Marxism Versus Conspiracism

by Louis Proyect on August 1, 2012

First published by Unrepentant Marxist.

After reading Charlie Skelton’s 5000-word article in the July 12 Guardian titled “The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?“, I was reminded of the difference between Marxism and what I call conspiracism.

Marxism is based on a class analysis but the conspiracists essentially subscribe to a Great Man theory of history in which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and para-statal institutions pull the strings in a global puppet show. They think that the left’s main purpose is to pull back the curtain like Toto in The Wizard of Oz and expose the puppeteers, as if such knowledge will put a stop to capitalist intervention in the Middle East or elsewhere. And more problematically, the conspiracists see CIA support for an insurgent movement as prima facie evidence that it must be opposed. For most of the conspiracist left, Libya and Syria are poster children for their peculiar worldview. But at least for one high-profile member of this current—Michel Chossudovsky of—the net is cast wider. The Egyptian revolution is tainted as well since some of its leaders had the backing of the West.

Skelton’s article consists of an effort to connect the dotted lines between the anti-Assad movement and Western imperialism through numerous “revelations” such as the Bilderberg links of an SNC leader:

Here is Bassma Kodmani, seen leaving this year’s Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Virginia.

Kodmani is a member of the executive bureau and head of foreign affairs, Syrian National Council. Kodmani is close to the centre of the SNC power structure, and one of the council’s most vocal spokespeople. “No dialogue with the ruling regime is possible. We can only discuss how to move on to a different political system,” she declared this week. And here she is, quoted by the newswire AFP: “The next step needs to be a resolution under Chapter VII, which allows for the use of all legitimate means, coercive means, embargo on arms, as well as the use of force to oblige the regime to comply.”

This year was Kodmani’s second Bilderberg. At the 2008 conference, Kodmani was listed as French; by 2012, her Frenchness had fallen away and she was listed simply as “international” – her homeland had become the world of international relations.

Skelton is some kind of special correspondent on Bilderberg for the Guardian, filing his first article in 2009. I am not quite sure how he got this gig since his prior jobs were writing comedy and reviewing porn films for the Erotic Review. Well, maybe that was just the right preparation.

Bilderberg is a kind of Holy Grail for the conspiracy-minded. This is supposedly where the ruling class gets together once a year to map out plans on how to dominate the world. For a leftist Ian Fleming, this is a collection of supervillains just waiting for a leftist James Bond to take on. Maybe someone like Charlie Skelton:

I arrived last night, under cover of darkness. I told the cab driver to stop 50 metres from the hotel. He asked why. I couldn’t tell him that it was so I could case the entrance for FBI lenses. I simply muttered that I couldn’t explain. His eyes lit up. “Aha! I see! I know!” What did he know? And who is that following us? A man in a BMW. Definite spook.

In Skelton’s entire 5000-word article, there was not a single reference to the ordinary Syrians who have risked their lives to oppose Bashar al-Assad either through peaceful protests or through armed struggle. 20,000 people have lost their lives in this conflict so far, the overwhelming majority of whom it is safe to say are opposed to the dictatorship. If Syria had the same population as the USA, this would have represented 300,000 deaths, a staggering figure.

What would cause so many people to risk their lives in such a one-sided battle? For an answer to this, you must look elsewhere than comedian-conspiracists like Charlie Skelton. For all of the preoccupation with the Western corporate elite and the CIA, the real answer lies within Syria itself and the wrenching social changes that Marxist scholar Bassam Haddad has identified in the article The Syrian Regime’s Business Backbone:

By the late 1990s, the business community that the Asads had created in their own image had transformed Syria from a semi-socialist state into a crony capitalist state par excellence. The economic liberalization that started in 1991 had redounded heavily to the benefit of tycoons who had ties to the state or those who partnered with state officials. The private sector outgrew the public sector, but the most affluent members of the private sector were state officials, politicians and their relatives. The economic growth registered in the mid-1990s was mostly a short-lived bump in consumption, as evidenced by the slump at the end of the century. Growth rates that had been 5-7 percent fell to 1-2 percent from 1997 to 2000 and beyond.

After Bashar al-Asad succeeded his father in 2000, the architects of Syria’s economic policy sought to reverse the downturn by liberalizing the economy further, for instance by reducing state subsidies. Private banks were permitted for the first time in nearly 40 years and a stock market was on the drawing board. After 2005, the state-business bonds were strengthened by the announcement of the Social Market Economy, a mixture of state and market approaches that ultimately privileged the market, but a market without robust institutions or accountability. Again, the regime had consolidated its alliance with big business at the expense of smaller businesses as well as the Syrian majority who depended on the state for services, subsidies and welfare. It had perpetuated cronyism, but dressed it in new garb. Families associated with the regime in one way or another came to dominate the private sector, in addition to exercising considerable control over public economic assets. These clans include the Asads and Makhloufs, but also the Shalish, al-Hassan, Najib, Hamsho, Hambouba, Shawkat and al-As‘ad families, to name a few. The reconstituted business community, which now included regime officials, close supporters and a thick sliver of the traditional bourgeoisie, effected a deeper (and, for the regime, more dangerous) polarization of Syrian society along lines of income and region.

Successive years of scant rainfall and drought after 2003 produced massive rural in-migration to the cities — more than 1 million people had moved by 2009 — widening the social and regional gaps still further. Major cities, such as Damascus and Aleppo, absorbed that migration more easily than smaller ones, which were increasingly starved of infrastructural investment. Provincial cities like Dir‘a, Idlib, Homs and Hama, along with their hinterlands, are now the main battlegrounds of the rebellion. Those living in rural areas have seen their livelihoods gutted by reduction of subsidies, disinvestment and the effects of urbanization, as well as decades of corrupt authoritarian rule. The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings motivated them to express their discontent openly and together.

The other thing that you will never find in conspiracist literature—such as it is—is an examination of one of the most telling connections between the CIA and the Arab world, namely the service that Ghadafi and al-Assad performed for President Bush’s extraordinary rendition program. Compared to them, Bassma Kodmani’s attendance at Bilderberg meetings is small peanuts.

One of the victims was Maher Arar, a dual Canadian-Syrian citizen and telecommunications engineer who spent a year in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons being beaten with shredded cables. Accused of being a member of al-Qaeda, Arar’s politics are anything but Islamist. He recently founded an online publication called Prism that is radical and secularist. There you can find an article by Arar titled Syria: Foreign Interference Between Myth and Reality that is a welcome corrective to Skelton’s maunderings. Arar writes:

Exaggeration of ‘outside influence’

Now to claim that there is no outside, foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs is to deny the obvious. But in my opinion this “interference” has been exaggerated (the analyses I’ve read with respect to this issue are based on speculations that are not supported by facts on the ground). Yes, there are countries who have always had a strong desire to see the Syrian-Iranian marriage fall apart. But to what extent these countries are influencing events on the ground is far from certain. For instance, the efforts reportedly led by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to equip the rebels with heavy arms have not yet borne fruits, and it seems the FSA is mostly using light to medium weapons.

Most of these weapons have either been bought from corrupt army officers, or have been acquired by raiding weapons caches. Qatar and Saudi Arabia reportedly would want to make sure that weaponry would only be distributed to those groups that would pledge allegiance to them. While some groups may accept the deal, it is far from certain that all groups would accept any preconditions – as recently reported by Time magazine.

While the CIA may be present near the Syrian-Turkish border, all evidence points to the fact that the US is not very keen to arm the rebels, out of fear the arms would eventually fall in the hands of al-Qaeda and like-minded groups. In fact, Washington, despite the anti-Assad rhetoric we read about in media headlines, is not very keen on replacing the Assad regime with one whose allegiance to the US would be uncertain.

The two reasons just mentioned explain why the US has so far refused to supply weapons to Syria’s armed opposition. The latest discussions that took place in Geneva demonstrate that the US still prefers “a political solution” (whatever that means).

In light of Arar’s reference to CIA fears that arms would fall into the hands of Islamists, it should be noted that the bourgeois press has stepped up its warnings about the threat of jihadism in Syria in a manner that suggests compliance with Obama’s foreign policy agenda. Despite all the talk about the U.S. pulling strings in Syria, there is every reason to believe that Washington has about as much use for the Free Syrian Army as it does for Hamas or Hezbollah.

The hat blocks the CIA’s mind control device signals.

For some conspiracists, the jihadist angle is paramount. Al-Qaeda is underneath every bed in the Middle East, a fear that originates with the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. For people like Global Research’s Michel Chossudovsky and Voltairenet’s Thierry Meyssan, the revolts in Libya and Syria are just the latest evidence of CIA plots drawing upon willing Islamist assets.

Meyssan is the author of two “truther” books: 9/11: The Big Lie and Pentagate, a book that argues that a missile rather than a jet hit the Pentagon. Ordinarily, I would discount Meyssan as a typical nutcase but apparently he does have some traction with self-avowed Marxists like the Diana Barahona who advised North Star readers:

For a good explanation of who the armed Syrian opposition really is, read “Who is fighting in Syria” by Thierry Meyssan, reporting from Damascus.

Brian Slocums, the author of the article On the Ground with the Syrian Opposition that Barahona was commenting on, took a look at Meyssan’s piece and found it lacking:

However lets look at the rest of the claims in this article. Conroy’s companions in the photo are described as “al Qaeda” leaders”. Abdulhakim Belhadj (who is correctly identified) was certainly nothing to do with al Qaeda when the photo was taken, but its true he did have a jihadist past 10 years ago, so that’s a half-truth (a good score for Meyssan). The guy who I think is mis-identified as al-Harati,probably had a similar past. But the real al-Harati has neither any al Qaeda connnection nor a jihadist past: he was living quietly in Dublin from his teenage years until the outbreak of the Libyan revolution in 2011. The article claims “According to former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, Mahdi al-Harati is still wanted in Spain for his involvement in the Madrid bombings “. This piece of Meyssan arithmetic is a slander within a slander: the accusation that Aznar made was directed against Belhadj , not al-Harati, and that had no foundation in fact – no named persons are “wanted in Spain” for the Madrid bombings.

It has always struck me odd that sections of the left, either Marxist like Barahona or conspiracist like Meyssan, can be so credulous when it comes to matters such as this. When their enemies are writing something that goes against their ideological grain, they will use every last ounce of intellectual energy to debunk a Judith Miller or a Christopher Hitchens. But when they are promoting their own agenda, critical faculties go down the drain.

For his part, Michel Chossudovsky blames the 9/11 attacks on a CIA/ISI cabal:

The 9-11 terrorists did not act on their own volition. The suicide hijackers were instruments in a carefully planned intelligence operation. The evidence confirms that Al Qaeda is supported by Pakistan’s military intelligence, the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI). Amply documented, the ISI owes its existence to the CIA.

So no wonder he views the Syrian revolt as more of the same:

Since the middle of March 2011, Islamist armed groups –covertly supported by Western and Israeli intelligence– have conducted terrorist attacks directed against government buildings including acts of arson. Amply documented, trained gunmen and snipers including mercenaries have targeted the police, armed forces as well as innocent civilians. There is ample evidence, as outlined in the Arab League Observer Mission report, that these armed groups of mercenaries are responsible for killing civilians.

To give credit where credit is due, Chossudovsky is at least consistent in applying the conspiracist template to Middle East politics. It is not just Libya and Syria that are victims of a CIA conspiracy. You can find it virtually everywhere, including Egypt and Tunisia:

The cooptation of the leaders of major opposition parties and civil society organizations in anticipation of the collapse of an authoritarian puppet government is part of Washington’s design, applied in different regions of the World.

The process of cooptation is implemented and financed by US based foundations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and  Freedom House (FH). Both FH and the NED have links to the US Congress. the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the US business establishment. Both the NED and FH are known to have ties to the CIA.

The NED is actively involved in Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria. Freedom House supports several civil society organizations in Egypt.

But the plot thickens. It is not just the Middle East that is the victim of such a massive conspiracy. Guess what? Remember those protests on Wall Street that offered its solidarity with revolts in the Middle East? Those too were tainted by the Masters of the Universe whose headquarters are in places like Langley and Foggy Bottom:

In the course of the last decade, “colored revolutions” have emerged in several countries. The “colored revolutions” are US intelligence ops which consist in covertly supporting protest movements with a view to triggering “regime change” under the banner of a pro-democracy movement.

“Colored revolutions” are supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House, among others. The objective of a “colored revolution” is to foment social unrest and use the protest movement to topple the existing government. The ultimate foreign policy goal is to instate a compliant pro-US government (or “puppet regime”).

“The Arab Spring”

In Egypt’s “Arab Spring”, the main civil society organizations including  Kifaya (Enough) and The April 6 Youth Movement were not only supported by US based foundations, they also had the endorsement of the US State Department. (For details see Michel Chossudovsky, The Protest Movement in Egypt: “Dictators” do not Dictate, They Obey Orders, Global Research, January 29, 2011)

Several key organizations currently involved in The Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) movement played a significant role in “The Arab Spring”. Of significance, “Anonymous”, the social media “hacktivist” group, was involved in waging cyber-attacks on Egyptian government websites at the height of “The Arab Spring”.(, see also

In May 2011, “Anonymous” waged cyberattacks on Iran and last August, it waged similar cyber-attacks directed against the Syrian Ministry Defense. These cyber-attacks were waged in support of the Syrian “opposition” in exile, which is largely integrated by Islamists. (See  Syrian Ministry Of Defense Website Hacked By ‘Anonymous’, Huffington Post, August 8, 2011).

The actions of “Anonymous” in Syria and Iran are consistent with the framework of the “Colored Revolutions”. They seek to demonize the political regime and create political instability. (For analysis on Syria’s Opposition, see Michel Chossudovsky, SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention” Global Research, May 3, 2011)

Ah, what a mind-boggling conspiracy! So deep that it is capable of turning the most powerful anti-capitalist movement in recent memory into a cats paw serving the interest of multinational corporations.

Most of the people whose articles appear on Global Research are outright cranks like Chossudovsky or Marxists with conspiracist deviations like Richard Becker, a leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Unfortunately you also see pieces by people like John Pilger and Eva Golinger who should know better.

It is difficult to determine in advance how the conspiracist current will fare in a period of deepening class confrontation. With its obvious hostility to grass roots movements in the Middle East and willingness to write off even the Occupy Wall Street movement as an imperialist plot, you are dealing with people who can’t tell the difference between right and wrong. Once upon a time such an inability could serve as an insanity defense in a murder trial. Let’s hope that things don’t reach such a state that the left has to confront sometime in the future the criminally insane among us.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian S. August 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Here’s an intereestng little quote:
“The Egyptian revolution was driven by internal dynamics, a home-grown process of which the Egyptian people draw much pride and understandably so. In contrast, the Libyan revolt that started in Benghazi has sadly fallen prey to the will if not the agenda of Western powers. Again, this is a reality not a moral judgment given the suffering of the population at the hands of a criminal regime. As for Syria, it is currently struggling to keep the uprising peaceful in face of a security regime that seems to know only the language of violence. In spite of that opposition voices are forcefully rejecting outside intervention.”
Guess who?
Its Charlie Skelton’s arch Bilderbergist and purported CIA asset , Basma Kodmani, writing from her den of iniquity, The Arab Reform initiative, in June last year.


Louis Proyect August 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Well, Brian, you know how these peoples’ minds work. They will claim that this is just a false flag operation by her to deceive the proletariat.


Arthur August 2, 2012 at 4:29 am

Its confusing to refer to these people as “left”.

Being hostile to US government, corporations and CIA does not make one a “leftist”.

Fascists and other far right have similar views.

There doesn’t seem to be anything else about the politics of these people that would count as “left”.

So lets use the term “pseudo-left” to refer to people who are taken as “left” but are not.

There is a conspiracist pseudo-left, not a conspiracist left.

Also related, the title contrasts conspiracism with marxism. But surely the conflict is between conspiracism and rationality. There are plenty of non-marxists on the left (and on the right) who are also not conspiracists.


Tony August 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm

This effort by Louis Proyect to connect 9-11 conspiracy fetishists with the mainstream Left that rejects the humanitarian imperialist mindset that Proyect epitomizes is just so limp and empty that it is hardly worth the effort to reply to it. And YES, it is A CONSPIRACY to restructure the Middle East in terms more favorable to neo-liberalism’s continual efforts to resource extract in the ‘colonies’ to their own favor. How many decades, Louis, has this CONSPIRACY been going on without you seemingly being aware of it?

Were you too busy pooh pooing the whole idea of the imperialists planning their wars for you to be distracted from your Marxist academia mindset? Might even have to try to construct an ongoing antiwar Movement instead of the cheerleading of socialism in one country or other you much more favor?

‘Marxism is based on a class analysis but the conspiracists essentially subscribe to a Great Man theory of history in which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and para-statal institutions pull the strings in a global puppet show. They think that the left’s main purpose is to pull back the curtain like Toto in The Wizard of Oz and expose the puppeteers, as if such knowledge will put a stop to capitalist intervention in the Middle East or elsewhere.’

Any nitwitted Right Winger dittohead could have come up with this parody ‘opinion’ of how real marxists look at the world and simply label it anti-American. But Louis Proyect tries to stamp it with his ‘unrepentant marxism’ trademarking label instead, labeling it unmarxist instead!. Sicko, Louis… What the hell wrong is it with you in others simply taking simple recognition of the fact that the US government and its military spend trillions of dollars trying to play the world to the business class’s favor? Some marxist you turn out to be in rejecting noticing what’s going on in the real world of government spies, militarism, intrigue and CONSPIRACIES!!!!! …known as covert operations to the lay person, non marxist specialist as you claim to us to be the embodiment of, Louis.


Josh Laurel August 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm

(The following passages were taken from the second half of the August 3, 2012 article on WSWS.ORG entitled: “The CIA proxy war in Syria and the pro-imperialist “‘left:'”)

“Washington’s covert backing for the Syrian “rebels” lays bare the role of pro-imperialist pseudo-left groups—like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the US, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Britain and the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) in France—which have promoted the war in Syria. Their “leftism” amounts to nothing more than giving “left” justifications for the crimes of American and European imperialism.

The ISO openly declares its support for intervention. In an article by Yusuf Khalil and Lee Sustar in its Socialist Worker publication, it writes: “The increasing role of the armed struggle raises the question whether to accept arms and support from the West … While many in the Syrian revolutionary movement are opposed to US and Western intervention, they will take whatever help they can get.”

Such arguments, which never analyze the forces referred to as “revolutionary,” are stunningly cynical. When did the CIA, Islamic fundamentalism and the Turkish army brass become forces for liberation? In writing this way, the ISO makes clear that it speaks for the pro-imperialist faction of the “left” petty-bourgeoisie.

Its attempts to posture as a left-wing organization descend into absurdity. The main concern it raises about US intervention in Syria is that “US support will be aimed at promoting their people and marginalizing others, even if it means fragmenting the revolutionary forces.”

What “revolutionary forces” is Sustar talking about? They are a collection of militias including the CIA’s “people,” as he calls them, various Al Qaeda operatives, and the flotsam and jetsam of Syrian society that these forces have attracted to themselves. In seeking to conceal the reactionary character of these forces under the mantle of revolution, Sustar functions simply as one of the State Department’s more left-talking operatives.

Sustar goes on to praise the ISO as “principled anti-imperialists who have managed to walk and chew gum at the same time—to support the revolutions in Libya and Syria against dictatorial regimes, while at the same time opposing intervention by the US and its imperialist allies.”

This foul comment goes to the heart of the politics of the ISO and the entire petty-bourgeois pseudo-left. For Sustar, the ISO can “walk and chew gum” because it knows how to support imperialist wars while at the same time posturing as “left.”

The class orientation of an organization always finds its clearest expression in its international policy. In Syria, the ISO and its international co-thinkers are nothing less than political agencies of imperialism.”

Alex Lantier


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Good to see comrades from the Socialist Equality Party have their anti-CIA tin foil hats on. How else could they be so prescient to spot the links between the ISO, the CIA, Al-Qaeda, the NPA in France, the SWP in Britain, the petty bourgeoisie, and American and European imperialists?


Tony August 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Compared to your own political thoughts, Pham, the WSWS are total geniuses. Let’s see now, all my posts now have to be moderated because of just why, Supreme North Star Moderator???? Explain to us marxist babies why this might be needed?

This blog spot here is beginning to remind me of the Oregon State Home for Those with very hindered IQs, where they have a ‘training’ street crossing on the grounds where a stop light endlessly goes off and on day and night with Red, Yellow, and Green flashing at alternate moments without any rhyme or reason to it. Here the reason is simply CENSORSHIP of opinions not favored too well by site owners. It is the Joe Stalin/ Jack Barnes black hole of thought in degenerative process…


Tony August 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Green light on this time…


admin August 8, 2012 at 1:00 am

Kasama has the same problem with comments. It’s a technical problem, not a political one.


admin August 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

The comment filter holds up things randomly at times.


Louis Proyect August 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Compared to your own political thoughts, Pham, the WSWS are total geniuses

Yes, their articles on Joe Hansen being a GPU agent will find a place next to “State and Revolution” and “18th Brumaire” in posterity. Of course, their “analysis” of the Arab Spring and the crap on the SWP are cut from the same conspiratorial cloth. Everything is a plot by spy networks. The masses need not apply.


Josh Laurel August 8, 2012 at 2:24 am

I visit this and the hideously (and, I’m certain, intentionally) misnamed “Unrepentant Marxist” blog mainly in order to see how the ever-more open, shameless and aggressive supporters of US imperialism Pham Binh, Louis Proyect, Clay Claiborne, etc. propagandize in favor of “the Syrian Revolution,” “the Libyan Revolution” and, somewhat earlier, the “[Green] Iranian Revolution.”

One of the things that strikes me is how obviously at odds Binh’s, Proyect’s and Claiborne’s (BPC, et. al. for short) accounts are with the reality on the ground that even certain Western media sources will occasionally cover.

For example — it was known that the so-called “Libyan Revolution” had among its leading figures mujahideen from the Al Qaeda-aligned “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group,” long-time CIA assets and also Gaddafi-regime stalwarts who, prior to having broken with said regime, had been among its most prominent proponents of sped-up neo-liberal restructuring. Furthermore, it was also well-known that these Libyan “revolutionaries” were not only coordinating their actions very closely with their NATO sponsors, but that they were also committing all manner of nasty atrocities, like ethnically cleansing blacks from Tawergha and jointly laying siege and waste to Sirte with NATO.

All of the above are facts of record, yet somehow ignored, “explained away” or “justified” by the “left” supporters of the respective “revolution.”

In Syria, we see largely the same phenomenon, though on an even larger and more terrible scale.

That the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is a sectarian, virtually exclusively Sunni Muslim formation which is ever-so-graciously hosted on Turkish territory by the right-wing Turkish government is well-known, as is the role of the the pro-Washington feudal monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in financing, arming and recruiting thousands of Sunni extremist fighters to fight alongside the FSA-ers against Assad’s government. That weapons are pouring out of the US’s Incirlik airbase in Turkey (and rather close to the Turkish border and, not coincidentally, Aleppo) directly into the hands of these Sunni extremist and FSA fighters is another fact that has appeared recently in the Western press. It has even been reported in Western press sources recently that Obama signed a Presidential “finding” early this year authorizing the provision of all manner of support to these right-wing anti-Assad groups.

None of this matters, though; Proyect et. al. keep spinning tales (or reproducing the pro-imperialist ISO’s) fantasies about the “Soviets” being developed by the anti-Assad militias; this all would be hysterically funny (hallucinations can be that way) if the consequences of this spread of that type of errant nonsense wouldn’t be so grave.

In short, Washington’s proxy war against Syria is demonstrably pushing the world closer to World War III (whatever their sins may be, the Iranian, Russian and Chinese governments, among others do not buy for a second the childrens’ bedtime story about how the anti-Assad forces are somehow fighting for “freedom and democracy” against “tyranny and dictatorship;” these governments know that what is at stake is control over the entire Middle East region, including said region’s massive oil supplies.)

Proyect, et. al. may well be receiving money from Washington; what they are saying meshes perfectly — again, with the requisite “left” verbal covering (though there’s been a little less of that recently from some of them) — with Washington’s overarching strategy of overthrowing Assad’s regime in order to replace it with an out-and-out US puppet in Syria, and then proceeding from there to smash up Assad and Iran-aligned Hezbollah in Lebanon and, ultimately, the government in Teheran. Somewhere down this road — and I fear not too far down it — plainly lies a conflagration of global proportion, with Moscow and Beijing being pitted against Washington, though this apparently doesn’t concern the advocates of “humanitarian imperialism” one bit.

Proyect, Binh and Claiborne may well not be getting cash from the US government; instead, their consistently pro-imperialist stance may instead be the result of a process — observable in the case of the ISO, the NPA in France, the SWP in the UK, etc — whereby the more privileged elements from the petty-bourgeoisie inevitably align (and often in an internal, unconscious fashion) their own outlooks on the essential questions of foreign policy, of war and peace, with the policies of their own country’s capitalist ruling class (and in their case, their own country’s imperialist bourgeoisie.)


Brian S. August 8, 2012 at 5:42 am

@Josh Laurel Almost all of the claims in this post are fantasies. The author has clearly been od-ing on Pepe Escobar. Its not even worth the effort to refute this nonsense. Would that weapons were poring from a US airbase into FSA hands: maybe they then wouldn’t be unable to respond to Assad’s armour and airpower, and be short of ammunition.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 8, 2012 at 10:15 am

WSWS’s methods mirror those of the Stalinists. “Trotsky may be getting money from Japanese imperialism…”


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Syria’s revolutionaries are not pro-U.S. by any stretch of the imagination:

This is the reality on the ground that you cannot see because your tin foil WSWS hat sits low on your head and covers your eyes.


Josh Laurel July 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm



Louis Proyect August 8, 2012 at 10:44 am

Proyect, et. al. may well be receiving money from Washington;

I see that “Josh Laurel” links to the World Socialist Website so this accusation (or insinuation) makes perfect sense. While I doubt that he is a member of this sect and probably knows little about its history, the group was infamous for making unsubstantiated charges.

You can find one on their website at, which deals with the Soviet spies who were involved with Trotsky’s assassination. They name Joseph Hansen, who was Trotsky’s bodyguard and an SWP leader–an absurd charge.

Going even further, they worked with a character named Alan Gelfand to use the bourgeois courts to destroy the SWP, as Freedom Socialist newspaper reports:
The Workers League also financed a decade-long court battle in which former SWP member Alan Gelfand asked a judge to “fire” one whole committee of national SWP leaders, claiming they were FBI or Kremlin agents. This nasty attempt by the League to use the courts to destroy a radical organization was dismissed as groundless in 1989. But the League/SEP’s numerous disruption campaigns have been costly, distracting and painful for groups on the Left. The SEP has never repudiated its past tactics against the SWP, and continues to insist that the SWP is essentially an FBI/CIA front group.

The Socialist Equality Party’s leaders used to belong to a group called the Worker’s League that was founded by Tim Wolforth in the 1960s. The founder of the international movement, one Gerry Healy, decided that Tim Wolforth’s wife Nancy Fields was a CIA agent, once again without any evidence. The British journal “What Next” reports on the incident:

“Healy attended the WL’s summer camp in August 1974 in order to deal personally with the matter, having first sent Cliff Slaughter on ahead to check that the great leader’s life would not be under threat! The purging of Wohlforth, who was essentially set up as a scapegoat for the results of Healy’s own policies, was carried out at a WL central committee meeting in the middle of the night. Healy started the discussion, charging Wohlforth with gross irresponsibility for not reporting Nancy Field’s ‘CIA connection’. One by one, the participants rose to denounce Wohlforth and Fields. ‘The comrades’, Wohlforth writes, ‘had been up since six am or earlier, were clearly bleary eyed, dazed and caught up in the isolated world of the camp with its tensions, guards and continuous discussion of the outside world in terms ever more stark and unreal. An atmosphere of complete hysteria dominated the meeting…. Healy, with his face getting ever redder and in an extreme emotional state, stood in the centre of the circle, facing me. Finally it was just too much for me. I stood up. “I … I disagree with the entire proceedings”, I stammered. Healy rushed up to me and shook his fists within an inch of my face shouting “I will destroy you”.’ ”

Finally, the charge that I am taking money from the CIA is of course ridiculous. However, the founder of the movement that the SEP emerges from was not above taking money from dictatorships in exchange for political support. Once again from “What Next”:
The IC by this time was in poor shape. In large part this was due to the destructive effects of the policies which its constituent organisations had adopted under the instructions of Healy and the WRP leadership. The Revolutionary Communist League of Sri Lanka was forced to renounce its initial support for an independent Tamil state, thus isolating itself from the Tamil national struggle. In Peru, the Communist League pursued the bogus ‘Security and the Fourth International’ campaign by attacking Hugo Blanco, the popular leader of the country’s USec section, as a supporter of CIA agents (i.e. the SWP leadership), which completely discredited the CL among militant workers. And the IC sections in Germany and Australia were required to imitate the WRP’s ultra-leftism towards the Labour Party, calling for their respective reformist governments to be brought down. The WRP leadership made no effort to analyse the specific situation in any of the countries where the IC was organising. Instead, the fantasy of a world-wide ‘revolutionary situation’ of uniform development was adopted. In any case, Healy had effectively lost interest in the small groups of the IC, except as a source of finance for the WRP. He now had more important international relations to cultivate.

Whether Healy succeeded in raising much cash from these relations is doubtful, however. The 1985 report on Healy’s financial shenanigans, compiled by David North and other representatives of the IC, indicated the receipt of over £1 million from Libya. But Dave Bruce, who oversaw much of the WRP’s commercial printing, argues that ‘of the thousands of pounds that came from the Libyans to the WRP’s printing company, most of it was for the printing of two newspapers. That was about £10,000 a month, £120,000 a year, which sounds an enormous amount of money. But of the £120,000 over half covered the cost of raw materials’. Further income came from a contract to print 250,000 copies of Gaddafi’s Green Book. In all these cases the contracts were won in competition with other printing companies, by quoting a low price, which was itself made possible by party members working extremely long hours for very low wages.


Leave a Comment

{ 31 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: