Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mike Davis on the 'sinister symmetry' of terror in Iraq

At the height of the Stalinist terror in the 1930s, Leon Trotsky once outlined briefly why Marxists oppose individual acts of terror as a tactic when faced with brutal state terror, despite the 'seductive symmetry' of the idea:

'If terror is feasible for one side, why should it be considered as excluded for the other? With all its seductive symmetry, this reasoning is corrupt to the core. It is altogether inadmissible to place the terror of a dictatorship against an opposition on the same plane with the terror of an opposition against a dictatorship. To the ruling clique, the preparation of murders through the medium of a court or from behind an ambush is purely and simply a question of police technique. In the event of a failure, some Second-rank agents can always be sacrificed. On the part of an opposition, terror presupposes the concentration of all forces upon preparing acts of terror, with the foreknowledge that every one of such acts, whether successful or unsuccessful, will evoke in reply the destruction of scores of its best men. An opposition could by no means permit itself such an insane squandering of its forces. It is precisely for this, and for no other reason, that the Comintern does not resort to terroristic attempts in the countries of fascist dictatorships. The Opposition is as little inclined to the policy of suicide as the Comintern.'

In today's Guardian, Marxist historian Mike Davis writes on how 'a sinister symmetry of strategic perception seems increasingly to ally White House circles with the occult bombers' in Iraq as both American state terrorists and Iraqi sectarian terrorists agree with more than just the utility of blowing people up with bombs: 'The [car] bombers obviously calculate that the carnage [caused by blowing up mainly Shia civilians] will bring about an apocalyptic confrontation with the Americans. And since the Bush administration now finds evidence of Iranian subversion everywhere, a Shia insurrection might be the trigger for an attack on Iran.' Horror piles up upon horror now thanks to the bloody Iraq war. Now the US are following the Israeli model by building a security wall.

However, there is at least some hope amid the horror. As Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani insists, 'Iraq is not a communal war', yet. 'The people’s hostility to the governmental parties and the occupation, and the historical absence of mass sectarian hostility have all combined to prevent large-scale communal strife and violence.' Long may this resistance to occupation continue and flourish.

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