The severe fighting taking place in Iraq is presented to us as some inexplicable phenomenon, produced by “dark forces” resisting the march of “progress and democracy”. In reality what we are facing is a mass resistance movement aimed at expelling a foreign army of occupation. This movement is fuelled by the terrible conditions Iraqi workers are facing, conditions created by the domination of imperialism.
Every informed person knows that Bush and Blair lied about the reasons for the war against the people of Iraq. They were not motivated by the threat of Saddam Hussein, lack of democracy, nor for his alleged connections to al-Qaeda, neither by the alleged WMDs. These were all lies, served up to convince the public in Britain, the USA and beyond, that the war was a “just war”. The real reasons for the war were a mix of greed for oil, military strategy, the need to push to one side European competition and a desperate attempt to preserve the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
Now we are being fed new lies regarding the new US-appointed Allawi interim government which “took office” on June 28, 2004. According to Bush and Blair, “It is a government whose role is to restore stability and end the occupation”. At the end of June they declared that, “We are handing over sovereignty to Iraqis."
In spite of the claims of both the UN and Bush that the US is preparing to leave Iraq, and sovereignty is on the horizon, the number of imperialist troops in the country is actually increasing and the war between the masses fighting for national liberation and the imperialist occupiers is becoming more intense with every passing day.
While the imperialist propaganda claims that their role is to install democracy and that Iraq is almost a sovereign state, the suppression of all forms of genuine democracy is a daily occurrence. According to an Al Jazeera report (August 15), a spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMS), Muhammad Ayash al-Kubaisi, cited the recent arrest of the editor-in-chief of the association's newspaper al-Basaer (Insight) as an example of "absent" sovereignty.
"How can a group of foreign soldiers stop an Iraqi citizen like Dr Muthana al-Dhari and arrest him if there is a sovereign government? What are those soldiers doing in the heart of Baghdad? Why did the Iraqi police not arrest him instead?" al-Kubaisi said.
The status of Iraqi detainees, who are held without charge by the US army in Iraq, has not changed since the handover of power to the new government. The US army continues to be in charge of the notorious prisons, and the same US army is in control of the Iraqi police.
The newly appointed president of Iraq, Ghazi al-Yawir, announced last month that there would be a pardon for those Iraqis who carried guns before the formation of Iyad Allawi’s government, but the US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, quickly intervened to make it clear that those who killed Americans would not be pardoned, thus showing who is the real boss. That explains why on August 7 the interim government did what it was told to do. Those Iraqis who have committed minor crimes were pardon, but not those who have fought against US soldiers and Iraqi police.
In spite of the black out of information about the Iraqi labour movement, and the lies about sovereignty, there has actually been an explosion of workers’ struggles in this - supposedly - wonderful new Iraq. Low wages, terrible working conditions, very high levels of unemployment, widespread robbery, the lack of water and electricity, the suppression of elementary rights are all behind the rise of the class struggle in Iraq.
The horrific conditions the masses are suffering are not only due to the destruction of the infrastructure of Iraq caused by the bombing by the imperialists. These are being exacerbated by privatisation, tax cuts for the rich and economic policies aimed at keeping wages at starvation levels while allowing the bosses to make huge profits.
Last September Bremer issued an order, which allows 100% foreign ownership of businesses, except for the oil industry that is still nationalized. The same order allows the companies to repatriate 100% of their profits. At the same time, Bremer issued another order cutting Iraq’s highest income tax bracket from 45% to 15% of earnings.
While the workers are living on slave wages the foreign companies - most of them owned by Bush and his friends - are making very high profits not only through the super exploitation of the workers in Iraq, but also through another simple method known to most people as “grant theft”.
According to Ariana Eunjung Cha (Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, August 4, 2004, Page A01), “Halliburton Co. and other U.S. contractors are being paid at least $1.9 billion from Iraqi funds under an arrangement set by the U.S.-led occupation authority, according to a review of documents and interviews with government agencies, companies and auditors.
“Most of the money is for two controversial deals that originally had been financed with money approved by the U.S. Congress, but later shifted to Iraqi funds that were governed by fewer restrictions and less rigorous oversight.
“Analysis of those and other records shows that 19 of 37 major contracts funded by Iraqi money went to U.S. companies and at least 85 percent of the total $2.26 billion was obligated to U.S. companies…”
The name of KBR (Kellogg Brown & Root Inc.), a subsidiary of Halliburton, is surfacing again and again in these reports. It was paid $1.66 billion from Iraqi money, primarily to cover the cost of importing fuel from Kuwait. In all - according to an analysis for The Washington Post by Andre Verloy, a researcher for the Center for Public Integrity - KBR was paid $2.53 billion, $1.64 billion of which came from the Iraqi funds.
Halliburton: a long history of profit from war
It is of interest to know something more about this company. Halliburton has become a symbol for the close connection between the White House and Texan big business. The Guardian (Thursday, July 22, 2004) reviewed a new book: The Halliburton Agenda by Dan Briody, published by John Wiley and Sons Ltd., that tells the story of this company. The following is a short summary.
On January 12, 1991, Congress authorized President George HW Bush to engage Iraq in war. Just five days later, Operation Desert Storm commenced in Kuwait. The war was over by the end of February - but the clean up would last longer, and was far more expensive than the military action itself. The Iraqi troops set fire to more than 700 Kuwaiti oil wells. Halliburton angled its way into the clean-up and rebuilding effort that was expected to cost around $200bn (£163bn) over the next 10 years.
The company sent 60 men to help with the firefighting effort. Meanwhile, its engineering and construction subsidiary KBR won an additional $3m contract to assess the damage that the invasion had done to Kuwait's infrastructure - a contract whose value had multiplied seven times by the end of KBR's involvement. More significantly still, KBR won a contract to extract troops from Saudi Arabia after their services were no longer needed in the Gulf.
American military outsourcing was not new. Private firms had been making huge profits in wars even before KBR won its first naval shipbuilding contract. But the nature of military outsourcing has changed dramatically in the last decade. The trend towards a "downsized" military began because of the "peace dividend" at the end of the cold war, and continued throughout the 1990s. This combination of a reduced military but continued conflict gave rise to an unprecedented new industry of private military firms. These firms would provide the military with everything from weapons procurement and maintenance to training of troops and logistics.
In the decade after the first Gulf war, the number of private contractors used in and around the battlefield increased tenfold. It has been estimated that there is now one private contractor for every 10 soldiers in Iraq. Companies such as Halliburton, which became the fifth largest defence contractor in the nation during the 1990s, have played a critical role in this trend.
The story behind America's "super contract" begins in 1992, when the department of defence, then headed by Dick Cheney, was impressed with the work Halliburton did during its time in Kuwait. In preparation of further imperialist aggressions, the Pentagon asked private contractors to bid on a $3.9m contract to write a report on how a private firm could provide logistical support to the army in the case of further military action. Thirty-seven companies tendered for the contract. KBR won it. The company was paid another $5m later that year to extend the plan to other locations and add detail.
As the agreement was signed, the US army was deployed to Somalia in December 1992 as part of Operation Restore Hope. KBR employees were there before the army even arrived, and they were the last to leave. The firm made $109.7m in Somalia. In August 1994, they earned $6.3m from Operation Support Hope in Rwanda. In September of that same year, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti netted the company $150m. And in October 1994, Operation Vigilant Warrior made them another $5m.
Cheney has been part of Donald Rumsfeld's rise to power. In the 1970s, Rumsfeld became Gerald Ford's White House chief-of-staff, with Cheney as his deputy. In those days, Cheney was assigned a codename by the secret service that perfectly summed up his disposition: "Backseat".
Halliburton understood Cheney's value. With him as CEO, the company gained considerable leverage in Washington. Until Cheney's appointment in the autumn of 1995, Halliburton's business results had been decent. After a loss of $91m in 1993, the company had returned to profitability in 1994 with an operating profit of $236m. With the new revenues Halliburton and its main subsidiary, KBR, were doing great business.
In December 1995, just two months after Cheney assumed the post of CEO, when the US sent thousands of troops to the Balkans as a peace-keeping force. As part of Operation Joint Endeavour, KBR was dispatched to Bosnia and Kosovo to support the army in its operations in the region.
KBR's profits under Cheney, jumped from $144m in 1994 to more than $423m in 1996, and the Balkans was the driving force. By 1999, the army was spending just under $1bn a year on KBR's work in the Balkans. A report in September 2000 indicated to serious cost-control problems in Bosnia, but KBR retains the contract to this day.
Cheney developed Halliburton's business in other parts of the world. In particular, Cheney objected to sanctions against Libya and Iran, two countries with which Halliburton was already doing business The company did business in Iraq as well. Cheney was in charge of Halliburton when it was circumventing strict UN sanctions, helping to rebuild Iraq and enriching Saddam Hussein.
After 9/11, KBR went to work on the “war on terrorism”, building the 1,000 detention cells at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for “terrorist suspects”, at a cost of $52m. The work must have been familiar to KBR: it had done the exact same job 35 years earlier in Vietnam. When troops were deployed to Afghanistan, so was KBR. It built US bases in Bagram and Kandahar for $157m.
Halliburton won the contract for restoring the Iraqi oil infrastructure – a no bid contract. In September 2003, Cheney, trying to distance himself from all this, insisted: "Since I've left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice-president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't now for over three years."
However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a non-partisan agency that investigates political issues at the request of elected officials, says otherwise. Cheney has been receiving a deferred salary from Halliburton in the years since he left the company. In 2001, he received $205,298. In 2002, he drew $162,392. He is scheduled to receive similar payments through 2005, and has an insurance policy in place to protect the payments in the event that Halliburton should fold. In addition, Cheney still holds 433,333 unexercised stock options in Halliburton.
He has, of course, agreed to donate any profits “to charity”. No doubt he has made enough money over all these years to be able to pay a small amount in an attempt to cover up what he has been really doing.
It is this enormous exploitation of Iraqi labour which is stimulating a revival of the Iraqi labour movement.
The struggle for Trade Union rights in Iraq
David Bacon, (Foreign Policy in Focus/AlterNet.org July 29, 2004) who visited labour movement activists in Iraq recently wrote a report, which we summarize in the following lines:
Once the U.S. occupation of Iraq was under way over a year ago, Iraqi workers immediately started reorganizing themselves. Labour movement activity, which had started in Baghdad, also spread to the Kurdish north, with the focal point, however, being in the south, in the oil and electrical installations around Basra, and the port of Um Qasr.
Workers quickly discovered that the occupation authorities had a different view to what democratic rights involve, especially labour rights. Once the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had taken over in Baghdad in March of 2003, it began enforcing an old 1987 law (of the Saddam Hussein regime!) which banned unions in public enterprises - where most Iraqis are employed. On top of this, CPA head Paul Bremer added his own Public Order Number 1, banning pronouncements that “incite civil disorder, rioting, or damage to property.” The phrase “civil disorder” can easily be applied to such activity as organizing strikes. Under these laws leaders of both the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and Iraq’s Union of the Unemployed have been arrested a number of times.
Low wages have driven the revival in Iraqi labour activity, including three general strikes in Basra alone. Following US occupation, Iraqi public sector workers were given emergency salaries set by the Coalition Provisional Authority – roughly between $60 to $120 a month. Then the CPA’s Order Number 30 on “Reform of Salaries and Employment Conditions of State Employees” last September lowered the minimum to $40, and eliminated subsidies for housing and food.
Wages for Iraqi dockers, working for the Um Qasr port authority, were cut even more when the occupation started. This was because their “profit sharing” arrangement, in which they had been receiving two percent of unloading fees, had been terminated. In October the authorities decided to pay the workers in Iraqi dinars instead of dollars. This involved another sizeable loss and so the workers decided to organise a trade union.
On the day the dockers were to elect their new union officers, the Port Director Abdel Razzaq told them the elections had been cancelled, quoting the 1987 prohibition. In November, he followed this with the sacking of three port workers for trying to organize a union in spite of the previous order.
In January the dockers organised a brief strike against low wages, picketing the main gate and stopping anyone from entering. They became even angrier when their bosses decided to pay them with old banknotes, worth only 75 percent of new ones. In the conflict that ensued, Razzaq’s office was occupied, and the demonstration only came to an end when occupation troops rescued him. The workers have reported that since then, a private militia has been taken on to protect Razzaq.
However, in spite of the attempts to block any news about the development of the labour movement inside Iraq, the news of what was happening in Um Qasr got back to the US dockers. On hearing about the firing of the Um Qasr dockers, San Francisco’s International Longshore and Warehouse Local 10 immediately condemned the action. “You are not alone,” President Henry Graham told them. “If dockworkers in the rest of the world hear about your situation, you can count on their support.” West coast dock unions organised a one-day strike on March 20 in solidarity with the Iraqi dockers, to coincide with worldwide demonstrations on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
Iraqi workers and unions have explained that the U.S. is clearly keeping wages low in order to attract foreign investment, as Washington prepares to privatise Iraq’s economy. The Bush administration sees Iraq as a means of imposing so-called “free-market” criteria on the whole of the Middle East and South Asia. A year ago Bush placed Tom Foley, one of his own fundraisers, in charge of private sector development for the CPA. His task was clear: on September 19, 2003 the CPA published Order Number 39, permitting 100 percent foreign ownership of businesses, except for the oil industry, and allowing repatriation of profits. Foley then went on to list the state enterprises to be sold off. These included cement and fertiliser plants, phosphate and sulphur mines, pharmaceutical factories and the country’s airline. For cosmetic reasons, the actual sales were delayed until after the June “handover”. It would have looked bad if the Americans had sold directly to themselves! But the essence of the manoeuvre remained unchanged. Adding insult to injury, Iraq’s new constitution forbids changing those measures that were decided by the Americans. So much for “sovereignty”.
The planned privatisations and the handing over of Iraq’s assets to US contractors have provoked more labour protests. Workers rightly fear that the new owners will try and cut costs by laying off workers. Companies that have won very profitable reconstruction contracts are already trying to take on work that was previously done by Iraqis. As Iraq has no unemployment benefits or any welfare system, the loss of a stable job in a state enterprise condemns a family to hunger and misery. This explains why Iraqi workers are increasingly turning to the unions and building their own organisations to defend themselves against this onslaught.
Challenging the Contractors
This ongoing conflict over reconstruction work came to a head last October in a two-day wildcat strike at the Bergeseeya Oil Refinery near Basra. KBR – again – had been given a “no-bid” reconstruction contract to repair oil facilities. No “free market” when it comes to US companies! KBR brought in a Kuwaiti sub-contractor, construction company, Al Khoorafi, using cheaper Indian and Pakistani workers. To protect their jobs, the Iraqi workers threw them out and protested outside the company’s offices.
At the Southern Oil Company (SOC), workers then organized a union, headed by Hassan Ju’ ma, and they banned the use of foreign labour following the Bergeseeya action. KBR tried to get them to accept its foreign staff but local workers refused to budge. “Iraq will be reconstructed by Iraqis, we don’t need any foreign interference,” Ju’ ma said.
Then, in December, SOC workers began demanding higher wages. They proposed a monthly minimum of $85. The workers threatened strike action and to shut off oil production. They added that they would join the armed resistance if occupation troops were called in to suppress their protest. The situation was so tense that the Oil Minister flew to Basra and agreed to return to the pre-September wage levels.
In January, similar protests erupted in the Najibeeya, Haartha, and Az Zubeir power stations, where workers organised a wildcat strike. They occupied the administration buildings, declared the September wage schedule void, and threatened to shut off power if wages were not raised. Again the ministry was forced to back off and agree to return to the old scale.
Southern Oil Company trade unionists finally succeeded in getting the CPA to raise wages. They also won extra pay for working in dangerous or isolated locations. This was especially important as the oil industry’s infrastructure is often targeted by the armed opposition. Following another strike in February at the Basra Oil Pipeline Company, the SOC wage schedule was eventually adopted at most worksites in the oil sector. The workers then spread the struggle to the power industry, where they threatened to bring the power stations to a halt. The workers in this industry are potentially the most powerful as their actions could paralyse the whole of the Iraqi economy.
New Trade Unions
Under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein the workers were organized in state controlled trade unions, the General Federation of Trade Unions in Iraq (GFTU). This was established by Saddam Hussein in 1987 as a means of cutting across any kind of working class independent trade union activity. Now the same federation is controlled directly by the US occupation forces. Again, we see how the US imperialists can put to good use pieces of the old Saddam Hussein regime.
However, the workers of Iraq are not stupid. Since the collapse of the old regime, many new trade unions have been set up. The workers instinctively feel the need for organisations that they control directly. All this has happened in spite of the US and British occupation forces’ attempts to stifle any form of independent trade union organisation.
As a result of this process several trade unions now exist in Iraq. The biggest of these is the Iraqi Federation of Workers’ Trade Unions - the IFTU - which was set up on 16 May 16, by activists from the Workers’ Democratic Trade Union Movement, an underground workers’ organization, led by the Communist Party, under the Saddam regime. 400 trade unionists working in 12 different industries formed the IFTU. However, the IFTU leadership has links with the present interim government, no doubt reflecting the influence of the leadership of the Iraqi Communist Party.
The other union is the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI). It was formed on December 8, 2003 by workers’ representatives from all over Iraq, and is under the leadership of the Communist Workers’ Party.
The third union is the Union of Unemployed in Iraq (UUI) formed in May and is affiliated to the FWCUI. The UUI is campaigning for “Jobs for all Iraqi workers or social security of $100 per month for the unemployed,” the old and tested demand of the international labour movement, “work or full pay”.
These two unions – the FWCUI and the UUI – gather the most militant workers. That explains why they have been targeted by the occupying forces. The aim is to break the morale of the most advanced workers in Iraq. A few examples will suffice. On July 29, US soldiers detained 21 UUI leaders for the terrible crime of setting up a tent in front of the US military’s compound to demand jobs! Last November UUI general secretary Qasim Hadi and UUI leader Adil Salih. Hadi were arrested for leading unemployed workers’ demonstrations. Last December armed military vehicles smashed their way into the IFTU headquarters and arrested eight IFTU executive members. On January 10, British troops killed six and wounded eight unemployed protesters in Imara, and 12 January 12, they dispersed another unemployed protest in Imara. On January 12, Ukrainian forces used tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse unemployed demonstrators in Kut. They physically attacked at least one demonstrator. On January 13, Ukrainian forces again fired upon and injured unemployed demonstrators.
These organisations are destined to play a key role in future developments in Iraq. Their existence is testimony to the fact that even in the most difficult and barbaric conditions, the labour movement can rise up and offer the whole nation a way out. Unfortunately, while these two unions gather some of the best militants they suffer a sectarian leadership that refuses to participate in the armed resistance of the mass movement against the forces of occupation. This means that the leadership of the resistance is falling into the hands of reactionary elements, such as sections of the Islamic clergy.
It is a rather unfortunate development, and all thinking workers and youth in Iraq should look to neighbouring Iran to see what these clergy are capable of once they are in power. There too, the movement of the masses was hijacked by the Islamic clergy, and this led to the coming to power of a monstrous regime. The workers of Iran are now beginning to organise against that regime, but they have suffered terribly for 25 years because of the mistakes of the Iranian Communists at the end of the 1970s.
In the next period in Iraq there will be many more struggles of the working class. However, in order to win the struggle against the imperialist occupation and the horrible conditions the workers face, it is necessary to organize the struggle with a perspective, strategy and tactics that will bring the workers and the peasant to power.
The struggle to build trade independent unions is a very important struggle and all the workers should throw themselves into this struggle. However, struggling only for bread and butter issues will leave the imperialists in Iraq with their puppet government in overall control. This means that while they may be forced to make concessions in the short term, in the long term they will plan to take back by various means the gains the workers will win. Unless the workers take all power in their hands this will be the perspective. What is necessary is a revolutionary leadership based on the working class struggles.
Working class must put itself at head of the nation
For the working class to win, the class must struggle not only in the battle for trade union rights but also in the war against the imperialist occupier. At the moment the leadership of the resistance movement is mainly in the hands of the reactionary Islamic clergy. This means that although there are similarities with the situation during the Vietnam War, there are also differences. The reactionary Islamic clergy cannot have the same effect on the US troops as the poor peasants of Vietnam. However, all this means is that the process can take longer. We cannot predict how long the revolutionary movement, struggling with arms in hand, but under a reactionary leadership, will take to inflict so much pain on the coalition army as to provoke - like during the Vietnam War - a massive opposition of the American working class and youth that would force the retreat of the imperialists.
The imperialist war machine is a very powerful one and the American ruling class has many more reserves. It cannot be defeated merely by military means, just as it was not defeated in that way in Vietnam. What defeated the US army in Vietnam was a people struggling for control of its own destiny, and most importantly for control of its own economic resources. This had a huge impact on the thinking of millions of workers and youth in the USA. In the end the most powerful army in the world began to break down in the face of such determined opposition. That should be the aim today in Iraq.
Before the war started in Iraq, there were significant mass protests in the USA, far bigger than the early protests against the war in Vietnam. This bodes well for the future. But so far there has been no massive protest movement in the US since the war started. But the process of demoralisation of the US troops has already begun. The mood in the USA is changing. Support for the war is no way near as strong as it was. Added to that the economy is beginning to slow down. This is an election year and many of the measures that the US bourgeois need to carry out against the US workers will be held over until after the elections. Therefore things will be very different next year. The attacks on the US workers of the past few years will be intensified. This combined with the continuing mess in Iraq will provide an explosive mix.
That is why the resistance movement in Iraq needs the leadership of the working class. Under a revolutionary, internationalist and working class leadership the process would be much quicker and clearer. The resistance movement, while fighting the US troops, would also be in a position to wear them down and show them that their war is an unjust one. This would mark the beginning of the end of the US occupation. Therefore to defeat the imperialists, the working class in Iraq must lead the struggle to overthrow imperialism and Iraqi capitalism and take power.
Marxists in Iraq must be involved in all the forms of struggle in order to build a working class revolutionary party at the head of the masses. Both working class parties have abstained from any form of armed resistance - the Iraqi Communist Party because it sits in the puppet government. The Workers’ Communist Party because it fails to see the contradiction between the revolutionary resistance movement and its reactionary leadership.
While Marxists oppose acts of individual terrorism they approach the guerrilla war in Iraq, as a tactic subordinated to the revolutionary struggle of the working class. The people of Iraq have every right – in fact it is their duty – to struggle to expel the imperialist armies form their country. It is an elementary duty of Marxists to support the people of Iraq in their struggle against imperialism. What we say is that it is not enough to give general support. It is our duty to indicate a way out. While we support the resistance, we do not support the reactionary leaders who are attempting to divert the movement away from class politics.
The lessons of history must be studied and absorbed by the Iraqi Communists. The experience of peasant and urban guerrillaism as a strategy to win socialism has been proven the wrong method. In many cases it has led to defeats. Where it has led to victories we have seen the coming to power of regimes, such as the Chinese or the Vietnamese, where power was not in the hands of the working class, but in those of a bureaucracy. In Iraq, if the resistance remains under the leadership of the Islamic clergy the result could be far worse. If the ayatollahs win it may lead to a capitalist state with a reactionary religious regime as in the case of Iran.
Lenin on guerrilla warfare
Lenin explain this important question of the attitude of Marxists to guerrilla warfare already in 1905 in his article The War Against Imperialism. He wrote:
“What are the fundamental demands, which every Marxist should make of an examination of the question of forms of struggle? In the first place, Marxism differs from all primitive forms of socialism by not binding the movement to any one particular form of struggle. It recognizes the most varied forms of struggle; and it does not “concoct” them, but only generalizes, organizes, gives conscious expression to those forms of struggle of the revolutionary classes, which arise of themselves in the course of the movement. Absolutely hostile to all abstract formulas and to all doctrinaire recipes, Marxism demands an attentive attitude to the mass struggle in progress, which, as the movement develops, as the class-consciousness of the masses grows, as economic and political crises become acute, continually gives rise to new and more varied methods of defence and attack. Marxism, therefore, positively does not reject any form of struggle…
“The phenomenon in which we are interested is the armed struggle.
“The example of the Letts clearly demonstrates how incorrect, unscientific and unhistorical is the practice so very common among us of analysing guerrilla warfare without reference to the circumstances of an uprising.
“A Marxist bases himself on the class struggle, and not social peace. In certain periods of acute economic and political crises the class struggle ripens into a direct civil war, i.e., into an armed struggle between two sections of the people. In such periods a Marxist is obliged to take the stand of civil war. Any moral condemnation of civil war would be absolutely impermissible from the standpoint of Marxism.
“When I see Social Democrats proudly and smugly declaring ‘we are not anarchists, thieves, robbers, we are superior to all this, we reject guerrilla warfare’, —I ask myself: Do these people realise what they are saying? Armed clashes and conflicts between the Black-Hundred government and the population are taking place all over the country. This is an absolutely inevitable phenomenon at the present stage of development of the revolution. The population is spontaneously and in an unorganised way — and for that very reason often in unfortunate and undesirable forms — reacting to this phenomenon also by armed conflicts and attacks.
“At different periods Social Democracy applies different methods, always qualifying the choice of them by strictly defined ideological and organizational conditions.”
For a revolutionary programme and leadership
While the tactic of guerrilla warfare is necessary in Iraq in this period, it cannot replace the struggle of the working class in the factories, in the trade unions, in strikes, in demonstrations, and in the struggle for political power. What is necessary is to combine the struggles for reforms and military actions with a transitional programme leading to working class power.
Workers must demand of the leadership of the ICP to break with its policy of class collaboration and lead the struggle or be replaced by a new leadership that wants to fight the class enemy, not collaborate with him. Workers of the Workers’ Communist Party must demand of its leadership to enter the military struggle and win the leadership rather than desert the masses to the reactionary Ayatollahs. It is from within these two working class organizations and from the trade unions that a new revolutionary leadership must emerge.
While the struggle for decent wages and conditions is important it is necessary to connect this to such demands such as: *Workers’ democratic control in the nationalized industries. *Take over the foreign companies under workers’ control. *For a workers’ militia. *Based on workers’ action committee build a national organization, fully democratic with an elected leadership that can be recalled if it fails to lead the struggle adequately.
A revolutionary party of the Iraqi working class would also seek to speak with the soldiers most of them poor workers who detest the liars that sent them to Iraq. They should be told that they are not the enemy, but the real enemy are the imperialists who sent them to kill and die for their own selfish interest. These soldiers should be convinced to turn their guns away from the Iraqi people and against their own “leaders”.
Such a revolutionary leadership would also appeal to all the workers and the peasants within the entire region to join the struggle against the imperialists and all the local despotic regimes that simply do the bidding of their imperialist masters. They would call on them to mobilise to overthrow their own capitalists and work towards the building of a socialist federation across the whole region.
Such a party would call on all the workers of the world, and in particular on the American and the British working class: “Brothers and sisters, our struggle is your struggle. Join us by removing from power all the imperialists, whether Republican and Democrat. Replace them with the power of our class.”