First Published: September 1982.
Source: Published by the Workers Socialist League.
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1. The Falkland Islands are a relic of British imperialism to the sovereignty of which the British ruling class has no legitimate claim, and which in the recent past it has even tried to relinquish to Argentina. Since that point it has become clear that the islands themselves and the adjacent area of Antarctica seem certain to be rich in oil and minerals, offering a substantial material incentive for British imperialist to maintain their territorial claims – or at least to exchange them only for a guaranteed share of the possible mineral pickings.
2. We repudiate any legitimacy of British territorial claims in the Falklands or any legitimacy in related British claims to resources in Antarctica.
3. We call for the immediate recall of the British battle fleet, and campaign against any military action or war over the Falklands, which can only be designed to preserve a relic of empire and shore up the prestige of British imperialism. Any such war could only have reactionary consequences in the form of loss of life and a chauvinistic fervour in both the Argentineans and British working classes.
4. But the pretext on which the Argentine junta has embarked on the war is equally contrived. In taking its action the junta has acted not against imperialism, but in a populist ploy designed to divert and unite the Argentine masses behind the Generals’ own repressive rule.
5. In doing so the Argentine dictators have trampled upon the rights of the Falkland inhabitants, who in themselves oppress and threaten no one and should have the right to decide their own future. Such action does nothing to build anti-imperialist consciousness in the Argentine working class, but rather seeks to generate chauvinism and ‘national unity’. We do not support this action and call for the withdrawal of Argentine troops.
6. We condemn the jingoism of most British Labour leaders, and call for labour movement action against the war through public agitation and through blacking military supplies.
7. While recognising that the present conflict is restricted to the Falklands issue, in the event of a full-scale war between Britain and Argentina we would be unequivocally for the defence of Argentina. Despite the leftist rhetoric of the labour leaders about the ‘fascist’ nature of the junta – with whom they traded happily while in government – such a war would not be a war for democracy but a war for imperialist authority.
8. In any event we call on the British and international working class to render all possible assistance to the Argentine workers in their struggle against the Galtieri dictatorship, for the establishment of a genuine anti-imperialist workers’ government in Argentina. Instead of assisting the Tories in their crisis by ‘patriotic’ support for the government, the British labour movement should be using the crisis to hasten Thatcher’s overthrow in the interests of the working class, and giving all material and political support to the Argentine workers in the fight for democratic and trade union rights.April 12, 1982.
1. In the Malvinas war, it was the duty of revolutionaries to call for the unconditional military defence and victory of Argentina, an oppressed nation, against Britain, an imperialist power.
2. This position of revolutionary defencism on the side of Argentina and revolutionary defeatism on the side of Britain could in no way relieve Trotskyists of the obligation to expose the motive of the Galtieri invasion of the Malvinas as an attempt at diverting the rising mass struggle against the brutal regime into support for the regime’s seizure of the Malvinas. Such a position of defencism implies no confidence in the Galtieri regime’s ability to wage a genuine anti-imperialist war effectively.
3. Trotskyists in Argentina should have intervened in the mass mobilisation Galtieri could not avoid by pointing out that the anti-imperialist masses could not rely on the Galtieri junta, hatchet men of imperialism, to defend Argentina and wage a consistent fight against British imperialism. Rather, the masses must look to the leadership of the mighty Argentine workers’ movement, organised in detachments to drive off the imperialist aggressors and to seize the real bulwarks of imperialism in Argentina – the imperialist-owned factories, banks and land.
4. In the struggle to turn the war over the Malvinas into an enlarged and thoroughgoing struggle against imperialism and the reactionary junta, Trotskyist militants should have attempted to support and provide consistent leadership to the whole range of tactics needed to advance this struggle, especially the occupation of factories and other facilities directly controlled by the imperialists. Such occupations should be linked with the struggle to split the army by reaching soldiers drawn from the working class around issues arising from the junta’s attempts to suppress such militant actions by the anti-imperialist workers. With the mass of Argentine workers already conscripted, Trotskyists should have called for the unions to arm and train their members in independent workers’ detachments; and for rank and file soldiers to organise their own committees and to elect their own officers. Through the course of the military mobilisation, Trotskyists should have raised the slogans, ‘Down with the officer elite’, ‘Down with the Galtieri junta’.
5. Argentine workers have no interest in the oppression or abuse of the Falkland Islanders. But concern for the fate of the Falkland Islanders must not divert attention from the serious harm done to the struggles of the Latin American masses as a whole by the victory of Britain’s armed imperialist aggression in this war.
6. Throughout the Malvinas war, Trotskyists should have struggled for the international working class and for the British working class in particular to render all possible assistance to the Argentine workers both in their struggle against British imperialism and in their struggle against the Galtieri dictatorship.AUGUST 2, 1982.
It was wrong for the April 1982 resolution to state that “any such war could have only reactionary consequences in the form of loss of life and a chauvinistic fervour in both the Argentine and British working classes”. Nationalism and nationalism are two things, and the nationalism of the Argentine workers is not reactionary, but a progressive and legitimate anti-imperialist current.
Furthermore, the resolution says of the Argentine troops on the Malvinas that “In taking its action, the junta has acted not against imperialism, but in a populist ploy . . . ” Yet the junta has, in fact, under the pressure of the masses – but via a populist manoeuvre – challenged imperialism. And, as the bonapartist dictatorship it is, naturally it did not mobilise the masses for a genuine anti-imperialist struggle. Nevertheless we regard the junta’s step as objectively anti-imperialist and historically progressive.
The self-determination line on the islanders was also wrong. It implied that the real problem with the imperialist war was that it did not benefit the islanders (and cost human life). Therefore a class struggle against the war must be waged in Britain and Argentina.
But it is a question of settlers on the Malvinas. Since when has it been Trotskyist policy to support imperialism’s settlers?AUGUST 2, 1982.