The pandemic is expanding social control and generating a new cycle of capitalist accumulation
April 29, 2020
We are in a transition to another cycle of capitalist accumulation, a relatively new phenomenon, a cycle that is being born through the greatest planetary catastrophe since the Second World War. Capitalism’s impotence in the face of Covid-19 has created expectations that the tragedy would be a moment of renewal; that a period of greater solidarity would open up, of Keynesian capitalism, of nationalization, and the universal basic income. These illusions in the regeneration of post-coronavirus capitalism are materially based on the emergency measures taken by a number of governments.
This was and continues to be the illusion of a broad spectrum of left-wing intellectuals. They believe that all this is possible without a tenacious struggle by the working class to defeat the bourgeois offensive, which has a series of extreme right and neoliberal-libertarian governments at its forefront.
Work Intensification and Compression of Wages
With the world pandemic established, the lumpenization of the most populous layers of the proletariat seems to have become the plan of the exploiting classes. The miserable economic aid packages for informal workers, for a few months, point to this. It is worth remembering that informalization is a predominant policy in the world. According to the International Labor Organization (2015), 60.7% of the world labour force has no permanent job. In many countries, such as Brazil, informality reaches half the workforce. In other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, informality is even greater.
During the pandemic, the Bolsonaro government’s aid to informal workers was $100. Bolsonaro initially considered paying $35. In other countries, such as Thailand, it reaches $170 dollars a month. This is still very little because it is much less than the average wages of the countries themselves. In turn, this average is often below the vital needs of a family of workers. According to the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIEESE) of Brazil, in March the minimum wage needed should be approximately $780.
The number of workers who signed up to be able to receive the miserable aid exceeds by two or three times the number expected by the government. $ 100 is little more than half the $ 183 minimum wage in Brazil for formal workers and almost eight times less than the necessary wage suggested by DIEESE. After quarantine, with unemployment and underemployment much higher than the current ones, which affect, respectively, 13 and 30 million workers, the working class is induced to get used to surviving on half or less of the salary they received before the pandemic.
Then a new minimum wage floor is created, lowered, formally or informally, because in times of calamity capitalist anarchy increases. Wages are compressed below their value, for the class as a whole and, in increasingly broad sectors, also for new technological applications.
Once again, the overexploitation of the working class, about which Ruy Mauro Marini had written, deepens when the wages paid are below the value of the labour force, preventing this class from reproducing in its normal conditions of life. It will also deepen the degree of exploitation of work by new technological tools that extend the journey and occupy the moments of the workers’ day and night to the maximum, now with work also at home. The intensification of work and the compression of wages below their value are two countervailing tendencies to the fall in the rate of profit, already pointed out by Marx in Capital, used by capitalists to avoid or get out of crises for more than 120 years. Since then, mediated by the social gains and defeats of the exploited majority, exploitation and its mechanisms have become more complex. Forced to survive and adapt with incomes well below the vital minimum, barbarism leads most human beings to live as a human sub-race.
Fatalism and Class Intent
This perverse element of overexploiting work is combined with suspected health procedures for SARS-CoV-2. For example, the so-called “herd immunity”, which was explicitly adopted by Great Britain until the moment when the Prime Minister himself also contracted the virus. Minimizing the severity of the problem, conscious neglect and fatalism with the loss of thousands of lives, especially of the working population, reveals a certain amount of intent. The pandemic, which victimizes social classes unequally, is used, objectively, as a weapon of class war. If it wants to survive and live, the working class can by no means accept the fatalistic predictions of its enemies as “normal”, “inevitable” the high number of deaths. The class cannot passively accept its suffering and extermination.
This is not based on reason, and illusions abound in those who hope that these governments and bourgeois states will take measures favourable to the majority of the population. These illusions become true hallucinations faced with the bailouts of those capitalists who can be rescued from the new financial crisis and competition among them for those who will take the lead in the new cycle of capital accumulation. It was these governments and states that made the living conditions of the working masses so vulnerable, with ultra-parasitic measures against the subaltern classes (euphemistically called neoliberalism). The greatest proof of this was the collapse of almost all national health systems within less than two months of the new virus.
Brutalism, Coronocracy, …
Achilles Mbembe, who coined the term “necropolitics”, already pointed out before the pandemic that we were moving towards regimes that he called “Brutalism”. This is the title of his work published in early 2020. According to the Cameroonian philosopher, the final project of “Brutalism” would be the transformation of humanity into matter and energy, when all spheres of existence are crossed by capital and the ordering of society it is defined by the same digital computing orientation. If it is correct, the pandemic represents a leap, or an acceleration in that state of affairs. Many analysts around the world, probably among the first, was the journalist Eshrat Mardi of the Tehran Times, who have used the term “Coronocracy” to refer to repressive and centralizing measures.
The government of Israel, in the state that already had a Nazi-Zionist character against the Palestinians, headed by the arch-corrupt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who would face trial for corruption, took advantage of the moment to establish measures that increase surveillance over citizens, opportunely closed the courts (the Israeli Federal Supreme Court), increased the repression of the Palestinians, without allowing any interference, instituted that the Zionist Army is the maximum sanitary authority, above the Ministry of Health.
In Hungary, Viktor Orbán gained the to govern by decree, creating an indefinite state of emergency and threatens with imprisonment of up to five years to anyone who publishes information that contradicts government guidelines, that “obstruct or prevent the effective protection of the population”.
In Peru, Congress passed a law that gives police and military personnel legal immunity for injuring or killing people on grounds of violating social isolation orders. Something similar to the “exclusion of illegality” for police officers, defended by ex-minister Sérgio Moro and Bolsonaro. Agents of repression would have full rights to execute the population under subjective justifications such as “surprise, fear or violent emotion”. Trump made a 180-degree turn, from disdain for the pandemic to definitions like: “absolutely critical”, “invisible, incredible enemy”. The President of the United States recommended an injection of disinfectant into the body would be beneficial in killing covid-19. Desperate and ignorant, dozens of people followed Trump’s recommendation. The New York poison control centre received 30 calls related to the use of disinfectant in the 18 hours following the president’s suggestion.
When workers are weakened, their class enemies, the bosses, ride roughshod over them. Without organized and victorious resistance from the oppressed peoples and the working class, the prospects point to a severe stage of barbarism that we are experiencing. The situation of the working class, which was already precarious, is now globally catastrophic. The “new great depression” (terminology of journalist Pepe Escobar) has been closing millions of companies. Unemployment soared. According to optimistic ILO estimates, 25 million jobs will be lost. But in the United States alone, whose Trump administration celebrated “full employment”, it now reaches almost 20% unemployment. If this is so in the richest country on the planet, how will it be in the rest? Even France, representative of the sixth world economic power, has been unable to defend its citizens from the virus, 23,000 French have died, 10% of all deaths in the world by the covid-19 so far.
In this desperate situation and with the over-supply of labour power, there is a brutal drop in the wages of formal workers and civil servants. However, the prospects of barbarism are much, much worse for precarious people of all kinds, immigrants, women.
Governments have been taking advantage of the pandemic to impose states of siege against the masses, to enslave them and to increase preventive social control in the face of latent rebellions. Everyone knows that the poor and exploited people are being dragged quickly into a situation of desperate struggle for life. Thus, populist measures do not regenerate health systems or rebuild the living conditions of the working class. In fact, capital is taking advantage of the brutal drop in working life conditions to exterminate part of the surplus unemployed army, militarize social life and expand the police state.
The “Anti-Authoritarian” Manifesto of Neoliberals
In this scenario, about 150 neoliberal intellectuals, right-wing opportunists, in a list headed by former governors, aspiring to return to power in their countries in the Ibero-Latin American region launched the manifesto “Que la pandemica no sea un pretexto el autoritarismo ”, Organized by the” Fundación Internacional para la Libertad “(FIL), chaired by Mario Vargas Llosa, a former leftist writer who became a neoliberal politician in Peru. The manifesto was also signed by the former presidents of Spain (Aznar); Argentina (Macri), Mexico (Zedillo and Vicente Fox); Colombia (Uribe); Uruguay (Lacalle and Sanguinetti); El Salvador (Cristiani) and Paraguay (Franco). The following is a list of businessmen, economists, and coup institutions like the “Mises” Institute of Brazil or the Venezuelan “Vente”, an opposition party that has unsuccessfully tried to dissociate its image from drug trafficking.
The manifesto criticizes:
“In place of some understandable restrictions on liberation, in several countries there is a confinement with minimal exceptions, the impossibility of working and producing, and the informative manipulation […] has suspended the state of rights and, even, representative democracy and the justice system […] in the dictatorships of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua the pandemic serves as a pretext to increase political persecution and oppression ”.
Obviously this is a gamble and a long shot. Macri, for example, is a long way from returning to being president of Argentina. In this and the next presidency. But who knows? Much may change (for the worse) post-pandemic. In addition to the profile of the subscribers, the text leaves no doubt that it is nothing more than a manifesto of US foremen, and, more likely, the fraction of the imperialist bourgeoisie within the Democratic Party. In the text of the neoliberal manifesto, nationalist governments like Venezuela and Nicaragua, and the Cuban workers’ state are attacked as dictatorships. No mention is made of the true dictatorships, instituted by coups d’état on the Latin American continent, as recently occurred in Bolivia, where presidential elections were suspended indefinitely long before the start of the pandemic.
These lords, like Aznar, and their parties, like the PP, were driven out of power by political wear and tear by the population of their countries, due to their policies of neoliberal oppression and plundering of the State, privatizations and diverting of public resources to private mafias, of which they were political representatives. They were mainly responsible for making the health systems and living conditions of the working masses, who are now semi-defenseless, vulnerable to the pandemic. Now, these very same gentlemen, try to present themselves as an alternative to the current governments, taking advantage of popular dissatisfaction that they know will explode soon.
The traditional right reorganizes itself in the name of democratic and civil liberties and against authoritarianism. Increasing authoritarianism is in fact an opportunistic move by several governments to centralize political power. Bolsonaro mobilizes his neo-Nazi base and threatens the closure of the Supreme Court and parliament (as Benjamin Netanyahu did in Israel) but due to his political fragility he has not been taking all possible advantage of the moment for his dictatorial aspirations. Like the manifesto, Bolsonarism is against quarantine and accuses those who defend it of measures against the pandemic of “conspirators to impose a communist globalist dictatorship”. Bolsonaro could also quietly signed this neo-liberal manifesto headed by Vargas Losla. But, certainly, most subscribers would not want the Brazilian neo-Nazi to join because they do not want to be labelled authoritarian and because exactly when executing the manifesto’s political and economic program, it made Brazil the new world epicenter of the pandemic.
Different bourgeois fractions dispute the barbarism that results from the association pandemic-economic crisis. Each fraction relocates, elaborates the strategic program that is most convenient for them, moves, rearticulates and makes the agitation corresponding to its strategy. The majority of the world population, the main victims of this process, need to carry out similar movements, but in reverse, against the exterminating classes and for humanity.
The tragedy is already happening, we have no doubt about it. The question now is what to make of the tragedy that the world system of capital has brought upon us. On the one hand: death, overexploitation and brutal oppression. On the other hand, the revolutionary struggle for socialism, for survival and for a dignified life for the majority.
Starmer’s Labour: A Racist Party led by Pogromists
We Need an Internationalist Working-Class Party!
The recently leaked 851 page report on The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019, tells a lot of the story of the drive to destabilise and defeat Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership over that period. It is highly informative and a crucial primary source on the most scandalous, anti-democratic political attack on the labour movement and its political expression by class-enemy forces in British history for close to a century, since the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in the 1920s and the forged ‘Zinoviev letter’ that was used to overthrow the first minority Labour government in 1924.
It is very important despite the politics of its authors, which reflect the politics of the Corbyn leadership and its functionaries who had themselves capitulated to the political basis of the witchhunt even as they were being targeted by it. There is still decisive evidence in it, amounting to definitive proof, of a deliberate attempt to defeat the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership and sabotage its activities by people employed by the party as functionaries, whose job was to advance the party and fight to win elections for it, not to conspire to bring about election defeats and overthrow the leadership.
There is also considerable evidence in it that those who smeared the left as racists and anti-Semites were and are the most despicable racists and bigots themselves, that thought nothing of joining in racially abusive campaigns against ethnic minority politicians like Diane Abbott and activists who supported Corbyn because of his reputation as a long-time opponent of racism and defender of the rights of immigrants etc.
The report reveals much about the racism, corruption and mendacity of the Zionists and Blarities who managed to get Labour referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), now pretty much a Tory puppet itself, for supposed ‘institutional racism’ against Jews. This ‘racism’ involved not expelling Palestine supporters and opponents of Zionist racism quickly and ruthlessly enough for the Zionist racists, both within and without Labour, who engineered the whole referral business in the first place, as a classic manoeuvre by pogromists and racist terrorists to cast themselves as victims, and their victims as monsters, a technique which the Zionists copied from Nazism.
The EHRC is essentially a Tory stooge body, which for instance has done nothing to investigate and condemn the crimes of the Tories against ethnic minority populations, against women, or other minorities. Most notably it has had nothing to say about the Windrush scandal, the vile racist persecution of Afro-Carribbean and other immigrants from the 1950s to the 1970s with theoretical citizenship rights who have been deprived of all rights including that to medical care, deported and often died because of this persecution. The failure to do anything about this marks the EHRC as a tool of racist governments. But precisely because of this it is likely to come up with some kind of hostile judgement against the left and anti-Zionists.
The response of the new Starmer leadership of the party to the leaked report has not been to address the numerous despicable acts of corruption and racism that it reveals, but to seek to suppress the report and launch a hunt for the whistle-blowers that leaked it. It seems the reason that the report was leaked is that Starmer planned to suppress it as evidence and not submit it to the EHRC investigation, as it contained too much damaging information about the activities of the Blairite/Zionist faction that Starmer was always part of.
Labour Zionism’s Big Fat Racist Lie
The cause celebre of the right-wing, neo-liberal, pro-capitalist witchhunt and counterattack in the Labour Party against the influx of left-wing inclined, working class members mobilised behind Jeremy Corbyn since 2015, has been outrageously false allegations of anti-Jewish racism.
The technique used was similar to the techniques of lying used by supporters of Hitler and Stalin in the mid-20th Century, that of telling huge, outrageous lies against political opponents, projecting onto the targets calumnies that the liars were guilty of themselves. These are similar to the lies of Hitler and Goebells that ‘the Jews’ were seeking ‘world domination’ while Nazi Germany sent its armies across Europe, East and West, and while it and its allied forces attacked and waged war on enemies on every continent in pursuit of just such an imperialist domination.
Or the lies of Stalin, that the Communist Left Opposition, who fought for world revolution and working-class democracy against the degeneration of the October revolution, were in league with Hitler against the USSR, when in fact it was Stalin who made pacts with Hitler, who trusted Hitler not to attack the USSR to the point of leaving it open to devastating attack in the Summer of 1941, which was no surprise to Oppositionists, but was to Stalin. His regime, while smearing the left as Hitler’s agents, handed over communists to the Gestapo when it suited them, to get rid of left-wing opponents of Stalin such as Marguerite Buber-Neumann, the partner of the leading German Communist dissident Heinz Neumann, previously murdered by Stalin.
The Zionist lies against the Labour left are of a similar ilk to those of Hitler and Stalin. These false allegations have been hurled over and over again against people whose overwhelming Impulse has been hostility to racism, to the racism of the Tories and their Blairite predecessors, to the anti-immigrant and racist persecution that was and is still involved in the ‘hostile environment’ against immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, overseas students, ‘unskilled’ migrantsn(e.g. many in the NHS) and other victims of the racism that certainly did not begin when Theresa May was put in charge of the Home Office by David Cameron.
In the thirteen years of Labour rule that preceded 2010, one grotesque bigoted thug after another abused migrants and roared their hatred of them: Straw, Blunkett, Charles Clarke, Jacque Smith, Alan Johnson. T hese are some of the worst chauvinists, migrant-baiters, torturers and racists, particularly Islamophobes, who ever personified the foul British imperialist Home Office.
But through the power and mendacity of the billionaire-owned, utterly corrupt and anti-democratic capitalist media, supplemented by the thoroughly purged, neoliberal-dominated BBC and other terrestrial broadcasting media, a lie was propagated, that was not so much widely believed, but accepted as the basis for a witchhunt. Even to the point that ‘comedy’ sketches appeared on some TV shows about the alleged hatred of Corbyn and Labour Party members for Jewish people and their resemblance to the Nazis.
This indicates not only corruption of the media and the crude intrusion of ruling-class politics into something that passes for ‘entertainment’, but a serious cultural decline in British society itself. It is also true that the main vehicle for this was Blairism, from the purging of BBC journalism by Alastair Campbell in the 2000s to the insidious commodification of liberal anti-working class bigotry under New Labour through the likes of Little Britain and Catherine Tate’s shows, with their lampooning of ‘chavs’ and supposedly sham-‘disabled’ figures of ‘fun’. They were grist to the Tory mill – Ian Duncan Smith’s televisual Dür Stürmer. More recently we saw sketches on Tracy Ullman’s show portraying Corbyn as a crude anti-Jewish racist in the most pathetic non-impersonation that, if those doing it had the slightest bit of cultural self-awareness, would embarrass the institution that once ran genuinely amusing satirists like Mike Yarwood.
The connection of Tracy Ulllman with Blairism is through Neil Kinnock, with whom she made videos in the 1980s when he was the left-bashing, anti-union Labour leader who fought long and hard to reconcile Labour with Thatcherism, stabbing in the back striking miners, printers, dockers … you name it, and laying the basis for Blairism. This is all part of the cultural corruption of the BBC by Blairite luvvies, who can sneak in where stuffed-shirt Tories – apart from perhaps Boris Johnson himself – would still have risked being lampooned like Sir Gerald Nabarro was by the Goodies and Monty Python in earlier, less repressive times.
Kinnock’s offspring Stephen Kinnock today is an arch-Blairite and one of Labour’s saboteurs, who preferred a Tory victory, as was visible by his obvious mortification and shock on election night in 2017 when Theresa May lost her majority. He was right in tune with the Labour apparatus that, as the leaked report exposes, actively fought to sabotage Labour’s 2017 and no doubt 2019 Election Campaigns.
Starmer: the Revenge of the Neoliberals
The election of Keir Starmer as Labour’s leader in April was the revenge of Labour’s contingent of the neo-liberal bourgeois elite for the ‘aberration’ of Corbyn’s election in 2015. Starmer’s election was a complete stitch-up and the mechanism of that stitch up is now clear. To obtain a place on the ballot, each candidate for leader had to get 10% of Labour’s MP’s and MEP’s to nominate them. In 2015 the percentage was higher at 15% but the left was more marginal; Corbyn was ‘lent’ some nominations by MPs who did not vote for him in the leadership election. This was because there was great trepidation among sections of Labour MPs that the party faced terminal decline in its fortunes after two Election defeats: that of Gordon Brown in 2010 and then Ed Miliband in 2015. The Tory-lite neo-liberal politics of the Blair/Brown period had led to Labour losing millions of its working class base and being reduced to a tiny rump in Scotland, among other places, particularly in 2015
The one-person-one-vote electoral system that was set up by Ed Miliband after the Collins review post-2010 was an attempt to revive some sort of popular enthusiasm for Labour by means of a ‘democratic’ gimmick. Labour would allow non-members to pay a one-off fee to become ‘registered supporters’ and have a vote in the election of the Labour leader, and also allow members of affiliated trade unions, instead of voting en bloc as previously, to have individual votes on a similar basis. Each vote from such ‘affiliated supporters’ and registered supporters being equal to those of party members themselves. The Electoral College that previously elected the leader was thus abolished. The idea was something akin to holding ‘primaries’ in the manner of parties in the United States ,and to generate enthusiasm for Labour as a result of ‘popular involvement’, and thus hopefully avoid a similar fate to the Greek PASOK. This social-democratic type party had, through adopting neo-liberal politics and alienating its working-class and left-wing base of support, declined to the point of no longer being a major party. It was taken for granted that these changes would mean a further dilution of Labour’s organic link with the organised Labour movement and lead to further defeats for the left.
But the neo-liberals miscalculated. Labour had lost a large chunk of its left-wing and working class base during the Kinnnock, Brown and Blair years, and Blair in particular had won elections by moving to the right onto Tory political territory in a period when the Tories themselves became dysfunctional and deeply divided, mainly over Europe. Blair had won over part of the Tories’ base of support not by ideologically combatting and defeating the Tories, but by posing as an alternative Tory Party. Hundreds of thousands of Labour supporters had taken to abstaining in elections as a protest against this right-wing politics, or voting Labour with great reluctance and unease.
Miliband’s scheme was first implemented in 2015 after Ed Miliband’s feeble soft-left campaign lost the election for Labour, as he ran on a programme that said austerity was not really wrong but ‘too far too fast’ and promised to ‘control immigration’, issuing special Labour Party mugs proclaiming this. Despite Miliband’s lip-service to the need for ‘working class representation’, his campaign inspired no-one. The Tories gained a working majority in parliament that they did not expect, and nor were they overjoyed about. The Cameron leadership preferred the coalition with the Lib Dems which kept the lid on some of the contradictions in the Tory Party particularly over Europe. With an overall majority Cameron had no choice but to carry out his unwanted promise of a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, which had fateful consequences later.
But Miliband’s emphatic loss of the election led to a popular backlash against neoliberalism among Labour’s base far greater than the limited leftward shift that had led to soft-left Miliband defeating his openly Blairite, neocon brother David for the leadership after the 2010 defeat. The Collins ‘reforms’ allowed hundreds of thousands of former Labour members and left-inclined younger working-class supporters to either get votes as ‘registered supporters’, or though their trade unions, without actually taking the step of joining the Labour Party. When Corbyn was put on the ballot with borrowed votes from some right-wing or soft-left MPs worried that if he were excluded the contest would be seen as a sham, the stage was set for rapid growth of the number of these supporters propelling Corbyn to victory on the basis of his reputation as one of the die-hard opponents of Blairism, its privatisations and openly anti-socialist attacks on traditional Labourism, and Blair’s neocon imperialist wars such as the invasion of Iraq.
Since then the priority of the bulk of Labour’s MP’s and apparatus has been to undo the victory of Corbyn that was the result of that seemingly almost accidental set of circumstances, which were in fact not accidental at all, but organically linked to Labour’s specific set of contradictions as a bourgeois workers party, and the specific relationship with neoliberalism as a predatory ruling class project that has been able to extend its tentacles within the working class movement, threatening social-democratic reformist parties like Labour with destruction.
A Rigged Election
It is very clear how the left was emasculated and, despite appearances, a genuinely democratic leadership election was denied to the Labour membership in 2020, after the sabotage and the internal destabilisation that played a major role in Labour’s General Election defeat. The mechanism was simply Zionist blackmail. All candidates for the leadership, quite early on in the campaign, were confronted by this, in the form of demands from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to sign up to ’10 demands’ including support for ‘fast track’ expulsions of Labour members at the behest of the racist Zionist factions within Labour, an anathema against even left-wing Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Labour, and a refusal to stand on platforms with or show solidarity to leftists accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ by the Zionist racists. Not to sign up for such demands would have brought the entire weight of the media, the Zionist apparatus, and the Labour apparatus down on the heads of the candidate who refused to sign. So the political cowards all signed up.
At a hustings organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, all of the leadership candidates declared they were either ‘Zionist’, or a ‘supporter’ of Zionism as did Starmer. Including the ‘continuity Corbynite’ candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey. It is an outrage that a racist anti-Arab movement that defends the Nakba or ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from their homeland (and is actually affiliated to the Israeli ‘Labour’ Party that constituted the government that carried it out!) should get to hold a Labour hustings.
Starmer in an interview expanded on his own statement of sympathy for Zionism by saying
“I do support Zionism. I said that last night. I absolutely support the right of Israel to exist as a homeland …. I said it loud and clear – and meant it – that I support Zionism without qualification.”
This happened concurrently with the blatant rigging of the elections for the Labour NEC by the repeated suspensions of left candidates for phoney allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’. The members, it is clear, were not to be allowed to have a say on any of this. This Sword of Damocles could easily have been used in the leadership election itself if the need had arisen. Only in the deputy leadership election was some laxity allowed on this, as Richard Burgon managed to get nominated and refuse to sign up for the BOD’s demands. But such was the demoralisation induced by the election defeat, the witchhunt and this blackmail that Starmer, who to give himself left-cover, endorsed the soft-left Angela Rayner (who also signed up for the BOD’s demands) as his running mate, won with around 56% per cent of the vote, much less than Corbyn who in 2015 and 2016 achieved 59.5 in 2015 and 61.8% respectively.
Another index of the anti-democratic stitchup in 2020 is in the turnout. In 2015 and 2016 the turnout was 76% and 77% respectively, whereas in 2020 it was only 62%: a massive drop. In fact more Labour Party members and supporters did not vote: 293,450, than the 275,780 that voted for Starmer in all categories as part of his victory, which clearly indicates that large sections of the membership considered themselves disenfranchised by the choice that was on offer. Long-Bailey’s capitulation to the racist, Tory BOD meant that she could not credibly be seen as a genuine candidate of the left and therefore large numbers of left-wing members did not see her as worth supporting.
A Pogromist Takes Control
The identification with Zionism of Starmer and all of his rivals for the leadership, his support ‘absolutely’ for Israel’s ‘right to exist’ as a homeland, and his statement that he supports Zionism ‘without qualification’ means that Starmer has, with crystal clarity, stated his adherence to a genocidal, far right, racist ideology. It has been extensively documented, and is not disputed by reputable historians, that the formation of the state of Israel was indissolubly connected with the expulsion of between two thirds and three quarters of the indigenous Palestinian Arab population. The foundation and existence of Israel would not have been possible without the majority of the population being Jewish. But the way this was achieved was the only way it could ever have been achieved: by a massive pogrom to drive out the Arab civilian population wholesale. These people were brutally driven out of their homeland to create the Jewish ‘homeland’ Starmer supports as part of his ‘without qualification’ support for Zionism.
In this you could in some sense claim that Starmer is acting in the traditions of Labourite social- imperialism, and its support for the British Empire, which was the sponsor of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, addressed to the leading British Rothschild, which promised a Jewish ‘national home’ in the Middle East as a quid-pro-quo for support by prominent US Jews for the United States entering the First World War on Britain’s side. Or at least that is how it was sold. It is also in the tradition of Labour’s support for the British Mandate in Palestine, which allowed the Zionists to expand their settlement project and eventually take control of Palestine and expel the Palestinians, with the rather obvious support of Attlee’s Labour Party at the time.
In those days, the Labourites ironically could say that they were behaving as a classic social-chauvinist party and defending the ‘welfare’ of the British Labour movement though defending British colonial policy against the colonial peoples. Today that is not really true as the British colonial presence in the Middle East is long gone. The relationship of Starmer’s leadership with the Zionists is direct and largely unmediated: a bloc forged through the destabilisation of Corbyn’s leftist Labour leadership by forces that were acting out of the Israeli Embassy, as revealed in the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which also revealed attempts by the Zionists to unseat politicians they regarded as unsympathetic in the Conservative Party, for instance Alan Duncan. The relationship between the Labour leadership and neo-liberalism, which is a largely post-WWII phenomenon with a close relationship with Zionism, is significantly different to the old relationship of the social chauvinist Labour bureaucracy with the British Empire. Which underlines that Blairism is somewhat different to the old right-wing Labour politics represented by MacDonald and Attlee.
In qualitative terms, the Nakba was a racist crime comparable to slavery and the Nazi holocaust. In stating that he does “absolutely support” Israel’s “right … to exist as a homeland” and that he supports Zionism “without qualification”, Starmer is confessing, and boasting of, his approval of the massive pogrom of the Nakba, the massacres at Deir Yassin and Tantura, at Dawaymeh, the use of typhoid as a bioweapon in Acre and Gaza, the whole genocidal edifice of the Zionist Plan Dalet to dispose of the Arab population as extensively documented by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal work The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2007) and the premeditated motivation of which was documented equally extensively by the Palestinian historian Nur Mashlala in his work Expulsion of the Palestinians: the Concept of ‘Transfer’ in Zionist Political Thought (1992).
There is no political difference between publicly announcing one’s support for this racist crime and any other. In saying that he supports Israel’s right to exist ‘absolutely’ and the political Zionism that created it ‘without qualification’ he is saying that the Arab victims of the Nakba count for nothing. He is saying about those Arab victims what the racist pro-slavery United States Supreme Court Judge Richard Taney said about the freedman slave Dred Scott in the notorious Dred Scott judgement of 1857, when Scott sued for his freedom from being re-enslaved. In his judgement, Taney and the majority of the pro-slavery Supreme Court threw out Dred Scott’s suit with the judgement that blacks were:
“beings of an inferior order…; and so far inferior, that they had no rights that the white man was bound to respect”
This notoriously racist judgement, far from being accepted by anti-racists, was one of the key flashpoints that set off the American Civil War which destroyed slavery.
Indeed, this is not the only parallel that is obviously posed by Starmer’s position. His position amounts to unconditional support for a programme that involves getting rid of an unwanted population of Arabs without which Israel’s existence ‘as a homeland’ would be impossible because there would be an Arab majority. There is no difference in principle between defending that and defending Hitler’s mass murder of the Jews. The logic of seeking the removal of an entire population or ethnic group to make way for another is … genocide. And indeed, the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian Arab population clearly fits the definition of genocide in the UN’s own Convention:
“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
a) killing members of the group;
b)Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Israel is clearly guilty of (a), (b) and (c) at least. The deliberate blockage of access of pregnant women to medical care at Israeli checkpoints – a common occurrence – is a manifestation of (d). Israel does not seem to be guilty of (e). But it is not necessary, as the definition itself makes clear, to satisfy all the above criteria for the crime of genocide to be committed.
The killings of members of the group took place in numerous wars against the Arab civilian population beginning in 1947-8, as did the causing of serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group. The prolonged traumatisation of the population particularly in Gaza from regular, one-sided wars against a people that has been sealed up in what amounts to a huge concentration camp whose borders are controlled by Israel, the bombings, the shooting of protesters, the repeated ‘buzzing’ of the civilian population by supersonic Israeli aircraft, the deprivation of water and medicine: all are designed to cause serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group, to destroy at least part of the Arab population through making their land uninhabitable and thus forcing the dispersal and exile of the rest.
The only fig-leaf that the Labour Zionists have to hide their genocidal racism is their support for the two-state solution. This signifies that in their view, the Arab victims of Israeli crimes should be happy with a small fragment of their original homeland that would be obviously under Israeli domination. But that is not incompatible with a genocidal programme either. The Nazis, before they definitively decided upon extermination as their ‘solution’ to the existence of the Jewish population that they evidently did not want, explored the idea of using the island of Madagascar as a place where Jews could be exiled to. In fact the two-state solution is something Israel has often talked about but never agreed to. For one simple reason: a Palestinian state, even a small and weak one, would have more legitimacy internationally than Israel could ever have. Because it would be a state of an indigenous people, and not a settler state build on stolen land.
This is why Israel will never permit the emergence of a genuine Palestinian state; the Oslo agreement did not create such a state and was never intended to do so. What all wings of political Zionism are for, including the supporters of Israeli Labour in the Jewish Labour Movement, is a pseudo-state controlled by Israel in the manner of the current Palestinian authority, which is similar to the Vichy state in France under Nazi occupation and whose main function is to repress Palestinian resistance to Israeli crimes.
While there may be some utopian reformers, such as Norman Finkelstein, George Galloway and in his earlier period the late Edward W Said, who once put forward the idea of a genuine Palestinian state alongside Israel as the best that can be achieved under today’s political conditions, all of those people were compelled by developments in the real world to accept that this idea is in fact impossible to achieve. Today the two-state solution is simply a con-trick to justify demobilising the anti-racist struggle against Zionism in favour of something akin to the kind of reservations native Americans were imprisoned on as part of the genocidal colonisation of their homeland by European settlers.
This fig-leaf cannot hide the fact that Starmer is a genocidal racist and pogromist, and that Labour is now dominated by a far right, racist political trend with real similarities to the genocidal politics of Nazism. The political Zionists who dominate Labour today are as sinister and dangerous to the workers movement as neo-Nazis and the labour movement needs to be educated and won to recognise this.
Some on the left may try to play this down, and pretend that this is not a qualitative intensification of the Zionist trend that has long existed within Labour. But this is not a peripheral matter as it was back in 1945 when despite a deeply rotten pro-Zionist policy that approved of the Nakba in an international manifesto before it actually happened, Labour was still seen as a reformist party and was responsible in office for the creation of the NHS and much of what in the post-WWII period constituted the welfare state.
Nor are we even back in 2003 when Labour in power invaded Iraq in lockstep with George W. Bush and the very Zionist Project for the New American Century, but it was still claimed that this was really about some kind of liberal ‘humanitarian intervention’ on behalf of an oppressed population. Completely mendacious though that was, it was still somewhat in keeping with the traditions of pro-imperialist Labourism in its claim that Labour could shape imperialism in a ‘progressive’ direction. The pro-Zionism and thereby the acute racism was partly hidden and implicit.
But this was the central issue in the witchhunt against Corbynism, it was central in the Labour leadership campaign when all the candidates declared themselves either as Zionists or supporters of Zionism ‘without qualification’ and it has been central in Starmer’s leadership since as he has vowed publicly that ‘anti-Semitism’, which he defines as opposition to Zionism, will not be tolerated. It is also central to the leaked report. Therefore it is essential to examine this question in full and bring out its implications for working class politics in Britain in full.
Corbyn’s capitulation, and his symbiotic competition with the Zionists
The Labour Party’s tolerance of this genocidal racism is the monstrous fact that ought to spring out at anyone discussing the whole furore against so-called ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party, aimed at the left and supporters of the Palestinians. Corbyn’s definitive capitulation seems to have happened after the Zionist furore over the Mear One Brick Lane mural in 2018, which was deemed ‘anti-Semitic’ despite depicting half-a-dozen prominent magnates, including John D Rockerfeller, J. P. Morgan, Andrew Cargenie, and the bourgeois mystic Aleister Crowley, only a couple of whom, Rothschild and Warburg, were Jewish, sitting on the backs of the world’s poor.
Corbyn apologised for non-existent ‘anti-Semitism’ for having defended this mural six years earlier in 2012, when the story was dug up by the Zionist press, and after that was basically a broken man. There had been capitulations before that. Corbyn had abjectly failed to defend a number of left-wing people targeted by Zionists, such as Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Gerry Downing, and he had indulged the activities of Jon Lansman, who had destroyed democracy in Momentum and was purging it of anti-Zionists. But Corbyn’s capitulation over Mear One was a tipping point. This led straight to Corbyn’s acceptance, in stages, of the racist anti-Arab pseudo-definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ promoted by the pro-Israel International Holocaust Remembrance Association, whose whole purpose is to exploit the memory of the Nazi holocaust to justify Israeli racism today.
To expunge the ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism, his appointee, the new General Secretary Jennie Formby, as detailed in the report, embarked on a war with the remaining apparatchiks of the former Blairite GenSec Ian McNichol, as to who could be the most efficient witchhunters of supposed ‘anti-Semites’. Along the way, Labour’s most radical left-wing MP, Chris Williamson, the only one prepared to oppose Corbyn from the left, and prepared to defend leftist victims of the witchhunt, was hounded out by Formby. Which of course was a predictably suicidal strategy, as the most consistent reactionaries are invariably the practiced, committed right-wingers; when the left tries to outdo the right in chauvinism and reaction, it rarely succeeds. Those so inclined usually support the original article, not the imitation.
The capitulation to Zionist racism by the Corbynites is shown clearly in this passage from the report, which is a quote from Jeremy Corbyn as part of a primer on ‘anti-Semitism’ as part of his attempt to conciliate the Zionist witchhunters and show he was ‘doing something’ about anti-Semitism;
“In response to 19th Century European antisemitism, some Jews became advocates for Zionism, Jewish national self-determination in a Jewish state. Since the State of Israel was founded in 1948, following the horrors of the Holocaust, Zionism means maintaining that state. Jewish people have the same right to self-determination as any other people. Many Jewish Israelis are the descendants of refugees fleeing the Holocaust or from across the Middle East who faced discrimination after the founding of the State of Israel. Most British Jews feel connected to some extent to Israel and many have friends and family there.
There are many forms of Zionism both in Israel and around the world and for many Jews, Zionism represents national liberation. The concepts of Israel, Zion and Jerusalem run deeply in Jewish religion, identity and culture, and for many are symbolic of a homeland, refuge, or place of safety. The sensitivities around these concepts should be considered before using them.
Note the sudden jump over decades of history, and the thinly-veiled use of the Nazi holocaust to excuse the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, and to say that it is an expression of the right of Jews to ‘self-determination’ which they apparently have the same right ‘as any other people’. These are key tenets of Zionist ideology, and note what is missing from this passage. The discussion of the ‘sensitivities’ of Jews is to the fore; concern for the ‘sensitivities’ of the Arab victims of Israel is completely absent. Yet there is an oppressor-oppressed relationship between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs and for a supposedly anti-racist party, Labour,and Corbyn in this passage, clearly regards the nationalism of the oppressor as paramount over the national rights of the oppressed.
In fact, the idea that the ‘the Jews’ have the same “right to self-determination as any other people” depends on the idea that the Jews are a nation. But that is disputed by Marxist anti-Zionists, and is evidently untrue if you look at Jewish communities around the world, who may have elements of a common culture defined by religion, but do not have a common language in everyday discourse, and above all, do not have a common territory that they inhabit on a stable basis where they are a majority population and can exercise this ‘self-determination’ without violating the rights of others.
Nations have the right to self-determination, as they can liberate themselves from national or colonial oppression without fundamentally violating the rights of others. Jews are not a nation and their ‘self-determination’ is therefore a reactionary utopia. Zionism’s reactionary utopia has created an unstable semi-national formation that exits internationally, including in Israel, without a territory that it can inhabit without oppressing and dispossessing others.
‘National liberation’ through pogroms and ethnic cleansing
The Corbyn passage quoted above is disgustingly racist in its real content because of its use of the term ‘national liberation’ to describe the creation of the state of Israel. ‘Liberation’ as a concept implies ‘freedom’, and the concept of the ‘liberation’ of ‘Israel’ as defined by political Zionism (the only kind of Zionism that matters today) implies that Palestine needed to be ‘liberated’ from something to become ‘Israel’. What is this ‘something’ from which the future Israel needed to be ‘liberated’ to make this ‘homeland, refuge, or place of safety’ possible?
The obvious answer is its majority Arab, indigenous population. In other words, in order to become a Jewish ‘homeland’, ‘Israel’ had to be ‘cleansed’ of its Arab population, or at least enough of them to make a Jewish majority state possible. In the parlance of the Nazis, in their persecution of the Jews in Europe, when a country, or town, or village had its Jewish population removed, or murdered, the place was declared to be Judenrein, – cleansed of Jews, or free of Jews. The concept of ‘national liberation’ laid out here is identical, as there was no foreign oppressor these Zionists were fighting. They were fighting all along to ‘liberate’ the land from the Arab population themselves.
The equation between the Nakba and the Jewish exodus in the years following 1948 from the Arab states surrounding Israel, which was actively fought for by Israel against the original Arab response to Zionism, which, far from expelling Jews, involved banning emigration to Israel, is also mendacious.
This is the underlying issue that makes the whole ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign against the left an outrageous lie. The entire thrust of the Zionist campaign against Corbyn was anti-Arab racism right from the very start, and Corbyn’s leadership began to fail the moment he made concessions to that. And he, and Formby, made major concessions to the point that there was a competition between them and the right wing as to who were the best smearers against the genuine left.
There are quite a number of outrageously racist, pro-Zionist statements in the Corbynite material that is used to illustrate they are not soft on ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ at all: they can be just as racist as the right-wing when it comes to smearing the left. For instance, there is the following statement about the Nazi holocaust relative to other genocides, given the authority of both Corbyn and Chakrabarti:
“not only Holocaust revisionism, but also any attempt to ‘diminish’ the Holocaust through comparison with other genocides, had ‘no place in the Labour Party’”
This is clearly racist, and designed for the victimisation of non-Jewish oppressed minorities. It clearly states that other genocides and racist atrocities are of lesser importance than the genocide of Jews.
Why is this important? Because in social and economic terms, Jews are in a much stronger position than quite a number of non-white and Muslim oppressed populations today, and are in a position to exercise power over them. This is not an abstract and moralistic debate about which group was the most victimised in ancient history, but really about who oppresses whom today. And it is very clear from simple observation that Jews do not suffer today from disproportionate poverty, police harassment, racist deportations, massively disproportionate imprisonment, or habitually being targeted for racist attacks. Those in history whose victimisation and massacre the Labour Party deems less important than those that once suffered from anti-Semitism, do suffer from systematic oppression today.
Formby/Rich’s Zionist Blood-Libels: Black Socialists = David Duke!
This racist logic was in turn the grounds for the racist expulsions of the black-Jewish woman comrade Jackie Walker, for daring to ask why Holocaust Memorial Day does not commemorate the victims of slavery and colonialism, and long-time black activist Marc Wadsworth, who dared to complain that non-whites were being ignored and not represented at a Labour press conference that supposedly was about racism.
Both were falsely accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ and thrown out amid such smears, though it is notable that in neither case did the Labour Party dare to formally expel them for ‘anti-Semitism’ – it used the ‘disrepute’ clause instead. What was notable was that all through the saga of the prolonged suspensions of Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, the Corbynite leadership in classically cowardly fashion kept its head down and said nothing while the right-wing went for these comrades.
But this very Corbynite report clearly supports these expulsions, and reveals much about the thinking of the Corbynites and Formby. In the case of Jackie Walker, it make use of a letter from Dave Rich, a leader of the so-called Community Security Trust, to promote the following amalgam regarding her views on the co-responsibility of some Jews – some of which were her own ancestors – for slavery:
“This relates to an untrue and antisemitic theory that Jews were the major figures behind the slave trade. It is a theory that was first published in coherent form by Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam in a 1991 book called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. According to the Nation of Islam, the book “conclusively proved that Jews were in fact at the very center of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as merchants, financiers, shippers, and insurers and among the leading international marketers of the products of African slave labor.
“The theory that Jews were behind the slave trade is an antisemitic conspiracy theory specifically constructed to appeal to the black community and to divide them from the Jewish community. Farrakhan wrote and published his book in order to stir up antisemitism amongst African-Americans, as this article explains. The book has wider appeal, though, as antisemites of all types like it: for example David Duke; German Holocaust Deniers (this is from Germar Rudolf’s website); Islamist extremists at Radio Islam.”
So Jackie Walker’s observations as person of mixed heritage about the responsibility of her ancestors on one side for the oppression of her forebears on the other side, is twisted by this fascistic Zionist hack into an amalgam with David Duke, by involuntary association with Louis Farrakhan, who is in turn involuntarily associated with Duke!
It is worth noting that what Dave Rich and David Duke have in common is that they are both clearly supporters of racist oppression. Duke as a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan needs little introduction in that regard, though he has spent several decades after leaving that position trying to project a different image by dressing in smart suits rather than white sheets and running in Democrat and Republican primaries. But Dave Rich has views about Palestinians that are arguably not a million miles removed from those Duke holds about blacks, as shown by this passage from his book The Left’s Jewish Problem :
“Comparing the plight of the Palestinians with the Holocaust performs several functions. Its political goal is to undermine the idea that the Holocaust provided a moral justification and a practical need for the creation of a Jewish state.”
loc 2875, Kindle edition
This is linked, once again, with the racist perspective put forward in the passage from Corbyn quoted earlier about Zionism and the foundation of Israel as ‘national liberation’. It is pretty explicit in saying that the Nazi holocaust provides a moral justification for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. In other words, that the ‘practical need’ for a Jewish ethnic state overrides the rights of the Palestinians, and any demand that their rights be regarded as equal to those of Jews, and any assertion that systematic racism against them is on the same level as similar racism as Jews, is illegitimate as it undermines the ‘moral justification’ for a Jewish ethnic state being established at Palestinian expense. It is doubtful if David Duke would be so brazen today in denying the right of blacks to equality with whites. The racism of the people who put together this report is shocking.
And here is the real reason for the racist amalgam mentioned earlier between ‘Holocaust Revisionism’ and people who dare to say or believe that other genocidal acts of racial oppression in history can be legitimately compared with the Nazi genocide. As the newly Zionised Corbynite report says:
“not only Holocaust revisionism, but also any attempt to ‘diminish’ the Holocaust through comparison with other genocides, had ‘no place in the Labour Party’”
Translated, this means that any attempt to make ‘comparisons’ between other forms of racism and the past suffering of Jews is ‘anti-Semitic’ because it denies the right of racist Zionist Jews to claim their ‘national liberation’, and their ‘moral justification’ for oppressing others.
On this basis not only are Palestinians, descendants of those who were forcibly expelled from what is now Israel, excluded from their own homeland, as justified by the likes of Dave Rich citing the Nazi holocaust, but those Palestinians who managed to escape this fate and remain in their homeland, second class citizens. There is no equal ‘Israeli’ nationality; Israeli citizens are divided into Jewish, Arab and ‘other’ nationalities, and under both the old ‘Basic Law’ and the newer, more explicit ‘Jewish Nation State’ law, the state, the land, and the country itself, belong to the Jewish ‘nationality’, not all its citizens.
On the same basis, non-Jewish migrant workers who work in Israel are unable to obtain citizenship because they are not Jewish. There are a considerable number of mainly female Filipino migrants in Israel doing caring and domestic work. Woe betide any who get pregnant, as they face deportation as the idea of non-Jewish children being born in Israel is contrary to the ethos of this racist state.
Likewise Africans who have sought asylum, and been unfortunate enough to take refuge in Israel face racist campaigns to deport them on the grounds that “If we don’t stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state” says Netanyahu (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/may/20/israel-netanyahu-african-immigrants-jewish). This is what the ethnic nationalism that says that any equation of racism against other peoples with racism against Jews, implicit in the above amalgam, justifies in ideological terms. And one of Israeli’s most prominent Rabbis felt free to make a speech comparing black people with monkeys.
The Labour Party is now institutionally Jewish supremacist and therefore institutionally racist against all other oppressed groups, not just Arabs. This is why Jackie Walker was expelled for comparing the ‘African holocaust’ with the genocide of the Jews. This comparison can only be ‘offensive’ to someone who considers that black people are racially inferior to Jews and therefore black slavery and colonialist racist crimes are unworthy of being mentioned alongside the Nazi anti-Jewish genocide. This is particularly clear when you look at the murder of 10 million black African Congolese by King Leopold II’s Belgium at the turn of the 20th Century. Labour Party ‘guidance’ that forbids comparing the two events (Leopold’s crimes exceeded even Hitler’s!) express anti-black racial supremacism, pure and simple.
This is why Marc Wadsworth was expelled for complaining bitterly about the lack of representation of non-whites at a Labour press conference ostensibly to discuss racism, in which a well-known right-wing MP was seen to openly collude with the journalists from the foully racist Daily Telegraph, whose overt Zionism and dog-whistle racism against non-whites is no secret. In the Wadsworth case the case against him was so flimsy and obviously a complete and utter pack of lies that the Corbynite report-writers had difficulty in cobbling together a rationale for defending it at all. So they put together a feeble caricature of his defence campaign to justify suspending those who supported him.
As part of some ‘guidance’ on when to suspend members drawn up by Laura Murray, we find the following outrageous slur against his defenders (the ‘guidance’ is apparently divided into ‘columns’, with individual ‘columns’ dedicated to particular targets):
“One column is dedicated to ‘Defence of Marc Wadsworth’, and a suspension is recommended in cases where a defence of Marc Wadsworth involves ‘allegations that there is a Jewish war against black socialists such as Marc Wadsworth’.
Quite obviously this is an attack on the right to criticise the racism of Wadsworth’s accusers. The view that the smears against him had racist motivation is widely held, and completely obvious – a no-brainer. The smear that this is seen as a ‘Jewish war’ is worthy of a Sun journalist and implies that anyone who says his accusers, many of who were Jewish Zionists, were racist were accusing all Jews of being involved. But there is absolutely no reason why anyone would think that as many of Marc’s most outspoken defenders were strongly anti-racist Jewish Labour Party members. This is obviously a witchhunter’s racist fantasy, projecting their own racism onto anti-racists – a classic Zionist symptom.
The Labour Party may delude itself that because it attacks open white supremacism it cannot be institutionally racist. But Jewish-Zionist supremacism is a close relative of white supremacism, as the alliance of white supremacists and Zionists around Trump testifies, to the point that many of Trump’s white supremacist groupies embrace Zionism and give themselves political cover by calling themselves ‘white Zionists’. Embracing Jewish supremacism while denouncing white supremacism is an utterly duplicitous position. It amounts to throwing racism out by the front door only to allow it to stroll back in by the same front door with a rather obvious disguise.
This is so because in this period of neoliberal reaction Jewish-Zionist supremacism and white supremacism are partners. While there are some tensions at times between Jewish-Zionist supremacism and white supremacism, the former is usually the senior partner. Precisely because the history of the 20th Century inflicted material and ideological defeats on white supremacism, but in the same period Jewish-Zionist supremacism became much more powerful because of the creation of Israel as a transplanted capitalist-imperialist power in the Middle East, joining the dominant imperialist forces worldwide. So much so that its supporters, reactionaries emerging from the Jewish people who had provided many of the victims of the previous wave of world reaction prior to WWII, i.e. fascism and particularly Nazism, played a major role in bringing into being the current wave of world reaction that threatens the world with barbarism, that is post-WWII capitalism in its neoliberal form.
Such is the weight of Zionist racist bigotry and corruption of the right-wing of the Party that both the Zionists and the Corbynite converts to pro-Zionist witchhunting have had to confess, albeit in a manner that is remarkable in its disingenuousness, that what they falsely characterise as a wave of ‘anti-Semitism’ was provoked by the behaviour of the right-wing themselves. Thus the Corbynite report quotes the Zionist right-winger Adam Langleben making this strange admission:
“The blame I think, lies with the moderates who ran the Labour Party in the run-up to Jeremy Corbyn’s election. In that, by creating an atmosphere where anyone who had tweeted that they once voted Green was expelled or suspended or their membership was revoked from the Labour Party, it enabled a conspiracy theory to develop around the idea that the Labour establishment was trying to stop people from taking part in Labour Party democracy. And I think that was the sort of root as to how this sort of antisemitic conspiratorial thinking started in the party.”
But of course, as the report itself makes clear, the Labour apparatus was indeed involved in massive corruption, frameups and lies against Corbyn-supporters in 2015 and again during the ‘chicken coup’ in 2016. Even that bureaucratic chicanery is the tip of a very huge iceberg. The elephant in the room is the domination of the Labour Party right-wing, and now the party itself through Starmer, by organised racists, the JLM and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) supporters of this racist Middle Eastern imperialist state that is involved in a slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people, now being manifested by Israel seeking to stop Palestinians protecting their people from Covid-19, closing clinics etc.
In around 99% of the cases of supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ documented in the report, the ‘evidence’ is simply doctored, mangled mendacious rubbish designed to slander left-wing, anti-racist people as anti-Jewish racists. But in a marginal number of cases, sometimes involving people not even on the left, there is evidence of some confusion about things like the truth of the Nazi genocide, and similar things.
In fact it not only the anti-democratic bureaucratism that Langleben confesses to that gave rise to that marginal phenomenon, but even more the blindingly obvious racism of the corrupt bureaucrats themselves. Insofar any marginal manifestations of genuine, incipient anti-Semitic rhetoric have crept into this situation at all, this is similar to the confusion about WWII and European history that sometimes manifests itself in the Middle East, the Arab world, and even among a fringe of very alienated anti-racist Jewish people. This fringe aspect, insofar as it exists, is entirely the responsibility of the Zionist racists who dominate the Labour Party and proved it by destroying Corbyn’s leadership.
Zionism, Neo-Liberalism and World Reaction
This brings us to the question of how it is possible, in terms of Marxist sociology and materialist analysis, that a far-right, bourgeois supremacist trend such as Zionism can come to play such an unusual role in the British Labour Party. Why is it that all candidates for the Labour leadership election that were voted on by the membership should swear what amounts to an oath of loyalty to the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD), a Jewish communal group that whose leaders were quite open about their applause for the Conservative Party in the recent General Election? A group who applauded the ascent of the candidate of the nationalist right, Boris Johnson, to the leadership of that party a few months earlier? This has to be one of the weirdest events in British Labour history.
This is very strange if you consider that Labour is a bourgeois workers party that was founded by parts of the labour bureaucracy under pressure from below, to give partial expression to the desire of the British working class for some sort of independent class party of their own. The party was always fundamentally deformed by the pressure of imperialism; its form of class politics always had pretty tame limits. Its bureaucracy always had a strategy of seeking crumbs for the workers from the table of British imperialism and later of the United States as British imperialism declined and increasingly became a junior partner of the US. However it did have a sense of party and class sentiment even when it involved itself in coalition agreements with bourgeois parties to its right. The idea that it would invite supporters of its main opponent party to interfere in its leadership election, in the guise of representing an ethnic minority closely associated with an overseas imperialist power, and offer such people control over its membership and disciplinary processes, is pretty strange.
One thing the Labour Party is not is a tribune of the oppressed. If Jews today were an oppressed group subjected to systematic discrimination and marginalisation in British society, then they would struggle to obtain any sympathy at all from the Labour establishment. Racial abuse of oppressed minorities is rife in Labour: the abuse of Labour’s most prominent black female political figure, Diane Abbott, far exceeds that directed against any other. Yet Zionist Jews as a particular minority communal group are able to get special treatment to the sense that all candidates for the leadership pledge it their special protection.
All through the report, the phrase “Jewish stakeholders” keeps occurring. It’s an intriguing concept and very revealing. Only Jews, and only pro-Israeli Jews at that, are referred to in this way. No other ethnic minority groups, or their organisations, are referred to as ‘stakeholders’. The way it is used and the deference shown to these ‘stakeholders’ by the apparatus on both sides of the divide, is such that the word ‘stakeholders’ comes almost to have the sense of ‘shareholders’. Ordinary Labour Party members are certainly not treated as ‘stakeholders’. Actually the use of this term makes it quite clear that the Corbynite authors of the report quite consciously see Zionist Jews, those who defend the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, as a rightly privileged group within the Labour Party, even those Zionist Jews who openly support the Conservative Party. The authors of the report clearly think this is good and proper. To others, it is both racist, and deeply bizarre, counterposed to the very existence of Labour as a supposed party of ‘labour’.
The question is: what does this signify? Actually it signifies the renewed dominance over the Labour Party of neo-liberalism, and the party’s incipient liquidation as in any meaningful sense a political expression of the workers as a class. Neoliberalism has re-taken the Labour Party after an aberrant, almost accidental, period of ascendancy of the left. But the leaders of that left capitulated under sustained political pressure from the neoliberal wing of the party, which is not really analogous to an old-fashioned labour bureaucracy in the mould of the party apparatus in the days of Keir Hardie, Ramsay MacDonald, Anuerin Bevan, Harold Wilson and Michael Foot.
The old type labour bureaucracies rested on mass working class organisations where workers to a very large extent worked in mines, factories and other large workplaces or concentrations of workplaces that had a real collectivity and class consciousness and were able to keep the privileged labour bureaucracies to a degree in check. There were limits to what such old style labour bureaucracies could get away with.
But there are very few limits to what the neoliberal ‘left’ bureaucracy can get away with. Such collectivism was linked to the classic reign of what is known as finance capital, the original basis of imperialism, which Lenin correctly defined as the union of industrial capital and banking capital, which sought to dominate the world through the export of part of its capital, and particularly sought domination over the underdeveloped parts of the world through colonialism and struggle to redivide the world and monopolise markets and sources of raw materials.
However, there has been a further development of imperialist capital beyond these classical forms, catalysed by the further decay of capitalism as classically expressed in Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. The fall in the rate of profit meant that the classical unity of industrial and banking capital exploiting a large scale industrial proletariat in the advanced countries became less and less profitable, and so industrial capital increasingly sought to do away with the proletariat, or as much of it as possible, in the classical imperialist countries, and migrated to underdeveloped countries in search of cheap labour to manufacture goods, the bulk of which at least initially were still for realisation in the advanced countries, thus raising the rate of profit. At the same time, the further decline in profit rates gave rise to drives in the imperialist centres to privatise everything that moved. Everything from prisons to public housing, from air traffic control to schools to hospital cleaning to probation officers, everything that could possibly if privatised be squeezed to obtain a morsel of profit and hence raise the overall rate of profit, was so privatised.
This also modified the phenomenon of finance capital as a fusion of banking and industrial capital. The migration of important sections of industrial capital from the main imperialist countries, even though the funding, as before, came from the imperialist banking arm, produced a geographical separation between industrial and banking capital even though they remained a unity under the system of finance capital. This produced an emanation of finance capital which some Marxists, entirely reasonably, call financial capital, to distinguish it from finance capital in its classical form. Its function is not the methodical exploitation of the proletariat to generate surplus value, but tricks and novel methods of seemingly extracting value from nothing, by such means as the creation of asset price inflation (closely linked to the concept of ‘fictitious capital’), ‘futures’, or other innovative ‘financial products’ which also have the effect of seemingly conjuring up new value from nothing. Such as credit-default-swaps, which played a major role in the late-2000s financial crisis. Of course, speculation is not new under imperialism, but there are also questions of degree.
All these things today, more than in the earlier period of imperialist finance capital, constitute a unity. Indeed a key part of Marxist analysis and Marxist economics today must consist of the unravelling and detailed elaboration of how these things work. That is not the purpose here, however. It is rather to paint a broad-brush picture of what is going on as pointers for further work.
The classic era of finance capital was the period between the two world wars and in some ways the personification of finance capital, in its pure form, was fascism and Nazism. The state became simply the servant of finance capital, and employed both its own forces and an extra-legal army of plebeian, but anti-proletarian, thug-auxiliaries to forcibly brutalise and intimidate the concentrated industrial proletariat into conformity and compliance with the dictates of finance capital. This was only possible because of the betrayals of the labour bureaucracies, both social-democratic and Stalinist, of those imperialist countries, who between them colluded with the imperialist bourgeoisie to defeat revolutionary trends in the main advanced countries.
Today, with the modified finance capital and the expansion of financial capital and its increased importance, we see a different kind of capitalist reaction. Instead of the corporate state, in the mould of Mussolini, where capital appeared to fuse with a powerful economic state, we see the minimal economic state being touted, in the spirit of the likes of Ayn Rand, a key neoliberal ideologue, where the state is supposed to leave the economy alone as much as possible and merely act as an enabler for money making.
These are different models of capitalist reaction, which belong to different eras, fascism in the early period of imperialism, neoliberal reaction today. Both seek to subjugate the proletariat, fascism by brute force and political atomisation, neoliberalism by using economics to undermine the cohesion of the proletariat as a force within the classical imperialist nation-state by exporting their jobs and reducing them to insecure mass casualisation at best, if not starvation and permanent lumpenisation. This has also produced a nationalist, pro-imperialist backlash, as per Brexit and Trump.
This modified period of imperialism, where financial capital has become qualitatively more ascendant than in earlier periods of capitalist imperialism, is what we live under today. The key reactionary figures of finance capital now are not the Hitlers and Mussolinis, but the Friedmans, the Hayeks, the Rands, the Thatchers and Reagans, the Trumps and Boris Johnsons. Not the street-fighting leaders of brownshirts and dictatorships centred on industrial power, but the ideologues of the social and political dominance of money makers above all others, and the social marginalisation of the working class. Though that does not exclude, in turn, the emergence of neo-liberalised forms of fascism also, indeed these are also manifest today in the Tommy Robinson type milieu. But they are marginal.
In any case, this is what has undermined the Labour Party, and produced a new breed of ‘labour’ politician who is not a mere servant of finance capital in a political sense, like the old labour bureaucrats who fought for national welfare states and supported their ‘own’ imperialist countries’ struggles to maintain imperial influence, while trying to ‘humanise’ this imperialism. The old Labour bureaucracy was personified by Attlee, who while conceding independence to India (he really had no choice) nevertheless fought brutal colonial wars in Malaysia (including Singapore) and Indonesia, also helping the French back into Indo-China, and crushed the nascent Kenyan independence movement and workers movement. This kind of social chauvinism linked ‘welfare’ to support for colonial oppression.
But it is somewhat different to the ‘labourism’ of Blair and Peter Mandelson, with his infamous statement as to how Labour is ‘intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich”. The former was subordination to finance capital, the latter is subordination to financial capital. This is not, by the way, a moral difference. Both of these things are deeply reactionary and the social-imperialism of old-Labour was itself mortally antagonistic to socialism. It is however a sociological difference – the old social imperialist bureaucracy still had a material connection to organised labour, if only as a parasite upon it. Whereas New Labour has no such necessary connection at all.
And this is where Zionism comes in. The ideologues of reaction based on finance capital were not generally Zionists, or particularly sympathetic to ‘national’ aspirations of Jews at all. They tended to regard Jews with suspicion, in part because of the role of many prominent revolutionary Jewish intellectuals in the workers movement in the earlier period of capitalism, a reactionary suspicion which to a degree made the dominant ideologues of finance capital somewhat suspicious of even Jewish bourgeois. Their model of capitalism involved the banks financing the development of industrial capital; speculation was regarded as a source of instability if anything.
But after the second world war, with defeat of Nazi Germany, the profound discredit of fascism and Nazism, the formation of the state of Israel, and the long boom occasioned by the newly conquered world hegemony of US imperialism, a boom that lasted for nearly three decades, new forms of reaction emerged in the form of neo-liberalism in which Zionists played a crucial role. Look at the ideologues of neo-liberalism: while some, such as Thatcher and Hayek, were not Jewish, many other prominent ideologues, such as Rand, Friedman, Joseph, Sherman, Kissinger (one of the key architects of the Pinochet coup which used the Chilean people as guinea pigs for Friedman’s theories) were both Jewish and strongly pro-Zionist.
This incidence of Jewish-Zionists playing a prominent role in neo-liberal politics is just as striking at the prominent role that Jewish intellectuals played in the early working class and revolutionary movement. Both have deep roots in Jewish history; the progressive ideologues in the history of struggle against persecution and oppression that particularly arose in the late medieval and early capitalist eras when the Jewish merchant people-class, as Abram Leon described them, a commodity trading but not commodity-producing class in pre-capitalist societies where production was not generally for sale on the market, was rendered obsolete by the rise of capitalism as an economic system based on generalised commodity production.
The counterposition between the unambiguously progressive role of Jews in the working class movement in the pre-Hitler period (indeed that is precisely why Hitler had so many Jews murdered), and the reactionary role of Jewish-Zionists today, is a concrete example of why no people in history can be said to be either wholly progressive or wholly reactionary. It is also an example of how in the real world, Hegel’s observation about phenomena being transformed into their opposites, is manifested in reality.
But what we are interested in here is in accounting for the role of Zionism in neo-liberal capitalism. This is obviously simply a product of the fact that Jews, even today, are the remnants of a medieval commodity and money-trading class, which has long since dissolved into other classes. Insofar as a remnant of this trading and financial class was assimilated to the modern bourgeoisie, it tended to be biased towards that part of modern capitalism that was more concerned with money-trading and the like. Hence the connection of Jews with financial capital is no great mystery in class terms.
What to do now?
And likewise the role of Zionism in a dissolving bourgeois workers party whose bureaucrats and privileged layers are in transition from being lackeys of finance capital in the old sense, with its more concentrated industry and proletariat, to being lackeys of today’s imperialism with its qualitative enhancement of financialised capital. In a sense the phenomenon of a bourgeois workers party becomes obsolete when the bourgeoisie becomes interpenetrated with the elite of such a party though financialisation and the professionalisation of the bureaucratic elites, who then become socially very similar to the financial elite, no longer really a caste of labour bureaucrats in the old sense. To a degree this has also happened to large, white collar trade unions, but much more with the elite of a bourgeois labour party, which really is wide open to such a transformation into a naked tool of the wealthy.
Thus properly understood, the Blairisation and Zionisation of Labour heralds the destruction, the undermining, of the historic possibility of that kind of party which embodies a class contradiction, the bourgeois workers party, as subservience to the bourgeoisie leads, in this day of deindustrialisation, low profit rates and financialisation, to the party becoming very visibly a tool of the super-rich, and thus losing its whole reason for existence. This is known as Pasokification, after the miserable decline of the Greek social democratic organisation PASOK after it capitulated wholesale to neoliberalism. PASOK’s role was filled by the rise of SYRIZA, which looks to be at the beginning of a similar decline after it too capitulated to austerity in the Greek debt crisis of the early 2010s.
The strategic aim of Marxists in working with layers of militants such as those who are currently leaving the Labour Party in droves and beginning to coalesce around initiatives such as that of Chris Williamson, has to be to create a genuine working class party, where the functionaries are materially and politically subordinate to the working class membership, not the other way round. A key part of the political basis for such a party must be to draw a very hard line against Zionism, which is playing an insidious role as an anti-working class, destructive far-right force, seeking to destroy any trace of working class politics and consciousness in Labour. But the possibility of such regressions can only be fully overcome by the struggle for political clarity and for a revolutionary programme that can consciously put an end to capitalism itself.
It is true that the labour movement started in Europe during the industrial revolution. Previously, the idea faced great resistance. However, the labour movement was active in the early to mid-nineteenth century and various labour parties and trade unions were formed throughout the industrialised world. The labour movement has a very long past in this region, though industrialisation took place very late in Bangladesh. The beginning of labour agitation in the Indian sub-continent was in Bengal.
In 1860, there was a strong protest against the inhuman working conditions and hardship of cultivation workers. A further organised form of trade union activities in this region was started thereafter. Unfortunately, illiteracy and disunity among workers, the negative attitude of employers and unnecessary politicization hampered trade union growth in Bangladesh. This article made an attempt to analyse the historical context as well as the plight of the industrial workers and trade unions and their impact on the overall productivity of the workers in Bangladesh.
The trade union movement in Bangladesh has a very long history. The beginning of labour agitation in India was in Bengal. In 1860 in Bengal a noted dramatics and social reformer Dinbandhu Mitra along with some of his journalist friends protested the inhuman working conditions and hardship of cultivation workers. He wrote a drama title Nil Darpan. A drama about slave like behavior to worker by the cultivator Nil. This drama had a great impact in the minds of people and the social elite. People realized the deplorable and inhuman conditions of workers. This was beginning of the labour movement.
Some years latter, in 1875 Sarobji Shapuri in Bombay made a protest against poor working conditions and brought this to the notice of the Secretary of State for India. The first Factory Commission was, thereafter, appointed in 1875 and as a result the Factories Act,1881 was enacted. But this Act did not reflect the aspirations of workers. There was no provision for child labour and women workers. Another Factory Commission was appointed in 1884. In the same year a conference of the Bombay (presently Mumbai) factory workers organised by N.M. Lokhande had demanded a complete day of rest on Sunday, half an hour recess each working day, working hours between 6.30 a.m. and sunset, the payment of wages not later than 15th of the month, and compensation for injuries.
In 1889, in Bombay, workers from spinning and weaving mills demanded Sunday as a holiday, regularity in the payment of wages, and adequate compensation in cases of accidents. But trade union activities in this region of the Indian sub-continent started in the 18th century.
The trade union movement then was generally led by philanthropists and social reformers who organised workers and protected them against inhuman working conditions. One of them was Anusuyaben Sarabhai. She was daughter of a mill agent in Ahmedabad. She had visited England and seen for herself trade union activities there. After returning to India in 1914, she began working among textile workers and poorer sections of the society in Ahmedabad.
She established schools and welfare centres and worked for the betterment of the workers and poor people. In 1917, the workers of Ahmedabad mills resorted to a strike to demand an increase in wages. Anusuyaben was among the leadership in that strike. Ahmedabad textile workers organised themselves in a trade union under her leadership on December 4, 1917. it is notable that the Russian socialist revolution also influenced Indian working people.
The strike was a success and workers got a wage increase. The first regular Union was formed in Ahmedabad in 1920 for the Trestle Department Workers. This was followed by different trade- or craft-based Unions. The same year another trade union was formed in Madras with the name of Madras Labour Union. This was formed by B.P. Wadia under the leadership and guidance of Dr. Mrs. Annie Besant. But the growth of the trade union movement gained momentum at the end of the First World War. Industry and trade had grown following the War. Many trade unions were formed throughout India. There were a number of strikes during 1919 to 1922. The Russian Bolshevik Revolution created a reaction in India, as it did elsewhere.
The Bolshevik triumph demonstrated that an organised working-class movement could seize state power. The communist movement in India organised the workers in trade unions with as objectives: first, to secure immediate goals such as higher salaries and better working conditions; and ultimate goal to build a long-range movement that would topple the bourgeois state and free India from British rule. This speeded up the pace of the trade union movement. In 1920 the All-India Trade Union Congress was formed. This was initiated by forces of different ideology. The communist and also nationalist forces were there.
Later, after the independence of India, the labour leader associated with the National Congress Party left AITUC and formed the Indian National Trade Union Congress in 1947. The colonial ruler finally introduced the Indian Trade Union Act, 1926. Before that the Indian workers were denied the fundamental rights of freedom of association. The Indian Trade Union act, 1926 was enacted with a view “to provide for the registration of Trade Unions and in certain respects to define the law relating to registered trade unions.” The right to strike and lock-out were ultimately recognised in India indirectly under the provisions of the Indian Trade Dispute Act, 1929.
The act provided for an ad-hoc Conciliation Board and Court of Inquiry for the settlement of trade disputes. The Act prohibited strikes and lock-outs in public utility services and general strikes affecting the community as a whole. In Pakistan era there were three main national centres in the then East Pakistan: the East Pakistan Federation of Labour, the Mazdoor Federation and the communist-led Purbo Pakistan Sramik Federation. Beside these central federations, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP)-led Chotkal Sramik Federation had a great and significant role in organising jute mill workers. The jute mill workers strikes in 1964 and 1967 were launched by this industrial federation.
In the March 1971 civil disobedience movement against the Pakistani Military rulers, trade unions had played an important role. They virtually took over management of industry and executed the orders they received from Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
After the independence of Bangladesh, the government had to take over the industries and establishments that were abandoned when the owners left Bangladesh for Pakistan. After independence the ownership structure in the industrial sector was: Pakistani Private Ownership: 47% EPIDC: 34% Bangladeshi Owners: 18% Foreign Owners: 1% Abandoned industries and EPIDC. Together this was 81% and was taken over in March, 1972 of which 77% were kept nationalised and the remaining 4% were offered for sale.
These taken-over industries were put under different sector corporations.
Furthermore Jute, Textile, Sugar and Financial Institutions and big industries were nationalised. Suddenly trade unions found they had to play a big role to manage and run the industries and establishments in absence of owners and managers, which they were not prepared for. For time being they became managers of many industries and establishments. Many self-seekers had also joined trade unions to seek personal gain. In 1972, Bangladesh adopted the Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969 with a view to regulating labour relations and disputes in the country. May Day, the 1st of May was declared a national holiday. An Industrial Worker’s Wage Commission was constituted in 1973 to fix wage levels and other benefits for the industrial workers in the public sector. The State-owned Manufacturing Industries Workers (Terms and Conditions of Service) Act was enacted to implement the wage scale and fringe benefits determined by the wage commission.
Restrictions and Bans on Trade Union Activities:
After the liberation of Bangladesh workers enjoyed a great deal of freedom and trade union rights. Most of the plant level trade unions had joined with the ruling party trade union center Jatiyo Sramik League. Many new plant level trade unions were registered. The trade unions were powerful contenders for authority over factories, mills and establishments abandoned by previous owners and subsequently taken over by the government. The political local elite had joined trade unions to control and benefit from the taken-over industries and establishments. Traditionally most of the workers were from outside of the workplace localities and from different districts and now local people wanted to have jobs there, as industrial workers were better paid than in the informal sector.
There were many riots between locals and non-locals in different industrial districts. The worst situation had arisen in the Chittagong and Tongi industrial districts. The local ruling party leadership, in order to grab the unions there, had started agitation against non-local workers, for the trade union leadership were non-locals. Control over the trade unions would gain the local elite gains much. The first being that they can buy the products at the mill rates and sell on the market at high rates; second they can supply raw materials to the mills at high rates, and third by inducting their own people as workers and employees they can have control over the establishment and local politics. The mill rates and market rates of cotton yarn, fabric, jute product, butter oil and many other products differ very much. One could become millionaire overnight by having a dealership of Kohinoor Chemical Company, a cosmetic and toiletries industries, or have an allotment of the quota for cotton yarn from Muslin Cotton Mills of Kapasia or a quota of the allotment of matches from Dhaka Match Factory of Postogola.
Agenda and issues of Trade Union Movement:
There was a shift of government in August 1975, which was followed by a shift in economic policy as well. The socialistic policy of the Mujib government was abandoned and privatisations began, which were initiated by the succeeding government of Ziaur Rahman. Privatisation started with disinvestment and denationalisation of state owned enterprises (SOEs). All the governments till now continued the same economic policy. The present Awami League government in order to make the privatisation process of SOE’s faster formed a new institution called The Privatisation Broad, which is entrusted with the responsibility of selling off those SOEs identified for privatisation. Among disinvested industries a government survey from ministry of industries has found a few of them only running fully, some are partially and a large number are not functioning at all. The workforce in those industries has been drastically reduced.
The leading sectors like jute and textile where traditionally trade union movement was strong got weakened due to loss of the jobs of their members. To protect employment and trade union rights trade unions got united, formed Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (SKOP) in 1983, and launched a series of action programmes to press their demands including job security, higher wages, trade union rights and others. In 1984, government and SKOP came to an agreement that a wages commission be set up to recommend a new wage structure. But it was implemented only in the public sector. Another important issue was the job security of disinvested industries and no further disinvestment without consulting workers. This part of the agreement was also not respected by the government. There was also an agreement that the government form a commission to draft a democratic labour legislation.
National Minimum Wage:
At present the main agenda of the Trade Union movement is a National Minimum Wage. But there is tremendous opposition from the employers to fixing a national minimum wage. They argue it should be sector wise. There are many sectors whose employers have no ability to pay such a minimum wage. Trade Unions argue that the Minimum Wage has to be looked upon as a basic right, a minimum requirement for leading a healthy working and social life. This will have to be uniform for all. They further argue that the labour is not a commodity. It is both, input into production as well as the object of production. Minimum wages are a signal to society that this is what is expected and nobody will fall under. It is also a very important incentive for business to upgrade, for certain wage structures force competitive high roads by cutting wages and degrading working conditions. Trade Unions also demand that there should be regular readjustments of wages in line with the rate of inflation.
Violation of trade union rights;
From the beginning of 80’s a new non-traditional industry, the garments industry has emerged. And now the growth of employment there nearly is 45 lakh (4.5 million) and the workforce mostly are women and not organised in trade unions. The employers do not allow workers to form trade unions. The Ministry of Labour is suspiciously silent about violations of trade union rules. The government also forbids trade union activities in the EPZ (Export Processing Zone).
Now, government is having pressure put upon it from the USA and also from the ILO to open up trade union activities in EPZ. Industries in the EPZ’s are allowed duty-free imports of raw materials and other components; they do not have to pay excise duty on local goods and are eligible for tax holidays. The idea is to create an environment that is conducive to facing competition in the export market. So that investors will be attracted to invest here and it will increase employment, revenue and technology transfer. All most all EPZ’s elsewhere offer similar packages to foreign investors.
Now the questions are these, how much local employment is being generated by these industries in EPZ’s and how much transfer of technology has taken place in reality from these industries? How much port and other charges have we received from them, how much profit sharing we could make from them? Till now existing two EPZs employ less than one lakh (100,000) workers and most of the industries here are textiles, shoes and other small scale industries where small number of workers are employed and no high technology is adopted.
But we are offering these investors remarkable amounts of land, power supply, infrastructure facilities etc. The question is also why should trade union activities be prohibited there? The government cannot restrict human rights of its citizens for the cost of foreign investment? Moreover, this is not the only issue that investors need. Peace and non-disturbance in worker relations will certainly attract the foreign investors, but the foreign investors are also need congenial atmosphere, infrastructure like banking, communication support and facilities, those are more important to them than the benefit of no trade union activities.
The Structure of Trade Unions:
The Industrial Relations Ordinance, 1969 (as amended up or date) is intended to regulate trade union activities and permit workers to organise themselves into trade unions. The trade union is required to be registered with the Register of Trade Unions. The trade unions in Bangladesh may be divided in structure into three categories, the first is basic trade union – a primary organisation of workers at their workplace. The second is the Industrial Federation or trade federation compose of a number of basic trade unions related to the same type of industry, such as Jute Workers Federation, Textile Workers Federation, Garments Workers Federations, and the third is National Trade Union, a federation of basic unions irrespective of job categories.
A National Federation may be constituted by two or more basic trade unions irrespective of their trade. Apart from these there are craft unions, though there are not many. This is organised craft-wise like Railway Karigar Union, an union of technicians of Bangladesh Railway or Biman Cabin Crew union. Non-employees and non-workers cannot be elected to the committees of a basic trade union but can be elected to the committee of Industrial Federation and National Federations. But they cannot be more than 20% of the total number of committee members.
Under the rules no unregistered trade union or federation of trade unions can function as a trade union. In case there is only one registered trade union in an establishment or a group of establishments, that trade union is deemed to be a collective bargaining agent for that establishment or group, provided it has a minimum membership of one-third of the total number of workers employed in the establishment or group of establishments. In case there is more than one registered trade union, upon receipt of an application from any trade union or management of the establishment, the Register of Trade Unions determines the bargaining agent through a secret ballot for a period of two years. But they have to get a minimum of one-third of the total number of votes of the workers employed in the establishment or group.
There was no restriction before for non-workers to be members of trade unions; the restriction came when the then-military government amended the Industrial Relations Ordinance on 26th July 1980. The tradition and history of trade unions of Bangladesh was always that non-workers took leading roles in organising the trade unions. It is always social or political activists who organise the trade unions. The neighbouring countries of Bangladesh like Sri Lanka, India and others have no restrictions on this, only the proportion of committee members from outside is defined.
The ILO’s conventions also do not have any restrictions on outsiders. Trade unions have to submit an annual statement of their income and expenditure, assets and liabilities in the prescribed form to the Register of Trade Unions, the changes of office bearers should also be intimated to the Register of Trade Unions. A person shall not be entitled to be a member or officer of a trade union formed in any establishment or group of establishments if he is not actually employed or engaged in the establishment or group of establishments.
Registration of Trade Unions:
For the registration of trade unions the applicants have to apply to the Joint Director of Labour and Register of Trade Unions while fulfilling certain requirements and procedures. For Industrial and national federation or national unions the Director of Labour and Register of Trade Unions office is responsible for registration. The National Union means those have members throughout the country – such as banks, railways and others. The trade union executive committee shall consist of 5 to 30 people depending on its membership. Up until l 50 members the committee will consists of 5 persons, and 30 committee members where there are more than 5000 union members. The applicants for union registration have to submit all the applications of membership of the proposed union in a prescribed form and also the register of membership, and the resolution of the meeting where the decision was taken to form a trade union, a list of committee members, a list of general members and the constitution of the union along with the application.
The constitutions should provide the name of the trade union, objects for which the trade union has been established, purpose for which the general fund of a trade union shall be applicable, the maintenance of a list of the members of the trade union, the admission of who shall be persons actually or potentially employed in an industry or establishment with which the trade union is connected, the payment of a subscription by members of the trade union, the executive and the other office-bearers of the trade union shall be appointed and removed, the manner in which the rules shall be amended, safe custody of funds and audit, the manner in which the trade union may be dissolved. The State-owned Manufacturing Industries Workers Ordinance, 1985 restricts collective bargaining in the nationalised sector on certain issues like wages, leave, house rent, conveyance allowances, medical allowances, festival bonuses and provident funds. A number of Acts and Ordinances provide that the Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969 shall not apply to certain establishments.
Labour Movement (to 1947)
Prior to 1947, there were only a few industrial concerns in the eastern part of Bengal (Present day Bangladesh). These included about 25 tea gardens in Chittagong and Sylhet employing about 12,000 labourers, 6 cotton textile mills (four in Dhaka and one each in Kushtia and Khulna) employing about 10,000 workers. There were also some workers in Chittagong port. The tea-estate labourers were mainly recruited from aboriginal tribes of Chhotanagpur region. Others were mostly local people from both Hindu and Muslim communities.
The first signs of labour unrest were seen during the days of the khilafat and non-cooperation movements (1920-22). The striking tea-garden workers from Chargola Valley in Sylhet (Assam) left the gardens in an exodus. Men of the East Bengal Railways and Chandpur Steamer Services started sympathetic strikes in May 1921. Striking coolies, stranded at Chandpur, faced great hardships. But it was politically regarded as a great victory of the Bengal Non-cooperators. Finally in August 1921, at Gandhi’s request, the strike was called off. The unrest in Chittagong by Burma Oil Co workers in April-May 1921 under the leadership of JM Sengupta created quite a stir.
In 1927, the Dhakeswari Cotton Mills Workers’ Union was founded. But the union was weakened by a series of strikes called within four months of its formation. Due to the Great Depression the labour movement, however, slowed down. The communist activists were mainly behind the movement but the non-communists like the official Congress and anushilan samiti, backed by the management opposed the communists’ tactics of militancy and thus acted as a constraint on any long-drawn movement. The cotton workers’ strikes in 1937-40 may be regarded as the turning point of the movement both in frequency and intensity. Mention may be made of four strikes in Mohini Mills, Kusthia (Feb-May, 1937; July-September, 1937; August-October 1939 and February-April, 1940) and the strikes in the Dhakeswari Mills (July 1939 and January-February, 1940). The movement failed to generate steam. Naturally it had a demoralising effect on the Communist-dominated Workers’ Union and no further movement was on record up to 1947. The Wartime was a period of ‘uneasy calm’ in Dhaka. The immediate post-war years witnessed the revival of militant labour agitation leading to strikes in Acharya Prafulla Chandra Mill, Khulna (December 1945 – January 1946) and the four mills in Dhaka (February-May 1946).
Since 1942 the Chittagong tea garden workers were connected with the activities of the local Communist Party. They organised a few strikes around specific economic issues in the post-World War II period, with little success. With the partition, the Communist organisers, mostly Hindus, left for India. The immigrant tea-labourers of Chhotanagpur had no desire to go back to their place of origin. Left without leaders, the labour organisation became very weak. The workers of EB Railways were best organised and politically most conscious. But they were divided between nationalist and Communist dominated unions.
Trade Union Movement
The trade union movement organised activities of workers to improve their working conditions. In the early stage of industrial development when there were personal contacts between employers (master) and workers (employee), there was no need of any organisation to determine relations between the two. But under the modern factory system the personal touch is absent and the relations between the employer and the worker have come under strain. The conflict of interests between buyer and seller of labour power has become conspicuous and this has led to the rise of trade union movements throughout the world. The tradition of the parallel development of the nationalist and the trade union movement, which had originated in British India continued through the Pakistan period down to the birth of Bangladesh.
For the first time in India the Bombay Mill Hands Association was formed on 24 April 1890. This gave impetus to the trade union movement in British India. The establishment of ILO in 1919 provided a source of inspiration for the workers to organise themselves and shape their destiny. India’s membership of the same exerted great influence in the formation of a central organisation of workers called ‘All India Trade Union Congress’ (AITUC) in 1920 for the purpose of conducting and co-ordinating the activities of the labour organisations.
The period from 1924 to 1935 may be considered as the era of the revolutionary trade union movement. MN Roy, Muzaffer Ahmed, SA Dange and Shawkat Osmani led the trade union movements and as a result the political consciousness among industrial workers increased. To control the movement, the British government adopted ruthless measures (eg, Kanpore Conspiracy Case and Meerat Conspiracy Case) against the militant workers and trade union leaders, but no strategy could suppress the trade union movement; rather the colonial resistance invigorated the movement against the colonial power. Later, the trade union movement was closely linked with nationalist movements and the working class started vigorous struggle for emancipation from extreme repression and economic exploitation by the colonial regime.
At the time of Partition of Bengal (1947), most trade union leaders were Hindus and when they migrated to India, a void was created in leadership in the trade union movement of Pakistan, especially in its eastern wing. Moreover, the institutions to advance workers’ interests were mostly situated in areas outside Pakistan. There were barely 75 registered trade unions in the whole of Pakistan, compared to 1,987 in undivided India in 1946. Of this small number of trade unions, the larger share fell to West Pakistan, leaving only a very few for the eastern wing, where there were only 141 factories with 28,000 workers and 30 unions in all with a total of 20,000 members.
During the Pakistan period most trade union leaders held conflicting views and the trade unions were fragmented and weakened. As a result, the trade union movement met a setback and the trade union activities passed into the hands of petty bourgeoisie leadership. Moreover, the trade union movement in Pakistan was characterised by fragmentation of unions, prolonged strikes, retaliatory lockouts and picketing which sometimes led to violence.
As the trade union movement in Bangladesh originated in British India and Pakistan, it naturally retained its old character of working more as a nationalist force against colonial domination than as a class force vis-a-vis capitalist exploitation. As a result, the trade union movement of the region that had gained momentum in the hands of political leaders stood divided along the political and/or ideological lines in independent Bangladesh.
During this period, the trade union movement was marked by direct interference by the government and the ruling party in its internal affairs. In many industrial belts terrorism was let loose by the men of the labour front of the then ruling party and these tried to drive out the honest trade unionists from the leadership of the unions. Moreover, the barring of outsiders from trade union leadership at the basic union level made the process of union hijacking very easy and turned the workers into a very weak and defenceless community.
In the early 1980s, the military government of Bangladesh banned all trade union activities in the country. Then an alliance of the National Federation of Trade Unions (NFTUs) emerged in the name of SRAMIK KARMACHARI OIKYA PARISHAD (SKOP) to establish the democratic rights of workers as well as to fulfil their economic demands. Most NFTUs were in SKOP and since 1983, most trade union movements in Bangladesh have been organised under the leadership of SKOP.
The opportunism and lenient attitude of the trade union leaders including SKOP gave the ruling regimes a chance to disregard the agreements signed between the government and the trade union leaders. At present, the leaders of nineteen of the twenty three NFTUs are included in the SKOP. After its formation, SKOP submitted a 5-point charter of demands for establishing their democratic rights and higher wages through rallies, torch processions, demonstrations, strikes, hartals, blockades etc.
Ironically, SKOP failed to yield any tangible results for the working class people of the country. The effectiveness of the trade union movement under the leadership of SKOP gradually weakened because most SKOP leaders have political affiliations and therefore, cannot escape the influence of their respective political parties. Moreover, the lack of active support by the major political parties to SKOP’s programmes, excessive pressures on government by the private employers and donor agencies to disregard SKOP’s demands using repressive measures to disrupt the trade union movement, forcible occupation of unions, bribing of trade union leaders, opportunistic and compromising attitude of the union leadership rendered the SKOP demands ineffective. In fact, SKOP has become a moribund forum of the working class with little to offer to the country’s future trade union movements.
Health Care Issue:
For the workers of Bangladesh do not have separate health care facilities like separate hospital or health insurance for them. The proposed health policy for Bangladesh has recommended to have separate health care system for workers in Bangladesh. Only workers and employees in the government or private sector gets cash money at the fixed rate of Tk.150 and Tk.200 for medical care with their wages and salary every month. This is so meagre it does not help workers when they get sick. Moreover they do not know what to do where to go to get proper medical care.
At the primary level of sickness they usually go to any pharmacy to get some drugs. If they are not cured by the drugs given by salesman of drug store they go to any physician either homeopath or allopathic or kabiraj nearby. In many cases if sickness is serious in nature like cholera, pox, tuberculosis, heart diseases or any mental disorder some patients go to spiritual healers. When sickness gets complications they try to get admission in government hospitals. But the government hospitals are always crammed with excessive numbers of patient so without having connections it is difficult to get admission there.
If they are able to get admission to hospital they have to pay for medicine, pathological tests and other examinations done in private laboratories or clinics. In most cases these have to go to private hospitals; those are expensive. They have to sell their land and other assets (if they have any) to meet the expenses. Many of them who cannot afford such expenses have to die without having proper medical care. Health care is primarily provided by the government, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW). Some multisectoral projects in various ministries having health, family planning, nutrition components are also under MHFW. There are also municipalities, municipal corporations, army, police and railway departments which have health programmes. Many NGO’S have also health and family planning programme. The Directorate of Labour has a wing for family planning and nutrition for workers.
There are several workers’ welfare centres run by the Ministry of Labour at different industrial estates to provide emergency medical care, but in reality workers do not get any medical care there. Usually workers also do not visit there for they think it is useless to go there. Doctors and welfare officers are supposed to be there but they hardly ever can be found. If they are at all available in these centres medicine and equipment are not there. There is no need to explain why proper health care is not only a basic right of a worker but also it helps increase productivity. It will reduce mortality rates and thereby enhance the life expectancy as well as improve the efficiency of labour. It will reduce working days lost for sickness. The workers are also in need of specialised health centres where occupational diseases can be cured.
A recent study on tannery workers at Hazaribag in Dhaka done by The Society for Environment and Human Development revealed that the average longevity of a worker is below 50 years. Almost 90 per cent of tannery workers die before they reach the age of 50 due to their unhygienic work environment and lack of proper medical care. About 58.10 per cent of workers suffer from ulcers, 31.28 per cent have high blood pressure and 10.61 per cent suffer with rheumatic fever. Assistant Director of Health Dr Mohammad Hassan Ali said industrial pollutants, liquid waste and leather dust are the main cause (reports published in Daily Star on 28 February 2000).
Similar cases are also those of jute and textile workers, who suffer from asthma and other breathing related-diseases from jute and cotton dust. Trade Unions of Bangladesh are always demanding separate health care systems — clinics, health centres and hospitals for workers. If a separate health care system can be developed it will reduce the pressure on public health services also. Furthermore these will expand the facilities of medical care in the country from generating their own resources. A pilot health insurance project for workers was conceived by German Technical Assistance (GTZ) an autonomous implementing agency of German government for project aid.
While I was catering at first I found that many of us were not very enthusiastic about this idea as it will not provide “cash money to build hospitals or buy ambulances.” The Bangladesh government had also no plan at that stage to have any workers’ health scheme. It took some time to realise the possibilities and future of this kind of health project. The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources had agreed to propose a pilot health insurance project to the German Government for their assistance. Even the Employers Associations’ attitude was positive to the proposed project.
After long consultations with workers representatives and employers, the Labour Ministry and GTZ had finally came out with a pilot project scheme The project was intended to start in the second half of 1998 and should cover in its initial phase at least five factories with at least 2,000 workers, predominantly women and their dependents, approximately 5,000 to 7,000 population. Building on positive experience gained, documented and disseminated and supported by the Employers’ Associations including the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association—BGMEA, a substantially wider participation of employers was expected to be achieved still with the first phase of the project.
The project will be jointly implemented by the Ministry of Labour with the involvement of related ministries, Employers Associations and Trade Unions. The idea was tri-partite approach. Provision for health services will be arranged according to their capability, with GOB, private sector or NGO service providers. Technical support will be provided by GTZ, Germany, based on jointly developed annual operational plans and with consideration of local capacity and contributions. But the project did not materialise as the German government finally did not approve the project. This project could have been a good beginning of a workers health scheme. Out of this project a comprehensive, larger health scheme could have developed, in the beginning covering industrial workers and later it could further cover informal sector workers.
A example can be cited here: news published in a Bengali newspaper about a garments industry is being in arrangement with a non-profit health organisation, Community Health Service, for health services for their workers. India and Pakistan also have health schemes for workers of industries and in organised sectors. On my recent visit to Pakistan and India I had experienced an impressive health care scheme for industrial workers in Punjab province of Pakistan while I was going on a study tour on Industrial Relations in Pakistan along with other trade union friends organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies. And this health scheme is funded by employers only. No contribution from the government. Only in initial period of the scheme the government provided infrastructure support.
The scheme is called the Employees’ Social Security Scheme and was introduced in Pakistan in 1967 under the provision of Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance. Under this ordinance the Punjab Employees Social Security Institution came into being. The main objective of PESSI is to provide comprehensive medical cover to the secured workers for work-time injuries. Presently over 498,000 workers employed in more than 24,000 industrial and commercial establishments and more than 30 lakh (3,000,000) of their family members are receiving benefits from the scheme. It has 13 local and 14 sub-local offices to give service to workers. The main source of income of PESSI is the Social Security Contribution collected from the notified industries and commercial establishments at a rate of 7% of the wage paid to their workers who are drawing wages up to Rs.3000 per month. The workers once covered under this scheme remains secured even their wages exceed the ceiling of Rs.3000. But in those cases the percentage increase in Social Security Contributions against the wage exceeding the ceiling of Rs.3000 is not payable by the employer.
PESSI provides comprehensive medical cover to the workers and their family members including consultations, indoor and outdoor medical treatment, and emergency medical care. There are clinics for primary medical care for outdoor patients; small hospitals have beds for 30 to 50 patients. Large hospitals have more than 100 beds with specialists of medicine, surgery, gynaecology, TB, pathology, orthopaedics, radiology, cardiology, dentistry etc. Even high-tech medical care like cardiac surgery, dialysis centres are there. PESSI has 117 ambulances available at different hospitals and primary medical care centres. Every patient admitted to the hospitals is paid diet expenses at the rate of Rs.40 per day. The TB and cancer patients are paid a rate of Rs.50 per day. The scheme is administrated by a governing body comprise of employers, workers and government. India has also similar health schemes like Pakistan. The workers who earn RS.3000 or less are covered by this scheme.
It differs state to state about the coverage of scheme. Some states it is covered to all non-seasonal factories using power and employing 10 or more employees and factories not using power but employing 20 or more persons. Seasonal factories, mines and plantations are excluded from the coverage. The scheme provides seven types of coverage, maternity care, benefits for dependents, disablement assistance, funeral expenses and rehabilitation allowance. Except medical care, most of the others benefits are in cash. The ESI scheme is run by the ESI corporation, comprises representatives of the Central and State governments, the medical profession and the parliament.
A Medical Council advises the Corporation on all matters concerning medical care. Three categories of medical care are provided under the scheme: restricted medical care, expanded medical care and full medical care. All the insured persons are provided full medical benefits irrespective of whatever the required facilities in Government or other institutions. Family members get restricted or expanded medical care but not full medical care. The non-medical benefits are sickness, disablement and dependants’ benefit. These are paid in cash as compensation. The financing of the scheme is mainly through contributions from the employers and employees.
The Government of India does not make any contribution but the State governments share the cost of medical benefits to the extent of one-eighth of specified items of expenditure on such benefits. The employer contributes 4 percent of the wages and employees 1.5 percent to the scheme. The ESIS caters service only in organised industrial sectors, it does not provide health security to the large number of workers engaged in the informal sector. Furthermore, Indian labour leaders complain that the quality of service offered by the ESIS medical centres is poor.
As many as 32 central federations until now are registered. No central federation has such strength that they can launch a nationwide struggle independently. They do not have such organisational or financial resources either. Almost all political parties have a trade union. All these except a few trade unions, mostly depend on support and financial help from the political party. That is also a reason that the ruling party’s trade union centre has much more affiliated unions than others. When there is shift of government there will be a shift in affiliations also. The trade unions here also depend on support from International Trade Union Federations and Foundations. They get funds from International Trade Union Federations and Foundations for holding seminars, publications and other activities.
They get free passage to go abroad to attend seminars and meetings. Foreign visits are so frequent for some trade union leaders that they are almost preoccupied with arrangements for travel – procuring visas, preparing seminar papers and others and left hardly any time to do trade union work. This has become an important aspect of the trade union movement here. An example can be cited here, Jatiyo Sramik League, labour wing of Awamy League recently affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. Formerly it was with the former Soviet Union-led World Federation of Trade Unions.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and socialist states in Eastern Europe WFTU had lost its membership and resources and is now not in a position to offer free air tickets for foreign trips and hospitality in Hotel Metropole or Hotel Ukraine in Moscow to its affiliates in developing countries. Though AL chief Sheikh Hasina took a personal initiative in the beginning of eighties to get SL affiliated with WFTU, SL did lost no time to shift to ICFTU. Though there are mounting pressures for trade union unity from the workers, the trade union movement, initially set up as an extended hand of a political party, continues to function more or less as an extended hand of the political party of its affiliation.
Human society today stands at a level of development in which man has become the master of human beings. People have become victims of exploitation, oppression, torture and deprivation. However, in the hostility of human civilization, human beings were very supportive, cooperative and very close to each other. The society was a good shelter for all. But the evolution of time has created social classes in society. One class buys labor and the other sells labor. Those who sell labor are poor and those who buy labor are the owners of the means of production and the wealthiest. Social power, prestige and domination are all occupied by them. The powerful layer enforces laws, sets wages, sets the standard for crime and punishment. In all these cases the number of poor people in society is of no value to the opinion of the working class.
Human society is now doing whatever it pleases them to do, as the animal society is ‘insisting on its origin’ – that is, wealthy wealth owners, consuming more and more living a life of luxury. On the other hand, the working class is living twice in food. A few people have secured all their wealth. Whenever poor working people want to protest, this law has come along in the name of law, in the name of discipline, and sometimes with the help of religion. Much has happened and this time the change in production relations has become inevitable through social revolution.
There is no alternative for establishing a new society and an independent socialist society by abolishing the existing capitalist social system to protect the health of all people, including the working class, eliminating unemployment, poverty, social unrest. To end the plunder of capitalism, the state system, imperialism, we have to build a society where there is no human dominance over human beings. People will not exploit people. They will manage themselves. Non-state, non-capitalist socialist self-managed social system. All production systems will be owned by people of the society, including mills, factories and agricultural farms. There will be no volatility of personal ownership. The word employment will disappear forever. People will be completely free.
The Socialist Party – working with and for preparing people for changing existing society by organizing, educating and providing training. The society is working to establish a system where no unjust working period, no hierarchy, will be able to manage the entire production system, under mutual Aid.
So Gerry Downing’s ‘change of heart’ on Zionism, leads to Tony Greenstein writing an ‘unsolicited’ letter of support for Gerry (see below) to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign executive, a melange of Abbas/Fatah supporters and treacherous Socialist Action bureaucrats who organise events featuring Zionist witchhunters such as Emily Thornberry (of Labour Friends of Israel), begging for Gerry’s PSC membership back. Any revolutionary militant worth their salt, any real anti-Zionist, would find this a source of shame, not of pride.
It signifies that Gerry is now housebroken, and to be considered on the road to becoming an integral part of traitorous social democracy.
Its good that Tony clarifies the nonsense Gerry has been spouting about my supposed ‘move to the right’ in the recent factional conflict in SF. Tony entirely accurately writes:
“However there is no doubt in my mind that Gerry has had a sincere change of heart as a result of a heated debate inside his own organisation. I have written an article here for Weekly Worker and on my blog. Whilst I certainly have criticisms of Gerry, I have no doubt that he is sincere in making a political break from Ian Donovan who has not had a change of heart.”
And his ‘change of heart’, i.e. his capitulation to Zionism, now makes him fit for the company of those who parley with the regime of Abbas, who tortures and murders Palestinian militants on Israel’s behalf, and of those who work with Emily Thornberry, the Zionist who tried very hard to bully the movers of the successful resolution on Palestine at the 2018 LP Conference which condemned the Nakba, into withdrawing it. But failed!
It is not difficult to imagine what Lenin or Trotsky would have said about such grovelling to class enemies!
What is also revealing is what is unspoken but clearly visible in Tony’s letter. Tony considers himself to be part of a common movement with Ben Soffa and all the other traitors and Zionist capitulators in PSC, and is fully aware that they are organically linked to supporters of ethnic cleansing like Thornberry and Vichy-like collaborators like Abbas’ Palestinian authority (to cite the late Edward W. Said).
Tony sees himself as part of a common movement with those who collaborate with Israel against the Palestinian masses, and who work alongside those who defend the Nakba. His criticisms of them for these very things are really only platonic, as when push comes to shove he sides with them nevertheless. His ‘opposition’ to them is essentially fake, and an obstacle to a real, consistently anti-Zionist opposition to them emerging in the Palestine Solidarity Movement.
For him, to say that the many Jewish-Zionist bourgeois who concretely fight as a bourgeois faction/caste for Western support and endorsement of genocidal Israeli policies, are an independent factor and a social and economic formation that oppresses the Palestinians on ethnocentric lines, is a terrible crime, far worse than the Nakba, and fully entitles the pro-Zionist traitors at the top of PSC to exclude consistent anti-Zionists from their common movement.
He insists that:
“Until recently Gerry was of the view that there existed a trans-national Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie and that what is termed the ‘over representation’ of Jews among America’s billionaires and ruling circles accounts for the US’s support for Israel. His group, Socialist Fight, did not accept that the USA supports Israel because it is in its interests to do so”
Thus he asserts that such things as the US support for the blockade and slow genocide in Gaza, the annexation of Jerusalem and Golan, are in the rational interests of the USA, and to project that they may not be is ‘anti-Semitic’. It is undoubtedly true that that the United States imperialist bourgeoisie regarded it as in US interests to have an alliance with imperialist France during its period of colonial war in Algeria, but that did not extend to US endorsement of the French claim that Algeria was itself merely a province of France! To deny that Jewish-Zionist ethnic politics plays any role in the US endorsement of Israeli annexations and openly genocidal actions is simply to deny reality, and is untenable. It is itself an apologia for Zionism.
Here we have proof that Greenstein’s ‘anti-Zionism’ is only skin deep, that for him, forbidding meaningful criticism of Jewish-Zionist bourgeois racism is far more important than any putative support for the Palestinians. Or to put it bluntly, for him also, despite his self-delusion otherwise, Jews are more important than Arabs.
The real social-imperialist nature of centrist gatekeepers like Greenstein is here revealed once again. They identify on communal lines with their ‘own’ bourgeoisie and ultimately regard themselves as part of a common movement with them. They police and ‘discipline’ the workers movement on behalf of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeois caste, and define which ‘crucial socioeconomic facts’ (to quote Norman Finkelstein) would be Marxists are allowed to incorporate into their analyses.
This makes them a political agency of part of the class enemy. The classic role of centrism, and now Gerry has obtained absolution from Greenstein, his centrist confessor, along with the Sven Golly’s of this world who again, when push comes to shove, show their real affinity. His obcurantist, incomprehensible writing about philosophy, Neitzsche, Arendt, and all the rest of the irrelevant gibberish he has gone around trying to pick fights with people about, is a smokescreen aimed at fooling others, and perhaps even deluding himself, that he is not capitulating to the bourgeoisie and becoming just another one of its tame servants.
That is is all just incoherent posturing and pretentious psuedo-intellectualism is shown by the following passage in his latest obscurantist article, “Tony Greenstein’s revenge”, when he notes, accurately enough, that the pre-war surrealist artist Salvador Dali was sympathetic to fascism. He writes:
“Salvador Dali’s art is repugnant to all class conscious socialists; his enthusiastic support for the fascist Francisco Franco in Spain and Adolf Hitler in Germany makes it an instrument of human oppression and the impressionist school justly expelled him in 1934 because theirs was a revolutionary movement under Andre Breton.”
Quite why the whole of Dali’s art, as distinct from the parts of it that glorify Hitler and fascism, should be ‘repugnant’ to class conscious socialists is not clear, as an examination of the art of Breton and Dali would reveal a great deal of similarity, which you would expect as they were from the same surrealist, Dadaist school. But as with his philosophical obscurantism, art is of no real interest to Gerry here, as the elementary error in the above passage shows. For Breton and Dali were not ‘impressionists’ at all; they were surrealists.
Impressionists are a completely different school from the late 19th Century, typified by Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin, that specialised in depictions of reality as it appeared, as different from the disturbed imaginings of surrealist art as black is from white. How anyone can pontificate about art and make such an elementary error is just staggering!
This is not a polemic about art, just as Gerry’s material about philosophy is not really about philosophy, whatever interest he may once have had in the latter. It is about erecting a smokescreen to cover his rightward retreat into the camp of ‘respectable’ psuedo-Marxism that is acceptable to those who formerly witchhunted him when he adhered to our politics.
In the same article Gerry claims that failing to agree with his refusal to condemn the 9/11 attacks, which attracted the attention of Cameron, means that I agree with the third campist CPGB, which took no side when imperialism bombed IS beginning in 2014.
Completely untrue, as he well knows. The very first leaflet I produced after I was forced out of the the Communist Platform of Left Unity, in September 2014, was distributed on the anti-war demo on 3 October 2014, with the headline “Imperialist Hands off Syria, Iran, Iraq and Islamic State”. It stated:
“…the basic contours of a genuinely communist, anti-imperialist policy need to be spelt out now. This means that, in the face of an imperialist drive to destroy the Islamic State movement and re-establish the status quo, communists stand for the defence of the Islamic State, notwithstanding their brutal nature, insofar as they are able to mobilise any serious section of the Sunni Arab masses in struggle against an imperialist re-subjugation of these areas. If they refrain from such mass mobilisation, nothing can ultimately help them.
Obviously this means no support for Al Qaeda-style actions like bombings and massacres such as those that all sides frequently perpetrate in Baghdad, or even similar acts in imperialist countries. It would involve communist solidarity with a serious war of resistance against re-occupation. Indeed, only such solidarity would have any hope of breaking down the impotent rage at oppression that makes such Islamic radicalism attractive to the youth. As opposed to more imperialist barbarism that can only feed more such desperately flawed ‘radicalism’.”
This is not remotely like the CPGB. But it does draw a clear distinction between support for an indigenous armed force among oppressed people resisting imperialism, and politically approving of atrocities carried out by such forces. It is simply wrong to support, or refuse to condemn, intentional atrocities against civilians even if the force that perpetrates them is also involved in a fight with imperialism. That was my position before I joined SF, and it is my position now, on all such actions no matter who carries them out. 9/11 was a deliberate attack on civilians as was the attack on the Stade De France by ISIS supporters in November 2015. I wrote the SF statement that condemned that attack specifically as a corrective to Gerry’s wrong position on 9/11 and he did not raise any objection.
Despite the headline “Imperialism’s Chicken’s come home to roost” which is an analytical point, the condemnation is clear:
“Socialist Fight condemns utterly the barbaric terrorist action carried out on Friday 13 November in Paris, which has left around 130 dead, and another 300 injured, 80 critically. These came only hours after other bloody actions targeting Shia Muslims in bombings in Beirut, where 41 died, and Baghdad, where 26 were killed.
“We condemn these actions as bloody crimes against the French, Middle Eastern and international working class, and indeed the civilian populations more generally. We extend our profound condolence, sympathy and solidarity to the families and friends to the murdered victims and the wounded.
“As Marxists we are totally opposed to methods of individual terrorism however ‘anti-imperialist’ the motivation of the perpetrators may be. The inevitable consequences of this is civilian casualties, intended or not. And the attack never weakens imperialism, it ALWAYS strengthens the repressive forces of the capitalist state against the working class and its aspiring revolutionary leadership. This attack in Paris is qualitatively worse than the Charlie Hebdo massacre because however misguided that was a least it was against targeted victims who they held to be in some manner, however distorted, responsible for the wars in the Middle East and North Africa. This attack was for openly reactionary motives specifically targeting defenceless civilians which can only result in increased Islamophobia and repression of the entire working class and further moves towards a police state.”
And a few month later in response to related events in Brussels, we wrote:
“Socialist Fight condemns the apparent suicide bombings at Brussels Zavateen Airport and the Maelbeeck metro station. These incidents are highly likely to be linked to the capture by the Belgian police of one of the chief suspects in the Paris massacre/shootings last November, where around 130 civilians were killed. It does appear from early reports that the death toll in both attacks is around 34, however it is quite likely that this could rise as more details emerge.
“Our attitude to these attacks is the same as for the Paris massacre…”
That again was my doing. And the Paris Massacre statement was before Gerry’s earlier refusal to condemn 9/11 became an issue in the Labour Party witchhunt. It is a principled Marxist position that has been held by me since around 1980 and never deviated from.
But it has nothing to do with third campism. You can support military struggles against imperialism and condemn atrocities against civilians: the two go hand-in-hand especially when the forces involved in such conflicts with imperialism, are bourgeois, whether Assad’s forces or those of IS. One presumes that support for Assad against imperialism does not mean support for the many crimes of his regime against civilians (I mean real ones, not fabrications like Ghouta). Obviously support is extended despite such crimes, not to the crimes themselves.
Gerry’s nonsense about how I supposedly agree with the CPGB about IS is just another petty falsification to obscure the fact that it is he who has had a ‘change of heart’ and it now being taken in hand by gatekeepers like Tony Greenstein and Zionists like ‘Sven Golly’. The fact is that I have had no change of heart at all, as Tony rightly points out. I am still as militantly anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist as I was when I put out that leaflet, and when I joined SF.
Gerry Downing’s Introduction to Tony Greenstein’s letter to PSC on his behalf
Thanks to Tony Greenstein for this unsolicited letter in my support to Ben Sofa of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign against my suspension. Despite political differences on other important issues it was vert big if him to do so.
I had missed the original letters from the PSC on my expulsion but I can appeal to the PSC AGM next January, which I will do.
Tony Greenstein letter to Ben Soffa on behalf of Gerry Downing
I have been sent a copy of a letter from you to Gerry Downing regarding his suspension from PSC. Perhaps I can comment?
In your letter to him you express doubt that he is in a position to accept the stipulation in 4.1 of the Constitution viz. ‘The aims of the campaign include the requirement to be ‘in opposition to racism, including anti-Jewish prejudice’.
Until recently Gerry was of the view that there existed a trans-national Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie and that what is termed the ‘over representation’ of Jews among America’s billionaires and ruling circles accounts for the US’s support for Israel. His group, Socialist Fight, did not accept that the USA supports Israel because it is in its interests to do so.
However there is no doubt in my mind that Gerry has had a sincere change of heart as a result of a heated debate inside his own organisation. I have written an article here for Weekly Worker and on my blog. Whilst I certainly have criticisms of Gerry, I have no doubt that he is sincere in making a political break from Ian Donovan who has not had a change of heart.
Gerry makes his own position clear here in a letter to WW of 29th February.
Gerry sent me a copy of your letter and although he did not make any request that I approach you I have nonetheless decided to do so. I do not believe that Gerry Downing holds anti-Semitic opinions any longer (I have never believed he was, on a personal level, antisemitic) and I am happy to recommend that the Executive reconsider the matter and lift his suspension.
The following letter was sent to the Weekly Worker in time for last week’s online edition, but was not published, in reply to Gerry Downing’s weak letter (see ‘Scurillous’ here) in the previous issue defending his comrade Gareth Martin against charges of racism. No doubt the editors did not consider concluding this exchange properly a political priority for them, which is comprehensible. However as a matter of political hygiene we consider that GD’s attempt to obsfuscate the truth about this should not go unanswered and so we are publishing it here.
Gerry Downing tries to deny that the abuse by Gareth Martin
of our Middle Eastern comrade, his grotesque allegation that he supported
imaginary murders of Jews in synagogues in London, was really directed at him
at all. He foolishly asks:
“Look at the line of argument here and the ridiculous, demented non-sequiturs; how in the hell is it ‘a direct criticism of one of our Middle Eastern comrades’? Ah, you see, Gareth mentions London and the comrade he is debating with lives in London (he doesn’t), so he must be referring to him!”
Well our comrade considers that he lives in London, even if
on the periphery and not inner London. And more to the point, it is clearly a
direct criticism since it is a Facebook comment in which our comrade is tagged,
and him alone. No one else is tagged. It is very clear that this comment was
directed at him personally. We have screenshots of this Facebook exchange which
we are quite prepared to produce before any reputable third party.
We also have screenshots of another Facebook exchange with
another defender of Downing’s politics racially abusing our comrade, one Rob
Lyons, apparently from North America, who lectured our comrade about a ‘worker’,
from the same Middle Eastern ethnic group that our comrade comes from, in an
even more obvious vein thus:
“If a [Middle Eastern] worker beats his spouse, then to his spouse he is a direct oppressor, but within the matrix of social relations globally, he is just another oppressed worker passing along his alienated state in the form of domestic violence.”
When our comrade protested that Lyons knew that he was from
the same ethnic group that Lyons was stereotyping, and that this was racist
innuendo, Lyons replied, tagging our comrade personally again:
“Get stuffed slimeball. I used an example I thought you could relate to given your experiences. Something real easy for you to understand. Obviously I over rated your intelligence. Truly sorry for that. But there is no colouring book to teach you how to draw inside the lines on this issue.”
The poisonous racial innuendo here is palpable. Yet when
both the target of this abuse, and myself, protested about this and pointed out
the obvious racist intent, we were both removed, and blocked, from the Socialist Fight Facebook group by the
admin, Gerry Downing, and our comments protesting the racial abuse deleted. We
have screenshots of Lyons’ comments which again are clearly tagged with the
same of our Middle Eastern comrade here.
This is where the racism that lurks behind Gerry’s capitulation
to Zionism becomes explicit. It is also borne out by his attempt to theorise
why Gareth Martin should not be challenged for this innuendo-laden attack:
“Previously Ian’s ‘proof’ of his racism was a ridiculous biological-determinist theory: he is white and was born in South Africa, so this made him a racist and a supporter of Zionism, regardless of his proud record of fighting apartheid in South Africa since he was a teenager and his direct participation in the Anti-Nazi League and the Socialist Workers Party for 10 years from the mid-1990s, all the while fighting against Zionism and Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.”
Even in the minds of ‘biological’ racists, there is no
perceived difference between white settler types in Africa and the broader
white population around the world. Gerry has invented a strange new concept
here, even though he projects it onto me. My point is that Gareth’s attitudes
reflect backward attitudes that he has not overcome despite being in
essentially left-liberal, in practice reformist organisations like the
social-chauvinist Anti-Nazi League and the SWP that I rejected from the left at
the beginning of the 1980s. Presumably if that is his tradition then for Gerry
he cannot have failed to overcome backward, racist views that come from his
background at all. The fact that Gerry can make such an argument shows a degree
of political degeneration.
As does his whole argument about my ‘biological’ hostility
to Gareth’s racist backwardness. This is about backwardness from a cultural
background, and applies not only to Gareth but to the dictatorial leader of the
SWP, Alex Callinicos, who comes from a white settler aristocratic background in
colonial Zimbabwe. Callinicos denounced Norman Finkelstein as providing comfort
for Nazis in 1999, and now orders his SWP goons to bureaucratically harass
pro-Palestinian militants who object to the presence of open Zionists in the
SWP’s ‘Stand Up to Racism’ events. I would assert that this particular policy,
which was not the policy of the SWP under previous leaderships, is a product of
his personal regime in the SWP and Callinicos’s own politics and prejudices.
But I’m sure that Callinicos, like Martin, will profess opposition to Zionism
as well. It means nothing if his actions contradict that.
Gerry is in effect attacking me for ‘anti-white racism’,
racism against myself, with this polemic. This is itself a racist, far right
trope. ‘Self-hatred’ among groups that currently oppress others is always a far
right trope, and this has particular relevance where Zionists and those who are
soft on Zionism are involved. The campaign against Atzmon has much of the same
character, nothwithstanding his confusion about history, which is shared by an
enormous number of people in the Middle East who are faced with genocidal
oppression at the hands of ‘democratic’ imperialism and Zionist Jews.
There is an element of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ in the politics of the Middle East. This has produced the paradox today where it is perfectly possible for someone to doubt the truth of the Nazi holocaust, and yet for their underlying, real motive, be a confused hostility to the racism that Arabs and Muslims experience today. And conversely, it is perfectly possible for someone to be completely in tune with the long established truth of the Nazi genocide, and yet to be a genocidal racist who defends the mass murder of Arab civilians. I judge people by their real motive and drives, not their confusions. So actually, the ‘anti-white racism’ trope that Gerry implies has much in common with the denunciation of Atzmon the Jewish-Israeli as an ‘ Jewish anti-Semite’ and ‘self-hating Jew’. This is also a far right trope and it is no surprise that Gerry in defending the latter comes to advocate the former. It is indicate of an extreme contradiction in his politics that a left-wing militant of Trotskyist views should come to echo such tropes.
Gerry absurdly claims that to denounce Gareth for racially
abusing our comrade is anti-Semitic, and regrets that we are allowed to criticise
him. That is in tune with his behaviour in trying to silence our criticism on
every forum he controls. But when he tried to do that on an International forum
of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, this was countermanded
by International comrades. The contradiction Gerry has is that our ‘expulsion’
is not recognised internationally by our common International comrades, though
they are compelled to recognise that Gerry’s political retreat into pro-Zionist
chauvinism and bureaucratism have led to the creation of two groups, both of
whom are recognised as LFCI groups by the international comrades. That puts
Gerry in an extreme contradiction with not only workers democracy but also the
democracy of the LCFI when he denounces others for allowing us to argue our
The Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, is tonight in
intensive care in St Thomas’s Hospital, London, apparently receiving oxygen on
a ventilator after spending around two weeks with worsening Covid-19. It is
possible he will not survive the viral pneumonia that has set in. This is
possibly the most shocking and prominent demonstration yet of the very
dangerous nature of the Coronavirus-Sars-2 virus which is responsible for this
pandemic. Johnson’s own ministers have started to emphasise that the virus does
not discriminate among its victims, and can infect or kill anyone. Even a
highly privileged, Eton-educated Tory Prime Minister can be struck down by it!
This just underlines the stupidity of the attitude that part
of the bourgeoisie, including Johnson himself, have adopted towards the
pandemic. This is particularly so of the right-wing populists of whom Johnson
is a prime example; not the worst or the most irrational, but pretty arrogant
and stupid nevertheless. US President Donald Trump is also a prime specimen of
this anti-scientific irrational idiocy, as is Jair Bolsonaro, the fascistic
right-populist Brazilian President.
You could quite literally say that Johnson may have signed
his own death warrant with his anti-scientific, callous stupidity. On the This Morning show of 5th
March, Johnson floated a strategy for dealing with the virus thus:
“Well it’s a very, very important question, and that’s where a lot of the debate has been and one of the theories is, that perhaps you could take it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease, as it were, to move through the population, without taking as many draconian measures.” (https://fullfact.org/health/boris-johnson-coronavirus-this-morning/)
Johnson delayed for several weeks from crucial measures like
closing schools, or introducing social distancing measures, and equally
importantly, it has completely ignored the obvious need for the introduction of
widespread testing for the virus. The UK government has been forced into action
on some of these things from below, by such things as parents keeping their
children off school in defiance of the government. Such was the backlash when
it became clear that the result of this strategy would be 500,000 deaths, that
Johnson’s government has had to publicly abandon the ‘herd immunity’ concept, at least publicly. However
their failure to test the population for the disease reveals that the strategy
It’s an anti-scientific, genocidal strategy whose real
driving force has occasionally leaked out, such as when Dominic Cummings,
Johnson’s adviser and mentor, was quoted as saying in a meeting in February
that the government’s strategy was “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if
some pensioners die then too bad” (Sunday
Times, 22 March).
This is the logic of neo-liberalism, Social Darwinism, or
the survival of the fittest; the poor, the sick and the old can be allowed to
die off not least because of the potential savings that the wealthy can make
from social benefits and pensions. As one Daily Telegraph writer, Jeremy
Warner, wrote on 3 March:
“Not to put too fine a point on it, from an entirely disinterested economic perspective, the COVID-19 might even prove mildly beneficial in the long term by disproportionately culling elderly dependents. (https://metro.co.uk/2020/03/11/telegraph-journalist-says-coronavirus-cull-elderly-benefit-economy-1238390)
Johnson is the personification of the hubris of the
neoliberal populist right over this. His injunction to ‘take it on the chin’
could well be his epitaph. In tune with this, he boasted of visiting a hospital
and shaking hands “with everybody” including Covid-19 patients. He may well
have spread the disease from the infected to others by this act of sheer
stupidity alone. It appears he has also infected his pregnant partner, Carrie
Symonds, in the process.
He is not the only one of course. When Covid-19 first
emerged, Trump first declared that it was a ‘hoax’ put forward by his political
opponents to discredit him for the election, and has both tried to exploit the
virus’ apparent point of origin in Wuhan, China, calling it the ‘Chinese
Virus’, and then has like Johnson, declared that the priority is ‘the economy’
rather than preserving lives. He was forced into declaring a Federal Emergency
over the virus, at the same time he is continually trying to undermine it with
calls for easing it, for people to go back to work after Easter, etc. His
notorious tweets, such as that saying “”WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE
THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF” and hinting at easing the quarantine for the economy’s
sake, point one way. Yet Trump has also been forced to guarantee payment of
hospitals by the US government for the uninsured millions who are at risk of
huge hospital bills for treatment for the disease. Thus Trump has been forced,
temporarily, to institute a form of socialised medicine. Like in Britain, we
see the same outrageous contempt for life being forced to back down by the
certain knowledge that failing to do these elementary things will lead to a
The genocidal and anti-scientific ideology of the neoliberal
right over the pandemic is shown by the actions and words of Bolsonaro in
Brazil. According to the Brazilian President, the pandemic will end when 70%
are of the population are infected. He puts forward the outrageous view that
that social isolation is of no use and only hinders the economy.
But the retreat of the tide of infection in China is
concrete evidence that social isolation and distancing works. A country with
1.5 billion people had 83,000 cases, and yet the virus has stopped spreading.
The virus is not a living being, it depends on being finding suitable bodies to
multiply. If everyone is in social isolation the infected people create
antibodies or unfortunately end up dying. Thus the virus disappears. As the
contamination and reaction time of the organism is 3 to 4 weeks, if social
isolation lasts 2 to 3 months it is possible to stop the circulation of the
virus and have a small number of infected people, which is what is happening in
That is why they continue to quarantine everyone who comes
from outside, so that there is no new introduction of the virus and so no new
cycle of pandemic. For this cycle to be truly broken, it is essential that
government officials guarantee all support and continued income for the
population to remain in social isolation and apply tests to all. Testing for
everyone is crucial, so that those infected can actually be isolated and not be
the focus of new transmissions. Only after breaking the cycle and carrying out
this testing programme to a conclusion is it possible to relax the insulation.
But for Bolsonaro and
the elite he represents, their concern is not how to break the circulation of
the virus and save lives, but how to save corporate profits. And for that he
uses all possible lying arguments and the denial of scientific evidence, and
more blatantly and consistently than the likes of Johnson and Trump, gives
expression to the barbaric, genocidal Social-Darwinism that is at the core of
neoliberalism and the fascistic populism it has spawned.
In this period of extreme weakness of the revolutionary Marxist left, political programmes and traditions have become represented by individuals and small groups to a greater extent than was true in periods where the left was stronger. This is obvious when you look at the state of left-wing politics today. This is a temporary phase of course, reminiscent in some ways of the days of Marx and Engels, but it is where we are at today.
Look at the large sects: the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
and its splinters such as Counterfire;
or the Socialist Party (SP) and its splinters such as Socialist Alternative and Socialist
Appeal. These are largely ineffectual but still have a sizeable number of
members. As organisations, they have nothing much to offer because they are
variants of left reformism or at best right-centrism, and not really that
different to the Labour Left. Yet their purely organisational sectarianism, and
their size, meant that they were outside the Corbyn movement and unable to act
as a polarising force within it. On some questions, their political impulses
and records were in fact worse than the instincts of the best rank-and-file
For instance the Socialist Party/Militant has had over the
decades a dreadful record over imperialism. From its tacit approval of British
rule in Ireland during the decades of war between the British state and Irish
republicans, its softness to the point of indulgence on the sectarianism of the
Ulster Loyalist working class, to its more or less open support of British
‘democracy’ in the 1982 Malvinas War and its insistence on the supposed
‘rights’ of the British colonial ‘Falkland’ population, it hardly has a record
superior to that of the Labour left. This is of a piece with its softness on
Zionism, its insistence on ‘two states’ and the supposed ‘right to
self-determination’ of the Israeli Jewish population on the land that was taken
by force from the Palestinian Arabs in the first place. This of course has been
a major issue in Labour, and this tradition has been found wanting.
The various splinter groups of Militant/Socialist Party do
not so far appear fundamentally different. Socialist
Alternative broke with the SP and its leader Peter Taaffe out of disgust
with his clique’s bureaucratism, which is almost a caricature of a
bureaucratised organisation, but there does not so far appear to be anything in
the way of a profound political differentiation with Taaffe involved, being
mainly about the details of tactics in the trade unions and different, but hardly
revolutionary, attitudes to elements in the bureaucracy in some unions. Socialist Appeal, based on the core of
the original Militant group around
the late Ted Grant and Alan Woods, is deeply Labourite in its practice though
it does have some interesting theoretical positions on aspects of Stalinism and
a slightly higher political level derived from Grant’s earlier history as one
of the pioneering Trotskyists in Britain.
Then there is the hidebound remaining SWP, after the ruinous
splits of the past decade, whose products have proved ephemeral but which left
the SWP a bankrupt, rightist rump: For instance over its refusal to defend
Julian Assange through the whole period of the years-long smear campaign
against him over the Swedish ‘honey trap’, which laid the basis for the current
extradition show trial. The SWP’s tradition, from their founder Tony Cliff
onwards, was the refusal to defend the Soviet bloc deformed/degenerated workers
states against imperialist attack, branding it instead ‘State Capitalism’ and
just as much ‘imperialist’ as the West, under the slogan “Neither Washington
nor Moscow but International Socialism”.
Now under Alex Callinicos the SWP have overcome their more
left-wing period under the leadership of John Rees and Lindsey German during
the Iraq War period, where they blocked with George Galloway in RESPECT, loudly
proclaimed their anti-Zionism, hosted Gilad Atzmon at Marxism, and their
members occasionally engaged in fisticuffs with the pro-Zionist,
pro-imperialist Alliance for Workers Liberty. Now instead under Callinicos the
SWP insist on the presence of “Friends of Israel” in their ‘Stand up to Racism”
front group events and strong-arm Palestinian supporters who protest. This is a
major move to the right by the SWP.
Then there are some smaller groups: such as Counterfire, led by the aforementioned
Rees and German, basically a more left wing version of the SWP. At least they
are not pro-Zionist. But they are
movement-ists – their main activity is building the Stop the War Coalition (STWC),
the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, or at one point Unite the Resistance,
as single issue fronts, with reformist and/or pacifist politics. STWC led huge
the Iraq anti-war demos but the SWP under Rees and German did not advocate a
revolutionary programme within it – they were content with the politics of
their left-reformist bloc-partners. To their credit they built RESPECT, making
an electoral bloc with George Galloway when he was expelled from Labour for
advocating Arab resistance to the imperialist war, but again they did not
advocate a revolutionary programme within it and try to win support for it.
There is a crying need to recruit people to a revolutionary programme in all
these situations, not just amorphous ‘left organisation’ which tends in
practice to be left reformist by default.
Which brings us to the attitude of the left to a key
strategic question of the revolution in Britain: the Labour Party: This saw a genuine leftward development with
the Corbyn movement in 2015; it was able to seize on the forced error of the
soft-left leadership of Ed Miliband, which tried to revive a decaying Labour
Party after the defeat and discredit Blairism brought upon it. This left
development came from the base of the Labour Party, including many Labour supporters
‘exiled’ by Blairism. It saw a mass influx of left-wing people that pushed
Labour to the left.
Leftward Movement and Coming Together
In this context, of large but left-reformist sects and their
inability to deal with the Labour Party question, individual revolutionary
militants who seek to go further play a critical role. This was the context of
the re-emergence of Socialist Fight
in the mid 20-teens. Two Trotskyists militants played a major role in this
group which did attract attention and play something of a polarising role: Ian
Donovan and Gerry Downing, henceforth referred to by their initials.
ID was a product of Spartacism, who, episodically
disillusioned with orthodox Trotskyism in the late 1990s due to the
Spartacists’ pathology and abuses, became a left-wing third-campist for a
while, but was then re-radicalised by the Iraq war and pushed back far to the
left. He was radicalised by the
experience of being in RESPECT, an organisation subjected to a degree of racist
political persecution, including by Zionists. Their persecution of Galloway and
RESPECT was an anticipation of the later witchhunt against Corbynism.
Notwithstanding this mistaken third-camp position, ID came to the most radical
anti-Zionist/anti-imperialist position of all, in the tradition of Abram Leon,
embodied in his 2014 Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism.
GD, was an oppositionist in the Healyite Workers
Revolutionary Party at the time of its 1985 explosion and collapse, one of many
active participants. He then went through various organisations: the
Revolutionary Internationalist League, International Socialist Group, the
Workers International League, Workers
Fight with 2 other ex-WRP cadre with varied politics, then the Committee
for a Marxist Party in alliance with the CPGB/Weekly Worker. He then founded Socialist
Fight in 2009 with two other ex-ISG cadre, whom he then split from over the
issue of their defence of the film director Roman Polanksi, who admitted to
statutory rape of a 13 year old girl and appears from the evidence to be guilty
of actual rape. After breaking with his initial collaborators he then fused his
rump group with some Brazilian and Argentinian Trotskyists groups in 2013 as
part of an anti-imperialist response to imperialist intervention in Syria and
Libya, to form the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI). This
gave an international dimension to his politics that meant it was no longer his
Then GD got together politically with ID in 2015: ID won
Gerry to his position on Zionism and GD conversely played an important role in
ID re-embracing a better orthodoxy over the USSR and deformed workers states,
rejecting the very-leftist third-campism of Walter Daum’s League for the
Revolutionary Party whose views on ‘statified capitalism’ ID had previously
A Genuine Marxist Analysis of Zionism: the Tradition of Abram Leon
GD and ID thus both moved left in slightly different ways
under the impact of the Corbyn movement. GD embraced ID’s most radical position
on Zionism, which treats Israel as an imperialist power in its own right, not
just a puppet of the US, and notes that its power in the world is built not
just on its territorial size and productive capacity but on a powerful
Jewish-Zionist faction in the ruling classes in the Western imperialist
countries, who mobilise on the basis of a common ethnocentric project with the
Israeli ruling class itself. In fact Israel’s racist ‘law of return’ quite
consciously internationalises Israeli citizenship to all those born Jewish
around the world. This has the effect of, even more importantly,
internationalising a bourgeois layer particularly in the United States, to a
lesser extent in Western Europe, where Jewish representation in the wealthiest
layers of the bourgeoisie, is often a couple of dozen or more times greater
than the percentage of Jews in the wider population.
In reality, this creates a situation where Israel’s
capitalist ruling class does not just live in Israel, but overlaps with the
ruling classes of these traditional imperialist countries, and the dominant
bourgeois politics among bourgeois Jews being political Zionism, produces
powerful ethnically-based factions within the ruling classes of the older
imperialist countries that are in fact part of the Israeli ruling class also.
Zionism’s internationalisation of Israeli citizenship is consciously designed
to create and nurture this situation, and a complete understanding of this
issue is essential for the understanding of supporters of the Palestinians everywhere.
This phenomenon has deep historical roots; it is a product
of Jewish history and socio-economic development. Karl Marx, in The Jewish Question (1843) wrote of
this: “Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us
look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew”. And he went on to explain
that “The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant,
of the man of money in general”. This was systematised by Abram Leon, who was
subsequently martyred in Auschwitz, in his seminal Marxist work The Jewish Question: A Marxist
Following on from Marx’s original insight Leon elaborated
the history of the Jews as a commodity- and money-trading people-class in
medieval times, which is the reason why Jews as a distinct human group survived
from antiquity whereas other ancient populations, such as Phoenicians, Romans,
Assyrians, Babylonians, and many more, disappeared through assimilation into
newer composite populations. The Jews survived as a distinct population because
they occupied that niche in feudal society and, though the people-class that
Leon described disappeared with the end of feudalism, it did not do so without
trace. Jews as a people continued, not as a people-class anymore, but as a multi-class
population with however a very different proportionality of the characteristic
classes of capitalist society to that of the general populations within the
societies they inhabited.
Their evolution can only be understood as a dialectical
process; their unique history led them both to persecution, oppression and
genocide; to Jewish intellectuals and artisan-proletarians playing a very
prominent, vanguard role in the workers movement particularly in its early
period up to the mid-20th Century, when the tragedy of the Nazi genocide led to
the decisive defeat and destruction of that invaluable Jewish left, and to a
dialectical inversion whereby the outsized Jewish bourgeoisie gained dominance
over Jews, and in the second half of the 20th century that Jewish bourgeoisie,
with Zionist politics, increasingly played a vanguard role for the bourgeoisie,
in the offensive against the workers movement known as neo-liberalism from the
Indeed the entire strategy of Zionism as a movement was to
take advantage of bourgeois anti-Semitism as a kind of perverse ally in order
to raise Jews up as a people from being oppressed pariahs to one of the world’s
oppressor peoples, even at the cost of collaborating with the destruction of
the most progressive elements of the Jewish population itself. Again in a
dialectical sense, this can be seen as a quite novel, if fearsome and
colossally destructive, manifestation of class struggle within the Jewish
population as a class-differentiated remnant of the people-class that they once
This has become particularly clear since the collapse of
Stalinism and the counterrevolution in the Soviet bloc at the turn of the
1980s/1990s decade, with the eruption of post-Cold War conflicts centrally in
the Middle East, such as over Iraq and then the manipulation of elements of the
2011 ‘Arab Spring’ revolts in the Arab world. All this to try to strengthen
Israel through the destruction of its most radical, pro-Palestinian opponents
among the Arab regimes, starting with Iraq, moving onto the destruction of
Qadaafi and then the crusade against Syria’s Assad, which is still ongoing, and
has been thwarted in large measure through resistance to US and Zionist
imperialism’s proxy war by Putin’s Russia and Iran. The threat of war against Iran, as well as
the crucifixion of the Palestinians by Trump and Netanyahu’s openly genocidal
‘deal of the century’ is another manifestation of the bloc between Zionist
imperialism and its Great Power protectors that has introduced a crucial
modification, and a contradiction and weakness, into the ‘normal’ workings of
Thus the Jewish question, because of the unique social
relationship of Jews to commodity exchange under two social systems, has been
strategically intertwined with the evolution of the capitalist system right
from its very beginning, not for any teleological or still less biological
reason, but simply because of their relationship with the historically evolved
channels through which capital has flowed during its complex, dialectical
process of coming into the world, and also the process by which it is beginning
to prepare its own demise. Because of
this happenstance, Jews have been at the centre of such world-historic events as
the colonisation of Palestine, the Second World War and the genocide, and the
Ziocon wars of the early 21st century. Thus Marx’s essay The Jewish Question has proved seminal to fully understanding the
world in which we live, and this subject is of strategic importance for
Again dialectically it can be argued that what is seen as an
asset for their system by the wider bourgeoisie, to the point that there are no
more ardent fighters against non-existent ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ than the
bourgeois class itself, is also a contradiction and potentially an explosive
problem for them. Thus we see the extreme bourgeois hostility that confronts
anyone on the left who attempts to analyse the Jewish question and the
strategic aspects of it for the proletariat.
This provides the objective background, in terms of at least
partially understanding this question, for the coming together and limited rise
of Socialist Fight in parallel with the left-moving Corbyn current in the
British Labour Party in the mid 20-teens, and the collapse of GD into Zionist
apologetics as that movement went into meltdown in 2019 and early 2020.
The Beginning of Downing’s Political Collapse
The manifestations of GD’s collapse into pro-Zionism are
very clear in his continuing drip-drip of Zionist propaganda into Socialist Fight in early 2020 for use as
political weapons against the programme he had stood for over approximately the
previous five years.
This appears to have begun after a 10-day family trip to
Ireland that GD undertook in August 2019. We have no idea what actually went on
there, but it does appear that some sort of political alliance was created
between GD and his daughter ED to try to change the politics of Socialist Fight and make it
‘respectable’ on the left-Zionist-influenced, capitulatory ‘far left’. Since GD
had been very prominent over the previous four years and more in arguing for
SF’s hard anti-Zionist views and hostility to the Jewish ethnic bigotry and
racism that is the content of political Zionism and its capitulators, he faces
a serious problem in trying to live this down.
So his tactic for doing so seems to have been to attack
others, and he engaged in some pretty ludicrous baiting of others on the left,
including the Jewish left, as being amenable to fascism and anti-Semitism. His
first target in this regard was Tony Greenstein at Communist University 2019.
Knowing he would not get the endorsement of Socialist Fight comrades for this, he
put out his own personal leaflet attacking Greenstein for his expressed
admiration for the sometimes left-Zionist, sometimes somewhat anti-Zionist,
Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, and particularly for her account of the 1961
Eichmann trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem.
GD attacked Greenstein as soft on Nazism for refusing to condemn Arendt for her
long-time relationship with the existentialist philosopher and dilettante
Martin Heidegger, who joined the Nazi party when Hitler came to power, but dropped out of political activity when he
became uneasily aware that Hitler suspected him of sympathy with the SA leader
Ernst Röhm, whose followers were eliminated in the 1934 ‘Night of the Long
It is clear that Heidegger was not a serious political
figure in the Nazi regime; the claims that GD made that he was some sort of
ideological inspiration for the Nazis are ludicrous. He was a marginal figure
and Arendt’s relationship with him is simply a personal matter of no political
significance. This is just an example of GD echoing a characteristic Zionist
attack on Arendt for her criticism in Eichmann
in Jerusalem of Israel’s laws against mixed marriage, which she condemned
as similar to the Nazis’ Nuremburg laws. Whose entire ethos her on-off
relationship with Heidegger incidentally made a mockery of, though at the
crucial period he betrayed her and she left Germany until after Hitler’s
This irrelevant, guilt-by-association attack on Tony
Greenstein was simply GD’s grossly unprincipled, subjective manner of paying
him back for Greenstein’s wrong-headed condemnation and exclusion of GD, ID and
Socialist Fight from Labour Against the Witchhunt in January 2018, not to
mention his failure to defend GD against the witchhunt and his auto-exclusion
from the Labour Party in March 2016, when Greenstein condemned him as a fool
undeserving of defence for his defence of Islamic State against imperialist
attack and his support for SF’s position on Zionism and the Jewish Question.
Defence of Gilad Atzmon: a Litmus Test of anti-Zionism
This was a bad sign, but much worse was to come. One thing
SF had become known for, as well as our material on the Jewish Question
detailed above, was our refusal to support exclusion and witchhunting against
the Israeli-Jewish Jazz musician Gilad Atzmon. We defend him not only against
Zionists, but figures on the Jewish left who denounce him as anti-Semitic for
his renunciation of Jewish identity, his denunciation of the overseas Zionist
lobby as driven by Jewish exclusivism and a desire for domination, his public
expression of doubts about some aspects of the Nazi holocaust of Jews, and his
belief that Jewish chauvinism was behind some of the crimes of Stalinism,
particularly in the Ukraine in the 1930s. He also, as is well known, promotes
his idealist philosophical criticism of Jewish identity widely and engages with
people on the far right as well as the far left of politics.
We in Socialist Fight
prior to GD’s renegacy always regarded Gilad Atzmon as an organic product of
the contradictions of Israeli politics, and refused to join in the witchhunts
against him, despite disagreements with much of his political confusion. We do
not consider his theory of Jewish identity to be anti-Semitic; this divides
Jewish people into three overlapping categories, the first two of which, those
simply born Jewish and those who merely adhere to the Jewish religion, are
considered by Atzmon to be harmless and innocent categories. Atzmon only
regards as problematic his third category, which consists of those who consider
their Jewishness to be a political trait that is more important than any other
trait, those who consider themselves ‘chosen’ and superior to others in other
words. We do not consider his position to be an attack on all Jewish people and
therefore we do not condemn his position as racist and anti-Semitic.
GD knew full well what Atzmon’s views were on the Russian Revolution right from July 2015, when he reblogged one of Atzmon’s videos, titled ‘The Jewish Solidarity Spin’ , on the Socialist Fight website with an introduction by ID that criticised those same views. Though he was aware of Tony Greenstein’s antipathy to, and criticisms of, Atzmon in detail having supported Greenstein’s anti-Atzmon campaign in 2009, GD changed his mind around 2015 and defended Atzmon for years with considerable pride. He even authored an article in December 2017, which attacked Tony Greenstein for having grovelingly noted that the Board of Deputies had earlier praised him for opposing Atzmon when Greenstein himself was suspended from Labour in March 2016. GD’s article denounced Tony Greenstein thus:
“So when he is under attack his immediate response was to plead to the “Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD) and other Zionists” to defend him because he has given them Gilad Atzmon’s head on a plate and they should reciprocate the favour…”
Then there is Atzmon’s interview with GD during the dispute
that led to the exclusion of Socialist
Fight from Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) in January 2018. In that
interview Atzmon asked him the following question:
“In the recent LAW meeting Greenstein and Walker reportedly said that ‘making a connection between the number of Jewish billionaires in the US or who is Jewish amongst the richest sections of society and imperialist support for Israel is anti-Semitic.’ I guess that Walker and Greenstein believe that Jewish politics and mammon are beyond criticism. Can you tell us which political school may adhere to such a peculiar approach? Is there any Left ideology or working-class politics that excludes criticism of Jewish mammon and influence?”
To which GD replied:
“Of course, that ideology is Zionism.”
GD partially dissociated himself from some of Atzmon’s views
“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”.
Yet despite these disclaimers, GD unilaterally took the
decision to include Atzmon’s interview with him, in the following print edition
of Socialist Fight, because it filled
an empty space and also likely because it raised GD’s personal profile. But
this was a tactical error, as the interview was not even our copy, and its
prominence in the printed journal was a godsend to Zionists, who were able to
put pressure on two left bookshops in London, Housemans and the SWP’s Bookmarks,
to ban Socialist Fight from sale at
GD’s dissociations are fair enough, as Marxists are not
hostile per se to the expression of Jewish identity provided it does not trump
the basic tenets of the class struggle, that class, not any kind of other
identity, is the primary driving force of social struggle and human
emancipation. But nevertheless GD was quite well aware, when questioned by
Atzmon, that the hostility of the likes of Greenstein, Jackie Walker and others
to SF’s Marxist analysis of the diaspora Jewish bourgeois component of Zionism
is derived from left-Zionist influence on their politics. He clearly defended
SF’s Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern
Imperialism in this interview, as he did on Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics show in March 2016, and
to Atzmon he denounced the ‘leftist’ opposition to it as in essence Zionist. By
his own then-criteria, therefore, his current politics are now left-Zionist.
Yet in September 2019, when Atzmon’s associate Devon Nola
posted an item on Facebook comparing a law banning BDS (boycotts of Israel) in
the US with the ‘Bolshevik’ decree (in fact instituted by Stalin in 1932) that
instituted the ‘death penalty’ for ‘anti-Semitism’, GD denounced this as ‘Nazi
propaganda’ and characterised Atzmon and his supporters as ‘Strasserites’, i.e.
left-wing fascists, an absurd comparison given the Jewish-Israeli origin of the
Atzmonites and their clear solidarity with the Arab victims of Zionism. It should
be noted that the Strasserites were German fascists who were just as hostile to
the then-oppressed Jewish population of Germany and Europe as Hitler’s own
diehard supporters. They just took as good coin the Nazis’ sometimes use of
anti-capitalist rhetoric and tried to implement is, which is why Hitler had
them suppressed and slaughtered.
The idea that Jewish or Jewish-led equivalents of
‘Strasserites’ could embrace Israel’s victims is utterly ridiculous, and a sign
that GD had begun to capitulate ideologically to Zionism, and to regard the
Palestinian Arab population and its ferocious, genocidal oppression at the
hands of Jewish-Zionist racists, as of little import or significance. What
really mattered to GD even at his point, implicitly, was the attitude of every
current, even Jewish ones, to Jews. Behind this is the Zionist conception that
in every possible situation, even when Jews are the perpetrators of racist
crimes, eternal Jewish victimhood is the overriding political issue that
eclipses all others.
A fairly extensive literary discussion then took place on
the Socialist Fight website in which
some disputed questions about the Atzmonites, but not the fundamental question
of the pan-imperialist component of Zionism, were explored at some length. But
the discussion was inconclusive, and comradely political relations had not
broken down at that point.
General Election and After: Downing’s Political Meltdown
This discussion was a bad sign, of GD bowing to the
reactionary pro-Zionist climate that was developing as the Corbyn movement
began to decline. But the final straw
was the loss of the General Election by Labour on 13th December 2019, when
Boris Johnson’s Tories, by ‘fair’ means or foul (and there may have been an
element of foul) defeated Labour coming out of it with an overall majority of
The differences exploded again with full force in a
discussion about the likelihood of widespread electoral fraud in the General
Election. GD denigrated the very idea as insane, despite considerable unease
among Labour members that their experiences of favourable receptions when
canvassing for Labour, including in quite a few of the Northern seats that went
over to the Tories, did not match up with the exit polls and the subsequent
results. Neither ourselves nor the many Labour supporters with similar
suspicions, who seem to number in the tens of thousands, have any way at this
point of verifying these suspicions.
But such things as a doubling of the postal vote to 38% in
some places, reported by Lord Ashcroft’s highly respected polling company after
the election, and the fact that two prominent Tory or sympathetic
personalities, the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, and the Foreign
Secretary Dominic Raab, appeared to have broken electoral law by talking about,
and for that matter knowing about, the contents of the postal vote before it
was even legal to count it, is grounds for suspicion that there was something
fishy about the election results.
Then there is Theresa May’s remark, seemingly on behalf of
the ruling class, to Corbyn at PM’s Question Time in December 2017: “we will
never allow you to govern”.
And there are the remarks of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, secretly
recorded in June 2018 when meeting with ‘Jewish leaders’ talking about Jeremy Corbyn
becoming British Prime Minister:
“’It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected,’ he said on the recording. ‘It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.’”
In the view of GD, such speculation was lunacy, and
‘conspiracy theory’. For him, the working class has chosen anti-immigrant
racism and voted for the Tories over Brexit, and that was the end of it. The
Labour defeat for him was due to the failure of Corbyn to stand up to the
anti-Semitism smears (which was true, and this did weaken Labour) and also the
failure of Labour to take a firm enough stand against Brexit. Though quite how
a firmer Labour stand against Brexit was likely to win over a racist working
class that was voting for the Tories in order to force Brexit through is not
Some would argue that it is quite feasible that postal vote
fraud could have been used to exaggerate known trends among some demoralised
sections of the working class to vote Tory for Brexit and turn a known danger
of a retrograde political trend into a Tory landslide. The idea that the
British electoral system is untainted by fraud and that it is lunatic
conspiracy mongering to even suspect something like this is an example of blind
faith in the British ruling class to uphold ‘democracy’. Such an attitude is
unworthy of a Marxist.
But what really made GD show his hand was when comrade ID
shared on Facebook a piece from Veterans
Today, a US anti-war, pro-Iran/Russia conspiratorial anti-Zionist website,
which pulled together anecdotal evidence from Labour supporters around the UK
pointing to there being something suspicious about the election results. The
article also contained, right at the beginning, a statement that Boris Johnson
was a ‘Rothschild Stooge’. Then the gloves were off: for GD the post was
‘anti-Semitic’ and sharing it was an unforgivable crime, even though the
evidence on apparent fraud that it contained was quite authentic.
And thus the dispute was revived again. Veterans Today had connections to Atzmon; he sometimes wrote for
it, it has people who write for it who think that Israel was responsible for
9/11, who think that the Nazi holocaust was a hoax. However, GD had a problem
even with this, as he had stood on a public platform at a joint Socialist Fight public meeting in July
2017, a rather large meeting attended by around 150 people, with Vanessa
Beeley, a defender of the Syrian regime and an uncritical Assad supporter, speaking
in defence of Syria against the US/UK/Israel backed jihadist destabilisation
and proxy war. She has written regularly for Veterans Today for several years. So in denouncing ID for sharing
material from Veterans Today calling
into question the legitimacy of the result of the UK General Election, GD was
also implicitly attacking some of his best known work. If it was impermissible
to share articles from Veterans Today,
then surely it was impermissible to share a platform with Vanessa Beeley?
Corruption and Fraud
Undeterred by such logic, he went on and drafted a
‘Socialist Fight statement’ attacking Veterans
Today, Gilad Atzmon, and others around him as Strasserite fascists. He
campaigned long and hard to try to get a majority in the organisation he founded
to get this statement endorsed by a majority of the full, voting membership.
But he failed. In two votes, one of London members in what was supposed to be a
closed meeting, the vote was tied, as it was in a national vote of SF members
with the deadline a week later. A tied motion falls. So GD was reduced to
putting his statement out in the names of individuals who agreed to sign it,
including a couple of overseas supporters and a number non-members, including
his own daughter, who he tried to recruit at the last minute to the
organisation notwithstanding the constitutional requirement for a 6-month
non-voting candidacy subject to the approval of a vote of the existing
So after that he tried fraud to get the majority he wanted.
He insisted that an ex-member, who had neither paid regular subscriptions nor
attended meetings for over a year, was still a full member and entitled to a
vote. ID had disagreed and insisted he was obviously lapsed. He attempted also
to pay for the votes of two candidate members six months in advance by paying
their membership subscriptions up to July 2020 in the expectation that they
would vote for his position when they gained full membership in July. Not
realising that normal Bolshevik practice is for the existing full membership in
good standing to decide on questions of membership standards. And he tried to
recruit his daughter into the organisation as a ‘candidate’, who in the last
five years had shown no particular desire to join the organisation, again
without the existing full members getting a vote on this, as is elementary.
These being desperate acts of petty corruption designed to try to win a vote
that he could not win with the properly politically recruited, active
membership of the organisation.
Ten days after the voting deadline for the second vote had
expired, and thus after the vote had been tied, GD claimed to have contacted
the lapsed ‘member’ and secured his vote, giving him a ‘majority’, and so he
reposted his original statement on the SF website fraudulently as a ‘Socialist Fight statement’, abusing his
personal position as custodian of the collectively paid-for website to do so.
A Principled Trotskyist Faction Faces Racism and Abuse
In the meantime those opposed to him had founded the
Trotskyist Faction, which produced a principled platform that stood on key
programmatic documents that made up the core politics of SF, including GD’s material on the Russian Question and deformed
workers states, ID’s material criticising the sectarian deviations of the
Spartacist tradition in dealing with mass working class-based reformist parties
that are involved in Popular Fronts; and ID’s material on Zionism and the
Jewish Question, as well as a whole set of other points making up a concrete
The Trotskyist Faction has a non-white majority and also
comprises the majority of non-white comrades in SF. GD’s undeclared faction is
all-white. But this has not stopped an
orgy of ‘racist’ baiting and at times thinly-veiled racist abuse from GD and
his faction accusing our non-white, majority Asian/Middle Eastern faction of
being sympathetic to fascism and white supremacism. That peculiarity also
should alert experienced people as to the pro-Zionist nature of GD’s faction,
as race-baiting, including of non-white leftists is a characteristic Zionist
behaviour based on belittling the oppression of non-Jewish oppressed groups.
Gareth Martin, a white South African sympathiser of GD’s
faction that he tried to inveigle into the organisation without a vote, accused
an SF comrade of Turkish/Muslim
background who lives in London of supporting the murder of Jews in synagogues
in London. But there have been no such events in London. The smear was
extremely sinister and Islamophobic, and appears to reflect a pro-Zionist
colonial outlook, as befits someone from a white-dominated racist state that
collaborated with Israel over nuclear weapons on the basis of a shared
antipathy to non-whites.
Equally disturbing was the smear from one Rob Lyons, a North
American sympathiser of GD on this issue at least, who in the course of a
Facebook discussion with our Turkish comrade, referred to Turkish men beating
their wives and became personally abusive when it was pointed out that the
person he was arguing with was Turkish. Islamophobic stereotypes and slurs have
been a key activity of GD’s pro-Zionist supporters in this factional dispute.
And if one is speaking of bigotry, there is GD’s
reproduction of a leaflet by the Spartacist League from 1999 that branded ID a
‘dangerous lunatic’ and suggested that ID was likely to physically attack
people. This on the basis of ID having once suffered from post-traumatic stress
disorder as a result of abusive behaviour experienced at the hands of leading
figures in the Spartacist League over 30 years ago, which provoked a physical
altercation 21 years ago. The leaflet GD dragged out was condemned by a workers
enquiry 21 years ago as an ‘unforgiveable crime’ by the Spartacists, of
persecuting their former members in order to provoke violence and further
victimise them. GD’s dragging out of this leaflet in this context amounts to
attacking ID for once having suffered a disability. Which is an atrocious thing
for a supposed socialist to do.
This was matched by the most pathetic bureaucratic
chicanery. As is our constitutional right in SF, the Trotskyist Faction published two statements on the
political situation in SF. One gave a
detailed analysis and condemnation of GD’s corrupt practices against us and his
organisational abuses. The other was a detailed political reply to the previous
political attacks on us. When we published this material on the website, as is
our right, GD used his ownership of the website to remove our statements. He
then deleted ID’s user login from the website, and proceeded to remove our
comrades’ posting rights on a range of SF forums on Facebook, before he
overreached himself and removed us from an international list that he does not
have control of. The international comrades objected and reinstated us. So
instead, using the stolen SF website,
he announced our ‘expulsion’ from SF,
and then finally even blocked our comrades on Facebook, the final admission
that he could not handle what we had to say politically at all.
All this tawdry behaviour, racial abuse, abuse of comrades for
having once had disabilities, and blatant anti-democratic behaviour, is a sign
of what happens when a trend capitulates to racism and right-wing politics.
Basic socialist consciousness goes out of the window and supposed socialists
behave increasingly like gutter reactionaries. It is a sad tale of degeneration
Downing Baits the Left with ‘Philosophical’ Gibberish and Nazi Smears
The real thrust of GD’s factional activity is a desire to
ingratiate and exculpate himself with capitulators to Zionism on the wider left
who had previously accused him of anti-Semitism. And thus hostility to, and
repudiation of, the previous SF
position on Zionism, and in particularly ID’s 2014 Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism.
GD came out with a fusillade of hostility to ourselves, and
even to the most advanced elements of the Jewish left who share some elements
of our analysis of Zionism and its role in promoting genocidal anti-Palestinian
policies by Western imperialist countries, including the United States, who
were it not for the activities of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeois factions and
lobbies, would have no more reason to endorse specifically genocidal policies
against Palestinians than against any other national group on this planet.
Thus he not only accused Tony Greenstein of pro-fascism over
Hannah Arendt, in internal discussions he also accused Phil Weiss, the blogger
who publishes Mondoweiss, probably
the most widely respected Jewish left blog in the United States, of being a
‘Jewish conspiracy’ theorist for articles written by him suggesting that the
Zionist lobby played a major role in ensuring that Jimmy Carter, and the elder
George Bush, each only served one term as US President, because of acts of
disobedience to Zionist demands for hard-line anti-Palestinian policies over
settlements, and also dealings with the PLO. And he widened his fascist-baiting
attack to even others on the left, publishing on Facebook a bilious attack on
Sebastian Budgen, the editor of Historical
Materialism, for suggesting in an academic context the need for a
dispassionate discussion of the influence of the philosopher Nietzsche on 19th
Century history and politics. GD posted an attack on Bugden that suggested he
shared fascist ‘social values’. When comrades protested that this was demented,
and discredited SF, we were accused,
insanely, not of being supporters even of Sebastian Budgen, but rather of being
fans of Nietzsche himself!
The issue of the philosophical views of various allegedly
pro-fascist philosophers was not a major issue in the dispute, but GD tried to
make it so, as a smokescreen to cover up his growing antipathy to consistent
anti-Zionism and ID’s Draft Theses.
He also used this issue of philosophy to drag in various Zionist figures such
as Alan Dershowitz, Ron Rosenbaum, and Dave Rich into the polemic, to accustom
his followers to regarding such genocidal anti-Arab racists as authorities on
who is a racist or fascist, or who is not. Toward the end of the dispute, GD
took to allowing an obvious pseudonymous Zionist troll, one ‘Sven Gölly’, who
we suspect is a veteran of many anti-left smear campaigns including those
against Corbynities, to post attacks on the Trotskyist Faction on the stolen SF website, just to underline what a
good little servant GD now is of the Zionist lobby.
In seeking to defend his original outrageous attack on Tony
Greenstein over Hannah Arendt, GD quoted one Ron Rosenbaum, who attacked Arendt
for her lack of ethnic, communal sentiment thus:
“One can still hear this Arendtian shame about ethnicity these days. So parochial! One can hear the echo of Arendt’s fear of being judged as ‘merely Jewish’ in some, not all, of those Jews so eager to dissociate themselves from the parochial concerns of other Jews for Israel. The desire for universalist approval makes them so disdainful of any ‘ethnic’ fellow feeling. After all, to such unfettered spirits, it’s so banal.”
It was pointed out in the course of the discussion what
Rosenbaum’s politics and “‘ethnic’ feeling” actually were, and that he had
deeply racist ‘ethnic’ feelings about Palestinians, projecting his own
genocidal ‘feelings’ onto Palestinians in a way that is classic. For instance
this quote was rather relevant. According to Wikipedia, his view is:
“’The Palestinians want a Hitlerite Judenrein state, however much violence it takes to accomplish it. Not separation, elimination.’ The Palestinians are, he asserts, engaged in incessant state and religious incitement to murder Jews. The ‘stabbing intifada’ is not an insurgency, but a matter of ‘the ritual murder of Jews’. Whereas Hitler tried to hide his crimes, the Palestinians celebrate killing Jews.”
The response to this
became a repeated refrain from GD, that to attack the racism of these Zionists
was an ad-hominem attack; that you
had to refute their ‘arguments’ which were ‘truthful’. This is a grossly
hypocritical argument from GD, and completely at odds with the argument that he
made against anti-Zionists, that such-and-such a person may have dodgy views
(allegedly) about Jews, and therefore to agree with anything they say about
anything makes the person who cites them complicit in their (alleged) racism
themselves. To agree with Gilad Atzmon, who is Jewish, about anything, makes
you (allegedly) an ‘anti-Semite’. But to agree with Ron Rosenbaum, who says
that every Palestinian is worse than Hitler, is just fine! That is classic
Zionist racism and double standards from GD. To him, now he has made his peace
with Zionism, Jews truly are more important than Arabs!
All this racist hypocrisy was instrumental, the real purpose
of the polemic was to atone for his previous adherence to genuine anti-Zionism
(now dubbed ‘anti-Semitism’) and to hopefully discredit and bury the previous
position on Zionism of Socialist Fight.
Alan Dershowitz was Trump’s lawyer in his impeachment trial and America’s most
prominent Nakba denier, who was torn
apart by Norman Finkelstein in his work Beyond
Chutzpah. According to GD, to agree with someone like Atzmon who appears to
harbour doubts about some aspects of the Nazi holocaust, is to be tainted with
But to cite an outright Nakba
denier, one of the most prominent, to attack Gilad Atzmon as a racist and a
white supremacist (allegedly), is just fine. Just another manifestation of that
double standard that considers today’s oppressors (Jewish-Zionists) as more
important and morally superior to their Arab victims, and their supporters,
even Jewish ones. Or one might suspect, given GD’s indulgence of pro-Zionist
family friends of his, while engaging in bilious attacks on a number of
prominent anti-Zionist Jews, especially Jewish ones are the target.
“My Enemy’s Enemy is my Friend”
It is well-known that in the Middle East, where the
genocidal oppressors and ethnic cleansers of the Palestinians over the last
century or more of Zionist settlement and then the imposition of the state of
Israel on the Arab people through dispossession and seemingly endless wars, are
Zionist Jews and the ‘democratic’ imperialists, there is an understandable
softness and nostalgia for those imperialists’ defeated rivals in the Second
This is a normal response of oppressed peoples everywhere to
their oppression, and it worked both ways in imperialist wars and even in the
Cold War, with those oppressed by one imperialist camp seeking help from their
oppressors’ rivals, with those oppressed by Stalinism seeking help from the
imperialists at times, and with those oppressed by imperialism seeking help
from the Soviet bloc. There were pro-Axis nationalists at work in WW2 under
British colonial rule in India, in Ireland, and in the Middle East. This is no
surprise to Marxists, though it may outrage pro-imperialist jingoes.
The oppression of Arabs by the Zionist state has persisted
much longer, three-quarters of a century, than the Third Reich, which lasted
only 12 years. Thus it is hardly a surprise that this kind of “my enemy’s enemy
is my friend” sentiment has deep roots among the Arab masses, and this finds
reflection in the actions of political leaders.
So there have been
speeches denying the truth of the Nazi holocaust by some of the most celebrated
leaders of the Arab masses and their allies, including Gamal Abdul Nasser, who
spoke of “the lie of the 6 million” back in 1964, from Mahmoud Abbas, who is now
the stooge leader of the Palestinian authority, but who once wrote a holocaust
denial thesis, to the Assad regime, which as is well-known has distributed
pro-Nazi material denying the Nazi holocaust for decades, to Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian president, who organised international
conferences to debate the historicity of the Shoah, to Hamas, whose original,
authoritative charter endorsed the Protocols
of the Elders of Zion.
This also has a
degree of influence on the most alienated elements of the oppressor people,
those such as Atzmon (he is only the best known of a whole milieu of Jewish
‘traitors’) who have abandoned the people of their birth completely and
identify with the oppressed. This should hardly be a great surprise either, to
Marxists and anti-imperialists. It is not something that we endorse at all, as
opponents of imperialism in general, but we do comprehend what drives those
oppressed by ‘our’ imperialism, and to a degree many who sympathise with them,
to look to ‘their’ oppressors’ enemies for help, or at least some vicarious
So you have to be pretty credulous, and infected with
incipient pro-Zionist and Western chauvinism, to cite a racist sociopath like
Derhowitz to give testimony as to how Atzmon and Israel Shamir, to name but
two, are Nazis and how Atzmon supports the programme of white supremacy. But
that is what GD did in the discussion. He managed to drag out the fact that
Atzmon, informed that David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan
from the 1960s and 1970s, liked some of his writings about Jewish identity and
had similar views about Jewish exclusivism himself (while of course being very
much in favour of white exclusivism), paid him a compliment back.
Duke abandoned open fascism and sought ‘respectability’ in both
the major American bourgeois parties at various times since the 1980s. Atzmon compared Duke with Avigdor Liebermann,
an ultra-right minister in Israel’s government who favours the wholesale
expulsion of the Arab population, and said that compared to Liebermann Duke was
a ‘humanist’ as he ‘only’ was in favour of separation and not outright
genocide. A foolish and naïve remark characteristic of that trend in the Middle
East that sees the avowed enemy of one’s enemy as a potential friend, but in no
way indicative of any endorsement of the oppression perpetrated by the likes of
It is worth noting that in citing Dershowitz, the Nakba denier and defender of massacres,
to attack Atzmon, GD praised the Zionist thug as a ‘noted civil libertarian’, a
preposterous accolade that really is just as foolish as calling David Duke a
Downing/Rich’s ‘Fascist’ Smear Against Atzmon and TF
Then there is his reproduction of the article “Is Gilad
Atzmon a fascist?” by Dave Rich of the Community Security Trust,
an organisation that as Tony Greenstein says, “has a hidden agenda which is the
political use of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a means of demonising the opponents of
Zionism, including Jewish opponents.” This appears to be the political agenda
of GD also, now he has capitulated wholesale to Zionism. GD regurgitates Rich’s
incomplete quotes from Atzmon where he says in his work Being and Time that:
“Fascism, I believe, more than any other ideology, deserves our attention, as it was an attempt to integrate left and right[, …]”
Unfortunately it does not even quote the complete paragraph,
as Atzmon continues:
“… the ‘dream’ and the ‘concrete’ into a unified political system. Fascism was an incredible economic success, but it failed to sustain itself. Why?”
Of course, when you omit the end of the paragraph, you miss
out the bit where he says it failed, which makes it rather less than the
‘endorsement’ that Rich says it is. Atzmon answers his own question later in
the same section where he writes:
“The answer is that fascism’s appeal were the causes of its failure. Fascism merged the left egalitarian utopia with Right rootedness, mass production and private ownership. In theory this should form a perfect bond, yet it may be possible that the ‘dream’ and the ‘concrete’ cannot be integrated into a single political system. It is the desire that connects being and becoming, yet the desire is, in itself, within the realm of the void. It is mysterious and it cannot be materialised into a system. Fascism’s attempt to touch the Real – its attempt to merge the fantasy and the factual murdered the desire: it was an attempt to make people into deities, and so promised the impossible.”
This is of course idealistic nonsense, but it is clear that
despite the tortured reasoning derived from over-indulgence in idealistic
philosophy, Atzmon concludes that it is not possible to ‘integrate’ left and
right into a ‘single political system’. He could have deduced that by studying
some basic historical materialist investigations of capitalism, such as Marx’s Wages, Price and Profit instead of
wasting a chunk of his life studying idealistic philosophy in mainstream
academia, but this method of investigation of the world obviously did not make
him a ‘fascist’. His conclusion that fascism fails because it cannot make
people into gods, is a condemnation not only of fascism but also of Neitzsche,
whose concept of the god-like ‘supermen’ some consider may have provided
ideological inspiration for fascism. So it is clear that, contrary to the smear
from Dave Rich, that Atzmon does not think it possible to integrate right and
left into a ‘single political system’ and therefore the implication in the
title of Dave Rich’s article is just another Zionist smear.
Atzmon’s strength is when he analyses Jewish identity, a
subject he is intimately familiar with, in The
Wandering Who, which is an important and somewhat ground-breaking book. His
great weakness is when he tries to extend the idealistic methods he has learned
in academia and which did not particularly disrupt his analysis in The Wandering Who, to other, non-Jewish
spheres of politics. There he really does not understand what he is dealing
with, and his attempt to apply idealistic analysis to non-Jewish movements and
ideologies produces a strange impression of him floating on the surface of
Ironically the schema he comes up with, that of generalising
Orwell’s The Lion and the Unicorn to
create a world of autonomous nationally-based but non-exclusionary, cooperating
egalitarian socialist states, owes much to utopian socialism. It rejects
Marxism’s materialist understanding that such things are impossible because the
productive forces have long since outgrown national boundaries and hence
rational economic planning can only take place on an international scale.
Atzmon rejects that because he considers that
‘cosmopolitanism’, i.e. internationalism, is a cover for Jewish chauvinism and
a means for Jews to dominate other peoples. This is simply an erroneous
extrapolation from Israeli experience and another indication of the failure of
his idealistic view to understand the world. It is also Judeo-centric; Atzmon
puts Jews at the centre of absolutely everything, but while the Jewish Question
is indeed strategic as pointed out earlier, it is material reality, not ‘Jewish
ideology’ that is the determining factor in the world.
But it is legitimate to ask, in the light of GD’s
regurgitation of Dave Rich’s smear against Atzmon, the question: “Is Dave Rich
a fascist?”. You can search the entire
corpus of Atzmon’s writings and you will not find support for the oppression of
any national or ethnic group. This however is not true of Dave Rich. In his
work The Left’s Jewish Problem, he
baldly states the following:
“Comparing the plight of the Palestinians with the Holocaust performs several functions. Its political goal is to undermine the idea that the Holocaust provided a moral justification and a practical need for the creation of a Jewish state.”
Cut out the cant and the double standards and this says that
the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing, the massacres such as Deir Yassin, and the 70+
years of oppression and terror against the Palestinian people have “moral
justification”. The argument is clearly racist; it says that the past suffering
of one people, the European Jews, at the hands of Hitler, provides “moral
justification” for massacres and ethnic cleansing of another people, the
Palestinian Arabs. How is this different in principle from someone who
justifies the death camps, the gas chambers, the starvation and wilful malign
neglect in the camps whose purpose was that disease would get the inmates if
the gas chambers did not?
From the point of view of Marxism, of anti-racist
universalism, and the interests of the working class, there is no difference.
There is no moral difference between someone who supports gassing Jews and
someone who supports the massacre and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. But for
GD, in his pro-Zionist, i.e. racist degeneration, ethnic cleansers, pogromists
and the like who defend the murder of Arabs, are just fine, and it is perfectly
permissible to promote their lying propaganda to smear anti-Zionists.
Downing’s Real Target
But all this is just a means to an end for GD. The real
target of all this rancid pro-Zionist hate propaganda was the Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern
Imperialism. In conversation with Atzmon in 2018, GD rejected criticisms of
its supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ as ‘Zionism’. But now as the concluding point of
his renegade, pro-Zionist faction he writes:
“We 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. We 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.”
In his own terms, as expounded to Atzmon in his 2018
interview, GD is now advocating ‘Zionist’ politics in denouncing the notion of
the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie as ‘anti-Semitic’. But this passage is laughably
contradictory and anti-Marxist.
First of all it mendaciously appends ‘the world’ to the term
‘the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie’. That is not there in the original Draft Theses, which talks about the Jewish-Zionist
bourgeoisie as being ‘pan-imperialist’ and even ‘pan-national’ but in a context
that makes it clear it is confined to the main Western imperialist countries
(which obviously excludes Japan). There is no suggestion of a ‘world’
Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie in the original theses, so GD is attacking something
completely fictional in the manner of Zionist liars like Dave Rich and Alan
Dershowitz that he now admires. It’s clear that in appending ‘the world’, GD is
using Goebells’ technique of the Big Lie.
The passage notes that “Zionism” is a “political tendency”
that exists “within the Jewish ethnicity” but promises to use only the term
“Zionism” to describe it. Presumably then, pointing out that Zionism is Jewish
will be verboten. But this definition
itself says that “Zionism” exists “within the Jewish ethnicity”, i.e. that
Zionism is Jewish. But to say that Zionism is Jewish, or is a “political
tendency within the Jewish ethnicity” is ‘anti-Semitic’. So by his own logic,
GD’s own new ‘definition’ is itself anti-Semitic.
Or perhaps it is saying that to posit Zionism as an ideology
of the bourgeoisie “within the Jewish ethnicity” is anti-Semitic? Really? So GD
is saying that class analysis of the nature of Zionism is anti-Semitic, and
thereby verboten also? It seems like
it. It thus seems that he agrees therefore with Dave Rich that Marxism itself
is anti-Semitic. For GD, even though Zionism is a bourgeois ideology (it
certainly does not represent the historic interests of the proletariat!) and is
located “within the Jewish ethnicity” it is apparently ‘anti-Semitic’ to say
that that Zionism is the ideology of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie. Even
though it is obviously true.
Then there is the concept of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie
being a ‘vanguard’. Norman Finkelstein had something to say about that. In his
essay ‘Corbyn Mania’ from 2018, he noted that in the United States
the non-Jewish bourgeoisie now see the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie as a step up
in social status from themselves, and thus non-Jewish bourgeois families such
as the Clintons and Trumps see their offspring marrying into Jewish families as
amounting to ‘marrying up’ the social scale. This corroborates the point in the
Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern
Imperialism that the wider bourgeoisie see the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie
as a particularly class-conscious layer of their own class (a ‘vanguard’) and
hence themselves award it a higher social status. This is simply empirical
observation of the behaviour of the different sections of the bourgeoisie
towards each other.
But according to GD, such an observation is an “anti-Semitic
trope”. Therefore, logically, GD must also denounce Norman Finkelstein’s 2018
essay as anti-Semitic. This fits in with the reference to Finkelstein in his
recent bizarre letter to the Weekly
he appears to endorse Toby Abse’s 1999 Nazi-baiting attack on the CPGB for
defending Finkelstein’s The Holocaust
Industry against reactionary, pro-Zionist criticism from the SWP’s Alex
Callinicos. The same Alex Callinicos who today has his goons strong-arm
Palestinian activists who object to the SWP including Zionist racists in its
‘Stand up to Racism’ events.
In the context of this grovelling to Zionism, GD’s claim to
still stand for the Palestinian ‘right to return’ is about as meaningful as
Rebecca Long-Bailey’s claim to stand for Palestinian rights after she has
signed up to the Tory-Zionist Board of Deputies’ ’10 commandments’, one of
which is to give Zionist outfits such as the Jewish Labour Movement control of
excluding pro-Palestinian activists from the Labour Party on the grounds of
supposedly combatting ‘anti-Semitism’. GD’s residual ‘anti-Zionism’ is flagrantly
contradicted by his smearing of his own comrades and other anti-Zionist
militants, including many Jewish ones, using Zionist material as a weapon. He
smears not just Atzmon, but Finkelstein, Greenstein, Weiss and more, as
anti-Semitic and/or soft on Nazism. His ‘anti-Zionism’ is meaningless in the
light of that.
We Go Forward!
Based on his theft of the Socialist Fight website, which was
paid for by the subs of the active members over a period of several years, GD
has now announced the ‘expulsion’ of the Trotskyist Faction from Socialist Fight. But that is
meaningless. He does not have the votes to expel us. He would need a majority
of full members to convene and vote for expulsion to do that. When his
political position itself was put to the full members in London and nationally,
he failed to win a majority.
What has actually happened is that he has stolen our website
and filled it with semi-Zionist, personalist, abusive nonsense. We, the
Trotskyist Faction, consider ourselves to be the real core of Socialist Fight as a revolutionary
Marxist organisation. We continue to be affiliated to the Liaison Committee of
the Fourth International and note that we have never been legitimately expelled
from anything. As the real continuity of Socialist
Fight we have registered a new website with the domain http://socialistfight.org,
or alternatively http://trotskyistfaction.org, to emphasise that we are a
principled faction that is determined to carry on with the politics and
programme that GD and his renegade clique has betrayed. We also intend to
publish a new journal to carry on with the Trotskyist politics of the old Socialist Fight. We will go forward, let our enemies beware!
This document was originally published on the Socialist Fight website (socialistfight.com) on 4 February. It was taken down by the bureaucratic action of Gerry Downing on 10 Feb, in defiance of the constitution of SF which guarantees the right of factions to publish their views in the organisations publications, including of course the website. But many had read it by the time it was taken down,so the act of censorship is also conspicuous, damaging and an admission of their inability to reply to it.
The problem is that Gerry Downing and his undeclared faction cannot refute this critque. Their only response to it has been a bilious dismissal of it as a ‘lying document’. And Gerry has been whining that comrade Ian Donovan supposedly duped him for five years into endorsing political views he now wishes he had not, now that he has capitulated to the Zionist witchhunt in British society in general. An unedifying spectacle.
It is unfortunately the case that there is a major division in Socialist Fight, British Section of the Liaison Committee for The Fourth International. This division is not primarily about Gilad Atzmon, though the sound and fury in the hysterical ‘Statement’ published by Gerry Downing’s undeclared and fraudulent faction (whose claims to be a majority only on the basis of falsely claiming as a member someone who lapsed a long time ago) might make it appear so. It is actually about Zionism, and comrade Gerry Downing’s capitulation to the enormous pressure of from political forces that express pro-Zionist social power, which has now risen to unheard of levels in the UK.
This is obvious if you think of two related social facts. One is the defeat of the Labour Party in the December 2019 General Election. Everyone in Britain knows that supporters of Israel and the leaders of the mainstream organisations of British Jewry played a major role in Labour’s defeat. Amplified by the right-wing media and the Tory-dominated BBC, mendacious accusations of anti-Jewish racism among Labour Party members were trumpeted far and wide. The effect of the lie machine was not so much to make the smears widely believed: the accusations were usually so illogical that only those who wanted to believe them did so. But the effect was to make Labour and Jeremy Corbyn appear weak. Corbyn repeatedly confessed and apologised for non-existent anti-Jewish racism in Labour.
Well known figures on the left, such as Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson, Gerry Downing himself, and Cyril Chilsom, were expelled, suspended or hounded into resigning from the Labour Party, along with many more lesser known people, amid ferocious media smears about alleged anti-Semitism. It became conventional media wisdom that Labour Party members hated Jews. There were even crappy ‘comedy’ routines on some TV shows about the Labour Party hating Jews. The power of a lying, pro-Zionist media in this country is currently enormous, and the Labour leadership crumbled before it, throwing many of the figures mentioned above under the bus. This certainly played an important role in making Labour appear weak, even pusillanimous, and thus was one of many key factors that contributed to the election defeat.
Then there is the victory of Johnson’s Tories themselves. Johnson is Britain’s Trump, a fierce pro-Zionist and a supporter of Trump’s openly pro-Zionist policies. Johnson now has an ‘anti-Semitism Czar’, former Labour Zionist MP John Mann, best known for his hounding of Ken Livingstone in 2016. His job among other things is to ‘investigate’ far left websites and publications looking for ‘anti-Semitism’ defined according to the IHRA definition, which seeks to criminalise meaningful criticism of Israel and Zionism. Johnson has immediately moved to reinstate previously defeated plans to ban councils from supporting boycotts of Israel and the BDS movement. He has also openly supported Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ which involves the annexation of large parts of the West Bank by Israel and is so blatant a denial of any pretence of Palestinians having national rights that even the stooge Palestinian authority of Mahmood Abbas completely boycotted it.
So that is two interrelated deeply reactionary developments intimately connected with Zionism in the past few months, that have shifted British politics very sharply to the right and created a much more ideologically, and potentially legally, threatening environment for anti-Zionists. That creates enormous social pressure on what previously had been the most uncompromising and consistently anti-Zionist group on the British left, Socialist Fight.
The decline of Corbynism and the ascent of Johnson to power have exposed latent political weakness, and in one crucial sense one issue that in hindsight was a political fudge, in Socialist Fight’s politics regarding Zionism. Revolutionaries are always vulnerable to social pressure, but hidden political weaknesses can provide an entry point for something alien to Marxism to find its way in and damage key components of the group. This was the starting point of the political problems that have led us to this problem. It is not a problem merely of personal weaknesses, or the aging of our cadre, as might be concluded empirically. Those are just symptoms of where we came from.
Leftward moving – before the division
Socialist Fight before this division took place was, or aspired to be, a synthesis of the best elements of the orthodox Trotksyist tradition. We had components with experience in both the Healy and Robertson groups, different strands of orthodoxy. This was quite a slowly emerging synthesis as due to the deformations of both traditions, both of our central leading cadre had had past experiences that led to some demoralisation and some drift away from orthodoxy, whether being in the United Secretariat in the case of comrade Downing, or the third-campist CPGB/Weekly Worker, and then a relationship with the very left-wing but third-campist US League for the Revolutionary Party in the case of comrade Donovan.
What led to our joining together in the middle of this decade was militant anti-Zionism; we converged on a set of theses that comrade Donovan had written while in a bloc with the CPGB within Left Unity in 2014, which led to his expulsion from the bloc on the kind of charges of “political” anti-Semitism that were levelled at Socialist Fight and are now being raised by comrade Downing himself. However as comrade Downing himself acknowledged, the recruitment of another experienced Trotskyist cadre enormously strengthened the group. The context of this was the rise of Corbynism as a genuine left-wing development within the British Labour movement, something which pushed British politics to the left and gave a further leftward impulse to our cadre.
The group has been through some serious political fights over Zionism with other forces externally, most notably through Gerry’s expulsion from the Labour Party in March 2016, the fighting off of the attempt to purge him from the LRC later that year, and then the fight over our exclusion from Labour Against the Witchhunt at the end of 2017 and early 2018. Socialist Fight actually picked up a modest number of serious recruits as a result of this work, which then laid the basis for the fusion with the small group of ex-Moreno supporters in Liverpool. But there was one key difference that was fudged between comrades Donovan and Downing that it was a key mistake to fail to fight out. It is the fatal weakness that, in the context of the decline of Corbynism and defeats inflicted by Zionist forces on the British labour movement, of the current division and comrade Downing’s political retreat.
Israel and Nazi Germany
The issue was quite straightforward; given that Israel is recognised by Socialist Fight as a racist state, in fact the world’s most openly racist state, should SF advocate that support for Israel be proscribed tout court in the Labour Party? Comrade Donovan said yes, comrade Downing insisted no; he cited as examples some Jewish neighbours who supported Israel, albeit in a ‘soft’ way, who were, so he said, good socialists despite their support for Israel.
This is quite an interesting question given the fulminations in the statement of the Downing faction ‘statement’ about people that oppose such right-wing causes as Zionism’s oppression of the Palestinians, or Johnson’s Brexit regime, who have gone to the effort to dig out dirt about the Rothschilds and their past involvement in Zionism and British politics, including from Nazi sources. Given that Israel as an openly racist state is only comparable to similar openly racist states such as Nazi Germany, Apartheid South Africa, or the post-Civil War Jim Crow apartheid Southern United States, then why is it permissible for a ‘good socialist’ to be a defender of Israel, but not for some diffuse, non-Marxist but broadly left-wing individual to go to Nazi sources for information about historical questions like the Rothschilds?
This is particularly apposite given that Israel is the only one of these states that still exists. That is, an openly racist state that is considered part of the ‘Free World’ and thereby one of the ‘family of democracies’ in the lingo of Western imperialism. Jim Crow became a deep embarrassment to the democratic pretentions of the West in the 1950s, which is why the US Civil Rights movement had some real victories (now being rolled back). Apartheid South Africa was even more of an embarrassment and had to be thrown out of the British Commonwealth in 1961. Nazi Germany is obviously an anathema since WWII.
So Gerry agreed that SF should advocate that the Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement, as organisations, should be proscribed as these are openly racist organisations. But he refused to agree SF should argue that support for Israel as a racist state should be banned within Labour. That was a step that he was unprepared to take. The reason being quite simple; that he had a fairly good relationship with some local Israel-loyal Jewish Labour people and to advocate that their views be proscribed would upset them, to say the least. That was taking anti-Zionism too far, in his view.
But that is the nub of the problem. Israel does have a considerable degree of support in the right-wing of the Laboour Party, and even among some ostensibly left-wing groups from the AWL to elements in Momentum. To advocate that Israel be treated in the same way as other racist states would be to anathemise a whole swathe of ostensibly left-wing opinion.
In fact, when the Third Reich existed it was never necessary to proscribe support for it in Labour as it was simply unthinkable that any Labour Party members would support such an abomination. Likewise with apartheid and Jim Crow. But support for Israel is socially completely acceptable in Labour, almost obligatory for the right-wing, to the point that the passage of the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism means that to say that Israel is a racist endeavour is not permitted. Let alone to advocate proscribing support to Israel because of it being a racist endeavour. Gerry would never agree to raising this demand and in hindsight, comrade Donovan is self-critical that he did not openly criticise comrade Downing for this. Because it is the real root cause of the current division, as it appears that it is social pressure from this very milieu, which has driven comrade Gerry to the right.
It is worth noting that this anomaly, the social acceptability in the labour movement of support for a genocidal racist Israeli state some of whose policies towards an oppressed people resemble Nazism, can have unexpected consequences internationally that have bearing on this dispute, and can only damage the credibility of working-class politics itself if not fought.
Labour Zionism and Bolshevism: A Confusion
For instance, Gerry has fulminated recently against Gilad Atzmon and Devon Nola as echoing ‘Nazi propaganda’ for arguing that ‘atrocities’ allegedly committed by the Bolsheviks were a function of the supposedly high representation of Jews in its cadre. But no one bothers to ask how it possible that a Israeli-Jewish-led diffuse trend of strongly pro-Palestinian opinion might draw such conclusions so much at odds with history.
One pointer as to how such a thing can come to be believed is the very respectability of Zionist racism in the Labour Party, and the labour movement itself. Familiarity with this regrettable reality helps breed complacency here. But in the Middle East, and among people who have experienced the politics of that region, it brings discredit upon the labour movement itself. When you combine that with the fact that in Israel, Zionism first came to power under a Labour banner, and parties to the left of Zionist Labour, such as the pro-Moscow, apparently pro-Russian Revolution MAPAM, played a major role in the birth of Israel, then you begin to see the problem.
The pro-Russian, semi-‘Communist’ MAPAM, closely associated with the left-talking Kibbutz Artzi movement, had a network of 85 Kibbutzim associated with it, built of course on stolen Arab land even as the MAPAM party itself mulled ideas like binational states, and such like. In other words, these pro-USSR, pro-Russian Revolution (at least in words), leftists played an important role in the founding of Israel at the Palestinians’ expense. In the first Israeli Knesset, after 1948, MAPAM was apparently the second biggest Zionist Party, after MAPAI (ie. Labour) itself, bigger than the revisionist Herut, which is the main forerunner of today’s Likud.
In this context it is not difficult to explain how alienated Jewish-led non-Marxist trends like the Atzmonites could be suspicious of the Russian Revolution, with its obvious Jewish input, and falsely extrapolate from that the view that the many bloody crimes that flowed from the degeneration of the revolution were similar to the abuses that took place in Israel against the native people of Palestine. We live in a world where, outside relatively small old-style left-wing movements, the Russian Revolution has very little authority and is heavily demonised by the media and most education systems. Why should new leftist trends in whatever form they come into existence necessarily see the Russian Revolution as benevolent?
The hysterical response of comrade Downing to the confusion between left and right among the Atzmonites is reflective of capitulation to left-Zionist ideology. In the Middle East generally, where the main oppressors and ethnic cleaners of the Palestinian Arabs are Jewish, inhabiting a Jewish ethnocratic tyranny that engages in slow genocide with the backing of the ‘democratic’ imperialists who embrace Israel as a ‘democracy’ like them, there is a very different popular view of the Second World War to that in the West.
“My enemy’s enemy…”
Thus the Assad regime has for decades published copious quantities of Nazi material as a response to Zionist crimes. It goes back much further. In 1964, Gamal Abdul Nasser said that he opposed “the lie of the six million”. Mahmood Abbas, the current President of the stooge Palestinian authority, once produced an academic thesis that denied the Nazi genocide. The former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, held conferences to debate the truth or otherwise of the same Nazi genocide. Hamas, who won when a free election was last held in the West Bank and Gaza, praised the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in their founding charter.
The fact is that the anti-Jewish element of the Western far right get a hearing in the Middle East. This is hardly surprising. To therefore equate the masses who embody such sentiments in their rage against oppression, with the far right and the Nazis, is a pro-Zionist position. This includes the small minority of very alienated Jews who have gone over lock, stock and barrel to the Arab side in this. The fact that Atzmon, in response to being flattered by David Duke, the former Klansman, in America, for his writings on Jewish identity and the like, made a flattering comment back, is no different.
There is an element of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” deeply embedded in spontaneous anti-Zionist dissent originating in the Middle East. To equate such people with the far right, or to try to rule them beyond the pale of debate or of the workers movement, is to go over to a left-Zionist position.
Thus it is no accident that in Gerry’s original draft of his statement on this, he included a statement from America’s most famous Naqba-denier, Alan Dershowitz, denouncing Atzmon for being praised by David Duke, among a tirade of hate and smears against a variety of people. It is fitting that this came from Dershowitz as the whole thrust of his propaganda is that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism equals Hitlerism. Gerry has become like a little Dershowitz not only in his attack on Atzmon, but also in some of the other people he has vilified.
Expiation Through Indiscriminate Vilification
Evidence of Gerry’s rightward movement is to be found in his irrational and bizarre attacks on other figures on the left, and indeed particularly on the mainstream Jewish left, implying that they too are in some way anti-Semitic. For instance his attack on Tony Greenstein at Communist University, when he put out his own leaflet. This was not an SF leaflet, as it would not have been endorsed by SF comrades.
But the attack on Greenstein was clearly motivated by an attempt to ‘get back’ at him for having accused Gerry of anti-Semitism in the past. This is evidence of demoralisation: instead of continuing the fight to win the argument politically against this accusation he sought to turn the tables and imply that Greenstein was the ‘real’ anti-Semite because of his refusal to condemn Hannah Arendt for her relationship with Martin Heidegger, and having publicly stated considerable respect for her writings and philosophy.
In the course of the dispute around Atzmon and Veterans Today, Gerry denounced Phil Weiss, the leftist who runs, and is the main writer for, the highly respected US Jewish left blog Mondoweiss. This was for an article that put forward the historical view, which though its significance is disputed the facts are not, that the Israel lobby mobilised heavily against two incumbent presidents, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and George H.W Bush in 1992, and seems to have played a major role in denying them both a second term. This being because of policies on Israel/Palestine that the Israel lobby disapproved of, in Carter’s case for insisting on the Palestinians right to a state, and with Bush the Elder for withholding loan guarantees to Israel to try to force it to stop settlement activity that the President and James Baker, his Secretary of State, disapproved of.
It is not seriously disputed in US politics that the Israel lobby did indeed mobilise against these Presidents. What is subject to different views is how effective it was, whether they lost because of that, or whether it was other events in the economy and the class struggle that brought them down. The Mondoweiss article on this is hardly definitive in saying that this was the only factor involved but it does paint a detailed picture of what happened to Carter in particular. See https://mondoweiss.net/2019/02/settlements-alienated-eizenstat/
However Gerry remarked on 6 Jan that:
“As for the Mondoweiss that too is conspiracy nonsense.
“It wasn’t Jewish finance or lack of it that causes Republicans or Democrats to win presidential elections.”
Thus extending his attack on Atzmon to wider spheres of the Jewish left, after his attack on Tony Greenstein.
Then there was the more minor, but symptomatic episode of Gerry’s public attack on Sebastian Budgen, the editor of Historical Materialism, as promoting ‘fascist values’ because of a comment he put in an academic discussion encouraging a dispassionate discussion of the views of the reactionary 19th Century Philosopher Nietzsche.
Moreover criticism of the attack on Budgen within SF has since led to a continual tirade of attacks implying that those who disapprove support Nietzsche, and thus by extension, fascism. Bizarre and over the top, Gerry seems to be looking for every possible opportunity to smear anyone he can with the canard of anti-Semitism and fascist sympathies, to expiate his own transgressions, his very prominent past advocacy of views that he now suspects (wrongly) may have been anti-Semitic, as he has unfortunately capitulated ideologically to the witchhunt against Socialist Fight.
A strange symptom of this is his attack on Atzmon, which had he been so minded, he could have written at any time in the past five years, or more, since he actually endorsed Tony Greenstein’s campaign against Atzmon in 2009 and then said he had been mistaken about that when he initiated the ‘new’ Socialist Fight with a new ‘Where we stand’ statement co-written with Ian Donovan after the May 2015 General Election, around the mid-point of the Corbyn leadership election campaign.
Atzmon: A Stalking Horse for our Draft Theses
The real purpose of the attack on Atzmon and others is as a stalking horse to distance himself from our 2014 Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism. In the course of a long and tortuous discussion about whether it is permissible to cite and post material from the ‘conspiratorial’ US pro-Iran, pro-Russia anti-war website Veterans Today, and then about our Socialist Fight statement about the murder of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Suleimani by Trump and US imperialism, the issues came out.
Regarding the Suleimani murder, Gerry wrote agreeing with another comrade on the day we distributed our statement on the murder, that
“Netanyahu is Trump’s puppet, not the other way around.” (4 Jan)
The problem with this hypothesis is an assertion that, because of the economic and military power of the United States, Israel is subordinate, a puppet, of US administrations generally. But that is contradicted by reality. If Netanyahu is Trump’s ‘puppet’ simply because Trump is the US President, he must also have previously been Obama’s ‘puppet’ at the time of Obama’s Iran deal. But everyone knows that Netanyahu waged a massive campaign in the United States itself against Obama’s deal, and this peaked with a 40 minute speech to an almost unprecedented joint session of Congress, demanded by Netanyahu, on Capitol Hill on 3 March 2015 where he received 26 standing ovations from the assembled legislators for his denunciation of Obama’s deal.
As we now know, Trump’s campaign was massively funded by the Israel lobby, in particularly the Israeli-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a supporter of Netanyahu’s Likud, and Obama’s Iran deal was duly thrown aside by Trump. It is thus ridiculous to say that Netanyahu was Obama’s puppet and then Trump’s, and obviously the relation between Netanyahu and Trump is … unusual, to say the least. This has huge relevance for the real relations behind the junking of the Iran deal, and Suleimani’s murder.
So this boiled down to a form of words about whether the interests of Israel were ‘secondary’ to those of the United States bourgeoisie, i.e. US imperialism conceived of as a body completely separate from Israel, or not. Gerry wrote:
“… It is completely wrong to say that Zionism or the U.S. Zionist lobby is not secondary to U.S. imperialism itself and its global class interests. Saying that, going over from acknowledging the power of the U.S. Zionist lobby to asserting or strongly suggesting that it is controlling U.S. politically..” (6 Jan)
In later emails he expanded:
“Here Zionism dictates to US imperialism what to do in the Middle East and their own material interests are secondary. This is wrong, wrong, wrong, one sided and false. It is wrong to say, ‘It’s totally wrong to say that Zionism is secondary in what happened yesterday’ (the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on 3 January). This asserts the primacy of the ‘Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie’ and the second place for US imperialist interests in this and implicitly in every other region…” (16 Jan)
And then he accuses comrade Donovan of advocating a new position:
“… Imperialism will only ‘defer’ to Israel when it suits them, and this is not, never has been and never will be, a permanent deference; the tail does not wag the dog. However, this is starkly contradicted by the piece in which he denies that Zionism is secondary to US imperialism in reply to Alonso.”
Later this was expanded to a bald rejection of the entire thrust of the 2014 Theses:
“In whose interests do US imperialism act? The ‘Jewish-Zionist bourgeois caste’ or their own? How did we come to ask such a ridiculous question?” (20 Jan)
When the explicit thrust of the 2014 Theses are that these ruling classes are not entirely separate, that they actually overlap; a situation that the bourgeoisie of the older powers is prepared to accept because of their belief that the overlapping Jewish-Zionist layer is a crucial political asset of their class, a particularly class-conscious layer.
This was in response to previous comments by comrade Donovan, who wrote:
“Obama’s deal was an act of defiance against Israel and the lobby which is why Netanyahu came to the US Congress to try to stop it with his speech receiving numerous standing ovations from a bunch of demented Jack-in-the-boxes, as Finkelstein put it.
It’s totally wrong to say that Zionism is secondary in what happened yesterday. Is Zionism ‘secondary’ in the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? In the de-funding of UNRWA by the US to starve Palestinian refugees? In US recognition of Israel’s annexation of Golan? In the Green Light Trump has given to Israel to annex the Jordan Valley etc. by the State Department saying that it does not regard West Bank settlements as contrary to international law? (5 Jan)
He elaborated on this later:
“This is theoretically wrong as the global class interests of US imperialism – and indeed others at different intensities – and their regional, Middle Eastern class interests are relatively different things.
“You could say that the US bourgeoisie as a whole regards it as in its global class interests to allow the J-Z bourgeois caste to play the leading role on a regional level because of its usefulness to the bourgeoisie as a whole as a class asset.
“Obviously the non-JZ bourgeoisie is more numerous and if it wanted to it could very firmly put the J-Z layer in its place and certainly not allow it to ‘discipline’ dissidents in its own ranks.
“But it does so allow it, and the list of people so disciplined is quite illustrious, including Presidents Carter and George H.W. Bush, and possibly Hillary Clinton who may have been punished for Obama’s insubordination as they had no means to punish Obama himself.
“In this country a similar mechanism has been used to punish Corbyn and the Labour Party, which is even more intense because of the class hostility of the bourgeoisie as a whole to the LP in any case. It allows this because it considers the JZ caste and the state of Israel that underpins it as important class assets of the bourgeoisie as a whole.” (6 Jan)
Bourgeois Deference and Political Cultism
Comrade Donovan expanded on the mechanics of this in an exchange with Sam Trachtenberg, an American Jewish leftist who is hostile to Socialist Fight, on Facebook. Trachtenberg characterised our position thus:
“That the majority of the capitalist class is being manipulated behind the scenes by a well-organised Jewish minority who will inevitably get unquestioning lockstep loyalty and important support from the rest of the Jewish population to boot. I’ve read such formulation even in SF material couched in the thinly veiled distinctions you make here.”
To which comrade Donovan responded (edited for readability):
“The majority of the capitalist class allows this to happen because they regard the minority ethnic/communal faction as particularly class conscious representatives of their own class. They are not being manipulated. This Philo-Semitic cult has its roots in bourgeois class consciousness now that capitalism is in decline.
“Bourgeois class consciousness is not strictly rational and political cults can occur. The cult of neoliberalism and its Jewish-Zionist ideologues like Milton Friedman is the flip side of the earlier anti-Semitic irrationality that allowed them to support Hitler.
“What is excluded is that they could treat Jews as equals, with equanimity. There is an excluded middle, neither anti-Semitism nor philo-Semitism.
“But the bourgeoisie is not capable of that level of equanimity about their Jewish brethren. Probably because of the history of the Jews regarding commodity exchange. They must either be subversive devils, or God-like angels.”
“… This comes from observation over a long period. Numerous people have written about facets of it. It’s a peculiar social phenomenon that otherwise defies explanation. This has been the core of my theory since 2014. That the bourgeoisie defer to their Jewish brethren from a class instinct as they regard them as particularly class conscious.
“And classes work by a kind of spontaneous instinct. They don’t always meet collectively to work out a coherent ideology. That is true of both the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. My writings have never even referenced the standard conspiracy theories about the bourgeoisie, such as the one about the Bilderberg group etc. Because that is not how things work.
“Not conspiracies but the collective action of classes — or sometimes factions within classes. Brexit is also an example of such collective action of parts of a class against another part of the same class. The Jewish-Zionist faction works in similar ways.
“Properly understood, my theory is not anti-Jewish at all. Why should it be? Most of the resources I draw upon are Jewish.”
Consistent Revolutionary Anti-Zionism
This is the analysis that Gerry has now abandoned, having endorsed it fulsomely from 2015 and even defending it on national television in March 2016. Everyone who knows anything about Gerry and Socialist Fight knows this.
The Trotskyist faction has not abandoned this analysis and we have a principled platform that maintains the basic politics of Socialist Fight before Gerry’s tragic political degeneration, which threatens to destroy everything he ever fought for.
Through whatever organisational form, we will continue to struggle to build a revolutionary party on the basis of our consistent opposition to Zionism. In this period, political Zionism has become the cutting edge of reaction and the far right in the major imperialist countries.
The Israel lobby is a key part of the genocide machine of political Zionism. In some ways it is the most important part. Without it, Israel would not find it politically possible to pulverise the Palestinian people in the way it has been doing for decades, now decisively intensifying with the full backing of Trump and Johnson.
Those on the left who politically protect the material base of the Lobby by smearing those who criticise it as ‘anti-Semitic’ are a part of the genocide machine, its gatekeepers on the left flank. As Trotskyists, as tribunes of the oppressed, as the most consistent opponents of Zionism and defenders of the Palestinians, we will continue to fight to politically expose and oppose this phenomenon as a key part of our internationalist responsibilities as Trotskyists and supporters of the Liaison Committee of the Fourth International.
UPDATE: Since this was written, Dawn Butler has capitulated to the Zionists, signing up for a Jewish Labour Movement statement that is just as bad as that of the Board of Deputies. So this is out of date: we are no longer calling for any preference vote to her, only to Richard Burgon.
Reinstate Jo Bird and Mo Azam!
Vote Burgon 1, Butler 2 for Deputy. No Vote To Any of the Blairite/Zionist Stooge Leader Candidates!
(This leaflet was published and distributed by the Trotskyist Faction on 9 February)
The Trotskyist Faction, the revolutionary anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist wing of Socialist Fight, calls for critical support for Richard Burgon as the first choice for Deputy Leader. He at least has defied the demands of the racist Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD) to sign their ’10 commandments’, as has the softer left Dawn Butler who deserves a second preference vote. Though he himself has not always stood firm , as when he apologised for saying the simple truth, that Zionism is the “enemy of the Palestinian people”, he at least is defiant now and should be put to the test.
The actions of all the candidates standing for leader in capitulating to the pro-Tory BOD enemies of organised labour, have put the Zionist attack on democratic rights at the top of the political agenda. We say: No vote to Long-Bailey, Starmer, Thornberry and Nandy. All of these candidates, from the overt neoliberalism of Starmer to the Corbyn continuity of Long-Bailey, have sold themselves and Labour to the class enemy by signing up to the BOD’s agenda, that of organised anti-Arab racists who applauded the massacre of Palestinian civil rights marchers in Gaza and seek the wholesale expulsion of Palestine supporters from Labour.
The capitulation of Corbyn and the Labour left in the period before the election laid the basis for these attacks. For all the feverish desperation of the official ‘lefts’, it is not clear than Long-Bailey is even in a position to win, so much has the left been undermined. One very good reason why she most likely will not is that her leftism, her talk of Open Selection and democratic reform of Labour is completely contradicted by her signing the Zionists’ pledges, to destroy the democratic rights of Labour members on behalf of the Israeli state. Thus her candidacy and her left-wing promises are just not believable; she like the others standing against her, have already sold Labour to a very important part of the ruling class. The likely result of her treachery is to let in Starmer.
The labour movement should regard the BOD and other Zionist cheerleaders for racist massacres and ethnic cleansing of Arab civilians as roughly equivalent to Neo-Nazis trying to dictate to the working class. We would not have tolerated Nazis when Jews were persecuted telling the left we had ‘no right’ to stand up for Jews. Well we should no more tolerate viciously racist bourgeois Jewish-Zionist organisations dictating to us about Palestine and banning criticism of their totalitarian racism today. They need to be very publicly declared persona non-grata to the whole labour movement. Support for Israel should be anathema in every labour movement body, just as much as support for Nazi racism.
The suspension of Jo Bird and Mohammad Azam in the NEC election is racist-ballot rigging, pure and simple. Of course we demand their immediate reinstatement, but it has to be said that capitulation of the vast bulk of the Labour and Trade Union bureaucracy, including much of the ‘left’, to the Zionist takeover of the Labour Party has made that very unlikely today. The blatant racism of the suspensions is breathtaking: Jo Bird is Jewish but in this reactionary climate she has already been accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ once, a smear akin to accusations of ‘anti-white racism’ from neo-Nazis and the like. And the motive for purging Azam is equally transparent, as they don’t want people of Asian/Muslim background, particularly leftist ones, on leading committees as they cannot be relied on to vote for Israeli racism.
Pam Bromley, a left-wing councillor who has just been expelled herself, reported that 11.400 members have been recently expelled. That is an incredible number purged and there must be a risk to the right-wing and the Zionists that if they became organised, they could become a substantial political force.
We need a political lifeboat for the many Labour members who are in the process of being purged, or leaving in disgust. There needs to be created a principled bloc of socialists on the basis of the principle of freedom of criticism and debate, and unity in action, to build a broadly left-wing movement that can organise both pro-socialist militants within the Labour Party, and outside it. Given the totalitarian climate that currently exists within the Labour Party, there may even have to be a degree of clandestinity about the way it organises. Such a body must have a revolutionary component to act as the yeast to bring into being a genuinely anti-capitalist party, a party that can fight for socialism and which realises that capitalism in decline is making a serious struggle for social reforms impossible within the existing social and political system.
We Trotskyists stand on a transitional programme whose purpose is to act as a bridge between the felt needs of working class people today and the destruction of capitalism. But a felt need of today is for a political movement, a party, of the working class that can enforce class independence against the Zionists and the mendacious neoliberal media machine, which has effectively hollowed out and abolished in practice even much of the limited democracy that exists under capitalism. That party cannot be just declared, it must be fought for and built by a regroupment of forces currently within and without the Labour Party, not on the basis of trying to repeat the errors of the Labour left, but going beyond Labourism itself, so that a truly mass force, not just a sect or an agglomeration of existing sects, can be crystallised.
Of course that sounds like a tall order today. But with the rapid decline of both capitalism and democracy, and the advancing shadow of environmental and economic catastrophe, nothing can be more urgent.
This item was originally published on Socialist Fight website (socialistfight.com) on 30 Jan. It was taken down bureaucratically on 10 Feb, in defiance of the constitution of SF which guarantees the right of factions to publish their views in the organisations publications, including of course the website.
It was up for 11 days and hundreds have read it. So its disappearance is almost as embarrassing as its appearance and obviously an act of incompetent, bureaucratic censorship after the horse has bolted. Gerry Downing cannot refute the corruption spelt out in detail in this document and the signatories of the Trotskyist Platform of Socialist Fight – almost 50% of the committed full members of the organisation excluding a few who have not endorsed either faction – are still members of SF and more importantly its international tendency, the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International. The bureaucratic faction do not have the votes to expel us, but they are trying to deprive us of the means to argue by whatever means available to them, which is not much. Its a tragi-comic impasse, but not of our doing, as this document spells out.
This statement was already written when we discovered that on 30 Jan 2020 Gerry Downing fraudulently put out his statement denouncing Gilad Atzmon and some of his associated and co-thinkers, in the name of Socialist Fight, 13 days after a 17th January vote was taken in which he failed to get a majority. He now claims that one member who had clearly lapsed, JC, whose case is addressed below, was a full member all along, and that gave him a majority after all. This question was raised at the 17th January meeting and various arguments were made to the effect that JC should be treated as a member. This was never agreed and ratified in an endorsed set of minutes in any case.
Objections had been raised by comrade Donovan in the meeting on the grounds that JC had made not paid subs, only made sporadic donations and had not been to any meetings for well over a year. The draft minutes mistakenly recorded that it was agreed that he was a member, after a hue and cry from Gerry and his ‘candidate members’ whose presence was itself contentious, and unwanted as the meeting in which it took place had originally been booked and planned by the decision of full members as a private meeting for those full members only.
These draft minutes had not been agreed, and the objection that JC was lapsed was made again by email during the following week. Comrade Downing claims that the statement in the draft minutes is gospel even though those minutes had not been ratified by a subsequent meeting. In any case, since JC was not at the meeting on 17 Jan, and did not vote before the deadline despite being notified, it is clear that he was not acting as a member. It is now clear that comrade Downing chased him down in the 10 days or so after the vote, persuaded him to pretend to be a member, and then retrospectively changed the vote. But the fact is that at the deadline, the vote was tied and so the statement fell. The original statement this faction put out on 18th January after the vote was tied did not include JC’s name.
There is no agreement that JC is a member and the ‘Socialist Fight statement’ comrade Downing has put out is doubly fraudulent. JC had lapsed long ago, having not attended any meetings for over a year nor paid regular subscriptions. No meeting had the power to rewrite that history in any case. Anyone with such a record would be deemed to have lapsed from membership in a variety of organisations.
Socialist Fight has always aspired to the Bolshevik tradition, including by endorsing Lenin’s position in 1903 that a party member is someone engaged in “participation in one of the Party organizations”. The split of Lenin’s ‘hards’ from Martov’s ‘softs’ (the Mensheviks) was in counterposition to their definition that a member is someone who “renders it regular personal assistance under the direction of one of its organizations”. However even the latter involves paying regular subs; JC’s membership would have lapsed from the Mensheviks, or even from today’s Labour Party.
Thus comrade Downing has not only betrayed the consistent anti-Zionist positions he used to uphold, he has flagrantly betrayed the democracy of his own organisation by fraudulently and retrospectively rewriting the history of a vote he didn’t win; he has fraudulently declared an ex-member to be a full member in order to claim to have ‘won’ a vote he failed to win, and he has in the process totally betrayed the Bolshevik tradition on the party question.
All this indicates, as the statement below shows, a complete decay of communist consciousness and the embrace of opportunism.
We have looked at the letter and cheque that comrade Gerry Downing sent to Ian, the Treasurer, supposedly constituting membership fees for GM and CW.
We are of the opinion that all dealings regarding membership and membership subs within a communist organisation must be strictly above board, and must at the very least meet the standards expected by the labour and socialist movement generally. In fact we must be better.
For instance Clause 4 of Chapter III of the Labour Party rulebook includes the following:
“A. It is an abuse of Party rules for one individual or faction to ‘buy’ Party membership for other individuals or groups of individuals who would otherwise be unwilling to pay their own subscriptions.
“F. Party officers and members should be aware that involvement in such abuses shall be considered as behaviour likely to bring the Party into disrepute and prima facie evidence of such behaviour may lead to disciplinary action leading to expulsion under the constitutional rules of the Party.”
Such considerations must be maintained in a communist organisation more even than a mere reformist party.
It does appear that comrade Downing has paid the membership fees, for these two supposed new candidate members, for six months in advance. Not only is this contrary to the rules of financial probity even of the Labour Party – see clauses above – but it also has a brazen cynicism about it in another way. Because even if it were conceded that these people are legitimately candidate members of the organisation – and we do not concede this – it is completely wrong that candidate members should have their membership fees paid in advance for the whole of their six month period of candidacy – thereby short-circuiting their candidacy and rendering it a corrupt process.
This amounts to a corrupt payment for membership in a double sense – not only are their dues paid by someone else, but the process of candidacy in a communist organisation – which is supposed to be a process where a new member proves their commitment in practice over a period of sustained political activity, including by paying the appropriate sub month-by-month as part of that commitment, is substituted by a single payment by the leader of an unprincipled faction just bribing the organisation to give them full membership in a few months, thus displaying complete contempt for all notions of commitment to a communist organisation.
This can only reflect a complete collapse of the entire concept of commitment to a communist organisation, replacing that with a squalid vote-buying process so comrade Downing can by himself some extra votes for his faction in a few months’ time. This can only signify a complete collapse of communist political consciousness by the person paying this cash for votes.
This is particularly obvious with CW, an amiable enough long-time friend of the organisation, but who had not sought membership over the last five years. He is retired, with little money and health problems. Comrade Downing repeatedly complained he never paid us anything over all that period. At least he is broadly speaking a political supporter. But paying his membership subs six months in advance still amounts to buying his vote.
Then there is GM. He clearly is hostile to the established politics of the group, so hostile in fact, that he has made outrageous and indeed criminally libellous allegations against leading members, lies so serious that he is in our view unfit for membership. More on that later. Comrade Downing claims that he is a candidate member of the organisation, and indeed he has been inveigled into two meetings this year already on the basis of that claim.
Yet no agenda was circulated in advance for the meeting, on 9th January, where he … and ED … were said to have joined SF. ED’s joining was also contentious, and the proposal for her joining should have been circulated and the decision taken by a vote at a properly constituted meeting. The branch members were not informed in advance of any proposal for them to join at that meeting.
This happened at a meeting that should not have taken place, because half of the London branch informed comrade Downing in advance that they either could not attend through illness, or would be most unlikely to be able to attend because of a medical problem involving a child in their family. One other full member attends meetings only occasionally because of disability, but there are five full members of the branch, four of which attend most meetings, and all of these members have the right to a say on membership, particularly of anyone contentious. This is a basic democratic right of members of a communist organisation. The meeting should have been rearranged and a proper discussion and vote taken on their membership with the existing full members informed in advance of the proposal.
The lack of proper warning of this; the known-in-advance and unavoidable non-attendance of the majority of the branch on 9th January, plus the lack of minutes at that meeting means that that was not a valid meeting of the London branch, and it was not in its power to take on new members. The existing full members of the branch have the right to a vote on the accession to even candidate membership of anyone proposed to join, and certainly to know in advance of the proposal. Therefore their membership is null and void, and we in the Trotskyist faction do not regard them as members of SF. Bringing them in without proper democratic procedure is an abuse.
And regarding CW and GM, it is clear that buying their membership six months in advance is a corrupt practice. Even to bank the cheque would make the treasurer complicit in what amounts to a corruption of communist norms, and therefore our faction has advised the treasurer that he should not bank this tainted cheque, but keep it and the letter accompanying it as evidence of malpractice, to be presented to the international movement.
Indeed the letter itself is pretty outrageous and insulting in the assumptions it makes:
“Enclosed membership subscriptions for CW and GM. Both are unemployed (CW is retired) so pay the minimum of £3 a month. The sum of £40, therefore, covers from now to the end of July. ED has set up a standing order from the [bank] for £3 a month as she is also unemployed. So all three will become full members at the end of July, as per the constitution.”
There are examples available of how democratic norms are supposed to operate regarding membership of a communist organisation. Here are some extracts of the organisational rules of the Spartacist League in the United States, which are pretty straightforward in formal democratic terms even though that organisation is not particularly democratic in practice. Its formal rules are still pretty good:
“Individual applicants for membership shall be voted on by the Local Committee [a fully recognised branch] in their locale. In those areas where an Organising Committee (OC) [a new, as yet not fully-recognised branch] exists, applicants shall be voted through by the Political Bureau (PB) with the recommendation of the OC…”
“Action on membership applications should take place in the absence of the applicant”.
What is notable about this is not so much the formal structure, which is obviously more developed than our own, but the basic concept that the organisation has the right to collectively control its recruitment. It is a collective, democratic decision. People should not be able to be sneaked into an organisation without the knowledge of the existing membership. Especially people who, as is the case with GM and ED, are notably hostile to part of the existing full membership and are quite prepared to smear them.
What is also remarkable about the letter from comrade Downing is the assumption that if only he pays in advance for his friends, they will automatically become full members in six months’ time. That is not true; there will have to be a vote on that also. A vote of the full members who have the right to decide whether the candidate members have proven their commitment to the organisation, or not. They have every right to decide, democratically, whether they have passed their candidacy or not. And like the admission to candidate membership, there has to be a free discussion among the existing members, and a vote, on whether they are suitable for full membership or not. Comrade Downing blithely assumes that his recruits will automatically pass their candidacies just because he has stumped up the cash now.
Of course this has never been contentious until now. People have never tried to join with the aim of overruling the existing members before. People who formally joined have either stayed, or left. But in a situation like this, where the integrity of the organisation is under attack from within and without, the formal democratic control of the membership over who is recruited becomes crucial. This is not about imposing political uniformity, it is not about formal political beliefs. But when outrageous smears are made against comrades, proven smears that even those responsible cannot deny, then the existing members have the right to protect themselves and the right to vote on who becomes a new member of the organisation.
Two examples of outrageous smears against full members by two of these “candidate members” are illustrated here. The first comes from GM. He wrote in the public SF Facebook the following accusation against comrade Ian Donovan:
“You are justifying fascist murders by attributing them to some sort of principled retaliation against Israel. You have systematically conflated and defended antisemitism with opposition to Israeli apartheid. You have brushed aside any attempt to draw the distinction.”
When comrade Donovan challenged GM to quote him “justifying fascist murders” anywhere, he failed to do so. Comrade Donovan provided evidence that he had always condemned all terrorist attacks directed against civilians, as a matter of principle, that he written for Socialist Fight articles condemning a particularly bloody terror attach in Paris in 2015, and that he had written articles in SF calling for workers defence guards to militarily crush fascist groups. When challenged to quote comrade Donovan “justifying fascist murders” which is just about as serious a political crime as it is possible for a communist to commit, GM was unable to do so. Yet he has not apologised. In our view this foul lie alone renders GM morally unfit for membership of SF and the LCFI, and his pseudo-‘candidate membership’ should be brought to an end immediately. We do not regard him as a comrade.
Secondly there is the smear, also against comrade Donovan, by ED. After the branch meeting at the Lucas Arms on 17 January, which was booked on the understanding it was supposed to be a private meeting to resolve this issue among full members only, but which Gerry declared Open with a public email on the day, and then GW and ED turned up and Gerry inveigled them in, after that ED made the following accusation against comrade Donovan a week later. She wrote:
“When I interrupted Ian to call out his insane rant about the Rothschilds’ he became outraged, shouted and threw his pen on the table..”
This was a complete pack of lies from start to finish. Another comrade who was there wrote:
“Sorry, E, I do not recall Ian raising his voice and shouting at all”
To which comrade Donovan responded and pointed out that he had challenged Gerry a week earlier about Gerry’s shouting in the meeting:
“Indeed. I note that when I challenged Gerry about shouting, he justified it on political grounds. But he did not say ‘well Ian shouted too’ when criticised for it by [another comrade]. If I had shouted at Ella he would have condemned me and been angry.
“This alone corroborates that this is untrue”.
And it did. And do E was compelled to admit:
“Hiya folks, maybe I misspoke…“
though she still tried dishonestly to imply all those who remembered differently and never noticed this ‘shouting’ were wrong and she was really right. This kind of lying, fake politics, is no different to the squalid bourgeois politics around at the moment. Boris Johnson, for instance, when caught lying, as he has been many times now, tends to say “Folks, maybe I misspoke” in his plummy voice. It’s no better coming from E. This proven lie, laced with phoney accusations of ‘sexism’ against people who dare to challenge her politically in the manner of Jess Phillips or Hillary Clinton, again renders her unfit for membership of SL and the LCFI.
This ‘candidate member’ lied to smear the existing full members of SF with the aim of derailing SF from its principled anti-Zionist politics in cahoots with the other ‘candidate member’ GM, who is so irrational he comes out with outrageous lies that even the likes of John Mann would consider reckless. We do not recognise her as a member; her fake candidacy is null and void as was the meeting that initiated it. Her conduct since has shown that she is unfit for membership.
So CW, GM and ED are not members. You cannot buy a majority, you cannot sneak people, including blood relatives, into the organisation at illegitimately called meetings that deny the basic democratic rights to a say of the existing full membership, and not be called out on it.
Regarding the membership of JC, a lapsed member who Gerry is trying to manipulate back into SF as a full member to gain him an extra vote, it is worth quoting the formal rules of the Spartacist League/US again. At least formally, they point to correct Communist practice whatever structure of dues the organisation decides on:
“Any member more than one month in arrears in sustaining pledge [membership subs] ceases to be in good standing. Only members in good standing may vote and hold office in [the organisation]. Any member more than three months in arrears … shall be dropped from [the organisation] after notification”.
The cynicism involved in the attempted guilt tripping about the comrade’s personal problems, being blacklisted, which certainly merits sympathy and solidarity, is appalling. Indeed one of our comrades twice made suggestions to simplify our membership subs to help avoid such problems in future. But Gerry’s pleas are not based on sympathy for him, but just the desire to gain an extra captive vote from a sympathiser who for personally tragic reasons, was unable to sustain membership. According to these norms, he would not have been able to vote in any case. Allowing him to do so would be right outside the norms of Bolshevism as laid out in the famous criteria of the 1903 split about the membership rules, that membership involved “personal participation in one of the party’s organisations”, or at the very least regular payments of dues, however low. And someone else paying your dues in advance for a captive vote is an abuse that would get the culprit expelled from the Labour Party. Rightly so in such a case!
So this is about the boundaries of the organisation, maintaining basic membership norms, and not allowing fraudulent membership claims to defraud those who have worked hard to develop the organisation. The aim of these tactics is transparently to create a majority of fake members to purge the real activists who keep the group going. We cannot allow this and will not refrain from challenging such bureaucratic trickery and unprincipled behaviour.
Another, even worse way that these boundaries have been breached is through the deliberate publication of our internal platform without the permission of the signatories, containing identifiable names, designated at ‘full members’. This can only be seen as an outrageous attempt to create the conditions for the victimisation of oppositional comrades. The whole thrust of the recent paralysis of SF has been because of the emergence of an unprincipled faction that has finally begun to fray before the ferocious Zionist-led witchhunt in Labour, and has been at pains to dissociate itself from its hard anti-Zionist left wing: “we are not as bad as these people” Gerry and his new friends are eager to proclaim.
To reassert principled politics, we need to draw those boundaries properly, and to re-establish Socialist Fight on proper Communist organisational norms. These are difficult and reactionary times, and some basic discipline and good security is essential to ensure that we are effective going forward.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.