Identity politics, race and class


16/02/2020 by socialistfight

By Gerry Downing

Confusion has become apparent within the Socialist Fight on the above issue. We take out guide on this from Lenin:

For the secretary of any, say English, trade union always helps the workers to carry on the economic struggle, he helps them to expose factory abuses, explains the injustice of the laws and of measures that hamper the freedom to strike and to picket (i. e., to warn all and sundry that a strike is proceeding at a certain factory), explains the partiality of arbitration court judges who belong to the bourgeois classes, etc., etc. In a word, every trade union secretary conducts and helps to conduct “the economic struggle against the employers and the government”. It cannot be too strongly maintained that this is still not Social-Democracy, that the Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat. [1]

Ian Donovan learned his communalist politics in George Galloway’s Respect. In the Scotsman of 19 May 2003 George wrote he “couldn’t live on three workers’ wages”. He says he “needs £150,000 a year to function properly as a leading figure in a part of the British political system”. Respect was a “united front of a special type” according to John Rees of the SWP. It was nothing of the kind, it was a communalist lash up aimed specifically at the Muslim Association of Great Britain to whom he directly appealed on the basis that he was, like them, opposed to a woman’s right to choose. He was a right to life bigot and so are the MAB. And the reaction of anti-Zionist Jews to this obscene and unprincipled lash up caused Ian to become a communalist antisemite himself, we can now see in retrospect. He explained in a Facebook thread against Sam Trachtenberg:

“It wasn’t just ‘the Zionists’ who abused RESPECT in Britain. It was a lot of (not all) Jewish leftists who claim to be opposed to Zionism. You omit that from your glib dismissal of RESPECT’s experience of racist Jewish behaviour and hence expose your own similarity to those chauvinists, and even at times racist, leftist Jews.”

George fought an open Muslim communalist campaign in the Euro elections of 2004. The flyer said “George Galloway – a fighter for Muslims … married to a Palestinian doctor … teetotal… strong religious principles”.

Eventually the lash up came apart because the SWP foot soldiers were no longer prepared to remain silent on the rights of women, gays and lesbians to maintain it. The SWP then off loaded all the blame on John Rees, who was only doing what the CC had agreed he should and he and Linsey German, his partner, split to form Counterfire. Ian Donovan continued to defend Galloway until he ended up in the arms of Nigel Farage.

I reprint these outrageous remarks by Ian Donovan, defending David Duke and Jim Crow southern vile racism:

From: ‘donovanian’ via SocialistFight <> Date: 22/01/2020  16:23  (GMT+00:00) To: Subject: RE: [socialistfight] Re: Gilad Atzmon dispute now public If you understood why Politcal Zionism is worse than Apartheid and Jim Crow you might gain some insight. Clue: read Moshe Machover on different types of settler colonialism. If you understand that, you might understand why Dershowitz is worse than David Duke. Some forms of colonialism are genocidal. Some are not.

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, ‘donovanian’ via SocialistFight < > wrote:

I was accused somewhere of making an ‘ad hominem’ attack on Gareth by linking his white South African origins to his right-wing views on Zionism. This is not ad hominem at all.

I recall that in 1999 the SWP’s Alex Callinicos attacked Norman Finkelstein as echoing far right views with The Holocaust Industry. An appalling position that somewhat reminds me of some recent criticisms of our statement on the Suleimani murder. I recall that Jack Conrad’s group, to their credit, strongly defended Finkelstein while Toby Abse then Nazi-baited them for doing so.

This right-wing Callinicos attitude prefigures the practice of the SWP under his leadership insisting on having “Friends of Israel” groups marching on their “Stand Up To Racism” marches and strong-arming pro-Palestinian people who protest. It’s a far cry from the much more left-wing days under Rees and German when they hosted Atzmon and SWP members got into punch-ups with the AWL.

Gareth’s recent attacks on Turan about how “weaponisation of the holocaust” is an anti-Semitic trope echoes Callinocos’ denunciation of Finkelstein. And what does Callinicos have in common with Gareth? A white settler background in colonial Africa. This is a characteristic bias.

It doesn’t just happen with settlers in Africa. There is also an instinctive solidarity from other settler populations whose legitimacy is questioned, with Zionism. Trimble and Paisley’s pro-Zionism symbolises this.

So I suspect Gareth’s views reflect cultural bias, as was also true with Callinicos. Given Dov’s baiting of me for ‘white nationalism’ which now looks absurd as all the supporters of Gerry’s statement are white whereas our faction is majority non-white, that is completely untenable, it is completely appropriate to comment on this.

There is a degree of pro-Zionist, white chauvinism being imported into SF by these recruits which is a betrayal of SF’s anti-racist mission. The fact that among SF members, who are over 40% non-white, not one non-white comrade signed your statement is pretty disturbing especially given the ‘white nationalist’ smears coming from some members of your rotten bloc earlier.

From: ‘donovanian’ via SocialistFight <> Date: 22/01/2020  16:23  (GMT+00:00) To: Subject: RE: [socialistfight] Re: Gilad Atzmon dispute now public If you understood why Politcal Zionism is worse than Apartheid and Jim Crow you might gain some insight. Clue: read Moshe Machover on different types of settler colonialism. If you understand that, you might understand why Dershowitz is worse than David Duke. Some forms of colonialism are genocidal. Some are not.

gerdowning <> 22 Jan at 17:09

Political Zionism is worse than Jim Crow? A comforting thought to Ku Klux Klan victims. Adolf Hitler was worse than Mussolini and Franco. How comforting to the victims of fascism in Italy and Spain. 


‘donovanian’ via SocialistFight <> 22 Jan at 18:04

There you show your profound ignorance Gerry. The aim of the Zionists regarding the Palestinians is to eliminate them, not exploit them in the manner of Jim Crow and apartheid South Africa. Those were systems of racist segregation and exploitation, not elimination and extermination.

Zionism is not really comparable with the way the defeated slavocracy treated the freed slaves after the civil war. The KKK was a post-Civil War terrorist organisation whose purpose was to create segregation. In effect apartheid. Not extermination.

A better comparison for Zionism is what the Yankees did to native Americans. That was genocide. As was what was done to native Australians. They want Palestinians to disappear.

That’s why all of our members of Middle Eastern and Asian heritage are opposed to you, Gerry. Your attitude is Euro-centric and Zio-centric. You kid yourself that it is because our non-white comrades are no good at your peril. They understand things you do not understand. And you are heading for a huge fall if you try to witchhunt them. Do some reading of Machover’s writings on Settler Colonialism. Some are in the Weekly Worker archives. Educate yourself.

‘donovanian’ via SocialistFight <>


12 Jan at 23:31

For comrades’ information I forward this excuse for a reply to me to all comrades. It’s from Dov.

I have to say that is is the most pathetic, desperate attempt at a document I have read for many a year. The author seems to be innumerate and incapable of understanding basic arithmetical concepts which an intelligent teenager would have no trouble understanding.

For instance there is the concept of proportionality. He seems to be under the bizarre impression that I believe that Jews are ‘overrepresented’ in the United States. That at 2% of the population, there are too many Jews in the US, and those 2% are too influential and basically, they should get rid of some (or all?) of that 2% to get rid of that ‘influence’.

On the basis of this, he concludes by virtually calling me a fascist. Presumably because I want to get rid of American Jews. But he also denies calling me an “open” anti-Semite “in Socialist Fight”. And he seems to have stopped calling me a sympathiser of white nationalism, an allegation that he pulled right out of his arse. So now he implies that I am a fascist in his conclusion.

I have never read such an embarrassingly feeble distortion anywhere. Everyone who knows anything about my position knows that the central point in my theses is the disproportionate representation of bourgeois Jews in the US ruling class RELATIVE to their small representation among the general population.

For instance, if Jews are only 2% of the population, but 30% of the top 100 richest billionaires are Jewish, that is 15 times overrepresentation.

Not to understand this is a basic schoolboy error and a complete idiocy from which the many other idiocies in his document follow. It justifies treating this useless item with contempt, as both dishonest and extremely slovenly. I will over the next few days rip it to shreds politically.

I have to say, however that in style and content it is sub-Dershowitz. Complete with fascist-baiting in the Dersh style. Pathetic.

Cgs  Ian

Dov’s Reply

After reading carefully Ian’s latest contribution, I came to the conclusion that Ian gives the Zionist influence over American imperialism a dramatic importance. Here is the crux of Ian’s arguments:

“Hence the ‘traditional’ imperialist bourgeoisie, based on the nation-state, having overcome their previous fear of the supposedly proletarian-internationalist role of the Jews as a result of the outcome of WWII, now regards Jewish ‘cosmopolitanism’ and bourgeois semi-internationalism as a good thing, and to a considerable degree defers and follows the leadership of the FF Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie.” (


This is quite amazing. Ian is writing that the American and European imperialist powers follow the lead of the Zionists like little puppies. Ian claims further that the fate and survival of the entire world depend on what happens in Israel:

“There is no ‘Jewish problem’ in the sense that the racist movements of the late 19th and early 20th Century tried to make out. There is however, by means of the activities of the Jewish bourgeoisie, an additional factor of complexity in the relations between the imperialist ruling classes that in its distinctive way, threatens the world with barbarism in a novel and unexpected form. This is why, in many ways, the Israel/Palestine question is presently the most crucial and strategic question of world politics.” (Ibid)

No that’s nonsense. The Black and Tans were compadors and agents of imperialism, simply a reflection of the politics of the bourgeoisie in a colonial country.

If you are a member of an oppressed group in capitalist society you cannot opt out of it by personal choice. Society does not work like that. ‘Race’ has nothing to do with biology, but it is a social category and societies that operate that category do not allow the oppressed to escape oppression.

You cannot choose to change to another ethnic group and to oppress members of your own ethnic group in a social sense. You can only be a functionary of an external oppressor ruling class. 

But the imperialist bourgeoisie does not oppress Jews today. It fact it puts them on a pedestal and encourages them to oppress others. The only Jews it demonizes are those that object to this racism. In fact the bourgeoisie treats racist Jews as anti-racists and anti-racist Jews as racists. The pledge in the Labour leadership contest to have the JLM run the disciplinary process to weed out anti-Zionists, including no doubt Jewish ones, is a perfect example.

That’s the paradox that produces confused phenomena like Atzmonism. Your attitude is at odds with reality and plays along with the witchhunt.

Allegations that members of a privileged group are racist against their own group when they solidarise with an oppressed group have a very nasty connotation. Even if some of their attacks are misguided and reflect an archaic oppression of the currently privileged group.

——– Original message ——–

From: ‘gerdowning’ via SocialistFight <>

Date: 17/01/2020 15:51 (GMT+00:00)


Subject: Re: [socialistfight] Fwd: The petty bourgeois nature of Ian’s views of the Jewish Question and White Nationalism

The accident of your birth does not prevent you from adopting any political position whatsoever.

How you evaluate the relationship between people is a matter of class forces; if you think socialism is idiotic, contrary to human nature and bound to end in a nightmare like Stalin’s USSR then you are right wing. You defend the bosses against the working class internationally. 

If your political sympathies lie with the working class and poor and oppressed internationally then you are a leftist; sincere reformist or revolutionary socialist.  It is not biologically determined or in your DNA. Of course, a Jew can be antisemitic.  Plenty of Irish people supported the Black and Tans back then and British imperialism today. And the same is true of every people. 


——– Original message ——–

From: Turan Basri Date: 17/01/2020 14:57 (GMT+00:00)


Subject: Re: [socialistfight] Fwd: The petty bourgeois nature of Ian’s views of the Jewish Question and White Nationalism

The question people need to ask themselves, is it possible for someone who is Jewish to be antisemitic…. is this not the ‘self hating Jew’ that the Zionists keep going on about?

Regards, Turan

On Fri, Jan 17, 2020 at 10:08 AM ‘gerdowning’ via SocialistFight <> wrote:

Ella’s reference to Anne Frank came from this 2017 incident. Gilad Atzmon’s tweet is clearly antisemitic:

An American website that sells Halloween costumes for children has come under fire for including in its range an outfit of Anne Frank, a German-born Jewish girl who became one of the most prominent victims of the Holocaust thanks to the publication of her diary.

  Frank was betrayed and handed over to the Nazis while hiding in the Netherlands between 1942 and 1944, and her diary became one of the most heavily examined historical sources of the period. The website, which also delivers to Israel, advertized a costume labelled “WW2 Costume for Girls.” However, the URL reads “girls-anne-frank-costume.html” and the costume can also be found by searching for her name on the site

Gilad Atzmon@GiladAtzmon

I am sorted for Halloween night – Anne Frank becomes a Halloween costume on US site,7340,L-5029192,00.html …

4:07 PM – Oct 16, 2017

[1] Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Written between the autumn of 1901 and February 1902, What Is To Be Done?, BURNING QUESTIONS of our MOVEMENT III, Trade-Unionist Politics And Social-Democratic Politics,

7 thoughts on “Identity politics, race and class

  1. Ghost of Sven Gøllÿ says:

    Donovan’s worldview presumes that the Jews are a supernatural bunch, in that they are capable of supernatural levels of coordination which they, in Donovan’s view being fundamentally nefarious, use for nefarious purposes.

    The medieval ideology of the Jews as agents of Satan — and therefore both supernaturally empowered and inherently bent on the destruction of all that is good and on the enslavement of mankind — was recast in the secularising 19th century in the image of the “Jewish banking cabal,” its supernatural power now derived from its allegedly perfect collusion, its allegedly unlimited wealth, and an alleged desire to lead mankind not into literal slavery but to conquer them financially into debt slavery. This “cabal” is still called “satanic” but now with a small “s.”

    Donovan is unwilling to entirely let go of this form of antisemitism, however, although he tries with an avalanche of buzzwords to disguise his rather clear racial enmity toward the Jews as if it were instead a reasoned and reasonable Marxist doctrine. He finds something uniquely pernicious about the Jewish bourgeoisie, and it is — surprise! — inseparable from collective Jewish wealth.

    He parodoxically tries to argue away the idea that the Jewish people are a people while being happy to hang this “financial cabal” sort of racial insult around the collective Jewish neck in the name of his Atzmonist antisemitism. Just as the Nazis (and Gilad Atzmon) find something characteristically Jewish about Bolshevism, so does Donovan find something distinctively Jewish about modern finance.

    Incidentally, as an aside, anyone who asks the question “is it possible for a Jew to be antisemitic?” is at best betraying ignorance of a long and sorry history of exactly that. Faux confusion over the question “can a Jew be antisemitic?” is like faux confusion over the question “why does ‘antisemitic’ mean ‘anti-Jew’ but not ‘anti-Arab’?” — a good indicator that your interlocutor is not being honest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ian says:

    A bit of a contradiction accusing me of being a Muslim-loving Islamophile and a white supremacist, Gerry. Even slander should make some sense.

    This demented rant could easily provide copy for Tendance Coatesy or Shiraz Socialist, or perhaps Harry’s Place. That’s where Gerry seems to be going politically. To pro-Zionist Islamophobia.

    The designation ‘communalist’ for Respect is worthy of Sean Matgamna. Even Jack Conrad’s CPGB noticed its reactionary implications and rejected it. It’s conjures up the idea of an evil brown-skinned Muslim mob threatening ‘civilised’ white people and opposing the West’s ‘humanitarian’ and ‘civilising’ wars on grounds of religious fanaticism. Music to the ears of someone like Tommy Robinson.

    And this from someone who stupidly fails to condemn 9/11. Well I note that George Galloway clearly and rightly condemned 9/11.

    Yes Galloway is a left bureaucrat, and some of his mores reflect that. And he has conservative Catholic/religious views on abortion. However he publicly demanded that Arab states defend Iraq against British and US imperialism and that British soldiers disobey illegal orders. That is why he was expelled from Labour. He was truly an exceptional left bureaucrat.

    I recall that James Connolly, the Irish Marxist who led the Easter Rising, was not an atheist and had a conservative Catholic position on divorce (who knows what he would have said about abortion, but that was before antibiotics).

    That does not affect uniting with such a figure in a struggle to oppose a major imperialist war, which the Labour Party in power was waging.

    His victory in Bethnal Green and Bow against Oona King was a major political blow to the Blairites and as far as I am concerned no socialist worthy of the name should have failed to support it.

    And I certainly did defend Galloway against reactionary attack, even though I was harshly critical of his bloc with Farage. And actually though I don’t support his current project I will still defend him against reactionary attack.

    I consider the Zio-Nazi scum Neil Masterson who attacked Galloway in 2014 for his anti-Zionist views deserved to be physically eliminated by an anti-fascist militia if one had existed. Along with violent white racists like the gang who killed Stephen Lawrence.

    If anything is communalist it’s this anti-Galloway, anti-Muslim rant from Gerry. And all because I said his Israel-supporting friends should not be in Labour.


  3. Ian says:

    As for the obsessive Zionist troll, maybe Gerry should just recruit him. He’s obviously angling for some reward


  4. Lenin did not “condemn terror” because it would mean opening the door for imperialism to exact “retribution” on all those people who fight against imperialism (say Native Indians against Custer’s Seventh Cavalry or the Mufti of Sudan against General Gordon or Al Quaeda vs the Pentagon). All such “condemners” are lining up on the side of imperialism.
    Or look at the tragedies inflicted in London and Manchester terror attacks: the British capitalist media are desperate to get people to show “public solidarity” with British imperialism when these events occur and shed buckets of crocodile tears; but the correct Marxist response is to argue that Third World-inspired and Islamic world-inspired revenge attacks will continue all the time that Western imperialism bombs, blitzes and dominates the neo-colonially exploited peoples of the planet.
    Shame on all those “lefts” who go along with this diversionary filth from imperialism, which simply helps imperialism soap the slope towards WW3, and fails to identify imperialist global “over-production” crisis and tyranny as the cause of all injustice and violence in the world.
    Ways of talking about the Zionist fraud of “left-wing anti-Semitism” will remain confused all the time that a non-dialectical and non-materialist method is used. There is absolutely no need at all to “defend” opportunists who are sometimes “correct” on some issues in some ways; instead, simply explain and reject what is wrong, highlighting the issue where the opportunist, such as Galloway is at issue with the imperialist line, but without supporting the appalling creep or “defending” him.
    Jews are a religious freemasonry, not an ethnic group and not a “nation” with a “right” to turf the Palestinian people out of their land where they’ve been for over 1,500 years; and the Zionist project dooms all Jews to being hated by huge numbers of the planet for being Nazi-colonial conquerers in Palestine and hates those Jews outside of “Israel” for supporting this barbaric fascist tyranny.
    All adult Jews can ditch the Jewish identification with “Israel” as soon as they choose if they are appalled and disgusted by “Israel” – but no significant numbers are doing this. So there is no split between being Jewish and being Zionist (although it is possible to be a Christian Zionist without being Jewish!).
    The vast, vast majority of Jews who claim to be “anti-Zionist” are lying; they may be embarrassed by all the murder, torture and child killing inflicted by “Israel” but they ALL support “sharing the land” of Palestine or “Jewish/Arab socialism” on the land; but, as I’ve said before the only correct position is to reject the entire existence of the “state of Israel” and campaign for the Palestinian revolution, with no claims whatsoever for “fair sharing” or other such concessions to the Zionist-imperialist land grab.
    Global monopoly-capitalist war-crisis will disgrace the entire system in depraved fascist ignomy and drive on the world socialist revolution; the Arab and Palestinian masses are already in the forefront. Zionism is doomed. The sooner Jews go back to being ordinary people, rather than “master-race” overlords the better; in the same way that the Good Friday agreement defeat for British imperialism and Orange colonialism has wiped away the English workers’ anti-Irish race prejudices.
    Defeat for imperialism is key.


  5. Chris Barrett. The first bit of your post is excellent. No civilisation mongering condemning 9/11; the chickens came home to roost. It was the crimes of imperialism in the Middle East that was the cause of that as you explain so well.

    The rejection of a socialist solutions to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the overthrow of tge State of Isreal for a multi ethnic workers state of Palestine whilst not rejecting a secular democratic state is the correct programme. Appeals to working class Jews and oporessed minorities are entirely in order. Do not forget the Jewish women who went to Malta to protest the victimisation of the woman raped by the dozen Zionist youth.

    Finally the notion that the Good Friday Agreement was a defeat for imperialism is jumping mad. The reverse is the case and the big vote for Sinn Fein in the south shows the Irish working class still recognised the armed struggle against British imperialism as progressive; mass outrage at the proposal of the Fine Gael government to honour the Black and Tans on 17 January produced that vote, not the GFA. Although Sinn Fein were obviously ashamed of that and wish to continue honouring the Queen and kow towing to British imperialism.


  6. Ian says:

    Chris, it is perfectly possible to engage in psuedo-left posturing about ‘refusing to condemn’ indefensible acts of terrorism that deliberately target civilians, while at the same time capitulating to imperialist over the things that matter. Gerry is clearly capitulating to the Zionist witchhunt against those who condemn Jewish racism and seems to have now decided that the J word must not be mentioned at all, only the Z word. Yet the purpose of Zionism was always to create a Jewish state. And non-Jewish fellow-travellers of Zionism are not entitled to citizenship of that Jewish state. What he is doing is capitulating to ‘the racism that dare not speak its name’. Yet he desperately seeks his pseudo-left cover by refusing to condemn 9/11.

    He’s not the only opportunist to use such rhetoric as a cover. the SWP also refused to condemn 9/11. That does not stop them being craven opportunists.

    He has problems though. Because he endorsed the statement that I authored condemning the Islamic State atrocity at the Stade de France in Paris in November 2015. Does he now repudiate this condemnation? Does he now refuse to condemn the attacks in Manchester and London I wonder? I doubt it. This is just bullshit posturing, a cheap way to give him a left cover.

    I have a principled position. I oppose deliberate attacks on civilian non-combatants, anywhere. No matter who does it. That is one position I kept from the Spartacist League. It is still my position.

    This involves condemning particular actions that deliberately target civilians. Take for instance the attack on the Pentagon on 11 September 2001. The Pentagon is in a military target. Attacking it would be a defensible act, all other things being equal, though we do not advocate such attacks, they are not our strategy. Attacking it with a plane full of hijacked civilian passengers, however, is a crime against those passengers. who are not class enemies, but ordinary people, ordinary workers.

    We do not necessarily condemn the movements outright that carry out such acts. But we condemn the acts themselves. Your cheerleading for such attacks is classless radicalism. Why? Because some of these groups, many of them, have anti-working class elements in their politics that equate the civilian working class population of imperialist and oppressor nations with the ruling class itself. But these are class societies, not truly democratic and the population in all oppressor states is manipulated to a degree into supporting oppression. That does not mean that the population should be seen as fair game for killing.

    Jews are not a ‘freemasonry’, they are a class phenomenon. The ‘freemasonry’ thing is the most crass empiricism and superficiality. Jews are the remnants of a medieval merchant and financial class, and if they had not played that social and economic role, which marks them even today, they would not have survived from antiquity as a distinct group. There is a rich Marxist body of theory about this that has completely passed the EPSR by, elaborated by Marx himself and subsequently Abram Leon, which my material directly extends. Gerry has now renounced my extensions of Leon, which will logically lead to denouncing Leon’s understanding that the Jews were characterised by being a people-class of merchants and usurers.

    Gerry is however right on the need for winning over part of the Jewish population to a multi-ethnic workers state. No matter how much you express subjective hatred of the crimes of Israel and the settler population that populate that state, your words wont crack it. Only a material force can do that, a working class revolution centred on the Arab population of the entire region. And of course he is right about the Good Friday agreement.


  7. Ghost of Sven Gøllÿ says:

    “the Jews were characterised by being a people-class of merchants and usurers.”

    To Donovan, peoples are peoples, except the Jews, who are instead a people-class. Donovan’s medieval racism, abounding and astounding.


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