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

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Fri Aug 4 13:17:17 MDT 2006

From: <Loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net>

> 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
It is a different thing, yes, but racist language directed towards a people 
two-thirds of whom were wiped off the face of the earth 60 years ago is not 
the same as racist language towards white people in general, also. Real 
anti-semitism, especially when it involves praise for the Nazis, Holocaust 
denial, and the like, is a different category to other types of resentment 
towards the oppressor. It may not be intended as such, but in the context it 
does have meanings that are specific and potent.

Now, I know that in any major conflict either side demonise their enemy, 
often in ethnic/racial terms. One can understand why this happens (and I do 
understand anti-semitism on the part of the Palestinians or other Arabs - 
though that doesn't mean I wouldn't still oppose it), and that can be a 
reasonable line to take. But actively lending support to any type of 
demonisation of whole groups of people purely on account of what they were 
born to is not something any Marxist should countenance, in my opinion. Not 
least because it offers false solutions  - the problems of global capitalism 
and imperialism will not be changed by one group assuming power over some 
land instead of another. Romanticising and idealising oppressed people is 
really just the flip-side of racism - it's equally dehumanising.

These issues (like all issues) should be about manifestations of power and 
oppression, not about innate qualities of particular whole groups of people.


More information about the Marxism mailing list