Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Which Side is the ISO on?; Iraqi Left Asks

I found this very interesting article by Mahmood Ketabchi, an Iraqi leftist active in the Workers Communist Party of Iraq. It presents a perspective that deserves the attention of the Western left.

Ketabchi criticizes the stance of the International Socialist Organization. The ISO (in the US) and especially its British cousin, the Socialist Workers Party (which shouldn't be confused with the American SWP) , have played leading roles in the anti-Iraq war effort. In the process the SWP has built an alliance with the UK wing of the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood.

The WCPI is playing an active role in the Union of Unemployed in Iraq (UUI) and the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq, and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. (It should not be confused with the Iraqi Communist Party which has evolved into a sort of social democratic party and which has participated in the provisional government.)

As usual, under the rubric of “supporting the opposition to the U.S. Occupation of Iraq,” the ISO continues to deny class and class struggle in Iraq, and lends its rabid support to Iraqi nationalist and Islamist forces. In the entire article of 2,260 words, there is not even one word about Iraqi working class struggle for freedom and equality or the tremendous efforts by Iraqi workers who are fighting under incredibly harsh and brutal conditions to organize their ranks against the US occupation and capitalist exploitation of Iraqi workers. You will not find one word about the women’s liberation movement that opposes the US government, violence against women, misogynism, and all brutal laws and regulations that turn women into subhumans. There is nothing about the squatters’ movement for decent housing and a better life. There is no word of communism, socialism, unionism, workers’ councils, neighborhood committees, workers rights, women’s freedom, equality, secularism, etc.

In the U.S. and the West, it is only cultural relativists and bigots like Bush and his cronies, who divide Iraqi society along lines of ethnicity, religion, and tribalism, that can deny the class reality of Iraqi society. In Iraq, it is the Iraqi bourgeoisie that appears as the nationalist movement, Islamist forces, tribal heads, and agents of the CIA and the Pentagon that deny and reject workers and their struggle.

And this

Why has the ISO turned itself into an apologist and rabid defender of “the resistance movement” which is carried out buy reactionary nationalists and brutal Islamist forces? Why are they ignoring Iraqi workers and their struggle, the women’s liberation movement, etc? Iraqi workers, through their unions and councils, have repeatedly opposed the US occupation of Iraq and demanded an immediate withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. Is this opposition of any importance to the ISO? Have mass protests of workers, continuous strike actions, shop floor activities, unionism and general assembly movement any value for the ISO? Aren’t these struggles targeted against the US government, Halliburton, Bechtel, etc? Is it of any importance to the ISO that Iraqi unemployed workers across Iraq became a thorn in the side of the U.S. occupation authority? Which side is the ISO on, Iraqi workers or the Iraqi bourgeoisie? It is quite a shame for an organization that calls itself “International Socialist” to ignore workers and their daily endeavors for a better life and to become a mouthpiece and spokesperson for Islamists and Nationalists.


Eric Ruder [of the ISO] goes on to tell us that a victory by the Iraqi resistance over the US is a victory for “our side”:

“If the Iraqi resistance drives the U.S. out of Iraq, it would be a major setback for Bush’s agenda and the agenda of U.S. imperialism. This would be a tremendous victory for our side--making it much more difficult for the U.S. to choose a new target in the Middle East or elsewhere in trying to impose its will.”

Suppose the the ISO’s wish comes true and the much beloved and eulogized “Iraqi resistance” defeats the U.S. government. What happens to Iraq thereafter is not an issue for the ISO. A victorious Iraqi bourgeoisie will viciously turn Iraq into an unbearable hell for the Iraqi masses. How would ISO respond to that? What will they tell Iraqi workers? Would they say, “We supported the criminal Islamists and nationalists to come to power?”


The “side” the ISO is talking about is for sure not the workers’ side, the side of socialists and communists. An American defeat at the hands of reactionary nationalist and Islamist forces in Iraq, considering the balance of social and class forces in the U.S., may even lead to the rise of a brutal and more right wing bourgeoisie force in the U.S. The U.S. defeat, as ISO claims, will not necessarily benefit workers and socialist movement in the U.S.

Two other artilces by Ketabchi Debunking Left Nationalism and Bourgeoisie criticism of Imperialism” and “ISO: National Isolationism or International Solidarity” can be found at http://www.wpiraq.org/english/index.htm

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