War in Libya: An internationalist position from the KRAS

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We are publishing here the statement on the war in Libya put out by the KRAS, the Russian section of the anarcho-syndialist International Workers’ Association. The ICC warmly welcomes the internationalism which animates this statement. This doesn’t surprise us, because in the past the KRAS has consistently defended internationalist positions: in 2008 against the war in Georgia, and before that against the wars in Chechnya in the 1990s, rejecting any political support for the different warring bourgeois camps.

What we have in common, and what really counts for us, is the fact that an organisation like the KRAS places itself without any doubt in the camp of the international working class on a question of such fundamental importance : imperialist war.

While the war between the Russian and Georgian states, a great power and a micro-state, openly revealed its imperialist character as a confrontation between bourgeois gangs, the imperialist character of the war in Libya is veiled behind the lie that this is a ‘humanitarian’ intervention. The bourgeoisie of the states who have been intervening for weeks through massive bombing raids against the brutal and irrational Gaddafi regime have been taking advantage of workers’ sympathies for the revolts in North Africa in order to justify a war supposedly aimed at supporting the democratic wave against ‘dictators’ sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. This is a complete lie, as the KRAS statement clearly shows. Nevertheless, we want to make two short comments on the statement, essentially to stimulate discussion within our class.

We agree with the KRAS that in North African countries like Tunisia and Egypt there has been no proletarian revolution of the kind that came out of the First World War, when the working class was able to constitute itself as a class and, as in Russia, to take power. The situation in Egypt, for example, presented in the bourgeois press as a grand ‘revolution for democracy’, shows clearly that the bourgeoisie has held onto power by using an adroit strategy of dumping the Mubarak clan in favour of a government with a more democratic face. On the other hand, we think that even if the working class in these countries is still tied to illusions in democracy, nationalism and even religion, it has still been through an experience of struggle which is of considerable historical value. The methods of the working class had a real impact on the social revolts in the Arab world : tendencies towards self-organisation, occupation of central squares to assemble and organise on a massive scale, organisation of defence against thugs and police, rejection of gratuitous violence and looting, an effort to overcome religious divisions, attempts at fraternisation with rank and file soldiers… "It is no accident that these tendencies developed most strongly in Egypt where the working class has a long tradition of struggle and which, at a crucial stage in the movement, emerged as a distinct force, engaging in a wave of struggles which, like those in 2006-7, can be seen as “germs” of the future mass strike, containing a certain number of its most important characteristics: the spontaneous extension of strikes and demands from one sector to another, the intransigent rejection of state trade unions and certain tendencies towards self-organisation, the raising of both economic and political demands. Here we see, in outline, the capacity of the working class to come forward as the tribune of all the oppressed and exploited and offer the perspective of a new society"[1]

On the basis of political weaknesses, especially democratic and nationalist illusions, the situation in Libya went from an initial uprising of the population against the Gaddafi regime to becoming a war between various bourgeois cliques for the control of the Libyan state; and upon this was grafted the bloody imperialist action of the great powers. This transformation into a war between bourgeois factions was all the easier because the working class in Libya is very weak. Essentially made up of an immigrant work-force, it was mainly concerned to flee the slaughter because it could hardly recognise its own interests in a movement so dominated by nationalism. The example of Libya is a tragic negative example of the need for the working class to take centre stage in any popular revolt : its disappearance from the scene largely explains the way the situation evolved.    

Secondly, the statement from the KRAS calls on the workers of western Europe and the USA to demonstrate against this so-called humanitarian war. This call is fundamentally correct because only the working class in the countries taking part in the war in Libya could stop this massacre. For the moment however it has to be said that this option unfortunately doesn’t exist. Even if there have been protests against the NATO intervention, they have only been by a small minority. In France for example, the country most strongly involved in this war, the bombing has not been widely questioned. The war is also well supported by the parties of the left of capital. For the moment it is easy for the bourgeoisie to win acceptance for this war by speaking in the name of solidarity with those oppressed by the Gaddafi regime.

ICC, July 2011.


Down with the new war in North Africa! Declaration of Russian anarcho-syndicalists KRAS-IWA against the war in Libya

The "humanitarian" intervention of NATO states in Libya, aimed at providing military assistance to one party in a local civil war, has once again proved: there are no “revolutions” in North Africa and in the Middle East. There are only a stubborn and bitter struggles for power, profit, influence and control over oil resources and strategic areas.

Deep discontent and social-economic protests by the working masses in the region generated by global economic crisis (attacks on the living conditions of workers, increase of unemployment and poverty, spread of precarious work) are used by oppositional political groups to carry out coups, overthrowing the tyranny of the corrupt, senile dictators and rising in their place. Mobilising the unemployed, the workers, the poor as cannon fodder, discontented factions of the ruling class distract them from their social and economic demands, promising them "democracy" and "change". In fact, the coming to power of this motley bloc of "backbenchers" of the ruling elite, liberals and religious fundamentalists, will not bring the workers any changes for the better. We know well the consequences of the victory of the liberals: new privatizations, strengthening of market chaos, emergence of the next billionaires and further aggravation of poverty, suffering and misery of the oppressed and the poor. The triumph of the religious fundamentalists would mean the growth of clerical reaction, the ruthless suppression of women and minorities, and the inevitable slide towards a new Arab-Israeli war, bringing hardships that would again lay on the shoulders of the working masses. But even in the "ideal" option of establishing of representative democratic regimes in North African and Middle Eastern countries, the working people will not win anything. The worker ready to risk his life for the sake of "democracy" is like a slave who vows to die for the "right" to choose his slaveholder. Representative democracy is not worth a drop of human blood.

In the struggle for power unfolding in the region, the European NATO states and the United States even more openly side with the oppositional political groups in the hope that the victory of these forces and the "democratization" model of political domination will bring them new benefits and privileges. Supporting "democracy" in Tunisia and Egypt, they hope to strengthen its influence there, to deliver their capitalist "investors" from the corruption of dictators and to take part in the upcoming privatization of the riches of ruling clans. Helping the liberal, monarchist and religious-fundamentalist opposition in Libya, which acts in conjunction with a number of former senior officials of the Gaddafi regime, they expect to take control of rich oil reserves. Along with them, some Arab states enter into struggle for influence, having their own ambitions in the region.

The powers-that-be are going in again with bombs and shelling to "save" lives of people and to "liberate" them from dictatorships, killing more people. The governments of Western European countries and the U.S. are lying and hypocritical: yesterday they helped dictators, hugged them and sold them weapons. Today they are demanding that dictators go, "listen to the demands of the people", but do not hesitate to suppress the protests of the population in “their own” countries completely ignoring its demands. When the vast majority of the inhabitants of France or Britain, Greece or Spain, Portugal or Ireland say they do not want to pay from their pockets for state aid to banks and businesses, and demand to cancel the austerity measures, anti-social pension and labor reforms, the authorities answer to them that democracy "is not ruled by the street".

A "humanitarian" intervention gives the rulers of Western Europe and the United States a great opportunity to distract the population of countries-in-their-power from the consequences of the current crisis. The “short victorious” war for “saving people and democracy” is designed to make the European and North American workers forget about the anti-social policies of governments and the capitalists and to experience again the pride in their "humane" and "fair" rulers in a new edition of the "holy alliance" between the oppressors and the oppressed .

We call on workers of the world not to yield to the "democratic"and "humanitarian" fraud and to oppose strongly a new escalation of capitalist barbarism in North Africa and the Middle East.

If we could bring our voice to the oppressed and exploited poor in the region, over thousands-kilometres-long distances and language barriers, we would encourage them to return to the initial social and economic motives and themes of their protest, to rebel, to go on strike and demonstrations against low wages, high prices and unemployment, for social emancipation - but not to allow  themsleves to be involved  in the political games of a power struggle between different factions of the ruling classes.

We call on the workers of Europe and America to go into the streets to protest against the new "humanitarian" war in the interests of states and capitalists. We appeal to sections of the International Workers Association to increase their internationalist and anti-militarist agitation and to initiate anti-war demonstrations and strikes.


Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists,
Section of the IWA in the Russian region
July, 2011.



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War in Libya