On the 7th of March 1993, it will be two years since a proletarian insurrection took place in Iraq.
It was on the 7th of March 1991 when, largely in Iraqi Kurdistan, the long insurrectionary process that had shaken the whole of Iraq reached one of it's highest points. During this process, the proletariat had expressed itself against the war and against all bourgeois forces in the region: the Ba'ath secret police, Republican Guards, nationalists, local and religious authorities,... This struggle showed proletarians all over the world the only path to follow if wars are to be eliminated forever.
Since then, the international bourgeoisie has done all it can to repress the movement. The nationalists, democrats from all tendencies, humanitarian organisations, the UN and ba'athists, pacifists, all different kinds of religious followers,... shared the job of crushing us. By concentrating on disarming and recruiting proletarians into nationalist militias, they also sabotaged our internationalism and contributed to the local reorganisation of the State by arranging elections. Without doubt, another aspect of the action aiming to crush us was the complete black-out by the worldwide media as regards the social situation in Iraq.
This insurrectionary process has been recounted at length in various issues of our central review. A detailed analysis can be found in our French-language review Communisme (formerly Le Communiste), issues No. 33 ("War or Revolution"), 34 ("Revolutionary defeatism in Iraq") and No. 36 ("Proletariat against nationalism") and in our English central review Communism, issue No. 7 ("War or Revolution" and "A comrades' testimony: a journey to Iraq"). There is also other information on this question in the framed texts below.
The insurrectionary process in Iraq started to materialize between the 26th and the 28th of February 1991, first due to the existence of thousands of armed deserters wandering around the city of Basra and a number of neighbouring villages and second, as the central State apparatus started to lose control of the situation. On the 4th of March, in Basra, this process reached another qualitative step as columns of tanks, retreating from Kuwait, shot at symbols of the regime. Clashes took place in different working areas of Baghdad. It was precisely these areas that were bombed by allied forces at that time. On the 4th, 5th and 6th of March, the insurrection spread to the following cities: Nasiryah, Amara, Najaf, Karbala, Hila, Kut,... The insurrection in Raniyah, on the 5th of March, marked a generalisation of the insurrection to other regions of Iraq. On the 7th of March, the armed proletariat destroyed one of the most important strongholds of the regime in Sulaimania. On the 8th of March it was Kalar's turn , on the 9th the insurrection spread to Koya, on the 10th to Shatlana. On the 11th of March the proletariat rose up in Arbil and the next day the whole area was in the hands of proletarians. On the 13th of March the last of the Ba'athist resistance was defeated in Aqra, on the 14th in Duhok and on the 15th in Zakho. On the 16th and 17th of March, whole columns of insurgents, setting off from all the cities where they had triumphed, planned to liberate the city of Kirkuk; but the Ba'athist airforce made this task very difficult and the insurrectionary movement paid a toll of thousands of deaths. In spite of these massacres, important battles were still fought and entire barracks were commandeered by the insurrection, e.g.the command of the military region for the whole of Kurdistan, near Sulaimania. Finally, between the 19th and the 21st of March, the insurrection triumphed in Kirkuk, but this city fell back into Ba'athist hands a few days later.
This poster, signed "Internationalist proletarians", (reproduced at the end of this text), recalls that nationalism, patriotism, pacifism, parliamentarism and, even more specifically today, international "humanitarianism", directed by the UN amongst others, are nothing else but universal weapons for repression of the proletariat.
This poster was published in several languages (English, Spanish, French, Kurdish, Arabic, German,...) by comrades of the ICG, other close contacts and groups from different countries. It was fly-posted, with the help of different contacts and groups of proletarians, on the walls of cities in England, France, Germany, Spain, Iraq,... "On the fringe of this initiative", to use the same terminology as another poster ("This poster has been produced on the fringe of an international initiative by several groups gathered under one specific signature: INTERNATIONALIST PROLETARIANS."), a similar action took place in Quebec. However, comrades over there chose to put their own signature to the poster and to develop their own slogans, thus unfortunately expressing their own particularism, rather than affirming the common contents of internationalist communist action stemming from our homogeneous class interests. We explain below how vital it is today to counteract all the particularisms that Capital constantly imposes on us in order to divide the proletariat, by asserting ourselves as a community of struggle with identical interests and objectives, rather than as a mere collection of different groups.
We would like to take this opportunity to stress the profound significance of the presence and activities of the international bourgeois coalition today in Iraq: despite differing interests, they are capable of exemplary unity of action when it comes to defending the heavily shaken bourgeois order. We also want to stress that in the face of this, in the face of Capital, the assertion of our own terrain of struggle, ie internationalism, is neither a matter of choice for us, nor merely an adjective that we add to certain local activities, but is a matter of life or death for the proletariat.
It is in this framework that we often stress the universal being that is the proletariat: we are a single international class and the same enemy faces us everywhere. The whole strength of the bourgeoisie consists precisely of denying (through the combined action of the world media) the universal character of the conditions of struggle of the proletariat, so as to confine each revolt within its specific characteristics.
Denial of the worldwide character of the proletariat is not just "theoretical", but materialises and is structured forcefully by permitting the bourgeoisie to impose the terrain which suits it best in order to defeat the proletariat. In other words, by making the proletariat "forget" that it constitutes a single universal class and imposing the terrain of confrontation that suits it best, the bourgeoisie manages to dictate the framework of war it sends us to : the international unified force of the bourgeoisie against the isolated activity of our class, confined to such or such an area.
The bourgeoisie uses different methods in order to impose this terrain, its own terrain, and to succeed in isolating proletarians country by country: the repression of all direct links between proletarians of different countries, campaigns to falsify, minimise and rubbish the struggles so as to cut them off from their fellow proletarians more easily, blockades, white terror,... Bourgeois politics for the proletariat, typical social-democratic politics, materialise more particularly by keeping the proletariat of each country within its confines, transforming its "international" activity into activities by proxy, mediation, petitions, of "solidarity" by way of cheques and telegrams. Social-democracy always has its proposals for "internationalism" at the ready, as a means of preventing the struggle of the proletariat in that area against its "own" State.
Let us explain ourselves in the light of history.
The wave of struggle between 1917 and 1923 was characterised by an unrivalled generalisation of revolutionary development: from Europe to the Middle East, Latin America to India, the revolutionary movement overrode national borders, allowing the call for international organisation of the proletariat to reverberate throughout the world. The Communist International was, without doubt, an attempt to respond to the bourgeois desire to isolate the proletariat in Russia. This partial response took the form of, amongst other things, various sorts of sabotage and internationalist action against the armies sent to wage war on insurgent proletarians in Russia. Setting up the Communist International and its Manifesto in 1919 contributed to an intensification of the international insurrectional movement (Germany, Hungary, Bavaria, Austria, Portugal, Brazil) in which the proletariat waged a revolutionary war against its "own State", its "own bourgeoisie". In spite of this, the Communist International (leaving aside the historical responsibility of the Bosheviks) was not, unfortunately, a true break from the social-democratic conception of a federation of national parties. Each national communist party (with a few exceptions, such as some practical splits made by the K.A.P.D.) continued to be determined by contingencies of opinion based on struggles that were occurring "nationally", a weakness that opened the door for the bourgeoisie to first slow down, then destroy the revolution. Struggle by struggle, nation by nation, international bourgeois forces were able to impose war with their allies. The strength of the bourgeoisie thus resided in its capacity to impose the terrain upon which it is historically strongest: that of struggle launched within the framework of a nation, in which the balance of forces develops between local proletarians on one hand, and international bourgeois forces on the other. It is precisely when the proletariat showed its internationalism, when our class could structure a common and international response to social war, that the bourgeoisie felt at its weakest. Thus the international proletariat acted to support the insurrection of October 1917 in Russia, breaking the bourgeois information blockade, prolonging revolutionary defeatism in all camps and stopping the war, subsequently taking on different levels of action.
However, in this context one must take into account the immense difficulties that confronted the insurgent proletariat in Mexico or Russia, for example, in trying to communicate news across borders about what was going on. Throughout the rest of the world, the proletarian insurrections in Mexico (1910-1914) and Russia (1917-1919) were portrayed as simple anti-dictatorial popular uprisings. With this aim, Social Democracy had a ready-made theory - that of backward countries, their need for bourgeois revolution and/or "proletarian" revolution to develop bourgeois democratic tasks. This ideology not only led pseudo-anarchists and other social democrats to deny the proletarian character of the Mexican and Russian insurrections, but also led organisations such as the KAI, who had broken away from the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, to sink into the deepest confusion on the issue.
If we apply what we have just described to what is at stake today in Iraq, we can see that it is in the bourgeoisie's interest to confront each one of our class's actions by limiting it to a single region and opposing it with an amalgamation of international forces (Kurdish nationalists, allied forces, UN, humanitarian and religious organisations...) This is rudimentary for the politico-military force reproducing Capital, which aims to destructurise every assertion of our class homogeneity, by attacking all forms of our expression. On our side, we find it very difficult to act as a single unified force, but our enemies are capable of uniting all their forces, in an instant, to crush us whenever it proves necessary.
All our activity -asserting ourselves as the worldwide proletariat- must aim to break with the isolation with which the bourgeoisie tries to confine our struggle in Iraq. All of our energy must be directed at extending the direct action we are carrying out in this region by direct action in the rest of the world. We must shatter the isolation, smash the bourgeois ability to isolate some of us and repress us, whilst our class brothers remain indifferent elsewhere.
To this end we must, more than ever, assert our struggle in Iraq as a moment of the worldwide proletariat's struggle. We must declare ourselves to be a single body, a single class, united in the living conditions imposed on us internationally and, moreover, in the worldwide struggle we are waging to abolish our condition as wage-labourers.
Unfortunately, we have come across huge misunderstandings on this issue, even with comrades who are close to us and who claim to agree with our positions.
We have been confronted with a lot of difficulties around the issue of producing a common poster. There was organisational resistance, in keeping with the present sectarian period, which manifested itself in a reluctance to take part in the production and flyposting of the poster or in considering us to be wrong in taking on our own responsibility as a group in signing the poster.
There was also some doubt concerning the information given by our comrades. Some contacts demanded proof (!?) of our assertions, others purely and simply denied the insurrectional character of the proletarian explosions which took place in Iraq and only accepted the information... when the bourgeois press published it in part. Over and above great declarations of principle, we see an expression of submission to the State in all of this: information broadcast by the bourgeois media are more readily accepted than those transmitted, with all the imaginable attendant difficulties, via our militant network.
There were also misunderstandings about the task itself which was considered to be an isolated activity. However, it is impossible to grasp the significance of this international initiative without placing it in the context of its being a further action in our assertion of internationalist activity, community of struggle and organisation of international communist action.
There were other misunderstandings about the task itself, too often brought down to the level of "solidarity from us here to them over there" (according to the point of view of those in regions other than the Middle East); conversely, it was seen as a call from "here- Iraq- for those elsewhere to have solidarity with us". In reality it was an activity by the international proletariat "here" and "there" against our enemies "here" and "there".
Finally, stemming from the previous misunderstandings, this activity was considered to be a mediation, a simple advertising campaign for such and such a group of proletarians, rather than a counter-attack on the concerted activity of the worldwide bourgeoisie to isolate a regional faction of our class in order to be better able to crush it.
In general, we are faced with a parliamentary and federalist conception of proletarian unity, in which contacts, instead of pushing for united international action, keep stressing their own particular characteristics, stating that each individual group should be consulted on each of the various slogans or signatures..., without realising that this is a congressional and confederational conception belonging to Social Democracy, practically opposed to the community of struggle and that to accept such criteria by way of thousands of paralysing communications, would transform our community of struggle into a parliament (1).
The elections for a national Kurdish parliament were a decisive moment for the action of the worldwide bourgeoisie against our class. At the time, our enemies did not let an opportunity for provocation and falsification slip them by. The media in Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq did all it could to develop the confusion between the positions of internationalist communists and the nationalists. The climax of these campaigns was, without doubt, the announcement by various nationalist radio stations- up to several times a day- that our organisation, the ICG, had called for participation in the Kurdish elections. This was despite the fact that, right from the beginning, our activities in the region had been against all nationalists and all parliaments. Once again, we stress that the very basis upon which our group arose is invariably against democracy and the nation and that any person or group placing our group in the framework of any sort of process of electoral and/or national reform, is acting directly against our programmatical basis. At best, it could be a mistake or falsification of our positions; but in most cases it must be the result of provocation incited by the Home Office or National Defence Ministry.
On the one hand, our comrades in Iraq claim that their strength is our strength and that it is precisely our international force that is preventing the allied counter-revolutionary forces from transforming the local reorganisation of the State into an open offensive. They have told us that the action taken by ICG and other internationalist groups in Europe and elsewhere is preventing our direct enemies (nationalists of all tendencies in Kurdistan) from carrying out systematic attacks on our comrades, because it makes the nationalists more vulnerable.
On the other hand and simultaneously, we try to lead this type of direct action in Europe and in America, yet some close comrades tell us that they don't see the point in such activities; they distrust the information we give them; they say that they would agree if they could add a different signature; they agree with one slogan but not with the other; they state that this kind of activity is pure propaganda, useless in the present situation because nowadays the proletariat "here" is not interested in what's going on "over there", etc...
In short, just at the time when our comrades insist that we maintain the pressure against nationalists, we are faced with thousands of sectarian, anti-organisative and individualistic pretexts that, in spite of their intentions, contribute to the isolation of vanguard sectors of the worldwide proletariat and to the repression of our comrades.
With our very meagre resources we have struggled to ensure an improved centralisation of various structures in the region. In the face of a total lack of means of communication with Iraq (no international post or telephone) we have undertaken serious efforts to find other ways of international internal contact.
Taking the enormous international importance of the events experienced in the region into account, as well as the exceptional interest that the proletariat there brings to our positions, we have decided to publish a new central review in Kurdish, in addition to the development of the Arabic central review and publishing the Theses of our programmatical direction in Arabic. If possible, we intend to publish, along with other groups of proletarians, a local review with the title "The Internationalist Proletarian" , with the aim of providing a wider framework for direct action and propaganda in the region of Iraq.
The flyposting and production of the poster undertaken by militants in various countries should be understood along the same lines. It was not a question of having "solidarity with" proletarians in Iraq, but rather one of acting together to assert the same struggle, interests, community, force, in a way that the bourgeoisie would find it impossible to wipe us out "bit by bit".
It is important to us that the distinction is made between false solidarity, which is seen to be a spectacular communication fictitiously linking workers of different countries and effective solidarity, resulting from common struggle.
Posters or leaflets calling for solidarity "here" with those "over there", appealing for compassion, for petitions, fundraising, for letter-writing to our torturers or asking for the help of parliamentarians...are not only harmless for the bourgeoisie, but also constitute Social Democratic politics par excellence, aiming to compartmentalise proletarian needs, such as the liberation of imprisoned comrades, the denunciation of repression in one area and the need to spread information about our comrades' struggles. They constitute bourgeois politique for the proletariat par excellence, because they transform the need for direct action against Capital into collaboration with the bourgeoisie. The extreme opposite of this is proletarian direct action, communism against Capital. Distributing leaflets or posters, depending on their form and content, is part of this activity if it takes place in a worldwide perspective, in line with the fact that the proletariat has only one kind of solidarity with its class brothers: direct action against its own bourgeoisie. Instead of calling for compassion or admiration for activity elsewhere, communist propaganda and agitation aims to facilitate generalisation of the struggle, aims to show that, here and now, the contradictions are fundamentally the same. If proletarians are active elsewhere, it is not a result of specific local characteristics, but is because of general reasons which concern "us" directly... which imply that "we" can and must act as well. Our poster is evidence that the activities of the Iraqi proletariat has illustrated the only possible way to eliminate wars for ever.
The flyposting that was carried out is much more than just flyposting to us, communists in Iraq, Iran, England, Spain, Germany, France, North and South America and elsewhere. It was a specific and modest manifestation of the worldwide force that the proletariat aims to structure. In its attempt- albeit very weak- to put the poster up at the same time in different parts of the globe, the proletariat forced its social enemy to fight on less secure grounds than it is used to. There is nothing better for nationalist, humanitarian and religious organisations than to concern themselves with "each proletariat" according to "its" national flag (this is how the bourgeoisie sees it!).
By forcing the bourgeoisie to fight on its sinking sand of directly international proletarian activity, we will prevent the crushing of our struggle in Iraq and can prepare tomorrow's struggles.
It is not a question of making platonic appeals for international support, but, with the help of all sections of the proletarian vanguard and militants from the world over, of counter-attacking politically the international bourgeoisie and its attempts to liquidate, by way of humanism and nationalism, some of our best comrades.
Let us repeat once again, today dominant defeatism combines with Social-Democracy's historical programme to deny the importance of such an initiative. The key to social-democratic policy on this precise issue is the reality of a weak level of consciousness regarding the existence of our class as a worldwide class, which it uses to wipe out any possibilities of direct action and to divide the proletariat by arguing that there are "objectively different situations in each country" as a way of justifying the impossibility of carrying out action "here and now". The bourgeoisie intervenes to impose silence on the proletariat, forcing it to resort to bourgeois intermediaries (inactivity, in reality), explaining that what goes on "here" has nothing in common with what happens "there" and that the only thing to do is to go via the common channels offered by society to show "solidarity": "make a poster here about the situation over-there", "make a poster here for the people here", send a protest letter, a delegation, or some money...
The historical opposition between parliamentarism and direct action is at play at this level.
Parliamentarism and democracy aim to broadcast their activity to the hilt, to separate decisions from action and theory from practice, advising proletarians of all countries to organise activities of "solidarity" by proxy...
The direct action and communist camp aims to carry out violent direct action against its enemy, not in this sense of immediate violence (as far as the international poster we are discussing is concerned), but in the sense of asserting our struggle on our own terrain: that of directly international confrontation, that of the assertion- unbearable for the bourgeoisie- of our community of struggle, of our common being.
When proletarians from a dozen countries act together (despite all the present constraints) and plan an activity to carry out together (if possible, simultaneously) against the same enemy, in the face of the same indifference, fighting for the same interests and objectives... they are carrying out a violent counter-attack on the bourgeoisie.
We are aware of the tragic discrepancy that exists today between the aggression that our class undergoes more or less throughout the world and the difficulties we have in reacting to these attacks. In this sense, we know that this common activity, like all the other activities that have been taken to centralise our struggle in Iraq, is really only a drop in the ocean compared to the enormity of the tasks we need to accomplish. It is obvious that we will need to undertake, against the tide, far more than these initiatives to undo this system of death that suffocates us.
In spite of this and in the context of a tragic absence of structures for international proletarian centralisation, it is important to us to stress the fact that several comrades from different backgrounds, living in different parts of the world have taken the initiative to centralise themselves against the tide of anti-organisationalism and dominant sectarianism and have thus been able to experience, by acting as one, a necessary moment of the "Growing Union" of the proletariat with a view to the definitive abolition of this world of death.
Today, we need this community of practical direct action more than ever. Its links are forged in common activity and it is from these links, against current sectarianism and individualism, that the seeds of an internationalist communist organisation of the proletariat will grow and will destroy the inhuman barbarity to which we are subjected.
Yesterday the 7th march 1991, revolutionary insurrection in Iraq against war and all capitalist forces showed proletarians all over the world that there is only one path leading to permanent elimination of all wars.
As always, on the other side of the barricade, Capital's forces worldwide act as one to decimate our class autonomy.
Today the 7th march 1993, Nationalists, Democrats, pacifists, humanitarian organisations,... continue to mobilise to crush us in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Somalia, El Salvador,...
CM 8.2 Let's not leave the choice of arms to the bourgeoisie ...
Direct action and Internationalism !
Concerning an international poster