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The Syrian Peace Deal

category international | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Saturday December 19, 2015 00:20author by Paddy Hackett Report this post to the editors

The Peace Deal does not serve the interests of the masses of the Middle East.

The peace deal proposed and accepted is a reflection of the success of Moscow's strategy in the Middle East. The opposition, as it is called, came to the table because it knows that the military alliance involving Russia, Iran and Syria is going to gobble them up. This has been Putin's strategy. It has proved successful whereas the Western strategy led by Washington has been an unmitigated disaster on a par with its strategy with regard to Vietnam.

Having said this it will not inevitably follow that the peace deal will be successful. It is going to be interesting as to how ISIS will react to this latest development. Turkey may not be too happy with it either. Turkey fears the struggle for an independent Kurdistan entailing Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian territory.

But the peace deal has nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian masses. It is a deal accepted in the interests of capitalism.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Sat Dec 19, 2015 14:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"But the peace deal has nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian masses. It is a deal accepted in the interests of capitalism. "

You really should state "as my opinion" rather than fact. Take the Kurds for example. It is up to each Kurd to decide which is more important, the struggle for Kurdish nationhood or the struggle between economic classes. That a Kurd might decide the former more important isn't a choice in favor of capitalism. It a choice "capitalism vs socialism, don't give a damn" IN COMPARISON TO Kurdish nationhood.

If you suggest to them "socialism in addition to Kurdish nationhood" you might find them receptive. But you are saying "as fact" socialism no matter what the cost to Kurdish nationhood. They would not only reject that but also additionally reject the notion that it should be your choice, not theirs.

NOTE: If you take what I have just written as being in favor of capitalism, well that is a symptom of your disease.

author by Paddy Hackettpublication date Sat Dec 19, 2015 22:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi Mike

Good to correspond with you again.

But the individual is not the unit. The Kurds in seeking the establishment of an independent Kurdistan raise the issue of nationality and nation state. These are concepts or metaphors that transcend individuality. They are socially produced as opposed to being individually created. Consequently they are socially imposed, in a sense, on the individual. The struggle between classes transcends individuality too. It is not a question of individual choice. The individual is embraced in class struggle. The national and class struggles are not disparate phenomena. They are inseparably connected. Nations and their states --the nation state-- are products of capitalist development. They are an expression of the rising bourgeoisie.

But today the nation is not a matter over which the modern working must struggle. The national struggle is an obstacle to the struggle for communism which must ultimately bear a global character.

The struggle for an independent Kurdistan is a backward even reactionary struggle. The Kurds will sup with the devil himself for its struggle. It has a Faustian character.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Sun Dec 20, 2015 21:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Please LOOK at what you are saying. You are making VALUE statements, not FACTUAL statements. I''m not saying that you are wrong (that your value decision is wrong) but that it IS a value judgment. But before dealing with your value judgements in detail, let's take care of the factual error.

"-the nation state-- are products of capitalist development. They are an expression of the rising bourgeoisie"

FALSE (and rather obviously so). For this statement to be true, there could not have been any nation states before there was capitalism and a rising.bourgeoisie. Do you disagree with that? OK then, what is the OLDEST examples of capitalism and the bourgeoisie you propose? Three hundred years old? Four hundred years old? How about five hundred years old? Then how do you account for the nation states that existed thousands of years ago?

"But today the nation is not a matter over which the modern working must struggle. The national struggle is an obstacle to the struggle for communism which must ultimately bear a global character."
OK, a statement about fact, but a compound statement. Many would agree that ANY distraction (and national. struggle would be an example) would interfere with concentration on class struggle. But the second part is much more debatable. Entirely unclear that communism couldn't exist locally. Were that true, would actually be an argument against communism (since a prerequisite would be that all peoples in all cultures everywhere would have to want it).

"The struggle for an independent Kurdistan is a backward even reactionary struggle. The Kurds will sup with the devil himself for its struggle. It has a Faustian character."
NOT FACTUAL (value loaded). Don't you see that? Again, don't take what I am saying the wrong way. I am NOT objecting to your value judgement that communism is better than a nation state for yourself to make. But you're not a Kurd, are you? Suppose it were true (I'd disagree) that they could have only one of the two. Either communism but no Kurdistan or Kurdistan but no communism. What gives YOU the right to decide that "better" question for a Kurd? By "better" I mean "more to be desired" by him or her.

You are at the heart of why anarchists and communists disagree (even those groups of anarchists who for themselves choose to live communally, etc.). I claim the right to decide FOR ME what is best FOR ME. I don't claim the right to decide what is best for you, and would most certainly resist any attempt by you to decide for me.

author by Paddy Hackettpublication date Tue Dec 22, 2015 23:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors



Hi Mick

My understanding is that there did not exist nation states before the emergence of capitalist relations. Even the Greek city states were based on a form of commercial capitalism. However they were not nation states. In Italy there were city sates preceding the emergence of nation states. But they were based on commercial and banking capital.

Modern communism cannot exist locally. The forces of production are international or global consequently communist society must assume a global form. Perhaps in the Neolithic Age local communism was possible and even historically existed –classless collectivised society.

But the issue of choice concerning an independent Kurdistan or communism is badly posed. There is no issue of choice here. Communism is not essentially a matter of choice. It is a historical necessity. Communism is historically necessary because the forces of production are being fettered by the prevailing social relations of production –capitalist relations. The nation state is a political institution that hampers the further development of these productive forces. This is because the nation state is, in a sense, a capitalist relation. Much of the strife in the world today is a product of this fundamental contradiction –the contradiction between the productive forces and the constraining social relations of production.
In a sense then the matter is not one concerning values. This is why this conception is known as the materialist conception of history. We must thank Karl Marx for the discovery of this conception.

You seem to place individual choice at the centre of social reality. This smacks Stirnerism. If my memory serves me right Max Stirner lived around the same time as Marx. Like Marx he was, I believe, a member of the Young Hegelians. He wrote a work entitled The Ego and His Own. Marx subjected his thought to a devastating critique. Stirner was totally opposed to every kind of state. For him the individual (the ego) was the source of reality.

You allude to communists and anarchists as if they are the expression of distinctly different philosophies. But as a communist I struggle for a society that is stateless. In my view this brings me close to some forms of anarchism. Communism as a modern vision does not promote statism ala the Soviet Union.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Thu Dec 24, 2015 22:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But first a couple important points. Simply the presence of TRADE does not imply "capitalism". Nor does specialized "manufacture". Good grief, the Folsom and Clovis points were made by "professionals" at sites where the finest raw material available and traded over much of North American so found thousands of kms from where knapped (this is 10,000+ years ago!).

Note that I only need to give you a few counter examples:

1) Greek city states were not "nation states". Nor was trade based Tyre. But you claim that all of these were based on some sort of early capitalism? How about Sparta?

2) The obvious NATION state of the Med basin would of course be Egypt. But pre Thera eruption Crete not a city state situation.

3) We don't have to consider only the Med basin or even the rest of the Middle East. For example, Japan was a nation state by about 500 (feudalism in Japan came LATER)

Look. this is a serious problem with classical Marxist thinking. Make the facts fit the theory rather than the pother way around. Based on looking at only the last few hundred years of European history and arguing from that. Taking an "ordered" view of history as if always a linear progression (around the year 1000 you would NOT have judged Europe in the lead --- an the other placed that back then seemed more advanced now not).

And how about the new world? OK, the "pueblo" tribes of the Southwest, those were "city states". But not the nation states in Mexico or South America. For a North American example, the confederacy of the Iroquois (to use their enemies' name for them) put together before 1500 would be an example. These of course had "economies", but nothing resembling "capitalism" >

I am NOT faulting Marx. Remember he was before anthropology. And quite normal for Europeans 1500 on to be very Eurocentric, very few thinkers even questioning (perhaps Montaigne a bit). But a "theory of everything" has to take ALL of the facts into account. In other wrods, a valid excuse for Marx but not for modern Marxists.

But ..... considering the site on which we are discussing this, how about IRISH history? Capitalism in the day of Brian Boru? > Contemporary to the Viking invasions in Ireland already that culture had nation states Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Byelorussia*, Denmark, Normandy, Sicily, etc.

* In a sense, Novgorad a city state, so maybe don't count that one.

author by Paddy Hackettpublication date Fri Dec 25, 2015 10:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The simple presence of trade does not imply capitalism. But trade that has a universal character can be a form of capitalism –commercial capitalism. Many city states were commercial. Ancient Greek society formed a string of city states that formed a commercial capitalist system. I never even implied that city states are nation states or that all city states are commercial capitalist states. A state to qualify as a nation state has to be a capitalist state. A state that exists before capitalism cannot be a nation state. Even nations cannot exist independently of capitalism. Incidentally I am not a Marxist but was a Marxist. Japan was not a nation state when it was not capitalist. Nation and nation state are bourgeois phenomena and thereby historical phenomena. The Irish Republic is not a nation state. Egypt was not a nation state. There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding these concepts. This is why there are these interminable reactionary struggles of so called nations and nationalities for statehood in currency.

The facts always fit the theory. We cannot look at facts independently of subjectivity. Facts are always embedded in theory. History, I agree, is not a single linear narrative.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Fri Dec 25, 2015 16:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"A state to qualify as a nation state has to be a capitalist state. A state that exists before capitalism cannot be a nation state."

Now we have left the realm of "fact" and entered that of language and definitions.

I will grant you you the right to use words in special ways, but in that case you need to announce that you are. You aren't saying "nation states" (as everybody else means the term) can't exist without capitalism. You are saying YOUR meaning of the term "nation states" is that subset of "nation states" (as everybody else uses the term) which are necessarily capitalist.

OK then, WHAT do you call the entities in the rest of the set (the set of things everybody else means by the term "nation state"? Because THAT is what we were supposedly talking about.

If I say a particular people appear to want a "nation state" THAT (the full set) is what I am talking about, not your special meaning for the term. To return to where this started, with the Kurds, I am claiming that they appear to want a "nation state" (in the general meaning of the temr) and probably don't give a d*mn whether capitalist (your use of the term "nation state") or non-capitalist (I haven't a clue what term you want to for those). By "don't give a d*mn" I do not mean that individual Kurds have no preference, just that not united about that.

author by Paddy Hackettpublication date Fri Dec 25, 2015 20:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You are now distorting my response. The logic of your position is that all that each of us say is private. If language is by nature private then we can never share meaning. We can never communicate with each other. We can never know each other. Consequently we can never engage in common projects. You are back to your Stirnerism again. We are disconnected islands.

Then you contradict yourself by claiming you know what people want as opposed to the Stirnerian individualism whereby the individual is island –inherently alienated.

You don't know what the Kurds want. They have never been able to state what they want. “They” support different parties. Some may not even support any of the political parties. The city Kurd is very different to the rural Kurd. Some Kurds are opposed to the use of violence. In the Irish republic the working class accept capitalism. To them capitalism is a natural and non transient social system. This is wrong. But because the Irish public believe this does not make it true. Einstein discovered relativity. Because the scientific community were still Newtonian did not mean that his non-Newtonian position was not scientific.

As I already indicated facts and values are not disconnected. There was a time when the solar system was believed to be an earth centred system. The latter was posited as fact.

author by Paddy Hackettpublication date Fri Dec 25, 2015 20:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You are now distorting my response. The logic of your position is that all that each of us say is private. If language is by nature private then we can never share meaning. We can never communicate with each other. We can never know each other. Consequently we can never engage in common projects. You are back to your Stirnerism again. We are disconnected islands.

Then you contradict yourself by claiming you know what people want as opposed to the Stirnerian individualism whereby the individual is island –inherently alienated.

You don't know what the Kurds want. They have never been able to state what they want. “They” support different parties. Some may not even support any of the political parties. The city Kurd is very different to the rural Kurd. Some Kurds are opposed to the use of violence. In the Irish republic the working class accept capitalism. To them capitalism is a natural and non transient social system. This is wrong. But because the Irish public believe this does not make it true. Einstein discovered relativity. Because the scientific community were still Newtonian did not mean that his non-Newtonian position was not scientific.

As I already indicated facts and values are not disconnected. There was a time when the solar system was believed to be an earth centred system. The latter was posited as fact.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Sat Dec 26, 2015 19:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Terms have agreed meaning in ordinary speech. But it is now clear that you are using "nation state" for a more specialized purpose. Your term "nation state" appears to be a subset of what I (and I believe most people) mean by the term "nation state", namely those "nation states" (the common meaning) that are ALSO capitalist.

For the purposes of this discussion I am willing to conform to your definition (as long as that is clearly stated). But you then have to tell us what terms you wish to be used for:

A - The set of human organizations that are in other regards like what you call nation states EXCEPT they are not capitalist.
B - The set that includes human organizations that are A and also includes what you call "nation states".

If you want to deny the existence of example members of A, explain in what essential way they differ from what you are calling "nation states" EXCEPT with regard to capitalism.

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