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Submitted by Daniel_Randall on Sat, 27/09/2008 - 20:22

Jason -

Yes, we can agree on immediate practical tasks like raising awareness and support for Iranian workers' struggles. But carrying out those tasks - and I for one would like to work with as many other left groups and individuals in doing that - doesn't preclude, and in fact must be supported by, serious debate about the politics of the matter.

Those debates shouldn't be hindered by deference to "anti-imperialist" dogma or blind loyalty to formulas. We're attempting to have those debates within the AWL and with others, through public meetings and on this website. Picking over exactly what PR's position on this question is probably doesn't amount to much in the grand-scheme of things but at the moment this is, in the main, a debate between a PR member and some AWL members so I think it's perfectly reasonable to discuss the respective positions of our organisations.

You dismiss the idea of third-campism by raising the idea that there are only two camps in the world - "workers and the bourgeoisie" - and that our job is to be for the workers. Well, fine; that's perfectly true on a certain level (notwithstanding "petty bourgeois" grey areas), but what happens when different forces within the camp of the bourgeoisie come into conflict with each other?

We in the AWL believe that our job is still to be "for the workers", and our objection to PR's position is that we believe it undermines working-class independence by giving support (on whatever level) to one bourgeois element against another. Third-campism is a perspective that, rather than taking sides in conflicts between capitalist forces, works consistently to develop and build up working-class organisation independently of and against all reactionary elements - regardless of whether they're "anti-imperialist" or not. Do you agree with this perspective? If so, can't you see how PR's current position of supporting the victory of non working-class "anti-imperialist" forces in the "semi-colonial" world (the Iranian government, for example) against US imperialism undermines this?

You still advocate the theory of the "anti-imperialist united front". I don't believe you've meaningfully explained in any way how Iraqi or Iranian labour organisations might construct such a "united front" with, for example, the Mahdi Army or the Iranian government (two forces whose victory over US imperialism PR would see as desirable and progressive).

Protesting that left groups don't have to be politically monolithic is just obfuscation; if you hold a minority view then fine - good for you - but as myself and Martin have pointed out you should be open about this and argue for it within your organisation. As I've said before, the simple reality is that the politics you're (muddleheadedly, in my view, but never mind...) advocating here are incompatible with the stated position of your organisation vis a vis, for example, the "anti-imperialist united front".

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