Working Class Political Theory - Israel, Palestine and The Lebanon

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 20 2006 12:58

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revol68 wrote:
Let me be fucking clear, if i supported a palestinian state i would call for it, if I want to see the removal of IDF checkpoints, curfews and incursions I argue against the occupation.

This makes sense. In calling for an end to the occupation though, unless you've got a radical proposal that we’re not aware of, you’re just replacing IDF checkpoints, curfews and incursions with UN checkpoints, curfews and incursions.

Love

LR

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 20 2006 16:17
Lazy Riser wrote:
In calling for an end to the occupation though, unless you've got a radical proposal that we’re not aware of, you’re just replacing IDF checkpoints, curfews and incursions with UN checkpoints, curfews and incursions.

Why not no incursions? Hamas are on the verge of recognising Israel, and a period of peace would allow Jewish and Arab workers to come into everyday contact, like they used to.

The kibbutzes, by the way, were an attempt to create an entirely Jewish workforce and edge the local Arabs out of their role in the economy. There are kibbutzes in illegally occupied territory, so I don't think they represent anything than a leftist slant on the colonial project.

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 20 2006 17:09

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Why not no incursions?

Oh they might just feel like it. A bit like World Food Programme personnel feel like a blow job for a biscuit.

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Hamas are on the verge of recognising Israel

That’s what revol68 said. You’ve taken the thread full circle, please move it forward. Let me refer you to the post, it’s towards the bottom, search for “32 County” (without quotes).

http://libcom.org/node/8937?page=1

Love

LR

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 20 2006 17:28
Lazy Riser wrote:
That’s what revol68 said.

In the context of people assuming that there's going to be perpetual war, it's worth saying.

Beltov
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Aug 20 2006 19:42
revol68 wrote:
I look to the space created by the resistance to IDF occupation to allow the development of a working class movement that can challenge Hamas or Fatah's attempt to extend their graps over the working class... I oppose the occupation because without the removal of IDF checkpoints and curfews there can be no hope for a serious working class movement in Palestine. It's not even that the IDF just go, but rather in the struggle against the occupation, in the spaces this affords, there is the small chance that working class Israeli's and Palestinians can come to recognise each other.

I think you're putting the cart before the horse here. It's only the class struggle that can stay the hand of the bourgeoisie. Why does the working class in Palestine need 'unoccupied spaces' before it can struggle? Surely the struggles themselves could be the best focus for solidarity where workers on both sides of the national divides can 'come to recognise each other'?

What social force is going to push back the IDF? The 'Palestinian people'? What form is this struggle going to take? Riots, terrorism, 'guerilla' action, all of which are NOT proletarian methods of struggle?

The deepening of the economic crisis - and the heavy cost of the war in Lebanon in financial terms - will inevitably lead to attacks being made upon the working class in the Middle East, and there is a likelihood that class struggles will break out in the region. But given the weight of nationalist and religious ideology in the region we have to accept that it isn't going to be the epicentre of the revolution, which will lie in western Europe and the USA where significant struggles have developed over the past three years. It's these struggles that are showing the way forward for the working class in the Middle East.

ICC wrote:
In the Middle East the spiral of nationalist conflicts has made class struggle very difficult, but it still exists – in demonstrations of unemployed Palestinian workers against the Palestinian authorities, in strikes by Israeli public sector workers against the government’s austerity budgets. But the most likely source of a breach in the wall of war and hatred in the Middle East lies outside the region – in the growing struggle of the workers in the central capitalist countries. The best example of class solidarity we can give to the populations suffering the direct horrors of imperialist war in the Middle East is to develop the struggle that has already been launched by the workers-to-be in the French schools and universities , by the metal workers of Vigo in Spain, the postal workers of Belfast or the airport workers of London.
http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/july_06_middle_east

B.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 20 2006 20:34
Beltov wrote:
But given the weight of nationalist and religious ideology in the region we have to accept that it isn't going to be the epicentre of the revolution, which will lie in western Europe and the USA where significant struggles have developed over the past three years. It's these struggles that are showing the way forward for the working class in the Middle East.

If you think that Europe or North Am is going to be the epicentre of a revolution any time soon you're having a laugh. IIRC the Fifth Internationalists also think that France et al are having pre-revolutionary upheavals, but they're truly deluded.

As for Europe 'leading the way' for the Middle Easterners, I don't think that'll happen, seeing as leftism in that area is seen as a failed European ideology that failed to carry over. What's more likely is continued rise in Islamic political groups and other nationalists.

jack white
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Aug 20 2006 21:00
Beltov wrote:
But given the weight of nationalist and religious ideology in the region we have to accept that it isn't going to be the epicentre of the revolution, which will lie in western Europe and the USA where significant struggles have developed over the past three years. It's these struggles that are showing the way forward for the working class in the Middle East.

Yes, I'm sure the postal strike in Belfast will give Palestinains stuck in enclaves and denied oppertunity for employment plenty of great ideas about how to bring their own struggle forward.

Or maybe the struggle against the CPE will spark some ideas?
Picture the conversation:

Ali: Hey, look at what those kids in Paris managed to achieve - what we need to do is start mass demonstartions and college walkouts.

Ahmed: Hmmm I dunno Ali. Since we're not in college or work what are we going to walk out of? Maybe we should try to do something about the IDF incursions into Gaza or the land grabs occuring because of that fucking huge fence the israeli's are building instead?

Ali: No comrade thats not an internationalsit position. Why don't we draw strength from the way postal workers from both sides of the sectarian divide in Belfast who are part of a trade union movement which has promoted anti sectarian attitudes for years managed to go on strike against their bosses?

Ahmed; Well I don't know if thats relevant to me my friend. I tell you what - why don't we try to do something about the way settlers have access to raods that we don't? Thats an issue bound to have resonance with a lot of people. Remember the way Fatima had to give birth at the army checkpoint and her baby died? A lot of people got really angry about that...

Ali: I don't see how this is going to provide an oppertunity for us to struggle alongside the Israeli working class and build real working class power in this region.

Ahmed: Well I don't have any contct with the Israei working class...

Ali: nationalist!

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Alf
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Aug 20 2006 21:03

Revol wrote:

"Sorry but you are being a twisting lil Bordigan ball bag again. I never suggested there could be no "class struggle" until there were "unoccupied" spaces, rather I was arguing that the struggle against the occupation ie road blocks, militarist incursions, kidnap, shellings were actually forms of "class struggle". My point was that these forms of "class struggle" had to be undertaken in order to further the creation of further struggles in which Palestinian and Israeli workers could forge common interests ie it's a fucking dialetic. The struggle against roadblocks, the wall, and military incursions etc via methods that allows some Israeli's and Palestinians to recognise each other and overlapping interests, in turn creates the conditions that allows for the extension of struggles, giving a material base on which to strive for further unity further self recognition in struggle".

Flaming aside, until you tell us exactly what you mean by struggles against "roadblocks, the wall, and militaristic incursions", this discussion will go round in circles. What examples of authentically proletarian forms of struggle against these phenomena can you point to?

jack white
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Aug 20 2006 21:16
Alf wrote:
Revol wrote:

Flaming aside, until you tell us exactly what you mean by struggles against "roadblocks, the wall, and militaristic incursions", this discussion will go round in circles. What examples of authentically proletarian forms of struggle against these phenomena can you point to?

Whats the acid test Alf? I find it hard to know what you mean a lot of the time. Can you give me some examples of authentically proletarian forms of struggle?

Is it wrong full stop for people to try and change things like roadblocks, incursions etc if they can't use these forms of struggle?

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Aug 20 2006 22:01

What forms of struggle? That's the question. The problem facing the proletariat in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq at the moment is that its profound anger, its will to struggle, against the humiliations doled out daily by the occupying forces are being continuously recuperated by the bourgeoisie, through nationalism and religion, in a context of imperialist war. This was the case with the riots of the 'intifada'; it's the case in Iraq, whatever the fantasies of the GCI and others like them; it was patently the case with the armed 'resistance' to the invasion of Lebanon, which was entirely channeled through Hizbollah. That's why I asked Revol to be specific and give examples of struggles which in his view have not been recuperated by the forces of capital.

john
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Aug 20 2006 22:07
Alf wrote:
What examples of authentically proletarian forms of struggle against these phenomena can you point to?

how do we distinguish between authentic proletarian forms of struggle and fake ones?

jack white
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Aug 20 2006 22:10

Apologies if I wasn't clear.

I'm actually asking you to list some authentically proletarian forms of struggle. They don't have to have been used in Palestine / Israel or Lebanon. I'm just not sure what you mean by the phrase.

As a follow up what i wanted to ask was whether or not you thought it was wrong to use any other forms of struggle to try and change things like roadblocks, incursions etc?

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Aug 20 2006 22:36

OK: some recent clearly authentic forms of proletarian struggle: Belfast postal workers, Heathrow workers, students' strikes in France, metal workers strikes in Vigo. Struggles around issues directly connected to exploitation: jobs, wages, precarity, etc. United across racial, religious, sexual and trade union divisions. Used authentically proletarian forms of organisation like strikes, pickets, demonstrations, mass assemblies, elected and revocable delegates. With regard to Israel and Palestine I cited strikes by israeli public sector workers for wage increases, and demonstrations by unemployed Palestinian workers against the Palestine Authority which was (from memory) not giving them the benefits they were due.

It's quite true that not all proletarian struggles are as clear cut as this. The majority are channeled through the unions, but they are still struggles for specifically working class interests. Struggles of unemployed workers can't use exactly the same methods either, and can be more easily mixed up with the actions of other oppressed strata, or pushed towards non-proletarian forms of struggle (as in the November riots in France). But unemployed workers coming out onto the street and demanding increased dole money, or resisting evictions, is and has always been an authentically proletarian form of struggle.

It's also true that proletarian struggles often raise political demands also, even when they are not overtly revolutionary ones: like freeing prisoners taken in the struggle; like pushing back the state's forces of repression.

The problem in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon is that, given the context of war, the bourgeoisie is largely monopolising the "political" terrain. It has a huge ideological and military apparatus at its disposal, with deep roots in the 'people', which is there to take charge of almost every protest against the occupying forces and lock it in the nationalist jail. That's what Hizbollah and Hamas are there for.

ticking_fool
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Aug 21 2006 08:54
Quote:
The problem in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon is that, given the context of war, the bourgeoisie is largely monopolising the "political" terrain. It has a huge ideological and military apparatus at its disposal, with deep roots in the 'people', which is there to take charge of almost every protest against the occupying forces and lock it in the nationalist jail.

And yet, the occupation is probably the defining feature of life for all of the Palestinian working class and a significant proportion of the Israeli working class (through conscription, suicide/rocket attacks and so on). Yes, Palestinians are angry at the PA for x,y and z, but they're far more angry at the IDF for demolishing their homes, destroying their farms, holding them at checkpoints day after day, denying them food, medicine and any means of gaining these things and so on and so on. Your position effectively says 'there is nothing you can do about things, so start bitching about the wages you may or may not have'.

That's woefully inadequate. I say again, if internationalism can't offer any alternative to nationalism or imperialism on the same ground that they compete then it is worthless. This is an extremely difficult situation without easy answers. But class struggle doesn't just happen in factories and the bosses don't all wear top hats.

If the ruling class is there 'to lock all protest in the nationalist jail' they must be locking something up. The questions are: are there proletarian strands in the resistance to occupation, how can they gain their own autonomy and, lastly, is there anything we can do to help from the outside. Refusing to ask any of these questions on the spurious grounds that it would be to pick imperialist sides or get involved in the question of borders is not taking an internationalist position, it's declaring that there isn't one and abandoning the field to the nationalists.

john
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Aug 21 2006 09:25
Alf wrote:
OK: some recent clearly authentic forms of proletarian struggle: Belfast postal workers, Heathrow workers, students' strikes in France, metal workers strikes in Vigo. Struggles around issues directly connected to exploitation: jobs, wages, precarity, etc. United across racial, religious, sexual and trade union divisions. Used authentically proletarian forms of organisation like strikes, pickets, demonstrations, mass assemblies, elected and revocable delegates. With regard to Israel and Palestine I cited strikes by israeli public sector workers for wage increases, and demonstrations by unemployed Palestinian workers against the Palestine Authority which was (from memory) not giving them the benefits they were due.

It's quite true that not all proletarian struggles are as clear cut as this. The majority are channeled through the unions, but they are still struggles for specifically working class interests. Struggles of unemployed workers can't use exactly the same methods either, and can be more easily mixed up with the actions of other oppressed strata, or pushed towards non-proletarian forms of struggle (as in the November riots in France). But unemployed workers coming out onto the street and demanding increased dole money, or resisting evictions, is and has always been an authentically proletarian form of struggle.

It's also true that proletarian struggles often raise political demands also, even when they are not overtly revolutionary ones: like freeing prisoners taken in the struggle; like pushing back the state's forces of repression.

The problem in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon is that, given the context of war, the bourgeoisie is largely monopolising the "political" terrain. It has a huge ideological and military apparatus at its disposal, with deep roots in the 'people', which is there to take charge of almost every protest against the occupying forces and lock it in the nationalist jail. That's what Hizbollah and Hamas are there for.

labourism = communism

Isn't this even more economistic than Lenin?

Didn't Lukacs, Gramsci, E.P. Thompson, Stuart Hall all make significant improvements in this area?

can't we do anything other than strike for wage increases?

It all sounds a bit old fashioned, and boring, to me, to be honest.

It also sounds like just having another go at the same kind of politics that has dominated working class politics since Karl and Friedrich published their Manifesto. If it hasn't worked by now, isn't it time to try something a bit different?

MalFunction
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Aug 21 2006 10:12

i notice in this article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1853691,00.html

that the resistance to to the IDF in Lebanon included people opposed to Hezbollah, including Amal and "communists".

i don't think there is a "working-class" repsonse to armed attack, except either getting out of the way quickly, hiding or taking up arms to resist it.

the various nationalisms feed off eachother so longer term the need is for some form of peaceful co-existence that will allow the space for other forms of struggle.

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Aug 21 2006 10:15

Hi

Quote:
the need is for some form of peaceful co-existence that will allow the space for other forms of struggle.

Yeah man. We should drop a love bomb. Seriously.

Boom!

LR

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Aug 21 2006 12:00

First of all, I'm clearly not just talking about struggles in factories for wages - I also pointed to struggles by workers in full or semi-unemployment, which is obviously the situation many Palestinian proletarians face.

Secondly, I am not ruling out the possibility of proletarian struggles against the effects of the occupation. I am simply trying to be lucid about the current situation in the occupied zones: that the balance of class forces is not in our favour. This is why I have asked for specific examples of resistance to occupation that has not been totally recuperated by the 'Resistance', and so far no one has answered me.

I am not at all refusing to ask the questions that Ticking Fool poses:
"are there proletarian strands in the resistance to occupation, how can they gain their own autonomy and, lastly, is there anything we can do to help from the outside".

I am warning against a facile underestimation of the difficuties facing the working class and revolutionaries. After the invasion of Lebanon the pressure to fall in with the 'support the resistance' line has got even stronger - witness the last 'anti-war' demo in London. We also have a clear negative example to avoid: so-called communist groups like the GCI who make an amalgam between class struggle and nationalist/terrorist actions against the occupation in Iraq.

There are times when the bourgeoisie has so dominated the political terrain that the working class has to 'go back to basics' and return to the economic terrain. This is why in response to the mobilisation of the working class behind democracy and anti-fascism in Spain in the 30s, the Italian left called for a revival of 'defensive' struggles as a way of re-establishing the basic class line. This is not economistic. Even in periods of the mass strike, as Luxemburg showed, there is a process of ebb and flow when the workers' demands go from the economic to the political and then back to the economic, before returning to the political at a higher, more offensive level.

john
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Aug 21 2006 12:58

for me, it's economistic to postulate a clear distinction between "economic" and "political" spheres in the first place

everything (or, rather, nothing) is economic and political - so there can be no ebbing and flowing between the two

there are no lines between the 2 - to claim there is is to fall into a (Leninist) dead-end of prioritizing certain forms of domination over others

to me, we can emphasize domination in terms of its scale (which is the most oppressive) but not in terms of its form (why do you dislike "economic" oppression more than "political" oppression - and how could we ever distinguish between these anyway?)

baboon
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Aug 21 2006 14:40

Certainly the minds of people and workers around Israel and Lebanon are centred on the question of war. The same goes for Iraq and Afghanistan, Palestinain enclaves and various other war zones that are neglected by the media. War is an important question for the whole working class and the question of Lebanon\Israel now and what it means is also an important question in the metropoles of capitalism.
Are there proletarian strands to the resistance? It doesn't look it and Hezbollah seems to be the resistance. If there are, are they likely to become autonomous. If such strands exist (and I don't know for sure they don't) then it is likely that Hezbollah would very quickly put an end to them. How can we help? By taking a clear political position and disseminating it as widely as possible. Internationalism is the alternative to nationalism and imperialist. It is the only alternative. If elements of the working class in Lebanon or Israel were to develop automous action they would have to do so against Hezbollah and the Israeli bourgeoisie. They would have to tend towards an internationalist position, even if their struggles were localised. The clearest form of "help" is to defend an internationalist analysis and denounce the lies of leftism who would parade the workers, in Britain for example, up and down defending Arab nationalism.

john
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Aug 21 2006 14:54

I think an internationalist view can see Isreali expansion as the securitization the Middle East on behalf of international capital.

From this perspective it is possible to side with (but not merge into) Hezblah in an attempt to resist the further concentration of power in the hands of multinational capital-US state

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 21 2006 15:08
baboon wrote:
How can we help? By taking a clear political position and disseminating it as widely as possible.

Political groups that restrict themselves to simply disseminating a political position aren't likely to get taken very seriously. For one thing, if your political stance doesn't bring clear benefits, why should anyone be impresed by it? At least some anarchist activists in the UK are attempting to meet immediate human needs, whatever their success in doing so.

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 21 2006 16:22

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Quote:
Political groups that restrict themselves to simply disseminating a political position aren't likely to get taken very seriously.

Evidently. Political groups which try to bring discomfort to Isrealis without even taking the trouble to blow themselves up properly, are even less likely to "get taken very seriously".

I’m sure we’ve developed an adequate critique of the ICC by now, the question is, Laz and Revol, how would do you develop class consciousness from the nationalist or Islamicist political agendas you seem to (albeit critically) advocate.

Love

LR

theanarchistfor...
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Aug 21 2006 16:25

There's always the option of opening a mcdonalds on the Gaza strip. Class conciousness would soon erupt once they bit into their burgers and realised they were being fed processed 'terrorist' meat.
That ain't kethup bub.

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Alf
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Aug 21 2006 16:33

Revol says:

No one is suggesting running around with Hezbullah flags at an anti war demo is anything other than typical leftist hypocrisy”.

But john tells us:

"I think an internationalist view can see Isreali expansion as the securitization the Middle East on behalf of international capital.
From this perspective it is possible to side with (but not merge into) Hezblah in an attempt to resist the further concentration of power in the hands of multinational capital-US state".

Which is just a more subtle way to wave the Hizbollah flag. Perhaps Revol would care to answer john’s argument.

Lazlo wrote:

Political groups that restrict themselves to simply disseminating a political position aren't likely to get taken very seriously. For one thing, if your political stance doesn't bring clear benefits, why should anyone be impresed by it? At least some anarchist activists in the UK are attempting to meet immediate human needs, whatever their success in doing so”.

No mention of Hizbollah, as at the ‘assembly’ a couple of weeks ago, or where you stand on the war; just charity work. Which Hizbollah and Hamas do rather well; they have far more resources than a few anarchists, being an embryonic bourgeois state. It was Hizbollah who often led the work of digging out the victims of Israeli bombs, just as in Pakistan after the earthquake it was the Islamists who were first on the scene offering assistance. None of this takes us a step nearer towards assisting the proletariat to break out of the nationalist prison.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 21 2006 16:36
Lazy Riser wrote:
How would do you develop class consciousness from the nationalist or Islamicist political agendas you seem to (albeit critically) advocate.

I don't thnk it's the job of activists to develop anyone's class consciousness.

Alf - sure hezbollah are bad. But as long as they're the only ones who are effective, they'll inevitably get support. Unless 'communist' groups offer practical help, as I said, they're not going to get taken seriously, even within the leftist ghetto.

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Aug 21 2006 16:38

Hi

theanarchistformerlyknownasphoenix wrote:
There's always the option of opening a mcdonalds on the Gaza strip. Class conciousness would soon erupt once they bit into their burgers and realised they were being fed processed 'terrorist' meat.
That ain't kethup bub.

There’s more to this post than meets the eye. One of the reasons fundamentalist Islam is so fortified is that as a doctrine it inhibits the spread of full-on capitalist consumer culture and “permissive values” that bind young workers together across national boundaries.

As Pallis said, a decisive moment in the working class’s autonomous attack on racism is embodied in their acceptance of inter-racial sexual relationships, music and culture. (And I’m not talking about rape, before all you pedants decide to Gordon Ramsey me on it).

Love

LR

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 21 2006 16:42

Hi

Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
I don't thnk it's the job of activists to develop anyone's class consciousness.

Obviously. It's the job of activists to strap explosives to themselves and blow up a bus load of Jews.

Love

LR

theanarchistfor...
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Aug 21 2006 16:53

Activism can be taking a shit, as long as you think you're being profound.

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Aug 21 2006 17:07

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revol68 wrote:
advocating the end of roadblocks, military incursions and the cuting off of electricity and water supply are obviously nationalist or islamicist political agenda's.

They are when they’re advocated by Islamicists as way of making it easier to attack Israel. This assumes there is some “fair” or “proportionate” response you’d suggest for Israel to protect its territory from Hamas’ attacks. Let’s say Israel pulls out of the areas that are illegitimately occupied, perhaps UN roadblocks and military incursions are going to be humane enough to satisfy your political ambitions. If it’s a French led UN force, I wouldn’t bet on it. They’ll cut of your ‘leccy just for looking at you funny, let alone shooting missiles at ‘em.

revol68 wrote:
my insistance on the right of pregnant not to lose their child whilst waiting hours to go through a checkpoitn to a hopsital is truely the thin edge of an islamist agenda.

Bless. We can argue the rights-of-this-and-that until the cows come home, like the right of Israelis not to live in bunkers for fear of suicide attacks and missiles. This is the way of nationalism and racism, and this illustrates why such issues always divide the working class, as they are here on this thread, rather than develop class consciousness.

revol68 wrote:
Who the fuck do you think you are you fat useless fuck? You have already made light of rape, now you conflate any opposition to Israel's bloody occupation with a fucking suicide bomber.

Which bits of Israel’s occupation of the whole territory do you think are legitimate, and what measures do you think they should be allowed to use to defend it?

Love

LR