03/01/2016 by socialistfight
Review by Gerry Downing
The central piece of this publication, Political Zionism: The Hegemonic Racism of the early 21st Century, by Ian Donovan tackles in cogently argued detail the position Zionism plays in modern capitalism. The basis claim that Ian puts forward was contained in the original work, also in IDOT 17, his Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism on 6-9-2014.
The comrade was accused of being an anti-semite by the CPGB/Weekly Worker but exonerated by a Left Unity inquiry. Nevertheless such mud tends to stick unless it is comprehensively rebutted and the whole basis of the amazing political authority of Zionism globally is theoretically and politically exposed. This authority will persist even on the left despite its regular ‘lawn mowing’ genocidal mass murder of mainly defenceless Palestinians unless we do so. “Pro-Israel ideology has a similar level of hegemony to Cold War anti-communism among the ruling class” he observes and “Jewish organisations (outside Israel) support Israel with the same loyalty which communist parties accorded to the USSR for so long”. And he sets out the material basis for the power of the Israel lobby in the USA (and elsewhere),
“for the United States, which is the most powerful state in human history, you can easily find informed Jewish sources that place the representation of Jews among billionaires, the most powerful elements of the capitalist elite, at between 40 and 48% – nearly half (for example see http://www.jewishworldreview. com/joe/aaron101007.php3). This is the only logically coherent explanation for the power of the so-called lobby.”
This was the claim that set the ball rolling of charges of anti-semitism. But Ian refers to the book by the young Jewish Marxist Abram Leon (who died in Austerlitz in 1942), The Jewish Question and his materialist theory of the origins of anti-semitism in the ‘people-class’:
“We must not start with religion in order to explain Jewish history; on the contrary; the preservation of the Jewish religion or nationality can be explained only by the “real Jew,” that is to say, by the Jew in his economic and social role. The preservation of the Jews contains nothing of the miraculous.” and quoting Marx, “Judaism has survived not in spite of history, but by virtue of history.” (https://www.marxists.org/subject/jewish/leon/ch1.htm)
This is the standpoint that Ian adopts and elaborates so well. In the course of Political Zionism. He points to the genocide in the Congo by King Leopold (which cost between 10 and 30 million lives between 1885 and 1908 (see The imperialist rape of the Congo, p.26). These lives and those of the 10 million lost in the ongoing war in that unfortunate land do not merit the name Holocaust. Black Though , in the last essay in IDOT 17, expresses the outrage of the world’s indigenous peoples:
“One may often wonder why the plight of the Jewish people has become so well known, so mourned over, and so thoroughly impressed into the global collective consciousness… And why is it that the innumerable casualties of Africans, Native Americans, Asians, and virtually all non-white ethnic groups of the world are deemed unworthy of tears, mourning, and remembrance. For them, a mere “sorry” must suffice for the tens of millions they lost, and the plight and suffering of their ancestors is merely swept under the rug, cast into oblivion—forgotten. While our school textbooks devote entire chapters to the subject of Jewish suffering, especially the Holocaust, other genocides, such as that of the Congolese, have not merited even paragraphs.”
I witnessed the advance of right-wing, British chauvinist ideology when I was studying for my Open University Honours History degree. OU Professor Arthur Marwick was clearly a man of the right and this emerged clearly in the course on the English Civil war. Christopher Hill was marginalised and a tutor put a red mark through a quote I used from him writing , “I don’t agree with your source” across it. The world expert on 17th century England was dismissed as a discredited leftist.
But it was the 20th century that was the worst. Germany was to blame for WWI, we were supposed to believe and explanations about equal culpability among competing empires we poo-hooed. Our tutor, John, who had been in The Militant, warned us not to do the question on the Holocaust if it came up. I got an inkling of why he was warning us when Ian Kershaw, professor at the University of Sheffield and author of volumes on the life of Hitler, appeared at a Channel 4 programme where I was in the audience.
I noted he had not mentioned the German Labour movement at all and focussed his speech on Hitler’s hatred of the Jews as the explanation of how he came to power. I questioned this, were not the first victims the trade union leaders and the working class parties? Surely it was smashing the organised working class that prepared the Holocaust? Indeed no, the Zionist minder by his side assured the audience. The Jews were the target all along, it had nothing to do with the working class, these leaders were only sent to concentration camps, the Jews were sent to death camps.
I could not resist the Holocaust question in the exam and I failed that very badly. Basically you were meant to balance your answer between the proposition that all Germans were aware of and approved of the Holocaust and the idea that it was the responsibility of the Nazi state. This was posed by reliance on Daniel Goldhagen theses in Hitler’s Willing Executioners that a particular death squad, Reserve Police Battalion 101, who exterminated Jews, did it eagerly and willingly and had no need of encouragement from Hitler. They were just evil bastards and that was that.
I quoted from Norman Finkelstein’s A Nation on Trial and followed his lines of argument, which I had studied in detail, in systematically destroying Goldhagen’s outlandish reactionary arguments. You were supposed to give due weight to racism and not attempt to destroy their arguments. Those who praise the scholarship of Finkelstein’s work, and that of his co-author Ruth Bettina Birn, include Eric Hobsbawm, Arno Mayer and Ian Kershaw.
The marking regime, which tutor John was aware of and so warned against, was surely guided by that Zionist minder who stood beside Kershaw during the Channel 4 lecture.
Finkelstein expressed amazement to me that Kershaw had allowed himself to be politically dominated by the reactionary Zionist man but I think that the essence of Ian Donovan’s thesis on Zionism was there on display, not just Zionist money but the guilt tripping over the Holocaust that gives Zionism the narrative that fitted the rightist agenda of the late Professor Arthur Marwick of the Open University and western bourgeois society in general. ▲