[Marxism] The "anti-semitism" of the oppressed, etc.?? (was: How to answer these questions?)

Loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net Loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net
Fri Aug 4 07:20:28 MDT 2006

Ian wrote (in response to the exchange between Adam and Joaquin, but mainly
against Joaquin):
This whole thread started concerning the question of how gain support for
campaigns against Israel's current actions from moderate people who are
deterred by the very clear evidence of anti-semitism in Hizbollah and other
Arab/Palestinian organisations. This sort of angry rhetoric offers no answer
to that question - indeed it could be taken to confirm precisely the charges
routinely placed against the left, that they are themselves anti-semitic or
at the very least do not care about anti-semitism. Following your line about
Malcolm X, it almost sounds like you are saying that anti-semitism is
deserved and justified on account of the actions of Israel. Try garnering
support for a campaign on that basis.

It seems you have little notion of how powerful a weapon the anti-semitism
card when used against critics of Israel.

- - - - --- - -- - -

Ian, I -agree- that when an oppressed people lashes out with angry rhetoric
at its oppressors, the bourgeoisie can use this to make it more inconvenient
for us, who are (primarily) not of that oppressed people, doing our
solidarity work in the imperialist power.  I agree that if we then stand
with the oppressed, AS WE MUST, and correctly explain, AS WE MUST, what is
going on, there are all sorts of "cards" that the bourgeoisie can then use
against us, whether it is the "anti-semitism card", the "racism card", the
"friends of terrorists card", and so on and on, and that this might make it
more difficult for us to "garner support for a campaign".

But what are our alternatives?  Lie?  Abdicate our responsibilities?  Adapt
ourselves to the undialectical analysis of our enemies, and pretend, for
example, that the European holocaust, or pogroms under the czar, are
examples of the same thing, "anti-Semitism", as if Arabs coming out of the
devastation carrying the bodies of their children say, tears streaming down
their face, "Down with the Jews!"  It is NOT the same thing, and we can't
SAY it is the same thing, regardless of how many cards get played against
us, because we are Marxists and we have to tell the truth and analyze
society dialectically.  The national, and anti-national, sentiments of the
oppressed are not the same thing as the racism of the oppressor nation!  It
is not a matter of "tolerance", it is not a matter of being liberal and PC
and giving people a pass on account of being unwilling or afraid to
criticize them because they're oppressed.  It really is a DIFFERENT THING.  

By way of a relevant example, a Black politician here in Chicago with some
credibility as an organizer in the oppressed community made a speech here in
which he used the term "house n*****s" to refer to Black supporters of the
(Mayor, Democratic and white) Richard M. Daley administration.  Well, Daley
and the media started playing "cards" right and left, and you saw the
nauseating spectacle of Daley, a thoroughgoing racist and big-capitalist
stooge, friend of Bush, who in his days as state's attorney presided over
massive torture of Blacks by the Chicago police, telling the people of
Chicago what a shame it was that any politician would use such hurtful
language.  Do we have to go along with such crap?  Is "racist language" by
Black politicians the same thing as "racist language" by whites?  No, it's a

Now would it be both better politically and better for our own
organizational purposes if oppressed people under the gun used class
analysis or anti-imperialist language all the time?  I suppose.  However, if
we go to the oppressed and say, "Please moderate your language or use class
analysis, because you have no idea how many difficulties it makes for us to
garner support for our campaigns in Chicago or wherever", what do you
suggest we say if they ask us, "Are you serious?  What the hell good are
your campaigns likely to do us?  Are you about to get imperialism off our
backs tomorrow by mounting a campaign?  Even giving you credit for the best
possible intentions, how likely are your efforts to change the direction of
U.S. foreign policy in the next ten years? Haven't all your campaigns been
complete failures so far?  Aren't we the ones who are actually facing down
the enemy and giving our lives?  Are YOU giving your lives?  What are they
going to do to you on account of our language?  Are they going to bulldoze
your homes?  Throw you in prison?  Are they going to inflict anything on you
which is one hundredth of what they inflict on us, or for that matter which
is one hundredth what they inflict on oppressed people in your own

I think it would be difficult to come out of this exchange looking good, and
this is another reason why I believe, as I posted previously, that we should
have some faith in the notion that there will be enough socialists in the
oppressed nations to take the primary responsibility for disseminating class
analysis and anti-imperialist analysis among them, but that if that isn't
enough for us and we want to be influential with other oppressed nations in
the world ourselves, the way we are going to be influential with the
oppressed is to do our jobs and stand with them while successfully
organizing our own working class.

- - 
I should say that despite the tenor of the exchange so far I don't
necessarily think that Adam and Joaquin would necessarily address concrete
situations SO differently in practice.  Adam seems to have in mind
situations that come up in a multinational solidarity-work setting where
people are sitting around writing leaflets together.  Joaquin seems to be
thinking about arrogant, bombastic white leftists writing manifestos
lecturing people under the gun on the other side of the world.  I don't have
reason to believe that Adam really wants to write such manifestos.  I would
say, though, Adam, that the oppressed community is sometimes on the other
side of the world from the oppressor community even if it only a mile away
geographically.  Furthermore, I would gently remind some of my other white
comrades on the list that whether Joaquin knows more or less or not at all
about the practical difficulties of doing Palestine solidarity work, he
probably at any rate knows more than the rest of us about what it is to be
nationally oppressed, and what it really means when the oppressed talk about
the oppressor nationality, and I would urge some respect for that.

Lou Paulsen
member, WWP, Chicago
Blog at www.loupaulsen.blogspot.com though I haven't written anything there
in a week because I have been writing leaflets etc. instead


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