The SWP and the Falklands War

Submitted by Anon on 19 April, 2007 - 7:25

In 1982, the SWP, still retaining bits of the “Third Camp” (independent working-class) political tradition exemplified by the old slogan “Neither Washington nor Moscow, but international socialism”, took a roughly similar attitude to the British-Argentine war over the Falkland Islands to that of Socialist Organiser, the forerunner of Solidarity/Workers’ Liberty.

The 4 April 2007 Socialist Worker rewrites their position (without saying that it is doing so), the better to square it with their current politics.

In 1982, the SWP was quite clear that there was no anti-colonial issue involved in the war. As Duncan Hallas put it in the May 82 issue of Socialist Review:

“We dismiss the notion that the Argentinian seizure of the Falklands is progressive on anti-colonialist grounds...

“We support anti-colonial movements as movements of struggle by oppressed people against their oppressors and we support them because, as Marx said, ‘no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations’.

“None of this has much relevance to the Falklands. There is no Spanish speaking population struggling against British imperialism. For Galtieri,’anti-colonialism’ is a convenient pretext to divert Argentinian workers away from their struggle against the dictatorship.”

This is the 2007 version:

“25 years after the war: Give the Falklands back...

“Twenty five years ago Socialist Worker refused to defend British ownership of the Falklands and opposed Margaret Thatcher’s war to wrest back control from the Argentinians.

“Today taking a clear anti-war position might not seem unusual, but in 1982 we were one of few voices, even on the left, to oppose Thatcher’s war. Tony Blair did criticise the decision to dispatch the task force, but the reaction to his words seems to have made him a fervent convert to the cause of war.

“Twenty five years ago the war in the South Atlantic seemed a throwback to a bygone imperial age. In hindsight it was part of a process where war became more and more central to the global capitalist system.

“The justification for war offered by Thatcher and Labour’s then leader Michael Foot compared the Argentinian military regime to Hitler and attacked opponents of war for appeasing fascism. The same arguments have been paraded for each of the five wars Tony Blair has taken us into since coming to office.

“The Falklands are a colonial possession, seized and re-won by force of arms. They should be returned to Argentina.”

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