More on Fascism in Ukraine & the ISO

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Ukraine’s neo-Nazi opposition marching with a banner of Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator of Ukraine during World War II and vicious anti-Semite.

Just hours after Return to the Source published Beer Hall Putsch Leftism: Ukraine & the ISO, America’s least favorite Trotskyite organization double-dipped and released another article about the Euromaiden protests in Ukraine that recently drove President Viktor Yanukovich from power. This time, International Socialist Organization (ISO) member Sean Larson was joined by Trotskyite relic Alan Maass in an equally backwards piece, A political earthquake in Ukraine.

I don’t want to rehash the critique because all of the points made in yesterday’s essay still stand. I also want to be clear that Larson and Maass’ article was not a response to the essay on Return to the Source, given they were probably written concurrently. Instead, I want to add a few points more to the original critique based on some of the differences I noticed between the ISO’s original piece and the new one. Read the rest of this entry

Beer Hall Putsch Leftism: Ukraine & the ISO

First, an admission: After three years of writing Return to the Source sporadically, I’m getting tired of roasting the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and tearing apart their positions. The criticisms of their social chauvinist lines on Libya, Syria, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other countries targeted by imperialism seem to be popular with readers, evidenced by the hundreds of hits this blog still gets despite a long period of inactivity.

At the same time, all signs point towards the ISO discrediting itself and losing ground with leftists around the country. For instance, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone, except the most die-hard cruise missile ISO member, reads Gilbert Achcar’s recent article, What remains of the Arab Spring? and thinks anything besides, “This is a sad, irrelevant man who can’t recognize reality.” The ISO’s bizarre brand of social imperialism is still dangerous, but it’s discredited itself, most notably with regards to Syria.

I preface with that admission before rounding up all of the evidence necessary to totally dismantle the ISO’s closet support for fascism in Ukraine because I don’t want readers to think I’ll be doing this a lot more. At times, though, the US Trotskyites take a position so egregious that it begs for engagement, if for no other reason than to provide a resource to those actual Marxists around the world committed to battling social imperialists in the people’s movement. Read the rest of this entry

Syria & “Ugly American” Chauvinism

After an extended break and a false start at resuming our activities, Return to the Source is back at it. We appreciate the readers and comrades who have stayed with us through this long period of inactivity and hope to provide some insightful pieces in the next few weeks. The project we’re most excited about presenting in the next two weeks is an extended essay on Cambodia that comes at the end of a collective study on the history of Kampuchea by several comrades. We’re hoping to ignite some discussions on several topics that Marxist-Leninists in the US don’t discuss often – the Khmer Rouge, Democratic Kampuchea, Cambodia’s war with Vietnam, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, and the overthrow of socialism in this often-overlooked southeast Asian country – and offer conclusions from our study. Without further ado, though, we begin with Syria.

A little over a month ago, the US war machine kicked into high gear and came as close as ever to striking Syria in the almost three years of unrest. Although the US, Western Europe, Saudi Arabia and Israel have intervened on behalf of the so-called rebels since the conflict began – with the latter actually striking Syrian military facilities twice in 2013 – President Barack Obama’s appeal to Congress for war authorization represented a new stage in the conflict. Repeating lies and nonsense about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons, the US sought to build a case for war that eerily paralleled the build-up to the war in Iraq, which began a decade ago in March.

Several factors torpedoed this proposal. Russia, Iran and China firmly came out against military intervention by the Western powers in Syria, with Russia and Iran threatening material consequences for a strike. Moreover, a dramatic change in strategy by the Assad government in the last year – fighting the conflict as a civil war rather than relying solely on counter-insurgency measures – broke the nearly two year stalemate and gave momentum back to the Syrian Arab Army. In other words, Assad is winning the conflict. Though this was part of the reason for the West’s increased threats of military force, it was dialectically a factor in their calculus to avoid intervention.

However, another factor sunk the President’s proposal for military force: that of popular protests by people in the US. From California to New York, Chicago to Florida, and everywhere in-between, anti-war activists took to the streets and organized demonstrations pressuring Congress to not authorize a strike on Syria. As the votes tallied higher against military action – not incidentally coming largely from the Republican right-wing of Congress – and as public opinion reached a low-point with a stunning 91% of Americans voicing opposition to the proposal, it was quietly withdrawn by the Administration.

Though the protests against the war on Syria were far smaller than those protesting the build-up to the war in Iraq a decade ago, they were significantly larger and more targeted than the movement against President Obama’s strike on Libya. In part, this owed to the courageous activism and organizing of countless Syrian-American organizations, not least of which was the Syrian-American Forum. This strong strategic alliance between the anti-war movement and the bulk of the Syrian-American community played a significant role in stopping the Administration’s threats of war.

Despite overwhelming unity within the active anti-war movement against intervention and against the US and Saudi-backed rebels, several so-called “leftist” organizations remained obstinate and continued calling for the downfall of President Assad’s government, even during the height of the US’ pro-war propaganda campaign. These organizations preferred to continue supporting an imaginary “Syrian revolution” free from Western, Saudi, Israeli, or al-Qaeda influence against the “tyranny” of the Assad government instead of taking a stand in principled solidarity. While they played no significant role in the anti-war movement during this latest victory, it didn’t stop national chauvinist leftists like those in the International Socialist Organization (ISO) from slandering the activists who resisted war. Read the rest of this entry

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