Old but brilliant article on Libya which adopts a Marxist analysis to critique what Lenin called “infantile Leftists”. The essay is really applicable to Syria, and I will be definitely borrowing from it for my future articles. Pardon the long excerpts but they are really worth reading:
“To justify that position, Counterfire had to ludicrously misrepresent reality. Nearing the end of the imperialist offensive John Rees posed the following absurd issue: ‘So the question now posed is this: in whose interest will the new rulers of Libya act?’ If John Rees doesn’t know the answer to this question either he has lost his powers of reason or he has cut himself from all sources of information during the last months. The answer to ‘in whose interests the new leaders of Libya will act’ is determined by the alignment of forces that brought them to power. The ITNC was carried to power by the imperialists and they will act in the interests of the imperialists.
Finally, what theoretical analysis led them such a position? Particularly in the case of Counterfire, it is clear that it is because their theory is not Marxist – something dealt with previously here. Marxism understands that anything is determined by the totality of the forces acting in it. As Lenin put it in regard to class struggle in Left-Wing Communism: ‘the Communist Party… must act on scientific principles. Science… demands that account must be taken of all the forces, groups, parties, classes and masses operating in a given country’.
Acting in the situation in Libya were not only the forces within that country but imperialist powers from outside it. Whatever were the original intentions of those fighting against Gaddafi’s regime, which doubtless from day one ranged from those fighting for liberty to puppets of imperialism, the side of ITNC was entirely seized control of by the imperialists. The imperialists therefore led the assault on Tripoli and therefore it was necessary to fight against them. That is what an analysis of the inter-relation of all class forces in Libya shows.
The reason Counterfire justified being on the same side of a military conflict as the imperialists is due to a non-Marxist theory which sees the class struggle not as resulting from the total contradictions of all classes in society but from some sort of populist unfolding of the masses – put vulgarly, if people are on a demonstration, or if there is a mass movement, it must necessarily be progressive. Regrettably this is not true – as Marx analysed from the 1848 revolutions onward. It is perfectly possible to have large movements which are either reactionary from the beginning or seized control of and manipulated by reaction and imperialism. It is not the fact that a lot of people are involved that makes a movement progressive, but which class benefits from its victory or defeat. In Libya imperialism has benefited from what has occurred and, regrettably, various people who wanted to try to be progressive were on the same military side as imperialism.”