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Syria & “Ugly American” Chauvinism

After an extended break and a false start at resuming our activities,┬áReturn to the Source┬áis 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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Rest in Power, Comandante Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the greatest revolutionary leader of our time.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the greatest revolutionary leader of our time.

On Tuesday, March 5, the people of Venezuela and workers all over the world lost the greatest revolutionary leader of our time, President Hugo Chavez. Chavez’s death was sudden, but it came after nearly two years of battling cancer that included four very invasive surgeries in Cuba. Chavez won re-election as President of Venezuela handily in 2012, defeating right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles at the polls.

Since he was elected President in 1999, Chavez dedicated himself to building socialism and an anti-imperialist mass resistance in Latin America and across the world. Chavez’s legacy was unabashedly revolutionary and pro-worker, cutting unemployment and poverty in half over the course of his 14 years in office. Working with other progressive and anti-imperialist countries around the world – from Bolivia to Cuba, from Syria to China – Chavez oversaw the creation of a new alliance of nations to curb the influence and expansion of the imperialist empire. The revolutionary accomplishments of Chavez’s government are impossible to list outright, although Venezuela Analysis has done an incredible job compiling articles about the Bolivarian revolution.

Return to the Source wants to publicly extend our condolences to the people of Venezuela on the death of Comandante Hugo Chavez. We also want to extend our best wishes and solidarity to Vice President Nicholas Maduro, a bus driver, trade unionist, and revolutionary socialist who will run for President as Chavez’s successor.

However, we want to take this time to emphasize the very real danger that the Bolivarian Revolution faces from the imperialist countries in the North, as well as corrosive elements on the Left that seek to divide the people. The following article was written by Professor Toad for The prison gates are open about the disgraceful left-opportunism by Trotskyite forces on the Venezuelan Left. It’s an important comment on the internal politics of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and revolutionaries should read it to better understand the need for solidarity with Vice President Maduro and the leadership of the PSUV against divisive, factionalist politics. Read the rest of this entry

Changing Attitudes Towards Socialism: A New Years Editorial from Return to the Source

Although the concept of generations is often abused by idealist historians in lieu of a materialist analysis of great changes in society, there is an element of truth in the idea that a common set of world experiences influence the beliefs and actions of young people. In the Western world, the ruling class goes to great lengths to ‘disprove’ socialism – and more specifically Marxism-Leninism – with all manner of distortions, lies, and falsehoods. With a near monopoly on news media and academia, they have successfully waged an ideological battle against socialism to accompany physical state repression of revolutionaries in the United States and Western Europe.

However, their efforts are not always successful, and at many times in history, young people from the working class and the universities have seen through the propaganda and recognize the achievements of the world socialist revolutions. They use these revolutions and experiences as inspiration for their own struggle against the imperialist ruling class in their own country, and they draw strength through international solidarity with oppressed people in other countries who win their freedom through revolution. Read the rest of this entry

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