French Election: Popular Frontists Outmanoeuvred Le Pen for Now. But the Danger Remains!

Lefitst social democrat Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Centrist bourgeois Emmanuel Macron, Far-Rightist Marine Le Pen

Joint Statement of LCFI and

President Emmanuel Macron’s gamble in calling new elections to the French National Assembly as an attempted means to counter the victory of the far right Rassemblement National – (RN) or National Rally, formerly the Front Nationale (National Front) of Marine Le Pen in the June European Election, has opened a new political situation. It was an act of desperation by Macron whose ‘centrist’ base of support has ebbed away due to his own vicious attacks on the working class over the last period, outrageously raising the pension age from 60 to 64 and ramming it through using emergency clauses in the constitution without a parliamentary vote. His warmongering in Ukraine, even earlier proposing to openly send French troops into battle against Russia, was almost designed to provoke war with Russia. Then there are his vain attempts to supress protests against the genocide in Gaza and his pandering to Zionist and French nativist Islamophobia and anti-migrant agitation. These things have completely discredited his regime and fuelled the growth of the far right in the seeming absence of a potent left movement.

So, after the shock of the Euro-Election, he dissolved the National Assembly. The first-round victory of Le Pen’s Party meant that the gamble appeared to have failed big time. But the New Popular Front (NPF), launched by the La France Insoumise (France Unbowed – LFI) party led by the left-wing social-democratic politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which included the Socialist Party, Communist Party and Greens, was galvanised by the rise of Le Pen’s party. It launched a campaign of tactical voting to keep Le Pen’s Party from getting a parliamentary majority. Supporters of the NPF and Macron’s Party systematically withdrew their candidates in constituencies where they came third in the first round with their bloc partner having gained second place. This class-collaborationist tactic by the half-formed NPF, itself a class collaborationist alliance, achieved a short-term tactical victory, which in some ways appeared superficially to vindicate Macron’s calling of a snap election. In terms of seats, the NPF came first, Macron’s Renaissance Party came second, with the far right in third place. In terms of seats, that is, though with nowhere near a parliamentary majority for any of them.

But in terms of votes, the RN came first more decisively in the second round than in the first. It increased its vote from 33.21% in the first round to 37.06% in the second round. Quite a considerable increase.  Which means that while the Popular Frontism of the left and Macron may by tactical voting have thwarted the RN in parliamentary terms, they strengthened Le Pen in terms of popular support. Which has not solved the problem therefore, it just postponed the decisive conflict until later. Indeed, far from being a great victory for Mélenchon either, the NPF’s vote fell from 28.21% in the first round to 25.80% in the second round. Whereas Macron’s Party gained marginally, going from 21.28% in the first round to 24.53% in the second round. 

In parliamentary terms, the result for now is deadlock. No bloc has anything like a majority. Macron, as president, is likely to be desperately trying to fit together a coalition for months. He may well not succeed, as despite the parliamentary arithmetic, actual popular votes and the social forces behind them put enormous pressure on members of the National Assembly. And if they don’t succeed, there could even be another election at some point. Le Pen could still benefit from this.

One of the main reasons for Marine Le Pen’s rise is her opposition to France’s support for NATO’s lost war against Russia in Ukraine. The French proletariat simply opposes being dragged like cannon fodder by imperialism into war. A minority of the ruling class sees the far right as a battering ram to push a more nationalist agenda at odds with the mainstream pro-EU ‘globalist’ trend that is deeply involved in the US-led proxy war in Ukraine. That wing is using verbal opposition to French involvement in Ukraine as a means to garner support from part of the working class, particularly in more provincial towns that are more conservative and less ethnically diverse than the biggest cities. As well as mobilising racist anti-migrant sentiment, which Macron had already adapted to to try to ‘disarm’ his far-right opponents by stealing their clothes.

Macron introduced new legislation limiting access to citizenship, rights to social benefits, and family reunification for migrants, as well as deportation for ‘immigrants’ if they commit crimes…. even if being convicted as an adult, they’ve been living in the country from childhood. The issue of work visas for irregular migrants has been curtailed. Overseas study visas are also restricted. It all sounds very much like the kind of laws introduced in Britain by the Tories and Brexiteers over the past decade, except that Macron is as pro-EU as any politician can be. It shows how the nationalist wing of the bourgeoisie, using the fascists as a battering ram, can induce its critics to pander to its racist-nationalist agenda. Migrants are attacked, Muslims are vilified, with the niqab banned in public spaces. In France, 50% of the prison population is Muslim, which is disproportionate as the Muslim population in France is approximately 10%..

The NPF’s circumstantial victory only postpones Le Pen’s victory because the NPF’s positions on the war in Ukraine are very close to Macron’s unpopular positions of increasing French support for Ukraine, sending more French weapons and military instructors to the war. By associating itself with imperialism in the Ukrainian War, the NPF plays the same geopolitical game as Macron, the game of pushing the proletariat politically into the arms of the “fascist-pacifist” extreme right. This is the NPF’s biggest crime at the moment. This crime, if not renounced and the opposite policy adopted and fought for by the workers parties involved, will pave the way for Le Pen’s rise to the French government. A disaster particularly for the sections of the working class with an immigrant origin.

This is at most a tactical defeat for Le Pen, but not a strategic one. The short-term tactic may even strengthen Le Pen strategically. She will be very dangerous in the 2027 Presidential Election, which may well be between her and Mélenchon, as Macron no longer inspires popular support. Mélenchon’s LFI party proposes some reasonable reforms, to restore pensions, raise wages and benefits, radically reverse austerity. It is also in theory hostile to NATO. On international questions Mélenchon is a mixed bag. On Ukraine, Mélenchon party condemned the Special Military Operation (SMO) that began in February 2022 as a so-called ‘invasion’ of Ukraine, echoing imperialist propaganda. Though he opposes the warmongering on a pacifist basis, in effect:

“’We stand for Ukraine’s restoring its territorial integrity. But it should be done politically, but not by means of military force,’ he said, adding that the idea of delivering strikes inside Russia is ‘absurd.’

There is no mention of the rights of the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking people of the Donbass in this. They voted against Ukraine’s ‘territorial integrity’ against a far-right regime in Kiev that began to supress their language rights in 2014. In this concept, territorial integrity overrides the democratic rights of the people who live in a state – hardly a socialist position. Though he did have a more sympathetic response to the separation of Crimea to join Russia in 2014, and he has called the Kiev regime ‘neo-Nazis’.

But at least on Syria he was quite supportive of the Russian intervention and hostile to Turkey’s intervention of the side of pro-imperialist mercenary jihadists. This may reflect an older pro-Russian position that is part of French bourgeois politics. He is rather like Jeremy Corbyn over Zionism and promises to recognize Palestine if LFI gains power. However, he is hostile to Iran – on the supposed grounds that Iran is seeking to destroy Israel in some bad way. A soft pro-Zionist position, it seems.

The Communist Party in France echo Macron’s denunciation of Russia, saying the intervention was a “criminal decision…” involving  “…aggression against the sovereignty of the people of Ukraine.” Though they make the usual calls for peace, negotiations, etc, they blame Russia for NATO’s aggressive expansion in the East. The Socialist Party is for the war drive. Its leader Faure was quoted as saying: “If we let Russia win, the risk we all run is to find ourselves in a situation where Russia will not stop.”

A joint statement of the Socialist Party and Greens is quoted by the Spectator as saying:

“‘Our line is clear: we support Ukraine, we support the delivery of arms, we support Ukraine’s membership of the European Union.”

The ‘centre-left’ Place Publique, which is also part if the NPF, campaigns for ‘aid’ to Ukraine. The predominant policy in the NPF bloc is support for the same warmongering as Macron. And by his bloc with them, Mélenchon associates his party with this. While it has to be acknowledged that many in this bloc are driven by justified anti-fascist sentiment against the RN, at the same time the warmongering policy of most in the NPF over Ukraine is fuelling the growth in popular support of the same RN.

If is highly doubtful that Mélenchon will be able to keep together his NPF for the 2027 presidential election, and that he would be able to generate the popular support to seriously thwart Le Pen even if he did. That will also be a two-round election, and it’s not clear who would be able to combat Le Pen. What is clear is that class collaboration, though it practically blocked the RN from gaining a majority and the premiership now, also caused a decline in support for itself vis-à-vis Macron in the second round. Popular fronts historically were an obstacle to revolution including in French history, and elsewhere like Chile, and the precondition for Macron leading a real struggle against Le Pen for the popular vote is a break with class collaboration, with the petit bourgeois Greens, let alone Macron’s bourgeois neoliberal party who he effectively endorsed on the second round by using tactical voting in this manner.

The precondition for serious struggle against Le Pen’s party is a break with popular frontism. In the second round of a presidential election, there is no way to evade the popular vote. But a break with popular frontism in France means a break with reformism, as within a reformist framework, the French electoral system makes popular frontism a practical temptation whenever the question of power arises. It may be that there is some kind of surge toward LFI before 2027, but if it does not break decisively with Macron’s warmongering and this strongly pro-war popular front, Mélenchon would be at best a candidate for the role of Salvador Allende.

Popular fronts, whether with the Greens or Macron’s Renaissance, are a trap for the working class. We demand that Mélenchon, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, break with Greens, refuse any political bloc with non-working-class forces, and fight too and nail against the war in Ukraine.  The key indicator of the deceptive nature of this popular front is its support for Biden/Macron’s proxy war in Ukraine. In breaking with popular frontism, and this filthy war, they would actually undermine some of the support for the RN.

We need a party that opposes the threat of imperialist war against Russia and China, that defends migrant workers tooth and nail against the far right and Macron alike, and which fights against all the neoliberal attacks on the working class. For workers defence guards to defend victims of fascist terrorism! Down with Macron’s war in Ukraine – defend Russia, the Donbass and Crimea against Macron and his Nazi friends! Down with Le Pen, break with the bourgeoisie, no Popular Fronts – for a government of all the workers parties, LFI, SP, CP, on an anti-capitalist programme!   

A Vote for Starmer’s Labour is a vote for Zionist Genocide and Nazism in Ukraine!

Vote for independent socialists/Workers Party/Transform/TUSC/RCP!

For a Unified Democratic Anti-Imperialist Working-Class Party – No Zionists Allowed!

Rafah: Zionist massacre of refugees in tents with deadly airstrikes, May 26. This resulted in Palestinian newborns being decapitated, highlighting the barbarism of the Zionists, who lied about Hamas doing that on 7th Oct, precisely to incite this genocide.

In this general election, there is no major party deserving of the support, even critically, of class-conscious workers, socialists, anti-racists and fighters against oppression. The Tories and Liberal Democrats are the open parties of the ruling class, and it is elementary that no class-conscious element could even consider supporting them for a moment. In the last decade and a half working class people have had all out war conducted against them and their living standards by these parties – first in coalition, and then since 2015 the Tories alone. But today’s Labour Party, led by Kier Starmer, was forged through a massive, reactionary hammering of the left that led the Labour Party from 2015-20 under Jeremy Corbyn, that Labour Party itself is standing in this election as the continuity of the Tories, and garnering support from dissident Tories even as it continues to crush the Labour left.Not only that, but on the overarching, litmus test issue of elementary political decency and even basic humanity, it has been clear for several years that the Starmer leadership supports genocidal Israel, root and branch, and is dominated by genocidal Zionists. The bloody massacre in Rafah, the culmination of more than seven months of genocidal slaughter in Gaza, only underlines what Starmer stands for. The entire scam ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign that was waged by the neoliberal right wing against the left during the Corbyn period, was driven by the palpable realisation by those forces that a genocide of the Palestinian people was in the offing, and politics had to purged as much as possible of any reservoirs of support and sympathy for Palestinian rights. The Corbyn movement was seen as a huge threat and reservoir of such sympathy, dangerous to the Zionist project. It was always genocidal in its ultimate logic.

The Starmer leadership is a reversion, and then more, to the politics of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and the 1997-2010 neoliberal New Labour governments, which followed in the footsteps of Thatcher/Major’s earlier Tory governments and engaged in massive privatisation and repression of trade unions, supposedly to revive British capitalism’s economic fortunes after the major crisis of the 1970s. That government, like the Tories, demanded austerity to make the working class pay for the world financial crisis of the late noughties, a crisis of speculation, massive financial corruption and forms of profit that amounted to extortion and theft. Austerity was a device to make the working class pay for the bailout of the banks that prevented the collapse of the system that this crisis threatened.

New Labour and Austerity vs Corbynism

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn

In the past decade and a half, we have seen major austerity attacks on workers’ living standards, on the NHS and other public services that constitute a key part of the ‘social wage’ of the working class. Social security benefits have been massively reduced and restricted, and disabled workers demonised by the profiteering billionaire media. The NHS has been plundered and massively slimmed down. This process began under the Tory-Liberal coalition of the early 2010s and has further considerably increased under the increasingly squalid and openly corrupt Tory-populist regimes in Britain since 2019. Under their tutelage, the NHS is now in a deliberately-engineered major crisis, and is visibly failing most of those who need it in some way.  This is the logic of neoliberalism, and the Labour right will not tolerate any serious opposition to it – they agree with the Tories on the fundamentals and are viscerally hostile to the aims of the labour movement.

Though the Tories actually implemented austerity since 2010, as the New Labour government had run out of steam through its own attacks on the working class at home and its imperialist wars abroad, notably in Iraq, the Labour Party throughout this period, except under Corbyn, accepted austerity and the Tory cuts, merely whinging under Ed Miliband’s soft left leadership that the Tories were going “too far, too fast” with such attacks. The neoliberal right-wing fought back by all means at their disposal against the break with austerity, imperialist wars abroad, and support for Zionism, that Corbyn’s leadership represented, from the moment it became clear in mid-2015 that Corbyn had the mass support to win the Labour leadership.

 That was what drove the demolition job on Corbyn’s leadership though the ‘anti-Semitism’ scam. The entire neoliberal right in Labour was horrified by the near victory of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 General Election, when Theresa May’s majority was destroyed. It appears that only the sabotage of the Labour right – in particularly the funnelling of campaign funds away from key marginals to safe Labour seats inhabited by Labour Zionists – deprived Labour of being the largest party in that election. But the televised, visible shock on the faces of neoliberal Labour ‘friends of Israel’ like Jess Phillips and Stephen Kinnock when May was predicted, by “Exit Polls”, to lose her majority, was a widely remarked upon public spectacle.

In the two years between the 2017 and 2019 elections, Starmer’s cynical manipulation of the issue of a second Brexit referendum aimed at securing a victory for the corrupt Trumpian thug Boris Johnson in 2019, which it duly did. This was another key element of their counter-attack, in addition to the ‘anti-Semitism’ scam, which did not work particularly well in 2017, and needed reinforcement. Starmer never cared particularly about Brexit either way, as revealed by his flag-shagging and pandering to Brexit voting xenophobes ever since. But he revealed his key motivation clearly when standing for Labour leader in 2020 after the destruction of Corbyn’s leadership, when he said that he supported Zionism ‘without qualification’.

Corbyn showed chronic weakness in confronting the ‘anti-Semitism’ scam/witchhunt, repeatedly throwing his most outspoken supporters to the Zionist wolves, and also suicidally allowed Starmer control of Brexit policy after 2017. The actions of Starmer as the standard-bearer of the neoliberal/Zionist thugs ever since, show the character of Starmer’s regime very clearly. He has massively purged the Labour Party of anyone showing any sympathy for Palestine. And within the workers movement, basic decency for Palestine generally coincides with basic socialist views on many other things, like opposition to privatisation, attacks on the NHS, anti-union repression, racism more generally.

Starmer and Israel’s Genocide

Whereas support for Zionism reflects socially and politically reactionary views more generally – Israel is now the cause celebre of the bulk of the far right, with very few dissenters. What Starmer has been doing, systematically for the entire period of his leadership, is using phoney allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ to purge socialist-inclined people generally from Labour. His whole strategy in this election is not to appeal to the working class on any kind of class basis whatsoever, but to prove that Labour has ‘changed’ from the days of Corbyn’s leadership when it did push basic working class demands, that it is in no way habitable for socialists, but very habitable for Tories alienated by the open corruption of Sunak, Truss, Johnson et all, but still hostile to the working class movement.

Starmer welcomes into Labour’s ranks right-wing Tory defectors – overtly xenophobic, racist types like Natalie Elphicke, while at the same time Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbot were deprived of the Labour whip for years based on phoney accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’. Where he is coming from on this is shown by his attitude when the genocidal Zionist assault on Gaza began after the October 7th Hamas-led Gaza prison break and raid on the IDF nearby. On October 8th the racist monster Israeli ‘defence’ minister Yoav Gallant, now facing indictment from the International Criminal Court for, among other things, ‘extermination’ of the Palestinian people, made his Hitlerian speech saying that the inhabitants of Gaza are “human animals” who should be allowed “no electricity, no food, no water, no gas”. For the Zionists, Palestinian civilians of all ages should be starved to death and die of dehydration, even babies in incubators should be left to die, as well as being bombed to death. All these things have happened many times over. Yet when Starmer the genocidaire (a.k.a. “Der Stűrmer”) was interviewed shortly after Gallant’s speech by Nick Ferrari on LBC, he defended Israel’s “right” to carry out these genocidal measures against the Palestinian people.

This openly genocidal affirmation by Starmer detonated a major explosion in Labour’s base and ranks and led to a major exodus of outraged members, particularly from Muslim-derived working-class communities, and numerous defections of councillors from Labour all over the country. There is already a substantial layer of independent socialist councillors around the country, many of whom successfully defended their seats in the council elections on May 4th. Starmer has the party’s internal life sewn up, dissent is ruthlessly punished, and internal party elections are shamelessly rigged by the central apparatus overseen by the ultra-corrupt and anti-democratic General Secretary David Evans, who long held that there was too much democracy in Labour, which is why Starmer appointed him in the first place. So, there is no reason for Labour dissenters not to go public, attack the corrupt Zionist vermin, and seek to punish them electorally.

This was further exacerbated by a major parliamentary scandal in February when the Scottish National Party put a parliamentary motion demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the ‘collective punishment’ of the Palestinian people. A permanent ceasefire in Gaza would signify an Israeli defeat, which is why the Starmer leadership is utterly opposed to it, no matter what ‘adjustments’ it makes to its rhetoric for cosmetic purposes. So Starmer colluded with the speaker of the House of Commons, Hoyle, who like Starmer is a “Labour Friend of Israel” to allow, contrary to elementary parliamentary procedure, a Labour amendment to gut the SNP motion of its most important demands.

This is contrary to democracy and parliamentary procedure; only the government is traditionally allowed to try to amend opposition parties’ motions like this. The purpose being to ensure that larger opposition parties cannot squash smaller ones, and that the motions of all opposition parties are allowed to be voted for and against in contention with the views of the government.  It was a major scandal and an abuse of democracy comparable to Boris Johnson’s unlawful proroguing of parliament in August 2019, and showed that Starmer the Zionist was quite prepared to abuse basic democratic norms not only within the Labour Party, but also in wider politics, in a manner usually associated with the far right. It is another reason why it is not in the interest of the working-class movement to allow the genocidaire Starmer to become Prime Minister. We should not be in the business of electing ‘Labour’ leaders who are so zealous about attacking our own democratic rights that even some Tories complain that they have gone too far!

Starmer the Red, or Pink Tory

All of these are clear indications that it is not in the interests of the working class to elect Starmer’s Labour Party. Labour has backpeddled on virtually every residual policy that temporarily survived from the Corbyn period, or which the Starmerites introduced as temporary sops to trade unions, environmental protesters, etc. Starmer stood for Labour leader in 2020 on a programme that superficially appeared to be ‘Corbynism without Corbyn’ but it was clear to many on the left that he was simply lying to get power. Once he gained it these promises were renounced one-by-one and critics were at risk of being purged, as many were. Even the far right Tory Suella Braverman has been able to criticise Labour from the left, after belatedly coming out against the government’s barbaric two-child cap on Child Benefit, which Starmer is now in favour of keeping. Starmer’s Labour has recently had conflicts about its junking of promises to spend £28 billion per year on green investments, and now about its supposed ‘New Deal for Workers’ – all of these things derived from the Corbyn period and are being junked and/or watered down.

Sharon Graham, the General Secretary of UNITE, who is a fake ‘left’ talking character as cynical as Starmer, has been complaining about this backtracking, on questions like abolition of zero-hours contracts, and then has been claiming to have secured some concessions. But the cynical instrumentalisation of such promises and eagerness to junk them to please right-wing voters is what Starmer is all about. Starmer has even attacked successful Labour figures marginally to his left over such things, criticising the Major of London, Sadiq Khan, for not retreating on the ULEZ clean air measures because right-wing London Tories objected. Khan, who is a feeble soft left and usually servile to the right wing and Zionists, in this case ignored Starmer and won a substantially increased majority in the May 4th Mayoral Election in London.

It looks likely that Labour will win the general election, not because of any appeal it is putting forward to workers as a class – it is shunning that as detailed above – but simply because of the advanced state of decay and near-collapse of the Tories. It is not in the interests of the labour movement to have this anti-democratic, second-string Tory leadership gain a substantial overall majority in the General Election. Ideally, what we want is a hung parliament with no overall Zionist-Labour or Tory majority and a significant number of left-wing independents and left-wing socialists to get elected and lay the basis for the emergence of a new, genuine working-class party.

As detailed, there are numerous independents around the country standing against Labour, as well as several left-of-labour political organisations standing. The most prominent is Jeremy Corbyn himself, the former Labour leader, who has been Labour MP for Islington North since 1983. His exclusion from Labour, when he was the leader of a massive popular movement against austerity, racism and imperialist war, symbolises why Marxists should not be supporting the Starmerites in the election. There are hundreds of thousands of people loyal to Corbyn’s leadership who have been impatiently waiting for Corbyn to take the final step and defy Starmer in the election. Diane Abbot, the first black woman MP to be elected, who has represented Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, is in a similar position, deprived of the Labour whip on the basis of phoney allegations of anti-Semitism, made by genocidaires. She is very unlikely to get the whip back, and hopefully will feel compelled to follow Corbyn on this, though this is not completely clear.

Huge numbers of former Corbyn supporters, likely hundreds of thousands, are so angered by the cynicism of these exclusions that they would not countenance a vote for the ‘Red Tory’ Starmer. That is the stance, and it is thoroughly justified, of the most advanced and class-conscious layer of the British working- class movement. The layer that is dedicated to Labour irrespective of whether it stands for full-blooded leftist social democracy or warmed-over Toryism is not the advanced layer of the working class, not its vanguard, but its rearguard. Those who vote Labour knowing that its prospective Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, is not only an arch-Zionist but also an evangel of private healthcare companies, can hardly be said to be sterling defenders of the NHS, for instance. The job of Marxists is to keep step with the most advanced layers of the working class, not to tail after the consciousness of the most backward types, who Starmer is actively seeking to win with his flag-shagging and pandering to Tories.

One important flaw that exists among some ex-Corbynites is a softness on the Green Party as a potential repository of socialist possibilities, or at least a potential protest vote. But the Greens are not a working-class party and are not to be trusted. In Germany, where their Green Party is part of a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) they are deeply implicated in support for both Israel and Nazi Ukraine. In this country, the sole Green MP up to now, Caroline Lucas, has actually been involved with New Labour and Zionists from other parties in witchhunting critics of Zionism in academia. Lucas signed a cross-party letter calling on Bristol University to discipline David Miller for criticising Jewish student organisation for supressing free speech on Palestine. He was duly sacked, and Miller took the University to an industrial tribunal earlier this year and won his case. It set an important legal precedent, as the judgement stated that Miller’s anti-Zionist views were a protected philosophical belief. No thanks to the Greens and Caroline Lucas! They cannot be trusted, their environmentalism is bourgeois and depends on ‘Green’ capitalism, not socialist planning, which is the only thing that can potentially solve the problem of human-induced climate change. We need a working-class alternative, not an alternative petty bourgeois party that joins in with capitalist reaction at the first opportunity.

Challenges to Zionist New Labour: Critical support.

Leanne Mohammad

It is therefore good that Wes Streeting is being challenged in Ilford North, both for his Zionism – more than almost anyone else in Labour, he can be considered virtually an Israeli agent – and for his private healthcare evangelising. His challenger is Leanne Mohammad, a British-Palestinian Palestine solidarity activist, who has the support of a broader network of former Labour activists in the North/East London environs, such as Redbridge Community Action Group and Newham Independents, who are also intending to stand candidates against Labour in Stratford, and East Ham, against well-known Blairites. Former Labour whistleblower about Zionist lobbying and witchhunts, Halima Khan, is planning to stand in Stratford and Bow, which also sounds supportable.

But possibly the most prominent independent socialist campaign, apart from Corbyn’s, in London is that of Andrew Feinstein in Holborn and St Pancras constituency, where the sitting MP is Keir Starmer himself. Feinstein is a Jewish former member of the South African Parliament for the African National Congress, who resigned decades ago in a conflict with former South African President Thabo Mbeki about shady arms deals. He is an outspoken defender of the Palestinians, a supporter of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the ICJ, a critic of Starmer’s right wing politics and was a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. He was selected by OCISA (Organise Corbyn-Inspired Socialist Alliance), a left-Corbynite campaign group set up a couple of years ago with the aim of standing a socialist candidate against Keir Starmer in the General Election. He has lived in that constituency for over 20 years.  Informally he was the favourite for much of that period, though he was always vague about whether he would actually stand, as he retained Labour membership. But now that the election is upon us, he has publicly resigned from Labour and taken up his position. His candidacy is certainly supportable, but critically, as like so many of the prominent lefts, when questioned about October 7th, he echoes an element of imperialist propaganda, and condemns the ‘atrocities’ committed by Hamas as a preamble to a fierce attack on Israel for genocide.

Andrew Feinstein

It is by no means clear that Hamas did commit atrocities. The stories of ’40 beheaded babies’ and mass rape have been shown to be fabrications by the Zionists to justify their genocidal programme. Out of the 1,143 who Israel say were killed on October 7th, a breakout from the world’s biggest concentration camp, over 371 of them were state and military personnel and thereby legitimate targets of military resistance. It is well known by now that many of the civilian deaths were killed by Israel’s own armed forces, because of the Hannibal Directive, a standard Israeli practice where they kill their own side rather than allow them to be taken prisoner by an enemy. There is also the fact that once Hamas had broken through the Gaza fence, numerous other angry prisoners (all Gaza inhabitants are prisoners and have been since Israel began its siege in 2007) broke through and some vented their undisciplined rage on Israelis indiscriminately. They were not Hamas people. Hamas’ objective was to seize hostages to be traded for the many Palestinians Israel has been arbitrarily holding, torturing and abusing for many years.  As Scott Ritter pointed out, the most that Hamas can be accused of is failing to leave a rear-guard to protect their operation, and the gaps in the fence, from angry, riotous elements not under their discipline. But large-scale killings by Hamas make no sense if the objective was to take prisoners for later exchange. The ‘atrocity’ stories against Hamas make no sense and are just pro-genocide propaganda.

Of course, moralists can condemn the taking of hostages itself as an ‘atrocity’. But in the context of decades of Israeli racist ‘administrative detention’ of many thousands of Palestinians without charges, who are often subjected to torture and murder, hostage exchange is a rational policy from the point of view of the workers movement. We can point out that the 1871 Paris Commune, the first workers government in history, took hostages when its people were seized by reaction and threatened with death. As Wikipedia points out:

“In April, the Commune had arrested some 200 clergy to serve as hostages against reprisals from the Versailles government, and to use in possible prisoner exchanges. In particular, leaders of the Commune hoped to be able to exchange the archbishop of Paris, Georges Darboy, for Louis Auguste Blanqui, but this offer was rebuffed by Adolphe Thiers, president of the Third Republic. Versailles troops entered the city on 21 May, and by 24 May had retaken much of the city. Théophile Ferré signed an order of execution for six of the hostages at la Roquette Prison, specifically including the archbishop; they were executed by firing squad.”

To try to save the lives of fighters against oppression, in circumstances of civil war and conflict, taking hostages is a valid tactic of those fighting against oppression.

Andrew Feinstein is part of a bloc of left candidates called ‘Collective’ which also includes Corbyn. The bloc seems to be an outgrowth of Corbyn’s Peace and Justice project, which is a Corbyn-centred protest movement that overlaps Labour, which eschewed the idea of founding a new party.  One of the two directors of this bloc, Justin Schlosberg, describes himself as a ‘progressive Zionist’. His wife, Chloe Schlosberg, is the director of Peace and Justice. There is a distinct element of déjà vu over this, as Momentum, the ‘grass-roots’ ginger-group that was founded to support Corbyn during his period as leader, was also led by a ‘progressive Zionist’ -so-called, Jon Lansman, who was involved in throwing  many anti-Zionist activists under the bus and out of the party during Corbyn’s leadership. True to form, Justin Schlosberg recently denounced anti-Zionist stalwart David Miller as a “psyop” against the left. The root causes of this phenomenon are in the politics of Corbyn, who at the height of the witchhunt explicitly spelled out his conception that both Zionists and anti-Zionists should be regarded as legitimate trends within Labour. This was pathetic then, as political Zionism in its logic was always a genocidal movement, with ethnic cleansing, the ante-chamber of genocide, build into its very foundation. In today’s circumstances, right in the middle of the Zionist holocaust in Gaza, it is incredibly dangerous and simply grotesque.

This does go a long way to explaining why Corbyn has taken so long to finally declare his independent candidacy and has been so insipid in his opposition to Starmer. He needs to be challenged on this, to break with these apologists for a genocidal movement. Schlosberg’s activities, just as were Lansman’s, are a trap for the left, and need to be expunged. In this regard, Corbyn’s campaign does include elements of working class politics, and should be given critical support against Starmer, with the criticism sharply directed against this political idiocy. Leftist elements like Andrew Feinstein should be on guard against the likes of Schlosberg trying to exploit their campaign and undermine its opposition to Zionism. We need no Zionists or ‘friends of Israel’ in any new left party.

Such an approach should also be applied to other left social-democratic candidates, from TUSC, Transform, the newly formed Revolutionary Communist Party led by Alan Woods (formerly the Labour deep entrist Socialist Appeal), and other working-class candidates who are standing against Labour and opposing their ‘own’ imperialism’s support for genocidal Israel. Similar critical support is principled. 

Craig Murray

There are left-wing candidates across the North of England as well, notably Workers Party MP George Galloway in Rochdale, who is seeking re-election after his recent by-election victory, former UK Ambassador and strong Julian Assange defender Craig Murray in Blackburn (who may well win also), Chris Williamson, the former very left-wing Labour MP and Deputy Leader of the Workers Party, who is standing in Derby South, adjacent to his previous Derby North Seat when he was a Labour MP.  There are also the celebrated Liverpool Community Independents, who are standing Sam Gorst against arch-witchhunter Maria Eagle in the new Liverpool Garston constituency.

They are now standing under the banner of Transform, another new leftist party that is partly the product of ex-Corbynites, notably the very youthful Breakthrough Party, which merged with the remnants of Left Unity as well as the Liverpool Independents last year. That party is very heterogenous and contains some elements who are unfortunately backward and profoundly wrong on Ukraine, supporting the wrong side, implicitly supporting the imperialists’ proxy war in the name of fighting a (non-existent) ‘Russian imperialism’. Support for Ukraine is a far right, imperialist project, whatever some muddleheaded liberal lefts might delude themselves. So, it would be wise to keep a careful eye on who local candidates are regarding Transform and judge each one carefully before deciding whether to vote for them.

George Galloway’s Workers Party is very heterogeneous and though GG has huge authority within it, it cannot be taken to be simply a reflection of his views. Galloway is a contradictory figure whose political views on the Middle East and also Ukraine have put him firmly on the right side of the class line on some major issues. He is a sterling supporter of the Palestinians who has led major initiatives to oppose imperialist crimes, such as the Mariam Appeal for aid to Iraq under genocidal imperialist sanctions, and Viva Palestina aid convoys after Israel’s first major Gaza bombing massacre, Operation Cast Lead in 2009. His detractors on these questions are generally Zionist scumbags.

But, particularly since he was brutally beaten by a Zionist thug for his views in August 2014, and was then betrayed by the bulk of the ‘democratic’ body politic and the social-democratic left, who refused to publicly condemn the attack in deference to the Zionist lobby, he has become partially demoralised and alienated from the left, expressing contradictory softness and sympathy with aspects of right-wing populism, Trumpism, Brexit and the like. Some of those he has associated himself with have been very right-wing indeed. His attempt to launch a Russia-defencist anti-war movement over Ukraine,      No2NATONo2War, was crippled by his major mistake in trying to draw in the slippery crypto-fascist David Clews of Unity News Network as a public spokesman, which completely undercut its potential to make inroads into the labour movement. It was a gift to the social-imperialist supporters of Nazi Ukraine. The Workers Policy has a self-image as being partly nationalist (its cog-wheel roundel emblem in red, white and blue echoes the insignia of the Royal Air Force in WWII).

George Galloway

As well as good positions on many things involving opposing imperialist war, the WP is not necessarily so good on matters concerning immigration. Galloway is personally socially conservative on questions regarding abortion, and though his record on defending gay rights is historically very good, recently he has become more conservative at least in some of his personal musings. And on climate change, some of the WP’s criticisms of Net Zero appear to dovetail with climate change denial. It is a good idea to consider a vote for the Workers Party in this context – they are intending to stand in many constituencies around the country, but such a vote should be extremely critical as it is quite a contradictory and heterogenous organisation. Some right-wing anti-immigrant types have reportedly crept in in some places, so like with Transform, it is wise to examine such candidates carefully to see what their real politics are before blithely putting a cross on a ballot paper.

For a Genuine Workers Party!

All these initiatives are very partial, and some of them are very seriously flawed. But they are where the working class movement is at after several decades of defeats, and what ultimately proved to be a false dawn under Corbyn’s Labour leadership, although a fruitful one that has radicalised a considerable layer of left social democratic militants, who are capable of providing the forces to create a new, genuine workers party in Britain, if a correct tactical approach can be made to them.

What is necessary above all is a perspective that seeks to unite all of these fragmented initiatives in a new, democratically-organised party, where proper political debates are possible, and thereby unity in action, so that political and programmatic development in a revolutionary direction comes onto the agenda. Of course, such a party will have no room for ‘Friends of Israel’ and the like.  Our work in the Socialist Labour Network is aimed at making that relatively small but influential organisation into a vehicle to promote such democratic unification of the anti-neoliberal, anti-Starmer left. We need an organisation that can act as a principled unifying force, and the Consistent Democrats themselves are too small, too weak and too new to become such a body on our own. We hope that the SLN can play an important role as a ‘cog’ in bringing such a party into being. It is unlikely to just happen ‘like that’ during the General Election, but in the aftermath, when we are likely faced with a weak, but very right-wing pink-Tory government, but with a working-class base that is likely to be at odds with it from the start, the opportunities to make progress in that direction should be considerably greater.

Political Zionism And its Genocidal Hegemony in the Imperialist World

By Ian Donovan

The ultimate symbol of Zionist genocide. Premature babies being desperately cared for without incubators in Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza City in November 2023 after the power was cut off by Israel. In vain – they had no chance. On 9th October 2023 Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant, a latter-day Julius Streicher, announced “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly”.

[This article is an updated and improved version of an earlier article from 2015, titled Political Zionism: The Hegemonic Racism of the early 21st Century1, which was published by Socialist Fight. The earlier article contained substantially the same analysis of Zionism but was flawed by an incorrect analysis of the nature of the USSR, derived from the views of a US left-wing trend, the League for the Revolutionary Party2, led by Walter Daum, who I was then still partially sympathetic to.]

Socialists (and anti-racists more generally) have to confront the role of political Zionists as the chief promoters of open racism today. This means open racism, not racism in general. There are many other types of racists active in the advanced capitalist countries, but apart from the political Zionists they largely operate in an obscured, cryptic manner in terms of political discourse. Whereas political Zionism, as we see in Gaza, is openly and brazenly genocidal.

We have to address this because we do not reduce all questions involving oppression to economic relations alone. This would be a vulgarisation of working class politics, which is more complex than that. Class and social antagonisms are refracted through, and often obstructed by, a substantial overlay of questions resulting from other complex types of oppression that cannot be simply reduced to ‘class’. As Lenin put it over a century ago, when dealing with often very different concrete questions, but of the same type:

“the Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects”

The concretes may have changed, but the basic principle is the same. Socialists are consistent democrats, and need to be able to address questions involving such forms of oppression concretely, completely, and in an up-to-date manner in order to help resolve them and bring the explicit class aspects that underlie them to the fore. In today’s circumstances of the Gaza genocide, with politics in the imperialist countries, including British politics massively influenced by Zionism, and with injunctions from leading people influenced by it in all the major parties as to what views are, and are not, considered legitimate in the body politic, getting this right is a matter of the highest importance. Later I will deal with some historical manifestations of this from the period when Jeremy Corbyn held the leading position in the Labour Party, but first it needs a proper elaboration and concrete theorisation.

We must define what we mean by political Zionism. This is a movement whose objective is the maintenance by any and all available means of a Jewish ethnic state in the territory now known as Israel, which was taken by force from its indigenous Arab inhabitants over 70 years ago, and is still maintaining that state by the most monstrous force against the indigenous people of Palestine, including now outright genocide. Though in its core it is Jewish, Zionism is not just confined to Jews.  If it were simply a narrowly Jewish movement it would not be so dangerous and hegemonic. Rather, it has a great moral authority among the ruling classes of the advanced capitalist countries, in a manner analogous to the way that white supremacism, anti-communism, homophobia and even ironically anti-semitism once had a similar authority.

Zionist Genocide in Gaza/Palestine is same as the earlier genocide of Native Americans in United States.

There is a common thread to all these bigoted ideologies, which have taken root as ideological watchwords of the bourgeoisie in discrete historical periods. They are/were all seen by the bourgeoisie as means of ideological terror against the opponents of the capitalist system, and thus as means to preserve a capitalist social system that does not have much appeal to its victims among the working class and exploited people generally.  If the political representatives of capitalism proclaimed openly that the system was dedicated to the enrichment of a tiny minority of the population, it would not last very long. Its strength is in its ability to create ideologies that hide that reality, that instead provide reasons for sections of the subject population to hate other sections to the benefit of capitalism.

Imperialism and ‘racial’ supremacy

Capitalism lives by scapegoating; this technique is the basis of convincing part of the working class and middle class population that they have a common interest, not with each other against capital, but with capital against some population oppressed by it. This has always been the purpose of racism in all its varied forms. It was obviously the purpose of white supremacism, which existed since the dawn of capitalism; to create an ideology whereby instead of opposing slavery and colonial oppression, part of the working class particularly of the oppressor nations considered that they benefitted in social terms from the enslavement of the (usually) non-white working class in the colonial countries.

There was, and still is (in a modified form) a material basis for this in that the enormous profits gained initially from the hybrid capitalist form of chattel slavery were used to fund the industrialisation of the first advanced capitalist countries, notably Britain, France, Holland and later the United States. This laid the basis for these states to wage extensive wars of conquest around the globe, and thus for the later exploitation of colonies and semi-colonies under modern monopoly capitalist imperialism.

As the gap between the emerging advanced capitalist nations, and the countries and peoples their ruling classes plundered and enslaved, grew progressively greater in material terms, some of the wealth thus gained was, and still is, used to buy off a layer of the working class in advanced countries, with social gains that, it was clear, depended on the fortunes of ‘their’ imperialist country in the world order. This was justified by the pernicious idea of racial superiority and inferiority; this was actually always the basis of imperialist ideology in the working class.

The doctrine of white ’racial’ superiority was dominant within imperialist ideology throughout the colonial period, but suffered a seemingly huge, discrediting blow with the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII. Hitler’s regime was the concentrated expression of this doctrine; although by virtue of its defeat in the 1914-18 war Germany’s colonies in Africa had been taken away.  Instead of a colonial empire based on plunder in what is now known as the Global South, Nazi Germany concentrated its main efforts to the East. Its version of ‘racial superiority’ treated Slavs, and in a more concentrated form Jews and Roma as untermenschen (subhumans) who were to be exploited as slaves and ultimately exterminated for the supposed benefit of the Aryan übermenschen.

Contradictions and Paradoxes

The blow to notions of racial superiority that resulted from Hitler’s defeat was not without its contradictions, paradoxes and ambiguities, however. One being that though the ideological roots of National Socialism were firmly rooted in white supremacism, many if not most of its victims in the genocidal terror that was concentrated in Europe, were actually white (though considered not to be ‘Aryan’ according to the Nazi racial ideology).

The claim that the slaughter of Jews was simply unique, made today mainly by Jewish chauvinists or those who follow elements of their ideology, is false. The Nazi genocide of between 5 and 6 million East European Jews, today called the Holocaust or Shoah, took place alongside a similar number of non-Jews murdered, including at least four million Slavs of various nationalities, half a million Gypsies, tens of thousands of homosexuals and numerous identified Communists.

It was not even the first such mass killing of millions under modern imperialism. A comparable slaughter took place, of approximately 10 million Congolese Black Africans, at the hands of the Belgian State, which instituted personal rule of the Congo by its king, Leopold II, just prior to the beginning of the 20th Century. This incredible act of mass killing is infinitely less well-known than the slaughter of Jews in WWII (see the 1998 work King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild for a comprehensive account).

The reasons for this lack of knowledge are severalfold; one is that a great deal of effort was expended by the Belgian ruling class to cover it up. They had plenty of help from more powerful imperialist allies; Belgium was the casus belli for Britain’s involvement in WWI. The violation of the ‘neutrality’ of ‘poor little Belgium’ by Germany as a military manoeuvre against its opponent France was the excuse for Britain’s (already planned) declaration of war in 1914. The portrayal of Belgium as a victim would not be quite so convincing if it were widely known that Belgian imperialism was guilty of an act of slaughter that massively exceeded any then known, and that even Hitler probably did not exceed.

King Leopold II of Belgium: As Brutal As Hitler, Just Far Less Known

The genocidal slaughter of black Africans in the Belgian Congo is also indicative of something else that is grossly hypocritical about the claim of Western imperialism to have overcome racism. This is only the worst of many atrocities committed against non-white peoples by colonial and imperialist powers. Yet it was the not the slaughter of dark-skinned Africans that supposedly discredited the cause of racial supremacy – on the contrary the Belgian crime and many others in Africa and Asia have been marginalised in public consciousness  and are under-recognised to this day. Rather, it was the mass killing of European Jews that is supposedly the seminal event that discredited the notion of racial supremacy.

Yet despite the supposed rejection of racial supremacy that the Jewish Shoah brought about, imperialism still slaughters people in the Global South who challenge imperialist domination, and such slaughters proceed unabated, albeit these days often under the banner of ‘humanitarian’ intervention instead of open racial supremacy. Except that where Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs is concerned, even this fig leaf is missing as the ‘Jewish state’ is overtly supremacist, has openly racist laws, and is now openly genocidal.

Cultification of the Shoah

The way this is rationalised in the West is through the cultification of the Jewish Shoah. So while such events as King Leopold’s Congo murder of millions are not given anything like the historical prominence they deserve, in effect covered up by omission, the Shoah of Jews (though of not Hitler’s other victims) is sacralised as the ultimate crime in human history. Jews are portrayed as the ultimate victims, their suffering the Shoah is implicitly deemed to put them in a different, saintly category to the rest of humanity. For those who subscribe to this hypocritical ideology, which is itself genocidal in its logic, past Jewish suffering means that Jews are completely entitled to establish a Jewish ethnic state in the Middle East by expelling the majority of the indigenous people of Palestine. Furthermore, according to practitioners of this ideology, which include almost all North American and West European bourgeois politicians, as well as political servants of the bourgeoisie on the so-called left, Israel “has the right to defend itself” from the people it dispossessed by force, and whom it drove out of their own country. This purely racist concept manifests itself whenever Israel decides to “mow the lawn” with mass slaughter of Palestinians.  Now it has gone further and many such ideologues support Israel’s right to ‘defend itself’ by openly supporting the genocide of Palestinians particularly in Gaza.

Whenever this happens, in response to completely justified rage and hatred from normal, decent working-class people against the beasts who carry out these enormous crimes, you hear a caterwaul about so called ‘anti-semitism’ which is purely racist in content. After all, it’s only Arabs who are the victims, and they don’t really matter at all, what really matters is the dominance over them of Israeli Jews, who are part and parcel of ‘Judeo-Christian civilisation’, and so valuable to the capitalist system itself that normal considerations of human decency go right out of the window. This is the mainstream racist ideology in the West today, shot through with a hypocritical, gangrenous pseudo-anti-racism. Though it is facing a huge challenge from below because of the exposure of Israel’s genocidal nature.

One important consequence of such events as Leopold’s Congolese carnage remaining little-known is that it helps to propagate the myth that the barbarism of Nazi Germany was some kind of aberration, something extraneous, not rooted in the capitalist mode of production itself. Nazi Germany is deemed alien to the humane and tolerant ethos of profit-making that is supposedly characteristic of capital. They instead tried to associate it with ‘communism’, and the degeneration and decline of the Russian revolution under Stalinism.

The developing bureaucratic regime in the first workers state, trying to stave off counterrevolution and attack from imperialism while having abandoned the strategy of international revolution, made shifting alliances with all the different camps in the inter-imperialist conflicts that took place in the 1930s and 1940s. The USSR tried desperately to forge an alliance with the Western powers against Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1939, was rebuffed, and from 1939-41 had a ‘non-aggression’ pact with Nazi Germany, trying to stave off war, which Hitler broke by invading the USSR in June 1941. Then the Stalinist regime forged an alliance with the US and Britain to defeat Hitler. It took the bulk of casualties in that brutal war, around 27 million USSR citizens were killed resisting the Nazi invaders.

Stalinism undermined the ability of the proletariat to play an independent role in the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary conflicts and smaller wars in the 1920s and 1930s, caused by the extreme decay and convulsions of capitalism particularly in the era of the Great Depression. Those defeats led to the cataclysm of World War II, and in its attempts to preserve its anomalous and unstable form of bureaucratic rule, the regime indulged in rampant terror against those who upheld the undiluted internationalism of the Bolsheviks. Earlier, in the late 1920s, the developing bureaucratic regime, through conciliation of the wealthy peasantry, a policy strongly opposed by the Left Opposition, allowed a challenge to develop to the conquests of the Russian Revolution from these kulaks, which developed into virtually a civil war with these kulaks and others resisting collectivisation.  3-4 million died in a famine across the USSR resulting from this conflict during 1931-2.

The Moscow purge trials of 1936-38, and Stalin’s 1931-2 famine, are for anti-Communist propagandists the epitome of ‘communist’ totalitarianism and the basis for their attempt to equate ‘communism’ with ‘fascism’ as supposed twin antitheses of ‘democratic’ capitalism. The former was the result of a policy, of conciliation of the kulaks, that the revolutionary and internationalist Bolshevik Left Opposition, led by Leon Trotsky, warned against, and fought against, for years. The Moscow purge trials were aimed at eliminating the Left Opposition and all trace of its influence.

The chief defendant, in absentia, was Trotsky, the co-leader with Lenin of the October Revolution of 1917. The Fourth International, the infant revolutionary communist international party founded by Trotsky after he was exiled from the USSR by the bureaucratic regime, warned during WWII that there was no fundamental difference in nature between US and British imperialism, and Nazi Germany, as potential forces that would bring about world barbarism. The recrudescence of Nazi-style barbarism personified by Netanyahu’s attempted genocide of two million Gaza Palestinians has vindicated that and brought the barbaric and genocidal nature of capitalism to the attention of new generations, including in the imperialist countries themselves.

Trotsky with Lenin

This is corroborated by the fact that this is happening concurrently with the US/NATO proxy war in Ukraine, where the West, as Hitler did before them, are backing outright Nazi terrorists in massacring parts of the Russian population. Particularly those who in Donbass and Crimea have the temerity to vote in referenda against being annexed and oppressed by fascist Western puppets, or in elections for political trends personified by Putin whose roots in the remaining productive forces and structures created under the former workers’ state give them the means to disobey Western imperialist/neoliberal dictates.

Shifts in the imperialist ‘racial’ hierarchy

Zionism is not a parochial movement confined to the Middle East, but rather something that plays an important role in several imperialist countries, notably the United States, but also in Western Europe. In discussing the rise of such a movement to prominence, and the world role that it actually plays in the present phase of the epoch of capitalist-imperialist decline, the wider world context in which such developments took place also needs to be understood.

These events are important for understanding how Zionism gained the hegemonic position in bourgeois politics that it has today. It is bound up with a major change in the position of Jews in the pecking order of peoples that is inevitable in a world divided not just into classes, but also into a system of nation-states in which a number of wealthy imperialist countries systematically extract tribute from less wealthy nations and the corresponding peoples that underlie them. Thus overlaying the class divisions between the working class and the bourgeoisie are massively unequal relationships between peoples. The ruling classes of some nations actually play a role in suppressing the economic and political development of other peoples, though plunder, and both direct and indirect exploitation.  Thus we get the phenomenon of oppressor and oppressed peoples, in all its variation, which contaminates the ‘pure’ class struggle with complex national questions.

Also overlaying this is the oppression of important ethnic minorities in the imperialist countries. For instance, there is the oppression of the black population of the United States, which was derived from slavery in the early capitalist period and is still a long way from real equality. There is the oppression of aboriginal peoples in a number of former colonial-settler states, in Australia and New Zealand where this is still a major social question; or for that matter in the United States and Canada where the remnants of the Native American population have been driven to the margins and treated as pariahs. In the past there were colonial-derived settler states where formal racial discrimination was state policy, such as apartheid South Africa and ‘Rhodesia’. Something similar in some ways is being attempted in Occupied Palestine though there are some important differences.

There is also the situation of numerous immigrants from ex-colonies in the imperialist countries. Such as Afro-Caribbeans, South Asians, and latterly Africans in the UK, Maghrebin Arabs and others in France, as well as Black Africans and those from French Caribbean dependencies, Turkish ‘guest workers’ in Germany, or the Korean migrant population in Japan.  More recently migrations of East Europeans in the EU free movement context, have complicated, but not fundamentally changed, these issues.

All of these questions involve the creation of ethnic (or ‘racial’) hierarchies through historical processes, both within and without the imperialist countries. All of them are in some way abound up with the enforcement of some kind of servitude or second class status on entire peoples, to the extent that it is true that the majority of humanity is not just subject to exploitation in the sense of a worker under capitalism, but is also to some additional form of national or racial oppression on top of that. Something that in practice deprives them even of equal status with ordinary working class people of the imperialist countries, who themselves constitute an exploited and often semi-suppressed class. These kinds of relations between peoples, once consolidated under capitalism, have tended to become intractable, an inherent part of the system, to the point that it is obvious to anyone who seriously studies such things in their historical sweep that the real emancipation of these peoples from such systematic oppression can only fully take place when capitalism is abolished.

The exception to the rule

There is one glaring exception to this: one formerly oppressed population that under capitalism has escaped from oppression and degradation, and even a serious attempt at genocide in the middle of the 20th Century, to ascend the de-facto hierarchy of peoples that capitalism has created, right to the top. Jews have, uniquely under capitalism, escaped from being a semi-pariah population in the early 20th century to being joint top dogs of the imperialist world in the early 21st Century. Symbolic of this is the term ‘Judeo-Christian civilisation’ that is habitually used by ideologues of Western imperialism to denote the supposedly innate superiority of the West to its perceived ‘others’. By degrees, this has become the dominant narrative; since the 1967 war at least it was the default view, marginalising the anti-Jewish themes of the previous manifestations of imperialist reaction. In the 2000s, with the eruption of imperialism’s ‘war on terror’: ideological cover for an attempted partial recolonization of part of the Middle East by imperialist states, it has become a feverish, militaristic barely-disguised racist narrative in its own right.

The reversal of the position of the Jews in imperialism’s pecking order of peoples has a materialist explanation. Unlike virtually every other victimised population that has been subjected to racial oppression under capitalism, Jews were never, except in the circumstances of the actual attempt at genocide, an enslaved population of colonial-type subjects. Rather, the Jewish population was a different type of pariah population with a complex origin bound up with their economic role in pre-capitalist European society. They were a commodity-trading and later money-trading people-class, in societies where commodity exchange, let alone commodity production (which was virtually unknown), was an activity at the margins of the economic system, which was based on natural, agricultural economy and a form of exploitation based on the appropriation of material goods (i.e. use values in Marxist terms), not exchange values.

This is a complex subject, which has been treated in full elsewhere. It was touched on by Karl Marx in his celebrated early essay On the Jewish Question. The understanding of the Jews as a people-class of traders in pre-capitalist society was elaborated at length in Abram Leon’s notable work The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation, and some extensions of this analysis were much more recently put forward by me in a series of articles on Marxism and the Jewish Question, most synthetically in the 2014 Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism.

The core of this understanding is that the pariah role of the Jews was a transitory phenomenon that was not organic to capitalism, but rather was a hangover from the late feudal period, when their pre-capitalist role as a ‘foreign’ commodity-trading class was rendered superfluous by the emergence of the bourgeoisies as competitors. They were pushed to the margins and became a pariah layer associated above all with usury, forced into ghettos by feudalism which increasingly used them as a scapegoat for mass discontent with a disintegrating economic system, while at the same time being regarded as insidious competitors by the emerging native bourgeoisies.

This pariah status and oppression, as well as the wide-ranging international trading connections of the Jews derived from their status as a religious minority in many countries, led to their being radicalised both as an intellectual layer and an artisan proletariat, and in those roles playing an important role both in the bourgeois revolutions, where the demand for Jewish emancipation from the ghetto was an important democratic issue, and in the early working class, socialist and communist movement. At the same time, the centuries-long experience of Jewish traders, merchants and usurers in the world of commodities gave them a cultural advantage in the new capitalist societies that were based on generalised commodity production and exchange. Part of the Jewish population was therefore absorbed into the bourgeoisies of the new capitalist countries in Europe and then North America, and became often extremely successful, in a proportion far beyond the proportion of Jews in the general population.

This combination, of successful Jewish capital, and Jewish participation in the working class movement, was the material base that gave birth to a peculiar, racist and deeply reactionary ideology, classical anti-semitism, when capitalism ceased to be an expanding, progressive system in the late 19th century. This ideology was based on a counter-revolutionary racist demonology; it saw Jewish bourgeois as the financiers of a Jewish-led subversive movement against ‘Christian’ civilisation. This was initially the ideology of late-feudal reaction in 19th Century Tsarist Russia, where the large Jewish population was subjected to vicious attacks and pogroms. But as many Jewish refugees fled Russia to the West, the ideology of ‘anti-semitism’ and the Tsarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion became a major force in European politics first in France with the Dreyfus case, then in Germany in the early-to-mid 20th Century, culminating in the rise of the genocidal anti-Jewish National Socialists under Hitler’s leadership.

Some say that the defeat of Nazi Germany and the exposure of its mass slaughter of the Jews, along with other less well-regarded minorities such as Roma and homosexuals, a considerable number of Slavs, as well as many communist and socialists, were decisive in discrediting racism. It is ironic then that today, the one state in the Western ‘family’ of nations based on the ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition that openly propagates ethnic criteria for whom it regards as a real citizen of the state, and which openly engages in violent, oppressive treatment, mass expulsions of (non-Jewish) people indigenous to its supposed national territory on ethnic grounds, and now open genocide, is Israel: the Jewish state. It is also notable that this genocidal ethnocratic oppression takes place with the fulsome approval of its Western allies in Europe and America, with only the occasional half-hearted slap on the wrist when Israel ‘goes too far’.

This indicates that the outcome of World War II was not the straightforwardly devastating defeat for racism that Western imperialist liberal apologists would like to pretend it was.  Rather, it suggests that imperialist racism underwent a quasi-revolutionary transformation of its form, into something more sophisticated, more synthetic, and in many ways more pernicious and hypocritical. However, it was still racism in practice: an ideology that, whatever its finer points, justified the systematic oppression and repression of the mass of the people of entire ethnic groups, based on a rationale that considered those groups as in some way collectively inferior and expendable for the supposedly greater good of the dominant peoples. Jews had now joined the dominant peoples, as indicated by the now prevalent trope about ‘Judeo-Christian civilisation’.

Transformation into the opposite

The reason for this is not obvious, but can be explained by historical materialist analysis. One of the very factors that had created the conditions where ‘anti-semitic’ racism, and indeed the Nazi genocide, could take place, had been transformed into a novel way into its opposite. Prior to the genocide, as mentioned earlier, the combination of the disproportionate success of Jewish bourgeois in capitalist business with the radical role of Jews in the workers movement had produced anti-semitism as a racist, counterrevolutionary paranoia among the non-Jewish imperialist bourgeoisie.

 The Nazi genocide dealt a savage blow to Jewish radicalism, by physically exterminating an enormous number of communist and socialist Jews. But it also dealt an even more devastating blow, as the sheer barbarism involved and the lack of effective solidarity that such Jews received from the (previously crushed) non-Jewish proletariat in Germany and its expanded Reich laid the basis for the political displacement of Jewish socialism by Zionism, as a nationalist movement that, even though it initially took left-sounding forms, had a deeply divisive and anti-communist logic. And thirdly, though the Jewish bourgeoisie suffered grievous losses in Hitler’s Reich, the overrepresentation of Jews among the bourgeoisie that had in part prompted the rise of anti-semitic agitation (the “socialism of fools”, as Bebel called it), remained completely intact in the United States, not to mention the UK and other European imperialist countries, even if some of those Jewish bourgeois did have to take refuge elsewhere for the duration of the conflict with Hitler.

Auschwitz: Nazi Death Camp. Hitler sought to eradicate “Jewish Bolshevism”. But Zionism has more in common with Nazism than Bolshevism.

What WWII and the genocide brought about was an ideological (counter)-revolution, a major qualitative and regressive leap in the consciousness of the Jewish people. The pro-working class, radical part of the Jewish people was physically wiped out, and where it was not, was ideologically wiped out. This regressive change is irreversible in terms of the specific peculiarity of the Jewish people as a partial vanguard of socialism prior to the genocide: these specific elements of Jewish mass consciousness and the vanguard role they once played are gone and can never be re-created.

A crucial indication of this is also represented by a major change in the relationship between Jews and the Communist movement, both the genuine internationalist (‘Trotskyist’) minority, and more significantly in terms of brute social power at least, the degenerated ‘Communist’ movements led by Stalin and his successors, both within and without the USSR.  The previous radicalisation of the Jews as a result of their anomalous position in early capitalism led to Jewish intellectuals and workers playing a disproportionate, and thoroughly progressive, vanguard role in the early socialist and communist movement. However, the decline of genuine internationalist communism with the degeneration of the Stalin-led communist movement from internationalism to ‘socialism in one country’, as well as the spread of similar formations in the post-WWII anti-colonial/revolutionary struggles in China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc., consolidated this fairly generalised rift of Jews with the communist movement.

Both the internationalism of the bulk of the early communist movement, and the internationalism of the radical Jews who supported it, were extinguished, and replaced by forms of ruinous and often reactionary nationalism. Where communist Jews were not exterminated by the fascists, many lost the real internationalist element within their tradition and became Zionists, seeking the re-creation of a 2000-year-old semi-mythical Levantine Jewish state in the conditions of modern capitalism: a totally reactionary goal. Some hid the reactionary implications of this, even from themselves, by projecting a ‘socialist’ Israel – the USSR even armed the infant Israeli state, before being quickly rebuffed. Over time the rift between Zionised Jews and the Stalinist-ruled deformed workers’ states became a massive one; the participation of many Western Jews with Israeli government supporters in campaigns to ‘Free Soviet Jewry’ (they hoped to settle these in Israel) was also a crucial factor in turn in bringing about an equally drastic change in the views of the non-Jewish imperialist bourgeoisie about Jews.

Whereas previously they had often looked at the Jewish bourgeoisie with suspicion, as a potential danger to them, now with the defeat of the Jewish left, they began to develop the opposite conception, which is the case today. As part of the outcome of these events, the non-Jewish bourgeoisie has come to regard its Jewish compatriots as a priceless resource of the capitalist system itself, a kind of vanguard, class conscious layer, the bearer of a culture whose connection with commodity exchange is older than capitalism itself, as a system based on the generalisation of commodity production and exchange. This became clear in the post WWII period, particularly after the rise of Israel and the 1967 war. It was manifested in the rise of neo-liberalism, with ideologues like Milton Friedman, and then neo-conservatism in Cold War II and later the neo-colonial wars against the Muslim world, with the very prominent role of Zionist ideologues, often Jewish, in these bourgeois political movements and trends which have become pretty well hegemonic in bourgeois politics.

Vanguard of imperialist racism

And that is the take-off point for the situation we have today. Zionism has become the vanguard of racism in the main, traditional imperialist countries. Zionists are the vanguard of anti-Muslim agitation, they have been the core of the neo-conservative movement that has been, and still is, the vanguard of imperialist militarism in the Middle East. To a real extent, they are seen as a vanguard by the imperialist ruling classes in the most advanced countries. This has a material basis; for the historical reasons mentioned earlier, Jews have always been over-represented in the bourgeoisie of the advanced Western capitalist countries. In the earlier period of Jewish involvement in genuine revolutionary anti-capitalism, this was seen as threatening by many non-Jewish bourgeois in the imperialist countries.

But with the revolutionary change of consciousness referred to earlier among both Jews and the non-Jewish bourgeoisie, this has been transformed into its opposite. Jews are now seen as almost the Holy of Holies by the Western imperialist bourgeoisie. This process was inseparable from the rise of the state of Israel with its peculiar citizenship law, the Law of Return, which gives everyone regarded as Jewish in the conventional sense the right to Israeli citizenship. Thus the overrepresentation of Jews in the ruling classes of the imperialist countries added an additional element; that overrepresented layer acquired a material stake in another state, one they had already been considerably involved in funding and bringing into existence in the earlier period on the basis of a Zionist-nationalist vision. What in effect happened is that part of the ruling classes of the Western countries came to overlap with the ruling class of Israel, the most recently and artificially created of the advanced-capitalist, imperialist states.  That is the material basis of Zionist power in the advanced capitalist countries; the ‘moral’ authority of Zionism and Israel has had its own autonomous elements, but materially it is based on that.

Corbyn, Labour and Zionism

This has particular relevance for what happened in the British Labour Party during the Corbyn period, when a working-class revolt from below expressed itself in a rejection of neo-liberalism and the imperialist militarism of the neo-conservatives, as most classically expressed by the legacy of Tony Blair. This was done, not surprisingly, against the bitter opposition, resistance and hatred of Zionists.

Zionists played an enormously prominent role in attacking the Corbyn movement. At that point in time the working-class movement was unable to give a complete political answer to Zionism’s witch-hunting methods and strategies because it lacked (and still does) a coherent and consistent Marxist understanding of the Jewish Question and its implications. But the analysis laid out above does answer the basic points that need to be addressed in combatting this, now extremely powerful, form of racism in the imperialist countries.

Corbyn was targeted for destruction because of his anti-racism and because, despite his left social-democratic political limitations, this anti-racism has led him to solidarise with the victims and opponents, some flawed, others politically confused, of this historically specific type of racism and virulent reactionary nationalism that is currently hegemonic in Western societies.

Distinction between oppressor and oppressed

The attacks on Corbyn for fraternising with Hamas and Hezbollah, for instance, during his victorious election campaign, were trumpeted far and wide by the bourgeois media and echoed by Blairite shills and even some left Zionists in and around the Labour Party, such as the Alliance for Workers Liberty. Corbyn was forced somewhat on the defensive when accused of sharing platforms with Hamas and Hezbollah militants at events opposing Israeli crimes against the Palestinians and Lebanese and rationalised his addressing their representatives as ‘friends’ as simply a diplomatic form of address to people he nevertheless strongly disagreed with and sought to persuade of the benefits of ‘peace’. This was a concession to bourgeois ‘public opinion’, and reflective of contradiction and weakness in Corbyn’s ideology. ‘Peace’ is all very well, but only possible when legitimate grievances are fully addressed and when oppression comes to an end.

Jeremy Corbyn, with victimised black activist Marc Wadsworth

Corbyn should have had nothing to apologise for about engaging in joint protest activity and campaigning against Zionist and imperialist oppression with representatives of the Palestinians and Lebanese Shia Muslims who have systematically (in the case of the Palestinians) and periodically (in the case of the Lebanese Shia) been murdered and oppressed by racist Zionist Israel, with Western support, for decades. Those who scream about the supposed ‘anti-semitism’ of Hamas and Hezbollah, and thereby imply that Israeli-Jewish armed settlers (which is what, in reality all adult Israelis amount to in current political conditions) are in some sense the actual or potential victims of their ‘racism’, are themselves peddling an anti-Arab, racist narrative.

Anti-racism cannot ever be an injunction on the oppressed to love their oppressors and not to hold views of them that are tinged with hatred, even if expressed in religious and/or racialized terms. Racism is not about the oppressed holding such views about their oppressors. Racism is rather an expression in ideological terms of a power relation that an oppressor people maintain in oppressing an oppressed people. It systematically regards the oppressed people as in some sense of a lower order, as deserving of the oppression visited upon them.

This understanding is the basis of the elementary distinction that Marxists have always made between the nationalism of the oppressor and the nationalism of the oppressed, or between the violence of the oppressor and the violence of the oppressed. As Trotsky said of this issue in Their Morals and Ours:

“A slave-owner who through cunning and violence shackles a slave in chains, and a slave who through cunning or violence breaks the chains – let not the contemptible eunuchs tell us that they are equals before a court of morality!” )

The record is quite clear. Palestinians have been driven out of their homeland for the past 70 years, and those in the additional parts of Palestine Israel conquered in 1967 have been under Israeli racist-terrorist rule for 50 years. Now they are facing outright genocide. The Lebanese Shia, the main Lebanese population that has been periodically targeted for massacre by Israel since Begin’s day, are likewise in a power relation with Israel that is crystal clear. What is true of violence and nationalism is also true today of religious fundamentalism or even so-called ‘racism’ (or ‘anti-semitism’) by supporters of these movements – we distinguish between the ideologies and actions of the oppressor, and the oppressed.

So actually, ‘concern’ about ‘anti-semitism’ by supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas in the context of Israeli ethnic-cleansing and mass terrorism is akin to ‘concern’ about ‘anti-white racism’ among blacks in the context of apartheid South Africa, or white ‘Rhodesia’, or Jim Crow in America, and all manner of other racist crimes. It is racist demonology.

While Marxists do not subscribe to the programmes of these movements or the ideologies that underpin them, neither do we consider them in any way comparable to the racism of Israel and its supporters and apologists in the West. They actually arose, to a considerable extent, because of the successful actions of Zionism in destroying and humiliating earlier, secular movements against Zionist oppression. Which make these Zionist attacks on the ‘reactionary’ politics of their supporters doubly hypocritical. There should be no concession to the calumnies about the ‘anti-semitism’ of the Arab victims of Zionism, but rather those who raise these ‘concerns’ should receive a robust response.

It is these critics who are the racists, who are inverting the relation between the oppressor and the oppressed in the Middle East in a truly Orwellian manner. They are in reality devotees of the dominant racist narrative of the bourgeoisie of the ‘Judeo-Christian’ imperialist countries, using this anti-Arab, anti-Muslim narrative to justify massacres, ethnic cleansing and the threat of nuclear war in their neo-colonial offensive that has reduced much of the Middle East to chaos and bloodshed. Now they are trying to exterminate the people of Gaza, with the West Bank Palestinians next on the list for mass murder.

Paul Eisen and the Holocaust

Another question Corbyn was castigated about during his victorious 2015 campaign for the Labour leadership was his supporting events by so-called ‘anti-semites’ and Holocaust Deniers. Corbyn was denounced for having attended events organised by Deir Yassin Remembered, an organisation that was founded mainly by Jews and Israeli expats to commemorate the Zionist massacre of over 100 Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin, on the edge of West Jerusalem, in April 1948. The Director of Deir Yassin Remembered at the time was Paul Eisen, a British Jew living in North London.

Paul Eisen

Any examination of Eisen’s material would reveal that he is deeply sensitive to the crimes that have been committed in the name of the Jewish people (and thereby himself), and has an emotional response to this that may be eminently comprehensible, but is hardly the best way to achieve political clarity. He embodies a deep sense of guilt for crimes committed by his own people, as he sees it. This is not an unfamiliar phenomenon to those active on the left. One sometimes comes upon those who have a similar response to their British, German or American heritage, and are consumed with guilt about the crimes of imperialism. This is not usually a working class response; however neither is it anything to fear, it can be the beginning of wisdom if those usually quite middle-class radicalised types break with their guilt reaction and seek to analyse imperialism politically, using Marxist methods of analysis.

What was new at that time, and still is relatively new, is coming across Jewish people who have a similar guilt complex about their own Jewish origin. This was evidently the case with Eisen, who reacted to the cultification of the Shoah and its use to justify crimes against the Palestinians today, by publicly expressing strong doubts about the truth of key aspects of the Shoah, particularly the existence of gas chambers and whether there was ever a Nazi plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews in 1941-5. He considered that Jews were subjected to arbitrary imprisonment, starvation and slave-labour which caused many deaths, but that this was aimed at ethnic cleansing and expulsion, not mass extermination, and that the number of Jewish victims was therefore inflated, partly by inaccurate estimates of the Jewish pre-war population.

This is a fair summary of Eisen’s views and motivations at that time, some of which are still available on the web. His personal website was made private when his views and activities became a political issue during Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 election campaign. Corbyn himself had attended some events of Deir Yassin Remembered, as in 2013, when he was pictured at a public event along with the late Gerald Kaufman, then the ‘father of the House [of Commons]’ (longest serving MP) who in his younger days had been a fervent and idealistic Zionist; in later life he became one of the most outspoken Jewish critics of Israeli crimes and himself was frequently denounced as a ‘self-hating Jew’. It appears that Corbyn sometimes gave donations to this grouping for its work in commemorating a hideous, too-little-known massacre and bringing it to public attention.

Eisen’s views were misguided and historically wrong. Apart from the dubious factual basis of the material he directly cited, mainly gleaned from dubious sources on the old-style far right concerned to minimize Hitler’s crimes (which Eisen accepted without any real examination of motives, a product of guilt about Zionist crimes), his analysis accepted one key aspect of Zionist ideology that neither he nor most of his detractors even noticed – the view that the Nazi genocide was really only about the Jews.

But it was not: half a million Roma gypsies were also wiped out by the Nazis. Also, several million Slavs, gays and communists. Jehovah’s Witnesses even. Jews had the highest death toll because they were the target group with the highest population, but it was not all about the Jews. But while Eisen had become fixated with debunking the essentially true but misused facts about the actual slaughter of Jews, many of his most vehement critics shared this focus on the Jewish ownership of the Shoah. But unlike Eisen, most of these did this same thing from a straightforwardly Jewish chauvinist standpoint.

Jewish racism against … Jews?

After all, racism is above all a reflection of real relations of oppression. We have to judge in that regard, the allegations of ‘racism’ that were then flung at Eisen, and also at Corbyn by association. How on earth was Eisen a racist in propagating his (incorrect) views on the Shoah? Was he, as a Jew, engaged in some form of oppression of other Jews by means of his opinions? Not at all, the idea is absurd, since (a) Jews are not an oppressed minority, but a rather well-off and in many ways privileged minority in British society, and (b) if they were in some ways oppressed, they would then have a lot more to worry about than the views of a mistaken Jewish individual like Eisen. The hounding of Eisen by the media to get at Corbyn was an act of chauvinistic bullying by the most powerful gang of organised racists in Western societies at that time, and still today. It is the kind of thing the workers movement needs to oppose. But to oppose things like this, it is necessary to understand the complexities of the question and why this is necessary.

This was also a problem also with some who aspired to be anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians. For instance, when the ‘scandal’ of Corbyn’s sometime association with Deir Yassin Remembered was in full swing, and Corbyn had issued the necessary statements pointing out that he had no sympathy for Eisen’s views (obviously true), then a letter was put together by a bunch of Jewish leftists ‘defending’ Corbyn against the attacks of the Jewish Chronicle:

“You report Paul Eisen as saying that Jeremy Corbyn donated to Deir Yassin Remembered. So did many people before discovering the existence of antisemites and Holocaust-deniers in the organisation. Many people attended the occasional fundraising concert that DYR organised, without either knowing of or sympathising with Mr Eisen’s views.”

What is notable about this letter is two-fold. One is that while it is obviously correct for Corbyn to dissociate himself from Eisen’s views, which no-one has ever seriously suggested he had anything in common with anyway, this letter attacked Paul Eisen as an ‘anti-semite’, i.e. as a racist. This went further than simply dissociating the authors (and Corbyn) from Eisen’s views. The other point is that this letter does not mention that Eisen is actually Jewish himself. This is not accidental. For if it had mentioned this, it would have somewhat undercut elements of ideology that these leftists share with the Jewish Chronicle and the main bevy of Jewish chauvinists attacking Corbyn.

Attacking a Jewish person as ‘anti-semitic’ is very odd. In situations where real oppression is taking place, in Nazi Germany, for instance, or in Israel/Palestine today, it is perfectly possible for some member of the oppressed population to betray their own people. There are examples, both current and historical. Many Palestinians have long considered, with good reason, the sinister former PLO official Mohammad Dahlan, to be an Israeli agent. There were good grounds, in times past, to consider the Stern Gang (Lehi) terrorist and later Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to be a Nazi collaborator. Similar things occur in every struggle against oppression, in South Africa during the anti-apartheid struggle the Zulu chief Buthelezi was a blatant collaborator and traitor. During the Jim Crow period in the US, the phenomenon of the ‘Uncle Tom’ was also well known – Booker T Washington was perhaps the best known example.

Such people betray their own people in a struggle against oppression. It would not be accurate to actually call them racists against their own people, but their betrayals were certainly products of their own weakness, cowardice and corruption in the face of the oppressor. They are, and were, rightly reviled.

But Jews are not the victims of oppression today. They are the perpetrators of oppression in the Middle East. And many, maybe still most, diaspora Jews support that, though Israel’s now open genocide may change that in time. Jews are subject to no oppression in the advanced capitalist countries. So where do allegations of ‘anti-semitism’ against Jewish figures like Paul Eisen come from? How is it possible to be racist against yourself, or even in some way a traitor to your own people in a situation where your own people are not oppressed, but many of them are either participants, or complicit, in oppression or even now outright genocide, themselves?

These are not idle questions. Paul Eisen was the tip of an iceberg. There is quite a long list of people of Jewish origin who have been accused, including by Jewish activists on the far left, of being anti-semites, i.e. anti-Jewish racists. If you sat down and wrote out a list, you could come up with dozens of prominent people – a look at the board of directors of Deir Yassin Remembered yields quite a few to start with. And if those are the prominent ones, it is doubtless true that there are many more non-prominent ones who agree with them. So, a whole layer exists of ‘anti-semites’ of Jewish origin who the Jewish left and those influenced by them, then joined with Zionists in denouncing and ostracising. This issue sporadically resurfaces even today.

Some of the most sophisticated of these ‘left’ Jewish chauvinists, uneasy about the logic involved in this, conceded that these Jewish non-conformists are not dangerous in the least to Jewish people. But they said, the Palestine solidarity movement must be ‘protected’ from their influence to avoid it being ‘discredited’ as ‘anti-semitic’ by the Zionists. This argument is steeped in paternalism, apparently non-Jews in general (and Arabs in particular) are too stupid to be able to handle this complex problem through democratic engagement and debate. It has to be solved by surgical means by Jewish political vigilantes.

The real explanation for this is that many of those on the left who aspired to be anti-Zionists nevertheless shared the dominant prejudice that for all the crimes of Israel and its supporters internationally (particularly the bourgeois ones who significantly materially and politically support it), there is something inherently progressive and enobling about being Jewish, something that puts Jews on a higher moral level to the rest of humanity. This is itself a conceit that needs to be broken with.

Collective guilt vs. collective innocence: a false dichotomy

We as Marxists reject the notion of collective guilt of entire peoples. Many good liberal middle class Germans, often quite leftist in their aspirations, are consumed with guilt about Germany’s past, and even mobilise politically on the basis of such guilt. Such is the basis for the middle-class left anti-Deutsch movement in Germany, whose guilt about the Shoah leads them, logically enough, to turn a blind eye to the crimes of Zionist Jews today because Jews were once victimised appallingly by German imperialism. Their slogan, we should note is “Never Again Germany”. The German bourgeois state, partly cynically, partly ideologically, is conforming to this today in its current backing for Israel in its genocide in Gaza.

“Communist” Anti-Deutsch Protest in Frankfurt, 2006

Paul Eisen and his ilk are/were the Jewish equivalent of the anti-Deutsch. This is not racism at all, in other words, but a confused anti-racist impulse. This is shown, incidentally, by Netanyahu’s pronouncement several years ago, that Hitler did not want to exterminate the Jews, but merely to expel them from the Reich. According to Netanyahu, Hitler was then persuaded to ‘burn’ the Jews by the Palestinian potentate Haj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. There is a degree of formal similarity between what Netanyahu says about Hitler, and what Eisen said. But the intention was the opposite. By denying Hitler’s guilt, Eisen was trying to undercut the Israeli rationale for the oppression of the Palestinians. But when Netanyahu denied Hitler’s guilt, it was in order to transfer it to the Palestinians through the person of the Mufti: Netanyahu was seeking to create the political conditions for a genocide of the Palestinians. Which he is now carrying out in Gaza.

So here you see similar elements of false analysis, used for opposite purposes. But absurdly, one of the responses of the Jewish-centred left was to accuse Netanyahu of ‘holocaust denial’. Thus, massively missing the point. They too considered Jews to be much more important than Arabs. Netanyahu is not interested in history, except as a means to incite and justify the genocide of Arabs in the here and now. Whereas Eisen was wrongly using history to defend the Palestinians, in the way he saw it. These are opposite phenomena.

Anyone in Germany who denounced the anti-Deutsch as anti-German ‘racists’ would be engaged in the same kind of fundamental error that those on the British left who denounce Eisen and co. as ‘anti-semitic’ were engaged in. Implicitly, such accusers of the anti-Deutsch could be said to share conceptions characteristic of Nazi apologists. And those who made analogous allegations against Eisen, in exactly the same manner, echoed what are in fact Zionist tropes about the sacral nature of the Jewish people, and their moral superiority over others. This is also an unconscious or semi-conscious driving force of the various Jews-only groupings that are regularly formed in and around the Palestine solidarity movement. We need to go beyond that and create a multi-ethnic socialist/communist revolutionary movement.

Socialists reject the notion of collective guilt of peoples. But we also reject the notion of collective innocence, which in fact just displaces the notion of collective guilt onto other people(s). The theory of Israel as a colonial-settler state implies it is simply a tool of other powers, and not an imperialist force in its own right. In fact, it is a state of Jewish settlers politically identical in substance to the settlers who are slicing up the West Bank, and who the Israeli genocidaires want to take over Gaza once the Palestinian people who live there are wiped out. This concept assigns the primary role in driving Israeli colonisation to the United States and the former colonial powers. It essentially says that no matter what crimes Jewish political or military forces may commit against Arabs, Jews collectively are innocent of these actions. It is the Americans and British who are really to blame.

And of course, they share much of the blame, from the Balfour Declaration to Suez, to the massive US support for Israel in recent decades, and now in the current Gaza genocide – the US, UK and other imperialists bear massive culpability. But Jews as a semi-national grouping, with a ruling class that spans some national borders and has its own independent interests, are not collectively innocent either. This Jewish layer of the ruling class bears as much of the responsibility as their more ‘traditional’ imperialist allies. There is no collective guilt of Americans, British, French or Germans, or Jews, for any of these things. The blame fundamentally lies with the various ruling classes, in their different forms and permutations. But the idea of collective innocence of any and all of these entire peoples/nations is a capitulation to some form of reactionary nationalism and exonerates the ruling classes. In the case of the self-described Jewish left and those influenced by them, it is evidence of some level of shared conceptions with Zionism – a product of social pressure, since as is the main theme of this article, a modified form of racism, incorporating Zionist conceptions and influence, is the hegemonic form of racism today.

To conclude, Karl Marx stated that “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”. This rightly emphasises the role of practical activity in order to affect material reality. However, a corollary of this is that in order to begin to change the world, you have to understand it, at least at some basic level. And through either lack of real analysis, or social pressure, or more likely a combination of the two, understanding of the real role of Zionism in Western societies, and the material roots of this, has been lacking among Marxists. This article is part of an attempt to rectify that, to arm the left and labour movement with a coherent understanding of this very sophisticated, and also very coherent, form of bourgeois class-enemy politics.

  1.  Political Zionism: The Hegemonic Racism of the early 21st Century, see The full version on Socialist Fight seems to be currently unavailable.
  2. League for the Revolutionary Party, see