ConDems, Popular Fronts, Straw Men and Fascism

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31/05/2021 by socialistfight

The tail wags the dog – poor old David Cameron was a victim of those evil Zionists who control the Tories and now the Labour party, Ian claims in this demented rant.

What’s in a name? – Popular Frontism!

Ian Donovan’s faction has adopted a new name, the Consistent Democrats (ConDems) which they assure us is in the tradition of Lenin and not Joe Biden. Or indeed Joe Stalin. As we pointed out in Popular Front vs United Front; the errors of the LCFI and the grosser errors of Ian Donovan:

“And defending the ‘democratic republic’ is what Ian Donovan does, as the LCFI correctly point out:

“The British comrades are in favour of a military bloc with the Democrats and invoke the institutions of the imperialist state machinery against Trumpism, making a false analogy between Spain in 1936 and the United States in 2021, since in both situations there is a fascist attack on a bourgeois parliamentary regime in an imperialist country.”

But if Donovan takes the Stalinist line here in Spain 1936 the LCFI adopts the Anarchist/POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification) line of a popular front to defend, not a bourgeois parliament but, “proletarian democracy”.

“However, this is a false analogy because it minimizes the fact that in Spain, in opposition to Franco’s fascist imperialist side, there was a popular front, the main component of which is a mass party of the working class, its trade unions and its trade union centres. Therefore, what threatened the Franco regime was proletarian democracy and not just a bourgeois parliament. Defending proletarian democracy against a fascist coup has nothing to do with defending imperialist “democracy” against a fascist coup.” [1]

Ian’s demand that the true US Democrats should have shot down the January 6, Capitol Hill mob was not an example of a popular front with the Democrats but a transitional demand which was reasonable in the circumstances, we are urged to concede. Strangely this demand never occurred to Trotsky in the early 1930s in Germany. He demanded a united front between the working class parties, the Communist party and the Social Democracy. And the Social Democrats appointed the heads of police in Berlin, for example. No, he was absolutely convinced that only the organised working class could defeat fascism, not the forces of the liberal, consistent or inconsistent democrats of the capitalist state itself. Some in the US have correctly been demanding a general strike to counter the growing threat of fascism. Pity Ian Donovan wasn’t there to set Trotsky straight on these matters.

Ian’s Draft

Ian Donovan has obviously drafted the LCFI Statement on the departure of the Downing faction of Socialist Fight (Britain) of February last. It quickly establishes its view that Zionism is the force that controls the entire planet, in particular the imperialist countries themselves. On May 3, 2020, Ian posted an article, No Vote to Zionist New Labour [2] in which he correctly explains why and how Starmer became leader of Labour but makes no defence of the headline which counterposes, “an Internationalist Working-Class Party” to Labour but nowhere explains why revolutionaries should not vote Labour in local and general elections. Does he mean that the Labour party is no longer a bourgeois-workers party? If it is a Zionist New Labour party then it obviously has ceased to be a bourgeois workers party but such a conclusion is not defended. Back in late 2016, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour, the FRFI/RCG produced an article by Robert Clough Bourgeois Labour Party: no change (!!) with Corbyn at the top [4]  in which the contradictions of union affiliations and working class voters and the United Front of Lenin and the Bolsheviks (not to mention Trotsky, who is an anathema to the RCG) are all swept away in the ultra-left infantile nonsense from a third period /third world Stalinist group.

Ian starts as he means to go on. Right at the start we get, “within this right wing, the fraction that carried on the attack was the Great Britain Zionist Bourgeoisie Against Labourism, using the SF as a target, this fraction even used Prime Minister David Cameron himself, who attacked Comrade Gerry Downing in 2016 directly.” (our emphasis). So now you see the Zionists were using Cameron as their puppet and it was not Cameron using the Zionists – the tail was wagging the dog. This is Ian’s general theme – Israel controls the imperialists in Britain and Europe in particular via their “overrepresentation” in finance capital and forces them to do its bidding, often against their own imperialist interests. When Biden vetoed the three resolutions to the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza bombing in May 2021, which the other 14 members of that body supported, Israel was manipulating its unfortunate victim Biden who was not acting in his own best imperialist interests at all, we must believe.

A very happy Joe Stalin could ally with fascists in August 23 1939 and be a popoular front ally with the ‘democratic imperialists’ before and after, whenever it suited him. There is no absolute contradiction between these two positions as Ian Donovan claims.

Ian’s method: The Straw Men Keep Coming

Further on we get:

“Such is the tone and content of the Downing faction statement, that it comes across as irrational and utterly self-contradictory. It appears to try to prove, at one and the same time, that the British comrades are both sympathetic to fascism (!) and at the same time opportunist leftists seeking a popular front with the liberal bourgeoisie against fascism (our emphasis).”

Note the italicised words, “appears to try to prove”. This is Ian’s method, drawing unproven and unwarranted conclusions, then accepting them as fact and going on to demolish the straw men he has created himself. I will point out these instances as they arise.

Well Joe Stalin managed these, “irrational and utterly self-contradictory” positions at many points of his career, constantly swinging between them from 1924 onward. Identifying the German Social Democrats (SPD) and fascism as twin pillars of the capitalist state following the Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, then identifying them as “social fascists” and the main enemy in the Third Period from 1928 to 1934 and frequently allying with the fascists against them. Then, when the disastrous consequences of this approach led to the victory of Hitler on January 30, 1933, initially adopting the policy ‘after the Nazis us’ – no problem here, in other words, ‘the voters will realise their mistake and vote for us’. When the German communists (KPD) ended in the concentration camps within a few short months, again seeking a popular front alliance with western imperialism. When they proved unreliable allies in the Spanish civil war of 1936-39 by forming the infamous Stalin-Hitler pact of August 23, 1939-to June 22, 1941, abandoning the Jews in Germany to their fate. After the Nazis invaded in Operation Barbarossa, with the assistance of the war materials supplied to them by Stalin, again reverting to his popular front with his former ‘democratic imperialists’, the US, Britain. And he again began to supply the French resistance, whom he had cut off from all political and military assistance whilst his alliance with Hitler operated.

Ian: Expel all who support the state of Israel from Labour

Now we come to the Socialist Fight rejection of Ian’s position of expelling all Zionists, defined as those who support the existence of the state of Israel, from the Labour party.  We would emphasise that we are for the expulsion of the pro-Zionists organisations from Labour, the Jewish Labour Movement, the Labour Friends of Israel etc. But we are not for the expulsion of individuals who support the state of Israel from the Labour party. And we are addressing international Jewry here (obviously the US and other Jews should be also expelled from all Labor movement bodies on Ian’s proposition), not just Israeli Jews.

This is the formulation that Ian attacks:

  “There are Zionists who are fascists, and we will no-platform them like we will attempt to do to all fascists. But we will never equate racists in general with fascist racists. We distinguish between the racism of the oppressor and the racism of the oppressed, we distinguish between the fascist Zionism of the oppressor and the racist, apartheid or liberal Zionism of the oppressed, many of whom genuinely fear the return of the Holocaust and so support the state of Israel.” ([Ian’s] emphasis added) ibid

And here again the sleight of hand is wielded. Because Ian deliberately postulated the false conclusion that we are referring to the Israeli Jews only, and, having ‘proved’ this by assertion, he then goes on to claim we are defending the Zionist state of Israel. Then comes the “in other words” we are only opposed to outright fascists Zionists, which we never claimed, and the “in effect” we are defining Zionism as a form of nationalism. And the straw men keep coming now. “If Zionists Jews are not an oppressor people” – note, not the majority of Israeli Jews but all Jews are the “people”. And note the “Zionism of the oppressed” which “can only be a reference to Israeli Jews” he claims. No, it is not. And then the outrageous “Justifying again the unjustifiable Gerry created the category of the “poor and oppressed Zionist-racist-liberal-defender-of-apartheid”. He has gone off into the upper atmosphere here with false claims and ridiculous assertions here.

In the Full Fact website on September 26, 2018, on Jews in Britain we get:

“In Britain, the majority of Jews support the state of Israel.  A 2015 survey found about 3 in 5 British Jews identify as Zionists, though the term isn’t clearly defined. 9 in 10 British Jews support the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. There’s debate over what the terms “Zionist” and “Zionism” mean, but broadly speaking Zionism is associated with the support for the existence of Israel as a state for the Jewish people.” [3]

So, 30% of British Jews support the state of Israel but do not regard themselves as Zionists. I know some of these and I certainly are not for expelling them from the Labour party or any other workers’ organisation internationally unless they are members of an explicitly Zionist group working for the state of Israel. And of the remaining 60% many of these are appalled at the actions of Israel against the Palestinians and are not hard right Zionists. But they really do fear another Holocaust and see the state of Israel as their safe refuge. I have a neighbour of over 30 years who lost her family in the Holocaust and who supports the state of Israel for this reason. [4]

And what of the Jews in the US, the younger ones in particular? This from the Rolling Stone website by Marisa Kabas:

“Samantha Cyrulnik-Dercher, a 32-year-old civil rights advocate in Washington, D.C., recently had one of these difficult conversations with her Jewish family, which she called “really scary and also really liberating.” The granddaughter of three Holocaust survivors said, “Two weeks ago if you’d asked me if you could interview me for this piece I would have said no, I don’t really know enough to talk about something so complicated. So just the fact that I feel empowered to speak about this at all is a very big change in a very short time.”

“While many of us have felt isolated in our views, by speaking out, we’re finding solidarity. Over the past 15 years, the anti-occupation Jewish left in America has been growing, with organizations like IfNotNow and JStreet leading the charge. But because the conflict has so often been boiled down to a binary — you either support Israel or you support its destruction — for many of us it felt like a betrayal to even consider the other side. Even now with strength in numbers, there is still a genuine fear of using words and phrases like apartheid and ethnic cleansing, even if they’re applicable. There is an instinct to retreat.

“Libby Lenkinski, a Brooklyn-based veteran in the progressive American-Israeli activism space and vice president for public engagement at the New Israel Fund, sees the emergence of a new perspective on Israel as young American Jews reinterpreting what it means to live a Jewish life, and cautions older Jews not to mischaracterize changing opinions on Israel as a rejection of our values: “This may not be the engagement you dreamed of, but they haven’t turned away, they just turned in a different direction”.” [5]

And Pew Research Centre on May 11 2021 say the following about US Jews’ attitude to Israel:

“Eight-in-ten U.S. Jews say caring about Israel is an essential or important part of what being Jewish means to them. Nearly six-in-ten say they personally feel an emotional attachment to Israel, and a similar share say they follow news about the Jewish state at least somewhat closely.

At the same time, the survey – conducted during the final 14 months of the Trump administration – shows a wide range of views among U.S. Jews about the Israeli government, including some pockets of strong criticism. Fewer than half of U.S. Jews give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “excellent” or “good” ratings for his leadership. And just one-in-three say they think the Israeli government is making a sincere effort toward achieving peace with the Palestinians. (Fewer still, just 12%, say they think Palestinian leaders are sincere in these efforts.) [6]

But no, Ian wants my friend expelled from the Labour party because, “since they have no actual oppressors, the ‘fears’ of the ‘return of the Holocaust’ by Zionist Jews which comrade Downing uses to justify their support for Israel, is a paranoid racist fantasy similar to the fantasies about ‘white genocide’ that white nationalists use to justify racist repression against non-whites (our emphasis).”

This is the most outrageous blatant antisemitic attack on these Jews which we denounce with the contempt it deserves. And who would do the expelling, on whom is this demand placed? Certainly not Keir Starmer and even previously Jeremy Corbyn, although it might have had more purchase on him. Your only possible allies in this endeavour are the far right and actual fascists.

The IHRA: Rotten Blocs and More Straw Men

He alleges Gerry Downing came “under enormous social pressure from long-time associates and family members and capitulated to it (Zionism)”. I have Jewish friends and comrades; my daughter is not a follower of Hilary Clinton” another wild false assertion without link or reference made by Ian. Have you got any Jewish friends left, Ian? I thought not!

Ian then goes on the ‘prove’, to his own satisfaction, and to that of his deluded followers with more straw men, that:

“The definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ comrade Downing uses here is not the one in standard dictionaries, such as the Oxford English one (“Hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people”).” Of course, no need to prove or provide a link to show this. And then from the unproven allegation to the straw man: “It is clear from this (!!) that Gerry is edging closer and closer to the definition, or rather the accompanying examples, put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) (our emphasis)”. This is a straightforward lie.

Ian seeks to prove that our alliance with the Jewish comrade in the USA, Dov Winter, is a ‘rotten bloc’ because we have differences over whether and in what way China is imperialist. China has many features of an imperialist power, the size of its economy, its growing military capabilities, and its foreign ventures not just in its immediate periphery but in Africa and Latin American. Where we differ is whether this can be termed imperialist in the Marxist sense, we do agree that President Xi seeks to develop China as an imperialist power to rival the US, but has it got there yet? That debate is ongoing.

“…it turned out that his capitulation to Zionism and imperialism (including the accession of a member who accuses China of being imperialist) was not a point outside the curve, but a consolidated trend of breaking with Marxism and the anti-imperialist struggle of the oppressed peoples … What also casts doubt on comrade Downing’s commitment to consistent anti-imperialism is the fact that the only experienced cadre has still has in his camp, … Today, when he is comrade Downing’s vocal public supporter the rotten bloc is starkly visible … breaking with Marxism and the anti-imperialist struggle of the oppressed peoples.”

Leaving aside the ‘rotten bloc’ between Ian’s outright Stalinist version of the popular front and the conflicting Latin American LCFI Anarchist/POUM version of the same thing their claim that we have abandoned opposition to imperialism is indeed ridiculous. This from a group that has produced close to zero material on the class struggle in Britain and nothing as far as we can see in defence of the Irish Republicans POWs or Ireland’s right to self-determination, apart from passing references. These two things are very intricately linked for all serious revolutionary socialists as Lenin pointed out in his speech to the Second Congress of the Communist International in July 1920:

“The comrades have emphasised that the labour aristocracy is stronger in Britain than in any other country. That is true. After all, the labour aristocracy has existed in Britain, not for decades but for centuries. The British bourgeoisie, which has had far more experience—democratic experience—than that of any other country, has been able to buy workers over and to create among them a sizable stratum, greater than in any other country, but one that is not so great compared with the masses of the workers. This stratum is thoroughly imbued with bourgeois prejudices and pursues a definitely bourgeois reformist policy. In Ireland, for instance, there are two hundred thousand British soldiers who are applying ferocious terror methods to suppress the Irish. The British Socialists are not conducting any revolutionary propaganda among these soldiers, though our resolutions clearly state that we can accept into the Communist International only those British parties that conduct genuinely revolutionary propaganda among the British workers and soldiers. I emphasise that we have heard no objections to this either here or in the commissions.” [7]

Gilad Atzmon enjoying the company of the Alt Right in New York. His warm relationship with the KKK Grand Wizard David Duke is notorious.

Gilad Atzmon’s “confused” and “erratic views”

But the best of the piece is his defence of Gilad Atzmon who has “erratic views”  and who is “a confused but interesting Israeli exiled writer and musician who has long been a hate figure of Zionists and the left-wing elements most reconciled with Zionism” and “Like many of the most alienated anti-Zionist elements in and from the Middle East, Atzmon has confused views on WWII and is soft on the ‘enemy’ fascist-led imperialism to the US-led Allies,  which is obviously very wrong and capitulates to an imperialist faction.”

Whoa, stop right there. What is he soft on?  Why “the ‘enemy’ fascist-led imperialism to the US-led Allies”. Mustn’t identify “the imperialist faction” as Nazism lest poor Gilad gets insulted by the truth. That is the most diplomatic description we have ever heard of the Hitler-led Nazi German regime whose aggression led to the 11 to 13 million dead in the Holocaust and upwards of 85 million dead in WWII. Let us recall that Atzmon thinks the Russian Revolution was a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy, that Stalin was right against Trotsky, and presumable right to have him assassinated, because Stalin had come to recognise the real enemy – the Jews, of course, of whom Trotsky was one. Atzmon wrote “… 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 elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy”.

Atzmon is not “soft” on fascism as Ian Donovan pleads so obsequiously but an explicit supporter of it. This damning quote is sanitised because Dave Rich quoted it and as he is a Zionist that makes his “Hitler was right” statement simply distorted and confused and not really support at all:

“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 … And it is to our detriment that, in the post-World War II ‘liberal’ intellectual climate, it is politically impossible to examine fascism and ‘national socialism’ from an impartial theoretical or philosophical perspectivestifling 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 (our emphasis).” (Atzmon, Being in Time p. 26)

Defend the Heritage of the Russian Revolution

Gerry Downing has spent the best part of a decade conflicting with leading members of the CPGB/Weekly Worker over the meaning, reasons for and political method of the Russian Revolution. Mike McNair, Jack Conrad and Ben Lewis have championed the neo-Kautskyite ideology, emphasising ‘democracy’ over the Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat, refusing to recognise that the Soviets/Workers Councils were the only alternative to the bourgeois de3mocracy of the capitalist system and falsely claiming he only went wrong in 1911 and 1914.  Lars T Lih, Paul Le Blanc, Eric Blanc and others supplement this third campist opposition to Trotskyism, the revolutionary Marxism of the today, whilst often conflicting with each other. Their refusal to recognise the internationalist perspectives of Lenin, Trotsky, and the Bolsheviks in 1917 also rejects the internationalism of the class consciousness of the working class everywhere, via its class conscious vanguard. A victory for the class anywhere is a victory everywhere, a defeat is a global defeat. That is the political significance of the Russian revolution, hostile to socialism in a single country, to historically separated stages in revolutions and to all exclusively national explanations for victories and defeats.

Lih even proposes that Kautsky, the bitterest of opponents of the Russian Revolution, was in fact its ‘architect, See his Karl Kautsky as Architect of the October Revolution. [8] It was Atzmon’s championing of the position that the Russian Revolution was a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy that first alerted me to his reactionary, communalist, anti-internationalist politics and set me examining them in detail.

Ian Donovan became a full member of the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB in January 2004 and departed in September of the same year. Sean Matgamna’s pro-Zionist Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) reported in late 2004 on the recent departures from the CPGB/WW:

“Ian Donovan, a former member of the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB/WW, and a co-thinker, Andy Hannah, have published statements explaining their recent decision to leave the CPGB as a response to the “political agenda” of Manny Neira – who recently left the CPGB in the opposite political direction – “unity – on the ideological rapprochement – with the social-imperialist, Zionist AWL. Unfortunately, the CPGB leadership is too confusionist and has drunk too deeply from the Shachtman-Draper well to put up any real fight against this”. [9]

As far as we are aware he never developed his argument to a coherent critique of the CPGB’s neo-Kautskyite position on the Russian revolution. His opposition to the CPGB’s attempted fusion with the AWL at the time began his career to the anti-Zionism which morphed into anti-Semitism. And neither did he assist in any significant way in the decade long struggle we waged in the annual Communist Universities and in the letter pages of Weekly Worker, even when a supporter of the Socialist Fight Group.

Ian: Zionism worse than KKK man David Duke

Ian defends Atzmon’s admiration for the Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard 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 Moshé 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.”

Ah, but you see you cannot believe a word from Alan Dershowitz because he is “a close associate of Donald Trump, which our British comrades refuted at length a year ago”. He “refuted” the relationship with the fascist KKK man by pointing out who said it. So Atzmon’s opportunist corrupt relationship with David Duke and other Alt Right reactionaries in the US, does not really exist or is sanitised and “refuted” because an arch Zionist pointed it out. And you must not believe them, even when they point out the obvious truth.

In this we can clearly see Ian believes that Zionism is a far greater danger to humanity’s future than fascism and no one in the ranks of the LCFI in the Americas has publicly demurred. He has asserted that Zionism is funding the rise of fascism in the US, presumably to get themselves killed. Of course, we are aware that Israeli Zionists have armed far right regimes in Latin America, the fascists of the Azov brigade and others in Ukraine and support the neo-fascist Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and Polish and Lithuanian fascists.  Ah but Atzmon is a Jew by birth: “The only thing unusual about him is that he is of Israeli-Jewish, not Arab origin.”

Ian goes on to compare him to Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser, who also made explicit anti-semitic statements. But Nasser was a bourgeois nationalist who fought US imperialism, whilst also hanging trade unionists who struck work, including communists. If Nasser did, why can’t Atzmon? But Atzmon does not fight any imperialists, he supports both the fascists and the democratic ones when it is opportune to do so, and he can spread his poison. He is an enemy of the working class to the last. Ah yes but Gerry Downing is a supporter of Zionist communalism, “To those on the left who are soft on such communalism, merely refusing to join in these denunciations and recognising that some of Atzmon’s material on Jewish identity is worthy of study by Marxists, is grounds for excommunication.”

Trotskyists Ralph and Millie Lee in Johannesburg, 1936. As white South Africans they are biologically reactionaries, according to Ian Donovan’s ridiculous theory.

Ian’s Communalist Outlook; all white South Africans are reactionary

The only thing that Marxists can learn from Atzmon is how wrong and reactionary he is and why we must oppose his “Jewish Identity” nonsense, a real communalist outlook which Ian learned from him. Ian actually proposed that a Socialist Fight comrade was a reactionary because he was “a white South African”, thus accepting Atzmon’s biological determination theories and calling them Marxist and implicitly damming whole swaths of the founders of modern Trotskyism, Charlie van Gelderen, with whom I discussed, Ralph and Millie Lee, and Ted Grant are examples who were white and hailed from South Africa. Ian claims Gilad Atzmon cannot be a fascist, despite his open support for Hitler, because he is a biological Jew, and this means he cannot become a fascist if you are anti-Zionist. Ah yes, you can only have Zionist fascists, who outrageously denounce Hitler, albeit hypocritically. What need we of political, theoretical, or philosophical Marxist analysis when we possess such biological insights into the human condition? Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Gene, anyone?  So, Ian does not agree with Atzmon’s “holocaust denialism” we are pleased to learn but he is still pleased to call him a personal friend and attends his gigs and chat away with him. Does he point out in his conversations that Hitler was a really reactionary man and how opposed he is to Nazism, we wonder? Perhaps not, that might terminate this platonic relationship.

If we take Terry Eagleton’s Across the Pond: An Englishman’s View of America,  June 24, 2013 we can a far better approach to national stereotypes and culture than found in Atzmon’s backward, and racist outlook. Take the following from that book:

“Stereotypes are often thought to be negative and demeaning.  But this is not always true … The Irish do not take kindly to being told that they are dirty, idle, feckless, lying, drunken, priest-ridden brawlers, apart from the odd masochist among them who might find this censure a touch too mild. For some mysterious reason this kind of language tends to make them rather cross. Yet many Irish people are rather gratified to be told that they are genial, charming, witty, eloquent, poetic and hospitable, even though that is just as much of a stereotype. This may not make stereotypes any more acceptable in some people’s eyes, but it complicates the issue. In any case, stereotypes need not deny that we are all distinctive individuals. It is just that, like medical textbooks or prayers for the dying, they focus on what we have in common. To attend only to differences would be as misleading as to see nothing but similarities.”

The point he makes in numerous ways is that nations cohere because they identify with a common history, often mythological and false presented by the national bourgeoisie in the modern epoch. But that does not mean that every individual accepts that stereotype or that it has any validity apart from the material basis on how you make your living and how you understand your own or your nation’s history. Ian’s supposed “A pan-national Zionist bourgeoisie” does not determine how ever Jew, or indeed the majority of Jews internationally, lives and thinks.

And, having established Gerry Downing’s “Zionist Communalism” to his own satisfaction, as opposed to his own biological communalism, he goes on to his last straw man: “It is also implicitly an attack on Abram Leon, from whose materialist analysis of Jewish history our analysis of Zionism and the Jewish question is derived and extends” (our emphasis). Just another straightforward, or rather twisted, lie.

This jabbering nonsense now passes for Marxism in what is the LCFI and the ConDems.


[1] Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing, 21-1-2021, Popular Front vs United Front; the errors of the LCFI and the grosser errors of Ian Donovan,

[2] Ian Donovan, May 3, 2020, No Vote to Zionist New Labour, Starmer’s Labour: A Racist Party led by Pogromists, We Need an Internationalist Working-Class Party!

[3] FRFI 253, October/November 2016, Bourgeois Labour Party: no change with Corbyn at the top,

[4] Full Facts, 26-9- 2018, Are the majority of British Jews Zionists?

[5] Rolling Stone, Marisa Kabas, May 21, 2021, Young American Jews Have Reached a Tipping Point With Israel, Many American Jews are finding it difficult to square Israel’s actions in Palestine with their progressive domestic politics,

[6] Pew Research Centre May 11, 2021, Jewish Americans in 2020, U.S. Jews’ connections with and attitudes toward Israel,

[7] V. I. Lenin, The Second Congress of the Communist International, July 19-August 7, 1920, The Truce was called on 7-11-1921 and the Treaty was signed on 12- 6-1921.

[8] Lars T Lih, Jacobin, 29-6-2019, Karl Kautsky as Architect of the October Revolution.

[9] Submitted by AWL on 24-9-2004 , In their own words, , More, from the participants, on the recent departures from the CPGB/WW,

Appendix: Gareth Martin to Gerry Downing

Unsurprisingly I agree with your argument here, I don’t think there is anything much I want to add.

Donovan’s conviction that Jews outside of Israel are both free of prejudice and indeed controlling whole nations remains consistent and consistently absurd.  When torch-carrying Nazis march around a synagogue chanting “Jews will not replace us”, just recently, this is utter tosh.

He also makes no allowance for the fact that many Jews who might not be terribly politically conscious will get their news from mainstream sources which are invariably pro-Israel.  There is actually no real reason to expect them to have a better appreciation for the reality in Palestine than most casual news watchers.  They get reinforcement for a soft interpretation of Zionism all the time.

I think that the shift we are seeing in public opinion, including among non-Israeli Jews, may well be driven to the modern fracturing of media and the ability to access more diverse views on the internet.  And if that shift is occurring at the same time for the same reason, then claims of some sort of Jewish mandatory, uncritical allegiance to Israel are flawed.

Donovan seems unable to even consider the possibility that some Jews might be uninformed or misinformed.  And while there is certainly a non-trivial degree to which both of those can be self-inflicted, and should be actively guarded against, he treats them all as being actively and deliberately malevolent.  Ever in Israel itself, some allowance should be made for the effect of domestic propaganda on what people see and know about.

We all suffer from the perils of motivated thinking, none of us are perfectly rational, and we wouldn’t be human if we were.  I can fully understand why the idea of a homeland, even only in the abstract, is important to Jews in a way that it is not for me.  But that fact does not require that I assume the worst of people, that they know full well the atrocities of the Israeli state in every detail and support it in every detail.  Even if there is some emotional reticence to take the criticisms at face value, that is not the same thing as being an active, deliberate, conscious collaborator.

Donovan must ignore all the messy complexity of human psychology in order to hang his conspiracy theory together.  If he wants all Jews who support the mere existence of Israel expelled from the Labour Party, would he also then want them expelled from the country, had he the power to do so?  It’s difficult to see why he would not, if he truly believes that they are both secretly Israeli loyalists and puppet-masters of UK politics.  Donovan’s own positions encourage Jews to want there to be a safe haven they can retreat to if the need arises, and to feel an insecurity at being targeted for the accident of their birth.

Cheers Gareth Martin

May 30, 2021

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