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Spartacist Canada No. 149

Summer 2006

Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!

Down With Imperialist Occupation of Iraq!

Some 2,300 Canadian troops are rampaging through southern Afghanistan, leading the NATO occupation force that is propping up the U.S.-installed regime of Hamid Karzai. This military deployment is now set to escalate, as Canada prepares to take command of the entire Afghanistan occupation starting in 2008. Addressing Canadian soldiers in Kandahar during a mid-March visit, Tory prime minister Stephen Harper claimed they were “demonstrating an international leadership role for our country” against “international terrorism.” The real face of this bloody occupation force was shown only hours later when Canadian troops killed an unarmed Afghan civilian, Nasrat Ali Hassan, shooting up his rickshaw taxi as it approached a military checkpoint.

Opinion polls show a substantial majority of the Canadian population opposed to the Afghan operation. Yet it has been backed by every party in the federal parliament: the Liberals who sent the army in the first place; the NDP, whose leader Jack Layton claimed Canadian troops were furthering “the pursuit of peace, justice and democracy”; and the Bloc Québécois, which endorsed the occupation despite overwhelming popular opposition in Quebec.

The NDP and Bloc have now seized on Harper’s call for a two-year extension of Canada’s deployment to distance themselves from the occupation, voting against this extension in a non-binding parliamentary vote on May 17. Layton called for Canada to return to the days when it disguised its military sorties as “peacekeeping.” In particular, the New Democrats want Canada to send troops to the Darfur region of Sudan as part of a United Nations occupation force. The last time Canadian troops were sent to this part of Africa under the guise of a “humanitarian” UN mission, racist Canadian Airborne soldiers brutally tortured and murdered a black teenager, Shidane Arone, in Somalia in 1993.

Canadian “peacekeeping” has long been a cover for support to the military adventures of U.S. imperialism. This was the case during Washington’s long, losing war against Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s, when Canadian “peacekeepers” and “observers” served as spies for their American masters. But the Chrétien Liberal government’s decision to bow to massive domestic opposition, especially strong in Quebec, and formally stand aside from the 2003 U.S. attack on Iraq led to frayed relations with Washington. This was despite Canada’s ample covert military support to the U.S. war moves.

The Liberals’ troop deployment to Afghanistan, a huge hike in military spending, and close co-operation with Washington in orchestrating the 2004 overthrow of Haitian president Jean-Baptiste Aristide were all aimed in part at mending fences with the Bush administration. Now, abandoning any pretense of “peacekeeping,” the new and very right-wing Tory government has taken a hard-line militarist stance in support of its U.S. senior partner. Harper even mimics Bush’s rhetoric over Iraq, vowing that the Canadian army will not “cut and run” from Afghanistan.

As forthright opponents of our “own” imperialist ruling class, we demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all Canadian forces from Afghanistan and Haiti. We say: No UN/Canadian troops to Sudan! Our perspective is proletarian struggle against Canada’s capitalist rulers, who are not potential “peace-loving” allies of workers and the oppressed, but their deadly enemies. We print below an edited version of a speech given by Trotskyist League Central Committee member Arthur Llewellyn at TL forums in Vancouver and Toronto in early April.

* * *

Three years into the colonial occupation of Iraq, that country has become a hellhole of all-sided bloodshed, with scores killed daily by occupation forces, government death squads and communal militias. Over 100,000 Iraqis have died in the war and occupation, on top of tens of thousands slaughtered in the 1991 Gulf War and more than 1.5 million killed as a result of United Nations sanctions between 1990 and 2003. Shortly after U.S. troops took Baghdad, we warned:

“The imperialist occupation has encouraged reactionary forces to emerge, from fundamentalists demanding an Islamic republic to monarchists to ‘democrats’ on the CIA payroll.

“Ethnic and religious antagonisms, stoked by the British imperialist conquest at the end of World War I and fueled by decades of bourgeois-nationalist rule, now threaten to erupt in an orgy of bloodletting.”

—“Down With Colonial Occupation of Iraq!” SC No. 137, Summer 2003

Now we are seeing this come to fruition. The government Washington created is dominated by Shi’ite and Kurdish parties at the expense of the minority Sunni Arabs, who enjoyed a relatively privileged existence under the regime of Saddam Hussein. The recent wave of attacks and counterattacks marks an escalation of what Iraq’s masses have been suffering through since the invasion: whole towns laid waste, entire families annihilated, imprisonment and torture at the hands of the American imperialist occupiers, sectarian bombings and attacks that purposely hit civilians as they try to go about their daily lives. Such are the bitter fruits of U.S. imperialism’s “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Meanwhile, Canada has taken charge of the NATO forces supplementing some 23,000 U.S. troops who continue the murderous occupation of Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO plan to add 10,000 more troops this year and to expand operations throughout the country. There have been documented incidents of torture, abusive detentions leading to deaths in custody, and civilian deaths from bombing and other indiscriminate use of force. Canadian troops collude with the “rendition” of individuals to other countries for purposes of torture, while CIA “torture flights” regularly use Canadian air space and airports.

Canadian troops aren’t even on a pretense of a “humanitarian mission” in Afghanistan. They are propping up the puppet government of Hamid Karzai, which is permeated with warlords and anti-woman bigots. Afghanistan’s U.S. overseers brokered a constitution that effectively enshrines Islamic fundamentalist sharia law. Last October the Afghan Supreme Court sentenced a journalist to two years in prison for merely questioning the use of stoning to execute women accused of “adultery.”

And now Washington is leading a concerted campaign against Iran over that country’s purported nuclear weapons program (see “Imperialists Threaten Iran,” page 6). We say: Protest imperialist nuclear blackmail of Iran—U.S. hands off! Down with the colonial occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan!

U.S. and Canadian Imperialism: Enemy of Workers and the Oppressed

Supported by Ottawa, the U.S. imperialists are running roughshod over the peoples of the world. Every military victory for these warmongers strengthens their hand not only against the masses of the so-called Third World, as well as their imperialist competitors, but also against the working class at home. As Marxists, that’s fundamentally our interest in desiring the defeat of our “own” imperialist government in foreign wars. We are not pacifists but revolutionary opponents of capitalism.

During the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, we had a policy of revolutionary defensism: we had a military side with these desperately poor, semicolonial countries without extending one iota of political support to the reactionary Taliban regime or the dictator Saddam Hussein, both one-time allies of the U.S. who fell out with their masters. Our starting point is how to further the struggles of the working class internationally. A defeated or weakened imperialism would mean more room for class struggle to emerge at home. It would mean less scope for military interventions against the peoples of the world, as the example of U.S. imperialism’s defeat in Vietnam showed. It would mean more room for struggles by working people in the semicolonial world, and the opportunity to build revolutionary parties in the course of sharpened struggles there. For all these reasons, we said that the workers of the world had a stake in defending Afghanistan and Iraq against the U.S. and its allies.

Similarly today, military blows against the imperialist occupiers of Afghanistan and Iraq coincide with the interests of the working class. But the proletariat must be politically hostile to the insurgency forces that have revealed themselves thus far. As we wrote last year:

“[The] deadly communal violence is often carried out by the very same forces that are fighting the occupation armies.

“In the absence of working-class struggle against the occupation in Iraq and internationally, the victory of any of the reactionary Islamic or Ba’athist forces who apparently compose today’s resistance is more likely to come about through an alliance with U.S. imperialism than against it.”

SC No. 144, Spring 2005

Rather than cheerleading for the politically reactionary “resistance” forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, we seek the creation of revolutionary proletarian parties in the semicolonial world. If there were a Marxist party in Iraq, for example, it would not lose sight for a moment of the fact that while the imperialist invaders are the main enemy, the bourgeois nationalists and Islamists are also enemies. Such a party would issue proclamations of solidarity with the international working class in order to spur them to oppose the onslaught by the imperialist invaders through concrete class-struggle actions.

Given the enormous power of the U.S. military, we said from the start that the foremost means to defend Afghanistan and Iraq was not on the military plane but through international working-class struggle. Our contingents on antiwar demonstrations cut hard against the prevailing Canadian nationalism and pro-NDP reformism. Our banner called for “Class Struggle Against Canadian Capitalism!” By its very nature as an exploiting system, capitalism creates its own gravedigger in the proletariat. With its hands directly on the means of production—the factories, resource and transport industries—it alone has the social power and class interest to bring about the downfall of capitalism.

The chief obstacle to such struggle is the pro-capitalist bureaucracy atop the trade unions and their political arm, the NDP. The Canadian Labour Congress opposed the Iraq war, but instead of mobilizing the working class in struggle they issued pathetic calls for “respecting a minute of silence, wearing a white scarf, armband or ribbon, faxing or emailing messages of protest to the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and faxing or emailing the local MP.” The CLC went on: “Canadian working people call on all employers and business decision-makers in this country to raise their voices on the side of peace, decency and respect for civilian lives.” Echoing bourgeois cant about the Canadian capitalists being a progressive force, the labour bureaucracy acts as a prop for social peace and the exploitative order.

Reformist left groups like the International Socialists (I.S.) painted the NDP as a “party of peace.” Yet in the build-up to the first U.S. war on Iraq in 1991, the NDP demanded UN sanctions as an “alternative” to war. These sanctions ended up killing more than a million and a half Iraqis. As the second war was being prepared, the NDP backed the disarmament of Iraq by UN “weapons inspectors.” After the war, Jack Layton called for Canadian “peacekeepers” to be sent to Iraq under UN command—an imperialist occupation under a different flag. And the NDP supported outright Canada’s role in the military occupation of Afghanistan.

The Reformists’ “Antiwar Movement”: Wrapped in the Maple Leaf

Back in 2002 and 2003, there were tens of thousands of protesters in the streets of Canada, millions around the world. But the misleaders of the “antiwar movement” channeled mass opposition to the war into politics acceptable to the capitalist ruling class. Groups like the I.S., Communist Party (CP) and Fire This Time (FTT) deliberately obscured the class nature of war and pushed the illusion that imperialism, especially Canadian imperialism, could be pressured to be humane. They joined with pro-capitalist NDP and even Liberal Party politicians to campaign for “peace,” i.e., the maintenance of the deeply unjust status quo. They refused to call for the defense of Afghanistan or Iraq because that would mean calling for the defeat of U.S. imperialism and its Canadian junior partner.

Typical slogans at these protests were “No to war” and “Money for jobs and human needs, not war.” This is all premised on accepting the framework of capitalism, at most calling to reorder the policies and priorities of the government. In no way do such slogans challenge capitalism as a system that is itself responsible for poverty and war. The mobilizing leaflet for a November 2002 Vancouver peace march, endorsed by the I.S. and CP, sported a big red Maple Leaf. It was even endorsed by a federal Liberal cabinet minister! The whole strategy of the reformist left was to pressure the government to “stand up” to the U.S. “Just say ‘no,’ Jean!” pleaded the I.S.’s Socialist Worker, adding, “Hold Chrétien’s feet to the anti-war fire.” To promote the capitalist rulers of Canada—oppressors of the Québécois, Native people and immigrants—as potential allies against a U.S. war is social chauvinism: “socialist” in words, chauvinist in deeds.

And how do these groups oppose the Afghanistan occupation today? Here’s a statement from the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA), which is supported by the I.S. and CP among others:

“More than 1500 of our soldiers are being sent there to become embroiled in an increasingly hostile and unwinnable war. Government officials even admit the futility of the operation.... Our soldiers are being sent to a violent war that is getting worse by the day with no end in sight.”

The CPA’s opposition to this hideous colonial occupation, which props up a government of woman-hating warlords, is that “our” soldiers face an “unwinnable,” “futile” war. Their concern is clearly to find a more rational policy for Canadian imperialism, through pressuring and collaborating with the capitalist ruling class. We describe such coalitions as popular-frontist, a reference to the “popular fronts” built by the Stalinist Communist parties from the 1930s on, which subordinated the workers’ interests to alliances with bourgeois parties. Marxists don’t join, build or support “antiwar” coalitions of this type.

The Vancouver-based FTT sometimes uses more militant rhetoric, but shares the same bankrupt perspective. Its front group MAWO (Mobilization Against War and Occupation) calls to “Bring the troops home now”—a social-patriotic demand meant to engender a false sense of common interest with the imperialist military, while covering up their murderous role. The CPA is even more blatant on this score, calling to “Support our troops—Bring them home.” MAWO has lately taken to holding “emergency” pickets to protest, not the killing of Afghan civilians, but the deaths of Canadian soldiers! It is also campaigning for an “independent public inquiry” into the Afghanistan intervention. Channeling anti-militarist sentiment into pleas for necessarily toothless “inquiries” can only serve to refurbish the image of the capitalist state.

The reformists portray imperialism as a set of policy decisions by the rulers that can be changed through mass pressure. In contrast, we understand that imperialism is, in the words of V.I. Lenin, leader of the October 1917 workers revolution in Russia, the “highest stage of capitalism.” Under the modern imperialist system, a handful of advanced capitalist states in North America, Europe and Japan exploit and oppress the colonial and semicolonial masses in Asia, Africa and Latin America, arresting the all-round socioeconomic and cultural modernization of the vast majority of humanity. Their drive to control markets and spheres of exploitation has produced interimperialist wars (World Wars I and II) and countless predatory wars against colonial and semicolonial countries. The imperialist rulers will not sacrifice their guns for the benefit of the people any more than a boss would abandon profits to provide job security and a decent living for the workers. A just and egalitarian future for mankind requires socialist revolution to sweep away capitalist rule on a global basis and create an internationally planned, socialist economy.

We Said “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!”

The current period of stepped-up U.S. imperialist rampage around the world is a direct outgrowth of the 1991-92 destruction of the Soviet Union, the world’s first workers state, created through the 1917 October Revolution. Despite its subsequent degeneration under the political rule of a parasitic Stalinist bureaucratic caste, the Soviet Union provided a crucial military counterweight to U.S. imperialism. It provided living evidence that the overturn of capitalist rule and the building of a collectivized economy, even in the rather miserable circumstances of backward Russia, could provide everyone with a job, a place to live, basic health care and a decent education. This is something no capitalist society has achieved or will ever achieve.

The Trotskyist League and International Communist League defended the Soviet Union against all threats of capitalist counterrevolution, while fighting for workers political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucrats and return the USSR to the revolutionary road of Lenin and Trotsky. This question came sharply to the fore in late 1979 when Soviet troops went into Afghanistan to help a left-nationalist Afghan government put down a CIA-bankrolled, Islamic fundamentalist insurgency which aimed at rolling back social progress and enslaving Afghan women.

The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan—a country so backward that it lacked a proletariat to carry out a social revolution—posed the possibility of extending the social gains of the October Revolution to the Afghan peoples. Today, the bourgeois rulers of the U.S. and Canada rail against the barbarity of Islamic fundamentalists like the Taliban to “justify” their brutal predatory wars. But not so long ago, these rulers, tailed by most of the left, heralded the same Islamic reactionaries as “freedom fighters” against the Soviet “evil empire.” Throughout the 1980s, the CIA doled out billions to the Afghan mujahedin fighting the Soviet army. This was the largest operation in CIA history, and included aid to Osama bin Laden, who would later turn on his former masters. Ottawa too backed the fundamentalist cutthroats to the hilt. The Cold War diatribes of former UN ambassador and NDPer Stephen Lewis on behalf of the Afghan reactionaries rivaled those of Ronald Reagan.

Uniquely in modern history, the rights of women were a central issue in the civil war that raged in Afghanistan from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. The Islamic tribalists were in rebellion against the pro-Moscow People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), which took power in an April 1978 coup. The PDPA sought to implement some minimal reforms to bring Afghanistan closer to the 20th century: land distribution, freeing women from the burka (the head-to-toe “veil”), reducing the bride price to a nominal sum, and providing education for girls. These basic reforms sparked a ferocious rebellion by landlords, tribal chiefs and mullahs who launched a jihad (holy war), burning down schools and flaying teachers alive for the “crime” of teaching young girls to read. When the PDPA requested assistance from Moscow in quelling the bloody rebellion, the Soviet Army intervened, acting to defend the USSR’s southern border against the CIA-backed insurgency.

We declared: “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!” Our defense of the Soviet intervention was based on our understanding that the USSR was a workers state, despite its Stalinist bureaucratic degeneration. Sending troops into Afghanistan was an unambiguously decent and progressive act that cut across the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dogma of building “socialism in one country,” which meant renouncing the struggle for world socialist revolution in favour of a futile quest for peaceful coexistence with imperialism. As we wrote at the time:

“For revolutionary socialists there is nothing tricky, nothing ambiguous about the war in Afghanistan. The Soviet army and its left-nationalist allies are fighting an anti-communist, anti-democratic mélange of landlords, money lenders, tribal chiefs and mullahs committed to mass illiteracy. And to say that imperialist support to this social scum is out in the open is the understatement of the year…. The gut-level response of every radical leftist should be fullest solidarity with the Soviet Red Army.”

—“Afghanistan and the Left: The Russian Question Point Blank,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 29, Summer 1980

The liberating effects of the Soviet intervention can be measured in hard statistics. In 1988, women made up 40 percent of the doctors and 60 percent of the teachers at the University of Kabul; 440,000 female students were enrolled in educational institutions and 80,000 more in literacy programs. Western dress was common in the cities, and women enjoyed some real measure of freedom from the veil and subjugation for the first time in Afghanistan’s history. This has all been drowned in blood.

Capitulating to imperialist anti-Communism, the bulk of the left internationally condemned the Soviet “invasion” of Afghanistan. In contrast, we took the side of the Soviet army, while warning that the Moscow bureaucracy might well cut a deal with the imperialists. In the end, in an attempt to placate Washington, Moscow treacherously betrayed the Afghan peoples as well as Soviet defense by pulling out its troops in 1988-89. Following the Soviet withdrawal, the Partisan Defense Committee wrote to the Afghan government in early 1989 offering to organize international brigades to help fight the CIA’s mujahedin killers. Though this offer was declined, the PDC and fraternal defense organizations internationally raised $44,000 to aid civilian victims of the anti-woman cutthroats in the city of Jalalabad. But with the Soviets out, the PDPA regime collapsed by 1992, giving rise to a brutal civil war between the various warlords that culminated in the Taliban’s victory in 1996.

The Kremlin’s retreat from Afghanistan emboldened the imperialist rulers in their drive to destroy the Soviet workers state and strengthened the forces of capitalist counterrevolution within the USSR. Withdrawal from Afghanistan was followed by the capitalist reunification of Germany in 1990 and the final undoing of the October Revolution in 1991-92. We fought to the best of our ability and resources against the counterrevolutions that ushered in the reactionary period we are now living through. Today we emphasize the need to defend the remaining deformed workers states—China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba—while fighting to replace the Stalinist misleaders with the revolutionary rule of workers soviets (councils). That is what genuine anti-imperialism is really all about.

Canadian Imperialist Crimes in Haiti

Canada acts in the imperialist world system as a junior partner of U.S. imperialism. The new right-wing regime of Stephen Harper is seeking better relations with the U.S., including through modernizing and streamlining the army so that it can act as an effective adjunct to Washington’s military adventures. Military spending under the previous Liberal government was already at its highest level since World War II, and the Liberals—with NDP support—set aside another $12.8 billion for the armed forces in last year’s budget. The Conservatives will add at least another $5.3 billion to this. They are also expanding the Canadian forces by 13,000 soldiers, 8,000 more than the Liberals planned.

While Harper is a down-the-line backer of the Bush administration, the Liberals’ earlier posturing against the U.S. attack on Iraq was basically smoke and mirrors. Canadian warships escorted the U.S. fleet as it fired Tomahawk missiles at Iraqi targets. Canadian soldiers manned AWACS aircraft to direct missiles at their targets. Canadian officers worked at CENTCOM in Qatar, helping with logistics, i.e., planning the invasion. In addition to this direct military involvement, Canadian business is a major producer of equipment for the U.S. war machine.

Canada’s role in furthering U.S. imperialist interests, as well as its own, can also be seen clearly in Haiti. In 2004, the Canadian government was a central actor in the U.S.-engineered removal of Haiti’s elected president, Jean-Baptiste Aristide. When this populist, sometime radical-posturing priest was first elected in 1990, we warned: “Aristide will either play the role of groveling instrument of the Haitian bourgeoisie and the U.S. imperialist overlords or he will be swept away in a reactionary crackdown aimed at decisively disciplining the pitilessly oppressed population” (“Haiti: Election Avalanche for Radical Priest,” Workers Vanguard No. 517, 4 January 1991). In the end, both things occurred.

Initially, Aristide irked the U.S. by resisting its economic diktats and establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Then, after he was toppled in 1991, Aristide proved his reliability to his U.S. overseers by agreeing in advance of his return to power to a drastic austerity program, privatization of state-owned industry, mass layoffs in the public sector and the virtual abolition of import tariffs. Washington reinstalled Aristide at the point of bayonets in 1994 in large part to stop the flow of Haitian refugees to the U.S. The axing of import tariffs induced the collapse of the indigenous economy as the market was flooded with, for example, American rice at prices cheaper than the Haitian-grown product. Having dissolved the army (a center of his opposition) in 1995, Aristide propped up his rule with a brutal police force and gang terror.

Despite all this, Aristide wasn’t pliant enough. In January 2003, Canada hosted a secret meeting of senior U.S., Latin American and European officials dubbed the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti.” Needless to say, no representatives of the Aristide government, which had been re-elected in 2000, were invited. This gathering reached a “consensus” that “Aristide must go.” A year later, 550 Canadian troops—including the elite Joint Task Force 2, who secured the airport—participated in the kidnapping of Aristide, aiding the U.S. in whisking him out of the country. Ever since, Haiti has been occupied by UN “peacekeepers,” including Canadian forces.

After Aristide was overthrown, right-wing paramilitaries with links to the former U.S.-backed death-squad regime entered the Haitian capital. They went on a killing spree, massacring thousands of poor peasants and slum dwellers. Hundreds more were later murdered by the RCMP-trained Haitian National Police.

Earlier this year, former Aristide ally René Préval was elected as the new Haitian president in what was widely seen as a slap to Washington and the U.S.-backed Haitian elite. But, as an article in the New York Times (10 February) explained, “Préval was sought out by the United States and governments leading the United Nations Stabilization Mission struggling to restore order.” Préval has called for the occupation forces to stay for two years or more; he also wants to increase the number of police. The Times added “Préval also suggested that he would reach out to his opponents among the middle and upper classes. He said that much of his campaign had been financed by the elite.”

Then there’s Patrick Elie, a member of Aristide’s first government who recently staged a speaking tour of Canada under the auspices of the Canada Haiti Action Network, another coalition backed by various reformist left groups. Elie’s credentials include: National Coordinator of the fight against drug trafficking in Haiti from 1991-94, and Secretary of State for National Defense in 1994-95, when he was instrumental in creating the National Police. During his tour, Elie defended Préval’s call for the UN armed forces to remain in Haiti, saying, “If the UN were to pull out overnight, it would leave a power vacuum that the rightist forces are better placed to fill than us at this point” (Socialist Voice, 26 March). Thus the same reformist leftists who lead chants of “Canada out of Haiti” on demonstrations are touring around a guy who is opposed to the unconditional, immediate withdrawal of Canadian and UN forces!

After winning independence from France through an anticolonial revolution more than 200 years ago, Haiti was compelled to pay 150 million gold francs—about $18 billion at today’s prices—to its former colonial masters. By the end of the 19th century, 80 percent of Haiti’s national budget was going to pay off its former exploiters, and the country remains a hideously impoverished debtor nation today. That describes another way that imperialism enforces its mastery over the poor countries of the “Third World.” There can be no justice for the masses of this or any other nation oppressed by imperialism short of the struggle for international socialist revolution.

Only Socialist Revolution Can End Imperialist War!

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, bourgeois pundits have described Bush’s “war on terror” as a “clash of civilizations”: a new, racist pseudo-justification for neocolonial pillage. For their part, various left academics and activists have portrayed it as a conflict between the First World and the “Global South.” By dividing the world into good, progressive peoples and bad, oppressor ones, this schema writes off entirely the question of class.

Real opposition to imperialist war is impossible without opposition to the system that breeds it, an opposition that must, in the last analysis, be based on the mobilization of the working class, the only force capable of challenging and overturning bourgeois rule. Imperialist war and militarism are the inevitable outcome of capitalist, class-divided society, in which a tiny minority of the population owns the banks and industry and amasses profit by exploiting the labour of the working class.

The venal despots who run the neocolonial world on behalf of imperialism are incapable of raising the economic development of these countries to the level of the advanced industrial world. Caught between the seething masses and the dictates of their paymasters, democracy is a luxury these rulers generally cannot afford. Drawing on the experience of the 1917 October Revolution, Leon Trotsky argued that in countries of belated capitalist development the fight for national emancipation from imperialism and the struggle for democracy falls to the industrial working class. And once the working class has seized power, it cannot stop at these tasks, but must move to destroy private property and establish a workers state. To survive and flourish, a socialist revolution in such a country must be extended to the imperialist heartlands. This is the essence of what Trotsky called the theory of permanent revolution.

But what about countries like Afghanistan or Haiti where the working class is weak or non-existent? In such cases, there is no purely internal solution. The destiny of these countries is directly tied to the international class struggle, in the first instance in those countries in the region that do have important proletarian concentrations, including immigrant workers from throughout the semicolonial world.


Spartacist Canada No. 149

SC 149

Summer 2006


Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!

Down With Imperialist Occupation of Iraq!


Imperialism, War and the Working Class


Build the Campaign to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Mumia Honoured in France


Protest Ottawa’s Ban on Tamil Tigers!


Down With Reactionary Age of Consent Laws!

Tories’ Anti-Sex Crusade Targets Youth, Gays


U.S. Hands Off Iran! Out of Iraq Now!

Imperialists Threaten Iran


For a Class-Struggle Fight to Defend Immigrant Rights