“Our struggle in Afghanistan is part of the global struggle of the oppressed…”
[Here follows a transcript of the talk that the visiting comrade representing the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan delivered, in various versions, in Europe and Canada. Since the promised post about RAWA/ALO will probably not be given to me for a month, I figured it was best to post this general summation of the current juncture in Afghanistan which provides some background to that issue.]
In October 2001, when the imperialist coalition led by the United States launched its war of aggression to invade and occupy Afghanistan, the imperialists proclaimed that the purpose of their war was the bringing to justice of the supposed perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. But more importantly they also declared that their war would liberate the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women, and the imperialist occupation would promote democracy and a state building project that would be conducive to human rights, women’s rights and other liberal democratic values. There is no doubt that the promises sounded practically and theoretically appealing to many bourgeois and petit-bourgeois forces and intellectuals in our country, including those with some leftist pretentions.
In this talk I am going to outline the positions taken by the various camps with some kind of leftist credentials and pretentions. We can divide the left in Afghanistan into three camps: the first camp is the harbinger of national capitulationism––capitulationists with some leftist pretentions or left liberals; the second camp we will call semi-capitulationist or partially capitulationist, and the third camp is the anti-imperialist and internationalist left. (It is important to note that all three of these camps lay claim to the Maoist movement of the previous generation.)
The capitulationist camp is composed of former members and cadre of the Maoist-led New Democratic movement of past generations. In their private gatherings, sometimes even publicly, they still claim that they are the proud remnants of Afghanistan’s glorious Maoist movement. They play a very important role for the puppet regime and the imperialist occupation, serving as the intellectual and political cadre for the puppet regime and the imperialist occupation. They are members of parliament; they are ministers in the cabinet; they are close and important advisors to the president; they are in charge of the many NGOs and the so-called civil society organizations; they are widely present in the media… In short they play the “legitimating” role for the puppet regime.
This camp’s argument, its assessment of Afghanistan’s political history, can be roughly summarized in the following manner: the history of the country has been the history of the contradiction between forces of modernity and forces of tradition, and the same contradiction is still shaping the political reality of Afghanistan. According to this interpretation, on one side are the forces of tradition in the shape of the Taliban’s Islamism (being the harbinger of the worst kind of feudal values, male chauvinism, national chauvinism, animosity with any and all kinds of democratic and modern values), and on the other side is the “international community” that is trying to prop up a democratic establishment, and promoting state-building favorable to modern/liberal/democratic values, in very difficult circumstances. Therefore, those in the capitulationist camp believe it is their duty as “progressives” to side with the forces of modernity––in this case, the imperialist occupation and the puppet regime.
These left liberals of modern day Afghanistan are the intellectual foot soldiers of the imperialist occupation. They have proven to be the more consistent and reliable partners of the imperialist occupation, even more so then the Islamist wing of the Karzai-led puppet regime.
The second camp, what I have referred to as semi-capitulationist, is another very broad camp composed of several clusters of reformist left organizations. Their leftist pretentions are sometimes more pronounced than the pretentions of the first camp; initially it was very difficult to draw a demarcation line between these two camps. Indeed, at the beginning of the occupation, the primary targets of the semi-capitulationist camp’s political attacks were particular wings of the Islamist presence in the puppet regime as well as external force (i.e. “the warlords”, Taliban “terrorists”). Their only real problem with the imperialist occupation was that it had put “the bad guys” in power––the warlords, the Islamic fundamentalists, the Mujahedeen, ex-Taliban, etc.––and that, therefore, the occupiers did not have consistent anti-fundamentalist policies. The upshot of this reasoning is that, if only the good guys––them and the left liberals––had been put into power by the imperialists, then the occupation would not be a problem. As if imperialism would be nice if it chose a better puppet government.
A paradigmatic example of the semi-capitulationist camp is the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan [RAWA], an organization that defines its activities according to the above reasoning. Now, after ten years of imperialist occupation creating havoc in Afghanistan, they have slightly and rhetorically changed their discourse. After years of refusing to use the word “occupation”, now they use it here and there; to different levels and degrees they take a muted anti-occupation political position. However, they remain semi-capitulationist because they still equate the Taliban with the imperialist occupiers as the principle enemy. They show disdain for the call of armed resistance against the occupation. For the most part they are stuck within the discourse of bourgeois peace-mongering, reformism, and parliamentarianism. This position, in the context of an imperialist occupation, only means providing tacit support for the project of the imperialist occupiers. It should be noted, that the discourse of this camp is somehow projected and amplified by the social-democratic and reformist leftists in the anti-war movement in the imperialist countries. Unfortunately, on several occasions, the communist revolutionaries have also promoted the semi-capitulationist project.
The third camp, and the principal anti-imperialist force in Afghanistan, is the anti-imperialist internationalist left. This camp is composed of several Marxist-Leninist-Maoist groups and organizations, but the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan [CMPA] is the largest and the principal force that has several mass organizations under its leadership and has been mustering a revolutionary anti-imperialist resistance in the country from the very beginning of the war of aggression and occupation of Afghanistan. This camp and the CMPA have an anti-imperialist analysis of the war against our people and the occupation of our country: it identifies the principal contradiction in Afghanistan as the contradiction between the peoples of Afghanistan and the imperialist occupying forces. Thus, the CMPA is calling for a revolutionary war of people’s resistance against the imperialist occupation. It should be noted that, from a class analysis perspective, we do consider the Taliban movement as our strategic enemy; however, in the current conjuncture of the imperialist occupation, we do not consider them the principal enemy. Nor are we equating them with the puppet regime and the occupation forces. We consider the imperialist occupation and the puppet regime as the principal enemy of the people of Afghanistan. Therefore, the occupation and its puppet regime would be the main target of the revolutionary people’s war of national resistance.
The CMPA was founded in 2004, formed as a result of the unity of several older and important Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organizations: the Revolutionary Organization for the Salvation of Afghanistan, Revolutionary Alliance of the Workers of Afghanistan, and the Communist Party of Afghanistan. In 2001, when the US-led imperialist alliance invaded and occupied Afghanistan, the MLM forces and organizations in Afghanistan began a unity process to bring together the revolutionary communists into a single party in order to muster a significant revolutionary resistance to the imperialist war and occupation. The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) played an important role at the time in facilitating this unity process amongst the MLM organizations in Afghanistan. (Unfortunately, RIM, as a result of the deviationist line within its leading committee, has now collapsed and is in a paralyzed state.) Since the time of its formation, the CMPA has been the principal secular revolutionary force resisting the occupation. Under its leadership, there are several important mass organizations of workers, women, youth and students that are already producing an anti-imperialist mass movement in the country.
Although this revolutionary anti-imperialist resistance has not yet advanced to the stage of the People’s War. Nonetheless the students, youth, women and worker mass movements led by the CMPA in different parts of the country are an important pillar of the overall resistance––the principal new-democratic, revolutionary, and communist resistance––to the imperialist occupation. Now the CMPA has claimed in its recent statements that it has augmented the preparation for the start of the revolutionary People’s War of national resistance to the imperialist occupation.
It is also very important to note that we should not forget the international dimension of the struggle in Afghanistan. The imperialist powers led by the US have chosen Afghanistan as the main battleground for their project of the military grab of the planet. Therefore, they have plans of establishing long-term military bases in the country––and, so far, there seems to be a consensus among the imperialist powers over the question of Afghanistan. Thus, there is a coalition of 44 countries present with their armed forces in Afghanistan that are assisting the US imperialist project and propping up the puppet regime. And the regional reactionary powers that do not have an armed presence in Afghanistan have other very important roles in providing political, diplomatic and financial assistance to the occupation and its puppet regime. The UN umbrella is the expression of the imperialist and reactionary unity of international regional powers in regards to Afghanistan.
Similarly, the Taliban-led Islamist insurgency has the overwhelming political, military and financial support of the Islamist forces throughout the world. Pakistani Taliban, as well as other Islamist forces from Central Asia and China and the Middle East, are providing military resources, political and financial support to the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. There is no doubt that without this international Islamist assistance, it would be very difficult for the Taliban movement to sustain itself.
This international state of affairs should explain why the CMPA is very interested in the affairs of RIM and the formation of a new international communist organization. We strongly believe that the struggle in Afghanistan and the revolution in Afghanistan is part of the global struggle and world revolution against capitalism and imperialism. Since the existence of RIM has helped the unity process of the MLM organizations in Afghanistan (as well as in other countries), the existence and activities of a new international communist organization would hopefully have an immensely important political and ideological supporting role for the revolutionary struggles in Afghanistan and elsewhere. With the emergence of the Avakianist post-MLM line and the Prachanda-Bhattarai revisionist line, the RIM has collapsed. With the paralysis of RIM we believe the revolutionary struggle in Afghanistan has lost an important and internationalist dimension.
At this juncture, working towards forming a new international communist organization, or reactivating our dormant international organization, is the main internationalist task of the world-wide communist movement. It would be the practical expression of the communist motto of “workers of the world unite.” During an epoch where the imperialist capitalist system is in deep trouble, rocked by reoccurring economic and financial troubles, and where the oppressed masses are rising up to fight against this rotten system, we need such an international organization more than before in order to struggle for influencing these movements and working to provide them with a revolutionary communist dimension.
Our struggle in Afghanistan is part of the global struggle of the oppressed. Therefore, not only are we working for the revolution in Afghanistan, we are also playing our internationalist role in working towards the formation of an internationalist communist organization.