[Marxism] One-state v two-state

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Mar 19 17:48:02 MDT 2009

Below is an interesting contribution to a debate in the CPGB at present,
being conducted openly in the pages of its paper, "Weekly Worker".
Yassamine Mather is Iranian, and was a leading figure in the Fedayeen
(Minority) during part of the 1980s.  She recently joined the CPGB.  For
American readers, the CPGB is not any kind of old pro-Moscow outfit.
They're quite pro-Trotsky these days, for instance.

Neither Nasser's pan-Arabism nor the discredited two-state solution can
be revived, argues Yassamine Mather

Centuries of colonial and imperialist domination, followed by several
decades of the rule of reactionary nationalists and Islamists, have left
the Middle East a region of unresolved national and religious conflicts.

Many nationalities, some divided across arbitrary borders drawn by the
imperialists and deprived of basic rights, make claims to vast sections
of the region and, although the Israel/Palestine conflict is the
prominent one of the region, we should remember that occupied Palestine
is not the only contested land in the Middle East. Arab nationalists,
both religious and secular, have ambitions of regaining the frontier the
Islamic state of the 7th-8th century (from the Atlantic Ocean in the
west to central Asia in the east); Christian
(Assyrian/Chaldean/Armenian) as well as Zoroastrian nationalists harbour
ambitions of revenge against Islamists; Iranian (Shia Islamists) are
obsessed with control of most of the old Persian empire well beyond the
current frontiers of Iran. Kurds have ambitions of a 'greater
Kurdistan', from Kermanshah in Iran to Istanbul in Turkey. Complicated
national and geographical claims, some with defenders who are more
fanatic than those who are currently supporting the 2,000-year-old claim
of Israelis to the land of Palestine.

These conflicting claims on the same land cannot be answered through a
simplistic interpretation of the right of nations to self-determination,
especially if they imply advocating further separation. In order to find
'realistic' solutions to the religious and national conflicts of the
Middle East, socialists should take time to study the history of the
region over the last few centuries and seek radical solutions beyond
contested territories and religious aspirations.

The Iranian left has made its own mistakes regarding many of these
disputes and I would be the last person to prescribe a solution for
Palestine or Kurdistan or Armenia. However, it is possible to look at
recent history and say with confidence that any solution involving
partition/separation would be disastrous for the long-term interests of
the working class in that region. If we are serious about defeating
imperialism and fundamentalism in the Middle East, we should avoid
reworking their proposals, which are often based on the principle of
divide and rule, and consider instead multinational, multi-ethnic
solutions as both interim and long-term means to resolve such conflicts.

As far as the Palestine/Israeli conflict is concerned, the two-state
solution, in its original format (Clinton-Kadima-PLO-Oslo accord
version), and in its new format proposed by Peter Manson and Jack
Conrad, is a good example of a 'solution' that will not work. This
article is a critique of two-state solutions, presenting some of the
arguments put forward by Israeli and Palestinian socialists in support
of a binational, single state. Accepting the right of nations to
self-determination implies listening to these voices rather than the
views of rightwing nationalists or fundamentalists from either side.

Full at:

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