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Review. Youssef Girard. Tan Malaka: nationalism, Marxism and Islam by Alexander Gachikus

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Review. Youssef Girard. Tan Malaka: nationalism, Marxism and Islam by
Article Posted: 08/09/2012
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Review. Youssef Girard. Tan Malaka: nationalism, Marxism and Islam

Islam,Party Ideas

Youssef Girard Tan Malakka : nationalisme, marxisme et Islam (1/2)

Tan Malakka : nationalisme, marxisme et Islam (2/2)

The site which has published 2 parts of this article at 15th and 24th of April 2008 is one of few French Muslim sites which supported the revolt of proletarian youth from suburbs in 2005.

Soviet-Russian opportunism kept silence about Tan Malakka who was the founder and the first chairman of Indonesian Communist Party and who was executed by Sukarno regime; today Russian opportunism continues to keep silence about him. There are no mentions about him in the Big Soviet Encyclopedia. There are almost no articles about him in Russian-language Internet. He is mentioned briefly in the Russian translation of the book of Arrigo Chervetto “Unitary Imperialism” (volume II), but it is written in biographical supplement as if he was “the veteran of “Sarekat Islam” party” (it is evident from Malakka’s speech at 4th Congress of Comintern, that it is outrageous distortion of the truth).

Why do opportunists dislike Tan Malakka? It is caused by Malakka’s speech at 4th Congress of Communist International in 1922 (see Tan Malaka. Communism and Pan-Islamism), in which he argued that alliance with Pan-Islamism is necessary.

Opportunists from Stalin to present-day ones catch at Lenin’s rough drafts of theses to 2nd Congress of Communist International (as drowning man catch at a straw) when the matter concerns the support of national-liberation struggle of Muslim peoples of the “3rd World”, especially against Russian imperialism. In that theses Lenin said about “the necessity of the struggle against Pan-Islamism” (see Lenin, Complete works (Russian-language edition), 5th edition, 41st volume, p. 166). For some reason “communists” don’t remember Lenin’s words about “democratic movement of the people masses in Java under the banner of Islam”, that “proletariat of European countries and young democracy of Asian countries which full of belief in its own power and full of confidence in masses come to take place of decaying European bourgeoisie” (see Lenin, Complete works (Russian-language edition), 5th edition, 23rd volume, p. 145-146)!

Chervetto in his criticism of Tan Malakka and alliance with Pan-Islamism interpreted these Lenin’s rough drafts of theses too loosely (see Arrigo Chervetto, “Unitary Imperialism” (Russian-language edition), volume II, p. 118-121 and further). Chervetto ascribed to Lenin his own semi-kautskian thoughts without adducing any proof (it is comically: Chervetto “explained” the meaning of these short rough drafts on the several pages, though there is no that meaning in these drafts). I already criticized this place from Chervetto’s work in my work “About the state” (2006) and shall not return to it here.

What Lenin meant when he said about the necessity of the struggle against Pan-Islamism? Lenin, who had the experience of the struggle against culture-national autonomy of the Bund, evidently feared that communists in their support of national-liberation movements can be carried away to such an extent that they will begin to support the reactionary element of poor nations. But Stalin’s opportunism (and the whole opportunism up to present time, which is infected with the spirit of Stalinism up to now, although it often repudiates Stalin) has used these Lenin’s words as excuse for rejection a support of national-liberation movements.

From the speech of Tan Malakka “Communism and Pan-Islamism” it is evident that Pan-Islamism in the countries of “the 3rd world” (like Indonesia) is ideology of the poorest peasantry, not of “khans, landowners and mullahs”. Here the next 4th and 5th subparagraphs of 11th paragraph of above-mentioned Lenin’s rough drafts of theses are applicable, which mean, if apply them to Muslim countries of “the 3rd world”: “to go in temporary alliance with Islamists, but don’t to amalgamate with them”.

But opportunists catch at the letter of Lenin’s doctrine in order to obscuring its spirit.

Unfortunately, the author of this article about Tan Malakka repeated the mistake of chauvinists under the mask of communists, but inside out: he blamed Lenin for Great Russian chauvinism. It is wrong.

Firstly, “westerner (occidentalist) concepts” of Lenin were always the struggle against oriental (eastern) despotism, against barbarism, not justification of colonial oppression from the side of advanced nations – oppression which is supported just by this despotism, which preserve barbarism in colonies for the sake of gaining maximum profits. On the other hand, as it was justly noticed by many analysts, Islamism, despite its religious phrases, its quotations of Quran, is essentially quite modern, Europeanized, occidentalist ideology, which struggles against both newest capitalist imperialism of rich nations and traditional semi-feudal Islam, which is knitted with this newest capitalist imperialism.

But the author of this article, which claimed, that Lenin “was unable to comprehend this”, simply ignored what Lenin wrote about populism (“narodnichestvo”), Asian democracy, about Kuomintang (see my article “How they begin to sing!” (2007), also see Lenin, Complete works (Russian-language edition), 5th edition, 21st volume, p. 404-405). The term “occidental” (“westerner”), which meant “bearing progress, civilization” for Lenin, means “pro-western” for Girard. In this, the latter sense Lenin, certainly, never was the “westerner”, and to claim the opposite means simply to ignore the essence of his doctrine – the theory of imperialism.

Secondly, to claim that Lenin disputed against Pan-Islamism in the interest of Soviet (= renewed Russian) imperialism is wrong too. It means to ignore his last dying works (see his work “On the issue of autonomization” ("K voprosu ob avtonomizatsii", Lenin, Complete works (Russian edition), 5th edition, 45st volume), for instance); it means to lump (to confuse) Leninism with Stalinism. Snorting at Lenin is the weak point of that article. Here nationalism of Girard and his disbelief in revolutionary proletariat of the rich nations are shown up.

In addition to the consideration of the issue of Pan-Islamism Girard considered in this article the issue, about which Lenin wrote at 6th subparagraph of 11th paragraph of above-mentioned Lenin’s rough drafts of theses, namely:

“The necessity of the steady explanation and the exposure to the broad masses of all, especially backward countries, the deception which imperialist powers pursue systematically – the formation of states quite dependent on them in economic, financial, military respects under the guise of the formation of politically independent states…”

The emphasis of the fact that formal political independence doesn’t mean real independence yet (not only of Indonesia under Sukarno, but in general) is the merit of the article. Today, when “our” “communists” consider that the distress of the peoples of the former republics of the Soviet Union is caused by their separation from Russia, by their getting out of USSR and isn’t caused by the lack of the real independence from Russia, these words of Girard are topical, are of vital importance.

In this article Tatar Marxist Sultan-Galiev, who also advocated the alliance with Islamism is mentioned too. Sultan-Galiev was slandered by Stalin and was repressed with the connivance (if not to say with complicity) of Trotsky (see interesting article about Sultan-Galiev A. V. Sagadeyev. Mirsait Sultan-Galiyev - Revolutsioner i myslitel. Rossiya i sovremenny mir. 3(20), 1998). For the avoidance of misunderstanding I emphasize once again that conclusions which have drawn from poor nations certainly inapplicable to Tatarstan and Bashkortostan (republics in central-east part of the European part of Russia); I also emphasize that there are various wings in Islamism, from proletarian to bourgeois.

Take into account that the word (the adjective) “nationalist” in Girard’s article means rather “national liberation” than “nationalist” properly (appositely, above-mentioned Sagadeev who referred to Anouar Abdel Malek (Girard also referred to him) also wrote that it is rather correct to use the term “nationalitary” than “nationalist” with respect to national liberation movements).

April 13th 2009

A. G.

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