Ian Donovan alleges that US policy towards Israel, the Middle East and beyond is largely driven by Jewish capitalists, who form a disproportionately large part of the American ruling class.
They are, he claims, part of a worldwide Jewish bourgeois class. But as a would-be Marxist he needs to invent a materialist motive driving these Jewish capitalists to promote Israel’s interests and override alternative US interests. His answer is: “The Israeli Law of Return gives citizenship rights to all Jews born in other countries ... This leads to a situation … where a substantial group of bourgeois has citizenship rights - ie, ownership rights - over both the Israeli capitalist state and the US capitalist state or that of some European countries, whichever they are indigenous citizens of, on the basis of their Jewish birth. Therefore, we have overlapping ruling classes between Israel and a number of European and North American capitalist-imperialist states” (Letters, January 18).
In my letter of January 25, I debunked this flimsy argument, which elides potential citizenship rights with actual ownership of a country; but Ian’s reply (February 1) shows that he has not grasped the point. Yes, Israeli law does allow any Jew to immigrate to Israel and become an Israeli citizen. It also bestows significant, substantial privilege on Jews who are of poor or modest means, and is mainly designed to facilitate mass Jewish immigration to Israel, in order to deal with what Zionists regard as the ‘demographic peril’ of the Hebrew settler nation being ‘swamped’ by Palestinian Arabs. But this law makes very little substantial material difference to rich diaspora Jews: they, like all wealthy persons of any religion or none, can in any case easily acquire citizenship in many countries (including the UK, a favourite residence of the very rich). My tongue-in-cheek remark that, according to Ian’s logic, “perhaps it is correct to say that the capitalist ruling class, irrespective of religion, is international” was seized by him as evidence that I am - quelle horreur - a Kautskyist.
Of course, the main flaw in the pseudo-Marxist theory of Jewish-capitalist-driven US policy is failure to explain why the non-Jewish majority of the American ruling class meekly accepts the line allegedly laid down by the Jewish capitalists, who are a minority (albeit an ‘overrepresented’ one) within that class.
Readers who seek a rather better explanation of US policy are advised to read the article, ‘Demystifying US and Israeli power’, by Susan Cain and Mark Mason.
What a superbly informative article from James Linney, within a generally sparkling edition (‘Health service we need’, February 1). As far as I’m aware, the comrade is alone in providing overviews of the national health service that recognise the necessity of holistic restructuring. A sophisticated as well as root-and-branch redesign springing from truly socialist soil, it might be said.
The only negative aspect to these matters at hand stems from the fact that the comrade’s insights, experience and expertise are not being expressed via a consolidated/unified communist media outlet, here in the UK. What a crying shame! Just imagine what would be achievable if there was a pooling of all skills, knowledge and resources on the Marxist-Leninist left. As the saying goes, the world would be our oyster; anyway, its shell would be a damned sight easier to prise open, and so the ‘pearl’ of making communism attractive to the mass of our co-citizens far more likely to end up nestling in the palm of our hand. But that’s just to thrash an idealism-saddled hobbyhorse of mine.
Nevertheless, one thing is for certain. Elsewhere in nature, tension between conflicting interests often results in advantageous and consequently healthy change. Remarkable rewards accrue from apparently ‘unwelcome’ mutations within life-forces, followed by dynamic resolution. Progress and newness sometimes are entirely dependent upon that near-magical process. It goes by the name, evolution - conveniently summarised as ‘adapt or die’.
When thinking about what is required of 21st century Marxist-Leninist revolutionary politics in order to provide it with far greater appeal, with far more meaningful traction, surely just such an evolutionary leap forward should be recognised as both unavoidable and essential. In fact, that evolutionary (or paradoxically even revolutionary) change required is a perfect echo of the scenario comrade Linney outlines in relation to the NHS.
On a more light-hearted note, I’d say this. By dedicating their time and intellect into ‘higher form’ rewards available from the Weekly Worker - such as those provided by James Linney and others - your readers will be saved the somewhat hideous task of wading through far less dynamic and immeasurably less productive subject matter: topics such as the seemingly inescapable question of whether all Jews are part of an internationally formulated ‘crypto-bourgeoisie’, one nefariously out to manipulate and then plunder the world.
Well, may either the bony fingers of the Grim Reaper or a splash of summer sunshine arrive to save us all from that overblown, cyclical and obsessive nonsense.
Given that the letters page has been given over to those that not only believe in, but actually care about, a ‘witch-hunt’, within the Labour Party against the left, I just wondered if you would be entertaining discussions on other conspiracy theories? Did they fake the moon landings? Who shot JFK? Is Elvis really still alive? And, finally, who really runs the EU? My money is on the freemasons, but other readers may disagree.
Though I did laugh at Stan Keable quoting Ken Loach on that old chestnut - that Labour lost the election as they were not leftwing enough. Yep, that would explain why the Conservatives are in office, propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party. Or is that just another conspiracy?
Your report on the Communist Party of Great Britain’s annual general meeting is absolutely hilarious (‘No easy road to popularity’, February 1). I refer to the sections where you talk about the Weekly Worker. Apparently, it’s your “peacock”, which was “excellent in 2017” and you are “pleased with the overall standard of the paper”. It’s a bit ironic that this has been presented with a really, really big picture of god knows what symbolic meaning - were you struggling to fill the space this week, comrades?
I know exactly why you amateurs don’t want short articles. More difficult to design, isn’t it, lots of small ones? Come on, own up - you don’t fool me.
Let me tell you a little non-secret. My organisation, the Socialist Party, has a serious debate about its paper every year and it is free of the hubris and self-justificatory crap you jokers put about. Comrades are honest about what is good and what is bad.
And it would have been good that the Weekly Worker produced all that Lars T Lih stuff in 2017 … if, unfortunately, most of those interested in the topic hadn’t already read it on John Riddell’s website, where you lifted it from. Why bother waiting for your crack production team to make it look shit?
But thanks for a good laugh. Made my day.
Hands off Sadie
I was quite disgusted by Paul Demarty’s attack on comrade Sadie Robinson (‘All the president’s men’, February 1) for her January 24 Socialist Worker article.
Firstly, if it is the same person from Leeds I remember from when I was in the Socialist Workers Party, she was a principled Marxist who fought for working class rule. I doubt anything has changed in all these years. If she has kept with the SWP - good. That shows loyalty, and loyalty is a positive human attribute. Back then it was the time of the European Social Forum - I was recruited to the SWP after the Global Gathering Conference in Leeds and marched in Genoa soon after.
Sadie saw working class rule as the basis for overcoming class society as a whole and thereby destroying absolute need and poverty in the process. She played an instrumental part in recruiting to the Socialist Alliance and the Anti-Nazi League.
Secondly, the Socialist Worker article was obviously commissioned by the editor, who is subordinate to the central committee. The CC in turn is a subordinate of the party as a whole during conference time. So when a reporter reports, it doesn’t mean it is completely them - just like when the editor of the Weekly Worker commissions an article, it will also reflect his voice, and the editor is subordinate to the apparatus at hand. It is a great pity that this news-sheet decided to take their anger out on Sadie.
It is sad the SWP got so mashed up over this ‘comrade Delta’ fiasco. You live, you learn. The SWP had always fought against male chauvinism, but I’m sure like a lot of organisations found it hard when it is happening in their own back yard - and even harder in their front yard.
The organised political left is in retreat the world over. It is decomposing into more and more informal groupings and I find it a pity that this section of the Marxist left has found itself having to actually deal with such a drop in membership. It is very sad - a reverse needs to happen, but it’s hard. The smaller the identity of an organisation, the more in-breeding occurs.
When the International Socialists were born, comrades saw themselves as a global community; nationally they would constantly be in the non-socialist press - and if you were lucky in a pub where you were drinking, because you were at a political event.
This has long gone and we are all now in little pools - in the UK sometimes just in a room with a couple of consenting adults trying to resolve ‘Where now?’ I do not see any one organised Marxist force having the weapons at its disposal to reverse the retreat - minimal weapons being programme, organisation and depth of influence in the working class.
The CPGB has an excellent minimum-maximum Draft programme, while the Labour Party is organised everywhere and it is at the head of the working class both politically (through the party as a whole) and economically (through trade union organisation/affiliation). Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the working class in this country (whether he wants to be or not). Still we live with another six billion people in the world and opening our road to general human freedom will need to involve every single one of them.
Through Trotsky the Fourth International found its feet. But Trotskyists were in a very awkward position, which arose from the fact that they were shunned out of the Stalinist ‘second world’ and capitalist ‘first world’. Following historic retreats in the Third International, the Trotskyists found themselves just reacting to what was in their face and constantly comparing themselves to the Third International. Politically the working class in the Soviet Union was being smashed from the October Revolution on. We saw this defeat in the shape of increased poverty, actual invasion and then permanent encirclement.
Over the last 12 months I have travelled in the US, Canada, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. For all practical purposes, we have seen a reversion to imperialist, capitalist practices everywhere and the SWP’s ‘second world’ no longer exists as a bastard societal form. What is our approach? And what, for example, can comrade Hillel Ticktin tell us about what has happened on territories that were in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence?
Anyway, hands off Sadie: she has loyally fought with organised Marxists as long as I have been an adult.
I have submitted a proposal to the My Momentum website stating that Constituency Labour Parties should be allocated a much greater proportion of individual members’ dues. I would ask that all Momentum members please consider nominating my proposal. If it gets enough nominations, then Momentum will propose it as part of the Labour Party’s democracy review.
You can nominate or comment on my proposal at https://my.peoplesmomentum.com/review/theme/4. I have also submitted a proposal regarding the Labour Party establishing its own press. See https://my.peoplesmomentum.com/review/theme/10.
The Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has criticised the budget just agreed by Warwickshire County Council. We are outraged that the Tory majority council today confirmed a further £25 million of public spending cuts over the next two years, whilst adding 5% to the average council tax bill. Local people will be hit twice. It is disgraceful that householders are having to pay even more for deteriorating services. The most vulnerable will be the most affected by further public service cuts, particularly children with additional needs.
Warwickshire has already cut £100 million from its spending on public services since 2010. This has seen the closure of libraries, fire stations, youth clubs and care homes. Cuts to street lighting have made our pathways and roads less safe, and cuts to bus services have had a serious effect on local public transport. The latest round of cuts will further decimate services. The Tory-led Warwickshire council has already decided that half the proposed £25 million cuts over the next two years - £12.3 million - will be to fund redundancy payments: an admittance that a large number of local authority workers will lose their jobs. The number looks as if it will be in the hundreds, given the money being put aside. Every worker made redundant will see the closure or deterioration of a service.
Increasing council tax, as Warwickshire is also doing, is not the answer either. People already pay for local services and the majority have no spare cash at all. Over 13 million people officially live in poverty and numbers are rising annually.
We realise the Tory government is the main culprit, having cut what it gives to local councils every year. However, councils could and should say, ‘Enough is enough’ and refuse to implement the cuts. Warwickshire County Council should buy time by using its reserves and, if necessary, its ability to borrow money at preferential rates - called prudential borrowing. The council should then set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and join with other local councils to demand the government makes up the shortfall.
Cutting public expenditure is a political choice. Britain is the sixth wealthiest country in the world, and there is plenty of money available to protect services. At national level, we have been saying for years that there are other ways to meet the country’s economic deficit, such as:
- A 5% wealth tax on the richest 10%, which, alone, would resolve the debt.
- Reclaiming the £120 billion per year of unpaid tax that rich individuals and companies avoid or evade.
- The banks, building societies and financial institutions, which make massive profits, could be nationalised, with profits used to maintain and improve our public services.
Austerity is not the answer. It disproportionately hits the poor and the vulnerable, who rely on public services. Hundreds will lose their jobs in Warwickshire. There are alternatives, as we have consistently pointed out: we call on Warwickshire County Council to seriously consider them.