[Marxism] Communism, anti-German criticism and Israel

Ed Thehappyclown edthehappyclown at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 10 19:12:04 MDT 2005


First published in „Israel Nachrichten“, the
German daily newspaper in Tel Aviv in 2004; first
published in English at http://info.interactivist.net
in 2005)

 Communism, anti-German criticism and Israel
An interview with Stephan Grigat by Jens Misera

Jens Misera: You are a member of the Viennese group
"Café Critique", a pool of anti-German communists.
What is your definition of communism?

Stephan Grigat: Communism is a concept which cannot be
defined in terms of the established social sciences.
Strictly speaking, communism is nothing more than the
movement of materialistic criticism. And communists,
who detest propaganda, should refuse to deliver too
detailed descriptions of a possible communist society.
Not because one could not imagine a society beyond the
utilization imperative of capital and the domination
imperative of the state, but rather because of the
simple reason that people should talk about and
criticise the existing reality in the first place.

People who are only interested in how the bananas will
come to Europe and who will remove the dirt from the
streets in communism – questions which appear to be
rather strange, by the way, in view of the fact that
approximately two thirds of humanity live in misery
– those people don’t find fault with the existing
system anyway. But criticizing the existing also
basically implies, how it should be instead: Communism
is not about a dictatorship of people over people, but
rather about a dictatorship of the will and the wishes
of people over the objective-material conditions of
their existence. Therefore, materialistic criticism is
about creating social conditions, which enable people
for the first time, to plan their lives
self-confidently, that is, beyond the utilization
imperative and domination imperative of state and
capital. This is not paradise on earth, where there
are no problems and contradictions any more, but a
society established according to the requirements of
reason, where no one, anywhere in the world, must
starve because he does not have enough means.
Communism, in this sense, has nothing to do with
either traditional marxism nor with alternative
renunciation ideologies. It is neither about an equal
distribution of misery, nor about consumption
renunciation. “Luxury for everybody" is much closer
to Marx’s intentions. Communist criticism does not
want to create pre-bourgeois circumstances, neither
concerning productivity (with all necessary criticism
of a technology developed under the capital relation),
nor concerning the emancipation of the individual from
the chains of archaic communities, which had begun
just then. Communist criticism does not accuse
capitalism of creating luxury goods, but rather that
such things are withheld from most people. Withheld
not through the evil will of some individuals or the
conscious acting of a class (although this may play a
role), but rather through the logic of a system, that
is not oriented towards people’s needs, but towards
the realization of capital. Communist criticism does
not accuse bourgeois societies of creating certain
freedom rights and individual rights, but rather
points out that a society that requires such rights
remains a violent society. We do not argue against the
fact that the bourgeois citizen is promised the
pursuit of happiness (Glücksversprechen), but rather
try to point out its ideological essence and to
clarify that this promise actually cannot be kept in a
bourgeois society.

And why is this communism anti-German?

There is something worse than capitalism and bourgeois
society: its barbarous abolition. And that is what
Germany stands for, that is what national socialism
and fascism stand for, that is also what
panarabic-nationalist ideas and islamist ideas stand
for today. These ideologies stand for an
anti-capitalism full of resentments, which does not
want to abolish the misery caused by the capital, but
rather wants to re-organize it in a
national-collective (volksgemeinschaftlich) or
umma-socialist way, and adds to the cynical
instrumental reason of bourgeois society which takes
into account the death of countless people
shruggingly, the delusional extermination of people
for the sake of their extermination.

In the context of anti-German criticism, „German“
should always be understood in the sense of criticism
of ideology. It is not a matter of an hereditary
national character, but a political-economic
constellation which favors extermination, where others
in the West pursue certain goals with the help of
certain means. So, this is not about a special
mentality, but a specific form of capitalist
socialisation, which then indeed does create "typical
German" social characters. In Germany, a special form
of relationship between state, bourgeoisie and society
has eventually led to the shoah. And this relationship
still exists. As Clemens Nachtmann has once pointed
out so accurately, this constellation can be described
as “German", because it was first established in
Germany where it was able to display its bestial
potential. But this constellation is not a phenomenon
that can be limited to a specific historical period or
a specific territory, thus neither to the German state
nor the time of National Socialism. It results from a
socialisation that is committed to the realization
imperatives of the capital and the ruling imperatives
of the state. Therefore, “German" can also be
generalized.

Which developments led to the present anti-German
criticism?

The history of today’s anti-Germans began at the end
of the eighties. In some segments of the radical left
in the Federal Republic of Germany there were disputes
about anti-Semitic implications in the
solidarity-campaigns with Palestine, which went
totally unreflected upon in the left at that time.
These disputes were also encouraged by the polemics of
authors like Wolfgang Pohrt or Eike Geisel. Then the
Berlin Wall fell and German reunification was on the
agenda. The anti-Germans – at that time consisting
of a much more heterogeneous group of left wing people
– deprecated the reunification, not out of a
particular sympathy for the post-stalinistic GDR
(German Democratic Republic), but rather because of
the insight that with the reunification the last
visible consequences of the German responsibility for
exterminatory war and shoah will disappear, making it
possible for Germany to take a new chance and make a
new attempt in its delusional efforts. There were two
large demonstrations under the slogan “Germany –
never again" and “Death is a master from Germany" in
Frankfurt and in Berlin. While most of the Germans,
including large parts of the left, tumbled into a
nationalistic delirium we, on the other hand, rather
agreed with Dov Shilansky, the then-speaker of the
Israeli Knesset, who declared the day of the German
reunification a day of mourning.

We feared the formation of a “Fourth Reich". These
apprehensions seemed absolutely justified and
reasonable, taking into account the rhetoric of German
politicians at the time, the racist pogroms which
began immediately after the reunification, the blunt
relativization of Nazi-crimes, the policy towards
Yugoslavia, the attempts at getting a seat in the
World Security Council, the efforts for military
rearmament and the legitimation of German foreign
deployments as well as economic expansion towards the
East. Soon it became apparent however, that the
resurrection of Germany cannot be criticized
sufficiently with the help of the concept of the
“Fourth Reich" and we tried to dedicate ourselves
more strongly to the criticism of that, what we call
“German ideology" and “German solution model for
crises".

The discussions within the German left during the gulf
war in 1991 were important for many people – also
for me, as I still lived in Berlin at that time. While
people in Israel had to hide in shelters wearing gas
masks and feared coming under fire by Iraqi
Scud-rockets equipped with German poison gas every
hour, the German left celebrated its anti-war rallies,
and explained to the Israelis, that it was their own
fault, and was happy to receive encouraging
compliments from Saddam Hussein in their battle
against the USA and its “Zionist protégé". Hardly
any one of us spoke up in support of the war lead by
the USA at that time, a war which also took place
under totally different circumstances than the
military intervention in 2003. But the experiences
with the German left during the German reunification
and the Gulf War led to a breach, that could no longer
be bridged.

In the course of the nineties several magazines were
founded. These projects tried to deal with the
historical mistakes of traditional Marxism and thus to
criticize Marxist-Leninist theories of imperialism,
fascism and capitalism under the premise of a new
Marxist discourse. Criticising antisemitic antizionism
within the left eventually resulted in an explicit
partisanship for Israel. A little later, similar
developments also took place in Austria. Today there
are also groups in Switzerland which can be described
as anti-German in a wider sense.

On the other hand, these projects were also about
trying to intervene directly, driven by the desperate
and arbitrary hope to be able to save something of the
emancipatory potential of the left. How poor the
results of these interventions were, can be seen
regarding the final bankruptcy of the left after the
anti-Semitic massacre on 9/11. In the light of the
condition of the left all around the world and in
light of the still intolerable condition of this
world, our criticism was perfectly useless and without
influence. But many of today’s discussions, not only
within the left, would be totally different today or
would not be led at all, if it wasn’t for some
materialists, who, for the last fifteen years, got on
the nerves of everyone by meddling with their
criticism of Germany and capitalism.

German conditions have already been criticised by Karl
Marx, Theodor W. Adorno and Jean Améry. What is the
reference point to these precursors?

Well, every anti-German communist would probably
mention Marx and Adorno when asked about their
theoretical references. Marx is the critic of
political economy, and thus the critic of the
political-economical context on the basis of which all
evil in this world and the German evil in particular
thrives. Marx already called for a “war against
German conditions" in his early writings and
postulated that these German conditions were even
below the level of criticism. Marxists later didn’t
take up this thought, let alone understand it. Adorno
was the first one who pointed out the consequences of
the shoah and the reality of the German
Volksgemeinschaft as a central theme for the
materialistic criticism of society.
Unlike the Bolshevik occurrences of marxism,
anti-German communists are not into worshiping classic
authors. They rather wish to sharpen the weapons of
criticism by applying a critical theory of society, in
order to contribute assiduously to overthrow all forms
of authority, including the authority of Bolshevik
dogmas. Therefore we also look into Freudian
psychoanalysis.

Jean Améry was one of the first people, who
criticized a new, left-wing anti-Semitism appearing in
the shape of anti-Zionism. At the same time, he was
also one of the sharpest critics of atrocities
commited by the Israeli security forces, by the way.
That we do refer to Améry today, already becomes
clear bearing in mind that Gerhard Scheit, one of my
colleagues at Café Critique, is significantly
involved in publishing a complete works issue of
Améry at Klett-Cotta publishing house.

In 2003 you published a book (as an editor) called
"Transformation of post-Nazism. The German-Austrian
way to democratic fascism“ (Ca ira publishing house,
Freiburg). What do "post-Nazism" and "democratic
fascism" mean?

Among other things, the realization that the
denouncement of the reunited Germany as the “fourth
Reich" implies numerous doubtful associations from the
repertoire of tradition marxism, especially with
respect to “German imperialism", lead us to deal
with concepts like “post-fascism" and
“post-Nazism".
In the context of the discussions about the German
reunification, we were especially interested in the
question of whether there will be a fascization of
democracy in the course of its renationalization, or
whether this so called fascization had long before
been realized in post-fascism, so that it would be
more appropriate to speak of a democratization of
fascism today.

The concepts of “post-fascism" and “post-Nazism"
try to grasp the fact that the killing did indeed have
an end in 1945, but that there has never been any so
called “Stunde Null" (zero hour). Instead, the
post-fascist and post-national socialist democracies
have rather incorporated structural elements of
fascism and national socialism.

If you reflect on that, you can hardly continue
pursuing the anti-fascist traditions of the left,
permanently observing some Nazi groups (as much
importance as such work still has of course), but you
rather have to deal with society as a whole and make
it clear to yourself, that a post-Nazi consciousness
is common not only among the Austria “Freedom Party"
of Jörg Haider or some comparatively marginalized
neonazi groups. (Obviously, these neonazis with their
open reference towards National Socialism aren’t
very conducive for the German export industry in any
case.)
The concept of “democratic fascism" tries to combine
elements which seem totally contradictory for
bourgeois consciousness. In Austria, the term also
takes into account that this is not only about the
Nazi era, but also the so called Autro-fascist era in
the 1930s. At the same time, you have to be aware of
the problem, that the term “National Socialism" –
the indispensable (explicit or implicit) main point of
reference for German and Austrian politics –
vanishes in favor of a more general concept of
“fascism". This problem alone let us choose the term
“post-Nazism" instead of the more widely known term
“post-fascism" as a title for the book I published
as an editor. I think it is very important to outline
the difference between fascism in general and National
Socialism in particular. Of course National Socialism
also was a form of fascism. But the German and
Austrian eliminatory anti-Semitism in particular is
something which was not characteristic for fascism in
general.

In what way is your partisanship for the state of
Israel compatible with your struggle for communism?

It is not only compatible, but partisanship for Israel
is a compelling consequence of communist criticism –
even if most people who call themselves communists
obviously have a totally different attitude. I am
afraid I have to go into some detail to explain that.
In Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, there is a
very good explanation of why the hate of
resentment-driven people consistently directs itself
against the interest-bearing capital. Marx was already
aware, that the capital in "its most remarkable form
which is at the same time the form which comes closest
to its most popular image" will be the preferred
"point of attack of a superficial criticism", the
point of attack of a resentment-ridden anti-capitalism
characteristic not only for the Nazis.

Authors who are oriented towards Marx like the Chicago
sociology professor Moishe Postone have shown how and
why the interest capital and other aspects of
bourgeois society are associated with Jews in a
paranoid and delusional way. Resulting from such
paranoid and delusional projections is a form of
fetishistic anti-capitalism, which eventually ends up
biologizing capitalism as international Jewry.

This is one point where anti-Semitism differs
fundamentally from other forms of racism.
Anti-Semitism claims to have an explanation of the
world as a whole. Anti-Semitism is the most barbarous
reaction thinkable to the fact that people are forced
into capital’s productivity and state loyalty. At
the same time, it agrees with it to the greatest
possible extent. Anti-Semitism is not simply about
hating Jews, but rather about hating everything that
Jews embody for the anti-Semites.

Anti-Semitism (especially in its geopolitical
reproduction as anti-Zionism) is fed by dull
resentments against civilization and individuality,
against intellectuality, abstractness and liberality,
against excess and freedom, against the bourgeiosie
(in the original sense) and against communism in its
only emancipatory sense – providing the chance of
individual happiness as an absolute antithesis to the
delusion of a "völkische" identity.

With respect to Israel, everything could be so simple
for people who are interested in emancipation, i.e.
for communists: anti-Semitism, which was already
anti-Zionist with the Nazis, led to the Shoah.
Germans, Austrians and their "Hilfsvölker" (assisting
people[s]) organized and carried out the annihilation.
All other countries were not willing or able to
prevent the mass murder for a long time. The
establishment of the state of Israel – which was a
necessary consequence, but happend too late
unfortunately – took place in a situation, where
after national socialism no attempts were made, to
abolish state, nation, capital and Germany, and thus
the basis for modern anti-Semitism once and for all.

Solidarity with Israel includes solidarity with its
self-defense – a fact for which nobody has to become
an enthused militarist, but on the other hand nobody
should deny the fact that military actions and police
actions always lead to abhorrent violence. Solidarity
with Israel, in any case, should be a matter of course
without the need to be explained in great detail. But
of course one should be aware of the connection
between the socialisation of capital and state with
anti-Semitism. If you are aware of that, you don’t
have to refer to doubtful arguments like “Israel is
the only democracy in the Middle East" – even if the
difference between the Israeli society and the
neighbour countries is quite obvious – but you can
simply state: Solidarity with the state of the
survivors of the Shoah is no accidental accessory of
criticizing political economy in order to establish
general emancipation, but its necessary consequence.

In this context, Zionism is not the right answer to
anti-Semitism, but for the time being, it is the only
answer possible. (The “right" answer still being the
free association of free individuals, a liberated
society, in which people can be individuals without
fear and compulsion)

Here you see that the categorical imperative in the
version of Karl Marx and in that of Theodor W. Adorno
do not contradict themselves in any way: Adorno wrote:
“Hitler has imposed a new categorical imperative
upon humanity in the state of their unfreedom: to
arrange their thinking and conduct, so that Auschwitz
never repeats itself, so that nothing similar ever
happen again." This can only be achieved bearing in
mind Marx’s "categorical imperative to overthrow all
those conditions in which man is an abased, enslaved,
abandoned, contemptible being." From a materialistic
point of view, the Zionist categorical imperative
would then be, roughly: As long as there are people,
who feel committed to Marx’s imperative, but don’t
succeed in implementing it in any way, we try to
follow Adorno’s imperative by providing the physical
integrity of Jews with force.

Stephan Grigat graduated from the free university in
Berlin, is a lecturer for political science at Vienna
University and works as a free author in Tel Aviv. The
homepage of the group Café Critique can be found
under  http://www.cafecritique.priv.at"



__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 
http://mail.yahoo.com 




More information about the Marxism mailing list