Category Archives: Morocco

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan): Hail May 1st, the International Working Class Day!

May 1, 2015

(Machine translation from Swedish into English)

For socialism and international solidarity!

On First of May 2015, millions of workers, together with progressive forces around the world demonstrate against capitalist system and imperialist barbaric war against oppressed people. May Day is a day when millions of people take to the streets and demonstrate against economic injustice, war, violence, social deterioration, unemployment, poverty, hunger, fascism and racism.

What is happening in Iran?

Iran is in a deep economic crisis. The capitalist Islamic regime of Iran, by having adapted to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, radically worsened workers’ economic condition. Privatization continues at high speed. Inflation, according to the Iranian central bank, is 24 percent but in fact it is more than 40 percent. After the elimination of the subsidies to low income groups in society, food prices for them have risen by 45-50 percent. According to official reports, 80 percent of the population lives in poverty. The minimum wage for workers in the New Year is about $ 1 / hour, a mockery of the life of the workers of Iran. The claim that the Islamic Republic of Iran has significant support among the poor is a lie that is unparalleled.

However, the workers in various sectors of the society continue their struggle for freedom, better pay, better working conditions, and for the formation of independent trade unions. Tens of thousands of teachers have been demonstrating in several Iranian cities in the past week against the current economic misery and have demanded better wages and the release of the imprisoned workers and teachers. Today in Iran, hundreds of trade unionists and trade union leaders are in prisons of the Islamic Republic and are subjected to torture. The regime is neither willing nor able to meet the demands of the workers and other social groups, and thus continues to rule by force, terror and oppression. This reactionary policy favors only the capitalist mafia class and imperialism. The regime’s brutal attack on the working class and the people and on any dissent must be strongly condemned. Our Party takes, at the same time as it fights for democracy and justice and freedom, also a clear stand against US imperialism and Zionism interference in Iran’s internal affairs of Iran.

Iran’s nuclear program and West’s hypocrisy

Barak Obama along with Israel’s Zionist regime is continuing with its aggressive imperialist policy threatens the Iranian people with a fascist war.

An agreement was signed on April 7, 2015 between Iran and the countries of the “5 + 1 group” (5 + 1 are the five states of the Security Council + Germany) on the Iranian nuclear energy. Iran promised to reduce its nuclear program for the next 10 to 15 years and accepted regular international inspections. The agreement is that Iran will remove two thirds of its uranium producing centrifuges and that it accepts comprehensive international inspections.

Iran has agreed not to enrich uranium beyond 3.67 percent for at least 15 years. To obtain the fissile material for a nuclear bomb, it requires 90 percent enriched uranium. In return, the US and its allies promise that sanctions against Iran would be lifted. In short, sanctions forced the Iranian regime to accept US imperialism’s dictates. Just the same tragic scenario that Iraq and Libya have suffered is repeated today in Iran.

According to the imperialist demands, Iran must be prevented from building a peaceful nuclear energy program while Israel that has invaded and occupied several countries can have 40-200 nuclear bombs without any protest. Iran has been imposed by illegal sanctions while Israel that has launched several brutal wars on neighbors has not been hit by any sanctions. The US, under Clinton, initiated sanctions on Iran in 1996, sanctions that seriously damaged Iran’s economy and its cooperation with leading European economies such as Germany and France. Neither the control of Israel’s nuclear activities nor the control of the US huge nuclear weapons modernization will take place. So is the situation of the world today. And the dominant mass media have no criticism of this hypocrisy. Yes, the US is really still the “World Police”.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) condemns the colonial agreement between ‘5 + 1’ and the Islamic Republic , and repeats once again that regimes that oppress their own peoples and subjugate the true anti-imperialist forces are doomed to accept the imperialist dictates. The Iranian ruling clergy has made its choice: capitulate to the “Great Satan” for the survival. This is the betrayal of the national interests of the Iranian people. The Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, took the same course as hoping to survive. However, history has shown that he was wrong as he was overthrown by imperialist powers.

Why war of aggression against Yemen?

Another war of aggression has been launched in the Middle East, this time it is a coalition led by the royal dictatorship of Saudi Arabia that is bombing Yemen. Saudi‘s Air Force took control over Yemeni airspace on March 26, attacking the Houthi rebels who control the capital Sana’a. The attacks has caused many deaths and a great destruction. So far, 3700 people have been killed or wounded, and tens of thousands have been left homeless. Nine other dictatorships in the region, from Morocco in the West to the United Arab Emirates on the East, are taking part in the military operations. Also, the United States contributes to the bombing with logistical support and intelligence. The Saudis are trying to paint a picture of the bombing as a humanitarian effort to rescue the Yemeni people.

US imperialism’s war of terror in Yemen and the rest of the region is a major cause of the current chaotic developments in the country. But at the same time, the growing threat from al-Qaeda and ISIS is one of the US useful arguments for continued involvement. The US and Saudi Arabia fear of a government in Sana’a more friendly to Iran. But there is a greater strategic interest behind its long-standing involvement in Yemen, namely the control of the Bab el Mandeb Strait. It is the narrow passage between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Here goes cargo ships from around the passes through the Suez Canal. This is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes and is said to comprise eight percent of world trade. The control of Yemen is crucial for the control of the Bab el-Mendab and indirectly a large part of the world economy. It is no coincidence that the US suits on sending two of its warships to the region in order to create “security and peace in the region” !!

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) calls upon all progressive forces to condemn Saudi Arabia’s attack on Yemen and to condemn the US led western imperialist involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Ukraine …… and to show solidarity with the Palestinian people’s liberation struggle against the Israeli Zionist occupying forces.

For socialism and international solidarity!

The overthrow of the Iranian regime is an internal matter for the Iranian people!

No to the war and economic sanctions on Iran!

Release all imprisoned labour activists and all political prisoners in Iran!

The Party of Labour

Advertisements

Are Popular Fronts Necessary Today?

logonuevopc3b1o

Raul Marcos
Member of the Communist Party of Spain ML
August 2014

The answer is a resounding YES. They are necessary and indispensable given the condition of oppression and exploitation that are worsening, and from which the people are suffering. The proletariat, with its party at the forefront, should be at the head of the popular masses, to organize and lead their struggles. It is not an easy task, but all difficulties can be overcome. For that to happen, it is necessary to work to link up in a broad manner with the advanced masses, to win their recognition.

The Congress of the Communist International (1921) stated that “The United Front [of the proletariat] is the unity […] of the workers who are decisive in the fight against capitalism”. Dimitrov insisted that the Popular Front, given the circumstances that existed in the world, was an urgent necessity and that its essential basis must be the United Front of the Proletariat.

The fundamental contradictions of the period in which we live and struggle, are perfectly defined: The contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie; the contradiction between capitalism and socialism; the contradiction between oppressed peoples and nations on the one hand and imperialism on the other; the contradiction among imperialist and financial powers. The last contradiction manifests itself in the local wars, the aggressions against the peoples, the contention for geostrategic zones and the exploitation of the neo-colonies, the manipulation of the democratic and patriotic sentiments of the peoples. It is a rapidly growing contradiction.

We live in the period which Lenin defined, but with new characteristics and forms. Presently, we see the expression of a tendency towards fascism as organized groups of neo-Nazis carry out actions in various countries, and this should concern us. In many cases they are protected by the governments (such is the case in Greece, Hungary, Spain, etc.). Power and state apparatus, with some exceptions, are in the hands of parties and governments which are reactionary and anti-popular. The big powers and their puppet governments speak of democracy, of human rights, of peace among the people… while they are savagely subjugating and exploiting the people, who are oppressed, in many cases through force of arms.

This is a general situation, not in this or that country: in different degrees and different forms and intensity; it is a general tendency. The communist parties must daily confront situations of repression, of struggles for social conquests, against laws which encroach upon and suppress labor and social rights which had been achieved through many decades of struggle.

In his report to the VII Congress of the Communist International (1935), and with a similar situation at hand, Dimitrov focused on the importance of creating popular fronts against the conditions which arose with the growth of Nazi-fascism (Italy, Germany, Portugal, Japan, etc.). Despite the years which have passed and the events that have taken place, the report is still very relevant and can serve as a general orientation to the parties. It is evident that the present circumstances are not the same as the 1930s. The context in which we live is very different from that period, and it is enough to recall the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, the opportunist degeneration of many of the parties at that time, and that today, with some rare exceptions, the Marxist-Leninist parties are very weak, without much influence upon the broad masses.

The importance of Dimitrov’s writing is undeniable, yet we should keep in mind that the international situation is not the same, although there are problems of a similar nature (which are reflected in the fundamental contradictions), and it is also necessary to act according to the particular circumstances of each country and party. The work of a front cannot be carried out in the same manner in every country, since we have to take into consideration the inevitable unequal development, of the political forces as well as the Party and of society itself. Its undeniable that we cannot compare the situation which Ecuador is living under (in all of the aspects pointed out), with that of Germany, for example, in Spain, Denmark, Turkey, Morocco, France, Venezuela, etc. etc., there are different conditions and therefore, tactically there will be differences, secondary differences, but in the end differences.

Defending the importance and the present aspects of Dimitrov’s speech should not lead us to apply every detail, each and every aspect which his text deals with. To study, analyze and discuss the writings of great communist leaders, and Dimitrov is one of them, should not lead us to convert them into catechism, infallible doctrines, something which is opposed to the Marxist Leninist dialectic.

Each of our parties should consider these questions. There are no prefabricated answers. Only the dialectic examination, that is of the moment which can change from one day to the other, without separating ourselves from tomorrow’s strategy, whose course cannot be predicted or defined, will allow us to take up tactical positions and measures to confront and attempt to solve the problems.

The important thing is to keep in mind at all times the reality in which our parties live and evolve, work and struggle. Therefore, we must keep in mind a decisive fact: In almost all countries, with different levels of development, the working class is the most revolutionary and its advanced members are at the head of the struggles for justice. But the working class is not the only class exploited by capitalism. There are sectors of the small and middle bourgeoisie which also suffer oppression. And although their mentality is not that of the conscious proletariat, we should take those sectors into consideration and try to get closer to them. We should keep in mind that if the working class and its party do not try to unite the other working classes, including certain patriotic and democratic sectors of the middle classes, these could be manipulated by some faction of the bourgeoisie. Undoubtedly, the working class must win over, in the ideological and political combat, the role of vanguard of all those exploited and oppressed sectors and defend their demands.

This could be the basis for forging tactical, momentary alliances. But we should not confuse or counterpoise those tactical alliances of a given moment, to the strategic alliances. That is, we do not subordinate strategic alliances to questions of the moment, circumstantial ones, but neither do we subordinate tactical alliances to the establishment of possible strategic alliances, so long as this does not imply abandoning essential questions. To be clearer: we should be vigilant so as not to confuse with the Popular Front tactical, partial, or momentary alliances, in many cases local ones or of a city, region or province, including agreements with special sectors, but which cannot include the  most advanced general sectors.

The Popular Front should respond to the general needs of the struggle, to political questions which are proposed, and above all, to mobilize the advanced masses to incorporate them into action.

The working class, theoretically the proletariat, should be the principal force of the Popular Front. This means that in practice it should also be the leading force. We should keep in mind that theory without practice is just empty words, and that practice without theory is like blindly striking out blows.

Given the broad political nature of the forces which could become part of the Front, the Party should strive to be at the head, be the leader (in relative terms depending on the circumstances) so that the proletariat can exercise its influence as the main force. That leading role is not achieved by force of will, or by a decree; it must be won in daily practice, by the clarity of our political proposals, with the respectful and faithful application of agreements.

If the party does not fulfill that role, in the long run it will tail behind the petit bourgeoisie and that would be a grave error. Here we should keep in mind the “Law of the unity and struggle of opposites”.

This leads us to the question of the ideological independence of the Party. A Popular Front, built upon minimum agreements (depending on the circumstances), cannot take up all our proposals. But that should not lead us to renounce our political and ideological positions. Within the framework of the tasks of the Front, communists are, and will be, very careful at the time of fulfilling our agreements even if these are not exactly what we would have preferred.

The policy of unity in any alliance, and also in the Popular Front, should not lead us to forget the class struggle. In fact, the alliances, agreements or tactical compromises with other political forces should help us to reinforce the strength of the Party and not the other way around. That is not always understood, so that if the Party, communists, become diluted as a result of such an alliance, that would result in a grave weakening or possibly the disappearance of the Party.

With much ability and tact, and without high-handedness or strange maneuvers, the Party should, as Lenin stated, lead everything. This forces us to carry out a clear and sincere work with the forces which make up the Front, to respect and fulfill the agreed-upon commitments and programs, but without forgetting that:

”…only the political party of the working class, i.e., the Communist Party, is capable of uniting, training and organizing a vanguard of the proletariat and of the whole mass of the working people that alone will be capable of withstanding the inevitable petty-bourgeois vacillations of this mass (Lenin, Preliminary Draft Resolution of the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. on the Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviation in Our Party. Our emphasis.)

We should be with the advanced masses, becoming more and better, to mobilize within the Popular Front and in all the fronts created which include the masses. That requires defeating the relative weakness of the parties, (without forgetting the inevitability of unequal development), since without a strong party we can do very little; and it is also necessary to be conscious of the fact that regardless how big and powerful a Party may be, we will always be a minority in society:

“…We communists are but a drop in the ocean, a drop in the ocean of the people”, but “without a party of the proletariat we cannot even consider the defeat of imperialism, the conquest of the dictatorship of proletariat…” and also the Party “is the vanguard of a class and its duty is to guide the masses, and not to reflect the average mental state of the masses,” Lenin sharply stated.

For communists it is of prime importance to carry out a constant work face-to-face with the masses. But this must be well planned and we should not speak of the masses in a superficial way, without being precise: we should lead the advanced masses and keep in mind that there are various levels of understanding among them regarding the struggle. Dimitrov said that Sectarianism finds expression particularly in overestimating the revolutionization of the masses…” and he quoted Lenin, “…we must not regard that which is obsolete for us, as obsolete for the class, as obsolete for the masses.”

Lenin, like Stalin, Dimitrov, the great leaders, were constantly concerned about the work towards the masses. Lenin specified and warned:

There is nothing more warranted than the urging of attention to the constant, imperative necessity of deepening and broadening, broadening and deepening, our influence on the masses, our strictly Marxist propaganda and agitation, our ever-closer connection with the economic struggle of the working class, etc. Yet, because such urging is at all times warranted, under all conditions and in all situations, it must not be turned into special slogans, nor should it justify attempts to build upon it a special trend in Social- Democracy. A border-line exists here; to exceed the bounds is to turn this indisputably legitimate urging into a narrowing of the aims and the scope of the movement, into a doctrinaire blindness to the vital and cardinal political tasks of the moment.

But for the very reason that the work of intensifying and broadening our influence on the masses is always necessary, after each victory as after each defeat, in times of political quiescence as in the stormiest periods of revolution, we should  not turn the emphasis upon this work into a special slogan or build upon it any special trend if we do not wish to court the risk of descending to demagogy and degrading the aims of the advanced and only truly revolutionary class. (On Confounding Politics with Pedagogics, 1905)

To overestimate the role of the masses is as dangerous as to underestimate it, since both errors distort the role of the Communist Party. This also has to do with the Popular Front since its work is oriented precisely towards the popular masses. One of the conditions for considering an alliance as a Popular Front is that it include, as a minimum, sectors of the exploited and oppressed classes whether they are organized or unorganized.

It is necessary to pay attention, in all our activity, the Leninist Communist Party, leader of the proletariat, of the advanced sectors of the working class, so as not to confuse it with the “mass party” which is amorphous and includes the revisionists and right-wingers of every type. There exists a line of demarcation which must not be underestimated. For communists, what we define as “mass line” is to implement our politics and proposals in a decisive and capable manner outside of the Party. We should not limit ourselves just to our own members and intimate friends.

It is important to have a clear understanding of the lines of demarcation between Marxist-Leninists and opportunists, Khrushchevites, Maoists, including those who preach socialism of the 21st century. Does this mean that we should not have agreements, compromises, and unity pacts with all those who do not share our principles? Clearly not! If we only unite with those who share our ideas and principles, we would not be talking about alliances, popular fronts, etc.; we would only be talking about unity with communists. And that is a different problem.

Presently, many of our parties have a problem which is a history of weak organizing, which is trying to fulfill the role of leaders. This is not achieved through decrees; there are no magic formulas. It will be achieved, depending upon the circumstances, through our work and dedication. Alliances tactical agreements, etc. with other political forces or groups are proposed to us. We are not in a situation in which we can impose our positions. However, we should not refuse the offer because of that. On the contrary, we should participate loyally and in the discussions present our political proposals; we should discuss and confront opinions and little by little go about winning political and ideological ground.

A very simple question, but one which we do not always keep in mind, is that alliances of broad fronts are not meant to last forever. They must be seen as developing; they are not static alliances; what we propose and approve today as just and valid, can stop being so at another time.

The Popular Front is created depending upon the circumstances and we do not create circumstances; we find ourselves in them and we must take them up, always having in mind the evolution of these circumstances. As Dimitrov warns with a great deal of reason: “…it is particularly dangerous to confuse the wish with fact. We must base ourselves on the facts, on the actual concrete situation.”

The Popular Front is an important task which must be dealt with under all circumstances in which the political struggle is developing; it is not an option, it is a necessary task. To promote it and to advance in completing that task, the revolutionary party of the proletariat must draw up a correct revolutionary policy which takes into consideration the concrete conditions, always keeping in mind the strategic objectives. The application of that policy depends not only on its correctness, but also on the potential of the Party, of its forces. A just and correct revolutionary policy can remain as a proposal if there is not a firm decision to carry it out with the advanced sectors of the masses.

The experience of the international communist movement leads us to seriously consider the danger of deviations which can occur. Generally, the existing opportunism has been, and is, of the right. But we cannot forget that there is also left opportunism; both are particularly harmful to the work of a broad front. It is convenient to remember Marx’s warning in his Critique of the Gotha Program: “no bargaining about principles.”

Right-wing opportunism tends to appear with the following expressions or characteristics: to make concessions of principles in order to make allies; to reduce the level of the struggle for fear of the enemy; to lag behind the level of consciousness of the masses instead of going in front of them; to exaggerate the importance of national or regional particularities without taking into account the general principles; and liberalism in matters of organization, of which the most dangerous is to hide the Party as if it did not exist. We should always keep Lenin in mind: Eenter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not allow any bargaining over principle.” (What Is To Be Done?)

Opportunism of the left has the following main characteristics: the false criteria of all or nothing; not knowing how to make the needed concessions and compromises useful for the development of this work; not knowing how to adapt Marxism-Leninism to the particular conditions of the reality in which we live, allowing us to be influenced by the experiences of others, which leads to not know how to adapt or to make mistakes about the level and forms of the struggle and the objective conditions of the masses; in adopting rigid criteria in matters of organizing.

In his Poverty of Philosophy, Marx criticized opportunism. Quoting Juvenal: “Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas”, in other words, “And for the sake of life to lose the reasons for living!” Let us not forget this old lesson.

Source

Enver Hoxha on Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic “Socialism”

256

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the Alliance issue #51, “Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic ‘Socialism.’”

January 1980

THE EVENTS WHICH ARE TAKING PLACE IN THE MOSLEM COUNTRIES MUST BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF DIALECTICAL AND HISTORICAL MATERIALISM

The international situation is very tense at present. In many regions of the world and mainly in the large zone of the oil-producing countries, especially those of Asia, the struggle between the two imperialist superpowers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, not excluding imperialist China and the other capitalist powers, over the division and re-division of markets and spheres of influence, as they try to elbow one another out, has reached new, major proportions just as our Party correctly predicted long ago. Their pressures and plots are accompanied with diplomatic efforts and a propaganda clamour about “agreements and compromises” allegedly to preserve the peace and the balance of power. In fact, as recent events have shown, we see that agreements and compromises are still the basic principle of their policy towards each other regardless of their very acute rivalry. One day,however, the rivalry between them may reach such a point that they can no longer overcome it and settle matters except through military confrontation. The consequences of such a confrontation will descend upon the peoples, just as has occurred in previous imperialist wars.

The most recent result of this rivalry is the military aggression of the Soviet social-imperialists against Afghanistan, the occupation of that country through armed force by one of the imperialist superpowers. The fact is that what is now being done openly by the Soviets through their armed forces against the sovereignty of the Afghan people had long been prepared by the Soviet social-imperialist chauvinist politicians and military leaders and their Afghan agents. In order to arrive at the present situation, both the former and the latter exploited the overthrow, first of King Mohammed Zahir Shah in 1973 and, later, of Prince Daoud in 1978. They also exploited for their evil aims the desire of the Afghan people for social liberation from the oppression they suffered under the absolute monarchy and its foreign friends, first of all, the Soviets, who financed the monarchy and kept it in power. So, irrespective of the “alliance” which they had with the king of Afghanistan, the Soviet social-imperialists worked and acted for his overthrow. In order to disguise their imperialist aims, at first they brought their men, allegedly with more progressive sentiments, to power. Later, these, too, were changed one after the other, through actions in which blood was shed, by means of putsches and tanks, and Noor Mohammed Taraki and Hafizullah Amin were sent to the slaughter.

Nevertheless, no foreign occupier, however powerful and heavily armed, can keep the people, against whom aggression has been committed, subdued for ever. In every country which is invaded the people, apart from anti-national and anti-popular cliques of agents, receive the foreign aggressors with hatred and resistance, sporadic at first and later with more organized revolts which gradually turn into popular uprisings and liberation wars. We are seeing the proof of this in Afghanistan, where the people have risen and are fighting fiercely in the cities, villages and mountains against the Soviet army of occupation. This war of the Afghan people enjoys the support and sympathy of freedom-loving peoples and revolutionary forces throughout the world. Our people, too, support it with all their might. The war of the Afghan people against the Soviet social-imperialists is a just war, and therefore it will triumph.

The current war of the Afghan people against the Soviet military aggression and the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist, anti-American uprising of the Iranian people must make us reflect somewhat more profoundly, from the political, theoretical and ideological aspects, about another major problem which, in the existing situation of complicated developments in the world, is becoming ever more prominent: the popular uprisings of “Islamic inspiration,” as the bourgeoisie and the revisionists like to describe these movements, simply because the Moslem peoples of the Arab and other countries have placed themselves in the vanguard of the liberation movement. This is a fact, an objective reality. There are insurrectionary movements in those countries. If we were to examine and judge these movements and uprisings of Moslem peoples in an over-simplified and very superficial way as movements simply of an Islamic character, without probing deeply into the true reasons which impel the broad masses of the peoples to advance, we could fall in the positions of the revisionists and imperialists, whose assessments of these movements are denigrating and conceal ambitions to enslave the peoples.

We Marxist-Leninists always understand clearly that religion is opium for the people. In no instance do we alter our view on this and we must not fall into the errors of “religious socialism,” etc. The Moslem religion is no different in this regard. Nevertheless, we see that at present the broad masses of the Moslem peoples in the Arab and other countries have risen or are rising in struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism for their national and social liberation. These peoples, who were deliberately left in ignorance in the past and remain backward in their world outlook to this day, are now becoming aware of the great oppression and savage exploitation which were imposed on them by the old colonizers and which the new colonizers and the internal feudal-bourgeois capitalist cliques continue to impose on them. They are coming to understand the political-economic reasons for their oppression and, irrespective that they are Moslems and have been left in backwardness, they are displaying great vitality and making an important contribution to the anti-imperialist bourgeois-democratic revolution which opens the way to the proletarian revolution. Those who have adopted and exploited the Moslem religion to exert social oppression over these peoples and to exploit them in the most ferocious ways are the anti-popular oppressive regimes and the reactionary clergy. They have protected and continue to protect their blood-thirsty power through the weapons and support which they have received from abroad, that is, from the imperialist powers, the neo-colonialist robbers, as well as through inciting and developing religious fanaticism. Thus, the development of events is more and more confirming the Marxist-Leninist thesis that the internal enemies collaborate closely with the external enemies to suppress their own peoples and that they use religion as a weapon to oppress the peoples and keep them in darkness.

The events taking place before our eyes show that the Moslem Arab peoples are fighters. Their anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal struggles and uprisings are accompanied with and result in armed clashes. These struggles and uprisings have their source in the savage oppression which is imposed on these peoples and in their freedom-loving and progressive sentiments. If you are not progressive and freedom-loving you cannot rise in struggle for freedom and national independence against the twofold internal and external oppression.

Another social cause and powerful impulse to anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal uprisings is the grave economic situation of these peoples, the burden of hunger and suffering under which they live. Hence, we cannot fail to take into account their political awakening and. to some extent, also their social awakening.

Looking at the whole struggle of the peoples of Moslem belief, we notice that there are marked differences in its level of development: there are periods when it mounts, but also periods of decline or stagnation, the latter caused by various factors and especially, by the pseudo-progressive bourgeoisie which places itself at the head of these peoples.

In Morocco, for example, there has been some movement, but the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist movement of the people of that country is not at the same height as that of other countries. On the contrary, the monarchy and feudalism dominate the Moroccan people, through violence and liberal pseudo-reforms, as well as by exploiting their religious sentiments.

In Algeria the people waged the national liberation war against the French colonialists and, although it was not led by a Marxist-Leninist party but by the national bourgeoisie, the war for national liberation ended with the withdrawal of the foreign occupiers, but it was carried no further…

In Tunisia the people seem to be asleep and very apathetic, are showing little sign of awakening, but they are not all that backward. Recently there was talk about a trade-union movement there and the general secretary of the trade-unions was arrested, but nothing more happened.

In 1952 there was a revolt in Egypt, too. The monarchy was overthrown without bloodshed. King Farouk was expelled from Egypt by a group of officers. Those who removed him from the throne accompanied him to Alexandria, gave him money, put him on board a ship and helped him to get away and save his neck. In other words, they told the monarch he had better leave of his own accord and save his skin, because he could no longer stay in the country, he no longer had any basis there. Thus, the group of officers, headed by Nasser, Naguib and Sadat, carried out what you might call a bloodless military coup against an utterly degenerate monarchy and seized power. What was this group of Egyptian officers that carried out the putsch and what did they represent? These officers were of the bourgeoisie, its representatives, they were anti-British, but amongst them there were also pro-Hitlerites. As I have mentioned, Anwar el-Sadat himself declares he collaborated with the “Desert wolf,” the Nazi field-marshal Rommel. 

This event, that is, the removal of Farouk from the throne, was exaggerated to the point of being called a “revolution.” However, the Egyptian people, the working masses of that country, gained nothing from this whole affair. Virtually no reform to the benefit of the people was carried out. The so-called agrarian reform ended up in favour of the feudals and wealthy landowners. Under the disguise of the unity of Arab peoples the newcomers to power tried to bring about the “unification” of Egypt with Syria. However, every effort in this direction was in vain because in Syria, too, at this time the capitalist bourgeoisie in the leadership of the state had simply changed their horses and their patron. The imperialist Soviet Union had replaced France. It sabotaged this baseless «unification» and established itself firmly in that country.

As is known, in 1969 there was a revolt in Libya, too; the dynasty of King Idris was overthrown and a group of young officers, headed by Qaddafi who poses as anti-imperialist, came to power. We can describe this revolt, this movement, as progressive at first, but later it lost its impact and at the moment it has fallen into stagnation. Qaddafi who came to power and claims to be the head of Islam, exploited the Moslem religion to present Libya as a “progressive” country and even called it “socialist,” but in reality the great oil wealth of the country is being exploited for very dubious adventurous and sinister aims. Of course, for purposes of demagogy and because the income from the sale of oil is truly colossal, some changes have been made in the life of the people in the cities, while the poverty-stricken nomads of the desert remain a grave social problem. As we know, Qaddafi was a disciple of Nasser’s in politics, ideology and religious belief, as well as in his aims. 

A somewhat more advanced and more revolutionary uprising against the monarchy took place in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, in 1958. It ended with the killing of King Faisal and his prime minister, Nuri Said. The “communists” took power there together with General Kassem, a representative of the liberal officers. Only five years later, however, in 1963, there was a coup d’état and Kassem was executed. He was replaced by another officer, Colonel Aref. In 1968 General Al-Bakr came to the head of the state and the “Baath” Party, a party of the reactionary feudal and compradore bourgeoisie, returned to power.

The events which are occurring in Iran and Afghanistan are a positive example for the peoples of neighbouring states, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Emirates of the Persian Gulf, Syria, Egypt and many others, but they also constitute a great danger to the ruling cliques of some countries in this region. Hence, the whole Arab world is in ferment, in evolution. 

The echo of this anti-feudal, anti-imperialist uprising of the Iranian people which is shaking the economic foundations of imperialism and its ambitions for world hegemony extends as far as Indonesia, but there the movement is weaker than in the countries of Central Asia, the Near and Middle East or even North Africa, where the Islamic religion is more compact and the assets are greater. In those regions, for instance in Iran, there is a progressive awakening of the masses, which for the moment is led generally by religious elements who know how to exploit the sentiments of these peoples for freedom and against oppressive imperialism, the monarchist leaders and rapacious feudal cliques of robbers and murderers, etc., etc. Therefore, we must make a Marxist-Leninist analysis of this situation. We cannot accept the tales that the bourgeois revisionist propaganda, American imperialism and world capitalism are spreading that Ayatollah Khomeini or this one or that in Iran are people who do not understand politics or are just as backward as Imam Ali, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein were. This is not true. On the contrary, the facts show that people like Khomeini know how to make proper use of the existing movement of these peoples, which, in essence and in fact, is a progressive bourgeois-democratic and anti-imperialist movement.

Employing various ways and means, the different imperialists and social-imperialists are trying to present themselves as supporters of these movements and win them over for their own aims. At present, however, these movements are in their disfavour, are against them. So true is this that the Soviet social-imperialists were obliged to send their tank regiments and tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers into Afghanistan, in other words, to commit an open fascist aggression against an independent country, in order to place and keep in power their local puppets who were incapable of retaining power without the aid of the bayonets and tanks of the Soviet army, the armed forces of the Soviet Union.

Obviously, this event, this Soviet armed occupation of Afghanistan, was bound to have repercussions and cause concern in international public opinion, to arouse great anger and indignation among the freedom-loving peoples and progressive forces and, from the strategic standpoint, to provoke the anger of their rivals for hegemony, especially of the United States of America. In fact we see that these days the American president, Carter, seems to want to make a move, apparently to create difficulties for the Soviet Union and to strengthen his own positions which are growing steadily weaker, wants to take measures to prevent a possible Soviet invasion of Pakistan, or rather, to stop the Soviet social-imperialists from exploiting the anti-imperialist revolutionary sentiments of the Moslem people of Pakistan for their own ends.

The Pakistani people nurture sympathy for the anti-imperialist movement of their Iranian neighbours, and what is occurring in Iran could occur there, too. Precisely to forestall this eventuality, the United States of America, through President Carter, has proposed to the Pakistani government to dispatch 50,000 soldiers to Pakistan and to increase the supplies of arms, allegedly to cope with the Soviet danger. The United States of America sent its Secretary of Defence to China to concretize and activate the Sino-American alliance. During this visit both sides expressed their concern over the extension of the Soviet social-imperialist expansion in this region and, in connection with this, their determination to defend their own and each other’s imperialist interests. The United States of America promised China the most sophisticated modern armaments.

Is there really a Soviet threat to Pakistan? Yes, there is. However, in Pakistan the anger against Zia-ul-Haq, accompanied by sympathy for Khomeini, might erupt even without the intervention of the Soviets. In order to escape the Soviet pressure and the uprising of the Pakistani people, Zia-ul-Haq himself might link up with the Soviets and thus enable them to justify their intervention in Pakistan. That is why the United States of America is revising its military agreements with Pakistan.

For his part, Carter is trying to preserve the balance, because an intervention of the Soviet Union in Pakistan constitutes a threat to American imperialism in that region of the world. Carter must have influence in Pakistan, also, because that country has a “defence treaty” with the United States of America. Apart from this, in the new situation which has been created in these times in Central Asia, Carter also sees other dangers, such as the return to power of Indira Gandhi who is pursuing her pro-Soviet policy. If the Soviets are able to strengthen their position in India, which is in conflict with Pakistan, the latter country might be more vulnerable from the Soviet side, in other words, the penetration of Soviet influence there would be made easier and would increase. That is why the American imperialists want to forestall the eventuality of a military intervention or the build-up of the Soviet influence in Pakistan. On the other hand, the United States of America is very concerned about the possibility of Soviet pressure on Iran under the pretext of aid against the threats made to that country by American imperialism.

It is clear that the peoples of this region are Moslems and when we say this we have in mind the fact that the majority of them are believers, but their belief is relative and does not predominate over politics. There are also progressive people there who believe in and respect the Koran and religion more as a custom and tradition. When we speak about the overwhelming majority, we have in mind that part of the people to whom the Moslem religion has been presented as a liberal progressive religion which serves the interests of the people and to whom everything preached in its name “is for the good of the people,” because “to wash, to pray and to fast is for the benefit of the health, the physical strengthening and spiritual satisfaction of man,” etc., etc. In other words, people are told that the rites of this religion are “useful” not only for this life but also for the “next life,” after death. This is preached openly. However, the poverty and oppression, schooling and a certain political development have shaken the foundations of this belief.

In general, from all these events and developments, we see that the imperialists and the social-imperialists are in difficulties in these regions of the world. It is understandable that their puppets, likewise, are in difficulties. Both for the former and for the latter it is the progressive, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal revolutionary movement of the popular masses of the Moslem Arab peoples, whether Shia or Sunni, that is the cause of these great difficulties. The whole situation in this region is positive, good, and indicates a revolutionary situation and a major movement of these peoples. At the same time, though, we see efforts made by the enemies of these peoples to restrain this movement or to alter its direction and intensity.

Hence, we must regard these situations, these movements and uprisings of these peoples as revolutionary social movements, irrespective that at first sight they have a religious character or that believers or non-believers take part in them, because they are fighting against foreign imperialism and neo-colonialism or the local monarchies and oppressive feudalism. History gives us many positive examples in this direction when broad revolutionary movements of the popular masses have had a religious character outwardly. Among them we can list the Babist movements in Iran 1848-1851; the Wahabi movement in India which preceded the great popular uprising against the British colonizers in the years 1857-1859; the peasant movements at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century which swept most of the countries of Europe and especially Germany. The Reformation itself, although dressed in a religious cloak, represented a broad socio-political movement against the feudal system and the Catholic Church which defended that system. 

When the vital interests, the freedom and independence of a people are violated, they rise in struggle against any aggressor, even though that aggressor may be of the same religion. This is what occurred, for example, in North Yemen in 1962 when Nasser sent the Egyptian army allegedly to aid that country. Later he was compelled to remove the troops he had sent to Yemen, because a stern conflict began between the people of that country and the Egyptian army, irrespective that both sides professed the one religion.

In South Yemen, with a population of Moslem believers, there was a popular revolutionary movement against British imperialism which owned the port of Aden. Britain would never have left the port of Aden voluntarily, because it constitutes a very important strategic key to the Indian Ocean and the entrance to the Red Sea, but it was the anti-imperialist struggle of the people of Yemen that compelled it to clear out, because remaining there became impossible. After this, in 1970 a “popular democratic” regime which gradually came under the influence of the Soviet social-imperialists, was formed in South Yemen. The revolutionary movement against Soviet social-imperialism is bound to flare up there, if not today certainly in the near future.

Throughout the Principality of Oman there is an anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist revolutionary movement which is also opposed to the ruling Sultan. A similar situation will develop in Ethiopia, Somalia, the countries of the Persian Gulf, etc.

The peoples of the countries of this region are all religious, believe in the Koran and Mohammed, and link the question of the struggle against imperialist oppression with their religion. This is a reality. Obviously, however, we cannot come to the conclusion that it is religion which is causing these revolts and this revolutionary awakening. By no means. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that these peoples believe in the Moslem religion and, at the same time, are fighting heroically for their national and social liberation against imperialism of every hue.

Before Liberation there were people who professed the Moslem religion in Albania, but there was no fanaticism. In the Arab or Moslem countries of Central Asia, too, the classical fanaticism of the past cannot exist, especially today. Such fanaticism can exist neither among the Moslems nor among the Catholics, the Calvinists and other schisms of Christianity. We must not forget the epoch in which we are living. We cannot fail to bear in mind the great development of science today, the growth and strengthening of the revolutionary proletariat and the spread of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism. Today the reactionary religious leaders, lackeys of the feudal order and oppressive monarchies linked with them, who want to keep the people in ignorance and bondage and to combat their liberation movements, incite fanaticism in its classical sense in those countries.

In regard to Khomeini, he is a religious leader, a dedicated believer and an idealist philosopher. He may even be a fanatic, but we see that, at the same time, he is in accord and united with the revolutionary spirit of the Iranian people. Khomeini has taken the side of the opponents of the monarchy. The imperialist bourgeoisie, the supporters of the Pahlavi monarchy and other reactionary forces in the world say that he wants to become a monarch himself. Let them say this, but the fact is that the anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal liberation movement in Iran is in the ascendancy and Khomeini still maintains a good stand in regard to this movement.

What is occurring in Iran might occur also in Pakistan or in the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, it may spark off a revolutionary situation in some other neighbouring country and even in the Soviet Union itself, because social-imperialism and revisionism carry national oppression everywhere and, as a consequence, arouse the national liberation sentiments of the peoples. Socialism and the Marxist-Leninist theory alone provide a just solution to the national question. Today the national rights of nations and peoples have been violated and trampled underfoot in the Soviet Union and wherever American imperialism and international capitalism rule. There is great oppression there, logically, therefore, there will certainly be movement.

We must examine and analyse the present events in Iran as they take place and draw conclusions from them on the basis of the teachings of our Marxist-Leninist theory. In the vanguard of the active forces in the uprising against imperialism and the monarchy in that country, are the religious zealots, the student youth, the workers and intellectuals. So, neither the proletariat nor a genuine Marxist-Leninist party is in the leadership of the movement. On this question we must also bear in mind the fact that we do not really know the strength and the basis of the different political currents in that movement. We know from experience that in our country, too, the working class was not developed, nevertheless, since the objective and subjective factors existed in the conditions of the occupation and the National Liberation War, the Party led the people to victory by basing itself on Marxism-Leninism, which means it put the working class and its vanguard, in other words itself, in the leadership. This is not the case in Iran. In that country there is a Marxist-Leninist party, the Workers and Peasants’ Communist Party of Iran, a young party which, has just been formed, but it is still small, untempered, not linked with the working class and the masses, etc., while the revisionist “Tudeh” Party has existed legally and illegally, is now legal again, but is a tool of the Soviet Union. Hiding behind Marxist-Leninist slogans, this party is sabotaging the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle of the Iranian people and trying to bring Iran into the sphere of influence and under the thraldom of the Soviet Union. That is why the Moslem people of Iran, who have risen in revolution, are not acquainted with Marxism-Leninism either as a theory or a revolutionary practice. The students who are studying at Iran’s Moslem universities with great traditions and of the Shia Moslem sect, are both believers and non-believers in religion. In regard to the secular progressive elements there are those who believe in and are fighting for a liberal bourgeois-democratic state, those who believe in a “progressive” capitalist but anti-communist society, and those who still think that the Soviet Union is a socialist country which represents and applies Leninism. This is one of the reasons that genuine Marxism-Leninism has still not won acceptance in Iran, therefore the people there are fighting for liberation from the yoke of American imperialism and from Soviet influence, but under the banner of Islam. This means that the Shia Moslem clergy are in the leadership, in the vanguard of the uprising, but we have no illusions and know that they are for a bourgeois capitalist regime with religious predominance, hence, a theocratic regime. As to what course the movement against American imperialism and the barbarous compradore monarchy of the Pahlavis will take in the future, this depends mainly on the seething internal forces.

What general definition can be made of these forces?

In the present world situation and at the existing stage of the movement of the peoples for their national and social liberation, the popular revolution in Iran represents a new stage. Regardless of what others do or say, we must document this stage more carefully and make a critical Marxist-Leninist analysis of it.

Iran is a country very rich in oil, hence, has a working class comprised of oil workers and other industrial workers, but also has artisans. Of Iran’s 33 million inhabitants about 17 million are in the countryside and work the land. They are poverty-stricken, oppressed and exploited to the limit by the mullahs, the religious institutions, the big-landed bourgeoisie in the service of the Pahlavis, by the wealthy mercantile and money-lending bourgeoisie linked with the monarchy. Of the total population of Iran 99 per cent are of the Moslem religion and the majority of the Shia sect.

The Pahlavi regime was one of the most barbarous, the most bloodthirsty, the most exploiting, the most corrupt of the modern world. It employed bloodshed and terror to suppress any progressive movement, any even mildly liberal demonstration, any protest or strike of workers or students, and any attempt to develop a small-scale, auxiliary subsistance economy. The savage dictatorship of the Pahlavis was based on the big feudal landowners, the wealthy property-owners that the regime created, the reactionary army and the officer caste which ran it, and on SAVAK , the secret police, which the Shah himself described as “a state within a state.” The Pahlavis ruled by means of terror, robbed the people, enriched themselves in scandalous ways, were the personification of moral and political degeneration, were partners with and sold out to British and American and other imperialisms. The Pahlavis had become the most heavily armed gendarmes of the Persian Gulf under the orders of the CIA.

Iran was oppressed, but the people were seething with revolt, although wholesale executions were carried out every day. The ayatollahs who were discontented with the regime began to move. In 1951, Mossadeq, a representative of the bourgeoisie, supported by the mullahs opposed to the Shah, and by the “Tudeh” Party, seized power. In 1953 the Shah was driven out, but his overthrow and departure were not final, because the CIA organized a putsch, overthrew Mossadeq, brought the Shah back to Iran and restored him to the throne. Thus, Iran became the property of the Americans and the Shah and its oil became their powerful weapon. 

It is characteristic of the revolt of the Iranian people that, despite the great terror, it was not quelled, but continued spasmodically, in different forms and in different intensities. This revolutionary process steadily built up in quality and overcame the stage of fear of suppression

Despite the great terror, in 1977 the opposition to the Shah began to be displayed more forcibly, became more open and active. If we follow these trends opposed to the Shah and his regime separately we shall see that they are to some extent autonomous, but have a common strategy. Thus, we see the opposition of Mossadeq’s supporters, the resistance of the religious forces, the actions and demonstrations of the students, the stands of intellectuals, officials, writers, poets and artists against the regime expressed at rallies, in the universities and in other public places, etc., and together with all these currents we also see the self-defence and resistance of the working class and the whole oppressed and exploited people. SAVAK attacked mercilessly, but the suppression and executions only added to the anger of the masses. This resistance turned into a permanent activity. 

In the same period we see the re-awakening of the political opposition of Mossadeq’s supporters in the National Front. One of the elements of this current was Shapour Bakhtiar, who became prime minister on the eve of the overthrow of Shah Pahlavi. This was the last shot of the Shah and the American imperialists against the Iranian anti-imperialist revolution and Khomeini.

In the course of the development of this political opposition, the “Movement for the Liberation of Iran,” the “Iran Party,” and the “Socialist League of the National Movement of Iran,” broke away. The “Movement for the Liberation of Iran,” which was headed by Bazargan, who became prime minister after the departure of the Shah, was closer to Khomeini and the other imams.

We must always bear in mind that neither this political opposition, nor the religious opposition to the Pahlavis was united. Some of those who comprised this opposition were against the so-called agrarian reform, against the right of women to vote, etc. This section, which comprised conservative clergy, was steadily losing its influence amongst the masses, who were moving closer to that part of the clergy who openly fought the dictatorship of the Shah on the basis of the Shia principles of the Moslem religion. One of these was Ayatollah Khomeini, who was imprisoned, tortured, imprisoned again, and sent into exile and his son murdered. This enhanced the influence of the imam among the people, in the “Bazaar” (the main market centre of Tehran), hence, amongst the merchants, and also amongst the workers. In the rising tide of agitation and the great demonstrations against the Shah, the masses demanded the return of the Imam to the homeland. The death of his son and of a political personality, Ali Shariat, in mysterious circumstances led to the emergence of the religious elements in the forefront of the clashes and the whole people united with them, especially in Tabriz on February 18-19, 1977, as well as in Tehran, Qum and other Iranian cities. Al l this testifies to the fighting spirit of the people of Iran. As a result the Pahlavi monarchy was quite incapable of resisting the repeated waves of the onslaught of the insurgent people. 

Hence, in this climate of progressive insurgency against feudalism, the monarchy and imperialism, the Marxist-Leninists must analyse the various political trends, the orientations of these trends, the alliances and contradictions between them inside Iran and with the capitalist-revisionist world outside that country.

At present we see an active and militant unity of the uprising against American imperialism and the Shah and, to some extent, also against Soviet social-imperialism, and, at the same time, we also see increased vigilance and opposition towards all other capitalist states, though not so open and active as against the Americans. This situation will certainly undergo evolution. We see that the universities in Iran have become centres of fiery manifestations with both political and religious tendencies, and likewise see that the religious opposition and the political opposition are uniting. Thus, despite the contradictions which exist between them, it seems that the supporters of Mossadeq and those of Khomeini are moving closer together. In Tabriz, which has an important working class, apart from the oil workers, we can say that this unity has been brought about. Similar things are taking place at Abadan and the other regions where there are oil-fields and refineries. 

The Iranian Marxist-Leninists must, in particular, submit the strength and orientations of the working class to a Marxist-Leninist analysis and then their party must base its activity on this analysis, go among the working class, educate it and clarify it politically and ideologically, while tempering itself together with the working class in this revolutionary class struggle which, far from being ended, has only begun and will certainly assume diverse aspects. The revolutionary activity of the working class and the Marxist-Leninist ideology alone must become the factor deciding the correct directions which this anti-imperialist revolution must take. Certainly, in the present situation in Iran much can and must be gained from the revolutionary force of the Iranian working class, by the progressive elements, and especially by the students and the poor and middle peasantry. 

The Marxist-Leninists will be committing a mistake if they do not understand the situation created and do not utilize it in the right way, if they come out as anti-religious fighters and thus damage their anti-imperialist and anti-feudal unity with the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini and the followers of Mossadeq’s, Bazargan’s or others’ anti-imperialist bourgeois-democratic parties and movements.

Although anti-religious in their principles, the Iranian Marxist-Leninists must not for the moment wage a struggle against the religious beliefs of the people who have risen in revolt against oppression and are waging a just struggle politically, but are still unformed ideologically and will have to go through a great school in which they will learn. The Marxist-Leninists must teach the people to assess the events that are taking place in the light of dialectical and historical materialism. However, our world outlook cannot be assimilated easily in isolation from the revolutionary drive of the masses or from the anti-imperialist trends that are trying to remain in the leadership and to manoeuvre to prevent the bourgeois-democratic reforms of the revolution. The Iranian Marxist-Leninists and working class must play a major role in those revolutionary movements, having a clear understanding of the moments they are going through; they must not let the revolution die down. The working class and its true Marxist-Leninist vanguard should have no illusions about the “deep-going” bourgeois-democratic measures and reforms which the Shia clergy or the anti-Shah elements of the old and new national bourgeoisie might carry out. Certainly, if the working class, the poor peasantry and the progressive students, whether believers or non-believers, allow the impetus of the revolution to ebb away, which means that they do not proceed with determination and maturity towards alliances and activities conducive to successive political and socio-economic reforms, then the revolution will stop halfway, the masses will be disillusioned and the exploitation of them will continue in other forms by pseudo-democratic people linked in new alliances with the different imperialists. 

These special new revolutionary situations which are developing among the peoples of Islamic religious beliefs must be studied, conclusions must be drawn from them and new forms of struggle, action and alliances must be found. These revolutionary situations are much more advanced than those in Europe and Asia and, to some degree, even Latin America, where the revolutionary movements have assumed a petrified form, linked with and led by reformist and counter-revolutionary social-democracy and modern revisionism.

For instance, we do not see such revolts of a marked revolutionary political spirit occur in Europe where there is a big and powerful proletariat. For what reasons? For all those reasons which are known and have to do with the grave counter-revolutionary influence and sabotage of social-democracy and modern revisionism. The question is not that there is no exploitation on our continent, and therefore there are no movements. No, here, too, there is exploitation and there are movements, but they are of another nature. They are not “very deep-going, Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movements” which are waiting “for the situation to ripen,” etc., as the social-democrats, revisionists and other lackeys of the capitalist bourgeoisie describe them. No, the capitalist bourgeoisie itself and its lackeys do not permit such situations to ripen, do not permit such occurrences as are going on at present in the Arab-Moslem countries, where the revolutionary masses rise in struggle and create difficult situations for imperialism, feudalism and the cosmopolitan capitalist bourgeoisie.

Some claim that the Arab peoples and the peoples of the other Moslem countries are moving, because they are “poor!” Indeed, they are poor. But those who say this must admit that they themselves have become bourgeois and that is why they do not rise against oppression and exploitation, while the truth is that capitalism barbarously oppresses and exploits the peoples everywhere, without exception.

It is claimed, also, that in the countries of Islamic religion, the “masses are backward,” therefore, they are easily set in motion. This means that those who support this reasoning have degenerated and are not for revolution, because at a time when capitalism is in decay, honest people must be revolutionary and rise in struggle against capitalism, aiming the weapons they posses against it. Here, in Europe, however, we do not see such a thing. On the contrary, we see the “theory” of adaptation to the existing situation being preached.

Political debates are organized all over the capitalist countries. It has become fashionable for the social-democrats, the Christian-democrats, the revisionists and all sorts of other people in these countries to talk about “revolution” and allegedly revolutionary actions, and each of them tries in his own way to confuse and mislead the working masses with these slogans. The “leftists” scream for “revolutionary measures,” but immediately set the limits, “explaining” that “revolutionary measures must not be undertaken everywhere and in all fields,” but that only “certain changes must be made,” that is, a few crumbs must be thrown to the masses, who are demanding radical revolutionary changes, in order to deceive them and to hinder and sabotage the revolutionary drive of the masses.

We must analyse these situations and phenomena in theoretical articles or in other forms and with other means of our propaganda on the Marxist-Leninist course, with the aim of explaining the essence of the revolt and uprisings of peoples against imperialism, neo-colonialism and local rulers, of explaining the question of the survival of old religious traditions, etc. This does not rule out our support for liberation movements, because such movements occurred even before the time of Marx, as mentioned above. To wait until religion is first eliminated and carry out the revolution only after this, is not in favour of the revolution or the peoples. 

In the situation today, the people who have risen in revolt and believe in religion are no longer at the stage of consciousness of Spartacus, who rose against the Roman Empire, against the slave-owners, but they are seething with revolt against the barbarous oppression and exploitation and policy of imperialism and social-imperialism. The slaves’ revolt led by Spartacus, as Marx and Engels explain, was progressive, as were the beginnings of Christianity.

In these very important situations we see that the other peoples of Africa have risen, too, but not with the force and revolutionary drive of the Arab peoples, the Iranians, etc. This is another problem which must be examined in order to find the reasons why they, too, do not rise and why they are not inspired to the same level as the peoples that I mentioned. It is true that the African peoples are oppressed, too, indeed, much more oppressed than the Arab peoples, the Iranians and others. Likewise, Marxism has still not spread to the proper extent in Africa, and then there is also the influence of religion, although not on the same scale as in the Moslem countries. Work must be done in Africa to disseminate the Marxist-Leninist theory more extensively and deeply. That is even more virgin terrain, with oppressed peoples, amongst whom the sense of religion is still in an infantile stage. There are peoples in Africa who still believe in the heavenly powers of the sun, the moon, magic, etc., they have pagan beliefs which have not crystallized into an ideology and a concrete theology such as the Moslem religion, let alone the Christian or Buddhist religions and their sects. Although there is savage oppression and exploitation in Africa, the movement in this region of the world is developing more slowly. This is because the level of social development in Africa is lower. 

If we take these questions and examine them in unity, we shall see that at the present stage of development, Islam as a whole is playing an active role in the anti-imperialist liberation struggles of the Moslem peoples, while in the European countries and some other countries where the Catholic religion operates, preaching the submissive Christian philosophy of “turn the other cheek,” its leaders take a reactionary stand and try to hinder the movement, therevolt, the uprising of the masses for national and social liberation. Of course, in those countries the oppressive power of the bourgeoisie and capitalism, social-democracy and modern revisionism is greater, but the Catholic religion, too, serves to suppress the revolutionary spirit of the masses in order to keep the situation in stagnation.

From the stand-point of economic development the Moslem peoples have been held back; as a consequence of colonialist occupation and colonialist and neo-colonialist exploitation in past decades the Moslem religion in those countries was suppressed by the Catholic or Protestant religions which were represented by the foreign invaders, a thing which has not passed without consequences and without resistance, and herein we might find a political and ideological-religious reason for the anti-imperialist revolution of the Moslem peoples.

The question presents itself that we should look at the present stage of development of the Moslem religion as compared with past centuries. The development of human society has exerted an influence that has made the Moslem religious belief less and less functional. That is, it has been infiltrated by a certain liberalism which is apparent in the fact that, while the Moslem believer truly believes in the Islamic religion, today he is no longer like the believer of the Middle Ages or the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Today the veiled women in the Moslem countries have those same feelings which our veiled women had before Liberation, as for example in Kavaja [town in central Albania – E.S.] although, of course, not completely those of women as progressive as ours were. Nevertheless, the feelings of revolt exist deep in their hearts, and are expressed to the extent that public opinion permits. Today the Iranian women are involved in the broad movement of the Iranian people against the Shah and imperialism.

Hence, we see that religious oppression exists in the countries with Moslem populations, too, but the religion itself has undergone a certain evolution, especially in its outward manifestations. Let me make this quite clear, religion has not disappeared in those countries, but a time has come in which the spirit of revolt, on the one hand, and the liberalization of the religion, on the other, are impelling people who believe in the Islamic dogmas to rise against those who call themselves religious and want to exercise the former norms of the religion in order to suppress the peoples and keep them in poverty. Their struggle against imperialists, whom they continue to call infidels, that is, their enemies, enemies of their religion, is linked precisely with this. These peoples understand that the foreign occupiers are people of Catholic or Protestant beliefs who want to oppress both countries and religions. The westerners call this religious antagonism, which also contains the class antagonism against foreign occupiers, simply a religious struggle, or apply other incorrect denigrating epithets to it. This is how they are treating the liberation struggles of the Moslem peoples of Arab and non-Arab countries in Asia and Africa today and even the liberation struggle of the Irish people, most of whom are Catholics, against the British occupiers who are Protestants. At the same time, we see incorrect manifestations also among the Moslem peoples who have risen in revolt. They, too, say: “The Giaours, unscrupulous people who are against our religion, are oppressing us,” etc. In this way they link the question of national liberation with the religious question, that is, they see the social and economic oppression which is imposed on them by imperialism as religious oppression. In the future the other Moslem peoples will certainly reach that stage of development which the people of Algeria, Syria and some other countries have reached on these matters. 

These struggles lead not only to increased sympathy for the peoples who rise in revolt, but also to unity with them, because they are all Moslems. If a people rise against imperialism and the reactionary chiefs ruling their country, who use religion as a means of oppression, this uprising destroys the sense of religion even among those who believe in it at the moment. When a people rise in insurrection against oppression, then the revolutionary sentiment is extended and deepened and people reach the stage which makes them think somewhat more clearly about the question of religion. Until yesterday the poor peasant in Iran said only “inshallah!” and comforted himself with this, but now he understands that nothing can be gained through “inshallah!” In the past all these peoples said, “Thus it has been decreed,” but now the masses of believers have risen united and come out in the streets, arms in hand, to demand their rights and freedom. And certainly, when they demand to take the land, the peasants in those countries will undoubtedly have to do battle for the great possessions of the religious institutions, that is, with the clergy. That is why the sinister forces of reaction are making such a great fuss about the fanatical aspect, about the question of putting the women back under the veil, etc., etc., because they are trying to discredit the Iranian revolution, because imperialism and world capitalism have a colossal support in religion. This is how matters stand with the Vatican, too, with the policy of that great centre of the most reactionary world obscurantism, with the mentality and outlook of Catholics. But the revolution disperses the religious fog. This will certainly occur with the Arab peoples, with the other Moslem peoples, who are rising in insurrection, and with the peoples of other faiths, that is, there will be progress towards the disappearance, the elimination of religious beliefs and the religious leadership. This is a major problem.

Here we are talking about whole peoples who are rising in revolt in the Moslem countries, whether Arab or otherwise. There are no such movements in Europe. On this continent social-democratic reformist parties and forces operate. The number of Marxist-Leninist parties here is still small, while there are big revisionist parties, which operate contrary to people’s interests and sentiments, have lost credibility among the masses, and support capitalism, imperialism and social-imperialism. The Moslem peoples of the Arab and non-Arab countries trust neither the American imperialists nor the Soviet social-imperialists, because they represent great powers which are struggling to oppress and plunder the Moslem peoples; also, as Moslems they put no trust in the religious beliefs of those powers.

As a result, the uprising which is developing in Iran and Afghanistan is bound to have consequences throughout the Moslem world. Hence, if the Marxist-Leninist groups, our comrades in these and other countries of this region properly understand the problems emerging from the events in Iran, Afghanistan and other Moslem countries, then all the possibilities exist for them to do much work. However, they must work cautiously there. In those countries religion cannot be eliminated with directives, extremist slogans or erroneous analyses. In order to find the truth we must analyse the activity of those forces in the actual circumstances, because many things, true and false, are being said about them, as is occurring with Ayatollah Khomeini, too. True, he is religious, but regardless of this, analysis must be made of his anti-imperialist attitudes and actions, which, willy-nilly, bring grist to the mill of the revolution. 

This whole development of events is very interesting. Here the question of religion is entangled with political issues, in the sympathy and solidarity between peoples. What I mean is that if the leadership of a certain country were to rise against the revolt of the Iranian people, then it would lose its political positions within the country and the people would rise in opposition, accuse the government of links with the United States of America, with the “giaours,” because they are against Islam. This is because these peoples see Islam as progressive, while the United States represents that force which oppresses them, not only from the social aspect but also from the spiritual aspect. That is why we see that none of these countries is coming out openly to condemn the events in Iran.

Another obstacle which reaction is using to sabotage the revolution of the Iranian people is that of inciting feuds and raising the question of national minorities. Reaction is inciting the national sentiments in Azerbaijan, inciting the Kurds, etc., etc., in order to weaken this great anti-imperialist and “pro-Moslem” uprising of the Iranian people. The incitement of national sentiments has been and is a weapon in the hands of imperialism and social-imperialism and all reaction to sabotage the anti-imperialist and national liberation wars. Therefore, the thesis of our Party that the question of settling the problems of national minorities is not a major problem at present, is correct. Now the Kurds, the Tadjiks, the Azerbaijanis and others ought to rise in struggle against imperialism and its lackeys and, if possible, rise according to the teachings and inspiration of Marxism-Leninism. The Kurds, the Tadjiks and the Azerbaijanis who live in the Soviet Union and are oppressed and enslaved today, must rise, first of all, against Russian social-imperialism.

In broad outline this is how the situation in these regions presents itself and these are some of the problems which emerge. The events will certainly develop further. Our task is to analyse these situations and events which are taking place in the Moslem world, using the Marxist-Leninist theory as the basis, and to define our stands so that they assist a correct understanding of these events, and thus, make our contribution to the successful development of the people’s revolutionary movement.

Enver Hoxha, “Reflections on the Middle East,” Tirana; 1984; pp. 355-392

Enver Hoxha on Africa

HoxhameetsAfricans

Africa is a mosaic of peoples with an ancient culture. Each African people has its own culture, customs, way of life, which, with some variations, are at a very backward stage, for well-known reasons. The awakening of the bulk of these peoples has only recently begun. De jure, the African peoples, in general, have won their freedom and independence. But there can be no talk of genuine freedom and independence, since most of them are still in a colonial or neo-colonial state.

Many of these countries are governed by the chieftains of the old tribes who have seized power and rely on the old colonialists, or the US imperialists and the Soviet social-imperialists. The methods of government in these states at this stage are not and cannot be other than a marked survival of colonialism. The imperialists are ruling most of the African countries again through their concerns, their capital invested in industry, banks, etc. The overwhelming bulk of the wealth of these countries continues to flow to the metropolises.

Some of the African countries have fought for that freedom and independence they enjoy today, while the others have had it granted without fighting. During their colonial rule in Africa, the British, French and other colonizers oppressed the peoples but they also created a local bourgeoisie, more or less educated in the Occidental manner. The leading figures today, have also emerged from this bourgeoisie. Among them there are many anti-imperialist elements, fighters for the independence of their own countries, but the majority either remain loyal to the old colonizers, in order to preserve the close relations with them even after the f ormal abolition of colonialism, or have entered into economic and political dependence on the US imperialists or the Soviet social-imperialists.

The colonizers did not make large investments in the past. This was the case, for instance, with Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, etc. However, the colonizers drained the wealth of all these countries, seized large tracts of land, and developed a proletariat, by no means small in number, in some special branches of the industry, such as in the extraction and processing of raw materials. They also drew large numbers of workers to the metropolises, such as to France, for instance, but also to Britain, as a cheap labour force which worked in the colonizers mines and the factories.

In the other parts of Africa, especially in Black Africa, industrial development remained more backward. All the countries of this region were divided up, especially between France, Britain, Belgium and Portugal. Great underground riches, like diamonds, iron, copper, gold, tin, etc., were discovered there long ago, and industry to mine and process minerals has been set up there.

In many African countries, large, typically colonial cities, were built, where the colonizers lived a fabulous life. Now, on the one hand, the local great bourgeoisie and its wealth is growing and developing there, while on the other hand, the impoverishment of the broad masses of working people is increasing still more. In these countries a certain degree of cultural development has been achieved, but it has more of a European character. The local culture has not developed. It has generally remained at the stage reached by the tribes and is not represented outside them, in the centres with towering sky-scrapers. This has come about because, outside the large centres, were the colonizers lived, stark misery and extreme poverty existed, hunger, disease, ignorance and ruthless exploitation of the people, in the full meaning of the term, reigned supreme.

The African population remained culturally and economically undeveloped and continuously diminished in numbers, declining because of colonial wars, the savage racial persecution, and the traffic in African negroes, who were sent to the metropolises, the United States of America, and other countries to work like animals in the plantations of cotton and other crops, as well as in the heaviest jobs in industry and construction.

For these reasons, the African peoples still have a great struggle ahead of them. This is and will be a very complicated struggle, differing from one country to another, because of the state of their economic, cultural and educational development, the degree of their political awakening, the great influence which the different religions, such as the Christian and Moslem religions, the old pagan beliefs, etc., exert on the masses of these peoples. This struggle becomes still more difficult since many of these countries are actually under the domination of neo-colonialism combined with that of local bourgeois-capitalist cliques. The law there is made by those powerful capitalist and imperialist states which subsidize or control the ruling cliques, which they set up and remove whenever the interests of the neo-colonialists require or when the balance of these interests is upset.

The policy pursued by the big landowners, the reactionary bourgeoisie, the imperialists and the neo-colonialists is intended to keep the African peoples in permanent bondage, in ignorance, to hinder their social, political and ideological development, and to obstruct their struggle to gain these rights. At present we see that those same imperialists who used to lord it over these peoples in the past, as well as other new imperialists, are trying to penetrate into the African continent, by meddling in every way in the internal affairs of the peoples. As a result of this, the contradictions among imperialists, between the peoples and the bourgeois-capitalist leaderships of most of these countries, and between the peoples and the new colonizers, are becoming more and rnore severe every day.

These contradictions must be utilized by the peoples, both to deepen them and to benefit from them. But this can be achieved only through resolute struggle by the proletariat, the poor peasantry, by all the oppressed and the slaves, against imperialism and neo-colonialism, against the local big bourgeoisie, the big landowners and their whole establishment. A special role in this struggle devolves upon progressives and democrats, the revolutionary youth and patriotic intellectuals, who aspire to see their own countries advancing free and independent, on the path of development and progress. Only through continuous and organized struggle by them will life be made difficult for the local and foreign oppressors and exploiters and government impossible. This situation will be prepared in the specific circumstances of each African state.

British and US imperialism have not given to the peoples of Africa any freedom. Everybody can see what is happening in South Africa, for instance. The white racists, the British capitalists, the exploiters, are ruling there, savagely oppressing the coloured peoples of that state, where the law of jungle prevails. Many other countries of Africa are dominated by the concerns and capital of the United States of America, Britain, France, Belgium, and other old colonialists and imperialists, who have become somewhat weaker, but who still hold the keys to the economies of these countries.

In irreconcilable struggle against the revisionists and other opportunists, against all the lackeys of the bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Castroite, Khrushchevite, Trotskyite, <<three worlds>>, and other such views and practices, they have worked out a correct political line and accumulated sufficient experience in the struggle to put this line into practice, becoming the bearers of all the revolutionary tradition of the past, in order to use it and develop it further to the advantage of the workers’ and liberation movement, the preparation and raising of the masses in revolution.

The revolutionary situations existing today make it essential for these parties to maintain the closest possible contacts and consult with one another as frequently as possible, to be able to gain the maximum benefits from one another’s experience and co-ordinate their stands and actions on the common problems of the struggle against the reactionary bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Soviet, Chinese and other brands of modern revisionism, and on all the problems of the revolution.

Now that the peoples have awakened and refuse to live any longer under the imperialist and colonial yoke, now that they are demanding freedom, independence, development and progress, and are seething with anger against foreign and internal oppressors, now that Africa, Latin America and Asia have become a boiling cauldron the old and new colonialists are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to dominate and exploit the peoples of these countries by means of the previous methods and forms. They are quite unable to do without their plunder and exploitation of the wealth, the toil and the blood of these peoples. That is why all these efforts are being made to find new methods and forms of deception, plunder and exploitation, to dispense some alms, which, again, do not benefit the masses, but the bourgeois-land owner ruling classes.

Meanwhile the question has been made even more complicated, because Soviet social-imperialism long ago began to penetrate and entrench itself more and more deeply in the former colonies and semi-colonies, and because social-imperialist China has begun to make feverish efforts to get in there, too.

The revisionist Soviet Union carries out its expansionist interference under the guise of its allegedly Leninist policy of aid for the peoples’ liberation struggle, posing as the natural ally of these countries and peoples. As a means to penetrate into Africa and elsewhere, the Soviet revisionists employ and spread slogans of a socialist colour in order to deceive the peoples who aspire to liberate themselves, to liquidate oppression and exploitation, and who know that the only road to complete national and social liberation is socialism.

The Soviet Union also involves its allies, or better, its satellites in its interference. We are seeing this concretely in Africa, where the Soviet social-imperialist and their Cuban mercenaries are intervening on the pretext that they are assisting the revolution. This is a lie. Their intervention is nothing but a colonialist action aimed at capturing markets and subjugating peoples.

The intervention of the Soviet Union and its Cuban mercenaries in Angola is of this nature. They have never had the slightest intention of assisting the Angolan revolution, but their aim was and is to get their claws into that African country which had won a certain independence after the expulsion of the Portuguese colonialists. The Cuban mercenaries are the colonial army dispatched by the Soviet Union to capture markets and strategic positions in the countries of Black Africa, and to go on from Angola to other states, to enable the Soviet social-imperialists, too, to create a modern colonial empire.

Under the cloak of aid for peoples’ liberation the Soviet Union and its mercenary, Cuba, are intervening in other countries with armies equipped with artillery and machine-guns, allegedly to build socialism, which does not exist in either the Soviet Union or Cuba. These two bourgeois-revisionist states intervened in Angola in order to help a capitalist clique seize power, contrary to the aims of the Angolan people who had fought to win their freedom from the Portuguese colonialists. Agostinho Neto is playing the game of the Soviets. In the struggle against the other faction, in order to seize power for himself, he called in the Soviets to help him. The struggle between the two opposing Angolan clans did not have anything of a people’s revolutionary character.

The fight between them was a struggle of cliques for power. Each of them was supported by different imperialist states. Agostinho Neto emerged the winner from this contest, while socialism did not triumph in Angola. On the contrary, following the intervention from abroad, Soviet neo-colonialism has been established there.

Social-imperialist China, too, is making great efforts to penetrate into the former colonial and semi-colonial countries.

An example of how China intervenes is provided by Zaire, a country ruled by the clique around Mobutu, the wealthiest and most bloodthirsty clique on the African continent. In the fighting which flared up in Zaire recently, the Moroccans of the Sherifian Kingdom of Morocco, the French air force, and China, too, all rushed to the aid of Mobutu, the murderer of Patrice Lumumba. The assistance given by the French is understandable, because with their intervention they were defending their concessions and concerns in Katanga, and at the same time, protecting their men, as well as Mobutu and his clique. But what do the Chinese revisionists want in Katanga? Whom are they assisting there? Are they helping the people of Zaire who are being suppressed by Mobutu and his clique and by the French, Belgian, US and other concession holders? Or are not they, too, assisting the blood-thirsty Mobutu clique? The fact is that the Chinese revisionist leadership is assisting this clique not indirectly, but quite openly. To make this assistance more concrete and more demonstrative, it sent its foreign minister, Huang Hua there, as well as military experts and military and economic aid. Thus, it acted in an anti-Marxist, anti-revolutionary way. China’s interference has exactly the same features as that of King Hassan of Morocco and that of France.

The Chinese social-imperialists are interfering not only in the affairs of that country, but also in other affairs of the peoples and countries of Africa and other continents, especially in those countries into which they are striving to penetrate in every way, in order to establish economic, political and strategic bases there.

Enver Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution, Excerpts from “The Peoples’ Liberation Struggle – a Component Part of the World Revolution”

France in Mali: The longue durée of imperial blowback

The present intervention in Mali, however necessary and well-intentioned it is, may produce its own blowback [Reuters]

The present intervention in Mali, however necessary and well-intentioned it is, may produce its own blowback [Reuters]

The current crisis in Mali is a product of French colonialism, and their intervention will sadly create more blowback.

The dispatching of French soldiers to beat back rapidly advancing Salafi militants in northern Mali represents the convergence of multiple circles of blowback from two centuries of French policies in Africa. Some date back to the beginning of the 19th century, others to policies put in place during the last few years. Together, they spell potential disaster for France and the United States (the two primary external Western actors in Mali today), and even more so for Mali and the surrounding countries.

Only two outcomes, together, can prevent the nightmare scenario of a huge failed state in the heart of Africa spreading violence across the continent. First, the French-led assault on the north must manage to force most of the Salafi fighters out of the populated areas presently under their control and install a viable African-led security force that can hold the population centres for several years. If that weren’t difficult enough, French and international diplomats must create space for the establishment of a much more representative and less corrupt Malian government, one which can and will negotiate an equitable resolution to the decades long conflict with the Touareg peoples of the North, whose latest attempt violently to carve out a quasi-independent zone in the north early last year helped create the political and security vacuum so expertly, if ruthlessly, exploited by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM) and its allied radical groups.

The first and largest circle of blowback returns to French colonial policy in North and West Africa, which was responsible for the creation of most of the states that are involved in the present conflict. France began deliberately to colonise large swaths of West Africa at the start of the 19th century, gaining control of what today is Mauritania and Senegal by 1815, followed by the invasion of Algeria in 1830, Tunisia in 1881, French Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and the French Sudan (which would become Mali) – in the 1890s, Niger in 1903-4 and Morocco in 1912.

Carved from colonialism

It is impossible to know how the map of Africa would have evolved without European colonialism to shape it. What is sure, however, is that the European “scramble for Africa” that dominated the 19th century – and in which local rulers played a willing part whenever it served their interests – ensured that European powers would create the territorial foundation for modern nation-states whose borders bore little correspondence to the ethnic and religious geography of the continent. Mali in particular was composed of several distinct ethnic, linguistic and what today are considered “racial” groups. Its brief and ill-fated union with Senegal at the time of independence in 1960 highlights the artificial foundation of the region’s states and their borders.

The lack of consideration for local ethnic, religious and cultural dynamics and the colonial imperative to arrogate as much territory under one rule as possible created a situation in which states with areas over twice the size of France and population groups which had little historical or cultural reason to live under one sovereignty and had few natural resources of comparative advantages to support themselves, were nevertheless forced to do just that; first, under foreign rule, whose main goal – whatever the “civilising mission” proclaimed by Paris – was to extract as much wealth and resources as possible and enforce control by whatever means necessary, then under postcolonial indigenous governments whose policies towards their people often differed little on the ground from their colonial predecessors.

Indeed, even those countries which secured independence peacefully were structurally deformed by foreign rule and the establishment of states with borders that did not naturally correspond to the political and cultural ecologies of the regions in which they were created. As epitomised by the plight of the Mali’s Touareg communities (who are spread across the Sahel much like Kurds are spread across the countries of the Fertile Crescent), most states in West, North and Central Africa wound up including significant populations who were different from, and thus disadvantaged by, the group who assumed power. At the same time, post-independence governments were riven by corruption and narrow loyalties, with leaders who were most often unwilling to pursue or incapable of pursuing a truly national, democratic vision of development.

In such a situation, religion, which might have played a positive role in shaping morally grounded public spheres and economies, became marginalised from governance, while slowly taking hold in a toxic form among many of the region’s most marginalised peoples.

Supporting the wrong team

If France’s colonial history created the structures in which the present crisis inevitably has unfolded, a more recent set of policies constitutes the second circle of blowback; namely, France’s unreserved support for the Algerian government in its repression of the democratic transition that began in 1988 and was crushed in 1992. As is well known, rather than allow the Islamic Salvation Front – a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired group not that different in its roots and outlook than its Egyptian or Tunisian mainstream Islamist counterparts – to take power after its clear electoral victory in the first round of the 1991-92 parliamentary elections, the Algerian military cancelled the next round and began a crackdown that quickly exploded into a civil war between the military government and radical Islamist groups.

Faced with the choice of allowing a new, Islamist political actor take the reigns of power, France, joined by the US, chose to support the Algerian military, with whom it had retained close relations. In allying with an authoritarian, brutal and corrupt government the French, and the West more broadly, became party to a vicious conflict that saw the emergence of a dangerous terrorist group, the GIA (Armed Islamic Group), quite possibly controlled at least in part by the military itself, and the subsequent bloody decade-long civil war that cost the lives of well over 100,000 civilians.

The GIA in turn was the kernel out of which another group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, and then al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghbrib, emerged. These groups focused their attention on North Africa for much of the last decade, but gradually moved more deeply into the Sahelian regions linking Algeria to Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Morocco.

Had France and the West not given unreserved support to the Algerian military, it is highly unlikely that these groups would have been created, never mind grown to their present position (a similar argument could of course be made about the main branch of al-Qaeda, which is so many ways was a direct product of unceasing US support for some of the most corrupt and brutal regimes in the world, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan).

As in so many other cases, France and its Western allies chose stability over democracy. In so doing it inevitably, if ironically, set the stage for the present chaos in which its troops are being forced to fight.

Supporting the wrong team… again

The third and most recent circle of blowback stems from France’s longstanding support for Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Specifically, French President Nicolas Sarkozy offered strong support for Ben Ali at the start of the crisis, specifically including, as foreign affairs minister Michèle Alliot-Marie described it, “the savoir-faire, recognised throughout the world of [French] security forces in order to settle security situations of this type”. The French president’s words embarrassed his government once the protests picked up steam to the point of creating a “crisis of credibility” that necessitated Sarkozy’s “admission of mistakes” in supporting Ben Ali against the revolutionaries.

So strong was Sarkozy’s embarrassment that when the Libyan crisis erupted, France took the lead in pressing for Western military intervention to force Gaddafi from power in order to absolve itself of its Tunisian sins. Yet it was precisely the launching of NATO’s air war and military support for the Libyan rebels that led to the exodus of well-trained fighters and significant weapons stocks from Libya into Niger, Mali and other parts of the Sahel in the wake of the crumbling of Gaddafi’s state. The chaos and spread of weapons generated by the Libya war put crucial numbers of men and arms into play in northern Mali at a particularly dangerous moment in the country’s history, when long oppressed Touaregs, who’d been recipients of Gaddafi’s largesse in the past (and some of whom in fact fought for Gaddafi), were once again primed to rebel against the central government.

This situation became even more ripe for chaos with the unexpected and apparently unintended military coup against the country’s soon to be retired president, Amadou Toumani Touré, in March, 2012, which created an even bigger power vacuum throughout the country.

The blowback’s blowback

Here we see decades, and indeed centuries, of French and broader European and American policies coming together to produce maximum chaos. This in turn was strengthened by the blowback from longstanding local conflicts, from the hostility of Mali’s military leadership to the extremely poor rank and file conscripts (which prompted the protests that sent the President to flight in March, 2012) to the inability of the broader Touareg rebel movement to set aside its tradition of violent resistance and embrace a younger generation of activists, who were advocating a revolutionary movement that was much closer to the soon to erupt Arab Spring than to the violent insurrection for which Touaregs had long been known. Almost a year later, the army has lost control over the majority of the country, while Touaregs have been largely sidelined from the revolt they started by Salafi groups aligned with al-Qaeda.

What is most interesting in this regard is that the present blowback had significant advance warning and should in fact have been anticipated by French and Western policymakers in the planning of the Libyan war. North Africa experts, such as Sciences Po political scientist Jean-Pierre Filiu, were pointing out already in 2010 that al-Qaeda in the Maghrib and other salafi fighting groups were moving away from their focus on Algeria and towards developing a strategic presence, and even “new theatre” in the Sahel, with the ultimate aim of destabilising those countries.

These jihadis “now represent a serious security threat in northern parts of Mali and Niger”, Filiu explained, because of numerous kidnappings, smuggling and other illicit activities the recruitment of a “new generation” of fighters from the many poor communities of the region. This reality of clearly increased operations by radical Islamist groups in northern Mali, coupled with the increase in Touareg agitation and Gaddafi’s well-known use of various nomadic groups as mercenaries, should have raised loud alarms among French and Western policymakers in the lead up to the decision to enter for Libyan civil war.

Indeed, on the US side, the American Ambassador to Mali warned already in 2004 that Mali is a “remote, tribal and barely governed swath of Africa… a potential new staging ground for religious extremism and terrorism similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban… If Mali goes, the rest goes”. This warning was made just as the US military was deepening its military presence across the continent, culminating in the creation of AFRICOM in 2008.

Given the clear attention being paid to the Sahel in the last decade by French and US policymakers, we can only assume that either they were utterly incompetent in failing to understand the inevitable results of Western military intervention in Libya, or saw that as a win-win situation, providing a new theatre in a strategically rising area of the world in which US, French and Western militaries could become increasingly engaged (and in so doing, keep rivals such as China further at bay).

Either way, just as previous African interventions generated the blowback that helped create the present Malian crisis, the present intervention in Mali, however necessary, well-intentioned and even wished for by the majority of Malians (to the extent the wishes of Malians can even be determined that clearly), will no doubt produce its own blowback, which will claim the lives of many more Africans, French, American and other Western citizens.

Source

Forever in Chains: The Tragic History of Congo

Nsala, of the district of Wala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter, Boali, who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company (A.B.I.R.) militia. Source: E. D Morel, King Leopold's rule in Africa, between pages 144 and 145

Nsala, of the district of Wala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter, Boali, who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company (A.B.I.R.) militia. Source: E. D Morel, King Leopold’s rule in Africa, between pages 144 and 145

FRIDAY 28 JULY 2006

The most blighted nation on earth goes to the polls this weekend – more in hope than expectation that stability and peace might result. In Congo, mass suffering has been a way of life ever since the Belgian King Leopold enslaved millions in the 19th century. Paul Vallely traces the story of a people for whom the horror never let up

One picture sums it up. It shows a man named Nsala sitting on the porch of a missionary’s house in the Congo. His face is a portrait of impenetrable sorrow.

Before him lie a small hand and foot. It is all that remains of his five-year-old daughter who has – together with his wife and son – been killed, dismembered, cooked and eaten by soldiers.

The photograph was taken during the biggest atrocity in recorded African history. And it was perpetrated not by Africans, but by Europeans.

No one knows how many people died, but it was at least three million men, women and children. Some historians say it was five million, or 10 million. The Encyclopaedia Britannica has said that as many as 30 million people may have perished.

It is but a single chapter in the long and bloody history of the Congo. This weekend, voters go to the polls in Democratic Republic of Congo for the first elections in 40 years, during which havoc has been wreaked by despotism and war. But will Sunday’s poll do anything to change lives there for the better?

The first that was written of the hot and humid river basin that straddles the Equator on the west of the great African continent came from Portuguese travellers in the 15th century. They had encountered a place called the Kingdom of Kongo and, with its capital city of Mbanza Kongo, it had a population close to half a million people. It was a highly developed state at the centre of an extensive trading network.

Merchants traded all manner of raw materials, the most precious of which was ivory, but which also included a wealth of manufactured goods such as copper and ironware, raffia cloth and pottery. It was also a centre for the buying and selling of individuals captured in war. Long before the arrival of the Europeans, the slave trade existed. The ruler was a king who rejoiced in the title of “Mother of the King of Kongo”.

Not much more was heard of the place in Europe until the great Victorian missionary explorer David Livingstone discovered that quinine was the key to unlocking the African interior. He became a hero and a household name in the second half of the 19th century, but then disappeared into the bush. The New York Herald sent another intrepid Briton to find him, and the young man, Henry Morton Stanley, walked into the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations with his greeting: “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”

Across the other side of the globe, King Leopold II of the Belgians read about it over breakfast in the The Times, which was thrown from the continental mail train into the grounds of his palace each morning. (His butler ironed it before the monarch read it.)

Leopold had been of the opinion for some time that “il faut à la Belgique une colonie”. He didn’t want to miss the chance of getting a good slice of what he called the “magnifique gâteau africain”. But he was having a hard time persuading the Belgian government to agree. So he decided to acquire a colony by himself. In doing so, he ignited what came to be called “the scramble of Africa”.

Stanley’s encounter with the Congo was being hailed as the most important geographical “discovery” ever made in Africa. The king summoned the Welshman and in 1878 commissioned him to go back – under the guise of an international scientific and philanthropic association, which he called the International African Society – to negotiate with the local chiefs.

Over the five years that followed, Stanley concluded some 400 “cloth and trinket” treaties with the Congo chiefs. The Africans thought they were signing friendship pacts, but they were in fact selling their land.

Leopold, who was devious as well as greedy, persuaded the world that he was acting from humanitarian motives. In 1884, the The Daily Telegraph, perspicacious as ever, opined: “Leopold II has knit adventurers, traders and missionaries of many races into one band of men under the most illustrious of modern travellers [Stanley] to carry to the interior of Africa new ideas of law, order, humanity and protection of the natives.”

That year, at the Berlin Conference called by Bismarck to carve up Africa – which no African attended, even as an observer – Leopold displayed some nifty footwork. He persuaded the Iron Chancellor that, in order to exclude Germany’s rivals, Britain and France, from the important new region, it would be best to declare it a free trade area and give it to him. Not to Belgium, not even to the Belgian crown, but to him personally.

Without ever setting foot there, Leopold II had become the owner of nearly a million square miles of unmapped jungle, 75 times the size of Belgium itself. Ivory was what the king had his eye on. And, though plenty of it was yielded, Leopold struggled to make a profit. In 1895, he tried to give the colony to the Belgian government because it was costing him too much.

But then a Scot called Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre for his bicycle, and the worldwide boom in rubber began. In the Congo, wild jungle vines that yielded the stuff grew everywhere. The natives would slash them and lather their bodies with the rubber. All that Leopold needed to do was to persuade the natives to scrape it off into huge baskets for him.

He did this by setting quotas of both rubber and ivory for each village, for which they were paid a pitifully low fixed price set by his officials on the ground. Each community was told to provide 10 per cent of their number as full-time forced labourers, and another 25 per cent part-time. It was a form of slavery.

Stanley, who supervised all this, became known in Kikongo as Bula Matari (the Breaker of Rocks), a tag the people later transferred to the Congolese state itself. The scheme was a huge success; by 1902, the price of rubber had risen 15 times in eight years, and it constituted 80 per cent of the exports of “The Congo Free State”, as Leopold had dubbed it.

Free is what the people were not. The symbol of Leopold’s rule was the schicotte – a whip of raw sun-dried hippopotamus hide cut into long sharp-edged strips which could quickly remove the skin from a man’s back. The king established a Force Publique to enforce the rubber quotas. Its soldiers were black – many of them cannibals from the fiercest tribes of upper Congo – but they were led by white officers who routinely supervised the burning of non-compliant villages and the torture and rape of those who were struggling to fill quotas.

One local man spelt out what this meant. “Wild beasts – leopards – killed some of us while we were working away in the forest, and others got lost or died from exposure or starvation and we begged the white men to leave us alone, saying we could get no more rubber, but the white men and the soldiers said, ‘Go. You are only beasts yourselves. You are only snyama [meat].’ Many were shot, some had their ears cut off.”

But the routine penalty for failing to bring in enough rubber was the severing of a hand. Soldiers collected them by the basketload, from the living and the dead. A Baptist missionary wrote a letter to The Times about it: “The hands – the hands of men, women and children – were placed in rows before the commissary who counted them to see that the soldiers had not wasted cartridges.” Officers were worried that the men might waste their ammunition on hunting animals for sport, so they required soldiers to submit one hand for every bullet spent. Hands became a grim currency, traded to make up for shortfalls in rubber quotas. “This rubber traffic is steeped in blood,” the letter-writer said.

Other testimony disclosed how Belgian officers ordered their men “to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades, also their sexual members, and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross”. This blood-curdling business carried on for more than 12 years before word leaked out. One of the first to blow the whistle was the captain of one of the riverboats that transported the ivory and rubber downstream to port. His name was Joseph Conrad, and eight years later he wrote a book that has shaped the emotional language in which white people discuss Africa.

It was called Heart of Darkness. The atmosphere it conjures is of fetid fever-ridden ports in an Equatorial river basin surrounded by dense tropical rainforest. It is a climate of persistent high temperatures and humidity, as enervating to the soul as to the body. It is a world of madness, greed and violence, centred on a charismatic ivory trader called Kurtz who turns himself into a demigod to the local tribes and gathers vast quantities of ivory. Eventually, he dies – “The horror, the horror,” his last words.

When the book was published in magazine serial form in 1899, it did not just expose what Conrad was to call “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience”. It also gave backing to the writings of a man whose campaigns on the Congo the public had been reluctant to believe.

ED Morel was a clerk in a Liverpool shipping office who began to wonder why the ships that brought vast loads of rubber from the Congo returned carrying no commercial goods, but only guns and ammunition. He began to investigate the Force Publique and concluded that Leopold’s well-publicised philanthropy was in fact “legalised robbery enforced by violence”. He wrote: “I had stumbled upon a secret society of murderers with a king for a croniman.”

In 1903, the House of Commons debated the Congo atrocities. The British consul in Congo, Roger Casement, was sent to investigate. The year after, he returned with a vivid and detailed eyewitness report, which was made public. His 1904 report, which confirmed Morel’s accusations and suggested that at least three million people had died, had a considerable impact on public opinion.

Even then, Leopold countered with a wicked publicity campaign to discredit the reports. He even created a bogus Commission for the Protection of the Natives to root out the “few isolated instances” of abuse. But he reckoned without another recent invention – the camera. Before long, horrifying photographs such as the one of the man with his daughter’s little hand and foot, were in circulation.

International opinion was outraged. In America, Mark Twain penned a savage piece of sarcasm called King Leopold’s Soliloquy. In Britain, Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to write the book The Crime of the Congo, which he completed in eight days. Before long, the American President and the British prime minister were pressing the Belgian government to act.

Leopold offered to reform his regime, but few took him seriously. After two years of agonised deliberation, a further report (which confirmed Casement’s) and a general election, the Parliament of Belgium annexed the Congo Free State and took over its administration. It paid Leopold £2m to compensate him for his sacrifices.

Renamed the Belgian Congo (to contrast with the much smaller French Congo, now the Republic of Congo, to the west), the region became a “model colony”. In the decades that followed the transfer of responsibility to the government of Belgium, large amounts of the wealth produced in the Congo were spent there by the alliance of church, commerce and state.

The missionaries built hospitals and clinics to which large numbers of Congolese had access. Doctors and medics achieved great victories against disease, managing to eradicate sleeping sickness. Many villages had medical posts, and bigger cities had well-equipped hospitals. The church ran schools to which 10 per cent of the people were admitted, comparing favourably with the 6 per cent of the population in school in India and the much lower percentages elsewhere in Africa. The colonial authorities built railways, ports and roads. The mining companies built houses for their staff, provided welfare and technical training.

By the Second World War, production and profits had risen to the point where the Congo was Africa’s richest colony. In the 1950s, life expectancy was 55 years (today, it is 51). By 1959, the year before independence, the Belgian Congo was producing 10 per cent of world’s copper, 50 per cent of its cobalt and 70 per cent of industrial diamonds.

What was missing was the development of a Congolese elite to take over the running of the place. The Congolese had no rights to own land, to vote or to travel freely. There were curfews in towns and forced labour in the countryside. There was no higher education, except for those who wanted to become priests. The Congolese were encouraged to become clerks, medical assistants and mechanics, but not doctors, lawyers or engineers.

At independence, out of a population of 60 million, there were just 16 university graduates. Educated Congolese were given the status of Sévolués, but this won them few privileges when what they wanted, wrote Patrice Lumumba, who was to become the first prime minister of what became Democratic Republic of Congo, “was to be Belgians and have the same freedoms and rights as whites”.

It would come eventually, their colonial masters thought, in perhaps another 100 years. When a Belgian academic suggested a 30-year transition plan was needed, he was greeted with derision. But when the change came, on the back of the sudden tide of African nationalism that swept the continent, accompanied by riots, it happened in just 18 months. The Congo was perhaps the least well-prepared of any colony for independence.

It didn’t help that on Independence Day in 1960, King Baudouin arrived to make a speech praising the “genius” of Leopold II, listing the sacrifices that Belgium had made for the Congo and doling out patronising advice. Prime Minister Lumumba responded with an off-the-cuff speech about the “terrible suffering and exploitation” that had been experienced by “we niggers” and promising: “We shall make of the Congo a shining example for the whole of Africa.” It was not to be.

Lumumba was charismatic, with extraordinary powers of oratory, but he was volatile. Within days of the independence ceremonies, rebellions and violence broke out. The province of Katanga declared independence. Belgium moved troops in. So did the United Nations. Feeling betrayed, Lumumba requested Soviet military aid.

The local CIA chief telegrammed back to Washington that the Congo was “a Cuba in the making” and that Lumumba was a “Castro or worse”. President Eisenhower allegedly authorised that Lumumba be assassinated and a CIA hit man came from Paris with poison to be, bizarrely, injected into the prime minister’s toothpaste. (The local CIA man refused to do it.)

The plot thickened with Dag Hammarskjold, the UN Secretary General, dying in a plane crash in uncertain circumstances while trying to negotiate a ceasefire in Katanga. Letters recently uncovered by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission suggested that South African agents planted a bomb in the aircraft’s wheel-bay. And, not long afterwards, the Marxist guerrilla leader Che Guevara appeared in the Congo with 100 men in a plot to bring about a Cuban-style revolution.

Amid all that, Patrice Lumumba had fallen out with the Congo’s first president, Joseph Kasavubu. As the pair engaged in a power struggle in September 1960, a military coup overthrew Lumumba in favour of the president. The putsch was staged by the 29-year-old army chief of staff, Colonel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Five years later, he staged another one, ousting Kasavubu and beginning his own bizarre 32-year rule.

Lumumba was shot in the bush at the command of a Belgian officer. His body was hacked to pieces and dissolved in sulphuric acid, his skull ground to dust and his bones and teeth scattered – some say by a witch doctor from an aircraft along the country’s borders, to make sure he could not come back from the dead.

Things did not get better. Mobutu sent the Russians packing, which greatly pleased the Americans. So did almost everything else he did, for he staunchly followed US foreign policy in all key matters. It was the height of the Cold War and Africa had become a proxy battlefield. Keeping the Soviets out was more important than anything else. As long as Mobutu did that, and supported anti-Communist rebels in neighbouring countries, Washington would turn a blind eye to anything else.

Mobutu made the most of that. He set up a one-party state that tolerated no dissent. In the early years, he consolidated power by publicly executing political rivals. One rebel leader had his eyes gouged out, his genitals ripped off and his limbs amputated one by one before he died.

Later, Mobutu switched to a new tactic – that of buying off political rivals rather than killing them. He did so by elevating theft to a form of government. A new word was coined to describe it – kleptocracy. At first, he had tried simply printing more money to pay the bills for his schemes. He issued new stamps, coins and currency notes with his portrait on.

There were posters and billboards everywhere. His personality cult reached its peak every night when the television news began with an image of him descending through clouds from the heavens. He put the story about that even his walking stick had magic powers.

In the early years, he launched an African Authenticity campaign. He renamed the country Zaire in 1971. He ordered everyone to drop their Christian names for African ones, rebranding himself Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (“The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, will go from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake”). He outlawed hair-straightening, skin bleaching, the wearing of ties and listening to foreign music. He nationalised foreign-owned firms and handed them to relatives and associates.

When the economy slumped, he printed more money. Hyperinflation followed, and even the central bank bought its hard currency on the black market. But he was a Cold War warrior, so the West bailed him out. The more they gave him, the more he stole. Of the $73m education budget one year, schools got only $8m; he pocketed the rest. So it went with every area of government.

Mobutu’s extravagance was legendary. He had villas, ranches, palaces and yachts throughout Europe. Concorde was constantly hired. He didn’t just have Swiss bank accounts; he bought a Swiss bank. He didn’t just get his wife a Mercedes; he bought a Mercedes assembly plant for her. He stashed away nearly $5bn – almost the equivalent of the country’s foreign debt at the time.

Still, the West smiled and paid up to the man Ronald Reagan called “a voice of good sense and good will”. The US gave him a total of $2bn over 30 years. The CIA trained and armed his bodyguards. When rebels attacked him, France airlifted in 1,500 elite Moroccan paratroopers. When that wasn’t enough, a year later Belgium and France deployed troops (with American logistical support).

All the while, the Congo became Africa’s haven for mercenaries, money launderers and diamond smugglers – while its public infrastructure rotted and child mortality rose. Mobutu became the longest-surviving despot of the Cold War era. It was either “Mobutu or chaos”, the US said. But the hapless people of the Congo got both.

Then it was over. The Berlin Wall fell. The Cold War ended. The IMF experts who had been brought in to reform his finances – and left after a year in despair – pulled the plug on his loans. The US would lend no more. Mobutu declared an end to one-party rule, but it was too late.

What finished him off was the decision to back the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. After the Hutu genocidaires were chased from Rwanda in 1994, Mobutu gave them shelter in Zaire. More than that; he issued an order forcing Tutsis to leave Zaire on penalty of death. They erupted in rebellion. Rwanda and Uganda joined in, invading eastern Congo in pursuit of the genocidaires. When they met no resistance – the Congolese army being more used to suppressing civilians than fighting – they marched on the capital Kinshasa.

Mobutu – the “all-powerful warrior”, the fifth-richest man in the world, who bled the Congo even more efficiently than King Leopold, and who looted the state into paralysis – escaped on a cargo plane with bullets ripping into the fuselage as it took off. After 20 years of Mobutist dictatorship, in the words of the African historian Basil Davidson: “Zaire remained a state without a nation, a geographical concept without a people.” And Kinshasa la belle had become Kinshasa la poubell – the dustbin.

The new man was Laurent-Désiré Kabila. He presented himself as the heir to the murdered Lumumba. Outsiders hailed him as one of the “new breed” of African leaders. Nelson Mandela paid tribute. The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, stood next to Kabila early on and said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (or Democratic Republic of Congo as it was re-re-named) would now emerge as “an engine of regional growth”. Those who knew Kabila thought differently.

His critics sneered that all he had ever run was a brothel in Tanzania. Others recalled the judgement of Che Guevara who had concluded three decades earlier that Kabila was “not the man of the hour”. He was too interested in drinking, bedding women and showing up days late. The lack of co-operation between Kabila and Guevara was what had led to the Cuban-style revolution foundering in the Sixties.

He had not, it seemed, improved with age. Kabila turned out to be another petty tyrant. Secretive and paranoid, he had no political programme and just doled out jobs to family and friends. He made his cousin chief of the armed forces, gave his son a top army job and made his brother-in-law the police chief. Worse, he was as cruel as Mobutu, jailing and torturing opponents, but lacking his skill in playing the ethnic card. He promised elections but never held them.

And he did not learn from Mobutu’s mistakes. Put in power by the Rwandans and Ugandans, he decided to distance himself from them by again supporting the Hutus and allowing them to regroup on Congolese soil. Rwanda had learnt the lessons of the past; it immediately flew 2,000 troops to within striking distance of the capital. Uganda joined in. Kabila was only saved because Angola and Zimbabwe came to his rescue, the former fearing that a power vacuum in the DRC would allow Angolan rebels to flourish, the later trying to play the statesman and grab some mining contracts.

The fighting soon stalemated. But no one was bothered; all involved just used the bases they had established inside the DRC to plunder. The war became self-financing as all sides scrabbled for diamonds, gold and timber.

Suddenly, 70 per cent of the Congo’s coltan – an essential component in making mobile phones – was being exported through Rwanda. And Congo gold turned into a major Ugandan export. Rwanda and Uganda even began to fight each other at one point over control of Kisangani and its diamond fields.

What broke the stalemate was a coup in 2001. The plot failed, but Kabila was assassinated. His son, Joseph Kabila Kabange, became President. The Congo’s warlords were happy, assuming that junior would be a pushover.

But Kabila II had done his military training in China and turned out to be an operator. Within a year, he had successfully negotiated an international peace deal that saw Rwanda withdraw and all the remaining warring parties agree to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity.

Peace has returned to two-thirds of the country – there are factions fighting in the east – and Kabila has delivered the referendum he promised and now, on Sunday, the elections. He is, of course, standing and is, of course, the favourite of the 33 candidates.

The country is still in a dire state. Aid organisations say about 1,200 people die daily due to the effects of the conflict, hunger and disease. The DRC has Aids, low life expectancy and a high rate of child deaths. More than two million Congolese are internal refugees. National output and government revenue slumped – and external debt increased – during the five years of fighting, in which perhaps four million people died.

Even so, this weekend’s elections – the first multiparty elections in 40 years – are the biggest and most costly the UN has organised. Another eastern warlord yesterday agreed to lay down arms. Last month, the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, said it would open an office in Kinshasa once the election is over. Other big mining groups may follow.

The prospects look a little brighter. It may be too soon – in the two-steps-forward, one-step-back world of contemporary Africa – to be optimistic. But, in their terrible story, the people of the Congo hope that, at last, it may be that a corner is being turned.

The horror: from Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’

Paths, paths, everywhere; a stamped-in network of paths spreading over the empty land, through the long grass, through burnt grass, through thickets, down and up chilly ravines, up and down stony hills ablaze with heat; and a solitude, a solitude, nobody, not a hut. The population had cleared out a long time ago. Well, if a lot of mysterious niggers armed with all kinds of fearful weapons suddenly took to travelling on the road between Deal and Gravesend, catching the yokels right and left to carry heavy loads for them, I fancy every farm and cottage thereabouts would get empty very soon. Only here the dwellings were gone, too. Still I passed through several abandoned villages. There’s something pathetically childish in the ruins of grass walls. Day after day, with the stamp and shuffle of 60 pair of bare feet behind me, each pair under a 60lb load. Camp, cook, sleep, strike camp, march. Now and then a carrier dead in harness, at rest in the long grass near the path, with an empty water gourd and his long staff lying by his side. A great silence around and above. Perhaps on some quiet night the tremor of far-off drums, sinking, swelling, a tremor vast, faint; a sound weird, appealing, suggestive and wild – and perhaps with as profound a meaning as the sound of bells in a Christian country. Once a white man in an unbuttoned uniform, camping on the path with an armed escort of lank Zanzibaris, very hospitable and festive – not to say drunk. Was looking after the upkeep of the road, he declared. Can’t say I saw any road or any upkeep, unless the body of a middle-aged negro, with a bullet-hole in the forehead, upon which I absolutely stumbled three miles farther on, may be considered a permanent improvement.

Source

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations: Resolution on the West African Region and Mali

logo_mundo-copia

Since 2010, the West African region and particularly the sub-Saharan zone has been marked by the armed interference and intervention of the imperialist powers. The objectives of those actions are:

* Political, geostrategic and military, related to the struggle for the redivision of the world and of the African continent.

* Economic (access to the petroleum of the Gulf of Guinea and the Ivory Coast; to the uranium of Niger and the precious metals that abound in the region; to solar energy; cacao, coffee, etc.

* The struggle of the Anglo-Saxon (U.S. and Great Britain) and French imperialists to prevent the penetration into the region by new actors such as China, India, Brazil, etc.

* The will of the imperialist powers to crush any type of protest by the popular masses, who are condemned to misery and lacking in political freedom, as well as the repression that they suffer carried out by the corrupt puppet powers, and their desire to crush any revolutionary insurrectionary movement.

The military-political crisis after the military coup d’état of the National Committee for the Defense and Restoration of the State (CNRDE) of March 22, 2012, as well as the military occupation of the North of Mali, begun January 22, 2012, which covers two thirds of the national territory, an occupation carried out by the National Movement for the Liberation of AZAWAD (MNLA) and the “jihadists” (AQMI, ANSAR, DINE, MUJAO, BOKO, HARAM…) must be put in this context

The military-political crisis in Mali has grave consequences for the neighboring countries, particularly Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, etc. and the group of the countries of the west African region (destabilization of States, proliferation of arms, massive displacement of populations towards the South of Mali, and thousands of refugees in other neighboring countries).

The military-political crisis in Mali is also a threat to the interests of imperialism, particularly French imperialism, in that country and the whole region. That is why there are preparatory maneuvers for an open military intervention that the troops provided by the members countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can carry out, with the consent and logistical support of the great imperialist powers (France and U.S.A.) and of the UN under the pretext of “making a secure transition,” of “restoring constitutional life” and of “restoring Mali’s territorial integrity.” This is a reactionary plan by the imperialist powers and their allies in the region to maintain and reinforce their domination.

Faced with this serious situation, the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO):

* Denounces and condemns the puppet powers that have opened their territories (particularly in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal) to the troops of imperialist aggression.

* Denounces and condemns the proclamation of independence of the State of AZAWAD by the MNLA, instrument of French imperialism.

* Denounces and condemns the crimes perpetrated against the peoples of the North of Mali by terrorist group AQMI and the Islamist groups ANSAR-DINE, MUJAO and the MNLA.

* Supports the brave resistance of the peoples, particularly of the youth, against oppression and medieval and obscurantist practices.

* Denounces and condemns the reactionary plan of the ECOWAS in Mali.

* Calls on the proletariat and peoples of the imperialist countries, particularly France, to support the Malian people in their struggle for a revolutionary solution of the military-political crisis.

* Calls for solidarity and support for the struggle of the peoples of the West African region against imperialist domination and their African lackeys.

Tunisia, November of 2012.

Source

Tunisian Youth Arrested in Morocco to be Released

Nineteen year old Tunisian, Aymen Bhiri, will be released today from Moroccan police custody reported Radio Kalima. He was arrested for participating in an unemployment protest on Saturday in Casablanca.

Bhiri, a member of the Tunisian Communist Workers Party (POCT), was in Morocco to meet with friends and activists there, according to Mohamed Mzem, a representative from POCT.

Mzem was concerned about Bhiri’s status in Morocco, as the Moroccan authorities had promised to release him yesterday. “They had promised they were going to release him ,but nothing happened,” said Mzem.

POCT members have been active in calling for Bhiri’s return to Tunisia. “Some members of the party protested in front of the Moroccan embassy in Tunis over the kidnapping of Bhiri,” added Mzem. It was only this afternoon that Moroccan authorities finally announced their decision to release Bhiri.

Source

Young Tunisian comrade kidnapped and expelled by the Moroccan secret services

On 1 July, the young Tunisian Ayman Elbahri, a member of our party PCOT was kidnapped by the Moroccan secret services outside the headquarters of the Democratic Way, in the heart of Casablanca. Ayman, who had participated in Sunday’s march called by the Movement February 20, regularly visits Morocco to support the struggles at home and in solidarity with the movement of unemployed graduates.

This Monday morning, the Democratic Way comrades still no news of Ayman. The night before, many young people the February 20 Movement of Democratic Path of PADS … gathered outside the Wilaya At Amne to demand the release of militant young Tunisian.

Finally, on Tuesday we learned that our comrade was eventually released and expelled from the country, although there is free movement agreements between Morocco and Tunisia. Our fellow Moroccans are reporting these facts, based on these agreements.

Lenin on Colonialism

“For example, if tomorrow Morocco were to declare war on France, India on England, Persia or China on Russia, and so forth, those would be ‘just,’ ‘defensive’ wars, irrespective of who attacked first, and every socialist would sympathize with the victory of the oppressed, dependent, unequal states against the oppressing, slave-owning, predatory ‘great’ powers.”

 — Lenin, Socialism and War

“Socialists must not only demand the unconditional and immediate liberation of the colonies without compensation—and this demand in its political expression signifies nothing else than the recognition of the right to self-determination; they must also render determined support to the more revolutionary elements in the bourgeois-democratic movements for national liberation in these countries and assist their uprising—or revolutionary war, in the event of one—against the imperialist powers that oppress them.”

  — Lenin, The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination

“We welcome the close alliance of Moslem and non-Moslem elements. We sincerely want to see this alliance extended to all the toilers of the East. Only when the Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Persian, and Turkish workers and peasants join hands and march together in the common cause of liberation—only then will decisive victory over the exploiters be ensured.”

 — Lenin, To the Indian Revolutionary Association

“From these fundamental premises it follows that the Communist International’s entire policy on the national and colonial questions should rest primarily on a closer union of the proletarians and the working masses of all nations and countries for a joint revolutionary struggle to overthrow the landowners and the bourgeoisie. This union alone will guarantee victory over capitalism, without which the abolition of national oppression and inequality is impossible.”

 — Lenin, Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Questions

“[…] the Communist International should advance and theoretically substantiate the proposition that with the aid of the proletariat of the advanced countries, the backward countries can pass over to the Soviet system and, through definite stages of development, to communism, without going through the capitalist stage.”

 — Lenin, Report of the Commission on the National and the Colonial Questions

Tunis Declaration

On July 26, 2011, a meeting of the Communist Party of Benin (PCB), the Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia (PCOT), the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI), the Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta (PCRV) and “The Democratic Road” Organization of Morocco was held in Tunis. The parties exchanged their views on the international situation, the tasks that it induces for the proletariat, the revolutionaries and the peoples of Africa and propose signing the Declaration whose content follows:

1) The crisis of the capitalist and imperialist system, which arose in 2007-2008, is a structural crisis that has called neoliberalism into question and put the thought of Karl Marx on the agenda. This crisis is deepening, striking with full force the economies of the countries of the world, including the economies of developed countries such as Greece, Spain etc.

2) With the appearance in strength of emerging countries and the capitalist crisis, there is the exacerbation of inter-imperialist contradictions on the one hand and that between the imperialist powers and the emerging countries on the other hand, tending towards a multi-polarity in the leadership of world affairs, in contrast to the hegemonic unipolarity of the United States of America that existed since 1990-1992. This exacerbation of contradictions is leading to a redivision of the world with consequences of wars having their fields of operations in the neo-colonial and dependent countries. The recent intervention of the French army and that of other imperialist forces in the Ivory Coast to install one of their pawns (Ouattara) in place of another (Gbagbo), the current aggression by the forces of NATO, France, England and the United States in Libya under the false pretext of establishing a so-called democratic regime, thus undermining the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom and democracy, are acts that confirm what has been said above.

The signatory Parties condemn these imperialist aggressions against the peoples of these countries and call for their immediate cessation.

3) Africa, which is the epicenter of the world inter-imperialist contradictions because of the huge mineral resources that it abounds with, is thus suffering full force not only from the effect of these inter-imperialist rivalries with the consequences such as wars, but also all the ills of humanity such as hunger, illiteracy, disease and backwardness of all kinds. Africa is the most enslaved of all the continents and its liberation from the imperialist yoke will be a decisive milestone in the liberation of all humanity. This liberation is looming on all parts of the continent.

4) The signatories Parties state that the major urgent challenge for the emancipation of the proletariat and the peoples of Africa is the formation of vanguard parties, particularly communist parties and the strengthening of their union based on Marxist-Leninist principles, which must be remembered.

5) The Tunisian revolution underway, which began with the flight of the dictator Ben Ali on January 14, 2011, has inaugurated a new era of the revolution in the world, and particularly in Africa. Its impact, which can be seen up to now in the world and in Africa (in Egypt, Morocco, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal etc.), show the proletariat and the peoples of the world and Africa in particular that by rising up, the people can get rid of all the powers including the dictatorial powers no matter how powerful they are.

The signatory Parties salute this great victory of the Tunisian people and encourage them to continue the fight until the completion of the revolution.

The PCB, PCRCI, PCRV, “The Democratic Road” Organization of Morocco and the other signatory Parties salute the PCOT for its important contribution to the movement that led to the overthrow of the dictator Ben Ali; they encourage it to continue along this road until the overthrow of the regime put in place by the latter and they assure it of their unwavering support for the achievement of this objective. They understand that the greatest support for the Tunisian revolution is for each Party to lead and carry out the revolution in their own country.

The PCB, PCOT, PCRCI and PCRV salute the struggle begun in Morocco by the February 20 movement to demand a democratic constitution chosen by the people. They denounce the repression by the Makhzen [royal elite – translator’s note] against the movement and express their full solidarity with the comrades of the Democratic Road and the February 20 movement.

The PCB, PCOT, PCRCI, PCRV, “The Democratic Road” Organization of Morocco and the other signatory Parties to this Declaration, call on the African communists, revolutionaries and patriots throughout the African continent to form themselves into real vanguard Parties particularly Communists Parties to lead the current and future struggles for the emancipation of the African proletariat and peoples so that they free themselves from the yoke of the imperialists and from capitalist exploitation.

Tunis, July 26, 2011

Communist Party of Benin (PCB)

Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia (PCOT)

Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI)

Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta (PCRV, Burkina Faso)

The Democratic Road (Morocco)

Morocco: Democratic Way rejects the official formula for reforming the Constitution


Democratic Way rejects the official formula for reforming the Constitution and calls the strengthening and consolidation of mobilization and continue the struggle for a democratic regime.

After analyzing the official formula announced by the king in his speech on Thursday March 9, 2011 to amend the Constitution of the country, Democratic Way resolved:

With this initiative, the aim is to reproduce the same form of taxation which were adopted in the past for the development or reform of other previous constitutions. The king decides unilaterally on the reforms and choose at will to the authority in charge of writing, continuing with the line drawn by the same regime since the first Constitution of 1962.

In terms of content, we do not perceive any change or break with the past, so that it remains committed to the continuation of an authoritarian regime and proprietorship where the king is still the commander of the faithful and the central figure who holds the broad powers granted by Article 19 of the present Constitution, and violating the principle of responsibility requires control of one ruler in power.

This measure does not respond at all to the demands of the movement of the struggle for democracy and social justice that was established on February 20 and reduces the constitutional issue to a mere superficial reforms while maintaining unchanged the nature of the current political regime, when the essence of the democratic movement requires a comprehensive and radical reform of the Constitution, beginning with the dissolution of Parliament, Councils, Government and remove all symbols of the mafia majzaní responsible for political and economic crimes. Therefore, with this supposed constitutional regime it aims to tame the claims of this movement, confined to the background where they will surely end up languishing under these false expectations and divided to facilitate its enforcement.

Democratic change we seek is a radical structural change and to be given at all levels, and that at least includes the following key provisions:

The election of a Constituent Assembly for drafting a democratic constitution will reincarnate the Moroccan people as the sovereign authority and source of all powers, which breaks with the current authoritarian regime and one-person, to establish the equality between men and women and recognize the Amazigh language and culture on a par with the other official languages.

Dismantling and disbanding of all repressive apparatus responsible for political crimes and prosecution of perpetrators.

The processing of all those responsible for economic crimes related to corruption, plunder and looting of the country’s wealth and the confiscation of all assets and properties.

The dissolution of the government together with all institutions “elected” for lack of democratic legitimacy and popular.

The holding of free and democratic elections on equal opportunities for all actors and forces the removal of the control exercised by the Ministry of Interior on them.

The establishment of economic and social policy which corresponds to the Moroccan people’s basic needs by ensuring full employment, free access to social services and finally ending the rentier economy.

The protection of public media and the reaction against the single thought, guaranteeing its independence, diversity and contribution to the dissemination of the principles of dialogue, freedom and democracy.

The development of national culture and all its components as part of the heritage and cultural legacy of humanity.

Therefore:

We call on all citizens who yearn for freedom, dignity and democracy and all the militant forces of our country to safeguard the unity of this movement, ensuring continuity and fight any move that seeks to abort.

We reaffirm our active commitment to all initiatives and mobilizations that are taking place in our country to achieve all these claims.

Democratic Way

National Secretariat

http://www.annahjaddimocrati.org/index.htm