WV-The Bolshevik Tendency and the Pathology of Renegades
[from Workers Vanguard, No. 766, 12 October 2001]
The Bolshevik Tendency and the Pathology of Renegades
On the Pentagon Attack
The International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) responded to the attack on the World Trade Center with a supplement to its journal 1917, titled, “U.S. Imperialist Rule: An Endless Horror.” Notably, if not the least surprisingly, the IBT says not a word in opposition to the red-white-and blue social-patriotism of the liberals and reformists whose “antiwar” coalitions are defined by bleating appeals to the imperialist rulers that “war is not the answer.” On the contrary, they reserve what polemical fire they have to attack the Spartacist League/U.S. as “social-patriotic,” citing our refusal to hail the attack on Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 as “defensible blows against imperialism.” In verbal exchanges, particularly with our younger members at recent protests, the IBT has demanded to know “our position” on the attack on the Pentagon which took place coincident with the destruction of the World Trade Center. Youth comrades in our Canadian section,, the Trotskyist League/Ligue Trotskyste, report this went so far as having IBT members pressing them to agree that all those killed in the attack on the Pentagon “deserved to die.”
Such vicarious bloodthirstiness is nothing new for this outfit, which was founded by people who quit our organization in the early 1980s when they caught the first whiff of the heightened reaction and repression of the imperialist’s anti-Soviet Cold War II. It is a posture that has always been in direct proportion to their own adaptation to the labor tops, social democrats and liberals. Today, the IBT amnesties the “war is not the answer” reformists in the U.S. In Britain they are firmly in the tow of the Labourite “left” of Socialist Alliance, which ran point in the recent elections for Blair’s Labour Party—the most stalwart ally of U.S. imperialism in its “war on terrorism.”
Evidently they seek to cover their tracks in fervid efforts to demonstrate that we have “flinched” on the question of the attack on the Pentagon.
Unlike the World Trade Center, which was simply a complex of buildings housing various businesses employing tens of thousands of working people, the Pentagon is the command and administrative center of the U.S. imperialist military, and rather quintessentially represents the military might of U.S. imperialism, the main enemy Of the working people and oppressed of the world. That recognition does not translate this attack into an “anti-imperialist” act, nor do we think the planeload of innocent passengers which was used as the massive bomb “deserved to die (or the janitors and secretaries who were employed at the Pentagon).
As Marxists we oppose terrorism as a strategy, even that which derives from real, if misguided, anti-imperialist impulses. It is counterposed to mobilizing the proletariat in class struggle against the imperialist rulers. The fact that innocent civilians are often killed in terror attacks, and that the end result only serves to bring down the jackboot Of the capitalist state on the necks of the working class and oppressed, underline the futility, and stupidity, of terrorism as a strategy for the liberation of the masses. Moreover such acts merely serve to provide the bourgeoisie a bloody shirt to wave in order to cement the workers to capitalist class rule.
The Pentagon is a genuine military target, representing the brutal attacks of U.S. imperialism on the world’s working class and oppressed. The planeload of random innocent civilians that was hijacked and used as a bomb was not. In any case, the attack on the Pentagon was a sideshow to the attack on the World Trade Center. As the Spartacist League/ U.S. Political Bureau wrote in its 12 September statement, “The World Trade Center Attack”:
“It is not simply that the target wasn’t even an institution representing the brutal and murderous U.S. imperialist rulers. Those who perpetrated this horrific attack (and there is still no evidence at all as to who that was) embrace the same mentality as the racist rulers of America—identifying the working masses with their capitalist exploiters and oppressors!”
Correspondingly, the U.S. rulers have seized on the destruction of the World Trade Center to try to rally the working class around “united we stand” patriotism. The attack on the Pentagon could hardly serve such a purpose, as is demonstrated in the fact that it barely gets a mention by the capitalist rulers or their media mouthpieces.
When over 240 U.S. Marines were blown to pieces in the bombing of a compound in Lebanon in October 1983, it provoked widespread outrage within the American population against the Reagan administration which had sent these troops to Lebanon. Seeking to intersect and direct this outrage into conscious opposition to the U.S. imperialist rulers for whom the lives of working-class troops are considered expendable, we raised the slogan; “Marines Out of Lebanon, Now, Alive!” The IBT’s predecessors in the “External Tendency” denounced us as “social patriotic” and solidarized with whatever forces blew up the Marines as “anti-imperialist.” But at the time, no side in the squalid inter-communal conflict in Lebanon was fighting imperialism! And to this day it is by no means clear who undertook this attack.
As we wrote at the time in our article “Marxism and Bloodthirstiness” (WV No. 345, 6 January 1984):
“We are for the victory of just causes. Necessarily and above all, the centrality of just causes is the shattering of the exploiting and oppressing classes and the victory of socialism. We are socialists not least because we are passionately opposed to war, the gathering together of large numbers of young workingmen to be slaughtered in the interests of the rulers. In this savagely class-divided world, dominated by the mass murderers of My Lai, the struggle for the victory of just causes will have a big physical component. We must stand therefore for the maximum assembling of effective force on the just side, hopefully to demoralize and deter the forces of reaction so that the actual casualties are minimized.”
Our purpose is to bring revolutionary consciousness to the working class—the understanding that the “main enemy” is their “own” capitalist class rulers—in order to build the revolutionary workers party that can realize Lenin’s profoundly humanist view of the “socialist system of society, which, by abolishing the division of mankind into classes, by abolishing all exploitation of man by man, and of one nation by other nations, will inevitably abolish all possibility of war.” In contrast, the IBT’s vicarious bloodthirstiness and conspicuous silence on the social patriotism of the reformist left merely serve the interests of the class enemy, insofar as their insignificant forces are capable of serving any cause.