Iraq: From a scratch to Gangrene?

Jorn Andersen jorn.andersen at
Mon Sep 16 14:03:22 MDT 1996

At 09:26 16-09-96 +0200, Robert Malecki wrote:

>formulation can be taken as nothing else other then you have written off the
>entire Israeli Proletariat and poor people to Zionism! I disagree whole

But later on:

>>Of course we have to struggle to free the israeli working class from zionist
>>ideology and practice, but this can be done only when the israeli workers
>>support their palestinians brothers and sisters against the zionist state,
>>not in abstact as a class against class.
>And then you throw in the above to cover your softness to Arab Nationalism.
>Down on your knees PO begging the Jewish Proletariat to support their
>Palestinean brothers and sisters will not due. Trying to tell this to and
>Israeli worker in the context of the above is like saying to them go out and
>commit suicide!

This makes it IMO quite clear what the problem is with expecting Israeli
workers to become a revolutionary force. I think that the first step to
take is to see what the role of the zionist state is: Primarily an
oppressive tool for imperialism. The problem is that Israeli workers are
much more tied in with the Israeli state than, say, US or European workers
are. It seems for them to be their guarantee for survival.

>This approach is the approach of people who are soft on third world
>nationalism! In fact in this case Iraq under the leadership of Saddam
>recently had the third or fourth most powerful army in the world.

I doubt you could find any statistics which could support this.

>There are
>millions of Jewish Workers and poor people who both through their position
>in society, but also other reasons do not accept this ideology more then in
>the way that Americans appear to accept the present policies of the Clinton

There are *not* millions of Jewish workers and poor people (in Israel) who
do not accept this ideology. There are more Jewish workers outside Israel
who don't accept it than inside. There *are* millions of workers in Israel
who don't accept it, but they are Arab workers.

>Now we come to the very heart of the arguement. Since when is Arab
>nationalism progressive against imperialism? In which Arab land? Which Arab
>land has not oppressed the Palestineans?
>Arab Nationalism, just as
>Israeli Nationalism is reactionary and blocks the way to any independent
>class struggle by the Proletariat in the middle east..

It is true that almost all Arab countries has oppressed the Palestinians.
And that all Arab countries oppress their "own" workers. But still Arab
nationalism has from tile to time fought against imperialism.
Inconsistently and compromising, yes, but nevertheless. Israeli nationalism
has never, and will never.

>Are you saying that in a war with say Iraq, Syria,
>Jordanien, Egypt, that Bolshevik Leninists would support the progressive
>Arab side?

Yes, we should be for an Israeli defeat.

The problem with this "class against class" slogan is that it doesn't take
into account the social reality of neither Israeli nor Arab workers - even
in Israel itself. In Israel most white, Jewish workers have a much higher
living standard and job security than Arab workers. This means that Jewish
and Arab workers will very rarely find themselves fighting together against
the bosses. Jewish workers will often scab on strikes by Arab workers. So
while we *wish* they would fight together, this will probably not happen
until the Israeli state is forced by a deepening crisis to make very severe
cuts on Jewish workers - or (which I think is much more likely) a socialist
workers' movement in the Arab countries will show them another way forward.

For such a movement to develop it is necessary to be clear on zionism
(Israeli nationalism) as well as on Arab nationalism. Israeli nationalism
can never be a banner under which anybody will fight imperialist (or any
other) oppression. Arab nationalism has shown from time to time to be the
banner under which Arab workers have fought against imperialism - the
Intifadah is just one of the latest examples.

But Arab nationalism is as much a blind alley as any nationalism. Therefor
Marxists should have the same attitude as to any other nationalism, which
is that we will fight with the nationalists against oppression, but we will
at the same time fight against nationalist ideology. We will fight against
not only the oppressive aspects of nationalism, but against nationalism as
a whole. We will do this by ideological arguments and by showing in
practice that internationalist, revolutionary socialism is a much better
guide to winning the struggles than nationalism.




Jorn Andersen

Internationale Socialister
Copenhagen, Denmark

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