Gaza Holocaust Creates a Historic Crisis of Zionist Racist Hegemony

Solidarity with Palestine’s Anti-Imperialist, Anti-Genocide Struggle! Smash Zionism! Defeat US/NATO imperialism!

Workers Militias to Defend Democratic Rights!

By Ian Donovan

The US ruling class and its lackeys in the British ruling class clearly are giving both military support, and as much open political support as they dare, to Israel in its genocidal campaign to wipe out, or otherwise dispose of, the Palestinian people.  This is not just in Gaza; the West Bank is lined up next, along with the so-called Israeli Arabs further down the line. Israel has become the symbol of the vile racism and colonialism of the West, and its racism is politically hegemonic, the most openly expressed form of racism in the early 21st Century. Old style, overt white supremacism is regarded with contempt by a bourgeois consensus. Even more so the legacy racism of Hitler-style anti-Semitism.

This extends even to the right-wing populists who have emerged out of the decay of neoliberalism in the last decade – even they have to pay lip-service to being in some way opposed to open racism. The defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII by the USSR (which did most of the fighting and took most of the casualties) had a huge ideological effect in discrediting open, overt racism. It has been on the defensive ever since. But paradoxically, there was and is one exception to this. Zionist racism, which justifies itself by invoking the crimes of Nazi Germany against the Jews to justify the genocidal ethnic cleansing, and often mass murder, of the Palestinian Arab population. At one level this is an ideological paradox. A form of racism apparently able to survive, and prosper, because the people in whose name it is practiced were previous victims of genocide.

But such ideological paradoxes have little power in themselves. They can only become powerful where there is a material basis for them. The material basis for the apparent ideological power of Zionist racism did not, and does not arise in a vacuum. What actually happened since WWII was that Zionism, as a political strategy, succeeded in transforming the mainly European-derived Jewish population of West Europe and North America from a significantly oppressed population before WWII, through a sui generis form of social mobility, into one of the world’s oppressor peoples, alongside white West Europeans and North American Anglos. This Jewish population is the only one that has made such a transformation, from victims of imperialist capitalism, into a population privileged by imperialist capitalism, in the imperialist epoch.

The reason this was even possible was because of the atypical social structure of the Jews in feudal Europe. Under the feudal mode of production, their pre-capitalist existence as a trading people-class (as analysed by the Belgian-Jewish Marxist theorist of the Jewish Question, Abram Leon) led them to become an oppressed population in the late-feudal era, from an often-privileged middleman class early in the same era. They were emancipated by the bourgeois revolutions, particularly in England and France when capitalism was in its vigorous youth, and began to be assimilated. But because of their preceding history as a (former) class, they were predisposed and particularly prone to absorption into the intellectual petty-bourgeoisie, which often led them to play leading roles in the working-class movement as an entirely natural response to their history of oppression and persecution. Where Jews were part of the working class, they tended to be in specialist artisan sections such as jewellery and clothing, which were closer socially to the petty-bourgeoisie. And they also were disproportionately absorbed, by virtue of their long experience of commodity exchange, into the more mercantile parts of the bourgeoisie itself. In the mid-feudal period those layers had regarded the pre-capitalist Jewish traders as an obsolete and harmful layer of competitors. But under generalised capitalism there was much more room for them.

But by the late 19th Century, around the 1880s, the vigorous youth of the capitalist system was over, and was replaced by a predatory form of capitalist imperialism, based on monopoly capitalism, and a drive to divide up the world between a few large West and Central European powers – joined by the United States and Japan. A feverish oppressor-people nationalism was the ideological expression of this imperialism, and that made Jews a target for considerable antipathy from imperialist nationalists. The role of Jews in the workers movement meant that imperialist nationalists came to regard even the large layer of bourgeois Jews with suspicion, with a paranoid racist ideology that posited a conspiracy between the leftist Jews and bourgeois Jews, supposedly to establish a ‘Jewish’ racial tyranny over gentiles. When imperialist capitalism came close to collapse in the Great Depression of the 1930s, this scapegoating of the Jews led to genocide.

And characteristically, it was the leftist-inclined petty-bourgeois and artisan Jews who were overwhelmingly wiped out. Though some bourgeois Jews in the epicentre of the genocide, Germany, also became victims, in general these escaped, and the result was that the class composition of Jews after the genocide tended more to reflect the influence of more bourgeois and privileged layers. Zionist was a bourgeois trend/strategy that realised that, even though bourgeois Jews had been scapegoated in the early period of imperialism, nevertheless they were objectively part of the imperialist bourgeoisie and a situation could be brought about, through creating a transplanted imperialist state of their ‘own’, whereby that imperialist layer could be enabled to lead ‘their’ formerly oppressed population to join the world’s imperialist oppressor peoples. That was the (thoroughly reactionary) ‘success’ of Zionism in ‘liberating’ the European Jews from their former oppression, transforming them into an oppressor population, objectively, with the Arab people of Palestine and adjoining countries as their main victims. That is the objective situation of North American, most European, and of course Israeli Jewry today, notwithstanding some acute subjective contradictions derived from their history. 

Israel has a unique bourgeoisie, much of which lives in other imperialist countries, and has been cohered into, and acts as, an organised faction/caste (made up of an array of associated factions) within bourgeois politics within those countries. Simply because, while the number and proportion of the Jewish population may be small, the proportion of Jews within the imperialist bourgeoisie is much bigger, dozens of times larger proportionately. This is particularly strong in the US, and somewhat weaker but still highly important in West Europe. And the hegemonic ideological trend among bourgeois Jews today is Zionism, overwhelmingly. The hegemony of Zionist racism has been bolstered and given credence for decades by the fact that the Zionists and their bourgeois social base, were clever opportunists, who instead of fighting the Nazis and similar oppressors of their own people, actually substantially collaborated with them, sacrificing the artisan-proletariat and radicalised petty-bourgeois layers of their own people, in the cause of creating their own imperialist state. But the narrative promoted among the masses by this layer is that their people are the victims of the Nazi holocaust, and meaningful criticism of their racist hegemony is effectively the same as the genocidal hatred of Jews by the Nazis, etc. Not only that, but the fact that Zionist ideologues personified by Milton Friedman played a major role in creating the neoliberal economic/political trend in the 1970s, when the capitalist system again faced a seemingly systemic crisis, means that sections of the bourgeoisie now credit them with saving the capitalist system itself. This has created an irrational cult within imperialist bourgeois politics, which may actually prove as harmful as the cult of anti-Semitism and Hitler prior to the Second World War.

The genocide in Gaza has now generated an historical crisis of Zionist hegemony. It is perfectly obvious that the objective of the Israeli actions in Gaza is the elimination of the Palestinian Arab population of Gaza. This has been a Zionist objective for many years, and the advent of Netanyahu’s Likud/Kahanist/Ultra-Orthodox Settler coalition indicated even before the Hamas-led Oct 7th Palestinian revolt, which merely served as a pretext, that such a genocide was on the immediate agenda. The accelerating rise of Zionist terror on the West Bank shows that this is not merely about Gaza. It is a long-planned genocide, which will inevitably extend to the West Bank and even to the ‘Israeli Arab’ population within the Green Line if the Gaza carnage is not stopped. Whether Israel has the armed capacity to carry out such a greater genocide is not clear, however – this transplanted imperialist formation is itself fragile – the indigenous Arab population of the region is far more deeply rooted and may be able to topple the Zionist entity if it takes them on all at once. However, the fragile, but imperialist nature of Israel, plus its possession of hundreds of nuclear weapons, and the fanaticism of its far-right leaders, mean that it can be a threat to human existence itself, if it manages to provoke an all-out regional war.

The mass of the population worldwide sees right through Zionism today, and understands its imperialist nature. This is particularly true in the Global South, whose populations have terrible experience of colonialism and recognise Israel’s nature very easily. Billions see through Israel, and many millions march against its crimes. But even in the imperialist countries, the population is now, in its mass, deep-learning the fascistic, Nazi-like, genocidal and inhuman nature of Zionism. The Zionist lobby has been unable to prevent the terrible news of its massive crimes from seeping even into the mainstream Western media, even if the influence of the Jewish-Zionist caste within the imperialist bourgeoisie has limited this. The legal action launched in the International Court of Justice by South Africa, accusing Israel coherently of multiple breaches of the Genocide Convention, cannot and will not be able to be suppressed. Because the mass of the population around the globe already know the truth of it. This is a huge blow to Zionist hegemony, from which it will never fully recover.

The hysterical attacks on democratic rights by pro-Zionist politicians and cops under orders from them (see this article) should not be tolerated. The fact that they are losing the masses makes them more, not less hysterical, and fuels likely all-out attacks on what democratic rights the masses have achieved under capitalism. The bourgeois cult of Zionism is potentially as dangerous as the cult of Adolf Hitler – maybe more so since Hitler never had nuclear weapons, nor today’s technology of surveillance and repression. The only way to fully safeguard democratic rights is the independent activity and politics of the working class. In circumstances like today, when reactionary, imperialist forces are flirting with all-out attacks on the democratic rights of the masses, it is necessary for socialists and communist to raise among the masses the need for mass-based organs of self-defence. What Leon Trotsky wrote in the period of the rise of Hitlerism has relevance today when pro-Zionist forces are attacking the rights of the masses:

“In connection with every strike and street demonstration, it is imperative to propagate the necessity of creating workers’ groups for self-defence. It is necessary to write this slogan into the program of the revolutionary wing of the trade unions. It is imperative wherever possible…to organize groups for self-defence, to drill and acquaint them with the use of arms.”

“It is necessary to give organized expression to the valid hatred of the workers toward scabs and bands of gangsters and fascists. It is necessary to advance the slogan of a workers’ militia as the one serious guarantee for the inviolability of workers’ organizations, meetings and press.”

Obviously, the technological basis of this has changed since the 1930s. Today’s media that needs defending is as likely to be online as in printed form. We could be faced with attacks with drones and electronic hacking, as well as imprisonment and torture of militants. We should also be aware that the techniques being used in Gaza will not inevitably be confined to there. It is entirely conceivable that mass murder by artificial intelligence could be in the arsenal of the ruling class faced with a revolutionary movement elsewhere. A ‘militia’ today would therefore not be simply a mechanical copy of Trotsky’s observations about “drilling” and “the use of arms”, though there would likely be elements of that.

The principle is the same. The working class once again faces potent threats to its democratic rights. We need militant mass-based organisation of the masses to defend these rights, if necessary, by physical force, and then to go over to the offensive against the class enemy in the concrete form that confronts us today. And just as in the 1930s, we need a class-conscious Marxist vanguard to provide the political impetus and leadership for that.

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