24/12/2017 by Ian
Having put a motion on the table for the coming 6 January meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt, to reverse the decision of the 2 December meeting that overturned the decision of LAW’s own executive to exclude Socialist Fight, Tony Greenstein has gone into a blind panic at the possibility of being defeated for a second time. It is not clear whether the erratic and capricious behaviour described below has the backing of fellow members of the LAW executive or his partners in the CPGB/Weekly Worker.
After the exclusion proposal was defeated on 2 December, it was raised in the meeting, and Greenstein accepted in front of the members present, that our supporters would be reinstated into the LAW Facebook group as a matter of course, as a fulfillment of the outcome of the vote.
We duly were readmitted in short order. However, within a couple of weeks Greenstein panicked that he would be seen as politically associated with Socialist Fight’s consistently anti-imperialist anti-Zionism as part of an inclusive left-wing front against the witchhunt. Greenstein put out a renewed call to drive out the ‘anti-Semitic’ Socialist Fight in the Weekly Worker of 14 December. He also threatened to resign from the group if he failed to get his way, and claimed to speak for two other victims of false anti-Semitism allegations who he claimed would do the same.
He immediately posted this article on the Facebook group, accompanied by a renewed tide of denunciation from his allies and acolytes. However, when we rapidly produced a comprehensive political reply that addressed and demolished virtually every point in his original article, he removed our reply from the group arbitrarily and warned anyone who wished to discuss it that they would be banned from the group.
All this is in direct defiance of a vote at a duly constituted meeting of LAW. And now it appears that one of our leading comrades, Ian Donovan, has been removed from the group completely and in fact blocked from seeing it, and another, Gerry Downing, has been deprived of posting rights but can still read articles, comment and ‘like’ contributions. None of our comrades were informed of this, it was just done arbitrarily without any democratic decision and in complete defiance of the decisions of the meeting of 2 December. Another LAW supporter, MD, who is not a supporter of Socialist Fight but who simply agreed with some of our points and wanted to debate, was arbitrarily removed from the group simply because Greenstein took a dislike to him
This is bizarre conduct. It’s hardly the behaviour of someone who is confident in the correctness of their own politics and able to justify it in front of the working class movement in debate, winning support for their ideas. It is sneaky behaviour that is characteristic of someone paralysed by fear and cowardice. Its not only anti-democratic but capricious, not even done on strict factional lines but on the basis of subjectively unequal levels of dislike and guesswork
It is the kind of behaviour that the right-wing have been carrying out all over the country against the Corbynite left. What a pity that this kind of behaviour should now be reproduced within the ranks of those who are victims of the witchhunt themselves.
It is antithetical to the best traditions of the Marxist left, for whom workers democracy is not an optional extra, but the very lifeblood without which the workers movement will capitulate to the bosses, and ultimately wither and die. It is also contrary to the best aspirations of even the Labour left. How can socialists expect to be taken seriously if the results of votes at duly constituted meetings are blatantly ignored and treated with utter contempt, and individuals removed from democratic forums despite votes to the contrary.
As we pointed out when Greenstein warned us for posting our reply and trying to debate the points between us, Greenstein is behaving even more dishonestly than Jon Lansman, who at least has engineered the legal situation where Momentum’s assets are his private property through the limited company he used to set it up. Greenstein treats LAW in the same way even though no such relationship exists. Some might call this larceny.
Greenstein’s ‘anti-Zionism’ is only a thin veneer of radical posturing that hides his own ‘left’ form of Jewish communal politics, influenced by the separatist Jewish Bund that fought against Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolshevik Party for ‘autonomy’ and a separate Jewish socialist organisation with only a loose, federal relationship with the wider socialist movement. The Bolsheviks considered this idea reactionary in the context of the Tsarist empire where Jews were then savagely oppressed.
In today’s context, where Israeli Jews are the direct oppressors of the Palestinian people, and Jewish-Zionist organisations in the US, Britain etc. act as an Israeli foreign legion, lobbying and cajoling Israel’s imperialist allies into endorsing all kind of Israeli atrocities that rationally they would otherwise have no reason or interest in doing, this separatism is far worse.
In the way these groups operate within the Palestine solidarity movement, they often appear to play a paternalistic role and actively reinforce, instead of fighting against, the widespread racist prejudice, based on the notion of Jewish moral superiority to non-Jews as a result of past suffering, that opposition to Israeli crimes is suspected to be anti-Semitic unless validated by a special Jewish endorsement. Greenstein has been involved in creating a number of Jews-only organisations connected with the Palestine Solidarity Movement, such as Jews Against Zionism (JAZ) and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBiG). These groups are indirectly a transmission belt for Zionist influence into the left, despite their subjective intentions as anti-Zionists, because a widely accepted notion of Jewish moral superiority is a sine-qua-non of Zionism’s influence and legitimacy in this society.
Greenstein wants to ban criticism and analysis within the left of the semi-Bundist, semi-separatist, divisive and reactionary politics that he is pushing. He also wants to ban criticism of the international dimension of political Zionism, which is a reactionary, communalist Jewish movement just as UKIP is a reactionary nationalist British organisation. But this is really not feasible, as unity of the left across communal divisions, in defence against the witchhunt and in solidarity with the Palestinians, is an objective necessity. Someone like Greenstein, who stands against that, cannot tolerate workers democracy and must, as demonstrated, behave in an irrational and undemocratic manner.
Come and vote for democracy and against anti-left witch-hunting on Jan 6 at 12 noon, Calthorpe Arms, 252 Grays Inn Road, London WC1