Translated by Vadim Stolz
Last week, the London based organization called “International Solidarity With Workers’ in Russia” (ISWOR) announced that in mid-February (2000) a group of Russian organizations - among them are the trade union alliance Zashchita and other groups in the Movement for Workers’ Party, anarchists and so on - would organize a demonstration of “workers.” It was also announced that this demonstration would be based on the demand “To Stop the War Against Chechnya!” , i.e., under the slogan of the London based “Committee for Workers’ Solidarity With Chechnya (CWSC) ISWOR is one of the founding members of this Committee. It was also declared that the common ground of all the participants of this demonstration lies in their “opposition to racism, patriotism, and ultranationalism.” (Note this peculiar placement of “patriotism” between racism and ultranationalism, which looks particularly spicy in a letter from London rather than Kostroma). The letter ended with the call for the international collection of money for “leaflets” for this demonstration.
In connection with this, I feel it is necessary to share
the information I have about this London Committee with the activists of
labor movement in Russia. What follows is a short summary of my findings
about the origin and class nature of this organization, which will be developed
in the third part of my article “The Imperialist Left and the War in Chechnya.”
The first two parts of this article in English can be read at
On the same page you can find other relevant materials.
On 11 December 1999, two members of British Parliament from the ruling party—Corbin and Benn—introduced the following motion:
“This Parliament condemns Russia’s military actions in
Chechnya and calls for the withdrawal of troops and political solution,
which recognizes Chechnya’s right for self-determination. The Parliament
is concerned that Russia’s actions are partly motivated by the her wish
to control the oil and gas lines on Chechnya’s territory. The Parliament
is also concerned by the fact that the critique (sic) of Russia does not
pay enough attention to the support of pacifist and antiwar groups in Russia.
(Reverse translation – trans.)
The prehistory of this resolution as follows.
On November 30, one of the ISWOR’s members (Caroline Ford) contacted Mark Osborne, a leader of the Alliance for WorkersLiberty--AWL, London—and proposed to organize a campaign against the war in Chechnya “like the Kosovo one.”
Two days later, on December 2 Osborn approved her proposal and told her that next week two members of Chechen government were expected in London. “It seems”, he added twice (Since this discussion was conducted in public Osborne could not fail to realize that the possession of such confidential information by a representative of a small Trotskyist sect could provoke some uncomfortable questions). He added: “The solidarity work will be possible after their visit.”
On December 7--after the Russian troops unexpectedly quickly captured the town of Argun, blocked the town of Urus Martan and simultaneously with Bill Clinton’s announcement that Russia will pay dearly for her military actions in Chechnya—Osborn and others proceeded full speed ahead with their “solidarity” but still kept the project in secret. That day Osborn sent ISWOR the text of the "Anti-War Protest Statement” for collecting signatures. The Statement already had five signatures on it. Four days later the summary of this statement became the text of the early-time day motion by Benn and Corbin.
It appears that the authors of this statement were three of its five original signatories: Mark Osborn, Quintin Hoare, and Eric Lee. I will describe the political nature of these personalities later.
On December 8 the text of the Statement was published by the “Guardian”, the newspaper close to the left wing of Blair’s party
On December 9 Osborn informs that Corbin had adopted the text of the Statement as the basis for his motion in the Parliament. (It is difficult not to envy the British fighters for the emancipation the working class! Just imagine our statements being published in “Izvestiya” and adopted as resolutions by Russia’s ruling class!). Osborn also informs about the organizational meeting on December 11 (i.e., on the day of Corbin’s and Benn’s motion) at which the members will receive pictures of Corbin handing the Statement to the representatives of Russian Embassy and surrounded by the placards “Russian Troops, Out of Chechnya!” and “Stop the War in Chechnya!”
On December 10 the Demsoyuz (the rabidly anticommunist organization of comprador intelligentsia) organizes a protest against the operation in Chechnya. (i.e., right on the eve of Corbin’s motion that demands paying “attention to the support of pacifist and antiwar groups in Russia” –a remarkable feat of organization we have to learn from the imperialists)
December 11. Osborn informs the newly born organization about the motion.
December 12. ISWOR announces that the meeting on December 11 decided to form the Committee for Workers’ Solidarity With Chechnya and that on December 16 this Committee will be picketing the Aeroflot office in London. The Web Page of the Committee appears on the Internet (the web page quietly gone off the net six months year later – trans.)
CSWC organizes two meeting in London (18 and 19 January),
both times with Corbin as main speaker.
On February 5 they plan a demo in London with Benn under the slogan “Russian Troops, Out of Chechnya!” and “Self-Determination to Chechnya!” It is noteworthy that this demo is said to be organized by a new organization without the word “workers” in its name: “Campaign to Stop the War in Chechnya.” Furthermore, Steve Myers, the leader of ISWOR, claims that an antiwar demonstration-- “organized by anarchists, pacifists, and the groups within the Movement for the Workers’ Party, including Shein’s Zashchita”-- is planned to march in Moscow on the same date
Let me now describe the political face of the authors of the “Statement.”
Mark Osborn, one of AWL’s leaders. His group is an off-shoot of the former Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) led by Cliff Slaughter. WRP gained some notoriety thanks to its involvement in the war in Bosnia. It stood behind the “Workers Aid to Bosnia”, who organized a convoy from England to Bosnia with humanitarian aid to Moslems and Croats. In 1993 WRP had to admit that it organized the convoy to Tuzla (Bosnia) in close collaboration with the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As it became known this convoy was used to open the so-called “northern corridor”, which allowed Croats nationalists to overrun the Serb-controlled Krajina in their bid for “Greater Croatia.” Although the WRP’s trucks could use a safer and more convenient route to Tuzla, its leadership insisted on using the northern route. To this end, they entered into negotiations with Goiko Susak, the minister of defense and the leader of the fascist wing of the Croatian government, and demanded that Croat nationalist militia in Bosnia to clear the way for the WRP's "humanitarian aid convoy" to Tuzla. As a matter of fact, all activities of WRP in Bosnia were directed to help preparing the beachhead for the arrival of U.S. tanks to Tuzla next year.
The leaders of ISWOR Taylor and Myers took part in the WRP’s Bosnian operation. They did not answer my requests to tell if they participated in the opening of the “northern corridor.”
Osborn organized similar operation in relation to Kosovo. But this time things did not go as far as sending a convoy. It was limited by the ideological and propagandistic whitewashing of NATO from the “left”. AWL organized demonstrations in London and other cities, demanding the immediate arming of KLA, criticized NATO’s intervention for not being forceful enough, etc.
Osborn and Hoare met in October of 1998, when Hoare and his Bosnian Institute were feverishly engaged in the ideological and propagandist legitimation of NATO’s aggression against Serbia (See Osborn’s interview with Hoare in Workers Liberty 50-51). [Since then the AWL took the issues of this publication off their web page -- trans.]
Bosnian Institute. This NGO, based in London, was established on the money of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (US) in 1997, i.e., two years before the Rambouillet ultimatum and the attack on Serbia. The choice of Hoare as the director of this NGO might have seemed unexpected to those who knew his biography.
In 1970 Hoare and his comrades in the “International Marxist Group” (England) called for barricades and a permanent revolution. Then Hoare goes over to the “new left” and dedicates himself to a calmer business of translating Gramsci. These translations made his name known and he became a member of the editorial board of New Left Review. Then in 1993 Hoare and a group editors, which included his wife Branka Magas, wrote a letter of resignation when another group of the “new left” editors ceased the control package of NLR (one of them was another future renegade Perry Anderson –trans.). Then a blank space, Hoare surfaces again only in 1997 as the Director of Bosnian Institute. This time Hoare and his wife, who is also a paid employee of the Institute, speak out as vicious enemies of Yugoslavia and propagandists for Croatian and Moslem nationalisms. Not accidentally, their son, Attila Hoare-- a Cambridge student and a theoretician of Croatian and Bosnian nationalisms --became the right hand of Cliff Slaughter, who put at his disposal the WPR’s publishing resources for a theoretical legitimation of Balkan separatism and the complete dismemberment of Yugoslavia.
Even that part of the activities of the Bosnian Institute that are open to public scrutiny do not leave a shade of a doubt that this organization plays the role of a propagandist and a lobbyist for the eastward expansion of NATO. Since its inception Hoare’s Institute has been campaigning for the “final solution of the Balkan question.” In August of 1999 Hoare organized the open letter of Trans-Atlantic “public” demanding independence for Kosovo. A week later he was joined by Senator Bob Dole, one the most influential Republicans who often writes in the Bosnian Report published by the Institute.
It is noteworthy that Hoare’s activities focus on but
are not limited by Bosnia and even the Balkans. He shows interest in the
Northern Caucasus and the Moslem territories of Russia. One of his
most interesting contacts in Russia is Andrei Piontkovsky, a notable comprador
and the director of the “Center for Strategic Studies” in Moscow,
which seem to be a front for the J. M. Olin Center of Strategic Studies
at the Harvard University, a leading intelligence and scientific organism
of US imperialism.
Piontkovsky, a self-described “specialist on strategic nuclear forces”, performs in Moscow similar role in relation to NATO that Hoare does in London. Apparently, is was Hoare with his ties to NATO who was instrumental in inviting Dr. Taras Kuzio, the Head of the Nato Information Office in Kiev, to the London demo planned for February 5. Kuzio, who came out of the belly of London Sovietology, is experienced class fighter. His recent interview in Kiev reveals some interesting aspects of NATO’s political tactics in the former Soviet Union, in particular its work with the “Left.”
Kuzio, one of the signatories of the Statement, enthusiastically accepted the invitation to speak at the meeting and if my investigation and especially the publication of the second part of my article did not put ISWOR on guard this NATO agent might well be expressing his “solidarity” with the “workers demonstration” in Moscow on February 5.
The third author of the Statement, Eric Lee, is usually known as a theoretician and organizer of the trade unionist Internet. Much less known is his role in anticommunist and anti-Soviet propaganda within the labor movement and his long connection with State Department, the Russian Center at Harvard, and the Sovietology of the Cold War (he has authored an amateurish book Stalin and Okhrana). Lee is one of the most experienced and influential agents of the bourgeoisie in the world labor movement, who works in its “left”, social-democratic wing. (Lee also has strong connection to the Zionist labor movement, in particular to its most racist “socialist” kibbutzim form—trans.)
Lee’s colleague and another signatory of the Letter is Dan Gallin who presently is a head of the Global Labor Institute in Switzerland, conveniently located not far from Davos where the biggest friends of the working class meet. Prior to this position Gallin was the president of the International Federation of Teachers. He specializes on left anticommunism in the system of labor education. Interestingly, Gallin defended Shmakov and his Federation of Independent Trade Unions (though never mentioning its name) from the demand to transfer the funds inherited by this yellow trade union to genuinely independent unions. If we take into account that Gallin is also the president of IUF (International Union of Food) the recent appointment of Shmakov’s man Kirill Buketov to a post in the international hierarchy of this union may confirm special relations between Gallin and Shmakov.
Gallin is a leading organizer of international labor unions’ protests against the war in Chechnya. He is also a leading theoretician of the ideology of “human rights” in labor movement. His political statements show strong affinity with the language of the imperialist left.
31 January 2000