Letters

Really Palestine

The battle over Palestinian rights and the oppression of the Palestinian people is being fought out in the Labour Party in the guise of an increasingly vindictive witch-hunt against Ken Livingstone. The Zionists - supported from the Israeli embassy and backed by the Tories, the Labour right, the BBC, the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel - have mounted a campaign to damage Corbyn’s reputation, weaken his leadership and divide the Labour left. They have settled on Livingstone as their prime target.

Last Saturday Left Unity’s national council passed a draft resolution which “condemns unreservedly the witch-hunt against Ken Livingstone by the capitalist press, the right wing of the Labour Party and the supporters of Zionism in all parties.” Hopefully the full statement will be published in the Weekly Worker next week. It is important that we all work together on this.

This is not just some internal Labour Party matter. If Labour cannot take on the Palestine witch-hunt issue and ends up eating itself in a Zionist whirlwind, socialists outside Labour have to step up to the front. This is an issue for the whole working class and for Jewish and non-Jewish workers alike. Already many Jewish socialists in the Labour Party have spoken out against the witch-hunt. But their voices are being ignored in the media.

Last Sunday I attended a timely meeting organised by the CPGB to oppose the witch-hunt. The meeting was addressed by Tony Greenstein and Mike Macnair, who examined the historical record of Nazi and Zionist politics in the 1930s and the political and legal aspects of the Livingstone case today. It was argued that most of the left had capitulated to the witch-hunt, beginning with Corbyn and Abbot, through Momentum and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty to the Socialist Workers Party. Tony Cliff would not be a happy with that.

The Zionists have deployed the weapon of ‘fake news’ to create the idea that ‘anti-Semitism’ has taken over the Labour Party since Corbyn was elected leader. Nobody had the effrontery to claim that Corbyn is anti-Semitic, so the story was fabricated that Corbyn has been soft and tolerated racism against Jewish members. Thanks to the BBC and the capitalist press, everybody has heard about the ‘rise of anti-Semitism’ now engulfing Labour.

Zionists and their allies began a witch-hunt to find leftwing alleged anti-Semites. After searching for victims and picking on Jackie Walker, for example, the hunters settled on Ken Livingstone. He has a record of support for Palestinian rights. When under attack by Zionists, he said, albeit in a slightly clumsy fashion, that Hitler and the Nazis had made agreements with Zionists to facilitate the emigration of German Jews to Palestine in the early 1930s, before the Nazis adopted the policy of mass extermination.

That is historically accurate. Stating the facts is not anti-Semitic. It is part of the historical experience of Jewish people and in the interests of democracy and free speech that such facts are widely known. The Ha’avara agreement involved the Zionist Federation of Germany and the Nazi government. No doubt it saved the lives of some German Jews sent to Palestine. But it saved the Nazis from a Jewish-led international economic boycott which was weakening them.

It is valid to ask whether Zionism in the 1930s undermined the international anti-fascist movement. Yet this misses the point. This is not really about the 1930s. It is about Palestine and the policy of the Zionist Israeli government today. It is about a struggle to oust Corbyn and restore a rightwing, pro-Israel Labour Party. It is about campaigning to expel Livingstone as a lever against Corbyn.

Zionism is a set of beliefs which justifies colonial expansion, the oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories and a Jewish supremacist state. The socialist answer is to condemn the witch-hunt against Livingstone unreservedly, defend the right for free speech on Israel and Palestine, and oppose Zionist ideology. Socialists have to turn the tables by transforming the witch-hunt into the biggest Palestinian solidarity campaign the Labour Party has ever known.

Corbyn has to be criticised for failing to bring Palestine into this battle and make racism against Palestinians the central issue for the Labour Party. In the early 1930s a ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’-type campaign nearly halted the Nazi regime - not least by giving encouragement to anti-fascist resistance in Germany. We must redouble our efforts to make sure the suffering of the Jewish people and their resistance to the Nazis can today inspire the Palestinian people and all who want justice and peace in the Middle East.

Steve Freeman
Left Unity and Rise

Fault line

The national constitutional committee’s guilty verdict on Ken Livingstone has presented another fault line in the left in my Constituency Labour Party.

The politics and the personalities largely match those on the two sides following Jon Lansman’s coup in Momentum. Rather than supporting Ken’s stand for truth and confronting Zionist interference in the Labour Party, we’ve had comrades complain because the hearing’s verdict clashed with the launch of the manifesto for the local elections. And then they applauded the shameful way that Jeremy Corbyn hung Ken out to dry and joined the calls for further disciplinary action.

These comrades want a Labour government at any price, and will back any compromise with the right if it will improve the poll ratings. The only change they want is for them to win rather than the right - the existing undemocratic structures and rules, the pro-Nato foreign policy, the economic policies developed under Ed Miliband - they can all stay, as long as Jeremy becomes prime minister. Even if fate delivered such an unlikely outcome, we’ve seen this kind of Labour government before - attacks on the working class followed by defeat at the hands of the Tories.

Before he became leader, Corbyn always fought Zionism - he should have made clear his support for Ken Livingstone right from the start. Instead of acquiescing while Ken was suspended, he should have thrown the book at John Mann and the others in the Parliamentary Labour Party who instigated the ‘Labour is awash with anti-Semitism’ myth. He should have launched a full inquiry into the Israeli embassy’s interference in our party’s affairs following the Al Jazeera expose.

There is opposition from the left in the CLP. Some of us realised that winning the leadership on its own could never deliver a new agenda. The party needs change at every level, and that requires battle rather than compromise. And there will be no quick fix this side of the general election.

The hundreds of thousands who flocked into Labour’s ranks in the wake of Corbyn’s victory have not seen the socialist movement they expected. The membership has peaked, and already some are not renewing their subs. But the tasks are becoming clearer for those willing to join the battle.

The national constitutional committee’s guilty verdict on Ken Livingstone has presented another fault line in the left in my Constituency Labour Party.

The politics and the personalities largely match those on the two sides following Jon Lansman’s coup in Momentum. Rather than supporting Ken’s stand for truth and confronting Zionist interference in the Labour Party, we’ve had comrades complain because the hearing’s verdict clashed with the launch of the manifesto for the local elections. And then they applauded the shameful way that Jeremy Corbyn hung Ken out to dry and joined the calls for further disciplinary action.

These comrades want a Labour government at any price, and will back any compromise with the right if it will improve the poll ratings. The only change they want is for them to win rather than the right - the existing undemocratic structures and rules, the pro-Nato foreign policy, the economic policies developed under Ed Miliband - they can all stay, as long as Jeremy becomes prime minister. Even if fate delivered such an unlikely outcome, we’ve seen this kind of Labour government before - attacks on the working class followed by defeat at the hands of the Tories.

Before he became leader, Corbyn always fought Zionism - he should have made clear his support for Ken Livingstone right from the start. Instead of acquiescing while Ken was suspended, he should have thrown the book at John Mann and the others in the Parliamentary Labour Party who instigated the ‘Labour is awash with anti-Semitism’ myth. He should have launched a full inquiry into the Israeli embassy’s interference in our party’s affairs following the Al Jazeera expose.

There is opposition from the left in the CLP. Some of us realised that winning the leadership on its own could never deliver a new agenda. The party needs change at every level, and that requires battle rather than compromise. And there will be no quick fix this side of the general election.

The hundreds of thousands who flocked into Labour’s ranks in the wake of Corbyn’s victory have not seen the socialist movement they expected. The membership has peaked, and already some are not renewing their subs. But the tasks are becoming clearer for those willing to join the battle.

Ivor Bentley
Crewe

No quarter

The notion that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism must be met with facts. We must not allow the fact-deniers to accuse Ken Livingstone of saying things he didn’t say - for example, regarding the transfer (Ha’avara) agreement between the Zionist Anglo-Palestine Bank and the Nazi state in the 1930s.

But today’s McCarthyism must also be met with an awareness of what’s at stake. For a variety of forces are promoting the ‘anti is anti’ line - not all with the same programme, but all singing the same tune: Israel lobbyists of course, but also the Labour right hoping to implicate Corbyn; the government considering ‘hate crime’ law; Conservatives happy to call leftists racist; certain Jewish intellectuals and various inhibited or rightwing media outlets. Books have already been published and approved in review which proclaim that even anti-capitalism is a form of anti-Semitism and I know liberals who would not have supported the Iraq war and will not endorse a Trump hot war against Islamic State, but who sound ready to accuse any who would oppose Israel - say, in some future armed conflict with Iran - of being individual examples of a spreading anti-Semitism, which must be given no say or quarter whatsoever.

Mike Belbin
email

No-brainer

In relation to the ongoing penalties, punishments and restrictions imposed upon him by the Labour Party, it’s an absolute no-brainer that all those on the genuine left should provide both resolute support for, and a fiercely principled defence of, Ken Livingstone. Precisely the same applies to Jackie Walker in her own circumstances of poisonous false accusations, deviously contrived suspension from Momentum, plus generalised persecution.

Having said all that, when Livingstone stands in front of the assembled hyenas of the bourgeois media, repeatedly to the point of abjectly, the comrade avoids developing his argument or position concerning the relationship between Hitler and Zionism - at least to any meaningful extent. As a result, no consciousness-raising clarity on that matter is generated for any potentially helpful audience, whether that audience comes from amongst the working class or intelligentsia.

This amounts to a deep and somewhat shameful failing on Livingstone’s part, revealing his severe and indeed tragic limitations. Of course, ‘Corbynism’ in general is in exactly the same boat and an identical league in those respects.

Fortunately for readers of the Weekly Worker, in their articles ‘Labour’s Star Chamber’ and ‘Compulsory lies’ (April 6), both Tony Greenstein and Mike Macnair home in on things in a far more knowledgeable and certainly less introverted manner, thereby providing an expansion of the topic, plus factual ‘enlargement’, that eludes comrade Ken.

None of these problems from the former mayor of London are really that surprising. Not if we recall how vigorously he encouraged ultra-obscene global oligarchs and ‘sovereign fund’ oil wealth gangsters (such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and a host of nefarious operatives from China and Russia) to suck mega-profit from our capital city’s elitist, exclusionary and uber-luxury housing and property investment market - apparently in the belief that that specific pathway would lead to increase health and prosperity and security in life for its working class population.

Central London’s essential working force of nurses, bus drivers, hotel staff, etc cannot afford to live anywhere near their place of work or depot. Each day they are obliged to make long, stressful as well as costly commutes, in effect doing so past super-shiny enclaves of those spankingly attractive housing and property developments that mayor Livingstone originally enabled. In the omni-monetising language of their sales and marketing brochures, those being ‘curated concepts’ of ‘boutique collections’ nestling amongst ‘exciting place-creating ventures’, where a one-bedroom apartment typically costs a million pounds or more; a penthouse suite £25 million.

Bruno Kretzschmar
email

Deceit

Last month a US-led air strike killed 200 Iraqi civilians. They prevented journalists from attending the site of the bombings and later claimed that their bombs hit an arms dump belonging to Islamic State.

Last week a Syrian air strike alleged to contain chemical weapons killed 50-plus Syrian civilians. The Syrian government claims the attack struck chemical weapons being stored by IS. The United Nations was in the process of setting up an investigation into the incident and the US government decide to launch a pre-emptive strike before the investigation could take place.

A few years ago, the very same sources in both the White House and Downing Street told us of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That sparked a war that killed a million Iraqis via sanctions and military action. Despite the lies that were told then, the very same is happening today and some people are falling for the same old story.

I have no time for Assad or Trump, but, when it comes to lies and deceit, the US government are the worst culprits in the world for both - and for inflicting terrorism across the globe.

Denis Doody
Wakefield

Enemy at home

On April 7, I participated in the Stop the War Coalition’s emergency protest outside Downing Street against Trump’s attack on Syria.

No-one I met had any time for Assad. I didn’t hear any conspiracy theories about the chemical attack being down to (takes deep breath) Mossad, Soros, the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, false flags, transmitters in dental fillings, Morris dancers or the second man on the grassy knoll. Instead, despite it being a nice, warm, sunny, early evening, the mood was very sombre.

The speeches I heard were about putting the longevity of the war and its viciousness down to intervention, not just from the west, but also from Papa Putin. There was also condemnation of the chemical attack itself.

When atrocities like these take place, sections of the left go OTT calling each other out for not being loud enough in their condemnation. That’s when we’re not accusing each other of either being Assad fan boys and girls or being tickled by the bigly hands of Trump and western imperialism.

Last month over 300 civilians died in attacks on Mosul and in Yemen. Last week nearly 100 civilians died in the chemical attack in Idlib. It isn’t, or at least it shouldn’t be, a competition as to whether we have enough sadness and compassion for these ‘good’ Muslims over here and none for the ‘bad’ ones over there. They are both victims of imperialism. (If anyone has got illusions in Assad being an anti-imperialist, I hope you won’t mind me pointing out the fact he won the extraordinary rendition franchise from Tony Blair and David Miliband.)

In the interests of full disclosure and free speech, one guy, who claimed to be a Syrian, tried to muscle his way into getting to speak at the demo, even though the organisers had made it clear it was not an open mic. Ironically enough, he got lots of attention from the press who were there, so he got his wish to speak in the end.
The enemy is at home ... and our enemies here in the UK are the likes of Theresa May, Tim Farron, BoJo, Tom Watson and Hillary Benn, to name but some.

For American comrades, the enemies are Trump, Bannon and the Killeray. For any nascent anti-imperialists in Russia, the enemy is Putin. For those, in Syria, who still have faith that a society that does not rely on the authoritarian man of destiny, it’s Assad. 

Floyd Codlin
London

Achievement

Given that the STWC demo was held just a few hours after the bombing of a Syrian airfield, it was unlikely that thousands would show up, and I would say that the 300-odd people who did so represented quite a good turnout. However, the mainstream media, including the BBC, put the figure at below 100. In all protests and demonstrations there is always going to be a disparity between the actual and reported numbers - sometimes even a mention is an achievement. And even if a demonstration is reported, getting a positive portrayal appears a Sisyphean effort.

What this little episode shows is the power of the media to control and shape public debate within the window of acceptable discourse. That is why it is important the left should have its own media - not just newspapers and the internet, but television and radio. But what passes for the left media is deficient and poor - weekly papers equivalent to the trashy morning free sheets given away in most metropolitan cities that lack both rigour and challenging news content, or are beholden to outdated modes of thought, reflect unthinking traditions and stifle imaginative thinking.

But back to the demo. Sometimes small demonstrations are good - usually only the most militant are prepared at short notice to drop other thinks and head down to Whitehall on a Friday evening, whereas the bigger and more diffuse demonstrations are often politically weak and good only for hawkers to sell their books and badges.

Simon Wells
London

Post-Keynesian

I was disappointed with Michael Roberts’ article on Keynesianism (‘Civilisation and the “long run”’, April 6). Although he mentioned in passing the “Keynesians” and “post-Keynesians”, the thrust of his criticism is towards the former. We on the left already know the problems of bastard Keynesianism or neoclassical synthesis!

The Weekly Worker has yet to produce an article that engages with the strengths and weaknesses of the post-Keynesian school(s). There are very good reasons why left Labourites like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have lent their ears to the post-Keynesians. There are very good reasons why the Spanish United Left have lent their ears to the post-Keynesians. There are very good reasons why the Jacobin magazine folks have lent their ears to the post-Keynesians.

There are very good reasons why other Marxists have incorporated post-Keynesian policy into the minimum economic sections of their programmes.

Jacob Richter
email

Dark Ages

The great unintended consequence of capitalist competition is that it tends to drive down the rate of profit, as the percentage of labour time contained in each commodity drops in relation to the amount of used-up capital.

We have reached the point now where the rate of profit is so low that the capitalist system cannot reproduce itself, let alone grow. It is super-monopolised, as capitalists put each other out of business and charge monopoly profits to compensate for a low rate of profit by a greater mass and that, plus the low rate of profit that engendered it, creates a feedback loop that threatens to snuff out production altogether.

In the past, capitalism has been able to slough off the old political economic relations that characterised the previous period, but had now become an absolute fetter on its further development and, often through great violence, establish a new set-up that could give it a new lease of life. With super-monopolisation that is now global, that is no longer possible.

The current political-economic arrangements characterised by Pax Americana established after World War II are collapsing all around our ears and there are no possible alternative arrangements that could possibly replace them that would give capitalism a new lease of life. The unravelling of capitalist globalisation and the collapse of capitalism itself promises great violence and, if not transcended by world proletarian revolution, a new Dark Ages from which our species is unlikely to emerge with its life. ‘Socialism or barbarism’ was never truer than it is right now. The age of war and revolution, so long put on ice by the cold war collaboration of Stalinism and imperialism, is back on with a vengeance.

David Ellis
Leeds

Branding

As the Socialist Party candidate in Guildford West in this May’s Surrey county council elections, I note that Paul Demarty is urging workers there to vote for the Labour candidate and his pathetic slogan of “Say no to 4.99% council tax increases” (‘The Socialist Party’s decision to stand candidates in May is delusional’, April 6).

The Militant Tendency, (standing as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), has a candidate in Staines for these elections, but he is standing on the ‘transitional demand’ of capitalism in a slump without austerity, whereas we are standing on the socialist ‘maximum programme’ of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production, with production solely for use and distribution according to needs. The Socialist Party is also standing candidates in Kent and in East Sussex.

Adam Buick
Socialist Party of Great Britain

Great unrest

Between the 1890s and 1920s, in many parts of Europe, the United States, Latin America and Australia there grew a distinctive group of social movements variously called ‘revolutionary syndicalist’, ‘anarcho-syndicalist’ and ‘industrial unionist’. They had a shared aim: overthrowing capitalism through revolutionary industrial class struggle and building a new social order “free from economic or political oppression”.

These movements didn’t look to parliament or the state to introduce or impose that new system. Rather, they looked to working class economic organisations - particularly to trade and industrial unions - to take the lead in coordinating direct action and general strikes. Granted, there were differences within syndicalism. In Europe there was an emphasis on converting existing trade unions. In America it was more about ‘dual unionism’ - creating entirely new revolutionary unions. And with anarcho-syndicalists there was a stress on decentralisation and a much more hostile stance vis-à-vis the state.

On Saturday May 13, the Wakefield Socialist History Group will be holding an event, ‘Syndicalism and the great unrest’, in the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1, starting at 1pm. There will be a range of speakers, including Robin Stocks and Alan Brooke. Admission will be free and there will be a free light buffet.

Alan Steward
Wakefield Socialist History Group

Library ticket

Unless I’ve missed it, I’m surprised that the Weekly Worker hasn’t yet covered the controversy over Vanessa Beeley’s talk at the Marx Memorial Library. One poster on the urban75 forum claims that the library was forced to issue the following statement:

“Marx Memorial Library accepted a commercial booking from the New Communist Party for a public meeting on March 1 2017 entitled ‘Aleppo: fall or liberation?’ organised by several socialist individuals and organisations.

“The library staff received a number of demands from individuals to cancel the meeting due to the controversial nature of the arguments over the current war in Syria. However, the library officers and trustees were mindful that it would have been a breach of contract to cancel an accepted booking, given that none of the organisations or speakers involved in the meeting were in breach of the library’s own rules, which prohibit the hire of premises to organisations that hold racist or fascist views. In any event, it was felt that there should be public debate of the issues indicated in the title of the meeting in the interests of freedom of speech and information.

“Several members of Marx Memorial Library volunteered to assist with access to and security of our building at the public meeting and were subjected to unwarranted abuse and provocations from an organised group of protestors who wished to prevent the meeting from taking place. Marx Memorial Library is grateful to all its members and supporters who freely give their time to ensure that our building remains an accessible and welcoming venue for socialists and anti-fascists.”

Jon D White
email

Bye-bye

For many years, out of habit I picked up your paper from Housmans bookshop. For the first time last week I stopped doing so and will now only look at the online version.

Papers and groups have their time. It seems your time was the late 1990s and early 2000s.You had an edge, in that if a lefty wanted to know what was going on among the left, he took the Weekly Worker. The internet has made that redundant and you lost out. That’s old history. Now, there is nothing much must-read about the Weekly Worker, given that I don’t agree with you on much politically.

I am not alone in this. I know at least 10 people who got your paper regularly during the Socialist Alliance years in my area of the Socialist Party alone. Ask people in the Socialist Party now and they will only stifle a yawn. It’s not much of a threat now you don’t have a USP.

It gets worse. I’m afraid that when a Weekly Worker last got brought out after my branch meeting in the pub, it was the source of much derision - the awful layout, the squished text (that hurts my eyes to read!), the strange pictures that seem to have been selected by drug addicts. Not to mention the bizarre letters page. I get that you like debates, but having a bunch of eccentric fringe loonies isn’t much of an improvement on the - also bad - letters page in The Socialist.

You need to wake up. Some of your rivals have professionalised their operations; they realised they had to keep up. You lot only seem determined to get more amateurish. For goodness sake, get an editor, get a designer, get a sub, get a proper website and get professional. I say that because I am not sectarian; if all the left is crap, it’s bad for all of the groups.

But for me, I’m saying bye-bye to the Weekly Worker in print. If you start getting serious again, maybe you can win your old readers back. I doubt it.

Victor Jenkins
email