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Commentary :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Media : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : War and Militarism
Lebanon: Transform the resistance into a broad struggle for national and social liberation
04 Aug 2006
Modified: 05:41:34 PM
To be able to stop Israel's current attack, the enormous energy and fighting spirit of the workers and oppressed people of Lebanon must be set in motion, through a program that unites the resistance to imperialism with the struggle against the local exploiters and the political elite
[Translation provided by Working Class Emancipation: laboraction (at) aim.com ]

Lebanon: Our program
Transform the resistance into a broad struggle for national and social liberation
By Claudia Cinatti
Source: La Verdad Obrera N° 198

As the Israeli air force, armed by US imperialism, bombs the villages of southern Lebanon, destroys the infrastructure, and assassinates civilians, mostly children, the elderly, and disabled people, the Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora “regrets” that the “international community” won't intervene to stop the offensive, hoping that the principal sponsor of Israel, the United States, would consider that enough bombs had been dropped by now for a cease-fire to be instituted.

The current Israeli attack against Lebanon is no exception: not only do they make up the majority of the refugees, but thousands of immigrant workers, mostly servants, chauffers, and housekeepers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Sudan, and other middle eastern countries, were left to fend for themselves by their Lebanese bosses who fled the bombing, leaving their workers without money, and in some cases, locked up in their houses.

However, despite these hard times the Lebanese people are far from blaming Hezbollah for the destruction and death caused by the Zionist troops: according to the polls more than 80% support the resistance against the Israeli aggression in Lebanon.

But to be able to defeat the attack from Israel and imperialism, the limits of the Hezbollah militia's resistance must be overcome. The broad masses of workers, peasants, poor and oppressed people must take the stage, transforming the current resistance into a broad struggle for national and social liberation.

The government of the Lebanese millionaires is allied with imperialism.

The current “national unity” government in Lebanon only protects the material interests of its prosperous businessmen in construction, tourism, and finance. Prime Minister Siniora is part of the multimillionaire political elite that has governed the country since the end of the civil war. His predecessor, the multimillionaire businessman Rafik Hariri [1], amassed a fortune that made him the fourth richest politician in the world. But while his family inherited around 16.7 billion dollars after his assassination in February of 2005, the “inheritance” that he left the Lebanese workers and people is a heavy burden.

The post-war “reconstruction program” led to a foreign debt of 35 billion dollars, which amounts to 185% of the gross national product. Under the guidance of the IMF and the World Bank, Hariri launched a neoliberal structural adjustment plan which combined the well-known recipe of cutbacks in public spending, privatizations, high taxes, and attacks on wages. Unemployment stagnates at 20% of the population, and poverty at 30%. This situation provoked a deep social polarization between the comfortable middle layers of society, who enjoyed boom in business and the working class [2], which led important struggles like the general strikes of 2003 and 2004. Fouad Siniora is another businessman, a friend and employee of Hariri's many businesses, and the minister of finance in his government, responsible for the increase in foreign debt [3] and the “structural adjustment” programs.

Hezbollah's limitations for leading a true national liberation struggle

Doubtlessly, Hezbollah has been strengthened, at a national level and whole Arab and Muslim world, as a legitimate force of resistance against Israeli oppression. This is because despite being a militia of limited size – calculated to be around 6,000 fighters – it is the only one that confronts the powerful Zionist military, in contrast of the pro-imperialist politics, not only of the Lebanese government but also of the major Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The Lebanese army has stayed on the sidelines of the conflict while its country has been brutally attacked by the Zionist army. It has left the resistance in the hands of the Hezbollah militia, when the army's forces are ten times larger, showing in this manner the bourgeois and pro-imperialist character of its generals and commanding staff who report to the government of Siniora.

Far from Bush and Blair's caricature of Hezbollah as a band of fanatics and terrorists, the truth is that this is an organization with broad popular support. For years, Hezbollah has woven an extensive aid network that includes health and education services for the poorest sectors, which although they are mostly located in the Shi'ite neighborhoods and villages, help the local population regardless of religious belief, which along with its resistance against Israel, has allowed Hezbollah to grow its influence and political power in Lebanon year after year, extending its base to sectors of the urban middle class.

In the last elections in 2005, Hezbollah gained 14 seats in parliament appealing to a combination of anti-imperialist rhetoric and the rejection of the neoliberal plans of the preceding governments, a program combining social reform with religious ideology.

But despite its denunciations of the Lebanese regime, Hezbollah participates in the “national unity government” of Fouad Siniora, which came to power under the influence of the United States through the so-called “cedar revolution” and the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon. The Hezbollah Minister of Energy has not resigned from the cabinet, even though the Lebanese government hasn't taken the least measure to confront the Israeli attack.

Despite its anti-imperialist rhetoric and its armed actions against Israel, due to its social character and political program, Hezbollah will not transform the current conflict into a true national and social liberation struggle. Though it might tactically declare its opposition to the forceful imposition of Islam and consider itself allied with the oppressed people of the world, including non-Muslims, its strategic objective is the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon, inspired by the 1979 Iranian revolution and ayatollah Khomeini.

The Iranian theocracy that founded Hezbollah, that appointed its “spiritual leader”, and that decisively influences its political orientation, is profoundly reactionary. Expressing the interests of the bazaar bourgeoisie [4], it drowned the budding social revolution in blood in 1979, and established a completely repressive theocratic regime, which although it has major differences with the US, preserved the capitalist character of the country. Iran, moreover, for its own strategic reasons, supported the US invasion of Iraq by means of its affiliated organizations there. Along with Syria, which also maintains relations with Hezbollah, it intends to capitalize on the situation in Lebanon in its own interests and not those of the exploited masses of the region.

The active intervention of the mass movement

To be able to stop Israel's current attack, the enormous energy and fighting spirit of the workers and oppressed people of Lebanon must be set in motion, through a program that unites the resistance to imperialism with the struggle against the local exploiters and the political elite, brought together in the so-called “March 14 coalition” [5], in which the exploited and oppressed Lebanese people have no interest, and which in the face of the attacks has been negotiating the disarmament of the Hezbollah fighters, in accordance with the demands of the imperialists.

A truly revolutionary program must begin with the unconditional defense of the Lebanese resistance against Israeli military aggression, and with the international struggle for the defeat of Israel, the United States, and their allies. Nevertheless, the resistance against an infinitely superior army can not be limited to the Hezbollah militia, which exercises an exclusive monopoly over the armed struggle, reserving for the “civilians” the role of passive supporters, victims, or refugees. It's necessary to proceed with the general arming of the working class and poor population, which would enable them to defeat the Zionist state's ground invasion troops in every village, giving a massive character to the resistance, which is the only way to defeat enemies as powerful as imperialism and the Zionist state. At the same time, the revolutionary program must orient itself towards the rank and file of the Lebanese army, to win them over so that they break with the collaborationist policy of the government.

This struggle must have a strategic perspective, beyond gaining a “moral victory” over the Arab agents of imperialism and Israel. On the basis defeating the Israeli attack by all necessary means, we must raise the demand for the expropriation of the imperialist businesses and the big local business owners, as well as appropriating the enormous fortunes of the millionaire politicians.

Despite the frequently heroic character of the struggles that the masses of the region have undertaken, such as the two Palestinian intifadas or the Iranian revolution of 1979, these have been headed by leaderships without a strategy for victory.

Success calls for joining in the front ranks of the resistance, to overcome the current leadership (whether Islamic or Arab nationalist), carrying out a revolutionary program, policy, and strategy so that the working class of the Middle East, leading the poor peasants, the oppressed youth, and all the region's exploited people, can decisively defeat the terrorist state of Israel, the United States, and the corrupt Arab bourgeoisie, advancing toward a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Middle East.

[1] 1 A Sunni Lebanese politician, he was prime minister between 1992 and 1998 and for a second term from 2000 to October of 2004, when he resigned amidst a wave of workers' protests. He began to accumulate his fortune during the civil war, building deluxe hotels and other construction projects for the Saudi monarchy. The Saudi royal family granted him citizenship, named him as their representative in Lebanon, and began new investments for him that they drew him from the construction business to the oil industry and finance, extending his investments to Paris and Houston. He died in Beirut from a terrorist attack in February, 2005. The US blamed Syria for his assassination, which precipitated the so-called “Cedar Revolution” led by the Christian and pro-imperialist sectors in Lebanon.

[2] The Lebanese working class is composed of about 1.6 million wage workers, of whom 62% are employed in the service sector, 31% in industry, and 7% in agriculture.

[3] According to an article in the liberal Lebanese “Daily Standard”, based on the latest report of the IMF on Lebanon's debt, “in 1988 the debt was less than one billion dollars (...) however in the next ten years it grew to $16 billion in 1998 and doubled to $35 billion in 2005”.

[4] A traditional sector of the Iranian bourgeoisie, essentially commercial and tied to the Shi'ite clerics, which did not benefit from the “modernizing” plan implemented by the Shah in league with imperialism before his fall.

[5] It unites Washington's clients in Lebanon, among others: the Future Movement (Hariri's Sunni political party), their Druze allies led by Walid Jumblatt, the liberal Christians and the forces of the Lebanese Maronite Christian right wing. It also includes the Democratic Left Party (founded by ex-stalinists). It is named after the mobilizations that were organized on this date for the withdrawal of Syrian troops.
See also:
http://www.ft-ci.org/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/labor_action/

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Typos! Sorry.
06 Aug 2006
Sorry, some words were inadvertently deleted from the translation. Here is the corrected text.

Lebanon: Our program
Transform the resistance into a broad struggle for national and social liberation

By Claudia Cinatti
Source: La Verdad Obrera N° 198

As the Israeli air force, armed by US imperialism, bombs the villages of southern Lebanon, destroys the infrastructure, and assassinates civilians, mostly children, the elderly, and disabled people, the Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora “regrets” that the “international community” won't intervene to stop the offensive, hoping that the principal sponsor of Israel, the United States, would consider that enough bombs had been dropped by now for a cease-fire to be instituted.

It's nothing new that in war, those who suffer most are the workers and poor people. The current Israeli attack against Lebanon is no exception: not only do they make up the majority of the refugees, but thousands of immigrant workers, mostly servants, chauffers, and housekeepers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Sudan, and other middle eastern countries, were left to fend for themselves by their Lebanese bosses who fled the bombing, leaving their workers without money, and in some cases, locked up in their houses.

However, despite these hard times the Lebanese people are far from blaming Hezbollah for the destruction and death caused by the Zionist troops: according to the polls more than 80% support the resistance against the Israeli aggression in Lebanon.

But to be able to defeat the attack from Israel and imperialism, the limits of the Hezbollah militia's resistance must be overcome. The broad masses of workers, peasants, poor and oppressed people must take the stage, transforming the current resistance into a broad struggle for national and social liberation.

The government of the Lebanese millionaires is allied with imperialism.

The current “national unity” government in Lebanon only protects the material interests of its prosperous businessmen in construction, tourism, and finance. Prime Minister Siniora is part of the multimillionaire political elite that has governed the country since the end of the civil war. His predecessor, the multimillionaire businessman Rafik Hariri [1], amassed a fortune that made him the fourth richest politician in the world. But while his family inherited around 16.7 billion dollars after his assassination in February of 2005, the “inheritance” that he left the Lebanese workers and people is a heavy burden.

The post-war “reconstruction program” led to a foreign debt of 35 billion dollars, which amounts to 185% of the gross national product. Under the guidance of the IMF and the World Bank, Hariri launched a neoliberal structural adjustment plan which combined the well-known recipe of cutbacks in public spending, privatizations, high taxes, and attacks on wages. Unemployment stagnates at 20% of the population, and poverty at 30%. This situation provoked a deep social polarization between the comfortable middle layers of society, who enjoyed boom in business and the working class [2], which led important struggles like the general strikes of 2003 and 2004. Fouad Siniora is another businessman, a friend and employee of Hariri's many businesses, and the minister of finance in his government, responsible for the increase in foreign debt [3] and the “structural adjustment” programs.

Hezbollah's limitations for leading a true national liberation struggle

Doubtlessly, Hezbollah has been strengthened, at a national level and throughout the whole Arab and Muslim world, as a legitimate force of resistance against Israeli oppression. This is because despite being a militia of limited size – calculated to be around 6,000 fighters – it is the only one that confronts the powerful Zionist military, in contrast to the pro-imperialist politics, not only of the Lebanese government but also of the major Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The Lebanese army has stayed on the sidelines of the conflict while its country has been brutally attacked by the Zionist army. It has left the resistance in the hands of the Hezbollah militia, when the army's forces are ten times larger, showing in this manner the bourgeois and pro-imperialist character of its generals and commanding staff who report to the government of Siniora.

Far from Bush and Blair's caricature of Hezbollah as a band of fanatics and terrorists, the truth is that this is an organization with broad popular support. For years, Hezbollah has woven an extensive aid network that includes health and education services for the poorest sectors, which although they are mostly located in the Shi'ite neighborhoods and villages, help the local population regardless of religious belief, which along with its resistance against Israel, has allowed Hezbollah to grow its influence and political power in Lebanon year after year, extending its base to sectors of the urban middle class.

In the last elections in 2005, Hezbollah gained 14 seats in parliament appealing to a combination of anti-imperialist rhetoric and the rejection of the neoliberal plans of the preceding governments, a program combining social reform with religious ideology.

But despite its denunciations of the Lebanese regime, Hezbollah participates in the “national unity government” of Fouad Siniora, which came to power under the influence of the United States through the so-called “cedar revolution” and the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon. The Hezbollah Minister of Energy has not resigned from the cabinet, even though the Lebanese government hasn't taken the least measure to confront the Israeli attack.

Despite its anti-imperialist rhetoric and its armed actions against Israel, due to its social character and political program, Hezbollah will not transform the current conflict into a true national and social liberation struggle. Though it might tactically declare its opposition to the forceful imposition of Islam and consider itself allied with the oppressed people of the world, including non-Muslims, its strategic objective is the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon, inspired by the 1979 Iranian revolution and ayatollah Khomeini.

The Iranian theocracy that founded Hezbollah, that appointed its “spiritual leader”, and that decisively influences its political orientation, is profoundly reactionary. Expressing the interests of the bazaar bourgeoisie [4], it drowned the budding social revolution in blood in 1979, and established a completely repressive theocratic regime, which although it has major differences with the US, preserved the capitalist character of the country. Iran, moreover, for its own strategic reasons, supported the US invasion of Iraq by means of its affiliated organizations there. Along with Syria, which also maintains relations with Hezbollah, it intends to capitalize on the situation in Lebanon in its own interests and not those of the exploited masses of the region.

The active intervention of the mass movement

To be able to stop Israel's current attack, the enormous energy and fighting spirit of the workers and oppressed people of Lebanon must be set in motion, through a program that unites the resistance to imperialism with the struggle against the local exploiters and the political elite, brought together in the so-called “March 14 coalition” [5], in which the exploited and oppressed Lebanese people have no interest, and which in the face of the attacks has been negotiating the disarmament of the Hezbollah fighters, in accordance with the demands of the imperialists.

A truly revolutionary program must begin with the unconditional defense of the Lebanese resistance against Israeli military aggression, and with the international struggle for the defeat of Israel, the United States, and their allies. Nevertheless, the resistance against an infinitely superior army can not be limited to the Hezbollah militia, which exercises an exclusive monopoly over the armed struggle, reserving for the “civilians” the role of passive supporters, victims, or refugees. It's necessary to proceed with the general arming of the working class and poor population, which would enable them to defeat the Zionist state's ground invasion troops in every village, giving a massive character to the resistance, which is the only way to defeat enemies as powerful as imperialism and the Zionist state. At the same time, the revolutionary program must orient itself towards the rank and file of the Lebanese army, to win them over so that they break with the collaborationist policy of the government.

This struggle must have a strategic perspective, beyond gaining a “moral victory” over the Arab agents of imperialism and Israel. On the basis defeating the Israeli attack by all necessary means, we must raise the demand for the expropriation of the imperialist businesses and the big local business owners, as well as appropriating the enormous fortunes of the millionaire politicians.

Despite the frequently heroic character of the struggles that the masses of the region have undertaken, such as the two Palestinian intifadas or the Iranian revolution of 1979, these have been headed by leaderships without a strategy for victory.

Success calls for joining in the front ranks of the resistance, to overcome the current leadership (whether Islamic or Arab nationalist), carrying out a revolutionary program, policy, and strategy so that the working class of the Middle East, leading the poor peasants, the oppressed youth, and all the region's exploited people, can decisively defeat the terrorist state of Israel, the United States, and the corrupt Arab bourgeoisie, advancing toward a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Middle East.

[1] 1 A Sunni Lebanese politician, he was prime minister between 1992 and 1998 and for a second term from 2000 to October of 2004, when he resigned amidst a wave of workers' protests. He began to accumulate his fortune during the civil war, building deluxe hotels and other construction projects for the Saudi monarchy. The Saudi royal family granted him citizenship, named him as their representative in Lebanon, and began new investments for him that they drew him from the construction business to the oil industry and finance, extending his investments to Paris and Houston. He died in Beirut from a terrorist attack in February, 2005. The US blamed Syria for his assassination, which precipitated the so-called “Cedar Revolution” led by the Christian and pro-imperialist sectors in Lebanon.

[2] The Lebanese working class is composed of about 1.6 million wage workers, of whom 62% are employed in the service sector, 31% in industry, and 7% in agriculture.

[3] According to an article in the liberal Lebanese “Daily Standard”, based on the latest report of the IMF on Lebanon's debt, “in 1988 the debt was less than one billion dollars (...) however in the next ten years it grew to $16 billion in 1998 and doubled to $35 billion in 2005”.

[4] A traditional sector of the Iranian bourgeoisie, essentially commercial and tied to the Shi'ite clerics, which did not benefit from the “modernizing” plan implemented by the Shah in league with imperialism before his fall.

[5] It unites Washington's clients in Lebanon, among others: the Future Movement (Hariri's Sunni political party), their Druze allies led by Walid Jumblatt, the liberal Christians and the forces of the Lebanese Maronite Christian right wing. It also includes the Democratic Left Party (founded by ex-stalinists). It is named after the mobilizations that were organized on this date for the withdrawal of Syrian troops.