”Spartacist” is the publication of the so-called International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), a network of small revolutionary groups centered on the U.S. Spartacist League (SL). The Spartacists are notorious on the far left for their pro-Stalinism (despite being Trotskyists), sectarianism, and general kookery. They have also been frequently accused of First World chauvinism, anti-immigration racism and pro-imperialism. In issue no 65 of ”Spartacist”, dated Summer 2017, the group reprints a conference resolution titled ”The Struggle Against the Chauvinist Hydra”. The issue itself has the title ”The Fight for Leninism on the National Question”. The resolution supposedly reverses the erstwhile chauvinist course of the organization.
Or does it *really*? The traditional Spartacist position on the national question is that ”interpenetrated peoples” can´t demand self-determination under capitalism. The examples usually given were Israel-Palestine and Northern Ireland. In practice, the Spartacists defended the national rights of the Jews in Palestine and the Protestants in Ireland beneath a cover of ra-ra-revolutionary verbiage. It´s *not* clear from ”Spartacist no 65” whether they have revised their understanding of these conflicts. Nor is it clear whether the SL has repudiated its opposition to open borders or it´s de facto pro-British stance during the Falkland-Malvinas War.
What is clear is that the SL has changed its understanding of many other national conflicts, but these don´t involve ”interpenetrated peoples” as usually defined. Still, it does represent a break with the traditional line of this particular tendency. Thus, the SL now supports independence for Quebec and a privileged position for the French language in that province. Their previous position is condemned as Anglo-chauvinist. (Strictly speaking, the Spartacists began calling for Quebecois independence already in 1995, but mostly to get rid of the national question from the Canadian agenda altogether, in effect a position of kicking Quebec out so Anglo workers could go on with more important ”class struggle” issues.) The Spartacist League now also calls for the independence of Catalonia, the Basque countries and Corsica. Further, they propose the partition of Belgium into three or four new republics.
Only a few Third World issues are commented upon. Apparently, the Spartacist tendency used to oppose the independence of Guadaloupe, a French colony in the Caribbean with nominal status as a French departement. This position was reversed by the conference. Curiously, the Spartacist take on Puerto Rico used to be the exact opposite: this U.S. dependency should be *forced* to become independent regard less of whether the inhabitants like it or not! Here, the international conference took the eminently sensible position that the Puerto Ricans themselves should decide on their exact relation to the United States – many Puerto Ricans, in fact, demand statehood (i.e. they want the island to become the 51st U.S. state).As for Syria, the SL upholds the (bizarre) position of military support to the Islamic State terrorists against the Kurds – the Kurds, it seems, are still Turds. If the Albanians are still goat-fuckers is, alas, never explained…
Why did the ”International Communist League” suddenly change some of its long-standing positions in this manner? I suspect the reason is a power struggle within the tendency between a certain Comrade Coelho and an old guard of entrenched petty apparatchiks at the Spartacist HQ in New York City. Spartacist founder-leader James Robertson has apparently left his semi-retirement and joined forces with Coelho, who thus carried the day. The new ICL executive committee is said to be 70% non-American and the goal is to make the entire organization 70% ethnic minority. In their fight against the old-timers, Jim & Coelho had the support of non-Anglophone sections in Quebec, Greece, Mexico and elsewhere. Since the Spartacist League and their co-thinkers don´t really *do* much, I strongly suspect that the entire change of line is really the reflection of a change of guard within an increasingly irrelevant sect. Those who liked the old line better can join two old splits from the SL, the Bolshevik Tendency and the Internationalist Group, which both uphold the right of English-speakers to carry out their business in Anglais even in Montreal, Acadia and (perhaps) Paris.