Stalin told us in 1924 (in Foundations of Leninism) that the anti-colonial struggle being led by the Emir of Afghanistan was helping to undermine British imperialism, and, for that reason, was assisting the cause of proletarian revolution.
He stressed that this national struggle should therefore be supported by workers, regardless of how undemocratic and backward the Emir’s ideology might be, and regardless of how ‘democratic’ or even ‘socialist’ might be the avowed credentials of those in Britain who stood in defence of colonial oppression.
Those who have digested this lesson well will have had no difficulty in recognising that the anti-imperialist struggle waged by the many strands of the Afghan resistance, including the medievalist Taliban, are undermining Anglo-American imperialism and earning the support of all progressives.
Whether they intend it or not, this resistance to imperialist aggression is assisting the cause of proletarian revolution – however backward be the ideology and social practice of those carrying it out, and however impeccably ‘democratic’ may be the beliefs and lifestyles of their ‘civilised’ opponents, sheltering under the bloodstained Stars and Stripes or Union Jack.
So the support that the Afghan resistance deserves from the working class has never been conditional upon the fulfilment of any exacting ideological criteria. Those who set ‘democratic’, ‘secular’ or ‘socialist’ tests for those resisting national oppression, withholding consistent solidarity from the anti-imperialist forces until such time as all the right boxes have been ticked, are false friends of the anti-imperialist resistance and enemies of the proletarian revolution.
Having grasped these basics, however, it is well to remain alert to evidence that the politics of the resistance forces are themselves neither monolithic nor static and are undergoing development in the course of struggle.
A recent article in the New York Times makes some interesting observations about what is unfolding in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan adjoining the Afghan border: “Even as hundreds of thousands of people stream back to the Swat Valley after months of fighting, one important group is conspicuously absent: the wealthy landowners who fled the Taliban in fear and are the economic pillar of the rural society … About four dozen landlords were singled out over the past two years by the militants in a strategy intended to foment a class struggle. In some areas, the Taliban rewarded the landless peasants with profits of the crops of the landlords.” (‘Landowners still in exile from unstable Pakistan area’ by .Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, 27 July 2009)
This suggests that some elements of those whom the imperialist media refer to as ‘the Taliban’ are in fact conducting a struggle against the feudalism that is still so entrenched in Pakistan and is hindering its development.
The people of the Swat Valley have suffered intense and barbaric assault by both US and Pakistan army forces using ‘drone’ bombers. In their murderous efforts to terrorise the civilian population into denying any support to the Afghan resistance, it seems that they are achieving the exact opposite.