SPGB Socialist Opposition To War - Terrorism is not Revolution.

Terrorism is not Revolution.

The recent massacre of 76 government officials in Oslo and a group of youngsters attending a political rally on the island of Utolya in Norway is depicted by the media as some inexplicable event. For the terrorist, Anders Breivik, the massacre is a political statement against “multi-culturalism” in Norwegian society and “cultural Marxism” in Europe generally. His objective is to ignite a white supremacist revolution and establish a white-only utopia.

The fantasy world of the white supremacist is most marked in the United States. One of the leading racist groups there is the White Aryan Nations. The organisation’s leading member, Louis Beam has recently written:

We do not advocate segregation. That was a temporary measure that is long past. . . .Our Order intends to take part in the Physical and Spiritual Racial Purification of ALL those countries which have traditionally been considered White lands in Modern Times. . . .We intend to purge this entire land area of every non-White person, gene, idea and influence. http://www.rthoughtsrfree.org/tocsin/xianrac.htm

These self-styled "white separatists" believe that the United States government is controlled by a conspiratorial cabal of non-whites or Jews, or a combination of both led by a “Marxist” President Obama. They seek to change this "Zionist Occupation Government" either through terror or violence, or by influencing the political mainstream. They tell their followers that crime and State “welfare” payment abuse by African Americans, immigration by Mexicans and Asians, or a fictional Jewish conspiracy are responsible for a decline in the status of white people. They accuse civil rights organizations of "hating white people" and brand whites who do not support them as race traitors or self-haters.

Over the past three decades white supremacists have undertaken terrorist acts throughout the US while many are barricaded in Montana mountain shelters with stockpiles of weapons, awaiting the final Armageddon. Now terrorist acts by a white supremacist have taken root in Europe. It will not be the last terrorist act by disaffected and alienated workers who blame other workers for the failings of capitalism.

What if these racist groups achieved their racial utopia of a White America or Europe much in the same way as Islamists want to establish an Islamic Emirate under Sharia law? Nothing in fact would change. The class ownership of the means of production and distribution would still remain intact as would class exploitation and the class struggle. And what is so special about white workers being exploited in the production process rather than black workers or the capitalist class essentially being white rather than black? None what so ever. White Supremacism, like Islamism, leads to the dead-end politics of violence, death and a cemetery.

Terrorism: An Expression of Class Society

Most countries in the world have spawned a terrorist organisation – yet another expression of class society. The white Supremacists grow out of the fear of migratory labour, the pressures of a being part of a truly world labour market, increased social alienation and the pressures exercised on the working class for jobs, housing and so on. Other terrorist groups arise out of the nationalist struggles which have been a violent consequence of capitalism’s division into competing nation states.

Terrorism, then, is as old as capitalism itself, although most people come to associate terrorism as a post-second world war phenomenon. Unquestionably people are shocked at bombing and murder, but they are shocked even more when they look at the number of ex-terrorists who are now respectively installed as heads of government, or ministers of state within the areas of their previous violent activities.

Who remembers the Stern Gang, the Jewish terrorists of the nineteen forties; the Mau-Mau of Jomo Kenyatta; the Algerian and Moroccan terrorists of the early 1970’s who have now transformed themselves from secular terrorists fighting a nationalist struggle into Islamists proclaiming a “jihad” on the “crusaders” from Europe.? The late Yassar Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, whose talents consisted in organising the hi-jacking and destruction of aircraft, the slaughter of air-line passengers and attacks on school-children with Russian weaponry, became the head of the embryonic state of Palestine to be embraced by President Bush at the White house as a dear friend and peaceful statesman. Nelson Mandela is now a revered statesman, a role model for children and is feted by politicians and celebrities alike but he was considered a terrorist not only by the South African Apartheid regime but by the British government under Margaret Thatcher and by the United States who still apparently had his name on their “terrorist watch list” as late as 2008.

Of course the semantics of whether someone is a “terrorist” or a “freedom fighter” is highly subjective and prone to changes in the political wind of capitalism’s stormy realpolitik. The command structure of the IRA, now respected politicians one and all, were once “freedom fighters” in the eyes of the capitalist Left while they were “terrorists” to the British government. However, their nomenclature was irrelevant to the hundreds of men, women and children who were killed and maimed by semtex explosives, incendiary devices and bullets paid for by supporters of Sien Fein in the US where it was easier for Gerry Adams to gain entry into the country and visit the White House in 1995 during the “troubles” than it was for the “terrorist”, Nelson Mandela who had to wait to 2008 to become “one of us”. The former terrorist, who has become respectable, like the 17th century pirate Captain Morgan who went on to become governor of Jamaica, is more virtuous and dedicated to upholding the state authority on the one hand while on the other hand is firmly riveted to the state coffers – who shall have the legal right of exploiting the working class within their borders, and who shall own and control the wealth of the community.

The fact that most terrorist organizations have idealistic objectives like freeing the population from the tyranny of Imperialism, or restoring the rights of minorities, which incidentally is invariably coupled with territorial demands usually for mineral-bearing land or sea, does not alter the capitalist nature of their objectives, nor will it make any difference to the end result as far as the working class are concerned. A successful coup by a terrorist organization will only produce a change of ruling class, as capitalism will continue. The entire history of terrorist organisations from the 19th century onwards is proof of this.

No modern capitalist state will allow its authority to be undermined by a minority using violence. Only in a backward country under Colonial rule where the franchise is absent, and political representation stifled, can a nationalist terrorist organization have any chance of success. In any case, most nationalist movements are sponsored and supported by other countries; like the rebels in Libya who are being supported by France, the US and Britain. In the world today the independence of little powers only exists on paper. The US government supports a myriad of regimes through transferring money directly to the government and armed forces in question. Client states are bought.

State Terrorism

There is always an antagonism between major powers due to their conflicting interests, consequently they will support and encourage any action, violent or otherwise which will weaken their opponents. The terrorist organizations of all countries receive aid in the form of arms, or financial aid, and ideological support in the form of propaganda. The present struggle in Afghanistan has the Taliban supported by Iran and sections of the ruling class in Pakistan. Before that, the US had supported terrorists against the Russian-backed Soviet government.

Murder, assassination, kidnapping are not the preserve of the terrorist organizations. State terrorism is just as pervasive whether it is the US, Russia, China, Israel, France, Britain and other capitalist States. Socialists do not take sides. We do not see the terrorist actions of capitalist states through a moral prism of good and evil. Capitalist states indulge in war and terrorism because of international rivalry over strategic points of interest, trade routes and scarce resources.

In his on-line book, AMERICAN STATE TERRORISM: A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE OBJECTIVES OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN THE POST-WORLD WAR II PERIOD, http://www.mediamonitors.net/mosaddeq13.html, N. Ahmed has studied the terrorist actions of the United States in Central America; its support of the Somozan Dictatorship, the intervention in Nicaragua, Chile and Vietnam and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He gives two excellent quotations among many. The first from the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff written in 1948 at the start of the Cold War, headed at the time by George Kennan. This is what the report from the Policy Planning Staff noted:

We have about 50 per cent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 per cent of its population... Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming… We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction... We should cease to talk about vague and... unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we will have to deal in straight power concepts.

And the second quotation is from the British historian Mark Curtis, former Research Fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs. He wrote:

Mutual Anglo-American support in ordering the affairs of key nations and regions, often with violence, to their design has been a consistent feature of the era that followed the Second World War… Policy in, for example, Malaya, Kenya, British Guiana and Iran was geared towards organising Third World economies along guidelines in which British, and Western, interests would be paramount, and those of the often malnourished populations would be ignored or further undermined. Similarly, US interventions overseas - in Vietnam, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Chile, etcetera - were designed to counter threats to the Western practice of assigning the Third World to mere client status to Western business interests. British and US forces have acted as mercenary - and often extremely violent - mobs intended to restore ‘order’ in their domains and to preserve the existing privileges of elites within their own societies.

A same analysis of Russian capitalism from 1945 or Chinese capitalism from 1948 would provide similar results, similar quotations and a similar track record of State Terrorism.

Where is the Dissent?

Violence is not something which is natural to men and women otherwise there would be no need for the violent indoctrination of recruits or enforced enlistment into the armed forces. Killing someone is difficult and peaceful-co existence is what the overwhelming people try to achieve in their lives.

In fact there were 639 murders in Britain in 2009 which makes violent civilian death rare while tens of thousands are annually slaughtered world-wide in capitalism’s wars. Most people recoil at violence and violent behaviour which is why there is so much revulsion at the killing of dozens of young people in Norway but these same people remain largely silent at the violence undertaken by capitalist governments.

And it did not take the Norwegian politicians long to muscle in to be photographed in hypocritical solemnity in front of Oslo Cathedral. For it was quietly forgotten that Norway makes up a group of countries currently killing men, women and children in Afghanistan and Libya. State sanctioned violence is deemed acceptable but individual acts of terrorism are reviled. Such is the tortured logic of capitalism’s politicians.

Where in Norway is the condemnation of State violence? There is a difference in degree but no difference in principle in a deluded individual shooting dead unarmed youngsters and a professional killer firing hawk missiles into villages killing women and children. An officially sanctioned mortar round will kill just as surely as a car bomb. There is of course no reflection on this hypocrisy because the Labour Government in Norway, like its counterpart in Britain, has to involve itself in capitalism’s wars. Looking at the photographs of the dead, some of whom were being groomed as future politicians, searching question need to be asked. How many of the dead supported Norway’s war in Afghanistan and Libya? How many were committed to supporting a system of violence – capitalism? And where was the dissent?

Socialism or Capitalism’s Wars, Violence and Terrorism

War, violence and terrorism are not instruments which can be used in the establishment of Socialism. The modern state represents the ultimate development of the social power of coercion and destruction. The armed forces are under the control of the political machinery. The control of the political machinery is based upon universal suffrage. This means that if the workers vote capitalist representatives to the seats of government, as they habitually do, they can, if they have a mind to, vote them out of office.

It is not that the working class are enthusiastic supporters of capitalism – their experiences have taught them to expect little from any party. It is because at the moment they see no alternative to capitalism. This is a situation Socialists hope to remedy. The establishment of socialism is not just based on the control of the political machinery: this is the end of the process. Socialism is not a change of government; it is a fundamental change in the nature and purpose of society. It is a democratic body of social opinion which provides the mandate for the continuance of Socialism.

For this reason terrorist organizations can never be revolutionary or Marxist for the following reasons:

* They are dictatorial
* They repudiate the class struggle
* Their objectives are non-Socialist.

By the same token, terrorist organizations or another other form of minority insurrection could never succeed in removing Socialism once established. Force cannot be successfully employed against a body of ideas. Unless the working class stop holding nationalist and religious ideas and resist involving themselves in the constant squabble between capitalists over the division of society’s wealth then individual and state terrorism will continue. Workers, as a matter of urgency, have to organise consciously and politically to get control of the politically machinery in order to establish Socialism. In the meantime, let the supporters of capitalism reflect on terrorism and the consequences of terrorism: their system caused it.

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Object and Declaration of Principles


The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles


1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.

5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.