Experimental anti-imperialism

A political balance sheet of the Anti-imperialist Camp's itinerary
Adopted by the International Conference of the Anti-imperialist Camp, Vienna, 2-4 February, 2008
In our political laboratory the idea of making anti-imperialism the centre of our activity had been already maturing. From these anti-imperialist resistances' would emanate the only bold antagonism being able to seriously rock the imperialist-capitalist system which just had scored one of its biggest historical victories.

Closed cycle of the anti-globalisation movement

1) By the mid 1990s - the world had been still under the impression of the demise of the communist movement - the popular resistance against the liberalist attacks on the system's periphery has gained once again momentum. The single most emblematic event was the Zapatist uprising in 1994 announcing the end of the end of history. In our political laboratory the idea of making anti-imperialism the centre of our activity had been already maturing. From these anti-imperialist resistances' would emanate the only bold antagonism being able to seriously rock the imperialist-capitalist system which just had scored one of its biggest historical victories.

2) In the same circumstances the anti-globalisation movement made its first steps. From the very beginning our relationship to it was ambiguous. On one hand it was the first serious protest within the West against the all too powerful liberalist oligarchy after 1989/91. It contested the extreme consequences of globalisation, of unchained liberalism which was brought to their minds by the revolt of the oppressed people. Therefore it was of great significance. On the other hand it remained within the framework of the liberalist premises. It was a kind of inner criticism. While evoked by the resistance of the wretched of the world they nevertheless turned a blind eye on them, refused to support them and to recognise their leading role. For them the Western left liberal middle classes remained the protagonists of protest those prejudices all others would have to subordinate to.

3) The first major battle ground, we found ourselves drawn onto, was NATO's war on Yugoslavia which culminated in 1999. For taking the side of Serbia against imperialism, we were excommunicated by the anti-globalisation movement. For them the Western aggression was perceived as a police action within the frame of Clinton's new world order to extirpate some remaining malign spectres of the past. National resistance against the imperialist empire ought not to exist, let alone armed one, but globalisation from below. The cataclysm of this illusion was still to come.

4) 9/11 is the symbol of the end of the harmonic liberalist globalisation which both Clinton and Negri subscribed to. The undeclared waging of the permanent pre-emptive war against the popular resistance to the emerging US empire made liberalism obsolete -- also in its leftist version. By attacking "terrorism" Bush recognised the resistance, especially the Islamic one, as the main enemy of the global system of dominance. It was only logic that the anti-globalisation movement took the equidistant position enshrined in the notorious slogan "no war, no terror". It found itself caught between the lines. Frustrated by the fact that it could not stop the onslaught on Iraq, it had to take notice of the vanishing of its imaginary protagonism. Only within a few years the movement virtually has vanished.

On the wave of the Iraqi resistance

5) From the very beginning the Anti-imperialist Camp (AC) has taken a position on the side and in support of the resistance movements including the Islamic ones. It started with the revived Palestinian Intifada, went along with the Afghan resistance led by the Taliban and reached its climax with the enfolding Iraqi resistance after the US invasion of 2003. The intensification of the resistances challenged the American imperial designs drawn under the auspices of the Neo-cons. Eventually it falsified their ultra-militarist approach which stands for the extensive use of the US' military supremacy against any political obstacle.

6) The AC became the champion of the support to the Iraqi resistance starting with the 10-Euro campaign and climaxing in the Chianciano conference in 2007. With the most modest means we obtained a powerful impact as we had the audacity to put our fingers in the open wound. The proof of the importance of the campaign was the reactions it provoked. A massive media campaign has been launched ranging from the right to the left with the aim to criminalise us as terrorists. It culminated in the Italian arrests in 2004. The initiative of 44 US congressmen to ban us showed that even the top echelon of the empire recognised us as enemies.

7) Different to the battle over Yugoslavia where we played the role of witnesses of opposition, we became a political player in the eye of the storm reaching also some serious gains. We succeed in establishing at least the legitimacy of the resistance as an expression of the will to self-determination of an overwhelming part of the Iraqi people in significant sectors of the public opinion. We could make use of the appalling contradiction between the West's claim of being the herald of democracy and its blatant neo-colonialism in Iraq. Although all this was in the last instance only possible thanks to the steadfastness of the Iraqi resistance itself, we were nevertheless instrumental to break up the attempted equation of resistance = terrorism and subsequent criminalisation as had passed in the USA.

8) From a political point of view (not a pure military one) the Iraqi resistance reached its highest point in 2004 when an alliance between the Falluja defenders and popular militias controlling other Sunni town on one side and the Shiite uprising led by Mutada as Sadr in Najaf on the other side seemed to be close. This let fly high the hopes of a political front of the resistance comprising the vast majority of the Arab Iraqis regardless of sect affiliation.

But things happened to proceed differently. Making use of the historic rift between the sects which runs way back not only to Saddam, the British and Ottoman rule but to the very Abbasid caliphate, a political wedge could be driven into the nation along confessional demarcations. In the frame of the US policy of tripartition, the rise of Salafi and Takfiri sectarianism as integral force of the resistance was a driving element of the split. Provoked itself by a violent de-Baathification perceived as anti-Sunna it was reciprocated by Shiite sectarian forces linked to the Baghdad government installed by the US. Amalgamated with the confessional civil war the question of the geo-strategic role of Iran was posed - against Teheran or under its umbrella? On this question the Iraqi people remains profoundly divided.

The current impasse of the Iraqi resistance does, however, not reciprocally imply a success for the US. Instead we are facing a strategic stalemate which is being determined by the ongoing power struggle between Washington and Teheran which steadily has been gaining strength.

In any case, with the fatal split of the Iraqi people the global appeal of the Iraqi resistance has been diminishing greatly.

9) The impending showdown between the US and Iran is today the main global question and the final acid test for the Neo-con American empire. While the latter's climax certainly exceeded and its impetus has been seriously relented by the growing anti-imperialist resistance, first of all by the Iraqi one, it has not been broken yet. Within this scenario a forward defence of the Neo-cons cannot be excluded which would mean a full-blown military attack on Iran as the only way to maintain the US empire according to their designs. Yet the forces close to the traditional establishment within the US regime called realists are steadily gaining influence. The approaching end of Bush's tenure does, however, in no way end the antagonist conflict with Iran. Under a new president the US might be even more able to drive the spiral of conflict as they will more actively search for the consensus among the imperialist powers. Military action remains the ultima ratio of regime change as conceived by Washington.

Without a militarily backed regime change in Teheran the global system would take an irresistible move towards a more multi-polar world. This does, however, not put in question the predominant role of the US. But to be forced into a kind of compromise with Teheran would have enormous consequences throughout the region and across the world which cannot be fully predicted. It inevitable would lead to a certain recognition for the resistance movements in Palestine, in Lebanon and the acceptance of a decisive influence of Teheran over Baghdad.

Paradoxical situation for the Anti-imperialist Camp

10) Our early analysis of the popular resistance movements as the main antagonist force to the imperialist-capitalists system turned out to be more than correct. Furthermore we proved to be able to score points in decisive battles. Nevertheless we are weaker than before. Why this paradox?

11) The reflux of the Western left still continues. The anti-globalisation movement was not a turn-around of this trend but just a step within the continued process which led to the extermination of an antagonist political subject in the West. This is being confirmed by the void it left. The historic left has been transformed into social liberalism and keeps playing the human rights mouthpiece of imperialism under the guise of humanitarianism.

The ultimate phenomenon of this process is the steady growth of Islamphobia across all social strata and political demarcations including the historic left. Under the guise of the defence of the values of enlightenment they join in into the general crusade against Islam. We are facing a revival of the mission civilicatice of imperialism with Islamophobia as its transversal unifying ideology.

While we won a battle over the defence of the Iraqi resistance as a form of legitimate self-determination posed in traditional political terms, imperialism simply changed the battle ground. By pulling out the card of Islamophobia it is securing the support of the vast majority of the population for the imperialist pre-emptive war targeting also the possible inner opposition (see the Guantanamo and Patriot act phenomena). This deeply pervasive ideology comprises an irrational element as well which is only comparable to historic anti-Semitism.

All this is being combined with the capitalist economic boom of the last five years which somewhat mitigated the stratifying effects of the liberalist attacks at least in the central imperialist powers. The signs of opposition, including right wing populism which spread in the second half of the 90s across Europe, were absorbed or at least weakened.

Under these conditions an economic crisis will not automatically produce antagonist responses. More than before the social unease is bound to be expressed in chauvinist, anti-Islamic forms. There will be, however, increased social and political conflicts offering limited spaces for us.

12) This difficult situation inevitably evoked a debate within our own ranks about the appealing force of our historic project, the strength of our idea. As a matter of fact despite its accuracy the anti-imperialist project did not radiate in the same way as communism did before. While the latter promised inevitable victory, we only can offer a catastrophic war with uncertain, contingent outcome.

It is beyond doubt that anti-imperialist political Islam on its turn does not offer a platform which can penetrate into Western milieus susceptible for antagonist positions.

13) The question of how to build a post-imperialist and post-capitalist is certainly important and must remain under debate but for the next period it will not serve to unify the different anti-imperialist forces in place let alone facilitate the bloc with anti-imperialist Islam.

A global alliance of the resistance forces heading towards an anti-imperialist front cannot have a communist profile but must have a revolutionary popular one. It must be able to unify the most diverse anti-imperialist struggles in the world on the base of a universal programme as the common denominator which is anti-imperialism, national and popular self-determination and social equality.

Within this fight for unity of popular resistance movements, revolutionary anti-imperialism will promote among the most advanced sectors of the fighting forces, also the discussion for elaborating a new alternative to the capitalist system based on a critical evaluation of historic experiences that proposed social and political emancipation of humanity, among which socialism was in the centre during the last century.

Guiding star anti-imperialist front

14) The pivotal proposal of the AC has been from the very beginning the global anti-imperialist front. Our attempts to pave its way have been multifold: The annul camps in Assisi, Italy, which offered a platform to different anti-imperialist forces to expose their projects within the West and to exchange views with others. The common attempts to build an anti-imperialist alternative to the WSF without neglecting to dialogue with its more radical wing. The most successful of these events were Mumbai Resistance in 2004. In the WSF of 2006 in Venezuela Chavez confirmed this line by calling himself for a world anti-imperialist front. Then there were our attempts to coalesce the forces in support of the Iraqi resistance which climaxed in the Chianciano conference in 2007.

All these initiatives were successful in a preparative sense. They have been helping to raise the awareness for the project and to create ties. Its result is a global network of co-operation partners.

On the other hand this state of affairs displays that an operative anti-imperialist front in the full sense of the notion is still very distant. The political platform of co-operation is not comprehensive, but limited to single issues even if they might be world shaking. When the Iraqi flag was flying high, the global coalition acquired profile. When troubles arose its flag was lowered to half-mast. This sign of political weakness and immaturity obviously runs down also to the organisational aspect including finances and material means as well.

The anti-imperialist front remains our main target but we are aware of the fact that only successful historic anti-imperialist battles can create its preconditions. Our task today is one of political preparation.

15) On the European level we have to prepare for a difficult period ahead with a further net shrinkage of the antagonist milieus. What actually is possible are rebellions of sectors and groups marginalised or heavily downgraded in their status by the liberalist steamroller. The repeated revolts in the French suburbs are the best example for this tendency. But not only the most poor and disenfranchised will protest, there might be also better-off groups though in a less radical way but not necessarily limited to social demands. (See the example of the German Linkspartei which got, however, already the ticket back into the system.) Also those opposing the clash of civilisations could voice their opposition from a more middle class point of view.

We need to prepare for all those possible expressions of protest and intersect them. To do so we must search for new forms, we have to change our language and or culture to find access. There are, however, no ready-made answers. So we have to embark on an experimental approach which at the same time does not fall into the empiricist trap. All experimenting must be done within well-defined political and theoretical frame. The political task is to develop on the ground of the battles an antagonist programme which brings the rebellions in a conscious antagonist opposition to the imperialist-capitalist oligarchy. Against their Americanism we need to set a new project of collectivity and human solidarity. Its condition sine qua non is the link and support to the anti-imperialist resistance movements on the periphery.

In the final instance there remains an irresolvable strategic contradiction. To carry all those projects we need politically educated militants and leaders which hardly grow from the new milieus of opposition which we discerned before. The gap between a small politicised elite and discontented masses is destined to remain or even grow - not only with regard to the ruling system but also with regard to our movement.

16) On the global level our main task is to build and strengthen the bridge to the resistance movements of Islamic background as they remain the main antagonist and popular force challenging the imperialist hegemony. Here the key to an anti-imperialist front is buried. A political platform emerging from such a dialogue needs to be a universal one, ought to appeal to all wretched of the world regardless of their cultural and religious background. On the other hand in can not negate these very same affiliations but accept and tolerate them. The plenty of contradiction stemming from this situation need to be overcome by a project of liberation which in the current period cannot be socialism or communism but must confine itself to revolutionary popular anti-imperialism.

17) The AC must continue to serve as a centre of political co-ordination, exchange and elaboration of both action and debate. We need to convince our friends, collaborators and interlocutors to participate in an ever more constant and committed way in all respects. There is nobody else who can do so.