1) Re Paul B's : > Why is the term war different today? Since the > motor of history is one of > class struggle , war between Nations/ Nation > States/ States are always at > base an attempt by ruling classes to stay in the > saddle by breaking any > resistance by the working class. Is a Jihad ('holy war') also to be understood as an attempt by the ruling class to stay in power by breaking the resistance of the working class? Was that what the Iranian government was attempting to do in the Iran-Iraq War? (NB: the Iranian working class, especially trade unions and the Left, had already been crushed years before in the period immediately after the Shah was overthrown). Marx and Engels seemed to have not always agreed with the above position that you outlined. E.g. they, in 1848, supported demands for a 'revolutionary war' against Russia. See V.G. Kiernan's entry on "War" in _A Dictionary of Marxist Thought_. In recent decades, the question of "when is a 'war' a war" has not always been easy to answer. E.g. there have been many "undeclared wars" (most notably the US war against the people of Vietnam). There have also been "covert wars" in which the country that finances and organizes the overthrow of another government uses others to actually fight the 'war' (e.g. the 'civil war' orchestrated by the CIA -- when Bush Sr. was CIA Director -- to overthrow the Allende government in Chile and bring Gen. Pinochet & Co. to power). Was that a 'war' or a 'coup' or a 'counter-revolution'? > As Fred has said, the real issue now is to > defend all the poor and > oppressed, and for us in particular from the > 'educated' middle classes. What Fred said, in , was rather that we have some "long, hard anti-war work ahead of us". I certainly agree that it will be hard. Will it be long, though? I'm not so sure. While the US government seems to be preparing the public for a 'long' war, they will most probably attempt a shorter war along the lines of the Gulf War. Of course, one of the lessons of the Vietnam (and other) wars is that it is not safe to speculate on the longevity of a military action (a point reinforced by the 'police actions' [NB: euphemism for 'war'] in the Balkans and Africa). A point that I would make again is that the economic effects of a protracted vs. a short-lived war may be significantly different in some aspects. 2) Re Chai-on's : Guerilla warfare is not necessarily the same thing as terrorism. Guerilla tactics during war-time go back a long time. E.g. there were guerilla fighters in the American revolution and the US Civil War. Before that, some of the same tactics had been utilized by Native Americans. Of course, we all know that guerilla tactics have also been employed successfully by revolutionary movements, e.g. in China and Cuba. Whether this tactic should become a *strategy* (as suggested by Che Guevara) is a long-standing issue of debate among Marxists. 'Terrorism' is, I believe, a 20th Century -- and hence, newer -- expression. While terrorism has been employed as a tactic it has also become a strategy for different movements -- both progressive and reactionary. The idea that the civilian population should be punished and intimidated through the selective use of force is not entirely a terrorist concept. Perhaps the first modern application of this doctrine was in the US Civil War with General Sherman's celebrated "marching through Georgia" (interestingly, Sherman's tactics were motivated and rationalized apparently by religious fervor). Since that time, the world has seen many -- far too many -- examples of this in warfare (e.g. London, Dresden, and Hiroshima in WWII). Not all terrorists have been progressive or anti-imperialists. E.g. Zionist organizations like the Stern Gang and the Irgun used terrorism in a successful attempt to get the British government to remove their troops from Palestine and support a Zionist state. One might even argue that the US government has been a supporter, participant, and organizer of many terrorist groups and actions in recent decades (thus the US's condemnation of 'state-sponsored terrorism' is hypocritical). Indeed, isn't the biggest 'state terrorist' in the world today the Israeli government? Of course, terrorism has also been a tactic used at times in national liberation movements (e.g. in Ireland and Palestine).(Wasn't an older brother of Lenin a revolutionary and a terrorist?). As I suggested in a previous post, these movements tend to be elitist. This is a characteristic that they have in common with certain guerilla movements, e.g. the Guevarist belief that a small band of dedicated revolutionaries can substitute for a mass movement of the working class. One lesson of Guevara's death, it should be noted, was that the tactics employed successfully in one country can not necessarily be generalized into a strategy for other nations. Building a revolutionary movement, like building an anti-war movement is (to use Fred's words) "long, hard work" but there are no real "shortcuts" -- contrary to an underlying belief of terrorism. In solidarity, Jerry PS to Fred and others: consider showing the film "Manufacturing Consent" in the classroom. This film is a documentary on Noam Chomsky and should encourage students to more critically consider the role of the media and the state in a 'democracy'. Recommended.
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