No state solution in Gaza

No state solution in Gaza

Statement distributed by the Manchester and Sheffield Anarchist Federation groups on the conflict in Gaza, in solidarity with the victims of the conflict, and for internationalism.

One thing is absolutely clear about the current situation in Gaza: the Israeli state is committing atrocities which must end immediately. With hundreds dead and thousands wounded, it has become increasingly clear that the aim of the military operation, which has been in the planning stages since the signing of the original ceasefire in June, is to break Hamas completely. The attack follows the crippling blockade throughout the supposed ‘ceasefire’, which has destroyed the livelihoods of Gazans, ruined the civilian infrastructure and created a humanitarian disaster which anyone with an ounce of humanity would seek an end to.

But that's not all there is to say about the situation. On both sides of the conflict, the idea that opposing Israel has to mean supporting Hamas and its ‘resistance’ movement is worryingly common. We totally reject this argument. Just like any other set of rulers, Hamas, like all the other major Palestinian factions, are happy and willing to sacrifice ordinary Palestinians to increase their power. This isn’t some vague theoretical point – for a period recently most deaths in Gaza were a result of fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The ‘choices’ offered to ordinary Palestinian people are between Islamist gangsters (Hamas, Islamic Jihad) or nationalist gangsters (Fatah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs brigades). These groups have shown their willingness to attack working-class attempts to improve their living conditions, seizing union offices, kidnapping prominent trade unionists, and breaking strikes. One spectacular example is the attack on Palestine Workers Radio by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, for “stoking internal conflicts”. Clearly, a “free Palestine” under the control of any of these groups would be nothing of the sort.

As anarchists, we are internationalists, opposing the idea that the rulers and ruled within a nation have any interests in common. Therefore, anarchists reject Palestinian nationalism just as we reject Israeli nationalism (Zionism). Ethnicity does not grant “rights” to lands, which require the state to enforce them. People, on the other hand, have a right to having their human needs met, and should be able to live where they choose, freely.

Therefore, against the divisions and false choices set up by nationalism, we fully support the ordinary inhabitants of Gaza and Israel against state warfare – not because of their nationality, ethnicity, or religion, but simply because they're real living, feeling, thinking, suffering, struggling human beings. And this support has to mean total hostility to all those who would oppress and exploit them –the Israeli state and the Western governments and corporations that supply it with weapons, but also any other capitalist factions who seek to use ordinary working-class Palestinians as pawns in their power struggles. The only real solution is one which is collective, based on the fact that as a class, globally, we ultimately have nothing but our ability to work for others, and everything to gain in ending this system – capitalism – and the states and wars it needs .

That this seems like a “difficult” solution does not stop it from being the right one. Any “solution” that means endless cycles of conflict, which is what nationalism represents, is no solution at all. And if that is the case, the fact that it is “easier” is irrelevant. There are sectors of Palestinian society which are not dominated by the would-be rulers – protests organised by village committees in the West Bank for instance. These deserve our support. As do those in Israel who refuse to fight, and who resist the war. But not the groups who call on Palestinians to be slaughtered on their behalf by one of the most advanced armies in the world, and who wilfully attack civilians on the other side of the border.

Neither one state nor two states, but no states

Whoever dies, Hamas and the Israeli state win

Pdf available for distribution here

Comments

Devrim
Jan 23 2009 09:05
bluebottle wrote:
The situation in Gaza and indeed most of the Middle East is closer to peasantry than bourgeois-proletarian. In any case - Hamas aren't bourgeois.
bluebottle wrote:
Peasant militia government perhaps?

I am not sure what part of the Middle East that you live in, but from the part where I live it doesn't look like you paint it. It would certainly be wrong to characterise Gaza as a peasant society. The CIA world fact book gives these figures for Gaza:

CIA World fact book wrote:
Gaza
agriculture: 12%
industry: 18%
services: 70%

12% gives it the same portion of workers involved in agriculture as Greece for example. This, however, is not the percentage of the peasantry, it the percentage working in agriculture, and will also include agricultural workers. I think that it would be fair to say that less than 10% of the labour force in Gaza are peasants. I think that is hardly a peasant society.

To run through some of the surrounding countries;

CIA World fact book wrote:
Syria
agriculture: 19.2%
industry: 14.5%
services: 66.3% (2006 est.)

Jordan
agriculture: 5%
industry: 12.5%
services: 82.5% (2001 est.)

Egypt
agriculture: 32%
industry: 17%
services: 51% (2001 est.)

Turkey
agriculture: 35.9%
industry: 22.8%
services: 41.2% (3rd quarter, 2004)

There are no statistics for Lebanon there, but the last ones I saw gave an agricultural sector of 9%.

None of them are what you could call societies dominated by the peasantry. Yes Turkey and Egypt do have relatively high numbers of workers engaged in agriculture, but they are countries dominated by massive concentrations of proletarians, Cairo and Istanbul, and Egypt has a similar number of workers engaged in industrial production as the UK with Turkey having about 20% more:

CIA World fact book wrote:
UK
agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 18.2%
services: 80.4% (2006 est.)

The idea of Gaza as a peasant society is a complete myth.

Devrim

Django
Jan 23 2009 10:09
bluebottle wrote:
As far as a Gazan is concerned, this is a conflict between Arabs and Jews, cos it's all Jews coming over the hill and all Arabs getting blown up. Of course those of us with a wider perspective on the inner logic of capitalism have an insight into the base causes of this conflict, but I think we can forgive the Arab who falls into religiosity when fighting...for...survival…

Except its not a war of Jews against arabs when its Gazan arabs being shot at by Egyptian border guards, or Hamas mortars blowing up arab building workers in Sderot. Or, expanding the picture, the vast numbers of Palestinians in camps killed by arab regimes

bluebottle wrote:
I'm not sure Israeli outposts surrounding Gaza can be called civilian. They are the outermost part of Israeli aggression, heavily armed and brimming with the ideology of expansion. Sure, there are families but there are often families in military complexes, do they therefore become civilian?

This is precisely the same logic which the most extreme right-wing voices in Israel and the US have been using against the population in Gaza – they have voted for “terrorists” and are therefore terrorists themselves, they have sided with the ideology of permanent war with Israel and replacing it with a Caliphate, etc, etc. Do civilians stop being civilians when they believe in something you don’t like? What about the Sderot citizens who campaigned against the war? I take it they can be compared to soldiers too?

bluebottle wrote:
And anyway targeting a civilian population with close to complete support for their ‘defence forces’ bombardment of civilians seems to me a legitimate target.

This says it all really. By the same logic the slaughter of American civilians in 2003 would have been perfectly legitimate, so was bombing Hiroshima, etc etc. A civilian population which “supports” the government is a military target. Amazing.

bluebottle wrote:
See your point Alan, but fleeing doesn't need encouragement, it needs support in other ways. Fighting benefits from moral support. Moral support for fighting is not making a demand whereas demanding fleeing instead of fighting clearly is.

No one is “demanding” that people flee, if anything the point is to show that arguments that the “brave resistance” of Hamas and the Palestinian people are the same thing, making criticising Hamas beyond the pale, are false. People here are saying that instead of calling on people to be massacred by the IDF in an asymmetrical war from a safe distance, supporting the sensible choice of ordinary Palestinians not to fight is the reasonable thing to do.

Bluebottle wrote:
The reason we go back to class is because it is the underlying cause of conflict. However, in instances of one state oppressing another state, the issue is more complex, as you have one (arbitrary) working class group oppressing another. As a matter of tactics the oppressor must be expelled before we can start discussing equal pay for equal work and on from there (and Ed, don’t trade unions reflect bourgeois hierarchies?). If that means fighting with/alongside Hamas then I really don't see a problem. You seem to think this will necessarily mean irreversible entrenchment of Hamas dominance even after Israel ceases to advance

.

So a Hamas functionary in a villa in Lebannon is being oppressed by a supermarket cashier in Tel Aviv? Or is a Chinese chef in Israel oppressing a police chief in Rafah? What does expelling the oppressor mean? Are we talking about the territories or ‘Palestine’ full stop?

There is a serious problem if we are talking about cheerleading on the fight of a “resistance” group that doesn’t stand to give anything to the Palestinian working class. Hamas will not defeat the IDF militarily. The only way that there will be a significant change in the geopolitical makeup of Israel/Palestine is through a change in the imperialist balance of power globally (which would mean other such conflicts elsewhere, just as there are far worse conflicts in the world now). Hamas’ war does not stand to liberate Palestinians through force of arms, but lead to more brutal violence. That is a simple appraisal of reality. And there is a long history of “oppressed” nations behaving exactly as you’d expect on “liberation” – engaging in imperialist wars, savagely oppressing the working class, etc, even if that were a current possibility. So we have to support working class demands irrespective of the precise overlay of national forces, and not pretend those national forces will give anything to the working class.

This idea that we support the “oppressed” state against the “oppressor” until we start thinking about supporting the working class would mean the permanent suspension of class struggle politics, as states are permanently in conflict with one another, and never perfectly balanced. But its ultimately meaningless. Would we have supported Churchill against Hitler when Britain was “oppressed” in 1939, then Hitler when Germany was “oppressed” in 1945?

Hamas have used this war to entrench their power, as forcing the co-operation or having a rationale for eliminating rival factions was one of their motives in seeking its escalation. Just like the Israeli government having a motive in the elections, preventing conflict with the settlers, etc. Hamas are a group with agency and aims of their own, not simply reactive to Israel or the manifestation of the Palestinian spirit of resistance.

Quote:
Otherwise we'll be waiting for the miracle of simultaneous global utopia.

No, we support working class struggles, and in this case this often means against the local forces of “national liberation” which police the population.

Quote:
The delegitimisation of the state of Israel is currently rhetorical. I'm in favour of ultimately abolishing all states. But at present your 'no state' solution just means no state for Gazans, not anyone else. So you offer exactly the same as Israel with your 'no state' solution - Palestinian refugees in neighbouring Arab states. You may differ on the ideological plane, but the base material reality of what you propose is consistent.

Who is offering anything else? Will a two state or one state solution become a reality when enough lefties in different countries “demand” it? Hamas do not stand to roll Israel back to the 1967 borders, or 1949 borders, or the Mediterranean through armed struggle. They do offer more brutalisation for the Palestinian working class. The only way significant geopolitical change will come about is through more inter-imperialist struggle, which will mean more bloodshed and war. So we support working class demands, whoever they are against, as part of a coherent communist politics.

petey
Jan 23 2009 15:22
Ed wrote:
Just look at how Hamas have acted against the Palestinian working class for a taster:
Palestinian union hit on all sides
Interview with Rasem Al Bayari, Palestinian trade unionist

thanks for that ed, i'd lost track of those links

Django wrote:
Quote:
bluebottle wrote:

I'm not sure Israeli outposts surrounding Gaza can be called civilian. They are the outermost part of Israeli aggression, heavily armed and brimming with the ideology of expansion. Sure, there are families but there are often families in military complexes, do they therefore become civilian?

This is precisely the same logic which the most extreme right-wing voices in Israel and the US have been using against the population in Gaza – they have voted for “terrorists” and are therefore terrorists themselves, they have sided with the ideology of permanent war with Israel and replacing it with a Caliphate, etc, etc.

django exactly characterizes the attitude here in the states. "they" "all" are "guilty" of supporting hamas, so screw 'em. the opposite of this - "they" "all" are imperialists - is just as reasonable.

Tarwater
Jan 23 2009 15:41
Quote:
I'm not sure Israeli outposts surrounding Gaza can be called civilian. They are the outermost part of Israeli aggression, heavily armed and brimming with the ideology of expansion. Sure, there are families but there are often families in military complexes, do they therefore become civilian?

This reminds me. I've always wondered why people live fucking there A Hamas firing range doesn't seem like prime real estate to me, what is the actual mindset? Looking at Treeofjudas or someone else on the ground

Tarwater
Jan 23 2009 15:45

.

Joseph Kay
Jan 23 2009 15:45
Tarwater wrote:
Quote:
I'm not sure Israeli outposts surrounding Gaza can be called civilian. They are the outermost part of Israeli aggression, heavily armed and brimming with the ideology of expansion. Sure, there are families but there are often families in military complexes, do they therefore become civilian?

This reminds me. I've always wondered why people live fucking there A Hamas firing range doesn't seem like prime real estate to me, what is the actual mindset? Looking at Treeofjudas or someone else on the ground

you read a passage describing whole civilian populations - some of whom, like in Sderot have been anti-war - as legitimate military targets, and your reaction is 'yeah, why do they live there anyway?' confused

after 9/11 did you ask why people worked in the WTC, which was an obvious target with a history of attacks on it?

fwiw i'm pretty sure the rocket attacks are a relatively new phenomenon, since the wall basically stopped suicide bombings (as well as seizing land etc).

Tarwater
Jan 23 2009 15:47

yeah, I did. Isn't work a pain enough in the ass without worrying about getting killed before you lunch break.

Why the fuck are you attacking me??

Ex-temp
Jan 23 2009 15:52

Yes, I think Joseph maybe thought you had an ulterior emotive other than just curiosity.

Tar - I'm not sure. I know that some live there for ideological reasons, I also know that some are forced to live there through poverty, as they cannot afford decent housing elsewhere. I don't know about relative numbers of these groups, or what other reasons there are.

Khawaga
Jan 23 2009 15:58
Quote:
fwiw i'm pretty sure the rocket attacks are a relatively new phenomenon, since the wall basically stopped suicide bombings (as well as seizing land etc).

From what I remember rocket attacks are a late 90s phenomenon (and suicide bombing didn't start until right after Oslo).

Re: Arab vs Jews comment from Bluebottle. This is not the way all Gazans sees it. Although Gazans are more prone to conflate Israel with Jews, most will see that there is a difference between a state and its inhabitants. As Django commented, it's not like Israel is the only state that is responsible for the siege of Gaza. Egypt has been just as complicit in this, which has simply dispelled any notions of "Arab" solidarity. If anything, Gazans sees it in terms of national and/or religious identities.

Tarwater
Jan 23 2009 15:59

I guess it could seem sketchy, what with all of the bullshit anti-semitism on indymedia etc, but it was an honest question.

I know not everyone that lives there is an ideologue, so is it an economic issue or what?

Joseph Kay
Jan 23 2009 16:00
Tarwater wrote:
yeah, I did. Isn't work a pain enough in the ass without worrying about getting killed before you lunch break.

Why the fuck are you attacking me??

apologies, wasn't intended as an attack. just seemed like an odd question in the context. edited in a part-answer to your question which crossed with your reply.

Joseph Kay
Jan 23 2009 16:01
Khawaga wrote:
From what I remember rocket attacks are a late 90s phenomenon (and suicide bombing didn't start until right after Oslo).

ok, i've got my chronology muddled by the sounds of it

Tarwater
Jan 23 2009 16:08

thanks for the apology. I can see now how it could seem creepy and weird in context...

Tojiah
Jan 23 2009 20:41

Tarwater: Lower housing costs, some of the Kibbutzes around set up ideologically I guess, though mostly in relation to agricultural land use. Sderot was basically a good, peripheral border town to throw the lesser-able immigrants at. You can read all about it in its wikipedia page.

I guess you could ask the same of people living in downtown LA or any violence/war-prone area. Most of them are not ideological per se, although Israel has been using them as fodder ever since its inception, so I guess some of that seeped in.

Bluebottle
Jan 24 2009 06:09

A fair amount has been written since I last visited so you'll forgive me if I respond to the major points.

Khawaga - I wasn't saying they have to see it like that, some of them surely don't, I was saying it can be ignored given the circumstances. A Pole during WWII might have taken a strongly anti-German attitude but we wouldn't bash them for their xenophobia. Or maybe you would, I don't know.

Devrim - I did say that it was closer to peasantry but I didn't say it was a purely peasant society. If you read back I said somewhere that I accepted there was a bourgeoisie in Gaza, just that Hamas are not it. In fact Fatah are more closely linked with the owner class there. Indeed 'most of the Middle-East' was a rather sweeping generalisation but the fact is the owner class generally got their positions from being peasants who managed to get rich, not from the exchange-system. And peasant ideology is still dominant.

Django - Yes, it is legitimate if it is necessary and effective and violence is legitimate in the first place. Hiroshima and 9/11 fail this test. The area surrounding Gaza is all the more so given that civilian population is living on conquered land. And I don't know the exact figures but I suspect more Gazans have been killed by the heavily armed, patrolling 'civilian' population surrounding them than they have killed (20) in the past ten years.

It's not correct to say Hamas doesn't offer anything to the working class. Again, they are the only thing that is stopping Israel from their ethnic cleansing campaign, at the moment. That is something. You have to have some kind of existence to enjoy shorter working hours and paid vacation. 'Coherent communist politics' is supporting trade unions but not national liberation?

An oppressor state, in the sense that Marx meant it, is being a state which wields massive economic might over another and works to extract value from that state. It is not mere disparity. The most powerful capitalists on earth are currently behind the Israel and US attempts to end all 'successful defiance' (Chomsky) in the region. Supporting that defiance, even if it isn't quite ideologically in tune with you, means undermining the world's most powerful capitalists. 'Vietnam Syndrome' made clear that the only thing stopping US imperial ambitions was getting sufficiently killed by the Vietcong (and the domestic protests).

"The only way significant geopolitical change will come about is through more inter-imperialist struggle, which will mean more bloodshed and war." This is only correct if you consider mass killing insignificant if workers rights are not also realised.

Hamas doesn't stand to roll back Israel. I never said it does. It does stand to stop further Israeli expansion which is an actually existing real threat. Of course they have their own agenda, but their primary material function is to get rid of that threat.

The one-state solution seems reasonable to me. We can discuss that if you want.

Petey - If the 'us vs them' nationalism of an imperial power stopped, imperialism would be undermined. If the 'us vs them' nationalism of the state subjected to imperialism stopped, then the struggle against imperialism would be undermined. That's the distinction.

Devrim
Jan 24 2009 07:00
Quote:
Devrim - I did say that it was closer to peasantry but I didn't say it was a purely peasant society. If you read back I said somewhere that I accepted there was a bourgeoisie in Gaza, just that Hamas are not it. In fact Fatah are more closely linked with the owner class there. Indeed 'most of the Middle-East' was a rather sweeping generalisation but the fact is the owner class generally got their positions from being peasants who managed to get rich, not from the exchange-system. And peasant ideology is still dominant.

'The fact is' is not a fact at all. It is an assertion. Maybe some evidence would be nice.

When you said that it was closer to a peasant society, maybe you should have explained that what you meant was that actually less then 10% of people were peasants, and that it was a similar amount to a country like Greece.

Indeed it was a rather sweeping generalisation more particularly so in that it turned out to be untrue.

One has to wonder what you agenda is in denying these facts, and trying to paint a picture of some sort of peasant society that doesn't really exist.

Devrim

Bluebottle
Jan 24 2009 09:02

Haha one has to wonder at my agenda. My agenda is to show that the Western bourgeois-proletariat model doesn't hold perfectly in the Middle-East, as most people behave as peasants even if they are no longer engaged in peasant activity, and the roots of hierarchy in the region have more to do with peasantry than the development of local bourgeois-proletarian relations.

The states in the region never evolved into the class distinction as they did in Europe. In England, for instance, the peasantry naturally died out, while in the Middle East the peasantry were recruited and directed in the creation of all the modern nations. Pre-capitalist modes of production, with no connection to industrialisation, grew dramatically while Europe was developing under bourgeois entrepreneurship. Eventually new modes of production were introduced and a reflection of European capitalism grew, but the power structures in the region of feudalism and agriculture are still felt and the rulers are often a distinct, non-bourgeois class who are more rightly identified as peasants with power.

The Saudi establishment, for instance, were feudal rulers. They are now extremely rich feudal rulers who no longer engage in peasant activity. They cannot be classed as bourgeois. The same is true of the rulers of Jordan, Morocco and the Gulf states.

The Palestinian bourgeoisie have no real access to the free market or ability to trade, hence they don't wield the power they otherwise would. The rulers are in power not for their surplus-value extraction but for other reasons already stated elsewhere.

The Iranian revolution was led by peasants and is now run by peasants. They no longer engage in peasant activity, but they are of peasant stock, think peasant and act peasant and are the rulers because of their recently-ex peasant positions. They are distinct from the bourgeoisie, who may or may not be urbanites. These do not have 'free' access to the global market and as such are have not managed to take monopoly control of the country other, peasant, factors are at play.

Afghanistan - peasants.

Syria - the ruling Ba'th Party are pseudo-socialist and state-bourgeois. Al-tabaqa al-jadida are emerging the closest thing to the European bourgeoisie - the "new class". They are new.

Admittedly Tunisia and Egypt have rather more established bourgeois-proletariat class divisions and are clearly ruled by the bourgeoisie, but then most of them were land-owners, not entrepreneurs, and the rulers in Egypt were kept in check by an influential peasantry (look at the history of peasant uprisings in the country).

The role of petite bourgeois traders is also much more significant in the region than bourgeois activity...

It is a fact that the majority of workers in the Middle East are peasants who have escaped the poverty of peasant life. They are not as such a urbanite working class in the sense that Marxists understand the term. They lack the defining feature of mass solidarity of production that the working class enjoy. There has been no bourgeois revolution, the traditional structures still exist, industrialisation is relatively minor. Much work is not wage labour for the production of commodities but servitude and casual labour. There is no real class consciousness. So, feudalism is still a dominant structure, although the bourgeoisie and their petty counterparts DO have a major role, one I may have indicated I didn't believe exists, so sorry about that.

Assertions can be facts. Facts can be asserted. I was asserting a fact. That you need the evidence to accept my assertion as a fact doesn't make it any less of a fact. I should have provided some, and much more yet, but as I said there was a lot to respond to and this was a minor point of discussion.

Devrim
Jan 24 2009 09:40
Quote:
most people behave as peasants even if they are no longer engaged in peasant activity
...The Iranian revolution was led by peasants and is now run by peasants. They no longer engage in peasant activity, but they are of peasant stock, think peasant and act peasant and are the rulers because of their recently-ex peasant positions.

Ha this a superbly ludicrous argument. It treats membership of the peasantry as if it is some sort of genetic inheritable disease, not a relationship to the means of production. Apart from being right on Afghanistan, which is a peasant society, you don't seem to have a clue.

The main force in the Iranian revolution by the way was the working class and mass strikes. The Islamic leadership, by the way, came from the Pazar not the peasantry.

Quote:
Haha one has to wonder at my agenda. My agenda is to show that the Western bourgeois-proletariat model doesn't hold perfectly in the Middle-East,

Well yes, that was very clear. The whole thing was based around showing that the same class relationships that exist in Europe don't exist in the Middle East and that it is then acceptable to support national movements.

And this is your argument to base that assertion on:

Quote:
It is a fact that the majority of workers in the Middle East are peasants who have escaped the poverty of peasant life.

I would say it is not a fact. It is an assertion that has no factual base. The majority of workers in the Middle East may well be the children or grandchildren, or great grand children of peasants, but I would be very surprised if they were formerly peasants themselves.

And being a part of the peasantry is an economic, not genetic condition.

Devrim

Bluebottle
Jan 24 2009 10:17

Not genetic, but cultural. Feudal/peasant power structures, which are not strictly bourgeois, are still making themselves felt in the region along with capitalist/industrial. Nothing ludicrous about that assertion. This is a material fact born of proximity to land and production.

The wealth in the Iranian establishment comes from the appropriation of capitalist and imperialist land to form bonyadha.

I guess by Pazar you mean Bazar. I think most clerical influence comes from Qom actually. Their popularity is certainly concentrated in rural areas. The leadership in Iran is by no means the bazaries and the revolution was spawned from peasant discontent with the privileged position of the urban proletariat. Khomeini and Khamenei was peasants as were all presidents.

I would still think national liberation should be supported even if it was strictly bourgeois-proletarian.

888
Jan 24 2009 10:26
Quote:
Devrim - I did say that it was closer to peasantry but I didn't say it was a purely peasant society. If you read back I said somewhere that I accepted there was a bourgeoisie in Gaza, just that Hamas are not it. In fact Fatah are more closely linked with the owner class there. Indeed 'most of the Middle-East' was a rather sweeping generalisation but the fact is the owner class generally got their positions from being peasants who managed to get rich, not from the exchange-system. And peasant ideology is still dominant.

Come on dude. He's given you the clear facts. You're just talking out of your arse now.

Joseph Kay
Jan 24 2009 10:29
Bluebottle wrote:
it is legitimate if it is necessary and effective and violence is legitimate in the first place. Hiroshima and 9/11 fail this test. The area surrounding Gaza is all the more so given that civilian population is living on conquered land.

as Sderot is no more "conquered" than Tel Aviv, presumably you think all Israelis are valid military targets? i'm not being disingenuous, just trying to work out where you stand.

Bluebottle wrote:
I don't know the exact figures but I suspect more Gazans have been killed by the heavily armed, patrolling 'civilian' population surrounding them than they have killed (20) in the past ten years.

if we're playing a numbers game - which is always a crude substitute for ethics - then many more Gazans have almost certainly been killed by other Gazans than Sderot residents in the past ten years. there's those killed in interfactional power struggles as well as those who happen to be sex workers who get strung up by hamas, those summarily executed for 'collaboration' (some of whom might have even been guilty) etc.

Bluebottle wrote:
The one-state solution seems reasonable to me. We can discuss that if you want.

out of interest, what do people think would happen if refugees fled en mass to Israel (or at least the border checkpoints)? presumably they'd be held there, not massacred? i mean if the immediate goal is a binational state, wouldn't civil rights tactics ('i am a man') etc make more sense that armed struggle? i suppose this depends on how committed you think israel is to "ethnic cleansing."

Bluebottle wrote:
My agenda is to show that the Western bourgeois-proletariat model doesn't hold perfectly in the Middle-East

no shit, Gaza doesn't have the same class composition as the UK. to deny the government are part of the local ruling class, and are in fact peasants of some description is a bit nuts though.

Bluebottle wrote:
most people behave as peasants even if they are no longer engaged in peasant activity

what does that mean, they practice subistence farming but don't pay their tithes? they pay their tithes but don't practice subsistence farming?

Bluebottle wrote:
the power structures in the region of feudalism and agriculture are still felt and the rulers are often a distinct, non-bourgeois class who are more rightly identified as peasants with power.

well surely the ruling class in a peasant society are the landowners (monarchy) and landlords (barons or equivalent)? not "peasants with power"?

Bluebottle wrote:
The Saudi establishment, for instance, were feudal rulers. They are now extremely rich feudal rulers who no longer engage in peasant activity. They cannot be classed as bourgeois.

so vast amounts of capital owned by the House of Saud aren't invested in activities which generate a return? they aren't involved in hiring workers for commodity production and sale? (your own narrow definition of bourgeois).

Bluebottle wrote:
The Iranian revolution was led by peasants and is now run by peasants. They no longer engage in peasant activity, but they are of peasant stock, think peasant and act peasant

setting aside empirical questions for a moment (like the importance of the bourse-based power of the baazari behind the ulama), this is a really weird conception of class, at odds with your earlier insistence surplus vale extraction defines the bourgeoisie - what has their "stock" got to do with anything? iran is clearly a capitalist state ruled by a bourgeoisie even by your own narrow definition. and anyway, you're wrong about the iranian revolution and ruling class:

Page 32-3 of 'Iran on the Brink' by Andreas Malm & Shora Esmailian wrote:
But while the ulama [religious establishment] certainly had accumulated a considerable amount of property during centuries of donations and inheritances, they should not be regarded primarily as a class, in the strict sense of the word. Rather, they were a phalanx uniquely equipped precisely for state-building, that is, for the construction of an undisputed political and social authority. Their first mission was to stamp out the alternative, parallel authority of the shoras [workers/peasants councils that sprung up in the revolution] - and negate its dissolution of power by concentrating it all in the hands of the faqih, the absolute jurisprudent, the Supreme Leader: Ayatollah Khomenei.

Throughout the Islamic Revolution, it was the baazari [small merchant capitalsts] who supplied its socio-economic backbone. They were the first to fill the mosques with their class interests, pushing the ulama to action while maintaining the most intimate relations to Ayatollah Khomenei. Already in his first theological work, published in 1942, he had endorsed the sanctity of private property, naturally earning him the ear of the baazari. During his exile in Najaf, he was financed by the baazari community and outlined his ideas on the velayat al-faqih in baazari mosques. Back in Tehran, he invited an exclusive group to his headquarters once a week to give a speech on recent events, baazari figures were always in the front row.

i don't have sources to hand on the other states you cite, but your accuracy on the class composition of Gaza and Iran doesn't inspire confidence. in Iran (like Gaza it seems) the small capitalists formed the backbone of the islamic movement, against the big ones which were mostly foreign-owned. you say that "The role of petite bourgeois traders is also much more significant in the region than bourgeois activity", as if small capitalists are not capitalists, let alone peasants "no longer engaged in peasant activity" confused

Bluebottle wrote:
It is a fact that the majority of workers in the Middle East are peasants who have escaped the poverty of peasant life. They are not as such a urbanite working class in the sense that Marxists understand the term.

well i'm no marxist, and i think the general usage of proletarian here is closer to 'the dispossesed' than 'the surplus-value producing urban industrial workers', so this isn't any great revelation. much of the global proletariat fits your description if you consider recent ancestory, particularly in places like china and latin america, but so what, class isn't a heritable condition but a social relation.

Bleubottle wrote:
They lack the defining feature of mass solidarity of production that the working class enjoy.

i have to say you have a very stalinist conception of the working class. where is this "mass solidarity of production" in the UK? proles are not defined by production, but dispossession.

Bluebottle wrote:
industrialisation is relatively minor. Much work is not wage labour for the production of commodities but servitude and casual labour. There is no real class consciousness. So, feudalism is still a dominant structure, although the bourgeoisie and their petty counterparts DO have a major role, one I may have indicated I didn't believe exists, so sorry about that.

continuing with the example of Iran, the idea "feudalism is still a dominant structure" is just plain wrong. yes there are persistent traditional structures (particularly religious ones) but Iran is an industrialised, capitalist country. it's industrial sector is relatively twice the size of the UK's (agriculture: 10.8%, industry: 44.3%, services: 44.9% - 2008 est.), and there's a history of class struggles, including workers councils (particularly in the north, dating from the revolutionary upsurge of 1905 centred on Russia), class struggles which are ongoing (we've got a load of news here, Aufheben discussed Iran here).

Bluebottle wrote:
Assertions can be facts. Facts can be asserted. I was asserting a fact. That you need the evidence to accept my assertion as a fact doesn't make it any less of a fact.

the fact your assertions about the feudal nature of the middle east are demonstrably false however somewhat undermines their truth-value.

Tojiah
Jan 24 2009 10:39
Bluebottle wrote:
The area surrounding Gaza is all the more so given that civilian population is living on conquered land.

Not that much more conquered than most of Green-Line Israel, I think.

Bluebottle wrote:
And I don't know the exact figures but I suspect more Gazans have been killed by the heavily armed, patrolling 'civilian' population surrounding them

Actually, the population in the surrounding areas is mostly unarmed, and does not involve itself in incursion into the Gaza Strip itself - they leave that to the military. You're confusing border villages with the North-Gaza settlers that were evacuated in 2005.

Bluebottle wrote:
than they have killed (20) in the past ten years.

Where do you get that figure from? That might be the death toll from rockets alone, but it ignores suicide bombings and shootings by militants coming from the Gaza strip, for example. You know, those actions that make the siege such an easy sell for the Israeli population.

If you're going to argue from numbers, you might want to get your figures straight.

Django
Jan 24 2009 11:00
Bluebottle wrote:
Django - Yes, it is legitimate if it is necessary and effective and violence is legitimate in the first place. Hiroshima and 9/11 fail this test

Your rationale for calling Sderot inhabitants "military targets" wasn't that they live on "conquered land" (all states are involve processes of dispossession), but that their populations exibit "close to complete support for their ‘defence forces’ bombardment of civilians", which would easily cover the population of wartime Japan and the support of the US population for the Iraq war.

Quote:
'Coherent communist politics' is supporting trade unions but not national liberation?

Where have I "supported trade unions"? I don't think that they are working class organs, but think that class struggle by necessity is expressed through them. So I support teachers striking in Gaza for the payment of their wages despite the fact it is organised through a union.

Bluebottle
Jan 24 2009 11:14

I trust you would accept that bourgeois power-relations can be present even when production owner-worker relations aren't present (trade unions, for instance). Well, astonishingly, peasant power relations, beyond merely religious, have significant impact on the modern-day Middle East, where they influence and are influenced by capitalism, industrialisation and globalisation.

"well surely the ruling class in a peasant society are the landowners (monarchy) and landlords (barons or equivalent)? not "peasants with power"? - not when the traditional peasant structure is no longer in place. You couldn't call them monarchs or feudal lords, cos they aren't. They are peasants enjoying a privileged position because of their peasant structures, a position which is embroiled with capitalist and other power relations.

Solidarity in production isn't a state of mind, it is the material basis of the interconnectedness of commodity production. Is that a Stalinist statement?

Yes, Latin America and China are also still highly derivative of feudal society. So what indeed, again, it was not a major point and had no real bearing on my argument.

"Presumably you think all Israelis are valid military targets" - if effective yes. Of course I don't think suicide bombings or Qassam rockets are effective in the slightest.

Again, I support Hamas's rejection of Israeli expansion (which I do think is real) not their entire policy. It's not 'all or nothing' - their execution of prostitutes, trade unionists, gays etc. is not something I support but my support for their military struggle isn't affected by this.

"Not that much more conquered than most of Green-Line Israel, I think." Quite.

Devrim
Jan 24 2009 21:00
Bluebottle wrote:
Not genetic, but cultural. Feudal/peasant power structures, which are not strictly bourgeois, are still making themselves felt in the region along with capitalist/industrial. Nothing ludicrous about that assertion.

So you have backed down first on the absurd claim that most of the population of the Middle East were peasants, then on your equally non-factual assertion that the majority of workers in the Middle East were ex-peasants, and now you are claiming that they are peasant from some sort of cultural infection.

Actually, my wife's grandparents were Kurdish peasants. Despite the fact that she was born in and has always lived in a city, and despite the fact that her parents were both public sector workers, maybe I should have her examined for some sort of cultural infection.

It is an absolutely ludicrous assertion. People's class is determined by their relationship to the means of production, not by cultural transmission.

Bluebottle wrote:
This is a material fact born of proximity to land and production.

I live in in the centre of a reasonably big city, bigger than all European cities except London. As you can imagine that does not leave me very proximate to the land. Are you arguing that say a worker in Manchester, which has a population of less than half a million, is somehow more a cultural part of the peasantry than me. This is ludicrous.

Bluebottle wrote:
The wealth in the Iranian establishment comes from the appropriation of capitalist and imperialist land to form bonyadha.

The Bonyadha is a completely capitalist form.

Bluebottle wrote:
I guess by Pazar you mean Bazar.

Yes, I spell it properly too.

Bluebottle wrote:
I think most clerical influence comes from Qom actually. Their popularity is certainly concentrated in rural areas.

But then the revolution didn't happen in Qom, the centre of it was Tehran, a massive urban industrial centre.

Bluebottle wrote:
The leadership in Iran is by no means the bazaries and the revolution was spawned from peasant discontent with the privileged position of the urban proletariat.

I have never heard this one before. Are you suggesting that it wasn't the mass strike of the proletariat that broke the regime. Even Khomeini realised that.

Bluebottle wrote:
Khomeini and Khamenei was peasants as were all presidents.

Completely untrue, both of them were clerics as were their fathers.
In Khomeini's case both of his grandfathers were also clerics. How far do you have to go back to find the contaminating germ of peasant culture.

Bluebottle wrote:
I would still think national liberation should be supported even if it was strictly bourgeois-proletarian.

Well yes you might, but please don't use such obviously unfactual nonsense to support your arguments.

Devrim

Joseph Kay
Jan 24 2009 11:37
Bluebottle wrote:
I trust you would accept that bourgeois power-relations can be present even when production owner-worker relations aren't present (trade unions, for instance). Well, astonishingly, peasant power relations, beyond merely religious, have significant impact on the modern-day Middle East, where they influence and are influenced by capitalism, industrialisation and globalisation.

except of course trade unions for instance function as bourgeois forces because they reflect the dominant forces in society. the peasantry and feudal relations do not dominate the middle east, as has been demonstrated at length with sources, to which you respond with more assertion. yes, modern social relations have grown out of prior ones, but the idea the middle east is somewhere that "feudalism is still a dominant structure" is simply wrong. i mean reliance on oil rents is a far more significant deviation from 'normal' capitalism than residual serfdom, but it still takes place in a framework of wage labour and commodity production.

Bluebottle wrote:
Solidarity in production isn't a state of mind, it is the material basis of the interconnectedness of commodity production. Is that a Stalinist statement?

saying "the defining feature" of the working class is "mass solidarity of production" is straight out of stalinist production worker affirmation. if by 'solidarity in production' you mean workers share a material position vis capital, that's still unable to take account of unemployed workers (which is why the proletariat should be understood negatively as the dispossessed, not positively as producers). of course industry accounts for 44% of iran's employment compared to 22% in the UK, so by your own crude argument iran's twice as capitalist as the UK.

Bluebottle wrote:
my support for their [hamas'] military struggle isn't affected by this.

"Not that much more conquered than most of Green-Line Israel, I think." Quite.

so you think all israelis are legitimate military targets? even hamas have shied away from this, and stated a willingness to accept the 1967 borders. your 'critical' support for hamas actually goes beyond them. amazing.

Bluebottle
Jan 25 2009 05:01

Opposition to the Shah began with peasant discontent. Indeed it subsequently spread to the bazaries, working class etc, but it started in the mosques with peasant discontent, beginning with land reforms of the early '70s. The aims achieved through the revolution are consistent with the limited peasant revolution and it is no coincidence that the traditional peasant intellectual - the Mullah - took power. It was not a workers movement, although yes, the workers were instrumental.

I wasn't questioning your spelling there Devrim, no need to be so sensitive, I was merely trying to confirm that Pazar (the Turkish version of the Persian word Bazar) was indeed Bazar and not the place Pazar, Iran.

Your devastating facts and figures have no relevance to what I'm saying. I never said that Iran isn't capitalist, of course it is, I was saying that Iranian and Middle Eastern capitalism is heavily peasant influenced.

The peasantry remains a distinct class even after it enters urban life, for some time, maybe even generations. I may be focusing too heavily on Tehran, where I live, but here peasants continue their modes of consumption, traditions, descent concerns, household structures, reliance on specific authorities, religiosity, aspirations etc. - their ideology, as well as inconsistent links with the market, self-exploitation being rife. That is, the class is born of its social role but exists beyond it. The European working class didn't become a class as such at the very instance of the first labour exchange, it was a process.

I too am from peasant stock, BTW.

"This is a material fact born of proximity to land and production." I'm sorry I meant land and production ownership.

This concept of the dispossessed sounds interesting, I would like to know more.

Joseph Kay
Jan 25 2009 07:46
Bluebottle wrote:
Your devastating facts and figures have no relevance to what I'm saying.

indeed, you can prove anything with facts.

Bluebottle wrote:
I was saying that Iranian and Middle Eastern capitalism is heavily peasant influenced.

well actually you said...

Bluebottle wrote:
the majority of workers in the Middle East are peasants who have escaped the poverty of peasant life. They are not as such a urbanite working class in the sense that Marxists understand the term (...) industrialisation is relatively minor. Much work is not wage labour for the production of commodities but servitude and casual labour. There is no real class consciousness. So, feudalism is still a dominant structure

so you appear to be moving the goalposts again, as devrim has noted. iran is twice as industrialised as the UK (44% vs 22%) of employment, and arguably has a significantly higer level if class concsiousness too if the recent large, illegal strikes by bus drivers, teachers, factory workers, shipyard workers and others are anything to go by.

Bluebottle wrote:
This concept of the dispossessed sounds interesting, I would like to know more.

it's marx, basically. but the famous quote is...

Gilles Dauvé wrote:
If one identifies proletarian with factory worker (or even worse: with manual labourer), or with the poor, then one cannot see what is subversive in the proletarian condition. The proletariat is the negation of this society. It is not the collection of the poor, but of those who are desperate, those who have no reserves (les sans-réserves in French, or senza riserve in Italian), 5 who have nothing to lose but their chains; those who are nothing, have nothing, and cannot liberate themselves without destroying the whole social order. The proletariat is the dissolution of present society, because this society deprives it of nearly all its positive aspects. Thus the proletariat is also its own destruction. All theories (either bourgeois, fascist, stalinist, left-wing or "gauchistes") which in any way glorify and praise the proletariat as it is and claim for it the positive role of defending values and regenerating society, are counter-revolutionary. Worship of the proletariat has become one of the most efficient and dangerous weapons of capital. Most proles are low paid, and a lot work in production, yet their emergence as the proletariat derives not from being low paid producers, but from being "cut off", alienated, with no control either over their lives or the meaning of what they have to do to earn a living.

Defining the proletariat has little to do with sociology. Without the possibility of communism, theories of "the proletariat" would be tantamount to metaphysics. Our only vindication is that whenever it autonomously interfered with the running of society, the proletariat has repeatedly acted as negation of the existing order of things, has offered it no positive values or role, and has groped for something else.

i wrote a blog on why such a negative conception of the proletariat is important here.

Bluebottle
Jan 25 2009 09:01

"the majority of workers in the Middle East are peasants who have escaped the poverty of peasant life. They are not as such a urbanite working class in the sense that Marxists understand the term (...) industrialisation is relatively minor. Much work is not wage labour for the production of commodities but servitude and casual labour. There is no real class consciousness. So, feudalism is still a dominant structure."

That IS saying that capitalism is heavily peasant influenced. Majority of workers are first generation peasants or from the urban peasantry, so they cannot be considered the equivalent of the urban European working class, their position is substantially different. And note 'A' dominant structure not 'THE'.

Industry output and employment levels in the industry sector should be differentiated from industrialisation, which is the social result of sufficient industry. You would not contend that Britain is less industrialised than Iran, surely. Your facts prove nothing of relevance.

I don't think the handful of strikers in a nation of something in the region of 70 million people is great evidence of real class consciousness. The teachers strike was impressive but something of an anomaly. Perhaps if you actually worked here you'd get a better idea.

The negative conception of the proletariat seems reasonable, although I suppose those who "cannot liberate themselves without destroying the whole social order" would also apply to the bourgeoisie as theirs is a pseudo-freedom.

Joseph Kay
Jan 25 2009 13:13
Bluebottle wrote:
the urban peasantry

explain?

Bluebottle wrote:
You would not contend that Britain is less industrialised than Iran, surely. Your facts prove nothing of relevance.

well they prove that employment in industry in iran is twice that of the UK, so even if we define the working class as urban, blue collar wage workers Iran has proportionally twice the working class of the UK.

i mean i'm not trying to claim the process of class formation in iran is identical to the UK, that the industrialisation is not more recent or that particular cultural factors exist and may well impact the self-identity of iranian workers; but both statistically and in terms of visible struggles there's clearly a large working class in iran.

Bluebottle wrote:
I don't think the handful of strikers in a nation of something in the region of 70 million people is great evidence of real class consciousness. The teachers strike was impressive but something of an anomaly. Perhaps if you actually worked here you'd get a better idea.

well i do work in the UK, and i know anything of the breadth and militancy of the recent strike movements in iran would represent a major upturn in the class struggle here (a country of 60m+). the teachers strike was only the latest in a long line of industrial unrest featuring the tehran bus drivers, shipyard, textile and factory workers, marked by a tendency for these struggles to link up with each other and also the struggles of women. these tendencies to generalisation of struggles as well as the immediate politicisiation on account of their illegality and the harsh repression they face represent a significant degree of 'class consciousness', seemingly in advance of anything present in the UK at the moment (where cross-sector link ups are an extreme rarity, despite some desire for them in the public sector strikes last summer, thwarted by the unions). we've got some news archived here, but as none of us speak farsi we're reliant on reports that make it into english, so it's likely to be a small sample.

Bluebottle wrote:
The negative conception of the proletariat seems reasonable, although I suppose those who "cannot liberate themselves without destroying the whole social order" would also apply to the bourgeoisie as theirs is a pseudo-freedom.

which is what the 'have nothing' and 'have no control' are for, to preclude owners or controllers of capital (of course no-one really controls capital, it controls them - but the alienation of the bourgeoisie - in the face of impersonal market forces - is qualitatively distinct from proletarian alienation - subordination to the boss or the requirements of the state to receive benefits, compelled to sell yourself for a wage to survive).