[Marxism] To combat left anti-semitism, Corbynism must change the way it sees the world

A.R. G amithrgupta at gmail.com
Wed Mar 28 11:27:38 MDT 2018


" Last week, the left lost a vital light leading the way out of the
impasses of left anti-semitism. Moishe Postone was a Canadian academic
famous for his trenchant critique of the affinities between forms of
anti-capitalism and anti-semitic conspiracy theory. This critique has
wielded tremendous impact on the German left in particular, but in the UK
its lessons have been sadly neglected."

Translation: This cesspool
<https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/the-germans-lefts-palestine-problem> is
something to aspire to. The "tremendous impact" that Postone had on the
German left is the widespread apologetics for Zionism on the left using the
spectre of a sort of amorphous, international anti-Semitism that wears a
leftist guise, making all support for Palestinian rights intrinsically
suspicious at best.

"It is also why, as the sociologist David Hirsh has argued, anti-semitism
can present itself as a progressive and emancipatory force, a valiant
attempt to rid the world of the evils dragging it down. It replicates the
way that anti-migrant racism has become a sign of one’s commitment to a
downtrodden “white working class” in the aftermath of Brexit."

For those of you who are unfamiliar with "sociologist David Hirsh," he is
one of the mouthpieces of the left anti-Semitism trope that believes that
boycotts aimed at Israel are intrinsically anti-Semitic. He was also one of
the louder voices attempting to portray Ken Livingstone as an anti-Semite
and arguing that leftist denunciations of their accusers as Zionists was
itself of a form of "anti-Semitism".

"Postone’s analysis begins by making a distinction between anti-semitism
and “other forms of racism,” one which Corbyn has notoriously found
difficult to express. Plenty of other racial and ethnic groups are
despised. But, Postone suggested, it is only Jews who are suspected of
secretly controlling the world."

This sentiment, which more or less sums up the poisonous nature of the
argument, is complete nonsense. Muslims are regularly accused of exactly
that, as we saw with the attempts to suggest that President Obama, Hillary
Clinton, Huma Abedin, and the State Department are all tools or enablers of
the Muslim Brotherhood. The belief that WASPs are inordinately influential
is also not uncommon. Nor were such exaggerated beliefs about the Catholic
Church. Exaggerating a minority group's influence to ridiculous levels in
order to scapegoat them is not unique to anti-Semitism. Nor is it even the
prevalent form of discrimination that serves such a purpose.

The effect of constantly searching through Corbynism and anti-imperialism
generally -- for any inkling of an anti-Semitic trope is that it is near
impossible to talk about those Jewish communities that objectively *do* wield
influence as a function of racism. Zionist groups in the US and Europe are
an obvious example but there is also the post-1970s transition of Jews into
mainstream America such that sociologists in Jewish literature regularly
describe them as an integrated or even elite minority group that
intermarries with the pre-existing dominant elite in America (e.g. WASPs
like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, whose kids are married to Jews
without much notice from anyone). The end result of these kinds of pieces
is to serve as the discursive arm of the pro-Israel right that is seeking
to undercut Corbyn and pressure him to push away people like Livingstone,
Galloway, Machover, and more importantly, Britain's younger Muslim
generation.

Amith R. Gupta



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