Liberalism, Racism, ‘Anti-Racism’: Zionist Apologists and Political Evasions19
07/07/2018 by Ian
The following letter was submitted to the Weekly Worker in reply to editor Peter Manson’s long contribution in the WW letters page last week, part of an ongoing debate about racism, anti-racism and Zionism. It was not published. Obviously they have the right to decide what is published in their own publications, but others also have the right to criticise their editorial policy. Previously the CPGB have justified refusing to publish material responding to them by saying that they publish material that promotes their own political agenda.
Every political group has that right. But for Marxists, this is circumscribed by the need, in the words of Leon Trotsky, to “face reality squarely”. Meaning that Marxists have an overwhelming duty to address social and political reality in order to change it. We have the right to refuse to publish incoherent nonsense that adds nothing to the debate and just wastes ink; however if we refuse to publish criticism because it poses questions that we are unable to answer honestly in front of our supporters, that is political evasion and sectarianism, putting the interests of your own grouping before the interests of the movement as a whole. It is a violation of the whole purpose of Marxism.
Serious would-be Marxists and anti-racists will be able to judge which of these things the CPGB is doing.
Peter Manson shows that he has not fully broken with liberalism, and does not fully comprehend racism and the oppression that goes with it, in his response to me in last week’s paper. Uncomfortably aware that what he argues sits uneasily with his aspirations to Marxism, he wriggles evasively around the most difficult of our criticisms.
His overriding thrust is to excuse the racism and chauvinism of privileged groups within the working class and the middle-class sections who orbit around the labour movement, as well as the ruling class itself, and to denigrate those who consistently stand up for the victims of imperialism and racism. When you step back and view what Peter is arguing in perspective, it is that the ruling class is not racist, that supporters of immigration controls in the imperialist countries are not racist either, but that those on the left who challenge this most consistently are the real racists. That might sound harsh, but it is the real logic of his arguments.
Thus Peter says that our statement that the CPGB exhibits a ‘philo-semitic bias in favour of Jews” itself ‘smacks of anti-Semitism’. Peter has a real problem with the sentence he has torn a brief phrase out of here. It reads in full:
“This is a sign of the CPGB’s own racist bias, which exists on various levels of consciousness, a philo-Semitic bias in favour of Jews and the dominant white West Europeans as privileged groups under imperialism, and against non-whites and other oppressed groups.”
He finds this so offensive that, although he published our letter pretty much in full the previous week, he somehow managed to amend the phrase ‘West Europeans’ to ‘east Europeans’ in the version published in the paper, which completely garbled the point being made. This strange error, which was not in the original, had the (intended?) effect of blunting our point about the CPGB’s bias in favour of privileged groups.
When challenged publicly about this, he apologised in an email for the misrendering of our views. But now he mangles them in a different way, obscuring our criticism that the CPGB excuses the racism of privileged groups and reserves the allegation of racism to those for those to their left, who go further in siding with the oppressed than the CPGB have the political courage to do.
Peter’s weird statement that it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to criticise the CPGB’s bias toward privileged white West Europeans and Jews is redolent of the neocon Blairite Denis MacShane who complained that criticisms of his hard-line support for Zionist crimes meant he was somehow a victim of anti-Semitism, even though MacShane is not Jewish. This is a classic Zionist theme; that it is anti-Semitic to criticise racist Jews and their supporters and to treat their racism as equivalent to white supremacism or Nazi anti-Semitism, and Peter has now elaborated his own version of that.
His evasiveness is shown graphically in his opening paragraph when he asserts, without a quotation, that I claimed that the recent Grassroots Black Left walkout from Labour against the Witchhunt was caused by the earlier purge of Socialist Fight from LAW. He must think the readers of WW are pretty dim to swallow this logic-chopping, as my point obviously was that both the purge of Socialist Fight and the subsequent GBL walkout had the same cause: the chauvinism of the CPGB’s central leadership, which is experienced by anyone who works with them. How clearly the GBL comrades understand this I have no idea, but they may have an inkling, despite being like most Corbyn supporters left-reformists, something that Peter incredibly implies is an insult.
As an example of chauvinism, we cite his excuses for Dave Vincent, trade unionist and advocate of draconian immigration controls, who asked: “do indigenous peoples have any rights over those coming into their country or must all be welcomed and accommodated, no matter what the resources available” (https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1159/letters/) Peter says this is not racism, but “national sectionalism”.
This is not a dispute between different groups of workers, i.e. sectionalism, but an assertion of the ‘right’ of one people to exert power over an ‘other’. There is no class politics in it; he sees himself as part of a classless unity of ‘indigenous people’ (a phrase which in the UK context is pregnant with racial innuendo) against other peoples. Whatever he says about ‘bread and butter issues’ and the allegedly inferior trade union consciousness of migrants is subordinate to this; he regards non-‘indigenous’ peoples as an enemy to be denied equal rights on grounds of being non-‘indigenous’. This has racialised overtones. If Peter says this is an example of ‘non-racist’ chauvinism, this is nonsense, there is no such thing.
This is the import of the phrase in an earlier CPGB article that I cited saying “we … unlike some, are not minded to … treat racism as the greatest crime one can ever commit”. Obviously holding a racist view is not literally equal to mass murder (Peter’s autobiographical anecdote about his father overcoming racism, while interesting and moving, is not remotely relevant here). This is about turning a blind eye to backwardness, like the obvious racial overtones of Dave Vincent, quoted above. In that regard, one wonders why the CPGB does not say the same thing about male chauvinism, anti-gay bigotry, or for that matter anti-Semitism (which like the AWL it gives a wider definition to than anti-Jewish racism)?
I wonder what some of its very good, capable and assertive women comrades would say if they adopted this view of male chauvinism, for instance? I suspect there would be an explosion – and rightly so. Whereas when anti-Semitism can be demagogically alleged against people to its left, not only does the CPGB not play it down, but it flagrantly extrapolates from the Zionist methodology of ‘tropes’ to invent non-existent racism replete with even graphics evoking the Nazi holocaust, only to then lamely admit that our comrades do not hate Jews at all! This is not only libel; it is flagrantly incoherent, self-contradictory libel, which would be laughed out of court if it ever came to that.
Likewise his incredibly rose-tinted view of the Commonwealth as supposedly a symbol of post-imperial British ‘anti-racism’ where “we were all equal – British, Nigerians, Indians etc.” He does not seem to be aware of such things as the Commonwealth Immigrants Acts of 1962 and 1968, and the Immigration Act of 1971, which cumulatively and deliberately put an end to the unusual situation when citizens of the “New Commonwealth”: brown South Asians, black Africans and African-Caribbeans – had the rights of British Citizenship, while still making migration from white-dominated Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada relatively easy through racist criteria about ‘descent’. These laws were and are racist in intent, and everyone knows it.
Those rights remained for New Commonwealth immigrants who arrived before 1971, but this Tory government deliberately took them away through the Immigration Act of 2014 by insisting on non-existent documents that were never previously necessary to prove your rights. The Windrush scandal was no accident; it was a deliberate racist act; to pretend otherwise is simply an apologia no matter how many Sajiv Javids get promoted to the cabinet or how much fatuous PR and spin is aired in the media about how ‘anti-racist’ the British state has become. So what if Javid were to become Prime Minister? Obama’s Presidency did not stem the epidemic of police murders of black people in the USA; in fact it took a new movement, Black Lives Matter, independent of Obama’s administration to even begin to challenge this. And this is just the tip of a huge iceberg of discrimination and abuse that Obama was powerless to change.
Peter claims that I ‘admitted’ that support for Israel ‘is in the interests of imperialism’, and thus gives away that he understands neither imperialism nor our position on Israel. ‘Imperialism’ is not some monolith, it is the politics of the imperialist bourgeoisie and full of contradictions, factions and antagonistic trends. It is the highest stage of capitalism, dominated by finance capital. Twice in the last century imperialism has gone to war with itself and torn the world apart.
Our position is that Israel is an imperialist power in its own right, and much stronger than would appear at first glance from its size and population. If it existed purely as a state on its own, speaking ahistorically for a moment to demonstrate this point, it would be on the level of Holland and Belgium, both now minor imperialist powers. Israel is not so minor, however, because there are powerful Zionist factions within the imperialist bourgeoisies of several other imperialist powers, not just the United States but also the UK and other West European states, and the core of these imperialist factions is based on the mainstream ethnic politics of the section of the imperialist bourgeoisie that is of Jewish origin, political Zionism, which regard Israel as their imperialist state, either co-equally with their state of residence, or primarily.
Israel is far too weak to become a global imperialist hegemon, but its aim is to become the dominant regional imperialism within the Middle East, with American and other support, not as a puppet or ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’, but rather as a powerful force in its own right by virtue of its ‘foreign legion’ within the Western imperialist bourgeoisies, particularly that of the US.
There is a Marxist historical materialist tradition, that of Marx, Abram Leon and ourselves, which explains why Jewish strength within the imperialist bourgeoisie is much greater than the proportion of the population that is Jewish, but for the CPGB it is ‘anti-Semitic’ for Marxists to even cite these facts, which are well documented even in the Jewish press, let alone analyse them. Thus liberal guilt trumps historical materialism. Contrary to Peter’s claim at the end of his letter than he is attacking our ‘backwardness’, in fact he is acting as a liberal, placing limits on which facts Marxists are allowed to consider in formulating analyses of the real world.
Finally, it is worthwhile and clarifying that Moshe Machover, in his own response, makes clear his own retrospective support for the Jewish Bund against Lenin. But then asserts that this ‘historical’ difference is of no import today. His rationale is that by setting up specifically Jewish groups in the Labour Party, Jews are simply saying ‘not in our name’ to Israeli claims to speak for all Jews.
If this were all there were to it, it would be just as easy, and more politically effective, for genuinely anti-racist Jewish people, along with non-Jews, to say ‘not in our name’ in non-exclusive, mixed socialist groups, and denounce the idea that Jews, as a people, have some special authority to decide what is or is not ‘anti-Semitic’. After all, Jews are not oppressed today; and in the absence of such oppression, there is nothing for them to exercise such supposed ‘authority’ about. Anti-“Anti-Semitism” has become the fake anti-racism of the hypocritical racist bourgeoisie to justify Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, and for Communists and the working class, it should be the Palestinian masses, not Jewish groups, which exercise such ‘authority’.
But this is not all there is to it, otherwise Moshe would not be saying that such obvious points are ‘reactionary’, and nor would Peter be implying that it is anti-Semitic to criticise these Jews-only groups as wrong in principle. There is a social-imperialist element in this assertion; it is linked to the points I made earlier about the real role of Israel as an imperialist force in the Middle East. Centrism fears above all a sharp break with imperialism, and taking on the Jewish-Zionist imperialist-bourgeois caste requires the sharpest conceivable break with Israeli imperialism for centrists of Israeli origin like Moshe. As well as Shachtmanoid centrists like the CPGB and Peter, who have drunk deeply of the ‘left’ pro-imperialist chauvinism of ideologues like Hal Draper, who supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Since comrade Ian can state all of the above in opposition to all the apologism for Zionism put out by the fake ‘left’ CPGB, why not also see the horrendous error in Socialist Fight accusing the EPSR of “anti-Semitism” and “wanting another Holocaust” because the EPSR asks the question of what is to happen to the 6.6 million Jews living on the best land in occupied Palestine and says that, when the Palestinian-Arab national liberation struggle triumphs, who is permitted to stay will be entirely up to the Palestinians, and that no Jews have any land rights whatsoever? Invoking the Holocaust to defend the “Jewish land rights” of the ethnic-cleansing colonial settlers of this land is very despicable indeed – and exactly what the Zionists do, day in and day out.
The Palestinian and all-Arab struggle to reclaim their stolen lands is intensely political, intensely heroic and intensely connected to the entire epoch-making battle between imperialism and the revolutionary proletariat.
There is layer after layer of lying excuses and special pleading for the “national rights” of Jews and for the defence of “liberal” Jews in America (as expressed by Moshe Machover this week in a letter to the Weekly Worker) and to declare it “anti-Semitic” to lump all Jews together as supporters of the occupation of Palestine and therefore all facing opprobrium from the world’s anti-imperialist masses for their fascist collusion and sympathies with the “state of Israel”.
Moshe Machover’s letter effectively says, never mind all the American Jews’ support for the “state of Israel”, it is “anti-Semitic” not to sympathise with “liberal Jews” and get teary-eyed at the thought that they face as much anti-Zionist political hatred as the USA’s openly right-wing Zionist Jews.
And the underlying object of all this is to block sympathy for the full-scale Palestinian fight to reclaim ALL OF THEIR LAND and DRIVE OUT the invaders. Machover’s position is just a deeper trench defending the overall Jewish occupation of Palestine by defending the Jewish diaspora’s collusion with the occupation.
Marxism certainly wants to pay attention to the SPLITS and FEARS among American Jews that the Nazi-Zionist killings and torture committed in Palestine disgrace them all; but it doesn’t want to FALL FOR all the fake “anti-Zionist” but pro-Jewish “rights” fake ‘left’ lobbying.
Similarly, the right-wing idea is that the massive Pride gay-rights marches in Tel Aviv reverse all sympathy for the Arab cause in favour of middle-class PC-ism.
Don’t you see this, comrade Ian?
You are missing the point. We did not accuse the EPSR of ‘anti-semitism’ or ‘wanting another holocaust’ and we do not think that. We actually accused you of applying the same method towards the Israeli Jewish population in Israel that Stalin used towards the German population of the Third Reich. And you do defend Stalin’s nationalist atrocities, which meant he excused the rape of around 2 million German women by Soviet forces at the end of WWII. Stalin’s outlook echoed that of British imperialism and Bomber Harris with his mass firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg, not to mention that of Roosevelt and Truman with their atom-bombing of Japan in 1945, which the American Communist Party HAILED!.
That is your Stalinist method which we are objecting to. As for ‘land rights’; we are for the nationalisation of all land in a Palestinian workers state and its allocation on the basis of need. That means an enormous quantity of available land will be taken from Jewish private owners and given back to the Arab population. But we are not for driving out the Jewish population per se. Zionism is comparable to Nazism in its barbarism, but we are not for a barbaric revenge against the Jews any more than we were against the Germans. Those who are prepared to live under an Arab majority workers state under soviet democracy will become valuable citizens of such a state.
If you were not so bound up with Stalinist stupidity you would see that our attack on Zionism is Zionism’s Marxist nemesis, or has that potential.You don’t have that internationalist programme; all you have is posturing, raging and Bull-shit (if you will excuse the pun)
And one further important point is that the EPSR shares the CPGB’s accomodation to racist backwardness over the likes of Dave Vincent, except the EPSR is worse. At least the CPGB do oppose immigration controls, even if they opportunistically absolve the supporters of such laws of racism. The EPSR say that opposing immigration controls in principle is ‘idealistic rubbish’ and again, capitulates to backwardness. We do not.
Here is what was said by Socialist Fight in the recent anti-EPSR polemic:
Socialist Fight: “Don [Hoskins, the editor of the EPSR] takes issue with Tony Greenstein because, while he is for the destruction of the state of Israel, he does not want to drive out all the Jews. “so where will they “continue to live”, Don asks rhetorically, “and how and on what?” And that sounds to me and will sound to all Jews as a demand for a new Holocaust.” (end of SF quote)
So, plainly, as stated in my Comment above, the SF is attacking the EPSR as “anti-Semitic” and the SF is defending Jewish “land rights” in occupied Palestine and invoking the Holocaust to do so, just as the Zionists do.
This undoes all the good work that SF has done in taking issue with the fraud of the “left anti-Semitism”, and puts SF into the camp of the defenders of the Jewish occupation of Palestine.
This is foolishness. What something ‘sounds like’ and what it actually is are two different things. If you are so politically incoherent and incompetent that you produce material that sounds like it is calling for a new holocaust that is your doing. It is nothing to do with us.
However, as far as I am concerned our critique of yourselves is of your Stalinism, not anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has been manifest at times among Stalinists, see the Slansky trial, the ‘Doctors Plot’ and the propaganda of the Moczar trend in Poland in the late 1960s. But we do not charge anything like that against the EPSR. We simply note the similarity of your apologetics for Stalin’s nationalist atrocities against Germans and your attitude to the Jewish population of Israel.
Our view on ‘land rights’ was stated by me earlier. We are for nationalisation of all land and allocation according to need. Which means most land currently monopolised by Jews will be at the disposal of the currently disposessed Arab masses.
Our material on the Jewish question and the Middle East stands on its own merits irrespective of what the EPSR think about it. And your polemic is both a defence of backwardness, and posed in a way that is unfortunately a legacy of Healyism. Impotent verbal brutality convinces nobody. You don’t have a coherent position on the Middle East and the Jewish Question, you have a mixture of moralism and empiricism. And your material on immigration in the imperialist countries just accomodates to backwardness.
We simply appeal to you to read our material, and study these questions for yourselves independently if you are so inclined. Some useful pointers to this can be found here
SF says: “We simply note the similarity of your [the EPSR’s] apologetics for Stalin’s nationalist atrocities against Germans and your attitude to the Jewish population of Israel.”
Once the Red Army reached Berlin, the order went out from Stalin for German civilians to be treated properly, with only combatants to be smashed down.
Of course there were many horrible crimes to civilians before that along the way – this was the nastiest, most savage war in human history, and fought against full-scale Nazi extermination plans for the Slavs and Bolsheviks. The Red Army had fought their way through devastated regions of Russia and Byelorussia and there was a strong thirst for revenge.
Nevertheless, as I pointed out in a previous Comment elsewhere, within months of the final defeat of Hitlerism, not only were food supplies getting through to the German population but East Germany and East Berlin in particular were looking so much happier than the West Berlin side that the American and British imperialists had to quickly panic, and bring in Marshall aid to make capitalist Germany look better (the original British plan had been to reduce Germany to a rural backwater).
Having said that, if SF wants to “sound like” it is siding with the Nazis and Western propaganda against the communist Red Army, that is up to you.
Western propaganda? Support for Hitler?
Actually the Stalinist movement which you support did both. During the Stalin-Hitler pact, which was a political pact, Stalin handed over dissident German communists to the Gestapo
Then during the alliance with Churchill and Roosevelt they supported the jailing of opponents of the Western Powers’ imperialist war, including the US Trotskyist leader James Cannon and the British Trotskyist leader Jock Haston. They also supported Western crimes against the German and Japanese people including the terror bombing of Dresden and Hamburg and the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
And incidentally, Stalin also armed the Zionist settlers in 1948.
Virtually every crime the Stalinists lyingly accused the Trotskyist movement of, they were guilty of themselves.
Your response is very weak, and simply the echoing of backward prejudices. Wise up, engage politically, and break with this Stalinst gobbeldegook.
The Jews are not a “population” in occupied Palestine, any more than the Nazi Germans were a “population” of Russia during the Soviet Union’s war against Hitlerism.
The occupying Jews are an armed camp on Palestinian land; they have no legitimate “land rights”. Talk of a “workers state coming in by revolution that distributes land according to need for collective farms, including to the Jews” is a moralising club being used to batter the national-liberation struggle because NO real revolution is “perfect” and because it exactly is a national-liberation struggle, no matter how Leninist its leadership eventually becomes. In victory, the Palestinians may well be very magnanimous – but first comes a very all-out, very heroic and bloody fight against the Nazi Jewish invaders.
Every time SF joins in the hypocritical sob-story that seeks special-pleading Holocaust sympathy for the “land rights” of the Jewish “master-race” – who are waging a truly genocidal war against Palestine’s native people – it condemns itself to the opprobrium of all communists and anti-imperialists; the same with joining in all the Western propaganda that disparages the USSR’s Red Army as, effectively, “worse than the Nazis”.
In this you are being truly “orthodox Trotskyists”, since this was exactly Leon Trotsky’s line in the years before his assassination – that the USSR regime was “different to the fascists, only in that it is more savage” (Trotsky in “Revolution Betrayed”).
Trotskyism and Trotsky are also wrong about the Hitler-Stalin pact; it was smart-thinking diplomacy ie. war by other means (Clausewitz).
At the earlier treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Lenin argued (I paraphrase), “Are we able to fight the German army now? No, we aren’t. We must buy ourselves time until we are ready to fight properly.”
Trotsky grandstanded then, and rather than backing Lenin’s line, did his usual smart-aleck showboating and refused to negotiate properly with the Germans, saying it was “no peace, no war”. The Germans were provoked and attacked, costing the weak Soviet republic even more land and reparations than it would have lost if the original harsh German terms had been accepted.
The Soviet Union did the Hitler-Stalin pact because throughout the 1930s the West would not do a deal with the USSR to ally to crush Hitlerism. In 1939, Stalin sensibly did exactly what Lenin would have done and signed a separate peace with German imperialism, to buy time and build up the USSR’s fortifications and preparedness for a Total War.
As mentioned by me in a previous Comment, the Germans knew only too well the Bolshevik agitation that had gone on in territories ceded to them in 1918-19, and demanded a reining in of activities by Bolshevik sympathisers at the time of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Exactly how much Lenin would have done, compared to how much Stalin did is a moot point – but the context of the West backing a European-wide Nazi onslaught on the Land of October has to be given.
This is just idiot bluster. A group of several million settlers in a small country is not a ‘population’? Its Alice in Wonderland. Words mean whatever I want them to mean. What it isn’t is any kind of strategy. If you have no confidence in the proletariat to overthrow capitalism, all you have is stupid vicarious revenge fantasies. If you’re so keen on nihilistic bloodshed, why not go and try to practice what you preach instead of raving about blood and guts from the safety of the UK?
So you like the Stalin Hitler pact? Why? Because it underlines your hatred of bourgeois democracy. But Stalin murdered revolutionaries to defend bourgeois democracy. There is no difference between handing Heinz Neumann’s widow over to the Gestapo, and murdering Nin, or Trotsky for that matter. If Stalin had been able to get the Gestapo to do those, he would have jumped at the chance.
There is no difference for Stalin between his pact with Hitler and his pact with Churchill and FDR. Or with the Zionists for that matter. The distinction is purely in your head, there is no difference in reality. Its counterrevolutionary consistency.
In the end, it does not matter what you say. The USSR is dead. The people you support destroyed it. And all your nostaligic crap won’t bring it back into existence. What you say really doesn’t matter a damn.
One key difference between the Stalin-Hitler pact and Brest-Litovsk was that at Brest- Litovsk the Russian-Soviet forces were weak because of four years of war. Whereas in 1939 the Soviet forces were weak because Stalin had murdered the Soviet military cadre. If you cannot see the difference between the two it just means you are politically totally deluded. Its a pity, but there we are.
Workers states will be created again. By the revolutionary proletariat. Not pathetic Stalin worshippers and those whose politics flow from cult worship of a debased posthumous caricature of Lenin.
Do the infiltrating and invading fascist-colonialist Jews who stole the land of the Palestinians from under them have land rights, Ian?
If there is no private ownership of land, by definition no one has ‘land rights’. Land is allocated for use based on need. However those who are prepared to live under majority rule have the right to do so. Those who are not so prepared should and no doubt would leave. The proportions of these cannot be determined in advance.
But if you cannot envisage a proletarian revolution in the Middle East, which is just about the only thing that could actually crack Israel open, your fantasies about a bloody driving out of the Jewish population wholesale make a peverse sense.
The most likely result of this ‘strategy’ is that the slow genocide of the Palestinians will become a rapid genocide, as Israel has the military power and the racist ideological drive to do this. It could also nuke its neighbours if they tried to stop this.
It is not your life you are risking with this crap, but those you are purporting to lead. So why are you sitting in the comfort of the UK while advocating a bloodbath?
Surely the “Right to Return” demos of the Palestinians of Gaza, which saw the Zionists murder hundreds and maim thousands, were all about telling the world that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, and not the 6.6 million Jews who have stolen their country?
Ian’s description above of a “perfect” “socialist” revolution and “collective farm land distribution programme for all, Jews and Arabs alike” is a complete insult to the Palestinian intifada heroism and tells the Palestinians that they must NOT strive for national liberation at all but must go immediately to “perfect” socialism.
But the Palestinian revolution is not led by Leninism, and even if it was it would still be a national liberation struggle.
And what is the point for the Jewish fascist “master race” in “sharing the land fairly”? Do you think they are something other than colonial land-grabbers? Do you think some of them are “working class”? You are kidding.
Do you think the amount of bloodshed will be diminished one iota if the Palestinians were to tell the fascist, utterly anti-communist Jewish colonialists that the revolutionary plan was for them to join in collective farms with their Arab brothers?
Scaring the revolution into retreat with how much damage the Jews could do with their nuclear weapons, racist ideology and Masada-complex fantasies is the job of the Zionists, so it is very dubious to make that your argument against Palestinian national liberation.
You could apply that argument, as the revisionists do, to the entire planetary class struggle: “Given the overwhelming nuclear firepower of US imperialism, isn’t a peace struggle the sole thing that can or should be done to avoid provoking them?” It is the philosophical advocation of total slavery – and when applied to the Palestinian struggle completely misses that the entire Arab world, including the seething Egyptian people, will sooner or later join this struggle.
As I said earlier, this is a very intense international political revolutionary-war struggle – but the Palestinians will NEVER stop trying to reclaim all their land – whatever anyone says and however much bloodshed; and I for one want to help them and not hinder them in their NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE.
Once they win, it will be entirely up to the Palestinian revolution to decide who gets what land, and how the land ownership is organised – family, corporate, state or collective. The pattern of history suggests that the revolution will be magnanimous and mature, and that the role of Jews who haven’t left (or been killed in the fight) will be considered.
But to insist NOW that the rump of the 6.6 million Jews living on Palestinian land (and the best bits, with the best water) have to be accommodated “or else!” suggests a capitulation to Western and Zionist propaganda in keeping with SF’s screams of “new Holocaust planned!!” at the EPSR’s polemics on this issue.
Capitulation to Zionism? It was the Stalinist movement, which you defend, that armed the Haganah which carried out the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in the first place. Perhaps when you go to Palestine to urge people on to the mass slaughter you envisage you can also explain to them what a master tactician Stalin was and how his arming of the Naqba really was in the interest of socialism.
No we don’t see permanent revolution in the Middle East in terms of Stalin’s collective farms. Your sneering at ‘pure’ revolutions etc is sneering at revolution itself. Not surprising as the movement you support murdered communists. But only a proletarian revolution in the wider Middle East can crack the coherence of Israel. The very concept is alien to you.
I love the way you dismiss the destructive capacity of the Israeli state to kill millions of Arabs. No big deal say the EPSR. Well we think Zionist barbarism is a big deal, that’s why we brand the people who helped it to power as criminals against the working class. Your kind just regard the masses as a stage army, pawns whose killers can be armed one year, and who can be flattered and lured into a massacre the next.
Its just idiotic to even imply that we do not fully support the March of Return because we dont endorse the EPSR’s homicidal fantasies. Nor do most of the marchers. They want equality, not a bloodbath.
The EPSR has a long-standing record of criticising the Stalinist revisionists and Stalin personally for the USSR’s initial support for the Jewish colonisation of Palestine, done because they deceived themselves into the idealist thinking that the Zionist promise of “Jewish socialism and kibbutzes” in Palestine were to be believed, and that the “settlers” would be “anti-imperialist” because the Zionists had to carve out their “homeland” against the direct colonial interests of British imperialism.
The Soviet leadership did see the error of this thinking later on and in global terms sided with Arab national liberation, without ever returning to Leninist understanding.
Your paraphrasing to extinction of the philosophical and Marxist points I correctly made above about what revisionist thinking says about “not provoking” imperialist carnage versus what Leninism says about the masses’ heroism in titanic and epoch-making struggles just speaks to your ignorance of the basics of Marxism.
SF and all Trotskyism says that the Soviet leadership were “criminals against the working class”. But it was the “Stalinists” who won in Vietnam against imperialism; who won victory in half of Korea; who won in the Chinese revolution; and who helped win the defeat of apartheid in South Africa; who won in Cuba, etc.
The politics of these various movements could certainly do with being argued with to be more Leninist but branding them all inheritors of a “criminal, murderous” tradition doesn’t do anything but show Trotskyism is on the WRONG SIDE in the global anti-imperialist class war.
If you really believe that Stalin and his bureaucratic gang had illusions in the ‘socialist’ potential of Kibbutzim and other such things you are childishly naive. Perhaps he also had illusions in the ‘socialist’ potential of Hitler’s ‘National Socialist’ Party in Germany, as an explanation as to why the Stalin-Hitler pact took place?. Anyone who put such a proposition would have to be out of their mind; the reason for these pacts was cynical realpolitik, not such child-like illusions.
The reason for the Stalinist shift to Zionism was quite simple: they wanted a popular front with a pro-Zionist trend in the US ruling class that were perceived as being more interested in ensuring Israel was successfully launched as a state, than waging Cold War against the USSR at the time. This was personified in a splinter bourgeois candidate and former VP to Roosevelt, Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party who not only made overtures to the USSR, but also repeatedly attacked President Harry Truman for his slowness and reticence toward the Zionist cause. Wallace chimed in with the nascent Israel lobby at the time when the British were desperately maneuvering to try to get American help to take over their so-called mandate and stabilise the situation for more conventional imperialist control, something the Truman administration proved unable and unwilling to do, not least because of the effectiveness of the Zionist lobby in the US even at this time.
Stalin’s bloc with Zionism was similar to his bloc with British and French imperialism in Spain; its purpose was the defence of Soviet diplomatic interests at the expense of the working class and the oppressed. The Spanish working class were defeated and their leaders murdered in Spain to defend bourgeois democracy as demanded by the French and the British, so that they would supposedly help with the ‘defence of the USSR’.
The same with the Wallace trend. For their own reasons, they wanted to cool the Cold War to lessen the impact of a likely other ‘cold war’ between the US and the Arab ruling classes if the US openly helped Israel into existence. This fitted Stalin’s ‘socialism in one country’ like a glove, and the Palestinians were shafted just like the Spanish workers were in the 1930s. That is the nature of Stalinism, the disgusting opportunism that ultimately led to the destruction of the USSR, as the Trotskyists warned it would.
The treatment of workers and the oppressed as pawns for the interests of the Soviet bureaucracy is the whole method of Stalinism. They can quite easily turn from being armed supporters of Ben Gurion to being advocates of driving the Jews into the sea. Just as they can, and did, turn on a sixpence from being cheerleaders for ‘peace’ with Hitler and denouncing Churchill etc as warmongers prior to 1941, to putting out propaganda denouncing workers for defending their interests against Churchill as ‘Hitler’s Agents’ after Hitler predictably attacked the USSR, when it was weak due to Stalin’s killing of the military cadre.
The common denominator is class treason, siding with the class enemy against the oppressed. Calling them ‘revisionists’ is a bit like calling Jack the Ripper a ‘naughty boy’. It doesn’t quite get to the root of the problem. This is counterrevolution on the international level, though it took the bureaucracy a few more decades to bring the counterrevolution home to the USSR itself. All the bullshit venom against ‘anti-Soviet Trotskyism’ is just drivel from those trained by the bureaucracy to be its apologists.
The funny thing that an earlier right-wing pro-Stalinist split from Trotskyism, the Marcyite ‘Global Class War’ tendency that later split from the US SWP, first crystallised as supporters of Henry Wallace. They are now the Workers World Party, staunchly anti-Zionist and though marred by popular frontism, subjectively not that bad in some ways. Politically they have some elements in common with the EPSR though they lack the elements of catastrophism that the EPSR learned from Gerry Healy. To their credit, they were probably the first left trend to organise an actual demonstration against the Vietnam War, as early as 1963. But no doubt they would find it slightly embarassing that their origins were in the Wallace campaign, which involved an opportunist pro-Zionist capitulation by Stalin himself, aided very publicly by a youngish Gromyko.
Its an irony, just as its an irony that much of the ERSR’s crazed catastrophist rhetoric comes from Gerry Healy, not the Stalinists. The Marcyites are living proof of that.
May/June’s SF magazine (no 27) said: “Editorial: US Trade War against China + War against Russia = WWIII”.
One of your best ever articles, broadly correct and a good warning to the world.
In what way would World War 3 not be a “catastrophe”?
Of course WWIII would be a catastrophe, and it is a real danger in this epoch. This is the epoch of imperialism, of wars, revolutions,and counterrevolutions, and the choice between socialism and barbarism facing humanity.It looks pretty dangerous right now. Stating this is not catastrophism.
Catastrophism is the practice of hyping up imminent catastrophe as a deus ex-machina that points to imminent revolution as a process in itself, forgetting that catastrophes do not only lead to revolutions, but also to counterrevolutions. It also frequently involves simply ignoring specific economic and political conjunctures where large scale class struggles are not immediately possible, and substituting for lack of concrete understanding of what specifically is happening by demagogically evoking the spectre of some imminent crisis as a device to try to avert demoralisation in badly-led would-be Marxist sects.
Just shouting ‘one solution, revolution’, or standing up making rabid and incomprehensible speeches denouncing a given audience for not being ‘revolutionary’ enough is not a strategy for revolution. It is however the strategy of the EPSR, which Roy Bull learned not from from the Soviet bureaucracy (they only used that kind of demagogy occasionally, and were usually quite conservative) but from Gerry Healy.
This kind of nonsense was meat and drink to the Healyites and evidently the EPSR picked up this very bad habit from them, and never broke with it despite their embrace of much of Stalinist ideology in the 1980s. They junked what Trotskyism they found in the WRP, but kept this element of Healyism.
This was my point about the Marcyites, who were a comparable pro-Stalinist split from the main American Trotskyist group, the SWP in the 1950s. Immediately after the Second World War the SWP published its ‘Theses on the American Revolution’ which was catastrophist in its content (and no doubt inspired Healy), but they did not incorporate this into their normal practice, and thus their people, including the Marcyites who later split from them, were not infected with this irrational method. So the Marcy group to this day share much with the EPSR, but not the bizarre catastrophism.
At bottom, revolutionary ranting builds nothing. You have to carefully and painstakingly analyse developments in the real world, and formulate tactics to address broader layers with varying levels of consciousness in order to hasten their political development toward Marxism and revolution. Revolutionary phrase-mongering driven by a false belief that catastrophe is always just round the corner, and automatically leads to revolution, is a bankrupt strategy.
I think your above Comment is just blather to cover up for SF’s support for reformism in practice by campaigning for “left” Labourism, as with such anti-Marxist comments as declaring social-democracy in the form of pro-Corbyn Labourites to be “the vanguard of the working class” (when they should be declared the “people still deluded by social democracy”) and hatred for the EPSR’s campaigning for Leninist revolution.
And, I should have added, I really don’t see how you get people closer to Marxism and revolution, by AVOIDING talking about Marxism and revolution.
As you have admitted, and as is obvious from our material, we attempt to address all manner of strategic and tactical questions of Marxism and revolution in depth. Your additional demand for denunciation of reformism in every speech is just sectarian froth.
Your dismissal of the approximately 400,000 leftists who have joined Labour since Corbyn’s election in 2015 as ‘deluded by social democracy’ and not any kind of ‘vanguard’ is Healy-like idiot sect politics at its worst. “Only the Workers Revolutionary Party” was an absurd mantra when the WRP had thousands of members. From a group of two its even more absurd. We just appeal to you to start thinking politically and do some serious reading and examination of your own history.