Socialist Fight statement on the resignation of Ken Livingstone 23-5-18

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23/05/2018 by socialistfight

Image result for Ken Livingstone resigns images

Defend Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Stan Keable and all victim of this bogus anti-Semitism-in-Labour Zionist onslaught!

Demand their reinstatement in Labour!

The resignation of Ken Livingstone in the evening of 21 May is a blow to the working class globally and to the left of the Labour party in particular. Internationally his resignation, far from helping the cause of the oppressed Palestinians by “defeating antisemitism in Labour” as some deluded and cynical leftists charge, is a blow to the Palestinians and all oppressed everywhere, including the new mass membership of Labour who are the vanguard to the whole British working class. Their continued leftward development will be seriously hamstrung by this if we fail to defeat this ideological and political onslaught on the left. Matters will now only get worse, having brought down the big beast of the left, the others like Jackie Walker, also falsely charged with antisemitism, will follow rapidly if we fail to turn this around.

Livingstone was the Leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) from 1981 until Thatcher abolished it in 1986 because it was such a thorn in the side of the Tory government. He was elected first Mayor of London in 2000 but lost to the Tory Boris Johnson in 2008 because he demoralised the working class by his continued pandering to capitalist neo-liberalism and the City of London. He politically defeated the Zionist Reg Freeson to become MP for Brent East from 1987 to 2001, a highpoint for the left in Labour. He was regarded as the party’s hard left, but never claimed the politics of revolution; he was a “democratic socialist”. He has been dubbed “the only truly successful left-wing British politician of modern times”; as leader of the GLC he pioneered the fight for women’s and LGBT rights. He promoted grass roots movements of ethnic minorities with GLC funding and was at the head of almost every leftist movement in those years. He faced down reaction with disarmingly logical television interviews on the questions of Islamophobia and he defended Irish Republicanism and other anti-imperialist causes globally.

Now he says he is leaving the party he joined 50 years ago with “great sadness” but would continue to campaign for a government led by Jeremy Corbyn:

“After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour party. We desperately need a Corbyn-led government to transform Britain and I’ll continue to work to this end. The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the NHS of the vital resources they need.”

Image result for Abram Leon The jewish question images

Anti-Semitism in history and now

The issue that brought him down is the Zionist-led campaign alleging that antisemitism is rife in the Labour party. Socialist Fight insists that Zionism is a far-right racist ideology, the only modern “respectable” form of racism, which had less than 5% support in the Jewish Pale of Settlement, [1] before the Holocaust. Once the global struggle for socialism resumes in earnest it will be reduced to that again. Not all Jews are Zionist like Netanyahu but there are many liberal/left Zionists who now support the expulsion/resignation of Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker and others on these bogus antisemitism charges. And many Jewish defenders of the existence of the state of Israel because of the terrible trauma of the Holocaust who reject this attack on Labour and Livingstone.

it is not Jewish religious culture, self-identification and politics that explains the survival of Judaism over the millennia but the Jewish historical relationship to society, imposed on them by circumstances and therefore accepted as inevitable, that produced that continued existence as a separate caste. They were the mercantile capitalist trading people of antiquity; the feudal aristocracy and monarchy of the middle ages sought to preserve their privileges against them and the rising bourgeoisie in general by exploiting the religious prejudices the peasantry by blaming the Jews and not the occupying Romans for the crucifixion of Christ. That is the secret of the anti-Semitism of the peasantry which the landlords mobilised to protest those privileges, still seen in peasant populations in Eastern Europe.

“We do not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but we will look for the secret of the religion in the real Jew”, Marx explained, that is Jews in their economic and social role. [2] Judaism was an indispensable factor in precapitalist society. “Judaism has survived not in spite of history but because of history” as Abram Leon explains in The Jewish Question, a Marxist Interpretation. He wrote that great book before the Belgium Trotskyist Jew perished in Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 26. When Gerry Downing was expelled from the Labour party, the Zionist leader of the Community Security Trust identified that book as the source of his and Socialist Fight’s anti Zionism, which he falsely claimed was anti-Semitism.

In modern times Hitler ideologically defended capitalism in Germany by equating finance capitalism with the entire capitalist system, then equating Judaism in general with finance capital (“Rothschild”), blaming it and therefore those Jews for Germany’s defeat in WWI. And when the revolutionary upsurge of 1918-23 was defeated the peasantry and ruined middle class accepted this “socialism of fools” solution; capitalism would revive if we got rid of the bankers who were allied with the USA/Wall Street and also with the Russian Bolsheviks; they claimed that the whole of modernism was to blame for the deep depression which was offloaded on Germany by the Versailles Treaty after WWI and reinforced by forcing Germany to bear a hugely disproportionate burden of the Wall Street crash of 1929. It was the Bolsheviks/communism which was the main target of Nazi propaganda in the early 1930s, not the Jews; fascism can only triumph with the defeat of the organised working class, the Holocaust only became possible when Hitler achieve that after May Day 1933.

When Corbyn accepted Kalen Ockerman’s East End mural as anti-Semitic a vast layer of Labour lefts followed him in this crucial act of capitulation. They thereby implicitly accepted that finance capitalism itself was synonymous with Jewish bankers and therefore it was anti-semitic to oppose capitalism in general. After all a key point of Lenin’s 1916 book Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism was that finance capital dominated capitalism in general in the epoch of imperialism.

Clearly the mural is a condemnation of the entire capitalist establishment. If Zionists are offended it is because they empathise with that establishment and thus contribute to the old prejudices of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the anti-Semitic conspiracy charge against all Jews. They seek to remove Corbyn because they fear that the leftward surge in the mass base of the Labour party threatens capitalism itself because the general election result showed a left surge in the working class as a whole.

Who rejoices at Ken’s resignation?

Just look at who is rejoicing at the resignation, the BOD and Labour right and the capitalists mass media.  Shame on those who howl along with these wolves of reaction. Defined now as left Zionists and their apologists.

This is a truly shameful episode in Corbyn’s career. Many on the left will never forgive him for this, Livingstone resigned to spare Corbyn the humiliation of facing the courts to prove that telling the truth is now a crime in the Labour party. Livingstone rightly offended the racist Zionists bigots and those who apologise for them by telling the truth about Zionism and its collaboration with the Nazis to save themselves and promote the Zionist project of Israel, including the mass expulsion of the then inhabitants of Palestine.  This in the immediate aftermath of horrendous war crimes committed against the inhabitants of the besieged ghetto that is Gaza; the pre-planned cold-blooded murder of upwards of 110 Palestinians, including women and children and journalists, the deliberate maiming for life of thousands, focusing on blowing away the legs of well-known athletes and football players.

We are all aware of Livingstone’s bad politics on other issues but to drag that in now to justify the domination over Labour of these Zionist monsters like the Jewish Labour Movement, who blame the victims, is shocking reaction. The Jewish Labour Movement acted as a proxy for the Israeli embassy, a document obtained by The Electronic Intifada reveals. “We work with Shai, we know him very well,” the group’s director Ella Rose admitted to an undercover reporter in 2016, a transcript of the conversation shows.

Shai Masot was the Israeli embassy spy forced out of the UK after an undercover Al Jazeera investigation last year exposed him plotting to “take down” a senior UK government minister. [3]

The journalist Jonathan Cook tweeted, “Labour Friends of Israel, representing 80 Labour MPs, has been shamed into taking down its statement condoning Israel’s massacre of unarmed Palestinians yesterday. Lest we forget, here it is again.”

“Tragic events on the Gazan border; all civilian deaths are regrettable. Hamas must accept responsibility for these events. Their successful attempts to hijack peaceful protest as a cover to attack Israeli border communities must be condemned by all who seek peace in the Middle East.”

Labour MPs Catherine West and Tulip Siddiq have removed their names as supporters of the Labour Friends of Israel as a consequence. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry remains a member of the LFI.

Liberal/left Zionism serves the cause of Zionism in general

Joely Cohen, a student organiser for Jewdents, a left-wing student group, has written a powerful condemnation of left-liberal Zionism which was posted in Jewish News Online.  She wrote on 16 May:

“Liberal Zionism in its essence is about enabling the continued existence of a Jewish and democratic nation-state, which means that as soon as Liberal Zionists begin to consider allowing Palestinians to return to Israel their ideology collapses. But Liberal Zionism is also about kindness and equality, it is about the Jewish nation-state embodying Jewish values.

So what is the Liberal Zionist answer to the question of ‘What else do you expect the State of Israel to do?’. There is none. If the State of Israel was to hold back violence, then the Gazan Palestinians would undoubtedly cross the border and return to their homes and villages: Israel, as a Jewish and democratic state, would cease to exist. But if the State of Israel continues with violence, it also ceases to exist as the kind and equal State that Liberal Zionists also yearn for.

Liberal Zionism attempts to reconcile progressive Jewish values and support for the existence of a Jewish nation-state. But these two ideologies are only reconcilable if one ignores, either purposefully or for lack of education, the full history of the State of Israel.

In weeks likes these, when Palestinians loudly demand the right of return, the painful history of the Jewish state is thrust in our faces. As Liberal Zionists begin to gain a better understanding of Israel-Palestine, they are faced with a choice:

Either they can support a Jewish and democratic state with all the violence that they understand is necessary to maintain it. Or they can relinquish the need for a Jewish majority in Israel-Palestine and start to imagine a State which is neither Palestinian nor Jewish, but a State which gives citizenship and equal rights to all those who dwell on the land. This State would not need to use violence to prevent refugees from returning home. This State would not be a Jewish nation-state but would embody Jewish values more than the current of State of Israel ever could. Liberal Zionism is and always has been an impossible equation, it’s just a matter of when we realise that’s the case.” [4]

How inspiring it is to read such political clarity and honesty from a young Jewish woman! And note how it immediately puts the Alliance for Workers Liberty in the category of left-liberal Zionism as they oppose the Palestinian’s right to return. [5]  Similarly, a retired Jewish woman drafted the letter to Corbyn form the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group on 17 May which contained the following powerful denunciation on the bogus Zionist-led charges against Labour and berated Corbyn for his cowardice in the face of these charges:

“Some of us don’t understand why you responded to the recent escalated accusations of antisemitism by meeting with the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, many members of whom are in the Conservative Party, to discuss how the Labour Party should address its problems of anti-semitism; and why you also appear to have decided to give credibility to the notion, promoted by pro-Zionist forces, many of whom are not Jewish, that anti-semitism is the worst form of racism.

We know that other forms of racism exist inside the Labour Party. Many of us believe that recent actions taken against prominent black members, one of them Jewish and all of them people who have spent decades fighting all forms of racism, is itself a manifestation of racism, and besides being wrong, does nothing to build the kind of diverse movement we need, and which is necessary to defeat the Tories who seek, often effectively, to divide us.

We wonder why you did not choose to take leadership from Jewish Voice for Labour in order to come up with effective mechanisms for dealing with instances of anti-semitic behaviour. That organisation is made up of Jewish members of the Labour Party who both support the present Labour Party platform and know that opposition to the policies of the Israeli government towards the Palestinian people does not constitute anti-semitism.”

On the other hand, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group takes the opposite stance and as a left-liberal Zionism gives credibility to these charges and attacks Livingstone now as he did over the Labour Herald cartoon of Begin in 1982:

“The knee-jerk reaction of many left wingers, tired of cynical, manufactured and distorted accusations of antisemitism was to leap to his defence, Others who harboured doubts about the veracity of Livingstone’s comments and his tact were more reticent.

In that period, Livingstone was guilty of a misdemeanour which does link directly to much more recent controversies. He was one of the editors of a left-wing newspaper called Labour Herald which published very crude denunciations of Israel and cartoons of its very right-wing Prime Minister Menachem Begin dressed in Nazi uniform, which drew accusations of antisemitism.  It also carried a review by one Harry Mullin of three publications alleging Zionist-Nazi collaboration. This review crossed a line from anti-Zionism to antisemitism. I was co-writer of a letter from the JSG, showing how this line had been crossed, and how it also served to diminish Nazi responsibility for the Holocaust. Our letter demanded an apology from Labour Herald for publishing this review. The letter was published but no apology was made. In a private letter Livingstone remarked that Harry Mullin was a respected labour movement writer. It was no great surprise to me to learn that a few years down the line Harry Mullin had found his more natural home in the fascist British National Party, through which he increasingly peddled Holocaust denial. Perhaps this was an early hint of – at best – Livingstone’s lack of sophisticated judgement in this area.”

This is a slippery evasion of the truth from a liberal/left Zionist.  At least three times he alleges and implies that Livingstone lied about Zionist Nazi collaboration but cannot bring himself to quote any lie he told. He is, in fact, complaining that Livingstone has offended racist Zionism, a thing that every serious leftist should do all the time.  Offend them and denounce then for the racist scumbags they are. Because our people are the Palestinians and the hounding of Livingstone and Jackie Walker and the rest is primarily aimed at justifying the horrendous war crimes we have just seen in Gaza.

The author reveals he made a similar political grovel to Zionism back in the early 1980s when he objected to the cartoon in the Labour Herald showing Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wearing a Nazi uniform and giving a Sieg Heil salute over a pile of corpses with a Star of David as his armband. The BOD charged this as antisemitism. He also attacks Lenni Brenner for his expose of Nazi Zionist collaboration. Again, he is unable to point to any actual untruths, just vague assertions of antisemitism for having the temerity to speak the historical truth. It offended racists by exposing them for what they are.

Rosenberg’s account is taken from Dave Rich’s book [6] which expresses his outrage that the left at that time was so strongly anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian that Ted Knight in collaboration with Ken Livingstone and egged on by the WRP, succeeded in getting an emergency resolution passed at the 1982 Labour Party conference in the teeth of opposition from leftist party leader Michael Foot [7] that it:

“recognised the PLO  as ‘the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people’, and that called on the party to support ‘the establishment of a democratic secular state of Palestine as the long-term solution to the Palestinian problem’. This formula of a ‘democratic secular state’ meant that Israel would be replaced entirely by a single state of Palestine”.

He further complains that:

“Ken Livingstone’s efforts to replace Reg Freeson as Labour candidate for Brent East in the 1983 general election included attacks on Freeson’s support for Israel. Similar disagreements between Labour Zionists and anti-Zionists arose in Hackney. The Labour-run council in Dundee, encouraged by George Galloway, twinned Dundee with Nablus and flew the Palestinian flag from the town hall. This drew an outraged response from the Board of Deputies, who organised d petition of 5,000 names against the move and protested to the Scottish Office, to no avail.”

There was just too much sympathy for the oppressed and slaughtered Palestinians to get anything done about that flag. Then came the ultimate insult:

“The Jewish community leadership’s concerns coalesced around the figure of Livingstone, elected as leader of the Greater London Council in 1981. In June 1982, the Board of Deputies asked the Attorney General to prosecute Livingstone’s Labour Herald after it published a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wearing a Nazi uniform and giving a Sieg Heil salute while standing astride a pile of bloody skeletons. Instead of a swastika, Begin’s armband bore a Star of David …. A few weeks later, Labour Herald published d letter from the non-Zionist Jewish Socialist Group demanding an apology for printing Mullin’s ‘blatantly anti-Semitic’ review and calling it ‘a disgrace to a socialist newspaper’. No apology was forthcoming, and the Attorney General declined to prosecute Labour Herald for either the review or the Begin cartoon.”

And furthermore, Livingstone promoted the Lenni Brenner book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, which supplies details that Livingstone later said, “helped form my view of Zionism and its history”:

Lenni Brenner book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators

Livingstone recounted these events in his 2011 memoirs, alleging that various people and organisations in the Jewish communal leadership in Britain and America, and in the pre-state Zionist leadership, were either soft on fascism or sympathetic to it before and during the Second World War. He claims to have been most shocked by ‘the role of Israel’s respected Labour party leaders it was a catastrophic error of judgement not to throw all the resources of Zionism into the campaign against Nazism’. (The implication that the Zionist movement in the 1930s and 1940s could add significant weight to the combined war effort of the British Empire, the Soviet Union and the United States suggests that Livingstone has an inflated estimation of Zionism ‘s power and influence.) When Livingstone endorsed Brenner’s

And what was Begin doing back then? The invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 and the siege of Beirut with 17,825 persons killed and another 30,203 wounded, facilitating the horrific slaughter in the Sabra and Shatila massacre of the Palestinian refugee camp by the fascists just a few months later in September 1982. [8] The BOD kicked up a huge stink, and no one on the left, apart from the Jewish Socialist Group, took a blind bit of notice of them. The Zionist have spent almost 40 years trying to get Livingstone.  Those who take the wrong side now are moving on a very dangerous direction indeed.

The Palestinian who went to the border fence to demand basic human rights, knowing the danger of death or serious injury, are the real heroic icons for their own and every oppressed people and minority everywhere.  Their outrageous courage and determination demands our unconditional support. Their murderers should be rightly bracketed with the Nazis oppressors and murderers of the Jews in the 1930s and 40s. There are plenty of images of Jewish fighters against the Nazis in Eastern Europe and these modern Palestinians stand in that tradition. It’s not too late for some to consider where all this is going by excusing this and to pull back now.

Did Livingstone Lie?

In His Blog Tory Greenstein sets out her the sordid details of the Zionist collaboration with the Nazis:

The Judenräte

Everywhere the Nazis conquered, “the most important concentration measure prior to the formation of the ghettos was the establishment of Jewish councils (Judenräte).” [27] As Eichmann commented, “The assimilated Jew was, of course, very unhappy about being moved to a ghetto. But the orthodox were pleased with the arrangement, as were the Zionists.” [28] Some two-thirds of the Judenräte consisted of Zionist supporters. [29]

There were three stages to the final solution – concentration in ghettos, deportation to the east and extermination. Everywhere there were functioning Judenräte, the Nazis were successful in their plans.

The Prague Community Council was to provide the model for the Judenräte, which in the towns of Poland and Russia in 1941-43 registered the names of their flock, brought them to the assembly place, and eventually followed them to the execution pits and death camps. [30]

The Judenräte were reviled by the Jewish population and with good reason. The Nazis insisted that “the authority of the Jewish council be upheld and strengthened under all circumstances”. [31]

Unable to fulfil their welfare function, “they made themselves felt all the more in their implementation of Nazi decrees. With the growth of the destructive function of the Judenräte, many Jewish leaders felt an almost irresistible urge to look like their German masters.” A Nazi observer in Kraków in March 1940 “was struck by the contrast between poverty and filth in the Jewish quarter and the businesslike luxury of the Jewish community headquarters.” In Warsaw, “the Jewish oligarchy took to wearing boots”. [32] In Lódz, Rumkowski had his portrait put on ghetto stamps and currency.

(Hannah) Arendt’s conclusion provoked outrage among the Zionists:

“The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganised and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery, but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people.” [33]

As Steinberg observed, “This argument provoked a general outcry among the Jewish historians of the catastrophe but could not be refuted.” After all, “The Jewish Councils had been created by the Germans for the sole purpose of destroying the Jews …” [34]

SS captain Dieter Wisliceny explained:

“Our system is to exterminate the Jews through the Jews. We concentrate the Jews in the ghettos – through Jews; we deport the Jews – by the Jews; and we gas the Jews – by the Jews.” [35]

 

Selectivity

The Zionists negotiated with the SS to secure facilities to train their pioneers in Europe and then bring them to Palestine. Ehud Avriel noted that “… there is keen competition for patronage of our work among the Nazis.” [36]

“… these Jews from Palestine spoke a language not totally different from that of Eichmann. They had been sent to Europe by the communal settlements in Palestine and they were not interested in rescue operations. That was not their job … They wanted to select ‘suitable material’…” [37]

The ‘rescue activities’ of the Zionist movement were concentrated on saving the elite of their own organisations in Europe. Henry Montor, executive vice-president of the United Jewish Appeal explained:

“By ‘selectivity’ is meant the choice of young men and women who are trained in Europe for productive purposes either in agriculture or industry and who are in other ways trained for life in Palestine … There could be no more deadly ammunition provided to the enemies of Zionism … if Palestine were to be flooded with very old people or with undesirables … Until the resources of Palestine are adequately developed, immigration of 30,000 to 60,000 a year may be possible.” [38]

Selectivity was the explicit policy of the Zionist movement, as Chaim Cohen, attorney general confirmed, when conducting the appeal of Rudolph Kastner:

“If in Kastner’s opinion, rightly or wrongly, he believed that one million Jews were hopelessly doomed, he was allowed not to inform them of their fate; and to concentrate on the saving of the few. He was entitled to make a deal with the Nazis for the saving of a few hundred and entitled not to warn the millions … It has always been our Zionist tradition to select the few out of many in arranging the immigration to Palestine … Are we to be called traitors?” [39]

Lucy Dawidowicz explained:

“The Zionist movement itself set up rigid standards for prospective immigrants, … which to begin with excluded anti-Zionists as applicants for certificates. Young people in good health, with some training for agricultural work or manual trades, and persons with capital were the preferred candidates for Aliyah in a process where the needs and interests of Palestine took precedence over a strategy of rescue.” [40] [9]

 

Transfer agreement used by the Palästina Treuhandstelle (Palestine Trustee Office), established specifically to assist Jews fleeing the Nazi regime to recover some portion of the assets they had been forced to surrender when they fled Nazi Germany.

The truth is far more gruesome than Livingstone claimed. The Haavara Agreement between Nazi Germany and Zionist German Jews was signed on 25 August 1933. It was not a figment of Lenni Brenner’s imagination then or now, as the Zionist pretend and those gullible or opportunist enough to believe them accept or pretend to accept. [10]

What now?

Livingstone’s resignation kicks away a central element on which much on the left pinned their hopes. If expelled for “bringing the party into disrepute” he could have gone to court and easily proved to a judge and jury that he had been really expelled for anti-Semitism and this bogus allegation was, in reality, an expression of outrage by Zionists that he had told the truth about them. It would be an open and shut case. But the stakes were too high for Livingstone to pursue, he is, after all, only a left reformist social democrat, and not such a left one either in later years.

Image result for Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Marc Wadsworth  Jackie Walker  images

We should demand that he withdraw his resignation but if he doesn’t there remain the expelled Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Marc Wadsworth and the soon-to-be-expelled Jackie Walker and others. We must demand that the whole of the left and the trade unions rallies around these comrades. One clear option is the courts and we do not take the ultra-pure stance that we cannot take a workers’ organisation to court. A joint, crowd-funded legal challenge with mass mobilisations would restore at least the leftism of the 1980s where the Attorney General would not oblige the Board of Deputies against Livingstone and the Labour Herald, where the 1982 Labour conference could pass a motion effectively demanding the dissolution of the state of Israel, where the Palestinian flag flew over Dundee Town Hall and Lenni Brenner and new Lenni Brenners can tell the truth about Zionism and defend the Palestinians without fear of expulsions from the Labour party.

Notes

[1] Wikipedia explains, “The Pale of Settlement included all of Belarus, Lithuania and Moldova, much of present-day Ukraine, parts of eastern Latvia, eastern Poland and some parts of western Russia, roughly corresponding to the modern western border of Russia. It extended from the eastern pale, or demarcation line, to the Russian border with the Kingdom of Prussia (later the German Empire) and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Furthermore, it comprised about 20% of the territory of European Russia and largely corresponded to historical lands of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Cossack Hetmanate, and the Ottoman Empire (with Crimean Khanate).” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_of_Settlement

[2] Works of Karl Marx 1844, On The Jewish Question, Written: Autumn 1843; https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/jewish-question/

[3] Asa Winstanley Lobby Watch 12 April 2018,  Jewish Labour Movement worked with Israeli embassy spy, https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/jewish-labour-movement-worked-israeli-embassy-spy

[4] Joely Cohen, Liberal Zionism is dead, 16 May 2018 http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/liberal-zionism-is-dead/

[5] See Gerry Downing, Socialist Fight, 2 April 2018, The Zionism of the AWL is truly disgusting, https://socialistfight.com/2018/04/02/the-zionism-of-the-awl-is-truly-disgusting/

[6] See Dave Rich, The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism and also see Socialist Fight’s website for our reply to this Zionist propaganda piece;  Dave Rich: ‘Anti-Semitism’ Smears Against Left Deconstructed, https://socialistfight.com/2016/11/17/dave-rich-anti-semitism-smears-against-left-deconstructed/

[7] This is the part of Michael Foot’s Speech in the House of Commons on 3 April 1982, after Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands, which destroyed the labour left and which led to the disastrous rise of neo-liberal Thatcherism: “The rights and the circumstances of the people in the Falkland Islands must be uppermost in our minds. There is no question in the Falkland Islands of any colonial dependence or anything of the sort. It is a question of people who wish to be associated with this country and who have built their whole lives on the basis of association with this country. We have a moral duty, a political duty and every other kind of duty to ensure that that is sustained. The people of the Falkland Islands have the absolute right to look to us at this moment of their desperate plight, just as they have looked to us over the past 150 years. They are faced with an act of naked, unqualified aggression, carried out in the most shameful and disreputable circumstances. Any guarantee from this invading force is utterly worthless—as worthless as any of the guarantees that are given by this same Argentine junta to its own people.” https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Michael_Foot

[8] Wikipedia, Sabra and Shatila massacre, The Sabra and Shatila massacre was the killing of between 762 and 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, by a militia close to the Kataeb Party, also called Phalange, a predominantly Christian Lebanese right-wing party in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. From approximately 18:00 on 16 September to 08:00 on 18 September 1982, a widespread massacre was carried out by the militia under the eyes of their Israeli allies. The Phalanges, allies to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), were ordered by the IDF to clear out Sabra and Shatila from Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters, as part of the IDF maneuvering into West Beirut. The IDF received reports of some of the Phalanges atrocities in Sabra and Shatila but failed to stop them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabra_and_Shatila_massacre

[9] Tony Greenstein, Zionism and the Holocaust, (June 2006),https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/mideast/greenstein/zionism2.htmand these are the meticulous scholarly endnotes to Greenstein’s extracted piece:R. Hilberg, The destruction of European Jews, New York 1985, p.75.

  1. L. Brenner, 51 documents, New Jersey 2002, p.274.
  2. I. Trunk, Judenrat: the Jewish councils in eastern Europe under Nazi occupation, New York 1972.
  3. G. Reitlinger, op. cit., p.24.
  4. Ibid., p.299.
  5. R. Hilberg, op. cit., pp.76-77.
  6. Ibid., p.125.
  7. L. Steinberg, op. cit., p.109.
  8. B. Hecht, Perfidy, New York 1961, fn 68, p.261. Hecht’s book shook the Zionist movement to its foundations. The Zionists attacked Hecht for not being a good Zionist (i.e., not keeping quiet!).
  9. E. Avriel, Open the gates, London 1975, p.72.
  10. H. Arendt, op. cit., p.61.
  11. B. Hecht, op. cit., fn 7, p.255.
  12. Ibid., p.195.
  13. Report to the 19th Zionist congress and 4th council of the JA, July 1935; cited in L. Dawidowicz, op. cit., pp.238-39.

[10] Wikipedia, Haavara Agreement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haavara_Agreement

 

16 thoughts on “Socialist Fight statement on the resignation of Ken Livingstone 23-5-18

  1. Chris Barratt says:

    In the article above Socialist Fight favourably quotes the following from Joely Cohen, a student organiser for Jewdents:
    Cohen: “In weeks likes these, when Palestinians loudly demand the right of return, the painful history of the Jewish state is thrust in our faces. As Liberal Zionists begin to gain a better understanding of Israel-Palestine, they are faced with a choice:
    “Either they can support a Jewish and democratic state with all the violence that they understand is necessary to maintain it. Or they can relinquish the need for a Jewish majority in Israel-Palestine and start to imagine a State which is neither Palestinian nor Jewish, but a State which gives citizenship and equal rights to all those who dwell on the land. This State would not need to use violence to prevent refugees from returning home. This State would not be a Jewish nation-state but would embody Jewish values more than the current of State of Israel ever could.”
    (End of Cohen quote)
    Socialist Fight then says: “How inspiring it is to read such political clarity and honesty from a young Jewish woman!” (End of SF quote)
    Treating the fight against Zionism this way is a dreadful mistake. There are two huge problems with the Cohen view: one, it still defends “Israel”; and, two, it is hopeless reformism and pie in the sky nonsense – it isn’t going to happen – which takes you back to problem one: she is still completely defending “Israel” because it is always open to her to declare that Palestinian resistance has “gone too far”, is “too brutally anti-Jewish to be acceptable” or is “anti-Semitic”; or “isn’t democratic” or is “too extremist Islamic” or is “too communist to be acceptable to liberal values”, etc.
    Note that Cohen still describes herself as a Zionist, meaning she still thinks that Jews have an equal right with Palestinians to live on this land; she says “imagine a State which is neither Palestinian nor Jewish…” So Cohen is not some exceptional Jewish revolutionary anti-imperialist, she is a Zionist who wants to be able to say she is a liberal. In other words, it’s a psychological-political perch – and an extremely disruptive and anti-Palestinian Revolution position.
    If she wants to be progressive she has to openly declare that she is for the total destruction of the state of “Israel” and for its replacement by a Palestinian state, in which the ruling Palestinian-Arab revolutionary party and state will decide who can stay in the country, who has what land, and who is expelled (or imprisoned).
    The fascist Jewish occupation of Palestine, backed by warmongering Western imperialism, is going to be torn down in revolutionary violence, and the recent shootings of unarmed Palestinian children and teenagers by aimed sniper fire show that the Zionists are going to take some fearsome clobbering to be driven out or defeated. This epoch-making revolution of sheer heroism and political-military combat is likely to need the backing of the mighty Egyptian proletariat on a huge scale (stirrings against the Sisi bourgeois dictatorship are ongoing – wonderful!) and the CONFLICT is going to be earth-shaking and extremely nasty.
    The “liberal Zionists” who all want to keep the land (especially all the best and largest bits) will all, to a heavily armed man and a heavily armed woman, be killing Palestinians and Arabs with the rest of the Jewish occupiers until they are defeated.
    Favourably quoting Cohen’s soft-soaping bullshit shows a silly side to Socialist Fight – a collapse into sentimental reformist tosh.
    Similarly, with all the defeatist nonsense in the lead paragraph:
    Socialist Fight: “The resignation of Ken Livingstone in the evening of 21 May is a blow to the working class globally and to the left of the Labour party in particular. Internationally his resignation, far from helping the cause of the oppressed Palestinians by “defeating antisemitism in Labour” as some deluded and cynical leftists charge, is a blow to the Palestinians and all oppressed everywhere, including the new mass membership of Labour who are the vanguard to the whole British working class. Their continued leftward development will be seriously hamstrung by this if we fail to defeat this ideological and political onslaught on the left. Matters will now only get worse, having brought down the big beast of the left, the others like Jackie Walker, also falsely charged with antisemitism, will follow rapidly if we fail to turn this around.”
    In-fighting in the totally corrupt bourgeois Labour party and the unsurprising capitulation of a slimy pro-business opportunist like Ken Livingstone “a blow to the working glass globally…a blow to the Palestinians…” Good grief!!! How fatuously, miserably defeatist!
    Not even the shooting dead of their children by the scumbag Zionists is a political “blow” to the Palestinians! They expected it; they knew what the Zionists would do at the “border” with Gaza; and they scored a big worldwide political VICTORY that has really put the cat among the pigeons by bringing the eyes of the world to the conflict and inciting the masses of the world to HATE the Zionists even more than they already did, especially in the Middle East and Islamic world.
    The Sisi Western-backed dictatorship in Egypt is having a crackdown on a well-known blogger, because they don’t know from which direction all the rising unrest might spring from, and helping the Zionists bomb Sinai – disgracing themselves still further.
    Is this what a political blow to the Palestinians looks like? The very thing that the Arab world needs most – the rising of Egypt to help the Palestinians??
    There is plenty more to say about SF claiming that the thousands of people who have gone into Corbyn’s Labour are the “vanguard of the working class” – no, they are not.
    The vanguard of the working class are those members of the class closest to feeling that the whole parliamentary-reformist crooked capitalist system needs to be overthrown, not those who still think the system should be “left” reformed.
    And asking people to support SOCIALIST REVOLUTION is the way to inspire and find them, starting in their ones and twos.
    Marxism insists on telling the truth that only communist revolution can sort things out, by ending the domination over society of the monopoly-capitalist ruling class. Marxism warns people in advance, as early as possible, through its SCIENTIFIC GRASP of Marx’s Capital, Lenin’s Imperialism – the Highest Stage of Capitalism, and all their collected works, that capitalist economic breakdown and inter-imperialist war are taking the world into destructive slump-war mayhem.
    Look at the latest stories about hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Central America because their cities are in the claws of homicidal drug gangs and corrupt officials. What do they need? Socialist revolution.
    They need a party that understands Leninism, and is fighting for the proletarian dictatorship.
    Or what about Italy, now in the hands of populist clowns and right-wing nutcases? What do they need? The same – a party that supports Leninism, and is fighting for the proletarian dictatorship.
    Or what about Greece – which has seen the same confusion, with its Syriza government? The Greek working class needs an unashamed Leninist party of real communist revolution.
    What don’t all these countries, including the UK, need?
    Another bunch of “Marxists” who won’t talk about the need for socialist revolution and a workers state.
    Ditch the ludicrous, defeatist Labour-supporting reformist rubbish; build Leninism. See epsr.org.uk

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  2. As if Lenin never wrote Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder. Rejecting with contempt the young Jewish student because he leftism is not for the smashing of the state of Israel instead of seeing her stance as a gorgeous stance for the Palestinians and against the murderous Zionists, put in a very persuasive and convincing way.

    And rejecting the more that half a million Labour party members as the vanguard of the working class because they are not for the revolution now means you have not understood Lenin’s Left wing communism at all, the emphasis on the United Front, on voting Labour and joining the Labour party if possible etc. What a contemptible old reformist that Lenin was to write such a book castigating as infantile the Bordegists and Sylvia Pankhursts and John McClains.

    If fact why listen to workers at all and attempt to relate together left moving political development? All we need to do is reject tgeir efforts with contempt and install loud speakers at every rally and every workplace pumping out “one solution, revolution” and that will work now although it never workered in the past.

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  3. Chris Barratt says:

    The final paragraph above is all about the Socialist Fight’s leadership’s personal feelings about their bad experience with Gerry Healy’s rotten WRP, and its cod-opera view of a British revolution.
    But surely being a revolutionary means arguing for socialist revolution? Lenin’s arguments are never against this, they are only for better tactics for how to go about this, and to stop ultra-left doctrinaire confusions getting in the way of the political enlightenment of the masses. In other words, Lenin explains the value of using parliament and the hustings, work in reactionary trade unions, shifting alliances, and helping the masses to make useful mass experiences that open up the way to socialist revolution.
    In stating the above Comment, Socialist Fight might be alluding to such passages as this, written by Lenin at the end of the final, Several Conclusions section of “Left-wing communism: An Infantile Disorder” (April-May 1920):
    Lenin: “The Communists must exert every effort to direct the working-class movement and social development in general along the straightest and shortest road to the victory of Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat on a world-wide scale. That is an incontestable truth. But it is enough to take one little step farther — a step that might seem to be in the same direction — and truth turns into error. We have only to say, as the German and British Left Communists do, that we recognise only one road, only the direct road, and that we will not permit tacking, conciliatory manoeuvres, or compromising — and it will be a mistake which may cause, and in part has already caused and is causing, very grave prejudices to communism.
    “Right doctrinairism persisted in recognising only the old forms, and became utterly bankrupt, for it did not notice the new content. Left doctrinairism persists in the unconditional repudiation of certain old forms, failing to see that the new content is forcing its way through all and sundry forms, that it is our duty as Communists to master all forms, to learn how, with the maximum rapidity, to supplement one form with another, to substitute one for another, and to adapt our tactics to any such change that does not come from our class or from our efforts.
    “World revolution has been so powerfully stimulated and accelerated by the horrors, vileness and abominations of the world imperialist war and by the hopelessness of the situation created by it, this revolution is developing in scope and depth with such splendid rapidity, with such a wonderful variety of changing forms, with such an instructive practical refutation of all doctrinairism, that there is every reason to hope for a rapid and complete recovery of the international communist movement from the infantile disorder of “Left-wing” communism.”
    (End of Lenin quote)
    But all the way through the book Lenin explains that his non-doctrinaire tactics are all about beating down the influence of the social-democrats and parliamentarianism, and winning greater power for communist revolutionary ideas in the broad mass of the working class.
    It should also be remembered that this is Lenin assessing tactics for Britain (and the rest of the world) in 1920, when workers had no mass experience with the treacherous social-democracy of the Labour party. There have now been an unlucky 13 Labour governments, always betraying the interests of the working class, and the vote for Labour has, broadly speaking – and correctly, been going down for decades – notwithstanding the “surge” for Corbyn). So the following from earlier in the book by Lenin is illuminating (my emphasis added):
    Lenin: “[…]The fact that most British workers still follow the lead of the British Kerenskys or Scheidemanns and have NOT YET HAD EXPERIENCE of a government composed of these people — an experience which was necessary in Russia and Germany so as to secure the mass transition of the workers to communism — undoubtedly indicates that the British Communists should participate in parliamentary action, that they should, from within parliament, help the masses of the workers see the results of a [Labour party] Henderson and Snowden government in practice, and that they should help the Hendersons and Snowdens defeat the united forces of [Liberal] Lloyd George and [Conservative} Churchill. To act otherwise would mean hampering the cause of the revolution, since revolution is impossible without a change in the views of the majority of the working class, a change brought about by the POLITICAL EXPERIENCE of the masses, never by propaganda alone.”
    (End of Lenin quote)
    Also, showing how these tactics are both for this particular early-Labour-party period in history, and are tactics for defeating the influence of the social democrats, Lenin says:
    Lenin: “The Communist Party should propose the following “compromise” election agreement to the [Labour party] Hendersons and Snowdens: let us jointly fight against the alliance between Lloyd George and the Conservatives; let us share parliamentary seats in proportion to the number of workers’ votes polled for the Labour Party and for the Communist Party (not in elections, but in a special ballot), and let us retain complete freedom of agitation, propaganda and political activity. Of course, without this latter condition, we cannot agree to a bloc, for that would be treachery; the British Communists must demand and get complete freedom to expose the Hendersons and the Snowdens in the same way as (for fifteen years — 1903–17) the Russian Bolsheviks demanded and got it in respect of the Russian Hendersons and Snowdens, i.e., the Mensheviks.” (End of Lenin quote)
    In other words, while not being “left” doctrinaire, Lenin’s tactics still demand the completely independent work of the communist revolutionaries so that they can EXPOSE the rotten lies and treachery of the Labourites, and so that the vanguard and the broad masses can see that the communists stand for socialist revolution, anti-imperialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
    The objective is always the EXPOSURE of the corrupt, pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist politics of the Labourites, so that the road to communist revolution is opened up:
    Lenin: “At present, British Communists very often find it hard even to approach the masses, and even to get a hearing from them. If I come out as a Communist and call upon them to vote for Henderson and against Lloyd George, they will certainly give me a hearing. And I shall be able to explain in a popular manner, not only why the Soviets are better than a parliament and why the dictatorship of the proletariat is better than the dictatorship of Churchill (disguised with the signboard of bourgeois “democracy”), but also that, with my vote, I want to support [Labour leader] Henderson in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man — that the impending establishment of a government of the Hendersons will prove that I am right, will bring the masses over to my side, and will hasten the political death of the Hendersons and the Snowdens just as was the case with their kindred spirits in Russia and Germany.”
    (End of Lenin quote)
    But the passage above again highlights that these Leninist tactics specifically apply to Britain in 1920 BEFORE the masses had experience of a Labour government; and where they still remain completely relevant is that “supporting like a hanged man” (ie lethal support!) could be applied, whenever it is useful to the masses to make an experience that will raise their consciousness by showing how bad some “left” talking social-democrat is. But you have to beware of being way behind the broad masses of the class on this, who by 2018 have made huge historic experiences of the treacherousness of Labour and “left” Labour (including the “young lions” Wilson and Foot, in their day, Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London, Militant in Liverpool, Scargill’s SLP etc).
    This suggests that Socialist Fight is being hamstrung by its insistence that the left-leaning surge into the Labour party for Corbyn represents the “vanguard of the class”, even though it accepts “they are not for revolution”.
    But the approaches to the vanguard and the masses have to be revolutionary, Lenin explains again and again:
    Lenin: “It is far more difficult — and far more precious — to be a revolutionary when the conditions for direct, open, really mass and really revolutionary struggle do not yet exist, to be able to champion the interests of the revolution (by propaganda, agitation and organisation) in non-revolutionary bodies, and quite often in downright reactionary bodies, in a non-revolutionary situation, among the masses who are incapable of immediately appreciating the need for revolutionary methods of action. To be able to seek, find and correctly determine the specific path or the particular turn of events that will lead the masses to the real, decisive and final revolutionary struggle — such is the main objective of communism in Western Europe and in America today.”
    (End of Lenin quote)
    If Socialist Fight was really talking in every article and speech about socialist revolution, the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet power in all its work inside the bourgeois Labour party, then something of the above demand from Lenin would be fulfilled, leaving only (!) the obstacle to genuine revolutionary politics of Socialist Fight’s Trotskyism, which historically has always tended to ally with Cold War anti-communism (and has been no “cure” for the block-headed revisionism making a hash of world revolutionary political leadership in the Stalin-Gorbachev era Soviet Union).
    However, SF’s desperate efforts to stay inside the modern-day stinking Labour party (with Corbyn once again covering up foul fascist colonialism by capitulating to the Zionist lobby over the fraud of “left-wing anti-semitism”) and SF’s cynical sneers at anyone talking about socialist revolution do not help to distinguish SF from every other Trot group that flatters the bourgeois Labour party and social-democratic reformism, rather than working to tear them down as a lying obstacle to revolutionary progress.
    Pretending that working-class prospects rest with the existing Labour party which possibly doesn’t even want to be in power and will be a total fake “left” fraud on workers if it does form a government will always be defeatist. Instead, why not turn out to the class – including existing Labour party members – and talk about socialist revolution and a workers state to them, and see if real revolutionary vanguard workers can be found?
    Better yet, do that turning out but also deepen understanding about the problems with the anti-Soviet Trotskyist tradition of politics, and get consciously more Leninist.
    Build Leninism. See epsr.org.uk

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  4. Ian says:

    Our material clearly does propagandise for socialist revolution. Not only that, it deals at some length with the complex programmatic and theoretical issues posed to Marxists today: Stalinism, bourgeois nationalism in semi-colonial countries and the attitude of Marxists when it comes into conflict with imperialism, Zionism and the Jewish question, the Irish question and the so-called peace process, permanent revolution, social democracy, its nature and limits.

    In order to win people to Marxism, you have to address these questions in depth and debate with others on the left, who are often not simply novices and have ideas which overlap to some extent with Marxism, but at the same time have flaws, inconsistencies and the like which have to be criticised in depth.

    Likewise, there are lots of struggles that require revolutionary leadership. But revolutionary leadership does not consist of shouting ‘revolution now’ at all and sundry. It rather consists of putting forward strategy and tactics that have the potential to drive the struggle forward. We are quite prepared to clash with the consciousness of our target audience and even for bitter conflict, but that is not our objective. Our objective is to provide leadership and actually point out the right direction to people so they can win.

    Regarding LAW for instance. We certainly clashed with the consciousness of those influenced by Bundism and the Draperist CPGB Weekly Worker, but we did not seek conflict with them. We sought unity in action, and to inject our Marxist class analysis of Zionism and the Jewish question into the Labour left.

    Unfortunately these elements, in common with much of social democracy, don’t believe that Marxists have any right to analyse the Jewish question and point out Israel’s bourgeois fifth column in the imperialist countries, but that is because of their capitulation to Jewish chauvinism and the dominant bourgeois ideology which amnesties Jewish racism and chauvinism as some kind of justified reaction to past oppression.

    This is a key strategic question to fight around with this vanguard of the working class, the Labour left writ large, not just LAW. What do EPSR say? Do nothing, effectively. Don’t get involved in the struggles of the Labour left. Throw rocks at them for not being ‘revolutionary’ (whatever that means because the Soviet ‘revisionists’ whom the EPSR half-denounce and half-indulge were no more ‘revolutionary’). And refrain from saying the name of the Zionist state, Israel, lest you be contaminated by sympathy for it.

    This is not a perspective for building a serious organisation. It is posturing and moralising. Comrades should join SF in elaborating the way forward for a serious fight among the vanguard layers of the class that are accessible to us, and abandon this posturing and mixed Stalinist/Healyite catastrophism.

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  5. Chris Barratt says:

    The sneer at the word “catastrophism” is a sneer at talking about the terrible global capitalist economic “over-production” crisis and the world-war direction of imperialist economics and politics, because of that crisis. That looks to me like the very opposite of providing Marxist leadership, which looks to revolutionary perspectives.
    And today’s news is all about the Trump trade war being unleashed on Europe, Canada and Mexico and the devastating effect this could have on jobs around the world – even though the 1930s history of what happened and what this really means is being ignored or downplayed by the capitalist media. I don’t see how it is helpful to the working class to sneer at talking about this.
    The more the crisis and warmongering are highlighted, the more the true Marxist revolutionary solution can be presented.
    The more the crisis and warmongering are downplayed, the more the reformist, revolution-not-needed UNTRUTH is presented.
    I acknowledge that SF carries lots of mentions of world revolution on its website, but they seem to be always made in contradistinction to Lenin’s understanding of fighting to defend the Soviet Union as the first socialist breakthrough, which SF pretends is “Stalin’s theory of socialism in one country”.
    Far from NOT intervening in the left’s grappling with the issue of Zionism and the fraud of “left-wing anti-Semitism”, the EPSR has gone hell for leather in combatting all the misunderstandings – with its papers, its website and its leafletting (and it has done this for decades). In recent months, I have posted many times on Linked-in to 300-plus to 700 contacts on this issue (thanks to SF’s help in my starting off on this); they are hugely Labour party and unionist people.
    As I have said previously, you could treat the issue of ENTRYISM to the Corbyn Labour party as a tactical matter, to some extent. What Marxist value is got out of it will depend on the quality of your Marxism.
    But covering up the foul record of pro-imperialism of the Labour party is a definite no-no. The Labour party needs constantly to be denounced for supporting capitalism, the “war on terror”, supporting US imperialism, the CIA, Nato, British warmongering and arms sales, British spying services, SAS assassinations, anti-union laws, anti-immigrant racism, and not least supporting “Israel”.
    Labour’s history of backing murderous colonialism in Ireland, Malaya, Kenya, Korea, Nigeria, the Middle East etc; helping to run the Cold War; bringing in the NHS and nationalisations post-war, rather than ending capitalism at that point, etc, etc needs to be denounced hard and constantly.
    I keep finding it odd that SF is so ready to show solidarity with stinking Labour party social democracy but is ready to scream abuse at the Soviet Union and refer to the “Red Army” in quote marks, to imply it wasn’t red, and say it raped “2 million German women” (in another recent post on SF).
    That sounds like cynical Cold War rhetoric to me, and not the enthusiastic support that the Soviet army deserved for smashing Nazism.
    Post-Lenin, the Soviet leadership retreated from revolutionary Leninism into defeatist, popular frontist nonsense and made many block-headed mistakes and committed quite a few bureaucratic crimes, it is true. But the Stalin-era to 1986 leadership did not get everything wrong. Socialism was built in the USSR and Eastern Europe; mighty strides were made in military strength, sport, culture, arts, mass education and mass healthcare. Soviet aid went to epoch-making struggles in the Third World – like Vietnam, Korea, Ethiopia, Cuba etc. Sadly, the understanding at the top deteriorated from something close to Marxism to something close to social democracy.
    Parroting Cold War lies about the USSR’s actions and motives is not the way to rebuild Leninism.

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  6. Ian says:

    If Stalin had built socialism in the USSR, then capitalist restoration could never have happened in Russia and the wider USSR. The fact that it has completely refutes the theory that a socialist society can be built in one country, particularly in a backward country, or even several backward countries on a piecemeal, nationalist basis.

    This is because to preclude the possibility of capitalist restoration, socialism MUST be more productive than the most advanced capitalism. Which means that the proletariat of the advanced countries must take power.

    World revolution is not an optional extra, but a material necessity for socialism. Those who repudiated the necessity for world revolution to preserve the USSR, undermined the social gains of the first workers state, which could only be defended by the extension of the revolution to advanced countries.

    The EPSR attack on ‘revisionism’ is virtually meaningless, as this revisionist attack on proletarian internationalism IS the core of Stalinism’s betrayal of Marxism.

    The USSR’s struggle against Nazi Germany was a progressive war, in defence of the social foundations of the revolution. But it was waged by a reactionary nationalist leadership that preferred the ‘patriotic’ Russian Orthodox Church to the banner of Bolshevism to fight the invaders. It even formally dissolved the Comintern to emphasise its nationalism.

    How is it suprising that in this context, even during a progressive war, nationalist crimes were committed? Rape of women in a conquered country is a classic nationalist crime. Revenge – nation against nation, instead of an appeal for class unity along national lines.

    The French Communist leader Thorez, on Germany’s defeat, exclaimed “everybody get a Hun” advocating retaliation against German workers for the crimes of the Nazis. The British CP supported the bombing of Hamburg and Dresden, terrible crimes of British imperialism. The CPUSA supported the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagaski.

    Chris does not deny that the mass rape of German women took place. It is well documented. He just implies that is in some way reprehensible to mention it. But we are opponents of nationalist crimes, and defenders of the rights of women not to be raped.

    This approach is a bit similar to Zionists who say that it is wrong and invidious to mention the ethnic cleansing of Palestine (which was carried out with Soviet-bloc weaponry) because of the terrible things that were done to Jews by anti-Semites in WW2. But ALL nationalist crimes need to be criticised if we are genuine internationalists.

    There is a difference between catastrophism, and dealing with concrete catastrophes. Catastrophism is a blight on the post war left because it provides the illusion that economic and political dynamics alone will lead to revolution. Hence an independent Marxist current is liquidated; the ‘Marxist’ group becomes a pressure group on other forces to do the job instead. Like the Soviet ‘revisionists’ who the EPSR half-condemns, but whose central revisionism they endorse. Without an independent Marxist leadership and party, hostile to all labour bureaucracies, even the ruinous nationalism of Trump will not lead to revolution.

    The EPSRs commentary on the ‘anti-Semitism’ purge in Labour is abstract propaganda, as it has nothing to say in defence of the targets of the witchhunt: Livingstone, Greenstein, Walker, Wadsworth etc. On the grounds that they are all rotten Labourites and no different to the neocon Blairites who are purging them. But if this were true, there would be no need for this purge in the first place.

    In reality, this is abstraction for fear that to say anything concrete would lead to opportunism. But this is inverted opportunism, opportunism in fear of itself. The comrades should break from this method.

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  7. Ian says:

    “The first phase of communism, therefore, cannot yet provide justice and equality; differences, and unjust differences, in wealth will still persist, but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production–the factories, machines, land, etc.–and make them private property.” (https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/ch05.htm)

    The above is Lenin on socialism, i.e. the lower phase of communist society, from State and Revolution published in the Summer of 1917.

    It demonstrates why there was never ‘socialism’ in the USSR, only (under Stalin) a severely degenerated political form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. For Lenin states, following Marx, that under socialism : “it will be impossible to seize the means of production–the factories, machines, land, etc.–and make them private property.”

    But in Russia today, not to mention the rest of the old Soviet bloc, exactly this has happened, and the means of production are now private property of a capitalist oligarchy. Even where formal privatisation has not happened, the state acts as the collective instrument of the same oligarchy. Capitalist relations predominate.

    If Socialism had been built, then this would be ‘impossible’ to use Lenin’s words. There was no ‘socialism’. Only a degenerated workers state that died in 1991.

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  8. Chris Barratt says:

    Even a “severely degenerated political form of the dictatorship of the proletariat” has to be defended from bourgeois counter-revolutionary slanders, physical attack and disparagement in terms of its state forces, mass achievements and for having a leadership, no matter how poor that leadership has become in real revolutionary theory (which should be polemicized with).
    Huge strides in socialist organisation, mass healthcare, mass education, state industry, collective farms, socialist art, science, technology, and industry were made in the USSR, all the way up to 1991. It was still a transitional phase of development, for sure, but the USSR was building socialism, and that was across a large number of heavily developed countries (for decades), and the development could also be taken to include the whole socialist camp and China up to the liquidation of the USSR under Gorbachev – so talking about the problem being one of adhering to “socialism in one country” makes no kind of sense at all.
    The call for “socialism in advanced countries immediately” or if that can’t be managed you are defeated – is pure defeatism.
    And the Soviet state didn’t “die”. Its whole socialist ideology and perspectives were LIQUIDATED by Gorbachevism, which was the logical end-point of Stalin’s retreat from Leninist world revolutionary perspectives, and the idealist buffoon Gorbachev’s embrace of “the wonders of the free market” and belief in bourgeois democracy as a panacea.
    The ending of the party-led dictatorship of the proletariat saw, as Marx predicted, “all the old shit return”. Hence disgusting and cringe-worthy Yelstinism, gangsterism, carpet-bagging capitalist restoration and now Putin strongman posturing and balancing over a stew of poverty, inequality and “have nots” on the one side, and the “haves” of the oligarchs, gangsterism, and “biznez” on the other.
    Things are totally transformed from the old Soviet Union; totally different. And yet the mighty Russian proletariat remains; Putin is riding a tiger.
    This is yet another danger for the Western imperialists – they have to beware of defeating Putin!
    If retrograde Russian nationalism is defeated and humiliated, then Russia has far better traditions to turn to: revolutionary socialism.
    I am currently reading a book of memoirs of a Red Army officer in WW2 who led a “punishment battalion” company in the fight to end Nazism. It is full of truth and real life, and real socialist values; and worth a thousand dubious bourgeois “histories” by such as Antony Beevor, writing lies about what the Red Army did or didn’t do.
    I’ve also read Alexander Werth’s excellent Russia at War. After what they did to Russia, the Germans are lucky they survived at all as a nation.
    It is precisely because the USSR was socialist that far from killing every German they found, East Germany was set up, and Berlin was quickly able to get food supplies going and even beerhalls open again.
    It was only when the British, French and US imperialists found that socialist Germany was looking good and getting on its feet, that they abandoned British plans to destroy all its industry and “green it over”, and the Marshall Plan to glitz up West Germany was instituted.
    War is a terrible thing, for sure. I am still full of enthusiastic support for the USSR’s military victory, destruction of Nazi Germany, and creation of workers states in Eastern Europe.
    As long as SF clings to Trotskyism, it will get the entire spirit of the fight to end capitalism wrong; and remain a long way from Leninism.
    The very STRENGTH and SOUNDNESS of what the Soviet Union was, just shows contradictorially how sickeningly BAD the revisionism of the CPSU became, with a rot started by Stalin as he and his group moved away from Leninist revolutionary materialist dialectics and fell into defeatist pragmatism. This shows how important Leninist revolutionary theory is.
    The idea that once Lenin died everyone in power became a “bad man” is just silly nonsense and cynicism. The Stalin group’s problem was that under huge and horrible imperialist pressure they kept making mistakes and wrong assessments, resulting in bad outcomes, which they then covered up or created further confusion over.
    They were never a new ruling class, or a new ruling caste (impossible!) – these were just Trotsky’s subjective bile poured out because he was kicked out of the leadership.
    But Trotsky, rather than being a “cure” for this and a “great Bolshevik” (he only joined the party 12 weeks before the October Revolution!) started with his infamous decade-long hostility to the Bolshevik party, then there was his stupid undermining of Lenin’s position at Brest-Litovsk, his party-splitting New Course thrust for leadership in 1923, and his other ridiculously vain subjective factionalising in the 1920-30s.
    The Trot tradition subsequently has been one of anti-Soviet anti-communism (just like George Orwell) embracing social democracy.
    So I find it completely contradictory if not absurd that you write above: “Without an independent Marxist leadership and party, hostile to all labour bureaucracies, even the ruinous nationalism of Trump will not lead to revolution.”
    Surely, the EPSR precisely stands for independent Marxist leadership; and the Labour-supporting, entryist SF isn’t doing this?
    Much more discussion is needed about this area; I would say that I first came into politics as a new reader of Alan Thornett’s Socialist (Voice, Action or something) paper, thought it was miserably defeatist, then joined Roy Bull’s Workers Party and read Marx, then read lots of Trotsky (and not much Lenin). We went through a painful period breaking with Trotskyism precisely because you just couldn’t use Trotskyism to defend the Polish workers state. The Trot tradition wanted to tear it down in favour of the Vatican, the CIA and Western petty-bourgeois anti-communism. We just didn’t want to go along with that.
    Trotskyism is just a goatee-beard of historic gloss on Cold War anti-communism.

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  9. Ian says:

    This is substituting subjective idealism for Marxism. For instance, Chris quotes Marx inaccurately and in a way that robs his point of all meaning. The actual quote is :

    ““A development of the productive forces is the absolutely necessary practical premise [of Communism], because without it want is generalized, and with want the struggle for necessities begins again, and that means that all the old crap must revive.”

    This reinforces the point that socialism is not possible without the efforts of the proletariat of the advanced countries. The material prerequisites of socialism did not exist in the USSR, and they cannot be found either in a grouping of backward countries such as the Eastern bloc became with the victory of the peasant Stalinist revolutions in China, Vietnam, Cuba and Yugoslavia. These were all qualitatively at a similar level to Russia and could not break the material isolation of workers state in Russia. It was still at a level of technique qualitatively below that of the advanced capitalist countries.

    The same anti-Marxist idealism has not the slightest inkling that Gorbachevism and indeed Yeltsinism and even Putin are logical consequences of Stalinism. Why? Because Gorbachev represented a later layer of the bureaucracy rhat well understood through long experience that the economy over which it provided was stagnant, and those sections of the bureaucracy that had not gone over lock stock and barrel to counterrevolution were looking for some kind of quick fix to revive it. Gorbachev chose the market.

    But that just opened up the greater can of worms derived from the fact that the bulk of the bureaucracy – the children of Stalinism – had no programmatic commitment to socialism or the working class at all. They just regarded the planned economy, the system of welfare, all the social gains made, as the source of their privileges. As the economy stagnated, the gains they made from it and even more, the gains they anticipated making in the future, became less and less. So they looked for other ways to enrich themselves. Either through selling themselves to the Western capitalists (Yelsin) or when that became too degrading, through the creation of a nationalist Russian capitalism.

    This is all the logical, linear result of the degeneration of the revolution under Stalin. Without a development of the productive forces, which can only come from an international revolution, all the old crap must revive. It did. That is Marxism. According to you, it all came from some kind of evil in the mind of Mikhail Gorbachev that erupted some time in the 1970s or 1980s. That is childish and anti-Marxist in method.

    A ‘severely degenerated form of the dictatorship of the proletariat’ is a degenerated workers state, where the proletariat has lost power to a bureaucratic caste that is somewhat analogous to the petit bourgeois bureaucracy that runs workers organisations in the West. It politically expropriated the working class in its own state, and its rule was the first, preparatory stage of capitalist restoration. Out of that caste, a new oligarchical bourgeois class was bound to crystallise as indeed it did. Refusing to criticise this caste openly before the world proletariat simply meant giving political cover to the layers from which capitalist restoration would emerge.

    As Trotskyists we are quite prepared to work within workers organisations either from a Social democratic or a Stalinist tradition. The key is political independence, not organisational separation. Our criticisms of Corbynism have been very strong, as you have noticed. Our criticisms of Stalinism are equally strong for a reason. We are actually dealing with anti-Marxist politics within the workers movement in both cases. Where to do this is a tactical question, not one of principle.

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  10. Chris Barratt says:

    You say above: “The same anti-Marxist idealism has not the slightest inkling that Gorbachevism and indeed Yeltsinism and even Putin are logical consequences of Stalinism.”
    But I said immediately above: “And the Soviet state didn’t “die”. Its whole socialist ideology and perspectives were LIQUIDATED by Gorbachevism, which was the logical end-point of Stalin’s retreat from Leninist world revolutionary perspectives, and the idealist buffoon Gorbachev’s embrace of “the wonders of the free market” and belief in bourgeois democracy as a panacea.”
    Shouldn’t you try reading a teeny-bit harder?
    The massive trouble with all Trotskyism’s feigned “Marxist materialist” explanations for the problems of Stalinism and the decay from Leninist revolutionary perspectives in the Soviet bureaucratic leadership is that it means you imply that the Soviet workers state “lost” the civil war and War of Intervention even when it was winning it – which is a cynical pro-Western anti-communist defeatist view; that “bad men” can always worm their way to the top, “take over” and ruin revolutions – which is a cynical pro-Western anti-communist defeatist view; and that the Soviet workers state just was not a real workers state – which is a cynical pro-Western anti-communist defeatist view; that Lenin’s admonition to defend and build planned economic socialism in the USSR as brilliantly expressed in 1923’s “Better fewer, but better” is worthless – which is a cynical pro-Western anti-communist defeatist view; and that Lenin’s warning that anyone stating (like Trotsky) that the evils of necessary state bureaucracy could be ended overnight was the talk of charlatans doesn’t count either – which is a cynical pro-Western anti-communist defeatist view.
    The Trotskyist tradition has gone on to SUPPORT all the West’s social-democratic parliamentary frauds, and CHEER ON all the West’s counter-revolutionary schemes against the USSR and the Eastern European socialist states as attempted “political revolutions”: the Nazi rising in East Germany in the 1950s; the attempted Hungarian counter-revolution of 1956; the Czech attempt in 1968; the CIA-Vatican “trade union” Solidarity in the 1980s, etc, etc. Plus say the Tiananmen attempted counter-revolution in China in 1989; etc.
    All these events were swarming with the West’s spy-journalists; CIA money and agents; massively exaggerated Western media attention, often with much “left” talk of “fights for real socialism” etc.
    But when, say, hundreds of thousands were being slaughtered by Western-backed counter-revolution in Indonesia in 1965; or in Guatemala in the 1950s-present day, or in the Philippines, or in Indo-China; or in Africa, the same press mostly turned a blind eye or overtly backed the Nazi slaughter.
    The trouble with the (typical) Trotskyist tradition is that it just doesn’t stand on the right side of the class war.
    Socialist Fight has tried to show some understanding of the fight in Ukraine between anti-Nazi forces and the stinking fascist Kiev government (backed by the West) and the dirty role played by the CIA’s “colour revolutions”.
    Why not apply the same logic to all the anti-Soviet and anti-workers state events of the past?

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  11. Chris Barratt says:

    Also, I need to say again, since SF quotes Marx talking about Communism depending on developing vast productive forces “or all the old crap reviving” that your implication is that any revolution in one country must EITHER win the world revolution immediately or it has to GIVE UP, which is a totally cynical defeatist view.
    Lenin instead sees the victorious proletariat hanging on and defending its workers state and being hugely cautious about waging any war on surrounding imperialism.
    The Stalin leadership, out of theoretical weakness and under imperialist pressure, retreated from Lenin’s world revolutionary understanding (it is true) to “permanent peaceful co-existence” and telling CPs around the world to seek “peaceful roads to socialism” by CLASS-collaborating with bourgeois regimes and social-democratic forces.
    For example, look at CPGB-ML/”Proletarian” even now – effectively backing the Western stooge Sisi military dictatorship in Egypt against any anti-Western risings; cursing the Sinai jihadis; and backing Assad in Syria, rather than urging defeat for imperialism from any quarter.
    The EPSR calls them “museum-Stalinists” because they are so wooden and non-dialectical (and anti-Marxist) that they just can’t apply Lenin’s masterful strategy of seeking defeat for the main counter-revolutionary imperialist forces WITHOUT BACKING the secondary unstable bourgeois enemy of bourgeois-capitalist state forces. The CPGB-ML get so confused that they make themselves a bad joke by effectively supporting lethally dangerous anti-working class forces like the Sisi capitalist military dictatorship or Putin’s unstable strongman Russian nationalism.
    Their own cadres are embarrassed by this, and can’t cope with Lenin’s understanding about the need for a party to openly correct its mistakes – something that is so typical for the revisionist tradition that the EPSR has produced a lengthy book against Lalkar-Proletarian called “Unanswered Polemics” (!!).

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  12. Ian says:

    The formal similarity of our point about Gorbachev’s behavior flowing from Stalin’s politics,and your points on a superficially similar theme, do not absolve you of subjective idealism. Your point is all about ideas; our point is about ideas as a reflection of material reality, the emergence of a bureaucratic caste that politically expropriated the proletariat and provided the seed bed for the counterrevolutionary bourgeois oligarchy to emerge. You reject the entire concept of the bureaucratic caste. But if that is the case, the whole business does become a purely ideological matter not linked to counterposed material interests; that is the basis of subjective idealism.

    The bureaucratic caste emerged as a product of the contradiction caused by the most advanced class in world history taking power in a huge, but enormously backward country, in complete contradistinction to the expectation of the Marxist movement before then. You are straining to deny reality, to deny that this contradiction has any importance. But it obviously does. It is true that the bureaucratic caste came into existence at the time of the civil war, and in a sense the victory of the Bolsheviks in the civil war contained the seeds of future defeats therefore. What is so outrageous about admitting that obvious fact? Are you afraid that if you admit it your commitment to the defence of the gains of workers states, whereever they come into existence, will evaporate? That does not logically follow at all. What causes a loss of revolutionary commitment is an inability to face reality squarely and analyse it according to its own internal logic. That’s what dialectics is by the way.

    Of course the Soviet workers state was a real workers state, albeit a degenerated one where the proletariat had been robbed of political power while for several decades some of the basic social gains of the revolution remained intact. You fear that if you admit these contradictions you would lose what you consider to be your revolutionary commitment. In your words you would ‘give up’.

    And its that fear that leads you to denounce every rebellion against Stalinist rule by the working class, or even sections of the bureaucracy influenced by the working class as simply ‘fascist’. In reality, there was lots of mixed consciousness in many of these events and certainly reactionary elements, but the root of the problem was the political expropriation and resulting powerlessness of the masses within the degenerated workers state and its clones.

    The question of world revolution was never about forcibly sovietising other countries. That is not the strategy of world revolution at all, though it is not entirely ruled out in principle. In fact on that score, Lenin, who was equally committed to world revolution as a Trotsky was, was actually less cautious than Trotsky on one famous occasion. Poland in 1921, after Pilsusdski’s military attack on Soviet Russia, Lenin initiated an attempt to take Poland by force when Pilsudski retreated. Trotsky opposed that, and thought it would fail, though he participated in the attempt. The Polish campaign failed, in part because Stalin failed to follow orders in a crucial part of the war, but much more because the Polish working class was not ready to support a revolution initiated from Russia.

    The difference between Stalinism and Trotskyism is fundamentally about whether it is possible to build socialism in backward countries without the world revolution conquering in advanced countries. To reject that idea is not to give up on defending workers states, but to treat them as fortresses for the world revolution, not self-sufficient organisms in their own right that supposedly can build socialism in conditions of scarcity and backwardness, so all the old crap really will inevitably revive. If you denounce that insight as ‘defeatist’, then are you not really attacking Karl Marx as ‘defeatist’ for saying that you cannot jump over material reality?

    The Stalinist view is that of a bureaucratic caste that for a time considered its own rule to be ‘socialism’ before it began to find it less luctrative and began to look for more benefits for itself in capitalist ‘experiments’. The Trotskyist view is simply orthodox Marxism, the politics of the aspiring vanguard of the world proletariat.

    Your critique of the CPGB-ML over Sisi etc mixes up defence of a semi-colony against imperialism with political support of its leadership. We give no political support to Assad or Putin, but we do defend Syria and Russia from attack by US imperialism. In the very unlikely event of a Western attack on Sisi’s Egypt we would do the same. This has nothing to do with any approval for any of these regimes, it is to do with our principled defence of semi-colonies against the imperialists and their proxies. Our defence of Russia in the Ukraine also flows from that.

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  13. Chris Barratt says:

    I think if you back Western counter-revolution against the Polish workers state, say, on the grounds that there are “some working-class forces involved” or “some real socialists” (Jacek Kuron, anyone?) in it, then you are just trying to find a sly peg to hang your counter-revolutionary hat on.
    The slogan “workers and oppressed countries of the world unite!” is a GLOBAL overview and has definite limitations. It is great if Venezuela, Iran, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, etc have good inter-state relations and co-operate on trade, weapons supply, anti-US Empire activities, etc. But workers and Marxists have to keep bearing in mind the warning from history of the necessity to always keep a wary eye on any capitalist united-front partners, because if they are cunning little anti-communist bourgeois forces (and they all are) they are apt to turn around and cut your throats rather than fight the main imperialist enemy (eg Chiang Kai-shek in China, Suharto in Indonesia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, etc).
    Which is why Lenin’s materialist-dialectics say: “strike together, march separately”. The Marxist-Leninist leader says to the nationalist forces, “How about you go that way and attack the Imperialists from that side, and we go this way and attack from this side…?” But no Marxist should be surprised if the bourgeois-nationalist forces don’t show up for the anti-imperialist fight or appear to be creeping up behind you with bayonets…
    Furthermore, modern-day Stalinists, like the CPGB-ML, and the Trots reject Marxist-Leninist understanding that global-monopoly capitalism is heading for a cataclysmic crisis denouement, reject Lenin’s dialectical strategic methods, and keep supporting bourgeois-capitalist forces, like Sisi, or the Iranian state, or the Labour party, or Putin’s Russia because they have petty-bourgeois illusions in parliament, bourgeois-nationalism, popular frontism, stage-ism, etc and can’t help defending the status quo, rather than recognising CLASS CONFLICT TO THE FINISH.
    Defeat for imperialism is the watchword; urge on any blows against the main enemy – the US Empire. If you had any influence in Syria, for example, urge on the identification of pro-US, pro-Western forces or CIA-backed bandits and work for their break-up and defeat. Be glad when the Assad forces score blows against Western imperialist forces; be pleased when Russian jets bomb pro-Western forces but all WITHOUT EVER supporting Assad, or Russia or ISIS or anything other than genuine Marxist forces.
    The slogan “Defeat for imperialism” also always correctly stresses looking at the inter-imperialist splits (the wags are now calling the G7, the “G6 plus one” (Trump)) and “over-production” economic crisis and the damage they do to the monopoly-capitalist ruling class side. It is crucial to keep focusing workers’ attention on these things because they unify the anti-imperialist cause of the Third World millions to the cause of the millions suffering oppressive slump conditions and war-threats in the metropolitan countries.
    Treating regional conflicts as disconnected episodes doesn’t do that.
    Leninists do not want to deceive the masses. They want them to triumph in proletarian revolution, not get their throats cut by Putin, or Saddam, or the Iranian theocracy.

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  14. Chris Barratt says:

    Sorry, I should have said: Marxists also want to be aware that the “anti-Assad forces” (for example) probably contain many poor people who hate Assad for good reasons and have been confused into getting involved in CIA-created bandit groups.
    So spreading the word that the main US Empire enemy has to be defeated first, before the Syrian proletariat and peasantry can go on to overthrow Assad’s bourgeois-nationalist capitalism is doubly correct. Which also implies that my “glad” in the comment above has to be qualified as being also “sad” that the confusion and disruption caused by vicious Western imperialist interference has come to this.

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  15. Ian says:

    You use the term ‘fascist’ as an all-purpose epithet for any form of right-wing or anti-working class or right-wing politics. But in fact ‘fascism’ is a specific thing with a specific class content. It is a movement of the degraded lumpenproletariat, the ‘reserve army of labour’, and the despairing petit-bourgeoisies of capitalist countries, a tool in the hands of the bourgeoisie, a weapon to suppress and atomise the working class movement.

    If the USSR and the Soviet bloc were ‘socialist’ as you say, that is, having achieved the lower stage of communism, then ‘fascism’ could not exist, as there would be no lumpenised ‘reserve army’ and the entire population would be proletarian, there would be no petit-bourgeoisie. The state would be residual insofar as it existed at all; its purpose would be, as Marx explained, to maintain equality between the associated producers, or ‘bourgeois right’, until even that limitation could be overcome under the later, higher stage of communism.

    In reality there was no ‘socialism’ in the Soviet bloc. There was a bureaucratic caste sitting on top of the bare bones of a socialised economy having politically expropriated the working class from its own state. It repeatedly provoked movements against it from the proletariat, and in some case other more backward classes, such as the Polish peasantry or the kulaks in the USSR in the late 1920s. Obviously where pro-capitalist peasant movements emerged Trotskyists would defend the deformed workers state against them. But it is worth realising that a key part of the social base of the bureaucracy was such petit bourgeois layer,and that the bureaucracy was itself a petit-bourgeois social layer acting as a parasite on the gains of the revolution. This was true both in Russia where the bureaucracy manoevered between the peasantry and the working class, and in countries like China where the peasantry, not the proletariat, brought the bureaucracy to power.

    The proletariat was politically expropriated in its own state, deprived of direct political power. As a result of that there were outbursts of proletarian opposition to the bureaucracy, which exhibited different levels of class consciousness at different times. We are obviously more enthusiastic about the clear pro-socialist consciousness shown by the Hungarian workers in 1956 than the rampant illusions in capitalist ‘democracy’ in Polish Solidarity in the 1980s. But backing the bureaucracy agaisnt the proletariat as supposedly resisting the restoration of capitalism is wrong and in fact self-defeating. As the bureaucracy is a petit bourgeois privileged caste with no necessary attachment to socialised property and an organic tendency to generate a bourgeois mafia from within its ranks, whereas the proletariat, however demoralised it may have been at the end of the 1980s as a result of Stalinism, is the only class with an objective class interest in socialism.

    That is Marxist class analysis of the final decay of Stalinism. Your use of ‘fascism’ is devoid of class content.

    As to the question of defending regimes like Assad’s or others in the semi-colonial world against imperialism, I suspect there is more agreement there. We do indeed ;’march separately, strike together’ with such forces, which means preserving complete political independence from the people we are striking together with. But the ‘strike together’ does nevertheless involve some kind of bloc with those forces, otherwise we would also be striking independently, and separately. Many of our disagreements with others on the left are about just who to strike together with, that is, who to defend against imperialism or in many cases, its proxies. Getting this right is also a crucial test for a Marxist trend today.

    Our overarching perspective is Permanent Revolution, that the oppression of semi-colonial peoples can only be resolved under the dictatorship of the proletariat, which draws other oppressed layers of the population behind it. In fact the ‘backwardness’ of such countries can only be overcome through state aid from the proletariat of advanced countries when they take power; Permanent Revolution therefore does not aim to create a self-sufficient revolution in backward country or countries, but rather to create an international communist movement that also ppints the way to power for the proletariat of advanced countries. But a serious fight over all and every democratic question, including the national rights of the peoples of ‘backward’ countries, is a fundamental part of Permanent Revolution.

    .

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  16. Chris Barratt says:

    If “permanent revolution” means anything at all in a Marxist sense, then it is Marx’s theory, about how progressive revolutions can move fluidly between the bourgeois-democratic and the socialist revolutions, as the balance of class forces permit.
    Trotsky’s version – which dangerously ignored the interests of the peasants – was castigated as “absurdly Left” by Lenin, as follows:
    Lenin: “At the end of 1903, Trotsky was an ardent Menshevik, i.e., he deserted from the Iskrists to the Economists. He said that ‘between the old Iskra and the new lies a gulf’. In 1904-05, he deserted the Mensheviks and occupied a vacillating position, now co-operating with Martynov (the Economist), now proclaiming his absurdly Left ‘permanent revolution’ theory.”
    — V.I. Lenin. Collected Works Vol. 20. (writings 1913-1914) Moscow: Progress Publishers. 1977. p. 346.
    Which takes us on to one key SF argument that “Lenin wasn’t always right.” This is a hopeless form of argument if you want to claim to be “Leninists”.
    The point about being Leninist is to keep using his Collected Works to clarify world revolutionary issues, based on his authority as a Marxist theoretician and as the leader of the Bolshevik party, the Russian Revolution and the Soviet state, in particular at times of factional struggle and in the defence of the USSR during the Civil War and War of Intervention.
    Stating “Lenin wasn’t always right. Lenin wasn’t God…!” to answer an issue where the context is clear and the point clearly made is a middle-class appeal to destroy ALL Leninist science by drowning it in cynicism, bogus logic and anti-Marxist science. It is a deeply cynical stance of saying “Neaaah… Leninism – you can take it or leave it…” It is anti-Lenin.
    What counts is the correct Marxist application of Lenin’s insights and science. When Lenin says that Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” theory is gibberish, as he does above, he means it; and if you defend Trotsky over this, then you are NOT a Leninist.
    The Trotskyist Faulkner states Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” position of 1905-06 this way (and I think this is a fair summary): “To complete and consolidate the victory of democracy over autocracy – to prevent the forces of reaction regrouping to crush the revolution – the proletariat would have to establish a workers’ state. Any such state, being class-based, could not be other than an organ of proletarian interests – supporting workers’ control of the factories, peasant control of the land, and dispossession of the rich. Anything less would compromise the victory for it would leave property and power in the hands of class enemies, and by limiting their gains, would undermine the willingness of the workers and peasants to defend the revolution.” (Faulkner, Chapter 2)
    Lenin’s position in 1905-06 (and all the way to the completion of the February 1917 revolution, which achieved the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry) was that only a class alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry could “complete and consolidate the victory of democracy over autocracy”. To call for a workers’ state in the battle against absolutism, as Trotsky did, was extremely dangerous as it would potentially push the peasantry and the rest of the petty-bourgeois masses towards an alliance with the big bourgeoisie against the proletariat, thereby increasing the likelihood of the revolution ending in bloody defeat.
    Which is precisely why Lenin called Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” theory “absurdly Left”.
    But what is all the effort for to side with Trotsky in this, and claim Lenin “got it wrong”?
    It is to attack Leninist science on the socialist revolution and the role of proletarian dictatorship, and wittingly or unwittingly provide a cover for Western Cold War anti-communism and the bigging-up of “freedom” and “democracy” campaigns.
    As I have said many times, Trotsky and the entire Trotskyist tradition end up supporting anti-Soviet counter-revolution, and far from their claims to stand for the “defence of the USSR” and only advocate “political revolution” it is clear that the hatred for the “Soviet bureaucracy” (meaning hatred like any other middle-class anti-communist anarchist for the Soviet state and its party leadership) is happy for any fascist Tom, Dick or Harry to overthrow the Soviet state or any Eastern European socialist state.
    “Workers democracy” is invoked – just as by the CIA and Western spies, agents and ideologues who wanted to overthrow the Hungarian socialist state, and take it out of the Warsaw Pact in 1956. Here’s a small taste of the class forces involved and the watchwords of “freedom” and “democracy” as sketched out by the Wikipedia entry on the “Hungarian Uprising” of 1956.
    Wikipedia (not a Leninist or Stalinist source!!): The US response was reliant on the CIA to covertly effect change, with both covert agents and Radio Free Europe. However, their Hungarian operations collapsed rapidly and they could not locate any of the weapon caches hidden across Europe, nor be sure to whom they’d send arms. The agency’s main source of information were the newspapers and a State Department employee in Budapest called Geza Katona.[39] By 28 October, on the same night that the new Nagy government came to power, RFE was ramping up its broadcasts — encouraging armed struggle, advising on how to combat tanks and signing off with “Freedom or Death!” — on the orders of Frank Wisner. When Nagy did come to power, CIA director Allen Dulles advised the White House that Cardinal Mindszenty would be a better leader (due to Nagy’s communist past); he had CIA radio broadcasts run propaganda against Nagy, calling him a traitor who’d invited Soviet troops in. Broadcasts continued to broadcast armed response while the CIA mistakenly believed that the Hungarian army was switching sides and the rebels were gaining arms.[124] (Wisner was recorded as having a “nervous breakdown” by William Colby as the uprising was crushed[125])
    Responding to the plea by Nagy at the time of the second massive Soviet intervention on 4 November, the Security Council resolution critical of Soviet actions was vetoed by the Soviet Union; instead resolution 120 was adopted to pass the matter onto the General Assembly. The General Assembly, by a vote of 50 in favour, 8 against and 15 abstentions, called on the Soviet Union to end its Hungarian intervention, but the newly constituted Kádár government rejected UN observers.[126]
    US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was aware of a detailed study of Hungarian resistance that recommended against US military intervention,[127] and of earlier policy discussions within the National Security Council that focused upon encouraging discontent in Soviet satellite nations only by economic policies and political rhetoric.[37][128] In a 1998 interview, Hungarian Ambassador Géza Jeszenszky was critical of Western inaction in 1956, citing the influence of the United Nations at that time and giving the example of UN intervention in Korea from 1950 to 1953.[129] (end of Wikipedia extract).
    Note that Jeszenszky was urging on any amount of bloodshed at the hands of Western intervention, along the lines of the 3 million dead in the Korean war, and that today’s pro-Western, anti-Soviet, anti-communist governments in eastern Europe all want to rehabilitate their Nazi pasts, if they can manage that trick.
    Look at all the other anti-Soviet “uprisings” ie attempted counter-revolutions, and you will observe the same make-up of bogus “workers movements” but very genuine and hugely funded CIA operations and Western media frenzy, including provocative sniper shootings or other provocative violence (eg attempted counter-revolution against the Maduro government in Venezuela and against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua).
    And why be so sloppy and unsupportive of revolutionary breakthroughs against imperialism, even if the leaderships make bad mistakes which need to be politically argued over?
    As I keep pointing out the “bureaucratic caste” Trot description about the nature of the Soviet state leadership is just Trotsky’s subjective bile directed against the Stalin majority leadership which dealt with Trotsky’s rampant factionalising and finally threw him out of the leadership and then (irresponsibly) exiled him. But such rejection and disciplining of renegade leaders is TYPICAL in world revolutionary history. Look at what happened to erring leaders like Commandante Zero in the Sandinistas or the anti-communist rebel leader Matos in Cuba under Castro or Maurice Bishop in Grenada in 1983, where the dangers of a party split being seized on by US imperialism were fully realised.
    Finally, I want to highlight that Marxism and Leninism do need to be rebuilt in the workers movement. The more that it looks as if the museum-Stalinist CPGB-ML is getting a good hearing and gaining young adherents, the more it behoves cadres who know that their block-headed Stalin-worship is a blind alley to improve their critique of Stalin’s retreat from world revolutionary politics into popular-frontist nonsense, compounded by a lack of ability to face up to mistakes.
    Please face up to mistakes, including the ones that have lasted decades. It may be a painful process (it was for me in 1980-82) – but supporting counter-revolution against the workers states is not the way to go and supplies no answers to today’s advanced workers, disgusted by slump conditions and war but also ideologically blindsided by the liquidation of the Soviet socialist camp. They need cadres to start approaching them with genuine revolutionary Leninist leadership.
    Build Leninism. See epsr.org.uk and these debates on the SF website.

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