National Self-Determination Trumps All

by The North Star on July 11, 2012

By Anthony Abdo

There is a belief by many U.S.-based liberals and those often calling themselves U.S. Marxists and U.S. socialists that it is the right thing to do to support political work being done oftentimes by  blatantly known pro-U.S. imperialist operatives in other countries.  Never mind that overtly stated Pentagon-NATO goals often happen to almost completely coincide with these organizing movements made in the Third World by people who are being ruled by rulers whom the American pro-war corporate press labels as being “tyrants.”

“We must show our support as socialists for the overthrow of the bad guy,” goes the thought process of the humanitarian imperialist lefty!

What this belief misses though, is that almost always these local movements against rulers in targeted by U.S. imperialism countries, are subject to continual, absolute, and total manipulation by the Western European imperialist alliance led by the U.S. government, even when the native population led by these movements thinks temporarily that their uprisings are somehow completely native born, and that they themselves will be able to run the whole show eventually.   The American-based liberal type wants to show his solidarity with the people who have been oppressed by that ruler,  even though he  has acted quite often outside of U.S. control and against the Empire’s desires, too.

And this radical will most often ignore and pay no attention to the reality that he has aligned him/herself with imperialist objectives of creating a “regime change.”

So what actually happens when socialist and Left groups in the U.S. and European countries think that their duty is in merely supporting the national uprising in some remote country?  It turns out that they are effectively helping subvert the national self-determination of these Third World countries, assisting “their own” imperialist governments in war-planning, and aiding the destruction of national independence by helping propagandize the supposed necessity of waging war against the targeted ruler’s country.  These U.S. and European socialists help their own imperialist governments create civil wars in other peoples’ countries, in short.  From that point on, the imperialists are able to make the regime change that they have planned out as being their principle objective, and then can move on to target new countries for their imposed wars of the future.

Often times, the liberal and socialist humanitarian imperialist supporter is motivated by the thought that they are actually supporting the national self-determination of some group or other in the targeted country.  Sudan provides us a glaring and most recent example of that.  Liberals and many socialists participated in building a right-wing movement demanding Pentagon-led imperialist military intervention to split off the area of Darfur off of Sudan to “save Darfur” as they represented that as being.

Actually the movement calling for U.S. military intervention against Sudan to “save Darfur”  subsided, when the government of Sudan decided to cede part of its territory to almost total and direct U.S. government control.  It agreed to allow the U.S. to take over the southern portion of their country in exchange for a termination of further hostilities against the ruling group in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

The vehicle for ceding control to the U.S. of a portion of national territory was made though allowing “independence” to be asserted by a clique thoroughly organized and controlled by the U.S. government.  This clique set up their seat of government in South Sudan in the city of Juba and has been hated by the general population in now South Sudan ever since, even well before the declaration of “independence” was actually made!

Certainly the group in Khartoum that rules over Sudan has committed some horrible war crimes during their varying wars against rebellions throughout their huge country, but that was hardly reason for U.S. and European socialists to be parroting and echoing the demands of the U.S. imperialists who demanded that Khartoum cede the southern part of their country to the U.S.  Nevertheless, many if not most, did.

Similarly, almost the entire Western left demanded, alongside their own imperialist governments, that Indonesia hand over part of its national territory to be then essentially be completely run by the Australian government and their puppet allies.  We are talking about East Timor now, where the Indonesia government had committed some horrific war crimes against its own people in that region of their country, which made imperialism’s job of splitting East Timor off of Indonesia  all the more easier to pull off.

In both cases of East Timor and South Sudan, U.S. and European socialists stated that they were supposedly  supporting self-determination, even as they helped their own government’s destroy the actual larger area’s self determination situation of the peoples of Indonesia and Sudan wanting to keep their nations intact without having to cede territory to neo-imperialist control on demand.

A brief word now too about the real legacy of a pretended socialist “internationalism” that supports tearing asunder weaker countries simply because there is a rebellion against some local tyrant or the other, that quickly becomes co-opted by the U.S. empire and its military.

It simply is not an example of showing solidarity with those under the gun while fighting oppressive rulers and tyrants, since one tyranny is quickly replaced by another one, which is always going to be a  tyranny run by Empire, where all elements of national self-determination are now completely stripped away. It is much more a help to build a movement to try to stop the ability of the imperialists to mobilize their war machines.  This is not being done in the U.S. or Western Europe really.

For still another example about these issues of self-determination, if we look at the British and their efforts to remove Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe, one must ask if there can be any real independent rebellion against Mugabe at all when every government in the entire Western European-U.S. imperialist world is moving against the thug?  Not really.  Will it truly be a socialist achievement if U.S. and British-based socialists rally and propagandize around achieving the goal of regime change there, because many Zimbabweans want that even if Mugabe was merely replaced by a British-controlled puppet?  Not really.

If the goal of U.S. and European socialists should not be one of helping their own imperialist governments reshape the political map constantly in their favor in other subservient regions of he world, then what should we be doing?   Obviously we can most show assistance in the battle against Third World tyranny simply by opposing “our” governments’ militaries and their actions and to try to stop their wars that are constantly being mobilized for us to support like lemmings. It is when we haven’t done much of any of that antiwar movement-building that socialist comrades most seem to  feel then somehow obligated to go out running and screaming aloud in support of whatever pretend humanitarian campaign the imperialists say they are trying to make successful. If time after time, socialist groups find themselves actually endorsing what imperialism is doing instead of building a real antiwar movement, then it is a sure tale sign that the group is not doing any of the necessary political work in the concrete within their own countries, so they have substituted making demands against the rulers who rule in those smaller and weaker countries of the planet, instead of making demands against  their own imperialist ruling class.

When your public rhetoric of a socialist group is running parallel with the propaganda of the imperialists, then your little group of supposed Marxist leaders is doing something wrong. Big time.

Socialists should support the national self determination of nations under attack by U.S. imperialism, even when those nations are administered by dictatorial capitalist regimes.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp July 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm

“…local movements against rulers in targeted by U.S. imperialism countries, are subject to continual, absolute, and total manipulation by the Western European imperialist alliance led by the U.S. government…”

So in other words: black, brown, and yellow people’s movements for freedom, democracy, justice, and/or socialism can never maintain their political independence from Uncle Sam’s machinations and manipulation? That’s taking the white anti-imperialists’ burden to a new shameful level.


Tony July 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm

‘…is that almost always these local movements against rulers in targeted by U.S. imperialism countries, are subject to continual, absolute, and total manipulation by the Western European imperialist alliance led by the U.S. government, even when the native population led by these movements thinks temporarily that their uprisings are somehow completely native born, and that they themselves will be able to run the whole show eventually.’

Pham, you cut short what I wrote to deliberately imply that I had said something completely different than what I actually had written. That is very dishonest of you, Pham.

‘Almost always’ is a completely different statement by me than the ‘can never’ which you attribute to me as having said.

Let me add here, that in the specific case of Libya, it is very definite that Mahmoud Jibril and his forces were US backed and politically manipulated by the US government from the very beginning of the uprising against Gaddafi. He was ‘turned’ from being a Gaddafi agent into being a Pentagon agent, in short. Perhaps it occurred way back when he went to the US university in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania even?

The ability to recognize this sort of thing when it happens is key to not thinking in like situation…. that Gorbachev’s glasnost was to be somehow the real thing and going about simply ignoring evidence that he was in fact, an ideological friend of Thatcher and Reagan. If you do that sort of thing, then you end up naming your socialist group ‘Solidarity’ after a Polish, Right Winger/ heavily influenced Catholic Movement to overthrow planned production in Poland say.

Pham, you are in that group Solidarity, aren’t you? Perhaps that’s where you pick up your current methodology in chopping up quotes from other socialists and supporting Pentagon backed political movements in Third World countries? Don’t want to go into Solidarity’s positions regarding NATO war against Yugoslavia too much right now, but it was not successful obviously in building an antiwar movement against NATO and the Pentagon, was it, Pham?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp July 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I included the words “almost always” in the partial quote I reproduced from you. How that adds up to me being “dishonest” escapes me.

So what movements are exceptions to your “almost always” rule are there historically, since you claim “almost always” is in now way synonymous with “can never”?

And where is the evidence that Jabril is a CIA asset? What pro-U.S., pro-CIA policy has he pushed onto the Libyans? Do tell.

And lastly, where did you get the idea that I’m a member of Solidarity? I’d ask for proof and evidence, but I’ve grown a little wiser by now and won’t bother.


Tony July 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I got the idea, Pham, that you were perhaps in Solidarity because I saw that Solidarity’s website saw you in a quite favorable light and were allowed to publish your material there which they were not likely to be doing if you held positions much different than the group’s leadership. PLUS, they have always had your politics in regard to these issues of war and how they see it as A-OK in supporting overthrowing ‘dictators’ who the Pentagon targets. However, upon closer reading of how they introduced you, I do notice that they referred to you as an INDEPENDENT socialist voice working inside Occupy, which does suggest that though you share most political positions with Solidarity, that you are not necessarily a dues paying member of that group as of this moment. You do share political positions apparently.

Where is the evidence for Jibril being in the US government’s camp? All over the place, which is why I merely posted some pictures which show who Jibril cavorts with, and worked with in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government. I have not alleged though that Jibril is necessarily a PAID CIA asset. And if he isn’t that still does not make him anything but still a US government asset.

Jibril plans to put an open for US business policy in place for the NATO run Libya and the evidence for that is in all his public pronouncements, Pham. If you are truly unaware of what he has had to say on foreign ‘investment’??? then you truly are in a much bigger fog than I had imagined you already to be.

‘Jibril will begin with one big advantage, however: a ready-made plan for the future, which he drafted as head of Libya’s Economic Development Board, using consultants from Monitor Group in Cambridge, Mass.; Ernst & Young; and the Oxford Group. At the time those groups were heavily criticized by some Libya watchers for believing that it was possible to reform Libya under Gaddafi — a criticism that proved correct. In an interview on the night Gaddafi was killed last October, Jibril told TIME in Tripoli that Gaddafi’s regime had blocked his reform proposals at every turn. “They took everything they received from us and just threw it in the garbage,” he said. He listed among other plans massive tourism development, solar-power and wind-energy projects along Libya’s long Mediterranean coastline, a drastic overhaul of the outdated education system and a program to mobilize millions of underemployed women. “This is a real road map,” he said. “We have the plan ready.” Now it’s time to dust it off.’ complete article about Jibril @

NOTE- They do no call Jibril a CIA asset but merely label him as being ‘a U.S.-educated policy wonk’. Some guy for you to be cheering about, Pham? You should start a group and call it ‘Socialists for US Educated Policy Wonks’. The group Solidarity would support you in that.

And let me all mention that I did not choose the title (nor do I like it) for my commentary as being ‘National Self-Determination Trumps All’. The North Star people did and threw out my title which was the longer but much clearer title…

‘Socialists should support the national self determination of nations under attack by US imperialism, even when those nations are administered by dictatorial capitalist regimes’


Brian S. July 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm

What exactly is it you object to in Jibril’s programme that you quote?


Tony July 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Everything. I don’t think that it is in the interests of anybody to link into the world capitalist system, do you Brian? And to link into the world capitalist system as a dependent state as Jibril wants to do is everything I think socialists are normally against, despite Jibril’s sugary coating for pushing it off as a model for the country to now follow.

Perhaps you think like Jibril does that Libya should become a tourist haven so that it can cover up some for the foreign take over of the oil industry, and in fact, the foreign take over of most every important industry in Libya? Brian, perhaps you should google some on these groups mentioned that Jibril closely associates himself with… The Monitor Group in Cambridge, Mass.; Ernst & Young; and the Oxford Group. Is this what you think might be a revolution in the making in Libya here? I think it is not. I think it is the actual model of a US government inspired counter revolution for Libya.


Todd July 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

“I don’t think that it is in the interests of anybody to link into the world capitalist system”

So you like poverty as well as bourgeois dictatorships. Nice.


Diana Barahona July 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

It’s not what he says, which is public relations, but what he doesn’t say. In what country in the world have neoliberal economic policies benefited the working and peasant classes, when taking the current economic crisis and environmental destruction into account? Everywhere, the gap between rich and poor is wider. Governments are more in debt, because they can’t or won’t tax the transnationals. The private banks borrow from the state central banks at no or low interest and loan the money back to the government at much higher interest rates. The civil service is cut to the bone and the public unions attacked. The private labor force is deunionized and flexibilized through privatization and economic restructuring. Education and health are privatized. Pensions are privatized and gutted. Smaller retailers are put out of business by transnational retailers. Utility rates skyrocket while subsidies are eliminated. The mining, hydroelectric and chemical companies operate as they please. Need I go on?


Tony July 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I think it becoming rather useless talking with somebody like Todd, who is actually arguing that he Pentagon is an international anti-poverty program where as independent minded nationalists embrace capitalist made poverty. It is hard for me to understand how somebody like Todd can rationalize that he is some sort of a marxist with a mind set like he is showing now.


Diana Barahona July 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

True, which is why my response was directed to Brian S., who asked, “What exactly is it you object to in Jibril’s programme that you quote?” :)


Brian S. July 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Sure: but as you say, Jibril doesn’t advocate any of that. His programme may be “public relations” but if he doesn’t keep to it do you think the Libyan people are too dumb to notice?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp July 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Again, what movements are exceptions to your “almost always” rule are there historically, since you claim “almost always” is in now way synonymous with “can never”?


Tony July 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I would like to mention here, too, that I did not actually choose any of the pictures accompanying my commentary. In fact, I had encouraged that the commentary as I wrote it be published minus these add ons.

I am sincerely grateful that North Star did publish my comments. I would hope that North Star would continue to open its site up to comments from all points of view.


Brian S. July 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Its useful to have an extended statement like this of the other side of the case that has been argued out elsewhere in this site. Presumably the title “National Self-Determination Trumps All” is intended to summarise the core of the argument.
The first problem with this formula is that “nation” is a very difficult category to apply consistently to the third world (and arguably to other places), where national identities and social formations and are historically unsettled and shifting. As the author seems to recognise, many of the major conflicts of the post-colonial era have centred around movements for national self-determination within multi-national third world states.
As it turns out, that isn’t a problem for Tony, because he doesn’t really mean nations – in the remainder of his argument nations and national status doesn’t feature at all, he simply refers to countries, by which he clearly means states and the regimes which govern them.
So the formula should read “Third world regime preservation trumps all.”
Moreover most of his examples relate to cases where there have been internal insurgent movements opposing existing regimes, so its not just external intervention he’s opposed to , but internal revolt as well. And it doesn’t stop there: he includes the case of Zimbabwe where the opposition has been almost entirely peaceful and there has been no challenge to the unity of the country. So his ban on internal third world oppositions includes both revolts and peaceful political opposition
The bottom line seems to be that he opposes any movement in a third world country that jeapordises the ruling power, on the basis that it might provide an opportunity for imperialism to interfere. This principle was applied to Libya and is now applied to Syria. Did it apply to Mubarak’s Egypt? Does it apply to military-ruled Myanmar? Does it stop anywhere?
Does Tony think that he can put together a credible programme for socialists in the third world with bleak prescriptions like this?


admin July 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

The title was an editorial decision, not the author’s. It was meant to sum up the core of the argument. Since no one is talking about violating the sovereignty of imperialist or powerful states like the U.S., the term “nation” was used instead of “Third World nation” which would be a more accurate rendering of Tony’s argument.


Brian S. July 12, 2012 at 10:49 am

Thank you for that clarification. I had thought about the issue of imperialist “nations” but I decided, like you, that it could be taken for granted that we were talking about the third world. But my point that Tony is not talking about “nations” but third world states remains valid. I guess he might object that the phrase “trumps all” (if that was also of your devising) does not accurately state his position – but it seems to me quite a fair summary of his argument.


Diana Barahona July 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Socialist revolutionaries would be well advised not to ask the main powers of the global capitalist system to “save them.” It has always been a fundamental principal in Latin America that the revolution would be made by the people, through their own struggle. A revolution brought by NATO bombs is an oxymoron.

On Egypt, here’s an interesting look at the current stage of that unfinished revolution and the challenges it faces:


Diana Barahona July 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Brian your take on Egypt ignores the fact that Mubarak was a U.S.-backed dictatorship, and the military is currently receiving the same generous U.S. military aid as before the transition to the Muslim Brotherhood government. So people all over the world were right to support that revolution, which is still unfinished.

But the statement that uprisings in the Third World “might provide an opportunity for imperialism to interfere” is amazingly uninformed. Imperialism does not “interfere” anywhere–it is an ubiquitous, omnipresent force. Or don’t you read about the CIA, the State Department “transition initiatives” and “democracy promotion” and Wikileaks cables?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp July 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Your take on Egypt ignores the fact that the Obama administration turned against Mubarak before he stepped down and the U.S. in fact urged the military dictatorship not to use lethal force against protestors. Since the revolution against Mubarak was “U.S.-backed,” I guess we should oppose it according to you. Yes?


Diana Barahona July 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Mr. Binh, you have everything upside-down. Yes, the U.S. government made a strategic decision that Mubarak had to go because he was no longer able to maintain legitimacy or hegemony on behalf of the transnational capitalist class. In the same way, the U.S. eased out dictatorships such as Marcos, Pinochet and many more, in order to manage the transition to civilian regimes, which were better able to dominate by consent and restructure their respective states along neoliberal lines. They maintain hegemony through what Dinucci calls “the most effective social control mechanism under the sun: an alternating two-party system.”
I don’t know where I said that “the revolution against Mubarak was ‘U.S.-backed'” since I don’t believe this to be the case at all. What I am sure I did say is that the revolution was unfinished. I say this because a new neoliberal regime has been installed and the military has been left intact, as the article by Dinucci explains. If I ever said that the Egyptian revolution was U.S.-backed, please tell me where so that I can post a retraction.


Diana Barahona July 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

And I was in the streets several times here in the U.S. supporting the Egyptian revolution.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp July 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm

If only you would do the same for their Syriand and Libyan counterparts.


Brian S. July 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Imperialism is “an ubiquitous, omnipresent force”. I have long suspected that your view of imperialism owes more to penny thrillers than Lenin: a kind of “Fu Manchu with drones”.
I can also see why there is so much cross-over between the hyper-anti-imperialists and conspiracy theorists (a la RT). Imperialists may fantasise about having these sort of super-powers, but reality falls far short. Imperialism is a system – and like all systems riddled with contradictions: a mess of competing states, cross-pressured governments, rival and bureaucracy ridden agencies, conflicting interest groups. And that’s even before we get around to its biggest contradiction – popular revolt. Most of the time it is reacting rather than controlling, trying to catch up rather than pulling the strings. Look at the current hand-ringing in the security services about their failure to foresee the Arab Spring.


Diana Barahona July 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm

You are using genetic fallacy, Brian. And you have not addressed my post above dealing with the ways neoliberalism and global capitalism have immiserated most of humanity. And I haven’t even gone into the way global capitalism and its imperative for growth has plunged the planet into an irreversible ecological meltdown which will end with the destruction of most life.


Tony July 14, 2012 at 7:28 am

You imply that imperialism is merely some sort of ‘weak force’ of politics, Brian, when in fact it is something very strong and forceful and that has created a constant danger of future nuclear war eliminating all life on the planet. For you to be poo pooing the idea that to see US and Western European imperialism as being extremely dangerous to the world population and saying that to see it in that way is a paranoid conspiracy theory gone wild, and speaking like you are some sort of brilliant marxist while spouting such nonsense is all particularly rather sad to see and hear.

I have been a pro marxist anti capitalist all my life but to see this sport of bullshit being thrown out from the marxist movement is making me re-evaluate my politics quite some bit. I have to ask what it is in your ‘marxist’ ideology that has turned you into such a conservative that is so hostile to basic antiwar movement building?

Lenin, who you lay claim to being his messenger, brought the Bolsheviks to power behind a demand for Peace and an end to imperialist war. I guess you would actually now label the way the Bolsheviks felt back then as now being ‘hyper anti imperialists’? I find this debate you engage others in as being just absolutely Bizarro. There is nothing of the marxist tradition I can see in your ideas at all really.


Tony July 12, 2012 at 11:18 am

‘Does Tony think that he can put together a credible programme for socialists in the third world with bleak prescriptions like this?’

First of all, I’m not here on this forum trying to tell socialists in the Third World what to do AT ALL. Unlike the humanitarian imperialist Lefties I do not claim to have any special understanding about Libya and Syria that would allow me to take sides in their eternal and internal battles. My arguments have ONLY to do with discussing what First World socialists should be doing, which is highlighting the program of how we in the US, where Brian and I actually live, should all be foremost engaging in trying in build a movement inside the US to stop the imperialist war machine in its CONSTANT efforts to constantly reshape the world in favor of our own imperialist US based capitalists.

I don’t think that we have prioritized this work at all and this is the actual point of where many socialists in the US simply go off on a tangent analyzing other regimes for themselves, into plus and minus categories in their own closed off heads (Milosevic, North Korea, and Chavez we defend from imperialist target practice,while with Gaddafi and Assad we do not, and actually get in their with our own gleeful wishes that the overthrow proceed!) It is because our socialist comrades are basically NOT succeeding in organizing any real antiwar movement in the US, so they then go off trying to form a movement against one dictator or another in countries far removed from our actual own instead.

Instead of discussing their own building of an antiwar movement at home in the US, these comrades go off acting as they know who is doing what in Libya and Syria, of all damn places, since none of us here in the US hardly have the least idea of what those societies are actually all about at all. There is a dictatorship in Jordan but we are not discussing how to try to overthrow that dictator now. There is a dictatorship inside Egypt, but we’re not really trying to discuss how to overthrow that group of totalitarians. Instead we have centered in on Syria and Libya. But why is that? The reasons have NOT to do with revolutions occurring in Libya and Syria but rather that is where the imperialist COUNTER REVOLUTIONARIES have concentrated their own firepower against. Should we just follow behind them screaming invective at the regimes targeted? Some comrades seem to think so!

Comrades Brian and Pham, Louis and Clay, how many countless hours of POINTLESS polemicizing against Assad and Gaddafi have you now engaged in? Now lets ask you comrades also, how much polemicizing have you done against the 5 decade long US ‘drug war’ have you done meanwhile? This after all, is the raison d’être for all the US imperialist interventions in Latin America. How much discussion have you engaged in in actually creating an opposition to the US imposed and directed ‘drug war’ in Mexico INSIDE the US? Were you too busy elsewhere perhaps to have done much?

What goes on in neighboring Mexico would seem to me to be of much more import TO US SOCIALISTS than on what goes on with US government promoted regime changes in African or Asian nations we know nothing really about, despite all our pretenses to be carrying all the tools of Marxist analysis in out minds. Have any of you comrades shown solidarity with Mexicans who are protesting US government supported and imposed electoral frauds in Mexico? Have any of us socialists in the US organized rallies against the US driven ‘drug war’ that is killing tens of thousands of Mexicans, not to mention jailing hundreds of thousands of US citizens as well? But we have total time for cheerleading regime changes headed up by the Clintons, Panetta, and Obama? Something is wrong here with that picture, Comrades. This is the picture that we give off to American citizens as a whole though. No wonder seem to lean more to going with Ron Paul than with us, eh?

Brian says … So the formula (by Tony) should read “Third world regime preservation trumps all.” No, Brian, it should instead read that ‘Stopping US imperialists in making their wars trumps all.’


Tony July 12, 2012 at 11:24 am

That should have read… ‘No wonder many in the US seem to lean more to going with Ron Paul than with us socialists, eh?’ That is because theLibertarians are much more consistent in VERBALLY opposing war, including the ‘drug war’ which US socialists of all tendencies seem actually reluctant to even publicly criticize, let alone build a movement against.


Brian S. July 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

You say that your formula is ‘Stopping US imperialists in making their wars trumps all.’ That’s all very well, but your reasoning, as I understand it, is that this entails rejecting all forms of internal opposition to existing third world states, even those that are “dictatorial capitalist regimes.”
You continue say that “Socialists should support the national self determination of nations under attack by US imperialism” but why shouldn’t that apply to the self determination of nations under attack by, for example, one of your dictatorial capitalist regimes? (or do you think they don’t do that sort of thing?)
To take one of your examples:
Why should we defend the vicious, anti-communist, US allied and armed Indonesian military dictatorship against the “nation” of East Timor, under the leadership of a socialist anti-colonial liberation movement?


Tony July 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I don’t think it right to REJECT internal opposition to countries whose governments are under attack by US imperialism, Brian. But we should not necessarily embrace it whole heartedly as if we are watching Holy world revolution unfold before our very eyes.

One simple reason that is true, is simply that from the US it is so damn hard to really know what is going on in countries we know absolutely nothing about. Many of these countries have dozens of competing ethnic, language, and cultural groups within them. What do we US socialists really know about societies such as that, with us coming from a monocultural society? Who are we to sit as judges over these clashing groups of people?

The other reason of course, is that our real fight is with our own government, not with some dictator whose name we can’t even decide how to spell. We fight our own government so hard because we are not just defending ourselves from them, but because we AS WELL are defending all the people of the world who get run over by the Pentagon. What does Gaddafi or Assad have much to do with this fight we engage in, Brian? Not much. And we as socialists are not TV news anchors and should not act like that, just reporting news that is meaningless to us really. Then move on to the next ‘news’ tidbit….?

International solidarity involves us dissolving the US military machine, whether we are doing that or not, and how to do it? That’s it there. We do not help build an antiwar movement by concentrating our fire power alongside the Pentagon instead of against it. All this talk about Gaddafi and Assad could much better be spent on arguing against the military being allowed to turn itself into an employment program for the most meatheaded sections of the US working class, for example. Or arguing that it get the Hell out of Mexico and directing the drug war there (which NORTHCOM does from Colorado, in fact).


Tony July 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I don’t think that Trotsky, or any other Bolshevik leaders either, ever saw national questions from the limited angle that many of their modern day grandkids now do. They lived in an large and extremely mixed Empire of all sorts of people living together, whereas modern day US based Leftists seem to see everything in a Black versus White/ US Walmart sort of view rather than in any multi colored/ multi dimensional picture of the world.

Brian, you exhibit perfectly this Black vs White Christian Good vs Bad/ God vs the Devil mind set when you bring up East Timor versus Indonesia. Indonesia is a multi ethnic country and was also battling Australia in a well oiled turf war, which you, with your Good versus Bad, Black vs White mindset never even begin to get any gasp on. Hell! You leave Australia entirely out of the picture, too! You analyze the battlefield only in your pseudo Black vs White duality view of ‘self determination’, though issues of self determination often involve multiple groups of diverse competing groups, and NOT JUST TWO GROUPS alone.

‘Why should we defend the vicious, anti-communist, US allied and armed Indonesian military dictatorship against the “nation” of East Timor, under the leadership of a socialist anti-colonial liberation movement?’

Why should we see this conflict in these terms, Brain? I also see this conflict in terms of Green Left Weekly Australian, uni English culture marxists demanding of their own imperialist Australian government that they steal away lands from Third World, multi national Indonesia.

That is part of the big picture, Brian, that your Black and White pseudo Marxist perspective does not include in your personal frame of sight. And it sees bullshit through rose colored (not red, Comrade) lenses. East Timor under a ‘leadership of a socialist anti-colonial liberation movement’… WHERE? In your humanitarian imperialist head alone, I would say. And in the heads of all those Lefty, humanitarian imperialist, Green Left Weekly reading Australians calling for their imperialist government to steal land away from Indonesia in their fake-o marxist manner.


Tony July 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm

PS- Brian, I did not intentionally misspell your name ‘Brain’. Sorry about that. Even when one reads over their material several times these sort of misspellings can still slip through.


Brian S. July 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

It’s ok – I’ve been there too Tony.


Aaron Aarons July 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Tony offers the slogan, “Stopping US imperialists in making their wars trumps all.”

I would offer a modified version: “Stopping US and Western imperialists and their clients from preserving and extending their military and economic domination of the world is the highest priority on a global scale.” I would add, though, that supporting worker-peasant based leftist struggles against capitalist rulers of any kind is also a top priority.

i do think Tony is wrong about East Timor. There was no Indonesian nation to break up. The Indonesian military, with U.S. weapons and support, murderously invaded and occupied East Timor after it became independent from Portugal in 1975, largely because the dominant force was the then-“communist” Fretilin. Of course, the whole left supported the East Timorese struggle against the Indonesian junior partners of Western imperialism. The situation since Indonesian troops left East Timor is that, apparently, the latter is a neo-colony of Australia and the U.S., but I wouldn’t venture to say much more about that.

Until the left is strong enough to throw its weight around internationally, unfortunately, there’s not much we can do to liberate East Timor or anywhere else from imperialist capitalism. But we should do what we can to both undermine support for imperialism, especially of the “humanitarian” variety, and aid the genuinely leftist forces that exist around the world.


Tony July 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Vlad the Progressive- Would Putin Make a Better President Than Obama? by MIKE WHITNEY deals some with the current favorite international demon of the humanitarian Lefty Imperialists. It’s a good read about the issues that North Star has had discussion focused on…

It gets me when some Pentagon loving Lefties now call Putin a ‘Russian imperialist’ even… lol… Respecting the rights of other nations to be free of US imperialism starting covert wars YES is even labeled as being a form of ‘imperialism’ these days by some on the US Left. Putin, I guess IS guilty of respecting the rights of other nations to not get drawn into covert wars started out of the US and European countries. Bad Vlad! scream the humanitarian imperialist pseudo socialist lot. Too funny for words really.


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