Sunday, June 04, 2006

Manifesto of the Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism

Not the sexiest title in the world, but if you've got a political history like mine, then you just can't resist looking at any document that has the words "third camp" and "manifesto" in the title. This document, which can be viewed in full here, was penned by Maryam Namazie and her comrades from the Worker-Communist Party of Iran. It purports to be a document that confronts "both poles of terrorism", and to present a political basis for a "third camp" to represent the interests of people in Iran (and presumably elsewhere) against both US imperialism and Islamist theocracy. The bullet points from the document are as follows:

1 - No to war, No to economic sanctions

2 - No to US militarism, No to political Islam

3 - Nuclear disarmament of all states

4 - Attacks on civil liberties in the West in the name of ‘war on terror’ must stop

5 - We actively support the struggle of the people of Iran against a military attack and against the Islamic Republic of Iran

6 - The Islamic Republic must be expelled from the international community

Who could possibly possibly object to such a list of demands? Well, I could for one.

Before I say what I'm about to say, I want to make clear that leftists in and from Iran have my unqualified admiration for their bravery and their will to stand up to a regime more horrific than any I have ever experienced, and the horrors of which I hope I will never have to experience in the future. Those on the UK left who sneer at these people and dismiss them in favour of "anti-imperialist" solidarity with the Tehran regime are jokers at best, and in most cases worse than that.

But that doesn't change the fact that this manifesto is political tripe.

Before we even get to deeper questions of class politics, there are glaring issues of terminology and even basic logic, that simply don't add up. I'd like to know how demands like number 6, "The Islamic Republic to be expelled from the international community" are "third camp" in any way at all? That sounds like something that a US Republican would sign up to, not to mention that if this manifesto were implemented then it's unrealisable in any case. Demand 1 rules out sanctions and war as measures of enforcement. What's left after those two cards go back in the deck? Withdrawal of ambassadors? Like anyone in Tehran is gonna care. Sponsorship of opposition groups? Maybe, but unless Maryam's comrades have a lot more people in the ground than I think they do, we're not gonna be looking at them forming the new government. Opposition groups with far more serious forces on the ground are people like the Kurdish, Azeri and other ethnic nationalist groups (who have their own interests to pursue), or else the Rajavists of Mojahedin-E-Khalq, whose rule I remain to be convinced would be any more benevolent in terms of human rights, than that of the current regime. So it just doesn't work, even before we've discussed the actual merits of "expelling" a nation from the international community, and what exactly that would mean for people living in Iran.

Now, on to a more basic question. This document was written by "communists", albeit that they're followers of a particular and rather idiosyncratic communist tradition. So where's the class content? If anyone can point out even one of the above demands that Kenneth Clarke Conservatives, half of the US Democratic Party (and a not inconsiderable minority of Republicans), or indeed any number of bourgeois liberal figures could not sign up to, then I'd like to know about it.

The whole point of a "third camp", is that it represents the interests of the working class independently of other poles of poltical power. Maryam and her comrades do not appear to know this. It is to be hoped that self-proclaimed third campists like the Alliance for Workers' Liberty overcome their tendency to defer to the Worker-Communist Parties on issues about Islamic politics, and offer strong criticism of this document. Because at the end of the day, friends should be honest with each other.


Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I wrote a letter to Maryam, telling her I signed the manifesto, but disagree with point six. I hope she'll respond my blog.

I want to link to your blog, I like the general direction, and intelligent discussion.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous boogski said...

What a total fucking diaper load. Look at #2 for Christ's sake. It's US "militarism" that is trying to rid the Earth of these Islamist maggots once and for all. Godspeed, I say.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Janine said...

And do you think that US militarism is making good progress with that task? Or, rather, that it is a pretty good recruiting agent for the Islamist movements?

1:53 PM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

Renegade, please feel free to link to my blog. I'll be more than happy to return the favour. :)

2:53 PM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

voltaires_priest said...
Boogski, although I don't agree with Maryam on the manifesto (as you can see), it's because I don't think she allows for enough independent working-class politics, rather than because there's too much independence from the USA, which seems to be the issue you have with her.

Look, ultimately we don't live in a renewed colonial era - the neocon policy of spreading freedom by force does not work, as graphically shown in Iraq. Whatever my disagreements with Maryam, I don't want to see that pain spread to Iran, and (for the sake of the US troops if nothing else) neither should you.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous boogski said...

Janine: "And do you think that US militarism is making good progress with that task? Or, rather, that it is a pretty good recruiting agent for the Islamist movements?"

I see. Let sleeping dogs alone. Is that the logic? We know what that gets us, don't we? These Islamist assholes are what drove me to the right in the first place. Now their starting shit in Canada, of all places. Sorry for going O/T, Volty.

6:24 PM  

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