Lenin, Bin Laden and the SWP

On 5 June 1920 Lenin presented his theses on the national and colonial question to the Second Congress Of The Communist International. Included in this important document we read the following:

"11) With regard to the more backward states and nations, in which feudal or patriarchal and patriarchal-peasant relations predominate, it is particularly important to bear in mind:

first, that all Communist parties must assist the bourgeois-democratic liberation movement in these countries, and that the duty of rendering the most active assistance rests primarily with the workers of the country the backward nation is colonially or financially dependent on;

second, the need for a struggle against the clergy and other influential reactionary and medieval elements in backward countries;

third, the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc.;[In the proofs Lenin inserted a brace opposite points 2 and 3 and wrote '2 and 3 to be united'.-Editor.]

fourth, the need, in backward countries, to give special support to the peasant movement against the landowners, against landed proprietorship, and against all manifestations or survivals of feudalism, and to strive to lend the peasant movement the most revolutionary character by establishing the closest possible alliance between the West European communist proletariat and the revolutionary peasant movement in the East, in the colonies, and in the backward countries generally. It is particularly necessary to exert every effort to apply the basic principles of the Soviet system in countries where pre-capitalist relations predominate-by setting up 'working people's Soviets', etc.;

fifth, the need for a determined struggle against attempts to give a communist colouring to bourgeois-democratic liberation trends in the backward countries; the Communist International should support bourgeois-democratic national movements in colonial and backward countries only on condition that, in these countries, the elements of future proletarian parties, which will be communist not only in name, are brought together and trained to understand their special tasks, i.e., those of the struggle against the bourgeois-democratic movements within their own nations. The Communist International must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in the colonial and backward countries, but should not merge with it, and should under all circumstances uphold the independence of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most embryonic form;

sixth, the need constantly to explain and expose among the broadest working masses of all countries, and particularly of the backward countries, the deception systematically practised by the imperialist powers, which, under the guise of politically independent states, set up states that are wholly dependent upon them economically, financially and militarily. Under present-day international conditions there is no salvation for dependent and weak nations except in a union of Soviet republics." (From V. I. Lenin, Draft Theses on National and Colonial Questions)

Lenin always wrote in a clear and uncompromising style. He was insistent that Communists working in the colonial and ex-colonial countries (sometimes referred to as the "Third World"), while conducting an implacable struggle against imperialism, must always fight against "Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc.".

To use a more contemporary term, this means that Communists must combat those Islamic fundamentalist trends that, hiding under an alleged "anti-imperialist" banner, are carrying out a reactionary political and social agenda is aimed precisely to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc.

To confuse the red flag of socialist revolution with the black flag of Islamic reaction is one of the worst mistakes a Marxist can make. But this is precisely what certain "Marxist" groups like the British SWP are doing when they support organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is the exact opposite of what Lenin and the Communist International stood for. Such a policy can do nothing but harm to the cause of socialism and the working class. You can stand with Lenin or you can stand with the Muslim Brotherhood, but you cannot stand with both!

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