Gerry Downing: Reply to two former comrades, Bob Pitt and Graham Campbell

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18/10/2016 by socialistfight

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Bob Pitt: After all Islamophobia Watch just did not pay the bills anymore and anyway who could defend that dreadful Ken Livingstone?

These were with me in the Trotskyist Workers International League. Bob with me in the WRP previously.

Bob wrote a very useful account of the WRP in The Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy. However, by the time he had finished the account he had come to disagree fundamentally with his former revolutionary self. When I tried to defend myself against Jamie Stern-Weiner [1] in Open Democracy of April 2016 Bob intervened to assert that not only had Jamie Stern-Weiner criticised me but I was a good deal worse than that he sought to prove:

Bob Pitt: “Jamie Stern-Weiner in fact criticised your endorsement of what he describes as “dodgy, and frankly mindless phrases like ‘Jewish-Zionist Bourgeoisie’.” He quotes from a Socialist Fight article which states that “elements of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie … have played a vanguard role for the capitalist offensive against the workers”.

“The same Socialist Fight article also claims: “Zionism is a Jewish nationalist-communalist project; its supporters are highly conscious ethnocentric activists with a material base in terms of capitalist property, within the ruling classes of several imperialist countries, as well as Israel. This caste has acquired major moral and political influence among much wider layers of the imperialist bourgeoisie. If this were not true, Zionists could not have the influence they do in the current situation.”

“As Tony Greenstein pointed out in response: “The supporters of Zionism and the racist Israeli state include both Jewish and non-Jewish politicians and capitalists. They have nothing whatsoever to do with a transnational Jewish bourgeoisie. This allegation reeks of the Jewish conspiracy theory.”
The unnamed author of the Socialist Fight article was Ian Donovan, who believes that Jews “have now ascended to the top of the racial hierarchy in the US and other imperialist countries”.

Bob gained employment at the GLC following Ken Livingstone election as Mayor of London. He co-produced a website, Islamophobia Watch, which did good work in combating the rise of racism and violence against Muslims in Britain and Internationally. He abandoned the project in January 2015 but not before he had earned the opprobrium of the far right as we can see by the following quote: “Bob Pitt is probably the most useful/ dangerous kuffar (an atheist, materialist Trotskyist) whore-of-Islam in the UK” [2]

And he took a principled stance against Zionism, at least up until 2008:

“Mad Melanie Phillips tells us that there is no principled difference between Al-Qaeda and mainstream Islamists like the Ikhwan, it’s all just a division of labour in the campaign to destroy western civilisation:

“… there are Islamists who oppose al Qaeda and terrorist action in the UK as a tactical mistake but nevertheless subscribe to the same strategic goal – to restore the medieval Caliphate, overturn British and western society and institute the rule of Islam instead. This is because there are two arms to the jihadi pincer: terrorist attack and cultural attack; and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists use either or both depending on circumstances and upon differing strategic points of view between groups under the same jihadi umbrella.”

And over at Democratiya, we find two members of the Community Security Trust making the same point, assuring us that “Qaradawi condemned the suicide bombings in London on 7/7, but it does not appear that this was based on a principled objection to the methods or goals of the global jihadist movement”.

Which would come as something of a surprise to the Al-Qaeda leadership. As one commentator recently observed in an analysis of a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri: “Zawahiri’s condemnation of Yusuf al-Qaradawi is particularly protracted and probably demonstrates how threatening he considers the popular Muslim Brotherhood scholar to be.” [3]

Now to Pitt’s first charge: Socialist Fight uses the term “Jewish-Zionist Bourgeoisie” and goes on to say that “Zionism is a Jewish nationalist-communalist project; its supporters are highly conscious ethnocentric activists with a material base in terms of capitalist property, within the ruling classes of several imperialist countries, as well as Israel. This caste has acquired major moral and political influence among much wider layers of the imperialist bourgeoisie. If this were not true, Zionists could not have the influence they do in the current situation.”

This is obviously a vile antisemitic slur because Tony Greenstein has said it so in the following statement: “The supporters of Zionism and the racist Israeli state include both Jewish and non-Jewish politicians and capitalists. They have nothing whatsoever to do with a transnational Jewish bourgeoisie. This allegation reeks of the Jewish conspiracy theory.”

Of course the “non-Jewish politicians and capitalists” who support, cover up for and excuse the crimes of Israel against the Palestinians are only important because they form a common front with the Zionist billionaires and millionaires who give the lead in doing just that in the first place. And it is, ridiculously, a “Jewish conspiracy theory” (he spares us the charge of supporting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) to imagine that the very rich and powerful Jewish bourgeoisie in the USA and in Europe would cooperate together against the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and within Israel itself and their leftist supporters in the imperialist heartlands and the wider world.

A quick google will produce proof aplenty. We might quote from The Jerusalem Post of 21-5-2010 (they have advanced considerably in wealth since then):

“Considering their small numbers, Jews have fared disproportionately well in lists of the world’s most powerful and richest people, as well as in Nobel Prizes. The world Jewish population is estimated at being 02. percent of the total populace – some 13.5 million, with just over 5.7 million in Israel, 5.6 million in the US, half a million in Russia and France, 280,000 in the UK and 200,000 in Germany. Yet in Vanity Fair’s latest list of the 100 most powerful people in the world, 51 are Jews. Ten of the 50 people on this year’s Forbes’ annual billionaires list are Jewish. Of the 802 Nobel prizes handed out to date, 162 have gone to Jews.” [4]

Of course you could take the view that The Jerusalem Post can print such things as an expression, as they say, of “national pride” but if a gentile had the temerity to suggest that this might give an imaginary “transnational Jewish bourgeoisie” any political clout or significance whatsoever it is nothing but the vilest of antisemitic slurs, as Bob Pitt and Tony Greenstein seem to think. Which only goes to prove how far the power of this non-existent “transnational Jewish bourgeoisie” has succeeded in disciplining the thoughts of even those who think they are or once were the doyen of anti-Zionism. Or we might attack the anti-Semitism of Jewish revolutionaries like Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky, as the Zionist often do.

Take Trotsky’s piece written in 1938. We see here that he has no problem identifying a Jewish bourgeoisie and criticising it, just we Marxists always do in our class analysis as opposed  to the bourgeois “people” lie in general where only race and nationality exists and they reject all class analyses. Trotsky must also be condemned as a vile anti-semite and racist like Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan by the criteria of Pitt and Greenstein:

“Dear Friend: Father Coughlin, who apparently tries to demonstrate that the absolute idealistic moral does not prevent man from being the greatest rascal, has declared over the radio that in the past I received enormous sums of money for the revolution from the Jewish bourgeoisie in the United States. I have already answered in the press that this is false. I did not receive such money, not, of course, because I would have refused financial support for the revolution, but because the Jewish bourgeoisie did not offer this support. The Jewish bourgeoisie remains true to the principle: not to give, even now when its head is concerned. Suffocating in its own contradictions, capitalism directs enraged blows against the Jews, moreover a part of these blows fall upon the Jewish bourgeoisie in spite of all its past “service” for capitalism. Measures of a philanthropical nature for refugees become less and less efficacious in comparison with the gigantic dimension of the evil burdening the Jewish people. Now it is the turn of France. The victory of fascism in this country would signify a vast strengthening of reaction, and a monstrous growth of violent anti-semitism in all the world, above all in the United States. The number of countries which expel the Jews grows without cease. The number of countries able to accept them decreases. At the same time the exacerbation of the struggle intensifies. It is possible to imagine without difficulty what awaits the Jews at the mere outbreak of the future world war. But even without war the next development of world reaction signifies with certainty the physical extermination of the Jews.” (our emphasis apart from the last) [5]

The Jerusalem Post in 2010 liked in effect to boast of that Jews “have now ascended to the top of the racial hierarchy in the US and other imperialist countries” but obviously Ian Donovan is an anti-semite for saying the same thing and daring to draw political conclusions from it.

Tony Greenstein and the CPGB got their comeuppance on this line of nonsense from Norman Finkelstein, perhaps the world’s most famous and pugnacious Jewish anti-Zionist, at the Communist University on 9 August 2016. Answering contributions from the floor he defended Ian Donovan and Socialist Fight’s position on the Jewish question; ‘Jews have a lot of money and a lot of power and sometimes they use the money to serve their agenda.’ and in reply to Tony Greenstein just at the end, ‘I can’t deal with this politically correct denial of reality.’ [6] We dealt with all this comprehensively in a letter to Weekly Worker on 25-8-16. [7] This is the only half-assed reaction to date.

SNP MP gives office job to boyfriend

A new SNP MP has been criticised after she gave a job in her office to her boyfriend.  Anne McLaughlin, who represents Glasgow North East, provided Graham Campbell with a post that involves liaising with local community groups. (Evening Times, Glasgow, SNP MP gives office job to boyfriend, 11 Oct 2015 / Paul Hutcheon, Investigations Editor)

Graham Campbell: “I’m afraid Gerry is still a believer in the dreadful racist People Class theory”.

The historical People Class is the political analysis that Abram Leon made for the survival of the Jewish race after the fall of the Roman Empire, mainly in exile, in his classic Marxist book, The Jewish Question, a Marxist interpretation. He was a Belgian Jewish Trotskyist who was taken by the Gestapo shortly after and perished in Auschwitz in 1942. The Zionist Dave Rich, chief spokesman and ideologue of the Community Security Trust, has no trouble in identifying what Socialist Fight is and in what traditions it stands:

The key Trotskyist text is The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation, written by a wartime Jewish Trotskyist called Abram Leon. Leon wrote The Jewish Question while in hiding in Belgium during the Nazi occupation, before being caught and deported to Auschwitz where he was killed. The book built on Karl Marx’s original On The Jewish Question (written a century earlier) by coming up with the concept of the “people-class”: a distinct ethnic, religious or racial group, such as Jews, whose characteristics become effectively synonymous with their economic function in society. Using this theory, Leon explained that Jews survived in European history because they were traders and moneylenders and therefore had value in medieval society.

According to Leon’s theory, Jews should have disappeared under capitalism as they became a “declassed element” with no place in modern society. However, antisemitism had prevented them from fully assimilating. Zionism, Leon predicted, would fail because it was an attempt to “resolve the Jewish question independently of the world revolution.” Only socialism could provide a solution, by offering Jews “The end of Judaism” – something that Leon welcomed.

Leon’s book has proven enormously influential in Trotskyist thinking about Jews. Gerry Downing’s article on his Socialist Fight website titled “Why Marxists must address the Jewish question concretely today” draws extensively on Leon. Several other articles on the website do the same. The Socialist Workers Party pamphlet Israel: The Hijack State claims that “Leon’s book is today recognised as the authority on the Jewish question by both Jewish and non-Jewish opponents of Zionism” (emphasis in the original). Shlomo Sand, author of The Invention of the Jewish People, said “I feel that Abram Leon is my family” – politically speaking. [8]

This demonstrates what a profoundly ignorant and treacherous attack this is from my former comrades in the Workers International League. So Abram Leon too was a “dreadful racist” like me as the Zionist claim, was he Graham? Gerry Downing bashing is a sport of reactionaries like Guido Fawkes, David Cameron, the right wing Blairites and those on the left who have no revolutionary commitment, like Tony Greenstein and John Lansman or those who have lost their former commitment to those politics entirely and wish to signal to the masters of life how sorry they are for ever thinking these dreadful things.

Let us compose an imaginary joint letter from these two former comrades of mine to display what message they wish to send by attacking me and the revolutionary politics of Socialist Fight gratuitously like this:

Dear Masters of Life and Zionist Oppressors of the Palestinians:

We wish you all to know that we have now become your true servants within the left and the labour movement. Look now how we join you all in lying about Gerry Downing, Ian Donovan and Socialist Fight as anti-Semites and racists. How much lower could we grovel to please you, oh great masters?

We apologise for all our past errors and failings and promises to be good servants in future.

Bob Pit promises to forget all about that Islamophobic Watch nonsense. And all that fundamental differentiation he made about ordinary Muslin people and Al Qaeda jihadist fanatics.  Like Graham I now realise these comrades are real moderate rebels, 100, 000 of them at least in Syria alone, fighting a real revolution against the vile reactionary Russians and that Syrian butcher Assad. We are sure that the CIA, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar are sincerely seeking to further this revolution, have only the good of all the oppressed at heart and that the Local Coordinating Committees are just about to overthrow what minor elements remain of Jihadists, head choppers, heart eaters and those who sawed the head off that terroristic 12-year-old Palestinian monster with a short knife and had every justification in celebrating it.

After all Islamophobia Watch just did not pay the bills anymore and anyway who could defend that dreadful Ken Livingstone? We never really liked him or his bogus anti Zionism, honestly, you must believe us. Bob was down on his luck and just had to take the job in the GLC when it was offered but never really believed all that bogus anti-Zionist stuff which was obviously anti-Semitism all along. Of course Downing and Livingstone are and always were vile anti Semites. And now that Graham is an SNP MP’s researcher at Westminster all that anti-imperialism, leftism and revolutionary politics are definitely a thing of the past. Of the long past and nothing of those old prejudices now remain. We are telling the truth this time. Really we are. You must believe us.

Yours with abject and grovelling apologies.

Bob Pitt and Graham Campbell

Notes

[1] Jamie Stern-Weiner 27 April 2016, Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do. http://tinyurl.com/hx4yal8

[2] Liberty, 24 Jun, 2013 By Paul Austin Murphy. http://www.libertygb.org.uk/news/trotskyist-zealot-behind-islamophobia-watch

[3] Bob Pitt,  Zionists against Islamism, May 28, 2008 http://www.islamophobiawatch.co.uk/zionists-against-islamism/

[4] World’s 50 most influential Jews, http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/Worlds-50-most-influential-Jews-176071

[5] Leon Trotsky, On the Jewish Problem, 22 December 1938, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/xx/jewish.htm

[6] Norman Finkelstein: The future of Palestine – YouTube, See it at 1 hour 30 mins,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4JsM4nCb_U

[7] Weekly Worker on 25-8-16: Heretics,  http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1119/letters/

[8] Dave Rich, Gerry Downing’s ‘Jewish Question’, 10 Mar 2016, https://cst.org.uk/news/blog/2016/03/10/gerry-downings-jewish-question

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