Zionist lies

Daniel Lazare’s mostly excellent article on Jesus (‘An international socialist?’ December 14) espouses a view that most ex-Catholics such as I definitely share - which is that Jesus was the first famous leftie. His article, however, would have benefitted by acknowledging that there are two different “gods”. The one of the Old Testament, that those considering themselves Jews generally follow, who is vengeful and tribalistic (favouring Jews) and the one of the New Testament - who espouses loving thy neighbour and who turns the other cheek when faced with aggression. They couldn’t be more different. Whilst 200 years of history have led to evangelical Christians and popes up to St John the 23rd espousing more of the vengeful Old Testament god and little of the New, it should be noted that the present pope Francis called for a ceasefire on October 29 - a call which Catholic Biden shamefully ignores.

Lazare’s article falls down when he reflects on the present Palestinian massacre. He thinks “communal hatreds are back”, declaring Hamas’s October 7 attack to “have opened the floodgates of sectarianism on both sides of the divide”. With this one sentence he reflects the traditional Israeli blindness to history, for Hamas repeatedly explain that their arguments are not with Jews but with Zionism. Lazare displays the wilful ignorance that so many Zionists share, which is that Palestinians hate Jews, so Jews have no alternative but to hate them back.

This is quite untrue, as Hamas says in point 16 of its 2017 policy statement: “Hamas affirms that its conflict is with the Zionist project, not with the Jews because of their religion. Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine. Yet, it is the Zionists who constantly identify Judaism and the Jews with their own colonial project and illegal entity.”

Lazare is promoting the lie that religion prolongs this war. Zionists promote the view that Hamas hates Jews because that entitles them to employ their Old Testament god in the service of “wiping out Hamas” (and therefore Gaza). Our media participates in this lie. But Lazare and our western media are wrong: Hamas’s war is against colonialism: if those calling themselves Jews were to abandon Zionism, Hamas have made it clear they would share the land. Lazare is too conservative, too set in his ways, to see this. In spite of his leftie aspirations, he falls 100% for the Zionist lie that this is a religious conflict. It is not: it is an anti-colonialist struggle.

One final point. Who was Jesus? He was both a true Jew and a Palestinian, unlike the Zionists who invaded in 1947. How do we know this? Extensive DNA studies by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2001, and more recently at Johns Hopkins University in 2012, indicate that the ancestors of Ashkenazis such as Netanyahu never emigrated from ancient Israel, whilst Palestinians have an 80% genetic match to the ancient Hebrews. As the Israeli historian Schlomo Sands observes, these Hebrews were not driven out by the Romans after the destruction of the second temple in 70CE; some of these Hebrews/early Palestinians converted to Christianity in the 4th century, followed by the majority who embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.

Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, both stated on several occasions that Palestinians were the descendants of the ancient Judeans. So Jesus was a Christian, a Jew - and a Palestinian. I think if Lazare did a bit less writing and a bit more reading, then his articles could be immeasurably improved. Our website (onepalestine.land) will educate him.

What he needs to see is what we are presently witnessing - a Zionist movement convinced that they are the rightful owners of the land, but one which is actually exterminating the true descendants of the ancient Hebrews. They do this by proclaiming they are Jews (when we all know the ruling Ashkenazis are basically Europeans) engaged in a religious war against non-Jews. Those who oppose them must die, with a vengeful Old Testament god giving them carte blanche to smite any in their path.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, engage in an anti-colonial struggle, with Islam (which recognises both Christians and Jews as ‘People of the Book’, thus embodying many New Testament values of tolerance) as their pillar of support. If Jesus were alive today, I think we can guess which side he’d be on.

Pete Gregson (Chair)
One Democratic Palestine

Factional answers

In response to Ansell Eades’ points raised in his letter (‘Factions’ December 14) I did in fact state briefly what the problems with factionalism within a Communist Party were in my letter published in issue 1467 (‘Factions test’ November 16), namely:

“Yes, there will be different tendencies and trends, but to allow these to become organised in any way, would mean that members of those factions would start to put the interests of their faction above that of the party - as well as becoming more interested in faction fighting within the party, as opposed to building the party as a whole and the mass movement.”

The whole point of a faction is to try and win the Communist Party over to the point of view - or even control - of that faction - so, by definition, that means putting the faction above that of the party. That is the basic problem with factions. Plus, they inevitably lead to splits and breakaways.

Ansell suggests a Communist Party affiliated to an independent mass party of the working class would itself be an example of a faction. This is a basic misunderstanding, or a confusion, of two separate concepts. An independent mass party of the working class, being a potentially federal party, allowing affiliation of socialist and communist parties, trade unions and other organisations of the working class, would by definition not be a Communist Party and therefore would not be operating democratic centralism.

Democratic centralism is the underpinning organisational principle of a Communist Party, not a mass, federal party of the working class. For democratic centralism to work effectively, it has to be within a party operating on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, which clearly a mass, federal, working class party is not likely to be.

Yes, any such Communist Party would try and win as many members within such a mass working class party to its points of view, even to become members, but that is very different - opposite in fact - to thinking the Communist Party is that mass, federal party of the working class - or should try and take over that role. The respective roles and functions are different but complementary.

There is a basic issue of principle of how communists and a Communist Party should work in the wider working class movement, and, frankly, it divides the principal writers of the Weekly Worker from the real communist tradition - and places them more in the chaotic fractured camp of Trotskyism.

That basic divide is between: (1) You try and win influence, credibility and elected offices (within the wider working class movement), through hard work, genuine dedication and commitment to the movement, the ability to argue your politics and to win people to your point of view. The Communist Party is part of and works through the mass movement of the working class. It works openly and democratically, not through secrecy and conspiracy. You clearly understand the Communist Party is not the same as the mass movement, but that the CP can influence wider layers of the working class through the mass movement. Or: (2) You think the “party” (in reality, a Trotskyist group or sect) can only progress by building itself at the expense of the mass movement, that building the sect is the prime objective, even at the cost of the wider labour movement, the organised expression of the working class, losing its broad leadership within society, let alone its capacity to actually change it. That after all is the logic of Trotskyist entryism and lies behind the Weekly Worker’s hostility to what it labels “broad frontism”; in fact, a counterposing of building “the party” to building the mass movement.

You get the ridiculousness and absolute absurdity of the groups and sects claiming everyone must join their particular fragment of “the truth” (as they see it) as the only way to build socialist and communist unity.

Working in the mass movement, to build and strengthen its mass political and organisational bases, is fundamental for genuine communists. And, as it happens, helps build the organisational basis and political influence of the Communist Party itself. Both sets of distinct tasks are complementary, not contradictory.

Andrew Northall

Two questions

Up to now, under the influence of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the socialist environment, I, a Vietnamese, have become an enthusiastic supporter of scientific communism and Marxist ideology and maybe you consider me a comrade, a communist. However, I don’t have blind faith. I am someone who is always on the path of finding truth and righteousness. Therefore, as I learn more and more about politics and economics, as well as follow and participate in many debates between many different viewpoints, some questions that I cannot resolve about that Marxist ideal have sprouted in my mind. After asking for help from the bureaucratic theoretical apparatus of the Communist Party of Vietnam and some superficial and lack of reasoning from Vietnam Young Marxists unsuccessfully, I now have to seek help from you - socialist and Marxist activists, economists, theorists, etc.

My questions concern first of all the basis of this entire fighting movement - Marxist economics. I may come back another time with a few more questions concerning other aspects of this movement and ideology. But to get to that step, we need to complete this basic and most important problem first.

Here are my questions:

1. Does the commodity value come mainly from demand, market evaluation and utility, not from labour? (Explain the labour theory of value versus marginal value theory.)

2. Do employers, business owners, corporation bosses (capitalist class) earn money and create profits from their efforts in marketing and managing their companies, from the difference between value and price of goods (increased due to consumer demand after being marketed by the boss)? Therefore, the capitalist class gets rich on its own merit, not through the exploitation of surplus value by the working class (workers) and the workers’ wages are fair for their labour.

Those are the two main problems that I really need to solve right now. The survival of my belief in Marxism depends on those basic issues.

Hope that you can answer my questions as clearly as possible, ‘untie the knots’ that I have been aching and longing to get rid of for so long. I will eagerly await your reply every day and every hour.

Finally, I would like to wish all comrades a new year with new victories and new successes in this prolonged revolution. Happy New Year 2024! Workers of the world, unite!

Nguyễn Phan Quang Anh

Inventing myths

I enjoyed reading in Weekly Worker number 1471 (December 14) the clarifying exposition of how myths invented to serve political ideologies particular to a time and social structure can be appropriated to suit other ideological programmes, and how, for true believers in the importance of these repurposings, neither the essential untruthfulness of those myths, nor the aesthetic qualities inherent to the manipulative and reactionary nature of the myths’ original function, can be allowed to undermine them. Paul Demarty’s piece on Lord of the rings was also interesting.

Jack William Grahl

United defence

The need for united defence of the left and workers movement against repression by the state and the employers is urgently posed. Demonstrators who oppose Israel’s slaughter of the Palestinians have been arrested for “hate crimes”. The Tories are gunning for the unions: emboldened by the defeat of the strike wave, they are going forward with sinister legislation forcing the unions to scab on their own strikes. Added to that, they have imposed sweeping new laws to crush climate protests under which you can be thrown in prison for such activity as obstructing the highway. Things will likely get worse: the country is going to hell and everybody knows the crooked British ruling class is just getting started.

Several left groups have been suppressed for pro-Palestine activity, including Socialist Appeal, Socialist Alternative, the CPGB‑ML and FRFI. But when it comes to defending themselves against attack, the left stands divided. Each group organises its own defence, on its own turf, mobilising only its own forces and never collaborating or actively seeking to involve each other in common defence work. Divided we fall!

The Spartacist League has a crazy idea: why don’t all the socialist groups get together in a room and plan to unite over defence work? Instead of the ‘business as usual’ sectarian practice of the left, we’re proposing that, despite the many political issues that divide us, we should unite to organise protest, publicity and fundraising for the purpose of defence of pro-Palestinian and Just Stop Oil demonstrators.

Such a united-front defence campaign could be a step towards a broader platform for defence work that would reach across the whole workers’ movement. Its policy must be to place all our faith in the class struggle and none in capitalist politicians, courts or bosses. Uniting all the forces on the left is particularly urgent to defend unions against any penalties or victimisations resulting from the anti-union laws. A common front for defence of the unions and their members is not just a nice idea - there is no other way! The alternative is to place our faith in the TUC to mount a real struggle, which is pure fantasy.

The need for a broad-based defence organisation was clearly shown in 2022 in response to the mass sacking of 800 P&O ferry workers. It was shown during last year’s strike wave in which union members were often instructed by their leadership to cross another union’s picket lines. A united-front defence organisation would seek to mobilise all union members to defend workers who face victimisation for honouring a picket line, a basic principle of the class struggle.

It was for the purpose of non-sectarian defence that the Spartacist League founded the Partisan Defence Committee, a class-struggle legal and social defence organisation (aptly described as “the Spartacist League in search of a united front”). But our own forces are tiny. It is only through joint action, uniting broader forces, that we can mobilise union power for defence of the oppressed and exploited when faced with sacking, imprisonment or other forms of victimisation. The example we look to is the International Labor Defense (ILD) that was set up in the 1920s by founders of American communism. James P Cannon, who led the ILD’s campaign to save anarchist workers Sacco and Vanzetti from execution in the US, described the policy of class-struggle defence that we support, saying: “It puts all faith in the power of the masses and no faith whatever in the justice of the courts. While favoring all possible legal proceedings, it calls for agitation, publicity, demonstrations - organised protest on a national and international scale. It calls for unity and solidarity of all workers on this burning issue, regardless of conflicting views on other questions.” (‘Who can save Sacco and Vanzetti?’ Notebook of an agitator 1958)

We welcome proposals from any group on the left for common defence work.

Partisan Defence Committee