Having read Moshé Machover’s piece, ‘Oppression breeds resistance’ (October 12), I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.
Why on earth is Hamas described as a “deeply reactionary” organisation? It feels like Machover has swallowed Israeli hasbara; he thinks himself Jewish and so appears to be allowing Zionist propaganda to pollute his mind. He ought to read Hamas by Khaled Hroub or Hamas: unwritten chapters by Azzam Tamimi before next he puts pen to paper on this matter.
He also ought to spend time with Muslims, as I have. I spent six months in Muslim countries and can count many Muslims as friends, and it depresses me when a newspaper like the Weekly Worker stoops to parroting our depraved media. The word ‘reactionary’ means “opposing political or social progress or reform” and the fact that the Weekly Worker sees Hamas in these terms is to fundamentally misunderstand why it exists. It does not exist in order to reform Muslim life; its name is an acronym of Ḥarakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya, which means ‘Islamic Resistance Movement’. It draws its strength and philosophy from Islam - a subject which Machover appears to know little about.
That is unfortunate. Once you have lived amongst Muslims, you begin to appreciate the fundamentally peaceful nature of their religion. Note they sheltered Jews for 1,400 years from Christian attacks before the rise of Zionism and nowadays happily accommodate Christians - Jesus is one of their prophets, after all. Muslims were building hospitals and universities and inventing algebra in the 9th century, whilst we were in the dark ages, brutally slaughtering one another, as our warlords wrestled for power in Europe.
Arabic life is conservative - but with a small ‘c’- they do not approve of public displays of affection between men and women; they frown upon displays of the flesh - this is common to most religious movements. But does Hamas “oppose political or social progress or reform”? By its very existence it aims for political progress; it works along lines that we in the west can barely fathom - so poor is our understanding of Islam.
I myself am atheist, but if I were to choose to get a religion I would choose Islam - it is a deeply reflective, humanistic movement. Most Muslims deplored Isis - and don’t forget that Islamic State does not like Hamas. One of Hamas’s main crimes, Islamic State argues, is its participation in Palestinian elections, which Islamic State views as putting man-made law above god’s law. This ought to indicate to Machover that Hamas are committed to democracy. He ought to be also promoting their most recent communiqué of 2017, where they make clear their commitment to abide by the democratic will of a new Palestine - one that includes their oppressors, on the understanding that they cease their Zionist aspirations.
The nonsense that Biden and the media spread about beheading babies has been completely debunked; the brave Hamas fighters have been demonised by Israel and its friends. Why the western world continues to accept Zionist hasbara is a reflection of the Islamophobia which runs deep; after the example of how the Israelis denied responsibility for killing US citizen Shireen Abu Aqla, one would have hoped that Israeli claims of being the perpetual victim (she was “armed” with a camera, wasn’t she?) were running thin. However, Biden and the west are only too happy to play to the Zionist lobby’s tune. The western world is deep in the grip of admiration of a racist colony intent on expansion, appalled at the loss of Israeli life, but far less so at Palestinian slaughter. Unfortunately, Machover seems to have absorbed some of these Islamophobic attitudes in condemning Hamas as “reactionary”.
I was hoping for a more enlightened view on Hamas from the Weekly Worker; this is a resistance movement that has grown out of community work, after all - its origins lie in promoting childcare, education, community facilities; its disgust at corruption is why it was so popular and why it won the last Palestinian elections of 2006. It repeatedly asks for fresh elections, which Fatah refuse to allow - because, if they were held, Abbas knows Hamas would win all over again. Hamas refuses to recognise Israel and is committed to dismantling it - they see it as the Zionist entity, which it most surely is. This is what distinguishes it from Fatah. Any sane person should join with them in condemning Zionism as a supremacist, racist movement and calling for its end.
One final point: whilst we were horrified that Hamas killed civilians, one ought to remember that every Israeli ‘Jew’ except for the highly Orthodox Jews is a ‘reservist’ - every such Israeli, male and female, is there to fight to preserve their racist colony. All are therefore enemy combatants. And this is war.
It would be great if the Weekly Worker could show more empathy to Hamas and less snootiness in condemning them - presumably for not being Marxists.
One Democratic Palestine
Hamas invaded Israel and killed civilians. This is a fascist crime. But why did they attack Israel in the first place? After all, Hamas could not fail to understand that the forces are not equal, Hamas had to be defeated. It has only 45,000 fighters against 130,000 Israeli soldiers, and no aviation, decent artillery or armoured vehicles. Israel responded in kind, killing civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children. That is, it also committed a fascist crime.
The world is divided into two parts: one half denounces the fact that the bloodthirsty and insidious Hamas treacherously attacked poor Jews, who are all victims of the holocaust: they are god-chosen and listed in the Red Book, and the whole world owes them at least for World War II, and even for ancient centuries. Another part of the world is denouncing the fact that Israel has killed civilians.
Powerful demonstrations in support of Palestine have taken place in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, the UK and even the USA. Rallies in support of Palestine were held in France and Germany, where the authorities banned such rallies. 98% of the Chinese population is on the side of Palestine. Beijing called Israel’s actions disproportionate and called on Tel Aviv to stop the collective punishment of residents of the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, moronic, exalted leftists are screaming that the people of Palestine have rebelled against Israeli oppression. Absurd - nothing like that has taken place! Today numerous morons in the USA are screaming in the streets, “Intifada! Revolution!” In the same way, the cretins from Black Lives Matter screamed about the rights of blacks, who have nothing to do with Marxism or the movement against racism - they are just servants of the US Democratic Party.
Hamas was created in 1987 as part of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood organisation, which is funded and controlled by the CIA. At the time of its creation, Hamas was funded by the UK. It was supported by the Israeli secret services in order to weaken Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Former US Congressman Ron Paul noted that Hamas was created by the Israeli government in order to oppose Yasser Arafat and a former Israeli expert on interaction with the Arab population, Colonel David Hakam, noted that Israel’s support for extremists like Yassin is an original sin - but then no-one thought about the consequences.
The modern patrons of Hamas are Turkey and Qatar, not Iran! And here’s what the White House Strategic Communications coordinator John Kirby is lying about: “We must honestly admit the fact that Iran is certainly involved in this. They have been supporting Hamas for many years, training them and funding them. There is no doubt that they are state sponsors of terrorist groups like Hamas.”
Kirby is lying, because Iranians are Shi’ites and Hamas is a Sunni movement. Iran’s goal is the lifting of sanctions, the development of nuclear energy, the suppression of protests in Balochistan - but not the liberation of the Gaza Strip. The United States finds Iran guilty in the same way as it previously did with Osama bin Laden, who had nothing to do with September 11.
Hezbollah did not enter the war after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip - it did not even react to the killing of children by Israel Defence Force bombers. Hezbollah did not seek to support Hamas. However, Tel Aviv did everything to draw Hezbollah into the war. Israeli planes bombed Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon - a completely different country, unrelated to Hamas. Why? In the hope that Iran will support Hezbollah, and then the United States will at least threaten to attack Iran.
In response, Lebanese Hezbollah fired at Israeli positions in the north of the country.
In addition, the Israeli army has hit the airport in Aleppo in Syria several times in order to further embitter Hezbollah. And Tehran, which stresses that it does not want to take part in the conflict, has already promised that if Israel launches a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, Iran will be forced to intervene.
For Netanyahu, all this is extremely beneficial - the protesting demonstrators have left the streets.
For Israel, the destruction of the Gaza Strip is extremely beneficial - Israel thereby gets its hands on the gas shelf.
For the American Democrats, this is also extremely beneficial, in view of the crisis in the US government system. Washington and Tel Aviv want to kill at least three birds with one stone. Tel Aviv and the United States did not care how ordinary citizens in different countries of the world would react to the fact that Israelis are killing not just peaceful Arabs, but their children.
The failure of Mossad, Shabak and the IDF looks too suspicious. Secondly, two US aircraft carriers went to the shores of Israel. It is impossible to quickly assemble an aircraft carrier group, but the first group went immediately! That is, it was ready in advance, before the Hamas attack. Thirdly, the tactics of Hamas this time were very different: they were rather the tactics of Isis.
Israel’s budget for 2024, which was announced long before the Hamas attack, includes financing the construction of the Third Jerusalem Temple on the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. This construction involves the preliminary demolition of this third most important shrine of the Muslim world. That is, it assumes control over this territory by Israel, which is what the Hamas attack serves.
This is another fact in favour of the argument that the successful Hamas attack on Israel was planned by Tel Aviv - with the support of Washington.
I hope the Israeli-Hamas conflict isn’t going to be used as a justification to attack Iran, which has been linked to the Hamas offensive.
There’s already mainstream news calling the recent aggression ‘Israel’s 9/11’. Disinformation was circulated at the time of 9/11, linking Saddam Hussein to al Qa’eda to justify the attack on Iraq. It was generally acknowledged some years later that there were no such links, but that didn’t fit the narrative at the time. We’ll see how well the BBC’s disinformation team process these claims against Iran, albeit with cognisance of past government practice: it’s whether they’ll be a sounding box for established power and state propaganda, or whether they’ll objectively report the issue.
The allegations that Iran helped plan the attack and supplied weapons to Hamas is one issue; whether it justifies a Nato attack on Iran, with the resulting death toll and destruction, is another. It’s whether the issue will be put into its proper context (which ‘weapons of mass destruction’ never was). Weapons sales are endemic around the world. Believe it or not, the UK supplies weapons and military training to less than salubrious countries - Turkey and Saudi Arabia, for example. These states are hardly beacons of freedom and liberal democracy in the world. As for the USA ... well, I mean, who doesn’t the USA supply arms to? Which military dictatorships has the USA not supported?
Not an ally?
On Israel and Palestine, most people in Britain are indifferent, many others are profoundly ambivalent, and most of the rest again are strongly pro-Palestinian. Yet almost all politicians, and the entire media, belong to a tiny fourth faction: the fiercely Zionist, which barely featured until there was a prime minister whose constituency happened to have a wildly untypical ethnic profile, but which did not become dominant even under her. That dominance arose in a window of perhaps half a generation - between the retirements of the British mandate veterans and the emergence of the mass anti-war movement.
Israel is not a British ally, yet we are expected to make its (often undeniably unpleasant) enemies our own. Israel armed Argentina during the Falklands war, yet its ambassador to London accompanies our foreign secretary when he visits her country. No-one else gets that treatment, and if it were to cause bombs to go off in Britain, well, somehow that would prove that it had been right all along.
‘Not just today, not just tomorrow, but always’ is not the stuff of grown-up relations with any foreign state. None, including Israel, would say such a thing about Britain. Nor should it.
In a mixture of jibing hubris and sickly smugness, Benjamin Netanyahu announced to the Israeli population that his regime - one freshly unified in the ‘national interest’ - will be continuing its onslaught upon its “enemies” in Gaza and amongst the West Bank Palestinians. Evidence, if ever it were needed, that neither he personally nor the variously ranged Zionist elites within Israel as a whole recognise or understand how ‘actions create reaction’.
In this specific scenario and current outbreak of capitalistic barbarism and undiluted bestiality, seemingly with no awareness anywhere whatsoever in the soul of these creatures, they’re provoking (indeed, nigh-on guaranteeing) a bringing down upon their heads of the very forces of anti-Semitic hatred and persecution they purport to be defending against. A memory held, both from Nazi days and far longer past history, that all Jews with entire and profound justification dread to see a repeat of.
Maybe all that can be said in communistically enlightened recognition is this: it’s bizarre times that humankind is experiencing. In fact, surely more: these are times and a world that are corroded, diseased, hybridised fascistic/dystopian - immeasurably beyond grotesque!
Comrade Andrew Northall continues to fail to address the issues I have raised. This may be because he is afraid of criticism of Marx. He writes that I am confused and get “into a terrible tangle trying to prove that the concept of ‘dictatorship’ within Marxism is somehow opposed to the achievement of true democracy for the working class”. But I have never argued that the concept of dictatorship in Marxism is opposed to the achievement of true democracy for the working class. I am also aware that Marx meant working class power when he used the term, ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.
Nor did I argue that Marx’s use of the term meant that he was anti-democratic. What I am arguing is that it was wrong because he used an anti-democratic term to refer to the democratic rule of the working class. Marx was wrong to adopt Blanqui’s terminology. Anyone who uses an anti-democratic term to describe democratic rule is wrong.
It is necessary to understand that the working class is not the only class who wants socialism. A section of the petty bourgeois strata also support socialism. Also, in the Communist manifesto of 1848, Marx points out how a section of the old ruling class sides with the revolution. It is primarily these bourgeois elements who describe socialist rule as a dictatorship. They use the term as a cover for their own bureaucratic rule. They turn the rule of the working class into the bureaucratic rule of the bourgeoisie, as Mao was right to point out.
To describe the democratic rule of the working class as a ‘dictatorship’ is wrong theoretically, politically, strategically and morally, and gives ‘liberal capitalism’ an important ideological weapon to fight socialism. The term is not used in the Communist manifesto. It was Lenin who turned it into the essence of Marxism, but, even if Marx regarded it as the essence of the struggle for socialism, it would still be wrong to use this term. If dictatorship means a suspension of democracy, rule untrammelled by law, how can it be used for socialist rule?
This is not an issue that I am raising with comrade Northall alone. I am addressing this issue to the international communist movement. The question is: should we be talking about working class dictatorship, or the democratic rule of the working class - in other words, democratic socialism?
Andrew says he suspects I am opposed to the concept of working class rule, of the political and economic power of the working class - socialism. The very opposite is the case. What history has shown is that there are two main tendencies on the left: those who represent democratic socialism and those who represent bureaucratic socialism. The class basis of this is the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeois strata. But it is important to point out that this contradiction is not an antagonistic contradiction, but a non-antagonistic contradiction which can be resolved on the basis of socialism.
Andrew says that socialism was built in the Soviet Union, but he fails to see that this wasn’t democratic, but bureaucratic socialism. A bureaucracy taking over after a socialist revolution is an inevitable process without democratic socialism. And it can still happen with democratic socialism as well. But at least in the latter case workers and others will have the right to criticise and control it. Where Trotsky went wrong wasn’t criticising bureaucracy when he lost power. Even Lenin and Stalin criticised bureaucracy without developing a theory about it. Stalin’s response to Trotsky’s book, The revolution betrayed, warning that bureaucratic rule would lead to the restoration of capitalism, was to launch a purge against the bureaucracy in the 1930s. Trotsky’s mistake was claiming that the bureaucracy coming to power resulted from backwardness and that a political revolution was needed to remove it.
Andrew rejects the argument that Trotsky began to move towards democratic socialism after he lost power. But the fact that he started to adopt a more democratic approach after being defeated is undeniable, based on the literary evidence.
Another point is that, since there is no classless democracy, the concept of democratic socialism must refer to working class rule, unlike those who support bureaucratic socialism. Andrew points to the necessity of dictatorship during the Russian civil war when the Bolsheviks had to fight off 14 armies from the imperialist powers. But I have constantly pointed out that dictatorship may be necessary in an emergency situation. What I oppose is dictatorship as a principle in the way it is presented by Leninism. Lenin began his actual transition to totalitarianism not during the civil war, but after, when he banned factions in the party.
Andrew argues that a sovereign power can’t be constrained by any law, because the sovereign power makes the law. So we are back to feudalism. If a sovereign power can’t be constrained by law, what is the use of a constitution? Oblivious to the collapse of Marxism-Leninism in the former Soviet Union, he resorts to dogma and accuses me of having a reformist approach. He totally rejects Trotsky rather than having a critical approach. He is unable to see that Trotsky wasn’t all wrong or all right and that this applies to Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
There is no point in arguing with Andrew about the Moscow trials. Those who claim to have uncovered the evidence against the accused were themselves later shot. Besides, similar accusations were made against Lenin and the Bolshevik Party by the Kerensky government. On the basis of fiction, Andrew condones the most severe punishment for Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and Trotsky: execution. Andrew can uncritically support the Stalinist narrative if he wants to, but this doesn’t make it true. Khrushchev would know what I mean.
Until he recognises that it was bureaucratic rather than democratic socialism that was built in the former Soviet Union, Andrew will fail to understand the real reason for its collapse, rooted in Leninist totalitarianism. The collapse was brought about not by Gorbachev, but by the coup attempt of the pro-bureaucratic, conservative elements within the Communist Party.
The last point is that Andrew misrepresents my take on the energy crisis. I am not arguing that the energy crisis will automatically lead to the collapse of capitalism. I argue that, if a suitable replacement for cheap oil is not found, the energy crisis will lead to the collapse of capitalism.
For Democratic Socialism