Statement against Israeli and Palestinian nationalisms; what's in a flag?

An attempt to present an internationalist perspective on the current situation in the West Bank, following Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip.

Submitted by Red Marriott on January 3, 2009

Most people in Israel will remember one thing about the protest later today (Sat 3/1/2009): that the organizers went to the Supreme Court in order to make sure they are allowed to present a Palestinian flag.

Now, I am in favor of anyone being able to present any kind of flag or no flag at any time. But one should ask what purpose a Palestinian (former PLO) flag would serve.

This protest is allegedly aimed at stopping the attack on Gaza. What does the Palestinian flag have to do with that? One would reply: "well, it represents support for the Palestinian resistance." To that I would have to further ask: what Palestinian resistance? Most sensible Palestinians in Gaza would like to get the hell out of the bombing area, not resist being bombed. What does it even mean to resist being bombed? Wave your hand against the incoming fighters?

This flag represents Palestinian nationalism, in the same way that the Israeli flag represents Israeli nationalism. Now, most readers of this website would probably associate Israeli nationalism with violence, oppression, and a thin veil covering up the rule of capitalists over our country. Why doesn't the same apply to Palestinian nationalism?

As we speak, Palestinians in the West Bank are being brutally oppressed and restrained, Palestinians who wish to protest against this same war. Why? Because the Palestinian Authority will not hear criticism, and will not step away from its only raison d'etre, being a subcontractor of Israeli control over the Occupied Territories.

Just months ago, these same Hamas leaders who are now hiding in bunkers and safehouses and recording messages of resistance to "their" people were refusing pay to teachers, wrecking Palestinian trade unions, killing innocent Palestinians in the streets as they fought their Fatah competitors, and shooting rockets at random civilian targets, in lieu of actual attempts at bettering the lives of hard-working and unemployed Palestinians.

While we are protesting the brutal bombing of Gaza by Israeli nationalism, we have to remember that Palestinian nationalism is merely less powerful, not less brutal. Unfortunately, this flag incident just plays into the hand of nationalism as an ideal, making it easier to dismiss dissent against the government as automatic support for "the enemy".

Of course, to be cynical, there is a very good reason why this fiasco came about. This protest, organized by the Israeli Communist Party's front Hadash, comes a day before the official launching of this party's election campaign. And Hadash needs to pander to its Palestinian nationalist base inside the Green Line in order to maintain its electoral power in the next elections against the Secular Nationalists (Al-Tajmua3) and the Muslim Movement. And this, again, plays into nationalism's hand, and ultimately, into the capitalists` hand.

This will only result in repeating cycles of violence, that will not end until it is realized that these nationalisms are there to cloud our judgment and to prevent us from focusing on the real issue, namely, that we are being sent to kill and die, and compete in the service of people who do not serve our interests, but their own. And that goes for both Israelis and Palestinians. Untie the Gordian knot of nationalism, and we will be on our way to have better lives for all.

Article written by a Libcom user in Israel and originally posted to Israel indymedia.

Comments

barog

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by barog on January 3, 2009

Natioanlism is the reason that killing in the Middle East has not stop, both are claiming that their fighting for the survival of their nation but when you really think of it, both nations (Israel and Palestine) are product of Imperialist war. The people of Israel and Palestine was not involve in this project they were pushed into this mess by the imperialist powers with the collaboration of the capitalist class of both nations, so you see, this nation thing is just a ruse to cloud the real issue on Israel and Palestine that is, they are both sold by their own bourgeoisie. Here is a question for the bourgeoisie of Israel and Palestine. if you really want to have peace why not share the same country under one nation? any way both of you are claiming the same land.

skeletor

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by skeletor on January 3, 2009

While I ultimately agree with what you are saying, there is something to be said for resistance to the Israeli occupation of Gaza. Flag can represent many things, and while the Palestinian flag may be a representation of a nationality, it still has some power as a symbol of defiance to Israel and the West (W. Europe and the U.S). This is similar to the Irish Flag in the Ulster provinces or in Free Derry. Southern Ireland is by no means a benevolent or liberatory force, however flying the Irish flag in Ulster is a symbol of defiance to the crown. (Interestingly enough they also fly Palestinian flags...)

So yes, I agree with the general thrust of this argument, but I think its a little more complicated than just flag or no flag.

davidbroder

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by davidbroder on January 4, 2009

Brief report and photos of Jan 3rd demo:
http://thecommune.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/photo-report-of-3rd-january-palestine-demo-london/
The left was not out in force quite as much as you'd expect (although more than at the weekday demos)
British Muslim Initiative's placards were most in evidence. There were not many Hamas flags at all but plenty of Hezbollah and some Islamic Republic of Iran supporters.

Caiman del Barrio

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on January 4, 2009

Clicked a couple of links from thecommune blog and found this:

http://antiisgood.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/anarchists-block-entrance-to-iaf-base-in-protest-of-gaza-strikes-we-who-resist-are-everywhere/

TOJ what's your critique of AATW? They aren't internationalist?

angrywhitekid

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by angrywhitekid on January 4, 2009

Are you kidding? Gaza is being massacred and instead of writing about that or taking action, you're blathering about a flag? That's rich. Reminds me of the clowns who spent Israel's destruction of Lebanon in 2006 trying to argue Israel is bad but Hezbollah is too. As if that's was a really pertinent issue at the moment.

Angelus Novus

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Angelus Novus on January 4, 2009

angrywhitekid,

sorry, you must have mistaken this website for Znet, where spluttering liberals like yourself can vent their impotent rage.

This is a communist website, a forum for people who advocate the abolition of the commodity-form of human labor and the state.

Angelus Novus

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Angelus Novus on January 4, 2009

P.S. I like the statement.

MT

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on January 4, 2009

As far as I know, there are several people in AATW who support creation of independent state, but it is hard to say if AATW openly declare themselves internationalists or not.

internasyonalista

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by internasyonalista on January 4, 2009

Here is a question for the bourgeoisie of Israel and Palestine. if you really want to have peace why not share the same country under one nation? any way both of you are claiming the same land.

why not ask the proletariat in Israel and Palestine instead of the capitalist class?

nationalism and nationalist wars only bring chaos and destruction.... only an internationalist consciousness within the vast majority of the working people of all countries could end wars...unfortunately that consciousness is almost absent in both Israel and Palestine except perhaps for one or two people there???

internasyonalista

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by internasyonalista on January 4, 2009

Flag can represent many things, and while the Palestinian flag may be a representation of a nationality, it still has some power as a symbol of defiance to Israel and the West (W. Europe and the U.S).

flags like Ret Marut posted is a symbol of a country, thus nationalism/patriotism; nothing more...

Duval

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Duval on January 4, 2009

I agree with you when you talk about nationalism in general. But do you think tha EZLN Flag has the same meaning as the Mexican State flag?

«Most sensible Palestinians in Gaza would like to get the hell out of the bombing area, not resist being bombed»

- Does this mean they shouldn't resist Israel State opression?

«lieu of actual attempts at bettering the lives of hard-working and unemployed Palestinians.»

- How is this possible with the Israel State economic blockade, and militar occupancy?

The way you put your words, you dismissed the fact that this is a colonialist war, from the ultra-nationalist State of Israel against the Palestinian people.

There is a good article abou thtis war from communist comrades:
http://anarkismo.net/article/11133

tsi

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by tsi on January 4, 2009

Duval

There is a good article abou thtis war from communist comrades:
http://anarkismo.net/article/11133

I tried to ignore this

sacrificed on the altar of Zionist expansionism and fundamentalism

and ultimately just stopped reading when I made it to

Apart from the important strategic and territorial alliance that Israel represents for American imperialism in the Middle East, it also has to deal with the powerful US Jewish economic lobby, which is strong enough to bring about a stong influence on US foreign policy

I keep thinking that Angelus Novus must have some sort of a complex, but then I'm reminded of the stupidity that really does exist within the left.

Anyways, I too love ToJ's statement, and will be sharing it with others. Hope you don't mind.

Submitted by angrywhitekid on January 4, 2009

angrywhitekid,

sorry, you must have mistaken this website for Znet, where spluttering liberals like yourself can vent their impotent rage.

This is a communist website, a forum for people who advocate the abolition of the commodity-form of human labor and the state.

All I'm saying is that it's cute for an Israeli to be spluttering on about flags, front groups and the working class - at the same time recycling state propaganda about Hamas - while Israel slaughters Gaza, likely within 50 miles of their home.

I'm honestly not clear what Znet, liberals or libcom's supposed mission have to do with this. Unless thinking that spluttering on about inane shit while mass murder is occurring is not that relevant makes me one of those.

internasyonalista

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by internasyonalista on January 4, 2009

The way you put your words, you dismissed the fact that this is a colonialist war, from the ultra-nationalist State of Israel against the Palestinian people.

The colonialist war by Israel imperialism is as destructive as the nationalist war wage by Hamas or whatever nationalist movements. Both of them derail the class struggle of the proletariat in both camps against their common enemy -- the bourgeoisies of both countries.

The essence of the post which I agree (despite the fact that it "focuses" on the issue of flags) is to expose that nationalism as an ideology is being used by rival imperialist powers not only in the Middle East but also in many third world countries.

barog

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by barog on January 4, 2009

quote:
why not ask the proletariat in Israel and Palestine instead of the capitalist class?

nationalism and nationalist wars only bring chaos and destruction.... only an internationalist consciousness within the vast majority of the working people of all countries could end wars...unfortunately that consciousness is almost absent in both Israel and Palestine except perhaps for one or two people there???

any tyrant will use nationalism and patriotism as an excuse not only to wage war on other nations but to it's own people too, palestinians and israelis have been used by their own tyrants that the only enemy they see is their neighbor,even to develop an internastionalist consciousness is out of their minds at this moment coz of the bombs and rockets that fall on their roofs.

quote:
The colonialist war by Israel imperialism is as destructive as the nationalist war wage by Hamas or whatever nationalist movements. Both of them derail the class struggle of the proletariat in both camps against their common enemy -- the bourgeoisies of both countries.

all colonialist war is destructive and all colonialist war is wage in the name of some vogue nationalism/patriotism slogan. war and terrorism not only derails class struggle but it also blunts class consciousness.

madashell

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by madashell on January 4, 2009

angrywhitekid, it's not just about the flag, it's about leftists lending support to nationalist forces in spats between two national ruling classes. Neither the Israeli nor the Palestinian working class have any material interest in continuing the conflict in Gaza.

What part of the statement do you think is "state propaganda" by the way? Were you under the impression that the Palestinian government is some kind of benevolant, progressive force in Gaza or something?

Escarabajo

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Escarabajo on January 4, 2009

It seems to me that despite their grand class analysis, many people on here are unable to draw a dividing line between the people of Gaza and Hamas. Surely anyone with any sense of solidarity with the working class people of Gaza would come out and support them. If anyone here thinks that equals support for Hamas then it obviosuly shows the limits of their analysis. Seems a lot of people are equating the people of Gaza with the power structure there in order to justify doing F*CK ALL.

Are the Israeli anarchos who mobilise against the invasion and occupation tait supporters of Hamas or Palestinian nationalism? I think not. For the people that it applies to, and i don't say its everyone. Stop finding excuses to hide behind, act in solidarity with the people of Gaza. If you're worried about giving tacit support to Hamas, make it clear what you're supporting and what you're not.

And about the flags. Whoever it is that thinks that they stand for nationalsim/patriotism and nothing more are frankly arrogant*****. They quite obviosuly mean lots of different things to different people and unless you think your analysis is the only one worthy of any consideration (quite likely, thinking about it) i'd advise you to **** about things of which you have no understanding. Personally I agree and would never use a state flag for anything other than burning or maybe wiping my arse but I respect the fact that I have many dedicated anarchist/libertarian comrades to whom the flag of their country does mean somethng very important. I disagree with it but can't deny its importance to them and to many others. We give attach value and meaning to things, therefore they can change. get over it.

admin abusive language and personal abuse deleted. Abusive language and personal abuse are not tolerated on article comments. Swear words on article comments cause sections of the site to be blocked for some users. Please desist.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 4, 2009

angrywhitekid, there's nothing abstract about denouncing nationalism of all kinds when it's being used to mobilise workers for mutual slaughter, pretty one-sidedly mutual in gaza as is the norm in asymmetric conflicts, but mutual nonetheless. the matter of the flag is just a means of saying this. If i were to burn an israeli flag on a lefty demo i'd be cheered. If i were to burn a palestinian one i'd be jeered or even physically confronted. The ideology of the 'nationalism of the oppressed' is deeply embedded in the left, and ToJ is right to point out that palestinian nationalism is merely less militarily powerful, not less brutal than its israeli counterpart. The difference is quantitative not qualitative; hamas and hezbollah are as part of the problem as the IDF - and it is not state propaganda but basic internationalism to say so. in fact to an extent these enemies need one another. As to duval's idea that workers shouldn't flee but 'resist', this just seems like macho posturing from a safe distance. If you're encouraging palestinians to join up to martyr themselves for hamas, i suggest you at least be consistent and encourage israelis to join the IDF to 'resist' rocket attacks. We should never cheerlead workers lining up to die for one section of the ruling class or other, it is precisely this urgent call to national defence in the face of massacres which sustains the very nationalism which makes such massacres possible in the first place.

Ed

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on January 4, 2009

Angrywhitekid, supposing Hamas did defeat Israel and set up their own state, how good do you reckon that would be for ordinary working class Palestinians?

Also, here's a few bits from libcom about repression of Palestinian workers' organisations by both Hamas and Fatah, for breaking 'national unity'.
Palestinian union hit on all sides
Interview with Rasem Al Bayari, Palestinian trade unionist
Armed gunmen attack Palestine Workers' Radio

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 4, 2009

escarabajo, nobody's equating opposing the attacks with supporting hamas. It's the calls for 'resistance' and claims that criticising hamas equals state propaganda which stray into this territory. And in any case hamas are not the only palestinian nationalists. There's nothing arrogant about calling national flags what they are; symbols of nationalism. Yes they mean a lot to some people, but so does ethnicity or religion. it's not the job of communists to patronisingly indulge such reactionary ideas, but to oppose them.

MT

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on January 4, 2009

Escarabajo:

Solidarity appeal of one czech anarchist organisation has this headline: "Solidarity with palestinian people". Yes, I can get over it because I rather look into the content of the appeal. The content cliams "... (we) strictly deny state terrorism of Isreal and express our solidarity with both Palestinians and Israelis who want to live in Peace". Yes, I can get over it as well. But the point is that I think this is something that some people want to critisize and I think it is correct to critisize this. And if one does so, then I see no point in saying fuck you to this criticism because the attitude which is I think similar to the "flag attitude" is something worth addressing.
But perhaps i didn't get the point of your "fuck you back" here.

Escarabajo

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Escarabajo on January 4, 2009

To the two replies to my post, well I actually largely agree with you both.
although:
Joseph K. i agree that we should call national flag symbols of nationalism, but my point was that they often mean something different i.e. not nationalism. and i think its arrogant to deny that symbols can have different meanings. for example is the red n black flag an anarchi syndicalist flag, anarcho-communist, the CNT flag or just plain anarchist. Or is it all of them and more.
My poitn was not about the dpeth of feeling (in that sense of meaning a lot to people) but that there can be a multiplicity of ideas attached to symbols and the ideas they can represent. Like I said, personally I agree but realise that i don't have a monopoly of interpretation. that's all.
And ethnicity is important, in many senses such as culture, language etc. when it becomes nationalist its a problem but i don't think its intrinsically so.

MT:
All I ws trying to do was criticise what I think is a blindly dogmatic reading of symbols such as flags and whatever actions or lack thereof associated with them. I really agree with angrywhitekid that this disucssion about flags etc. is hardly the most pertinent question at this time. and its not really an issue is it? if we don't support a national(ist) symbol then dont use it. but i don't think it should be an excuse not to act.
sorry if this doesn't explain mu point properly but i don't have any more time to sit here typing. i don't think i actually said' fuck you' to anyone though i huess is may have been implicit in a few comments i made

Django

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Django on January 4, 2009

Word to ToJ for writing this.

It seems that the conflating of the people in Gaza with their ruling class is only happening in the minds of those posters who are taking issue with this statement. No-one is denying that what is happening in that part of the world is horrific, but the point is to express solidarity with actual human beings rather than some abstract national collective, which inevitably means those who rule it.

Maybe Escarbarjo could expand on how love for nationalist symbolism can be compatible with a anarchism or libertarian communism, because I'm stumped at how they could be, for reasons expressed above. Just calling internationalists 'arrogant fuckwits' isnt that convincing.

Edit - cross post

Django

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Django on January 4, 2009

Escarabajo: The red and black flag is a very poor analogy. Its never been used as the flag of a national group with national aspirations.

How could the Palestinian flag represent anything but a national entity- i.e., a cross-class grouping which requires a state in order to have its national 'rights' realised and defended? I could understand that a union jack could mean different things to a BNP supporter, Billy Bragg and the Liberal Democrats, but they're all nationalists of different stripes (fascist, leftist, liberal), and their politics are all incompatible with libertarian communist ones.

Caiman del Barrio

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on January 4, 2009

Duval

I agree with you when you talk about nationalism in general. But do you think tha EZLN Flag has the same meaning as the Mexican State flag?

Er...don't the EZLN mostly use the Mexican tricolour actually?

«Most sensible Palestinians in Gaza would like to get the hell out of the bombing area, not resist being bombed»

- Does this mean they shouldn't resist Israel State opression?

But what does resisting mean? The Hamas leadership calls for "more suicide bomb attacks", is that valid? Or do you support the rocket attacks, which I would also define as terrorism since they're fired at random and hit overwhelmingly civilian targets.

Angrywhitekid's conduct on this thread has been scandalous, ditto Escabarajo when he arrived....although at least he calmed down and realised he was pretty much on the same page as us. Libcom isn't so pie in the sky and impractical after all, you're the ones calling on an imprisoned, disenfranchised, utterly unequipped social grouping to abstractly 'resist' a first world army which you believe controls the US government and the planets' allignment!! And then when everyone dies, you'll wring all your hands and organise another fucking demo.

Escarabajo - right so maybe some Mexican anarchos you know still have vestiges of pride in their national flag, I guess you're talking about the concept of "patria" which doesn't translate very well into Anglophone parlance. But do you think this is positive? I don't really see what gains there are in eulogising the Mexican state, in fact I'd call it a stumbling block on pretty much every revolutionary struggle in Mexico thus far and part of the reason the Mexican anarchist movt remains so marginal and theoretically lacking.

Finally, TOJ, I sent your statement to some pro-Palestinian anarchists I know...

MT

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on January 4, 2009

I think Escarabajo just wants to say that it is good to choose decent way of argueing against people who understand the symbol of national flag in their own ways. The one that would come to further common grounds easier than if we choose the styl that implicitly says "how can you be so dumb not to understand what the flag REALLY means". I guess...

Steven.

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on January 4, 2009

Angry white kid - actually, talking about the nature of the Palestinian leadership is important.

Hamas is calling for Palestinian working people to go, fight, kill Israeli working people, and die.

Yes, obviously the Israeli military has just murdered hundreds of Palestinians, and this is terrible.

However, ordinary Palestinians entering a war against a far superior military force which they cannot win would cause much more suffering. And if they would have nothing to gain from this war anyway, then it's very important to state this.

Many Americans felt the same way as you after the September 11th attacks - that American workers should go and fight in Afghanistan, and that criticising the American government at that time "while mass murder was occurring" shouldn't happen.

But of course, it was right to point out that ordinary Americans and "the nation" or the government have nothing in common.

It is also right to do that now to try to prevent more ordinary Palestinians being dragged into this conflict and butchered for the benefit of their own barbaric leaders.

Check out Ed's links for examples of how Palestinian authorities treat their own citizens.

IlanS

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by IlanS on January 4, 2009

Some people have very "abstract" one dimention approach to the struggle. There is no symetry between the Palestinians and Israelis. It is not just the Israeli capitalists at war with the Palestinian capitalists.... It is settler colonialist Zionist Israel that are gradually transferring the Palestinian out holding high the flag of solidarity of thieves in the long struggle with the Palestinians. The Palestinian flag is maily the popular flag against transferring out and suppressing along the way by Israel.

The national leadership of the Palestinian is of course compromising with Israel but as Israelis do not bribe them enough they still take part in the resistance to Israel.

The big Saturday demonstration was called by the general coalition against the war on Gasa the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative is part. Like the previous Saturday demonstration of hours after the beginning of present war activity.

For sure the Communist Party want to gain electoral profit from the demonstration as they always do when they are not afride. (The first 4-5 years after the 1967 war they were afraid and only the antiauthoritarian anticapitalist left - Matzpen had the "monopol" on the demonstrations.)

The Palestinian activists in the Bil'in and Ni'ilin struggle against the expansionist separation fence do hold the Palestinian flag as a symbol of defiance of Israel and not as promoting nationalism.

(AAtW is a direct action initiative that include anarchist and nonanarchists. Most of them are anti Zionists antiauthoritarian anticapitalists.)

MT

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on January 4, 2009

"(AAtW is a direct action initiative that include anarchist and nonanarchists. Most of them are anti Zionists antiauthoritarian anticapitalists.)"

If this sentence was meant to explain what the stand for (or if they support creation of independent state), then it needs to be more specific.

Ed

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on January 4, 2009

IlanS

Some people have very "abstract" one dimention approach to the struggle. There is no symetry between the Palestinians and Israelis. It is not just the Israeli capitalists at war with the Palestinian capitalists.... It is settler colonialist Zionist Israel that are gradually transferring the Palestinian out holding high the flag of solidarity of thieves in the long struggle with the Palestinians.

Ilan, no one said that this is just Israeli capitalists fighting Palestinian ones (if it was it wouldn't be so tragic).. the point is that working class Israelis and Palestinians are killing each other for the benefit of their own ruling classes. No one is claiming symmetry either, there is definitely one team that is stronger and better equipped than the other. But this doesn't make the resistance of Hamas or Fatah any more noble in nature, it just means that more Palestinian workers get killed fighting for something which will just turn around and kick them in the arse anyway. Palestinian nationalism is not anti-imperialist, it is a rival imperialist (albeit a much weaker one).

IlanS

The Palestinian flag is maily the popular flag against transferring out and suppressing along the way by Israel.

Who is against it? The Palestinian working class? Or 'Palestine' as a whole, bosses and workers, together? Since 1948 the workers of Israel and Palestine have been following these flags and all its led us too is more war, more death and more destruction, all for the benefit of our respective elites. Isn't it about time we tried to break people away from these flags (and the elites they represent)?

Also, supposing Hamas did defeat Israel and set up their own state, how good do you reckon that would be for ordinary working class Palestinians? Here's a few bits from libcom about repression of Palestinian workers' organisations by both Hamas and Fatah. I feel they show what all the support for Palestinian nationalists' political aims mean in reality:
Palestinian union hit on all sides
Interview with Rasem Al Bayari, Palestinian trade unionist
Armed gunmen attack Palestine Workers' Radio

Escarabajo

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Escarabajo on January 4, 2009

to admin. sorry about the language, I wasn't aware it was an issue. should've checked first. my mistake, again apologies.

If anyone was to check my posts what i took issue with was the comment that national flags were nationalist symbols and nothing more. it is quite patently false, whether we agree with it or not.

the re n black flag is a very good analogy for the purpose to which i put it which was to demonstrate that any given symbol can have a multiplicity of meanings.

Django. i haven't taken issue with the o.p. specifically. I also haven't said that a love of nationalist symbolism is a good thing. Perhaps the point was to subtle, although I thought it was pretty clear. My point was that any given symbol can have multiple meanings attached to it. So for example, a symbol that can be eulogised in the eyes of a nationalist, can have an altogether different meaning to others. I'm not suggesting that this is the case here, that is should be or that it shouldn't. Simply, i take issue with people who are so arrogant that they believe they hold the holy grail of well, everything and see the world in such black and white colours.

Alan. firstly, if its scandalous to draw attention to people's hyperbolic language and incredible arrogance, then yes i plead guilty. if using naughty words (unaware that it caused access issues for some) then yes i plead guilty to that as well.

The only call i made was for anarchist to show solidarity with the working class of Gaza.I weould've thought that would be a given for anyone with even the semblance of an internationlsit perspective. I haven't made a single comment or suggestion at to what the people on the ground there should or should not be doing.

the idea of the patria in Mexico has got nothing to do with the Mexican state, at least where much of the radical left is concerned. patria translates very easily into english, its just that our experiences that are very different to theirs, have tarnished the word. as i suspect you know very well,it translates as homeland. there is also the patria chica which is more to do with a particular state or region. its based on a shared cultural identity, one which witht eh multiplicity of cultural identities in mexico, serves not to divide people along nationalistic lines but to unite them along lines of shared, common experiences. The fact that these experiences diverge in many places is not to negate those areas where they do exist.

Wheher or not i think its a good thing is irrelevant to my point, which as explained various times, was the simple fact that things mean different things to different people. i find it pretty worrying that that is so controversial, but still...i would also disupute that the anarchist/liberarian movement is particularly theoretically lacking. if that lack means that they have an analysis that is informed by but not limited to european anarchist/lib communist thought then i suppose you're correct, but again, that shows how not everything can be applied in exactly the same manner the world over.
Also, I'd dispute that its particularly marginalised. I certainly wouldn't go so fa as to say that it was a huge force, but if we were to take anarchism to include its local forms that are particular to mexico, then its a hell of a lot stronger than in most places. They're not europeans, and don't subscribe wholesale to what many of them see as a predominantly a european ideology, whether we think so or not.

A demonstration of where it is not marginalised and one that should appeal to you, from yesterday:
The 25 anarchist and libertarians arrested on a gaza solidarity march (organised by libertarians) have been released, due in large part to pressure put on the state by Section 22 of the Teacher's Union.

MT: thanks for having the sense to actually look at what i said and not get all hysterical about it and not put words in my mouth.

no1

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on January 4, 2009

I think the most important point to make in the present situation is that ordinary Israelis should oppose the brutal attack on Gazans because it only serves Israeli elite interests.

According to the Gush Shalom report of the demo, the main thrust of the demo was to expose the bombing and now invasion of Gaza as being motivated by the upcoming election, rather than, as the official propaganda has it, by a wish to protect Israeli civialians from Hamas rockets:
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1231029668

“One does not build an election campaign over the dead bodies of children!” shouted the protesters in Hebrew rhymes. “Orphans and widows are not election propaganda!”, “Olmert, Livni and Barak – war is no game!”’ “All cabinet ministers are war criminals!!” Barak, Barak, don’t worry – we shall meet you in The Hague!”, “Enough, enough – speak with Hamas!”

The written posters were similar. Some of them paraphrased Barak’s election slogans: “Barak is not friendly, he is a murderer!” (The original Barak slogan says: “Barak is not friendly, he is a leader!”) Also: “No to the Election War, 2009!” and “The six-Knesset-seat war!” – an allusion to the polls which showed that in the first days of the war Barak’s Labor Party has gained six prospective seats.

The issue of the Palestinian flag was more marginal and stems from attempts by the state to derail opposition to the attack on Gaza (at least according to Gush Shalom):

The demonstration took place after a fight with the police, which tried to prevent or at least limit it, arguing that they would not be able to stop right-wing rioters from attacking it. Among other things, the police demanded that the organizers undertake to prevent the hoisting of Palestinian flags. The organizers petitioned the High Court of Justice, which decided that the Palestinian flag is legal and ordered the police to protect the demonstration from rioters,

So I think that this demo should have been supported because it gets the main thing right (which of course doesn't stop anyone from also criticising the deficiencies of the groups organising it, criticism which will carry more weight if it's made from within rather than from the sidelines). (And yes, I realise that I'm saying this with the benefit of hindsight, but I'm interested in working out the best political position in this.)

Caiman del Barrio

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on January 4, 2009

What's "scandalous" is how you and Angrywhitekid - not for the first time - stormed on here to tell us how fucking insane, impractical, out of touch, rubbish etc etc we were all being, only to actually read the debate and realise how your disagreements are actually pretty minimal. It's a really infuriating trait of some platformists to see themselves as reinventing the wheel when their quibbles are almost non-existent.

Now that's over and you're talking sanely and offering some interesting points, this can continue.

To be fair, the Oaxacan experience can't be generalised nationally, unfortunately and organised anarchists in Mexico are very, very lacking. Most anarchists I encountered were essentially squatter punxxxx imitating the North American anarchist scene in all its utter bullshit. I never came into contact with VOCAL though.

The term "patria" can't really be translated cos "Fatherland" ("pa" from "padre" no?) in English has Nazi undertones. If it has nothing to do with the state then why is it invoked in relation to national borders (by Hugo, Fidel, Evo) more importantly, why are we discussing it in relation to national flags? I worry that it's a vestige of bolivarianismo within the anarchist movement.

Steven.

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on January 4, 2009

Escarabajo, no worries about the language. Let's keep things polite.

Escarabajo

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Escarabajo on January 4, 2009

Well Alan, I had read what was then the entire debate before i posted anything, and as a normal, sane person would, drew attention to what I saw and continue to see as close-minded, dogmatic positions that fail to take into account subtleties of the human experience that can't necesarily be found in textbooks. I refer to textbooks because of what I see as somewhat excessive attachment to literal reading of and inablility to question some of the shibboleths of libertarian thought.

So essentially we're talking of your encounters with and analysis of squat punks, who I'd agree are largely the same the world over. I'd also agree that what is happening in Oaxaca is not replicated all throughout Mexico. Bu ttha's not to say that there aren't many similarities and paralells, because there are. Again, I think you're seeing the terms 'anarchist' and 'organisation' in very limited, Eurocentric terms, which I think is a mistake.

We're talking about national flags and the patria beacuse you mentioned them together i believe. can't be bothered to go back n check so apologies if it wasn't you. Maybe we differ here, but i don't view Fidel, Chavez or Morales as legitmate members of the radical left, which is what i was referring to in my comment. I feel very confident that Bolivarianismo is a tiny to non-existent trend in the radical left in Mexico, its a lot more to do with South America.

I myself explained about the word patria being tarnished here, which is exactly why i translated it not as 'fatherland' but the less controversial 'homeland'. theres no need to cling to outdated gender terms in the language when we no longer have them in english, unlike spanish or german for example. same way people there tlak about their 'patrimonia' which has the same etymological root, but means inheritance or birthright.

Duval

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Duval on January 4, 2009

I think this is being a good discussion, which as we see had to be taken between anti-authoritarian/libertarians.

I agree with the most commentaries and want to make clear that i would never support any flag or nationalism..

But..

we should not forget this war is a massacre, happening at this moment, and we should take action, not staying appart, reducing this conflict to a question of flags and nationalism.

--

Internasyonalist quoted me and answered: «The colonialist war by Israel imperialism is as destructive as the nationalist war wage by Hamas or whatever nationalist movements.»

Did i speak about Hamas? I spoke about Palestinian people, wich is very different. It seems that you are reducing Palestinian people struggle to Hamas nationalism, wich is not true. It´s true that Hamas and their nationalist militaryzed movement is using and instrumentalizing Palestinian people, but this is not a reason to dismiss Palestinians strugle against Israel State imperialism.

And if Hamas was an internationalist/anarchist movement fighting against Israeli State, would you support them? Would Israeli State give up their mass murder answeers if the opponents were an anarchist palestinian people's movement? I dont think so.

--

Alan quoted me and answered: «don't the EZLN mostly use the Mexican tricolour actually?»

That's why i did the question. Do you think the Zapatista movement (despite the name EZLN and the use of a national flag, which i dislike) have the same goals and beliefs as the elite in Mexican government? I don't think so.

Alan quoted me and answered: «But what does resisting mean? The Hamas leadership calls for "more suicide bomb attacks", is that valid? Or do you support the rocket attacks, which I would also define as terrorism since they're fired at random and hit overwhelmingly civilian targets. »

As you can guest, i oppose Hamas as i oppose Israel Army, which i think are not so different.. But i don't blind myself reducing this conflict to only these 2 counterparts. The resistance of the Palestinian People means the struggle against Israel State and against other political organizations like Amas. The resistance means, not throwing random rockets against civilians, but organizing in a an anarchist class struggle united with Israeli people, and use whatever means they choice.

I think this struggle would be a really threat for the Zionist (ulta-nationalist) Israel state and also for Hamas.

--

Joseph K. quoeted me said: «As to duval's idea that workers shouldn't flee but 'resist', this just seems like macho posturing from a safe distance. If you're encouraging palestinians to join up to martyr themselves for hamas, i suggest you at least be consistent and encourage israelis to join the IDF to 'resist' rocket attacks»

It looks that you don't want to understand what i´m saying, and you try to put words on my mouth.

Where did i said that Palestinian workers should join up to martyrs of Hamas? Do you think the only options that Palestinian workers have is either flee or join Hamas? It looks that you have an obsession with Hamas, like the Israel State politics.. And also, the way you put your words, it looks like you acept the Israel State propaganda, that they are only resisting and retaliating to Hamas rocket attacks.

Is it a macho posturing to resist the state?

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 4, 2009

Duval

It looks that you don't want to understand what i´m saying, and you try to put words on my mouth.

Where did i said that Palestinian workers should join up to martyrs of Hamas? Do you think the only options that Palestinian workers have is either flee or join Hamas? It looks that you have an obsession with Hamas, like the Israel State politics.. And also, the way you put your words, it looks like you acept the Israel State propaganda, that they are only resisting and retaliating to Hamas rocket attacks.

Is it a macho posturing to resist the state?

what concrete 'resistance' are you actually advocating then? it's macho posturing because you haven't suggested anything concrete, and from a presumably safe distance you're advocating palestinian workers engage in abstract 'resistance' to one of the most powerful militaries on earth. sheltering in a basement really may be one of the most practical things palestinians can do, since the borders are sealed flight seems out of the question. it's a depressing humanitarian situation for sure.

Israel is not simply retaliating to Hamas rocket attacks, and neither are Hamas simply responding to the blockade on Gaza. Both are ruling class groups with agendas of their own. The IDF admits the offensive won't stop rocket attacks [1], and it's clear how both the Israeli state and Hamas need one another to justify their respective postions of power. This has nothing to do with regurgitating Israeli propaganda (does Israeli propaganda call their offensive a massacre?), and everything to do with a communist analysis that sees nothing but perpetuated barbarism by calling for workers to take sides in national wars.

[1] "An Israeli military source told the BBC it was unrealistic to stop all the rocket fire"

Escarabajo

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Escarabajo on January 4, 2009

and Django, though its not relevant to my point you're incorrect when you say

The red and black flag is a very poor analogy. Its never been used as the flag of a national group with national aspirations

The Sandinistas.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 4, 2009

Escarabajo

and Django, though its not relevant to my point you're incorrect when you say
Quote:

The red and black flag is a very poor analogy. Its never been used as the flag of a national group with national aspirations

The Sandinistas.


sandinista flag


anarchist flag

nearest thing i can find is this...

papua new guinea's national flag. but i don't think the design has anything to do with anarchism, and is co-incidenta (although their national motto is 'unity in diversity' like the movement of movements types!)l.

Duval

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Duval on January 4, 2009

I agree with your last words Joseph K., now you look more clear to me.

I'm not advogating that the best for Palestinian people to do, at this moment and circunstances, is take armed confrontation with the very powerfull Israel State army. But it isn't because they don't have the true right to do it, it is for their own safety.

What i can suggest in concrete, at this moment, is for international solidarity with the Palestinian people. This can be demonstrating in front of Israel State embassys, boycot Israel products, and intensificate international protests against the cumplicity that the governments in our countries have with Israel government.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 4, 2009

Duval

What i can suggest in concrete, at this moment, is for international solidarity with the Palestinian people. This can be demonstrating in front of Israel State embassys, boycot Israel products, and intensificate international protests against the cumplicity that the governments in our countries have with Israel government.

i think it's this solidarity with an abstract national collective ('the palestinian people') rather than concrete human beings that leans towards nationalism. for instance, i see no reason from a humanitarian or communist point of view to give more sympathy to palestinian victims of israeli rockets than israeli victims of palestinian ones. this isn't to propose a military symmetry - as i said above this is a textbook asymmetric conflict and that means a very asymmetric death toll. i'm not opposed to demonstrations against barbarism, and in the absence of hamas-related buildings in the UK the only real symbolic locations are israeli. but these demos are overwhelmingly dominated by flag-waving nationalists and leftist third-worldism. participation in these demos that doesn't clearly reject nationalism of all stripes is very problematic, because it hijacks a human abhorrance at barbarism into support for the very ideologies that perpetuate it (much like when Stop the War Coalition invited a spokesperson for Al-Sadr, i.e. one of the combatants to speak at a notionally 'anti-war' demo).

Escarabajo

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Escarabajo on January 4, 2009

i expected taht response about the flag, but was hoping not to get it.
there were the orginal sandinistas in the 20's, that included anarchist types, hence the colours of the flag which was divided vertically between red and black, with a skull and crossbones as well.
the FSLN, a group with national(istic) intentions then modified the flag. my point was not that it was the CNT folag, or whatever anyone wants to term it, but that it was indeed an anarchist flag or at the very least an anarchist-inspired flag that was being used in a nationalist context. I was told that it had never been used in that way, and merely pointed out that it had.

I hope that you're not suggesting that the only 'truly anarchist' re and balck flag would be one divided diagonally, with red above and black below....or are you?

And getting back on topic:

As for participating in the demos, wouldn't it be nice to see an anarchist presence that showed its support for the working class people of the area but also came out very strongly against what's happening right now.
and if we view the main problem here as capitalism and the state system (which surely we should), then we don't even need to go near anything that has anything to do with israel, palestine, gaza or wherever. shut down some roads, disrupt the flow of capital whatever you want. if we are internationalists, and view the causes of this and every crisis as being the international state/capitalist system,then we should act accordingly.

Duval

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Duval on January 4, 2009

i don't think "Palestinian people" is a collective abstract concept. As i understand it, it is the same as saying "concrete human beings living in Palestina".

I am in support of demonstrations from an anarchist point of view, like the AATW, rejecting all kind of nationalisms. If we meet with other groups in the same place, it doesn't mean that we are there saying the same thing and that we should not be there.

I also believe, that many people who want to show their repugnace against the Gaza bombings, may sometimes, carry palestinian flags. It doesn't mean that they consciously acept palestinian nationalism, but maybe because (no having a more deep understanding anarchist perspective) they think it reprents the concrete human beings living in Palestina.

as i said before, i'm very close to your point of view.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 4, 2009

Escarabajo

I was told that it had never been used in that way, and merely pointed out that it had.

ok, this is probably true. lots of anarchists do support nationalism, so it's not surprising. of course, the anarchist red and black flag is still not the flag of a nation state or of a nation - whereas a national flag is irredemably nationalist, by definition.

Duval, yes our views to appear closer than at first glance. but like i say the problem is what makes palestinian victims of israeli rockets more worthy of sympathy than the (much smaller number of) israeli victims of palestinian rockets? surely our solidarity is with the (overwhelimingly proletarian) civilian population of the region, not any one nationality?

petey

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by petey on January 4, 2009

this thread has been useful in distinguishing the leftist position from the anti-statist/internationalist position. i much support toj's statement.

Duval

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Duval on January 4, 2009

civilian population of the region is the best designation - meaning for me the people of Palestina, which include all the people living in the area. This area include the State of Israel and the people living in the area include "native" and "foreigners" of all religions.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 5, 2009

no problem with that. i know such quibbles can seem overly semantic when people are dying in their hundreds, but they're being killed by concrete consequences of nationalist ideology, so it's vital that our responses to such atrocities don't reinfoce such ideologies.

no1

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on January 5, 2009

What I find odd in this debate about nationalism is that often people seem to abandon a materialist conception of things. Just to pick one example (there are others):

[...]people are dying in their hundreds, but they're being killed by concrete consequences of nationalist ideology, so it's vital that our responses to such atrocities don't reinfoce such ideologies. [...]

Isn't that pure idealism? The way I see it, the killing of people in their hundreds is motivated by Israeli elite interests, and that is then rationalised, justified, propagandised in nationalist terms. But the ideology they use to justify their actions isn't important as such, if primitivism did a better job at justifying it, they'd use primmo concepts in their propaganda.

I think it's just not true to say that Israeli nationalism and Palestinian nationalism are identical. Israeli nationalism serves Israeli elite interests and not much more. Palestinian nationalism serves the interests of the Palestinian elites, but I believe that, in a situation of systematic dispossession and overwhelming military threat, it also expresses a collective will to resist and to survive. Of course that needs to be discussed, criticised etc., but resistance and survival are certainly legitimate goals.

Nationalism needs to be fought as an ideology mainly because it obscures class interests, it blinds the working class. But nationalism doesn't go around killing people, it's the state that's killing people.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 5, 2009

no1

Isn't that pure idealism? The way I see it, the killing of people in their hundreds is motivated by Israeli elite interests, and that is then rationalised, justified, propagandised in nationalist terms. But the ideology they use to justify their actions isn't important as such, if primitivism did a better job at justifying it, they'd use primmo concepts in their propaganda (...) Nationalism needs to be fought as an ideology mainly because it obscures class interests, it blinds the working class. But nationalism doesn't go around killing people, it's the state that's killing people.

while the conflict has material roots, nationalism is the ideology that mobilises people to fight it. ideas can have material effects - we shouldn't be supporting those ideas which sustain fratricidal conflict, hence an opposition to the present barbarism requires an opposition to all nationalisms, even while understanding the appeal of 'the nationalism of the oppressed' to victim-seeking ressentimental leftists.

no1

I think it's just not true to say that Israeli nationalism and Palestinian nationalism are identical. Israeli nationalism serves Israeli elite interests and not much more. Palestinian nationalism serves the interests of the Palestinian elites, but I believe that, in a situation of systematic dispossession and overwhelming military threat, it also expresses a collective will to resist and to survive. Of course that needs to be discussed, criticised etc., but resistance and survival are certainly legitimate goals.

palestinian nationalism is an expression of a will to survive in the same way zionism is (the constant invocation of the shoah, and the threats to 'drive the jews into the sea'). the differences are quantitative not qualitative, both invoke a threat to the very existance of the nation and point to the hostile Other as the embodiment of this threat. one threat's just a lot better armed than the other one, that's all.

again, what is this 'resistance' of which you speak? do you mean civil disobedience against concrete things like the wall (no pun intended) or checkpoints (or hamas brutality for that matter)? do you mean taking up arms for national defence? 'resistance' is a very ambiguous term if left unqualified, especially when the official resistance are a bunch of murderous gangsters. of course no-one is opposing survival (whether this is the same thing as or in contradiction with 'resistance' depends on what is meant by the latter).

no1

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on January 5, 2009

JK wrote
while the conflict has material roots, nationalism is the ideology that mobilises people to fight it. ideas can have material effects - we shouldn't be supporting those ideas which sustain fratricidal conflict, hence an opposition to the present barbarism requires an opposition to all nationalisms

I think this implies that the I-P conflict should be understood as the clash of two nationalisms and an ensuing cycle of violence, more or less in isolation from outside interests - is this your analysis of the conflict?

(If you have any doubts, I have zero interest in "supporting those ideas which sustain fratricidal conflict", I'm interested in getting rid of shit politics, which may be my own, through reasoned discussion)

JK wrote
palestinian nationalism is an expression of a will to survive in the same way zionism is (the constant invocation of the shoah, and the threats to 'drive the jews into the sea'). the differences are quantitative not qualitative

This is where I disagree - the survival of all Palestinians (the concrete human beings, not the abstract concept of a Palestinian nation) is under massive threat, the survival of all Israelis is not. One is based on reality, the other is almost entirely nationalist propaganda. If you want any evidence for that you only need to have a look at the body count.

JK wrote
again, what is this 'resistance' of which you speak?

I wasn't thinking of any concrete forms of resistance or organisations. To be honest, I have no idea what form of resistance could be advocated, and since my existence isn't on the line, I feel I'm not well placed to make such judgments. By resistance I meant simply the wish to resist forms of collective punishment and dispossession such as bombing, incursions, checkpoints, bulldozing of houses, the destruction of social infrastructure (e.g. universities) and the basis of economic activity (the blockade etc). I do believe that resistance in this sense is legitimate as it derives from concrete material needs (as opposed to nationalist ideology or national 'needs'), and I believe that it would be politically suicidal to deny that.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 5, 2009

no1

I think this implies that the I-P conflict should be understood as the clash of two nationalisms and an ensuing cycle of violence, more or less in isolation from outside interests - is this your analysis of the conflict?

not at all, clearly the situation cannot be understood without regard to imperialist interests. but Israeli workers are not marching into battle behind the stars and stripes and leftists aren't waving Iranian flags. actually some of them are. fucksake.

no1

(If you have any doubts, I have zero interest in "supporting those ideas which sustain fratricidal conflict", I'm interested in getting rid of shit politics, which may be my own, through reasoned discussion)

i know comrade, and i appreciate the spirit of reason in contrast to much of what passes for 'debate' on such controversial topics.

no1

This is where I disagree - the survival of all Palestinians (the concrete human beings, not the abstract concept of a Palestinian nation) is under massive threat, the survival of all Israelis is not. One is based on reality, the other is almost entirely nationalist propaganda. If you want any evidence for that you only need to have a look at the body count.

i don't think the extermination of the population of the west bank and gaza is on the cards at all. yes there's a horrific asymmetric bodycount reflecting the military asymmetry of the conflict, but i don't think Israel's intention is, or has ever been extermination. 'transfer' perhaps, as a consequence of imposed intolerable conditions, but this is not a threat to survival of concrete human beings so much as the death of the abstract 'nation' with its ties to particular territorial claims (this 'destruction of a national group' arguably falls within the UN definition of genocide, fwiw).

no1

I do believe that resistance in this sense is legitimate as it derives from concrete material needs (as opposed to nationalist ideology or national 'needs'), and I believe that it would be politically suicidal to deny that.

but asserting an abstract right without concrete content is just niceties. it has no meaning. i'm not going to oppose palestinians organising certain forms of collective action to improve, or simply protect their lives (of course!). but the abstract call for 'resistance' is the call raised by hamas, and i think that's problematic.

petey

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by petey on January 5, 2009

while the conflict has material roots, nationalism is the ideology that mobilises people to fight it. ideas can have material effects

as the old saying goes, "ideas have consequences"

(ps - i had to cut and paste this - where's the 'quote' function?)

bouncingsoul

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bouncingsoul on January 5, 2009

Im in a bit of a pickle over this.

On the one hand, I can't help but feel i fully assent to these arguments as just basic internationalism that as an anarchist communist i support.

However, what is so important about communism is how it is the politics of direct fulfillment of human need/desire/potential etc, and so in situations like this it becomes tricky. It would appear that all Palestinians, proletarian or bourgeois have a direct material interest in ending the Israeli occupation and all that it brings, this war included. As such, the consistent communist line is perhaps problematic when applied to this situation. The palestinians are denied national rights. While as communists we take issue with, and critique the very concept of "national rights", in cases like this it seems that winning national rights is in line with the perceived, and very real material interests of the people living in the region.

For example, there exists an NGO called stateless, which through charitable activity and campaigning aims to help those people who are "stateless", that is the citizens of no state, and thus some of the most vulnerable people on earth. The point is that national rights are actually directly important to a lot of people in the world, because having/winning them to some extent provides a certain level of security. This is particularly true for people who live under brutal military occupation, backed by the worlds largest military power.

While I would obviously prefer libertarian, class based resistance to all israeli and palestinian political bodies, which crosses the imposed national boundaries between the workers of Israel and Palestine, the opportunity for this is extremely limited in the context of a viscous and asymmetrical ground war. I never want the political positions I advocate to actually support outcomes which lead to more human suffering than perhaps some (not strictly) communist alternative, for the forseeable future. An unabashed win for Israel may well mean this, given the lack of potential for a real communist alternative.

Having said that, maybe it is the case that as anarchist communists, regardless of the situation, it is our job to make our arguments, and in doing so create the potentials for class struggle alternatives to national liberation struggles?

Last year I did a training session with the ISM (a palestinian led international solidairy movement, which brings vital international presence to non-violent direct action struggles against the israeli occupation, which has solid links with Israeli people), with a view to going out there (the west bank) at some point in the near future. No doubt, the people I will/may engage with while out there will have aspirations of nationhood and statehood, and will fly the flag. Should this jar with me to the extent that I shouldn't go, on account of my politics, despite the fact that their activity may well provide some of the best opportunities for Palestinian people to improve their lot?

Im rambling, but cant help it cos im a little confused. Any thoughts on my comments?

Khawaga

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 5, 2009

Last year I did a training session with the ISM (a palestinian led international solidairy movement, which brings vital international presence to non-violent direct action struggles against the israeli occupation, which has solid links with Israeli people), with a view to going out there (the west bank) at some point in the near future. No doubt, the people I will/may engage with while out there will have aspirations of nationhood and statehood, and will fly the flag. Should this jar with me to the extent that I shouldn't go, on account of my politics, despite the fact that their activity may well provide some of the best opportunities for Palestinian people to improve their lot?

Nah, just go. I've been there twice with the ISM and I know of a few other committed internationalists that have been as well and did not have any problems. Most of the struggles that ISM participate in are more livelihood-based than anything else and IMO are very worthwhile supporting. Going there actually helped clarify my politics regarding nationalism vs internationalism.

You will however meet lots of folks with pretty shit politics (for example, ISM activists refusing to go into West Jerusalem or Tel Aviv).

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 5, 2009

(edit: some of this sounds more abrasive than i intended. writing in the office in between doing work makes me sound snappier :( )

bouncingsoul

in cases like this it seems that winning national rights is in line with the perceived, and very real material interests of the people living in the region.

what 'national rights'? fatah screw palestinian workers like israel does, in fact they're widely seen as corrupt israeli proxies, hence support for Hamas. are conditions materially better in Gaza under Hamas than under Israeli occupation? I don't know. Yes you can blame the Israeli blockade for the conditions (although it doesn't seem to harm the lifestyle of Ismail Haniya and crew), but the blockade is an example of the fiction of 'national independence' or 'national liberation' - similarly seen with post-colonial countries subject to the whims of the IMF. imperialism is not a policy of this or that state, but something immanent to a global system of competing nation-states. The point is a struggle to improve material conditions has nothing to do with 'national rights' since 'indiginous' rulers can be just as (or more) repressive as occupiers ('independent' north korea vs 'imperialized' south korea for example).

i think framing such struggles in national terms leads them into cul-de-sacs. yes, palestinians are oppressed on the basis of their passports (so to speak), just like blacks have long suffered police harasment for the colour of their skin. but you don't see anyone except Nation of Islam mentalists advocating the solution as an independent black nation-state, because it's ridiculous; the abstract imagined community of the nation adds nothing to concrete struggles over living conditions.

bouncingsoul

For example, there exists an NGO called stateless, which through charitable activity and campaigning aims to help those people who are "stateless", that is the citizens of no state, and thus some of the most vulnerable people on earth. The point is that national rights are actually directly important to a lot of people in the world, because having/winning them to some extent provides a certain level of security.

i think you're referring to citizenship rights here, not 'national rights.' these could be realised in a bi-national state as much as a 'sovereign free palestine,' perhaps more so. equally, campaigns to regularise illegal immigrants don't demand an independent immigrant nation or nations, but regularised citizenship rights. in any case the logical correlate of a lack of citizenship rights is to argue for civil-rights type struggles rather than 'national liberation.'

bouncingsoul

No doubt, the people I will/may engage with while out there will have aspirations of nationhood and statehood, and will fly the flag. Should this jar with me to the extent that I shouldn't go, on account of my politics, despite the fact that their activity may well provide some of the best opportunities for Palestinian people to improve their lot?

lots of workers have reactionary ideas, the majority of the global proletariat probably wave national flags or believe in backwards religions (tautology) or both. this doesn't preclude concrete solidarity on a class based or simply humanist level. i don't know a lot about the ISM specifically, but the impression i get is it's involved with opposing concrete effects of the occupation on the ground on a basically humanitarian level, rather than fighting for an abstract 'national liberation.' i've no idea their attitude to Hamas/Fatah and how they concretely fuck palestinians to (or whether they could do anything about it anyway).

Submitted by no1 on January 5, 2009

Joseph K.

while the conflict has material roots, nationalism is the ideology that mobilises people to fight it. ideas can have material effects - we shouldn't be supporting those ideas which sustain fratricidal conflict, hence an opposition to the present barbarism requires an opposition to all nationalisms
no1

I think this implies that the I-P conflict should be understood as the clash of two nationalisms and an ensuing cycle of violence, more or less in isolation from outside interests - is this your analysis of the conflict?
Joseph K.

not at all, clearly the situation cannot be understood without regard to imperialist interests. but Israeli workers are not marching into battle behind the stars and stripes and leftists aren't waving Iranian flags. actually some of them are. fucksake.

I think we need to lift the veil of nationalist rhetoric to see what lies at the heart of the conflict. What sustains the I-P conflict is the particular constellation of interests of the involved parties, rather than nationalism. The way I see it, the US have a strong interest in conflict persisting, because it is the conflict that makes Israel dependent on US support ; Israeli elites also have a strong interest in maintaining the conflict because of strategic objectives they hope to further and because the conflict increases their hold on the Israeli nation ; given their weak position, Palestinian elites have more of an interest in ending the conflict : Fatah just want to start lording it over their bantustan, while Hamas are fighting for a bigger piece of the cake but are basically happy to settle the conflict that may yet destroy them as a future rulers. (I don't think Iran plays a very important role in shaping the conflict.) So, despite Palestinian elites wanting a resolution to the conflict, it persists because Israel with US support is in overall control of the situation. The point being that Palestinian nationalism is not responsible for continuing the conflict, because their nationalists want to settle anyway.
Israeli nationalism is indeed used to mobilise workers against their class interest for the actual fighting. Now it would be nice if the Israeli working class started acting in their class interest and, in solidarity with Palestinian workers, overthrew their warmongering elites. But I think we agree that communism as a solution to the conflict isn't on the menu for now.
The unlikelihood of a communist solution to the conflict doesn't absolve us (living in the West) from trying to promote an end to the conflict, and since US support is crucial for continued Israeli rejectionism, communists in the West are in a position to work towards an end of the conflict by focusing on US (and wider Western) support for Israel. In turn, I think if we try to achieve that, it may give the Palestinian working class more confidence in communism and promote a break with nationalism.
(OK - I'm not mental - since we're a minuscule force, all of what I just wrote is pie in the sky, but I want to outline a politics that goes beyond a dogmatic rejection of nationalism.)

no1

This is where I disagree - the survival of all Palestinians (the concrete human beings, not the abstract concept of a Palestinian nation) is under massive threat, the survival of all Israelis is not. One is based on reality, the other is almost entirely nationalist propaganda. If you want any evidence for that you only need to have a look at the body count.
Joseph K.

i don't think the extermination of the population of the west bank and gaza is on the cards at all. yes there's a horrific asymmetric bodycount reflecting the military asymmetry of the conflict, but i don't think Israel's intention is, or has ever been extermination. 'transfer' perhaps, as a consequence of imposed intolerable conditions, but this is not a threat to survival of concrete human beings so much as the death of the abstract 'nation' with its ties to particular territorial claims (this 'destruction of a national group' arguably falls within the UN definition of genocide, fwiw).

I agree that genocide isn't on the cards in the present situation, but I think that situation can potentially change rapidly - for example if there's a war on Iran that then spreads into a wider regional war, genocide may actually become likely. War cheapens human life, making the previously unthinkable normal - just think of how the firebombing of Hamburg and Tokyo became pretty unremarkable.
But I didn't express myself well, my point was not about making predictions of what may or may not happen to Palestinians, but instead that Palestinians (as concrete human beings, not the abstract nation) are affected in a very different, much more severe manner by the conflict, and that this forms a material basis contributing to Palestinian nationalism.

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 5, 2009

no1

What sustains the I-P conflict is the particular constellation of interests of the involved parties, rather than nationalism. The way I see it, the US have a strong interest in conflict persisting, because it is the conflict that makes Israel dependent on US support

there are competing imperialist interests in the region, and the conflict cannot be understood without regard to their not inconsiderable influence. however, to go as far to say nationalism plays no part in sustaining the conflict is misguided imho. there are rival national projects with a claim to the same land, and these wouldn't just disappear if the oil ran out and the US lost all interest in the region. equally, hostility to Israel is not solely on account of the ongoing conflict; even if a peace were reached, you'd still have competing national capitals in a resource-rich region with a whole load of religious ideology thrown into the mix to.

no1

So, despite Palestinian elites wanting a resolution to the conflict, it persists because Israel with US support is in overall control of the situation. The point being that Palestinian nationalism is not responsible for continuing the conflict, because their nationalists want to settle anyway.

i'm not convinced this is true, the militant groups need conflict in the way the IDF need terrorists. while Fatah seems happy to adopt the role of comprador bourgeoisie, Hamas seem more committed to conflict. in any event, even if palestinian nationalists want to settle on pragmatic grounds on account of military weakness, this in no way detracts from the fact that as long as the conflict persists (whoever you pin the blame on), nationalist ideology plays a major role recruiting martyrs to the cause - a cause of pointless bloodshed from the point of view of palestinian workers, since rockets fired at Israeli towns or dead and wounded Israeli soldiers offer the working class nothing.

no1

The unlikelihood of a communist solution to the conflict doesn't absolve us (living in the West) from trying to promote an end to the conflict, and since US support is crucial for continued Israeli rejectionism, communists in the West are in a position to work towards an end of the conflict by focusing on US (and wider Western) support for Israel. In turn, I think if we try to achieve that, it may give the Palestinian working class more confidence in communism and promote a break with nationalism.
(OK - I'm not mental - since we're a minuscule force, all of what I just wrote is pie in the sky, but I want to outline a politics that goes beyond a dogmatic rejection of nationalism.)

there's nothing dogmatic about rejecting nationalism. yes it's a principle but it's also pragmatic as fuck; national flags are soaked in workers blood, nationalists offer martydom and nothing concrete. it's all blood sacrifice for 'the nation.' as you acknowledge we're in no real position to do anything about a situation half way around the world. yes, we should point out US support for Israel and the conflict (although to be fair the BBC do this these days), but we can't have much influence because of our own weakness. if we get ourselves into any position of class power we may be able to offer some practical internationalist solidarity to workers in the region (i see no reason to specify nationalities here).

no1

I agree that genocide isn't on the cards in the present situation, but I think that situation can potentially change rapidly - for example if there's a war on Iran that then spreads into a wider regional war, genocide may actually become likely. War cheapens human life, making the previously unthinkable normal - just think of how the firebombing of Hamburg and Tokyo became pretty unremarkable.

this is true, but it cuts both ways. look at Saddam's Scud attacks on Israel. Iran could go chemical (or biological, if they have smallpox or something) if really pushed. In such a regional conflagration attempts to wipe various groups of the map become more likely. Which is precisely why we shouldn't offer any support, critical or otherwise for the ideologies which help recruit for such conflicts; hence we should be critical of leftists/islamists on demos waving hezbollah or iranian flags for example.

no1

my point was not about making predictions of what may or may not happen to Palestinians, but instead that Palestinians (as concrete human beings, not the abstract nation) are affected in a very different, much more severe manner by the conflict, and that this forms a material basis contributing to Palestinian nationalism.

yes, the humanitarian situation faced by the palestinian population is on the whole much more dire than that faced by Israelis. no-one in their right mind would dispute this. but communism isn't about seeking out the most noble victims. of course these dire conditions contribute to the grip of nationalist ideology in the region. but every rocket attack on israeli towns, no less than every hellfire rocket into a crowded refugee camp, makes a lasting resolution to the conflict more remote by further entrenching the us and them nationalism. it's not about asserting ficticious military or humanitarian symmetry, but pointing out the differences between palestinian and israeli nationalism are quantitative not qualitative.

Duval

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Duval on January 6, 2009

nationalist ideology plays a major role recruiting martyrs to the cause - a cause of pointless bloodshed from the point of view of palestinian workers, since rockets fired at Israeli towns or dead and wounded Israeli soldiers offer the working class nothing.

it's true that nationalist ideology is a cause of pointless bloodsheld from the point of the working class, because it only creates divisions and separation in the conflict area, and hides the true enemys.

But any attack (with or without rockets) from a working class internationalist perspective against soldiers and armed military groups in the area, gives a positive sign in the struggle against the state. And in this case (quantitive): the stronguest state, the stronger enemy..

Joseph Kay

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on January 6, 2009

Duval

But any attack (with or without rockets) from a working class internationalist perspective against soldiers and armed military groups in the area, gives a positive sign in the struggle against the state. And in this case (quantitive): the stronguest state, the stronger enemy..

so was winston Churchill anti-state in 1941, but this mantle had passed to Hitler by 1945? Inter-state conflicts aren't anti-state, and the militarily weaker side isn't less anti-working class because they have shit weapons. This whole picking sides in nationalist conflicts on the basis of weakness is problematic from the off, although i think it reflects a wider problem on the left of victim politics and slave morality.

Hiroshima

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Hiroshima on January 16, 2009

Hiroshima

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Hiroshima on January 16, 2009

Hiroshima

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Hiroshima on January 16, 2009

up the ra

IlanS

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by IlanS on May 3, 2012

MT

As far as I know, there are several people in AATW who support creation of independent state, but it is hard to say if AATW openly declare themselves internationalists or not.

AATW was found by anarchists and other radicals supporting direct action against the wall and occupation. Most of the activists these times are anarchists and other anti authoritarian anti capitalists.
We struggle against the occupation and settler colonialism - not for any statist solution on the west bank and Gaza. The Palestinian flags carried in the weekly demos we participate in are in defiance of the Israeli settler collonialism - not to promote any national pride. The Palestinians in the occupied regions are only a minority of the Palestinians. Our Palestinian partners do not seem to care one way or another for nationalism. Their main concern is the end of the occupation by Israel.