In this time when the so-caled “left” can align itself with Iran and/or China (yes: naked capitalism without even the protection for workers that bourgeois democracy allows), and identify with the clerical fascists of Hamas ( (حماس Ḥamās, an acronym of حركة المقاومة الاسلامية Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamat al-Islāmiyyah), and Hezbollah: Sean Matgamna continues what will be, in future, recognised as a crucial contribution to the Marxist analysis of modern history and our own role (as leftists) in it.
Matgamna’s latest instalment is, quite simply, a Marxist masterpiece. The section on Algeria and the trade union movement/MNA is particularly important, and (as far as I know) has never been discussed -even in closed “democratic centralist” quarters - before, anywhere:
“Messali was understood to have had links with the early Communist International and had support in the Algerian trade union movement and among Algerian trade unionists in France. The International Socialist League (Shachtman); the Cannon segment of the split orthodox Trotskyist world movement, including the Lambertists in France; the SWP’s predecessor Socialist Review, and Healy’s group in Britain, which published a pamphlet with a portrait of Messali Hadj on the cover – they all backed Messali, against the more recently emerged and formally more right-wing and initially purely nationalist FLN.
“For some of them, Messali was their substitute for a Communist Party – and for the Stalinists who had already made “deformed” “socialist” revolutions in Yugoslavia, China and North Vietnam.
“The Pablo-Mandel orthodox Trotskyists backed the other nationalist organisation, the FLN, the eventual rulers of Algeria.
“It became known that the MNA was putting up much less of a fight than the FLN, and eventually, around 1958, that in some areas it had arrangements of coexistence with the occupying French forces. There are perhaps parallels with the rival anti-German forces in early-1940s Yugoslavia, Stalinist and Chetnik-Royalist, and with the two IRAs of the 1970s, the Stalinist led “Official Republicans” and the initially right-wing breakaway, the “Provisional IRA”.
“In the polemical war between the different Trotskyists, the Pablo-Mandel group eventually won hands down against the champions of the MNA and Messali. I know of no balance sheet drawn up by any of the champions of Messali and the MNA.
“The anti-imperialist politics that seemed to triumph then, of unconditional solidarity with those leading the anti-imperialist fight irrespective of politics, dominated the left thereafter. This experience was fed into the anti Vietnam war movement by Trotskyist groups influenced greatly by their experience over Algeria, and by the IS organisation, the future SWP-UK .”
Read the rest of Matgamna’s article, here