Tuesday, 20 May 2008

NADINE ROSA ROSSO - CHALLENGES OF INTERNATIONALISM IN THE WEST

THE IMPORTANCE OF AN INTERNATIONAL
ALLIANCE
FOR THE OPPRESSED PEOPLES


Nadine Rosa Rosso

Speech delivered at the Congress of the International Union
of Parliamentarians for Palestine (IUPFP), Brussels May
15th 2008

The question of international alliances is a very important
one in today's confused world. In order to build these
alliances one has to identify: who is the enemy?

The answer to this question depends on where in the world
one lives. Political struggle in a country like Belgium
where I reside, one of the richest countries of the world,
and political struggle in one of the poorest like in
Palestine is very different.

The answer for oppressed people in the Third World is a
simple one; the common enemy is the US Imperialism,
followed by the governments of the European Union and often
with the complicity of many Third World governments.

One has to accept that to get to point A the path will be
different depending on where one is situated in the world.
Understanding this is fundamental if we are to build an
international alliance.

I speak from the point of view of a leftist militant in
Belgium, capital of the Nato and the European Union, one of
the most developed and industrialized country of the world,
with a high level of welfare. I am a communist since 1970.
But I want to analyse the situation of the Left self
critically.

The interests of the workers and the majority of people in
our countries are not advanced by supporting the aggressive
policies of the US against Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria
and Palestine. We also have no interest in the economic
policies of multinationals which are exploiting the peoples
and their natural wealth across the globe.

There are two great challenges for us:

1. If the people in the US and Europe want to protect
themselves from terrorism the primary task is to stop the
war against the Third World. This war manifests itself
economically, politically, ideologically, culturally and of
course militarily.

However following every terrorist attack the Western Left
first condemns it and demands more security through the
strengthening of the 'anti-terror' laws but seldom demands
an end to the war and an end to occupation and oppression
as the root cause of the problem.

2. If people in Europe want to raise their standard of life
and defend their social and political rights they must
reject the 'American way of life', which only entails
privatisation, overflowing the prisons with the poor and
immigrants and a general worsening of social and political
rights. This is part of the same offensive against the
Third World, but whereby there they use direct exploitation
through military might, in the West this exploitation is
conducted with sugar-coated bullets.

Therefore it is necessary for the peoples in the US and
Europe to ally with those who are facing or are being
threatened with military aggression.

It was this internationalism on the basis of the aforesaid
political positions which I proposed to a Belgian political
party of which I was a leader from 1995 to 2003. I proposed
a revolutionary front against the war and for socialism
across Europe, and also to make alliances with our brothers
and sisters who are struggling across the world.

Indeed such a front was established for the elections in
Belgium in May 2003. It was an alliance between my former
party, the Arab European League - a movement of Muslim and
Arab youth, refugees and immigrants from Latin America and
Africa and Belgian trade unionists and progressives who
were all united against the second war against Iraq.

Due to the fact that our elections results were not as good
as we might have hoped for, the leadership of my party
decided to scrap this front not only in elections but
completely from the life of the party. I refused to accept
this and resigned, for which I was expelled from the party.
But I am still convinced of the necessity of this alliance.
I'm a Grandmother and am interested in developing the
coming generations for this challenge.

In all honesty there are few in the European Left who are
ready to take up these tasks. Why is the Left as a whole so
weak?

Ashamed of our past: After World War II the Right was
defeated. However the Right patiently prepared their
comeback and this was achieved by the election of Reagan in
1980 and Thatcher in 1979. Thatcher's position of 'there is
no alternative than capitalism', and that only capitalism
can save the world, became a well known one.

Our Left acts and thinks in a way in which it seems
Thatcher taught us. Social-democrats and even many
communists became ashamed of their history apologising for
the so-called crimes of the past of the Left. Grave
mistakes and even crimes have occurred in the past in the
Socialist Camp, nevertheless it was the only world force
supporting national liberation, social justice and other
progressive causes.

Instead of saying 'please forgive us because we fought for
the working class and the oppressed' we should rather say
'let's take our tradition and adapt it to the challenges we
face'.

Islamophobia:
Most of the Left is afraid of Islam. The problem is the Left
does not itself present a holistic project for society whereas
the Islamic movement do. It is better to struggle with a
complete vision for society and the world than to struggle
without it. If the poor are attracted by the Islamic Resistance
then we in the Left have to make self-criticisms, not attack
the Islamists. If the Left can propose a complete vision of
society and the world in the interests of the working masses,
believers or not, than we can unite with others who are
struggling in the same struggle no matter what our differences
in identity. We will influence each other and develop
constructively in our common struggle.

Today I am defending the right of Muslim young women to
wear the veil in schools. Often I am arguing against
Leftists who are in favour of this ban. One can find allies
in this struggle against the banning of the Islamic
headscarf, but I can tell you that one has to have some
courage to do so.

Fear of "communalism": A third problem amongst the Left is
their failure to recognise the right of self-organisation
of oppressed peoples in the West. The Left fears this
'communalism' because it comes from the immigrant
communities.

Most of the worst paid jobs, with the worst working
conditions are undertaken by workers who come from Asia,
Africa and recently East Europe. This has always been the
case but in the past the immigrant workers mixed and
developed common struggles against the government and
bosses together with workers of all backgrounds because
hitherto they were employed in big factories and
institutions. Now these structures have largely changed.
There is a kind of apartheid amongst the working class and
a complete split in the working class is a real danger.

It is only through the struggle against capitalism and
imperialism, and also against racism and discrimination
that the working class in the US and Europe can come
together in unity. Without taking up these challenges, the
working class will remain disunited. The recognition of the
rights of communities to self-organisation is an important
step in the process of re-unifying the people.

Fear of being considered a "terrorist": Much of the Left is
intimidated from supporting liberation movements in
Palestine and Lebanon for example due to Hamas and
Hezbollah being proscribed on the list of terrorist
organisations by the US and EU. But challenging this
criminalisation is fundamental part of our struggle. It is
possible to achieve some victories on this level, as has
been proved in our defence of Bahar Kimyongur who was tried
unsuccessfully for leading a terrorist organisation.

Fears of being labelled "anti-Semitic": Although we are
united in support of the Palestinian resistance, the Left
fears being labelled 'anti-Semitic' if they refuse to
recognise the legitimacy of Israel.

As communist I am part of a tradition which fought against
fascism and Nazism. Communists protected Jews from the
concentration camps, and many communists paid the ultimate
sacrifice for this, many more than US soldiers in the war.
Therefore nobody has the right to call us anti-Semitic. It
is because our forefathers died defending Jews in the war
that we now today stand with the Palestinian people and
their resistance against Israel.

These weaknesses of the Left are real, but they can be
overcome by courage in defending our political positions
and actions.

The Left is weak today but the potential in defeating US
hegemony is growing all the time. The following are
favourable conditions for an international alliance in
support of oppressed peoples:

1. The rise of Third World countries such as China, India,
Brazil and Russia

These countries create space for developing countries to
advance in a unipolar world dominated by the US. This gives
opportunities for us in the West to develop alliances with
the rest of the world based on the principles of equality,
mutual respect and against occupation and armed aggression.

2. The resistance in the Third World

Due to the failure of the US to defeat the Iraqi resistance
they are unable to intervene in Latin America, where the
people are electing patriotic and leftist leaders like they
did before in the 1970s and '80s. Across Latin America
people are awakening around the leadership of Hugo Chavez.
Chavez's support in Venezuela is not only based on
defending the poor, but also on the internationalist
position against US Imperialism, as illustrated by his
alliance with Iran. Chavez puts forward the good old slogan
'Yankee go home!', reflecting the will of the majority of
the world.

3. The poor become poorer and the rich become richer

There is an increasingly yawning gap between the rich and
working class in Europe and the US. Even the middle class
are being attacked in the dismantling of state social
provisions following the US model. The link between the war
against the Third World and the offensive in Europe and the
US is becoming clearer to people. We just have to explain
this to people. People are not stupid, we are stupid if we
cannot explain this.

4. The increasing political role of immigrant communities
in the West

I cannot go into all the reasons why, but the growth of
immigrant communities in the West defies the 'fortress
Europe' logic, and shows that the struggles in the West are
intimately connected to the struggle of billions of people
in the rest of the world.

Perhaps we are few in the Left who are defending and
putting forward these strategies and analysis of the world,
but if we don't have the courage to resist that we will
surrender to the billionaires of the US who are advocating
the 'clash of civilisations', a clash in which we will
lose.

We in the Western Left struggle here, but we will be
stronger if we unite with leftists and militants of
countries around world who are struggling against
imperialism and for peace, social justice and democracy. It
doesn't matter if others are struggling with their
religious ideology, it is more important to unite the
working masses and the oppressed.

The main contradictions in today's world is between the few
imperialist governments and the billions of oppressed and
exploited people residing in the West and those oppressed,
occupied and aggressed by the US in the rest of the world.

May I suggest that we are not diverted from these
challenges and stay focused. It may take some time, but the
strengthening of this unity will grant us many victories.

Thank you.



Nadine Rosa-Rosso is a Brussels-based independent Marxist.
She has edited two books: "Rassembler les résistances" of
the french-language journal 'Contradictions' and "Du bon
usage de la laïcité", that argues for an open and
democratic form of secularism. She can be contacted at
nadinerr@gmail.com

2 comments:

Paash said...

Sukant you might be interested in

http://palestinethinktank.com/2009/02/11/the-left-and-support-for-anti-imperialist-islamist-resistance/

davidrail68 said...

This is a totally Marxist analysis regarding our traditional analysis of national oppression, as well as, a much needed exposure of the capitulation of the Left to anti Arab and Islamic chauvinism. Thanks for posting it. I will get it out to as many lists as possible.

Dave Walsh
Boston, U.S.
www.socialistviewpoint.org