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Submitted by AWL on Wed, 27/04/2011 - 15:32

There is, in terms of arguments on the left at least, a further analogy with the first American revolution as well - namely the reactionary character of the revolutionary leaders and much of the revolutionary movement as a whole. Some on the left have made great play of the political nature of the Libyan resistance, but surely a *much* stronger case could be made against support for the American war of independence on the grounds of the revolutionary leaders' attitudes to black people, slavery and native Americans... This is how the Argentine Marxist Daniel Gaido describes the struggle:

"The American revolution was therefore a hundred percent settlers' affair: it was largely waged against the native inhabitants of the country. The other victims of English colonialism - the slaves kidnapped in Africa - also remained largely indifferent or hostile to the settlers' liberation movement, which is not surprising if we remember that Thomas Jefferson owned over 175 slaves when he wrote the Declaration of Independence... during the Revolutionary War it was the British who, for purely opportunistic reasons, granted freedom to runaway slaves reaching their lines and protected the Indian tribes west of the Appalachians from the spread of white settlement - that is from genocide. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, the leader of the left wing of the Revolution, accused the British king George III of having "excited domestic [i.e. slave] insurrections among us," and of having "endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages [sic]..." The Revolution resulted in the establishment of what historians called a Herrenvolk (ruling people or race) democracy, in which immigrants from Europe were turned into "whites" and granted political rights while Indians and slaves were excluded from the category of citizens."

And yet Barry is quite right to assume that revolutionary socialists, would, if we had been around at the time, championed the American struggle against British colonialism. And in comparison, the program of the Libyan rebels is positively progressive.

Sacha Ismail

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