War criminals

If Keir Starmer becomes prime minister, he will have a “dangerous militaristic tendency” and may be “a danger to world peace”. This is the message of a series of shocking new videos, in which Starmer appears dressed as a soldier marching through the death and devastation of Gaza.

The videos have been produced by award-winning Platform Films, makers of the documentary Oh Jeremy Corbyn - the big lie, which was controversially axed by Glastonbury Festival last year. The aim of these videos is to get people to see Starmer in a new light, as he really is. He’s not the boring figure he often appears in the mainstream media. He’s a ruthless, dangerous warmonger, all too keen to take Britain into military adventures. And people need to think about this very carefully before they vote for him.

The picture of Starmer’s character is based on the many months of research that Platform has carried out in the course of making our latest documentary film, The big lie II - Starmer and the genocide. Our research revealed Starmer has a dangerous militaristic tendency. He has been pushing a nationalist line in the Labour Party ever since he became leader. His declarations in recent weeks that he would be ready to use nuclear weapons if he was prime minister and his support for increased military spending are only the logical results of this line. He has close links with the US establishment too. He is like Tony Blair - but on steroids!

The strongest evidence for the way Keir Starmer will behave if he becomes prime minister is his attitude to the continuing humanitarian disaster in Palestine. His extraordinary refusal to accept that Israel is committing a genocide in Gaza or to condemn Israel in any way shows him in his true colours. He is signalling his determination to march shoulder to shoulder with the US into whatever military conflict might come - and that could have very dangerous consequences for hopes of world peace.

Norman Thomas
Platform Films

No Israel

Steve Freeman’s ‘Another Israel is possible’ is the height of unreality starting with the headline itself (June 20). It isn’t helped by Steve’s determination to view the situation through the lens of his favourite obsession, a bourgeois-democratic republic.

Another Israel is certainly not possible. It has to go. The aim has to be a democratic, secular Palestine, not a recreation of a failed ethno-nationalist Jewish supremacist state. As Ilan Pappe says in his new essay for the New Left Review, ‘The collapse of Zionism’, what we are witnessing is the collapse of the Zionist project in Palestine. What possible purpose is there in trying to revive it in another form?

What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of Zionism, not the end of the beginning. It is likely to be extremely bloody, as the genocide in Gaza demonstrates. It is as well to be clear about what it is that makes the Zionist project inherently unstable and to proceed from there.

Pappe talks about the cleavage in Israeli society between the state of Judea and the state of Israel. Both are agreed on the fact that Palestinians have no place in their ethnically pure Jewish state, but they are fundamentally opposed on all other matters. A bourgeois, liberal Jewish state versus a theocratic ethno-nationalist state ruled not by secular law, but by halacha - Jewish law derived from the Talmud and Old Testament.

I would frame the cleavage in slightly different terms. The main divide in Israel is between those who see themselves as Jewish first (46%) and those who see themselves as Israeli (35%). See the Pew Research Center’s Israel’s religiously divided society.

One should add that this survey, taken eight years ago, probably underestimates the proportion of Israelis who see themselves as Israeli first. The wealth-creating, western-oriented section of Israel’s population is growing weaker, not stronger, as a settler regime has come to power. Indeed it is one of the ironies of the situation in Israel, that but for the common Palestinian enemy, the two Zionist camps would already have fallen upon each other.

Zionism was the adopted policy of British imperialism, and before that French imperialism under Napoleon, long before the British Jewish bourgeoisie adopted it. As people will be aware, the only vote against the Balfour Declaration in Lloyd George’s war cabinet was that of its only Jewish member, Sir Edwin Montague.

When British imperialism temporarily fell out with the Zionist settlers, US imperialism and for a time the Soviet Union under Stalin took up the mantle. Today it is crystal-clear that the existence of the Israeli state is fundamental to the imperialist project of imposing hegemony on the Arab east. This was what the Abraham Accords and ‘normalisation’ meant until October 7 disrupted the process.

Whether they realise it or not, the Palestinian struggle for national liberation stands diametrically opposed to the imperialists plans for integration between Israel and the Arab regimes, especially the oil-producing Gulf regimes.

However, the Zionist desire to impose its will on the Middle East has produced resistance, from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and across the region in what is termed the ‘Axis of Resistance’. The Iranian regime, not through choice, has been forced to support a wide variety of actors, including the Houthis.

What October 7 and the ongoing Israeli attack on Gaza has proved is that Israel is not the dynamic superpower that can defeat all who oppose it. It is bogged down in Gaza in its war against Hamas. Despite being massively outnumbered and outgunned, Hamas has fought a clever and tenacious guerrilla struggle.

Hezbollah has been drawn into this struggle, not least because it realised that if Israel was successful in Gaza then it was next. Indeed it was only heavy American pressure that prevented Israel from launching a preemptive attack on Lebanon after October 7.

The actions of the Houthis have demonstrated Israel’s vulnerabilities. It is only because of unstinting American support that Israel has been able to fight the war with Hamas. Not surprisingly America has promised full support for any war with Hezbollah. If a war with Hezbollah materialises, it is likely to set off a wider conflagration in the Middle East and the viability of some of the Arab regimes, such as in Bahrain, must be in question.

When Biden said, as a young Senator, that if Israel didn’t exist it would have had to be invented, he was speaking of the reality of the US-Israel relationship. That is the answer to those who believe the Israel lobby has a stranglehold over US foreign policy.

The Israeli army, which has imposed a regime of terror and control in the West Bank, which the apartheid regime in South Africa would have envied, has proved itself to be incompetent and out of its depth in fighting a counter-insurgency war in Gaza. Sharon’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza in 2005 must rank as one of Israel’s most serious strategic mistakes.

What the eventual outcome of the present crisis is and how long it takes the Zionist project to collapse is an unknown. However it may be sooner than expected. What is clear though is that the mechanical Marxism which sees the working class as the agents of revolutionary change does not apply to Israel - nor indeed to any settler working class. We can see in the west how difficult it is for the working class to achieve the revolutionary consciousness of its own potential power to overthrow capitalism. In a settler-colonial context this is impossible and this is where Moshé Machover and I diverge.

However, in a region where the deliberate creation by the imperialists of ‘political Islam’ has distorted and weakened the struggle of the Arab people for liberation, I am very clear that a democratic, secular state of Palestine must be the goal to strive for. Israeli Jews have no national rights for the simple reason that they are not an oppressed nation. Of course, they will have language rights, freedom of worship and the right to their own culture, but political rights? No.

Whether a section of the Israeli population is capable or able to break from Zionism and the idea of a Jewish state remains to be seen, but if there is such a section it won’t come from the Israeli working class.

Tony Greenstein


Mike Macnair asks whether Adam Buick or myself stand for the “immediate forced collectivisation of small businesses and family farms” and, if we do, whether we (in the Socialist Party of Great Britain) are “proposing to repeat the disastrous policies of the USSR in 1929-40, and of the People’s Republic of China in the ‘Great Leap Forward’ of 1958-62 and the ‘Cultural Revolution’ of 1966-76” (Letters, June 13).

It is frankly astonishing that Mike should even ask such questions. It demonstrates little, if any, familiarity with the case put forward by the SPGB or, more importantly, the dynamics of a communist-socialist revolution itself.

The SPGB are in the mould of orthodox Marxists. We hold that there are two main preconditions for a post-capitalist society to come about. The first is that the technological infrastructure should be sufficiently developed to enable a situation of material plenty to emerge. You cannot really institute a society based on free access to goods and services provided by the voluntary (unremunerated) labour of the populace without this productive capacity in place to produce enough. This capacity has long existed - in fact, for more than a century. Poverty and want exist not because the productive forces are still ‘insufficiently developed’, but only because the continued existence of capitalism (with the support of the left in the guise of state capitalism) prevents this potential from being realised.

Secondly, for a post-capitalist society to come about, a significant majority of workers have to want it and understand the implications of what they want. You cannot possibly impose a moneyless, wageless, classless and stateless alternative to capitalism from above - by some Leninist vanguard, perhaps. It has to come ‘from below’ - and not just in one part of the world (there can be no such thing as ‘socialism in one country’), but everywhere. The movement for genuine socialism is pitifully small at present, but, if and when it achieves a certain critical mass and starts to take off, its growth is likely to take an exponential form and spread everywhere, given the nature of modern telecommunications.

Looked at from this standpoint, you can see how absurdly inappropriate are Mike’s comments. “Forced collectivisation” implies the underlying socio-economic relationship remains intact with the continuation of production for the market and wage labour - but with the state taking over the means of production. “Forced collectivisation” also implies you have something to lose - your farm or small business, perhaps. But this has got nothing to do with communism, which, in a sense, is the transcendence of the very concept of property itself by making ownership universal. You will still live on your little farm, but will no longer be hampered by the need to ‘make a living’ from it. You will have free access to what you need and voluntarily contribute to the production of those things that satisfy human needs. Most work (which is utterly useless today and tied in with administering the capitalist money economy) will disappear, leaving ample time for leisure.

You won’t be losing anything, come a communist revolution: you will be gaining an entire world. Even the ex-capitalists might, in a sense, be said to benefit from common ownership of the means of production. There is nothing to prevent the more or less immediate implementation of full communism today apart from the fact that, sadly, the vast majority still have no inkling of what it is about - let alone want it. They think socialism or communism means bread queues and political dictatorship (thanks in part to the left calling these capitalist regimes ‘socialist’).

Mike argues: “If you don’t stand for forced collectivisation, you are not proposing the immediate implementation of the maximum programme, but taking political power in order to begin a period of transition.” But with respect, Mike, this is nonsense. We are in the transition now. Nothing more is required to institute full communism once a significant majority of workers come to want and understand it. It seems to me that those who bang on endlessly about the alleged need for some mythical transitional period are really only looking for an excuse to hang onto capitalism in the hopeful pretence that this might make them seem more pragmatic and plausible in the rough and tumble of capitalist politics. It doesn’t. It simply demonstrates a completely muddleheaded approach to what is required to effect a communist revolution,

Sooner or later you are going to have to let go of your attachment to basic capitalism and the idea of tinkering around with the system in the vain hope of opportunistically snapping up the odd floating voter here and there with this or that attractive packaged reform - that is, if you sincerely want a socialist or communist alternative to capitalism, The SPGB, for all your criticisms of it, has at least grasped the nettle. You can’t have an alternative to capitalism unless the idea of such an alternative becomes widely circulated - unless you throw yourself into the whole business of “making socialists”, as William Morris put it. That is what the SPGB almost singlehandedly is doing (among political parties), but which the left is conspicuously not doing.

Robin Cox

Not top-down

In his article, ‘Programme makers’, Jack Conrad wrote: “Socialism cannot be delivered from on high … Socialism is an act of self-liberation by the great mass of the working class for the sake of the great mass of humanity … Though it may appear paradoxical to some, that party is built top-down” (June 13),

The latter claim is simply untrue, and contradicts the truth of the former two. A working class party aiming to build communism can only do so by democratic means, so that it is “an act of self-liberation by the great mass”. Neither “self-liberation” nor democracy can be “built top-down”. A revolutionary ‘working class party’ can only be built bottom-up, by “the great mass of the working class” themselves. That was Marx’s political and philosophical position - “the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves …”

As I and generations of workers previously have found out, joining any party that isn’t built on the principle that workers tell their elected leaders what they must do (not the other way round, ‘top-down’), simply leads to those workers leaving those parties. Put simply, workers ‘know better’ their own interests, than do ‘party members’.

I, like many others, joined a supposed ‘workers’ party’ to tell them what to do. When it failed to listen, we left the party. It’s the history of the Bolsheviks, CPGB, RCP, SWP, Militant, WP, WRP, etc. Until this simple political and philosophical lesson is learned by ‘communists’, then all ‘party-building’ will fail.


L Bird

Vote WPB

Nigel Farage has probably burned his bridges with the BBC by being right about Ukraine, and thus at least implicitly about Nato, although being so will do him no end of good among the voters at whom he is aiming.

Some people are paid an absolute fortune to talk about politics when they know nothing at all about it. Yet Farage is still wrong about Gaza among much else, and the leader of the opposition in 2029 - or for many practical purposes from next month - should not be anyone who had ever been aunties favourite uncle.

Farage may very well win Clacton, but the re-election of George Galloway at Rochdale is a racing certainty. Wherever you can, including here at North Durham, vote for the Workers Party of Britain.

David Lindsay

Eat my hat!

From my cursory reading of Marxian economics and John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st century, economically we are going to expect much of the same from the Labour Party as we had from the Tories.

How do I know this?

If I read Marx right, the rate of profit is divided by total capital and, even with the tendential fall in that rate, it’s still going to be gargantuan profits for the rich and a wage freeze plus worse terms and conditions for workers - not to mention unemployment, a flourishing black-market economy, more drug and crime problems, and more proxy wars!

Capitalism may provide novelty and distraction for a while, but the cold, hard truth can’t be avoided - that of decline! Steve Collins has a theory of out-of-date means of production and Arthur Bough has one of fixed capital saved so as to be invested, but, as Thomas Piketty states in his book Capital in the 21st century, inequality is still going to continue.

John Smith’s book is well worth studying, as he tackles everything from an advancement of Marx’s questions he failed to answer, to the displacement theory of Samir Amin, the confusion of the Euro-Marxists and his own theory of global arbitrage of super-exploitation as a third form of surplus value in production.

If I’m wrong, I’ll eat my hat!

Frank Kavanagh

Legalise drugs

I would like to comment on a recent article by Tom Phillips in The Guardian titled: ‘The cocaine superhighway: how death and destruction mark drug’s path from South America to Europe’ (June 12).

The article explains that Ecuador is the most violent country in South America, with more than 8,000 involved in the cocaine trade being murdered between 2022 and 2023. Ecuador does not produce cocaine - it is produced in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. However, its busy ports have become what is known as the “cocaine superhighway”, as containers carrying cocaine head for Europe and the US.

Soaring demand in Europe is making places like Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, one of the most violent places on earth, as rival drug gangs fight for control of the cocaine trade. In Europe, rising cocaine consumption has brought violence amongst drug gangs to ports in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. The article concludes with police officers in both Europe and Central America calling on cocaine users in Europe to “wake up to the pain they are causing on the other side of the world”.

What can Marxists do to end the violence associated with the international drug trade? First, we need the EU and UK governments to legally regulate all drugs, just like alcohol. Second, cocaine needs to be made available to users via specially licensed pharmacies. Third, EU and UK governments should buy cocaine directly from small farmers in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

It’s time to legalise all drugs.


John Smithee