[OPE-L:5925] Re: Re: Re: Re: the wages of war

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Mon Sep 17 2001 - 10:05:12 EDT

1) Re Paul B's [5921]:

> 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

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 [5917], 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

2) Re Chai-on's [5922]:

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
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
-- 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

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
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

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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