Neither Imperialism nor Islam –
following is an excerpted interview conducted in winter 2006 with
the General Secretary of the Communist Party (Maoist) of Afghanistan,
a participating party in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.
When the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan, the ruling parties
calling themselves “communist” imposed a reactionary oppressive
rule on the people. What challenges does this pose to genuine
Their pseudo-communist claims have created incorrect perceptions
about communism among the vast majority of the people. Right from
the beginning of the uprising against the Soviet social-imperialists
the subjective and objective conditions had a negative and destructive
impact on the left movement, which caused it to make deeper deviations.
These deviations of the left also contributed to the anti-communism
in society, by further attributing communism to the crimes of
as an international endeavour, tries its utmost to portray the
defeat of the social-imperialists in Afghanistan as the defeat
of communism. However, the Islamic anti-communism during the rule
of the Jihadis and the Taleban could not dress up anti-communism
any better than it was done by the social-imperialist puppets.
This weakened anti-communism to some degree. But the subjective
and objective factors, locally and internationally, are still
heightening anti-communism. Consequently, the challenges facing
the genuine communists are continually arising, which requires
them to patiently continue in principled struggle.
of the challenges is that, along with the social-imperialists’
defeat, the left in the war of resistance was also defeated. These
two realities help anti-communists deduce that communism has no
place in Afghanistan, and this weighs heavily in the minds of
sections of the people. The Islamic anti-communists specifically
conclude and promote that Afghanistan is an Islamic society, and
that communism, based on dialectical materialism against religion,
has no place in that country.
overcome this challenge a significant section of the left in Afghanistan
adapted the theory under the guise of Islam, and made that part
of their programme. Other sections, although they did not formally
adopt this theory, widely practiced the same thing.
present liquidationists conclude that Afghanistani society is
very backward, and that for as long as backwardness is not dealt
with, revolutionary communism has no chance.
challenge is the incorrect understanding of internationalism among
communists. Anti-communists propagate communism as “an imported
ideology”, so that people do not willingly accept it; the idea
that communism can only be imposed on the people of Afghanistan
by foreign powers still has shaky foundations in the society.
aspect of this challenge facing the genuine communists is the
lack of a foreign government to support them, and, therefore,
without such support, the difficulty of establishing themselves
another challenge is the accusation that communists are oppressive.
As we know, the rule of the social-imperialist occupiers and their
puppets was based on suppression of the masses. This oppression
in communist disguise ultimately impacts on genuine communists,
as the anti-communists try hard to generalise and attribute it
to the genuine communists as well.
due to the reactionary oppressive rule of the social-imperialists
and their puppets, the challenge facing the genuine communists
can be summarised as follows: communism has no room in Afghanistan,
unless it is imposed on the people by oppression and suppression
or invasion and occupation, and even then it will not last long.
As has been seen, this challenge is not absolutely specific to
the situation in Afghanistan; genuine communists in other countries
more or less face the same challenge internationally. As Afghanistan
took the brunt of the Soviet social-imperialists and their native
puppets, this challenge is more widespread and intense in Afghanistan
than in other countries.
only proper response to this challenge is to courageously take
the programme of the genuine communists, that is the programme
of the Communist Party (Maoist) of Afghanistan, among the masses
in a principled way, so that people can distinguish genuine communists
from social-imperialist puppets.
How can the masses comprehend the differences between the revisionist
social-imperialists’ programme and the programme presented by
the genuine communists?
There are three key issues and two grounds requiring struggle:
Differences between Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and revisionism; differences
between proletarian internationalism and social-imperialism.
Differences between new-democratic revolution and what the social-imperialists
and revisionists practiced in Afghanistan and other places; differences
between Maoist socialist revolution as well as the transition
from socialism to communism from the Maoist perspective versus
what the revisionists say and practice.
Differences between the Maoist people’s war strategy, which is
based on the mass line, versus revisionist parliamentary strategy,
which is based on coups supported by the social-imperialists.
need to differentiate ourselves from the revisionists, not only
on the theoretical front, but also we need to distinguish ourselves
from the revisionists in the implementation of our programme in
practice. In other words, we must understand the importance of
our struggle on both the theoretical and practical fronts. The
Maoist movement in Afghanistan, along with the new-democratic
movement, made a relatively clear demarcation between themselves
and the revisionist social-imperialists in the 1960s. Although
the movement could not mobilise the masses of peasants and that
is why it collapsed, as pointed out by martyred Comrade Yari,
it did establish bases among intellectuals, workers and the petite
bourgeoisie in the cities.
the resistance movement against the coup regime installed in April
1978, and in the war of resistance against the social-imperialist
invaders, Maoist Sholaites militantly participated in the resistance
and widely joined the masses. Unfortunately, overall, their participation
in the mass movement was not based on correct principles. Even
so, within the first few years of the war of resistance, people
could see the difference between the revisionists and the Maoists,
both in theory and practice, although not so clearly and decisively,
because of the mistakes that the Maoists made.
of the people still remember the struggle of the Maoists, and,
despite its limitations, this can be relied upon to begin our
initial activities among the masses; and the newly emerging communist
movement, during the last twenty years, has used this opportunity.
As a result of the Maoists’ struggle in the past, sections of
the masses distinguish the “Sholaites” from the “Khalqite-Parchamites”.
In other words, the challenges facing the genuine communists in
implementing their programme, although quite widespread, are not
absolute, there are relatively ready-made bases that can be relied
upon. Our Party is a witness to this fact.
addition, in the current situation, based on our Party activities
and under the leadership of the Party, democratic organisations
among the masses of people, among women, youth, trades unions,
labourers and other sections of society can be used to establish
wider links between the masses and the Party. By combining underground
activities with open and semi-open work among the masses, we can
take our programme among the masses to show them the differences
between our programme and those imposed on them by the revisionists.
To achieve this end, we need to find and utilise both illegal
and legal channels through working relatively openly among the
key issue is to remind ourselves that each and every activity
carried out in any situation must serve the goal of preparing
and initiating the peoples’ war of resistance, which is the concrete
form of people’s war in the present situation of Afghanistan.
After the Soviets the Taleban came to power… What is it that attracts
people to Islam? How can the communists draw the people from the
Islamists to their own side?
If we are to talk about the “Islamic mobilisation” that dates
back to the 1960s, it was during this period that various political
groups, with different ideological and political stances, relatively
widely emerged on the scene. The communist movement (Maoism) was
born then and the new-democratic movement stood tall; the revisionist
party (Peoples Democratic Party), from which two factions emerged,
“Khalq” and “Parcham”, both tied to the Soviet social-imperialists,
and other bourgeois-nationalist groups and political forces also
appeared. Against this backdrop, the reactionary religious feudal
forces reacted and organised a reactionary religious movement
under the auspices of the Afghanistani government that was supported
by the reactionary Arab regimes and regimes in the region that
were supported by Western imperialism.
prevalent feudal culture in society, the pseudo-communist pseudo-progressive
claims put forward by the Russian puppet regime, and the Islamic
regimes in the neighbouring countries of Iran and Pakistan, unconditionally
supported by Western imperialists and reactionary Arab states,
all and all, contributed to bringing the spontaneous war fronts
of resistance increasingly under the influence of reactionary
forces. The communist and revolutionary forces tailing the spontaneous
movement prepared the ground for the Islamic forces to further
influence the war of resistance against social-imperialism. That
is how the Islamic forces, by prevailing in the war of resistance
against social-imperialism, took over the government after the
collapse of Najib’s regime.
was not the only factor bringing the Islamists into power…. The
dramatic advances made by the Taleban, who evolved from a small
force into a major power claiming to govern the entire country,
was supported by three powerful imperialist/reactionary factors.
The US and British imperialists not only worked behind the scenes
to organise the “Islamic mobilisation”, but also directly and
indirectly supported them afterwards. So of the three major factors
propelling the Taleban into power, only one of them was Islam.
This factor, Islam, was mainly used by the Taleban against other
Islamists, not so much against communists, to combat the “corruption
and decadence” that was prevalent among other Islamists. This
was to justify and legitimise the “war among Muslims”.
the reactionary Islamic forces are consolidated in the “Islamic
Republic of Afghanistan” current and are supported by the US imperialists
and their allies as foreign supporters of the regime. Therefore,
what we see as the Taleban today cannot be taken as the main model
of Islamism in Afghanistan. By looking at the other Islamic countries
and around the world, one can see that anti-American pan-Islamism
(the Al Qaeda type) does not constitute the major portion of the
numerous crimes committed by the “Jihadi” and “Taleban” Islamists
during the “Islamic State” of “Jihadis” and the “Islamic Emirate”
of the Taleban have indeed faded the old glory of Islam in the
eyes of the masses. This situation alone provides a good opportunity
for the communists to draw people from the Islamists onto their
prevalent feudal culture, in the absence of a powerful non-religious
force, namely the communists, generates and regenerates masses
that would support various shades of Islamists in an endless circle,
or masses that would live a life indifferent to politics.
far as the Islamism packaged in the Constitution is concerned,
it is supported by the imperialist invaders, as well as by the
reactionary Arab regimes and Islamists in the region, who march
under the imperialists’ drum-beat. A large section of the feudal
and bourgeois comprador classes is the main supporter of Islamism.
Naturally, for as long as the dominance of semi-feudal, semi-colonial
power is not challenged by a national revolutionary war of resistance,
they will continue to retain their mass base.
far as Islamism in its specific Afghanistani form of the Taleban
and global Al Qaeda is concerned, it involves some other factors
as well. Suppressing this form of Islamism is an excuse for the
American imperialists’ campaign.
other words, the Taleban fights as part of an extensive international
force. Naturally, this is an important factor drawing the masses
onto the side of the Taleban. In fact, the lack of a strong revolutionary
communist or even anti-American nationalist movement, including
in Afghanistan, is the reason why the masses commit themselves
to crazy Islamism, creating an oppressive reactionary religious
movement that is used to justify the American imperialists exporting
“progress and democracy”. If a strong revolutionary alternative
existed in Afghanistan and in other Islamic countries, Islamism,
mainly serving the invaders and their lackeys, would not have
appeared in the form of the Taleban or Al Qaeda – and even if
it did, it would not have been this powerful. In order to draw
the masses away from them to their own side, the struggle of the
Afghanistani communists must take the form of an international
struggle. Such a struggle must be based on the context of resistance
against the imperialist occupying invaders and their puppets,
and it should be carried out at the global, regional and Afghanistani
national level. For as long as we are unable to play a powerful
role in the struggle against the invaders, the Taleban will always
be able to utilise the anti-American sentiments of the masses
to organise them for their own organisational interests.
Islamism has some serious problems. During their rule in the name
of the “Islamic Emirates” they severely oppressed non-Pashtun
people. That is why the Taleban’s Islamism is not supported by
people of other nationalities. This lack of support for the Taleban
among non-Pashtun people provides suitable conditions to organise
against the invaders and their lackeys. This does not mean we
have no opportunity for organising the masses of people among
the Pashtuns. Such an opportunity does exist, because the masses
of Pashtun people have had their “fair share” of the Taleban’s
in their struggle against Islamic theocracy can successfully utilise
opportunities when there is a broad secular movement. This requires
ideological struggle against idealism to propagate dialectical
materialism. On another level this struggle should be carried
out against Islamic politics and economics by propagating the
principles of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist politics and economics.
Without such a struggle the communist party cannot establish a
mass base for itself. Indeed, we should be mindful of the nature
of the struggle, which is protracted. But that does not mean we
should negate such a struggle…. Islam in Afghanistan and other
countries, such as Iran, is not a question of the religious belief
of the masses. We are facing Islamic rule and we are struggling
against an Islamic Republic. In our situation, Islamic politics
is armed with the sword of anti-communism. Communists cannot ignore
an all-around struggle against such an enemy that is armed with
The U.S. imperialists have raised the banner of “democracy” in
order to justify their aggression in Afghanistan and other places.
How do you respond?
Our response is that the banner of democracy is a smokescreen
to further their imperialist campaign. Our party has always insisted
that in a country occupied by imperialists, peoples’ sovereignty
is trampled on, people cannot exercise their democratic rights,
not even at the semi-colonial level of democracy. At the same
time, foreign imperialist invaders who deprive a country of its
sovereignty cannot bring democracy. The hodgepodge of democracy
that the American imperialists are offering the people of Afghanistan
is used only to create the myth that the people have a voice in
determining their future and their country’s future.
important issue is that the clique ruling the US is trampling
and violating the democratic civil rights of their own people,
rights that have been established and practiced for years and
years. They use terrorism as an excuse. Just as this excuse cannot
justify trampling the bourgeois-democratic rights of the people
in America, the invasion of a country by force is the cruellest
act against the people of a country.
from these general points, let’s look at the nature of what the
imperialists and their lackeys call democracy in Afghanistan.
In the Afghanistani government, as reflected in the constitution,
political parties, freedom of expression and freedom of the press,
in short all civil and individual rights are restricted by Islam
and Islamic Sharia [religious laws – AWTW], nothing is permitted
beyond that and everything is illegal. In this aspect, the main
difference between the current Islamic Republic regime and the
Islamic Emirates regime of the Taleban is that the current regime
is a multi-party Islamic regime, while the Taleban regime was
a single-party Islamic regime. In this “Republic”, freedom of
expression, freedom of the press, communist beliefs and others,
are not permitted. Some people like to call such a regime “Islamic
democracy”. But “Islamic democracy” is a misnomer, just like “Islamic
Republic”. Democracy makes sense only when there is a secular
regime. Some theoreticians of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
say that in Afghanistan democracy is applied as a method, it is
not an outlook. In other words, the outlook of Islamic Sharia
cannot be modified by those who implement it. As a method, democracy
is utilised to dress up the anti-democratic religious Islamic
nature of the regime as being modern.
is why our task is to widely expose the deceit of the occupying
invaders that disguise themselves with so-called democracy. It
is our task to expose the exported pseudo-democracy widely and
consistently. This must be done with the aim of preparing for
a national revolutionary war of resistance against the invaders
and their lackeys.
majority of the people are not fooled by the exported democracy
of the occupiers. As seen, the presidential election was a failure
in itself, the majority of the people did not participate in that
election. The failure of the provincial elections is even more
clearly known to people, so much so that the imperialists and
their lackeys even had to admit it.
need to present our model of democracy, new-democracy, to the
people and convince them that our democracy is superior to the
“democracy” of the invaders. We must vigorously bring the strength
of the earlier new-democratic regimes to the forefront, so that
the masses of people can see that democracy does make a difference
to their lives. We should show the masses that our democracy is
far beyond the bourgeois democracy practiced in capitalist countries,
let alone the pseudo-democracy of the semi-feudal, semi-colonial
regime of Afghanistan.
we cannot limit ourselves to propagating and agitating around
new-democracy. We must vigorously defend the achievements of previous
socialist revolutions, and that should be the focus of our propaganda
and agitation. In our struggle, we must show that by implementing
socialism, democracy can be far better in a socialist society
than democracy in a capitalist imperialist system; we must emphasise
the importance of the proletarian cultural revolution launched
Why has “frontism” – the tendency that communists bury their role
in united fronts – been so strong in your country? What lessons
can be learnt about the defeat of the communists in independently
raising their flags in the war of resistance against the Soviet
The Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO), the founding organisation
of the communist movement in Afghanistan, had an erroneous understanding
about underground work. The organisation, during its second meeting,
held in October 1965, decided to publish two newspapers, one democratic
and the other communist, to act as an unconditional organ for
revolution. The communist newspaper was never published. However,
the democratic newspaper, Sholeh Jawid, was applied for and was
authorised for publication by the government’s publishing office.
Sholeh Jawid was banned by the government after publishing 11
issues. In publishing the newspaper, the organisation collaborated
with two other leftist groups outside the organisation. But the
organisation kept its programme secret from the groups, pretending
that the Yari group and Mahmoudi group were both operating independently
from each other. While the new-democratic movement grew exponentially,
expanding throughout the country, the PYO continued to limit recruitment
of its members from among supporters on an individual basis. The
problem was not limited to the organisation keeping its programme
secret; an even more serious problem was the outlook that existed,
that a party and organised leadership was not necessary, that
the mass movement sufficed. The PYO never discussed struggling
for the formation of a communist party.
were trained with this mentality, of not paying attention to organised
work under the leadership of a centralised organisation; this
outlook at different times and at different levels later on bequeathed
the legacy of disorganisation and frontism in the movement after
the April 1978 coup, and during the war against the Soviet social-imperialist
invasion of Afghanistan.
was the first left organisation that proposed frontism in the
left movement. “Sorkha” proposed that there are too many differences
in the movement to form the communist party, however, fighting
against the coup regime was a common ground among the left; the
left can be united in fighting the regime. In fact, this proposal
was to avoid the ideological and political struggle for establishing
the communist party as the immediate task of the movement, procrastinating
it to an unknown time. The proposal never got off the ground.
The proposal was never implemented and no united front was formed
among the left.
on frontism was officially and unofficially expanding in the movement.
National Liberation Front of Sama and the Mujahedin Warriors Front
of Rehayee were organised – both with an Islamic Republic as their
perspective. This outlook not only tailed the spontaneous movement
of the people against the coup regime, mainly with a religious
tone, but also reflected the capitulationist line of the Islamic
parties as well.
as an organisation officially never claimed to be communist, and
its internal programme was democratic. However, it openly… demanded
an Islamic Republic.
Revolutionary Group of the People of Afghanistan (later named
Rehayee after its newspaper, in the Autumn of 1978) linked itself
with the Chinese revisionist rulers, and negatively developed
its economist line to revisionism. The Revolutionary Group of
Afghanistan and Rehayee not only demanded an Islamic Republic
but also proposed an Islamic revolution. Sama fought independently
during the war of resistance against the social-imperialists in
several regions for several years, but this was done under the
disguise of an Islamic republic (a programme openly presented
to the public). In some areas it sneaked in under the direct banner
of the Islamic forces. Rehayee during the war of resistance, except
in the coup, staged in Balahisar under the name of Mujahedin Warriors
Front, fought throughout the country under the banner of an Islamic
two organisations, which deemed participation in the war of resistance
an absolute necessity, not only liquidated democratic struggle,
but also, at the same time, by fighting under the banner of Islamism,
gave up fighting for nationalism and secularism.
of the left organisations, despite the fact that they did not
adopt a call for an Islamic republic in their programmes (some
even pretending to work seriously for the formation of the Communist
Party in Afghanistan), in practice disguised themselves as Islamic
parties, never having the will or the power to fight independently.
is how the left organisations as a whole not only gave up struggling
independently during the war of resistance, but also gave up fighting
for nationalist democracy and secularism as well.
must play a leading role in the united front. Naturally, first
and foremost that requires their independence within the united
front. Without independence in the united front there can be no
talks about the leadership of communists in a united front; with
the acknowledgment that independence in the united front is not
sufficient for leadership of the united front. When communists
not only buried their role of leadership in the war fronts of
resistance, but also buried their independence in the democratic
and national struggle, obviously, as Comrade Avakian said, these
communists are not communists and they cannot be considered democrats
communists that were not communist and could not raise the independent
banner of communism in the war of resistance against social-imperialism
were defeated. They did not have the line to raise the banner
of communism in the war; if some did that, it was only in words,
they did not insist on it in their deeds. After the defeat, when
the new communist movement reorganised into small groups, they
were caught up in the ideological and political work to drive
out confusion; they did not have the time and strength to participate
in the war of resistance in order to raise the banner of communism
independently in practice.
again we are facing the challenge of fighting independently against
the occupying US imperialist invaders, their allies, and their
puppet regime; we need to respond to this challenge as soon as
possible. To embrace this challenge we have the following to rely
The experience of the war against social-imperialism.
A Party that we did not have during the war against social-imperialism.
A militant Revolutionary Communist Party in the belly of the occupying
beast, a great opportunity for Afghanistani Maoists to independently
lead the masses of people. This opportunity did not exist during
the war of resistance against social-imperialism.
The Taleban Islamists, who are fighting against the Americans
and the Karzai regime, are yesterday’s US men. Furthermore, during
their reign they committed countless crimes against the people.
is in this context that our Party raises the banner of the revolutionary
war of resistance against the imperialist occupiers and their
hand-picked regime. This is the war that the Maoists and the masses
under their leadership should initiate and carry out. This is
the war of resistance, that is, resistance against the aggressor
and imperialist occupiers, as well as against their lackeys, in
order to gain the independence of the country; it is not an Islamic
Jihad. This war is a national war; it is not a religious war,
specifically it is not an Islamic war against Christians. This
is a peoples’ war, that is, a war based on the popular classes,
not on the feudal and bourgeois comprador exploiting and oppressing
classes. In other words, this war is a war aimed at new-democratic
revolution and socialist revolution.
the present time we are preparing for such a war. Our hope is
to complete the preparation stage successfully and as quickly
as possible. With the support of the international communist movement,
specifically with the support of the Revolutionary Internationalist
Movement, Afghanistan Maoists will step forward with their independent