[Marxism] Re: [Left Hook] Hamas Wins Elections

Michael Smith michael.smith3 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 26 12:44:50 MST 2006

I see Hamas' victory as a pretty broad rejection of the 'peace
process,' meaning conciliation towards Israel, giving up more and more
in return for getting less and less, and cowtowing to the U.S.  In
this respect, it is a tremendous positive.  As for Hamas 'moderating'
itself, I think that would be a mistake; not only were they elected
for their rejection of Fatah-style 'moderaion' (read: capitulation),
but the idea of negotiations leading anywhere, given the requirements
of US imperialism in the region and the repeated intractability of
both Israel and the US, has pretty well been discredited by now.

Hamas is, for the most part, the only game in town for Palestinians
who wish an end to the Bourgeois-dominated politics of Fatah and its
basic goal to carve out a small space of its own in order to integrate
into the world economy.  This offers little to ordinary Palestinians. 
It is unfortunate that there isn't a secular alternative to Fatah, but
the historical reasons for this (chief among them the systematic
repression of those secular alternatives in the Middle East by the
U.S. and its clients, not to mention Israel's early backing of Hamas)
are clear.

The western media is trying to spin it as nothing more than
Palestinians' disgust with Fatah's corruption and administrative
incompetence.  I'm sure that's a part of it, but not overwhelmingly
so.  Right-wingers will spin it as a rejection of the 'peace process,'
(imbecilic as that is), and in a certain sense they're right -- it's a
rejection of the peace process as envisioned by the U.S. and Israel,
i.e. total submission of the Palestinians, giving up on the right of
return and any real resistance to Zionism in return for the
aforementioned small piece of land in which the Palestinian
bourgeoisie can operate.

Ultimately, Hamas doesn't have the right strategy for taking on and
defeating Zionism -- either in its Islamist ideology or its tactic of
takinig on Israel militarily.  True Palestinian liberation depends on
a pan-Arab working class movement that makes the Palestinian cause a
central demand.

In the short term, however, it's a tremendous blow against US
imperialism and a further sign that the people of the world won't just
lay down at the command of Bush and Co.  It's a big contrast to the
sickening sight of American officials prattling on about 'democracy'
while spending millions of dollars to influence the election
(unsuccessfully, it turns out) and placing conditions on what leaders
are 'acceptable' for the Palestinian people to choose themselves.

Do we really need any more reminders of the hollow nature of America's
commitment to democracy?


On 1/26/06, M. Junaid Alam <alam at lefthook.org> wrote:
> Pretty major surprise, a decisive landslide victory; the consensus was
> that they would come in a close second. Of course, now all the usual
> suspects who bloviate about democracy in Israel and the US are whining
> that they will not recognize Hamas. It reminds me of the in-vogue phrase
> these days "if you really had elections across the Arab world, they'd
> elect bin Laden."
> In all seriousness though, I think the Hamas win is a positive
> development, for several reasons.
>  One: it is easy as an opposition group to spout radical slogans,
> criticize, make outrageous claims - but as a leading party, the opposite
> is true. Hamas is going to have get serious politically, forget about
> all its fantasy-land rhetoric of destroying Israel, and becoming
> politically pragmatic if it wants to remain relevant now. That is, it is
> going to need to develop a program of resistance that will produce
> results on the ground, whereas before it could simply feed off frustration.
>  Two: Fatah was a completely and thoroughly corrupt entity which needed
> a good drubbing. Fatah is the most unsuccessful, wasteful nationalist
> movement among oppressed peoples of the entire 20th century. It was
> capable of delivering almost nothing to the Palestinian masses.
> Nepotism, corruption, internecine bickering, weakness in front of Israel
> - these were the hallmarks.
> And three: the rise of Hamas means that for once the Palestinian side of
> any negotiating event will finally be infused with some backbone. Fatah
> allowed Israel to grant Arafat a para-state in which Fatah was sort of
> the leading gang, in return for Arafat's acceptance of a prison-cell
> with a sticker label, that is, a ghetto-ized set of enclaves which the
> Israelis called a real "offer" for "independence. Detailed accounts of
> how Fatah operated at negotiations themselves is similarly pathetic;
> they showed up without maps, without concrete demands  - just amazing
> amount of carelessness.
> Of course, in an ideal, world, the Hamas win is not an ideal solution.
> Most leftists would like to see a nationalist/socialist party arise in
> the Islamic world, a kind of Islamic counterpart to Hugo Chavez, and not
> these Islamists. But that's just not in the cards at the moment. The
> idea of nationalism and socialism was thoroughly discredited in the Arab
> world when  (a) Israel humiliated all the Soviet-backed Arab countries
> in the Six Day War in 1967, (b) the nationalist regimes ossified into
> the corrupt, deadened, police-run dictatorships they are now (Tunisia,
> Libya, Syria, to a lesser extent Egypt), and (c) they all capitulated in
> open or de facto to Israeli expansionism.
> In this context, Islamist politics has become the vehicle for
> anti-government and anti-imperialist sentiment throughout the Arab
> world. But a lot of their popularity is based on the fact that they can
> play the underdog card; if and when they rise to power in a democratic
> setting, they will quickly need to re-calibrate, or will be replaced if
> they do not deliver results in terms of an economic program and
> political security.
> There is, however, one force that can retard this process: continued
> massive violence by Israel and the United States. This will undoubtedly
> forestall any internal progress in these countries as they remain
> concerned first and foremost with the spectre of external threats. Sound
> familiar?
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