John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? The recent intense discussion within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) and beyond has heard claims that the SWP rests on the traditions of democratic centralism inherited from the Bolsheviks.

John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Some extended thoughts about Stephanie Bottrill, the woman who committed suicide because of the bedroom tax.

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the killing of Blair Peach by the police. David Renton looks back at Blair Peach’s life as a poet, trade unionist and committed antifascist

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Bunny La Roche of RS21 on Nigel Farage's visit to Kent

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Financial Appeal

We're up and running! An appeal for funds to kickstart the IS Network

Financial Appeal

Luke Staunton: On Syria and imperialism

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Over the last couple of days I've not been able to bring myself to share links or events that claim 'no war with Syria' without adding some critical comment. The Stop the War Coalition event, for example, doesn't mention Assad, nor does it mention the revolution which is instead relegated to being a 'civil war' with the implication that it is now overwhelmingly Islamist in character and irrevocably trapped in a Sunni-Shi'ite bloodbath.

This fogginess perpetuates the reheated Russia Today line that is coming to dominate the debate. While opposing intervention we should stress that the Syrian revolution is a revolution. Calling for no war on Syria without acknowledging this airbrushes out the masses and makes them dupes of imperialist powers and little else, while crude comparisons to 2003 neglect the changed nature of imperialism in the wake of protracted disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan and the popular revolutions that have swept across the region. The left should point to the Local Coordinating Committees that have developed in towns and cities and in many cases are responsible for democratically running them under unthinkable conditions: in Idlib, Daara, Kafranbel, Taftanaz and Aleppo to name a few.

The revolution has many similar roots to other popular revolts in the region: the neoliberalisation of the economy, rapid rural to urban migration, rising food prices, corruption by ruling cliques and a brutal security apparatus, and in Syria a disastrous irrigation policy.

We do not deny that with the rapid escalation to armed conflict by the regime that the agency of the masses has been displaced, nor would we deny that Islamists funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar such as the Jabhat al-Nusra front and ISIS are becoming a more prominent force and have attempted to stoke sectarian violence (much like the regime Shabiha who have openly carried out sectarian massacres).

Still, these brigades have also been opposed by both the Free Syrian Army and by the unarmed masses in some towns: the women of Raqqa held protests against a Salafist militia and their authoritarianism, for example. Likewise there are 'leaderships-in-waiting' willing to kowtow to the US, though thus far they have been widely disregarded by the de facto leadership on the ground.

There have also been conscious attempts to overcome sectarian division; many Christians, Kurds and even Alawites have joined the revolution while Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp came out against the regime, which responded with bombs. This unity is under greater strain but still exists, as do the regular protests in towns and districts, now often under cover of night. The response has to be to outright reject Western intervention which will only hasten the spiral of violence and cement imperialist control.

We also have to reject the already existing intervention from imperialist and sub-imperialist powers: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Hezbollah. It is possible to reject intervention without dismissing the revolution as a 'civil war' or falling into Assad apologism when over 100,000 have already been killed while millions more have been displaced before the use of chemical weapons now being used as a pretext for war.

The Revolutionary Left Current in Syria recently issued a statement declaring, 'Our revolution has no sincere ally, except the popular revolutions of the region and of the world and of all the militants struggling against regimes of ignorance and servitude and exploitation No to Washington! No to Moscow! No to Riyadh! No to Tehran!' It is in that spirit that we take to the streets to oppose intervention from our own governments.

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