17/02/2020 by socialistfight
By Gerry Downing 17 February 2020
I accept the central line of the document below by Alonso from France that sets out my responsibility for the crisis in SF. I also accept his judgment on Ian Donovan’s lurch to the right since 2015:
“As I can see from afar, when you got an agreement with him in 2015 to fight within SF, you put your foot forward enough to make a solid platform for your anti Jew programme and Gerry, who needed militants, did not take enough precautions to avoid that this foot doesn’t signify another and another step into a field no communist could take, your reactionary “Jew-Zionist” extreme right amalgam.”
When the fusion in 2015 only took place, I did not examine too closely the politics of Ian’s Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism in 2014, which I now repudiate.  The second mistake was to accept too easily, again without serious examination, the assurances Ian gave me that Gilad Atzmon was not antisemitic and was indeed only a left wing Jew who defended the Palestinians by denouncing his own ethnicity. I made no political concessions in the interview with Atzmon in January 2018 and I was entirely correct in the first paragraph but no longer agree fully with the ending of the introductory statement to the article:
“I do not agree with Gilad on the question of Jewish identity. it is entirely wrong to equate Jewishness or Jewish cultural identity with Zionism. Zionism is a modern, right wing, racist political construct, that takes some aspects of Jewish history and oppression and uses this to distort and falsify the whole historical materialist basis of that history, as explained so well by Abram Leon in On the Jewish Question.
I do not agree with ostracising him and his co-thinkers from the struggle against Zionism, despite these disagreements. I do not agree he is either racist or anti-Semitic. Gerry Downing.” 
After a far closer examination of his politics I now think he has no place in the struggle against Zionism and can only do damage to the cause of the Palestinians by painting opponents of Zionism as fascists. I now believe he is not only racist and antisemitic but also a left fascist ideologically.
I made the ill-considered concession because I had lost two Trotskyist militants from SF who were politically educated in the history of Marxism but who capitulated to the right wing pressures. I desperate needed someone who understood the history of the Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism, at least to a certain level and so made that alliance with Ian, which I now recognise as opportunist. It is in general impossible for Marxist theoreticians to encounter another that agrees with him or her on every detail; Marx and Engels had differences and so had Lenin and Trotsky, nonetheless the former had close enough agreement to found the science of Marxism and the latter enough to lead the Russian Revolution to victory.
A shock that forced reassessment
In September 2019 I encountered a post forwarded by one Devon Nola which contained the following sentence:
“One of the first new laws created by the Jewish Bolsheviks when they took over Russia was to make “antisemitism” punishable by jail or death. Despite its freedoms, the United States is now following in Russia’s footsteps, with Jews like Chuck Schumer leading the charge.” 
The subsequent defence of this outrageous fascistic post, the notion that the Russian Revolution was a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy and other far rightist positions, many that repeat the propaganda of the White Armies and the Nazis against the Russian Revolution, by Devon Nola and Gilad Atzmon demonstrated to me that they were enemies of Trotskyism and socialism in general.  This shock and subsequent acrimonious debates with Ian and his Trotskyist Faction convinced me that this political current was, in fact, left Strasserite-Mussolini fascists. Ian Donovan and his Trotskyist Faction made it an absolute principle to defend this fascistic current.
Subsequent arguments saw Ian defend Atzmon’s admiration for Ku Klux Klan man David Duke. He wrote to me on Facebook:
“If you understood why Political 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 (Alan) Dershowitz (arch Zionist) is worse than David Duke. Some forms of colonialism are genocidal. Some are not.”
This really is beyond the bounds. South African Apartheid leaders and the Ku Klux Klan are not as bad as the Zionists, so it is ok to ally with them against the Zionists ideologically as Atzmon does in pursuit of his antisemitic and fascistic ideas???
Gilad Atzmon writes on p. 26 et seq. of Being in Time:
“Fascism, I believe, more than any other ideology, deserves our attention, as it was an attempt to integrate Left and Right: the dream and the concrete into a unified political system. … It was “overwhelmingly popular and productive for a while because it managed to bridge the abyss between the ‘fantasy’ and the ‘actual.’” And it is to our detriment that, in the “post-WWII ‘liberal’ intellectual climate, it is politically impossible to examine fascism and ‘National Socialism’ from an impartial theoretical or philosophical perspective… stifling honest examination of National Socialism has left open the question of whether the problems of global capitalism may be alleviated by combining socialism with nationalism (my emphasis).”
Here he declared himself a fascist. As these arguments developed it became clear Ian had developed a full blown ideological outlook in lockstep with Atzmon. And this sprung from his unprincipled and opportunist relationship with George Galloway and his party Respect in the early 2000s. George fought an open Muslim communalist campaign to maintain an unprincipled alliance with the Muslim Association of Britain and the Socialist Workers Party in the Euro elections of 2004. The Respect flyer for the 2004 European and local government elections said “George Galloway – a fighter for Muslims … married to a Palestinian doctor … teetotal… strong religious principles”. What would we say to a political group who described itself as “fighters for Protestants, or for Catholics, of even … for Jews”? That it was reactionary communalist, of course. Ian’s relationship with Galloway lasted even after the SWP was forced to depart following a revolt in the membership against the sexist, anti-abortion anti-women reactionary politics they had to endure in this unprincipled lash up. This caused Ian to turn not only on the Zionists but also on the anti-Zionists left wing Jews who criticised these communalists and condemn them as racists. He revealed in a recent Facebook thread:
“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 (Sam Trachtenberg) 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.”
From this amalgam as we can see he now began to lump all Jews together as racists in the conspiracy identity politics theories he developed. We further say this when he attacked a new SF comrade as “a little white colonial boy”  because he was of South African origins, said he must therefore be a racist and a supporter of Zionism because of his cultural heritage, and this was the same as SWP leader Alex Callinicos, who was born in the then Rhodesia. Likewise, another new member was a ‘Zionist infiltrator’ because she grew up with Jewish children as neighbours and with no attempt at justification accused her of supporting Hilary Clinton (she says she was with Gadhafi from day one) and Jess Philips.
Draft Theses on the Jews rejected
I now repudiate the use of the term “the world ‘Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie’” and the whole notion of a Jewish-Zionist imperialist vanguard as antisemitic tropes. Gilad Atzmon explicitly said:
“We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously…American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy.” “Israel’s behaviour throws some light on the persecution of Jews throughout history.” 
This is vulgar, reactionary, fascistic communalist politics. I will in future use the term “Zionism” alone in describing the political tendency within the Jewish ethnicity that commits such dreadful crimes under international law against the Palestinian citizens of Israel and those expelled Palestinians primarily in 1948, ‘67 and ‘73, all of whom have the right of return.
This in order to distinguish the right wing Israeli government under Netanyahu and its international supporters from all anti-Zionist Jews and Jews who strongly defend the right of the Palestinians under international law. Nor do we now agree that it is appropriate to continually refer to Jews such as Henry Kissinger and Milton Friedman as “overrepresented among the most strident spokespeople for capitalist reaction” without openly recognising that they are doing so primarily as representative of the interests of imperialist capitalism as in the Pinochet coup in Chile against Allende in 1973 and not as any separate Jewish influence or conspiracy.
Although The Jewish Chronicle and The Times of Israel frequently boasts of the wealth and influence of Jewish billionaires and right wing Zionist academics internationally it is completely wrong to conclude from this that these are acting in pursuit of a separate Jewish/Zionist communal conspiracy agenda and not primarily in their own interests and that of global capitalism and imperialism.
A final point. Ian condemned the 9/11 bombers and accused me of refusing to condemn them on the Daily Politics show with Andrew Neil in March 2016.  As Socialist Fight wrote on our blog:
He (Gerry) is proud of the fact that he refused to grovel to Andrew Neil, the Tory man from Paisley, in that interview. The chickens came home to roost for the US over ISIS and the 9/11 bombers. he didn’t advocate military aid to ISIS against any force other than imperialism itself. He never did, or would, support them against the Syrian Arab Army or oppressed minorities like the Kurds, Yazidis, Christians or Alawites. He refused to endorse US bombing them and refused to condemn the 9/11 bombers because Socialist Fight will always identify the USA as the global hegemonic imperialist power and the main enemy of the working class and all oppressed everywhere. They caused the problems in the Middle East that led directly to the rise of ISIS and the 9/11 bombers.
The implicit stance of the two ‘leftists’ and many other pro-imperialist lefts and third campists and ‘civilisation mongerers’, is that the US was doing humanity a favour by bombing ISIS and we should all be in favour of that. He took the only principled stance a revolutionary Trotskyist could take in that interview. 
In conclusion Ian Donovan and his so-called Trotskyist faction no longer belong in a revolutionary socialist Trotskyism group and the task facing Socialist Fight now is how to split our forces in the least damaging way possible, having established we are no completely politically incompatible.
Alonso’s comment from France
I don’t think that Gerry went “off the rails” but he has tried to prevent the whole SF going “off the rails” into the antisemitic extreme right direction which the extension of your Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism would inevitable lead the SF.
The problem is that he has not a majority enough to throw you out. Sometimes there is no other way out of a totally divergent contradiction between two positions.
If things continue to go in the same direction and you keep advancing your own arguments, as you are doing, then he could only expect that you take the lead and bring the whole work of some years in constructing an organization to nothing, or to a position he could not agree with, and of which he holds the direct opposite political positions.
As I can see from afar, when you got an agreement with him in 2015 to fight within SF, you put your foot forward enough to make a solid platform for your anti Jew programme and Gerry, who needed militants, did not take enough precautions to avoid that this foot doesn’t signify another and another step into a field no communist could take, your reactionary “Jew-Zionist” extreme right amalgam
He made a semi-rotten compromise not fully discussing the extent of your ideology and time has passed him the invoice. Then you put the other foot forward and of course, one could only expect further inroads of your J-Z stuff becoming more and more and J stuff.
Formally, he is wrong, but politically he is correct. Well, in that case I take the grain and throw the straw. Is a pity that what I think at least a political orientation went bust. Here in France, there is nothing of the like and almost always I am forced to go to English online sites to find information and political orientation.
All the recent experiences of the French working class point to the urgent need of an own and correct political party but there is none around that could fulfil the need. We are going then directly to a catastrophe here with very much likely a Marine Le Pen government after Macron passed all his counter-reforms even if he has, as he will have, a resounding defeat in the next month’s Municipal election.
I have looked all around (POI, COREP) and sorry, but I cannot agree with them. The only one which I politically agree was SF, but what rest now from SF? Is everything to be re-build from ruins? I know Gerry will continue, but he is old, perhaps not in good health and he should fight now against the background of this split and all what goes with. That means years to a man who is near 70…
We are faced with the strange situation that problems accumulate and the need of a party is so clear but, there is no party. Sometimes I feel that we are at the times of Marx and Engels, two leaders with a rare insight but alone and far from the masses and totally out of touch or influence with the class struggle. Well, of course, I am not speaking of me, also old and sick, but of the rare persons that think still.
What is to be done? Go along with fools and sectarians, with “left”-reformists, give some help to very tiny groups always threatened by “intellectuals”? The problem of humanity it is not only the political direction of the working class but also the incapacity of the real working class to developpe inside it their own working class leaders with a full insight and vision (the complete science of Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism) and get rid of those “intellectual”, lawyers, teachers and all that rabble that has so many times broken their momentum.
The future is gloomy. I am not in the mood of cheating myself with “brilliant perspectives” when all over fascists and nationalists are taking the lead and the “forces” of Marxism are so weak. Gerry and you have not the slightest avenue and, as many, will be carried away by the maelstrom that is so near us.
Well see but a naive “optimism” is absurd. We will continue but it will be more of Don Quixote than otherwise.
 Witch Hunters United: Gerry Downing interviewed by Gilad Atzmon 5 January 2018, https://gilad.online/writings/2018/1/5/witch-hunters-united-gerry-downing-speaks-with-gilad-atzmon
 In Plain Sight, November 5, 2018 Jewish Senator Introduces Law To Imprison Americans For Criticizing Israel
https://ronabbass.wordpress.com/2018/11/05/jewish-senator-introduces-law-to-imprison-americans-for-criticizing-israel/ This post correctly points out the reactionary character of the bill before writing the vile antisemitic paragraph.
 Perhaps he got confused by this: The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Mackem: The Wild Colonial Boy:
“There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Duggan was his name
He was born and raised in Ireland in a place called Castlemaine
“Surrender now Jack Duggan for you see we’re three to one”
“Surrender in the Queen’s high name for you are a plundering son”
Jack drew two pistols from his belt and proudly waved them high
“I’ll fight but not surrender!” said the wild colonial boy.”
 Gilad Atzmon, On Anti-Semitism, originally at his personal web site, December 20, 2003.
 Socialist Fight’s Gerry Downing on the Labour Party, A revolutionary socialist, who has been expelled from the Labour Party, explains his past comments about the Middle East and the 9/11 attacks. Speaking to Andrew Neil, Gerry Downing said he did not support ISIS “militarily or politically” but believed in providing “tactical” support, and was against US bombing. At PMQs, David Cameron condemned Mr Downing’s re-admittance to Labour, and he was expelled a few hours later by the party’s NEC. But the Socialist Fight member told the Daily Politics, he would be appealing against that decision. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-35776331/socialist-fight-s-gerry-downing-on-the-labour-party
On the philosophical origins of Nazism
One of the absolutely amazing puzzles of this crisis in Socialist Fight was
the, at first, inexplicable defence of Nietzsche, Mussolini’s and Hitler’s
favourite philosopher and the excuses made for the Nazi antisemitic philosopher Martin Heidegger and his relationship with the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt.
Ian charged that I was Nazi-baiting everyone I conflicted with on this. I ‘Nazi-baited’ Sabastian Burgen of Historical Materialism because I criticised his softness of Nietzsche, I ‘Nazi-baited’ Tony Greenstein because I criticised his softness on Heidegger and Hannah Arendt and Toby Abse ‘Nazi-baited’ Jack Conrad over his disagreement on Norman Finkelstein.
The light dawned when you realised that the reason these political positions
had to be defended by Ian Donovan, Gilad Atzmon and others was because many Zionists attacked these people as Nazis ideologues and whatever the Zionists attacked must be ok, relatively speaking. Ian saw the whole world in terms of for or against Zionism. If you were against you could be any kind of a Nazi and that was ok. If you agreed with what a Zionist said on any subject whatsoever you were a capitulator to Zionism. I will leave the reader to conclude where lies antisemitism in this.
These are my thoughts on this imporant matter:
There is a traceable line of the development of thought lodged in the philosophical idealist as opposed to the dialectical materialist view of history. The idealist tradition came from God, as the origin of all though, then to Nietzsche, “God is dead” and only the Übermensch can rule and the Untermensch must serve them. And that does ultimately lead to a justification of Nazism, even if that was not the original intention. Elements of the thought of ancient Greece, Plato and Rome, Kant and Hegel which led to the mystical Schopenhauer and thence to the elitist Nietzsche and individualist Wittgenstein and the Nazi Heidegger, the uber Nazi who never abandoned his Nazism and never apologised for his part in promoting and defending the Holocaust.
Of course, elements of ancient Greece, Heraclitus, the 18th century Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, also led to Feuerbach and thence to Marx and Engels and from them to Lenin and Trotsky.
So modern philosophy must explain Heidegger, why this Nazi is regarded as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century by so many liberal intellectuals? Why Jean Paul Sartre and so many other were so strongly influenced by this philosophy of the Übermensch? Why wasn’t Heidegger executed in Nuremburg post war? Why the Jewish liberal Hannah Arendt became his lover after 1923 and post war from 1950. Her piece, Heidegger at 80 is a shocking defence of his philosophy in general. And if it is possible totally to separate his politics, Nazi supremacism, from his philosophy, which is supposedly progressive.
Can human though be bifurcated in this manner? Of course not. The truth is that his philosophy is a defence of capitalism in general against the appalling vista of the socialist revolution as it appeared in Russia in October 1917. In the 1930s Nazism was necessary to prevent socialist revolution in Germany, so it served that purpose. In the 1960s post war it served Sartre, Stalinism and the French philosophers to defend against revolution in France in 1968.
And it served Hannah Arendt to defend Israel ultimately against the Palestinians, albeit now adopted to a liberal democratic form. Still counterrevolutionary but no longer bearing the stigma of Hitler. So ponder the contradictions of liberal men and women forced to rely, like Hannah Arendt, on a Nazi philosopher to defend their privileges against the dreaded socialist revolution.