Does left-wing thought contain an inherent danger of anti-semitism?

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autogestión
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Aug 13 2018 19:24
Does left-wing thought contain an inherent danger of anti-semitism?

I recently read this article:

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ev8kxj/how-labour-could-start-to-solve-its-anti-semitism-crisis

I would be interested to hear people's views on it. This passage is especially worrying.

Quote:
To be on the left is to spend much of your time thinking about power relations between groups. Poor, weak countries bullied by the imperialism of aggressive wealthier powers; governments kowtowing to the whims of unaccountable lobbyists pushing the interests of brazen capital; the structural racism and sexism within Western society and its institutions.

And the problem which the left must address, if its fight for a more equitable society is to include Jews, is that a traditionally antisemitic worldview fits in very neatly into a leftist analysis of power structures. The German socialist August Bebel described antisemitism as "the socialism of fools", precisely because the wrong intellectual shortcuts can easily lead a dim leftist to the same conclusions as the far-right.

It is only a few steps from an interrogation of the influence of capital and lobbyists on governments to an interrogation of specifically Jewish capital and lobbyists on the functioning of the state. Denouncing military and economic superpowers bullying smaller countries into doing their bidding needs only a small prompt to include an outsize caricature of Israeli influence in international affairs, too.

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R Totale
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Aug 13 2018 20:31

I think the answer is that "left-wing thought" itself doesn't inherently do this*, but "wrong intellectual shortcuts" do, which is why people influenced by this line of ideas tend to place a lot of stress on the importance of understanding capital as a system, not a conspiracy by bad people. There's a lot to read on this stuff if you're interested - I've never actually read Postone myself, so I have no idea if he's at all readable, but like the Reflections on J18 collection has a lot of stuff about the dangers of simplistic caricatures of capital, Spencer Sunshine wrote about some of these issues in Occupy, and the final section of the Housing Monster, "Getting Rid of Monsters" also talks about similar problems.

*depending on how you define "left-wing" thought in the first place

ajjohnstone
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Aug 13 2018 22:12

Under the IHRA definition, the SPGB vision of world socialism and its case against nationalism and religion may well be considered anti-semitic...

autogestión
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Aug 13 2018 22:20

The IHRA definition of anti-semitism is deeply, deeply flawed. But the question was a bit broader than the current hoo-ha.

Black Badger
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Aug 14 2018 02:01

this pamphlet is a few years old, but the main points remain salient. the drift toward antisemitsm among leftists has a long history; the nationalist successes of zionism (and the alignment of the State of Israel with various imperialist agendas) has muddied the waters of taking a principled stand against the racism that specifically targets Jews. the idiots who equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism (especially recently with the pushback against BDS) should be exposed as charlatans who take their own (anti-)intellectual shortcuts, but it's also a fact that there is an antizionism that is clearly antisemitic (cf. Gilad Atzmon). the topic has been discussed here on libcom in other threads.

https://archive.org/details/ThePastDidntGoAnywhere

Spikymike
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Aug 14 2018 08:21

Mentioned this before on another thread but still relevant I think here;
https://intransigence.org/2018/07/09/zionism-and-marxism

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jef costello
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Aug 14 2018 08:55

Isn't a huge amount of far-right stuff these intellectual shortcuts? Don't these parties and organisations come from and feed on the dissatisfation and anger people feel by giving them a scapegoat?

Whether it's EU migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, jews, armenians, muslims, native people, communists or whoever, any solution to the problem that involves a scapegoat is likely to lead to this. Even the left scapegoating the rich is a bit of a problem, it isn't this bunch of feckless aristocrats/thieving plutocrats etc that is the problem, it is the system.

Left-wing thought, if we are talking about communism and anarchism, is about actually addressing these problems, and repudiating the "intellectual shortcuts", so a risk of anti-semitism is not inherent, it is anti-thetical. It is still possible because a simple answer will always be tempting, even though anarchists and communists have fought against this simple answer they can still get tired, disheartened etc.

If you are talking about the left-wing as in political parties then I think it is reaonably likely because they can either go aftert the bosses and ask them to be nice, or go after a minority.

Right-wingers who are anti-semitic love using anti-semitism, I find it both ridiculous and depressing, they are extremely happy to hypocritically use anti-semitism to attack the left or musllims. The party political left is much more llikely to tear itself apart over this, UKIP expels a member or two every couple of months for something like this without really caring. Probably because they are fully aware that the only problem with the party actually has with people being racist etc is if they do it on tape or in writing.

BigFluffyTail
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Aug 14 2018 11:53

Depends how we define "left-wing" of course but I'd say that those who identify capitalism with finance, which according them stops the "real economy" (still capitalism) from working properly have in their shitty "anticapitalism" a form of structural antisemitism, which lays the groundwork for full-blown open antisemitism. The Keynesian ATTAC organization is an example of this. For a good criticism of them see the review Oiseau-Tempête, among others.

Any left-wing nation-statist is prone to this really. These far-left groups are in their thinking of capitalism not substantially different from the far-right. They want to "protect" "the people" (an interclassist, nationalist notion) from a class of capitalists who would have no country (what is seen as bad here is less being a capitalist and more not being a capitalist for "our country"). These left-wing nationalists have a false consciousness that sees capitalists not as a personification of capital but as a group of rich guys conspiring in a dimly lit room. This view of capitalism generally applies to any "socialist" criticizing the sphere of circulation without criticizing the sphere of production. Mind you this doesn't pose a danger only to jewish people but to any metics or people considered strangers to a given country in general. In any case such nationalist notions pose a threat to any worldwide proletarian revolution. You can find criticisms of left-wing antisemitism with Postone, mentioned in above comments, among others.

Mike Harman
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Aug 14 2018 12:30

There's a good piece by Werner Bonefeld here, although a while since I read it: https://libcom.org/library/antisemitism-modern-critique-capitalism

The main Postone piece on anti-Semitism that gets cited is here: https://libcom.org/library/anti-semitism-national-socialism-moishe-postone

Also two shorter pieces written around the G8 in Berlin a few years back:

https://libcom.org/library/make-foreshortened-critique-capitalism-history-without-radical-critique-every-action-bec

https://libcom.org/library/%E2%80%9Cmake-foreshortened-critique-capitalism-history%E2%80%9D-reply-wine-cheese-appreciation-society-

The "foreshortened critique of capitalism" is a good jumping off point for thinking about this. i.e. a lot of the time the problem with capitalism is presented as inequality, not with the whole system of relations based on wage labour/commodities (99% vs. 1% the obvious example). Or particular countries which are worse to live in (or you're more likely to be bombed by) than others. All those things are true, but when critique is limited/simplified to that (i.e. foreshortened) then it's easy to see the cause of those things as the plotting of rich people or rich countries, and this can tend towards a conspiratorial world view and eventually anti-Semitism. A lot of people take this very defensively - i.e. 'talking about the G8 isn't anti-Semitic' or whatever, but the point isn't that anyone with an foreshortened critique of capitalism is anti-Semitic but that it leaves space open for conspiracism and/or explicit anti-Semitism to develop - without being accompanied by a critique of social relations as such.

A big thing for me is that a lot of people are not very well equipped to talk about social relations in a useful way (it's especially hard to do in short pieces of writing about other things). It would be really good if instead of bad faith accusations and unwarranted defensiveness people thought more about how anti-Semitic tropes (corruption, parasitism and similar) can end up getting expressed by people who if challenged would definitely not consider themselves anti-Semitic. And this is a reason why the Postone conception of anti-Semitism as not simply a variation of scapegoatism is useful.

As well as trying to understand how conspiracism takes root (via people pushing those personalised/foreshortened narratives), I think it's also worth discussing why structural techniques take hold.

For example we can end up talking entirely about social relations and not about human agency at all - or a lot of anarchist and communist writing flattens differences out because "it's all capitalism". Vast numbers of flat comparisons between chattel slavery and wage labour, or sometimes worse than this when it's assumed that slaves being 'capital' means that slave owners wouldn't destroy them, or phrases like 'all states are imperialist' which a lot of 'anti-imperialist leftists' insert an 'equally' into). Continuity doesn't mean things are the same, differences doesn't mean there's no continuity or overall system involved.

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Juan Conatz
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Aug 14 2018 12:30

I'm not sure if the danger is inherent to the thought, but definitely any left-wing movement in places with a cultural and/or historical tradition of antisemitism (Europe, Middle East) inherently contains some danger.

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spacious
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Aug 14 2018 18:30

I find it interesting, and in a way troubling, that people who I find pretty good in their understanding of capitalism as a system, like Moishe Postone and Robert Kurz, also use their critique to warn against antisemitism as a trap for left thought, but that they extend this to positions of support for Israel. While I fully agree with the former - bad thinking leads to seeing social conditions as the result of evil people's actions - I don't see how the latter is a defensible position, other than for the purpose of not ending up on the same (wholly fictitious) 'side' as actual anti-semites who actually do hate Israel for being Jewish.

I'm actually not sure if Postone and Kurz themselves have done so (do set me straight on this if you know), but their work has played a role in tendencies that take this position (like anti-germans, perhaps others?). For libertarians, I wonder how opposing anti-semitism can lead one to support (literally any kind) of state power, especially if also racist, settler-colonialism, etc. even if only in the abstract form of supporting its "right to exist". I don't think the political/military leadership of Israel is exceptionally evil, in the end they are only a capitalist state among many, and in an important dimension, they only play their role internationally as a kind of outpost of Western/Nato power and geopolitics.

I really don't see how you can abstract away from all that and declare this the most proper form of opposing and fighting against anti-semitism. I'm of course interested to hear other takes on this.

autogestión
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Aug 14 2018 22:53

I wanna read Postone, but I'm put off by the fact that "The Newstatesman" seem to love him

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/03/combat-left-anti-semitism-corbynism-must-change-way-it-sees-world

I guess that's another intellectual "shortcut" that should be resisted smile

autogestión
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Aug 14 2018 23:34
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As well as trying to understand how conspiracism takes root (via people pushing those personalised/foreshortened narratives), I think it's also worth discussing why structural techniques take hold.

To be honest, I would benefit from a better understanding of what "conspiracism" is and is not. There are clear cases of conspiracy theories (moon landings, Elders of Zion etc.), and of purely structural accounts of the world, but it's difficult to draw a clear border between them.

Meanwhile, some people seem to shout "conspiracy theory" any time anyone suggests more than three people might have met and agreed some common plan of action.

Mike Harman
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Aug 15 2018 00:24
spacious wrote:
I find it interesting, and in a way troubling, that people who I find pretty good in their understanding of capitalism as a system, like Moishe Postone and Robert Kurz, also use their critique to warn against antisemitism as a trap for left thought..

I'm actually not sure if Postone and Kurz themselves have done so (do set me straight on this if you know), but their work has played a role in tendencies that take this position (like anti-germans, perhaps others?)

One time I saw someone thinking Postone was German and based in Germany because the anti-germans love him so much whereas afaik he was Canadian.

I haven't read massive amounts of Postone, and less Kurz, but I've not seen them do this anywhere - maybe they have but I've only ever seen it brought up the way you have - i.e. because they're popular with these groups.

For example, this piece by Bookchin for the Burlington Free Press 1986 has gone around the past couple of years to suggest he was a full-on Zionist). Have seen it used by people who claim that Rojava is a Zionist plot to destabilise Syria for example (due to the US military support of the PYG), but with this as some kind of founding myth from Bookchin via Ocalan. If that has happened with Bookchin, who I don't think wrote about Israel anywhere else, then I'd expect an explicit statement from Postone or Kurz to have been highlighted as well. Whether their ideas actually support anti-germans or whether it's a mis-representation is a different question though.

Mike Harman
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Aug 15 2018 00:47
autogestión wrote:
I wanna read Postone, but I'm put off by the fact that "The Newstatesman" seem to love him

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/03/combat-left-anti-semitism-corbynism-must-change-way-it-sees-world

I guess that's another intellectual "shortcut" that should be resisted :)

One of the co-authors of that is FH Pitts who also wrote this: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03085147.2017.1397360 (academic site, but open access to the PDF) - which I thought was a good critique of machine-fragmentism (and by an extension a lot of 'post-capitalist' Labour figures), but I don't know what his politics are like beyond that and this NS piece. I think that's a case of the NS hating Corbyn so much they allowed a piece referencing Postone in just because it critiqued Corbyn, you can blame the authors for opportunistically pitching to the NS but I'm not sure you can blame Postone. This was also around the time Postone died and there were a few obituaries going around.

I'm not particularly keen on Postone (there's a limit of how much value form stuff I can take) just think like most people his work should be taken on what he wrote and who he worked with, as opposed to the fan base. If he's actually put forward pro-Israel positions, or if there's a good critique of his work being used to support those positions (beyond left anti-semitism is bad) it would be good to know.

autogestión wrote:
To be honest, I would benefit from a better understanding of what "conspiracism" is and is not. There are clear cases of conspiracy theories (moon landings, Elders of Zion etc.), and of purely structural accounts of the world, but it's difficult to draw a clear border between them.

I started a thread on it here, but it didn't go very far, when the ICC published a piece positively quoting Seymour Hersh, who's recently been getting information from Generation Identity supporter and David Duke podcast guest Maram Susli (via Theodor Postol) and appearing on Infowars.

https://libcom.org/forums/news/syria-campism-conspiracy-theory-26062018

To try to summarise where I think this comes from and the implications, been thinking of trying to write properly about it, but it's hard to do. Skipping references because I'm short on time, there are some links in the other thread or I can dig them up if needed.

- internationalist opposition to war is opposed to military intervention by states under any circumstances. i.e. it's a principle that can operate regardless of the current geopolitical situation, 'no war but the class war' etc..

- Therefore, a principled opposition to the Iraq War in 2002/3 would have been anti-war and anti-militarist, regardless of whether Saddam had 'weapons of mass destruction' or if there was UN support.

- At the time, and even more since, a tonne of effort was spent on legalistic stuff about UN resolutions and whether the dodgy dossier was evidence of WMDs or not. Notably this was because there was a vast amount of skepticism at the time from mainstream commentators and organisations.

- For some people this is a 'pragmatic' position that theoretically might have delayed or halted the war. Obviously the dossier was fabricated, this is widely accepted even in the mainstream press etc., but even though this was the case, pointing this out didn't help to stop anything (and nor did the massive protests, but that's a different though related problem).

- However the converse of the 'dodgy dossier', 'illegal war' argument, is that if the dossier was genuine, then it would have been absolutely right and proper to invade Iraq - which is not an anti-war position at all, but describes the position of a lot of MPs etc. i.e. it's a legalistic opposition to a specific war at best.

- Blair/Bush fabricating the dossier was a conspiracy (although not a very sophisticated one since major international institutions were arguing against them at the time), so you could call this a 'conspiracy theory', but for me 'conspiracism' or the tendency towards it, is when the conspiracy theory (whether accurate or not) becomes the basis of the politics. i.e. from 'no war but the class war' to 'Saddam Hussein didn't have WMDs so the war was illegal'.

- Because of the widespread view of Iraq as an illegal war based on fabricated evidence. There has been an extension of this to claiming that any justification the US uses to intervene militarily is likely to be fabricated. i.e. that the ability of the US to go to war or not is based on whether it can stitch up the target with fake propaganda, and debunking that propaganda is the way to challenge the war.

- we then (maybe skipping a step) get to a whole network of sites like infowars, globalresearch, 21st Century Wire (Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and PartisanGirl seem to be the main sources of these - Bartlett has been on official visits to Syria invited by Assad and photographed with him) which insist that chemical attacks in Syria are either completely fake, false flag attacks by ISIS or Israel, that the White Helmets are training child actors, and various other stuff.

- much more respected/mainstream people like Fisk, Hersh, Max Blumenthal, and Chomsky repeat some of those narratives or reference some of these people, sometimes one or two steps removed, sometimes not.

- now you not only have 'no war but the class war' being replaced with 'well actually Assad didn't do that', but you also have various prominent anti-war figures associating with any random arsehole who comes out with similar sounding stuff.

There are so many problems here, but some of them:

1. Whether or not Assad has used chemical weapons, he's used vast amounts of conventional weapons to bomb civilians for years now - this is not an innocent anti-imperialist socialist state being slandered by the US. There's a good chance that after winning the civil war, Assad will continue as the head of the Syrian state with at least tacit support from the US. Prior to 2014 there's pictures of him having perfectly genial conversations and dinners with John Kerry, Syria was involved in the CIA rendition program etc. He's been criticised over treatment of Palestinian refugees in Syria as well as being relatively pro-Israel.

2. You can still oppose a US bombing campaign against someone who's used chemical weapons or was involved in CIA rendition.

3. There are various regional powers involved in Syria (Iran, Russia, for example) and focusing on 'false flags' completely ignores their role, or at worst justifies it as anti-imperialist interventionism against the US.

4. If you wanted to discredit anti-militarism, then associating with far right conspiracy theorists who go on funded trips to Damascus and get photoshoots with Assad, appearing on InfoWars etc. would be the way to do it. Given Infowars has claimed Sandy Hook shooting victims are child actors etc.

5. Actual proletarian internationalism means support for the Syrian working class - both those that remain and refugees. The idea that Assad isn't really that bad, and that civilians are gassing themselves because they're ISIS terrorists, is being used to undermine support for Syrian refugees to Europe (i.e. this is Susli's line).

6. Also proletarian internationalism would mean a proper look and critique at the original 2014 uprising. It seems to have been more of a democratic uprising than a class insurrection, but there is stuff like this which is definitely worth looking at: https://libcom.org/library/experience-local-councils-syrian-revolution. Even if you end up concluding that the original uprising was very limited, this is completely different from saying it was ISIS/Al Qaeda terrorists funded by the US. Similarly you can be very critical of Rojava without thinking it's a Zionist plot.

7. As well as the campist/conspiracists, there's also a whole set of people who have been spending time investigating these links (Louis Proyect being one). Some of those people will be genuinely anti-war who just think this tendency is completely fucked, some of them will be soft interventionists (i.e. in favour of an international actor taking out Assad). For example I think Burning Country co-author Leila Al-Shami is genuinely anti-war (mostly focused on trying to excavate the local councils etc. but also critical of the conspiracists/campists), but her co-author Robin Yassin-Kassab has not been - supported a specific air strike by Turkey iirc.

8. The anti-conspiracy people in turn get described as conspiracy theorists (or part of a NATO conspiracy) in that they're repeating US narratives of events, obsessed with Putin directing everything from Russia etc. Of course there is this entire US anti-Trump conservative/right wing liberal #Resistance thing where Trump is a Russian agent controlled by Putin who stole the election etc.

This is another thread where things came up: https://libcom.org/forums/north-america/wwp-splitting-16072018 which shows how the WWP (which is broadly both pro-Rojava and pro-Assad) ended up with a split from a branch that thinks Rojava is a Zionist-NATO project.

And this is a long article on some links between the US Marcyite WWP and PSL parties and figures like Beeley: https://libcom.org/library/investigation-red-brown-alliances-third-positionism-russia-ukraine-syria-western-left

Conspiracism is not the right word for all of this, but there is crossover with proper conspiracy shit like Infowars.

Some of it is campist anti-imperialism (Sam Marcy's global class war is the theoretical basis of a lot of this, coming out of his support for the USSR against the Hungarian uprising).

Some of it is people working with anyone who's 'anti-war'.

Yet another example - the PSL nominated Roseanne Barr for president (for the California Peace and Freedom Party which is some kind of front arrangement that can run presidential candidates) - Barr has recently been pushing QAnon which is one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories of the past several decades.

There are earlier precursors like when Living Marxism claimed Channel 4 had faked a 1992 photo of a camp in Serbia https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/mar/15/medialaw.media2 - the resultant libel case that they lost is why it got reinvented as Spiked Online. Or the claim that Hungary '56 was the work of the US and a CIA Nazi-stay-behind operation which was the USSR's justification at the time and is still repeated by people like Ben Norton.

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spacious
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Aug 16 2018 06:58
Mike Harman wrote:
spacious wrote:
I find it interesting, and in a way troubling, that people who I find pretty good in their understanding of capitalism as a system, like Moishe Postone and Robert Kurz, also use their critique to warn against antisemitism as a trap for left thought..

I'm actually not sure if Postone and Kurz themselves have done so (do set me straight on this if you know), but their work has played a role in tendencies that take this position (like anti-germans, perhaps others?)

One time I saw someone thinking Postone was German and based in Germany because the anti-germans love him so much whereas afaik he was Canadian.

I haven't read massive amounts of Postone, and less Kurz, but I've not seen them do this anywhere - maybe they have but I've only ever seen it brought up the way you have - i.e. because they're popular with these groups.

No problem but you quoted me taking out the part that I have problems with (the extending one's opposition to anti-semitism to support for Israel part). But I should have been clearer.

As for the latter part - great, I was hoping that was the case: that it's others basing themselves on this work against anti-semitism as a mode of thought, and extending it in their own way.

Mike Harman
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Aug 16 2018 07:50

Well that only goes for Postone though, this by Robert Kurz looks pretty staunchly pro-Israel to me: https://www.exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=transnationales&index=2&posnr=150&backtext1=text1.php

Also just remembered this by Postone. The AWL are very ropey and I'd normally avoid linking to them, but it's not anywhere else: https://www.workersliberty.org/story/2010/02/05/zionism-anti-semitism-and-left

An excerpt:

Postone wrote:
Q. How much do you think anti-semitism today is tied up with attitudes to Israel? It seems to us that a strand in the attitudes of some left-wing forces towards Israel has anti-semitic implications. That is the strand which desires not just criticism and change of Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians, but the abolition of Israel as such, and a world where all other nation states would exist but not Israel. From that viewpoint, to be a Jew, to feel some common identity with other Jews and thus usually with the Jews of Israel, is to be a “Zionist”, and that is as abhorrent as being a racist.

A. [...] As for the third strand, there has been a change in the last ten years or so, starting with the Palestinian movement itself, with regard to the existence of Israel. For years most Palestinian organizations refused to accept the existence of Israel. In 1988, however, the PLO decided that it would accept the existence of Israel. The second intifada, which begun in 2000, was politically very different from the first intifada, and entailed a reversal of that decision.

I regard that as having been a fundamental political mistake, and I think it is remarkable and unfortunate that the Left has gotten caught up in it and, increasingly, is calling for the abolition of Israel. However, today in the Middle East there are roughly as many Jews as there are Palestinians. Any strategy based on analogies to situations like Algeria or South Africa simply won’t work, on demographic as well as political and historical grounds.

Why is it that people don’t see what the situation is today, and try to see if there is akind of resolution to what is essentially a national conflict that could free up progressive politics? To subsume the conflict under the rubric of colonialism misrecognizes the situation. Unlike those who have subsumed progressive politics under the national struggle, I think that so long as the struggle is focused on the existence of Israel and the existence of Palestine, progressive struggles are undermined. People who regard the struggle against the existence of Israel as progressive are taking something reactionary and regarding it as progressive.

....

Yet, frequently, this form of anti-Zionism is inconsistent – it is willing to accord national self-determination to most peoples, but not to Jews. It is at this point that what presents itself as abstractly universal becomes ideological. Moreover, the meaning of such abstract universalism itself changes with historical context. After the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel, this abstract universalism serves to veil the history of Jews in Europe. This fulfils a very useful, historically “cleansing” dual function: the violence historically perpetrated by Europeans on Jews is erased; at the same time the horrors of European colonialism now become attributed to the Jews.

It looks like he's objecting to an exceptionalism of Israel, particularly among people who are not consistently against the nation state as such - i.e. that framing Israel/Palestine in the terms of two competing nation states is the wrong approach in the first place. Most of it is framed as a critique of other tendencies though, I don't think he puts his own position clearly enough here though. There's a section later in the interview where he talks about Israel being seen as uniquely powerful and as an influence on British/American foreign policy (as opposed to being an outpost of British/American imperialism) where he describes the former view as anti-Semitic - although a structural anti-Semitism rather than an explicit one.

You could also read this as apologetics from Israel, from either a pro-Israel or anti-Israel position, but even if you do it's useful for me for thinking through where the various boundaries are.

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Aug 19 2018 10:41
Mike Harman wrote:
Well that only goes for Postone though, this by Robert Kurz looks pretty staunchly pro-Israel to me: https://www.exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=transnationales&index=2&posnr=150&backtext1=text1.php

Also just remembered this by Postone. The AWL are very ropey and I'd normally avoid linking to them, but it's not anywhere else: https://www.workersliberty.org/story/2010/02/05/zionism-anti-semitism-and-left

Thank you for the links/excerpts, I'll give it a proper read later this week.

mn8
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Aug 25 2018 07:45

We need to be cautious around these discussions. The question of whether the left-wing is anti-Semitic is often just a right-wing or liberal smear to justify continual stigmatising of the left - especially if the 'left-wing' cast doubt on pro-Israeli policies. It draws on treating the left-wing as exotic and disturbing. Labour have ruled that accusing a bourgeois politician of some collusion with vested interests is inherently anti-Semitic, due to the complaints of that politician. As pointed out, the IHRA definition would tend to label many leftist organisations as 'anti-Semitic' spuriously. So is the left 'inherently anti-Semitic,' in the sense used by the right-wing Labourites and several Zionist conservatives? Yes. However, that does not discredit the left at all.

It seems peculiar that the apparent problem is leftists 'looking into power-relations.' Does any political tendency ignore them?

It also seems peculiar to assert that a view of these 'power-relations' is inherently associated with a view on Jews. How would you get from there to discussing 'Jews'? That seems to imply that Jews would have an intrinsic relation to these social structures, which would make criticism of them tend to arise from this. Other than that, the claim that we should be circumspect around noticing the social relations of a system is suspect. I'm sure that the ruling class would appreciate this piousness. Likewise, anti-Semitism need not be socialistic, although just like bourgeois liberalism it can deal with similar themes when it looks into capitalist society - because these are traits of capitalistic society. I always assumed that the 'socialism of fools' would resemble Bebel's own teachings. It's not clear what the connection of social analysis is with anti-Semitiam unless we have an explanation of why looking into power structures is inherently racial and anti-Semitic.

For instance:

Quote:
It is only a few steps from an interrogation of the influence of capital and lobbyists on governments to an interrogation of specifically Jewish capital and lobbyists on the functioning of the state. Denouncing military and economic superpowers bullying smaller countries into doing their bidding needs only a small prompt to include an outsize caricature of Israeli influence in international affairs, too.

This seems to cast suspicion on leftist views, but it's never made clear what these 'few steps' are that seem naturally implicit in the leftist views. While it is treated as a self-evident progression, it isn't entirely clear why.

Spikymike
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Joined: 6-01-07
Oct 24 2018 10:58

Postone and Kurz don't get everything right but they are still worth reading and have useful insights into the functioning of modern global capitalism.
In addition to the useful linked texts referred to in the Posts #6 and #9 above maybe this easy to read contribution from the spgb (a consistently anti-nationalist and anti-zionist group if you overlook their parliamentary confusions) is worth noting:
https://worldsocialism.org/spgb/pamphlet/why-socialists-oppose-zionism-and-anti-semitism/

Black Badger
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Joined: 21-03-07
Oct 24 2018 13:38

there's also this

https://intransigence.org/2018/07/09/zionism-and-marxism/?fbclid=IwAR0f_mVmmMfedv5et0QjpA6I70zPbxRIZccbJoHFte79BOzRmlqfm0BNOnE