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Communists and the Iraqi Resistance November 12, 2003 by RedStar2000


"You are either with us or against us" says "president" George W. Bush...and quite rightly. For communists, you are either opposed to U.S. imperialism or, in one sense or another, you end up supporting it.

This collection concerns the dilemma of an "unsavory" ally. We know that the Iraqi resistance is in no sense communist or even pro-communist; most would be regarded as reactionary by any objective standard.

Nevertheless, I "support" them...in the same sense that I support any resistance to the American Empire, no matter what their motivations might be.

What Russia was to 19th century Europe--the fortress of reaction--America is to the entire world today. All American military adventures and economic penetrations are irrevocably reactionary.

Only the catastrophic defeat of U.S. imperialism will "open the way" for the possibility of communist revolutions...even in America itself. Especially in America itself.


=========================================

Yes, I agree that it would have been really great if the Iraqis would have consulted us first and put together a resistance movement that we could feel nice and comfy about.

Unfortunately, the "rag-heads" have their own agendas.

And the only "progressive" part of those agendas is kicking the U.S.'s ass out of their country.

Very disappointing, to be sure.

However, there is a bright spot in all this. The more damage the Iraqis can inflict on the U.S. forces there, the more difficult it will be for American imperialists to muster a semblance of popular "support" for their next war of conquest. (And, believe me, they have a list.)

You see, we are not "obligated" to "apologize" for the political nature of the Iraqi resistance...or any other resistance to U.S. imperialism. The fact that they resist serves our purpose...undermining the "legitimacy" of "our own" imperialism.

That's something that was often overlooked in 20th century anti-imperialist movements in the west. The feeling was that you had to find something "good" to say about this or that resistance movement "in order" to oppose imperialism. (And if you couldn't find anything "good", then you were "obligated" to make something up.)

Avoiding that error, I am largely indifferent to the political character of the Iraqi resistance--or that which currently takes place in any other country.

What I want to see is the catastrophic defeat of U.S. imperialism, the rise of hatred in the American people for monopoly capitalism and its wars of conquest, and proletarian revolution here!

I'm not an Iraqi or even an Arab; I don't live in Iraq or anywhere in the Arab world; and I'm perfectly content to let those folks work out their own destiny...as a Marxist, I figure they'll come around to communism when they feel that the time is right for that.

But in the meantime, every American soldier or Iraqi quisling that they kill serves to weaken, ever so slightly, the monster that I want to kill...U.S. imperialism.

And do not be so certain that the Iraqi resistance "can't win"...more than one country has inflicted "the death of a thousand cuts" on its "conquerer".

It can happen again.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 1, 2003
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quote:

Yes, but the continued resistance will allow for the Republicans to request more money, and to continue the occupation longer under the false pretext of security.


Without resistance, why should they ever leave...at least until they've trained an entire generation of Iraqis to bend the knee to U.S. imperialism?

It's like saying that if only the French had stopped resisting, the Nazis would have all gone back to Germany.

quote:

And the Democrats will fall all over themselves to support the US military and back Fuhrer Bush's next war budget.


No argument from me on that one.

quote:

Unfortunately, the resistance, in its current form will never force America out of Iraq...


Emphasis added...because you are quite right. It will take a much larger and much more violent resistance to do the job.

But it's a good start.

quote:

The resistance stands only for fundamentalism and dictatorship in its present state.


Most likely you're correct, as least for the moment. But that's not our responsibility. We're not "in charge" of Iraq's future, good or bad. The Iraqis themselves must struggle over their future...and our "good advice" is irrelevant to their concerns.

I'm sure we could all "design" a really terrific resistance movement for Iraq...the difficulty is that I don't think they are real interested in our priorities.

They have their own.

quote:

...however the way things are going I doubt the Iraqi people will ever get to decide their own destiny...


Why so pessimistic? It seems to me that sooner or later, it is inevitable that Iraqis will decide their destiny independent of U.S. imperialism...unless you want to argue that the American Empire is "eternal".

All empires like to pretend they are "immortal"...none have yet realized that ambition.

quote:

Yes, but a few hundred dead soldiers will not stop the Behemoth of US imperialism, the US will invade other countries notwithstanding massive casualties. We saw that in Vietnam, and that war went on for over 10 years, leaving over 50,000 dead Americans. Only we in the west can stop imperialism, at the home front.


No, I think that's historically wrong. When a resistance movement begins to inflict severe casualties on the aggressor, that is what makes the beginning of a resistance "at home" possible.

If and when the U.S. starts losing one or two hundred soldiers per week, then resistance inside the U.S. will begin to get a lot more serious.

And there is also the demoralization of the occupation troops themselves that becomes a factor. One reason that the U.S. had to withdraw from Vietnam is that much of its army refused to fight...not in open mutiny but in deliberate avoidance of enemy troops and combat situations. "Seek and destroy" missions became "Hide and Don't Seek" missions...and gung-ho commanders who insisted on combat perished from live grenades rolled into their tents.

I have a feeling that no one is volunteering for convoy duty in occupied Iraq these days.

quote:

How can you say you are glad when American and British soldiers are killed? Did they have a choice whether they wanted to go there or not?


People always have a choice.

quote:

I have many friends over there now who don't want to be there...do you want them to die?


If they don't want to be there, they should leave. Commandeer a vehicle and drive to Jordan or Syria or Iran (it's not a long trip) and apply for political asylum.

Otherwise, they'll get what they deserve...and you will have to make some new friends.

quote:

...however with the US in its current state the Army is the only option for many poor kids.


No it isn't. Most poor kids do not join the army, do not become cops or violent criminals, etc.

Those who do become those things have much to answer for.

quote:

Define the Iraq resistance...do you plan on supporting the lot?


Any and all is fine with me...as long as they inflict damage on U.S. (and British) imperialism. The more damage they inflict, the more I'll "like" them.

quote:

Those legitimate freedom fighters, if they exist are indeed in a minority, will these people take up arms in a fit of rage and be killed, or will they help to build a movement to overthrow the corrupt governing council in a working class revolution, that is the main question.


I don't think a "working class revolution" would mean very much--considering the level of political consciousness in a place like Iraq, it would probably be a Leninist dictatorship and might even resemble North Korea.

You seem to suggest that Iraqis should not violently resist the occupation "lest they be killed". You don't have to be part of the resistance to be killed by trigger-happy GIs...they kill unarmed Iraqi civilians on a daily basis.

quote:

I would hope they [Iraqis] would follow the example of Mohandas Gandhi.


You may as well hope that pigs will fly.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 1, 2003
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quote:

If Iraqis die non-violently resisting then these deaths will be worth 100 times more than the same death in some ambush.


I'm afraid I don't follow your mathematics at all here.

In the U.S. media, Iraqi deaths are little reported...regardless of the circumstances. It is American deaths that hit the front pages on a daily basis (and, I presume, all the dummyvision news shows except Fox).

The more Americans (and mercenaries from other western countries, quislings, etc.) that the Iraqis kill, the worse it makes the occupation look here...and the larger the movement against it will grow.

One dead GI is worth a thousand Iraqi dead...in the eyes of Americans.

quote:

I doubt that the current resistance will ever reach this capacity, as it is limited to the Sunni triangle, a hotbed for Saddam support.


True, although there have been resistance attacks in Mosul and Basra as well. But, it's "early days" yet...the French resistance didn't do much in its first couple of years.

Neither of us has any way of predicting these things...but I am optimistic on this issue. I think the resistance will get stronger, the American occupation troops more brutal and arrogant, the conflict hotter.

I appreciate your personal commitment to non-violence as a strategy...but I think you have to realistically see that the Iraqis have a different perspective. They were "conquered" by violent aggressors...how could they not see that the best way to expel the conquerors is by violence?

And by the way, I don't really see Saddam Hussein riding on top of a tank in a victorious parade into Baghdad (like Fidel into Havana). But I think we might as well get used to him as a "folk hero" in Iraq...nothing flattered his image while he was in power like what is happening now.

As I said once before, that famous statue will almost certainly be re-erected...as a symbol of the refusal to accept conquest.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 2, 2003
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quote:

...and if that "baby killer" was your loved one, would you be happy? That has to be one of the most foul things I have ever heard


Oh? What kind of a pervert "loves" people who are professional killers for U.S. imperialism?

That has to be one of the sickest things I've ever heard.

quote:

The American troops forced there, because in uncle sam's army you're either with them or a terrorist. So the men and women forced to fight are taking a big risk, and when they come home everyone against the war calls them baby killers or some shit like that...


No one "forced" them to do anything. Any one of them or all of them could put an end to this shit tomorrow morning, by act of mutiny.

They are there by "right" of (temporary) conquest...they sincerely believe that their superior strength has given them the "right" to be there and to kill whomever they wish. They believe in the American Empire...that it is America's "destiny" to rule the world.

Of course, they may be having some "second thoughts" now...having received a somewhat different kind of "welcome" than they were led to expect.

Tough shit! I am getting weary of reading the nauseatingly saccharine banalities about the "poor occupation troops" who are just "carrying out their orders".

We've heard that pathetic crap before...at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 3, 2003
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quote:

Was this a joke?


No.

quote:

A mutiny would be good, but is this very likely?


What does that have to do with anything?

quote:

Not to be a party pooper, but aren't we supposed to be standing up for the working man and women, trying to get some sort of class solidarity from within the military?


No. There is no such thing as "class solidarity" with those who sign up to militarily defend imperialism. It does not matter what they "used to be"...being determines consciousness.

When you join a "professional" army (police, private security force, etc.), you identify with your employer, not your old class.

You are what you do!
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 3, 2003
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quote:

Have you spoken to these soldiers? Do you really know that is what they think? From what I gather, from talking to many soldiers, is that they do not enjoy this war, they do not want the killing, they just want to come home to their families...you have no respect for human life...you need to stop being so cold and stop letting your political beliefs cloud your mind from common sense...any loss of life is a shame


Why are you telling me this crap? I've never taken a single human life.

Deliver your message to the imperial shiteaters in the White House and their lackeys!

Have you forgotten? It's your fucking war! Iraq didn't land troops on Long Island, dammit!

And that part about your mercenaries "don't enjoy the killing"...that's rich! I don't suppose the guys pushing Jews into the gas chambers were having a fun time either, do you? No, they were just "professionals" "doing their job".

How dare you defend the American imperial murderers in Iraq and then speak to me of "respect for human life"???

You disgusting hypocrite!
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 4, 2003
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The military draft in the United States was abolished in approximately 1974...although males are still required by law to register for the draft at age 18...and if you neglect to do so, you can be declared ineligible for a (rip-off) student loan.

Otherwise, it makes sense not to register.

--------------------------------------

On the attitude of U.S. mercenaries in Iraq, there's this...

Sergeant Littlefield said: "We're going to be in Iraq for a long time. I'm proud to do it."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/middle_east/3244865.stm
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 5, 2003
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quote:

Let me tell you about two guys I met a few weeks ago: We were sitting in a bar waiting for a band to come on stage that we came to see. At the next table there were a couple regular looking punker kids, one of them was wearing a shirt of a band I like, so we started talking. After talking to them for about an hour, I got their story. They both came from shitty parts of Chicago. After they graduated high school, they didn't really have a chance to go to college. They didn't have any skills, any family, no hope, no future. After not even being able to find a job in construction, they met an army recruiter, I think it was he was just out on the street. He started to tell them all these things that the army would give them, steady money, good money, insurance, college if they wanted it. All they had to do was go to basic, serve 2 years, after that it was like 1 weekend a month, and they would be set, even retirement. This was 6 months before the war broke out. They were sent to Washington, specifically this hellhole called Fort Lewis. At the time we talked they had 2 weeks till they were being sent to Iraq. By the way they talked, both of them were against the war, but they wouldn't admit it. When I asked them point blank they told me that they can't think about, they can't have an opinion. If they do they would go insane.

These are just good, normal kids who made a mistake. Now they are being sent to a foreign country to fight a war they have no part of. They were tricked, they made a mistake, but they aren't bad people.


The French have this saying: to know all is to forgive all.

But it's not true.

At least not for me. By all accounts, Hitler had a miserable childhood and, as a young guy, nearly starved in Vienna...and even dodged the draft in Austro-Hungary.

That may serve as a partial explanation of why he did what he did, but it doesn't excuse it.

These two guys undoubtedly have had shitty lives...so have millions of others. But most kids, no matter how bad their lives may be, don't join the military, don't become cops, and do not become violent criminals.

They find some other way to survive.

What is the "special characteristic"(s) that distinguishes people who are willing to become professional killers for the ruling class and those who are not?

Is it gross stupidity? Is it greed? Is it a kind of sociopathic attitude that says I will "do anything" to get "ahead"?

Even at that last moment, they still had a choice. The Canadian and Mexican borders are no more than 12 hours away from anywhere in the U.S. If you realize that you've been tricked, you can always back out, escape, get away. In fact, you can still just disappear even now...no phone, no credit cards, no driver's license, work for cash in the gray market, drop out of the existing order of things. It's a really tough life...but you don't have to kill anyone simply because you're ordered to do it.

I don't think they were "good" kids.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 6, 2003
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quote:

...So when they are just being red blooded Americans trying to defend their homes and families, and because of their job are FORCED to go to Iraq...


And were the Germans who murdered the Jews just being "red-blooded Germans trying to defend their homes and families"?

That strikes me as a really pathetic excuse. No American territory has been invaded since the War of 1812! No American territory has even been attacked since 1941! All modern American wars have been wars of conquest fought on the territories of other countries.

"Defending their homes and families" my ass!

quote:

Think of the situation.....what if this was you?


It was me! I was called up for induction in 1962. I told them flat out that if they drafted me, I would desert to the "Viet Cong" (National Liberation Front of South Vietnam) at the first opportunity.

Quite to my surprise, the reclassified me IV-F...meaning not to be drafted unless Russian/Chinese marines land on Long Island.

It was a "war of nerves" of course...I already had my bus ticket to Toronto; I had no intention of allowing myself to be drafted into the military at all. But they didn't know that and since I sounded as if I would be a royal pain-in-the-ass, they let me go.

Later on, groups I was in used this technique extensively: if the military sees that you're going to be a problem, it's easier for them to just write you off.

You always have a choice.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 6, 2003
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quote:

Nation vs nation, not class vs class. Unfortunate but not surprising to see some people in this thread, who call themselves communist, taking the same attitude.


Well, isn't that the fundamental basis of a war of national liberation...nation vs. nation?

Doesn't the oppressed nation seek to unite all classes--except the colonial bourgeoisie (quislings)--to expel the invader?

As I noted earlier, things would undoubtedly be different if the Iraqis had asked for our advice...but they somehow overlooked that option and decided on their own priorities.

Until such time as there is a genuine and significant communist presence in Iraq, I would imagine the place will be a slightly more civilized version of Afghanistan...run by warlords/crony capitalists/fundamentalist reactionaries, etc. It will be, in other words, a hellhole. (Like most places, when you stop and think about it.)

Even a modern bourgeois state is far away on the horizon of Iraq...2050? 2075?

But if you want to see what Iraq will look like if U.S. imperialism is victorious, look at central America...or, at best, the Philippines. The "client states" of U.S. imperialism contain tiny islands of prosperity amidst an ocean of uttermost degradation.

No matter what happens, the Iraqis will do better on their own.

quote:

It's pretty strange, also, to see communists saying that people have "free choice" as long as they are not physically forced by the law to do something. Sounds more libertarian, really.... Emphasizing individual factors and individual choices over the market forces that govern the fact that people join the military.


No one denies that "market forces" form the background of "choice" under capitalism; all "choices" are made under constraint. There's no such thing as "free choice" as an abstraction.

Nevertheless, people choose. To scab or not to scab; to be a cop or to hate cops; to be a soldier or to refuse; to prey on the helpless through violent crime or not to do that; etc.

And most people make the right choice. They don't scab. They don't join the police or the army. They don't become violent criminals. They make the right choice regardless of "market forces".

Why is that? Why do most people do the right thing and some do the wrong thing?

quote:

Probably most of these soldiers did support the war and many continue to support the occupation. For one thing, there's a powerful psychological mechanism at work here - nobody likes to believe they're dying for nothing. Then there's intimidation by the brass and the belief that they're obligated to be "patriotic" in order to be in the military.


Yes, those factors probably explain a good deal about their current attitudes. But it doesn't explain why they joined in the first place.

quote:

But individual soldiers are not automatically "enemies of the working class" in the sense that cops are. Most remain part of the working class. Some are "lifers", sure, but most hope to get out of the military with a bit of cash and training, and will probably rejoin the civilian working class.


In what capacity? I have this impression that an enormous proportion of cops, prison guards, and private security forces come from a military background. They get out of the military and find that their training has "molded" their mind-sets in such a way as to only be "comfortable" in a quasi-military setup.

Hard information would be welcome here...what percentage of military volunteers go into "law enforcement" and "security" after they leave the military? My guess is that it's more than 50 percent and maybe a lot more...but it would be useful to actually know. (Of course, "market forces" play a role here as well...repression is one of the fastest growing "industries" in America.)

quote:

Historically, soldiers have sometimes been won to actively supporting the working-class movement, including in opposition to imperialist wars.


This was true in the conscripted armies of the last century; I know of no instance where a "professional" (mercenary) army has mutined...and I'm pretty skeptical of the possibility. When a new era of proletarian revolution begins, I expect the professional armies to possibly commit a few atrocities, realize their position is essentially hopeless, and quietly melt away into the civilian population...hoping to remain unnoticed and unprosecuted. What else could they do?

quote:

It's some of the arguments given, that assume that U.S. soldiers are automatically and for all time supporters of U.S. imperialism, that I object to.


I think that's the reasonable working assumption until there is clear evidence to the contrary. To my knowledge, there is exactly one U.S. marine serving a six-month sentence in North Carolina for refusing occupation duty in Iraq. There may be some others, of course...I would expect the military to suppress any publicity about unrest in its own ranks.

I would be delighted to see serious and wide-spread acts of mutiny among American occupation troops...but, at this point, I regard that as wishful thinking.

quote:

Heck, if that was true, revolution in the U.S. would be a wholly unrealistic prospect. And if there was no prospect at all for revolution in the U.S, revolutions in the rest of the world would ultimately be pretty pointless.


A dubious thesis on several grounds. A massive proletarian revolution in the U.S. or western Europe would easily overwhelm the professional militaries of those areas...you have to remember that mercenaries fight for pay--if the governments that pay them totter and fall, what's the point of defending them?

Back pay?

I also think that communism in western Europe would probably be a fatal blow to capitalism in the U.S....plunging it into a massive depression and economic collapse within a couple of years. I'm speculating, of course, but I'm basing it on the fact that the vast bulk of capital flow over the last half century has been between the U.S. and Europe.

Were that to suddenly cease, the repercussions would be major.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 7, 2003
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quote:

The starting point is that soldiers remain citizens, with the rights of citizens. That they should exercise their constitutional rights, to read, discuss, inform themselves, and publicly express their opinions. Organize. Write home. Demonstrate.



You left out "vote".

You consider my views "fantasy" and offer in contrast a litany of bourgeois legalisms that have no bearing on military life at all.

quote:

I know - have worked with - plenty of former soldiers, including from the post-draft period. So clearly they don't all become prison guards. How many cops do you think there are in this country, anyway? Not nearly enough for all ex-soldiers to go into that line of work....


Well, I admitted that hard information would be welcome. Do you have any or are you just guessing...like me?

quote:

In all revolutions, some volunteers, including NCOs and so forth, have come over along with the draftees.


No argument; there are individual exceptions in every historical phenomenon.

quote:

The post-Vietnam abolition of the draft in the U.S. is recent enough that we don't know from experience how the current army - a new type to some extent - will react to a revolutionary crisis. There simply hasn't been one since then.


Well, perhaps we will soon find out. I would be quite happy about it if you turned out to be right and I turned out to be wrong.

If there is a major upsurge of rebellion (of one sort or another) among American mercenaries in Iraq or elsewhere, that would prove me wrong.

quote:

But from a class viewpoint, the main change is that the military is now even more proletarian, and even includes even more people from the oppressed nationalities.


I disagree with this analysis; I think mercenaries identify with their employers.

But we shall see.

quote:

Believe they're paid by the month, bubba. The issue would be decided one way or the other before payday, most likely.


And they do have a very short attention-span, right?

quote:

Surely you don't expect a government to "totter and fall" without first defeating or winning over its armed forces.


Yes, actually I rather expect that to be the case...and, of course, I could also be wrong about that as well.

I do expect some armed conflict with police forces and possibly a few units of the military...but the bulk of the armed forces I expect to remain cautiously neutral. Why? Because there's no practical way for them to successfully suppress the vast majority of the civilian population.

quote:

And what is the U.S. government - free from any fears about the political reliability of its troops, according to you - doing while the revolution sweeps across western Europe?


Probably trying rather desperately to hold on to its Middle Eastern possessions, oops, I mean "democracies". That is what our "president" has promised us, anyway...a decades-long "involvement" in the Middle East.

Unless the U.S. wants to "nuke" Paris or Berlin, what can they possibly hope to do?

And would it make sense for them to do that and risk losing the east coast of the U.S. to a retaliatory strike?

quote:

This is fantasy-land stuff, Redstar, leading me to think that you are not remotely serious about revolution. That your ultraleft rhetoric is just lip-service.


Yeah, I'm just making it all up as I go along.

quote:

but I don't think the Iraqis want another Saddam, or an Ayatollah for that matter, and as such we should choose very carefully who we support.


Why not "choose carefully" who we oppose and let the Iraqis decide on their own what they want.

quote:

The best way you could help them in their struggle is to make their actions public and shown to the people in your country and than maybe they will see them as heroes...


No, that's the wrong approach and, if carried out consistently, paints you into the corner of endorsing whatever nonsense the Iraqis may come up with.

The best approach is to attack the U.S. and British governments and their crony capitalists without limit. Pound away on their dishonesty, their greed, their vaulting ambitions, their incompetence and stupidity and arrogance.

What we really want is for working people in the U.S. and the U.K. to come to regard "their" governments as the enemy.

That is what really helps resistance movements in "third world" countries...not meaningless and empty pledges of "support" and "solidarity".

Let there be sufficient "chaos in the streets" and the soldiers will be brought home.

quote:

Yes, the idea that a person's family may love them would seem sickening to a person like you.


No matter what they do, right? As always, you show your priorities. What's a few war crimes here or there...when it comes to family?
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 9, 2003
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A couple of points I overlooked...

quote:

And communists, unlike pacifists, are not in the business of moral witness by means of individual refusal to serve, which accomplishes nothing.


The individual's subjective motive for refusing occupation duty in Iraq is of little interest to me--I do not care if they have suddenly become ardent pacifists or if they are simply scared shitless.

Objectively, the refusal to murder for U.S. imperialism is a clear act of international proletarian solidarity and should be encouraged under every conceivable circumstance.

quote:

Iran is one of the best examples of a classic-style proletarian insurrection in recent decades.


I'm going to ask a favor of you, both for me and for the other members of this board. I want you to start a thread in the Theory forum and justify this statement in as much reasonable detail as you can.

I have never heard this asserted before...but I am willing to learn.

quote:

This will take too long.


and

quote:

...and you will need years to get them in action.


You are both right; a serious anti-war movement that has a major impact on events takes years. To my knowledge, the first substantial demonstration against the war in Vietnam took place in New York City on May 2, 1964...about 1,000 people took part.

Nine years later, the U.S. finally withdrew from South Vietnam.(!)

Maybe, with the internet, it will take less time. We'll see.

quote:

Most troops never fire a round in anger you fuckwit.


Quite so, but you don't really know who does the actual killing, do you?

Consequently, I would say that willingness to participate in occupation duty is evidence of "presumptive intent" to commit war crimes if ordered to do so.

quote:

So all American troops commit war crimes do they; you're such an ignorant stereotyping old fart, it's unbelievable.


Believe it.
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First posted at Che-Lives on November 9, 2003
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