Saturday, January 17, 2009

Capitalism is no conspiracy and Hamas is not the Rebel Alliance

Following on fromDave's comments a few notes on the following post;
the leaflet I have reproduced here is one of the few examples in English of the ideas of the 'anti-deutche' antifa, a wing of the German autonomist/anarchist left. I do not agree with some of the points it makes, especially its statist assumption that only an Israeli state can provide defence for the Jewish people. I remain convinced that there is no state solution to the mess in the middle east, that redrawing lines on maps will create more victims, more bloodshed and new hatreds.
However I am also sure that Anti Zionism is a pernicious and corrosive ideology, which combines all the absurdities of anti imperialism, which attempts to tie the working class to the interests of the ruling classes and the would be ruling classes of so called oppressed nations, with an exceptionalist approach toward Israel which easily accomodates anti semites and anti semitism.
The current assault on the Gaza is dressed up by the Israeli Goverment as essential to defend Israeli civilians against the indiscriminate rocket attacks of Hamas, the fact is that the Israeli goverment is facing elections and desperately wants to prove its credentials to save a few votes.
The assault on Gaza has little therefore to with defending Israeli citizens, but neither are the rocket attacks really anything to do with defending the Palestinians of Gaza; the clerical fascists of Hamas could not, and indeed have had no intention of, defending ordinary Palestinians from Israel's army.
I reject both the death seeking fanaticism of Hamas and the cynical vote chasing of the Israeli goverment.

"All the arguments of the left revolve around one state/two state. All happily accept the artificial divisions created in the twentieth century by the very imperialists that they claim to oppose, and all ignore the actual people - Palestinian, Israeli, Lebanese, Druse, Syrian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Bedouin - who live there. Re-jigging the lines on a map will create new oppressions, new grievances and new horrors, and we as revolutionaries should have no part in assisting that.

We should stand shoulder to shoulder with those struggling against the oppressors of the Israeli state and the Palestinian bantustan. We fight against our 'own' rulers who attempt to use this slaughter to their own ends and use measly words 'condemning the violence' whilst writing out the receipts for the latest arms contract.Any state solution is a continuation of the same bullshit.
No Borders No States No Gods No War but the Class War"

from a leaflet distributed by the german group theorie organisation praxis (TOP)
Against Antisemitism within the activist scene
You consider yourself an activist, a radical, maybe an anarchist. In any case you are someone who is an outspoken critic of capitalism and who wants to end oppression and injustice as the left all over the world wants to.
At the same time, all over the world, Antisemitism is on the rise again. It takes many forms, some of which are violent such as verbal and physical attacks, while others are more subtle. Antisemitism has a long and gruesome history: Since the middle ages, Christianity supported pogroms against Jews. Later, the natural sciences came up with the idea of an inferior Jewish „race“, and generally speaking Jews often got blamed for all evil in the world. The climax were the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other concentration camps where six million Jews were murdered.
The activist movement, however, seems to ignore this history and the fact that Jews still are not secure. Rather than acknowledging Antisemitism as another means of oppression that needs to be fought – such as racism or sexism – quite a few of its members actively take part in pushing antisemitic attitudes.
For the most part, these become visible in the form of hatred towards Israel even if of course not every critique of Israel equals Antisemitism. The creation of the State of Israel was a direct outcome of the Holocaust. It is a much-needed refuge for Jewish people to defend themselves effectively against antisemitic attacks. While it should still be on top of the agenda to criticize nation states, calling for Israel´s destruction through claims like “Palestine shall be free, from the river to the sea” means calling for the potential death of its five million Jewish inhabitants.
Ever noticed how Israel is constantly on the agenda while hardly anyone comments on the things going on in areas such as Darfur, Iran, Kashmir, Burma or the Western Sahara? Singling out and demonising Israel while ignoring far worse actions by other countries is what we would call antisemitic.
Likening Israel to Nazi Germany (such as displaying placards with the Star of David twisted into Nazi swastikas), or to traditional anti-Jewish stereotypical behaviour (Israel as a “bloodthirsty and power-hungry” state) is another sign of Antisemitism, as it turns the victims of the Holocaust into alleged persecutors.
Whenever people fight for emancipation, we need to look whom we show our solidarity with: The Hamas, for example, clearly states the wish to destroy the state of the Holocaust survivors. In their charta “the Jews” are blamed for almost everything: “They stood behind World War I…, they also stood behind World War II…, they inspired the United Nations and the Security Council … in order to rule the world. … There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it.”
A blind solidarity with the Palestinian struggle tends to ignore these and other reactionary elements in Palestinian society. Blowing up people by strapping dynamite around your waist is not a revolutionary act of liberation. To explain it with the Israeli occupation ignores ideological elements such as the widespread Antisemitism in Palestinian society: After all, hardly anywhere else oppressed people blow up innocent humans on the basis of their “ethnicity”. Of course, the suffering of people living in Palestine needs to be acknowledged and solutions for the conflict need to be found; but we need to carefully choose who we work with.
Antisemitism, however, is not simply about hating Jews and denying them the right to a secure State. Antisemitic ideology works more subtly: It is usually embedded in a particular world view that “explains” the evils of modern capitalist society. It emerged throughout Europe in the course of the 19th century as a reaction to the rapid spread of capitalist society and the social upheavals this triggered. Capitalism in the antisemitic world view is not seen as a process which unfolds of its own accord in the absence of a particular subject, but rather as an exploitative project consciously put into effect by evil people, like “the ruling class”. The antisemitic world view thus consists of personification and draws upon the picture of the “Jewish capitalist” that is deeply embedded in Western culture, which for centuries associated Jews with money. It can be displayed in talk of “the rulers” or “the capitalists” who “pull the strings”, “dominate the world” and just can’t get enough with their “greed”.
Consequent Anticapitalism might also prevent antisemitic resentments: Capitalism is not a conspiracy of a few – neither Jews, nor the G8 or other “leaders”. It has not become as horrible as it is because of a few capitalists’ intentional plans or because of the interest rates and flow of finance capital. The inherent logic that makes Capitalism work is that of a system that is not oriented towards people’s needs, but towards the realization of capital – it is a game that even capitalists have to play. If we really want to attack the roots of capitalist society we need to understand this mode of production that commodifies every aspect of our lives under the merciless rule of value.
If the activist scene starts to question a black-and-white world view that contrasts good “people” with evil finance “capital” it may come to realize that – as is the case with the Middle East conflict – there is no simple dichotomy of oppressor vs. the oppressed in the struggle for liberation and emancipation. We need to come up with new ways and not fight the players but the whole fucking game.


Dave E said...

I find this a somewhat strange post. I may be reading some of it wrong, but;

"The creation of the State of Israel was a direct outcome of the Holocaust"

OK I get that bit. Jewish people suffered unimagineably in WWII (and of course other times).

"It is a much-needed refuge for Jewish people to defend themselves effectively against antisemitic attacks."

What? Jews can only effectively protect themselves emigrating to Israel? That's got to be a barking notion.

"Likening Israel to Nazi Germany (such as displaying placards with the Star of David twisted into Nazi swastikas), or to traditional anti-Jewish stereotypical behaviour (Israel as a “bloodthirsty and power-hungry” state) is another sign of Antisemitism, as it turns the victims of the Holocaust into alleged persecutors."

Yep, I can see being compared with the bastards who tortured and slaughtered your family within living memory is abhorrent. But even the ancestors of the Holocaust are capable of being persecutors of others. To deny that gives right wing shits an excuse for saying that the holocaust is overplayed.


They can fuck off.

"Antisemitism, however, is not simply about hating Jews and denying them the right to a secure State."

I can, of course, see the hate bit, but I didn't realise I had to think Jews had the right to a state to prove I'm not anti-semitic.

ray said...

The sad truth is that being the victims of persecution is absolutely no guarantee of not reproducing that persecution on others. When freed slaves where shipped from the Americas to Liberia they immediately set about forming themselves into an oppressive elite that rules the country to this day.

Zionism is the child of the 19th century idea of nationalism (to every nation a state) and the superstitious European Christian fear and loathing of "the other". The result has been that the Middle East has paid the price for a European horror; the holocaust.

For better or worse Israel was a colonial project. "A land without people for a people without land". A similar sentiment as that expressed by American settlers.

Finally, what IS a nation, and for that matter what is a Jew?

ModernityBlog said...

"A land without people for a people without land"

is not an original Zionist sentiment, it was, if memory serves, coined by an English clergyman

but I agree no states, and when many of those fearless "anti-Zionists" show their political principles by tearing up their passports and deliberately becoming stateless then we'll know that they are truly sincere and are willing to become what they'd recommend for Jews (as many of their forefathers were): to be stateless refugees

still, it is unlikely to happen tho?

strange? I wonder why?

Duncan Money said...


I think it was Isaac Deutscher who used an anaology which sums up the origins of the Israel/Palestine conflict fairly well.

He said the Jewish people arriving in Palestine was like a man leaping from a burning building to escape death, Europe, but landing on someone blameless walking along the street. The man on the street blames the jumping man for falling on him and injuring him but nevertheless he had to jump or die in the flames.

I also think the 'anti-deutsche' are a bit mental.


still, it is unlikely to happen tho?

strange? I wonder why?

It's because they're all middle-class anti-semities Modernity.

Or in reality, because when leftists generally talk about a future without the nation state they are imagining a world where nation states have ceased to exist because capitalism has been overthrown, not because everyone has ripped up their passport.

It's deliberately disingenuous to say that a 'no-state' position is about individuals voluntarily becoming stateless not the collective abolition of states.

ModernityBlog said...

Duncan, you need to look up the meaning of "deliberately disingenuous"

and if you can, TRY not to mischaracterize OTHER people's arguments, that's called arguing in bad faith, and I'd hope that as an ex-student you'd realise why that is wrong and a silly thing to do?

my point, and PLEASE, you don't have to agree with it, just make an effort to UNDERSTAND it, is that many Jews in the Middle East will have had relatives, grand parents or parents who were stateless refugees and at the mercy of the British immigration control (remember who ruled Palestine before 1948)s or dump in concentration in Cyprus, etc after fleeing the Nazi

so that memory has STRONG resonance with Jews

you'd don't have to agree with it or even empathise, but that's how it is with many people

so then to say "ahh, out of ALL of the countries in the world, it would be a better place if your nation didn't exist" is not only a bit insensitive, it is crass.

do you see that?

so for nice Europeans with guilt trips to argue that of ALL the 194 countries in the world the only one that should consciously be destroyed/deconstructed/vanish from the face of the earth (pick your own euphemism here) is not only inconsistent (there's a far greater case that Britain and other countries be "deconstructed", etc) but it is profoundly wrong on so many levels

btw, I don't think (outside of the Extreme Right) that most of the people who suggest this, are antisemites, just ignorant, thoughtless and haven't considered the logic of their own arguments

just so you get it, I do NOT think they are antisemites, clear enough?

again, it is rather hypocritical to suggest a course of action for others, that you, yourself would not want to do or even consider (few individuals would voluntary give up citizenship, let alone most Brits.,)

as for why people suggest it?

I am not sure, I think it is lazy thinking, but I very much doubt that it is motivated by a hatred of Jews, rather an unfamiliarity with history, searching for a simplistic solution and political idiocy are more likely explanations, but I'm open to suggestions.

I hope my views are clear, if not, just say so, I expand on them