Letter to Weekly Worker, Reply to Tony Greenstein 3/4/16

2

03/04/2016 by socialistfight

Dear Editor,

I have now been expelled from the Labour Representation Committee for antisemitism I found out on the following tweets posted on 2 April: Andrew Coates (@Pabloite): Gerry Downing was this afternoon expelled from the Labour Representation Committee, by unanimous decision, on grounds of his antisemitism. David Osland (@David__Osland): Gerry Downing has today been expelled from the Labour Representation Committee, on account of his antisemitism. Correct decision.

As I pointed out in my letter to the LRC Secretary Norrtette Moore this was conducted in flagrant disregard for the LRC constitution and “A capitalist employer, e.g. a bus company in a bourgeois democracy, would afford me full rights of hearing and representation if I had killed a pedestrian by reckless driving when I worked as a bus driver. You have given me no rights at all in flagrant disregard for your own constitution.  Do you think that you have acted in the manner appropriate to the functioning of the socialist society to which you claim to aspire? Is 1984 still to come for you?”

But the charge as reported in the tweets is antisemitism, a charge accepted by Tony Greenstein only to find himself up on the same charge himself and suspended from the Labour party and treated only a little better in democratic terms than I was.  But he is totally innocent of this charge whereas Ian Donovan and Gerry Downing are not, he thinks. He has had several goes at explaining why we are guilty such as, “their politics leads inexorably in an anti-Semitic direction” and on Facebook to me: “Although I’ve made it clear that I don’t consider you to be personally anti-Semitic this crackpot theory cannot but have anti-Semitic implications.” And, best of all, to Ian and Gilad Atzmon: “never said you hated Jews. Never said Atzmon hates Jews. Enoch Powell wasn’t personally racist” in a tweet. So we are all not antisemitic like Powell wasn’t a racist i.e. we are guilty as charged.

So what is antisemitism? It is a very politically charged concept, the reader will have realised by now. Typical definitions are, “prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group”. So we are not that type of antisemites, are we? No, just people whose ideas might lead to that if we were to draw the wrong conclusions from them. And there are plenty Zionist ready to draw such conclusions at a moment’s notice. But the WW Notes for Action directs us to the Zionist ex-minister’s Eric Pickles Government site which has a more pro-Zionist definition:  “Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour… Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” Greenstein is definitively guilty here as are all anti-Zionist activists.

And what does our political positions lead to “inexorable”? “That we should campaign against the Jewish bourgeoisie separately from its non-Jewish counterpart” Tony says. But we don’t do that and will not do that. We are definitely NOT going down the road of Esther Kaplan and “hang the Jewish capitalists”. But we do recognise the unique position that Zionism holds in the USA and Western Europe in particular. Witness today how it is being used to discipline and tame the leftism of the Corbyn leadership to prepare it to be a reliable second line of defence for British and global imperialism in the very likely event of the Tories collapsing in disarray over Brexit.

Tony, in his article in WW 1099, attempts to deal with the analysis of the Belgium Trotskyist Abram Leon, who died in Auschwitz in 1944, of the  Jews as a ‘people-class’, the seminal text on the Jewish Question for all Trotskyists. Turns out he was not so great because Tony profoundly disagrees with him and only makes a bow in his direction and then proceeds to ignore everything he wrote on the subject. Jewish bankers were not any more influential in the Middle Ages than any others he says and, “What is certain is that a separate Jewish bourgeoisie, whose most famous representative was the Jewish financier and philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, disappeared in the 19th century”. But no, he has gone too far there, he thinks and contradicts himself in his blog of 28 March, “Downing’s stupidity is less excusable. The French Revolution resolved the Jewish question, the place of Jews in European society, over 200 years ago”.

So Bruno Bauer and Karl Marx were wasting their time in 1843 and Abram Leon likewise in 1942 when they wrote on the Jewish Question. It was solved either by the French Revolution or by the death of Montefiore almost a hundred years later in 1985. He tells us how was it “solved”:

“In the words of Stanislas Marie Adélaïde, the count of Clermont-Tonnerre, “We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals. Only the Zionists and the anti-Semites rejected the emancipation of the Jews”. And “As Leon noted, ‘the economic process from which the modern nations issued laid the foundations for integration of the Jewish bourgeoisie into the bourgeois nation’.”

Well that has not happened and cannot happen because of the emergence of the state of Israel. The development of Lenin’s and the Left Opposition’s position on the national question understands that it will not happen this side of the world revolution. We do NOT seek the assimilation of ‘the Jews’ in a mechanical fashion, we do NOT think that the national question is an unfortunate diversion from the struggle for socialism as the Second International and the Bolsheviks, including Lenin and Trotsky did until about 1920 and Lenin’s last struggle against Stalin from 1921-23. Here he asserted the right of Georgia to self-determination as an integral part of the struggle to mobilise the masses for the world revolution. Stalin saw it as a bureaucratic nuisance to be crushed as soon as possible. Therefore Trotsky estimation of the Jewish Question in 1937 was the same as the Trotskyist Abraham Leon’s position in 1942:

“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… 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.”

Nothing could be further from the current state of Israel with its monstrous racist laws and regular slaughter of defenceless Palestinians. And this ‘solution’ is definitely not assimilation either. Tony Greenstein’s lack of understanding of the Jewish Question is the same as his lack of understanding of global imperialism itself.  He cannot understand that USA is the central enemy of all humanity because the social relations of production imposed on the entire planet under the leadership of Wall Street leaves the vast majority in penury and a whole section starving in the midst of humanity’s technical and economic ability to produce everything for everyone to have a full and happy life from cradle to grave.

Tony says I am wrong that “those who are fighting imperialism right now are by definition anti-imperialist”. None of those fighting or who have fought imperialism, apart from the Bolsheviks, from the left ‘progressive’ Stalinists and bourgeois nationalists to the monstrous barbarians of the Taliban and ISIS, are consistently anti-imperialists. From Castro to Saddam to Gaddafi and ISIS they sought or seek only a better accommodation with imperialism. It really is immaterial how barbaric they are or how they came into being; once we concede that we must condone US bombing them, and apparently they have now bombed them up to 20,000 times, we are then accepting the ‘civilising mission’ of imperialism and that there is a greater enemy.

Tony is in error about the Khmer Rouge; US imperialism, and China on behalf of imperialism, supported them against the progressive invasion of Vietnam backed by the USSR. And he is wrong about the Kurds. They still have a right to self-determination but are the main allies of imperialism today against the ISIS; that cannot end in any kind of revolution. They will be betrayed by their own leaders because of this. “I suggest we take our lead from the masses rather than Gerry Downing’s bankrupt theories” says Tony, a very silly thing for a self-professed Marxist to say. He ‘forgets’, for instance, how the befuddled Egyptian ‘masses’ overthrew a democratic elected Morsi and replaced him with a bloody army dictator al Sisi.  He cannot forge any path for human liberation that does not rely on a section of ‘liberal’ imperialism. He just gives up; “some groups are neither fish nor fowl. They defy political description”. So in the end Tony rejects my plea for a united front against reaction: “What I don’t want to do is entangle my own fight with your case because it is not the same. That is now(t?) cowardice. I can hardly say that anti-Semitism is a pretext for attacking anti-Zionism if u come along and give them what they want”. In my humble opinion that is political cowardice bred of political confusion on what is the path for human liberation and who the main enemy is in achieving it.

Gerry Downing Socialist Fight

 

Letter to Labour Representation Committee

For the Attention of: Norette Moore, Secretary.

Dear Ms Moore,

The following two tweets from yesterday have been brought to my attention:

Andrew Coates (@Pabloite):

Gerry Downing was this afternoon expelled from the Labour Representation Committee, by unanimous decision, on grounds of his antisemitism.

David Osland (@David__Osland):

Gerry Downing has today been expelled from the Labour Representation Committee, on account of his antisemitism. Correct decision.

I request now that you, as Secretary, formally tell me, in writing by letter to the above address or by replying to this email, the truth or otherwise of these tweets. In particular I demand to know if the meeting was properly called, who attended and what votes were taken on what motions concerning me and who voted for these motion(s)? Is Andrew Coates correct that the vote(s) was/were unanimous?

Both tweets refer to my alleged antisemitism, “on grounds of his antisemitism” and “on account of his antisemitism”. Before challenging these vile accusations I would first refer you to Section 9 of the LRC constitution which states:

Exclusion of members

  1. The national committee will have the right to exclude members from any or all of its meetings for a specified period of time for disruption or violent behaviour subject to;

(a) the right of the member to a hearing before the national committee prior to any decision to exclude them;

(b) the member having the right of appeal to the AGM.

Expulsion is a far more serious matter than temporary exclusion. It is impossible to imagine those slated for expulsion would get lesser rights than excluded members. Why did you, as Secretary, not afford me my constitutional rights in this manner? A capitalist employer, e.g. a bus company in a bourgeois democracy, would afford me full rights of hearing and representation if I had killed a pedestrian by reckless driving when I worked as a bus driver. You have given me no rights at all in flagrant disregard for your own constitution.  Do you think that you have acted in the manner appropriate to the functioning of the socialist society to which you claim to aspire? Is 1984 still to come for you?

I will address the substantive issue of antisemitism when I get your reply to these questions.

 

Comradely Gerry Downing

2 thoughts on “Letter to Weekly Worker, Reply to Tony Greenstein 3/4/16

  1. Considering the issue’s weight, both Greenstein’s main argument and your response have been extremely cursory. Greenstein says the logic of your position is to call specifically for the defeat of the international Jewish bourgeoisie. This may be the only logical thing Greenstein has said in his entire life. And you do! “Defeat the Jewish vanguard of the international bourgeoisie by Palestinian victory” is implicit in your analysis; you’ve acknowledged the same.

    But it’s certaintly insufficient to say in argument against an attack on the logical implications of your position that you refuse to take that step. This is doubly true when you do take that step.

    Like

  2. Ian says:

    This is a different angle. My new article on The International Dimension of Zionism: Revolutionary Strategy deals with this is full. It’s not possible to deal with every aspect of a difficult question in a short letter.

    Like

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