12:06 PMLeft in Afghanistan
Revolutionary Afghanistan Women's Association, http://www.rawa.org/index.php
The most informative on Afghanistan was, and is, the site of RAWA. Many of the photographs and some of the articles used to illustrate the current situation in Afghanistan here come from their site. However, in spite of their name, RAWA is not revolutionary.
i. The origin of RAWA
Carol Mann, a founder of a French humanitarian organization, writes: "Gulbedin Hekmatyar, the US’s favourite “freedom” fighter, achieved early notoriety for hurling acid at unveiled girls in short skirts in Kabul. Also present on the campus was an alternative secular anti-Soviet left, somewhat more nationalist with Maoist leanings popular amidst certain circles of the upper middle-class youth, which has been hitherto been largely unexamined. This formed the ideological background of what was to become RAWA which soon distanced itself from standard Maoist rhetoric, uniquely concentrating on women’s predicament".
A founder of RAWA was a young woman "Meena". She founded the organization in 1977. "This organization was meant to give voice to the deprived and silenced women of Afghanistan".
Meena was against the Soviet occupation. In "A short biography of martyred Meena" we find: "Her active social work and effective advocacy against the views of the fundamentalists and the puppet regime provoked the wrath of the Russians and the fundamentalist forces alike and she was assassinated by agents of KHAD (Afghanistan branch of KGB) and their fundamentalist accomplices in Quetta, Pakistan, on February 4,1987".
ii. The "program" of RAWA
RAWA Statement on International Women's Day, March 8, 2002 is the closest they come to “a program”, i.e. a statement of their principles and discussing "what is to be done".
1. The title of the statement is "Let Us Struggle Against War and Fundamentalism and for Peace and Democracy!" That means they are pacifists. But revolution is a war. Hence, they are not revolutionaries.
2. Their attitude to 9/11: “the horrendous attack of religious fanatics on New York and Washington”. Revolutionaries must support this attack, because it is one of our enemies, the Islamists, destroying another of our enemies, the imperialists, specifically, the very symbols of capital and its military.
3. Attitude to Taliban and the current regime: “We look upon the US military campaign in Afghanistan not as an aggression against Afghanistan or a war on the Afghan people, or as an aggression against Islam or the Muslims but as a fracas between patron and ex-proteges. In contradistinction to some mealy-mouthed, colluding women's organizations, the total obliteration not only of the Taliban and their al-Qaeda props but also of the criminal Jehadis is a top RAWA political priority.”
By "criminal Jehadis" RAWA means the current warlords. But how do they plan to "obliterate" these?
“We had many a time in the past proclaimed that a meaningful, decisive and timely UN injunction on all countries in regard to supplying funds and arms to the Taliban, coupled with a loud and clear call to all countries to support anti-fundamentalist and pro-democracy forces in Afghanistan were the means to contain the Taliban and the al-Qaeda and to shorten the life span of these vermin.” UN resolutions and sanctions!
4. RAWA stresses a need to fight the reactionary ideas of Taliban: “War on the Taliban and the al-Qaeda is not only a war on the military and financial fronts, it is a war on the ideological front too. Until such time as mindsets and thoughts characteristic of the Taliban and Osama & Co. remain, it is inevitable that we shall witness their trademark barbarism erupt yet once again, be it in Afghanistan or in any other part of the world”.
5. The Karzai regime represents the 1992-96 years (the regime of Rabbani), all over again: “Mr Karzai, who does not have the backing and support of any indigenous organisation or armed force, together with a number of his like-situated colleagues are hostages in the hands of 'Northern Alliance' criminals. Mr Karzai, not a fundamentalist himself, has a history of colluding and hobnobbing with Burhanuddin Rabbani and his band, and has therefore deluded himself into thinking that putting up with the criminals he has around him and honouring arch-warlords like Rabbani would bring him political dividends. Unfortunately he either does not know or does not want to know that his key ministers are perpetrators of heinous crimes against our people -infamies which are manifold times more unpardonable and inexpiable than those of the Taliban. Mr Karzai can rest assured that the Rabbani gang he has around him, having already had a taste of a number of years of power and government and unfettered drug trafficking and legendary hoarding of wealth under the cloak of diplomatic immunity, will never be content with the simple usurpation of key government posts. They will bide their time to once again seize undivided and uncontested power.”
6. Hence, RAWA talks about persecuting the officials in the Karzai regime: "If deployment of troops and military action against the Taliban and the al-Qaeda is a just cause, prosecuting the bone-chilling crimes of the 'Northern Alliance' is the sine qua non for peace, democracy and justice in Afghanistan".
But then again they switch to "UN" and "democracy": “there is no alternative to the deployment of an effective UN security force across the country to ensure secure conditions for the convocation of a Loya Jirga and, more importantly, countrywide suffrage”.
7. On program for Afghanistan: "The pouring in of billions of dollars into a country where the fundamentalist mafia are still in power can little benefit the Afghan people. Under the circumstances, the only result from the flow of money will be the filling of the coffers of the religious Cosa Nostra and consequently funding their terrorist agendas inside and outside Afghanistan. In a country like Afghanistan where there is no trace of a legal infrastructure or even a quasi-democratic government, most social and economic issues must be addressed as political issues. The satisfactory management of social and economic problems in Afghanistan and their resolution in the interests of the people of Afghanistan depend first and foremost on the formation of a democratic Afghan government".
8. RAWA proposes the 1964 Constitution, with some democratic “injections”, such as allotted seats for women! This constitution does not allow for correcting social inequalities. Thus, the leaders of RAWA reveal their social origin: "certain circles of the upper middle-class youth". For example, at their March 8, 2007 celebrations, there was one woman member of the European Parliament.
2. ALO, Afghanistan Liberation Organization
i. The origin of ALO
PDPA was founded in 1965. In opposition to it, in 1966, a Progressive Youth Organization (PYO) was founded. “Those early years were dominated by ideological polemics between the communist parties of the Soviet Union and China on the one hand and the Cultural Revolution in China on the other". Thus, the world "communist" movement broke up, following the split between USSR and China, into the satellites of the USSR and satellites of China. PDPA was with the USSR, and PYO with China. Clearly, the satellites of China were more leftward, for as we know about the period, it was the time when Mao was struggling against bureaucracy, relying on the help of youth and the Chinese army.
PYO was formed mostly of the urban intellectuals, and some of them belonged to the upper-middle class. "The PYO set out to publish a weekly mouthpiece, Sholai Jawaid [The Eternal Flame] which concentrated on introducing the principles of New Democracy (Mao Zedong Thought) and exposing the machinations of the PDPA and Soviet revisionism. Sholai Jawaid was banned after only 11 issues".
Those who published the "Sholai Jawaid" were called "Sholayis". “The prevailing criticism amongst the Sholayis was that despite the fact that the Sholai Jawaid political current had amassed a large and dedicated following of thousands of young Afghans, the leadership of the PYO had been unable to harness the potential of these adherents for the political mobilisation of the peasant masses who comprised 90% of the people of Afghanistan. The outreach of the PYO and its leadership rarely extended beyond the urban intelligentsia, urbanites and a limited number of workers. It was in consequence of such introspection that at the beginning of the 70s different circles within the Sholai Jawaid political current began highlighting the mistakes of the PYO and opened up an extensive ideological struggle at all levels of the organisation. The most profound criticism of the PYO came from the Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan (later upgraded and renamed Sazman-i Rehayi Afghanistan [Afghanistan Liberation Organisation]).”
According to ALO (logo on the right), the "Saur revolution" of April 28, 1978 was a coup and it "resulted in the massacre of Daoud and his entire family along with an estimated 7,000 military and civilian population". A bit too much blood for a coup.
In 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan. ALO calls it "social imperialism", which is "Socialism in word and imperialism in deed; (these are) the essence and policies of the Soviet Union from the mid-1950s onwards". As "imperialism" implies capitalism, the USSR, according to ALO, became capitalist since the death of Stalin. This is a non-revolutionary view on transformation of one social formation into another.
The slogan of "Sholayis" at this time was “struggle against master and lackey”, i.e. against the USSR and PDPA. According to ALO, "Khalqi and Parchami lackeys of Soviet revisionism" desired to sell Afghanistan to the Soviet Union under the guise of "non-capitalist road to development". Hence, it is no wander that PDPA engaged in repression of both the Islamists and the Sholayis. "On August 5, 1979, the Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan (precursor of the ALO) collaborating in a united front with a number of militant Islamist organisationsparticipated in a military uprising in the Bala Hissar garrison in Kabul (popularly remembered as the Bala Hissar insurrection). The insurrection was savagely quashed by the regime and a large number of Revolutionary Group cadres were killed in the fighting, succumbed under torture or were summarily executed".
In 1980's, "the call for a Jihad --a Holy War-- began to be echoed from all corners of the country's plains and valleys". And so ALO "had to fight off the KGB on one side and the Ikhwani (Islamist) bloodhounds on the other side." The Islamists outmaneuvered the ALO. For example, "Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami was the top bloodhound in hunting down Marxist revolutionaries. Many an intrepid revolutionary and many a stalwart patriot was gunned down or made to disappear without a trace in Peshawar, Pakistan, centre of resistance political and logistical activities. Comrade Dr. Faiz Ahmad (picture), veteran of the Marxist movement in Afghanistan and founding leader of the Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan and subsequently of the ALO was handed over to the Hizb-i-Islami by a traitor commissioned by the Hizb (November 12, 1986), and tortured to death". Why we don't hear that a traitor handed over G. Hekmatyar to ALO? Clearly, if these organizations showed enough strength, it was possible to kill the Islamist leaders, as for example Ahmed Shah Massoud was eliminated by a bomb hidden inside a TV camera.
The deaths of Dr. Faiz Ahmad and Prof. Quyum Rahbar (a leader of another revolutionary organization, SAMA) point that the Islamists are a more dangerous enemy than Western Imperialism. Thus, for Marxists in Asia, enemy #1 is “militant Islam”, while enemy #2 is Western imperialism.
ii. The program of ALO
We read in "Standpoints of ALO on a number of key issues":
1. "Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought has been the ideological banner of the ALO ever since its formation in 1973. The ALO understands Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought to be the ideology of the working class against all deviationist, eclectic and anticommunist ideological and political currents".
2. They see their task as “New Democratic revolution under the leadership of the proletarian party”. The term "New Democracy" was coined by Mao in his article "On New Democracy", 1940. In this article, Mao poses the question of the character of Chinese revolution, i.e. he discusses its major goals. He says that a struggle against Japanese imperialism can not be a "bourgeois-democratic" revolution. And yet, one cannot speak about a "socialist revolution" in China, as it is a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country, dominated by agricultural sector. Hence, the new regime, between capitalism and socialism, Mao calls "the new democracy".
3. The position of ALO on revolution is curious. It can be briefly re-stated like this: "A Great Leader dies, and the whole revolution turns into its opposite". Two examples are the USSR and China. Hence, the main concern of a revolutionary organization should be to protect the health of the leader.
4. (ALO believes that) "a proletarian party, a people’s army and a united national front are the indispensable means by which the masses in semi-colonial semi-feudal countries can bring their anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution to victory".
I believe that a communist party is not a proletarian party. A communist party aims at abolition of classes, including "proletariat". Therefore, the leaders of such a party should be both intellectuals and manual workers. Lenin carrying a log of wood at a "subbotnik" (a day of free and voluntary labor in Russia) is a nice illustration.
5. As opposed to RAWA with their talk of UN assistance, ALO seems to believe in armed struggle: "In countries such as ours, divorcing revolution from guns means falling into the pitfall of right opportunism... A revolutionary party which renounces armed revolution and the formation of a people’s army is quite acceptable to the bourgeoisie and the imperialists... only those parties who prepare for armed insurrection have the right to call themselves revolutionary".
For the present, ALO recommends propaganda work among the masses: "With due regard to the cultural backwardness and extremely low political consciousness of the masses, and also in view of the exigencies of the present counter-revolutionary war, the ALO has formulated its policies and tactics to be in accord with the circumstances obtaining in our country. For this reason it places high priority on democratic and political work amongst the masses".
3. Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan,
1. Similarly to ALO, C(M)PA traces its origin to PYO (Progressive Youth Organization) or Young Progressive Organization (YPO), which offered an alternative to Soviet-style "communism".
2. "The YPO had gathered circles and forces who lacked the necessary political and ideological unity. They acted more like a front than a communist organisation, which rendered them incapable of dealing with the economist, centrist and adventurist lines that inevitably emerged." The first split from within YPO (Young Progressive Organization) came from an organization that was influenced by the theory and actions of Che Guevara. This the C(M)PA labels as "adventurist line".
3. Then, ALO split from YPO: "In 1970 a rightist line within the YPO and the new-democratic movement, which came together around a group known as Enteqadion ("the criticisers"), launched a series of attacks on YPO and the line of Shola-Javid. In 1972, after the YPO dissolved, this group seized the opportunity to openly attack the YPO in a pamphlet entitled 'Reject Opportunism and Forward Towards the Red Revolution' in which it announced the formation of the Revolutionary Group of Afghanistan's People, which was later changed to Rahaii (the Liberation Organisation of Afghanistan). Raising the argument that 'essential attention should be paid to the economic needs of workers', the criticisers liquidated the struggle to prepare for people's war. They also took up an economist line towards the peasants, denied the role of the vanguard party and ignored the importance of ideological and political work among the working class and peasantry. It soon became apparent that their economist view was a reflection of the Rightist revisionist line that was gaining power in the Communist Party of China. Indeed, as soon as the revisionist line seized power in China the criticisers showed how critical they really were of reaction by supporting it. Soon this economist deviation developed into full-blown revisionism, as they adopted the reactionary Three Worlds Theory*. When confronted with the Russian invasion, these forces wound up calling for an Islamic Republic, using the argument that the resistance of the people was an Islamic resistance".
* Three Worlds Theory - a theory developed by Mao that suggests that the world is politically and economically divided into three worlds. According to Mao the first world is made up of the superpowers, the second world of the wealthy allies of the superpowers, and the third world of the nonaligned nation. It is notable for grouping the USA and USSR together as exploiter nations.
From an interview with Mao Zedong:
The theory is clearly wrong because it puts the USSR into the same category as the USA. The criteria that Mao used was the number of atomic bombs and wealth of a country. This is not a Marxist criteria. The Marxist criteria for judging a nature of a society is the dominant social relations.
A third current appeared as the followers of Enver Hoxha, an Albanian Stalinist. It was called "Struggle to Form the Communist Party of Afghanistan, which was known as Akhgar after its paper. Many of Akhgar's cadres had split from the Criticisers. They set their main task as the formation of a communist party and in 1976 raised the banner of Mao Tsetung Thought, sharply attacking the Three World Theory as well as the centrists around Samandar. However, many cadres, including a number of intellectuals in exile in Europe, were influenced by the dogmato-revisionist response of Enver Hoxha and the Albanian Party of Labour to the events in China. The leadership of Akhgar soon fell prey to Hoxhaism and published a 'critique' of Mao in Akhgar. The struggle to defend Mao's line continued but did not make much headway, and finally Akhgar as an organisation succumbed to liquidationism from 1983".
Then came the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and a fourth current of Maoism was formed: "SAMA (Liberation Organisation of the People of Afghanistan), the strongest revolutionary organisation of this period, was formed in 1979. It grew out of a coming together of a number of forces that had belonged to the new-democratic movement (Shola-Javid) and also included some smaller groups that had formed independently after that time. But it is clear that the dominant section of SAMA's leadership was from the centrist section of the new-democratic movement. SAMA was in fact essentially a front consisting of a wide range of forces with communist elements, including some who had a past in the YPO and the new-democratic movement. After the founding conference, it openly rejected any sign of past communist inclinations and, in the name of adopting language common to the people, it eliminated any socialist elements in its programme and made it a national-democratic programme. After the capture of Majid, the main leader of SAMA, and the split-off of a left faction (Samandar forces, the centrist faction in the YPO), SAMA retreated further and publicly withdrew the national-democratic programme, treating it instead as an 'internal' programme. An 'Islamic programme' was produced for open use. Upon being pressed, SAMA's leaders argued that 'this is just a cover'. They believed that using this Islamic cover could save them from the Islamic fundamentalists. History showed instead that, far from being a shield that could protect them from the sword of the Islamic fundamentalists, this tactic was suicidal poison for the revolutionary movement inAfghanistan. A short while later, in the summer of 1981 a series of fights erupted between SAMA forces and forces of Hekmatyar's Islamic Party in the Kuhdaman region, during which SAMA was successively defeated. In an effort to save SAMA, its leadership entered negotiations with the government. This led to crisis, followed by splits and desertions". Most important to note is the withdrawal of "socialist program" and substituting by a nationalist, patriotic program with Islamic phrases.
The Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan was founded in 1991. They set as their goal unification of all Maoists in Afghanistan. In 2004 three organizations came together in a Congress: 1) Communist Party of Afghanistan, 2) Struggle Organization for Liberation of Afghanistan, 3) Revolutionary Unity of Workers of Afghanistan. This was known as a Unity Congress, for the result was Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan.
The C(M)PA proclaims as their next goal initiating a war against the U.S. and Islamic forces: "The process of the Congress and its successful conclusion in a single communist party, the Communist Party of Afghanistan (Maoist), is an important and qualitative step in the direction of the further development and advance of the Afghanistan Maoists to prepare, initiate, and develop the revolutionary and popular national war of resistance in Afghanistan against the imperialist invaders and national traitors". However, there are reasons to distrust this declaration. Their recent publications are muddy, without a clear concept.
4. Socialist Workers Organization of Afghanistan, (Workers Socialist Organization of Afghanistan),
Asre Jadid (New Era),
The organization was formed in 2001 from a "group of communist activists and fighters". In their "Declaration" from December 2002, they point to geopolitical significance of American occupation:
The Americans will have to be forcefully kicked out from the region. But who will take up the job?
In 2002 they issued a statement where they analyzed the situation in the country:
The organization makes an estimation that the coming epoch will be one of peaceful work:
This view fails to account for success of Taliban in recent years.
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