Working Class Political Theory - Israel, Palestine and The Lebanon

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baboon
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Aug 23 2006 12:47

The problem is the ambiguity that creeps in to a lot of these posts over conditional support for nationalism. The ICC's position is not abstract but eminently concrete: internationalism v nationalism in all its forms. Revol says about "the reality on the ground" (another ambiguous statement). Your post on the IRA was similarly ambiguous. You say you understand why they existed but didn't support them. I accept that. But what did you understand, what conclusion did you draw for working class activity in Ireland (or Palestine/Lebanon today)? It is not clear what you understood and, therefore, what your analysis is? "Engaging with reality and understanding the dynamic" sounds good, and if you don't tend to support these local nationalist gangs, then what do you understand of the dynamic?
This is a thread marked theory, and as useful as the discussion has been on how workers in difficult situations can make contacts, I repeat that the overriding lesson for the whole of the working class from events in the Middle East is the spread of war (and poverty) which is the hallmark of decomposing capitalism and thus the "raising of the stakes" in the class struggle. I understand that and that is why I understand the wars in Iraq (oil workers' strike reported yesterday), Sudan, the Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, the Great Lakes... And I understand the oppositional forces of the local bourgeoisie and the general machinations of the major imperialisms in all those wars. The change in the last 15 years has been the strengthening tendency of "every imperialism for itself" with the collapse of the blocs, ushering in not "a period of peace and prosperity" but chaos and war. It doesn't seem very difficult to see and understand that this analysis truely engages with "the reality on the ground".

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 23 2006 13:33

Hi

revol68 wrote:
You still haven't told me the difference between supporting struggles against the manifestations of the occupation and suporting struggles against the occupation?

There's not much between them. Hamas suicide bombers are against the occupation both in its ideological and practical forms. You don’t support them, do you, revol68. So in that regard, you prop the occupation up.

Love

LR

magnifico
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Aug 23 2006 14:26
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hamas suicide bombers are against the occupation both in its ideological and practical forms.

I disagree. I think Hamas are probably quite keen on many of the practical forms that the occupation takes, they just disagree with who is administering them.

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jef costello
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Aug 23 2006 16:50
magnifico wrote:
I disagree. I think Hamas are probably quite keen on many of the practical forms that the occupation takes, they just disagree with who is administering them.

I think making a distinction between Hamas the organisation and the frequently young suicide bombers in terms of motivation would be useful here.
Also I'd be interested to know if the invasion of Iraq, and the attendant end of payments to the families of suicide mombers had any effects.

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 23 2006 17:37

Hi

magnifico wrote:
I think Hamas are probably quite keen on many of the practical forms that the occupation takes, they just disagree with who is administering them.

Well that’s true enough. Whether Hamas are practically for-or-against the occupation as conventionally understood is arguable, as you say. You’re making my point for me, which is that by simply “calling for an end to the occupation” without explaining what that means, specifically, technically and in detail, one is really propping up the occupation by one bourgeois faction or another.

I think a better way of setting out the stall, and avoiding quibbling over esoteric matters such as being against the occupation and being against its effects is to advocate something positive rather than join in the liberal campaign against “Israeli oppression” simply because they are the stronger of two anti-working class factions. And this isn’t merely a matter of principle, when working class groups emerge that do endorse this position, I expect the fact that we’ve stuck to our principles without regard to crass opportunism in promoting Hamas’ agenda will serve us well.

This is why I advocate the free movement, residence and compensation for Palestinians, and I seek to develop the positive aspects of attacks on checkpoints and the like, but have no truck with suicide bombings and other actions which can only express religious and racial hatred, despite them being as authentically “against the Israeli occupation” as anything else.

Love

LR

magnifico
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Aug 23 2006 21:07
Lazy Riser wrote:
magnifico wrote:
I think Hamas are probably quite keen on many of the practical forms that the occupation takes, they just disagree with who is administering them.

Well that’s true enough. Whether Hamas are practically for-or-against the occupation as conventionally understood is arguable, as you say. You’re making my point for me, which is that by simply “calling for an end to the occupation” without explaining what that means, specifically, technically and in detail, one is really propping up the occupation by one bourgeois faction or another.

I think a better way of setting out the stall, and avoiding quibbling over esoteric matters such as being against the occupation and being against its effects is to advocate something positive rather than join in the liberal campaign against “Israeli oppression” simply because they are the stronger of two anti-working class factions. And this isn’t merely a matter of principle, when working class groups emerge that do endorse this position, I expect the fact that we’ve stuck to our principles without regard to crass opportunism in promoting Hamas’ agenda will serve us well.

This is why I advocate the free movement, residence and compensation for Palestinians, and I seek to develop the positive aspects of attacks on checkpoints and the like, but have no truck with suicide bombings and other actions which can only express religious and racial hatred, despite them being as authentically “against the Israeli occupation” as anything else.

Yes, I agree with all of this, so I don't mind 'making your point for you' wink

magnifico wrote:
when I hear someone calling for an end to the occupation I assume they are calling for a paletinian state - that Israel should withdraw to the '67 boundaries etc., whereas we as internationalists I woulld have thought should be arguing that it is the checkpoints, curfews, arrests etc that are the problem, not the fact that they are being administered by jewish rather than palestinian soldiers. So I'd say it is how the palestinian working class is being treated that is the problem, not the territorial configuration of the area....I understand Alf when he says that calling for an end to the occupation is ambiguous.

baboon
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Aug 25 2006 13:51

I agree with Ret over the IRA in his post a couple of days ago. I remember the IRA being called "I Ran Away" in the late 60 by a catholic population under the cosh. Shortly afterwards the IRA undertook a series of joint patrols with the British army. Any effective fight back for the working class in Ireland at the time was completely subverted by the strength of Irish nationalism and the success of Britain's divide and rule policy.
The IRA regrouped, deepened its nationalist propaganda and actions,and found a Godfather in the US bourgeoisie. During the latter part of the 70s and the 80s, the IRA was effectively given full diplomatic status in Washington, had direct access to the Administration and was used by the US bourgeoisie as a weapon in its imperialist machinations against Britain.
Though different time, circumstances and geography, the nationalism of the IRA and Hamas/Hezbollah are similar and, if the prospect of a working class response was severly limited in the 1960s/70s, then what perspective of an effective working class response in the war zones of the Middle East (without ruling some expression of it out)?
And this is the point about Revols "reality on the ground" that he says he bases his understanding on. What "reality on the ground"? Whose? What was "the reality on the ground in Ireland that gave Revol his (certainly not clear to me) "understanding" of the situation? And what of "the reality on the ground" in Gaza or Lebanon today - whose reality - CNN's, Hezbollah, the BBC's, Revols? If you are going to base your "understanding" on "the reality on the ground", if the latter is erroneous or ambiguous so, at least, will the former be. "The reality on the ground" is a meaningless, ambiguous, slippery phrase which can justify all sorts of confusions and get-outs. My framework for understandinig the situation in the M.East is inter-imperialist rivalries from a working class point of view. Your "reality on the ground" is making it up as you go along (the wishful thinking so common to libertarianism) leaving you unable to take a clear position and can easily lead to support for one faction of the bourgeoisie.

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Aug 25 2006 14:54

Baboon; I'm not sure if you realise my post about Bogside/IRA was a critical response to what I saw as your unfair attempt to misinterpret Revol's support for the Bogside defence as his being ambiguous on the IRA.

baboon
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Sep 1 2006 12:38

Yes, I understood that Ret and agreed with you where I agreed with you and gave some supplementary info on the IRA's joint patrols with the British Army. On the substantive point about being "unfair" to revol's position I don't agree at all. His positions are always ambiguous because he doesn't have a framework and all his talk about "engaging with reality and understanding the dynamic" come to nothing. One thing is for sure, if revol had been in Northern Ireland in the late 60s, early 70s, he would have had to be extremely careful what he said to whom because the "dynamic" coming from the situation of the catholic population was the strengthening of the IRA and its terror apparatus (the same for the protestant gangs). This lack of a clear perspective for the working class in Ireland at the time can be guaged by the importance of the catholic and protestant postal workers' strike which took place some 30 odd years later.
Revol says that he bases his understanding on "the reality on the ground". Whenever anyone starts to talk about "the reality on the ground" head for the theoretical hills because what usually follows is ambiguous at best and, in most cases, ends up supporting one faction of the bourgeoisie or the other. How does revol know "the reality on the ground" in Lebanon (or Ireland 40 years ago)? Of course he doesn't because he starts from a snapshot that has been provided to him by who - CNN, the BBC, Hezbollah or Israeli channels? The only way to "(engage) with reality and understand the dynamic" (revol), is to work first of all from a global, internationalist dynamic. This will provide you with the best tools to understand "the reality on the ground" in Ireland, Lebanon or any other of the increasing imperialist war zones around the world.

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Alf
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Sep 1 2006 13:04

Agree with Baboon of course - having a clearer general framework makes the "reality on the ground" much clearer as well. Cf the Libcom news item "Class war in Palestine" and the "Palestinian workers demand wages from PA" thread on Current Affairs.

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Felix Frost
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Sep 1 2006 16:37

Just out of curiosity: What does the ICC think of Marx' call to end the English occupation of Ireland? Was he also soft on nationalism?

Or perhaps this was a fair demand to make back in the days of ascending capitalism when it was still possible to fight for meaningful reforms, while today during its decadence, the only meaningful activity left for radical workers are either wildcat strikes or attending boring ICC meetings?

General Council of the International Workers Association wrote:
The General Council’s resolution on the Irish amnesty serves only as an introduction to other resolutions which will affirm that, apart from ordinary international justice, it is a precondition for the emancipation of the English working class to transform the present forced union (that is, the enslavement of Ireland) into an equal and free confederation, if possible, or complete separation, if need be.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 1 2006 19:14
revol68 wrote:
And I don't get my fucking information from BBC, CNN or hezbullah TV.

just to point out to revol and baboon, all of the sources for the civil service strike article were corporate media (if you include the agencies, reuters et al) or Hezbollah (for their statements). i just had to piece it together from different places into what seemed a coherent (libertarian communist) perspective, same as the BBC or whoever do from a liberal capitalist perspective. The raw info is all there in the corporate press, but the message is between the lines.

Its factual, but ultimately its propaganda, for the same reasons the BBC is; the difference being i don't present it as 'balanced' and 'objective' and its on a site that explicitly declares it's class allegiance/political position so readers can add the appropriate grains of salt. Thus at least its honest propaganda, which is as good as news from any one source gets imho.

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Alf
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Sep 1 2006 19:50

Felix: are you really curious or do you already think you know our answer?

Yes, we think that Marx was right to support some national struggles in his day. Fundamentally because creating new nation states was a precondition for the formation of a world economy and thus for the world revolution. Today the very existence of nation states is a source of endless war which, if it reaches its ultimate conclusion, could destroy all possibility of communism. What do you think?

joelalevitt
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Sep 1 2006 20:43

The Israeli/Palestinian struggle is a clear case of cultural chauvinisms and of workers and chains. The only just resolution will result from negotiations by the parties, themselves, toward two cooperative and independent states. We can play a positive role through our investment and purchasing choices and by petitioning our governments to force the parties to the negotiating table.

Cultural chauvinism is a root cause. This was manifest in the 1920 murders of Jewish settlers inspired by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who was seeking Islamic purity for the region, and this motivation continues today among the members of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamic fundamentalist movements. Cultural chauvinism is also evidenced by the present Jewish religious justification that has motivated many of the illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied territories.

There are similar conflicts within each of the Israeli and Palestinian communities. There is a dominance struggle between the religious and secular factions in both communities. There are other factors that militate against a single state, but these dominance struggles are, perhaps, the most important. If a single state was formed, the Israelis would inevitably try to use the Palestinian struggle for their own advantage, and the Palestinians would do the same visa vis the Israelis. It will be hard enough to resolve these struggles if each community has its own state. It would be impossible, within a shared single state.

The leaders of the two communities are enjoying prestige and economic advantage; the workers are suffering. In Israel, the excessive war budget has led to ~20% unemployment, to 25% of the population living in poverty, to more than 20% of the children being malnourished, to increasing delinquency, and to local governments defaulting on their obligations to the aged. Things are worse for the Palestinians: in many cases their salaries are not being paid; some of their land has been confiscated and some of their homes have been destroyed. They are not permitted to build new homes or to improve their present homes. Their ability to travel or to ship goods is almost non-existent, and unemployment in Gaza has just risen to 73%. Both sets of leaders are corrupt, and both communities are experiencing the death and maiming of their youth.

Still, there are people who are able to hope and to work toward realizing their hopes. These people realize that given peace, Israel will be the Palestinian's best channel to western technology, business methods and markets, and the Palestinians will be Israel's best channel to Arab markets. For some years, these Palestinian and Israeli people have had some success working together on water distribution, and they know that only joint action will enable them to deal with the pollution problems that plague the region. Recently, a group of Palestinian pre-university teachers have begun teaching about the similarities between the historic Jewish and Palestinian experiences. Similarly, Haifa University has instituted an MBA program for Palestinians. Jointly, the Isreali Palestinian Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) has begun providing Gazan farmers with classes on meeting the ISO criteria that will facilitate trade with the EU. Finally, the several joint Israeli/Palestinian agricultural settlements must be mentioned.

Can we help to bring relief to suffering workers? Yes! Is a negotiated cooperative-two-state peace possible? Yes! Can we help to promote such a peace? Yes!

When we make purchases, we can purchase Palestinian and Israeli goods, providing income to Palestinian and Israeli workers. On the other hand, at moments of particularly outrageous actions we can publicly organize focused boycotts. We can follow the example of the United Church of Canada (UCC), which just resolved to continue to work with Jews and Arabs in order to promote peace and carry out financial investments in Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank of the Jordan. Perhaps most important, we can send money to the woefully under-funded groups of Palestinians and Israelis which are devoting most of their energies to promoting peace.

OIL and the sale of MUNITIONS -- most of our governments, including those of the US, Russia, China and France, are motivated by their own economic interests. Therefore, peace negotiations must be carried on by the Israelis and Palestinians, themselves, and they can be successful. Former Israeli Government and PLO members met in Switzerland and negotiated about the most divisive issues -- the withdrawal of settlements, shared sovereignty over Jerusalem, the return and/or compensation of refugees.... And, in 2004, they produced a model treaty, the Geneva Accord.

The very survival of the Palestinians and of the Israelis depends on the goodwill of the international community of nations. If the international community commands with one voice that the parties' governments negotiate and if the international community means it, then negotiate they will. A cooperative-two-state peace may not be in the short term interest of every nation, but I believe that it can be shown that in the long run everyone will benefit. I hope that each of us will undertake to demonstrate the truth of this belief, and will work to get our governments to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians to the negotiating table.

In peace,

Joel

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 1 2006 20:46

welcome to the boards joel, thats quite a long post, is it a cut and paste?

I don't doubt this statement:

joelalevitt wrote:
If the international community commands with one voice that the parties' governments negotiate and if the international community means it, then negotiate they will.

but i'd imagine any settlement reached this way will be simply a new division of power between israeli and palestinian bosses ... palestinian workers are getting a taste of what bosses of their 'own' culture are like in the current pay dispute.

As it stands i think at least the permanent threat of conflict suits the ruling class factions on all sides because it allows them to play up cultural/national chauvinism and thus perpetuate the idea that ordinary palestinians and israelis have common interests with their rulers. In this sense i don't see cultural chauvinism as a root cause, but a tool used by nationalists (right-zionists, the grand mufti, Hamas ...) to stir up conflicts which justify their power.

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Sep 1 2006 21:12

Joel: welcome. Are you from Israel originally?

I do agree with Joseph K’s post.You don’t seem to consider the central problem of class exploitation.

You write as if capitalism, ie a system where there is no common interest between the ruling class and the exploited class, can come to rational decisions which are of benefit to all. Many people on this board would, I hope, agree with me when I say that rational, peaceful solutions to the fundamental issues facing humanity are impossible in the present social system; and if anywhere on earth proves it, it's the Middle East.

In other words, that the capitalist system, the one you seem to pin such hopes on to develop new technologies and opportunities for people in the Middle East, has an inbuilt drive towards war. I would go further and say that this drive is increasingly out of control.

The majority of people on this board would also tend to think that the solution for the workers and the oppressed in Israel and Palestine does not lie in the formation of a new capitalist state, or two new capitalist states. They would also, in general, argue that the only road to peace lies through the class war and a revolution against the present system.

Felix: One other point.. I have just started a thread on the ‘London’ section advertising a meeting we are holding on the war and the Middle East on 16 September: http://libcom.org/forum/755. I don’t think we have ever reduced our proposals to the working class to “wildcat strikes and boring ICC meetings”. But obviously we do think public meetings organised by revolutionaries are in general a good thing, and once again we challenge all those who insist (either from experience or mere hearsay)that our meetings are boring to come and transform them into something more interesting. They are not called forums for nothing. I don’t know where you’re located, Felix, but there are ICC meetings in other places than London or Britain.

Revol: once again you write before you think. In what sense are we being uncritical of Fatah? I said I agreed with the libcom article which was already very clear about the possible manipulations of Fatah, but was still able to affirm the importance of this struggle. Here is the concrete, the real movement, and you are fast asleep, still dreaming of something hypothetical.

joelalevitt
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Sep 1 2006 21:18

Joseph,

I agree. The tendency for wealth to accumulate in fewer and fewer hands and the need to periodically redistribute was recognized at least as long ago as the writing of Deuteronomy. I also agree that the ruling classes (Israeli, Palestinian and just about all others) will resist redistribution in every way they can.

I'm afraid that, given human greed and fear, our best efforts will never solve this problem, but will only produce an oscillating situation, though hopefully oscillating around an improving trend. If there is ever to be a nearly permanent solution, it will only be because technology advances to the point that each individual controls his/her means of production. Even then, family dynamics and the need for centralized educational facilities will still be with us.

So let's keep on bobbing and weaving and minimizing poverty and maximizing freedom.

Meanwhile, average Israelis and Palestinians are in pain. Remembering the need for fundamental change, let's focus on relieving that pain, now.

In Peace,

Joel

PS: No my previous note was not "a cut and paste." I'm just verbose.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 1 2006 21:32
joelalevitt wrote:
I'm afraid that, given human greed and fear, our best efforts will never solve this problem, but will only produce an oscillating situation, though hopefully oscillating around an improving trend. If there is ever to be a nearly permanent solution, it will only be because technology advances to the point that each individual controls his/her means of production.

I actually stood up at a meeting on israel-palestine when i was 18/19 and suggested human greed was the main problem, and didn't get much in the way of coherent counter-argument. I now feel a bit silly having changed my mind, but its a common view.

i don't think the distribution of wealth is so much the fault of human greed or that the concentration of wealth has much to do with technological advance - workers don't control the means of production (the source of wealth) because the state enforces private property (as opposed to personal/usufructal/communal), not because of a technological lack or a general human trait. There's an excellent Adam Smith quote on this:

Adam Smith wrote:
Law and governments may be considered in this and indeed in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise soon be destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence

joelalevitt wrote:
PS: No my previous note was not "a cut and paste." I'm just verbose.

embarrassed ok sorry, some people tend to just post a long copy and pasted thing from their blog and then not stick around to debate it, you're obviously not doing that.

joelalevitt
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Sep 1 2006 21:44

Alf,

No, I'm not from Israel.

I'm from a neighborhood in the Bronx, New York City, where, 65 years ago, no one locked their doors, where every adult took on the job of raising all children, and where neighbors succored their neighbors when they were in trouble.

Unfortunately, like all things, this neighborhood has passed and no longer exists. Fortunately, this happens to bad things, too.

In Peace,

Joel

joelalevitt
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Sep 1 2006 22:13

Joseph,

I doubt that you were ever silly. I think I was conceptually redundant -- please strike greed, I think that it is a consequence of fear.

You and Adam Smith propose a weighty argument, but I disagree. Governments need both the ruling classes and the workers to survive. So they attempt to achieve an acceptable compromise by aggrandizing both. Sometimes, the workers or the ruling classes or some other category of people capture the government and hold it exclusively for too long. Then the balance is restored through violence.

Our history in the U.S. is too brief to be used to prove the point, but I think the cycling of power in Europe since the rise of the Roman Republic goes a long way in this direction.

In Peace,

Joel

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Sep 1 2006 22:35
joelalevitt wrote:
Sometimes, the workers or the ruling classes or some other category of people capture the government and hold it exclusively for too long. Then the balance is restored through violence.

well, i have quite a different view, that there is no neccessity for society to be divided into rulers and ruled, and that social history is largely the struggles between these groups (class struggle). obviously available technologies, biogeography etc also play a part, but i'd say that they simply define the terrain on which class struggle takes place.

I'm not sure what cycling of power you're referring to in europe, but most changes in the state have been in order to maintain a postion of social control either through concessions (e.g. britain's post-war welfare state) or repression (e.g. allied post-war actions in greece and italy). I think ordinary people are perfectly capable of running their own affairs - the organisational forms to do this have been thrown up repeatedly throughout history - particularly workers' councils and their ilk - and offer a way out of the closed cycles you describe, by abolishing the state rather than seeking to capture it.

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Sep 2 2006 02:24

Baboon says he agrees with my comments on the IRA - well, what I said was that it was unfair to say that Revol was ambiguous on the IRA just because he defended the Battle of the Bogside, which was not an IRA act. If Baboon agrees with this, he is accepting that his criticism of Revol is wrong. So he is accepting that his grasp of 'the reality on the ground' (of which he is so dismissive) was inaccurate and misleading, and that Revol was correct on this point. Though Baboon doesn't write as if he knows this is the case, nor has he acknowledged his error.
A grasp of the particular conditions in which struggle occurs, its specific situations, are not separate from the international perspective - it's a false opposition. Unless you're only dealing in grandiose platitudes.

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Sep 2 2006 06:36

The point is Revol that you have never understood our position that we support all struggles of the working class on its own terrain no matter how much the unions or leftists or even nationalists may be trying to control, influence and manipulate it.

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Sep 2 2006 09:37
joelalevitt wrote:
I think I was conceptually redundant -- please strike greed, I think that it is a consequence of fear.

Fear is one of the components of the indoctrination that we undergo. That is why many people are incapable of conceptualising a society which doesn't have a ruling class and where we are not pitted against one another.

I think perhaps you fall into this trap yourself, although I am not sure if you are describing what you see or what you think is a permanent state of affairs.

Quote:
well, i have quite a different view, that there is no neccessity for society to be divided into rulers and ruled, and that social history is largely the struggles between these groups (class struggle). obviously available technologies, biogeography etc also play a part, but i'd say that they simply define the terrain on which class struggle takes place.

I don't think Joel has described it as a necessity, but seems to see it as more of an inevitability, hence the reference to greed/fear earlier. Human beings are not necessarily competitive so I think we can be optimistic that cooperation can take the place of competition.

Quote:
I'm from a neighborhood in the Bronx, New York City, where, 65 years ago, no one locked their doors, where every adult took on the job of raising all children, and where neighbors succored their neighbors when they were in trouble.

Unfortunately, like all things, this neighborhood has passed and no longer exists. Fortunately, this happens to bad things, too.

I don't mean to be rude, but what is your source? Because people often talk like this about the past and it is generally not backed up by historical evidence.
Also crime has changed, 65 years ago people did not have as much to steal, with consumer culture everything has changed. For example in this country there has been a lot written about the increase in muggings. This is largely because the average person carries, in the form of mobile phones, ipods, laptops, PDAs etc, several hundred pounds worth of easily portable stuff, which was not the case not so long ago.

joelalevitt
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Sep 2 2006 11:58

Jef,

We evolved in an environment of scarcity, where fear is an essential characteristic. Still, I hope that you are right, and that I am wrong.

The character of my Bronx neighborhood arose because of the unifying experiences of the Great Depression and World War II. It has passed away, but I believe that, however transient, this has been the dominant character of many other locales and will be again.

I think that the character of my Bronx neighborhood was a function not of what was available to steal, but of my neighbors expectations. In the '50s, when I was an undergraduate, I sold five gallon cans of insecticide for $5 cash door-to-door in a area of Afro-American Harlem, where the police patrolled two-officers-to-a-car, two-cars-to-a-patrol. The entrances to the buildings there were always crowded by unemployed men, who had nothing better to do. Everyone knew that I was carrying cash, and it was apparent that I was defenseless. No one ever bothered me. Everyone knew that their neighbors expected them to be honest and to be proud of their honesty.

In Peace,

Joel

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Sep 2 2006 12:08

Hi

I understand there is a sizeable chunk of Lebanese opinion now highly critical of Hezbollah’s actions, especially in the context of the Israeli military retaliation. Further, and correct me if I’m wrong, but Hezbollah are on record now saying that if they’d anticipated Israel’s response, they’d never have abducted/arrested those Israeli soldiers in the first place.

I’m not clear which organisation issued the “We are all Hezbollah” placards etc, but at some point I’m going to want to hold their membership to account. Who are they?

Love

LR

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Sep 2 2006 12:24
joelalevitt wrote:
We evolved in an environment of scarcity, where fear is an essential characteristic. Still, I hope that you are right, and that I am wrong.

i don't think (biological) evolution has any direct social implications, i.e. i don't think fear is an existential part of 'the human condition', i don't really think there is such a condition, as such. There's some interesting debates around this on the 'Selfish Gene ...' reading group threads (i'm not reading the book but following the threads).

As i understand brain physiology (i.e. in a fairly laymans pop-science way), the part of our brain associated with strong feelings of fear is the amygdala, and its believed to be responsible for the 'fight or flight' responses to a threat. So we have the potential of feeling overwhelming fear, but also the potential for loads of other stuff. Which of these potentials are realised is a matter of social contingency, a space for our actions.

baboon
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Sep 2 2006 13:14

Ret, I did say that if revol says he didn't support the IRA then I accepted that. There were mixed social elements to what you call the battle of the Bogside but the nationalist element came out of it stronger. The IRA radicalised from the Officials to the Provos and all the discontent was channeled onto a nationalist and then imperialist terrain. At a time when there was an upsurge in the struggles of the proletariat internationally, what happened in Ireland, on the back of the machinations of the British state, was a defeat for the working class in Ireland and a blow against the working class on the mainland.
But what I want to demonstrate is revol's facile and empirical "understanding" of what imperialism and in large consequence internationalism really is.
How can, he asks, imperialism exist at a global level and imperialist metropoles exist at the same time (he mocks this position of myself)? First of all imperialism is the analysis and description of a global phenomena - capitalism in decline through its recourse to more and more destructive and irrational warfare (it's more than this, but this will do for starters). This fact has been amply confirmed for nearly a century now. Imperialist metropoles are the seats of the main power centres of the nation states (Moscow, Washington, London, etc., etc., etc.,)through which inter-imperialist rivalries are expressed. In fact, in direct contradiction to revol's position, not only are they not opposed, they are absolutely integral to one another - you can't have one without the other. I would have thought that this was patently obvious. Imperialism is the overall analysis of capitalism at a certain destructive stage, with a certain dynamic, and the machinations, manoeuvres, tensions, rivalries, alliances, blocs, and warfare of the imperialist metropoles are, if you like, imperialism's reality on the ground.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Sep 2 2006 13:21

Hi

revol68 wrote:
every account I have read has been saying that Hezbullah is enjoying a great rise in support, not only in Lebannon, but across the Arab world

I'm not getting much either way at the moment to be honest, I heard on Euronews, which is normally pretty dry, that there was a rising tide of anti-Hezbollah criticism on the matter. I take your point though, it was a tiny segment in a sea of noise. It plays to my hand though, you’ll have to forgive me for pursuing the story.

I’ve given up on the BBC on this. Did anyone see the news piece about the plane diverted over that woman’s hand-cream? I mean 20 minutes of the Ten O’Clock News over what looked like a stage-managed piece to advertise U.S. anti terrorist procedures, it didn’t even figure on the European news channels. It makes me wonder.

Do you know who distributed the “We are All Hezbollah” placards? I don’t. I wish someone would let me know.

Love

LR

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Alf
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Sep 2 2006 13:49

Lazy; I also read the article about the growth of resentment towards Hezbollah. I think that it's not the main trend at the moment, nor is it being expressed in anything like class terms, but the latter could certainly develop in future.

My impression on seeing the 'we are all Hizbollah' banners was that they were SWP - they had the usual style. I think they were actually signed 'Muslim Association', but I am sure the SWP would have been involved in production and distribution.

Revol, you should surely know, since you are so well-read, that our definition of imperialism comes from Luxemburg, not Lenin. For Luxemburg "no state could hold aloof" from imperialism, so she talked for example about Serbian imperialism even though she showed it was subordinate to Russian imperialism. And as Baboon says there is no contradiction between saying all states are imperialist and showing that there are 'central' capitalist countries, or 'metropoles'.

You are right about the question of class terrain - it is certainly crucial. I will have to come back to it later however.