Here is our 28th Jan protest opposite Downing Street, organised under the umbrella of International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity, around the demands:
FREE ALL UKRAINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS!
RESTORE FULL POLIITICAL AND MEDIA FREEDOMS!
END THE FASCIST REIGN OF TERROR!
It was a spirited united front demonstration of a variety of left-wing political currents united by the need to oppose imperialism, its support for fascism and attacks on democratic rights in Ukraine, with around 25 participants. Present were supporters of the New Communist Party, Consistent Democrats-LCFI, Socialist Fight, Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Socialist Labour Party, Posadists, and others.
The declaration republished below was endorsed by the Marxists Speak Out/Worldonfire bloc of revolutionary Anti-imperialist Communists and Socialists at the end of last year. Along with some of the individual components of that bloc, including the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, Class Conscious, and the Bolshevik Group of Korea. Notwithstanding a reservation particularly about the characterisation of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China as historically ‘socialist’, when we consider that the socialist elements of these planned economies were undermined by the bureaucracies which ruled these degenerated and deformed workers states. However despite this point of historical difference the declaration is a clear, class based anti-imperialist appeal with which we heartily concur.
Unfortunately we have received no reply from the initiators, which we suspect is simply related to the Trotskyist politics of Marxist Speak Out and its components. We regret this apparently sectarian response. However we resolved to endorse this and publicise it in any case.
We stand at a moment of grave peril for workers and oppressed peoples everywhere, in which the imperialist war drive is pushing us towards a third world war and a nuclear conflagration.
Even as Nato’s aggression in Ukraine is failing both militarily and economically, the USA’s desperation to save its hegemonic position in the world means it cannot back down, but is instead looking for ways to expand and prolong the war. In the face of all experience, it seems that the imperialists still hope they can find a way to wear down all resistance to their rule and come out on top.
As a result, we face the prospect of the Ukraine war spilling over into neighbouring countries in Europe and central Asia – and also of the outbreak of hostilities in several other theatres further east. Recent US provocations in Taiwan, alongside its ceaseless ratcheting up of tensions with the DPRK and China on every front, make this all too clear.
At this moment of historic importance, we, the undersigned parties, agree that the following essential points should be made clear to the masses of the world, and should guide our antiwar and anti-imperialist work:
That the slogans of true anti-imperialists in this time must be: Defeat for the Nato-led imperialist alliance! Victory to the resistance! No cooperation with imperialist war!
That the present war in Ukraine is not the result of ‘Russian aggression’ but of this western imperialist drive to war – in particular, the war drive of the USA.
That the war really began when the USA and its allies financed, armed and organised a fascist coup in Kiev in 2014, and that the Russian side, in its alliance with the peoples of the Donbass, is engaged in a war of self-defence and national liberation against imperialist attack.
That the war drives against China and the DPRK are also a result of imperialist aggression, and that, no matter who fires the first shot, if the threatened conflicts break out in Korea or Taiwan, those wars will likewise be wars of anti-imperialist self-defence and national liberation waged by the Korean and/or Chinese people.
That Russia and China’s ability to defend themselves and others does not indicate expansionist ambitions or imperialist economics; it is based in decades of planning for self-defence, initiated by the socialist governments of the USSR and the PRC.
That there is no economic data to justify characterising China or Russia as imperialist. These are countries that do not live by superexploiting or looting the world. They do not put other countries into military, technological or debt slavery. On the contrary, the beneficial terms of trade and the technological and military assistance they offer are giving smaller developing countries the chance to break out of imperialist enslavement.
That Russia and China are the targets of imperialist aggression because both by retaining their own independence, and by assisting other nations to gain theirs, they represent a serious threat to the imperialists’ world hegemony.
That the growing alliance between Russia and China offers hope to the people of the world: hope of an alternative to US domination and imperialist superexploitation. A strong anti-imperialist camp is our peoples’ best defence against the aggressive plans of the bloodthirsty Nato alliance – our best defence against the looming threat of nuclear war.
That antiwar activists must mobilise the masses in their countries for a campaign of active non-cooperation with the imperialist war effort aimed at sabotaging Nato’s war machinery in every way possible. We must refuse to fight in or assist Nato’s armies (direct or proxy). We must refuse to transport Nato’s men and materiel. We must refuse to allow Nato’s bases to operate unimpeded on our territories. We must refuse to manufacture or supply Nato’s armaments and other vital equipment. We must refuse to broadcast, print or distribute imperialist propaganda lies; and refuse to cooperate with imperialist trade and sanctions wars.
That the accelerating war drive, economic crisis, hunger crisis, environmental crisis and more all make it abundantly clear that the need to remove the imperialist economic system is more urgent than ever.
That the slogans of true anti-imperialists in this time must be: Defeat for the Nato-led imperialist alliance! Victory to the resistance! No cooperation with imperialist war!
Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Britain People’s Democracy Party, south Korea Pole of Communist Revival in France, France Korea is One, Belgium Baltic Platform, Eastern Europe Communist Party, Italy Communist Party, Switzerland Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan Eastern Initiative, Eastern Europe Hungarian Workers’ Party, Hungary Italian Communist Party, Italy National Association of Communists, France New Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Serbia Spanish Avantgarde, Spain
Chilean Communist Party (Proletarian Action), Chile Socialist Workers Party, Croatia Platform for Independence, Greece Communist Party of Peru (Patria Roja) Collective of Struggle for the Revolutionary Unification of Humanity, Greece People’s Party of Panama United Socialist Party of Venezuela Unión Proletaria, Spain
The declaration remains open for socialist and anti-imperialist organisations to sign, and the number of signatories is expected to grow significantly over the coming period as the imperialist war drive intensifies and spreads and the Platform continues its work.
Tony Greenstein, Zionism during the Holocaust – The Weaponisation of Memory in the Service of State and Nation (2022 – self-published).
This is a major work, meticulously researched obviously over decades, and will become a reference for anyone dealing with the explosive subject of Zionist complicity in, and collaboration with, the Nazi genocide of Jews. It had to be self-funded through informal means and self-published, as the mafia-like Zionist lobby sought to suppress it, even sabotaging the use of a public self-funding platform (GoFundMe) to raise funds for it, so afraid are they of its contents. None of the several left-wing publishers in Britain were willing to publish it, either due to ideological softness on Zionism or fear of the power of the Israel lobby, which is considerable. But part of their power is derived from complicity by those who fail to stand up for basic democratic and socialist principles against it.
In seeking to prevent its publication, the Zionists only underlined their own similarities to the Nazis and their book-burning proclivities. No doubt if they were able to have the print run of this book burned, they would do so.
Well, they should be scared, since the memory of the millions of Jews who were killed by the Nazis in their gas-fuelled extermination camps or mobile extermination squads (Einsatzkommandos), along with other targeted groups such as Gypsies, Russians, Poles, has been systematically abused to justify and excuse Zionist crimes against the Palestinians over the last seventy years and more. This was tested on Russian and Polish POWs before being used as a method of general extermination. The abuse of the memory of these victims in the service of Zionism is becoming more widely understood for what it is.
Furthermore, that has become a spearhead of reaction against the entire working-class movement and a weapon of the ruling class to tame and defeat movements of organised labour. The smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn by Zionist racists, purporting to find ‘anti-Semitism’ in the left-reformist movement that brought him to the leadership of the Labour Party between 2015 and 2020, and in 2017 put him close to being elected, is a case in point.
The Zionist lying against Corbyn was done in plain sight of millions of working-class people who saw Corbyn’s movement as their only hope of salvation against the neoliberal regime of British capitalism, that has systematically destroyed the standard of living of many millions of working-class people over the past 50 years ago, starting from Thatcher. All these have ample grounds to hate the Zionist liars, along with their partners in crime, the Labour Right-wing, the Tories, and their fellow travellers in smaller bourgeois parties such as the Lib-Dems and Greens, and a large, capitulatory layer of the ‘Far Left’ itself.
As well there are some issues that need to be clarified, as comrade Tony himself has sometimes been a source of confusion, not clarity, on some aspects of these questions. While we have considerable regard for his work in this volume, it would be wrong and opportunist, if we were to gloss over these questions and not use this opportunity to address them. We will always seek to push things further towards clarity, as clarity of programme and analysis is the only way to build a revolutionary movement.
Hitler’s Genocide was Zionism’s Opportunity
But first it is necessary to elaborate on the much that is positive in this work. For a start there is the extensive evidence cited that right from the very beginning of the Nazi regime, Zionists saw Hitler’s genocidal programme and its ascent to political power in Germany, not as a danger to the people they claimed to represent and lead, but as an unprecedented opportunity to implement their own reactionary nationalist programme. They positively gushed about it, as Tony’s many references in Chapter 4 particularly cite. Just a small sample: he cites from early 1933 “Bert Katznelson, a founder of Mapai [ie. Israel’s ‘Labour’ Party] and editor of Davar as well as Ben-Gurion’s effective deputy” as seeing “the rise of Hitler as ‘an opportunity to build and flourish like none we have every had or ever will have.’” He notes that Emil Ludwig, a “world famous biographer … ‘expressed the general attitude of the Zionist movement’”:
“Hitler will be forgotten in a few years, but he will have a beautiful monument in Palestine. You know, the coming of the Nazis was rather a welcome thing. …. Thousands who seemed to be completely lost to Judaism were brought back to the fold by Hitler, and for that I am personally very grateful to him.”
Even more shockingly, Greenstein notes another Zionist ideologue, Nahman Bialik, saying that “Hitlerism has perhaps saved German Jewry, which was being assimilated into annihilation” and Tony himself comments that “Germany’s remaining Jews were of course annihilated, but not by assimilation”. What is missing is a fully worked-out explanation of why a movement that rose to prominence in such a terrible context could behave so treacherously and yet gain, and largely maintain, the loyalty of the lion’s share of its surviving people, but that must wait for later in this review.
Sabotage of the Boycott
Tony’s evidence is unimpeachable: the Nazi regime came very close to economic and likely political collapse in the face of the boycott organised by diaspora Jewry in the aftermath of Hitler’s 1933 rise to power and the creation of the Third Reich. Concrete examples abound in Chapter 6, particularly surrounding one of the first major anti-Jewish actions of the Nazi regime – the picketing of Jewish shops by the SA in April 1933. “The reaction of the capitalist representatives in the German Cabinet was one of horror” fear “its potential for disrupting the government’s economic policies” as one historian noted.
“The reaction of the population to the blockade of Jewish shops was hostile. Jewish shop owners reported that many protesters chose to shop specifically at Jewish-owned stores to express their rejection of national socialism. … A boycott of Nazi Germany strengthened the pressure on the Nazis and increased the disaffection of the German people…”
It gained huge support around the world, even in places that few would have expected:
“In Poland the Boycott was popular and the Jews of Vilna and Warsaw launched their own campaign. The Nazis were ‘astonished’, given the record of Polish anti-Semitism, that the advent of the Nazis had given birth to a widely-supported Boycott movement….”
“For the entire first half of 1933 exports were down 51%. Exports to France decreased by 25%. Egypt had an almost complete boycott. Exports were also down 22% to America compared to 1932 levels ”
“The German Foreign Office was flooded with letters from German firms expressing alarm over the intensity of anti-German feelings abroad. Bosch had lost the whole of its South American market”
“On 6 May, IG Farben … confessed to ‘an extraordinary slump’ because of the Boycott. On 8 May German Economics Minister Hjalmar Schacht threatened to stop paying interest on American loans and then to default entirely on its foreign debt”
“By June 1933 the spectre of collapse was hovering over the Third Reich. The Reichsbank had only RM 280m in gold and foreign-exchange reserves, less than half of that of 1932.”
The Zionists broke the boycott in the name of an aspiration to create a Jewish state in Palestine, and effectively undermined it. Noting that “The Jewish bourgeoisie & the Zionist opposed the boycott”, he elaborated in the following pages, “In Britain and the USA, the biggest obstacle to a successful boycott movement was the bourgeois Jewish leadership…” […] on 23 July Neville Laski, President of the Board of Deputies, announced that he would be attending the Zionist Congress as an observer … the anti-Zionist Jewish establishment had committed itself to a Zionist solution of the German-Jewish crisis. The BOD voted 110-27 against the boycott campaign. […] Correspondence between … the German Consul in Palestine, and the Foreign Ministry showed that destroying the boycott was the main reason for the Nazis agreeing to Ha’avara [The Zionist ‘transfer agreement’ with Nazi Germany] […] The Zionist movement in Palestine waged war on the Boycott…” […] “on 2 July” a Zionist “Conference of Institutions … met to discuss how best to coordinate opposition to the Boycott…”, and as was noted:
“The Zionist movement found itself in a profound conflict between transfer and boycott and, in the broad sense, between the needs of the Yishuv and the sentiments of the Jewish people”
“On 9 June 1933 [Yishuv organisations] began negotiations with the Nazi government to secure a trade agreement. The Yishuv’s leaders had opposed the Boycott because ‘Zionist priorities … awarded precedence to the realisation of Zionist goals and the building of Palestine over the struggle to preserve Jewish civil rights in the Diaspora’ … a leading Labor Zionist observed ‘In these negotiations, we are reaping the fruit of the boycott we oppose’. But for the Boycott there would have been no Ha’avara.” (p116) […] Nazi propaganda exploited Ha’avara to undermine the Boycott. Whilst world Jewry was doing its best to undermine the German economy and remove Hitler, ‘the Nazi party and the Zionist organisation shared a common stake in the recovery of Germany. If the Hitler economy fell, both sides would be ruined”.
In return for a few thousand Zionist Jews being allowed to emigrate to Palestine, with much of their property, giving the nascent economy of the Yishuv a large boost indeed: “Ha’avara led to the selling of German merchandise throughout the Middle East and Cyprus, as the Palestinian market became saturated. The ZO [Zionist Organisation] set up the Near and Middle East Commercial Company to sell Nazi Germany’s wares. The Zionists had become Nazi Germany’s export agents. Another transfer company, INTRIA, was formed in 1937. By the summer of 1939, there were transfer agreements in six European countries.” (p119) This obviously decisively undermined the Boycott and saved Hitler’s regime from being toppled by what had originally been a highly effective boycott. All this had catastrophic consequences for millions of German and European Jews in the years to come.
Zionist Collaboration and Cover Up for Extermination Camps
Subsequent chapters deal with the huge complicity of the Zionists in the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people, the people they were supposed to lead and represent, driven by the same considerations that drove their opposition to, and sabotage of, the Jewish Boycott of Nazi Germany. That is, the position that the Nazi persecution was an opportunity to create a Jewish state in Palestine, and that the creation of such a state was more important that saving the millions in the diaspora who were in deadly danger from the Nazis. Indeed, their escape to anywhere else apart from Palestine was at odds with the interests of Zionism as it would take mass impetus away from the idea of the Jewish state as the only sanctuary. For this reason, Zionists lobbied against large-scale sanctuary for Jewish refugees in the United States, or even Britain. But at the same time, the Yishuv had the same callous attitude as most bourgeois states had to prospective immigrants and rejected many of those impoverished Jewish refugees who really were most in need of sanctuary, on the grounds that they would need looking after, and would not be productive enough. They wanted only hardy pioneer types, or the wealthy as per the Ha’avara agreement. In many or most places, by that time, the official leaders of Jews under Nazi occupation, were the Judenrate, local bourgeois leaders of the various ghettos etc, that the Nazi herded the Jewish populations into. Almost invariably, they were in touch with Zionist centres, in part because the Nazis allowed such communication as it was in their interests to do so as Zionist leaders were usually cooperative.
This centres on the revelations of two heroic escapees from Auschwitz-Birkenau, the super-sized death camp in southern Poland, where at least 1.1 million people, a million of whom were Jewish, were murdered, most frequently by gassing, but also through shooting, sadistic torture, terrible malnutrition and disease. This had been reported on as early as 1942, by a Polish Home Army agent, Jan Karsky. The Bletchley Park cryptographic facility in Britain had broken Nazi codes and thus British and other allied governments were aware of what was happening in Auschwitz and no doubt other camps. But the most detailed account of the methods used at Auschwitz was catalogued by Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wexler, the two anti-Zionist escapees, in 1944, in what was known as the Auschwitz Protocols.
Tony catalogues considerable, and decisive, evidence that what evidence was in the hands of the Zionists, which was considerable, was hidden from Jewish people on the ground in the occupied countries, by the Zionists. It had been sporadically covered in the Allied imperialist media, but not exactly trumpeted far and wide, as the imperialists fighting the Third Reich were not keen on seeing an influx of Jewish refugees.
The Zionist leaders, the Judenrate etc, on the ground, when they obtained information about the mass extermination of Jews in the countries occupied and terrorised by the Nazis, were very reluctant to inform the Jews of those countries of what was happening in camps in Poland, etc. Huge numbers of Jews received no information about their fate if they were deported, and so were sent to places like Auschwitz unaware of what awaited them. The Zionists were better informed than many non-core members of the German bourgeois state. So, it appears that when Admiral Doenitz was appointed to succeed Hitler and implement a surrender after Hitler’s suicide, he did not know the full details of the genocide that had been carried out, but the Zionists knew all about it, yet kept most of their ‘own’ people in the dark
Plenty of evidence is presented of Judenrate enforcing Nazi orders to present Jews for deportation, of them hunting out hiding places of Jews than had gone ‘missing’ to ensure Nazi orders for such deportations were carried out ‘efficiently’, etc. This treachery was legion in Poland, and the desperate Warsaw Ghetto uprising was not only against the Nazis but also the Judenrate. The Judenrate in Warsaw set up a labour brigade to provide the Nazis with a stream of potential labourers/deportees so that the wealthier Jews could hope to escape. The question of fear of the Nazis’ military might, and fatalism of bourgeois leaders played a role in this. In revolt against the fatalism and treachery of the leaders of the Warsaw Judenrate, young Zionists: both ‘Labour’ Zionists, and the near-fascist Revisionists, found themselves with no choice in 1943 but to resist in alliance with Communists and the Socialist but semi-separatist Jewish Bund.
Their resistance was heroic, but as is well known the relationship of forces was against them. However, in Hungary, where the home-grown fascist regime of Hitler’s ally Horthy often wavered under pressure from other forces, the possibilities were better for resistance. The treachery of the Zionist leadership there, headed by Rudolf Kasztner, was an incredible scandal and act of collaboration. With all the familiar motives, as mentioned earlier, they kept Hungary’s more than 800,000 Jews (including converts) largely in the dark, while Kasztner negotiated with Adolf Eichmann and the SS to further the aims of Ha’avara and allow a stream of the wealthiest to go to Palestine. The quid-pro-quo being, as mentioned, to ensure the bulk of Hungarian Jews would not know to resist deportation. Because of Horthy’s position as initially an ally, rather than simply an agent, of Hitler, and his susceptibility to the pressure of other governments and ‘public opinion’, the deportation of Hungary’s Jews was delayed until 1944. By that time, Hitler was already losing the war and in retreat particularly on the Eastern front, meant there had to be a prime opportunity to at least save Hungarian Jewry, as the Nazis had to march into Hungary and remedy Horthy’s derelictions at the same time as organise the destruction of Hungary’s Jews.
It was not to be, and Kasztner’s collaboration with the SS played the major role. This issue later erupted in a major scandal in Israel, as Kasztner sued those in Israel who accused him of collaboration and lost the case. Then the government sued to overturn the verdict against Kasztner, fearing it discredited the entire Yishuv leadership, while simultaneously withdrawing Kasztner’s state protection, allowing him to be murdered. This affair prompted the Jim Allen play Perdition, which portrayed the whole horrendous story in 1987, was accused of ‘anti-Semitism’, and then effectively banned in a fairly early case of such censorship, which is today widespread.
Encyclopaedia of Zionist Collaboration
Chapter 11 contains a useful, and encyclopaedic, rundown of the Nazi holocaust, and Zionist activities in 21 European countries. Part 2 of the book, the narrative of Zionist activities in the genocide, then concludes with a wider exploration of the obstruction by the Zionist movement internationally of attempts that were made to rescue the victims, and concludes with a comparison of the records of the Catholic Church and the Zionist movement, in which, notwithstanding the often obsequiousness of the Vatican to the Nazi regime, the Zionist movement comes over as the worst. A relatively short part 3 then concludes the work with an expose of Yad Vashem and the Zionist ‘Holocaust Industry’, echoing themes already addressed by Norman Finkelstein, and a number of historical topics and disputes surrounding it, it includes the attack on Hannah Arendt and Eichmann in Jerusalem, the exploitation of the genocide by the Zionists today, the Goldhagen thesis, and more. It then goes through the further weaponisation of the Nazi holocaust by the mainstream bourgeois right today, Zionism’s close relationship with fascism and the extreme right, Zionism, Islamophobia and the myth of Palestinian culpability for the holocaust, and finally the way the Zionists collaborated with the military regime in Argentina in the 1970s, when leading figures fairly openly sympathised with Nazism. A straw in the wind for today, when Zionism is funding Nazi forces in Ukraine, also funded by the West.
Left-Bundism and Centrist Contradictions
Tony is not merely a historical author, but a political activist whose authority goes well beyond that of a mere individual. He is an influential figure on the Jewish left, which in turn for a number of both good and bad reasons has influence on the wider left. His politics are often quite close to a genuinely Marxist position, but at the same time frequently influenced by the prejudices of the Jewish Bund, which was heavily criticised by the Bolsheviks for positing the need for a separate, Jewish socialist movement, which was for them the only force that was entitled to politically lead the Jewish proletariat. Tony would scoff at the view that his politics are like this, but nevertheless he has frequently involved himself in promoting or in some cases setting up separate Jewish-left pressure groups like Jews Against Zionism, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
Tony’s frequent self-contradictions are an expression of centrist politics: “crystallised confusion”, as Trotsky put it, or in a slightly different sense “revolutionary in words, opportunist in deeds”. If he were not tied to Bundism, he might be in a more mainstream centrist left-wing group. Instead, he plays an important role as an influential individual on a fragmented left where the larger sects – the SWP, Socialist Party, etc have little authority. So, he is more much more important than any isolated individual. He appears as seemingly the most radical critic of Zionism on the British left, and therefore an analysis of his contradictions is important to the struggle against centrism more generally.
One very welcome statement in this work is Tony’s use of a crucial quotation from Israel Shahak, the seminal Israeli fighter for civil rights and Warsaw ghetto survivor, about the abuse of the Nazi genocide by Zionists:
“Its not an awareness of the holocaust but rather the myth of the holocaust of even a falsification of the holocaust (in the sense that ‘a half-truth is worse than a lie’) which has been instilled here (in Israel)”
Shahak, Falsification of the Holocaust, 19 May 1989, Kol Ha’ir, Jerusalem, cited in Greenstein, p 346
In this chapter, Chapter 14 of the book, on Yad Vashem – Weaponising the Memory of the Holocaust he appears to go very far towards an understanding that ‘the Holocaust’ has become a kind of new Jewish religion. On page 372 he actually says, regarding a particular piece of Zionist propaganda that made non-too-subtle use of the Nazi holocaust as an ideological weapon in the West, that “It was with good reason that Laor [another critical author] castigated the wilful blindness of one of the high priests of the holocaust religion.”
In this chapter, one of several nodal points in the book, Tony examines the mystification of the genocide from a variety of angles, both as a means of indoctrination of Jewish youth in Israel into a virulent, nationalist hatred and contempt for non-Jews, which of course has terrible results for Palestinians. He also goes into some detail as to the use of the genocide as a means of warding off criticism from elsewhere. He approvingly quotes a Ha’aretz writer attesting that:
“The holocaust … serves the right’s proto-fascist, racist, victim-centred discourse, meant to whitewash the ongoing crime against the Palestinians and to put the Christian world in a position of eternal apology.”
It various places Tony elaborates on what he means. One powerful example of this is when he writes of the brainwashing of Israeli youth:
“Auschwitz has supplanted Masada as the site of Israel’s indoctrination of its young. Instead of a murky battle 2000 years ago, the Holocaust provides the setting for Zionism’s national myths. Auschwitz is used to impart the message that Jews too can be racists and pogromists.
“Shulamit Aloni, Israel’s former Education Minister, described how these trips ‘were turning students into aggressive, flag-waving xenophobes. The final ceremony for such trips was in Warsaw where a poem from Haim Gouri was recited in which the Holocaust victim and the partisan in the [Polish] forests is merged with the ‘IDF Paratrooper taking revenge against his enemies”. The Holocaust reinforced Zionism’s tribal racism….”
All this is very true. One point he does not highlight properly in the book is that the exploitation of the Nazi genocide to justify Zionism’s own genocidal treatment of the Palestinian people has actually tarnished the memory of its victims and created a situation where there are reasonable doubts in the mind of many of Zionism’s victims, and even a layer of their sympathisers of Jewish origin, about the historical truth of the Nazi holocaust. This has been aided by the extensive cover up of forensic evidence of their crimes by the Nazis from the time when they began to lose WWII. The destruction of extermination facilities was the prime method used, in the hope that they could avoid being held to account.
Because of this, much of the most powerful evidence of the genocide and the working of the Nazi regime that carried it out consists of eyewitness evidence, including in pride of place the Auschwitz Protocols of Vrba and Wexler. Tony does note that Zionism’s suppression of their evidence played into the hands of genocide deniers when he writes that:
“The silencing of Vrba and Wexler was exploited by holocaust deniers such as Arthur Butz, author of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century [1975 – ID]. Butz argued that if the content of the Protocols were true, Israeli historians would certainly know their names and publicise their report. Butz argued that the Protocols were invented by the WRB [the US War Refugees Board]. Another holocaust denier who adopted this line of argument was Robert Faurisson [initially also in the 1970s – ID].”
This evidently gave some ammunition to Nazis and their sympathisers in the first few decades after WWII, when the magnitude of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians was not widely known. During those decades, Israel had a carefully cultivated ‘socialist’ image, centred on the pseudo-socialist ethos of the kibbutzim (racist settler colonies in ‘socialist’ disguise) to the extent that the most leftist figures in the British Labour milieux, such as Tony Benn and Eric Heffer, were members of the Labour Friends of Israel. They broke from that after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the mass slaughter of Palestinian old men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut by Israel’s Lebanese Falangist auxiliaries (at night, working under illumination from flares fired by the Israeli army), came to widespread public notice and exposed the real, genocidal nature of Zionism.
Today, the same Zionist suppression plays the same role for a whole new layer of holocaust sceptics whose motivation is not sympathy for Nazism at all, but simply revulsion at Zionist crimes that increasingly resemble those (rightly) attributed to the Nazis. The use of devices such as the IHRA pseudo-definition of anti-Semitism to suppress those who notice the resemblance of Zionist behaviour to that of the Nazis, or who define the Zionist project as necessarily racist, is a flagrant provocation of such sentiment. Such techniques have a much longer pedigree in the Middle East and are the source of much popular holocaust-scepticism. Their insistence that the genocide was only against Jews, when in fact Slavs, particularly Poles, and Roma and Sinti were also targeted for extermination, also makes the Zionists who often dominate the discourse on the Nazi genocide look simply self-serving and gives credibility to the idea that the Nazi holocaust of Jews is in some way historically problematic.
This widespread misunderstanding is purely a result of Zionist crimes and mendacity, and the virulence of many of those on the Western left against those who, as a result of the Middle East conflicts, refuse to believe in the Nazi Judeocide, is severely misplaced, and even can be called an example of social chauvinism. Protestations about the supposedly oppressed, persecuted state of Jewry today cut no ice as everyone can see today that Zionist Jews, who are by far the dominant political trend among Jews today, are a massively privileged grouping vis-à-vis the Palestinians, and are able, in all the Western countries, to persecute Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinians with all kind of measures of ‘lawfare’, with the fulsome support of the bulk of the ruling classes of the Western countries.
Tony now recognises that there has been a material change in the condition of the Jewish people. He wrote in an earlier article that:
“Anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, has changed as society has changed. Jews in the West today, unlike Blacks and Muslims, are not the targets of state racism. Anti-Semitism today is largely a marginal prejudice…. […] much of what is called anti-Semitism is fuelled by the actions of Israel, whose atrocities are perpetrated in the name of all Jews. Every time the BOD issues a statement in support of Israel’s war crimes, it reinforces the perception that Jews are responsible for what Israel does.”
“Anti-Semitism in Britain and the USA today, excluding the Neo-Nazi White Supremacist fringe, is not based on racial hatred or state scapegoatism. Anti-Semitism is political not economic. Anti-Jewish prejudice has no roots amongst those social and economic groups which traditionally embraced anti-Semitism, the petite-bourgeoisie and middle class, for whom it was the ideological expression of economic competition. Nor does anti-Semitism today come equipped with ideologues, journals, papers and parties.”
“What is not mentioned is that Jews are the perpetrators not the victims of racism. The level of Islamophobia, especially anti-Arab racism, among British Jews is high. It is no accident that surveys of Jews deliberately omit asking questions about their attitude to Muslims. Instead they ask Muslims questions about Jews!”
Previously he had written an article titled Why Anti-Semitism is no longer a form of racism –it’s a Marginal Prejudice confined to the fascist fringe The ‘fascist fringe’, as shown above, has since been relegated to the ‘fringe’ of this valid point. In that article he wrote:
“It’s true that Jews are a minority but they are not an oppressed minority. Millionaires are also a minority but they are not oppressed. Racists are also a minority which is why the far-Right identitarian movement uses the language of identity politics.”
“There is no offence of driving whilst Jewish but driving whilst Black is a crime. Jews are not victims of police violence, imprisoned or found dead in police custody because they are Jewish. There is no discernible discrimination against Jews.”
Yet for all the encyclopaedic character of this work, there is still something substantial missing from it in Marxist terms. A coherent class explanation of the nature of Zionism for a start, and why it was able to treat ordinary Jews in a purely instrumental manner, and even connive at the extermination of millions of their supposedly ‘own’ people, to achieve their project.
He more or less equates Zionism with the Garvey movement among former black slaves in the Americas towards the close of the book:
“Zionism was not unique. Amongst all oppressed peoples a section of the petite-bourgeoisie comes to accept the terms of reference and ideological framing of their oppressors. In the United States this was true of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association which collaborated with the KKK. The same was true with Elijah Mohammad’s Nation of Islam, which used hired thugs to murder Malcolm X. C.L.R. James, the famous Black writer and historian, wrote that ‘all the things that Hitler was able to do so well later, Marcus Garvey was doing in 1920 and 1922. Garvey applauded the KKK’s belief in segregation and spoke favourably of the organisation that ‘lynched race-pride into the Negroes’. Little wonder that Garvey’s movement was termed Black Zionism.
“But whereas Garvey’s movement never managed to form an alliance with a colonial power, Zionism did. It was this that ensured that the Zionist movement conquered the Jewish establishment in the diaspora. Whereas the damage that Garvey did to black communities in the United States was minimal, the damage that the Zionist movement has been able to do to Jews in the diaspora is almost infinite.”
The lack of political understanding in these paragraphs is quite staggering, and reveals a weakness in Greenstein’s politics that subliminally, notwithstanding the subjective ferocity of his antagonism to Zionism, reveals a latent political softness on the same Zionism. It reveals an inability to properly and consistently distinguish between an ideology of an oppressed people who are unable to escape their oppression under capitalism, and an ideology of an oppressed people whose ideologues had a realistic strategy for escaping from that oppressed position and joining the world’s main oppressors, the imperialist bourgeoisie, even if they were prepared to sacrifice a large layer of their own population in order to do so. In a somewhat complex dialectical-evolutionary sense, this indicates the inability to distinguish between a backward-looking ideology of the oppressed, and a predatory ideology that always was pushing hard, with a coherent strategy, for ‘its’ people to become one of the world’s chief oppressors.
This is not a simple matter of syllogism, but a complex process of evolution, which is not easy to analyse. But as is said: theory is grey, but green is the tree of life. The real world throws up such complex problems, and if Marxists fail to analyse them properly, we must fail.
Tony treats the difference between Zionism and Garveyism as a secondary difference, that the Zionists, unlike Garvey, managed to “form an alliance with a colonial power”. The project of a black-ruled colony of ex-slaves from the US in particular long pre-dated Garvey, and Garveyism was one of a whole series of Black movements that sought some kind of redemption in a return to Africa. Indeed, by the time Garveyism came on the scene, ‘Back to Africa’ sentiments among the US black population had been considerably weakened by the experience of Liberia, which was basically a middling American colony or near-colony (its status was often ambiguous, but its real nature was clear). A similar semi-colonial project, Sierra Leone, existed among ex-slaves in the British slaveowning sphere. Both collapsed into chaos and poverty in the 20th Century. One thing is clear however, they were nothing like Israel. Israel is one of the world’s oppressor, imperialist states.
That is why Zionism is completely different from superficially similar movements among the black masses. Without overthrowing capitalism, the Black population of the US have no hope of overcoming the oppression that is built into Western societies. But Zionism had not just a hope of that, but also a strategy. To create a Jewish-Zionist faction in the imperialist bourgeoisie, and to create their own imperialist, colonial state. Israel is a player in its own right and is quite different from semi-colonies like Liberia.
For all the crimes of Zionism in sacrificing the most oppressed sections of their own population, what Tony says about Jews in the modern imperialist world today can never be true of black people:
“What is not mentioned is that Jews are the perpetrators not the victims of racism…”
“Jews are a minority but they are not an oppressed minority. Millionaires are also a minority but they are not oppressed. Racists are also a minority which is why the far-Right identitarian movement uses the language of identity politics.”
“There is no offence of driving whilst Jewish but driving whilst Black is a crime. Jews are not victims of police violence, imprisoned or found dead in police custody because they are Jewish. There is no discernible discrimination against Jews.”
Garveyism could never, its wildest dreams, have brought about a situation when anyone could say that about the black population. It would have been fantasy, simply beyond the possible. But it always was a possibility for Jews in the West, because of their fundamentally different class history. It is not a biological determinist matter of colour (a secondary feature that certainly impedes hiding one’s origins), but fundamentally about class. Whereas the black population had its origins in an abducted slave class, Jews had their origins in an often-powerful pre-capitalist merchant, commodity-trading class. Once some historically grounded contradictions had been overcome and worked through, therefore, they had the potential to escape from that oppression to a point whereby Tony himself can opine, accurately enough, that “Jews are the perpetrators not the victims of racism”.
That is what made the Zionist project a predatory imperialist project right from the late 19th Century, whereas Garveyism and its antecedents were always just forms of capitulation to the racist status quo, or illusory attempts at an escape. Even when the Zionist predators were prepared to sacrifice a sizeable chunk of their own people to genocide, that was itself an indication of their own ruthlessness a proto-imperialist movement. They had contempt for, and instrumentalised, the sizeable portion of their ’own’ people who were still oppressed victims of other imperialisms. It also explains the contempt in Israel, which Tony documents at length (following Tom Segev in The Seventh Million) for Jewish survivors and victims of the Nazi holocaust.
And it does appear, that this aspect of Zionism was picked up on, and feared, by anti-Semites, dimly and in a barely coherent form, in such literature as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was clearly a malicious caricature of Zionism. These racists, also reflecting along with Zionism itself a political trend within nascent imperialist capitalism, feared the development of a Jewish-Zionist imperialist-bourgeois faction as a rival and antagonist for the future. Compounding this further is Tony’s entirely valid point that it is not clear whether anti-Semitism or anti-Communism was Hitler’s true motive for the genocide (p80). The peculiar form of his anti-Semitism was a belief that Jews were the “political parents” of Bolshevism, i.e., that Jews were organically inclined to communism. The toxic mix of all of these goes some way to answering the terrible question asked by a variety of writers about the Nazi holocaust, from Deutscher to Raoul Hillberg – what on earth can explain the sheer barbaric bloodlust of the Nazis against the Jews?
Tony is completely disarmed by his insistence that “Today there is no specific socio-economic function that is specific to Jews. That is why there is no ‘Jewish Question’” (p47). He links that to another point, quoted above, that “Anti-Jewish prejudice has no roots amongst those social and economic groups which traditionally embraced anti-Semitism, the petite-bourgeoisie and middle class, for whom it was the ideological expression of economic competition.” But that was only a phase in the evolution of the Jewish Question, as Zionism and capitalism have raised the social status of Jews above the level of a lower middle-class layer competing with a ‘native’ middle class. This upward mobility is also a manifestation of the legacy of the people-class, and thus of the ‘Jewish Question’ mutatis mutandis.
Tony rejects any use, in terms of analysis, of the insights of classical Marxism on this question. But when Abram Leon wrote his classic work The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation, it was also true then that by that time there was “no specific socio-economic function that is specific to Jews”. But without understanding the role that history played in the subsequent evolution and class differentiation of the Jews, it is not possible in hindsight to understand the fundamental difference between Zionism, and the likes of Garveyism. The difference is in the disproportionate representation of Jews in the bourgeois establishment, a legacy of the Jews’ pre-bourgeois role as a commodity-trading class, which evidently later gave rise (under capitalism) to a different class composition from many other national-ethnic groups that they lived alongside. Whereas, in the United States, to this day, blacks are massively underrepresented in the imperialist bourgeoisie, to the point that their representation is negligible. Similar things are true elsewhere under imperialism.
The Elephant in the Room
That different composition and its origin is something that Abram Leon wrote about at length in his seminal work, even if he did not live to see the creation of the Zionist state (he was murdered in Auschwitz). As indeed was prefigured by Karl Marx in his 19th Century essay The Jewish Question, which capitulators to Zionism to this day shudder at for its uncompromising materialist insights.
Or as I summarised in my 2014 Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism:
“Zionism always was a quasi-national movement of the Jewish bourgeoisie, which had been initially pretty painlessly successful in gaining a major share of the fruits of expanding capital in the era of progressive capitalism, only to see this come under threat when the imperialist epoch began. The problem is that this bourgeoisie did not have a territory to build a nation around. And in any case, it was not necessarily in favour of migrating and tearing out its roots in other countries even if a territory were somehow miraculously given to it. But it felt it needed a territorial asset, a home base to call its own even if it did not want to reside there all the time. This is easily comprehensible in terms of bourgeois consciousness and a Marxist understanding of the national question, it just demands a degree of flexibility in the understanding and application of Marxist tools of analysis, that can be most effortlessly applied to other, more straightforward national questions.
“In the early period of Zionism, obviously this quasi-national project appeared problematic and there was not unity among the Jewish bourgeoisie as to whether it was viable or not. But the project was bourgeois, and was extensively funded by part of the Jewish bourgeoisie abroad, particularly in the USA. The lack of unanimous Jewish bourgeois support for the Zionist project in the earlier period meant that it had to rely on support from various pseudo-left Zionist currents…”
“There is a common ethnocentric project between the ruling class of Israel and the various hegemonic pro-Israel bourgeois Jewish organisations in a number of imperialist countries, centrally the United States. This pan-imperialist Zionist bloc within the bourgeoisie plays an active role in the oppression of the Palestinians. This bourgeois current, which extends from the ruling class of Israel to penetrate deeply into the US ruling class (and to a lesser extent the ruling classes of several European imperialist countries also) has some of the attributes of a national bourgeois formation without a single territory exclusive to itself.
“But this is unstable, and depends for its coherence on the maintenance of Israel as a Jewish state. Without that ethnocentric entity in the Middle East, the Jewish layers in the ruling classes in the imperialist countries would have no focus to unite them; their ‘internationalism’ (in reality tribalism) would collapse, and the Jewish bourgeoisie would simply over time disappear through assimilation into the national ruling classes of the imperialist countries.”
The fundamentally imperialist nature of Zionism as a movement can only be fully understood by this classical Marxist, materialist method. Though its interests often fit in with those of its wider imperialist allies, including various imperialist forces whose ideology is some form of Christianity, Jewish-Zionism is today an imperialist force in its own right. This is the explanatory ‘elephant in the room’ that is missing in Tony’s otherwise extremely useful book, which will no doubt be referred to for many years to come.
On January 8, after the first week of the Lula government, there was a rehearsal of a Bolsonarist coup d’état.
The coup has the connivance not only of the government of the Federal District and its police, but also had the complicity of the Ministry of Defense of the Lula government. Minister José Mucio, was in the camps with the coup leaders on Sunday morning and had presented an Army report to Lula concluding that there was a great demobilization of the Bolsonarist camps, that is, he advised them to let their guard down, which ended up favoring the coup action.
The apparatus of the Armed Forces, the intelligence sector (ABIN), the Federal Police (PF) and the Federal Highway Police (PRF) also continue to be a transmission belt of fascism. For this reason, they did not denounce the coup widely announced by all Bolsonarist circles. Worse, they did not anticipate any preventive measures or contain the caravans. On the contrary, members of the Armed Forces participated directly and even took selfies, posing in the middle of the attack on Congress.
These facts indicate that Lula does not control the federal repressive apparatus or the national intelligence agencies. The fact that these security organizations do not intervene, in fact, is a way of intervening, giving carte blanche to fascist groups.
Behind this coup rehearsal are not only those who paid for the caravans, buses, logistics, cost allowance and accommodation, but also financial capital, the big merchants, owners of food networks, the landowners, in short, the bourgeoisie and imperialism, the banks and the media, which have been trying to sabotage the Lula government since its early days with economic measures such as increasing fuel prices.
This siege pushes the Lula government to become hostage to the repressive apparatus still under Bolsonarist control.
There is only one way to defeat the coup: a broad popular mobilization. This is the only way we can guarantee workers’ rights, including a real increase in the minimum wage.
No conciliation! No tolerance! No amnesty for coup!
The Bolsonarist coup d’état rehearsal carried out now in 2023 in Brazil is much more serious and stronger than the 2021 assault of the Trumpists on the Capitol. Trump did not have the support of the Pentagon and most of the CIA. Bolsonaristas have the support of a large Brazilian repressive arc to overthrow the Lula government and attack the people..
Democracy is health, education, land, work, real wages, transportation for the working population and not the continuation of robbery and the constant threat of coup d’état and Bolsonarist fascism.
Tony Greenstein, the long-time Jewish leftist with left-Bundist1 politics and author of the encyclopaedic work Zionism During the Holocaust, has issued a denunciation of Peter Gregson, the initiator of Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR), the Campaign Against Bogus Anti-Semitism (CABA), and now One Democratic Palestine. His denunciation is a sectarian tirade based on logic-chopping and a flinch from drawing the hard conclusions of his own thinking, something that Tony does repeatedly, not just over Zionism and bogus anti-Semitism accusations, but also Ukraine.
It appears that one important reason for this is Peter’s initiation of One Democratic Palestine, which aims to fight for solidarity with Palestinians based on the demand for a single democratic, multi-ethnic Palestinian state to replace Israel. An objective which Tony correctly supports, but evidently also considers it outrageous that an ‘interloper’ like Peter Gregson should try to create such a campaign.
The tirade claims to represent “A Political Health Warning – Why Palestine Solidarity Activists Should Have Nothing to do with Peter Gregson” and goes on to assert that “Whilst there are very few anti-Semites who support the Palestinians – Gregson is the exception that proves the rule”. Yet when he attempts to prove any of this, he entangles himself in an awful mess of self-contradiction.
For a start, he accurately enough notes that Peter Gregson was expelled, at his instigation, from Labour Against the Witchhunt (in May 2019). However, this statement contains a blatant falsehood:
“…he put up a petition on his website linking to an article by Holocaust denier Nick Kollerstrom who had written a ‘literature review’ on ‘The Auschwitz “Gas Chamber” Illusion’.
There was no link to Kollerstrom’s article in Peter Gregson’s 22 March 2019 Petition update. As the screenshots below show, there was a link to another article, by Ian Fantom, titled UK’s Labour Antisemitism Split, which contained a long section of quotes from Theodore Herzl’s diaries and a brief mention of Kollerstrom’s article (with link). Peter also mentions the link in Fantom’s article and clearly condemned the Kollerstrom article as ‘toxic’ in the same paragraph. There was neither a link to, nor an endorsement of, Kollerstrom’s article in Peter’s update. On the basis of that fabrication and falsehood, Tony initiated the expulsion of Peter from Labour Against the Witchhunt. And a bunch of foolish, gullible people pretended it was true and voted for his expulsion on that basis!
Tony’s falsehood about Peter’s fictitious link to Kollerstrom’s article becomes completely ridiculous since in his current article there is a REAL, DIRECT link to the same Kollerstrom article. So, if LAW still existed, and both Tony and Peter were members of it, on the same basis as before, Peter would have every right to move Tony’s expulsion on a charge of linking to Kollerstrom’s toxic ‘holocaust-sceptic’ article. And unlike in 2019, the accusation would be true! Tony’s motto is clearly “Do as I say, not do as I do!” Well, what’s sauce for the goose …. (of course, we are not for Tony’s expulsion from anything, just for an end to this hypocritical, sectarian smearing rubbish!)
The whole allegation of ‘anti-Semitism’ against Peter is a load of nonsense. Previously, Tony has said that several people, including Ian Donovan of the Consistent Democrats, Peter Gregson, and the Israeli Jazz musician/political writer Gilad Atzmon are “politically, but not personally anti-Semitic”. Yet all three of these have no antipathy for Jews whatsoever, as Tony himself has noted, and frequently work with Jewish people, positively cite Jewish people on politics, etc. An anti-Semite is someone who exhibits “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group” (Mirriam-Webster dictionary). Just by saying these people are “politically, but not personally anti-Semitic” Tony contradicts this, as to be anti-Semitic such hostility and discrimination must be demonstrated. He evidently does not believe what he says.
What is more, Tony actually denies that Anti-Semitism today is even a form of racism. Indeed he has written articles headlined: “Why Anti-Semitism is no longer a form of racism –it’s a Marginal Prejudice confined to the fascist fringe” in which he writes:
“It’s true that Jews are a minority but they are not an oppressed minority. Millionaires are also a minority but they are not oppressed. Racists are also a minority which is why the far-Right identitarian movement uses the language of identity politics.”
“There is no offence of driving whilst Jewish but driving whilst Black is a crime. Jews are not victims of police violence, imprisoned or found dead in police custody because they are Jewish. There is no discernible discrimination against Jews.
“Of course there is individual prejudice, a legacy of the past.“
In recent work on Zionism and the Holocaust, he repeats this point, while the bit about it being confined to the ‘fascist fringe’ appears absent. In his tirade, he denounces Peter for a passage where Peter says:
“To say Jews in the UK have great leverage is not anti-Semitic, it is just a statement of fact. Like saying an Eton education gets you into Parliament. Or Muslims don’t like alcohol and fear speaking out about Islamophobia. Or Scots are ‘good with money’, i.e. not profligate. Or Germany has an enormous collective guilt over the holocaust, while Austria, its partner in crime, has not. Or London has many rich Russian oligarchs…”
Apparently, this is terrible racism, and the person who believes it should be shunned. Bizarre, since Tony himself said that “Jews are a minority … but … not an oppressed minority”. He may just as well denounce Peter for his facetious remarks about Scots (Peter is Scottish). Its trivia, Tony himself does not believe there is anything wrong with it, just as he does not believe there is anything wrong with linking to Kollerstrom’s article on the CODOH website. The evidence of that is that Tony did it himself, in this very article!
The Nazi genocide in Hungary
He also denounces Peter for making the following allegation about Zionist involvement in shepherding Jews to the gas chambers in Hungary:
“These were the people that Hitler gassed. With Zionist support. Proof? Over the period 1942-44, Rabbi Weissmandl of Hungary made a deal with Adolf Eichmann…”
But Peter was not accusing this (non-Zionist) Rabbi of being involved in the extermination. Very much the opposite … he is saying that this Rabbi tried to put together a scheme to buy the freedom of Hungarian and Slovakian Jews from the Nazis. There were over 720,000 Jews in Hungary at that time, including tens of thousands who had fled from Slovakia, and another 100,000 or more Christian ex-Jewish converts. He became an impassioned anti-Zionist because Zionists refused to help with the scheme. This Slovakian Rabbi apparently tried to do this and was rebuffed by Zionist leaders in Hungary. This is undoubtedly a source of pride for Naturei Karta, itself a dissident strand of Judaism. Quite how it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to mention it defies belief. It seems that Tony is upset at Peter’s association with NK and seeking to smear him in a crude manner.
Tony makes the same accusation as the one Peter cites, against the leading Zionist in Hungary, Rudolph Kasztner, who knowing full well that Jews who were deported to Auschwitz were being gassed, systematically hid this from the bulk of Hungarian Jews, and indeed made deals with the Nazis, with Adolf Eichmann as his chief interlocutor, to allow a small minority of wealthy Zionist Jews to emigrate to Palestine in exchange for offering no resistance to the deportation (to gas chambers) of the majority. He clearly worked with the Zionist leadership in Palestine and its agents in doing this.
Tony himself, in his major work, relates that Kasztner “received a copy of the [Auschwitz] Protocols [a detailed account of the Auschwitz extermination process by two escapees] at the end of April . The Protocols were also sent to the Zionist liaison office in Istanbul, as well as to Nathan Shwalb [a leading Zionist in Switzerland]”. Tony then notes that “Schwalb was ‘reluctant to publicise the news about Auschwitz’” and concludes “This reluctance probably stemmed from his desire not to upset Kasztner’s negotiations with the SS.” (Greenstein, Zionism During the Holocaust, pp199-200).
Then Tony writes about the involvement of the Zionist top layers both in this, and in covering it up, in connection with the Kasztner libel trial in Israel in 1954, where some truth about this criminality was aired for the first time:
“Why did the Israeli state insist on a libel action on behalf of Kasztner? Clearly it believed that it could bury the rumours of collaboration between the JA [Jewish Agency] and the Nazis….
“Instead of exonerating Kasztner the trial achieved the exact opposite. Kastner effectively became the defendant. Kastner’s boasting of a special relationship with the SS and his stay as a guest of the Gestapo in Vienna was seen as particularly ‘repulsive’.
“Hungarian holocaust survivors testified that if they had known the truth about the Holocaust then they would have tried to escape… It was estimated that 4000-5000 Jews escaped across the Romanian border in any event.”
“Kasztner and his associates actively dissuaded the Jews of Kolozsvar from escaping. Joseph Katz, a lawyer from Nodvarod, four miles from the Romanian border, testified that its Jews knew nothing of Auschwitz.”
Tony then speaks of the verdict against Kasztner in the trial and quotes the judge that Kasztner had “sold his soul to the devil”. “It was a damning verdict, not just on Kasztner but the Jewish Agency” said Tony, noting that the decision of the Israeli state to appeal caused the fall of Moshe Shertok’s government in 1955. Kasztner was then murdered, in circumstances that do suggest a state attempt to erase the question, given that Shin Bet withdrew his personal protection even though a government-funded appeal was in train. When the appeal came to court, in 1957, Tony noted that:
“If Kasztner were convicted, then the Zionist leadership itself stood condemned.”
And when the court overturned the charge of collaboration, he noted that the “judgement was overturned on legal and political grounds”, and then cited the wife of one of the Auschwitz escapers and author of the Auschwitz Protocols, Rudolf Vrba:
“What Kasztner did was unbelievable because people had the right to have this information… Rudolph was very bitter about the fact than Kasztner was regarded as a hero in Israel while he and Wetzler [the other escaper and co-author of the Protocols] went unrecognised”.
All this is sufficient to more than substantiate Peter Gregson’s statement that Jews from Hungary were gassed “with Zionist support”. That’s what the collaboration of Kasztner, and the Zionist Agency, implicating the leadership of the Yishuv [the proto-Zionist state in colonised Palestine before 1948], amounted to. That’s what Tony’s evidence in his book points to. It seems that Tony is flinching from the logic of his own argumentation and throwing abuse at Peter, who is more consistent. This is yet another example of his centrist tendency to contradict himself and backtrack from drawing the obvious conclusions from correct analysis.
“Outsize Jewish Political Power”
His other point against Peter is also ridiculous:
“Gregson goes on to say, on the basis that Jews are eight times over-represented in the UK Parliament that
‘they are powerful, in proportion to their share of the population (300,000 out of 66 million), comprising 0.4 per cent of us.’
“The fact that the Zionists encourage such conspiracy theories by claiming to speak on behalf of all Jews, doesn’t make what Gregson says any the less anti-Semitic. Gregson’s assertion that
‘It is because of these wealthy Zionist Jews, steered from the British Board of Deputies of British Jews and the like, that nobody in this country, including our media, dare point out the blindingly obvious: that we have utterly lost our freedom of speech on Israel because everybody is frightened of what Zionist Jews will do to them.
“One wonders why, if Jews are only 0.4% where they get all this power.”
The key phrase is of course “in proportion to”. As atomised individuals, the 0.4% of the population who are Jewish ought to hold no more than 0.4% of the power in British, or Western society in general. But Tony himself knows full well that this is not true. The basic facts as to why were most comprehensively laid out in Norman Finkelstein’s celebrated 2018 essay Corbyn Mania:
“The three richest Brits are Jewish. Jews comprise only .5 percent of the population but fully 20 percent of the 100 richest Brits. Relative both to the general population and to other ethno-religious groups, British Jews are in the aggregate disproportionately wealthy, educated, and professionally successful. These data track closely with the picture elsewhere. Jews comprise only 2 percent of the US population but fully 30 percent of the 100 richest Americans, while Jews enjoy the highest household income among religious groups. Jews comprise less than .2 percent of the world’s population but, of the world’s 200 richest people, fully 20 percent are Jewish. Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defense organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas.
“In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, “in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.” The wonder would be if these raw data didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power. The Israel-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute rhapsodizes that “The Jewish People today is at a historical zenith of wealth creation” and “has never been as powerful as now.” It is certainly legitimate to query the amplitude of this political power and whether it has been exaggerated, but it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts. (Full text, with references, available at https://www.normanfinkelstein.com/finkelstein-on-corbyn-mania/)
Hypocrisy of Bundist Politics
If Peter is ‘anti-Semitic’ for alluding to these “critical socio-economic facts”, why is not Norman Finkelstein not denounced by Tony and others for laying them out in full? The reason is related to Tony’s semi-Bundist politics. Norman Finkelstein is probably the world’s best known Jewish critic of Israeli crimes. Tony himself paraphrases Finkelstein’s earlier insights from TheHolocaust Industry in his Zionism During the Holocaust. And Tony himself has no trouble sharing platforms with Norman Finkelstein.
Whereas Peter is not Jewish. The only Jewish ideologues who have the brass-neck to accuse Finkelstein of ‘anti-Semitism’ are Zionists, including fellow-travelling gentile pseudo-left sleaze merchants like Jim Denham and Andrew Coates, and Tony is not keen on being associated with them. But for a non-Jew to cite, or even allude to, the very same “crucial socio-economic facts” is for Tony “anti-Semitic”. Apparently, you must be ethnically qualified to have an opinion on such things. This also manifested itself earlier when Ian Donovan produced a set of theses on the Jewish Question in 2014 that cited the same facts. Because he is not Jewish, this is anathema. Norman Finkelstein, who is not a Bundist, evidently did not think so. He clearly defended the right of these views to be heard at a public event in London in 2016 and was influenced sufficiently to produce an essay two years later that evidently accepted the same concept.
At an even cruder level, it means that a non-Jewish leftist such as Peter Gregson can be expelled for linking an internet discussion piece to another article that in turn links to an article that contains a link to the Holocaust Denial CODOH site, to illustrate a point unrelated to the Nazi holocaust (i.e., no actual link!) while Tony thinks he can link his website directly to the CODOH site with impunity. This is because he is ‘pure’, i.e., because he is Jewish. And to cap this, Tony with his Bundist politics feels entitled to smear someone as sympathetic to Nazi holocaust denial in one paragraph of an article, and then to accuse the same person of ‘anti-Semitism’ for pointing to Zionist support for the very same genocide he is supposedly ‘denying’, in another paragraph of the same article. Even though the two smears are completely at odds with each other!
This nonsense is symptomatic of Greenstein’s politics. In his book he rightly praises the resistance to Nazism of the Jewish Bund particularly in Poland during the Second World War. The problem is that he also shares some of the prejudices of the Bund, the conceptions that Lenin, among others, attacked them for, the conception that only Jewish Socialists have the right to lead the Jewish working class. Today, it seems to mean (for Tony) that only Jewish socialists have the right to evennotice the disproportionate representation of Jews in the bourgeois establishment, a legacy of the Jews’ pre-bourgeois role as a commodity-trading class, which evidently later gave rise (under capitalism) to a different class composition from many other national-ethnic groups that they lived alongside. That different composition and its origin is something that Abram Leon wrote about at length in his work The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation, even if he did not live to see the creation of the Zionist state (he was murdered in Auschwitz). As indeed was prefigured by Karl Marx in his 19th Century essay The Jewish Question, which capitulators to Zionism to this day shudder at for its uncompromising materialist insights.
Tony’s Bundist anathemas are an attack on Marxism itself, and an attack on working class democracy. In his Zionism During the Holocaust, he claims that “Today there is no specific socio-economic function that is specific to Jews. That is why there is no ‘Jewish Question’” (p47). But that was also true when Abram Leon wrote his seminal work. However, the pre-capitalist class role of the Jews was supremely relevant in explaining the specific class composition that made them vulnerable to genocide in the early period of imperialist capitalism, and it is relevant today, in changed circumstances today, after the radicalised, leftist Jewish lower classes were largely destroyed by genocide and the remnants absorbed though ‘upward mobility’ by neoliberal capitalism, to the point that Tony can point out that the Jewish proletariat no longer exists. If that is true, then obviously Jews must be overrepresented in qualitatively wealthier classes – by simple arithmetic, and so we come down to the same point again – “outsized Jewish political power” as Finkelstein puts it. This question is the property of the entire working-class movement, irrespective of origin, to discuss according to the norms of workers democracy. Attempts to stop them being debated are simply reactionary and should be condemned.
Centrism and Crystallised Confusion over Ukraine
Tony’s evasions and self-contradictions on this are an expression of his centrist politics: “crystallised confusion”, as Trotsky put it, or in a slightly different sense “revolutionary in words, opportunist in deeds”. Tony’s continual contradictions are a classic symptom of this. If he were not tied to Bundism, he might be in a more mainstream centrist left-wing group. Instead, he plays an important role as an influential individual on a fragmented left where the larger sects – the SWP, Socialist Party, etc have little authority. So, he is more much more important than any isolated individual. He not only is the seemingly most radical critic of Zionism on the British left, but he also addresses other questions (badly), such as Ukraine, where he played a key role in stopping the Socialist Labour Network (SLN) taking a principled, anti-imperialist position of defence of Russia and the people of the Donbass.
When he has bothered to put some semblance of a Marxist analysis together, he has come up with material that ought logically, for a Marxist, lead to a position of defence of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine to defend the Donbass. In two articles in the Weekly Worker last spring, he polemicised against the notion, widespread on the phoney ‘far left’, that this is an inter-imperialist war. He wrote:
“Economically Russia ranks 11th in the world, with a gross domestic product of $1.65 trillion (less than South Korea). Meanwhile the United States has a GDP of $23 trillion. Put bluntly, because of the disastrous privatisation of its nationalised industries and Putin’s support for the oligarchs, Russia does not have the economic capacity to maintain a war machine like the United States.”
Aside from the facile point about Putin’s support for ‘oligarchs’ (in fact he sent several of the worst of them, including Khodorovsky and Guzinsky, the West’s darling privatisers, into exile in fear of their lives), the logical conclusion of this must be that Russia is not an imperialist country. He strongly implies this, without quite saying so, when he wrote, in the following issue of WW:
“In my last Weekly Worker article I explained the background to the present conflict. I argued that this is not an inter-imperialist war, but a defensive war by Russia against the threat posed to it – not only by Ukraine’s potential accession to Nato, but its de facto status as a Nato member today.”
“…one does not characterise the political nature of a war by who struck the first blow.”
“Lenin had quite a bit to say about this. In ‘The difference between aggressive and defensive war’ he posed the question as to what would happen ‘if tomorrow Morocco were to declare war on France, India on England, Persia or China on Russia’. According to the formulations of the United Secretariat and Achcar, socialists would be bound to support England, France and Russia! Lenin disagreed, arguing:
those would be ‘just’, ‘defensive’ wars, irrespective of who attacked first; and every socialist would sympathise with the victory of the oppressed, dependent, unequal states against the oppressing, slave-owning, predatory ‘great’ powers.
In other words, the fact that technically Russia landed the first blow in the present conflict is irrelevant. That tells us nothing about the political or class nature of the conflict.”
“In other words”, for Tony, you might logically think, “any socialist” would sympathise with the victory of Russia against NATO imperialism and its Ukrainian proxies. You would think this was doubly obligatory when Tony wrote of the situation in Donbass since the Maidan coup in 2014:
“The advent of a new regime in Ukraine under the corrupt Petro Poroshenko saw the abolition of Russian language rights affecting nearly half Ukraine’s population. It also saw attacks by fascist militias on Russians in the Donbas. It was therefore no surprise that parts of eastern Ukraine broke away to form the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, with the aid of the Russian military. For the last eight years there has been an undeclared war against these republics by the fascist Azov battalion, during which 14,000 people have been killed”
This is the reason why Putin had no choice but to intervene militarily, as every genuine anti-imperialist knows, and underlines why, as Lenin wrote of earlier such conflicts, “every socialist” must sympathise with the “victory” of the forces fighting imperialism.
But Tony does not. Instead, he writes:
“It goes without saying that socialists unreservedly condemn Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, with the terrible devastation and suffering that they have inflicted. We should have no hesitation in calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. The regimes in both Moscow and Kyiv are rotten and anti-working class, so we are in favour of unity between the working classes of both countries, not a war which lines up workers behind these leaders.”
So, in one and the same polemic, spread over 2 weeks in WW, he quotes Lenin saying that ‘every socialist’ should be in favour of the victory of the non-imperialist side in such conflicts, (which in this one means Russia and the Donbass population), against NATO and its proxies. Yet at the same time he “unreservedly condemns” Russia in what he agrees is exactly the kind of conflict Lenin was talking about (otherwise why quote Lenin at all?). A more priceless example of centrist politics, of “crystallised confusion”, of being “revolutionary in words, opportunist in deeds”, or simply trying to ‘have your cake and eat it’, would be difficult to find.
Likewise, when supporters of the Consistent Democrats put a motion to a meeting of the Socialist Labour Network on 29th July, seeking to change the policy of that movement to a principled one of defending Russia’s forces, and the people of the Donbass, against what Tony Greenstein himself says is a NATO proxy war, Tony Greenstein actively opposed it, and was instrumental in ensuring that it failed to pass (though the number of abstentions on the vote made it very clear that nearly half of those present did not support the craven, third-campist existing policy of the SLN).
His opportunism on this was even more manifest, as he openly expressed the fear that if the SLN adopted a Russia-defencist position on this, more right-wing members of the SLN would walk away. To hell with the Donbass people then, who need solidarity from socialists in the West more than anything else. A terrible position – if someone had made a similar point about Palestinians, Tony would likely have gone apoplectic (or would he? – this even logically casts some doubt on that!)
There is a common method here, between Ukraine and the Jewish Question/Zionism. Liberal politics trumps Marxism. What this means is crystal clear over Ukraine, but it is also true in terms of his violations of working-class democracy, attacking those who oppose his Bundist conceptions (which are also a form of liberalism) from the left. Tony is just one, currently prominent, expression of centrism as a political phenomenon which needs to be overcome if principled anti-imperialist, communist politics are to make progress in the current situation.
The politics of the Jewish Bund, which demanded a separate Jewish socialist party in the Russian empire. The Bund continued for a considerable time after the Russian revolution, in Poland particularly. Its concept was that the Bund would have a kind of exclusive mandate to organise Jewish workers. The whole idea of this was strongly opposed by Lenin.
I have been penalised for 29 days by Facebook for sharing images of Ukrainian Nazis as part of a discussion on the “Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn” Discussion group on Facebook. Here is the kind of evidence we are talking about:
Photographic evidence of widespread Nazism among young people in Ukraine, promoted by the far right US puppet regime. For Facebook’s ‘moderators’, posting such EVIDENCE amounts to support for ‘Dangerous organisations’. A slur worthy of Goebbells himself.
This is my appeal to the Facebook Oversight Board.
This is EVIDENCE of Ukrainian Nazism, not support for Nazism. The penalty is an OUTRAGEOUS SLUR
I am being penalised for providing EVIDENCE of the dominance of Nazism in Ukraine. The photos I posted are obviously intended to PROVE that the Ukrainian regime supports Nazism, and brainwashes its own young people into Hitler worship.
These images are genuine and accurate and FB does not dispute their authenticity. Some of the images I posted were posted approvingly by the Ukrainian President, Zelensky, of his own troops wearing Nazi insignia, on his official Instagram account. He has done this three times and I have posted these images many times in discussions. No one has ever disputed their authenticity, no fact checker, as they are provenly authentic.
This is not the first time I have been penalised in this manner. I was previously penalised for providing evidence that a thug who attacked several Roma women in a notorious video is a member of the Azov Battalion.
It is totally mendacious to accuse anyone of posting EVIDENCE of fascist activity of supporting fascism themselves. This obviously implicitly bans all and any evidence of fascist activity from being posted. I shall be circulating evidence of this therefore to all anti-fascist organisations. I will seek MAXIMUM PUBLICITY of this. It will soon be all over Twitter and other media.
This implicates Facebook in support for Nazism, not me, and if not overturned will implicate the Oversight Board as well.
Pedro Castillo proposed a referendum in January this year in Peru to give Bolivia access to the sea through Peruvian territory. From Bolivia, the president of the Chamber of Deputies of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Freddy Mamani, welcomed the Pedro Castillo’s initiative, considering that such a gesture by the president reflects his “democratic spirit” and his desire to strengthen brotherhood between the two nations.
From then on, Peru’s Congress began to plot a parliamentary coup against Pedro Castillo, accusing him of “treason against the homeland” for his proposed referendum to give Bolivia access to the sea through Peruvian territory.
To avoid a parliamentary coup, Castillo raised the possibility of dissolving Congress, a power that on certain occasions the Peruvian Constitution reserves to the presidents of the country. In this sense, before facing a new motion of censure, Castillo sought the dissolution of parliament and a call for new parliamentary elections.
Congress, where the Fujimorist right has a majority, voted through a motion to unseat Castillo for “permanent moral disability.” Castillo was then detained by the National Police. Dina Boluarte, vice president until Castillo’s fall, was proclaimed president of Peru on Wednesday, December 7, by Congress.
In addition to the facts that make up the chronicle of the fall of Pedro Castillo, it is necessary to point out the profound reasons for the coup orchestrated by the Peruvian right-wing opposition, which accuses Castillo of treason to the homeland for solidarity with a secular demand of a sister nation of Peru. This fascist opposition is the true traitor to the peoples of Peru and of all Latin America and loyal to USA imperialism. Pedro Castillo’s attempt to give Bolivia an exit to the sea was very much in the sense of forming a Peru-Bolivia axis that, if formed, would change the equilibrium system in Andean America.
Thus, for example, in a possible Peru-Bolivia axis, Bolivia itself could negotiate the issue of lithium on better terms with multinationals. Castillo’s downfall also closes, for now, the possibility of direct access, across the Pacific to the heart of Latin America, of the Silk Road, promoted by China.
Therefore, the parliamentary coup against Castillo is part of an imperialist offensive in Latin America, as is also seen in the case against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina.
As we said in June 2021 when Pedro Castillo’s election victory took place.
“The intention to reconile the demands of the exploiters and the exploited never ends well. Peru Libre and Castillo will be no exception. Nor does it seem that by capitulating to the coupists’ appetites will a coup be stopped. After the 2014 elections, when the same blackmail was made against Dilma, the re-elected PT president of Brazil did not call on the masses to fight against the hybrid war of imperialism and the bourgeois coupists. On the contrary, she incorporated into her programme the programme of the defeated neoliberal candidate. Result: she was discredited before her constituents, the working masses, became weakened politically and socially and this eased the way for the coup without the coupists needing to use force, and the coup was successful in 2016.
At the same time that workers in Peru must advance in their political independence through the construction of the party constituted by its vanguard. Having as its guide the path of permanent revolution, the only way to materialize the historical interests of the exploited and oppressed. That is why we do not call for support for any bourgeois government, we at TMB-FCT fight against right-wing candidacy, imperialism and electoral fraud, and call for a vote to Pedro Castillo as an instrument of this struggle in the electoral field, but we do not support bourgeois governments. Castillo was elected by the National Free Peru Party (PNPL), which defines himself as “Marxist-Leninist-Mariateguista”.
As Mariategui pointed out in a document called “Anti-Imperialist View” in which he polemicises against the “anti-imperialism” of the III International, he says that while they disparage indigenous identity and identify with the imperialist colonizers: “the national bourgeoisie see cooperation with imperialism as the best source of profit, feel sufficiently owners of political power so as not to seriously worry about national sovereignty.”
TMB – Peru: The victory of Pedro Castillo and the tasks of workers.
Therefore, it is the task of the workers vanguard in Peru to promote the independent grouping of the working class with the aim of building a party that defends the historical interests of the class and leads all the exploited in the city and country. This is the only guarantee of effective resolution of democratic and anti-imperialist demands.
This issue focuses on the struggle against imperialist war in the wider world, and on the struggles of the working class at home against the massive attack being perpetrated by the ruling class against us today.
The front-page lead article focuses on the murderous fuel price attack on the working class and calls for a general strike and vengeance against the profiteers. It is obvious that if this is not defeated it will lead to many deaths, probably many more than Cameron’s earlier austerity attacks and Johnson’s malicious use of the Covid pandemic for a cull. It also tears into the outrageous attempts to blame Russia for a massive gouging of profits out of the population by oil and gas profiteers. This is a catastrophic attack on the population and needs to be defeated and crushed by organised labour.
In the back page lead article, there is extensive coverage of the war in Ukraine, the recent pause and partial Russian defeats, and an analysis of the reasons for this. Notwithstanding the imperialist media, the Special Military Operation that began in February was a defensive act, done on a shoestring with a limited number of troops mobilised on a temporary basis. That proved insufficient and Russia has been compelled to do the job properly with a proper mobilisation and a determined commander put in place. Our article analyses the acts of US inspired terrorism, involving the British, and behind it imperialist desperation that their puppets are still heading for defeat in this war. We obviously motivate that the working class has a side in this war – with the people of the Donbass who are targets for imperialist/Nazi terrorism/genocide, and their Russian defenders.
There is material on the anti-imperialist united front on an international level in the current context from our Brazilian comrades in the Liga Comunista, and their article on the recent electoral victory of Lula Da Silva of the Workers Party over the fascistic populist Bolsonaro, and the collective actions of workers that put paid to the threat of his trying to stay in power after losing the election, Trump style.
Regarding the struggle against imperialism, there is a sharp attack on the imperialist media trying to use discontent in China at lockdown measures to protect against Covid, to incite ‘colour revolution’ Noting that the liberal media in particularly often correctly condemned those who defied public health measures in the West, and yet are inciting such things in China.
One Ukraine again, there is a piece on Germany’s adoption of the Nazi concept of ‘Holodomor’ as a smear of the USSR as supposedly guilty of a 1930s ‘genocide’ in Ukraine, to excuse German imperialism’s backing Ukrainian Nazis that were Hitler’s supporters. There is a solidarity statement with the people of the Donbass republics and oblasts regarding the recent referenda for unification with Russia, and a leaflet issued by International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity to a recent meeting of Stop the War in London. And there is a short piece noting the threat from US funded bioweapons labs in Ukraine.
Regarding politics in Britain, there is a review of Chris Williamson’s new book on his struggles in the Labour Party as the most principled figure among Labour parliamentary figures in the Corbyn period, in standing up to the witchhunt. And a more extensive article on the prospects of a unification of comrade Williamson’s Resist movement with the Socialist Labour Party of Arthur Scargill, as a potential step forward to creating a genuine workers party here. There in an article addressing the need to abolish the Monarchy in the context of the death of the monarch this summer.
In all this issue is, as is right, very much centred on the struggle against imperialism and war.
The projected merger between the Resistance Movement (Resist) and the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) is an intriguing but possibly fruitful endeavour. Resist was founded in 2020 in the aftermath of the defeat of the Corbyn movement and the rise to the Labour leadership of Keir Starmer. Its most prominent founder is Chris Williamson, the former Labour MP for Derby North, and for a while Shadow Minister for Local Government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Chris W was the most outspoken and principled left-wing former MP by far to emerge from the Labour Party in the Corbyn period, the only one to sharply criticise the conciliation toward the Blairite right wing that doomed Corbyn to defeat by his extremely ruthless and utterly unscrupulous Blairite and Zionist opponents.
His refusal to bow the knee to the witchhunt led to his being suspended three times on trumped-up and mendacious charges in 2019 by the Labour Party. When he defeated the second of these suspensions, in the High Court where it was declared unlawful, he was then suspended for a third time in a blatant manoeuvre to evade the court judgement. He was blocked from standing for the Labour Party in the December 2019 General Election and stood as an independent, losing his seat (which of course was the whole purpose of the corrupt suspensions in the first place).
The charges involved innuendos of ‘anti-Semitism’ by the Labour Party’s powerful Zionist wing, who defend the mass ethnic cleaning of the Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, and the Israeli state ever since, against the supposed ‘terrorism’ of its victims, and systematically smear anyone who stands up for Palestinians as in some way motivated by hatred of Jewish people. These lies do not stand up to a moment’s scrutiny by any objective person, but objectivity in the Labour Party is in very short supply.
The Tory/Blairite-infested Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the quango which in 2021 produced a fraudulent report on ‘anti-Semitism’ aiming to smear the Corbynite left, originally also aimed to smear Chris Williamson by denouncing him as some kind of perpetrator in their report. But unlike others in Labour, who were sluggish to react to this in fear of the malign influence of Starmer and the Zionists, Chris made it very clear to the EHRC that any such smears would result in an all-out political and legal war with himself. The witchhunting quango, which has itself been credibly accused of gaslighting and playing down institutional racism on behalf of Boris Johnson’s government, backed off and removed their draft nonsense about Chris from their report before it was published.
There is a long tradition of pro-imperialist and racist politics in Labour, including support for Zionism and various other forms of colonialism, originally rooted in the pro-imperialist labour bureaucracy, and even more among the overtly bourgeois, neo-liberal and corporate-funded elite layer of political mercenaries that were assembled and empowered by Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair. The later layer came to dominate Labour in the period between the defeat of the 1984-5 miners’ strike and the leftist, working class political revolt against austerity that put Jeremy Corbyn into the Labour leadership in 2015. This revolt was at bottom a ferocious clash between a regenerating mass base for this bourgeois workers party, and the reinforced neoliberal political bureaucracy of the Blairites, a clash that was always likely to be bloody. As it proved, and Corbyn proved utterly inadequate to fight back against the neoliberal counterattack.
Chris Williamson is virtually the only Labour parliamentarian who has come out of the Corbyn period with his integrity as a socialist intact. In fact, he has been obviously radicalised by the experience and has even taking to explaining why the Labour Party is not a vehicle for socialism by citing the famous remark of Lenin that the Labour Party, “though composed of workers”, is a “thoroughly bourgeois party” led by “reactionaries, and the worst kind of reactionaries at that”. This should not be taken to imply that Chris has embraced revolutionary Marxism tout court, but certainly indicates a strong trajectory away from Labourism in a more left-wing direction that is likely to become expressed in mass politics in the next period. As expressed in his condemnation of Zionism, which is getting stronger and clearer as time goes on, and his principled and courageous speaking out in defence of the population of the Donbass, under attack from Ukrainian Nazis since 2014, and defence of the Russian Special Military Operation in Ukraine to stop the genocidal NATO-inspired and -funded Maidan genocidal ethnic war against the Russian-speaking Donbass people.
Can Resist revive the SLP?
What is clear from Chris’s recent autobiographical work, Ten Years Hard Labour, is that he is one of the most principled and radical figures that have ever broken to the left from Labour and is determined to play a unifying role in trying to put together a new working-class party initiative. Which brings us onto the proposed unification of the Resistance Movement with the Socialist Labour Party, which was founded on the initiative of Arthur Scargill, then the President of the National Union of Mineworkers, on May Day 1996.
The SLP was founded as a belated response to the takeover of the Labour Party by the supporters of Neil Kinnock and then his protégé and continuator, Tony Blair. Kinnock was the traitorous neoliberal ex-‘left’ MP and loudmouth from the 1970s, who when elevated to leader in the mid-1980s, spent an enormous amount of effort stabbing the NUM in the back in their great 1984-5 strike, which was against Thatcher’s massive pit closure programme which destroyed the British coal mining industry, the employer of around 190,000 miners, who were a key strategic backbone of the labour movement in Britain. The SLP showed much promise in the immediate aftermath of its formation, attracting many serious left-wing and class struggle inclined militants, with a variety of leftist political views. Unfortunately, it rapidly became clear that Arthur Scargill and the layer around them did not have the political capacity to lead the membership they had attracted. For all their history of exemplary trade union militancy, and their socialist aspirations, their education in the left wing of the bureaucracy and their background in official communism led them to see many of those who joined the SLP as simply a threat.
So right from the beginning, the SLP was saddled with a bureaucratic constitutional clause that banned any kind of dual affiliation by members with any other trend on the very fragmented left, or even implicitly any kind of factional alignment within the SLP. The latter was very selectively enforced: those in clearly factional groupings close to the leadership got away with blatant breaches of the same principles. The outcome was a series of tragi-comic purges of much of the membership, which gutted the SLP of much of its potential to offer an alternative to the Blairised Labour Party, and meant that as the 2000’s wore on, the SLP’s challenge to Blairism was overshadowed by those of other forces, such as the Socialist Alliance and RESPECT, which actually inflicted some defeats on the Blairities.
The big problem of those other forces was that those large sects on the ‘far left’ who played a major role in building them saw then as temporary coalitions and arenas to build their own projects, not the progenitors of a new working-class party. So, they managed to mislead and disappoint a generation of left militants whom the SLP was simply unable to reach because of its bureaucratic sterility. George Galloway personified the ‘what might have been’ of the SLP in the 2000s, when he led a section of the Labour Party’s mass base among the oppressed Muslim immigrant population into confrontation with Blair over Iraq, and won some victories and near victories, it was the SWP who were able to benefit from it and ultimately mislead and shipwreck it, while the SLP were nowhere near being able to address this layer. The SLP thus remained marginal all through not only the resistance to Blair, but also the Corbyn period, which also might have been expressed differently if the SLP had done what it originally aspired to do.
The attempt to revive the SLP for a new generation as a unifying force for the ex-Corbynite layers who are looking for a focus of resistance to build a new party around is a positive and worthwhile endeavour, which we hope is able to succeed. The ethos that Chris Williamson has been fighting for since he left the Labour Party has been an attempt to play a unifying role among the existing fragments of the working class left outside the Labour Party. He has worked alongside TUSC, and with the Workers Party of George Galloway and Joti Brar, in election campaigns that have attempted to confront the Starmerites, trying to overcome the obvious flaws of those initiatives and play a unifying role. The attempt to unify with the SLP and revive this flawed but originally excellently driven initiative is in the same mould and has a good chance of success. Though Chris’s thrust in seeking wider democracy and inclusiveness of the left and the working-class grassroots (his Democracy Roadshow in Labour; his activity since) appears at odds with the practice of the SLP, his project really is in tune with what the SLP should have and could have been, and obviously such a figure from today’s Labour left seeking to join and revive it is something that the SLP leadership ought to regard as a big compliment.
The Miners’ Unions and Class Struggle in Britain
The Mineworkers Union, from which the SLP emerged, had been the strongest union in Britain through most of British capitalism’s history, in various stages of their evolution, and reactionary bourgeois governments throughout British history have sought to defeat the working class by defeating the miners. This happened in 1926, when a General Strike to defend the miners against savage pay cuts was betrayed by the leaders of the TUC after 10 days, just as it was becoming insurrectionary.
In the early 1970s, as the post- WWII economic boom came to an end and the era of neoliberal attacks on the working class was just beginning, the response of the British working class was to fight back through its then-very strong trade union movement. The miners’ union played a central role in this fightback, as symbolised by the victory of a determined mass picket of a huge coke depot in Saltley, Birmingham, where the then Yorkshire NUM President, Arthur Scargill, led his men in facing down the cops and closing the gates of the depot, when they were joined by enormous numbers of workers particularly from motor and engineering factories in Birmingham (most of which were also later destroyed by Thatcher). Saltley Gates became a symbol of working-class courage, militancy and solidarity. Thanks to such militant methods, the 1972 strike against inflation and erosion of miners pay ended in substantial victory.
This whole affair was part of a huge, wider wave of working-class militancy that at its peak led to the TUC being forced to call a general strike to free five dock workers who the Tory government and Judges tried to jail for defying them. The government belatedly discovered an obscure official, the ‘Official Solicitor’ who had the power to release them. And he did!
Another miners strike, in early 1974, against the erosion of miners (and railworkers) pay forced the anti-union Heath Tory government out of office. Two general elections took place in 1974, resulting in first a minority Labour government in February, and then one with a small parliamentary majority in October 1974. This unprecedented period of working class victory was followed by the interregnum of the Wilson-Callaghan Labour governments of 1974-79, where the working class upsurge was first headed off with a series of reforms, including the repeal of Heath’s Industrial Relations Act, and then regimented into the straightjacket of the ‘social contract’ – wages held down by ‘agreement’ with the trade union bureaucracy while another bout of inflation, triggered off by the Vietnam and Middle East wars – coursed through the system. Neoliberalism made its first tentative beginning in this period with chancellor Denis Healey’s wave of cuts to public services to procure a loan from the IMF. These attacks gradually built up an enormous sense of rage in the working class, as well as leading to the growth of the far-right racist National Front party. Finally, this exploded in a leaderless strike wave, the Winter of Discontent, in 1978-9, which sank the weak Callaghan Labour government and laid the basis for the election of an even more vicious Tory government under Margaret Thatcher, who really did impose neoliberalism in Britain.
The Tories prepared their revenge for 1974 very carefully: they picked off less powerful sections of the working class in piecemeal fashion throughout Thatcher’s first term, and only after she was re-elected in a wave of imperial chauvinism over the 1982 Malvinas war, did they dare take on the miners. With a massive pit closures programme, imposed at the end of winter in early March after they had stockpiled huge amounts of often imported coal. A militarised police force was used for strikebreaking on a massive scale. And Kinnock, the new leader of Labour after the 1983 election defeat, fought long and hard to isolate the miners and ensure that resistance to Thatcher would not become generalised. When other sections of workers, such as dockers in two strikes in the Summer of 1984, came out effectively in support of the miners, Kinnock worked overtime to ensure they were sent back to work, and to thwart the possibility of a general strike. And he never held back from criticising the so-called ‘violence’ of the striking miners, in conflicts with the police and scab miners, who were a significant, treacherous minority of the workforce, and whose scab neoliberal ‘trade union’, the “Union of Democratic Mineworkers”, played a major role in ultimately defeating the strike.
Political repercussions of the 1984-5 Miners’ Great Strike
The biggest political problem facing the miners and their supporters was the Labour Party and their ‘broad church’ concept, which tied the left to the strikebreaking right wing and rendered them politically impotent to combat Kinnock, the strikebreakers in the TUC, and the UDM, who all backed up the government and the state. To lead a generalised fightback against the neoliberal assault, given the fact that a major chunk of the labour bureaucracy and its growing yuppie-corporate layer supported that programme, it was necessary to have a political alternative that separated from the neoliberals. But the left wing of the Labour Party, the Benns, Skinners, Heffers and Corbyns, were and are bound to the concept of the ‘broad church’ and regarded the idea of splitting Labour with horror. That is still a huge problem today.
The Socialist Labour Party was founded only when Tony Blair abolished the Labour Party’s formal commitment to something resembling socialism, its old Clause 4. Its verbal commitment to a society based on “common ownership” was replaced by a largely anodyne set of platitudes whose real essence was in its praise for “the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition”. However, the formal abolition, though significant, was less so than the connivance of the Labour Party leadership under Kinnock in strategic defeats of the working class, which made such a change of ideology and class outlook possible in the first place. The change was the work of a neoliberal trojan horse within Labour, a new development beyond the traditional politics of the right-wing labour bureaucracy.
The old Labour right wing had been simply an organic product of the trade union bureaucracy’s relationship with large scale industrial employers — the ‘captains of industry’ of British imperialism — in the period when a mass industrial working class was granted concessions of higher living standards from the crumbs of Imperialist plunder more than ever in the days of the British Empire. They therefore had to maintain some relationship with their working-class base, and to be seen to champion them to some extent. The newer, neoliberal right wing does not have such an attachment – they are propelled more by corporate donations in a period when the industrial working class has been massively slimmed down in imperialist countries like Britain by the outsourcing of industrial jobs to lower wage economies in the Global South, and especially East Asia.
Their collaboration is not so much with industrial magnates but rather with financiers and those running service industries, and the volume of donations from financial sharks and services has massively enhanced the power of the Blairites, who really care nothing for industrial workers, as epitomised by Peter Mandelson’s remark that the working class can be safely ignored as it has ‘nowhere to go’ except Labour.
This proved to be untrue, as many such abandoned workers, angry at loss of status as industrial workers who had subliminally understood that they had benefited in part from Britain’s imperial role in the world, went with the imperial nostalgia project of Brexit, UKIP and Boris Johnson, whose real content was “Make Britain Great Again”. An analogue of the slogan of Donald Trump, which much more clearly expressed the mentality of those workers – in Britain, the US, and parts of Western Europe – who bitterly resent their loss of status at the hands of financial capital and the outsourcing of their jobs, and directed that rage in an anti-immigrant, anti-foreigner direction. But ultimately, this consciousness is a desperate and doomed cry of despair. Support for the right-wing populists, who are just as neoliberal and out to enrich the billionaire class as their liberal opponents, is just another way for workers to cut their own throats. Brexit has proven to be a disaster for the workers attracted to it, who have predictably only been shat upon.
We Need a Genuine Working Class Party
Ultimately these are signs that the Labour Party has outlived its function as a party of imperial class compromise, as the working class is losing its imperial privilege, and screaming with pain at the loss. This process is irreversible – Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again.
So, we are entering a new period of catastrophic change and turmoil in which the need for a new mass party of the working class, capable of programmatic development beyond reformism, to take on the challenges of a working class that has been robbed of its flawed, social-patriotic form of class organisation and consciousness by the decline of imperialism itself, is a burning necessity. The job of Marxists is to point the way forward to the crystallisation of such a party, and Chris Williamson’s initiative with the SLP seems to have the potential to be a major, progressive step in the right direction. This is something that all serious socialists and Marxists must engage with.
‘Most political memoirs are written by people who are beguiled by Westminster, but I was never so enamoured.’ .
by Mark Andresen
This line from the preface of this political memoir highlights the author’s perspective as a skeptical working-class MP, already usefully embedded by its opening in 2010.
Over the last three months, a much needed two-pronged fightback against the Labour Right’s fake, racist ‘anti-semitism’ smear campaign has been launched; most recently, in September, ‘The Labour Files ‘ – Al-Jazeera’s very welcome 4-part documentary mini-series expose of the Right’s nefarious campaign against its innocent Jewish and non-Jewish members – premiered. A few weeks prior to this had already seen publication of Chris Williamson’s memoir of the growing, intentionally fractious, insurgency conducted by Labour’s Right between 2010 to 2020. (And still ongoing). That both testimonies were roundly ignored by the complicit mainstream media should have come as no surprise. That the smear campaign was roundly destroyed – thanks, especially, to Al-Jazeera’s access to primary evidence – was as inevitable. What matters is that each are now matters of public record, difficult to casually dismiss.
Unwittingly, former Labour MP for Derby North, Chris Williamson has – over the last few years – been perceived as the figurehead victim of the ‘anti-semitism’ smear campaign from Labour’s Right; second only to Corbyn himself. Then again, such a default role has proven vital in the initial pushback against both the Right in the party and neo-liberals in the media generally. Bizarrely, there remain some among the disenfranchised and suspended who still voice doubts about Williamson on social media, as if he somehow deserved even a modicum of the Right’s fake ire; then, this says rather more about their own true allegiances than his. Requests for evidence to justify that ire are rarely, if ever, forthcoming.
Throughout his memoir, Williamson correctly highlights ‘optics’ as the scourge of political principle; how hard policy choices were avoided simply because of how they could be framed by the media, ensuring those cowed and in a position of influence prioritised a gatekeeping career over public service. (Surely, the reason the MPs’ were voted in, in the first place). Meat and drink to hungry neo-liberals. Recall the ghastly sight of Angela Eagle MP, in 2015, wearing too much make-up and pining for the whereabouts of Robert Peston before the cameras like some breathless fan of the latest boy-band; a small, but key, reflection of the Right’s new priorities. Even outside ‘the Westminster bubble,’ professed Socialists who apparently owed nothing to either the NEC, nor the Israeli Government, fell in with the narrative of the Right’s fake anti-semitism smear campaign like good boys and girls. Did they assume – without question – that the Jewish Labour Movement represented all Jews? And who defined this to be the case? Questions which, to this day, remain unanswered.
Williamson recalls when his suspicions were first raised.
‘I can recollect being on a conference call (with Chuka Umunna) in 2013 to discuss tactics with the other MPs’. I urged Umunna to give an unambiguous commitment to renationalising Royal Mail when Labour gets into office. His retort was illuminating; “We can’t do that; the city wouldn’t wear it.”.
‘At the fireside chat with Ed Balls, where I brought up where I brought up the question of public ownership of the railways again, his rejoinder was to ask what the limits of my nationalisation ambitions were. “Would you nationalise BT?” he asked sarcastically. “Yes,” was my reply . . . Balls wasn’t interested. He had no appetite to anything vaguely Socialist, even though the 2008 financial crisis had demonstrated the case for bringing the commanding heights of the economy into democratic public ownership.’.
Williamson reflects upon his own naivete at the time; at the concerted bad faith campaign such early glimpses foretold. The swiftly growing number of those turncoating with whom he’d formerly had good relations, however, exposed the awful truth. Following this, the failed appeasement of the Milliband campaign, to appeal to middle-class voters, ahead of the 2015 General Election, emboldened the Left into voting in Jeremy Corbyn as leader. This, in turn, emboldened the insurmountable egos of the Right’s established careerists, knowing they had most of the media and Israeli Government on side. Enter the concerted anti-semitism smear campaign as the intended coup de grace.
The appendix over the last forty pages features the Q & As’ Williamson was subject to from Labour’s NEC, upon his suspension on the 27th February 2019. Reading not unlike a McCarthyite commission or scene from Kafka’s ‘The Trial,’ it proves a drain upon one’s anger, considering the wealth of fake accusation described up to this point.
This memoir is no egocentric tract of self-justification, but merely a much needed work of correction; illuminating inconvenient truths purposely hidden, misinterpreted or misframed by those of bad faith. Just recently, in mid-October, after the book’s release, news broke that the BBC itself was being targeted by The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Leadership Council, Community Security Trust, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and a group of MPs’ and celebrities for alleged ‘anti-semitism.’ Poetic justice for their silence? There’s certainly a clear and present irony. It would be good if Director-General Tim Davie and the corporation’s Board of Governors might self-reflect on the point of their obedient neoliberal code of omission up to this point; but I doubt it will happen.
In the final analysis, does any of this matter to those of us who have either left, or never been in, the Labour Party? I would argue that it does; as an object lesson in the real danger and consequent effectiveness of corporate-sponsored insurgency. If this can be successfully achieved in a neoliberal party no longer giving even lip-service to ‘leftism,’ then what will they try with more activist Socialists and Revolutionary Communists, in obedient media-silent plain sight? To take nothing away whatsoever from this affair, for ourselves, would be a huge mistake.