Fight the witchhunts against International Revolutionary Socialists

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02/04/2016 by socialistfight

As the Daily Mirror Reported: Labour expels hard-left Gerry Downing after he is condemned by David Cameron at PMQs. Full-throated: David Cameron attacked the activist in the Commons, × 409Search by image

Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International on the Expulsion of Comrade Gerry Downing from the British Labour party. 22-3-2016

The naming of Gerry Downing in the House of Commons by David Cameron on 9 March was followed a few hours later by a panic response of expulsion without hearing or right of appeal. The Blairites, other right wingers in Labour and the Zionist establishment took their cue from right-wing Tory blogger Guido Fawkes and Cameron and launched their attacks immediately.  Leading Zionist journalists, Hugo Rifkind (son of former Tory cabinet minister Malcolm, The Times), Jonathan Freedland (The Guardian) and Nick Cohen (The Observer) were amongst the foremost witch hunters.

Tony Greenstein partially defended Downing, on narrowly democratic grounds, while solidarising with the witch-hunters on the substantial allegation of ‘anti-semitism’ despite testifying that our comrades are not ‘personally’ racist. This inherently contradictory stance, which coincides with the capitulatory politics of the CPGB whose sympathiser he is, nevertheless did not save him from being witchhunted himself. We welcome his support as far as it goes but continue to demand a proper united front campaign with full freedom of propaganda for the left tendencies to argue their views.

We reject all restrictions by self-appointed ideological censors on the freedom of Marxists to analyse ruling class politics, including those of the parts of the ruling class that is of Jewish origin. Anyone seeking to restrict freedom of historical materialist analysis in this way is crossing class lines, and siding with bourgeois politics against Marxism. We defend Tony Greenstein despite these important political differences.

He is the latest victim of the renewed onslaught by the supporters of Tony Blair in the Parliamentary party and in the bureaucracy of the Labour party. Whatever our political differences with him for over thirty years he has been the foremost advocate and fighter for the cause of the oppressed Palestinians against their Zionist oppressors in the British labour movement. That they are emboldened to move now against so iconic a leftist character indicates the enormous pressure the Corbyn leadership is coming under from the ruling class to provide a fall-back, second line of defence for British capitalism as the Tory party descend into chaos over the resignation of Works and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith and bitter divisions open up over the EU referendum in June.

As he observed himself:

“It’s probably because I am a Jewish anti-Zionist and the Zionist lobby has complained. But who knows when like Alice in Wonderland, first comes the sentence, then the verdict and then possibly the trial.”

All this has had the intended direct effect on the Labour leadership. The first, and hastily withdrawn, McDonnell promise of balancing the books in the event of a Labour Government back in February is now reiterated. And the Greek Tsipras fiasco looms; a British version of the third bailout package on 12 July 2014 where they totally surrendered to the Troika of the IMF, the European Bank and the European Union, essentially to German and US banks.

All this will come to Britain unless the mass movement that elected Corbyn is mobilised against it and capitalism itself. As the political and economic crises deepens all mobilisations in favour of McDonnell’s ‘balance the books’ agenda risk being reduced to a stage army whilst the real business is done in secrete negotiation behind the backs of the working class. This is directly contrary to the socialist agenda that depends on mobilising the power the working class independently of the ‘Westminster Bubble’ for socialism and production for need and not for capitalist private profits. ‘Balance the books’ is a pledge to everlasting austerity, with a ‘human face’ though.

Yanis Varoufakis at Downing Street

The Greek Tragedy to be repeated?

McDonnell has hired Yanis Varoufakis as one of his economic advisors. He is the Greek Finance Minister who resigned a week before the third bailout package was agreed and proposed that there was an alternative to this total collapse.  The preface to an article by him in The Guardian on 18 February 2015 says:

“Before he entered politics, Yanis Varoufakis, the iconoclastic Greek finance minister at the centre of the latest Eurozone standoff, wrote this searing account of European capitalism and how the left can learn from Marx’s mistakes”. [1]

And what do we have to learn from Marx’s “mistakes”?

“Europe’s crisis is far less likely to give birth to a better alternative to capitalism than it is to unleash dangerously regressive forces that have the capacity to cause a humanitarian bloodbath, while extinguishing the hope for any progressive moves for generations to come. For this view I have been accused, by well-meaning radical voices, of being “defeatist” and of trying to save an indefensible European socioeconomic system. This criticism, I confess, hurts. And it hurts because it contains more than a kernel of truth.” [2]

Could not be clearer. And he goes on to reassure the capitalist classes of Europe and the world, from Wall Street to the City of London to the Paris Bourse and Frankfurt:

“I confess I would much rather be promoting a radical agenda, the raison d’être of which is to replace European capitalism with a different system. Yet my aim here is to offer a window into my view of a repugnant European capitalism whose implosion, despite its many ills, should be avoided at all costs. It is a confession intended to convince radicals that we have a contradictory mission: to arrest the freefall of European capitalism in order to buy the time we need to formulate its alternative.” [3]

He then goes on to reproduce the classic reformist gutting of Marx and Marxism of its revolutionary content so that it is simply a bit of advice to ‘progressive’ liberal capitalists on how to manage their affairs better and finishes with this pathetic grovel:

 “Forging alliances with reactionary forces, as I think we should do to stabilise Europe today, brings us up against the risk of becoming co-opted, of shedding our radicalism through the warm glow of having “arrived” in the corridors of power. Radical confessions, like the one I have attempted here, are perhaps the only programmatic antidote to ideological slippage that threatens to turn us into cogs of the machine. If we are to forge alliances with our political adversaries we must avoid becoming like the socialists who failed to change the world but succeeded in improving their private circumstances. The trick is to avoid the revolutionary maximalism that, in the end, helps the neoliberals bypass all opposition to their self-defeating policies and to retain in our sights capitalism’s inherent failures while trying to save it, for strategic purposes, from itself.” [4]

Marxist will have no difficulty in identifying the classic two stage theory of revolution and socialism in a single country of Stalinism there. And what alternative is Varoufakis and McDonnell offering? That even though you are following a strict austerity programme you do not politically collapse before the capitalist system itself if you campaign vigorously against what you are doing. That is the advice given to all Labour controlled Councils – make a ‘legal budget’ but campaign enthusiastically against what you are doing and so place the blame on the Tories. And they are trying to tar the Scottish Nationalist Party with the brush of being ‘enthusiastic’ austerity mongers in Scotland whilst no Labour council in England and Wales can muster the hypocrisy to campaign against their own actions! And what will they be left with if Labour comes to power in 2020? Weekly Worker quotes right wing Blairite Labour commentator John Rentoul as saying that McDonnell, “has copied the rules laid out by his predecessor, Ed Balls. Except that he made them slightly stricter – more ‘austere’ if that is the language you prefer”

The Trotsky Programme and anti-Imperialism

The advanced vanguard of the masses must accept the possibility to make revolution wherever revolutionary situations present the possibility. Such was the dialectic of the April Theses of Lenin with which he assailed a sceptical Central Committee of the Bolshevik party when he arrived in the Finland Railway station in 1917. This is the basis of Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution, the April Theses for all lands today; the working class is the only progressive and potentially revolutionary class in society, and it cannot achieve socialism in a single country without the perspective and actual achievement of spreading that revolution Europe-wide and globally. That is the perspective that is desperately needed now.

No human being in the planet needs to die from starvation, dirty water, lack of health care or lack proper education to develop their potential to the full. All the technology and all the means to deliver it to everybody on the planet exist right now. But it cannot happen because global imperialism centrally located in Wall Street and its European and Japanese allies must have its profits and so this cannot be organised and planned. That’s why it’s not the third world “terrorist” that cause the central problem for humanity but US world imperialism. So I will not lie and make the small terrorist the central enemy when it is the great USA terrorist and its global allies who are that problem.

It is futile to give us the long lists of how reactionary are those that imperialism now want to bomb and defeat are. History is full of these ‘Frankenstein monsters’ that imperialism sponsored at one point only later to turn against; Haile Selassie, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and al Assad to mention just a few. We did know all about the CIA and the Saudis sponsoring Al Qaeda, and ISIS etc. All bourgeois nationalists and all past and present Stalinists are reactionary forces who only fight imperialism when they absolutely have to in order to stay in power or alive. The goal of their struggle is to forge a better deal with imperialism. Putin is doing that right now over Syria and he would sell out the Donbass in the morning if he could get a deal that secured his borders. Such forces have no principled opposition to imperialism so spare us the details of how bad ISIS etc. are, we know.

But those who are fighting imperialism right now are by definition anti-imperialist and their struggle gains some legitimacy in the eyes of the masses they control because they see that struggle as genuine to some extent at least.  Supporting your own imperialist power against ANY other force is pro-imperialist. No exceptions for truly nasty ISIS, Serbs, Hutus, etc. When those wars are over that some leftist supported on a ‘humanitarian’ basis, the USA is always the clear winner and the third world country the clear loser. And it is to the anti-imperialism of the masses we must orientate, to them the tactic of the anti-imperialist united front is pitched, from above AND below. Very few Trotskyist today orientate to the masses, they do not assess the difference between the anti-imperialism of bourgeois nationalist ruling class or cast and the anti-imperialism of the masses or ever consider how to drive a wedge into that relationship to forge a new revolutionary leadership.

On the phrase the 9/11 hijackers “must never be condemned” the argument was that the cause of 9/11 was violence by the US in the Middle East and justified anger against it. Gerry Downing wrote:

 “Only it is the justified outrage of the oppressed as opposed to the outrage of the oppressor, one violence is that of the slave and the other is that of the slave-owner. One is progressive, no matter how distorted its actions are, and must never be ‘condemned’, imperialism is the violence that holds the whole planet, or almost the whole planet, in thrall, and that violence can never be supported by serious Marxists in any circumstances.”

I never condoned the killing of innocent civilians and never would. It is the causes to which I referred. I would not expect a ruling class ideologue to concur with that sentiment but it does deserve to get a proper hearing.

The assertion that Jewish millionaires and billionaires have extraordinary influence in the ruling classes of the US and Europe in general is obviously true. Why is not so clear but possible explanations we have advanced if divided loyalties as a result of dual citizenship of the own land of birth and Israel. Marxist hold that such national questions will be resolved when the exploitation of one class of human beings over another is ended. It is not antisemitic to believe this but it is definitively anti-Zionist.

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism

Gerry Downing is not an anti-Semite and neither is Ian Donovan. We have never said an anti-Semitic thing since we became politically active decades ago. The understanding of the Jewish Question in the Marxist tradition is a long one since 1843 and we defend it and affirm we stand in that tradition. Most of the stuff about us is right Labour, Tory and Zionist distortions.

Socialist Fight has Black and Jewish supporters who will attest to my personal stances on this. We got better treatment than this from the outright Zionists of Community Security Trust, (CST) “a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats” than some on the left give us:

“One of the curiosities of the Labour Party under its current leadership is that pundits need to familiarise themselves with Marxist theory that many assumed had become obsolete a long time ago. In that spirit, this blog post will provide a (very) brief guide to what Trotskyists mean by the ‘Jewish Question’.

This isn’t the same as the Nazi’s Jewish Question which led to the Final Solution. Trotskyists do want Jews to disappear, but not via genocide. Instead, they have theorised Jews out of history, and get upset that Jews refuse to go along with this theory and perform their historical function by disappearing.”

He is not accurate in his final remark, Trotsky did consider a homeland for persecuted Jews under socialism as a global system but always opposed the Zionist project. Trotsky’s views on the national question developed in line with Lenin’s Last struggle against the Great Russian Chauvinist Stalin in defence of the right to self-determination of Georgia and Ukraine. See Socialist fight polemics on this:  [5]

This is Trotsky’s thoughts on the Jewish Question in January 1937:

“During my youth I rather leaned toward the prognosis that the Jews of different countries would be assimilated and that the Jewish question would thus disappear in a quasi-automatic fashion. The historical development of the last quarter of a century has not confirmed this perspective. Decaying capitalism has everywhere swung over to an exacerbated nationalism, one part of which is anti-semitism. The Jewish question has loomed largest in the most highly developed capitalist country of Europe, in Germany.

On the other hand the Jews of different countries have created their press and developed the Yiddish language as an instrument adapted to modern-culture. One must therefore reckon with the fact that the Jewish nation will maintain itself for an entire epoch to come. Now the nation cannot normally exist without a common territory. Zionism springs from this very idea. But the facts of every passing day demonstrate to us that Zionism is incapable of resolving the Jewish question. The conflict between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine acquires a more and more tragic and more and more menacing character. I do not at all believe that the Jewish question can be resolved within the framework of rotting capitalism and under the control of British imperialism.

And how, you ask me, can socialism solve this question? On this point I can but offer hypotheses. Once socialism has become master of our planet or at least of its most important sections, it will have unimaginable resources in all domains. Human history has witnessed the epoch of great migrations on the basis of barbarism. Socialism will open the possibility of great migrations on the basis of the most developed technique and culture. It goes without saying that what is here involved is not compulsory displacements, that is, the creation of new ghettos for certain nationalities, but displacements freely consented to, or rather demanded by certain nationalities or parts of nationalities. The dispersed Jews who would want to be reassembled in the same community will find a sufficiently extensive and rich spot under the sun. The same possibility will be opened for the Arabs, as for all other scattered nations. National topography will become a part of the planned economy. This is the grand historical perspective that I envisage. To work for international socialism means also to work for the solution of the Jewish question. [6]


[1] Yanis Varoufakis: How I became an erratic Marxist, The Guardian on 18 February 2015,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] See Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin on the Rights of Nations to Self-determination.

[6] Leon Trotsky: On the Jewish Problem (1937-40),

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