Imperialism & War

The arms race between the USA and the USSR escalated in the 1980s because of Reagan’s “Star wars” programme. Ted Grant outlined the real reasons for the antagonism and the factors that ruled out an open war between US capitalism and the USSR, and explained that only the conscious mobilisation of the working class could put an end to this criminal “Cannons instead of butter” policy.

The coup in Algiers by General Massu paved the way in France for the rise of General de Gaulle to power without shooting a bullet. Ted Grant exposed the role of the Socialist and Communist leaders who appealed to the capitalist state to take action against the insurgents instead of mobilising and arming the workers, and tail-ended Pfimlin to "defend the democratic institutions", thus politically disarming the French workers in the face of the shameful capitulation of Pfimlin to the Generals.

We are republishing Ted Grant's 1980 article on the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, together with an introduction by Alan Woods. In this article we find a scientific Marxist analysis of the class content of the 1978 Afghan revolution and its historical origins. In addition, we have an explanation for the principled position that we took with regard to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that occurred the following year.

In 1978, a radical faction of the Afghan Communist Party seized power in a military coup. The 'Saur Revolution' carried out a whole series of progressive measures. The government passed decrees abolishing the selling of brides and giving equality to women. It announced a land reform and the cancellation of farmers’ debts. These measures met with the ferocious opposition of the powerful land owners and moneylenders. This article by Ted Grant, published in 1978, contains an analysis of the revolution, as well as the phenomena of colonial revolutions and proletarian bonapartism more generally.

In this internal discussion document Ted Grant analysed the process of the Syrian revolution in the 1960s and outlined the causes of its peculiar development, which gave rise to a regime of proletarian Bonapartism, where capitalism was abolished and the vast bulk of the economy was nationalised. The Syrian working class, however, needed to go through a political revolution in order to establish a genuine workers' democracy.

In 1972 Ted Grant highlighted the fact that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable by US imperialism. The US army was demoralised and could not fight a people struggling for national and social liberation. While Marxists supported the Vietnamese people, the regime that would come to power would be modelled on Stalinist Russia and China and therefore would require political revolution for the masses to move towards genuine socialism.

War between Pakistan and India was eventually to be sparked off by the Pakistani air attack of December 3, 1971, after escalating tension and India's interference in the West Pakistani suppression of East Bengal (now Bangladesh). On the verge of war, Ted Grant analysed the class interests of the different parties involved in this article in the Militant.

In 1965 tensions rose between Pakistan and India around the issue of Kashmir. A provocation by Pakistani dictator Ayub Khan led to open conflict and a victory for the Indian bourgeoisie. In this article, published in October 1965, Ted Grant showed how the war was reactionary on both sides.

A key historical document that analyses the important question of "proletarian bonapartism", i.e. Stalinism, in the former colonial countries. It explains the roots of the Chinese revolution and why the Maoist regime came into conflict with the Soviet Union, and also the nature of several similar regimes that came into being in that period. It was also the basis for the expulsion of Ted Grant and his followers from Mandel's so-called Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International.

In 1962 the inability of French imperialism to repress the movement of the Algerian people and the rising militancy of French workers forced de Gaulle to propose a cease-fire to the FLN and attempt to present himself as the guarantor of “peace”. Ted Grant pointed out that the crisis of the Gaullist regime foreshadowed revolutionary developments, something which was confirmed six years later!

After de Gaulle's coup in 1958 frustration in the high command of the French army in Algeria led in 1961 to a second reactionary coup attempt on the part of General Challe. Ted Grant analysed how the coup was smashed by a decisive movement of the French working class and the rebellion of the army ranks against the coup plotters. The scope and strength of the movement revealed the potential for revolutionary struggle in France.

The advancing colonial revolution in central Africa at the end of the 1950s threatened British, French and Belgian rule. In this short article Ted Grant exposed the manoeuvres of the colonial ruling elites and imperialism and their hypocritical talk about “Co-partnership” of the races which is “the partnership of the horse and its rider”.

Political and social unrest against Lebanese President Chamoun's pro-Western policy and his support for imperialist intervention in the 1956 Suez war against Egypt triggered civil war in Lebanon and forced US direct intervention in the country in July 1958 to save Chamoun. Ted Grant based his analysis on the class interests at stake in this war while even greater convulsions were being prepared in the Middle East.

In 1956 there was a concerted attack by France, Britain and Israel against Egypt with the aim of seizing control of the Suez Canal nationalised by Nasser. Ted Grant explained that the outcome of the Suez war marked the downsizing of Britain and France as second-rate imperialist powers and exacerbated the revolt of the Arab masses against imperialist domination, preparing greater revolutionary crises in the future.