Mervyn Hartwig mh at
Wed Apr 24 02:52:29 MDT 2002

This seems a really important analysis. It's nearly 6,000 words long, so
I've only included the Intro. Let's know if you'd like the whole thing.


A note on the boycott campaign.

by Naxos

This article is Copyleft [see below]

December 2001. At one end of London's Oxford Street the Palestine
Solidarity Campaign has mounted a picket on Selfridge's department
store, to persuade the management to stop selling produce from Israeli
settlements in the Occupied Territories.

A similar campaign has been organised [March 2002] by Ya Basta in Italy

In this article I take these actions as the starting point for a
discussion of the radical transformations that have taken place in the
Israeli economy during the past decade, and Israel's very specific
location within the global knowledge economy.

To Summarise:

I would argue that Israeli capitalism of today offers a precious
microcosmic possibility for the study of immaterial labour in action. It
is also crucial that we understand this economy, because in a real
"world war" sense our futures depend on what is happening here.

In recent years the Israeli economy has undergone fundamental changes.
An entirely new class composition was created by the ex-Soviet
migrations of the 1990s. Markets for traditional Israeli produce became
more restricted. The Internet created the conditions for transnational
exports of high-value immaterial labour (knowledge) products to replace
previous low-value products with high transit costs. And the nature of
the new knowledge economies opened new interstitial possibilities for
insertion. A new and technically skilled workforce proves capable of
creating the flows of innovation that are the precondition for the
survival of the large capitalist firms of this and the preceding era
(head-hunting of promising new start-ups). Among other things, Israeli
companies are particularly well-suited to meet the new demand for
biomedical products. They also have a powerhouse of R&D represented by
the Israeli Defence Force's high-tech academies. And they have a
guaranteed point of entry into the US military-industrial complex by
virtue of lines of communication between "Silicon Valley" and the
"Silicon Wadi" of Northern Israel. More than this, Israel also exports
models of behaviour - biopower - in the form of knowledges of how to
limit, constrain and eventually crush dissident behaviours. This is
marketed as "methods for defeating terrorism", but is in fact a set of
methods for the creation and freezing of an adversarial "other".

I shall deal with each of these aspects in turn. In passing I would say
that this conjunctural shift in the Israeli economy, this radical change
in the composition of both class and capital in Israel, have been the
necessary precondition for - and partial explanation of - the Israelis'
radical break with the Palestinian labour-power which had served
previous phases of production (notable in agriculture and construction).
Put briefly, the inflow of Soviet ("Russian") Jews made possible the
break with Palestinian labour power. And simultaneously the Soviet Jews
have turned out to be the electoral bedrock of the Israeli government's
"final solution" for the Palestinians.

Thus the political and economic precondition for Israel's radical break
with Palestinian labour-power was the shift from traditional forms of
agriculture and manufacture into the arena of immaterial labour which
took place in the 1990s.

But more than that, I would argue that the Israelis' war with the
Palestinians operates as a "factory of immaterial labour export
possibilities". This war is, in a real sense, productive for the Israeli

Calls for boycotts of Israeli produce are symbolically significant and
completely worthwhile. A necessary element of ethical hygiene. They
should be supported. But the way in which the campaign is framed is
simple-minded to the point of naivety. We are not talking a few packets
of pretzels, a crate of Jaffa oranges and a face-pack of cosmetics. Two
things need to be said. First, Israel's new immaterial economy and its
immaterial-labour products are organically integrated into the very
highest levels of the globalised high-tech communications, military and
security economy. Second, and perhaps more importantly it appears that
the trade-mark Israeli model of suppression of opponents has been
exported and projected onto the world stage, to become the dominant
paradigm of US foreign policy.

The characteristics of this model are (a) radical negation of the Other
(for several decades, in Israeli discourse the Palestinians have always
and only been "the terrorists"; (b) Preventive security strikes,
extending increasingly to assassination; (c) micro-level capillary
monitoring of populations at all levels, and installation of
administrative and technological means to that end; (d) intransigent and
defiant unilateralism.

We are at a crucial turning point. After the first phase of the Afghan
war world opinion seemed to be expecting a Powellisation of Israeli
policy (towards negotiation). Instead we have seen a Sharonisation of
American policy [Note 1].



1. Interview with Alain Joxe, Multitudes No. 7, Paris, December 2001.


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Naxos Inc. [2002]

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