy sources keeps other kinds of emergencies coming: natural disasters (up 430 percent since 1975) and wars waged for control over scarce resources (not just Iraq and Afghanistan but lower-intensity conflicts such as those that rage in Nigeria, Colombia and Sudan), which in turn create terrorist blowback…” (p. 539)

It is true that those with power sometimes consciously create disasters and exploit them, as in the case of Chile or Indonesia. However, the popular idea that there is one over-arching plot is inaccurate and counter-productive. Many conspiracy theories parallel the Christian outlook of so-called “intelligent design.” Christians often will see the patterns in nature, then they conclude that such a natural order must be the work of a creator. In 1802, the theologian William Paley argued that because a watch contains order that is a result of a designer so too nature’s order must be the result of God. Christians, extrapolating on Aristotle, argued that animals and plants were perfectly fit to their environments and each other. Thus, they argued, there must be intelligence behind it all. As early as David Hume, writing in the mid-1700s, intelligent design was challenged. Hume argued that order in nature can be a result of simple processes. This can be seen in snowflake formation or crystal generation. This idea would be confirmed later in biology with the publication On the Origin of Species in 1859. Charles Darwin showed how order could arise in species from simple, natural processes over great periods of time, creating the illusion of intelligent design. The order found in animal and plant kingdoms is a result of natural selection over millions of years.

Just as Christians see patterns in nature, conspiracy theorists see patterns in society and events. Both look for a non-existent single creator, a God or Illuminati, to explain the world or society. Such a view is inaccurate and unscientific. Karl Marx, the founder of revolutionary science, admired the work of Charles Darwin. Just as Darwin showed how evolution in nature results form wholly natural laws, so did Marx show how the order and evolution of society can be explained similarly, by material laws. Instead of looking for a master conspiracy or master plotter, revolutionary scientists examine the social forces and systems that produce such events. Even if an Illuminati, a master plotter, did exist, its members’ actions would still be largely determined over the long-term by their position in the power structure, by class, gender, national, etc. interests. In other words, even if there were an Illuminati, explanations that referred to individual plotters would be largely superfluous to scientific explanation of society. In addition, such conspiracy-theory approaches are disempowering. They encourage the masses to look at revolution and social change through a police paradigm instead of a power paradigm. Even if one knew who the make-believe Illuminati were, it is not as though one could go arrest and put them on trial. Instead, such theories mystify power and make the masses powerless victims of an all-powerful plot. By contrast, the power paradigm teaches the masses to apply revolutionary science, to unite the social forces necessary for revolution, to build New Power, to seize power, to create a new mode of production, to redesign all of society in order to reach Leading Light Communism, the end all systematic oppression.

The principal contradiction

The Shock Doctrine is well worth reading. Klein’s book is full of detailed information about neoliberalism and its disasters. It convincingly argues that the neoliberalism has features and implications that differ from other configurations of capitalism. Neoliberal restructuring, whether in the First or Third World, is a kind of radical act that is bound up with disaster and crisis. Klein argues that few have escaped negative consequences of the shift from traditional Keynesian capitalism and social democracy to neoliberalism. Third World and Second World peoples have suffered under terrible radical-capitalist economic policies implemented at bayonet point in places like Indonesia, Chile, in parts of the old Eastern Bloc, China and elsewhere. First World peoples have suffered too, as their social-democratic programs have been ended, as their welfare states have been downsized, as their public sector has been sold off, as their infrastructure deteriorates. If Klein were to name a principal contradiction in the world, it would be the contradiction between neoliberalism versus Keynesianism, the corporatist state versus the social-democratic one. Klein’s politics foreshadow the Occupy movement’s populism and social-democratic reformism. Klein’s outlook corresponds to the politics that views the world as one where corporate elites and their allies rule over the global population, the one percent versus the 99. Whereas it is true that neoliberal policies since the 1990s have, at times, resulted in a fall in the standard of living for populations in the United States, the loss of privilege that neoliberalism inflicts on First World peoples is nothing compared to the pain and death inflicted on Third World peoples. On the whole, whether under traditional Keynesianism or neoliberalism, First World populations receive far more than a fair share of the global social product while Third World populations receive less. The First World standard of living is not even sustainable, to maintain it is incompatible with socialism and communism. The vast majority of humanity is exploited along with future generations and the Earth to maintain the First World standard of living. This is true under neoliberalism and social democracy. Whether corporations are at the head or state bureaucracies, First World populations mostly benefit from the continued existence of capitalism. Third World populations, by contrast, have a more immediate interest in the radical reorganization of society along egalitarian and sustainable lines in order to reach Leading Light Communism, the end of all systematic oppression. Klein’s outlook assumes a unity that simply does not exist between First World and Third World populations against corporations. By adopting such an outlook, her politics does not just misunderstand the balance of forces globally, her politics panders to First World populism, liberalism, social-democratic imperialism. Although she would surely count herself an anti-imperialist in most cases, such politics puts opposition to imperialism on the back burner while stroking populism that seeks to preserve and increase First World privilege, which is based on imperialist exploitation of the Third World. In the United States, it ends up ultimately channeling energy into the Democratic Party, which is the only reformist game in town for social democrats. They end up providing grassroots cover for imperialist war in exchange for domestic reform. This can end up fanning up the flames of fascism and social fascism. Klein also overlooks the possibility that neoliberal restructuring may, as some of its proponents claim, be necessary to maintain First World privilege, that old-style social-democratic imperialism is no longer viable. This is the case in parts of Eastern Europe where standards of living have, in some cases, gone up due to integration into Western imperialism despite neoliberal conditions placed upon their economies. Neoliberal restructuring in the First World may be part of a package that, in the long term, benefits First World peoples even if it subjects them to a loss of privilege. Klein is blind to these possibilities. The reality is that, on the whole, First World peoples, when push comes to shove, will align with their own system be it Keynesian or neoliberal against Third World peoples. Even if neoliberalism ends up reducing the privileges of First World populations, it does not do so to such an extent that they break left toward proletarian internationalism en masse. First World populations have more unity with their own bosses than they do with workers, peasants and lumpen in the Third World. This is one reason that the principal contradiction is the First World versus the Third World. For this reason, the principal form of revolutionary resistance is not networks of social-justice movements and street protests in the First World, but anti-imperialist and Leading Light people’s wars in the Third World. Although Klein’s book is useful in explaining the neoliberal turn amongst imperialists, it falls far short of revolutionary science, of Leading Light Communism.

Source

Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine (Picador,USA:2007)

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq

(llco.org) islamic_state_of_iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Al Qaeda in Iraq, Islamic State in Iraq, ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic State) has gone through numerous incarnations. In the past, it was known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” And today, its leader, previously known as “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” calls himself “Caliph Ibrahim,” the supreme leader of a new, landlocked Sunni caliphate that spans the Sunni areas of northern Iraq and northern Syria. He has declared that it is the duty of all Muslims to support and follow him and his Islamic State. To understand the nature of the ISIS, it is important to understand its methods, its history, its social base, its role in the class struggle.

It was under the previous leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS, developed its highly sectarian strategy. The main targets of ISIS’ sectarianism are the Shia, other non-Sunni populations, and oppressed nationalities such as the Kurds. When ISIS was known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” they pursued a strategy of seeking to cause a civil war between the Sunni and Shia in Iraq, a strategy that continues to this day. The 2006 attack on the Al ‘Askarī Shrine, one of the holiest sites in all of Shia Islam, was attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Although they denied responsibility after a backlash of public opinion against them, the attack on the shrine fits with a pattern of attacks on Shia mosques, shrines, and other non-Sunni holy sites that continues to this day. ISIS’ approach prioritizes sectarian attacks and immediate imposition of sharia, Islamic law, over any other conflicts. In 2005, even the emir of Al Qaeda central, Ayman al Zawahiri, questioned the prioritization of sectarianism Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“We must repeat what we mentioned previously, that the majority of Muslims don’t comprehend this and possibly could not even imagine it. For that reason, many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia. The sharpness of this questioning increases when the attacks are on one of their mosques, and it increases more when the attacks are on the mausoleum of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib, may God honor him. My opinion is that this matter won’t be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it, and aversion to this will continue.

Indeed, questions will circulate among Mujahideen circles and their opinion makers about the correctness of this conflict with the Shia at this time. Is it something that is unavoidable? Or, is it something can be put off until the force of the Mujahideen movement in Iraq gets stronger? And if some of the operations were necessary for self-defense, were all of the operations necessary? Or, were there some operations that weren’t called for?” (1)

At the time, ISIS’s strategy hoped to create chaos in order to cause a US withdrawal from Iraq. Despite their rhetoric and actions, their opposition to imperialism was not principled. They were not opposed to imperialism per se, rather they are opposed to their and the Iraqi Sunni population’s relatively weak position within the imperial system. Their armed struggle was not to throw off the yoke of imperialism, but it was ultimately about elevating themselves and those they represent within the empire. Their armed struggle would become a kind of armed reformism, an armed negotiation, with empire. Even if this was not clear at the beginnings of their movement, it is certainly clear with hindsight.

ISIS’ terror is not just directed at the Shia. ISIS has carried out genocidal policies against non-Sunnis along with a terror imposed on its own Sunni constituency. Eventually, the tide turned against “Al Qaeda in Iraq” when their own Sunni constituency revolted against them around 2007. This is referred to as the “Sunni Awakening” in the imperial media. This resulted from imperial bribes offered to Sunni tribes and it resulted from a backlash against ISIS’ sectarianism and harsh imposition of sharia: banning many traditional practices, censorship, beatings, executions, notorious beheadings, bombing of civilians. This sectarian strategy continued as ISIS intervened in the Syrian civil war. During the Syrian civil war, ISIS quickly marginalized other rebel factions, including other jihadi groups, who were fighting the Assad regime. As the most effective sect, they carved out a semi-state governed by sharia that spanned the Sunni areas of northern Syria and Iraq. Similar to their actions in Iraq, their genocidal, sectarian strategy in Syria targeted Alawi, Shia, Christian, and Kurdish populations with terror and violence. The sectarianism of the Syrian rebel groups was often met with sectarian violence on the part of the Assad regime against Sunni populations in places like Aleppo, where the regime indiscriminately bombed and shelled the population.

IS-300x192In 2014, ISIS was ascending rapidly. They declared themselves the new Sunni caliphate and their leader declared himself Caliph of the “Islamic State.” After stabilizing their hold on parts of northern Syria, they played a major part in overrunning significant parts of Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit. The rapid rise of the Islamic State was aided by many factors. The Arab Spring has inspired populations to rise up across the region. It was the weakness of the central states of Iraq and Syria that also allowed ISIS to quickly gain power. ISIS was able to fill the power vacuum and able to exploit longstanding anger amongst Sunnis. The sectarian nature of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq played a major role. The Assad regime in Syria has its support disproportionately amongst the non-Sunni populations; the Assad regime’s support is greater amongst the Alawi, Shia, Christian, Kurds, and others. Assad’s military, for example, is dominated by his Alawi sect. Unofficial pro-regime paramilitaries and mafias known as “Shabab” or “ghosts” carry out sectarian attacks on behalf of the regime. They too are dominated by the Alawi. Even more so, the Maliki regime in Iraq is based disproportionately on Shia support in the south of the country. The policies of the Maliki regime have driven both the Sunnis and the Kurds into rebellion against it. In 2011, even before the ascendency of the Islamic State, the Maliki regime declared its own Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi a criminal and enemy. The Maliki regime was so sectarian and weak that it could not even get its Kurdish population to hand over their countryman after Tariq al-Hashimi went into hiding in the Kurdish areas. The Kurdish Peshmerga, which is ostensibly setup to defend Kurish borders in Iraq, have established a presence in disputed lands. For a long time, they have set up bases here and there in the disputed areas to match the presence of the security forces from the central state. Iraqi’s central state also had limited reach into the Sunni areas, areas that began to see the sectarian Maliki regime as an occupying force. It is because of the sectarian policies of the Maliki regime that the Islamic State was able to again gain the support of those same Sunni tribal leaders who had turned against ISIS years before during the “Sunni Awakening” around 2007.  In their recent surprise offensive, the Islamic State was able to briefly gain the support of Baathist elements in Iraq, remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime that continue to suffer persecution, whose base of support is the Sunni population. The Special Republican Guards were never fully committed to battle at the time of the US invasion. And Saddam Hussein’s body-guard network and special operations are thought to have remained intact. Many of the Baathist specialists that had fled to neighboring countries at the time of the US invasion have now returned. (2) Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who occupied the Vice-Presidency and Deputy Chairmanship of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussein, is now heading Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandi, or the Army of the Men of the Naqshband. This group, which has its roots in Baathist networks and Sufi Islamic orders, was a key player, along with ISIS, in overrunning Maliki’s state security forces recently. (3) There was much speculation that the disintegration of Maliki’s security forces was part of a conspiracy amongst some of its officers, possibly officers with connections to the old Baathist regime. However, these victories over the Maliki regime are now being undermined. Once again ISIS is imposing its harsh, unpopular Islamic order on the Sunni population and ISIS is also trying to eliminate its rival groups amongst the Sunni population of Iraq. Now the Iraqi Sunni groups have begun fighting amongst each other again. It is highly doubtful the Islamic State will be able to conquer the Kurdish areas or push deep into Alawi and Shia territory in Syria or Iraq. In both Syria and Iraq respectively, the Assad regime and Maliki regimes, along with Shia militias, are slowly pushing back, retaking territory.

The Islamic State’s victories, though dramatic, should not be overstated. Its victories are not based on popular support. The Islamic State demands obedience and the immediate transformation of society. ISIS is a commandist organization with little mass line. This is reflected in their terrorist attacks on civilians. Cities occupied by the Islamic State are sometimes depopulated or underpopulated when ISIS arrives. ISIS has created a stream of refugees from many areas it has conquered. It is not just Shia, Christians, and non-Sunnis fleeing, but also Sunnis fleeing the Islamic State’s sharia. Even their declaration of the caliphate and demand that all jihadis pledge loyalty to them has been criticized as a case of extreme overreaching. Other salafists worry that ISIS will end up discrediting the effort at bringing a viable caliphate into being. They are skeptical that a small, landlocked caliphate without oil spanning northern Iraq and Syria is viable. The population also wonders how such a state would create prosperity for its citizens, especially with such powerful neighbors like Iran. The Islamic State does not like questions. Those groups that oppose the Islamic State are muscled into submission. For example, ISIS declared a merger, that the Syrian Nusra Front be absorbed into its ranks. When the Nusra Front refused, the Islamic State responded militarily, even assassinating high ranking jihadi leaders. Al Qaeda central sought to mediate. They sided with Nusra Front. They declared the merger null and void. The Islamic State ignored attempts at mediation by Al Qaeda central. Instead, they declared the merger would go through. ISIS began to militarily enforce its dominance over Nusra Front. ISIS split from Al Qaeda central. This is why the Islamic State is often described as “too extreme for Al Qaeda” in the Western press. Even the Taliban in Afghanistan have warned the Islamic State to “avoid extremism.” (4)  The Islamic State is not patient with the its rivals or the population. Salafists in many countries have criticized the Islamic State’s pretenses and its attacks on Sunni imams and scholars who disagree with them. Such conflict is not new. There is a long tradition of conflict between autocratic caliphs versus Islamic scholars, a conflict going back at least to the Umayyad dynasty. (5) Even if the Islamic State advances the cause, many scholars feel they are being cut out by a transfer of authority from themselves to the new Caliph. Such errors reflect the Islamic State’s non-proletarian origin.

The rise of the Islamic State is also connected to geopolitical conflicts favorable to it. ISIS has benefited from the regional struggle for hegemony between Iran, Hezbollah, the Assad regime, and, to an extent, the Maliki regime versus the Gulf states, Israel, and, to a lesser extent, Turkey, Jordan, and others. The Islamic State established itself early on as the most viable opposition to the Assad regime and it has established itself as a strong opponent of the Maliki regime. The high profile nature of the conflicts drew people to its ranks from all over the world. The Islamic State has the ideological credentials and military capacity so that jihadis from all over the world to swell its ranks. Their internationalism not only brought them foot soldiers, cannon fodder for the struggle, but also brought them expertise and sophistication. For example, the Islamic State’s agitprop, internet and media production is some of the most sophisticated of any insurgent force. The ISIS brand fires the imaginations of armchair jihadis everywhere, especially in the Gulf States, who provide ISIS with an endless supply of private funds. Also, the Gulf State regimes have channeled massive military and monetary aid to Sunni rebels in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, Israel, Jordan, European countries, and the United States have channeled aid to Syrian Sunni factions as well. The United States and Jordan even established a camp to train the Syrian rebels in advanced tactics and weaponry, possibly including chemical weapons. (6) Even if this aid is not always directly sent to ISIS, it often ends up in their hands since other groups are too weak to hold onto the materials, or are mafia organizations that resell the aid, or fronts for ISIS. And in some cases, states send aid directly to the Islamic State, which is why ISIS is accused of being a proxy for Qatar or Saudi Arabia. Like other Islamist forces, the Islamic State is partially a product of geopolitical conflicts. Western imperialists and their allies have a history of channeling training and resources to Islamist movements in order to undermine Soviet-backed movements and leftist movements. The most well-known example is the effort by the United States and Pakistan to support the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the pro-Soviet forces. Some of these mujahideen evolved into Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Later, the United States came into conflict with these forces, even deposing the Taliban’s state and occupying Afghanistan. Today, the United States is still fighting the Taliban and claims to be fighting Al Qaeda. Also, the Pakistani state sometimes comes into conflict with its own Islamists, including the Pakistani Taliban, which have connections to their deposed neighbors in Afghanistan. There is an opportunist relationship between the First World imperialists, their regional hegemonic allies, and certain Islamists. The Islamists are propped up by these regimes as a way for the regimes advance their First Worldist or hegemonic interests. The Islamists welcome any support as a way to advance themselves. The extreme sectarian nature of the jihadi ideology allows such movements to engage in opportunism that justifies any alliance with any force, which often leads them into alliances with imperialists and Zionists. Big imperialists and Israel channeled support to Sunni Islamists as a way to undermine pan-Arabism, leftist resistance movements, and Shia movements that come into conflict with their interests. The  Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood and also the Saudi regime conspired to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser multiple times. Even though the main face of Palestinian resistance today is Islamist, Islamists received support as part of Israel’s effort to weaken the Palestinian movement, which was then dominated by nationalists and leftists. (7) Some speculate that the new Caliph Ibrahim of the Islamic State, the supreme leader of ISIS, received training by the United States, Britain, and the Israeli Mossad. (8) At one point, the United States had him in custody in Camp Bucca, but he was released around 2010. (9) Many speculate that he was released because he had been a US, British, or Mossad asset. It is also possible that his detention was part of a long-term effort to give him a credible back story as an imperial deep agent who could also use his incarceration to network with jailed jihadis.

Some Islamists are straight-up agents of imperialism. However, it is important to note that although numerous Islamic groups have received imperialist support and have sometimes aligned with the imperialists, it is simplistic to believe they are all simply agents of imperialism. Although some Islamists often act as mercenaries for imperialists, they are often conflicted about it. It is also important to understand that not all Islamist movements are the same. Not only are there differences between Shia and Sunni groups, there are also important differences between Sunni groups. Movements like Hezbollah are very different from ISIS. Movements like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, for example, are very different than movements like the Islamic State. The former, for example, are playing a more progressive role in the region as they resist imperialism. The latter, the Islamic State, may spout anti-imperialist rhetoric, may come into some conflict with imperialism, but ends up serving imperialism in the big picture.

The Islamic State is a complex movement. It voices some of the injustice suffered by the Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq. No doubt, it expresses some legitimate grievances. However, ultimately, this is not the principal aspect of the Islamic State. And its rule has proven very unpopular even with the Sunni population. The Sunnis are its victims too. Although it has come into limited conflict with imperialism in Iraq, the Islamic State is not mainly an agent of the Sunni national bourgeoisie coming into conflict with imperialism as some might suppose. If anything, ISIS has come into conflict with the Sunni bourgeoisie represented by the old Iraqi Baathists on numerous occasions. On the whole, the Islamic State represents very backward segments of the Sunni populations of Syria and Iraq, comprador segments propped up by the Gulf States and other imperialists, along with segments of the petty bourgeoisie and intelligencia, along with very backward jihadis — some ideological, some mercenary — from around the globe. ISIS is willing to align with an imperialism that tolerates its fascist and semi-feudal social program. They are a comprador force, agents of empire, even though they spout an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist rhetoric. They are an extension of imperial capital aligned with local reactionary classes and globe-trotting mercenaries and ideologues from various strata. They are a response and contributor to a crisis situation in the region. Their rule is openly terrorist and  barbaric. However, their Islamist ideological commitments make it such that, although they serve imperialism overall, they are unpredictable and fall into limited conflict with the imperialists at times. The proxy war of which the Islamic State is playing a big role is part of the imperialist strategy to divide and conquer the region. Sectarian war is a way to divide masses. It is a way to create regional chaos. Syria and Iraq may be split into smaller states organized around sectarian lines, making it harder to resist imperialism.  The end result will be that the entire region will be weaker.  And Israel will be able to rest easily knowing that its main opponents, Iran and Iran’s allies, are occupied fighting the Sunni groups and their backers, especially ISIS and the Gulf states. Israel is so confident in its position that it is currently involved in an invasion of Gaza involving tens of thousands of troops, possibly an effort at full reoccupation. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded in the past few days while ISIS attacks Shia and other Sunni groups in Iraq and Syria. One online site claiming to represent ISIS stated it is not interested in attacking Israel anytime soon:

“We haven’t given orders to kill the Israelis and the Jews. The war against the nearer enemy, those who rebel against the faith, is more important. Allah commands us in the Koran to fight the hypocrites, because they are much more dangerous than those who are fundamentally heretics.” (10)

That says something about the Islamic State’s priorities. The Islamic State has also attacked the Kurdish populations aligned with the Kurdish Workers’ Party, thus serving Turkey, which is part of NATO. Even though their overall actions serve the United States, Europe, and the First World generally, the Islamic State has come into conflict with the United States in Iraq. Even though the Gulf States are part of the same First World bloc with the United States, even though they share the same regional interests, they have different policies toward the Maliki regime in Iraq. Thus different parts of the imperial allies are supporting different forces in the Iraqi civil war. Thus both sides of the conflict are being played by the Western-Gulf State imperialists. In a sense, ISIS represents a “Plan B” comprador force in Iraq. The United States would prefer to deal with a comprador regime with more liberal, modern flavor, some degree of women’s rights, an outward appearance of multi-national and religious tolerance. However, the Maliki regime is not delivering, which is why Hillary Clinton recently conveyed the US desire to see Maliki resign as a step to forming a new “national unity government.”  Plus, Iran’s involvement in Iraq makes it even more difficult to follow through with neocon nation-building fantasies there. If the imperialists can’t get a liberal comprador regime out of the Maliki, there is always the alternative, a comprador Sunni-fascist ISIS waiting in the wings. If imperialism with a liberal face fails, there is always imperialism with a fascist, feudalist face. “Plan A” doesn’t work, go with “Plan B.” Or, the imperialists will just try to split the country in order to divide and conquer. In other words, their outlook is to support all sides through multiple channels so that no matter who wins, the imperialists  win.

It is important to look beneath the surface. Just because an organization spouts anti-imperialist rhetoric and brandishes automatic weapons does not make them anti-imperialist nor progressive. Imperialism orchestrates and supports many non-state actors around the world in order to further its purposes. The Islamic State is a movement that commits genocide against non-Sunnis and non-Arabs in the region. Alawi, Shia, Christians, Kurds, and others are hunted down and butchered. Areas are depopulated. Their art, culture, holy sites, their places of worship, destroyed. Not unlike other fascist movements, the property of the persecuted is appropriated by ISIS to distribute to its fighters and supporters. Where they have power, they inflict terror on the very Sunni population they claim to represent. Sunni refugees also flee the Islamic State just as others do. Sharia is implemented. Those who do not follow every aspect of Islamic law can be beaten, tortured, or killed. Those who forget to pray are made examples of. Those who have extra-martial affairs are beaten or killed. Censorship is the order of the day. Books and cigarettes are banned and burned in huge bonfires. Young girls and women are kidnapped, forced into marriage, and raped as spoils of war. Women are silenced, their motions restricted, their rights are stripped of them. Women are turned into mere property. ISIS fighters hold themselves to another standard than the populations they control. They see themselves as better and above ordinary people. The fighters act with arbitrary terror against the populations. They do what they wish and take what they wish. They kill who they wish. Beheadings and crusifictions are commonplace. Anything and everything is permitted in the name of advancing Islam. Hypocrisy and corruption are rampant. At the same time, the Islamic State serves the interests of those regimes most closely allied to the United States. They serve and are propped up by the Gulf States, Israel, Turkey, and, indirectly, the United States and European countries. The Islamic State is a hypocritic, corrupt, destructive, oppressive force serving imperialism.

There are many false paths. There are many false leaders. There are many masks that the system hides behind. We must dare to remove the masks. The masses will see through the lies. Islam is not the answer. Fantasies about restoring a feudal, Islamic golden age are lies. Filling the heads of the population with superstition only makes the population more vulnerable. If we are going to defeat imperialism, we need an educated population. If we are going to end oppression, we need masses who think scientifically. If we are going to build a society where the people have decent lives, we need fighters and thinkers. If we are really to defeat capitalism, we need to liberate the masses, not terrorize them into submission as the capitalists, feudalists, and fake caliphs do. If we are to really win, we need the masses at our side. We need women fighting along side us. Fighting without women is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Women hold up half the sky. Men and women unite. We need to unite the oppressed people of all religious backgrounds, all nationalities, all ethnicities, all languages. Islam is not a weapon that can take us to liberation. We need the best weapon possible, the most advanced revolutionary science, in the hands of the masses. There is one people, one Earth , and only one possible future –communism.  And there is science, a weapon, a path to this communist world –the revolutionary science of Leading Light Communism.

And there is an organization with that revolutionary scientific line and leadership in command, carrying with it the spirit of loyalty, sacrifice, ruthlessness, courage, intelligence, creativity, and of service to the Planet and its People –the Leading Light Communist Organization.  Become a Leading Light for communism and join us!

Notes

1. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Zawahiris-Letter-to-Zarqawi-Translation.pdf

2. http://rudaw.net/english/interview/29062014

3. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118356/izzat-ibrahim-al-douri-saddam-husseins-pal-key-stopping-isis

4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2689776/Now-Taliban-warns-ISIS-Islamist-rebels-Iraq-avoid-extremism-calls-new-council-jihadi-factions-page.html

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9zGqwKZp58

6. http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-defense-contractors-training-syrian-rebels-to-handle-chemical-weapons/5315180

7. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123275572295011847

8. http://www.islamicnewsdaily.com/country/gulf/iraq/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-trained-israeli-mossad-nsa-documents-reveal/

9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10891700/Iraq-crisis-the-jihadist-behind-the-takeover-of-Mosul-and-how-America-let-him-go.html

10. http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/.premium-1.605097