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RE: Gosplan - another argument against OFF

This is the last message I'll post on this exchange. Otherwise, it might all
come over a bit Usenet.

With regard to John's response, I think I'd better go into some more detail
about the way  I see campaigning. 

At one level, there is the analysis: what I think is going on in the Middle
East and the rest of the world. This I know to be a lot like John's
interpretation - although it differs in some details. It could be summed up
as 'evil capitalist imperialism, increasingly giving itself a new Milnerite
(look him up and see how scarily like Blair he sounded) facade through a
highly selective use of  'human rights' driven ideology. You might call this
a 'strategic level'.

Now, I can say this in public, and I do, but when I try it in conversation
with friends they tend to glaze over. What I'm asking them to do is accept
that *they* are the bad guys, and *their* taxes are financing mass murder.
For obvious reasons, this is difficult to do, and therefore, in practice I
end up moving onto the 'rhetorical level' - saying things that, while true,
are not crucial, because I know that these will have the greatest impact.

        At this rhetorical level, there's the necessity to change the public
mind on the issue of Iraq. In order to do this, we have to point out the
massive contradictions that are an inevitable result of a foreign policy
that claims to be moral but has killed hundreds of thousands of people. One
of these is the economic issue: there are many more. Every time we get
someone else to realise that the FCO is talking arse, we're that much closer
to ultimate success -  a policy reversal.

        So, when I wrote of using the argument on representatives, I meant
using it in the public sphere. This is not a 'dead end'. Some MPs might
change their minds (which gives us access to a lot of official info, and
people who can call news conferences that get attended) but the real impact
is on the wider population: the process of lobbying gives us a chance to put
forward the arguments against sanctions, and to mobilise more people on the
issue. If we can get 100 MPs to sign a motion condeming sanctions, 100,000
signatures on a petition, and 20,000 people marching through London, then
Blair might change his mind. Not because he's suddenly stopped being a
liberal imperialist, but because the costs of managing the protest - on the
streets, in the media, in the Whips Office - have exceeded the benefits that
the UK regime is gaining from it policy of sanctions - inter alia,
repatriating profits from the Gulf, maintaining the NATO monopoly of force,
saving face, opposing Arab nationalism, and preventing Kurdistan.

        Is this reformism? Quite possibly. What else can we do? It's
certainly 'dialogue' - but of course it has to be a public dialogue,
designed to impress onlookers and mobilise them. If I didn't give that
impression in my earlier post, I'm sorry. 

        I'm not calling for mass workers and peasants uprisings all over the
Middle East to kick out the imperialists. Not because I don't want them, or
wouldn't welcome them. I do and I would. But that sounds worryingly like
'wait for the revolution to solve the problems'. Some famous dead bloke once
wrote a lot of convincing stuff about the need for 'transitional demands' in
this kind of situation.

        I do go for 'UK out the Gulf' (partly because it's so easy to shout
to the same tune as 'Ooops Upside Your Head' by the Gap Band). The 'Gosplan
argument' is due to the fact that in order to build a movement that can
*get* this result, we have to say a lot of different truthful things about
why the UK is the Gulf is such a crap idea. Point out the gap between their
rhetoric ("freedom lovers") and the reality - new and more horrible forms of

        Moonirah then wrote:

        []  > provided by the Middle East Department at F.C.O.
        []  > "sanctions cannot be lifted until this issue is
        []  > resolved." This forms part of their solid stance.
        []  > Discuss all other aspects and angles on Iraq except
        []  > this humanitarian issue - you roll on without progress.

        I am utterly opposed to this attitude. All sorts of things have been
part of the FCO's 'solid stance': including the idea that starving Iraqis is
the correct way to put pressure on the Ba'athist regime. What the FCO thinks
*does* matter  - we need to know what they are saying in order to rebut it.
But to treat it as concrete or correct is foolish. The point of campaigning
against sanctions is to *change* their minds, so starting from a position
that maintains we *can't* do this means either:

        * you don't really want to change sanctions
        * you're not going about it an a very effective way.

        Once more (and finally): Opposing sanctions is about de-linking them
from the political differences between the Iraqi regime and the US/UK. It is
impossible to pick and choose between nasty things that Saddam is doing -
holding hostages, developing WMDs, shooting political opponents - and decide
that some of these are a justification for keeping sanctions All of them
have got a humanitarian component to them, but none of them justify the mass
killing that is the consequence of the UN blockade. Non-military sanctions
should be raised yesterday, no matter what the Iraqi regime does or doesn't
do. Military sanctions are a different issue.

        Right, that's my ha'porth - I'll shut up now, whilst reserving my
right to discuss whatever I feel like.

        love from Leicester,

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