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Class Line in the Caucasus

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Most of the revolutionary left has responded to the war in the Caucasus with a dual defeatism of the imperialist blocs on both sides. However, Yossi Schwartz of the RCG in Israel has circulated his groups position on the war between Russia and Georgia. He takes the classic Leninist position that Russia is an imperialist oppressor while Georgia is an oppressed semi-colony, therefore it is necessary to defend Georgia and defeat Russia. [See Yossi’s post below]. For this position to be correct then not only must Russia must be imperialist and Georgia a semi-colony, but the defeat of Russia should have the purpose of advancing the right to self-determination of the Georgian people from all imperialist oppression. Let us see.

First, is Russia imperialist?

Lenin thought so in 1917 when the Tsar was overthrown even though its ‘imperialism’ didnt really match up to the definition of imperialism as the export of capital he developed. Lenin considered Russia imperialist because it was a “prison house of nations” and extracted tribute if not super-profits from its political protectorates. In that sense, Russia was an awkward imperialism in transition from a feudal empire to capitalist imperialism, though dominated by French and German imperialism. Anyway, it is clear that Lenin thought that the workers’ revolution ended the Tsarist empire.

Is Russia imperialist today?

Yossie thinks that the SU became imperialist in 1939 so therefore it must be so today. At that time Russia’s state capitalist economy which had been ruled by the working class was finally taken over by the bureaucracy as a new Russian bourgeosie. Because the the SU included many republics and and autonomous republics, and becuase it was expansionist into the Ukraine, Poland and Finland, Yossie thinks that the SU was capitalist AND imperialist in 1939.

We do not agree. The SU as a workers state retained elements of the market alongside its economic plan. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were pragmatic about using market techniques of prices to boost the economy, always aware that too much market would bring with it the restoration of capitalism. The Stalinist bureaucracy failing to increase labour productivity by any other means than repression, always looked to find a way to the capitalist market to borrow the more advanced techniques that would allow an increase of labour productivity. But until the 1980s the bureaucracy always failed in this quest. At that point the planned economy was almost defunct with massive waste and inefficiencies leading to huge shortages. Perestroika was a deliberate policy of restoring capitalism as the only way that the bureaucracy could rescue the economy and their own existence as a parasitic caste. They welcomed the opportunity to privatise workers property and turn themselves into a new bourgeoisie. By 1992 the SU was breaking up and the law of value replaced the plan as the means of allocating economic resources.

If capitalism was restored in Russia in 1992 has Russia become imperialist since?

We can ignore the right wing idea that Russia has restored a pre-Bolshevik Great Russian Empire. The law of value dominates in the former SU not feudal tribute. To qualify as an imperialist country today Russia would have to be exporting capital and importing super-profits. It doesnt matter how much of a bastard Putin is, how murderous the Russia army is, or what sort of ‘great Russian’ ideology flowers to spur Russia on to domination of the republics and autonomous regions of the former SU. The only thing that counts is if Russia is extracting super-profits from these countries, in the same way that France, Germany, Britain, US, Japan etc extract superprofits from their colonies and semi-colonies.

I would say that Russia is clearly extracting huge super-profits from its oil interests in what are now the formally independent nations in Central Asia. In that sense Russia today is an imperialist country motivated to increase its imperialist control over the resources of Central Asia in particular of oil and gas. So what motivates Russia today, is the return on its capital investments in the production of oil and gas, not any political or ideological set of interests. Certainly it has no interest in defending the national rights of its semi-colonies other than to retain them as semi-colonies.

How are Russia’s imperialist interests expressed in this war?

Its obvious from what has been said above that Russia is motivated in its war against Georgia to defend and extend its imperial control of the Caucasus against its imperialist rivals. Russia is allied economically with France and to a lesser extent Germany because it supplies these states with gas. It is hostile however, to the US, Britain as imperialist powers that are contesting Russia’s dominance in Central Asia. It regards the US/UK oil pipeline that runs through southern Georgia and Turkey and eventually Israel, as an extension of US intervention in its sphere of interest. It sees the US policy of including promoting ‘color’ revolutions in the Baltic states, and the Ukraine and Georgia as clear evidence of the US creating new protectorates or semi-colonies in the region. Russia opposed the Sheverdnadsi and Saakashvili regimes deals with the US to remove Soviet era bases and establish US bases and to join NATO as direct attacks on the security of its border. It has worked hard to create majorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to create a buffer zone between Russia and a now US client state in Georgia. So when Georgia invaded South Ossetia Russia took the opportunity to invade Georgia and militarize the buffer zone.

Can we oppose Russia’s invasion without defending Georgia?

Yes. While Russia is an imperialist power motivated in its war to defend and extend its control of resources in the region, and Georgia is a semi-colony of the US and EU, there is no obligation to defend Georgia from Russia. This has nothing to do with the unpopularity of Saakashvili (which is true) or its invasion of South Ossetia. These by themselves would not change the political character of Georgia as a semi-colony.

What is decisive in this situation is the fact that Georgia as a semi-colony is also a client state under the direct control of the US and is acting as a US proxy in its relations with Russia. To defend Georgia against Russia would not demonstrate to the Georgian workers that we are against their national oppression. It would mask the fact that Georgia is already oppressed by the US. It would not make it clear that the people of Georgia are being used by both its client Saakashvili regime and its imperialist masters as pawns in an inter-imperialist war for oil. How could we defend Georgia from Russia without also defending it from the US/Israel specialists, advisors, military, and those who were clearly acting behind Saakashvili in the bombardment of South Ossetia? Not to do so would fail to show how Georgia’s national sovereignty is already sacrificed to the interests of the US in its rivalry with the EU and Russia.

To be more specific. Georgians have been ethnically cleansed from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. While Russia is also responsible for this and gains a buffer zone in which Russian nationals dominate, the US is the main beneficiary. The US will now extend its military base near Tbilisi and militarise the south of Georgia to defend the oil pipeline. So the US has intervened in Georgia to split the country and its national sovereignty to further its oil interests. Further, the US is working on the other former members of the Soviet bloc, Poland and Ukraine, to expand NATO and to ring Russia with forward missile sites. Poland has agreed to do so, and the membership of NATO by Ukraine is being fast forwarded.

To conclude, by defending Georgia against Russia we would not be defending the national rights of Georgia. Rather we would be providing cover for the US (and NATO) to present its opposition of Russia as a defence of the national rights not only of Georgia but also the Ukraine and all the other former members of the Soviet bloc that are now US and EU semi-colonies as part of the “new Europe”.

The correct position is defeat on both sides and defence of the national rights of the oppressed countries in the region

The only way then to show to workers in all of these former Soviet bloc countries that their fate rests with breaking from both Russian and also US and EU imperialism, is mutual defeat in wars between the imperialist blocs, along with defence of the rights of all the nationalities to self-determination. While Yossi argues that Lenin’s position is consistent with his own position, I would argue that Lenin’s method was to prove to workers in oppressed countries that the workers of oppressor countries would side with them to gain independence from the imperialist ruling class. In the current case, this purpose would be defeated if we opposed only Russian oppression and ignored US oppression in Georgia. Therefore, I consider dual defeatism to be more consistent with Lenin’s method than Yossi’s.

Thus, we are for the right of Georgians to self-determination against all regional powers including US military occupation. We are for the right of South Ossetians for independence from Georgia and voluntary association with the Russian Federation. The same goes for Abkhazia. However, since all of these countries must break from imperialism to win their independence this can only result from socialist revolution based on workers councils and militias, and led by revolutionary Marxist parties, the forming of workers governments, and voluntary membership of a federation of socialist republics in Eurasia!

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yossi schwartz said, on August 16th, 2008 at 1:58 pm (Edit)

Many years have passed since Lenin raised his revolutionary slogan:” the less evil is the defeat for imperialist Russia. He did so because even though other countries on the other side were imperialists, he lived in Russia and the enemy first of all in an imperialist country at home.

The war of Russia against Georgia is a clear indication of an end of a period when the US was the only super power of the world. Many supporters of the US “new order” are now in tears.
Those who fail to see that imperialism is a stage of the advanced capitalist states that include Russia, Japan , Australia –New Zealand Europe and Israel in addition to the US and not simply the US, must well come the victory of Russian imperialism as a step in the right direction. For those of us who are Leninists the defeat of Russia in this conflict with the non imperialist state- Georgia is the only correct line.
Most of the left groups correctly do not side with Russian imperialism in the war. However, wrongly they do not side military with Georgia because of its right wing regime in alliance with the US. Confusion between regime and a state leads to reformism . For example siding with Western imperialism against Nazi Germany rather than struggling for a defeat for both as imperialists was already during WWII a symptom of reformist pressures.
To have the correct position from a Marxist perspective: siding military with Georgia against Russian imperialism without any political support for Georgia, Marxists have to differentiate between military and political support.
Lenin in 1917 did differentiate between the two when he defended Kerensky’s government military but not politically.
Would US and NATO step in and fight Russia our position will change to revolutionary defeat for all imperialist sides. This in essence will be the beginning of WWIII.
However mean time the US and NATO are not involved directly and for this reason most people who support US imperialism are in shock.
It is a reformist mistake not to take the position of Revolutionary defeat for Russia and Revolutionary defense for Georgia.
To understand this question even in a more clear way is to remember Iraq. Sadam was the instrument of US for many many years including in his war against Iran. He tried to occupy Kuwait with the assumption the US gave him green light. He was wrong. Now in the war of the US against Iraq the revolutionary position was and is Revolutionary defeat for the US Revolutionary defense of Iraq.
Georgia has been acting for many years as US instrument against Russia, yet in this war the US deserted Georgia and so is Israel.
There are many implication for the desertion of the US its weak ally-Georgia. It means among other things that If the Israeli ruling class want to attack Iran they are not likely to get the US actively on their side.

RCG
YOSSI

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Written by raved

August 17, 2008 at 10:00 am

15 Responses

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  1. Even if I agreed with Yossi, my military support for Georgia wouldn’t mean much.

    Georgia had an odd illusion, that the US will support it against Russia. In my post there is a link to an ex-CIA geopolitical analysis site, saying that it’s unknown what the US said. I wonder if the US knew Russia would invade?

    I think our positions are close for once.

    Renegade Eye

    August 18, 2008 at 10:49 pm

  2. Yossi posted this Statement by the RCG on the situation in the Caucasus.

    I – Historical Background

    At the end of the 19th century, the Russian Empire gained a firm foothold in the
    Caucasus. Russia annexed eastern Georgia (Kartli and Kakheti kingdoms) and replaced the local feudal lords by Russian ones. In the following years the whole Caucasus including entire Georgia, came under the Russian empire.

    The Russian czarist reign was overthrown by the February 1917 revolution that created a situation of dual-power on the whole territory of the former Russian empire including Georgia. On one side stood the reformist workers’ parties led by Kerensky with their bourgeois partners and on the other side the workers, peasants and soldiers councils. The Petit bourgeois workers’ parties were acting inside the workers councils trying to subject them to the bourgeois state. The only party that fought for all the power to the Soviets was the Bolshevik party – the revolutionary party of the conscious working class.

    The Menshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Party dominated the workers councils of Georgia. After the October revolution led by the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks cooperated with the nationalistic “National councils” and on February 10th, 1918, conceded power to the Siem which in turn, declared the independence of Transcaucasia on April 9, 1918.

    A newly created Transcaucasia Federative bourgeois Republic made of Georgians, Armenians and Azeri was established. However, the nationalism of each local bourgeoisie and its servants prevented any lasting unity and on May 26th, 1918, Georgia declared its own independence.

    Two days later, Armenia and Azerbaijan followed its example. The 1919 elections (February 14) led to the creation of Constituent Assembly which was dominated by an overall majority of the Social Democratic Party. During the imperialist invasion of Soviet Russia and the Whites’ counter revolution, the Mensheviks supported the counter revolution and on February 25, 1921, having defeated the Georgian army, forces of the Red Army liberated Tbilisi and established Soviet rule in Georgia.

    The issue of forced unification used by Stalin led to the conflict between Lenin who was for joining the Soviet Federation by workers’ free choice. Lenin’s relationship with Stalin deteriorated over Stalin’s chauvinistic and bureaucratic handling of the issue of merging Soviet republics into one federal state, the USSR. At that point, Lenin offered Trotsky and alliance against Soviet bureaucracy in general and Stalin in particular.

    On January, 1923, the relationship between Lenin and Stalin completely broke down when Stalin rudely insulted Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya. At that point Lenin amended his testament suggesting that Stalin should be replaced as the party’s General Secretary… In March 1923, days before his third stroke, Lenin prepared a frontal assault on Stalin’s “Great-Russian nationalistic campaign” against the Georgian Communist Party (the so-called Georgian Affair) and asked Trotsky to deliver the blow at the 12h Party Congress. With Lenin no longer active, Trotsky did not raise the issue at the Congress.

    The first Soviet constitution of Georgia adopted on March 4th, 1922, declared the country an independent Soviet Socialist republic. In spite of this, Georgia Joined by force the Transcaucasia Soviet Socialist Federative Republic (TSSFR) on March 12th that year.

    According to a new constitution adopted on April 3rd, 1927, Georgia was declared a member of the USSR. Three autonomous territorial units were established within Georgia. Two of them – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – were based on the principle of ethnicity, while the third – Adjaria – on that of religion (the region is populated by Georgian Muslims – Adjarians).

    The Stalinists broke up the TSSFR on December 5th, 1936, and Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were separated.

    A new USSR constitution was adopted in 1977. It again defined the union’s Members as sovereign republics which formally had the right of secession from the USSR. The republic comprised also the Abkhazian and Adjarian Soviet Socialist Autonomous republics and the South Ossetia Autonomous Region.

    II – The right of self determination of opressed nations

    As Leninists we support the right of self determination of oppressed nations.

    South Ossetia is a territory of around 1,500 sq miles (4,000 sq km) about 100 km (60 miles) north of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, on the southern slopes of the Caucasus mountains. The majority of the roughly 70,000 people are ethnically distinct from Georgians and speak their own language, related to Farsi. They were forcibly absorbed into Georgia under Stalinist rule and want to exercise their right to self-determination

    The majority of the Ossetians living south of the main Caucasus in Georgia wish to unite with the Ossetians living to the north, in an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation; and the Georgians, regarding South Ossetia as both a legal and an historic part of their national territory, refuse to accept this. In simple words the Georgian state is opressing the people of South Ossestia and the same is true for the Abkhazians and Adjarians.

    While the right of self determination includes the right of the South Ossetians to unite with the Russian Federation, such a solution will lead to a fake independence similar to that of the Republic of Kosovo, which was declared this February. It will further hurt their interest if the separatist leaders will join forces with the Russian imperialist army.

    Abkhazia is laying within the borders of Georgia on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and borders the Russian Federation to the north. Under Georgia’s official subdivision, it is an autonomous republic with Sukhumi as its capital.

    A secessionist movement of the Abkhaz ethnic group in the region led to the declaration of independence from Georgia in 1992 and the Georgian-Abkhaz armed conflict from 1992 to 1993 which resulted in the Georgian military defeat . This led to a UN-monitored and Russian-dominated CIS peacekeeping operation. This dispute remains a source of serious tension between Georgia and Russia. In August, 2008, Abkhazian forces gained control of most of the Kodori Valley (Upper Abkhazia), previously controlled by Georgia.

    Since we support the right of self determination for oppressed nationalities, we would support the South Ossetians and Abkhazians before the Russian army became involved in the conflict.

    III – Oil and Western imperialism

    The imperialsts in the West are playing with the lives of the peoples of the world in their drive for world dominaiton. Even today, German imperialism is pushing to get Georgia to join NATO. At a news conference in Tbilisi with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Merkel expressed her support for Georgia’s bid to join NATO, a move which is strongly opposed by Russia. “Georgia will become a member of NATO if it wants to – and it does want to,” Merkel said.

    The US and NATO have strategic-military interests in Eastern Europe, and have been seeking to use the states of the former USSR as military bases against Russian imperialism. They also have an economic interest in the oil of the region and the pipeline that crosses Georgia, which can pump slightly more than 1 million barrels of crude oil per day, or more than 1 percent of the world’s daily crude output. The 1,100-mile pipeline carries oil from Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea fields, estimated to hold the world’s third-largest reserves. Most of the oil is bound for Western Europe, where gas prices are even higher than in the U.S.

    Were the US or NATO to get involved militarily in a war against Russia, we would take the position of revolutionary defeat for both imperialist camps, and call on the Russian and American working class to turn the imperialist war into a civil war against their own bourgeoisie. However, since in reality the US cannot afford another military front, such a situation did not materialize.

    One of the main lessons we can learn from this conflict is that the US is no longer the supreme power in the world, and that the contradictions between the imperialist states are growing. This conflict marks a new development in the inter-imperialist relations of the last twenty years. When the former Russian empire fell apart, Francis Fukuyama, the right wing philospher, claimed that the end of history has come, and that the West, and in particular the US, has won the cold war. Today it is clear to many that we have not reached the end of history, but the end of the historical age in which the US could have its way anywhere in the world.

    The conflict has significant implications for the Middle East. The Israeli state’s plans to attack Iran have been further deterred, as the US message to Israel is: “You are on your own”.

    While speaking on Israel, we, as Israeli Marxists, must point out the hypocrisy of the Western mass media, which condemns the Russian invasion while supporting Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people, whose entire land was stolen by the Zionists.

    IV – Russian Imperialism

    When the Former pseudo-socialist bloc collapsed, the US became the only super power in the world. However, while the US was busy losing its dirty war in Iraq and Afghnistan, Russian imperialism, relying on its oil and gas, has rebuilt itself as an imperialist power.

    The attack on South Ossestia was the excuse the Russian imperialists were looking for to reassert their control over the oil and gas of the region and drive home the message that they will not allow their former slaves to join NATO. American imperialism, sinking in Iraq and Afghanistan, is unable to open a new front in the Caucasus. America’s inability to aid its Georgian puppet regime shocked the Georgian ruling class and many of America’s supporters.

    Not only have the US imperialists deserted Georgia, but so has Israeli imperialism, a close ally, who sold weapons and sent military advisers to Georgia to train its recently defeated army.

    Once the Russian imperialist army invaded Georgia – a non imperialist state, the issue of the right of self determination of the national minorities became secondary and subordinated to the question of the imperialist war of Russia against Georgia, and the interest of the working class became a revolutionary defeat of Russian imperialism and the revolutionary defence of Georgia.

    V- Internationalism

    The war broke out in South Ossetia on August 8th, when Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, ordered an invasion of the autonomous republic of South Ossestia. Thousands of refugees abandoned everything they had and flooded into North Ossetia in Russia, calling for Russia to come to their rescue.

    The Ossetian and Georgian peoples are suffering, among other reasons, because the Georgian ruling class is using them to forge closer relationships with the American and Europen imperialists. Saakashvili has started this war hoping to get the involvement of the US and Europen Imperialist armies in this assult on the Ossetians.

    The Ossestian masses cannot trust the nationalist leaders who use them to forge close relations with Russsian imperialists. Led by these nationalist servants of Western imperialism, the Ossestian masses will face a new form of nationbal opression by Russian imperialists, instead of the former one by the Georgian chauvinist capitalists.

    The only way out of this bloody trap is working class internationalism – the solidarity of the workers and the oppressed all over the world. The kind of solidarity the oppressed Ossetian and Abkhaz peoples need is with the Georgian workers against the Georgian ruling class and of the Russian workers against the Russian imperialist ruling class.

    The same is true for the Georgian workers, whose interest is in solidarity with the oppressed Ossetian, Abkhaz and Russian workers against the Russian imperialists and the Georgian servants of US and Europen imperialism.

    In Russia, the Russian working class must lead the struggle, and in Georgia, the Georgian working class must take the lead. Only a Leninist revolutionary party of the vanguard of the working class, dedicated to the defeat of imperialism and the overthrow of capitalist rule everywhere, can provide the necessary leadership to this struggle in the entire region.

    Imperialism is threatening the existence of humainty. As Lenin put it: “For humainty to live, imperialism must die”.

    Our main slogan in the conflict between Russian imperialism and the reactionary Georgian regime is: for the revolutionary defeat for Russia, and the revolutionary defense of Georgia!

    VI – What is a revolutionary defensism and defeatism?

    Marx and Engles, who lived in the pre-imperialist era, when progressive wars by the bourgeoisie of Europe were possible, used the criterion: Which side is more progressive and which one is more reactionary? Whose victory is the lesser evil? The Second International existed already in the epoch of imperialism – the decay of capitalism, when the entire capitalist system has become utterly reactionary.

    The 1907 Stuttgart and 1912 Basle resolutions of the Second International did not pose the question of war in the old way, as it became clear that all the European ruling classes are reactionary. However, when the war broke out, the social-democratic parties supported their own ruling classes, and to cover up their betrayal, raised again the old criterion of the lesser evil, with each party accusing the other imperialist ruling class of being worse, and portraying their own ruling class as the lesser evil.

    In 1914, Lenin followed the tradition of the French Marxist Jules Guesde in 1885, during the looming conflict between England and Russia over Afghanistan, took the position that whichever of the two governments is defeated, it will be a good thing for socialism, since both are “equally, oppressive although in different ways”.

    Revolutionary defeatism is not defeatism in the sense that we want one imperialist to win over the other. It means simply that we will continue the class struggle even if it hampers the war efforts of “our own” imperialist ruling class. This is very different from support for the victory of the other imperialist state. That line was typical of German liberals and social democrats during WWII, which is merely the position of American and British reformism in reverse. The American Communist party, for example, broke strikes in order to get the American imperialists to enter the war on the side of Russia. There were also radical nationalists among oppressed nations by British imperialism who wished for the victory of the Nazis.

    Internationalists are against both camps of imperialism in the war; against voting war credits; for irreconcilable class struggle during the war; for transforming the fight against the war into a civil war, for a fight for socialist power; for breaking with the International of the social-patriots of both camps. They counterposed, to the military victory of their own government’s imperialism, the victory of their own working-class struggle for socialism. To the military victory of their own government, they counterpose their own socialist solution.

    We further call on the South Ossetians, Abkhazians and Adjarians not to trust the Russian imperialists, but to join the people of Georgia in the fight against Russian imperialism. As they cannot trust the reactionary regime of Mikheil Saakashvili to defend them, they should form workers militias, independent of the Georgian army but in a military bloc with it.

    VII – For the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Federative Republic

    We are calling for the unity of the working class in the Caucauses. History has shown that the natural way forward for the peoples of the region is the Soviet Republic of Transcaucasia.

    We raise these main agitation slogans:
    Defend Georgia against the Russian Imperialist attack! Russia, out of Georgia!
    Down With the Alliance of Georgia with U.S. Imperialism! U.S., out of Georgia!
    Georgian, Ossetian, Abkhaz and Russian Workers, unite and fight for your own class interests!
    For workers militias in Georgia!

    For the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Federative Republic!

    We raise these propaganda slogans:
    Smash Imperialism through Workers’ Socialist Revolution!
    Build in each country the Revolutionary Party of the Working Class!
    Re-create the Fourth International, the World Party of Socialist Revolution!

    raved

    August 19, 2008 at 11:22 am

  3. “Were the US or NATO to get involved militarily in a war against Russia, we would take the position of revolutionary defeat for both imperialist camps, and call on the Russian and American working class to turn the imperialist war into a civil war against their own bourgeoisie. However, since in reality the US cannot afford another military front, such a situation did not materialize.”

    As someone else has pointed out on Marxmail (which I refuse to participate in given the Menshevik politics of its “owner” Louis Proyect) US imperialism does not actually have to “get involved” directly in this war against Russia when it has a proxy like Georgia which is not only a semi-colony of the US finance capitalist IMF, but is armed and politically controlled by the US State Department. If it were only a semi-colony and not a protectorate and proxy of the US then the defence of Georgia against Russia would be in order. So we would oppose its invasion of South Ossetia but then support it militarily against Russian forces that then rolled into Georgia.

    But in reality how is it possible to see Saakashvili invading South Ossetia without some go ahead from Condi Rice? She was in Tbilisi only days before Georgia bombed South Ossetia. The US and Israel are not only arming Georgia, their advisers run the army. My view is that this was a planned assault to test Russia’s response and in the knowledge that whatever Russia did, the US would win. The US would have had good satellite coverage of the Russian military build-up so bank on some incursion into Georgia. This means that the US and its stooge Saakashvili were preparing a defeat for Georgia, including death and destruction of the people, to advance its plan. What is that plan? It is to step-up the second Cold War to put pressure on Russia as a imperialist rival for oil and other raw materials in Asia.

    In this situation defence of Georgia against Russia is defence of US imperialism. The Leninist position on the national question demands that workers in the imperialist countries support the national rights of oppressed nations to convince the workers in those countries that they do not support their own imperialist ruling class national oppression and to win those workers over from a national bloc with their own bourgeoisie to international socialism. But there is no obligation to do this when the most advanced workers are being attacked by the national bourgeoisie and led into an imperialist war a a proxy for imperialism. Why? Because to do so would be to betray the class interests of those workers who are already being sacrificed to an inter-imperialist war.

    The duty of US workers in thiis situation is to call for the defeat of their own imperialist ruling class in Georgia. A ruling class that is not only oppressing Georgia but which is directly sacrificing the Georgian people to its own imperialist plans against Russia. This will immediately get a popular response from the most advanced Georgian workers and poor farmers whose lives, homes and farms have been turned into the ‘collateral’ of US imperialist policy. This would create in Georgia support for a socialist republic of Georgia that recognises the national rights of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and forges a movement towards a federation of socialist republics of the Caucasus.

    Dave Brown.

    raved

    August 21, 2008 at 10:23 am

  4. On Marxmail Yossi argues that the situation in Georgia is analogous to an example used by Trotsky – that of Algeria fighting France and being supplied with arms by Italian imperialism.

    “Let us assume that rebellion breaks out tomorrow in the French colony of
    Algeria under the banner of national independence and that the Italian
    government, motivated by its own imperialist interests, prepares to send
    weapons to the rebels. What should the attitude of the Italian workers be in
    this case? I have purposely taken an example of rebellion against a
    democratic imperialism with intervention on the side of the rebels from a
    fascist imperialism. Should the Italian workers prevent the shipping of arms
    to the Algerians? Let any ultra-leftists dare answer this question in the
    affirmative. Every revolutionist, together with the Italian workers and the
    rebellious Algerians, would spurn such an answer with indignation. Even if a
    general maritime strike broke out in fascist Italy at the same time, even in
    this case the strikers should make an exception in favor of those ships
    carrying aid to the colonial slaves in revolt; otherwise they would be no
    more than wretched trade unionists – not proletarian revolutionists.”

    This is a clear cut example of when we would not oppose the arming of Algerian nationalists fighting for liberation from France even if those arms were supplied by fascist Italy. But what has this got to do with Georgia?

    To apply to Georgia today US imperialism (Italy) would have to be supplying arms to a liberation struggle against Russia (France). But there is no liberation struggle against Russia. Georgia withdrew from the CIS as of August 14 and is not a colony of Russia. Georgia is nothing like Algeria. It was not fighting against Russia (France).
    Instead Georgia invaded South Ossetia which had already won a war against Georgia and which has a history of struggle for national autonomy. How is a Georgian invasion of South Ossetia the same as Georgia fighting a national liberation struggle against Russia?

    In the case of Georgia, the US (Italy) has taken control of the former CIS state and former republic of the SU. There was no war of liberation against Russia (France?). So there was no colonial or semi-colonial relationship with Russia after 1992. Georgia immediately entered into relations with the US, signed up to the IMF in 1993 and since the rise to power of Saakashvili in 2003 has been a US protectorate like Kosovo. Therefore the supply of US weapons to Georgia is not in the cause of national liberation from Russia, but in the cause of national suppression of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia is a complete pawn of the US (Italy) therefore we do not call on US (Italian) workers to arm Georgian workers against Russia, we call on US(Italian) workers to arm Georgian workers against the US (Italian) oppression of Georgia or South Ossetia, Abdhazia etc, and Russian (French) workers to arm Georgian workers against Russian invasion.

    I make no apologies for calling Russia the democratic imperialist and the US the fascist imperialist in this exercise.

    raved

    August 21, 2008 at 11:51 am

  5. Let us remember the lesson of Iraq of Saddam Hussein. In October 1959, one year after the overthrow of the monarchy, Saddam took part in an attempt to kill Prime Minister Abdel-Karim Kassem. The attempt back by the failed and Saddam escaped . He Returned four years later to Baghdad when the Baath Party seized power in a military coup. Nine months later the Baathists were toppled. Saddam was caught and jailed. He was elected to the position of the ed deputy secretary-general of the party while in prison. In July 1968 Saddam organized the coup that puts the Baath Party back in power, deposing President Abdul-Rahman Aref.

    On July 16, 1979 he took power after President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr was forced to step down as chairman of the RCC. This coup was backed by the CIA that gave Saddam a list of all left wingers in the country. He killed 5 thousands members of the Communist party . In September 22, 1980 armed and directed by the US Saddam made provocations to Iran and later launched an horrible war on Iran that lasts eight years. More than one million people died. During this war he was armed by Weapons for Mass Destruction provided by the US. In this war Israel sold weapons to both sides to Iraq and to Iran.

    [Here we have a broad analogy with Georgia where Saakashvili is the Georgian Saddam who launches a war on South Ossetia (of course this is a pygmy version of Saddam) but the essentials are the same. The US wanted to use Iraq as its pawn in the Middle East as it wants to use Georgia as its pawn in the Caucasus.]

    At the end of the war to compensate himself for the losses of the war, after getting the green light from the US ambassador to Iraq , on Aug 2, 1990 he launches the invasion of Kuwait. However he crossed the red line in this invasion in the eyes of the US rulers and thus began to first war of Gulf War, between military forces led by the US imperialism and Iraq that has been a pawn of US imperialism since Saddam Hussein seized power. Russia that was still a Stalinist regime under Gorbashov gave its blessing to the war against Iraq.

    [OK so now we have the invasion of South Ossetia]

    The correct line from Marxist point of view was to defend Iran during the war without giving the regime any political support. But what about Iraq led by the butcher Saddam Hussein who acted in the service of the US for years when he faced a war by the imperialists?
    The answer is defend Iraq against the imperialists without giving the reactionary regime of Saddam Hussein any political support.

    [Well if Saakashvili fell out with the US which went to war against Georgia of course we would defend it against the US just as we defended Iraq in the First Gulf War and today.]

    Why and how could we defend such a brute? A regime that fought with American and Israeli weapons. That for years was acting for the interests of the US in the region. For one reason: The imperialists are the worse enemy of the working class and humanity. Military support is not political support and at the time we give military support we prepare the working class to take power. This was the method of Lenin at the time Kornilov mobilized his army against the Kerensky government. This is Trotsky line expressed in so many places. (Algeria, Brazil, Ethiopia –Abyssinia )
    Let us assumed for a moment that in this war Israel for its reason was selling Iraq weapons would this changed our position? No!

    [Yes but this is not yet the case in Georgia. Georgia is a colony being used as a proxy in the US imperialist plan to isolate and weaken imperialist Russia. A victory for Georgia against Russia in which it claimed Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Georgian territory would be a victory for the US. If Saakashvili turned on the US or some other force emerged to fight the US we would defend it against the US]

    The danger of the position those who refuse to defend Georgia against Russian imperialism because of the fact that like Iraq the US and Israeli in particular has sold them weapons and send them military trainers is that instead of concrete analysis we get a line that blares the difference between imperialism and semi colonial countries. There is not one semi colonial country today that is not tied to one or another imperialist. That getting weapons from one or another imperialists. Those who blare the line between an imperialist and non imperialist states, by pointing out to the connections between a semi colonial country facing an imperialist war machine has not learned any thing from history and has turned Lenin and Trotsky positions and method to a line serving the imperialist world system.

    [The reason for dual defeatism in Georgia has nothing to do with blurring the difference between imperialist and semi-colonial countries. Georgia is a semi-colony of US imperialism. But the majority of Georgians do not realise this and are not supporting a leadership opposed to the US. There is no national war of independence from the US. Those who supported the Rose Revolution think that the US is freeing them from Russia. We have to prove that they are being used. That they are worth much less than the oil pipeline to the US, that their ‘freedom’ is the passport for Caspian oil passing through Georgia. The way to do that is to say that we do not defend an unconscious reactionary stooge of the US that fights a proxy war against South Ossetia on behalf of the US. We say we are for the defeat of Russia in Georgia, but also for the US proxy war being waged by Georgia on behalf of the US. We say this is not your war do not go to oppress the nationalities to the north, instead organise to overthrow the US proxy regime in your own country. Fight for an independent Georgia from both Russia and the US/NATO. Organise Georgian workers and poor farmers in solidarity with South Ossetian, Abkhasian workers and farmers for a Socialist Federation of the Caucusus. At the same time we call on Russian, European and US workers to fight the main enemy at home – their own ruling classes. Raved]

    Yossi Schwartz

    August 22, 2008 at 7:02 am

  6. Raved
    The English Editor of “Living Marxism” in his article on the War in the Caucus is turning Lenin into a follower of Hobson and his liberal theory of imperialism.
    Imperialism for The editor is simply the repression of semi colonial countries. Thus a country like Sweden can not be an imperialist one according to this definition because it does not have colonies.

    Imperialism however at least for a Marxist is a stage of capitalism, of a high composition of organic capital, in form of monopoles connected with the state. It has to do with the falling rate of profit because more capital is invested in capital rather than in labor.
    For this reason this composition of capital has become an obstacle for the development of the capitalist mode of production.

    Russia has reached this stage according to Lenin already on the eve of WWI.
    Thus the position of “living Marxism” has noting to do with Lenin’s theory of imperialism but rather with Hobson.
    If you think about his position it is the same position of Kautsky of super imperialism.

    Yossi Schwartz

    August 22, 2008 at 4:54 pm

  7. Yossi

    Where do you get this idea from? In the article above I say that Lenin regarded Russia as imperialist on the eve of WW1. I explicitly say that Russia is imperialist today. I say:
    “… that Russia is clearly extracting huge super-profits from its oil interests in what are now the formally independent nations in Central Asia.”

    You cannot have read it, or perhaps you are confusing me with the former editor of the libertarian left journal “Living Marxism’. Since the demise of that magazine and the shift of its prominent writers to the ejournal ‘spiked’ the material basis of imperialism which is capital export has disappeared and re-emerged as the Kautskyite ‘wrong policies’.
    See Frank Furedi’s account of the war in the Caucasus as being caused by no more than ‘cold war thinking’. Not a mention of the inter-imperialist struggle for oil between the US and Russia. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/earticle/5595/

    Raved

    raved

    August 23, 2008 at 2:24 am

  8. I will tell you why I reached my conclusion about your theory. It is based on the way you define Russia before the October revolution and the way you analyze China today as still not imperialist and I emphasize the terms: still, as yet…
    China if we use Lenin’s understanding what is imperialism- the epoch of decay of the system, is likely to fall apart rather than become an imperialist state. For you by defining many capitalist states as deformed workers state, imperialism has become not the final stage of capitalism but one more stage that other states that were colonies can join after they take a step you call deformed workers state even though the working class had nothing to do with their formation and a condition for their formation was the oppression of the working class struggles, by the counter revolutionary Stalinists like in China and East Europe.

    You wrote:

    First, is Russia imperialist?
    “Lenin thought so in 1917 when the Tsar was overthrown even though its ‘imperialism’ didnt really match up to the definition of imperialism as the export of capital he developed. Lenin considered Russia imperialist because it was a “prison house of nations” and extracted tribute if not super-profits from its political protectorates. In that sense, Russia was an awkward imperialism in transition from a feudal empire to capitalist imperialism, though dominated by French and German imperialism. Anyway, it is clear that Lenin thought that the workers’ revolution ended the Tsarist empire.”

    [I wrote the above so I will expand on that here: I say Russia is in “transition to a …capitalist imperialism”. This is true insofar as Lenin says “Thus, owing to the formation of capitalist monopolies, the merging of bank and industrial capital has also made enormous strides in Russia” (part 111 Finance Capital in Imperialism…”). But it is also true that Russia’s wealth is based on its ‘internal’ colonies such as Siberia. The super-exploitation of these colonies is driven by French and British finance capital which dominates Russian finance capital, but Russia shared in this super-exploitation. Lenin cites one figure that foreign ‘holdings’ in Russian banks are 3/4 of total capital (ibid). So the split was 1 to 3. I would say then that the above description is adequate. Russia is in transition to becoming a capitalist imperialist country, yet heavily dominated by French and British finance capital. Thus it has reached the ‘highest stage of capitalism’ as a relatively new, young and weak imperialist country, so your criticism below does not hold. Raved ]

    Lenin considered Russia capitalist imperialist as a member of the few imperialist nations. In the above definition of yours Lenin presumably defined Russia as imperialist not because it has reached the stage of imperialism even though in uneven way but because it had internal colonies. Thus in such a definition like yours Sweden is not an imperialist state as it does not have colonies.
    I agree that you do take an element of Lenin definition and using it you define Russia as an imperialist today. However by using only one aspect of Lenin’s definition you are missing the main point that imperialism is the highest and the last stage of capitalism , the stage where the capitalist system controlled by handful of starts has entered its decay parasitic stage. Where because of the law of the falling rate of profit the capitalist are trying to prevent the further concentration of capital. Where the relations of capitalist production are an obstacle on the further development of the forces of production and as result we live in an epoch of wars revolutions and counter revolutions.

    [I agree that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism in decline in which monopoly capital prevents the development of the forces of production. However, in Russia monopoly capitalism barely began before it was smashed by the revolution. The revolution developed the forces of production beyond the level of 1917, but the degeneration of the revolution increasingly became a barrier to their fuller development. Note that the bureaucracy was parasitic on workers social relations and prevented the working class from playing a role in developing the economy. With the restoration of capitalism huge sources of untapped raw materials and labor power now entered into the capitalist world market providing imperialism with a source of new value as a massive blood transfusion. But since Russia and the CIS countries retained political control of most of this territory, Russia has been able to also rapidly restore the state monopolisation of capital. Hence today, we have a similar situation to that of Russia before the revolution with the CIS states now defacto colonies of Russian finance capital. Hence today Russia is a new, young and relatively weak imperialist country, competing with the established imperialist countries for control of Asia and for control of the former countries of the SU. Raved]

    Now the only reason the Stalinists under Stalin were able to change the Soviet Union to highly developed industrial society which could compete for world’s control to some degree was because of this economic base result of the achievement of 1917 revolution and the creation of a workers state, the same state they destroyed and by doing so turned Russia to imperialist state.
    Because you do not accept this analysis and confuse capitalist states like China and Cuba that passed through a partial democratic revolutions with workers states, there is not one reason that will prevent you in the future from seeing China as an imperialist state because it does oppress nations like Tibet and others. Clearly you say that China is not an imperialist as yet. However it can become later on.

    “Is China imperialist?
    Today by the measure of the LOV China is capitalist. In that sense a rapidly growing powerful capitalist China could be considered imperialist. But what do we mean by imperialist? According to Lenin and imperialist country has a surplus of finance capital which must be exported to counter falling profits at home. That is, the possibilities of growth at home can only be sustained by the export of capital to earn super-profits in other countries, and be imported to the home country to maintain the rate of profit. Less important was the need to find new markets in which to sell the commodities produced in the home market. Historically, the powers that clearly meet this definition are the USA, Japan and the main European powers like Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Others are not imperialist, or may be former imperialist, and are more like semi-colonies, such as Portugal, Greece, Poland, etc. Others may be small imperialist powers such as Sweden, Austria etc.
    “Does China today meet these criteria? As yet it doesn’t appear so.” China has a big trading surplus from its commodity exports but this is mainly invested in US bonds. It is a peculiar sort of finance capital that must accept US petrodollars to fund the massive US external deficit. Most of China’s growth is driven by its internal market which is huge and expanding rapidly. In that sense China’s internal market is sufficient to maintain its profitability, while its exports are more re-exports of foreign mainly overseas Chinese companies (mainly Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have invested in China. So far from being evidence of the export of China’s surplus finance capital, China is the source of imperialist (Japanese, overseas Chinese, EU, US etc) FDI which reaps massive super-profits from China’s cheap resources and labor power.
    While the organic composition of capital in China is growing it doesn’t seem yet to have reached the point of an overproduction of capital necessitating an export of productive capital. China today, then, is still developing its internal market, making huge infrastructural investment and is only beginning to establish DFI overseas in Africa, Latin America, and the rest of Asia to create its own so-called ‘empire’. Nevertheless, China is being driven by the rapid growth in demand for cheap raw materials and markets to become a major competitor to the existing imperialist powers, a fact that is clearly behind the growing alarm with which the EU and US views its aggressive role in Africa.”

    [I also wrote the above so will expand on it here: I say quite clearly that I don’t think China is imperialist yet because it has not monopolised its capital for capital export to a sufficient degree. I say it is not yet facing a crisis of TRPF. I could be wrong. I fully expect this to happen soon if not already. Maybe its ‘internal’ colonies like Tibet are the basis of imperialist tribute, and DFI in Africa is increasing. Perhaps China is already a weak imperialist power dominated still by the US and Japan as established imperialist powers.

    But the important point is here that you absolutely restrict Lenin’s concept of imperialism to export of capital to foreign colonies. I do not accept that this is the essence of Lenin’s concept of imperialism. The essence is the overproduction of capital that seeks outlets in markets where raw materials and labor power are cheapers so that super profits “over and above” those made in the homeland are made. Such superprofits act as a counter-tendency to the TRPF. But Lenin also says that this export of capital will force the imperialists to redivide the world (once it has been completely colonised) and will lead inter-imperialist wars to redivide the spheres of interest of other imperialist powers. He cites Belgium and Lorraine as examples of territory contested by France and Germany.

    You have two problems here: First, how does the SU become imperialist in 1939 on the basis of countries it has newly occupied? How is this different to the “prison house of nations” of the Tsar? Your argument against me is that I think that the SU is imperialist in 1917 ONLY on the basis of it exploitation of ‘internal’ colonies i.e. occupied territories. How is the SU in 1939 different to this? As I say above in 1917 Lenin was not bothered by the distinction between internal and external colonies because this was not the essence of the matter. Monopoly capital was a sufficient cause of imperialism. But this is exactly what the SU lacked in 1939 because there was no capitalism restored just a badly degenerated planned workers economy. Ironically, this position of yours give away the game. For you Russia could become capitalist again and horror of horrors, imperialist, because it invaded poor little Poland and Finand. Thus it is your characterisation of Russian imperialism that is Kautskyite, i.e. based on a policy of expansion, but lacking in monopoly capital export! You subsume this historical reality that the expansion is that of extending the degenerated workers state, to a schema by superimposing the abstract ideal that Russia could become imperialist because it had developed the forces of production sufficiently under a workers state. Raved]

    Thus where as for Lenin we live in the epoch of imperialism where non imperialist states as a general rule can not become imperialists, and the exception to the rule is Russia because it was able to do it base on the achievements of the workers revolution of 1917


    [Second: Lenin does not say that new imperialist powers cannot emerge. He does say that imperialist powers must fight to redivide the world. Once capitalism is restored there is nothing to stop Russia and China from emerging as imperialist powers on the basis of the territory that was isolated from imperialism for periods of time, provided that these new imperialisms can defend and extend their domination of these ‘internal’ and ‘external’ territories at the expense of their existing rivals. It is this growing rivalry between the new ‘upstarts’ and the US, EU, Japan etc that is shaping the present inter-imperialist rivalries that the war in the Caucasus represents. Under the impact of the current crisis and the growing competition for raw materials and labor there will be more and more protectionism and proxy wars for the repartition of territories currently in the sphere of interest of Russia and China. That is why Asia and Africa are now the terrain for rising inter-imperialist rivalry in which former semi-colonies are being recolonised (Iraq, Kosovo, Georgia etc) as stepping stones to the main areas under dispute eg the Caspian and the Congo.Raved]

    Yossi Schwartz

    August 23, 2008 at 4:29 am

  9. Lenin’s theory of Imperialism

    A. From notes on the question of imperialism

    ON THE QUESTION OF IMPERIALISM
    On the question of imperialism:
    Subjects: (approximately)
    • 5.1 Finance capital.
    • 4.2 Banks.
    • 2.3 Cartels and trusts.
    • 3. Monopoly.
    • 1.4 Concentration and big industry.
    • 6.5 Export of capital.
    • 7.6 Colonies. Their significance.
    • 8.7 History of the colonies.
    • 9.8 Division of the world.
    [[BOX: International trusts
    colonies
    Calwer ]]
    • 10.9 Free competition versus imperialism.
    • 11.10 Back to free competition or forward to overcoming imperialism and capitalism?
    • 12.11 Ultra-imperialism or inter-imperialism?
    • 12 bis: Uneven growth.
    • 13.12 Hobson, Kautsky, imperialism.

    • 14.13 Apologists and petty-bourgeois critics of imperialism.
    • 15.14 Parasitism in imperialist countries… (“decay”) ((“the rentier state”)).
    • 16.15 Definitive split of the working-class movement… [“imperialism and opportunism”].
    • {{2 17.16 Diplomacy and foreign policy 1871–1914.
    • {{2 18.17 The national question in the imperialist era.
    • 19.18 Interlocking versus “socialisation” (cf. Riesser). Component parts of the concept “imperialism”. Roughly:
    o {{4 1. I monopoly, as the result of concentration
    o {{4 2. II export of capital (as the chief thing)
    o {{4 4. III {{{2 division of {{{{2 (α) agreements of international capital
    o {{4 5. IV {{{2 the world {{{{2 (β) colonies
    o {{2 3. V bank capital and its “threads”
    o {{2 6. VI replacement of free trade and peaceful exchange by a policy of force (tariffs; seizures, etc., etc.).
    Hilferding’s shortcomings:
    1. 1) Theoretical error concerning money.
    2. 2) Ignores (almost) the division of the world.
    3. 3) Ignores the relationship between finance capital and parasitism.
    4. 4) Ignores the relationship between imperialism and opportunism.
    [[DOUBLE-BOX: “Imperialism, the highest (modern) stage of capitalism.” ]]
    [[DOUBLE-BOX: Roughly:
    these 6 {{{
    1. I. Three chief (fully independent) countries
    o {{{3 Great Britain
    o {{{3 Germany
    o {{{3 United States
    2. II. Secondary
    o (first class, but not fully independent)
     {{3 France
     {{3 Russia
     {{3 Japan
    3. III.
    o Italy
    o Austria-Hungary
    There are many comments that can be made bas on these notes. One thing is sure Lenin included Russia among the second rate imperialists along side Japan and France , after Great Britain, Germany and the US and before Italy and Austro-Hungary.

    Yossi Schwartz

    August 23, 2008 at 8:57 am

  10. In your second version you wrote:”
    First, is Russia imperialist?
    “Lenin thought so in 1917 when the Tsar was overthrown even though its ‘imperialism’ didnt really match up to the definition of imperialism as the export of capital he developed. Lenin considered Russia imperialist because it was a “prison house of nations”
    and extracted tribute if not super-profits from its political protectorates. In that sense, Russia was an awkward imperialism in transition from a feudal empire to capitalist imperialism, though dominated by French and German imperialism. Anyway, it is clear
    that Lenin thought that the workers’ revolution ended the Tsarist empire.”
    [I wrote the above so I will expand on that here: I say Russia is in “transition to a …capitalist imperialism”. This is true insofar as Lenin says “Thus, owing to the formation of capitalist monopolies, the merging of bank and industrial capital has also made enormous strides in Russia” (part 111 Finance Capital in Imperialism…”). But it is also true that Russia’s wealth is based on its ‘internal’ colonies such as Siberia. The super-exploitation of these colonies is driven by French and British finance capital which dominates Russian finance capital, but Russia shared in this super-exploitation. Lenin cites one figure that foreign ‘holdings’ in Russian banks are 3/4 of total capital (ibid). So the split was 1 to 3. I would say then that the above description is adequate. Russia is in transition to becoming a capitalist imperialist country, yet heavily dominated by French and British finance capital. Thus it has reached the ‘highest stage of capitalism’ as a relatively new, young and weak imperialist country, so your criticism below does not hold. Raved ]
    Lenin considered Russia capitalist imperialist as a member of the few imperialist nations. In the above definition of yours Lenin presumably defined Russia as imperialist not because it has reached the stage of imperialism even though in uneven way but because it had internal colonies. Thus in such a definition like yours Sweden is not an imperialist state as it does not have colonies.
    I agree that you do take an element of Lenin definition and using it you define Russia as an imperialist today. However by using only one aspect of Lenin’s definition you are missing the main point that imperialism is the highest and the last stage of capitalism , the stage where the capitalist system controlled by handful of starts has entered its decay parasitic stage. Where because of the law of the falling rate of profit the capitalist are trying to prevent the further concentration of capital. Where the relations of capitalist production are an obstacle on the further development of the forces of production and as result we live in an epoch of wars revolutions and counter revolutions.

    I agree that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism in decline in which monopoly capital prevents the development of the forces of production. However, in Russia monopoly capitalism barely began before it was smashed by the revolution. The revolution developed the forces of production beyond the level of 1917, but the degeneration of the revolution increasingly became a barrier to their fuller development. Note that the bureaucracy was parasitic on workers social relations and prevented the working class from playing a role in developing the economy. With the restoration of capitalism huge sources of untapped raw materials and labor power now entered into the capitalist world market providing imperialism with a source of new value as a massive blood transfusion. But since Russia and the CIS countries retained political control of most of this territory, Russia has been able to also rapidly restore the state monopolisation of capital. Hence today, we have a similar situation to that of Russia before the revolution with the CIS states now defacto colonies of Russian finance capital. Hence today Russia is a new, young and relatively weak imperialist country, competing with the established imperialist countries for control of Asia and for control of the former countries of the SU. Raved]

    My reply:
    First it is not accurate to say that monopoly capital prevents the development of the forces. It is more accurate to say that it is an obstacle because in some branches and some states as Lenin pointed out there is an economic growth and further concentration of capital.
    Secondly in your reply you expend and change your initial definition and while you are entitle to do it, you should states that in your new definition you changed your argument. In your first definition Russia is passing from Feudalism to capitalism, and in your reply you changed it to a weak imperialism. Let us remember that at the end of the 19th century Russia began it development as a capitalist state a process that Lenin analyzed in 1899. In 1914 Russia was not any more just capitalist but reached the stage of imperialism, a weaker than Britain and Germany but stronger than Italy. Lenin analyzed it in 1916.
    However it is good we agree that Russia became imperialist in the Marxist definition prior to 1914. Clearly we do not agree what happened since 1936-1939 as you deny that the workers state was destroyed when Stalin destroyed the Bolshevik party and the workers apparatus and you argue that it was changed peacefully to capitalism and imperialism. As I pointed out already this is a revision of Lenin’s theory of the state.
    B China and the epoch of imperialism
    In your reply you confirm that according to you China can become imperialist and if China why not India. Thus the implication is that capitalism is still developing and not an epoch of decay.
    China in reality is still semi colony as the working class is super exploited by the foreign monopolies and the Stalinists act as the policeman for the imperialists.
    China has not gone through a full bourgeois democratic revolution and the revolution of 1949 was a partial democratic revolution made by the peasant led by a counter revolutionary Stalinists. It has noting in common with the Russian revolution that was a workers revolution in alliance with the peasantry a revolution that degenerated and destroyed. Today in China the partial achievements of the revolution are disappearing and china is more likely to be torn apart by the imperialists than become an imperialist.
    Thus in your reply you destroy Lenin’s theory of imperialism as the epoch of decay not of growing capitalism.
    Now let us go back to the question of the war.
    Russia is an imperialist state and Georgia is not. Russia is aiming at turning Georgia into a semi colony. Georgia has a reactionary regime a pro Western imperialism and want to join NATO but has not. Georgia oppress the national minority.
    As long has Georgia is fighting the national minorities the duty of Marxist is to defend the minorities. However once Russia is fighting against Georgia our duty is to defend Georgia against imperialism.
    Your position is to refuse to defend Georgia on grounds that Georgia is an expression of the US and it is really a war between two imperialists.
    In reality Georgia ‘s reactionary government hoped that the US will enter the war on its side but failed as the US does not want a third front and deserted Georgia and thus Georgia on its own stood against Russian imperialism.
    In this war because you refused to stand with a semi colony against imperialism you sided in the real world in spite of the rhetoric you use with Russian imperialism!
    To give you a measure of how wrong is your position King Abdullah of Jordan who wants to use the growing inter imperialist revival and wants Russian support without cutting loose from the US is holding the same position as yours

    Yossi Schwartz

    August 24, 2008 at 4:53 am

  11. I have a post at my blog about the PSUV Youth.

    Renegade Eye

    August 26, 2008 at 2:01 am

  12. Yossi,

    I’m glad we agree on Russia in 1917 and that we can’t agree on Russia in 1939.

    As for Russia becoming imperialist in the 1990s and China in the process of becoming imperialist, this results from the destruction of forces (in both Russia and China) and the addition of part of those forces into the world economy (raw materials, labour power, as well as the redivision of the existing spheres of interest of other imperialist powers (Asia, Africa, LA, Oceana).

    As to Jordan, well if Jordan is able to balance between rival imperialisms without being occupied or turned into a proxy of the one or other its unlikely to be attacked. That is surely the likely situation when a country has little to offer. In Georgia’s case it is literally the oil lifeline for Caspian oil to the West independent of Russia. Georgia for the US is no more than the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. The rest is hogwash. If Jordan was the lifeline to Middle East oil no doubt it would be occupied totally by Israel today.

    In that case I would not defend it from any other imperialist power because a victory for Jordan would be a victory for Israel as a proxy for the US or a rival imperialist power. What that means is that the imperialist power is fighting an imperialist war on the territory of its proxy. Of course if the workers in both imperialist powers agreed with me and opposed the oppressive role of their respective ruling class in Jordan, that would make it much more likely for the Jordanian workers and poor peasants to get rid of the national bourgeoisie and make a workers state.

    Thus, where control of Middle East oil is at stake, Iraq, if Russia attacked Iraq while under US occupation I would not defend Iraq. The defeat of both imperialisms would open the road to the Iraqi workers to take power.

    So you see that having arrived at the correct economic characterisation of a country as semi-colonial (or imperialist) is not the whole story. You can wear your Marxist flag on your sleeve, but the main feature of the imperialist epoch is the rule of monopoly capital through their states and this makes politics as and extension of economics, and war as a method of politics, decisive in arriving at class lines in particular conflicts.

    Raved

    raved

    August 26, 2008 at 4:53 am

  13. RAVED

    Since we can not agree that the capitalist counter revolution won only in the 1990s in Russia and not in 1936-9 as we claim or that China is becoming an imperialist state as you claim , let us focus on the analogy between Jordan and Georgia.
    We agree on the following scenario : If Israel ( an imperialist country) occupies Jordan and the Russian army claiming to support the right of self determination of Jordan fights the Israeli army it is a war between two imperialist armies and the revolutionary Marxist line is revolutionary defeat for both. At the same time we respect the self determination of the Jordanians . We had a similar situation like you describe in 1948 when the Arab states controlled by the British army in particular the Jordanian “Arab League” fought Israel . The Arab states claim of course they fight to save the Palestinians but this was a lie. Our position is no military support to Israel and the Arab states , but turn the war into a civil war in both sides and defend of the Palestinians.
    This analogy was perfect if Georgia was occupied by the American army.
    Now comes the question is Georgia occupied by the US and the war was between American and Russian imperialist armies. The answer is no! Georgian regime is a reactionary regime, it oppresses national minorities, it is a pro American imperialists, it has received weapons from the US and Israel.
    As a matter of fact the Georgian’s government wanted to drag the American army to such a war and the US refuses, as it can not afford to open a third military front. As a matter of fact Georgia was deserted by the US.
    Georgia has Israeli military trainers; these are machineries as many Israeli officers are. However when the war began Israel cut the supply of weapons and ammunition to Georgia as part of a deal with Russia. So it can not be argued that it is a war between Russian and Israeli imperialist armies.
    Yossi

    Yossi Schwartz

    August 26, 2008 at 6:47 am

  14. OT: Celia Hart RIP

    Renegade Eye

    September 9, 2008 at 2:47 am

  15. I had a few weeks ago on my blog, a Strafor report about Israel, withdrawing military aid to Georgia, weeks before Russia invaded.

    Russia is not interested per se in Israel/Palestine. Israel has been friendlt to Russia, to keep it from arming anti-US factions, and spoiling the balance of power.

    I agree with Dave. I see it as Russian imperialism against a US satellite.

    The kitsch left are only anti-Georgia.

    Regards.

    Renegade Eye

    October 2, 2008 at 7:04 am


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