Not Marxism

I recently wrote a letter in which I condemned the expulsion of socialists and anti-racists from the Labour Party (July 11). I further said that I believe it to be totalitarian, intolerant and bullying.

Comrade Tony Clarke responded by attributing such behaviour to Marxism and an inherent anti-democratic ideology within socialist movements (Letters, July 25). I am not knowledgeable enough to debate his negative interpretation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. However, commitment to Marxism has nothing whatsoever to do with the motivation to oust members from the Labour Party and I am doubtful that this censorial trend has anything whatsoever to do with Marxist theory.

The promotion of the view that Zionism equals anti-Semitism is a means of protecting Israel from political criticism and deflects attention from the crimes against the indigenous Palestinians. Consequently anyone who even mildly challenges this narrative runs the risk of being targeted for expulsion and Marxists are not the ones driving this. In fact I suspect that Marxists are at the forefront of fighting it.

Whilst it is true that socialist movements could adopt authoritarianism, there are far more numerous examples of rightwing organisations which have done so. I am doubtful that Marxism as a theory is any more prone to it. The Israeli regime itself is now described widely as apartheid and authoritarian in its persecution of indigenous people and none of this involves a Marxist tradition.

I suspect that the risk of totalitarianism and authoritarianism depends upon a range of factors, which include the political and economic circumstances, the culture and history of a nation, the degree of democratic institutions and even the personality of leaders. The scale and efficiency of the surveillance will also depend crucially upon technological capability.

We are living in a period of profound social change arising from the advance in artificial intelligence. The state already has the capability to oversee most of what we do or think. Edward Snowden is in exile from the US for exposing this. We are sleepwalking into a totalitarian world, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Marxism.

Comrade Clarke is right to remind us of the need to cherish democracy within the socialist movement, but I am doubtful that attributing the risk of totalitarianism to Marxism is correct. When I consider the widespread culture of identity politics and the censorial attitude which is now dominant, it is not Marxism which I fear, but rather the absence of it.

Jennifer Maynard

Fifth column

The Labour Party appears set to expel me for voicing opposition to Zionist racism and Israeli apartheid. I am a party activist of some 40 years standing, and have, since October 1, been subject to an investigation by the Labour disputes team. I responded to the first tranche of 19 questions, which I believed were fair (I was given two weeks to respond).

However, on July 24 I received a second tranche - my answers were to be put before Labour’s national executive committee. This time the questions were vicious, slanted and accusatory. I responded within the time, but am angry about the disputes team’s attitude. I have complained along the following lines to the Labour leader’s office, all 39 members of the party’s NEC and its complaints team.

“I write to complain about the 50 questions that were put to me a week ago by the disputes team, demanding an answer within seven days. They seek confidentiality, but the legal and governance unit, of which they form part, breaches confidentiality whenever it suits. My suspension from the party was broadcast to the Jewish News a week before I knew of it.

“There are big problems with the disputes team: the Panorama programme that slated Labour about bogus anti-Semitism did not reveal the most important problem - that we are still riddled with fifth-columnists at HQ.

“These people, clearly from the Jewish Labour Movement, do not favour a Labour government under Corbyn and are doing their best to expel leftie Labour activists like me. They support apartheid in Israel; they have not a care about how much their questioning reflects a bias; not once do they acknowledge Israel’s racist nature. By siding with that racist colony so enthusiastically, they betray the most appalling Islamophobia.

“They cannot comprehend how much they undermine Labour’s commitment to social justice. They undermine our ability to combat racism. They are utterly in breach of the rulebook. In short, one wonders not only why they are in Labour, but why they have been recruited into this most sensitive area of Labour investigations - that of anti-Semitism - when they exhibit such flagrant support for the Zionist creed.

“I disagree with Corbyn’s statement that the Labour Party must be a home for Zionists. In the same breath, almost, he says we must support the Palestinians also. Yet Zionists are relentlessly expansionist for yet more land from Arabs in the Middle East, in addition to what they have already stolen from Palestine. They will never accommodate the Arabs and give them equality, for by definition their state must be Jewish. That means, to them, that Jews always must rule and all other ethno-religious groups must lose out. Corbyn’s position is therefore contradictory. He cannot support Zionists in Labour, for that means supporting racism and the ubiquitous Islamophobia they peddle.

“I hope the complaints team will investigate how many of the disputes team are in the JLM and reflect upon the pro-Zionist nature of that body. I hope they see we must replace these racists with non-racists, for without such a rational action we shall face many more attacks from within. Our Labour Party can no longer tolerate this bogus anti-Semitism, for it risks promoting real antagonism against Jews.

“For, every time one challenges a Zionist, they retort that they are a Jew. But that is an insult to proper Jews. As Rabbi Cohen says in my attached statement to the disputes team, ‘Judaism is an ancient, ethical, moral, compassionate and religious way of life, going back, as stated earlier, thousands of years. Whereas Zionism (the movement and concept that begat the state of Israel) is a nationalistic, harsh, inconsiderate, secular and racist way of life, barely 120 years old - a totally new concept. It is totally incompatible with and diametrically unacceptable to Judaism on grounds of religious belief and religious humanitarian grounds.’

“So there you have it. These Zionists are incompatible with Judaism. Let’s see the back of them.”

My response to the 50 questions, which runs to 65 pages and was drafted with some help from members of Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR), can be downloaded at wwwtinyurl.com/dispute response.

Pete Gregson


The Morning Star editorial, ‘The left must be on guard against a national government’, is correct in its conclusion, “Even a major break with a significant number of MPs leaving the party would do less damage than meek participation in such a government” (August 7).

I say this from the standpoint of a left remainer who believes that the internationalist perspectives of the working class must be fighting alongside the EU working class against EU imperialism - “This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries, whose struggle is against their own imperialists,” wrote Karl Liebknecht.

However, Paul Mason writes in The Guardian: “Labour must adopt a tactic from the 1930s: a popular front … we need a one-off electoral arrangement between parties of the left and centre aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit and removing Johnson from Downing Street” (August 3). In Spain the Popular Front took power in January 1936 and “in May that year the Popular Front won in France, giving the country its first socialist prime minister,” he pleads. It went so well that it paved the way for Labour’s wartime coalition with Winston Churchill. This tactic “halted or delayed the march to fascism in the 1930s”.

It did not. It facilitated the victory of fascism in Spain in April 1939 and in France in June, following the Nazi occupation. In conditions of frontal assault by the far right and fascism, the most precious commodity the working class possesses is their class independence. Conceding that to popular fronts and national governments with the liberal bourgeoisie denied them the possibility of fighting for socialism via revolution.

Former fellow Trotskyist Paul Mason has forgotten that - if he ever understood it in the first place.

Gerry Downing
Socialist Fight

Glory be

Prince Harry’s announcement in an interview published in Vogue magazine that he and Meghan Markle will have “up to two” children is very good news for the environment. The world’s population has trebled to over 7.5 billion in just 70 years and is currently increasing by 82 million each year. Harry and Meghan, as people in receipt of state benefits, are role models for other benefit claimants, especially young women.

I support the government’s two-child limit on child benefit, although it is leading to mothers having abortions when they get pregnant with their third child. The solution to this problem is to offer grants to both men and women if they agree to be sterilised. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses who advise patients to be sterilised are at serious risk of being struck off. This must stop. All fathers and mothers should each be offered a grant of £500 to be sterilised. Many people would jump at the chance of receiving such a tax-free lump sum.

A similar policy was carried out in India in the early 1970s. Men were given free radios if they agreed to be sterilised. However, the best route to controlling population growth, and therefore climate change, is through the education, employment and equal rights of women.

Prince Harry’s decision to have no more than two children will be followed closely both in Britain and around the world. Prince Harry must be praised for his stance on family size.

John Smithee</